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Title: An Account of the Abipones, an Equestrian People of Paraguay, (2 of 3)
Author: Martin Dobrizhoffer, - To be updated
Language: English
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                             THE ABIPONES,

                          AN EQUESTRIAN PEOPLE





                          _IN THREE VOLUMES._

                                VOL. II.

                     JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET.


                     London: Printed by C. Roworth,
                         Bell-yard, Temple-bar.

                                VOL. II.

                                PART II.


    Chap. I. Of the Territory, Origin, and various
    Names of the Abipones                                         1

    II. Of the natural Colour of the Americans                    8

    III. Of the Persons of the Abipones, and the
    Conformation of their Bodies                                 12

    IV. Of the ancient and universal Methods of
    disfiguring the Person                                       19

    V. Of the Perforation of the Lips and Ears of the
    Savages                                                      24

    VI. Of the Strength and Longevity of the Abipones            31

    VII. Why the Abipones are so vigorous and
    long-lived                                                   41

    VIII. Of the Religion of the Abipones                        57

    IX. Of the Conjurors, or rather of the Jugglers
    and Cheats of the Abipones                                   67

    X. Conjectures why the Abipones take the Evil
    Spirit for their Grandfather, and the Pleiades for
    the Representation of him                                    88

    XI. Of the Division of the Abiponian Nation, of
    their Paucity, and of the chief causes thereof               95

    XII. Of the Magistrates, Captains, Caciques, &c.
    of the Abipones, and of their Forms of Government           100

    XIII. Of the Food, Journeys, and other particulars
    of the Economy of the Abipones                              110

    XIV. Of the Form and Materials of Clothing, and of
    the Fabric of other Utensils                                127

    XV. Of the Manners and Customs of the Abipones              136

    XVI. Of the Language of the Abipones                        157

    XVII. Concerning other Peculiarities of the
    Abiponian Tongue                                            183

    XVIII. Of the Weddings of the Abipones                      207

    XIX. Of the Marriage of the Abipones                        210

    XX. Games on the Birth of the Male Child of a
    Cacique                                                     216

    XXI. Of the Diseases, Physicians, and Medicines of
    the Abipones                                                219

    XXII. Of a certain Disease peculiar to the
    Abipones                                                    233

    XXIII. Of Measles, Small-Pox, and the Murrain in
    Cattle                                                      238

    XXIV. Of the Physicians and Medicines of the
    Abipones                                                    248

    XXV. Of the Rites which accompany and succeed the
    Death of an Abipon                                          265

    XXVI. Of the Mourning, the Exequies, and Funeral
    Ceremonies of the Abipones                                  273

    XXVII. Of the customary Removal of the Bones                281

    XXVIII. Of the more remarkable Serpents                     286

    XXIX. More on the same Subject; and respecting
    other Insects                                               295

    XXX. Of Remedies for the poisonous Bites of
    Insects                                                     303

    XXXI. Of other noxious Insects, and their Remedies          312

    XXXII. Continuation of the same Subject                     324

    XXXIII. Of the Military Dispositions of the
    Abipones                                                    347

    XXXIV. Of the Arms of the Abipones                          352

    XXXV. Of the Scouts, and War Councils of the
    Abipones                                                    363

    XXXVI. Of the hostile Expeditions, Provisions, and
    Camps of the Abipones                                       369

    XXXVII. Of the Assault, and the Measures preceding
    it                                                          375

    XXXVIII. By what Means the Abipones render
    themselves formidable, and when they are justly to
    be dreaded                                                  385

    XXXIX. Of those who go under the Name of Spanish
    Soldiers in Paraguay                                        395

    XL. What is the Fate of the Slain amongst the
    Abiponian Victors                                           408

    XLI. Concerning the Arms of the Abipones, and
    their Battle Array in fighting with other Savages           413

    XLII. Of the Anniversary Memorial of Victories,
    and the Rites of a public Drinking-Party                    428

    XLIII. Of the Abiponian Rites on occasion of any
    one's being declared Captain                                440

                             THE ABIPONES.

                                PART II.

                               CHAPTER I.

                             THE ABIPONES.

The Abipones inhabit the province Chaco, the centre of all Paraguay;
they have no fixed abodes, nor any boundaries, except what fear of their
neighbours has established. They roam extensively in every direction,
whenever the opportunity of attacking their enemies, or the necessity of
avoiding them renders a journey advisable. The northern shore of the Rio
Grande or Bermejo, which the Indians call Iñatè, was their native land
in the last century. Thence they removed, to avoid the war carried on
against Chaco by the Spaniards of Salta, at the commencement of this
century, and migrating towards the south, took possession of a valley
formerly held by the Calchaquis. This territory, which is about two
hundred leagues in extent, they at present occupy. But from what region
their ancestors came there is no room for conjecture. Ychamenraikin,
chief cacique of the Abipones in the town of St. Jeronymo, told us,
that, after crossing the vast waters, they were carried hither on an
ass, and this he declared he had heard from ancient men. I have often
thought that the Americans originally came, step by step, from the most
northern parts of Europe, which are perhaps joined to America, or
separated only by a narrow firth. We have observed some resemblance in
the manners and customs of the Abipones to the Laplanders, and people of
Nova Zembla, and we always noticed in these savages a magnetical
propensity to the north, as if they inclined towards their native soil;
for when irritated by any untoward event, they cried in a threatening
tone—_Mahaik quer ereëgem_, I will go to the north; though this threat
meant that they would return to the northern parts of Paraguay, where
their savage compatriots live at this day, free from the yoke of the
Spaniards, and from Christian discipline.

But if the Americans sprung from the north of Europe, why are all the
Indians of both Americas destitute of beard, in which the northern
Europeans abound? Do not ascribe that to air, climate, and country, for
though we see some plants brought from Europe to America degenerate in a
short time, yet we find that Spaniards, Portugueze, Germans, and
Frenchmen, who in Europe are endowed with plenty of beard, never lose it
in any part of America, but that their children and grandchildren
plainly testify their European origin by their beard. If you see any
Indian with a middling-sized beard, you may be sure that his father or
grandfather was an European; for those thinly-scattered hairs, growing
here and there upon the chins of the Indians both of North and South
America, are unworthy the name of beard.

Paraguay is indeed near Africa, yet who would say that the inhabitants
migrated from thence? In that case, the Paraguayrians would be of a
black, or at any rate of a dusky leaden colour, like the Africans. The
English, Spaniards, and Portugueze know that if both parents be Negroes,
the children, in whatever country they are born, will be black, but that
the offspring of a male and female Indian are of a whitish colour, which
somewhat darkens as they grow older, from the heat of the sun, and the
smoke of the fire, which they keep alive, day and night, in their huts.
Moreover, the Americans have not woolly hair like the Negroes, but
straight, though very black locks. The vast extent of ocean which
divides Africa from the southern parts of America, renders a passage
difficult, and almost incredible, at a time when navigators, then
unfurnished with the magnet, dared scarcely sail out of sight of the
shore. The Africans, you will say, might have been cast by a storm on
the shores of America; but how could the wild beasts have got there?
Opposite to the shores of Paraguay lies the Cape of Good Hope, inhabited
by Hottentots which, in the savageness of their manners, resemble the
Paraguayrian Indians, but are totally different in the form of their
bodies, in their customs, and language. Many may, with more justice,
contend that Asia was the original country of the Americans, it being
connected with America by some hitherto undiscovered tie; and so they
may, with my free leave; nor, were I to hear it affirmed that the
Americans fell from the moon, should I offer any refutation, but having
experienced the inconstancy, volubility, and changefulness of the
Indians, should freely coincide in that opinion. The infinite variety of
tongues amongst the innumerable nations of America baffles all
conjecture in regard to their origin. You cannot discover the faintest
trace of any European, African, or Asiatic language amongst them all.

However, although I dare not affirm positively whence the Abipones
formerly came, I will at any rate tell you where they now inhabit. That
vast extent of country bounded from north to south by the Rio Grande, or
Iñatè and the territories of Sta. Fè, and from east to west by the
shores of the Paraguay, and the country of St. Iago, is the residence of
the Abipones, who are distributed into various hordes. Impatient of
agriculture and a fixed home, they are continually moving from place to
place. The opportunity of water and provisions at one time, and the
necessity of avoiding the approach of the enemy at another, obliges them
to be constantly on the move. The Abipones imitate skilful
chess-players. After committing slaughter in the southern colonies of
the Spaniards, they retire far northwards, afflict the city of Asumpcion
with murders and rapine, and then hurry back again to the south. If they
have acted hostilities against the towns of the Guaranies, or the city
of Corrientes, they betake themselves to the west. But if the
territories of St. Iago or Cordoba have been the objects of their fury,
they cunningly conceal themselves in the marshes, islands, and reedy
places of the river Parana. For the Spaniards, however desirous, are not
able to return the injuries of the savages, from the difficulty of the
roads, or their want of acquaintance with them. It sometimes happens
that a lake or marsh, which the Abipones swim with ease, obliges the
Spanish cavalry to abandon the pursuit.

The whole territory of the Abipones scarcely contains a place which has
not received a name from some memorable event or peculiarity of that
neighbourhood. It may be proper to mention some of the most famous of
these places; viz. _Netagr̂anàc Lpátage_, the bird's nest; for in this
place birds resembling storks yearly build their nests. _Liquinr̂ánala_,
the cross, which was formerly fixed here by the Spaniards. _Nihírenac
Leënerer̂quiè_, the cave of the tiger. _Paët Latetà_, the bruised teats.
_Atopehènr̂a Lauaté_, the haunt of capibaris. _Lareca Caëpa_, the high
trees. _Lalegr̂aicavalca_, the little white things. Hail of enormous
size once fell in this place, and killed vast numbers of cattle. Many
other places are named from the rivers that flow past them. The most
considerable are the Evòr̂ayè, the Parana, or Paraguay, the Iñatè, the
Rio Grande, or Vermejo, the Ychimaye, or Rio Rey, the Neboquelatèl, or
mother of palms, called by the Spaniards Malabrigo, the Narahage, or
Inespin, the Lachaoquè Nâuè, Ycalc, Ycham, &c. the Rio Negro, Verde,
Salado, &c.

In the sixtieth year of the present century, many families of Abipones
removed, some to the banks of the Rio Grande, others to the more distant
northern parts. The last Abiponian colony was nearly ten leagues north
of the Rio Grande, in which situation we found that the Toba savages,
who call themselves Nataguebit, had formerly resided.

                              CHAPTER II.


When European painters have represented a man of a dark complexion,
naked and hairy from head to foot, with flat distorted nostrils,
threatening eyes, and a vast belly, a monster, in short, armed with a
quiver, bow, arrows, and a club, and crowned with feathers of various
colours, they think they have made an admirable portrait of an American
Indian. And, indeed, before I saw America, I pictured the Americans to
myself as agreeing with this description; but my own eyes soon convinced
me of my error and I openly denounced the painters, to whom I had
formerly given credit, as calumniators and romancers. Upon a near view
of innumerable Indians of many nations, I could discover none of those
deformities which are commonly ascribed to them. None of the Americans
are black like Negroes, none so white as the Germans, English and
French, but of this I am positive, that many of them are fairer than
many Spaniards, Portugueze, and Italians. The Americans have whitish
faces, but this whiteness, in some nations, approaches more to a pasty
colour, and in others is darker; a difference occasioned by diversity of
climate, manner of living, or food. For those Indians who are exposed to
the sun's heat in the open plain, must necessarily be of a darker colour
than those who dwell always in the shade of forests, and never behold
the sun. The women are fairer than the men, because they go out of doors
less frequently, and whenever they travel on horseback, take greater
care of their complexions, skreening their faces with fans made of the
longer emu feathers.

I have often wondered that the savage Aucas, Puelches or Patagonians,
and other inhabitants of the Magellanic region, who dwell nearer to the
South Pole, should be darker than the Abipones, Mocobios, Tobas, and
other tribes, who live in Chaco, about ten degrees farther north, and
consequently suffer more from the heat. May not the difference of food
have some effect upon the complexion? The Southern savages feed
principally upon the flesh of emus and horses, in which the plains
abound. Does this contribute nothing to render their skin dark? What, if
we say that the whiteness of the skin is destroyed by very severe cold,
as well as by extreme heat? Yet if this be the case, why are the
inhabitants of Terra del Fuego more than moderately white: for that
island is situated in the fifty-fifth degree of latitude, at the very
extremity of South America, hard by the Antarctic Pole? May we not
suppose that these Southern nations derive their origin from Africa, and
brought the dark colour of the Africans into America? If any one incline
to this opinion, let him consider by what means they crossed the immense
sea which separates Africa from America, without the use of the magnet.

Many have written, and most persons at this day believe the Patagonians
to be giants, perhaps the progeny of the Cyclops Polyphemus; but believe
me when I say that the first are deceivers, and the latter their dupes.
In the narrative of the voyage of the Dutch commander, Oliver Von Nord,
who, in the year 1598, passed the Straits of Magellan, the Patagonians
are asserted to be ten or eleven feet high. The English, who passed
these straits in 1764, gave them eight feet of height. The good men must
have looked at those savages through a magnifying-glass, or measured
them with a pole. For in the year 1766, Captains Wallis and Carteret
measured the Patagonians, and declared them to be only six feet, or six
feet six inches high. They were again measured in 1764, by the famous
Bourgainville, who found them to be of the same height as Wallis had
done. Father Thomas Falconer, many years Missionary in the Magellanic
region, laughs at the idea entertained by Europeans of the gigantic
stature of the Patagonians, instancing Kangapol chief Cacique of that
land, who exceeded all the other Patagonians in stature, and yet did not
appear to him to be above seven feet high. Soon after my arrival, I saw
a great number of these savages in the city of Buenos-Ayres. I did not,
indeed, measure them, but spoke to some of them by an interpreter, and
though most of them were remarkably tall, yet they by no means deserved
the name of giants.

                              CHAPTER III.

                            OF THEIR BODIES.

The Abipones are well formed, and have handsome faces, much like those
of Europeans, except in point of colour, which, though not entirely
white, has nothing of the blackness of Negroes and Mulattoes. For that
natural whiteness which they have in infancy is somewhat destroyed as
they grow up, by the sun, and by the smoke: as nearly the whole of their
lives is passed in riding about plains exposed to the beams of the sun,
and the short time that they spend in their tents, they keep up a fire
on the ground day and night, by the heat and smoke of which they are
unavoidably somewhat darkened. Whenever the cold south wind blows, they
move the fire to the bed, or place it underneath the hanging net in
which they lie, and are thus gradually smoke-dried, like a gammon of
bacon in a chimney. The women, when they ride out into the country,
shield their faces from the sun's rays with an umbrella, and are, in
consequence, generally fairer than the men, who, more ambitious to be
dreaded by their enemies than to be loved, to terrify than attract
beholders, think the more they are scarred and sun-burnt, the handsomer
they are.

I observed that almost all the Abipones had black but rather small eyes;
yet they see more acutely with them, than we do with our larger ones;
being able clearly to distinguish such minute, or distant objects as
would escape the eye of the most quick-sighted European. Frequently, in
travelling, when we saw some animal running at a distance, and were
unable to distinguish what it was, an Abipon would declare, without
hesitation, whether it was a horse or a mule, and whether the colour was
black, white, or grey; and on examining the object more closely, we
always found him correct.

Moreover, in symmetry of shape, the Abipones yield to no other nation of
America. I scarce remember to have seen one of them with a nose like
what we see in the generality of Negroes, flat, crooked, turned up
towards the forehead, or broader than it should be. The commonest shape
is aquiline; as long and sharp as is consistent with beauty. An hundred
deformities and blemishes, common among Europeans, are foreign to them.
You never see an Abipon with a hump on his back, a wen, a hare lip, a
monstrous belly, bandy legs, club feet, or an impediment in his speech.
They have white teeth, almost all of which they generally carry to the
grave quite sound. Paraguay sometimes produces dwarf horses, but never a
dwarf Abipon, or any other Indian. Certain it is, that out of so many
thousands of Indians, I never saw an individual of that description.
Almost all the Abipones are so tall, that they might be enlisted amongst
the Austrian musketeers.

The Abipones, as I told you before, are destitute of beard, and have
perfectly smooth chins like all the other Indians, both of whose parents
are Americans. If you see an Indian with a little beard, you may
conclude, without hesitation, that one of his parents, or at any rate
his grandfather, must have been of European extraction. I do not deny
that a kind of down grows on the chins of the Americans, just as in
sandy sterile fields, a straggling ear of corn is seen here and there;
but even this they pull up by the roots whenever it grows. The office of
barber is performed by an old woman, who sits on the ground by the fire,
takes the head of the Abipon into her lap, sprinkles and rubs his face
plentifully with hot ashes, which serve instead of soap, and then, with
a pair of elastic horn tweezers, carefully plucks up all the hairs;
which operation the savages declare to be devoid of pain, and that I
might give the more credit to his words, one of them, applying a forceps
to my chin, wanted to give me palpable demonstration of the truth. It
was with difficulty that I extricated myself from the hands of the
unlucky shaver, choosing rather to believe than groan.

The Abipones bear the pain inflicted by the old woman with the forceps,
without complaining, that their faces may be smooth and clear; for they
cannot endure them to be rough and hairy. For this reason, neither sex
will suffer the hairs, with which our eyes are naturally fortified, but
have their eye-brows and eye-lashes continually plucked up. This
nakedness of the eyes, though it disfigures the handsomest face in a
high degree, they deem indispensable to beauty. They ridicule and
despise the Europeans for the thick brows which overshadow their eyes,
and call them brothers to the ostriches, who have very thick eye-brows.
They imagine that the sight of the eye is deadened, and shaded by the
adjacent hairs. Whenever they go out to seek honey, and return
empty-handed, their constant excuse is, that their eye-brows and
eye-lashes have grown, and prevented them from seeing the bees which
conduct them to the hives. From the beard, let us proceed to the hair of
the head.

All the Abipones have thick, raven-black locks; a child born with red or
flaxen hair would be looked upon as a monster amongst them. The manner
of dressing the hair differs in different nations, times, and
conditions. The Abipones, previously to their entering colonies, shaved
their hair like monks, leaving nothing but a circle of hair round the
head. But the women of the Mbaya nation, after shaving the rest of their
heads, leave some hairs untouched, to grow like the crest of a helmet,
from the forehead to the crown. As the savages have neither razors nor
scissors, they use a shell sharpened against a stone, or the jaws of the
fish palometa, for the purpose of shaving. Most of the Abipones in our
colonies let their hair grow long, and twist it into a rope like
European soldiers. The same fashion was adopted by the women, but with
this difference, that they tie the braid of hair with a little piece of
white cotton, as our countrymen do with black.

At church, and in mournings for the dead, they scatter their hair about
their shoulders. The Guarany Indians, on the contrary, whilst they live
in the woods, without the knowledge of religion, let their hair hang
down their backs: now that they have embraced Christianity, and entered
various colonies, they crop it like priests. But the women of the
Guarany towns wear their hair long, platted, and bound with a piece of
white cotton, both in and out of doors, but dishevelled and flowing when
they attend divine service. The Spanish peasantry also approach the door
of the church with their hair tied in the military fashion, but loosen
it on entering. Indeed, all the Americans are persuaded that this is a
mark of reverence due to the sacred edifice.

As soon as they wake in the morning, the Abiponian women, sitting on the
ground, dress, twist, and tie their husbands' hair. A bundle of boar's
bristles, or of hairs out of a tamandua's tail, serves them for a comb.
You very seldom see an Indian with natural, never with artificial
curling hair. They do not grow grey till very late, and then not unless
they are decrepid; very few of them get bald. It is worthwhile to
mention a ridiculous custom of the Abipones, Mocobios, Tobas, &c. all of
whom, without distinction of age or sex, pluck up the hair from the
forehead to the crown of the head, so that the fore part of the head is
bald almost for the space of two inches: this baldness they call
_nalemr̂a_, and account a religious mark of their nation. New-born
infants have the hair of the fore part of their head cut off by a male
or female juggler, these knaves performing the offices both of
physicians and priests amongst them. This custom seems to me to have
been derived from the Peruvian Indians, who used to cut their children's
first hair, at two years of age, with a sharp stone for want of a knife.
The ceremony was performed by the relations, one after another,
according to the degrees of consanguinity; and at the same time a name
was given to the infant.

It is also a custom, amongst the Abipones, to shave the heads of widows,
not without much lamentation on the part of the women, and drinking on
that of the men; and to cover them with a grey and black hood, made of
the threads of the caraquatà, which it is reckoned a crime for her to
take off till she marries again. A widower has his hair cropped with
many ceremonies, and his head covered with a little net-shaped hat,
which is not taken off till the hair grows again. All the men cut off
their hair to mourn for the death of a Cacique. Amongst the Christian
Guaranies, it is thought a most shameful and ignominious punishment,
when any disreputable woman has her hair cut off. I have described the
person which liberal nature has bestowed upon the Abipones; it now
remains for me to show by what means they disfigure it.

                              CHAPTER IV.

                              THE PERSON.

Many Europeans spoil their beauty by eagerly imitating foreign customs,
and always seeking new methods of adorning their persons. The Abipones
disfigure and render themselves terrible to the sight from a too great
attachment to the old customs of their ancestors; by whose example they
mark their faces in various ways, some of which are common to both
sexes, others peculiar to the women. They prick their skin with a sharp
thorn, and scatter fresh ashes on the wound, which infuse an
ineffaceable black dye. They all wear the form of a cross impressed on
their foreheads, and two small lines at the corner of each eye extending
towards the ears, besides four transverse lines at the root of the nose
between the eye-brows, as national marks. These figures the old women
prick with thorns, not only in the skin, but in the live flesh, and
ashes sprinkled on them whilst streaming with blood render them of an
indelible black. What these figures signify, and what they portend I
cannot tell, and the Abipones themselves are no better informed on the
subject. They only know that this custom was handed down to them from
their ancestors, and that is sufficient.

I saw not only a cross marked on the foreheads of all the Abipones, but
likewise black crosses woven in the red woollen garments of many. It is
a very surprizing circumstance that they did this before they were
acquainted with the religion of Christ, when the signification and
merits of the cross were unknown to them. Perhaps they learnt some
veneration for the cross, or gained an idea of its possessing great
virtues from their Spanish captives, or from those Abipones who had
lived in captivity amongst the Spaniards.

The Abiponian women, not content with the marks common to both sexes,
have their face, breast, and arms covered with black figures of various
shapes, so that they present the appearance of a Turkish carpet. The
higher their rank, and the greater their beauty, the more figures they
have; but this savage ornament is purchased with much blood and many
groans. As soon as a young woman is of age to be married she is ordered
to be marked according to custom. She reclines her head upon the lap of
an old woman, and is pricked in order to be beautified. Thorns are used
for a pencil, and ashes mixed with blood for paint. The ingenious, but
cruel old woman, sticking the points of the thorns deep into the flesh,
describes various figures till the whole face streams with blood. If the
wretched girl does but groan, or draw her face away, she is loaded with
reproaches, taunts and abuse. "No more of such cowardice," exclaims the
old woman in a rage, "you are a disgrace to our nation, since a little
tickling with thorns is so intolerable to you! Do you not know that you
are descended from those who glory and delight in wounds? For shame of
yourself, you faint-hearted creature! You seem to be softer than cotton.
You will die single, be assured. Which of our heroes would think so
cowardly a girl worthy to be his wife? But if you will only be quiet and
tractable, I'll make you more beautiful than beauty itself." Terrified
by these vociferations, and fearful of becoming the jest and derision of
her companions, the girl does not utter a word, but conceals the sense
of pain in silence, and with a cheerful countenance, and lips unclosed
through dread of reproach, endures the torture of the thorns, which is
not finished in one day. The first day she is sent home with her face
half pricked with the thorns, and is recalled the next, the next after
that, and perhaps oftener, to have the rest of her face, her breast and
arms pricked in like manner. Meantime she is shut up for several days in
her father's tent, and wrapped in a hide that she may receive no injury
from the cold air. Carefully abstaining from meat, fishes, and some
other sorts of food, she feeds upon nothing but a little fruit which
grows upon brambles; and, though frequently known to produce ague,
conduces much towards cooling the blood.

The long fast, together with the daily effusion of blood, renders the
young girls extremely pale. The chin is not dotted like the other parts,
but pierced with one stroke of the thorn in straight lines, upon which
musical characters might be written. All thorns seem to have a poisonous
quality, and consequently, from being scratched with them, the eyes,
cheeks, and lips are horridly swelled, and imbibe a deep black from the
ashes placed on the wounded skin; so that a girl, upon leaving the house
of that barbarous old woman, looks like a Stygian fury, and forces you
involuntarily to exclaim, _Oh! quantum Niobe, Niobe distabat ab iliâ!_
The savage parents themselves are sometimes moved to pity at the sight
of her, but never dream of abolishing this cruel custom; for they think
their daughters are ornamented by being thus mangled, and at the same
time instructed and prepared to bear the pains of parturition in future.
Though I detested the hard-heartedness of the old women in thus
torturing the girls, yet the skill they display in the operation always
excited my wonder. For on both cheeks they form all sorts of figures
with wondrous proportion, variety, and equality of the lines, with the
aid of no other instrument than thorns of various sizes. Every Abiponian
woman you see has a different pattern on her face. Those that are most
painted and pricked you may know to be of high rank and noble birth, and
if you meet a woman with but three or four black lines on her face, you
may be quite certain she is either a captive, or of low birth. When
Christian discipline was firmly established in the Abiponian colonies,
this vile custom was by our efforts abolished, and the women now retain
their natural appearance.

                               CHAPTER V.


The Abipones, like all the other American savages, used formerly to
pierce their lower lip with a hot iron, or a sharp reed. Into the hole
some insert a reed and others a small tube of bone, glass, gum, or
yellow brass; an ornament allowed only to the men when they are seven
years old, never to the women. This custom has long since been abolished
amongst the later Abipones, but is still continued by the Guaranies who
inhabit the woods, by the Mbayas, Guanas, and Payaguas. These people
think themselves most elegantly adorned when they have a brass pipe a
span long, and about the thickness of a goose's quill, hanging from the
lip to the breast. But this imaginary ornament renders them very
formidable to European strangers; for they are of great height, their
bodies are painted with juices of various colours, and their hair
stained of a blood red; the wing of a vulture is stuck in one of their
ears, and strings of glass beads hung round their neck, arms, knees and
legs; thus accoutred they walk the streets smoking tobacco out of a very
long reed; figures in every respect terrible to behold.

The thing which is inserted into the lip, of whatever material it may be
made, is called by the Guaranies _tembetà_, and is universally used by
them whilst they wander about the woods without religion; but after
being converted to Christianity and settled in colonies they throw away
this lip appendage. The hole of the lip, which neither salve nor plaster
will cure, however, remains, and in speaking the saliva sometimes flows
profusely through it; it also impedes them a little in pronouncing some
words. All the plebeian Indians whom I discovered in the woods of
Mbaeverá, both youths and adults, used a short slender reed for the
tembetà; but that of the three caciques was made of a gold-coloured gum
or rosin. At first sight I could have sworn that it was glass. In the
heat of the sun that beautiful gum flows plentifully from the tree abati
timbabỹ, and falls gradually into the models of tembetàs, crosses,
globes, or any other figure they like: exposed to the air it grows as
hard as a stone, so that no liquid can ever melt it, but still retains
its glassy transparency. If this rosin of the tree abati timbabỹ were
not possessed of singular hardness, the tembetà made of it, after
remaining whole days in the lip of the savage, and being covered with
saliva, would soften, and dissolve.

Do not imagine that there is but one method of piercing the lip amongst
the savages. The anthropophagi do not pierce the lower lip but cut it to
the length of the mouth in such a manner, that when the wound terminates
in a scar they look as if they had two mouths. They wander up and down
the woods, and are often, but fruitlessly exhorted by the Jesuits, not
without peril to themselves, to embrace our religion. The Indians of
Brazil and Paraguay formerly delighted in human flesh. Many of them,
after having been long accustomed to Christian discipline in our towns,
sometimes confessed that the flesh of kine or of any wild animal tastes
extremely flat and insipid to them, in comparison with that of men. We
have known the Mocobios and Tobas, for want of other food, eat human
flesh even at this day. Some hundreds of the last-mentioned savages fell
suddenly upon Alaykin, cacique of the Abipones, about day-break as he
was drinking in a distant plain with a troop of his followers. An
obstinate combat was carried on for some time, at the end of which the
wounded Abipones escaped by flight. Alaykin himself and six of his
fellow-soldiers fell in the engagement, and were afterwards roasted and
devoured by the hungry victors. An Abiponian boy of twelve years old,
who used to eat at our table, was killed at the same time by these
savages, and added to the repast, being eaten with the rest; but an old
Abiponian woman, who had been slain there with many wounds, they left on
the field untouched, her flesh being too tough to be used. Now let me
speak a little of the adorning, or, more properly, torturing of the

The use of ear-rings, which is very ancient, and varies amongst various
nations, is highly ridiculous amongst the Americans. The ears of very
young children of both sexes are always perforated. Few of the men wear
ear-rings, but some of the older ones insert a small piece of cow's
horn, wood, or bone, a woollen thread of various colours, or a little
knot of horn into their ears. Almost all the married women have
ear-rings, made in the following manner. They twist a very long palm
leaf two inches wide into a spire, like a bundle of silk thread, and
wider in circumference than the larger wafer which we use in sacrifice.
This roll is gradually pushed farther and farther into the hole of the
ear; by which means in the course of years the skin of the ear is so
much stretched, and the hole so much enlarged, that it folds very
tightly round the whole of that palm leaf spire, and flows almost down
to the shoulders. The palm leaf itself, when in this spiral form, has an
elastic power which daily dilates the hole of the ear more and more. Do
not think that I have exaggerated the size of this spire and the
capaciousness of the ear. With these eyes, by the aid of which I am now
writing, I daily beheld innumerable women laden with this monstrous
ear-ring, and very many men even of other nations. For those most
barbarous people the Oaèkakalòts and Tobas, and other American nations
out of Paraguay, use the same ear-rings as the Abiponian women. The
Guarany women wear brass ear-rings sometimes three inches in diameter,
not however inserted into the ear, but suspended from it.

The Paraguayrians seem to have learnt the various use of ear-rings from
Peru. Its famous king and legislator, the Inca Manco Capac, permitted
his subjects to perforate their ears, provided however that all the
ear-holes should be smaller than those he himself used. He assigned
various ear-rings to all the people in the various provinces: some
inserted a bit of wood into their ears; some a piece of white wool not
bigger than a man's thumb; others a bulrush; others the bark of a tree.
Three nations were allowed the privilege of larger ear-rings than the
rest. All persons of royal descent wore for ear-rings very wide rings
which were suspended by a long band, and hung down to the breast. The
Paraguayrians, who had at first imitated the Peruvians, in course of
ages invented still more ridiculous ear-rings, none of which a European
could behold without laughter.

As the Abipones deprive their eyes of brows and lashes, pierce their
lips and ears, prick their faces with thorns and mark them with figures,
pluck the down from their chins, and pull up a quantity of hair from the
fore part of their heads, I always greatly wondered at their preserving
the nose untouched and unhurt, the cartilage of which the Africans,
Peruvians, and Mexicans formerly perforated, sometimes inserting a
string of beads into the hole. According to Father Joseph Acosta, book
VII. chap. 17, Tikorìk, king of the Mexicans, wore a fine emerald
suspended from his nostrils. The Brazilians from their earliest age
perforate not the lower lip alone but also other parts of the face,
inserting very long pebbles into the fissures; a frightful spectacle, as
the Jesuit Maffei affirms in the second book of his History of the
Indies. You would call the faces of the Brazilians tesselated work or
mosaic. But the Parthians delighted still more in deforming themselves;
for, according to Tertullian, Lib. I., cap. 10. De Cultu Fœmin, they
pierced almost every part of their bodies for the admission of pebbles
or precious stones. If Diodorus Siculus Lib. IV. cap. 1. may be
credited, the female Negroes bordering on Arabia perforated their lips
for the same purpose. From all this it appears that the savages of
America are not the only people who have adopted the foolish custom of
marking their bodies in various ways.

                              CHAPTER VI.


Truly ridiculous are those persons who, without ever having beheld
America even from a distance, have written with more boldness than truth
that all the Americans, without distinction, are possessed of little
strength, weakly bodies, and bad constitutions, which cannot be said of
the generality of them. Their habit of body varies according to climate,
country, food, and occupation; as we find those Europeans who breathe
the healthy mountain air of Styria more robust than those who grow
sallow with ague in the marshy plains of the Bannat. Negro slaves
brought in ships were often exposed to sale, like cattle, in the streets
of Lisbon, whilst I was in that city. Those from Angola, Congo, Cape de
Verd, and above all the island of Madagascar are eagerly chosen, being
generally of strong health and superior activity. Africans, natives of
that country which the Portugueze call Costa de la Mina, can scarcely
find a purchaser, being generally weak, slothful, and impatient of
labour, because they inhabit nearest to the equator, where there is
little or no wind, tepid air, and frequent rain. In sailing to Paraguay
we were detained in that neighbourhood by a continuous calm, and
remained stationary there for full three weeks, roasted by the heat of
the sun, and daily washed with warm showers. Who can wonder that this
languishing climate produces languid and weakly bodies, though strong
robust people are found in other parts of Africa? From this you may know
what to think of so extensive a region as America, and of its
inhabitants. Its various provinces and even different parts of the
provinces differ essentially in the properties of the air, food, and
habitations, which produces a variety in the constitutions of the
inhabitants, some being weak, some very strong.

Let others write of the other Americans to whom and what they choose: I
shall not contradict them. Of the Paraguayrians I confidently affirm
that the equestrian nations greatly excel the pedestrians in beauty of
form, loftiness of stature, strength, health, and longevity. The bodies
of the Abipones are muscular, robust, agile, and extremely tolerant of
the inclemencies of the sky. You scarcely ever see a fat or pot-bellied
person amongst them. Daily exercise in riding, hunting, and in sportive
and serious contests prevents them almost always from growing fat, for
like apes they are always in motion. They consequently enjoy such an
excellent habit of body, and such sound health as most Europeans might
envy. Many diseases which afflict and exhaust Europeans are not even
known by name amongst them. Gout, dropsy, epilepsy, jaundice, stone, &c.
are words foreign and monstrous to their ears. They expose their bare
heads for whole days to the heat of the sun, and yet you never hear one
of them complain of head-ache. You would swear they were devoid of
feeling, or made of brass or marble; yet even these grow hot when acted
on by the rays of the sun. After having been long parched with thirst in
dry deserts, they drink large draughts of marshy, salt, muddy, stinking,
bitter water, without injury. They greedily swallow quantities of hard,
half-roasted beef, venison, tiger's and emu's flesh, and the eggs of the
latter, without experiencing any consequent languor of the stomach, or
difficulty of digestion. They often swim across vast rivers in cold
rainy weather without contracting any ill affection of the bowels or
bladder, which was often troublesome to the Europeans in swimming, and,
if succeeded by strangury, dangerous. They ride seated on saddles made
of hard leather during journeys of many weeks, and yet such long sitting
does not injure the external skin even. They are unprovided with
stirrups, and often use trotting horses, yet after many hours of
uninterrupted riding you can perceive no signs of fatigue or exhaustion
in any of them. Stretched on a cold turf, should a sudden shower
descend, they pass the night swimming in water, yet never know what the
colic or the gout is. The Spaniards run the risk of both after being
long drenched with rain water, which, when it touches the skin, affects
the body most terribly in America, often producing syncope, and
sometimes pustules and ulcers. I have frequently seen Spanish soldiers
faint in the church from having been wetted with rain on their way
thither. The Abipones pass many days and nights amid constant rain
uninjured, because their feet are bare; for the moisture contracted from
rain hurts the feet when they are wrapt up more than when they are
uncovered; as, finding no vent when it exhales, it creeps inwards,
penetrates the bones and nerves, and affects the rest of the body in a
terrible manner. But I can give you further proof of the strength of the

If a thorn of any plant happens to stick in their foot, and to break
there, so that it cannot be pulled out by the finger, they will coolly
cut the little piece of flesh, to which the thorn adheres, with a knife.
When they go out to act the part of spies, or to reconnoitre distant
places, they sit with both feet upon the horse's back. They climb high
trees, and sit quietly on their boughs, in order to plunder the hives
concealed there, without any sense of danger or giddiness. After their
removal to our colonies, being fatigued with handling the axe and the
plough, instruments to which they were unaccustomed, and feeling their
strength fail them, their bodies bathed in sweat, and burning with heat,
they exclaimed, _La yivichigui yauigra_, now my blood is angry. For this
they have a ready remedy: they plunge a knife deep into their leg, watch
the blood spouting from it for some time with pleased eyes, and at
length stop it by applying a clod to the wound, saying with a cheerful
voice that they are recovered, and feel perfectly well. They are as
lavish, and almost prodigal in shedding their blood, for the purpose of
obtaining glory, as of procuring health; for in public drinking parties
they cruelly prick their breast, arms and tongue with a bundle of
thorns, or with the sharp bones of a crocodile's back, with much
effusion of blood. They emulate one another in doing this, in order to
obtain a reputation for bravery, and that these spontaneous wounds may
render them less fearful of shedding their blood in engagements with the
enemy, and may make their skin impenetrable by covering it with scars.
Boys of seven years old pierce their little arms in imitation of their
parents, and display plenty of wounds, indications of courage superior
to their years, and preludes of war, for which they are educated from
earliest infancy.

Persons wasted to a skeleton, and with every symptom of fever and
consumption, we have seen restored to health by daily eating and
drinking the alfaroba. When seized with a violent disorder, or
dangerously wounded, they recover by the use of this easily obtained
remedy, or, like dogs, without any at all. I have often with horror
beheld many of them wounded with various kinds of weapons, their side
pierced, their bones and ribs broken, their breath drawn with
difficulty, the blood streaming from their numerous wounds; themselves,
in short, the breathing images of death. When I saw these very Abipones
a few weeks afterwards, riding or drinking, in full health, I could
attribute it to nothing but the strength of their constitutions; for it
certainly could not be owing to their unskilful physicians and
inefficacious medicines. Every one knows that small-pox and measles are
almost the only, and by far the most calamitous pest by which America is
exhausted. The Abipones take the infection like the other Indians, but
seldom fall victims to the disease, though, whilst under its influence,
they are less careful of themselves than the other natives. Owing to the
more healthy temperature of their blood and humours, it does not cause
either so much, or such noxious matter in them as it does in others. Of
the small-pox I shall discourse more fully hereafter. They live and
enjoy their health many years after they have been wounded with leaden
bullets without ever suffering them to be extracted: as a proof of their
strength they often showed us a bullet sticking, without injury, in
their arm or foot, and offered it us to handle. It is still more
remarkable that a musket ball seldom proves fatal to the Abipones,
unless it strike the heart or the head: their Cacique, the renowned
Kaapetraikin, received a ball of this kind into his forehead without any
dangerous consequences. Considering these things I often wondered why
the savages dreaded firearms so much, since they very rarely proved
fatal to them. But as children are afraid of ignes fatui, though
harmless; in like manner the Indians fear the report more than the ball,
which they so often find to miss of its aim, and prove formidable to the
air alone. These instances will, if I mistake not, do something towards
convincing Europeans of the strength of the Abipones. Neither shall I
ever be a convert to the opinion that the Americans are possessed of a
duller and less acute sense of corporal inconvenience. The Abipones are
highly sensible of the impressions of the elements, the injuries of
weapons, and the pain arising from these causes, but are not so much
overcome and exhausted by them as most others, either because they are
blessed with a better temperature of blood and humours, and greater
strength of limbs and muscles, or because the hardships they have been
accustomed to from childhood, render them callous, or because their
eager thirst after military fame impels them to deny that anything gives
them pain, though they be ever so much affected by it.

I have already observed that they seldom grow bald, and not grey till at
an advanced period of life. Even when arrived at extreme age they can
hardly be said to have grown old, like certain plants which are always
green and vigorous. Cicero, in his treatise on Old Age, bestows great
praise on Massinissa, king of Mauritania, who, at ninety years of age,
_cùm ingressus iter pedibus sit, in equum omninò non ascendit: cùm equo,
ex equo non descendit. Nullo imbre, nullo frigore adducitur, ut capite
operto sit. Exequitur omnia regis officia et munera, etc._ The Roman
orator would find all the old Abipones so many Massinissas, or even more
vigorous than Massinissa. He would scarce believe his own eyes were he
to see men, almost a hundred years old, leap on to a fiery horse,
without the aid of a stirrup, like a boy of twelve years old, sit it for
hours, and even whole days, beneath a burning sun, climb trees for
honey, travel or lie upon the ground in cold or rainy weather, contend
with the enemy in battle, shrink from no toils of the army or the chase,
evince wonderful acuteness both of sight and hearing, preserve all their
teeth quite sound, and seem only to be distinguished by the number of
their years from men in the prime of life. All these things will hardly
be credited in Europe where they are so rare. In the colonies of the
Abipones I daily beheld old men, like youths in every other respect but
that of age, without surprize. If a man dies at eighty he is lamented as
if cut off in the flower of his age. Women generally live longer than
men, because they are not killed in war, and because the moistness of
their nature renders them more long lived. You find so many old women a
hundred years of age, amongst the Abipones, that you may wonder at, but
will scarce be able to count them. I cannot say that the pedestrian
nations of Paraguay enjoy equal strength and longevity. The Guaranies,
Lules, Isistines, Vilelas, and other pedestrian Indians, are subject to
diseases like the Europeans, and both feel old age, and discover it by
their habit of body. Their lives, like those of Europeans, are sometimes
short, sometimes long. You find very few men a hundred years old, or
even approaching to that age amongst them. It is worth while to
investigate the causes of this exceeding vigour of the Abipones.

                              CHAPTER VII.


The Abipones are indebted for their strength and longevity partly to
their parents, partly to themselves. The vigour of youth, preserved by
temperance, accompanies them during the whole of their lives, and is
even transmitted to their children. The Abipones never indulge in
licentious gratifications during youth, and though of a fiery
temperament, debilitate their constitutions by no irregularities. They
amuse themselves with conversation, mirth, and jesting, but always
within the limits of modesty. By a sort of natural instinct peculiar to
themselves, both boys and girls, hold in abhorrence all means and
opportunities of infringing the laws of decorum: you never see them
talking together either publicly or privately; never idling in the
street. The girls love to assist their mothers in domestic employments;
the continual exercise of arms and horses engrosses the chief attention
of the young men.

The Indians of other nations are often shorter, slenderer, and less
robust. Many of them consume away before they arrive at manhood; others
grow prematurely old, and die an untimely death. Do you enquire the
cause? I will tell you my opinion on the subject. Many are unhealthy
because their parents are so; others from being oppressed with Labour,
and very poorly provided with food, clothes, and lodging; the majority
because they have exhausted their natural vigour by indulging from their
earliest youth in shameful pleasures. _Libidinosa etenim, et intemperans
adolescentia effœtum corpus tradit senectuti_, as Cicero observes, in
his treatise on Old Age. How many of those who die a premature death
would deserve to have this epitaph engraven on their tomb, _Nequitia est
quæ te non sinit esse senem_. Too early marriages are often a cause why
we find the other Indians weaker and less vigorous and long-lived than
the Abipones, who never think of entering the matrimonial state till
they are near thirty years old, and never marry a woman under twenty;
which, as philosophers and physicians say, conduces much to the
preservation of strength, lengthening of life, and producing robust
children. It cannot be doubted, that tender parents never produce very
strong children; and since the affections of the mind are consequences
of the habit of the body, as Galen teaches with much prolixity, it
cannot be wondered that such children should be as imbecile in mind as
in body.

Their education also conduces greatly to form the manners and strengthen
the bodies of the Abipones. For, as Quintilian observes, in his first
book of Institutes, that soft kind of breeding, which we call
indulgence, relaxes all the nerves both of the mind and body. No one can
object to the education of the Abipones on account of its delicacy. The
children are plunged into a cold stream, if there be one at a convenient
distance, as soon as they see the light. They know of no such things as
cradles, feathers, cushions, swathing-clothes, blandishments, and toys.
Covered with a light garment of otters' skins, they sleep wherever
chance directs, and crawl upon the ground like little pigs. Whenever a
mother has to take a journey on horseback, she places the child in a bag
made of boars' skins, and suspended from the saddle along with the
puppies, pots, gourds, &c. The husband will often come and snatch his
little son, as he is sucking, from its mother's arms, set him on his own
horse, and behold him riding with eyes sparkling with pleasure. When a
mother is swimming in a river for the sake of a bath, she presses her
infant to her breast with one hand, while she uses the other as an oar.
If the child be pretty big, it is thrown into the water, that it may
learn to swim while it is but just beginning to walk. You seldom see
little boys but just weaned walking in the street without a bow and
arrow. They shoot birds, flies, and all kinds of small animals. Their
usual amusement is shooting at a mark. They go out every day on
horseback, and ride races with one another. All these things undoubtedly
conduce much towards strengthening and enlarging the body. Would that
European mothers could be brought to discard the unnatural artifices and
indulgences used in the bringing up of their children! Oh that they
would moderate the bandages and cloths with which they bind, and as it
were imprison and enchain the tender little bodies of their infants!
then should we see fewer bandy-legged, hump-backed, dwarfish, weak, and
diseased persons in Europe.

The Abipones wear a garment not tight to their bodies, but loose and
flowing down to their heels; calculated to cover, not load and oppress
the body, and to defend it from the injuries of the weather, without
preventing the perspiration, or impeding the circulation of the blood.
All the wise people of the east, and most of the ancient Germans, made
choice of a large wide garment. What if we say that their bodies were
consequently larger, and filled a wider space? Those who wish to enjoy
their health, should attend to the maxim _ne quid nimis_, in dress as
well as in other things. On the other hand too scanty clothing is
assuredly prejudicial to health. Prudent persons vary their dress
according to the state of the air, as seamen shift their sails. Even the
Abipones of both sexes, and of every age, though satisfied at other
times with a woollen garment, put on a kind of cloak, skilfully sewed,
of otters' skins, when the cold south wind is blowing. This skin garment
bears some sort of resemblance to the cloak which we priests wear to
sing vespers in the church.

Galen, in his work on the preservation of the health, boldly and truly
asserts that too great repose of body is highly prejudicial, but
moderate and proper motion, on the other hand, of the utmost utility.
This is consonant to the words of Celsus, Lib. I. c. 1. _Ignavia corpus
hebetat, labor firmat; illa præmaturam senectam, iste longam
adolescentiam reddit._ You cannot therefore be surprized that the
Abipones are athletic like the Macrobii. They are in continual motion.
Riding, hunting, and swimming are their daily employments. War, either
against men or beasts, occasions them to take very long excursions.
Their business is to swim across rivers, climb trees to gather honey,
make spears, bows, and arrows, weave ropes of leather, dress saddles,
practise every thing, in short, fatiguing to the hands or feet. But if
they indulge themselves with an intermission of these employments, they
ride horseraces for a sword which is given to him who reaches the goal
first. Another very common game amongst the Abipones is one which they
play on foot. The instrument with which it is performed is a piece of
wood about two hands long, rounded like a staff, thicker at the
extremities and slenderer in the middle. This piece of wood they throw
to the mark, with a great effort, in such a manner that it strikes the
ground every now and then, and rebounds, like the stones which boys
throw along the surface of a river. Fifty and often a hundred men stand
in a row and throw this piece of wood by turns, and he who flings it the
farthest and the straightest obtains the sword.

This game, which from boys they are accustomed to play at for hours
together, amuses and fatigues them with wonderful benefit to their
health. The same piece of wood which serves both as an instrument of
peace and war, is made formidable use of by many of the savages to crush
the bodies of their enemies and of wild beasts. The Abipones hate to
lead the life of a snail, idle and listless, and consequently do not
undergo a swift and miserable decay, like those who are stupefied with
sloth, confined to their bed, table, or gaming-table, and seldom stir
out into the street or country. The Abiponian women, though debarred
from the sports and equestrian contests of the men, have scarce time to
rest or breathe, so much are they occupied day and night with the
management of their domestic affairs. Hence that masculine vigour of the
females in producing almost gigantic offspring, hence their strength and

The food also to which the Abipones are accustomed, in my judgment
contributes not a little to prolong their lives. What Tacitus says of
the ancient Germans is applicable to them: _Cibi simplices, agrestia
poma, recens fera, aut lac concretum, sine apparatu, sine blandimentis
expellunt famem_. They feed, as chance directs, upon beef, or the flesh
of wild animals, mostly roasted, but seldom boiled. If the plain afford
them no wild beasts to hunt, the water will supply their hunger with
various kinds of fish besides otters, ducks, capibaris, &c. From the air
also they receive birds that are by no means to be despised, and from
the woods divers fruits, to appease the cravings of appetite. Should all
these be wanting, roots concealed beneath the ground or the water are
converted into food. Necessity alone will induce them to taste fishes,
though excellent. Tigers' flesh, spite of its vile odour, is in such
esteem amongst them that if one of them kills a tiger, he cuts it into
small portions, and divides it amongst himself and his companions, that
all the hordesmen may share in what they think so delightful a delicacy.
It is an old complaint amongst physicians that new seasonings of food
imported from the new world have brought with them new diseases into
Europe. This complaint cannot affect the Abipones, who are unacquainted
with seasonings, and feed upon simple fare. They detest vinegar; and
salt, though as fond of it as goats, they are seldom able to obtain,
their land producing neither salt nor salt-pits. To remedy this
deficiency they burn a shrub called by the Spaniards _vidriera_, and
sprinkle its ashes, which have a saltish taste, on meat and on tobacco
leaves, previously chewed and kneaded together with the saliva of old
women. But as many of the Abiponian hordes are destitute of this shrub,
the ashes of which are used for salt, they generally eat their meat
unsalted. No one ever denied that the moderate use of salt is wholesome,
for it sucks up noxious humours, and prevents putrefaction: but the too
frequent use of it deadens the eye-sight, exhausts the better juices,
and creates acrid ones injurious both to the blood and skin, by which
means physicians say that the urinal passages are frequently hurt. We
found in Paraguay that horses, mules, oxen, and sheep fattened only in
those pastures where plenty of nitre, or some saltish substance was
mixed with the grass; if that be wanting the cattle very soon become
ragged and lean. Meat sprinkled with salt will keep a long time, but the
more plentifully it is salted the sooner it stinks and putrefies, the
moisture into which salt dissolves united with heat accelerating
putrefaction. Beef hardened by the air alone, and fish dried with
nothing but smoke, will keep many months without a grain of salt, as I
and all the savages know from experience. When we sailed back from
Paraguay to Europe our chief provisions consisted of meat part salted,
part dried by the air alone. The latter from having no salt in it
remained well tasted and free from decay till we reached the port of
Cadiz, while the other soon putrefied and was thrown into the sea even
by the hungry sailors. Now hear what inference I draw from all this.
Since the Abipones, though they use salt but seldom and in small
quantities, are generally healthy and long-lived, I cannot but suspect
that abstinence from salt conduces more to the well being of the body
than the too unsparing use of it.

That diet regulating both meat and drink is the source of a late old
age, firm health, and long life is unanimously agreed by all the great
physicians and philosophers. I have repeatedly affirmed that the
Abipones are vigorous, and long-lived, yet who can call them studious of
diet? They eat when, as much, and as often as they like. They have no
fixed hours for dinner or for supper, but if food be at hand will dine
as soon as they wake. Hungry at all hours they eat at all hours; and an
appetite will never be wanting if they have wherewith to exercise it
upon. You would think that the more they devour the sooner they are
hungry. They are voracious, and, like the other Americans, cram
themselves with flesh, but without injury to their health; for their
stomachs, which will bear both a great quantity of food, and long
abstinence from it, are weakened neither by gormandizing nor by extreme
hunger. They undertake JOURNEYS of many months unfurnished with any
provision. A sufficiency of proper food is often not to be met with on
the way, either from the want of an opportunity of hunting, or from the
unintermitting haste with which the desire of surprizing, or necessity
of flying the enemy obliges them to pursue their journey. Yet an empty
belly and barking stomach never do them any harm, nor even prevent them
from cheerfully conversing to still the sense of hunger. On such
occasions you see them betray no sign of impatience, nor complain of any
indisposition of body. I do not pretend to deny that temperance in
eating and drinking is the parent of longevity, and gluttony that of
disease and premature death; knowing that many saintly hermits have
prolonged their lives to an hundred years, spite of continual fasting,
and that perhaps they would have attained a still greater age had they
taken more nourishment. Yet I scarce wonder that these Christian heroes
lived so long, upon poor and sparing diet, because they were always
celibate, and remained fixed to one spot without ever experiencing great
fatigue. Neither, on the other hand, does it surprize me that the
Abipones should enjoy such singular longevity, united with so much
voracity; for they, who are all married, weary themselves with running,
hunting, swimming, riding, and military exercises, and consequently to
recruit their strength, require, and easily digest a greater quantity of
food: for their vigour would decay and their great bodies languish were
they not frequently reinvigorated with plenty of victuals. The Abipones
are daily obliged to assuage their thirst with river or marsh water,
which is generally tepid or warm, very seldom cold, and not always quite
fresh: might not this be a circumstance conducive to health? For
physicians prefer river or rain water to that of a spring, because it is
lighter and impregnated with fewer noxious particles. The Chinese never
taste a drop of cold water. Many think that snow and ice-water cause
divers disorders. Snow, ice, springs of water, and subterranean cells
for cooling liquors are no where to be found in the territories of the
Abipones, who are also unacquainted with wine expressed from grapes, or
burnt out of fruits by chemic art. But though they use nothing but water
to quench their thirst, yet on the birth of a child, the death of a
relation, a resolution of war, or a victory, they assemble together to
drink a strong liquor made of honey or the alfaroba infused in water,
which when fermented causes intoxication, but taken moderately is of
much service to the health. For it is universally thought that the
alfaroba and wild honey conduce much to prolong life and confirm the
health. The Abipones are in the habit of drinking honey, in which the
woods abound, very frequently; what if we call this a cause of their
vigour and longevity? Both however they partly owe to the use of the
alfaroba, which they either eat dried, or drink in great quantities, as
wine, when fermented in water by its own native heat. Taken either way
it possesses singular virtue, for it restores the exhausted strength,
fattens the body, clears and refreshes the breast, quickly and copiously
discharges the bladder by its diuretic property, radically cures many
disorders, is extremely efficacious against the stone, and affords a
strong alleviation to nephritic diseases. Persons who had tried it
assured me of its possessing those virtues. More robust and healthy
horses are no where to be found throughout the wide extent of Paraguay,
than those born in the territory of St. Iago del Estero, because they
feed principally upon the alfaroba.

Add to this that the Abipones bathe almost every day in some lake or
river. Bathing was certainly much practised, and reckoned of singular
utility amongst the ancients. For as the dirt is washed off by the
water, the pores of the skin are opened, and the perspiration of the
body rendered easier and more commodious; a great advantage to the
health. Some prefer cold bathing to bleeding, for by the one process the
blood is only cooled, by the other it is exhausted. To continual bathing
therefore, the Abipones are in a great measure indebted for the health
and longevity which they possess to such an enviable degree. This
opinion is confirmed in Bacon's History of Life and Death, where it is
asserted that "washing in cold water contributes to lengthen life, and
that the use of warm baths has a contrary effect." P. 131. The same
author is of opinion that "persons who pass great part of their lives
out of doors are generally longer-lived than those that stay more
within." The Abipones spend most of their time out of the house, and
consequently breathe the pure air of heaven which is so salutary to the
human body. Though they dwell under mats spread like a tent, or in fixed
huts, they never suffer the air to be entirely excluded. Nor are they
content with living in the open air, they also choose to be buried
there, entertaining an incredible repugnance to sepulchres within the
church. As the Abipones live long and enjoy excellent health, though
entirely destitute of physicians and druggists, I can hardly help
reckoning their absence amongst the causes which co-operate to render
the savages superior in vigour and longevity to most Europeans, amongst
whom as physicians are numerous, and medicine in general use, there are
many sick persons and few very old men. The Abiponian physicians, of
whom I shall speak more fully hereafter, are impostors more ignorant
than brutes, and totally unworthy the splendid title of physicians,
being born not to heal the sick, but to cheat them with juggleries and

That health of body depends in a high degree upon tranquillity of mind
is incontestible: the functions of the brain are disturbed, the stomach
grows languid, the strength fails for want of food, and the better
juices are destroyed, when the mind is oppressed by turbulent
affections, by anxiety, love, fear, anger, or sadness. The body will be
sane if inhabited by a sane mind. This being the case, we cannot wonder
that the Abipones are possessed of great vigour and longevity. Their
minds are generally in a tranquil state. They live reckless of the past,
little curious about the present, and very seldom anxious for the
future. They fear danger, but either from not perceiving or from
despising the weightiness of it, always think themselves able to subdue
or avoid it. When a numerous foe is announced to be at hand they either
provide for their safety by a timely flight, or await the assault, and
amidst jocund songs quaff mead, their elixir, which inspires them with
courage, and banishes fear. Gnawing cares about the augmentation of
their property, or concerning food and raiment, have no place amongst
them. They make no mortal of such account as to die, or run mad, for
hate or love of him. No affections with them are either violent or of
long duration. This tranquillity of mind cherishes the body, and
prolongs their lives to extreme old age. I allow that the climate in
which they live, and which is neither starved with cold nor parched with
heat, is one strengthener of the health, but I deny that it is the only
one; for neither the Spaniards nor the other Indians, though they enjoy
the same temperature of air, live and thrive like the Abipones.
Europeans, if they envy the longevity of the Abipones, should imitate,
as far as possible, their manner of life. They should tranquillize their
minds by subduing vehement passions. They should interpose a little
exercise of body between inaction, and sedentary occupations; they
should mingle water with wine, rest with labour. They should moderate
their luxuries in dress and eating. They should use simple food, not
such as is adulterated by art, and for the purpose of satisfying, not of
provoking the appetite, but make sparing application to medicines and
physicians. And lastly, which is of the greatest importance for
preserving vigour, they should abhor pleasures, the sure destruction of
the body, as much as they desire a green old age.

                             CHAPTER VIII.

                    OF THE RELIGION OF THE ABIPONES.

_Hæc est summa delicti, nolle recognoscere quem ignorare non possit_,
are the words of Tertullian, in his Apology for the Christians.
Theologians agree in denying that any man in possession of his reason
can, without a crime, remain ignorant of God for any length of time.
This opinion I warmly defended in the University of Cordoba, where I
finished the four years' course of theology begun at Gratz in Styria.
But what was my astonishment, when on removing from thence to a colony
of Abipones, I found that the whole language of these savages does not
contain a single word which expresses God or a divinity. To instruct
them in religion, it was necessary to borrow the Spanish word for God,
and insert into the catechism _Dios ecnam caogarik_, God the creator of

Penafiel, a Jesuit theologian, declared that there were many Indians
who, on being asked whether, during the whole course of their lives,
they ever thought of God, replied _no, never_. The Portugueze and
Spaniards, who first landed on the shores of America, affirmed that they
could discover scarcely any traces of the knowledge of God amongst the
Brazilians, and other savages. The Apostle Paul, in the first chapter of
his Epistle to the Romans, declares that this ignorance of God is by no
means devoid of blame, and indeed that it cannot be excused; _so that
they are without excuse, because from the very sight of the things
created, they might arrive at the knowledge of God the Creator_. But if
any one think the case admits of palliation, he will say that the
American savages are slow, dull, and stupid in the apprehension of
things not present to their outward senses. Reasoning is a process
troublesome and almost unknown to them. It is, therefore, no wonder that
the contemplation of terrestrial or celestial objects should inspire
them with no idea of the creative Deity, nor indeed of any thing
heavenly. Travelling with fourteen Abipones, I sat down by the fire in
the open air, as usual, on the high shore of the river Plata. The sky,
which was perfectly serene, delighted our eyes with its twinkling stars.
I began a conversation with the Cacique Ychoalay, the most intelligent
of all the Abipones I have been acquainted with, as well as the most
famous in war. "Do you behold," said I, "the splendour of Heaven, with
its magnificent arrangement of stars? Who can suppose that all this is
produced by chance? The waggon, as you yourself know, is overturned,
unless the oxen have some one to guide them. A boat will either sink, or
go out of the right course, if destitute of a pilot. Who then can be mad
enough to imagine that all these beauties of the Heavens are the effect
of chance, and that the revolutions and vicissitudes of the celestial
bodies are regulated without the direction of an omniscient mind? Whom
do you believe to be their creator and governour? What were the opinions
of your ancestors on the subject?" "My father," replied Ychoalay,
readily and frankly, "our grandfathers and great grandfathers were wont
to contemplate the earth alone, solicitous only to see whether the plain
afforded grass and water for their horses. They never troubled
themselves about what went on in the Heavens, and who was the creator
and governour of the stars."

I have observed the Abipones, when they are unable to comprehend any
thing at first sight, soon grow weary of examining it, and cry
_orqueenàm_? what is it after all? Sometimes the Guaranies, when
completely puzzled, knit their brows and cry _tupâ oiquaà_, God knows
what it is. Since they possess such small reasoning powers, and have so
little inclination to exert them, it is no wonder that they are neither
able nor willing to argue one thing from another.

You cannot imagine in what dark colours the Europeans, who first entered
these provinces, described the stupidity of the Americans. Brother
Thomas Ortiz, afterwards Bishop of Sta. Martha, intimates in his letters
to the Court of Madrid, that the Americans are foolish, dull, stupid,
and unreasoning like beasts, that they are incapable of understanding
the heads of religion, and devoid of human sense and judgement. Some of
the Spaniards thought the Americans so stupid, that they wished to
exclude them, even after they were grown up, from baptism, confession,
and other sacraments, as being in the condition of infants who are not
yet possessed of reason. Paul the Third was obliged to issue a bull, in
the year 1537, the second of June, by which he pronounced the Indians to
be really men, and capable of understanding the Catholic faith, and
receiving the sacraments, the cause of the Indians being pleaded by
Bartolomeo De las Casas, afterwards Bishop of Chiapa. The pontifical
decree begins _Vetitas ipsa_, and is extant in Harold. Notwithstanding
this, "the adult Indians in Peru, who have been baptized and properly
confessed, do not partake of the divine communion once every year, nor
indeed when on the point of death," as Acosta says in the eighth chapter
of his work: _De procuranda Indorum Salute_. Nor did the exhortations
and comminations of the famous councils at Lima procure the Indians
permission to partake of the eucharist, as appears from the complaints
and decrees of the synods held in the next century at Lima, Plata,
Arequipa, Paza, and Paraguay. For the priests, who denied the eucharist,
always alleged the stupidity, ignorance, and inveterate wickedness of
the Indians in their excuse. But the synod held at Paza in the year
1638, was of opinion that this ignorance of the Indians should be
ascribed to the negligence of their pastors, by whose sedulous
instruction these wretches might have emerged from the native darkness
of their minds, and from the slough of wickedness.

Taught by the experience of eighteen years spent amongst the Guaranies,
and Abipones, I profess to hold the same opinion, having myself seen
most barbarous savages born in the woods, accustomed from their earliest
age to superstition, slaughter, and rapine, and naturally dull and
stupid as brutes, who, after their removal to the colonies of the
Jesuits, by daily instruction and by the example of old converts, became
well acquainted with and attached to the divine law. Although the
Americans are but slow of understanding, yet when the good sense of the
teacher compensates for the stupidity of his pupils, they are
successfully converted to civilization and piety, and even instructed in
arts of all kinds. If you wish to see, with your own eyes, to what a
degree instruction sharpens the wits of the Indians, and enlarges their
comprehensions, go and visit the Guarany towns; in all of which you will
find Indians well skilled in the making and handling of musical
instruments, in painting, sculpture, cabinet-making, working metals of
every kind, weaving, architecture, and writing; and some who can
construct clocks, bells, gold clasps, &c. according to all the rules of
art. Moreover, there were many who printed books, even of a large size,
not only in their native tongue, but in the Latin language, with brass
types, which they made themselves. They also write books with a pen so
artfully, that the most discerning European would swear they were
printed. The Bishops, Governours, and other visitants, were astonished
at the workmanship of the Indians, which they saw or heard of in the
Guarany towns. The Guaranies were instructed in music, and other arts,
by the Jesuit Missionaries, Italians, Flemings, and Germans, who found
the Indians docile beyond their expectation. Of this, however, I am
perfectly certain, that the Indians comprehend what they see sooner and
more easily than what they hear, like the rest of mankind, who are all
more readily instructed by the eyes than by the ears. If you desire a
Guarany to paint or engrave any thing, place a copy before his eyes, and
he will imitate it and execute his task with accuracy and elegance. If a
pattern be wanting, and the Indian be left to his own devices, he will
produce nothing but stupid bungling work, though you may have
endeavoured to explain your wishes to him as fully as possible. Neither
should you imagine that the Americans are deficient in memory. It was an
old custom in the Guarany Reductions to make the chief Indian of the
town, or one of the magistrates, repeat the sermon just delivered from
the pulpit before the people in the street, or in the court-yard of our
house; and they almost all did it with the utmost fidelity, without
missing a sentence. Any piece of music which they have either sung or
played on the flute, or organ, two or three times from note, becomes so
infixed in their memory, that if the music paper were carried away by
the wind, they would have no further occasion for it. From these things
a theologian will infer that the thinking powers of the Abipones are not
circumscribed by such narrow limits as to render them incapable of
knowing, or at least suspecting the existence of a God, the creator and
governour of all things, from the sight of the things created. The
nation of the Guaranies, though formerly very ferocious, knew the
supreme Deity, whom they call _Tupâ_, a word composed of two particles,
_tû_, a word of admiration, and _pà_, of interrogation.

I said that the Abipones were commendable for their wit and strength of
mind; but, ashamed of my too hasty praise, I retract my words, and
pronounce them fools, idiots, and madmen. Lo! this is the proof of their
insanity! They are unacquainted with God, and with the very name of God,
yet affectionately salute the evil spirit, whom they call _Aharaigichi_,
or _Queevèt_, with the title of grandfather, _Groaperikie_. Him they
declare to be their grandfather, and that of the Spaniards, but with
this difference, that to the latter he gives gold and silver, and fine
clothes, but that to them he transmits valour; for they account
themselves more courageous and intrepid than any of the Spaniards.
Should you ask them what their grandfather formerly was, and of what
condition, they will confess themselves utterly ignorant on the subject.
If you persist in your interrogations, they will declare this
grandfather of theirs to have been an Indian—so barren and absurd is
their theology. The Abipones think the Pleiades to be the representation
of their grandfather; and as that constellation disappears at certain
periods from the sky of South America, upon such occasions, they suppose
that their grandfather is sick, and are under a yearly apprehension that
he is going to die: but as soon as those seven stars are again visible
in the month of May, they welcome their grandfather, as if returned and
restored from sickness, with joyful shouts, and the festive sound of
pipes and trumpets, congratulating him on the recovery of his health.
_Quemen naachic latenc! layàm nauichi enà? Ta yegàm! Layamini!_ What
thanks do we owe thee! and art thou returned at last? Ah! thou hast
happily recovered!—With such exclamations, expressive of their joy and
their folly, do they fill the air. Next day they all go out to seek
honey to make mead, and, as soon as that is prepared, they assemble in
one place, at the setting of the sun, to make public demonstration of
gladness. They pass the night, the married Abipones sitting on the
ground on skins, the by-standing women singing with a loud voice, and
the crowd of single persons laughing and applauding, by the light of
torches, which shine here and there about the market-place. Some female
juggler, who conducts the festive ceremonies, dances at intervals,
rattling a gourd full of hardish fruit-seeds to musical time, and,
whirling round to the right with one foot, and to the left with another,
without ever removing from one spot, or in the least varying her
motions. This foolish crazy dance is interrupted every now and then by
the horrid clangor of military trumpets, in which the spectators join,
making a loud noise by striking their lips with their hands. Yet in the
midst of all this you can never perceive the smallest deviation from
strict decorum. The men are decently separated from the women; the boys
from the girls. The female dancer, the priestess of these ridiculous
ceremonies, as a mark of particular favour, rubs the thighs of some of
the men with her gourds, and, in the name of their grandfather, promises
them swiftness in pursuing enemies and wild beasts. At the same time the
new male and female jugglers, who are thought equal to the office, are
initiated with many ceremonies. Of this most mischievous description of
men I am now going to treat more fully.

                              CHAPTER IX.

                      AND CHEATS OF THE ABIPONES.

If I remember rightly, no nation which has been discovered in Paraguay
is without its jugglers, whom the Abipones call by the name of the
devil, Keebèt, or devilish workers, because they believe them to have
received from their grandfather, the evil spirit, the power of
performing wonderful work far surpassing human art. These rogues, who
are of both sexes, profess to know and have the ability to do all
things. There is not one of the savages who does not believe that it is
in the power of these conjurors to inflict disease and death, to cure
all disorders, to make known distant and future events; to cause rain,
hail, and tempests; to call up the shades of the dead, and consult them
concerning hidden matters; to put on the form of a tiger; to handle
every kind of serpent without danger, &c., which powers, they imagine,
are not obtained by art, but imparted to certain persons by their
grandfather, the devil. Those who aspire to the office of juggler are
said to sit upon an aged willow, overhanging some lake, and to abstain
from food for several days, till they begin to see into futurity. It
always appeared probable to me that these rogues, from long fasting,
contract a weakness of brain, a giddiness, and kind of delirium, which
makes them imagine that they are gifted with superior wisdom, and give
themselves out for magicians. They impose upon themselves first, and
afterwards upon others. But in reality they differ from the rest in
nothing but the superior ability of concerting frauds to deceive others.
Indeed it is no difficult matter to cheat ignorant and credulous
savages, who account every new thing, which they have never seen before,
a prodigy, and immediately attribute it to magic art. Once when I
happened to make some roses of red linen, to adorn the church, the
Indians watched me at my work with much interest, wondering at this
imitation of nature, and exclaiming, "This father is either a magician,
or the son of a witch." A European lay-brother of our order astonished
the Indians by turning something of wood, with much skill and
expedition, and was consequently spoken of by them all as the prince of
magicians; for till that day they had never seen a turning machine, nor
any thing turned. Were they to behold fireworks, optical glasses, the
experiments of the air-pump, and many other things which are every-day
sights amongst Europeans, amazed at what would be so novel to their
eyes, they would indeed swear them to be absolute proofs of magical art.
This is confirmed by the circumstance of the Brazilians calling their
conjurors _Payè_, and the art of working miracles _Caraybà_, which name
they afterwards gave to the European strangers, because they saw them
perform things by art which, being formerly unknown to them, they
imagined above the powers of nature. Hence also the Guaranies, whose
language bears much resemblance to that of Brazil, at this day call all
the Spaniards and Europeans _Caraỳ_.

This simplicity of an ignorant people, the crafty jugglers know well how
to turn to their own advantage, openly boasting themselves vicegerents
and interpreters of the devil, their grandfather; diviners of future
events; priests of the mysteries; creators, or, as they please, healers
of diseases; necromancers, and governours of all the elements; easily
persuading these credulous creatures any thing that comes into their
heads. They are furnished with a thousand arts of deceiving. Suppose
they have heard from some savage visitant that an enemy is coming to
attack the horde; this knowledge they will boast of to their hordesmen
as if it had been revealed to them by their grandfather, thus acquiring
the reputation of prophets. Whatever they learn either from conjecture,
from secret intelligence, or from their own examination, they predict to
be about to happen with infinite pomposity, and are always listened to
with as much attention as if they were actually inspired. Should their
prophecies not be approved by the event, they are never at a loss for
excuses to shelter their authority. Sometimes, in the dead of the night,
they suddenly announce the enemy's approach with a whistle or a pipe.
All are awakened, and without once calling in question the truth of the
juggler's prediction, fly to arms. The women and children betake
themselves to a place of safety, and whilst they pass hours, nay whole
nights, in the fear of death, and their husbands in threatening it to
the assailants, not one of the enemy makes his appearance. But that the
faith in their prophecies, and the authority of the prophets, may suffer
no diminution, they declare, with a smile, that the hostile assault has
been averted by their grandfather the devil. At other times a body of
enemies often rushes upon them on a sudden, when not one of these
prophets has either foreseen or foretold the danger of an attack. A
ridiculous event, à propos to this subject, occurs to my recollection.
About night-fall an Abiponian boy brought an iron bridle, an axe, and
some other trifles, the treasures of his family, to be guarded in my
house. On being asked the reason of his doing so, he replied that the
enemies would arrive in the night; for so it had been predicted by his
mother, a famous juggler, who declared that whenever the enemy was
approaching, she felt a pricking sensation in her left arm. "Oh!"
replied I, "you may attribute that to the fleas, my good lad. I can tell
you this on my own experience. Day and night I feel my left and my right
arm too, as well as other parts of my body, insolently pricked and stung
by fleas. If that were an indication of the enemy, we should never be
free from their attacks night or day." But my words were vain; for the
report of the old woman's presage got abroad, and disturbed the whole
town all night. Yet, as often happened, no sign or vestige of the enemy

The Abipones, whom the desire of booty or glory induces to be constantly
scheming war against others, are, in consequence, never free from
suspicions of machinations against themselves. The more ardently they
desire to take measures for their safety, the more readily do they
believe themselves in danger from others, and generally for some foolish
reason. A light rumour, smoke seen from a distance, strange foot-marks,
or the unseasonable barking of dogs, fills them with suspicions that
their lives are in danger from the enemy, especially when they dread
their vengeance for slaughters which themselves have lately committed.
The task of tranquillizing and preparing their minds devolves upon the
jugglers, who, whenever any thing is to be feared, or any thing to be
done, consult the evil spirit. About the beginning of the night a
company of old women assemble in a huge tent. The mistress of the band,
an old woman remarkable for wrinkles and grey hairs, strikes every now
and then two large discordant drums, at intervals of four sounds, and
whilst these instruments return a horrible bellowing, she, with a harsh
voice, mutters kinds of songs, like a person mourning. The surrounding
women, with their hair dishevelled and their breasts bare, rattle
gourds, and loudly chaunt funeral verses, which are accompanied by a
continual motion of the feet, and tossing about of the arms. But this
infernal music is rendered still more insupportable by other performers,
who keep constantly beating pans which are covered with deers' skin, and
sound very acutely, with a stick. In this manner the night is passed. At
day-break all flock to the old woman's tent, as to a Delphic oracle. The
singers receive little presents, and are anxiously asked what their
grandfather has said. The replies of the old women are generally of such
doubtful import, that whatever happens they may seem to have predicted
the truth. Sometimes the devil is consulted by different women, in
different tents, the same night. At day-break one party will
pertinaciously assert that the enemy are on the approach, which the
other as obstinately denying, a conflict of opinions ensues between
these foolish interpreters of oracles, which generally ends in a bloody
quarrel. Sometimes one of the jugglers is desired to call up the shade
of a dead man, from which they may immediately learn what their fates
reserve for them. A promiscuous multitude of every age and sex flocks to
the necromancer's tent. The juggler is concealed beneath a bulls hide,
which serves in the same manner as a stage-curtain. Having muttered a
few extemporary verses, sometimes with a mournful, at others with a
commanding voice, he at length declares that the shade of such a person,
whoever the people choose, is present. Him he interrogates over and over
again on future events, and, changing his voice, answers to himself
whatever he thinks proper. Not one of the auditors dares to doubt of the
presence of the shade, or the truth of its words. An Abipon of noble
family and good understanding, used many arguments to convince me that
he had with his own eyes beheld the spirit of an Indian woman, whose
husband was then living in our town. Spaniards also, who have lived from
boyhood in captivity amongst the Abipones, are quite persuaded that the
shades of the dead become visible at the call of a necromancer, that
they reply to questions, and that there is no deceit used in the
business. But what sensible man would credit such witnesses, who are in
the daily habit of deceiving and being deceived?

But from this custom of the savages of calling up the shades of the
dead, we may deduce that they believe in the immortality of the soul, as
may also be collected both from their rites and conversation. They place
a pot, a garment, arms, and horses, fastened on stakes upon graves, that
the dead may not be in want of the daily necessaries of life. They have
an idea, that those little ducks, which the Abipones call _ruililiè_,
and which fly about in flocks at night, uttering a mournful hiss, are
the souls of the departed. The Spaniard Raphael de los Rios, who
superintended the estate belonging to the town of St. Jeronymo, was
cruelly murdered in his tent, in an assault of the savages, whilst I
resided there. Some months after, an Abiponian catechumen came and
anxiously enquired whether all the Spaniards went to Heaven when they
died, and was told by my companion that those who had closed their lives
with a pious death alone obtained this happiness. "I agree entirely with
you," said the Abipon; "for the Spaniard Raphael, who was killed here
lately, seems not to have gained admittance yet; our countrymen say that
they see him riding in the plain every night, and hissing in a mournful
tone." This, though to be accounted either a mere fabrication, or the
effect of fancy, justifies the conclusion, that the savages believe the
soul to survive the body, though they are entirely ignorant of what
becomes of it, or what may be its fate. The other people of Paraguay too
hold the same opinion of the immortality of the soul.

From what I have said of the jugglers, who does not see that all their
knowledge, all their arts, consist of nothing but cunning, fraud, and
deceit? Yet the savages yield them the readiest faith and obedience
during their lifetime, and after their death revere them as divine men.
In their migrations, they reverently carry with them their bones and
other reliques as sacred pledges. Whenever the Abipones see a fiery
meteor, or hear it thunder three or four times, these simpletons believe
that one of their jugglers is dead, and that this thunder and lightning
are his funeral obsequies. If they ride out any where to hunt or fight,
they are always accompanied on their journey by one of these knaves, on
whose words and advice they fully depend, believing that he knows and
can foretel whatever may conduce to the success of the expedition; he
teaches them the place, time, and manner proper for attacking wild
beasts or the enemy. On an approaching combat, he rides round the ranks,
striking the air with a palm bough, and with a fierce countenance,
threatening eyes, and affected gesticulations, imprecates evil on their
enemies. This ceremony they think of much avail to securing them a
victory. The best part of the spoils are adjudged to him as the fruits
of his office. I observed that these crafty knaves have plenty of
excellent horses, and domestic furniture superior to that of the rest.
Whatever they wish for they extort from this credulous people. The
Abipones account it a crime to contradict their words, or oppose their
desires or commands, fearing their vengeance. When any of the jugglers
are ill disposed towards a man, they call him to their house, and are
instantly obeyed. When he is come, they harshly reproach him for some
imaginary fault or injury, and declare their intention of punishing him
in the name of their grandfather. They order him instantly to bare his
breast and shoulders, and then pierce and tear his flesh with the jaw of
the fish palometa. The poor wretch dares not utter the least complaint,
though streaming with blood, and thinks himself very fortunate in being
suffered to depart alive.

At another time, when these bugbears think any one inimical or injurious
to them, they will threaten to change themselves into a tiger, and tear
every one of their hordesmen to pieces. No sooner do they begin to
imitate the roaring of a tiger, than all the neighbours fly away in
every direction. From a distance however they hear the feigned sounds.
"Alas! his whole body is beginning to be covered with tiger spots!" cry
they. "Look, his nails are growing," the fear-struck women exclaim,
although they cannot see the rogue, who is concealed within his tent;
but that distracted fear presents things to their eyes which have no
real existence. It was scarce possible to persuade them out of their
absurd terrors. "You daily kill tigers in the plain," said I, "without
dread, why then should you weakly fear a false imaginary tiger in the
town?" "You Fathers don't understand these matters," they reply, with a
smile. "We never fear, but kill tigers in the plain, because we can see
them. Artificial tigers we do fear, because they can neither be seen nor
killed by us." I combated this poor argument, by saying, "If that
artificial tiger which your conjurors assume to alarm you cannot be
seen, how, pray, can you tell that tigers' claws and nails begin to grow
upon him?" But it was vain to reason with men in whom the extreme
pertinacity with which they adhered to the opinion of their ancestors
superseded all reason. Should a furious tempest arise, they will all
declare the deluge caused by profuse rain to be effected by the arts of
the jugglers, and whilst some attribute the flood and hurricane to one,
some to another, a still more furious and louder tempest arises amongst
themselves. Hear my account of an event which I cannot remember without
laughter. In the month of January, a quantity of heavy rain fell in the
night, and precipitating itself from a neighbouring hill, nearly
overwhelmed the colony of St. Jeronymo. The immense force of waters
broke the leathern door, rushed into my hut where I was sleeping, and
not immediately gaining egress, increased to about five palms in depth.
Awakened by the noise, I put my arms out of bed, and using them as a
plumb, measured the depth of the water; and had not the wall, which was
perforated by the flood, opened a way to the waters, I must have been
obliged to swim for my life. The same thing happened to all the Abipones
who dwelt on low ground, their huts being entirely inundated. But lo!
the next morning a report was spread, that a female juggler, who had
received some offence from one of the inhabitants of the town, had
caused this great storm in the intent of drowning the whole horde, but
that the clouds had been repulsed, the rain stopped, and the town saved
by the interposition of another juggler. That dreadful flood did not
extend to the neighbouring plain, where Pariekaikin, at that time chief
of the Abiponian jugglers, was then living with some companions, who,
after a long drought, were very desirous of getting water. This
Pariekaikin in an oracular manner declared, that Father Joseph Brigniel
had caused that rain for the advantage of his town, and that because he,
Pariekaikin, did not choose to reside there, he had, out of revenge,
directed the clouds with such art, that not a drop of rain reached his
station. For they made no hesitation in accounting that Father a
conjuror, because he happily and speedily healed the sick.

That the American jugglers enjoy familiar intercourse with the evil
spirit is not only firmly believed by the ignorant savages, but some
writers have even endeavoured to persuade Europe to believe it. For my
part, after so long an acquaintance with these nations I could never
bring myself to credit it, always remaining of opinion that they neither
know, nor are capable of performing any thing above human powers. Being
firmly persuaded that they would do me all the evil in their power, I
often accosted them in a friendly manner, and by all sorts of good
offices endeavoured to prevail upon them to alter their manner of life,
and embrace religion; for by their example almost all the rest would
regulate their conduct. But this was like washing the blackamoor white:
for these wickedest of mortals, unwilling to part with their authority
and lucrative office, left no stone unturned, no frauds unattempted to
deter and intimidate their countrymen from going to church, attending to
the instructions of the priests, and receiving baptism, daily denouncing
death, and destruction on the whole nation, unless they obeyed. Nor is
this either new or surprizing. In all the American nations the teachers
of the holy religion have found the jugglers upholders of ancient
superstition, and rocks in the way of the desired progress of the
Christian law. Good heavens! what contests, and what trouble did they
not cause to Antonio Ruiz de Montoya, the famous Guarany missionary! It
was not till he had repressed the authority of the remaining jugglers,
and commanded the bones of the dead ones, which were universally
worshipped with great honours, to be burnt in the presence of the
people, that he converted an infinite number of savages to the Christian
religion, and induced them to enter colonies. Till these knavish
_holophants_, and sycophants to speak with Plautus, are abolished,
nothing can be done with the savages; this I affirm on experience. The
town of St. Joachim not only merited the praise of religion, but
produced many fruits of genuine piety. But as snakes often lurk in the
grass, and tares in the most abundant harvest, an old Indian secretly
performed the office of juggler there, and suffered himself to be adored
as a divine person by some foolish women, whom he served in the double
capacity of physician, and prophet, at the same time carrying on a
criminal intercourse with them. These things were disclosed to me by
Ignatius Paranderi, chief Cacique of the town; so that judging it
advisable immediately to reprove this mischievous old man in public,
since private admonitions were of no avail, I repaired to his house
attended by all the chief people of the place; and imitating, in this
important business, the thundering tongue of Cicero when he fulminated
against Catiline, addressed him in the following manner. "How long,
accursed old man, will you belie your profession of Christianity, by
daring to corrupt the morals of your fellow-hordesmen with nefarious
arts, and indecent conduct? After living near twenty years in the school
of Christ, are you not afraid to practise savage rites the most
repugnant to Christian laws? Your manner of life is exactly suitable to
the name of tiger, (he was called Yaguaretè, which means a tiger;) for
by your deceits and indecencies you tear the poor little sheep of
Christ. Extreme age has conducted you to the goal of life;—unless you
repent, what a wretched death, and when dead what a sad fate awaits you!
I am equally ashamed and grieved on your account. He whom you behold
dead on the cross for you," said I, showing him a crucifix, "will drive
you headlong into hell, to punish your perfidy. Be what you appear, or
appear what you are. Regulate your conduct according to divine law. But
if savage superstitions are too firmly rooted in your breast to be ever
eradicated, return instantly to the woods of the savages, to the dens of
wild beasts where you first saw the light, that your example may not
pervert the rest of your hordesmen, who have dedicated their lives to
religion and virtue. Go, and repent of your former sins, and by
penitence and innocence of life, cleanse away the stains of them. If you
do not instantly obey my friendly admonitions, it will be worse for you.
Henceforward, you shall not go unpunished. Know, that as soon as ever I
hear of any act of superstition or indecency committed or attempted by
you, at my orders you shall be led about the streets amidst the hisses
of the people, and pelted with cow-dung, by a crowd of boys. Such is my
firm determination. This is the thyme and frankincense that shall be
offered up to the stinking divinity, which you have madly dared to
arrogate to yourself and suffered to be adored." This commination left
the old fellow alarmed, and, if I mistake not, corrected, all good men
highly approving the severity of my speech. No suspicions were ever
after entertained of him, though I inspected all things with a vigilant
eye and an attentive ear.

As the jugglers perform the offices not only of soothsayers and
physicians, but also of priests of the ceremonies of superstition, it
exceeds belief what absurd opinions they inculcate into the ignorant
minds of the Abipones. Out of many, I will mention a few. The Abipones
think that none of their nation would ever die, were the Spaniards and
the jugglers banished from America; for they attribute every one's
death, from whatever cause it may proceed, either to the malicious arts
of the one, or to the fire-arms of the other. If an Abipon die from
being pierced with many wounds, or from having his bones broken, or his
strength exhausted by extreme old age, his countrymen all deny that
wounds or weakness occasioned his death, and anxiously try to discover
by which of the jugglers, and for what reason he was killed. Because
they have remembered some of their nation to have lived for a hundred
years, they imagine that they would never die, were it not for the
jugglers and the Spaniards. What ridiculous ideas do not the Americans
entertain respecting the eclipse of the sun and moon! During the time it
lasts, the Abipones fill the air with horrid lamentations. They
perpetually cry _tayretà!_ oh! the poor little thing! grieving for the
sun and moon: for when these planets are obscured, they always fear that
they are entirely extinguished. Still more ridiculous are the Chiquito
Indians, who say that the sun and moon are cruelly torn by dogs, with
which they think that the air abounds, when they see their light fail;
attributing their blood red colour to the bites of these animals.
Accordingly, to defend their dear planets from those aërial mastiffs,
they send a shower of arrows up into the sky, amid loud vociferations,
at the time of the eclipse. But, who would believe that the Peruvian
Indians, so much more civilized than the rest, should be foolish enough
to imagine, that when the sun is obscured, he is angry, and turns away
his face from them, on account of certain crimes which they have
committed? When the moon is in darkness, they say she is sick, and are
in perpetual apprehension, that, when she dies, her immense carcass will
fall down upon the earth and crush all the inhabitants. When she
recovers her light, they say she has been healed by Pachacámac, the
Saviour of the world, who has prevented her death, that the earth may
not be utterly crushed and destroyed by her weight. Other crazy notions
are entertained by other Americans concerning eclipses. The Abipones
call a comet _neyàc_, the Guaranies _yacitatà tatatĩbae_, the smoking
star: for what we name the hair, beard, or tail of a comet, they take to
be smoke. This star is dreaded by all savages, being accounted the
forerunner and instrument of various calamities. The Peruvians have
always believed the comet to portend the death of their kings, and the
destruction of their provinces and kingdoms. Montezuma, monarch of the
Mexicans, having frequently beheld a comet like a fiery pyramid, visible
from midnight till sun-set, was greatly alarmed for himself and for his
people, and shortly after conquered and slain by Cortez.

Let us now return to the superstitions of the Abipones, who think
another star, the name of which I have forgotten, portentous,
formidable, and destructive. They say that those years in which this
star has been seen have always proved bloody and disastrous to their
nation. When a whirlwind drives the dust round in a circle, the women
throw ashes in its way, that it may be satisfied with that food, and may
turn in some other direction. But if the wind rushes into any house with
that impetuous whirling, they are certain that one of the inhabitants
will die soon. If any live bees be found in the honey-comb, which they
bring from the woods, they say that they must be killed out of doors,
imagining, that if this be done within the house, they shall never be
able to find any more honey.

The Abipones labour under many superstitions, because they abound in
jugglers, the teachers of superstition. The most famous at the time that
I lived there, were Hanetrâìn, Nahagalkìn, Oaikin, Kaëperlahachin,
Pazanoirin, Kaachì, Kepakainkin, Laamamin, and Pariekaikin, the first,
and by far the most eminent of them all, who had obtained a high
reputation for his prophecies and other peculiarities of his office.
Female jugglers abound to such a degree, that they almost out-number the
gnats of Egypt. Their chief endeavour is to inspire their countrymen
with a veneration for their grandfather, the evil spirit. On this
subject I shall now proceed to discourse.

                               CHAPTER X.

                       THE REPRESENTATION OF HIM.

When you read that the Abipones take the devil for their grandfather,
you may laugh with me at their folly, and behold their madness with pity
and wonder, but, if you be wise, let all this be done in moderation, for
still grosser errors have been entertained amongst many nations
civilized by laws and arts both human and divine. If you do but look
into history sacred or profane, you will allow that there is scarce any
thing to which divine honours have not formerly been paid. Such madness
and folly in many polished nations should so exhaust our indignation and
wonder as to make us judge mildly of the savage Abipones, educated
amongst wild beasts, and unacquainted with letters, if they simply
dignify the evil spirit with the title of their grandfather, without
giving him the name or honours of a divinity. During a seven-years'
residence amongst the savages, I never discovered any thing of that
nature. If secretly or in our absence they did any thing which a divine
would condemn, I think it proceeded from no religious inclination
towards the evil spirit, but only from fear of him, and from the
compulsion used by the jugglers; so that they rather merit the
imputation of stupidity than of blasphemy.

Not only the Abipones, but likewise the Mocobios, Tobas, Yapitalakas,
Guaycurus and other equestrian people of Chaco, boast themselves
grandsons of the evil spirit, partakers no less of their superstition
than of their madness. But how different are the opinions entertained by
the southern equestrian tribes, who wander up and down the region of
Magellan! They are all acquainted with the devil, whom they call
Balichù. They believe that there is an innumerable crowd of demons, the
chief of whom they name El El, and all the inferior ones Quezubû. They
think, however, every kind of demon hostile and mischievous to the human
race, and the origin of all evil, regarding them in consequence with
dread and abhorrence. The Puelches, Picunches, or Moluches, are
unacquainted even with the name of God. These last ascribe all the good
things they either possess or desire to the sun, and to the sun they
pray for them. When a priest of our order told them that God, the
creator of all things, and amongst the rest of the sun, should be
worshipped before the work of his own hands, they replied; "Till this
hour, we never knew nor acknowledged any thing greater or better than
the sun." The Patagonians call God Soychù, to wit, that which cannot be
seen, which is worthy of all veneration, and which does not live in the
world; hence they call the dead _Soychuhèt_, men that dwell with God
beyond the world. They seem to hold two principles in common with the
Gnostics and Manichæans, for they say that God created both good and
evil demons. The latter they greatly fear, but never worship. They
believe every sick person to be possessed of an evil demon; hence their
physicians always carry a drum with figures of devils painted on it,
which they strike at the beds of sick persons, to drive the evil demon,
which causes the disorder, from the body. The savages of Chili are
ignorant of the name and worship of God, but believe in a certain aërial
spirit, called Pillan, to whom they address supplications that he will
scatter their enemies, and thanksgiving, amidst their cups, after
gaining a victory. Pillan is also their name for thunder, and they
worship this deity chiefly when it thunders. The devil, which they call
Alveè, they detest with their whole hearts. Hence, as they think life
the best of all things, when any of them dies, they say that the evil
spirit has taken him away. The Brazilians and Guaranies call the devil
Aña, or Añanga, and fear him on account of a thousand noxious arts by
which he is signalized. In Virginia, the savages call the devil Okè, and
pay him divine honours. Since numerous and neighbouring savages regard
the devil with fear and contempt, I cannot imagine why the Abipones give
him the affectionate and honourable appellation of their grandfather.
But there is no need of reason and argument to induce the savages to
embrace the absurdest opinions, and to take what is doubtful for
certain, what is false for perfectly true. The lies of a crafty juggler,
the dreams of a foolish old woman, listened to with attentive ears, are
more than enough to make them swear that the devil is their grandfather,
or any thing still more absurd.

Why they believe the Pleiades to be the representation of their
grandfather, remains to be discussed. On this subject also I can advance
nothing but conjecture, nor can any thing certain be derived either from
the Abipones or from the historians of America. The seven daughters of
Lycurgus were placed by Jove amongst the stars, because they educated
Bacchus in the island of Naxos, and distinguished by the name of
Pleiades, as poets feign. What if we say that the Abipones, who are so
fond of drinking-parties, worshipped those stars, because they were the
nurses of Bacchus? But this pleasant idea would suit conversation better
than history. It deserves attention, that, though various nations have
paid divine honours to the sun, moon, and other stars, we cannot find a
syllable respecting the worship of the Pleiades in any part of holy
writ; unless, indeed, you say that they were adored by those nations
mentioned in the 17th Chap. and the 3d verse of Deuteronomy: "That they
go and serve other Gods, and worship them, the sun and moon, and all the
host of heaven." For, as St. Jerome observes, the "whole host of heaven"
means all the stars, including, of course, the Pleiades amongst the

After long and frequent consideration of these things, it appears most
probable to my mind, that the savages of Paraguay derived the knowledge
and worship of the Pleiades from the ancient Peruvians; who, although
they venerated God the creator and preserver of all things, (under the
name of Pachacàmac,) are nevertheless said to have adored the sea,
rocks, trees, and, what is of most importance to the present subject,
the Pleiades, whom they called Colcà. The Inca Manco Capac, their ruler
and chief lawgiver, afterwards substituted new superstitions for old
ones. He decreed, that divine honours should be paid to the sun. To it
alone divine veneration and sacrifices were paid, though the moon also,
which they call the consort of the sun, and certain stars, which they
call the handmaids of the moon, were honoured with silver altars and
adoration to a certain extent, but inferior to that paid a divinity.
Amongst the stars they thought the Pleiades worthy of a distinguished
place, and chief honour, either from the wonderful manner in which they
are placed, or from their singular brightness. After the Spaniards
obtained dominion over Peru by force of arms, it is credible that the
Peruvians, to avoid this dreadful slavery, stole away wherever they
could, and that many of them migrated into the neighbouring Tucuman, and
thence, for the sake of security, into the deserts of Chaco, close by;
where, amongst other superstitions they may have taught the inhabitants
a religious observance of the Pleiades. But since the Abipones, you will
object, cannot even express the name of God in their native tongue, and
respectfully address the evil spirit by the title of their grandfather,
why did they not learn from the Peruvians the name and worship of God,
with a hatred and contempt for the evil spirit? The latter certainly
entertained such a reverence for the God Pachacàmac, that they thought
it a part of their religion not to utter his name except on very
important occasions, and whenever they did, to accompany the mention of
it with great marks of reverence. On the other hand, they held the
devil, whom they called Cupay, in much contempt. Why did not the
Peruvians impart that reverence for God, and contempt for the evil
spirit to the Abipones, at the same time that they instructed them in a
religious observance of the Pleiades? Because vice is more easily learnt
than virtue, as healthy persons are sooner infected by the sick, than
sick ones cured by the healthy. Yet, if you persist in denying that the
knowledge of the Pleiades was brought from Peru, I will oppose you no
longer; but what hinders us from believing that it crept into Paraguay
from the neighbouring Brazil, where the Tapuyas, formerly a fierce and
numerous nation, greatly venerated the rise of the Pleiades, and
worshipped those stars as divinities with singing and dancing. As no
memorials are at hand from which any thing determinate can be elicited
on this subject, I have thought fit to adduce all these conjectures,
opinions, and probabilities which may seem in any way to relate to the
evil spirit, the infamous grandfather of the Abipones, and to the
Pleiades the representation of him.

                              CHAPTER XI.


To look for policy in savages will appear to you like seeking a knot in
a bulrush, or expecting water from a flint. The Abipones, a nation
obstinately attached to their ancient liberty, lived at their own
pleasure, impatient of all controul. Their own will was their sole law.
Nevertheless, as bees, ants, and every kind of animal, by natural
instinct, observe certain peculiarities of their species, in like manner
the most ferocious Indians pertinaciously retain, even to this day,
certain customs, the ordinances of their nation, handed down to them by
their ancestors, and regarded by them as laws. I shall proceed to treat
of the political, economical, and military regulations of the Abipones,
of their customs and magistrates.

The whole nation of the Abipones is divided into three classes: the
Riikahès, who inhabit extensive plains; the Nakaigetergehes, who love
the lurking-holes of the woods; and lastly, the Yaaucanigas, who were
formerly a distinct nation, and used a separate language. In the last
century, the Spaniards, whom they had gone out to slaughter, surprized
them by the way, and almost destroyed them all. A few who survived the
massacre, with the widows and children of the slain, joined the
neighbouring Abipones, and both nations, by inter-marriages, coalesced
into one; the old language of the Yaaucanigas falling into disuse. The
Abiponian tribes pursue the same manner of life, and their customs and
language, with the exception of a few words, are alike. Wondrous
unanimity, and a constant alliance in arms, reigned amongst them as long
as they had to deal with the Spaniards, against whom, as against a
mutual foe, they bear an innate hatred, and whose servitude they resist
with united strength. But though bound by the ties of consanguinity and
friendship, impatient of the smallest injury, they eagerly seize on any
occasion of war, and frequently weaken each other with mutual slaughter.

Like the other American savages, some of the Abipones practise polygamy
and divorce. Yet they are by no means numerous; the whole nation
consisting of no more than five thousand people. Intestine skirmishes,
excursions against the enemy, the deadly contagion of the measles and
small-pox, and the cruelty of the mothers towards their offspring, have
combined to render their number so small. Now learn the cause of this
inhumanity in the women. The mothers suckle their children for three
years, during which time they have no conjugal intercourse with their
husbands, who, tired of this long delay, often marry another wife. The
women, therefore, kill their unborn babes through fear of repudiation,
sometimes getting rid of them by violent arts, without waiting for their
birth. Afraid of being widows in the life-time of their husbands, they
blush not to become more savage than tigresses. Mothers spare their
female offspring more frequently than the males, because the sons, when
grown up, are obliged to purchase a wife, whereas daughters, at an age
to be married, may be sold to the bridegroom at almost any price.

From all this you may easily guess that the Abiponian nations abound
more in women than in men, both because female infants are seldomer
killed by their mothers, because the women never fall in battle as is
the case with the men, and because women are naturally longer lived than
men. Many writers make the mistake of attributing the present scanty
population of America to the cruelty of the Spaniards, when they should
rather accuse that of the infanticide mothers. We, who have grown old
amongst the Abipones, should pronounce her a singularly good woman who
brings up two or three sons. But the whole Abiponian nation contains so
few such mothers, that their names might all be inscribed on a ring. I
have known some who killed all the children they bore, no one either
preventing or avenging these murders. Such is the impunity with which
crimes are committed when they become common, as if custom could excuse
their impiety. The mothers bewail their children, who die of a disease,
with sincere tears; yet they dash their new-born babes against the
ground, or destroy them in some other way, with calm countenances.
Europeans will scarce believe that such affection for their dead
children can co-exist with such cruelty towards them while they are
alive, but to us it is certain and indubitable. After our instructions,
however, had engrafted a reverence for the divine law in the minds of
the Abipones, the barbarity of the mothers gradually disappeared, and
husbands, with joyful eyes, beheld their hands no longer stained with
the blood of their offspring, but their arms laden with those dear
pledges. These are the fruits and the triumphs of religion, which fills
not only Heaven but earth with inhabitants. When polygamy and divorce,
the iniquitous murdering of infants, and the liberty of spontaneous
abortion were at length, by means of Christian discipline, abolished,
the nation of the Abipones, within a few years, rejoiced to see itself
enriched with incredible accessions of both sexes.

                              CHAPTER XII.


The Abipones do not acknowledge any prince who reigns with supreme
power over the whole nation. They are divided into hordes, each of
which is headed by a man, whom the Spaniards call capitan, or cacique,
the Peruvians curáca, the Guaranies aba rubicha, and the Abipones
nelar̂eyràt, or capitâ. This word capitan sounds very grand in the
ears of the Americans. They think they are using a very honourable
title when they call the God, or King of the Spaniards, _capitan
latènc_, or _capitan guazù_, the great captain. By this word, indeed,
they mean to designate not only supreme power, and eminent dignity,
but also every kind of nobility. Sometimes miserable looking old
women, wretchedly clothed, and rich only in wrinkles, to prevent us
from thinking them of low birth, will say _aym capitâ_, I am a
captain, I am noble. I was astonished at hearing the savages buried in
the woods of Mbaeverà, and cut off from all intercourse with the
Spaniards, address their caciques by the names of Capitâ Roỹ, Capitâ
Tupânchichu, Capitâ Veraripotschiritù, neglecting their own word, _aba
rubicha_; so universal and honourable is the title of captain amongst
the savage nations. Should an Abipon meet a Spaniard dressed very
handsomely, he would not hesitate to call him captain, though he might
be of low rank, and distinguished by no dignity or nobility whatever.
Moreover, in Paraguay, Spaniards of the lowest rank, who live in the
country, are extremely ambitious of the title of captain, and if you
do not call them so every now and then, will look angry, and refuse to
do you any kind of service, even to give you a drop of water if you
are ever so thirsty. The Christian Guaranies have the same foolish
mania for titles. After having laboured hard for two or three years in
the royal camps, they think themselves amply repaid for their toils
and wounds, if, at the end of the expedition, they return to their
colony honoured by the royal governour with the title and staff of a
captain. At all times even when employed, barefoot, in building or
agriculture, they ostentatiously hold the captain's staff in their
hands. When they are carried to the grave, this wooden ensign is
suspended from the bier. When a man is at the point of death, and just
going to receive extreme unction, he puts on his military boots and
spurs, takes his staff in his hand, and in this trim awaits the
priest, and even approaching death, as if in the intent of frightening
the grim spectre away. On the domestics' expressing their surprize at
the unusual attire of the dying man, he sternly and gravely observes,
that this is the manner in which it becomes a captain to die. Such is
the signification and the honour attached to the word captain in

Amongst the Guaranies, who have embraced the Christian religion, in
various colonies, the name and office of cacique is hereditary. When a
cacique dies, his eldest son succeeds without dispute, whatever his
talents or disposition may be. Amongst the Abipones, too, the eldest son
succeeds, but only provided that he be of a good character, of a noble
and warlike disposition, in short, fit for the office; for if he be
indolent, ill-natured, and foolish in his conduct, he is set aside, and
another substituted, who is not related to the former by any tie of
blood. But to say the truth, the cacique elected by the Abipones has no
cause for pride, nor he that is rejected for grief and envy. The name of
cacique is certainly a high title amongst the Abipones, but it is more a
burden than an honour, and often brings with it greater danger than
profit. For they neither revere their cacique as a master, nor pay him
tribute or attendance as is usual with other nations. They invest him
neither with the authority of a judge, an arbitrator, or an avenger.
Drunken men frequently kill one another; women quarrel, and often imbrue
their hands in one another's blood; young men, fond of glory or booty,
rob the Spaniards, to whom they had promised peace, of whole droves of
horses, and sometimes secretly slay them: and the cacique, though aware
of all these things, dares not say a word. If he were but to rebuke them
for these transgressions, which are reckoned amongst the merits,
virtues, and victories of the savages, with a single harsh word, he
would be punished in the next drinking-party with the fists of the
intoxicated savages, and publicly loaded with insults, as a friend to
the Spaniards, and a greater lover of ease than of his people. How often
have Ychamenraikin, chief cacique of the Riikahes, and Narè, of the
Yaaucanigas, experienced this! How often have they returned from a
drinking-party with swelled eyes, bruised hands, pale cheeks, and faces
exhibiting all the colours of the rainbow!

But although the Abipones neither fear their cacique as a judge, nor
honour him as a master, yet his fellow-soldiers follow him as a leader
and governour of the war, whenever the enemy is to be attacked or
repelled. Some, however, refuse to follow him, for what Cæsar said of
the German chiefs is applicable to the Abiponian cacique: _Authoritate
suadendi magis, quam jubendi potestate audiatur_. As soon as a report is
spread of the danger of an hostile attack, the business of the cacique
is to provide for the security of his people; to increase the store of
weapons; to order the horses to be fetched from the distant pastures to
safer places; to send out watchers by night, and scouts in every
direction, to procure supplies from the neighbours, and to gain their
alliance. When the enemy is to be attacked, he rides before his men, and
occupies the front of the army he has raised, less solicitous about the
numbers of the enemy, than the firmness of his troops: for as with
birds, when one is shot, the rest fly away, in like manner the Abipones,
alarmed at the deaths or wounds of a few of their fellow-soldiers,
desert their leader, and escape on swift horses, wherever room for
flight is afforded them, more anxious about their own safety than about
obtaining a victory. Yet it must be acknowledged that this nation never
wants its heroes. Many remain intrepid whilst their companions fall
around them, and though pierced with wounds and streaming with blood,
retain even in death the station where they fought. Desire of glory,
ferocious study of revenge, or despair of escape, inspires the naturally
fearful with courage, which a Lacedemonian would admire, and which
Europe desires to see in her warriors.

Moreover, being lovers of liberty and roving, they choose to own no law,
and bind themselves to their cacique by no oaths of fidelity. Without
leave asked on their part, or displeasure evinced on his, they remove
with their families whithersoever it suits them, and join some other
cacique; and when tired of the second, return with impunity to the horde
of the first. This is quite common, and a matter of surprize to no one
that knows how fleeting is the faith, how mutable the will of the
Indians. Should a report be spread by uncertain or suspicious authors,
that the enemy are coming in a few days, it is enough. Numbers, dreading
the loss of life more than of fame, will desert their cacique, and
hasten with their families to some well-known retreats. Lest however
they should be branded with the name of deserters and cowards, they say
they are going out to hunt. Hence, whenever we priests had to defend the
new colonies filled with savage assailants, and almost destitute of
inhabitants to repel them, we generally made more use of craft and
threats than of force. The danger, or the fear of it, being dissipated,
these fugacious heroes at length came home, no one daring to accuse them
of cowardice, though no one could be ignorant that fear prompted their
departure, security their return.

Whenever a cacique determines upon undertaking an excursion, a public
drinking-party is appointed. Heated with that luscious beverage,
prepared from honey or the alfaroba, they zealously offer their services
to the cacique, who invites them to war, sing triumph before the victory
with festive vociferations, and, (who would believe it?) diligently
execute when sober, what they promised in a state of intoxication. That
love is kindled by love, as fire by fire, and that friends are gained by
liberality, are trite proverbs in Europe, and have been experienced by
us in our long commerce with the Abipones. A cacique who seldom gives a
repulse will have numerous, obedient, and affectionate hordesmen. Kind
words or looks, the marks of good-will, avail but little amongst the
savages, unless accompanied with beneficence. They require at the
cacique's hands whatever they take it into their heads to wish for,
believing that his office obliges him to satisfy the petitions of all.
If he denies them any thing, they say he is not a captain, or noble, and
insolently bestow upon him the disgraceful appellation of
wood-Indian—_Acami Lanařaik_. The cacique has nothing, either in his
arms or his clothes, to distinguish him from a common man, except the
peculiar oldness and shabbiness of them; for if he appear in the street
with new and handsome apparel, just taken out of his wife's loom, the
first person he meets will boldly cry, Give me that dress, _Tach cauê
grihilalgi_; and unless he immediately parts with it, he becomes the
scoff and the scorn of all, and hears himself called covetous and
niggardly. Sometimes, when they came to ask a great favour of me, they
would stroke my shoulder, and say in a sweet tone, You are indeed a
captain, Father; by which honourable appellation they wished me to
understand that it was unlike a captain to refuse a man any thing. As
those things which they asked me for were not always in my possession,
nor could indeed be found in any shop at Amsterdam, I told them I was no
captain, that they might bear a refusal with good humour, and attribute
it to poverty, not to ill-nature. But it was all in vain. They construe
a Father's excuse into a falsehood, and exclaim, not without much
laughter on both sides, What a liar, what a miser you are! I found that
those caciques had abundance of followers who were active and successful
in the acquirement of booty, free from sordid avarice, and fond of
displaying an unbounded liberality towards their hordesmen. Kaapetraikin
and Kebachin had crowds of soldiers in their service, because they were
distinguished for dexterity and assiduity in depredation; the same men,
when decrepit with extreme age, inadequate to undertaking excursions,
and consequently poor, found none but relations continue in their

I must not omit to mention that the Abipones do not scorn to be governed
by women of noble birth; for at the time that I resided in Paraguay,
there was a high-born matron, to whom the Abipones gave the title of
_Nelar̂eycatè_, and who numbered some families in her horde. Her origin,
and the merits of her ancestors, procured her the veneration of others.
The Catholic kings themselves, and their governours, acknowledge the
rank of the caciques of every nation, and dignify them with the title of
nobility, prefixing the word _Don_ to their names, according to the
Spanish fashion. It is also customary, throughout the whole of Spanish
America, for the Indian caciques, after they have received baptism, and
sworn allegiance to the Catholic king, to retain, and transmit to their
posterity the dominion they possessed when savage, over the savages
subject to their power: which is also observed amongst the Guaranies,
with this provision, however, that the caciques themselves and the
Indians under their authority, are obliged to obey the corregidor, and
other magistrates of the town. In every Guarany town, there are a number
of caciques, who, if men of abilities, are often promoted to the office
of magistrates, that the Indians may not suspect the Europeans of
despising their nobility. There were five caciques in the town of St.
Joachim, over which I presided. Their names were Don Ignatius Paranderi,
Don Miguel Yeyù, Don Marco Quirakerà, Don Joseph Xavier, and Don Miguel
Yazukà; which last performed the office of corregidor for many years.
Though a native of the woods, he was both exceedingly attached to
Christian discipline, and intrepid in guarding it; indeed he was above
all praise; which is certainly very uncommon and wonderful, as, to say
the truth, we have often found the caciques more stupid than the common
people, and less skilful in the public employments of the town. Who,
therefore, can blame the Abipones, if, setting aside the privilege of
birth, they elect a cacique, who, though of obscure origin, is
distinguished for military valour?

                             CHAPTER XIII.

                      THE ECONOMY OF THE ABIPONES.

The wild Abipones live like wild beasts. They neither sow nor reap, nor
take any heed of agriculture. Taught by natural instinct, the
instructions of their ancestors, and their own experience, they are
acquainted with all the productions of the earth and the trees, at what
part of the year they spontaneously grow, what animals are to be found
in what places, and what arts are to be employed in taking them. All
things are in common with them. They have no proprietors, as with us, of
lands, rivers, and groves, who possess the exclusive right of hunting,
fishing, and gathering wood there. Whatever flies in the air, swims in
the water, and grows wild in the woods, may become the property of the
first person that chooses to take it. The Abipones are unacquainted with
spades, ploughs, and axes; the arrow, the spear, the club, and horses,
are the only instruments they make use of in procuring food, clothing,
and habitation. As all lands do not bear all things, and as various
productions grow at various times of the year, they cannot continue long
in one situation. They remove from place to place, wherever they can
most readily satisfy the demands of hunger and thirst. The plains abound
in emus, and their numerous eggs, in deer, tigers, lions, various kinds
of rabbits, and other small animals peculiar to America, and also in
flocks of partridges. Numbers of stags, exactly like those of our
country, frequent the banks of the larger rivers. Innumerable herds of
wild boars are almost constantly to be seen in marshy places, which they
delight in, in the neighbourhood of a wood. The groves, besides antas,
and tamanduas, contain swarms of monkeys and parrots. The lakes and
rivers, which abound in fish, produce water-wolves, water-dogs,
capibaris, innumerable otters, and flocks of geese and ducks. I do not
mention the great multitude of tortoises, as neither the Abipones nor
Spaniards eat them in Paraguay. At stated times of the year, they
collect quantities of young cormorants, on the banks of rivers, and
reckon them amongst the delicacies of the table. Were none of these
things to be procured, tree fruits and hives of excellent honey would
never be wanting. The various species of palms alone will supply meat,
drink, medicine, habitation, clothes, arms, and what not, to those that
are in need. Under the earth, and even under the water, grow esculent
roots. Two species of the alfaroba, commonly called St. John's bread,
throughout great part of the year, produce extremely wholesome, and by
no means unsavoury food, both meat and drink. See the munificence of God
even towards those by whom he is not worshipped! Behold a rude image of
the golden age! The Abipones have it in their power to procure all the
appurtenances of daily life, with little or no labour, and though
unacquainted with money of every kind, are commodiously supplied with
all necessaries; for if a long drought have exhausted the rivers, they
will find water even in the most desert plains, under the leaves of the
caraquatà, or they can suck little apples, which are full of a watery
liquor like melons, and grow under the earth, or dig a well in the
channel of a dried-up river, and see water sufficient for themselves and
their horses spring up from thence. A Spaniard, in the wilds of America,
will pine with thirst, either from being ignorant of these things, or
impatient of the labour of obtaining them.

As the supports of life are not all found collected together in one
place, nor will suffice for a long time, or a great number of hordesmen,
the Abipones are obliged to change their residence, and travel about
continually. Neither rugged roads, nor distances of places, prevent them
from a journey; for both men and women travel on horses which are swift
and numerous there, and if they are in haste, traverse vast tracts of
land every day. I shall now describe the equipment of the horse, and the
method of riding. The bit which they use is composed of a cow's horn
fastened on each side to four little pieces of wood placed transversely,
and to a double thong which supplies the place of a bridle. Some use
iron bits, of which they are very proud. The major part have saddles
like English ones, of a raw bull's hide stuffed with reeds. Stirrups are
not in general use. The men leap on to their horse on the right side.
With the right hand they grasp the bridle, with the left a very long
spear, leaning upon which they jump up with the impulse of both feet,
and then fall right upon the horse's back. The same expedition in
dismounting, which would excite the admiration of a European, is very
useful to them in skirmishes. They use no spurs even at this day. For a
whip, they make use of four strips of a bull's hide twisted together,
with which they stimulate new or refractory horses to the course, not by
the sense of pain, but by the fear excited by the cracking of the whip.
The saddles used by the women are the same as those of the men, except
that the former, more studious of external elegance, have theirs made of
the skin of a white cow. When an Abiponian woman wants to mount her
horse, she throws herself up to the middle upon its neck, like men in
Europe, and then separating her feet on both sides, places herself in
the saddle, which has no cushion; nor does the hardness of it offend her
in journeys of many days; from which you may perceive that the skin of
the Abipones is harder than leather, being rendered callous by their
constantly riding without a cushion. Indians who ride much and long
without saddles, frequently hurt and wound the horse's back, without
receiving any injury themselves. I will now describe their manner of
travelling when they remove from one place to another. The wife, besides
her husband's bow and quiver, carries all the domestic furniture, all
the pots, gourds, jugs, shells, balls of woollen and linen thread,
weaving instruments, &c. These things are contained in boar-skin bags,
suspended here and there from the saddle; where she also places the
whelps, and her young infant if she have one. Besides these things, she
suspends from the sides of the saddle a large mat, with two poles, to
fix a tent wherever they like, and a bull's hide to serve for a boat in
crossing rivers. No woman will set out on a journey without a stake like
a palm branch, broad at each side and slender in the middle, made of
very hard wood, and about two ells long, which serves admirably for
digging eatable roots, knocking down fruits from trees, and dry boughs
for lighting a fire, and even for breaking the heads and arms of
enemies, if they meet any by the way. With this luggage, which you would
think a camel could hardly carry, are the women's horses loaded in every
journey. But this is not all. You often see two or three women or girls
seated on one horse: not from any scarcity of beasts, all having plenty,
but because they are sworn enemies to solitude and silence. As few
horses will bear more than one rider, unless accustomed to it, they
immediately throw the female trio, but generally without doing them any
injury, except that these Amazons, when seen sprawling like snails upon
the ground, excite the mirth of the spectators, and amidst mutual
laughter, try to scramble again on to the rustic steed, as often as they
are thrown off.

The company of women is attended by a vast number of dogs. As soon as
they are mounted, they all look round, and if one be missing out of the
many which they keep, begin to call him with their usual _nè nè nè_
repeated as loud as possible a hundred times, till at last they see them
all assembled. I often wondered how, without being able to count, they
could so instantly tell if one were missing out of so large a pack. Nor
should they be censured for their anxiety about their dogs; for these
animals, in travelling, serve as purveyors, being employed, like hounds,
to hunt deer, otters, and emus. It is chiefly on this account that every
family keeps a great number of dogs, which are supported without any
trouble; plenty of provender being always supplied by the heads, hearts,
livers, and entrails of the slaughtered cattle; which, though made use
of by Europeans, are rejected by the savages. The fecundity of these
animals in Paraguay corresponds to the abundance of victuals. They
scarce ever bring forth fewer than twelve puppies at a birth. When the
period of parturition draws nigh, they dig a very deep burrow, furnished
with a narrow opening, and therein securely deposit their young. The
descent is so artfully contrived with turnings and windings, that,
however rainy the weather may be, no water can penetrate to this
subterranean cave. The mother comes out every day to get food and drink,
when she moans and wags her tail as if to excuse her absence to her
master; at length, at the end of many days, she shows her whelps abroad,
though she certainly cannot boast of their beauty: for the Indian dogs
have no elegance of form, they are generally middle-sized, and of
various colours, as with us. They are neither so small as the dogs of
Malta and Bologna, nor so large as mastiffs. You never see any of those
shaggy curly dogs, which are so fond of the water, and so docile, except
amongst the Spaniards, who have them sent over in European ships. But
though the Indian dogs do not excel in beauty, they are by no means
inferior to those of Europe in quickness of scent, in activity,
vigilance, and sincere affection for their masters. In every Abiponian
colony, some hundred dogs keep continual watch, and by the terrible
howling and barking which they nightly utter in chorus, at the slightest
motion, perpetually disturbed our sleep, but never secured us from being
surprized by the enemy; a troop of whom would often steal into the
colony, whilst the whole of the dogs maintained a profound silence. Yet
none of the Abipones ever blamed them, foolishly imagining them
bewitched by the magic arts of the enemy's jugglers. It may be reckoned
amongst the blessings of Paraguay, that it is unacquainted with madness
in dogs, or any kind of cattle, and that hydrophobia is unknown here.
This must be accounted a singular benefit of Providence, and one of the
wonders of nature in a country where beasts are frequently distressed
both with the burning heat of heaven, and with long thirst, for want of
water, which is not to be got for many leagues. But let us now take
leave of the female riders, and of the dogs that accompany them, and
direct our attention to the Abipones, their husbands.

The luggage being all committed to the women, the Abipones travel armed
with a spear alone, that they may be disengaged to fight or hunt, if
occasion require. If they spy any emus, deer, stags, boars, or other
wild animals, they pursue them with swift horses, and kill them with a
spear. If they can meet with nothing fit to kill and eat, they set fire
to the plain which is covered with tall dry grass, and force the
animals, concealed underneath, to leap out by crowds, and in flying from
the fire to fall into the cruel hands of the Indians, who kill them with
wood, iron, or a string, and afterwards roast them. Should every thing
else be wanting, the plains abound in rabbits, to afford a breakfast,
dinner, or supper. To strike fire, they have no occasion for either
flint or steel, the place of which is supplied by pieces of wood, about
a span long, one of which is soft, the other hard. The first, which is a
little pierced in the middle, is placed underneath; the harder wood,
which has a point like an acorn, is applied to the bole of the softer,
and whirled quickly round with both hands. By this mutual and quick
attrition of both woods, a little dust is rubbed off which at the same
moment catches fire and emits smoke; to this the Indians apply straw,
cow-dung, dry leaves, &c. for fuel. The soft wood used for this purpose
is taken either from the tree ambaỹ from the shrub caraquatà, or from
the cedar; but the harder, which they whirl round with the hand, comes
from the tree tataỹi, which affords a saffron-coloured wood, as hard as
box, and fit for dying clothes yellow, together with mulberries very
like those of our own country.

Whenever they think fit to sleep at noon, or pass the night by the way,
they anxiously look out for some place affording an opportunity of
water, wood, and pasture. If there arise any suspicion of a hostile
ambuscade, they hide themselves in lurking holes, rendered inaccessible
by the nature of the place. You would say that they and their families
are at home, wherever they go, for they carry about mats to serve for a
house, as a snail does its shell. Two poles are fixed into the ground,
and to them is tied a mat, twice or thrice folded to exclude the wind
and rain. That the ground upon which they lie may not be wetted by a
heavy shower, they providently dig a little channel at the side of their
tent, that the waters may flow off, and be carried elsewhere. They
generally send a tame mare with a bell about her neck to a drove of
horses, when they are sent to pasture; for they will never go out of
sight of her, and if dispersed up and down the plain, through fear of a
tiger, return to her as to their mother; on which account the Spaniards
call this mare _la madrina_, and the Abipones, _latè_, which means a
mother. For the same reason, on a few of the horses they place shackles
of soft leather, that they may crop the grass without wandering far from
the tent, and be at hand, if it be found necessary to travel in the
night. Not only the men, but even very young women cross rivers without
ford, bridge, or boat, by swimming. The children, the saddles, and other
luggage are sent over on a bull's hide, called by the Abipones,
_ñata`c_, and by the Spaniards, _la pelota_, and generally made use of
in crossing the smaller rivers. I will describe the rude structure of
it. A hairy, raw, and entirely undressed hide is made almost square, by
having the extremities of the feet and neck cut off. The four sides are
raised like a hat, to the height of about two spans, and each is tied
with a thong, that they may remain erect, and preserve their squareness
of form. At the bottom of the pelota, the saddles and other luggage are
thrown by way of ballast, in the midst of which the person that is to
cross the river, sits, taking care to preserve his balance. Into a hole
in the side of the pelota, they insert a thong instead of a rope, which
a person, swimming, lays hold of with his teeth and with one hand,
whilst he uses the other for an oar, and thus gently draws the pelota
along the river, without shaking or endangering the person within in the
least, though a high wind may have greatly agitated the waves. If the
coldness of the water cramps the man that drags the pelota, so that he
is disenabled from swimming, and would otherwise be drowned, he will be
carried safely along with the pelota to the opposite bank, by the force
of the waves. If rivers of a wider channel and a more rapid stream are
to be crossed, the swimmer holds the tail of the horse, which swims
before, with one hand, to support himself, and drags the pelota with the
other. In so many and such long JOURNEYS, I practised this sort of
navigation almost daily, and not unfrequently repeated it often on the
same day. At first it appeared very formidable and dangerous to me. But
instructed by frequent practice, I have often laughed at myself and my
imaginary danger, and always preferred a hide in crossing a river, to a
tottering skiff or boat, which is constantly liable to be overturned. If
many days' rain has wetted the hide, and made it as soft as linen,
boughs of trees are placed under the four sides, and the bottom of the
pelota, which supports the hide, and strengthens it to cross the river
in safety. American captains of Spanish soldiers will not swim, although
they know how, that they may not be obliged to strip before their men.
To reach, therefore, the opposite shore, they sit upon a pelota, which,
scorning the assistance of another person, they impel forwards by two
forked boughs for oars.

The Abipones enter even the larger rivers on horseback: but when the
ford begins to fail, they leap from their horse into the water. With
their right hand they hold the reins of the horse, and row with the
same; in their left they grasp a very wide spear, at the end of which
they suspend their clothes in the air, that they may not be wetted.
Every now and then they give the horse a blow, if he suffers himself to
be carried down with the stream, to bring him back to the right course,
and make him strain to the appointed part of the opposite shore, which
should be neither marshy nor weedy, nor of a very high bank, so that it
may afford an easy ascent. It was laughable to see the crowds of savages
swimming at my side, with nothing but their heads above water, yet
conversing as pleasantly as others would on the green turf. How often
have I crossed those tremendous rivers sitting on a hide in the midst of
them! You would have called them so many Neptunes, so familiar were they
with the water. Their boldness exceeds the belief of Europeans. Whenever
they had a mind to go from St. Ferdinand to Corrientes, they swam across
that vast sea, which is composed of the united streams of the great
Paraguay and the great Parana, with their horses swimming beside them,
to the great astonishment of the Spaniards: for in this part the river
is formidable to ships even, from its width, depth, and incredible
rapidity, and often filled myself and my companions with terror when we
sailed upon it, whilst I resided in that colony. Formerly those savage
plunderers, whenever they hastened home with a great number of beasts
taken from the Spaniards, prudently crossed this immense river towards
the South, going from island to island; by which means they had time to
recruit themselves and their beasts, after the fatigue of swimming, in
each of the islands. It will be worth while to describe the manner in
which many thousands of horses, mules, and oxen, are sent across great
rivers to the opposite shore. The herd of beasts is not all driven by
one person, but divided into companies, each of which is inclosed behind
and on both sides, by men on horseback, to keep them from running away:
to prevent which, some erect two hedges, wider at the beginning, and
narrower at the shore itself, through which the beasts are driven, so
that more than two or three cannot enter the river at a time. The tame
oxen and horses are sent first into the water, and the wild ones follow
without delay. Great care must be taken, that they be not deprived of
the power of swimming, by being too much crowded. Behind and on both
sides the beasts are watched by Indians, either swimming, or conveyed in
a little bark, that they may make straight for the opposite shore: for
when left alone, they suffer themselves to be carried down by the
stream, and float to those places which forbid all access, on account of
the high banks, marshes, or trees, by which they are impeded. If an ox
or a horse be whirled round in swimming, it will be sucked up by the
water, unable to exert itself any longer. To prevent this, the Abipones,
even in the midst of the river, mount those oxen, that are either
sluggish or refractory, and taking hold of their horns with both hands,
sit upon their backs, striking their sides with both feet, till, in
spite of themselves, they are guided to the opposite shore. When arrived
at land, fear gives way to rage, and they attack every thing that comes
in their way, with their threatening horns. You will hardly believe that
I always found fierce bulls less dexterous in crossing rivers, than
cows, which, on account of the greater timidity of their nature, are
more obedient to the driver, and strain more eagerly to the shore. Oxen
tied by the horns to a tolerably large boat often swim across in perfect
security: for as the heads of the animals are suspended on each side the
boat, their bodies scarcely find any difficulty in swimming. In this
manner I sent twenty oxen at a time from the estate, to the colony of
the Rosary, across the river Paraguay. More or fewer oxen may be tied to
the bark, according to the size of it. Sometimes the herd of beasts is
surrounded by long barks or skiffs on every side, lest, when weary of
swimming, they should float down with the stream, and wander from that
part of the shore that had been fixed on for their ascent. But the
Abipones, not needing these precautions of the Spaniards, could
successfully transport crowds of swimming oxen across any rivers,
themselves swimming beside them. This expertness of the Abipones in
swimming across rivers, I have long desired to see in European armies,
which are often prevented from attacking the enemy, by the intervention
of some large river, though every thing conspired to yield them an easy
victory, if the soldiers could cross the river by swimming, without the
noise of bridges or boats. But, alas! out of a numerous army, how few
are able to swim! Much service has indeed been rendered the Austrian
camp, by the Croatian forces, who, not waiting for boats or bridges,
have so often surprized the enemy on the opposite shore, apprehending no

                              CHAPTER XIV.
                     THE FABRIC OF OTHER UTENSILS.

Those persons are egregiously mistaken, who imagine that all the
Americans, without distinction, wear no other clothes than those in
which they were born. This error seems to have arisen from the
misrepresentations of pictures or engravings, in which every American
Indian is pourtrayed like a hairy Satyr, or like one of the Cyclops,
Brontes, or Steropes, or naked Pyracmon. I do not deny that there do
exist in America nations entirely destitute of clothing; but that this
nakedness is common to them all, is very far from being true. The
Payaguas are abominated by the other Indians, because they are
unacquainted with dress and with modesty. They think themselves
elegantly attired when they are painted with various colours from head
to foot, and loaded with glass beads. We found that the Mbayas had
plenty of clothes, but made a bad use of them: for they cover those
parts of the body which may safely be exposed to the eyes of all, and
bare those which modesty commands to be concealed. The Abipones, when I
asked them their opinion of the Mbayas, said they thought them like
dogs, because they were as impudent. My companions too, who dwelt
amongst them, complained much to me of their shamelessness and public
indecencies. The women, however, of both nations wear that degree of
clothing which modesty requires. In the woods called Mbaeverà, or
Mborebiretâ, the country of the antas, I found the men clothed up to the
middle with a thin veil, and naked every where else; but the female
Indians are decently clothed from the shoulders to the heels, with a
white cloth which they weave themselves. I observed the same amongst the
wood-Indians who wander on the shores of the Tapiraguaỹ and the Yeyuy,
crowds of whom were brought by the Jesuits to the new colony of St.
Stanislaus. An old Indian woman and her daughter fifteen years of age,
whom I found in the woods betwixt the rivers Mondaỹ and Empalado, wore
nothing but a net woven of the hemp caraquatà, in which they slept at
night, so that the same dress, which was certainly too transparent,
served them both for bed and clothing.

I can truly say of the Abipones, that whilst they were in a state of
barbarism, and roamed up and down like brutes, they were all decently,
and, in their fashion, elegantly clothed. They will not suffer a female
infant, a few months old even, to remain naked. We have often vainly
desired to see this decency imitated by the Spaniards in Paraguay,
especially those of the cities Asumpcion and Corrientes. How often do
grown women allege the excessive heat of the sun as an excuse for
throwing off their clothes, without the least regard to modesty, in the
public street! For this they are frequently reprehended by preachers,
both in public and private. Do you wish to be made acquainted with the
kind of clothing which the Abipones wear? They use a square piece of
linen, without any alteration, or addition of sleeves, thrown over their
shoulders, tying one end of it to the left arm, and leaving the right
disengaged. They confine this woollen garment, which displays various
colours, and flows from the shoulders to the heels, with a woollen
girth. In leaping on to a horse they keep back their dress with their
knees, that they may not be quite bare: for they know of no such things
as shoes, stockings, or drawers, and are for that reason better prepared
to swim rivers, and ride on horseback. Besides this vest which I have
described, they throw another square piece of linen over their
shoulders, by way of a cloak, which, tied in a knot under the neck, both
defends them against the cold, and gives them a respectable appearance.
When they are hewing down a tree, and are afraid of being fatigued, they
will sometimes throw off their clothes, if they be out of sight. Some
strip themselves quite naked when they are going to join battle with the
savages, partly that, being lighter, they may be so much the more
expeditious in avoiding their adversaries' weapons, partly, that they
may appear to despise wounds. In long JOURNEYS, they generally go
bareheaded amidst rain, heat, and wind. Some, however, tie a piece of
red woollen cloth round their forehead, which is a great defence against
the heat of the sun and pains in the head. They greatly prize a European
hat, especially the young men, who likewise are much delighted with
Spanish saddles, with spurs, and iron bridles. The women wear the same
dress as the men, adjusted in rather a different manner.

The clothing of the Abipones is the chief employment of the women, who
are commendable for their assiduity, and almost avidity in labour: for
not to mention the daily business of the house, they shear sheep, spin
the wool very neatly, dye it beautifully, by the aid of alum, with any
colours they may have at hand, and afterwards weave it into cloth,
adorned with a great number of lines and figures, and with a variety of
colours. You would take it for a Turkey carpet, worthy of noblemen's
houses in Europe. The loom and the instruments of which it consists are
confined to a few reeds and sticks. The American women seem to have a
natural talent for making various useful articles. They can mould pots
and jugs of various forms of clay, not with the assistance of a turning
machine, like potters, but with their hands alone. These clay vessels
they bake, not in an oven, but out of doors, placing sticks round them.
They cannot glaze them with lead, but they first dye them of a red
colour, and then rub them with a kind of glue to make them shine. There
is never any snow, and very little frost, in the region inhabited by the
Abipones: but when the South wind blows hard, the air becomes very
piercing, and sometimes intolerably so to persons thinly clad. The
Abipones shield themselves from the cold with a cloak made of otters'
skins. This garment, which is likewise square, is laboriously and
elegantly made by the women: whose business it is to strip off the skins
of the otters, after they have been caught by dogs, and then fix them to
the ground with very slender pegs, that they may not wrinkle. After
being dried, they are painted red, in square lines like a dice box. The
Indian women cannot dress hides like curriers, but after having well
rubbed and softened them with their hands, they sew them with a very
thin thread, with so much skill, that the seams escape the quickest eye,
and the whole cloak looks like one skin. For needles they use very small
thorns, with which they pierce the otters' skins, as shoemakers do
leather with an awl, so that the slender thread of the caraquatà can be
passed through it. This cloak is commonly used both by men and women,
when the air is cold; but the old people of both sexes will not part
with a hair of these otters' skins, even in the hottest weather. Some of
the poorer sort appear clothed in the skins of stags, does, and tigers.
All the Americans, who are not entirely devoid of modesty, cover
themselves with skins to keep out the cold. Others substitute, or wear
in addition, the many coloured feathers of birds, sewed together with
singular art; but this is more for the sake of adorning than of covering
the body. The savages who inhabit the mountains, generally make threads
of the caraquatá, or of the bark of the tree pinô, with which they weave
a kind of cloth to serve in part for a covering. The Abiponian widows,
whilst they mourn for their husbands, cover their shorn heads and their
shoulders with this same kind of cloth. When the Abipones are bathed in
sweat, the otters' skins, from not being dressed, exhale, I confess, a
by no means balsamic odour. On coldish nights they are used for
counterpanes. These skins and cloaks, when worn by use, generally serve
to wrap and cover infants, and, when they have no linen in the house, to
bind up wounds.

In former ages the Americans preferred nakedness to clothing so greatly,
that they refused or threw away the garments offered them by the
Europeans. Now, however, the ardour with which the Paraguayrian Indians
seek fine dresses exceeds belief. Give them a handsome hat, some pieces
of red linen or cloth, or a string of glass-beads, and they will pay you
the profoundest homage and obedience. Day and night did the Abipones
pester us with the following petition: Give me a dress, father! _Paỳ!
Tachcauê hihilalk_, or _aapar̂aik_. There is no surer method of gaining
the hearts of the Indians than giving them clothes. No American colony
will abound in Christian inhabitants, unless it also abound in sheep and
oxen; the wool of the former being necessary to clothe, and the flesh of
the latter to feed the bodies of the Indians. If both or either of these
articles be wanting, they will return to their retreats, and think
themselves richer in being foes than friends to the Spaniards. For, as I
have often heard them complain, they found war with the Christians more
to their advantage than peace. In times of declared enmity, they
acquired by arms what, when peace was established, they failed of
obtaining by prayers. The most eloquent teacher of God's word will do
but little good in Paraguay, unless he be liberal in clothing and
feeding his disciples. Should an angel descend from Heaven to make the
Abipones acquainted with God and his commandments, if he should come
empty handed, unprovided with clothes, food, and other gifts, it would
be all in vain, he would scarce obtain a hearing. Were the blackest
demon to come up from hell, and offer them chests full of clothes, food,
knives, scissors, rings, and glass-beads, he would be called captain,
and find all the Abipones tractable and obedient. If you ask me why the
Americans have not all been induced to embrace Christianity, I will tell
you the reason. It is chiefly owing to the pernicious examples of the
old Christians, and to their want of liberality to the Indians; the
former deter them from embracing our religion, while the latter renders
them apostates to it. Another cause is to be found in the extreme, and
almost incredible scarcity of priests to instruct them, and indeed of
all things. After perusing the latter part of my history, you will
perhaps be better inclined to credit what I say.

                              CHAPTER XV.

The Abipones, in their whole deportment, preserve a decorum scarce
credible to Europeans. Their countenance and gait display a modest
cheerfulness, and manly gravity tempered with gentleness and kindness.
Nothing licentious, indecent, or uncourteous, is discoverable in their
actions. In their daily meetings, all is quiet and orderly. Confused
vociferations, quarrels, or sharp words, have no place there. They love
jokes in conversation, but are averse to indecency and ill-nature. If
any dispute arises, each declares his opinion with a calm countenance
and unruffled speech: they never break out into clamours, threats, and
reproaches, as is usual to certain people of Europe. These praises are
justly due to the Abipones as long as they remain sober: but when
intoxicated, they shake off the bridle of reason, become distracted, and
quite unlike themselves. In their assemblies, they maintain the utmost
politeness. One scarcely dares to interrupt another, when he is
speaking. Whilst one man relates some event of war, perhaps for half an
hour together, all the rest not only listen attentively, but assent at
every sentence, making a loud snort, as a sign of affirmation, which
they every now and then express with these words: _quevorken_,
certainly, _cleerà_, very true, and _chik akalagritan_, I don't in the
least doubt it. _Ta yeegàm_, or _kem ekemat!_ are exclamations of
wonder. With these words, uttered with great eagerness, they interrupt
the preacher in the midst of his discourse, thinking it a mark of
respect. They account it extremely ill-mannered to contradict any one,
however much he may be mistaken. They salute one another, and return the
salute in these words: _La nauichi?_ Now are you come? _La ñauè_, Now I
am come. But in general, for the sake of brevity, both parties only use
the word _Là_, pronounced with much emphasis. The same manner of
saluting is usual to the Guaranies, who say _Ereyupà_? Are you come?
_Ayù angâ_, I am come. When tired of a conversation, they never depart
without taking leave of the master of the house. The one who sits
nearest to him, says: _Ma chik kla leyà?_ Have we not talked enough? the
second accosts the third, and the third the fourth, in the same words,
till at length the last of the circle, seated on the ground, declares
that they have talked enough: _Kla leyà_, upon which they all rise up
together at one moment. Each then courteously takes leave of the master
of the house in these words, _Lahikyegarik_: now I am going from you; to
which he replies, _La micheroà_: now you are going from me. The plebeian
Indians say _Lahik_, now I am going. When at the door of the house, that
is, at the place where they go out, for they have no doors, they turn to
the master, and say, _Tamtařa_, I shall see you again, an expression
commonly made use of in our country. They would think it quite contrary
to the laws of good-breeding, were they to meet any one, and not ask him
where he was going: so that the word _Miekauè_ or _Miekauchitè_? where
are you going? resounds in the streets.

The men think polygamy and divorce allowable, from the example of their
ancestors, and of other American nations; but very few of the Abipones
indulge in this liberty. Repudiation is much more common than a
plurality of wives. But very many are content with one wife during the
whole of their lives. They think it both wicked and disgraceful to have
any illicit connection with other women; so that adultery is almost
unheard-of amongst them. Both boys and girls display a native hilarity
in their countenances, yet you never see them in company, or talking
together. Some time after my arrival, I played on the flute in the open
street. The crowd of women were delighted with the sweetness of a
musical instrument they had never before seen; and the youths flocked in
numbers to hear it; but as soon as they approached, the women every one
disappeared. The custom of bathing in a neighbouring stream is agreeable
to them, and practised every day, except when the air is too cold. But
do not imagine that, as syrens and dolphins are seen sporting on the
same waves in the ocean, males and females swim and wash in the same
part of the lake, or river. According to the Abiponian custom, the
different sexes have different places assigned them. Where the women
bathe, you cannot find the shadow of a man. Above a hundred women often
go out to distant plains together to collect various fruits, roots,
colours, and other useful things, and remain four or eight days in the
country, without having any male to accompany them on their journey,
assist them in their labours, take care of the horses, or guard them
amidst the perils of wild beasts, or of enemies. Those Amazons are
sufficient to themselves, and think they are safer alone. I never heard
of a single woman being torn to pieces by a tiger, or bitten by a
serpent: but I knew many men who were killed in both ways.

I do not deny that the Abipones have been savage, inhuman, and
ferocious, but only against those whom they believed to be their
enemies. Before peace was established, they afflicted all Paraguay, for
many years, with fire, slaughter, and rapine; but this they looked upon
as the privilege of war, and indeed a thing to be gloried in, because
they always found or suspected the Spaniards their enemies. They thought
they were only repelling force by force, and returning injuries for
injuries, slaughters for slaughters; which they deny to be wrong or
dishonourable; seeing the same so frequently done, in time of war, by
the Spaniards to the Portugueze, and by the Portugueze to the Spaniards.
Led by their example, they insisted upon it that they should not be
called assassins, and thieves, but soldiers, whose duty it is to offend
their adversaries, and defend themselves and their possessions to the
utmost of their power. The heads of the Spaniards severed from their
shoulders, they called their trophies, and preserved as testimonials of
their valour. The innumerable herds of cattle, the thousands of horses,
in short whatever they took from the Spaniards, they called booty justly
obtained in war. They always disown the name of robbers, in the plea
that all the cattle of the Spaniards, by right, belongs to them;
because, born on lands which the Spaniards forcibly wrested from their
ancestors, and which, in their opinion, they at this day unjustly usurp.
To eradicate these errors, we all ardently strove to instil into their
ferocious minds an affection and friendship for the Spaniards; but our
efforts were not crowned with success. Although they burnt with
hereditary hatred to the Spaniards, yet, in their very manner of killing
them, they displayed a sort of humanity. They inflicted death, but
thought it unworthy of them, after the mortal blow, to torture,
excruciate, tear, and mangle them, like other savages; though they were
wonderfully solicitous about cutting off their heads, by displaying
which they thought to testify their valour to their countrymen at home.
They generally spared the unwarlike, and carried away innocent boys and
girls unhurt. They used to feed infants, torn from their mothers'
breasts, with the juice of fruits and herbs, during a long journey, and
carried them home uninjured. If ever mothers, or their children, were
slain, it was done by youths thirsting for the blood of the Spaniards,
or by grown men enraged at the deaths of their countrymen whom the
Spaniards had slain.

The Spaniards, Indians, Negroes, or Mulattoes, taken by them in war,
they do not ill-use like captives, but treat with kindness, and
indulgence; I had almost said like children. If a master wants his
captive to do any thing, he signifies it in an asking, not a commanding
tone. _If you please_, he gently says, or _take compassion on me_, and
_bring me my horse, Amamàt gröhöchem_, or _Grcáuagiikàm, yañerla
ahöpegak tak nahörechi ena_. I never saw a captive, however dilatory or
hesitating in performing his master's orders, punished either with a
word or a blow. Many display the tenderest compassion, kindness, and
confidence towards their captives. To clothe them, they will strip their
own bodies, and though very hungry, will deprive themselves of food to
offer it them, if they stand in need of it. An old woman, wife of the
chief Cacique Alaykin, has frequently got the horse ready and saddled
it, in my presence, for a Negro captive of her's. Another old woman,
mother of the Cacique Revachigi, gave up her bed for many nights to a
sick boy, one of her captives, and, lying miserably on the floor
herself, watched day and night in attendance upon him. By this kindness
and wish to gratify, they bind their captives so firmly to them, that
they never think of taking advantage of the daily opportunities afforded
them of flight, being perfectly well satisfied with their situation. I
knew many, who, after being ransomed, and brought back to their own
country, voluntarily returned to their Abiponian masters, whom they
follow both to the chase and to the combat; little scrupulous about
shedding the blood of Spaniards, though Spaniards themselves. What a
subject for lamentation have we here! How many Spaniards by birth,
brought up from childhood amongst the Abipones, and instructed in their
ceremonies, customs, and a hundred arts of injury, became the destroyers
of Paraguay, their native soil! Whenever these men were present at the
bloody expeditions of the savages, they were not only companions of the
journey, but guides and partakers in all the slaughter, burning, and
plundering committed at such times; in a word, instruments of public
calamities, in the same manner as the Portugueze, Spanish, and Italian
renegadoes, who did so much service to the pirates of Algiers and
Morocco, by intercepting the vessels of their countrymen.

Now at this moment I have before my eyes the countenances and wicked
actions of many of these captives, whom I knew amongst the Abipones, and
who, in desire of injuring the Spaniards, and indeed in savageness,
exceeded the savages themselves. The soldiers of St. Iago, whilst
resting at noon in an excursion to Chaco, happened to cast their eyes
upon a scull, and after much debate about whom it could belong to,
clearly discovered that a short time previous, four Spaniards had been
slain in that place, and that the perpetrator of the murder was a
Spaniard, a captive, and leader of the Abipones, and more formidable to
the Spanish nation than any Abipon. Many things worthy of relation will
occur respecting this base crew, respecting Almaràz, Casco, Juanico, a
Negro of Corrientes, Juan Joseph, an Ytatingua Indian, and above all,
respecting Juan Diaz Caëperlahachin. This last, an Abipon by origin, had
been taken in war by the Spaniards, when a boy, and afterwards converted
to their religion. During twenty years which he spent in the town of St.
Iago, in the service of the Spaniard Juan Diaz Caëperlahachin, he
evinced much probity, and even piety. Every year, in the last week of
Lent, did he publicly mangle his back with a bloody scourge; but after
having effected his escape, and got back to his countrymen, he became
the scourge of the Spaniards, and shedding torrents of their blood,
obtained a high renown amongst his own people, to whom his knowledge of
roads and places rendered him eminently useful; for, in expeditions
having the slaughter of the Spaniards for their object, no man
discharged the offices of scout and leader more gloriously or more
willingly than he. Peace being subsequently established with the
Spaniards, and the colony of Concepcion founded for the Abipones, this
man, who was acquainted with many languages, performed the part of
interpreter there; abusing which office to his own purposes, he left no
stone unturned to render the friendship of the Spaniards suspicious, the
religion of Christ, and us, the teachers of that religion, odious to the
Abiponian catechumens. Feigning, however, piety and friendship, this
crafty knave succeeded in gaining an excellent character amongst the
credulous Spaniards and Abipones, though dangerous to both, and
perfectly intolerable to us who governed the colony. But lo! the
pestilent son had a still more pestilent mother. This woman, the chief
of all the female jugglers, a hundred years old, venerable to the people
on account of her wrinkles, and formidable by reason of the magic arts
she was thought to be acquainted with, never ceased exhorting her
countrymen to shun and detest the church, our instruction, and baptism,
even when administered to dying infants. Behold! a mother worthy of her
son—a bad egg of a bad crow! But the vengeance of God overtook this
accursed old woman. Flying from the town, with a band of her hordesmen,
she was killed by the Mocobios, along with many others. Of what death,
or in what place Caëperlahachin died, I am still ignorant.

The liberty of wandering at will, the abundant supply of food and
clothing, the multitude of horses, the power of being as idle and
profligate as they chose, and the completest impunity, where neither law
nor censure is to be apprehended, bind the Spanish captives to the
Abipones with so sweet a chain, that they prefer their captivity to
freedom, forgetful of their relations and their country, where they know
that they must live in obedience to the laws, and labour daily, unless
they choose to endure stripes and hunger. I have known captives of so
bad a disposition that their masters were glad to get rid of them
without ransom. In many of the captives you would look in vain for the
least trace of a Christian, or even of a man. Very few of the Abipones
have many wives at a time, though they account polygamy lawful; the
captives, seldom content with one, marry as many Spanish or Indian
captives as they can. For the Abiponian women scorn to marry either
Spaniards, or Indians of any other nation, unless, by the splendour of
their achievements, namely, slaughters and rapine, they be reputed
Abipones in nobility. The men too, accounting themselves more noble than
any other nation, never deign to marry the Spanish captives, much less
to have any clandestine intercourse with them: so that their virtue
would be safer in captivity amongst the savages, than in freedom amongst
their own countrymen, could they escape the seductive arts of their
fellow captives. In confession, I found most of the female Spaniards,
after a very long captivity amongst the Abipones, guilty of no trespass
upon the laws of chastity. They all agreed in confessing that no woman
need go astray amongst these savages, unless she herself chose it. I can
say as much for the continence of the young men, who had been long
captives amongst them.

The gentle reader will pardon this digression concerning captives, if
indeed it be a digression, because it does much towards establishing a
good opinion of the chastity and benevolence of the Abipones, which form
the subject of the present chapter, and will be further confirmed by
additional arguments. They hospitably entertain Spaniards of the lower
order, Negroes or Christian Indians, who have run away from their
masters, lost their way, or, by some other means, chanced to enter the
hordes of the Abipones, and, in the most friendly manner, offer them
food or any thing else they may stand in need of; this they do the more
cordially the more liberally these strangers abuse the Spanish nation;
but if they neglect this they are taken for spies, and undergo
considerable danger. They diligently watched over the safety of us
Jesuits, to whom was committed the management of the colonies. If they
were aware of any danger impending over us from foreign foes, they
acquainted us with it immediately, and were all intent upon warding it
from us. In JOURNEYS, when rivers were to be crossed, the horses got
ready, sudden and secret attacks of the enemy to be avoided or repelled,
it is incredible how anxiously they offered us their assistance. See!
what mild, benevolent souls these savages possess! Though they used to
rob and murder the Spaniards whilst they thought them their enemies, yet
they never take anything from their own countrymen. Hence, as long as
they are sober, and in possession of their senses, homicide and theft
are almost unheard of amongst them. They are often and long absent from
their homes, during which time they leave their little property without
a guard, or even a door, exposed to the eyes and hands of all, with no
apprehension of the loss of it, and on their return from a long journey,
find every thing untouched. The doors, locks, bars, chests, and guards
with which Europeans defend their possessions from thieves, are things
unknown to the Abipones, and quite unnecessary to them. Boys and girls
not unfrequently pilfered melons grown in our gardens, and chickens
reared in our houses, but in them the theft was excusable; for they
falsely imagined that these things were free to all, or might be taken
not much against the will of the owner. Though I have enlarged on the
native virtues of the Abipones more than it was my intention to do, I
shall think nothing has been said till I have made a few observations
relative to their endurance of labour. Who can describe the constant
fatigues of war and hunting which they undergo? When they make an
excursion against the enemy, they often spend two or three months in an
arduous journey of above three hundred leagues through desert wilds.
They swim across vast rivers, and long lakes more dangerous than rivers.
They traverse plains of great extent, destitute both of wood and water.
They sit for whole days on saddles scarce softer than wood, without
having their feet supported by a stirrup. Their hands always bear the
weight of a very long spear. They generally ride trotting horses, which
miserably shake the rider's bones by their jerking pace. They go
bareheaded amidst burning sun, profuse rain, clouds of dust, and
hurricanes of wind. They generally cover their bodies with woollen
garments, which fit close to the skin; but if the extreme heat obliges
them to throw these off as far as the middle, their breasts, shoulders,
and arms are cruelly bitten and covered with blood by swarms of flies,
gad-flies, gnats, and wasps. As they always set out upon their journeys
unfurnished with provisions, they are obliged to be constantly on the
look out for wild animals, which they may pursue, kill, and convert into
a remedy for their hunger. As they have no cups they pass the night by
the side of rivers or lakes, out of which they drink like dogs. But this
opportunity of getting water is dearly purchased; for moist places are
not only seminaries of gnats and serpents, but likewise the haunts of
dangerous wild beasts, which threaten them with sleepless nights and
peril of their lives. They sleep upon the hard ground, either starved
with cold, or parched with heat, and if overtaken by a storm, often lie
awake, soaking in water the whole night. When they perform the office of
scouts, they frequently have to creep on their hands and feet over
trackless woods, and through forests, to avoid discovery; passing days
and nights without sleep or food. This also was the case when they were
long pursued by the enemy, and forced to hasten their flight. All these
things the Abipones do, and suffer without ever complaining, or uttering
an expression of impatience, unlike Europeans, who, at the smallest
inconvenience, get out of humour, grow angry, and since they cannot bend
heaven to their will, call upon hell. What we denominate patience is
nature with them. Their minds are habituated to inconvenience, and their
bodies almost rendered insensible by long custom, even from childhood.
While yet children they imitate their fathers in piercing their breasts
and arms with sharp thorns, without any manifestation of pain. Hence it
is, that when arrived at manhood, they bear their wounds without a
groan, and would think the compassion of others derogatory to their
fortitude. The most acute pain will deprive them of life before it will
extort a sigh. The love of glory, acquired by the reputation of
fortitude, renders them invincible, and commands them to be silent.

Most of the observations I have just been making apply both to men and
women, although the latter possess virtues and vices peculiar to
themselves. All the Americans have a natural propensity to sloth, but I
gladly pronounce the Abiponian women entirely free from this foible.
Every one must be astonished at their unwearied industry. They despatch
the household business with which they are daily overwhelmed, with
alacrity and cheerfulness. It is their task to make clothes for their
husbands and children; to fetch eatable roots, and various fruits from
the woods; to gather the alfaroba, grind it, and convert it into drink,
and to get water and wood for the daily consumption of the family. A
ridiculous custom is in use amongst the Abipones, of making the most
aged woman in the horde provide water for all domestic purposes. Though
the river may be close at hand, the water is always fetched in large
pitchers on horseback, and the same method is observed in getting wood
for fuel. You will never hear one of these women complain of fatigue,
however many cares she may have to employ her mind. A noble Spaniard had
a captive Abiponian woman in his service many years, and he assured me
that she was more useful and valuable to him than three other servants,
because she anticipated his orders, and did her business seasonably,
accurately, and quickly. They justly claim the epithet of the _devout
female sex_. No sooner do they hear the sound of the bell than they all
fly to hear the Christian religion explained, and listen to the preacher
with attentive ears. They highly approve the law of Christ, because by
it no husband is allowed to put away his wife, or to marry more than
one. For this reason they are extremely anxious to have themselves and
their husbands baptized, that they may be rendered more certain of the
perpetuity of their marriage. This must be understood only of the
younger women; for the old ones, who are obstinate adherers to their
ancient superstitions, and priestesses of the savage rites, strongly
oppose the Christian religion, foreseeing that if it were embraced by
the whole Abiponian nation, they should lose their authority, and become
the scorn and the derision of all. The young men amongst the Abipones,
as well as the old women, greatly withstood the progress of religion;
for, burning with the desire of military glory and of booty, they are
excessively fond of cutting off the heads of the Spaniards, and
plundering their waggons and estates, which they know to be forbidden by
the law of God. Hence, they had rather adhere to the institutes of their
ancestors, and traverse the country on swift horses, than listen to the
words of a priest within the walls of a church. If it depended upon the
old men and the young women alone, the whole nation would long since
have embraced our religion.

Honourable mention has been frequently made by me of the chastity of the
Abiponian women: it would be wrong to be silent upon their sobriety and
temperance. It costs them much labour to prepare a sweet drink for their
husbands of honey and the alfaroba: but they never even taste it
themselves, being condemned to pure water the whole of their lives.
Would that they as carefully abstained from strife and contentions, as
they do from all strong drink! Quarrels certainly do arise amongst them,
and often end in blood, upon the most trivial occasions. They generally
dispute about things of no consequence, about goats' wool, as Horace
expresses it, or the shadow of an ass. One word uttered by a scolding
woman is often the cause and means of exciting a mighty war. The
Abipones, in anger, use the following terms of reproach: _Acami
Lanar̂aik_, you are an Indian, that is, plebeian, ignoble; _Acami
Lichiegar̂aik_, you are poor, wretched; _Acami Ahamr̂aik_, you are dead.
They sometimes dreadfully misapply these epithets. Who would not laugh
to hear a horse, flying as quick as lightning, but which his rider
wishes to incite to greater speed, called _Ahamr̂aik_, dead? When two
women quarrel, one calls the other poor, or low-born, or perhaps
lifeless. Presently a loud vociferation is heard, and from words they
proceed to blows. The whole company of women crowd to the market-place,
not merely to look on, but to give assistance as they shall think
proper. Some defend the one, some the other. The duel soon becomes a
battle-royal. They fly at each other's breasts with their teeth like
tigers, and often give them bloody bites. They lacerate one another's
cheeks with their nails, rend their hair with their hands, and tear the
hole of the flap of the ear, into which the roll of palm-leaves is
inserted. Though a husband sees his wife, and a father his daughter,
bathed in blood and covered with wounds, yet they look on at a distance,
with motionless feet, silent tongues, and calm eyes; they applaud their
Amazons, laugh, and wonder to see such anger in the souls of women, but
would think it beneath a man to take any part in these female battles.
If there appears no hope of the restoration of peace, they go to the
Father: "See!" say they, "our women are out of their senses again
to-day. Go, and frighten them away with a musket." Alarmed at the noise,
and even at the sight of this, they hasten back to their tents, but even
from thence, with a Stentorian voice, repeat the word which had been the
occasion of the combat, and, neither liking to seem conquered, return
again and again to the market-place, and renew the fight. It seems to
have been a regulation of divine Providence, that the Abiponian women
should abstain from all strong liquors, for, if so furious when sober,
what would they have been in a state of intoxication? The whole race of
the Abipones would have been utterly destroyed.

                              CHAPTER XVI.
                    OF THE LANGUAGE OF THE ABIPONES.

The multitude and variety of tongues spoken in Paraguay alone, exceeds
alike belief and calculation. Nor should you imagine that they vary only
in dialect. Most of them are radically different. Truly admirable is
their varied structure, of which no rational person can suppose these
stupid savages to have been the architects and inventors. Led by this
consideration, I have often affirmed that the variety and artful
construction of languages should be reckoned amongst the other arguments
to prove the existence of an eternal and omniscient God. The Jesuits
have given religious instructions to fourteen nations of Paraguay, and
widely propagated the Christian faith, in fourteen different languages.
They did not each understand them all, but every one was well acquainted
with two or three, namely, those of the nations amongst whom they had
lived. Of the number of these was I, who spent seven years amongst the
Abipones, eleven amongst the Guaranies. The nations for whom we
laboured, and for whom founded colonies, were the Guaranies, Chiquitos,
Mocobios, Abipones, Tobas, Malbalaes, Vilelas, Passaines, Lules,
Isistines, Homoampas, Chunipies, Mataguayos, Chiriguanes, Lenguas or
Guaycurùs, Mbayas, Pampas, Serranos, Patagones, and Yaròs. Moreover, the
Guichua language, which is peculiar to the whole of Peru, and very
familiar to Negro slaves, to the lower orders amongst the Spaniards, and
even to matrons of the higher ranks in Tucuman, was used by many of the
Jesuits, both in preaching and confession. Different languages were
spoken too in the towns of the Chiquitos, which were composed of very
different nations. The languages of the Abipones, Mocobios, and Tobas,
certainly have all one origin, and are as much alike as Spanish and
Portugueze. Yet they differ not only in dialect, but also in innumerable
little words. The same may be said of the Tonocotè language, in use
amongst the Lules and Isistines. The language of the Chiriguanes and
Guaranies, who live full five hundred leagues apart, is the same, with
the exception of a few words, which may be easily learnt in the course
of two or three weeks by any one who understands either of them.

Many writers upon America have interspersed sentences of the Indian
languages into their histories; but, good Heavens! how utterly defective
and corrupted! They have scarce left a letter unmutilated. But these
writers are excusable, for they have drawn their information from
corrupted sources. Without having even entered America, they insert into
their journals the words of savage languages, the meaning and
pronunciation of which they are totally ignorant of. Hence it is that
the American names of places, rivers, trees, plants, and animals, are so
wretchedly mutilated in all books, that we can hardly read them without
laughter. Spanish children, by constantly conversing with Indians of
their own age, imbibe a correct knowledge of the Indian languages,
which, to grown-up persons, is a business both of time and labour. I
have known adults who, after conversing many years with the Indians,
uttered as many errors as syllables. It is difficult for a European to
accustom his tongue to the strange and distorted words which the savages
pronounce so fast and indistinctly, hissing with their tongues, snoring
with their nostrils, grinding with their teeth, and gurgling with their
throats; so that you seem to hear the sound of ducks quacking in a pond,
rather than the voices of men talking. Learned men had long wished that
a person who understood some American language would clearly expound the
system, construction, and whole anatomy of it: and it is to comply with
the desire of these persons that I am going to treat compendiously of
the Abiponian language.

Most of the Americans want some letter which we Europeans use, and use
some which we want. A letter of very frequent occurrence amongst the
Abipones, but which we Europeans are unacquainted with, is one which has
the mixed sound of R and G. To pronounce it properly, the tongue must be
slided a little along the roof of the mouth, and brought towards the
throat, in the manner of those persons who have a natural incapacity of
pronouncing the letter R. To signify this peculiar letter of the
Abipones, we have written R or G indiscriminately, but distinguished by
a certain mark, thus: _Laetar̂at_, a son: _Achibir̂aik_, salt. The
plural number changes R into K, thus: _Laetkáte_, sons. Europeans find
much difficulty in pronouncing this letter, especially if it recur
several times in the same word, as in _Rar̂egr̂anr̂aik_, a Vilela
Indian. _Rellar̂anr̂aǹ potròl_, he hunts wild horses. _Lapr̂ir̂atr̂aik_,
many-coloured. The Abipones can distinguish an European, however
well-skilled in every other part of their language, by the pronunciation
of this letter.

The Abipones use the ö, which the Paraguayrians write ë with two dots,
like the French, Hungarians, and Germans: as _Ahëpegak_, a horse,
_Yahëc_, my face. They make frequent use of the Greek K. They pronounce
N like the Spaniards, as if the letter I was added to it: thus,
_Español_ must be pronounced _Espaniol_. The Abipones say _Menetañi_, it
is within; _Yoamcachiñi_, the inner part is good. The legitimate
pronunciation of this and other letters can only be learned _vivâ voce_.

Great attention must be paid to all the different accents and points,
for the omission of a point, or the variation of an accent, gives a word
a totally different meaning, thus: _Heét_, I fly; _Hëët_, I speak;
_Háten_, I despise; _Hateń_, I hit the mark. This language abounds in
very long words, consisting of ten, twenty, or more letters. The accents
repeated in the same word show where the voice should be raised and
where lowered: for the speech of this nation is very much modulated, and
resembles singing. The accents alone are scarce sufficient to teach the
pronunciation. It would not be amiss to subjoin musical notes to each of
the syllables, unless a master supersedes the necessity of this artifice
by teaching it _vivâ voce_. It may be as well to give some examples of
accents. _Hamihégemkiń_, _Debáyakaikin_, _Raregr̂ágremar̂achiń_,
_Oahérkaikiń_. These are names of Abipones. _Grcáuagyégarigé_, pity me.
_Oaháyegalgè_, free me. _Hapagrañütapagetá_, you teach one another.
_Ñicauagrañíapegar̂algé_, I intercede for thee. _Hemokáchiñütápegioà_,
thou praisest me. Here are words of twenty letters. You will not find
many monosyllables. The tall Abipones like words which resemble
themselves in length.

They have a masculine and a feminine gender, but no neuter. A knowledge
of the genders is to be gained by use alone. _Grahaulái_, the sun, is
feminine with them, like the German _Die Sonne_. _Grauèk_, the moon, is
masculine, as our _Der Monde_. Some adjectives are of both genders, as
_Naà_, which is evil, both masculine and feminine. _Neeù_, good, of both
genders. In others every gender has its own termination, as _Ariaik_,
good, noble, _mas_. _Ariayè_, good, noble, _fem_. _Cachiergaik_, an old
man; _Cachergayè_, an old woman.

The nouns have no cases. A letter prefixed to the noun sometimes
indicates the case: as, _Ay`m_, I; _M`ay`m_, to me; _Akami_, thou;
_M'akami_, to thee.

The formation of the plural number of nouns is very difficult to
beginners; for it is so various that hardly any rule can be set down. I
give you some examples:

     _Singular._                       _Plural._

     Laetar̂at, a son                   Laetkaté, sons
     Lekàt, a metal                    Lekachì, metals
     Ahëpegak, a horse                 Ahëṕega, horses
     Yúihák, an ox                     Yúihà, oxen
     Nekététàk, a goose                Neketéteri, geese
     Oachígranigà, a stag              Oachigranigal, stags
     Iñier̂à, the flower of             Iñiegari, flowers, or years
     the alfaroba,                     or a year
     Neogà, a day                      Neogotà, days
     Eergr̃aík, a star                  Eèrgr̂aiè, stars
     Aápar̃aìk, linen or woollen cloth  Aapar̃aikà, pieces of cloth
     Yapòt, a brave man                Yapochì, brave men
     Lachaogè, a river                 Lachaokè, rivers
     Letèk, the leaf of a tree         Letegkè, leaves
     Ketélk, a mule                    Ketelr̂a, mules
     Panà, a root                      Panarì, roots
     Ìíbichigì, angry, _sing_.         Ìíbichigeri, angry, _plur_.

From these few examples it appears that nouns ending in the same letter
have different plurals. Moreover, as the Greeks, beside a plural number,
have also a dual by which they express two things, so the Abipones have
two plurals, of which the one signifies more than one, the other many:
thus _Joalé_, a man. _Joaleè_, or _Joaleèna_, some men. _Joalíripì_,
many men. _Ahëpegak_, a horse. _Ahëpega_, some horses. _Ahëpegeripì_,
many horses.

I wonder that the Abipones have not two words for the first person
plural, _we_, like many other American nations. The Guaranies express it
in two ways: they sometimes say, _ñandè_, sometimes _ore_. The first
they call the inclusive, the second the exclusive. In their prayers,
addressing God, they say, We sinners, _ore angaypabiyà_; because God is
excluded from the number of sinners. Speaking with men, they say, _ñandè
angaypabiyà_, because those whom they address are sinners likewise, and
they accordingly use the inclusive _ñandè_.

As they have no possessive pronouns, mine, thine, his, the want of them
is supplied in every noun, by the addition or alteration of various
letters. Amongst the Abipones a great difficulty is occasioned by the
various changes of the letters, especially in the second person. Take
these examples. _Netà_, a father indeterminately. _Yità_, my father.
_Gretaỳ_, thine. _Letà_, his. _Gretà_, our father. _Gretayi_, yours.
_Letai_, theirs.

_Naetar̃at_, a son, without expressing whose. _Yaetr̃at_, my son.
_Graetr̃achi_, thy son. _Laetr̃at_, his son.

_Nepèp_, a maternal grandfather. _Yepèp_, mine. _Grepepè_, thine.
_Lepèp_, his.

_Naàl_, a grandson. _Yaàl_, mine. _Graalí_, thine. _Laàl_, his.

_Nenàk_, a younger brother. _Yenàk_, mine. _Grenarè_, thine. _Lenàk_,

_Nakirèk_, a cousin german. _Ñakirèk_, mine. _Gnakiregi_, thine.
_Nakirek_, his.

_Noheletè_, the point of a spear. _Yoheletè_, mine. _Grohelichi_, thine.
_Loheletè_, his.

_Natatr̃a_, life. _Yatatr̃a_, my life. _Gratatr̃e_, thine. _Latatr̃a_, his.

But these examples are sufficient to show the multiplied variety of the
second person. Amongst the Guaranies too, the possessives are affixed to
the nouns, but this occasions no difficulty, because the mutation is
regular: thus, _Tuba_, a father. _Cheruba_, my father. _Nderuba_, thine.
_Tuba_, his. _Guba_, theirs. _Tay̆_, a son. _Cheray̆_, mine. _Nderay̆_,
thine. _Tay̆_, his. _Guay̆_, theirs. _Che_ is prefixed to nouns for the
first person, and _Nde_ for the second, without variation. Likewise in
the plural they say _Ñande_, or _Oreruba_, our father. _Penduba_, your
father. _Tuba_, or _Guba_, their father. In all other substantives these
particles supply the place of possessives.

The following observation must be made on the possessive nouns of the
Abipones. If they see any thing whose owner they do not know, and wish
to be made acquainted with, they enquire to whom it belongs in various
ways. If the object in question be animate, (even though it only possess
vegetable life,) as wheat, a horse, a dog, a captive, &c. they say
_Cahami ledà?_ whose property is this? to which the other will reply,
_Ylà_, mine. _Grelè_, thine. _Lelà_, his. On the other hand, if the
thing be inanimate, as a spear, a garment, food, &c. they say _Kahamì
kalàm_, to whom does this belong, and the other will say, _Ai`m_, to me.
_Karami_, to thee. _Hala`m_, to him. _Kara`m_, to us, &c.

The pronouns of the first and second persons are subject to no
mutations, on account of place or situation. Thus, _Aỳm_, I. _Akami_,
thou. _Aka`m_, we. _Akamyì_, you. If _alone_ be added, they are altered
in this manner: _Aỳmátarà_, I alone. _Akamítarà_, thou alone. _Akàm
àkalè_, we alone.

But the pronoun of the third person, he, is varied, according to the
situation of the person of whom you speak. For if the object of

                                      _Mas. he._ _Fem. she._

         Be present, he is called,    Eneha      Anahà
         If he be sitting,            Híñìha     Háñiha
         If lying,                    Híriha     Háriha
         If standing,                 Háraha     Háraha
         If walking and seen,         Ehahá      Ahaha
         If not seen,                 Ekaha      Akaha.

He alone is also expressed in various ways.

              If he alone is sitting, you       Yñítarà

              If lying,                         Irítàra

              If walking,                       Ehátára

              If absent,                        Ekátará

              If standing,                      Erátára.

They form the comparative and superlative degrees, not as in other
languages, by the addition of syllables, but in a different manner. An
Abipon would express this sentence. _The tiger is worse than the dog_,
thus: _the dog is not bad though the tiger be bad_. _Nétegink chik naà,
oágan nihirenak la naà_: or thus, _The dog is not bad as the tiger_,
_Netegink chi chi naà ỳágàm nihirenak_. When we should say, _The tiger
is worst_, an Abipon would say, _the tiger is bad above all things_,
_Nihirenak lamerpëëáoge kenoáoge naà_: or thus, _The tiger is bad so
that it has no equal in badness_. _Nihirenak chit keoá naà._ Sometimes
they express a superlative, or any other eminence, merely by raising the
voice. _Ariaik_, according to the pronunciation, signifies either a
thing simply good, or the very best. If it be uttered with the whole
force of the breast, and with an elevated voice, ending in an acute
sound, it denotes the superlative degree; if with a calm, low voice, the
positive. They signify that they are much pleased with any thing, or
that they approve it greatly, by uttering with a loud voice the words
_Là naà!_ before _Ariaik_, or _Eúrenék_. _Now it is bad!_ _It is
beautiful_, or _excellent_! _Nehaol_ means night. If they exclaim in a
sharp tone, _Là nehaòl_, they mean that it is _midnight_, or the dead of
the night: if they pronounce it slowly and hesitatingly, they mean that
it is the beginning of the night. When they see any one hit the mark
with an arrow, knock down a tiger quickly, &c. and wish to express that
he is eminently dexterous, they cry with a loud voice, _La yáraigè_, now
he knows, which, with them, is the highest commendation.

They form diminutives, by adding _avàlk_, _aole_, or _olek_, to the last
syllable of the word, thus: _Ahëpegak_, a horse. _Ahëpegeravàlk_, a
little horse, _Óénèk_, a boy. _Óénèkavàlk_, a little boy. _Haáye_, a
girl. _Haayáole_, a little girl. _Paỳ_, father, a word for priest,
introduced into America by the Portugueze. _Payolék_, little father,
which they used when they wished to express particular kindness towards
us. When angry, they only used the word _Paỳ_. _Kàëpak_, wood.
_Kàëperáole_, a little piece of wood, by which they designated the beads
of the rosary. _Lenechì_, little, moderate. _Lénechiólek_, or
_Lenechiavàlk_. They make very frequent use of diminutives, which, with
them, indicate either tender affection or contempt: thus, _Yóale_, a
man. _Yoaleólek_, a little man, a bit of a man. Often with them a
diminutive is a stronger expression of love or praise than any
superlative: thus, they call a stronger or handsomer horse than
ordinary, _Ahëpegeravàlk_. The Spaniards too express a more particular
liking for a thing, when they call it _bonito_, than when they simply
call it _bueno_, good or pretty.

Most of the American nations are extremely deficient in words to express
number. The Abipones can only express three numbers in proper words.
_Iñitára_, one. _Iñoaka_, two. _Iñoaka yekainì_, three. They make up for
the other numbers by various arts: thus, _Geyenk ñatè_, the fingers of
an emu, which, as it has three in front and one turned back, are four,
serves to express that number. _Neènhalek_, a beautiful skin spotted
with five different colours, is used to signify the number five. If you
interrogate an Abipon respecting the number of any thing, he will stick
up his fingers, and say, _leyer iri_, so many. If it be of importance to
convey an accurate idea of the number of the thing, he will display the
fingers of both hands or feet, and if all these are not sufficient, show
them over and over again till they equal the number required. Hence
_Hanámbegem_, the fingers of one hand means five; _Lanám rihegem_, the
fingers of both hands, ten; _Lanam rihegem, cat gracherhaka
anámichirihegèm_, the fingers of both hands and both feet, twenty. They
have also another method of making up for want of numbers. When they
return from an excursion to hunt wild horses, or shoot tame ones, none
of the Abipones will ask them how many horses have you brought home?
but, how much space will the troop of horse which you have brought home
occupy? to which they will reply, the horses placed in a row would fill
the whole market-place, or they extend from this grove to the river's
bank. With this reply, which gives them an idea of the quantity of
horses, they remain satisfied, though uninformed of the exact number.
Sometimes they take up a handful of sand or grass, and showing it to the
interrogator, endeavour in this way to express an immense quantity. But
when number is spoken of, take care you do not readily credit whatever
the Abipones say. They are not ignorant of arithmetic, but averse to it.
Their memory generally fails them. They cannot endure the tedious
process of counting. Hence to rid themselves of questions on the
subject, they show as many fingers as they like, sometimes deceived
themselves, sometimes deceiving others. Often, if the number about which
you ask exceeds three, an Abipon, to save himself the trouble of showing
his fingers, will cry _Pòp!_ many. _Chic leyekalipì_, innumerable.
Sometimes, when ten soldiers are coming, the assembled people will
exclaim, _Yoaliripì latenk naúeretápek_, a very great number of men are

But still greater is their want of numerals, which grammarians call
ordinals, for they cannot count beyond first: _Era námachìt_, the first.
So that the Ten Commandments are reckoned in this way: the first
commandment, _Era námachìt_, but as they are unable to express _second_,
_third_, _fourth_, in their language, instead of these numbers, they
place before the commandments, _and another_, _and another_, _&c_. _Cat
laháua_, _cat laháua_, _&c_. They have, however, words signifying first
and last, _Enàm cahèk_, that which goes before, and _Iñagehék_, that
which comes last.

They have only two distributive numerals: each _Iñitarapè_, and
_Iñóakatapè_, which answers to the Latin, _bini_. _Liñoaka yahat_, means
twice. _Ekátarapek_, and sometimes _Haûe ken_, once. This is the extent
of the Abiponian arithmetic, and the whole of their scanty supply of
numbers. Scarce richer are the Guarany Indians, who cannot go beyond the
number four. They call One, _Petey̆_. Two, _Mokoy̆_. Three, _Mbohapĭ_.
Four, _Irundy̆_. First, _Iyipĭbae_. Second, _Imomokoyndaba_. Third,
_Imombohapĭhaba_. Fourth, _Imoimrundy̆haba_. [1]_Singuli, Petey̆tey̆.
Bini, Mokoy̆mokoy̆. Terni, Mbohápĭhapĭ. Quaterni, Irundy̆ rundy̆._ Once,
_Petey̆ yebĭ_. Twice, _Mokoy̆ yebi_, _&c_. The Guaranies, like the
Abipones, when questioned respecting a thing exceeding four, immediately
reply, _Ndipapahabi_, or _Ndipapahai_, innumerable. But as a knowledge
of numbers is highly necessary in the uses of civilized life, and above
all, in confession, the Guaranies were daily taught at church to count
in the Spanish language, in the public explanation, or recitation of the
catechism. On Sunday, the whole people used to count from one to a
thousand, in the Spanish tongue, in the church. But it was all in vain.
Generally speaking, we found the art of music, painting, and sculpture,
easier learnt than numbers. They can all pronounce the numbers in
Spanish, but are so easily and frequently confused in counting, that you
must be very cautious how you credit what they say in this matter.

Footnote 1:

  I give the original Latin in this and other places, where the English
  does not fully express the meaning.

For the conjugation of verbs, no paradigm can be given; as the singular
number of the present tense of the indicative mood differs in almost all
words, and is more difficult to learn than the augments of the Greek
verbs. The second person particularly takes new letters, not only in the
beginning, but also in the middle, and the end, as will appear from the
examples which I shall lay before you.

 _Singular._                         _Plural._

 _I love_          Rikapìt           _We love_         Grkapitàk

 _Thou lovest_     Grkàpichì         _Ye love_         Grkápichii

 _He loves_        Nkàpit            _They love_       Nkapitè

 _I know_          Riáraige          Graáraigè         Yaraige

 _I remember_      Hakaleènt         Hakaleènchì       Yakaleènt

 _Id._             Ñetúnetá          Nichuñütá         Netúnetá

 _I teach_         Hápagřanátřan     Hapagřanatřařì    Yápagřanatřan

 _I hasten_        Rihahagalgè       Grahálgalì        Yahágalgè

 _I die_           Rìígà             Gregachì          Yígà

 _I am drowned_    Riigaráñi         Gregácháñi        Ygárañi

 _I leap_          Riahat            Rahachi           Rahàt

 _I fear_          Rietachà          Gretachi          Netacha

 _I desire_        Rihè              Grihì             Nihè

 _I fly_           Natahegem         Natáchihegem      Natahegem

 _I am drunk_      Rkíhogèt          Grkíhogichì       Lkíhogèt

 _I am slow_       Riaàl             Graalì            Naal

 _I am strong_     Riahòt            Grihochi          Yhòt

 _I am well_       Rioàmkatà         Groemkètà         Yoámkatà

 _I kick_          Hachàk            Hachařè           Rachak

 _I eat_           Hakeñè            Kiñigi            Rkeñe

 _I vomit_         Rièmaletapèk      Gremalitápèk      Némaletapèk

 _I sleep_         Aatè              Aachi             Roatè

 _I am ashamed_    Ripagak           Grpágařè          Npagàk

 _I aim at the
 mark_             Hatenetálgè       Hachínitalgè      Yatenetalgè

 _I value_         Riápategè         Grpáchiigè        Yapategè

 _I am whipped_    Hamèlk            Hamelgì           Yamèlk

 _I drink_         Řařàm             Řařami            Nařàm

 _I make_          Haèt              Eichì             Yaèt

 _I obey_          Riahapèt          Grahapichi        Nahapet

 _I come to_       Řauè              Nauichì           Nauè

But these few are sufficient to show the infinite changes of almost all
verbs. I refrain from giving more examples which I have in my head; for
it is not my intention to teach you the Abiponian language, but to show
you the strange construction of it, and to avoid fatiguing your ears
with so many long savage words. From the little which I _have_ written,
you will collect that the inflexions and variations of the second person
in particular can only be learnt by use, not by rules. The other tenses
of the indicative mood, and indeed all the moods of every conjugation,
give little trouble to learners, being formed simply by adding a few
syllables, or particles, to the present of the indicative: for

 Present tense. _Rikapit_, I love.
 The imperfect is wanting.
 Preterite. _Rikapit kan_, or _kanigra_, I have loved.
 Preterpluperfect. _Kánigra gehe rikapit_, I had loved formerly.
 Future. _Rikapitàm_, I will love.

You add the same particles to the second and third persons, without
changing them in any other respect: thus—

 _Grkapichi_, thou lovest.
 _Grkapichi kan_, thou hast loved.
 _Grkapichi kanigra gehe_, thou hadst loved.
 _Grkapichiam_, thou wilt love.

For the syllable _am_ is what distinguishes the present from the future.

The imperative mood undergoes no mutation either in the present or
future tense. Thus, hasten thou; _Grahálgalí_, which is also the second
person of the indicative, thou hastenest. _Eichi_, do thou: _Grkapichi_,
love thou: or _Grkapichiam_, which likewise signifies thou wilt love.
They sometimes prefix the particle _Tach_ to the second person of the
imperative, and _Ták_ to the third: thus _Tach grahápichì_ obey thou.
_Tach grakatřani_, say thou. _Ták hanek_, let him come: which also
denotes the present of the potential; thus: _Ták hanek Kaámelk_, the
Spaniard may come for me. Prohibition is expressed by the future with
the addition of the particle _tchik_ or _chigè_, according to the
following letter. Thus, thou mayst not kill, _Chit kahamatrañiam_. Thou
mayst not lie, _Chit Noaharegraniam_.

The optative, or subjunctive, is formed of various particles, placed
before or after the present of the indicative: as I shall show by

_Chigriek_, would that. _Chigriek grkapichi g'Dios eknam caogarik_:
Would that thou wouldst love God the Creator. _Kët_, if. _Kët
greenřani, G'Dios grkapichi kët_: If thou wert good thou wouldst love
God. _Kët_, if, is repeated both in the condition and the conditionated.

_Amla_, after that. _Amla grkapichi g`Dios, Dios `lo nkapíchieřoám_:
After thou hast loved God, God will love thee. _Postquam amaveris Deum,
Thus amabit te._

_Ehenhà_, until. _Ehenhà na chigrkápichi_ _g'Dios, chitl gihè
groamketápekàm_: Until, or as long as thou dost not love God, thou wilt
never be quiet. _Donec vel quamdiu non amaveris Deum, non eris unquam

_Amamach_, when. _Amamach rikápichieřoa, lo grkápichioam_: When thou
lovest me, I will love thee. _Quando amaveris me, amabo te._

_Kët mat_, if. _Kët mat nkápichirioà, là rikapitla kët_: If they had
loved me, I would have loved them. _Si amassent me, amassem illos._

_Tach_, that. _Tach grkápichioa, rikapichieřoàm_: Love me, that I may
love thee. _Ama me, ut amem te._

The Abipones seem to want the infinitive, the place of which they supply
in other ways, as I shall more plainly show by examples, thus: now I
wish to eat: _Là rihete m'hakéñe_. _Rihe_, or _rihete_, I wish, and
_hakéñe_, I eat, are both put in the same mood, tense, and person; the
letter M placed between them makes, or supplies the place of our
infinitive. I cannot go, _Haoahen m'ahik_. _Haoahen_ and _ahik_, are
both in the first person of the present of the indicative, M only being
placed between. Thou knowest not how to teach me: _Chig graařaige
m'riapa grañi_. Wilt thou be baptized, or, as the Abipones say, wilt
thou have thy head washed? _Mik mich grehech m'nakarigi gremarachi?_

They elude the necessity of an infinitive, of gerunds, and supines, by
various modes of speech peculiar to themselves. It may be as well to
illustrate this by some examples. When we say, Can I go? an Abipon would
express it in this way: I will go. There is no difficulty, or is there
any difficulty? _Lahikam. Chigeeka loaik_, or _Mañigà loaik?_ Thou
oughtest to go, an Abipon would render thus: _Yoamkatà kët, lame_: It is
right that thou shouldest go. Thou oughtest not to go, or it is not
convenient: _Mich grehech m'amè? oagan chik yoamk_: Wilt thou go? though
that is not convenient. How skilful this man is in swimming! an Abipon
would express thus: What a swimmer this man is! _Kemen álařankachak
yóale!_ I shall be strong by eating: _Rihotam am hakeñe_: I shall be
strong whilst I eat. I come to speak to thee: _Hëëchiapegrari; kleranam
kaúe, la nauè_: I will speak to thee; that was the reason why I came
now. The boy is wont to tell lies: _La noaharegřan kén oenek_. The
particles _kén_ and _aage_ signify custom. An Abipon would also express
the above sentence in this way: _Noaharegřan oenek: la lahërek_: The
boy tells lies: now it is his custom. I am accustomed to pray: _Klamach
hanáyaagè m'hëëtoalá_.

The passive voice in affirming has no particular form, but is expressed
by some passive participle, or by active verbs. When we say that a thing
is lost or ended, they say that the thing has perished, ceased, does not
appear, &c. _Yúihak oaloà_, or _chitlgihe_: The ox hath perished, or
does not appear. In denying, the passive is explained by an active verb
only, with the addition of the particle _chigat_, or _chigíchiekat_:
thus: It is not known: _Chigat yaraigè_. _Yaraigè_ is the indicative
mood, present tense, third person singular, of the active verb. That is
not eaten: _Chigat yaìk_. That is not usurped: _Chigat eygà_. I was not
informed: _Chigat ripachigui_. The horses were not well guarded,
therefore they perished: _Machka chigat nkehayape enò ahëpega, maoge
oaloéra_. The stars cannot be counted: _Chigichiekat nakatñi eeřgřae_.
What is not known, ought not to be told. _Am chigat yaraige,
chigichiekat yaratapekam, &c._

Of many active verbs, both active, and passive, but not future
participles are formed. _Rikapit_, I love, _amo_. From it are formed:
_Ykapicher̂_, beloved by me, or my beloved; _a me amatus, meus amatus_.
_Grkapicheřachi_, thy beloved, _tuus amatus_. _Lkapicheřat_, his
beloved: _suus amatus_. From this comes the feminine. _Ykapichkatè_, my
beloved; _mea amata_. _Grkapichkachi_, thy beloved; _tua amata_.
_Lkapichkatè_, his beloved, _illius amata_. I am beloved by all; _ego
sum amatus ab omnibus_: _Lkapicheraté Kenoataoge_. From this participle
are derived, _Kapicheřa_, love, _amor_. _Ykapicheřa_, my love; _amor
meus_. _Kapichieraik_, loving, a lover, _amans_, _amator_.

_Rikaùagè_, I pity, I feel a kindness for any one. Its passive
participle is, _Ykáuagřat_, kindly affected by me. Substantive,
_Ykaúgřa_, my good-will. _Kauagřankatè_, the instrument, manner, or
place of good-will, or the benefit itself. _Kauagřankachak_,
benevolent, compassionate. _Ykaúagek_, kindly regarded by me.
_Grkaúagigì_, kindly regarded by thee.

_Hapagřanatřan_, I teach. _Napagřanatřanak_, the master who teaches.
_Napagřanatek_, the scholar who is taught. _Napagřanatřanřek_,
teaching, instruction. _Napagřanatrankatè_, the place where, or the
matter which the scholar is taught.

We now enter a labyrinth of the Abiponian tongue, most formidable to
learners, where, unless guided by long experience, as Theseus was by
Ariadne, you will not be able to walk without risk of error. I am
speaking of those verbs which grammarians call transitive, or
reciprocal. In our language, the action of one person, or thing, upon
another, is easily described by the pronouns themselves, _I_, _thou_,
_he_, _we_, _you_. The Abipones, on the contrary, neglecting the use of
the above pronouns, effect this by various inflections of the verbs, and
by here and there combining new particles with them. This shall be made
plainer by examples. _I love thee_, _thou lovest me_, _he loves me or
thee_. _We love him_, _ye love us or them_. The Latins, in this manner,
express mutual love, to which purpose the Abipones use much
circumlocution, and various artifices, thus: _Rikapit_, I love.
_Rikapichieřou_, I love thee. _Grkapichioà_, thou lovest me.
_Nkapichioà_, he loves me. _Nkapichieřoà_, he loves thee. _Grkapitaè_,
we love him. _Grkapitla_, we love them. _Matníkapitalta_, I love myself.
_Nikapichialta_, thou lovest thyself. _Grkapitáatá_, we love one
another. But would that this were a paradigm of all the verbs! Others
take other particles, and changes of syllables, thus:

_Rikauagè_, I pity. _Rikauágyégarigè_, I pity thee. _Grkauagiygè_, thou
pitiest me. _Grkauág yegarik_, thou pitiest us. _Nkauágigyè_, he pities
me. _Nkauág yegarigé_, he pities thee. _Nkaúagegè_, he pities him.
_Grkaúagekápegetaá_, we pity one another. _Ñikaúakáltaá_, I pity myself.

_Hapagřanatřan_, I teach. _Neapagřan_, I teach myself.
_Hapagřankátápegetà_, we teach one another. _Hapagrani_, I teach thee.
_Riápagřani_, thou teachest me. _Riapagřan_, he teaches me.
_Yapagřan_, he teaches him.

_Hamelk_, I whip. _Hámelgi_, I whip thee. _Riámelgi_, thou whippest me.
_Riamelk_, he whips me. _Gramelgi_, he whips thee. _Yamélk_, he whips

_Hakleenté_, I remember. _Hakleenchitápegřari_, I remember thee.
_Hakkenchitapegii_, thou rememberest me. _Yákleentetápegiì_, he
remembers me. From these instances, you will perceive the variation in
transitive verbs, as sometimes _eřoà_, sometimes _yégarige_, sometimes
_raři_, or other particles, must be added to the different persons.
Believe me, the learning of them is extremely tedious to Europeans, and
can only be effected by long acquaintance with these savages. Other
Americans also use these transitive verbs, but their form is the same,
whether mutual action or passion is expressed. Thus the Guaranies say,
_Ahaĭhù_, I love. _Orohaĭhù_, I love thee. _Ayukà_, I kill. _Oroyukà_, I
kill thee. _Amboé_, I teach. _Oromboe_, I teach thee, &c. What can be
easier or more expeditious than this?

They sometimes express the relative who, by _eknam_, or, in the plural
number, _enonam_, thus: _Dios eknam Kaogarik_: God who is the creator.
_Hemokáchin nauáchiekà, enonam yapochi_: I esteem soldiers who are
brave. Sometimes, in the manner of the Latins, they suppress the
relative who, and supply its place by a participle, or adjective.
_Riákayà netegingà oakaika, kach quenò ahamr̂aeka_: I abominate biting
and dead dogs.

                             CHAPTER XVII.

At this moment, I am doubtful whether to call the language of the
Abipones a poor or a rich one: after I have told you what words they
want, and what they abound in, you yourself shall decide on this point.
The Abipones are destitute of some words which seem to be the elements
of daily speech. They, as well as the Guaranies, want the verb
substantive to be. They want the verb to have. They have no words
whereby to express _man_, _body_, _God_, _place_, _time_, _never_,
_ever_, _everywhere_, &c. which occur perpetually in conversation.
Instead of I am an Abipon, they say _Aỳ`m Abipon_, I Abipon; instead of
thou art a plebeian, _Akami Lanařaik_, thou plebeian. They often
substitute some neuter verb for an adjective and verb substantive, like
the Latins, who say _bene valeo_ as well as _sum sanus_. Thus, I am
strong, _Riahòt_, thou art strong, _Grihochi_, he is strong, _Yhòt_. I
am brave, _Riapòt_, thou art brave, _Grapochì_, he is brave, _Yapòt_. I
am fearful, _Riakalò_, thou art fearful, _Grakaloi_, he is fearful,
_Yakalò_. Let the Spaniard come, I shall be brave: _Tach hanék Kaámelk,
la riapotam_. See how well the Abipones do without the verb _to be!_ as
also the verb _to have_. I have many horses: _Ayte yla ahëpega_: many
horses mine. I have many fleas: _Netegink loapakate enò! Pop_. I have no
meat: _Chitkaeká lpabè_. I have no fishes: _Chigekoà nòayi_. _Hekà_ has
the same meaning with the Abipones that _datur_ or _suppetit_ has with
the Latins, _es giebet_ with the Germans, and _hay_ with the Spaniards.
_Chitkaekà_ is a negative, and signifies that there is no meat, fishes,
&c. In the plural number it changes to _chigekoà_. Is there food? _Meka

_Neogà_ means a day, and likewise time. _Grauek_, the moon, is taken for
a month. _Yñieřa_, the flower of the alfaroba, also denotes a year.
Hence, when they wish to ask any one how old he is, they say, How many
times has the alfaroba blossomed during your life-time? _Hegem leyera
yñiegari?_ which is a very poetical expression. For the body they name
the skin or bone, thus taking the part for the whole. _Yoalè_ means only
a husband; it is however used to signify a man. In the same way the
Guaranies use the word _Aba_, which denotes a husband, and the Guarany
nation, as they have no word for man. _Aba che_ has three meanings, I am
a _Guarany_, I am a _man_, or I am a _husband_; which of these is meant,
must be gathered from the tenor of the conversation. Perhaps there are
nowhere more virgins than in the country of the Abipones, yet they
cannot express a virgin except by a paraphrase, as _haayè_ simply means
a young girl. For never, they say _chik_ or _chit_, thus, I shall never
go hence: _Chik rihiukàm_. They more frequently say, _Chitlgihe
rihiukàm_. _Chitlgihe_ means, there appears no time in which I shall go
hence. They express _eternal_ by interminable, thus: Life eternal,
_Eleyřa chit kataikañi_, the life which is not finished. We used the
Spanish word for God, whose name they are ignorant of: _Dios_, _eknam
Kaógarik_, or _Naenatřanak hipigem, kachka aalò_. God, who is the maker
of all things, or the creator of heaven and earth. _Kauè_ signifies to
make; _Kaógarik_, a maker. They call eggs _Tetarik l'kauetè_, the hen's

They cannot express _everywhere_ in one word, but explain it in this
way: God is in heaven, in earth, and there is not a place in which he is
not; _Menetahegem quem hipigém, menetañi quen aaloà, ka chigekòr amà,
chig enaè_. I omit innumerable other words which they want, but which
they make up for in various ways. Many things which we always express
with one and the same word, they distinguish with various names, or
entirely transform, by clothing the original word with new particles.
After having exposed the poverty of this language by examples, I ought
briefly to make you acquainted with its richness, in the same manner.

It contains an incredible number of synonymes, thus: _Kachergaik_,
_Kameřgaik_, _Kereřaik_, and _Laykamé_, all signify an old man.
_Elořaik_, _Egargaik_, _Ahamřaik_, and _Chitkaeka Lach_, dead.
_Nahamatřek_, _Nuichieřa_, _Noélakierek_, and _Anegla_, war.
_Kiñierat_, _Hanák_, _Nakà_, and _Naek_, food. _Lemařat_ and _Lapañik_,
the head. _Hipigem_ and _Ohajenk_, heaven. _Chigriařaik_, _Taagè_,
_Uriakà Ntà_, _Chig ñetun_, and _Akamitañi_, I know not, which last is
the same as if one should reply to a question, _Thou thyself know'st
it_, thus acknowledging his own ignorance. They sometimes repeat the
words of the interrogator, to show that they do not know what he asks
about. They call a wound generically _Lalaglet_. If it be inflicted by
the teeth of a man or a beast, they call it _Naagek_; if by a knife or a
sword, _Nichar̂hek_; if by a lance, _Noarek_; if by an arrow, _Nainek_.
_They fight_, if the kind of fight be not expressed, would be rendered
_Roélakitapegetà_; if they fight with spears, _Nahámretà_; if with
arrows, _Natenetápegetà_; if with fists, _Nemarketápegetà_; if with
words alone, _Ycherikáleretaà_; if two wives fight about their husband,
_Nejétentà_. They signify that a thing is ended or finished in divers
ways. The sickness is ended, would be rendered _Láyamini_; the rain, the
moon, the cold is ended, _Lánádmreuge neetè_, _grauek_, _latarà_; the
war is ended, _Nahálañi aneglà_; the Spanish soldiers are ended, that is
slaughtered; _Lanamichiriñi Kaáma yoalirípi_; my patience is ended,
_Lanámouge yapik_; the storm is ended, _Layamhà_; he hath ended his
office, his magistracy hath expired, _La yauerelgè_; end, or finish thy
work, _Grahálgali_, _laamachi graénategi_; now the thing is finished,
_Layam ayam_; at the end of the world, _Amla hanamřani_. If a battle is
fought with arrows, it is called _Noatařek_; if with spears,
_Noaařaranřek_, or _Nahamatřek_; if with fists alone, _Nemarketřek_.
This word reminds me of a ludicrous occurrence. A certain Bavarian
lay-brother of our's stayed some time in the new colony of St. Ferdinand
to build a hut for the Missionaries. Whilst he was employed in building,
he daily had the Abipones for spectators, and heard them talk, without
understanding a syllable of what they were saying. As he continually
caught the words _Nahamatřek_, _Noatařek_, and many others ending in
_třek_, one day at dinner he said to Father Joseph Brigniel, an
Austrian, with much simplicity, "Never trust me, if the language of the
Abipones isn't as like German as one egg is to another; I often hear
them say _Trek_, _Trek_."

The Abiponian tongue might not improperly be called the language of
circumstances, for it affixes various particles to words to denote
the various situations of the subject of discourse: either _hegem_,
above; _añi_, below; _aigìt_, around; _hagam_, in the water; _óuge_,
out of doors; _alge_, or _elge_, on the surface, &c. The thing will
be made plainer by examples: we use the same word _is_ when we say,
God _is_ in heaven, _is_ on earth, _is_ in the water, _is_ every
where. The Abipones always add some new particle to the verb, to
indicate situation, thus: _Dios menetahegem ken hipigèm_, God dwells
above in heaven: _menetañi ken aàloà_, dwells below in the earth:
_meñetahàgàm ken enařap_, dwells in the water, &c. Here the particles
_añi_, _hegem_, and _haganì_ are affixed to the verb _ménetá_. But
now attend to something else. How great is the variation of the verb
to follow[2]! I follow a person coming, _Hauíretaigìt_. I follow
one departing, _Hauiraà_. I follow with my hand what is beneath me,
_Hauirañì_, what is above me, _Hauirihegeméege_. I do not follow with
my eyes, _Chit heonáage_. I do not follow with my understanding,
(I do not comprehend,) _Chig ñetunêtaigìt_. I follow, I hit with
an arrow, _Ñaten_. Some going out follow others, _Yáueráatà_, or
_Yauirétapegetà_, I have followed, or perceived what another meditates
or purposes in his mind, _La hâui larenatřanřek lauel_. I have
followed or obtained what I desired, _La hâuì eka kan ahelřanřat
kiñi_. Hear other examples: I fear, _Rietachà_. I fear water,
_Rietachahagam_. It lightens, _Rkáhagelk_. It lightens afar off,
_Rkáhagelkátaigìt_. It shines, _Richàk_. It shines on the surface,
_Richákatalgè_. The brightness spreads wide, _Richakataugè_. I open the
door towards the street, _Hehòtouge lahàm_. I open the door towards the
window, _Hehòtoà lahàm_. If I should open two doors at the same time,
_Hehòtetelgè lahàm_. Shut the door, _Apëëgi lahàm_. I die, _Riigà_. I
am dying, _Riigarari_, I die of suffocation, _Riigarañi_, &c. &c.

Footnote 2:


We now come to speak of other particles, the use of which is very
frequent amongst the Abipones.

They prefix _là_, now, to almost all words. Now the old woman weeps, _Là
reòkatarì cachergayè_. Now I am terrified, _Là rielk_. Now I drink, _Là

_Tapek_, or _Tari_, annexed to the last syllable of a verb, denote an
action which is undertaken now: _Hakiriogřan_, I plough land.
_Hakiriogřanetapek_, now, whilst I speak, I am ploughing. _Haoachin_, I
am sick. _Haoachinetari_, I am sick at this very time.

_Kachit_, I make. _Ařaiřaik ahëpegak_, a tame horse. _Ařaiřaikachit
ahëpegak_, I make a horse tame. _Riélk_, I fear. _Riélkachìt
nihìrenàk_, a tiger put me in fear. _Ayerhègemegè_, a high thing.
_Ayercachihègemegè_, I make a thing high, I put it in a high place.

_Řat_, or _řan_ has the same signification as the former in certain
verbs. _Rpaè enařap_, hot water. _Hapaeřat enařap_, I heat water.
_Laà_, great, large. _Laařařat_, I increase. _Lenechi_, little, small.
_Lenechitařat_, I diminish. _Haoatè_, I sleep. _Haoacheřan akíravàlk_,
I make a little infant sleep.

_Ken_ denotes custom or habit. _Roélakikèn_, he is accustomed to fight.

_Aagè_ affixed to the substantives _Lahërek_, work, or _Yaářaiřèk_,
knowledge, likewise denotes custom. _Nèoga latènk nañametapek_;
_gramackka lahërekaage_, or _Mat yaářaiřèk aage_, he drinks all day:
this, to wit, is his occupation; it is his knowledge; in a word his

_It_ signifies the material of which any thing is made. _Nichigeherit_
is a cloak made of otters' skins, for _Níchigehè_ is the Abiponian for
otter. _Káepèrit_, a place fortified with stakes fixed in the earth,
(which the Spaniards call _la palisada_, or _estacada_,) _káepak_,
signifying wood.

_Hat_ indicates the native soil of certain trees, or fruits.
_Nebokehat_, a wood where palms grow. _Neboke_ is a kind of palm.
_Nemelkehat_, a field sowed with wheat, which is called _nemelk_. The
Guaranies make use of the same compendious expression, substituting _ti_
for the particle _hat_, thus: _Abati_, maize. _Abatiti_, a maize-field.
_Petí_, tobacco. _Petíndi_, a place where tobacco is grown. For the sake
of the euphony, to which the Guaranies are particularly attentive, _ndi_
is substituted for _ti_.

_Ik._ The names of almost all trees end in this syllable. _Apèhe_, the
fruit chañar. _Apehìk_, the tree. _Oaik_, the white alfaroba. _Roak_,
the red. The trees which produce it, _Oáikik_, and _Roaikik_. Though the
alfaroba is also called _Hamáp_.

_Řeki_ signifies the vessel, place, or instrument in which any thing is
shut up, kept, or contained. _Nařamřeki_, a cup, from _nañàm_, I
drink. _Neetřki_ signifies the same thing: for _ñeèt_ and _nañàm_ are
synonimous. _Katařanřeki_, an oven, a chafing-dish, from _Nkáatèk_,
fire. _Keyeeřánřekì_, a tub in which clothes are washed with soap, for
_keyařanřàt_ is their word for soap.

_Laỳt_ has almost the same signification as the former particle.
_Yabogék laỳt_, a snuff-box, _yabogék_ being Abiponian for snuff.
_Ahëpegrlaỳt_, a fold for horses.

_Lanà_ is a very useful word, and often serves as a sacred anchor, which
beginners, slightly acquainted with the language, catch hold of to make
themselves understood. It means that which is the instrument, means, or
part of performing any thing. This shall be elucidated by examples. The
Abipones constantly chew tobacco leaves mixed with salt, and the saliva
of old women, calling it medicine. They come at all hours, and say,
_Tach kaûe Paỳ npeetèk yoetà_: Father, give me tobacco leaves, my
medicine. Having obtained this, they presently add, _Tach kaûe
achibiřaik noetà lanà_,: Give me also salt, which serves to compose
this medicine. Another comes and says: _Tachkaûe latařan lpahè lanà_:
Give me a knife to cut my meat with, or _Tachkaûe këëpe yëëriki lanà_:
Give me an axe to build my house with. Persons better acquainted with
the language generally abstain from the use of this word _lanà_, in
place of which they make noun substantives of verbs, by which the
instrument or means of doing a thing is admirably expressed. Thus,
_Noetarèn_, I am healed. _Noetarenátařanřát_, medicine.
_Noetaranatařankatè_, a medical instrument. _Hakiriogran_, I plough.
_Kiriogrankatè_, a plough. _Ñahategřan_, I shear. _Ahategkatè_,
scissars, or snuffers, which, as it were, shear the wick. _Géhayà_, I
behold. _Geharlatè_, a looking-glass. _Rietachà_, I fear.
_Netachkatřanřat_, an instrument of terror. They facetiously call
remarkably ugly faces by this name as if they were a terror to the eyes.

_Latè_, indicates the place of action, thus: _Nahamátřalatè_, the place
of the fight. _Kiñieřalatè_, the place where one eats, that is, the

They ingeniously invented names borrowed from their native tongue, for
things introduced from Europe, or made by Europeans. They did not like
either to appear poor in words, or to contaminate their language by
adopting foreign ones, like the other Americans who borrow words from
the Spaniards. Horses, which the Spaniards call _cavallos_, the
Guaranies call _cavayù_, and oxen, which the Spaniards call _nobillos_,
they call _nobì_. The Abipones, on the contrary, call a horse
_ahëpegak_, an ox, _ỳúihàk_, and a bull, _ỳúihàk lepà_, an uncastrated
ox, a name derived from their own language, though, before the coming of
the Spaniards, they were unacquainted with these animals. They call a
church _loakal lëëriki_, the house of images, or _natamenřeki_, where
thanks are given to God. A gun is expressed by _netelřanře_, which
means a bow from which arrows are cast. Perhaps it is derived from the
word _neetè_, a storm, because a gun resembles the thundering of a
storm. Gunpowder is called _netelřanřre leenřra_, the flour of the
gun; a book, _lakatka_, which means a word, tongue, speech. They call a
letter, or any sheet with letters written or printed on it, _elorka_, by
which name they also designate the otters' skins painted by women with
red lines of various forms, of which cloaks are made to keep out the
cold. They call water-melons, _Kaáma lakà_, the food of the Spaniards.
They express a soul, a shadow, echo, and an image, all by the same word,
_loákal_, or _lkihì_. The Latins also used the word _imago_, for an
echo. Valerius Flaccus, in the third book of the Argonautics, says:

           _Rursus Hylam, et fursus Hylam per longa reclamat
             Avia, responsant sylvæ, et vaga certat imago._

Echo is a representation of voice, as an image is that of the figure.
Cotton, the material of which cloth is made, they call _aapařaik_,
cloth; wheat, _etantà lpetà_, the grain of bread; and bullets,
_netelr̃anře lpetà_, the grain of the gun, or _Káamà lanařha_, the
arrows of the Spaniards. A lute or harp is called _liûigi_, which means
the loins of an animal; all metals, _lekàt_, and silver money,
_lekacháole_, little metals; hell, _aalò labachiñi_, the centre of the
earth, or _Keevét lëëriki_, the devil's house; a shirt, _yelamřkie_;
stockings or boots, _lichil lelamřkiè_; breeches, _ykiemařha_; shoes,
_yachrhářlatè_; a hat, _ñoarà_; a fillet, mitre, or any covering of the
head, _yetapehè_; glass-beads, _ekelřaye_. I omit the rest.

Metaphors are familiar to these savages. When they have the head-ache
they cry _Là ỳívíchigi yemařat_, now my head is angry. When fatigued
with manual labour, _Là ỳívíchigi yauigřa_, now my blood is angry, they
exclaim with a smile. When in anger, they say, _Là ànahegem yauel_, now
my heart hath risen. When impatient at any inconvenience, they
vociferate: _Là lanamouge yapìk_, now my patience is ended, now I will
bear this no longer.

Although the Guaranies and many other people of America have none but
post-positions in their language, the Abipones use prepositions
likewise. Thus the Guaranies, in making the sign of the cross, say:
_Tuba haè layřa, hae Espiritu Santo rera pĭpe_. Amen. In the name of
the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. For _pĭpe_
means _in_, and _rera name_ with them. The Abipones, on the contrary,
say: _Men lakalátoèt Netà, kat Náitařat, kachka Espiritu Santo_. Amen.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, &c. _Men_ signifying _in_,
and _lakalátoèt_, a _name_. _Men_, _mek_, _kèn_, or _en kerà_, signifies
_in_ or _at_, either with or without motion. _Men aaloa_, _men hipigem_,
in the earth, in heaven. _Lahik ken nepàrk_, now I go to the plain. _Là
rihi mek Kaáma loetà_, now I remove to the lands of the Spaniards. They
are unacquainted with the preposition _with_ which denotes society: they
would express the sentence, I will go with thee, in this manner:
_Grahauitapekam_, I will accompany thee: or thus, _Là me? Clachkehin_,
wilt thou go away? I also. The Lord with thee: _Dios Gnoakàra
hiñitařoat_; The Lord is associated with thee. _Haraà_ is a preposition
signifying the instrument with which a thing is done. _Yóale yahámat
nihirenak naraà lohélete_: The Indian killed the tiger with a spear.
_Yágàm_ means, as, or like, _Roahà ỳágàm netegink_: He attacks like a

Adjectives themselves are generally used instead of adverbs; both,
according as they relate to past, or future, are variously inflected,
like verbs: thus, _ariaik_ and _neèn_ signify both good and well. _Kemen
ariaik kàn!_ how good, or how well he was. _Kàn_ is the sign of the past
tense. _Ariaekam_, it will be good or well. _Am_ is the sign of the
future, and _kitè_ means now. _Kitekàn_, it was now. _Kitàm_, it shall
be now presently. If you wish to enquire about a thing past, you must
say: _hegmalagè_, when? If about a future thing, _hegmalkàm_. For the
past, they will answer, _nehegetoè_, long since; _hákekemàt_, now, at
this point of time; _chigahák_, not yet; _kitnéoga_, to day;
_kitnénegin_, or _kitnehaól_, this night; _gnaàma_, yesterday. For the
future, _amà_, _amlayeřge_, _chitlkihe_, after a long interval of time;
_amlà_, afterwards; _am richigni_, to morrow; _amékére láhaua_, the day
after to-morrow; _am náama_, in the evening. _And_ is expressed by
_Rachka_, _Rack_, or _Rat_, according to the letters that follow. All
universally call no, _ynà_: but yes is expressed variously, according to
the age and sex of the speaker. Men and youths say, _héé_; all women,
_hàà_. Old men affirm by a loud snort, which can only be expressed _vivâ
voce_, though you could not do it easily and clearly without danger of
hoarseness. The louder the snort the stronger the affirmation.

_Eùrigri_, _eòrat_, and _miekaenegen_, mean why, for what reason. _Miéka
énegen nkaué, nauichi enà?_ What was the reason that you came? _Men_ is
a particle of interrogation, having the same signification as the Latin
_an_. _Men leerà?_ Is it true? _Klerà_, it is certain. _Chigera_, it is
not true. Or if they doubt of the truth of the thing, they will reply,
_Eùriñigi_. Sometimes, when they suspect another of relating what is not
true, they join the past with the future, and ironically say, _Kánigra
leeràm_, formerly, that will be true. _Kánigra_ is the past, and
_leeràm_ the future.

The letter _M_ prefixed to a word denotes interrogation, thus: _M'ayte
nauachieka?_ Are there many soldiers? _M'oachiñi_, Art thou sick? If the
first letter following M be a consonant or an H, it is dropped,
_M'anekam ena?_ Will he come hither? The H is entirely omitted in the
verb _hanekám_, will he come, and it is pronounced _manekám_. _Mauichi
kenà?_ Hast thou come hither? The letter _N_ is dropped in the verb
_nauichi_, and _M_ substituted, so that it is called _mauichi_. _Mik_
alone, or _mik mich_, are forms of interrogation; as _Mik mich
grihochi?_ Art thou in good health? Sometimes an interrogation is
expressed by the accent alone, and by the raising of the voice. _Layàm
nauichi?_ Art thou come at length? _Origeenu_ and _morigi_ are words of
interrogation, expressing, at the same time, doubt: _Morigi npágàk
oenèk?_ Perhaps the youth is ashamed? _Hegmi hínnerkam?_ What is it
after all? _Orkeénum_, I do not know what it can be.

_Latàm_ means almost. _Latàm riýgerañi_: He was very near being drowned.
_Latàm riahámat ỳúihàk_: the ox had almost killed me. _Yt_, or _ych_,
means only, alone. _Tachkaûe yt lenechiavàlk_: Give me only a little of
any thing. _Mat_, or _gramachka_, means lastly. They use this word, in
affirming any thing with serious asseveration, or with boasting.
_Gramachka Abipon yapochì_; lastly the Abipones are brave. _Eneha mat
yoale_: this, lastly, is the man. _Chik_, _chit_, and _chichi_, are
words of prohibition, as _ne_ with the Latins. _Chik grakalakitřani_:
Thou shouldst not doubt. _Chichi noaharegřani_: Thou shouldst not lie.
_Klatùm keèn_ means although, and _oagan_, yet, however. _Eneha klatùm
keèn èúének, oagan netackaik_: Though this man is beautiful, yet he is
cowardly. _Tán_ means _because_, and _máoge_, therefore. _Tán aỳte
apatáye ken nepark, máoge chik ààtèkan_: Because there are many gnats in
the plain, therefore I have not slept. _Men_, _men_, mean as, so. _Men
netà, men naetařat_, As the father, so the son.

They have various exclamations of wonder, grief, joy, &c. _Kemen apalaik
akami!_ How stingy and tenacious of thy own property thou art! _Kemén
naáchik_, or _Kîmilî naáchik!_ Oh! how useful this will be to me! is
their way of thanking you for a gift; for neither the Abipones nor
Guaranies have any word whereby to express thanks. What wonder, since
gratitude is unknown, even by name, among them, that they do not display
it their actions? For, as some one observed, they think benefits like
flowers—only pleasant as long as they are fresh. One repulse entirely
effaces the memory of former benefits from the minds of the Indians. The
Guaranies, on receiving a gift, use the same phrase, and say,
_Aquiyebete ângà_: This will be useful to me. The Abipones, after
obtaining what they ask, sometimes thanked the giver with nothing but
the word _Kliri_: This is what I wanted. In wonder or compassion, they
exclaim, _Kem ekemat!_ _Ta yeegàm!_ or _Ndřè!_ (which they usually say
when astonished at any sudden novelty,) and _Tayretà!_ Oh! the poor
little thing!

But these examples are sufficient to show you the asperities,
difficulties, and strange construction of the Abiponian tongue. Were I
to embrace every thing necessary to the thorough understanding of it, I
should fill a volume. Father Joseph Brigniel, the first civilizer of
that nation, was also the first to turn his attention towards learning,
and afterwards explaining this language. He translated the chief heads
of religion, and the regular church prayers, into the Abiponian tongue,
for the use of the whole nation. It is incredible what pains he took in
this study; and his patience, and the retentiveness of his memory, were
absolutely iron. Though he spoke Latin, German, French, Italian, and
Spanish, as well as the language of the Guaranies, whose apostle he had
formerly been, with elegance and fluency, being well versed in six
different languages, yet he found it a difficulty to gain even a
smattering of the Abiponian tongue. He left no stone unturned to fish
out the names of things, and the inflexions, and force of the words. But
though he was extremely eager to obtain a knowledge of the language, and
spared no pains in the pursuit, masters and books were both wanting.
There were, indeed, Spaniards who, having been taken captives by the
Abipones in their boyhood, had learnt the Abiponian tongue, but they had
generally forgotten the language of their own country; while those who
fell in captivity amongst the savages, after they had grown up, had
learnt their language so ill that they scarce spoke a word without
blundering. By degrees they forget their own language, but are incapable
of properly acquiring any other. The same may be said in regard to the
Abipones, who have returned to their own people after being for some
time captives amongst the Spaniards. You will, therefore, sooner learn
to err than to speak from the captives. But if we were able to hire any
one of them to instruct us who was tolerably well acquainted with both
languages, Good heavens! what troubles had we not to undergo! When asked
what the Abipones called such or such a thing, he would reply in so low
and dubious a tone, that we were not able to distinguish a syllable, or
even a letter. If we asked him to repeat the same word two or three
times over, he grew angry, and would not speak. Scarce was the hour of
instruction ended, when he required the reward for the few words he has
pronounced: one day a knife; the next a pair of scissars; the next
glass-beads; the next something of more value. If we denied him what he
asked, he would never visit us again; if we gave it, he was daily
emboldened to ask things of still more value. Great is the misery of the
scholar when masters are either scarce or too dear. I do not deny that,
by daily conversation with the Indians, I learnt the names of those
things which are present to the eyes; but invisible things, which relate
to God and the soul, can only be learnt by conjecture and very long use.
When horses, tigers, or arms, are talked of, you will find any of the
Abipones a Demosthenes or a Tully: if the question turn on the
affections and functions of the mind, and the practice of virtue, they
will either give you answers darker than night, or remain silent.

When we were studying the Guarany tongue, grammars and three
dictionaries were published by Fathers Antonio Ruiz de Montoya, and
Paulo Restivo, a Sicilian, which saved us a great deal of time and
labour. By their assistance our progress was so much accelerated that,
at the end of three months, we were permitted to confess the Guaranies
by order of four of the older Jesuits, who, at the command of the
superiors, closely examined our knowledge in the language. But as the
assistance of books was wanting amongst the Abipones, Joseph Brigniel
made up for the deficiency by all possible arts and industry. If any new
word or elegance could be gathered from the conversation of the savages,
he carefully wrote it down, and at length composed a dictionary, which,
in course of time, grew to a hundred and fifty sheets. It was afterwards
copied out, corrected, and considerably enriched by members of our
society. It is easy to add to what is begun; for the successors, sitting
on the shoulders of those that preceded them, see farther, and more than
they. Pizarro penetrated into Peru, and Cortez into Mexico, but not till
Columbus, who first saw America, had shown them the way. The Jesuit
Brigniel first discovered the track to be pursued amid the dim shades of
a savage language, made himself a guide to the rest, and, to express
myself in few words, merits eternal fame for having kindled a light
amidst darkness, by pointing out the rude lineaments of grammar rules.

The Abiponian language is involved in new difficulties by a ridiculous
custom which the savages have of continually abolishing words common to
the whole nation, and substituting new ones in their stead. Funeral
rites are the origin of this custom. The Abipones do not like that any
thing should remain to remind them of the dead. Hence appellative words
bearing any affinity with the names of the deceased are presently
abolished. During the first years that I spent amongst the Abipones, it
was usual to say _Hegmalkam kahamátek?_ When will there be a
slaughtering of oxen? On account of the death of some Abipon, the word
_kahamátek_ was interdicted, and, in its stead, they were all commanded,
by the voice of a cryer, to say, _Hegmalkam négerkatà_? The word
_nihirenak_, a tiger, was exchanged for _apañigehak_; _peûe_, a
crocodile, for _kaeprhak_, and _Kaáma_, Spaniards, for _Rikil_, because
these words bore some resemblance to the names of Abipones lately
deceased. Hence it is that our vocabularies are so full of blots,
occasioned by our having such frequent occasion to obliterate
interdicted words, and insert new ones. Add to this another thing which
increases the difficulty of learning the language of the Abipones.
Persons promoted to the rank of nobles are called _Hëcheri_, and
_Neleřeycatè_, and are distinguished from the common people even by
their language. They generally use the same words, but so transformed by
the interposition, or addition of other letters, that they appear to
belong to a different language. The names of men belonging to this
class, end in _In_; those of the women, who also partake of these
honours, in _En_. These syllables you must add even to substantives and
verbs in talking with them. The sentence, This horse belongs to Captain
Debayakaikin, would be rendered by an Abipon, speaking the vulgar
tongue, in this manner: _Eneha ahëpegak Debayakaikin lela_. But in the
language of the Hëcheri you must say, _Debayakaikin lilin_. They salute
a plebeian with _Là nauichi?_ Art thou come? to which he replies _Là
ñauè_, I am come. If a noble person is addressed, he must be saluted in
these words: _La náuirin_, Art thou come? and he, with much importance,
and pompous modulation of his voice, will reply, _Là ñauerinkie_, I am
come. Moreover, they have some words peculiar to themselves, by which
they supersede those in general use. Thus, the common people call a
mother, _Latè_, the nobles, _Lichiá_. The former call a son _Laétařat_,
the latter _Illalèk_, not to mention other instances. Both in the
explanation of religion, and in common conversation, we chose to use the
vulgar tongue, because it was understood by all.

I have said that there are three kinds of Abipones, the _Riikahes_, the
_Nakaikétergehes_, and the _Yaaukanigas_. All of them, however, speak
the same language; all understand each other, and are understood. Yet
each of these classes has some words peculiar to itself. The Riikahes
call gnats _ayte_; the Nakaiketergehes _apatáye_. Both names are
extremely suitable to gnats, for _ayte_ means many, and _apatáye_ is
derived from _napàta_, a mat, which they use to cover their tents with;
and so great is the multitude of gnats in the lands of the Abipones that
the inhabitants seem not only covered but oppressed by them. To drink
with the Riikahes is expressed by _neèt_, with the Nakaiketergehes by
_nañàm_. The latter call a head _Lapañik_, the former _Lemařat_. The
Yaaucanigas, in the use of words, sometimes imitate one, sometimes the
other; but in a few they differ from both. The rest call the moon
_Grauèk_, but they, by antonomasia, name it _Eergřaik_, a star. The
rainbow is called by the rest, _Oáhetà_, but by the Yaaucanigas,
_Apich_. But this variety creates neither difficulty nor wonder. The
Teutonic language is used by many nations, but how greatly does it
differ in different provinces, not only in dialect but also in words!
How different is Tuscan from the languages spoken at Milan, Savoy, and
Venice! How different is Castilian from the languages of Arragon,
Andalusia, Navarre, and Valencia!

                             CHAPTER XVIII.
                    OF THE WEDDINGS OF THE ABIPONES.

Whenever an Abipon thinks fit to choose a wife, he must bargain with the
parents of the girl about the price to be payed for her. Four or more
horses, strings of beads made of glass or snail-shells, a woollen
garment of various colours, woven like a Turkish carpet, a spear
furnished with an iron point, and other articles of this kind, are paid
by the bridegroom. It frequently happens that the girl rescinds what had
been settled and agreed upon between the parents and the bridegroom,
obstinately rejecting the very mention of marriage. Many girls, through
fear of being compelled to marry, have concealed themselves in the
recesses of woods or lakes; seeming to dread the assaults of tigers less
than the untried nuptials. Some of them, just before they are to be
brought to the bridegroom's house, fly to the chapel, and there, hidden
behind the altar, elude the threats and the expectation of the unwelcome

Let us suppose the Abiponian bride to have acquiesced in her parents'
wishes with regard to her marriage; without the observance of other
ceremonies usual elsewhere, she is conducted, not without pomp, to the
tent of her spouse. Eight girls hold up a beautiful garment like a
carpet in their hands, by way of a shade, under which the bride goes,
full of bashfulness, with her eyes fixed upon the ground, preserving a
pensive silence, spectators being scattered around. After having been
received by her spouse, and kindly saluted, she is brought back by her
hordesmen to her fathers house, in the same manner, and with the same
attendants as she left it; whence, in a second and a third journey, she
brings the gourds, pots, pans, and the weaving-machine, under a shade,
to her husband's tent, and after a very short conversation returns to
the house of her parents, where the bridegroom is forced to go to take
his food and pass the night: for the mothers are so careful of their
daughters, that even when they are married they can hardly bear to part
from them, and deliver them immediately into the power of another. After
they have satisfied themselves of the probity of their son-in-law, or
after the birth of a child, they suffer them to live in a separate
house. These are the scanty rites of the Abiponian nuptials, which
however are sometimes gladdened by a compotation on the part of the men.
Sometimes a drum is struck by a boy seated on the top of a tent to
proclaim the nuptials. The bride's being covered with a skreen when she
is conducted to the bridegroom's house, resembles the Roman fashion of
veiling the heads of the women, when they were given to their husbands,
with a yellow or flame-coloured veil, whence the word nuptials.

Gumilla relates, in his History of the river Orinoco, that there is one
nation which marries old men to girls, and old women to youths, that age
may correct the petulance of youth. For, they say, that to join young
persons equal in youth and imprudence in wedlock together, is to join
one fool to another. The marriage of young men with old women is a kind
of apprenticeship, which after they have served for some months, they
are permitted to marry women of their own age.

                              CHAPTER XIX.
                    OF THE MARRIAGE OF THE ABIPONES.

We know that a plurality of wives, or the repudiation of them, was
familiar to the Hebrews and other nations, and that it is tolerated even
now amongst the Mahometans and Chinese. The Greeks and Romans did not
universally, nor at all times object to it. What wonder then that the
custom of polygamy and divorce should be common to many savages of
America, since it is upheld by the practice of the ancients? You should
not however imagine that the whole nation of the Abipones follow after
the steps of the other nations in that respect. The major part are
contented with one and the same wife, though I cannot deny that divorce
is as frequent amongst them as the changing of the dress in Europe; yet
I have known many who kept the same wife all their lives. But if any
Abipon marries several women, he settles them in separate hordes, many
leagues distant from one another, and visits first one, then the other,
at intervals of a year. If he keeps many in the same house, which is
very seldom the case, endless quarrels, blows, and battles, are sure to
ensue, about the prerogative of governing the family, and the favour of
their husband. _Nejetenta_, as I said before, is a word appropriated to
express a contest between two wives about their husband; any other sort
of fight is called _Roélakitápegeta_.

Let us now speak of the reason that occasions divorce. It is very common
amongst them to reject wives to whom they have formerly united
themselves, at their own pleasure, and with impunity, so that divines
have very properly doubted the reality of the marriage of savages, as it
seems to want the perpetuity of the nuptial tie. If their wives
displease them, it is sufficient; they are ordered to decamp. No farther
cause or objection is sought for; the will of the husband, who dislikes
his wife, stands in the place of reason. Should the husband cast his
eyes upon any handsomer woman, the old wife must remove merely on this
account, her fading form or advanced age being her only accusers, though
she maybe universally commended for conjugal fidelity, regularity of
conduct, diligent obedience, and the children she has born. None of the
men of most authority have either the right or the inclination to defend
the divorced, or control the divorcer. But, appointing a drinking-party,
wherein the memory of injuries is refreshed in the minds of the
intoxicated guests, the relations fiercely avenge the dishonour done to
the repudiated wife. Often, too, women just cast off by one man are
immediately married by another. I have observed elsewhere that the
younger women highly approve the law of Christ, and are anxious that
themselves and their husbands should be baptized, because the perpetuity
of their marriage is thereby secured, and their husbands prevented from
changing or increasing the number of their wives. This licence of
divorce produces, as I have already related, bloody murders of children,
and the incredible diminution of the whole nation.

You will find many things worthy of reprehension, but at the same time
not a few deserving of praise, in the married state of the Abipones. I
will inform you of those most worthy of mention. Though the paternal
indulgence of the Roman pontiffs makes the first and second degrees of
relationship alone a bar to the marriage of the Indians, yet the
Abipones, instructed by nature and the example of their ancestors, abhor
the very thought of marrying any one related to them by the most distant
tie of relationship. Long experience has convinced me, that the respect
to consanguinity, by which they are deterred from marrying into their
own families, is implanted by nature in the minds of most of the people
of Paraguay. In this opinion I was greatly confirmed by the Cacique Roỹ,
leader of the savages in the woods of Mbaeverà, who, when I was
explaining the heads of religion to the surrounding multitude, and
happened to make mention of incestuous nuptials, broke out into these
words—"You say right, Father! Marriage with relations is a most shameful
thing. This we have learnt from our ancestors." Such are the feelings of
these wood savages, though they think it neither irrational nor improper
to marry many wives, and reject them whenever they like.

Another admirable trait in the character of the savage Abipones is their
conjugal fidelity. You never hear of this being shaken, or even
attempted. Husbands are many months absent from their homes, whilst
their wives remain in the midst of a horde of men without danger or even
suspicion. What the Greeks have fabled of Penelope, who continued
faithful to her husband Ulysses during an absence of twenty years, is
the true history of the Abiponian women. But if an Abipon entertains the
slightest suspicion of his wife's virtue, he does not digest it in
silence, but takes ample vengeance on the person suspected though not
convicted of the injury.

Amongst the other good qualities of the married people amongst the
Abipones, may be reckoned the tender affection which they display
towards their offspring, in feeding, clothing, and taking care of them.
To tutor the boys from their earliest age in the arts of riding,
swimming, hunting, and fighting, is the chief care of the fathers. The
girls are diligently instructed by their mothers in the domestic duties
of females, and early inured to labour and in accommodation. But this is
worthy of censure in them, that however disobedient or refractory their
children may be, they never have the courage to correct them with a
word, much less with a blow. Alaykin, chief Cacique of the town of
Concepçion, whenever he visited me, held a little boy five years of age
upon his lap. This child, who was as restless as a young ape, would
sometimes pull his father's nose or his hair, and sometimes struck his
face. The old man, pleased at this, would cry—"Look, Father! can you
ever doubt that this fearless boy will sometime come to be a famous
soldier or captain, since he is not afraid of me, a leader so victorious
and so formidable to the Spaniards?" The same boy would throw bones,
horns, or any thing else he could lay hold on, at his mother, when she
came to call him home. The warlike father interpreted the child's
insolence, which he ought to have punished, as the mark of an intrepid
mind, and rewarded it with laughter, and even with praise. The too
unbounded love which they bear their children incapacitates the savages
from doing any thing to cause them pain. But every one knows that the
immoderate fondness of parents is a frequent injury to children in

                              CHAPTER XX.

The love implanted in the minds of all nations towards their prince
never shows itself more clearly than when the birth of an heir is
announced. Festive fires, theatrical games, joyous acclamations, songs,
paintings, sculpture, elegant dances, and various other things attest
the public joy. This custom of the Europeans, the savage and warlike
Abipones in their fashion imitate. They make public show of rejoicing
for some days, when informed of the birth of a Cacique's son. As soon as
a report is spread of the birth of the son of a Cacique, the whole crowd
of girls, bearing palm boughs in their hands, repair to the house of the
infant amid festive acclamations; they run round the roof and sides of
it, shaking the palm boughs, by which percussion they happily augur that
the child will become famous in war, and the scourge of his enemies. The
use of the palms, and the other ceremonies which follow all have
relation to this. The strongest of the women is covered from the loins
to the legs, with a sort of apron made of the longer ostrich feathers.
That woman has every day the most business to perform; for in company
with the other girls, she visits all the huts, and with a hide, twisted
in the form of Hercules's club, whips, puts to flight, and pursues all
the men that she finds in every house, and those that are met by the way
are soundly beaten by the girls, with the palm boughs. The first day is
passed in this running up and down, amidst the laughter of the
flagellated men. Next day the girls, who are distributed into bands,
wrestle with one another, and the boys do the same in a separate place.
On the third day they are called out to dance, the boys on one side, and
the girls on the other. They all join hands till a circle is formed, an
old woman, the directress of the dance going round striking a gourd: and
when after a whirling for some time, they grow giddy, they rest at
intervals, and then renew their dancing, which contains nothing worthy
of admiration, but the patience displayed on the part both of the
spectators and of the performers, and is perfectly devoid of art. On the
fourth day, the woman with the apron of ostrich feathers traverses the
town, surrounded by girls, challenging the stoutest and strongest woman
she finds in every house, to contend with her in the street; and now
throwing her adversary, now being herself thrown, affords an amusing
spectacle to the assembled people. During the remaining days, (for those
games last eight days,) either the former sports are renewed, or the men
joyfully indulge in public drinking-parties, wherein songs are
alternately sung to the sound of drum. Of the other games, on the
occasion of some person's being admitted to the rank of captain, of the
celebration of any signal victory, of the death of a noble, the removal
of the bones of the dead, the shaving of a widow's hair, &c. we shall
discourse elsewhere. Of this I am quite certain, that the Abipones
Nakaiketergehes, or wood-Abipones, are much more observant of national
rites and ceremonies than the rest. It is incredible what time and
labour it cost us to abolish the national rites of this ferocious
nation, which the example of their ancestors had hallowed in their eyes.
An oak a hundred years old, which has stuck its roots deep into the
ground, is not felled at a blow. But now, from nuptial and natal games,
let us proceed to things of a more gloomy character, to diseases,
physicians, and medicines.

                              CHAPTER XXI.

I have long since described the Abipones to be stout, vigorous, and
robust; and unless I am much deceived, have already proved in chapter
the seventh, that the diseases, which in Europe fill houses with sick
persons, and graves with dead bodies, are unknown here. Epilepsy, gout,
lethargy, madness, jaundice, diseases in the joints, complaints in the
kidneys, elephantiasis, iliac disorders, &c. are names strange and
foreign to the Abipones. You scarce hear once in three years of any of
them dying of a fever, pleurisy, or consumption. Sickness is more rare
amongst them than an Aurora Borealis, or an eclipse with us. I never
heard any of them complain of tooth-ache except an old woman, who soon
stopped the pain with a few drops of vinegar. I do not wonder that the
savages should be exempt from so common a complaint, as they are
accustomed from childhood to chew tobacco leaves mixed with salt and the
saliva of old women, and reduced into the form of an unguent. It is not
improperly, therefore, that they call tobacco _noetà_, their medicine:
for they are constantly eating honey, both in a solid and liquid state,
which is the certain destruction of the teeth; so that the Indians must
suffer continual torment from them, or soon be deprived of them
altogether, were not the bad effects of the honey counteracted by the
acrimony of the salt and tobacco. Experience shows that persons who
smoke or chew tobacco every day will preserve their teeth sound. I have
seen Spaniards of the higher orders in Paraguay either chew or smoke
tobacco, and take delight in it as of certain utility to the health. But
the Paraguayrians have another remedy against the tooth-ache. The pods
of the cacào are steeped for some time in brandy. Cotton dipped in this
liquor is applied to the tooth, which, if not hollow, is well moistened
with that brandy, which should be held a long time in the mouth. If you
repeat this several times, both the swelling and the pain will entirely
cease. My own frequent experience, joined with that of others, has
taught me the efficacy of this noble medicine, which is celebrated even
in Europe. The freshest and most juicy pods must be chosen for the
purpose, for what virtue will the old decayed ones yield, which are
destitute of oil? The milder drinkable brandy should be used, not that
fiery liquor which chemists call spirits of wine. Some prick the gum of
the tooth with the spine of the fish raya, and by eliciting blood, allay
the pain. Others again reduce tigers' claws and alum first into a calx,
and then into a powder, by laying them on hot coals, and after they are
well mixed up together, apply them to the hollow of the tooth. By the
adoption of this method, many, beside myself, have found not only the
pain, but the cause of the pain so entirely removed, that it never
returned afterwards. Tooth-ache is a frequent and dreadful affliction to
Europeans in Paraguay, on account of the scarcity or unskilfulness of
surgeons. In extracting the diseased tooth, they pierce and lacerate the
whole gum near it, which causes extreme pain, together with much
effusion of blood. That the Abipones never need the aid of these
torturers, is a truly enviable part of their felicity. I never saw a
toothless person amongst them. The teeth, which they have made strenuous
use of all their lives, generally go with them to the grave.

Whenever they feel themselves unwell, although the complaint be in the
foot or the elbow, they always say that their heart pains them. The same
is the case with the Guaranies. If you say to the sick man, what ails
you, what is the matter with you? he immediately replies with a groan,
it is in my heart: so that it is very difficult to understand from the
Indians what their complaint is, and where it is situated, unless it be
betrayed by other signs. Loathing of food for ever so short a time is,
in their opinion, a certain indication of sickness. If an Abipon, from
having overloaded his stomach, abstains from food for a little while,
the women immediately augur the worst respecting him, and make no end of
their lamentations, saying every now and then with a groan, _Chik
rkeñe_, he does not eat. As soon as the sick person takes ever so little
food, though the disorder be not yet subdued, they think him out of
danger, so that _Là rkeñe_, he eats now; and _Là yamini_, or _Là
natatéuge_, now he is recovered, now he revives, are with them
synonymous. Moreover, as the Abipones are but very seldom sick, so very
few of them die when they are sick. I do not doubt but that in the
frequent conflicts they have with enemies and tigers, numbers fall
yearly by the nails of the one, and the claws of the other. In most of
the remainder, extreme old age is generally the fatal disease. In a
word, greatest part of the Abipones die when they are satiated with
life, when, weary of the burden of years, they long for death as the
rest and solace of their miserable existence. This circumstance
occasions the common error that they should never die at all were the
Spaniards and the jugglers banished from America; for, to the arms of
the former, and to the arts of the latter, they attribute the deaths of
all their countrymen. A wound inflicted with a spear often gapes so wide
that it affords ample room for life to go out and death to come in; yet
if the man dies of the wound, they madly believe him killed, not by a
weapon, but by the deadly arts of the jugglers. The relations leave no
stone unturned, not only diligently to investigate, but severely to
punish the authors of the death, and of the sorcery. They are persuaded
that the juggler will be banished from amongst the living, and made to
atone for their relation's death, if the heart and tongue be pulled out
of the dead man's body immediately after his decease, roasted at the
fire, and given to dogs to devour. Though so many hearts and tongues are
devoured, and they never observe any of the jugglers die, yet they still
religiously adhere to the custom of their ancestors, by cutting out the
hearts and tongues of infants and adults of both sexes, as soon as they
have expired. How firmly this mad notion, that men are killed by magical
arts alone, is rooted in the minds of the Abipones, you may learn from
the following facts, of which I myself was a spectator. In the colony of
St. Ferdinand, a Yaaucaniga, famed amongst his countrymen both for high
birth and military prowess, and on that very account ready for any
audacious action, was much afflicted at the untimely death of his little
daughter. He knew that she had been weak and diseased from her birth,
yet was fully bent upon finding out the magical author of her death. A
foreign Indian woman married to an Abipon appeared to him, from the
representations of certain old women, who bore her a grudge, to be the
perpetrator of the crime. Infuriated by the supposed injury, and the
desire of vengeance, he fell upon the innocent unsuspecting woman at the
approach of night, as she was spinning at the fire; he pierced her
shoulder-blade with a spear with such force, that the point came out in
the middle of her bosom, and stained the child she was suckling with its
mother's blood. The woman was middle-aged, very fat, and full-breasted.
She swam in her own blood, which spouted from every vein. The horrid
nature of the wound threatening certain death, the heads of our holy
religion, which she had formerly learnt, were briefly recalled to her
memory; she received baptism, and was admonished to forgive her
murderer. Having thus attended to the salvation of the poor woman's
soul, we applied all our thoughts towards retarding her death, though we
thought no medicine capable of saving her life. The blood which flowed,
mixed with milk, being wiped up, the wound was washed with hot wine, and
anointed with hen's fat. Numbers of people assembled to witness this
mournful spectacle. Mixed with the crowd came a juggler physician, who
gave the husband of the wounded woman a horn, desiring him to discharge
his urine into it, and was immediately and plentifully obeyed. He gave
the warm urine to the woman to drink, who made no hesitation, but
swallowed it to the last drop. The juggling Hippocrates then turned to
my companion and said: "Do you know why I prescribed fresh urine? In
order that the wounded woman may vomit up the blood trickling from the
wound to the inmost parts of the body, which would otherwise putrefy,
and cause the lungs and other parts to putrefy also." The event verified
his prediction. The woman was cleared by vomiting. The deep wound, being
daily anointed with hen's fat, and having the leaves of the cabbage,
which we call _süsse kraut_, applied to it to prevent inflammation,
healed in a few days, and, excepting the scar, no inconvenience,
trouble, or pain resulted from it. The surgeons of our country will
doubtless laugh at the application of hen's fat, and perhaps question
its efficacy in curing wounds; let them laugh, deride, doubt and
despise, with my hearty good-will. I confidently oppose the experience
of my own eyes, to their doubts and laughter. My arm, which was pierced
with an arrow armed with five barbs, by the Natakebit savages, the nerve
which directs the middle finger being injured at the same time, was
happily cured in fourteen days by this remedy alone. With this fat I
have cured men wounded both with arrows and spears; and with the same
remedy I entirely healed an Abiponian woman whose leg had been wounded
by an axe, in consequence of which, as all medicine had for some days
been neglected, the foot was swelled in a dreadful manner. It would be
endless to relate all the cures that have been worked with hen's fat.

The jugglers are commonly thought to be the authors of diseases, as well
as of death, and the sick Abipones imagine that they shall recover as
soon as ever those persons are removed. A tragic event will render this
foolish persuasion more undoubted. An Abipon of the town of St.
Jeronymo, called Ychohàke, elevated by the memory of his own great
deeds, and those of his brother, the Cacique Ychoalay, wasted away with
a slow disease. It never entered his head to seek the cause in the
noxious humours in which he abounded. To discover which of the jugglers
it was that had afflicted him with this sickness, was his daily and
nightly endeavour. On this affair he consulted some old women, who
pronounced a Toba, of the name of Napakainchin, to be the cause of the
disease. The sick man immediately devotes the accused to death, for the
preservation, as he thought, of his own life. In the dead of the night,
he came upon him unawares, as he was sleeping in his tent; he plunged
the iron point of his spear into his body, pierced his left side with a
powerful blow, broke two of his ribs, and clove his shoulder with a
weapon. At the cries of the wounded man, people assembled, whilst the
assassin escaped by flight. We were called to the assistance of the poor
wretch. Seeing him bathed in blood, and pierced with three wounds, we
imagined that he would expire immediately. The bystanders told us that
unless we removed him into our house, the person who put him in this
condition would return to dispatch him with fresh wounds. According to
their advice, he was conveyed into our house. Slipping by the way out of
the hands of the carriers, he fell to the ground with fresh, and
imminent danger of his life; for he was very large, and of weight
proportionable to such great bulk. The place where he was laid in our
house, as it had neither door nor fastening, was fortified by the
Abipones with hides on every side, that Ychohàke might not gain access,
if he came to complete the murder. And, in fact, as the Indians
foretold, in half an hour, he came furnished with a dagger to hasten the
death of the dying man; but being bravely repulsed by Father Joseph
Brigniel, whose companion I then was, returned without accomplishing his
purpose. The wounded man was baptized, and by means of our cares and
medicines, amongst which hen's fat was the principal, happily recovered
in the course of a few weeks. Napakainchin's wife and children gladly
imitated his example, and embraced the Christian religion. A little
after, the whole family, apprehending fresh danger from the same
Ychohàke, removed to the neighbouring town of St. Xavier.

Do not imagine the history of the sick and crazy Ychohàke finished.
After struggling with the disease for some months, with increased
suspicions of some witchcraft being practised upon him, he took it into
his head to accuse a woman, supposed to be acquainted with the black
art, of his ill state of health. About mid-day, he attacked the
unsuspecting female, and as he endeavoured to strike off her head, the
weapon glanced aside, and cut her left cheek, which, falling to her
breast with the ear hanging to it by a piece of skin, bathed the child
at her breast with blood. The smiter was kept off by the people who
crowded to the assistance of the woman. I could scarce refrain from
tears at the cruel spectacle; but not having it in my power to punish
the wretch who had committed the outrage, turned all my attention
towards succouring the soul of the outraged. We had a negro somewhat
skilled in the art of surgery; him I ordered to sew the cheek in three
places to the head, the woman enduring the pricks of the needle without
a groan, whilst the rest were filled with horror at the sight. The whole
wound was washed with warm urine, anointed with hen's fat, and gently
bound with a piece of linen dipped in a decoction of herbs. As no
bandages to fasten the linen could be found, I used the girdle which I
wore. The whole evening during which this passed, and the next night,
the faithful Abipones watched diligently for the security of the woman
that she might not sustain any further injury. For that Indian eagerly
longed for her death, as the means of procuring the recovery of his own
health. But the wound healing sooner than we had expected, the danger
that the poor creature could not always remain concealed was removed, by
her privately retreating to the town of St. Ferdinand. Divine Providence
seems to have dictated her flight; for the Cacique Ychoalay, who was
absent from the town at the time of the event, when informed by me of
Ychohàke's cruelty, and requested to restrain his brother, replied that
he should come immediately, not to restrain his brother, but to kill
that woman, whom he had long thought infamous for her magic arts, and to
be feared by all. And indeed, being very firm in his resolves, he would
have put his threats into execution without a doubt, had he found the
woman in the town. For, in former years, when they wandered up and down
the plains, he turned out of his horde all women suspected of sorcery,
and pierced many of them, though perhaps perfectly innocent, with a
spear, that they might never deceive any one again; being often
condemned both on the score of credulity and cruelty.

But this bloody tragedy, at length, had a happy termination. The Indian
Ychohàke ceased at length to live and to be feared, and you will be
surprised to hear that one, who, in his lifetime, had been so mad in his
suspicions of sorcery, grew sane in his last moments. Having received
baptism, at his own desire, conscious of approaching dissolution he
delighted much in the presence of the priest, whom, as he came in the
early part of the night, he persuaded to repose for a while at his own
house, promising to let him know when he felt his death approach. He
kept his word: he calmly expired the night before Trinity Sunday, whilst
the priest was suggesting every thing consolatory to the dying man, and
his relations were all weeping around him. He caused us to entertain
great hopes of his obtaining a happy immortality on many accounts. For,
indignant at the lamentations of his weeping domestics, he said they
should remember he was going to visit the great house of the Creator of
all things, the high father, the greatest captain. Ever intent on
appeasing the Almighty, he testified sorrow and remorse for the many
murders he had committed, of Christians and others. He repeatedly
desired his wife not to follow the custom of their ancestors in slaying
his horses and sheep at his grave; leaving them, and all his other
property, to his little daughter. All this manifests that he held his
ancient superstitions in abhorrence, and had embraced Christianity with
his whole soul. I have related this to show you that all the misery
resulting from deaths and disorders is attributed by the Abipones to the
magical arts of the jugglers; whom, nevertheless, at other times they
revere as physicians and saviours, of which more hereafter. Much remains
to be said of diseases which ought not to be unknown to Europe.

                             CHAPTER XXII.

During an eighteen years' acquaintance with Paraguay and its
inhabitants, I discovered a disease amongst the Abipones
Nakaiketergehes, entirely unknown elsewhere. This disease affects the
mind more than the body, though I should think it occasioned by the bad
temperature of the former. They sometimes begin to rave and storm like
madmen. The credulous and superstitious crowd think them reduced to this
state by the magic arts of jugglers, and call them _Loapařaika_. These
persons, agitated, as I think, by the intemperature of black bile, and
filled with gloomy ideas, betray their madness chiefly at sun-set. The
distracted persons suddenly leap out of their tents, run into the
country on foot, and direct their course straight to the burying-place
of their family. In speed they equal ostriches, and those who pursue
them on the swiftest horses can hardly overtake and bring them home.
Seized with fury in the night, they burn with the desire of committing
slaughter somewhere; and for this purpose snatch up any arms they can
lay hold of. Hence, as soon as a report is spread through a town of any
one's being seized with this kind of madness, every body takes up a
spear. The hordesmen, as they can neither calm the furious man, nor keep
him at home, suffer him to go out into the street, armed with a stick,
and accompanied with as many people as possible. A crowd of boys
assembling to behold the spectacle, they make a circuit about all the
streets. The insane person strikes the roof and mats of every tent again
and again with the stick, none of the inmates daring to utter a word. If
through the negligence of his guards, or his own cunning, he gets
possession of arms, Heavens! what a universal terror is excited! a
terror not confined to women and unwarlike boys, but felt by men who
account themselves heroes; for they say it is wrong and irrational to
use arms against those who are not in possession of their senses. The
women, therefore, with their children used to crowd to the court-yard of
our house which was fortified with stakes against the assaults of
savages, and through fear of the insane person, pass hours, nay whole
nights there.

Persons seized with this madness take scarcely any food or sleep, and
walk up and down pale with fasting and melancholy: you would imagine
that they were contemplating some new system of the figure of the earth,
or studying how to square the circle. By day, however, they betray no
signs of alienation of mind, nor are they to be feared before evening. A
person of this description, who was very turbulent at night, visited me
in the middle of the day. In familiar conversation I asked him who it
was that disturbed the rest by his furiousness every night. He replied
with a calm countenance, that he did not know. The Spaniard, my
companion, seeing him take his leave, said, "This is the man you have
long wished to know. This is he that raves at night." Yet I could
discover nothing indicative of derangement either in his countenance or
manners. Another insane person of the kind, whom I knew, met me as we
were both riding in the plain, and joined company with me. But,
pretending business, I put spur to my horse and hastened home. Twice
when I was shutting the door of my hut, and once when I was tying a
horse to a stake to feed, I should have been destroyed by a madman, had
not persons come to my succour and averted the danger. Sometimes many
persons of both sexes began to rave at once; sometimes one, and often no
one was in this deplorable state. This madness lasted eight, fourteen,
or more days, before tranquillity and intellect were restored. All the
Abipones subject to this malady, whom I have known, were uniformly of a
melancholy turn of mind, always in a state of perturbation from their
hypochondriac or choleric temper, and of a fierce, threatening
countenance. When this bile was excited by bad air, or immoderate
drinking, it is neither strange nor surprising, that derangement and
raving madness ensued. The stupid or ignorant alone attribute that to
magic art, which is solely to be ascribed to the fault or strength of

We have found the fear of death a powerful antidote to the licence of
raving amongst the Abipones. Within a few days the number of mad persons
increased unusually: one of them in the dead of the night got through
the fence, and was stealing into our house, but was carried away by
people who came to our assistance. Alaykin, the chief Cacique, being
informed of our danger, called all the people into the market-place next
day, and declared, that if any one henceforward took to raving, he
should immediately put to death all the female jugglers, as well as the
insane themselves. From that time I never heard of any more tumults
occasioned by these furious persons. Might not some of them have feigned
madness in the first instance, because they loved to be objects of
terror to their hordesmen, and to be pointed at with the finger? I never
can believe with the savages, that a magical charm was the cause of
their insanity.

                             CHAPTER XXIII.

The physician Roderigo Fonseca observes, "The plague was never seen
either in the East or West Indies, but we know that in America a million
Indians were destroyed by the small-pox not many years back, when no
Spaniard took the infection. This disease was introduced amongst them by
a Negro." I say nothing of the East Indies, being an utter stranger to
them, but every one agrees that no plague ever raged in America: if you
have read the contrary in any historian, remember that catarrh, ague,
and diarrhea, if long and widely prevalent, are called the plague by the
lower orders of Spaniards. The small-pox and measles too are not
improperly denominated the plague by the Indians. We have also
frequently experienced a murrain in cattle fatal to horses, oxen, and
above all to mules; a disease induced not by the pestilence of the air,
but by the badness of the pastures, or the scarcity of water. This sort
of disorder may be truly called contagious, the mere contact with sick
or dead bodies being infectious. Swelling of the head, and blood
trickling from the nostrils were symptoms of the reigning disorder; the
same signs too indicated the bites of serpents in animals. Mutilating
the ear, and cutting the vein of the fore foot, were admirable remedies
against the poison of that disease in mules, especially if salt were
given them to lick. The paunches of the oxen slain to feed the Indians
are daily thrown out, along with the bowels, into an open place, where
all the horses and mules eagerly crowd to lick the garbage, because a
sort of salt and nitre is created by the blood of which they are
excessively fond. Therefore, whilst this dreadful murrain raged in our
territories we daily sprinkled those entrails with salt, the salubrity
of which is proved by the circumstance, that whilst numbers died in the
neighbouring estates, very few sickened, and many recovered with us in
the town of St. Joachim.

It is beyond all controversy, that small-pox is the true plague of the
Americans, and that it has been lately introduced into America, either
by Europeans or Negroes. Hence the just complaint of the Indians. "The
Europeans are fine people, truly! They have made liberal compensation
for the infinity of gold and silver they have taken from us, by leaving
us the plague of the small-pox." Indeed it is a well known fact that the
number of Indians who have died of this disease during the two last
centuries, defy all calculation. In the thirty Guarany towns some thirty
thousand persons died of the small-pox in the year 1734.

It is not true that the Spaniards and other Europeans in America are
exempted from small-pox; but it cannot be doubted that the Indians take
it sooner, and more frequently die of it. I am of opinion that their
habit of body has less strength to repel or overcome that poison. They
generally eat half-raw and unsalted meat; they always go with their
heads and feet bare; they drink nothing but water, and that not of the
best kind, except at a few festive drinking parties in the course of the
year; all which tend to weaken the stomach. The heat of the sun, and the
constant use of maize, cause a ferment in their blood which, on the
accession of small-pox, very frequently proves fatal. This must be
understood of the pedestrian Indians only, for the Abipones, and other
equestrian Indians, who do not labour under those miseries to which the
pedestrians are subject, generally have the small-pox in a milder form.

In the year 1765 this plague carried off great numbers in the Spanish
colonies. Having swept away about twelve thousand persons in the thirty
Guarany towns, it spread to the distant hordes of the savages scattered
throughout Chaco, and though almost all took the infection, yet few died
in proportion to the number of the sick. I speak of the equestrians, who
were saved by the strength of their constitutions. In the town which I
founded for the Abipones, one woman only escaped the contagion, yet out
of the many hundreds that took the disease, twenty alone fell victims to

Often no mention is made of the small-pox for many years amongst the
Indians; but this calm is the sure forerunner of an approaching storm.
We have always found the small-pox break out first in the colonies of
the Spaniards, and spread from thence to the farthest hordes of the
Indians; who, having learnt from the experience of their ancestors, to
dread this disease as their death, separate from their hordesmen as soon
as ever they have the least suspicion of its approach, and fly, some one
way, some another, in precipitate haste. Upon this occasion they travel
not in a straight line, but by various meanders and windings. That this
method is superstitiously observed by the Lules, Isistines, Vilelas,
Homoampas, and Chunipies, I was told by Fathers who had resided long
amongst them. Through fear of the contagion, fathers desert their sick
sons, and sons their fathers. They leave a pitcher of water, and some
roasted maize at the sick man's bed, and consult their own safety by
flight. I should wrong the Abipones were I to say that they imitate them
in these particulars. They do indeed turn their backs on the spot where
the pestilence prevails, and crowd to their lurking-places in the woods;
but on these occasions, they travel straight onwards, as usual, nor ever
neglect their sick friends and relations, studiously performing the
duties of humanity. Their endurance of pain and inconvenience at such
times is likewise deserving of commendation. Even whilst the disorder
rages with malignant heats I never heard them womanishly crying or
complaining. They account the least groan a dishonour, and, to maintain
the character for fortitude, endeavour to endure the bitterness of
disease in silence.

I generally found this disorder most fatal to persons of a melancholy,
choleric habit, or of advanced age, and to women in a state of
pregnancy. To those upon whom, after a feverish heat, the small-pox
slowly broke out, in whom it was blackish, thick, depressed, and spotted
in the middle, or mixed with red and confluent, I presaged great danger
and speedy death;—a prediction generally verified by the event. When the
small-pox and swelling quickly disappear, all hope of the patient's
recovery disappears likewise. I generally observed that persons of a
cheerful disposition, fair complexion, and less advanced period of life,
underwent little trouble and danger from this disease. The burning of
the throat, occasioned by the small-pox breaking out there, together
with the cough and sort of quinsy it produces, are highly dangerous, and
frequently fatal to the Indians. Water, mixed with sugar and
citron-juice, is very refreshing to persons afflicted in this manner; a
decoction of plantane leaves is also of use to rinse the throat, and
sometimes for the purpose of washing the eyes. The old physicians
advised persons in the small-pox to stay within doors, and keep
themselves well covered, lest the spots which are ready to come out
should be repressed to the inward parts. The Abipones, on the contrary,
after taking the small-pox, passed days and nights in the open air, or
in huts half closed, and admitting the air on every side. Whilst flying
to the recesses of the woods they received the cold air into their whole
bodies: might not this be the reason why, out of so great a number of
sick persons, so very few died of the small-pox? For I have since learnt
that modern physicians think the open air wholesomer for persons in the
small-pox than the heat of a room; therefore I now no longer wonder at
this disease proving fatal to so many thousands of Guaranies, who, after
being seized with it, always lie near the fire in a close room, almost
smothered with blankets, and would have thought it fatally dangerous to
breathe the fresh air even for a moment. The habits of the Abipones, in
time of small-pox, were totally opposite, and it seldom proved fatal to
them. To corroborate this assertion I will relate an event worthy the
consideration and wonder of physicians.

One of my Abipones, who was burning with feverish heat, the forerunner
of small-pox, secretly procured a horn full of brandy which he drank to
the last drop. Mounting his horse, in a state of complete intoxication,
he swam across a river in the night, and arrived in safety at a plain,
three miles and a half distant, where his fellow-hordesmen were
dwelling, for fear of the contagion. When informed of these things, I
was in great apprehension of the immediate death of the imprudent
savage, and flew to succour both his soul and body. Unexpectedly good
news were announced: that same night the small-pox broke out upon him,
neither thick nor malignant. In a very few days he recovered, and was at
liberty to ride where he liked. He was about thirty years old, of a
lively temper, strong constitution, and high fame amongst his
countrymen, for the number of Spaniards he had slain. Here it may be
observed that the Americans, who have had the genuine small-pox, do not
fear the return of it. At five years of age I had the small-pox so
slightly, that I was marked in ten places only, and was ill but two
days. Yet that this short sickness is, by the law of nature, sufficient,
I was fully persuaded, after living many months, day and night, with
Indians who had the disorder, without taking the infection.

Almost the same observations may be made on measles as on small-pox. It
rages at intervals, spreads, and cuts off vast numbers in America.
Whilst I resided in the town of St. Joachim, out of two thousand Indians
so many were laid up with this disorder, that often none were left to
supply the sick with food, water, wood and medicines. The offices due to
the minds and bodies of the sick kept Father Joseph Fleischauer and
myself occupied day and night for some months. That pestilence carried
off two hundred persons, out of which number there were very few
infants, and no old men, most of them being persons in the flower of
their age. The tertian ague sometimes spreads like a contagion amongst
the Indians, but is more troublesome than dangerous, and prevails only
in those places where stinking ditch water is in constant use. For the
same reason tertian ague is very prevalent in many Spanish towns,
especially in Tucuman. In the colony of Concepcion, on the banks of the
river Inespin, which supplied the inhabitants with sweet and very
wholesome water, no person was ever seized with the tertian ague. In the
colonies of St. Ferdinand and the Rosary, which were surrounded with
marshes and lakes, the Abipones were destitute of river water, and
consequently hardly ever free from agues. In the colony of the Rosary
the fever prevailed so much for the space of some months, that no one
escaped it, not even myself, though at other times secure amidst persons
infected with this disorder. That none of the savages might die suddenly
without receiving baptism, I daily visited all the sick, and at length
caught the quotidian ague, though the Indians only laboured under the
tertian. The fever daily increased at sun-set, and did not leave me till
morning. This feverish agitation, at the end of seven and twenty days,
was succeeded by the tertian, after two fits of which I happily
recovered. What I suffered, in my utter want of all necessaries, and
what danger I underwent, need not be told here.

Just as I am about to conclude my discourse on contagious disorders, a
circumstance occurs to my mind worthy the critical examination of
physicians. Whilst I was at the Cordoban estate of St. Catharine
belonging to the Jesuits, at the approach of night, we beheld a fiery
meteor, which bore the appearance of a very wide beam, and rolled
sparkling through the midst of heaven to the opposite horizon. The
Spanish strangers afterwards declared that it was visible to the whole
province, and judged it portentous. We, who had learnt a sounder
philosophy, gazed at that sudden splendour as calmly as at a firework,
though it did in reality prove calamitous, being either the cause or the
sign, or, at any rate, the concomitant of a deadly catarrh which
prevailed over the whole of Tucuman, and in two years carried off a
great number of Spaniards and Negroes. Almost at the same time when the
fiery exhalation was seen, this epidemic disease, as they say, began.
Though this dangerous pestilence visited all the cities without
distinction, yet I think it raged with particular violence in the
estates. Travelling from Cordoba to Sta. Fè, I met crowds of Spaniards
carrying horns filled with the urine of sick persons for the inspection
of the Cordoba empirics; for there are no real physicians in the whole
provinces. You would hardly believe what faith the lower orders of
Spaniards place in the inspection of urine, and how much they are
deceived in this matter.

                             CHAPTER XXIV.

Restrain your laughter, friendly reader, when you hear that the Abipones
honour their physicians with the title of _Keebèt_, which same word has
the several significations of the devil, a physician, a prophet, and a
malevolent sorcerer. From which it appears how widely the office of
physician extends with them, and what various kinds of knowledge it
embraces. They revere physicians as the representatives of their
grandfather, the evil spirit, and, believing them gifted by him with the
art of healing diseases, dignify them with his honourable title of
_Keebèt_. But I openly pronounce these Abiponian physicians worthy of
contempt and ridicule, for they never learnt even the rudiments of
medical science, never entered a school of the kind, nor ever acquired
the least smattering of pharmacy, botany, anatomy, or nosology. These
knaves deserve to be flogged every day of their lives by the angry
Galen, and spit upon by Æsculapius, Hippocrates, and the whole tribe of
physicians. For they thrust frauds instead of medicines, words instead
of deeds upon the credulous Abipones, and are as well able to create as
cure diseases, as ignorant in preparing a medicine as in composing a
charm, and better skilled in weaving deceits than in relieving pains.

It is remarkable in the Abiponian physicians that they cure every kind
of disease with one and the same medicine. Let us examine their method
of healing. They apply their lips to the part affected, and suck it,
spitting after every suction. At intervals they draw up their breath
from the very bottom of their breast, and blow upon that part of the
body which is in pain. That blowing and sucking are alternately
repeated. If the whole body languishes, if it burns with malignant heat,
if it is seized with measles or small-pox, four or five of these harpies
fly to suck and blow it, one fastening his lips on the arm, another on
the side, a third and fourth on the feet. If a child cries, or refuses
the breast, the mother gives him to a juggler to be sucked. This method
of healing is in use amongst all the savages of Paraguay and Brazil,
that I am acquainted with, and, according to Father Jean Grillet,
amongst the Galibe Indians. I have known matter sucked from an ulcer and
blood from a wound with utility, the materials of the corruption that
would have ensued being by this means exhausted. Spaniards or Indians,
when stung by a serpent, get some friend to suck the part affected, that
the poison may be extracted before it spreads over the limbs. I do not
therefore blame the Abipones for having their wounds, ulcers, and
serpent-bites sucked: their superstition lies in suffering that office
to be performed by none but the jugglers, and in believing the faculty
of healing imparted to them by their grandfather. Though they at the
same time believe that one excels another in the salubrity of his lips
and breath, and in his healing powers. Another point in which this
sucking is to be condemned is, that they use it as an universal remedy
against every disease. I knew an European in Paraguay eminently versed
in the medical art, who, from having made successful use of the herb
fumitory, obtained the name of Doctor Fumitory. In the town of St.
Thomas there was an Indian healer of the sick, who, when asked what
medicine he gave to such or such a patient of his, uniformly replied, "I
gave him vervain, Father." Having found this herb do good to one
individual, he indiscriminately prescribed it to all sick persons under
whatever disease they laboured. The Abipones, still more irrational,
expect sucking and blowing to rid the body of whatever causes pain or
inconvenience. This belief is constantly fostered by the jugglers with
fresh artifices. For when they prepare to suck the sick man, they
secretly put thorns, beetles, worms, &c. into their mouths, and spitting
them out, after having sucked for some time, say to him, pointing to the
worm or thorn, "See here the cause of your disorder." At this sight the
sick man revives, when he thinks the enemy that has tormented him is at
length expelled: for as imagination is often the origin of sickness, it
may also be that of health. Moreover, it is not surprizing that after
many days sucking the pain should be relieved, which would have ceased
of its own accord, by the benefit of time alone. I do not deny that the
Abipones generally recover; but for that they are indebted to their
natural strength, not to the juggler who sucked them. To him, however,
they religiously ascribe the praise and the glory of their recovered
health; to him they give horses, arms, garments, or any thing belonging
to the convalescent person. Neither is it from gratitude that they do
this, but from fear; being firmly persuaded that the disease will return
again unless they reward the physician to the utmost of their ability.
Alas! how many infants have we seen fainting, pale, languid, dying, and
soon dead from having their little bodies exhausted by constant sucking!
The savage mothers must be certainly mad, since they still persist in
this insane practice, after seeing so many children die in consequence
of it.

Amongst the Payaguas there exists a law that if any of them dies of a
disease, the physician who undertook his cure shall be put to death by
the arrows of the assembled people; and being desperately addicted to
revenge, they are steadfast in the execution of this cruel law. During
my residence in the city of Asumpcion, an unhappy physician atoned for
the death of his patient by his own. Were this law in force amongst the
Abipones, fewer of them would profess themselves followers of Galen;
they would shun the dangerous profession of medicine, and physicians
would cease to grow like funguses in a night. Of this I am quite sure,
that in every Abiponian horde there are more physicians than sick
persons: deterred by no danger of loss of fame or life, and certain of
reward, they besiege the beds of the sick, and suck away their strength
in every disease. When questioned on the patient's danger, they make the
happiest forebodings. If the event turn out contrary to their
prognostics, they have always a ready excuse: the disease was a fatal
one, or their skill was baffled by the magical arts of some other
juggler; the matter rests here, for it would be a crime to doubt the
excuse of a juggler.

Though sucking is the chief and almost only cure in use amongst the
Abipones, yet they have some dream-like ideas of our remedies. At times,
when oppressed by the heat of the sun, or inflamed with a feverish
burning, they will draw blood by piercing their arm or leg with a knife.
Medicinal herbs, of which their country produces so great a variety,
they scarce know by name, yet are desirous of being thought well skilled
in the mysteries of nature. Hence, not so much in the desire of
restoring the sick person, as of increasing their own reputation, they
would sometimes prescribe the leaves of a tree, or the roots of some
little known plant, on which the druggist might safely write _quid pro
quo_, these remedies being generally of such a nature, that they are
more likely to miss than be of any service. At the end of a fatiguing
journey, I fell ill in the town of Concepcion. A woman, of high repute
for skill in the healing art, comes and gives me a large dark root,
promising me the complete restoration of my health, if I would drink it
well boiled in water. I shuddered at the medicine, but still more at the
old hag that prescribed it.

The Guarany tongue is as rich as the Abiponian is poor in the names of
wholesome plants, and not a few of the Guaranies are well acquainted
with the use of them. In the town of St. Joachim I knew an Indian named
Ignacio Yaricà, eight years an attendant upon the sick, whose dexterity
and success I could not but admire. He would set a broken limb, and
entirely heal it in a very short time by means of swathes of reeds and
four little herbs. The woods of America also produce a kind of dark
green ivy, which twines itself round the branches of trees, and is
called by the Spaniards _suelda con suelda_. This plant cut small,
boiled in water, and bound with linen on to the limb, soon and happily
consolidates it. In the city of Corrientes, a Spanish matron was cured
of a sprained foot, by merely wrapping it in the fresh skin of a puppy.
The Abipones are totally ignorant of medicines for purging the bowels,
causing perspiration, removing bile, and dispelling noxious humours.
They will not even bear the mention of an enema. In the town of St.
Jeronymo, a Spanish soldier who professed the art of medicine, being
requested by Father Brigniel to attend upon a sick Abipon, declared the
necessity of an injection. No sooner did the sick man feel the syringe
applied to him, than he started furiously out of bed, snatched up a
lance, and would have slain the soldier physician, had he not saved
himself by hasty flight. Sudden terror giving way to rage, the old
Spaniard, whilst we were laughing, poured forth a volley of curses on
his ungrateful patient. "You had better call up a devil from hell,
Fathers," said he, "to cure this beast. When I offered him medicine, the
savage tried to kill me: he opposes a lance to a syringe. Who could
contend with such unequal arms?" The Guaranies have the same repugnance
to the use of the syringe. The Indians use snuff as a medicine, stuffing
it into their ears, when they find them badly affected by the rain or
wind. The jugglers vauntingly affirm, that they have it in their power
to perform cures by words alone. Sitting on the sick man's bed they sing
extemporary verses, as magical charms, either to reconcile the evil
spirit, or to call up the shades of the dead by whose assistance they
hope to remove all diseases. But away with this superstitious nonsense.
The Abiponian physicians show how little they confide in their own arts,
when, on being seized with a disorder, they neglect to consult their
colleagues, and prefer the aid of any European who will prescribe for
them. At the time that I dwelt amongst the Abipones, the most famous in
the art of medicine was Pariekaikin, the chief of the jugglers, who, on
being seized with pleurisy, called on me to heal him in preference to
any of his colleagues. Calcined hartshorn, boiled in barley-water,
restored him to health, and gained me the reputation of a physician
amongst the Abipones. Nothing will procure you the good-will of the
savages so soon as skill in the healing art. They think that he who
understands the natures and remedies of diseases can be ignorant of
nothing. They will believe him in matters of religion, and be tractable
and obedient to him. Our Saviour himself inspired mortals with wonder,
by healing bodies as well as souls. In imitation of him, when we were
employed in the instruction of the savages, we endeavoured to supply the
want of physicians, surgeons, and druggists, by easily obtained
remedies, by reading medical books, and by other means, in order to wean
that miserable people from their jugglers, whom we accounted the chief
obstacles to the propagation of the holy religion.

It is incredible how well the sick are taken care of in the Guarany
towns. Indians are appointed to attend upon them, more or fewer,
according to the number of inhabitants. These men have some knowledge of
herbs and common remedies, though they are not allowed to use any
medicine without consulting the missionary. They carry in their hands a
staff marked with a cross, and are hence called crossbearers. It is
their business to go about dawn to visit the sick in the district
appointed to each, and to enquire whether any one has fallen ill lately.
In the evening they make their report to the missionary in the presence
of all, before he performs divine service, and are informed by him what
remedies are to be used and what sacraments administered to each. At
mid-day boiled meat with the best wheat bread is sent from his kitchen
to the houses of all the sick, which are sometimes thirty, more or less,
in number. All the sick are visited once every day, and sometimes
oftener, by the missionary, accompanied by two boys. In short we never
suffered any thing of use to the minds or bodies of the sick to be
wanting. Moreover there resided amongst the Guaranies two or three
lay-brothers of our order, European surgeons, tolerably skilled in the
art of medicine; but on account of the great distance of the towns from
one another, they were not always at hand to offer their assistance when
it was needed.

Upon us, therefore, whose proper business it was to attend upon the
minds of the sick, devolved the care of healing their bodies. We always
ascribed it to the mercy of God when trifling remedies banished great
diseases, for we had but a very scanty store of drugs. How useful to the
sick in various ways were sulphur, alum, salt, tobacco, sugar, pepper,
the fat of hens, tigers, oxen, sheep, &c. and gun-powder! scarce a day
passed that the sick did not ask for one of these things. Three gourds
were always in readiness filled with as many ointments: one green, made
of suet, and thirty different herbs; the second black; the third yellow.
Each of these was destined to a separate purpose. We also had at hand
plenty of sanative herbs, and the barks of trees famed for medicinal
virtues. Numerous animals, moreover, supply the Americans with medicine.
I will mention a few. A cataplasm of crocodiles' fat heals bruises. The
stomach of the same when dried, ground to powder, and drank with water,
is said to relieve the pain of the stone. The Spaniards and Indians wear
a crocodile's tooth suspended from their neck or arm, and believe that
it will defend them from the bites of serpents. Persons bitten by
serpents scrape some dust from a crocodile's tooth, and drink it mixed
with water. The little stones found in the stomach of the crocodile when
ground to powder, and drank, alleviate the pains of stone in the
kidneys. Calcined tigers' claws, mixed with alum calcined also and
reduced to powder, are a potent remedy for the tooth-ache. Tiger's fat
instantly expels worms from the head or any other part of the body, if
laid on the place where they attempt egress. Common house-flies often
creep through the mouth or nose into the heads of sleeping persons, and
there breed worms thick in the middle, terminating in a red point at
each end, but white every where else, about as long as the nail of the
little finger, and surrounded with circles like rings. Within a few
hours they multiply to an incredible degree, and gnaw that part of the
head where they lie. The inconvenience occasioned by their numbers, or
want of food, obliges them to attempt an exit wherever it can be
effected. A reddish spot on the surface of the skin is a mark of the
intended eruption. The circumference of this spot must be anointed with
tiger's fat, the detestable stench of which induces the worms to
redouble their efforts, pierce through the bones and flesh, and break
entirely out. I was astonished to see more worms than could be contained
in my cap, proceed from the head of an Indian in the town of St.
Joachim. Nor can I understand how one man's head is capable of receiving
or supporting such a number of maggots. But from this we may conclude
the incredible compression of the worms in so small a space. They make a
passage between the eyebrows, but so narrow, that only one at a time can
go out, and they succeed one another without interruption; the slender
wound soon heals, a little gap in the flesh remaining like a scar. The
Indian doubted not to attribute his recovery to tiger's fat, which I
prescribed for other persons with equal success. You shall now hear a
still more singular fact. That rattle which a certain poisonous serpent
has annexed to its tail, is a noble medicine: for when reduced to
powder, and placed on hollow teeth, it softens them so that they fall
out of themselves without any sense of pain. It is also useful in other

In order to obtain a knowledge of the nature of diseases, and of
medicinal herbs, we diligently studied the books of physicians and
herbalists; by which means, as we often were of service to the sick, we
wrought so far with the Abipones, that whenever they were seized with
any disorder they placed all their hopes on our assistance, to the
neglect of their jugglers. When I distrusted myself and felt anxious for
the life of my patient, I never rashly prescribed any medicine. To
defend him from the injuries of the air, and to prevent him from eating
or drinking any thing improper in his situation, was my chief care. I
afforded him as much wholesome food as I could, from my own provisions.
If these regulations were of no avail, I gave him a medicine that had
been tried by long use, and which, if it did no good, could at any rate
do no harm. The savages, won by our courtesy and kindness, suffered
themselves to be baptized; for at first, whenever they fell sick, the
dread of baptism induced them to fly to the lurking-holes of the woods,
or cause others to carry them there. During the latter years, almost all
of them reposed the greatest confidence in us, and entertained the
utmost good-will towards us, and if they remembered our having ever
cured them with any medicine, desired to have it given to their
hordesmen when they fell ill. From one instance you may judge of others.
In the northern parts of Paraguay there grows a nut, called _Piñon del
Paraguay_ by the Spaniards, and by physicians _nux cathartica_, because
it causes both vomiting and purging. It ridiculously deceived the first
Spaniards who visited Paraguay. Delighted with its sweetness they
eagerly ate this fruit, and to the great amusement of all, found what
they had taken for food to be a medicine, which attacks the human body
with double arms, and expels noxious or superfluous humours by two ways.
We gave three or four of these nuts to the Abipones, for whom we thought
purging necessary, and they all received great benefit from the use of
them. Hence, whenever they felt any weight on their stomachs, they asked
us for this medicine of their own accord. The same was the case with
regard to other remedies. The old women, who obstinately adhered to
former customs, raved when they found their medicines laughed at, and
the fountain of their gains dried up. The jugglers, who had sucked the
bodies, and drained the property of the sick, were despised by their
countrymen as a set of worthless drones.

The Patagonians, and other southern savages, think the body of a sick
person to be possessed of an evil demon. Their physicians carry about
drums, with horrible forms depicted on them, which they strike by the
sick man's bed, either to consult the demon concerning the nature of the
disease, or to drive it from the body of their patient. If any one dies
of a disease, the relations persecute the physician most terribly, as
the author of his death. If a Cacique dies, they put all the physicians
to death, that they may not fly elsewhere. Actuated by an irrational
kind of pity, they bury the dying before they expire. Father Strobl
pulled one man alive from the grave. The Guaycurùs call their physicians
Nigienigis. A gourd filled with hard seeds, and a fan of dusky emu
feathers are their chief insignia, and medical instruments, which they
always carry in their hands that they may be known. I must not omit to
speak of the physicians of the Chiquitos. A juggler physician, when he
goes to visit the sick, fills his belly with the most exquisite
dainties, chickens, hens, and partridges, that he may render his breath
wholesomer and stronger to suck and blow the body of his patient. Whilst
the physician feasts sumptuously, the sick man has insipid half-boiled
maize given him to eat. If he dislikes this, no one will exhort the poor
wretch to take food, so that more persons die of hunger than of the
disease. At his first coming, the physician overwhelms the sick man with
an hundred questions: "Where were you yesterday?" says he. "What roads
did you tread? Did you overturn the jug, and spill the drink prepared
from maize? What? Have you imprudently given the flesh of a tortoise,
stag, or boar, to be devoured by dogs?" Should the sick man confess to
having done any of these things, "It is well," replies the physician,
"we have discovered the cause of your disorder. The soul of that beast
having entered your body torments you even now, and is, alas! the origin
of the pains you feel." The savage takes this for an oracle. The cure is
immediately set about. The juggler sucks the afflicted part once, twice,
and three times. Then muttering a doleful charm, he knocks the floor on
which the sick man is lying, with a club, to frighten away the soul of
that animal from his patient's body. A crueller method of curing was
once customary amongst the Chiquitos.

When a husband fell ill, they used to kill the wife, thinking her the
cause of his sickness, and foolishly imagining that, when she was
removed, he would be sure to recover. At other times they consulted
their physicians, which of the female jugglers occasioned the disease.
These men, actuated either by desire of vengeance or interested motives,
named whomsoever they chose, and were not required to bring any proofs
of the guilt of the accused. The sentence of a juggler was an oracle,
and people assembled from all parts to put it in execution. Such were
the Chiquitos before they were civilized by the Jesuits.

                              CHAPTER XXV.
                          DEATH OF AN ABIPONE.

Death is dreadful to most mortals, but particularly so to the Abipones.
They cannot even bear the sight of a dying person. Hence, whenever any
one's life is despaired of, his fellow inmates immediately forsake the
house, or are driven away by the old women who remain to take care of
the sick, lest they should be so affected by the mournful spectacle,
that fear of death should make them shrink from endangering their lives
in battle. They are, therefore, obliged to pass many nights in another
person's tent, or in the open air. As they have very little experience
of persons dying a natural death, they do not know the signs of it when
it draws near. A short abstinence from food, unusual silence, or
sleeplessness, makes them presage approaching dissolution. As soon as a
report is spread that a man is dying, the old women, who are either
related to the person, or famed for medical skill, flock to his house.
They stand in a row round the sick man's bed, with dishevelled hair and
bare shoulders, striking a gourd, the mournful sound of which they
accompany with violent motion of the feet and arms, and loud
vociferations. She who excels the rest in age, or fame for medical
skill, stands nearest to the dying man's head, and strikes an immense
military drum, which returns a horrible bellowing. Another, who is
appointed to watch the sick man, removes every now and then the bull's
hide with which he is covered, examines his face, and if he seems yet to
breathe, sprinkles him plentifully with cold water, a jug of which is
placed under the bed. When I first witnessed these things, I pitied the
fate of the sick man, who, I feared, would be killed, if not by the
disease, at any rate by the howling of the women and the noise of the
drum, or else smothered by the weight of the hide, with which the whole
body is covered, and which is as hard and as heavy as a board. Under the
pretext of compassion, they use all this cruelty to the departing soul,
that the women may be spared the sight of his last agonies, and the
hearing of his groans.

If the respiration of the dying man be not heard at a distance like a
pair of bellows in Vulcan's workshop, and if his breath stop even for a
moment, they proclaim with a Stentorian voice, that he has given up the
ghost. A great crowd assembles on all sides, exclaiming, he is dead, he
is no more. All the married women and widows of the town crowd to the
mourning, attired as I have described before, and whilst they are
filling the streets with confused wailings, with the rattling of gourds
and beating of pans covered with stags' skins, a sudden shout is often
heard announcing, that the man whom they mourn for as dead is come to
life again. The joyous exclamation, he is revived, is instantly
substituted for the mournful howling of the women, some of whom return
home, whilst others hasten to the miserable mortal on the confines of
life and death, and torment him with their dreadful yellings, till at
last they deprive him of life. After his death, the first business of
the bystanders is to pull out the heart and tongue of the deceased, boil
them, and give them to a dog to devour, that the author of his death may
soon die also. The corpse, while yet warm, is clothed according to the
fashion of his country, wrapped in a hide, and bound with leathern
thongs, the head being covered with a cloth, or any garment at hand. The
savage Abipones will not endure the body of a dead man to remain long in
the house; while yet warm, it is conveyed on ready horses to the grave.
Women are appointed to go forward on swift steeds, to dig the grave, and
honour the funeral with lamentations. What, if we say that many of the
Abipones are buried because they are thought dead, but that in reality
they die, because they are buried? It is not unlikely that these poor
wretches are suffocated, either by the hide with which they are bound,
or by the earth which is heaped over them. But as they pull out the
heart and tongue of the deceased, it cannot be doubted that they are
dead when they are buried; though I strongly suspect that the heart is
sometimes cut out when they are half alive, and would perhaps revive
were they not prematurely deprived of this necessary instrument of life.
The savages, who hasten the burying of their dead so much, presumed to
censure us for keeping the Christian Indians out of their graves many
hours after their decease.

The Abipones think it a great happiness to be buried in a wood under the
shade of trees, and grieve for the fate of those that are interred in a
chapel, calling them captives of the Father. In the dread of such
sepulture, they at first shunned baptism. They dig a very shallow pit to
place the body in, that it may not be pressed by too great a weight of
earth heaped over it. They fill the surface of the grave with thorny
boughs, to keep off tigers, which delight in carcasses. On the top of
the sepulchre, they place an inverted pan, that if the dead man should
stand in need of water, he may not want a vessel to hold it in. They
hang a garment from a tree near the place of interment, for him to put
on if he chooses to come out of the grave. They also fix a spear near
the graves of men, that an instrument of war and the chase may be in
readiness for them. For the same purpose, beside the graves of their
Caciques, and men distinguished for military fame, they place horses,
slain with many ceremonies; a custom common to most of the equestrian
savages in Paraguay. The best horses, those which the deceased used and
delighted in most, are generally slain at the grave.

Laugh as much as you please at the sepulchral rites of the Abipones; you
cannot deny them to be a proof of their believing in the immortality of
the soul. They know that something of them will survive after death,
which will last to all eternity, and never die; but what becomes of that
immortal thing, which we call the soul, and they the image, shade, or
echo, when it is separated from the body, and whether it will enjoy
pleasures or receive punishments, they never think of enquiring. The
southern savages believe that it dwells under the earth in tents, and
employs itself in hunting, and that the spirits of dead emus descend
along with it to the same subterranean abode. The Abipones, who do not
credit such idle tales, believe that some part of them survives the
death of the body, and that it exists somewhere, but they openly confess
themselves ignorant of the place and other circumstances. They fear the
manes or shades of the defunct, and believe that they become visible to
the living when invoked by a magic incantation, to be interrogated
concerning future things. As I was passing the night on the banks of the
Parana, the Abipones, my companions, hearing their voices re-echoed
against the trees, and windings of the shores, attributed the
circumstance to ghosts and disembodied spirits wandering in these
solitudes, till I explained to them the nature of an echo. They call
little ducks, which fly about in flocks at night uttering a mournful
hiss, the shades of the dead. These, and other circumstances, which I
have related elsewhere, prove that the Abipones believe in the
immortality of the soul.

It is incredible how religiously the Abipones perform the sepulchral
honours of their friends. If they see one of their comrades fall in
battle they snatch the lifeless body from the midst of the enemies to
bury it properly in its native soil. To lessen the burden, they strip
off the flesh and bury it in the ground; the bones they put into a hide,
and carry home on a horse, a journey not unfrequently of two hundred
leagues. But if the enemy presses on them, and they are forced to leave
the body on the field of battle, the relations seek for the bones on the
first opportunity, and take no rest till they find them, however much
risk and labour must be encountered in accomplishing this. Moreover, the
Abipones are not content with any sepulchre, but take especial care that
fathers may lie with their sons, wives with their husbands,
grandchildren with their grandfathers and great-grandfathers, and that
every family should have its own burying-place. This nation, having
formerly inhabited more towards the north, know that their ancestors'
monuments exist there, and venerate them as something divine. They feel
the most lively pleasure in mingling the bones of their countrymen,
wherever, amidst their perpetual peregrinations, they may have been
buried, with the bones of their ancestors. Hence it is that they dig
them up and remove them so often, and carry them over immense tracts of
land, till at length they repose in the ancient and woody mausoleum of
their forefathers; which they distinguish by certain marks cut in the
trees, and by other signs taught them by their ancestors. The Brazilians
and Guaranies formerly disliked the trouble of digging pits for
sepulchres. These hungry anthropophagi buried within their own bowels
the flesh of those that yielded to fate. It must be confessed however
that the Guaranies of after-times, more humane than their ancestors,
placed dead bodies in clay pitchers. Seeking the savages in Mbaeverà in
the midst of the woods, I met with a plain artificially made, the trees
being cut down for the purpose, and there I found three pitchers of this
kind, each of which would contain a man, but all empty. The bottoms of
the pitchers were placed toward the sky, the mouth towards the ground.
But from sepulchres, let us hasten to funeral obsequies.

                             CHAPTER XXVI.
                            OF THE ABIPONES.

Of those things which the Abipones do to testify their grief, according
to the customs established by their ancestors, some tend to obliterate
the memory of the defunct, others to perpetuate it. All the utensils
belonging to the lately deceased are burnt on a pile. Besides the horses
killed at the tomb, they slay his small cattle if he have any. The house
which he inhabited they pull entirely to pieces. His widow, children,
and the rest of his family remove elsewhere; and having no house of
their own, reside for a time in that of some other person, or lodge
miserably under mats. They had rather endure the injuries of the
weather, than, contrary to the laws of their countrymen, inhabit a
commodious house that has been saddened by the death of the dear master
of it. To utter the name of a lately deceased person is reckoned a
nefarious offence amongst the Abipones; if, however occasion requires
that mention should be made of that person, they say, "The man that does
not now exist," making use of a paraphrase. But if the name of the
defunct be derived from an appellative noun, the word is abolished by
proclamation, and a new one substituted. It is the prerogative of the
old women to invent these new names, which are quickly divulgated
amongst the widely-scattered hordes of the Abipones, and are so firmly
imprinted on their minds, that no one individual is ever heard to utter
a proscribed word.

All the friends and relations of the deceased change the names they
formerly bore. In the colony of the Rosary, the wife of the chief
Cacique dying of the small-pox, her husband changed his name of
Revachigi to that of Oahari. His mother and brother and captive, as well
as all the brothers of the deceased, had new names given them with
various ceremonies. The old mother of the Cacique was extremely fond of
a lank, scraggy dog, unworthy of the very air it breathed. When this
change of names was made, I asked the old woman what name would be given
her dog, to show them that we held their absurd rites in ridicule,
though unable at that time to prevent them. On the death of a Cacique,
all the men under his authority shave their long hair as a sign of
grief. Widows also have their hair shaven, and wear a kind of cloak made
of the caraquatà, stained black and red, which covers the head like a
hood, and flows down from the shoulders to the breast. Widows use this
cloak all their lives, unless a new marriage frees them from the
unpleasant law of perpetual mourning. An Abiponian husband when he loses
his wife shaves his hair in like manner, and wears a small woollen cap,
which he publicly receives from the hands of an old woman, the priestess
of the ceremonies, whilst the other women are engaged in lamenting, and
the men in drinking together, and which he throws off when his hair
begins to grow.

But let me now discourse upon what entirely consoles the Abipones for
the loss of their friends, and renders the very necessity of mourning so
pleasant to them. Leaving the care of inhuming the body and lamenting
for it to the women, they seek for honey in the woods to serve as
materials for the public drinking-party, to which they all flock at
sun-set. At any report of the death of an Abipon we always pitied the
women, upon whom devolved all the trouble of the exequies, the care of
the funeral, and the labour of making the grave, and of mourning. For
besides that the corpse was to be carried to the grave, and inhumed by
them, all standing in a row, and uttering repeated lamentations, the
widowers were to be shaved, the widows veiled, the names of the
relations of the deceased to be changed, the funeral drinking-party to
be attended, and the houses to be demolished; in short, they had to go
through the trouble of a public mourning of nine days' continuance. This
is of two kinds. One which is held by day in the streets by all but the
unmarried women, and another carried on at night in houses appointed for
the purpose, and which none but those that are specially invited attend.
At stated hours, both in the forenoon and afternoon, all the women in
the town assemble in the market-place, with their hair scattered about
their shoulders, their breast and back naked, and a skin hanging from
their loins. The expression of their faces inspires I can hardly tell
whether most of melancholy or terror. Picture to yourself a set of
Bacchanals or infernal furies, and you will have a good idea of them.
They do not lament in one place by day. They go up and down the whole
market-place, like supplicants, walking separately but all in one very
long row. You may sometimes count as many as two hundred. They go
leaping like frogs. The motion of their feet is accompanied by a
continual tossing about of their arms. Each strikes a gourd containing
various seeds to the measure of her voice; but some, instead of a gourd,
beat a pan covered with does' skins, which makes the most ridiculous
noise you can conceive. To every three or four gourds one of these drums
answers. But what offends the ear most is the shouting of the mourners.
They modulate their voices, like singers, and make trills and quavers
mingled with groans. After chaunting some mournful staves in this manner
they all cease at intervals, and, changing their voices from the highest
to the lowest key, suddenly utter a very shrill hissing. You would swear
that a knife had been laid to their throats. By this sudden howl they
signify that they are seized with rage, uttering all sorts of
imprecations on the author of the death, whoever he be. Sometimes,
intermitting this chaunt, they recite a few verses in a declamatory
tone, in which they extol the good qualities and deeds of the deceased,
and in a querulous voice endeavour to excite the compassion and
vengeance of the survivors. At other times they mingle tears with their
wailings, tears extorted not by grief, but by habit, or, perhaps, by
exhaustion. Most of them carry about some little gift or remembrance of
the deceased, as emu feathers, glass-beads, a knife, or a dagger. I will
now describe their method of lamenting by night. About evening, all the
women that are invited assemble in a hut, one of the female jugglers
presiding over the party, and regulating the chaunting and other rites.
It is her business to strike two large drums alternately, and to sing
the doleful funeral song, the rest observing the same measure of voice.
This infernal elegy, accompanied with the rattling of gourds and
bellowing of drums, lasts till morning. The same method is observed for
eight days without variation; on the ninth night, if they be mourning
for a woman, the pans are broken, not without proper ceremonies. The
tragic howl, which they uttered on the preceding nights, now gives place
to a more festive chaunt, which the old female drummeress interrupts at
intervals with out-stretched jaws and a deep, and, as it were,
threatening voice, seemingly to exhort her singing companions to
hilarity and louder notes. These nocturnal lamentations, which continue
nine days, are commenced at the setting and concluded at the rising of
the sun. The patience displayed by the women in enduring so many
sleepless nights is truly astonishing, but still more so is that of the
men who can sleep soundly whilst the air is filled with confused shouts,
and the noise of gourds and drums. Nor are funeral rites alone conducted
in this manner. The sacred anniversaries to the memory of their
ancestors are religiously celebrated with the same rites and ceremonies.
Should the memory of her dead mother enter a woman's mind, she
immediately loosens her hair, seizes a gourd, paces up and down the
street with some women whom she calls to partake in her mourning, and
fills the air with lamentation. Few nights pass that you do not hear
women mourning. This they do upon their feet, with their bodies turned
towards the spot where the deceased is buried, always accompanying their
lamentations with the sound of gourds. Women find weeping easier than
silence, and this is the reason why the nights are so seldom passed in
quietness. The vociferation, however, always grows more violent as the
day approaches; for when one begins to lament another follows her
example, then a third comes, and then a fourth, till, by day-break, the
number of mourners seems greater than that of sleepers. The men meantime
are by no means idle. The grief which the women express with tears and
shrieks, they testify by shedding the blood of enemies or their own. The
nearest of kin to the deceased immediately assembles all the
fellow-soldiers he can raise, and leads them against the foreign foes by
whose hands his relation perished. It is his business to make the first
attack against the author of the death, and not to return home till he
has fully revenged it; though these savage heroes sometimes make an
inglorious retreat, without obtaining vengeance on their enemies.

                             CHAPTER XXVII.

A few things remain to be said of the ceremonies with which the bones of
the dead are honoured by the Abipones when they are removed to their
native land, and thence to the family burying-places. Many translations
of this kind have I witnessed: I will briefly relate that of the Cacique
Ychamenraikin, who was killed in battle by the savages at a place full
forty leagues distant from the town of St. Jeronymo. A drummer came
announcing that the bones of the deceased leader would be carried into
the town next day about evening. After the flesh had been stripped off
and buried by his companions, they were put into a hide and conveyed on
a horse. To receive these bones with due honour, preparations were made
by Hanetrain, the chief of the jugglers, and his companion Lamamin, and
a house to place the sad remains in appointed and properly furnished.
The whole company of the women hastened to meet the funeral at three
leagues distance. At the entrance of the town the order of the funeral
profession was this: the mournful train was led by two jugglers, mounted
on horses ornamented with bells, horse-cloths and ostrich feathers. They
brandished in their hands a spear, to which was affixed a brazen bell.
They did not keep with the rest, but galloping forwards, rode up and
down as if they were skirmishing, then returned into the path like
persons making an assault, and rejoined the rest of the company. These
were followed by a train of women lamenting in the manner I have
described. Six Abipones in place of an umbrella held up at the end of
their spears an elegant square cloth woven like a carpet, under which
they carried the sack of bones. The company was closed by the troop of
the other Abipones, all mounted on horses, furnished with a spear, a
bow, and a quiver, and with their heads shaven. The victors were
followed by a band of women and children lately taken in war, so that
this otherwise mournful spectacle bore more the appearance of a triumph
than of a funeral. On each side was seen a multitude of horses hastening
to their pastures after the military expedition. All the ways were
crowded with boys and girls careless of the lamentations, but struck
with the novelty of the spectacle. The bones being placed in a house
prepared for their reception, the regular mourning was carried on for
nine days. Nocturnal wailings were as usual added to those of the day.
That the lamentations might be carried on without intermission, the
jugglers, carrying a spear with a bell at the end of it, visited all the
houses to admonish the women at what hours to mourn. The funeral
compotation, meantime, and the conducting of it as magnificently as was
due to the memory of so great a leader, was the sole care of the men—a
care admirably calculated to abate the poignancy of their grief; and
indeed it would be difficult to decide whether the men drank, or the
women mourned most pertinaciously. Whilst this was going on at home,
persons of both sexes were chosen to accompany the bones of
Ychamenraikin to his family burying-place, and there inter them
agreeably to the rites of their country. These ceremonies were observed
by the savages before they were instructed in the Christian religion
only. Other removals of bones were conducted in exactly the same manner,
with the exception of the canopy, which was reserved exclusively for
their leaders. The bones of seven Abipones, who had been slain by the
Spaniards, were brought home on one day, and skilfully constructed into
as many images; hats being placed on their skulls, and clothes on their
bodies. These seven skeletons were placed in a savage hut, honoured for
nine successive days with mourning and drinking, and thence transported
to their graves.

Should there be any European who makes little account of sepulture,
saying with Virgil,

                  _Cælo tegitur qui non habet urnam_,

that man is of a very different way of thinking from the Abipones, who
esteem it the greatest misfortune to be left to rot in the open air.
Hence amongst them, persons inflamed with the desire of revenge
contemptuously cast away the carcasses of their enemies, making fifes
and trumpets of their bones, and using their skulls for cups. On the
other hand, they honourably inter the smallest bone of one of their
friends, paying it every possible mark of respect. We have known savage
Guaranies, who, in all their migrations, carried with them little boxes
containing the relics of their jugglers, and in them, as in holy
preservatives, placed all their hopes. These monuments of savage
superstition were at length taken away by the missionaries, and burnt by
them in the presence of all. The Guaranies newly brought from the woods
to our colonies had no stronger inducement to embrace the Catholic
religion than the seeing their countrymen buried by us with honourable
ceremonies and a solemn chaunt. But now, after I have discoursed with
prolixity on the diseases, physicians, medicines, death, and sepulture
of the Abipones, it cannot be thought foreign to the course of my
history to treat of the serpents and noxious insects which inflict death
on many, and threaten it to all: it will also be agreeable to Europeans
to know by what means the Americans defend themselves against serpents,
or expel the poison of their wounds.

                            CHAPTER XXVIII.

Paraguay contains full twenty kinds of serpents, all differing in name,
colour, size, form, and the nature of their poison. Those most commonly
known are the Mboy̆tiñi, or Mboy̆chiñi, the Quiririò, the Yacaninà, the
Mboy̆hobĭ, the Mboy̆quatia, the Mboy̆pe-guazù, or Cucurucù, the
Mboy̆pe-mir̂i, the Yboyà, the Tarey̆mboyà, the Mboy̆guazù, or Yboyà, the
Mboy̆roy̆, the Curiyù, the Ybibobocà, the Yacapecoayà, the Yararacà, the
Cacaboyà, &c. The Mboy̆chiñi, or Rattle-snake, which is remarkable for
its venom and the tinkling appendage to its tail, is about the thickness
of a man's arm at the elbow, and often as much as five feet in length.
It has a forked tongue, a flat head, little blackish eyes, four teeth in
the upper jaw, besides other unusually acute and incurvated ones, from
the hollows of which it darts poison at all it meets. Some lesser teeth
are visible when the animal opens its mouth. The colour of the back,
which is much deeper at the sides, is a dusky yellow, varied with yellow
lines intersecting one another at the spine. It is covered with dusky
scales, like those of a crocodile, but softer. The belly is of a
yellowish colour, with rather large and almost parallelogram scales: at
the extremity of the tail is situated that rattle from which it takes
its name, and which is composed of a smooth, dry, cinereous material,
the breadth of a man's thumb. Here and there it has a small hollow cell
divided in the midst by a thin membrane, containing a little ball not
perfectly round, which, being agitated by every motion of the serpent,
and shaken against its receptacle, makes a sound like the wooden rattle
which children use. Every year a fresh joint grows on to the rattle, as
in stags-horns, connected with vertebræ, like the chains of a ring. From
the joints of the rattle you may tell the age of the serpent, as you may
that of a stag from the branches of his horns. Hence the older the
serpent the more it rattles. This snake when angry coils itself up; when
purposing an attack it moves along the ground so swiftly that it almost
seems to fly. Providence has fastened that tinkling appendage to its
tail in order to warn others from approaching it, for its poison is
justly accounted the most virulent of any; the remedies which prove
efficacious against the bites of other serpents, have been found
unavailing against those of the rattle-snake, which causes certain but
slow death, the deadly poison gradually diffusing itself through all the
members. It takes away the use of the foot, arm, ear, and eye on that
side which has been bitten, and presently, passing to the other, causes
extreme torture, continual delirium, and acute pains, especially at the
extremity of the feet and hands, which contract a cadaverous paleness
from being deserted by the blood, which is rendered torpid by the
coldness of the venom. All this I observed in two Guarany youths who
were bitten by a rattle-snake. Both were under eighteen years of age,
both were robust and of strong constitutions. The first struggled with
his pains twelve days, the other fourteen, at the expiration of which
period they both died, the strength of the poison baffling the virtue of
the most established remedies. Whenever I heard of any person's being
bitten by a rattle-snake I immediately prepared him for death, by
administering the sacrament to him, before the delirium began. An Indian
woman, in the flower of her age and strength, was reduced to the last
extremity by the pestilential bite of one of these rattle-snakes.
However, to the astonishment of all, she escaped death, but having lost
the use of her limbs, dragged on a miserable existence for many years.

A letter dated Williamsburg, a town of Virginia, September the 28th,
1769, and published in the German newspapers of the 6th of Jan. 1770,
tends greatly to confirm the virulence of the poison of the
rattle-snake: the contents are as follows. "In Johnston county, North
Carolina, at the latter end of June, a rattle-snake crept into a house,
where four children were lying on the ground, the youngest of which it
bit with its poisoned teeth. The father, awakened by the screams of the
child, ran to render it assistance, and was at the same moment wounded
by it himself. Meantime, whilst he was seeking some weapon to slay the
deadly animal, the other three children were also wounded. With the
utmost haste and diligence all sorts of remedies were applied to the
wounded, but in vain, for the father and his four children expired next
day." Has not then nature, you ask me, supplied a remedy powerful enough
to expel this deadly poison? She may perhaps have afforded many which
human ingenuity has not yet discovered, but which are at any rate
unknown to the Paraguayrians. I am not ignorant that books do speak of
medicines for this purpose, which they extol as divine, but all who have
used them have found them of no avail. The Brazilians make use of little
gourds, by which the poisoned wound is enlarged and dried. Sometimes
they bind the wounded member with the rush Jacapè to prevent the poison
from spreading. They sometimes cauterize the wounded part. Before the
poison reaches the heart the sick man is induced to sweat by drinking
Tipioca. Some Indians place much faith in the bruised head of a noxious
serpent applied to the wound, which they also bathe in fasting saliva.
But whether these remedies ever saved the life of any one who has been
bitten by this most venomous snake I must be allowed to doubt. However
destructive the teeth of these serpents are when employed to bite, they
become salutary when used as medicine: for they say that the Brazilians
prick their necks with them to ease the pain of the head-ache. They
think it useful to anoint the loins, and other parts of a sick person's
body, as well as swellings, with the fat of this snake. Its head also,
when tied to the neck of the sick man, is said to cure pains in the
throat. This method of healing was unknown to us in Paraguay.

The next to this in noxious qualities is a snake twelve, and sometimes
fifteen feet long, with a large body the colour of ashes, varied with
little black spots, yellowish under the belly, and formidable on account
of a peculiar poison it contains and introduces with its bite. The
Brazilians call it Cucurucù, the Guaranies Mboy̆pè guazù; and from its
effects I guess it to be the same as that which Pliny calls Hæmorrhoam,
and others Hæmorrhoida. This snake is most abundant where heat and
moisture, the generators of serpents, predominate. Its poison heats the
veins, and expels the ebullient blood from the mouth, nose, ears, eyes,
finger-nails, in a word from all the outlets and pores of the body. This
is related by Patricio Fernandez, who asserts that few persons are
killed by this serpent, because most part of the poison flows out with
the blood itself. For my part I never saw any serpent of that kind, nor
any person that had been bitten by one, though I understand that they
are not unfrequent in Brazil, where the Indians apply the head of the
serpent to the wound it has inflicted, by way of a cataplasm; fresh
tobacco leaves slightly burnt are used for a cautery. The roots also of
the Caapia, Jurepeba, Urucù, Jaborandy̆, &c. are used to create
perspiration. They say that, when the head of this serpent, in which
greatest part of the poison lies, is cut off, the flesh is eaten by the
savages of Brazil. In Paraguay, besides the Mboy̆pè guazù, you meet with
the Mboy̆pè mir̂i, which is scarce thicker than a quill. Though smaller,
it is more poisonous than the larger serpent of the same name.

The Yacaninà is to be reckoned amongst the larger and more dangerous
serpents. It is two, sometimes three ells long, and as thick as a man's
arm. It raises itself upon the last joint of its tail, and leaps upon
people almost as if it were flying. The Quiririô terrifies the bravest
with its very aspect. The size and colours of its body, and the strong
poison it contains, are the occasion of this terror. The Mboy̆hobĭ, of a
dark green colour, spotted with black, very large both as to length and
breadth, and pregnant with the most noxious poison, infests all the
plain country. On the other hand, the Mboy̆quatia is chiefly found
within the walls of houses. It has obtained its name from the beautiful
variety of its colours. It is middle-sized, but of a very virulent
poison. In the rivers and lakes water-snakes of various shapes and
monstrous size wander in great numbers. They are thought not to be
venomous, though formidable to swimmers; for their horrid teeth never
leave loose of any thing they have once got hold of. They squeeze
animals to death with the folds of their bodies. Of the number of these
is the Mboy̆roy̆, called by the Guaranies the cold serpent, because it
loves cold places and shade. Another is the Curiyù, eight, and often
nine ells long, and of breadth corresponding to such great length. This
water-snake affords the Indians a dainty repast. Remarkable above the
rest is a serpent of enormous size, but perfectly innocent in its
nature. The Ampalaba is thicker than a man's breast, and larger than any
water-snake. It is of a light reddish colour, and resembles the trunk of
a very large tree covered with moss. As I was travelling through the
territory of St. Iago, at the banks of a lake near the river Dulce, my
horse suddenly took fright. Upon my enquiring of my companion the
occasion of the animal's terror, he replied, "What, Father! did you not
see the Ampalaba snake lying on the shore?" I had seen him, but had
taken him for the trunk of a tree. Fearing that the horse would be
alarmed and throw me, I did not think proper to stay and examine the
great sparkling eyes, short but very acute teeth, horrid head, and
many-coloured scales of the monster. These serpents live under water,
but come frequently on shore, and even climb lofty trees. They never
attack men, and it is most likely that they are devoid of poison. All
however agree that Ampalabas are fond of rabbits, goats and does, which
they attract with their breath, and swallow whole. As it must require an
enormous throat to swallow a doe, you will perhaps think an equal
facility of mind necessary to believe the fact. I candidly own that I
never saw it done, but should not venture to doubt the truth of a thing
that has been affirmed by creditable authors, and eye-witnesses.

                             CHAPTER XXIX.

The Jesuit Eusebius Nierenberg speaks of a stupid snake, which, from the
description, I take to be the same as the Ampalaba. "It is the thickness
of a man," says he, "and twice as long. It inhabits rocks and caves,
(perhaps when rivers and pools are wanting,) and feeds upon animals,
which it attracts with its breath. Some Indians, in travelling, sat down
upon it, taking it for the trunk of a tree; and it was not till the
snake began to move that they perceived what an unstable and terrific
seat they had chosen. It is however reputed harmless. These snakes are
of such vast size, that eighteen soldiers sat down upon one, thinking it
to be a log of wood. They lie in wait for stags, which they attract by
the force of their breath, a power they do not possess over men. After
squeezing the stag to death, they lick it all over from head to foot, in
order that they may swallow it more easily; but suffer the head, which
the horns prevent them from swallowing, to remain in their mouth till it
putrefies. Ants sometimes enter the open mouth of this snake and kill

I must not omit to mention an immense snake, which the Guaranies call
Moñay̆. In its vast size, wide mouth, sparkling eyes, row of threatening
teeth, and spotted scaly skin, it resembles a dragon. Father Manuel
Guttierrez, when he travelled through the Tarumensian wilds, saw a
monster of that kind in passing the banks of the river Yuquiry̆. An
Indian, his companion, threw a thong used for catching horses round the
animal's neck and strangled it. The Indians of St. Joachim were not so
courageous, for when sent forwards by me to prepare the way for the
royal governour, who was coming that day, they returned home in great
trepidation, because they had seen the Moñay̆ snake lurking in a very
thick grove at the banks of a rivulet. Being asked the cause of their
alarm, they described the horrible spectacle they had seen. A few days
after I had an opportunity of witnessing the truth of the matter myself.
A report being spread that the governour was coming next day, we went
out to meet him, and as soon as ever I approached the rivulet where the
snake had lately been seen, my horse suddenly began to foam, kick, and
run away. The Indians were all of opinion that he perceived the monster
lurking in its cave by the scent. The reason why the Moñay̆ does so
little mischief is because it generally inhabits hidden groves, solitary
shores, or caves far from human sight.

Though serpents of every kind wander up and down, yet some seek
lurking-places under the water, some amongst grass and trees, and others
only within the walls of houses and hollow places. The Mboy̆quatia
inhabits the chinks of ruinous walls. Numbers of these snakes were
killed in the church at St. Joachim, but as fresh ones grew up, they
were never entirely got rid of. I would advise you never to sit down
incautiously in fields, woods, and banks of lakes, without first
examining the place. The Indians, who neglect this precaution, are often
bitten by lurking serpents. Fatigued by a journey which I and my
companions had taken on foot through the woods of Mbaeverà, they had
lain down at evening in a place where I observed decayed posts of palms,
and the remains of huts scattered up and down the ground. I advised them
to examine the spot with care, and to remove the hewn palms, the
receptacles of noxious reptiles, for the safety of their lives. They
followed my injunctions. Under the first stake they discovered an
immense serpent sitting upon seventeen eggs, and on that account the
more dangerous. Presently another, and then more, appeared in sight. The
eggs consist of a thin white skin, instead of a shell, and resemble an
acorn in shape, though larger.

I have often wondered that certain of the ancients recommended fire to
keep off serpents, having found them, on the contrary, to be attracted
by it. We continually see them creep to the fire, and steal into warm
apartments for the sake of the heat. Virgil has justly given snakes the
epithet of _frigid_. The more copious and virulent their poison is, the
intenser is the cold they labour under. Hence, in persons bitten by
serpents, the blood congeals, and the extremities of the body stiffen
and grow cold, as the circulation cannot reach them. That serpents love
heat we know from daily experience. In the deserts we often were obliged
to pass the night in the open air: on these occasions, no sooner was the
fire kindled than we saw the snakes concealed in the vicinity approach
to warm themselves. Whenever the south wind renders the nights rather
cold, they creep under the horse-cloths lying on the ground. When the
earth is chill, serpents climb on to the roofs of houses to bask in the
sun, and thence are induced by the sharp night-air to slip into the
apartments below, to the imminent danger of the occupants. When lights
are brought into a room of an evening, the doors should be carefully
shut; for the serpents in the neighbourhood, spying the light,
immediately enter the house. These animals suddenly make their
appearance in apartments built of brick or stone, and covered with
tiles, when the door and windows are close shut, and not a chink is left
unstopped. One of my companions had such a dread of serpents, that he
never dared take any sleep till he had examined every corner of his
apartment. There are some snakes which leap at all they meet, and bite
ferociously. Paraguay also produces some harmless ones, which are either
devoid of poison, or the desire to use it, unless they be offended.

Who does not know that some serpents lay eggs, whilst others produce a
numerous living offspring? The Americans believe that young serpents
grow from the dead bodies of the old ones. Hence, whenever they kill any
serpents they remove them to a great distance from their houses, and do
not throw them on the ground, but hang them on trees or hedges. In
Brazil, two Jesuit missionaries found a horrid-looking dead snake to
which a young live one was clinging, and, on their shaking the carcass
with sticks, eleven little serpents crawled from it. This account of
serpents is closed by three insects, akin to each other in the quality
of their venom. The Scolopendra, which has a smooth cylindrical body a
span long, twice as thick as a man's thumb, and covered with a hard,
cinereous skin, approaching to a cartilage, abounds with legs from head
to foot, which I neither had power nor inclination to count. It contains
a poison almost equal to that of a serpent, and its bite causes much
both of pain and danger. After spending eighteen years in Paraguay, I at
length saw and felt an animal till then known to me only by name. It bit
me as I was asleep, and on waking, I perceived that the space between
the little and ring-finger, first looked red, and afterwards began to
swell and grow painful. The tumour and inflammation hourly increasing, I
could no longer doubt but that some venomous little animal had bitten
me. Early in the night I heard an unusual noise amongst some tools that
were lying under a bench in my room. Bringing a light, I discovered and
killed the Scolopendra which had bitten me, and next day suspended it in
our court-yard, and showed it to the Indians, who all declared that they
had often seen and dreaded that animal in houses, fields, and banks of
rivers. Do not confound the Scolopendra with the Oniscus, which is a
dusky round worm, two inches in length, and scarce thicker than a
goose's quill. The body is covered with rough yellow hairs. On the head
you see here and there a double row of white spots. It has eight short
thick feet. Whichever part of the body it touches it violently inflames,
which certainly proves it to be venomous. The Paraguayrian scorpions are
said to differ nothing from those of Europe in appearance, but their
poison is milder and more easily cured. I think that scorpions must be
very rare in Paraguay, since, after spending eighteen years there, and
traversing greatest part of the province, I never saw one, nor heard of
any person's being bitten by one. I remember that a Spaniard appointed
to guard the cattle in the town of Concepcion, when lying sick at our
house, was frightened by a scorpion, which put out its head two or three
times from the wall, and that he passed a sleepless night in
consequence, always keeping a knife in his hand against the threatening
animal. Spiders of various forms and sizes are every where to be met
with. Venomous ones with flat bodies may be seen creeping along the
walls. You should take the greatest care to avoid that very large kind,
which the Spaniards call _arañas peludas_, hairy spiders. The body of
this insect, which is about three inches in length, is composed of two
parts. The fore-part is larger than the other, almost two inches long,
an inch and a half wide, and somewhat compressed. The hind-part is more
spherical, and in size and form resembles a nutmeg. A hole in the back
supplies the place of a navel. It has two sparkling eyes: its long, and
very sharp teeth, on account of their beauty, are set in gold by many
persons, and used as toothpicks. The whole skin of this spider is
covered with short blackish hairs, but as smooth and soft as silk. It
has ten long legs divided by more or fewer joints, and entirely hairy,
each of which ends in a forceps, like that of a crab. When angry, the
insect bites. The bite, though scarce visible to the eye, is discovered
by a certain moisture, a livid tumour, and the severe pain it causes. We
have found the venom of spiders prove not only dangerous but mortal:
remedies efficacious in cases of serpent-wounds have scarce saved the
lives of persons bitten by this large spider. These insects lurk chiefly
in hedges, hollow trees, and ruined walls.

                              CHAPTER XXX.

Old books suggest various methods of keeping away serpents: but who that
is acquainted with America would not despise the prescriptions of the
old writers, adapted to fill pages only, not to be of any real use? In
preference to these ancient recipes I recommend the American ones, both
because they are more expeditious and readier, and because their utility
has been proved by long experience. The Christian Guaranies, whenever
they accompanied me to seek the savages in the woods, carried fresh
garlick in their girdles, and, notwithstanding the abundance of serpents
we met, not one of my companions was ever bitten by one. Following the
example of the Indians, I always kept a string of garlick suspended near
my bed, after being attacked by a serpent in my sleep. That serpents
dislike the smell of garlick is well known both to the ancients and to
country people, who rub the milk-pans with the juice of that herb, lest
serpents, who are extremely fond of milk, should get into them. My
faith, however, in the efficacy of garlick was not a little shaken by
one of my companions, who found a snake in the garden close to a plant
of it. But the leaves of a plant are endued with different properties
from its roots and fruit. May not the garlick alone, and not the leaves,
be the object of the serpent's abhorrence? The Abipones and Mocobios
suspend a crocodile's tooth from their neck or arm, thinking it a
powerful amulet against snakes of every kind. In this they are imitated
by many Missionaries and Spaniards, who often purchase the teeth of
these animals at a high price. I have known Spaniards who thought
themselves secure from the bites of serpents when they had a bit of
deer's skin about their body. There are persons who rub their feet and
hands with the juice of a radish, and believe themselves fortified
against poisons. I should not take upon me to despise these safeguards,
because they are approved by the experience of the Americans; but it is
the part of a prudent person never to place such entire confidence in
them as to lay aside caution, and lose sight of danger, which, in regard
to serpents, lurks where none appears.

For this reason I constantly exhorted the Americans to circumspection;
when they had to rest in the plain at night or mid-day, to choose a
situation free from bushes, reeds, and caverns, and at a distance from
the banks of pools and rivers; to take a survey of the spot; to examine
the tall grass, decayed trunks, and recesses of shrubs and rocks, before
they sat or lay down. The Indians, who neglect these precautions, are
constantly liable to the bites of serpents. Throwing themselves
carelessly on the ground, they sleep soundly without a fear or a thought
about serpents, and are often awakened with a scream by the bite of one.
When travelling bare-footed they employ their eyes in watching birds in
the air and monkeys in the trees, when they ought, at every step, to
examine the dangerous ground they are treading. The Abipones, from being
an equestrian people, and more circumspect, seldomer suffer from
serpents than the Guaranies, who always walk on foot, and use less
caution. In the town of St. Joachim, where the climate is very hot, and
the land is surrounded with marshes, rivers, and woods, venomous animals
are unusually numerous. Scarce a week passes that some Indians are not
bitten by serpents. During the eight years that I spent in this town a
vast number of persons were bitten by various serpents, but, with the
exception of two youths who were killed by a rattle-snake, not a single
individual died: all were healed by the use of one and the same remedy.
Now listen attentively whilst I make you acquainted with that celestial,
and almost miraculous, medicine, which is as unknown out of Paraguay, as
it is useful to the Paraguayrians. It is a very white flower, extremely
like a lily in its leaves, stalk, blossom, and scent, except that it is
smaller. The Spaniards call it _nard_. It grows in all soils, flourishes
at every part of the year, and is neither destroyed by long drought, nor
by hoar frost. I never could meet with this flower either in European
gardens, or in books treating of flowers, and have found the most
scientific herbalists utterly unacquainted with it. After diligently
examining every species of nard, I perceived that the Paraguayrian nard
could not be referred to any of them. The root of this flower, either
dried or fresh, is cut into small pieces and steeped in brandy. Part of
this infusion, together with the root, is applied to the wound, and the
rest taken inwardly by the patient. It is generally sufficient to do
this once. But if it be necessary to repeat it a second and a third
time, the force of the poison is destroyed, the swelling subsides, and
the wound heals. The sooner you apply this remedy, the quicker and more
certainly you will repress the progress of the poison. Taught by the
experience of eighteen years, I affirm it to be superior to all other
remedies. With it we have triumphed over the poison of every snake but
the rattle-snake. I cannot count the number of Indians I have healed
with this precious root. An Indian Guarany, as he was lying on the
ground out of doors, was bitten by a serpent. When the poor wretch
crawled to my town I prepared him for death with sacred rites, which the
violent pain of the swelled wound, and the cries extorted by it from the
wounded man seemed to presage. I had only a few drops of brandy
remaining: these, with the root of the nard, I applied to the wound.
Afterwards, as the extreme pain indicated that the poison was not yet
expelled from his body, I saw him recover in three days by the use of
the root with wine, which I substituted for brandy.

No one will deny that tobacco leaves possess much virtue against the
bites of serpents. A Guarany was wounded in the right foot in two places
by a snake, as he was reposing at noon on a journey. I was asked for
medicine, and as no nard was at hand, and we were many leagues from the
town, I advised the father of the wounded man to put a tobacco leaf into
his mouth, and to suck both the wounds. He replied that he had already
done so; I then told him to burn tobacco leaves, letting the smoke enter
the wounds, and to apply a cataplasm of chewed tobacco to the same; I
also desired the wounded man himself to chew tobacco, swallow its juice,
and smoke it through a reed, giving him likewise a vial of brandy to
drink. The poison at length was so much repressed by these trifling
remedies that the sick man recovered his strength sufficiently to pursue
his journey to the town. The warmth of the brandy counteracts the cold
of the poison, and restores the heat of the stomach and of the blood.
Father Gumilla declares that serpents will die if a tobacco leaf be
thrust into their mouths. We learn from the same author that, in the new
kingdom of Granada, the Americans drink gun-powder mixed with brandy to
cure the bites of serpents, and that it produces the desired effect. The
Abipones, Mocobios, and Tobas, as soon as they feel themselves bitten by
a serpent, cover the wound with virgin wax, which is thought to absorb
the poison. At another time they have it sucked out by their physicians.
They sometimes scrape a crocodile's tooth, drink the dust in water, and
at the same time bind a whole crocodile's tooth very tight on to the
open wound. Our druggist at Cordoba, wishing to try the virtue of this
remedy, gave an equal quantity of violent poison to two dogs, tying a
crocodile's tooth round the neck of one, and not round that of the
other, and they say that, whilst the latter died in a very few hours,
the former recovered by means of the tooth. The Abipones surround the
neck of a dog that has been bitten by a serpent with ostrich feathers,
and they told me that their ancestors looked upon that as a remedy.

The Portugueze extol the _piedra de cobra_, which is of a grey, and
sometimes of a black colour, and of various sizes, as the magnet of
poisons: for in the same manner that loadstone attracts iron, this
stone, when applied to a wound, absorbs all the venom. That it may serve
again for the same purpose it is immersed in milk, into which the poison
is discharged. The ancient physicians thought garlick an excellent
remedy for venomous bites. The efficacy of this plant against poisons
was proved by an experiment of my own. A Guarany, as he was working in
the garden, was bitten in the foot by a hairy spider, such as I have
described, and imprudently neglected to mention the circumstance. The
poison beginning to operate, he felt his thigh swell, with pain in the
stomach, and suspecting his danger, came to me for advice. I ordered a
little beef broth to be boiled with plenty of garlick, which taken by
the sick man immediately repressed the poison, the swelling, and the
pain. Nor am I averse to the prescription of Dioscorides, who thinks
that radish juice should be drunk on these occasions. The ancients have
advised washing the hands with the same, to keep off the attacks of
serpents. For it appears, both from the authority of physicians and from
experience, that not only the juice but the very smell of a radish is of
use against serpents. Some bind a live hen, or pigeon, cut open, to the
wound, thinking that the poison is absorbed by them. In place of a hen
some substitute a kid, or the belly of a goat newly slain. Some wash the
wounded part with goat's milk, and they say that a countryman cured a
serpent wound in the foot by dipping it often into goat's milk. They
also say that cheese made of this milk, when applied to the wound, will
have the same effect. To these old remedies America adds new ones, a few
of which I will mention. They apply the unripe fruit of the anana, when
bruised, to poisoned wounds by way of a cataplasm. The Indian physicians
give the herb _taropè_, (which the Spaniards call _contra yerba_, or
_higuerilla_, the little fig, because its roots have both the odour and
the milk of the fig,) to their patient to eat or drink, to counteract
the effects of poisons. The leaves of the herb _mboỹ-caà_ are chewed,
and the juice swallowed, whilst part of the chewed leaves are placed on
the wound. The _macângua caà_ is celebrated for possessing a virtue of
the same kind. This herb is named from the duck _macângua_, which, using
its wings as a shield, pursues and kills serpents, but if it be wounded
in the contest eats this herb as a medicine. The _yçipo moroti_, and
_bejuco de Guayaquil_, have the same property. The roots of the
_urucuȳ_, _jurepeba_, _jaborandi_, &c. are highly conducive to excite
perspiration, by which the poison is expelled. I do not deny the
validity of these remedies, but, with the leave of physicians, ancient
as well as modern, I still think nard root preferable to them all, for
it has been the salvation of numbers, not only of men, but of beasts. As
the cattle feed in the open air, day and night, every part of the year,
they are not unfrequently bitten by serpents, scolopendras, and spiders.
Blood dropping from the nostrils is the sign of a poisonous wound.
Brandy mixed with nard root poured in time down their throats was of
great use, but after the poison had diffused itself over all the members
of animals we generally found medicine unavailing.

                             CHAPTER XXXI.

You might swear that Egypt, and the whole plague of insects with which
divine vengeance afflicted that land, had removed into Paraguay; nay,
you will find many here more mischievous and troublesome than Egypt ever
beheld. I have always thought common house-flies, resembling ours in
external appearance, more to be dreaded and shunned than serpents,
scorpions, scolopendras, hairy spiders, &c. Do not imagine this to be an
hyperbole: I declare it as my serious opinion. Swarms of these insects
are always flying up and down. At home and abroad you will see yourself
surrounded by these hungry little animals, which, though a hundred times
repulsed, will return as often. They enter the ears of persons when they
are asleep, and creeping to the interior of the head, lay great numbers
of eggs, which breed quantities of worms; these insects hourly increase
in number, and gnaw all the flesh and moisture in the head, so that
delirium and final death are the inevitable consequence, unless a remedy
be applied. I knew a Spaniard whose whole face together with the
nostrils was consumed, the forepart of his head being made as hollow as
a gourd by worms. One fly, which had crept into his nose whilst he
slept, was the origin of the worms and of his misfortune. This is no
rare occurrence. That worms are expelled by the application of tiger's
fat you have already learnt from the twenty-second chapter of this
history: but hear further. In the town of the Rosary, one of the
Abipones swarmed with worms to a shocking degree; but these insects,
unable to endure the tiger's fat which I applied to them, gnawed open
two outlets, and all burst away, leaving the sick man in perfect health,
and ascribing his recovery to this potent medicine; by the aid of which
I cured a female captive of the Spaniards, whose head had been grazed by
a bullet. The bloody and lacerated skin as usual attracted these flies,
which, making a passage to the interior of the head, greatly endangered
the poor woman's life, but were soon dislodged by the application of
tiger's fat. We have benefited other persons, at various times, with the
same remedy. I took care always to have a good supply of a medicine so
important, and in such constant request. At the first news of a tiger
being slain I hastened to get its fat, which I kept melted in a little
vessel; for if raw, it would soon putrefy in so hot a climate. Though
the fat of these animals, even when fresh, like the rest of the flesh,
exhales a most abominable odour, yet when mixed in water, it is drank by
the Abipones with the utmost avidity. In some of the Guarany Reductions,
peach leaves are used to expel worms bred by flies.

The natives of northern regions will hardly conceive, and natural
historians scarce credit the breeding of such dangerous worms from
flies; but the Americans witness it daily, and deplore its fatal effects
not only on themselves, but on cattle. When we killed a cow or a sheep
at sun-rise, the flies have been seen swarming round the flesh; soon
after we have found it covered with a kind of whitish seed, and by
sun-set the meat became stinking, full of worms, and unfit to be eaten.
Those who wish to preserve meat uninjured, should either cut it into
very small pieces and dry it in the air, or hang it up in the shade in a
net, or wicker basket, so that it may be exposed to the air, without
being accessible to flies. Should a horse's back be injured by the
hardness of the saddle, or by long riding, the flies will swarm thither
as if bidden to a feast, and breed innumerable worms, which mangle the
horse, and in a few days destroy him. Blood bursting from an ulcer is a
sign that worms are within. In order to remedy this they tie the
animal's feet and throw him on the ground, then dig out the worms and
matter with a slender stick, and fill up the hole of the ulcer with
chewed tobacco-leaves, and cow-dung. This must be repeated for many
days. If the animal can lick himself the cure will be surer and quicker.
But as this method of healing is accompanied with much trouble and some
danger, the Indians, and half Spaniards, who are more lazy than the
Indians, had rather see the plain strewed with carcasses, than exert
themselves either with their hands or feet. The slothfulness of the
shepherds who take care of the estates yearly occasions the loss of many
thousand horses, oxen, calves, sheep and mules in Paraguay. New born
calves should be examined and rid of the worms, with which they are
generally infested; for the flies immediately attack the navel string,
and miserably kill them. On which account, if, out of ten thousand
calves born yearly on your estate, four thousand remain alive, you have
great reason to congratulate yourself, and return thanks to your

I should not omit to mention another worm medicine. Szentivan advises
you to give a drench of olive oil and water to oxen labouring under this
disease, as it causes them to void the worms along with their excrement.
I had formerly read of this, and remembering the prescription, adopted
it in America with success, before I was acquainted with the virtues of
tiger's fat. I had a great mastiff dog, remarkable for beauty, strength,
and courage, my faithful guard both at home and abroad, but somewhat
quarrelsome. He provoked daily battles, and was constantly victorious,
till one day when he was attacked by a number of hounds at once; the
wound which they made was infested by worms, so that, as he would not
suffer it to be touched, we had no hopes of his recovery. After applying
a very few drops of oil to the wound, I beheld the whole brood of worms
issuing forth, and caught hold of them as they protruded themselves from
the skin, with a pair of compasses. When the worms ceased to break out,
I poured on oil again and again, till none remained in the hollow of the
wound, and by this art the dog recovered in two days. The same oil, in a
lukewarm state, is poured into the ears, to get away any gnat, flea, or
fly, which may have crept into them. I will tell you of a false alarm I
once had on this account. As I was dressing in the morning, I heard a
continual humming so near me, that I thought a fly must have entered my
head; a suspicion which gave me much anxiety. Every thing was tried,
without success, to expel the fly, which still continued its deadly hum.
At last, oil heated in a shell was poured into my ear by a boy, but,
from being too hot, it caused me extreme pain. Yet still greater was my
consternation at finding that the humming was not discontinued. "Come,"
said I to the boy, "put your ear close to me, and listen attentively to
the buzzing of this wretched insect." The boy listened for some time,
and then said with a smile: "you need be under no apprehension, Father;
the fly is in your clothes, not in your ear." Immediately undoing the
buttons, I pulled away the coat from my neck, and the fly, which had
been confined in the fold, joyfully flew away. I cannot express the
delight I felt at finding myself free from this danger. It was a long
time, however, before I could forget it; the obstinate pain in my ear,
occasioned by the hot oil, every now and then reminding me of the
captive fly. I must here mention another remedy. If ever you feel any
insect enter your ear, you should make some other person syringe it well
with cold water; for the little insects, oppressed by the wet, will
either come out, or perish immediately.

In certain parts of Paraguay, especially in the Tarumensian territory,
you meet with another species of fly. In size and shape they differ
little from our common flies, but are of a white colour, and have a
formidable sting, which, when inserted into the flesh of man or beast,
elicits a quantity of blood. I scarce ever remember seeing them in
houses; they chiefly infest the roads, where they are excessively
troublesome to horse travellers. There is a great number and variety of
gad-flies, in plains adjacent to woods, but these insects attack beasts
only. I am not surprized at the fable of Io being driven mad by a
gad-fly, having so often seen horses and mules, tractable at other
times, tormented by gad-flies adhering to their skin like leeches, till
they grew quite furious, and lost all control over themselves, and
regard for their riders. Still greater danger is experienced in the
woods from certain large wasps, the sting of which perfectly infuriates
the horses. To free themselves from these cruel tormentors, they often
refuse to obey the bridle, and throw their rider, rushing onwards, and
rolling themselves on the ground; a circumstance which occasions many
broken legs, and bruised heads, and much bloodshed. I, myself, though
riding on a very gentle mule, should have been killed once owing to this
circumstance, had not an Indian come to my assistance. These insects
attack men also. Their sting occasions violent pain and great swelling.
A piece of fresh turf is generally applied to the wounded part, by way
of remedy, but it never did me any good, as my cheek may testify. In my
absence, a great number of wasps flew into the yard of our house, and
settled upon a stake, forming themselves into a large round ball. Lest
passers-by should disperse them, and they should fly into our apartment,
I fired a gun into the ball of wasps. Terrified at the sudden report,
they all flew away except one, which pitched upon my face, and inserting
its sting into the flesh, caused it to swell dreadfully. The tumour was
succeeded by a corresponding degree of pain. On my complaining the next
day, and mentioning the remedies I had used, an old Abipon said, "Why
did you not anoint the swelling with beef fat, Father? that is an old
and certain remedy amongst us." I complied with this advice, in
consequence of which the swelling and pain both ceased. Take notice that
I do not mean suet, but the fat of the animal, which is used in Paraguay
in the place of melted butter. How dangerous it is to provoke hornets,
we have often found in travelling. A nest of these insects concealed
under the leaves had perhaps been disturbed unintentionally by the
Indians, who preceded me as we were walking in the woods; but they did
not escape with impunity, not a few being stung by the hornets dispersed
in this manner. Most of them, however, rushed under my clothes, and
would have stung me all over, had I not given my garment to the Indians
to examine and shake.

No arithmetic is sufficient to reckon the number of gnats that torment
this country, as no patience is equal to enduring them. Wherever you go,
they afflict your ears with their noise, and your flesh with their
stings, making you wish for a hundred arms to drive them away. During
cold weather, they remain quietly in their lurking-holes, but when the
sun is hot and the air tranquil, they fly out in search of food, and are
never more ferocious than at dawn or twilight. Where the grass is high,
where bushes, pools, rivers, or marshes are near at hand, and where
there are thick woods which exclude the air, there you will be plagued
by vast numbers of serpents, and swarms of gnats. If you have to pass
the night in such a situation as I have described, never dream of
sleeping. After the fatigue of riding or walking the whole day, you will
fruitlessly weary both hands at night with driving away gnats. Unable to
sleep, how often have I reproached the sun with returning too slowly! I
pitied the horses which, after being debilitated with toil and fasting,
were surrounded by such a swarm of hungry gnats, that, as they could
neither take any rest, nor graze the herb, they stood round the fire to
inhale the smoke, which, if rather sharp, will keep off those trumpeting
insects. Gnats cannot endure the smoke of cow-dung; but besides that it
will have the same unpleasant effect upon your own nostrils, if your
sense of smelling be not very dull indeed; you will hardly meet with
cow-dung in the woods, where there is not so much as the shadow of a
cow, and travellers through these deserts are too much laden with
provisions, water, and fuel, to be able to carry bundles of it with
them. I was much pleased with the ingenuity of a Negro, who, when he
slept on a journey, always had at his side some resinous material from
rotten wood, which glistens at night, smokes gently without any
unpleasant smell, and, as I observed, always defended him from gnats.
Incredible is the annoyance caused by these insects in a long journey.
We have often returned home mangled, swollen, and bloody, in short, so
unlike ourselves, that we could hardly know one another. Even in the
house, if you do not wish to pass a sleepless night, you should not
suffer the door or window to remain open at sun-set, especially when you
light a candle; for they fly by swarms to any light, whenever they can
find access to it. There is a species of gnats which are smaller, but
more mischievous than the common kind; for though they have not the
disagreeable hum of the others, they creep into the mouth, ears, and
nose, and sting violently.

The most famous gnat in Paraguay, the _mbarigué_, is of the smallest
size. Its extreme diminutiveness renders it invisible to the acutest
eye, yet its sting is intolerably painful. These insects infest the
thicker woods and the banks of streams, and are most to be feared in the
evening, when the air is still. Their sting is like the point of a
weapon, with which they pierce the flesh, not only when it is naked, but
when defended with a slight covering. After passing some time in the
woods, we returned to the town so covered with red spots, that we looked
like persons in the small-pox. When in this state, the skin cannot be
safely scratched with the nails, or washed with cold water. From the
repeated stings of this gnat, large worms are often bred, whether
originating in the pestilent sting, the poisoned humour, or some seed
left by the insect, or in the gnat itself, converted into a worm within
the flesh, I cannot tell. That more than one worm is never bred in one
place, I know, the proof of which you shall now hear. I had observed my
dog howl every now and then, scratching himself and appearing very
uneasy. The Indians, when consulted on the matter, answered that he was
swarming with worms. Under my inspection, they tied the dog's mouth and
feet, laid him on the ground, and pressing the flesh where it appeared
swelled with both hands, squeezed out the worm concealed underneath.
Seventeen worms were thus taken from as many different places, all of a
white colour, thicker than the seed of an apple, and about the length of
a man's thumb nail. Astonished at the circumstance, I was told by the
Indians that it frequently happened to themselves. And, indeed, all
Paraguay knows that the minutest worms and flies have been the death of
many persons. Father Felix Villa-Garzia, during his long search for the
Ytatinguas in the Tarumensian woods, contracted a disorder in his eye,
and was tormented by a fistula and the worms engendered therein for the
rest of his life: that the heat of the sun, and various kinds of gnats
were the occasion of this disorder, is well known.

                             CHAPTER XXXII.

The hotter parts both of North and South America breed a little worm,
the daily cause of many groans, and not a few deaths. In appearance, and
in its manner of skipping, it resembles the smallest of all possible
fleas, and is hardly visible to the keenest eye, except in a very strong
light, but so pungent that it must be felt by every one that is not made
of stone or iron. This insect has so sharp a proboscis that it will
pierce shoes, boots, gaiters, and every kind of clothing. It adheres a
little while to the skin, and then penetrates the flesh, causing an
intense itching: concealed there, as under a burrow, it surrounds itself
with a round whitish little bladder, which it fills with eggs like the
smallest nits. If this bladder remain many days under the skin, it
increases to the size of a pea. This is a common sight. The longer the
bladder adheres to the body, the more is the sense of pain deadened.
Children are much the fittest to rout this enemy from his station, for
the strong sight they possess enables them immediately to discover the
little red spot which denotes the place where the worm has entered the
flesh. The circumference of that spot they prick with a needle,
gradually open the skin and flesh, and at length pluck out the whole
bladder with the little worm buried amongst its nits. When this is put
to a candle, it goes off with a noise like gunpowder. But if the bladder
be broken in the operation, the humour effused from thence will occasion
further pain, and the nits, by being scattered, will breed fresh worms
in the same place. That this gnat teems with poisonous matter is evident
from the circumstance that the hollow from which it has been eradicated,
not unfrequently inflames, swells, and, unless quickly remedied, becomes
gangrenous. The nails of the feet, which they frequently attack, always
decay and fall off, and, to preserve life, it is often necessary to
amputate the toes. Those who wish to guard against this inconvenience,
should study cleanliness in their houses, for the said worms derive
their origin from dust, excrement, and urine in a hot climate, and are
bred in places which are seldom swept, which have been long uninhabited,
and where the cold air has no access to dry the moisture. The stalls of
oxen, horses, and mules, though in the open air, and without a roof,
swarm with them. In the southern parts of Paraguay, where the air is not
so hot, this noxious insect is unknown; indeed it is seen no where but
in the territories of Buenos-Ayres, and Cordoba of the Tucumans. After
passing six years in Paraguay, I was only acquainted with it by name,
and it was not till my removal to the colony of St. Ferdinand, that I
began to see, to suffer and to execrate this pest. Persons who live in a
place infested by these insects, should have their feet daily examined;
for however troublesome this inspection may be, much greater
inconvenience will be incurred by the neglect of it. At one sitting a
boy will often take out twenty or more worms, and when your fingers and
nails are almost all filled with holes, and the soles of your feet so
lacerated as to prevent you from walking a step without difficulty, you
will yourself deplore your neglect and procrastination. I have known
many persons confined to their beds for weeks, and others entirely
deprived of the use of their feet on this account. Though these worms
chiefly attack the feet, yet they sometimes, with still greater danger,
creep to the other parts of the body, and make their nest in the arm or
knee. Dogs, from their always lying on the ground, are most troubled
with these insects; but they dexterously remove them from their flesh
with their tongues, and heal the wound by licking it. Sows, tame
monkeys, cats, goats, and sheep, are dreadfully tormented by them; but
horses, asses, mules, and oxen, are protected against the common enemy
by the hardness of their hoofs. The Americans should take care to fill
up the hollow left by the bladder with tobacco-powder, ashes, or soap,
otherwise the wound made by the needle, and infected with the poison of
the insect, will become ulcerous, conceive matter, and, on occasion of
inflammation, or violent motion of the feet, will end in a gangrene, or
St. Anthony's fire. Hen's fat and a cabbage leaf applied to the feet, to
allay the inflammation, have often been found of service. They write
that the Brazilians, to keep off these worms, anoint their feet with an
oil expressed from the unripe acorns of the acaju. Sailors daub
themselves with pitch for the same purpose. All of us, in the fear of
these and other insects, wore sheepskin leggings, but we found them weak
and inefficient defences.

The common fleas of Europe, diffused like æther throughout every part of
the air, are not only bred in Paraguay, but domineer most insolently
here, as in their native soil. It is a remarkable circumstance that the
plain itself, which is covered with grass, swarms with fleas. Persons
sailing on the Paraguay, when they leave the vessel to pass the night or
noon on the shore, though they lie on a green turf, where no man or dog
ever trod, will return to the ship blackened with fleas. If this occurs
in the green plain, what must we expect in the dry floors of an
apartment, covered neither with brick, stone, nor board? In apartments
of this kind have I dwelt seven years amongst the Abipones, during which
time I had to contend with countless swarms of fleas. Do you enquire the
remedy for fleas in America? There is but one, namely, patience.
Columella, Kircher, and others, are indeed of opinion that these insects
are not only driven away but destroyed by a decoction of odoriferous
herbs scattered on the floor; and the Guaranies do certainly boil for
this purpose a strong-scented herb, sprinkling the chamber with the
water when boiling hot, and sweeping it once or twice. But if the fleas
are destroyed by this means, I attribute it, not to the strong smell of
the herbs, but to the water in which they are boiled, and to the mops by
which they are swept away. Let the houses be cleared of dust and dogs,
and rendered pervious to frequent winds; these are the best precautions
against the smaller insects. Lice are never to be met with amongst the
Abipones, except in the hair. The Spanish colonies abound in bugs, but I
never beheld one in the towns of the Indians. Flying bugs, called
_binchuccas_, are common in Cordoba, and other parts of Tucuman. By day
they lurk in the chinks of roofs and chests, but fly out at night and
make bloody war upon sleepers. They affect the part upon which they
fasten with an intolerable heat, seeming rather to burn than bite the
body. The red spots caused by the pain appear as if they had been raised
by a caustic. Fatigued with fifteen days hard riding, through a
continuous desert, and amid unceasing showers, I reached the town of
Salabina, where repose was not only desirable, but almost indispensable
for me; yet the whole night passed away without my being able to obtain
a wink of sound sleep. I felt all my limbs pricked and heated, but was
unable to discover the cause of this unusual pain. When day-light
appeared, all who saw me covered with red spots pitied my misfortune,
and assured me that the flying bugs were the cause of it. In another
journey I passed the night in company with a noble priest, who, after we
had partaken of a light supper, set out with me and his domestics to
sleep in a neighbouring field. In that part of the country this is both
customary and necessary, for in hot nights the houses swarm with bugs to
such a degree that it is impossible to get any sleep in them.

Amongst pernicious insects no inconsiderable place should be assigned to
the _garrapata_, which is about the size of a lentil, and in form
resembles a land tortoise, except that it is more spherical, wearing on
its back a mail like that animal. It is of a dark tawny colour, partly
variegated, has a flat body, eight little feet, and a prominent head or
proboscis, which it inserts into the skin, fastening, at the same time,
the hooks of its feet into it, and whilst it sucks blood from every part
of the body, creates an itching and inflammation, followed by swelling
and matter, which often lasts four days or more, while the ulcer will
hardly heal within a fortnight. When the insect has fixed its head deep
into the flesh, it is very difficult to pull it out entire; and if it
remain sticking in the flesh you will be in a bad condition; for the
venom will not be got rid of till matter has flowed for a long time from
that itching ulcer. The plains and woods are filled with this insect, so
hostile both to man and beast. Where you see rotten leaves, or reeds,
there you will find swarms of this little animal. When we travelled in
the woods to discover the hordes of the savages, we disregarded tigers,
serpents, and caruguàs, in comparison with these noxious insects: it was
our constant complaint that we had not eyes enough to avoid them, nor
hands sufficient to drive them away. The Spaniards employed in seeking
the herb of Paraguay, when they daily return to their hut, lay down the
bundles of boughs with which they are laden, and hasten to the next lake
or river to bathe, where, having stripped themselves naked, they examine
one another's bodies, and pluck out the garrapatas sticking in their
flesh; unless this precaution were adopted, they would be killed in a
few days with the superabundance of matter, and of ulcers. Goats, does,
monkeys, tamanduas, dogs, and every wild animal that inhabits the plains
or woods, all swarm with these insects. The lesser garrapatas are much
more mischievous than the larger ones.

There are many species and incredible numbers both of creeping and
flying ants in Paraguay. The worst and most stinging kind are the least
in size, and of a red colour. They carry off sugar, honey, and every
thing sweet, so that you have need of much ingenuity to defend provision
of this kind from them. From eating sweet things they increase their
bile, and acquire a subtle venom. As soon as they get upon the skin,
they create a pustule, which lasts many days, and causes severe pain. To
this very small species of ants, I subjoin the largest I had an
opportunity of seeing, which are formidable on account of their
undermining buildings. They make burrows with infinite labour, under
churches and houses, digging deep sinuous meanders in the earth, and
exerting their utmost strength to throw out the loosened sods. Having
got wings they fly off in all directions, on the approach of heavy
showers, with the same ill fortune as Icarus, but with this difference,
that he perished in the sea, they on the ground, to which they fall when
their wings are wetted by the rain. Moreover those holes in the earth,
by which the ants used first to pass, admit the rain water, which
inundates the caves of the ants, and undermines the building, causing
the wooden beams that uphold the wall and roof, first to give way, and
unless immediately supported, to fall along with the house. This is a
common spectacle in Paraguay. The whole hill on which St. Joachim was
built was covered with ant-hills, and full of subterranean cavities. Our
house, and the one adjoining, suffered much from these insects. The
chief altar was rendered useless for many days: for, it being rainy
weather, the lurking ants flew in swarms from their caves, and not being
able to support a long flight, fell upon the priest, the altar, and
sacred utensils, defiling every thing. Ten outlets by which they broke
from their caves being closed up, next day they opened twenty more. One
evening there arose a violent storm, with horrible thunder and
lightning. A heavy shower seemed to have converted our court-yard into a
sloping lake, the wall itself withstanding the course of the waters. My
companion betook himself to my apartment. Mean time an Indian, the
churchwarden, arrives, announcing that the floor of the church was
beginning to gape, and the wall to open and be inclined. I snatched up a
lamp and ran to the place, but had hardly quitted the threshold of my
door, when I perceived a gap in the earth; and before I was aware of any
danger, sunk up to the shoulders in a pit, in the very place of the
chief altar, but scrambled out of it by the help of the churchwarden, as
quickly as I had got in, for under that altar the ants seemed to have
made their metropolis: the cavern was many feet long and wide, so that
it had the appearance of a wine-cellar. As often as earth was thrown in
by the Indians to fill it, so often was it dug out by the ants. In this
universal trepidation, all the Indians were called to prop the gaping
wall of the church with rafters and planks. The greatness of the danger
rendered it impossible to remain quiet, whatever arts were adopted. That
same night I removed from my apartment, which was joined to the church
with the same beams and rafters in such a manner, that if one fell, the
other could not avoid being involved in the ruin. I have read, that in
Guayana, rocks and mountains have been undermined, walls thrown down,
and people turned out of their habitations by ants, which I can easily
believe, having myself witnessed similar, or even more incredible

In Paraguay I was made thoroughly acquainted with the powers of ants.
They are weak, and, compared with many other insects, diminutive, but
numbers, labour, and unanimity render them formidable, and endow them
with strength superior to their size. In the plains, especially those
near the Paraguay, I have seen ant-hills, like stone pyramids, three or
more ells high, with a broad base, and composed of a solid material as
hard as stone: these are the store-houses and castles of the ants, from
the summits of which they discern sudden inundations, and safely behold
the floating carcasses of less industrious animals. Elsewhere I have
seen an immense plain, so covered with low ant-hills that the horse
could not move a step without stumbling. In the plains you may often
observe a broad path, through which you would swear the legions of
Xerxes might have passed. The Spaniards hollow out these pyramidal
heaps, and use them for ovens, or reduce them to a powder, which, mixed
with water, serves admirably to floor houses. Pavements of this kind
resemble stone in appearance and hardness, and are said to prevent the
breeding of fleas, and other insects. But hear what mischief ants commit
within doors. They flock in a long and almost endless company to the
sacks of wheat, and in a journey uninterrupted by day or night, (if
there be a moon,) carry off, by degrees, some bushels. They will
entirely strip fruit trees of their leaves, unless you twist a cow's
tail round the trunk to hinder their ascent, and eat away the crops so
completely that you would think they had been cut with a sickle.
Moreover, ants of various kinds are extremely destructive both to
vineyards and gardens, devouring vegetables and pulse to the very root.
Set a young plant in the ground and the next day you will seek it in
vain. They refrain from pepper, on account of its pungency. If you leave
meat, either dressed or raw, in your apartment, you will soon find it
blackened with swarms of ants. They devour all sorts of trash, the very
carcasses of beetles, toads, and snakes. On returning to my apartment, I
found a little bird which I kept in a cage devoured by ants. Nor do they
abstain from the bodies of sleeping persons. In the dead of the night an
army of ants will issue from the wall or pavement, get upon the bed, and
unless you instantly make your escape, sting you all over. This happened
so frequently in the Guarany colonies, that we were obliged to burn a
candle at night: for lighted sheets of paper thrown upon the swarm, are
the only means of driving them away. The Portugueze have an old saying,
that the ants are queens of Brazil. Certainly we have found them the
sovereigns of Paraguay. There may be said to be more trouble in
conquering these insects, than all the savages put together; for every
contrivance hitherto devised serves only to put them to flight, not
banish them effectually. Should you hire workmen at a great expense to
throw fire upon the caves of the ants, and destroy their eggs, fresh
ones will be found next day in other parts of the garden. If swine's
dung, chalk, urine, or wild marjoram be put into their cave, they will
depart, but only to dig themselves fresh habitations in the
neighbourhood. Sulphur is superior to other remedies, and the way in
which it is to be used we learnt from the Portugueze. You seek out the
principal lurking-place of the ants, lay a chafing dish of lighted coals
in the largest opening by which they enter the earth, blow them into a
flame, and add sulphur to make a smoke. You carefully stop up the other
openings, through which you perceive the smoke issue, with mud, that the
sulphureous smoke may not be permitted to escape. You then light all the
sulphur you have at hand, by means of bellows, and the smoke filling the
whole cave will suffocate all the ants that lurk there. This has been
successfully practised by many persons in Paraguay. But if sulphur be
wanting in these solitudes, or patience to use it, then grapes and the
productions of the trees and plains must fail also. The ants will
devastate every thing, and elude all the arts of the cultivator, unless
destroyed by the smoke of sulphur.

It were to wrong the Paraguayrian ants, if, after having so minutely
described all the mischief they commit, I were to be silent on their
benefits. Some of the larger sort have a little ball in the hind part of
their bodies full of very white fat, which, when collected, and melted
like butter, is eaten with pleasure both by Indians and Spaniards. Other
very small ants, in those shrubs which bear the quabyra-miri, deposit a
wax naturally white, and consisting of small particles, which is used to
make candles for the use of the altar, and when lighted exhales an odour
sweeter than frankincense, but quickly melts, and though double the
price of any other wax is sooner consumed. There are also ants that
convey to their caves particles of fragrant rosin, which serve for
frankincense. In certain parts of Asia small particles of gold are
collected by the ants, from mountains which produce that metal. The
inhabitants, in order to get possession of the gold, attack their caves,
the repositories of this treasure, especially in the heat of the sun;
but the ants stoutly defending their riches, they often return
empty-handed, and sometimes are obliged to make a precipitate retreat. I
have long wished that those Europeans who have to feed larks and
nightingales would come to this country, and load their ships with
ant-eggs: they would certainly return with great profit, and at the same
time do a signal service to America.

There are also incredible numbers of very large toads, especially in
deserted, or but lately inhabited places. In the town of Concepcion,
removed to the banks of the Salado, about evening all the streets were
so covered with toads, that they were rendered as slippery as ice. They
filled the chapel, our house, every place. They not unfrequently fell
from the roof on to the floor, bed, or table. They could creep along the
wall, and ascend and descend like flies. When the kitchen fire is
kindled on the ground toads sometimes creep into the pans and kettles.
Once, as I was pouring boiling water from a brass vessel into a gourd,
to mix with the herb of Paraguay, I perceived that the water was bad,
and of a black colour; and, on inspecting the vessel, found a toad
boiled with the water, which had given it that dark hue, and was so
swelled that it entirely choked up the mouth of the vessel. In the
colony of the Rosary, which I founded on the banks of a lake, there was
the same abundance of toads. Whilst I performed divine service the
chapel swarmed with them, and though many were slain every hour of the
day, for two years, their numbers seemed rather to increase than
diminish. A species of toad, called by the Spaniards _escuerzos_, and
much larger than European ones, are not only troublesome, but, when
provoked, dangerous: for by way of revenge they squirt their urine at
those by whom they are offended, and if the least drop of this liquid
enter the eye it will immediately produce blindness. It is moreover
indubitable that not only their urine, but their saliva, blood, and gall
possess a poisonous property. We learn from creditable authors that the
Brazilian savages roast toads, and then reduce them to a powder, which
they infuse into the meat or drink of their enemies to cause their
death; for it occasions a dryness and inflammation of the throat,
together with vomiting, hiccups, sudden fainting, delirium, severe pains
in the joints and stomach, and sometimes dysentery. Persons afflicted in
this manner, if the force of the poison admit of medicine, should
immediately have recourse to purging and vomiting, with repeated
walking, or the bath, to produce perspiration. For the same purpose the
sick man is sometimes put into a tolerably hot oven, or placed inside a
beast that has been newly slain. Various herbs and roots are also made
use of to dissipate the poison, the chief of which is one called
_nhambi_. If the juice of this herb be thrown on the back or head of the
toad, after those parts have been rubbed a little on the ground, it will
instantly kill the pestilent animal. This also is effected by means of
tobacco. American toads are of a cinereous or light red colour,
sometimes variegated, covered with warts, and bristly like a hedgehog. I
have read that certain savages feed on a species of toad, but never
witnessed it myself. European physicians say that toads, properly
prepared by druggists, are useful as diuretics in dropsy, plague, and
fevers, and they advise a bruised toad to be applied to the back, about
the kidneys, by way of a cataplasm, in cases of dropsy. The oil of toads
is useful for curing warts, according to Woytz. River crabs, hartshorn,
the flowers of the vine, and other things, are recommended by the same
authors as remedies for the poison of toads. There is also a great
variety and abundance of frogs, which croak away in the mud, equally
annoying to the inhabitants and to travellers. In other respects they
are neither useful nor prejudicial, though in Europe they are employed
both as medicine and food; but there is nothing to which you would not
sooner persuade an American than to eat frogs, or make any other use of

Leeches are always to be found in pools supplied solely with rain water;
but I never saw any so large as ours. In the town of the Rosary, after a
heavy shower the streets seemed full of leeches, and the Abipones, who
always go barefoot, complained that they clung to their feet wherever
they went; but in the space of an hour these troublesome guests all
disappeared, having betaken themselves, most probably, to the adjoining
lake. Of bats I have spoken in a former part of my history.

Paraguay may be called the Paradise of mice and dormice. From the number
of oxen daily slain, such abundance of offal is every where to be had,
that dormice, which in our country can hardly find anything to eat, here
feast day and night, which, of course, must wonderfully increase their
numbers. At Buenos-Ayres, to my astonishment, I beheld dormice, larger
than our squirrels, issue by crowds out of the old walls into the court,
about sun-set. At Cordoba in Tucuman, an ox, stripped of its hide and
entrails, but entire in every other respect, was suspended from a beam
in the clerk's office. The lay-brothers, on entering the office, beheld
the ox entirely covered with dormice, and drew near to see how much they
had devoured in the night. On handling the flesh, they found it
completely hollowed, and three hundred dormice lurking within. Upon
hearing this, I conceived such a disgust of meat gnawed by these
animals, that for two days I carefully avoided the eating-room, and
contented myself with bread alone. The fruit of my abstinence was, that
the meat was thenceforward kept cleaner, and in a more appropriate
place. An innumerable host of dormice not unfrequently came thronging
from the southern parts of Buenos-Ayres, filled the fields, garners, and
houses of Tucuman, and laid waste every thing. They swam across rivers
without fear. They left the immense tract of plain country through which
they took their way beaten and pressed as if by waggons. The
Paraguayrian countrymen, frightened by their multitudes, chose rather to
quit their huts, which were exposed on all sides, than take up arms
against the foe. Nor should you imagine the Paraguayrian dormice are
fond of nothing but beef; they delight in human flesh, for they
frequently bite you when you are sound asleep, and that with no sluggish
tooth. Moreover, there is no kind of trash which they will not steal and
hide in their store-houses, to serve either for food or bed. They tear
the silken markers out of the prayer-books to make their nests. They run
off with aprons, bandages, stockings, linen and woollen articles of
every kind, carrying them to their holes for bed-clothes and cushions.
These troublesome pilferers not only commit daily thefts upon the
inhabitants, but frequently set fire to the houses themselves. For they
carry away burning tallow candles in their mouths, and in hastening to
their caves, often set fire to the cottages of the Spanish peasants.
They occasioned us much trouble in the colony of the Rosary. A light was
forced to be kept up at night there on several accounts. When tallow was
not to be had, I used oil expressed from cows' feet for this purpose.
Almost every night the dormice snatched up the iron plate with the
burning wick, in order to suck the oil when it cooled. To restrain their
audacity, it was found necessary to bind the plate of the match to the
lamp with a little brass chain, a weight of iron being added.

A most frequent, and almost annual calamity to Paraguay are the locusts,
which are horrible to the sight and of immense size, being longer than a
man's middle finger. When an infinite swarm of them approaches, a
terrible darkness breaks from the farthest horizon, and you would swear
that a black cloud pregnant with rain, wind, and lightning was drawing
nigh. My Abipones, on such occasions, often snatched up arms, and placed
themselves in battle array; for the locusts, beheld from a distance,
looked like a cloud of dust stirred up by a troop of hostile savages.
Wherever the locusts settle, they deprive the fields of their
productions, the trees of their leaves, the plain of grass, and men and
cattle of food; while the numerous offspring which they leave behind
continue the devastation to another year, and create further misery. The
army of locusts is prevented from flying to the ground, and feeding in
the fields sowed with various kinds of grain, by the sound of drums, the
shouting of voices, the firing of guns, and continual rustling of boughs
in the air; if these methods fail of driving them away, all the men in
the Guarany towns are employed in collecting and killing them. In one
day we have often with pleasure beheld many bushels full of these
insects, and have condemned them either to the fire or the water. The
Abipones had rather eat locusts than drown or burn them; on which
account, as they are flying, they knock them down to the ground with
long sticks, roast them at the fire on the same, or on spits, and devour
them with as much avidity as we do partridges or beccaficos, rejecting
however the males. It has been my intention to treat here of all the
noxious insects that occasion death, disease, or damage: but what a
field should I have, were I also to describe the harmless ones both of
the land and water. Good Heavens! what an abundance is there of flies,
worms, bees, hornets, drones, and grasshoppers! What an immense
diversity of glow-worms, shining here and there by night like stars!
Some, which are about the size of a grass-worm, by moving their wings,
others from their eyes alone, emit a light strong enough for one to read
by. Some glow only behind, others in every part of their bodies. Wood,
reeds, leaves, and roots of plants, when putrefied, scatter at night,
particularly in moist places, a green, red, yellow, or blue radiance,
resembling diamonds, emeralds, chrysolites, rubies, &c. This was a
nightly spectacle to us in the woods between the rivers Acaray̆ and
Monday̆. I carried some rubbish which I had observed to glitter in this
manner, to my town, where it shone as long as it continued moist; when
wetted, it regained its former splendour, which, however, ceased at
last, in spite of fresh supplies of water. I never perceived phosphoric
lights of this nature in any other part of Paraguay. Innumerable
butterflies, of a beautiful variety of colours, adorn the sides of the
rivers and woods, as flowers the meadows; but of these and other
insects, many and accurate accounts have been already written, which are
now in the hands of all. We must return to the Abipones, more
destructive to Paraguay than any insect, who, though looked upon by the
Spaniards in the light of robbers and murderers, do nevertheless profess
themselves warriors and heroes; whether justly or no, I leave to the
arbitration of my readers, to whom I shall proceed to describe their
military discipline and method of warfare.

                            CHAPTER XXXIII.

I am at a loss in what colours to paint the military dispositions of the
Abipones; no word corresponds to the idea which long acquaintance with
these savages has impressed on my mind. That the Abipones are warlike,
prompt, and active, none even of the Spaniards ever doubted, but I
should hesitate to call them valiant and intrepid. Cicero himself
distinguishes an active from a brave man, in these words, 2. Philipp.
_Ut cognosceret te, si minus fortem, attamen strenuum._ It is my purpose
to write the history not the panegyric of the Abipones: I must therefore
be sincere, and declare my real opinion, whatever it be.

Military fame is the principal object of the ambition of the Abipones.
Their whole souls are bent upon arms. They can manage a spear, bow, and
every kind of weapon with great dexterity, and ride on horseback with
peculiar swiftness. No people with greater fortitude endures the
hardships of war, the inclemencies of the sky, want of food, and the
fatigues of travelling. They fearlessly swim across rivers formidable to
sailors and ships. They look upon their wounds without a groan, and with
as much indifference as they would upon those of another person. They
are acquainted with all those arts which every European soldier admires,
but which so very few practise. This alone is unknown to the Abipones,
to despise death, and gain glory by encountering danger. They boast of
martial souls, but are too unwilling to resign their lives. They are
active, but can by no means be called brave, for a brave man would
remain unterrified were the globe itself to fall in ruins, and would
choose either to conquer or die. The Abipones always desire to conquer,
but are never willing to die. They will curse a victory obtained at the
expense of one of their countrymen's lives. They abhor triumphal hymns
if mingled with funeral lamentations, and would reject a victory
accompanied by the sighs of one mourning widow or orphan.

Certainly no one can accuse the Abipones of rashness in venturing their
lives. Their chief adorations are paid to the goddess Security, the
arbitress of their battles, without whose approving sanction they will
never risk an engagement. They carefully avoid a contest of uncertain
issue. They always threaten others, always fear for themselves, and
trust nothing to chance. Before they undertake a warlike expedition,
they carefully consider the nature of the place, the numbers of their
enemies, and the opportunity of the time. Any danger, or the least
suspicion of it, will strike the spear from their hands, and extinguish
all their ardour. Agis, King of Sparta, boasted that his soldiers, in
the heat of war, did not enquire the number and strength of their
antagonists, but where they were, that they might attack and put them to
flight. The Abipones are never hurried into a combat with such blind
impetuosity as this. They proceed cautiously, nor do the trumpets sound
till all things have been diligently examined. When assured of their
safety, they rush on like thunder, imitating now the cunning of
Hannibal, now the delays of Fabius. They know that the daring are
favoured by fortune, but not unless they exercise a sagacious foresight
with regard to dangers. As persons about to cross a threatening river,
try the ford that they may not be carried away by the current; so they
never approach their enemies till after mature deliberation, that they
may secure an unimperilled victory. The timidity of the Americans gives
the name of rashness to what Europeans call courage. They think long and
often upon what is to be done once. They never strike a blow which they
have not previously contemplated, and then it is with a hand trembling
at every noise. They seldom attack openly, but do it in general
unawares. They dare little against the bold who front assailants, and
are accustomed to keep strict watch. They never fear less than when they
perceive themselves the objects of fear. Craft, and the swiftness of
their horses, more than strength, were what gave them the power to
commit so many slaughters. Though you may object to their cowardice, yet
that method of warfare is surely admirable, and agreeable to military
tactics, which enabled them, with no loss, or a very trifling one of
their own soldiers, to return home victorious, laden with the heads of
the Spaniards, and triumphantly displaying crowds of captives, cattle,
and other spoils taken from the enemy. _Hæc ars_, says Vegetius,
_dimicaturis est necessaria, per quam vitam retineant, et victoriam
consequantur_. For this purpose, heroes themselves have used a sword,
and a shield, with the one to offend the enemy, with the other to defend
themselves. Cunning, agility, and the swiftness of their horses, were a
shield, nay, better than any shield, to the Abipones. If they see one or
two of their fellow-soldiers fall, they immediately fly. When
straitened, and deprived of all means of escape, fear is converted into
rage, and they fight with the utmost obstinacy. I shall now proceed to
treat of their arms, scouts, councils of war, military provisions,
hostile expeditions, various modes of fighting, customs on obtaining a
victory, and lastly, of the slaughters committed by them in every part
of the province.

                             CHAPTER XXXIV.
                      OF THE ARMS OF THE ABIPONES.

No man can obtain celebrity amongst the Abipones except by warlike
prowess. Hence to have their arms properly made, in good order, and
ready when needed, is their chief care. To defend themselves, and offend
their enemies, they principally make use of the bow and spear. Their
native soil produces a kind of wood not to be met with in any other part
of Paraguay, called _neterge_, which is of a red colour while fresh, and
as hard as steel. They cleave this tree, cut out an oblong piece of
wood, and shape it with a knife or a sharp stone. You would think it had
been made by a turner. To straighten it they heat it every now and then
by fire, and twirl it about between two logs of wood. By this method the
Abipones make spears scarce smaller than the Macedonian pikes; for they
are more than five or six ells in length, pointed at both ends, that if
one end gets blunt, the other may still be of service, and also for the
convenience of sticking the spear into the ground when they pass the
night in the plain. Formerly when they were unacquainted with the very
name of iron, they fought with wooden spears, fixing a cow's or stag's
horn to the end of them by way of a point. But when the Abipones
obtained iron points from the Spaniards, they dexterously inserted them
into their spears, and used them to slaughter those from whom they had
received them. When going to fight they grease the point of the spear
with tallow, that it may enter more readily and deeper into the flesh.
We have sometimes seen spears four palms deep in hostile blood, with
such force had the Abipones driven them into the sides of the savages
who attacked our colony. As their tents and huts are in general rather
low, they fix their spears at the threshold of the door to have them
always in readiness. By the number of spears you may know the number of
warriors which the horde contains. As European generals, to conceal the
scanty number of their forces, and to supply the want of warlike
instruments, have sometimes placed machines of painted wood, on mounds,
to frighten their more numerous adversary; we, in like manner, availing
ourselves of the same species of cunning, fixed spears hastily made of
reeds or wood, in the houses of the absent Abipones; deluded by which
the enemies' scouts reported to their countrymen that the town was full
of defenders. The Abipones are commendable not only for their skill in
making their weapons, but also for their assiduity, in cleaning and
polishing them. The points of their spears always shine like silver. I
was often ashamed for the Spaniards, when I saw them furnished with
mean, dirty, and incommodious arms, in the presence of the Abipones, who
ridiculed their poverty and laziness. Most of them make use of a reed, a
rude stake, a knotty club, the bough of a tree, or a twisted piece of
wood, with a broken sword or knife tied to the end of it. The richer
sort have guns, but generally bad ones, fitter to terrify than to slay
the enemy; and moreover, you will find few able to handle them properly.
Remember that I am speaking of the Spanish husbandmen who are ordered to
fight against the savages; for you never see the regular troops without
the cities of Buenos-Ayres and Monte-Video.

Bows as well as spears are made of the neterge. They are equal to a
man's stature in length. When unbent, they are like a very straight
stick, not being curved like the bows of the Turks and Tartars. The
string of the bow is generally made of the entrails of foxes, or of very
strong threads supplied by a species of palm. When about to shoot off
their arrows, that they may be able to bend the cord forcibly without
hurting their hands, they wear a kind of wooden gauntlet. The quiver is
made of rushes, and adorned with woollen threads of various colours. The
arrows, which are an ell and a palm in length, consist of a reed, to
which a sharp point of bone, very hard wood, or iron is prefixed. Wooden
points are more formidable than iron ones, but those of bone, which are
made of a fox's leg, are the most to be dreaded of all; for they break
in being extracted, and the part remaining in the body causes a
swelling, and a very virulent ulcer, which leaves the wounded person no
rest. Any wood, from being imbued with a kind of native poison, causes
more pain and tumour than iron. The Abipones never poison their arrows,
as is usual amongst many other people of America. The Chiquitos are
dreaded by the neighbouring savages on this account, that if an arrow of
theirs wound the outermost skin, and bring the least drop of blood, all
the limbs will swell, and in the course of a few hours death will ensue.
The deadly poison in which they dip their arrows, the Chiquitos, alone
know how to prepare from the bark of an unknown tree, and to this day
they reserve to themselves the knowledge of the cruel mystery. In
hunting too they kill wild animals with arrows dipped in the same
poison, and cutting out the wounded part of the body, eat them with
safety, like the Guaranies, who fear not to feed on oxen stung to death
by serpents, rejecting that part only which has been infected by the
animal's tooth. Father Gumilla relates that the savages of the Orinoco
prepare a most fatal poison to dip their arrows in.

The feathers which expedite the flight of the arrows are taken from the
wings of crows, so that when the Abipones went out to shoot these birds
we guessed that war was at hand. Each feather is tied on both sides, to
the extremity of the reed, by a fibre of very slender thread. The
Vilelas excite the admiration of all Paraguay by their skill in archery.
They dexterously fasten the feathers to the arrow with a glue made from
the bladder of the fish vagre, inserting the point very lightly into the
reed; an artifice which renders their arrows extremely dangerous,
because whilst the reed is extracted the point remains sticking in the
flesh. The Guaranies, less curious in these matters, apply the feathers
of parrots, or other birds, to their arrows. When more than four hundred
shoot at a mark, at the same moment, and they go to gather them up, each
knows his own by the colour of the feathers. Every nation, in short, has
a peculiar fashion in forming bows and arrows. The shorter are more
dangerous than the longer ones, inasmuch as they are more difficult to
be seen and avoided; but the longer have the advantage of going to a
greater distance, and striking with more force. It is certain that the
Abipones are very skilful archers: they are accustomed to the bow from
children, and even in infancy can shoot little birds on the wing. In
sportive contests, when a reward was proposed to each of the winners, a
citron placed at a considerable distance served for a mark. Considering
the number of archers, very few missed their aim, to the astonishment of
the Spaniards who witnessed such dexterity. The Guaranies are also
reckoned very expert in this art.

The Abipones have a great variety of arrows. Some are longer and
thicker, as being intended to kill larger beasts. The form of the points
is also various. Some are plain and have a straight point; some are
barbed either on one or both sides, and others armed with a double row
of barbs. You can never extract an arrow of this kind from the flesh,
unless you turn it about with both hands, by which means you will open a
way to extricate the barbs, but with what pain! When the Abipones see
the remains of an arrow occupying any fleshy part of the body, as the
thigh, or arm, they cut out the piece of flesh with the inherent
particle themselves. The Cacique Ychoalay, in a sharp contest with his
rival Oaherkaikin, was dangerously wounded with a bone arrow, which
stuck in the back part of his head, and breaking in being extracted,
remained fixed there as firm as a nail. At our advice he visited Sta.
Fè, to obtain the aid of a surgeon, who found it necessary to make an
incision before he could lay hold of the bony arrow point with his
forceps. The operation was successfully performed, but not without
severe pain, which the Indian bore with the utmost fortitude, not
allowing a single expression of pain to escape him; he even exhorted the
surgeon, who, unwilling to inflict so much torture, was hesitating in
his task, to proceed; "Do you see me shrink?" said he: "fear nothing, I
beseech you; cut, pierce, do what ever you like with confidence. I have
long been accustomed to pain, wounded as I have so often been with
different weapons." At length when the bony point was extracted, such a
quantity of blood gushed out, you would have thought an artery had been
opened. The Indian beheld this with a calm countenance, and thanked his
deliverer in the best terms he was master of.

Before entering a battle, they lay aside their finest arrows to be
employed on the blow which they think of most importance, generally
having one of tried virtue in readiness to defend themselves in urgent
peril, or to slay some one whose death they particularly desire. When
they wish not to kill, but to take alive, birds and other small animals,
they use arrows furnished with a little ball of wood or wax, instead of
a point: with this they stun and knock down the animal, but do not kill
it. Whenever they are unable to direct the weapon straight to the mark,
on account of some intervening obstacle, they shoot it archwise, giving
it a curved direction, in the same manner as in besieging camps, balls
of fire are cast from mortars. The Abipones stand in no need of these to
set fire to houses; for they fasten burning cotton or tow to the ends of
their arrows, and casting them against roofs of wood or straw, set fire
to whatever they like, from ever so great a distance. Many towns of the
Spaniards were reduced to ashes by this fatal artifice. In the town of
the Rosary, I had the thatch of my house plastered over with thick mud
to protect it from the flames cast by the arrows of the neighbouring
savages. With the same view, I covered a wooden observatory, constructed
for the purpose of watching the motions of the savages, with hides; nor
did the contrivance disappoint my hopes.

The spear and the bow, though the chief arms of the Abipones, are not
the only ones. They have a weapon composed of three stone balls, covered
with leather, and fastened together by as many thongs meeting in one:
this they whirl round, and then cast, with a sure aim, at men and
beasts; by which means they are either killed or so noosed, as to
prevent them from moving. This formidable weapon, which the Spaniards
call _las bolas_, is much used by the southern savages. The lower orders
of Spaniards, and all the Indians and Negroes, whenever they ride out
are constantly seen with these balls hanging at their saddle or girth;
indeed they are in very general use. I have spoken at large in the
seventh chapter, of the wooden club _macana_, which they use at home for
amusement, and abroad for killing men and beasts. The sling, in the use
of which the Guaranies are so expert, is thought little of by the
Abipones; amongst them it is only used by boys to knock down small birds
with. They have a bow which, instead of a string, is furnished with a
piece of cloth, three inches wide, and made of a material very like
hemp; stretching this with the hand, they shoot off small clay balls,
instead of arrows, to kill birds and other small animals. That wooden
tube from which little balls or nails, furnished with silken or linen
threads to aid their flight, are blown by the mouth, is unknown to the
Abipones, but I am informed that it is used by certain Peruvian Indians
dwelling amongst the Moxos and Baures. These people, not being provided
with iron nails, put thick thorns imbued with a poisonous juice into a
wooden tube, and blowing hard into it, aim them against wild beasts, and
their enemies, by which means they slay them with impunity.

The Abipones are unacquainted with shields and targets, but they cover
greatest part of their bodies with a sort of defence, made of an
undressed anta's hide, a tiger's skin being sewed either in the in or
outside; it is open in the middle, that the head may come through, and
extended on each side as far as the elbows and middle; it is
impenetrable to common arrows, but not to spears and bullets, though it
somewhat diminishes their force. To this coat of mail they added a girth
wider than a man's hand, of the dressed hide of the same animal, when
they saw their leader Debayakaikin wounded in the belly with a spear.
They make use of this armour when they have to fight with the other
Indians. Most of them, however, expose their bodies entirely naked to
the weapons of their enemies, and seem the more secure, as they are more
expeditious in avoiding the fatal blow. For the weight and hardness of
such armour prevents that agility, which, in their method of fighting,
is of such importance to their safety, as much as its thickness protects
the body. When they engage with the Spaniards they neglect their bow and
wooden breastplates, which would be of little service against leaden
bullets. In a strong spear, a swift horse, and a crafty ambuscade, they
then place all their hopes of victory, and seldom engage on foot, unless
absolutely obliged. They had rather combat the enemy from a distance,
than close at hand, when they fear for their lives. They oftener kill
piecemeal than with downright blows. Though the major part have either
purchased swords from the Spaniards, or taken them in war, they seldom
make use of them in skirmishing.

                             CHAPTER XXXV.

Their method of warfare varies according to the adversaries they have to
deal with. They adopt one mode of fighting against the Spaniards,
another against savages like themselves. This, however, may be observed
in general, that they are never precipitate in taking up arms against
any one, nor ever hazard an attack unless confident of victory; though,
like European generals, they are often deceived. Where they had looked
for laurels, they reap deadly cypresses—they go out to seek wool, and
return home shorn themselves. The fortune of war is always uncertain.
After having determined upon a hostile expedition, they usually send out
scouts to discover which way they are to go, and at what place begin the
attack; to learn every particular respecting the number of their
neighbours who might send supplies to their adversaries, and concerning
the access to houses; carefully to examine the situation most convenient
for an ambuscade, the places by which they might approach undiscovered,
and whither, if need required, they might betake themselves for safety,
together with the pastures of cattle, the number of guards, and other
particulars of that kind. And so cunningly do these emissaries discharge
their office, that they contrive to see all things, and be seen by none.

Leaving their horses for a while, either on the inaccessible bank of a
river, or in the recesses of the woods, that they may not be betrayed by
their means, they crawl along on their hands and feet, and lurking
amongst boughs and bushes observe all things, both at a distance and
close at hand. Concealed by the shades of night, they sometimes approach
the very houses of the Spaniards, and listening, catch part of the
conversation of the persons within; those even that are ignorant of the
Spanish tongue, can at least discover, from the tone of the voices,
whether the house contain more men or women. That their footsteps may
not betray them, they fasten pieces of skin to their feet, by which
artifice the marks of human tread are either disguised or destroyed. To
obtain a view of distant objects, they frequently climb trees, or stand
upright on their horses' backs. They generally send out two or three of
these scouts, who separate at night, one taking one road, one another,
first fixing upon a time and place to meet together again. That they may
be able with the more certainty to keep their appointment, they imitate
the voice of some bird or beast, as agreed upon beforehand, from which
one may know and discover the other. But this artifice must be warily
adopted; for if at night-time they imitate the note of a bird which is
only heard by day, the Spaniards know it to be uttered by the scouts of
the savages, and by timely cautions elude the hostile attack. Often one
companion signifies to another that he has arrived beforehand by broken
boughs of trees, or high grass knotted in various ways. None perform the
office of spy with more success than those Abipones who in their
childhood have been taken in war, and bred up by the Spaniards, and who
have returned to their countrymen when grown up; for, besides that they
are actuated by a stronger hatred to the Spaniards, and a keener thirst
for vengeance, from their acquaintance with places, and with the Spanish
tongue, they dwell for a time with impunity in the Spanish towns, and as
they use the same dress and language, are universally taken for
Spaniards. Secure by this artifice, even in mid-day, and in the public
market-place, they survey every thing, and enquire about whatever it is
their interest to know; learn what military men are absent, or preparing
for departure; what waggons are laden with merchandise, and whither they
are bound, so that they are afterwards easily plundered by the savages
in those immense deserts; not one of the waggoners or guards being able
to prevent the slaughter, as men of this description are in general but
ill provided with arms, and still worse with courage.

The scouts, after having finished their journey and made an accurate
report to their employers of all they have seen and heard, a council of
war, and at the same time a drinking-party is appointed; for the
Abipones think themselves ill fitted for deliberation with dry lips. The
Cacique, the promoter of the expedition, in the course of the drinking,
delivers his opinion on the affair, and enquires that of the rest. He
animates his companions to carry on the thing with vigour, either by the
example of their ancestors, or by the hope of glory or booty. Repeated
draughts inflame both the bodies and minds of the drinkers: for the meed
which they make of honey, or the alfaroba, immediately disorders the
brain, like the strongest wine, an effect which is powerfully increased
by the shouts of the intoxicated, by singing, and the noise of drums and
gourds. The heroic deeds of their ancestors, and former victories, are
generally the subjects of these savage songs. The spectacle is as
ridiculous as it is possible to conceive. In every one of the Abipones,
you would behold a thunderbolt of war. Each thinks himself a Hector, an
Epaminondas, a Hannibal; and such they might be believed by all who
beheld their faces covered with blood-red stains to render them more
terrific, their arms and breasts full of scars, and their threatening
eyes, and who listened to their ferocious and slaughter-breathing words.
But could we look into their breasts, we should perceive that they were
different within from what they appeared without. We should discover a
shell without a kernel, an ass in a lion's skin, an ignis fatuus under
thundering words, and vain rage unsupported by strength. Though, no
longer masters of themselves, they crawl on the ground in a state of
intoxication, at your bidding they will climb to Heaven itself, they
will tear away the hinges of the globe, and had all the human race but
one neck, like Caligula, they would end it at a blow. Were they as
courageous in battle, as vaunting in their cups, they would long since
have extinguished the race of Spaniards in Paraguay. But as some one has
observed, drunken bullies are better trumpeters than soldiers. They are
all empty sound. Amidst their cups and their songs they are bold as
lions, but in battle more cowardly than hares.

Whenever an Abipon dies by the hand of an enemy, the nearest relation of
the deceased takes upon him to avenge his death. It is his business to
invite his countrymen and hordesmen, or even the inhabitants of another
horde, to join their arms with his, to lead them against the enemy, and,
when the attack is made, to go first into battle. As they lend
assistance to friendly nations, they seek it in turn from them, either
when they are preparing for war, or when they apprehend it from others
whom they deem themselves unequal to contend with alone. But, as Europe
so often experiences, little confidence is to be placed in auxiliary
forces. The friendship of the Indians is notoriously fickle and
unsteady; for, as they enter into alliance merely with a view to their
own advantage, they will suddenly turn their backs on their greatest
friends, should the hope of the smallest emolument preponderate.

                             CHAPTER XXXVI.
                            OF THE ABIPONES.

It is a remarkable circumstance that the military expeditions which they
conclude upon when intoxicated, they faithfully execute, at the
appointed time, when sober. Not only are they destitute of almanacs,
they even have no names for the days and months. They know, however,
without the danger of mistake, on what day the moon will begin, when it
will be at full, and when it will be on the wane. They use these changes
of the moon as a measure of time to determine expeditions, so that
though distant many days' journey the parties assemble at the appointed
day, and even meet at the very precise hour that had been agreed upon.
For though they have no names for the hours, and no machine to point
them out, they supply these deficiencies by their fingers, with which
they point to that part of the sky which the sun or moon or some nightly
star will occupy at the period of meeting. When the moon is on the wane,
they generally judge it a fit time for a journey, that they may set out
under the cover of darkness, and incur less risk of detection: on their
return, if they are obliged to make it in haste, they wish that luminary
to be on the increase. They generally begin a journey about mid-day, and
in different companies, meeting together in the evening at some
appointed place.

A European prince, when about to engage in a war, wants more than lead
and iron: he stands in need of gold and silver wherewith to procure
provisions, and pay his troops. The chieftain of the Abipones has no
care of this kind: every one of his soldiers is furnished with plenty of
horses, a formidable spear, a bow, and a bundle of arrows. These are
their only instruments of war. The severed heads of the Spaniards,
thousands of horses and mules taken from their estates, children torn
from their mothers' bosoms, and the glory derived from these, serve both
for the rewards and trophies of the fighting Abipones. Though the colony
which they purpose to attack be more than two hundred leagues distant,
they each drive but two horses before them, and ride upon a third. They
do not judge it expedient to begin a journey laden with provisions. They
carry nothing either for meat or drink. Formerly they are said to have
had roasted rabbits for provisions, but that was when they were less
exercised in hunting, being unprovided with horses. Now the Abipones
kill any animal they meet for food, with the spear they carry in their
hands. That each may hunt more expeditiously, and obtain more booty,
they separate their ranks, unless suspicious of the enemy's being close
upon them, and disperse themselves over the plain, afterwards assembling
to pass the night or mid-day together. For they know what situations
afford the best opportunities of getting wood and water, and where they
may safely lurk without fear of secret hostilities.

They think gourds and horns, which are used for flaggons and
drinking-cups in Paraguay, a superfluous burden: for they can either
take up water in the hollow of their hands, or stoop, and drink it like
dogs. Pools and deep rivers are often at hand, but their salt and bitter
waters are fitter to torture the stomach, than quench the thirst. They
consider an iron knife, and a pebble to sharpen it, necessary
instruments on a journey; as also two sticks, by the mutual attrition of
which they can elicit fire even while sitting on horseback. Of these
trifles consists the whole furniture of the Abipones, happy in being
able to dispense with all that luggage and those waggons which in Europe
are justly called the impediments of the army, and leeches of the
treasury. Our Abipones pass the day and night in the open air, and are
either parched with heat, or drenched with rain of many days'
continuance. They expose their bare heads to the burning sun; they strip
their shoulders, breasts, and arms of the garment of sheep's or otters'
skins, and had rather endure the stings of gnats, than the perspiration
caused by the fervid heat of the air. A turf is their bed at night, a
saddle their pillow, and the sky their covering. Every one waits upon
himself, nor does the leader employ any one else to prepare his food, or
saddle his horse. If they have to cross wide rivers or vast lakes, they
need neither bridge nor boat. When it is no longer fordable they leap
from their horses into the water, strip themselves, hold up their
clothes at the end of their spear in the left hand, and using the right,
with which they grasp the reins of their horse, for an oar, struggle to
the opposite bank.

In the commencement of a journey they daily send out scouts in all
directions, who, if they discover any traces of a foreign nation or any
mark of hostile designs, immediately announce it to their
fellow-soldiers. They generally choose a situation to pass the night in,
which, being guarded behind, and on both sides by a lake, river, or
thick wood, renders access difficult; where they cannot be surrounded on
a sudden; and where a few can repel or elude the attacks of a great
many. They lie down in a semicircular form. Each has his spear fixed at
his head, and four or five keep up a fire burning in the midst, unless
fear of the enemy obliges them to refrain from this comfort, lest the
blaze or the smoke should betray them: though on some occasions, it was
of use to multiply fires, in order to deceive the enemy; for from the
number of them the number of men passing the night thereabout is usually
argued. By this artifice Cortez is said to have imposed upon the
Mexicans. Whilst some are indulging in sleep, others, appointed to keep
watch, scour the plain on horseback, both for the purpose of bringing
back the scattered horses, and, on the approach of danger of admonishing
their sleepy comrades by sound of trumpet. I have been astonished to see
with what activity and fidelity they performed all the offices of
watchmen in our colonies. Whole nights have they spent in riding up and
down the plains adjacent to the town, even in very boisterous weather,
whenever the slightest rumours were spread of the approach of the enemy.
By the nightly sound of horns and trumpets they signified that they were
on the alert, and, by showing the enemy that their intentions were
discovered, prevented them from making the attack: for it is usual with
the savages never to attempt any thing except against the unprepared.
During the whole seven years that I spent amongst the Abipones, I
regularly found that whenever we passed sleepless nights in arms, for
fear of an enemy, not so much as the shadow of one ever approached; and
that when none of us suspected any thing hostile, a formidable swarm of
savages fell upon our colony. An enemy is never more to be dreaded than
when he is feared the least.

                            CHAPTER XXXVII.

Highly to be admired are the anxious precautions with which they precede
an attack. They minutely premeditate whatever is likely to befall them.
That they may not be deceived in their opinions, they make one of their
jugglers the ruler of the expedition, whom, as endued with the knowledge
of things future and absent, they consult on all occasions, and, madly
credulous, revere as the Delphic Apollo. Should the event prove contrary
to the juggler's predictions, not one of them will blame or even
distrust him. Though he were to commit blunders every day, he would
still carry home a considerable portion of the spoils, the reward of his
mendacity. If an attack is to be made next day, they contemplate the
situation of affairs in every point of view, nor ever apply their minds
to the execution of a project, till convinced of its being devoid of
danger. They leave the drove of superfluous horses with persons to guard
them, in a place out of sight. They stain their faces with various
colours, to excite terror, and for the same purpose some wear a crown of
parrots' feathers, others a red cap sparkling with beads of glass, or
snails' shells, and others again place an enormous vulture's wing on
their heads. I knew an Abipon who wore the skin of a stag's head,
branching with horns, by way of a helmet, whenever he was going to
fight, and another who tied the beak of a tuncà to his nose before he
entered into an engagement. I always observed that those persons who
were most solicitous about rendering their persons terrible to others,
had the least courage themselves. The most intrepid, neglecting these
precautions, await the weapons of the enemy quite undefended, though
they always paint their faces. All sit half naked on the bare back of
the best horse they possess, and, in place of a bridle, use a thong
fastened to the animal's jaws. They throw away all heavy things, and
whatever may retard the speed of the horse, that they may be able to
make or avoid an attack with more celerity.

The most favourable time for an assault, in their apprehension, is
either the beginning or end of the day, when there is just light
sufficient to enable them to distinguish all objects. For at dawn or
twilight they find more men at home to slay, and those oppressed with
sleep: whereas in the day they are generally absent on business. But as
the morning or evening have generally been chosen for committing
slaughters, the Spaniards began to account those times dangerous, and by
vigilant care to defeat the machinations of the savages. Perceiving
which, the Abipones thought proper to depart from their usual custom,
and often fell upon us at noon, when we were suspecting nothing of the
matter. The Mocobios and Tobas followed their example, so that, in the
Abiponian colonies, we could reckon no part of the day secure from
hostile designs. They scarcely ever venture to make an attack at night,
however, for in dark places they fear that some person may be concealed
to kill them. Entering my apartment to pay me a friendly visit, when it
happened to be destitute of light, they were immediately alarmed, and
fearfully exclaimed, _Kemen nenegin greërigi!_ How black your house is!
But they are not afraid of the dark in the open plain, when they want to
drive away horses, watch, explore the country, or do any thing else
there. It is peculiar to the Guaycurùs to break into the colonies and
commit their ravages by night; they secretly send forward some of their
people to pluck up the stakes fixed in the ground for the security of
the place, that the rest of the company may obtain access while the
inhabitants are fast asleep, and dreaming of any thing but the impending
slaughter. It is on this account that the Guaycurù nation has been so
universally formidable. Moreover, the Abipones do not always conduct
their assaults in the same manner. If a colony of Christians is to be
attacked, they approach secretly by some unknown way, and without noise.
They block up all the ways with many rows of horse, that no place of
escape may be left to the inhabitants. Others on foot break open the
doors of houses; but if they judge this perilous they set fire to the
buildings from a distance by shooting arrows headed with burning cotton
or tow against them, and if the roofs be covered with straw or any
material of that kind, they immediately burn, and wrap the inhabitants
in flames; thus, all who rush out are slain by the savages, and all who
remain within are burnt to death; and it is as certain as it is
incredible, that the weapons of the savages are more dreaded than the
fire. In the town of Iago Sanchez, near Corrientes, a church, with the
priest officiating at the altar, some Indian women and children, and a
few men, was burnt to ashes. At other times the Abipones, having slain
or captivated all the inhabitants, carry off whatever may be of service
to them; they even take away many things, with the use of which they are
unacquainted, that the Christians may derive no benefit from them,
though they soon after break them to pieces, or throw them into some

Whenever the Abipones think fit to attack the bands of the Spaniards,
they rush upon them on their horses, not in close ranks, like the
Europeans, but in various parties, so that they can attack their
adversaries at once in front, behind, and on both sides, and extending
their spears above their horses' heads, kill all they meet. They strike
a blow, but that they may not receive one in turn, leap back as quick as
they came, and presently resuming courage, return again and again into
the ranks. Every one is his own leader; every one follows his own
impulse. They can turn their horses round in various circles, with the
utmost swiftness, having them wonderfully under their command. They can
suspend their bodies from the horse's back, and twist them about like a
tumbler, or, to prevent themselves from being wounded, conceal them
entirely under the horse's belly. It is by this art chiefly that they
escape the leaden bullets of the Spaniards; for by continually changing
their position, they deceive and weary the eye of him that is taking aim
at them with a gun. They condemn the stationary fighting of the European
soldier, and call it madness in a man to stand and expose his breast as
a mark to the flying balls. They boast that their quickness in
assaulting and evading the blow, is the most useful part of the art of
war. Whoever is aware of the volubility of the savages, will never fire
till quite sure of hitting them; for after hearing a harmless report,
without seeing any of their comrades fall, they will cast away their
dread of European arms, and grow more daring than ever; but as long as
they see you threatening them with a gun, they will continue to fear,
more anxious to save themselves than to kill others.

The examples of our own age show that rashness in firing has been the
destruction of many,—circumspect and provident delay the salvation of no
fewer. It may be as well to give a few instances of this. In the
territory of St. Iago del Estero, about dawn a troop of Abiponian horse
descended from a steep and precipitous rock, and attacked a town of the
Spaniards, called Las Barrancas; nor was it any difficult matter for
them to slay the sleeping inhabitants. The Captain, Hilario, awakened by
the yelling of the savages, and the groans of the dying, occupied the
threshold of his house, keeping a gun always pointed at the enemies. Not
one of them dared approach him. By this threatening action alone, he
preserved himself and his little daughter alive amidst the deaths of so
many of his neighbours. Another Spaniard, in the territory of
Corrientes, seeing the court-yard of his house, which was but slightly
fortified with stakes, surrounded by Abipones, turned his gun, perhaps
not loaded, towards them, threatening first one, then another, by turns.
This was more than sufficient to frustrate the intended assault of the
Abipones. I knew a captain named Gorosito, who did much service amongst
the soldiers of St. Iago. He made use of a gun from which you could not
expect a single spark of fire, and on being asked why he did not have it
repaired, replied that he thought that unnecessary. "It is sufficient,"
said he, "to show even a useless gun to the savages, who, not knowing it
to be defective, are terrified at the very sight of it. Furnished with
this gun, I have gained not only security, but glory, in many
skirmishes." But I have no occasion for the testimonies and experience
of others, having myself so often frightened away troops of assaulting
savages, armed with a gun which I never once fired.

On the other hand, how dangerous a thing it is to fire guns
inconsiderately, we have often found on various occasions, but above all
in a new Indian colony, where a few garrison soldiers guarded the
borders of Tucuman, on account of the frequent incursions of the
savages. This little town, the rebellious Mataguayos attacked about
evening with all sorts of weapons. The soldiers, seized with a sudden
trepidation, discharged all the fire-arms they could lay hands on at the
savage band, but to their own injury, not that of the enemy, who,
leaving their adversaries no time to load afresh, set fire to the houses
with arrows headed with burning tow, and pierced the soldiers, who fled
from thence into the court-yard, with barbed darts. Two Jesuit priests,
who officiated there, Fathers Francisco Ugalde and Romano Harto, whilst
attending to the salvation of the dying soldiers, underwent the fury of
the savages within the palisadoes of the house. The first was mortally
wounded with arrows, and buried in the ruins of the burning chapel,
where he was entirely reduced to ashes, one little bone alone remaining,
to which funeral honours were afterwards paid elsewhere. That his soul
was received into Heaven is the opinion of all who are acquainted with
his exceeding piety and mild integrity of conduct. Father Romano Harto,
his companion, though wounded with two arrows which pierced deep into
his side, crept under cover of night from the palings of his house into
a neighbouring wood, and escaped the eyes and murderous hands of the
savages. Weltering in blood, and tortured by the pain of his wounds and
the burning thirst it occasioned, he passed the night out, of doors
amongst the trees, during a furious tempest of rain, wind, and thunder.
No one was at hand to lend him any aid. At day-break, crawling out into
the plain, by God's mercy he espied a soldier who had fled from the
massacre of the day before, and who carried him on his horse to the
Spaniards at a very great distance, where he was completely healed.
What, let me ask, was the occasion of so many deaths, and of so tragic
an event? The unseasonable haste of a few soldiers in discharging their
guns. The empty noise struck the air alone, and gave such courage to the
Indians, that, laying aside fear, they rushed on more boldly, and denied
the Spaniards the necessary time for loading their guns afresh. It was
said, moreover, that many were destitute of gunpowder, and all certainly
were so of courage, panic-struck at the sudden arrival of the savages,
the burning of the houses, and the sight of so many deaths. The assaults
of the savages must be repelled promptly but providently. Arms must be
immediately resorted to, but something must always be reserved for the
sudden chances of war: as the Indians, intent upon every opportunity of
committing mischief, easily overcome the unarmed or those that manage
arms unskilfully. Thus, if thirty artillery soldiers should undertake
the defence of a station, they ought to be divided into three ranks, so
that ten might fire their guns upon the enemy, ten load, and the others
reserve an equal number loaded. By which means they would always have
time to load their guns, and the Indians would never want cause for
fear. By the careful observance of this method, thirty artillery
soldiers might be found sufficient to rout and put to flight three
hundred Americans. But if three hundred artillery-men were to fire all
their guns at once, without killing any of the enemy, they, on the other
hand, might be overcome by thirty savages. For the Abipones, like most
of the Americans, are intimidated by the most trifling slaughter of
their companions: if but one or two of them fall, the rest instantly
take to flight, esteeming life far above the honour of victory. How
comes it then that they are so dreaded by other nations? I will explain
this in the next chapter.

                            CHAPTER XXXVIII.

Naturally fearful, they render themselves formidable by art. They make
up for the want of native bravery by the noise of their trumpets, the
craftiness of their ambuscades, by their astonishing swiftness, their
painted faces, and many-coloured plumes. They adorn their heads with
feathers of various birds, either erected like a crest, or bearing the
appearance of a crown. They paint their faces sometimes white or red,
but more commonly black. Soot, scraped from pans and kettles, is
generally used for this purpose. In travelling, when soot is not to be
got, they make a fire, and use its smoke and ashes to paint themselves
with. The fruit of the tree Urucuy̆ furnishes them with materials for a
red paint: but on sudden occasions they prick their tongues with a
thorn, and daub their faces with the blood that flows plenteously from
the wound. They do not all paint in the same pattern. Some darken the
forehead only, some one cheek, and some both. Some streak the whole face
with spiral lines; others only make two circles round the eyes; and
others again blacken the whole of the face. This custom is common to
many other nations of Paraguay, especially the equestrian ones.

The Abipones render themselves formidable to the eyes, as well as to the
ears of their enemies; for they prelude every battle with trumpets,
flutes, horns, and clarions, differing in sound, materials, and form.
The horn instruments bellow, the wooden ones clatter, and those of bone,
which are made of the leg of some large bird or quadruped, emit a very
shrill whistle, while those of reeds have a ridiculous creaking sound.
Others again, consisting of the tail of the armadillo, to which a reed
is prefixed, fill the whole air, to a great distance, with a horrible
roaring. I want words to describe the construction and use of all the
different trumpets. This is very certain, that the Abipones have more
trumpeters than soldiers in their armies. These terrible-sounding
instruments they accompany with a savage howl, made by striking their
lips with their hands. When rushing to battle they cry aloud, _Laharàlk!
Laharàlk!_ Let us go, let us go; as the Guaranies say, _Yahà! Yahà!_ and
the Mocobios, _Zokolák! Zokolák!_ Whilst the Abipones are in battle,
they carry their eyes to every side of the field, to aim, or avoid
weapons, and with a hoarse and tremulous voice threateningly repeat
_Hò-Hò-Hò_, by which they endeavour to provoke the enemy, and excite
themselves to anger. In European camps also, trumpets, pipes, and drums
are doubtless used to animate and govern the army, and to inspire fear
into the enemy. But no one will deny that more victories have been
gained by silence than by noise. Would that the Spaniards of Paraguay
would bear this in mind! for they, like the savages, begin the attack
with loud vociferations. Barreda, General of the St. Iagans, often
complained to me that he could never induce his soldiers to refrain from
shouting when they attacked the hordes of the savages, and to approach
them in silence and by stealth, that being caught unawares, they might
be prevented from taking either to flight or arms.

It is much to be lamented that the terrific appearance and horrid
clamours of the savages are dreaded so greatly by the Spanish countrymen
of Paraguay. We have often seen not only their ears and eyes struck, but
their minds disturbed to such a degree, that losing all self-possession,
they thought no longer of methods whereby to repel force by force, but
eagerly watched for an opportunity of flight to provide for their lives,
though not for their fame or security: for the savages grow more daring
the more they are feared and fled from. In the towns themselves how
often has a trepidation arisen, when the inhabitants, frequently from
mere report alone, understood that the Abipones, rendered terrible by
their blackened faces and their whole accoutrement, were flying thither
on swift horses, shouting to the deadly sound of trumpets, brandishing
an enormous spear in their right hands, laden with bundles of arrows,
breathing fire and slaughter, and with their ferocious eyes threatening
an hundred deaths, captivity, and wounds. You might have seen crowds
pacing up and down, and lamenting approaching death, before they had
even from a distance beheld the enemy from whom they were to receive it.
Not only the unwarlike sex, but men distinguished with military titles,
flew to the stone churches, and to the most hidden retreats; while, had
they dared to show their faces, and present a gun to the enemy, the
savages would easily have been put to flight, and their panic terror
would have ended in laughter. Not many years ago it was reported one
Sunday afternoon in the city of Buenos Ayres, that a numerous company of
Southern savages had rushed into some street of the city. The fear
excited by this false rumour so occupied the minds of all, that they ran
up and down the streets almost distracted, uttering the most mournful
cries. In hurrying to a place of more security, one lost his wig,
another his hat or cloak, from the violence of his haste. Meantime the
garrison troops, who had been sent to search the whole city, announced
that not a shadow or vestige of the enemy was to be found; tidings which
restored serenity to the disturbed minds of the inhabitants, and filled
them with shame for their foolish alarm. Scenes of this kind were
extremely frequent in the cities of Sta. Fè, Cordoba, Asumpcion, Salta,
&c. whilst the savages were overrunning the province with impunity. A
ridiculous event that took place in the city of Corrientes is peculiarly
worthy of relation. About evening a report was spread that a troop of
Abipones had burst into one of the streets, and was employed in
slaughtering the inhabitants. Upon this news numbers crowded to the
church, which was furnished with strong stone walls. The head captain
himself, an old man, mingled with the crowd of lamenting females, and
gave himself up to groans and prayers. "Here, here," said he, "in the
house of the Lord, and in the presence of Jesus Christ, must we die."
Indignant at words so unbecoming a soldier, the secular priest, a brave
man in the prime of his years, exclaimed as he arrived, "I swear by
Christ that we shall not die. The enemies must be sought and slain." So
saying he leapt upon a horse, and armed with a gun hastened to succour
that part of the city where the enemies were said to be raging. But lo
and behold! when he arrives there, he finds the inhabitants all sound
asleep, not even dreaming of the Abipones! Such was the terror excited
in the Paraguayrians, not merely by the figures and presence of the
Abipones, but by the very report of them.

Two things which long experience has taught me, I greatly wish impressed
on the minds of all. The first is, that the Indians are never less to be
dreaded than when they present themselves most terrible, and with the
greatest noise. For all that frightful preparation only betrays the
fears of the savages. Distrusting their courage, strength, and arms,
they think that paint of various colours, feathers, shouting, trumpets,
and other instruments of terror, will forward their success. But any one
with a very moderate share of courage, and stock of armour, will despise
all this as unworthy of fear. This is my first maxim. My second is, that
the Indians are never more to be feared than when they seem most afraid.
They sometimes lurk concealed, uttering no sound, and giving no
intimation of their presence; but this silence is as sure a prognostic
of an attack, as a calm is, in the ocean, of an impending storm. They
arrive on a sudden, and surprize the self-secure. They imitate death,
whose ministers they are, by coming when least expected. In the heat of
battle, the Abipones often take to flight, in the design of enticing the
Spaniards to pursue them, that they may slay them, when they are
separated and their ranks disturbed, though unable to do so as long as
they are in order. Hence it not unfrequently happens, that they who
thought themselves the victors are vanquished by the fugitives. They fly
to marshes, woods, winding-ways, defiles of mountains, rocks, or bushes,
which places the excellence of their steeds, and their skill in riding
and swimming enable them quickly to cross; while the pursuing Spaniards,
incumbered by their clothes and baggage, and often destitute of proper
horses, are easily pierced with spears whilst separated from one
another, and struggling with the water, the mud, and the other
difficulties of the way. Not to mention other artifices, after
committing slaughters, plundering houses, and killing the inhabitants,
the Abipones feign departure, and seem to be hastening their flight; but
when they are supposed many leagues distant, renew the assault, surprize
the surviving Spaniards, and kill all they can. So that it is a certain
fact, that the Indians are never more formidable than when they seem
most afraid.

A very small number of Abipones are to be feared by the Spaniards,
however numerous, if they be reduced to straits, surrounded on every
side, and left no way of escape; for then they dare the utmost in their
own defence. They convert every thing they lay their hands on into
weapons. Terror inspires them with sagacity and courage, and
consequently is more to be dreaded than the most magnanimous spirit. I
have many instances of this in my mind, but it will be sufficient to
relate three. An Abipon, with arrows, and, when these were consumed,
with sticks, supplied him by his wife, did so much execution against the
soldiers of St. Iago, by whom he was surrounded, that he maintained his
post, and when, after many wounds inflicted and received, he fell at
length, was highly extolled for his valour by the very Spaniards against
whom he had fought. Nachiralar̂in, Chief of the Yaaucaniga Abipones,
spread the terror of his name throughout the colonies of Paraguay.
Accompanied by a crowd of his followers, called _Los Sarcos_, or more
properly _Garzos_, from their grey or blue eyes, Nachiralar̂in afflicted
the country of Cordoba, Sta. Fè, Corrientes, and Paraguay, for many
years, with slaughter and pillage, till he was at length taken and slain
at the shores of the Tebiguary̆, by two hundred soldiers from Asumpcion.
Shut up and besieged in a wood with fourteen Abipones, he fought with
such obstinacy against the company of Spaniards, that he did not fall
till after a contest of several hours. Some of his fellow-soldiers could
not be prevented from escaping. It was never without disgust that I
heard this victory boasted of by those present at the engagement; you
would have thought they were speaking of the bloody battles of
Thrasymene, Caudinæ Furculæ, Blenheim, &c. Certainly the leader
Fulgentio de Yegros obtained great celebrity at that expedition, and was
afterwards raised to the highest honours in the army, and to the
government of the province itself. Add to these instances, that twenty
wood-Abipones when attacked in the open plain by three hundred Christian
Mocobios and Abiponian catechumens, chose to lose their lives before
they would quit their station. Incredible is the obstinacy with which
these few contended against numbers. The place which they had chosen at
the beginning of the fight they every one occupied in death. From this
it is evident, that a few, though inferior in number, arms, and
strength, may prove formidable to a multitude, if, besieged by a
surrounding company, and confined by the narrowness of the place, they
have no room left them for escape. Scipio judged wisely that a flying
enemy should be allowed a passage. This precept is generally obeyed by
the Paraguayrian Spaniards, who often yielded the savages more liberty
of escape than need required. This Barreda found in an hundred
expeditions which he headed against the Abipones and Mocobios. These
savages display much prudence in the choice of the situation of their
hordes. They generally choose a place which has a wood close behind, a
lake, river, or marsh in front, and pasture for their horses on both
sides. Barreda told me that whenever hordes so situated were to be
attacked, he ordered his men to besiege them on the part towards the
wood, that the savages might not, as usual, find their security there;
but that the soldiers never obeyed his orders, well knowing that if they
deprived the enemy of an opportunity of escape they should have a most
dangerous conflict, and a very doubtful victory.

                             CHAPTER XXXIX.
                         SOLDIERS IN PARAGUAY.

Whenever I make mention of the Paraguayrian soldiers, do not imagine
that I am speaking of the regular disciplined troops, which are
quartered no where but on the shores of the Plata, to guard the cities
of Buenos-Ayres, and Monte-Video. The cavalry are often ordered out
against the southern savages, while the infantry are employed in ships
to hinder the contraband trade on the river Plata. In all the other
colonies throughout Paraguay, the colonists themselves take up arms,
whenever the hostile incursions of the savages are to be repelled, or
others made against them. The territory belonging to every city contains
some companies of undisciplined soldiery, each of which is commanded by
a master of the camp (_maestre de campo_,) and a chief captain of the
watch, (_sargento mayor_.) The commander-in-chief is the Vice-Governour,
who is likewise the head Judge. Moreover, there is in every city a
company of what are called _reformed captains_, whose business it is to
accompany the Vice-Governour, in every expedition, in the capacity of
life-guards. Many of these are merely honorary, never having discharged
the duties of captains, or even of soldiers. They purchase the title,
that they may be exempted from the burden of war, being only called out
to attend the Vice-Governour. All the rest are summoned to warlike
expeditions either by the Governour, or Vice-Governour. They receive
neither pay nor clothing from the King, and are obliged to furnish their
own arms, horses, and food, whenever, and as long as the military
commander thinks fit.

Every age and every country has found the soldiers of Spain abundantly
brave and active. To deny this would be to wrong that most noble and
glorious nation. That the Spanish name, therefore, may receive no
blemish from what I am going to write of the Paraguayrian soldiers, it
must be observed that all those who boast of a Spanish name in Paraguay,
are not in reality Spaniards. Amid such a diversity of nations, very
many are born of Moors, Indians, and a Spanish mother; of an Indian or
Moorish mother, and a Spanish father; or of a mixed race of them all. A
yellow or darkish complexion, a beardless chin, and a mat of woolly,
curling black hair, plainly denote very many to be of African or
American origin. The other European Spaniards born in Paraguay say, by
way of contempt, _O es del Inga, ò del Mandinga_, you are sprung either
from Indians or Negroes: for the King of Peru was formerly called the
Inga, or Inca, and Mandinga is a province of Negroland, beyond the river
Niger in Africa.

Of such various kinds of men are the military forces composed in
Paraguay. As most of them, though ennobled by a Spanish name, are very
far remote both from Spain and from Spanish intrepidity and love of
arms, what wonder if these unwarlike and beardless soldiers are
slaughtered by the savages like so many barrow-pigs? They are worthy
both of excuse and pity, for, besides being unprovided with proper arms,
they have no skill in handling them. Except the arts of swimming and
riding, they are entirely ignorant of the laws of war, and of military
discipline. Moreover, the Cordoban soldiers are unable even to swim. The
major part of them, when called out against the savages, for spears,
make use of the rude knotty stakes which the woods afford, and if to
these be added the remains of a broken dagger, or knife, then, indeed,
they think themselves as well armed as Mars or Hercules. None but the
richer sort have guns, which are generally very dear, sometimes not to
be purchased. I have often seen carbines sold at Buenos-Ayres for
five-and-twenty Spanish crowns, or fifty German florins a-piece. The
more distant the colonies are from the market of Buenos-Ayres, the
higher their price becomes; in the cities of St. Iago, Asumpcion,
Corrientes, &c. not very handsome guns have been sold for forty, or even
sixty crowns. If any part of the gun get out of order, you will rarely
find a smith to repair it: hence the guns which many of the soldiers
carry, are often in such a condition, that you would sooner obtain water
from a flint than a spark of fire from them. They are liable to be
spoiled in various ways; for, in long journeys, they get knocked against
trees and stones, or wetted by the rain, or injured in some way or
other, as the nights are always to be passed in the open air, often in
rainy weather; vast rivers and marshes to be swam across, and rugged
woods and rocks to be ridden over: in consequence of which the
fire-arms, from not being well taken care of, are frequently spoiled.
Add to this the frequent scarcity or damage of the various articles
required for loading and charging them, and that the flint very often
proves useless. Paraguay produces plenty of excellent flint, but you can
never meet with any one who knows how to split it properly, and fit it
for use. In our times even, whenever some hundreds of soldiers fiercely
approached the stations of the savages, either the steel was rusty and
would not explode, or the gunpowder so moist as to prevent its blazing,
so that very few were able to discharge their guns. I could fill pages
with facts of this kind, but will only relate two of the more recent
ones. A handful of Abipones were overrunning the territory of St. Iago.
Thirty soldiers were sent to observe their motions, but being suddenly
attacked by the savages, who had lain in wait for them, were every one
miserably slain. They had passed the night in the open air, and as the
guns were very badly taken care of, the copious dew so moistened the
gunpowder, that Vesuvius itself would not have been able to kindle it.
This slaughter was effected by twenty Abiponian youths. Two hundred
soldiers, headed by Fulgentio de Yegros, attacked the hordes of the
Tobas. I was astonished to hear the captains, on their return from this
expedition, lamenting that at the very moment of the savages' assault,
they had found their muskets unmanageable, and quite useless, either
from rust or wet. They had spent greatest part of the night in a field,
amongst trees dropping with plenteous dew, that at day-break they might
steal unobserved to the enemy's station.

It is well known to us, and can be surprizing to no one, that the
undisciplined, and temporary soldiers of Paraguay, are accustomed
neither to the keeping, nor handling of weapons. They have been employed
all their lives in different arts and occupations. Unless a man be
previously instructed in military discipline, who can expect him to
prove a proper soldier in the camp? Many go out against the savages who
are soldiers and Spaniards in name only. If any of the colonists, more
respectable by birth and fortune, and better furnished with arms and
skill to use them, are summoned to attend an expedition, they usually
hire very bad substitutes. Others, that they may not be separated from
their families, and exposed to the weapons of the enemy, bribe the
captains to pass them over; in consequence of which, those who are worst
provided with arms, and most ignorant of the military art, principally
feel the burden of the war, and are sent to oppose the savages, to the
great detriment of the province, and disgrace of the Spanish name.
Because the lower orders are poor, they are ordered to fight, while the
more opulent are left at home to take care of their estates: and as they
are forced out to the service again and again, and obliged to spend many
months from home, they grow daily poorer and poorer, and, together with
their families, are overwhelmed with misery.

If the head of the expedition ever furnish them with guns, they
generally return them, at the end of it, entirely spoiled, without
having killed so much as a gnat. Two hundred excellent guns, each
furnished with a bayonet, were procured on one occasion at the public
expense, from the city of Asumpcion. In less than three years, out of
the two hundred there only remained six, and those in such a condition
that they could be made no possible use of. The bayonets were either
lost or broken, having been used on the journey either for roasting
meat, or chopping wood. The Viceroy of Cordoba, suspecting the savage
Pampas of hostile designs, went out as far as the river Tercero. Having
collected soldiers in the country he gave them six portions of
gunpowder, intended for so many charges, wrapped up in paper. One of
these heroes immediately stuffed all the six portions into his gun, and
perceiving that the tube was not filled to the top complained to his
captain that he had not gunpowder enough given him, for that the barrel
of his gun was not filled. Another thrust three charges into his gun,
and as the paper in which they were wrapped obstructed the touch-hole,
found it was not possible to fire it: the mistake of this martial
Dametas afforded his fellow-soldiers a subject for hearty laughter. Many
of them, being unprovided with a pouch, take very bad care of their
charges of gunpowder, which are wrapped in paper; for they tear and wet
them, and often scatter them on the ground. The greater number of them
carry gunpowder in a horn, and bullets, or pieces of lead, in a bag.
Instead of paper for ramming down the powder and ball, some use cotton,
others moss, tow, or any thing they can lay their hands upon. Many to
this purpose apply the wool out of their horse-cloths. As all these
necessary articles are kept in so many different places, it is
incredible how much time is consumed in loading a gun. As, to all this
delay, but very little dexterity in aiming is added, the consequence is
that the European fire-arms are now as much despised by the Abipones as
they were formerly dreaded. These innocuous soldiers think they have
performed a great feat if, for a wonder, they see their gun smoking, and
hear the report, though they have not hurt a hair of one of the enemies'
heads. I have no sort of doubt that the Paraguayrian soldiers would
perform better with a sword and spear than with a gun. If they ever do
any execution amongst the savages, it is owing to iron, not to lead.

Why then, it may be asked, are not these ignorant peasants instructed in
the handling of arms? This has long been vainly desired by all good men.
The endeavours of many persons to this effect have constantly proved
unavailing. There are none able to teach, and none willing to learn the
arts of war. Whilst I was in Paraguay, Francisco Gonzalez, lieutenant of
the horse, with other military commanders, was sent by the King's order
from Spain to Buenos-Ayres to instruct the people of that land in
military discipline; but none were willing to become his scholars. The
richer Spaniards, who reside in the more respectable cities and
colonies, generally shun the hardships of the militia, and the rest are
scattered up and down the distant estates, where they employ themselves
in the breeding of cattle. It is a difficult matter for persons so many
leagues apart, and separated by rivers, woods, and an immense tract of
plain country, to be collected into one place, for the purpose of being
instructed in the arts of war. The first time many will attend the
military school, attracted by the novelty of the European horsemen, more
than by the desire of learning. The next day, when their curiosity is
satisfied, you will reckon far fewer, the next scarce ten. Should they
be ordered to attend in the King's name, even if the command were
accompanied with threats, it would be of no avail. They would all excuse
their absence on some account or other. One would adduce illness as a
pretext; another would accuse the weather, another would allege the
necessity of a journey or business that admits of no delay. Others would
frowardly say they did not choose to come. This my friend Gonzalez
found, when, much against his will, he was passing his time unemployed
in the city of Buenos-Ayres.

Why, you will say, did not regular troops from Spain keep watch in the
colonies to repress the savages? I should not approve of this either. A
whole army would scarce suffice to such an extensive province, and,
divided into so many parts, what could it effect against a multitude of
enemies? The soldiers would indeed be superior to the Americans in the
skilful management of fire-arms, but very far inferior in the arts of
swimming and riding, and in tolerance of fatigue, heat, hunger, and
thirst. Incumbered with tents, waggons, boats, or pontoons, which they
could not dispense with, they would be unable to pursue the flying
horsemen of the savages, still less to reach their hordes, which are
sometimes two hundred leagues distant from the cities. Certain it is
that the Spanish dragoons appointed to guard the city of Buenos-Ayres
were very unwilling to go out against the southern savages, from whom
they oftener gained wounds than victory. Every one knows that the
regiment of foot sent as supplies to the city of Sta. Fè, when it was
almost destroyed by the Abipones and Mocobios, were of no service
whatever, as the savages always cunningly evaded a stationary fight with
them. I do not deny that, under Pizarro and Cortez, the Europeans slew,
routed, and subjugated innumerable Indians, but not equestrian Indians.
Were these same heroes to return at this day to fight the Abipones,
Mocobios, Tobas, and other equestrian people of Paraguay, I should augur
them more trouble and less glory. Those first Spaniards who entered
America, mounted on horses, emitting lightning from their swords, and
thunder from their fire-arms, and furnished with whiskers, appeared to
the beardless, unarmed Americans, a new race of men, exempted from
death, whom they either avoided by flight, or, if that were
impracticable, conciliated by submission. The savages, who now make war
against the Spaniards, daily see how possible it is for them both to be
conquered, and to die, and can make use of iron spears, and swift
horses, to elude attacks, or make them themselves.

Taught by long experience in the affairs of Paraguay, I declare it as my
opinion, that the Americans, were they instructed in the arts of war,
and furnished with arms, and all the necessary apparatus, by reason of
their natural abilities for riding, swimming, and enduring the hardships
of weather and of warfare, would be of more service against the
incursions of the savages than any European soldiers. In every part of
Paraguay you may see youths truly Spaniards in origin, name, and
disposition; intelligent, agile, intrepid, remarkable for strength and
stature, and astonishingly dexterous in horsemanship; of such were one
company formed in every territory, commanded by able captains, and
furnished with a regular stipend, I think that the Indians, when foes,
might easily be induced to embrace the friendship of the Spaniards, and
when friends, kept in their duty; and thus the colonies would be freed
from their afflictions. But if, on urgent danger, a regiment were formed
out of four or five of these companies, none of the savage hordes,
however numerous, would be invincible to them, were a leader of tried
valour and experience at the head of the expedition. About fifty
horsemen of this description, supported at the public expense by the
city of Sta. Fè, and called Blandenges, have shown much conduct on many
occasions. A troop of these horsemen might watch in each of the Spanish
colonies, and be easily supported, partly out of the royal treasury,
partly at the expense of the more opulent Spaniards, whom it chiefly
interests to preserve the security of the estates and of commerce from
the incursions of the savages.

                              CHAPTER XL.
                           ABIPONIAN VICTORS.

As soon as the Abipones see any one fall in battle under their hands,
their first care is to cut off the head of the dying man, which they
perform with such celerity that they would win the palm from the most
experienced anatomists. They lay the knife not to the throat, but to the
back of the neck, with a sure and speedy blow. When they were destitute
of iron, a shell, the jaw of the palometa, a split reed, or a stone
carefully sharpened, served them for a knife. Now with a very small
knife they can lop off a man's head, like that of a poppy, more
dexterously than European executioners can with an axe. Long use and
daily practice give the savages this dexterity. For they cut off the
heads of all the enemies they kill, and bring them home tied to their
saddles or girths by the hair. When apprehension of approaching
hostilities obliges them to remove to places of greater security, they
strip the heads of the skin, cutting it from ear to ear beneath the
nose, and dexterously pulling it off along with the hair. The skin thus
drawn from the skull, and stuffed with grass, after being dried a little
in the air, looks like a wig, and is preserved as a trophy. That Abipon
who has most of these skins at home, excels the rest in military renown.
The skull too is sometimes kept to be used as a cup at their festive

Though you cannot fail to execrate the barbarity of the Abipones, in
cutting off and flaying the heads of their enemies, yet I think you will
judge these ignorant savages worthy of a little excuse, on reflecting
that they do it from the example of their ancestors, and that of very
many nations throughout the world, which, whenever they have an
opportunity of venting their rage upon their enemies, seem to cast away
all sense of humanity, and to think that the victors have a right to
practise any outrage upon the vanquished. Innumerable are the forms of
cruelty which the other savages throughout America exercise towards
their slain and captive enemies. The Iroquois in Canada flay the heads
of their enemies before they are dead. The Jesuit Lafitau, in his book
intitled _Mœurs des Sauvages Américains, &c._ declares that he saw a
woman of French extraction, who lived in good health for many years
after having her head scalped by the Iroquois, and that she went by the
name of _La Tête Pelée_. Many are said to have survived this scalping.
Some of the Canadian Indians flay the whole body of the enemy they have
killed, and exhibit his skin as a testimonial of their victory and
valour. Sometimes the skin of the hand is converted into a
tobacco-pouch. Although such treatment awaits the bodies of the dead,
yet it is preferable to fall in battle than to be taken in captivity by
the Iroquois. The more warlike of their captives whom they stand in fear
of, along with the women, children, and old men, whom they consider
incumbrances, are burnt the first day on the field of battle; others
share the same fate the succeeding days, to expedite their return. If
the fear of pursuers impose the necessity of haste, they bind their
captives to trees, and set fire to those next them, that they may either
be roasted by a slow fire, or if the flame should grow languid, be
destroyed by hunger. The other captives, whom they think likely to be
useful to them at home, they bind and carry away. At night, that they
may not take advantage of the darkness, and flee, they stretch out their
legs and arms in the form of the letter X, and bind them with a cord to
a stake, to which they fasten two longer ropes one to tie the neck, the
other the breast. The extremity of these the savage master holds in his
hand, that if the captive endeavours to extricate himself he may be
awakened. Painful indeed must the night be to these wretches, for as
they are entirely naked, their bodies are bitten by swarms of ants and
wasps, from which, being bound hand and foot, they cannot defend
themselves. At the end of a miserable journey they are either condemned
to wretched slavery, or to the pile. Similar barbarity is practised by
the savages of South America towards their captives. The Brazilians
fatten them for some time, and then publicly kill them by knocking them
on the head with a club. The limbs are dissected and afford a feast to
the whole horde; for they are cannibals, and engaged in perpetual wars
with their neighbours. I cannot forbear mentioning a strange piece of
cruelty practised by the Southern savages towards their captives. If
they catch one of the enemy in the plain they do not kill him, but cut
off both his feet and leave him there, so that unable to prosecute his
journey, he dies a lingering death amidst the bitterest torments.

This wicked system of cruelty towards captives and enemies is abhorred
by the Abipones, who never torture the dying. After taking a village of
Spaniards or Indians, they do not promiscuously slay all the
inhabitants. Unless highly irritated by some previous injury, they
always spare the women and children. They pull the skins off the heads
of the slain, and carry them home as testimonies of their warlike
achievements, but never use them to cover themselves or their horses
with, as some do. They show the utmost kindness towards their captives,
as I have declared in the thirteenth chapter, on the Manners and Customs
of the Abipones. According to Lafitau, the Hurons and Iroquois, though
very savage in other respects, never ill-treat their captives at home,
except they be of the number of those that are condemned to be burnt, by
the sentence of the chiefs.

                              CHAPTER XLI.

Different enemies must be combated with different arms. The Abipones,
when they go out against the Spaniards, lay aside their breastplates of
antas' skins, and their bows, and place their chief dependence in a
swift horse and a strong lance; but when attacked at home by a foreign
foe, whoever it may be, they make successful use of the bow, for, from
the constant exercise of war and hunting, they acquire so much skill in
the use of that weapon that they take a more certain aim with it than
the Spaniards do with a gun.

Let us suppose that a rumour is spread throughout the hordes of the
Abipones that the savages are speedily coming to attack them. If they
have strength and courage sufficient to repel the enemy, trusty scouts
are sent out in every direction to learn their route. The rest,
meantime, make it their chief care to prepare a drink of honey, or the
alfaroba, for a public drinking-party. For the Abipones think that they
are never more acute in counsel, or braver in fight, than when they are
drunk. Famiano Strada, in his history of the Belgic war, writes thus of
Schenck, a celebrated general of the Belgians: "He never handled arms
better than when he had drank profusely, and was intoxicated with wine."
I have often found the same to be the case with the Abipones as with
Schenck. In the colony of St. Ferdinand we learnt that a hostile troop
of Mocobios and Tobas were advancing toward us by hasty marches, and
were only two days' journey distant. The Abipones, astonished, not
alarmed at this news, though very few, awaited the assault of numbers
amidst drinking and songs of triumph. They spent two days with their
horses shut up in stalls within the town, that they might be always in
readiness, with their faces painted to excite terror, holding a cup in
one hand, and a quiver in the other. Quinquagesima Sunday came. At three
o'clock in the afternoon the troop of savage horse appeared in sight.
The Abipones, though after such long drinking hardly in possession of
their senses, or able to stand upon their legs, snatched up their
spears, leaped upon their horses, which were made ready by the women,
and, scattered in a disorderly manner up and down the plain, rushed full
speed upon their enemies, amid the discordant bray of trumpets, with
such good fortune, that, abandoning their project of plundering the
colony, they sought security in the adjacent woods. But being prevented
from this by the Abipones, they rushed off on all sides. The enemies
hurried away at full gallop; the Abipones endeavoured to overtake them.
It was not a fight, but a race between the fugitives and their pursuers.
The contest consisted more in the swiftness of their steeds than in
weapons, which were sent backwards and forwards, but, because badly
aimed, without injuring very many. Our victors returned to the colony
when the night was far advanced, some not till the morning, all safe and
sound, (except one, whose head was bruised with a club,) and, what was
very surprizing, quite sober, having exhaled the effects of the liquor,
not with sleeping, but with riding and fighting. How many of the enemies
were killed and wounded I do not know: but that more than two hundred
were put to flight by seventy drunken men was a noble victory for us.
Let us now treat of the other preparations which the Abipones make
previous to a fight.

Every thing being in readiness for the drinking-party, which is held
before a battle, their chief anxiety is to conceal their droves of
horses from the eyes and hands of the enemy. Reserving the best within
the neighbouring stalls, that they may be ready for the uses of war,
they place the remainder in stations, access to which is rendered
difficult to the enemy either by the high bank of a river, the
intervention of a wood, or their ignorance of the way. They also look
out for places of concealment for their wives and children, and all that
are unable to defend themselves. The Spaniards told me they had often
seen whole Indian families plunged up to the neck in lakes and rivers.
As soon as ever a report is spread amongst the Abipones of the approach
of an enemy, they immediately stain their faces, and carry about bundles
of weapons, and a military trumpet, which they blow chiefly in the dead
of the night, that the enemies may know from their scouts that they have
shaken off all fear, and are vigilant and desirous of the conflict. When
certified of the approach of the enemy's forces, they provide for their
safety in various ways. If they are few in comparison with their
adversaries, they make up for the want of strength by craft. That they
may not be obliged to join in open battle, they use various artifices to
prevent the enemy from gaining access to their stations. They set out on
the road, and surprize them by an ambuscade, or make themselves appear
more numerous by redoubled tumult of military trumpets, or leaving a
number of drummers and trumpeters at a distance behind, pretend that
they are only the part of a company that is to come after; or putting
Spanish dresses on some of their men, make it appear as if they had
Spanish soldiers at hand to give them aid. Misled by these artifices,
the enemies not unfrequently give up their intention of fighting, and
make the best of their way back again. Often, however, no opportunity is
left them for stratagems. Compelled by a sudden inroad of the enemy, or
allured by confidence of victory to resolve upon a combat, a piece of
ground opposite the approaching enemy, and near the horde, is selected
for the purpose, that they may be near their wives and children should
they be in danger. Heralds are sometimes sent forward by the enemy to
explain the causes of the war, and challenge the inhabitants to fight.
But the bellowing of drums and trumpets, and horrid vociferations, are
generally the only answer they obtain. Every thing preceding and
accompanying a battle, is a spectacle worthy to be seen, and laughed at
by Europeans. About the beginning of the conflict you may see jugglers
mounted on horseback, who, making ridiculous gestures, and whirling
round palm boughs in their hands, utter the direst imprecations on the
hostile army: whilst old female jugglers are observed crawling on the
ground, or leaping in the streets, and with sullen eyes and a hoarse
voice, uttering some omen or curse. You may see the Abipones with their
faces stained, with many-coloured feathers in their heads, and arms in
their hands, some wearing breastplates, others entirely naked, enter the
field with a marching gait, and appearing to threaten the whole world.
You may see mountains in labour bring forth ridiculous mice. These
heroes, when placed in order of battle, wish to be counted by the
Father, as they cannot count themselves. As I walked up and down the
ranks, I was frequently asked, "Are we many?" to which I constantly
replied, "You are very many;" lest they should be disheartened at their
want of numbers. Experience taught me that the towns were mostly
attacked by a numerous enemy when very few of the inhabitants were left
at home—the rest being dispersed far and wide for the sake of hunting.
The sagacious savages make the assault when they have learnt from their
spies that the colony is bare of defenders. They form themselves into a
square, if the place will admit of it. I observed that they sometimes
placed the archers in the midst, and the spearmen on each wing; at
others, the archers and spearmen ranged themselves promiscuously. The
Mocobios, Tobas, and Guaycurùs leave their horses a little way off, in
sight, and join battle on foot. The Cacique, or any other person in
authority, sits on horseback in the front of the army; but when the
battle commences he dismounts and fights among the rest. The leaders of
the Abipones are generally great fighters, as their example has more
weight than words amongst the soldiers, who follow their leader with
greater willingness when he is bravely fighting, than when he is
exhorting them from a distance.

At first they stand in close ranks, but afterwards, when the enemy is to
be attacked or repelled, in such loose ones that each soldier has a
space of four or six cubits on every side. In fighting they never stand
erect, or quietly on their feet. They run up and down with their bodies
bent to the ground, and their eyes fixed on their adversaries, for the
sake either of avoiding or aiming a blow. With a threatening voice they
provoke the enemy by continually exclaiming _hò, hò, hò_, raising their
voices from the lowest to the very highest tones. They rub their right
hand every now and then on the ground, lest the string of the bow should
slip from their fingers when they are moistened with perspiration. The
Indians do not imitate the Europeans, who send a shower of darts at the
same moment at the enemy. Each takes aim at his adversary with his
arrow, so that one diligently watches the eyes and motions of the other,
and, when he perceives himself aimed at, changes his situation by
leaping to the right or left. Many weapons are cast, though seldom with
impunity, at the leader of the army, and the most distinguished
warriors. When one is often aimed at by many, had he more eyes than
Argus, and were he more agile than the wind, no one can dare to promise
him security; so that if he leave the field of battle unhurt, it is
often to be attributed to good fortune, seldom to dexterity, and still
seldomer to his leathern breastplate, which I myself have seen yield not
only to spears, but even to the stronger arrows.

If their own arrows fail them they will send back those shot by the
enemy. However, when their quivers are exhausted, as sometimes happens,
and their souls fired by the combat, after having fought for some time,
at a distance with a bow, they will come to close fighting with a spear.
Neither then, however, will the plain be inundated with human blood. The
savages have, indeed, great power in dealing blows, but they have still
greater swiftness in eluding them. The whole combat is often confined to
threats and vociferations. Sometimes many are wounded, but very few die
in proportion to the number of wounds; for unless the head or breast be
pierced they never despair of the man's life. They are used to consider
broken ribs and immense gashes in the other members, as attended with
little danger; they calmly look upon them without any expression of
pain, and, half alive, reluctantly suffer themselves to be borne from
the fight on other persons' arms. This I learnt, that these savages,
unless flight be denied them, seldom dare the worst. Terrified at the
slaughter of a very few of their fellow-soldiers, they desert their
leader, and escape how they can. There is no need to sound a retreat.
Should ten or twenty take to flight, the rest, freed from all restraint
of shame, trust their lives to their horses, and rush along with the
impetuosity of a river that has burst its banks. On urgent occasions you
will see two or three seated on one horse. At the beginning of an
engagement on foot, they take care that the means of flight may not fail
them: behind the backs of the combatants, and out of reach of the
weapons, they station horses, upon which young men sit, and safely watch
the vicissitudes of the fight.

But if the enemy, finding the fortune of war against them, betake
themselves to flight, they scarce have to fear a very obstinate pursuit
from their adversaries, as the conquerors are very cautious not to
forfeit their glory; they are unwilling, by a doubtful contest, to
experience a change of fortune, and to undergo a new danger. A spear, or
garment, taken from them in battle by their enemies, the Abipones
consider a terrible disgrace to their nation, regarding the loss of it
with as much grief as Europeans do that of their drums or standards. The
Abipones never attribute victories, and the fortunate events of battles,
to their own skill, but to the arts of their jugglers. Although they
hold the other Paraguayrian nations in contempt, yet they allow the
Guaycurùs to be formidable; they say that they are cut down like
funguses by the spears of these savages, not because they excel them in
goodness of arms, strength of body, or courage of mind, but because they
enter the fight attended by far more skilful jugglers. The Cacique
Alaykin affirmed to me, that persons blown upon by their breath fell to
the ground, as if struck with thunder.

But now let us contemplate the Abipones triumphing after a successful
fight. If the event has answered to their wishes they fill the country
with joyful rumours of victory, and generally exaggerated accounts of
the slaughter of the enemy. They who have behaved with distinguished
valour have the ears and eyes of all directed towards them. They who
have received wounds in the battle deliver themselves to be sucked to a
crowd of juggler physicians, a multitude of spectators admiring and
extolling their constancy and fortitude. Great numbers flock to behold
the spoils and trophies taken from the enemy. The women, giving way to
an excess of gladness, seem mad with joy; they would make no end of
singing, leaping, and applauding, were they not obliged to turn their
attention towards making preparations for the public drinking-party of
their husbands; who, at the same time that they wash the horrible
colours from their faces, endeavour to clear from their minds, with
wine, their past anxiety respecting the conflict. In the assembly of
drinkers, where the victory is celebrated amidst confused clamours, and
songs accompanied with the sound of gourds and drums; when all are
heated with liberal draughts of mead, each begins to relate his own
brave actions, and to laugh at the errors, cowardice, and flight of
others; which not being endured by any of the Abipones, the warriors
contend furiously amongst themselves, first with fists, and then,
growing more enraged, with spears and arrows. Did not the women
interpose to effect a reconciliation, and employ themselves in snatching
away their weapons, and leading their husbands home, it is beyond a
doubt that more would be killed after the battle than in the battle.

If a battle be fought at a distance from the town, a horseman is sent
forward to announce the success of it to the hordesmen. As soon as this
messenger is espied from a distance, a crowd come out to meet him,
striking their lips with their right hands, and accompany him to his
house. Having preserved the profoundest silence he leaps down from his
horse on to a bed; whence, as from a rostrum, he announces the event of
the battle, with a grave voice, to the surrounding multitude. If a few
of the enemy are killed and wounded, he begins his story with
_Nalamichiriñi_; they are all slaughtered, which he utters with a severe
countenance and declamatory tone, and receives the applauses of the
by-standers. He then enumerates those that he himself has slain in
battle, and to enhance the merit of the victory, affirms of many, _Eknam
Capitan_; he was a captain. At every name that is mentioned of an enemy
slain in battle the air resounds with _Kem ékemat? Ta Yeegàm!_ an
exclamation of surprize. The number of captives, waggons, and horses,
that have been taken, are then detailed with infinite exaggeration, for
of each he asserts that they are innumerable; _Chik Leyé_ _kalipì_; at
which the auditors burst forth into an exclamation of _Ndře_, by which
they express a strange and unheard-of thing. Having minutely recounted
every circumstance tending to set forth this arduous fight and splendid
victory, he proceeds to discover those of his fellow-soldiers that have
been wounded in the battle. At every name the by-standers groan, and
utter the word _Tayretà!_ Poor little thing! As the Abipones think it a
crime to utter the name of a dead person, the narrator makes use of a
paraphrase, thus, _Yoalè eknam oanerma Hamelèn laneuek là chit kaekà_:
The man, the husband of the woman Hamelèn, is now no more. The mention
of the death of one of their countrymen entirely destroys all the
pleasure which the news of the victory had excited; so that the
announcer immediately finds himself deserted by his late attentive
listeners, as soon as ever he begins to touch upon this melancholy
subject. All the women unloose their hair, snatch up gourds and drums,
and lament in the manner that I have described in the twenty-fourth

The Abipones, when returned from an expedition, enter their horde, not
in one company, but separately, without ostentation, if victorious, and
without signification of sorrow, if conquered, or even if desperately
wounded, unless they have lost their leader. Then indeed they return
with their hair partially shaven, to attest their grief, and convey the
bones of their deceased Cacique home, not without funeral apparatus. The
anxiously expected return of the warriors engages the eyes, ears,
tongues, and hands of all; some surveying the droves of cattle, the
captives, and spoils; others enquiring for the safety of their
relations; others examining the wounds of the soldiers; and all the
women lamenting. Each retains the captives, horses, mules, and other
things that he has taken, unless, as usual amongst them, he chooses to
share them with his friends. From one journey they often bring home many
thousand horses, which they divide amongst themselves, with what
regulations I know not, but without any disputes. On the succeeding days
every one is eager to make trial of the horses which have fallen to his
share in the partition of the spoils; they value swiftness alone,
disregarding every beauty which adorns a horse. You may daily see a
crowd of young men riding races with one another, and at the same time
contending with words, each extolling his own above his neighbour's
horse. The remembrance of the victory obtained over the enemy, disturbs
as much as it delights their minds; for they live in continual fear that
the enemy will speedily come to avenge the death of their people and
loss of their property. Hence, in order to tranquillize their minds, and
devise some method to keep off the foe, their chief care is to prepare a
public drinking-party, that sure quickener, as they think, of the wit
and exciter of valour.

                             CHAPTER XLIV.

The Abipones, not satisfied with celebrating their victory, as soon as
they return, and whilst their hands are yet bloody, renew the memory of
it by public festivities every year. The whole of these festivities
consists in singing, dancing, and extravagancies. When they have all
collected plenty of honey in the woods, a day is appointed for this
anniversary ceremony, and a large house equal to the number of guests
fixed upon. The last three days before that appointed for the
drinking-party, one of the public criers, covered with an elegant cloak,
goes up and down all the tents; at the entrance of each he is saluted by
the women with a festive percussion of the lips; his spear, to which a
little brass bell is affixed, the mother of the family receives, by way
of honour, from the hands of the comer, and restores to him again on his
departure. The crier, on entering the house, sits down upon a cushion
prepared for him, of saddles, or some wild animal's skin. He then, in a
set speech, invites the father of the family to the public celebration
of victories. On his departure, he is dismissed by the women with the
usual percussion of the lips. In the same manner he enters the dwellings
of the other hordesmen, always accompanied by a crowd of boys. The
office of crier, which the noble Abipones despise, is generally
performed by some juggler of advanced age and low birth. Meantime they
furnish the house, appointed for the meeting, with a hasty apparatus.
The floor is covered with the skins of tigers and of kine, upon which
the guests sit. A temporary erection is made of reeds, upon which they
place the hairy scalps of their slain enemies, as trophies. When they
prefer celebrating the victory without the tent in the open air, they
hang these trophies upon spears fixed upright in the circle in which
they sit. At sun-set, the persons invited all flock to the appointed
place, where they sit down on the ground, having leathern vessels of
mead set in the midst of them, though the drinking does not commence
till about morning, the whole night being spent in chaunting their

They never sing all at once, but only two at a time, always greatly
varying their voices from high to low, one either taking up, or
following, or interrupting the other, and sometimes accompanying him.
Now one, now the other is silent for a short interval. The tones vary
according to the subject of the song, with many inflexions of the sound,
and, if I may so express myself, a good deal of shaking. He who, by a
quicker motion of the throat, can now suspend the song for a while, now
protract, and now interrupt it with groans, or laughter, or can imitate
the bellowing of a bull, or the tremulous voice of a kid,—he will gain
universal applause. No European would deny that these savage singers
inspired him with a kind of melancholy and horror, so much are the ears,
and even the mind affected by that deadly chaunting, the darkness adding
greatly to the mournful effect. One of the singers rattles a gourd
filled with maize seeds, to the time of the music. Sometimes the gourd
alone preludes the singing, as in a band of musicians; at others, it
follows the voice of the singer, and very seldom rests for ever so
little a while. When two are singing at a time, it is wonderful to hear
so much concord in such discordant voices. You never observe them
hesitate or pause: for they do not sing extemporaneously, but what has
been long studied beforehand. The songs are restricted by no metrical
laws, but sometimes have a rhythmical sound. The number of verses is
regulated, not according to the pleasure of the singer, but according to
the variety of the subject. Nothing but warlike expeditions, slaughters,
and spoils of the enemy, taking of towns, plundering of waggons and
estates, burning and depopulating colonies of the Spaniards, and other
tragedies of that kind furnish the savages with subjects for singing and
rejoicing. These events, together with the place, and time, where, and
when they happened, they describe; not rudely, but with considerable
elegance. Struck, as it were, with poetic rage, by appropriate words,
and modulations of the voice, they contrive to express indignation,
fear, threatening, or joy. Though, in order not to damp the hilarity,
they scarce make any mention of the deaths, and wounds of the Abipones,
and employ themselves exclusively in exaggerating the slaughter of the
enemy. During the time that these songs are chaunted, a period of many
hours, not one of the auditors dares utter a word, and though night
itself persuades sleep, you will not see one of them even yawn.

As all singers have the fault which Horace complains of in them, namely,
that when they once begin, they will never leave off; the two chaunters
are admonished to conclude their song, by women who stand around,
separated from the men, and who signify to the vocal pair, after they
have sung about a quarter of an hour, that it is time to desist, by
repeated percussion of their lips, and by pronouncing the little words
_Kla leyà_, it is enough. With this admonition, they immediately comply,
and conclude the magnificent commemoration of their mighty deeds with
_Gramackka aka`m_: Such then we are. Another pair then succeeds to the
former, and in this manner the singing is protracted till the morning.
Then, indeed, the scene is changed, the drinking commences, and their
dry and weary throats are refreshed with that American nectar made
either of honey, or the alfaroba. The women, and the unmarried men are
excluded from these drinking-parties, though the latter are allowed to
drink mead in private, as the women to drink pure honey, and eat the raw

To seek honey in the woods for making this drink, is the business of the
men, but the whole labour of preparing it falls upon the women, who have
to knock down the alfarobas from the trees, to carry them home on
horseback, to pound them in mortars, to pour water on them, and to dress
the hides which serve to hold the liquor. The method of their
construction is this: the feet are cut off, the hide is made square; its
four sides are then raised to the height of two spans, so that it
receives at the bottom any liquor that you may pour in, and holds it
without spilling a drop. Honey, or the alfaroba steeped in water,
obtains the desirable degree of acidity quicker, or slower, according to
the state of the atmosphere, and ferments, in a certain way, without the
addition of any thing else. The Abipones approach those vessels every
now and then, and ascertain, by the smell, whether that honeyed beverage
has attained its proper state. _Layam ycham_; It will soon ferment, they
cry as they go away. Till at length some one comes, who, judging by his
nose, declares that it has gained the necessary acidity. This being
given out, they all flock to the appointed place. Those leathern
vessels, full of foaming mead, are each brought by the hands of six or
eight girls, who lay down their burden, and return home without speaking
a word to the drinkers. Before the first vessel is quite exhausted,
another is brought, to that is added a third, then a fourth, and so on.
I did not in the least wonder to see the women so alert and industrious
in performing these useful offices, because the more diligent they are,
the higher character they obtain amongst their countrymen, and the
greater favour do they gain from their husbands. It must be confessed,
however, that the Abipones, when they sup and dine in private, drink
nothing but water. I _have_ known Abipones who abstained from fermented
liquors altogether; but these persons were contemned by the rest as
cowardly, degenerate, and stupid; and indeed, I observed that they who
excelled the rest in birth, military glory, and authority, were
generally the most given to drinking. You can scarce see a circle of
drinkers, at which the chiefs of the Abipones do not attend and preside.

For cups they use either the skulls of their slain enemies, or gourds,
or horns. They are unacquainted with the European fashion of drinking
healths. When any one suggests the idea of a warlike expedition, they
cry _Là_, now; and snatching up their cups, express that they have
ratified his proposal by a hearty draught. It is also remarkable, that,
though extremely voracious at other times, they take scarce any food
when they pass the day and night in drinking; from which it is evident
that honey and the alfaroba possess great nutritive qualities. For my
part, I never could prevail upon myself to taste that nectar of the
Abipones, having often observed them chew the alfaroba, or honeycomb
with their teeth, put it out of their mouths, and keep it to mix with
the future beverage; for they think that, being mixed with saliva, it
will serve for a ferment, to make the rest of the mass obtain a grateful
acid more quickly. On the same account, the Indians and Paraguayrian
Spaniards have their maize, which is intended for drink, chewed by old
women; they will not intrust this office to the younger ones, who, they
say, abound in bad humours. Could any person, aware of this
circumstance, though of no very delicate stomach, swallow the beverage
without nausea? Yet this filthy drink has more lovers amongst the
Americans, than Helen had amongst the Greeks.

They always have many causes for celebrating a public drinking-party;
the most frequent are, the gaining of a victory, an impending fight,
funeral rites, festivities on the birth of a Cacique's son, the shaving
of widowers or widows, the changing of a name, the proclamation of a
lately appointed captain, the arrival of a guest of consideration, a
wedding, and, what is most common, a council of war. If materials for
preparing the liquor be at hand, occasion, and inclination for drinking,
will never be wanting. As honey is always to be had, they are never, at
any part of the year, in want of mead; but as it is seldom to be got in
sufficient quantities, for the number of partakers, parties of this kind
are generally of short duration. From December to April, when the woods
abound with the ripe alfaroba, is the chief season for drinking. During
these months they drink without pause or intermission. They join the
night to the day, with scarce any interval for brief meals, or sleep:
before they have slept themselves sober they stagger back to the party
of drinkers. During all that time you scarce ever find them in
possession of their senses; to live, with them, is to drink, and you
would say that the more they drank the more thirsty they grew. To show
that they do not tremble at the sight of blood, and that they take
pleasure in wounds, they emulously prick their breast and arms, and not
unfrequently their tongue, with crocodiles' bones, and the sharpest
thorns. Disputes too are frequent among them concerning pre-eminence in
valour, which produce confused clamours, fighting, wounds, and
slaughter. "In that skirmish you basely turned your back on the enemy,"
one perhaps will say to the other; who, not choosing to endure the
reproach, replies "What? What do you say?" till from words they proceed
to blows, to arrows, and to spears, unless other persons interfere. It
often happens that a contention between two implicates and incites them
all, so that snatching up arms, and taking the part, some of one, some
of the other, they furiously rush to attack and slay one another. This
is no uncommon occurrence in drinking-parties, and is sometimes carried
on for many hours with much vociferation of the combatants, and no less
effusion of blood.

Intoxication affects the Abipones in various ways. Some laugh violently,
merrier than hilarity itself; others seem oppressed with melancholy;
others, inflated with the remembrance of their mighty deeds, grow more
threatening and boastful than the Thraso of Terence, or the _Miles
Gloriosus_ of Plautus. I knew a man, who, whenever he was drunk,
threatened to kill his little son, and as he lay stretched upon the
ground, spoke in such loud and angry tones to his wife, that he was
heard throughout the whole neighbourhood. There was one man, who, when
he was drunk, always requested to be baptized, continually exclaiming,
"Make haste, Father, and wash my head!" though, when sober, he never
thought anything about baptism. An Abipon, of no reputation amongst his
countrymen, entered our house furnished with a bow and arrows, and
demanded of me, in a threatening tone, whether I did not think him a
captain, that is, a man distinguished for great actions; alarmed at the
fierce countenance of the interrogator, and at the bundle of arrows
which he bore, I made him a fine panegyric by way of reply, though he
was a man universally despised for his cowardice. An old man in the town
of St. Ferdinand, inglorious alike in birth and actions, on being called
by his drinking associates, _Lanařaik_, plebeian, vainly endeavoured
with arms, and absurd clamours, to avenge the insult; for his wife, a
sturdy old woman, always watched over her infuriated husband, that he
might not fall by the fists or weapons of his companions. On this
occasion she caught hold of him by the legs, or girdle, dragged him
through the street, and when got home, vainly exhorted him to sleep and
silence; for he, ever recurring to the flouts of his comrades, could
take no rest, constantly ejaculating with a hoarse voice, _Tà yeega`m!
Aym Lanařaik? Tà yeega`m! Là rihè lahè!_ "What! I a plebeian? I
ignoble? I demand vengeance." Enraged by these reflections, he
endeavours again and again to raise himself on his feet, and snatch up a
spear, when his angry wife as often knocks him down upon the floor. This
sport continued for many hours, to the incredible annoyance of all that
dwelt in the neighbourhood. Few could repress indignation, none
laughter. Almost all the women have the same task when they labour to
disarm their husbands, and take them out of the hands of their drunken
comrades. The whole Abiponian nation would come to destruction, if the
women and youths attended these drinking-parties, as well as the married

You will sooner eradicate from the minds of the Americans any vice
belonging to them, than this wicked and pernicious intemperance in
drinking. You will sooner persuade them to live content with one wife,
to abstain from slaughter and rapine, to scorn their ancient
superstitions, or to employ themselves in agriculture and building
houses, notwithstanding their aversion to labour. To abolish the custom
of drinking-parties is indeed a most arduous work, a labour of many
years, and a business to perfect which no eloquence or industry of those
whose care and wish it was to convert the savage nations to
Christianity, and conform them to the divine laws, was ever equal. At
length, however, we have had the satisfaction of beholding this wicked
custom of drinking yield to our unwearied toils, and almost all the
savages submit to the law of God.

                             CHAPTER XLIII.
                        BEING DECLARED CAPTAIN.

Even amongst savage nations, virtue has its reward. Though almost
ignorant that they are men, they delight in honourable titles. The
Abipones do not account that the best nobility which is inherited as a
patrimony, but that which is obtained by their own merits. Amongst them,
as no one is distinguished by his father's name, in like manner no one
is ennobled by the famous deeds of his father, grandfather, or great
grandfather. The nobility of valour and probity, not that of birth, is
what they prize and honour. By a kind of natural propensity they respect
the sons and grandsons of their Caciques and Captains; yet if they be
stupid, cowardly, of unpleasant manners, or a foolish understanding,
they make them of no account, and never prefer them to the government of
the horde, or of military expeditions. They choose for rulers and
leaders others of the common people, whom they know to be active,
sagacious, brave, and modest. Whoever has given proofs of warlike valour
is initiated into warlike honours with ceremonies which I shall
presently describe.

The names of the Abipones who are not distinguished by military rank,
end in various letters; but when, on account of their services in war,
they are admitted into the rank of the nobles, they drop the name which
they bore in youth, and receive another which always terminates in the
syllable _In_. They who are solemnly inaugurated, according to the
custom of their ancestors, are called _Höcheri_, and have a dialect of
their own; for though they use the common words, yet, by insertion and
addition of various syllables, they transform and obscure them in such a
manner that they can hardly be understood. I shall now briefly describe
the rites by which they are promoted to this dignity. When, by the
arbitration of the rest, such an honour has been decreed to any one,
they make a previous trial of his fortitude, by an experiment common to
all. A black bead being placed upon his tongue, he is ordered to sit
down at home for three days, and during that time to abstain from
speaking, eating, and drinking. This is indeed a harsh law, but it
appears mild in comparison with the torments endured by certain Indians
at the river Orinoco, when candidates for military honours. They are
laid on a hurdle, beneath which are placed burning coals, and, that the
heat and smoke may be the more intolerable, the poor wretches are
completely overwhelmed with palm leaves. They anoint the whole of the
body of others with honey, tie them to a tree, and expose them to the
stings of bees, wasps, drones, and hornets. But let me now return to the
Abipon who is fasting and keeping silence at home. On the evening
preceding this military function all the women flock to the threshold of
his tent. Pulling off their clothes from the shoulder to the middle, and
dishevelling their hair, they stand in a long row, and with confused
shouts, accompanied with the sound of gourds, and with the continual
agitation of their arms and legs, lament for the ancestors of him, who
is, next day, to be adorned with a military dignity. These lamentations
continue till it is dark. As soon as morning dawns, our candidate,
elegantly dressed in the fashion of his nation, and holding a spear in
his hand, leaps upon a horse laden with feathers, small bells, and
trappings, and gallops northward, followed by a great troop of Abipones.
Presently, returning with equal speed, he approaches the tent, where
sits an old female juggler, the priestess of the ceremonies, who is
afterwards to inaugurate the candidate with solemn rites. Some woman of
noble birth officiously holds his spear and the bridles of his horse,
while he dismounts, the rest of the matrons continuing to strike their
lips, and applaud; when the candidate listens to a short address from
the old woman seated on a hide, with as much veneration as if it was an
oracle from a Delphic tripod. Then mounting fresh horses, he rides out
in the same manner as before, first to the South, then to the East, and
then to the West, and after each journey alights at the same tent, where
that Pythian, like a female Apollo, pours forth her eloquence. The four
excursions being performed, and the horses dismissed, they all betake
themselves to that sacred tent, to witness the usual ceremony of the
inauguration. This ceremony consists of three things: first the hair of
the candidate is shaven by an old woman, so that from the forehead to
the back part of the head she leaves a baldness or streak, three inches
wide, which they call _Nalemřa_. The business of the hair being
finished, the old woman pronounces a panegyric, setting forth the noble
actions of the candidate, his warlike disposition, knowledge of arms and
horses, intrepidity in difficulties, the enemies that he has
slaughtered, the spoils that he has taken, the military fame of his
ancestors, and so on; in order that he may appear, on many accounts,
worthy to be declared a captain and a noble warrior, and to enjoy the
rights and privileges of the Höcheri. His new name is immediately
promulgated, and festively pronounced by a band of women striking their
lips with their hands. The male spectators do not like dry ceremonies to
be protracted to a great length, but joyfully fly to skins full of
honeyed liquor, and conclude the business with a famous drinking-match.

It is remarkable that many of the women arrive at this degree of honour,
and nobility, enjoy the privileges of the Höcheri, and use their
dialect. The names of these females end in _En_, as those of the men in
_In_. What circumstances entitle women of low birth to this degree of
honour, I do not know, but it appears to me most probable that the
merits of their parents, husbands, or brothers, not age, or beauty,
bestow this prerogative upon females. I have often heard very young
women conversing in the language of the nobles, and matrons remarkable
for years and wrinkles speaking the vulgar tongue.

The Abipones think it a sin to utter their own name. When either of them
knocked by night at my door, though I asked him a hundred times, "Who
are you?" he would answer nothing but, "It is I." Unknown persons, when
I enquired their name, would jog their neighbour with their elbow that
he might answer for them. It is also reckoned a crime to utter the name
of a person lately dead. If any one in his cups forgets the law, and
utters the name of the deceased, he will give occasion to a bloody
quarrel. Many women have no name at all. When I was making out a list of
the inhabitants of a town, I used to call upon all the men who were best
acquainted with their hordesmen to give me information on the subject,
and when interrogated respecting women, they used often to say: "This
woman has no name."

Moreover, the Abipones change their names as Europeans do their clothes.
The reasons of this alteration are either some famous action, or the
death of a father, son, wife, &c. when all the relations, to signify
their grief, change their old name for a new one. I have known persons,
who, in process of time, changed their names six or more times. Others
are named from some quality of mind or body; as _Kauirin_, lascivious,
_Oaherkaikin_, mendacious. Children have names quite different from
their parents. Amongst the Christian Guaranies, sons generally took the
names of their fathers, and daughters of their mothers. In the third
part of this history, which is yet to come, we shall relate the
slaughters committed, and undergone by the Abipones, the progress and
vicissitudes of the colonies which we founded for them, and the
advantages which the Spaniards derived from those colonies.

                            END OF VOL. II.

                     London: Printed by C. Roworth,
                         Bell-yard, Temple-bar.

                          Transcriber's notes.

1. Variations in hyphenation, accentuation and punctuation have been
retained as they were in the original publication.

2. Variations in the spelling of proper nouns have been retained as they
appear in the original publication.

3. Possible printer and typographical errors have been changed silently.

4. Italicized words and phrases are presented by surrounding the text
with _underscores_.

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