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Alexander von Humboldt: „Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent, during the years 1799–1804. By Alexander de Humboldt, and Aimé Bonpland, &c. &c. London, 1821, 8vo. 2 Vols. pp. 864“, in: ders., Sämtliche Schriften digital, herausgegeben von Oliver Lubrich und Thomas Nehrlich, Universität Bern 2021. URL: <https://humboldt.unibe.ch/text/1821-Personal_Narrative_of-01-neu> [abgerufen am 31.01.2023].

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Titel Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent, during the years 1799–1804. By Alexander de Humboldt, and Aimé Bonpland, &c. &c. London, 1821, 8vo. 2 Vols. pp. 864
Jahr 1821
Ort London
Nachweis
in: The Literary Gazette; and Journal of Belles Lettres, Arts, Sciences, &c. 229 (9. Juni 1821), S. 353–355; 230 (16. Juni 1821), S. 374–376; 231 (23. Juni 1821), S. 389–391; 232 (30. Juni 1821), S. 405–406; 234 (14. Juli 1821), S. 441–442; 242 (8. September 1821), S. 563–565; 243 (15. September 1821), S. 580–582; 245 (29. September 1821), S. 615–616; 248 (20. Oktober 1821), S. 662–663.
Entsprechungen in Buchwerken
Alexander von Humboldt, Relation historique du Voyage aux Régions équinoxiales du Nouveau Continent, 3 Bände, Paris: F. Schoell 1814[–1817], N. Maze 1819[–1821], J. Smith et Gide Fils 1825[–1831], Band 2, S. 304–305, 324–326, 328–329, 331–333, 334–335, 337, 337–382.
Sprache Englisch
Schriftart Antiqua
Identifikation
Textnummer Druckausgabe: IV.15
Dateiname: 1821-Personal_Narrative_of-01-neu
Statistiken
Seitenanzahl: 23
Spaltenanzahl: 28
Zeichenanzahl: 111964

Weitere Fassungen
Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent, during the years 1799–1804. By Alexander de Humboldt, and Aimé Bonpland, &c. &c. London, 1821, 8vo. 2 Vols. pp. 864 (London, 1821, Englisch)
Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent, during the years 1799–1804. By Alexander de Humboldt, and Aimé Bonpland, &c. &c. London, 1821, 8vo. 2 Vols. pp. 864 (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1821, Englisch)
Moschettoes (Musquetoes) of S. America (Washington, District of Columbia, 1821, Englisch)
Savages on the Oronoko (Boston, Massachusetts, 1821, Englisch)
Moschettoes (Musquetoes) of South America (Chillicothe, Ohio, 1821, Englisch)
Moschettoes (Musquetoes) of S. America (Salisbury, North Carolina, 1821, Englisch)
From Humbolt’s Narrative of a Tour on the Oronoko (Amherst, New Hampshire, 1821, Englisch)
Humboldt’s and Bonpland’s Travels (Boston, Massachusetts, 1821, Englisch)
Savages on the Oronoko (Concord, New Hampshire, 1821, Englisch)
Tiger familiarity with infants (Leeds, 1821, Englisch)
Savages on the Oronoko (Danville, Vermont, 1821, Englisch)
Savages on the Oronoko (Woodstock, Vermont, 1821, Englisch)
Savage prejudices (Liverpool, 1821, Englisch)
Musquitos (London, 1821, Englisch)
Opisanie historyczne podróźy Alexandra Humboldta i Emego Bompland do krain międzyzwrótnikowych nowego świata; tomu II, część 2, z cztérma rycinami. Paris chez Maze Libr. 1821 (Vilnius, 1822, Polnisch)
Beiträge zur Naturgeschichte der Mosquitos (Erfurt; Weimar; Leipzig, 1822, Deutsch)
Innocence (London, 1822, Englisch)
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Personal Narrative of Travels to the Equi-noctial Regions of the New Continent,during the years 1799—1804. By Alexander de Humboldt, and Aimé Bonpland,&c. &c. London, 1821, 8vo. 2 Vols.pp. 864.

These volumes, translated by H. MariaWilliams, terminate the second volume(in quarto) of M. Humboldt’s personalnarrative; and belong to a work so univer-sally celebrated, that we need only say,they are, if possible, more thickly studdedwith pieces of valuable information andcurious matter, than the parts which havepreceded them. We never take up Humboldt but he re-minds us of Othello, who
—Spake of most disastrous chances, Of moving accidents, by flood, and field; Of hair-breadth ’scapes— And portance in his travel’s history; Wherein of antres vast, and deserts idle, Rough quarries, rocks, and hills whose headstouch heaven,— And of the cannibals that each other eat; The Anthropophagi, and men whose heads Do grow beneath their shoulders,
he told the marvellous stories. Our au-thor is hardly a trace behind him; and,like the fair Desdemona, we, with greedyear, devour up his discourse; whence,without further preface, we shall now pro-ceed to draw for the benefit of our readers.
The natives near the cataracts or rau-dales of the Oroonoko, up which river M.de Humboldt made his way to a heightlittle known to Europeans, are distin-guished by several remarkable prejudices,among which, none are more fatal thanthose narrated in the following:—“Among the causes of the depopulationof the Raudales, I have not reckoned thesmall pox; that malady which, in otherparts of America, makes such cruel ravages,that the natives, seized with dismay, burntheir huts, kill their children, and renounceevery kind of society.* This scourge isalmost unknown on the banks of theOronoko. What depopulates the Chris-tian settlements is, the repugnance of theIndians for the regulations of the missions,the insalubrity of a climate at once hot anddamp, bad nourishment, want of care inthe diseases of children, and the guiltypractice of mothers of preventing pregnancyby the use of deleterious herbs. Amongthe barbarous people of Guyana, as well asthose of the half-civilized islands of the|Spaltenumbruch|South Sea, young wives will not becomemothers. If they have children, their off-spring are exposed, not only to the dangersof savage life, but also to the dangers aris-ing from the strangest popular prejudices.When twins are born, false notions of pro-priety and family honour require, that oneof them should be destroyed. ‘To bringtwins into the world, is to be exposed topublic scorn; it is to resemble rats, opos-sums, and the vilest animals, which bringforth a great number of young at a time.’Nay more: ‘two children born at thesame time cannot belong to the same fa-ther.’ This is an axiom of physiology ofthe Salivas; and in every zone, and in dif-ferent states of society, when the vulgarseize upon an axiom, they adhere to itwith more stedfastness than the betterinformed men, by whom it was first ha-zarded. To avoid a disturbance of con-jugal tranquillity, the old female relationsof the mother, or the mure japoic-nei (mid-wives,) take care, that one of the twinsshall disappear. If the new-born infant,though not a twin, have any physical de-formity, the father instantly puts it todeath. They will have only robust andwell-made children, for deformities indicatesome influence of the evil spirit Ioloquiamo,or the bird Tikitiki, the enemy of the hu-man race. Sometimes children of a feebleconstitution undergo the same fate. Whenthe father is asked, what is become of oneof his sons, he will pretend, that he haslost him by a natural death. He will dis-avow an action, that appears to him blame-able, but not criminal. ’The poor mure,*he will tell you, ’could not follow us; wemust have waited for him every moment;he has not been seen again, he did notcome to sleep where we passed the night.’Such is the candour and simplicity of man-ners, such the boasted happiness of manin the state of nature! He kills his son,to escape the ridicule of having twins, orto avoid journeying more slowly; in fact,to avoid a little inconvenience.” Amid the prodigality and magnificenceof nature, such are the moral evils whichdeform the scene; and we are often com-pelled to leave the author’s glowing des-criptions of superb landscape in the torridzone, to vex our spirits with similar details.But, the able manner in which distant ob-jects and remote similitudes are brought tobear on almost every subject discussed, isthe great charm of this work; and we haveso vast a quantity of intelligence combinedwith so rich a fund of amusing anecdote,that the mind never tires. It has been|Spaltenumbruch|alleged, that Mr. H. is too prone to thissort of classification, and to theories builtupon it; but however that may be in aphilosophical point of view, as a popularperformance, it wonderfully enhances theattractions of his narrative. He is, intruth, the very Jacques of travellers; andhis way is delectable, “ compounded ofmany simples, extracted from many ob-jects; and, indeed, the sundry contempla-tion of his travels, in which his often ru-mination wraps him in a most humouroussadness.” He morals on every thing; forexample:— “The inhabitants of Atures and May-pures, whatever the missionaries may haveasserted in their works, are not more struckwith deafness by the noise of the greatcataracts, than the catadupes of the Nile.When this noise is heard in the plain thatsurrounds the mission, at the distance ofmore than a league, you seem to be neara coast skirted by reefs and breakers. Thenoise is three times as loud by night as byday, and gives an inexpressible charm tothese solitary scenes. What can be thecause of this increased intensity of soundin a desert, where nothing seems to inter-rupt the silence of nature? The velocityof the propagation of sound, far from aug-menting, decreases with the lowering of thetemperature. The intensity diminishes inair, agitated by a wind, which is contraryto the direction of the sound; it diminishesalso by dilatation of the air, and is weakerin the higher than in the lower regions ofthe atmosphere, where the number of par-ticles of air in motion is greater in thesame radius. The intensity is the same indry air, and in air mingled with vapours;but it is feebler in carbonic acid gas, thanin mixtures of azot and oxygen. Fromthese facts, which are all we know withany certainty, it is difficult to explain aphenomenon observed near every cascadein Europe, and which, long before our ar-rival in the village of Atures, had struckthe missionary and the Indians. The noc-turnal temperature of the atmosphere is3° less than the temperature of the day;at the same time the apparent humidityaugments at night, and the mist that coversthe cataracts becomes thicker. We havejust seen, that the hygroscopic state of theair has no influence on the propagation ofthe sound, and that the cooling of the airdiminishes its swiftness. “It may be thought, that, even in placesnot inhabited by man, the hum of insects,the song of birds, the rustling of leavesagitated by the feeblest winds, occasion,during the day, a confused noise, which weperceive the less because it is uniform, andconstantly strikes the ear. Now this noise,
* As the Mahas in the plaines of the Mis-soury, according to the accounts of the Ame-rican travellers, Clark and Lewis.* In Tamanack mure signifies a child; emuru,a son.
|354| however slightly perceptible it may be,may diminish the intensity of a louder,noise; and this diminution may cease, ifduring the calm of the night the song ofbirds, the hum of insects, and the action ofthe wind upon the leaves, be interrupted.But this reasoning, even admitting its just-ness, can scarcely be applied to the forestsof the Oroonoko, where the air is con-stantly filled by an innumerable quantityof moschettoes, where the hum of insectsis much louder by night than by day, andwhere the breeze, if ever it be felt, blowsonly after sunset. “I rather think, that the presence ofthe sun acts upon the propagation and in-tensity of the sound by the obstacles whichthey find in the currents of air differentdensity, and the partial undulations of theatmosphere caused by the unequal heatingof different parts of the soil. In calm air,whether it be dry, or mingled with vesi-cular vapours equally distributed, the so-norous undulation is propagated withoutdifficulty. But when the air is crossed inevery direction by small currents of hotterair, the sonorous undulation is divided intotwo undulations; where the density of themedium changes abruptly, partial echoesare formed, that weaken the sound, becauseone of the streams comes back upon itself;and those divisions of undulations takeplace, of which Mr. Poisson has recentlydeveloped the theory with great sagacity.It is not therefore the movement of theparticles of air from below to above in theascending current, or the small obliquecurrents, that we consider as opposing bya shock the propagation of the sonorousundulations. A shock, given to the sur-face of a liquid, will form circles aroundthe center of percussion, even then theliquid is agitated. Several kinds of undu-lations may cross each other in water, as inair, without being disturbed in their pro-pagation; little movements may ride overeach other, and the real cause of the lessintensity of sound during the day appearsto be the interruption of homogeneity inthe elastic medium. During the day,there is a sudden interruption of density,where ever small streamlets of air of a hightemperature rise over parts of the soil un-equally heated. The sonorous undulationsare divided, as the rays of light are re-fracted, and form the mirage (looming),wherever strata of air of unequal densityare contiguous. The propagation of soundis altered, when a stratum hydrogen gasis made to rise in a tube closed at oneend above a stratum of atmospheric air;and Mr. Biot has well explained, by the in-terposition of bubbles of carbonic acid gas,why a glass filled with Champagne wineis little sonorous so long as the gas isevolved, and continues to pass throughthe strata of the liquid.” This hypothesis is well worth furtherinvestigations; but we must surrender it tothe scientific journals, and continue ourmore mixed career. “The Indians of Atures,” says Mr. H.,“are mild, moderate, and accustomed, fromthe effects of their idleness, to the greatest|Spaltenumbruch|privations. Formerly, excited to labourby the Jesuits, they did not want for food.The fathers cultivated maize, French beans,(frisoles), and other European vegetables;they even planted sweet oranges and ta-marinds round the villages ; and they pos-sessed twenty or thirty thousand head ofcows and horses, in the savannahs ofAtures and Carichana. They had at theirservice a great number of slaves and ser-vants (peones), to take care of their herds.Nothing is now cultivated but a little cas-sava, and a few plantains. The fertilityof the soil however is such, that at AturesI counted on a single branch of musa 108fruits, 4 or 5 of which would almost sufficefor the daily nourishment of a man. Theculture of maize is entirely neglected, andthe horses and cows have disappeared.Near the raudal, a part of the village stillbears the name of Passo del ganado (fordof the cattle), while the descendants ofthose very Indians, whom the Jesuits hadassembled in a mission, speak of hornedcattle as of animals of a race that is lost.In going up the Oroonoko, toward SanCarlos del Rio Negro, we saw the last cowat Carichana. The fathers of the Observ-ance, who now govern these vast countries,did not immediately succeed the Jesuits.During an interregnum of eighteen years,the missions were visited only from timeto time, and by Capuchin monks. Theagents of the secular government, underthe title of Commissioners of the King, ma-naged the hatos or farms of the Jesuitswith culpable negligence. They killed thecattle in order to sell the hides. Manyheifers were devoured by tigers, and agreater number perished in consequenceof wounds made by the bats of the raudales, which are much less, but farbolder than the bats of the Llanos. Atthe time of the expedition of the bounda-ries, the horses of Encaramada, Carichana,and Atures, were conveyed as far as SanJose of Maravitanos, where, on the banksof the Rio Negro, the Portugueze couldonly procure them after a long passage,and of a very inferior quality, by the riverAmazon and Grand Para. Since the year1795, the cattle of the Jesuits have entirelydisappeared. There now remains in tes-timony of the ancient cultivation of thesecountries, and the industrious activity ofthe first missionaries, only a few trunks ofthe orange and tamarind in the savannahs, surrounded by wild trees. “The tigers, or jaguars, which are lessdangerous for the cattle than the bats,come into the village at Atures, and devourthe pigs of the poor Indians. The mis-sionary related to us a striking instance ofthe familiarity of these animals, upon thewhole so ferocious. Some months beforeour arrival, a jaguar, which was thought tobe young, though of a large size, hadwounded a child in playing with him; I use confidently this expression, which mayseem strange, having on the spot verifiedfacts which are not without interest in thehistory of the manners of animals. TwoIndian children, a boy and a girl, abouteight and nine years of age, were seated|Spaltenumbruch|on the grass near the village of Atures, inthe middle of a savannah, which we haveoften traversed. At two o’clock in the af-ternoon, a jaguar issued from the forest,and approached the children, boundingaround them; sometimes he hid himselfin the high grass, sometimes he sprangforward, his back bent, his head hungdown, in the manner of our cats. Thelittle boy, ignorant of his danger, seemedto be sensible of it only when the jaguarwith one of bis paws gave him some blowson the head. These blows, at first slight,became ruder and ruder; the claws of thejaguar wounded the child, and the bloodflowed with violence. The little girl thentook a branch of a tree, struck the animal,and it fled from her. The Indians ran upat the cries of the children, and saw thejaguar, which retired bounding, without theleast show of resistance. “The little boy was brought to us, whoappeared lively and intelligent. The clawof the jaguar had taken away the skin fromthe lower part of the forehead, and therewas a second scar at the top of the head.” “Among the monkeys,” the authorcontinues, “which we saw at the missionof the Atures, we found one new speciesof the tribe of sais and sajous, which theCreoles vulgarly call machis. It is the ouavapavi with grey hair and a bluish face.It has the orbits of the eyes and foreheadas white as snow, which at first sight dis-tinguish it from the simia capucina, the simia apella, the simia trepida, and theother weeping monkeys hitherto so con-fusedly described. This little animal is asgentle as it is ugly. Every day in thecourt-yard of the missionary it seized a pig,upon which it remained from morning tillnight, traversing the savannahs. We havealso seen it upon the back of a large cat,which bad been brought up with it in fa-ther Zea's house. “It was among the cataracts that we beganto hear of the hairy man of the woods, calledsalvaje, that carries off women, constructshuts, and sometimes eats human flesh. TheTamanacks call it achi, and the Maypures vasitri, or great devil. The natives and themissionaries have no doubt of the exist-ence of this anthropomorphous monkey,which they singularly dread. Father Giligravely relates the history of a lady in thetown of San Carlos, who much praised thegentle character and attentions of the manof the woods. She lived several years withone in great domestic harmony, and onlyrequested some hunters to take her back,‘because she was tired, she and her chil-dren (a little hairy also), of living far fromthe church and the sacraments.” Thesame author, notwithstanding his credulity,confesses, that he had not been able tofind an Indian, who asserted positively thathe had seen the salvaje with his own eyes.This fable, which the missionaries, the Eu-ropean planters, and the negroes of Africa,have no doubt embellished with many fea-tures taken from the description of themanners of the ourang outang, the gibbon,the jocko or chimpanzee, and the pongo,pursued us during five years from the north- |355| ern to the southern hemisphere; and wewere every where blamed, in the most cul-tivated class of society, for being the onlypersons to doubt the existence of the greatanthropomorphous monkey of America.We shall first observe, that there are cer-tain regions, where this belief is particu-larly prevalent among the people; suchare the banks of the Upper Oroonoko, thevalley of Upar near the Lake of Maracaybo,the mountains of Santa Martha and of Me-rida, the provinces of Quixos, and thebanks of the Amazon near Tomependa.In all these places, so distant one from theother, it is repeated, that the salvaje iseasily recognized by the traces of its feet,the toes of which are turned backward. But if there exist a monkey of a large sizein the New Continent, how has it hap-pened, that during three centuries no man worthy of belief has been able to procurethe skin of one? Several hypotheses pre-sent themselves to the mind, in order toexplain the source of so ancient an erroror belief. Has the famous capuchin mon-key of Esmeralda, the canine teeth ofwhich are more than six lines and a half long,the physiognomy much more like man’sthan that of the ourang outang, and which, when irritated, rubs its beard with its hand, give rise to the fable of the salvaje? Itis not so large indeed as the coaita(simia paniscus); but when seen atthe top of a tree, and the head onlyvisible, it might easily be taken fora human being. It may be also (andthis opinion appears to me the most pro-bable), that the man of the woods was oneof those large bears, the footsteps of whichresemble those of a man, and which is be-lieved in every country to attack women. The animal killed in my time at the foot of the mountains of Merida, and sent, by thename of salvaje, to Colonel Ungaro, the go-vernor of the province Varinas, was in facta bear with black and smooth fur.” These extraordinary accounts are suc-ceeded by a detailed history of the Moschet-toes of this region; perhaps the most re-markable of all its animal phenomena. “Persons who have not navigated thegreat rivers of equinoctial America, for in-stance, the Oroonoko and the Rio Magda-lena, can scarcely conceive, how without in-terruption, at every instant of life, you maybe tormented by insects flying in the air,and how the multitude of these little ani-mals may render vast regions wholly unin-habitable. However accustomed you may be to endure pain without complaint, however lively an interest you may take in the ob-jects of your researches, it is impossible notto be constantly disturbed by the moschet-toes, zancudoes, jejens and tempraneroes, thatcover the face and hands, pierce the clotheswith their long sucker in the form of a nee-dle, and, getting into the mouth and nos-trils, set you coughing and sneezing when-ever you attempt to speak in the open air.In the missions of the Oroonoko, in the vil-lages placed on the banks of the river, sur-rounded by immense forests, the plaga delas moscas, the plague of the flies, affords aninexhaustible subject of conversation. When|Spaltenumbruch|two persons meet in the morning, the firstquestions they address to each other are,‘How did you find the zancudoes duringthe night? How are we to day for themoschettoes.’ These questions remindus of a Chinese form of politeness, which indicates the ancient state of thecountry where it took birth. Salutationswere made heretofore in the celestialempire, in the following words, vou-tou-hou, ‘Have you been incommoded in thenight by the serpents? We shall soon see,that on the banks of the Tuamini, in the river Magdalena, and still more atChoco, the country of gold and platina, theChinese compliment on the serpents mightbe added to that of the moschettoes.” Other curious facts are recorded, and il-lustrate this subject. Mr. H. says— “At Mandavaca we found an old mis-sionary, who told us with an air of sadness,that he bad spent his twenty years of mos-chettoes in America. He desired us to lookwell at his legs, that we might be able to tell one day, ‘poor alla (beyond sea), whatthe poor monks suffer in the forests ofCassiquiare.’ Every sting leaving a smalldarkish brown point, his legs were sospeckled, that it was difficult to recognizethe whiteness of his skin through the spotsof coagulated blood. If the insects of the simulium genus abound in the Cassiquiare,which has white waters, the culices, or zancudoes, are so much the more rare;you scarcely find any there, while on therivers of black waters, in the Atabapo andthe Rio Negro, there are generally some zancudoes and no moschettoes.” (To be continued).
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HUMBOLDT’S TRAVELS, (Continued.) Our last number left us in the midst of aswarm of moschettoes, and, however pain-ful it has been to remain a week amongthese pestiferous insects, there we arestill. Proceeding with his anecdotes to il-lustrate their natural history, our authorsays:“I have just shown, from my own obser-vations, how much the geographical distri-bution of venomous insects varies in this la-byrinth of rivers with white and black waters.It were to be wished, that a learned entomo-logist could study on the spot the specificdifferences of these noxious insects, whichin the torrid zone, in spite of their little-ness, act an important part in the economyof nature. What appeared to us very re-markable, and is a fact, known to all themissionaries, is, that the different speciesdo not associate together, and that at dif-ferent hours of the day you are stung by adistinct species. Every time that the scenechanges, and to use the simple expressionof the missionaries, other insects ‘mountguard,’ you have a few minutes, often aquarter of an hour, of repose. The insectsthat disappear have not their places in-stantly supplied in equal numbers by theirsuccessors. From half after six in themorning till five in the afternoon, the air is |375| filled with moschettoes; which have not, aswe find related in some travels, the form ofour gnats, but that of a small fly. They aresimuliums of the family nemoceræ of thesystem of Latreille. Their sting is as pain-ful as that of stomoxes. It leaves a little red-dish-brown spot, which is extravasated andcoagulated blood, where their proboscis haspierced the skin. An hour before sun-set aspecies of small gnats, called tempraneros,because they appear also at sun-rise, takethe place of the moschettoes. Their pre-sence scarcely lasts an hour and a half;they disappear between six and seven in theevening; or, as they say here, after the An-gelus(a la oracion). After a few minutesrepose, you feel yourself stung by zancudoes,another species of gnat (culex) with verylong legs. The zancudo, the proboscis ofwhich contains a sharp pointed sucker,causes the most acute pain, and a swellingthat remains several weeks. Its hum re-sembles that of our gnats in Europe, but islouder and more prolonged. The Indianspretend to distinguish ‘by their song’ the zancudoes and the tempraneroes; the latterof which are real twilight insects, while the zancudoes are most frequently nocturnal in-sects, and disappear towards sun-rise. “The culices of South America, have ge-nerally the wings, corselet, and legs of anazure colour, annulated, and variable froma mixture of spots of a metallic lustre.Here, as in Europe, the males, which aredistinguished by their feathered antennæ,are extremely rare; you are seldom stungexcept by females. The preponderance ofthis sex explains the immense increase ofthe species, each female laying several hun-dred eggs. In going up one of the greatrivers of America, it is observed, that theappearance of a new species of culex denotesthe approximity of a new stream flowingin. “The whites born in the torrid zone walkbarefoot with impunity in the same apart-ment where a European recently landed isexposed to the attack of the niguas or chegoes (pulex penetrans). These animals, almostinvisible to the eye, get under the nails ofthe feet, and there acquire the size of asmall pea by the quick increase of its eggs,which are placed in a bag under the bellyof the insect. The nigua, therefore, distin-guishes, what the most delicate chemicalanalysis could not distinguish, the cellularmembrane and blood of a European fromthose of a Creole white. It is not so withthe moschettoes. “In the day, even when labouring atthe oar, the natives, in order to chase theinsects, are continually giving one anothersmart slaps with the palm of the hand.Rude in all their movements, they strikethemselves and their comrades mechanicallyduring their sleep. The violence of theirblows reminds us of the Persian tale of thebear, that tried to kill with his paw the in-sects on the forehead of his sleeping mas-ter. Near Maypures we saw some young In-dians seated in a circle and rubbing cruellyeach others backs with the bark of treesdried at the fire. Indian women were oc-cupied with a degree of patience, of which|Spaltenumbruch|the copper-coloured race alone are capable,in extirpating by means of a sharp bonethe little mass of coagulated blood, thatforms the centre of every sting, andgives the skin a speckled appearance.One of the most barbarous nations of theOroonoko, that of the Otomacs, is ac-quainted with the use of moschetto curtains(mosquiteros) formed of a tissue of fibres ofthe palm tree, murichi. We had lately seen,that at Higuerote, on the coast of Caraccas,the people of a copper colour sleep buried inthe sand. In the villages of the Rio Mag-dalena the Indians often invited us tostretch ourselves with them on ox-skins,near the church, in the middle of the plazagrande, where they had assembled all thecows in the neighbourhood. The proximityof cattle give some repose to man. TheIndians of the Upper Oroonoko and theCassiquiare, seeing that Mr. Bonpland couldnot prepare his herbal, on account of thecontinual torment of the moschettoes, in-vited him to enter their ovens, (hornitos).Thus they call little chambers, withoutdoors or windows, into which they creephorizontally through a very small opening.When they have driven away the insectsby means of a fire of wet brush-wood,which emits a great deal of smoke, theyclose the opening of the oven. The ab-sence of moschettoes is purchased dearlyenough by the excessive heat of stagnantair, and the smoke of a torch of copal,which lights the oven during your stay init. Mr. Bonpland, with courage and pa-tience well worthy of praise, dried hundredsof plants, shut up in these hornitos of theIndians. “It is difficult not to smile at hearing themissionaries dispute on the size and vora-city of the moschettoes at different parts ofthe same river. In the centre of acountry ignorant of what is passing in therest of the world, this is the favourite sub-ject of conversation. ‘How I pity your si-tuation!’ said the missionary of the rau-dales to the missionary of Cassiquiare, atour departure; ‘you are alone, like me, inthis country of tigers and monkeys; withyou fish is still more rare, and the heatmore violent; but as for my flies, (mia mos-cas) I can boast, that with one of mine Iwould beat three of yours.’ “This voracity of insects in certain spots,the rage with which they attack man,the activity of the venom varying in thesame species, are very remarkable facts;which find their analogy, however, in theclasses of large animals. The crocodile ofAngostura pursues men, while at NuevaBarcelona, in the Rio Neveri, you maybathe tranquilly in the midst of these car-nivorous reptiles. The jaguars of Maturin,Cumanacoa, and the isthmus of Panama,are cowardly in comparison to those of theUpper Oroonoko. The Indians well know,that the monkeys of some valleys can easilybe tamed, while others of the same species,caught elsewhere, will rather die of hunger,than submit to slavery.*|Spaltenumbruch| By this time we fancy our readers areas well acquainted with the habits of themoschettoes, as if they had been bitten bythem all over; and further knowledge beingunnecessary, we shall advance to othersubjects. Above the cataract of Atures, at themouth of the Rio Calaniapo, Mr. Humboldtgives the following account of an extincttribe: “We were shown at a distance, on theright of the river, the rocks that surround thecavern of Ataruipe; but we had not time tovisit the cemetry of the destroyed tribe ofthe Atures. We regretted this so much themore, as father Zea was never weary oftalking to us of the skeletons painted withanotta, which this cavern contained; ofthe large vases of baked earth, in which thebones of separate families appeared to becollected; and of many other curious ob-jects, which we proposed to examine at ourreturn from the Rio Negro.” At Maypure, higher up, we hear more ofthe pottery of the Indians: “In every part of the forests, far fromany human habitation, on digging the earth,fragments of pottery and delft are found.The taste for this kind of fabrication seemsto have been common heretofore to the na-tives of both Americas. To the north ofMexico,—on the banks of the Rio Gala—among the ruins of an Azteck city—in theUnited States—near the tumuli of the Mia-mis; in Florida—and in every place whereany trace of ancient civilization could befound, the soil covers fragments of paintedpottery; and the extreme resemblances ofthe ornaments they display is striking.Savage nations, and those civilized people,who are condemned by their politicaland religious institutions always to imi-tate themselves, strive, as if by instinct, toperpetuate the same forms, to preserve apeculiar type or style, and to follow themethods and processes which were employedby their ancestors. In North America,fragments of delft have been discovered inplaces where lines of fortification are found,and the walls of towns constructed by anunknown nation, now entirely extinct.The paintings on these fragments have agreat similitude to those which are executedin our days on earthenware by the nativesof Louisiana and Florida. Thus too theIndians of Maypure often painted beforeour eyes the same ornaments as we hadobserved in the cavern of Ataroipe, on thevases containing human bones. They arereal grecques, meandrites, and figures ofcrocodiles, of monkeys, and of a large qua-
* “I might have added the example of thescorpion of Cumana, which it is very difficult to|Spaltenumbruch|distinguish from that of the island of Trinidad,Jamaica, Carthagena, and Guayaquil; yet theformer is not more to be feared than the scorpioeuropæus (of the south of France), while thelatter produces consequences far more alarmingthan the scorpio occitanus (of Spain and Bar-bary). At Carthagena and Guayaquil, the stingof the scorpion (alacran) instantly causes theloss of speech. Sometimes a singular torpor ofthe tongue is observed for fifteen or sixteenhours. The patient, when stung in the legs,stammers as if he had been struck with apo-plexy.”
|376| druped, which I could not recognize, thoughit has always the same squat form.” Above Maypure this is indeed a “NewWorld,”: Mr. Humboldt says:— “When the traveller has passed thegreat cataracts, he feels as if he were in anew world; and had overstepped the bar-riers which nature seems to have raised be-tween the civilized countries of the coast andthe savage and unknown interior. Towardthe east, in the bluish distance, appearedfor the last time, the high chain of the Cu-navami mountains. Its long horizontal ridgereminded us of the Mesa of Bergantin, nearCumana; but it terminates by a truncatedsummit. The peak of Calitamini (the namegiven to this summit) glows at sun-set aswith a reddish fire. This appearance isevery day the same. No one ever ap-proached the summit of this mountain, theheight of which does not exceed six hun-dred toises. I believe this splendor, com-monly reddish and sometimes silvery, to bea reflexion produced by large plates of talc,or by gneiss passing into mica-slate. Thewhole of this country contains graniticrocks, on which here and there, in littleplains, an argillaceous grit-stone immediatelyreposes, containing fragments of quartz,and of brown iron ore. “In going to the embarcadere” he con-tinues, “we caught on the trunk of a heveaa new species of tree frog, remarkable forits beautiful colours; it had a yellow belly,the back and head of a fine velvetty purple,and a very narrow stripe of white from thepoint of the nose to the hinder extremities.This frog was two inches long, and allied tothe rana tinctoria, the blood of which, it isasserted, introduced into the skin of aparrot, in places where the feathers havebeen plucked out, occasions the growth offrizzled feathers of a yellow or red colour. But this is not only the region of realwonders; it has its fictions also. “The forests of Sipapo are altogether un-known, and there the missionaries placethe nation of Rayas, who have their mouthin the navel. An old Indian, whom wemet at Carichano, and who boasted ofhaving often eaten human flesh, had seenthese acephali ‘with his own eyes.’ Theseabsurd fables are spread as far as the Llanos,where you are not always permitted to doubtthe existence of the Raya Indians. Inevery zone intolerance accompanies cre-dulity; and it might be said, that the fic-tions of ancient geographers had passed fromone hemisphere to the other, did we notknow, that the most fantastic productions ofthe imagination, like the works of nature,furnish every where a certain analogy ofaspect and form.”
|389|

humboldt’s travels,(Continued.)

We cannot, even in the midst of the in-teresting works which are at present almostdaily issuing from the press, do better thancontinue to devote a page of our Gazette tothe agreeable narrative of this enterprisingand intelligent traveller. In a precedingpaper we have remarked upon the extraor-dinary degree of general knowledge whichhe brings to bear on any topic he is illus-trating. The following is an admirableexample of the truth of this position:“Every hemisphere produces plants ofa different species; and it is not by thediversity of climates that we can attemptto explain why equinoctial Africa has nolaurineæ, and the New World no heaths;why the calceolariæ are found only in thesouthern hemisphere; why the birds ofthe continent of India glow with coloursless splendid than the birds of the hot partsof America; finally, why the tiger is pecu-liar to Asia, and the ornithorhincus to New-Holland. In the vegetable as well as inthe animal kingdom, the causes of the dis-tribution of the species are among thenumber of mysteries, which natural philo-sophy cannot reach. This science is notoccupied in the investigation of the originof beings, but of the laws according towhich they are distributed on the globe.It examines the things that are, the co-existence of vegetable and animal forms ineach latitude, at different heights, and atdifferent degrees of temperature; it stu-dies the relations under which particularorganizations are more vigorously deve-loped, multiplied, or modified; but it ap-proaches not problems, the solution ofwhich is impossible, since they touch the|Spaltenumbruch|origin, the first existence of a germe oflife. We may add, that the attempts whichhave been made, to explain the distributionof various species on the globe by the soleinfluence of climate, date at a period whenphysical geography was still in its infancy;when, recurring incessantly to pretendedcontrasts between the two worlds, it wasimagined, that the whole of Africa andof America resembled the deserts of Egyptand the marshes of Cayenne. At present,when men judge of the state of things notfrom one type arbitrarily chosen, but frompositive knowledge, it is ascertained, thatthe two continents, in their immense ex-tent, contain countries that are altogetheranalogous. There are regions of America asbarren and burning as the interior of Africa.The islands that produce the spices ofIndia are scarcely remarkable for theirdryness; and it is not on account of the hu-midity of the climate, as it has been affirmedin recent works, that the New Continentis deprived of those fine species of laurineæand myristicæ, which are found united inone little corner of the earth in the Archi-pelago of India. For some years past, thereal cinnamon has been cultivated withsuccess in several parts of the New Con-tinent; and a zone, that produces the cou-marouna, the vanilla, the pucheri, the pine-apple, the myrtus pimenta, the balsam oftolu, the myroxylon peruvianum, the cro-tons, the citrosmas, the pejoa, the inciensoof the Silla of Caraccas, the quereme, thepancratium, and so many majestic liliaceousplants, cannot be considered as destitute ofaromatics. Besides, a dry air favours thedevelopement of the aromatic, or excitingproperties, only in certain species of plants.The most cruel poisons are produced in themost humid zone of America; and it is pre-cisely under the influence of the long rains ofthe tropics, that the American pimento, cap-sicum baccatum, the fruit of which is oftenas caustic and fiery as Indian pepper, vege-tates best. From the whole of these con-siderations it follows, 1st, that the New Con-tinent possesses spices, aromatics, and veryactive vegetable poisons, that are peculiarto itself, differing specifically from those ofthe ancient world; 2dly, that the primi-tive distribution of species in the torridzone cannot be explained by the influenceof climate solely, or by the distribution oftemperature, which we observe in the pre-sent state of our planet; but that this dif-ference of climates leads us to perceive,why a given type of organization developesitself more vigorously in such or such localcircumstances. We can conceive, that asmall number of the families of plants, forinstance the musaceæ and the palms, can-not belong to very cold regions, on accountof their internal structure and the import-ance of certain organs; but we cannot ex-plain why no one of the family of melas-tomas vegetates north of the parallel ofthirty degrees, or why no rose-tree belongsto the southern hemisphere. Analogy ofclimates is often found in the two continents,without identity of productions.” Here follow some very curious observationson the difference of colours in rivers, springs,|Spaltenumbruch||390|and lakes; but we must pass them, andfrom the Oroonoko portage our readersacross by Pimichin to the Rio Negro, onthe frontiert of Brazil. Here is seen in allits majesty the phiguao of pirajao palm. “Its trunk, armed with thorns, is morethan sixty feet high; its leaves are pin-nated, very thin, undulated, and frizzledtowards the points. Nothing is more ex-traordinary than the fruits of this tree;every cluster contains from fifty to eighty;they are yellow like apples, grow purple inproportion as they ripen, two or threeinches thick; and generally, from abortion,without a kernel. Among the eighty orninety species of palm-trees that are pecu-liar to the New Continent,” adds Mr. H.,“which I have enumerated in the NovaGenera Plantarum æquinoctialum, thereare none in which the sarcocarp is deve-loped in a manner so extraordinary. Thefruit of the pirijao furnishes a farinaceoussubstance, as yellow as the yolk of an egg,slightly saccharine, and extremely nutri-tious. It is eaten like plantains or potatoes,boiled or roasted in the ashes, and affordsan aliment as wholesome as it is agreeable.The Indians and the missionaries are un-wearied in their praises of this noble palm-tree, which might be called the peach palm,and which we found cultivated in abundanceat San Fernando, San Balthasar, SantaBarbara, and wherever we advanced towardthe south or the east along the banks ofthe Atabapo and the Upper Oroonoko.In those wild regions are we involuntarilyreminded of the assertion of Linnæus, thatthe country of palm-trees was the firstabode of our species, and that man is es-sentially palmivorous. On examining theprovision accumulated in the huts of theIndians, we perceive, that their subsistence,during several months of the year, dependsas much on the farinaceous fruit of thepirijao, as on the cassava and plantain.The tree bears fruit but once a year, but tothe amount of three clusters, consequentlyfrom one hundred and fifty, to two hun-dred fruits.”Here, also, is the gigantic bombax (bom-bax ceila) one of which, as they sailed along,attracted the notice of the travellers, andthey landed to measure it. “The height(we are told) was nearly one hundred andtwenty feet, and the diameter betweenfourteen and fifteen. This enormous effortof vegetation surprised us the more, as wehad, till then, seen on the banks of the Ata-bapo, only small trees with slender trunks,which from afar resembled young cherry-trees. The Indians assured us, that thesesmall trees do not form a very extensivegroup. They are checked in their growthby the inundations of the river; while thedry grounds near the Atabapo, the Temi,and the Tuamini, furnish excellent timberfor building.”Nor is animal inferior to vegetable life.“The river Atabapo displays every-where a peculiar aspect; you see nothing ofits real banks formed by flat lands eight orten feet high; they are concealed by a rowof palms, and small trees with slendertrunks, the roots of which are bathed by|Spaltenumbruch|the waters. There are many crocodilesfrom the point where you quit the Oroonokoto the mission of San Fernando, and theirpresence indicates, as we have said above,that this part of the river belongs to theRio Guaviare and not to the Atabapo. Inthe real bed of the latter river, above themission of San Fernando, there are no lon-ger any crocodiles: we find there somebavas, a great many fresh-water dolphins,but no manatees. We also seek in vainon those banks the thick-nosed tapir, thearaguates, or great howling monkeys, thezamuro, or vultur aura, and the crestedpheasant, known by the name of guacharaca.Enormous water-snakes, in shape resem-bling the boa, are unfortunately very com-mon, and are dangerous to Indianswho bathe. We saw them almost fromthe first day, swimming by the side of ourcanoe; they were at most twelve orfourteen feet long. The jaguars of thebanks of the Atabapo and the Temi arelarge and well fed; they are said, however,to be less daring than the jaguars of theOrinoco.”Thus (as we have stated), interspersedwith anecdote, does Mr. Humboldt vary hisentertaining volumes; and that our reviewmay partake of the character of its subject,we shall conclude the present division of itby copying a very affecting story. Wherethe Atabapo enters the Rio Temi, the nar-rative says:“Before we reached its confluence,agranitic hummock, that rises on the westernbank, near the mouth of the Guasacavi,fixed our attention; it is called the Rock ofthe Guahiba woman, or the Rock of theMother, Piedra de la Madre. We inquiredthe cause of so singular a denomination.Father Zea could not satisfy our curiosity;but some weeks after, another missionary,one of the predecessors of that ecclesiastic,whom we found settled at San Fernandoas president of the missions, related to us anevent, which I recorded in my journal, andwhich excited in our minds the most pain-ful feelings. If, in these solitary scenes,man scarcely leaves behind him any traceof his existence, it is doubly humiliatingfor a European to see perpetuated by thename of a rock, by one of those imperish-able monuments of nature, the remem-brance of the moral degradation of ourspecies, and the contrast between the vir-tue of a savage, and the barbarism of ci-vilized man!“In 1797 the missionary of San Fer-nando had led his Indians to the banks ofthe Rio Guaviare, on one of those hostileincursions which are prohibited alike byreligion and the Spanish laws. They foundin an Indian hut, a Guahiba woman withthree children, two of whom were still infants.They were occupied in preparing the flour ofCassava. Resistance was impossible; thefather was gone to fish, and the mothertried in vain to flee with her children.Scarcely had she reached the savannah,when she was seized by the Indians of themission, who go to hunt men, like thewhites and the negroes in Africa. Themother and her children were bound, and|Spaltenumbruch|dragged to the bank of the river. Themonk, seated in his boat, waited the issueof an expedition, of which he partook notthe danger. Had the mother made tooviolent a resistance, the Indians wouldhave killed her, for every thing is per-mitted when they go to the conquest of souls (à la conquista espiritual), and it ischildren in particular they seek to capture,in order to treat them, in the mission,as poitos, or slaves of the Christians. Theprisoners were carried to San Fernando inthe hope, that the mother would be un-able to find her way back to her home,by land. Far from those children who hadaccompanied their father on the day inwhich she had been carried off, this un-happy woman showed signs of the deepestdespair. She attempted to take back toher family the children who had beensnatched away by the missionary, and fledwith them repeatedly from the village ofSan Fernando, but the Indians never failedto seize her anew; and the missionary,after having caused her to be mercilesslybeaten, took the cruel resolution of sepa-rating the mother from the two children,who had been carried off with her. Shewas conveyed alone toward the missions ofthe Rio Negro, going up the Atabapo.Slightly bound, she was seated at the bowof the boat, ignorant of the fate that awaitedher; but she judged, by the direction ofthe sun, that she was removed farther andfarther from her hut and her native country.She succeeded in breaking her bonds, threwherself into the water, and swam to theleft bank of the Atabapo. The currentcarried her to a shelf of rock, whichbears her name to this day. She landed,and took shelter in the woods, but the pre-sident of the missions ordered the Indiansto row to the shore, and follow the tracesof the Guahibi. In the evening she wasbrought back. Stretched upon the rock(la Piedra de la Madre) a cruel punishmentwas inflicted on her with those straps ofmanatee leather, which serve for whips inthat country, and with which the alcadesare always furnished. This unhappy wo-man, her hands tied behind her back withstrong stalks of mavacure, was then draggedto the mission of Javita.“She was there thrown into one of thecaravanseras that are called Casas del Rey.It was the rainy season, and the night wasprofoundly dark. Forests, till then believedto be impenetrable, separated the missionof Javita from that of San Fernando, whichwas twenty-five leagues distant in a straightline. No other route is known than that ofthe rivers; no man ever attempted to goby land from one village to another, werethey only a few leagues apart. But suchdifficulties could not stop a mother, who isseparated from her children. Her childrenare at San Fernando de Atabapo; she mustfind them again, she must execute her pro-ject of delivering them from the hands ofChristians, of bringing them back to theirfather on the banks of the Guaviare. TheGuahibi was carelessly guarded in the ca-ravansera. Her arms being wounded, theIndians of Javita had loosened her bonds,|Spaltenumbruch||391|unknown to the missionary and the al-cades. She succeeded by the help of herteeth in breaking them entirely; disap-peared during the night; and at the fourthrising sun was seen at the mission of SanFernando, hovering around the hut whereher children were confined. ‘What thatwoman performed,’ added the missionarywho gave us this sad narrative, ‘the mostrobust Indian would not have ventured toundertake. She traversed the woods at aseason when the sky is constantly coveredwith clouds, and the sun during whole daysappears but for a few minutes. Did thecourse of the waters direct her way? Theinundations of the rivers forced her to gofar from the banks of the main stream,through the midst of woods where themovement of the waters is almost imper-ceptible. How often must she have beenstopped by the thorny lianas, that form anetwork around the trunks they entwine?How often must she have swum across therivulets, that run into the Atabapo! Thisunfortunate woman was asked how shehad sustained herself during four days!She said, that, exhausted with fatigue, shecould find no other nourishment than thosegreat black ants called vachacos, whichclimb the trees in long bands, to suspendon them their resinous nests.’ We pressedthe missionary to tell us, whether theGuahibi had peacefully enjoyed the happi-ness of remaining with her children; andif any repentance had followed this excessof cruelty. He would not satisfy our cu-riosity; but at our return from the RioNegro we learnt, that the Indian motherwas not allowed time to cure her wounds,but was again separated from her children,and sent to one of the missions of theUpper Oroonoko. There she died, re-fusing all kind of nourishment, as sa-vages do in great calamities.“Such is the remembrance annexed tothis fatal rock, to Piedra de la Madre.”
|405|

humboldt’s travels,(Continued.)

This journal is so pregnant with instruc-tive and interesting matter, that we couldhardly, as we think, place any thing betterbefore our readers, though we might bemore instant with a greater variety of no-velty. We therefore continue our extracts.The following is a curious account of theIndian Rubber:—“Here (says Mr. H. atthe mission of St. Balthasar on the Atobapo)we saw, for the first time, that white andfungous substance, which I have madeknown by the name of dapicho and zapis.We immediately perceived, that it was ana-logous to the elastic resin; but, as the In-dians made us understand by signs, that itwas found under ground, we were inclinedto think, till we arrived at the mission ofJavita, that the dapicho was a fossil caout-chouc, though different from the elasticbitumen of Derbyshire. A Poimisano In-dian, seated by the fire, in the hut of themissionary, was employed in reducing thedapicho into black caoutchouc. He hadspitted several bits on a slender stick, andwas roasting them like meat. The dapichoblackens in proportion as it grows softer,and gains in elasticity. The resinous andaromatic smell, which filled the hut, seem-ed to indicate, that this coloration is the|Spaltenumbruch|effect of the decomposition of a carburet ofhydrogen, and that the carbon appears inproportion as the hydrogen burns at a lowheat. The Indian beat the softened andblackened mass with a piece of brazil wood,ending in form of a club; he then kneadedthe dapicho into balls of three or four inchesin diameter, and let it cool. These ballsexactly resemble the caoutchouc of theshops, but their surface remains in generalslightly viscous. They are used at San Bal-thasar in the Indian game of tennis, whichis so celebrated among the inhabitants ofUruana and Encaramada; they are cut intocylinders, to be used as corks, and are farpreferable to those made of the bark of thecork-tree.”Soon after, the travellers obtained preciseinformation respecting this substance:—it was shown them at the depth of two orthree feet, in a marshy soil, “betweenthe roots of two trees known by the nameof the jacio and the curvana. The first is thehevea of Aublet, or siphonia of the modernbotanists, known to furnish the caoutchoucof commerce in Cayenne and the GrandPara; the second has pinnate leaves, andits juice is milky, but very thin, and almostdestitute of viscosity. The dapicho appearsto be the result of an extravasation of thesap from the roots. This extravasationtakes place more especially when the treeshave attained agreat age, and the interiorof the trunk begins to decay. The bark andalburnum crack; and thus is effected na-turally, what the art of man performs tocollect in abundance the milky juices ofthe hevea, the castilloa, and the caoutchoucfig tree.”The River Temi, near the banks of whichthis production is found in sufficient quan-tities to supply all Europe, runs throughforests which overshadow it in so wild andluxuriant a manner as almost to mingle to-gether the creatures of the several elementsof air, earth, and water, and realize theclassic images:
Sæculum Pyrrhæ, nova monstra questæ; Omne quum Proteus pecus egit altos Visere montes; Piscium et summa genus hæsit ulmo, Nota quæ sedes fuerat Columbis, Et superjecto pavidæ natarunt Æquore damæ.
“The Indians (says Mr. H.) made usleave the bed of the river; and we went uptoward the south, across the forest, throughpaths (sendas), that is, through open chan-nels of four or five feet broad. The depthof the water seldom exceeds half a fathom.These sendas are formed in the inundatedforest-like paths on dry ground. The In-dians, in going from one mission to another,pass with their boats as much as possibleby the same way; but the communicationsnot being frequent, the force of vegetationsometimes produces unexpected obstacles.An Indian, furnished with a machette (a greatknife, the blade of which is fourteen incheslong,) stood at the head of our boat, em-ployed continually in chopping off thebranches that cross each other from thetwo sides of the channel. In the thickestpart of the forest we were astonished by anextraordinary noise. On beating the bushes,|Spaltenumbruch||406|a shoal of toninas (fresh water dolphins) fourfeet long, surrounded our boat. These ani-mals had concealed themselves beneath thebranches of a fromager or bombax ceiba.They fled across the forest, throwing outthose spouts of compressed air and water,which have given them in every languagethe name of blowers. How singular was thisspectacle in the middle of the land, threeor four hundred leagues from the mouths ofthe Oroonoko and the Amazon! I am notignorant, that the pleuronectes of the At-lantic go up the Loire as far as Orleans; butI persist in thinking, that the dolphins ofthe Temi, like those of the Ganges, andlike the skate (raia) of the Oroonoko, areof species essentially different from the dol-phins and skates of the ocean. In the im-mense rivers of South America, and thegreat lakes of North America, nature seemsto repeat several pelagic forms. The Nilehas no porpoises: those of the sea go up theDelta no farther than Biana and Metonbistoward Selamoun.”But these fishes among the woods, thoughthe most singular, were not the most un-grateful of the animal creation to the startledEuropeans. About this region they had tostop to be cured of an evil under which theysuffered for two days. The author thus des-cribes it:—“We felt an extraordinary irri-tation on the joints of our fingers, and onthe backs of our hands. The missionarytold us it was caused by the aradores,(ploughman insects), which get under theskin. We could distinguish with a lensnothing but streaks, or parallel and whitishfurrows. It is the form of these furrows,that has obtained this insect the name ofploughman. A mulatto woman was sentfor, who boasted of being thoroughly ac-quainted with all the little insects that bur-row in the human skin; the chego, thenuche, the coya, and the arador; she wasthe curandera, the physician of the place.She promised to extirpate the insects, thatcaused this smarting irritation, one by one.She heated at a lamp the point of a littlebit of hard wood, and dug with thispoint the furrows that marked the skin.After long researches, she announced withthe pedantic gravity peculiar to the mulattorace, that an arador was found. I saw alittle round bag, which I suspected to bethe egg of an acarus. I was to find relief,when the mulatto woman had succeeded intaking out three or four of these aradores.Having the skin of both hands filled withacari, I had not the patience to wait the end ofan operation, which had already lasted tilllate at night. The next day an Indian ofJavita cured us radically, and with surpris-ing promptitude.”—The medicament con-sisted of an infusion of shrub called uzao.The annexed notice of the religious opi-nions of the natives has something verysublime in it:—“The nations of the UpperOroonoko, the Atabapo, and the Inirida,like the ancient Germans and the Persians,have no other worship than that of thepowers of nature. They call the good prin-ciple Cachimana; it is the Manitou, theGreat Spirit, that regulates the seasons, andfavours the harvests. By the side of Cachi-|Spaltenumbruch|mana there is an evil principle, Iolokiamo,less powerful, but more artful, and in par-ticular more active. The Indians of theforest, when they visit occasionally the mis-sions, conceive with difficulty the idea ofa temple or an image. “These good people,”said the missionary, “like only processionsin the open air. When I last celebratedthe patron festival my village, that ofSan Antonio, the Indians of Inirida werepresent at mass. ‘Your God,’ said they tome, ‘keeps himself shut up in a house, asif he were old and infirm; ours is in theforest, in the fields, and on the mountainsof Sipapu, whence the rains come.’ Amongthe more numerous, and on this accountless barbarous tribes, religious societies of asingular kind are formed. Some old Indianspretend to be better instructed than othersin what regards the divinity; and to themis confined the famous botuto, of which Ihave spoken, and which is sounded underthe palm-trees, that they may bear abun-dance of fruit. On the banks of the Oroo-noko there exists no idol, as among all thenations who have remained faithful to thefirst worship of nature, but the botuto, thesacred trumpet, is become an object of vene-ration. To be initiated into the mysteriesof the botuto, it is requisite to have puremanners, and to have lived single. Theinitiated are subjected to flagellations, fast-ings, and other painful exercises. Thereare but a small number of these sacredtrumpets. The most anciently celebratedis that upon a hill near the confluence ofthe Tomo and the Guainia. It is pretended,that it is heard at once on the banks of theTuamini, and at the mission of San Miguelde Davipe, a distance of ten leagues. FatherCereso assured us, that the Indians speakof the botuto of Tomo as an object of wor-ship common to many surrounding tribes.Fruit and intoxicating liquors are placed bythe sacred trumpet. Sometimes the GreatSpirit (Cuchimana) himself makes the bo-tuto resound; sometimes he is content tomanifest his will by him, to whom the kee-ping of the instrument is entrusted. Thesejuggleries being very ancient (from the fa-thers of our fathers, say the Indians), wemust not be surprised, that some incredulousare already to be found; but these expresstheir disbelief of the mysteries of the botutoonly in whispers. Women are not permittedto see this marvellous instrument; and areexcluded from all the ceremonies of this wor-ship. If a woman have the misfortune tosee the trumpet, she is put to death with-out mercy.”(To be continued.)
|441|

humboldt’s personal narrative.

M. Humboldt relates some remarkableparticulars concerning the serpents in SouthAmerica, and the following will show to whatperils, from them, the traveller is exposed.On taking up a night’s lodging, we aretold —” Before we took possession of thedeserted hut, the Indians killed two great mapanare serpents. These grow to four orfive feet long. They appeared to me to bethe same species as those I described inthe Rio Magdalena. It is a beautiful ani-mal, but extremely venomous, white belowthe belly, and spotted with brown and redon the back. As the inside of the hut wasfilled with grass, and as we lay upon theground, there being no means of suspendingour hammocks, we were not without in-quietude during the night. In the morn-ing a large viper was found on lifting upfrom the ground the jaguar skin, uponwhich one of our domestics had slept. TheIndians say, that these reptiles, slow in theirmovements when they are not pursued, creepnear a man because they are fond of heat.In fact, on the banks of the Magdalena a|Spaltenumbruch|serpent entered the bed of one of our fel-low travellers, where he remained a part ofthe night, without doing him any harm.Without wishing here to take up the de-fence of vipers and rattlesnakes, I believeit may be affirmed, that, if these venomousanimals had such a disposition for offenceas is supposed, the human species wouldcertainly not have resisted their numbersin some parts of America; for instance, onthe banks of the Oroonoko, and the humidmountains of Choco.” After this the wanderers entered the RioNegro, and the view here taken is bothgeographically good and morally affecting.—“After all we had endured (observes ourinteresting author), I may be permitted,perhaps, to speak of the satisfaction we feltin having reached the tributary streams ofthe Amazon, having passed the isthmus thatseparates two great systems of rivers, andin being sure of having fulfilled the mostimportant object of our voyage, the deter-mining astronomically the course of thatarm of the Oroonoko, which falls into theRio Negro, and of which the existence hasbeen alternately proved and denied duringhalf a century. In proportion as we drawnear to an object we have long had in view,its interest seems to augment. The unin-habited banks of the Cassiquiare, coveredwith forests, without memorials of timespast, then occupied my imagination, as donow the banks of the Euphrates, or theOxus, celebrated in the annals of civilizednations. In that interior part of the NewContinent we almost accustomed ourselvesto regard men as not being essential to theorder of nature. The earth is loaded withplants, and nothing impedes their free de-velopement. An immense layer of mouldmanifests the uninterrupted action of or-ganic powers. The crocodiles and the boasare masters of the river; the jaguar, thepecari, the dante, and the monkeys, tra-verse the forest without fear, and withoutdanger; there they dwell as in an ancientinheritance. This aspect of animated na-ture, in which man is nothing, has some-thing in it strange and sad. To this wereconcile ourselves with difficulty on theocean, and amid the sands of Africa; thoughin these scenes, where nothing recalls tomind our fields, our woods, and our streams,we are less astonished at the vast solitudethrough which we pass. Here, in a fertilecountry adorned with eternal verdure, weseek in vain the traces of the power ofman; we seem to be transported into aworld different from that which gave usbirth. These impressions are so much themore powerful, in proportion as they are oflonger duration. A soldier, who had spenthis whole life in the missions of the UpperOroonoko, slept with us on the bank of theriver. He was an intelligent man, who,during a calm and serene night, pressed mewith questions on the magnitude of thestars, on the inhabitants of the Moon, on athousand subjects of which I was as igno-rant as himself. Being unable, by my an-swers, to satisfy his curiosity, he said to mein a firm tone: ‘With respect to men, Ibelieve there are no more above, than you |442|would have found, if you had gone by landfrom Javita to Cassiquiare. I think I seein the stars, as here, a plain covered withgrass, and a forest (mucho monte) traversedby a river.’ In citing these words, I paintthe impression produced by the monotonousaspect of those solitary regions.” We have now conducted our readers tothe 8th book, and, though this notice isvery brief, find this a convenient place torest for the present.
|563|

humboldt’s personal narrative.Vol. V. Part II.Indian PoisonsFestivalsRoasted MonkeysMusic

A few weeks since, when this addition tothe valuable labours of M. Humboldt appear-ed, we paid it that immediate attentionwhich a work so replete with informationdemanded; and having conducted our read-ers through one of the two 8vo. vols. intowhich it is divided, we left the second for afuture convenient opportunity. That oppor-tunity the autumnal sterility of the press af-fords us, and we return with pleasure to anauthor than whom the present period doesnot possess one more full of entertainmentand intelligence, though addicted in too greata degree to the formation of general sys-tems, and given to too much technicality ofexpression.Without retracing, to connect our state-ments, we will beg our readers to plantthemselves at Esmeralda, on the UpperOroonoko, the most solitary and remoteChristian settlement in those regions. Herethere is a bifurcation of the river, and thegranitic mountain of Duida rises to the heightof nearly 8,000 feet. The mission containsabout eighty inhabitants, and yet no fewerthan three Indian languages are spoken—the Idapimanare, the Catarapenno, and theMaquiritan. “Esmeralda, (says M. H.) is the most ce-lebrated spot on the Oroonoko for the fa-brication of that active poison which is em-ployed in war, in the chase, and, what issingular enough, as a remedy for gastric ob-structions. The poison of the ticunas ofthe Amazon, the upas-tieute of Java, andthe curare of Guyana, are the most deleteri-ous substances that are known. Raleigh,toward the end of the sixteenth century, hadheard the name of urari pronounced as beinga vegetable substance, with which arrowswere envenomed; yet no fixed notions ofthis poison had reached Europe. The mis-sionaries Gumilla and Gili had not beenable to penetrate into the country wherethe curare is manufactured. Gumilla as-serts that ‘this preparation was inveloped ingreat mystery; that its principal ingredientwas furnished by a subterraneous plant, bya tuberose root, which never puts forth leaves,and which is called the root, by way of emi-nence, raiz de si misma; that the venomousexhalations, which arise from the pots, causethe old women (the most useless) to perish,who are chosen to watch over this operation;|564|finally, that these vegetable juices never ap-pear sufficiently concentrated, till a fewdrops produce at a distance a repulsive actionon the blood. An Indian wounds himselfslightly; and a dart dipped in the liquid curareis held near the wound. If it make theblood return to the vessels without havingbeen brought into contact with them, thepoison is judged to be sufficiently concen-trated.’ I shall not stop to refute these po-pular tales collected by Father Gumilla. “When we (he continues) arrived at Es-meralda, the greater part of the Indianswere returning from an excursion which theyhad made to the east beyond the Rio Pada-mo, to gather juvias, or the fruit of the ber-tholletia, and the liana which yields the cu-rare. Their return was celebrated by a fes-tival, which is called in the Mission la fiestade las juvias, and which resembles our harvesthomes and vintage feasts. The women hadprepared a quantity of fermented liquor, andduring two days the Indians were in a stateof intoxication. Among nations that attachgreat importance to the fruits of the palm-trees, and of some others useful for the nou-rishment of man, the period when thesefruits are gathered is marked by public re-joicings, and time is divided according tothese festivals, which succeed one anotherin a course invariably the same. We werefortunate enough to find an old Indian lessdrunk than the rest, who was employed inpreparing the curare poison from freshly-ga-thered plants. He was the chemist of theplace. We found at his dwelling largeearthen pots for boiling vegetable juice,shallower vessels to favour the evaporationby a larger surface, and leaves of the plain-tain-tree rolled up in the shape of our filters,and used to filtrate the liquids more or lessloaded with fibrous matter. The greatestorder and neatness prevailed in this hut,which was transformed into a chemical labo-ratory. The Indian who was to instructus, is known throughout the mission by thename of the master of poison (amo del curare);he had that self-sufficient air and tone of pe-dantry, of which the pharmacopolists of Eu-rope were formerly accused. ‘I know,’ saidhe, ‘that the whites have the secret of fabri-cating soap, and that black powder, whichhas the defect of making a noise, and killinganimals, when they are wanted. The curare,which we prepare from father to son, is su-perior to any thing youcan make down yon-der (beyond sea). It is the juice of an herbwhich kills silently (without any one knowingwhence the stroke comes).’ “This chemical operation, to which themaster of the curare attached so much im-portance, appears to us extremely simple.The liana (bejuco), which is used at Esme-ralda for the preparation of the poison,bears the same name as in the forests of Ja-vita. It is the bejuco de mavacure, which isgathered in abundance east of the mission,on the left bank of the Oroonoko, beyondthe Rio Amaguaca, in the mountainous andgranatic lands of Guanaya and Yumariquin. “The juice of the liana, when it has beenrecently gathered, is not regarded as poison-ous; perhaps it acts in a sensible manneronly when it is strongly concentrated. It|Spaltenumbruch|is the bark and a part of the alburnum,which contains this terrible poison.—Branches of the mavacure four or five linesin diameter, are scraped with a knife; andthe bark that comes off is bruised, and re-duced into very thin filaments, on the stoneemployed for grinding cassava. The venom-ous juice being yellow, the whole fibrousmass takes this colour. It is thrown into afunnel nine inches high, with an openingfour inches wide. This funnel was, of allthe instruments of the Indian laboratory,that of which the master of poison seemed tobe most proud. He asked us repeatedly, ifpor allà (down yonder, that is in Europe) wehad ever seen any thing to be compared tohis empudo. It was a leaf of a plaintain-tree rolled up in the form of a cone, andplaced in another stronger cone made of theleaves of the palm-tree. The whole of thisapparatus was supported by slight frame-work made of the petioli and ribs of palm-leaves. A cold infusion is first prepared bypouring water on the fibrous matter, whichis the ground bark of the mavacure. A yel-lowish water filters during several hours,drop by drop, through the leafy funnel.This filtered water is the venomous liquor,but it acquires strength only when it is con-centrated by evaporation, like melasses in alarge earthen pot. The Indian from time totime invited us to taste the liquid; its taste,more or less bitter, decides when the con-centration by fire has been carried sufficientlyfar. There is no danger in this operation,the curare being deleterious only when itcomes into immediate contact with theblood. The vapours, therefore, that are dis-engaged from the pans, are not hurtful, not-withstanding what has been asserted on thispoint by the missionaries of the Oroonoko.Fontana, in his fine experiments on the poi-son of the ticunas of the river of Amazons,long ago proved, that the vapours risingfrom this poison when thrown on burningcharcoal, may be inhaled without apprehen-sion; and that it is false as M. de la Con-damine has announced, that Indian women,when condemned to death, have been killedby the vapours of the poison of the ticunas. The juice is thickened with a glutinoussubstance to cause it to stick to the darts,which it renders mortal; but taken inter-nally, the Indians consider the curare to bean excellent stomachic. “Scarcely a fowlis eaten (adds our author,) on the banks ofthe Oroonoko, which has not been killedwith a poisoned arrow. The missionariespretend, that the flesh of animals is neverso good as when these means are em-ployed. Father Zea, who accompaniedus, though ill of a tertian fever, causedevery morning the live fowl allotted forour repast to be brought to his hammock,together with an arrow. Notwithstandinghis habitual state of weakness, he would notconfide this operation, to which he attachedgreat importance, to any other person.Large birds, a guan (pava de monte) for in-stance, or a curassoa (alector), when wound-ed in the thigh, perish in two or three mi-nutes; but it is often ten or twelve before apig or a pecari expires.”M. Humboldt does not seem to be ac-|Spaltenumbruch|quainted with any certain antidote, if suchexists, to this fatal poison. Sugar, garlick,the muriate of soda, &c. are mentioneddoubtingly. In London, some very curiousexperiments were tried on animals, some-what resembling those used to restore sus-pended animation by drowning. By keep-ing up a constant motion of the lungs (byinflation with bellows and expiration throughpressure), for many hours, it was supposedthat the creature apparently killed by the cu-rare would revive: we are not informedwhether the operation ever succeeded, butwe believe that several dead horses andasses refused to come to life again! But toreturn to the narrative. “The old Indian, who was called themaster of poison, seemed flattered by the in-terest we had taken in his chemical pro-cesses. He found us sufficiently intelligentto have no doubt that we knew how to makesoap, and, next to the fabrication of curare,this art appeared to him one of the finestinventions of the human mind. When theliquid poison was poured into the vesselsprepared for this purpose, we accompaniedthe Indian to the festival of the juvias. Theharvest of juvias, or fruits of the bertholletiaexcelsa, was celebrated by dancing, and theexcesses of the most savage intoxication.The hut, where the natives were assembled,displayed, during several days, a very singu-lar aspect. There was neither table norbench, but large roasted monkeys, blackenedby smoke, were ranged in order, restingagainst the wall. These were the marimon-des (ateles belzebuth), and those beardedmonkeys called capuchins, which must not beconfounded with the weeper, or sai (simiacapucina of Buffon). The manner of roast-ing these anthropomorphous animals contri-butes singularly to render their appearancedisagreeable in the eyes of civilized man.A little grating or lattice of very hard woodis formed, and raised one foot from theground. The monkey is skinned, and bentinto a sitting posture; the head generallyresting on the arms, which are meagre andlong; but sometimes these are crossed be-hind the back. When it is tied on the grat-ing, a very clear fire is kindled below. Themonkey, enveloped in smoke and flame, isbroiled and blackened at the same time.On seeing the natives devour the arm or legof a roasted monkey, it is difficult not tobelieve, that this habit of eating animals,that so much resemblese man in their physicalorganization, has, in a certain degree, con-tributed to diminish the horror of anthropo-phagy among savages. Roasted monkeys,particularly those that have a very roundhead, display a hideous resemblance to achild; the Europeans therefore, who areobliged to feed on quadrumanes, prefer se-parating the head and the hands, and serveup only the rest of the animal at their tables.The flesh of monkeys is so lean and dry,that Mr. Bonpland has preserved in his col-lections at Paris an arm and hand, whichhad been broiled over the fire at Esmeralda;and no smell has arisen from them after a greatnumber of years. “We saw the Indians dance. The mono-tony of this dance is increased by the wo-|Spaltenumbruch||565|men not daring to take part in it.The men, young and old, form a circle, holdingeach other’s hands, and turn sometimes to theright, sometimes to the left, for whole hours,with silent gravity. Most frequently thedancers themselves are the musicians. Fee-ble sounds, drawn from a series of reeds ofdifferent lengths, form a slow and plaintiveaccompaniment. The first dancer, to markthe time, bends both knees in a kind of ca-dence. Sometimes they all make a pausein their places, and execute little oscillatorymovements, bending the body from one sideto the other. These reeds ranged in a line,and fastened together, resemble the pipe ofPan, as we find it represented in the bac-chanalian processions on Grecian vases. Tounite reeds of different lengths, and makethem sound in succession by passing thembefore the lips, is a simple idea, and has natu-rally presented itself to every nation. Wewere surprised to see with what promptitudethe young Indians constructed and tunedthese pipes, when they found reeds (carices)on the bank of the river. Men, in a stateof nature, in every zone, make great use ofthese gramina with high stalks. The Greekssaid with truth, that reeds had contributed tosubjugate nations by furnishing arrows, tosoften men’s manners by the charm of music,and to unfold their understanding by afford-ing the first instruments for tracing letters.These different uses of reeds mark in somesort three different periods in the life of na-tions. We must admit, that the tribes ofthe Oroonoko are in the first step ofdawning civilization. The reed serves themonly as an instrument of war and of hunt-ing; and the Pan’s pipes, of which we havespoken, have not yet, on those distant shores,yielded sounds capable of awakening mildand humane feelings.” M.H. gives an interesting account of theJuvia, (chesnut-trees,) the harvested fruitsof which cause the natives to rejoice somuch; but there is another tree, the cha-racter of which is still more curious. It isthus described:— “We saw on the slope of the CerraDuida shirt trees fifty feet high. The In-dians cut off cylindrical pieces two feet indiameter, from which they peel the red andfibrous bark, without making any longitu-dical incision. This bark affords them asort of garment, which resembles sacks ofa very coarse texture, and without a seam.The upper opening serves for the head; andtwo lateral holes are cut to admit the arms.The natives wear these shirts of marima inthe rainy season: they have the form of theponchos and ruanas of cotton, which are socommon in New Grenada, at Quito, and inPeru. As in these climates the riches andbeneficence of Nature are regarded as theprimary causes of the indolence of the in-habitants, the missionaries do not fail tosay in showing the shirts of marima, ‘in theforests of the Oroonoko, garments are foundready made on the trees.’ We may add tothis tale of the shirts the pointed caps,which the spathes of certain palm-treesfurnish, and which resemble coarse net-work. “At the festival of which we were the spec-|Spaltenumbruch|tators, the women were excluded from thedance, and every sort of public rejoicing;they were daily occupied in serving the menwith roasted monkey, fermented liquors,and palm cabbage. I mention this lastproduction, which has the taste of our cau-liflowers, because in no other country hadwe seen specimens of such an immense size.The leaves that are not unfolded are con-founded with the young stem, and we mea-sured cylinders of six feet long and fiveinches in diameter. Another substance,which is much more nutritive, is obtainedfrom the animal kingdom: this is fish flour.The Indians in all the Upper Oroonoko fryfish, dry them in the sun, and reduce themto powder without separating the bones.I have seen masses of fifty or sixty poundsof this flour, which resembles that of cas-sava. When it is wanted for eating, it ismixed with water, and reduced to a paste.In every climate the abundance of fish hasled to the invention of the same means ofpreserving them. Pliny and Diodorus Si-culus have described the fish bread of theichthyophagous nations, that dwelt on thePersian gulf, and the shores of the RedSea.”(To be Continued.)
|580|

humboldt’s personal narrative.Dwarf and Fair Indians.Jaguars.TheTomb of a Nation!

THE following extract from our interest-ing traveller refers to a subject of muchremarkable speculation:— “I shall here proceed to give some infor-mation respecting the tribes of dwarf andfair Indians, which ancient traditions placedfor centuries near the sources of the Oroo-noko. I had an opportunity of seeing someof these Indians at Esmeralda, and canaffirm, that the shortness of the Guaicas,and the fairness of the Guahariboes, whomFather Caulin calls Guaribos blancos, havebeen alike exaggerated. The Guaicas,whom I measured, were in general fromfour feet seven inches to four feet eightinches high (ancienct measure of France).We were assured, that the whole tribe wereof this extreme littleness; but we must notforget, that what is called a tribe consti-tutes, properly speaking, but one family.The exclusion of all foreign mixture con-tributes to perpetuate varieties, or the aber-rations from a common standard. The In-dians of the lowest stature next to theGuaicas are the Guainares and the Poi-gnaves. It is singular, that all these nationsare found close to the Caribbees, who areremarkably tall. They all inhabit the sameclimate, and subsist on the same aliment.They are varieties in the race, which nodoubt existed previously to the settlementof these tribes, (tall and short, fair and darkbrown) in the same country. The four na-tions of the Upper Oroonoko, that appearedto me to be the fairest, are the Guahariboesof the Rio Gehette, the Guainares of theOcamo, the Guaicas of Canno Chiguire,and the Maquiritares of the sources of thePadamo, the Jao, and the Ventuari. Itbeing very striking to see natives with a fairskin beneath a burning sky, and amid na-tions of a very dark hue, the Spaniardshave forged two daring hypotheses, in orderto explain this phenomenon. Some assert,that the Dutch of Surinam and the RioEsquibo may have intermingled with theGuahariboes and the Guainares; othersinsist, from hatred to the Capuchins of theCarony, and the Observantins of the Oroo-noko, that the fair Indians are what arecalled in Dalmatia muso di frate, childrenwhose legitimacy is somewhat doubtful.In both cases the Indios blancos would be|Spaltenumbruch|mestizoes, sons of an Indian woman and awhite man. Now, having seen thousandsof mestizoes, I can assert that this com-parison is altogether inaccurate. The in-dividuals of the fair tribes, whom we exa-mined, have the features, the stature, andthe smooth, straight, black hair, which cha-racterizes other Indians. It would be im-possible to take them for a mixed race, likethe descendants of natives and Europeans.Some of these people are very little, othersof the ordinary stature of the copper-co-loured Indians. They are neither feeble,nor sickly, nor albinoes; and they differfrom the copper-coloured races only by amuch less tawny skin.” * * * “These tribes with a fair complexion,which we had an opportunity of seeing atthe mission of Esmeralda, inhabit part of amountainous country, that extends betweenthe sources of six tributary streams of theOroonoko, the Padamo, the Jao, the Ven-tuari, the Erevato, the Aruy, and the Pa-raguay. The Spanish and Portugueze mis-sionaries have the custom of designatingthis country more particularly by the nameof Parima. Here, as in several other coun-tries of Spanish America, the savages havereconquered what had been wrested fromthem by civilization, or rather by its pre-cursors, the missionaries. The expeditionof the boundaries under Solano, and theextravagant zeal displayed by a governor ofGuiana for the discovery of Dorado, re-vived in the latter half of the eighteenthcentury, in some individuals, that spiritof enterprise, which characterized the Cas-tilians at the period of the discovery ofAmerica. In going along the Rio Padamo,a road was observed across the forests andsavannahs ten days journey long, fromEsmeralda to the sources of the Ventuari;and in two days more, from these sources,by the Erevato, the missions on the RioCaura were reached. Two intelligent anddaring men, don Antonio Santos and Cap-tain Bareto, had established, with the aidof the Maquiritares, a chain of militaryposts on this line from Esmeralda to theRio Erevato. They were houses of twostories (casas fuertes), mounted with swivels,such as I have described above, whichfigured as nineteen villages on the mapspublished at Madrid. The soldiers, left tothemselves, exercised all kinds of vexationson the natives (Indians of peace), who hadcultivated spots around the casas fuertes;and these vexations being less methodical,that is to say, worse contrived, than thoseto which the Indians are by degrees accus-tomed in the missions, several tribes formeda league, in 1776, against the Spaniards.All the military posts were attacked on thesame night, on a line of nearly fifty leaguesin length. The houses were burnt, andmany soldiers massacred; a very smallnumber only owing their preservation to thepity of the Indian women. This nocturnalexpedition is still mentioned with horror.Concerted in the deepest silence, it wasexecuted with that concert, which the na-tives of both Americas, skilful in conceal-ing their hostile passions, well know how topractise in whatever concerns their common|581|interests. Since 1776 no attempt has beenmade to re-establish the road, which leadsby land from the Upper to the Lower Oroo-noko, and no white man has been able topass from Esmeralda to the Erevato.”In May, M. Humboldt and his compa-nion left Esmeralda, and proceeded downthe Oroonoko to the point of bifurcation.Here, says the author, “the cries of thejaguars* were heard during the whole night.They are very extremely frequent in those coun-tries, between the Cerro Maraguaca, theUnturan, and the banks of the Pamoni.There also is found that black tiger, ofwhich I saw some fine skins at Esmeralda.This animal is celebrated for its strengthand ferocity; it appears to be still largerthan the common jaguar. The black spotsare scarcely visible on the dark-brownground of its skin. The Indians assert,that these tigers are very rare, never minglewith the common jaguars, and ‘form an-other race.’” Descending still farther down the Oroon-oko, the travellers passed the rivers Cunu-cunumo, Guanami, and Puruname. Here,as elsewhere in Guayana, rude figures, re-presenting the sun, the moon, and variousanimals, are traced on the hardest rocks ofgranite, and attest the anterior existence ofa people very different from those known toEurope as inhabitants of these parts. “The nations of the Tamanac race, theancient inhabitants of those countries, havea local mythology, and traditions which re-late to these sculptured rocks. Amalivaca,the father of the Tamanacs, that is, thecreator of the human race, (for every nationregards itself as the root of the other nations,) arrived in a bark at the time of the greatinundation, which is called the age of water,when the billows of the ocean broke againstthe mountains of Encamarada in the interiorof the land. All mankind, or, to expressmyself better, all the Tamanacs, were drown-ed, with the exception of one man and onewoman, who saved themselves on a moun-tain near the banks of the Asiveru, calledCuchivero by the Spaniards. This moun-tain is the Ararat of the Aramean or Semiticnations, and the Tlaloc or Colhuacan of theMexicans. Amalivaca, sailing in his bark,engraved the figures of the moon and thesun on the Painted rock (Tepumereme) ofEncaramada. Some blocks of granite piled|Spaltenumbruch|upon one another, and forming a kind ofcavern, are still called the house or dwellingof the great forefather of the Tamanacs.The natives show also a large stone nearthis cavern, in the plains of Maita, whichthey say was an instrument of music, thedrum of Amalivaca. We must here observe,that this heroic personage had a brother,Vochi, who helped him to give the surfaceof the earth its present form. The Tama-nacs relate, that the two brothers, in theirsystem of perfectibility, sought at first toarrange the Oroonoko in such a manner,that the current of the water could alwaysbe followed either going down or going upthe river. They hoped by this means tospare men the trouble of rowing in proceed-ing toward the source of rivers; but, how-ever great the power of these regeneratorsof the world, they could never contrive togive a double slope to the Oroonoko, andwere compelled to relinquish this singularplan. Amalivaca had daugh-ters, who had a decided taste for travelling.The tradition says, no doubt in a figurativestyle, that he broke their legs, to renderthem sedentary, and force them to peoplethe land of the Tamanacs. After havingregulated every thing in America, on thatside of the great water, Amalivaca againembarked, and ‘returned to the other shore,’to the same place from which he came.Since the natives have seen the Missionariesarrive, they imagine, that Europe is thisother shore; and one of them inquired withgreat simplicity of father Gili, whether hehad seen the great Amalivaca yonder, thefather of the Tamanacs, who had coveredthe rocks with symbolic figures.”Still lower down the great river, M. Hum-boldt visited the cavern of Ataruipe, ofwhich he gives the following curious ac-count:— “We soon reckoned in this tomb of awhole extinct tribe near six hundred ske-letons well preserved, and so regularlyplaced, that it would have been difficult tomake an error in their number. Everskeleton reposes in a sort of basket, madeof the petioles of the palm-tree. Thesebaskets, which the natives call mapires, havethe form of a square bag. Their size isproportioned to the age of the dead; thereare some for infants cut off at the momentof their birth. We saw them from teninches to three feet four inches long, theskeletons in them being bent together.They are all ranged near each other, andare so entire, that not a rib or a phalanx iswanting. The bones have been preparedin three different manners, either whitenedin the air and the sun; dyed red withonoto, a coloring matter extracted fromthe bixa orellana; or, like real mummies,varnished with odoriferous resins, and en-veloped in leaves of the heliconia or of theplantain tree. The Indians related to us,that the fresh corpse is placed in dampground, in order that the flesh may be con-sumed by degrees; some months after, it istaken out, and the flesh remaining on thebones is scraped off with sharp stones.Several hordes in Guyana still observe this custom.Earthen vases half-baked are found|Spaltenumbruch|near the mapires, or baskets. They appearto contain the bones of the same family.The largest of these vases, or funeral urns,are three feet high, and five feet and a halflong. Their color is greenish gray; andtheir oval form is sufficiently pleasing to theeye. The handles are made in the shape ofcrocodiles, or serpents; the edge is bor-dered with meanders, labyrinths, and realgrecques, in straight lines variously com-bined. Such paintings are found in everyzone, among nations the most remote fromeach other, either with respect to the spotwhich they occupy on the globe, or to thedegree of civilization which they have at-tained. The inhabitants of the little mis-sion of Maypures still execute them ontheir commonest pottery; they decorate thebucklers of the Otaheiteans, the fishing im-plements of the Eskimoes, the walls of theMexican palace of Mitla, and the vases ofancient Greece. Every where a rhythmicrepetition of the same forms flatters theeye, as the cadensed repetition of soundssoothes the ear. Analogies founded on theinternal nature of our feelings, on the natu-ral dispositions of our intellect, are not cal-culated to throw light on the filiation andthe ancient connections of nations.“We could not acquire any precise idea ofthe period to which the origin of the mapiresand the painted vases, contained in the os-suary cavern of Ataruipe, can be traced.The greater part seemed not to be more thana century old; but it may be supposed, that,sheltered from all humidity, under the in-fluence of a uniform temperature, the pre-servation of these articles would be no lessperfect, if it dated from a period far moreremote. A tradition circulates among theGuahiboes, that the warlike Atures, pursuedby the Caribbees, escaped to the rocks thatrise in the middle of the Great Cataracts;and there that nation, heretofore so numer-ous, became gradually extinct, as well as itslanguage. The last families of the Aturesstill existed in 1767, in the time of the mis-sionary Gili. At the period of our voyagean old parrot was shown at Maypures, ofwhich the inhabitants related, and the factis worthy of observation, that ‘they did notunderstand what it said, because it spokethe language of the Atures.’“We opened, to the great concern of ourguides, several mapires, in order to examineattentively the form of the sculls; they alldisplayed the characteristics of the Ame-rican race, with the exception of two orthree, which approached indubitably to theCaucasian.” * * * * “We took several sculls, the skeleton ofa child of six or seven years old, and two offull-grown men of the nation of the Atures,from the cavern of Ataruipe. All thesebones, partly painted red, partly varnishedwith odoriferous resins, were placed in thebaskets (mapires or canastos), which we havejust described. They made almost thewhole load of a mule; and as we knew thesuperstitious aversion of the Indians fordead bodies, when they have given themsepulture, we had carefully enveloped thecanastos in mats recently woven. Unfortu-nately for us, the penetration of the Indians,
* “This frequency of large jaguars is some-what remarkable in a country destitute of cattle.The tigers of the Upper Oroonoko lead awretched life in comparison of those of thePampas of Buenos Ayres and the Llanos ofCaraccas, covered with herds of cattle. Morethan four thousand jaguars are killed annuallyin the Spanish colonies, several of them equal-ling the mean size of the royal tiger of Asia.Two thousand skins of jaguars were formerlyexported annually from Buenos Ayres alone;they are called by the furriers of Europeskins of the great panther.” “Gmelin, in his Synonima, seems to con-found this animal by the name of felis discolorwith the great American lion, felis concolor,which is very different from the little lion(puma) of the Andes of Quito. (Lin. Syst.Nat. vol.i. p. 79. Cuvier, Regnc animal, vol. i.p. 160.)”
|582|and the extreme quickness of their senses,rendered all our precautions useless. Wher-ever we stopped, in the missions of theCaribbees, amid the Llanos, between An-gostura and Nueva Barcelona, the nativesassembled round our mules to admire themonkeys which we had purchased at theOroonoko. These good people had scarcelytouched our baggage, when they announcedthe approaching death of the beast of burden,‘that carried the dead.’ In vain we toldthem that they were deceived in their con-jectures, and that the baskets contained the bonesof crocodiles and manatees; they per-sisted in repeating, that they smelt the re-sin, that surrounded the skeletons, and‘that they were their old relations.’ Wewere obliged to make the monks interposetheir authority, in order to conquer theaversion of the natives, and procure for us achange of mules.
“One of the sculls, which we took fromthe cavern of Ataruipe, has appeared in thefine work published by my old master, Blu-menbach, on the varieties of the humanspecies. The skeletons of the Indians werelost on the coast of Africa, together with aconsiderable part of our collections, in ashipwreck, in which perished our friendand fellow-traveller, Fray Juan Gonzales, ayoung monk of the order of St. Francis.“We withdrew in silence from the cavernof Ataruipe. It was one of those calm andserene nights, which are so common in thetorrid zone. The stars shone with a mildand planetary light. Their scintillation wasscarcely sensible at the horizon, whichseemed illumined by the great nebulæ of thesouthern hemisphere. An innumerable mul-titude of insects spread a reddish light onthe ground, loaded with plants, and re-splendent with these living and movingfires, as if the stars of the firmament hadsunk down on the savannah. On quittingthe cavern, we stopped several times to ad-mire the beauty of this singular scene. Theodoriferous vanilla, and festoons of bigno-nia, decorated the entrance; and above, onthe summit of the hill, the arrowy branchesof the palm-trees waved murmuring inthe air.” (To be Continued.)
|615|

humboldt’s personal narrative.Dirt Eaters.

THE inhabitants of Uruana, belong tothose nations of the savannahs (Indios andantes,)who, more difficult to civilize than the nationsof the forest, (Indios del monte,) have a de-cided aversion to cultivate the land, andlive almost exclusively on hunting and fish-ing. They are men of very robust con-stitution; but ugly, savage, vindictive, andpassionately fond of fermented liquors.They are omnivorous animals in the highestdegree; and therefore the other Indians,who consider them as barbarians, have acommon saying, ‘nothing is so disgustingthat an Otomac will not eat it.’ While thewaters of the Oroonoko and its tributarystreams are low, the Otomacs subsist onfish and turtles. The former they kill withsurprising dexterity, by shooting them withan arrow, when they appear at the surfaceof the water. When the rivers swell, whichin South America, as well as in Egypt andin Nubia, is erroneously attributed to themelting of the snows, and which occursperiodically in every part of the torrid zone,fishing almost entirely ceases. It is thenas difficult to procure fish in the riverswhich are become deeper, as when you aresailing on the open sea. It often fails thepoor missionaries, on fast-days as well asflesh-days, though all the young Indians areunder the obligation of ‘fishing for the con-vent.’ At the period of these inundations,which last two or three months, the Oto-macs swallow a prodigious quantity ofearth. We found heaps of balls in theirhuts, piled up in pyramids three or four feethigh. These balls were five or six inchesin diameter. The earth which the Otomacseat is a very fine and unctuous clay, of ayellowish grey colour; and, being slightlybaked in the fire, the hardened crust has atint inclining to red, owing to the oxid ofiron which is mingled with it. We broughtaway some of this earth, which we tookfrom the winter provision of the Indians;and it is absolutely false, that it is steatitic,and contains magnesia. Mr. Vauquelindid not discover any traces of this earth init; but he found that it contained moresilex than alumin, and three or four percent of lime. “The Otomacs do not eat every kind ofclay indifferently; they choose the alluvialbeds or strata that contain the most unctuousearth, and the smoothest to the feel. I in-quired of the missionary, whether the moist-ened clay were made to undergo, as FatherGumilla asserts, that peculiar decomposi-tion, which is indicated by a disengagementof carbonic acid and sulphuretted hydrogen,and which is designated in every languageby the term of putrefaction; but he assuredus, that the natives neither cause the clay|Spaltenumbruch|to rot, nor do they mingle it with flour ofmaize, oil of turtles’ eggs, or fat of the cro-codile. We ourselves examined, both atthe Oroonoko and after our return to Paris,the balls of earth which we brought awaywith us, and found no trace of the mixtureof any organic substance, whether oily orfarinaceous. The savage regards everything as nourishing that appeases hunger;when, therefore, you inquire of an Otomacon what he subsists during the two monthswhen the river is the highest, he shows youhis balls of clayey earth. This he calls hisprincipal food; for all this period he canseldom procure a lizard, a root of fern,or a dead fish swimming at the surface ofthe water. If the Indian eat earth from wantduring two months, (and from three quar-ters to five quarters of a pound in twenty-four hours,) he does not the less regale him-self with it during the rest of the year.Every day in the season of drought, whenfishing is most abundant, he scrapes hisballs of poya, and mingles a little clay withhis other aliment. What is most surprisingis, that the Otomacs do not become lean byswallowing such quantities of earth; theyare, on the contrary, extremely robust, andfar from having the belly tense and puffedup. The missionary Fray Ramon Buenoasserts, that he never remarked any altera-tion in the health of the natives at the pe-riod of the great risings of the Oroonoko. “The following are the facts in all theirsimplicity, which we were able to verify.The Otomacs during some months, eatdaily three quarters of a pound of clayslightly hardened by fire, without their healthbeing sensibly affected by it. They moistenthe earth afresh when they are going toswallow it. It has not been possible toverify hitherto with precision how muchnutritious vegetable or animal matterthe Indians take in a week at the sametime; but it is certain that they attri-bute the sensation of satiety which theyfeel, to the clay, and not to the wretchedaliments which they take with it occa-sionally. No physiological phenomenonbeing entirely insulated, it may be interest-ing to examine several analogous pheno-mena, which I have been able to collect. “I observed every where within thetorrid zone, in a great number of indivi-duals, children, women, and sometimeseven full-grown men, an inordinate andalmost irresistible desire of swallowingearth; not an alkaline or calcareous earth,to neutralize (as it is vulgarly said) acidjuices, but a fat clay, unctuous, and exhal-ing a strong smell. It is often found ne-cessary to tie the childrens’ hands, or toconfine them, to prevent their eating earth,when the rain ceases to fall. At the villageof Banco, on the bank of the river Magda-lena, I saw the Indian women who makepottery continually swallowing great piecesof clay.” The author goes at some length intoanalogies and reasoning on them, but weconfine our quotation principally to thefacts. “The negroes on the coast of Guinea de-light in eating a yellowish earth, which they|Spaltenumbruch|call caouac. The slaves who are taken toAmerica try to procure for themselves thesame enjoyment; but it is constantly detri-mental to their health. They say, ‘thatthe earth of the West Indies is not so easyof digestion as that of their country.’”* * * * * “In the Indian Archipelago, at theisland of Java, Mr. Labillardière saw, be-tween Surabaya and Samarang, little squareand reddish cakes exposed to sale. Thesecakes, called tanaampo, were cakes of clay,slightly baked, which the natives eat withappetite. The attention of physiologists,since my return from the Oroonoko, havingbeen powerfully fixed on these phenomenaof geophagy, Mr. Leschenault, (one of thenaturalists of the expedition to the South-ern Lands under the command of CaptainBaudin) has published some curious detailson the tanaampo, or ampo, of the Javanese.‘The reddish and somewhat ferruginousclay,’he says*, ‘which the inhabitants ofJava are fond of eating occasionally, isspread on a plate of iron, and baked, afterhaving been rolled into little cylinders inthe form of the bark of cinnamon. In thisstate it takes the name of ampo, and is soldin the public markets. This clay has a pe-culiar taste, which is owing to the torrefac-tion; it is very absorbent, and adheresto the tongue, which it dries. In generalit is only the Javanese women who eat theampo, either in the time of their pregnancy,or in order to grow thin; the want ofplumpness being a kind of beauty in thiscountry. The use of this earth is fatal tohealth; the women lose their appetite im-perceptibly, and no longer take withoutdisgust a very small quantity of food: butthe desire of becoming lean, and of pre-serving a slender shape, can brave thesedangers, and maintains the credit of theampo.’ The savageinhabitants of NewCaledonia also, to appease their hunger intimes of scarcity, eat great pieces of afriable lapis ollaris. Mr. Vauquelin ana-lysed this stone, and found in it, besidemagnesia and silex in equal portions, a smallquantity of oxid of copper. Mr. Goldberryhad seen the negroes in Africa, in theislands of Bunck and Los Idolos, eat anearth of which he had himself eaten, with-out being incommoded by it, and whichalso was a white and friable steatite.* * * * * “When we reflect on the whole of thesefacts, we perceive that this disorderly ap-petite for clayey, magnesian, and calcare-ous earth, is most common among the peopleof the torrid zone; that it is not always acause of disease; and that some tribes eatearth from choice, while others (the Oto-macs in America, and the inhabitants ofNew Caledonia, in the Pacific Ocean,) eatit from want, and to appease hunger.”* * * * *
* “Letter from Mr. Leschenault to Mr. deHumboldt on the Kind of Earth which is eatenat Java. (See Tableaux de la Nature, vol. i.p. 209.)”Labillardière, vol. ii. p. 205.” “Goldberry, Voyage en Afrique, vol. ii.p. 455.”
|616| “The observations, which I made on thebanks of the Oroonoko, have been recentlyconfirmed by the direct experiments of twodistinguished young physiologists, Messrs.Hippolyte Cloquet and Breschet. Afterlong fasting, they ate as much as fiveounces of a silvery green and very fiexiblelaminar talc. Their hunger was completelysatisfied, and they felt no inconveniencefrom a kind of food, to which their organswere unaccustomed. It is known, thatgreat use is still made in the East of thebolar and sigillated earths of Lemnos,which are clay mingled with oxid of iron.In Germany, the workmen employed in thequarries of sandstone worked at the moun-tain of Kiffhæuser spread a very fine clayupon their bread, instead of butter, whichthey call steinbutter*, stone butter; andthey find it singularly filling, and easy ofdigestion.”

* “This steinbutter must not be confoundedwith the mountain butter, bergbutter, which isa saline substance, owing to a decomposition ofaluminous schists.”Freiesleben, Kupferschiefer, vol. iv.p. 118. Kesler, in Gilbert’s Annalen, B. 28,p. 492.”
|662|

humboldt’s personal narrative(Concluded.) Stories of Crocodiles.

Our latter extracts from this publicationhave been as desultory as the curious na-ture of the author’s inquiries seemed to re-quire, without servilely following himthrough all his topographical details, andphilosophical generalizations. In the samespirit, we shall now conclude our notice ofthese volumes with a brief sequel relatingto the crocodiles of the Oroonoko. “When the waters (says Mr. H.) arehigh, the river inundates the keys; and itsometimes happens, that even in the townimprudent men become the prey of croco-diles. I shall transcribe from my journal afact, that took place during Mr. Bonpland’sillness. A Guaykeri Indian, from the islandde la Margaretta, went to anchor his canoein a cove, where there were not three feetof water. A very fierce crocodile, that ha-bitually haunted that spot, seized him bythe leg, and withdrew from the shore, re-maining on the surface of the water. The|Spaltenumbruch|cries of the Indian drew together a crowdof spectators. This unfortunate man wasfirst seen seeking with astonishing couragefor a knife in the pocket of his pantaloons.Not being able to find it, he seized the headof the crocodile, and thrust his fingers intoits eyes. No man in the hot regions ofAmerica is ignorant, that this carnivorousreptile, covered with a buckler of hard anddry scales, is extremely sensible in the onlyparts of his body which are soft and unpro-tected, such as the eyes, the hollow under-neath the shoulders, the nostrils, and be-neath the lower jaw, where there are twoglands of musk. The Guaykeri Indian hadrecourse to the same means which savedthe negro of Mungo Park, and the girl ofUritucu, whom I have mentioned above;but he was less fortunate than they hadbeen, for the crocodile did not open itsjaws, and lose hold of its prey. The ani-mal, yielding to the pain, plunged to thebottom of the river; and, after havingdrowned the Indian, came up to the surfaceof the water, dragging the dead body to anisland opposite the port. I arrived at themoment when a great number of the inha-bitants of Angostura had witnessed this me-lancholy spectacle. “As the crocodile, on account of thestructure of its larynx, of the hyoid bone,and of the folds of its tongue, can seize,though not swallow, its prey under water;a man seldom disappears without the ani-mal being perceived some hours after nearthe spot where the misfortune has happened,devouring its prey on a neighbouring beach.The number of individuals who perish an-nually, the victims of their own imprudenceand of the ferocity of these reptiles, is muchgreater than it is believed to be in Europe.It is particularly so in villages, where the neighbouring grounds are often inundated.The same crocodiles remain long in thesame places. They become from year toyear more daring, especially, as the Indiansassert, if they have once tasted of humanflesh. These animals are so wary, that theyare killed with difficulty. A ball does notpierce their skin, and the shot is only mor-tal when directed at the throat, or beneaththe shoulder. The Indians, who knowlittle of the use of fire-arms, attack the cro-codile with lances, after it is caught withlarge pointed iron hooks, baited with piecesof meat, and fastened by a chain to thetrunk of a tree. They do not approach theanimal till it has struggled a long time todisengage itself from the iron fixed in theupper jaw. There is little probability thata country in which a labyrinth of riverswithout number brings every day new bandsof crocodiles from the eastern back of theAndes, by the Meta and the Apure, towardsthe coast of Spanish Guyana, should everbe delivered from these reptiles. All thatwill be gained by civilization will be, torender them more timid, and more easilyput to flight. “Affecting instances are related of Afri-can slaves, who have exposed their livesto save those of their masters, who hadfallen into the jaws of the crocodile. A fewyears ago, between Uritucu and the Mission |663| |Spaltenumbruch| de Abaxo, a negro, hearing the cries of hismaster, flew to the spot, armed with a longknife, (machette,) and plunged into theriver. He forced the crocodile, by puttingout his eyes, to let go his prey, and hidehimself under the water. The slave borehis expiring master to the shore, but allsuccour was unavailing to restore him tolife. He died of suffocation, for his woundswere not deep; the crocodile, like thedog, appears not to close its jaws firmlywhile swimming. It is almost superfluousto add, that the children of the deceased,though poor, gave the slave his freedom.” Upon the whole, this portion of Mr.Humboldt’s work is equally entertainingwith what has gone before, and throwsmuch light on Physics and Geography.