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Author: Waterton, Charles, 1782-1865
Title: Wanderings in South America
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): demerara; guiana; wourali poison; species
Contributor(s): Bullen, A. H., 1857-1920 [Editor]
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 86,174 words (short) Grade range: 12-14 (college) Readability score: 56 (average)
Identifier: etext8159
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Title: Wanderings In South America

Author: Charles Waterton

Release Date: May, 2005  [EBook #8159]
[This file was first posted on June 22, 2003]

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Language: English

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

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

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













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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Grammatici certant, et adhuc sub judice lis est.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

       *       *       *       *       *

_Letter to the Portuguese Commander_


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

Su mas obedeciente servidor,


       *       *       *       *       *


  Incertus, quo fata ferant, ubi sistere detur.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Hic jacet Arturus, Rex quondam Rexque futurus.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Incidit in Scyllam, cupiens vitare Charybdim.

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

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

  Mille trahit moriens, adverse sole colores.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Vestibulum ante ipsum primisque in faucibus aulae
  Luctus et ultrices, posucre sedilia curae.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


_April 6, 1817._

       *       *       *       *       *


  Desertosque videre locos, littusque relictum.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Serius aut citius, sedem properamus ad unam.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Arduus, obliquus, caligine densus opaca,

and this creek was exactly so.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

[Illustration: cayman bait]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Delphini insidens vada caerula sulcat Arion.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Farewell, gentle reader.

       *       *       *       *       *


  Nunc huc, nunc illuc et utrinque sine ordine curro.

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

  The saddle and bridle were laid on the shelf,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  _Victrix_ causa Diis placuit, sed _victa_ Catoni.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Into such beauty spread, and blown so fair.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Sic vos non vobis nidificatis aves.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Incensa Danai dominantur in urbe.

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

  Perdidit infelix, hominis post omnia formam,

and rent the heavens with her howlings,

  Externasque novo latratu terruit auras.

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

  Tum quoque Sithonios, ululavit moesta per agros.

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

  Ipsa Jovis conjuxque sororque,
  Eventus Hecubam meruisse negaverit illos.

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

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

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

  Atque iterum ad Trojam magnus mittetur Achilles.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Urbs augusta potens, nulli cessura.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Dura cutis, per quam spectari viscera possent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Infelix habitum, temporis hujus habet.

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

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

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

  Tantum ne noceas, dum vis prodesse videto.

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

  Icarus, Icariis nomina fecit aquis.

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

  Omnia consulta mente gerenda tegens.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Arduus, obliquus, caligine densus opaca.

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

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

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

  Apparent rari errantes in gurgite vasto.

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

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

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

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

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

Now with St. Domingo as an example before them, how long will it be before
they try to raise themselves into independent states? And if they should
succeed in crushing us in these our last remaining tenements, I would bet
ten to one that none of the new Governments will put on mourning for our
departure out of the new world. We must well remember that our own
Government was taxed with injustice and oppression by the United States
during their great struggle; and the British press for years past has, and
is still, teeming with every kind of abuse and unbecoming satire against
Spain and Portugal for their conduct towards the now revolted colonies.

France also comes in for her share of obloquy. Now this being the case,
will not America at large wish most devoutly for the day to come when
Europe shall have no more dominion over her? Will she not say to us: Our
new forms of government are very different from your old ones. We will
trade with you, but we shall always be very suspicious of you as long as
you retain possession of the West Indies, which are, as we may say, close
to our door-steads. You must be very cautious how you interfere with our
politics; for, if we find you meddling with them, and by that means cause
us to come to loggerheads, we shall be obliged to send you back to your own
homes three or four thousand miles across the Atlantic; and then with that
great ditch betwixt us we may hope we shall be good friends. He who casts
his eye on the East Indies will there see quite a different state of
things. The conquered districts have merely changed one European master for
another; and I believe there is no instance of any portion of the East
Indies throwing off the yoke of the Europeans and establishing a Government
of their own.

Ye who are versed in politics, and study the rise and fall of empires, and
know what is good for civilised man and what is bad for him, or, in other
words, what will make him happy and what will make him miserable--tell us
how comes it that Europe has lost almost her last acre in the boundless
expanse of territory which she so lately possessed in the West, and still
contrives to hold her vast property in the extensive regions of the East?

But whither am I going? I find myself on a new and dangerous path. Pardon,
gentle reader, this sudden deviation. Methinks I hear thee saying to me:

  Tramite quo tendis, majoraque viribus audes.

I grant that I have erred, but I will do so no more. In general I avoid
politics; they are too heavy for me, and I am aware that they have caused
the fall of many a strong and able man; they require the shoulders of Atlas
to support their weight.

When I was in the rocky mountains of Macoushia, in the month of June 1812,
I saw four young cock-of-the-rocks in an Indian's hut; they had been taken
out of the nest that week. They were of a uniform dirty brown colour, and
by the position of the young feathers upon the head you might see that
there would be a crest there when the bird arrived at maturity. By seeing
young ones in the month of June I immediately concluded that the old cock-
of-the-rock would be in fine plumage from the end of November to the
beginning of May; and that the naturalist who was in quest of specimens for
his museum ought to arrange his plans in such a manner as to be able to get
into Macoushia during these months. However, I find now that no exact
period can be fixed; for in December 1824 an Indian in the River Demerara
gave me a young cock-of-the-rock not a month old, and it had just been
brought from the Macoushi country. By having a young specimen at this time
of the year it puts it out of one's power to say at what precise time the
old birds are in full plumage. I took it on board a ship with me for
England, but it was so very susceptible of cold that it shivered and died
three days after we had passed Antigua.

If ever there should be a great demand for large supplies of gum-elastic,
commonly called india-rubber, it may be procured in abundance far away in
the wilds of Demerara and Essequibo.

Some years ago, when I was in the Macoushi country, there was a capital
trick played upon me about india-rubber. It is, almost too good to be left
out of these wanderings, and it shows that the wild and uneducated Indian
is not without abilities. Weary and sick and feeble through loss of blood,
I arrived at some Indian huts which were about two hours distant from the
place where the gum-elastic trees grew. After a day and a night's rest I
went to them, and with my own hands made a fine ball of pure india-rubber;
it hardened immediately as it became exposed to the air, and its elasticity
was almost incredible.

While procuring it, exposure to the rain, which fell in torrents, brought
on a return of inflammation in the stomach, and I was obliged to have
recourse again to the lancet, and to use it with an unsparing hand. I
wanted another ball, but was not in a state the next morning to proceed to
the trees. A fine interesting young Indian, observing my eagerness to have
it, tendered his services, and asked two handfuls of fish-hooks for his

Off he went, and to my great surprise returned in a very short time.
Bearing in mind the trouble and time it had cost me to make a ball, I could
account for this Indian's expedition in no other way except that, being an
inhabitant of the forest, he knew how to go about his work in a much
shorter way than I did. His ball, to be sure, had very little elasticity in
it. I tried it repeatedly, but it never rebounded a yard high. The young
Indian watched me with great gravity, and when I made him understand that I
expected the ball would dance better, he called another Indian who knew a
little English to assure me that I might be quite easy on that score. The
young rogue, in order to render me a complete dupe, brought the new moon to
his aid. He gave me to understand that the ball was like the little moon
which he pointed to, and by the time it grew big and old the ball would
bounce beautifully. This satisfied me, and I gave him the fish-hooks, which
he received without the least change of countenance.

I bounced the ball repeatedly for two months after, but I found that it
still remained in its infancy. At last I suspected that the savage (to use
a vulgar phrase) had "come Yorkshire" over me; and so I determined to find
out how he had managed to take me in. I cut the ball in two, and then saw
what a taught trick he had played me. It seems he had chewed some leaves
into a lump the size of a walnut, and then dipped them in the liquid gum-
elastic. It immediately received a coat about as thick as a sixpence. He
then rolled some more leaves round it and gave it another coat. He seems to
have continued this process till he made the ball considerably larger than
the one I had procured; and in order to put his roguery out of all chance
of detection he made the last and outer coat thicker than a dollar. This
Indian would, no doubt, have thriven well in some of our great towns.

Finding that the rainy season was coming on, I left the wilds of Demerara
and Essequibo with regret towards the close of December 1824, and reached
once more the shores of England after a long and unpleasant passage.

Ere we part, kind reader, I could wish to draw a little of thy attention to
the instructions which are to be found at the end of this book. Twenty
years have now rolled away since I first began to examine the specimens of
zoology in our museums. As the system of preparation is founded in error,
nothing but deformity, distortion and disproportion will be the result of
the best intentions and utmost exertions of the workman. Canova's
education, taste and genius enabled him to present to the world statues so
correct and beautiful that they are worthy of universal admiration. Had a
common stonecutter tried his hand upon the block out of which these statues
were sculptured, what a lamentable want of symmetry and fine countenance
there would have been. Now when we reflect that the preserved specimens in
our museums and private collections are always done upon a wrong principle,
and generally by low and illiterate people whose daily bread depends upon
the shortness of time in which they can get through their work, and whose
opposition to the true way of preparing specimens can only be surpassed by
their obstinacy in adhering to the old method, can we any longer wonder at
their want of success or hope to see a single specimen produced that will
be worth looking at? With this I conclude, hoping that thou hast received
some information, and occasionally had a smile upon thy countenance, while
perusing these _Wanderings_; and begging at the same time to add that:

  Well I know thy penetration
    Many a stain and blot will see,
  In the languid long narration,
    Of my sylvan errantry.

  For the pen too oft was weary,
    In the wandering writer's hand,
  As he roved through deep and dreary
    Forests, in a distant land.

  Show thy mercy, gentle reader,
    Let him not entreat in vain;
  It will be his strength's best feeder,
    Should he ever go again.

  And who knows, how soon complaining
    Of a cold and wifeless home,
  He may leave it, and again in
    Equatorial regions roam.


       *       *       *       *       *


Were you to pay as much attention to birds as the sculptor does to the
human frame, you would immediately see, on entering a museum, that the
specimens are not well done.

This remark will not be thought severe when you reflect that that which
once was a bird has probably been stretched, stuffed, stiffened and wired
by the hand of a common clown. Consider, likewise, how the plumage must
have been disordered by too much stretching or drying, and perhaps sullied,
or at least deranged, by the pressure of a coarse and heavy hand--plumage
which, ere life had fled from within it, was accustomed to be touched by
nothing rougher than the dew of heaven and the pure and gentle breath of

In dissecting, three things are necessary to ensure success: viz. a
penknife, a hand not coarse or clumsy, and practice. The first will furnish
you with the means; the second will enable you to dissect; and the third
cause you to dissect well. These may be called the mere mechanical

In stuffing, you require cotton, a needle and thread, a little stick the
size of a common knitting-needle, glass eyes, a solution of corrosive
sublimate, and any kind of a common temporary box to hold the specimen.
These also may go under the same denomination as the former. But if you
wish to excel in the art, if you wish to be in ornithology what Angelo was
in sculpture, you must apply to profound study and your own genius to
assist you. And these may be called the scientific requisites.

You must have a complete knowledge of ornithological anatomy. You must pay
close attention to the form and attitude of the bird, and know exactly the
proportion each curve, or extension, or contraction, or expansion of any
particular part bears to the rest of the body. In a word, you must possess
Promethean boldness and bring down fire and animation, as it were, into
your preserved specimen.

Repair to the haunts of birds on plains and mountains, forests, swamps and
lakes, and give up your time to examine the economy of the different orders
of birds.

Then you will place your eagle in attitude commanding, the same as Nelson
stood in in the day of battle on the _Victory's_ quarter-deck. Your
pie will seem crafty and just ready to take flight, as though fearful of
being surprised in some mischievous plunder. Your sparrow will retain its
wonted pertness by means of placing his tail a little elevated and giving a
moderate arch to the neck. Your vulture will show his sluggish habits by
having his body nearly parallel to the earth, his wings somewhat drooping,
and their extremities under the tail instead of above it--expressive of
ignoble indolence.

Your dove will be in artless, fearless innocence; looking mildly at you
with its neck not too much stretched, as if uneasy in its situation; or
drawn too close into the shoulders, like one wishing to avoid a discovery;
but in moderate, perpendicular length, supporting the head horizontally,
which will set off the breast to the best advantage. And the breast ought
to be conspicuous, and have this attention paid to it--for when a young
lady is sweet and gentle in her manners, kind and affable to those around
her, when her eyes stand in tears of pity for the woes of others, and she
puts a small portion of what Providence has blessed her with into the hand
of imploring poverty and hunger, then we say she has the breast of a

You will observe how beautifully the feathers of a bird are arranged: one
falling over the other in nicest order; and that where this charming
harmony is interrupted, the defect, though not noticed by an ordinary
spectator, will appear immediately to the eye of a naturalist. Thus a bird
not wounded and in perfect feather must be procured if possible, for the
loss of feathers can seldom be made good; and where the deficiency is
great, all the skill of the artist will avail him little in his attempt to
conceal the defect, because in order to hide it he must contract the skin,
bring down the upper feathers, and shove in the lower ones, which would
throw all the surrounding parts into contortion.

You will also observe that the whole of the skin does not produce feathers,
and that it is very tender where the feathers do not grow. The bare parts
are admirably formed for expansion about the throat and stomach, and they
fit into the different cavities of the body at the wings, shoulders, rump
and thighs with wonderful exactness; so that, in stuffing the bird, if you
make an even, rotund surface of the skin where these cavities existed, in
lieu of re-forming them, all symmetry, order and proportion are lost for

You must lay it down as an absolute rule that the bird is to be entirely
skinned, otherwise you can never succeed in forming a true and pleasing

You will allow this to be just, after reflecting a moment on the nature of
the fleshy parts and tendons, which are often left in: first, they require
to be well seasoned with aromatic spices; secondly, they must be put into
the oven to dry; thirdly, the heat of the fire, and the natural tendency
all cured flesh has to shrink and become hard, render the specimen
withered, distorted and too small; fourthly, the inside then becomes like a
ham, or any other dried meat. Ere long the insects claim it as their own,
the feathers begin to drop off, and you have the hideous spectacle of death
in ragged plumage.

Wire is of no manner of use, but, on the contrary, a great nuisance; for
where it is introduced a disagreeable stiffness and derangement of symmetry

The head and neck can be placed in any attitude, the body supported, the
wings closed, extended or elevated, the tail depressed, raised or expanded,
the thighs set horizontal or oblique, without any aid from wire. Cotton
will effect all this.

A very small proportion of the skull-bone, say from the forepart of the
eyes to the bill, is to be left in; though even this is not absolutely
necessary. Part of the wing-bones, the jaw-bones and half of the thigh-
bones remain. Everything else--flesh, fat, eyes, bones, brains and tendons
--is all to be taken away.

While dissecting it will be of use to keep in mind that, in taking off the
skin from the body by means of your fingers and a little knife, you must
try to shove it, in lieu of pulling it, lest you stretch it.

That you must press as lightly as possible on the bird, and every now and
then take a view of it to see that the feathers, etc., are all right.

That when you come to the head you must take care that the body of the skin
rests on your knee; for if you allow it to dangle from your hand its own
weight will stretch it too much.

That, throughout the whole operation, as fast as you detach the skin from
the body you must put cotton immediately betwixt the body and it; and this
will effectually prevent any fat, blood or moisture from coming in contact
with the plumage. Here it may be observed that on the belly you find an
inner skin, which keeps the bowels in their place. By a nice operation with
the knife you can cut through the outer skin and leave the inner skin
whole. Attention to this will render your work very clean; so that with a
little care in other parts you may skin a bird without even soiling your

As you can seldom get a bird without shooting it, a line or two on this
head will be necessary. If the bird be still alive, press it hard with your
finger and thumb just behind the wings, and it will soon expire. Carry it
by the legs, and then the body being reversed the blood cannot escape down
the plumage through the shot-holes. As blood will often have issued out
before you have laid hold of the bird, find out the shot-holes by dividing
the feathers with your fingers, and blowing on them, and then with your
penknife, or the leaf of a tree, carefully remove the clotted blood and put
a little cotton on the hole. If, after all, the plumage has not escaped the
marks of blood, or if it has imbibed slime from the ground, wash the part
in water, without soap, and keep gently agitating the feathers with your
fingers till they are quite dry. Were you to wash them and leave them to
dry by themselves, they would have a very mean and shrivelled appearance.

In the act of skinning a bird you must either have it upon a table or upon
your knee. Probably you will prefer your knee; because when you cross one
knee over the other and have the bird upon the uppermost, you can raise it
to your eye, or lower it at pleasure, by means of the foot on the ground,
and then your knee will always move in unison with your body, by which much
stooping will be avoided and lassitude prevented.

With these precautionary hints in mind, we will now proceed to dissect a
bird. Suppose we take a hawk. The little birds will thank us with a song
for his death, for he has oppressed them sorely; and in size he is just the
thing. His skin is also pretty tough, and the feathers adhere to it.

We will put close by us a little bottle of the solution of corrosive
sublimate in alcohol; also a stick like a common knitting-needle and a
handful or two of cotton. Now fill the mouth and nostrils of the bird with
cotton, and place it upon your knee on its back, with its head pointing to
your left shoulder. Take hold of the knife with your two first fingers and
thumb, the edge upwards. You must not keep the point of the knife
perpendicular to the body of the bird, because, were you to hold it so, you
would cut the inner skin of the belly, and thus let the bowels out. To
avoid this let your knife be parallel to the body, and then, you will
divide the outer skin with great ease.

Begin on the belly below the breastbone, and cut down the middle, quite to
the vent. This done, put the bird in any convenient position, and separate
the skin from the body till you get at the middle joint of the thigh. Cut
it through, and do nothing more there at present, except introducing cotton
all the way on that side, from the vent to the breastbone. Do exactly the
same on the opposite side.

Now place the bird perpendicular, its breast resting on your knee, with its
back towards you. Separate the skin from the body on each side at the vent,
and never mind at present the part from the vent to the root of the tail.
Bend the tail gently down to the back, and while your finger and thumb are
keeping down the detached parts of the skin on each side of the vent, cut
quite across and deep, till you see the backbone, near the oil-gland at the
root of the tail. Sever the backbone at the joint, and then you have all
the root of the tail, together with the oil-gland, dissected from the body.
Apply plenty of cotton.

After this seize the end of the backbone with your finger and thumb: and
now you can hold up the bird clear of your knee and turn it round and round
as occasion requires. While you are holding it thus, contrive, with the
help of your other hand and knife, by cutting and shoving, to get the skin
pushed up till you come to where the wing joins on to the body. Forget not
to apply cotton; cut this joint through; do the same at the other wing, add
cotton, and gently push the skin over the head; cut out the roots of the
ears, which lie very deep in the head, and continue skinning till you reach
the middle of the eye; cut the nictitating membrane quite through,
otherwise you would tear the orbit of the eye; and after this nothing
difficult intervenes to prevent your arriving at the root of the bill.

When this is effected cut away the body, leaving a little bit of skull,
just as much as will reach to the fore-part of the eye; clean well the jaw-
bones, fasten a little cotton at the end of your stick, dip it into the
solution, and touch the skull and corresponding part of the skin, as you
cannot well get to these places afterwards. From the time of pushing the
skin over the head you are supposed to have had the bird resting upon your
knee; keep it there still, and with great caution and tenderness return the
head through the inverted skin, and when you see the beak appearing pull it
very gently till the head comes out unruffled and unstained.

You may now take the cotton out of the mouth; cut away all the remaining
flesh at the palate, and whatever may have remained at the under-jaw.

Here is now before you the skin without loss of any feathers, and all the
flesh, fat and uncleaned bones out of it, except the middle joint of the
wings, one bone of the thighs, and the fleshy root of the tail. The extreme
point of the wing is very small, and has no flesh on it, comparatively
speaking, so that it requires no attention except touching it with the
solution from the outside. Take all in the flesh from the remaining joint
of the wing, and tie a thread about four inches long to the end of it;
touch all with the solution, and put the wing-bone back into its place. In
baring this bone you must by no means pull the skin; you would tear it to
pieces beyond all doubt, for the ends of the long feathers are attached to
the bone itself; you must push off the skin with your thumb-nail and
forefinger. Now skin the thigh quite to the knee; cut away all flesh and
tendons, and leave the bone; form an artificial thigh round it with cotton;
apply the solution and draw back the skin over the artificial thigh: the
same to the other thigh.

Lastly, proceed to the tail: take out the inside of the oil-gland, remove
all the remaining flesh from the root till you see the ends of the tail-
feathers; give it the solution and replace it. Now take out all the cotton
which you have been putting into the body from time to time to preserve the
feathers from grease and stains. Place the bird upon your knee on its back;
tie together the two threads which you had fastened to the end of the wing-
joints, leaving exactly the same space betwixt them as your knowledge in
anatomy informs you existed there when the bird was entire; hold the skin
open with your finger and thumb, and apply the solution to every part of
the inside. Neglect the head and neck at present; they are to receive it

Fill the body moderately with cotton, lest the feathers on the belly should
be injured whilst you are about the following operation. You must recollect
that half of the thigh, or in other words, one joint of the thigh-bone, has
been cut away. Now, as this bone never moved perpendicular to the body,
but, on the contrary, in an oblique direction, of course, as soon as it is
cut off, the remaining part of the thigh and leg having nothing now to
support them obliquely, must naturally fall to their perpendicular. Hence
the reason why the legs appear considerably too long. To correct this, take
your needle and thread, fasten the end round the bone inside, and then push
the needle through the skin just opposite to it. Look on the outside, and
after finding the needle amongst the feathers, tack up the thigh under the
wing with several strong stitches. This will shorten the thigh and render
it quite capable of supporting the weight of the body without the help of
wire. This done, take out every bit of cotton except the artificial thighs,
and adjust the wing-bones (which are connected by the thread) in the most
even manner possible, so that one joint does not appear to lie lower than
the other; for unless they are quite equal, the wings themselves will be
unequal when you come to put them in their proper attitude. Here, then,
rests the shell of the poor hawk, ready to receive from your skill and
judgment the size, the shape, the features and expression it had, ere death
and your dissecting hand brought it to its present still and formless
state. The cold hand of death stamps deep its mark upon the prostrate
victim. When the heart ceases to beat, and the blood no longer courses
through the veins, the features collapse, and the whole frame seems to
shrink within itself. If then you have formed your idea of the real
appearance of the bird from a dead specimen, you will be in error. With
this in mind, and at the same time forming your specimen a trifle larger
than life, to make up for what it will lose in drying, you will reproduce a
bird that will please you.

It is now time to introduce the cotton for an artificial body by means of
the little stick like a knitting-needle; and without any other aid or
substance than that of this little stick and cotton, your own genius must
produce those swellings and cavities, that just proportion, that elegance
and harmony of the whole, so much admired in animated nature, so little
attended to in preserved specimens. After you have introduced the cotton,
sew up the orifice you originally made in the belly, beginning at the vent.
And from time to time, till you arrive at the last stitch, keep adding a
little cotton in order that there may be no deficiency there. Lastly, dip
your stick into the solution, and put it down the throat three or four
times, in order that every part may receive it.

When the head and neck are filled with cotton quite to your liking, close
the bill as in nature. A little bit of bees' wax at the point of it will
keep the mandibles in their proper place. A needle must be stuck into the
lower mandible perpendicularly. You will shortly see the use of it. Bring
also the feet together by a pin, and then run a thread through the knees,
by which you may draw them to each other as near as you judge proper.
Nothing now remains to be added but the eyes. With your little stick make a
hollow in the cotton within the orbit, and introduce the glass eyes through
the orbit. Adjust the orbit to them as in nature, and that requires no
other fastener.

Your close inspection of the eyes of animals will already have informed you
that the orbit is capable of receiving a much larger body than that part of
the eye which appears within it when in life. So that, were you to
proportion your eye to the size the orbit is capable of receiving, it would
be far too large. Inattention to this has caused the eyes of every specimen
in the best cabinets of natural history to be out of all proportion. To
prevent this, contract the orbit by means of a very small delicate needle
and thread at that part of it farthest from the beak. This may be done with
such nicety that the stitch cannot be observed; and thus you have the
artificial eye in true proportion.

After this touch the bill, orbits, feet and former oil-gland at the root of
the tail with the solution, and then you have given to the hawk everything
necessary, except attitude and a proper degree of elasticity, two qualities
very essential.

Procure any common ordinary box, fill one end of it about three-fourths up
to the top with cotton, forming a sloping plane. Make a moderate hollow in
it to receive the bird. Now take the hawk in your hands and, after putting
the wings in order, place it in the cotton with its legs in a sitting
posture. The head will fall down. Never mind. Get a cork and run three pins
into the end, just like a three-legged stool. Place it under the bird's
bill, and run the needle which you formerly fixed there into the head of
the cork. This will support the bird's head admirably. If you wish to
lengthen the neck, raise the cork by putting more cotton under it. If the
head is to be brought forward, bring the cork nearer to the end of the box.
If it requires to be set backwards on the shoulders, move back the cork.

As in drying the back part of the neck will shrink more than the fore part,
and thus throw the beak higher than you wish it to be, putting you in mind
of a stargazing horse, prevent this fault by tying a thread to the beak and
fastening it to the end of the box with a pin or needle. If you choose to
elevate the wings, do so, and support them with cotton; and should you wish
to have them particularly high, apply a little stick under each wing, and
fasten the end of them to the side of the box with a little bees' wax.

If you would have the tail expanded, reverse the order of the feathers,
beginning from the two middle ones. When dry, replace them in their true
order, and the tail will preserve for ever the expansion you have given it.
Is the crest to be erect? Move the feathers in a contrary direction to that
in which they lie for a day or two, and it will never fall down after.

Place the box anywhere in your room out of the influence of the sun, wind
and fire; for the specimen must dry very slowly if you wish to reproduce
every feature. On this account the solution of corrosive sublimate is
uncommonly serviceable; for at the same time that it totally prevents
putrefaction, it renders the skin moist and flexible for many days. While
the bird is drying, take it out, and replace it in its position once every
day. Then, if you see that any part begins to shrink into disproportion,
you can easily remedy it.

The small covert-feathers of the wings are apt to rise a little, because
the skin will come in contact with the bone which remains in the wing. Pull
gently the part that rises with your finger and thumb for a day or two.
Press the feathers down. The skin will adhere no more to the bone, and they
will cease to rise.

Every now and then touch and retouch all the different parts of the
features in order to render them distinct and visible, correcting at the
same time any harshness or unnatural risings or sinkings, flatness or
rotundity. This is putting the last finishing hand to it.

In three or four days the feet lose their natural elasticity, and the knees
begin to stiffen. When you observe this, it is time to give the legs any
angle you wish, and arrange the toes for a standing position, or curve them
to your finger. If you wish to set the bird on a branch, bore a little hole
under each foot a little way up the leg; and having fixed two proportional
spikes on the branch, you can, in a moment, transfer the bird from your
finger to it, and from it to your finger at pleasure.

When the bird is quite dry, pull the thread out of the knees, take away the
needle, etc., from under the bill, and all is done. In lieu of being stiff
with wires, the cotton will have given a considerable elasticity to every
part of your bird; so that, when perching on your finger, if you press it
down with the other hand, it will rise again. You need not fear that your
hawk will alter, or its colours fade. The alcohol has introduced the
sublimate into every part and pore of the skin, quite to the roots of the
feathers. Its use is twofold: firstly, it has totally prevented all
tendency to putrefaction; and thus a sound skin has attached itself to the
roots of the feathers. You may take hold of a single one, and from it
suspend five times the weight of the bird. You may jerk it; it will still
adhere to the skin, and after repeated trials often break short. Secondly,
as no part of the skin has escaped receiving particles of sublimate
contained in the alcohol, there is not a spot exposed to the depredation of
insects: for they will never venture to attack any substance which has
received corrosive sublimate.

You are aware that corrosive sublimate is the most fatal poison to insects
that is known. It is anti-putrescent; so is alcohol; and they are both
colourless, of course; they cannot leave a stain behind them. The spirit
penetrates the pores of the skin with wonderful velocity, deposits
invisible particles of the sublimate and flies off. The sublimate will not
injure the skin, and nothing can detach it from the parts where the alcohol
has left it. [Footnote: All the feathers require to be touched with the
solution, in order that they may be preserved from the depredation of the
moth. The surest way of proceeding is to immerse the bird in the solution
of corrosive sublimate, and then dry it before you begin to dissect it.]

Furs of animals immersed in this solution will retain their pristine
brightness and durability in any climate.

Take the finest curled feather from a lady's head, dip it in the solution,
and shake it gently till it be dry; you will find that the spirit will fly
off in a few minutes, not a curl in the feather will be injured, and the
sublimate will preserve it from the depredation of the insect.

Perhaps it may be satisfactory to add here that some years ago I did a bird
upon this plan in Demerara. It remained there two years. It was then
conveyed to England, where it stayed five months, and returned to Demerara.
After being four years more there it was conveyed back again through the
West Indies to England, where it has now been near five years, unfaded and

On reflecting that this bird has been twice in the Temperate and Torrid
Zone, and remained some years in the hot and humid climate of Demerara,
only six degrees from the line, and where almost everything becomes a prey
to the insect, and that it is still as sound and bright as when it was
first done, it will not be thought extravagant to surmise that this
specimen will retain its pristine form and colours for years after the hand
that stuffed it has mouldered into dust.

I have shown this art to the naturalists in Brazil, Cayenne, Demerara,
Oroonoque and Rome, and to the royal cabinets of Turin and Florence. A
severe accident prevented me from communicating it to the cabinet of Paris,
according to my promise. A word or two more, and then we will conclude.

A little time and experience will enable you to produce a finished
specimen: "Mox similis volucri, mox vera volucris." If your early
performance should not correspond with your expectations, do not let that
cast you down. You cannot become an adept all at once. The poor hawk
itself, which you have just been dissecting, waited to be fledged before it
durst rise on expanded pinion, and had parental aid and frequent practice
ere it could soar with safety and ease beyond the sight of man.

Little more remains to be added, except that what has been penned down with
regard to birds may be applied in some measure to serpents, insects and
four-footed animals.

Should you find these instructions too tedious, let the wish to give you
every information plead in their defence. They might have been shorter; but
Horace says, by labouring to be brief you become obscure.

If by their means you should be enabled to procure specimens from foreign
parts in better preservation than usual, so that the naturalist may have it
in his power to give a more perfect description of them than has hitherto
been the case; should they cause any unknown species to be brought into
public view, and thus add a little more to the page of natural history, it
will please me much. But should they unfortunately tend to cause a wanton
expense of life; should they tempt you to shoot the pretty songster
warbling near your door, or destroy the mother as she is sitting on the
nest to warm her little ones, or kill the father as he is bringing a
mouthful of food for their support--Oh, then! deep indeed will be the
regret that I ever wrote them.





Acaiari, _the resinous gum of
  the hiawa-tree_.
Acouri, _one of the agutis_;
  a rodent about the size of a rabbit.
Acuero, _a species of palm_.
Aeta, _a palm of great size_;
  it may reach a hundred feet
  before the leaves begin.
Ai, _the three-toed sloth_.
Albicore, _a fish closely related to
  the tunny_.
Anhinga, _the darter or snake-bird_;
  a cormorant-like bird.
Ant-bear, _now called the ant-eater_.
Ara, _a macaw_.
Ara, Scarlet, _the scarlet macaw_.

Bisa, _one of the Saki monkeys_.

Cabbage Mountain, _one of the most
  beautiful of the palm-trees_.
Camoudi, _the anaconda._
Campanero, _the bell-bird._
Caprimulgus, _one of the goat-suckers._
Cassique, _a bird of the hang-nest
Cayman, _an alligator, as here used._
Cotingas, _chatterers._
Couguar, _the puma._
Coulacanara, _the boa-constrictor._
Courada, _the white mangrove tree._
Crabier, _the boat-bill--a small heron._
Crickets, _cicadas._
Cuia, _one of the Trojans._
Curlew, Scarlet, _the scarlet ibis._

Dolphin, _a coryphene--a true fish--not
  a cetacean._

Guana, _the iguana lizard._

Hannaquoi, _one of the curassows._
Houtou, _one of the motmots._
Humming-bird Ara or Karabimiti,
  _the crimson topaz._

Jacamar, _Jacana_, as anglicized--_the
  spur-winged waterhen._

Labba, _a rodent allied to the

Naudapoa, _an ibis._

Patasa, _unidentified._
Phaeton, _the tropic bird._
Pi-pi-yo, _unidentified._
Porcupine, _the tree-porcupine._

Quake, _a basket of open-work, very
  elastic and expansive._

Redstart, _quite distinct from the
  English redstart._

Sacawinki, _one of the squirrel
Sangre-do-buey, _the scarlet tanager._

Tangara, _now called tanager. See

Waracaba, _the trumpeter._
Whip-poor-will, _one of the goat-suckers._
Who-are-you? _one of the goat-suckers._
Willy-come-go, _one of the goat-suckers._
Work-away, _one of the goat-suckers._

Yawaraciri, _one of the blue

Ai, _see_ Sloths
American cities,
  classical names of
American ladies,
  praise of;
  their attire
American manners
Ant-eating birds
  an ingredient of wourali poison;
  nests of
Apoura-poura, River
Ara (macaw)
Arrows, Indian
Arthur, King
  effect of wourali poison on
Aura vulture

Banks, Sir Joseph
Birds, Demeraran;
Blow-pipe, Indian
Bois immortel
Bow, Indian
  encounter with a
Buonaparte, Prince Charles

Camoudi snake
Canadians characterised
  _see_ Goat-suckers
  a diatribe against
  expedition in search of;
  fishing for;
  ridden by author
Constable rock
Coral snake
Coulacanara snake,
  capture of a
  _see_ Bush-master
Curlew, scarlet
Custom House difficulties

  falls of the River
  potentialities of the
_Deserted Village_, Goldsmith's,
  effect of wourali poison on a;
  probably not native to Guiana

Edmonstone, Charles
Edmonstone, Robert
Erie Canal;
Essequibo river;
  falls of the;
  future American independence of

  treatment of
Fish, Demeraran
Fishing, Indian method of,
Forest-trees, Demeraran;
  destruction of North American,
Fort St. Joachim,
  effect of wourali poison on a,
Frigate pelican,

  superstitious fear of,
Grand gobe-mouche,
  future of;
  bird's-eye view of,

  a white,
_History of Brazil_, Southey's,
Horned screamer,
Howling monkey,
  _see_ Monkeys
  journey up the,
Hugues, Victor,

  an Indian,
  mode of life;
  _See also_ Macoushi Indians
  inscription in an,
Insects, Demeraran,
Irish emigrants,

Jay, Guianan,
  expulsion of the,

Kearney, Dennis,
Kessi-kessi paroquet,
King of the vultures,

Labarri snake,
La Gabrielle,
  national plantation at,

  _see_ Tinamou
Macoushi Indians;
  their methods of hunting;
  trick played by one on the author,
Martin, M.,
Mibiri Creek,
Mines in Guiana,
  red, or howling;
  a specimen with Grecian features,
Museum at Philadelphia,

New Amsterdam,
New York,
  Falls of,
Nobrega, Father,

  botanic garden at,
_Ornithology of the United States_,
  a crab-eating,
  effect of wourali poison on an,

Parasitic plants,
Parima, Lake,
Park, Mungo,
Percy, Earl,
Preservation of colours of toucan's bill;
  of quadrupeds;
  of zoological specimens generally;
  of birds,

Quashi, Daddy,
Quiver, Indian,

Red-headed finch,
Red monkey,
   _see_ Monkeys

St. John's,
St. Lucie,
St. Pierre,
Saintes, the,
Savanna, a Demerara,
Slavery in Demerara;
  in West Indies,
  encounter with runaway,
  three-toed, or ai;
Spice plantations,
Spikes, poisoned,
Southey, Robert,
  reflections on,

Tarbet, misadventures of Mr.,
  _see_ Preservation
   _see_ Jaguar
  advice to,
Travellers' tales,

United States,
  progress of the,


Weapons, Indian,
  _see_ Goat-suckers
Wild boars,
Wild man of the woods, a,
Wilson, Alexander,
  treatment of a,
Wourali poison;
  its effects;
  method of using:
  experiments in England,

  the evil spirit,


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