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Full text of "A statistical, commercial, and political description of Venezuela, Trinidad, Margarita, and Tobago: containing various anecdotes and observations, illustrative of the past and present state of these interesting countries; from the French of M. Lavaysse: with an introduction and explanatory notes, by the editor [Edward Blaquière]"

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JUL 9' - 1908 

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Farfous gtitefrotes aritt (©bsttbatfons; 



< Boxtf6urn_. 



Hie patet ingeniis oampus : certusque merenti 

Stat favor : ornatur propriis industria donis !— Claudia*. 

«* I lea?e to your sovereign authority the reform or repeal of all my 
ordinances, statutes, and decrees; bat I implore you to confibm thr com- 


Installation Speech qf General Bohiv ah, Feb. IStk, 1810. 



Har/srd Goiu».„* njcb>iy 

Api 4 iocs. 

G.ft of 

Eram Eingh . r 
New H .-.van 

W. 8hack»ll, Printer, 

Ffettotrwt, Lotto. 



4" c * fa* 

My dear General, 

Had a personal visit to the 
wonderful regions of which the following 
pages treat, put it in my power to submit to 
the public the result of my inquiries, in an 
original work, the friendly regard with which 
you honour me, might, perhaps, dispose you 
to receive my humble efforts as an author 
with a more partial but less merited indul- 
gence; I feel persuaded, howeyer, that in 
requesting your permission to inscribe the 
first English edition of M. Lavaysse's per- 
formance with your name, I shall not only 
contribute, in a far greater degree, to the . 
introduction among oar countrymen of a just 
notion respecting the moral and political 


condition of Venezuela, but also lend a still 
more effectual aid to the great cause, to which 
you have so generously dedicated your splen- 
did talents, and the whole of a considerable 

It having been my object in the few re- 
marks which are prefixed to the translation, 
to demonstrate,- with what a capricious de- 
viation from the true principles of a sound 
policv, and how little consonant with the 
characteristic liberality and well known feel- 
ings of the British nation, is the suspicious 
neutrality to which ministers profess their 
determination to adhere, whilst the contest 
between the brave, but much enduring peo- 
ple of Spanish America, and their imbecile 
though remorseless oppressors continues un- 
decided ; I will not presume to detain you 
here with any, on a subject of such various 
and complicated bearings, but beg leave to 
tender you the tribute of my sincere and 
fervent admiration at your glorious reso- 
lution to unite your political destiny to that 
of a Bolivar, who, in sacrificing a large 
patrimony on the altar of his country's free- 
dom, and in spontaneously liberating fifteen 


hundred slaves on his own extensive estates, 
has held out a sublime example to the 
Patriots of every country, and transcended 
the illustrious Washington, not less in 
genuine philanthropy, than in disinterested 

In full confidence that the gallant and 
well appointed band which has recently left 
oar shores, will, under your skilful auspices, 
insure to the standard of the Independents 
an increase to that long series of brilliant 
victories which has already crowned their 
arms ; and with every heartfelt wish that, in 
witnessing the early accomplishment of the 
benevolent designs of a gracious Providence 
in favour of the new world, you may reap 
the appropriate reward of your noble enthu- 
siasm and magnanimous self-devotion, 

I have the honour to be 

Your very affectionate friend, 
And ever devoted servant, 


Nottmbtr 15**, 1819. 

*' *• i* 


Amongst those who have described that portion 
of Spanish South America, which has recently 
become the theatre of such agitating and important 
scenes, few had better opportunities of prosecut- 
ing inquiries connected with the political economy 
and commercial resources of Venezuela and the 
islands in its vicinity, than M. Lavaysse, who 
resided fifteen years in the West Indies, and was 
latterly a landed proprietor at Trinidad, whence 
he paid frequent visits to the opposite continent. 

A desire of rendering the work more accept- 
able to his English readers, has induced the Edi- 
tor to make some trifling change in the original 
arrangement, and also to omit those passages 
which were either irrelevant to the main object, 
or only calculated to swell out the volume to an 
unnecessary size. Of these omissions, the author's 
account of the unfortunate transactions which 
occurred at Trinidad, from the period of its cap- 
ture in 1797, until the removal of Sir Thomas 
Picton, is the only one worthy of being noticed 
in this place ; and of them it is scarcely requisite 
to say, that having been discussed to satiety in 


the united kingdom, it could have answered no 
useful purpose, to encumber the present edition 
with a recurrence to those painful and shocking 
details. In deploring events that will, it is sin- 
cerely to be hoped, never disturb the peace or 
retard the prosperity of that valuable colony 
again, the Editor cannot well be charged with a 
disposition to suppress the author's statement on 
the subject ; as, according to an assertion of M. 
Lavaysse, they have been treated at much greater 
length, and with more pointed severity in the 
Annual Register, European Magazine, and daily 
journals of 1803, and the following year, than 
by himself. With respect lo the persecution 
of which he occasionally complains, it is need- 
less to remind the author, that the tribunals of 
this country were as open to him as they have 
been to others; although in making the above 
remark, the present writer is fully aware of the 
extreme difficulty generally attendant on bringing 
such trials to a satisfactory issue, even under the 
most favourable circumstances. A strong bias of 
national jealousy, aggravated by a sense of inju- 
ries,, whether real or imaginary, has evidently 
stimulated our traveller's pen in some parts of his 
book, and hence it was no easy portion of the 
editorial task to qualify the author's expressions, 
by divesting them of that acrimonious turn, 
which is never essential to the support of truth. 
Anxiously intent upon elucidating his subject, the 
Editor trusts, that the manner in which be has 


acquitted himself in this respect, will equally ex- 
empt him from the charge of partiality or prejudice. 

Having thus briefly alluded to M. Lavaysse, 
and to his own views in undertaking the transla- 
tion, the Editor feels that he would but imper- 
fectly discharge the most important part of the 
obligations which he has imposed on himself, were 
he to suffer this occasion to pass without adverting 
to the momentous question of South American 
independence. True it is, he cannot dare to hope 
that any remarks he is capable of making, will 
give the faintest impulse to the grand efforts 
which are now accelerating the final emancipation 
of that immense continent from the tyranny of 
those, whom the blind and fatal policy of Europe 
still permits to prolong its desolation and wretch- 

Without going back to inquire how so large a 
portion of the new world could have remained 
subject to the galling yoke, and infuriate bigotry 
of Spain, during a period of three centuries, it 
will be sufficient for our present purpose to ob- 
serve, that, no sooner had the sanguinary wars, 
and consequent calamities which visited Europe 
from the commencement of the revolution, 
pointed out the necessity of liberating the Spa- 
nish colonies from the system of oppression and 
exclusion established by the mother country, than 
the ministers of Great Britain, with Mr. Pitt at 
their head, were the first to proclaim to the peo 


pie of Venezuela, that the time had at length ar- 
rived for asserting those rights of which they were 
so cruelly deprived ; and moreover, that his majesty 
was prepared to afford them every assistance in 
shaking off the, chains of tyranny ! As the solemn 
pledge then given, is still in force, for it was of 
a nature not to be superseded by any subsequent 
engagements, and calls more loudly than ever for 
fulfilment on our part; the Editor cannot do 
better than present it to his readers in the follow- 
ing extract of a despatch from Mr. Dundas, the 
Secretary of State, addressed to Sir Thomas 
Pioton, Governor of Trinidad, by whom it was 
most industriously circulated throughout Vene- 
zuela and New Grenada. , 

« With regard to the hopes you entertain 
of raising the spirits of th08e persons with 
whom you are in correspondence, towards 
animatingthe inhabitants to re8ist the oppres- 

little more to say, than that they may be certain, 
that whenever they are in that disposition, they 
may receive at your hands all the succours to be 
expected from His Britannic Majesty ; be it with 
forces, or with arms and ammunition to any extent : 
with the assurance that the views of His Bri- 
tanic Majesty go no further than to secure to 
them their independence, without pretending 
to any sovereignty over their country, nor 
even to interfere in the privileges of the 


people, nor in tbeir political, civil, or religious 

Had the just and beneficent design thus gene- 
rously evinced been steadily followed up, it is 
more than probable that many of those embarrass- 
ments which now weigh . so heavily on the com- 
mercial interests of the country would never have 
been created, while numerous and important ad- 
vantages must have accrued from a maintenance 
of good faith with those whom we had so posi- 
tively promised to support. 

Although the Editor is willing to draw a veil 
over the circumstances connected with the sad 
story of Miranda and his companions in arms, 
history will not be silent on the fate of that brave 
but unfortunate general. Suppressing those feel- 
ings of regret or indignation to which a reference 
to such events, irresistibly give rise, he trusts 
though late, a recollection of them may stimulate 
the friends and followers- of Mr. Pitt, to adopt 
measures of atonement, while they are yet in office, 
and before the required succours proceed from 
others who are much less deeply interested in the 
existing struggle than ourselves. 

Notwithstanding the disastrous result of our 
first feeble efforts in favour of the patriot cause 
in Venezuela, they were still anxious to avail 
themselves of British protection, and no greater 

* For the whole of this memorable document, which was 
signed Thomas Picrotf, and dated Port Spain, June 26th, 1797, 
see the official papers at the end of the volume. 


proof of this desire can be adduced, than the 
famous letter addressed to our venerable sove- 
reign by the junta of Caraocas on the 1st of June, 
1810, in which amongst other passages, those un- 
acquainted with the secret springs and tortuous 
policy of modern statesmen, would naturally 
suppose that the following might have produced 
some effect. " Great Britain by her maritime 
power, by her political influence, and by the 
philanthropic views which direct her, is the nation 
that appears called upon to complete the grand 
work of confederating the scattered sections of 
America, and to cause order, concord and rational 
liberty, to reign therein; and we may venture to 
say, that nothing would be more worthy of Great 
Britain* more worthy of the wise government, as 
well as congenial to the character and personal 
virtues of your majesty ; and that amongst the 
many transcendent traits which already adorn 
the history of your memorable reign, none would 
render this era more brilliant to the eyes of posh 
terity, than the one to which we here allude/' 

To the above eloquent appeal, no answer what- 
ever was returned 1 We bad already, in defiance 
of every previous engagement, coalesced with 
the selfish regency of Cadiz, and guaranteed the 
colonies to Spain. It is needless minutely to reca- 
pitulate the results ; but how can the impartial 
observer who reflects on subsequent events, re- 
frain from deploring that any circumstances, how- 
ever urgent, could have induced us to abandon 


those ill-fated pro vinoes. While, however, a war of 
extermination, scarcely equalled in the annals of 
mankind, and in which several hundred thousand 
human lives have been already sacrificed, has 
desolated them, we are gleaning the reward of 
our fatal policy, in the lass of innumerable ad van* 
tages on the one hand, and the basest ingratitude 
on the other, from a prince who has done more 
to render the kingly power odious aad unpopular 
in Europe than two thirds of his imperial and 
royal contemporaries! 

Without being insensible to the- extreme deli* 
caey of our present situation, not only as it regards 
the cabinet of Madrid but that of Washington, 
a predicament which is most assuredly not the 
offspring of wisdom, or sound policy, it would be 
the height of folly to imagine that the indecisive 
and temporizing phms now pursued, can lead to 
any thing but still greater embarrassment. The 
most superficial reasoner amongst us, will not 
maintain the probability of Venezuela or New 
Grenada ever returning to the Spanish yoke ; and 
yet, the project of occupying Cuba, is confidently 
said to be the secret cause of ministers adhering 
to the above ruinous system. Although he is far 
from presuming to be sufficiently versed in the' 
arcana of diplomacy to offer a positive opinion on 
a subject necessarily so complicated, the Editor 
is by no means singular in his opinion, that govern- 
ment will encounter more obstacles to the accom- 
plishment of such a plan, if it really is contemplated 


than the j anticipate ; whereas, should it ever be 
realized, we may be involved in an unprofitable 
contest, that will most probably terminate in 
disappointment, ultimately placing us in the 
awkward dilemma of adding not only Venezuela 
but New Grenada, and Mexico, to the number 
of our enemies! 

The necessity tod importance of promoting a 
federal union between the provinces south of 
Panama and Mexico, is strenuously advocated by 
the most enlightened politicians of Venezuela 
and their friends in JNew Grenada, while the 
undeviating policy of the North American go* 
vernment renders it self-evident. The whole sub- 
ject of our interests in this part of the new 
world, is, in fact, pregnant with such vital con- 
sequences to our colonial power and commercial 
interests, that nothing less than the cruellest fata- 
lity, can prevent ministers from taking it into 
immediate consideration, and adopting those 
measures in favour of our real friends and natu- 
ral allies, which every view of the question 
seems so imperiously to demand.* 

* Some days after the above cursory thoughts were committed 
to paper, the editor met the following curious passage (not a little 
corroborative of his opinions) in the communication of a Spaniard 
to the editor of the Espanol Constitucional, for May : it is dated 
Nov. 29th, 1818, from the capital of Mexico. In addition to 
various strictures on the policy of Ferdinand, and an able ex- 
position of the ambitious views of North America, he concludes 
by observing — " From my long experience and the knowledge I 
have of the plans projected in that country, (the United States) 


But though ministers should persevere in the 
present system, which they have so many mo- 
tives for abandoning ; surely there is nothing to 
prevent the British merchants, a body so often 
foremost in acts of liberality, from attending to 
the appeal made to their humanity on one side, 
and the prospect of immense advantages held 
out on the other ? Unhappily the policy ot the 
cabinet and interests of the merchant are but too 
frequently separated, nor were they ever more, at 
variance than in this instance. Will it, however, be 
denied that many capitalists of this country, are in 

I shall not be surprised, if four years pass over our heads with- 
out seeing America dominate in Mexico, as she does in the 
Floridas. With respect to the other provinces which have risen, 
even if they are consolidated into small republics, the United 
States will exercise a terrible preponderance over them. God 
grant that my political prophecy may not be fulfilled ; but I can- 
not help thinking, if you have reflected a little on this grave mat- 
ter, as I do not doubt you have, that you will agree with my 
opinion, except as to the period of time given, which is an ac- 
cidental circumstance in the great problem." 

A little farther on he says, " After a forty years residence in 
America, 1 had hoped to have descended into the tomb, with 
the consolation of having left my children, the noble title of 
Spanish Citizens guaranteed by a constitution framed under the 
auspices of deputies from both worlds ; but, alas ! my aged and 
sorrowful eyes will yet see the great vice-royalty made a prize 
of, or what is still more degrading, sold like the Floridas to this 
proud republic, which exceeds that of Rome in ambition/ 1 

The reader is earnestly requested to compare the above with Com- 
modore Perry's recent mission to Angostura, not to mention various 
•ther indications of a decided change in the policy of the Union. 



the daily habit of employing money Jess advan- 
tageously, and with an infinitely smaller chance 
of a profitable return, than if appropriated to 
securing the independence of unexceptionably 
one of the most fertile and productive regions on 
earth ? Well might the Abb£ de Pradt, to whom 
public gratitude is pre-eminently due for his 
meritorious efforts on the subject of South Ame- 
rica during the last twenty years, exclaim ; 
" Let us not dispute the fact, but candidly con- 
fess that, as yet, America is only discovered in 
name, and geographically. The treasures it 
contains are still buried riches, which its free- 
dom alone can discover to the old world : when 
we yield to the contemplation of those blessings 
which the independence of this immense conti- 
nent will overwhelm the universe ; the imagina- 
tion is sterile to conceive, and language too weak 
for their description !"* 

When the present prosperous state of the Su- 
preme Chiefs affairs, are compared with his 
heroic constancy during a period of ten years 

• The following account of the progressive advance in the 
revenue and produce of New Spain is not a little calculated to 
favour the above ingenious writer's flattering anticipations. 
Total amount in 1 71 2 - 1 6,000,000 francs. 

Do. in 1802 - - 100,000,000 

Augmentation in ninety years 84,000,000 

Crop of cocoa in 1735 65,000 quintals of 150 lbs. each. 
Do. do in 1763 110,650 do. 

During the interval between 1763 and 1783, the plains near 
Caraccas tripled the number of animals they had previously 


incessant warfare, against the blood-thirsty Mo- 
rillo, the Attila of South America, and his san- 
guinary satellites, the Editor is certainly justi- 
fied in saying, that the independent governments . 
of Venezuela and New Grenada, are*not inferior 
as securities for the payment of a few millions, 
to some of the best guarantees held out in the 
dilapidated financial condition of more than one 
European nation; particularly, should any of 
those events anticipated by many political econo- 
mists ever take place. If, on the other hand, 
a few liberal-minded men are disposed to risk any 
part of their capital, surely there is quite as much 
consolation in doing so for the rescue of a great 
continent from tyranny and oppression, as if it 
were sacrificed in any of those private specula- 
tions which are daily absorbing the wealth of 
individuals ?* 

• A very well written communication that has appeared in 
the daily papers, and dated from Trinidad, September 2d, 
contains the following passage, which the Editor is induced to 
submit to those who entertain any doubts on the subject to which 
it alludes. 

" Of the personal characters of the individuals composing the 
government I entertain the highest opinion, and every day's ex- 
perience and observation confirm its correctness. Every debt 
that has .been contracted, I am confident, will be fully, completely 
and faithfully discharged ; and every delay which may have oc- 
curred hitherto, however much to be deplored, cannot in the slight- 
est degree be attributed to want of either inclination or exertion, 
but to circumstanoes over which there was no human eontroul. 
The best proof which I can give of my perfeot reliance on the 

b 2 


Such is the actual state oi things, both as to 
the stability of the government in Venezuela, and 
the progress of its army, that were a few men of 
property to combine and take the subject of ad- 
vancing a loan into their consideration, the Editor 
feels convinced they would not have to wait 
many months for a return either in specie or 
produce, while a comparatively small sum would 
enable the Supreme Chief to decide the contest 
during the present or ensuing campaign at farthest* 
In suggesting the propriety of an association like 
the above, it is superfluous to remind his generous 
countrymen, that the self-satisfaction arising out 
of thus removing an immense portion of human 

honour and good faith of tbe Government of Venezuela, is, the 
fact, that I and my friends are continuing our advances ; and I 
declare most solemnly, that had I the power I would go almost 
any lengths. The debts owing by this country are com- 
paratively a mere bagatelle, and which the possession of New 
Grenada, and a short repose, will easily liquidate. 

" The patriotic cause never wore so favourable an aspect as at 
preseut, and the complete emancipation of these beautiful coun- 
tries may be speedily anticipated. 

" What an act of philanthropy, were the British Government to 
interfere, and pot an end to this inhuman warfare ; for whatever 
the result of this or any other campaign may be, America is lost 
for ever to Spain ! This beautiful country may be rendered a 
desert, but never, never will it be brought to submit to the yoke 
of Ferdinand: the continuation of the conflict can produce nothing 
but a useless shedding of human blood. The interference of 
Great Britain would rivet the chains of amity and attachment 
which already exist, while from the situation and nature of the 
two countries xu> rivalry can ever arise betwixt them." 


misery, liberating a continent, and securing con- 
siderable pecuniary advantages, would far exceed 
that which springs from the success of an ordinary 

Here it is but performing a common act of 
justice to observe, that the persevering exertions 
of General D'Evereux, have produced the most 
salutary effects, not only as they regard the 
patriot cause, but also in favour of our commerce. 
By directing the attention of mercantile men to a 
most profitable market, he has at the same time 
snatched many a brave veteran from the evils of 
poyerty and wretchedness, which have weighed 
so heavily on our disbanded soldiers and seamen 
since the peace of 1814. By a most fortunate 
coincidence, the period at which these laudable 
exertions are making, combined with the generous 
manner in which the nobility and gentry of Ire- 
land, not excepting its women of rank and for- 
tune, have seconded the general's views, a con- 
siderable portion of that odium which naturally 
resulted from a late most impolitic act, has been 
removed. With respect to those delays which 
have somewhat retarded the plans of the Major 
General in favour of humanity and our commer- 
cial prosperity, they have originated in causes over 
which be had no controul, and cannot be so acutely 
felt on the part of his brave followers as by himself. 
Having understood that those busy meddlers, who 
are ever ready to mar the best interests of society, 
without hesitating to depreciate private character, 


are not idle on the present occasion, the Editor 
pledges himself, that the most satisfactory expla- 
nations will be given on the whole of General 
D'Evereux's patriotic proceedings, which have a 
far different and infinitely more exalted aim than 
have those of too many of his contemporaries in 
the same sacred cause.* 

These remarks, intended to convince those who 
have already made any advances to the indepen- 
dent government, that they have nothing to 
apprehend in the future, and with the hope of ex- 
citing others to complete the work of humanity, 
cannot close more appropriately than by quoting 
the passage in the Supreme Chief's celebrated 
speech during the recent installation of Congress 
at Angostura, in which, alluding to th^ foreign 
creditors of the republic, he observes, " Those 
friends of mankind are the guardian geniuses of 
America, and to them we owe a debt of eternal 
gratitude, as well as a religious fulfilment of the 

* Amongst other ornaments of their country, Messrs. Phillips 
and Finlay, two of the most eloquent men at the Irish bar, or per- 
haps any other in Europe, have been particularly distinguished in 
this generous emulation to second the Major General's benevolent 
and laborious efforts. But the Editor cannot omit this opportunity 
of declaring, that the oratory of Mr. Curran's able biographer is, 
in his humble opinion, infinitely more brilliant and persuasive, 
when contending for the emancipation of our Catholic countrymen, 
and asserting the liberties of Ireland and South America ; than 
while giving countenance or support to the pious members of Bible 
Societies in the British Metropolis ! 


several obligations contracted with them* The 
national debt, legislators, is the deposit of the 
good faith, the honour and the gratitude of Vene- 
zuela : respect it as the holy ark which encloses 
not only the rights of our benefactors, but the 
glory of our fidelity. Let us perish rather than 
fail, in any the smallest point, connected with 
the completion of those engagements, which have 
been the salvation of our country, and of the lives 
of her children !" 

In having thus endeavoured, however ineffec- 
tually, to persuade the ministers of this country 
into an act of common justice, and at the same 
time convince the mercantile interest of a measure 
that would ere long prove eminently advanta- 
geous to both, let it not be imagined that the 
Editor supposes the cause of South American free- 
dom depends altogether on either. — The trium- 
phant manner in which the Supreme Chief may 
now be said to have almost terminated his glorious 
labours, would render such a belief exceedingly 
irrational. Although so tardy in coming forward 
many years after they were bound to support the 
sister continent, our commercial rivals in North 
America seem to have at length awakened to a 
sense of their interest in this great cause. Here, the 
Editor is anxious to record, that he attributes no 
part of their conduct during the struggle either 
to national generosity or public virtue ! on the 
contrary, every part of it appears to have been the 
offspring of a cold calculating trading policy on 


the one hand, not unmixed with an ill concealed 
sentiment of envy and jealousy on the other. 
But while there does not appear to be any motive 
for the latter feeling, the cabinet of Washing- 
ton has certainly every reason to be envious of a 
neighbouring state, in which Universal Liberty 
is proclaimed, whil^ slavery is tolerated through- 
out the incessantly vaunted republio of North 

If the Editor has dwelt on this subject some- 
what longer than he intended, it arises from a 
conviction that the recitals of disappointed ad- 
ventures, and representations of those who are 
ever ready to palliate the errors of men in power, 
have bad the effect of prejudicing many of our 
capitalists on the subject of Venezuela* Leaving 
those publications which draw so lamentable a 
picture of the hardships experienced by two or 
three isolated individuals and their companions, 
hardships which the Editor ventures to assert have 
been felt by thousands and tens of thousands, 
during the late disastrous wars in which this coun- 
try was engaged, to that oblivion which awaits 
them, he takes this opportunity of noticing a wri- 
ter in the last number of a well known Review, 
and of shortly replying to his strictures on the cause 
of independence. In these, amongst other equally 
liberal remarks it is asserted that, "South America 
is nothing but an arena in which a set of needy 
and adventurous prize fighters are contending 
each for his own individual advantage." Upon such 


an assertion, and indirect mode of defending 
government, the Editor has no hesitation in ob- 
serving that, so far from exonerating ministers 
from the charge of betraying the patriots, it is a 
gross exaggeration of the crimes laid to our 
account by the independent party in that long 
persecuted region. . But this is not the only in- 
stance wherein the advocates of a bad cause, in- 
stead of justifying their patrons, only tend to 
bring them into still greater contempt, and hasten 
the accomplishment of those events they vainly 
endeavour to retard. Does the writer thus no- 
ticed, merely because the above periodical work 
is not only patronized by ministers, but partly 
conducted by members of the administration, 
require to be informed that, if his assertion with 
respect to South America were even true, every 
honest mind could most easily trace the cause 
to those statesmen who, after having invited the 
colonists to shake off the yoke, and solemnly pro- 
mised every assistance, abandoned them to their 

In answer to the absurd proposition that the 
great mass of the inhabitants take little or no 
interest in the struggle, and which not only past 
experience, but these events daily announced most 
effectually controvert, the Editor begs to quote a 
passage from M. de Humboldt's Essay on New 
Spain, which accounts in a great measure for many 
of those difficulties that have impeded the termi- 
nation of this terrible contest. 


u Notwithstanding the tranquil character and 
extreme docility of the people in the Spanish 
colonies/' says that intelligent traveller ; " in spite 
of thfeir peculiar situation, dispersed over a vast 
extent of country, enjoying that species of indi- 
vidual liberty which always arises from great 
liveliness, political agitations would have been 
more frequent after the peace of Versailles, and 
above all since 1789, if the mutual hatred of the 
casts, and the fears with which the great number 
of blacks and Indians inspire the whites, had not 
arrested the progress of popular discontent. These 
motives have become still more powerful, sub- 
sequent to the events that have taken place in 
St* Dfomingo ; and it cannot be for a moment 
doubted, that they have contributed more to pre- 
serve peace in the Spanish colonies, than mea- 
sures of rigour or the formation of militias." — 
When to the foregoing causes we add the influence 
of the priesthood, and power of the inquisition ; 
the superstitious and unenlightened state of the 
people, not to mention the efforts those in power 
are ever ready to make for the preservation of 
their patronage, emoluments and places, the 
wonder will greatly diminish if it be not entirely 
removed. Amongst those consequences antici- 
pated by the best informed individuals, from the 
European cabinets thus tacitly encouraging the 
war of extermination, that of the black popula- 
tion being stimulated to follow the example of 
St. Domingo, is not the least important or wor- 


thy the serious consideration of our statesmen, 
as being fraught with the most imminent dan- 
gers to our colonial interests. 

Without entering into a defence of such men 
as Puyerdon, St. Martin, O'Higgins and Artigas ; 
all of whom are embraced by the sweeping 
charge of the Reviewer ; the best reply to his 
strictures, as well as those suggested by the hatred 
and malignity of others, will be found in the late 
proceedings at Angostura, where General Bo- 
livar, in opening the second National Congress, 
previous to a most eloquent speech, in which the 
basis of a final constitution is proposed, insisted 
on giving up that unlimited authority with which 
he had been entrusted by the people ; in directing 
the secretaries of state to lay the whole of his 
proceedings before the representatives of the na- 
tion, and finally consigning the staff of office to the 
President. When this had been done the General 
nobly added, " I return to the Republic the gene- 
ral's staff, entrusted to me : to serve in whatever 
rank or class the congress may place me, cannot but 
be honourable; in it I shall give an example of that 
subordination and blind obedience, which ought 
to characterize every soldier of the Republic." 

The speech from which the above is extracted, 
together with an account of the proceedings that 
took place on the 15th of February, a proud day 
for Venezuela, marks a memorable epoch in the 
history of the new republic : it has been published 
under the auspices of General D'Evereux, and is- 


particularly deserving the attention of all those 
who feel an interest in the present progress of 
events. It is not amongst the least extraordinary 
political phenomena of the nineteenth century, 
to witness a military chief imitating the most ex- 
alted men of antiquity, and promulgating the 
sublimest legislative truths, in a country hitherto 
signalized as the very focus of bigotry and depo- 
tistfi !— expressing sentiments which the people 
of Europe, chiefly know through the too partial 
medium of Grecian and Roman history ; as if the 
principles recently advocated by the friends of 
human nature in the old world, were destined to 
be practically realized urthe western hemisphere! 
But this is not the first time the Genius of Liberty 
has crossed the Atlantic. With the most ardent 
wishes to see her cherished by the sons of Southern 
Columbia, let us however hope that she has not 
totally abandoned her votaries in Europe ! 

Yes! even at this moment, the situation of 
Simon Bolivar might well be envied by the 
greatest monarchs on earth. Hailed a second 
time as the liberator of Santa F£ de Bogota; 
having previously merited the same glorious title, 
were the Editor disposed to hazard comparisons 
between public characters, how pre-eminently 
transcendent would not a chief whose glory and 
fortunes areof his own creation, achieved through 
unparalleled difficulties, and fighting for the liber- 
ties of his country, appear, over those who, hav- 
ing sworn to defend popular rights, are only 


coalescing for their destruction, and endeavour- 
ing to degrade the species by adding to the weight 
of their fetters! 

Although a summary of the speech to which 
the Editor has felt it his duty to call the attention 
of his readers, will be found in the Appendix, he 
hopes to be excused for closing these observations 
called forth by the illiberal attempts of a few in- 
dividuals to lessen the Supreme Chiefs well merit- 
ed claims to the admiration of this country, with 
the last paragraph of his luminous address, which, 
though drawing a picture that may not be realiz- 
ed to the extent anticipated, still does infinite 
honour to the head and heart of the illustrious 
orator. " Flying from present and approaching 
future times," said the General, " my imagination 
plunges into future ages, in which I observe with 
admiration and amazement, the prosperity, the 
splendour and animation which this vast region 
will have acquired ; — my ideas are wafted on, 
and I see my beloved native land in the centre of 
the universe expanding herself on her extensive 
coasts, between those oceans, which nature has 
separated, and which our country will have 
divided with large and spacious canals ; I see her 
the bond, and central emporium of the human 
race; I see her transmitting to earth's remotest 
bounds, those treasures contained in her moun- 
tains of gold and silver; I see her distributing 
by her salutiferous plants, health and life to 
the afflicted of the old world ; I see her impart- 


ing to the sages of other regions her inestimable 
secrets, ignorant until then, how much her height 
of knowledge transcends her excessive wealth; 
--yes! I see her seated on the throne of freedom, 
wielding the sceptre of justice, and crowned 
with glory, $hew the old world the majesty of 
the new !" 

A cursory perusal of the documents prefixed 
to the end of the volume, while it demonstrates 
upon what enlightened principle the new govern- 
ment is founded, equally removed from the vio- 
lence of democracy on the one hand, and from 
the danger of arbitrary power on the other, 
proves that a system of equal laws, like those even 
now in force, and solemnly promised by the repre- 
sentatives of the people, must prevent the abuses 
which daily arise in the best regulated communi- 
ties of Europe. If sentiments such as those ex- 
pressed in the declaration of independence, and 
in the Supreme Chiefs late installation speech, 
are not calculated to excite admiration and inspire 
confidence, where are they be found ? And let it 
be recorded to the honour of General Bolivar, 
they have been rigidly acted upon, in all that 
relates to the government of the Republic, since 
he has been called to the arduous office he now 
fills with no less credit to himself than advantage 
to his country. 

The late Congress at Aix la Chapelle, from the 
labours of which so many benefits were antici- 
pated by some people, was also to have arranged 


the affairs of South America, and thrown that 
vast continent open to the industry and commerce 
of the old world. But what was the result of 
its deliberations on that vitally important subject ? 
The august members separated without one soli- 
tary measure calculated to inspire the oppressed 
colonists with hope, or change the infatuated 
policy of Ferdinand ! What a humiliating reflec- 
tion, that those who had so often boasted of re- 
establishing peace on such a solid foundation, 
should imply their inefficiency to complete the 
beneficent work, by ieaving^an immense and fertile 
continent a prey to war, rapine, and persecu- 
tion !* 

But it is time to terminate this discussion, which 

* When the future historian of our times, sits down 
to record the proceedings of this assemblage, it must 
be truly painful for him to state that, with such a glorious 
opportunity of performing acts of real magnanimity, and 
restoring their lost popularity, as no other Congress ever 
possessed, its measures were exclusively confined to an 
act of necessary duty, that of withdrawing the foreign 
armies from France, concerting the best means of adding 
to their power and increasing their territories I 

Would it not have been more conducive to the interests 
of humanity and beneficial to themselves, bad those 
Sovereigns opened the vast continent of South America to 
the industry and enterprize of their starving subjects, 
giving it that independence which must eventually triumph 
even without their aid ? Ought they to have been indif- 
ferent to the laudable efforts of the philanthropic Owen 
to ameliorate the condition of the species ; much less deaf 
and insensible to the appeal of the virtuous Count de Lai 


has already far exceeded the proposed limits. 
Unambitious, as he is undeserving of literary 
fame, the Editor has, in the foregoing desultory 
remarks, been rather anxious to quote official 
documents, and record the opinions of more 
weighty' authorities than his own; thus hoping 
to make out a case in favour of the brave and 
suffering people of South America, which neither 
sophistry nor declamation, ridicule nor invective, 
could well controvert. Relying on the indulgent 
consideration of his country, it is for an impartial 
public to decide how far those important objects 
have been attained. If he has trespassed some- 
what longer on the patience of his readers than 
might be thought necessary, he trusts their recol- 
lection of those countless millions in both worlds, 
whose best interests are either directly or collate- 
rally involved in the momentous question of South 

Casas in favour of his persecuted but once powerful 
master ! 

Although the advocates of injustice and arbitrary 
power in this country affect to forget, and are silent on 
our treatment of Napoleon, the hero of Tilsit, of Elau 
and Esling ; the conqueror of Vienna, the preserver of 
Frederick William's throne, the sworn friend of the 
magnanimous Alexander, finally of the Emperor and 
former enemy of England, who claimed British hospi- 
tality when overtaken by misfortune; that treatment 
is not the less inhuman and impolitic, or likely to become 
a serious item of accusation against its authors and abet- 
tors, when the day of civil and political retribution 
arrives ! 


American independence, will be accepted as a 
sufficient excuse for a greater want of brevity. 

Should the feeble voice he has endeavoured to 
raise with the best intentions and most ardent de- 
sire to serve the cause of England and humanity, 
not be heard, he ventures to express a hope, th&t 
the walls of Parliament will resound with such 
an appeal in favour of the violated rights of men 
in the new world, that, while it convinces Europe, 
the British nation does not participate either in 
the wishes or designs of its ministers; shall finally 
lead to the accomplishment of those salutary mea- 
sures which neither the Congress of Emperors and 
Kings, nor the servants of the crown, have had 
sufficient magnanimity to perform. 

Without wishing to divert the attention of 
the legislature from objects of still greater con- 
sequence nearer home, or diminish the awful, nay, 
almost unprecedented circumstances under which it 
is about to assemble, the Editor feels satisfied that 
the subject of South America is one of paramount 
importance; he is moreover induced to add as 
his firm conviction, that if there is any event 
connected with our foreign policy, more likely 
to calm, the perturbed spirit of the people than 
another, or one that would give a most salutary 
impulse to manufactures and commerce, go- 
vernment would find it in a prompt and liberal 
measure, such as sound policy dictates and our 
situation really calls for, with regard to that con- 


It baa been recently announced in the public 
papers, thpt twelve of the Englishmen surprized 
atPortobello; have been shptjby th? Spanish autho- 
rities at Panama. ' If this atrocious act be con- 
firmed, the Editor trusts, for the honour of our 
qame as a people, that the circumstance of these 
unfortunate victims • haying been l$d in an. evil 
ljour, pr perhaps by t be dreadful pecuniary embar- 
rassment now so prevalent in our once happy coun- 
try, to follow the fortunes of an adventurer, who baa 
justly forfeited public confidence, will not save the 
perpetrators from the just vengeance of England ; 
and that unlike the recent conduct of her minis- 
ters, ia suffering the sanguinary general* of North 
America to slaughter our ill-fated country men in 
qqld blood, the solitary abettors and murderpus 
instruments of Ferdinand in South America, will 
not also be allowed to act with similar impunity ! 

' E. B. 



Historical Sketch of Venezuela*— Ijust Adv^tur^— Wejteis. , 
—Their Cruelties.— Depopulation amongst theJjadianaTribev t 
—Early Commerce, and Pearl Fishejy.— Exclusive Commercial ^ 
Companies. — Views of the British Ministers. -t*Piernal, . 
Gual, and Espana^-Dou Vlncente de Emparan,— Anecdote. 
— General Miranda— Geographical Description of the Country. 
—Rivers, Lakes, Population, Vallies of Cape de Pa^Ovc^Caiaq- , 
cas. — State of Religion and Education.— JLa £uyrju— Porto 
Cavallo.-r-Valencia,— Marac^y^Coro.,— Barquisjmeto. — iSan • 
Felipe.— Guanare.— Miraculous Madonqu— Curious Law Suit 
— Nirgc>a*— Zambc^s.^Conjectures.-HCkdabosa. . .1 


1 Cumana, Historical and Geographical Sketch of the Frovihce.— ' 
Privileges granted by Pope Alexander VI.— Conduct of the 
first Spanish Invaders.-— Retaliation of the Indians.— Barthe- 
lemy de Las Casas. — Ocampo.— Biographical Sketch of Las 
Casas.— Extract from his History.— City of Cumana.— Its Pros- 
perity tmderEmparaiL-Its Population. — Public Amusements. 
—Anecdote of M: de Humbofdt— System of Education.- Price 
ctfProvisions. — Manners. — Trade. — Defences and Fortifications. 
— ^Gulph of Cariaco.-Marine Birds.— Singular Mode of catching 
them.— Carupana. — Valley of Yaguaraparo.— Cumanacoa.— ' 
Grotto df Guacharo. — Indian Superstitions.— New Barcelona. 
—Its Productions and Trade.— Conception del Pas.— Remarks i ' 
Guiana. — Derivations.— San Tome de Angostura.— State of ther 
Indian Tribes.— Mode of recognizing Flocks.— Wild Horses, 
Moles, Ac. — Curious Account of them. — Province of Vari- 
nas,— Account of the Inhabitants.— Maracaybo.— Population. 
—Island of Margarita.— An Original— Decoration of the Vir- 
gin, and Anecdote.— Pompatar.— A Sermon.— Theological Dis* 
pntatton— Bulls and Indulgences^—Faxardo.— Margarita ,4*. 
scribed— Asuncion.— Fisheries— Departure. 77 



Manners and Customs. — Various Casts.— Conquistadora.— 
Creoles — Idea of Nobility.— Refutation of De Paw's Doctrines. 
—Mental Qualifications of the Creoles.— Reflections on Concu- 
binage. — Parental Affection of the Creoles.— Account of the 
Guahiros.— Quadrupeds.— Traits of Manners.— Dress, &c at 
Caraccas. — Singular Fashion at Cumana.— Anecdote of an 
Indian Female.— Remarks on several Animals. — Paca,— Pecary. 
—Catalogue of Birds.— Insects. — Trees and Shrubs. — Anecdotes 
of the Boa Stricter.— Remarks.— Vegetable World. — M. de 
la Barrere's Herbal. — Reflections. — Geological Attributes of 
Trinidad. — The Sugar Cane.— Introduction and Mode of culti- 
vating the Otaheite Cane^— Fattening Qualities of the Cane.— 
Suggestions. — Proposed Improvements in Sugar Plantations.— . 
The Cocoa Tree.— Nutritious Virtues of Cocoa.— The Tree 
described.— Epidendrum Vanilla. — Coffee.— Thoughts on its 
cultivation*— Mode of planting Coffee. And various Hints on 
the subject — Podocmrpus. — A Reflection. — Geological Obser- 
vations. .... 174 


Industry and Commerce of the ci-devant Spanish Colonies com- 
pared with those of England, France, Holland, &c— Lord 
Chatham's opinion of Colonial Manufactures.— Impolicy of en- 
couraging them.— Most adviseable System for Governments to 
pursue.— Barbarous Policy of the Spanish Cabinet with regard 
to the Colonies. — Juice of the Agave. — Absurd and oppressive 
Mode of Taxation.— Reflections, — Guipuscoa Company— Edict 
of Free Trade. — Prohibitions of the Spanish Government. — 
Remarks on the Work of M. Depons. — Contraband Trade of 
English Merchants.— Facts and Observations relative thereto.— , 
Panegyric on the Custom House, and Revenue Laws of Great 
Britain.— Remarks on the Colonial System of France, and Con- 
sequences of the prohibitory Regulations of Spain.— List of 
various Duties, Imposts, Itc.— Privileges accorded to French 
Settlers In the Spanish Colonies by the Family Compact— An- 
aeul Amount of Exports from Venezuelan-Including Reniark*. $3* 



Trinidad.— Geographical Description of the Island.— Guaraouns. 
— Their singular Mode of Living, Trade, and Habitations.— 
Mouths of the Orinoco. — Guarapiche. — Gulph of Paria.— 
Scenery. — Port Spain. — Rivera of TrinidacL — Its Bays and 
Harbours. — Natural Canals.— Fish. — Mangrove Trees.— Birds. 
— The Asphaltum Lake,— Its Peculiarities.— Volcanic Re- 
mains. — Mountains. — Conjectures. — Las Cuevas. — Nature of 
the SoiL— Excavations at Guadaloupe.— Crater of Erin.— A 
newMetai . . . 275 


Climate.— Seasons. —Winds — Rain. — Rarity of Storms and 
Hurricanes.— State of the Thermometer. — An Experiment- 
Quantity of Rain. — Inundation of the Orinoco. — Tides. — 
Effects of increased Cultivation. — Various Degrees of Heat. — 
Observations on the Effects of Climate, and Precautions recom- 
mended— Spring or fine Season— Reinarks«— Dews. . 306 

Historical Sketch of Trinidad. — Its Discovery.— First Establish- 
ment of the Spaniards.— Sir Walter Raleigh's Visit to the 
Island— His Treaty with the Indians, and Attack on San Joseph. 
— Eulogium on the Soil and Climate of Venezuela.— Blind 
Policy of Spain. — Project of M. de Saint Laurent— Change in 
the Island's Condition. — Rapid Increase of its Population.— 
Don Joseph Chacon. — His Policy. — Port Spain. — French Refu- 
gees.— Inhabitants in 1797.-rFirst Sugar Plantation. — Capture 
of the Island by Sir Ralph Abbrcrombie.— Progressive State 
of Population, Agriculture, and Commerce between 1783 and 
1807 321 


Tobago. — Historical Sketch of the Island— Its Discovery and 
original Inhabitants. — First Establishment of the Dutch there. 
— The Lampsins.— Ceded to the Duke of Courland by James I. 
— Manifestoes of Charles L in favour of the Duke. — The 
Island is attacked by Sir Tobias Bridges, and the French Admi- 
ral d'Estrees.— Captain Pointz.— Tobago is ceded to Great 
Britain.— Treaty of Aiz la Cbapelle.— State of the Island in 

jndran comwmwl 

1765.— Messrs. Franklyri and Robley.— Taken by the French 
• in 1 78 1.— Reflections.— Recaptured by General Cuyler in 1793. 
— Present State of Cultivation.- -Mr. Robley 's Plantation and 
EstaWishmcnt.^-ifia numerous Improvements and Character.— 
Scotch Emigrants— Reflections.— Natural Productions of the 
Islands— Plants.— Birds. — Fish— Quadrupeds^-ScARBOBOtroH. 
— Orarenla, &c. . >. ... . . 341 


Inquiries' concerning the Negroes.— Their intellectual Capabili- 
" ties.- *M. Lilet^— Opinion of Camper and Blumenbach. — 
Difference between Negro Tribe^— How they are improved. 
— Bjlakchbtisr Beulevub.— Cause of Crime and Degene- 
racy in the Negroes.— Instances of Fortitude and Generosity 
among them.— Anecdote*— Allusion to the Cruelties exe r cised 
at Surinam.— Singular Instance of Resolution in Suffering.— 
Heroic Speech of a Negro. — Anecdotes.— Pride and Vanity of 
Negroes.—- Affection for their Children.— Causes of Infanticide 
amongst thenu— Poisoning prevalent.— Mode of punishing the 
Delinquents.— Objection* answered. — Reflections. — Ad van- 
tage* of Freedom.— Effects of the Slave Trader-Sir William 
Young* Plantation-— Treatment and Management of the Slaves' 
there^-MeiJkrrott.— Their harsh Treatment by Europeans, 
and Condition in the Colonies. . 366 


Injw athu— Otassedmto Caribs and Parias.— Opinion of Rochefort, 
and contradictory Accounts of that Writer.— Analogies.— 4 
Religion of the early Tribes.— Sorcery.— Sylvester.— Anecdote. » 
—Curious Dialogue*— First Establishment of Missions*— Com-) 
parison. — Reflections.— Jesuits.— Mission of St Joseph. — Hastf 
. of the Indians. — A Review.— -Indians e>p Guiana. — Anecdote. 
—Degraded State of some Tribes.— Custom of selling their 
Wives and Children.— Indians of Trinidad.— Their uncivilized 
State.— Nefarious Conduct of some English Proprietors.— The 
Arrouages— Their Trade.— Accouchement of the Indian Mo- 
thers.— Conjectures^-^Account of the Black Caribs of St Vin- 
cent's.— Visit to Grind Sable, and curious Description of a 
CariJ> ChJell— Concluding Remarks. : 3°4 



Containing Official Documents, Extracts from General Bolivar" s 
Speech, &c, *tc • 440 



Pa^e l t for " TVall" m beading to CHap, r«id « Gunl," p. £3. 
. . - - 5, /<?f tf accomplished for the degradation of humanity " rafli M coolu 

«0, /ar t " in wbidT rwrf ■ where." 

l*O f /<*r "Caom," rwiif " Curoni." 



Historical Sketch of Venezuela. — First Adventurers. — Welsers. — Their 
Cruelties— Depopulation amongst the Indian Tribes. — Early Com- 
merce, and Pearl Fishery. — Exclusive Commercial Companies. — 
Views of the British Ministers. — Pikrnel, Wall, and Espana. — 
Don Vincente de Emparan.— Anecdote. — General Miranda. — Geo- 
graphical Description of the Country. — Rivers, Lakes, Population, 
Vallies of Cape de Paria. — Caraccas— State of Religion and Educa- 
tion. — La Guyra. — Porto Cavello. — Valencia. — Maracay. — Coro. — 
Barquisimeto. — San Felipe. — Guanare. — Miraculous Madonas.— 
Curious Law Suit— Nirgoa.— Zamboes — Conjectures.— Calabosa. 

The vast, fine, fertile, and generally pictu- 
resque country, of which I am about to sketch 
the 1 history and description, was discovered by 
Christopher Columbus, during his third voyage 
to the new world in 1498. All that this great 
man related to the court of Spain, relative to 
the beauty and riches of the regions he had dis- 
covered, excited the cupidity of two adven- 
turers, his cotemporaries, Americo Vespucci 
and Alfonso Ojeda : in consequence of which, 
they obtained permission from the Spanish 


Government to glean on his track. These 
men united in this enterprise, like two traders 
on a commercial speculation. The noble mind 
of Columbus was only animated by a tove of 
the sciences and true glory; while Ojeda and 
Vespucci were stimulated by the desire of ac- 
quiring riches, no matter by what means. It is 
not therefore surprising, that the last named 
personage attempted to persuade, and at length 
succeeded in convincing the court of Spain, that 
the discovery of the new continent was due to him, 
and that Columbus had merely discovered some 
islands. In almost every age, audacious adven- 
turers have obtained more success at courts than 
men of real genius ; but it is not the less surpris- 
ing, that although the deceit of Vespucci was 
soon discovered, his name should be given to, 
and still remains with the new world. It was 
destined, that the man who made the greatest 
and most brilliant of discoveries, who was the 
cause of reclaiming so large a portion of the 
human species from the forests of barbarism, and 
of laying the foundations of numerous states and 
colonies; it was decreed that this truly great 
man should be calumniated and persecuted 
during his life, that his glory should be con- 
tested, and even his name mutilated. . Historians 
are justly indignant at this injustice of his cotem- 
poraries; but many think it fortunate for the 
pure and unspotted glory of Columbus, that his 
name has not been borne by a portion of the 


world which was to be made the theatre of all that 
avarice and superstition, tyranny and slavery, have 
accomplished for the degradation of humanity. 
When, however, those objects now so gloriously 
contending for, are accomplished, and this coun- 
try attains its proper rank among the mightier 
powers, it would be worthy of its inhabitants, to 
give it the name of Columbia, and that the usurped 
trading name of America should be effaced from 
their maps. When in August, 1806, General 
Miranda made his first attempt to render Vene- 
zuela, his native country, an independent state, 
he conceived the noble idea of giving to the 
little band which he commanded at Coro, the 
name of the Columbian army, and proposed that 
his countrymen should take the name of Colum- 

Alfonso Ojeda reconnoitred the Lake of Mara* 
oaibo in 1499, and having found the villages of 
the natives built on piles, he gave the country 
the name, of Venezuela, from its similitude to 
Venice. He did not found any settlement there, 
but spent his time in waging war with the natives, 
whom he took to sell as slaves in the island of 
Saint Domingo and Porto Rico. 

It does not enter into the present plan, to write 
a history of the plunders, massacres and cruelties 
committed in all those countries, soon after their 
discovery, calamities of which the original cause 
may be traced to the permission granted by 
Charles V. to those ruthless robbers of a barbar- 



ous age, who went to conquer the new world, 
and enslave the natives. A man who had na- 
turally a benevolent heart, and who was ani- 
mated with the true spirit of the gospel, the vir- 
tuous Bishop of Chiapa, had the glory of re- 
straining those excesses, and of shielding the In- 
dians from their executioners. He also was ca- 
lumniated ; but the good which he effected re- 
mains, and his name, an honour to that of Spain, 
will descend to the remotest posterity among 
those of the most illustrious heroes of huma- 

Previous to my giving a description of the pro- 
vince of Venezuela, it may be proper to present 
a short historical view of the government of the 
Welsers, bankers at Augsburgh, to whom Charles 
V. had ceded the country as an hereditary fief 
of the crown of Spain. The young colony was 
then governed by a prudent and wdrthy chief, 
Don Juan Ampues, who had founded the town 
of Coro, in 1529, the most ancient establishment 
in Venezuela except Cumana, built in 1520, by 
Gonzalo Ocampo, and which did not form a part 
of that government. 

The conditions on which this important cession 
was made, were as follows : 

First. All the countries comprised between 
Cape de la Vela, and Maracapana, with the pri- 
vilege of making conquests, and extending their 
possessions towards the south, were ceded to the 
new company. 


Second. The Welsers obliged themselves to 
found two towns, and three forts, in the space of 
three years. 

Third. They were to equip four vessels for 
the conveyance of three hundred Spaniards, and 
fifty Germans, and it was allowed to them by 
this charter, to work all the mines of the new 
world for their advantage, or that of their as- 

Fourth. The emperor gave the title of Ade- 
lantado, to the person whom the Welsers should 
appoint to the government of that colony. 

Fifth. The imperial cedula permitted the 
Welsers to make slaves of such Indians as should 
refuse to become their vassals. 

. It is true the Emperor Charles V. appointed a 
priest, Father Montesillo, to be the protector of 
the Indians ; but some historians have given to 
this precaution the term of a refinement in hypo- 
crisy. From whatever motive H arose^ Montesillo 
found it more profitable to participate in the plun- 
der of the Welsers, than fulfil the duties of his 
pious mission. . The agents of those bankers be- 
haved in that devoted country, as commercial 
companies have always done, to which the sove- 
reignty of distant regions has been confided. To 
found durable establishments, or encourage agri- 
culture and the arts, has never been the noble 
ambition of such men. Stimulated by the desire 
of accumulating riches speedily, and returning 
to enjoy them in their native country,ihe Welsers 


began by exactions and pillage, and were not long 
in familiarising themselves with murder, rapine 
and cruelty. Such was the conduct of Alfinger, 
the first Welser agent, and of his deputy, Sail- 
ler, who arrived at Coro in 1528, at the head of 
four hundred adventurers. Scarcely had they 
taken possession of the government, when they 
inquired where the mines of gold and silver were ; 
but when Alfinger was informed that the coun- 
try did not contain any, and that the means of 
enriching himself wtre not so easy as he had 
been assured in Spain, he sallied forth into the 
interior of the colony, at the head of a detach- 
ment, leaving Sailler to command at Coro. While 
on this predatory excursion he hunted the unof- 
fending Indians, as if they were wild beasts, ap- 
plying the torture to, or exterminating all those 
who did not bring him a certain quantity of gold 
dust on the appointed days ; for although mines 
of gold had not' been discovered then, yet it 
was found in the beds of some rivers. The colo- 
nists, who were a mixture of Spanish and Indian 
blood, were no better treated by Alfinger. He 
made incursions on their plantations, robbing all 
who fell in his power, and murdering any one that 
opposed his progress : he also sold the Indians 
to whoever would buy them. This wretch, no 
less cruel than insatiable, lost a great many 
troops in the first year of his government; 
but the Welsers took care to send him recruits 
occasionally : at length the relentless assassin was 


massacred by the Indians, in 1531, in a valley that 
has ever since borne his name, El Vatlide Misser 
Ambrosia^ the Valley of Anibrosio, for that was 
the monster's name. The Welsers had sent 
another German to succeed Alfinger in case of 
death : this man, instead of roaming about, armed, 
like his predecessor, led a tranquil life at Coro, 
gorging himself with pillage which never ceased 
to be exacted, as in the time of the former go- 

tn 1533, the Welsers sent out Spirra with the 
title of governor ; he had under his orders four 
hundred men, Spaniards or natives of the Canary 
Islands : when he had united his troops to those 
which were in the colony, he divided them into 
three bands, which penetrated the country to 
plunder it, he being at the head of one of those 
detachments. This expedition lasted five years: 
Spirra returned to Coro in 1539, bringing back 
but eighty of the four hundred men whom he 
had taken with him- It was on this journey 
that the story of the fabulous country of El 
Dorado originated. It is probable that the In- 
dians invented this fable, to attract their greedy 
tyrants into the large forests of their country, 
that they might perish the more easily. Spirra 
died at Coro of fatigue and chagrin. The court 
of Spain had sent a bishop named Bastidas, to 
Venezuela, in 1530, At the death of Spirra, 
the audiencia of Saint Domingo, which at that 
time, had the superintendence of the other colo- 


nies, conferred the government on this bishop ; 
Philip de Urre, a general officer, was appointed 
to command the troops. Those two men shewed 
themselves in every thing worthy of succeeding 
to the agents of the Welsers. 

The Bishop Bastidas commenced by ordering 
an officer named Pedro Limpias to go on an ex- 
pedition against the Indians of the Lake Mara- 
caibo, on whom it was expected a large contribu- 
tion in gold might be raised ; but the result hav- 
ing produced only a small quantity, the people 
were sold as slaves, when, all hope was lost of 
procuring by their means a greater supply of that 

Bastidas then sent Philip de Urre in search 
of the far famed El Dorado. After having 
pillaged, and assassinated all who fell into his 
hands during the four years the expedition lasted, 
Urr£ returned to Coro, without discovering the 
chimera, reduced to the last stage of misery, and 
after having lost nearly all the accomplices of his 
crimes. On his arrival he was assassinated by Lim- 
pias, and Carvajal, who by means of false papers 
seized on the government of the colony, whilst 
Bastidas had been sent to fill the episcopal chair 
of Porto Rico. Carvajal founded the town of 
Tucuyo, the only establishment formed in the 
colony during the time it remained in the power 
of the Welsers. 

At length the eloquent voice of the immortal 
Las Casas succeeded in asserting the rights of 


suffering humanity at the court of Charles V. : 
that monarch reclaimed those powers which none 
ought ever to alienate, especially in favour of 
commercial companies; he resumed the actual 
sovereignty of Venezuela, and the ferocious agents 
of the Welsers were expelled. Grant Heaven that 
those who now exercise a tyranny no less cruel and 
diabolical, may ere long experience the fate of the 
Welsers and their agents ! 

Returned to the administration of a deputy 
appointed by their sovereign, the colonists were 
at length relieved. Those who had survived the 
tyranny of the traders, resumed the occupations 
of agriculture and the useful arts, under the 
government of Don Juan Peres de Tolosa.* Vari- 
ous edicts, published from 1526 to 1542, declare 
the Indians free ; but it is known other edicts had 
encroached on their liberty. At length in 1546, 
it was solemnly proclaimed by Toloso, and ex- 
tended even to those who might be taken inarms: 
these he distributed in several villages, under the 
superintendence of Spanish chiefs, where they 
were subjected to a kind of feudal government ; 
a system, which, when prudently administered, 
is perhaps one of the best and surest for training 
savages to civilization. 

* Raynal says, that the conduct of the Spaniards was not in 
the least different from that which had just been the cause of so 
many horrors. The Spanish historians and chronicles of Carac- 
cas and Cumana, however, eulogize Tolosa. 


The plan of distribution, which the chiefs did 
not delay in turning to an abuse, was changed 
in many colonies for that of the encomiendas. 
There was this difference between these two modes: 
in the last, the Spanish chief, or inspector of the 
Indians, was prohibited from residing in the same 
village with them. The encomendero was a kind 
of inspector'or surveyor, appointed to visit them 
on certain days, to decide on their differences, 
and induce them to renounce the customs of savage 
life ; also to inspire a taste for agriculture, arts, 
and civilization ; in short, to aid the missionaries 
with all his influence. This system was certainly 
preferable to that of the repartimiento. It may 
be seen by the prohibition which the legislature 
placed against the encomenderos residing in the 
same village with the Indians, that the cause of 
humanity had made considerable progress. It 
was feared, with good reason, that the con- 
stant presence of arbitrary commanders, among 
artless and ignorant men, would end in habituating 
those chiefs to treat them as slaves. Notwith- 
standing all the precautions taken by a sovereign 
who resided nearly two thousand leagues from 
these new states ; as generally happens, the enco- 
menderos concluded by abusing their authority, 
and appropriating the labour of the poor Indians 
to themselves. 

" The Indians," says M. de Humboldt, " whose 
liberty had been proclaimed in vain by Queen 
Isabella, were, until then, the slaves of the whites, 


who had collected them promiscuously. By the 
establishment of the encomiendas, slavery took 
a more regular form. To put an end to the dis- 
sentions among the conqueror*, the remains of 
the conquered people were distributed to them ; 
the Indians, divided into tribes of several 
hundreds of families, had masters appointed in 
Spain from among the soldiers who had distin- 
guished themselves in the conquest, and among 
the lawyers (Licentiados,) that the court sent 
to govern the provinces, -and serve as a counter- 
poise to the usurping power of the generals. A 
great number of the encomiendas, and the best, 
were given to the monks. Religion, which, by 
its principles, ought to be favourable to liberty, 
was debased in availing itself of the slavery of the 
people. This distribution of the Indians attached 
them to the soil ; their labour belonged to the 
encamenderos. The vassal frequently took the 
family name of his master ; many Indian families 
bear Spanish names to this day, without having 
ever mixed their blood with that of Europeans. 
The court of Madrid thought it gave protectors 
to the Indians ; but it had increased the evil, by 
rendering the oppression more systematic. 

" Such was the state of the Mexican cultivators 
in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Since 
the eighteenth, their lot has become progressively 
more fortunate : the families of the conquerors 
are partly extinct : the encomiendas, considered 
as fiefs, hevve not been distributed anew; the 


v iceroys, and especially the audiencias, have 
watched over the interests of the Indians; their 
liberties, arid in many provinces, even their com- 
forts, have increased gradually. Above all, it 
was Charles III. who, by measures no less wise 
than energetic, was the benefactor of the na- 
tives : he abolished the encomiendas, and prohi- 
bited the repartimientos, by which the corregi- 
dores arbitrarily constituted themselves the cre- 
ditors, and consequently masters of the labour of 
the natives, in providing for them, at exorbi- 
tant terms, horses, mules, and dress. The establish- 
ment of intendancies, which is due to the adminis- 
tration of the Count de Galvez, has become a 
memorable era for the benefit of the Indians. 
The annoyances to which the cultivator was in- 
cessantly exposed on the part of the Spanish 
and Indian subaltern magistrates, have greatly 
diminished under the active inspection of the 
superintendents ; the natives begin to enjoy the 
advantages which the laws, generally mild and 
humane, have granted them, but of which they 
were deprived in- ages of barbarism and op- 
pression. The first appointment of persons to 
whom the court confided the important places of 
superintendents, or of governors of provinces, was 
very fortunate. Among the twelve who adminis- 
tered the country in 1804, there was not one 
whom the public accused of corruption, or want 
of integrity."* 

* See his Fjsayon New Spain. 


Heaven far bid that I should endeavour to 
palliate the crimes of those rapacious and unjust 
men who availed themselves of the gifts of civi- 
lization only for the purpose of reducing the 
unhappy Indians to slavery ! The observations 
of M, de Humboldt are equally just and wise; 
when the Spaniards conquered Mexico ? they 
found a people who had made a great progress in 
civilization, and to whom there was only wanting 
a knowledge of the art of writing, to be on a 
level with the greater part of the European na- 
tions of that period. The Mexicans were cultiva- 
tors, and practised many of our mechanical and 
chemical arts : a good government, and wise laws 5 
would have exacted the adoration of a people 
that groaned under the double tyranny of a Mon- 
tezuma, and the most debusing feudality. 

But, the aboriginal natives of Venezuela, were 
then in a very different situation : they had made 
no advances from a savage state, scarcely culti- 
vating a few roots, and depending for the re- 
mainder of their wants on the spontaneous pro- 
ductions of nature, which were lavished in a cli- 
mate so inviting to indolence. The Caribbs, Pa- 
rian, and Caraccayans, had not arrived at the 
knowledge of domesticating animals ; they were 
not even herdsmen or shepherds, and conse- 
quently far inferior to the Bedouins and Tartars. 
Something more than mere exhortations was 
therefore requisite to withdraw them from such a 
life, and induce them to become cultivators. 


Even to this day the Indian tribes of the new 
world, so far from being ameliorated in their 
condition, have become completely depraved, 
and are almost extinct in the neighbourhood of 
European settlements, particularly the British and 
French, which have not subjected them to their 
laws. Since the abolition of the Jesuits, drunk- 
enness, licentiousness, and . the small pox, have 
destroyed nearly all the communities that lived 
in the vicinity ofHhe French and English posses- 
sions in the two Americas. At Cayenne, for ex- 
ample, more than sixty thousand Indians were 
counted in 1720; and fifteen years after they had 
lost their Jesuit missionaries, that is to say in 
1777, there remained only four or. five thousand ; 
in 1809, there were scarcely two hundred ! 

It is not much more than ten years since the 
savages of Brazil were still subjected to a kind of 
feudal system ; the native population, far from 
becoming annihilated, as in the neighbourhood of 
the British and French possessions, had increased 
as well as in the Spanish colonies. At that period 
M. de Souza Coutinho, governor of Grand Par&, 
liberated by order of his government, two hun- 
dred thousand Indians, all cultivators, carpenters, 
cabinet-makers, masons, Ac. in that province only. 
If the ancestors of those savages had been 
abandoned to themselves, and not collected toge- 
gether under the care of missionaries and Euro- 
pean chiefs, the vicinity of the white colonists; of 
whom they contract only the vices, when they 


are not held in subjection by a vigilant and steady 
police, would no doubt have reduced them to as 
small a number as those who vegetate, and are on 
the point of extinction in French Guiana and 

It is truly surprising, that a country which be- 
gan under such unfavourable auspices in 1629, 
should have had a considerable population in 1660* 
At that period, the towns of Cumana, Coro, Bar- 
quisimeto, Palmes de Nirga, Tocuyo, Borburato, 
Valencia, Truxillo, and Collado were already 
founded. The district of the Lake Maracaibo, 
which at first formed the government of Vene- 
zuela, that has since given its name to the general 
government of Caraccas, and which now forms 
one of the states of the Venezuelan confederation, 
was first visited in 1499, by Alfonso Ojeda. 
This adventurer did not form any establishment 
there, and only thought of plunder. The first 
colonial establishment, that of Coro, was made 
in 1527, by Ampues : in the following year the 
colony was delivered to the Welsers, under the 
tyranny of whom it languished until 1545. 

It was therefore, in the short space of twenty- 
five years that the towns mentioned after Cu- 
mana and Coro, were founded. No historical 
record informs us of ' the population of Ma- 
racaibo or Coro in 1560; but according to a ma- 
nuscript which I received from a respectable 
inhabitant of the Caraccas in 1807, the popula- 
tion of Maracaibo, in 1560, was about 16,000. 


The resources of that country, and perseverance 
of the first colonists, must have been great, to 
produce such an increase, without any commer- 
cial connection with the mother country. Pre- 
vious to 1660, no ship had ever sailed from 
Spain to exchange its productions for those 
of the colony; the intercourse of the Welsers 
having had for their object only the discovery 
and working of the mines. But a considerable 
population being created by the marriages of 
Europeans with the Indian women, those colonists 
sent a deputy to Spain in 1555, calling upon their 
sovereign for a reform in the colonial adminis- 
tration, and permission to despatch annually from 
Spain to the port of Borburata, at the expense 
and risque of the colonists, a vessel, whose cargo 
should be liable to pay only half the excessive 
duties then levied on cargoes that arrived at, or 
were sent from America. This favour was grant- 
ed in December, 15Qp: from that time until 1575, 
a ship went every year to Borburato. But the 
town of Caraccas having been founded in 1565, 
by Diego Lozada, and that part of the colony 
becoming more populous than the district of 
Maracaibo, owing to the superior fertility of its 
soil and delightful climate, the ship ceased to 
visit Borburata from 1576, thenceforth frequent- 
ing La Guyra, the nearest port to the Carac- 
cas. Pearls were the principal object. taken in 
return: a little cocoa, vanilla, indigo, arnotto, 
and deer skins, formed the remainder of the 


the cargo. But the rapacity and want of pre- 
caution with which the pearl fishery was carried 
an, about the Island .of Margarita, caused the 
almost total destruction of the oysters that pro* 
dueed them, at the same time that it occasioned 
the loss of thousands of Indians who were forci- 
bly employed as divers in the fishery. This oc- 
cupation having been fruitless, during the last 
hundred and fifty years, it has been abandoned, ai\d 
the oysters m which the pearls are found, hav* 
again multiplied on the coasts of that island. In 
1807, I saw a person, who had procured about 
four hundred of them, in the course of the pre* 
ceding yean 

The colony remained for a long time in the 
same state; its population increasing by the 
abundance of its provisions, but unable to en- 
rich itself from the want of commerce. The 
Dutch, who had formed an establishment at 
CurtKjoa in 1634, did not, however, delay enter- 
ing into commercial connections with the Spanish 
colonists ; agriculture then assumed another as- 
pect, and cocoa .soon became the principal article 
of cultivation. The animals received from En* 
rope, were better managed ; they have sine* 
multiplied to such & degree, that the Colonists 
having many more than they could keep, horses, 
asses, mules and oxen, have at length ran wild 
in the desert plaks and forests, where travellers 
and hunters find them in herds of many thousands. 

When the relative increase and prosperity of 


this colony was known in Europe, and also thd 
large profits gained there by the Dutch in their 
contraband trade, the Spanish merchants peti- 
tioned their government for permission to senc} 
cargoes out. But, as it was necessary to have 
a special licence from the king, for the despatch 
of each vessel, which licences were very expen- 
sive, and as they were granted on the express 
condition that they should be sent from Seville 
only, as also that they should return to dis- 
charge at that port, not to mention the enor- 
mous imposts exacted on leaving Spain arid 
reaching America : it was found totally impos- 
sible to support a competition with the Dutch 
interlopers in the new world : consequently the 
two vessels which were sent from Seville in 
1655 and 1656, made ruinous voyages. Other 
merchants having attempted to renew this trade 
by sending three ships in 1680, were not more 
fortunate, in consequence of the imbecile rapa- 
city of their government. The company of Gui- 
puscoa was formed in 1722. The object of this 
association was to engross the trade of the colony, 
to the exclusion of the Dutch. Its first opera- 
tions were favourable to the colonists, and pn> 
fitable to the share-holders; but the old spirit 
of insatiable avarice, that always gain* the ascen- 
dency in commercial monopolies, did not fail 
soon to render the company odious to both colo- 
nists and government. Its agents having found 
it more profitable to trade with the Dutch in 


Curtujoa, than with Spain, elided by sending 
wry few vessels to the latter country. It is curi- 
ous to observe how in all times, and in every 
nation, this monstrous avarice of exclusive com- 
panies has produced the same results, arid -con- 
cluded by effecting their destruction. It is con* 
fidently said, that, for about fifteen years past, 
the British East India Company sell licences or 
protections to neutrals to trade to their ports in 
India. This knavery, (what other term can morfc 
appropriately be applied to it?) has produced 
some colossal fortunes in England and America, 
whilst the trade was prohibited to the merchants 
of England, Ireland and Scotland.* 

* It is sincerely to be hoped that the above assertion was 
merely a report; if otherwise, the author's language is certainly 
not too strong; and whether true or false, the recent alteration 
in the East India Company's charter, has removed the evil. 
God knows the mercantile sovereigns of the east, have enough 
«>f sins to answer for, without the disreputable charge of adding 
to their revenue in the manner stated by M. Xiavaysse. But 
the author is by no means singular in his dislike to exclusive 
privileges in commerce. The Abbe de Pradt, whose enlightened 
opinions on the subject cannot be too often read, or highly 
praised, observes — " To see the use which the moderns have 
made of exclusive commercial companies ; to contemplate this 
practice as consecrated by nations and ages ; to compare the 
system with those effects which it has never failed to produce, 
together with the expences into which it has led the mother 
country and her colonies ; it is scarcely possible to avoid being 
surprized at the respect one has felt towards institutions, that 
have been thus sanctioned no less by the imposing authority of 


20 FBfiB TRADE, 

The company of Guipusooa, after having ex* 
perienced various modifications, was at last abo- 
lished in 1778, by an edict of Charles III., to 
which the Spaniards have given the term of the 
" edict of free trade." From that period, a* 
glorious for the monarch as it was fortunate for 
the mother country and its colonies, is to be 
dated an increase of population and wealth 
which can scarcely be believed, under a govern* 
merit vicious in every other respect. The popu- 

their authors, than the seal of time. To buy at a low price 
from the producer, and sell dearly to the consumer ; to graduate 
the proportion of abundance, not on public want, but according 
to the interest of the privileged few, has always, and ever will 
be, the maxim of exclusive companies : they will think much less- 
of providing for those who have the misfortune of being left to 
their mercy, than of keeping away those who wish to partici- 
pate in their profits. People have invariably adduced the ad- 
vantages of exclusive commerce to palliate the odious parts of it. 
Bat who can ever believe that a nation ought to be excluded for 
its advantage ? It is high time to speak in the language of 
froth, and proclaim that the word exclusive should be hence- 
forth banished from the vocabulary of every civilized people, 
and confined to that of Turkey or other countries equally en- 
lightened!"— See Chap. X. of the Abbe's famous work on the 
Clofonies. Nor is our own celebrated political economist Adam 
Smith much more partial to trading companies. See the admir- 
able remarks fa VoL II. p. 505, et passim, of his admirable 
work on the Wealth of Nations, wherein that independent writer 
does not hesitate to declare mercantile companies incapable of 
consulting their true interests when they become sovereigns, 
finally considering them as a public nuisance. — Ed. 


latum of Venezuela alone has more than doubled 
in the space of twenty -nine years ; it was a 
million of souls in 1809. 

The edict of 1778 was issued most oppor- 
tunely, at a moment when the British colonies 
of North America had risen to shake off the yoke 
of the parent state ; so that the Spanish colonists 
testified no desire to imitate their neighbours, 
and seemed contented with what was granted to 
them* The principles of the French revolution 
did not as yet inflame their minds, though some 
individuals endeavoured to convince the people, 
they also had a right to civil and political liberty. 
It is, however, a singular feet, that whilst Great 
Britain was at war with Prance, under the spe- 
cious pretence of preserving herself from its prin- 
ciples, her ministers no sooner heard of the 
treaty of Basle, by which Spam made peace 
with France, than they lavished the public trea- 
stfres to propagate ideas that had been dissipated 
in France, as soon as the commotions insepar- 
able from such a great revolution had ceased. 
Scarcely had the Island of Trinidad been deliver* 
ed to them, than they established a focus of in- 
surrection, destined not only to render Spanish 
America independent, but to overturn and ruin 
it like our colonies* Historical impartiality re- 
quires me to state that His Royal Highness the 
Prince of Wales, as well as many distinguished 
personages in England, expressed their indigna- 
tion at this perfidious mode of making war. 


At the time that Great Britain took possession 
of Trinidad, great discontents had prevailed in 
the province of Caraccas for some months, owing 
to the exactions recently committed by the officers 
of the customs, and the vexations practised by a 
police magistrate* 

During these occurrences, three Spanish state 
prisoners arrived at La Guayra, condemned 
to imprisonment for life in one of the forts. 
These were men of great talents : one of them,. 
Picornel, had been surnamed by his coun- 
trymen, the Spanish Mirabeau; they availed 
themselves of the public discontent, to interest 
the commander and officers of the garrison in 
their fate. Farenheit's thermometer is generally 
at ninety degrees in the casemates, in which they 
were ordered to be confined, a circumstance that 
excited the pity of the garrison. The commander, 
therefore, took upon himself to allow them the 
fort as their prison. The eloquence of Picornel, 
and the singular talents of his two companions, 
gave rise to the esteem and friendship of all those 
who saw them ; the inhabitants of the neighbour- 
hood obtained leave to visit the fort. On perceiv- 
ing every one, even to the priests and monks, 
exasperated against the administrators of the 
colony, the triumvirate formed the bold project 
of delivering the country from the yoke of its 
oppressors. Don Joseph de Espafia, corregidor of 
Macuto, and Don Manuel Gual, captain of engi- 


titers, both natives of Caraccaa, undertook to 
organize this revolution. 

The prisoners, however, finding that the con- 
spirators were not sufficiently forward in putting 
their project into execution, and fearihg a disoo* 
very, made their escape : soon after one of them 
became mad and died. The 14th July, 1797, 
was the day fixed by Espafla and Gaul, for raising 
the standard of independence : those conspirators 
were not Cat alines; they were the most distin- 
guished men in the colony for their talents, virtues, 
fortune, and even their birth. Their object was 
to possess themselves of the beads of the govern- 
ment, to keep them as hostages, and treat them 
with the greatest kindness, especially the Captain 
General Carbonel, who detested, and had even 
endeavoured by every means in his power to put 
an end to the crying vexations committed by cer- 
tain administrators : their plan was imitated in all 
points by the congress of Venezuela, when it 
declared itself independent of the Junta of Cadiz, 
in 181 1* On the 13th July, 1797, in the evening, 
a conspirator seized with fear, went to the cathe- 
dral and rang one of the bells. It is thus that a cri- 
minal acts in Spain, after haying committed mur- 
der, in order that a priest may go and give him 
absolution, and secure impunity for him. This 
man required they should conduct him to the arch- 
bishop, to whom he promised to reveal the con- 
spiracy, on condition that the Captain General 
and the Audiencia would guarantee his life. What 

24 E8PANA. 

hd d&ntadedwas granted. Orders were suddenly 
issued to arrest all the persons he accused : Espafia 
and Gual, who were at La Guayra, had timely 
notice to escape ; which they effected in a boat to 
Cusa<?oa, from whence' they went to Trinidad, 
where I became acquainted with them. The 
other conspirators*, to the number of seventy- two, 
were arrested and imprisoned. The colonial 
government sent a despatch to Spain, to give in- 
telligence of this occurrence. The king, after 
having received the official report, convinced 
that his Venezuelan subjects had been driven to 
despair and rebellion by the unheard-of exactions 
of his administrators, ordered that the conspira- 
tors should be treated with clemency and sent to 
Spain. But the latter had reason to fear, that if 
they Were sent, the truth would have been made 
known to the sovereign, and themselves sacrificed 
to the just resentment of the colonists. This was 
the motive which induced them, instead of obey- 
ing the order of their sovereign , to linger out the 
process of the prisoners ; and it may be well suppos- 
ed they did not omit informing the minister, rea- 
sons of state required that, at least, some of the 
principal heads should fall. 

During the above period Espafia was at Trini- 
dad, the most unhappy of mankind, by his sepa- 
ration from a wife and children whom he tenderly 
loved. It was not unknown at Trinidad that the 
king had recommended clemency: this intelli- 
gence, and the desire of seeing his family again, 



induced him to adopt the resolution of returning 
to hi* country, in spite of all that those who were 
most interested m his fate could say to dissuade 
him from it* He, therefore, returned to the 
neighbourhood of Caraccas, where he remained 
concealed for some time, at the house of a friend, 
where be had the consolation of seeing* his wife 
and children occasionally* It would seem as if 
the Audiencia had, until then, respected the king's 
order, only for the purpose of attracting Espafia 
and Gual into the country, two men whose talents, 
courage, and popularity they most feared* As had 
beenforboded by his friends, the retreat of Espafia 
was discovered, the house surrounded, and himself 

The trial of the conspirators had now been 
carried on for nearly two years; every one 
supposed that, in consequence of the king's or- 
ders, they would be no further punished than 
hy sending them to Spain* During those 
events, a new captain general came to take pos- 
session of the government of those provinces: 
scarcely had Espafia been taken, when the trial, 
which many supposed forgotten, was renewed : 
this created the utmost consternation, and excited 
a great fermentation in the country. The new 
captain general, Don Miguel de Vasconoellos, 
received anonymous letters, threatening another 
disturbance, if the life of Don Joseph de Espafia 
should be endangered. Those letters produced 
no other effect than that of irritating him* Vas- 

20 fiMPEBA*. 

poncellos possessed neither the knowledge, virtue^ 
nor the calm firmness of Carbonel, his prede- 
cessor : yet he was not mplicious or tyrannical, 
but one of those narrow-minded men who conceal 
their weakness by a degree of violence, to which 
they endeavour in vain to give the appearance of 
greatness of mind and fortitude. Instead of con- 
trouling the subalterns, he neglected every 
part of the administration, except the military ; 
complaint and murmurs recommenced, and the 
oppressors of the colony represented those com- 
plaints and murmuring to him as indicating a 
spirit of revolt. Severe measures were redoubled 
at the moment when most people called for, and 
all would have been satisfied by a removal pf the 
abuses. As a proof that it was the excess of op- 
pression, and not the contagion of revolutionary 
principles, that inspired the inhabitants of Ca- 
raccas with the desire of throwing off the Spanish 
yoke, it should be remarked that the province of 
Cumana, or New Andalusia, did not participate 
in those troubles, although both these . province* 
were adjacent ; and the English, who had then 
much more commercial intercourse with Cumana 
than the Caraccas, had omitted nothing to propa- 
gate a spirit of independence in New Andalusia* 
But the latter was governed by a man of inte- 
grity, and of a disinterested, firm character, Em- 
paran : under such heads, symptoms of discontent 
or revolt are never manifested. 

But to return to the process against Espana 


and the other conspirators ; the threat* addressed 
to the captain general produced no other efiect 
than that of hastening their ruin. It was disco- 
vered afterwards that those anonymous menace* 
had been fabricated by the auditor of war, Lav-» 
nes ; who, seeing that the Captain General Vas- 
concettos inclined to mercy, invented the above 
diabolical stratagem, to exasperate him against 
the accused. This malignant magistrate, who 
had long sold his decisions at Trinidad and Ca- 
raccas to the highest bidder, and who the con* 
gress of. Venezuela had merely banished, knew 
that if Espafia should obtain access to the throne, 
he would reveal bis numerous extortions. 

Seven of the accused were condemned to die ; 
one, of them for contumacy. Five were executed 
at La Guayra in the beginning of May, 1799, and 
on the 8th of the same month, Don Joseph de Es- 
pafia was drawn and quartered at Caraccas. " Can* 
ducted to execution," says a celebrated writer, 
whom I shall quote on this occasion, u he saw the 
approach of death with the courage of a man born 
for great actions."* Thirty-three of the other pri- 
soners were condemned to the gallies : there re- 
mained in prison thirty-two, against whom there 
were no proofs ; they were sent to Spain : Charles 
IV. pardoned them in 1802, and gave them em- 
ployments, on condition that they should never 
return to their own country. 

* M. de Humboldt. 


During the time proceedings were carrying* on 
against Espafia, one of fak relations went to a, 
Scotchman residing at Oaraecas, who was the 
secret agent and banker of his government in 
that • capital : the Venezuelan told the agent 
that the relations and friends of Espafia had 
subscribed to form a sum of thirty thousand dol 
lars, by means of which they would save his 
life : the half of this sum was to be paid to Lav-* 
nes, who had put that price on his escape, and 
the remaining fifteen thousand dollars were des- 
tined for the jailor, who had promised to run away 
.with him. A boat was waiting for them in the 
port of La Guayra ; the prisoner's friends were 
deficient of eight thousand dollars ; every species 
of security was offered to obtain from him that 
Bum by way of loan. This man, who had then 
more than a hundred thousand dollars in his chest, 
«ad who had inveigled the too credulous Espafia 
into his schemes, was deaf and insensible to their 
proposals 1 

• I was acquainted with Espafia : he had one of 
those frank and open countenances, but pensive 
«nd full of sensibility, such as I have sometimes 
seen, though very rarely, so fine, in the new 
world ; a primordial type, of which scarcely any 
traces remain, except in the Pyrenees, Switzer- 
land, the mountains of Scotland, and in some 
elevated regions in which the inhabitants have 
not been much intermingled with their neigh- 
bours. He was descended from an illustrious Bis- 

cayan f&mily, transplanted to Ameriea, iris m 
went to Guadaloupe, and from thenoe io France, 
where he hew found friend* and a second country* 

Glial, abandoned by the British government m 
1801, soon afterwards .died of a broken heart in 
Trinidad. It appears that in that year, Great 
Britain had deemed it proper to defer the anarchy 
of the Spanish colonies; for the Governor of 
Trinidad eeased to pension the persons he eon-* 
ployed for that purpose, and to encourage those 
who were really desirous of the independence of 
their country. This requires some explanation.* 

There is a period when colonies must ceaae to 
be subject to the countries that helve founded 
them : nature herself indicates that period : it is 
that in which they have sufficient strength to 
maintain themselves in regard to self-defence and 
commerce. The Spanish colonies, the islands of 
Cuba, Porto Rico, and Trinidad excepted, have 
approached rapidly to this situation for mare 
than half a century. The identity of religion, 
opinions, recollections, origin and language ; the 
ties of kindred ; all that of which the endearing 
name of country, is composed, formed the moral 
cement which retained tho$e of Spam under the 

* It does ! and the editor trusts far the honour of his country, 
that (he friends of those ministers who patronized the heroic but 
dhfatunate Miranda, will come fin-ward to disprove many of those 
♦barge* whi*h remit unanswered, bat nMefa his JnpartiaMtY 
and lovt of truth wiU not allow the editor to ragprea* . ' 


authority of the common sovereign. In that re- 
spect, they differ from those which now form the 
United States of North America, whose inhabi- 
tants have sprung from colonies and emigrants 
sent out from nearly all the nations of Europe » 
The white population of the Spanish colonies 
having, on the contrary, an homogeneal origin* 
it is easy to conceive that nothing less than great 
oppressions in the government of one of those 
colonies, or a revolution occurring in the mother 
country, could break the moral ties by which it 
remained subject to its sovereign. These principles 
are advanced in order to distinguish the peaceable 
citizens and proprietors of a country, who are 
solicitous solely for its independence, from the 
factious agitators and spies hired by a powerful 
enemy, to propagate discord and anarchy in it. 

An excellent governor, Don Vincente de Em-' 
paran, had, by the mere influence of his wisdom 
and virtues, put an end to public discontent in 
the provice of Cumana, after the catastrophe of 
Espafia. The fruits of his beneficent administration 
were still enjoyed under his successor, Don Ma- 
nuel de Cagigal, in 1807, when I was in Cumana. 
Having, one day entered the store of a grocer, 
in that town, I found him occupied in making 
paper bags and wrappers of the declarations of 
the rights of man, copies of. the social contract* 
and the bulls true or false of Pope Pius VI. which 
excommunicated the French nation. I inquired 
how those papers had come to his shop ; the fol- 


lowing was his answer: " I made a voyage to 

Trinidad after the peace of Amiens : Mr. . 

gave me a bale containing five hundred copies of 
each of these writings, and as many by a Peruvian 
Jesuit, who, has long resided in London, by which 
he instigated us to renounce our allegiance to our 
sovereign, and promised us the assistance of Eng- 
land. Such bales are given to all the traders who 
frequent the ports of Trinidad. As for me, I took 
mine to the governor, after having reserved some 
copies for making bags, &c. It must be acknow- 
ledged," added this Creole, a man of singular good 
sense, " that the British ministers are as perfidious 
as they are inconsistent : they .send us these 
writings in order to inculcate democratic princi- 
ples, whilst they at another time declared war 
against France, under the pretext of opposing 
her in an attempt to establish for herself that 
form of government which they now wish by all 
means to force us to adopt. They are Protestants* 
and they send us the Pope's bulls against the 
French, to inspire us with horror for that nation* 
They must truly deem us a very stupid race, in 
supposing that we can be entrapped in such a man-* 
tier," " My friend/* Ixeplied, " it is of very little 
consequence to those ministers under what form 
of government you Or we live : their great object 
is to sow enmity and discord among other nations* 
to obtain a monopoly of their commerce : that is 
the sole aim of their policy/' 

The reforms effected jn the province of Cargo* 


cas by Don Pedro Carbonel, and in that of Cu- 
mana by Don V. de Emparan, (the two principal 
provinces of the general government of Vene- 
zuela,) had calmed and satisfied all minds ; but, 
with those governors, it was not long before the 
good they had introduced also disappeared. The 
Captain General Vasconcellos having placed all 
his confidence, and in some measure transferred 
his authority to Lavnes, tyranny and extortions 
again distracted the colonists. General Miranda 
was invited by thousands of letters to go and 
place himself at the head of the insurgents in the 
year 1805. He appeared on the coast of Porto 
Cavello m the month of May, 1806 ; bat the ves- 
sel that conveyed him was repulsed by the Spanish 
gun-boats. He repaired to Trinidad in the fol- 
lowing month, and departed from it cm the 1st of 
August, accompanied by about one hundred and 
eighty volunteers, escorted by a sloop of war from 
the squadron of Admiral Cochrane. Six days 
afterwards he landed at Coro, where he remained 
twelve days with his little troop, without being, 
attacked by Colonel Salis, who was posted at four 
leagues from him. Miranda found the people of 
that thinly inhabited part of the province, very 
little disposed for a revolution, and seeing himself 
abandoned by the British admiral, who had pro* 
mised him powerful aid, he decided on returning 
to Trinidad, where he was the object of the most 
cruel raillery, both to the English generals whe 
had deceived him, and of those persons who had 


previously lavished the meanest flatteries on him, 
when they expected to see him soon become the 
head of a new state. I shall say nothing of the 
events that have since elevated him to the place 
of supreme chief of the United States of Vene- 
zuela, because I \?as not there when that revolu- 
tion brokerout ; but I know that the persecutions 
exercised against the French, when that state 
was governed by the agents of the Junta of Cadiz, 
have ceased since the authority has passed into 
the hands of General Miranda and the indepen- 
dent party. 

Here it is necessary to direct the reader's atten- 
tion to two things : the first is, that as soon as 
the Audiencia cf Caraccas had information that 
General Miranda was preparing at New York 
to invade his country, they hastened to put an 
end to public discontent, by prohibiting exac- 
tions and abuses, afid by displacing some subaltern 
agents; which proves how mild the people are, 
and easy to be governed. 

In the second place, it is to be observed that 
the British ministry of this period, the close of 
1806, caused to be inserted in the London Ga- 
zette, an official letter from Admiral Cochrane, 
in which he announced the capture of Caraccas 
by General Miranda, While they ought to have 
known that the general had not approached 
within fifty leagues of that capital. As there 
were negociations for pe$ee at the time, they 



thought, perhaps, that this petty trick would 

have an influence on those which related to 


This country is bounded on the north by the 
Caribbean Sea, and extends southward from St* 
Joseph de Rio Negro (where the Portuguese 
possessions begin,) which is in the first degree of 
northern latitude, to Cape de la Vela, in 12° 10'; 
and from east to west from the 62° of "West 
longitude, to 76° 60. French and Dutch Cayenne 
form its eastern limits, and the kingdom of New 
Grenada, or Sanja Fe de Bogota, bounds it on 
the west* A chain of mountains which stretch 
from the Andes de Bogota, meander across the 
country, first in a northern direction, then to- 
wards the east, and at length incline as they ap- 
proach the coast. The Island of Trinidad, which 
is at the end of this chain, and that of Tobago to 
the eastward of Trinidad, are supposed to be ves- 
tiges of the great catastrophe which has detached 
them from it. To the south and north of the 
mountains are vast plains which extend to the 
east and west, and are terminated at the foot of 
the Andes de Bogota. 

There are few countries so well watered, if we 
except the steppes or desarts which have been so 


well described by M. de Humboldt. In a future 
chapter, I shall offer some observations on the 
periodical increase and decrease of the Orinoco. 
There are nearly three hundred and seventy 
marine leagues from the Raudal (cataract) of 
the Guajaribos, east of the Esmeralda (the 
nearest point to its sources, which are unknown) 
to the mouths of the Orinoco. The map prefix- 
ed to this work will shew its windings, the rivers 
it receives, its cataracts, and its depth between 
the town of St. Thomas and the sea, and also 
above the last named place. 

The country is intersected in every direction 
by navigable rivers of various sizes. All those 
which are eastward of Cape de Paria, the Guara- 
piche, and the small rivers that flow into the Gulf 
of Paria excepted, are lost in the Orinoco, 
Many of its tributaries are more considerable 
than some distinguished rivers in Europe: the 
Bio Apure runs nearly one hundred and twelve 
leagues, and is navigable for large vessels for 
more than sixty leagues from its confluence with 
the Orinoco. In latitude 7° 32' N. it has four 
thousand six hundred and thirty-two fathoms in 
width, and is not impeded by islands. 

The Guarapiche pVesents a very remarkable 
phenomeifbn: this river has its source, like all 
those of New Andalusia, in that part of the Lla- 
nos which is denominated Mesa (a platform or 
plain?) de Amana, Mesa de Guanipa, Mesa de 
Taroro, &c. The mountains that separate the ma- 

d 2 


ritime range of Paria from the granitic and am- 
phibolic mountains of the Lower Orinoco, form a 
ridge very little above the rest of the plain ; but 
this elevation, which is called Mesa, is sufficient 
to determine the rivers to run northward towards 
the gulf of Paria, and to the south into the Ori- 
noco. The Guarapiche rises in the Mesa de 
Amana, to the south-west of the village of Ma- 
thurin : it receives near St. Antonio the Rio Co- 
lorado, then the Rio Punceres, and at last the 
large river Arco, which is called Rio de San 
Bonifacio near its source. The Governor Emparan 
had formed some very useful projects for colonial 
establishments on the fertile banks of the Arco 
and Guarapiche. The place where the Arco 
unites with the Guarapiche, at five leagues from 
its mouth, is called the Horquetta, a name given 
by the Spaniards to all junctions of rivers : at that 
point the Guarapiche has a depth of from forty to 
fifty fathoms. Previous to 1766, large vesselscould 
have sailed up the Guarapiche to Mathurin: an 
earthquake has since raised its bed, and now the 
navigation of the Rio Arco is preferable. The lat- 
ter is still sixteen fathoms deep as far as Port San 
Juan, at twenty-five leagues from the sea. I can 
venture to assert that there is no communication 
between the Guarapiche and Orinoco: I have 
never heard it mentioned in all the time I re- 
sided in that country, and in which I travelled 
through it in various directions. I was not a 
little surprised to find in the map of a work, 


otherwise estimable, (Travels of M. de Pons,) a 
pretended canal of Morichal, a natural channel, 
that effected a communication between those two 
rivers above old Cayenne. M. de Humboldt, 
who navigated that river, had also no knowledge 
of any such communication. A geographer who 
raises or sinks mountains, forms or drains marshes 
with the same facility with which he penetrates 
into iron mines to the centre of the earth, has not 
placed in his map this curious and important river j 
and the place where its mouth is found in the 
Gulf of Paria, presents the extremity of a natural 
canal or branch of the Orinoco, which would 
commence on its left bank, at San Thorn^ de An- 
gostura. The Guarapiche, notwithstanding its 
depth, and the great body of water it carries to 
the sea, has only from its sources to its mouth a 
course of thirty-three marine leagues/ 

This country contains a large lake, that of Ma- 
racaybo, some gulfs, and a most interesting lake 
for naturalists, that of Tacarigua. I shall say 
nothing of Lake Parima or El Dorado, which 
has so excited the invention of authors, and the 
avarice of adventurers; nothing being more du- 
bious than its existence ; and according to the 
astronomical observations of M. de Humboldt, 
if such a lake does exist, it ought to be situated 
more to the east, and consequently nearer to 
French Guyana than the maps have placed it. It 
has been suppressed in the new map of South 
America, by Arrowsmith. As for myself, I sas* 


pact that this lake is only an immense plain, inuB* 
dated annually in the rainy season. 

The Lake Tacarigua, to which the Spaniard* 
have given the name of Valencia, is situated at 
the southern extremity of the valley of Arogoa, 
and at twenty French leagues from Caraccas, 
It is elevated twelve hundred feet above the 
level of the sea, and has almost the shape of 
an oblong square; its-length is thirteen league* 
from east to west, and it is two leagues broad in al- 
most its whole extent. The contrast of the desert 
and barren mountains of Guigue, with the hills and 
valliee opposite, ornamented with the most beau- 
tiful tropical vegetation, and even the fields of 
corn and fruit trees of Europe, and the vicinity 
of the Kttle town of Valencia, agreeably remind* 
an European of the lake of Geneva and Vevay. 
The mountains of Caraccas, it is true, have not 
the grand appearance of the Alps; but then 
how much superior the rich,. varied and majestic 
vegetation which ornaments the borders of the 
Tacarigua, is to the most beautiful natural produc- 
tions of Europe ! I was there in company with 
a Dane, (Mr. West,) a man of talents. Whilst 
we were absorbed in the contemplation of thai 
delightful scene, the native of the north suddenly 
exclaimed : " It is here that we should fix our 
residence for the remainder of our lives : I shall 
return to Santa Cruz, there collect my property, 
and come to these charming shores, which shall 
also be my tomb. 9 ' 


Several small rivers and streams flpw into this 
lake, which has no outlet : this has induced the 
people of the country, and even some writers, 
to believe that it communicates with the sea by 
subterraneous channels; but a celebrated natu- 
ralist, who has studied nature on the spot, and 
calculated her operations, thinks that by the 
evaporation more water is exhaled from the lake 
than is carried to it. It is thus that M. de Hum- 
boldt explains the formation of the small islands 
that have been formed in the lake: at first 
they were only sand-banks, which by degrees 
became covered with vegetables. Another 
cause that I had the means of observing at Tri- 
nidad, has contributed, without doubt, to the 
formation of these islands; the draining and 
cultivation of the vallies of Aragoa. There is a 
prodigious difference between the quantity of 
slime carried off by the rains and torrents in a 
cultivated, or a savage country : it is known that 
in the latter the quantity of earth washed away 
is much less than in the former : if the mountains 
and vallies which surround the Lake Tacarigua, 
had not lost their ancient trees and thick turf, 
perhaps it would have required a thousand years 
to have formed these small islands in its bed. 
From time to time new ones are seen to arise. 
The inhabitants of the neighbourhood have given 
to them a name that justly characterises them : 
Las Aparecidas, the new-born islands. A great 
number of small crocodiles are seen in this lake, 


which never attack the persons who go there to 

The shape of the Lake Maracaybo is an oval, of 
fifty leagues in length, by thirty in breadth; 
which makes a circumference -of about a hun- 
dred and fifty leagues : this lake is situated be- 
tween the lowest part of the mountains of Santa 
Martha, and near the place where the chain 
begins, which is detached from the Andes de 
Bogota : it communicates with a gulf of half its 
size, by a passage of about two leagues broad and 
eight long : thus this lake forms a little Mediter- 
ranean: it receives the tribute of more than 
twenty rivers, and a great number of rivulets 
that rundown the two ridges of mountains, be- 
tween which it is situated. The most considerable 
are the Subio and the Matacau ; for the Souba 
and the Cuervos, though wide at their mouths, 
are only creeks fed by torrents, into which the 
waters of the lake recoil during winter. 

The Souba has nearly eight leagues of length, 
and the Cuervos forms a curve of about fifteen 
leagues : both of those creeks are navigable. It 
is between them and the mountains, that the 
Guahiros are found; warlike Indians who have 
never been subjected by the Spaniards. They 
extend to the other side of the mountains, along 
the Rio de la Hache to the borders of the sea. 
The Rio de la Hache in that part forms the 
boundary between the government of Caraccas 
and the kingdom of New Grenada. 


Though the Lake of Maracaybo communicates 
with the sea by a gulf, of which the opening is 
about fifteen leagues, its waters are sweet and fit 
for use ; but when the wind blows inward with 
violence, the sea water rushes into the lake, and 
its water becomes brackish until the wind changes. 
This lake is not subject to tempests; yet when 
the north-wind is strong, it produces a short 
and broken swell that sometimes does considerable 
injury to the smaller craft. 

The tide rises higher in this lake than on the 
adjacent coasts, where it is scarcely perceptible. 
It is the same in the Gulf of Paria, and in that of 
Cariaco, because the tide and wind oppose the 
water there, which continually runs out. On the 
north-west shore of the Lake Maracaybo ia~ an 
extensive mine of asphaltum, of the pame nature 
as that in Trinidad. When the Spaniards dis- 
covered this country, they found a great number 
of Indian villages situated about the lake, built on 
piles, which was the reason that they gave it the 
name of Venezuela, as already noticed. This 
name soon extended to all the province ; of which 
-Coro became the capital. The townofCarao- 
cas having been since made the metropolis of all 
the countries that compose the captain general- 
ship, its district took the name of the Province 
of Venezuela ; the country surrounding the lake 
was named the province of Maracaybo ; the other 
three continental provinces were termed Varinas, 
Guyana, and Cumana. The country known by 


the name of New Andalusia, as well as the Island of 
Margarita, form part of the government of Cumana. 

The Island of Trinidad formed a sixth province 
or particular government, depending on that of 
Caraccas, before the English got possession of it. 
A captain general, intendant, and an audiencia, 
or supreme tribunal of justice and finance, com- 
posed the superior government of those pro- 
vinces. The -provincial governors were directly 
subjected to the captain general of Caraccas in all 
affairs concerning the military and civil govern- 
ment ; to the intendant, of whom they took the 
title of sub-delegates, for financial concerns ; and 
the audiencia was a tribunal to which appeals 
were made, not only from the decisions of the 
provincial courts, but also to which individuals 
had the right of summoning such persons in office 
as they thought they had reason to complain of. 

There was a privilege of appeal from the de- 
crees of the audiencia, to the supreme council of 
the Indies, at Madrid. A government where 
all the departments were so regulated as to watch 
and balance each other, was no doubt admirably 
calculated to protect the rights of the subject, 
and establish a laudable emulation among its 
officers, which ought to promote public pros- 
perity ; and such was always its happy result, 
when those provinces were governed by an honest, 
vigilant and firm captain general, like Don Pe- 
dro Carbon el. But as it unfortunately happens, 
it became an established practice at Madrid to 


give or sell the administrative and judicial 
places to the lowest class of offioe clerks, and 
those of lawyers, who paid an annual acknow- 
ledgment to their patrons ; arid that this abuse 
had extended even to the nomination of the most 
insignificant military commands, it is easy to 
conceive how the colonists must have been op- 
pressed under such a system, particularly when- 
ever it happened that the captain general was 
a rapacious man, desirous to acquire a fortune, 
and return to Europe to enjoy it. 

According to M. Depons, the population of 
the five provinces of Venezuela, Varinas, Mara- 
caybo, Cumana, and Guyana, amounted to only 
seven hundred and twenty-eight thousand souk 
in 1802. In his calculation the whites composed 
two-tenths of this population, the slaves three, 
the free people of colour four, and the Indians 
one tenth. Agreeably to this calculation, there 
ought to have been two hundred and eighteen 
thousand four hundred slaves in those provinces, 
whilst, in reality, there were not fifty-eight 
thousand. ^ 

This is the manner in which M. Depons distri- 
butes the population : 

Venezuela and Varinas - 500,000* souls. 

Maracaybo - - - 100,000 

Cumana and Margarita ' - 94,000 

Spanish Guay ana - - 84,000 

Total 728,000 souls. 


According to the calculations of M . de Hum- 
boldt, which correspond with the documents 
that were furnished to myself, five years after 
his residence in Caraccas, the population of those 
provinces, was in 1800, about nine hundred thou- 
sand souls, of whom only fifty-four thousand 
were slaves. A well informed administrator of 
Cumana, communicated some statements to me 
in the month of May, 1807, by which it would 
appear that the population of those provinces 
amounted to more than nine hundred and seventy- 
five thousand souls. It is true that there had 
been comprised in that table an enumeration of 
several tribes of Indians not united in missions ; 
for instance, the Guaraouins, who live in the 
small islands situated at the mouth of the Orinoco, 
and of whom the number is supposed to be about 
ten thousand ; some hordes of Arroouaks, who 
live between the Orinoco and the Rio Esequibo, 
about four thousand ; and lastly, the Guahiros, 
who live in the mountains situated between the 
Lake of Maracaybo and the Rio de la Hache, 
whose number cannot be less than fifty thousand 
persons. We shall observe, by the way, that 
M. Depons, after having said at page 313 of 
the first volume of his travels, that this tribe 
contains only thirty thousand individuals, say a, 
at page 319, that they can muster fourteen thou- 
sand warriors ! 

In the states of which I have just spoken, 
there was to be found a table of the progressive 


population of the rallies of the Cape de Paria, 
where, since the year 1794, there have been 
established a considerable number of cultivators 
from various nations, particularly Irish and 
French : the latter are the chief part of the co- 
lonists of Grenada, Tobago, and Trinidad, who 
sought an asylum there from oppression. This 
new colony, unknown to the rest of the world, 
contains about seven thousand individuals of all 
ages, ranks and colours. Those of the Punta de 
Piedra cultivate cocoa successfully; those of 
Guira cotton wool : there are some sugar plan- 
tations, and some of coffee in the other vallies. 
1 passed some very agreeable moments among 
those worthy people in 1807. Their manner of 
life, simple and laborious, the abundance and 
comfort in every necessary, the absence of all 
that approaches luxury in their dress, furniture, 
and houses ; the good will, harmony, and hospi- 
tality that prevailed among them, (there was 
neither lawyer nor inn-keeper, and very few 
doctors) made me particularly regret their so- 
ciety. I left in that infant colony men who had 
figured in the most brilliant companies of Ger- 
many and France : the latter are Frenchmen ; 
some who have been obliged to fly from the per- 
secutions of two or three renegados of their na- 
tion, established at Trinidad, and who, banished 
for ever from France, have become the most bit- 
ter enemies of their former countrymen : others 
are Frenchmen who have chosen rather to aban- 


don their properties in the islands conquered by 
the British, than to take oaths and sign declara- 
tions hostile to their sovereign. These men, 
frank, energetic, laborious, strangers to all poli- 
tical intrigue, and who have no other wish than 
that of cultivating their new plantations in peace, 
were yet annoyed, and some of them plundered 
by a Spanish administrator, at a time when the 
British government possessed a great influence 
in the colonies of the former nation. But since 
the independent party has obtained the ascen- 
dency at Caraccas over that of the Junta, and 
that liberal principles have succeeded to tyranny 
and fanaticism, the colonists of the French origin 
established in the state of Venezuela partake 
with the other citizens the benefit of the new 

As I have spoken of the oppressions commit- 
ted on the peaceable French cultivators, at the 
instigation of others, it will not be out of place 
here to add, that it was at the demand of an 
agent of the British government, that several 
hundreds of the unfortunate colonists of St. 
Domingo, refugees in the island of Cuba, were 
expelled from it in 1808 : and what had these un- 
happy colonists done against that government ? 
The greater part of them had fought under its 
banners, when in the delirium of jealousy and 
hatred, and in the beginning of the French revo- 
lution it sent pretended succours to them, under 
the pretext of quelling the insurrection; but, in 

caraccas; 47 

reality, to accomplish the ruin of that queen of 
colonies! Those interesting victims had con- 
veyed to the United States, and from thence, 
amidst a thousand dangers, to the Island of Cuba, 
their wives, children, and some portion of the 
wreck of their fortunes, which they had saved 
from the fury of the negroes, or from the rapa- 
city of the British : they lived unknown to the 
rest of mankind, clearing the forests to plant the 
means of subsistence there ! 

Caraccas, the metropolis of the province of 
Venezuela while under the Spanish yoke, was 
founded in 1566, by Diego de Losada : it is situa- 
ted in the delicious Valley of Arragon. Its ele- 
vation above the level of the sea is three thousand 
feet, according to the observations made by M. 
de Humboldt at the Trinity church. Although 
it is in 10° 30' of latitude, and 67° of West longi- 
tude, this elevation, added to some other local 
causes, suffices to give it during our winter, the 
temperature of our spring, and in that season, 
the heat is very seldom so great as in our sum- 
mers : this will be seen by the thermometrical 
observations inserted in the course of this chapter* 
It is the residence of the captain general ; of the 
intendant ; of the audiencia, or supreme adminis- 
trative and judicial tribunal ; of an archbishop ; 
a chapter ; a tribunal of the inquisition (abolished 
by the present government,) and an university ; 
it has some what of a triangular shape, and is 
about two thousand toises long on each of its sides. 


Like all other towns in the new world, its streets 
are drawn at right angles, and are rather 
wide. Being built on an unequal surface, what- 
ever Caraccas wants in regularity, it gains in 
picturesque effect : many of the houses have ter- 
raced roofs, others are covered with bent tiles ; 
there are many that have only a ground floor ; 
the rest have but one story more : they are built 
either of brick or of earth well pounded, and 
covered with stucco, of an architecture sufficiently 
solid, elegant, and adapted to the climate. Many 
of them have gardens in their rear, which is the 
reason that this town has an extent equal to an 
European one that would contain a hundred 
thousand persons. Four beautiful streams that 
traverse it, contribute to its coolness and clean- 
liness, and give it an air of animation which is not 
found in towns deprived of running water. As in 
some towns of the Alps and Pyrenees, each house- 
holder in Caraccas has the invaluable advantage 
of having in his house a pipe of running and lim- 
pid water, which does not prevent all the squares, 
and almost all the streets from having public 
fountains. In general there is much luxury and 
gilding in the decorations of the houses of wealthy 
persons, and among all, more cleanliness and 
comfort than in Spain. This town does not 
possess any public edifice remarkable for its beauty 
and size, with the exception of the church of Alta 
Gracia, built at the expense of the people of colour 
in Caraccas and its vicinity. 

The town is divided intoiive parishes: that of the 
Cathedral, Alta Graoia, Saint Paolo, Saint Rosalia, 
and La Candelaria. Three other churches belong 
to confraternities: Saint Maurice, the Divina 
Pastora, and the Trinidad. Though the archi- 
tecture of those churches has nothing remarkable, 
they are solidly built, and richly ornamented in 
the interior. The cathedral is two hundred and 
fifty feet long by seventy-five broad, and its walls 1 
are thirty-six feet high ; four ranges of stone 
columns, each containing six, support the roof; 
the only public clods: in the town, three years 
Ago, was in the steeple of this church. 

This town has five oon vents, of which three 
are for men, the Franciscans, Dominicans,- and 
Brothers of the Order of Mercy. The church 
of the Dominicans has a very carious historical 
picture : it represents the Virgin Mary suckling 
a grey-bearded Saint Dominic. The following is 
the account of this miracle, as recounted by the 
sexton to those who visit the church : St. Dominie 
having had a violent pain in his breast, and his 
physician having ordered him woman's milk, the- 
Virgin suddenly descended from Heaven and 
presented her breast to the saint, who, as it may 
be supposed, was cured in an instant. The sexton 
finishes his story by observing that the Virgin 
operated this miracle in acknowledgment of their 
founder's demotion for the rosary. 

The priests of the oratory of St. Philip de Neri 



—- — ""- — ■— — ■-— — ■ — jta.i 

f s 


have also a church : they are usefully occupied in 
the civilization of the aboriginal inhabitants. 

The two monasteries of women are those of 
the Conception and Carmelites. A more useful 
and respectable association is the congregation 
of Las Educandas : it is a community of young 
ladies of good family and well educated, who 
though they do not make vows of chastity and 
confinement, as the others do, observe them much 
better, and occupy themselves in the education of 
young females. 

The Archbishop of Caraccas has for suffragans 
the Bishops of Merida and Guiana: he had 
previous to the rupture of the treaty of Amiens 
a revenue of about sixty thousand dollars for his 
part of the tythes, without counting what accrued 
to him for the sale of dispensations, indulgences, 
bulls, &o. articles which raise his revenue to more 
than ninety thousand. In general those bishops, 
canons, monks, and nuns are richly endowed, well 
fed, and do not painfully tread the paths that con- 
duct to Heaven amidst thorns and briars : it is, 
however, necessary to do them this justice, that 
they have neither the brutality nor intolerance of 
their brethren in Spain ; nor is it rare to find 
among them persons of elegant manners, learning 
and virtue. 

The reader will not, perhaps, be a little surprised 
to learn, that the head of a government so impor- 
tant, the captain general, and immediate represen- 


tative of the sovereign, formerly resided in a hired 
house, of which he had only the ground floor : the 
intendancy, the audiencia, tribunals, and military 
hospital, are also in rented houses. The conta- 
deria, or treasury, a solid but mean building, and 
the barracks, which are vast and well built, are 
the only edifices that belong to the government. 

This town has a college founded in 1 7T8, by 
Antonio Gonzales d'Acuna, Bishop of Caraccas, 
and converted into a university in 1792, with the 
permission of the Pope ! In this university read- 
ing and writing are first taught. Three profes- 
sors teach enough of Latin to read mass, Aristotle's 
physics, and the philosophy of Scotus, which 
still prevailed at this school in 1808. A professor 
of medicine demonstrates anatomy, explains phy- 
siology, all the laws of animal life, the art of cur- 
ing, &c. on a skeleton and some preparations 
m wax. If in this orthodox country a provision 
for instructing the profane arts and sciences has 
been neglected, it has not been so with the study 
erf theology and canon law ; five professors are 
occupied in teaching those sciences. One, only, 
the most learned, of course, is employed to de- 
fend the doctrine of Saint Thomas on the imma- 
culate conception, against all heretics ! No diplo- 
ma can be obtained without having sworn to a 
sincere belief in this revered dogma! 

The university has also a professor who teaches 
the Roman law, the Castilian laws, the code of 
the Indies, and all other laws. In short, a pro- 



fessor of vocal church music forms part of this 
hierarchy of instruction, and teaches to the stu- 
dents of law and medicine, as well as to those of 
theology, to sing in time and harmony, the airs 
of the Roman ritual. By letters I have lately re- 
ceived from that country, I am informed that 
the leaders of the independent party have intro-? 
duced into the courses of instruction, the study 
of the philoaophy of Locke and Condillac, the 
physics of Bacon and Newton, pneumatic chyv 
tnistry, and mathematics* to the great displeasure 
of certain person*, whose luxury and corpulence 
were maintained by the ignorance of their coun- 

, A town lik$ Caraccas could not but. require a 
theatre ; and the one it has, is decorated with the 
finest ceiling in the world, which is the sky: 
the roof only covers the boxes, so that when it 
happens to rain, which is seldom the case in this 
country, those in the pit are drenched. Nothing 
can be. more monotonous and contemptible than 
the acting of their players; yet this wretched 
performance i& frequented by the inhabitants of 
all classes, even by the priest* aqd monks, who go 
there in their religious habits. 

The population of the town of Caraccas was 
forty-seven thousand two hundred and twenty - 
eight persons of all colours, in 1807 ; it amount- 
ed to fifty thousand souls in 1810; three hundred 
and forty six thousand seven hundred a*d seventy ~ 
two persons of alt colour* then composed the popu- 


lation of the other towns and the province of 
Caraccas, properly speaking, which makes a totfcl 
of 496,772 inhabitants. 

I ought hfere to rectify an error of almost all geo- 
graphers in the political divisions of the late cap- 
tain generalship of Caraccas or Venezuela. The 
Spanish collection entitled, Viagero Universal, 
and the Geographical and Historical American 
Dictionary of Colonel Alcedo, do not present 
the most sure and exact notions in the descrip- 
tion of this part of the country. The late M. 
Depons is not only the first Frenchman, but the 
first European, who has made a good statistical 
table of this country : still his work is not with- 
out errors and negligences, some of which I shall 

Almost all European geographers confound the 
general government of Caraccas or Venezuela, 
with the province, of which the town of Saint 
Leon de Caraccas is the capital. This town was 
the residence of the president,* captain general, 
intendant, and an Audiencia (a supreme adminis- 
trative and judicial court,) on which depended 
the respective governors of the provinces of Cu- 
mana and New Andalusia, Maracaybo, Varinas> 
Guiana, and the Island of Trinidad. 

It is not possible to be too clear and precise 

* The oaptain-general used to be president ex officio of the 
Audiencia. The title of President was considered as superior to 
that of Captain General or Governor. 


in the description of a country, as yet so little* 
known, and respecting which there are confused 
and contradictory accounts. I shall therefore re- 
peat what I have already stated, that when the 
Spaniards discovered this country, they found 
near the Lake of Maracaybo, a great number of 
Indian villages built on piles, which made them 
give it the name of Venezuela, in comparing 
it with Venice. This name soon extended to all 
the province, of which Goro became the capital. 
The town of Caraccas being subsequently made 
the metropolis of all the country that formed the 
captain-generalship of that name, the district of 
that town took the name of Province of Vene- 
zuela ; which, though it be not, by its extent, 
the most considerable of the five that compose 
the general government of the Caraccas, now 
gives its name to the republic of the seven pro- 
vinces that have so wisely shaken off the yoke 
of the regency of Cadiz. 

When the district of Caraccas had taken the 
name of Venezuela, the country situated round 
the lake received that of Province of Maracaybo : 
the two provinces which were successively dis- 
membered from those of Venezuela and Mara- 
caybo, were called Varinas and Guiana. A por- 
tion of the country known by the name of New 
Andalusia, as also the Island of Margarita, 
formed part of the separate government of Cu- 
mana. The island of Trinidad was a sixth pro- 
vince or distinct government, depending on the 


captain-generalship of Caraccas, until the En- 
glish conquered it in February, 1797, 

Venezuela is the national name adopted at pre- 
sent by the confederated provinces, and Caraccas 
is their metropolis: the province of Venezuela 
has taken the name of Province of Caraccas. 
This province is bounded on the west by the sea, 
on the north-west by that of Maracaybo, on the . 
north by that of Cumana, and to the east and 
south-east by that of Varinas. 

The commercial port of the province of Ca- 
raccas is La Guyra : it is a bay open to all winds, 
and an unsafe anchorage in stormy weather ; but 
this port has the advantage of being only five 
leagues from Caraccas. La Guyra is built on the 
side of a mountain, which, in this climate, adds 
to the heat of the atmosphere : from the beginning 
of April, to the month of November, Farenheit's 
thermometer is usually at ninety degrees; and 
from the beginning of November to the end of 
March, it is generally at eighty-five or eighty-six. 
The humidity of the climate, added to the heat, 
produce annually inflammatory fevers, which 
degenerate, in twenty-four or thirty-six hours, 
into putrid fevers, that are chiefly detrimental 
to those who are newly arrived from Europe and 
the cold regions of America ; for those who are 
seasoned to the climate, are seldom attacked, 
though they do not enjoy a good state of health 

This town is badly built, but tolerably well 

&& 5f£RC£UUT&~ 

fortified ; it bad a population of seven thousand 
soul*, in 1807, comprising a garrison of eight 
hundred men. There is but one church in it, and 
the rector is also chaplain of the garrison. La 
Guyra had not a municipal administration or Ca- 
bildo, before the revolution, like the greater 
part of the other towns in this country ; it was 
governed by the commander of the fortress, who 
united in his person the civil and military autho- 
rity, but there was an appeal from his sentences 
to the Royal Audiencia of Caraccas. 

The greater part of the merchants of La Guyra 
ere only the agents of those of Caraccas, of which 
the former is but the wharf; for scarcely are the 
goods landed, than they are transported to Ca- 
raccas on the backs of mules. The two towns 
are situated at about five leagues from each other ; 
to go from La Guyra to Caraccas, the mountain 
of the Venta, above four thousand feet above the 
level of the sea, is ascended on mules ; travellers 
rest on the plain at its summit, where there is a 
bad inn, but where it is always very cool, I found 
Farenheit's thermometer at seven degrees above 
the freezing point there on the 28th January, 
There is a very agreeable sensation experienced 
on this delightful summit, after leaving the burn* 
ing atmosphere of La Guyra. The mountain ia 
afterwards descended to go to Caraccas, situated 
considerably below the inn of the Venta: two 
hours are generally requisite to ascend, and one 
hour to descend the mountain. 


To givQ an idea of the temperature of the town 
of Caraccas, and of the fluctuations of the ther- 
mometer in this place, I shall tjuote one day's 
observations of M. de Humboldt, for which I am 
indebted to his kindness. 

16 / 

is r 

14 y 

Si hours in the morning 14rV 

H - - - " 

I afternoon 17£ T between 70° and 78* 
%± - - - 18 f Farenheit. 
7 15^ 

II . 

In the month of January of the same year 
Reaumur's thermometer was at Caraccas generally 
between seven and eight o'clock in the morning 
at 13° and 14° ; between twelve o'clock and two, 
at 17° and 19° ; and at eleven o'clock at night usually 
at 13°, and on certain days at 15° at the utmost. 
During this season it descends commonly to 12° 
and even 11°: it has sometimes been seen even 
below 10° half an hour before sunrise. 

Porto Cavello is situated at a league to the 
west of Borburata, which was, for some time, 
the principal port of the colony : but it has been 
pnly a village since the maritime commerce was 
chiefly directed to La Guyra, and that the naval 
arsenals have been established at Porto Cavello. 
It is but an unhealthy place, yet one which any 
other government than the Spanish would have 
easily rendered healthy. There is, however, con- 
siderable trade carried on there, and although 


it was the principal port in the government of 
Caraccas for the Spanish navy, in no other part 
was there so much contraband trade. More than 
half the produce of the province of Caraccas 
was carried there, and sold to the smugglers of 
Curagoa and Jamaica, who paid for all that pro* 
duce in Dutch and British merchandize, besides 
selling annually to the amount of one million 
three hundred thousand, to one million four hun- 
dred thousand dollars of those merchandizes, for 
which they were paid in specie. Porto Cavello 
is twenty-four leagues from La Guyra, and in 
10° 28' N. latitude, and 69° 10' W. longitude. 

The town of Valencia was founded in 1555, 
under the government of Villacinda : this place 
is situated at half a league from the magnificent 
Lake of Tacarigua, to which it has in vain en- 
deavoured to give its European name, that is much 
less sonorous than the Caribbean. It is worthy 
of remark, that the indigenous names of the 
mountains, lakes, rivers, <&c. are much more har- 
monious than those which the Europeans have 
wished to substitute for them : a few of those 
words, as the aboriginal inhabitants pronounce 
them, will prove the assertion ; Tacarigoa, Mara- 
caybo, Nik-karagoa, Ibirinocco*, Naiagara, On- 
tario, Amana, &c. 

* Of which the Spaniards have made Orinoco. Ibirinocco 
was also the name of the mountains where they supposed the 
sources of this river were. 


The population of Valencia, which was only 
about six thousand five hundred persons in 
1801, was more than ten thousand in 1810. The 
inhabitants are nearly all Creoles, the offspring of 
ancient Biscayan and Canary families. There is 
great industry and comfort in this town. It 
is as large as an European town of twenty- 
four to twenty-five thousand souls, because the 
greater part of the houses have only a ground 
floor, and many of them have gardens. Fifty 
years ago, its inhabitants passed for the most 
indolent in the country : they all pretended to 
descend from the ancient conquerors, and could 
not conceive how it was possible for them to exer- 
cise any other function than the military profes- 
sion, or cultivate the land, without degrading 
themselves. Thus they lived in the most abject 
misery, on a singularly fertile soil. Their ideas 
have since completely changed ; they have applied 
themselves to agriculture and commerce, and 
the grounds in the neighbourhood are now well 
cultivated. Valencia is the centre of a consider- 
able commerce with Caraccas and Porto Cavello. . 

The town of Maracay, situated at the other 
extremity of the lake, was inhabited by a race of 
men., whose minds were never deranged by the 
frivolous and noxious pride of birth : almost all 
the inhabitants of the town, and of the neigh- 
bouring country, are of Biscayan origin, and there- 
fore industry, comfort, cleanliness, and good 
morals are to be found generally throughout 


this district. The grounds that encompass Mara- 
cay, are covered with numerous plantations of 
cotton, indigo, coffee and maize, and the heights 
with fields of wheat : in a radius of two leagues 
the vegetables of the temperate climes of Europe 
are cultivated as well as those of the tropics. 
Though Maracay had not the name of a city 
under the ancient Spanish government, because 
it had not a Cabildo, it contained nevertheless 
a population of nearly ten thousand persons. 

Tulmaro is another town situated in one of the 
vallies which communicates with the valley of 
Aragoa: it is two leagues from Maracay, and 
is the residence of the administrators of the to- 
bacco contract. This town is very well built ; 
eight thousand inhabitants were calculated as its 
population in 1807 : its district was then covered 
with plantations of tobacco, which was culti- 
vated there on account of the government. 

In going from Caraccas to Tulmaro, there is 
a town called Vittoria, which was once only a 
village of Caraccas Indians, whom the Spanish 
missionaries had converted to Christianity and 
civilization; but, for a century past, a great 
many Europeans have established themselves 
there, who, by their lawful or clandestine con* 
nections with the native women, have produced 
a numerous and mongrel population. There are, 
however, many families, that deem themselves 
descended from European blood, without any 
mixture of that of Africans or. of Indians, and 

CORO. 61 

who place great importance on this absurd pre- 
tension- The town had, in 1807, a population 
of eight thousand persons. There are several 
other towns or villages in the vallies of Arragon, 
where the inhabitants cultivate all the tropical 
productions, as well as the wheat and fruits of 

In 1807, this population was distributed on 
two hundred and thirty-seven plantations, and 
nearly two thousand houses in towns or villages : 
it consisted of, 

24,000 whites. 

18>000 mixed blood. 

6,500 Indians. 

4,000 slaves. 

Total 52,500 persons. 


The fortunate situation of Coro for trading 
with the neighbouring islands, and particularly 
with Porto Rico and St. Domingo, and not 
chance, as M. Depons has asserted, caused its 
scite to be chosen for the first settlement which 
the Spaniards founded on this part of terra 
firma. The tribe of Indians that inhabited it, 
were called Coriana. The Audiencia of St. Do- 
mingo sent Juan de Ampues there in 1629, in 
the capacity of governor, and principally with 
the view of restraining the robberies and cruel- 
ties of the Spanish traders who infested those 


coasts. Scarcely had the country begun to re- 
cover under the administration that excellent of 
governor, than it fell under the tyranny of the 

There had been a bishopric and chapter esta- 
blished at Coro in 1532 : the seat of government 
having been transferred to Caraccas in 1576, 
the bishop and his chapter were removed, there 
in 1636. The chronicles of the country relate, 
that the canons of Coro hunted the Indians, to 
sell them for slaves, while others engaged in the 
profession of corsairs. 

The environs of Coro are barren, but at three 
leagues from the town are hills, vallies and plains 
of some fertility. This town is situated on the 
Isthmus of Paragoana, whose inhabitants lead a 
pastoral life, occupying themselves entirely with 
the care of their flocks. Ten thousand persons 
of all colours, among whom there are scarcely 
two hundred slaves, form the population of the 
town. They still hold a considerable trade with 
Curacjoa in cattle, hides, and indigo, and even 
in cochineal, which last article comes from the 
district of Carora. According to the Deposito, 
the town of Coro is in 11° 9' North latitude, 
and 69° 35' West longitude. 

The town of Caroro and its district contain a 
population of about ten thousand persons. This 
town appears under the name of San Juan 
Bautista del Portillo de Coropa, in the Diction- 
ary of Alcedo. Carora, its real appellation, is 


an Indian name. Formerly the inhabitants were 
entirely occupied in the care of a kind of wild 
cochineal, as fine as the Misteca. Though its 
soil is arid, there are numerous herds of oxen, 
horses, asses, mules, sheep, and goats; the dwarf 
deer of South America is also very common. 
The inhabitants breed cattle chiefly for the pur- 
pose of tanning the hides : a great number of 
them are shoemakers and sadlers, others are wea- 
vers and ropemakers. They make very hand- 
some hammocks and excellent packthread with 
the fibres of the agave fatida or American aloe. 
They carry on a great trade in those articles 
with Maracaybo and Carthagena, from whence 
they are exported to the neighbouring colonies. 

The inhabitants of Carora were very poor for- 
merly, but they have become rich since under- 
taking the plan of grazing, and the tanning 
trade. Its sandy soil is covered with the cactus 
opuntia (Indian fig,) and other thorny plants ; 
as also trees that produce aromatic gums and 
odoriferous balsams, to which they attribute great 
virtues ; and of which many have not as yet been 
described by any botanist. 

The little river of Mo'rere, which, in the dry 
season, is scarcely sufficient for the necessities of 
the inhabitants, is the only one that waters this 
salubrious district. The government of the town 
is merely municipal, another cause of the indus- 
try of its inhabitants. 


Carora is situated, according to the Spanish 
geographers, at fifteen leagues east of the Lake 
Maracaybo, and at ninety leagues west of Ca- 
raccas, and in the tenth degree of N. latitude. 
The town is well built, every thing indicating 
order and opulence. There are three handsome 
churched : the parish church, that of St. Denis 
the Areopagite, and the Franciscans, who have 
a convent there. 

In going from Carora to Caraccas, is the town 
of Barquisimeto, situated on a plain : though in 
9° 45' of N. latitude, it enjoys a very mild cli- 
mate. T have been assured that when there is no 
wind, Reaumur's thermometer rises to 28° and 
29°; which I am inclined to doubt, on account 
of the elevation of its scite ; besides, wheat 
grows in the vicinity of Barquisimeto. All the 
tropical productions are cultivated in the vai- 
lies which surround it, and they grow excellent 
coffee there. The town is well built, and has, 
with its district, a population of about fifteen 
thousand inhabitants. There is a fine parish 
church there, that contains a crucifix which has 
worked a great many miracles, and is at the 
same time an object of devotion with the peo- 
ple, and an abundant source of revenue to the 
clergy of the church. In the same town is a 
convent of rich Franciscan friars, who are es- 
teemed great lovers of good cheer, also an hos- 
pital, where the poor are badly lodged and scan- 


tily fed. This town is ninety leagues west from 
Caraccas, and one hundred north of Santa Fe 
de Bogota. 

San Felipe, a century ago, was only a village, 
known by the name of Cocorote ; a great number 
of Canarians and natives of the neighbouring 
districts, attracted by the fertility of its soil, hav- 
ing settled there, the company of Guipuscoa, 
some time before its dissolution, established stores 
for the purpose of trading with the interior. 
From that time this place gained a new aspect : 
handsome houses, streets regularly built, took 
the place of huts huddled together without order. 
The inhabitants of this district are reputed labo- 
rious and industrious : they have only priests, and 
no monks or miraculous images, as seen in the 
surrounding countries. They grow excellent co- 
<coa, coffee, maize, rice, and a little cotton. This 
district is watered by the rivers Jarani and Arva, 
and by numerous rivulets; copper mines are also 
worked there. 

Tocuyo is built in a valley more elevated than 
the plain of Barquisimeto : its climate is cool, 
^ven cold, from the month of November to April 
whilst the wind blows from the north. Its ter- 
ritory is adapted to all kinds x>f agriculture, and 
a great quantity of wheat is grown there, which 
is 8eiit to different parts of the province. The 
'wool of the Tocuyo sheep, has a high reputation 
among the natives ; I have seen very fine blankets 
and kerseymeres made of this wool. There are 


also many tanneries where they tan leather toler- 
ably well, and it forms a considerable branch of 
their commerce. 

The inhabitants of Tocuyo are reputed very 
industrious ; they bring salt from the salt works 
of Coro, to sell to the inhabitants of other parts of 
the province. It is said that they are very much 
given to suicide. This town is ninety leagues 
south-west of Caraccas, twenty north of Trux- 
illo, and twenty-two from Coro ; and according 
to the Spanish geographers, in 9° 35' N. latitude 
and ?0° 30- West longitude. 

Forty leagues further inland, on the borders of 
the province of Caraccas, towards that of Va- 
rinas, in a magnificent plain, is the handsome 
town of Guarare, founded in 1593 : it is situated 
on the banks of a river of the same name, and 
between this and the Portuguese river, which is 
navigable, and falls into the Apure. 

The district of Guanare is as well cultivated 
as a country can be, whose population is so scanty ; 
for there are scarcely twenty thousand inhabi- 
tants. The cultivation of tobacco was formerly 
an abundant source of riches to them; but since 
it has been permitted only in certain cantons, and 
for the account of government, the inhabitants 
have applied to the culture of maize and alimen- 
tary roots, such as the potatoe, solanum tube- 
rosum ; the sweet potatoe, convolvolus batata ; 
the yam, discorea alata, &o. They cultivate 
only as much sugar, coffee, and cocoa, as is ne- 


cessary for their own consumption, their flocks 
being their chief wealth. 

There is another branch of revenue for the 
priests of Guanare : it is the Madona de Co- 
moroto, which on the 3d February, 1746, per- 
formed miracles, the particulars of which pious 
persons will find in the work of M. Depons. 
Guanare is ninety-three leagues south-west of 
Caraccas, in 8* 14' N. latitude, and 72° 6' West 
longitude, according to . the Spanish geogra- 

The town of Araure, twenty leagues west- 
ward of Guanare, is built between two branches 
of the river Aricagua ; the right branch is navi- 
gable, its territory is watered by numerous rivu- 
lets, which would be deemed rivers in Europe. 
This little town is well built, and has a very 
handsome church, the temple of a miraculous 
Madonna, which, according to the tradition of 
the country, was found in 1702, under the bark 
of a tree, by a female mulatto named Margaret, 
who bartered it with the Capuchin Miguel de Pa- 
lencia, for small images of the Virgin, reliqua- 
ries, &c. It appears, however, that it had not 
begun to work miracles, and ent^r into competi- 
tion with the Virgin of Guanare, until 1757. The 
priests of Guanare declare that the Madona of 
Araure is only a Capuchin fraud, and has never 
performed a miracle: more charitably inclined 
than my friends of either places, I believe that 

f 2 


the two Madonas are equally worthy of the vene 
ration of the faithful ! 

The inhabitants of Araure, as well as those of 
Guanare, are considered indolent, lazy, and much 
addicted to pleasure, which appears to be the 
distinguishing characteristics of the inhabitants 
of every country in the world, where miracles 
and superstition possess much influence. The 
town and its district have a population of about 
eleven thousand persons : the property of its in- 
habitants consists in flocks : they cultivate a little 
cotton, coffee and cocoa. Araure is, according to 
the Spanish geographers, in latitude 9° 15' North, 
70° 20' West longitude. 

San Luis de Cura is situated in a fertile valley, 
and yet but little cultivated ; its inhabitants occu- 
pying themselves entirely with the care of their 
flocks. The mountains surrounding it have a 
very picturesque appearance. The soil is clayey, 
and the water which the inhabitants drink, is 
reddish in rainy weather, but wholesome, at least 
they do not find any bad effects from it. 

The church of San Luis has also a miraculous 
Madona, known by the name of Nuestra Senora 
de Los Valencianos, for having been found, as the 
priests say, in 1771, by an Indian, in the ravine 
of los Valencianos. This Madona has been the 
cause of a suit that made great noise in this 
part of the world, between the rector of San 
Luis, and that of San Sebastian de los Reyes. 
The latter pretended that the Madona belonged 



to him, because the ravine in which it was found 
is situated in his parish; and the rector of San 
Luis alledged that he had bought the Madona 
of the Indian who discovered it. During thirty 
years that' this strange law-suit continued, and 
which was contested on each side with all the 
venom of superstition, the poor Madona was 
abandoned in the garret of the episcopal palace 
of Cataccas, where she was so impotent as hot to 
be able to prevent the vermin from corroding 
her, so as not to be distinguishable when the 
Archbishop of Caraccas, Don Francisco de Ibarra, 
a virtuous and benevolent prelate, reconciled the 
two rectors, and delivered her 'to him of San Luis 
de Cura; who, after having had her repaired by 
a painter and gilder, in which she was outraged 
by the worms^ and purchased a magnificent ward- 
robe for the much injured relic, conducted her in 
triumph to his church, where she has not ceased 
to grant numerous miracles to the prayers of the 
faithful, especially that of removing sterility iii 
females. As the rector of San Luis did not feel 
himself alone sufficient for the duties of his new 
office, he has been obliged to take some young 
clergymen of the neighbourhood as associates, 
whose ardent zeal is continually employed in giv- 
ing to barren husbands and wives proofs of the 
miraculous power of their Madona. 

San Luis de Cura is eight leagues south-west 
from the Lake Tacarigua, and twenty-two 
leagues south-west of Caraccas. San Sebas- 

70 MRGOA. 

tian de los Reyes is a little town on the banks of 
the Rio Guarica, about seven leagues from San 
Luis, and eighteen from Caraccas. The territory 
of this district is fertile, yet thete is* only maize 
cultivated ther3: its pasturage, however, feeds 
many cattle. 

Nirgoa is built on the ruins of the fortified 
village of Palmas, which was founded in 1553, 
by Diego Montesqui, to protect the works of the 
copper mines that he had discovered in the moun- 
tains, among which Nirgoa, is now situated, at 
ten leagues from the Lake Tacarigua. The In- 
dian Giraharas who were cruelly annoyed by Mon- 
tesqui, burnt and destroyed those establishments. 
The following year the government ordered 
another officer, Diego Paradas, to rebuild that 
village, under the name of Nirgoa. The latter, 
instead of pacifying the Indians, and treating 
them with justice and humanity, hunted them, 
in order to procure slaves for working the mines. 
But the Indians having vanquished their oppres- 
sors, forced them, in 1556, to evacuate this post. 
A person named Romera was sent there some 
months afterwards, and employed negroes to 
work the mines : the Indians drove him away also, 
as they had done his predecessors. 

The licenciate Bernades was forced to evacuate 
Nirgoa in 1657. Francisco Faxardo caused a 
great number of houses to be built, and fortified 
this town in 1560; but the Spaniards still con- 
tinuing to hunt the Indians, to procure slaves 


and women, the latter never omitted to attack 
their oppressors, whenever they thought them- 
selves sufficiently strong to carry on the war, 
which ended in 1628, by the total extermination 
of the tribe of Giraharas* 

The town and district of Nirgoa are inha- 
bited by Zamboes,* a race produced by the 
union of the negro and Indian. Though in the 
Spanish and Portuguese colonies, persons tainted 
with African blood, (I beg pardon for this Ame- 
rican expression,) were not despised, as in those of 
other European nations, still they were not held 
in that degree of estimation in which families 
were, ,who had the reputation of springing from 
the union of European and Indian blood. The 
individuals of this race, the Mestizos, were, it is 
true, declared competent to occupy civil and 
military employments, but they were but rarely 
promoted to them. Even the Creoles, who deemed * 
themselves descended from European families, 
without any mixture of indigenous or African 
blood, were seldom elevated to important posts, 
and were treated by the Spaniards born in Europe 
with great haughtiness, and as an inferior class : 
almost all the honourable and lucrative situations 
in the civil and military departments, were reserved 
for Europeans. But the kings of Spain gave diplomas 
of whites (a kind of scandalous whitewashing) 

*■ The word Zambo in Spanish means a man who has bowed 
legs: a marked characteristic in the formation of most negro tribes. 


to certain persons who hod rendered, or were sup- 
posed to have rendered important services to the 
state. It is about fifty years since King Charles 
III. whitewashed by wholesale, in an edict, his 
loyal and faithful subjects, the Zamboes of the 
town of Nirgoa. 

Nirgoa enjoying the privileges of a city, has in 
consequence, an elective municipal council, as 
other Spanish cities. It may be readily supposed 
that the first use the Zamboes made of those privi- 
leges was, to elect people of colour to the muni- 
cipal places. This favour or justice of the sove- 
reign so inflated the minds of the Zamboes, they 
became so haughty and arrogant to the whites, 
that the latter have deserted this district, which 
is no longer inhabited than by tallow-coloured 
whites ; who according to the assertions of the 
citizens of Caraccas, are the most vicious of man- 
kind. In this metropolis, the word Zambo is 
synonymous with worthless, idler, liar, impious, 
thief, villain, assassin, <&c. Of ten crimes that 
may be committed in the province, eight are 
said to be done by the Zamboes. M . Depons, 
who resided a long time at the town of Caraccas, 
coincides in the unfavourable opinion of its inhabi- 
tants towards the Zamboes, and I confess that I can- 
not recollect the name of one honest man, when 
I think of the numerous individuals of this crossed 
breed whom I had occasion to know and employ, 
either during my residence at Trinidad, or in the 
course of my travels. Still this afflicting pheno- 


menon may be explained. These individuals are 
born of clandestine and adulterous unions, of 
natives who have contracted only the vices of 
civilization, and of African slaves : what can be 
expected of children born of such parents, whose 
minds are totally neglected, and in a climate that 
invites to sloth and indolence ? But there is ano- 
ther observation, which, I think, should fix the 
attention of learned zoologists, and excite them 
to research: why is it that individuals proceed- 
ing from a mixture of African and indigenous 
American blood, have a bodily strength, finer 
forms, more intellectual faculties, and moral 
energy, than the Negro or Indian ? Why, 
although the white be, in general, superior in 
strength of body, mental powers, and in moral 
force, to the aboriginal American and to the 
negro; why, I ask, are the individuals born of 
the union of a white with an Indian woman (the 
Mestizos, for instance,)inferior in mental and cor- 
poreal qualities to the Zamboes ? Why are the 
Mestizos generally distinguished by fine figures, 
agreeable countenances, and the mildness,and doci- 
lity of their dispositions ? Why is the mulatto sou of 
a white and a negress, superior to the Zambo in 
intellectual faculties, but his inferior in physical ? 
Why is it, that when those races are mixed, their , 
progeny is remarkable for a more healthy 
and vigorous constitution* and for more vital 
energy, than the individuals born in the same 
climate, of indigenous European or African 


blood, without mixture ? These are facts by no 
means unworthy of the physiological researches 
of Cuvier, Gall, Blumenbach, Soemmering and 

San Juan Bautista del Poa, is situated at fifty 
leagues south-west of Caraccas. It is the princi- 
pal town of a district which is inhabited only by 
shepherds and their flocks. The population of the 
town and its territory, is about ten thousand per- 
sons. The river Pao, which runs south of the 
town, formerly discharged itself into the Lake 
Tacarigua; but an earthquake and inundation 
have altered its course : it now flows into the 
Apure. If a canal were to be cut from the Lake 
Tacarigua to the Pao, it would be easy to establish 
a communication from Caraccas to Guiana, and 
even as far as the Brazils. Trade will, hereafter, 
derive great advantages from those internal com- 

San Carlos is a little town founded by the 
first missionaries in Venezuela. It is situated on 
the border of the small river Aguare, and, ac- 
cording to the Spanish geographers, is in 9° 20' 
N. latitude. The river runs into one of the 
branches of the Apure. The inhabitants of this 
district originate chiefly from the Canary Islands, 
and are considered laborious and industrious. 
They cultivate all that is necessary for their 
maintenance, which is maize and the roots of 
the country, as also coffee and indigo ; but their 
principal wealth consists in their flocks. It is a 


very handsome town, and contained more than 
fifteen thousand inhabitants in 180?. San Car- 
los is sixty leagues south-wast of Caraccas, and 
twenty-five from Lake Tacarigua. 

Baria is the name of a little town placed at 
five leagues to the east of San Carlos, on the 
bank of the river Sarare, which communicates 
with the river Apure by the Portuguese river. 
It is a canton of pasturage and flocks, and con- 
tains six thousand inhabitants. 

Calaboso was formerly a village of Indians, 
but the Guipuscoa company having deemed it 
expedient to establish a staple there, towards the 
middle of the last century, the village became 
changed into a well-built town. Its territory is 
covered with flocks. This country was infested, 
in 1802, by a band of robbers, who employed 
themselves in hunting the horses, oxen, mules, 
&c. for their hides, which they took to Trinidad 
for sale. It was the only instance that I had 
ever heard of a band of plunderers in the Spanish 
colonies. It is situated in 8° 40' N. latitude, is 
fifty-two leagues from Caraccas, and on the bor- 
der of the Guarico, a fine navigable river that 
runs into the Apure. Fifteen thousand indivi- 
duals, of all casts, compose the population of its 

Such is the description of the principal towns 
in the province of Caraccas (formerly the pro- 
vince of Venezuela, properly speaking) and of 
their territories. The population of those towns is 


not composed, as those of the greater part of 
Europe, which are not essentially commercial or 
manufacturing, of proprietors and annuitants, 
who do nothing more than spend their revenues, 
and of traders. The inhabitants of those towns 
and villages of Venezuela are generally farmers, 
who cultivate their lands, or keep numerous 
flocks and herds in the surrounding countries. 
Priests, physicians, escrivanos (lawyers, who are, 
at the same time, barristers, notaries, attornies, 
and even bailiffs,) and a few shopkeepers form 
the remainder of the population. There are no- 
thing but forests and natural meadows (savanas) 
in the intervals that separate the territory of a 
town or village from the neighbouring towns or 
villages, which are. generally ten or fifteen 
leagues from each other. There are also found 
occasionally, usually at ten leagues distance, mis* 
sions or villages of half civilized Indians. 

A statement of the agricultural productions, 
flocks, &c„ of Caraccas, arid the other confedera- 
ted provinces or states, will be found in another 
chapter. It has been already stated that the 
population of the province of Caraccas in the 
year 1810, was 496,772. • 

VftMANA. 77 


Cum ana.— Historical and Geographical Sketch of the Province—Privi- 
leges granted by Pope Alexander VI. — Conduct of the first Spanish 
Invaders.— Retaliation of the Indians. — tiartheleray de Las Casas.— 
Ocampo. — Biographical Sketch of Las Casas.— Extract from his 
History. — City of Cumana. — Its Prosperity under Emparan.— Its 
Population. — Public Amusements.— .Anecdote of M. de Humboldt. 
— System of Education. — Price of Provisions.— Manners.— Trade. — 
Defences and Fortifications.— Gulph of Caricao.— Marine Birds- 
Singular Mode of catching them.— Carupana.— Valley of Yaguaca- 
paro. — Cumanacoa. — Grotto of Guacharo. — Indian Superstitions.— 
New Barcelona. — Its Productions and Trade. — Conception del 
Pas. — Remarks. — Guiana. — Derivations. — San Tome de Augus- 
tura.— ^State of the Indian Tribes.— Mode of recognizing Flocks. — 
Wild Horses, Mules, &c.— Curious Account of them. — Province 
of Varinas— Account of the Inhabitants. — Maracaybo. — Popula- 
tion.— bland of Margarita— An Original. — Decoration of the Vir- 
gin and Anecdote.— rPompatar.— A Sermon. — Theological Disputa- 
tion. — Bulls and Indulgences.— Faxardo.— Margarita described.— 
Assoncion.— Fisheries.— Departure. 

I have already said that Alfonso Qjeda recon- 
noitred the Lake of Maracaybo in 1499. In the 
month of July of the preceding year, Christo- 
pher Columbus, in his third voyage to the new 
world, discovered the Island of Trinidad, and 
the countries now known by the name of Gui- 
ana, Cape de Paria, Cumana, &c. His design was 
to proceed as far as the Equator; but frequent calms 


prevented its execution, and the currents carried 
him as far as that mouth of the Orinoco, or ra- 
ther the Gulf of Paria, situated between the 
Island of Trinidad and the continent, and to 
which he gave the name of Las Bocas del Drago, 
or Dragon's Mouths ; it was in this place that the 
above great man was convinced, for the first time, 
of the existence of that continent which ought to 
bear his name. " Such a prodigious quantity of 
fresh water" (the waters of the Orinoco,) said 
Columbus to his men, " can be discharged only 
by a river of very long course ; the land which 
possesses so much water, must be a continent, 
and not an island." Ferdinando Columbus informs 
us that his father coasted the continent as far as 
to the west of the Testigos islands, and then re- 
turned to San Domingo. 

Scarcely had the news of this discovery reached 
Spain, than the crafty adventurers Americo 
Vespucci, Alfonso Ojeda, Christopher Guerra, 
&o. obtained permission to trade on those 
coasts. I have already mentioned the two for- 
mer. Christopher Guerra traded with the na- 
tives of Cape de Paria, Margarita, Cubagua, and 
Cumanagoto. He bartered trifles for pearls, 
gold, dying woods, balsams, &c. From Bar- 
celona, Guerra went to Coro, where he found 
the natives hostile, and they refused to treat 
with him. 

Guerra having returned to Spain with a rich 
cargo, the rumour of his success incited the mer- 


chants of all the ports to make speculations to 
those countries ; but Charles V, having given 
permission, by an edict, to take, as slaves, all 
the Indians who should embarrass the trade, or 
oppose the taking possession of the countries dis- 
covered by Columbus, this traffic soon changed 
into a horrible piracy. 

It is well known that Pope Alexander VI, 
who, owing to the besotted prejudices of those 
times, was king of kings, had divided, in 1493, 
the discoveries made, or to be made in the new 
world, between the Kings of Spain and Portu- 
gal. Gunpowder, tortures, and slavery, were 
the means employed, at first, to force the abori- 
ginal inhabitants to enter the church of the sove- 
reign pontiffs: who, at that period, tyrannized 
over monarchs and their ignorant people, disho- 
noured the name of Christian by their infamous 
conduct, and disfigured the benevolent religion of 
Jesus Christ by introducing into his worship the 
superstitions of paganism, the absurdities of their 
own imagination, and the intolerance of the first 
disciples of Mahomet. Consuming with a thirst 
of gold, inflamed by an ignoble ambition, and 
misled by a sanguinary fanaticism, the war which 
those adventurers waged in the new world ac- 
quired the superstitious character of the crusades 
without possessing their heroism. 

Columbus had taken out missionaries on his 
second voyage of discovery. That extraordinary 
man, whose virtues have not been sufficiently 


Celebrated, hod chosen for converting the na- 
tives to Christianity and civilization, not fero- 
cious fanatics, but enlightened and benevolent 
ecclesiastics. A short time afterwards, Cordova, 
whom the history of the Spanish missions re- 
presents as a man endowed with every virtue, 
obtained permission from Charles V. to preach 
the gospel in the country of Cumana. His 
health not allowing him to undertake that voy- 
age, he sent his brother there, Francisco de 
Cordova, and Juan Garcias; those two mis- 
sionaries arrived at Cumana in 1612. The mild- 
ftess of their manners gained them the confidence 
of the Indians, who considered them divine 

Pirates continually sailed from the islands of 
San Domingo and Porto Rico, under the name 
of conquerors. One of those vessels arrived at 
Cumana, whilst the Fathers Cordova and Garcias 
were occupied with the conversion of the Indians. 
The captain of the pirates landed under pretence 
of trading with the natives, whom the humanity 
of the missionaries had reconciled to the Spanish 
name. The chief pirate invited the cacique with 
his family, to dine aboard his vessel, they went 
according to the invitation, accompanied by agreat 
number of Indians : scarcely had they reached the 
ship, than the pirate set sail for San Domingo. 

This act of villainy raised all the Indians of the 
country : they resolved to massacre the missiona- 
ries, whom they accused of being accomplices of the 


pirates. The missionaries, after having declared 
their innocence, promised to despatch a boat im- 
mediately to San Domingo, to demand their chief 
and countrymen: on this condition their lives were 
spared ; but with the assurance, that they should 
be put to death, if in four months the captives 
were not set at liberty. The pirates, however, 
haying refused to deliver them up, the fathers 
Cordova and Garcias were killed. Las Casas re- 
lates, that many more missionaries were murdered 
in the island of Trinidad, and other parts of the 
province of Cumana, because the Spanish pirates 
had carried off the natives. In that age of pro- 
sely tism, those terrible examples made no impres- 
sion on men who sighed with ardour for the crown 
of martyrdom. New missionaries went to Cumana, 
and the pirates not desisting from their incursions 
on the coasts, to make captives of the Indians, 
the latter regularly made reprisals on the mission- 
aries, and put them to death. In 1519, all the 
Spaniards, who were settled in that country, 
were destroyed. 

It was then about six years since the worthy 
Las Casas had travelled over the colonies to 
preach humanity to his ferocious countrymen. It 
is impossible to read without shuddering, the re- 
citals made by the virtuous Bishop of Chiapa, of 
the cruelties committed in those regions, the mas- 
sacres of millions of Indians, immolated by fana- 
ticism and avarice. 

Las Casas had gone to the new world at the 

82 LA8 CASAS. 

age of thirteen years, with his father, at the 
very time of its discovery. Interested by the 
mildness of the Indians, he entered into holy 
orders, for the purpose of effecting their con- 
version; but as he was naturally endowed with 
a generous and feeling heart, he thought that his 
time would be better employed in pleading the 
cause of those unfortunate beings at the court 
of his sovereign, which drew from his criminal 
cotemporaries those absurd calumnies, that all 
who have seriously studied the history of those 
times, are disgusted in finding so flippantly re- 
peated by historians, otherwise respectable. " He 
was," says Raynal, " continually seen flying from 
one hemisphere to the other, to console the peo- 
ple, and humanize their tyrants. The inutility 
of his efforts at length convinced him that he 
could never obtain any thing for the settlements 
already formed, and he therefore proposed to 
establish a colony on a new basis." 

In 1519, he arrived at Porto Rico with three 
hundred Castilian labourers, and a few days after- 
wards departed for Cumana, to found his new co- 
lony there. Charles V. had then given him the 
title of governor of Cumana : knowing that his 
countrymen were held in horror by the natives, 
he contrived to distinguish his colonists by a parti- 
cular dress, decorated with a cross, in order that 
the Indians might make a distinction between 
them and other Spaniards. 

Soon after the arrival of Las Casasat Cumana, 


Gonzalo Ocampo was sent there by the audienoia 
of St. Domingo, in the capacity of military com- 
mander, and to revenge the massacres which the 
Indians had committed on his countrymen. When 
Ocampo appeared on the coast at the entrance of 
the Gulf of Cariaco, he received the visits of seve- 
ral Indians, and after having caressed them for 
some moments, that he might attract a greater 
number on board his ships^he had them hung 
up to the yards, after which he landed with his 
artillery, and shot all the natives who fell into 
his power. He refused to deliver the government 
of the country to Las Casas: the latter, after 
having lodged his colonists in a kind of fort sur- 
rounded with palisades, embarked for St. Do- 
mingo, in order to inform the audiencia of the. 
conduct and rebellion of Ocampo, who soon fol- 
lowed him, leaving all his people in the small is- 
land of Cubagua. The Indians, who could not 
conceive that there were honest men among the 
Spaniards, attacked the colonists of Las Casas by 
night, and massacred all those who were not 
able to save themselves by escaping to Cuba- 
gua; after which they exterminated the other. 
Spaniards who were scattered through the pro- 

The audiencia of St. Domingo sent, in 1523, 
Diego Castillon to Cumana, as governor, and 
with a force sufficient to protect him from the 
vengeance of the Indians. The Spanish histo- 
rians represent him as a chief equally prudent, 

g 2 


resolute and humane ; who was capable, at once 
of restraining the disposition which his country- 
men had for plunder, and that of the natives to 
revenge themselves for so many cruelties. How- 
ever, it appears from the accounts of cotempo- 
rary writers, that, as before, the Spaniards were 
always in a state of war with the original inhabi- 
tants. Now, those who have had the means of 
studying the character of the latter, know that 
they are never the aggressors, and that the Indians 
have on no occasion taken arms against the whites, 
except when forced to do so by some great 
outrage, or enormous oppressions.* 

I have long resided in the neighbourhood of 

* I hope I shall not be accused of inconsistency on the reader's 
perusing what I bring forward in a future chapter relative to the 
Caribs of St Vincent's massacre of the white inhabitants of that 
island, of whom they had no reason to complain. But those pre- 
tended Caribs were Zamboes, men half civilized, who had been 
seduced by interested whites to commit those hostilities. And if 
the detractors of the Indians should oppose to me the frequent 
incursions of the savages of North America against the citizens of' 
the United States, I would answer, that the attacks of those Indians, 
are always reprisals for cruelty or injustice committed by some 
dastardly American, f 

t The recent conduct of the American Government, and of its 
blood-thirsty general, which mark both with a character of in- 
delible infamy, fully proves the exact justice of the author's re- 
mark. But it is hoped Great Britain is fast approaching that 
period, when such a monster as Mr. Jackson will not be able to 
hang Englishmen with impunity ! ! — Ed. 


savages, have had daily intercourse with them, 
and I declare that I have never known a single 
instance wherein an Indian was the aggressor in 
a quarrel with a white man, or that he had 
acted unjustly towards one, without having been 
driven to it, or led on by a white, mulatto, or • 
a negro. 

But to return to the situation of the province 
of Cumana during the government of Diego Cas- 
tillon, it appears, that there was less anarchy 
and pillage under this governor than during the 
administrations of his predecessors. 

The virtuous Las Casas, who has left us* a 
hideous portrait of the history of those times, 
would certainly not have omitted to mention Cas- 
tilloh with respect, if he had been the protector 
of the Indians. The Bishop of Chiapa has not 
transmitted to us the names of the execrable 
beings whose crimes he recounts, and the dates 
are too negligently placed in his history to serve 
as guides. As I believe that his account of the 
injustice and crimes committed against the In- 
dians on the pearl coast (the coast of Cumana,) 
may be placed as well to the time of Castillon, 
as to that of his predecessors, I hope to gratify 
my readers by the following extract from the 
celebrated bishop's history. 

" The Spaniards carried off from those coasts 
(the provinces of Cumana and Venezuela) more 
than two millions of men, to transport them to 


the Islands of San Domingo and Porto Rico ; 
where the greater part of them perished in the 
mines, or from the hardships to which they were 
otherwise subjected. It is a circumstance deserv- 
ing compassion, and capable of affecting the 
greatest barbarians, that this coast, which was 
once so populous, is now absolutely deserted. It 
has been remarked, by intelligent persons, that 
p third of the slaves taken by the Spaniards on 
board their ships, die during the voyage, with- 
out speaking of those whom they kill when they 
break into the houses, to carry off those unhappy 
beings. The object of the Spaniards in com- 
mitting those violences, is to enrich themselves 
by any means : they require a great number of 
slaves in order to amass a large sum of money : 
they lay in a very small stock of provisions and 
water for all those persons in their vessels, to 
avoid being at too much expence for the subsis- 
tence of those poor Indians : scarcely is there 
sufficient to maintain the Spaniards who work 
the ships ; wherefore, it happens that the Indians 
worn out with hunger and thirst, die miserably, 
and a great portion of them is thrown into the sea, 
in order to save the remainder. A pilot of a ves- 
sel informed me, that in sailing from the Island 
of Lucayos to St. Domingo, the passage being 
about seventy leagues, he had no occasion to use 
a compass, or observe the stars, for steering his 
vessel, as be assured me that the dead bodies of 


Indians served to track his course, and that he 
thereby arrived in due time without missing his 
destined port. 

" When the Indians arrive at the island where 
they are destined to be sold, no one can look at 
them without feelings of pity, unless a mere bar- 
barian ; men, women, and children are seen quite 
naked, wasted by hunger and fatigue, scarcely 
able to support themselves, and fainting from lan- 
guor and debility: they are formed into flocks 
like sheep, the husband separated from his wife, 
the children from their fathers and mothers : they 
are parcelled into gangs of tens and twenties, 
and lots are drawn to decide to whom they shall 
belong in the division. Thus it is that the pirates 
behave, who arm and equip vessels to ravish the 
unhappy Indians from their native homes, to 
enrich themselves at their cost, by reducing them 
to slavery. When the lot falls on a gang in 
which there is an old or sick person, he to whom 
it is destined, generally speaks thus : why do you 
give me that old fellow who is good for nothing, 
and a dead loss to me ? what shall I do with this 
sick man, who will be only an expence to me, and 
whose disease makes him completely useless? 
By this it may be seea what little value the 
Spaniards place on the Indians, and how badly 
they fulfil the precepts of. Christian charity ; 
since they love neither God nor their neighbour ; 
on which, however, depend the law and the 


" Nothing more cruel or detestable can be 
imagined than the tyranny which the Spani- 
ards exercise in collecting and entrapping those 
poor Indians, when they go in- quest of slaves, 
to employ them in the pearl fishery : the pains 
of Hell can alone be compared to what they 
inflict on the sufferers: those experienced in 
the mines from whence gold is extracted, 
are much less agonizing, though they are also 
horrible. They force them to dive in the sea 
in the depth of five or six fathoms ; there 
they swim about to collect the oysters in which 
pearls are found ; they come up to the surface 
of the water with nets full of those oysters, 
to breathe and avoid suffocation : . if they hap- 
pen to stay there a little too long, an inexo- 
rable Spaniard, who is near them in a small 
boat, flogs them dreadfully and loads them with 
stripes : he seizes them by the hair to force them 
to plunge into the water again and renew the 
fishery. They are fed with a morsel of fish and 
bread that is dry and without nourishment ; even 
of this, they do not receive enough to satisfy their 
hunger. They have no other bed than the hard 
ground, on which they sleep in chains, to pre- 
vent their escape. They frequently drown them- 
selves at this fishery, or are devoured by sea 
monsters, insomuch that there is nothing more 
heard of them. 

" It is easy to perceive by what I have said, 
that the precept of charity is badly observed in the 


pearl fishery, since those unhappy slaves are 
exposed to such imminent danger of perishing ; 
the avarice of the Spaniards, whose sole object 
is gain, is the reason that they never take the 
trouble to instruct their slaves, or administer 
the sacrament to them : they tax them with so 
much labour that they die in a short time ; for it 
is impossible for men to continue long under 
water, and bear the hardships which they suffer. 
The intensity of the cold is such, that it causes 
them to vomit blood, and they often die of it,, 
because they have their stomachs too much op- 
pressed, being obliged to retain their breath so 
long under water ; besides that the excessive cold 
they endure, causes a flux of blood. They have 
naturally black hair, but their fatigues cause its 
colour to change, and it becomes similar to that 
of the sea- wolf. The foam of the sea coagulates 
and so attaches to their shoulders, that they 
resemble monsters more than men. The Spani- 
ards have destroyed by the labours of this fishery, 
all the inhabitants of Lucayas, who were the 
most expert and accustomed to this occupation. 
That is the reason why they sold Indians of the 
country, at fifty or a hundred crowns each. The 
Lucayans have an astonishing facility in swimming 
and diving : such of the natives of other provinces 
also, as could* be caught, were employed in this 
fishery, and an infinity of them were lost in H."* 

* Vide the Discovery of the West Indies by B. de Las Casas, 


Whatever may have been the conduct of the 
governor Castillou towards the Indians, he was 
the real founder of the town and colony of Cu- 
mana. Gonzales Ocampo, it is true, is the reput- 

Bishop of Chiapa, &c. Having had occasion to mention this 
celebrated man so frequently, I hope my readers will be grati- 
fied by a short sketch of his valuable life, which was spent in 
a constant series of the most active benevolence and exalted 

Bartholomew de Las Casas, Bishop of Chiapa in Mexico, 
was born of a noble family in Seville, A. D. 1469, according to 
some historians, and in 1474, according to others. At the age 
of nineteen he went to St Domingo with his father Antonio de 
Las Casas, who accompanied Christopher Columbus in his first 
voyage to the new world. On his return to Spain, he adopted 
the ecclesiastical profession, and afterwards entered into the 
fraternity of Dominicans, in order to become a missionary for 
the conversion of the Indians. In 1533 he lived at the convent 
of St. Dominic, in the Island of St. Domingo, where he occu- 
pied himself in preaching the gospel to the Indians, and huma- 
nity to their insatiable and ferocious tyrants. The most faithful 
and impartial historian of that period, Oviedo V aides, a Spanish 
officer, who passed nearly all his life in America, informs us 
that there was, in 1519, an insurrection of the Indians caused 
by a Spaniard having violated the wife of the Cacique Don Henry 
who had embraced Christianity. This cacique having in vain 
demanded justice on the ravisher of his wife, from Peter de W 
dillo, Lieutenant of the Admiral Jacomes Columbus, retired with 
his people to the mountains of Beoruko, from whence he made 
war against the Spaniards for nearly fourteen years. Peace 
was re-established in 1533, and was principally the work of 
the missionary Las Casas. " At that time/ 9 says Oviedo, 
" among other pious monks who resided in the monastery of St. 
Dominic, was Friar B. de Las Casas, a learned man of good 
life and doctrine. He had undertaken, being a secular priest, 
and whilst he was called the licentiate B. de Las Casas, an 

LA8 CAS A 8. 91 

ed founder, because, he had made a settlement 
there in 1620 ; bat that was destroyed by the 
natives, who were almost continually at war with 
the Spaniards until 1666, at which period the 

affair which irritated great numbers against him, and of which 
I shall give an account in Book XIX.*' It will soon be seen 
what this affair was, truly glorious for Las Casas, who awakened 
against himself the hatred of the robbers that devastated the 
New World, and which furnished a pretence for their calum- 
nies, repeated by some historians. Oviedo, though a ooflquis- 
tader, finishes the twelfth chapter of his sixth book, by doing jus* 
tice to the virtues and knowledge of Las Casas. He relates how 
this worthy missionary penetrated into the forests and among 
the mountains, to reconcile the Cacique Henry to the Spaniards ; 
how he concluded a peace between them, which, unfortunately, 
was not of long duration, and which was followed by the exter- 
mination of almost all the natives* This is the affair which had 
drawn on Las Casas so much hatred and calumny. Previous 
to entering the order of Dominicans he had presented to Charles 
V. several memorials in favour of the unhappy Indians. The 
offers he made for mitigating their fate having been useless, he 
projected the founding of a colony on principles very different 
from those which his countrymen practiced. He obtained leave 
from the emperor to be seat to Cumana in the quality of governor. 
Having arrived at Porto Rico in the beginning of 1519, with 
three hundred Castilian labourers, a short time afterwards he 
went to Cumana, to establish his colonists there. Convinced 
that his countrymen must have been held in horror by the natives, 
he invented the mode of distinguishing his colonists by a particu- 
lar dress, decorated with a white cross* in order that they might 
not be confounded with other Spaniards. Tp gain the affection 
of the natives, by acting according to the benevolent spirit of 
the gospel, and respecting their persons and properties, was 
the plan of Las Casas and the worthy men who accompanied 
him. Unfortunately, a short time before his arrival at Cumana, 
some Spanish pirates who took the name of oonquistadores, had 


latter renounced the plan of converting them 
with muskets and scaffolds. From that time the 
Jesuits and other missionaries, with only the arms 
of perseverance and persuasion, have congregated 

made incursions on the coast of Trinidad, Venezuela, and Cu- 
mana, from whence they carried off the Indians, whilst they 
bartered with, and made feasts for them. The Indians revenged 
themselves by exterminating all the Spaniards whom they could 
seize. When Las Casas arrived at Cumana with his followers, 
Gonzalo de Ocampo, who had been sent there by the governor 
of St. Domingo, in the capacity of military commander, refused 
to acknowledge his authority. Las Casas, after having placed 
his men in a fort surrounded with palissades, went to St. Do- 
mingo, in order to inform the governor general of the Indies, 
of the conduct and rebellion of Ocampo, That officer caused 
the natives to rise en masse, by his exactions, treachery and 
cruelties; and as they could not believe there were worthy 
men among the Spaniards, they attacked the companions of Las 
Casas, as well as the satellites of Ocampo, and massacred all 
those who were not able to save themselves in the small Island 
of Cubagua. It is not necessary to have a profound knowledge 
of the human heart, to conceive that this catastrophe was a sub- 
ject of triumph for those base and perverse men who founded 
their fortunes on the slavery of the Indians. Las Casas was not 
discouraged, he was seen continually hastening from one hemi- 
sphere to the other, going from America to Spain, and returning 
from Spain to America, to plead the cause of the unfortunate 
Indians: no wonder, therefore, if so much zeal and virtue irritated 
their oppressors against him. 

There was another ecclesiastic, Sepulveda, canon of Salamanca, 
the theologian and historiographer to Charles V. who composed 
a work entitled, Democrates Secundus, seu de just is belli eausi*, 
Sfc or in other words, " Democrates the second, or of the just 
causes of war; an inquiry into the legality of attacking the In- 
dians with armies, to usurp their lands, properties and temporal 
goods, and even to kill them in case of resistance ; in order that 

LAS CA8AS. 93 

them in villages called missions ; they have given 
them some ideas of Christianity, and induced 
them to acquire a taste for architecture and the 
elementary arts of a social state. Europeans 
have been enabled to settle among them, and 

being thus stripped and subjected, they may be more easily con- 
verted to the faith by missionaries." Charles V. prohibited this 
libel from being printed; but it was circulated at Rome with the 
approbation of the Pope, and the monks sent it to Spain, in defi- 
ance of the sovereign authority. Las Casas, who was then Bishop 
of Chiapa, refuted this odious work by a tract which bears the 
noble stamp of his character ; it is entitled, Brevissima relation 
de la destruicion de las India*, in quarto, Seville, 1552. The fe- 
rocious canon did not deem himself conquered ; he demanded a 
public conference with Las Casas, and continued to maintain in 
bis discourses and witings, that according to the laws of nations, 
Charles V* might force the Indians to acknowledge him for their 
sovereign ; and that according to the laws of the Romish church, 
it was a duty to exterminate whoever refused to embrace its re- 
ligion. Charles V. appointed Domingo de Soto, his confessor, to 
examine this great process ; but that monarch, exhausted with care 
and business, never decided the question : so that the Indians con- 
tinued to be hunted, exterminated, and orammed into the mines; 
it is asserted that nearly fifteen millions of them perished in less 
than ten years* 

There is an absurd accusation which has long weighed heavily 
on the memory of Las Casas, from the sole assertion of Herrara, 
who has written the History of the New World, with great talent, 
no doubt, but with incorrectness and partiality : he accuses Las 
Casas himself, of having advised the Spaniards to enter into the 
negro slave trade, in order to substitute them for the Indians, 
working the mines, &c The Senator, Gregoire, formerly Bishop 
of Blois, has victoriously refuted this calumny, in a tract entitled, 
An Apology for B. de las Casas, inserted in the fourth volume of 
theTransactions of the Class of Moral and Political Sciences of the 
Institute. Like him, I have consulted all the Spanish and Portu- 


form establishments there. History will record, 
that the missionaries of the Romish church began 
to have success among the natives, only since it 
has become less intolerant. 
The town of Cumana, now a commercial place 

goalie writers of that period, as well as the English who have 
written on commerce, and it results from this examination, that 
the accusers of the Bishop of Chiapa, Raynal, de Pauw, Bryan 
Edwards, &•» and even the illustrious Robertson, have all written 
on the faith of Herrera, or on that of Father Charlevoix, who, 
whilst he wrote on the subject of the Spanish colonies, merely 
translates Herrera without quoting him. Herrera wrote thirty 
years after the death of Las Casas, and he displays much enmity 
to that great man. He quotes no public act, no document in fa- 
vour of his accusation x not one of the writers who were cotem- 
poraries of Las Casas said a word of it, though many of them 
were his enemies, and had endeavoured to render him odious and 
contemptible. Sepulveda would not have failed to avail himself 
of such a fact, in the famous conference which he held at Valla- 
dolid with Las Casas, had it been only to prove him inconsistent. 
Remesal, the author of the history of Chiapa and Guatimala, is 
also silent on this matter. Lopez de Gomara, in his Historia 
general de las India*, defames the Bishop of Chiapa ; but though 
Gomara speaks of the Negroes, be does not impute to Las Casas 
the crime of having advised the trade in them. Don Juan Lopes, 
Bishop of Monopoli, and a Dominican, who has written a history 
of his order, eulogizes Las Casas, and says not a word of Ne- 
groes* The Abbe* Racine, who is deemed a severe critic, speaks 
in the highest praise of him, in his Ecclesiastical History ; nor does 
he mention the story of the slave trade, any more than the pre- 
ceding authors. 

In short, there exist of Las Casas, in the library of Mexico, 
three volumes_of manuscripts in folio, of which there is a copy in 
the library of the Academy of Madrid These are his memoirs, 
his official and familiar letters, and other political and theological 


of the first rank in the new world, was, forty 
years ago, only a miserable village, which receiv- 
ed annually two or three small vessels from Spain, 
that divided the trade of the country with the 

works. So far from finding, in all those writings, a word from 
whence it might be inferred, that be had recommended the slavery 
of the negroes to be substituted for that of the Indians, it is seen 
that in three or four places where he had occasion to mention the 
negro stores, he commiserated their sufferings as he did those of 
the Indians. 

How is it that the historians, who have repeated and trans- 
mitted the calumny of Herrera, have been ignorant that many 
years before the birth of Las Casas, and the discovery of the 
New World, the Portuguese navigators were accustomed to pur- 
chase and steal black slaves on the coast of Africa, to sell them to 
their countrymen and to the Spaniards ? 

Oviedo, book IV. chap. IV. mentions a revolt of the Iolof 
negroes, which took place at St. Domingo in 1522, and which 
began on the plantation of the Admiral Jacomo Columbus. This 
exact and even triflingly minute writer, does not mention when 
and how those negroes had been introduced ; and the cause of his 
silence is easily explained : it was, that the Spaniards having 
been accustomed to the services of Negro slaves, previous to the 
discovery of the new world, took them there along with them- 
selves. In this they merely followed the bad example of the an- 
cients, the nations of India, the Greeks, the Macedonians of 
the time of Alexander, and the Romans. 

( To judge therefore from the above facts, it is evident that Las 
Casas never advised the slave trade ; and that thus his memory 
should be handed down to posterity, pure and without stain ; that 
we should look upon him as one of those extraordinary men, who 
received from nature a superior mind, undaunted courage, and a 
gift still more rare, that of sympathising in the misfortunes of his 
fellow creatures : privileged and beneficent beings, who appear 
occasionally on earth to console men of worth for partaking the 
F man with rogues who cheat, cowards who dishonour, 


Dntch and English smugglers. When the edict of 
King Charles III. dated the 12th November, 1778, 
vulgarly called that of free trade, and which put 
an end to the monopoly of the Guipuscoa Com- 

and the wicked who oppress it ; true philanthropists, who no more 
resemble certain mountebanks and hypocrites, who have in our 
days usurped that name, than copper resembles gold ! 

Las Casas was a theologian, publicist and distinguished histo- 
rian; he has been accused of exaggeration in the recitals he 
made of the crimes committed by the conquerors of the New 
World. The Abbe* Clavigero, at the end of (he second volume of 
his History of Mexico, seems to be astonished that unreserved 
credit is given to the relation of Las Casas ; and yet he did not 
abstain from retracing, throughout his whole history, the cruel- 
ties and injustice of Cortes, Alvaredo, and the other Spanish 
chiefs. He represents Mexico, Tlascala, and the neighbouring 
states, as very populous at the time of the conquest. Clavigero 
agrees on this point with Cortes, who wrote to Charles V. that 
he Dad subjected to his arms, and united to his crown, states more 
populous, and larger cities, than his states and cities in Spain ; 
which has caused the learned and judicious Count Carli to say in 
his American Letters, that nothing more fully proves the fidelity 
of Las Casas*s recitals, than those of Cortes, the other Spanish 
commanders, and of Clavigero hinelf; since the indigenous 
population was reduced to such a small number of individuals, 
fifty years after the conquest, and that it is almost extinct in the 

Las Casas after having passed fifty years in the New World, 
and traversed the ocean twelve or thirteen times, to plead the 
cause of the Indians, in Spain, renounced his Bishopric, and re- 
turned in 1551, to his native country, where he died, after having 
immortalized himself by his beneficence, and the practice of every 

Such a noble character as that of Las Casas, is always wor- 
thy of being claimed by a country to which he belongs; and 
this induces me to mention his French origin. Remesal, in his 


pany, revived the languishing agriculture and 
commerce : the population of this province more 
than doubled in twenty years, and the riches of 
the country augmented in a progression still more 

History of the Diocese of Chiapa, says, that B. de las Casas was 
descended from a noble and distinguished family in France, whose 
ancestors had gone to settle in Spain, about the time, of St. Fer- 
dinand. The Bibliotheca Mexicana, a biographical work, pub- 
lished at Mexico, in 1755, also observes, in speaking of Father 
B. de las Casas : Parentetn clarissiqid stirpe virum e Gallic 
ductd, Sfc. This "circumstance is found confirmed and detailed in 
an old chronicle in the possession of a branch of this family, 
which still exists under the name of Las Casas, lord of Belveze 
in Languedoc. The head of the Las Casas of Belveze, passed 
from Spain to France, in 1200, with Blanche, mother of St. 
. Louis. t 

t The immortal bishop's descendant, Count, Emmanuel de Las 
Casas, already well known to the British public, is every way 
worthy of his glorioud ancestor, whether viewed in the amiable 
privacy of domestic life, or in the more distinguished sphere of 
politics and literature. If any difference of opinion can exist, 
as to the policy adopted by the minister* of England towards 
Napoleon, or the ignominious treatment our once formidable 
enemy has experienced from those in whose power he placed 
himself when the hour of misfortune arrived, no one can be in- 
sensible to the heroic constancy which has uniformly actuated the 
Count's conduct towards his fallen master. The impartial of 
our own days, and future historians, will record to the unfad- 
ing honour of this truly virtuous man, that living in a period 
of almost unprecedented political profligacy, wtyen disinterested- 
ness and consistency in statesmen, had nearly ceased to be con- 
sidered as virtues, Count de Las Casas was amongst the soli- 
tary few who redeemed the degraded character of the times, by 
his unshaken attachment to the sovereign whom he had acknow- 




This province, its capital and other towns, are 
honourable monuments of the prodigious influence 
of an enlightened, prudent, and disinterested 
governor on the prosperity of a colony. During 
nearly eleven years (from 1793 to 1804) that 
Don Vincente de Emparan was governor of 
the colony, the liberal protection which he 

ledged from principle, and which, instead of diminishing, ad- 
versity only tended to increase ! ! 

Driven from St Helena by the system of persecution establish- 
ed there, the Count, though emaciated in health and broken in 
spirit, continues to advocate the cause of humanity, violated in 
the person of Napoleon and his meritorious followers in exile. 
In addition to his u Letters, 19 and petition to the British par- 
liament, published by Mr. Ridgway, appeals, no less unanswer- 
able than eloquent, the Count has in a series of letters addressed 
to the sovereigns lately assembled at Aix la Chapelle, vainly 
endeavoured to convince those august personages that the man 
whose alliance they once courted with so much avidity, and to 
whose clemency some were indebted for the preservation of their 
thrones, has strong claims on their magnanimity, and is entitled to 
less harsh treatment. 

Besides several memoirs presented to the Emperor, while em* 
ployed on various important missions, all of which related to the 
improvement of some branch 4>f the legislature, public works, or 
institutions of beneficenoe, Europe is indebted to Count de Las 
Casas for the Atlis Historique, <&c. a work unequalled in 
the annals of literature, either as to the extent, variety, or im- 
portance of its multifarious contents. This stupendous production 
was the fruit of his emigration, and partly written in the United 
Kingdom. As it continues to be published under the name of 
A. Le Sage, many are unacquainted with the real author; but 
the editor promises himself the pleasure of making the Historical 
Atlas more generally known and appreciated amongst his ooun 
trymen on a future day. 


granted to agriculture and commerce, had aug- 
mented, in 1805, the colonial produce to double 
the quantity that it was in 1799 ; every class of 
society was in good circumstances, and many per- 
sons had acquired considerable fortunes. The town 
of Cumana, situated at half a league from the sea, 
and on the shores of the gulf of Cariaco, increased 
to triple its former size ; houses elegantly built, 
and with Italian roofs, replaced hovels and huts ; 
and a new quarter or suburb, that rivals the ancient 
town, took the venerated name of Emparan. 

When Don Vincente de Emparan was governor 
of Cumana, he took upon himself to permit the 
ships of friendly and neutral powers to trade with 
certain restrictions in the ports of his government* 
This wise measure disseminated plenty and hap- 
piness in his province, whilst misery and despera- 
tion produced revolts in the neighbouring colonies. 
His sovereign, far from reprimanding him for 
having mitigated the gteverity of the prohibitory 
laws, in consequence of the urgency of the case, 
praised and granted him especial marks of favour. 

Formerly (in the time of the Welsers,) the 
province or district of New Barcelona, formed a 
part of the country ceded to them ; but there 
was no settlement made on it then. At that 
period the governor of Cumana was independent 
of Venezuela. In 1579, Juan Pimontel, gover- 
nor of the last named province, sent Garcia Gon- 
.zales, at the head of one hundred Spaniards, and 
four hundred natives in the pay of Spain, to 



repress the Cumanagotes or Quiriquirei Indian*, 
enemies of the Spaniards. Though Gonzales 
gained several advantages over various tribes of 
this country ; and although, if we can give credit 
to Oviedo y Banos, the historian of Venezuela, 
he could temper the rigours of war and victory 
by moderation and humanity, which caused him 
to be surnamed the glorious, by his contempora- 
ries; it is no less true, that the Indians were very 
far from being subjugated and pacified in 1585. 
It was in that year that the audienciaof* St. Do- 
mingo, in which the supreme government of the 
colonies was concentered at that period, ordered 
Christopher Cobos to go and wage war at his own 
expence against the Indians of Cumana and Vene- 
zuela, to expiate the crime of his father Alonzo 
Cobos, governor of Cumana, who had caused the 
assassination of Francisco Faxardo, celebrated in 
the annals of Venezuela. 

Luis de Roseas, governor of Venezuela, gave 
Christoper Cobos only a corps, composed of a 
hundred and seventy Spaniards, and three hun- 
dred natives to execute this duty, although he had 
been commanded by the audiencia to place under 
his orders all the troops at his disposal. Animated 
by the necessity of effacing the stigma attached to 
his name, the young Cobos did not hesitate to take 
the field with this handful of troops : perform- 
ing prodigies of valour, he subjected the Indians 
who , dwelt near the river Tuy, Unare and 
Neveri, and built near the mouth of the Salt 


River, the town of San Christoval (the name of 
his patron,) which no longer exists, its inhabi- 
tants having emigrated to Barcelona, founded by 
Joan Urpin in 1634. 

In those times of conquest and anarchy, the 
Spanish generals, who fought at two thousand 
leagues distance from their sovereign, acknow- 
ledged no other law than that suggested by their 
strength and caprice. Christopher Cobos en- 
raged at the scanty force Roxas had put under 
his command, and at his private intrigues to 
counteract his success, did homage for his con- 
quest to Rodrigo Nunes Lobo, governor of 
Cumana, and the metropolitan government 
approved of the union of the country of „the 
Cumanagotos (the district of Barcelona) with the 
government of Cumana. From thence it arises, 
that the governors of Cumana style themselves 
also governors of Barcelona. 

According to M. Depons, the population of 
the town of Cumana was twenty-four thousand 
persons in 1802. When I was there in 1807, 
it amounted to twenty-eight thousand and up- 
wards; and at the end of 1810, it had increased 
to thirty thousand inhabitants, almost all indus- 
trious and laborious. M. Depons also states 
that the population of the united provinces of 
Cumana, or New Andalusia, and of New Barce- 
lona, was then only eighty thousand souls, in- 
cluding that of the capital. But the statements 

102 CUMANA. 

I read on the spot, in 1807, declared this popu- 
lation to be ninety-six thousand persons. 

The town of Cumana has two parish churches 
and two convents for men ; one belonging to the 
Dominicans, and the other to the Franciscans. 
I had occasion to be acquainted with the friars of 
those two convents during my stay there in 1807, 
and I found them very worthy characters, liberal 
and enlightened men, strangers to all ideas of 
intolerance and persecution. 

There is no edifice in Cumana which strikes 
you by its magnificence. This town has a theatre 
.much smaller than that of Caraccas, and con- 
structed on the same plan : it would be suffoca- 
ting to be in a theatre built in the European 
fashion; besides, it rains still more rarely at 
Cumana than at Caraccas. The actors of Cumana 
are people of colour, who do not declaim in their 
parts, but merely recite them with a most tiresome 

Bull-feasts, cock-fighting, and rope-dancing, are 
the amusements most frequented by the inhabi- 
tants of this town and the rest of the province. 
There was no town clock in Cumana four years 
ago : while M. de Humboldt was in this town, 
in 1800, he constructed a very fine sun-dial 
there. When a stranger passes by this dial, if 
he be in company with a Cumanese, the latter 
never fails to say, " we owe this sun-dial to the 
learned Baron de Humboldt." The word sahio, 
which they employ on this occasion, signifies, 


in the mouth of a Creole of the Spanish colonies, 
both wise and learned. I remarked that they 
never pronounced the name of this illustrious 
traveller, without adding to it the epithet of 
sabio,«and they speak of him with a mingled sen- 
timent of admiration and regard. They are happy 
in relating the complaisance with which he shew- 
ed them him his astronomical instruments, and 
explained their use. Those who had received 
letters or notes from him, preserved them care- 
fully, and esteem it an honour to have had a 
correspondence with him. These sentiments of 
the Cumanese for that celebrated man, are equally 
honourable to their character, and that of the 
personage who is the object of them. 

The pretty river Manzonares runs through the 
middle of the town ; there is a very handsome 
wooden bridge across it : the water in this river 
has only sufficient depth for very small vessels. 
Large ships anchor at the Placer, a sand bank in 
the middle of the port, which is well sheltered. 

Cumana is in 10° 37 N. latitude, and 64* 10 
West longitude : its climate is very hot, the ele- 
vation of the town above the sea level, being only 
fifty-three feet. Farenheit's thermometer usually 
rises to 90, and sometimes even to 95 degrees, 
from the month of June until the end of Oc- 
tober. In that season it seldom descends to 80° 
during the night; the sea breeze tempers the heat 
of the climate, which is otherwise very healthy. 
From the commencement of November, to the 


end of March, the heats are not so great ; the 
thermometer is then between 82° and 84% in 
the day-time, and generally falls to 77° and 
even 75° during the night. There is scarcely 
ever any rain in the plain in which Cumana is 
situated, though it rains frequently in the adjar 
cent mountains. The hygrometer of Deluc is 
commonly at fifty degrees there, during the 
winter, and marks the utmost dryness from the 
beginning of November to the beginning of 

Cumana is built at the foot of a volcanic moun- 
tain, and subject to earthquakes. This town has 
no public establishment for the education of youth : 
it is therefore astonishing to find any knowledge 
among its inhabitants ; yet, there is some infor- 
mation disseminated among many of the Creoles 
of Cumana. They are but seldom sent to Eu- 
rope for their education ; the most wealthy re- 
ceive it at Caraccas, and the greater number 
under schoolmasters, from whom they learn the 
Spanish grammar, arithmetic, the first elements 
of geometry, drawing, a little Latin and music. 
I have remarked considerable talent, applica- 
tion and good conduct in their youth, and less 
vivacity and vanity than among those of Caraccas. 
Not being so rich as the latter, the Cumanese are 
brought up with principles of economy and indus- 
try : there are no idlers among them : in general 
they are inclined to business. Some apply them- 
selves to the mechanical arts, others to commerce: 


they have also a great partiality for navigation, and 
trading with the neighbouring colonies of other 
nations, and by their activity and prudence make 
considerable profits with small capitals. Their 
articles of exportation are cattle, smoked meat, 
(tassajo) and salted fish, which commodities they 
have in great abundance* Two pounds of beef 
are sold at Cumana for twopence-halfpenny ; and 
twenty-two pounds of salt meat, at from three shil- 
lings and fourpence to four shillings and twopence. 
Fish is never weighed there ; some days there is 
such a quantity caught by the fishermen, that 
they give ten, twelve or fifteen pounds weight 
for fiveperice. The poor go to the sea-side with 
maize, cakes and eggs, and barter them for 
fish., Eggs are the small change in Cumana, 
Caraccas, and other provinces of Venezuela, 
where copper coin is unknown ; the smallest piece 
in circulation being a medio-real in silver, worth 
twopence halfpenny. If one goes into a shop to 
buy something worth less than twopence half- 
penny, they give as change, two or three eggs ; 
for a dozen of eggs there is worth only twopence 
halfpenny. That is also the price of a measure of 
excellent milk, about a quart. A sheep is sold 
for a dollar ; a fine turkey for twenty or twenty- 
five pence ;a fowl for fivepence ; a fat capon seven- 
pence halfpenny to tenpence ; a duck, the same 
price ; game and wild fowl are frequently sold 
cheaper than butcher's meat, and all those articles 


are still cheaper in the small towns of the in- 

I lived at the best and dearest hotel in Cumana, 
at a dollar per day, including the expences of 
my son and servant. They gave us for breakfast 
cold meats, fish, chocolate, coffee, tea and Spa- 
nish wine. An excellent dinner, with Spanish 
and French wines, coffee and liqueurs. In the 
evening, chocolate. I was well lodged and lighted. 
I should have expended but half that sum if I 
had gone to board and lodge in a family. In 
short, there is not a country in the world, where 
one may live cheaper than in the province of 
Cumana. An excellent dinner may be had there 
fortenpence, not including wine, which does not 
cost more than fivepence per bottle, to those 
who buy a quantity of it. Poor people drink 
punch, which is at a very low rate, for it does 
not cost above one penny per quart. 

The inhabitants of Cumana are very polite ; it 
may even be said that they are excessively so* 
There is not so much luxury among them as at 
Caraccas; their houses, however, are tolerably 
well furnished. They are very abstemious. Those 
dinners and festivals which form one of the charms 
of society in .Europe, and which, in the British 
and French colonies are repeated almost every 
day from the first of January to the last of De- 
cember, are unknown to the inhabitants of Cu- 
mana, and the other provinces of Venezuela. 

The retail trade of Cumana is almost entirely 


in the bands of the Catalans, Biscayans, and 
Canarians: those men are chiefly sailors, who 
have begun to open shop with a few dollars, and 
who, in a few years, acquire fortunes by their 
frugality and industry. If a man of that coun- 
try lands without a farthing, the first Castalan 
he meets takes him to his house, gives him work, 
or recommends him to some of his countrymen. 
There are many countries in which one brother 
would not do for another, that which a Catalan 
is always inclined to do for his countrymen. In 
this they resemble the Scotch ; but they are not, 
like too many of the latter, whom we meet in 
the colonies, arrogant to their inferiors, and ser- 
vile to their superiors.* The Catalan preserves 

# The occasional reflections in which our author indulges on 
national character, are certainly no proofs of liberality; and 
although not participated in by the Editor, he does not feel himself 
justified in suppressing them. It is only by collecting the opinions 
of foreigners, that nations are enabled to estimate their claims to 
admiration or censure, as individuals look up to the voice of 
public opinion, and their friends, for the regulation of their con- 
duct Whether truth or prejudice has had most share in those 
charges which Mr. Lavaysse only makes in common with many 
other writers, it is no more than just to contrast what Mr. Curran, 
the most eloquent speaker, and distinguished patriot of his age, 
thought of the Scotch in their own country, with the opinions of 
these who have only seen them in our colonies, or struggling for 
emolument and place amongst the no less greedy English and 
Irish competitors who infest the British metropolis. In a letter 
to one of his correspondents, from Loudon Castle, that great man 
represents the Scotch, as " the natural enemies of vice, and folly, 


in all the situations in which he is placed by for- 
tune, a certain air of haughtiness and dignity, 
that gains him the esteem of every generous 

It was the Catalans who taught the inhabitants 
of Cumana, and the adjacent provinces, to derive 
advantage from various local productions; for in- 
stance, from cocoa nuts, they make oil from the 
pulp they contain ; with this pulp they also make 
an emulsion which is substituted for that of almonds, 
and with which they make very good orgeat, 
that is sold extremely cheap in their coffee houses. 
The Catalans were the first who established rope 
manufactories at Cumana, where they make ex- 
cellent cables of the bark of the mahet (genus 
bombaz,) also twine and cords of the aloe, (agave 
foetida,) &c. 

and slavery ; the great sowers, but still greater weeders, of the 
human soil. No where, 11 he adds, * can you see the cringing hy- 
pocrioy of dissembled detestation, so inseparable from oppression : 
and as little do you meet the hard, and dull, and right lined angles 
of the southern visage. 11 And in his masterly defence of Ha* 
milton Rowan, Mr. C. calls it " a nation cast in the happy me- 
dium between the spiritless acquiescence of submissive poverty, 
and the sturdy credulity of pampered wealth ; cool and ardent, 
adventurous and persevering, winging her eagle flight against the 
blaze of every science, with an eye that never winks, and a wing 
that never tires: crowned as she is with the spoils of every art, 
and decked with the wreath of every muse, from the deep and 
scrutinizing researches of her Hume, to the sweet and simple, but 
not less sublime and pathetic morality of her Burns !" — Life of 
Cuaiun by his son, Vol. I. pages 255 and 261. 


The town of Cumana is defended only by a 
miserable fort, which commands the town and 
port To the north-east is the Gulf of Cariaco, 
a small Mediterranean. Opposite to Cumana, 
is the Point of Arraya, on which there was 
once a fort, whose ruined walls alone were stand- 
ing in 1808. This gulf is twelve leagues long 
from east to west, and from three to four 
leagues* in breadth throughout its extent. It 
would be a magnificent port for a navy, where 
large ships might ride in safety from all wea- 
thers: batteries of heavy mortars, placed at 
each side of the entrance, could hinder the 
most formidable fleets from entering, because 
ships of the line, in order- to enter either the 
port of Cumana, or this gulf, are obliged, after 
having made the Point of Arraya, to avoid a 
sand bank, which runs from that point into the 
sea for two leagues. 

The Gulf of Cariaco offers in all parts of its 
eoast good anchorage and natural wharfs con- 
venient for shipping. On each side the land 
presents two amphitheatres ornamented with the 
most beautiful and varied vegetation and a culti- 
vated landscape. At the bottom of the gulf, to 
the east, is the fine plain of Cariaco, watered by 
the navigable river of the same name. At a mile 
and a half from its mouth is the town, or rather 
the large village of Cariaco, which in the Spanish 
official papers, bears the name of San Felipe de 

110 MARINE B1RD8. 

The population of the town was about seven 
thousand persons in 1807, four thousand inhabited 
the remainder of the district. Formerly they 
cultivated only the cotton and cocoa trees; but 
my venerable friend Martin de Arestimuno, of 
whom I shall have occasion to speak hereafter, 
formed a superb plantation of coffee there, and 
another of sugar with a distillery for rum* Ma- 
ny other persons have planted coffee and sugar 
canes ; among the rest, Messieurs Rubio, two 
enlightened and worthy farmers. In 1807, the 
governor, Manuel de Cagigal, endeavoured to 
prevent the distillation of rum, under the false 
pretence that it would injure the trade in brandies 
with Spain ; but the true reason was, that the 
rum trade, one of the English smuggling branches, 
brought large profits to his excellency. 

Innumerable swarms of marine birds frequent 
the Gulf of Cariaco, chiefly on the banks of mud 
situated on the sides of the entrance to the river : 
nothing can be more agreeable than to see at sun- 
rise, all those birds issuing by thousands from the 
mangrove trees, where they pass the night, and 
disperse- over the surface of the water to seek 
their food : when their hunger is satisfied, some 
repose on the mud and sand banks; some 
swim on the water merely for diversion, while 
others cover the branches of all the neighbouring 
trees. I have seen a bank of sand above three 
hundred yards in length, and the little banks or 
islands near it entirely covered with these aquatic 


birds. Those I recognised were flamingoes of all 
ages and colours, pelicans, herons, boobies, five 
or six kinds of ducks, of which one is larger 
than that of India, several kinds of water-hens, 
a bird as white and as large as a swan, but which 
has a long beak, red and pointed, longer and 
more delicate legs, and feet formed like those 
of a swan : it swims like that bird, but flies 
much better. I also saw in the same spot, many 
other birds which I am sure have never been 
described by any naturalist. Twice I paid the 
master of the vessel that took me from Cariaco 
to Cumana, .and back again, to remain half an 
hour at those islets, in order that I might con- 
template at my leisure those myriads of birds, 
of such various forms and colours. One of them, 
which I could not distinguish by sight, in the 
multitude, uttered plaintive and melancholy notes : 
at the time that it attracted my attention, I had just 
loaded a small gun, to gratify my son, who re- 
quested that he might be suffered to fire on a flock 
of birds that reposed within twenty paces of us ; 
the plaintive voice of this obtained mercy for all ; 
Samuel's hands were disarmed ; my sentiments 
passed rapidly into his feeling and tender mind, 
being at that time only seven years old. I was 
then a prey to persecution, and the distress occa- 
sioned by a most agonizing separation. The 
melancholy notes of a bird which appeared to 
resemble those of the turtle-dove in the place 


where I drew my breath, awakened all the ideas, 
the kind or cruel illusions which the word coun- 
try inspires in the mind of the unfortunate and 
persecuted who travel in distant and hostile re- 

The catching of docks and other aquatic birds, 
by two Indians in this part of the gulf, was 
an object of great amusement to my son, and an 
abstraction to myself. Though this singular and 
silent chase may have been already noticed, I can- 
not avoid describing it. In this part of the New 
World, the inhabitants of the shores of lakes 
and gulfs, leave calebashes continually floating 
on the water, in order that the birds, by being 
accustomed to see them, may not be alarmed at 
the sight. When the people wish to catch any 
of these wild fowl, they go into the water with 
their heads covered each with a calabash, in which 
they make two holes for seeing through. They 
thus swim towards the birds, throwing a hand- 
ful of maize on the water from time to time, of 
which the grains scatter on the surface. The 
ducks and other birds approach to feed on the 
maize, and at that moment the swimmer seizes 
them by the feet, pulls them under water and 
wrings their necks before they can make the least 
movement, or by their noise spread an alarm 
among the flock. The swimmer, attaches those 
he has taken to his girdle, and he generally takes 
as many as are necessary for his family. Many 


have no other profession in the neighbourhood of 
some towns, and daily take multitudes of these 
birds, which they sell at a low rate, though they 
are very good food. 

At about a league and a half from the town of 
Cariaco, and near the road that leads to Carupano, 
is a lake, or rather a marsh, of about half a league 
long, by nearly the same breadth, which is the 
resort of innumerable reptiles, toads, serpents, 
and crocodiles : it is there also, according to the 
assertions of the inhabitants of the neighbourhood, 
where the tyger cats go to quench their thirst. 
It was at ten o'clock at night when I first passed 
near this marsh : it exhaled an hydrogen-sulphurous 
odour extremely nauseous, and phosphoric fires 
appeared on its surface. A preacher of the Island 
of Margarita acknowledged to me that the hideous 
appearance of this lake, had furnished him with 
some of the imagery of a sermon which I heard 
him preach at the beginning of Lent in 1807, and of 
which I shall give a fragment in the description of 
that island. The inhabitants of the town of Ca- 
riaco have told me of a frightful animal, which 
so much resembles the fabulous winged dragon, 
that I dare not repeat the description they gave 
me of it, lest I should incur the ridicule of natu- 
ralists. A great many persons, however, assured 
me that they had seen it on the borders of the 
marsh. What can this amphibious animal, be ? 
Perhaps an enormous guana, lizard, or some 



monstrous reptile of the order of Sauriens. I col- 
lected petrolium on the brink of this marsh. 

The name of the town of Carupano is not found 
in the work of M. Depons on the government of 
Caraccas, nor on the map which accompanies that 
kind of statistic account, to which the name of 
Travels has been given. This town and its district 
merit, however,, a place there; for it is the first 
met with on the coast, after leaving the Gulf of 
Paria, and when coming from Europe, North 
America, or me Brazils. 

The port of Carupano is defended by a battery 
situated on an eminence. It is a very healthy 
place, built in the opening of two charming val~ 
lies, watered by two fine rivers. The inhabitants 
divide their time in the occupations of agriculture, 
some trading concerns, and dancing* It is com- 
pletely a dancing town. I have seen very fine 
youths at the balls of Carupano, and many young 
women, who would be remarkable for their beauty 
even in our European cities ; but they are beauties 
entirely strangers to the arts of our coquettes ; 
beauties such as nature has made them, and who 
know no laws than what that unsophisticated deity 
has given them. 

Carupano and the neighbouring district have a 
population of about eight thousand persons. There 
is a*considerable trade there in horses and mules. 
At the foot of the neighbouring hills there are 
quarries of gypsum (sulphat of lime); so that most of 


the houses in the town are cieled. In going by 
land from Carupano to Guiria, and the Punta 
de Piedra, the smiling valley of Rio Caribe is 
crossed, watered by numerous rivulets: it is the 
Tempe and Campagnaof this country. There was 
then in the valley of Rio Caribe a remarkable 
personage : he called himself a Greek, and native 
of Smyrna : others pretended that he was a Turk ; 
but of whatever nation he might be, he was cer- 
tainly a very worthy man : his name was Con- 
stants. When I was with him in 1807, he was 
eighty years of age, but with the vigour and 
appearance of a well formed man of fifty, and the 
vivacity of one of thirty. He had five children 
by his first marriage, and three by his second wife, 
who was young and amiable, and with whom he 
kept a very good house. I was most kindly re- 
ceived by him. Mr. Constantin is the wealthiest 
planter in this valley: I was recommended to 
him by a very respectable man, who lives retired 
in the solitudes of Cape de Paria, Mr. Closier 
d' Arcueil, a native of Paris. This gentleman is 
son of one of the first proprietors of Grenada, and 
cousin of the virtuous Closier Sainte Marie, legally 
murdered at Grenada in 1795. 

The town and valley of Rio Caribe have a popu- 
lation of 4500 persons. M. Depons speaks of 
Guiria and of Guinima, two villages established 
by the French and Spaniards, who emigrat- 
ed from Trinidad, to avoid the vexations of 
the British Governor. When a description is 



given of the provinces and districts of a country, 
their chief towns ought not to be omitted. Pun- 
ta de Piedra, which in 1797 was only a hamlet of 
fishermen, has become the principal place in the 
district of Paria, and the residence of a lieutenant 
governor*- Though the town is not yet consider- 
able, by the number and beauty of its edifices, it 
is nevertheless a most important spot, from the 
prodigious fertility of its territory, and its for- 
tunate position near the mouths of the Guara- 
piche, Orinoco, and Port Spain. 

The town is situated in a magnificent plain, and 
on a platform which commands the sea; from 
whence there is a view of Port Spain, all the wes- 
tern part of the Island of Trinidad, the gulf of 
Paria, and of all the vessels that «nter or go out 
of it. 

At the extremity of this plain, opens the beau- 
tiful and fertile valley of Yaguaraparo, covered 
with plantations of coffee and cocoa : the fertility 
of its soil, and the mildness of its climate, particu- 
larly appropriated to the latter plant, have made 
the fortunes of all the colonists established there. 
A Catalan sailor settled here, in 1790, when the 
valley was almost a desart : he began, alone, to 
fell the woods and plant cocoa trees : in 1797, this 
man had twenty negroes on his plantation: in 
1804 he had thirty slaves, and with this small 
assistance he gathered more than one hundred 
thousand pounds weight of cocoa. He died in 
1804, intestate, it is said, and the government 

GUIANA. 117 

took possession of his property. It was managed 
in 1807 by the surgeon-major of the garrison of 
Cumana, who deemed himself the proprietor of 
it. This officer placed a considerable number of 
slaves on the estate, and told me that he was sure 
the plantation would render him five hundred 
thousand pounds of cocoa annually, after six or 
seven years ! 

We are now arrived on the borders of the 
Province of Cumana, near the mouths of the 
Guarapiche and Orinoco. There also, as on the 
banks of the Ohio, I found Frenchmen and Irish- 
men thrown on those solitary shores by political 
persecutions ! 

The inhabitants of the district of Punta de 
Piedra were unanimous in the praise of their 
Lieutenant Governor Don Juan Mayoral. If 
physiognomy can be depended on, I am sure those 
praises could not be more justly merited. 

The jurisdiction of the Governor of Guiana 
used to extend over the establishments situated 
within cannon shot, on the left bank of the Ori- 
noco, at the Paria side. 

In 1808 the British Government established 
a post between the Guarapiche and Orinoco, 
near the sea, under pretence of cutting guiacum 
wood for their navy: they have since erected 
batteries which command the navigation of those 
two rivers, and it will hereafter become the Gib- 
raltar of this part of the globe, if the Venezuelan 
government should permit them to continue. 


The v allies, and above all the banks of the rivers 
of this part of the province of Cumana, abound 
in logwood and Brazil wood : they cut those 
woods at present, so necessary to their manufac- 
tures, and doubtless find it very convenient to have 
in their own possession, what they would other- 
wise be obliged to purchase from foreigners, 


Cumahacoais the chief town of one of the most 
fertile districts of this province, and is situated in 
a valley of the same name, at eighteen leagues 
inland to the south-east of Cumana : the air is 
healthy, and tolerably cool. The fruits cultivated 
there, are reputed the best in the province ; but 
cocoa is its principal wealth. The population 
of the town and adjacent country is about 
five thousand souls. Until thirty years ago, the 
neighbouring country was inhabited by uncon- 
quered Indians, who made frequent incursions 
against the Spaniards of this quarter; but the 
missionaries have pacified and united them in 

There are springs in the neighbourhood of 
Cumanacoa which contain salts similar to those 
of Epsom in dissolution, and other mineral waters. 
It is very well calculated to become a watering 
place, like our Plombieres, Bagueres, &c. 

M. de Humboldt, who remained at Cumanacoa, 


to make astronomical observations there, deter- 
mined its latitude at 10° 16' N. and its longitude 
at 64° 15' west. 

At twenty leagues further inland, on entering 
the range of the Bergantin mountains, near that 
©f Turimiquiri, is the famous grotto of Guacharo, 
in which are millions of a new species of Capri- 
mulgus*, that fill the cavern with their plaintive 
and dismal cries. In every country the same 
causes have produced similar effects on the imagi- 
nation of our species. The grotto of Guacharo is, 
in the opinion of the Indians, a place of trial 
and expiation : souls when separated from bodies, 
go to this cavern ; those of men who die without 
reproach do not remain in it, and immediately 
ascend, to reside with the great Manitou in the 
dwellings of the blessed: those of the wicked are 
retained there eternally ; and such men as have 
committed but slight faults of a venial nature, 
are kept there for a longer or shorter period, 
according to the crime. 

Immediately after the death of their parents 
and friends, the Indians go to the entrance of this 
cavern, to listen to their groans. If they think 
they hear their voices, they also lament, and ad- 
dress a prayer to the great spirit Manitou, and 
another to the devil Muboya; after which they 
drown their grief with intoxicating beverages. 

* Their fat is an article of commerce. 


But . if they do not hear the wished for voices, 
they express their joy by dances and festivals. 
In all this there is but one circumstance that 
creates surprize, it is that the Indian priests have 
not availed themselves of such credulity to aug- 
ment their revenues. Many Indians/ though 
otherwise converted to Christianity, have not 
ceased to believe in Guacharo : and to descend 
into Guacharo, is among them synonymous with 

Thus in the majestic forests of South America, 
as in the ancient civilization of Hindostan; under 
the harsh climates of the north of Europe and 
Canada, as in the burning regions of Africa, in 
all parts the man of every colour is distinguished 
from other animals by this irresistible foreboding 
of a future life, in which an Omnipotent Being 
recompenses the good, and punishes evil doers. 
Whatever may be the modifications, differences, 
or absurdities with which imagination, ignorance, 
and greedy imposture have enveloped this belief, 
it appears to be one of the strongest moral proofs 
of the identity of our species, and to be a natural 
consequence of reflection. 

If the gloom of this cavern, and the mournful 
cries of the Caprimulgus, which it constantly re- 
echoes, are adapted for influencing and intimidat- 
ing feeble minds ; the clear river that runs from its 
entrance, at the feet of majestic mountains crowned 
by the most beautiful vegetation, a smiling valley y 
together with the eternal spring of the climate, 


would have taiade an Elysium of this place, if it 
had produced a poet. 

I now proceed to describe the province or dis- 
trict of New Barcelona. This country is bounded 
on the east by the province of Caraccas, on the 
west by that of Cumana, properly speaking, and 
on the south by the Orinoco, which separates it 
from Guina. To the north is the chain of Ber- 
gantin, which proceeds from the mountains of 
Santa Martha, and loses itself in the sea at Cape 
de Paria. It is thinly inhabited and scantily cul- 
tivated, but less mountainous than those of Caraccas 
and Cumana. Its immense meadows feed numerous 
herds of oxen, horses, asses and mules, and thou- 
sands of them are exported annually to the neigh- 
bouring colonies. There is also a great quantity 
of oxen slaughtered there, of which the meat is 
smoked, and is an object of considerable trade. 
The port of Barcelona exported, during the peace 
of Amiens, and in one year, 132,000 oxen, 2,100 
horses, 84,000 mules, 800 asses, 180,000 quintals of 
tassajo or smoked beef, 36,000 oxhides, 4,500 horse 
hides, and 6,000 deer skins. In the environs of 
Barcelona there are cultivated various alimentary 
plants, including cocoa, of which there is a great 
consumption. There are not more exported from 
this province annually than 200,000 quintals of 
cocoa, 3 to 4000 quintals of indigo, about 2000 
quintals of arnotto, and from 250 to 300,000 quin- 
tals of cotton. The merchandize is packed with 
much care in ox hides and deers skins of a 


square form, and those coverings are an advantage 
in trade. Maize is also an article of growth and 
exportation ; but there is seldom more of it ex- 
ported annually than 150, to 200,000 sacks, of 
about 150 pounds each. The inhabitants of the 
country grow & little rice for their own use, but 
it has not yet become an article of commerce. 

Although the fisheries furnish abundantly for 
the consumption of the inhabitants on the coasts of 
this district, and they derive an article of small 
traffic with the interior from them, they are very 
far from being as productive as those of Cumana, 
and the coasts of the Islands of Margarita, CU- 
baguft, and Coche. This district, though its ex- 
tent is so great, has only two towns, Barcelona 
and Conception del Pao. In 1634, Don Juan 
Urpin laid the foundations of Barcelona, on the 
left bank of the river Neveri, and at a league from 
its mouth : the chief place »f the establishment in 
this canton was then the town of Cumanagoto, 
situated at two leagues higher up the river, which 
is now only a miserable village. Alcedo con- 
founds Cumanagoto with Cumanacoa, or San Bal- 
taz de los Arias. As every Spanish town, must 
have a saint for its patron, that of Cumanagoto 
was named San Christoval de Cumanagoto. 

Previous to the foundation of Barcelona there 
existed a town called Maracapano, situated nearer 
the sea. Though its name is still found in the 
Dictionary of Alcedo, and on maps which are 
equally incorrect, even the ruins of it are not to 


be found, and the present inhabitants of Barcelona 
are not quite agreed about the spot on which it 
was situated. 

Though there is considerable trade at Barcelona, 
and it contains some opulent commercial houses, 
the town is badly built ; the houses are of mud, and 
in general very meanly furnished. The streets 
are filthy and miry when there is rain, and in fine 
weather the dust is enough to blind one, however 
trifling a wind may blow. Alcedo with his usual 
negligence says, that the climate of Barcelona is 
more unhealthy than that of Cumana. It is 
exactly the reverse : the climate of Cumana is 
very healthy, though hot, because it is extremely 
dry, and that of the town of Barcelona unhealthy, 
from the opposite causes. This town had in 1807, 
a population of 16,000 persons. 

Barcelona is in 10° 6' N. latitude, 67° 4' W. 
longitude, and twelve leagues from Cumana in a 
direct line ; but the windings which it is necessary 
to make to avoid bad roads, make it a journey of 
twenty hours. It is reckoned ten marine leagues 
by sea from the port of Barcelona to that of 
Cumana, and not two leagues, as M. Depons has 
said : from the former to the latter port there are 
a great number of islets, frequented by fishermen, 
but they afford no shelter for large vessels. 

The town of Conception del Pao is built in a 
plain situated at the other side of the range of 
Bergantin : the air there is wholesome, although 
it is very hot and much exposed to heavy rains. 


It owes this advantage to the comparative eleva- 
tion of its scite, which does not permit the water 
to remain stagnant, that runs into the Orinoco, 
and Guarapiche. It is an uncultivated country, 
but abounding in natural pastures which feed 
numerous herds that are exported by those two 
rivers, to the islands of Trinidad and Tobago. 
About the middle of the last century, Pao was 
only a village inhabited by people of colour ; the 
produce of their cattle having enriched them, the 
inhabitants of the adjacent countries hastened to 
settle themselves there. Ten years ago, they re- 
ceived all possible encouragement from Governor 
Emparan, and they now reckon three thousand 
persons inhabiting the little town of Pao. About 
one thousand more inhabit the savannas in the 
neighbourhood, where tbey are occupied with 
their cattle, and the cultivation of as much cocoa, 
maize, and bananas as are necessary for their sub- 
sistence. The rest of the population of the dis- 
trict of Barcelona is distributed in six or seven 
villages, and in the Hales, places where the herds- 
men alone inhabit. The population of Pao, the 
villages and savannas, is about twenty-eight thou- 
sand persons, while the total population of the 
province of Curaana or New Andalusia, compre- 
hending the district of Barcelona, is ninety-six 
thousand souls. 

Historians and geographers have asserted that 
New Andalusia is a province depending on the 
government of Cumana, a country which they 


did not know where to place. A map that I 
have before me, places this country between 
the Orinoco and the Caroni. Many others are 
equally erroneous on this country. The fact is, 
that, in political geography, New Andalusia is 
synonymous with Cumana. It is therefore neces- 
sary to say, the province of Cumana or New 
Andalusia. There are few countries more va- 
ried, fertile, or better watered than the different 
districts of this province. Its mountains on the 
coast form a magnificent barrier opposed to the 
sea, and appear to be a rampart placed by nature 
to secure her favourite country from those hurri- 
canes or sudden tempests so destructive to the 
Antilles. Those mountains and hills are crowned 
with] gigantic and valuable trees, fine shrubs, 
aromatic plants, flowers that have the brightest 
and most varied tints, and perfume the atmosphere 
in every season. 

This country is, in general, very healthy, a 
few marshy places excepted : its climate is par- 
ticularly favourable to old persons and women. 
Here age does not present that horrible trtdn of 
disease, with which it is accompanied in northern 
countries : gout, rheumatism, blindness, deafness, 
and corporeal deformity are almost unknown. 
In that happy climate persons of both sexes enjoy 
almost to the last moment of life, all their physical 
and intellectual faculties : there, man is gently 
extinguished, and does not, as in cold countries, 

126 GUIANA. 

perish a martyr to hereditary disease, or intolerable 


This extensive region which is included between 
the mouths of the Orinoco and the second degree 
of North latitude, contains several European 
settlements, those of the Spanish portion are by no 
means the least fertile or important. 

Spanish Guiana has for its boundaries the Por- 
tuguese possessions at San Jose de Marasitanos 
to the south, New Granada and the Varinas to 
the west ; those of Cumana, Barcelona, and 
Caraccas on the north ; and French and Dutch 
Guiana to the east. The maritime bounds of 
this country extend one hundred and twenty 
leagues, from the river Amazons to the northern 
mouth of the Orinoco. 

Previous to the treaty of peace concluded in 
September 1801, the Portuguese possessions ex- 
tended from the mouth of the Amazons to the 
Nortfc Cape, east of the Island of Carpori : the 
same treaty fixed the river, Carapana, as the limit 
of French and Portuguese Guiana: this river 
runs into the Amazons in 20' of North latitude, 
above Fort Macapa. This limit or line of demar- 
cation follows the course of that river, in running 
to its source, from whence it continues by the 
chain of mountains which divide the course of the 


rivers as far as the head of the Rio Blanco, supposed 
to be between the second and third degrees of 
north latitude. 

France has no other possession in this country 
than Cayenne, a colony which has always been 
languishing from mismanagement/ and not by 
any means owing to the unhealthiness of the cli- 
mate. It is very far from being as unwholesome 
as some have described it, for the climate is pre- 
ferable to that of the Antilles, and the soil much 
more fertile. The words Cayenne and Guina are 
evidently derived from the Indian word Guainia, 
the Marsitan name of the Rio Negro and surround- 
ing country. Europeans have therefore given the 
name of Guiana, or Guayna, to all the country 
situated between the rivers Amazon and Orinoco. 

The language of the Marsitan Indians is as gene- 
rally disseminated towards the Equator, as the 
Caribbean tongue is from the banks of the Esse* 
quibo to those of the Madelaine. 

According to the Spanish historians, Juan 
Cornepo was the first European who sailed up 
the Orinoco, and reconnoitred this country in 1531. 
Sir Walter Raleigh and Robert Dudley visited 
it afterwards. The chimera of El Dorado also 
attracted a great number of Spanish adventurers 
to it. Missionaries were sent there in 1676, who 
accused: the Dutch as being the cause of their 
success among the natives. 

In 1586, Don Antonio Berreo founded a 
town, to which he gave the name of San Tome, 

128 8AN TOME. 

on the right bank of the Orinoco ; but the con- 
tinual wars be had with the Indians, did not per- 
mit him to establish himself there. This town has 
subsequently been pillaged by the English, Dutch, 
and French. In 1764, it was transferred further 
from the sea, and at ninety leagues from the 
mouths of the Orinoco, being the town now 
known by the name of San Tom£ de Angostura. 

During the Spanish domination, San Tome was 
the residence of a governor depending on the 
captain general of Caraccas in political and mili- 
tary affairs, and on the intendant of Caraccas for 
those of finance. It was also the residence of a 
bishop and chapter. The chapter and its bishop 
are the poorest ecclesiastics in America. 

There isl>ut one city and five towns in Spanish 
Guiana; San Tom£, Barceloneta, Santa Rosa 
de Maruente, and Caicara, which is about a hun- 
dred leagues westward of San Tome, and San 
Antonio, forty leagues distant from it. There 
are, however, missionaries dispersed over this 

The town of San Tom£ had, in 1807, a popu- 
lation of about eight thousand five hundred per- 
sons, among whom were three hundred black 
slaves. This town is pretty well built and paved. 
Though it is situated in 8° 8' of latitude, and in 
62° of longitude, and elevated only thirty toises 
above the level of the sea, it still enjoys a very mild 
temperature. It Seldom happens that Reaumur's 
thermometer rises above twenty -four degrees, in 


the hottest time of the year ; and from the begin- 
ning of November to the end of April, it rarely 
rises above 20° during the day, and generally 
descends to 17° at night. The regular breezes, a 
great number of rivers and streams which water 
it, and the immense forests that surround it in 
almost every direction; are the causes which tend 
to diminish the excessive heat that seems natural 
to its latitude and trifling elevation above the 
sea. The remarks which I shall hereafter offer 
on the climate of Demarara, will apply equally 
to that of Spanish Guiana; but it appears to 
me, that the temperature and climate of Spanish 
Guiana are more agreeable, no doubt because 
the waters of the Aripo, the Caoni, and the 
Orinoco have more declivity than those of the 
Demarara and Essequibo. 

It is very strange that Spanish Guiana, which 
is by far the most fertile country of Venezuela, 
should be, notwithstanding, the worst cultivated, 
the poorest and least peopled. I do not believe 
there exists a country more wholesome, better 
watered, more fertile and agreeable to inhabit than 

that which is situated on one side between the Esse- 


quibo and the Caroni, and on the other, between 
the Caroni and Orinoco : this tract is more than 
forty-five leagues from north to south, and seventy 
leagues from east to west ; yet in its whole extent, 
it does not form a sixth part of Spanish Guiana! 

If the Jesuits had not founded formerly the 
missions which are now superintended by the 



Capuchins, it would still have been covered with 
forests inhabited by savages and beasts of prey. 
The manners of the indigenous inhabitants of 
Guiana will be treated of in another place. I 
believe their number is about thirty thousand 
souls ; of whom fifteen thousand are united in 
missions. The others, such as the Arrooaks and 
Guaraouns, are independent, and have not em- 
braced Christianity. Tt is estimated that there 
are eight thousand whites dispersed in the vil- 
lages and huts in the remainder of the province, 
about six thousand Mestizos or free people of 
colour, and about three thousand slaves. I, have 
already stated the population of the capital, San 
Toro£, to be eight thousand five hundred persons ; 
making a grand total of fifty-two thousand. 

The unfavourable commercial position of the 
port of San Torae de Angustura, is one of the 
principal causes of the languishing state of agricul- 
ture and trade in this colony. It is necessary that 
there should be a commercial town nearer to the 
sea ; for the swiftest sailing vessels require fifteen 
days to sail from the mouths of the river to Angus- 
tura. This port becomes worse every day from the 
sand banks : there are rocks in that part of the port 
most convenient for landing merchandize, but 
these might be easily blown up. The town of 
Barceloneta, peopled with industrious Catalans,* 
is well placed for becoming a situation of consider- 
able trade. 

To give an idea of the poverty of Guiana, M. 


Depons says, that the tythes of it were farmed out, 
in 1803, at only four thousand dollars per annum. 
The same writer adds, that the cattle of the Capu- 
chin missionaries, of which he calculated the 
horned beasts only at 160,000, in 1803, paid no 
tythe, which is true ; but that does not explain 
why the tythe yields so little in this province. 
The fact is, that it paid very badly there ; because 
the inhabitants can easily evade it, placed as they 
are near large navigable rivers, where they sell in 
contraband almost all their produce and cattle. 

M. Depons admits, however, that there were 
exported from 1791 to 1794, in objects produced 
from this province and that of Varinas, 10,381 
oxen, and 3,140 mules, and that there were im- 
ported 200 negro slaves and 349,448 dollars. 

No one knew better than M. Depons, that not 
a fifth part of the produce of Venezuela was sent 
to Spain ; that three fifths of this produce at least 
were purchased by the English smugglers, princi- 
pally by those of the Island of Trinidad, and the 
remainder by the Swedish smugglers of St. Bar- 
tholomew, and the Danes of St. Thomas's, who, 
since the peace of 1783, have paid the Spaniards 
for what they bought of them, in British manufac- 
tures. M. Depons may have had his reasons for 
not divulging all those things ; for not saying 
" that, though in no country the fiscal laws have 
been more rigorous than in the Spanish colonies, 
there was yet no part of the world where there 
was so much contraband trade, and where the 

k 2 

138 PLANT*. 

rights of the national commerce were more vio- 
lated, owing to the absurdity of those laws, which 
will be examined in a future chapter. 

When by the effects of a liberal government 
and wise laws, Guiana arrives at that pitch of 
prosperity, in which the inhabitants can avail 
themselves of the fertility of its soil, and its pecu- 
liar natural riches, the numerous navigable rivers 
which intersect it in every direction, geographical 
position, &c. it will become the centre and maga- 
zine of an immense trade, of the importance of 
which, no one who has not visited the country 
can form an idea. 

It is to the banks of the Orinoco the inha- 
bitants of Santa Fe de Bogota will go, to ex- 
change the productions of their soil, for those of 
European industry, and for the commodities of 
North America ; while the first named country 
will also become the centreof a great trade between 
Peru and other parts of the world. 

Until now, Spanish Guiana has been a country 
almost wild. The only object of cultivation being 
a little sugar, cotton, indigo, arnotto, and excels 
lent tobacco, very agreeable for smoking, because 
it has not the pungency of that plant in northern 
climates. Of aromatic and medicinal plants, the 
lignum quassia, and the bark of Angostura, to 
which the name of Bonplandia trifoliata has been, 
given, will some day or other become great objects 
of trade. 

The oxen, horses and asses, which were origi- 


nally transported from Europe, have increased 
greatly there, and form immense herds : a great 
part of them are wild in the savannas and forests, 
and others are kept in the natural pastures inclosed 
by the Spaniards, who are occupied in the care 
of those animals. There are some persons, each 
of whom possesses a tract of country of five or six 
leagues square, and is a proprietor of thirty or 
forty thousand oxen, horses, mules or asses ; but, as 
it is impossible for them to keep and take proper 
care of such a great number of beasts from the want 
of herdsmen, they merely brand the flanks of their 
animals, occasionally beating up the forests to 
examine the cattle \vhich belong to each, and to 
sell the best. 

But there are thousands of these animals which 
are wild in the forests, and do not belong to any 
one. I was enabled to ascertain a fact known to 
all who have travelled in this country. The horses 
live there in societies, generally to the number of 
five or six hundred, and even one thousand : they 
occupy immense savannas, where it is dangerous 
to disturb, or try to catch them. In the dry sear 
son they are sometimes obliged to go two or three- 
leagues, and even more, to find water. They set 
out in regular ranks of four abreast, and thus form 
a procession of an extent of a quarter of a league. 
There are always five or six scouts who pre- 
cede the troop by about fifty paces. If they per- 
ceive a man or jaguar (the American tyger), 
they neigh, and the troop stops : if avoided, they 


continue their march ; but if an attempt be made 
to pass by their squadron, they leap on the impru- 
dent traveller, and crush him under their feet. 
The best way is always to avoid them, and let 
them continue their route : they have also a chief 
who marches between the scouts and the squadron, 
and five or six other horses march on each side of 
the band ; a kind of adjutants, whose duty con* 
sists of hindering any individual from quitting 
the ranks. If any one attempts to straggle either 
from hunger or fatigue, he is bitten till he resumes 
his place, and the culprit obeys with his head 
hanging down. Three or four chiefs march at 
the rear guard, at five or six paces from the troop. 
I bad often heard, at Trinidad, of this discipline 
among the wild horses, and confess that I could 
scarcely believe it ; but what I have just stated is 
a fact, which I witnessed twice on the banks of 
the Guarapiche, where I encamped five days for 
the express purpose of seeing those organized 
troops pass. I have met on the shores of the 
Orinoco, herds of fifty tola hundred wild oxen : 
a chief always marched at the head and another 
at the rear of these. 

The people of the country have assured me, 
that the wild asses, when they travel, observe 
the same discipline as the horses ; but the mules, 
though they also live in troops, are continually 
fighting with each other, and it has not been ob- 
served that they have any chief. They, however, 
unite at the appearance of a common enemy, and 

VARINA8. 135 

display still more trick and address than the 
horses in avoiding the snares which are laid for 
catching them, and also for escaping when taken. 
I remember to have seen one of these wild 
mules escape from a park, where he had been kept 
at Carupano, by throwing himself on his belly, and 
feigning to be dead : suddenly he passed his head 
under one of the bars of the gate, pushed it open, 
and rushed into the town : above thirty persons ran 
after him in every direction, and after a pursuit of 
two hours, they were obliged to give up the 
chase. It would be too tedious to recount all the 
tricks and stratagems employed by this animal to 
escape us : we finished the hunt by laughing at 
each other, for leaving him at liberty, 


The town and territory of Varinas were de- 
tached in 1787, from the government of Mara- 
caybo ; when there was a portion of the province 
of Caraccas joined to it, and it was made a sepa- 
rate government. This province, which previous 
to this period, had been greatly neglected by the 
mother country, has since increased considerably, 
in point of agriculture and population. The town 
ofVaripas had, in 1787, a population, of twelve 
thousand inhabitants. According to JVf . de Hum- 
boldt, it is situated in 7° 33' of latitude, and 70° i%* 
West longitude from the meridian of Greenwich. 

136 PRODCCTf OH 8. 

This province hasonly three other towna, which are 
San Jayme, containing seven thousand souls ; San 
Fernando d'Apure, six thousand souls. M . de Hum* 
boldt places San Fernando in 7° 53* North latitude, 
and 70° 20' W. longitude. Pedraza is situated at 
the foot of the mountains which separate the plains 
of Varinas from the province of Maracaybo : this 
little town had, in 1807, a population of three 
thousand souls. The total population of this 
province, comprising those of the towns "I have 
Just mentioned, amounted in 1807, to 141,000 

This country is still in its infancy, though its 
territory is not inferior in fertility to any other 
part of South America. It is only since the last 
twenty years that sugar, coffee, indigo and cot- 
ton have been cultivated there. Formerly the 
inhabitants grew only cocoa and the provisions 
of the country necessary for their consumption. 
Their articles for exportation were cattle and 
tobacco, famous in every market of the world. 

It is asserted at Caraceas and Trinidad, that 
the tobacco grown in the neighbourhood of the 
town of Varinas, is subject to be damaged by a 
worm, that introduces itself into the roll, and 
reduces it to powder in a short time. I have, 
however, bought some of this tobacco, which was 
in good condition after it had been kept two years, 
and worthy of its ancient reputation. The fail- 
ing attributed to it for some years past, in the 


Trinidad and Venezuela markets, no doubt pro- 
ceeds from some accidental cause, or the negli- 
gence of those who prepared it. 

The province of Varinas is watered by nume- 
rous streams, and several navigable rivers which 
flow into the great Portuguese river, and the 
Apure, the principal tributary of the Orinoco. 

The inhabitants of this country lead a pastoral 
life : they live in the pastures, surrounded with nu- 
merous herds. Though in the midst of abundance, 
great natural wealth, and all the necessaries of life, 
they have not the means of purchasing any thing 
belonging to the luxury of dress, furniture, and 
European liquors ; because they have no direct 
communication with the neighbouring colonies, 
and being placed in the interior of the country, 
they are obliged to sell their produce and cattle, 
at a miserable price, to the smugglers of San Tom6 
de Angustura and of Caracca*. But when the 
present contest terminates, and freedom of trade 
follows, it will become one of the richest and best 
peopled of this part of the world; for in general 
its climate is no less healthy than its soil is fertile. 
There are few indigenous natives in this province: 
they are almost all assembled in a mission of the 
Andulusian Capuchins, situated at five or six 
leagues from San Fernando de Apure. I believe 
there may be about six hundred of them. Other 
civilized Indians live with the whites and mestizos, 
in the pastures. There are scarcely six thousand 
slaves in the population of the province of Vari- 


nas, and these are only slaves in name ; for they 
live in the greatest familiarity with their masters, 
and are equally well fed, lodged, and clothed. 


The town of Maracaybo, or New Zamora, was, 
until the beginning of the seventeenth century, 
the capital of Venezuela. When the town of Ca- 
raccas had become the capital of the general go- 
vernment, the town of Maracaybo was no longer 
any more than the residence of the governor of 
this district, which took the name of province. 

New Zamora was founded in 1571, by Alonzo 
Pacheco, four years after the foundation of Ca- 
raccas. Coro, as already seen, was the residence 
of the governors in the time of the Welsers ; but 
this town remained in the distinct government 
of Caraccas, when the country was divided into 

Maracaybo is well built of stone : its climate 
is healthy though hot. It was calculated in 1807, 
.that it contained twenty-five thousand inhabit- 
ants, of whom five thousand were slaves. The 
natives of the town of Maracaybo have, in the Spa- 
nish colonies, the reputation of being very witty. 

The Jesuits had a college there, which pro- 

. duced some distinguished scholars, and it became 

the literary town of America; but with that 

order of clergy, the establishments for public 

.instruction in this province also fell. The Creoles 

MERIEM. 139 

t>f Maracaybo, however, preserve a decided taste 
for literature. But what is the use of literature 
if not directed towards its proper object, that of 
promoting 1 civilization and public liberty ? The 
youth of Maracaybo, who have received from 
nature great talents and imagination, place their 
principal glory in distinguishing themselves by 
cavilling and subtlety of argument. Thus the 
people of Maracaybo are reputed among their 
neighbours as deceitful and litigious; but the 
women have the character of being generally 
virtuous and much attached to their duties. 

Next to Maracaybo, the most important town 
of this province is Merida, founded in 1568 by Juan 
Rodrigues Suare : this town is the seat of a bishop 
and chapter ; it has also a seminary for young 
ecclesiastics, and a college which pretends to 
rival the university of Caraccas. It was, for 
some years, that of the provincial government, 
towards the middle of the last century. This 
town is situated between three rivers, which 
form an island of its district, and discharge them- 
selves into the lake of Maracaybo. The position 
of this town near the mountains, renders its tem- 
perature very variable : however, the inhabitants 
assert that by wearing woollen clothes, as good 
health may be enjoyed there as any where else. 

Truxillo was founded in 1520, by Diego de Para- 
des, and once considered the handsomest town in 
this part of America; but it was pillaged and burnt 
by the pirate Grammont in 1678, who had landed 


eighty leagues from it. All the inhabitants 
who could not escape, were cut to pieces. The 
ruins of its buildings are the monuments of its 
past grandeur. There were twelve thousand 
inhabitants in it in 1807. This town is situated 
among the mountains, and therefore enjoys a 
very mild temperature. In the vallies of its dis- 
trict are cultivated all the tropical productions ; 
and on the hills and elevated situations, wheat, 
vines, and other articles produced in the tempe* 
rate regions of Europe. Gibraltar is another 
little town placed near the lake, and on the shore 
opposite to the town of Maracaybo : it contains 
three thousand inhabitants. The population of 
the province of Maracaybo was in 1807, 174,000 

Population of the Provinces of Venezuela, in 1807. 

Caraccas - - 496,772 inhabitants 

Cumana - - 96,000 

Island of Margarita 16,200 

Spanish Guiana - 52,000 

Varinas - - 141,000 

Maracaybo - - 174,000 

Total 975,972 inhabitants. 

The whites among this population are about 
200,000, in which number there are scarcely 
twenty thousand Europeans : the free people of 


colour, the mixtures of European, indigenous and 
African blood, were to the number of 436,000 ; 
the negro or mulatto slaves 58,000 ; the Indians 
were about 282,000: of whom 210,000 were 
united in missions of practiced trades in the towns 
and villages. According to a census made in Ja- 
nuary, 1811, the population exceeded one million 
of souls. 


On the 5th of January, 1807, I departed from 
Carupano, on the coast of the province of Cu- 
mana, to visit the Island of Margarita. The 
passage is about thirteen leagues,* Having 
sailed at six o T clock in the morning in an open 
boat, we arrived at Pueblo de la Mar about noon. 

On landing I went to the commandant to shew 
him my passport, and met the most obliging 
reception from him, as well as from his wife, a 
young and very pretty Spanish Creole, He told 
roe that he had two Frenchmen established 
in the town s and that perhaps I might be desirous 
of seeing them, upon which he sent to conduct 
me to their houses. They were two Provencal 
traders, formerly residents in Martinico. They 
received me with that pleasure which is experi- 
enced by those who meet their countrymen at 

* 1 1 is but eight leagues from the island to the continent 


two thousand leagues from home ; an enjoyment, 
of which a man who has never quitted his native 
soil to travel in distant countries, cannot form an 
idea. One of those Provencals had married a 
woman of the country, carried on a little business, 
and seemed to be in very easy circumstances. 
The other was a complete original : by his dress 
he might be taken for a sailor ; he had no other 
clothes than a pair of trowsers, blue shirt and 
a handkerchief on his head. Those two persons 
lived in the same bouse, and they invited me to 
pass the day with them. I was not a little sur- 
prized to find a great deal of information under 
the rough exterior of my second heist. I inquired 
how v he spent his time, and how, with so much 
instruction, and a mind so cultivated, he did not 
die of ennui in that wild place, deprived of the 
society of men of education. He answered, 
that he was partly occupied in teaching a little 
Latin to some young Creoles who were destined 
for the church, and the rest of his time he employed 
in learning English and German. He added 
that in the five years during which he had led 
this life, he had only two occasions of conversing 
with Germans, and very seldom with Englishmen: 
however, by dint of learning words, and of speak- 
ing from vocabularies, he had succeeded in learn- 
ing to speak those two languages with tolerable 
facility. " Having lost the little fortune I made 
at Martinico, when I have acquired two thou- 
sand francs, I shall return to Europe, from 


whence I can go and settle in the* United State* 
of America: with my knowledge of the German, 
English, Spanish and Italian languages, and that 
of book-keeping, I shall find the means of placing 
myself advantageously in some large commercial 
town." Such was the project of M. Isnard, the 
name of this persevering polyglott. 

My two countrymen invited me after dinner 
to take a walk on the beach : while there, I saw 
a number of persons assembled in the gallery of 
a house situated on the sea shore : we went into 
it, and I was presented to the master, an old 
man of eighty years of age, and very active* He 
was occupied with some young girls, in dressing 
a figure of the Virgin, which was to make its 
appearance in the evening (it was twelfth day,) 
at the benediction. " Well, my friend," said the 
old Spanish Creole to me, " Fll lay a wager you 
have never seen a Holy Virgin more magnifi- 
cently and elegantly adorned than mine ? You 
see on her dress all the lace and the finest ribands 
of these young ladies. Admire that beautiful crown 
of pearls ! There are as many in it as there are days 
in the year." I reckoned them, and there were 
really three, hundred and sixty-five beautiful 
pearls. I applauded his zeal highly. " At last," 
said he, " I am happy to find a Frenchman who is 
a good catholic : we have had some of your coun- 
trymen here already ,sailors, and certainly heretics. 
I heard them say, for I understand a little French, 
that it was a great pity to put so many fine pearls 


on a statue : oh los demonios ! los hereticos ! Oh 
the devils, the heretics ! Can any thing be more 
agreeable to God, than ornamenting the imma- 
culate Virgin, his mother!" 

A moment afterwards, the Holy Virgin was 
placed on a bier, from whence hung several rose 
coloured ribbands, and each of the living virgins 
who were with the old Spaniard, held one of 
those ribands : the - figure was thus carried by 
four churchwardens, and received at the church 
door by the priest, the proprietor of the statue 
held the censer. 

When the ceremony was over, I returned to 
his house, chatting with the Creole virgins of the 
procession. The freedom of their conversation 
and manners surprized me. I inquired of my 
countrymen who those young girls were; and 
they informed me that four of them were the 
sultanas of the old beau, who was extremely 
jealous: he kept them locked up at night, 
and had them watched during the day by two 
of his negroes ; this did not, however, prevent 
them from having lovers and intrigues among 
the travellers who visited the port; a system 
which allowed the two inspecting negroes to live 
in the midst of luxury. The other vestals of 
the train followed the same profession. Those 
people firmly believe that their devotion to the 
Virgin Mary, and the absolution of their priest, 
expiate all their sins, even to robbery and murder: 
lull of these ideas, they live strangers to all mora- 


lity, and give themselves up without constraint 
or remorse to all the brutality of their appetites. 

In walking along the beach, I met those 
French sailors, the heretical despisers of the Vir- 
gin's statue. By my appearance, they also took 
me for a seaman, and soon became as free with 
me, as if we had known each other for many ' 
years: they informed me of a truly piratioal 
scheme which they had just formed : it was sim- 
ply that of carrying off the Virgin's crown of 
pearls during the night, and depositing it on 
board the privateer, then lying at anchor in the 
roadstead. All I could say to dissuade them 
from this scheme had no effect : I then assumed 
an air of authority, and made them believe I was 
a French officer going to Caraccas on govern- 
ment business, and that if they committed such 
a base action, I would accuse them to Admiral 
Villaret, governor of Martinique, and to Gene- 
ral Ernouf, governor of Guadaloupe. My me- 
nace had the desired effect, and the crown of the 
Madona del Pueblo de la Mar was suffered to deco- 
rate the Virgin! 

After having dined with my countrymen, the 
Provengals, I departed for Pompatar, the prin- 
cipal port of the island ; my son, servant, and 
self were each mounted on a mule, which is the 
only mode of conveyance in this island. A fourth 
mule carried my baggage, among which were two 
large flasks full of old Catalan wine ; but being 
badly tied on, one of them fell to the groiind and 



broke in the middle of the town, or rather the 
village of Pueblo de la Mar. I immediately saw 
five or six Creole women ran with cowd* to 
gather up the spilt wine, even what was on the 
ground, and drinking it with an avidity that 
induced me to suppose they had never tasted 
wine before. The inhabitants of this place are 
very poor, as are the greater part of those on 
the island : they are as fond of their country as the 
Barbadians, but not so vicious. As in Barbadoes, 
I did not hear of those abominable mothers who 
offer their daughters to strangers for a pecuniary 

The melancholy ideas which had constantly 
haunted me, since my departure from Trinidad, 
acquired a still more dismal tint on viewing the 
desolate scene here, which seemed to lie under a 
malediction. I saw nothing around me but cactus 
arboresoens, some mimosas covered with thorns, 
and plants whose leaves were full of prickles and 
points, all of which grew on sandy soils. Here 
and there I met with a few goats, some lean and 
sorry mules and asses, which having lost their 
hoofs, had lamed themselves in trying to graze 
on the leaves and flowers of those vegetables ; but 
the humming birds, and the harmonious notes of 
other tropical birds, diverted my attention occa- 
sionally from this gloomy spectacle. At length, 
after a journey of an hour and a half, we arrived at 

* Cups made of oaieba»hes cut in two. 


Pompatar, and put up at the house of a Corsican 
sailor, to whom I was recommended. I remained 
in this island until the first week of Lent.* One 
day about four o'clock in the afternoon, being 
wholly unoccupied, I went into a house where 
there were billiards and games of hazard : I saw 
an old Spanish priest brought to the door in a 
sedan chair* who had a gold cross embroidered on 
his cossack on the left side: he was supported 
into the gaming room by his two negro bearers. 
This old man could scarcely crawl stlong, in con* 
sequence of a fit of the .gout. He took a place 
among the gamesters, who were there, as in all 
other countries, the most worthless of the com- 
munity. Other players were the officers of three 
French privateers, and some English smugglers, 
whose vessels were at anchor in the roads of Pom- 

* The Editor is persuaded that the following passages will not fail 
to arrest the attention of every thinking mind;_for surely it is 
impossible to contemplate without emotion, the striking picture 
here introduced, of the abandoned profligacy and disgusting 
hypocrisy, which all who have visited those unhappy countries 
acknowledge to be the characteristics of the Spanish and 
Hispano-American priesthood. Would to Heaven J that this 
powerful exposition of practices, at once so insulting to the 
common sense of mankind, and so derogatory from the beautiful 
simplicity of True Religion, may assist the glorious efforts of a 
free and enlightened press, in tearing off the flimsy veil with 
which bigotry and self-interest have contrived to shroud truth 
and reason from the deluded many in other quarters of the globe. 
But, alas ! the regions that are yet bound by the chains of papal 
superstition, are not the only theatres whereon the religious 
Tartuffe is still permitted to play a too prominent part. 

l 2 

148 A SERMON. 

patar. I inquired who this old priest was, and 
heard that he was the principal officer of the 
Inquisition, and the most inveterate gamester of 
the island, who passed all the time in which he 
was not engaged by the functions of his holy office 
in this receptacle. In spite of the horror in which' 
I have always held such places, T remained there 
until six o'clock in the evening, for in travelling 
everything should be seen. The inquisitor having 
risen from his seat at six o'clock, announced that 
he was going to preach his I^ent sermon, and that 
after the sermon he would return and resume bis 
place. I followed this strange kind of preacher 
to church, to hear what could proceed from such 
unhallowed lips. The subject of bis sermon was 
purgatory ; and I give a specimen of it, which 
merits notice, as it will give an idea of the religious 
opinions and instruction of the country. 

" When any of ye, my brethren, becomes sick, 
he hastens to send for a physician, and spares no 
expence to obtain relief from his sufferings and 
effectuate his cure. And what are corporeal suf- 
ferings of the most painful kind, which we expe- 
rience in this inferior world, in comparison with 
the dreadful torments by which souls detained in 
purgatory are afflicted ? Nothing, my brethren, 
nothing ! The inspired writers of the holy Roman 
church assure us, that the torments which are 
suffered in that place of expiation and purifica- 
tion, are, in every respect, equal to those of hell; 
with this sole difference, that in purgatory, angels 


are the executioners of divine vengeance, and the 
souls detained there feel a certainty that their 
sufferings will have an end. But that termina- 
tion, when does it take place ? For a very small 
number it is at the end of a few days ; for others, 
in some months! others, after many years: in 
short, it is prolonged to many centuries, accord- 
ing as the venial sins they expiate, are removed 
from, or approach to the nature of mortal sin. 
However, your kind and tender mother, the 
holy Roman church, august spouse of Jesus Christ, 
to whom alone he has confided the care of your 
souls, and without the pale of which there is 
nought but error and eternal damnation ; this 
good ond tender mother has conferred on all her 
ministers the power of the keys ; that is to say, my 
brethren, that of shutting and opening the gates 
of purgatory, and of paradise. Thus it is, that 
through the merits of the indulgences granted by 
our most holy father the pope, the bishops, and 
by the blessed sacrifice of the mass, we can at 
all times open the gates of purgatory and para- 
dise, and introduce into the seat of eternal felicity 
souls purified by the holy fire. 

" Oh ! how adorable is the mercy of our 
Saviour! Oh! how precious is that power which 
he has conferred on his church ! but how ungrate- 
ful you are for so much kindness ; how insensible 
to the soft sentiments of pity and of sympathy for 
your suffering neighbours and friends ! 

" The church declares to you by my mouth, 

160 PCBGATOjnr. 

that the pains of purgatory are not inferior to 
those of hell, and that their duration alone makes 
the difference. I shall sketch to you, my brethren , 
the picture of those sufferings. There are felt at 
the same time the extremes of heat and cold ; 
that is to say, that whilst one has, for instaaoe, 
the feet and hands frozen, the other parts of the 
body are a prey to the devouring fire. Horrible 
serpents introduce themselves into the bowels and 
entrails of some, whilst their neighbours are cover- 
ed with nauseous reptiles which suck their blood, and 
disgusting toads eject their scum and urine on the 
faces of others ! They are also tormented with 
the most excruciating hunger and thirst 1 ! ! Such, 
my brethren, are the frightful torments experi- 
enced by those of your relations and friends now 
there; such is also the fate that awaits almost 
all of you ; and I venture to say all, unless I can 
suppose that you possess the purity and innocence 
of angels at the moment your souls shall be sepa- 
rated from your bodies. 

" It is, however, still in your power to put an 
end to these cruel calamities, and to permit those 
unhappy beings to enjoy the celestial beatitude ; 
which is, you know, my brethren, by taking indul- 
gences and causing masses to be said for their 
deliverance. And yet, how negligent you are. of 
this pious duty! Ah, wretches! stony hearts t 
the same fate awaits you ! God grant that your 
children, that your neighbours, when you die, 
may have as little compassion on you, and forget 


you as soon, as you shew lack of pity and remem- 
brance of those who are gone before you P* 

At this pathetic morsel of the sermon, there was 
nothing to be heard in the church but groans and 
blows on the breast. Four churchwardens were 
busily employed, two carrying about indulgences 
for sale ^ and two others receiving money for saying 
masses. When the distributers of indulgences 
passed me, I took two of them, one for purgatory, 
and the other to have leave to eat meat and eggs. 
The latter was very necessary to show my hosts, 
and enable me to eat meat without reproach. 

Two days afterwards 1 went to Assoncion, the 
capital of the colony : there I saw the inquisitor ? 
who was walking on a terrace with another priest ; 
he saluted me kindly, and invited roe into his 
friend's horse. "Well," said he, " I saw you the 
evening before last at church ; I was charmed with 
your attention: you bought some indulgences, 
this was really edifying in a Frenchman ! But 
then, tell me sincerely 5 were you satisfied with 
my sermon ?" — " I could not be otherwise, most 
reverend father: above all I admired the fertility 
of your imagination^ and the frightful picture of 
purgatory. They must be heretics or infidels 
who would not take indulgences and cause masaes 
to be said, after hearing a sermon so hideously 
pathetic V ' 

Though my reply was pronounced in a most 
serious tone, the old inquisitor burst into a fit of 
immoderate laughter, and of the most malignant 


kind. " I venture to say, that in your own mind 
you make a good jest of my sermon, and say to 
yourself, oh, the mountebank! the impostor!" 
u By no means: on the contrary I have the greatest 
respect, most reverend father, for all you utter." 
" You are only ridiculing me ; but what the devil 
should I preach to those ignorant and vulgar 
beings who were my audience ? The pure lan- 
guage of the gospel would be as unintelligible as 
that of reason to their brutish minds. These dis- 
gusting and frightful images, of toads, reptiles, 
serpents, icy cold, and devouring flames, can alone 
move their coarse faculties, and are very well 
adapted to their limited understandings." — " Since 
you speak to me with so little reserve, most reve- 
rend father, will you permit me to reply to you in 
the same manner ?" "Most certainly ," replied the 
old man. " Do you not believe, it often happens 
that many of your congregation, shocked at the 
absurdity of your purgatory, finish by the opinion 
that the whole doctrine of Christianity is only an 
imposture ? What happens then ? You had 
taught them the moral duties, founded on this 
belief, which they despise and reject, and they 
renounce the practice of duties prescribed by the 
gospel and reason, the same day in which they 
cease to believe in those dogmas. If you would 
limit yourself to instructing them in evangelical 
morality, they would be less vicious, because they 
would then believe in principles, which for from 
being revolting to common sense, have nothing 


but what is agreeable and consoling to a well dis- 
posed mind, when united with a good judgment* 
For the greater part of those who persevere in 
their faith, confess freely that they make their 
religion consist in outward ceremonies and trifling 
observances. You have given so much impor- 
tance to those external practices, that it is in them 
most of your flock place their religion. They 
serve as a covering to hypocrisy, vices, and even 
to crimes in many others. I know a devotee 
who is the most vain, violent, malignant and 
envious of mankind : he has passed his life in 
pining at the prosperity of his neighbours, slan- 
dering them, quarrelling with his wife, and sub- 
mitting to all her caprices. This man hates his 
children, and obliges them by every kind of ill 
usage to'abandon their home : yet this is a sancti- 
fied man, who goes to church two or three times 
each day, and would believe himself damned if 
he were to eat meat on Friday, &c. His wife was 
the most refined hypocrite from the age of twelve : 
at that period she was turned out of a convent 
for a most perfidious and base action. She, 
too, has played the saint all her life, and under 
that mask has imposed on weak minds; and has 
always been seconded by rogues and hypocrites, 
who represent her as an angel. It is true that she 
has enriched more than one of them with the pro- 
perty of her family, which she has reduced to 
poverty. Her son happening to surprise her one 
day, she fearing that he would discover it to his 

154 ADVICE. 

father, employed all her influence with her hus- 
band, who was weak-minded and passionate, to 
render his son odious to him. Oppressed with ill 
usage, the young man was obliged to leave his 
country. Some time afterwards, having perceiv- 
ed that her daughter was acquainted with the 
same fact, she did all in her power to turn the 
girl's father against her. At last, the daughter 
was stabbed by a maid servant. This crime was 
accompanied with the most dreadful circum- 

" You know, reverend father, that bigots are 
generally reputed malignant, egotistical and de- 
ceitful; yet those, are the three vices against 
which Jesus Christ has warned us. Why do you 
Hot preach continually to the faithful the par- 
don of injuries, charity, and sincerity? The 
practice of those virtues, I know, requires grea- 
ter efforts over ourselves, than abstinence from 
flesh-meats in Lent, or a conformity to frivolous 
ceremonies. I see that you have a mind too well 
formed, and too observing, not to be aware 
that a grpat number of believers think they ex- 
piate all their vices, and render themselves agree- 
able to God, by the exercise of these practices. 
Employ your eloquence to destroy this baneful 
error, to unmask the hypocrites ; thunder against 
them, as Jesus Christ did against the Pharisees ; 
instruct young people, who are naturally sin- 
cere and susceptible, that it is possible to become 
agreeable to Heaven, and estimable among men, 


only by the practice of those virtues, which con- 
sist in rendering our fellow creatures better and 
more happy." 

Here ended my sermon. The inquisitor con- 
fessed frankly that he thought as I did ; " but," 
added he, " if I were to preach according to your 
principles, what difference would there be be- 
tween me and a Protestant preacher ? I have no 
desire to become a reformer, I would lose my time 
in that vocation, with a people so ignorant and de- 
praved as my flock. The most rational and use- 
ful thing I can do, is to instruct them according 
to the principles of the belief in which we have 
been brought up." 

As bulls and indulgences formed a topic in 
the sermon of the Margarita preacher, I think 
that in displaying the virtues attributed to them 
in the Spanish colonies, I shall fulfil the duty I 
have imposed on myself of depicting the man- 
ners, religion, and intellectual acquirements of 
the inhabitants of the countries I have visited. 
I know that what I am about to relate will 
displease certain persons, who twenty years ago 
would have thought I had spoken with too much 
moderation; and others, whose intentions I re- 
spect much more than their knowledge. I do 
not, nor do I wish to belong to any party or fac- 
tion : those to whom I am well known, know 
how opposite to my disposition it is to insult any 
person whatever. But in describing a country 
so little known to Europeans, a country which 

166 BOLLi. 

is on the point of becoming so conspicuous in 
the political world, I ought not to omit any 
thing that may contribute to complete the descrip- 
tion of its inhabitants. 

The bulls of indulgences, as every one knows, 
derive their origin from the crusades. Pope 
Alexander VI. made a crusade of the conquest of 
America, by granting indulgences to those who 
engaged in it ; and though for a long time war has 
not been carried' on against the natives, still in- 
dulgences are annually sent to Spanish America. 

The titles of these bulls are as follows : Bull of 
the living; Bull of the dead ; Bull of white-meat* 
and eggs; Bull of composition.* 

The reader will not perhaps be displeased 
to be informed of their miraculous properties : 
I shall begin with that called the common bull of 
the living. 

In the first place, all the grace and favour of 

• A Spaniard whom I have met since this work was put to press, 
has told me I had forgotten the bull of the Cruzada ; a bull by 
which the Popes granted a great number of indulgences, privileges 
and exemptions in this and the other world, to those who buy 
them. This bull is sold at two reals and a half (6Jd.) to the com- 
mon people, the rich pay for it in proportion to their fortunes. 
It renders annually to the King of Spain £170,000, of which 
the New World pays one half. It was granted to the Kings of 
Spain and Portugal to assist them in making war against the 
Mahometans of Africa and Asia ; and as for a long time those 
wars have ceased, the produce of the bull of the Cruzada has serv- 
ed or was deemed to serve in aid of the expences of wars against 
the Indians who refused to embrace the Catholic religion. 


Heaven, that can be desired, is attached to its 
possession: with this bull in the pocket, and 
faith as to its power in the head, a firm believer 
cannot fail to obtain whatever he demands from 
Heaven ; and if it should happen that his peti- . 
tions were not heard, it is not, as may well be 
supposed, the fault of the bull, but the insuffi- 
ciency of his faith. In such a case, it is neces- 
sary to buy and re-buy other copies of the bull, 
until what is intreated of Heaven be obtained. 
A volume would not be sufficient to explain and 
enumerate all its virtues; I shall limit myself 
to indicating the most valuable. 

The fortunate possessor of the bull of the liv- 
ing, if he had murdered his father, mother and 
children, if he were guilty pf incest and of crimes 
the most outrageous to nature, has onfy to seek 
a priest, who, at the sight of this miraculous pa- 
per, cannot refuse him absolution ; when suddenly 
he becomes reconciled to Heaven, and his con- 
science remains as tranquil, as far removed from 
remorse, as that of Caesar Borgia, when, furnished 
with the previous absolution given to him by his 
father, be departed on an excursion to assassinate 
or poison some prince of his time. Blasphemies 
against God, atheism, &c. are also pardoned in 
those who buy this bull. There is but one crime 
(without doubt, the worst of all crimes,) incre- 
dulity in the oracles of the Vatican, vulgarly 
called heresy, which resists their power. 

He who buys the bull of the living, enjoys the 

168 PRICES. 

inestimable advantage in a hot climate, of being 
able to hear the masses which are said every day 
in these countries, one hour before sunrise ; to 
have it celebrated at his own home when the 
church of his parish is interdicted; to be buried in 
consecrated ground, if the church-yard is inter- 
dicted ; to eat meat on fast days, and all the 
meals required by the appetite on days of 
abstinence, saving some exceptions which the 
present Pope has commanded by his bulls of 
January 1, 1804. 

He who buys the bull in Spanish America, 
gains certain indulgences of the greatest impor- 
tance in the world to come, of which the unhap- 
py European Catholic can only avail himself by 
making a journey to Rome. But what appears 
most wonderful in this bull, is, that notwith- 
standing all that is promised by the acquisition 
of one copy, yet he who buys two of them ob- 
tains double advantages : a mysterious virtue of 
the greatest value to rich believers ! 

The tariff of this bull is proportioned to the 
rank and wealth of the faithful. 


For viceroys, captains general, their wives, and 
each of their full-grown children, fifteen dollars. 


For bishops, inquisitors, abbots, priors, canons, 
dukes, marquisses, counts, and other noblemen ; 


for members of the audiencia, general officers, 
colonels, corregidors, alcaldes, <&c. ; as also per- 
sons having a capital of twelve thousand dollars ; 
even for persons who having only a capital of 
twelve hundred dollars, are yet alcaldes or mayors 
of villages, three dollars. 


The bull of the living costs one dollar and a half 
to each person having a capital of six thousand dol- 
lars, without any civil or military employment. 


The poor who desire to avail themselves of the 
advantages attached to this bull, may obtain it 
at the moderate price of two reals and a half, 
about one shilling. 

After the bull of the living naturally comes 
that of the dead : it is a real passport, by virtue 
of which a soul goes direct to Heaven, without 
having been purified by the fire, and other tor- 
ments of purgatory. As soon as a man dies, a 
relation or friend goes to a priest to buy a bull, 
on which is written the name of the deceased, 
and at that instant his soul flies, as pure as that 
of an angel, to the asylum of the blessed. The 
wealthy, and persons in easy circumstances, pay 
six reals for this bull, about half a crown, and the 
poor two reals and a half. 

I have more than once heard the poor in this 


country lament, and utter the most frightful 
shrieks at the death of their relations ; the grief 
for their loss was trifling in comparison with that 
felt by knowing they were in purgatory, from 
the want of this trifling sum for delivering them. 
They run about in every direction, begging alms 
with tears, in the hope of procuring as much 
money as may enable them to buy bulls for re- 
leasing the souls of their relations from purgatory. 
I have more than once had the happiness of calm- 
ing their grief, relieving a soul from that state, 
contributing to the comforts of a Spanish priest, 
and of attracting to myself a thousand benedic- 
tions, for a quarter of a dollar. 

Yet let it not be supposed that these bulls and 
indulgences dispense with the saying of masses 
for the dead. Alas ! there are many venial sins 
that have a strong resemblance to mortal ones ! 
Masses only, and masses by hundreds, can, in this 
case, mitigate the anger of the great Judge : who, 
affected by these numerous sacrifices, consents to 
treat an equivocal sin as a venial one. In all the 
churches of this country there are pictures repre- 
senting heaven and purgatory : in a corner of the 
picture is a priest saying mass; at the side are 
people giving money for the celebration of mass, 
and souls starting out of purgatory when masses 
have been said for them. They are received by 
the archangel St. Michael, who is depicted hold- 
ing a pair of scales in his hand, one of which is 
full of the money for the masses, and appears to 


sink, whilst the red hot souls, like boiled lobsters, 
throw themselves into the other scale, from which 
they fly to Heaven ! 


All the World knows that arsenic is not more 
injurious to the body, than eggs and milk to the 
soul during Lent: but as there are stomachs 
which, in that time of abstinence, cannot do 
without milk and eggs, the Roman church dis- 
penses with its observance to persons who buy 
this bull. It has, in its kindness, established four 
rates, by which all the faithful, poor or rich, may 
profit by this indulgence. The greatest person- 
ages pay six dollars each, the second class three 
dollars, the third class one dollar and a half, 
and the poor three reals. 


Of all possible bulls, this is without doubt the 
most wonderful, and that of which the moral re- 
sults are the most evident. Pope Alexander VI. 
was very worthy of being the author of it ; but 
that which 1 cannnot comprehend is, that the said 
pope having had virtuous and enlightened pon- 
tiffs for his successors, they did not desist from 
sending such a bull to America : so much do men 
stickle for their authority and wealth, whatever 
may have been their origin ! 

Persons who are little versed in these matters, 


will find a difficulty in believing that this bull has 
the virtue of rendering the robber or usurper of 
the property of others, the legitimate proprietor. 
The author of the bull had stipulated as a con- 
dition in it, that the thief should not know the 
person he had robbed : thus, a pickpocket who 
in a crowd steals a watch or a purse, he who robs 
on the highway or in a house, becomes legitimate 
proprietor of what he has stolen, provided he 
knows not whom he has plundered. The com- 
missary general of the holy crusade published at 
Toledo, in 1768, very curious instructions for 
the faithful of Spanish America; instructions 
which singularly extend the faculties of the bull. 
Never did casuist or Jesuit imagine any thing 
more ingenious for calming consciences troubled 
with remorse : nothing can be more lucid and con- 
clusive than the following reasonings of the casuist 
of Toledo. All our property coming from God, 
who has a right to deprive us of it, and give it to 
others by whatever means he may deem proper to 
use, it is evident that our most holy father the 
Pope, who represents God on earth, ought also 
to have the right to legitimate the possession of 
such property. It is that which is obtained by 
employing in pious works a part of what has been 
acquired by fraud or violence, and it is the con- 
fessor who regulates amicably with bis penitent 
the quota for those pious works, or in other words 
the portion for the church I" The bull of compo- 
sition costs two dollars and a quarter without dis- 


tinction to every one ; but there are objects stolen, 
of which it is not possible to become proprietor, 
without buying fifty bulls. 

A passage, remarkable for the generosity 
and nobleness of its sentiments, occurs in the edict 
of the commissary general of the holy crusade, 
dated -Madrid, September 14th, 1801. u The 
price (of bulls) is somewhat raised, owing to the 
new expences of government, and the necessity 
of redeeming the royal bonds, which a scarcity 
of money had caused to be issued in time of war !" 
A statement of what the bulls produce to the 
clergy and exchequer will be found in another 

The Island of Margarita, which was disco- 
vered by Columbus in 1498, was granted by 
the Emperor Charles V. to Marceto de Villalo- 
bos in 1524: it was in 1561, the theatre of the 
robberies and cruelties of the famous Lopez de 
Aguirre.* This island gave birth to Francisco 

v * Lopez de Aguirre, a Basque, was an audacious robber, who 
spread terror in South America, about the middle of the sixteenth 
century, during the civil wars in Peru, between the parti zans of 
Pizarro and Almagro. He had been sent by the viceroy Gon- 
zales Pizarro to explore the navigation and country near the 
river Amazons, under the orders of Don Pedro d'Orsua. The 
banditti who composed this expedition, murdered Orsua, because 
he was a moral man, and wanted to restrain them with in the limits 
of their duty. They proclaimed Lopez d' Aguirre their chief, and 
gave him the title of king. After having ravaged the kingdom of 
New Grenada, the Island of Trinidad, and that of Margarita, 
the countries of Venezuela, Santa Martha, &c. Aguirre became 
the executioner of his accomplices, of whom he daily put some to 

M 2 


Faxardo, celebrated in the annals of Venezuela, 
for his heroic virtues and humanity. He was the 
son of a Spaniard of the noble family of Faxardo, 
and of Donna Isabel, daughter of Charayma, 
cacique of the tribe of Guaiqueris, who inhabit 
the vallies of Mayna, in the province of Caraccas. 
The chronicles of that country, and Oviedo y 
Banos, the historian of Venezuela, represent this 
Indian lady, as one of those women whom nature 
occasionally produces, to command men by the 
ascendency of their genius. 

I regret much that the limits and plan of this 
work do not permit me to recount all that Fax- 
ardo and his moth'er did for civilizing the Indians, 
and subjecting them more by persuasion than 
force to the Castilian government* This extra- 
ordinary man, who was destitute of education, 
but in whom nature had united the most sublime 
virtues, great talents, and heroic courage; 
after having rendered the highest services to his 
countrymen and to the Castilian monarch, was 

death, because he fancied nothing but conspiracies against him ; 
they all, with the exception of one, abandoned him at the battle of 
Borburata, and went over to the royal»camp, crying, " God save 
the king !" The commandant, Garcia de Parades, granted them 
pardon in the name of his sovereign. Reduced to despair, he 
addressed these words to his only daughter, who accompanied 
him in his travels: " Commend your soul to God, for I am going 
to take your life, that you may never have the shame of being 
called the daughter of a traitor ;" and a moment afterwards he 
shot her in the breast with his musket While wandering about 
pursued by despair and remorse, he was taken, shot and quar- 
tered, after having requested a few minutes respite, to make 
important discoveries for the interests of his sovereign. 


thrown out of favour and forgotten; a victim 
to the jealousy of base and contemptible calum- 

Faxardo built at the port of Caravellada, near 
La Guayra, a town, to which he gave the name 
of Collado, in honour of the governor of that 
name. It was he also who discovered the gold 
mine of San Francisco, which gained him the 
hatred of the inhabitants of Tocuyo, who also had 
mines. The Governor Collado, jealous of the 
glory of Faxardo, exiled him to the town to 
which he had given his name; and which it 
soon lost, to resume that of Caravellada, as if to 
punish the governor for his mean jealousy. Since 
that time La Guayra has become the principal 
port of Caraccas, while Caravellada has dwindled 
into a village inhabited by fishermen. 

Though the soil of Margarita is arid and un- 
productive, this island soon became populous, as 
the pearl fishery attracted numerous navigators. 
The Dutch, jealous of its prosperity, burnt and 
destroyed Pompatar, the principal town in 1662. 

The colony of Margarita was for a long time 
only a district of the province of Cumana, and 
governed by a chief who had the title of lieu- 
tenant governor,, under the orders of the Gover- 
nor of Cumana. It is about twenty-five years 
since the Spanish cabinet made it a separate go- 
vernment, owing to the importance of its posi- 
tion, both in a military and commercial light. 
However, the Governor of Cumana, who was 


himself subordinate to the captain general of Ca- 
raccas, preserved the title of military inspector 
of the Government of Margarita, which was the 
reason of its being considered as a dependency to 
that of Cumana, before the late revolution. 

The Island of Margarita has three ports, the 
most important is that of Pompatar, situated on 
the south-east coast. It is a large and fine 
basin, in which vessels are defended from winds 
and tempests :- its entrance is protected on one 
sfde by a fortress, and on the other by batteries. 
Those are the principal fortifications of the island : 
there is a considerable contraband trade there 
with the English and French colonies, &c. and 
also with Cumana. 

Pyeblo de la Mar is another port, or to speak 
more correctly, an open roadstead ; it is a place 
of little trade, and is situated at a league and a 
half westward of Pompatar. Pueblo del Norte 
is, as its name indicates, a village situated in the 
northern part of the island : a coral reef renders 
the entrance of this port difficult to mariners 
who are not accustomed to it. Two batteries 
defend its entrance against privateers. Near this 
port is a village inhabited only by fishermen. 

The vallies of San Juan, Santa Margarita, and 
Los Robles, have each a village which bears their 
name. Assoncion is the capital of the island, 
and the residence of the governor. This little 
town is pretty well built, although its inhabitants 
are not wealthy ; but there is every appearance 


of comfort afld industry there. It has two parish 
churches, and a convent of recollets. During 
Lent in 1807, 1 attended a ball and festival given 
by the Governor Gaspar Cagigal. There were 
two hundred persons at table, among whom I 
observed several very pretty women, well made, 
and dressed with an elegant simplicity. Many 
priests and friars were also at the festival: my 
old friend, the inquisitor, was the most conspicuous 
of them all, and made himself singularly agree- 
able. He was dressed in a beautiful habit of black 
silk, with embroidery and green ribbands, and a 
gold cross embroidered on his mantle. The other 
ecclesiastics were also in cassocks of black silk, 
and the father guardian of the recollets had a 
gown of puce-coloured taffeta; and flesh coloured 
silk stockings. This friar is a Creole of Caraccas, 
a very fine man, witty, learned, and benevolent, 
but a great dandy y * like almost all the natives of 

The agriculture of the island scarcely suffices 
for the maintenance of its inhabitants Maize, 
cassava, and bananas are their principal resources : 
the bananas are excellent, but very small, owing 
to the aridity of the soil, and dryness of the cli- 
mate. The inhabitants cultivate in small propor- 
tions, and for their own consumption only, all 
the productions of the Antilles, the sugar cane, 
coffee and cocoa trees, &c. ; they rear a great 
many goats and sheep, which, though lean, give 
delicious milk, owing to the .aromatic herbs on 


which they feed. They have all kinds of fowl at 
a very trifling price, and have a little trade in 
them. Living is still cheaper at Margarita than 
at Cumana or Caraccas. I have bought a capon 
there for fivepence, a dozen of eggs for two- 
pence halfpenny, two bottles of milk for the 
same, a fish of ten or twelve pounds for the same, 
a turkey for one shilling, a lamb of two months, 
for fifteen pence, &o. The fishermen sell or ex- 
change their fish for cakes of maize, bananas, 
cassava bread, &c. I know of no inn, pro- 
perly speaking, in this island ; but a stranger 
is received in every house there when he 
offers to bear a part of the expenses. My coun- 
trymen would not conform, in regard to me, 
with this custom of the country: having re* 
fused to receive any remuneration for the kind 
and generous hospitality with which they received 

The climate of Margarita is very healthy, it 
is there that persons go, who have contracted 
obstructions and other diseases in the humid and 
unwholesome parts of the Island of Trinidad and 
the continent. This island has only three ri- 
vulets, which, however, are sufficiently large to 
turn mills, when such are established : their 
waters are limpid j th^t of the little river which 
runs by the town of Assoncion, and which in 
some places passes over a bed of amphibolic 
schistus, contains sulphurated iron, magnesia, £$" 
The inhabitants prefer drinking water frqm 


ponds, though it is always turbid. The first time 
they presented this water to me at Pompatar, I 
refused it with disgust ; but I was assured that it 
was more wholesome than rain water, and they 
laughed at the grimaces I made. The rich have 
filtering stones ; others drink as they draw it, 
and do not find any bad effects from it* This 
water contains a great quantity of calcareous 

The fisheries produce the principal object of 
trade at Margarita :, they are placed at the 
Islet of Coche, which belongs to government. 
Two merchants of Margarita had the privilege 
of this fishery in 1807, and they carried it on 
at Coche: the men who were employed ill 
it, were Indians of Margarita. It was not 
freely, but by order of government that those 
natives worked in the fishery, at the scanty 
pay of a real (five pence) per day, and bread <rf 
maize or cassava. M. Depons is wrong in say- 
ing that they give them only maize bread for 
their entire food* I have been twice at the 
fishery of the brothers Maneyro, the most con- 
siderable of the two, and they ate as much fresh 
or salt fish as they chose; more than three 
hundred Indians of both sexes and all ages* were 
employed there in 1807. ~ 

The quantities of fish caught are incredible. 
Twice a day they draw a seine of two hundred 
feet long, and it seldom happens that at each drag 
they have not at least ten to twelve quintals of 


fish. This net sometimes contains so many, that 
they are obliged to cut the meshes, in order to let 
some of the fish escape which they are unable to 
haul on shore. It would be too tedious to de- 
scribe the different kinds which are taken : the 
most common is the mullet of the Caribbean Is- 
lands, which the Spaniards call lissas : this fish has 
not been well described ; it resembles a herring. 

I have always been surprized that the contirou, 
and balahou, another non-descript fish, are never 
caught on this coast, nor on those of Trinidad 
and Tobago. It is not the centriscus scopolax, 
or the blower, as some writers have believed. 
The balahou has certainly the same snout, but 
its body is much longer. Those fish are com- 
mon at the Antilles and even at Grenada, which 
is only thirty leagues distance from Trinidad. 
They are sometimes caught, but very rarely, out- 
side the Dragon's mouths. 

• On the coast of Trinidad, Tobago, and those 
of South America, are found many kinds of fish 
which do not exist at the Antilles. It is also re- 
markable that the Antilles are deficient in a great 
number of species of vegetables and animals that 
are found in Trinidad, Guiana, and the adjacent 
provinces. The observing naturalist is struck 
with this difference in countries so near each 
other, and of which the climate is almost the 

The salt works would be lucrative objects for 
Margarita, if salt were not so very cheap in all 


those countries. A barrel of salt, not purified, 
weighing about three hundred pounds, is sold 
for about twelvepence halfpenny at Margarita* 
Poultry, wild fowl, goats or kids, sheep ham- 
mocks, and beautiful cotton stockings are arti- 
cles of exportation. 

This island is divided into two parts, which 
communicate with each other by an isthmus or 
natural causeway, that is scarcely more than 
from eighty to one hundred paces broad, and in 
some parts, from ten to twelve feet only above 
the level of the sea. 

The mountain of Macanou is the most elevated 
of this island : it is above two thousand feet high, 
according to M. de Humboldt, who measured 
it trigonometrically, and is composed of mica- 
ceous schistus. It is an important point for 
navigators to make, who go from Europe or , 
from North or South America to Cumana, Bar- 
celona and La Guayra: as they are obliged to sail 
between Margarita and the Islet of Coche, to 
avoid running the risk of being carried to leeward 
by the currents. 

Margarita had, in 1807, a population of eight 
thousand whites, five thousand five hundred mix- 
ed blood, one thousand eight hundred Indians, 
and about nine hundred slaves, making a total of 
16,200 persons. This island is sixteen marine 
leagues in its greatest length, six in its greatest 
breadth, in some parts only two or three leagues 
broad, and its surface is thirty-one square leagues. 


After remaining six weeks at Margarita, I 
Vas necessitated to freight a vessel, for which I 
paid one hundred and fifty dollars, to take us to 
Guadaloupe : it was a small decked bark of eight 
tons burden : contrary winds drove us to a desert 
island, called Blanquilla, situated at eighteen 
leagues north west of Margarita, where we 
anchored and remained three days. This island 
is nearly three leagues in length, and a league 
and a half broad ; though it is represented as much 
smaller on the maps. Its soil is a white tufa (de- 
composed pumice) sandy and sterile. It has, on 
the northern side, some rocks of little elevation, 
of gneiss or flaky granite. Its vegetation con- 
sists of cactus, mimosas, and thorny shrubs : there 
are no vegetables but such as grow on the sea 
coast and. the most arid parts of the province of 
Cumana. Its surface is undulated, and towards 
the center is a platform elevated about two hun- 
dred feet above the sea. This island contains wild 
cattle, which are very savage ; probably because 
they are incessantly hunted. In order to kill 
them, the hunters gain a small eminence that 
commands a pond of water to which they resort 
to drink. There are also a great number of wild 
dogs : in the day-time they avoid a man ; they 
do not bark, but at night howl dismally. These 
animals feed on lizards and other reptiles. 

At the beginning of the French revolution, a 
planter of Guadaloupe went to settle in this 
island with a scare of negroes, to form a cotton 


plantation there ; but the Spanish government, 
who would not permit any one to fix himself there, 
drove him away. There are a great many parts 
of this little island very proper for cultivating 

Having sailed early on the morning of the 
third day after our arrival at this dreary spot, 
a vessel hove in sight and gave chace to us : in 
consequence of which we determined to return 
to Margarita, and it was with the greatest diffi- 
culty this object could be effected • Unwilling 
to run the risk of capture a second time, and 
by no means satisfied with the character of the 
master whose vessel I had hired, I formed the 
resolution of quitting her, and returning to Cu- 
inana, where I fortunately found a ship bound 
to Guadaloupe : we accordingly embarked and 
reached that island after a passage of four days. 



Manners and Customs.— Various Casts. — Conquistadores. — Creoles. 
—Idea of Nobility. — Refutation of De Paw's doctrines. — Mental 
Qualifications of the Creoles. — Reflections on Concubinage. — 
Parental Affection of the Creoles^-Account of the Guahiros.— 
Quadrupeds. — Traits of Manners. — Dress, &c. at Caraccas.— -Singular 
Fashion at Cumana. — Anecdote of an Indian Female. — Remarks on 
several Animals. — Paca. — Pecary. — Catalogue of Birds. — Insects. — 
Trees and Shrubs. — Anecdotes of the Boa Stridor. — Remarks.— 
Vegetable Worlp. — M. de la Barrel** Herbal. — Reflections. — 
Geological Attributes of Trinidad. — The Sugar Cane. — Introduction 
and Mode of cultivating the Otaheite Cane. — Fattening Qualities of 
the Cane. — Suggestions. — Proposed Improvements in Sugar Planta- 
tions.— The Cocoa Tree.— Nutritious Virtues of Cocoa.— The Tree 
described. — Epidendrum Vanilla. — Coffee.— Thoughts on its cul- 
tivation — Mode of planting Coffee. — And various Hints on the Sub- 
ject — Podocarpus. — A Reflection. — Geological Observations. 

Four casts compose the population of this 
country, like those of the other Spanish colonies: 
the whites, Indians, negroes, and people of colour 
or mixed race. These casts are subdivided 
into whites born in Europe, vulgarly called Ga- 
chupines; white Creoles, descendants of Euro- 
peans ; Mestizos, a mixture of whites and Indians ; 
Zamboes, a mixture of Indian and negroes ; and 
of mulattos, a mixture of whites and negroes. 

The Spaniards born in Europe consider them- 


selves as a superior class to other whites: to hare 
been bora in Europe is a kind of nobility in the 
Spanish colonies. Not that the whites born in the 
new world have pretensions to illustrious birth. 
In the government of Caraccas, as in the other 
Spanish colonies, almost all the whites pretend to 
be descended from the ancient Conquistadores; 
but whatever importance they, may attach to this 
origin, they are not the less considered by the 
other casts as inferior to the Europeans, for this 
plain reason, that the latter are appointed by the 
sovereign to nearly all the lucrative and impor- 
tant places. 

The Creoles of the French colonies were much 
better treated ; they not only enjoyed the pri- 
, vileges of th^- Europeans, but it was sufficient to 
be born of a white family to enjoy all the pri- 
vileges of persons born of noble families. 

The colonial institutions founded by the 
ancient Spanish government, were only calcu- 
lated for disseminating and maintaining distrust 
and hatred among the different casts which di- 
vided, rather than composed, the population of 
those countries. To divide for the purpose of 
governing, was the moral resource employed by 
the ancient Spanish government for retaining its 
colonies in the yoke. Thus, you looked in vain for 
that frank, generous, hospitable, and heroic cha- 
racter in the Spanish Creole, which so eminently 
distinguishes the Creoles of the British and French 
colonies from other modern nations. 


It is not tbat nature has refused to the Creoles 
of the Spanish colonies the gifts of the head and 
heart : they have, in general, a great deal of wit 
and penetration, and foreigners acknowledge their 
integrity in commercial affairs ; but among them- 
selves there reigns a spirit of suspicion, jealousy 
and etiquette, which banishes cordiality from 
their societies. They scarcely speak of any thing 
but law suits, while the colonies swarm with 
barristers and attornies. These two professions are 
almost the only career left open to the ambition of 
the Creole youth, who show too great a propen- 
sity for the subtleties of legal chicanery. A great 
number become priests or monks : a white family 
in which there are three or four sons, would think 
itself dishonoured, if one of them did not embrace 
an ecclesiastical life. Formerly a great many 
nuns were professed ; but from the irregularities 
which have occurred in convents, and the perver- 
sion of morals that has taken place in them, the 
monks, for some years past, have found great 
difficulty in recruiting them from young women 
of respectable families. 

The army has been opened for some years to 
tiie youth of the Spanish colonies. Charles III. 
established colonial regiments on the plan of those 
of France. Boldness and activity are. the charac- 
teristics of the Spanish as well as the British and 
French Creole. The institution of colonial regi- 
ments and of militia in the Spanish colonies, wasre- 
oeived therefore with transport : an epaulette and a 

fukjubices. 1T7 

presnble charm for all Creoles : the sight of those 
decorations make the heart palpitate in a young 
Creole of fourteen or fifteen years /of age ; he 
scarcely breathes, and sighs only fotf the moment 
when he may put them on ! 

The Spanish government, in forming colonial 
regiments, did not imitate the unjust and absurd 
regulation of our ancient monarchs, by which no 
man of colour could arrive at the rank of an officer ; 
it had the good sense not to insult and stigmatize 
collectively a numerous class, degraded in the 
British and French colonies, by prejudices and 
laws as unreasonable as they are unjust and im- 
politic In the Spanish colonies, for some years 
past, officers have been selected from among the 
people of colour. 

In no place, however, have the prejudices of 
birth and the word nobility, so much influence as 
in the Spanish colonies : three fourths of the white 
families call themselves noble. Almost all pre- 
tend to be descended from the ancient Conquis- 
tadores, or officers employed in the conquest of 
those regions. The province of Caraccas reckons 
among its inhabitants, six titled personages (Ti- 
talos de Gastilla,) three counts and three mar- 

The high notions which the Spanish Creoles have 
of the nobility of their extraction, does not pre- 
vent the family of a young Creole lady, rich and 
well educated, from thinking itself honoured in 
having an European Spaniard for a son-in-law, 

17 t 8 PRIVILEGE!. 

although unknown, pennyless, and frequently 
without education. This prejudice began to 
diminish some years past, and it changed into a 
commencement of aversion to Spain. Somo* 
Americanos yno Gachupines;* " we are Ameri- 
cans, and not Spaniards," the Creoles of Venezuela 
and other Spanish possessions will frequently ex- 
claim in a tone of ill-humoured haughtiness. 

There is not a single instance of a white Creole 
of the provinces of Venezuela, having been guilty 
of assassination : I have been assured that this 
crime has never been committed there, excepting 
by Andalusians, or the Zamboes. 
- The slaves in Venezuela, and the other Spanish 
possessions, enjoy a privilege unknown in the 
French and English colonies : it is that of oblig- 
ing their masters to liberate them, on their paying 
the sum of three hundred dollars. The slave 
treated with injustice or cruelty by his master, 
has a right t6 carry his complaint to the judge, 
who may order that he be sold to some other mas- 
ter of known humanity. 

No well informed man now believes in the 
ridiculous paradox of De Pauw, who asserts that 
all the American races are of a degenerated and 
inferior order; it would result from his ex- 
travagant system, that man and animals are as 

* They have given to Europe the nickname of Gachupina, and 
to Europeans that of Oaohuptnes : they also call Europeans Cha- 


Douch subjected to the influence of soil and climate, 
as the plants which vegetate there, and have no 
organs of loco-motion. The picture he gives of- 
the physical and mental imbecility of the Ameri- 
can species, is only a folse and coarse caricature.* 
In the temperate and cold climates of America, 
man has in no respect degenerated from his Euro- 
pean ancestor. In some parts of that continent, 
he is, perhaps, physically and morally superior. 

• A French writer, M. de Bercy. who has lately published his 
opinion on the comparative virtues of Europeans and Americans, 
observes, " Those whom we are accustomed to call barbarians and 
savages, are infinitely less entitled to these epithets than ourselves, 
notwithstanding the refinement and civilization we boast. Equally 
if not more exempted from prejudice, the inhabitants of America 
neither create factitious wants, or seek imaginary sources of hap- 
piness ; they do not encourage either spies or informers ; in that 
country, you are not shocked with the sight of magistrates, who 
ought to be the guardians of religion and morality, stimulating the 
vile and wicked to betray innocence, or hurry into crime. There, 
the oath of a perjured miscreant, is insufficient to consign a 
respectable character to the walls of a prison, much less ensure 
his ultimate condemnation. Their tranquillity is not disturbed by 
the incessant calls of the tax-gatherer, or their feelings mortified 
by the inequality of conditions. 

u More just than the Europeans, the people of America only 
arm to repel aggressions, and not to forge fetters for their fellow- 
men, to immolate by crusades and assassinations, like those of 
the fifteenth century, and the day of Saint Bartholomew, or in 
ju$l and nesestary wars, such as those which have so often desolat- 
ed Europe, either for the aggrandizement of some families and 
their factious adherents, or with a view of suppressing liberal 
principles, and imprescriptible right."- -Ed. 

x 2 


If ever the American can pat all his faculties 
in motion, I do not hesitate to predict that he will 
surpass the European. He is, in fact, a new man, 
and a new character, like the great country in 
which he is born. 

Partial or ignorant writers have said that the 
American Islands have never produced a man 
distinguished in literature and the fine arts ; but 
Martinico, for instance, did it not give birth to 
the late M. du Buc ? Could he have been an 
ordinary person, I allude to Blanchetiere Bel- 
levue, who, never having left that colony before, 
nor received a literary education, at the age of 
thirty-six, appeared like a meteor in the con- 
stituent assembly, where he was admired for 
his captivating eloquence, and the variety of his 
knowledge? The celebrated physician Lamure 
was a Creole. France, Spain, and Great Britain, 
reckon among their celebrated existing characters 
a great number of Creoles ; and yet those countries 
aren a manner but newly born. 

Those who have had the means of observing 
the youth from these regions, who are sent to 
Europe for their education, have had the justice 
to declare, that they are eminently adapted for 
all the sciences and arts ; and that, in general, 
they surpass the common run of Europeans in 
the justness and clearness of their ideas ; which is 
the principal indication of good taste, afcd the 
characteristic of true genius. It is true, the 
greater part of them neglect to cultivate their 

MORAL*. 181 

talents, when they return home : I well know 
that the beat of the climate inclines them U> indo- 
lence ; bat it must also be acknowledged that 

there is no institution in those colonies which sti- 
mulates men to improve their intellectual facul- 
ties. The wealthy live in pleasures and indolence, 
whilst those who wish to augment their fortunes, 
have their minds continually bent on that object. 
Add to these causes, the excessive tendency 
which is felt in this climate for sensual plea- 
sures ; the necessity of commanding the negroes, 
beings who are usually stupid and stubborn, the 
management of a gang of whom absorbs the 
attention of the most active and intelligent man ; 
it may then be conceived why, in the present 
state of things, it is so difficult to be occupied 
with success, in cultivating the arts and sciences, 
which, of all other occupations, require so much 
time, tranquillity, retirement and independence. 
In Europe the Americans are constantly ac- 
cused of possessing bad morals; but what is it 
that hypocrisy and prudery would have us under- 
stand by good and bad morals ? In my opinion 
good morals consist principally in a benevolent 
disposition, in the practice of that virtue, which, 
according to the expression of the divine author 
of the gospel, expiates a multitude of sins. To 
have good morals, or to be virtuous, which appear 
to me synonymous, is to perform our duties well, 
by. contributing as much as lies in our power to 
render our fellow creatures good and happy, A 


good father or mother, whose whole conduct 
tends to render their children happy ; a good ion, 
husband or neighbour, those who relieve the ca- 
lamities of others by all their means, are, I think. 
Virtuous beings, and entitled to the praise of pos- 
sessing good morals. 

But by good morals, a certain class of men 
understand exclusively the abstinence from sen- 
sual enjoyments ; or, at least, that they should 
be carefully concealed ; for according to those 
modern Pharisees, to sin in secret is not to sin* 
at all! 

Heaven forbid that I should declare myself an 
apologist for concubinage! And where is the iron- 
hearted man who can contemplate without agoniz- 
ing emotion, the hospitals in which deserted chil- 
dren 'swarm; those interesting and unfortunate 
victims, who should cry vengeance against the 
brutal insensibility of the parents who brought 
them into existence! But it must also -be con- 
fessed, to the honour of the prudent Europeans, 
that their libertinism is conducted with great 
mystery : among them, the grand point is not to 
be virtuous, but to conceal their vices, and above 
all things that it should not injure their fortune* 
Concubinage, it is true, is common in the colo- 
nies ; but what is such a fault, when compared 
with adultery ? That indeed is the vice, which 
when not sufficiently stigmatized by public 
opinion, is most degrading to a people. Where- 
ever it is frequent, none of those fine family affec- 



tions can exist, which are the sources of happiness 
and the social virtues. The cohabitation of a 
colonist with his housekeeper, is a kind of left- 
handed marriage ; and even when it happeni 
that he dissolves that connection, he preserves 
a great regard for his children and makes their 
happiness one of his chief objects. 

Adultery* is very rare among them, and there- 
fore the Creole wives are the best of mothers. 

I have no hesitation in asserting with all impar- 
tial persons who have inhabited the colonies, that 
the colonists far surpass the inhabitants of the most 
primitive countries of the old world, in conjugal 
and paternal affection, and consequently in filial 
piety, generosity, beneficence, courage in adver- 
sity, sincerity, good nature and hospitality : all 
these virtues generally disseminated among them, 

* The original legislators who created the morals of nations, 
did not omit to class aduhery among the most odious crimes : 
4i thou sha It not commit adultery," the divine legislator has expressly 
said in the decalogue. It is remarkable that he has not placed 
on the scale of prohibition the sexual sins among unmarried 
persons. In a less solemn injunction, incontinent) is, it is true, 
prohibited among them as a fault ; but the God of Israel signalize* 
and stigmatizes adultery as an excessively odious crime* It was 
held in great horror by the ancient nations, especially the Roman*, 
in the best times of the Republic. The elder Cato seeing young 
men going to visit courtezans, said to them, '^Courage, my friends ; 
go and sec the girls, but do not corrupt married women ! ,T In Eng. 
land a man is at liberty either to sell his wife, if guilty of a faux 
pas^ or be may sue for pecuniary damages in a court of justice; 
as if domestic happiness and personal honour were also legitimate 
objects of commercial speculation ! ! I 


have in the free and cordial disposition of these peo- 
ple, an antique tint, which, since the latter years of 
theageof Louis XlV.and the shameful times of the 
Regency, have quite vanished from our manners. 

If the Creole women are the best of mothers, 
their husbands are generally good fathers. We 
do not see among them such egotistical and heart- 
leas fathers and mothers, as are but too frequent- 
ly met with in Europe ; people who think they 
do enough for their children, in bequeathing 
them what they have not been able to dissipate 
in this world, and cannot carry with them to the 
other. Such monsters are unknown to the New 
World ; and therefore filial piety is there equal 
to paternal tenderness. 

The Creole father thinks, with reason, that he 
has a great duty to fulfil to his children; that his 
first care should be to place them in society, in a 
situation at least as fortunate as that in which he 
was placed by his own father : in a sphere as re- 
spectable as that in which he finds himself. There 
is nothing more admirable in social order, than 
the ardour with which a Creole father exercises 
his industry to increase his fortune. u I have a 
necessity to work, in order to augment my pro- 
perty ; I have a host of children, who did not 
ask me to bring them into the world :" an ex- 
pression trivial in appearance, but full of sense 
and affection, and which is -well placed in the 
mouth of an American father. In those coun- 
tries there are found even bachelor uncles who 


are animated with the same kind affection for 
their nephews. Thus the Creole enjoys the 
pleasures of life, as soon as he becomes capable 
of it, whilst a great number of Europeans, to use 
a vulgar expression, obtain bread only whettthey 
lose their teeth ; thanks to the hard-hearted 
stupidity of their parents ! 

Creoles generally consult only their taste, and 
seldom think of fortune, in forming a matri- 
monial union: it is common among them for 
a wealthy man to marry a woman without for- 
tune ; it is still more so, to see a rich heiress 
choose for her husband a man who is pennyless ; 
and it is also very common to see a young couple 
marry without any other property than mutual 
love. They are young, and can make a fortune, 
say their worthy parents. In those countries 
where labour and industry are not disgraceful, 
and where every active and industrious person is 
sure to succeed, it often happens that such persoM 
acquire independent fortunes. The Creoles think 
with reason, that in the choice of an union thai 
ought to last for life, on which depends the hap- , 
piness or misfortune of two individuals, and of 
thope whom they may bring into the world, it is 
the affections of the parties which, above all, 
should be consulted. Thus it happens very seldom 
that parents are seen to oppose the inclination 
of their children, provided there be nothing dis- 
honourable in their choice. It is due to the 
Creoles, to say they are particularly delicate on 

186 GUA1IIH08. 

this point, and the women quite as much as the 
-men. Nothing, for instance, would induce a 
young Creole lady to marry a man deemed a 
liar or a coward. 

I shall terminate this sketch of the manners 
of the different tribes and casts which inhabit the 
Caraccas, by a few remarks on the Guahiros, of 
whom I have already spoken, and who inhabit the 
mountains of Merida, and the banks of the Riode 
la Hache. The Spanish writers of this age, as well 
as the English and French who have copied them, 
speak of them as of a horde of ferocious robbers, 
who have resisted all the efforts made for civilizing 
them. The Spanish geographers rank them among 
the Indios bravos> a name which they give to all 
the tribes they have not been able to subject. 
The Spanish historians of the sixteenth century, 
relate that the Guahiros were* at that period, 
the friends of the Spanish inhabitants of Trux- 
illo ; that the missionaries had converted almost 
all of them to Christianity; that they shewed 
more capacity and taste than the other Indians for 
the arts of civilization, in which they had made 
a rapid progress in a few years. But the liber- 
tinism of the inhabitants of Truxillo caused 
bloody quarrels between them and the Guahiros. 
The former did not desist from debauching their 
wives. One day a gang of Spaniards had the 
audacity even to go and carry them off by force 
from one of their villages. The nation or the 
tribe of Guahiros rose unanimously to revenge 

«t/ADRCP£D8. 187 

this outrage: the warriors entered Truxillo, 
sword in hand, and made great slaughter among 
the inhabitants. They declared solemnly that 
they renounced the religion of men so corrupt, 
for that nothing was sacred to them. All the 
efforts made by the Spanish missionaries, since 
that period, to reconcile them to their nation, 
have proved fruitless ; and they have remained 
implacable enemies to the Spanish name. Every 
time in which Spain and Great Britain have been 
at war, the British government has profited of 
this antipathy, to excite the Guahiros to commit 
hostilities against the colonists of the province of 
Maracaybo, which is the cause of its depopula- 
tion. The Guahiros, however, are more civiliz- 
ed than the other Indians, their neighbours ; they 
cultivate their land, weave stuffs of cotton and 
wool for their clothing: they also rear herds 
of cattle, which form objects of a very consider- 
able trade between them and the English in 
Jamaica; they receive in payment spirituous 
liquors, fire-arms, and gun-powder. All their 
warriors are mounted. They are the true Caribs, 
possessing their tall stature, manly, haughty and 
independent character. 

Almost every species of European quadruped 
which has been transported into those countries 
have become wild, and multiplied excessively in 
the forests which abound in the necessary means 
for their subsistence. The horned cattle and the 
horse have not preserved the beauty of the Spa- 


nidi oxen and the blood horse, no doubt from the 
little care that is taken of them ; but the ass has 
become larger and more handsome* 

The horses of Buenos Ayres and Chili, however, 
rival those of the finest breeds in Europe. The 
goat is smaller than the European, but its flesh is 
better, and it yields an abundance of delicious 
milk. The sheep when taken care of, equals the 
finest species in Spain. At Margarita I have seen 
sheep and wethers whose wool was excellent, as 
is also the meat of the latter. Swine are not so 
large as in Europe, but are more prolific ; and 
their fresh meat is more delicate and easy of di- 
gestion than that of the European hog. 

It seems certain that the dog did not exist here 
previous to the arrival of Europeans, and it is a. 
remarkable circumstance, that those which in- 
habit the forests with the savages, who are exces- 
sively fond of them, have lost the faculty of bark- 
ing : they make a plaintive howling like wolves. 
I have had dogs of the breed of the shepherd's dog 
and of the mastiff, of which the sire and dam were 
littered in Europe, and yet tbey did not bark, but 
howled. It is true that I then lived almost en* 
tirely in the midst of forests. Yet the dogs in 
the towns and villages bark like the dogs in 
Europe. The shepherd's dog in this country 
becomes a very good sporting dog. 

In a country so vast as the Caraccas, one so re* 
cently civilized, and in which some parts present 
only the first rudiments of oivilisstioa, it must he 


expected that there exists a great difference be- 
tween the manner* and custom* of the inhabitants 
of towns and those of the country parts, and even 
those of the town of Caraocas, for instance, and 
of the inhabitants of the smaller towns and vil- 
lages. The luxury of European capitals is found 
in the town of Caraccas, and a refinement or 
exaggeration in their politeness, which partakes 
of the Spanish gravity, and the voluptuous man- 
ners of the Creoles. It may be said that their 
manners are a mixture of those of Paris, and the 
large towns in Italy ; the same taste for dress, 
sumptuous furniture, ceremonious visits, balls, 
shows, music, and even for painting, which is 
in its infancy* The inhabitants of Caraccas and 
the other towns, however, seldom dine with each 
other, and are very temperate; but they fre- 
quently give collations, in which meat is never 
introduced, but chocolate, coffee, tea, cakes, sweet- 
meats and Spanish wines* It is on such occasions 
that they display their porcelain and fine glass* 
The women, both old and young, appear at them 
m all their finery ; and the men seem to rival the 
ladies in the brilliancy of their dresses and gallan- 
try » This is peculiar to the town of Caraccas*. 

I remarked a very odd custom among the wo- 
men of Cumapa; they wear neither veils nor 
gloves : thus, with the most agreeable and expres- 
sive shapes and countenances, they have a copper 
colour. While at Cumana, I offered several pairs 
of gloves for herself and daughters, to a lady, to 

190 ANECD6TK. 

whom I was under some obligations. She accept- 
ed them, but mentioned that neither she nor her 
daughters could wear them; that it was not the 
custom in Cumana ; that any young lady seen 
with gloves and a veil, would be deemed a fantas- 
tical coquette, whom no one would marry, and 
that such fooleries were only fit for the belles and 
fops of Caraccas ! Whilst speaking of the Carac- 
cas fops, I should not omit to mention, that it is 
not unusual to see the portraits of their mistresses 
suspended from their necks by gold chains, in 
about the same manner^as a Parisian or London 
beau wears a glass to assist his sight, injured no 
doubt by the study of novels and late hours ! 

I cannot conclude the subject of Indian man- 
ners without relating an anecdote, which will 
give an idea of their modesty. It is known that 
those of the warm climates of South America, 
among whom civilization has not made any pro- 
gress, have no other dress than a small apron, or 
kind of bandage, to hide their nakedness. A 
lady of my acquaintance had contracted a kind- 
ness for a young Paria Indian woman, who was 
extremely handsome. We had given her the 
name of Grace: she was sixteen years old, and 
had lately been married to a young Indian of 
twenty-five, who was our sportsman. This lady 
took a pleasure in teaching her to sew and em- 
broider : we said to her one day, " Grace, you are 
extremely pretty, speak French well, and are 
always with us : you ought not, therefore, to live 


like the other native women, and we shall give 
you some clothes. Does not your husband wear 
trowsers and a shirt?" upon this she consented 
to be dressed. The lady lost no time in arranging 
her dress, a ceremony at which I had the honour 
of assisting. We put on a shift, petticoats, stock- 
ings, shoes, and a Madras handkerchief on her 
head. She looked quite enchanting, and saw her- 
self in the. looking-glass with great complacency. 
Suddenly her husband returned from shooting with 
three or four Indians, when the whole party burst 
into a loud fit of laughter at her, and began to joke 
about her new habiliments; Grace was quite abash- 
ed, blushed, wept, and ran to hide herself in the 
bed-chamber of the lady, where she stript herself of 
the clothes, went out of the window, and returned 
naked into the room ! A proof that when her hus- 
band saw her dressed for the first time, she felt 
a sensation somewhat similar to that which an 
European woman might experience who was sur- 
prised without her usual drapery. 

There remains but little to say on the quadru- 
peds of this country, which have been almost 
all described by naturalists, especially the late 
M • Sonnini, and latterly by M. de Humboldt. 
Buffon, who had endeavoured to couple the. fe- 
male cavia paca with the hare, was not well ac- 
quainted with its organization. The paca is 
called lapo in the Island of Trinidad and Spa- 
nish Guiana. I had remarked the singularity 
of the several parts of the male, and describ* 

198 •ojwwi. 

ed them m the Island of Trinidad, in 1797, 
not being aware that M. Sonnini had pnblkhed 
o bserv a tions oo the suae subject. He says, that 
the member of the paca is armed with two carti- 
laginous books, like that of the agovtt: I bare 
seen four of them, and his observation is only 
true m regard to the latter. The paca is a very 
handsome animal, and easily domesticated : it is 
also very cleanly. It is rather larger than a hare, 
has a thick body, and is generally fat, the flesh 
of it is good food. From its birth to the age of 
four or six months, the hair, naturally of a deep 
red, is spotted with white, but after six months 
those spots disappear. 

I am surprised that Sonnini, who lived four 
years in Guiana, and who aarerts he had often 
hunted there, did not remark that the paca is 
amphibious ; or, at least, that when pursued 
by the hunters he dives under water, where he 
remains several minutes without rising to the sur- 
face, which I have frequently witnessed ; its lungs 
also resemble those of the otter. M. Sonnini is 
wrong when he denies that there are several spe- 
cies of pacas, as the physician Laborde wrote to 
Bufibn : I have seen at Trinidad, and San Tome 
de Angostura, two of those animals perfectly re- 
sembling the paca, but much larger and more 
rugged : they were as large as pointer dogs, and 
had been caught, one in the Orinoco, and the 
other on the banks of the Guarapiche. Those 
animals have a strong inclination for frequenting 


water, and do not live long in a domestic state : 
they feed on fish, and the plants which grow 
on the borders of the sea and rivers. Their hair 
is of a deeper red than that of the paca cavia of 
Linnaeus, which feeds only on grain and roots* 

In this country there are found six species of 
opossum, vulgarly called manicous, though that 
to which naturalists have given this name, does 
not exist in South but North America. 

The opossums of Venezuela are, first, the di- 
delphis opossum; second, the crab opossum, or 
didelphis mursupialis ; third, the marmoset, di- 
delphis marina; fourth, the touan, didelphis 
brachiura; fifth, the cayopollin, didelphis dor- 
sigera, or philander of Surinam, didelphis coy - 
ollia ; sixth, the yapoch, or little otter of Guiana, 
of Buffon. 

The females of all these opossums, excepting 
that of the didelphis murina, or marmoset, have 
under the belly a membraneous pouch, where they 
deposit their young as soon as they are littered ; 
but I am very much surprised at not finding in 
Buffon and his editors, as well as other writers, 
any mention of an extraordinary circumstance 
in the organization of the opossum ; which is, that 
they have the member turned towards the tail. 

Trinidad and the provinces of Venezuela have the 
Agouti, known to all persons who have been at the Antilles. 
Two species of small deer, the Cervus Americanu*, and 
the mangrove stag, which lives in marshy places. They 
are as common in Trinidad as on the continent, but they 
do not exist in the Island of Tobago. 


A specie* of Porcupine, called Couandou by the Map- 
sitan Indians ; this is the Hystrix prehensilis of Linneus. 

Two species of lizards, known in the country by the 
names of Dragon and Guana. 

Armadillos, remarkable for their lamellated shell, Genus 

Two species of Ant-bears. 

Tie water-dog, or dog of the woods : A Didelphis ; 
The Didelphis Philander is common at Trinidad. 

The Tiger-cat, or Jaguar of New Spain : Ledru says 
that he never attacks man ; he is wrong, and confounds 
the Tiger-cat with the Jaguar. The same writer is also 
mistaken when he says that there are numerous herds of 
wild swine in the forests of Trinidad : the European hog has 
not become wild at Trinidad as in the Antilles, perhaps be- 
cause it has encountered the Pecary in the woods, vulgarly- 
called the wild American hog. These wage a cruel war 
against tb& former. The Pecary must certainly be a differ- 
ent species from swine, as they do not breed with (hem. 
From various experiments I have seen made, I can assert 
this fact without fear of contradiction. Externally the 
Pecary resembles the swine, but there exist differences in 
their organization as observed by many, naturalists. 

The external difference, most characteristic of the Pe- 
cary, is a gland on the dorsal spine, between the flesh 
and the skin: it is nearly an inch in diameter; above 
this gland there is in the skin a little hole of about two or 
three lines diameter, from which exudes a yellowish 
matter which has the smell of musk. Though this animal 
defends itself with a great deal of courage when attacked 
by the hunters, it is easily tamed ; it caresses a man, and 
follows him like a dog : it is very cleanly, and prefers 
elevated situations. 

The Mapurito ; when disturbed it emits an insupportable 


The Mvsk Rat, or Piloris of the Antilles ; Mm Pile- 
rides, Gm, • 

The Swalloweror Crab Rat; Ursuscancrivorus* Cuvie'r. 
The lazy Sloth ; Bradypus Didactylus. 

Amphibious Mammiferes. 

The Lamantin or Sea-cow ; Trichedu* manaius Austra- 
lia. Gm. ; the Saricorian Otter, and the Brazilian Tor- 

M. de Humboldt has lately published the natural his- 
tory of the monkiesofthis country, in his Observations on 
Zoology andComp as alive Anatomy. 

Birds of the Sea Coast. 

The brown Pelican ; Pelicanusfuscus. Gm. 

The lesser American Vulture, or the scald-necked Vul- 
ture ; it feeds on carrion, flies in flocks, which are gene- 
rally led by the King Vulture, Vultur Papa ; the little 
American Vulture has been improperly classed among sea 
fowls: it is true that they are sometimes found on the 
shore, in search of carrion; but far greater numbers of 
them are seen in the interior, and always in flocks. 

The King of the Vultures, Vultur Papa, is always at 
the head of flocks of birds commonly called Ravens, 
which pretended raven is the naked breasted vulture, 
the Uruba (Vultur aura) of South America. This bird 
feeds on carrion. It is remarkable, that when the Vultur 
Papa arrives at the head of his troop, near a carrion, all 
the vultures make a circle round the banquet, except two 
or three that place themselves as sentries on trees and 
trunks of trees. When the king has satisfied his hunger, 
he flies away, uttering a cry, and goes to place himself as 
a sentinel. Then all the troop, not excepting the sen- 

o 2 


tries, fall on tbe carrion, which they devour with great 
voracity ; after which they repose and sleep, until their 
chief gives them the signal for departure. 

There is in the more elevated situations of the province 
of Caraccas a bird which partakes of the eagle and the 
vulture, but it is larger than either. I believe this bird 
has never been described by any naturalist Its legs and 
wings are very long : it is handsome, but extremely 
rare. It has, as well as I can recollect, a tuft of red fea- 
thers on the head, and a stately gait, though somewhat 
heavy. Its plumage is red, bluish, green and yellow. I 
never saw more than two of them at Trinidad, one living, 
the other stuffed, they were brought from the mountains of 
Cumana. When I was in that province, in 1807, 1 offered 
in vain two hundred dollars to procure one of them alive, 
and four hundred dollars if a male and female were 
brought to me. The French Creoles settled io the country, 
have given it tbe name of King of the Vultures, to distin- 
guish it from the bird they call King of the Ravens, and 
which naturalists term King of the Vulture, or Vultur 

The first bird that attracted my attention at arriving on 
tbe shores of the Gulf of Paria, was the Pelican, the Pele- 
canus Fuscus of naturalists. It often rests its extended 
wings on the branches or trunks of trees which float on tbe 
coast, and when it is seen in that situation at a distance 
of half a league, and even sometimes at a league, an 
illusion in optics causes it to be mistaken fo*a boat under 
sail. I have at other times thought it was a sentry on the 
shore, when distant about a quarter of a league. 

Those birds feed on fish ; they pass a part of their time 
in flocks on rocks in the vicinity of the sea, and the re- 
mainder in the water. When they see fish they fly at 
an elevation of about twenty-five or thirty feet, the 
fish then approach the surface to feed on their excre- 


meats, when those voracious birds pounce on them like fal- 
cons on their prey. It is a wonderful thing to observe with 
what dexterity this bird, apparently so unwieldy, swallows 
a great number of fish; he fills a large bag, which forms 
a part of his throat, from whence he swallows them when 

The Lancet Bat or Vampire, genus Philostome, has been 
very well described by M. de St. Hilaire, member of the 
French Institute, and professor of zoology. Buffon, wishing 
to explain bow the Vampires suck blood, without causing 
to persons asleep that degree of pain which could awaken 
them, suspects that it is with the tongue, and not the teeth, 
that they make the incision ; and he is right I think 
Azzara, otherwise so exact, is incorrect, when be says, 
they wound in biting, and not in pricking. I have been 
pierced more than once by these animals whilst sleeping, 
without feeling the least pain, and their pricking perfectly 
Resembled that of a lancet, which has given rise to their 
name in Trinidad. I cannot do better than copy the 
description of this organ given by the learned zoologist 
St Hilaire. " Its tongue, whose breadth is to its lepgth as 
one is to six, is partly flat above and rounded below. In 
comparison by its length and narrowness, with the tongue 
of the ant-bear, it also resembles the latter in the faculty 
the phyllostomos have of thrusting it out entirely : its sur- 
face is slightly and regularly shagrined. There is seen quite 
near its extremity an organ of suction : it is a cavity of 
which the center is filled with a raised point, whose bor- 
ders are formed by eight protuberances of a less elevation 
than that of the center."* 

The frigate : Pelecanue aquilus. Gm. 

The common booby : Pelecanus aula. Gm. 

The diver, or castagneuse: Colymbus dominion. Gm. 

* It is not improbable that this singular organ may have sag- 
gested the ingenious instrument used for cupping. — Ed. 

198 BIRDS. 

The teal : Anas dominie a. Gm. 

The great water-ben of Cayenne : FuUca Cayenne*- 
sis. Gm. 

The egret : Ardea gazetta. Gm. 

The gold plover : Charadrius Pluvialis. . Gm. 

The flamingo : Phaenicopterus. 

A species of caprimulgus which lives in the caverns of 
rocks washed by the sea. 

Land Birds. 

The little red ara : Psittacus uracanga. Gm. 

The great ara. (Macaw.) 

The green and red parrot of Cayenne: Psittacus ochro- 
cephalus. Gm. 

The courow parrot : Psittacus cestivus. Gm. 

The collared parrot : Psittacus Alexander. Daud. 

The red banded parrot: Psittacus Dominicensis. 

The black headed maipouri parroquet : Psittacus me- 
lahocephalus. Gm. 
; The tufted green pecker. 

The variegated or Jamaica pecker : Picus Carolinus. 

The red-breasted couroucou : Trogon curucui. Gm. 

The humming bird of Tobago: Trochilus Tabaci. 

The green and gold humming bird : Trochilus viridis- 
simus. Gm. 

The brown and yellow blackbird : Turdus aurantius* 

The toucan, with yellow breast and black beak; another' 
toucan with yellow breast and beak. 
The screech owl: Strix flammea. Buffon. 
The white collared swallow : Hirundo Cayennmsi*. 


, Three species of wild pigeons, called also in the couqtrj 
Paouy. These birds live in pairs, in a state of inarrjage 
like the turtle doves: they only lay two eggs for each 
hatching. They also. fly in flocks, and are easily tamed. 

The katraca and the parraka are very common in those 
forests. The first is also as plentiful in the island of Tobago 
as on the continent, but there are none of them in Trinidad ; 
though frequently taken there tjiey have never bred. 

The ring dove. 

Three varieties of turtle doves. 

The white woodcock. 

Three varieties of wild ducks. 

The following insects were collected by the naturalists 
of the expedition commanded by Captain Baudin. 

The bull cassida: Cassida taurus. Fab. 

A variety of the rustic may-bug ; Melolontha rustica. 

An insect which seems to be the Longimanus of Fabri- 
cius ; reddish brown, humpy body, coppery and spiny, 
wings striped with six yellow transverse bands, thighs 
armed with one hook; cylindrical head, excepting at the 
base, where the eyes are placed. 

The spotted fisher : Horia metadata. Fab. 

The hemorrhoidal bee : Apis hemorrhoidals. Fa|>. 

The eordiform bee : Apis cordate. L. 

The dentated bee : Apis demtata* L. 

The variegated bug : LygcBus varfcqlor. Fab, 

Th$ tuberculated ant : Formica tuberculata. Encyc. 

The American wasp : Vespa Americana. Fab. 

The phosphoric fire-fly: Fulgora phosphorea. L. 

Turtles are rather abundant on the northern ccfurt; 
they 0omeon shore from April to September. 

La the forefits, Vijph have $wcji ,au uppo^pg aspect, - 
iter* 4re ,<6ua4 (he grqater p^r t of the {regs 4bftt ^/nbeUisb 

200 PLANTS. 

those of the Antilles, the borders of the Orinoco, and Terra 

Botanists also specify in the island of Trinidad, 

The Aspen rush : Cyperua haspan. Rottb. 

The hexandric commeline: CommeUna hcxandra. 

The yellow leaf ginseng : Panax chrysophylla. 

Viiex capitata. Vabl. 

Justicia eecunda. Vahl. 

Solatium kirtum. Vahl. 

Ceetrum latifolium. Vahl. 
* AUamanda cathartica. L. 

Macrocneum coccineum. Vahl. 

Frcelichia paniculata. Willd. 

Spathodea corymbosa. Vent. 

Robinia rubiginosa. Poiret. 

Lupinus villosus. Willd. 

Glycine picta. Willd. 

Begonia humilis. Dry. 

Tabemoemontana ondulata. Vahl. 

Tapogomea tomentosa. Aubl. 

Croton goeeypifolium* Vahl. 

Tragia corniculata. Vabl. 

Tontalea scan dens. Aubl. 

All the trees mentioned in the description of Tobago, 
are to be found in Trinidad. 

The above list contains the result of my obser- 
vations on those departments of the natural his- 
tory of Venezuela, and the Island of Trinidad. 
There are in the last named island many kinds of 
serpents, some of which are exceedingly large, 
but not dangerous to man : two species of vipers, 
but so scarce and timid, that I never heard of any 
accident from them: it is, however, said that 


the serpent called mapipi, is dangerous ; but it 
must be very rare ; for I who have been much in 
the woods, never saw it. 

There are three species of Boa : I saw one of 
fifteen to nineteen feet in length, and some have 
been seen on the continent of forty-five feet long. 
That which is most remarkable in this gigantic 
reptile, is the manner in which it devours the fowls 
and quadrupeds that fall, as it may be said, into, 
his sphere of enchantment. When a hen, pintada, 
paca, or fawn passes near the Boa, the bird or 
animal is immediately seized with convulsions ; 
it ruffles its feathers or bristles its hair, and stands 
still, without attempting to fly, until this slow 
and enormous reptile seizes it by the head. The 
serpent then emits a whitish and viscous slime 
on the body of its victim, and swallows it slow- 
ly at its leisure* If the prey be somewhat 
large, the monster doubles itself up, contracts its 
length, and becomes the thicker as it is full. It 
is then obliged to repose to digest the food, or 
rather because it is too full to be able to move or 
crawl. When in this state, a child who was not 
frightened at its hideous appearance, might kill 
it with a stick, or cut it in pieces with a sword, as 
I have seen done by the young Indians and ne- 
groes, who would on such occasions appear 
delighted at vanquishing the monster. 

It should be mentioned here, that Dominica 
is the only island of the Antilles (not including 


Trinidad and Tobago) in which the Boa is found, 
bat they are not so large as those of Trinidad and 
continent : it is also worthy of remark, that the 
quadrupeds, reptiles, and even the birds of the 
Island of Trinidad, are smaller than those which 
belong to the same species on the neighbouring 

Innumerable multitudes of toads spread over 
the country at night, which break its stillness with 
their croaking. Myriads of fire-flies appear soon 
after night-fall, and glitter in every direction. 
Those who write the natural history of this island 
ought not to forget the industry of the parasol ant, 
or omit describing the bold habits of its magnifi- 
cent birds, and their nests suspended from the 
branches of trees ; which probably gave to the 
American savage the idea of hammocks ; a wide 
field will also be opened for describing the ele- 
gant and endless variety of its butterflies. 

All those insects and reptiles, some disgusting, 
others brilliant, concur, each according to its 
organization, in the great designs of nature. All 
aid in purifying the atmosphere by absorbing the 
hydrogen and azotic gas, of which the Super- 
abundance would injure the health of theaobter 
species. The whole coast of Venezuela shines 
with the white, blue, dfcarlet, purple and orange 
enamels of the most brilliant shells. They fere 
the same species I have observed in the islands of 
Tobago and Trinidad. 


Vegetable World* 
The kind of varied life which my destiny oblig- 
ed me to lead in the colonies, the civil wars and 
frequent sea voyages, required by the nature of 
my business, added to my decided taste for 
travelling, long and painful sickness, caused more 
by moral affections and bodily fatigue, than by 
the climate ; the want of books and communi- 
cations with learned men, in a country where 
they are very scarce, and where there are no 
occupations but the accumulation of wealth, 
and the enjoyment of physical pleasures : all these 
causes united, have prevented me from devoting 
myself to the study of botany, as much as my in- 
clination would lead me. I led> however, rather 
a Sedentary life during the four last years of my 
residence in the Island of Trinidad, in which I 
was principally occupied with agriculture. From 
the commencement of the revolution, I have been 
connected with two botanists of the first eminence: 
M. de la Barrere, a distinguished officer of engi- 
neers, who had gone to settle m Trinidad, whilst 
it belonged to Spain, and who still resides ther* ; 
and the worthy and learned Mr. Alexander An- 
derson, founder of the magnificent botanical gar- 
den in the Island of Saint Vincent, the richest 
garden of America and Asria ; where he has assem- 
bled all the plants of the equinoxial regions*, and 
tfven those of the regions vulgarly termed tenl- 
perate ; such as tea, See. With these estimable 
men I made many excursions in the forests 


of Trinidad, occupying myself with opening com- 
munications and paths, studying the rocks and 
physical geography of the country, whilst they 

M. de la Barrere, in 1793, and after a year's 
residence in Trinidad, had discovered two hun- 
dred and forty plants that do not exist in the 
Antilles, which he visited, and of which he has 
formed three new species, according to the Genera 
Pfantarum of our celebrated De Jussieu. It is a 
great loss to botany that other occupations have 
withheld him from that science, which he would 
have enriched with numerous discoveries, if he 
had been able to attend to it alone. M. de la 
Barrere has, however, formed a magnificent her- 
bal of the Antilles and the Island of Trinidad, in 
duplicate. Why does he not send it to Europe? M. 
de Jussieu, and other learned men, who have not 
forgotten him, and who preserve their old attach- 
ment for him, request, through me, that he will 
send his duplicates to the learned and generous 
Mecaenas of natural history, Sir Joseph Banks ; 
it will be as usefully placed for the sciences with 
him, as if it were in the Museum of the Garden 
of Plants pt Paris. The study of the sciences, 
and the learned societies, have this noble advan- 
tage over other human institutions, that instead 
of the misfortunes of War diminishing the atten- 
tion and respect which the truly learned of dif- 
ferent nations entertain for each other, they even 
inspire those sentiments with more energy and 


vivacity, by the mutual desire and necessity for 
communicating their ideas, projects and disco- 
veries to each other, in order to accelerate the 
progress of scientific researches. 

The Island of Trinidad presents, in some de- 
gree, to the geologist and botanist an abridg- 
ment of Guiana, and the countries comprised 
in the various provinces of Venezuela ; such as 
those situated on one side between a part 
of the Cordilleras, of the Andes, and other 
ranges of mountains which proceed from them, 
and on the sea coast, between the mouth of the 
river Amazons and that of the Madalena. Plu- 
nder, Jaquin, Margraf, Aublet, Sonnini, and other 
naturalists have given descriptions of the animals 
and vegetables of this region ; and the most learn- 
ed of modern travellers, Baron de Humboldt, in 
the relation of his travels, where all is novel, 
where he has gone through the whole circle of 
the sciences, from astronomy down to zoophites, 
has, during almost five years in which he travel- 
led over different countries of America, extracted 
more of the secrets of nature, and made more 
discoveries, I believe, than all the men of sci- 
ence who had visited those regions before him. 
It is principally to these works I refer those 
who are desirous of becoming more minutely 
acquainted with the natural history of the 
temperate and equatorial climates of America, 
and particularly of the vegetable world. They 
will see, that whilst this extraordinary man cal- 


culated the movements of the heavenly bodies, 
observed the physical structure of the globe, 
noted meteorological observations, dissected birds, 
quadrupeds, reptiles, figh, studying the remains 
of Mexican and Peruvian antiquities, languages 
unknown to the ancient world, the history 
and manners of the indigenous natives, and 
made a statistical work on those countries, which 
alone would suffice for acquiring the highest re- 
putation, they will see, that those prodigious 
labours which he has executed in such a short 
space of time, and as if he had merely flown 
over the surface of the New World, yet left suffi- 
cient time to this Leibnitz of his day, to discover 
and describe about two thousand two hundred new 
plants !* And it is a most honourable circumstance 
for the French language, that this illustrious fo- 
reigner has adopted it in publishing his works. 

My affairs in the colonies not having permitted 
me to attend to vegetables, excepting in their 
connexions with agriculture, arts and commerce, 
I shall limit myself to speaking of those of which 
the cultivation is an object of industry with the 
inhabitants of Trinidad, and the otherp rovinces 
of Venezuela. It is natural, in the first place, to 
speajk of the sugar cane, which is the principal 
source of colonial wealth. 

The aboriginal inhabitants did not cultivate it 

* He formed a herbal, during his travels, of six thousand 


when Columbus discovered the New World. It 
even seems to be proved that it did not exist 
there at that period. The Mexicans had no 
knowledge of sugar; but they made a syrup 
from the juice of the agave, a species of pine- 
apple, also from that of the maize stalk, and of 
the honey of bees. Yet the culture of the sugar 
cane has been practised from. the most remote 
antiquity in the East Indies and China. From 
Africa, it passed into Spain, and from the Ca- 
nary Islands to San Domingo, from whence it 
was transplanted to the other colonies. Accord- 
ing to Oviedo Valdes, the first sugar plantation 
was established at San Domingo in 1520, and in 
1535, there were already thirty of them there. 
The Canary sugar cane was still exclusively culti- 
vated in the colonies in 1791, under the name of 
the Creole cane. It was to the discovery of the 
Islands of Otaheite, in 1759, by the celebrated 
Bougainville, that we owe the cane now culti- 
vated in the colonies, and to which has been 
given the name of Otaheite cane. This navi- 
gator transported it to the Isle of France, in re- 
turning from his voyage round the world: it 
was cultivated in the botanical garden of that 
island, from whence it was brought, in 1788, to 
that of Cayenne, \>y Mr. Martin, a French bo- 
tanist, who also sent some of it to Martinico, 
where it was kept as an object of curiosity in the 
public garden, at the town of St. Pierre, and in 
that of a French officer, M. Passerat de la Cha- 


pelle. These are facts which have come to my par* 
ticular knowledge, because I arrived at Martinico 
at the end of the year 1791. The following is a 
note supplied to me by a person whose testi- 
mony ia unexceptionable.* 

" With respect to the Otaheite canes," (says 
M. du Buc,) " In. 1790, there was a tuft or two 
of them in the Government Gardens at St. 
Pierre : I believe the plant had come from the 
botanical garden of Cayenne. A M. de la Cha- 
pelle, planter, of Fort Royal, was the first who 
cultivated it in his grounds, and he praised it 
excessively; but as his experiments were on a 
very small scale, and he was known to be in the 
habit of exaggerating, his assertions were not 
much credited. However, in the month of June, 
1790, when M. de Damas, then at the head of the 
colonists, went to pacify the town of St. Pierre, 
after the massacre of the men of colour which 
took place on the day of Corpus Christi, many 
of the planters took specimens of this plant from 
the government garden, and planted it in their 
own grounds. In the years 1791 and 1792, it 
increased exceedingly. In 1793, the .disturb- 
ances and emigration of the planters suspended 
its progress, but in 1794, it became the more 
rapid, as each having to plant his plantation anew 

* M. L. A. Du Bdc, deputy from Martinico to the Emperor 
Napoleon, and son of the celebrated M. Du Buc, formerly 
intendant of the colonies. 


made use of these canes, the superiority of which 
was confirmed, and they procured it from those 
who had already a few beds of it. From this 
moment it was an object of trade : a mule's load 
of it being sold for two and three dollars. The 
propagation was so rapid, that in 1798, it might 
be said, there were none of the old canes remain- 
9 ing in the island. 

" I need not inform you how we manage to 
accelerate the increase of the Otaheite canes : with 
a few loads, I planted the tenth of a square bed ; 
this was cut in four or five months, and each cut- 
ting gave as much cane as would plant five or six 
beds. This second nursery at the end of four or 
five months more, multiplied six fold in cutting, 
without prejudice to the first, which still produced : 
thus you will perceive that three or four squares 
would be soon planted, and continue so to an 
indefinite extent." 

For two years past there have been no other 
canes cultivated in the colonies than those I have 
described, because they are longer, thicker, and 
give more juice than the Creole cane. They have 
a great advantage over the latter, which is, that 
they may be cut in ten months after they have 
been planted. The planters in easy circumstances, 
however, cut them only every fourteen months, 
and they then give a third more produce than 
the Creole cane of the same age. 

Various persons, and Depons among others, 
have stated that the above cane degenerates in 



America ; that the sugar extracted from it is not 
of such a good quality as that of the Creole cane; 
that it liquefies partially on the voyage, &c. These 
are errors now acknowledged by all the colonists. 
There are in the colonies, as f very where else, a 
set of plodding men, who oppose useful disco- 
veries with all 'the weight of their prejudices, 
vanity and ignorance : these men refused to culti- 
vate the Otaheite canes for four or five years ; but 
at present, when they see them yield a third 
more sugar than the Creole cane, their interest 
has forced them into its cultivation. It has 
also the advantage of the refuse giving more fuel, 
of giving very considerable produce during ten 
years, in grounds of ordinary fertility, and for 
fifteen or sixteen years in a fertile soil ; whilst it 
is necessary to replant the Creole cane every two 
years in middling ground, and every four or five 
years in the best land : this is an inestimable ad- 
vantage in a country where labour is so dear. 

But what renders this vegetable still more 
precious, is the flexibility of its organization ; or 
in other words, the property it has of accommo- 
dating itself to various temperatures, much more 
than the Creole cane. It is known that the latter 
scarcely gives any sugar, and that it is necessary 
to. replant it every year, if it be required to de- 
rive any produce from it in countries where Reau- 
mur's thermometer descends, for some months 
only, below 15°. It isnotso with the Otaheite cane. 
In Louisiana the cultivation of the sugar-cane 


had been almost abandoned, previous to the 
French revolution, because the Creole cane gave 
scarcely any sugar. The emigrants from San 
Domingo introduced that of the South Sea island, 
and although it does not produce as much there as 
in the Antilles, still its cultivation is much more 
profitable than that of the Creole cane. Now 
the climate of Louisiana is not much warmer than 
that of Provence, Lower Languedoc, and a part 
of Spain ; it is not so hot as in the kingdom of 
Naples : it is certainly more humid, and the sugar 
cane requires moisture ; but is it not possible, in 
the south of Europe, to supply the want of at- 
mospheric humidity by irrigations? These are, 
I may venture to say, reflections worthy of the 
attention of government. It has been proved 
that the sugar cane of Otaheite may be advan- 
tageously cultivated in the southern countries of 
Europe which I have mentioned, in every part 
where the grounds may be watered in dry seasons. 
I ought not to omit mentioning, that the sugar of 
Louisiana is not inferior to that of the Antilles : 
there is no other used in the United States, where 
it does not cost, when refined, more than seven- 
pence halfpenny per pound. 

In Lower Louisiana it is reckoned that an acre 
of land gives in an average one thousand pounds 
of sugar yearly, two hundred and fifty pounds, of 
cotton, two hundred pounds of tobacco, thirty 
bushels of maize, or twenty bushels of wheat* It 
is not surprising that such an enormous difference 

p 2 

212 M. Dl COS8IGNY. 

in the value of the crops has made the planters 
in Louisiana prefer the cultivation of sugar to all 
other produce, in that part of their province 
which is fit for it. It is the same in Mexico and 
various parts of Venezuela, where previous to the 
French Revolution this culture was unknown. 
It is to the ruin of San Domingo, and the misfor- 
tunes of our other colonies that it has been intro- 
duced there, and even that of coffee, which before 
the above event had been grown only for domes- 
tic use and in very few places. Thus, in a few 
years, and when peace is re-established, sugar, the 
most agreeable and the most wholsome* of vege- 
table productions, will also become one of those 
which may be procured on cheaper terms. 

Mr. de Cossigny, a landed proprietor in the 
Isle of France, presented in 1799, to the Agricul- 
tural Society of Paris, a memorial, and has since 
presented others, on the means to be employed for 
naturalizing in the south of France, the sugar 

• Those who have been in the colonies know that the negroes 
belonging to sugar plantations, grow fat daring the time of mak- 
ing the sugar, although they then work harder and sleep less than 
in any other time of the year. It is because they eat a great 
deal of sugar, and drink plenty of syrup ; they are seen to dip 
their salt fish, meat, and all their food in the hot syrup. The 
mules and other animals employed on those sugar plantations also 
fatten in the sugar harvest, for the skimmings of the sugar pans are 
given to them ; and yet they are made to work hard at that time ; 
whereas during the remainder of the year they are allowed to 
graze at liberty m the savannas. 


rane, indigo, and cotton. If the results have not 
corresponded with the expectations of this learned 
colonist, so zealous for the interests of his country, 
it is, I believe, because he was not furnished with 
the means of making his experiments on a scale 
sufficiently extensive. Besides, at that period 
the Otaheite cane was scarcely known in France. 
I believe it is even still unknown in Europe, that 
it yields a third more of sugar than the Creole 
cane, and that it produces abundantly in places 
and climates where the Creole cane scarcely 
yields any thing. Chance having enabled me to 
discover in 1803, at Trinidad, an Otaheite cane 
on a mountain elevated nearly eighteen hun- 
dred feet above the level of the sea, I cut it in 
pieces and took it home : it was rather more 
than twelve feet long and two inches in diameter ; 
that is to say, it was as well grown as those that 
are produced in the warmest parts of the island ; 
although it had sprung up, I know not how, in 
the middle of mountain weeds. I pressed the 
juice from it, and it gave me nine ounces of very 
good raw sugar. I felt convinced, on that 
occasion, the Creole canes would scarcely grow 
in this place, or that they would be very stunt- 
ed, and contain either very little, or very bad 
sugar ; for it is well known in the colonies that 
this plant does not thrive in cool situations, ele- 
vated more than sixteen hundred feet above the 
sea, where the thermometer seldom rises above 
17% and is generally at 14° or 15° of Reamur. 


Some days afterwards I returned to the same 
mountain, and planted eight Creole and as many 
South Sea canes ; thirteen months afterwards I 
went to cut them ; three of the Creole canes had 
but seven joints, the others only four or five ; they 
had scarcely eight or nine lines of diameter in 
their thickest joints. I had their juice boiled, and 
by dint of ashes and lime, I extracted four ounces 
of raw sugar from them, of the most inferior 
quality. The Otaheite canes yielded as much 
and as good sugar as those which grew in the 
warmest districts of the island. I kept my experi- 
ment secret, as well as some others which I made 
on tropical productions, as it was my intention 
not to make them public until my return to 
France. I then concluded that the South Sea cane 
is endowed like the Creoles with great flexibility, 
and that it may be advantageously cultivated in 
climates less hot than those situated between the 

It was then also that. I conceived the idea of 
communicating to various persons in the United 
States and France, the scheme of naturalizing 
in the southern countries of Europe the pro- 
ductions of the tropics, by transporting them, at 
first to the Azores, or the Canary Islands, where 
the climate is in the mean between that of the 
torrid zone and the south of France, Italy and a 
part of Spain. I was desirous that they should be 
cultivated in those intermediate regions with care 
during three or four years, and that from thence 


they might be transplanted into Provence. I am 
convinced that by this means the Otaheite cane 
may be naturalized with us, and also other pro- 
ductions of the equinoctial regions ; which for our 
agriculture and commerce would be an advantage 
on which it is useless for me to dilate, while it 
must greatly diminish the profits of our rivals. 

One day when the late Count de Bougainville was 
walking about the Garden of Plants at Paris, in 
1807, he saw the Otaheite canes in the hot-houses : 
"thesearesome of my breed," said he to M. Thouin, 
the professor ; " pray give me one to plant in my 
garden." The cane was accordingly sent, but his 
gardener forgot to place it in a hot-house during 
the winter, nor did the Count even tell him 
what plant it was. The gardener supposed it to 
be some curious reed, and merely stuck it in a heap 
of manure by the side of a wall. The Count walk- 
ing in his garden in the beginning of the summer 
of 1808, recognized his Otaheite cane very healthy 
and large. Convinced by this experiment that it 
can endure the winter, even in the climate of 
Paris, he had several joints of it cut and planted, 
all of which produced very fine tufts of canes. 

I shall not enter on the details of the cultivation 
of this important plant, or on the process of ex- 
tracting the sugar : a great many treatises have 
been written on the subject. The best is, un* 
doubtedly, that of M. Duthrone, a physician and 
planter of St. Domingo : he was, I believe, the 
first who had sugar pans made of copper, broader 


and shallower than the iron caldrons which are 
chiefly used in the sugar plantations: by their 
width and shallowness, they save both fuel and 
time, because the syrup boils and changes sooner 
into sugar in those boilers than in the former ones 
which are much deeper. In them the syrup is 
stirred and skimmed more easily, which diminishes 
the labour of the refiner. It is also remarked 
that the sugar made in those pans has a lighter 
and more agreeable colour, than that which has 
been boiled in iron. When an iron caldron 
breaks, or becomes perforated, it is necessary to 
destroy the masonry of the furnace to replace it 
with another, which wastes much .time, and some- 
times spoils several quintals of syrup ; but when 
a copper caldron meets this accident, there is no 
further trouble than in soldering a patch on it, 
which can be done in half an hour. These and 
many other reasons might be cited to induce the 
Spanish cultivators to abandon the use of iron 
caldrons as the English planters have both at 
Jamaica and in almost all their other colonies. 

There might be many other improvements made 
in the cultivation and boiling of sugar. The cogs 
of the mill wheels, for instance, which are now used 
frequently break, and it is necessary to unhang 
them, in order to put new ones in ; causing a con- 
siderable loss of time and money. In 1803, 1 pro- 
posed to Mr. Robley, of Tobago, to substitute iron 
ones welded into a rim of the same metal ; if the 
cog should be broken, it would be sufficient to 


take off the rim, and introduce a new one ; which 
might be the work of half an hour, or of an 
hour at the utmost. When I left my plantation 
in Trinidad, I intended to have made rims with 
cogs on this plan. 

The tree which produces cocoa, (theobroma 
cacao), is the principal object of cultivation in 
those of the Spanish colonies which are situated 
in hot climates, and particularly in the provinces of 
Venezuela, where it is of a superior quality. " The 
extreme fertility of the soil," says M. de Hum- 
boldt, " and the insalubrity of the air, are in 
Southern America and Asia, two inseparable cir- 
cumstances. It is observed that the more the 
agriculture of a country increases, the more the 
forests diminish ; and that the more the soil and 
climate become dry, the less the plantations of 
cocoa succeed." The observation of M. de Hum- 
boldt is strictly true : still it must be said, that there 
are districts in the provinces of Venezuela, and the 
island of Trinidad, which though not unhealthy, 
produce very good crops of cocoa. The vallies 
of Arragoa in the province of Caraccas, those 
of Cariaco, Carupano, of Rio Caribe, and the 
banks of the river Caroni in Spanish Guiana, 
produce excellent cocoa in abundance : and those 
countries are not unwholesome, for their inhabi- 
tants enjoy good health, and are subject to fewer 
diseases than aged persons in Europe, or the in- 
habitants of Barbadoes, Antigua, Sainte Croix, 


and some of the Caribbean islands which have 
no rivers, and are subject to much drought. In 
the continental regions I am describing, and which 
are watered by many streams, a great number of 
navigable rivers, and a multitude of rivulets which 
would be termed rivers in France, the atmosphere 
is continually refreshed by the evaporation of 
those running waters, which at the same time that 
they invigorate and fertilize vegetation, preserve 
the inhabitants from certain disorders, to which 
those residing in countries where the climate is too 
hot and dry for the European race are subject. 
The inhabitants of Barbadoes, Tobago, and other 
islands, where, in some years there is scarcely any 
rain, are subject to a disease in the alimentary 
canal, which finishes by paralizing that organ. 
The patient loses the faculty of digestion ; and 
sees himself consuming away without a remedy. 
This disease is incurable when it has made some 
progress, and the only mode of curing it at its 
commencement, is to send the patient to a cold 
climate. The English physicians attribute this 
malady to the extreme dryness and heat of the 
climate. Perhaps they might also add to the 
spices, brandied wines, the rum and other spiritu- 
ous liquors, which their countrymen often use to 
such an inordinate excess. The unhealthy parts 
of the new world are, as every where else, marshy 
places, and where water has not a sufficiently rapid 
.course: such countries are, it is true, generally 


very fertile ; but there are also in those some 
places which are, at the same time, well watered, 
fertile, and very healthy. 

The cocoa tree is the favourite object of agri- 
culture in the ci-devant Spanish colonies. Their 
neighbours, the English and French colonists, 
assert that they prefer the cultivation of this plant 
to that of all others, because it requires scarcely 
any labour, and that an agreeable nap may be 
taken under its shade. This consideration may 
have its weight with many, in the preference 
which the Spanish colonists give in growing the 
cocoa tree. 

Cocoa was unknown to the inhabitants of the 
old world, until the discovery of the new. It 
was the favourite nourishment of the indige- 
nous inhabitants : the coeoa bean served for small 
money in Mexico, as eggs and cocoa nuts are now 
passed in Caraccas and Cumana. At first, and 
after the conquest, the. taste for cocoa or chocolate 
passed from America to Spain, where the opulent 
would sooner do withput bread than chocolate. 
We owe the introduction of this luxury, as agree- 
able as it is wholesome, to the monks, who were 
great admirers of good things ; it was they who 
first brought it into use in France. Could it have 
been that Linneeus coincided in opinion with 
them, when he gave it the religious name of 
Theobroma, divine beverage ? 

The cocoa tree bears fruit in four years after it 
has been planted, the following year still more, 

120 COFFEE. 

and increases in fecundity until the ninth or 
tenth year, when it is in full bearing. Its fruit 
resembles somewhat the pine tops ; but it never 
grows higher than twelve or fifteen feet. It is 
useless for me to describe its botanical character-* 
istics, which are well known to all persons conver- 
sant in that science. Those who wish to be 
informed as to the mode of cultivating it, can 
satisfy their curiosity by reference to the second 
volume of M . Depons' Travels in the Eastern 
Part of Terra Firma. 

It is impossible to speak of cocoa without think- 
ing of vanilla, the epindendrum vanilla, of which 
the odoriferous fruit is used for giving the former a 
delicious perfume. This parasitical plant is culti- 
vated in the hot countries of Mexico ; but it is 
collected wild in the provinces of Venezuela and 
Trinidad, where it would produce considerable 
gain to the inhabitants, if they gave themselves 
the trouble of cultivating it. M. de Humboldt 
has very properly ridiculed the opinion of certain 
grave and ignorant persons, who pretend that 
vanilla injures the nerves. It is with this opinion 
as with that of certain parents, who tell their ohil- 
' dren that they should not eat too much sugar, 
because it spoils the teeth! It is known that 
vanilla is a stimulant equally wholesome and 

Previous to the French revolution, coffee was 
not cultivated in the Spanish colonies as an article 
of commerce. The American and European 


Spaniards scarcely ever used that article, which is 
so deservedly esteemed among us : when they 
are asked a reason for it, they reply gravely, 
that it heats the blood : the British and French 
colonists assert that it is from indolence the Span- 
ish colonists do not grow the coffee tree ; and cer- 
tainly there is no colonial agriculture that requires 
so much pains, and such assiduous care from the 
beginning to the end of the year, as this plant ; 
which would never have agreed with the slothful 
habits of the Spanish colonists, as they were thirty 
years ago. However, the edict of free trade 
issued by Charles III. at Madrid, in 1778, deve- 
loped the moral faculties of the colonial Spaniards 
in all their activity and energy, which until then 
had laid dormant. It is from that period we may 
date the efforts they havd made for adopting the 
agriculture of the British, French, and Dutch 
colonies. Venezuela owes to Don Bartholomeo 
Blandin the first example of this branch of culti- 
vation, with which the perseverance of a French- 
man enriched Martinico and other parts of 
America, at the commencement of the last cen- 
tury. In 1784, Blandin devoted his capital and 
plantations at Chacao, situated at a league from 
the town of Caraccas, to the cultivation of coffee. 
The soil on which he formed his plantations is not 
well adapted for this plant : however, by dint of 
attention and industry he succeeded in forcing 
nature to a certain degree. A priest of the Ora- 
tory, named Sojo, established coffee plantations in 


the neighbourhood of those of M. Bland in. The 
ruin of St. Domingo, consummated by the insur- 
rection which topk place in 1790, leaving a great 
void in the markets of the old world, was the 
principal cause that induced the colonists of 
Venezuela to apply themselves to its cultivation; 
and from 1793 until the peace of Amiens, there 
have been a great number of large plantations of 
coffee formed in various parts of Venezuela, as 
also in the islands of Porto Rico and Jamaica. 
It was the French who emigrated from St. Do- 
mingo that introduced the culture of it into those 

This plant cannot be advantageously cultivated 
in countries situated beyond twenty-five degrees 
of latitude ; as the climate of the. Bermudas, 
though in 32° 35' is to6 cold for it during the 
winter. For the same reason, it is wrong to 
persist in cultivating it in those parts of Vene- 
zuela, which by their elevation above the sea, have 
a temperature of 12° or 10° of Reaumur's thermo- 
meter: that which agrees best with the coffee 
tree, seldom rises above 20°, and never descends 
below 10°. Under this degree of heat, it will 
cease to produce ; which is the reason why it is 
useless to think of introducing it even into the 
warmest parts of Europe. This plant thrives 
best in a mild and rather moist temperature: the 
excessive heat of the sun does not agree with it, 
and it flourishes in the vicinity of forests and 
rivulets. In St. Domingo, M artinico and Guada- 


loupe, it is only cultivated on the hills; but ex- 
perience has proved in Venezuela, Trinidad, 
Demerara, Berbice and Essequibo, that it thrives 
equally well in the plains, when placed in a pro- 
per soil. 

Cold and hard argillaceous earths, and also the 
sandy clay that lies on a bed of marl, are not fit 
for coffee plantations ; for at the end of twelve 
or fifteen years the tree would no longer produce, 
and would perish on such soils. It is best placed 
in black deep arable ground which retains the 
humidity well. If there be a quantity of small 
stones in such ground, the tree becomes still more 
productive. In Venezuela, the proper mode of 
cultivating coffee was not well known in 1807: 
the above is the manner adopted by the most in- 
telligent French planters. 

The plantations of coffee trees succeeded only in 
places where the woods have been felled: the 
grounds called savannas in those countries (natural 
meadows), or those which have been planted with 
sugar, cotton, or indigo, are not fit for the coffee 
tree, as they have been too much dried by the sun. 

Formerly coffee trees were planted too closely in 
the French colonies at the distance of only four 
feet, so that their branches intermingled and 
injured eacfh other. The influence of light and 
air on vegetation was not well understood then. 
Mr. Bruley, of St. Domingo, has written a sen- 
sible treatise on their cultivation, of which I shall 
give an extract in this place. 


" To procure the coffee plant, they went 
under the whole trees, and dug up the young 
plants produced by the fall of the ripe fruit, which 
were transported from one plantation to another : 
after having cut off a part of their roots, they 
were placed in holes" dug purposely for them. 
This method is defective; a great part of the* 
plants obtained in such a manner, independently of 
the mal-conformation that might have occurred in 
them, under the old coffee tree, had, besides, the 
defect of never having been exposed to the sun's 
rays ; therefore the planter had not a certainty 
of success in their growth. It was frequently 
found that planters had to renew their planta- 
tions for several successive years, before they 
became regular. 

" I avoided this inconvenience by a practice 
which many planters have adopted since. I sowed 
at a distance of six inches, in regular rows, and in 
ground prepared for that purpose, certain grains 
of coffee.: this became a nursery, which I watered 
and took great care of ; and from thence I took 
the young coffee plants necessary for making 
my plantations. When it was necessary to remove 
them from the nursery, care was taken to moisten 
the earth well, and then with a single cut of the 
spade, the youpg coffee tree was raised, with 
the mass of clay that surrounded its roots. 

" It may be easily imagined that the coffee 
plants thus transplanted from the nursery to the 
holes destined to receive them, alter- 


ation or hindrance in their vegetation, and con- 
sequently the plantations were regular. Very 
few plants required to be replaced; none were 
defective in their structure' ; while all were ac- 
customed to a scorching sun: I mitigated its 
effects on the earth in which those young trees 
were planted, by placing heaps of pebbles close 
to them, which preserved the moisture of the 
ground even in the driest time of the year. All 
those coffee trees had the advantage of being 
more flourishing, stronger, and bearing sooner than 
those of my neighbours, planted at the same time, 
according to the old method. I am assured that 
these plantations, though neglected like all those 
of St. Domingo, are still fine." 

I have already said that the coffee trees were 
planted too closely together in the French colo- 
nies : they were placed at four feet asunder, and 
in all kinds of ground. This circumstance was 
the cause that good crops were obtained only in 
poor land. It is now understood that they 
should be planted at distances of seven or eight 
feet in a good soil. They are also planted in 
triangle or in quincunx, by which a sixth part 
of the ground is saved. The deeper the vegeta- 
tive mould is, the deeper the holes should be dug ; 
but if the good soil be shallow, care must be 
taken that the boles be not too deep, because the 
plant will die when the roots reach the volcanic 
ashes or tufa. 


Coffee trees produce but little unless their 
growth be impeded by cutting : they are cut at 
two feet and a half on middling soils, and at four 
and a half or five feet on very fertile grounds. This 
plant produces some fruit in two years after it 
has been planted : it produces still more in the 
third year; in .seven years it is in full bearing, 
and lives to seventy and eighty years, when in a 
proper soil and well cultivated. I shall not enter 
into further details on its cultivation, which 
would be no novelty to the inhabitants of our 
colonies, and totally unnecessary to an Euro- 
pean reader. There is, however, in what I have 
said, and in that which I have quoted from M. 
Bruly, information which will not be useless to 
many planters in the Spanish colonies where this 
subject is not yet well understood. I also wish 
to recommend them to plant their nurseries of 
coffee plants under the shade of bananas, and to 
transplant them, as they practise with their 
cocoa trees, to the shade of the erythrina, which 
they call- la madre del cacao, mother of cocoa. 
I shall say nothing of the plants that produce 
cotton, arnotto, indigo, which are all cultivated 
in Venezuela, and yield superior qualities there. 

They have in their exportable commodities, 
a grain of two lobes, which the people of the 
country call puchery, or pichurim, and to which 
the French Creoles have given the name of the 
Orinoco nutmeg, because it has an aromatic 
odour very similar to that of the oriental nutmeg. 


I have never been able to see the tree that pro- 
duces this grain, which grows near the banks of 
the Rio Negro, and is sold at a very low price in 
the country. It belongs to a species of laurel. 

Mr* Richard told me he had found one in French 
Guiana, the fruit of which, as described by him, 
appeared not to differ from that used in com- 
merce. Why do not the inhabitants of Vene- 
zuela cultivate it at home ? Since the flavour of 
its fruit is such an agreeable aromatic when wild, 
it is presumed that it would acquire a more supe- 
rior quality if domesticated. I have found that 
a decoction of it mixed with sugar and magnesia, 
is a powerful remedy in the disease known by 
the name of dry cholic, which makes such havoc 
among the negroes, and even sometimes among 
the whitesin the Antilles. Combined with sugar 
and a small quantity of opium, it is an excellent 
remedy for tenesmus and dysentery. The Swed- 
ish and Danish physicians tell wonderful things 
of it* 

One day when I was going from my plantation, 
situated on the north side of Trinidad, to Port Spain, 
accompanied by M. de la Barrere, and when ex- 
hausted with fatigue, sickness, and vexation, I 
rested near a cascade which rushes from the moun- 
tain of Las Cuevas, my indefatigable companion 
was collecting plants above me; I heard him 

* This is a very common spice in tbe Brazils and Portugal, 
where it is called Noz Nosgada, and sold very cheap. — Ed. 

Q 2 


suddenly exclaim, " what do T see ! is that a yew 
tree? pray come and look at it. I have tra- 
versed/ 9 said M. de la Barrere, " the woods and 
mountains of this island a hundred times, and 
never met with a tree that had the appearance of 
this one :" it was in full bloom. 

We had some Indians with us, who climbed 
like squirrels : one was sent up to gather some 
of the fruit and blossoms: he soon threw down 
plenty of them. The berry of this tree is larger 
than that of the yew, Taxus baccata, and of a 
taste at once rough and sweet ; its flowers do not 
differ from those of the yew baccata, otherwise 
than in being larger and purplish ; but its leaves 
narrow and thick, are rather lancet shaped than 
blunt, which is the reason that M. de Jussieu 
considers it to be a PodQcarpus y or species ap- 
proaching the yew. The yew, or Podocarpus of 
Las Cuevas, is taller and thicker than that of 
Europe : we saw one of about sixty feet high, 
and four or five others appeared to be from forty 
to fifty feet in height. The thermometer, in the 
shade, is generally between sixteen and eighteen 
degrees on the mountain of Las Cuevas : there is 
scarcely sufficient coolness there to keep alive 
some arborescent fern, which have neither the 
height nor thickness of those which grow 
in Guadaloupe on the tops and sides of the 
Souffriere, Matouba, and Mont d'Or. Still it is 
an interesting circumstance for the geography 
of plants, to see a yew, or a species so nearly 


allied to it, which exists in ten degrees of latitude, 
at about two thousand feet only above the level 
of the sea. 

This phenomenon can only be explained by 
the numerous rivulets which meander in the 
range of Las Cuevad, and by the breezes of the 
north wind that come from the direction of North 
America, and* which, from the month of No- 
vember to the beginning of April, produce such 
a coolness in the more elevated parts of this 
island, that it is not uncommon for Reaumur's 
thermometer to descend to 12°, an hour after 
the sun's setting : I have seen it at 11° half an 
hour before sun-rise. 

While surveying the surrounding scenery, 1 
recollected an expression made to me six years 
before, by the learned Walker*, when I spoke to 
him of the forests of South America : " Ob ! what a 
fine sermon those forests are!" said he. On this spot 
all conduced to grave and melancholy meditation. 
From the point on which we stood, I saw five 
cascades precipitating their waters over each 

To the east, I saw and heard the sea rushing 
with fury into the caverns of Las Cuevas ; it was 
calm to the west, and in the Gulf of Paria : what 
a true emblem of human life! It is in this 
vast silence of the forests, this calm of nature, 

* Professor of natural history at Edinburgh. 


that the virtuous man whose mind is wounded 
by persecution and misfortune, should go to 
meditate and soothe his soul. It is there, that in 
the innocent society of the vegetable world, and 
by observing its mysterious laws, he may con- 
template on one summit, bananas, balisiers, ma- 
hogany, cedar, the fern, and yew, which, though 
natives of different sites and temperatures, vege- 
tate on the same point of our planet, without 
hot houses, or other stimulus from human aid, 
whilst man often exists only to torment his fellow 
creature ! 

Geological Observations. 

The great range of mountains in Guiana and 
Venezuela, which runs east and west, is com- 
posed of gneiss and micaceous schistus, in which 
are found chrystals of quartz. The micaceous 
schistus (jglinwnerschiefer of Werner) makes, a 
transition sometimes into talcous schistus, and 
the decomposition of this latter substance gives 
a greasy appearance to the soil. There is also 
found in the ridge of mountains on the coast, 
between Punta de Piedra and Guiria, near Cape 
de Paria, at a league from the sea, a blueish 
calcareous stone, similar to that which M. da 
Humboldt designates under the term of the Alpine 
calcareous stone (cUpenkalkstein.) This rock is 
rather hard, and veined with white calcareous 
carbonate chrystallized : it rests on coagulated 


day with pebbles of the primitive rocks. I found 
near Carupano, outside the Gulf of Paria, and in 
thevalliesof the coast mountains, lame Hated gyp- 
sum near the beds of rivers, and in places they 
bad abandoned. 

On leaving the foot of those mountains and 
the mouth of the Orinoco, to coast the sea shore to 
the river of Amazons, there seems to be no other 
substance than a vegetative argillaceous earth, 
deep and fertile, without rocks or pebbles. All 
the coasts of this country, from the mouth of 
the Orinoco, to the Lake of Maracaybo, are 
primitive. The part of that country which is 
low, and almost every where on the same level, 
has been formed evidently by the ruins of moun- 
tains, and the sediment of the waters of the Ori- 
noco, which are thrown back on the coast by 
the force of the waves and currents. Those 
alluvial and marshy earths are every day more 
and more covered with mangroves (rhizophora 
mangle,) which thrive in the sea, or on its 
shores, in those climates. It is evident that in 
this part of the world, the land encroaches con- 
tinually on the sea, and thus marine shells are 
found at some distance from the coast, and in 
places that the sea has recently abandoned. Such 
is the coast south-west of the Island of Trinidad, 
and that situated towards the right bank of the 

Near the mouths of the Orinoco there are only 
grounds inundated and covered with mangroves, 


and other trees natural to the sea shore, and not 
a single rock in that multitude of islets covered 
with various kinds of palms, and inhabited by 
the Guaraouns. But on the borders of the sea, 
between the Guarapiche and the Orinoco, there 
are found fragments of quartz, rounded quartzose 
pebbles, and shingle of rocks composed of various 
colours, such' as green, yellow, red, blue, &c. The 
magnetic needle indicates the presence of iron in 
almost all those pebbles and rocks. 

In short, the Amazons, the rivers of Cayenne 
and Surinam, the Demarara, Essequibo, and all 
the other streams that discharge themselves on 
this coast, enable it to advance continually on 
the sea, and imperceptibly augment the territory 
of Trinidad ; so that it may be predicted that 
the Gulf of Paria will some day be no more than 
a channel through which the waters of the Ori- 
noco and Guarapiche will be conveyed to the 
ocean. The course of the currents which con- 
tinually form and increase this coast, is from 
south-east to north-west, from the mouth of the 
Amazons to beyond Cape de Paria. 

This country has been almost every where 
convulsed by volcanoes ; but the volcanic effects 
there do not resemble those of Europe, owing 
to the difference of geological constitution. Here 
is found gypsum, which abounds in sulphur ; 
elsewhere pyrites mingled with all kinds of 
rocks, even with the granitic rooks ; bituminous 
muriatic argile, petrolium or asphaltum. The 

MINKS. %$$ 

rains of sea water which frequently fall on this 
soil heated by a* burning sun, and which are de- 
composed in it, nourish the volcanoes, that send 
forth eruptions of argillaceous mud, and sulphu- 
rated hydrogen. 

The gold mines in this country are so unpro- 
ductive that they have been abandoned. There 
are no other mines now worked there, than 
those of copper at San Felipe de Aroa. I have 
never heard, and M. de Humboldt has no know- 
ledge of tin mines in Venezuela, which a public 
paper mentioned some time ago. 



Industry and Commerce of the ci-devant Spanish Colonies compared 
with those of England, France, Holland, &c — Lord Chatham's 
opinion of Colonial Manuf a ctures. — Impolicy of encouraging them, 
—Most adviseable System for Governments to pursue.— Barbarous 
PoRcy of the Spanish Cabinet with regard to the Colonies^— Juice of 
the Agave.— Absurd and oppressive Mode of Taxation. — Reflections. 
— Guipuscoa Company. — Edict of Free Trade. — Prohibitions of the 
Spanish Government— Remarks on the Work of M. Depons. — Con- 
traband Trade of English Merchants. — Facts and Observations re- 
lative thereto. — Panegyric on the Custom House, and Revenue 
Laws of Great Britain.— Remarks on the Colonial System of France, 
and Consequences of the prohibitory Regulations of Spain. — List of 
various Duties, Imposts, &c. — Privileges accorded to French Set- 
tlers in the Spanish Colonies by the Family Compact— Annual 
Amount of Exports from Venezuela;— Concluding Remarks. 

Whilst the British, French and Dutch colonies 
in America had arrived at the highest degree of 
prosperity which each of them could attain, re- 
latively to the degree of prosperity enjoyed by 
their respective parent states, the Spanish colo- 
nies, which are so superior to them in extent and 
beauty, in the salubrity and variety of their cli- 
mates, and by all the riches which are lavished 
there m the three great departments of natural his- 
tory, languished, in a state of misery and stagna- 
tion, bordering on the barbarity in which the 


semi-civilized nations of Asia and Africa are still 
plunged. The original cause of this state of 
things is found in the exclusive system of com- 
mercial companies, to which they had long been 
sacrificed ; and since the abolition of those com- 
panies, in the impossibility Spain found herself 
with the absurd laws which oppressed her com- 
merce, to export the raw materials of her co- 
lonies, or manufacture them, at the same time 
that she prohibited their being manufactured by 
the colonists at home, or to sell them in their 
crude state to the neighbouring nations. 

All nations have had more or less of this 
jealousy; but other states have possessed the 
necessary means or industry for supplying the 
wants of their colonies. Previous to the great 
revolution which liberated North America, 
Lord Chatham declared in Parliament, that 
it ought to be prohibited to the colonists, under 
the most severe penalties, to spin a single 
thread or forge a nail. By this hyperbolic ex- 
pression he meant to prove, that commerce and 
navigation would experience a great check, if the 
Americans were permitted to work their raw 
materials ; which a great number of English 
vessels were employed in bringing from those 
colonies, the profits of which maintained a multi- 
tude of seamen, the nursery of the navy, at the 
same time that they caused their manufacturing 
towns to flourish, whose wealth was disseminated 

236 m. vv buc. 

by all the channels of industry among every class 
of citizens. 

And it must be confessed that the chief part of 
the colonies have been, or are still in a state 
in which it would be injurious to subtract a 
portion of their population, to be employed in 
the refinements of manufacturing industry ; be- 
cause those very objects may be furnished to 
them on much better terms from the East 
Indies and Europe ; countries where, on account 
of their great population, workmanship is at a very 
low price. Thus it was seen, about thirty years 
ago, at Martinico, that M. du Buc, a man of other- 
wise good sense and considerable talents, lost in 
a short time more than two millions of francs 
(eighty thousand pounds), by having attempted 
to establish sugar refineries in that island. Since 
the Americans of the United States have become 
an independent people, they have had the wisdom 
to avoid diverting their population from agricul- 
ture to manufactures : they find it more profit- 
able to carry the raw produce of their soil to Eu- 
rope and to India in their own vessels ; by which 
their merchants and mariners gain considerable 
freight; which bring home to them in exchange 
the manufactured merchandizes of the old world, 
and which do not cost them so dear as if they had 
been wrought among themselves, notwithstand- 
ing the duties established by congress on all kinds 
of merchandize imported from foreign nations, 



duties which form nearly nine tenths of the 
revenue of this economical government,* 

It should not be concluded from the above, 
that certain branches of industry ought to be in- 
terdicted to the colonists : such prohibitions are 
calculated only to render governments odious. A 
wise administration leaves trade to find its own 
level, and does not imitate the ancient Spanish 
ministry, who, although their nation had neither 
the means nor industry to consume, nor to trans- 
port to other countries the productions of those 
beautiful and immense colonies, still less to pro- 
vide for their wants, yet would not permit them 
to establish manufactories there, or to procure a 
great number of the most necessary and agree- 
able objects sought for by wealthy people from 
their neighbours ; such as stuffs, furniture, jewels, 
liquors of India and Europe, nor even the uten- 
sils for agriculture and the mechanical arts." All 
those conveniences have long been interdicted to 
the inhabitants of the Spanish colonies, who had 
the vexation and shame to see themselves wretched, 
ragged, and almost as naked as savages, whilst 
their neighbours, the English, French, Dutch, 

* This assertion of the author is not borne out by late com- 
munications, from which it appears that both the American peo- 
ple and government have seriously turned their attention to the 
establishment of manufactories, which, according to the old 
system of transatlantic bombast, are to rival those of Europe, 
particularly England, in the course of a very short period, if 
they do not already realize that pleasing dream.— Ed. 


and even the Portuguese, though in a country far 
less abundant in natural and metallic riches, 
lived in the midst of comforts, enjoyments, and 

Volumes might be filled in recounting the 
absurd acts of the ancient Spanish govern- 
ment, which had for their object those fine 
but^ unfortunate colonies. It is known that all 
the productions of Europe and Asia grow ad- 
mirably well in Mexico, Peru and Caraccas, 
according as the ground is elevated above the sea, 
or approximating to it. The inhabitants of those 
countries have been able and willing to cultivate 
the productions of Europe, and from the com- 
mencement of the last century, the olive and vine. 
The government of the mother country put ob- 
stacles in the way of such cultivation, even so far 
as to prohibit it. The Peruvians and Mexicans 
paid very little attention to those prohibitions, and 
the government not feeling itself sufficiently strong 
to enforce such iniquitous measures, shut its eyes 
on their disobedience. However, in 1802, on 
the representations of the merchants of Cadiz, 
who informed His Catholic Majesty that the cul- 
tivation of the vine and olive tree in Mexico, 
injured the interests of his good city of Cadiz, 
an order was sent to the viceroy, Don Joseph de 
Yturrigarray, to cause all the vines and olive 
trees there to be extirpated. That prudent gover- 
nor took upon himself to avoid putting such a 
barbarous order into execution, the consequences 


of which might have led to the immediate inde- 
pendence of Mexico. The rapacity of a^ompany 
of traders knows neither shame nor limits, when 
they acquire too much influence with a govern- 
ment, as may be seen in the conduct of the Bri- 
tish and Dutch East India Companies. 

The reader has just seen that the merchants of 
Cadiz would have caused the destruction of the 
vine and olive in America ; but there is also ano- 
ther indigenous plant, the juice of which ferment- 
ed, has been the favourite beverage of the Mex- 
icans from the earliest antiquity. The maguay, 
or agave, a species of the pine-apple, produces a 
kind of wine called pulque. The said Cadiz 
traders requested of the government to order the 
destruction of all the plantations of it ; and this 
order, which is not unique of the kind in the 
annals of commercial tyranny, was sent, it is 
asserted, to the viceroy, Count de Revillagigedo, 
in 1791.* It might be said that at the breaking 
out of the French revolution, a kind of vertigo 
infested the councils of Europe. The Count of 
Revillagigedo not only took care not to put such 
an order into execution, but he even concealed it 
from the officers of the government. It was this 
viceroy who rendered such great services to the 

* All those who have studied history, from the time of the 
Tyrians and Carthaginians, to our own days, need not be told 
that no tyranny ever equalled that of trading governments towards 
foreign countries subject to their domination. 


sciences, arts, agriculture and navigation, and 
who, I believe, was the first that attempted to 
compose a statistical account of Mexico ; a work 
which it was reserved for M. de Humboldt to 
complete, with that superiority of genius which 
characterizes all his productions. 

The fermented juice of the agave is thus for 
the Mexicans, that which wine is for the people 
of the south, and cider or beer for those of the 
north of Europe. They extract from this wine 
a spirit that they call mexical, or aqua ardiente 
de maguey. This spirit was prohibited for a 
long time, because it injured the trade in Spanish 
brandies. But in those distant countries, they 
eluded such a tyrannical order, and the govern- 
ment at length permitted the inhabitants of the 
internal provinces, and those of Tuspan, a dis- 
trict in the intendency of Gaudalaxara, to sell 
their pulque brandy publicly, merely imposing 
a slight duty on it. From that time the com- 
plaints ceased, and the people paid the tax with- 
out murmuring. The cultivation of the maguey, 
says M. de Humboldt, is become such an impor- 
tant object for the exchequer, that the duties 
of entry paid in the three towns of Mexico, Pue- 
bla and Toluca (the first of those towns had, in 
1808, 140,000, the second 68,000, and the third 
50,000 inhabitants,) amounted in 1793, to the 
sum of 817,739 dollars ; the expences of collecting 
it then were 56,608 dollars ; so that the govern- 
ment derived from those three towns only, from 


TAXM. 841 

from the juice of the agave, a net profit of 761,131 
dollars. M. de Humboldt adds that the immo- 
derate deaire of augmenting the royal revenue? 
latterly, induced them to overburthen the manu- 
factory of pulque in a vexatious and inconsiderate 
manner; and that if the government did not 
change the system in this respect, it may be 
expected that this branch of cultivation, one of 
the most ancient and lucrative, will gradually 
decline, in spite of the decided predilection of 
the Mexicans for the maguey wine. 

The blind and impolitic mode in which taxes 
were imposed by the Spanish government, proves 
that it was ignorant of the first elements of finan- 
cial legislation ; the great art of which is to ex- 
tend the imposts on the greatest possible num- 
ber of objects, and to render them light on each 
object that can best support them : their produce is 
then immense, it arrives continually at the trea- 
sury, and neither alarms nor oppresses any one ; 
they are not exposed to evasion, and always easy 
of collection. Thus received^ the direct or in- 
direct taxes enrich the state, provided they do 
not impede industry. But what the ancient 
Spanish government could not comprehend, 
though a very obvious case, was that the more 
it augmented the rates of imposts, the less pro- 
ductive they were found to be: When it is only 
the superfluous, that is affected by the duties, 
iwo and two make four for a long time in finance 
as in arithmetic ; but when the exaction is made 


too deeply, the consumption, which decreases, 
limits the indirect impost ; labour, which also 
decreases as much, abridges the direct impost; 
so that in a short time the old axiom so often 
referred to in fiscal concerns, no longer holds 

Peru and the provinces on the Pacific Ocean, 
have not been so ill-treated by the Spanish laws, 
owing to the great distance of those provinces/which 
must be reached by doubling Cape Horn, or the im- 
mense voyage by the East Indies. It was there- 
fore necessary to grant them permission to sow 
corn, and other articles for their subsistence, and 
also to plant vines and olives. Not being able to 
send the stuffs requisite for clothing them, or other 
instruments and utensils necessary for civilized 
man so far, they have been permitted for a long 
time past, to manufacture those articles at home. 

Thus, though the provinces of Mexico, New 
Granada, Caraccas, the Islands of Cuba, Porto 
Rico, Trinidad, and the Spanish part of St. Do- 
mingo, all those colonies, in fact, whose shores 
are washed by the northern ocean, though they 
are much better situated than Peru for trading 

• In 1794, Mr. Pitt doubled the duties on Portugal wines. 
In one year the receipt diminished £100,000, the duty was re- 
established on the former scale, and the reoeipt augmented to 
the amount that it had previously been.f 

t What a lesson for the present Chancellor of the Exchequer ! 
and how truly he stands in need of it, many of his late taxes 
prove ! — Ed. 

MINING. 343 

with Europe, have for a long time presented 
only a picture of poverty and decrepitude, unit- 
ed to that of the very infancy of social order. 
In those countries the proprietors of mines alone 
were wealthy; and the rage for discovering them, 
which can only be compared to the passion for 
gaming, was daily the cause of ruining a great 
number of families, and a source of immorality 
peculiar to those countries. The more the Spa- 
nish government encouraged this species of gam- 
ing, the more it impeded agriculture and colo- 
nial industry. It seemed as if all that was not 
mines, interested it very little; that it desired to 
have no more subjects in the new world than 
were necessary for working them ; and that 
above all, it feared that they would become too 
rich and too well informed ; for all the colonial 
institutions tend to preserve them in ignorance 
and misery. 

Still, after having drawn this dismal picture 
of the Spanish colonies, it is but proper to say, 
that in spite of the unjust and barbarous orders 
deceitfully obtained from the sovereigns of the 
last dynasty, by insatiable traders, and corrupt 
ministers, those kings have done more for the 
prosperity of their colonies, than Charles V. and 
his descendants; witness the treaty by which 
that monarch, after having depopulated his 
states, and exhausted his finances, sold, in 
1628, the country of Venezuela to the Wel- 
sen, who made that fine country a scene of 

r 2 

244 . guipuscoa xompany. 

pillage, devastation, and all the crimes which 
exclusive commercial companies alone can in- 
vent, when they are permitted to exercise sove- 
reign authority. The descendants of Charles V. 
constantly sacrificed the interests of Spain to 
those of their German possessions, or to other 
political considerations, as may be seen in the 
ruinous treaties made with the Hanse Towns in 
1647 ; with Holland, in 1648 ; and with Eng- 
land in 1667. And while the Spanish commerce 
was abandoned to the neighbouring nations, dur- 
ing the fifteenth, sixteenth, and the beginning 
of the seventeenth centuries, from the abolition 
of the privilege of the Welsers, which took place 
in 1547, the port of Seville alone had for a long 
time, the privilege of trading with the colonies. 
This privilege passed to Cadiz at the commence- 
ment of the seventeenth century, and so con- 
tinued exclusively until 1728, when the Guipus- 
coa Company" was established. 

The charter of concession declared that the 
province of Guipuscoa was authorized to form 
a commercial company, which should have its 
agents at Cadiz, the port from whence its vessels 
should sail, and to which they should return to 
discharge their homeward bound cargoes. The 
number of ships was limited to two, "and the 
countries to which they were permitted to trade, 
were those Which composed the captain general- 
ship of Caraccas. Those vessels, armed with from 
forty to fifty guns, . were authorized to cruize 


between the great mouth of the Orinoco and that 
of the Rio de la Hache, from the time they dis- 
charged their cargoes, until their departure for 
Europe, in order to capture interlopers. In 1734, 
the company obtained new privileges, the king 
haying declared that shares might be held in 
it, directly or indirectly, without derogating 
from nobility, and without loss of honour, rank, 
or reputation. It is certainly not astonishing that 
commerce, the vivifying principle of states, 
should languish, and that ignorance and barba- 
rity should triumph in a country, and among 
a people where such a declaration was necessary. 
Here a new era begins; more liberal princi- 
ples begin to influence the cabinet of Madrid : 
the company obtained by that charter permis- 
sion to arm as many vessels as it thought pro- 
per, and to equip them in the ports of San Sebas- 
tian and Passage ; but the returns were to be 
made to the port of Cadiz. 

The first operations of the company were bril- 
liant, and the colonists had no cause to complain 
of them ; but by the charters dated in 1742 and 
1752, it so extended and abused its privileges, 
that the complaints of the colonists forced the 
government to suppress it by the famous edict of 
the 12th of October, 1778, known by the name 
. of that of free trade. 

At the above period, North America had given 
a great lesson to parent states : it would seem that 
this was not totally lost to the court, of Madrid ; and 


the monopolizing merchants of Cadiz ought to 
have been convinced, that their commerce in- 
creased instead of having diminished, according as 
the government relaxed the chains in which the 
agriculture and industry of the colonies languished. 
This order of things is, no doubt, by far pre- 
ferable to that which existed before ; but still 
this last system adopted by the Spanish govern- 
ment was as much behind that which existed in 
the French colonies, as the administration in the 
latter was inferior to the excellent regulations by 
which the British colonies in the West Indies 
were governed. 

If Spain, instead of occupying herself almost 
exclusively with metals, when she made the con- 
quest of America, and during the two centuries 
which succeeded it, had excited the industry of 
her subjects to colonial agriculture, that is to say, 
the cultivation of sugar, coffee, cocoa, cotton, 
indigo, cochineal, and all the other productions 
so valuable in the European markets, she would 
have rendered Europe a tributary of her com- 

But to arrive at that object, it would have been 
necessary to have attracted the subjects of foreign 
states to settle in her colonies. Far from adopting 
such a wise measure, she would not, at first, per- 
mit any other nation to establish itself in Ame- 
rica. Posterity will scarcely believe that it is on 
a papal bull that this power founds its rights to 
that part of the world. The other European 


nations which wished to make establishments 
there after the Spaniards, had to defend them- 
selves from them still more than from the Indians. 
This absurd and unjust conduct gave birth to the 
famous buccaneers, a set of heroical robbers who 
long retarded the progress of the Spanish colo- 

Let. us now glance at the ancient colonial sys- 
tem of Spain and her custom-house regulations. 
M. Depons compares the Spanish colonial system 
to that which formerly existed in the French 
colonies ; he eulogizes both, and according to him 
the latter was a master-piece of human wisdom. 

In truth, it cannot be conceived from whence 
M. Depons has derived his documents. The 
mode of praising, is at least as* dangerous as that 
of blaming every thing ; and it appears that M. 
Depons, when he undertook his work, was deter- 
mined to find all that had been done by the an- 
cient Spanish government, excellent as well as 
that which had been effected by the ancient 
French government. I believe that he might, 
without failing in the gratitude which he owed 
to the former government, draw a very striking 
picture of the imperfections and vices of the ad- 
ministration of the Spanish colonies*. He says, for 
instance, in the second volume, (see Statistics of 
Caraccas,) that the fiscal theory of local imposts 
introduced into America, serves by its produce 
to maintain an infinite number of revenue officers 
employed by the Spanish government ; places, 


he says, that are solicited with urgency, and 
occupied with dignity. Surely this must be 
intended as a satire; for I cannot comprehend 
what that dignity can be in all those custom- 
house officers or Spanish gabelous, who were 
always ready to hold out their hands to the first 
. smuggler who has occasion to bribe them ! The 
Spanish colonies comprised in the captain general- 
ship of Caraocas, would have remained much 
longer in their infancy, if they bad not had for 
neighbours the Dutch of Cura?oa, who have made 
great advances to them since 1634, and received 
in payment hides, cotton, and cocoa. Now it 
was the vicious system of the Spanish custom- 
house laws, that gave such an advantage to 
strangers over their own subjects, as I shall ex- 
plain ; though M. Depons says, that it was the 
ill-conceived system of the French custom-house 
laws, previous to the revolution, which gave 
such great advantages to the English in the trade 
of colonial produce, especially those adapted for 
manufactories. Whatever may be said by the 
defenders of those absurd systems, the facts speak 
more clearly than arguments; for, to use the 
expression of a celebrated statesman in political 
economy, facts become the very proofs of science, 
after having been its materials.* 
Why then, if the commercial laws and custom- 

* M. de Talleyrand's Treatise on the Commercial Relations of 
North America* 


house regulations of France and Spain were more 
ably arranged than those of the English and 
Dutch, as M. Depons asserts, could those na- 
tions sell their colonial produce at as low prices 
as ours, in the European markets, though our 
colonies were larger and more fertile than theirs ? 
Why could they sell our own raw colonial pro- 
duce there, and even the manufactured, in certain 
circumstances cheaper? The contraband trade of 
the Virgin Islands, small and barren colonies of 
the English, will explain this fact in the course of 
the present chapter. 

To return to the Spanish colonies.: from the 
abolition of the Guipuscoa Company, which took 
place in 1780, the port of Cadiz enjoyed the 
privilege of trading with Spanish America 
until 1785; but that liberty has been since 
extended to the ports of Sevilla, Malaga, Alme- 
ria, Alicant, Carthagena, Valencia, Barcelona, 
Alfagues, Tortosa, Santandero, Gijon, Vigo and 
Majorca ; as also to those of Santa Cruz, Palma, 
and Santa Cruz in Teneriffe in the Canary Islands. 
Still it was prohibited to those islands to trade 
with America in any other articles than those of 
their own soil. It is remarkable that this prohibi- 
tion, as well as their position, were the causes of 
there being more contraband trade carried on there 
than elsewhere : several rich commercial English 
houses were engaged in that trade under the mask 
of the Irish Catholics. It happened in those islands, 
as it occurs every where, when a government 
establishes regulations, too severe, without- hav- 


ing the means of making them respected ; that 
of their being only an additional incitement to 
fraud : in short, the Spanish governors and admi- 
nistrators having much more to gain by tolerating 
smuggling than by suppressing it, divided the 
profits of that trade with the agents of the British 
commercial houses established in those islands. 
Wise regulations, which instead of embarrassing 
and discouraging national commerce, might 
favour and protect it, could alone restrain the con- 
traband trade. It was the fluctuations still more 
than the rigour of the Spanish and French custom- 
house laws, which gave to the English such great 
advantages over their competitors. 

Many causes contributed to their success, and 
they owed much of it, more to the negligence and 
thoughtlessness of the ancient European govern- 
ments, and the corruption of some of their minis- 
ters, than to the ability of their manufacturers. 
There must, however, be this justice done to the 
English, that with the exception of the Dutch, 
they possess and know better than any other nation 
in Europe, the principles of commercial companies; 
and great companies, as well as great commercial 
houses, will always have incalculable advantages 
over individual merchants, who can employ only 
moderate capitals : the English have also better 
known and appreciated the value and distribution 
of time and labour, than any other European 
nation ; which caused them to invent so many 
admirably useful machines; and adopt various 
other measures to facilitate commerce. 


But even though I should be accused of repeti- 
tion, I can prove, by many examples, that it is to 
their revenue laws, the good regulation of their 
custom-houses, to their bounties and drawbacks^ 
that they principally owe the advantage of being 
able to sell at a lower price than other nations in 
the European markets. 

The British Antilles had become the staple of 
the French and Spanish colonies, which, no doubt, 
derived some advantages from it;. but to the 
great detriment of French commerce, and, conse- 
quently, of French agriculture and manufactures. 
By a proclamation of the 1st November, 1766, the 
King of Great Britain opened, for the transit of 
merchandize, the Ports of Prince Rupert and 
Roseau in the Island of Dominica, and those of 
Kingston, Savanna la Mar, Montego Bay, and 
Santa Lucia in the Island of Jamaica. Various 
acts or proclamations, dated in 1774 and 1775, 
have extended or modified those privileges accord- 
ing to circumstances; subsequent proclamations by 
the British Government, have granted the same 
favour to the Islands of Grenada, Providence, and 
in 1797, to that of Trinidad. 

Those acts, or proclamations, are simply invita- 
tions which the king of Great Britain addresses to 
merchants in the French and Spanish colonies to 
carry on contraband trade with his subjects. 
I shall first mention the Virgin Islands, as an 
instance of the immense trade of that nature, 
which England maintained therewith some of 


the Spanish colonies, and with the French colo- 
nies of the Lesser Antilles. In 1788, Great Britain 
exported from those barren islets, to the amount 
of £1,450,000 of colonial produce, which im- 
mense value she paid for in her manufactures ; 
for this opulent nation scarcely ever uses gold or 
silver in her commerce, and never takes specie 
into her colonies, from whence, if she extracts it, 
it is in Spanish or Portuguese money. 

The Virgin Islands are a chain of islets 
almost sterile, situated between St. Kitt's and 
Porto Rico, and which with difficulty maintain 
fifteen hundred whites or free people of co- 
lour, and nine thousand negroes occupied in 
the cultivation of cotton, working .three or four 
miserable sugar plantations, and in growing the 
provisions of the country for their subsistence. 
From the particular knowledge I have of those 
little islands, I do not hesitate to assert, that the 
value of their annual natural exports or produc- 
tions of their soil, scarcely amounts to £42,000 ; 
from whence it results that the contraband trade 
which they carried on in 1788, with Martinico, 
Gaudaloupe, Mariegalante, and the Spanish Island 
of Porto Rico, amounted to £1,408,000. Sup- 
posing that the Island of Puerto Rico furnished 
as much as £250,000 of this illicit commerce, which 
is a great deal, considering the languishing state 
in which its agriculture then was, and the smug- 
gling trade its inhabitants had also with the Dutch 
of Saint Eustacia and of Curagoa, it would be 


demonstrated tbat in 1188 the English obtained 
from Martinico, Guadaloupe, and Mariegalante 
to the value of more than £1,100,000 of sugar, 
coffee, and cotton. 

Other islands served also as deposits for this 
fraudulent trade : such as the Danish Islands of St. 
Thomas and St. Croix, and the little Swedish 
Island of St. Bartholomew, nearly all the trade 
there was carried on for the benefit of Great Britain, 
by Englishmen, naturalized Danes or Swedes. 
The British Islands of Saint Vincent and Grenada 
absorbed almost all the trade of St. Lucie : three- 
fourths of the produce of this island went to Eng- 
land. British merchandize only was consumed 
there, excepting some wines and provisions from 
France. Our old colony of Tobago, of which all 
the inhabitants were English, was less mysterious 
in its smuggling : English vessels naturalized at 
Dunkirk, brought British merchandize to it, and 
took a great portion of its produce to England. 

It was the vices of our ancient revenue system, 
and that of the Spaniards, still more vicious, which 
gave the British commerce such an advantage 
over ours, and especially over that of the Spani- 
ards, in spite of their rigorous restrictions. 

By virtue of the twenty-fifth article of the 
decree of the council of state, of April, 1717, all 
the production of our colonies paid an import of 
three percent.; the produce of foreign colonies, 
which might be transmitted from thence, (an 
absurd regulation, whereby the neighbouring 

254 DUTIES, 

colonies sent nothing to be sold in ours), were 
subject to the same duty, previous to their 
being sent to Europe. It was that which was 
termed the duty of the western dominions. By 
the nineteenth article of the same decree, they 
were subjected on their entry into France to 
duties whose quota was relative to each of the 
commodities. Cotton, for instance, was at first 
taxed at one franc, ten sous, per quintal ; subse- 
quent edicts raised this tariff eight sous additional 
per franc : at length cotton paid, on exportation 
from the colonies, a duty of nearly five per cent. 
At the period of which I speak, cotton did not 
pay any duty whatever in England • which was 
the reason that the British, who possessed no 
cotton colonies, was still on a par with ours by 
buying it at ten, and ten and a quarter per cent, 
higher than our merchants could afford, which is 
easily demonstrated. We shall suppose cotton at 
two hundred francs per quintal, ancient weight. 

francs, cento. 
The fifteenth article of the decree of 

1717, established a duty of three 

percent 6 

There was added another duty- of 
thirty sous per quintal, article 
'nineteen of the same decree 1 50 

By subsequent edicts, an additional 

duty of eight sous per franc... 8 

Export duty in the colonies, 4& per 

cent 9 60 

Total 20 
Could any thing be more absurd than to tax 

ST. DOMINGO, &C. 255 

cotton, indigo, arnotto, raw articles for our 
manufacturers, on an equality with sugar and 
coffee, objects of daily use ; to tax raw sugar as 
high as clayed sugar, &c. ? yet such was the policy 
of the ancient French government !* 

* I do not include coffee in these remarks, because St. Domingo 
produced an immense quantity of it previous to the French revo- 
lution, and had it not been for the destruction of that queen of 
colonies, this culture would have so progressively increased there, 
that in 1794, or 1795, coffee might have been sold at ten sons 
per pound, in the French markets : thus the government could 
have placed a heavy duty on that article without injury to its 
cultivation or to our commerce; for Jamaica and the other 
British colonies produced so little then, that it could not even be 
rated as an article of trade. 

But things have since changed very much. The colonists of 
St. Domingo who took refuge in Jamaica, introduced the practice 
of this cultivation there, until then so. much neglected by the 
English. The colonies of Demarara, Essequibo, and Berbice, 
on the continent, which may be said to be identified with Suri- 
nam, and Cayenne, as they are only separated from them by 
rivers; these establishments are become so considerable, that 
they will soon fill up, in the European markets, the void occasioned 
by the disturbances in St. Domingo, which they equal, at least, 
in fertility. Those colonies were so insignificant during the 
revolutionary war of the United States, that a British detachment 
made a conquest of them, and M. de Kersaint, with a frigate and 
two hundred soldiers, drove them out 9ome time afterwards. 
Never did a country offer to the world, and in such a short time, 
such a proof of the surprising effects of an enterprising commercial 
spirit when properly directed. These colonies (Demerara, Esse- 
quibo, and Berbice,) were restored to Holland by the peace of 
Versailles, in 1783. There were then scarcely two hundred 
whites there, proprietors of some new plantations, cultivated by 
about two thousand negroes. This country is flat, and it was for- 
merly marshy, and shockingly unhealthy : it was, in fact, the grave 

256 DEMBRARA, &C. 

How then did it happen that the public treasury 
of Great Britain, which received no duties on the 
importation^ cotton, lost nothing by it ? Here is 

of Europeans: of a hundred individuals who might arrive there at 
the beginning of the year, scarcely ten remained alive at the end 
of it Patience, hydraulics, and Dutch prudence have overcome 
all those obstacles. I visited that country in 1792 ; it was then 
flourishing and drained. Its population at that time amounted to 
nearly thirty-five thousand souls. More than half of this popu- 
lation consisted of English, who had deserted their barren 
colonies, to cultivate one of the most fertile soils in the world. 
The Dutch merchants advanced considerable sums, at four and a 
half per cent, to persons of all nations, who went to establish 
themselves in those new colonies. The interest of the first year 
was paid along with that of the second, when the latter became 
due. A sugar plantation could be established in eighteen months, 
and rendered twenty per cent, in that country ; therefore, an indus- 
trious and prudent colonist might have cleared himself and grown 
rich in six years ! The system of mortgage, which could not yet 
be introduced into the French colonies, was the source of that 
prosperity. He, to whom the money was lent, knew that he 
would be ejected, if he was not punctual in his payments, and the 
lender did not fear to risk his capital, because in default of pay- 
ment he took possession of the plantation, which was generally 
worth much more than the sum he had lent. In 1806, the popu- 
lation of Demerara, Essequibo, and Berbice, was more than 
sixty thousand persons without including the Indians. 

What a glorious event for the spirit of commerce, is not the 
contrast formed by the brilliant situation to which these colonies 
were raised in such a short time, in comparison with the Spanish 
colonies, from which they are separated only by the Orinoco, and 
to which nature has lavished still more varied advantages ! On 
one side is seen fine agriculture, rich commerce, an industrious 
population, that increased in an almost incredible progression ; and 
on theother, misery in the midst of natural riches, filth, superstition, 
and laziness ! ! ! 


where the artifice and science of custom houses 
are found. Those duties were replaced by that 
which the same cotton paid, when manufactured 
into cloth, on its exportation from England ; and 
it was paid by the foreign consumer. The British 
manufacturer expended ten per cent, less than the 
French manufacturer. This is not the place to 
speak of those machines, by means of which, he 
worked cheaper than our manufacturers of that 
period. It is principally by the simple but able 
mode in which the revenue laws are regulated 
in Great Britain, that their exchequer was re- 
plenished, and that individuals enriched them- 
selves, as much as by the negligence, ignorance, 
and want of patriotism in the ancient governments 
of France and Spain. 

M. Depons says, that the English, the only, 
competitors whom we had to fear, received their 
sugar charged with eighteen per cent, more than 
that which we receive from our colonies ; and he 
therefore concludes that they must have traded to 
a disadvantage in foreign ports, when the French 
merchant was contented with moderate profits. 
He then adds, that it was owing to the wise com- 
binations of our ancient legislation, that the 
preponderance which, our trade had obtained was 

Formerly, Barbadoes was the only one of the 
British colonies whose produce paid a duty on 
exportation of five and a half per cent. : the other 
colonies paid no duty whatever on exports. Sugar, 


it is true, was charged with duties on importation 
into Great Britain to the amount of eighteen per 
cent. ; but M. Depons ought to have known that 
on being sent from England to foreign countries, 
those duties were returned to the merchant, and 
that is what is termed the drawback. As to the 
other articles of colonial produce, if they were 
charged with duties, not only were those duties 
returned on exporting them to foreign states, but 
even in certain cases the government paid to the 
exporter a premium of encouragement, and this 
is what they call a bounty. Far from enjoying 
similar advantages, the productions of the French 
colonies, previous to the revolution, were loaded 
indiscriminately with accumulated duties, which 
amounted, as I have proved, to more than twenty 
per cent. 

Though our sugars and coffees were charged 
with such duties, it is possible that we might still 
have maintained a competition with the British 
trade in those commodities in the European mar- 
kets, because our colonies produced a much greater 
quantity of them than the English colonies, and 
because those colonies were much less fertile, than 
ours ; for though I cannot admit the enormous 
disproportion that Mr. Page* would make be- 

# Mr. Page considers that the net produce of the labour of a 
negro on a sugar plantation in Jamaica, is north only one hun- 
dred and ninety two francs (£8) annually. (See his Political 
Economy and Commerce of the Colonies, Vol. I. page 19, et 


tween the produce of a sugar plantation in 
Jamaica and in St. Domingo, still it is acknow- 
ledged by all persons who are well acquainted 
with those colonies, that a sugar plantation in St. 
Domingo, of an equal quantity of land and num- 
ber of negroes, generally produced a fourth more 
than one dn Jamaica, owing to the superior ferti- 
lity of the former island. 

The administration of the custom houses in the 
Spanish colonies, was founded on a still more 
vicious system than in ours. The tariffs were 
more uncertain, vague and arbitrary. It was a 
most obscure and ambiguous chaos, known only 
to the officers of customs, and consequently offer- 
ing great temptations to the contraband trade, 
and to the venality of the administrators. All 
who have frequented those colonies know that 
the trifling trade carried on there, was monopo- 

seq.) I cannot admit such a calculation ; I think it ought not to be 
estimated at less than two hundred and fifty francs. Mr. Page 
values the produce of a negro in the French Antilles in general, 
at 333 francs, and still more in St. Domingo. I believe his cal- 
culations to be tolerably exact, in regard to the French colonies ; 
but I am sure he has judged too unfavourably of the soil and cul- 
tivation of Jamaica, when he said that a given surface of land 
employed in a sugar plantation there, and an equal extent of 
ground occupied for the same purpose in St Domingo, is as 
eight hundred and sixteen to two thousand! In general the 
sugar plantations of Sl Domingo, Cuba, and Trinidad, produced 
more than those of Jamaica, owing to the superior fertility of the 
soil of those islands ; but I believe I may safely assert that this 
difference is not more than a fourth or fifth. 


lized by the viceroys, captains-general, intendants, 
comptrollers, &c. who had commercial connexions 
with the merchants in the British colonies, and, 
for some years past, with the United States of 
America, In 1805 or 1806, an Anglo-Portuguese 
house established in Philadelphia, had, for instance, 
the exclusive supply of flour for the Island of 
Cuba : others have had exclusive privileges for 
the sale of negroes, &c. &c. 

It was not quite the same in our colonies : if 
the French administrators have not always dis- 
dained to engage in contraband speculations with 
our neighbours and even our enemies, at least this 
justice must be rendered to them, that they did 
not ill-treat those who were in the habits of such 
illegal speculations ; whilst the bashaws of the 
Spanish colonies used the utmost rigour towards 
the unfortunate persons whQ were captured by 
the guardacostas, going to sell their commodities 
in the neighbouring colonies, for the purpose of 
procuring some of the most necessary articles ; 
and that whilst the government of the mother 
country did nothing to promote their agriculture 
and commerce ; so that the colonists lived in indi- 
gence, while they were overburdened with natu- 
ral riches. 

As to the contraband trade in the French colo- 
nies, if prejudicial to France, it must be admitted 
that it was advantageous to the colonists; so that 
it was not a total loss to the mother country. 
But the administration of the British colonies is 


so regulated, that though they hare no contraband 
trade in the produce of their soil, and that, in 
this respect, there is no trade in the world less free 
than theirs ; yet affairs were so ably regulated, and 
the interests of all so justly balanced, that colonists, 
manufacturers and merchants flourished equally, 

It has been said at the beginning of this chap- 
ter, that though Spain, with absurd laws and re- 
gulations, and the numerous imposts which em- 
barrassed and ruined her colonial commerce, could 
neither export nor manufacture the produce of 
her immense colonies, still she would neither per- 
mit them to be exported or manufactured by 
themselves, nor suffer foreigners to export them, 
and give in exchange to the colonists those 
articles that they most needed. From thence 
resulted a contraband trade, by which that blind 
and oppressive government was defrauded of its 
duties ; a trade which kept the produce of those 
colonies at a wretched price, as their sale depend- 
ed on the uncertain arrival of a greater or less 
number of smuggling vessels, which were exposed 
to the caprices and fluctuating interests of the 
officers of the Spanish government, whose con- 
nivance they were obliged to purchase. From 
this proceeded the languishing state of Spanish 
colonial agriculture and commerce; from this also 
sprung the colossal fortunes acquired in two or 
three years, by generals, intendants and commis- 
sioners of customs. 

Spain had not imposed any land tax on her 


colonies : the tythes which the king shared with 
the clergy, served in place of it. The Indians 
alone, paid "a personal tax, or capitation. The 
revenues of the crown were composed of the 
local duties, collected on sales in the custom- 
houses, and on the transfer of lands, &c. There 
were also municipal customs, which were exacted 
on some of those objects, and served to defray 
the expences of the towns and commercial courts 
of justice, or consolados. The puertos may ores 
paid both kinds of duties ; in the puertos minores, 
the municipal duties only were paid. The duties 
which had been collected in a principal port were 
returned when the merchandize on which it was 
levied, was despatched to a minor port ; and vice 
versdy when from a minor port an exportation 
Was made to a superior one, it was necessary 
previously, to pay the duty which should be 
levied at such principal port, had the merchan- 
dize been sent there direct. 

After the abolition of exclusive commercial 
companies, and the no less odious privileges of 
Seville and Cadiz, the distinguishing the Ame- 
rican into major and minor ports, is one of the 
most wise and beneficent regulations of the cedula 
of 1778, commonly called that of free trade. 
The spirit of this regulation was to establish a 
balance between the most frequented ports, and 
those which were least so, in order to induce the 
exporters of the mother country to send con- 
signments to the latter. This measure bad the 

DUTifes. 263 

most beneficial results for the colonial agricul- 
ture and commerce of Spain. 

The major ports in the captain generalship of 
Caraocas, were La Guayra, Porto Cavello and 
Maracaybo: Cumana, Barcelona, the Island of 
Margarita and the- Orinoco were the minor 
ports. Port Spain was a free port for a limited 
time ; that is, all nations were permitted to trade 
there: this privilege, granted to that colony in 
1783, had given it, in 1797, an augmentation of 
population and prosperity, and an importance 
it could not otherwise have attained in a whole 

The edict of the 28th February, 1784, esta- 
blished a proper distinction between the duties 
which the various commodities should pay on 
importation from Spain into the colonies ; first, 
free goods, or productions of the soil and manu- 
factures of Spain : the quota of duties on impor- 
tation we have enumerated, amounted to ten per 
cent, and only affected the merchandize pro- 
ceeding from the soil and manufactures of Spain ; 
such goods were termed free articles. There 
was, secondly, another tariff for the produce of 
foreign countries, manufactured in Spain, these 
were called contributable articles, and which 
paid twelve and a half per cent. Thirdly, goods 
purely foreign, paid only seven per cent, on im- 
portation at American ports; but as they had 
paid fifteen per cent, on entering Spain, and seven 
on departure. for America, without reckoning the 

264 DCTIKS. 

duties I have enumerated, and those of interna* 
cion, indulto, &c. it will be seen that these duties 
amounted to more than forty-three per cent, on 
foreign merchandize. 

It is now time that I should present the nomen- 
clature of imposts levied in the Spanish colonies, 
by the exchequer and the custom-houses. 

The bulls, whose annual sale was one of the 
branches of the revenue of the crown, and of the 
clergy, stand first. 

Then come the taxes of alcavala, almoxari- 
fazgo, armada and armadilla, of internacion, 
indulto, corso, aprovechamientos ; the licences 
of pulperias or taverns, on the tafia and the gua- 
rapo, duties of aduanas, laguna, composition 
for lands, on letting lands, of lances, of the half 
annatas ; in some provinces, a part of the ty thes, 
in others, the whole tythe; the ecclesiastical 
mesadas, and royal ninths, the tax levied on the 
sale or change of public employments, and that on 
the profits on annual income of those places or 
employments ; the tribute or capitation tax on 
the Indians; stamped paper, the right of passage, 
the fifths of mines, the hospitalities, the salt works, 
confiscations, restitutions, vacant successions, va- 
cant majorities and minorities, the exclusive sale 
of tobacco, cock-fightings, the passage- boats on 
the river Apure : this last tax was peculiar to the 
government of Caraccas. 

Then follow the municipal duties of consulado 
and avaria, of cabildo and offiel executor. 

DUTIES. 266 

Those of my readers who may be curious to be 
informed of the particulars of thfe host of taxes, 
may consult the work of M. Depons; my prin- 
cipal object being to give a knowledge of the 
duties levied on commerce, and the mode of 
exacting them on importation and exportation. 

Those duties are : 

1st. Alcavala de la Mar. This duty was in 
the Captain Generalship of Venezuela, four 
per cent.* on all kinds of merchandize, in- 
discriminately, which entered the ports. Jfc 
was paid on entry, and not on the depar- 
ture of merchandize. At Cartbagena de las 
Indias, it was. two per cent; at Guayaquil, 
three ; at Lima, six ; and at Vera Cruz, 
four. M. Deports says, that it produced in 
the provinces of Venezuela, in 1798, 150,862 

# The'Alcavala de la Mar is the offspring of the Alcavala de 
Tierra. The Cortes had granted to the kings of Spain a tax on trans- 
fers and sales, to assist them to maintain the war against the Moors ; 
this tax was called Alcavala : those monarchs afterwards esta- 
blished this impost in their possessions in America, towards the 
end of the sixteenth century. It was only two per cent at first, 
but it was raised to five per cent, towards the middle of last 
century. It was levied on every thing that was sold, moveable or 
immoveable. All the productions of the soil, as well as those of 
industry, eggs, pulse, forage, &c. &c. paid the Alcavala on enter- 
ing the towns. Shopkeepers paid this tax by subscription. This 
would have produced enormous sums, if in the Spanish possessions 
there had been more activity in commercial affairs and lesd con- 
traband trade. The Alcavala de Tierra produced to the revenue 
on an average, in the provinces of Venezuela, 400,000 hard 

266 DUTIES. 


dollars ; in 1794/151,408 ; in 1795, 105,851 ; * 
in 1796, 180,644; and in 1797, only 10,248 
dollars ; because, according to that writer, 
maritime commerce was in the last named 
year, almost entirely suspended. The true 
cause of the diminution of this duty was from 
the English having taken possession of Trini- 
dad in the commencement of 1797, that 
island became the staple of almost all the 
trade of Venezuela; a commerce which was 
carried on with as little concealment as if 
Spain and Great Britain had been in the most 
strict alliance. Before the English had pos- 
sessed themselves of all the commerce of the 
country it produced annually 150,000 

2d. Duty of Almoxarifazgo. It was levied also 
on all that was imported and exported ; it 
had been fixed at fifteen per cent, on all that 
was imported from Spain, at the time of the 
discovery of America. But it was reduced 
about a century ago, to three per cent, on 
Spanish merchandize, and fixed at seven per 
cent, on foreign merchandize, imported in 
Spanish ships. The Almoxarifazgo on ex- 
portation, is two per cent, on home produce, 
and three on foreign. Its usual annual pro- 
duce in the Captain Generalship of Caraccas, 
was \ 200,000 

3d. The duty of Armada and Ar mad ilia, or 
tax for the royal navy and the flotilla. 
This tax was established for aiding the 
expences of the navy, when it was oc- 
cupied in protecting the colonies against 

. pirates ; and though those coasts have not 

DUTIES. 267 


been infested for more than a century, the 
duty continues to be levied; it is two per 
cent and rendered annually on an average, 

from eighty to 90,000 

4th. The duty of Corso was instituted for pay-' 
ing the maintenance of guardacostas, (reve- 
nue cruizers,) for preventing contraband 
trade : it was three per cent, and rendered. . 150,000 

Total of the royal duties on the imports and) ^qq qqq 
exports of merchandize y __!_. 

I shall not particularize the proceeds of the 
other royal duties and imposts paid in the 
interior of the country, and enumerated in 
another [chapter, and which amounted to, 
including the bulls* 1,210,000 

Total amount of the royal duties and imposts 
in the general government of Venezuela, not 
including the expenses of government and 
of collection 1,800,000 

Civic Duties. 

The united duties of Consulado and Average, 
were levied in the maritime custom-houses, 
and paid to the cashier of the consulado or 
chamber of commerce, to bear the expenses 

* The sale of bulls and indulgences amounted annually on an 
average in the provinces of Venezuela, to 180,000 dollars; of 
which, one third belonged to the crown, and the other two thirds 
to the clergy. 

268 DUTIES. 


of that court ; it was one per cent, on all that 
was exported to Spain, or to the other Spanish 
colonies, and three per cent, on all that was 
exported to foreign colonies, or which came 
from them. Beasts of burden were subject 
to a particular tariff. Horses and mules ex* 
ported paid one dollar each : oxen one per 
cent, according to the valuation made of them 
by the custom-house officers. New negroes 
brought by the British contractors, were ex- 
empted from all duties: they produced 

about 100,000 

The duty of fiel executor 70,000 

That of the cabildo 80,000 

Total of the civic duties 250,000 

All those royal and munificent duties, which 
amounted, as specified, to 2,050,000 dollars, were 
not sufficient for paying the expences of govern- 
ment in the captain generalship of Venezuela. 
The Intendant received annually about 1,200,000 
dollars from the treasuries of Mexico and the 
kingdom of New Grenada. Thus the expences 
of that government amounted annually to nearly 
seven hundred and fifty thousand pounds ; for of 
all the imposts levied in that country, not a far- 
thing passed into the royal treasury of Spain. 

The natural consequence of so many prohibi- 
tions and duties was to retard the prosperity of 
the Spanish colonies, to leave them to the mercy 
of smugglers, and to hinder the extension of com- 


merce and national industry. The two last kings 
of the late dynasty had made, it is true, some 
useful regulations for encouraging national indus- 
try, in placing considerable duties on foreign 
manufactures: but experience has proved that 
if they were dictated by patriotism, the influ- 
ence of the cabinet of St, James at the court of 
Madrid, rendered those regulations null, as far as 
regarded British commerce ; but they were exe- 
cuted with the utmost severity, to exclude from 
Spanish commerce the productions of the industry 
of other nations, and particularly those of the 
French manufactories. 

In vain had Philip V. issued several edicts, as fa- 
vourable to French commerce, as they were useful 
to that of Spain : it was in vain that this monarch, 
in ratifying, on the 13th March, 1713, the sixth 
article of the treaty of the Pyrenees, and the 
cedulas of Charles II. of the months of March 
and December, 1670, ordered that France should 
not only be treated among the most favoured na- 
tions, but that she should be distinguished en 
todo lo quefuera mas favorabile : it was not long 
before those intentions were eluded by the most 
strict perseverance. At length, by an edict 
issued at Madrid, in December, 1760, foreigners, 
and particulaYly the French, lost all tlie privileges 
in Spain : from the above period may be dated 
the influence of the cabinet of St. James in that 
country. The Duke de Choiseul endeavoured in 
vain to mitigate the severity of that edict, by 


stipulating in the sixth article of the family com- 
pact that the subjects of each of the two monarch* 
should be treated in the territory of the other as 
their own subjects; that they should enjoy the 
same facilities of commerce, &c. there. Never 
did the Spanish government put this in practice 
with French subjects, except in circumstances 
when such a concession would be burthensome to 

The following were the privileges to which the 
French were entitled by the family compact. 

First, Though established and domiciled in 
Spain, the French never lost the rights and pre- 
rogatives of French citizens and subjects of His 
Most Catholic Majesty. 

Second, They were not subjected in any thing, 
or in any case, to Spanish jurisdiction; in com- 
mercial affairs they acknowledged no other judges 
than the consul or the commissary of commer- 
cial affairs of France. 

Third, They enjoyed every possible immunity 
in regard to all things necessary for the subsistence 
and use of their families. 

Fourth, They were exempted from all services, 
whether patrimonial or personal, from all tributes 
ordinary or extraordinary, and from all military 

Fifth, Their houses, shops or stores could not 
be searched by any Spanish judge or magistrate, 
of whatsoever rank, excepting in case of a criminal 
taken in the fact : even then it was necessary 

PAHA MA. 271 

that the search should be made by the authority 
and in the presence of the French consul. 

Sixth, They had the liberty to keep their com- 
mercial accounts in any language they pleased, 
and those books could not be searched in any 

Seventh, The merchandize which they had im- 
ported into Spain, and on which they had once 
paid the custom-house duties, might be transported 
into any of the provinces of the interior, and even 
be exported, without paying any other duties. 

All these fine privileges granted to the French 
merchants, existed only on paper ! 

Their independence once established, the Spa- 
nish colonies will not, it is hoped, delay opening 
a trade with Japan, China and India : their coasts 
bordering on the Pacific Ocean, give them great 
advantages in such a trade, over European 
nations. Nine easy communications between the 
South Sea and the Atlantic ocean, are pointed 
out by M. de Humboldt in his Political Essay on 
New Spain. Since 1788, boats have sailed up 
through the Ravine of la Raspadura to Choco, by 
which they have passed from the Pacific Ocean 
into the Sea of the Antilles.* 
■ — ^i i ■ ■>— ^— 

• The Editor has been informed that Mr. Arrowsmith is occu- 
pied in drawing the plan of a projected canal and commnnication 
between the South Pacific and Gulf of Mexico. The execution of 
this work will most probably be one of the first objects of a 
regularly established independent government in New Granada, 
and opens a field of highly interesting speculation both to the 
politicians and merchants of Europe. 


Porto Bello and Nicaragua will be, in some 
years, the staples where all America bordering on 
the Atlantic, and probably Europe itself will go 
to purchase Indian merchandize. This change in 
that great trade, will produce one as considerable 
in the relative wealth and power of states, as that 
of the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope. The 
Americans themselves will take to Bengal and 
China the metals which they furnish to Europe 
for maintaining this trade. The day when com- 
merce shall take this new direction, and that day 
is not so distant as many suppose, will be that 
of the independence of the nations in Asia and 
America, not to mention those innumerable 
advantages which necessarily result from un- 
shackled commerce.* 

According to the informations I obtained from 
official statements in Venezuela, during the year 
1807, the value of the agricultural produce ex- 
ported from the provinces which composed this 
fine country, exclusive of Trinidad, from 1794 
until 1806, amounted to about four millions of 
dollars annually; but according to the docu- 
ments taken from the custom houses of Port 
Spain in Trinidad, and from those of the Islands 

*To those who foresee this great change I shall merely observe 
that the Americans of the United States have carried on the East 
India trade, for more than fifteen years past, with grtater relative 
profits than the English ; those of Spanish America will have 
only a third of the distance to sail, and will navigate on cheaper 


Grenada, Tobago, Curagoa* St. Thomas', and Mar- 
tinioo, which carried on the contraband trade 
with the provinces of Venezuela. I am sure the 
smugglers carried off annually, on an average, 
more than 2,500,000 dollars in produce ; consist* 
ing of cocoa, cotton, indigo, a little cochineal, 
arnotto, woods for dying and cabinet makers, 
copper, hides, maize, salted and smoked meat and 
fish, oxen, horses, mules, a&es, monkeys, parrots, 
&c. and about six or seven hundred thousand dol- 
lars in specie, and since 1801, a small quantity of 
sugar* and coffee. There were annually export- 
ed from these provinces to Spain and Mexico,^ 
about 2,000,000 dollars in colonial produce ; 
which increases the exportations to about 5,200,000 

The official statements of the intendancy of 
Caraccas specified the importations into this 
country, including contraband trade, at only 
5,500,000 dollars, at the same period ; but those 
statements are below the truth. On an average 
from 1789, to 1807, the annual importations 
amounted to nearly 6,500,000 dollars, including 

* Ten years ago there was scarcely as much sugar made as 
sufficed the local consumption. I believe I do not exaggerate 
when I say that, on an average, every .individual poor or rich 
consumes at least one pound of it per day. It is mixed with 
almost all kinds of food and drink: ; and is indispensable for cho- 
colate, which is taken three or four times each day. 

t A great quantity of Venezuela cocoa, commonly called 
Caracca, is exported to Vera Cruz. 


smuggling. Previous to the French revolution, 
we heid half of this trade. The French mer- 
chants of Martinico, the Dutch of St. Eustacia 
and Cunujoa, the Danish of St. Thomas', and the 
Swedish of St. Bartholomew, had their share in 
this commerce ; but since the Island of Trinidad 
was taken by the British, in 1797, they have 
obtained aU the trade of that country, where 
they have established commercial connexions, 
even as far as the central point of South America, 
in Santa Fe de Bogota, capital of the kingdom 
of New Grenada, whose bishop, a dealer in hu- 
man flesh, carried on, in 1788 and 1789, the 
negro trade, in conjunction with the English 
house of Ch — t and B — u of Dominica. 



Trinidad.— Geographical Description of the Island.— Guaraouns.—- 
Their singular Mode of Living, Trade, and Habitations — Mouths 
of the Ohinoco.— -Guarapiche.— -Gulph of Paria.— Scenery.— -Port 
Spain.— Rivera of Trinidad. — Its Bays and Harbours. — Natural 
Canals. — Fish. — Mangrove Trees. — Birds.— The Asphaltum Lake. 
Its Peculiarities.— -Volcanic Remains. — Mountains. — Conjectures. 
— Las Cuevas.— Nature of the Soil' — Excavations at Guadaloupe. — 
Crater of Erin. — A new Metal. 

There is perhaps no part of the new world, 
which offers to the navigator, fatigued with the 
monotony of a sea voyage, a view at once so 
picturesque and imposing as the approach to Tri- 
nidad , placed almost at the mouth of the Orinoco, 
as a kind of barrier to restrain the impetuosity of 
its tide and currents. 

This island has the form of an irregular square. 
The Spanish geographers compare it to an ox 
hide : it is sixty British miles from east to west, 
and forty-five from north to south ; which makes 
a surface of about forty-two thousand two hundred 
square miles British. Trinidad is separated from 
the continent by the Gulf Qf Paria. The length 
of this gulf is about thirty marine leagues, while 
its greatest breadth, from north to south, is 


276 Orinoco. 

about fifteen. The second mouth of the Orinoco, 
called the Canal of Pedernalos, and a great num- 
ber of other channels formed by a multitude of 
islets, almost level with the water, all in a nor- 
thern direction, continually discharge the waters 
of that fine river into this gulf. Those waters flow 
into the ocean by two great channels, commonly 
called the Mouths of the Orinoco. 

Those isles are evidently formed by the de- 
posits of the river : although inundated during 
the rainy season, yet they are covered -with palms 
and cocoas, which, at the same time, supply the 
islanders with food, drink, a bark which they 
weave, and wood for their furniture and canoes. 
The exisfreface of the tribe of Guaraouns appears 
to be connected with that of the family of palms, 
as the fate of certain birds and butterflies depends 
on that of particular trees and flowers. 

The Guaraouns have contrived means of fix- 
ing their habitations on the palm trees: they 
choose a group of them, where the trees grow 
nearest to each other: at fifteen or twenty feet 
above high water mark they twist and weave their 
boughs to form a floor, which is then covered 
with the broad leaves. The roofs of those aerial 
huts are also covered with the leaves of the same 
tree, to whieh their canoes are fastened. Those 
Indians are in number about ten thousand : they 
are strong, tall and well made, less indolent than 
the other savages of South America, passionately 
fond of dancing, gay, social, and hospitable. 


They are not so reserved as the other savages their 
neighbours. Their soft and harmonious language is 
rich, when compared with those in their vicinity. 
The Guaraouns are expert fishers, and have dogs 
like those of the European shepherds, which they 
employ to catch fish in shallow water ; they caress 
those animals continually, and treat them with the 
greatest kindness. Their trade consists in fish, 
nets, hammocks, and baskets : they are at peace 
with all the world, even with the Spanish govern- 
ment, which has, for a long time past, renounced 
the project of subjugating them. I had frequent 
means of observing this little nation: while among 
them I often thought myself existing in- the days 
of Astrea: their society is a continual scene of 
peace, abundance, gaiety, and concord. I some- 
times regretted that old recollections, and social 
habits, did not permit me to settle among them, 
and they are the only savage tribe who ever in- 
spired me with that desire. 

The Eastern mouth of the Orinoco was named 
the Serpent's Mouth by the great Columbus: it 
is about three leagues wide. In the middle, be- 
tween the island and the continent, is an islet of 
the most wild appearance, called the Soldier ; it 
is the resort of sea birds, of which innumerable 
swarms obscure the horizon at sunrise and sunset. 
The northern mouths or channels, called the 
Dragon's Mouths, are formed by four Islets, 
which are placed at almost equal distances be- 
■ tween the island and the continent. The Islet 


of Chacachacarreo forms the principal mouth, 
with Cape de Paria opposite. Such is the name 
which Columbus found given to this tongue of 
land, where the province of Guiana or of the 
Orinoco begins: this is separated from that of 
Cumana or New Andalusia, by the Guarapiche, 
which is not a branch of the Orinoco, as was for- 
merly supposed. This river is formed of different 
streams which have their sources in the mountains 
of Bergantin, and in the Mesas (small plains, some- 
what elevated) of Amana, Guanipa, and Tororo, 
only a few leagues in a direct line from the coast 
of the gulf. At the place of its confluence 
with the Arco, this river is from forty to sixty 
fathoms deep. The Horquetta (the confluence of 
two rivers in Spanish), where the Guarapiche 
is so deep, is five leagues from, the sea. The Arco 
is sixteen fathoms deep at Puerto San Juan, which 
is at twenty-five leagues from the ocean. 

Antiquaries and oriental scholars are, without 
doubt, surprised to find in those savage forests the 
word Cumana, and other words of Greek origin, 
before the arrival of Europeans; also the Indian 
word Paria, which designates in the new world 
as well a* Hindostan, a cast of people despised 
and persecuted by their neighbours. 

There are few places so salubrious, and yet so 
fertile in Southern America, as the vallies of Cape 
de Paria. Many tribes of Indians inhabit its 
coasts. Some French families took refuge there 
during the first storms of the revolution : a con- 

las euEVA*. 279 

siderable number of French colonists from Trini- 
dad, Tobago and Grenada, have also settled in the 
same neighbourhood. At first the Spanish govern- 
ment gave them a good reception ; but the beau- 
tiful plantations of cocoa, coffee, cotton, and even 
sugar manufactories which they soon formed, 
tempted the jealous avarice of some local officers 
of the government. From 1802, various pre- 
tences were invented for getting rid of, and 
plundering them. Some were driven out and sent 
away from the most contemptible motives.* 

Ships arriving at Trinidad from the windward 
islands, excepting those which go from the colonies 
situated to the west and south of the Orinoco, to 
avoid being carried to leeward, first make the 
northern coast of the island towards the port of 
Las Cuevas, so named from its caves, where the 
sea breaks witlKgreat fury. 

The entry of this gulf presents scenes both 
varied and magnificent: to the east is that ma- 
jestic river, compared to which those of Europe 
are but as rivulets ! Its waves meeting those of the 
sea, and incessantly disputing the empire of the 
gulf: to the west appear rising from thq, bosom of 
the horizon the mountains of Cumana ; and by de- 
grees, on approaching the western coast of Tri- 
nidad, you discover numerous vallies and plains 
enamelled with eternal verdure. On nearing the 

• Among others M. Isnardi, a native of Piedmont; the same, 
I believe, who is now secretary to the Congress of Venezuela. 



coast, the navigator's view is charmed by aland- 
scape covered with various plantations, and diversi- 
fied by meandering rivers and rivulets which water 
it. A strange and sometimes grotesque medley 
of white, copper colour and black men, animate 
this scene. Whilst the numerous canoes of Caribs 
and Guaraouns skim the gulf in every direction, 
the traveller sees and hears the negroes working 
and singing in cadence : troops of monkeys 
jumping from tree to tree, and swinging them- 
selves while suspended from the branches by their 
tails:* innumerable flocks of magnificent birds 
enliven the scene, by the beauty and variety of 
their colours. The shores continually resound 

* Travellers have not exaggerated, when they asserted that a 
particular class of apes, who hfcve a great dread of the water, 
when obliged to cross a stream, climb up the nearest tree to the 
bank, and form a chain by hanging from the tails of each 
other. If the river is not wide, the whole string of animals swing 
backward and forwards until the lowest alights on the opposite 
bank, when he who is uppermost slides down the tree, and they 
are immediately pulled over by the one to whom the post of honour 
had been assigned. It should be remarked that as fast as the lat- 
ter's companions are drawn to land, they assist him in dragging 
the others to the bank. This very singular practice, which has 
frequently amused me, is accompanied with howlings, cries, and 
grimaces, sufficient to frighten any one not accustomed to the 
neighbourhood of those living caricatures of our species. 

It is equally true that this most mischievous tribe invariably 
place centinels whenever they halt, particularly when employed 
on a foraging excursion : this fact I have ascertained to my cost, 
having often surprized bodies of them pillaging my fields of maize 
in Trinidad. 


with the songs of some and the screeching of 
others : at the end of this smiling plain, rises the 
northern mountains, like an amphitheatre, their 
summits crowned with the noble trees of the 
tropics, above which the palm, waving its lofty 
head, attracts the thunder, and forces the clouds 
to depose their waters at its feet, from whence 
precipitating in cascades and torrents, they form 
rivulet? and streams.* 

Thus the Gulf of Paria is formed by the wes- 
tern shore of Trinidad, and the opposite coast of 
Cumana. Ships may anchor all over the gulf, 
in from three to six fathom water, and on ground 
of gravel and mud. 

The principal ports of the island are, the Har- 
bour of Chagaramus, situated at the entrance 
of the northern mouths, three leagues west of 
Port Spain. It is capable of receiving the largest . 
ships of war, having from four to forty fathoms 
depth, and a bottom of gravel and mud : its 
shores are bold and steep. It was in this port, the 
best and safest of the colony, that Rear-admiral 
Apodaca burnt his squadron, when that under 
Admiral Harvey conveying the military force 
commanded by Sir Ralph Abercrombie appeared 
off the island in 1797. 

The Carenage is not so good a port, not hav- 
ing more than from two to four fathoms, ren- 

* It is well known that these palms serve as eleotrical conduc- 


dering it only fit for small vessels of war and 

Gaspard Grande, is an islet within the mouths, 
where the Spanish ships of war anchored some- 
times under the useless protection of a battery, 
placed there to defend the entrance of the 
mouths, and which, by its bad position, is not 
calculated for defence. 

Port Spain is situated in the western part of 
the island, and gives its name to the capital. 
Besides several quays which belong to individuals, 
this town has a very fine one of stone, which 
runs several hundred yards into the sea, and is 
defended by a battery. The hills which com- 
mand the town have been fortified by the pre- 
sent possessors of the island. Next to Chaga- 
ramus, it is the best port in Trinidad, and oite 
of the most safe and extensive bays in the world. 

All the western coast of the island is a series 
of bays, where vessels may anchor in safety at 
all times. The most important place, after Port 
Spain, is that of Annaparima. On this ground, 
which in 1791, presented only a marsh and fish- 
ing hamlet, the English have built a fine town, 
where a considerable trade is carried on. 

The principal rivers, and which are navigable 
in the western part of the island, are the Caroni, 
Chagtianas, Barrancones, Couva, Guaracara, and 

The Caroni is navigable from its mouth in the 
gulf, to its junction with the Aripo, which makes 

RIVERS. 283 

a distance of about six leagues. The Oripo is 
also navigable. If a canal were cut between this 
river and the Oropuche, which discharges itself 
on the eastern coast, where navigation and 
anchorage are very difficult, whenever the winds 
are northerly or eastwardly, a safe communica- 
tion might be established between that interest- 
ing part of the island, and the gulf. The fertile 
grounds which lie between those two rivers will 
remain uncultivated until this work is executed. 

The Guanaba, another river that flows into 
the Caroni, is navigable, but has less water than 
the Aripo. There are several other streams in 
the western part of the island, which being na- 
vigable for canoes and wherries, afford to the 
colonists established there, great facilities for the 
cultivation of their lands and the transport of 
their produce : they are also very abundant in 
fish. Though the northern and eastern coasts 
a^e well furnished with rivers, they are not 
equally so with ports and roadsteads. 

There are numerous shoals on the northern 
coast from Maqueribe to the mouth of the river 
Ellebranche : it is almost every where perpendi- 
cular, excepting at the openings of numerous lit- 
tle vallies which are irrigated by fine rivers, or 
rivulets of pure and crystalline water. If it be 
considered that the winds blow three fourths of 
the year from the east and north, it may be 
readily imagined how very precarious and diffi- 
cult the coasting trade is on those shores* But 

284 ports. 

this is an inconvenience to which Trinidad is 
subject, in common with all the islands of the 
American archipelago. To the northward, the 
principal ports are Maqueribe and Las Cuevas, 
where Fort Abercrombie is situated. This fort, 
and that of Maqueribe, were defended in 1807, 
by batteries of twelve and twenty-four pounders, 
for the purpose of protecting British merchant- 
men against the depredations of French priva- 
teers. To the north-east are the ports of Rio 
Grande, Toco, and Cumana. At the east is Ba- 
landra Bay, or Boat Island ; where safe anchor- 
age may be found at all times for coasters that 
draw no more than five or six feet water. Fur- 
ther eastward are Guias Creek and Mayaro Bay. 

Guaiguaire is the safest port in the eastern part 
of the island, because it is sheltered by a point of 
land against the easterly wind, and its entrance 
is only exposed to the south winds, which are 
neither frequent nor violent on those coasts. •* 

This part of the island has very fine rivers 
which are navigable for small craft; the principal 
are, Rio Grande, Oropuche, and Nariva, or Mi tan, 
as it is called by the Creoles, because it runs 
through a plain of cocoa trees, forming a forest 
which is one of the natural beauties of the 
island : it really presents an enchanting spectacle 
to the navigator who arrives from Europe, and 
has not yet witnessed the majestic state of vegeta- 
tion in the equinoctial regions. In running down 
the coast this forest presents the form of a crescent. 


During the revolutionary war of the United 
States, the Count d'Estaing, who always acted as 
the father of his seamen and soldiers, employed 
a boat constantly on this coast for collecting 
cocoa nuts, which were distributed among the 
ship's companies of his squadron : this wise mea- 
sure preserved them from the ravages of scurvy. 
The chronicles of the country state, that in the 
year 1730, a boat laden with cocoa nuts from the 
Guaraouns' islets was wrecked on this coast, and 
that the waves having thrown them on shore they 
gradually multiplied. 

Guatavo, which the French, who always man- 
gle the names of places, have called Ortoir river, 
has been improperly deemed the most consider- 
able of those to windward of the island, on the 
report of an ignorant French emigrant land sur- 
veyor, who, whilst he lived, enjoyed the reputation 
of an able engineer. He made a bad copy of the 
beautiful map of this island, by the unfortunate 

Cosmo de Churucca. The map of M , of 

which that of Faden is only a copy, still more 
incorrect, places hills where there are marshes, 
&c. Some of his errors were voluntary, if we 
may believe many who were deceived by them. 
As it is rather frequent for British speculators to 
purchase land in the new world on the faith of 
maps and plans, and that grounds in the neigh- 
bourhood of navigable rivers are of a considerable 
comparative value, some of those speculators, 
called land jobbers, charmed with the beauty of 


the river Guatavo as represented by M and 

Faden, bought considerable lots of it. 

I am certain that excepting for a few hundred 
yards from its mouth, the Guatavo is not navigable, 
unless for small boats ; yet M in the explana- 
tion of his map, positively says that it is navigable 
as far as Morne Rouge, which would be almost 
to its source, thus making a distance of six 

According to the observations of Captain Co- 
lumbine, one of the best hydrographers in the 
British navy, this river ceases to be navigable for 
vessels that draw more than five feet water four 
miles from the entrance. When that able officer 
surveyed the northern and eastern coasts of this 
island, he observed another error of a contrary 
kind by the land surveyor already noticed, and 
who had made the river Nariva much smaller than 
the Guatavo. Captain Columbine sailed up to its 
source, for seven leagues and a half inland, and 
found it navigable as far as three quarters of a 
league from its source, for vessels of two and three 

hundred tons. M has marked two natural 

canals between the rivers Nariva and Guatavo in 
his map, whilst in reality there exists but one. 
The cause of this error is, that during the heavy 
rains in winter, the floods create several communis 
cations between these two rivers, which are on the 
same level. 

This is one of those effects that Trinidad pos- 
sesses in common with the neighbouring continent. 


The most able geographers had treated the natu- 
ral canals which establish a communication be- 
tween the Orinoco and Amazons as a chimera. 
At present no one will attempt to deny the asser- 
tion, since M. de Humboldt has sailed from one 
of those rivers into the other. Before the repu- 
tation of that learned traveller had placed this 
important fact of physical geography beyond all 
doubt, boats were often seen to go from San 
Carlos on the Rio Negro, to San Thom£ de An- 
gostura. The coast and plain of Mayarb are low 
and unhealthy; but to the south, those of Guai- 
quaire, present a magnificent amphitheatre, and a 
landscape at once smiling, fertile, and salubrious. ' 
Further south is the fine river Moruga, the 
banks and vicinity of which abound in logwood* 
The shores and mouths of those rivers are full 
of rounded pebbles, whilst they are very rare 
near those on the western coast. Nevertheless, 
in the interior, the same rivers that discharge 
themselves on the western coast, have many and 
very handsome pebbles. I found one of them, 
among others, which embarrassed me extremely: 
it was red, having the colour of burnt brick, and 
is sometimes as hard. Those rivers on the 
eastern coast, especially that of Moruga, produce 
abundance of excellent oysters, which attach 
themselves to the stems and branches of mangrove 
trees. There is not another island of the new 
world, Which, in proportion to its size, possesses 
so many navigable rivers as Trinidad. Amongst 

288 sea cow. 

the variety of fish on this coast, one of the most 
remarkable is the Squalus Zygaena : it is about 
twelve feet long and thick in proportion. Its 
eyes are large and terrifying, the head has the 
shape of a hammer ; its mouth and the three rows 
of teeth are still better adapted for biting than 
those of the common shark, which it greatly 
resembles in other respects. 

Another, very like the codfish, is also common, 
and as dangerous as the former. One day when 
near the mouth of the Oropicbe with two engi- 
neers, our Indian fishermen took one which had 
the head of a negro in its maw. I need scarcely 
say that we declined tasting this prize, the Indians 
showed the same repugnance ; but some of the 
negroes who accompanied us, regaled themselves 
with it, and salted what they could not devour. 
It is, however, well flavoured, and there is a great 
consumption of it in the colony. 

The sea cow (trichecus manati) is amphibious, 
and often found in pairs, with their young, browz- 
ing out of the water on the marine plants in the 
plain of cocoa trees. They usually weigh from 
one thousand to eleven hundred pounds. It is 
asserted that they are found in the Orinoco of 
eighteen hundred pounds weight. Its flesh re- 
sembles that of the hog, is good for eating either 
fresh or salted, while its grease is used like lard. 

Trinidad has marshes which the Spaniards call 
lagunas, and the Creoles lagons, in the vicinity 
of the principal rivers. They produce abundance 


of mangrove trees : this is the rhizophora mangle 
of Jaquin, the wood of which is excellent for build* 
ings. In the dry season these marshes become 
aavanas, on which cattle are turned out, and 
where great quantities of game are found. There 
are also an abundance of land tortoises of various 
kinds, whose flesh is both delicate and nourishing. 
Those savanas abound in marine birds, grey par- 
tridges, water hens, flamingoes, and white wood- 
cocks, the flesh of which is as delicate as that of 
the European woodcock. It is difficult to form an 
idea of the innumerable quantities of wild ducks 
that frequent the rivers: they are sometimes 
taken in such numbers, as to be sold for fivepence 
each at Port Spain. I know of three species of 
them, without including teal. The largest re- 
semble the Indian duck, the second our common 
duck, and the third is very small with a beauti- 
ful plumage, including blue, rose coloured, yel- 
low and white, also a brilliant gold-coloured star 
in the forehead of about an inch in diameter : it is 
called Ouikiki. 

The most remarkable of those marshes is the 
asphaltum lake, which has no communication 
with the great lagoon as marked on some maps, 
This singular lake, vulgarly called the pitch lake, 
is about half a league in length, and the same in 
breadth. It is situated near the sea, and elevated 
eighty feet above its level. 

Here the coast presents a confused mixture of 
marly earths, (which marl is argillaceous,) im- 


pregnated with asphaltum. An excellent lim- 
pid and running water is found in the crevices 
of the asphaltum, as far as six feet deep, in 
which there is a great quantity of small fish. All 
these crevices called funnels, incline to a conic 
form. The bottoms of some are so liquid, that, 
when poles are thrust in to them they disappear. 
The people who inhabit the neighbourhood assured 
me, that having put marks on the pieces of wood 
thrust into the funnels, they found them again, 
a few days afterwards on the sea shore. I saw 
several pieces of wood in the lake completely 
changed into bitumen: in one of the funnels I 
found the trunk of a large tree, which perfectly 
retained its round shape. I caused it to be sawed ; 
when it was observed to be completely impreg- 
nated with petroleum. 

I have also seen the same phenomenon in the 
provinces of New Barcelona and Cumana, near 
the Lake of Cariaco ; and various parts of those 
regions where the currents of the sea have formed 
large masses of vegetable substances. 

There is no phenomenon which offers more 
variety and mobility than the surface of the as- 
phaltum lake. Here are seen groups of shrubs ; 
there tufts of wild pine-apples and aloes. Among 
those shrubs and flowers, swarms of magnificent 
butterflies, and brilliant humming birds seek their 
food, enlivening a scene which, if it were de- 
prived of animals and vegetables, would present 
an exact image of Tartarus. Where an islet of 


several feet diameter had been seen in the even- 
ing, there is often nothing to be found the next 
morning but a gulf m which it has been swallowed 
up ; whilst on the side of it has arisen another 
island, that will soon be covered with vegeta- 

Not far from the borders of the laker, among 
the beautiful plantations and fine forests that sur- 
round it, is found petroleum mixed with the 
earth, which it tends greatly to fertilize. The best 
and finest fruits of the colony come from that 
district ; its pine-apples, in particular, are less 
fibrous, larger, more aromatic, and of a deeper 
golden colour than any where else. South of Cape 
delaBrea,is a pit or submarine volcano, which the 
sea causes to boil up, and discharge a considerable 
quantity of petroleum. 

In the eastern part of the island, and Bay of 
M ayaro, is another volcano, which in the months 
of March and June every year, produces some 
detonations, with a noise resembling that of a 
cannon or thunder. This noise is succeeded by 
flames and smoke which rise from the abyss, and 
some minutes afterwards the waves throw on 
shore pieces of bitumen, aa black and brilliantas 
jet* By mixing this asphaltum in proper pro- 
portions with tallow and linseed oil, a kind of 
tar is made fit for caulking ships, and which has 
the inestimable property of preserving them from 
the corrosions of the sea-worm* Since 1805, the 
English have employed it very successfully for 

u 2 


that purpose. The island produces sufficient to 
caulk thousands of ships every year. 

An inhabitant of the south informed me, in 
1799, that some sportsmen, who lost their way in 
the forests of Point Icacos, assured him they had 
discovered a volcano behind the Renusson Planta- 
tion, in the midst of the lake which is in the neigh- 
bourhood. I employed one of those sportsmen 
to conduct me to the place, where we arrived 
after a journey of three hours. 

At length, we reached the summit of a hill 
of argillaceous clay : at the top, and around this, 
are a great number of little mounds, one or two 
feet high : the tops of those cones are truncated 
and open ; they are so many vents which exhale 
a gas, smelling like sulphurated hydrogen. On 
the most elevated part of this hill is a cone of 
about six feet high, pierced from the summit to 
its base like the others, which continually dis- 
charges a whitish matter that has the taste of alum. 
Although a sound is heard, which indicates that 
the fluid is in a state of agitation, and it continu- 
ally evaporates globules of an elastic fluid, the 
scum at the orifice of the cone is cold. I could 
not touch the bottom of this pit with four poles 
tied together strongly at the ends, and which 
measured sixty feet ; having let them go suddenly, 
they disappeared. 

Though there is neither stone nor sand in the 
circumference of a league from it, I found plenty 
round the hill, as also handsome rounded pebbles 


and small calcareous stones, to which sulphurous 
particles of a prismatic form adhered. 

After having visited this species of Solfatara, I 
passed over another marsh of mangroves, conti- 
guous to the former. Near this second marsh is 
another hillock : it has not so many vents as the 
preceding, but its top presents a circular cavity, 
somewhat shallow, and full of a boiling liquid, 
having the taste of alum. A dull and subterra- 
neous sound is heard, and while on the spot the 
earth trembled under our feet. Two poles which 
I drove forcibly into the crater, disappeared in an 

Recovered from* my weariness, I again visited 
very attentively the second hillock. Near its 
vents, and among the sand, I found some fine 
crystals of sulphate of copper, incfusted in the 
alum : not far from thence, returning to the 
shore, I found in the sand some laminated gyp- 
sum, the fraueneis of Werner. 

The colonists who inhabit the neighbourhood of 
this pretended volcanic crater, assured me unani- 
mously, that every year, in the month of March, 
they hear several detonations, the noise of which 
resembles that of a cannon at a distance. This 
crater is encompassed with marshes of mangroves 
which communicate with the sea.* 

* Near Carlhagena, there are little cones which have openings 
on their tops. Those openings are full of water, through which 
pass bubbles of azotic gas. 


In 1801 I discovered schistous plumbago.; 
which is a mine of sea-coal, from whence petro- 
leum exudes to the foot of the hill occupied by 
the Mission of Monserrat, at a distance of about 
two leagues from the sea* 


The Island of Trinidad has a range of moun- 
tains to the north, a group of hills to the south, 
and another in the centre, of which the most ele- 
vated point is called Mount Tamana, supposed to 
be the highest in the island* It is very difficult 
to penetrate through those of the centre and 
south, owing to the prickly palms (Mattricia 
aculeate,) thorns and points of other trees. There 
is a small lake near the top of Tamana. A sports- 
man assured me that its water is salt, but I do not 
warrant the truth of his account. 

During the time I resided in this island, I was 
never able to procure good instruments for mea- 
suring the heights of its mountains : yet accord- 
ing to some barometrical observations, which I am 
far from considering exact, I believe that the 
most elevated of the northern mountains is about 
three thousand feet above the level of the sea. 

The highest summits of the northern range are 
near the sea. Those mountains, as well as the 
coast range of Cumana, differ from the Caribbean 
Islands or Lesser Antilles, in many respects, par- 


ticularly their form, position, the openings of their 
vallies, and constitutive principles. 

The mountains of Grenada, St. Lucia, Marti- 
nico, Dominica, Guadaloupe, St. Christopher, 
and other Caribbean Islands, which I have visited, 
are all situated in the centre of those islands, and 
their chain declines, as they approach the sea. 
Those islands and their mountains affect a direc- 
tion of east and west, whilst the Apalachian run 
from N. N. W. to S. S. W. The nucleus of the 
Caribbean mountains, wherever I have been Able 
to judge from their sides when washed bare by the 
sea, .has appeared to be granite surmounted with 
prismatic basalt. The basalts of Grenada are the 
best characterized. There, as every where else, 
this rock rises in twin mountains, of which the 
tops are truncated. Those mountains are of an 
order equally superior to those of Trinidad, by 
their constituent principles and elevations. All 
these islands have volcanoes, either in activity or 

It is worthy of remark that the earthquakes 
which i^ere felt so violently in Guadaloupe and 
Antilles, on the night between the 26th and 27th 
of September, 1797, were not perceived either at 
Trinidad or in the province of Cumana ; but 
when, sometime afterwards, violent earthquakes 
desolated that province, they were felt, though 
slightly, at Trinidad, but not in the Antilles. 

When, in 1799 and 1800, 1 formed geological 
comparisons between Trinidad and the Caribbean 


Islands, I merely intended to have ascertained tire 
facts according to the ingenious theory of Doctor 
Hutton, so ably defended by the learned Playfair. 
But when I began to reflect independently of all 
system, the Antilles appeared to me as being vol- 
canic, whilst Trinidad and Tobago, on the con- 
trary, seemed Neptunian, and more recently risen 
from the waters, as well as the coast mountains of 
Cumana, of which they are only a continuation. 

A treatise of M. de Humboldt, entitled " Frag- 
ments of a Geological Table of South America," 
inserted in a French periodical journal, came into 
my possession at Trinidad, about the end of 1806. 
I soon after undertook a voyage to the provinces 
of the Orinoco, New Andalusia and Cumana ; and 
having traversed those countries with M. Hum- 
boldt's treatise in my band, the greater part of my 
ideas were changed. 

Every thing denotes that Trinidad and Tobago 
are merely an amputation of the left bank of the 
Orinoco, and that this separation has been caused 
by an irruption of the sea. The same strata of 
earth, the same rocks, fossils, vegetables and ani- 
mals are peculiar to both regions* 

The chain of mountains in the north of Trini- 
dad runs east and west ; which is the direction of 
the mountains on the coast of Cumana. I have 
already said that the most elevated summits are 
those of the mountains nearest the sea: their 
nucleus is a very dense argillaceous schistus. 

This schirtus becomes lamellated, and the mora 


friable as it is exposed to the air. I observed that 
the inferior layers, and those near the beds of 
rivers, change to micaceous schistus. The rivers 
which have their sources in the northern chain, 
and that run towards the north, pass over beds 
of this schistus, in the interstices of_ which are 
found a great quantity of sulphureous pyrites in 
cubic chrystals. 

The schistous chain of Paria and Cumana, 
parallel to the granitic chain of the Caribbean 
Islands, is thus co-ordinate to the system of Pal- 
las, who believed he had observed that granitic 
are always bordered with schistous mountains. 
M. de Humboldt had observed long since, that 
there exists a certain regularity in the inclination 
and direction of the strata, that this inclination 
never depends on the exterior inequalities of the 
soil, and that the layers are oftenest parallel to a 
very distant chain of mountains. 

The observations of this learned man oa the 
Andes, on the schistous mountains of Cumana, 
Cuba, St. Domingo and Jamaica, when compared 
to the direction of the Caribbean islands, properly 
so called, and the Apalachian, show that he saw 
through a most curious law of nature. 

The mountain of Las Cuevas is the place where 
the geological constitution of Trinidad can best 
be studied. On one of the first steps of the am- 
phitheatre, upon which Fort Abercrombieis situat- 
ed, the waves have hollowed out a kind of cavern. 
The stone which I detached from it at the water's 


edge, is amphibolic scbistus, very pure and hand- 
some, similar to that with which the streets of 
San Thome de Angostura are paved. On this 
basis repose the strata of argillaceous schistus on 
which is superimposed a layer of more than twenty 
feet of quart zose gravel, and at last the vegetative 

I have often been in canoes the whole length 
of the coast, from Point Galera as far as Port 
Spain, but I never observed the hornblende schis- 
tus, except at the foot of the mountain of Las 
CJuevas and on a level with the sea. In other 
places there was only to be seen at the entrances 
* of the valiies a quartzose free stone in strata, 
broken and heaped up in those spots most battered 
by the waves. Many of these pieces of quartz 
contain magnetic iron. Though the sea throws 
a great many madrepores on the shore, they have 
not formed banks, at least so far as I could dis- 
cover. I do not think the true coral exists oh 
this part of the South American coast. 

Las Cuevas with its two summits form four 
delightful vallies, watered by numerous rivulets. 
The valley at the north-east bears the name of Las 
Cuevas. Between the two tops is a noble plat- 
form, and the most singular position in the 
island. When you reach the summit the sea is 
wen both to the east and west. Prom this plat- 
form there are descents to the vallies of St. 
Joseph and Santa Cruz to the south-west, and 
into those of Las Cuevas and Maraccas to the 


north-east. In those four vallies, and their 
mountains, the geological composition of the 
country may be observed with precision, because 
their sides are in many instances washed bare by 
cascades and torrents. It was on the above plat- 
form, ornamented with shrubby heather, that 
M. de la Barrere and myself found the yew tree 
described in a former chapter. 

The precipitous sides of the mountains, washed 
by those torrents, present in certain places layers 
of a coarse argile, mixed with ferruginous-sand. 

• Though granite is never seen in any part of 
this island, Tobago, or in the interior of the 
continent, from the mouth of the Orinoco to 
Cape de Paria, there is not a hundred paces of 
the spaces between the bottom of the vallies to 
the summit of the mountains, in which may not 
be found blocks of milky quartz, of different 
sizes, and in the cracks of which beautiful pieces 
of rock chrystal are not seen : indeed I never 
saw so much of it, in an equal space as at this 
place. Those scattered quartz may derive their 
origin either from the veins of quartz, which in 
all countries traverse the argillaceous schistus, 
or the destroyed granitic mountains. I have 
often made excavations under those blocks of 
quartz, when they were too large to be moved, 
and I frequently found that they concealed a 
light layer of sulphate of lime. No doubt that 
at Trinidad, Tobago, and the coast of Paria, the 
granite is hidden by the sea, and that it serves 


for a basis, as in the rest of South America, to 
sohistus and other more recent formations. It 
is found at various distances on the coast, in 
isolated rocks, between the mouth of the' Ori- 
noco and that of the Amazons. 

In passing along the sea coast, going from 
Cedar Point to the asphaltum lake, considerable 
masses of pulverating feldspar are found on a 
rising ground, washed by the rains, near the 
mouth of the river Guapo, and on its left bank. 
This feldspar appears to be similar to that which 
M. Faujas de Saint Fond shows in his lectures, 
and which was found in the environs of Mans, on 
the AlenQon road. 

I have already said that gypsum and limestone 
are very rare in Trinidad and Tobago, though 
the great chain of the Bergantin and Guacharo 
is all calcareous. In Trinidad I know of only 
one quarry of calcareous carbonate, situated at 
the foot of a hill near Port Spain, on leaving 
the town to go to St. Joseph's ; but that rock is 
mixed with heterogeneous substances, among 
which I found veins of silex. 

Some quarries of pure calcareous carbonate are 
found in the vallies of the coast chain at Guyra, 
within the gulf, and sulphate of lime at Rio 
Carupano, in the neighbourhood of the copper 
jmines. I believe there are some also in the hills 
which command the town of Cumana. It is pro- 
bable the soil may conceal others in places where 
I have not been able to discover them. 


Reiterated and laborious researches which I 
made in the mountains of the north, and in the 
hills of the south and center, have not enabled me 
to discover any vestiges of organic bodies ; but I 
t have found them in its plains, a§ well as in those 
of Tobago and in the vallies of the maritime range 
of Cumana. There, sea shells are intermingled 
and confounded with those of fresh water, and 
many are of unknown and extinct species. 

This absence of calcareous mountains, and even 
of considerable masses of that substance, is one of 
the geological characteristics by which Trinidad, 
Tobago, and the chain of Cumana differ essentially 
from the Antilles or Caribbean Islands which have 
calcareous rocks, and even mountains in strata, in 
which are found various k kinds of agglomerated 
and petrified shells. 

Of all those calcareous rocks, the most remark- 
able and worthy of fixing the attention of natura- 
lists, is a bank of carbonate of lime, rather hard, 
on the sea shore, in the district of Moule in Gua- 

This calcareous bank is on a level with the 
sea, and covered at high water. General Ernouf 
having heard that it contained human skeletons, 
sent towards the end of 1804, M. Gerard, a natu- 
ralist of Brussels, to make excavations there. He 
extracted a block from it, in which was found a 
human skeleton perfectly encrusted in the stone, 
and completely identified with it. I was in 
Guadaloupe at that period, and ordered workmen 


to dig there for my own account: I could not 
obtain an entire skeleton, but heads, arms, legs, 
and fragments of the dorsal spine. With a suf- 
ficient number of workmen, I might have ob- 
tained complete* skeletons, and more accurately 
delineated than that of M. Gerard.* There are 
several parts of his skeleton, of which the linea- 
ments cannot be clearly distinguished without the 
assistance of a magnifying glass. I remarked that 
all those anthopolites are placed east and west, 
according to the ancient custom of the Asiatics 
and Americans. By the side of the skeletons were 
found pestles, mortars, hatchets, clubs of a basaltic 
or porphyritic stone, and instruments similar to 
those which the savages still use. Those instru- 
ments are petrified. But I found no trace nor 
the smallest vestige of organic bodies, though 
there are banks of madrepores quite near them. 

The reader will not, I hope, accuse me of devi- 
ating from my subject, to notice this calcareous 
rock in Guadeloupe. My principal object in de- 
scribing the maritime range of Cumana, has been 
to point out the difference which exists between 
the geological constitution of that chain, and 

* One of these skeletons has been lately deposited in the British 
Museum, which begins to assume a degree of importance, that 
renders it worthy of a great nation ; and with the exception of the 
few facilities afforded to those who may be desirous of profiting 
by the library, it is certainly conducted upon a very liberal prin- 
ciple—- Ed. 


those of the Antilles. If I have not accomplished 
my purpose so ahly as might have been done by 
learned geologists, it will not, I trust, be denied 
that I am the first who observed and attempted 
to explain this difference. 

I have said that no granite is found in Trinidad, 
or the neighbouring countries. On the surface of 
the soil of this island, pebbles rounded in the 
rivers which run in the vallies are found ; but, 
arriving in the plain, there are no more of them 
to be seen-. Those rivers have scarcely any de- 
scent, and run slowly across large plains of argil- 
laceous and vegetative earth. All that immense 
plain situated between the Amazons and Orinoco, 
known by the name of Lower Guiana, is equally 
destitute of stones and rounded pebbles, though it 
is watered by very large rivers, such as the Suri- 
nam, Essequibo, Demerara, &c. The modest, 
learned, and too little known Alexander Ander- 
son, of St. Vincent's, told me that he had ascended 
the Demerara two hundred English miles, with- 
out meeting a single rock or rounded pebble on 
its banks. The first stone which offered itself to 
his observation was an immense pier of granite, 
that forms one of the cataracts of that river. 

I have every reason to believe that this island 
has no mines of precious metals ; but the sight and 
the magnet discover iron in the greater part of 
its rocks and pebbles. All the colonists consider 
the gold dust mentioned by Sir Walter Raleigh 
as a fable. In spite of all the pains I took for 


ascertaining that fact, I oould not discover one 
atom of gold, silver, orplatina, and the Spanish 
government searched in vain for them during two 

An inhabitant of Port Spain once brought me a 
piece of very heavy stone, which he said he had 
found in the river when collecting pebbles for 
building. It was not necessary to examine it long 
to discover that it was arsenic with sulphurated 
bary tes for matrix. I went the next day to where 
it was found, but all the searches I made did not 
procure me a bit of that metal. 

Though my taste for natural history induced 
me to make many excursions near the crater of 
Erin, the most painful and persevering researches 
there, did not enable me to discover any other 
metallic substance than some crystals of sulphate 
of copper, encrusted with alum and among flints. 
Yet a person in the service of government showed 
me a metal that he pretended to have found there, 
and which he supposed to be silver. I did not 
see this specimen in its matrix : with great diffi- 
culty I obtained a piece that weighed rather more 
than two ounces. This metal is of a very brilliant 
white: its specific gravity is ten: melted with 
gold, it deprives it of malleability and ductility, 
and produces the same effect on silver ; at least 
unless there be three parts of silver for one of this 
metal. It appeared to a goldsmith who made 
experiments on it with me, that in this proportion 
it did not diminish the malleability of silver. It is 


not, however, very brittle. According to the 
pyrometer of Wedgwood, it requires two or 
three degrees more of heat to melt this substance 
than silver. 

M • Vauquelin, 'with whom I communicated on 
this subject, thinks it either a new metal or one 
composed of several others. 



CuMATE.-S«ason8.— Wind*.— Rain.— Rarity of Storms and Hurri- 
- canes.— State of the Thermometer.— An Experiment— Quantity of 
Rain-Jnundation of the Orinoco.- Tidrs.— Effects of increased 
Cultivation—Various Degrees of Heat.-Observationson the Effects 
of fclimate, and Precautions recommended.- Spring or fine Season. 
—Remarks.— Dews. 

Countries situated between the tropics have 
only two seasons: the dry and rainy; or the 
spring and winter. These two seasons are still 
more distinct at Trinidad than in the Antilles; 
for whatever may be the winds that prevail in 
that island, there scarcely ever falls a drop of rain 
during the spring. This is the name given in those 
regions to that part of the year which commences 
with the month of November, and concludes with 
that of April or the beginning of May. From 
the end of April the heat increases gradually ; the 
east, north-east and northerly winds become less 
cool; at the end of June the heat is greatest ; the 
storms commence, and increase in frequency until 
the months of August, September, and the be- 
ginning of October, when they occur daily, and 
are accompanied with torrents of ram. Nothing is 


more curious for an European, than the manner 
in which a storm forms in this climate. The air 
is calm, not a zephyr agitates it ; Reaumur's ther- 
mometer is in the shade, at twenty-three, twenty- 
four, or twenty-five degrees, ascending as the 
atmosphere is more calm. The sky is clear, 
azure, and without a cloud. Suddenly there is 
seen forming in one part of the heavens a small 
grey point, which, in four or five minutes increases 
and becomes a large black cloud ; at first lightnings 
issue from this cloud; those soon become more 
considerable ; a minute afterwards the barometer 
descends suddenly one or two lines ; the thunder 
rolls, and in an instant a torrent of rain falls in 
large drops. Those showers generally last only 
a few minutes, seldom half an hour ; scarcely has 
the rain ceased, than the atmosphere remains as 
calm, and the sky as serene as before. It rains 
thus fifteen or twenty times a day during the 
winter, and a moment afterwards, it scarcely 
seems that there had been rain. There is seldom 
any fall of rain in the night, but a heavy shower 
without wind usually precedes sunrise by half an 
hour, during the season. 

I have very rarely observed in the atmosphere of 
Trinidad,and the countries of the sea-coast, between 
the left bank of the Orinoco and the vallies of 
Comana and Caraccas, that conflict of winds and 
clouds so remarkable in the turbulent climate of 
the Antilles and the Gulf of Mexico, when, during 

x 2 

308 HEAT. 

the winter, the westerly winds chacing and over- 
turning the inferior clouds, against their usual 
course, producing those gusts of wind which have 
so often desolated that archipelago. Hurricanes 
are unknown in Trinidad, Tobago, and the adja- 
cent continent. 

It is very remarkable that Grenada, the most 
southward of the Antilles, and only thirty leagues 
from the continent, is as much subject to squalls 
of wind as the other Antilles. It is equally sin- 
gular that the island of Tobago, which, like 
Trinidad, is situated to the east of the coast range, 
has never experienced a hurricane. 

The barometer varies, in the eastern part of 
the island, from twenty-seven inches ten lines to 
twenty-eight inches ; and in the western part, 
where the atmosphere is still more regular, these 
variations are not sure indications of fine or bad 
weather. However, a violent storm coming 
from the south or south-west, is generally an- 
nounced by a sudden fall of several lines. I have 
already said that the heat constantly increases 
from the end of April to the month of June, 
and that it remains almost stationary from that 
month until the middle of October, also that 
it begins to diminish simultaneously with the 
storms and rains. 

I made use of Farenheit's thermometer: it 
stood usually during that season, at Port Spain, 
in the morning before sunrise, at 78° to 80° ; from 


sunrise to sunset at 84° to 86° ; in the evening it 
generally fell to 82° ; sometimes, when the wea- 
ther was very stormy in the months of August and 
September, and the air was saturated with humi- 
dity, it rose as high as 90°. In the space of nine 
years I have seen it only twice at 93% which 
was the 2d of September, 1798, and the 21st of 
October, 1799, days on which earthquakes were 

When during winter there is wind with the 
rain during the night, the mornings are less hot, 
and whenever the rain is preceded by violent 
claps of thunder during the day, which is gene- 
rally the case in that season, the evenings are 
not so hot. When the rain is neither preceded 
by thunder nor followed by wind, the atmo- 
sphere is heavy and the heat violent. Finally, in 
a few leagues circumference, the heat varies seve- 
ral degrees, according to the elevation of the 
place above the level of the sea, and its exposure : 
this difference is especially perceptible in the 

The hygrometrical constitution of Trinidad 
experiences great variations from one season to 
another. During the rainy season, the hygro- 
meter is usually between 85° and 90° ; but in the 
spring it remains generally between 36° and 38° 
in the day time, and 60° at night. 

There falls at Trinidad annually on an average 
about sixty-two inches of water during the win- 
ter, and about eight or nine inches* in the spring, 

310 DEW*, 

including the dews*; for it scarcely ever rains from 
the end of December until the end of May. Hav- 
ing said that the rains diminish with the storms 
and the heat, from the end of October, I should add 
that those October rains are very gentle ; in No- 
vember, when the cool season begins, they become 
every day less frequent and more slight. From 
the end of December until the beginning of June, 
of some years, there does not fall a drop of water 
during the day. 

The old people in Trinidad assert that it rained 
much more previous to the year 1783, in which 
the draining and clearing the lands commenced. 
It is certain- that the river San Joseph, which 
runs into the Caroni, was navigable thirty years 
ago, as far as below the town. And I, who 
frequented or inhabited the island for about fif- 
teen years, have remarked that the rivers which 
run towards the west, had much less water in 
1806 than in 1791, whilst those of the east and 

* Struck with the quantity of dew that falls every night at 
Trinidad, in December, 1799, I placed on a plank, in my sa- 
vanna, fifty sponges each night, from the 2d of December to the 
1st of May, 1800; every morning I wrung out the water which 
had been absorbed by the sponges, and I caused to be evaporated 
in a oucurbite what might have remained in them. I put this 
water in large bottles, and emptied it from time to time into the 
bucket which served for measuring the rain ; and I believe, as 
did also a person who assisted me to make this experiment, how- 
ever clumsy it was, that the dew which had fallen in those five 
months, was equal to six inches of rain. 


north appear not to be diminished; no doubt 
because the clearing and cultivation have not 
destroyed the forests there, as in the western 

The vicinity of the humid continent of Gui- 
ana explains why the falls of rain are as great 
at Trinidad as in Martinico, Guadaloupe, and 
the greater part of the Antilles, which have ra r 
ther large mountains in all their length, the di- 
rection of which seems to have been regulated 
according to the predominant winds, and whose 
pointed summits act as conductors to the atmo- 
spheric electricity attracting its vapours. Trini- 
dad, on the contrary, has a chain of mountains 
but little elevated, on its northern coast, a group 
of hills towards the center, and a chain of downs 
on the south-west coast. The tops of those hills 
are flat or rounded, though generally their sides 
are more steep than those of the mountains of 
Martinico and the Caribbean Islands. 

With the rainy season begins the inundation of 
the Orinoco, which continues increasing from the 
end of April to the end of August. In Septem- 
ber its waters are at their greatest height : it has 
then risen from thirty-nine to forty-one feet above 
its level when the waters are lowest. Its banks 
are covered, and the chief part of the Guaraouns 
islets are immersed. In October the river begins 
to decrease regularly, until the month of March, 
when its waters are at the lowest ebb ; those fluc- 
tuations are regular and invariable. 


" During the five months in which the increase 
of the river continues," says Raynal, " the hemi- 
sphere of the new world presents seas only, and 
scarcely any land to the perpendicular action of 
the sun's rays : during the six months following 
the decrease of the river, the immense continent 
of America alone presents itself to the same action ; 
the sea is then less subject to the active influence 
of the sun, or its movement to the eastern side 
is counter-balanced and interrupted in a greater 
degree by the land; it ought, in consequence, to 
leave a greater liberty to the course of rivers, 
which in that case, not being so much counter- 
acted by the sea, can be increased only by the 
melting of the snow on the Southern Cordilleras, 
or by the rains. It is, perhaps, also the increase 
of the rains which determines that of the Orinoco, 
as Gumila, who seems to have observed this phe- 
nomenon, attentively supposes. When an en- 
lightened nation," continues Raynal, " shall have 
studied the shores of the Orinoco, the phenome- 
non of its increase will be investigated as it de- 
serves to be." 

It appears to me that this phenomenon might 
be explained in a most satisfactory manner. The 
rains are not the first and only cause of the in- 
crease of the Orinoco ; it increases obviously 
before the commencement of the rains, and the 
melting of the snows in the Cordilleras of Bo- 
gota, and the ranges of mountains proceeding from 
them, is no doubt the principal cause. 



The tides are neither very perceptible or re- 
gular on the coast from Cape de Paria, outside 
the gulf which bears that name, to Cape de la 
Vela* This is not the case in going from Cape de 
Paria towards the mouth of the Amazons. I 
have not been able to make observations suffici- 
ently exact and minute, to determine the height 
of the tides and their periods. Still the configura- 
tion of the coasts, and the resistance which they 
oppose to the sea* and the waters which run in 
the immense rivers of South America, greatly mo- 
dify the action of the tides. They rise to six or 
seven feet in the Gulf of Paria during the equi- 
noxes; and in the same times, the Guarapiche 
may be ascended from the Horquetta as far as 
San Bonifacio, by aid of a tide that raises the 
water as much as six feet. But at San Thome 
de Angostura, on the Orinoco, the tide scarcely 
rises ten inches. 

M • de Humboldt depicts the dry season as a 
horrible time in Guiana, and the commencement 
of the rainy season as the regeneration of nature. 
His " Pictures of Nature," written with energy 
and eloquence, should be read in order to form 
an idea of the return of vegetable nature on the 
recurrence of the rains ; when a kind of resurrec- 
tion of crocodiles and monstrous reptiles seems 
to take place. The anxiety and ardour with which 
multitudes of horses, oxen, wild asses and fero- 
cious animals come panting from the burning 


desart, to quench their thirst on the return of the 
rains is truly singular. I have seen those animals 
bound and plunge into the marshes with so much 
avidity, and drink such a quantity of water, that 
from an appearance of extreme leanness, they 
seemed to become as it were dropsical, and died 
floating on the water in a few hours. 

The effect is, however, different in some parts 
of Guiana : in those which are fanned and refreshed 
by the sea breezes, the dry season or spring is a 
delightful period, while, on the contrary, the 
rainy season is hotter and less healthy. Such is the 
climate of Cayenne, Surinam, Berbice, Demerara, 
Essequibo, of the countries situated between this 
river and the Orinoco, and from the Orinoco, con- 
tinuing along the coast, as far as the lake or Medi- 
terranean of Maracaybo. Before Dutch Guiana, 
and Demerara were cleared, says Bolingbroke, 
who has given a very interesting description of 
those places, torrents of rain used to fall. Since 
cultivation has increased the seasons are more 
regular, and the rains less abundant. They have 
two wet and two dry seasons. The first take place 
during December, January and February, after-, 
wards in June, July, and August. The rest of the 
year composes the dry seasons. In the rainy 
season the thermometer is in general lower than 
in the others. The land winds prevail, and are 
deemed unwholesome; musquitos fill the apart- 
ments and are very annoying ; to such a degree, 
indeed, that the planter who clears a new planta- 


tion, is obliged to live in smoke, in order to obtain 
some repese at night : the sting of those insects 
and their buzzing are insupportable, while the 
remedy of the smoke is no less so. It is known that 
by burning camphor most insects are destroyed: 
it was in Sweden this t experiment was first tried* 
Perhaps that drug ought to be substituted, or some 
other vapour equally destructive. The dry sea- 
son, says the same writer, in speaking of the colo- 
nies of Demerara and Essequibo, is most beau- 
tiful ; an azure sky continues the whole day, and 
at the east even from four o'clock in the morning, 
occasioned by a slow and gradual twilight. In 
the evening at six o'clock the sun sets in an in- 
stant, and leaves the whole country in sudden 
darkness. This difference, which is very striking, 
proceeds probably from the sun rising over the 
sea, where its rays traverse a humid and very 
cooling atmosphere, whilst, on the contrary, it 
sets behind high mountains, the shadow of which 
has defined limits. The greatest heat, which is 
from seven to ten o'clock in the morning, can 
hardly be borne : at ten o'clock the sea breeze 
commences, and restores nature to life: it in- 
creases until evening, and diminishes towards ten 
o'clock at night. 

It is in the month of August that the hurricanes 
begin in the West Indies, but Guiana is little 
exposed to that scourge; it is there limited to a 
few gusts of wind, which merely overthrow some 
fields of plantains or bananas. Clouds accumulate 


to the south, thunder roars, and towards the close 
of the day some lightnings flash in the horizon 
to the south or south-westward. 

The length of the days is thirteen hours, and 
increases to fourteen. Little variation is observed 
during the year ; otherwise the climate presents 
more variety than might be supposed. During 
the dry season, which is considered the warmest, 
the thermometer, near the sea, varies from 84° to 
90° of Farenheit. Twenty miles in the interior, 
at the hottest time of the year, it seldom passes 80°, 
and at night it descends to 50° or 60°. 

The mornings are extremely cool, and accom- 
panied with very heavy dews. This circumstance, 
joined to the stagnant waters and marshy plains, 
renders the interior of the country very insalu- 
brious to Europeans. The natives, on the con- 
trary, by the effect of habit, enjoy very good 
health, and are subject to few diseases. This 
climate has often been called unhealthy, but I have 
not found it so. In the excursions that I made 
by water to Essequibo and Berbice, where business 
required my presence, I hate been frequently 
wetted through, even three times in twenty-four 
hours, and have suffered my clothes to dry on me, 
without experiencing any injury. It is not that 
I would advise new comers to repeat this experi- 
ment; necessity alone obliged me to expose my- 
self to it, but temperance is the best preservative. 
It is indispensable, and ought to be recommended 
to all those who arrive in the West Indies, to take 



some cooling medicines, also to avoid carefully the 
fogs, the night air, and above all the sun, which 
gives a fever to those who expose themselves to it 

Such are the climate and temperature of Gui- 
ana, or that immense tract of country situated 
between the Orinoco and Amazons. Prom the 
left bank of the Orinoco, as far as Cape de la Vela, 
(a rugged and mountainous country,) the climate 
is more varied, and more or less cool, according 
.to the elevation of the places; damp, hot and un- 
healthy in the narrow vallies, where there are stag- 
nant waters; hot, dry and very salubrious in plains 
watered by rapid rivers : such is, in general, the 
climate of Cumana, the Egypt of South America. 

The climate of Trinidad differs from that of 
those two countries, to which it serves as a kind 
of limit, inasmuch as it is less moist than Guiana, 
and not so dry as Cumana. Being an island, the 
winds are more constant, and renew its atmosphere 

The winter or rainy season begins there, as 
already stated, in June, and ends in October as in 
all the islands of the Caribbean sea. But there 
is very little rain, sometimes none, in June, though 
the return of the heat is invariable from the end 
of May. With November begins the delight- 
ful season: it is then that the east and north- 
easterly winds blow : those currents of air come 
from the cold regions of North America, probably 
because the laws of equilibrium require that the 


cold and dense air of the north should fill the 
place left for it by the dilation of the hot and 
light air of the tropics. During this spring 
the thermometer is usually, in the day time, at 
80 degrees of Farenheit, and during the night 
it falls to 60% and sometimes even to 60° in toler- 
ably elevated spots. There are many charming 
situations at Trinidad, where even during win- 
ter, the thermometer seldom rises in the day 
higher than 82°, falling to 70° in the night. Such 
are the hills or elevations situated at the open- 
ing of the vallies watered by rapid rivers, and 
where there is constantly a current of fresh air. 
The vallies of Santa Anna, of Maraval, Diego 
Martin, Aricagua, and the heights of St. Joseph 
to the north-west, as also the vallies on the north- 
ern coast, enjoy a very mild temperature. Those 
who have the advantage of inhabiting houses built 
on the hills, at the opening of a valley, breathe 
during almost the whole year a fresh, pure, and 
very elastic air. 

The effects produced by the simultaneous action 
of the evaporation of rains, dews and winds, is 
the great source of this coolness; the animal 
body which perspires, and the body surrounded 
with aqueous vapours, whether naturally or arti* 
ficially, experiences a lesser degree of heat than 
the thermometer which neither transpires nor 

For instance, when the thermometer marks 80° 
and even 84° of Farenheit, let dinner be served in 


a room well aired, the meat will be cool in an 
instant: when, at the same moment, if the ther- 
mometer be surrounded by gas imbibed with water, 
it will in some minutes after descend two, three, 
and four degrees, according to the proportion of 
coolness in the prevailing wind. 

It is according to this principle that very cold 

liquids are obtained by suspending the bottles in 

bags saturated with water, in a current of air, also 

by putting water into small vessels of half baked 

lay. . ^ 

It should not therefore be supposed that in thfe 
tropical climates, bodies experience the same 
degree of heat as in Europe, in an equal degree to 
what the thermometer marks. In those climates 
bodies transpire more freely from the above- 
mentioned causes, and consequently disengage a 
greater quantity of animal heat. I have perceiv- 
ed in my own person that I felt much less heat, 
after I had adopted the custom of wearing flannel 
waistcoats next my skin. The gradual perspira- 
tion they maintain, and the coolness produced by 
that perspiration, are some of the surest means of 
preserving health in a climate, of which Euro- 
peans who have not resided in it form very false 

There is no country in the world which presents 
a more healthy old age than the Antilles, or any 
that is more exempt from gout, sciatica, loss of 
senses or the faculties, together with the dismal 
train of physical evils incident to cold climates. 



The abundant dews which fall every night in 
Trinidad, are the pri ncipal cause of the great 
variations in the hygrometer. A part of them 
is, no doubt, produced by the waters of the 
island and the surrounding sea ; but it is the adja- 
cent continent of Guiana, its marshes, and great 
rivers, which refresh the island with these abun- 
dant dews. Trinidad is generally without rain* 
from December until the end of June. Still, 
during that season, the vegetables are every morn- 
ing soaked with water, as if there had been re- 
freshing rain. Without this beneficent dew, the 
island would be sterile, and its climate excessively 
hot. The ground, which is found in constant 
effervescence, communicates a vigour to vegeta- 
tion, raises large trees to a great height, and gives 
them a luxuriancy of which no description can 
afford a just idea to the European who has not 
visited those regions. 

The most beautiful part of the southern celes- 
tial hemisphere, which comprehends the Centaur, 
Argo, and Gross, is always hidden from the in- 
habitants of Europe. It is only under the equator 
that the magnificent spectacle is to be enjoyed, 
of seeing at the same time all the stars of the two 
celestial hemispheres. Some of our northern 
constellations, such as the Great and Little Bear, 
on account of their depth in the horizon, appear 
of an astonishing size. 



Historical Sketch of Trinidad. — Its Discovery. — First Establishment 
of the Spaniards. — Sir Walter Raleigh's Visit to the Island. — His 
Treaty with the Indians, and Attack on San Joseph. — Eulogiura on 
the Soil and Climate of Venezuela. — Blind Policy of Spain. — Pro- 
ject of M. de Saint Laurent. — Change in the Island's Condition.— 
Rapid Increase of its Population. — Don Joseph Chacon. — His Po- 
licy. — Port Spain.— French Refugees. — Inhabitants in 1797. — First 
Sugar Plantation.— Capture of the Island by Sir Ralph Abercrom- ' 
bie. — Progressive State of Population, Agriculture, and Commerce 
between 1783 and 1807. 

The Island of Trinidad was discovered by 
Christopher Columbus, on the 31st July, 1498, 
and during his third voyage to the new world. 
According to some historians he gave it the 
name of Trinidad, whilst he was yet distant thir- 
teen leagues ■ to the south-east of it, from the 
three tops of mountains which are seen in that 
situation at sea? and according to Herrera he 
named it thus in honour of the Holy Trinity. 

Nevertheless this island did not fix the atten- 
tion of the Spaniards until the close of the six- 
teenth century, if an historical monument pre- 
served in the church of St. Josef de Orufia may 
be believed. According to this chronicle, it ap- 
pears that they preceded their establishment in the 


commencement of the year 1688, by the almost 
general destruction of the Indians. Most of 
those who escaped the proscription, found a 
slower and more horrible fate in the works of 
the mines. Some, however, owed their lives to 
the paternal and courageous care of the apostle 
of the new world, the virtuous Las Casas. 

The labours of the Indians soon fertilized the 
land of which they had been masters for the 
benefit of their conquerors. Some negroes were 
afterwards taken there, and united in the work 
.of the natives. 

Sir Walter Raleigh, who visited Trinidad when- 
attracted by the chimera of El Dorado in 1593, 
relates that the inhabitants then cultivated excel- 
lent tobacco and the sugar cane. The Spaniards 
assured him, that the rivers were full of gold dust.* 

* It seems that Raleigh, who in common with all the histo- 
rians of his day was fond of the marvellous, believed in the absurd 
fable of El Dorado, and perhaps ashamed of being laughed at on his 
return, he was determined to present the government and people 
of England with some story, which should give a colour of pro- 
bability to the existence of such a place, hence the wonders 
related about the capital of Guyana. 

" The empire of Guyana, 1 ' observes Sir Walter, c4 is directly 
to the eastward of Peru towards the sea : it is situated under the 
equinoctial line, and possesses more gold than any part of Peru. 
It has more great cities than Peru ever had in its most flourish- 
ing state. This country is governed by the same laws: the 
emperor and the people profess the same religion; the same 
police and form of government which were .observed in Peru, 
without any difference whatever. Such of the Spaniards as have 


On his return to Trinidad from exploring the 
Orinoco, Sir Walter Raleigh made a treaty with 
the savages, who were then mortal enemies of the 

seen Manoa, the capital city of Guyana, which the Spaniards 
call £1 Dorado, assert that, by size, riches and admirable 
situation, it surpasses all the cities in the world, known to 
the Spanish nation. It is built in a lake of salt-water, of about 
two hundred leagues in length, very similar to the Caspian sea : 
if we compare this capital to that of Peru, and refer, in regard 
to the latter, to the accounts of Francisco Lopez and others, this 
recital appears to us very probable." 

The picture drawn by Captain Dudley, who asoended the 
Orinoco still higher than his companions, is no less flattering, 
though perhaps infinitely nearer the truth. " On climbing the 
hills nearest the banks, 11 says he, " we contemplated that asto- 
nishing mass of waters which falls into the Caroni, and observed 
how it divides itself into three portions at more than twenty miles 
distance. Ten or twelve falls presented themselves one above 
the other, eaoh the height of a steeple, dashing and dispersing, 
by the breaking of the waters, a thin rain around, which we at 
first mistook for the smoke of a great city. 

" I have never seen a more beautiful country, or views so 
picturesque: hills rose from the bosoms of rallies; the river 
meandered over the plain in many branches. There were to be 
seen vast plains free from woods, a green and thick grass, a* soil 
of firm sand convenient for walking on foot, or riding ; deer run- 
ning along the paths under our eyes ; the birds towards evening 
filling the air with their various warblings ; scorks and herons, 
some white, and others crimson or scarlet, wandered over the 
banks of the river ; the air was refreshed by the blowing of the 
easterly wind. Every pebble that we picked up, appeared to 
promise us, by its colour, mines of gold and silver. 11 (See Hak- 
luyt's Collection, Vol. III. Quarto Edition.) The foregoing 
picture is by no means exaggerated, according to all the accounts 
received from those who have lately proceeded to San Thome de 
Angostura by water. — Ed. 

y 2 


Spaniards, and marched with them against the 
town of St. Josef, which was the seat of govern- 
ment. He took the fort by assault, put the gar- 
rison of thirty men to the sword, and made a 
prisoner of Berreo, the governor, who he repre- 
sents as a man of noble birth, but detested by 
the Indians. 

But that which is neither fabulous or romantic, 
is the beauty of the climate, its fine rivers, and 
enchanting situations ; a gigantic and magnifi- 
cent vegetation, compared to which the largest 
trees in Europe would appear stunted shrubs, and 
our most beautiful flowers seem languishing and 
faded ; that earth so fruitful, where the children 
of nature gather without labour the most succu- 
lent and nourishing roots and exquisite fruits, 
whilst the forests, rivers and sea present them with 
abundant and solid food. Such is the true natural 
riches of nearly all the country situated between 
the Amazons and Orinoco, also of Trinidad, which 
•is the same in miniature. 

•The Jesuit Gumilla pretends, it is true, that the 
land had become sterile, since the inhabitants 
refused to pay tythes. But, fortunately, that 
sterility never existed, except in the imagination 
of the Jesuit ; and those who have written on 
this island after him, speak with delight of the 
fertility of its soil, its forests of palm, cocoa-nut 
and cocoa trees, of its hedges of citrons and 
lemons. Its beautiful sky, added to the fecun- 
dity of the soil, has justly obtained for it the name 
of the Indian Paradise. 


* The neglect of the mother country was more 
fatal to the colony than the anger of the monks. 
Either the Spanish government did not know the 
value of this possession, or affairs of greater 
importance occupied its attention, for it paid 
none whatever to this island. Its population and 
trade were almost extinguished. In short, about 
thirty year* ago, the colony only contained a few 
hundred inhabitants, Creoles, Mulattos, and In- 
dians. All its trade consisted in barters of cocoa 
and indigo for coarse cloths and implements of 
agriculture, which were brought to it by the 
smugglers of St. Eustatia. When circumstances 
caused it to rise from this state of languor, in 
1783, a planter named Saint Laurent, who re- 
sided in Grenada, visited [Trinidad from a taste 
for natural history, and perhaps also from his 
restless and enterprizing disposition. If the fer- 
tility of the soil, the abundance and variety of 
the vegetables of the island charmed him, he 
was no less struck with the political importance 
of its situation, which, by means of a few troops 
might secure to its possessor the exclusive trade 
of the vast territory bordering on the Orinoco. 

Full of this idea, and of the hope of making 
a large fortune, Saint Laurent resolved to en- 
lighten the Spanish government as to its true 
interests. He went to Madrid in consequence, 
saw the ministers, and succeeded in fixing their 
attention on Trinidad. It must, however, be 
allowed, that the political events of which the 


new world had recently been the theatre, contri- 
buted not a little to the success of his project. 

The revolution in North America, terminating 
in a glorious peace, had given a dreadful lesson 
to parent states. They feared that other colo- 
nies would imitate that example ; and those fears 
were felt, above all, by the court of Madrid, 
whose colonial system was a masterpiece of 
tyranny and oppression. 

However it might have been, the Council of 
Indies occupied itself seriously with the plans 
of Saint Laurent ; it relieved the colonies from 
several obstacles which embarrassed their agri- 
culture and commerce; and Trinidad, so long 
neglected by the government, was treated like a 
favourite child. 

An edict issued from that council in 1783, per- 
mitted all foreigners professing the Roman Ca- 
tholic religion, to establish themselves in this 
colony. It protected at the same time, for a 
period of five years, those new inhabitants from 
debts contracted in the countries they had quit- 
ted. It invited, in short, all the traders and navi- 
gators of the nations which were at peace with 
Spain, to frequent the island, placing but a few 
restrictions on its commerce, which could be 
easily eluded. 

Saint Laurent visited the principal commercial 
cities of France and Spain at his own expence, 
to induce the merchants to make advances to the 
colonists of Trinidad. He even persuaded many 


persons who led the most inactive lives at Bour- 
deaux and Paris, to emigrate to that island with 
their property, and nearly all those who followed 
his advice, have become wealthy proprietors. 

Spain was not long in reaping the fruits of this 
wise measure. Crowds of new colonists were soon 
seen coming from Europe and the British and 
French possessions, thus bringing their industry 
and capitals, also a great number of agents, who, 
after having dilapidated the plantations they had 
directed, came to enjoy in this island the fruits of 
their rapine, by favour of the edict which guaran- 
teed them against any process for five years. It 
should be remarked that this decree, contrary to 
the laws of nations, was religiously maintained 
by the court of Madrid, in spite of the remon- 
strances and complaints of the British government 
in 1791. 

The inhabitants increased so rapidly, that six 
years after the publication of the above edict, 
there were reckoned in this colony two thousand 
one hundred and fifty-one whites, four thousand 
four hundred and sixty-seven people of colour, ten 
thousand one hundred negroes, and two thousand 
two hundred Indians, which form a total of 
eighteen thousand six hundred and twenty-seven 
inhabitants, an unexampled instance of such a pro- 
digious increase in so short a space of time in 

Still it may be easily conceived that this mix- 
ture of people of all nations and colours, contain- 


ed the germs of the vilest pawjooi, It 
highly necessary that there should he a firm and 
enlightened government to repress so many im- 
moral beings, and oblige them to contribute to 
the prosperity of the colony. Spain found a fit 
person in Don Josef Chacon, a naval captain, 
who was appointed governor of the island, a 
short time after the edict was issued, from which 
its colonization may be dated. 

Endowed with more cunning and prudence, 
than firmness, he joined experience to a complete 
knowledge of government, and a refined taste 
for the arts and sciences. The new governor 
employed his talents with success to fulfil the 
duties of his office, giving a political and commer- 
cial importance to this country, worthy of its geo- 
graphical position. 

Having succeeded in preventing the establish- 
ment of the Inquisition in his colony, and sending 
the monks out of it, in consequence of their disso- 
lute manners and intolerant spirit, which had hin- 
dered great numbers from settling in the island, 
Chacon placed Don Josef Angeles, at the head of 
his clergy, an enlightened and liberal ecclesiastic, 
who died of grief, in 1807, a victim to the re- 
venge of his enemies. 

Foreigners who visited Trinidad, met the most 
flattering reception from Chacon : he even took 
upon himself to give more liberty to commerce 
than was granted in the edict; and the merchants 
found both freedom and safety for their specula- 


tions under his government. The new colonists 
received grants of fertile lands, and the governor 
made them advances from the royal treasure to 
purchase cattle and implements of husbandry. 

This distinguished character, the founder of a 
colony, was lately a memorable instance of the 
ingratitude of mankind. He lived in poverty, 
and on the benefactions of a friend, at an obscure 
village in Spain ; and, strange fatality ! sacrificed 
to the fanatical hatred of some French anarchists, 
whom he had formerly enriched by his bounty !! 
* The encouragements granted to commerce and 
agriculture, soon changed the face of the island ; 
and where a short time before only some miser- 
able huts of fishermen, covered with palm leaves 
were seen, there arose in the short space of four 
years, a town regularly built, which by the size 
and convenience of its port, and the industry of 
its inhabitants, became one of the most com- 
mercial in the new world, justly meriting the 
name of Port Spain from the mother country. 

On the other hand, the disturbances which 
broke out in the French colonies, at the beginning 
of the revolution, and the violence of various 
parties, alternately conquerors and conquered, 
brought a great number of proprietors from Mar- 
tinico, Guadaloupe and Saint Lucia to this island, 
as also many of the ancient French inhabitants of 
Grenada and Tobago. 

Don Josef Chacon took advantage of those 
events to people his colony: he received with 


equal attention all those who brought either 
capital or industry, without troubling himself 
about their opinions. Thus, in 1796 and 1797, in 
consequence of those revolutions which faction 
alone can explain, this colony presented a mixture 
of persons of all parties, whose exaggerated prin- 
ciples had clashed reciprocally, and caused their 
ruin. He who sees with contempt and pity the 
chimeras for which men destroy each other, will 
contemplate with satisfaction this community of 
persons, once ready for mutual immolation, living 
peaceably under a government that protected 
them all equally ; cementing their union by socie- 
ties of agriculture or commerce, intermarriages, 
and giving themselves up with ardour to every 
branch of industry. All those causes combined, 
soon carried the colony to the highest degree of 

In 1787, M. de la Perouse established the first 
sugar plantation, which was the source of a bril- 
liant fortune for hinL and a laudable object of 
emulation to the other colonists. In 1797, there 
were one hundred and fifty-nine sugar plantations; 
of which three had water-mills, one with a wind- 
mill, and a hundred and fifty-five with mills 
worked by mules, a hundred and thirty coffee 
farms, a hundred of cotton, and about sixty with 
cocoa: Therer were, besides, some small plantations, 
the masters of which being poor, but active, occu- 
pied themselves in the cultivation of bananas, 
manioc, yams, sweet potatoes, maize, Ac. articles 


of great consumption for the country, and the 
people employed by the great planters, who were 
wholly engaged in the growth of those commo- 
dities destined for the European markets. 

Such was the prosperous state of this island, in 
1795 ; when the contentions in Europe, so disas- 
trous for the French colonies, where they were 
felt more or less calamitously, occasioned an 
augmentation of prosperity to Trinidad. 

On the 16th of February, 1797, a British squa- 
dron of four sail of the line, under the orders of 
Admiral Harvey appeared off the island. The 
Spanish Rear-admiral Apodaca was anchored at 
Chagaramus with three superb ships of the line, 
(one of which was a three-decker,) and a forty gun 
frigate. As soon as he saw the British ships, he 
set fire to his own, and gallantly retreated to Port 
Spain, reciting his rosary, and accompanied by a 
band of priests who followed his example. Arrived 
at the governor's with his chaplet of beads in his 
hand : " well, admiral, all is lost, as you have burnt 
your ships," said Chacon to him. " No, all is not 
lost," replied the noble admiral ; " I have .saved 
the image of San Jago of Campostella, the patron 
of my ship and myself," taking from his pocket 
an image of that saint ! 

General Sir Ralph Abercrombie landed with 
four thousand men, marched to Port Spain, fired 
<a few discharges of cannon, and after a short con- 
ference the governor capitulated. 

332 population. &c. 

Progressive State of the Papulation, Agrieulinre^ 
and Commerce of Trinidad, from 1783 to 1807. 

I have said in another page of this chapter, 
that previous to the decree of 1783, the island 
only contained a few hundred inhabitants, Cre- 
ole*, Mulattos, Indians, and Negroes, This popu- 
lation was no more in 1783, than If 6 whites, 
295 of colour, free, 310 slaves, and 2032 Indians 
of all ages, Total, 2,763. 

Seven years after the edict, in 1790, a new 
population had formed, of fraudulent bankrupts, 
and dishonest agents, as well as a small number 
of estimable families from the French and Eng- 
lish colonies, and even European French fami- 
lies, some of whom were of distinguished birth. 

The troubles which at this period, 1790, began 
to desolate the French colonies, contributed to 
the prosperity of Trinidad, and soon gave it a 
respectable population. It is principally com- 
posed of French colonists, ruined by those trou- 
bles, the chief part of them having brought no- 
thing* but their industry, and a very small num- 
ber some wreck of their property. From 1790 
to 1797, they increased the population from 
10,422 to 18,627 inhabitants.* In the year pre- 

* The official statements of t lie population published by the 
British government, in 179F T amount only to J 7,7 1 8 inhabitants; 
because they were made immediately after an emigration caused 
by the conquest of the island. 


ceding its capture, the following produce was 
collected : 

On 159 sugar plantations, 7,800 hogsheads. 
On 130 coffee plantations, 330,000 pounds. 
On 60 cocoa plantations, 96,000 pounds. 
On 103 cotton plantations, 224,000 pounds. 

The tonnage of the shipping employed in this 
trade, as also in the contraband which the adja- 
cent continent carried on with the island, had 
been, on an average, from 1784 to 1797, from 
7,500 to 8,000 tons. 

If it be considered that previous to 1783, the 
population was only 2,763 individuals, of whom 
2,032 were Indians, who never work, except to 
provide for their greatest wants ; that the obsta- 
cles and absurd regulations before the epoch of 
the edict paralized the commerce of the Spanish 
colonies ; that before the year 1783, a Dutch house 
of St. Eustatia carried on all the commerce of the 
colony, with a vessel of about a hundred and fifty 
tons, that it sent there two or three times in the 
year, and which was sufficient for taking all the 
articles they required to the inhabitants, and for 
which they gave in payment a small portion of 
cocoa, vanilla, indigo, arnotto, cotton and maize. 
When it is also recollected that the first sugar 
plantation was established there in 1787, an idea 
may be formed of the prodigious increase of this 
colony, under the prudent government of Don 


Joseph Chacon, in the short space of time com- 
prised between 1783 and 1797, when all the 
new colonists had made fortunes more or less 

From the conquest of the island, in February, 
1797, until the peace of Amiens, in 1802, the 
population had increased from 18,627 to 24,239 
inhabitants, and the cultivation as follows : 

On 192 sugar plantations, 15,461 hogsheads. 
On 128 coffee plantations, 358,660 pounds* 
On 57 cocoa plantations, 97,000 pounds. 
On 101 cotton plantations, 263,000 pounds. 

Thus it is seen that in the space of five years 
the cultivation of sugar had almost doubled. 
There may also be observed a small augmenta- 
tion in the produce of coffee, cocoa, and cotton, 
but two coffee, three cocoa and two cotton plan- 
tations less: it was because the proprietors of 
those plantations had found it more profitable to 
change them into sugar plantations. 

In 1802, the tonnage of sixty vessels employed 
in the commerce of Trinidad, was about fifteen 
thousand tons. I suspect that the contraband 
trade formed about two thirds of this commerce ; 
leaving a third of the whole tonnage employed 
in the trade of the island, five thousand tons. 

Now, the tonnage in 1783, being only one 
hundred and fifty tons, and having increased in 
1802, to five thousand tons, it is evident that the 
produce and resources of the colony had increased 


in the proportion of 1 to 33i ; and that the popu- 
lation in the same time was augmented in the 
proportion of 1 to 8£. 

The emigration which took place from St. Do- 
mingo and the British colonies to Trinidad, after 
the peace of Amiens, had increased its population, 
in 1807, to thirty-one thousand inhabitants, 
amongst whom were reckoned twenty-one thou- 
sand slaves. There were then two hundred and 
fourteen sugar plantations, of which nearly one 
half made scarcely fifty thousand pounds of sugar 
each, from want of hands ; but there were many 
that made from two to three hundred thousand 
pounds each. The total quantity of sugar ex- 
ported that year from the colony to England, 
Nova Scotia, Canada, and the United States, 
amounted to 18,235 hogsheads, or 21,234,600 

There were made besides, in the same year, 
1807, 460,000 gallons of rum, 100,000 gallons of 
syrup;f 500,000 pounds of coffee, 355,000 pounds 
of cocoa, and 800,000 pounds of cotton. Previous 
to the rupture of the treaty of Amiens, there were 
grown annually, on an average, from 1,500,000 
to 1,600,000 pounds of cotton. But the ruin of the 

* The hogsheads whioh were used in 1802, weighed only about 
1200 lbs. each ; since then they have been made to contain from 
1400 to 1500 each. 

t Those syrups are exported to the United States and Canada 
where they are distilled into nun. 


British manufactures having lowered two thirds, 
and even three fourths, the price of this article, 
a great number of colonists abandoned the cultiva- 
tion of it, so much so that in 1810, there were 
scarcely 642,000 pounds gathered. 

In 1809, there were only 8,000,000 pounds 
of sugar made, and in 1810, only 4,690,000 
pounds. If it be observed, that this article is 
worth only twelve shillings and sixpence per quin- 
tal of one hundred and fifty pounds in the British 
colonies, and that the colonist buys all articles 
which are taken to him from Europe or the 
United States, at double the price he could before 
the peace of Amiens, some notion may be formed 
of the deplorable state to which a mistaken policy 
has reduced the proprietors. 

Between the years 1797 and 1802, the British 
merchants of Trinidad sold annually on an ave- 
rage, to the amount of a million sterling of their 
merchandize, to the smugglers of Venezuela, for 
which the latter paid partly in dollars, and partly 
in articles on which the English trader gained 
cent, per cent. 

I cannot pass by in silence an extract from the 
Voyage of M° Cullum, which I have lately read 
in a compilation by Malte Brun, and another 
work, the Voyage of M. Ledru. The statements 
of the population and produce of Trinidad, are 
extremely incorrect. They say, for instance, that 
in 1799, there were 2,672,800 pounds of sugar 
made in Trinidad ; whilst there were really made 


in that year nearly 19,000,000 lbs. The state- 
ments of M' Cullum are equally incorrect in , 
regard to the other articles, but those of the popu- 
lation less so : he has, however, omitted the In- 
dians in his statement of population for the year 

The work which bears the title of the Voyage 
of M c Cullum, is merely a severe philippic against 
General Picton; but he had enough to say, with- 
out imputing to him, as he has done, imaginary 
crimes. He ought not, above all, to have slan- 
dered estimable and peaceable men, who respected 
the authority of the governor ; nor represent as 
innocent victims some disturbers of the public 
peace, and rascally scribes, of whom Picton purged 
the colony. 

The Indian population has been constantly de- 
creasing since the conquest of the island by the 
British government. In 1797 there were reckoned 
2,200 indigenous natives, and scarcely 1467 in 
1807. Some had died of drunkenness and vexation, 
others had fled to the Spanish continent, to with- 
draw themselves and their wives from the bruta- 
lity of the infamous W. T. the commandant at 

Though the population in Trinidad had in- 
creased above 600, from 1802 to 1807, only nine 
new sugar plantations were formed in that time. 
This increase of the population has been chiefly 
in negroes, who have augmented the hands 
employed in cultivation. That of cocoa has re- 


mained stationary, while coffee has retrograded 
from two causes: first, the want of sale in the 
British markets; secondly, because the coffee 
plant has not succeeded in Trinidad, the tree 
giving but little fruit, and perishing at the end of 
ten or twelve years, though the article is always 
of a superior quality, and has the advantage over 
that of Martinico and the other Antilles of not 
requiring age to produce an agreeable bever- 
age. It is from the fault, and obstinate attach- 
ment to old habits of the planters, that this culti- 
vation has not been more successful in Trinidad. 
Because coffee trees thrive in St. Domingo, Gua- 
daloupe, Dominica, St. Lucia and Martinico, on 
the hills, they had concluded that it would be the 
same in Trinidad ; without noticing that the hills 
of this island are composed only of schistus covered 
with gravel, on which lies a light layer of vegeta- 
tive earth, that the rain washes away after some 
years of cultivation ; whilst the hills of the Antil- 
les, much more high and cool, are covered with 
a deep bed of earth, which is retained by enormous 
blocks of stone, that at the same time maintain 
humidity and freshness. 

Messrs. Beaubrun of Tacarigua, worthy and 
intelligent planters, some years ago invented the 
plan of planting coffee trees on the plain, in the 
manner cocoa trees are planted, that is, in the 
shade of the ery thrina ; and this mode of cultiva- 
tion has perfectly succeeded. My venerable 
friend, Don Juan Martin de Arestimuno of Ca- 


riaco, adopted this mode also, and was equally for- 
tunate. It is to be hoped .that their success will en- 
courage the cultivation of this valuable plant in the 
united provinces of Venezuela and in those parts 
of Trinidad, which were deemed unfavourable 
to it, from the too great dryness of the climate. 
Those expert agriculturalists conceived the same 
idea, without having bad any communication 
respecting it. 

The mountainous portion of Trinidad, which 
cannot be cultivated, forms only a thirtieth part 
of the island; an advantage it possesses over 
all the Antilles, of which the chief part consists in 
precipitous mountains, defiles, and passes, where 
the labour and cartage would absorb the produce 
of cultivation. It results from the measurement 
made in 1799, in Trinidad, by order of the British 
government, that there may be formed on its ter- 
ritory, 1,313 sugar, 946 coffee, 304 cocoa, and 158 
cotton plantations of 100 squares, or 320 English 
acres each. If it should ever arrive to that high 
degree of cultivation, its soil being at least as fertile 
as that of Saint Domingo, it will produce more 
than the French part of that island previous to the 
revolution ! 

I ought not to omit here that the use of the steam 
engine, by Messrs. Bolton and Watts, of Birming- 
ham, was introduced into Trinidad, in 1804. It 
has replaced the cattle mills on some plantation?. 
This machine is preferable to windmills, which 
cannot work at all times, and it is less expensive ; 


340 Sift ft* tUSHTNOTON. 

the water mills alone being preferable to it* Hie 
engine alluded to, is sgid to have the power of 
sixteen horses, and performs, in a given time, the 
work of three oxen or mule mills on a sugar planta- 
tion. It is well known what an immense number 
of those animals are destroyed annually in the 
colonies ; the introduction of this machine in the 
-manufactory of sugar, is therefore a very great 
improvement, as well as saving in colonial agricul- 
ture. Sir Stephen Lushington, who has a very 
large property in this island, had the honour of 
being the first to employ it there, in contempt 
of the outcry raised against it by the vulgar pre- 
judices of others. 



Tobago.— Historical Sketch of the Island— Its Discovery and original 
Inhabitants.— First Establishment of the Dutch there.— The Lamp- 
sins — Ceded to the Duke of Courland by James L — Manifesto of 
Charles I. in favour of the Duke.— The Island is attacked by Sir 

- Tobias Bridges, and the French Admiral d'Estrees.— Captain Pointz* 
— Tobago is ceded to Great Britain. — Treaty of Aix la Chapelle. — 
State of the Island in 1765. — Messrs. Franklyn and Robley. — Taken 
by the French, in 1781.— Reflections,— Recaptured by General Cuy- 
ler in 1793.— Present State of Cultivation.— Mr. Robley's Plantation 
and Establishment. — His numerous Improvements and Character.— 
Scotch Emigrants — Reflections. — Natural Productions of the Island. 
Plants.— Birds.— Fish — Quadrupeds — Scarborough. — Currents, 


Whbn Columbus discovered the new world, the 
Island of Tobago, of which I am not aware that 
the Carib title has been transmitted to us by any 
historian, received the above name from him, or 
that of Tobacco ; which the islanders gave to the 
pipe they used for smoking the herb, so well 
known in after times, but then called kohiba. 
This herb and the pipe bore the same name at 
the other extremity of the Carib Archipelago, 
in Hayti or St. Domingo. Tobago was inhabited 
by a people who were generally at war with the 
Arrooaks* Contemporary historians call them 


Caribs; but I am inclined to doubt whether 
they belong to that nation, because the Arrooaks, 
with whom they were at war, are real Caribs : 
it appears also that the writers of those days, 
from being badly informed, confounded all the 
insular aboriginal inhabitants under the name of 
Caribs. However it may have been, those who 
inhabited the island first named Tobago, and 
some years afterwards New Walcheren, not be- 
ing able to resist the Arrooaks, retired to that 
of St. Vincent, then inhabited by Indians with 
whom they lived in peace. 

Tobago having become desart by the emigra- 
tion of the savages, some Dutch navigators, who 
had visited it on their return from the Brazil*, 
delighted with the beauty of its climate, richness 
of soil, and its convenient neighbourhood to the 
continent, induced a company of Flushing traders 
to form an establishment there. In that age of 
enterprise, 1632, they had no difficulty in finding 
two hundred persons, whom they conveyed there^ 
to lay the foundations of the colony. Those adven- 
turers gave it the name of New Walcheren, in 
honour of an island in the province of Zealand, 
on which the town of Flushing is situated. 

The Indians of Trinidad, in alliance with the 
Spanish colonists of that island, attacked this 
establishment, in 1634, before the settlers had 
time to finish a fort they had begun. All who 
fell into the hands of the conquerors were mas- 
sacred at the beginning of the invasion: after 

THK LAMP8I1C&. 343 

which they demolished the fortress, carried off 
the canon, destroyed the plantations, and con- 
ducted all the colonists whom they could seize 
as prisoners to Trinidad. 

Those of the settlers who escaped death or 
captivity, retired to Holland, after which Tobago 
remained cfesart during more than twenty years, 
being in all that time merely frequented by some 
seamen from Martinique and Guadaloupe, who 
resorted there to fish for turtle; also by the 
Indians of St. Vincent, and the other Antilles, 
who touched there when they went on expeditions 
against their perpetual enemies, the Arrooaks of 
the Orinoco. 

In 1654, some merchants of Flushing, named 
Lampsins, obtained a charter from the States of 
the United Provinces, by which they were permit- 
ted to take possession of the island, and cultivate 
it for their; own advantage. This charter conferred 
on them the privilege of appointing the magistrates 
and governor of the, colony, with the sole restric- 
tion that the nomination of the latter should be 
submitted for approval to the States General. 

Those celebrated merchants did not confine 
their operations to the forming of agricultural 
establishments; they constructed stores at New 
Walcheren, which were provided with every kind 
of European merchandize ; and as at that time the 
English and French were not so much devoted 
to commerce as they hare since been, it became 
a depository where the colonists of the neighbour- 


ing islands belonging to those two nations, even 
the Spaniards of Trinidad and the southern con- 
tinent, went to furnish themselves with the mer- 
chandize they required. The first colonial estab- 
lishment at St. Martin's, one of the Virgin Islands, 
was also established by the Lampsins. 

James I. of England by what right ifc unknown, 
conceded this island to his godson James Duke of 

A vessel carrying out Courland colonists, ar- 
rived there some months afterwards. The cap- 
tain landed his people at a place known at this 
day by the name of Courland Bay, which -is the 
chief settlement in one of the most beautiful parts 
of the island. The Dutch did not at first oppose 
the establishment of their rivals, who, according 
to the English historians, were to the number of 
a hundred families, and of only a hundred persons 
according to the Dutch accounts. But a few days 
after the arrival of the new colonists, there was a 
skirmish between the two parties, which was 
followed by a treaty, in which they agreed to live 
peaceably, until their respective sovereigns should 
agree on their rights to the possession of the 
island. But the Courlanders not receiving either 
recruits, or any of those succours so necessary for 
a young colony, and the Dutch portion of the 
island being considerably increased by fresh 
settlers and assistance of every kind, which the 
Lampsins continually sent out, together with the 
latter having learned, in 1659, that the Duke of 


Courland had been dispossessed of his territories 
by the King of Sweden, and imprisoned, they 
forced the Courlanders to deliver Fort James to 
them which they bad built in Courland Bay. 

Having recovered his states by the treaty of 
Oliva, the Duke of Courland demanded the 
restitution of his establishment in Tobago from 
the States General ; and on their refusal, he ap- 
plied to Charles II. who, being on the point of 
declaring war against Holland, published a mani- 
festo in favour of the Duke, dated November 
17th, 1664. 

The States General paid very little attention 
to the King of England's * declaration, and war 
having commenced soon afterwards between 
those two powers, the Duke deferred to a more 
convenient opportunity, his projects on the 

There was no mention of Tobago at the treaty 
of Breda, and Cornelius Lampsins still remained 
for some years peaceable possessor. In the inter- 
val betwen the first and second war between 
England and Holland, the Governor, Hubert de 
Beveren, placed the Forts of Lampsinsberg and 
James, as well as those of Beveren and Belviste 
in a respectable state. The population being 
augmented to twelve hundred inhabitants, the 
colonists prospered, and believed themselves 
in safety, when Sir Tobias Bridges, the com- 
mander of the Barbadian privateers, attack- 
ed them unawares, pillaged and sacked the 

346 d'ustrees. 

colony, carrying off a great number of ne- 

A separate peace having been concluded in 
1676, between Great Britain and the States 
General, these two powers mutually restored the 
conquests made from each other ; the Dutch hav- 
ing declared war against France, and committed 
hostilities against the colony of Cayenne, the Duke 
d'Estr&s went to attack the squadron of the 
Dutch Admiral Binkes, which was at anchor in 
Scarborough Bay, and a severe actioh terminated 
by the French obtaining a complete victory. 
Pursuant to the example of Bridges, the French 
admiral plundered the island and then returned 
to Europe, where he was most graciously re- 
ceived by Louis XIV. The Duke d'Estr&s 
re-appeared off the island four months after, and 
landing at the head of his infantry, he attacked 
Admiral Binkes in Fort Lampsins, where the 
latter had taken refuge. But the Duke finding 
a greater resistance from the garrison than he 
expected, ordered a bombardment, and the third 
bomb having fallen on a powder magazine, 
a great part of the fort blew up ; which catas- 
trophe caused the death of Admiral Binkes, 
together with a great number of the garrison, so 
that the Dutch were under the necessity of quit- 
ting an establishment commenced under the most 
fortunate auspices in 1654, This event took place 
December 24,1677. 

When peace was re-established between the 


belligerents in 1678, the Duke of Courland re- 
newed his old pretensions to this island, and for 
that purpose he sent an agent named Pointz, te 
London, to offer grants of land to Englishmen 
who might be inclined to settle there. 

In 1693, France being again at war with Great 
Britain and Holland, Captain Pointz made fresh 
attempts in England to lead colonists to Tobago, 
under the protection of William III. But this 
new project of colonization was not more fortu- 
nate than the two former. At last, the house of Ket- 
tler, sovereigns of the duchy of Courland, being 
extinct in 1737, by the death of Ferdinand, son of 
James, the British government claimed the re- 
version of the island. 

In consequence of the altercations which inces- 
santly prevailed between Great Britain and France, 
after the treaty of Utrecht, on the subject of possess- 
ing Saint Lucia, Grenada, Saint Vincent and Do- 
minica, it was stipulated by that of Aix la Chapelle, 
in 1748, that Saint Lucia should remain to France, 
and the other three islands, as also that of Tobago, 
be considered as neutral ; and that the subjects of 
all European powers should have the right to esta- 
blish themselves and carry on their commerce in 
those islands ; but that none of the contracting 
parties should place garrisons in them. 

It was not till the peace of 1763, that Louis XV. 
ceded Tobago in perpetuity to England. Ac- 
cordingly on the 20th of May, 1765, the Kin£ of 


Great Britain appointed a commission for grant- 
ing lands on the island. 

Although previous to 1765, the population 
of the island was scarcely fifteen hundred inha- 
bitants, it was increased to twelve thousand 
in 1777 : of those twelve thousand persons, there 
were nine thousand slaves, two thousand one hun- 
dred people of colour, about two hundred 
Indians, and seven hundred whites. 

The colonial importance of Tobago commences 
at this period* The British employed large capi- 
tals there, for improving the cultivation of cot top, 
which is of superior, quality, by its extreme white- 
ness, the softness and length of its grain. It was 
then calculated that the expences occasioned by 
the establishment of a sugar plantation were at 
the rate of £60 sterling per acre, and that the net 
produce of the property was twenty per cdnt. on 
a plantation prudently managed. 

In 1776, this colony produced ten thousand 
hogsheads of raw sugar. In the same year thirty- 
three thousand pounds weight of cotton were ga- 
thered : some planters also applied themselves to 
the culture of spices, such as the pimento or allspice, 
myrtus pimenta, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, &c. 

Messrs* Franklyn and Robley, were those of 
the colonists who most encouraged and practised 
the cultivation of spices and cotton. It is a great 
satisfaction to publish the names of men, of what- 
soever nation they may be, who have introduced 


a new branch of agriculture, or who may have 
encouraged it by their capitals: such men are the 
true friends of humanity : why are not monuments 
and medals also dedicated to their memory ? 

During the contest with her North American 
colonies, so fatal to England, Tobago was taken 
by the Marquis de Bouille in 1781, and subse- 
quently ceded to France by the treaty of Versail- 
les in 1783. From the date of that treaty until 
the French revolution, in 1789, this colony had 
for its Governor, {general Arthur Dillon, m 
whose administration no remarkable event oc- 
curred : a few Frenchmen settled there either as 
planters or traders. The old government com- 
mitted a great error in omitting to encourage 
the establishment of a numerous French popula- 
tion in this island. The preference granted by 
the government to the English over its own sub- 
jects, to gain the attachment of the former, were 
received by them with disdain- This policy of 
the ministers of Louis XVI. shews how little 
they were acquainted with the individual charac- 
ter of the British nation. 5Vhen conquests of 
distant colonies are effected, it is frequently only 
for the purpose of making them objects of com- 
pensation at a peace ; and in such cases it is use- 
less to incur expenses for establishing a national 
population in them ; but when they are obtained 
by treaty, it is to preserve them as long as cir- 
cumstances will permit. Now, in such establish- 
ments, the physical strength of governments is 

-T" *" - '**"' " * . . ~ ' . — -.T - ^./" S*r-* 

v350 MR. ROB LET. 

almost nothing, and it lis only by a moral influence 
that the attachment of the colonists can be secur- 
ed. This is a truth which cannot be too firmly 
rooted in the minds of governments which found 
colonies : the best and most secure ties that hold 
them attached to the mother country, are the 
identity of origin, language and manners : these 
ties will be found sufficient to retain them under 
the government of the'parent state, so long as they 
cannot find much to gain by a change of masters, 
and until by a lapse of many ages, they acquire 
a sufficient population to admit of their becom- 
ing independent. 

War having commenced between Great Britain 
and France, in March, 1793, General Cuyler, at 
the head of two thousand men, proceeded to this 
island, and made the French garrison surrender. 

The cultivated part of the island is in a most 
flourishing state. I have never seen better farming 
or finer negroes*. The principal plantation which 
belonged to the late Mr. Joseph Robley, at Sandy 
Point, is, perhaps, the best colonial establishment 
in the Antilles. It consists of six windmills for 
bruising the canes, and three for grinding maize. 
This property is divided into three sugar planta- 
tions, each having a double set of boilers. The 
negroes inhabit three streets, near the plantation 
to which they are attached : their huts are built 
of stone, and covered with slates. In 1803, they 
amounted to a thousand, of all ages, and both 
sexes. Every tfring about this plantation has the 

SIR W. YOUNG. 351 

appearance of order and abundance* I went there 
several times during the peace of Amiens, and 
never did I hear the sound of the driver's whip. 
Next to the plantation of Sir William Young, at 
Saint Vincent's, I do not believe that there were 
any men in existence, employed in cultivation, 
more happy than the negroes on the Robley 
plantations, in 1803. 

This great proprietor had all the tradesmen 
necessary for such establishments on his property, 
such as masons, carpenters, wheelwrights, smiths, 
farriers, &c. Once while I was at his house, the 
wind broke a vane of one of the windmills, and 
we heard a moment afterwards, that a similar 
accident had happened to a neighbour. " Come," 
said he, " and. you shall see how soon I can 
repair the damage." A conque shell was blown, 
and I immediately saw a hundred negroes appear, 
some with pulleys, others dragging a capstan, 
and the rest an enormous triangular ladder ; at last 
a large waggon drawn by six fine mules brought a 
mill-vane, always kept ready in case of accidents : 
it was put up in half an hour, and they then fitted 
the sail to it : in short, four hours after the acci- 
dent, the mill worked as well as ever. Mr. 
Robley then observed, " this is one of the many 
advantages a large proprietor possesses, in having 
his workmen at home: I have a double set of 
every thing necessary for sugar works on those 
three sugar plantations, which are on the same 
estate, and may be called six, as there are six mills, 

352 MR. ROBLEY, 

and three double sets of cauldrons, and their ap- 
pendages, mill works, boilers, Ac. All are numbered 
and ready in my stores ; so that if any accident 
happens it may be repaired in a few hours, with- 
out interrupting the manufactory of sugar. My 
neighbour, who has just experienced the same 
accident, has neither workmen nor materials of 
his own : so that while he goes to town to pur- 
chase those articles, for which he will be obliged 
to pay fifty per cent, more than they have cost me 
in England ; and while his overseers are running 
about to seek workmen, and three or four days 
may be lost in procuring them, there are no 
longer any signs of the accident on. my premises. 
My neighbour's canes, already cut, will ferment, 
and perhaps he will lose four or five hogsheads of 
sugar, without calculating the time of his ne- 
groes." I believe no man ever felt more happy 
than Mr. Robley, whilst he explained the above 
details, and others relative to the management of 
his plantation. This gentleman was the creator 
of his own fortune ; he was born of a respectable 
family in Cornwall, and had gone to the West 
Indies at the age of eighteen, employed as a clerk 
in the navy office. He first established himself in 
Tobago, in 1768, and began to cultivate the cotton 
plant with a capital of about £1700 sterling: 
already in 1789, which was only twenty-two 
years afterwards, besides the magnificent esta- 
blishment at Sandy Point, he possessed another 
sugar plantation with a water-mill of great value, 


which he had presented to one of his nephews.* 
He had, besides, at the peace of Amiens, a large 
sum in the public funds. This fortune he owed 
entirely to his activity, prudence, and the fertile 
soil on which he had fixed his establishmdhts. 

This great cultivator had besides two vessels 
which were his own property : the first time T 
saw them lying at anchor before his house, I mis- 
took one for a ship of the line, and the other for 
a frigate. They came twice a year and lay in 
front of his residence for the purpose of taking 
his produce to Europe, and of bringing not only 
all that was necessary for himself and his negroes, 
but also merchandize which he sold to the mer- 
chants of Tobago, and on which he gained con- 
siderable profits. No man in any country ever 
obtained more respect and authority than Mr. 
Robley in his limited sphere : he was president 
of the colonial council, and consequently gover- 
nor when the other was absent. 

Joseph Robley was the first inhabitant of this 
island, and perhaps of all the West Indies, who 
went to the expense of constructing water and 
wind mills expressly with a view of grinding 
maize for his negroes, and it was not long before 
his example was imitated by his neighbours. 
Before his time, and even at present in the other 
colonies, the negroes are obliged to grind the 

* Mr. J. Robley, the present liberal and intelligent proprietor of 
this interesting establishment. 

A A 


maize with small iron mills, which fatigues them 
extremely, causing a great loss of time when they 
return from work at mid-day or in the evening. 
On those plantations they have not even sieves 
for separating the bran ; but on the Robley estate 
they receive their rations of maize flour well 
sifted, and all the grain which they bring to the 
mill is ground gratis. Mr. Robley neglected 
nothing that would induce them to prefer this 
food : from its stimulating qualities he thought it 
the, best vegetable nourishment for men who 
cultivate the ground in hot climates. He had 
also made considerable plantations of the bread- 
fruit tree of Otaheite, and other plants brought 
from the South Seas by Captain Bligh, as well as 
those which are cultivated in the magnificent 
garden of Saint Vincent, by Mr. Anderson. 

Mr. Robley returned to England after the 
peace of Amiens, and was then about sixty years 
of age. He had not seen his native land from 
the age of eighteen : but be did not long enjoy 
the fruits of his industry having died in a year 
after his arrival. He bequeathed several legacies, 
among others, one to a Frenchman who had 
rendered him soine services. The first instance 
1 ever heard in the colonies of any other English-* 
man who had left a legacy to a Frenchman 1 

The present inhabitants of Tobago are nearly all 
Scotch. I have known even some Barbadians there 
who are very worthy people,and treat their negroes 
with humanity ; for according to an old Norman 


proverb, there are worthy people every where, 
even in Barbadoes, and the piratical towns on 
the coast of Barbary! But at Tobago, as at 
Grenada and Barbadoes, it is the piratical portion 
that gives the law. 

It is really a most astonishing circumstance 
how those thirty-six months Scotch* have found 
means to make considerable fortunes in many of 
the West India islands, and to monopolize all 
the lucrative places. On the European continent 
the name of English is given to all subjects of 
his Britannic Majesty; and yet the English, 
Welsh, Scotch, and Irish are by their prejudices, 
customs, and even their local laws, four distinct 
nations : the Irish, a people eminently frank and 
generous, say, and not without reason, that the 
Scotch are the best servants and the worst mas- 
ters in the world ! Bands of those poor devils 
which continually arrive in the colonies, always 
land in tatters 1 

These men are soon placed with the planters 
in the situation of negro drivers, or as clerks 
with merchants : they are laborious, parsimonious, 
and sober when they have to maintain themselves 
at their own expence : they accumulate gradually 
and by pennies, lend their money at usurious in- 
terest, and finish by amassing considerable capi- 

• The author says that this is the period for which Scotch emi- 
grants are in the habit of selling themselves to West India propria 
etors: hence the singular appellation they have acquired. — Ed. 



tals. At length, some become partners in com- 
mercial houses, when they distinguish themselves 
in business by their artifice, a word which, in 
mercantile language, is synonymous with roguery. 
Others become agents for great plantations for 
proprietors; and these are metamorphosed into 
implacable tyrants over their slaves. Both the 
one and the other then affect an insolent haugh- 
tiness, which renders them truly burlesque. 

The Scotch support and assist each other; and 
this principle would be very laudable, if it did not 
proceed from a repulsive and hostile spirit to 
other people, without excepting even the inhabi- 
tants of the other British provinces. It has often 
happened that Scotch merchants and planters 
have dismissed their English and Irish clerks and 
overseers without giving them any other reason, 
and without having really any other, but that of 
replacing them by a Scotch clerk or overseer. It 
is not surprising then that such men, with such 
dispositions, resembling parasite and noxious 
plants, should finish by making themselves 
masters in every country where they have beeii 
suffered to take root. An Irishman alluding to 
this disposition, regarding the Lords Bute, Mans- 
field, Melville and others, as well as the Scotch 
mobility, observed to me one day, " that if ever a 
Scotch plebeian succeeded in acquiring a fortune 
in China, he would end by becoming prime 
minister there; and if the Chinese Emperor would 
let him go on, there would not be a single eccle- 


biastical civil or military situation in the whole 
empire, that in the course of ten years would not 
be filled by Scotchmen !"* 

The first English planters in Tobago, Young, 
Melvill, Franklyn, Robley, Robertson, &c. were 
persons of respectability ; but the clouds of Scotch 
boors, and barbarous Barbadians who became the 
majority there, have corrupted the manners of the 
colony, and rendered it almost as uninhabitable 
for an honest man as that of Botany Bay. 

As there is nothing more absurd, and at the 
same time so unjust as to insult a nation indis- 
criminately, I should declare that nothing is 
more distant from my thoughts and intentions 
than the idea of rendering the Scotch nation 
odious to my readers. Having had occasion to 
observe it in Europe as well as the colonies, hav- 
ing resided at Edinburgh, and travelled in Scot- 
land, I owe it to truth and impartiality to say, 

* However illiberal these opinions of M. Lavaysse may be 
thought by~ some, the Editor, without becoming in any manner a 
party, has already given his reasons for not suppressing them. Bat 
if the concluding comparison applied to our important settlement in 
New South Wales has been hitherto justified, it is most devoutly 
to be hoped that ministers will lose no time in making that stupen- 
dous appendage to the British crown more worthy of the sovereign 
who rules and the subjects that now so unwillingly obey them. The ' 
question has been taken up, but if a system of half measures is 
merely the result of inquiry, the colony might as well be lejt in its 
present wretched condition. For an excellent account of the 
manifold evils under which the colonists suffer, see Mr. Went- 
worth's Statistical and Political Description. 


that I firmly believe there does not exist a peo- 
ple among which there is, in the higher classes, 
more virtue, benevolence, and hospitality. I can- 
not think of the venerated names of Maitland,* 
Whyte,t Duncan, J Munro,§, Gregory, Lind, Blair, 
Read, Beattie, Dugald Stewart, Sir Ralph Aber- 
crombie, the Duke of Buccleugh, and other persons 
with whom I had the happiness to be acquainted, 
without recalling to mind families in which the 
patriarchal and social virtues are hereditary. 

No country has had, and still possesses a grea- 
ter number of illustrious learned and scientific men 
of the first order, than Scotland ; and a circum- 
stance worthy of remark, but of which all na- 
tions unfortunately cannot boast, is that the bio- 
graphy of those literary characters, one only 
perhaps excepted, proves that they were also 
honest men! The present men of learning in 
Edinburgh are worthy of their predecessors. 
Do not those honourable principles prove that 
they have been always estranged from factious 
and sectarian rage ? || 
■' ' ' '■ !■ ■ i i — ■— — — — — — ^— 

* Maitland of Markgill, related to the Earls of Lauderdale. 

t Alexander Whyte, a barrister of the greatest merit 

X Andrew Duncan, professor of medicine, a man of worth 
and science. 

§ Matthew Munro, a great merchant in Grenada ; who pro- 
tected, with all his influence, the persecuted FrenoL He died 
at Bath in 1795. The other names are known to all persons of 

II The Editor feels a peculiar pleasure in having an opportunity 


It is for the moralists of Scotland to explain 
why in a nation where there is so much virtue 
and knowledge in the first classes of society, 
there should be found more servility and mean- 
ness in the lower, than among the chief part of 
the other European nations ; and why, in spite 
of his dress and grimaces, a Scottish courtier so 
much resembles a rich upstart ! 

I hope the reader will pardon me this digres- 
sion, which I have thought necessary to prove 
my impartiality, and I can truly assert that no 
national prejudice has influenced my description 
of manfters. I now return to the subject of 

It is said in this colony that the Lampsins had 
introduced the nutmeg and other aromatic plants 
of the East Indies, and that they are still found 
in the woods growing wild. I have read in an 
English treatise, explanatory of the map of this 
island, by Jefieries, that the nutmeg, cinnamon, 
and myrtus pimenta, which produces the berry 
known by the name of allspice, grow there spon- 
taneously in the gravelly soils. I took a great 
deal of pains in 1803, to discover the nutmeg 

of confirming the author's sentiments on this subject, and whatever 
prejudice or passion may suggest, with respect to that class which 
-seertii to have excited the wrath of If. L&vaysse* there can 
be but owe opaaion entertained as to the unshaken integrity and 
honourable principles whioh distinguish that part of the Scottish 
community he has so properly complimented. 


tree, and I am conyinced it does not exist there. 
I know that some individuals, conversant in 
botany, have made researches as fruitless as mine, 
for the same object. But the cinnamon tree has 
become wild in the island, and I know not why 
they do not cultivate it* The myrtus pimenta 
produces a very agreeable spice, which is an ex- 
cellent tonic, and an indigenous plant* The late 
Mr. Franklyn had made a considerable planta- 
tion of it ; but this was abandoned by his sons, 
in order that they might attend exclusively to 
the culture of the sugar cane. This forest of 
pimento is become, the haunt of innumerable 
flocks of parrots, which are excessively greedy 
of the grain, and so jealous of their property, 
that they exterminate, without mercy, any other 
birds they find there. 

I believe Tobago possesses almost every kind 
of plant that grows in the Antilles ; and besides, 
like Trinidad, the greater part of those which 
are peculiar to Spanish Guiana and Cape de Paria. 
The most valuable, as fruit trees and alimentary ' 
plants, are the orange, lemon, pomegranate, fig, 
and guava trees. 

The culinary plants of Europe, excepting the 
cauliflower, thrive very well in the gardens of 
this island. The figs and grapes are also of a 
very fine flavour, and produce twice a year, 
if care be taken to prune the trees and vines in 
a fortnight or three weeks after the fruit has been 

BIRDS- 361 

gathered. All those useful and nourishing pro- 
ductions of the Island of Tobago, it possesses in 
common with that of Trinidad. 

It is a remarkable circumstance that Tobago 
having the same vegetable productions with 
Trinidad, quadrupeds and birds are found in the 
latter which do not exist in Tobago; and in 
Tobago some birds that belong to the continent 
are not found in Trinidad ; .the katraka, for in- 
stance. It is equally singular, that although a great 
number of them have been taken to Trinidad, and 
fiown to the woods, they never multiplied there. 
Feuillee and M. Sonnini have given a good de- 
scription of this singular bird, which they rank 
in the family of pheasants. 

The Hoccos, those magnificent birds so well 
known in Trinidad, are not found at Tobago. 
The other indigenous birds, or which frequent 
the coasts of this island, are wild ducks, water- 
hens, wood pigeons, turtle and Virginian doves. 

Three varieties of humming birds ; blackbirds 
of yellow and black colours ; thrushes ; white 
woodcocks. A small bird of the size of a sparrow 
with magnificent plumage ; it has the head, neck, 
and the upper part of the body of the most bril- 
liant red ; the feathers of the wings and tail of a 
beautiful purple colour above, and of sky blue 
underneath; its belly is also sky blue. I have 
never seen a more beautiful plumage than this 
little bird exhibits. Herons, the pouched pelican, 


eagles of the Orinoco and flamingoes frequent 
the coasts of this island. 

Though nearly all the quadrupeds of the im- 
mense region contained between the Amazons and 
the Isthmus of Panama, are found at Trinidad, 
very few of them are to be seen in Tobago. The 
small deer of Guiana, so common at Trinidad, 
does not exist at Tobago. 

The amphibious animals which frequent those 
coasts, are turtles and the sea cow. 

On the shores of Tobago are found a great 
variety of shell fish, such as starry, greenish, 
striped, red, and of all the colours of the rainbow 
that have not been described, and of which more 
than one new genus might perhaps be found. 

Those I have more particularly observed ap- 
proach the genus that the most modern natura- 
lists have described under the heads of Venus, Bue- 
trinum, Turrilita, Turritela, Helmet, Stromba, 
Tellina, Voluta, Cene, the oyster, &c Formerly 
great quantities of oysters were attached to the 
mangrove trees in Tobago ; but the destruction 
of those trees has occasioned their disappearance. 

The surface of this island is more elevated in 
the eastern than the western part, which oon tarns 
very beautiful savannas or natural meadows. 
The interior is composed of rounded hills and 
delightful vallies. The rotatory and undulatory 
motions of the currents are every where seen. 

The soil of Tobago is generally rich, and the 

soil. 363 

vegetative earth more or less deep : none have 
stone on the mountains nor in the vallies ; you 
never see those large blocks of hyaline quartz 
that are met almost every where in Trinidad, on 
the summits of mountains as well as the plains. 
The rounded pebbles seen in small quantities at 
Tobago in the beds of rivers, are of quartzose 
freestone, some of hyaline quartz, others of am- 
phibolic schistus, and of the red pebbles noticed 
in a former chapter. The different excursions I 
made in the interior of this island have never 
enabled me to discover either sulphur or carbonate 
of lime. Tobago resembles the eastern part of 
Trinidad, with this difference, that the vegeta- 
tive soil in the first named island, is deeper on 
the hills than on those of Trinidad. The hills 
of both islands have not, like the mountains in the 
Antilles, those sharp peaks, and uncovered sides* 
that denote great volcanic convulsions* Every 
thing seems to indicate that Trinidad and Tobago 
were separated from the continent by a sudden 
retiring of the sea ; the Carribean Islands were 
apparently detached at the same time ; but the 
volcanoes acted, and still act a more important 
part in their granitic and basaltic mountains. At 
the Caribbeatis, the spectator's imagination is 
moved, attracted and transported by the fearful, 
sublime and stupendous : while the pictures pre- 
vented in Tobago and Trinidad are of a calm, 
regular, and magnificent description. 


A very well informed man, though. not a natu- 
ralist, has been struck with this difference in the 
geognostio physiognomy of Tobago from the 
Antilles. " Nature," says Sir William Young, 
" is on a more extensive plan than at the Antilles, 
and gives rather the idea of a continent than of 
an island. It is not merely its neighbourhood to 
South America that suggests this idea. If the 
appearance of the island (which I term its phy- 
siognomy) authorises us to believe that it formed 
a part of that continent, its vicinity indicates still 
more clearly that it was separated violently, and 
that it was, at a remote period, the southern boun- 
dary or a bold promontory of Mexico." 

Scarborough, the capital of this colony, is situ- 
ated in 11° 8 North latitude, and 63° 30' West 
longitude. The island is twenty-four miles in 
length, from north-east to south-west, and twelve 
miles in its greatest breadth. 

In 1803, no more than three families of the 
aboriginal inhabitants, forming in the whole 
twenty-six individuals, remained at Tobago. This 
unhappy race is annihilated in the vicinity of the 
white people, wherever they have not been civi- 
lized by religious institutions. 

The currents near Tobago are very uncertain, 
especially in the channel that separates it from 
Trinidad. At the new and full moon, the tide 
rises four feet. The north-easterly trade wind 
blows- all the year about the island. 

BAYS. 366 

The bays called Man of War, Courland, Sandy 
Point, and King's Bay, are calculated for vessels 
of the largest size. 

Tyrrel's Bay, Bloody Bay, Mangrove Bay, 
Englishman's Bay, Castera's Bay, and La Guira's 
Bay, have good anchorage for vessels of a hundred 
and fifty tons and under. Halifax Bay is fit for 
ships of two hundred and fifty tons ; but there is a 
shoal at the entrance of it which requires a pilot. 

If Tobago is seen towards evening, and the 
navigator fears to approach it, much sail should 
not be carried, but he ought to stretch to the 
southward under easy sail; otherwise, the cur- 
rent, which always runs to the north-west or 
north-east, would make the ship lose sight of 
the island ; and if carried northward, must take 
her so far to leeward, that it would be impossible 
to regain the island. 

On entering any of the bays to leeward, ships 
may approach quite close to Saint Giles's Rock. 
Vessels that come from the eastward, and which 
steer for the south coast of the island, ought 
always to keep well to the southward, other- 
wise the current which is round the lesser Tobago, 
and which always sets to the north-west, would 
carry them too far north. There is nothing to 
fear at the south-west, to the Bay of Courland, 
but rocks above, water, except that called Ches- 
terfield Rock. 



Inquiries concerning the Negroes. — Their intellectual Capabilities.— 
M. Lilet. — Opinion of Camper and BLUMEMBACH^Differeaoe 
between Negro Tribes. — How they are improved*— Blanchbtterk 
Bellbvue. — Cause of Crime and Degeneracy in the Negroes. — 
Instances of Fortitude and Generosity among them. — Anecdote. — 
Allusion to the Cruelties exercised at Surinam.— Singular Instance 
of Resolution in Suffering. — Heroic Speech of a Negro.— Anecdotes. 
—Pride and Vanity of Negroes. — Affection for their Children- 
Causes of Infanticide amongst them. — Poisoning prevalent — Mode 
of punishing the Delinquents. — Objections answered. — Reflections. 
—Advantages of Freedom— Effects of the Slave Trade.— Sir Wil* 
liam Young's Plantation-— Treatment and Management of the Slaves 
there. — Mulattpes.— Their harsh Treatment by Europeans, and 
Condition in the Colonies. 

A great deal has been written on the negroes, 
and very learned men have published many false- 
hoods and absurdities on the subject. As if it 
were not enough that the institutions of their 
country and those of Europeans condemn them 
to slavery, it is also necessary to represent them 
as monsters in the physical and moral world! 
The celebrated Camper quotes the opinion of 
different writers who have discussed this point 
from the times of Herodotus, Strabo and Pliny, 
down to our own days. Will it be believed that 
there have been amongst those, men, who were 


so ignorant of the first principles of zoology, 
as to suppose negroes to be a race produced be- 
tween man and the ourang outang? Buffon, 
Dtfubenton, Camper, Soemmerring, the Munroes, 
Hunter, Blumenbach, Cuvier, Gall, Lacepede, 
and Humboldt, have made researches into their 
organization. Some of those learned men have 
considered them as a species, though they have 
employed the word race ; others deem them a 
variety ; these think the difference of their 
colour, hair, features, and some slight change 
in the bones, are only the effect of climate, 
food, certain habits and local causes, during the 
long succession of ages. One opinion rather 
generally entertained is, that the negroes are a 
race of men very inferior in their intellectual 
faculties to Europeans, the savages of America, 
and even other Africans with straight hair, 
known by the name of Moors. I would ask 
of those who are so little informed on the noblest 
part of natural history, comparative anatomy, 
as to suppose organization to have no relation 
with intelligence, if it be astonishing that men, 
such as the negroes, born in countries destitute 
of every institution for intellectual culture, 
should not have made any progress in the liberal 
arts and sciences ? 

It has been proved* by numerous examples, 

* See " Literature of the Negroes, or Inquiries into their intel- 

368 M. MLET. 

that whenever negroes had the means of receiving 
education, they have profited by it, like the rest 
of mankind. And even while this sheet goes to 
the press has not the Institute of France received 
astronomical observations on the comet of 1811, 
made in the Mauritius, by M. Lilet, a negro born 
in Madagascar, and who has arrived at a know- 
ledge of the superior sciences, without education, 
and by the mere force of genius? 

The illustrious naturalists I have alluded to, 
though they admit that the negroes are of our 
species, (which, I believe, no person of common 
sense now doubts), still consider them as inferior 
to the rest of mankind, as to their intellectual 
faculties. Camper, Soemmerring, and Blumen- 
bach, who have attended particularly to the 
anatomy of the various forms of heads, thought 
they found in this organ, or assemblage of organs, 
the cause of the inferiority in negroes. There are 
to be seen in the anatomical plates of Camper, 
and Blumenbach, heads of negroes, of which the 
facial angle approaches to that of the ape. But 
besides them are the heads of Calmucks, whose 

lectaal Faculties, <&&" by H. Gregoire, formerly Bishop of Blois, 
and a member of the French Institute, <&c 1 vol. octavo, Paris, 

* He has made the best map we possess of the Isles of France 
and Bourbon, and written very interesting, geological and botani- 
cal tracts on Madagascar. Mons. L. is also a correspondent of 
the ancient Academy of Sciences. 

negroes/ 36ft- 

inverted forehead, and the rest .of the shape do 
not announce more intelligence. I am far 
from denying the principles of those excellent 
investigators; but with all the respect I enter- 
tain for their knowledge, I believe, and I hope 
to be able at some period to demonstrate that 
they have hastily decided on this question, from 
too few examples. What, in fact, would be said 
of an African or Asiatic philosopher, if such 
there are, as there have been, in those countries, 
who, seeing sQme ill-shapen sculls of Europeans, 
would decide that the Europeans are necessarily 
a stupid race of men ? - 

Since I have undertaken to descant on this sub- 
ject, I ought to tell the truth. No prejudice or 
other earthly consideration, no fear of displeas- 
ing a class of men, otherwise respectable, but 
whose minds are embittered by misfortunes in 
which I also participate, nothing shall induce me 
to speak otherwise than I think : happy if my 
feeble but impartial voice should at some future 
day enlighten governments on the localities 
and reciprocal interests of colonies and mother 

I shall therefore candidly declare what a re- 
sidence of sixteen years, the possession of estates in 
the colonies, and along habit of governing negroes 
have enabled me to observe. In the first place a 
Moco or Ibo neg;ro differs as much by the. inferio- 
rity of his cerebral organization and intellectual 
powers from a Coromantyn or Gold Coast negro, 

B B 


Mandingo* Congo, -and ^spedially a Mozambique, 
as the Calmucks and some tribes which live not 
far from them, are inferior to Europeans: I pledge 
myself for the correctness of this assertion, which 
though not sufficiently developed now, will be so 
at some future period, by facts and a more learned 
pen than mine.* 

The inferior races of negroes improve in the 
colonies, in respect to intellect, either by their 
mixture with the superior ones, or by a better 
climate than that of Guinea. There is no doubt 
also that their communications with Europeans 
and their descendants contribute to the develope- 
ment of their intellectual faculties. All the 
colonists who possess a spirit of observation, agree 
that the Creole negroes are in general more 
intelligent than the greater part of the Euro- 
pean peasants, and that they are in no respect 
inferior, in this point of view, to the white 

* It is not the history of negroes that I pretend to write ; I 
merely wish to dispel the prejudices that are unfavourable to them. 
Bryan Edwards, though a defender of the coloniul system, ex- 
presses himself thus, in speaking of the negroes of Whydah or 
Fida, commonly called Papos in the colonies : " they are docile, 
and when they have been transported into the colonies it is not 
necessary to employ violence to make them work in agriculture, 
because their own country is very well cultivated. Bosnian, who 
travelled jn that country, speaks with delight of the manner in 
which they cultivated their lands, of their industry, wealth and 
the mildness of their manners." History of the West Indies, 
Vol. II. Book 4. 


Creoles who have not received an education. 
I have known men of great wit and sound 
sense among them. I remarked, however, that 
though the Creole negroes have generally a more 
intelligent countenance than the Africans, they 
have not in their look, and especially their smile, 
either the mildness or benevolence of many of 
the latter. The Coromantyns are distinguished 
by the haughtiness of their gait and looks, without 
any indication of ferocity; the Mandingoes, Foul- 
has, and Mozambiques, by great mildness in their 
lopk and smile ; the Mokos and Ibos by a narrow 
and low forehead, small heads, projecting teeth, 
eyes without expression ; and the Creoles gene- 
rally by traits of trick and cunning, which they 
no doubt acquire in flattering the young whites 
from their earliest infancy. But I have known 
many estimable persons in all these tribes. A 
Creole of Martinico, Mr. Blanchetiere Bellevue, 
who was advantageously known to the Consti- 
tuent Assembly by the brilliancy and vigour of 
his talents, made a collection of their proverbs, 
maxims, and songs. It contains some articles wor- 
thy of being placed beside the Manual of Epic- 
tetus, Aphorisms of Cervantes and of our most 
witty songs. And who have been the authors of 
them ? Negroes and Mulattoes, who are rigidly 
prohibited from learning to read or write !* 

* These opinions of the author are fully borne out by the asto- 
nishing spectacle of a black dynasty in St Domingo, unquestinably 

B B 2 


I think I already hear some of my readers speak 
of their vices, their libertinism, knavery, and 

the most extraordinary event to which the French revolution 
has as yet given rife. When we reflect on the abject state of that 
fine island in J 789, and view the richest portion of it in 1819, 
governed by a legitimate monarch, who is not ashamed of his 
origin, will any one deny that the age of revolutions has not at 
length arrived ? Leaving this part of the wonder to its own merits, 
we have only to contemplate the able organization of the new king- 
dom, and the talents displayed by the members of its administra- 
tion, and fresh sources of amazement burst upon the mind ! 
Parochial and primary schools, on the Madras system, in every 
part of King Henry's dominions ; a royal college, with annual 
prizes given to the most distinguished students. Academies for 
music and painting, a regular national theatre, and royal resi- 
dence, which, for elegance and chasteness of design is not inferior 
to many of the palaces of Europe, a numerous clergy, and a long 
train of nobles, are but a few of the wonders to which our attention 
is now so irresistibly excited in that interesting quarter of the globe. 
The reflections of a native and subjeot of Henry I. the Baron 
de Vastey, in reply to observations contained # in the French 
Journals, deserve to be recorded, while they prove how capable 
a black writer is of emulating his white brethren, even on the 
score of literature. " Five and twenty years ago, 91 says the en- 
lightened baron, " we were plunged in the deepest ignorance, we 
had no notion of society, no distinct ideas of happiness, no power- 
ful feelings ; our faculties, both physical and moral, were so over- 
whelmed under the load of slavery, that I myself who am writing 
this, thought the world finished at the horizon whioh bounded my 
sight ; my ideas were so limited that things the most simple were 
incomprehensible to me ; and all my countrymen were as ignorant, 
and, if possible, even more so than myself! 1 have known many 
of them, who learned to read and write themselves without the 
help of a master; I have seen them walking with their books in 
their hands, inquiring of the passengers^ and begging them to ex- 
plain the signification of such a character or such a word, and in 
this way, have many, already advanced in years, become able to 

KING HENRY t. 373 

propensity to thieving, &o. My reply is, that in 
all times, those vices were and ever will be the 
inseparable companions of slavery. 

read and write without the benefit of education. Such men have 
become notaries, attornies, advocates, and judges, astonishing the 
world by the sagacity of their judgment ; others have become 
painters and sculptors from their own exertions, and have also 
surprized strangers by their productions!" 

That his Haytian Majesty is determined to preserve the struc- 
ture his talents has enabled him to raise, may be inferred from the 
following extract from his manifesto in assuming the regal dignity. 
" The last of the Haitians," says this eloquent state paper, " will 
breathe out his last sigh sooner than renounce his independence. 
Free by right, and independent in fact, we will never relinquish 
these blessings ; nor witness the subversion of the edifice which we 
have raised and cemented with our blood. Faithful to our oath, 
we will rather bury ourselves beneath the ruins of oar country, 
than suffer the smallest infringement of our political rights," In 
addition to his military talents, Henry is represented by those who 
know him, as humane and benevolent, eminently distinguished in 
the exeroise of social virtue, both as a kind parent, good husband, 
and steady friend — strict in the observance of all the duties of 
religion and mobility! Contrary to the too prevalent custom 
both in Europe and Hayti, he attached himself in early life to one 
woman, whom he never forsook. That woman is now Queen of 
Hayti, beloved by all ranks and conditions of his subjects^ The 
King is said to possess a propriety and dignity of manner seldom 
attained by the best educated man ; and his proclamations, gene- 
rally dictated by himself, are compositions of which the most 
civilized cabinets of Europe need not be ashamed ! Since this 
extraordinary man, and honour to his species, has chosen the 
kingly government as best suited to the genius and disposition of 
his people, God grant, that in holding out an example of private 
worth, so justly meriting imitation by many white contemporaries, 
his public conduct may be exempt from those vices which render 
©me of the latter unpopular at home and contemptible abroad !-Ed. 


The cruelties and ferocity which they exercised 
on the whites in Surinam, St. Domingo, and the 
British colonies, where they have revolted, will 
nevertheless be remembered with horror, although 
there can be no difficulty in tracing the original 

Read the dismal history of revolutions, in all 
times and amongst all nations, and you will every 
where see that whenever slaves have succeeded 
in breaking their chains, they have forged arms 
from them to exterminate their masters. But 
since we are on the subject of the character of 
negroes, let us consider them in respect to forti- 
tude and generosity, the first qualities in human 
nature. I shall select some examples, extracted 
from two respectable writers, Bryan Edwards, 
and Mr. Stedman. 

There was a revolt at Jamaica, in 1760, The 
principal chief of the insurgents was named 
Tacky, a Coromantyn negro: he had been a 
chieftain in his own country, and was killed 
about the commencement of the insurrection. 
When government had quelled the revolt, it con- 
demned one of the chiefs to be burnt alive, and 
the two others to be hung up in iron cages, and 
there starved to death, in the public square of 
Kingston. The wretched being destined to be 
burnt, was placed sitting on the ground, his body 
chained to a post, when the fire was placed at his 
feet. He did not utter a sigh, and saw his legs 
/ burnt to cinders with a calm firmnesi ; but the 


chain that confined one of his hands, being loosen- 
ed, he seized one ofahe firebrands that consumed 
him and threw it in the face of his executioner. 

The two others requested to have a good meal 
before they were suspended in their cages, which 
was granted. From that day, says the histo- 
rian of the British colonies, until the one on 
which they expired, they never complained, ex- 
cept of the cold during the night ; but in the 
day time, they conversed gaily with their coun- 
trymen assembled round the gibbet. On the 
seventh day it was rumoured amongst the spec- 
tators, that one of them* wished to communicate 
an important secret to his master, " my near rela- 
tion," says Mr. Edwards : "being absent in the pa- 
rish of St. Mary, the commanding officer sent me 
to hear it. I endeavoured, by means of an interpre- 
ter, to extract the promised information, but we 
could not hear his reply. I recollect that he and 
his companion in misery laughed immoderately 
at something that happened ; though I do not 
remember what it was. On the following morning 
one of them expired without uttering a word, 
and the other died the next day, the ninth of his 

Stedman, after having given a picture of the 
cruelties practised on the negroes at Surinarri, 
relates that on his arrival in that colony, a white 

* History of the British Colonies in the West Indies. Vol. II. 
Book 4. 


man was flogged by a black executioner, for having 
stolen some money from the town-house ; and he 
remarked that this negro inflicted the punishment 
with great signs of commiseration. A negro 
was broken on the wheel for the same crime, and 
he bore that horrible punishment without a sigh. 
A moment afterwards, they prepared to hang 
another, and whilst the hangman was tying the 
cord round his neck to launch him into eternity 
he looked stedfastly, with a smile of contempt, 
at his judges who were amongst the spectators of 
the execution. " Having expressed to the per- 
sons who were near me, (says Captain Stedman) 
how much I was shocked with the injustice and 
cruelty of those executions, and surprised at the 
intrepidity of the negroes during the punishment, 
a very decent looking man thus addressed me : 
" Sir, you are newly arrived from Europe ; but if 
you were better acquainted with negro slaves, 
what you now see would neither excite your sur- 
prise nor your pity. It is not long since I saw a 
negro suspended from that very gibbet by the 
ribs. The following is the manner in which it 
was done : two incisions were made in his side, 
in which was passed an iron hook attached to a 
chain. He lived three days suspended in that man- 
ner, his head' and feet hanging down, licking from 
his bleeding breast the drops of water that fell on 
it, for it rained at the time. The sufferer did 
not, however, utter a groan, and never once com- 
plained. On the third day, another negro was 

Contempt of death. 37f 

flogged under the gallows, and having cried from 
pain, the former reproached him for his want of 
courage : Do gayfasy ? " Are you a man ?" said 
he to him, " you behave like a child V m A moment 
afterwards the soldier who was sentry on the spot 
taking pity on him, dashed out his brains with 
the butt end of his musquet. I saw another negro 
quartered,'' the narrator continued: "after his arms 
and legs were tied to four very strong horses, an 
iron nail was driven under each nail of his hands 
and feet. He suffered that without complaining, 
requested a glass of rum, and ordered the execu- 
tioners to let loose the horses. But that which 
amused us most," continued this monster, " was the 
humour of the fellow, who, when the hangman 
presented the glass of rum to him that he had 
asked for, told him to drink first, as he was very 
much afraid of being poisoned, and desired him 
to take care that his horses should not kick him. 
As for old negroes being broken on the wheel, 
and young women burnt alive, nothing is more 
common in this colony ! ! !"* 

* Narrative of a fire Years Expedition against the revolted 
Negroes of Surinam, by Captain I. G. S ted man. f 

f The process of suspending human beings by their ribs, has 
always been a favourite mode of punishment, amongst many 
others equally repulsive in the Dutch colonies. It is even con- 
fidently asserted that the system of legislation by which these 
horrible cruelties are sanctioned is still in force at the Cape of 
Good Hope : if so, God forbid that any individuals disposed to emi- 
grate from this country, however great their sufferings may be at 

378 A SPEECH. 

Stedman's work is full of instances of the 
cruelty of Europeans, and the heroism of the 
martyred negroes. The noble speech of one of 
those negroes, which I extract from the same 
work, will not be misplaced here. One of the 
fugitive, or revolted slaves^ being brought before 
his judges, who had condemned him previous to 
hearing what he had to say in his defence, re- 
quested to be heard for a few minutes before he 
was sent to execution ; when leave being granted, 
he spoke to the following effect : 

" I was born in Africa : while defending the 
person of my prince in battle, I was taken pri- 
soner and sold as a slave on the coast of Guinea. 
One of your countrymen, who sits amongst my 
judges, purchased me. Having been cruelly 
treated by his overseer, I deserted and went to 
join the rebels in the woods. There also, I was 
condemned to become the slave of their chief 
Bonnay, who- treated me with still more cruelty 
than the whites, which obliged me to desert a 
second time, determined to fly from the human 
species for ever, and to pass the rest of my life 

home, should be induced to select the Cape, while so many less 
exceptionable and more fertile regions are open to them. Let us 
also hope that the meeting of parliament will be marked by a strict 
inquiry into the causes of that war of desolation and bloodshed, 
which is now waging between the poor Caffres, and those 
whom they consider, no matter how erroneously in our opinion, as 
usurper; and invaders.— Ed. 


innocently and alone in the woods. I had lived 
two years in this manner, a prey to the greatest 
hardships and the most dreadful anxiety, merely 
attached to life by the hope of once more seeing 
my beloved family, who are, perhaps, starving 
owing to my absence. Two years of misery 
had thus passed, when I was discovered by the 
rangers, taken and brought before this tribunal, 
which now knows the wretched history of my 
life, and of which the only favour I request is, 
to be executed on Saturday next, or as soon as 
it may be convenient." 

This speech was pronounced with the greatest 
moderation, and by one of the finest negroes the 
author had ever seen. His master, who, as. he 
had remarked, was one of his judges, made him 
this atrociously laconic reply : " Rascal ! it is 
of little consequence to us to know what you 
have been saying; but the torture shall make 
you confess crimes as black as yourself as well 
as those of your detestable accomplices." At 
these words, the negro, whose veins seemed to 
swell with indignation and contempt, retorted in 
showing him his hands; " Master, these hands 
have made tigers tremble ; yet you dare 
to threaten me with that despicable instru- 
ment! No, I despise all the torments which 
you can now invent, as well as the wretch who 
is about to inflict them." On saying these words, 
,he threw himself on the instrument, where he 
suffered the most dreadful tortures without utter- 


ing a syllable. Nor was he heard to say another 
word till the moment of ending his unhappy life 
on the gallows.* 

Does the history of the heroic times contain in- 
cidents more worthy than those of exciting the 
admiration and sympathy of generous minds, and 
what do they require to reach the remotest 
posterity ? 

The interesting history of Stedman is replete 
with traits of generosity and fidelity of the negroes 
to their good masters. He mentions, amongst 
others, a chief of the rebels, who had been treated 
in the most cruel and insulting manner. Having 
surrounded his master's plantation several times 
at night, in the hope of finding the tyrant in it, 
and of exercising his vengeance 'on him ; the 
wife of the latter had remained in the house, and 
each time that the negro chief came, she threw 
herself at his feet, in tears, accompanied by her 
little children. The negro raised her, caressed 
his little masters (as he called them,) shed tears 
of affection over them, and retired, without doing 
the least injury to the plantation. He concluded 
by promising his mistress, of whose conduct he 
could not complain, that he would return no 
more to trouble her. 

Still there are those who assert that the negroes 
are a race of degenerated men, inaccessible to 

* See Vol. II. of the same work, page 208. 

author's impartiality. 381 

every noble and generous sentiment ! Amongst 
the Europeans, could we find, in such circum- 
stances, many whites who would display more 
greatness of sou], and as feeling a heart, as 
this negro of Surinam and his companions in 
arms ? 

Bryan Edwards states in his account of the 
insurrection at Jamaica, in 1760, that the rebels 
spared Abraham Fletcher, the overseer of his 
uncle, because the negroes on that plantation 
assured the insurgents he had always treated 
them with humanity : he adds very properly, 
that this ought to be a lesson for overseers ! 

In order to reply, by facts, to the interested or 
ignorant writers who wish to make negroes pass 
for a depraved and ferocious race of men, un- 
worthy of participating in the advantages of 
civilization, and liberty, I have chosen rather to 
quote two well known authors, Bryan Edwards, 
proprietor of a plantation in Jamaica, where he 
had four hundred negroes, and who certainly was 
not a nigrophttu& 9 and Stedman, an officer in the 
Dutch service, whose interesting voyage bears the 
stamp of sincerity and the most generous feeling. 
I have preferred, in speaking of the character of the 
negroes, also to quote foreign authors, whose repu- 
tation is established, than to relate a great num- 
ber of facts witnessed by myself, and which are 
highly honourable to the character of negroes 
and people of colour. Some of these will not, 
however, I trust, be unacceptable to my readers. 

382 " escape. 

During the civil wars in Martinico, I wandered 
one day to the outposts of our camp, and I found 
myself surrounded in the bottom of a ravine by a 
patrole of negroes and men of mixed blood. I 
thought myself lost, because the 'two parties 
waged a war of extermination. Whilst they 
were deliberating whether they should shoot me 
immediately, or conduct me to head-quarters, 
one of the negroes approached, and said : " It 
was you who, on such a day, asked forgiveness 
for me, when Mr. A. P. my master, would have 
picketted me for a robbery, of which I was inno- 
cent, and which was committed by that comrade 
you see there ! Vous bon bequ6> vous tent enco 
coeur mouton France ! Be tranquil, no harm shall 
be done to you." After this address they no 
longer thought of shooting me, but offered me" 
some rum ; upon which I drank their healths, 
and they drank to mine. They next proposed 
that I should join their party, and promised to 
appoint me as one of their officers. I answered 
that if I were, to accept their generous offers, it 
would be said by my party, that I had deserted, and 
was a traitor. Upon this they unanimously ap- 
proved my view of the subject, and permitted 
me to teturn to my camp, merely requiring my 
word of honour that I would not mention what 
had occurred to any one, adding, that if their 
general (which general was a white) heard they 
had spared me, they might readily lose their 
lives for it. 


Afterwards, during the civil war in Saint Lucia, 
one day when I carried an order to a post half a 
league from our camp, I was aimed at by a detach- 
ment of mulattoes and negroes concealed in a 
thicket. Five or six shots were fired, none of 
which reached me. A man of colour seized the 
bridle of my horse, and whilst I was drawing 
my sabre to rid myself of him, he shouted to his 
comrades, " Stop firing, do not injure this white 
man;" and I remained motionless, with my 
sabre lifted over his head. I was immediately 
surrounded, he who held my bridle was told that 
I must dismount to be shot. " You shall not 
shoot this white man, or if you persist in it, I will 
die with him!" was the reply of Belfond, in- 
a voice of thunder. " This white-man has never 
despised people of colour : when he speaks to 

us he always says Sir I went to his house 

some time ago on business, he was at breakfast 
and made me sit at table with him. Are there 
many fellows of that cast ?" 

Here I ought to mention what I have observed, 
in common with all persons who have had the 
means of studying the character of negroes and 
people of colour ; it is, that there are no men in 
the world more susceptible of contempt*. I have 

* The negroes have naturally a great deal of pride in their 
character ; but it degenerates into vanity in the state of slavery. 
With respect to negro vanity, the following circumstance hap- 
pened at Blois last year. Some catholics and protectants exhort- 

384 PRIDE. 

seen negroes become furious by a contemptible 
or ironical look from their master or overseer, 
though not accompanied by any offensive ex- 
pression in language : I have seen them com- 
plain of it in the most audacious tone, and at 
the hazard of being knocked down. One day 
when a negro annoyed me with his com- 
plaints against a sorcerer, who, he said, had ren- 
dered his cocks and hens barren, and given his 
pigs the cholic, I shrugged up my shoulders in 
looking at him with an air of compassion ; whilst 
he, with eyes sparkling with rage, exclaimed; 
" strike me, if you please ; but do not look at me 
awry !" To make amends for this involuntary 
offence, I told him that if he had taken better 
notice of me, he would have seen I did not 
look at him with contempt,- but that it was 
an involuntary movement of pity, in seeing a 

ed a young negro to be baptized. He was on the point of deciding 
in favour of the protestant faith. M. de M. . . . undertook the 
conversion of the sable candidate, and gained a victory over the 
children of Calvin, for he was baptized by a parish priest. 
M. de M. . . . gave him twelve francs (ten shillings) as a present 
on the day of his baptism. In what does the reader suppose 
that he employed this money ? He inquired if there was not a 
sedan chair in Bio is, and found there was one. Upon which 
our young proselyte gave the twelve francs to two chairmen, to 
carry bim through ail the streets. At every moment he put his 
head out of the windows, to show his beautiful hair highly pow- 
dered ! But what most flattered his self-love, on this occasion, was 
doubtless to see himself thus carried by two whites ! 


sensible negro like him, esteemed as he was by 
all the whites/ believe in such nonsense. This 
little compliment composed him : I saw a smile 
on his lips, and satisfaction in his eyes ; but he 
did not believe a whit the less in the influence of 

The negroes, in general, show the greatest 
fondness for their children, and do not refuse 
them any thing. It is, however, but truth to 
say 9 that when they deserve chastisement, they 
perform it with violence ; but their children are 
the most obstinate weepers in the world, and the 
father or mother after having beaten them several 
times, generally finish by giving them playthings 
or cakes to pacify them. 

All I can say of the religion of the negroes 
is, that some are idolaters, and others Maho- 
metans ; but the greater part of them are cir- 
cumcised* It appears certain that they practised 
circumcision before Mahometanism was known to 
them. The idolatrous negroes are of milder 
manners than the Mahometans, probably because 
their religion is not intolerant. 

The two crimes most revolting to nature, abor- 
tion and infanticide, ought to be very rare amongst 
men who have so much affection for their chil- 
dren ; yet there are frequent instances of them : 
but it is only on plantations where negroes are 
treated with injustice and cruelty. In such cases it 
is not uncommon for a negro and his wife to resolve 
on poisoning themselves and their children, to 


386 mode or POISONING. 

to be freed from misfortunes without a remedy. 
They always begin by poisoning their children, 
then some of the slaves who are most useful to 
their masters, such as the refiners, carpenters, or 
masons. Thus they have before they die the plea- 
sure of seeing their masters exasperated and ruined 
by the loss of their slaves. They usually employ 
slow poisons, the effects of which endure for 
several months ; thereby enjoying for a long time 
the only revenge they can practise on their op- 
pressors; because, for themselves, they consider 
death as a benefit, and passage to a better life. 
It is very remarkable that when a negro has taken 
a resolution to ruin his master, by poisoning his 
gang, he is never informed against by his com- 
rades, though they generally know who the 
poisoner is, and that each expects to perish by 
the effects of his vengeance : they preserve his 
secret inviolably, which is often difficult to learn 
from them * even in the midst of punishments ! 
Then the proprietor, who sees his fortune ruined 
by the daily deaths of his slaves, demands from 
government the appointment of a commission for 
trying the poisoners. Those commissions bear, 
in the French colonies, the name of burning 
chambers, and they are well termed. The pro- 
prietor or his overseer fills the offices of accuser 
and judge at the same time : in this simulation of 
a trial, where sentence is always pronounced at 
the will of the proprietor, who is at once accuser, 
witness, reporter, and judge, pretended sorcerers 


are often employed to find out the guilty, who 
have great influence on the minds of the negroes, 
and who are themselves poisoners by profession. 
It happens even at times that great proprietors con- 
sider themselves sufficiently powerful, to do what 
they call justice, in their blind fury at home, and 
which consists in burning,by their private authority, 
the negroes they believe to have been guilty of 
poisoning, I expect already that certain persons 
who cannot be cured of their prejudices by any 
revolution, and whom no misfortune can render 
reasonable, will term me a nigrophilus. I shall 
not reply to such an accusation ; but merely say 
that the colonial system in the American islands 
is a monstrous anomaly. The slave trade makes 
every European shudder, who has human feelings, 
when he sees herds of negroes landed, who are 
sold like beasts of burden. I appeal to the recol- 
lection of all those who have been present at sales 
from slave ships. What sensations did they ex- 
perience, when, for the. first time they saw those 
bargains for human flesh, before the interest of 
the moment and custom had familiarized them to 
this abuse? The same, I suppose, that a man 
feels, who for the first time is present at a scene 
of carnage, or who. commits his first bad action. 
In favour of the actual colonial system, it will be 
asserted that St. Domingo and our other colonies 
enlivened our commerce, caused our manufactures 
to flourish, and enriched France. I agree to all 
that; but the cause and the source of those riches 



was neither less odious nor unjust. The Bri- 
tish East India Company might employ those 
very arguments to justify all the crimes of which 
its agents have been guilty. I believe it is proved 
to every dispassionate mind and every honest 
heart, that colonies would have been more popu- 
lous, and rendered much more wealth to parent 
states, if, in their origin, they had been peopled 
with freemen. In fact, is it not known to all 
those who have occupied themselves with this 
matter, that it was necessary to renew the 
slave population of our colonies every twenty 
years, or, which amounts to the same thing, that 
they annually lost the twentieth part of their po- 
pulation ? Yet the colonies of freemen, situated 
on the continent of North America, doubled 
theirs every twenty-five years, and have doubled 
it every sixteen years since their independence. 
The means of subsistence are much less abundant, 
and require more labour from man, in those co- 
lonies, than in the Antilles; and it is known that 
when all other matters are equal, population in- 
creases in proportion to the means of subsistence. 
These facts, which cannot be denied by the apo- 
logists for negro slavery, without modification,* 
prove how bad this system is in respect to interest, 

* I have put the expression without modification in italics, 
because whoever proposes to ameliorate the situation of the people 
of colour and negroes, is pointed out as an anarchist, by a class of 
men whose prejudices are incurable. 


independently of its immorality. Mr. Edwards 
has proved that the capital invested in the British 
colonies, in agricultural establishments, does not 
render five per cent, during twenty years, on the 
greater part of the plantations. M. de Humboldt 
has proved, in his Statistics of Mexico, that the 
labour of slaves costs more than that of freemen. 
Is it then worth the trouble of emigrating, re- 
mitting property so far, and committing so much 
injustice and cruelty, for such small profits ? It is 
generally believed in Europe, that the money 
employed in purchasing a good plantation in the 
colonies, produces fifteen per cent, and sometimes 
more. This is true, when the plantation is well 
and humanely regulated. That which ruins the 
greater part of the proprietors, is the mortality 
of the negroes : of a thousand transported from 
Africa, grief or ill-usage destroys one third, 
in the first three months after their arrival ; and 
at the end of six or seven years, seven or eight 
tenths of the others are dead ! In Trinidad, To- 
bago, and Grenada, it is considered very fortunate 
when of thirty young negroes bought in the 
course of a year, there may be six in good health 
five years afterwards. On the greater part of 
the plantations the negroes have few children ; 
a third of those children do not reach the age 
of one year, and the half of another third never 
arrive at the age of four, the period at which 
they are considered as escaped, according to the 
expression of the country. 

390 si tt wiluam yockg, 

But I ought to state that there are plantation* 
in the British and French colonies, where the 
population augments, as in the best regulated 
countries. It increases almost equally with the 
white population in the Spanish and Portuguese 
colonies, because the negroes there are treated 
with great humanity. Of all the British, French, 
and Spanish plantations I have known, the one 
on which the most admirable order is preserved, 
is undoubtedly that of Sir William Young at St. 
Vincent's. This plantation, delightfully situated 
partly on the declivity of a hill and partly in the 
plain, on the sea coast, is watered by a fine river. 
The negroes are as well lodged as the substantial 
peasantry in the finest countries of Europe, while 
their properties are inviolable. The father of the 
present proprietor always took care that, in his 
absence the plantation should be managed by a 
man of known humanity, and his worthy son 
follows the example. There, neither the manager 
or his deputies have the privilege of flogging the 
negroes. When a negro has committed a fault, 
the manager or overseer gives an account of it to 
the attorney, who pronounces sentence, after hav- 
ing heard the accused and the witnesses he produces 
in his defence. It is well known at St. Vincent's * 
that this plantation is that of the whole island on 
which the fewest crimes are committed, and a whole 
year sometimes passes without the necessity of pu- 
nishing a negro on it, whilst a day seldom occurs 
but some negro is flogged on the adjacent estates. 


Amongst other excellent regulations made by 
Sir William, one deserves to be particularly 
noticed: as soon as the physician has declared 
a negress with child, she is dispensed from all 
work, and not required to labour until one month 
after child-birth. As long as she suckles her 
infant, she is allowed two hours more repose 
every day than the other negroes, and on Saturday 
she is not permitted to work. If she has two chil- 
dren, she has two free days, without reckoning 
Sunday, which all the others have. Should she 
have three, she is allowed three days : in short, 
she has a day free for each child of which she is 
the mother, so that the negress who has six chil- 
dren is exempted from all work at the plantation. 
So that her whole time is free for the duties of 
housewifery, and she does not.the less receive her 
rations of seven pots of meal and four pounds of 
salt meat and fish, as well as a similar ration for 
each of her children. There are on this planta- 
tion a chaplain and physician, who take the great- 
est care of the negroes ; for Sir William Young 
has never employed any but men of probity. The 
population is so increased on the estate, that not 
only has there been no necessity for a long time 
past to purchase any negroes, but there were in 1806 
more than the number necessary for cultivating it ; 
and yet the proprietor has had the good sense and 
humanity not to sell any of his slaves, by whom he 
is adored. When his father died at St. Vincent's, 
the negroes presented a petition praying that the 


remains of their dear master might be interred in 
the plantation : thus it fras that they still called 
him in 1804 ; and I have seen those of them who 
wept in pronouncing his name, though it was 
then more than twenty years since his death! 
When the body of Sir William was conveyed on 
board a vessel anchored off the wharf of the plan- 
tation, to be sent to England, for the purpose of 
being deposited in the vault of his ancestors, the 
negroes who could not obtain boats to accompany 
it on board, swam after it as far as the ship ; and 
respectable persons in the island have assured me, 
that some who were not good swimmers, drown- 
ed themselves in this pious enterprize ! 

The negro population increases on all the plan- 
tations that are administered with humanity. 
Amongst the establishments which I can men- 
tion most favourably are, in the first place those 
of the religious missionaries of Martinioo and 
Guadaloupe, where the negroes were treated m 
a patriarchal manner, and instructed on princi- 
ples of religion, and in which neither concubin- 
age nor adultery are permitted. Many othqr 
estates are managed with great humanity : those 
which I have most known, are the planta- 
tions of Fortier, Du Buc, at the Grand Fond 
and Gallion, of Lucy, Fossarieu, &c. ; in Marti- 
nico and Guadaloupe the plantations of Poyen, 
Gondrecourt, Desislets, and Decressoniera, Bel* 
legarde, &c. I believe that on the greater part 
of the plantations in the British and French co- 


lonies, the negroes are humanely treated, and 
merely name those more particularly known to 
me for good administration. 

Let it not be supposed from what I have said 
above, that I approve of the opinions of those 
who, in the revolutionary delirium, liberated 
the slaves without modification, and raised them 
to the rank of citizens. Though a victim, like 
a great number of the colonists, to the conse- 
quences of that measure, I have not less esteem 
and regard for some of its promoters. Their 
sincere zeal for the cause of humanity, and the 
exaggerated opinions of that period, which mis- 
led them, form their excuse. I can distinguish 
between some worthy men, whose sensibility and 
imagination were inflamed by fictitious represen- 
tations of the cruelties of the colonists, and the 
mountebanks of philanthropy, such as Raynal* 
and some of his disciples, who, whilst they en- 
riched themselves in the negro trade, did not 
cease to represent the colonists as tyrants. We 
now know how to appreciate the false zeal and 
hypocrisy of those pretended friends of huma- 
nity, impostors who, if born in another age, 
would have been fanatical monks. 

Now that I have concluded this very imper- 
fect sketch of the colonial system, and freely 

* It is well known that Raynal held shares in the slave ships 

of the house of D of Nantes, and in those of the firm of 

Sollier, of Marseilles. 


expressed my opinions on the condition and cha- 
racter of the negroes, many of the colonists and 
apostles of the liberty of the negroes will doubt- 
less be greatly offended. For if the least im- 
provement in the situation of the slaves, or small- 
est shock on their authority be merely hinted, they 
instantly exclaim, " he is a nigrophilus!" a term 
of reproach which, in their language, is a gross 
insult. But the past ought to serve as a lesson 
for the future. The organization of the colonies 
that are restored at a general peace, or those 
which may be founded, in future times, ought 
seriously to occupy the attention of government. 
I shall make an observation in this place which 
may appear paradoxical to many: it is, that 
there is a much greater distance from the savage 
to the pastoral state, than from the latter to one 
of the highest civilization. Accordingly it would 
be much more easy to give a horde of Tartars, 
Hottentots, or negroes a taste for our manners, 
customs and sciences, than it has been hitherto 
found to persuade the American savages to rear 
flocks and herds, or make them feel the advan- 
tages of the most simple agriculture. But when 
the negroes succeed in obtaining their liberty, 
they are generally found to form new planta- 
tions, and some of them, by dint of labour and 
economy, become great proprietors in the end. 
Others act as extensive traders, and such are seen 
in all the colonies, especially at Trinidad, where 
they often become considerable merchants. I 

mulattoes; 399 

have thought it necessary to make this remark* 
in order to point out a marked difference 
between the character and dispositions of the 
negroes and savages. £uch a form of govern- 
ment, and law, as may be good for the one, is 
not fit for the others: this then is what those 
who undertake to superintend their civilization 
ought to be convinced of; for if they do vio- 
lence to nature, they will cause her to retro- 
grade instead of advancing. 

This would be the proper place to speak of 
people of mixed blood, who, in the European 
languages are stigmatised with the insulting deno- 
mination of Mulatto. And who are the men 
that have given them this epithet ? Even those 
who begot them in their brutality ! The fate of 
those unfortunate people is at least as much to be 
pitied as that of the negroes. They know that 
they are the children of whites, and yet they are 
treated by their fathers and brothers as an abject 
and proscribed cast ! There are none, even to 
the negroes, who do not arrogate to themselves 
the privilege of despising them ; and the hatred 
which is continually fomented between these two 
classes, is one of the great pivots of colonial po- 
licy. A white man forms a connection with a 
negress or a mulatto woman; he has children 
by her '; the mother rears them' with tender- 
ness ; the father caresses and takes care of them, 
though, in the greater part of the colonies they 
are prohibited from giving him the fond appella- 


tion of father.* This class is so degraded, that 
a woman of colour considers it an honour to be 
the concubine of a white man ; but she regards 
herself as his wife, and generally maintains an 
inviolable fidelity to him, though she knows that 
her keeper will abandon her as soon as he may 
take a fancy to marry a white woman. 

Whatever education a man or woman of colour 
may have received, whatever may be their vir- 
tues, however considerable their fortunes, no- 
thing can raise them to a level with the meanest 
white, who is authorized by the prejudices of 
the country to treat them with ' insolence. And 
yet those men and women of colour are daily 
seen to practise the kindest hospitality towards 
unfortunate whites abandoned by every one else. 
I could fill a volume with instances of gene- 
rosity and humanity in the negroes and people 
of colour, and shall conclude this chapter by the 

Mr. J. B. Solger was born in Grenada, the 
offspring of a French officer and a negress. His 
father never noticed him, nor ever took any care 

* One of the most grave, rich and immoral magistrates in 
Martinico, had a child by a woman of colour in 1798. In 1802 
this child, of whom it was positively asserted that the said magis- 
trate was the father, ran after him crying " papa, papa f whilst he 
was riding in Lamentin. The wretch made his horse trample on 
the poor child, and struck it with his horsewhip ; saying to the 
unhappy mother, " this will teach you how to make that little 
serpent call me father again." 


either of the son or his mother. Thanks to his 
talents and industry, Mr. Solger has become one 
of the greatest proprietors in Trinidad ; and this 
fortune he owes entirely to his own activity and 
prudence. His father, on the other hand, lost his 
property and profession, during the troubles 
which agitated Martinico, in the beginning of 
the French revolution. Upon this his neglected 
son allowed the unworthy parent a large pension 
from the moment he was informed of the loss of 
his fortune, until the day of his death ! 



Indians. — Classed into Caribs and Farias. — Opinion of Rochefort — 
Contradictory Accounts of that Writer. — Analogies. — Religion of 
the early Tribes. — Sorcery. — Sylvester. — Anecdote. — Curious Dia- 
logue. — First Establishment of Missions. — Comparison. — Reflec- 
tions. — Jesuits. — Mission of St. Joseph. — Mass of the Indians. — 
A Review — Indians op Guiana. — Anecdote. — Degraded State of 
some Tribes. — Custom of selling their Wives and Children- — 
Indians of Trinidad. — Their uncivilised State. — Nefarious Conduct 
of some English Proprietors. — The Arrouages. — Their Trade. — Ac- 
couchement of the Indian Mothers. — Conjectures. — Account of the 
Black Can bs of St* Vincent's. — Visit to Grand Sablt t and curious 
Description of a Carib Chief. — Concluding Remarks, B 

I distinguish the natives of the South Ameri- 
can coast, comprised between the mouth of the 
Amazons and that of the Orinoco, and from that 
river as far as Cape de Vela, including those who 
formerly inhabited the Antilles, in two great 
classes or principal casts, the Caribs and the Farias. 
The Arrouages, Arrouakans, or Arroouaks (ac- 
cording as those words arc pronounced by the 
Spaniards, British, or French), Gal ibis or Calibites, 
Guaraouns andGuahiros, appear to he tribes of the 
fine race of Caribs* A great number of tribes are 
treated with much contempt by the Caribs and 

CLASSES. - 399 

Arroouaks,.the two principal nations and rivals of 
this part of South America, It is very remark- 
able that Paria should be that cast of all others 
which they most despise. 

It appears that the primordial nation was sub- 
divided previous to the conquest by the Euro- 
peans, into a great number of tribes which were 
different from each other in distinct customs and 
languages, the effects of local causes and national 

Previous to my hazarding some conjectures on 
the origin of those nations, it will not be impro- 
per to insert what is said of them by a traveller 
who visited the Antilles about the middle of the 
seventeenth century. Rochefort, in his Natural 
and Moral History of the^ Antilles, says that the 
Caribs of his tribe were as ignorant of their own 
origin, as of monuments of antiquity, and as little 
curious of the present, as of the future; that the 
chief part of them believed themselves descended 
from the G alibis, their allies and great friends, 
and neighbours of the Arroouaks, in the country 
known by the name of Guiana. 

Some of the traditions relative to the origin of 
the Indians have, it must be confessed, quite the 
appearance of being fabricated by the European 
writers of the seventeenth century, who were 
anxious to make a figure amongst their contem- 
poraries, as persons occupied in learned researches. 
Their writings bear an appearance both of cre- 
dulity and enthusiasm. Rochefort, who col- 


lected the stories of that time to give them a very 
clumsy historical form, is full of glaring contra- 
dictions in his reasoning. For instance, after hav- 
ing said that the Caribs of the continent peopled 
the desert Antilles, he says, a moment afterwards, 
that they exterminated a race of Arroouaks, who 
were the inhabitants of them. Still there are 
found both in his relation, and that of Bistok, 
whom he quotes with great praise, some inte- 
resting facts for the learned, who are fond of in* 
quiring into the origin and history of barbarous 
nations. Some things may excite their curiosity 
and inquiries, such as the words Carib and Amana, 
common to the people of Florida and of South 
America, and to the platforms or elevated plains 
of those two countries so distant from each other. 
It also appears by these writers that the Floridans 
adore the sun ; and that the men did not give it 
the same name that the women did. The for* 
mer calling it hayeyou, and the. latter kachi ; the 
sun was the good principle with those people, 
and they acknowleged a bad principle, which 
they named mabouya ; a name which they gave 
to mushrooms, and poisonous plants in general. 
There are in the Antilles, at St. Lucia, for in- 
stance, mountains which still bear the name of 
Maybouya. They offered sacrifices of deer to 
the good spirit, on elevated places, and made 
offerings to Mabouya in caverns. They called 
those offerings cmacri. The Caribs worshipped 
beneficent deities, subordinate to the Great Being ; 


According to the person^ who collected these tra- 
ditions during the seventeenth century, the wo* 
men did not give to the inferior beneficent deities 
the same names as the men ; they called them 
tchemum, and in the plural tchemimim; while 
the men called the spirits of an inferior order je- 
heiri in both numbers. These names are still foUnd 
in the superstitions of the savages who live in the 
neighbourhood of the Orinoco, and in the vallies 
of the coast range of Cumana, even amongst 
many of those who frequent the missions. I 
have never perceived that they worshipped the 
good spirit or great being during the many years 
I lived amongst them, with the authority of a 
chieftain, and enjoying as much of their confi- 
dence as they could well grant to a white. But, 
they make many offerings to Mabouya, the bad 
principle; or to speak more correctly, to his 
priests or sorcerers, who unite in their persons 
all authority and science, the same individual ex- 
ercising generally the functions of civil cuqtd mili- 
tary chief, priest and physician, until a more 
clever or a bolder impostor supplants him. Yet ' 
these changes never produce any tumult or san- 
guinary scenes. The various tribes of Indians 
were independent previous to the arrival of the 
Europeans ; they waged war against ejach other, 
and then, no doubt, it was those who possessed 
most cunning or courage, that obtained authority. 
But since these tribes have been subjected or re- 
strained by the descendants of the Europeans, ijt 



is only by trick and knavery that an Indian suc- 
ceeds in exercising some authority amongst his 
people. I was enabled to observe a curious in- 
stance of it in Trinidad. An old Indian, named 
Sylvester, who was still living when I quitted the 
island, although blind, exercised an authority 
almost absolute over the Indians of the north part 
of the island ; he was about sixty years old in 1806: 
he lost his sight in the following curious manner: 
having had a species of ophthalmia in 1792, another 
sorcerer persuaded him that he had an infallible 
specific for curing him. On this occasion Syl- 
vester allowed himself to be deceived by the other 
cheat ; who blew some powder into his eyes, and 
scratched them with a thorn of the mauritia acu- 
leate. When he was convinced, some days after- 
wards, that he had become blind from the malice 
of his physician, he ordered him to be brought 
into his presence, and after having reproached 
him before the rest of his tribe with the crime, 
which he attributed to an ambition of succeeding 
him, he predicted* that his rival should die in 
torments in a few days, as a punishment for the 
offence. In fact, he did die in the manner Syl- 
vester had foretold. In pronouncing his male- 
diction, the impostor added that this outrage, far 
from destroying his authority and influence, 
would consolidate them still more, and there is 
no doubt that the prophecy was fully accom- 
plished. Though execrated and despised by 
the Indians, he maintained an absolute sway 


merely from the fear with which his malignant 
practices inspired them. When this abominable 
old man hears of a pretty Indian' girl, he orders 
that she shall be brought to him, and as jealous 
as the Indians are of their wives and daughters, 
still none dare oppose his desires. An Indian would 
believe himself damned if he consented to serve a 
white man as hunter, fisher or servant, without 
having obtained permission of Captain Sylvester, 
(for that is the title he has chosen), and this per- 
mission is only to be obtained by making him pre* 
sents. While I held the office of corregidor in his 
neighbourhood, which gave me authority over 
him, I employed the means of persuasion, rather 
successfully to dissipate the fascination and fears 
of the Indians. When be found his authority 
nearly extinct, he caused himself to be conducted 
to my house one day, and requested a private 
conference, which I granted, he then without 
further preamble, proposed to divide his autho- 
rity with me. I appeared to enter into his views, 
on condition that he would initiate me into his 
magical secrets ; to which he readily consented. 
This first interview took place in the morning : 
I invited him to dine with me, on condition that 
he was to reveal his secrets after dinner. Whilst 
waiting for the hour of dinner,^ I went to the 
village to propose to some of the most superstitious 
amongst the Indians, and some others of those 
who were the least so, to come and be witnesses of 
what was to pass between us. They agreed to it, 




even to his brother Antonio, who has as much good 
nature and frankness in his disposition, as Syl- 
vester has cruelty and perfidy. I recommended 
them to maintain a profound silence, and placed 
them in a room, from whence they could see and 
hear all that passed between the sorcerer and 
myself. After having enlivened him with a good 
dinner, and a few glasses of claret and Madeira, 
our conversation turned on his knowledge of 
magic. He supposed himself alone with me. " Is 
it not true, Sylvester," said I, " that you would not 
pass for so great a magician if your followers were 
not such silly creatures ? It is not to reproach 
you that I say this ; you are very right in taking 
advantage of the superiority of your genius. It 
is the same amongst us — men of talents live at the 
expence of fools." 

" Let me have another glass of Madeira, and a 
cigar/' replied Sylvester, with the usual smile of 
deceit upon his countenance, " and I shall then in- 
struct you in all I know about it." He now made 
a pompous display of his knowledge of plants, and 
of his talent at employ ing them in the cure of dis- 
eases, wounds, ulcers, &c. " Is that all your witch- 
craft, Sylvester?" — " It is indeed, master ."— " How 
then have you been able to persuade the Indians 
that you knew so much, that you can find out 
every thing, and that by your connection with 
the great Mabouya, you could load them with 
calamities, and even make them die ?" Sylvester 
continued to smoke his cigar, and did not reply. 


" How did you manage to destroy the Indian, who 
under the pretence of curing blinded you?"-*" And 
pray, Mr. Corregidor, if any one had put out your 
eyes, would you not kill him if you could I"— 
''That is not to the point : I ask how you who are 
blind could contrive to kill the fellow who blind- 
ed you?—" Then you believe he was a wicked 
wretch ?"—r" Most certainly I do, Sylvester." — 
" I hcid him poisoned."—" iSo then it was neither 
the Devil nor the great Mabouya that killed him:" 
— " It is I who am the Devil and the great Ma- 
bouya," exclaimed Sylvester with a loud laugh. 
" Thus, Sylvester, all your magic consists in the 
knowledge of plants, especially of those which 
are fit for poisoning your enemies."—" I know 
also how to make grimaces which frighten the 
Indians." — " Do me the favour to inform me, 
Sylvester, who it was taught you all those fine 
things." — "He who was chieftain before me, 
taught me a part, but I have invented much more 
of them than he ever told me." 

"I know, Sylvester, that it was you who hin- 
dered the Indians from becoming christians ; that 
it was you who tore down the cross which the 
missionaries had placed here some years ago ; 
tell me sincerely : I will give you an anker of 
rum, a hat, shirt, and pair of shoes, if you say 
the truth/'—" The missionaries are more expert 
magicians than myself. I should no longer have 
any influence if there was a priest here : those 
priests are great rascals; Messrs* *** have told 


me. so." — " Sylvester, those you mention are very 
bad people, and libertines ; they could not debauch 
the Indian women, and cheat the men, if there 
were a priest in the village. " — " Gossip Conregi- 
dor, for my own part I don't like priests !" 

Here the dialogue raided ; when, addressing 
myself to the Indians, I observed," this is the man 
in whom yon blindly believed, and who: makes you 
do either good or evil, according to his interest or 
caprice, and who has made you bear false witness." 
Upon this nearly all the Indians, not Excepting 
his brother, overwhelmed him with reproaches, 
abuse and curses. A moment before, he believed 
himself alone with me ; he was now petrified, and 
had not a word to say : immediately afterwards, 
he requested a glass of spirits, in a violent tremor, 
and returned home amidst the hootings of his for- 
mer admirers, conducted by an orphan girl of fif- 
teen years old, who he had instructed to be the 
minister of his infamy. I never saw a countenance 
exhibit a more guilty expression than that of this 
wretch, at the conclusion of the above scene. 

At the commencement of the. seventeenth 
century, the Jesuits established several missions 
about this part of South America, and the Ca- 
ribs advanced towards civilization as rapidly as 
could be expected from their indolence and 
that carelessness produced by a mild climate, 
where the earth produces spontaneously and 
without labour, a great quantity of roots and 
fruits fit for the sustenance of man ; where the 


forests abound in game, and the rivers and coasts 
in fish. To these natural advantages the Caribs 
add the cultivation of some plants, such as the 
banana, yam, sweet potatoe, the manioc or mani- 
hot, maize, &c. The fruitfulness of the soil is such, 
that seven or eight days of moderate labour in 
the course of the year, will furnish a Carib abun- 
dantly with all the vegetable part of his food. 
The chase and the fisheries, which for him are 
not labour, but exercise and amusement, supply 
the remainder. A day of hunting or fishing ge- 
nerally yields subsistence for a family for a 
fortnight: what is not eaten fresh, is salted or 
smoke dried. 

But how much the situation of the South Ame- 
rican Indian differs from that of him who inhabits 
the northern regions ! The latter neither plants 
nor sows : some wild fruits, not very nourishing, 
compose his vegetable diet ; it is true that for 
seven or eight months, during which his spring, 
summer and autumn last, the forests supply him 
with game, and the lakes and rivers with fish ; 
but how deplorable is his fate during a severe, 
winter of four or five months ! Then, torment- 
ed and excited by hunger, like the wild beasts 
that dispute the empire of the deserts with him, 
he penetrates the forest with his family, to give 
chace to bears and deer. He is sometimes weeks, 
nay, whole moons without finding any means of 
subsistence, on a ground covered with snow, or 
fish in those rivers and lakes indurated with ice. 


Yet the child of nature is passionately attached 
to this poor, and wandering bat free life : be 
speaks with contempt of our riches, dress and 
palaces, and he holds our social institutions in 
horror. Still, however, if a germ of civilization 
should be introduced amongst these people, it 
will make rapid and durable progress. • There is 
in the physical and moral constitution of the in- 
digenous inhabitants of America, situated in the 
same latitudes as Europe, an energy of charac- 
ter, an apitude for the abstract combinations of 
the mind, and a taste for eloquence, as well as a 
beauty and strength of body, which render them 
very superior to the indolent and apathetic abo- 
riginal of the hot countries of the same conti- 
nent. Some tribes of the United States already 
give the most brilliant hopes, particularly the 
Illinois, Creeks, and Cherokees. They have, in 
fact, made the most difficult step towards civiliza- 
tion. The great Washington had the happiness 
and glory of introducing the use of the plough 
amongst them ; a glory, in my opinion, equal lo 
that of having been the hero of his country's 

* Whatever the policy of General Washington may have been, 
towards the poor Indian tribes, all his successors have not justi- 
fied the praises of M. Lavaysse, as most amply proved by the 
recent war of extermination, carried on against the ill-rated 
Seminole and Creek Indians* The whole conduct of that war, 
including its origin, progress and sanguinary climax, the murder 
of Arbuthnot and Ambrister, furnish materials for history, by 


Amongst those who have laboured to propa- 
gate Christianity in South America, the Jesuits, 
no doubt, met with great success ; they devoted 
themselves with admirable skill and perseverance 
to give savages a taste for agriculture and the arts 
which are indispensable to it ; and though the in- 
stitutions which have succeeded them, be not as 
ably organized and administered as theirs, yet it 
is but justice to say, that there*are in South Ame- 
rica missions in which the greatest order reigns, 
and where the Indians live as happily as our na- 
ture permits. I have been enabled to observe 
those of the Island of Trinidad, and the provinces 
of Venezuela. One of the most interesting is 
that of Saint Joseph, situated almost at the foot 
of the mounts Ithamaques. This is on the bank 
of a small stream which flows into the Caroni, and 
not far from the junction of that river with the 
Orinoco. It is really an enchanting scene, and 

which the American character will be judged in future times. It 
has already produced its full moral effect on the people of Europe, 
for notwithstanding their boasted freedom, and affected love 
of independence, every impartial and honest man declares that 
where such bloody deeds are suffered to pass not only unpunished, 
but with approbation, there, must in iquify and corruption dwell ! 
But let the American executive continue to sanction the persecu- 
tion of the weak and helpless Indians whose soil they have 
usurped : while such a system is marked by the just detestation of 
present times, and the execrations of posterity, the same retri- 
butive power which visits the sins of the fathers on their dhildren 
in Europe, will also remember the unworthy descendants of a 
Penn, a Franklin, and a Washington ! — Ed. 


truly worthy of having been the residence of the 
Jesuits, who were the original founders. When I 
visited it, there were some portraits of those 
fathers there, which the Capuchins, their succes- 
sors, had respected: these, though taken by 
bad painters, are, as are all those of the Jesuits 
which I have seen, the representations of men 
more .or less talented, except what appears incom- 
prehensible, that of their founder, Saint Ignatius, 
which represents the physiognomy of a madman ! 
It is not one of the least amusing and inexpli- 
cable anomalies in the history of the human mind, 
that a society, of which cunning and policy were 
the principal characteristics, had for its founder, 
the knight-errant, or Don Quixote of the Virgin 
Mary. But every one does not know, that the 
true founder and author of the institutions of this 
society, was neither a madman or enthusiast, his 
name was James Laines. It was he who made 
the statutes by which the society was to be com- 
posed of politicians, learned men and saints. They 
were accused of having been opponents to the 
progress of knowledge ; but this is an error. 
They merely wanted to modify and direct its pro- 
gress, according to their own views and principles. 
At the period when this society was destroyed, 
it was preparing to direct the course of philoso- 
phical learning, as it had regulated literary edu- 
cation : this piay be seen from the fine and able 
discourse of Guinard, that gained the prize at 
the French Academy, in 1767 ; one of the best, 


according to the opinion of many persons, which 
had ever received a premium from that body. 

The mission of Saint Joseph belongs at present 
to the Catalan Capuchins; it has several chapels 
of ease in this province. The church and house 
of the missionaries are large and handsome, but 
very simple. The village of the Indians is of 
a square form, where each Indian family has 
a house built of mud, or unburnt bricks well 
beaten, the roof of which is covered with the 
magnificent foliage of palm trees. Each has a 
little gallery in front, which contributes to its 
coolness. This situation, at the foot of the moun- 
tains, on the banks of a chrystal stream which 
loses itself in the majestic Orinoco ; the contrast 
of the beautiful church, the European architec- 
ture of the convent, with the cottages of the 
Indians covered with foliage, are truly interesting 
to the European visitor. 

Recovered from the involuntary train of 
thought inspired by this novel scene, I was desi- 
rous of examining the details and administrative 
economy of the mission, when my reason was as 
much satisfied, as my imagination had been 
exalted. I am happy to be able to do justice to 
those worthy Spanish missionaries, and it is a very 
agreeable duty for me to refute the calumnies of 
which they have been the object both in America 
and Europe. To stigmatize such men, it is 
necessary to be possessed of the very genius of 
evil ; and it is to have an apathetic soul, inacces- 


sible to every virtue, not to love and venerate 
them. I shall endeavour to give the reader an 
idea of what a mission is in the Spanish colonies : 
it is a place where from four or five hundred, as 
far as one thousand Indians are assembled in a 
village built very regularly, and always on the 
banks of a river. The head of this society has 
the title of corregidor, and is a kind of governor* 
or rather a magistrate, who unites, in those coun- 
tries, the authority of a justice of peace and 
mayor. The corregidors of the Indians were 
appointed by the viceroys and captains-general. 
They are not lucrative employments, but those 
which are most respected in the Spanish colonies. 
The corregidor has many alcaldes or municipal 
officers under his orders, who are also justices of 
peace : the corregidor and alcaldes are white 
men, chosen from amongst the most respectable 
and enlightened proprietors of the country. There 
is also in each mission a certain number of Indian 
alcaldes, subordinate to the corregidor and white 
alcaldes* Those copper-coloured magistrates are 
extremely proud of their places ; their costume 
and staves of office, af e in every thing similar to 
those of the white magistrates: the hierarchy ends 
with the alguazils or bailiffs. 

The agriculture and industry of the Indians 
united in missions, consists at first in growing the 
provisions already mentioned : such as the banana, 
sweet potatoe, manihot, maize, yam, &o. and of 
some other objects in which they carry on a little 


trade, such as cotton, indigo, arnotto, hammocks 
and baskets. There is no instance known of an 
Indian who has had the industry to become a 
regular trader. They sell those objects to the 
publicans who settle in the missions, and who 
are qt the same time dealers in hardware, linens, 
groceries, &c. All that the Indians earn > is swal- 
lowed up by those traders, as the natives are 
strangers to economy. 

The pastor of the mission is a monk. I believe 
that almost all those in the province of Caraccas 
belong to the capuchins, recollets, or some other 
branch of the order of St. Francis. There are 
some missions whence several missionaries go 
every Sunday to perform divine service for the 
neighbouring hamlets, and catechise them. I 
visited'that of the Arragonian Capuchins, twice ip 
1807 : it is situated between Cariaco and Carupano 
in the province of Cumana. The first time I went 
there I alighted at the house of the corregidor, 
a native of the country, and son of a Biscay an, an 
old officer of artillery. I was struck with the 
fine figure, polite manners and natural eloquence 
of this elegant young man : to fair hair, the com- 
plexion of a Fleming or an Englishman, he united 
the slender person of a Basque, and the muscles of 
a Hercules, I was recommended to him by three 
of his friends, Don Juan Mayoral, commandant 
of Cape de Paria, Don Miguel de Alcala, comp- 
troller of Carupano, and Don Juan Martin de 
Arestimuno, one of the principal proprietors of 


the province of Cumana, the most virtuous and 
benevolent men I have met in my travels. I was 
perfectly well received by the corregidor : it be- 
ing Sunday, he proposed that we should go to 
the Indians' mass, where I accompanied him. I 
was surprized to find in that wild place a large and 
beautiful church, the choir of which was very well 
gilt ; this was also the work of the Jesuits. The 
mass had begun, the Indians were all kneeling, 
and in two lines : they had large rosaries in their 
hands : when the priest elevated the host, they 
prostrated themselves with their faces to the earth, 
and when they rose, the females chaunted a psalm, 
in which some of the men sang the chorus. At 
the communion, in which very few of them were 
allowed to participate, they struck their breasts 
violently. I observed that the young people, 
male and female, appeared' more devout than the 
old ones : this is a remark that I have made more 
than once. 

On leaving the church, my young corregidor 
invited me in the kindest and most obliging 
manner to pass a day with him on his cocoa plan- 
tation, at about a league from the Indian village. 
My business not permitting me to accept his 
invitation, he ordered breakfast in his Indian 
cottage. Our repast was composed of milk, choco- 
late, white bread and cakes of maize for the first 
course ; for the second, fresh eggs, an omelet with 
ripe bananas, very large and delicate cray fish of 
the river, smoked fish, wild boar's Kam, sweet- 


meats, Spanish and Madeira wine, and lastly, 

When we had done breakfast, the negro and 
Indian maid servant of the corregidor, took away- 
all that we had left, placed it on a table which 
was in the gallery or portico, and regaled 
themselves together with my negro and the 
three Indian guides. They furnished me with a 
new opportunity of remarking what I had often 
observed, that the negroes and the Indians, though 
habitually sober at home, eat voraciously when 
they can get food that pleases their palates. 

The amiable corregidor next told me that it 
was necessary I should decide on staying with 
him that evening, as my Indian swine (puercos 
cPIndios) were incapable of attending me. To 
make my stay in his village the more agree- 
able, he ordered a review and exercise of his 
battalion of Indians. General Miranda having 
formerly made a descent at Ciro, the captain 
general of Caraccas had formed a kind of batta- 
lion of Indians in various parts of the province. 
Each soldier had a straw hat, shirt and trowsers 
of gingham; their arms consisted of a bow, a 
quiver of sixty arrows, a large knife, and cutlass 
suspended to the girdle by a string. The officers 
were distinguished by a musquet instead of the 
bow and arrows, a round black hat ornamented 
with feathers, and by their shoes, which they wear 
only on parade days. Their exercise consisted in 
turning to the right or left, and of separating into 


platoons of five, ten, fifteen, and of twenty : three 
platoons of twenty form a company, which has 
for its officers a captain, lieutenant, sergeant, and 
three corporals. They shoot from their bows 
standing and kneeling, with admirable quickness 
and precision. 

As I was desirous not leave this place without 
becoming acquainted with the missionaries, I 
requested the corregidor to conduct me to them, 
but their servant informed us that two of the 
reverend fathers were taking their mid-day nap, 
or siesta, and that the third had gone to catechise 
in the neighbourhood. It was five o'clock, and 
therefore necessary to decide on departing from 
this romantic spot, provided my Indians were in 
a travelling state. I awoke them and made them 
smoke a cigar, after which they went to bathe, and 
we took leave of our excellent host. 

I visited this mission again, a month afterwards. 
I had left the worthy Arestimunoat Cariaco, in 
the morning, to go to Carupano, from whence I 
was to embark for Guadaloupe. It is about ten 
post leagues, across deserts and forests, from 
Carupano to Cariaco. We travelled with rather 
a numerous caravan ; for in this country travel- 
ling is performed in caravans as in the deserts 
of Africa and Asia. It is not bands of robbers 
which are feared, but jaguars and venomous 
reptiles. Without a guide, one might be easily 
lost in the paths which intersect those forests in 
various directions. The chief of our caravan was 


a merchant of Guadaloupe, who conducted a 
number of wild mules, which he had bought in the 
province of Cumana. Tired with the slowness of 
the march, caused by the tricks of the mules to 
escape from their keepers, I determined on sepa- 
rating from the caravan, so as not to pass the 
night in the woods. I had hired a Spanish mulatto 
and two Indians : the mulatto was mounted on 
a horse, the negro rode a mule, which was also 
laden with my portmanteau : one Indian carried 
the remainder of my luggage, and the other some 
provisions, and a case containing wine, lemonade 
and rum. To arrive at the mission of the Arra- 
gonian Capuchins, it is necessary to ascend and 
descend a mountain : at ten o'clock in the morn- 
ing we were on its summit. It was intensely hot ; a 
thermometer of Farenheit that I carried with me, 
stood at 84° : however, I felt it more hot than in 
a similar degree of thermometrical heat in Trini- 
dad or Martinico, because there was no wind. 

After suffering excessively from thirst owing to 
there being no water at hand, we arrived at the 
mission about noon. 

The Indians of Guiana live on the banks of the 
different rivers which flow between the moUth of 
the Amazons and those of the Orinoco. The 
Arrooauks and Caribs are the most remarkable 
nations ; then follow the Accaouas, Worrows or 
Ouaraous, the Tairas, Salibas, Pinnacotaous and 
Paria tribe. Stedman, in his voyage to Surinam, 
mentions the Worrows as an extremely depraved 

£ B 


tribe, being lazy, filthy and brutal* The word 
Worrows, as the English pronounce it, resem- 
bles Gouaraoun or Ouaraoun, the name of the 
islanders who inhabit the islets situated at the 
mouth of the Orinoco. If, as Stedman asserts, 
there are in the neighbourhood of the Dutch 
possessions, natives who bear this name, it is pro- 
bable that they belong to the same tribe as those 
settled at the mouth of the Orinoco, as the Caribs 
of the Antilles, now almost extinct, are identi- 
fied with the Caribs of the continent. If the 
remark of Stedman be true, as to the depravity 
of the Ouaraous of Dutch Guiana, it is in my 
opinion merely the effect produced by the vicinity 
of Europeans, and the contagion of their vices ; 
for my friends the Gouaraouns are, as I have 
already said, a people strikingly amiable from 
the mildness and vivacity of their manners. I 
cannot refrain from relating the following anec- 
dote, which is highly honourable to their cha- 
racter ; and as in Europe there is a propensity, 
not without reason, to accuse travellers of orna- 
menting their descriptions with fabulous episodes, 
to amuse the reader at the expence of truth, 
I shall mention by his name the European, well 
known at Martinico and Trinidad, who is the 
hero of the tale. 

M. Lazare, a native of Provence, and trader 
of Martinico, in the beginning of the French re- 
volution, but since residing at Port Spain, em- 
barked on board a Spanish launch of the Orinoco, 

PIRACY. 419 

which was to take him to San Thome de Angos- 
tura. He carried a very considerable venture 
with him, and had a young negro of fourteen 
years old as his servant. 

When the boat arrived at the islets of the Ori- 
noco, a Spanish sailor proposed to his comrades to 
murder Lazare and his negro and seize on the 
cargo. As all the rest were not so ferocious as 
the author of the proposal, it was decided that 
Lazare should be left on one of those desert islets ; 
and fearing that he might escape by swimming 
to some adjacent one inhabited by the Gouara- 
ouns, they bound him to a cocea tree, thus con- 
demning him to die of hunger. When those 
monsters returned on board the boat, they delibe- 
rated on what they could do with the young negro, 
and it was decided that he should be drowned. 
He was therefore thrown into the river; they 
also gave him some blows on the head with an 
oar, but these did not prevent him from diving and 
swimming to the islet on which his master had 
been left : fortunately the darkness of the night 
hindered them from seeing him when he reached 
the shore. At day-break the little negro roved 
about the island, and at length discovered his 
master, whom he supposed to be dead, fastened to 
the tree. Lazare's joy and surprize on this un- 
expected sight of his servant may be readily 
imagined : the cord which bound him having 
been untied, his first expression of gratitude was 
a positive promise of liberty to his slave. They 

e e 2 

420 A FRIGHT. 

next went in search of some food to satisfy their 
hunger ; hat perceiving traces of human footsteps, 
Lazare, shivering with fear, spoke to his negro of 
people who roast and eat men. After mature 
deliberation, they determined that from the cer- 
tainty in which they were of starving, or of not 
being able to escape, they might just as well go and 
meet the men-eaters. Following the track they 
soon heard human voices ; and a little after saw 
men perched on the trees, in a species of nest 
proportioned to their sizes: com£ y comS* said a 
Gouaraoun to Lazare, looking at him from his roost. 
•' Heavens I" cried the Proven$al, who understood 
Spanish, "they want to eat us." "No, Massa," 
replied the little negro, who had some know- 
ledge of the English language, " they are only 
calling us to them." The Gouaraoun soon put an 
end to their anxiety by showing them two large 
pieces of fish, and inviting them by signs to climb 
up the tree, and partake of his meal. The little ne- 
gro soon reached his host, but the lubberly Lazare 
not being able to climb they threw down several 
pieces of fish, some raw and others dressed which b» 
devoured most voraciously .*f At length the Goua- 
raouns descended from their trees, to talk with 
him. He that had cried, " com6, com£," spoke a 
little Spanish, and supposed Lazare to be a man 

• Comer in Spanish signifies to eat , but the Indian intended it 
as English, 
f Smoked or baked fish, jssnbstitated for bread, with the raw fish. 


who, disgusted with the slavery of sooial life, had 
come peacefully to enjoy the advantages of liberty 
amongst them. This Gouaraoun, who was a man 
of importance amongst his tribe, extolled the pro- 
ject highly, told Lazare he would give him a wife, 
dog and canoe, and that he would also teach him 
to shoot with a bow. But when the trader related 
his disastrous adventure, they testified a consi- 
derable degree of contempt for him. Having next 
requested them, to convey him to Trinidad, and 
made them the most magnificent promises, the 
Gouaraoun told him, in bad Spanish, that he 
could not conceive why he did not prefer living 
with them, happy, tranquil and without masters, 
rather than to return to those villainous white 
people ! 

When they saw that he was determined -to 
return to Trinidad, they equipped a pirogue to 
carry him there, without its ever occurring to 
them to stipulate for the price of his passage. 
At length, Lazare having arrived at Port Spain, 
gave the Gouaraouns some knives, hatchets, and a 
small cask of rum, and they departed satisfied. 
The reader will be impatient to know how he re- 
compensed the slave who had saved his life : he 
will naturally follow him in his mind's eye, con- 
ducting the faithful negro before a magistrate, to 
establish his freedom. Vain illusion ! the infamous 
Lazare being in want of money, a short time after- 
wards sold this very negro!! 

The other tribes are very far from being so 

422 DRUftEENNESg, 

estimable as the Gouaraouns. What were the 
manners of those islanders at the time of their con- 
quest by the Europeans ? The writers of that 
time represent them as anthropophagi, and exces- 
sively depraved. But can men be believed who had 
an interest in vilifying those whom they exter- 
minated, because they would not permit them- 
selves to be reduced to slavery ? Still it is but 
too true, that the present tribes who live along the 
sea coasts, or on the banks of large rivers, are 
composed of very immoral and despicable men. 
The AccaouQs, Worrows, Tuitas, Pinnacotuaus, 
Salives and P arias, present a picture of the human 
species in its last stage of degradation : we may 
therefore be well ashamed to partake the name of 
men with such beings. The first four of the six 
nations I have named, live on the extremity of 
the territories of Surinam and Demerara. When 
made drunk, they sell their wives and children. 
Their passion for spirituous liquors is generally so 
violent, that it is sometimes merely necessary to 
show them a bottle of it, and they become tran- 
sported with joy and fury. They then seek their 
wives and children, and deliver them to thto 
traders, who make slaves of them, or to libertine* 
who thus recruit their seraglios. I was a witness 
to it at Demerara, in 1793, In this view the 
Indians are much beneath the negroes, who not- 
withstanding the state of ignorance and debase- 
ment to which they are reduced, nevertheless 
preserve, the most tender attachment to their 


wives, and especially for tbeir children. But the 
greater part of the negroes have a vital energy 
and sentiment, far superior to the indolent abori- 
ginal native of South America. To return to this 
unnatural custom of selling their own children, 
which is the most culpable, what shall we say of 
the Europeans, who having received an education, 
and been reared in the bosom of Christianity, 
instigate through drunkenness to the commission 
of such a crime? 

The Indians who inhabit the countries north of the 
Orinoco, and in the northern part of Trinidad, have 
not been united in missions, so that civilization has 
made but little progress amongst them. They 
live by the ehace and fishings scarcely cultivating 
what is sufficient to prevent them from starv- 
ing. Unfortunately I have been but too well able 
to ascertain how much the neighbourhood of some 
worthless Europeans and swindlers from Barba* 
does, who had sejtled in their vicinity, at the peace 
of Amiens, had contributed to corrupt those 
savages, who previous to their arrival, were 
neither vicious nor wicked. I well know it was 
in vain that some of those robbers endeavoured* in 
1803, to procure women, by the means employed 
at Demerara ; that one of them, assisted by his 
negro, having attempted to force an Indian female 
into his house, was obliged to let her go, when he 
saw an Indian aiming his arrow at him ; and that 
all the bottles of rum he offered to the offended 
savage, to permit him to carry off his weeping 

424 A MONSTER, &CC< 

prey, made no impression on the former. The 
command of this part of the island (Toco and 
Cumana) being afterwards given by Governor 
Hislop, to W. T. a runaway surgeon from Barba- 
does, Grenada and Tobago, for forgeries and 
swindling, that contemptible little tyrant forced 
a great many of .those Indians to settle on a plan- 
tation which he obtained by the most dishonest 
means, and where he made them work as his 
slaves, in 1806 and 1807. Those who pleaded 
the cause of the Indians, were not only persecuted, - 
but the crime having remained unpunished, others 
imitated his base example, particularly the swin- 
dler H } who, when I left Trinidad, had a 

considerable number of Indians, slaves in fact, on 
his plantation. 

This treatment has so exasperated the Indians, 
that many have sought refuge in the woods of the 
interior, where they live in the manner of Maroon 
negroes, others escaped in their canoes to the 
continent, where they have become the implacable 
enemies of the British name. - But historical im- 
partiality requires me' to add, that this atrocious 
conduct towards the Indians, excited the indig- 
nation of the respectable part of the British popu- 
lation of this island. 

This subject me an opportunity of saying 
a few words on the relations of the British with 
the indigenous inhabitants, in all parts of Ame- 
rica where the former have effected establish- 
ments. In general, the natives detest them', not 


because they are more oppressed by them than 
any other European nation, but owing to the 
disdainful contempt with which they are treated 
by them. Now, no one feels contempt more keenly 
than a savage ; so that a man must be saturated 
with pride, to behave so asto make a poor Indian 
feel his inferiority. For a long time past, the Spa- 
niards used to protect and treat them with justice ; 
as for the French, we treat them like children, 
playing and joking with them : and, in spite of 
their nudity and strange costume, we admit them 
to our tables ; they are allowed to speak to us 
with familiarity, we call each other gossip, con- 
sequently they prefer us to all other nations. 

The Arrouagas or Arroouaks are considered 
the handsomest nation of Guiana : they are less 
copper coloured than their neighbours ; which may 
result from their not tattooing themselves with 
arnotto. Their manners are social, and they have 
the reputation of keepingtheir promises faithfully: 
they are friendly to Europeans, and very humane ; 
butthis does not prevent them from taking their 
neighbours as slaves, and selling them. The 
Arrouagas carry on a considerable trade with the 
Spaniards and Dutch, in balsam of copaiva, arnotto, 
sarsaparilla, sassafras, hiarie roots, vanilla, dye- 
stuffs, a kind of ebony, wax and honey, ham- 
mocks, baskets, monkeys, parrots and other 
birds; they take in exchange fire-arms, some 
light stuffs, combs, looking-glasses, toys, hatchets, 
knives, saws, nails, &c. 

The insular Caribs are almost extinct ; there 


are not more than a score of their families in 
the Island of St. Vincent ; three families in that 
of Tobago, and seven or eight families in Trini- 
dad, where they had retired, when they aban- 
doned the island of Dominica, daring the Ame- 
rican war, which terminated in 1783. These last 
call themselves Califournans : and though I have 
had many of them in my service as hunters, 
fishers and servants,* I never could learn the 
etymology of Califonrnan : all they could inform 
me about it was, that they came from a country 
far, far, far ! I give their own expression. They 
are in general a very handsome race of men, and 
both active and intelligent. Some of their women 
are also very pretty, and in general all are well 
made. These Califournans are polygamists, like 
the chief part of the Indians; and they have this 
in particular, that when one of them marries the 
eldest daughter of a family, he has a right to 
espouse the younger sisters, according as they 
arrive at the age of puberty. Many travellers 
have been fond of describing a very singular cus- 
tom of the Caribs ; stating that when a woman 
is delivered, she makes caudle for her husband, 
who, they say, places himself in his hammock, 
groans, and, in short, acts the lying-in person. 
The fact is, that when a female Carib finds the 
pains of labour coming on, she goes to the nearest 
stream, accompanied by another woman : here 
she is delivered, regulates her child, and bathes 

# I brought s young individual of this tribe to Europe. 

THE C A RIBS. 427 

with it in the stream., When returned to her 
hut, after placing the infant in a hammock, she 
makes some broil l During this time, the hus- 
band swings and jolts in his hammock as usual, 
and takes some of the broth which she has made ; 
but it is not true that they groan and ape the act 
of child-birth. The Caribs know that the whites 
have invented this tale, and therefore consider 
them notorious liars ! 

The difference which exists between the Caribs 
and the other tribes of the united provinces of Ve- 
nezuela; the great physical and intellectual supe- 
riority of the former, appears to prove that they 
have had a different and more noble origin. 
Though they were as far removed from civilization 
as the Parias, when the Kuropeans first arrived, 
still the Caribs considered, and to this day think 
themselves a privileged race. They speak of 
the other savages with as much contempt and 
disdain, as the ignorant and illiberal part of a 
certain msular nation speak of all other people. 
However unjust the pretensions of the Caribs are, 
however ridiculous savages may be who pretend 
to exercise a paramount right over other savages 
like themselves, it is neverthele&i true that the 
hereditary habits of command on one side, and of 
servitude and fear on the other, have produced 
amongst the inhabitants of the forests the same 
effects as between civilized nations. Among the 
first, they have engendered frankness, courage 
and generosity, rjualities which result from the 


cooMcioamem of strength and power, with the 
abuse of them which men are liable to make, who 
have naturally a bad disposition; and amongst 
the persecuted and degraded tribes, perfidy and 
cowardice, flattery, and egotism. 

According to the principle I venture to adopt, 
the Arroouaks, Ouaraouns and Guahiros of the 
Rio de la Hache, must be considered as descen- 
dant* of the Carib nation. Every thing induces 
a belief that those are remains of the conquering 
race ; and that the Salives, Chaymas, Ottomaques 
and Parias, belong to an indigenous and con- 
quered race. It is a circumstance well worth the 
most serious meditations of those who study the 
philosophical history of the human species, to see 
savage tribes living in the same climate, using 
nearly the same food, each as little influenced at 
present by European civilization, yet completely 
distinguished physically and morally by features 
as opposite as those which separate the Caucasian 
race from the Mogul, and the latter from the 
European, named by zoologists the Arab Caucau- 
sian race. 

Much has been said of the Black Caribs of St. 
Vincent's, and they have been the subject of many 
stories and fables. I have bad the means of becom- 
ing acquainted with them, having passed some 
months in that island, during the civil wars in 
the French colonies. It appears that the English 
established themselves there in 1672; and that 
they had sent negroes to it in 1675. According 

io Sir William Young, a slave ship coming from 
the coast of Benin, laden with Moco negroes, was 
wrecked that very year on Be quia, an islet situated 
two leagues from St. Vincent's, where the ship- 
wrecked negroes retired, and were subsequently 
joined by a great number of Maroon negroes from 
the adjacent islands. It is related in the French 
colonies, that though those negroes had been hos- 
pitably received by the Caribs, they exterminated 
their hosts at night, to possess themselves of 
their wives and the country. But according to 
the respectable authority of Sir William Young, 
this fact is controverted. I have myself heard the 
baronet give a very different account of that 
event, as he had heard it from his father, formerly 
governor of the island, where his virtues and 
those of his son are proverbial- According to Sir 
William Young, the Caribs made slaves of the 
negroes ; but finding they were becoming more 
numerous than themselves, they resolved to put 
all the male children to death. The commence- 
ment of this barbarity caused a revolt amongst the 
negroes, who conquered in the conflict. 

The first use made of their success was to exter- 
minate a great number of their masters, and seize 
on their wives and daughters, from whom proceeds 
the mixed breed known by the name of Black 
Caribs, There still exists in the island of Saint 
Vincent some families of red Caribs, who have 
never contracted an alliance with their black 
brethren, from whom they keep at a distance, and 


who did not interfere in the war between the 
latter and the British, in 1795 : they live there under 
their protection to this day, whilst the blacks have 
been transported to the Island of Rattan, in the 
Bay of Honduras. 

The reader will not perhaps be displeased with 
the account of a visit I paid to the Black Caribs. 
In January, 1793, 1 embarked at the east end of 
Saint Lucia, in a canoe eighteen feet long, and 
two and a half in its greatest breadth : it was 
navigated by three Caribs. The friend who had 
procured this frail conveyance for me, had warned 
me that the Caribs would inquire if I could swim, 
and that it was necessary I should reply in the 
negative ; in which case I might be tranquil, as 
they would save me if the canoe was upset or 
wrecked. Having left St. Lucia, at midnight, we 
arrived at the Grand Sable, the principal wharf of 
the Caribs, on the following morning about eleven 

The sea is always agitated by the north winds 
during this season, in the Antilles, and breaks 
with fury on the eastern coasts of those islands. 
Though the weather was otherwise very fine, I 
was so wetted by the waves which had broken 
over me, that I resembled a statue of salt. How- 
ever, our passage was made without any accident. 
When the canoe was about one hundred yards 
from the shore, on which is a reef of coral, I 
saw a multitude of savages plunge into the sea 
and swim towards us. There was a frightful surf, 


the sea was all foara; I saw nothing but the 
heads of the Caribs, men and women, who ap- 
peared like so many Tritons and Nereids. A 
painter or poet might have made fine pictures 
from this scene: on the shore were seen groups 
of Caribs, men, women and children ; behind them 
a smiling plain, and two limpid streams which wa- 
tered it, terminated by a chain of mountains, the 
chief part of them pointed, and covered with the 
beautiful vegetation of the climate. The savages 
pressed round the pirogue, seized it on both sides, 
rttma with their right, others with their left hand, 
while my three travelling companions jumped into 
the water, their favourite element, dived and re- 
appeared; while I alone in the canoe, only wanted 
a ti ideut to have all the air of a Neptune borne on 
the waves by the inhabitants of the ocean ! At 
length, thanks to those able and intrepid swim- 
mers, the canoe thus raised above the waves, 
cleared the coral bank without touching it, and on 
gaining the beach I found myself in the midst of a 
great crowd, the colour of the men was copper, 
inclining to black: nearly all were armed with 
bows and musquets, they pressed around me, to 
look at a white man, dressed in a light coloured 
surtout, and whose hair was for the moment whiten- 
ed, at the age of nineteen, by a quantity of sea salt 
that had formed on it during the passage. I saw a 
Carib who had a small looking-glass hanging about 
his neck, and requested him to permit me to look 
at myself: on seeing the little chrystals that 

432 hospitality 

whitened my hair, I could not refrain from laugh- 
ing heartily, and was joined in it by the savages, 
that accompanied me to the owner of the canoe, 
who expressed a wish to be my host. It being 
necessary to cross the fine river I had seen from 
the canoe, I stripped myself to bathe ; . some 
young and handsome female Caribs, and a troop 
of young males threw water on me, and we 
began to chat as if we had known each other for 
years. The pleasure of having escaped from a 
gang of robbers, in Saint Lucia, who had con- 
spired to murder me, the bath, sprightliness of 
my hosts, the view of a beautiful country, and 
an air perfumed with the odoriferous plants of the 
Caribs' gardens, situated on both banks of this re- 
freshing stream, soon restored my strength, which 
had been exhausted w jth vexation, and by more than 
one bad night's rest. I soon arrived at the house 
of Larose, the name of my host. It was only a 
short time before I had seen the Indians of Trini- 
dad, almost strangers to agriculture ; but here the 
properties of the Caribs were divided by hedges 
of orange trees, perfectly well kept, and their 
gardens filled with all the beautiful plants of the 
country. Their bouses had an appearance of ele- 
gant simplicity, and were provided with all that 
could be necessary for comfort and convenience ; 
that of Tjarose was the handsomest of this village ; 
it was built of squared timber, and covered 
with shingles ; a gallery ran in front, and it was 
divided into three rooms, of which that in the 


middle served as a saloon. Here a hammock was 
slung for mo, and after we entered Larose, shak- 
ing my hand in the English style, said, " you 
are now at home, therefore make yourself as easy 
and comfortable as you can.'' After this compli- 
ment he introduced to me one of his wives, who 
was very well dressed, like the women of colour 
in our colonies. " Bonjou moucM, good morning 
to you sir," said she, making a low curtesy, " bon 
jou, ma chie ; et bon Dii ! qui ce qui menk vow 
dans pays cy t Si moute pat trompi, vous mila- 
tresse la Martineq ?" " Good morning, my dear ; 
and in God's name ! what has brought you to this 
place ! If I am not mistaken you are a mulatto 
of Martinico?" — Et oui, chi metre ; " So I am, 
my dear sir," she replied with a melancholy and 
languishing look. 

" I am going out for some moments to settle 
some business," said Larose to me, " and shall leave 
this prattler to attend you during my absence." 
I then prevailed on the lady to sit beside my 
hammock, and relate her adventures amongst the 
Caribs. The history of poor Marguerite is not 
long. Ten years ago, when at the age of twenty, 
she was then very pretty, and had not much pre- 
dilection for black lovers. Larose, who traded 
with Saint Lucia and Martinico, paid his addresses 
to her, and proposed taking her with him to 
Saint Vincent's, where she would be a great lady 
amongst the Caribs. ^ She suffered herself to be 

F f 


persuaded : but, alas ! the chaste Helen was not 
aware that there are Caribs who have as many as 
three or four wives! "How do they manage, my 
friend/' said I, with a significant smile, " to make 
you all happy? " Ah, my dear youth," she replied, 
. with tears in her eyes, " look out at the window, 
and you will see three huts in the garden there." — 
u So that in every three weeks you are a widow for 
a fortnight ?" " Yes," said she, pressing my hand 
and rolling her eyes affectionately : " it was so at 
first ; but it is long since Larose lias ceased to 
think of me !" 

Looking out I saw the black bashaw in the 
gallery with his two favourites, who were laugh- 
ing heartily at our dialogue : happily poor Mar- 
guerite, whose back was turned to the door, did 
not see them. Entering soon after, " come, come, 
carrion" said he, " instead of prating with this 
white, and making love to him, you would do 
much better to prepare our dinner: There is a 
fowl I have just killed, and some fish : make us also 
a crab soup." 1 endeavoured to prevail on Larose 
to treat his old favourite with less severity, but 
his only reply was a loud laugh. He next intro- 
duced to me his two young sultanas, one of whom 
was about seventeen ; both were handsome, and 
formed like nymphs, the whole of their dress 
consisted of chintz petticoats, and Madras yellow, 
green, and red hankerchiefs on their heads, which 
seemed very well suited to their bronze complexions. 


They nbw began to prepare a salad, rince the hand- 
some cut glasses, and' make punch. During this 
time M. Larose smoked his cigar and swang in his 
hammock ; looking somewhat maliciously at me, 
he gave warning that those two, pointing to his 
young protegees, u were forbidden fruit !" A great 
many Caribs now arrived, and I had to shake 
hands with each of them, according as they came 
in to see me : they sat down round the room, while 
Larose and myself placed ourselves at table, at- 
tended by his three concubines. In addition to the 
crab soup, we had stewed and fried fish, a roasted 
fowl with salad ; bananas, cassava, and potatoes, 
were substituted for bread : excellent fruits, wine, 
rum and beer, covered the table after the repast. 
Such was the dinner of a Carib trader ; it was 
served on very fine white table linen, and in dishes 
and plates of Wedgewood's ware, with silver 
forks, spoons, &c. 

We had just finished our meal, when I saw a 
Carib enter, of about six feet high ; his dress con- 
sisted of a blue check shirt, and a round hat orna- 
mented with a plume of variegated feathers. He 
carried a musquet in his hand, had a large sabre by 
his side, while a silver case hung to his belt. The 
stranger had the look and air of one accustomed 
to command. Larose rising mysteriously, whis- 
pered, " this is Captain Lavalle, our king." 

I rose to salute his majesty: he advanced and offer- 
ed me his hand, complimenting me on my arrival in 
f f 2 


his states, which had an extent of five leagues long 
by three in breadth ! "My residence is some distance 
from hence/' said he : " I was hunting in the neigh- 
bourhood, when I heard of your arrival : if I had 
not been so far from home, I would have put on 
my red breeches and uniform of a French marshal, 
which the king of France sent me with the order of 
Saint Louis, during the American war." He now 
invited me to be seated, and took the place of his 
lieutenant general, Larose, who remained standing 
respectfully, without uttering a word. The other 
Caribs, however, did not rise on the entrance of 
their chief, nor did they show him any kind of 
honour. But Larose was half-civilized, and a 
courtier. " Be seated," said the prince to him ; " I 
am going to assist in finishing your mess." When 
he had satisfied his appetite, we toasted and drank 
together; after which he recounted his feats 
during the American war : it was then that M. 
de Bouilte had sent him the uniform, cross, and 
decorations of a French marshal, with a letter 
from Louis XVI. After repeating the above 
circumstance, he took the silver box which hung 
by his side, opened it, and showed me a letter from 
the king, written, I have no doubt, at Martinico, in 
which that monarch thanked gossip Lavalle for 
the good and agreeable services which he had ren- 
dered him : the monarch next insisted that I should 
sleep at his house. By this time I saw clearly he 
was tormented with an anxiety to display himself 


to me in all his pomp ; I therefore acceded to his 
request. Presented to his family as the aid de 
camp of a general, I was received with great 
honours. His house was built like that of Larose, 
but larger ; he had five or six negro slaves, who 
cultivated coffee, cotton, arnotto, cocoa and pro- 
visions. Three women, by whom he had ten 
children, of different ages, composed his family. 
Whilst I was chatting with his sons, who spoke 
French and Creole-English, lo and behold his 
majesty re-enter, resplendent in magnificence! 
On his bronzed front was a large cocked hat, 
with a white feather, a cockade of the same co- 
lour, surmounted with a button of German pebble 
as large as a coffee cup, ordered to be made ex- 
pressly for him by Louis XVT. and which had 
cost one hundred thousand crowns ! His coat was 
that of a general officer, with enormous epau- 
lettes, and laced on every seam : from one of the 
button-holes of this dress, a gold cross was sus- 
pended by a red ribband, it was the insignia of 
St. Louis ; a large star of gold and silver on the 
breast, convinced me that he was also a knight 
of the Holy Roman Empire ! His majesty wore 
two other orders, of which I could not ascertain 
the names ; a red waistcoat bedaubed with gold ; 
scarlet breeches laced on the seams ; boots wjth 
red morocco tops, and ornamented with an enor- 
mous pair pf copper spurs, which bad once been 
gilt , completed this singular costume ; be wore no 


stockings ; but collars with little bells, such as are 
put on lap-dogs, ornamented his ancles ! 

I really believe that there never was a happier 
sovereign than Lavalle thought himself at this mo- 
ment : he paraded about the gallery : directing his 
piercing sight towards the sea, he saw in the twink- 
ling of an eye, the extent of his territories from east 
to west, and from north to south* Supper was 
announced by a discharge of artillery, which con- 
sisted of two swivels. He constantly took out his 
snuff-box to offer me a pinch, and provoked at my 
not admiring that beautiful trinket, he desired me 
to examine it well. It was of an enormous size and 
silver gilt, ornamented with a bad portrait of 
Louis XVI. set with German pebbles, another 
article made expressly for him, and which he also 
believed to have cost one hundred thousand crowns. 
But he shewed me some arms that were really 
magnificent, and from the Versailles manu- 

After having passed a good night in a royal 
hammock, I received, in the morning, a visit from 
my friend L$rose, who came to conduct me to 
M. Augier, a French proprietor in the environs of 
Kingston. All Lavalle's cavalry consisted of a mule 
and an ass, which he offered to escort me in the 
most gracious manner ; but I preferred performing 
the journey on foot, as far as the residence of Mr. 
Clapham, the nearest proprietor to the Carifas, and 
whose good nature was so highly praised by Larose 


that I took my chance, stranger and unknown as 
I was, to request the loan of a horse. Though I 
was not very genteelly dressed, I was received in 
the kindest manner by Mr, CJapham, who not 
only invited me to breakfast with him, but lent 
me ahorse to take me to my destination. I was 
then far from suspecting that this unfortunate 
gentleman, who was so eulogized by the Caribs, 
should be, two years afterwards, the first victim 
immolated by those very men J It does not form 
a part of my plan to give the history of this war 
of the Caribs against the inhabitants of St. Via* 
cent's, I must, however, do the latter the justice 
to say, that they had done nothing to provoke 
the aggressions of the savages. This colony is 
not like some others, peopled with the refuse 
and scum of the British nation. Though it has 
belonged to Great Britain for a long time, it 
is only since the American war it has acquired 
its actual colonial importance. The gqyemors, 
Sir William Young, and Mr, Melville, who have 
made so many improvements there, were men 
of rare virtue and merit : such characters have 
always a great influence on the manners of a new 
society ; *q that this baa been composed of re- 
spectable persons who went from Europe, Anti- 
gua, and St. Christopher's, colonies composed of 
people of good dispositions. 

General Sir Ralph Abercrombie put an end, 
in 1797, to this cruel war, which had been com- 

440 crrroM*. 

menced in 1795, when, as already observed, all the 
Black Caribs of St. Vincent's who remained alive, 
were transported, in British vessels, to the Island 
of Rattan. 

Those Caribs have adopted many customs of 
the Red Caribs, amongst others that of flattening 
the foreheads of new-born infants.* But they 
are not indolent like them, and they surpass the 
Indians on the score of intellect. "Each family has 
its territorial property, which is inplosed with 
hedges, and carefully cultivated. The men apply 
themselves as much to agriculture as the women. 
They do not like to be called negroes, and con- 
sider this term as a gross insult, no doubt because 
the negroes, their neighbours, are in slavery. It 
is flattering to them to be called Caribs, and it is 

* This singular process is performed in the following manner : 
when a Carib mother feels the pains of child-birth she proceeds, as 
before described, to the nearest river ; for all their Tillages that I 
have seen, are either on the banks or very contigaoas to a stream 
of running water. After the ceremony of bathiag is over, and 
the parties reach their hut, they place the head of the child 
between two very smooth boards, as far as the root of the nose ; 
these boards are about eight inches long, and fastened together 
with cords applied at each end ; they are not removed from the 
infant's head for nine days, which is perhaps one reason why so 
many children die of lock jaw and convulsions at this tender age. 
After the tenth day the boards are only applied daring the night, 
but they are not totally discontinued till the period of weaning, 
which usually takes place at the age of fifteen or eighteen months. 
Nearly all the Caribs who have embraced Christianity have re- 
nounced this strange custom. 


probably for the purpose of resembling the latter 
still more, that besides the flattening of the fore- 
head, they have also adopted the custom of tattoo- 
ing themselves with arnotto. 

The Black Caribs have not embraced Christi- 
anity: the few religious ideas they have, are 
a mixture of the Fetishism of the negroes, 
and the superstitions of the ancient Caribs :- 
like the latter, they believe in a good and a 
bad principle. 








A Hurled to in the Introduction, illustrative of the fore- 
going lVork\ and to which the attention of the Public 
is particularly requested* 

No, I. 

Proclamation of General Sir Thomas Ptcton, Governor 
of Trinidad, first circulated amongst the Spanish Co* 
Ion \m near thnt Island, in 1797, and which has been 
already quoted in the Introduction.* 

By virtue of an official paper, which I, the governor of 
this island of Trinidad, have received from the Right 
Honourable Henry Dundas, minister of His Britannic 
Majesty, for Foreign Affairs, dated April 7, 1797, which 
I here publish, in obedience to orders, and for the use 
which your Excellencies may draw from its publication, 
in order that you may communicate its tenour, which is 
literally as follows. * c The object which, at present, I 
desire most particularly to recommend to your attention, 
is, the means which might be most adapted to liberate 
the people of the continent near to the Island of Trinidad, 

* These important papers, with the exception of the extracts from 
the Supreme Chief's Speech, are reprinted from the Expos£, and ano- 
ther book, containing public documents, published by Mr, William 
Walton, who has done much towards elucidating the past and present 
condition of Spanish America. 


from the oppressive and tyrannic system, which rapports, 
with so much rigour, the monopoly of commerce, under 
the title of exclusive registers, which their government 
licences demand ; also to draw the greatest advantages 
possible, and which the local situation of the island pre- 
sents, by opening a direct and free communication with 
the other parts of the world, without prejudice to the 
commerce of the British nation. In order to fulfil this 
intention with greater facility, it will be prudent for your 
Excellency to animate the inhabitants of Trinidad, in 
keeping up the communication which they had with those 
of Terra Firma, previous to the reduction of that island, 
under the assurance, that they will find there an entrepot, 
or general magazine of every sort of goods whatever. To 
this end, His Britannic Majesty has determined, in coun- 
cil, to grant .freedom to the port of Trinidad, with a direct 
trade to Great Britain. 

With regard to the hopes you entertain of raising the 
spirits of those persons, with whom you are in corre- 
spondence, towards animating the inhabitants, iq resist 
the oppressive authority of their government, I have little 
more to say, than that they may be certain, that whenever 
they are in that disposition, they may receive at your 
hands, all the succours to be expected from H. B. Ma- 
jesty ; be it with forces, or with arms and ammunition to 
any extent ; with the assurance, that the views of H. B. 
Majesty, go no further than to secure to them their inde- 
pendence, without pretending to any sovereignty over 
their country, nor even to interfere in the privileges of the 
people, nor m their political, civil, or religions tights. 


Port Spain, Trtokiad, 
June 26, 1797. 


No. II. 

It is the opinion of onr immortal countryman Locke, 
" that all legitimate government is derived from the con- 
sent of the people, that men are naturally equal, and that 
no one has a right to injure another in his life, health, 
liberty, or possessions, and' that no man, in civil society, 
ought to be subject to the arbitrary will of others, but 
only to known and established laws, made by general con** 
sent, for the common benefit That no taxes are to be 
lewd on the people, without the consent of the majority, 
given by themselves, or by their deputies. That the ruling 
power ought to govern By declared and received laws, 
and not by extemporary dictates, and undetermined reso- 
lutions. That kings and princes, magistrates, and niters 
of every class, have no just authority but what is dele* 
gated to them by the people ; and which when not em- 
ployed for their benefit, the people have always a right to 
resume in whatever hands it may be placed. 

" That revolutions happen not upon every little mis- 
management of public affairs. Great mistakes in the 
ruling part, many wrong and inconvenient laws, and all 
the slips of human frailty, will be borne by the people 
without mutiny or. murmur. But if a long train of abuses, 
prevarioations, and artifices, all tending the same way, 
make the design visible to the people, and they cannot 
but feel what they lie under, and see whither they are 
going, it is not to be wondered, that they should then 
rouze themselves, and endeavour to put the rale into such 
hands which may secure to them the ends for which go- 
vernment was at first erected; and without which, ancient 
names and specious forms, are so far from being better, 
that they are much worse than the state of nature, or pure 
anarchy, the inconveniencies being as great, and as near, 
but the remedy further off, and more difficult." 


No. III. 

In the Name of the AU-powerful God, 

We the Representatives of the United Provinces of 
Caracas, Cumana, Varinas, Margarita, Barcelona, Merida, 
and Truxillo, forming the American Confederation of 
Venezuela, in the South Continent, in Congress assembled, 
considering the full and absolute possession of our Rights, 
which we recovered justly and legally from the 1 9th of 
April, 1810, in consequence of the occurrences in Bayonne, 
and the occupation of the Spanish Throne by conquest, 
and the succession of a new Dynasty, constituted without 
. our consent ; are desirous, before we make use of those 
Rights, of which we have been deprive^ by force for more 
than three centuries, but now restored to us by the poli- 
tical order of human events, to make known to the world 
the reasons which have emanated from these same occur- 
rences, and which authorise us in the free use we are now 
about to make of our own Sovereignty. 

We do not wish, nevertheless, to begin by ailedging the 
rights inherent in every conquered country, to recover its 
state of property and independence ; we generously for- 
get the Long series of ills, injuries, and privations, which 
the sad right of conquest has indistinctly caused, to all the 
descendants of the Discoverers, Conquerors, and Settlers 
of these Countries, plunged into a worse state by the very 
same cause that ought to have favoured them ; and, draw- 
ing a veil over the three hundred years of Spanish dominion 
in America, we will now only present to view the authentic 
and well-known facts, which ought to have wrested 
from one world, the right over the other, by the inver- 
sion, disorder, and conquest, that have already dissolved 
the Spanish Nation. 

This disorder has increased the ills of America, by 



rendering void its elaims and remonstrances, enabling the 
Governors of Spain to insult and oppress* this part of the 
Nation, thus leaving it without the succour and guarantee 
of the laws. 

It is contrary to order, impossible to the Government 
of Spain, and fetal to, the welfare of America, that the a 
latter, possessed of a range of country infinitely more ex- 
tensive, and a population incomparably more numerous, 
should depend and be subject to a peninsular corner 
of the European continent 

The cessions and abdications at Bayonne, the Revolu- 
tions of the Escorial and Aranjuez, and the Orders of the 
Royal Substitute, the Duke of Berg, sent to America, 
suffice to give virtue to the rights', which till then the 
Americans had sacrificed to the unity and integrity of the 
Spanish Nation. 

Venezuela was the first to acknowledge, and gene- 
rously to preserve, this integrity; not to abandon the 
cause of its brothers, as long as the same retained the 
least hope of salvation. 

America was called into a new existence, since she 
could, and ought, to take upon herself the charge of her 
own fate and preservation ; as Spain might acknowledge, 
or not, the rights of a King, who had preferred his own 
existence to the dignity of the Nation over which he 

All the Bourbons concurred to the invalid stipula- 
tions of Bayonne, abandoning Spain, against the will 
of the People; — they violated, disdained, and tram- 
pled on the sacred duty they bad contracted with the 
Spaniards of both Worlds, when with their blood and 
treasure they had placed them on the Throne, in despite 
of the House of Austria. By such a conduct, they were 
left disqualified and incapable of governing a Free Peo- 
ple, whom they delivered up like a flock of slaves. 

Notwithstanding our protests, our moderation, gene- 
rosity, and the inviolability of our principles, contrary to 
the wishes of our brethren in Europe, we were declared 

G G 


in a state of rebellion ; we were blockaded ; war was de- 
clared against us ; agents were sent amongst us, to excite 
us oiie against tbe other, endeavouring to take away oar 
credit with the other Nations of Europe, by imploring 
their assistance to oppress us. 

Without taking the least notice of our reasons, without 
presenting them to the impartial judgment of the world, 
and without any other judges than our own enemies, we 
are condemned to a mournful inco mm on 1 cation with our 
brethren : and, to add contempt to calumny, empowered 
agents are named for us, against bur own express will, 
that in their Cortes they may arbitrarily dispose of our 
interests, under tbe influence and force of our enemies. 

In order to crush and suppress the effects of our Repre- 
sentation, when they were obliged to grant it to us, we 
were submitted to a paltry and diminutive scale; and the 
form of election was subjected to the passive voice of the 
Municipal Bodies, degraded by the despotism of the Go- 
vernors: which amounted to an insult on our plain dealing 
and good faith, more than to a consideration of our incon- 
testible political importance. 

Always deaf to the cries of justice on our part, the 
Governments of Spain have endeavoured to discredit all 
our efforts, by declaring as criminal, and stamping with 
infamy, and rewarding with the scaffold and confiscation, 
every attempt, which at different periods some Americans 
have made, for the felicity of their country : as was that 
which lately our own security dictated to us, that we 
might not be driven into a state of disorder which we 
foresaw, and hurried to that horrid- fate which we are 
about to remove for ever from before us. By means of 
such atrocious policy, they have succeeded in making our 
brethren insensible to our misfortunes; in arming them 
against us; in erasing from. their bosoms the tender im- 
pressions of friendship, of consanguinity ; and converting 
into enemies a part of our own great family. 

In this mournful alternative we have remained three 
years, in a state of political indecision and ambiguity, so 

v APPENDIX. 451 

fatal and dangerous, that this alone would suffice to au- 
thorise the resolution, which the faith of our promises and 
the bonds of fraternity had caused us to defer, till neces- 
sity has obliged us to go beyond what we at first pro- 
posed, impelled by the hostile and unnatural conduct of 
the Governments of Spain, which have disburdened us of 
our conditional oath, by which circumstance, we are 
called to the august representation we now exercise. 

But we, who glory in grounding our proceedings on 
better principles, and not wishing to establish our felicity 
on the misfortunes of our fellow-beings, do consider and 
declare, as friends, companions of our fate, and participa- 
tor? of our felicity, those who, united, to us by the ties of 
blood, language, and religion, have suffered the same 
evils in [the anterior order of things, provided they ac- 
knowledge our absolute independence of the same, and of 
any other foreign power whatever ; that they aid us to 
sustain] it with their lives, fortune, and sentiments ; de- 
claring and acknowledging them (as well as to every other 
nation), in war enemies, and in peace friends, brothers, 
and co-patriots. 

In consequence of all these- solid, public, and incontes- 
table reasons of policy, which so powerfully urge the ne- 
cessity of recovering our natural dignity, restored to us by 
the order of events; and in compliance with the impre- 
scriptible rights enjoyed by nations, to destroy every pact, 
agreement, or association, which does not answer the pur- 
poses for which governments were established ; we be- 
lieve that we cannot, nor ought not, to preserve the bonds 
which hitherto kept us united to the Government of 
Spain ; and that, like all the other nations of the world, 
we are free, and. authorised not to depend on any other 
authority than our own, and to take amongst the powers 
of the earth the place of equality which the Supreme Be- 
ing and Nature assign to us, and to which we are called 
by the succession of human events, and urged by our own 
good and utility. 

Notwithstanding we are aware of the difficulties that 


46ft APP1HDIX. 

attend, and the obligations imposed upon as, by the rank 
we are about to take in the political order of the world ; 
as well as the powerful influence of forms and habitudes, 
to which unfortunately we have been accustomed ; we at 
the same time know, that the shameful submission to 
them, when we can throw them off, would be still more 
ignominious for us, and more fatal to our posterity, than 
our long and painful slavery ; and that it now becomes an 
indispensable duty to provide for our own preservation, 
security, and felicity, by essentially varying all the forms 
of oar former constitution. 

In consequence whereof, considering, by the reasons 
thus alledged, that we have satisfied the respect which we 
owe to the opinions of the human race, and the dignity 
of other nations, in the number of whom we are about to 
enter, and on whose communication and friendship we 
rely : We, the Representatives of the United Provinces of 
Venezuela, calling on the SUPREME BEING to witness 
the justice of our proceedings and the rectitude of our 
intentions, do implore his divine and celestial help ; and 
ratifying, at the moment in which we are born to the 
dignity which his Providence restores to us, the desire we 
have of living and dying free, and of believing and de- 
fending the holy Catholic and Apostolic Religion of Jesus 
Christ We, therefore, in the name and by the will and 
authority which we hold from the virtuous People of 
Venezuela, DO declare .solemnly to the world, that its 
united Provinces are, and ought to be, from- this day, by 
act and right, Free, Sovereign, and Independent States ; 
and that they are absolved from every submission and 
dependence on the Throne of Spain, or on those who do, 
or may call themselves its Agents and Representatives ; 
and that a free and independent State, thus constituted, 
has full power to take that form of Government which 
may be conformable to the general will of the People — 
to declare war, make peace, form alliances, regulate 
treaties of commerce, limits, and navigation ; and to do 
and transact every act, in like manner a* other free and 

AFKNMX. 453 

independent States, And that tbfe, ear solemn Deefof*» 
tion,may be held valid, firm, and durable, we hereby mo* 
tually bind each Province to the other, and pledge our 
lives, fortunes, and the sacred tie of our national honour. 
Done in the Federal Palace of Caracas ; signed by our 
hands, sealed with the great Provisional Seal of the Con* 
federation, and countersigned by the Secretary of Con- 
gress, this 6th day of July, 1811, the first of our Indepen- 

[Here follow the signatures of forty deputies ; also a 
confirmatory decree signed by the President and other 
principal Ministers of the Republic] 

No. IV. 

Correspondence between General Hodgson, Governor 
of Cura$oa, and General Bolivar of Venezuela, respect- 
ing certain Spanish prisoners, and in which those whd 
have either through ignorance or malevolence charged the 
Supreme Chief with cruelty, will find a complete and 
circumstantial refutation of their calumnies. 

Government House, Curagoa, September 4, 1813* 


Having been informed that many European 
Spaniards, are now confined in the prisons of La Guira 
and Caracas, in consequence of the part they took in the 
late unfortunate disturbances of Venezuela, and who pos- 
sibly may suffer death ; I have the honour to address you 
on this subject Although I am perfectly sure, from the 
well known humanity of your character, that you will 
take no measure of that kind, nevertheless, as there may 
be persons vested with the authority, in the above places, 
who may not be possessed of your generous sentiments, 
and who may, perhaps, from erroneous principles, recur 
to acts of cruelty, I esteem it a duty of humanity to intef- 
oede in their favour, and request you to grant them pass* 


port* to leave the province. The brave are always mer- 
ciful. I am, Ac. 

(Signed) J. HODGSON, 

To Don Simon Bolivar, Ac, Ac. Ac. 

Head Quarters, Valencia, October 2, 1813. 


I have the honour to answer jour Excellency's 
letter, of the 4th of September, ultimo, which I have 
this day received, delayed, without doubt, by causes of 
which I am ignorant, on its way from your island to La 

The attention which I ought to pay to a British officer, 
and to the cause of America, place me under the necessity 
of manifesting to your Excellency, the unhappy causes 
of the conduct, which in spite of myself, I observe to the 
Spaniards, who, within the last year, have wrapt Vene- 
zuela in ruins, by committing crimes which ought to have 
been thrown into eternal oblivion, if the necessity of jus- 
tifying, to the eyes of the world, the death war which we 
have adopted, did not oblige us to draw them to light, 
from the scaffolds and horrid dungeons, with which they 
are covered, and to place them before your Excellency. * 

A continent, separated from Spain by immense seas, 
more populous and richer than her; subject, for three 
centuries, to a degrading and tyrannical dependence, 
hearing, in the year 1810, of the dissolution of the govern- 
ments of Spain, by the occupancy of the French armies, 
placed itself in motion, to preserve itself from a similar 
fate, and to escape the anarchy and confusion which 
threatened it. Venezuela, the first, institutes a Junta 
preserving the rights of Ferdinand VII., and in order to 
wait the decisive issue of the war. It offers to the Spa- 
niards desirous of emigrating, a fraternal asylum ; it in- 
vests many of them with the supreme magistracy, and 
preserves in their offices, all who were placed in those of 

Af>i>ENt>ix. 455 

the greatest influence and importance. Evident proofs of 
the views of union which animated the people of Vene- 
zuela : views, to which the Spaniards, deceitfully, cor- 
responded; most of whom, abused this public confidence 
by black perfidy. 

In fact, Venezuela adopted the above measure, impelled 
by irresistible necessity. Under circumstances less cri- 
tical, provinces of Spain less important than herself, had 
erected governing Juntas to save themselves from disorder 
and tumult. And, was it not eqdally the duty of Vene- 
zuela, to provide a shelter from so many calamities, and 
to secure her existence against the rapid vicissitudes of 
Europe? 'Was it not even injurious to the Spauierds of 
the Peninsula, to remain exposed to the troubles and con- 
fusion, which were about to succeed to the loss of the 
acknowledged government ; ought tHey not even to have 
been grateful, for our thus obtaining for them a safe asy- 
lum? Could any one have thought/ that a rigorous 
blockade and cruel hostilities, would have been the returns 
of so much generosity ? 

Confident, as was Venezuela, that Spain had been com- 
pletely subjected, and as was also believed in every other 
part of America, she adopted the above measure ; which 
even, before, she had a right to have done, authorized by 
the example of the provinces of the Peninsula, with whom 
she was declared equal in rights and in political represen- 
tation. The Regency afterwards was formed in a tumul- 
tuous manner in Cadiz, the only point where the French 
eagles had not penetrated ; from whence it fulminated 
its destructive decrees against a free people, who, without 
any obligation, had maintained their relations and national 
integrity, with a nation, of whom they were naturally in- ' 

Such was the generous spirit which animated^the first 
revolution of America, one effected without blood, odium,, 
or vengeance. Might not Venezuela, Buenos Ayres, and 
New Granada, have displayed their just resentments for 
so much injury and violence, by destroying tho<?e 


Viceroys, Governors, and Regents ; all those rulers, exe- 
cutioners of their own species, who, gratified with the de- 
struction of the Americans, made the most illustrious and 
virtuous perish in horrid dungeons ; who spoiled the good 
man of the fruit of his labour, and in general, persecuted 
industry, the useful arts, and every thing else, that could 
alleviate the horrors of our slavery ? 

For three centuries, did America groan under this 
tyranny, the worst that ever afflicted the human race ; 
three centuries, did she lament her fatal riches which 
were so attractive to her oppressors ; and when just Pro- 
vidence presented her with the unexpected opportunity, 
of breaking her chains, far from thinking of avenging 
these outrages, she invites even her own enemies, by offer- 
ing to share with them her gifts and asylum. 

On now beholding almost every region of the new 
world, busied in a cruel and ruinous war ; on seeing dis- 
cord agitating with its furies, even the inhabitants of the 
cabin ; sedition fanning the devouring flame of war, even 
in the remote and solitary villages, and the American 
fields crimsoned with human blood, it is natural to enquire, 
the cause of all this strange confusion, in this lately 
peaceful continent, whose docile and benevolent children, 
had always been an example of mildness and submission, 
unknown in the histories of other nations. 

The ferocious Spaniard, cast on the shores of Columbia, 
to convert the finest portion of the globe, into a vast and 
odious empire of cruelty and rapine, in him may your 
Excellency behold the fatal author of all the tragic scenes 
we have now to deplore. His entry into the new world, 
was marked with . death and desolation ; he caused its 
primitive inhabitants to disappear from the face of the 
earth, and when his savage fury found no more beings to 
destroy, he turned it against his own children, whom -be 
had in the land he had usurped. 

Your Excellency might behold him, thirsting for blood ; 
contemn things the most holy, and sacrilegiously trample 
on those engagements which the world venerates, and 


which have received the inviolable sanction of' all rfges 
and people. A capitulation, last year, delivered up to 
the Spaniards, all the independent territory of Venezuela ; 
and an absolute and tranquil submission on the part of 
the inhabitants, convinced them of the pacification of the 
people, and of the total renunciation they had made, of 
their late political pretensions. But, at the same time, 
that Monteverde swore to the people of Venezuela, the reli- 
gious fulfilment of his offered promises, the most barba- 
rous and impious infraction was seen ; the towns were 
sacked, buildings were burnt; the fair sex outraged; 
nearly the whole inhabitants of cities shut up in caverns ; 
the imprisonment of an entire people, being for the first 
time then realized. In fact, none but those obscure vic- 
tims, who could escape from the sight of the tyrant, pre* 
served their miserable liberty, by hiding themselves in 
solitary huts, or by living in the woods amidst wild 

How many respectable old men and venerable clergy, 
were bound in stocks and other infamous fetters, con- 
founded with criminals, and exposed to the scorn of a 
brutal soldiery, as well as of the vilest of men ? How 
many expired, bent down under the weight of insupport- 
able chains, deprived of air, or starved with hunger or 
misery ? At the tjme the Spanish constitution was pub- 
lishing, as a shield to civil liberty, hundreds of victims 
were dragged away, loaded with chains, to deadly and 
loathsome vaults, without any cause being assigned for 
such proceedings, nay, without even the origin or political 
opinions of the victims, being knoWn. 

Your Excellency may here see, the not exaggerated, 
but unheard of picture of Spanish tyranny in America ; • 
picture, which at the same time, excites feelings of indig* 
nation against these executioners, and of the most just 
and lively sensibility for the victims. Nevertheless, we 
did not then see, any feeling souls intercede for suffering: 
humanity, nor claim the compliance of a compact, which 
interested the whole world. Your Excellency at present 


interposes your respectable mediation, for the most fero- 
cious monsters, the authors of all these evils. Your Ex- 
.celiency may believe me, when the troops of New Gra- 
nada, under my command, came to avenge nature and 
society so much outraged, neither the instructions of the 
beneficent government of that place, nor my designs, 
were to exercise the right of reprisal on the Spaniards, 
who, under the title of insurgents, were carrying all the 
Americans, worthy of that name, to infamous execution, 
or to torture still more cruel and infamous. But seeing 
these tygers sport with our noble clemency, and secure in 
their impunity, continue, even when conquered, the same 
sanguinary fierceness, I then, in order to fulfil the holy 
commission confided to my responsibility, and to save the 
threatened lives of my fellow-countrymen, made an effort 
to divest myself of my natural sensibility, and to sacrifice 
the sentiments of a pernicious clemency, to the safety of 
my country. 

May your Excellency permit me to recommend to you, 
the perusal of the letter of the ferocious Zerveris, the idol 
of the Spaniards in Venezuela, to General Monteverde, 
contained in the Caracas Gazette, No. 3 : you will there 
discover, the sanguinary plans which these wicked people 
intended to effect. Being informed, before hand, of their 
sacrilegious intentions, which a cruel experience, imme- 
diately afterwards, confirmed, I resolved to carry on a 
death war, in order to deprive these tyrants, of the 
incomparable advantage which their destructive system 

On my army opening the campaign in the province of 
Carinas, unfortunately, Colonel Antoftio Nicolas Briseno, 
and other officers of distinction, were taken, whom the 
barbarous apd cowardly Tiscar had shot, in the number 
of sixteen. Similar spectacles, were repeated in Calabozo, 
Espino, Cumana, and other provinces, accompanied by 
such circumstances of inhumanity, that I conceive the 
repetition of such abominable scenes, unworthy of your 
Excellency and of this letter. 


Your Excellency may see a slight sketch of the fero- 
cious acts, in which Spanish cruelty satiated itself, in the 
Caracas Gazette, No. 4. The general massacre rigo- 
rously committed in the peaceful town of Aragua, by the 
most brutal of men, the detestable Zuazola, is one of 
those phrenzied and sanguinary acts of blindness, which 
have seldom degraded humanity. There were seen, men 
and women, old and young, with their *ars cut off, some 
skinned alive, and then cast into venomous lakes, or assas- 
sinated by painfuT and slow means. Nature, was even 
attacked in its most innocent origin, and the unborn, were 
destroyed in the wombs of their mothers, by blows and 
stabs of the bayonet. 

San Juan de los Moros, an agricultural and innocent 
town, presented similar spectacles and equally agreeable 
to the Spaniards, committed by the barbarous Antonan- 
zas and the sanguinary Boves. Still, are there to be seen, 
in the fields of that unhappy country, the dead bodies 
suspended on the trees. The genius of crime, there appears 
to hold his empire of death, to whom no one could ap- 
proach, without feeling the furies of his implacable ven- 

But it is not Venezuela, alone, that has been the theatre 
of these horrid butcheries. The opulent Mexico, Buenos 
Ayres, and Peru, as well as the unhappy Quito, are 
scarcely to be compared to any thing else, than to so 
many vast charnel-houses, where the Spanish government 
assembles the bones of those, who have fallen under its 
murdering steel. 

Your Excellency may find in Gazette, No. 2, the 
basis on which a Spaniard founds the honour of 
his nation. The letter of Father Vicente Marquetich 
affirms, that the sword of Regules in the field, and on the 
scaffold, has immolated 12,000 Americans in one year, 
and shews,* that the glory of the navy officer Rosendo 
Porlier, consists in his universal system of not giving 
quarter ; even to the saints, were they to appear before 
him in the dress of insurgents. 

460 , APPENDIX. 

I refrain from shocking the sensibility of your Excel- 
lency, by prolonging the picture of the enormities which 
Spanish barbarity has committed against humanity, in 
order to establish an unjust and shameful dominion .over 
the unoffending Americans. Would to God, that an im- 
penetrable veil could hide fronr the knowledge of man, 
the excesses of his fellow-beings. Oh ! that a cruel neces- 
sity did not impose upon us, the inviolable duty of exter- 
minating such treacherous assassins ! 

Lei your Excellency place yourself, for a moment, in 
our situation, and then ask, what kind of conduct ought 
to be observed towards our oppressors? Let your Excel- 
lency then decide, whether the freedom of America, can 
ever be secured, as long as such obstinate enemies breathe. 
Fatal experience, daily urges us to the harshest measures ; 
and even I might add, that humanity itself dictates them. 
Placed, by my strangest sentiments, under the necessity of 
being clement with many Spaniards, after having left 
them amongst us at full liberty, and when their heads 
were scarcely free from the avenging knife, they have 
stirred up the unfortunate people, and perhaps, the atro- 
cities recently committed by them, equal the most horrid 
of the whole. In the valleys of Tuy andTacats, and in the 
towns of the West, where one would have thought, that 
civil war could never have carried its desolating ravages, 
these wretches have already raised lamentable monuments 
of their savage cruelty.* Even women, young children, 
the aged, have been found skinned, with their eyes and 
entrails torn out ; nay, one would be induced to think, 
that the tyrants of America were npt of the human 

In vain, would you solicit in favour of those who are 
now detained in our prisons, passports for your island, or 

* These circumstances principally allude to the enormities com- 
mitted by the armed slaves on their masters, whom till sow the civil 
war had scarcely disturbed. 

APPfiNonu 461 

for any other point out of Venezuela. To the great injury 
of the public peace, we have already experienced the fatal 
consequences of this measure ; for we can assert, that 
almost all who have obtained passports, notwithstanding 
the oaths by which they were bound, have disembarked on 
the points in possession of the enemy, in order again to 
enlist themselves in the parties of assassins, which disturb 
these defenceless towns. In their very prisons, they are 
plotting subversive projects, undoubtedly more fatal for 
themselves, than for a government, obliged to use its efforts, 
more to repress the fury of the zealous patriots against the 
seditious who threaten their lives, than to disconcert the 
black machinations of the former. 

Tour Excellency may be able to judge, whether the 
Americans ought to suffer themselves to be patiently ex- 
terminated, or whether they are to destroy an iniquitous 
race, which as long as it breathes is incessantly labouring 
at our destruction. 

Your Excellency is not mistaken in supposing in me, 
sentiments of compassion ; the same characterise all my 
countrymen. We could compassionate the Caffres of 
Africa; bht Spanish tyrants, contrary to the most power* 
ful sentiments of the heart, impel us to reprisals. Ame- 
rican justice, will, nevertheless, at all times, know how to 
distinguish the innocent from the guilty ; and even the 
latter, shall be treated with all the humanity due to the 
Spanish nation. 

I have the honour to, Ac. 

lb the Governor of Curafoa, he. &c. ftc. 



So, \\ 

Is the City of St. Thomas of Angostura on the fifteenth 
day of (be month of February, in the year of oar Lord 
one thousand eizbt hundred and nineteen, ninth of the 
independence of Venezuela, at half- past tea in the nom- 
ine, were assembled in virtue of a sommoos of the So- 
preme Chief of the Republic, Si mom BoLiTAa, in the 
Government Palace, for the Installation of the Sovereign 
National Congress, convoked by the said Supreme Chief 
on the twenty-second day of October last. 

The Supreme Chief opened the Session with leading 
a long Speech, the chief object of which was to explain 
the fundamental principles of the projectof a Constitution 
be presented to the Congress, and to shew that it was the 
best adapted to our country. He spoke Yery briefly of 
his own administration under the most difficult circum- 
stances, intimating that the Secretaries of State woald 
, give an account of their respective departments, and ex- 
hibit the documents necessary for illustrating the real and 
actual state of the Republic, and only enlarged when re- 
commending to the Congress the confirmation of theLiberty, 
granted to the slaves without any restriction whatever— 
the Institution of the Order of Liberators— and the Law 
for the division of the National Property amongst the 
Defenders of the Country, as the only reward for their 
heroic services. He likewise charged the Congress in 
the most particular manner to turn its serious attention to 
the funding of the National Debt, and providing means 
for its speedy extinction, as was due in gratitude, justice, 
and honour. 

On his Speech being ended, he added, " The Congress 
of Venezuela is installed,— in it from this moment is 
centered the National Sovereignty ; my sword (grasping 


it) and those of niy illustrious Fellows-in- Arras are ever 
ready to maintain its august authority. God save the 
Congress of Venezuela." At this expression, several 
times repeated by the crowd, a salute of artillery was 

The Supreme Chief then invited the Congress to pro- 
ceed to the election of an Interim President, that he might 
deliver up to him his command. The Deputy Francisco 
Antonio Zea having been elected by acclamation, his 
Excellency took the oath on the Holy Evangelists, and 
in which he was followed by all the Members, succes- 
sively. When his Excellency had taken the oath, he placed 
the President in the Chair which he had himself occupied 
under the canopy, and addressing the military, said, 
" Generals, Chiefs, and Officers, my Fellows-in-Arms, 
we are nothing more than simple citizens until the Sove- 
reign Congress condescend to employ us in the classes 
and ranks agreeable to them ; reckoning on your submis- 
sion, I am about to give them, in your names and my 
own, the most manifest proof of our obedience, by. deli- 
vering up the command entrusted to me." On saying 
which he approached the President of the Congress, and 
presenting his staff of office, continued, "I return to the 
Republic the General's Staff, entru3ted to me — to serve in 
whatever rank or class the Congress may place me, can- 
not but be honourable ; — in it I shall give an example of 
that subordination and blind obedience which ough^ to 
characterize every Soldier of the Republic." The Presi- 
dent, addressing the Congress, said, " The confirmation 
of ail the ranks and offices conferred by his Excellency 
General Simon Bolivar, during his command, does not 
appear to admit of any discussion ; I however request the 
express approval of the Congress for declaring it. Is the 
Congress of opinion that the ranks and offices conferred 
by his Excellency General Simon Bolivar, as Supreme 
Chief of the Republic, be confirmed ?" All the Deputies 
standing up, answered yes, and the President continued : 
" The Sovereign Congress of the Republic confirms in the 


person of his Excellency the Captain General Simon 
Bolivar, all the ranks and offices conferred by him during 
his Government/' — and returning him the staff, placed 
him in the seat on his right After a silence of some 
moments, the President spoke a* follows : — 

" The artless splendour of the noble act of patriotism, 
of which General Bolivar has just given so illustrious and 
memorable an example, stamps on this solemnity a cha- 
racter of antiquity, and is a presage of the lofty destinies 
of our country. Neither Rome nor Athens, nor even 
Sparta, in the purest days of heroism and public virtue, 
ever presented so sublime and so interesting a scene. The 
imagination rises in contemplating it, ages and distances 
disappear, and we think ourselves contemporary with the 
Aristides, the Phocions, the Camillus', and the Epami- 
nondas of other days. The same philanthropy and the 
same liberal sentiments which united to the Republican 
Chiefs of high antiquity, those beneficent Emperors, Ves- 
pasian, Titus, Trajan, and Marcus Aurelius, who so wor- 
thily trod the same path, will to-day place amongst them 
this modest General, and with them he will shine in history, 
and receive the benedictions of posterity. It is not now 
that the sublime trait of patriotic virtue, which we have 
witnessed and admire, can be duly appreciated ; yrhen 
our Institutions will have had the sanction of time, when 
every thing weak, and little in our days, when pas- 
sions, interests, and vanities will have disappeared, and 
great deeds and great men alone remain, then the abdica- 
tion of Qeneral Bolivar Will receive all the justice it so 
richly merits, and his name will be mentioned with pride 
in Venezuela, and with veneration throughout the universe. 
Forgetting every thing be has achieved for the establish- 
ment of our liberties— -eight years of affliction and dangers 
— the sacrifice of his fortune and repose — indescribable 
fatigues and hardships — exertions of which scarcely a 
similar example can be quoted from history, that constancy 
proof against every reverse — that invincible firmness in 
never despairing of the salvation of our oountry, even 

ANȣ*iDIX. 466 

when be, saw fapr subjugated, and he destitute end alone 
forgetting, I say, so many claims to immortality, to fix 
his attention only on what we have seen and admired. If 
the had renounced the Supreme Authority when it pre- 
sented nothing bat troubles and dangers ; when it brought 
on his bead insults and calumnies, and when it appeared 
nothing more than an empty name, although it would not 
have been praise-worthy, it would at least have been 
prudent: but to do it at the very moment when the 
authority begins to enjoy some attractions in the eyes of 
ambition, and when every thing forebodes a speedy and / 
fortunate issue to our desires, and to do it of himself, 
frosa the pure love of liberty, is a deed so heroic, and so 
splendid, that I doubt whether it ever had an equal, and 
despair pf its ever being imitated. But what ! shall we 
allopr General Bolivar to rise so much above his feflow- 
' citizens* as to oppress them with his glory, and not at 
least endeavour to oonppete with him in noble and patri- 
otic sentiments* by not permitting him to* quit the pre- 
cincts of this august assembly without re-investing him 
jwith the game authority, which he had relinquished in 
order tp maintain liberty inviolable, but which was in 
fact the way to risk it ?" " No, no," replied General 
Bolivar, with energy and animation, " never will I take 
upon me a^aui an authority which from my heart I tave 
renounced for ever on principle and sentiment/' He con- 
tinued explaining. the dangers which Liberty would be 
exposed to, by continuing for a length of time the same 
man in possession of the chief authority ; he shewed the 
necessity of guarding against the views of every ambitious 
persog, and even against his own, as he eould not be sure 
of always acting and thinking in the same way, and 
finished his speech with protesting in the strongest and 
most decisive tone, that in no case, and on no considera- 
tion, would he ever accept an authority which he had so 
sincerely and ao cordially renounced, in order to secure 
to his country the blessings of Liberty. His reply being 
ended, he begged permission to retire, to which the 

H H 


President acceded, and appointed a Deputation of ten 
Members to conduct him* 

A discussion then took place in the Congress about the 
nomination of an Interim President of the Republic, but 
several difficulties arising in the election, it was agreed 
that General Bolivar should exercise that power for 
twenty-four, or at most for eight and forty hours, and a. 
Deputation, with General Marino at their bead, was sent 
to communicate the resolution. General Bolivar replied 
that it was only in consideration of the urgency of the 
case,, that he accepted the charge, and on the precise 
condition that it should only be for the time fixed. 

This important business being disposed of, and the day 
far advanced, the Sovereign Congress resolved to meet the 
following morning at half-past nine, and in a body, accom- 
panied by the Executive Power, the Stuff, the Generals, 
Chiefs and Officers of the Army and Place, to proeeed 
to the Holy Cathedral Church, and return thanks to 
Almighty God for his mercies in having granted the 
happy re-assembling of the National Representation, to 
fix the lot of the Republic by giving it a free Constitution 
capable of raising her to the height of glory destined for her 
by nature. 

The President declared the Sitting of the Installation of 
the Sovereign Congress of Venezuela ended, and the Act 
should be signed by all the Deputies and the Supreme 
Chief, who had this day laid down bis Authority, and 
that it be countersigned by the Secretary appointed ad 
interim for that purpose. 

[Here follow the signatures of twenty-six Deputies, out 
of thirty of which the Congress ought to consist, also those 
of the President and Supreme Chief.] 


No. VI. 

Extract* from the justly celebrated Speeoh of General 
Bolivar to the Congress 9/ Venezuela, Feb. 19M, 1819. 


I account myself one of the beings most favoured by 
Providence, in having the honour of re- uniting the Repre- 
sentatives of Venezuela in this august Congress; the only 
source of legitimate authority, the deposit of the sovereign 
will, and the arbiter of the Nation's fate. 

In delivering back to the Representatives of the People 
the supreme power entrusted to me, I satisfy the desires 
of my own heart, and calm the wishes of my Fellow- 
Citizens and of future generations, who hope every thing 
from your wisdom, rectitude, and prudence. In fulfilling 
this delightful duty, I free myself from the boundless 
authority which oppresses me, and also from the 
unlimited responsibility which weighs on my feebly 

An imperative necessity, united to a strongly expressed 
desire on the part of the People, could have alone induced 
me to assume the dreadful and dangerous charge of 
Dictator, Supreme Chief of the Republic. Now, 
however, I respire in returning the authority, which, 
with such great risk, difficulty and toil, I have maintained 
amidst as horrible calamities as ever afflicted a social 

In the epoch during which I presided over the Republic, 
it was not merely a political storm that raged, iu a san- 
guinary war, in a time of popular anarchy, but the tempest 
of the desert, a whirlwind of every disorganised element, 
the bursting of an infernal torrent that overwhelmed the 
land of Venezuela. A man ! and such a mail as I am ! what 

H h 2 

468 APt>ivNttjx. 

bounds, what resistance, could be oppose to such furious 
devastation ? Amidst that sea of woes and afflictions, I 
was nothing more than the miserable sport of the revolution- 
ary hurricane, driven to and fro like the wild bird of the 
Ocean. I could do neither good nor evil ; an irresistible 
power above all human controul directed the march of 
our fortunes, and for me to pretend to have been the prime 
mover of the events which have taken place, would be 
unjust, and would be attaching to myself an importance 
I do not merit. Do you desire to know the sources from 
which those occurrences took their rise, and the origin of 
our present situation ? Consult the annals of Spain, of 
America, and of Venezuela ; examine the laws of the 
Indies, the conduct of your ancient Governors, the influ- 
ence of Religion, and of foreign Dominion ; observe the 
first Acts of the Republican Government, the ferocity of 
our enemies, and the national character. I again repeat 
that I cannot consider myself more than the mere instru- 
ment of the great causes which have acted on our Country. 
My life, my conduct, and all my actions, public and 
private, are however before the people — and, Represen- 
tatives, it is your duty to judge them. I submit to your 
impartial decision, the manner in which I have executed 
my command, and nothing will I add to excuse — I have 
already said enough as an apology. Should I merit your 
approbation, I shall have acquired the sublime tide of a 
aoOD Citizen, preferred by me to that of Liberator, 
bestowed on me by Venezuela ; to that of Pacificator, 
given by Cundinamarca, and to aH others the universe 
eould confer! 

Legislators* — I deposit in your hands the Supreme 
command of Venezuela, and it is now your high duty to 
consecrate yourselves to the felicity of the Republic.; in 
jqht hands rest the balance of our destiny, and the means 
of our gkny.— You will confirm the Decrees which esta- 
blish our Liberty. 

The topreme Chief of the Republic is, at tills moment, 
ueAitogmore than a simple Citfreo, — and **eh he wkhts 


*v*ttoto%. 469 

to remain until his latest boor. He will, however, serve 
with the armies of Venezuela, as long as an enemy treads 
her soil. 

The continuation of authority in the same individual, 
has frequently proved the termination of democratic*! 
Governments. Repeated elections are essential in popular 
systems, for nothing is so dangerous as to suffer power to 
remain a long time vested in one Citizen ; the People 
accustomed to obey, and he to command, give rise to 
usurpation and tyranny. A strict jealousy is the guaran- 
tee of Republican Liberty ; and the Citizens of Venezuela 
oagbt to fear with the greatest justice, that the same 
Magistrate who has governed them for a length of time 
may do so for ever. 

Casting a glance on the past, we shall see what is the 
basis of the Republic of Venezuela. - . 

The separation of America from the Spanish Monarchy 
resembles the state of the Roman Empire, wben that enor- 
mous mass fell to pieces in the midst of the ancient world. 
Every dismemberment then formed an independent nation, 
conformable to its situation and interests ; hot with this 
difference, that those associations returned to their origi- 
nal principles, We do not retain vestiges of what we 
were in other times ; we are not Europeans, we are 
not Indians, but a middle race betwixt the Aborigines and 
the Spaniards. Americans by birth, and European* in 
rights, we are placed in the extraordinary predicament of 
disputing with the natives our privilege of possession, apd 
of maintaining ourselves in the country which gave us birth* 
against the efforts of the original Invaders— rand thus, 
our situation is the more extraordinary and complicated. 

Oar lot, moreover, has ever been purely passive, our po- 
litical existence has ever been nugatory ; and we, there- 
fore, encounter greater difficulties in establishing our 
Liberties, having hitherto been in a lower degree of de- 
gradation than even servitude, and being not only robbed of 
our freedom, but not suffering «a active and domineering 
tyranny, Which would have excited feelifigsof indignation. 


Permit me to explain this paradox: in the exercise 
of authorized absolute power, there are no limits ; the 
will of the Despot is the supreme Law, arbitrarily exe- 
cuted by inferiors, who participate in the organized 
oppression, in proportion to the authority they hold, being 
entrusted with all functions, civil, political, military, and 
religious. America received all from Spain, was with- 
out the practice and exercise of an active tyranny, and 
was not permitted to] share in the administration of her 
domestic concerns and interior arrangements. 

This abject state of depression rendered it impossible 
for us to be acquainted with the. course of public affairs, 
and as little did we enjoy the personal consequence 
and respect, which the shew of authority commands in 
the eyes of the people, and which is of such importance 
in great revoiutiops. I say again, that we were abstracted 
and absent from •the world in every thing, having a re- 
ference to the science of Government. The people of 
America, bound with the triple yoke of ignorance, 
tyranny, and vice, could not acquire either knowledge, 
power, or virtue. 

Pupils of such pernicious roasters — the lessons we re- 
ceived, and the examples we followed — were the most 
destructive. We were governed more by deceit and 
treachery, than by force, and were degraded more by 
vice than superstition. Slavery is the daughter of dark- 
ness, and an ignorant person is generally the blind in- 
strument of his own ruin ; ambition and intrigue take 
advantage of the credulity and inexperience of men 
totally unacquainted with every principle of political 
and civil economy ; the uninformed adopt as realities 
what are mere illusions, they mistake licentiousness 
for Liberty, treachery for Patriotism, and revenge for 

A corrupt People, should it gain its liberty, soon loses 
it again, for in vain are the lights of experience exercised 
in shewing that happiness consists in the practice of 
virtue, and that the Government of Laws is nlore power- 



ful than that of Tyrants, because they are more inflexible, 
and all ought to submit to their wholesome severity ; 
that good morals and not force constitute the pillars of 
the Law, and that the exercise of Justice is the exercise 
of Liberty. 

Many anoient and modern nations have shaken off 
oppression, but few of them have known how to enjoy a 
few precious moments of freedom ; very soon have they 
returned to their former political vices, for the People 
more frequently than the Government bring on tyranny. 
The hahit of submission renders them insensible to the 
charms of honour and national prosperity, and leads 
them to regard with insensibility the glory pf being free 
under the protection of laws dictated by their own will. 
The history of the world proclaims this dreadful truth. 

The Constitution of Venezuela, although founded on 
the most perfect principles, differed widely from that 
of America in an essential point, and without doubt the 
most important. The Congress of Venezuela, like that 
of America, participates in some of the attributes of 
the Executive power. But we go further, and subdivide- 
it by committing it to a collective body, and are con-, 
sequently subject to the inconvenience of making, the ex* 
istence of the Government periodical, of suspending and 
of dissolving it whenever the Members separate. Our tri- 
umvirate is void, as one may say, of unity, duration, 
and personal responsibility ; it is at times destitute of 
action, it is without perpetual life, real uniformity, and 
immediate responsibility ; and a Government, which does 
not possess continuance, may be denominated a nullity. 
Although the powers of the President of the United States 
are limited by excessive restrictions, he exercises by him- 
self alone all the functions of authority granted him by 
the Constitution, and there can be no doubt that his 
Administration must be more. uniform, constant, and truly 
proper, than that of a power divided amongst various indi- 
viduals, the composition of which cannot but be monstrous. 

The Judicial power in Venezuela is similar to that in 

4Tf APMum*^ 

America, indefinite in duration, temporary and not per- 
petual, and it enjoys all the independence necessary. 

All the citizens of Venezuela enjoy by the constitution 
a political equality ; and if that equality had not been a 
dogma in Athens, in France, and" in America, we ought 
to confirm* the principle in order to correct the dif- 
ference which may apparently exist. Legislators; my 
opinion is, that the fundamental principle of our system, 
depends immediately and solely on equality being esta- 
blished and practised in Venezuela. That men are all 
born vrith equal rights to the benefits of society, has been 
sanctioned by almost all the sages of every age ; as has 
also, that all men are not born with equal capacities 
for the attainment of every rank, as all ought to practise 
virtue ; and all do not so ; all ought to be brave, and 
all are not so; all ought to possess talents, and all 
do not so. From this arises the real distinction observed 
amongst individuals ' of the most liberally established 

If the principle of political equality be generally ac- 
knowledged, not less so is that of physical and mond 
inequality. It would be an illusion, an absurdity to 
suppose the contrary. Nature makes' men unequal in 
genius, temperament, strength, and character. Laws 
correct that difference by placing the individual in society, 
where education, industry, arts, sciences, and virtues, 
give a fictitious equality, properly called political and 
social. The union of all classes in one state is eminently 
beneficial ; and in which diversity is multiplied in pro- 
portion to the propagation of the species. By it alone 
has discord been torn up by the roots, and many jea^ 
lousies, follies, and prejudices avoided ! 

The most perfect system of government is that which 
produces the greatest degree of happiness, of social se- 
curity, and political stability. 

A republican government has been, is, and ought to 
be that of Venezuela; its basis ought to be the sove- 
reignty of the people, the division of power, civil liberty, 


the prohibition of slavery, and tha abolition of 
narchy and privileges. We want equality for recast- 
ing, as I may say, men, political opinions, and public 
customs. Throwing our sight over the vast field we 
have to examine, let us fix our attention en the dangers 
we ought to avoid, and let history guide us in our career. 

Passing from ancient to modem timefe, we find England 
and France deserving general attention, and giving im- 
pressive lessons in every species of government The 
revolutions in those two great states, like brilliant meteors, 
have filled the world with so great a profusion of political 
light, that every thinking being has learned what are the 
rights and duties of man : in what the excellency of 
governments consists* and in what their vices: all know 
how to appreciate the intrinsic value of the theoretical 
speculations of modern philosophers and legislators. In 
short, this star in its brilliant course inflamed even the 
apathetic Spaniards, who also entering the political 
whirlwind gave ephemeral proofs of liberty, and have 
shewn their incapacity of living under the mild dominion 
of the law, by returning after a short blase to- their origi- 
nal bondage. 

Rome and Great Britain are the nations which have 
most excelled amongst the ancients and moderns. Both 
were born to command and be free, and yet neither had 
constitutions modelled in Liberty's most brilliant form, 
but solid establishments ; and on that account therefore I 
recommend to you, Representatives, the study of the Bri- 
tish constitution, which appears to be the one destined to 
produce the greatest possible effect on the people adopt- 
ing it ; but perfect as it may be, I am very far, at the 
same time, from proposing a servile imitation of h. When: 
I speak of the British constitution, I refer solely to the. 
democratical part of it ) and in truth it may be denomi- 
nated, a monarchy in system, in which is acknowledged 
the sovereignty of the people, the division and equilibrium 
of power, civil freedom, liberty of conscience, and of the 
press, and every thing that is sublime in polities. A 
greater degree of liberty cannot lie enjoyed in any kind of 


republic, and it may indeed claim a higher rank in social 
order. I recommend that constitution as the best model 
to those who aspire to the enjoyments of the rights of man, 
and of all that political felicity compatible with our frail 
natures. • 

[Here follows the Sapreme's opinion of the advan- 
tages likely to accrue from an hereditary senate, toge- 
ther with a recommendation of such a body.— perhaps the 
only part of his admirable discourse that will meet objec- 
tions amongst his republican friends and admirers in Eu- 
rope. As the General's observations on our constitution, 
apply to an administration of it, which a very large majo- 
rity of the nation do not admit to exist, the Editor has 
also passed them over.] 

Whilst the people of Venezuela exercise the rights they 
lawfully enjoy — let us moderate the excessive pretensions 
which an incompetent form of government might suggest 
— and let us give up that federal system which does not 
suit us-Jet us get clear of the triumvirate executive power, 
and concentrate it in one president,and let us commit to him 
sufficient authority to enable him to resist the inconveniences 
arising from our recent situation, from the state of war- 
fare we have been suffering under, and from the kind of 
foreign and domestic enemies we had to deal with, and 
with whom we shall still have to contend for a length of 
time. Let the legislative power resign the attributes 
belonging to the executive, and acquire nevertheless fresh 
consistency, and fresh influence in the equilibrium of 
authority. Let the courts of justice be reformed by the 
permanency and independence of the judges, by the es- 
tablishment of juries, and of civil and criminal codes, not 
dictated by antiquity nor by conquering kings, but by 
the voice of nature, by the cry of justice, and by the 
genius of wisdom ! 

To form a stable government, a national feeling is 
required, possessing an uniform inclination towards two 
principal points, regulating public will, and limiting 

Al'PUNDIX. 475 

public authority, the bounds of which are difficult to. be 
assigned, but it may be supposed that the best rule for 
our direction, is reciprocal restriction and concentration, 
so that there may be the least friction possible betwixt 
legitimate will and legitimate power. 

Love of country, laws, and magistrates, ought to be 
the ruling passion in the breast of every republican. 
Venezuelans love their country but not its laws, . because 
they are bad, and the source of evil ; and as little could 
they respect their magistrates, as the old ones were 
wicked, and the new ones are hardly known in the career 
they have commenced. If a sacred respect does not exist 
for country, laws, and constituted authorities, society is 
a state of confusion, an abyss, and a c&nflict of man with 
man, and of body with body. 

To save our incipient republic from such a chaos, all 
our moral powers will be insufficient, unless we melt the 
whole people down into one mass; the composition of the 
government is a whole, the legislation is a whole, and 
national feeling is a whole. Unity, unity, unity, ought 
to be our device. 

Popular education ought to be the first care of the 
Congress's paternal regard. Morals and knowledge are 
the cardinal points of a republic, and morals and know- 
ledge are what we most want. 

Let us take from Athens her Areopagus, and the guar- 
dians of customs and laws ; — let us take from Rome her 
censors and domestic tribunals, and forming a holy 
alliance of those moral institutions — let us renew on earth 
the idea of a people not contented with being free and 
powerful, but which desires also to be virtuous ! 

Let us take from Sparta her austere ^establishments, 
and form from those three springs a reservoir of virtue. 

Let us give our republic a fourth power, with autho- 
rity to preside over the infancy and hearts of men — 
public spirit, good habits, and republican morality. Let 
us constitute this Areopagus to watch over the education 
of youth and national instruction, to purify whatever 


may be corrupt in the republic — to impeach ingratitude, 
egotism, luke-warmness in the country's cause, sloth and 
idleness, and to pass judgment on the first germs of cor- 
ruption and pernicious example. 

We should correct manners with moral pain, the same 
as the law punishes crime with corporal, not only what 
may offend, but what may ridicule, not only what may 
assault, but what may weaken, and not only what may 
violate the constitution, but whatever may infringe on 
public decency. 

The jurisdiction of this really sacred tribunal ought to 
be effective in every thing regarding education and in- 
struction, and only deliberative as to pains and punish- 
ments ; and thus its annals and records, in which will, be 
inscribed its acts and deliberations, and the moral prin- 
ciples and actions of citizens, will be the registers of vir- 
tue and vice. Registers which the people will consult 
in their elections, the magistrates in their determinations, 
and the judges in their decisions. Such an institution, 
however chimerical it may appear, is infinitely easier to 
realize, than others of less utility to mankind, established 
by some ancient and modern legislators. 

Meditating on the most efficient mode of regenerating 
the character and habits, which tyranny and war have 
given us, I have dared to suggest a moral power, drawn 
from the remote ages of antiquity, and those obsolete 
laws, which for some time maintained public virtue 
amongst the Greeks and Romans, and although it may 
be considered a mere whim of fancy, it is possible, and 
1 flatter myself, that you will not altogether overlook an 
idea, which, when meliorated by experience and know- 
ledge, may prove of the greatest efficacy. 

Terrified at the disunion which has hitherto existed, 
and must exist amongst us from the subtle spirit charac- 
terising the federative system, I have been induced to 
solicit yon to adopt the concentration and union of all the 
states of Venezuela intoone republic, one, and indivisible. 
A measure, in my opinion, urgent, vital, and saving, and 


of such a nature that without it, the fruit of our regene- 
ration would be destruction. 

I will not notice (he most momentous acts of my com- 
mand, although they concern most of my countrymen, and 
will call your attention only to the last memorable revolu- 
tion. Horrid, atrocious, and impious slavery, covered .with 
her sable mantle the land of Venezuela, and our atmosphere 
lowered with the dark gloomy clouds of the tempest, 
threatening a fiery deluge. I implored the protection of 
the God of nature, and at hip Almighty word, the storm 
was dispelled. The day-star of liberty rose, slavery 
broke her chains, and Venezuela was surrounded with 
new and grateful sons, who turned the instruments of her 
thrall and bondage, into arms of freedom. Yes ! thoee 
who were formerly slaves, are now free ; those who were 
formerly the enemies of our country, are now its defenders. 


To exhibit the military history of Venezuela, would 
be to bring to otur recollection the history of republican 
heroism amongst the amciente ; it would shew that Vene- 
zuela had made as brilliant aacrifioes on the sacred altar 
of liberty. The noble hearts of our generous warrior*, 
have been filled with those sublime and honourable feel- 
ings whioh have ever been attributed to the benefactors 
of the human race. 

Men who have given up all the benefits and advan- 
tages they formerly enjoyed as a proof of their virtue 
and disiaterestedfteflK-tmen who have undergone every 
thing horrible in a most inhuman war, suffering the most 
painful privations, the cruellest anguish — *aeu so deserv- 
ing of their .country, merit the attention of government, 
and 1 have therefore given directions to recompense them 
o*4 of the oatioaal property . 

Since the second epoch of the republic, our armies 


wanted the necessaries of war ; they were constantly 
void of arms and ammunition, and were at all times badly 
equipped ; but at present the brave defenders of inde- 
pendence are not only armed with justice, but with 
power, and our troops may rank with the choicest in 
Europe, now that they possess equal means of destruction. 
For these important advantages, we are indebted to 
the unbounded liberality of some generous foreigners, 
who, hearing the groans of suffering humanity, and see- 
ing the cause of, freedom, reason, and justice, ready to 
sink, could not remain quiet, but flew to our succour with 
their munificent aid and protection, and furnished the 
republic with every thing needful to cause the triumph of 
their philanthropical principles. Those friends of mankind 
are the guardian geniuses of America, and to them we 
owe a debt of eternal gratitude, as well as a religious 
fulfilment of (be several obligations contracted with them. 
The national debt, Legislators, is the deposit of the good 
faith, the honour, and the gratitude of Venezuela: respect 
it as the holy ark which encloses not only the rights of 
our benefactors, but the glory of our fidelity. Let us 
perish rather than fail, in any the smallest point, in the 
completion of those engagements, which have been the 
salvation of our country, and of the lives of her. sons. 

The union of New Grenada, and Venezuela, in one 
great state, has uniformly been the ardent wish of the 
people and governments of these republics. The fortune 
of war has effected this junction, so much desired by 
every American, and in fact we are incorporated. These 
sister-nations have entrusted to you their interests, rights, 
and destinies. > In contemplating the union of this im- 
mense district, my mind rises with delight to the stu- 
pendous height necessary for viewing properly so won- 
derful a picture. 

Legislators ! — Condescend to receive with indulgence 
the declaration of my political creed ; the highest wishes 
of my heart and earnest petition, which in the name 
of the people, I have dared to address you. 

APPENDIX. * 479 

Vouchsafe to grant to Venezuela a government purely 
popular, purely just, and purely moral, which will enchain 
oppression, anarchy, and crime. A government which 
will cause innocency, philanthropy^ and peace to reign. 
A government which, under the dominion of inexorable 
laws, will cause equality and liberty to triumph ! !! 

Gentlemen ! — Commence your duties, I have. finished 
mine. Y> 

God save the Congress ! 


W. Phnckell, Primer, 

Fleet-street, London. 





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