Skip to main content

Full text of "The naturalist on the River Amazons, A record of adventures, habits of animals, sketches of Brazilian and Indian life and aspects of nature under the Equator during eleven years of travel"

See other formats



The Bequest of 

Colonel George Earl Church 








Pelopaeus "Wasp building nest. 



[The Right of Translation is Reserved.'] 

11 3.6 






Situation of Santarem — Manners and customs of the inhabitants 
— Trade — Climate — Leprosy — Historical sketch — Grassy campos 
and woods — Excursions to Mapiri, Mahica, and Irura, with 
sketches of their Natural History ; Palms, wild fruit-trees, 
Mining Wasps, Mason Wasps, Bees, Sloths, and Marmoset 
Monkeys — Natural History of Termites or White Ants . . 1 



Preparations for voyage — First day's sail — Mode of arranging 
money-matters and remittance of collections in the interior — 
Loss of boat — Altar do Chad — Excursion in forest — Valuable 
timber — Modes of obtaining fish — Difficulties with crew — Arrival 
at Aveyros — Excursions in the neighbourhood — White Cebus 
and habits and dispositions of Cebi Monkeys — Tame Parrot — 
Missionary settlement — Enter the Kiver Cupari — Adventure with 
Anaconda — Smoke-dried Monkey — Boa-constrictor — Village of 
Mundurucu Indians, and incursion of a wild tribe — Falls of 
the Cupari — Hyacinthine Macaw — Re-emerge into the broad 
Tapajos — Descent of river to Santarem . . . . .71 



Departure from Barra — First day and night on the Upper Ama- 
zons — Desolate appearance of river in the flood season — Cucama 

VOL. II. b 


Indians — Mental condition of Indians — Squalls — Manatee — 
Forest — Floating pumice-stones from the Andes — Falling banks 
— Ega and its inhabitants — Daily life of a Naturalist at Ega — 
Customs, trade, &c. — The four seasons of the Upper Amazons . 153 



The river Teffe — Rambles through groves on the beach — Excursion 
to the house of a Passe chieftain — Character and customs of 
the Passe* tribe — First excursion to the sand islands of the 
Solimoens — Habits of great river-turtle — Second excursion — 
Turtle-fishing in the inland pools — Third excursion — Hunt- 
ing-rambles with, natives in the forest — Return to Ega . . 225 



Scarlet-faced Monkeys — Parauacii Monkey — Owl-faced Night-apes 
— Marmosets — Jupurd, — Comparison of Monkeys of the New 
"World with those of the Old — Bats — Birds — Cuvier's Toucan 
— Curl-crested Toucan — Insects — Pendulous Cocoons — Foraging 
Ants— Blind Ants 305 



Steamboat travelling on the Amazons — Passengers — Tunantins — 
Caishana Indians — The Jutahi — Indian tribes on the Jutahi and 
the Junia — The Sapo — Maraud Indians — Fonte Boa — Journey to 
St. Paulo — Tucuna Indians — Illness— Descent to Para — Changes 
at Para — Departure for England 367 













ac aba (mesonauta insignis) 140 

sarapo (cab apes) 141 

needle-fish (liemabamphus) 141 

bulging-stemmed palm : pashiuba barrigudo (iriartea 

yentkicosa) 169 

uiki fruit 217 

putunha palm 218 

blow-pipe, quiver, and abbow 236 

sububim (pimelodus tigrinus) . ' . . . . 256 

arrow used in turtle shooting 261 

















Situation of Santarem — Manners and customs of the inhabitants — 
Trade — Climate — Leprosy — Historical sketch — Grassy campos and 
woods — Excursions to Mapiri, Mahica, and Irura, with sketches 
of their Natural History ; Palms, wild fruit-trees, Mining Wasps, 
Mason Wasps, Bees, Sloths, and Marmoset Monkeys — Natural 
History of Termites or White Ants. 

I have already given a short account of the size, 
situation, and general appearance of Santarem. Al- 
though containing not more than 2500 inhabitants, it 
is the most civilised and important settlement on the 
banks of the main river from Peru to the Atlantic. The 
pretty little town, or city as it is called, with its rows of 
tolerably uniform, white-washed and red-tiled houses sur- 
rounded by green gardens and woods, stands on gently 
sloping ground on the eastern side of the Tapajos, close 
to its point of junction with the Amazons. A small 
eminence on which a fort has been erected, but which 
is now in a dilapidated condition, overlooks the streets, 
and forms the eastern limit of the mouth of the 


2 SANTAREM. Chap. I. 

tributary. The Tapajos at Santarem is contracted to 
a breadth of about a mile-and- a-half by an accretion of 
low alluvial land, which forms a kind of delta on the 
western side ; fifteen miles further up the river is seen 
at its full width of ten or a dozen miles, and the mag- 
nificent hilly country through which it flows from the 
south, is then visible on both shores. This high land, 
which appears to be a continuation of the central table- 
lands of Brazil, stretches almost without interruption on 
the eastern side of the river down to its mouth at San- 
tarem. The scenery as well as the soil, vegetation and 
animal tenants of this region, are widely different from 
those of the flat and uniform country which borders the 
Amazons along most part of its course. After travelling 
week after week on the main river, the aspect of San- 
tarem with its broad white sandy beach, limpid dark- 
green waters, and line of picturesque hills rising behind 
over the fringe of green forest, affords an agreeable 
surprise. On the main Amazons, the prospect is mono- 
tonous unless the vessel runs near the shore, when 
the wonderful diversity and beauty of the vegetation 
afford constant entertainment. Otherwise, the un- 
varied, broad yellow stream, and the long low line of 
forest, which dwindles away in a broken line of trees 
on the sea-like horizon and is renewed, reach after reach, 
as the voyager advances ; weary by their uniformity. 

I arrived at Santarem on my second journey into the 
interior, in November, 1851, and made it my head quar- 
ters for a period, as it turned out, of three years and a 
half. During this time I made, in pursuance of the plan 
I had framed, many excursions up the Tapajos, and to 

Chap. I. SERVANTS. 3 

other places of interest in the surrounding region. On 
landing, I found no difficulty in hiring a suitable house 
on the outskirts of the place. It was pleasantly situated 
near the beach, going towards the aldeia or Indian part 
of the town. The ground sloped from the back premises 
down to the waterside, and my little raised verandah 
overlooked a beautiful flower-garden, a great rarity in 
this country, which belonged to the neighbours. The 
house contained only three rooms, one with brick and 
two with boarded floors. It was substantially built, like 
all the better sort of houses in Santarem, and had a 
stuccoed front. The kitchen, as is usual, formed an out- 
house placed a few yards distant from the other rooms. 
The rent was 12,000 reis, or about twenty-seven shillings 
a month. In this country, a tenant has no extra pay- 
ments to make ; the owners of house property pay a 
dizimo or tithe, to the " collectoria geral," or general trea- 
sury, but with this the occupier of course has nothing 
to do. In engaging servants, I had the good fortune 
to meet with a free mulatto, an industrious and trust- 
worthy young fellow, named Jose, willing to arrange with 
me ; the people of his family cooking for us, whilst he 
assisted me in collecting; he proved of the greatest 
service in the different excursions we subsequently 
made. Servants of any kind were almost impossi- 
ble to be obtained at Santarem, free people being too 
proud to hire themselves, and slaves too few and 
valuable to their masters, to be let out to others. 
These matters arranged, the house put in order, and a 
rude table, with a few chairs, bought or borrowed to 
furnish the house with, I was ready in three or four 

B 2 


days to commence my Natural History explorations in 
the neighbourhood. 

l c? J 

I found Santarem quite a different sort of place from 
the other settlements on the Amazons. At Cameta, the 
lively, good-humoured, and plain-living Mamelucos 
formed the bulk of the population, the white immi- 
grants there, as on the Rio Negro and Upper Amazons, 
seeming to have fraternised well with the aborigines. In 
the neighbourhood of Santarem the Indians, I believe, 
were originally hostile to the Portuguese ; at any rate, 
the blending of the two races has not been here on a large 
scale. I did not find the inhabitants the pleasant, easy- 
going, and blunt-spoken country folk that are met with 
in other small towns of the interior. The whites, Portu- 
guese and Brazilians, are a relatively more numerous 
class here than in other settlements, and make great 
pretensions to civilisation ; they are the merchants and 
shopkeepers of the place ; owners of slaves, cattle 
estates, and cacao plantations. Amongst the principal 
residents must also be mentioned the civil and military 
authorities, who are generally well-bred and intelligent 
people from other provinces. Few Indians live in the 
place ; it is too civilised for them, and the lower class is 
made up (besides the few slaves) of half-breeds, in whose 
composition negro blood predominates. Coloured people 
also exercise the different handicrafts ; the town supports 
two goldsmiths, who are mulattoes and have each several 
apprentices ; the blacksmiths are chiefly Indians, as is 
the case generally throughout the province. The man- 
ners of the upper class (copied from those of Para), are 


very stiff and formal, and the absence of the hearty hospi- 
tality met with in other places, produces a disagreeable 
impression at first. Much ceremony is observed in the 
intercourse of the principal people with each other, and 
with strangers. The best room in each house is set 
apart for receptions, and visitors are expected to present 
themselves in black dress coats, regardless of the furious 
heat which rages in the sandy streets of Santarem 
towards mid-day, the hour when visits are generally 
made. In the room a cane-bottomed sofa and chairs, 
all lacquered and gilded, are arranged in quadrangular 
form, and here the visitors are invited to seat them- 
selves, whilst the compliments are passed, or the busi- 
ness arranged. In taking leave, the host backs out his 
guests with repeated bows, finishing at the front door. 
Smoking is not in vogue amongst this class, but snuff- 
taking is largely indulged in, and. great luxury is dis- 
played in gold and silver snuff-boxes. All the gentle- 
men, and indeed most of the ladies also, wear gold 
watches and guard chains. Social parties are not very 
frequent ; the principal men being fully occupied with 
their business and families, and the rest spending their 
leisure in billiard and gambling rooms, leaving wives 
and daughters shut up at home. Occasionally, however, 
one of the principal citizens gives a bail. In the first 
that I attended, the gentlemen were seated all the even- 
ing on one side of the room, and the ladies on the 
other, and partners were allotted by means of num- 
bered cards, distributed by a master of the ceremonies. 
But the customs changed rapidly in these matters after 
steamers began to run on the Amazons (in 1853), bring- 

6 SANTAREM. Chap. I. 

ing a flood of new ideas and fashions into the country. 
The old, bigoted, Portuguese system of treating women, 
which stifled social intercourse and wrought endless 
evils in the private life of the Brazilians, is now being 
gradually, although slowly, abandoned. 

When a stranger arrives at an interior town in Brazil, 
with the intention of making some stay, he is obliged 
within three days to present himself at the Police office, 
to show his passport. He is then expected to call on 
the different magistrates, the military commander, and 
the principal private residents. This done, he has to 
remain at home a day or two to receive return visits, 
after which he is considered to be admitted into the 
best society. Santarem being the head of a comarca or 
county, as well as a borough, has a resident high judge 
(Juiz de Direito), besides a municipal judge (Juiz Muni- 
cipal) and recorder (Promoter publico). The head of 
the police is also a magistrate, having jurisdiction in 
minor cases ; he is called the delegado or delegate of 
police, from being appointed by and subordinate to the 
chief of police in the capital : all these officers are nomi- 
nated by the Central Government. In a pretentious 
place like Santarem, the people attach great importance 
to these matters, and I had to go a round of visiting 
before I finally settled down to work. Notwithstanding 
the ceremonious manners of the principal inhabitants, I 
found several most worthy and agreeable people amongst 
them. Some of the older families, who spend most of 
their time on their plantations or cattle estates, were as 
kind-hearted and simple in their ways as the Obydos 
townsfolk. But these are rarely in town, coming only for 

Chap. I. FESTIVALS. 7 

a few days during the festivals. They have, however, 
spacious town-houses, some of them two stories high, 
with massive walls of stone or adobe. The principal citi- 
zen, Senhor Miguel Pinto de Guimaraens, is a native of 
the place, and is an example of the readiness with which 
talent and industry meet with their reward under the 
wise government of Brazil. He began life in a very 
humble way ; I was told he was once a fisherman, and 
retailed the produce of his hook and line or nets in the 
port. He is now the chief merchant of the district ; 
a large cattle and landed proprietor ; and owner of a 
sugar estate and mills. When the new National Guard 
was formed in Brazil in 1853, he received from the 
Emperor the commission of colonel. He is a pale, grave, 
and white-haired, though only middle-aged, man. I 
saw a good deal of him, and liked his sincerity and 
the' uprightness of his dealings. When I arrived in 
Santarem he was the delegado of police. He is rather 
unmerciful both in and out of office towards the short- 
comings, in private and public morality, of his fellow- 
countrymen ; but he is very much respected. The 
nation cannot be a despicable one, whose best men are 
thus able to work themselves up to positions of trust 
and influence. 

The religious festivals were not so numerous here as 
in other towns, and such as did take place were very 
poor and ill attended. There is a handsome church, 
but the vicar showed remarkably little zeal for re- 
ligion, except for a few days now and then when 
the Bishop came from Para, on his rounds through 
the diocese. The people are as fond of holiday making 

8 SANTAREM. Chap. T. 

here as in other parts of the province ; but it seemed 
to be a growing fashion to substitute rational amuse- 
ments for the processions and mummeries of the saints' 
days. The young folks are very musical, the prin- 
cipal instruments in use being the flute, violin, Spanish 
guitar, and a small four-stringed viola, called cava- 
quinho. During the early part of my stay at San- 
tarem, a little party of instrumentalists, led by a tall, 
thin, ragged mulatto, who was quite an enthusiast in 
his art, used frequently to serenade their friends in the 
cool and brilliant moonlit evenings of the dry season, 
playing French and Italian marches and dance music 
with very good effect. The guitar was the favourite 
instrument with both sexes, as at Par^, ; the piano, how- 
ever, is now fast superseding it. The ballads sung to 
the accompaniment of the guitar were not learnt from 
written or printed music, but communicated orally from 
one friend to another. They were never spoken of as 
songs, but modinhas, or " little fashions," each of which 
had its day, giving way to the next favourite brought 
by some young fellow from the capital. At festival 
times there was a great deal of masquerading, in which 
all the people, old and young, white, negro, and Indian, 
took great delight. The best things of this kind used 
to come off during the Carnival, in Easter week, and 
on St. John's eve ; the negroes having a grand semi- 
dramatic display in the streets at Christmas time. The 
more select affairs were got up by the young whites, and 
coloured men associating with whites. A party of thirty 
or forty of these used to dress themselves in uniform 
style, and in very good taste, as cavaliers and dames, each 


disguised with a peculiar kind of light gauze mask. The 
troop, with a party of musicians, went the round of their 
friends' houses in the evening, and treated the large and 
gaily-dressed companies which were there assembled to 
a variety of dances. The principal citizens, in the large 
rooms of whose houses these entertainments were given, 
seemed quite to enjoy them ; great preparations were 
made at each place ; and, after the dance, guests and 
masqueraders were regaled with pale ale and sweet- 
meats. Once a year the Indians, with whom masked 
dances and acting are indigenous, had their turn, and on 
one occasion they gave us a great treat. They assembled 
from different parts of the neighbourhood at night, on 
the outskirts of the town, and then marched through the 
streets by torchlight towards the quarter inhabited by 
the whites, to perform their hunting and devil dances 
before the doors of the principal inhabitants. There 
were about a hundred men, women, and children in 
the procession. Many of the men w T ere dressed in the 
magnificent feather crowns, tunics, and belts, manufac- 
tured by the Mundurucus, and worn by them on festive 
occasions, but the women were naked to the waist, and 
the children quite naked, and all were painted and 
smeared red with anatto. The ringleader enacted the 
part of the Tushaua, or chief, and carried a sceptre, 
richly decorated with the orange, red, and green feathers 
of toucans and parrots. The paje or medicine-man came 
along, puffing at a long tauari cigar, the instrument by 
which he professes to make his wonderful cures. Others 
blew harsh jarring blasts with the ture, a horn made of 
long and thick bamboo, with a split reed in the mouth- 

10 SANTAREM. Chap. I. 

piece. This is the war trumpet of many tribes of 
Indians, with which the sentinels of predatory hordes, 
mounted on a lofty tree, give the signal for attack to 
their comrades. Those Brazilians who are old enough 
to remember the times of warfare between Indians and 
settlers, retain a great horror of the ture, its loud harsh 
note heard in the dead of the night having been often 
the prelude to an onslaught of bloodthirsty Miiras on 
the outlying settlements. The rest of the men in the 
procession carried bows and arrows, bunches of javelins, 
clubs, and paddles. The older children brought with 
them the household pets ; some had monkeys or coatis on 
their shoulders, and others bore tortoises on their heads. 
The squaws carried their babies in aturas, or large 
baskets, slung on their backs, and secured with a broad 
belt of bast over their foreheads. The whole thing was 
accurate in its representation of Indian life, and showed 
more ingenuity than some people give the Brazilian red 
man credit for. It was got up spontaneously by the 
Indians, and simply to amuse the people of the place. 

The entire produce in cacao, salt fish, and other articles 
of a very large district, passes through the hands of the 
Santarem merchants, and a large trade, for this country, 
is done with the Indians on the Tapajos in salsaparilla, 
balsam of copauba, India-rubber, farinha, and other pro- 
ductions. I was told the average annual yield of the 
Tapajos in salsaparilla, was about 2000 arrobas (of 32 lbs. 
each). The quality of the drug found in the forests of 
the Tapajos, is much superior to that of the Upper 
Amazons, and always fetches double the price at Para- 
The merchants send out young Brazilians and Portuguese 

Chap. I. EDUCATION. 11 

in small canoes to trade on the rivers and collect the 
produce, and the cargoes are shipped to the capital in 
large cubertas and schooners, of from twenty to eighty 
tons burthen. The risk and profits must be great, or 
capital scarce, for the rate of interest on lent money or 
ovefdue accounts is two-and-a-half to three per cent, per 
month ; this is the same, however, as that which rules at 
Para, The shops are numerous, and well-stocked with 
English, French, German, and North American wares ; 
the retail prices of which are veiy little above those of 
the capital. There is much competition amongst the 
traders and shopkeepers, yet they all seem to thrive, if 
one may judge from external appearances; but it is 
said, that most of them are over head and ears in debt 
to rich Portuguese merchants of Para, who act as their 

The people seem to be thoroughly alive to the advan- 
tages of education for their children. Besides the usual 
primary schools, one for girls, and another for boys, 
there is a third of a higher class, where Latin and 
French, amongst other accomplishments, are taught by 
professors, who, like the oommon schoolmasters, are paid 
by the provincial government. This is used as a pre- 
paratory school to the Lyceum and Bishop's seminary, 
well-endowed institutions at Para, whither it is the 
ambition of traders and planters to send their sons to 
finish their studies. The rudiments of education only 
are taught in the primary schools, and it is surprising 
how quickly and well the little lads, both coloured and 
white, learn reading, writing, and arithmetic. But the 
simplicity of the Portuguese language, which is written 

12 SANTAEEM. Chap. I. 

as it is pronounced, or according to unvarying rules, 
and the use of the decimal system of accounts, make 
these acquirements much easier than they are with us. 
Students in the superior school have to pass an exami- 
nation before they can be admitted at the colleges in 
Para, and the managers once did me the honour to 
make me one of the examiners for the year. The per- 
formances of the youths, most of whom were under 
fourteen years of age, were very creditable, especially 
in grammar; there was a quickness of apprehension 
displayed which would have gladdened the heart of a 
northern schoolmaster. The course of study followed 
at the colleges of Para must be very deficient ; for it 
is rare to meet with an educated Paraense who has the 
slightest knowledge of the physical sciences, or even of 
geography, if he has not travelled out of the ]3rovince. 
The young men all become smart rhetoricians and 
lawyers ; any of them is ready to plead in a law case 
at an hour's notice ; they are also great at statistics, 
for the gratification of which taste there is ample field 
in Brazil, where every public officer has to furnish 
volumes of dry reports annually to the government ; 
but they are wofully ignorant on most other subjects. 
I do not recollect seeing a map of any kind at San- 
tarem. The quick-witted people have a suspicion of 
their deficiencies in this respect, and it is difficult to 
draw them out on geography ; but one day a man 
holding an important office betrayed himself by asking 
me, "on what side of the river was Paris situated?" 
This question did not arise, as might be supposed, 
from a desire for accurate topographical knowledge of 

Chap. I. CLIMATE. 13 

the Seine, but from the idea, that all the world was a 
great river, and that the different places he had heard 
of must lie on one shore or the other. The fact of the 
Amazons being a limited stream, having its origin in 
narrow rivulets, its beginning and its ending, has never 
entered the heads of most of the people who have 
passed their whole lives on its banks. 

Santarem is a pleasant place to live in, irrespective of 
its society. There are no insect pests, mosquito, pium, 
sand-fly, or motuca. The climate is glorious ; during six 
moDths of the year, from August to February, very little 
rain falls, and the sky is cloudless for weeks together, 
the fresh breezes from the sea, nearly 400 miles distant, 
moderating the great heat of the sun. The wind is 
sometimes so strong for days together, that it is diffi- 
cult to make way against it in walking along the 
streets, and it enters the open windows and doors of 
houses, scattering loose clothing and papers in all direc- 
tions. The place is considered healthy ; but at the 
changes of season, severe colds and ophthalmia are 
prevalent. I found three Englishmen living here, who 
had resided many years in the town or its neighbour- 
hood, and who still retained their florid complexions ; 
the plump and fresh appearance of many of the middle- 
aged Santarem ladies, also bore testimony to the health- 
fulness of the climate. The streets are always clean 
and dry, even in the height of the wet season ; good 
order is always kept, and the place pretty well supplied 
with provisions. None but those who have suffered 
from the difficulty of obtaining the necessaries of life at 
any price in most of the interior settlements of South 


America, can appreciate the advantages of Santarem in 
this respect. Everything, however, except meat, was 
dear, and becoming every year more so. Sugar, coffee, 
and rice, which ought to be produced in surplus in the 
neighbourhood, are imported from other provinces, and 
are high in price ; sugar indeed, is a little dearer here 
than in England. There were two or three butchers' 
shops, where excellent beef could he had daily at two- 
pence or twopence-halfpenny per pound. The cattle have 
not to be brought from a long distance as at Para, being 
bred on the campos, which border the Lago Grande, only 
one or two days' journey from the town. , Fresh fish 
could be bought in the port on most evenings, but, as 
the supply did not equal the demand, there was always 
a race amongst purchasers to the water-side when the 
canoe of a fisherman hove in sight. Very good bread 
was hawked around the town every morning, with milk, 
and a great variety of fruits and vegetables. Amongst 
the fruits, there was a kind called atta, which I did not 
see in any other part of the country. It belongs to the 
Anonaceous order, and the tree which produces it grows 
apparently wild in the neighbourhood of Santarem. It 
is a little larger than a good-sized orange, and the rind, 
which encloses a mass of rich custardy pulp, is scaled 
like the pine-apple, but green when ripe, and encrusted 
on the inside with sugar. To finish this account of the 
advantages of Santarem, the delicious bathing in the 
clear waters of the Tapajos may be mentioned. There 
is here no fear of alligators ; when the east wind blows, 
a long swell rolls in on the clean sandy beach, and the 
bath is most exhilarating. 

Chap. I. LEPROSY. 15 

There is one great drawback to the merits of San- 
tarem. This is the prevalence here of the terrible lep- 
rosy. It seems, however, confined to certain families, and 
I did not hear of a well-authenticated case of a Euro- 
pean being attacked by it. I once visited many of the 
lepers in company of an American physician. They do 
not live apart ; family ties are so strong, that all at- 
tempts to induce people to separate from their leprous 
relatives have failed ; but many believe that the malady 
is not contagious. The disease commences with glan- 
dular swellings in different parts of the body, which are 
succeeded by livid patches on the skin, and at the tips 
of the fingers and toes. These spread, and the parts 
embraced by them lose their sensibility, and decay. 
In course of time, as the frightful atrophy extends to 
the internal organs, some vital part is affected, and the 
sufferer dies. Some of the best families in the place 
are tainted with leprosy ; but it falls on all races alike ; 
white, Indian, and negro. I saw some patients who 
had been ill of it for ten and a dozen years ; they were 
hideously disfigured, but bore up cheerfully ; in fact, 
a hopeful spirit, and free, generous living had been the 
means of retarding in them the progress of the dis- 
order ; none were ever known to be cured of it. One 
man tried a voyage to Europe, and was healed whilst 
there, but the malady broke out again on his return. 
I do not know whether the dry and hot soil of San- 
tarem has anything to do with the prevalence of this 
disease ; it is not confined to this place, many cases 
having occurred at Para, and in other provinces, but 
it is nowhere so rife as here ; the evil fame of the 

16 SANTAREM. Chap. 1. 

settlement indeed has spread to Portugal, where Santa- 
rem is known as the " Cidade dos Lazaros," or City of 

When the Portuguese first ascended the Amazons 
towards the middle of the 17th century, they found the 
banks of the Tapajos in the neighbourhood of Santarem, 
peopled by a warlike tribe of Indians, called the 
Tapajocos. From these, the river and the settlement 
(Santarem in the Indian language is called Tapajos), 
derive their name. The Tapajos, however, amongst the 
Brazilian settlers in this part, is most generally known 
by the Portuguese name of Rio Preto, or the Black 
River. According to Acunna, the historian of the 
Teixeira expedition (in 1637-9), the Tapajocos were 
very numerous, one village alone having contained more 
than 500 families. Their weapons were poisoned darts. 
Notwithstanding their numbers and courage, they 
quickly gave way before the encroaching Portuguese 
settlers, who are said to have treated them with great 
barbarity. The name of the tribe is no longer known 
in the neighbourhood, but it is probable their descend- 
ants still linger on the banks of the Lower Tapajos, a 
traditional hatred towards the Portuguese having been 
preserved amongst the semi-civilised inhabitants to the 
present day. The fact of the Urari poison having been 
in use amongst the Tapajocos is curious, inasmuch as it 
shows there was at that time communication between 
distant tribes along the course of the main Amazons. 
The Indians now living on the banks of the Tapajos 
are ignorant of the Urari, the drug being prepared only 

Chap. I. REBELLION". 17 

by tribes which live on the rivers flowing into the 
Upper Amazons from the north, 1200 miles distant 
from the Tapajos. 

The city of Santarem suffered greatly during the dis- 
orders of 1835-6. According to the accounts I received, 
it must have been just before that time a much more 
flourishing place than it is now. There were many 
more large proprietors, rich in slaves and cattle; the 
produce of cacao was greater ; and a much larger trade 
was done with the miners of Matto Grosso, who de- 
scended the Tapajos with their gold and diamonds, to 
exchange for salt, hardware, and other heavy European 
goods. An old Scotch gentleman, Captain Hislop, who 
had lived here for about thirty-five years, told me that 
Santarem was then a most delightful place to live in. 
Provisions were abundant and cheap ; labour was easily 
obtained ; and the greatest order, friendliness, and con- 
tentment prevailed. The political squabble amongst 
the whites, which began the troubles, ended, in this 
part of the country, in a revolt of the Indians. At the 
beginning of the disorders two parties were formed, one 
tolerant of the "Bicudos" (long-snouts), as the Portu- 
guese were nicknamed, and supporters of the legal 
Brazilian Government ; the other in favour of revo- 
lution, expulsion of the Portuguese, and native rule. 
The latter co-operated with a large body of rebels who 
had collected at a place on the banks of the river, 
not far distant ; and on a certain day, according to 
agreement, the town was invaded by the horde of 
scoundrels and mistaken patriots. All the Portuguese 
and those who befriended them, that these infuriated 

VOL. II. c 

18 SAXTAREM. Chap. I. 

people could lay their hands on, were brutally massacred. 
A space filled with mounds, amongst the myrtle bushes 
in the woods behind Santarem, now marks the spot where 
these poor fellows were confusedly buried. I could give 
a long account of the horrors of this time as they were 
related to me ; but I think the details would not serve 
any useful purpose. It must not be thought, however, 
that the Amazonian people are habitually a blood-thirsty 
race ; on the contrary, the peaceableness and gentleness 
of character of the inhabitants of this province, in quiet 
times, are proverbial throughout Brazil. The rarity or 
absence of deeds of violence from year to year is always 
commented upon by the President in his annual report 
to the Central Government. 

When the Cabanas or rebels entered the town, the 
friends of lawful government retired to a large block of 
buildings near the water-side, which they held for many 
days, to cover the embarcation of their families and 
moveables. The negro slaves generally remained faithful 
to their masters. Whilst the embarcation was going on 
many daring feats were performed, chiefly by coloured 
people : one brave fellow, a mameluco, named Paca, 
made a bold dash one day, with a few young men of the 
same stamp, and secured five or six of the rebel leaders, 
who were carried, gagged and handcuffed, on board a 
schooner in the port. But the legal party were greatly 
outnumbered and deficient in arms and ammunition, 
and they were obliged, soon after Pacas feat, entirely 
to evacuate the town ; retiring to the village of Pra- 
yinha, about 150 miles down the river. Those citizens 
of Santarem who sympathised with the rebels were 


obliged to follow soon after, as the revolt took the shape 
of a war between Indians and whites. The red skins, 
however, made an exception in favour of the few English 
and French residents. Captain Hislop remained in the 
town during its occupation by the Cabanas, and told me 
that he was treated very well by the Indians and rebel 

After Santarem was recaptured, about nine months 
subsequent to these events, by a small sea and land force 
sent from Rio Janeiro, aided by the townspeople who 
were picked up at Prayinha, it was again attacked by a 
large force of Indians. This affair showed the blind 
fearlessness and obstinacy of the Indian character in a 
striking manner. An attack was expected, as the rebels 
were known to be concealed in great numbers in the 
neighbouring woods ; so the Commandante of the gar- 
rison (Captain Lead) had the whites' quarter strongly 
stockaded, and every man slept under arms. The 
Indians acted as though inspired by a diabolical fana- 
ticism ; they had no arms, except wooden spears, clubs, 
and bows and arrows ; for their powder and lead had 
been exhausted long before. With these rude weapons 
they came through forest and campo to the storming of 
the now fortified town. The attack was made at sun- 
rise ; the sentinels were killed or driven in, and the 
swarms of red skins climbed the stockade and thronged 
down the principal street. They were soon met by a 
strong and well-armed force, well posted in houses or 
behind walls, and the reckless savages were shot down 
by hundreds. It was not until the street was encum- 
bered by the heaps of slain that the rest turned their 

c 2 

20 SANTAREM. Chap. I. 

backs and fled. Their numbers were estimated at 
2000 men ; the remnant of the force escaped across the 
campos to the village of Altar do Chao, twenty miles 
distant, whence they scattered themselves along the 
shores of the Tapajos, and gave great trouble to the 
Brazilians for many years afterwards. Several expedi- 
tions were sent from Santarem to reduce them, a task 
in which the Government was aided by the friendly 
Mundurucus of the Upper Tapajos, a large body of 
whom, under the leadership of their Tushaua Joaquim, 
made war on the hostile Indians on the lower parts 
both of the Madeira and the Tapajos, until they were 
nearly exterminated. 

The country around Santarem is not clothed with 
dense and lofty forest, like the rest of the great humid 
river plain of the Amazons. It is a campo region ; a 
slightly elevated and undulating tract of land, wooded 
only in patches, or with single scattered trees. A good 
deal of the country on the borders of the Tapajos, which 
flows from the great campo area of Interior Brazil, is of 
this description. On this account I consider the eastern 
side of the river, towards its mouth, to be a northern 
prolongation of the continental land, and not a portion 
of the alluvial flats of the Amazons. The soil is a 
coarse gritty sand ; the substratum, which is visible in 
some places, consisting of sandstone conglomerate pro- 
bably of the same formation as that which underlies 
the Tabatinga clay in other parts of the river valley. 
The surface is carpeted with slender hairy grasses, unfit 
for jmsture, growing to a uniform height of about a 

Chap. I. CAMPOS. 21 

foot. The patches of wood look like copses in the 
middle of green meadows ; they are called by the 
natives " ilhas de mato," or islands of jungle ; the name 
being, no doubt, suggested by their compactness of 
outline, neatly demarcated in insular form from the 
smooth carpet of grass around them. They are com- 
posed of a great variety of trees, loaded with succulent 
parasites, and lashed together by woody climbers, like 
the forest in other parts. A narrow belt of dense wood, 
similar in character to these ilhas, and like them 
sharply limited along its borders, runs everywhere 
parallel and close to the river. In crossing the campo, 
the path from the town ascends a little for a mile or 
two, passing through this marginal strip of wood ; the 
grassy land then slopes gradually to a broad valley, 
watered by rivulets, whose banks are clothed with lofty 
and luxuriant forest. Beyond this, a range of hills ex- 
tends as far as the eye can reach towards the yet un- 
trodden interior. Some of these hills are long ridges, 
wooded or bare ; others are isolated conical peaks, rising 
abruptly from the valley. The highest are probably not 
more than a thousand feet above the level of the river. 
One remarkable hill, the Serra de Muruaru, about fifteen 
miles from Santarem, which terminates the prospect to 
the south, is of the same truncated pyramidal form as 
the range of hills near Almeyrim. Complete solitude 
reigns over the whole of this stretch of beautiful country. 
The inhabitants of Santarem know nothing of the in- 
terior, and seem to feel little curiosity concerning it, 
A few tracks from the town across the campo lead to 
some small clearings four or five miles off, belonging 

22 SANTAKEM. Chap. I. 

to the poorer inhabitants of the place ; but, excepting 
these, there are no roads, or signs of the proximity of 
a civilised settlement. 

The sandy soil and scanty clothing of trees are pro- 
bably the causes of the great dryness of the climate. 
In some years no rain falls from August to February ; 
whilst in other parts of the Amazons plains, both above 
and below this middle part of the river, heavy showers 
are frequent throughout the dry season. I have often 
watched the rain-clouds in November and December, 
when the shrubby vegetation is parched up by the 
glowing sun of the preceding three months, rise as 
they approached the hot air over the campos, or diverge 
from it to discharge their contents on the low forest- 
clad islands of the opposite shore. The trade-wind, 
however, blows with great force during the dry months ; 
the hotter the weather the stronger is the breeze, until 
towards the end of the season it amounts to a gale, 
stopping the progress of downward-bound vessels. 

Some of the trees which grow singly on the campos 
are very curious. The caju is very abundant ; indeed, 
some parts of the district might be called orchards of 
this tree, which seems to prefer sandy or gravelly soils. 
There appear to be several distinct species of it growing 
in company, to judge by the differences in the colour, 
flavour, and size of the fruit. This, when ripe, has 
the colour and figure of a codlin apple, but it has a 
singular appearance owing to the large kidney-shaped 
kernel growing outside the pulpy portion of the fruit. 
It ripens in January, and the poorer classes of Santarem 
then resort to the campos and gather immense quan- 


tities, to make a drink or " wine " as it is called, 
which is considered a remedy in certain cutaneous 
disorders. The kernels are roasted and eaten. Another 
wild fruit-tree is the Murishi (Byrsomina), which yields 
an abundance of small yellow acid berries. A decoction 
of its bark dyes cloth a maroon colour. It is employed 
for this purpose chiefly by the Indians, and coarse 
cotton shirts tinted with it were the distinctive badges 
of the native party during the revolution. A very 
common tree in the Ilhas do Mato is the Breio branco, 
which secretes from the inner bark a white resin, 
resembling camphor in smell and appearance. The 
fruit is a small black berry, and the whole tree, fruit, 
leaf, and stem, has the same aromatic fragrance. 
By loosening the bark and allowing the resin to flow 
freely, I collected a large quantity, and found it of great 
service in preserving my insect collections from the 
attacks of ants and mites. Another tree, much rarer 
than the Breio branco, namely the Umiri (Humirium 
floribundum), growing in the same localities, distils in 
a similar way an oil of the most recherche fragrance. 
The yield, however, is very small. The native women 
esteem it highly as a scent. To obtain a supply of the 
precious liquid, large strips of bark are loosened and 
pieces of cotton left in soak underneath. By visiting 
the tree daily, and pressing the oil from the cotton, 
a small phial containing about an ounce may be filled 
in the course of a month. One of the most singular 
of the vegetable productions of the campos is the 
Sucu-uba tree (Plumieria phagedaenica). It grows in 
the greatest luxuriance in the driest parts, and with its 

24 SANTAREM. Chap. I. 

long, glossy, dark-green leaves, fresh and succulent 
even in the most arid seasons, and white jasmine-like 
flowers, forms the greatest decoration of these solitary 
places. The bark, leaves, and leaf-stalks, yield a co- 
pious supply of milky sap, which the natives use very 
generally as plaister in local inflammations, laying the 
liquid on the skin with a brush, and covering the place 
with cotton. I have known it to work a cure in many 
cases ; but, perhaps, the good effect is attributable to 
the animal heat drawn to the place by the pad of 
cotton. The milk flows most freely after the occa- 
sional heavy rains in the intervals between the dry 
and wet seasons ; it then spurts out with great force 
from any part of the tree if hacked with a knife in 

The appearance of the campos changes very much 
according to the season. There is not that grand uni- 
formity of aspect throughout the year which is observed 
in the virgin forest, and which makes a deeper im- 
pression on the naturalist the longer he remains in 
this country. The seasons in this part of the Amazons 
region are sharply contrasted, but the difference is not 
so great as in some tropical countries, where, during the 
dry monsoon, insects and reptiles asstivate, and the trees 
simultaneously shed their leaves. As the dry season 
advances (August, September), the grass on the campos 
withers, and the shrubby vegetation near the town 
becomes a mass of parched yellow stubble. The period, 
however, is not one of general torpidity or repose for 
animal or vegetable life. Birds certainly are not so 
numerous as in the wet season, but some kinds remain 

Chap. I. STORMS. 25 

and lay their eggs at this time — for instance, the ground 
doves (Charnaepelia) . The trees retain their verdure 
throughout, and many of them flower in the dry months. 
Lizards do not become torpid, and insects are seen 
both in the larva and the perfect states, showing that 
the aridity of the climate has not a general influence on 
the development of the species. Some kinds of but- 
terflies, especially the little hair-streaks (Theclae), whose 
larvae feed on the trees, make their appearance only 
when the dry season is at its height. The land mol- 
luscs of the district, are the only animals which acti- 
vate ; they are found in clusters, Bulimi and Helices, 
concealed in hollow trees, the mouths of their shells 
closed by a film of mucus. The fine weather breaks 
up often with great suddenness about the begin- 
ning of February. Violent squalls from the west or 
the opposite direction to the trade-wind then occur. 
They give very little warning, and the first generally 
catches the people unprepared. They fall in the night, 
and blowing directly into the harbour, with the first 
gust sweep all vessels from their anchorage ; in a few 
minutes, a mass of canoes, large and small, including 
schooners of fifty tons burthen, are clashing together, 
pell mell, on the beach. I have reason to remember 
these storms, for I was once caught in one myself, whilst 
crossing the river in an undecked boat, about a day's 
journey from Santarem. They are accompanied with 
terrific electric explosions, the sharp claps of thunder 
falling almost simultaneously with the blinding flashes 
of lightning. Torrents of rain follow the first outbreak ; 
the wind then gradually abates, and the rain subsides 

•26 SANTAREM. Chap. I. 

into a steady drizzle, which continues often for the 
greater part of the succeeding day. After a week or two 
of showery weather the aspect of the country is com- 
pletely changed. The parched ground in the neigh- 
bourhood of Santarem breaks out, so to speak, in a rash 
of greenery ; the dusty, languishing trees gain, without 
having shed their old leaves, a new clothing of tender 
green foliage ; a wonderful variety of quick -growing 
leguminous plants springs up, and leafy creepers over- 
run the ground, the bushes, and the trunks of trees. 
One is reminded of the sudden advent of spring after a 
few warm showers in northern climates ; I was the more 
struck by it as nothing similar is witnessed in the 
virgin forests amongst which I had passed the four 
3 r ears previous to my stay in this part. The grass on 
the campos is renewed, and many of the campo trees, 
especially the myrtles, which grow abundantly in one 
portion of the district, begin to flower, attracting by the 
fragrance of their blossoms a great number and variety 
of insects, more particularly Coleoptera. Many kinds of 
birds ; parrots, toucans, and barbets, which live habitually 
in the forest, then visit the open places. A few weeks of 
comparatively dry weather generally intervene in March, 
after a month or two of rain. The heaviest rains fall 
in April, May, and June ; they come in a succession of 
showers, with sunny gleamy weather in the intervals. 
June and July are the months when the leafy luxuriance 
of the campos, and the activity of life, are at their highest. 
Most birds have then completed their moulting, which 
extends over the period from February to May. The 
flowering shrubs are then mostly in bloom, and number- 

Chap. I. MAPIRI. 27 

less kinds of Dipterous and Hymenopterous insects 
appear simultaneously with the flowers. This season 
might be considered the equivalent of summer in 
temperate climates, as the bursting forth of the foliage 
in February represents the spring ; but under the 
equator there is not that simultaneous march in the 
annual life of animals and plants, which we see in high 
latitudes ; some species, it is true, are dependent upon 
others in their periodical acts of life, and go hand-in- 
hand with them, but they are not all simultaneously 
and similarly affected by the physical changes of the 

I will now give an account of some of my favourite 
collecting places in the neighbourhood of Santarem, 
incorporating with the description a few of the more 
interesting observations made on the Natural History 
of the localities. To the west of the town there was a 
pleasant path along the beach to a little bay, called 
Mapiri, about five miles within the mouth of the Tapajos. 
The road was practicable only in the dry season. The 
river at Santarem rises on the average about thirty feet, 
varying in different years about ten feet ; so that in the 
four months, from April to July, the water comes up to 
the edge of the marginal belt of wood already spoken of. 
This Mapiri excursion was most pleasant and profitable 
in the months from January to March, before the rains 
become too continuous. The sandy beach beyond the 
town is very irregular ; in some places forming long 
spits on which, when the east wind is blowing, the 
waves break in a line of foam ; at others receding to 

28 SANTAREM. Chap. I. 

shape out quiet little bays and pools. On the outskirts 
of the town a few scattered huts of Indians and coloured 
people are passed, prettily situated on the margin of the 
white beach, with a background of glorious foliage ; the 
cabin of the pure-blood Indian being distinguished from 
the mud hovels of the free negroes and mulattoes by its 
light construction, half of it being an open shed where 
the dusky tenants are seen at all hours of the day 
lounging in their open-meshed grass hammocks. About 
two miles on the road we come to a series of shallow 
pools, called the Laguinhos, which are connected with 
the river in the wet season, but separated from it by a 
high bank of sand topped with bushes at other times. 
There is a break here in the fringe of wood, and a 
glimpse is obtained of the grassy campo. When the 
waters have risen to the level of the pools this place is 
frequented by many kinds of wading birds. Snow-white 
egrets of two species stand about the margins of the 
water, and dusky-striped herons may be seen half hidden 
under the shade of the bushes. The pools are covered 
with a small kind of water-lily, and surrounded by a 
dense thicket. Amongst the birds which inhabit this 
spot is the rosy-breasted Troupial (Trupialis Guianensis), 
a bird resembling our starling in size and habits, and 
not unlike it in colour, with the exception of the rich 
rosy vest. The water at this time of the year overflows 
a large level tract of campo bordering the pools, and 
the Troupials come to feed on the larvae of insects 
which then abound in the moist soil. 

Beyond the Laguinhos there succeeds a tract of level 
beach covered with trees which form a beautiful grove. 


About the month of April, when the water rises to this 
level, the trees are covered with blossom, and a hand- 
some orchid, an Epidendron with large white flowers, 
which clothes thickly the trunks, is profusely in bloom. 
Several kinds of kingfisher resort to the place : four 
species may be seen within a small space : the largest 
as big as a crow, of a mottled-grey hue, and with an 
enormous beak ; the smallest not larger than a sparrow. 
The large one makes its nest in clay cliffs, three or four 
miles distant from this place. None of the kingfishers 
are so brilliant in colour as our English species. The 
blossoms on the trees attract two or three species of 
humming-birds, the most conspicuous of which is a 
large swallow-tailed kind (Eupetomena macro ura), with 
a brilliant livery of emerald green and steel blue. I 
noticed that it did not remain so long poised in the air 
before the flowers as the other smaller species ; it 
perched more frequently, and sometimes darted after 
small insects on the wing. Emerging from the grove 
there is a long stretch of sandy beach ; the land is high 
and rocky, and the belt of wood which skirts the river 
banks is much broader than it is elsewhere. At length, 
after rounding a projecting bluff, the bay of Mapiri is 
reached. The river view is characteristic of the Tapajos: 
the shores are wooded, and on the opposite side is a line 
of clay cliffs, with hills in the background clothed with 
rolling forest. A long spit of sand extends into mid- 
river, beyond which is an immense expanse of dark water, 
the further shore of the Tapajos being barely visible as 
a thin grey line of trees on the horizon. The trans- 
parency of air and water in the dry season when the 

30 SANTAREM. Chap. I. 

brisk east wind is blowing, and the sharpness of outline 
of hills, woods, and sandy beaches, give a great charm 
to this spot. 

The little pools along the beach were tenanted by 
several species of fresh-water mollusks. The most 
abundant was a long turret-shaped Melania, which 
swarmed in them in the same way as Limnsese do in 
ponds at home. I found no Linmsea, nor indeed any 
European genus of fresh-water mollusk, in the Amazons 
region. After the first storms of February the coast is 
strewn with large apple-shells (Ampullaria). They are 
not inhabitants of the pools on this side of the river, 
but are involuntary visitors, being driven across by the 
wind and waves with masses of marsh plants from the 
low land of the opposite shore. A great many are dead 
shells, and more or less worn. In showery weather I 
seldom came this way without seeing one or more water 
snakes of the genus Helicops. They were generally con- 
cealed under the heaps of thick aquatic grasses cast 
ashore by storms ; and when exposed, always made off 
straight for the water. They glided along with such 
agility that I rarely succeeded in capturing one, and on 
reaching the river they sought at once the bottom in 
the deepest parts. I believe these snakes are swept 
from the marshy land of the western shore with the 
patches of grass and the AmpullariaB just mentioned. 
Other reptiles and a great number of insects are blown 
or floated over in the same way by the violent squalls 
which occur in January or February. None of the 
species take root on the Santarem side of the river. 
Sometimes myriads of Coleopterous insects, belonging to 


about half a dozen kinds, are blown across, and become 
perfect pests to the town's people for two or three nights. 
swarming about the lights in every chamber. They 
get under one's clothing, or down one's back, and pass 
from the oil-lamp on to the furniture, books, and papers, 
smearing everything they touch. The open shops facing 
the beach become filled with them, and customers have 
to make a dash in and out through the showers that 
fall about the large brass lamps over the counter, when 
they want to make a purchase. The species are cer- 
tainly not indigenous to the eastern side of the river ; 
the hosts soon disappear ; those which cannot get back 
must perish helplessly, for the soil, vegetation, and 
climate of the Santarem side are ill suited to the 
inhabitants of the opposite shore. 

The pools I have mentioned were tenanted by a 
considerable variety of insects. * I found also a very 
large number, chiefly of carnivorous land-beetles under 
the pebbles and rejectamenta along the edge of the 
water during my many rambles. I was much struck 
with the similarity of the Dragon-flies (whose early 
states are passed in the water) to those of Britain. A 
species of Libellula with pointed tail, which darted 
about over the bushes near the ponds, is very closely 

* The water-beetles found in the pools belonged to seventeen genera, 
thirteen of which are European . Those European genera which form the 
greater part of the pond population in Coleoptera in northern latitudes, 
are quite absent iu the Amazons region : these are, Haliplus, Cnemi- 
dotus, Pelobius, Noterus, Ilybius, Agabus, Colymbetes, Dyticus, and 
Acilius : Hydropori, also, are very rare. The most common species 
belong to the genera Hydracanthus, Copelatus, Cybister, Tropisternus, 
and Berosus, three of which are unknown in Europe. 

32 SANTAREM. Chap. I. 

allied to our English L. quadrimaculata. But the 
resemblance was greater in the small, slender-bodied 
and slow-flying species, the Agrions, which every lover 
of rural walks must have noticed in England by river 
sides. There was one pretty kind with a pale blue ring 
at the tip of the body which resembled to a remark- 
able degree a common British species. Although very 
near akin, neither this nor any of the other kinds, were 
perfectly identical with European ones. The strikingly 
peculiar dragon-flies from Tropical America which are 
seen in our collections are denizens of the forest, being 
bred in the shady brooks and creeks in their recesses, 
and not in the weedy ponds of open places. Some of 
these forest species are strange creatures with slender 
bodies measuring seven inches in length ; their elegant 
lace-work wings tipped with white or yellow. They fly 
slowly amongst the trees, preying on small Diptera, 
and in their flight look like animated spindles ; the 
wings, placed at the fore extremity of the long, horizon- 
tally-extended body, moving rapidly and creating the 
impression of rotary motion. 

Whilst resting in the shade during the great heat of 
the early hours of afternoon, I used to find amuse- 
ment in watching the proceedings of the sand-wasps. 
A small pale green kind of Bembex (Bembex ciliata), 
was plentiful near the bay of Mapiri. When they are 
at work, a number of little jets of sand are seen shooting 
over the surface of the sloping bank. The little miners 
excavate with their fore feet, which are strongly built 
and furnished with a fringe of stiff bristles ; they work 
with wonderful rapidity, and the sand thrown out be- 


neath their bodies issues in continuous streams. They 
are solitary wasps, each female working on her own 
account. After making a gallery two or three inches 
in length in a slanting direction from the surface, the 
owner backs out and takes a few turns round the orifice 
a}3parently to see whether it is well made, but in 
reality, I believe, to take note of the locality, that she 
may find it again. This done, the busy workwoman flies 
away ; but returns, after an absence varying in different 
cases from a few minutes to an hour or more, with a 
fly in her grasp, with which she re-enters her mine. 
On again emerging, the entrance is carefully closed with 
sand. During this interval she has laid an egg on the 
body of the fly which she had previously benumbed 
with her sting, and which is to serve as food for the 
soft, footless grub soon to be hatched from the egg. 
From what I could make out, the Bembex makes a 
fresh excavation for every egg to be deposited ; at least 
in two or three of the galleries which I opened there 
was only one fly enclosed. 

I have said that the Bembex on leaving her mine 
took note of the locality : this seemed to be the expla- 
nation of the short delay previous to her taking flight ; 
on rising in the air also the insects generally flew round 
over the place before making straight off. Another 
nearly allied but much larger species, the Monedula 
signata, whose habits I observed on the banks of the 
Upper Amazons, sometimes excavates its mine solitarily 
on sand-banks recently laid bare in the middle of the 
river, and closes the orifice before going in search of 
prey. In these cases the insect has to make a journey 

VOL. II. d 

34 SANTAREM. Chap. I. 

of at least half a mile to procure the kind of fly, the 
Mottica (Hadaiis lepidotus), with which it provisions its 
cell. I often noticed it to take a few turns in the air 
round the place before starting ; on its return it made 
without hesitation straight for the closed mouth of the 
mine. I was convinced that the insects noted the bear- 
ings of their nests and the direction they took in flying 
from them. The proceeding in this and similar cases (I 
have read of something analogous having been noticed in 
hive bees) seems to be a mental act of the same nature 
as that which takes place in ourselves when recognising 
a locality. The senses, however, must be immeasur- 
ably more keen and the mental operation much more 
certain in them than it is in man ; for to my eye there 
was absolutely no land-mark on the even surface of 
sand which could serve as guide, and the borders of the 
forest were not nearer than half a mile.- The action 
of the wasp would be said to be instinctive ; but it 
seems plain that the instinct is no mysterious and unin- 
telligible agent, but a mental process in each individual, 
differing from the same in man only by its unerring 
certainty. The mind of the insect appears to be so con- 
stituted that the impression of external objects or the 
want felt, causes it to act with a precision which seems 
to us like that of a machine constructed to move in a 
certain given way. I have noticed in Indian boys a 
sense of locality almost as keen as that possessed by 
the sand-wasp. An old Portuguese and myself, accom- 
panied by a young lad about ten years of age, were 
once lost in the forest in a most solitary place on the 
banks of the main river. Our case seemed hopeless, 


and it did not, for some time occur to us to consult our 
little companion, who had been playing with his bow 
and arrow all the way whilst we were hunting, ap- 
parently taking no note of the route. When asked, 
however, he pointed out, in a moment, the right direc- 
tion of our canoe. He could not explain how he knew ; 
I believe he had noted the course we had taken almost 
unconsciously : the sense of locality in his case seemed 

The Monedula signata is a good friend to travellers 
in those parts of the Amazons which are infested with 
the blood-thirsty Motuca. I first noticed its habit of 
preying on this fly one day when we landed to make 
our fire and dine on the borders of the forest adjoining 
a sand-bank. The insect is as large as a hornet, and has 
a most waspish appearance. I was rather startled when 
one out of the flock which was hovering about us flew 
straight at my face : it had espied a Motuca on my neck 
and was thus pouncing upon it. It seizes the fly not 
with its mandibles but with its fore and middle feet, and 
carries it off tightly held to its breast. Wherever the 
traveller lands on the Upper Amazons in the neigh- 
bourhood of a sand-bank he is sure to be attended by 
one or more of these useful vermin-killers. 

The bay of Mapiri was the limit of my day excur- 
sions by the river-side to the west of Santarem. A 
person may travel, however, on foot, as Indians fre- 
quently do, in the dry season for fifty or sixty miles 
along the broad clean sandy beaches of the Tapajos. 
The only obstacles are the rivulets, most of which are 

D 2 

36 SANTAREM. Chap. I. 

fordable when the waters are low. To the east my 
rambles extended to the banks of the Mahica inlet. 
This enters the Amazons aJbout three miles below San- 
tar em, where the clear stream of the Tapajos begins to 
be discoloured by the turbid waters of the main river. 
The broad, placid channel of the Mahica separates the 
Tapajos mainland from the alluvial low lands of the 
great river plain. It communicates in the interior with 
other inlets, and the whole forms a system of inland 
water-paths navigable by small vessels from Santarem 
to the river Curua, forty miles distant. The Mahica 
has a broad margin of rich, level pasture, limited on 
each side by the straight, tall hedge of forest. On 
the Santarem side it is skirted by high wooded ridges. 
A landscape of this description always produced in me 
an impression of sadness and loneliness which the riant 
virgin forests that closely hedge in most of the by- 
waters of the Amazons never created. The pastures 
are destitute of flowers, and also of animal life, with 
the exception of a few small plain-coloured birds and 
solitary Caracara eagles whining from the topmost 
branches of dead trees on the forest borders. A few 
settlers have built their palm-thatched and mud-walled 
huts on the banks of the Mahica, and occupy them- 
selves chiefly in tending small herds of cattle. They 
seemed to be all wretchedly poor. The oxen however, 
though small, were sleek and fat, and the district most 
promising for agricultural and pastoral employments. 
In the wet season the waters gradually rise and cover 
the meadows, but there is plenty of room for the 
removal of the cattle to higher ground. The lazy and 

Chap. I. A GRAZIER. 37 

ignorant people seem totally unable to profit by these 
advantages. The houses have no gardens or planta- 
tions near them. I was told it was useless to plant 
anything, because the cattle devoured the young shoots. 
In this country, grazing and planting are very rarely 
carried on together ; for the people seem to have no 
notion of enclosing patches of ground for cultivation. 
They say it is too much trouble to make enclosures. 
The construction of a durable fence is certainly a diffi- 
cult matter, for it is only two or three kinds of tree 
which will serve the purpose in being free from the 
attacks of insects, and these are scattered far and wide 
through the woods. 

In one place, where there was a pretty bit of pasture 
surrounded by woods, I found a grazier established, 
who supplied Santarem daily with milk. He was a 
strong, wiry half-breed, a man endowed with a little 
more energy than his neighbours, and really a hard- 
working fellow. The land was his own, and the dozen 
or so well-conditioned cows which grazed upon it. It 
was melancholy, however, to see the miserable way 
in which the man lived. His house, a mere barn, 
scarcely protecting its owner from the sun and rain, 
was not much better built or furnished than an Indian's 
hut. He complained that it was impossible to induce 
any of the needy free people to work for wages. The 
poor fellow led a dull, solitary life ; he had no family, 
and his wife had left him for some cause or other. 
He was up every morning by four o'clock, milked his 
cows with the help of a neighbour, and carried the day's 
yield to the town in stone bottles packed in leather 

38 SANTAREM. Chap. I. 

bags on horseback by sunrise. His wretched little 
farm produced nothing else. The house stood in the 
middle of the bare pasture, without garden or any sort 
of plantation ; a group of stately palms stood close by, 
to the trunks of which he secured the cows whilst 
milking. Butter-making is unknown in this country ; 
the milk, I was told, is too poor ; it is very rare indeed 
to see even the thinnest coating of cream on it, and the 
yield for each cow is very small. Our dairyman had to 
bring from Santarem every morning the meat, bread, 
and vegetables for the day's consumption. The other 
residents of Mahica were not even so well off as this 
man. I always had to bring my own provisions when I 
came this way, for a perennial famine seemed to reign 
in the place. I could not help picturing to myself the 
very different aspect this fertile tract of country would 
wear if it were peopled by a few families of agricultural 
settlers from Northern Europe. 

Although the meadows were unproductive ground to 
a Naturalist, the woods on their borders teemed with 
life : the number and variety of curious insects of all 
orders which occurred here was quite wonderful. The 
belt of forest was intersected by numerous pathways 
leading from one settler's house to another. The 
ground was moist, but the trees were not so lofty or 
their crowns so densely packed together as in other 
parts ; the sun's light and heat therefore had freer 
access to the soil, and the underwood was much more 
diversified than in the virgin forest. I never saw so 
many kinds of dwarf palms together as here ; pretty 
miniature species ; some not more than five feet high, 

Chap. I. BACABA PALM. 39 

and bearing little clusters of round fruit not larger 
than a good bunch of currants. A few of the forest 
trees had the size and strongly-branched figures of our 
oaks, and a similar bark. One noble palm grew here 
in great abundance, and gave a distinctive character to 
the district. This was the CEnocarpus distichus, one 
of the kinds called Bacaba by the natives. It grows 
to a height of forty to fifty feet. The crown is of a 
lustrous dark-green colour, and of a singularly flattened 
or compressed shape ; the leaves being arranged on each 
side in nearly the same plane. When I first saw this 
tree on the campos, where the east wind blows with 
great force night and day for several months, I 
thought the shape of the crown was due to the leaves 
being prevented from radiating equally by the constant 
action of the breezes. But the plane of growth is not 
always in the direction of the wind, and the crown 
has the same shape when the tree grows in the shel- 
tered woods. The fruit of this fine palm ripens towards 
the end of the year, and is much esteemed by the 
natives, who manufacture a pleasant drink from it 
similar to the assai described in a former chapter, by 
rubbing off the coat of pulp from the nuts, and mixing 
it with water. A bunch of fruit weighs thirty or forty 
pounds. The beverage has a milky appearance, and 
an agreeable nutty flavour. The tree is very difficult 
to climb, on account of the smoothness of its stem ; 
consequently the natives, whenever they want a bunch 
of fruit for a bowl of Bacaba, cut down and thus destroy 
a tree which has taken a score or two of years to grow, 
in order to get at it. 

40 SANTAREM. Chap. I. 

In the lower part of the Mahica woods, towards the 
river, there is a bed of stiff white clay, which supplies 
the people of Santarem with material for the manu- 
facture of coarse pottery and cooking utensils : all the 
kettles, saucepans, mandioca ovens, coffee-pots, wash- 
ing-vessels, and so forth, of the poorer classes through- 
out the country, are made of this same plastic clay, 
which occurs at short intervals over the whole surface of 
the Amazons valley, from the neighbourhood of Para to 
within the Peruvian borders, and forms part of the 
great Tabatinga marl deposit. To enable the vessels to 
stand the fire, the bark of a certain tree, called Caraipe, 
is burnt and mixed with the clay, which gives tenacity 
to the ware. Caraipe is an article of commerce, being 
sold, packed in baskets, at the shops in most of the 
towns. The shallow pits, excavated in the marly soil at 
Mahica, were very attractive to many kinds of mason 
bees and wasps, who make use of the clay to build their 
nests with. I spent many an hour, watching their 
proceedings : a short account of the habits of some of 
these busy creatures may be interesting. 

The most conspicuous was a large yellow and black 
wasp, with a remarkably long and narrow waist, the 
Pelopseus fistularis. It collected the clay in little 
round pellets, which it carried off, after rolling them 
into a convenient shape in its mandibles. It came 
straight to the pit with a loud hum, and, on alighting, 
lost not a moment in beginning to work ; finishing the 
kneading of its little load in two or three minutes. 
The nest of this species is shaped like a pouch, two 
inches in length, and is attached to a branch or other 

Chap. I. 



projecting object. One of these restless artificers once 
began to build on the handle of a chest in the cabin of 
my canoe, when we were stationary at a place for 
several days. It was so intent on its work that it 
allowed me to inspect the movements of its mouth 
with a lens whilst it was laying on the mortar. Every 
fresh pellet was brought in with a triumphant song, 
which changed to a cheerful busy hum when it alighted 
and began to work. The 
little ball of moist clay was 
laid on the edge of the cell, 
and then spread out around 
the circular rim by means 
of the lower lip guided by 
the mandibles. The insect 
placed itself astride over the 
rim to work, and, on finish- 
ing each addition to the 
structure, took a turn round, 
patting the sides with its 
feet inside and out before 
flying off to gather a fresh 
pellet. It worked only in sunny weather, and the 
previous layer was sometimes not quite dry when the 
new coating was added. The whole structure takes 
about a week to complete. I left the place before the 
gay little builder had quite finished her task : she did 
not accompany the canoe, although we moved along the 
bank of the river very slowly. On opening closed 
nests of this species, which are common in the neigh- 
bourhood of Mahica, I always found them to be stocked 

Pelopajus Wasp building nest. 

42 SANTAREM. ■ Chap. I. 

with small spiders of the genus Gastracantha, in thus 
usual half-dead state to which the mother wasps 
reduce the insects which are to serve as food for their 

Besides the Pelopseus there were three or four kinds 
of Trypoxylon, a genus also found in Europe, and 
which some Naturalists have supposed to be parasitic, 
because the legs are not furnished with the usual row 
of strong bristles for digging, characteristic of the family 
to which it belongs. The species of Trypoxylon, however, 
are all building wasps ; two of them which I observed 
(T. albitarse and an undescribed species) provision 
their nests with spiders, a third (T. aurifrons) with 
small caterpillars. Their habits are similar to those of 
the Pelopseus ; namely, they carry off the clay in their 
mandibles, and have a different song when they hasten 
away with the burthen, to that which they sing whilst 
at work. Trypoxylon albitarse, which is a large black 
kind, three-quarters of an inch in length, makes a tre- 
mendous fuss whilst building its cell. It often chooses 
the walls or doors of chambers for this purpose, and when 
two or three are at work in the same place their loud 

humming keeps the house 
in an uproar. The cell is 
a tubular structure about 
three inches in length. T. 
aurifrons, a much smaller 
species, makes a neat 

Cells of Trypoxylon aurifrons. little nest shaped like a 

carafe ; building rows of 
them together in the corners of verandahs. 

Chap. J. MASON BEES. 43 

But the most numerous and interesting of the clay- 
artificers are the workers of a species of social bee, the 
Melipona fasciculata. The Meliponae in tropical Ame- 
rica take the place of the true Apides, to which the 
European hive-bee belongs, and which are here un- 
known ; they are generally much smaller insects than 
the hive-bees and have no sting. The M. fasciculata is 
about a third shorter than the Apis mellifica : its 
colonies are composed of an immense number of indi- 
viduals ; the workers are generally seen collecting- 
pollen in the same way as other bees, but great num- 
bers are employed gathering clay. The rapidity and 
precision of their movements whilst thus engaged are 
wonderful. They first scrape the clay with their man- 

• ~ 1 -^ -'*< ' 

Melipona Bees gathering clay. 

dibles ; the small portions gathered are then cleared by 
the anterior paws and passed to the second pair of feet, 
which, in their turn, convey them to the large foliated 
expansions of the hind shanks which are adapted nor- 
mally in bees, as every one knows, for the collection of 
pollen. The middle feet pat the growing pellets of 
mortar on the hind legs to keep them in a compact shape 

44 SANTAREM. Chap. I. 

as the particles are successively added. The little hods- 
men soon have as much as they can carry, and they then 
fly off. I was for some time puzzled to know what the 
bees did with the clay ; but I had afterwards plenty 
of opportunity for ascertaining. They construct their 
combs in any suitable crevice in trunks of trees or 
perpendicular banks, and the clay is required to build 
up a wall so as to close the gap, with the exception of 
a small orifice for their own entrance and exit. Most 
kinds of Meliponae are in this way masons as well as 
v workers in wax and pollen-gatherers. One little species 
(undescribed) not more than two lines long, builds a 
neat tubular gallery of clay, kneaded with some viscid 
substance outside the entrance to its hive, besides 
blocking up the crevice in the tree within which it is 
situated. The mouth of the tube is trumpet-shaped, 
and at the entrance a number of the pigmy bees are 
always stationed apparently acting as sentinels. 

It is remarkable that none of the American bees have 
attained that high degree of architectural skill in the 
construction of their comb which is shown by the Euro- 
pean hive bee. The wax cells of the Meliponae are 
generally oblong, showing only an approximation to the 
hexagonal shape in places where several of them are 
built in contact. It would appear that the Old "World 
has produced in bees, as well as in other families of 
animals, far more advanced forms than the tropics of 
the New World. 

A hive of the Melipona fasciculata, which I saw 
opened, contained about two quarts of pleasantly-tasted 
liquid honey. The bees, as already remarked, have no 

Chap. I. BEES. 45 

sting, but they bite furiously when their colonies are 
disturbed. The Indian who plundered the hive was 
completely covered by them ; they took a particular 
fancy to the hair of his head, and fastened on it by 
hundreds. I found forty-five species of these bees in 
different parts of the country ; the largest was half an 
inch in length ; the smallest were extremely minute, 
some kinds being not more than one-twelfth of an inch 
in size. These tiny fellows are often very troublesome 
in the woods, on account of their familiarity ; they settle 
on one's face and hands ; and, in crawling about, get 
into the eyes and mouth, or up the nostrils. 

The broad expansion of the hind shanks of bees is 
applied in some species to other uses besides the con- 
veyance of clay and pollen. The female of the hand- 
some golden and black Euglossa Surinamensis has this 
palette of very large size. This species builds its solitary 
nest also in crevices of walls or trees ; but it closes up 
the chink with fragments of dried leaves and sticks 
cemented together, instead of clay. It visits the cajti 
trees, and gathers with its hind legs a small quantity of 
the gum which exudes from their trunks. To this it 
adds the other materials required from the neighbouring 
bushes, and when laden flies off to its nest. 

Whilst on the subject of bees, I may mention that 
the neighbourhoods of Santarem and Villa Nova yielded 
me about 140 species. The genera are for the most 
part different from those inhabiting Europe. A very 
large number make their cells in hollow twigs and 
branches. As in our own country, the industrious nest- 
building kinds are attended by other species which do 

46 SANTAREM. Chap. I. 

not work or store up food for their progeny, but deposit 
their ova in the cells of their comrades. Some of these, 
it is well known, counterfeit the dress and general 
figure of their victims. To all appearance this simi- 
larity of shape and colours between the parasite and its 
victim is given for the purpose of deceiving the poor 
hard-working bee, which would otherwise revenge itself 
by slaying its plunderers. Some parasitic bees, however, 
have no resemblance to the species they impose upon; 
probably they live together on more friendly terms, or 
have some other means of disarming suspicion. Many 
Dij)terous insects are also parasitic on bees, and wear 
the same dress as the species they live upon. That the 
dress of the victimisers is arranged with especial refer- 
ence to their prey, I think is proved by what I observed 
at Santarem. The genera of the parasites here are not 
the same as in Europe ; and when they counterfeit 
working bees, it is the peculiarly-coloured species of 
their own country that are imitated, and not those of 
any other region. The European genus Apathus, which 
mimics European Humble-bees, is not found in South 
America ; but the common Bombus of Santarem, which 
is remarkable in being wholly of a sooty-black colour, is 
attended by a sooty black parasite of a widely-different 
genus, the Eurytis funereus. Many of the little MeliponaB 
have their counterfeits in small Diptera of the family 
Syrphidse ; and the brilliant green or blue bees of the 
country (Euglossa) have their imitators in parasitic bees 
of equally bright colours, belonging to genera unknown 
out of the countries where the Euglossse are found.* 

* These are Melissa, Mesocheira, Thalestria, &c. 

Chap. I. CONICAL HILL. 47 

To the south my rambles never extended further than 
the banks of the Irura, a stream which rises amongst 
the hills already spoken of, and running through a 
broad valley, wooded along the margins of the water- 
courses, falls into the Tapajos, at the head of the bay of 
Mapiri. All beyond, as before remarked, is terra incog- 
nita to the inhabitants of Santarem. The Brazilian 
settlers on the banks of the Amazons seem to have no 
taste for explorations by land, and I could find no per- 
son willing to accompany me on an excursion further 
towards the interior. Such a journey would be exceed- 
ingly difficult in this country, even if men could be 
obtained willing to undertake it. Besides, there were 
reports of a settlement of fierce runaway negroes on the 
Serra de Mururaru, and it was considered unsafe to go 
far in that direction, except with a large armed party. 
I visited the banks of the Irura and the rich woods 
accompanying it, and two other streams in the same 
neighbourhood, one called the Panema, and the other 
the Urumari, once or twice a week during the whole 
time of my residence in Santarem, and made large 
collections of their natural productions. These forest 
brooks, with their clear cold waters brawling over their 
sandy or pebbly beds through wild tropical glens, 
always had a great charm for me. The beauty of the 
moist, cool, and luxuriant glades was heightened by the 
contrast they afforded to the sterile country around 
them. The bare or scantily wooded hills which sur- 
round the valley are parched by the rays of the vertical 
sun. One of them, the Pico do Irura, forms a nearly 
perfect cone, rising from a small grassy plain to a height 

48 SANTAREM. Chap. I. 

of 500 or 600 feet, and its ascent is excessively fatiguing 
after the long walk from Santarem over the campos. I 
tried it one day, but did not reach the summit. A dense 
growth of coarse grasses clothed the steep sides of the 
hill, with here and there a stunted tree of kinds found 
in the plain beneath. In bared places, a red crumbly 
soil is exposed ; and in one part a mass of rock, which 
appeared to me, from its compact texture and the ab- 
sence of stratification, to be porphyritic ; but I am not 
Geologist sufficient to pronounce on such questions. 
Mr. Wallace states that he found fragments of scoriae, 
and believes the hill to be a volcanic cone. To the 
south and east of this isolated peak, the elongated 
ridges or table-topped hills attain a somewhat greater 

The forest in the valley is limited to a tract a few 
hundred yards in width on each side the different 
streams : in places where these run along the bases of 
the hills the hill-sides facing the water are also richly 
wooded, although their opposite declivities are bare or 
nearly so. The trees are lofty and of great variety ; 
amongst them are colossal examples of the Brazil nut 
tree (Bertholletia excelsa), and the Pikia. This latter 
bears a large eatable fruit, curious in having a hollow 
chamber between the pulp and the kernel, beset with 
hard spines which produce serious wounds if they 
enter the skin. The eatable part appeared to me not 
much more palatable than a raw potato ; but the 
inhabitants of Santarem are very fond of it, and 
undertake the most toilsome journeys on foot to gather 
a basketful. The tree which yields the tonka bean 


(Dipteryx odorata), used in Europe for scenting snuff, 
is also of frequent occurrence here. It grows to an 
immense height, and the fruit, which, although a 
legume, is of a rounded shape, and has but one seed, 
can be gathered only when it falls to the ground. A 
considerable quantity (from 1000 to 3000 pounds) is 
exported annually from Santarem, the produce of the 
whole region of the Tapajos. An endless diversity of 
trees and shrubs, some beautiful in flower and foliage, 
others bearing curious fruits, grow in this matted wil- 
derness. It would be tedious to enumerate many of 
them. I was much struck with the variety of trees, 
with large and diversely-shaped fruits growing out of 
the trunk and branches, some within a few inches of 
the ground, like the cacao. Most of them are called 
by the natives Cupu, and the trees are of inconsiderable 
height. One of them called Cupu-ai bears a fruit of 
elliptical shape and of a dingy earthen colour six or seven 
inches long, the shell of which is woody and thin, and 
contains a small number of seeds loosely enveloped in 
a juicy pulp of very pleasant flavour. The fruits hang 
like clayey ants'-nests from the branches. Another 
kind more nearly resembles the cacao ; this is shaped 
something like the cucumber, and has a green ribbed 
husk. It bears the name of Cacao de macaco, or 
monkey's chocolate, but the seeds are smaller than those 
of the common cacao. I tried once or twice to make 
chocolate from them. They contain plenty of oil of 
similar fragrance to that of the ordinary cacao-nut, 
and make up very well into paste ; but the beverage 
has a repulsive clayey colour and an inferior flavour. e 

50 SANTAEEM. Chap. I. 

My excursions to the Irura had always a picnic 
character. A few rude huts are scattered through the 
valley, but they are tenanted only for a few days 
in the year, when their owners come to gather and 
roast the mandioca of their small clearings. We used 
generally to take with us two boys — one negro, the other 
Indian — to carry our provisions for the day ; a few 
pounds of beef or fried fish, farinha and bananas, with 
plates, and a kettle for cooking. Jose carried the guns, 
ammunition and game-bags, and I the apparatus for 
entomologizing — the insect net, a large leathern bag 
with compartments for corked boxes, phials, glass tubes, 
and so forth. It was our custom to start soon after 
sunrise, when the walk over the campos was cool and 
pleasant, the sky without a cloud, and the grass wet 
with dew. The paths are mere faint tracks ; in our 
early excursions it was difficult to avoid missing our 
way. We were once completely lost, and wandered 
about for several hours over the scorching soil without 
recovering the road. A fine view is obtained of the 
country from the rising ground about half way across 
the waste. Thence to the bottom of the valley is a 
long, gentle, grassy slope, bare of trees. The strangely- 
shaped hills ; the forest at their feet, richly varied with 
palms ; the bay of Mapiri on the right, with the dark 
waters of the Tapajos and its white glistening shores, 
are all spread out before one as if depicted on canvas. 
The extreme transparency of the atmosphere gives to 
all parts of the landscape such clearness of outline 
that the idea of distance is destroyed, and one fancies 
the whole to be almost within reach of the hand. 


Descending into the valley, a small brook has to be 
crossed, and then half a mile of sandy plain, whose 
vegetation wears a peculiar aspect, owing to the pre- 
dominance of a stemless palm, the Curua (Attalea 
spectabilis), whose large, beautifully pinnated, rigid 
leaves rise directly from the soil. The fruit of this 
species is similar to the coco-nut, containing milk in 
the interior of the kernel, but it is much inferior to it 
in size. Here, and indeed all along the road, we saw, on 
most days in the wet season, tracks of the Jaguar. 
We never, however, met with the animal, although we 
sometimes heard his loud " hough " in the night whilst 
lying in our hammocks at home, in Santarem, and knew 
he must be lurking somewhere near us. 

My best hunting ground was a part of the valley 
sheltered on one side by a steep hill whose declivity, 
like the swampy valley beneath, was clothed with 
magnificent forest. We used to make our halt in a 
small cleared place, tolerably free from ants and close 
to the water. Here we assembled after our toilsome 
morning's hunt in different directions through the 
woods, took our well-earned meal on the ground — two 
broad leaves of the wild banana serving us for a table- 
cloth — and rested for a couple of hours during the great 
heat of the afternoon. The diversity of animal pro- 
ductions was as wonderful as that of the vegetable 
forms in this rich locality. I find by my register that 
it was not unusual to meet with thirty or forty new 
species of conspicuous insects during a day's search, 
even after I had made a great number of trips to the 
same spot. It was pleasant to lie down during the 

e 2 



Chap. I. 

hottest part of the day, when my people lay asleep, 
and watch the movements of animals. Sometimes a 
troop of Anus (Crotophaga), a glossy black-plumaged 
bird, which lives in small societies in grassy places, 
would come in from the campos, one by one, calling to 
each other as they moved from tree to tree. Or a 
Toucan (Rhamphastos ariel) silently hopped or ran 
along and up the branches, peeping into chinks and 
crevices. Notes of solitary birds resounded from a 

The Jacuaru (Teius teguexim). 

distance through the wilderness. Occasionally a sulky 
Trogon would be seen, with its brilliant green back and 
rose-coloured breast, perched for an hour without moving 
on a low branch. A number of large, fat lizards two 
feet long, of a kind called by the natives Jacuaru (Teius 
teguexim) were always observed in the still hours of mid- 
day scampering with great clatter over the dead leaves, 
apparently in chase of each other. The fat of this 
bulky lizard is much prized by the natives, who apply 


it as a poultice to draw palm spines or even grains of 
shot from the flesh. Other lizards of repulsive aspect, 
about three feet in length when full grown, splashed 
about and swam in the water ; sometimes emerging to 
crawl into hollow trees on the banks of the stream, 
where I once found a female and a nest of eggs. The 
lazy flapping flight of large blue and black morpho 
butterflies high in the air, the hum of insects, and 
many inanimate sounds, contributed their share to the 
total impression this strange solitude produced. Heavy 
fruits from the crowns of trees which were mingled 
together at a giddy height overhead, fell now and then 
with a startling " plop " into the water. The breeze, 
not felt below, stirred in the topmost branches, setting 
the twisted and looped sipos in motion, which creaked 
and groaned in a great variety of notes. To these 
noises were added the monotonous ripple of the brook, 
which had its little cascade at every score or two yards 
of its course. 

We frequently fell in with an old Indian woman, 
named Cecilia, who had a small clearing in the woods. 
She had the reputation of being a witch (feiticeira), and 
I found, on talking with her, that she prided herself on 
her knowledge of the black art. Her slightly curled 
hair showed that she was not a pure-blood Indian : I 
was told her father was a dark mulatto. She was 
always very civil to our party ; showing us the best 
paths, explaining the virtues and uses of different 
plants, and so forth. I was much amused at the ac- 
counts she gave of the place. Her solitary life and the 
gloom of the woods seemed to have filled her with su- 

54 SANTAREM. Chap. I. 

perstitious fancies. She said gold was contained in the 
bed of the brook, and that the murmur of the water 
over the little cascades was the voice of the " water- 
mother " revealing the hidden treasure. A narrow pass 
between two hill sides was the portao or gate, and all 
within, along the wooded banks of the stream, was 
enchanted ground. The hill underneath which we 
were encamped was the enchanter's abode, and she 
gravely told us she often had long conversations with 
him. These myths were of her own invention, and in 
the same way an endless number of other similar ones 
have originated in the childish imaginations of the poor 
Indian and half-breed inhabitants of different parts of 
the country. It is to be remarked, however, that the 
Indian men all become sceptics after a little intercourse 
with the whites. The witchcraft of poor Cecilia was 
of a very weak quality. It consisted in throwing 
pinches of powdered bark of a certain tree and other 
substances into the fire whilst muttering a spell — a 
prayer repeated backwards — and adding the name of the 
person on whom she wished the incantation to operate. 
Some of the feiticeiras, however, play more dangerous 
tricks than this harmless mummery. They are ac- 
quainted with many poisonous plants, and although 
they seldom have the courage to administer a fatal 
dose, sometimes contrive to convey to their victim suf- 
ficient to cause serious illness. The motive by which 
they are actuated is usually jealousy of other women in 
love matters. Whilst I resided in Santarem a case of 
what was called witchcraft was tried by the sub-delegado, 
in which a highly respectable white lady was the com- 

Chap. I. RARE MONKEY. 55 

plainant. It appeared that some feiticeira had sprinkled 
a quantity of the acrid juice of a large arum on her 
linen as it was hanging out to dry, and it was thought 
this had caused a serious eruption under which the lady 

I seldom met with any of the larger animals in these 
excursions. We never saw a mammal of any kind on 
the campos ; but tracks of three species were seen occa- 
sionally besides those of the Jaguar : these belonged to 
a small tiger cat, a deer, and an opossum ; all of which 
animals must have been very rare, and probably nocturnal 
in their habits, with the exception of the deer. I saw in 
the woods, on one occasion, a small flock of monkeys, and 
once had an opportunity of watching the movements of 
a sloth. The monkeys belonged to a very pretty and 
rare species, a kind of marmoset, I think the Hapale 
humeralifer described by Geoffroy St. Hilaire. I did 
not succeed in obtaining a specimen, but saw a living 
example afterwards in the possession of a shopkeeper at 
Santarem. It seems to occur nowhere else except in 
the dry woods bordering the campos in the interior 
parts of Brazil. The colours of its fur are beautifully 
varied ; the fore part of the body is white, with the 
hands gray ; the hind part black, with the rump and 
underside reddish-tawny ; the tail is banded with gray 
and black. Its face is partly naked and flesh-coloured, 
and the ears are fringed with long white hairs. The 
specimen was not more than eight inches in length, ex- 
clusive of the tail. Altogether I thought it the prettiest 
species of its family I had yet seen. One would mistake 
it, at first sight, for a kitten, from its small size, varied 

56 SANTABEM. Chap. I. 

colours, and the softness of its fur. It was a most timid 
creature, screaming and biting when any one attempted 
to handle it ; it became familiar, however, with the 
people of the house a few days after it came into their 
possession. When hungry or uneasy it uttered a weak 
querulous cry, a shrill note, which was sometimes pro- 
longed so as to resemble the stridulation of a grass- 
hopper. The sloth was of the kind called by Cuvier 
Bradypus tridactylus, which is clothed with shaggy gray 
hair. The natives call it, in the Tupi language, Ai 
ybyrete (in Portuguese, Preguica da terra firme), or 
sloth of the mainland, to distinguish it from the Bra- 
dypus infuscatus, which has a long, black and tawny 
stripe between the shoulders, and is called Ai' Ygapo 
(Preguica das vargens), or sloth of the flooded lands. 
Some travellers in South America have described the 
sloth as very nimble in its native woods, and have 
disputed the justness of the name which has been 
bestowed on it. The inhabitants of the Amazons 
region, however, both Indians and descendants of the 
Portuguese, hold to the common opinion, and consider 
the sloth as the type of laziness. It is very common 
for one native to call another, in reproaching him for 
idleness, "bicho do Embaiiba" (beast of the Cecropia 
tree) ; the leaves of the Cecropia being the food of the 
sloth. It is a strange sight to watch the uncouth 
creature, fit production of these silent shades, lazily 
moving from branch to branch. Every movement 
betrays, not indolence exactly, but extreme caution. 
He never looses his hold from one branch without 
first securing himself to the next, and when he does 


not immediately find a bough to grasp with the rigid 
hooks into which his paws are so curiously trans- 
formed, he raises his body, supported on his hind 
less, and claws around in search of a fresh foothold. 
After watching the animal for about half an hour I 
gave him a charge of shot ; he fell with a terrific 
crash, but caught a bough, in his descent, with his 
powerful claws, and remained suspended. Our Indian 
lad tried to climb the tree, but was driven back by 
swarms of stinging ants ; the poor little fellow slid down 
in a sad predicament, and plunged into the brook to 
free himself. Two days afterwards I found the body of 
the sloth on the ground : the animal having dropped 
on the relaxation of the muscles a few hours after 
death. In one of our voyages, Mr. Wallace and I saw 
a sloth (B. infuscatus) swimming across a river, at a 
place where it was probably 300 yards broad. I believe 
it is not generally known that this animal takes to the 
water. Our men caught the beast, cooked, and ate 

In returning from these trips we were sometimes be- 
nighted on the campos. We did not care for this on 
moonlit nights, when there was no danger of losing 
the path. The great heat felt in the middle hours of 
the day is much mitigated by four o'clock in the after- 
noon ; a few birds then make their appearance ; small 
flocks of ground doves run about the stony hillocks ; 
parrots pass over and sometimes settle in the ilhas ; 
pretty little finches of several species, especially one 
kind, streaked with olive-brown and yellow, and some- 
what resembling our yellow-hammer, but I believe not 

58 SANTAREM. Chap. I. 

belonging to the same genus, hop about the grass, en- 
livening the place with a few musical notes. The 
Carashue (Mimus) also then resumes its mellow, black- 
bird-like song ; and two or three species of humming- 
bird, none of which however are peculiar to the 
district, flit about from tree to tree. On the other 
hand, the little blue and yellow-striped lizards, which 
abound amongst the herbage during the scorching 
heats of midday, retreat towards this hour to their 
hiding-places ; together with the day-flying insects and 
the numerous campo butterflies. Some of these latter 
resemble greatly our English species found in heathy 
places, namely, a fritillary, Argynnis (Euptoieta) He- 
gesia, and two smaller kinds, which are deceptively 
like the little Nemeobius Lucina. After sunset the 
air becomes delightfully cool and fragrant with fruits 
and flowers. The nocturnal animals then come forth. 
A monstrous hairy spider, five inches in expanse 
(Mygale Blondii), of a brown colour with yellowish 
lines along its stout legs — which is very common 
here, inhabiting broad tubular galleries smoothly lined 
with silken web — may be then caught on the watch at 
the mouth of its burrow. It is only seen at night, 
and I think does not wander far from its den ; the 
gallery is about two inches in diameter, and runs in 
a slanting direction, about two feet from the surface 
of the soil. As soon as it is night, swarms of goat- 
suckers suddenly make their appearance, wheeling 
about in a noiseless, ghostly manner, in chase of night- 
flying insects. They sometimes descend and settle on 
a low branch, or even on the pathway close to where 

Chap. I. WHITE ANTS. 59 

one is walking, and then squatting down on their 
heels, are difficult to distinguish from the surrounding 
soil. One kind (Hydropsalis psalidurus ?) has a long- 
forked tail. In the daytime they are concealed in the 
wooded ilhas, where I very often saw them crouched 
and sleeping on the ground in the dense shade. They 
make no nest, but lay their eggs on the bare ground. 
Their breeding time is in the rainy season, and fresh 
eggs are found from December to June. Birds have not 
one uniform time for nidification here, as in temperate 
latitudes. Gulls and plovers lay in September, when the 
sand-banks are exposed in midriver in the dry season. 
Later in the evening, the singular notes of the goat- 
suckers are heard, one species crying Quao, Quao, another 
Chuck-co-co-cao ; and these are repeated at intervals 
far into the night in the most monotonous manner. A 
great number of toads are seen on the bare sandy path- 
ways soon after sunset. One of them was quite a 
colossus, about seven inches in length and three in 
height. This big fellow would never move out of the 
way until we were close to him. If we jerked him 
out of the path with a stick, he would slowly recover 
himself, and then turn round to have a good impudent 
stare. I have counted as many as thirty of these mon- 
sters within a distance of half a mile. 

The surface of the campos is disfigured in all direc- 
tions by earthy mounds and conical hillocks, the work 
of many different species of white ants. Some of 
these structures are five feet high, and formed of 
particles of earth worked into a material as hard as 

60 SANTAREM. Chap. I. 

stone ; others are smaller, and constructed in a looser 
manner. The ground is everywhere streaked with the 
narrow covered galleries which are built up by the 
insects of grains of earth different in colour from the 
surrounding soil, to protect themselves whilst convey- 
ing materials wherewith to build their cities — for such 
the tumuli may be considered — or carrying their young 
from one hillock to another. The same covered ways 
are spread over all the dead timber, and about the 
decaying roots of herbage, which serve as food to the 
white ants. An examination of these tubular passages 
or arcades in any part of the district, or a peep into 
one of the tumuli, reveals always a throng of eager, 
busy creatures. I became very much interested in 
these insects while staying at Santarem, where many 
circumstances favoured the study of their habits, and 
examined several hundred colonies in endeavouring to 
clear up obscure points in their natural history. Very 
little, up to that date, had been recorded of the con- 
stitution and economy of their communities, owing 
doubtless to their not being found in northern and 
central Europe, and, therefore, not within reach of 
European observers. I will give a short summary of 
my observations, and with this we shall have done with 
Santarem and its neighbourhood.* 

White ants are small, pale-coloured, soft-bodied in- 
sects, having scarcely anything in common with true 

* My original notes on the Termites, comprising all details, were 
sent to Professor Westwood (Oxford) in 1854 and 1855 ; they were not 
printed in England, but have been translated into German, and pub- 
lished by Dr. Hagen, with his monograph of the family, in the Linnpea 
Entomologica, 12 Band, Stettin, 1858, p. 207, ff. 

Chap. I. WHITE ANTS. 61 

ants, except their consisting, in each species and family, 
of several distinct orders of individuals or castes which 
live together in populous, organized communities. In 
both there are, besides the males and females, a set of 
individuals of no fully-developed sex, immensely more 
numerous than their brothers and sisters, whose task 
is to work and care for the young brood. In true ants 
this class of the community consists of undeveloped 
females, and when it comprises, as is the case in many 
species, individuals of different structure, the func- 
tions of these do not seem to be rigidly denned. The 
contrary happens in the Termites, and this perhaps 
shows that the organization of their communities has 
reached a higher stage, the division of labour being 
more complete. The neuters in these wonderful insects 
are always divided into two classes — fighters and 
workers ; both are blind, and each keeps to its own 
task ; the one to build, make covered roads, nurse the 
young brood from the egg upwards, take care of the 
king and queen, who are the progenitors of the whole 
colony, and secure the exit of the males and females, 
when they acquire wings and fly out to pair and dis- 
seminate the race : the other to defend the community 
against all comers. Ants and termites are also widely 
different in their mode of growth, or, as it is called, 
metamorphosis. Ants in their early stage are footless 
grubs, which, before they reach the adult state, pass 
through an intermediate quiescent stage (pupa) in- 
closed in a membrane. Termites, on the contrary, 
have a similar form when they emerge from the egg to 
that which they retain throughout life ; the chief dif- 

62 SANTAREM. Chap. I. 

ference being the gradual acquisition of eyes and wings 
in the sexual individuals during the later stages of 
growth. Termites and true ants, in fact, belong to two 
widely dissimilar orders of insects, and the analogy 
between them is only a general one of habits. The mode 
of growth of Termites and the active condition of their 
younger stages (larva and pupa) make the constitution 
of their communities much more difficult of compre- 
hension than that of ants ; hence how many castes 
existed, and what sort of individuals they were com- 
posed of, if not males and females, have always been 
puzzles to naturalists in the absence of direct obser- 

What a strange spectacle is offered to us in the 
organisation of these insect communities ! Nothing 
analogous occurs amongst the higher animals. Social 
instincts exist in many species of mammals and birds, 
where numerous individuals unite to build common 
habitations, as we see in the case of weaver-birds and 
beavers ; but the principle of division of labour, the set- 
ting apart of classes of individuals for certain employ- 
ments, occurs only in human societies in an advanced 
state of civilisation. In all the higher animals there 
are only two orders of individuals as far as bodily 
structure is concerned, namely, males and females. 
The wonderful part in the history of the Termites is, 
that not only is there a rigid division of labour, but 
nature has given to each class a structure of body 
adapting it to the kind of labour it has to perform. 
The males and females form a class apart ; they do no 
kind of work, but in the course of growth acquire 

Chap. I. WHITE ANTS. 63 

wings to enable them to issue forth and disseminate 
their kind. The workers and soldiers are wingless, and 
differ solely in the shape and armature of the head. 
This member in the labourers is smooth and rounded, 
the mouth being adapted for the working of the mate- 
rials in building the hive ; in the soldiers the head is 
of very large size, and is provided in almost every kind 
with special organs of offence or defence in the form 
of horny processes resembling pikes, tridents, and so 
forth. Some species do not possess these extraordi- 
nary projections, but have, in compensation, greatly 
lengthened jaws, which are shaped in some kinds as 
sickles, in others as sabres and saws. 

The course of human events in our day seems, 
unhappily, to make it more than ever necessary for the 
citizens of civilised and industrious communities to set 
apart a numerous armed class for the protection of the 
rest ; in this nations only do what nature has of old 
done for the Termites. The soldier Termes, however, 
has not only the fighting instinct and function ; he is 
constructed as a soldier, and carries his weapons not in 
his hand, but growing out of his body. 

Whenever a colony of Termites is disturbed, the 
workers are at first the only members of the com- 
munity seen ; these quickly disappear through the 
endless ramified galleries of which a Termitarium is 
composed, and soldiers make their appearance. The 
observations of Smeathman on the soldiers of a species 
inhabiting tropical Africa are often quoted in books on 
Natural History, and give a very good idea of their 
habits. I was always amused at the pugnacity dis- 



Chap. I. 

played, when, in making a hole in the earthy cemented 
archway of their covered roads, a host of these little 
fellows mounted the breach to cover the retreat of the 
workers. The edges of the rupture bristled with 
their armed heads as the courageous warriors ranged 
themselves in compact line around them. They at- 

1 — 8. Soldiers of different species of White Ants. — 9. Ordinary shape of worker. — 

10. Winged class. 

tacked fiercely any intruding object, and as fast as 
their front ranks were destroyed, others filled up their 
places. When the jaws closed in the flesh, they suf- 
fered themselves to be torn in pieces rather than loosen 
their hold. It might be said that this instinct is 
rather a cause of their ruin than a protection when 
a colony is attacked by the well-known enemy of 
Termites, the ant-bear ; but it is the soldiers only 

Chap. I. WHITE AXTS. 65 

which attach themselves to the long worm-like tongue 
of this animal, and the workers, on whom the prospe- 
rity of the young brood immediately depends, are left 
for the most part unharmed. I always found, on 
thrusting my finger into a mixed crowd of Termites, 
that the soldiers only fastened upon it. Thus the 
fighting caste do in the end serve to protect the species 
by sacrificing themselves for its good. 

A family of Termites consists of workers as the 
majority, of soldiers, and of the King and Queen. These 
are the constant occupants of a completed Termitarium. 
The royal couple are the father and mother of the 
colony, and are always kept together closely guarded by 
a detachment of workers in a large chamber in the very 
heart of the hive, surrounded by much stronger walls 
than the other cells. They are wingless and both im- 
mensely larger than the workers and soldiers. The 
Queen, when in her chamber, is always found in a 
gravid condition, her abdomen enormously distended 
with eggs, which, as fast as they come forth, are con- 
veyed by a relay of workers in their mouths from the 
royal chamber to the minor cells dispersed throughout the 
hive. The other members of a Termes family are the 
winged individuals : these make their appearance only 
at a certain time of the year, generally in the beginning 
of the rainy season. It has puzzled naturalists to make 
out the relationship between the winged Termites and 
the wingless King and Queen. It has also generally 
been thought that the soldiers and workers are the 
larvse of the others ; an excusable mistake, seeing 
that they much resemble larvae. I satisfied myself, 


66 SANTAREM. Chap. I. 

after studying the habits of these insects daily for 
several months, that the winged Termites were males 
and females in about equal numbers, and that some of 
them, after shedding their wings and pairing, became 
Kings and Queens of new colonies ; also, that the 
soldiers and workers were individuals which had arrived 
at their full growth without passing through the same 
stages as their fertile brothers and sisters. 

A Termitarium, although of different shape, size, 
texture of materials, and built in different situations, 
according to the species, is always composed of a vast 
number of chambers and irregular intercommunicating 
galleries, built up with particles of earth or vegetable 
matter, cemented together by the saliva of the insects. 
There is no visible mode of ingress or egress, the en- 
trances being connected with covered roads, which are 
the sole means of communication with the outer world. 
The structures are prominent objects in all tropical 
countries. The very large hillocks at Santarem are 
the work of many distinct species, each of which 
uses materials differently compacted, and keeps to its 
own portion of the tumulus. One kind, Termes are- 
narius, on which these" remarks are chiefly founded, 
makes little conical hillocks of friable structure, a foot 
or two in height, and is generally the sole occupier. 
Another kind (Termes exiguus) builds small dome- 
shaped papery edifices. Many species live on trees, 
their earthy nests, of all sizes, looking like ugly ex- 
crescences on the trunks and branches. Some are 
wholly subterranean, and others live under the bark, 
or in the interior of trees : it is these two latter 

Chap. I. WHITE ANTS. 67 

kinds which get into houses and destroy furniture, 
books, and clothing. All hives do not contain a queen 
and her partner. Some are new constructions, and, 
when taken to pieces, show only a large number of 
workers occupied in bringing eggs from an old over- 
stocked Termitarium, with a small detachment of 
soldiers evidently told off for their protection. 

A few weeks before the exodus of the winged males 
and females a completed Termitarium contains Termites 
of all castes and in all stages of development. On 
close examination I found the young of each of the 
four orders of individuals crowded together, and ap- 
parently feeding in the same cells. The full-grown 
workers showed the greatest attention to the young 
larvae, carrying them in their mouths along the galleries 
from one cell to another, but they took no notice of the 
full-grown ones. It was not possible to distinguish the 
larvae of the four classes when extremely young, but at 
an advanced stage it was easy to see which were to 
become males and females, and which workers and 
soldiers. The workers have the same form throughout, 
the soldiers showed in their later stages of growth the 
large head and cephalic processes, but much less deve- 
loped than in the adult state. The males and females 
were distinguishable by the possession of rudimentary 
wings and eyes, which increased in size after three 
successive changes of skin. 

Thus I think I made out that the soldier and worker 
castes are, like the males and females, distinct from the 
egg ; they are not made so by a difference of food or 
treatment during their earlier stages, and they never 


68 SANTAREM. Chap. I. 

become winged insects. The workers and soldiers feed 
on decayed wood and other vegetable substances ; I 
could not clearly ascertain what the young fed upon, 
but they are seen of all sizes, larvae and pupae, huddled 
together in the same cells, with their heads converging 
towards the bottom, and I thought I sometimes de- 
tected the workers discharging a liquid from their 
mouths into the cells. The growth of the young family 
is very rapid, and seems to be completed within the 
year : the greatest event of Termite life then takes 
place, namely, the coming of age of the winged males 
and females, and their exit from the hive. 

It is curious to watch a Termitarium when this exodus 
is taking place. The workers are set in the greatest 
activity, as if they were aware that the very existence 
of their species depended on the successful emigration 
and marriages of their brothers and sisters. They clear 
the way for their bulky but fragile bodies, and bite 
holes through the outer walls for their escape. The 
exodus is not completed in one day, but continues until 
all the males and females have emerged from their pupa 
integuments, and flown, away. It takes place on moist, 
close evenings, or on cloudy mornings : they are much 
attracted by the lights in houses, and fly by myriads 
into chambers, filling the air with a loud rustling noise, 
and often falling in such numbers that they extinguish 
the lamps. Almost as soon as they touch ground they 
wriggle off their wings, to aid which operation there is 
a special provision in the structure of the organs, a seam 
running across near their roots and dividing the horny 
nervures. To prove that this singular mutilation was 

Chap. I. . WHITE ANTS. 69 

voluntary, on the part of the insects, I repeatedly tried 
to detach the wings by force, but could never succeed 
whilst they were fresh, for they always tore out by the 
roots. Few escape the innumerable enemies which are 
on the alert at these times to devour them ; ants, 
spiders, lizards, toads, bats, and goat-suckers. The 
waste of life is astonishing. The few that do survive 
pair and become the kings and queens of new colonies. 
I ascertained this by finding single pairs a few days 
after the exodus, which I always examined and proved 
to be males and females, established under a leaf, a 
clod of earth, or wandering about under the edges of 
new tumuli. The females are then not gravid. I once 
found a newly-married pair in a fresh cell tended by a 
few workers. 

The office of Termites in these hot countries is to 
hasten the decomposition of the woody and decaying parts 
of vegetation. In this they perform what in temperate 
latitudes is the task of other orders of insects. Many 
points in their natural history still remain obscure. We 
have seen that there are males and females, which grow, 
reach the adult winged state, and propagate their kind 
like all other insects. Unlike others, however, which 
are always, each in its sphere, provided with the means 
of maintaining their own in the battle of life, these are 
helpless creatures, which, without external aid, would 
soon perish, entailing the extinction of their kind. The 
family to which they belong is therefore provided with 
other members, not males or females, but individuals 
deprived of the sexual instincts, and so endowed in 
body and mind that they are adapted and impelled to 

70 SANTAREM. Chap. I. 

devote their lives for the good of their species. But I 
have not explained how these neuter individuals, 
soldiers and workers, come to be distinct castes. This 
is still a knotty point, which I could do nothing to 
solve. Neuter bees and ants are known to be unde- 
veloped females. I thought it a reasonable hypothesis, 
on account of the total absence of intermediate indi- 
viduals connecting the two forms, that worker and 
soldier might be in a similar way female and male 
whose develojDment had been in some way arrested. A 
French anatomist, however, M . Lespes, * believes to 
have found by dissection imperfect males and females 
in each of the castes. The correctness of his observa- 
tions is doubted by competent judges ;f if his conclusion 
be true, the biology of Termites is indeed a mystery. 

* Recherches sur 1' Organization et les Moeurs du Termite Lucifuge, 
Annales des Sciences Naturelles, 4 me serie, tome 5, fasc. 4 et 5. 
Paris, 1856. M. Lespes states also to have found two distinct forms of 
pupa in the same species, one only of which he believes to become kings 
and queens. I observed nothing of the kind in Termes arenarius. 
Dr. Hagen mentions, in his monograph, cases of beaked workers and 
winged soldiers. I always found the beaked individuals to be of 
the fighting caste ; with regard to winged soldiers and other curious 
forms of pupa? which have occurred, they are probably either mon- 
strosities, or belong to species having a peculiar mode of develop- 
ment. I did not meet with such ; I found, however, a species whose 
soldier class did not differ at all, except in the fighting instinct, from 
the workers. 

*f* Gerstaecker, Bericht fiber den Leistungen, &c, der Entomologie, 
1856. p. 6. Hagen, Linnsea Entomologica, 1858, p. 24. 



Preparations for voyage — First day's sail — Mode of arranging money- 
matters and remittance of collections in the interior — Loss of boat 
— Altar do Chao — Excursion in forest — Valuable timber — Modes 
of obtaining fish — Difficulties with crew — Arrival at Aveyros — 
Excursions in the neighbourhood — White Cebus and habits and 
dispositions of Cebi monkeys — Tame parrot — Missionary settle- 
ment — Enter the River Cupari — Adventure with Anaconda — 
Smoke-dried monkey — Boa-constrictor — Village of Mundurucii 
Indians, and incursion of a wild tribe — Falls of the Cupari — 
Hyacinthine macaw — Re-emerge into the broad Tapajos — Descent 
of river to Santarem. 

June, 1852. — I will now proceed to relate the inci- 
dents of my principal excursion up the Tapajos, which 
I began to prepare for, after residing about six months 
at Santarem. 

I was obliged, this time, to travel in a vessel of my 
own ; partly because trading canoes large enough to 
accommodate a Naturalist very seldom pass between 
Santarem and the thinly-peopled settlements on the 
river, and partly because I wished to explore districts at 
my ease, far out of the ordinary track of traders. I 
soon found a suitable canoe ; a two-masted cuberta, of 
about six tons' burthen, strongly built of Itauba or 
stone-wood, a timber of which all the best vessels in the 


Amazons country are constructed, and said to be more 
durable than teak. This I hired of a merchant at the 
cheap rate of 500 reis, or about one shilling and twopence 
per day. I fitted up the cabin, which, as usual in canoes 
of this class, was a square structure with its floor above 
the water-line, as my sleeping and working apartment. 
My chests, filled with store-boxes and trays for speci- 
mens, were arranged on each side, and above them were 
shelves and pegs to hold my little stock of useful books, 
guns, and game bags, boards and materials for skinning 
and preserving animals, botanical press and papers, 
drying cages for insects and birds, and so forth. A rush 
mat was spread on the floor, and my roiled-up hammock, 
to be used only when sleeping ashore, served for a 
pillow. The arched covering over the hold in the fore 
part of the vessel contained, besides a sleej)ing place for 
the crew, my heavy chests, stock of salt provisions and 
groceries, and an assortment of goods wherewith to pay 
my way amongst the half-civilised or savage inhabitants 
of the interior. The goods consisted of cashaga, powder 
and shot, a few pieces of coarse checked-cotton cloth 
and prints, fish-hooks, axes, large knives, harpoons, 
arrow-heads, looking-glasses, beads, and other small 
wares. Jose and myself were busy for many days 
arranging these matters. We had to salt the meat and 
grind a supply of coffee ourselves. Cooking utensils, 
crockery, water-jars, a set of useful carpenter's tools, and 
many other things had to be provided. We put all the 
groceries and other perishable articles in tin canisters 
and boxes, having found that this was the only way of 
preserving them from damp and insects in this climate. 

Chap. II. CANOE-MEN". 73 

When all was done, our canoe looked like a little 
floating workshop. 

I could get little information about the river, except 
vague accounts of the difficulty of the navigation, and 
the famito or hunger which reigned on its banks. As I 
have before mentioned, it is about a thousand miles in 
length, and flows from south to north ; in magnitude it 
stands the sixth amongst the tributaries of the Amazons. 
It is navigable, however, by sailing vessels only for 
about 160 miles above Santarem. The hiring of men 
to navigate the vessel was our greatest trouble. Jose 
was to be my helmsman, and we thought three other 
hands would be the fewest with which we could venture. 
But all our endeavours to procure these were fruitless. 
Santarem is worse provided with Indian canoemen than 
any other town on the river. I found, on applying to 
the tradesmen to whom I had brought letters of intro- 
duction and to the Brazilian authorities, that almost 
any favour would be sooner granted than the loan of 
hands. A stranger, however, is obliged to depend on 
them ; for it is impossible to find an Indian or half-caste 
whom some one or other of the head-men do not claim 
as owing him money or labour. I was afraid at one 
time I should have been forced to abandon my project 
on this account. At length, after many rebuffs and 
disappointments, Jose contrived to engage one man, a 
mulatto, named Pinto, a native of the mining country 
of Interior Brazil, who knew the river well ; and with 
these two I resolved to start, hoping to meet with others 
at the first village on the road. 

We left Santarem on the 8th of June. The waters 


were then at their highest point, and my canoe had 
been anchored close to the back door of our house. The 
morning was cool and a brisk wind blew, with which 
we sped rapidly past the white-washed houses and 
thatched Indian huts of the suburbs. The charming 
little bay of Mapiri was soon left behind ; we then 
doubled Point Maria Josepha, a headland formed of 
high cliffs of Tabatinga clay, capped with forest. This 
forms the limit of the river view from Santarem, and 
here we had our last glimpse, at a distance of seven or 
eight miles, of the city, a bright line of tiny white build- 
ings resting on the dark water. A stretch of wild rocky 
uninhabited coast was before us, and we were fairly 
within the Tapajos. 

Some of my readers may be curious to know how I 
managed money affairs during these excursions in the 
interior of the South American continent : it can be 
explained in a few words. In the first place, I had an 
agent in London to whom I consigned my collections. 
During the greater part of the time I drew on him for 
what sums I wanted, and an English firm at Para (the 
only one in the country which traded regularly and 
directly with England) cashed the drafts. I found no 
difficulty in the interior of the country, for almost any 
of the larger Portuguese or Brazilian traders, of whom 
there are one or two in every village of 600 or 700 
inhabitants, would honour my draft on the English 
house ; they having each a correspondent at Para who 
deals with the foreign merchants. Sometimes a Portu- 
guese trader would hint at discount, or wish me to take 
part of the amount in goods, but the Brazilians were 


generally more liberal. At one period, when I was 
obliged to wait for remittances from England,* I some- 
times ran short of money ; but I had only to say a word 
to one of these generous and considerate men, and the 
assistance was given without interest to the extent I 
required. The current money on the Amazons varied 
much during the eleven years of my stay. At first, 
nothing but copper coins and Brazilian treasury notes, 
the smallest representing 1000 reis (2s. 3d), were seen ; 
afterwards (1852 — 1856), with the increase of the India- 
rubber trade, a large amount of specie was imported, — 
American gold coins, Spanish and Mexican dollars, and 
English sovereigns. These were the commonest medium 
of exchange in Para and on the Lower Amazons, until 
India-rubber fell suddenly in price, in 1855, when the 
gold again quickly disappeared. About the year 1857, 
new silver coin, issued by the Brazilian Government, 
was introduced ; elegant pieces of money of convenient 
values, answering nearly to our sixpenny, shilling, and 
two shilling pieces. Neither gold, silver, nor paper, 
however, was of much use on a journey like the one I 
had now undertaken. All travellers on the branch 
rivers have to carry cloth, cashaca, and small wares, to 
exchange for produce or food with the Indians ; a small 
quantity of copper money, the only coin whose value is 
understood amongst the remote settlers, being never- 
theless necessary to balance exchanges. When I had to 

* I take this opportunity of mentioning my obligations to Mr. George 
Brocklehurst, of the Para" firm, by whom, during the latter years of my 
travels in the interior, my wants were attended to in the promptest 
and kindest manner. 


send collections down to Para to be shipped for Eng- 
land, which happened three or four times a year, I used 
to arrange with any trader who was dispatching a ves- 
sel to the capital with produce ; the owners very often 
charging nothing for the carriage. Sometimes I had to 
entrust chests full of choice specimens to Indians for a 
voyage of thirty or forty days : a word to the Pilot 
recommending him to keep the boxes free from damp 
was quite sufficient. I never suffered any loss or 

Our course lay due west for about twenty miles. 
The wind increased as we neared Point Cururu, where 
the river bends from its northern course. A vast 
expanse of water here stretches to the west and south, 
and the waves, with a strong breeze, run very high. 
As we were doubling the Point, the cable which held 
our montaria in tow astern, parted, and in endeavour- 
ing to recover the boat, without which we knew it 
would be difficult to get ashore on many parts of the 
coast, we were very near capsizing. We tried to tack 
down the river ; a vain attempt with a strong breeze 
and no current. Our ropes snapped, the sails flew to 
rags, and the vessel, which we now found was deficient 
in ballast, heeled over frightfully. Contrary to Jose's 
advice, I ran the cuberta into a little bay, thinking to 
cast anchor there and wait for the boat coming up with 
the wind ; but the anchor dragged on the smooth sandy 
bottom, and the vessel went broadside on to the rocky 
beach. With a little dexterous management, but not 
until after we had sustained some severe bumps, we 

Chap. II. ALTAE DO CHAO. 77 

managed to get out of this difficulty, clearing the 
rocky point at a close shave with our jib-sail. Soon 
after we drifted into the smooth water of a sheltered 
bay which leads to the charmingly situated village of 
Altar do Chao; and we were obliged to give up our 
attempt to recover the montaria. . 

The little settlement, Altar do Chao — altar of the 
ground, or Earth altar — owes its singular name to the 
existence at the entrance to the harbour of one of 
those strange flat-topped hills which are so common in 
this part of the Amazons country, shaped like the high 
altar in Roman Catholic churches. It is an isolated 
one and much lower in height than the similarly 
truncated hills and ridges near Almeyrim, being elevated 
probably not more than 300 feet above the level of the 
river. It is bare of trees, but covered in places with 
a species of fern. At the head of the bay is an inner 
harbour which communicates by a channel with a 
series of lakes lying in the valleys between hills and 
stretching far into the interior of the land. The 
village is peopled almost entirely by semi-civilised 
Indians to the number of sixty or seventy families, 
and the scattered houses are arranged in broad streets 
on a strip of green sward at the foot of a high, glo- 
riously-wooded ridge. 

We stayed here nine days. As soon as we anchored 
I went ashore and persuaded, by the offer of a hand- 
some reward, two young half-breeds to go in search of 
my missing boat. The head man of the place, Captain 
Thomas, a sleepy-looking mameluco, whom I found in 
his mud-walled cottage in loose shirt and drawers, with 


a large black rosary round his neck, promised me two 
Indians to complete my crew, if I would wait a few 
days until they had finished felling trees for a new 
plantation. Meantime my men had to make a new 
sail and repair the rigging, and I explored the rich 
woods of the vicinity. 

Captain Thomas sent his son one day to show me the 
best paths. A few steps behind the houses we found 
ourselves in the virgin forest. The soil was sandy, and 
the broad path sloped gently up towards the high ridge 
which forms so beautiful a back -ground to the village. 
From the top of the hill a glimpse of the bay is ob- 
tained through the crowns of the trees. The road then 
descends, and so continues for many miles over hill 
and dale. There are no habitations, however, in this 
direction ; the road having been made by people for- 
merly employed in felling timber. The forest at Altai- 
do Chao is noted for its riches in choice woods, and 
its large laurel and Itauba trees, which are used in 
building river schooners. The beautiful tortoise-shell 
wood, Moira pinima, minutely barred and spotted 
with red and black, which is made into walking- 
sticks by Brazilian carpenters, and exported as such 
in some numbers to Portugal, was formerly abundant 
here ; it is the heart-wood of a tree I believe unknown 
to science, and is obtainable only in logs a few inches 
in diameter. The Moira coatiara (striped wood), a 
most beautiful material for cabinet work, being close- 
grained and richly streaked with chocolate-brown on a 
yellow ground, is another of these, and is also the 
heart-wood of a tree, but obtainable in logs a foot or 


more in diameter and ten feet in length. A rare 
wood called Sapu-pira, of excessively hard texture, 
deep brown in colour, thickly speckled with yellow, 
is also a product of these forests. Captain Thomas 
showed me a mortar, four feet high, for pounding coffee, 
made of it. Many other kinds of ornamental and use- 
ful timber are met with,, including a kind of box, which 
I saw made into carpenters' planes ; ebony and marupa ; 
the last-mentioned a light whitish wood of the same 
texture as mahogany. Although the trees have been 
felled near the village, more of the same kinds are said 
to exist in the forest, which extends to an unknown 
distance in the interior. I heard here, also, of the 
Murure, a lofty tree which yields a yellow milk of 
remarkable virtues, on making incisions in the bark. 
It is called by the Portuguese Mercurio vegetal, or 
vegetable mercury, from the cures it effects when taken 
internally in syphilitic rheumatism. It is said to pro- 
duce terrible pains in the limbs soon after it is taken, 
but the cure is certain. I was never able to get a sight 
of this tree. Captain Thomas said that the only 
specimen he knew of it, had been cut down. Persons 
in Santarem had attempted to send samples of the 
milk to Europe for experiment, but they had failed on 
account of the stone bottles in which it was contained 
always bursting in transit. 

We walked two or three miles along this dark and 
silent forest road, and then struck off through the 
thicket to another path running parallel to it, by which 
we returned to the village. About half way we passed 
through a tract of wood, densely overgrown with the 


Curua palm tree ; the natives call a place of this kind 
a Pindobal. The rigid, elegantly pinnated leaves, 
twenty feet in length, grow, as I have before described, 
directly out of the ground. I had frequently occasion 
to notice in the virgin forests some one kind of palm, 
growing abundantly in society in one limited tract 
although scarce elsewhere, no difference of soil, alti- 
tude, or humidity being apparent to account for the 
phenomenon. The Pindobal covered an area of pro- 
bably four or five acres, and the whole lay under the 
shade of the tall forest trees. The last half mile of 
our road led through a more humid part of the forest 
near the low shores of the lake. We here saw a 
Couxio monkey (Pithecia satanas), a large black species 
which, as I have before mentioned, has a thick cap of 
hair on the head parted at the crown. He was seated 
alone on a branch fingering a cluster of flowers that 
lay within his reach. My companion fired at him, but 
missed, and he then slowly moved away. The borders 
of the path were enlivened with troojDS of small and 
delicate butterflies. I succeeded in capturing, in about 
half an hour, no less than eight species of one genus, 
Mesosemia ; a group remarkable for having the wings 
ornamented with central eye-like spots encircled by fine 
black and gray concentric lines arranged in different 
patterns according to the species. 

I was so much pleased with the situation of this set- 
tlement, and the number of rare birds and insects 
which tenanted the forest, that I revisited it in the 
following year, and spent four months making collec- 


tions. The village itself is a neglected, poverty-stricken 
place : the governor (Captain of Trabalhaclores or Indian 
workmen) being an old, apathetic half-breed, who had 
spent all his life here. The priest was a most profligate 
character ; I seldom saw him sober ; he was a white, 
however, and a man of good ability. I may as well 
mention here, that a moral and zealous priest is a great 
rarity in this province : the only ministers of religion in 
the whole country who appeared sincere in their calling, 
being the Bishop of Para and the Vicars of Ega on 
the Upper Amazons and Obydos. The houses in the 
village swarmed with vermin ; bats in the thatch ; fire- 
ants (formiga de fogo) under the floors ; cockroaches 
and spiders on the walls. Very few of them had 
wooden doors and locks. Altar do Chao was originally 
a settlement of the aborigines, and was called Burari. 
The Indians were always hostile to the Portuguese, and 
during the disorders of 1835-6 joined the rebels in 
the attack on Santarem. Few of them escaped the 
subsequent slaughter, and for this reason there is now 
scarcely an old or middle-aged man in the place. As 
in all the semi-civilised villages where the original 
orderly and industrious habits of the Indian have been 
lost without anything being learnt from the whites to 
make amends, the inhabitants live in the greatest 
poverty. The scarcity of fish in the clear waters and 
rocky bays of the neighbourhood is no doubt partly the 
cause of the poverty and perennial hunger which 
reign here. When we arrived in the port our canoe 
was crowded with the half-naked villagers — men, 
women, and children, who came to beg each a piece of 

VOL. II. g 


.salt pirarucu ''for the love of God." They are not 
quite so badly off in the dry season. The shallow 
lakes and bays then contain plenty of fish, and the 
boys and women go out at night to spear them by 
torchlight ; the torches being made of thin strips of 
green bark from the leaf-stalks of palms, tied in bun- 
dles. Many excellent kinds of fish are thus obtained ; 
amongst them the Pescada, whose white and flaky 
flesh, when boiled, has the appearance and flavour of 
cod-fish ; and the Tucunare (Cichla temensis), a hand- 
some species, with a large prettily-coloured, eye-like 
spot on its tail. Many small Salmonidse are also met 
with, and a kind of sole, called Aramassa, which moves 
along the clear sandy bottom of the bay. At these 
times a species of sting-ray is common on the sloping 
beach, and bathers are frequently stung most severely 
by it. The weapon of this fish is a strong blade with 
jagged edges, about three inches long, growing from the 
side of the long fleshy tail. I once saw a woman 
wounded by it whilst bathing ; she shrieked frightfully, 
and was obliged to be carried to her hammock, where 
she lay for a week in great pain; I have known 
strong men to be lamed for many months by the 

There was a mode of taking fish here which I had 
not before seen employed, but found afterwards to be 
very common on the Tapajos. This is by using a poison- 
ous liana called Timbo (Paullinia pinnata). It will act 
only in the still waters of creeks and pools. A few rods, 
a yard in length, are mashed and soaked in the water, 
which quickly becomes discoloured with the milky do- 

Chap. II. PUCHEKUMS. 83 

leterious juice of the plant. In about half an hour all 
the smaller fishes, over a rather wide space around the 
spot, rise to the surface floating on their sides, and 
with the gills wide open. The poison acts evidently 
by suffocating the fishes ; it spreads slowly in the water, 
and a very slight mixture seems sufficient to stupify 
them. I was surprised, on beating the water in places 
where no fishes were visible in the clear depths for 
many yards round, to find, sooner or later, sometimes 24 
hours afterwards, a considerable number floating dead 
on the surface. 

The people occupy themselves the greater part of the 
year with their small plantations of mandioca. All the 
heavy work, such as felling and burning the timber, 
planting and weeding, is done in the plantation of each 
family by a congregation of neighbours, which they call 
a "pucherum:" — a similar custom to the "bee" in 
the backwood settlements of North America. They 
make quite a holiday of each pucherum. When the 
invitation is issued, the family prepares a great quantity 
of fermented drink, called in this part Taroba, from 
soaked mandioca cakes, and porridge of Manicueira. 
This latter is a kind of sweet mandioca, very different 
from the Yuca of the Peruvians and Macasheira of 
the Brazilians (Manihot Aypi), having oblong juicy 
roots, which become very sweet a few days after 
they are gathered. With these simple provisions they 
regale their helpers. The work is certainly done, 
but after a very rude fashion ; all become soddened 
with Taroba, and the day finishes often in a drunken 

g 2 


The climate is rather more humid than that of 
Santarem. I suppose this is to be attributed to the 
neighbouring country being densely wooded, instead of 
an open campo. In no part of the country did I enjoy 
more the moonlit nights than here, in the dry season. 
After the day's work was done I used to go down to the 
shores of the bay, and lay all my length on the cool 
sand for two or three hours before bed-time. The soft 
pale light, resting on the broad sandy beaches and palm- 
thatched huts, reproduced the effect of a mid-winter scene 
in the cold north when a coating of snow lies on the land- 
scape. A heavy shower falls about once a week, and 
the shrubby vegetation never becomes parched up as at 
Santarem. Between the rains the heat and dryness in- 
crease from day to day : the weather on the first day 
after the rain is gleamy with intervals of melting 
sunshine and passing clouds ; the next day is rather 
drier, and the east wind begins to blow ; then follow 
days of cloudless sky, with gradually increasing strength 
of breeze. When this has continued about a week a 
light mistiness begins to gather about the horizon ; 
clouds are formed ; grumbling thunder is heard, and 
then, generally in the night-time, down falls the re- 
freshing rain. The sudden chill caused by the rains 
produces colds, which are accompanied by the same 
symptoms as in our own climate ; with this exception 
the place is very healthy. 

Jane 17th, — The two young men returned without 
meeting with my montaria, and I found it impossible 
here to buy a new one. Captain Thomas could find me 
only one hand. This was a blunt-spoken but willing 


young Indian, named Manoel. He came on board this 
morning at eight o'clock, and we then got up our anchor 
and resumed our voyage. 

The wind was light and variable all day, and we 
made only about fifteen miles by seven o'clock in the 
evening. The coast formed a succession of long, shallow 
bays with sandy beaches, on which the waves broke in 
a long line of surf. Ten miles above Altar do Chao is a 
conspicuous headland, called Point Cajetuba. During 
a lull of the wind, towards midday, we ran the cuberta 
aground in shallow water and waded ashore, but the 
woods were scarcely penetrable, and not a bird was to 
be seen. The only thing observed worthy of note, was 
the quantity of drowned winged ants along the beach ; 
they were all of one species, the terrible formiga de fogo 
(Myraiica saevissima) ; the dead, or half-dead bodies of 
which were heaped up in a line an inch or two in height 
and breadth, the line continuing without interruption 
for miles at the edge of the water. The countless 
thousands had been doubtless cast into the river whilst 
flying during a sudden squall the night before, and after- 
wards cast ashore by the waves. We found ourselves 
at seven o'clock near the mouth of a creek leading 
to a small lake, called Aramana-i, and the wind having 
died away, we anchored, guided by the lights ashore, 
near the house of a settler, named Jeronymo, whom I 
knew, and who, soon after, showed us a snug little 
harbour, where we could remain in safety for the night. 
The river here cannot be less than ten miles broad ; it 
is quite clear of islands and free from shoals at this 
season of the year. The opposite coast appeared in the 


daytime as a long thin line of forest, with dim gray 
hills in the back ground. 

June 18th and 19th. — Senhor Jeronymo promised to 
sell me a montaria, so I waited for three hours after 
sunrise the next morning, expecting it to be forth- 
coming, but in vain. I sent Pinto and afterwards 
Jose to enquire about it, but they, instead of perform- 
ing the errand, joined the easy-natured master of the 
house in a morning carousal. I was obliged, when my 
patience was exhausted, to go after them, having to 
clamber down a projecting bough, in the absence of a 
boat, to get ashore ; and then found my two men, their 
host, and two or three neighbours, lolling in hammocks, 
tinkling wire guitars, and drinking cashaca. I mention 
this as a sample of a very common class of incidents in 
Brazilian travelling. Master Jeronymo backed out of 
his promise regarding the montaria. Jose and Pinto, 
who seemed to think they had done nothing wrong, 
sulkily obeyed my order to go on board, and we again 
got under way. The wind failed us on the 18th to- 
wards three p.m. About six miles above Aramana-i we 
rounded a rocky point, called Acaratingari, the distance 
travelled being altogether not more than twelve miles. 
The greater part of the day was thus lost : we passed 
the night in a snug little harbour sheltered by trees. 

To-day (19 th) we had a good wind, which carried us 
to the mouth of a creek, called Paquiatuba, where the 
" inspector " of the district lived, Senhor Cypriano, for 
whom I had brought an order from Captain Thomas to 
supply me with another hand. We had great difficulty 
in finding a place to land. The coast in this part 


was a tract of level, densely-wooded country, through 
which flowed the winding rivulet, or creek, which gives 
its name to a small scattered settlement hidden in the 
wilderness ; the hills here receding two or three miles 
towards the interior. A large portion of the forest 
was flooded, the trunks of the very high trees near the 
mouth of the creek standing 18 feet deep in water. 
We lost two hours working our way with poles through 
the inundated woods in search of the port. Every inlet 
we tried ended in a labyrinth choked up with bushes, 
but we were at length guided to the right place by the 
crowing of cocks. On shouting for a montaria an 
Indian boy made his appearance, guiding one through 
the gloomy thickets ; but he was so alarmed, I suppose 
at the apparition of a strange-looking white man in 
spectacles bawling from the prow of the vessel, that he 
shot back quickly into the bushes. He returned when 
Manoel spoke, and we went ashore : the montaria wind- 
ing along a gloomy overshadowed water-path, made by 
cutting away the lower branches and underwood. The 
foot-road to the houses was a narrow, sandy alley, bor- 
dered by trees of stupendous height, overrun with 
creepers, and having an unusual number of long air- 
roots dangling from the epiphytes on their branches. 

After passing one low smoky little hut, half-buried in 
foliage, the path branched off in various directions, and 
the boy having left us we took the wrong turn. We 
were brought to a stand soon after by the barking of 
dogs ; and on shouting, as is customary on approaching 
a dwelling, "0 da casa!" (Oh of the house!) a dark- 
skinned native, a Cafuzo, with a most unpleasant ex- 


pression of countenance, came forth through the tangled 
maze of bushes, armed with a long knife, with which he 
pretended to be whittling a stick. He directed us to 
the house of Cypriano, which was about a mile distant 
along another forest road. The circumstance of the 
Cafuzo coming out armed to receive visitors very much 
astonished my companions, who talked it over at every 
place we visited for several days afterwards ; the freest 
and most unsuspecting welcome in these retired places 
being always counted upon by strangers. But, as Ma- 
noel remarked, the fellow may have been one of the 
unpardoned rebel leaders who had settled here after 
the recapture of Santarem in 1836, and lived in fear of 
being enquired for by the authorities of Santarem. After 
all our trouble we found Cypriano absent from home. 
His house was a large one, and full of people, old and 
young, women and children, all of whom were Indians 
or mamelucos. Several smaller huts surrounded the 
large dwelling, besides extensive open sheds containing 
mandioca ovens and rude wooden mills for grinding 
sugar-cane to make molasses. All the buildings were 
embosomed in trees : it would be scarcely possible to 
find a more retired nook, and an air of contentment was 
spread over the whole establishment. Cypriano' s wife, 
a good-looking mameluco girl, was superintending the 
packing of farinha. Two or three old women, seated on 
mats, were making baskets with narrow strips of bark 
from the leaf-stalks of palms, whilst others were occu- 
pied lining them with the broad leaves of a species of 
maranta, and filling them afterwards with farinha, which 
was previously measured in a rude square vessel. It 

Chap. II. FIRE-ANTS. 89 

appeared that Senhor Cypriano was a large producer of 
the article, selling 300 baskets (sixty pounds' weight 
each) annually to Santarem traders. I was sorry we were 
unable to see him, but it was useless waiting, as we were 
told all the men were at present occupied in "puche- 
rums," and he would be unable to give me the assistance 
I required. We returned to the canoe in the evening, 
and, after moving out into the river, anchored and slept. 

June 20th. — We had a light, baffling wind off shore 
all day on the 20th, and made but fourteen or fifteen 
miles by six p.m. ; when, the wind failing us, we anchored 
at the mouth of a narrow channel, called Tapaiuna, 
which runs between a large island and the mainland. 
About three o'clock we passed in front of Boim, a village 
on the opposite (western) coast. The breadth of the 
river is here six or seven miles : a confused patch of 
white on the high land opposite was all we saw of the 
village, the separate houses being undistinguishable on 
account of the distance. The coast along which we 
sailed to-day is a continuation of the low and flooded 
land of Paquiatuba. 

June 2\st — The next morning we sailed along the 
Tapaiuna channel, which is from 400 to 600 yards in 
breadth. We advanced but slowly, as the wind was 
generally dead against us, and stopped frequently to 
ramble ashore. Wherever the landing-place was sandy 
it was impossible to walk about, on account of the 
swarms of the terrible fire-ant, whose sting is likened 
by the Brazilians to the puncture of a red-hot needle. 
There was scarcely a square inch of ground free from 
them. About three p.m. we glided into a quiet, shady 


creek, on whose banks an industrious white settler had 
located himself. I resolved to pass the rest of the clay 
and night here, and endeavour to obtain a fresh supply 
of provisions, our stock of salt beef being now nearly 
exhausted. The situation of the house was beautiful ; 
the little harbour being gay with water plants, Ponte- 
derise, now full of purple blossom, from which flocks of 
Piosocas started up screaming as we entered. The 
owner sent a boy with my men to show them the best 
place for fish up the creek, and in the course of the 
evening sold me a number of fowls, besides baskets of 
beans and farinha. The result of the fishing was a good 
supply of Jandia, a handsome spotted Siluride fish, 
and Piranha, a kind of Salmonidse (Tetragonopterus) . 
Piranhas are of several kinds, many of which abound 
in the waters of the Tapajos. They are caught with 
almost any kind of bait, for their taste is indiscriminate 
and their appetite most ravenous. They often attack 
the legs of bathers near the shore, inflicting severe 
wounds with their strong triangular teeth. At Paquia- 
tuba and this place I added about twenty species of 
small fishes to my collection ; caught by hook and line, 
or with the hand in shallow pools under the shade of 
the forest. 

My men slept ashore, and on their coming aboard in 
the morning Pinto was drunk and insolent. According 
to Jose, who had kept himself sober, and was alarmed 
at the other's violent conduct, the owner of the house 
and Pinto had spent the greater part of the night toge- 
ther, drinking aguardente de beiju, — a spirit distilled 
from the mandioca root. We knew nothing of the 


antecedents of this man, who was a tall, strong, self- 
willed fellow, and it began to dawn on us that this was 
not a very safe travelling companion in a wild country 
like this. I thought it better now to make the best of 
our way to the next settlement, Aveyros, and get rid of 
him. Our course to-day lay along a high, rocky coast, 
which extended without a break for about eight miles. 
The height of the perpendicular rocks was from 100 
to 150 feet ; ferns and flowering shrubs grew in the 
crevices, and the summit supported a luxuriant growth 
of forest, like the rest of the river banks. The waves 
beat with loud roar at the foot of these inhospitable 
barriers. At two p.m. we passed the mouth of a small 
picturesque harbour, formed by a gap in the precipitous 
coast. Several families have here settled ; the place is 
called Ita-puama, or " standing rock," from a remarkable 
isolated cliff, which stands erect at the entrance to the 
little haven. A short distance beyond Ita-puama we 
found ourselves opposite to the village of Pinhel, which 
is perched, like Boim, on high ground, on the western 
side of the river. The stream is here from six to seven 
miles wide. A line of low islets extends in front of 
Pinhel, and a little further to the south is a larger 
island, called Capitari, which lies nearly in the middle 
of the river. 

Jvme 23rd. — The wind freshened at ten o'clock in 
the morning of the 23rd. A thick black cloud then 
began t© spread itself over the sky a long way down the 
river ; the storm which it portended, however, did not 
reach us, as the dark threatening mass crossed from 
east to west, and the only effect it had was to impel a 


column of cold air up river, creating a breeze with which 
we bounded rapidly forward. The wind in the afternoon 
strengthened to a gale ; we carried on with one foresail 
only, two of the men holding on to the boom to prevent 
the whole thing from flying to pieces. The rocky coast 
continued for about twelve miles above Ita-puama : then 
succeeded a tract of low marshy land, which had 
evidently been once an island whose channel of separa- 
tion from the mainland had become silted up. The 
island of Capitari and another group of islets succeeding 
it, called Jacare, on the opposite side, helped also to 
contract at this point the breadth of the river, which 
was now not more than about three miles. The little 
cuberta almost flew along this coast, there being no 
perceptible current, past extensive swamps, margined 
with thick floating grasses. At length, on rounding a 
low point, higher land again appeared on the right bank 
of the river, and the village of Aveyros hove in sight, in 
the port of which we cast anchor late in the afternoon. 

Aveyros is a small settlement, containing only four- 
teen or fifteen houses besides the church ; but it is the 
place of residence of the authorities of a large district ; 
the priest, Juiz de Paz, the subdelegado of police, and 
the Captain of the Trabalhadores. The district includes 
Pinhel, which we passed about twenty miles lower down 
on the left bank of the river. Five miles beyond 
Aveyros, and also on the left bank, is the missionary 
village of Santa Cruz, comprising thirty or forty families 
of baptised Mundurucu Indians, who are at present 
under the management of a Capuchin Friar, and are 
independent of the Captain of Trabalhadores of Aveyros. 


The river view frQin this point towards the south was 
very grand ; the stream is from two to three miles 
broad, with green islets resting on its surface, and on 
each side a chain of hills stretches away in long per- 
spective. I resolved to stay here for a few weeks to 
make collections. On landing, my first care was to 
obtain a house or room that I might live ashore. This 
was soon arranged ; the head man of the place, Captain 
Antonio, having received notice of my coming, so that 
before night all the chests and apparatus I required 
wei*e housed and put in order for working. 

I here dismissed Pinto, who again got drunk and 
quarrelsome a few hours after he came ashore. He left 
the next day to my great relief in a small trading 
canoe that touched at the place on its way to Santarem. 
The Indian Manoel took his leave at the same time, 
having engaged to accompany me only as far as 
Aveyros ; I was then dependent on Captain Antonio 
for fresh hands. The captains of Trabalhadores are 
appointed by the Brazilian Government, to embody the 
scattered Indian labourers and canoe-men of their 
respective districts, to the end that they may supply 
passing travellers with men when required. A semi- 
military organisation is given to the bodies ; some of 
the steadiest amongst the Indians themselves being 
nominated as sergeants, and all the members mustered 
at the principal village of their district twice a-year. 
The captains, however, universally abuse their autho- 
rity, monopolising the service of the men for their own 
purposes, so that it is only by favour that the loan of a 
canoe-hand can be wrung from them. I was treated 


by Captain Antonio with great consideration, and 
promised two good Indians when I should be ready to 
continue my voyage. 

Little happened worth narrating, during my forty 
days' stay at Aveyros. The time was spent in the 
quiet, regular pursuit of Natural History : every morn- 
ing I had my long ramble in the forest, which extended 
to the back-doors of the houses, and the afternoons 
were occupied in preserving and studying the objects 
collected. The priest was a lively old man, but rather 
a bore from being able to talk of scarcely anything ex- 
cept homoeopathy, having been smitten with the mania 
during a recent visit to Santarem. He had a Portu- 
guese Homoeopathic Dictionary, and a little leather 
case containing glass tubes filled with globules, with 
which he was doctoring the whole village. A bitter 
enmity seemed to exist between the female members 
of the priest's family and those of the captain's ; the 
only white women in the settlement. It was amusing 
to notice how they flaunted past each other, when going 
to church on Sundays, in their starched muslin dresses. 
I found an intelligent young man living here, a native 
of the province of Goyaz, who was exploring the neigh- 
bourhood for gold and diamonds. He had made one 
journey up a branch river, and declared to me, that 
he had found one diamond, but was unable to con- 
tinue his researches, because the Indians who accom- 
panied him refused to remain any longer : he was 
now waiting for Captain Antonio to assist him with 
fresh men, having offered him in return a share in the 
results of the enterprise. There appeared to be no 


doubt, that gold is occasionally found within two or 
three days' journey of Aveyros ; but all lengthened 
search is made impossible by the scarcity of food and 
the impatience of the Indians, who see no value in the 
precious metal, and abhor the tediousness of the gold- 
searcher's occupation. It is impossible to do without 
them, as they are required to paddle the canoes. 

The weather, during the month of July, was uninter- 
ruptedly fine ; not a drop of rain fell, and the river sank 
rapidly. The mornings, for two hours after sunrise, 
were very cold ; we were glad to wrap ourselves in 
blankets on turning out of our hammocks, and walk 
about at a quick pace in the ea^ly sunshine. But in the 
afternoons the heat was sickening ; for the glowing sun 
then shone full on the front of the row of whitewashed 
houses, and there was seldom any wind to moderate 
its effects. I began now to understand why the branch 
rivers of the Amazons were so unhealthy, whilst the 
main stream was pretty nearly free from diseases aris- 
ing from malaria. The cause lies, without doubt, in the 
slack currents of the tributaries in the dry season, and 
the absence of the cooling Amazonian trade-wind, which 
purifies the air along the banks of the main river. The 
trade-wind does not deviate from its nearly straight 
westerly course, so that the branch streams, which run 
generally at right angles to the Amazons, and have a 
slack current for a long distance from their mouths, are 
left to the horrors of nearly stagnant air and water. 

Aveyros may be called the head-quarters of the 
fire-ant, which might be fittingly termed the scourge 
of this fine river. The Tapajos is nearly free from 


the insect pests of other parts, mosquitoes, sand-flies, 
Motucas and piums ; but the formiga de fogo is per- 
haps a greater plague than all the others put toge- 
ther. It is found only on sandy soils in open places, 
and seems to thrive most in the neighbourhood of houses 
and weedy villages, such as Aveyros : it does not occur 
at all in the shades of the forest. I noticed it in most 
places on the banks of the Amazons, but the species is 
not very common on the main river, and its presence is 
there scarcely noticed, because it does not attack man, 
and the sting is not so virulent as it is in the same spe- 
cies on the banks of the Tapajos. Aveyros was deserted 
a few years before my v^sit on account of this little tor- 
mentor, and the inhabitants had only recently returned 
to their houses, thinking its numbers had decreased. 
It is a small species, of a shining reddish colour, not 
oreatly differing from the common red stinging ant of 
our own country (Myrmica rubra), except that the pain 
and irritation caused by its sting are much greater. 
The soil of the whole village is undermined by it : 
the ground is perforated with the entrances to their 
subterranean galleries, and a little sandy dome occurs 
here and there, where the insects bring their young to 
receive warmth near the surface. The houses are over- 
run with them ; they dispute every fragment of food 
with the inhabitants, and destroy clothing for the sake 
of the starch. All eatables are obliged to be suspended 
in baskets from the rafters, and the cords well soaked 
with copaiiba balsam, which is the only means known of 
preventing them from climbing. They seem to attack 
persons out of sheer malice : if we stood for a few 


moments in the street, even at a distance from their 
nests, we were sure to be overrun and severely punished, 
for the moment an ant touched the flesh, he secured 
himself with his jaws, doubled in his tail, and stung with 
all his might. When we were seated on chairs in the 
evenings in front of the house to enjoy a chat with our 
neighbours, we had stools to support our feet, the legs of 
which as well as those of the chairs, were well anointed 
with the balsam. The cords of hammocks are obliged 
to be smeared in the same way to prevent the ants from 
paying sleepers a "visit. 

The inhabitants declare that the fire-ant was unknown 
on the Tapajos, before the disorders of 1835-6, and be- 
lieve that the hosts sprang up from the blood of the 
slaughtered Cabanas. They have, doubtless, increased 
since that time, but the cause lies in the depopulation 
of the villages and the rank growth of weeds in the 
previously cleared, well-kept spaces. I have already 
described the line of sediment formed on the sandy 
shores lower down the river by the dead bodies of the 
winged individuals of this species. The exodus from 
their nests of the males and females takes place at the 
end of the rainy season (June), when the swarms are 
blown into the river by squalls of wind, and subsequently 
cast ashore by the waves. I was told that this wholesale 
destruction of ant-life takes place annually, and that 
the same compact heap of dead bodies which I saw only 
in part, extends along the banks of the river for twelve 
or fifteen miles. 

The forest behind Aveyros yielded me little except 
insects, but in these it was very rich. It is not too 



dense, and broad sunny paths skirted by luxuriant beds 
of Lycopodiums, which form attractive sporting places 
for insects, extend from the village to a swampy hollow 
or ygapo, which lies about a mile inland. Of butter- 
flies alone I enumerated fully 300 species, captured or 
seen in the course of forty days within a half-hour's 
walk of the village. This is a greater number than 
is found in the whole of Europe. The only monkey I 
observed was the Callithrix moloch — one of the kinds 
called by the Indians Whaiapu-sai. It is a moderately- 
sized species, clothed with long brown hair, and hav- 
ing hands of a whitish hue. Although nearly allied 
to the Cebi it has none of their restless vivacity, but 
is a dull, listless animal. It goes in small flocks of five 
or six individuals, running along the main boughs of 
the trees. One of the specimens which I obtained 
here was caught on a low fruit-tree at the back of our 
house at sunrise one morning. This was the only 
instance of a monkey being captured in such a position 
that I ever heard of. As the tree was isolated it must 
have descended to the ground from the neighbouring 
forest and walked some distance to get at it. The 
species is sometimes kept in a tame state by the 
natives : it does not make a very amusing pet, and 
survives captivity only a short time. 

I heard that the white Cebus, the Caiarara branca, a 
kind of monkey I had not yet seen, and wished very 
much to obtain, inhabited the forests on the opposite 
side of the river ; so one day on an opportunity .being 
afforded by our host going over in a large boat, I 
crossed to go in search of it. We were about twenty per- 


sons in all, and the boat was an old ricketty affair with 
the gaping seams rudely stuffed with tow and pitch. 
In addition to the human freight we took three sheep 
with us, which Captain Antonio had just received from 
Santarem and was going to add to his new cattle farm 
on the other side. Ten Indian paddlers carried us 
quickly across. The breadth of the river could not be 
less than three miles, and the current was scarcely 
perceptible. When a boat has to cross the main 
Amazons, it is obliged to ascend along the banks for 
half a mile or more to allow for drifting by the current ; 
in this lower part of the Tapajos this is not necessary. 
"When about half-way, the sheep, in moving about, 
kicked a hole in the bottom of the boat. The passen- 
gers took the matter very coolly, although the water 
spouted up alarmingly, and I thought we should inevit- 
ably be swamped. Captain Antonio took off his socks 
to stop the leak, inviting me and the Juiz de paz, who 
was one of the party, to do the same, whilst two In- 
dians baled out the water with large cuyas. We thus 
managed to keep afloat until we reached our destina- 
tion, when the men patched up the leak for our return 

The landing-place lay a short distance within the 
mouth of a shady inlet, on whose banks, hidden amongst 
the dense woods, were the houses of a few Indian and 
mameluco settlers. The path to the cattle farm led 
first through a tract of swampy forest ; it then ascended 
a slope and emerged on a fine sweep of prairie, varied 
with patches of timber. The wooded portion occupied 
the hollows where the soil was of a rich chocolate- 

h 2 


brown colour, and of a peaty nature. The higher 
grassy undulating parts of the campo had a lighter and 
more sandy soil. Leaving our friends, I and Jose took 
our guns and dived into the woods in search of the 
monkeys. As we walked rapidly along I was very 
near treading on a rattlesnake which lay stretched out 
nearly in a straight line on the bare sandy pathway. 
It made no movement to get out of the way, and I 
escaped the danger by a timely and sudden leap, being- 
unable to check my steps in the hurried walk. We 
tried to excite the sluggish reptile by throwing hands- 
full of sand and sticks at it, but the only notice it took 
was to raise its ugly horny tail and shake its rattle. 
At length it began to move rather nimbly, when we 
despatched it by a blow on the head with a pole, not 
wishing to fire on account of alarming our game. 

We saw nothing of the white Caiarara ; we met, 
however, with a flock of the common light-brown allied 
species (Cebus albifrons ?), and killed one as a speci- 
men. A resident on this side of the river told us that 
the white kind was found further to the south, beyond 
Santa Cruz. The light-brown Caiarara is pretty gene- 
rally distributed over the forests of the level country. 
I saw it very frequently on the banks of the Upper 
Amazons, where it was always a treat to watch a flock 
leaping amongst the trees, for it is the most wonderful 
performer in this line of the whole tribe. The troops 
consist of thirty or more individuals which travel in 
single file. When the foremost of the flock reaches 
the outermost branch of an unusually lofty tree, he 
springs forth into the air without a moment's hesitation 

Chap. II. CEBI MONKEYS. 101 

and alights on the dome of yielding foliage belonging 
to the neighbouring tree, maybe fifty feet beneath ; all 
the rest following the example. They grasp, on falling, 
with hands and tail, right themselves in a moment, and 
then away they go along branch and bough to the next 
tree. The Caiarara owes its name in the Tupi lan- 
guage, macaw or large-headed (Acain, head, and Arara 
macaw), to the disproportionate size of the head com- 
pared with the rest of the body. It is very frequently 
kept as a pet in houses of natives. I kept one myself 
for about a year, which accompanied me in my voyages 
and became very familiar, coming to me always on wet 
nights to share my blanket. It is a most restless 
creature, but is not playful like most of the American 
monkeys ; the restlessness of its disposition seeming to 
arise from great nervous irritability and discontent. 
The anxious, painful, and changeable expression of its 
countenance, and the want of purpose in its move- 
ments, betray this. Its actions are like those of a way- 
ward child ; it does not seem happy even when it has 
plenty of its favourite food, bananas ; but will leave 
its own meal to snatch the morsels out of the hands 
of its companions. It differs in these mental traits 
from its nearest kindred, for another common Cebus, 
found in the same parts of the forest, the Prego mon- 
key (Cebus cirrhifer?), is a much quieter and better- 
tempered animal ; it is full of tricks, but these are 
generally of a playful character. 

The Caiarara keeps the house in a perpetual uproar 
where it is kept : when alarmed, or hungry, or excited 
by envy, it screams piteously ; it is always, however, 


making some noise or other, often screwing up its 
mouth and uttering a succession of loud notes resem- 
bling a whistle. My little pet, when loose, used to run 
after me, supporting itself for some distance on its hind 
legs, without, however, having been taught to do it. 
He offended me greatly one day by killing, in one of 
his jealous fits, another and much choicer pet — the 
nocturnal, owl-faced monkey (Nyctipithecus trivirgatus). 
Some one had given this a fruit, which the other 
coveted, so the two got to quarrelling. The Nycti- 
pithecus fought only with its paws, clawing out and 
hissing like a cat ; the other soon obtained the mastery, 
and before I could interfere, finished his rival by crack- 
ing its skull with his teeth. Upon this I got rid of 

After a ramble of four or five hours, during which 
Jose shot a beautiful green and black-striped lizard of 
the Iguana family, from the trunk of a tree, and I filled 
my insect box with new and rare species (including an 
extremely beautiful butterfly of the genus Heliconius, 
H, Hermathena), we rejoined our companions at a hut, 
in the middle of the campo, where the Indians lived 
who had charge of the cattle. A tract of land like this, 
several miles in extent, alternating prairie and wood- 
land, would be a rich possession in a better peopled 
country. The few oxen seemed to thrive on the nu- 
tritious grasses, and to make all complete there was a 
little lake in the low grounds, surrounded by fan-leaved 
Carana palms, where the cattle could be watered all the 
year round. The farm was at present new, and the 
men said they had not yet been visited by jaguars. The 


poor fellows seemed to fare very badly. Captain An- 
tonio treated all his Indians like slaves ; paying them 
no wages and stinting them to scanty rations of salt fish 
and farinha. There was an air of poverty and misery 
over the whole establishment, which produced a very- 
disagreeable impression : these are certainly not the 
people to develope the resources of a fine country like 

On recrossing the river to Aveyros in the evening, a 
pretty little parrot fell from a great height headlong into 
the water near the boat ; having dropped from a flock 
which seemed to be fighting- in the air. One of the In- 
dians secured it for me, and I was surprised to find the 
bird uninjured. There had probably been a quarrel 
about mates, resulting in our little stranger being tem- 
porarily stunned by a blow on the head from the beak 
of a jealous comrade. The species was the Conurus 
guianensis, called by the natives Maracana ; the plumage 
green, with a patch of scarlet under the wings. I 
wished to keep the bird alive and tame it, but all our 
efforts to reconcile it to captivity were vain ; it refused 
food, bit every one who went near it, and damaged its 
plumage in its exertions to free itself. My friends in 
Aveyros said that this kind of parrot never became do- 
mesticated. After trying nearly a week I was recom- 
mended to lend the intractable creature to an old 
Indian woman, living in the village, who was said to 
be a skilful bird-tamer. In two days she. brought it 
back almost as tame as the familiar love-birds of our 
aviaries. I kept my little pet for upwards of two 
years ; it learned to talk pretty well, and was con- 


sidered quite a wonder as being a bird usually so dif- 
ficult of domestication. I do not know what arts the 
old woman used : Captain Antonio said she fed it with 
her saliva. The chief reason why almost all animals 
become so wonderfully tame in the houses of the 
natives is, I believe, their being treated with uniform 
gentleness, and allowed to run at large about the rooms. 
Our Maracana used to accompany us sometimes in our 
rambles, one of the lads carrying it on his head. One 
day, in the middle of a long forest road, it was missed, 
having clung probably to an overhanging bough and 
escaped into the thickets without the boy perceiving it. 
Three hours afterwards, on our return by the same 
path, a voice greeted- us in a colloquial tone as we 
passed " Maracana ! " We looked about for some time, 
but could not see anything until the word was repeated 
with emphasis " Maracana-a ! " when we espied the 
little truant half concealed in the foliage of a tree. He 
came down and delivered himself up evidently as much 
rejoiced at the meeting as we were. 

After I had obtained the two men promised, stout 
young Indians, 17 or 18 years of age, one named 
Ricardo and the other Alberto, I paid a second visit to 
the western side of the river in my own canoe ; being 
determined, if possible, to obtain specimens of the White 
Cebus. We crossed over first to the mission village, 
Santa Cruz. It consists of 30 or 40 wretched-looking 
mud huts, closely built together in three straight ugly 
rows on a high gravelly bank. The place was deserted 
with the exception of two or three old men and women 
and a few children. The missionary, Fre Isidro, an 


Italian monk, was away at another station called Wishi- 
tiiba, two days' journey farther up the river. Report 
said of him that he had no zeal for religion or devotion 
to his calling, but was occupied in trading, using the 
Indian proselytes to collect salsaparilla and so forth, with 
a view to making a purse wherewith to retire to his 
own country. The semi-civilised Indians, who speak the 
Tupi language, called him Pai tuciira, or Father Grass- 
hopper : his peaked hood having a droll resemblance to 
the pointed head of the insect. I afterwards became 
acquainted with Fre Isidoro, and found him a man of 
superior intelligence and ability. He complained much 
of the ill treatment the Indians received at the hands 
of traders and the Brazilian civil authorities, and said 
that he and his predecessors had incessantly to contend 
for the rights secured to the aborigines by the laws of 
the empire. The plan of assembling families in formal, 
blank-looking settlements, like this of Santa Cruz, 
seemed to me very ill chosen. The Indians would be 
happier in their scattered wigwams, embowered in 
foliage on the banks of shady rivulets where they 
prefer to settle when left to themselves. 

A narrow belt of wood runs behind the village : be- 
yond this is an elevated barren campo, with a clayey 
and gravelly soil. To the south the coast country is of 
a similar description ; a succession of scantily-wooded 
hills, bare grassy spaces, and richly-timbered hollows. 
We traversed forest and campo in various directions 
during three days without meeting with monkeys, or in- 
deed with anything that repaid us the time and trouble. 
The soil of the district appeared too dry ; at this season 


of the year I had noticed, in other parts of the country, 
that mammals and birds resorted to the more humid 
areas of forest, we therefore proceeded to explore care- 
fully the low and partly swampy tract along the coast 
to the north of Santa Cruz. We spent two days in this 
way, landing at many places, and penetrating a good 
distance in the interior. Although unsuccessful with 
regard to the White Cebus, the time was not wholly 
lost, as I added several small birds of species new to my 
collection. On the second evening we surprised a large 
flock, composed of about 50 individuals, of a curious 
eagle with a very long and slender hooked beak, the 
Rostrhamus hamatus. They were perched on the 
bushes which surrounded a shallow lagoon separated 
from the river by a belt of floating grass : my men 
said they fed on toads and lizards found at the margins 
of pools. They formed a beautiful sight as they flew up 
and wheeled about at a great height in the air. We 
obtained only one specimen. 

Before returning to Aveyros, we paid another visit 
to the Jacare inlet leading to Captain Antonio's cattle 
farm, for the sake of securing further specimens of the 
many rare and handsome insects found there ; landing 
at the port of one of the settlers. The owner of the 
house was not at home, and the wife, a buxom young 
woman, a dark mameluca, with clear though dark com- 
plexion and fine rosy cheeks, was preparing, in company 
with another stout-built Amazon, her rod and lines to 
go out fishing for the day's dinner. It was now the 
season for Tucunare's, and Senhora Joaquina showed us 
the fly baits used to take this kind of fish, which she 


had made with her own hands of parrots' feathers. 
The rods used are slender bamboos, and the lines made 
from the fibres of pine-apple leaves. It is not very 
common for the Indian and half-caste women to pro- 
vide for themselves in the way these spirited dames 
were doing, although they are all expert paddlers, and 
very frequently cross wide rivers in their frail boats 
without the aid of men. It is possible that parties of 
Indian women, seen travelling alone in this manner, 
may have given rise to the fable of a nation of Amazons 
invented by the first Spanish explorers of the country. 
Senhora Joaquina invited me and Jose to a Tucunare 
dinner for the afternoon, and then shouldering their 
paddles and tucking up their skirts, the two dusky 
fisherwomen marched down to their canoe. We sent 
the two Indians into the woods to cut palm-leaves to 
mend the thatch of our cuberta, whilst I and Jose 
rambled through the woods which skirted the campo. 
On our return, we found a most bountiful spread in the 
house of our hostess. A spotless white cloth was laid 
on the mat, with a plate for each guest and a pile of 
fragrant newly-made farinha by the side of it. The 
boiled Tucunares were soon taken from the kettles and 
set before us. I thought the men must be happy hus- 
bands who owned such wives as these. The Indian 
and mameluco women certainly do make excellent 
managers ; they are more industrious than the men and 
most of them manufacture farinha for sale on their own 
account, their credit always standing higher with the 
traders on the<river than that of their male connections. 
I was quite surprised at the quantity of fish they had 


taken ; there being sufficient for the whole party, includ- 
ing several children, two old men from a neighbouring 
hut, and my Indians. I made our good-natured enter- 
tainers a small present of needles and sewing-cotton, 
articles very much prized, and soon after we re-em- 
barked, and again crossed the river to Aveyros. 

August 2nd. — Left Aveyros ; having resolved to 
ascend a branch river, the Cupari, which enters the Tapa- 
jos about eight miles above this village, instead of going 
forward along the main stream. I should have liked 
to visit the' settlements of the Mundurucu. tribe which 
lie beyond the first cataract of the Tapajos, if it had 
been compatible with the other objects I had in view. 
But to perform this journey a lighter canoe than mine 
would have been necessary, and six or, eight Indian 
paddlers, which in my case it was utterly impossible 
to obtain. There would be, however, an opportunity of 
seeing this fine race of people on the Cupari, as a horde 
was located towards the head waters of this stream. The 
distance from Aveyros to the last civilised settlement 
on the Tapajos, Itaituba, is about forty miles. The 
falls commence a short distance beyond this place. Ten 
formidable cataracts or rapids then succeed each other 
at intervals of a few miles : the chief of which are 
the Coaita, the Bubure, the Salto Grande about thirty 
feet high, and the Montanha. The canoes of Cuyaba 
tradesmen which descend annually to Santarem are 
obliged to be unloaded at each of these, and the cargoes 
carried by land on the backs of Indians, whilst the 
empty vessels are dragged by ropes ove$ the obstruc- 
tions. The Cupari was described to me as flowing 


through a rich moist clayey valley, covered with forests 
and abounding in game ; whilst the banks of the Tapa- 
jos beyond Aveyros were barren sandy campos, with 
ranges of naked or scantily-wooded hills, forming a kind 
of country which I had always found very unproduc- 
tive in Natural History objects in the dry season which 
had now set in. 

We entered the mouth of the Cupari on the evening 
of the following day (August 3rd). It was not more 
than 100 yards wide, but very deep : we found no bot- 
tom in the middle with a line of eight fathoms. The 
banks were gloriously wooded ; the familiar foliage of 
the cacao growing abundantly amongst the mass of other 
trees reminding me of the forests of the main Amazons. 
We rowed for five or six miles, generally in a south- 
easterly direction although the river had many abrupt 
bends, and stopped for the night at a settler's house situ- 
ated on a high bank and accessible only by a flight of 
rude wooden steps fixed in the clayey slope. The owners 
were two brothers, half-breeds, who with their families 
shared the large roomy dwelling ; one of them was a 
blacksmith, and we found him working with two Indian 
lads at his forge, in an open shed under the shade of 
mango trees. They were the sons of a Portuguese im- 
migrant who had settled here forty years previously and 
married a Mundurucu woman. He must have been a far 
more industrious man than the majority of his country- 
men who emigrate to Brazil now-a-days, for there were 
signs of former extensive cultivation at the back of the 
house in groves of orange, lemon, and coffee trees, and 
a large plantation of cacao occupied the lower grounds. 


The next morning one of the brothers brought me a 
beautiful opossum which had been caught in the fowl- 
house a little before sunrise. It was not so large as a 
rat, and had soft brown fur, paler beneath and on the 
face, with a black stripe on each cheek. This made 
the third species of marsupial rat I had so far obtained : 
but the number of these animals is very considerable in 
Brazil, where they take the place of the shrews of 
Europe, shrew mice and, indeed, the whole of the in- 
sectivorous order of mammals, being entirely absent 
from Tropical America. One kind of these rat-like 
opossums is aquatic, and has webbed feet. The terres- 
trial species are nocturnal in their habits, sleeping 
during the day in hollow trees, and coming forth at 
night to prey on birds in their roosting places. It is 
very difficult to rear poultry in this country on account 
of these small opossums, scarcely a night passing in 
some parts in which the fowls are not attacked by 

August 5th. — The river reminds me of some parts 
of the Jaburu channel, being hemmed in by two walls 
of forest rising to the height of at least 100 feet, and 
the outlines of the trees being concealed throughout by 
a dense curtain of leafy creepers. The impression of 
vegetable profusion and overwhelming luxuriance in- 
creases at every step. The deep and narrow valley of 
the Cupari has a moister climate than the banks of the 
Tapajos. We have now frequent showers, whereas we 
left everything parched up by the sun at Aveyros. 

After leaving the last sitio we advanced about eight 
miles and then stopped at the house of Senhor Antonio 


Malagueita, a mameluco settler, whom we had been 
recommended to visit. His house and outbuildings 
were extensive, the grounds well wooded, and the whole 
wore an air of comfort and well-being which is very 
uncommon in this country. A bank of indurated white 
clay sloped gently up from the tree-shaded port to the 
house, and beds of kitchen-herbs extended on each 
side, with (rare sight !) rose and jasmine trees in full 
bloom. Senhor Antonio, a rather tall middle-aged 
man with a countenance beaming with good nature, 
came down to the port as soon as Ave anchored. I was 
quite a stranger to him, but he had heard of my 
coming and seemed to have made preparations. I never 
met with a heartier welcome. On entering the house, 
the wife, who had more of the Indian tint and features 
than her husband, was equally warm and frank in 
her greeting. Senhor Antonio had spent his younger 
days at Para, and had acquired a profound respect 
for Englishmen. I stayed here two days. My host 
accompanied me in my excursions ; in fact, his atten- 
tions, with those of his wife and the host of relatives 
of all degrees who constituted his household, were quite 
troublesome, as they left me not a moment's privacy 
from morning till night. 

We had together several long and successful rambles 
along a narrow pathway which extended several miles 
into the forest. I here met with a new insect pest, one 
which the natives may be thankful is not spread more 
widely over the country : it was a large brown fly of the 
Tabanidae family (genus Pangonia), with a proboscis 
half an inch long and sharper than the finest needle. 


It settled on our backs by twos and threes at a time, 
and pricked us through our thick cotton shirts, making 
us start and cry out with the sudden pain. I secured 
a dozen or two as specimens. As an instance of the 
extremely confined ranges of certain species it may be 
mentioned that I did not find this insect in any other 
part of the country except along half a mile or so of 
this gloomy forest road. 

We were amused at the excessive and almost absurd 
tameness of a fine Mutum or Curassow turkey that ran 
about the house. It was a large glossy-black species 
(the Mitu tuberosa) having an orange-coloured beak 
surmounted by a bean-shaped excrescence of the same 
hue. It seemed to consider itself as one of the family : 
attended at all the meals, passing from one person to 
another round the mat to be fed, and rubbing the 
sides of its head in a coaxing way against their cheeks 
or shoulders. At night it went to roost on a chest in 
a sleeping-room beside the hammock of one of the 
little girls, to whom it seemed particularly attached, 
following her wherever she went about the grounds. 
I found this kind of Curassow bird was very common 
in the forests of the Cupari ; but it is rare on the 
Upper Amazons, where an allied species which has a 
round instead of a bean-shaped waxen excrescence on 
the beak (Crax globicera) is the prevailing kind. 
These birds in their natural state never descend from 
the tops of the loftiest trees, where they live in small 
flocks and build their nests. The Mitu tuberosa lays 
two rough-shelled, white eggs ; it is fully as large a 
bird as the common turkey, but the flesh when cooked 

Chap. II. THE ANACONDA. 113 

is drier and not so well flavoured. It is difficult to 
find the reason why these superb birds have not been 
reduced to domestication by the Indians, seeing that 
they so readily become tame. The obstacle offered by 
their not breeding in confinement, which is probably 
owing to their arboreal habits, might perhaps be over- 
come by repeated experiment ; but for this the Indians 
probably had not sufficient patience or intelligence. 
The reason cannot lie in their insensibility to the 
value of such birds, for the common turkey, which 
has been introduced into the country, is much prized 
by them. 

We had an unwelcome visitor whilst at anchor in the 
port of Joao Malagueita. I was awoke a little after 
midnight as I lay in my little cabin by a heavy blow 
struck at the sides of the canoe close to my head, 
which was succeeded by the sound of a weighty body 
plunging in the water. I got up ; but all was again 
quiet, except the cackle of fowls in our hen-coop, which 
hung over the sides of the vessel about three feet from 
the cabin door. I could find no explanation of the 
circumstance, and, my men being all ashore, I turned in 
again and slept till morning. I then found my poultry 
loose about the canoe, and a large rent in the bottom 
of the hen-coop, which was about two feet from the 
surface of the water : a couple of fowls were missing. 
Senhor Antonio said the depredator was a Sucuruju 
(the Indian name for the Anaconda, or great water ser- 
pent — Eunectes murinus), which had for months past 
been haunting this part of the river, and had carried 
off many ducks and fowls from the ports of various 



houses. I was inclined to doubt the fact of a serpent 
striking at its prey from the water, and thought an 
alligator more likely to be the culprit, although we 
had not yet met with alligators in the river. Some 
days afterwards the young men belonging to the dif- 
ferent sitios agreed together to go in search of the 
serpent. They began in a systematic manner, forming 
two parties each embarked in three or four canoes, 
and starting from points several miles apart, whence 
they gradually approximated, searching all the little 
inlets on both sides the river. The reptile was found 
at last sunning itself on a log at the mouth of a muddy 
rivulet, and despatched with harpoons. I saw it the 
day after it was killed : it was not a very large speci- 
men, measuring only eighteen feet nine inches in length 
and sixteen inches in circumference at the widest part 
of the body. I measured skins of the Anaconda after- 
wards, twenty-one feet in length and two feet in girth. 
The reptile has a most hideous appearance, owing to its 
being very broad in the middle and tapering abruptly 
at both ends. It is very abundant in some parts of the 
country ; nowhere more so than in the Lago Grande, 
near Santarem, where it is often seen coiled up in the 
corners of farm-yards, and detested for its habit of 
carrying off poultry, young calves, or whatever animal 
it can get within reach of. 

At Ega a large Anaconda was once near making a 
meal of a young lad about ten years of age belonging 
to one of my neighbours. The father and his son went 
one day in their montaria a few miles up the Teffe to 
gather wild fruit ; landing on a sloping sandy shore, 


where the boy was left to mind the canoe whilst the man 
entered the forest. The beaches of the TefTe form groves 
of wild guava and myrtle trees, and during most months 
of the year are partly overflown by the river. Whilst the 
boy was playing in the water under the shade of these 
trees a huge reptile of this species stealthily wound its 
coils around him, unperceived until it was too late to 
escape. His cries brought the father quickly to the 
rescue ; who rushed forward, and seizing the Anaconda 
boldly by the head, tore his jaws asunder. There appears 
to be no doubt that this formidable serpent grows to an 
enormous bulk and lives to a great age, for I heard of 
specimens having been killed which measured forty- 
two feet in length, or double the size of the largest I 
had an opportunity of examining. The natives of the 
Amazons country universally believe in the existence of 
a monster water-serpent said to be many score fathoms 
in length, which appears successively in different parts 
of the river. They call it the Mai d'agoa — the mother 
or spirit of the water. This fable, which was doubtless 
suggested by the occasional appearance of Sucurujus 
of unusually large size, takes a great variety of forms, 
and the wild legends form the subject of conversation 
amongst old and young, over the wood fires in lonely 

August 6th and *7th. — On leaving the sitio of Antonio 
Malagueita we continued our way along the windings of 
the river, generally in a south-east and south-south-east 
direction but sometimes due south, for about fifteen miles, 
when we stopped at the house of one Paulo Christo, a 
mameluco whose acquaintance I had made at Aveyros. 

l 2 


Here we spent the night and part of the next day ; doing 
in the morning a good five hours' work in the forest, ac- 
companied by the owner of the place. In the afternoon 
of the 7th we were again under way : the river makes a 
bend to the east-north-east for a short distance above 
Paulo Christo's establishment, it then turns abruptly to 
the south-west, running from that direction about four 
miles. The hilly country of the interior then com- 
mences: the first token of it being a magnificently- 
wooded bluff rising nearly straight from the water to 
a height of about 250 feet. The breadth of the stream 
hereabout was not more than sixty yards, and the forest 
assumed a new appearance from the abundance of the 
Urucuri palm, a species which has a noble crown of 
broad fronds with symmetrical rigid leaflets. 

On the road, we passed a little shady inlet, at the 
mouth of which a white-haired, wrinkle-faced old man 
was housed in a temporary shed, washing the soil for 
gold. He was quite alone : no one knew anything of 
him in these parts, except that he was a Cuyabano, or 
native of Cuyaba in the mining districts, and his little 
boat was moored close to his rude shelter. Whatever 
success he might have had remained a secret, for he 
went away, after a three weeks' stay in the place, with- 
out communicating with any one. 

We reached, in the evening, the house of the last 
civilised settler on the river, Senhor Joao Aracu, a wiry, 
active fellow and capital hunter, whom I wished to 
make a friend of and persuade to accompany me to 
the Mundurucu village and the falls of the Cupari, some 
forty miles further up the river. 

Chap. II. BUILD A CANOE. 117 

I stayed at the sitio of Joao Aracu. until the 19th, 
and again, in descending, spent fourteen days at the same 
place. The situation was most favourable for collecting 
the natural products of the district. The forest was not 
crowded with underwood, and pathways led through it 
for many miles and in various directions. I could make 
no use here of our two men as hunters, so, to keep them 
employed whilst Jose and I worked daily in the woods, 
I set them to make a montaria under Joao Aracu' s 
directions. The first day a suitable tree was found for 
the shell of the boat, of the kind called Itauba amarello, 
the yellow variety of the stone-wood. They felled it, and 
shaped out of the trunk a log nineteen feet in length : 
this they dragged from the forest, with the help of my 
host's men, over a road they had previously made with 
pieces of round wood to act as rollers. The distance 
was about half a mile, and the ropes used for drawing 
the heavy load were tough lianas cut from the sur- 
rounding trees. This part of the work occupied about 
a week : the log had then to be hollowed out, which 
was done with strong chisels through a slit made down 
the whole length. The heavy portion of the task being 
then completed, nothing remained but to widen the 
opening, fit two planks for the sides and the same 
number of semicircular boards for the ends, make the 
benches, and caulk the seams. 

The expanding of the log thus hollowed out is a criti- 
cal operation, and not always successful, many a good 
shell being spoilt by its splitting or expanding irregu- 
larly. It is first reared on tressels, with the slit down- 
wards, over a large fire, which is kept up for seven or 


eight hours, the process requiring unremitting atten- 
tion to avoid cracks and make the plank bend with 
the proper dip at the two ends. Wooden straddlers, 
made by cleaving pieces of tough elastic wood and fix- 
ing them with wedges, are inserted into the opening, 
their compass being altered gradually as the ivork goes 
on, but in different degree according to the part of the 
boat operated upon. Our casca turned out a good one : 
it took a long time to cool, and was kept in shape whilst 
it did so by means of wooden cross-pieces. When the 
boat was finished it was launched with great merriment 
by the men, who hoisted coloured handkerchiefs for 
flags, and paddled it up and down the stream to try its 
capabilities. My people had suffered as much incon- 
venience from the want of a montaria as myself, so this 
was a day of rejoicing to all of us. 

I was very successful at this place with regard to the 
objects of my journey. About twenty new species of 
fishes and a considerable number of small reptiles were 
added to my collection ; but very few birds were met 
with worth preserving. A great number of the most 
conspicuous insects of the locality were new to me, and 
turned out to be species peculiar to this part of the 
Amazons valley. There is the most striking contrast 
between the productions of the Cupari and those of Altar 
do Chao in this department : the majority of the spe- 
cies inhabiting the one district being totally unknown 
in the other. At the same time a considerable propor- 
tion of the Cupari species were identical with those of 
Ega on the Upper Amazons, a region eight times fur- 
ther removed than the village just mentioned. The 


most interesting acquisition at this place was a large and 
handsome monkey, of a species I had not before met 
with — the white-whiskered Coaita, or spider monkey, 
Ateles marginatus. I saw a pair one day in the forest 
moving slowly along the branches of a lofty tree, and 
shot one of them ; the next day Joao Aracu. brought 
down another, possibly the companion. The species is of 
about the same size as the common black kind of which 
I have given an account in a former chapter, and has a 
similar lean body with limbs clothed with coarse black 
hair ; but it differs in having the whiskers and a trian- 
gular patch on the crown of the head of a white colour. 
It is never met with in the alluvial plains of the Ama- 
zons, nor, I believe, on the northern side of the great 
river valley, except towards the head waters, near the 
Andes ; where Humboldt discovered it on the banks of 
the Santiago. I thought the meat the best flavoured I 
had ever tasted. It resembled beef, but had a richer 
and sweeter taste. During the time of our stay in this 
part of the Cupari, we could get scarcely anything but 
fish to eat, and as this diet ill agreed with me, three 
successive ' days of it reducing me to a state of great 
weakness, I was obliged to make the most of our Coaita 
meat. We smoke-dried the joints instead of salting 
them ; placing them for several hours on a framework 
of sticks arranged over a fire, a plan adopted by the 
natives to preserve fish when they have no salt, and 
which they call " muquiar." Meat putrefies in this cli- 
mate in less than twenty-four hours, and salting is of no 
use, unless the pieces are cut in thin slices and dried 
immediately in the sun. My monkeys lasted me about 


a fortnight, the last joint being an arm with the clenched 
fist, which I used with great economy, hanging it in the 
intervals between my frugal meals on a nail in the 
cabin. Nothing but the hardest necessity could have 
driven me so near to cannibalism as this, but we had the 
greatest difficulty in obtaining here a sufficient supply 
of animal food. About every three days the work on the 
montaria had to be suspended and all hands turned out 
for the day to hunt and fish, in which they were often 
unsuccessful, for although there was plenty of game in 
the forest, it was too widely scattered to be available. 
Ricardo and Alberto occasionally brought in a tortoise or 
an anteater, which served us for one day's consumption. 
We made acquaintance here with many strange dishes, 
amongst them Iguana eggs ; these are of oblong form , 
about an inch in length, and covered with a flexible 
shell. The lizard lays about two score of them in the 
hollows of trees. They have an oily taste ; the men ate 
them raw, beaten up with farinha, mixing a pinch of 
salt in the mess ; I could only do with them when 
mixed with Tucupi sauce, of which we had a large jar 
full always ready to temper unsavoury morsels. 

One day as I was entomologizing alone and unarmed, 
in a dry Ygapo, where the trees were rather wide apart 
and the ground coated to the depth of eight or ten 
inches with dead leaves, I was near coming into colli- 
sion with a boa constrictor. I had just entered a little 
thicket to capture an insect, and whilst pinning it was 
rather startled by a rushing noise in the vicinity. I 
looked up to the sky, thinking a squall was coming on, 
but not a breath of wind stirred in the tree-tops. On 

Chap. II. GREAT HEAT. 121 

stepping out of the bushes I met face to face a huge 
serpent coming down a slope, and making the dry twigs 
crack and fly with his weight as he moved over them. 
I had very frequently met with a smaller boa, the 
Cutim-boia, in a similar way, and knew from the 
habits of the family that there was no danger, so I stood 
my ground. On seeing me the reptile suddenly turned, 
and glided at an accelerated pace down the path. 
Wishing to take a note of his probable size and the 
colours and markings of his skin, I set off after him ; 
but he increased his speed, and I was unable to get 
near enough for the purpose. There was very little of 
the serpentine movement in his course. The rapidly 
moving and shining body looked like a stream of brown 
liquid flowing over the thick bed of fallen leaves, rather 
than a serpent with skin of varied colours. He de- 
scended towards the lower and moister parts of the 
Ygapo. The huge trunk of an uprooted tree here lay 
across the road ; this he glided over in his undeviating 
course, and soon after penetrated a dense swampy 
thicket, where of course I did not choose to follow him. 

I suffered terribly from the heat and mosquitoes as 
the river sank with the increasing dryness of the season, 
although I made an awning of the sails to work under, and 
slept at night in the open air with my hammock slung 
between the masts. But there was no rest in any part ; 
the canoe descended deeper and deeper into the gulley, 
through which the river flows between high clayey 
banks, as the water subsided, and with the glowing sun 
overhead we felt at midday as if in a furnace. I could 
bear scarcely any clothes in the daytime between eleven 


in the morning and five in the afternoon, wearing 
nothing but loose and thin cotton trousers and a light 
straw hat, and could not be accommodated in Joao 
Aracus house, as it was a small one and full of noisy 
children. One night we had a terrific storm. The 
heat in the afternoon had been greater than ever, 
and at sunset the sky had a brassy glare : the black 
patches of cloud which floated in it, being lighted 
up now and then by flashes of sheet lightning. The 
mosquitoes at night were more than usually trouble- 
some, and I had just sunk exhausted into a doze 
towards the early hours of morning when the storm 
began ; a complete deluge of rain with incessant light- 
ning and rattling explosions of thunder. It lasted for 
eight hours ; the grey dawn opening amidst the crash 
of the tempest. The rain trickled through the seams 
of the cabin roof on to my collections, the late hot 
weather having warped the boards, and it gave me 
immense trouble to secure them in the midst of the 
confusion. Altogether I had a bad night of it, but what 
with storms, heat, mosquitoes, hunger, and, towards the 
last, ill health, I seldom had a good night's rest on the 

A small creek traversed the forest behind Joao 
Aracus house, and entered the river a few yards from 
our anchoring place. I used to cross it twice a day, on 
going and returning from my hunting ground. One 
day early in September, I noticed that the water 
was two or three inches higher in the afternoon than 
it had been in the morning. This phenomenon was 
repeated the next day, and in fact daily, until the 

Chap. II. TIDES. 123 

creek became dry with the continued subsidence of the 
Cupari, the time of rising shifting a little from day to 
day. I pointed out the circumstance to Joao Aracu, 
who had not noticed it before (it was only his second 
year of residence in the locality), but agreed with me 
that it must be the " mare." Yes, the tide ! the throb 
of the great oceanic pulse felt in this remote corner, 530 
miles distant from the place where it first strikes the 
body of fresh water at the mouth of the Amazons. I 
hesitated at first at this conclusion, but on reflecting 
that the tide was known to be perceptible at Obydos, 
more than 400 miles from the sea ; that at high water 
in the dry season a large flood from the Amazons 
enters the mouth of the Tapajos, and that there is but 
a very small difference of level between that point and 
the Cupari, a fact shown by the absence of current in 
the dry season ; I could have no doubt that this con- 
clusion was a correct one. 

The fact of the tide being felt 530 miles up the Ama- 
zons, passing from the main stream to one of its afflu- 
ents 380 miles from its mouth, and thence to a branch 
in the third degree, is a proof of the extreme flatness of 
the land which forms the lower part of the Amazonian 
valley. This uniformity of level is shown also in the 
broad lake-like expanses of water formed near their 
mouths by the principal affluents which cross the valley 
to join the main river. 

August 21s£. — Joao Aracu consented to accompany 
me to the falls with one of his men, to hunt and fish 
for me. One of my objects was to obtain specimens of 
the hyacinthine macaw, whose range commences on all 


the branch rivers of the Amazons which flow from the 
south through the interior of Brazil, with the first 
cataracts. We started on the 19th ; our direction on 
that day being generally south-west. On the 20th our 
course was southerly and south-easterly. This morning 
(August 21st) we arrived at the Indian settlement, the 
first house of which lies about thirty-one miles above 
the sitio of Joao Aracti. The river at this place is 
from sixty to seventy yards wide, and runs in a zigzag 
course between steep clayey banks twenty to fifty 
feet in height. The houses of the Munduruciis to the 
number of about thirty are scattered along the banks 
for a distance of six or seven miles. The owners appear 
to have chosen all the most picturesque sites — tracts 
of level ground at the foot of wooded heights, or little 
havens with bits of white sandy beach — as if they had 
an appreciation of natural beauty. Most of the dwell- 
ings are conical huts, with walls of framework filled in 
with mud and thatched with palm leaves, the broad eaves 
reaching halfway to the ground. Some are quadran- 
gular, and do not differ in structure from those of 
the semi-civilised settlers in other parts ; others are 
open sheds or ranchos. They seem generally to contain 
not more than one or two families each. 

At the first house we learnt that all the fighting men 
had this morning returned from a two days' pursuit of 
a wandering horde of savages of the Pararauate tribe, 
who had strayed this way from the interior lands and 
robbed the plantations. A little further on we came 
to the house of the Tushatia or chief, situated on 
the top of a high bank, which we had to ascend by 


wooden steps. There were four other houses in the 
neighbourhood, all filled with people. A fine old fel- 
low, with face, shoulders, and breast tattooed all over 
in a cross-bar pattern, was the first strange object that 
caught my eye. Most of the men lay lounging or 
sleeping in their hammocks. The women were em- 
ployed in an adjoining shed making farinha, many of 
them being quite naked, and rushing off to the huts to 
slip on their petticoats when they caught sight of us. 
Our entrance aroused the Tushaua from a nap ; after 
rubbing his eyes he came forward and bade us welcome 
with the most formal politeness, and in very good Por- 
tuguese. He was a tall, broad-shouldered, well-made 
man, apparently about thirty years of age, with hand- 
some regular features, not tattooed, and a quiet good- 
humoured expression of countenance. He had been 
several times to Santarem and once to Para, learning 
the Portuguese language during these journeys. He 
was dressed in shirt and trousers made of blue-checked 
cotton cloth and there was not the slightest trace of the 
savage in his appearance or demeanour. I was told 
that he had come into the chieftainship by inheritance, 
and that the Cupari horde of Mundurucus, over which his 
fathers had ruled before him, was formerly much more 
numerous, furnishing 300 bows in time of war. They 
could now scarcely muster forty ; but the horde has no 
longer a close political connection with the main body 
of the tribe, which inhabits the banks of the Tapajos, 
six days' journey from the Cupari settlement. 

I spent the remainder of the day here, sending Aracu 
and the men to fish, whilst I amused myself with the 


Tushaua and his people. A few words served to ex- 
plain my errand on the river ; he comprehended at once 
why white men should admire and travel to collect the 
beautiful birds and animals of his country, and neither 
he nor his people spoke a single word about trading, or 
gave us any trouble by coveting the things we had 
brought. He related to me the events of the preced- 
ing three days. The Pararauates were a tribe of in- 
tractable savages with whom the Mundurucus have been 
always at war. They had no fixed abode, and of course 
made no plantations, but passed their lives like the wild 
beasts, roaming through the forest, guided by the sun : 
wherever they found themselves at night-time there 
they slept, slinging their bast hammocks, which are 
carried by the women, to the trees. They ranged over 
the whole of the interior country, from the head waters 
of the Itapacura (a branch of the Tapajos flowing from 
the east, whose sources lie in about 7° south latitude) 
to the banks of the Curua (about 3° south latitude), 
and from the Mundurucu settlements on the Tapajos 
(55° west longtitude) to the Pacajaz (50° west longi- 
tude). They cross the streams which lie in their course 
in bark canoes, which they make on reaching the water, 
and cast away after landing on the opposite side. The 
tribe is very numerous, but the different hordes obey 
only their own chieftains. The Mundurucus of the 
upper Tapajos have an expedition on foot against them 
at the present time, and the Tushaua supposed that 
the horde which had just been chased from his maloca 
were fugitives from that direction. There were about 
a hundred of them — including men, women, and chil- 

Chap. II. TATTOOING. 127 

dren. Before they were discovered the hungry savages 
had uprooted all the macasheira, sweet potatoes, and 
suo-ar cane, which the industrious Mundurucus had 
planted for the season, on the east side of the river. 
As soon as they were seen they made off, but the 
Tushaua quickly got together all the young men of 
the settlement, about thirty in number, who armed 
themselves with guns, bows and arrows, and javelins, 
and started in pursuit. They tracked them, as be- 
fore related, for two days through the forest, but lost 
their traces on the further bank of the Cuparitinga, 
a branch stream flowing from the north-east. The 
pursuers thought, at one time, they were close upon 
them, having found the inextinguished fire of their last 
encampment. The footmarks of the chief could be 
distinguished from the rest by their great size and 
the length of the stride. A small necklace made of 
scarlet beans was the only trophy of the expedition, 
and this the Tushaua gave to me. 

I saw very little of the other male Indians, as they 
were asleep in their huts all the afternoon. There 
were two other tattooed men lying under an open shed, 
besides the old man already mentioned. One of them 
presented a strange appearance, having a semicircular 
black patch in the middle of his face, covering the 
bottom of the nose and mouth, crossed lines on his 
back and breast, and stripes down his arms and legs. It 
is singular that the graceful curved patterns used by the 
South Sea Islanders, are quite unknown among the Bra- 
zilian red men ; they being all tattooed either in simple 
lines or patches. The nearest approach to elegance of 


design which I saw, was amongst the Tucunas of the 
Upper Amazons, some of whom have a scroll-like mark 
on each cheek, proceeding from the corner of the 
month. The taste, as far as form is concerned, of the 
American Indian would seem to be far less refined 
than that of the Tahitian and New Zealander. 

To amuse the Tushaua, I fetched from the canoe 
the two volumes of Knight's Pictorial Museum of 
Animated Nature. The engravings quite took his 
fancy, and he called his wives, of whom, as I after- 
wards learnt from Aracu, he had three or four, to look 
at them ; one of them was a handsome girl, decorated 
with necklace and bracelets of blue beads. In a short 
time others left their work, and I then had a crowd of 
women and children around me, who all displayed 
unusual curiosity for Indians. It was no light task to 
go through the whole of the illustrations, but they 
would not allow me to miss a page, making me turn 
back when I tried to skip. The pictures of the ele- 
phant, camels, orang-otangs, and tigers, seemed most 
to astonish them ; but they were interested in almost 
everything, down even to the shells and insects. They 
recognised the portraits of the most striking birds 
and mammals which are found in their own country ; 
the jaguar, howling monkeys, parrots, trogons, and 
toucans. The elephant was settled to be a large 
kind of Tapir ; but they made but few remarks, and 
those in the Mundurucu. language, of which I under- 
stood only two or three words. Their way of express- 
ing surprise was a clicking sound made with the teeth, 
similar to the one we ourselves use, or a subdued ex- 


clamation, Hm ! hm ! Before I finished, from fifty to 
sixty had assembled ; there was no pushing or rudeness, 
the grown-up women letting the young girls and children 
stand before them, and all behaved in the most quiet 
and orderly manner possible. 

The great difference in figure, shape of head, and 
arrangement of features amongst these people struck 
me forcibly, and showed how little uniformity there 
is in these respects amongst the Brazilian Indians, 
even when belonging to the same tribe. The only 
points in which they all closely resembled each other 
were the long, thick, straight, jet-black hair, the warm 
coppery-brown tint of the skin, and the quiet, rather 
dull, expression of countenance. I saw no countenance 
so debased in expression as many seen amongst the 
Mura tribe, and no head of the Mongolian type — broad, 
with high cheek bones, and oblique position of the 
eyes — of which single examples occur amongst the 
semi-civilised canoemen on the river. Many of them 
had fine oval faces, with rather long and well-formed 
features, moderately thin lips, and arched forehead. 
One little girl, about twelve years of age, had quite a 
European cast of features, and a remarkably slim 
figure. They were all clean in their persons ; the petti- 
coats of the women being made of coarse cotton cloth 
obtained from traders, and their hair secured in a knot 
behind by combs made of pieces of bamboo. The old 
men had their heads closely cropped, with the excep- 
tion of a long fringe which hung down in front over 
their foreheads. 

The Mundurucus are perhaps the most numerous 



and formidable tribe of Indians now surviving in the 
Amazons region. They inhabit the shores of the 
Tapajos (chiefly the right bank), from 3° to 7° south 
latitude, and the interior of the country between that 
part of the river and the Madeira. On the Tapajos alone 
they can muster, I was told, 2000 fighting men ; the 
total population of the tribe may be about 20,000. 
They were not heard of until about ninety years ago, 
when they made war on the Portuguese settlements ; 
their hosts crossing the interior of the country eastward 
of the Tapajos, and attacking the establishments of the 
whites in the province of Maranham. The Portuguese 
made peace with them in the beginning of the present 
century, the event being brought about by the common 
cause of quarrel entertained by the two peoples against 
the hated Muras. They have ever since been firm 
friends of the whites. It is remarkable how faithfully 
this friendly feeling has been handed down amongst 
the Mundurucus, and spread to the remotest of the 
scattered hordes. Wherever a white man meets a 
family, or even an individual of the tribe, he is almost 
sure to be reminded of this alliance. They are the 
most warlike of the Brazilian tribes, and are considered 
also the most settled and industrious ; they are not, 
however, superior in this latter respect to the Juris and 
Passes on the Upper Amazons, or the Uapes Indians 
near the head waters of the Rio Negro. They make 
very large plantations of mandioca, and sell the surplus 
produce, which amounts on the Tapajos to from 3000 
to 5000 baskets (60 lbs. each) annually, to traders who 
ascend the river from Santarem between the months 


of August and January. They also gather large quan- 
tities of salsaparilla, India-rubber, and Tonka beans, in 
the forests. The traders, on their arrival at the 
Campinas (the scantily wooded region inhabited by the 
main body of Mundurucus beyond the cataracts) have 
first to distribute their wares — cheap cotton cloths, iron 
hatchets, cutlery, small wares, and cashaca — amongst 
the minor chiefs, and then wait three or four months 
for repayment in produce. 

A rapid change is taking place in the habits of these 
Indians through frequent intercourse with the whites, 
and those who dwell on the banks of the Tapajos now 
seldom tattoo their children. The principal Tushaua of 
the whole tribe or nation, named Joaquim, was rewarded 
with a commission in the Brazilian army, in acknow- 
ledgment of the assistance he gave to the legal autho- 
rities during the rebellion of 1835-6. It would be a 
misnomer to call the Mundurucus of the Cupari and 
many parts of the Tapajos, savages ; their regular mode 
of life, agricultural habits, loyalty to their chiefs, 
fidelity to treaties, and gentleness of demeanour, give 
them a right to a better title. Yet they show no apti- 
tude for the civilised life of towns, and, like the rest of 
the Brazilian tribes, seem incapable of any further 
advance in culture. In their former wars they exter- 
minated two of the neighbouring peoples, the Jumas 
and the Jacares ; and make now an annual expedition 
against the Pararauates, and one or two other similar 
wild tribes who inhabit the interior of the land, but 
are sometimes driven by hunger towards the banks of 
the great rivers to rob the plantations of the agricul- 



tural Indians. These campaigns begin in July, and last 
throughout the dry months ; the women generally ac- 
companying the warriors to carry their arrows and jave- 
lins. They had the diabolical custom, in former days, 
of cutting off the heads of their slain enemies, and pre- 
serving them as trophies around their houses. I 
believe this, together with other savage practices, has 
been relinquished in those parts where they have had 
long intercourse with the Brazilians, for I could neither 
see nor hear anything of these preserved heads. They 
used to sever the head with knives made of broad 
bamboo, and then, after taking out the brain and 
fleshy parts, soak it in bitter vegetable oil (andiroba), 
and expose it for several days over the smoke of a fire 
or in the sun. In the tract of country between the 
Tapajos and the Madeira, a deadly war has been for 
many years carried on between the Mundurucus and 
the Araras. I was told by a Frenchman at Santarem, 
who had visited that part, that all the settlements 
there have a military organization. A separate shed 
is built outside of each village, where the fighting men 
sleep at night, sentinels being stationed to give the alarm 
with blasts of the Ture on the approach of the Araras, 
who choose the night for their onslaughts. 

Each horde of Mundurucus has its paje or medicine 
man, who is the priest and doctor ; fixes upon the time 
most propitious for attacking the enemy ; exorcises evil 
spirits, and professes to cure the sick. All illness whose 
origin is not very apparent is supposed to be caused by 
a worm in the part affected. This the paje' pretends to 
extract ; he blows on the seat of pain the smoke from 


a large cigar, made with an air of great mystery by 
rolling tobacco in folds of Tauari, and then sucks the 
place, drawing from his mouth, when he has finished, 
what he pretends to be the worm. It is a piece of very 
clumsy conjuring. One of these pajes was sent for by a 
woman in Joao Malagueita's family, to operate on a c^hild 
who suffered much from pains in the head. Senhor 
Joao contrived to get possession of the supposed worm 
after the trick was performed in our presence, and it 
turned out to be a long white air-root of some plant. 
The paje was with difficulty persuaded to operate whilst 
Senhor Joao and I were present. I cannot help think- 
ing that he, as well as all others of the same profession, 
are conscious impostors, handing down the shallow secret 
of their divinations and tricks from generation to gene- 
ration. The institution seems to be common to all 
tribes of Indians, and to be held to more tenaciously 
than any other. 

The opposite (western) shore of the Tapajos for some 
distance beyond the falls, and the country thence to the 
channels behind Villa Nova, are inhabited by the Mauhes 
tribe, of whom I have spoken in a former chapter. 
These are also a settled, agricultural people, but speak a 
totally different language from that of the Mundurucus. 
I saw at Aveyros several men of this fine tribe, who were 
descending the river in a trading canoe, and who, on 
being confronted with a Mundurucu were quite unable 
to understand him. There are many other points of dif- 
ference between the two tribes. The Mauhes are much 
less warlike, and do not practise tattooing. Their villages 
are composed of a number of small huts, tenanted by 


single families, whilst the separate hordes of Mundu- 
rucus generally live together, each in one large dwelling. 
The Cupari horde do not form an exception in this 
respect, as they also lived together in one of these large 
huts until very recently. The Mauhes are undistin- 
guishable in physical appearance from their neighbours, 
being of middle size, with broad muscular chests, and 
well-shaped limbs and hands. But the individuals of 
both tribes can be readily distinguished from the Muras ; 
less, however, by the structure and proportions of the 
body than by the expression of their countenances, which 
is mild and open instead of brutal, surly and mistrustful, 
as in those savages. They are invariably friendly to 
the whites ; as I have already mentioned, they use the 
Parica snuff, a habit quite unknown to the Mundurucus. 
They are the only tribe who manufacture Guarana, a 
hard substance made of the pounded seeds of a climb- 
ing plant (Paullinia sorbilis), which they sell in large 
quantities to traders, it being used throughout the 
whole of the interior provinces of Brazil, grated and 
mixed in water, as a remedy in diarrhoea and intermittent 
fevers. The Mundurucus have a tradition that they and 
the Mauhes originally formed one tribe ; the two peoples 
were formerly bitter enemies, but are now, and have 
been for many years, at peace with each other. Many 
centuries must have elapsed since the date of their first 
separation, to have produced the great differences now 
existing in language and customs between the two 
tribes. I fancy the so-called tradition is only a myth, 
but it doubtless conveys the truth. The points of re- 
semblance between all the tribes inhabiting the region 


of the Amazons are so numerous and striking, that, 
notwithstanding the equally striking points of difference 
which some of them exhibit, we must conclude that not 
only the Mundurucus and Mauhes, but all the various 
peoples had a common origin — that is, they are de- 
rived by immigration from one quarter and one stock, 
the separate tribes subsequently acquiring their pecu- 
liarities by long isolation. 

I bought of the Tushaiia two beautiful feather sceptres, 
with their bamboo cases. These are of cylindrical shape, 
about three feet in length and three inches in diameter, 
and are made by gluing with wax the fine white and 
yellow feathers from the breast of the toucan on stout 
rods, the tops being ornamented with long plumes from 
the tails of parrots, trogons, and other birds. The 
Mundurucus are considered to be the most expert 
workers in feathers of all the South American tribes. 
It is very difficult, however, to get them to part with 
the articles, as they seem to have a sort of super- 
stitious regard for them. They manufacture head- 
dresses, sashes and tunics, besides sceptres ; the feathers 
being assorted with a good eye to the proper contrast 
of colours, and the quills worked into strong cotton 
webs, woven with knitting sticks in the required 
shape. The dresses are worn only during their festi- 
vals, which are celebrated, not at stated times, but 
whenever the Tushaua thinks fit. Dancing, singing, 
sports, and drinking, appear to be the sole objects of 
these occasional holidays. When a day is fixed upon, 
the women prepare a great quantity of taroba, and the 
monotonous jingle is kept up, with little intermission 


night and day until the stimulating beverage is 

We left the Tushaua's house early the next morning. 
The impression made upon me by the glimpse of Indian 
life in its natural state obtained here, and at another 
cluster of houses visited higher up, was a pleasant one, 
notwithstanding the disagreeable incident of the Para- 
rauate visit. The Indians are here seen to the best 
advantage ; having relinquished many of their most 
barbarous practices, without being corrupted by too 
close contact with the inferior whites and half-breeds 
of the civilised settlements. The manners are simpler, 
the demeanour more gentle, cheerful and frank, than 
amongst the Indians who live near the towns. I 
could not help contrasting their well-fed condition, and 
the signs of orderly, industrious habits, with the poverty 
and laziness of the semi-civilised people of Altar do 
Chao. I do not think that the introduction of liquors 
has been the cause of much harm to the Brazilian 
Indian. He has his drinking bout now and then, like 
the common working people of other countries. It was 
his habit in his original stafe, before Europeans visited 
his country ; but he is always ashamed of it afterwards, 
and remains sober during the pretty long intervals. 
The harsh, slave-driving practices of the Portuguese and 
their descendants have been the greatest curses to the 
Indians ; the Mundurucus of the Cupari, however, have 
been now for many years protected against ill-treatment. 
This is one of the good services rendered by the mis- 
sionaries, who take care that the Brazilian laws in 
favour of the aborigines shall be respected by the brutal 


and unprincipled traders who go amongst them. I 
think no Indians could be in a happier position than 
these simple, peaceful and friendly people on the banks 
of the Cupari. The members of each family live together, 
and seem to be much attached to each other ; and the 
authority of the chief is exercised in the mildest manner. 
Perpetual summer reigns around them ; the land is of the 
highest fertility, and a moderate amount of light work 
produces them all the necessaries of their simple life. 
It is difficult to get at their notions on subjects that 
require a little abstract thought ; but the mind of the 
Indian is in a very primitive condition. I believe he 
thinks of nothing except the matters that immediately 
concern his daily material wants. There is an almost 
total absence of curiosity in his mental disposition, con- 
sequently he troubles himself very little concerning the 
causes of the natural phenomena around him. He has 
no idea of a Supreme Being ; but, at the same time, he 
is free from revolting superstitions — his religious notions 
going no farther than the belief in an evil spirit, re- 
garded merely as a kind of hobgoblin, who is at the 
bottom of all his little failures, troubles in fishing, 
hunting, and so forth. With so little mental activity, 
and with feelings and passions slow of excitement, the 
life of these people is naturally monotonous and dull, 
and their virtues are, properly speaking, only negative ; 
but the picture of harmless homely contentment they 
exhibit is very pleasing, compared with the state of 
savage races in many other parts of the world. 

The men awoke me at four o'clock with the sound of 


their oars on leaving the port of the Tushaua. I was 
surprised to find a dense fog veiling all surrounding 
objects, and the air quite cold. The lofty wall of forest, 
with the beautiful crowns of Assai palms standing out 
from it on their slender, arching stems, looked dim and 
strange through the misty curtain. The sudden change 
a little after sunrise had quite a magical effect, for the 
mist rose up like the gauze veil before the transforma- 
tion scene at a pantomime, and showed the glorious 
foliage in the bright glow of morning, glittering with 
dew-drops. We arrived at the falls about ten o'clock. 
The river here is not more than forty yards broad, and 
falls over a low ledge of rock stretching in a nearly 
straight line across. 

We had now arrived at the end of the navigation for 
large vessels — a distance from the mouth of the river, 
according to a rough calculation, of a little over seventy 
miles. I found it the better course now to send Jose 
and one of the men forward in the montaria with Joao 
Aracu, and remain myself with the cuberta and our 
other man, to collect in the neighbouring forest. We 
stayed here four days ; one of the boats returning each 
evening from the upper river with the produce of the 
day's chase of my huntsmen. I obtained six good spe- 
cimens of the hyacinthine macaw, besides a number of 
smaller birds, a species new to me of Guariba, or howling 
monkey, and two large lizards. The Guariba was an 
old male, with the hair much worn from his rump and 
breast, and his body disfigured with large tumours made 
by the grubs of a gad-fly (GEstrus). The back and tail 
were of a ruddy-brown colour ; the limbs and under- 

Chap. II. FISHES. 139 

side of the body, black. The men ascended to the 
second falls, which form a cataract several feet in 
height, about fifteen miles beyond our anchorage. The 
macaws were found feeding in small flocks on the fruit 
of the Tucuma palm (Astryocaryum Tucuma), the exces- 
sively hard nut of which is crushed into pulp by the 
powerful beak of the bird. I found the craws of all the 
specimens filled with the sour paste to which the stone- 
like fruit had been reduced. Each bird took me three 
hours to skin, and I was occupied with these and my 
other specimens every evening until midnight, after my 
own laborious day's hunt ; working on the roof of my 
cabin by the light of a lamp. 

The place where the cuberta was anchored formed a 
little rocky haven, with a sandy beach sloping to the 
forest, within which were the ruins of the Indian 
Maloca, and a large weed-grown plantation. The port 
swarmed with fishes, whose movements it was amusing 
to watch in the deep, clear water. The most abundant 
were the Piranhas. One species, which varied in length, 
according to age, from two to six inches, but was recog- 
nisable by a black spot at the root of the tail, was 
always the quickest to seize any fragment of meat 
thrown into the water. When nothing was being given 
to them, a few only were seen scattered about, their 
heads all turned one way in an attitude of expectation ; 
but as soon as any offal fell from the canoe, the water was 
blackened with the shoals that rushed instantaneously 
to the spot. Those who did not succeed in securing a 
fragment, fought with those who had been more suc- 
cessful, and many contrived to steal the coveted morsels 



Chap. II. 

from their mouths. When a bee or fly passed through 
the air near the water, they all simultaneously darted 
towards it as if roused by an electric shock. Sometimes 
a larger fish approached, and then the host of Piranhas 
took the alarm and flashed out of sight. The popula- 
tion of the water varied from day to day. Once a small 
shoal of a handsome black-banded fish, called by the 

# „..; ^- -^ : "r 


Acara (Mesonauta insignis). 

natives Acara bandeira (Mesonauta insignis, of Gunther), 
came gliding through at a slow pace, forming a very 
pretty sight. At another time, little troops of needle 
fish, eel-like animals, with excessively long and slender 
toothed jaws, sailed through the field, scattering before 
them the hosts of smaller fry ; and in the rear of the 
needle-fishes a strangely-shaped kind called Sarapo 
came wriggling along, one by one, with a slow move- 
ment. We caught with hook and line, baited with 
pieces of banana, several Curimata (Anodus Ama- 




zonum), a most delicious fish, which, next to the 
Tucunare and the Pescada, is most i 

esteemed by the natives. The Curi- 
mata seemed to prefer the middle of 
the stream, where the waters were 
agitated beneath the little cascade. 

The weather was now settled and 
dry, and the river sank rapidly — six 
inches in twenty-four hours. In this 
remote and solitary spot I can say that 
I heard for the first and almost the 
only time the uproar of life at sun- 
set, which Humboldt de- 
scribes as having witnessed 
towards the sources of the 
Orinoco, but which is un- 
known on the banks of the ^ 
larger rivers. The noises of 
animals began just as the 
sun sank behind the trees 
after a sweltering afternoon, 
leaving the sky above of 
the intensest shade of blue. 
Two flocks of howling 
monkeys, one close to our 
canoe, the other about a 
furlong distant, filled the 
echoing forests with their 
dismal roaring. Troops of 
parrots, including the hya- 
cinthine macaw we were 

Sarapo (Carapus.) 



in search of, began then to pass over ; the different 
styles of cawing and screaming of the various species 
making a terrible discord. Added to these noises 
were the songs of strange Cicadas, one large kind 
perched high on the trees around our little haven 
setting up a most piercing chirp : it began with the 
usual harsh jarring tone of its tribe, but this gradually 
and rapidly became shriller, until it ended in a long 
and loud note resembling the steam-whistle of a loco- 
motive engine. Half-a-dozen of these wonderful per- 
formers made a considerable item in the evening 
concert. I had heard the same species before at Para, 
but it was there very uncommon : we obtained here 
one of them for my collection by a lucky blow with a 
stone. The uproar of beasts, birds, and insects lasted 
but a short time : the sky quickly lost its intense hue, 
and the night set in. Then began the tree-frogs — 
quack-quack, drum-drum, hoo-hoo ; these, accompanied 
by a melancholy night-jar, kept up their monotonous 
cries until very late. 

My men encountered on the banks of the stream a 
Jaguar and a black Tiger, and were very much afraid 
of falling in with the Pararauates, so that I could not 
after their return on the fourth day, induce them to 
undertake another journey. We began our descent of 
the river in the evening of the 26th of August. At 
night forest and river were again enveloped in mist, 
and the air before sunrise was quite cold. There is a 
considerable current from the falls to the house of Joao 
Aracu, and we accomplished the distance, with its aid 
and by rowing, in seventeen hours. 


Sept. 21st. — At five o'clock in the afternoon we 
emerged from the confined and stifling gully through 
which the Cupari flows, into the broad Tapajos, and 
breathed freely again. How I enjoyed the extensive 
view after being so long pent up : the mountainous 
coasts, the gray distance, the dark waters tossed by a 
refreshing breeze ! Heat, mosquitoes, insufficient and 
bad food, hard work and anxiety, had brought me to a 
very low state of health ; and I was now anxious to 
make all speed back to Santarem. 

We touched at Aveyros, to embark some chests I had 
left there and to settle accounts with Captain Antonio : 
finding nearly all the people sick with fever and vomit, 
against which the Padre's homoeopathic globules were of 
no avail. The Tapajos had been pretty free from epi- 
demics for some years past, although it was formerly a 
very unhealthy river. A sickly time appeared to be 
now returning : in fact, the year following my visit 
(1853) was the most fatal one ever experienced in this 
part of the country. A kind of putrid fever broke out, 
which attacked people of all races alike. The accounts 
we received at Santarem were most distressing : my 
Cupari friends especially suffered very severely. Joao 
Aracu and his family all fell victims, with the exception 
of his wife : my kind friend Joao Malagueita also died, 
and a great number of people in the Mundurucii village. 
The descent of the Tapajos in the height of the dry 
season, which was now close at hand, is very hazardous 
on account of the strong winds, absence of current, and 
shoaly water far away from the coasts. The river towards 
the end of September is about thirty feet shallower 


than in June ; and in many places, ledges of rock are 
laid tare, or covered with only a small depth of water. 
I had been warned of these circumstances by my Cupari 
friends, but did not form an adequate idea of what 
Ave should have to undergo. Canoes, in descending, only 
travel at night, when the terral, or light land-breeze, 
blows off the eastern shore. In the day-time a strong 
wind rages from down river, against which it is impos- 
sible to contend, as there is no current, and the swell 
raised by its sweeping over scores of miles of shallow 
water is dangerous to small vessels. The coast for the 
greater part of the distance affords no shelter : there are, 
however, a number of little harbours, called esperas, 
which the canoe-men calculate upon, carefully arranging 
each night-voyage so as to reach one of them before the 
wind begins the next morning. 

We left Aveyros in the evening of the 21st, and 
sailed gently down with the soft land-breeze, keeping 
about a mile from the eastern shore. It was a brilliant 
moonlit night, and the men worked cheerfully at the 
oars, when the wind was slack ; the terral wafting from 
the forest a pleasant perfume like that of mignonette. 
At midnight we made a fire and got a cup of coffee, 
and at three o'clock in the morning reached the sitio of 
Ricardo's father, an Indian named Andre, where we 
anchored and slept. 

Sept. 22nd. — Old Andre with his squaw came aboard 
this morning. They brought three Tracajas, a turtle, 
and a basketful of Tracaja eggs, to exchange with me 
for cotton cloth and casha9a. Ricardo, who had been for 
some time very discontented, having now satisfied his long- 


ing to see his parents cheerfully agreed to accompany me 
to Santarem. The loss of a man at this juncture would 
have been very annoying, with Captain Antonio ill at 
Aveyros, and not a hand to be had anywhere in the 
neighbourhood ; but if we had not called at Andre s 
sitio, we should not have been able to have kept 
Ricardo from running away at the first landing-place. 
He was a lively, restless lad, and although impudent 
and troublesome at first, had made a very good servant ; 
his companion, Alberto, was of quite a different dispo- 
sition, being extremely taciturn, and going through all 
his duties with the quietest regularity. 

We left at 11 a.m., and progressed a little before the 
wind began to blow from down river, when we were 
obliged again to cast anchor. The terral began at 
six o'clock in the evening, and we sailed with it past the 
long line of rock-bound coast near Itapuama. At 
ten o'clock a furious blast of wind came from a cleft 
between the hills, catching us with the sails close-hauled, 
and throwing the canoe nearly on its beam-ends, when 
we were about a mile from the shore. Jose had the 
presence of mind to slacken the sheet of the mainsail, 
whilst I leapt forward and lowered the sprit of the 
foresail ; the two Indians standing stupified in the prow. 
It was what the canoemen call a trovoada secca or white 
squall. The river in a few minutes became a sheet 
of foam ; the wind ceased in about half an hour, but 
the terral was over for the night, so we pulled towards 
the shore to find an anchoring place. 

We reached Tapaiuna by midnight on the 23rd, and 
on the morning of the 24th arrived at the Retiro, where 



we met a shrewd Santarem trader, whom I knew, 
Senhor Chico Honorio, who had a larger and much 
better provided canoe than our own. The wind was 
strong from below all day, so we remained at this place 
in his company. He had his wife with him, and a 
number of Indians, male and female. We slung our 
hammocks under the trees, and breakfasted and dined 
together, our cloth being spread on the sanely beach 
in the shade ; after killing a large quantity of fish with 
Umbo, of which we had obtained a supply at Itapuama. 
At night we were again under way with the land 
breeze. The water was shoaly to a great distance off the 
coast, and our canoe having the lighter draught went 
ahead, our leadsman crying out the soundings to our 
companion : the depth was only one fathom, half a mile 
from the coast. We spent the next day (25th) at the 
mouth of a creek called Pirn, which is exactly opposite 
the village of Boim, and on the following night ad- 
vanced about twelve miles. Every point of land had a 
long spit of sand stretching one or two miles towards 
the middle of the river, which it was necessary to double 
by a wide circuit. The terral failed us at midnight 
when we were near an espera, called Marai, the mouth 
of a shallow creek. 

Sept. 26th. — I did not like the prospect of spending the 
whole dreary day at Marai*, where it was impossible to 
ramble ashore, the forest being utterly impervious, and 
the land still partly under water. Besides, we had used 
up our last stick of firewood to boil our coffee at sun- 
rise, and could not get a fresh supply at this place. 
So there being a dead calm on the river in the morning, 


I gave orders at ten o'clock to move out of the harbour, 
and try with the oars to reach Paquiatuba, which was 
only five miles distant. We had doubled the shoaly 
point which stretches from the mouth of the creek, and 
were making way merrily across the bay, at the head of 
which was the port of the little settlement, when we 
beheld to our dismay, a few miles down the river, the 
signs of the violent day breeze coming down upon us — 
a^long, rapidly advancing line of foam with the darkened 
water behind it. Our men strove in vain to gain the 
harbour ; the wind overtook us, and we cast anchor in 
three fathoms, with two miles of shoaly water between 
us and the land on our lee. It came with the force of 
a squall : the heavy billows washing over the vessel 
and drenching us with the spray. I did not expect that 
our anchor would hold ; I gave out, however, plenty of 
cable and watched the result at the prow ; Jose placing 
himself at the helm, and the men standing by the jib and 
foresail, so as to be ready, if we dragged, to attempt the 
passage of the Mara'i spit, which was now almost dead 
to leeward. Our little bit of iron, however, held its 
place ; the bottom being fortunately not so sandy as 
in most other parts of the coast ; but our weak cable 
then began to cause us anxiety. We remained in 
this position all day without food, for everything was 
tossing about in the hold ; provision-chests, baskets, 
kettles, and crockery. The breeze increased in strength 
towards the evening, when the sun set fiery red behind 
the misty hills on the western shore, and the gloom of 
the scene was heightened by the strange contrasts of 
colour ; the inky water and the lurid gleam of the sky. 



Heavy seas beat now and then against the prow of our 
vessel with a force that made her shiver. If we had 
gone ashore in this place, all my precious collections 
would have been inevitably lost ; but we ourselves could 
have scrambled easily to land, and re-embarked with 
Senhor Honorio, who had remained behind in the Pini, 
and would pass in the course of two or three days. 
When night came I lay down exhausted with watching 
and fatigue, and fell asleep, as my men had done some 
time before. About nine o'clock, I was awoke by the 
montaria bumping against the sides of the vessel, 
which had veered suddenly round, and the full moon, 
previously astern, then shone full in the cabin. The 
wind had abruptly ceased, giving place to light puffs 
from the eastern shore, and leaving a long swell rolling 
into the shoaly bay. 

After this I resolved not to move a step beyond 
Paquiatuba without an additional man, and one who 
understood the navigation of the river at this season. 
We reached the landing-place at ten o'clock, and 
anchored within the mouth of the creek. In the 
morning I walked through the beautiful shady alleys 
of the forest, which were water-paths in June when 
we touched here in ascending the river, to the house 
of Inspector Cypriano. After an infinite deal of trouble 
I succeeded in persuading him to furnish me with 
another Indian. There are about thirty families esta- 
blished in this place, but the able-bodied men had been 
nearly all drafted off within the last few weeks by the 
Government, to accompany a military expedition against 
runaway negroes, settled in villages in the interior. 


Senhor Cypriano was a pleasant-looking and extremely 
civil young Mameluco. He accompanied us, on the 
nio'ht of the 28th, five miles down the river to Point 
Jaguarari, where the man lived whom he intended to 
send with me. I was glad to find my new hand a 
steady, middle-aged, and married Indian ; his name was 
of very good promise, Angelo Custodio (Guardian Angel). 
After the 26th of September the north-west day- 
breeze came every morning with the same strength, be- 
ginning at ten or eleven o'clock, and ending suddenly at 
seven or eight in the evening. The moon was in her 
third quarter, and we had many successive days and 
nights of clear, cloudless sky. I believe this wind to be 
closely connected with the easterly trade-wind of the 
main Amazons ; indeed, to be the same, reflected from 
the west after the land-surface in that quarter has been 
cooled by it to a much lower point than the sun- 
heated surface of the stagnant Tapajos. The wind 
always arose in the morning after the air in the direc- 
tion of the north-west had been further cooled by ra- 
diation of heat during the nisfht ; and it ceased in the 
evening, when the equilibrium of temperature between 
the Tapajos and the Amazons had become restored. The 
light land breeze from the east which always began to 
blow soon after the strong north-wester ceased, is attri 
butable in like manner to the wooded surface of the 
land being then cooler than the air on the river. The 
terral lasted generally from 7 until 11 p.m., but after 
midnight it usually veered gradually to the north-east, 
and blew rather freshly from that quarter towards 


Point Jaguarari forms at this season of the year a 
high sandbank, which is prolonged as a narrow spit, 
stretching about three miles towards the middle of the 
river. We rounded this with great difficulty in the 
night of the 29th ; reaching before daylight a good 
shelter behind a similar sandbank at Point Acara- 
tingari, a headland situated not more than five miles in 
a straight line from our last anchoring place. We 
remained here all day ; the men beating Umbo in a 
quiet pool between the sandbank and the mainland, and 
obtaining a great quantity of fish, from which I selected 
six species new to my collection. We made rather better 
progress the two following nights, but the terral now 
always blew strongly from the north -north -east after 
midnight, and thus limited the hours during which we 
could navigate, forcing us to seek the nearest shelter 
to avoid being driven back faster than we came. 

On the 2nd of October we reached Point Cajetilba 
and had a pleasant day ashore. The river scenery 
in this neighbourhood is of -the greatest beauty. A 
few houses of settlers are seen at the bottom of the 
broad bay of Aramana-i at the foot of a range of 
richly-timbered hills, the high beach of snow-white sand 
stretching in a bold curve from point to point. The 
opposite shores of the river are ten or eleven miles 
distant, but towards the north is a clear horizon of water 
and sky. The country near Point Cajetilba is similar 
to the neighbourhood of Santarem : namely, campos 
with scattered trees. We gathered a large quantity of 
wild fruit : Cajii, Umiri,and Aapiranga. The Umiri berry 
(Humirium floribundum) is a black drupe similar in 

Chap. II. POINT CURURU. 151 

appearance to the damascene plum, and not greatly 
unlike it in taste. The Aapiranga is a bright vermilion- 
coloured berry, with a hard skin and a sweet viscid pulp 
enclosing the seeds. Between the point and Altar do 
Chao was a long stretch of sandy beach with moderately 
deep water ; our men, therefore, took a rope ashore and 
towed the cuberta at merry speed until we reached the 
village. A long, deeply-laden canoe with miners from 
the interior provinces here passed us. It was manned 
by ten Indians, who propelled the boat by poles ; the 
men, five on each side, trotting one after the other 
along a plank arranged for the purpose from stem to 

It took us two nights to double Point Cururii, where, 
as already mentioned, the river bends from its northerly 
course beyond Altar do Chao. A confused pile of rocks, 
on which many a vessel heavily laden with farinha has 
been wrecked, extends at the season of low water from 
the foot of a high bluff far into the stream. We were 
driven back on the first night (October 3rd) by a squall. 
The light terral was carrying us pleasantly round the 
spit, when a small black cloud which lay near the rising 
moon suddenly spread over the sky to the northward ; 
the land-breeze then ceased, and furious blasts began to 
blow across the river. We regained, with great difficulty, 
the shelter of the point. It blew almost a hurricane 
for two hours, during the whole of which time the sky 
over our heads was' beautifully clear and starlit. Our 
shelter at first was not very secure, for the wind blew 
away the lashings of our sails, and caused our anchor to 
drag. Angelo Custodio, however, seized a rope which 


was attached to the foremast and leapt ashore ; had he 
not done so, we should probably have been driven many 
miles backwards up the storm-tossed river. After the 
cloud had passed, the regular east wind began to blow, 
and our further progress was effectually stopped for the 
night. The next day we all went ashore, after securing 
well the canoe, and slept from eleven o'clock till five 
under the shade of trees. 

The distance between Point Cururii and Santarem 
was accomplished in three days, against the same diffi- 
culties of contrary and furious winds, shoaly water, and 
rocky coasts. I was thankful at length to be safely 
housed, with the whole of my collections, made under so 
many privations and perils, landed without the loss or 
damage of a specimen. The men, after unloading the 
canoe and delivering it to its owner, came to receive 
their payment. They took part in goods and part in 
money, and after a good supper, on the night of the 
7th October, shouldered their bundles and set off to 
walk by land some eighty miles to their homes. I was 
rather surprised at the good feeling exhibited by these 
poor Indians at parting. Angelo Custodio said that 
whenever I should wish to make another voyage up 
the Tapajos, he would be always ready to serve me as 
pilot. Alberto was undemonstrative as usual ; but 
Ricardo, with whom I had had many sharp quarrels, 
actually shed tears when he shook hands and bid me 
the final " adeos." 



Departure from Barra — First day and night on the Upper Amazons — 
Desolate appearance of river in the flood season — Cucama Indians 
— Mental condition of Indians — Scpialls — Manatee — Forest — Float- 
ing pumice-stones from the Andes — Falling banks — Ega and its 
inhabitants — Daily life of a Naturalist at Ega — Customs, trade, 
&c. — The four seasons of the Upper Amazons. 

I MUST now take the reader from the picturesque, hilly 
country of the Tapajos, and its dark, streamless waters, 
to the boundless, wooded plains and yellow, turbid cur- 
rent of the Upper Amazons or Solimoens. I will resume 
the narrative of my first voyage up the river, which 
was interrupted at the Barra of the Rio Negro in the 
seventh chapter to make way for the description of 
Santarem and its neighbourhood. 

I embarked at Barra on the 26th of March, 1850, 
three years before steamers were introduced on the 
upper river, in a cuberta which was returning to Ega, 
the first and only town of any importance in the vast 
solitudes of the Solimoens, from Santarem, whither it 
had been sent with a cargo of turtle oil in earthenware 
jars. The owner, an old white-haired Portuguese trader of 
Ega named Daniel Cardozo, was then at Barra, attending 


the assizes as juryman, a public duty performed without 
remuneration, which took him six weeks away from his 
business. He was about to leave Barra himself, in a 
small boat, and recommended me to send forward my 
heavy baggage in the cuberta and make the journey 
with him. He would reach Ega, 370 miles distant from 
Barra, in twelve or fourteen days ; whilst the large 
vessel would be thirty or forty days on the road. I 
preferred, however, to go in company with my luggage, 
looking forward to the many opportunities I should 
have of landing and making collections on the banks of 
the river. 

I shipped the collections made between Para and the 
Bio Negro in a large cutter which was about descend- 
ing to the capital, and after a heavy day's work got all 
my chests aboard the Ega canoe by eight o'clock at 
night. The Indians were then all embarked, one of 
them being brought dead drunk by his companions, and 
laid to sober himself all night on the wet boards of the 
tombadilha. The cabo, a spirited young white, named 
Estulano Alves Cameiro, who has since risen to be a 
distinguished citizen of the new province of the Upper 
Amazons, soon after gave orders to get up the anchor. 
The men took to the oars, and in a few hours we crossed 
the broad mouth of the Rio Negro ; the night being 
clear, calm, and starlit, and the surface of the inky 
waters smooth as a lake. 

When I awoke the next morning, we were progressing 
by espia along the left bank of the Solimoens. The 
rainy season had now set in over the region through 
which the great river flows ; the sand-banks and all the 

Chap. III. CLIMATE. 155 

lower lands were already under water, and the tearing 
current, two or three miles in breadth, bore along a 
continuous line of uprooted trees and islets of floating 
plants. The prospect was most melancholy ; no sound 
was heard but the dull murmur of the waters ; the 
coast along which we travelled all day was encumbered 
every step of the way with fallen trees, some of which 
quivered in the currents which set around projecting 
points of land. Our old pest, the Motuca, began to 
torment us as soon as the sun gained power in the 
morning. White egrets were plentiful at the edge of the 
water, and humming-birds, in some places, were whirring 
about the flowers overhead. The desolate appearance 
of the landscape increased after sunset, when the moon 
rose in mist. 

This upper river, the Alto-Amazonas or Solimoens, is 
always spoken of by the Brazilians as a distinct stream. 
This is partly owing, as before remarked, to the direc- 
tion it seems to take at the fork of the Rio Negro ; the 
inhabitants of the country, from their partial knowledge, 
not being able to comprehend the whole river system 
in one view. It has, however, many peculiarities to 
distinguish it from the lower course of the river. The > 
trade-wind or sea-breeze, which reaches, in the height I 
of the dry season, as far as the mouth of the Rio Negro, 
900 or 1000 miles from the Atlantic, never blows on 
the upper river. The atmosphere is therefore more 
stagnant and sultry, and the winds that do prevail are 
of irregular direction and short duration. A great part 
of the land on the borders of the Lower Amazons is 
hilly ; there are extensive campos or open plains, and 


long stretches of sandy soil clothed with thinner forests. 
The climate, in consequence, is comparatively dry, many 
months in succession during the fine season passing 
without rain. All this is changed on the Solimoens. 
A fortnight of clear, sunny weather is a rarity : the 
whole region through which the river and its affluents 
flow, after leaving the easternmost ridges of the Andes, 
which Poppig describes as rising like a wall from the 
level country 240 miles from the Pacific, is a vast 
plain, about 1000 miles in length, and 500 or 600 
in breadth, covered with one uniform, lofty, imper- 
vious, and humid forest. The soil is nowhere sandy, 
but always either a stiff clay, alluvium, or vegetable 
mould, which latter, in many places, is seen in water- 
worn sections of the river banks to be twenty or 
thirty feet in depth. With such a soil and climate, 
the luxuriance of vegetation, and the abundance and 
beauty of animal forms which are already so great in 
the region nearer the Atlantic, increase on the upper 
river. The fruits, both wild and cultivated, common to 
the two sections of the country, reach a progressively 
larger size in advancing westward, and some trees which 
blossom only once a year at Para and Santarem, yield 
flower and fruit all the year round at Ega. The climate 
is healthy, although one lives here as in a permanent 
vapour bath. I must not, however, give here a lengthy 
description of the region whilst we are yet on its 
threshold. I resided and travelled on the Solimoens 
altogether for four years and a half. The country on 
its borders is a magnificent wilderness where civilized 
man, as yet, has scarcely obtained a footing ; the culti- 


vated ground from the Rio Negro to the Andes amount- 
ing only to a few score acres. Man, indeed, in any 
condition, from his small numbers, makes but au insig- 
nificant figure in these vast solitudes. It may be men- 
tioned that the Solimoens is 2130 miles in length, if we 
reckon from the source of what is usually considered the 
main stream (Lake Lauricocha, near Lima) ; but 2500 
miles by the route of the Ucayali, the most considerable 
and practicable fork of the upper part of the river. It 
is navigable at all seasons by large steamers for 
upwards of 1400 miles from the mouth of the Rio 

On the 28th we passed the mouth of Ariauii, a narrow 
inlet which communicates with the Rio Negro, emerg- 
ing in front of Barra. Our vessel was nearly drawn into 
this by the violent current which set from the Solimoens. 
The towing-cable was lashed to a strong tree about thirty 
yards ahead, and it took the whole strength of crew and 
passengers to pull across. We passed the Guariba, a 
second channel connecting the two rivers, on the 30th, 
and on the 31st sailed past a straggling settlement 
called Manacapurii, situated on a high, rocky bank. 
Many citizens of Barra have sitios, or country-houses, in 
this place, although it is eighty miles distant from the 
town by the nearest road. They come here for a few 
weeks in the fine season to economise, and pass the time 
in planting on a small scale, fishing, and trading. The 
custom of having two places of residence is very general 
throughout the country, and exists amongst the abori- 
gines, at least the more advanced tribes. Some of the 


establishments at Manacapurii are large and of old date, 
shown by the number and size of the mangos and other 
introduced fruit-trees. The houses, though spacious, 
were now in a neglected and ruinous condition. Estu- 
lano and I landed at one of them, and dined off roasted 
wild hog with the owner, an uncommonly lively little 
old man, named Feyres. The place looked dirty and 
desolate ; the stucco and whitewash had peeled off in 
great pieces from the walls ; the doors and window- 
shutters were broken and off their hinges ; the dingy 
mud-floors were covered with litter, and the cultivated 
grounds around the house choked with weeds. The 
hio'h bank, and with it the settlement, terminates 
at the mouth of a narrow channel which leads to 
a large interior lake abounding in fish, manatee, and 

Beyond Manacapurii all traces of high land cease ; 
both shores of the river, henceforward for many hundred 
miles, are flat, except in places where the Tabatinga 
formation appears in clayey elevations of from twenty to 
forty feet above the line of highest water. The country 
is so completely destitute of rocky or gravelly beds that 
not a pebble is seen during many weeks' journey. Our 
voyage was now very monotonous. After leaving 
the last house at Manacapurii we travelled nineteen 
days without seeing a human habitation, the few settlers 
being located on the banks of inlets or lakes some dis- 
tance from the shores of the main river. We met only 
one vessel during the whole of the time, and this did 
not come within hail, as it was drifting down in the 
middle of the current in a broad part of the river two 


miles from the bank along which we were laboriously 
warping our course upwards. 

After the first two or three days we fell into a re- 
gular way of life aboard. Our crew was composed 
of ten Indians of the Cucama nation, whose native 
country is a portion of the borders of the upper river 
in the neighbourhood of Nauta, in Peru. The 
Cucamas speak the Tupi language, using, however, a 
harsher accent than is common amongst the semi- 
civilized Indians from Ega downwards. They are a 
shrewd, hard-working people, and are the only Indians 
who willingly and in a body engage themselves to na- 
vigate the canoes of traders. The pilot, a steady and 
faithful fellow named Vicente, told me that he and his 
companions had now been fifteen months absent from 
their wives and families, and that on arriving at Ega 
they intended to take the first chance of a passage to 
Nauta. There was nothing in the appearance of these 
men to distinguish them from canoemen in general. 
Some were tall and well built, others had squat figures 
with broad shoulders and excessively thick arms and 
legs. No two of them were at all similar in the shape 
of the head : Vicente had an oval visage with fine 
regular features, whilst a little dumpy fellow, the wag 
of the party, was quite a Mongolian in breadth and 
prominence of cheek, spread of nostrils, and obliquity 
of eyes ; these two formed the extremes as to face and 
figure. None of them were tattooed or disfigured in 
any way ; they were all quite destitute of beard. The 
Cucamas are notorious on the river for their provident 
habits. The desire of acquiring property is so rare a 


trait in Indians that the habits of these people are 
remarked on with surprise by the Brazilians. The first 
possession which they strive to acquire on descending 
the river into Brazil, which all the Peruvian Indians 
look upon as a richer country than their own, is a wooden 
trunk with lock and key ; in this they stow away care- 
fully all their earnings converted into clothing, hatchets, 
knives, harpoon heads, needles and thread, and so forth. 
Their wages are only fourpence or sixpence a day, 
which are often paid in goods charged a hundred per 
cent, above Para prices, so that it takes them a long 
time to fill their chest. 

It would be difficult to find a better-behaved set of 
men in a voyage than these poor Indians. During our 
thirty-five days' journey they lived and worked toge- 
ther in the most perfect good fellowship. I never heard 
an angry word pass amongst them. Senhor Estulano 
let them navigate the vessel in their own way, exerting 
his authority only now and then when they were in- 
clined to be lazy. Vicente regulated the working hours. 
These depended on the darkness of the nights. In the 
first and second quarters of the moon they kept it up 
with espia, or oars, until towards midnight ; in the third 
and fourth quarters they were allowed to go to sleep 
soon after sunset, and aroused at three or four o'clock 
in the morning to resume their work. On cool, rainy 
days we all bore a hand at the espia, trotting with bare 
feet on the sloppy deck in Indian file to the tune of 
some wild boatman's chorus. We had a favourable 
wind for two days only out of the thirty-five, by which 
we made about forty miles ; the rest of our long journey 


was accomplished literally by pulling our way from 
tree to tree. When we encountered a remanso near 
the shore we got along very pleasantly for a few 
miles by rowing ; but this was a rare occurrence. 
During leisure hours the Indians employed themselves 
in sewing. Vicente was a good hand at cutting 
out shirts and trousers, and acted as master tailor to 
the whole party. Each had a thick steel thimble and 
a stock of needles and thread of his own. Vicente 
made for me a set of blue-check cotton shirts during 
the passage. 

The goodness of these Indians, like that of most 
others amongst whom I lived, consisted perhaps more 
in the absence of active bad qualities, than in the pos- 
session of good ones ; in other words, it was negative 
rather than positive. Their phlegmatic, apathetic tem- 
perament ; coldness of desire and deadness of feeling ; 
want of curiosity and slowness of intellect, make the 
Amazonian Indians very uninteresting companions any- 
where. Their imagination is of a dull, gloomy quality, 
and they seem never to be stirred by the emotions : — 
love, pity, admiration, fear, wonder, joy, enthusiasm. 
These are characteristics of the whole race. The 
good fellowship of our Cucamas seemed to arise, not 
from warm sympathy, but simply from the absence of 
eager selfishness in small matters. On the morning" 
when the favourable wind sprung up, one of the 
crew, a lad of about seventeen years of age, was 
absent ashore at the time of starting, having gone 
alone in one of the montarias to gather wild fruit. 
The sails were spread and we travelled for several 



hours at great speed, leaving the poor fellow to paddle 
after us against the strong current. Vicente, who 
might have waited a few minutes at starting, and 
the others, only laughed when the hardship of their 
companion was alluded to. He overtook us at night, 
having worked his way with frightful labour the 
whole day without a morsel of food. He grinned when 
he came on board, and not a dozen words were said on 
either side. 

Their want of curiosity is extreme. One day we had 
an unusually sharp thunder-shower. The crew were 
lying about the deck, and after each explosion all set up 
a loud laugh ; the wag of the party exclaiming " There's 
my old uncle hunting again ! " an expression showing 
the utter emptiness of mind of the spokesman. I asked 
Vicente what he thought was the cause of lightning and 
thunder ? He said, " Timaa ichoqua," — I don't know. 
He had never given the subject a moment's thought ! 
It was the same with other things. I asked him who 
made the sun, the stars, the trees ? He didn't know, 
and had never heard the subject mentioned amongst his 
tribe. The Tupi language, at least as taught by the old 
Jesuits, has a word — Tivpana — signifying God. Vicente 
sometimes used this word, but he showed by his ex- 
pressions that he did not attach the idea of a Creator to 
it. He seemed to think it meant some deity or visible 
image which the whites worshipped in the churches he 
had seen in the villages. None of the Indian tribes on 
the Upper Amazons have an idea of a Supreme Being, 
and consequently have no word to express it in their 
own languages. Vicente thought the river on which we 

Chap. III. WEATHER. 163 

were travelling encircled the whole earth, and that the 
land was an island like those seen in the stream, but 
larger. Here a gleam of curiosity and imagination in 
the Indian mind is revealed : the necessity of a theory 
of the earth and water has been felt, and a theory has 
been suggested. In all other matters not concerning 
the common wants of life the mind of Vicente was a 
blank, and such I alwa}-s found to be the case with 
the Indian in his natural state. Would a community 
of any race of men be otherwise, were they isolated 
for centuries in a wilderness like the Amazonian 
Indians, associated in small numbers wholly occu- 
pied in procuring a mere subsistence, and without 
a written language, or a leisured class to hand 
down acquired knowledge from generation to gene- 
ration ? 

One day a smart squall gave us a good lift onward ; 
it came with a cold, fine, driving rain, which enveloped 
the desolate landscape as with a mist : the forest 
swayed and roared with the force of the gale, and flocks 
of birds were driven about in alarm over the tree-tops. 
On another occasion a similar squall came from an 
unfavourable quarter : it fell upon us quite unawares 
when we had all our sails out to dry, and blew us broad- 
side foremost on the shore. The vessel was fairly lifted 
on to the tall bushes which lined the banks, but we sus- 
tained no injury beyond the entanglement of our rigging 
in the branches. The days and nights usually passed 
in a dead calm, or with light intermittent winds from 
up river and consequently full against us. We landed 
twice a day to give ourselves and the Indians a little 

M 2 


rest and change, and to cook our two meals — break- 
fast and dinner. There was another passenger beside 
myself — a cautious, middle-aged Portuguese, who was 
going to settle at Ega, where he had a brother 
long since established. He was accommodated in 
the fore-cabin, or arched covering over the hold. I 
shared the cabin-proper with Senhores Estulano and 
Manoel, the latter a young half-caste, son-in-law to 
the owner of the vessel, under whose tuition I made 
good progress in learning the Tupi language during 
the voyage. 

Our men took it in turns, two at a time, to go out 
fishing ; for which purpose we carried a spare montaria. 
The master had brought from Barra, as provisions, 
nothing but stale, salt pirarucu — half-rotten fish, in 
large, thin, rusty slabs — farinha, coffee, and treacle. In 
these voyages passengers are expected to provide for 
themselves, as no charge is made except for freight of 
the heavy luggage or cargo they take with them. The 
Portuguese and myself had brought a few luxuries, such 
as beans, sugar, biscuits, tea, and so forth ; but we 
found ourselves almost obliged to share them with our 
two companions and the pilot, so that before the voyage 
was one-third finished, the small stock of most of these 
articles was exhausted. In return, we shared in what- 
ever the men brought. Sometimes they were quite 
unsuccessful, for fish is extremely difficult to procure in 
the season of high water, on account of the lower lands 
lying between the inlets and infinite chain of pools and 
lakes being flooded from the main river, thus increasing 
tenfold the area over which the finny population has 

Chap. III. COW-FISH. 165 

to range. On most days, however, they brought two or 
three fine fish, and once they harpooned a manatee, or 
Vacca marina. On this last-mentioned occasion we made 
quite a holiday ; the canoe was stopped for six or seven 
hours, and all turned out into the forest to help to skin 
and cook the animal. The meat was cut into cubical 
slabs, and each person skewered a dozen or so of these 
on a long stick. Fires were made, and the spits stuck 
in the ground and slanted over the flames to roast. A 
drizzling rain fell all the time, and the ground around the 
fires swarmed with stinging ants, attracted by the entrails 
and slime which were scattered about. The meat has 
somewhat the taste of very coarse pork ; but the fat, 
which lies in thick layers between the lean parts, is of a 
greenish colour, and of a disagreeable, fishy flavour. The 
animal was a large one, measuring nearly ten feet in 
length, and nine in girth at the broadest part. The 
manatee is one of the few objects which excite the 
dull wonder and curiosity of the Indians, notwithstand- 
ing its commonness. The fact of its suckling its young at 
the breast, although an aquatic animal resembling a fish, 
seems to strike them as something very strange. The 
animal, as it lay on its back, with its broad rounded 
head and muzzle, tapering body, and smooth, thick, 
lead- coloured skin, reminded me of those Egyptian 
tombs which are made of dark, smooth stone, and shaped 
to the human figure. 

It rarely happened that we caught anything near the 
canoe ; but one day, as we were slowly progressing 
along a remanso past a thick bed of floating grasses, 
the men caught sight of a large Pirarucu : the fish 


which, salted, forms the staple food of all classes in 
most parts of the Lower Amazons country. It darted 
past with great speed close to the surface of the water, 
exhibiting its ornamental coat of mail, the extremely 
large, broad scales being margined with bright red. One 
of the Indians seized a harpoon and, jumping into the 
montaria, w T as after it in a moment. He killed it at 
the distance of a few yards, as it was plunging amongst 
the entangled beds of grass. The fish was a nearly 
full-grown one, measuring eight feet in length and 
five in girth, and supplied us all with two plentiful 
meals. The best parts only were cooked, the rest being 
thrown most improvidently to the vultures. The 
Indian name Pirarucu, or Anatto fish (from Pira, 
fish ; and urucu, anatto or red), is in allusion to the 
red colour of the borders of its scales, and is a sample 
of the figurative style of nomenclature of the Tupi 

Notwithstanding the hard fare, the confinement of 
the canoe, the trying weather, — frequent and drenching 
rains with gleams of fiery sunshine, — and the woful 
desolation of the river scenery, I enjoyed the voyage on 
the whole. We were not much troubled by mosquitoes, 
and therefore passed the nights very pleasantly, sleeping 
on deck wrapped in blankets or old sails. When the 
rains drove us below we were less comfortable, as there 
was only just room in the small cabin for three of us to 
lie close together, and the confined air was stifling. I 
became inured to the Piums in the course of the first 
week ; all the exposed parts of my body, by that time, 
being so closely covered with black punctures that the 

Chap. III. PALM-FRUITS. 1(57 

little bloodsuckers could not very easily find an un- 
occupied place to operate upon. Poor Miguel, the 
Portuguese, suffered horribly from these pests, his 
ancles and wrists being so much inflamed that he was 
confined to his hammock, slung in the hold, for weeks. 
At every landing-place I had a ramble in the forest 
whilst the red skins made the fire and cooked the meal. 
The result was a large daily addition to my collection of 
insects, reptiles, and shells. Sometimes the neighbour- 
hood of our gipsy-like encampment was a tract of dry 
and spacious forest pleasant to ramble in ; but more 
frequently it was a rank wilderness, into which it was 
impossible to penetrate many yards, on account of 
uprooted trees, entangled webs of monstrous woody 
climbers, thickets of spiny bamboos, swamps, or obsta- 
cles of one kind or other. The drier lands were some- 
times beautified to the highest degree by groves of the 
Urucuri palm"(Attalea excelsa), which grew by thousands 
under the crowns of the lofty, ordinary forest trees ; 
their smooth columnar stems being all of nearly equal 
height (forty or fifty feet), and their broad, finely- 
pinnated leaves interlocking above to form arches and 
woven canopies of elegant and diversified shapes. The 
fruit of this palm ripens on the upper river in • April, 
and during our voyage I saw immense quantities of 
it strewn about under the trees in places where we 
encamped. It is similar in size and shape to the date, 
and has a pleasantly-flavoured juicy pulp. The 'Indians 
would not eat it ; I was surprised at this, as they 
greedily devoured many other kinds of palm fruit 
whose sour and fibrous pulp was much less palatable. 


Vicente shook his head when he saw me one day eating 
a quantity of the Urucuri plums. I am not sure they 
were not the cause of a severe indigestion under which 
I suffered for many days afterwards. 

In passing slowly along the interminable wooded 
banks week after week, I observed that there were 
three tolerably distinct kinds of coast and corresponding 
forest constantly recurring on this upper river. First, 
there were the low and most recent alluvial deposits, — 
a mixture of sand and mud, covered with tall, broad- 
leaved grasses, or with the arrow-gra,ss before described, 
whose feathery-topped flower-stem rises to a height of 
fourteen or fifteen feet. The only large trees which 
grow in these places are the Cecropise. Many of the 
smaller and newer islands were of this description. 
Secondly, there were the moderately high banks, which 
are only partially overflowed when the flood season is 
at its height ; these are wooded with a magnificent, 
varied forest, in which a great variety of palms and 
broad-leaved Marantacese form a very large proportion of 
the vegetation. The general foliage is of a vivid light- 
green hue ; the water frontage is sometimes covered 
with a diversified mass of greenery ; but where the 
current sets strongly against the friable, earthy banks, 
which at low water are twenty-five to thirty feet high, 
these are cut away, and expose a section of forest where 
the trunks of trees loaded with epiphytes appear in 
massy colonnades. One might safely say that three- 
fourths of the land bordering the Upper Amazons, for a 
thousand miles, belong to this second class. The third 
description of coast is the higher, undulating, clayey 

Chap. III. 



land, which appears only at long intervals, but extends 
sometimes for 
many miles along 
the borders of the 
river. The coast 
at these places is 
sloping, and composed of red or 
variegated clay. The forest is 
of a different character from that 
of the lower tracts : it is rounder 
in outline, more uniform in its 
general aspect ; palms are much 
less numerous and of peculiar 
species — the strange bulging- 
stemmed species, Iriartea ventri- 
cosa, and the slender, glossy- 
leaved Bacaba-i (CEnocarpus mi- 
nor), being especially charac- 
teristic ; and, in short, animal 
life, which imparts some cheer- 
fulness to the other parts of the 
river, is seldom apparent. This 
"terra firme," as it is called, 
and a large portion of the fertile 
lower land, seemed well adapted 
for settlement ; some parts were 
originally peopled by the abo- 
rigines, but these have long since 
become extinct or amalgamated 
with the white immigrants. I 

. _>•: 

Bulging-stemmed Palm : Pashiuba barrigudo (Iriartea ventricosa). 


afterwards learnt that there were not more than 
eighteen or twenty families settled throughout the 
whole country from Manacapuru. to Quary, a distance 
of 240 miles ; and these, as before observed, do not 
live on the banks of the main stream, but on the 
shores of inlets and lakes. 

The fishermen twice brought me small rounded pieces 
of very porous pumice-stone, which they had picked up 
floating on the surface of the main current of the river. 
They were to me objects of great curiosity as being 
messengers from the distant volcanoes of the Andes : 
Cotopaxi, Llanganete, or Sangay, which rear their peaks 
amongst the rivulets that feed some of the early tribu- 
taries of the Amazons, such as the Macas, the Pastaza, 
and the Napo. The stones must have already travelled 
a distance of 1200 miles. I afterwards found them 
rather common : the Brazilians use them for cleaning 
rust from their guns, and firmly believe them to be 
solidified river foam. A friend once brought me, when 
I lived at Santarem, a large piece which had been found 
in the middle of the stream below Monte Alegre, about 

000 miles further down the river : having reached this 
distance, pumice-stones would be pretty sure of being 
carried out to sea, and floated thence with the north- 
westerly Atlantic current to shores many thousand miles 
distant from the volcanoes which ejected them. They 
are sometimes found stranded on the banks in different 
parts of the river. Reflecting on this circumstance since 

1 arrived in England, the probability of these porous 
fragments serving as vehicles for the transportation of 

| seeds of plants, eggs of insects, spawn of fresh-water 


fish, and so forth, has suggested itself to me. Their 
rounded, water-worn appearance showed that they must 
have been rolled about for a long time in the shallow 
streams near the sources of the rivers at the feet of the 
volcanoes, before they leapt the waterfalls and embarked 
on the currents which lead direct for the Amazons. 
They may have been originally cast on the land and 
afterwards carried to the rivers by freshets ; in which 
case the eggs and seeds of land insects and plants might 
be accidentally introduced and safely enclosed with 
particles of earth in their cavities. As the speed of the 
current in the rainy season has been observed to be 
from three to five miles an hour, they might travel an 
immense distance before the eggs or seeds were 
destroyed. I am ashamed to say that I neglected the 
opportunity, whilst on the spot, of ascertaining whether 
this was actually the case. The attention of Naturalists 
has only lately been turned to the important subject of 
occasional means of wide dissemination of species of 
animals and plants. Unless such be shown to exist, it 
is impossible to solve some of the most difficult problems 
connected with the distribution of plants and animals. 
Some species, with most limited powers of locomotion, 
are found in opposite parts of the earth, without existing 
in the intermediate regions ; unless it can be shown 
that these may have migrated or been accidentally trans- 
ported from one point to the other, we shall have to 
come to the strange conclusion that the same species 
had been created in two separate districts. 

Canoemen on the Upper Amazons live in constant 


dread of the " terras cahidas," or landslips, which occa- 
sionally take place along the steep, earthy banks ; espe- 
cially when the waters are rising. Large vessels are 
sometimes overwhelmed by these avalanches of earth 
and trees. I should have thought the accounts of them 
exaggerated if I had not had an opportunity during this 
voyage of seeing one on a large scale. One morning I 
was awoke before sunrise by an unusual sound resem- 
bling the roar of artillery. I was lying alone on the top 
of the cabin ; it was very dark, and all my companions 
were asleep, so I lay listening. The sounds came from 
a considerable distance, and the crash which had aroused 
me was succeeded by others much less formidable. The 
first explanation which occurred to me was that it was 
an earthquake ; for, although the night was breathlessly 
calm, the broad river was much agitated and the vessel 
rolled heavily. Soon after, another loud explosion took 
place, apparently much nearer than the former one ; 
then followed others. The thundering peal rolled back- 
wards and forwards, now seeming close at hand, now far 
off ; the sudden crashes being often succeeded by a pause 
or a long-continued dull rumbling. At the second 
explosion, Vicente, who lay snoring by the helm, awoke 
and told me it was a " terra cahida ; " but I could 
scarcely believe him. The day dawned after the uproar 
had lasted about an hour, and we then saw the work of 
destruction going forward on the other side of the river, 
about three miles off. Large masses of forest, including 
trees of colossal size, probably 200 feet in height, were 
rocking to and fro, and falling headlong one after the 
other into the water. After each avalanche the wave 

Chap. III. CUDAJA. 173 

which it caused returned on the crumbly bank with 
tremendous force, and caused the fall of other masses by 
undermining them. The line of coast over which the 
landslip extended was a mile or two in length ; the end 
of it, however, was hid from our view by an intervening 
island. It was a grand sight : each downfall created a 
cloud of spray ; the concussion in one place causing other 
masses to give way a long distance from it, and thus the 
crashes continued, swaying to and fro, with little pro- 
spect of a termination. When we glided out of sight, 
two hours after sunrise, the destruction was still 
going on. 

On the 9th of April we passed the mouth of a narrow 
channel which leads to an extensive lake called Anuri ; 
it lies at the bottom of a long enseada or bay, on the 
north or left side of the river, around which sets the 
whole force of the current. The steamboat company 
have since established a station near this for supplying 
their vessels with firewood. A few miles beyond, on the 
opposite side, we saw the principal mouth of the Purus, 
a very large stream, whose sources are still unknown. 
Salsaparilla and Copauba collectors, the only travellers 
on its waters, have ascended it in small boats a distance 
of two months' journey without meeting with any 
obstruction to navigation. This shows that its course 
lies to a very great extent within the level plain of the 
Upper Amazons. The mouth is not more than a quarter 
of a mile broad, and the water is of an olive-green 

We passed Cudaja on the 12th. This is a channel 


which communicates with an extensive system of back- 
waters and lakes, lying between this part of the river 
and the Japura, 250 miles further west. The inhabi- 
tants of the Solimoens give the name of Cupi}^6 to this 
little-known interior water-system. A Portuguese, 
whom I knew very well, once navigated it throughout 
its whole length. He described the country in glowing 
terms. The waters are clear ; some of the lakes are of 
vast extent, and the land everywhere is level and luxu- 
riantly wooded. It is a more complete solitude than 
the banks of the main river, for the whole region is 
peopled only by a few families of Mura savages. The 
inhabitants of Ega, who are employed in the summer 
season in salting pirarucu, sometimes make their fishing 
stations on the sandy shores of one or other of these 
lakes. The largest of them, whose opposite or northern 
shore is said to be scarcely visible from the south side, 
is called Lake Mura, and is very seldom visited. 

A number of long, straggling islands occur in mid- 
river beyond Cudaja. We passed the mouth of the 
Mamiya, a black -water stream, on the 18th, and on the 
19th arrived at the entrance to Lake Quary. This is 
not, strictly speaking, a lake, but the expansion of the 
united beds of several affluents of the Solimoens, caused 
by the slowly-moving waters of the tributaries origi- 
nally spreading out over the flat alluvial valle}^ into 
which they descend from the higher country of the early 
part of their course, instead of flowing directly into the 
full and swift current of the main river. Henceforward 
most of the branch rivers exhibit these lake-like expan- 
sions of their beds. The same phenomenon takes a 

Chap. III. LAKE OF QUARY. 175 

great variety of forms, and is shown, as already observed 
in the Tapajos and other tributaries of the Lower 
Amazons. The mouth of the Quary, or the channel 
which connects the lake with the Solimoens, is only 
200 or 300 yards broad, and has but a very feeble 
current. It is about half a mile long, and opens on a 
broad sheet of water which is not of imposing magni- 
tude, as it is only a small portion of the lake, this 
having a rather sharp bend in its lower part, so that the 
whole extent is not visible at one view. There is a 
small village on the shores of the inner water, distant 
twelve hours' journey by boat from the entrance. We 
anchored within the mouth, and visited in the montaria 
two or three settlers, whose houses are built in pictu- 
resque situations on the banks of the lower lake not far 
inwards. Several small but navigable streams or inlets 
here fall into the Quary ; the land appeared to be of 
the highest fertility ; we crossed a neck of land on 
foot, from one inlet to another, passing through 
extensive groves of coffee, planted in a loose man- 
ner amongst the forest trees. One of the settlers 
was a Gibraltar Jew, established here many years, and 
thoroughly reconciled to the ways of life of the semi- 
civilised inhabitants. We found him barefoot, with 
trousers turned up to the knee, busily employed with a 
number of Indians — men, women, and children — shelling 
and drying cacao, which grows wild in immense pro- 
fusion in the neighbourhood. He seemed a lively and 
sensible fellow ; was a great admirer of the country, the 
climate, and the people, and had no desire to return to 
Europe. This was the only Jew I met with on the 


upper river ; there are several settled at Santarern, 
Cameta, and Para, where, on account of their dealings 
being fairer than those of Portuguese traders, they do 
a good trade, and live on friendly terms with the 

Our object here was to purchase a supply of fresh 
farinha and anything else we could find in the way of 
provisions, as our farinha had become rotten and unfit 
to eat, and we had been on short rations for several 
days. We got all we wanted except sugar ; not a pound 
of this article of luxury was to be had, and we were 
obliged henceforward to sweeten our coffee with treacle, 
as is the general custom in this part of Brazil. 

We left Quary before sunrise on the 20th. On the 
22nd we threaded the Parana-mirim of Arauana-i, one 
of the numerous narrow by-waters which lie conve- 
niently for canoes away from the main river, and often 
save a considerable circuit round a promontory or island. 
We rowed for half a mile through a magnificent bed of 
Victoria water-lilies ; the flower-buds of which were just 
beginning to expand. Beyond the mouth of the Catua, 
a channel leading to another great lake which we passed 
on the 25th, the river appeared greatly increased in 
breadth. We travelled for three days along a broad 
reach which both up and down river presented a blank 
horizon of water and sky : this clear view was owing to 
the absence of islands, but it renewed one's impressions 
of the magnitude of the stream, which here, 1200 miles 
from its mouth, showed so little diminution of width. 
Further westward a series of large islands commences, 
which divides the river into two and sometimes three 

Chaf. III. MOUTH OF THE TEFFfi. 177 

channels, each about a mile in breadth. We kept 
to the southernmost of these, travelling all day on 
the 30th April along a high and rather sloping 

In the evening we arrived at a narrow opening, which 
would be taken by a stranger navigating the main 
channel for the outlet of some insignificant stream : it 
was the mouth of the Teffe, on whose banks Ega is 
situated, the termination of our voyage. After having 
struggled for thirty-five days with the muddy currents 
and insect pests of the Solimoens, it was unspeakably 
refreshing to find one's-self again in a dark-water 
river, smooth as a lake and free from Pium and Motuca. 
The rounded outline, small foliage, and sombre green 
of the woods, which seemed to rest on the glassy waters, 
made a pleasant contrast to the tumultuous piles of 
rank, glaring, light-green vegetation, and torn, timber- 
strewn banks to which we had been so long accustomed 
on the main river. The men rowed lazily until night- 
fall, when, having done a laborious day's work, they 
discontinued and went to sleep, intending to make 
for Ega in the morning. It was not thought worth 
while to secure the vessel to the trees or cast anchor, as 
there was no current. I sat up for two or three hours 
after my companions had gone to rest, enjoying the 
solemn calm of the night. Not a breath of air stirred; the 
sky was of a deep blue, and the stars seemed to stand 
forth in sharp relief ; there was no sound of life in the 
woods, except the occasional melancholy note of some 
nocturnal bird. I reflected on my own wandering life : I 
had now reached the end of the third stage of my journey, 

VOL. II. x 


and was now more than half way across the continent. It 
was necessary for me, on many accounts, to find a rich 
locality for Natural History explorations, and settle 
myself in it for some months or years. Would the 
neighbourhood of Ega turn out to be suitable, and 
should I, a solitary stranger on a strange errand, find a 
welcome amongst its people ? 

Our Indians resumed their oars at sunrise the next 
morning (May 1st), and after an hour's rowing along 
the narrow channel, which varies in breadth from 100 
to 500 yards, we doubled a low wooded point, and 
emerged suddenly on the so-called Lake of Ega ; a 
magnificent sheet of water, five miles broad — the ex- 
panded portion of the Teffe. It is quite clear of islands, 
and curves away to the west and south, so that its full 
extent is not visible from this side. To the left, on a 
gentle grassy slope at the point of junction of a broad 
tributary with the Teffe, lay the little settlement : a 
cluster of a hundred or so of palm-thatched cottages 
and whitewashed red-tiled houses, each with its neatly- 
enclosed orchard of orange, lemon, banana, and guava 
trees. Groups of palms, with their tall slender shafts 
and feathery crowns, overtopped the buildings and lower 
trees. A broad grass-carpeted street led from the 
narrow strip of white sandy beach to the rudely-built 
barn-like church with its wooden crucifix on the green 
before it, in the centre of the town. Cattle were 
grazing before the houses, and a number of dark-skinned 
natives were taking their morning bath amongst the 
canoes of various sizes which were anchored or moored 
to stakes in the port. We let off rockets and fired 

Chap. III. PEOPLE OF EGA. 179 

salutes, according to custom, in token of our safe arrival, 
and shortly afterwards went ashore. 

A few days' experience of the people and the forests 
of the vicinity showed me that I might lay myself 
out for a long, pleasant, and busy residence at this 
place. An idea of the kind of people I had fallen 
amongst may be conveyed by an account of my earliest 
acquaintances in the place. On landing, the owner of 
the canoe killed an ox in honour of our arrival, and the 
next day took me round the town to introduce me to 
the principal residents. We first went to the Delegado 
of police, Senhor Antonio Cardozo, of whom I shall have 
to make frequent mention by-and-by. He was a stout, 
broad-featured man, ranking as a white, but having a 
tinge of negro blood ; his complexion, however, was 
ruddy, and scarcely betrayed the mixture. He received 
us in a very cordial, winning manner : I had after- 
wards occasion to be astonished at the boundless good 
nature of this excellent fellow, whose greatest pleasure 
seemed to be to make sacrifices for his friends. He 
was a Paraense, and came to Ega orignally as a 
trader ; but not succeeding in this, he turned planter 
on a small scale, and collector of the natural commo- 
dities of the country, employing half-a-dozen Indians 
in the business. We then visited the military comman- 
dant, an officer in the Brazilian army, named Praia. 
He was breakfasting with the vicar, and we found 
the two in dishabille (morning -gown loose round the 
neck, and slippers), seated at a rude wooden table in 
an open mud -floored verandah, at the back of the 
house. Commander Praia was a little curly -headed 

s 2 


man (also somewhat of a mulatto), always merry and 
fond of practical jokes. His wife, Donna Anna, a dressy 
dame from Santarem, was the leader of fashion in the 
settlement. The vicar, Father Luiz Gon salvo Gomez, 
was a nearly pure-blood Indian, a native of one of 
the neighbouring villages, but educated in Maranham, 
a city on the Atlantic seaboard. I afterwards saw a 
good deal of him, as he was an agreeable, sociable fel- 
low, fond of reading and hearing about foreign countries, 
and quite free from the prejudices which might be 
expected in a man of his profession. I found him, 
moreover, a thoroughly upright, sincere, and virtuous 
man. He supported his aged mother and unmarried 
sisters in a very creditable way out of his small salary 
and emoluments. It is a pleasure to be able to speak 
in these terms of a Brazilian priest, for the opportunity 
occurs rarely enough. 

Leaving these agreeable new acquaintances to finish 
their breakfast, we next called on the Director of the 
Indians of the Japura, Senhor Jose Chrysostomo Mon- 
teiro, a thin wiry Mameluco, the most enterprising per- 
son in the settlement. Each of the neighbouring rivers 
with its numerous wild tribes is under the control of a 
Director, who is nominated by the Imperial Govern- 
ment. There are now no missions in the region of the 
Upper Amazons : the " gentios " (heathens, or unbap- 
tized Indians) being considered under the management 
and protection of these despots, who, like the captains 
of Trabalhadores, before mentioned, use the natives for 
their own private ends ; Senhor Chrysostomo had, at 
this time, 200 of the Japura Indians in his employ. He 


was half Indian himself, but was a far worse master 
to the red-skins than the whites usually are. We 
finished our rounds by paying our respects to a venerable 
native merchant, Senor Romao de Oliveira, a tall, cor- 
pulent, fine-looking old man, who received us with a 
naive courtesy quite original in its way. He had been 
an industrious, enterprising man in his younger days, 
and had built a substantial range of houses and ware- 
houses. The shrewd and able old gentleman knew 
nothing of the world beyond the wilderness of the Soli- 
moens and its few thousands of isolated inhabitants ; 
yet he could converse well and sensibly, making obser- 
vations on men and things as sagaciously as though he 
had drawn them from long experience of life in a Euro- 
pean capital. The semi-civilised Indians respected old 
Romao, and he had, consequently, a great number in his 
employ in different parts of the river : his vessels were 
always filled quicker with produce than those of his 
neighbours. On our leaving, he placed his house and store 
at my disposal. This was not a piece of empty polite- 
ness, for some time afterwards, when I wished to settle 
for the goods I had had of him, he refused to take any 

I made Ega my head-quarters during the whole of 
the time I remained on the Upper Amazons (four years 
and a half). My excursions into the neighbouring 
region extended sometimes as far as 300 and 400 miles 
from the place. An account of these excursions will be 
given in subsequent chapters ; in the intervals between 
them I led a quiet, uneventful life in the settlement ; 


following my pursuit in the same peaceful, regular way 
as a Naturalist might do in a European village. For 
many weeks in succession my journal records little more 
than the notes made on my daily captures. I had a 
dry and spacious cottage, the principal room of which 
was made a workshop and study ; here a large table 
was placed, and my little library of reference arranged 
on shelves in rough wooden boxes. Cages for drying 
specimens were suspended from the rafters by cords 
well anointed, to prevent ants from descending, with 
a bitter vegetable oil : rats and mice were kept from 
them by inverted cuyas, placed half-way down the cords. 
I always kept on hand a large portion of my private 
collection, which contained a pair of each species and 
variety, for the sake of comparing the old with the new 
acquisitions. My cottage was whitewashed inside and 
out about once a year by the proprietor, a native trader ; 
the floor was of earth ; the ventilation was perfect, for 
the outside air, and sometimes the rain as well, entered 
freely through gaps at the top of the walls under the 
eaves and through wide crevices in the doorways. Rude 
as the dwelling was, I look back with pleasure on the 
many happy months I spent in it. I rose generally 
with the sun, when the grassy streets were wet with dew, 
and walked down to the river to bathe : five or six 
hours of every morning were spent in collecting in 
the forest, whose borders lay only five minutes' walk 
from my house : the hot hours of the afternoon, between 
three and six o'clock, and the rainy days, were occupied 
in preparing and ticketing the specimens, making notes, 
dissecting, and drawing. I frequently had short rambles 


by water in a small montaria, with an Indian lad to 
paddle. The neighbourhood yielded me, up to the last 
day of my residence, an uninterrupted succession of new 
and curious forms in the different classes of the animal 
kingdom, but especially insects. 

I lived, as may already have been seen, on the best of 
terms with the inhabitants of Ega. Refined society, of 
course, there was none ; but the score or so of decent, 
quiet families which constituted the upper class of the 
place were very sociable ; their manners offered a curious 
mixture of naive rusticity and formal politeness ; the 
great desire to be thought civilised leads the most 
ignorant of these people (and they are all very ignorant, 
although of quick intelligence) to be civil and kind to 
strangers from Europe. I was never troubled with that 
impertinent curiosity on the part of the people in these 
interior places which some travellers complain of in 
other countries. The Indians and lower half-castes — at 
least such of them who gave any thought to the subject 
— seemed to think it natural that strangers should col- 
lect and send abroad the beautiful birds and insects of 
their country. The butterflies they universally con- 
cluded to be wanted as patterns for bright-coloured 
calico-prints. As to the better sort of peojDle, I had no 
difficulty in making them understand that each Euro- 
pean capital had a public museum, in which were sought 
to be stored specimens of all natural productions in the 
mineral, animal, and vegetable kingdoms. They could 
not comprehend how a man could study science for its 
own sake ; but I told them I was collecting for the 
" Museo de Londres," and was paid for it ; that was 


very intelligible. One day, soon after my arrival, when 
I was explaining these things to a listening circle 
seated on benches in the grassy street, one of the 
audience, a considerable tradesman, a Mameluco native 
of Ega, got suddenly quite enthusiastic, and exclaimed 
" How rich are these great nations of Europe ! We 
half-civilised creatures know nothing. Let us treat this 
stranger well, that he may stay amongst us and teach 
our children." We very frequently had social parties, 
with dancing and so forth ; of these relaxations I shall 
have more to say presently. The manners of the 
Indian population also gave me some amusement for a 
long time. During the latter part of my residence, 
three wandering Frenchmen, and two Italians, some of 
them men of good education, on their road one after 
the other from the Ancles down the Amazons, became 
enamoured of this delightfully-situated and tranquil 
spot, and made up their minds to settle here for the 
remainder of their lives. Three of them ended by 
marrying native women. I found the society of these 
friends a very agreeable change. 

There were, of course, many drawbacks to the ame- 
nities of the place as a residence for a European ; but 
these were not of the nature that my readers would per- 
haps imagine. There was scarcely any danger from wild 
animals : it seems almost ridiculous to refute the idea 
of danger from the natives in a country where even 
incivility to an unoffending stranger is a rarity. A 
Jaguar, however, paid us a visit one night. It was con- 
sidered an extraordinary event, and so much uproar 
was made by the men who turned out with guns and 


bows and arrows that the animal scampered off and 
was heard of no more. Alligators were rather trouble- 
some in the dry season. During these months there 
was almost always one or two lying in wait near the 
bathing-place for anything that might turn up at the 
edge of the water ; dog, sheep, pig, child, or drunken 
Indian. When this visitor was about, every one took 
extra care whilst bathing. I used to imitate the natives 
in not advancing far from the bank and in keeping my 
eye fixed on that of the monster, which stares with a 
disgusting leer along the surface of the water ; the 
body being submerged to the level of the eyes, and the 
top of the head, with part of the dorsal crest, the only 
portions visible. When a little motion was perceived in 
the water behind the reptile's tail, bathers were obliged 
to beat a quick retreat. I was never threatened myself, 
but I often saw the crowds of women and children scared 
whilst bathing by the beast making a movement to- 
wards them ; a general scamper to the shore and peals 
of laughter were always the result in these cases. The 
men can always destroy these alligators when they like 
to take the trouble to set out with montarias and har- 
poons for the purpose, but they never do it unless one 
of the monsters, bolder than usual, puts some one's life 
in danger. This arouses them, and they then track 
the enemy with the greatest pertinacity ; when half 
killed they drag it ashore and despatch it amid loud 
execrations. Another, however, is sure to appear some 
clays or weeks afterwards, and take the vacant place on 
the station. Besides alligators, the only animals to be 
feared are the poisonous serpents. These are certainly 


common enough in the forest, but no accident happened 
during the whole time of my residence. 

I suffered most inconvenience from the difficulty of 
getting news from the civilised world down river, from 
the irregularity of receipt of letters, parcels of books 
and periodicals, and towards the latter part of my resi- 
dence from ill health arising from bad and insufficient 
food. The want of intellectual society, and of the 
varied excitement of European life, was also felt most 
acutely, and this, instead of becoming deadened by 
time, increased until it became almost insupportable. 
I was obliged, at last, to come to the conclusion that 
the contemplation of Nature alone is not sufficient to 
fill the human heart and mind. I got on pretty well 
when I received a parcel from England by the steamer 
once in two or four months. I used to be very eco- 
nomical with my stock of reading lest it should 
be finished before the next arrival and leave me 
utterly destitute. I went over the periodicals, the 
"Athenaeum/' for instance, with great deliberation, 
going through every number three times ; the first 
time devouring the more interesting articles, the second, 
the whole of the remainder ; and the third, reading all 
the advertisements from beginning to end. If four 
months (two steamers) passed without a fresh parcel, 
I felt discouraged in the extreme. I was worst off in 
the first year, 1850, when twelve months elapsed with- 
out letters or remittances. Towards the end of this 
time my clothes had worn to rags ; I was barefoot, a 
great inconvenience in tropical forests, notwithstanding 
statements to the contrary that have been published by 


travellers ; my servant ran away, and I was robbed of 
nearly all my copper money. I was obliged then to 
descend to Para, but returned, after finishing the exa- 
mination of the middle part of the Lower Amazons 
and the Tapajos, in 1855, with my Santarem assistant 
and better provided for making collections on the upper 
river. This second visit was in pursuit of the plan 
before mentioned, of exploring in detail the whole 
valley of the Amazons, which I formed in Para in the 
year 1851. 

During so long a residence I witnessed, of course, 
many changes in the place. Some of the good friends 
who made me welcome on my first arrival, died, and I 
followed their remains to their last resting-place in the 
little rustic cemetery on the borders of the surrounding 
forest. I lived there long enough, from first to last, to 
see the young people grow up, attended their weddings 
and the christenings of their children, and, before I left, 
saw them old married folks with numerous families. 
In 1850 Ega was only a village, dependent on Para 
1400 miles distant, as the capital of the then undivided 
province. In 1852, with the creation of the new pro- 
vince of the Amazons, it became a city ; returned its 
members to the provincial parliament at Barra ; had its 
assizes, its resident judges, and rose to be the chief 
town of a comarca or county. A year after this, 
namely, in 1853, steamers were introduced on the 
Solimoens, and from 1855, one ran regularly every two 
months between the Rio Negro and Nauta in Peru, 
, touching at all the villages, and accomplishing the 
distance in ascending, about 1200 miles, in eighteen 


days. The trade and population, however, did not 
increase. with these changes. The people became more 
" civilised," that is, they began to dress according to 
the latest Parisian fashions, instead of going about 
in stockingless feet, wooden clogs and shirt sleeves ; 
acquired a taste for money getting and office holding ; 
became divided into parties, and lost part of their 
former simplicity of manners. But the place remained, 
when I left it in 1859, pretty nearly what it was when 
I first arrived in 1850 — a semi-Indian village, with 
much in the ways and notions of its people, more like 
those of a small country town in Northern Europe than 
a South American settlement. The place is healthy, 
and almost free from insect pests ; perpetual verdure 
surrounds it ; the soil is of marvellous fertility, even 
for Brazil ; the endless rivers and labyrinths of chan- 
nels teem with fish and turtle ; a fleet of steamers 
might anchor at any season of the year in the lake, 
which has uninterrupted water communication straight 
to the Atlantic. What a future is in store for the sleepy 
little tropical village ! 

After speaking of Ega as a city, it will have a ludi- 
crous effect to mention that the total number of its 
inhabitants is only about 1200. It contains just 107 
houses, about half of which are miserably built mud- 
walled cottages, thatched with palm-leaves. A fourth 
of the population are almost always absent, trading or 
collecting produce on the rivers. The neighbourhood 
within a radius of thirty miles, and including two other 
small villages, contains probably 2000 more people. 
The settlement is one of the oldest in the country, 

Chap. III. A LOYAL NEGRO. 189 

having been founded in 1688 by Father Samuel Fritz, 
a Bohemian Jesuit, who induced several of the docile 
tribes of Indians, then scattered over the neigh- 
bouring region, to settle on the site. From 100 to 200 
acres of sloping ground around the place, were after- 
wards cleared of timber ; but such is the encroaching 
vigour of vegetation in this country, that the site would 
quickly relapse into jungle if the inhabitants neglected 
to pull up the young shoots as they arose. There is a 
stringent municipal law which compels each resident 
to weed a given space around his dwelling. Every 
month, whilst I resided here, an inspector came round 
with his wand of authority, and fined every one who 
had not complied with the regulation. The Indians of 
the surrounding country have never been hostile to the 
European settlers. The rebels of Para and the Lower 
Amazons, in 1835-6, did not succeed in rousing the 
natives of the Solimoens against the whites. A ]3arty 
of forty of them ascended the river for that purpose, 
but on arriving at Ega, instead of meeting with sympa- 
thisers as in other places, they were surrounded by a 
small body of armed residents, and shot down without 
mercy. The military commandant at the time, who 
was the prime mover in this orderly resistance to 
anarchy, was a courageous and loyal negro, named Jose 
Patricio, an officer known throughout the Upper 
Amazons for his unflinching honesty and love of order, 
whose acquaintance I had the pleasure of making at St. 
Paulo in 1858. Ega was the head-quarters of the great 
scientific commission, which met in the years from 1781 
to 1791, to settle the boundaries between the Spanish 


and Portuguese territories in South America. The 
chief commissioner for Spain, Don Francisco Requena, 
lived some time in the village with his family. I found 
only one person at Ega, my old friend Romao de 
Oliveira, who recollected, or had any knowledge of this 
important time, when a numerous staff of astronomers, 
surveyors, and draughtsmen, explored much of the 
surrounding country, with large bodies of soldiers and 

More than half the inhabitants of Ega are mame- 
lucos ; there are not more than forty or fifty pure 
whites ; the number of negroes and mulattos is proba- 
bly a little less, and the rest of the population consists 
of pure blood Indians. Every householder, including 
Indians and free negroes, is entitled to a vote in the 
elections, municipal, provincial, and imperial, and is 
liable to be called on juries, and to serve in the national 
guard. These privileges and duties of citizenship do 
not seem at present to be appreciated by the more 
ignorant coloured people. There is, hoAvever, a gradual 
improvement taking place in this respect. Before I 
left there was a rather sharp contest for the Presidency 
of the Municipal Chamber, and most of the voters 
took a lively interest in it. There was also an election 
of members to represent the province in the Imperial 
Parliament at Rio Janeiro, in which each party strove 
hard to return its candidate. On this occasion, an un- 
scrupulous lawyer was sent by the government party 
from the capital to overawe the opposition to its 
nominee; many of the half-castes, headed by my old 
friend John da Cunha, who was then settled at Ega, 


fought hard, but with perfect legality and good humour, 
against this powerful interest. They did not succeed ; 
and although the government agent committed many 
tyrannical and illegal acts, the losing party submitted 
quietly to their defeat. In a larger town, I believe, the 
government would not have dared to attempt thus to con- 
trol the elections. I think I saw enough to warrant the 
* conclusion that the machinery of constitutional govern- 
ment would, with a little longer trial, work well amongst 
the mixed Indian, white, and negro population, even of 
this remote part of the Brazilian empire. I attended, 
also, before I left, several assize meetings at Ega, and 
witnessed the novel sight of negro, white, half-caste, and 
Indian, sitting gravely side by side on the jury bench. 

The way in which the coloured races act under the 
conditions of free citizenship, is a very interesting sub- 
ject. Brazilian statesmen seem to have abandoned 
the idea, if they ever entertained it, of making this 
tropical empire a nation of whites, with a slave labour- 
ing class. The greatest difficulty on the Amazons is 
with the Indians. The general inflexibility of charac- 
ter of the race, and their abhorrence of the restraints 
of civilised life, make them very intractable subjects. 
Some of them, however, who have learned to read and 
write, and whose dislike to live in towns has been 
overcome by some cause acting early in life, make 
very good citizens. I have already mentioned the 
priest, who is a good example of what early training 
can do. There can be no doubt that if the docile 
Amazonian Indians were kindly treated by their white 
fellow-citizens, and educated, they would not be so 


quick as they have hitherto shown themselves to be to 
leave the towns and return into their half wild condi- 
tion on the advancing civilisation of the places. The 
inflexibility of character, although probably organic, is 
seen to be sometimes overcome. The principal black- 
smith of Ega, Senhor Macedo, was also an Indian, and 
a very sensible fellow. He sometimes filled minor offices 
in the government of the place. He used to come 
very frequently to my house to chat, and was always 
striving to acquire solid information about things. 
When Donati's comet appeared, he took a great inter- 
est in it. We saw it at its best from the 3rd to the 
10th of October (1858), between which dates it was 
visible near the western horizon, just after sunset ; the 
tail extending in a broad curve towards the north, and 
forming a sublime object. Macedo consulted all the 
old almanacs in the place to ascertain whether it was 
the same comet as that of 1811, which he said he well 
remembered. Before the Indians can be reclaimed in 
large numbers, it is most likely they will become 
extinct as a race. There is less difficulty with regard 
to the mamelucos, who, even when the proportion of 
white blood is small, sometimes become enterprising 
and versatile people. The Indian element in the blood 
and character seems to be quite lost, or dominated in 
the offspring of white and mameluco, that is in the 
fruits of the second cross. I saw a striking example of 
this in the family of a French blacksmith, who had 
lived for many years on the banks of the Solimoens, and 
had married a mameluco woman. His children might 
have all passed as natives of Northern Europe, a little 


tanned by foreign travel. One of them, a charming 
young girl named Isabel, was quite a blonde, having 
gray eyes, light brown hair, and fair complexion ; yet 
her grandmother was a tattooed Indian of the Tuciina 

Many of the Ega Indians, including all the domestic 
servants, are savages who have been brought from the 
neighbouring rivers ; the Japura, the Issa, and the 
Solimoens. I saw here individuals of at least sixteen 
different tribes ; most of whom had been bought, when 
children, of the native chiefs. This species of slave 
dealing, although forbidden by the laws of Brazil, is 
winked at by the authorities, because, without it, there 
would be no means of obtaining servants. They all be- 
come their own masters when they grow up, and never 
show the slightest inclination to return to utter savage 
life. But the boys generally run away and embark on 
the canoes of traders ; and the girls are often badly 
treated by their mistresses, the jealous, passionate, and 
ill-educated Brazilian women. Nearly all the enmi- 
ties which arise amongst residents at Ega and other 
places, are caused by disputes about Indian servants. 
No one who has lived only in old settled countries, 
where service can be readily bought, can imagine the 
difficulties and annoyances of a land where the servant 
class are ignorant of the value of money, and hands 
cannot be obtained except by coaxing them from the 
employ of other masters. 

Great mortality takes place amongst the poor captive 
children on their arrival at Ega. It is a singular cir- 
cumstance, that the Indians residing on the Japura 



and other tributaries always fall ill on descending to 
the Sohmoens, whilst the reverse takes place with the 
inhabitants of the banks of the main river, who never 
fail of taking intermittent fever when they first ascend 
these branch rivers, and of getting well when they 
return. The finest tribes of savages who inhabit the 
country near Ega are the Juris and Passes : these are 
now, however, nearly extinct, a few families only re- 
maining on the banks of the retired creeks connected 
with the Teffe, and on other branch rivers between the 
Teffe and the Jutahi. They are a peaceable, gentle, 
and industrious people, devoted to agriculture and 
fishing, and have always been friendly to the whites. 
I shall have occasion to speak again of the Passes, who 
are a slenderly-built and superior race of Indians, dis- 
tinguished by a large, square tattooed patch in the 
middle of their faces. The principal cause of their 
decay in numbers seems to be a disease which always 
appears amongst them when a village is visited by 
people from the civilised settlements — a slow fever, 
accompanied by the symptoms of a common cold, 
" defluxo," as the Brazilians term it, ending probably 
in consumption. The disorder has been known to break 
out when the visitors were entirely free from it ; the 
simple contact of civilised men, in some mysterious way 
being sufficient to create it. It is generally fatal to the 
Juris and Passes : the first question the poor, patient 
Indians now put to an advancing canoe is, " Do you 
bring defluxo ? " 

My assistant, Jose, in the last year of my residence at 
Ega, "resgatou" (ransomed, the euphemism in use for pur- 


chased) two Indian children, a boy and a girl, through a 
Japura trader. The boy was about twelve years of age, 
and of an unusually dark colour of skin : he had, in fact, 
the tint of a Cafuzo, the offspring of Indian and negro. 
It was thought he had belonged to some perfectly wild and 
houseless tribe, similar to the Pararauates of the Tapajos, 
of which there are several in different parts of the in- 
terior of South America. His face was of regular, oval 
shape, but his glistening black eyes had a wary, dis- 
trustful expression, like that of a wild animal ; and his 
hands and feet were small and delicately formed. Soon 
after his arrival, finding that none of the Indian boys 
and girls in the houses of our neighbours understood his 
language, he became sulky and reserved ; not a word 
could be got from him until many weeks afterwards, 
when he suddenly broke out with complete phrases of 
Portuguese. He was ill of swollen liver and spleen, the 
result of intermittent fever, for a long time after coming 
into our hands. We found it difficult to cure him, 
owing to his almost invincible habit of eating earth, 
baked clay, pitch, wax, and other similar substances. 
Very many children on the upper parts of the Amazons 
have this strange habit ; not only Indians, but negroes 
and whites. It is not, therefore, peculiar to the famous 
Otomacs of the Orinoco, described by Humboldt, or to 
Indians at all, and seems to originate in a morbid craving, 
the result of a meagre diet of fish, wild-fruits, and man- 
dioca-meal. We gave our little savage the name of 
Sebastian. The use of these Indian children is to fill 
water-jars from the river, gather fire-wood in the forest, 
cook, assist in paddling the montaria in excursions, and 

o 2 


so forth. Sebastian was often my companion in the 
woods, where he was very useful in finding the small 
birds I shot, which sometimes fell in the thickets 
amongst confused masses of fallen branches and dead 
leaves. He was wonderfully expert at catching lizards 
with his hands, and at climbing. The smoothest stems 
of palm-trees offered little difficulty to him : he would 
gather a few lengths of tough, flexible lianas ; tie them 
in a short, endless band to support his feet with in 
embracing the slippery shaft, and then mount upwards 
by a succession of slight jerks. It was very amusing, 
during the first few weeks, to witness the glee and pride 
with which he would bring to me the bunches of fruit 
he had gathered from almost inaccessible trees. He 
avoided the company of boys of his own race, and was 
evidently proud of being the servant of a real white man. 
We brought him down with us to Para: but he showed 
no emotion at any of the strange sights of the capital ; 
the steam-vessels, large ships and houses, horses and 
carriages, the pomp of church ceremonies, and so forth. 
In this he exhibited the usual dulness of feeling and 
poverty of thought of the Indian ; he had, neverthe- 
less, very keen perceptions, and was quick at learning 
any mechanical art. Jose, who had resumed, some time 
before I left the country, his old trade of goldsmith, 
made him his apprentice, and he made very rapid pro- 
gress ; for after about three months' teaching he came 
to me one day with radiant countenance and showed me 
a gold ring of his own making. 

The fate of the little girl, who came with a second 
batch of children all ill of intermittent fever, a month 


or two after Sebastian, was very different. She was 
brought to our house, after landing, one night in the 
wet season, when the rain was pouring in torrents, thin 
and haggard, drenched with wet and shivering with 
ague. An old Indian who brought her to the door, said 
briefly, " ecui encommenda " (here's your little parcel 
or order), and went away. There was very little of the 
savage in her appearance, and she was of a much 
lighter colour than the boy. We found she was of the 
Miranha tribe, all of whom are distinguished by a slit, 
cut in the middle of each wing of the nose, in which 
they wear on their holiday occasions a large button 
made of pearly river-shell. We took the greatest care 
of our little patient ; had the best nurses in the town, 
fomented her daily, gave her quinine and the most 
nourishing food ; but it was all of no avail : she sank 
rapidly ; her liver was enormously swollen and almost 
as hard to the touch as stone. There was something 
uncommonly pleasing in her ways, and quite unlike 
anything I had yet seen in Indians. Instead of being 
dull and taciturn, she was always smiling and full of 
talk. We had an old woman of the same tribe to attend 
her, who explained what she said to us. She often 
begged to be taken to the river to bathe ; asked for 
fruit, or coveted articles she saw in the room for play- 
things. Her native name was Oria. The last week or 
two she could not rise from the bed we had made for 
her in a dry corner of the room : when she wanted 
lifting, which was very often, she would allow no one to 
help her but me, calling me by the name of " Cariwa " 
(white man), the only word of Tupi she seemed to 


know. It was inexpressibly touching to hear her as 
she lay, repeating by the hour the verses which she had 
been taught to recite with her companions in her native 
village : a few sentences repeated over and over again 
with a rhythmic accent, and relating to objects and 
incidents connected with the wild life of her tribe. We 
had her baptized before she died, and when this latter 
event happened, in opposition to the wishes of the big 
people of Ega, I insisted on burying her with the same 
honours as a child of the whites ; that is, as an "anjinho" 
(little angel), according to the pretty Roman Catholic 
custom of the country. We had the corpse clothed in a 
robe of fine calico, crossed her hands on her breast over 
a "palma " of flowers, and made also a crown of flowers 
for her head. Scores of helpless children like our poor 
Oria die at Ega, or on the road ; but generally not the 
slightest care is taken of them during their illness. 
They are the captives made during the merciless 
raids of one section of the Miranha tribe on the terri- 
tories of another, and sold to the Ega traders. The vil- 
lages of the attacked hordes are surprised, and the men 
and women killed or driven into the thickets without 
having time to save their children. There appears to 
be no doubt that the Miranhas are cannibals, and, 
therefore, the purchase of these captives probably saves 
them from a worse fate. The demand for them at Ega 
operates, however, as a direct cause of the supply, 
stimulating the unscrupulous chiefs, who receive all the 
profits to undertake these murderous expeditions. 

It is remarkable how quickly the savages of the 
various nations, which each have their own, to all 


appearance, widely different language, learn Tupi on 
their arrival at Ega, where it is the common idiom. 
This perhaps may be attributed chiefly to the gram- 
matical forms of all the Indian tongues being the same, 
although the words are different. As far as I could 
learn, the feature is common to all, of placing the 
preposition after the noun, making it, in fact, a post- 
position, thus : " he is come the village from ; " " go 
him with, the plantation to," and so forth. The ideas to 
be expressed in their limited sphere of life and thought 
are few ; consequently the stock of words is extremely 
small ; besides, all Indians have the same way of think- 
ing, and the same objects to talk about ; these circum- 
stances also contribute to the ease with which they 
learn each other's language. Hordes of the same tribe 
living on the same branch rivers, speak mutually unin- 
telligible languages ; this happens with the Miranhas 
on the Japura, and with the Collinas on the Jurua ; 
whilst Tupi is spoken with little corruption along the 
banks of the main Amazons for a distance of 2500 
miles. The purity of Tupi is kept up by frequent 
communication amongst the natives, from one end to 
the other of the main river ; how complete and long- 
continued must be the isolation in which the small 
groups of savages have lived in other parts, to have 
caused so complete a segregation of dialects ! It is 
probable that the strange inflexibility of the Indian 
organisation, both bodily and mental, is owing to the 
isolation in which each small tribe has lived, and to 
the narrow round of life and thought, and close inter- 
marriages for countless generations, which are the neces- 


sary results. Their fecundity is of a low degree, for it 
is very rare to find an Indian family having so many as 
four children, and we have seen how great is their liability 
to sickness and death on removal from place to place. 

I have already remarked on the different way in 
which the climate of this equatorial region affects 
Indians and negroes. No one could live long amongst 
the Indians of the Upper Amazons, without being 
struck with their constitutional dislike to the heat. 
Europeans certainly withstand the high temperature 
better than the original inhabitants of the country : 
I always found I could myself bear exposure to the sun 
or unusually hot weather, quite as well as the Indians, 
although not well-fitted by nature for a hot climate. 
Their skin is always hot to the touch, and they perspire 
little. No Indian resident of Ega can be induced to 
stay in the village (where the heat is felt more than in 
the forest or on the river), for many days together. 
They bathe many times a day, but do not plunge in 
the water, taking merely a sitz-bath, as dogs may be 
seen doing in hot climates, to cool the lower parts of the 
body. The women and children, who often remain at 
home, whilst the men are out for many days together 
fishing, generally find some excuse for trooping off to 
the shades of the forest in the hot hours of the after- 
noons. They are restless and discontented in fine dry 
weather, but cheerful in cool days, when the rain is 
pouring down on their naked backs. When suffering 
under fever, nothing but strict watching can prevent 
them going down to bathe in the river, or from 
eating immoderate quantities of juicy fruits, although 


these indulgences are frequently the cause of death. 
They are very subject to disorders of the liver, dysen- 
tery, and other diseases of hot climates, and when any 
epidemic is about, they fall ill quicker, and suffer more 
than negroes or even whites. How different all this 
is with the negro, the true child of tropical climes ! 
The impression gradually forced itself on my mind that 
the red Indian lives as a stranger, or immigrant in these 
hot regions, and that his constitution was not originally 
adapted, and has not since become perfectly adapted to 
the climate. It is a case of want of fitness ; other races 
of men living on the earth would have been better 
fitted to enjoy and make use of the rich unappropri- 
ated domain. Unlike the lands peopled by Negro and 
Caucasian, Tropical America had no indigenous man 
thoroughly suited to its conditions, and was therefore 
peopled by an ill-suited race from another continent. 

The Indian element is very prominent in the amuse- 
ments of the Ega people. All the Roman Catholic 
holidays are kept up with great spirit ; rude Indian 
sports being mingled with the ceremonies introduced 
by the Portuguese. Besides these, the aborigines cele- 
brate their own ruder festivals : the people of different 
tribes combiniDg ; for, in most of their features, the 
merry-makings were originally alike in all the tribes. 
The Indian idea of a holiday is bonfires, processions, 
masquerading, especially the mimicry of different kinds 
of animals, plenty of confused drumming and fifing, 
monotonous dancing, kept up hour after hour without 
intermission, and the most important point of all, 
getting gradually and completely drunk. But he 


attaches a kind of superstitious significance to these 
acts, and thinks that the amusements appended to 
the Roman Catholic holidays as celebrated by the 
descendants of the Portuguese, are also an essential 
part of the religious ceremonies. But in this respect, 
the uneducated whites and half-breeds are not a bit 
more enlightened than the poor dull-souled Indian.. 
All look upon a religious holiday as an amusement, in 
which the priest takes the part of director or chief actor. 

Almost every unusual event, independent of saints' 
days, is made the occasion of a holiday by the sociable, 
easy-going people of the white and mameluco classes ; 
funerals, christenings, weddings, the arrival of strangers, 
and so forth. The custom of " waking " the dead is also 
kept up. A few days after I arrived, I was awoke in 
the middle of a dark moist night by Cardozo, to sit up 
with a neighbour whose wife had just died. I found 
the body laid out on a table, with crucifix and lighted 
wax-candles at the head, and the room full of women 
and girls squatted on stools or on their haunches. The 
men were seated round the open door, smoking, drink- 
ing coffee, and telling stories ; the bereaved husband 
exerting himself much to keep the people merry during 
the remainder of the night. The Ega people seem to 
like an excuse for turning night into day ; it is so cool 
and pleasant, and they can sit about during these hours 
in the open air, clad as usual in simple shirt and trow- 
sers, without streaming with perspiration. 

The patron saint is Santa Theresa ; the festival at 
whose anniversary lasts, like most of the others, ten days. 
It begins very quietly with evening litanies sung in the 


church, which are attended* by the greater part of the 
population, all clean and gaily dressed in calicos and 
muslins ; the girls wearing jasmines and other natural 
flowers in their hair, no other head-dress being worn by 
females of any class. The evenings pass pleasantly ; the 
church is lighted up with wax candles, and illuminated 
on the outside by a great number of little oil lamps 
— rude clay cups, or halves of the thick rind of the 
bitter orange, which are fixed all over the front. The 
congregation seem very attentive, and the responses 
to the litany of Our Lady, sung by a couple of hundred 
fresh female voices, ring agreeably through the still 
village. Towards the end of the festival the fun com- 
mences. The managers of the feast keep open houses, 
and dancing, drumming, tinkling of wire guitars, and 
unbridled drinking by both sexes, old and young, are 
kept up for a couple of days and a night with little inter- 
mission. The ways of the people at these merry-makings, 
of which there are many in the course of the year, always 
struck me as being not greatly different from those seen 
at an old-fashioned village wake in retired parts of 
England. The old folks look on and get very talkative 
over their cups ; the children are allowed a little extra 
indulgence in sitting up ; the dull, reserved fellows be- 
come loquacious, shake one another by the hand or slap 
each other on the back, discovering, all at once, what 
capital friends they are. The cantankerous individual 
gets quarrelsome, and the amorous unusually loving. 
The Indian, ordinarily so taciturn, finds the use of his 
tongue, and gives the minutest details of some little dis- 
pute which he had with his master years ago, and which 


every one else had forgotten ; just as I have known 
lumpish labouring men in England do, when half- 
fuddled. One cannot help reflecting, when witnessing 
these traits of manners, on the similarity of human 
nature everywhere, when classes are compared whose 
state of culture and conditions of life are pretty nearly 
the same. 

The Indians play a conspicuous part in the amuse- 
ments at St. John's eve, and at one or two other 
holidays which happen about that time of the year — 
the end of June. In some of the sports the Portuguese 
element is visible, in others the Indian ; but it must be 
recollected that masquerading, recitative singing, and so 
forth, are common originally to both peoples. A large 
number of men and boys disguise themselves to repre- 
sent different grotesque figures, animals, or persons. 
Two or three dress themselves up as giants, with the 
help of a tall framework. One enacts the part of the 
Caypor, a kind of sylvan deity similar to the Curupira 
which I have before mentioned. The belief in this 
being seems to be common to all the tribes of the Tupi 
stock. According to the figure they dressed up at Ega, 
he is a bulky, misshapen monster, with red skin and 
long shaggy red hair hanging half way down his back. 
They believe that he has subterranean campos and 
hunting grounds in the forest, well stocked with pacas 
and deer. He is not at all an object of worship nor of 
fear, except to children, being considered merely as a 
kind of hobgoblin. Most of the masquers make them- 
selves up as animals — bulls, deer, magoary storks, 
jaguars, and so forth, with the aid of light frameworks 


covered with old cloth dyed or painted and shaped 
according to the object represented. Some of the 
imitations which I saw were capital. One ingenious 
fellow arranged an old piece of canvas in the form of a 
tapir, placed himself under it, and crawled about on all 
fours. He constructed an elastic nose to resemble that 
of the tapir, and made, before the doors of the principal 
residents, such a good imitation of the beast grazing, 
that peals of laughter greeted him wherever he went. 
Another man walked about solitarily, masked as a 
jabirii crane (a large animal standing about four feet 
high), and mimicked the gait and habits of the bird 
uncommonly well. One year an Indian lad imitated 
me, to the infinite amusement of the townsfolk. He 
came the previous day to borrow of me an old blouse 
and straw hat. I felt rather taken in when I saw him, 
on the night of the performance, rigged out as an ento- 
mologist, with an insect net, hunting bag, and pincushion. 
To make the imitation complete, he had borrowed the 
frame of an old pair of spectacles, and went about 
with it straddled over his nose. The jaguar now and 
then made a raid amongst the crowd of boys who were 
dressed as deer, goats, and so forth. The masquers kept 
generally together, moving- from house to house, and 
the performances were directed by an old musician, who 
sang the orders and explained to the spectators what 
was going forward in a kind of recitative, accompanying 
himself on a wire guitar. The mixture of Portuguese 
and Indian customs is partly owing to the European 
immigrants in these parts having been uneducated men, 
who, instead of introducing European civilisation, have 


descended almost to the level of the Indians, and 
adopted some of their practices. The performances 
take place in the evening, and occupy five or six hours ; 
bonfires are lighted along the grassy streets, and the 
families of the better class are seated at their doors, 
enjoying the wild but good-humoured fun. 

A purely Indian festival is celebrated the first week 
in February, which is called the Feast of Fruits : several 
kinds of wild fruit becoming ripe at that time, more 
particularly the Umari and the Wish!, two sorts which 
are a favourite food of the people of this piovince, 
although of a bitter taste and unpalatable to Europeans. 
It takes place at the houses of a few families of the 
Juri tribe, hidden in the depths of the forest on the 
banks of a creek about three miles from Ega. I saw a 
little of it one year, when hunting in the neighbourhood 
with an Indian attendant. There were about 150 people 
assembled, nearly all red-skins, and signs of the orgy 
having been very rampant the previous night were appa- 
rent in the litter and confusion all around, and in the 
number of drunken men lying asleep under the trees and 
sheds. The women had manufactured a great quantity of 
spirits in rude clay stills, from mandioca, bananas, and 
pine-apples. I doubt whether there was ever much 
symbolic meaning attached by the aborigines to festivals 
of this kind. The harvest-time of the Umiri and Wishi 
is one of their seasons of abundance, and they naturally 
made it the occasion of one of their mad, drunken 
holidays. They learnt the art of distilling spirits from 
the early Portuguese ; it is only, however, one or two of 
the superior tribes, such as the Juris and Passes, who 


practise it. The Indians of the Upper Amazons, like 
those of the Lower river, mostly use fermented drinks 
(called here Caysiima), made from mandioca cakes and 
different kinds of fruit. 

I did not see much fruit about. A few old women in 
one of the sheds were preparing and cooking porridge 
of bananas in large earthenware kettles. It was now 
near midday, the time when a little rest is taken before 
resuming the orgy in the evening ; but a small party of 
young men and women were keeping up the dance to 
the accompaniment of drums made of hollow logs and 
beaten with the hands. The men formed a curved line 
on the outside, and the women a similar line on the 
inside facing their partners. Each man had in his 
right hand a long reed representing a javelin, and 
rested his left on the shoulders of his neighbour. They 
all moved, first to the right and then to the left, with 
a slow step, singing a drawling monotonous verse, in a 
language which I did not understand. The same figure 
was repeated in the dreariest possible way for at least 
half an hour, and in fact constituted the whole of the 
dance. The assembled crowd included individuals of 
most of the tribes living in the region around Ega ; but 
the majority were Miranhas and Juris. They had no 
common chief, an active middle-aged Juri, named Alex- 
andro, in the employ of Senhor Chrysostomo of Ega, 
seeming to have the principal management. This festi- 
val of fruits was the only occasion in which the Indians 
of the neighbourhood assembled together or exhibited any 
traces of joint action. It declined in importance every 
year, and will no doubt soon be discontinued altogether. 


The trade of Ega, like that of all places on the Upper 
Amazons, consists in the collecting of the produce of 
the forests and waters, and exchanging it for European 
and North American goods. About a dozen large 
vessels, schooners and cubertas, owned by the merchants 
of the place, are employed in the traffic. Only one 
voyage a year is made to Para, which occupies from four 
to five months, and is arranged so that the vessels shall 
return before the height of the dry season, when they 
are sent with assortments of goods ; cloth, hardware, 
salt, and a few luxuries, such as biscuits, wine, &c, to 
the fishing stations, to buy up produce for the next trip 
to the capital. Although large profits are apparently 
made both ways, the retail prices of European wares 
being from 40 to 80 per cent, higher, and the net prices 
of produce to the same degree lower, than those of 
Para, the traders do not get rich very rapidly. An old 
Portuguese who had traded with success at Ega for 
thirty years was reputed rich when he died : his 
savings then amounting to nine contos of reis, or about 
a thousand pounds sterling. The value of produce 
fluctuates much, and losses are often sustained in con- 
sequence. Excessively long credit is given : the system 
being to trust the collectors of produce with goods a 
twelvemonth in advance ; and if anything happens in 
the meantime to a customer, the debt is lost altogether. 

The articles of export from the upper river are cacao, 
salsaparilla, Brazil nuts, bast for caulking vessels (the 
inner bark of various species of Lecythidese or Brazil-nut 
trees), copauba balsam, India-rubber, salt-fish (pirarucu), 
turtle-oil, mishira (potted vacca marina), and grass ham- 

Chap. III. TRADE. 209 

mocks. The total value of the produce annually ex- 
ported from Ega, I calculated at from seven to eight 
thousand pounds sterling. Most of the articles are 
collected in the forest by the Ega people, who take 
their families and live in the woods for months at a 
time, during the proper seasons. Some of the produc- 
tions, such as salsaparilla and balsam of copauba, have 
been long ago exhausted in the neighbourhood of towns, 
at least near the banks of the rivers, the only parts that 
have yet been explored, and are now got only by more 
adventurous traders during long voyages up the branch 
streams. The search for India-rubber has commenced 
but very lately ; the tree appears to grow plentifully 
on some of the rivers, but only an insignificant fraction 
of the immense forest has yet been examined. Grass 
hammocks are manufactured by the wild tribes, and 
purchased of them in considerable quantities by the 
salsaparilla collectors. They are knitted with simple 
rods, except the larger kinds, which are woven in 
clumsy wooden looms. The fibre of which they are 
made is not grass, but the young leaflets of certain kinds 
of palm trees (Astiyocaryum). These are split, and the 
strips twisted into two or three-strand cord, by rolling 
them with the fingers on the naked thigh. Salt-fish 
and mishira are prepared by the half-breeds and civilized 
Indians, who establish fishing stations (feitorias) on 
the great sandbanks laid bare by the retreating waters, 
in places where fish, turtle, and manatee abound, and 
spend the whole of the dry season in this occupa- 
tion. Turtle oil is made from the eggs of the large 
river turtle, and is one of the principal produc- 



tions of the district ; the mode of collecting the eggs 
and extracting the oil will be described in the next 

I know several men who have been able, with ordi- 
nary sobriety and industry, to bring up their families 
very respectably, and save money at Ega, as collectors 
of the spontaneous productions of the neighbourhood. 
Each family, however, besides this trade, has its little 
plantation of mandioca, coffee, beans, water melons, 
tobacco, and so forth, which is managed almost solely 
by the women. Some do not take the trouble to 
clear a piece of forest for this purpose, but make 
use of the sloping, bare, earthy banks of the Soli- 
moens, which remain uncovered by water during eight 
or nine months of the year, and consequently long 
enough to give time for the ripening of the crops of 
mandioca, beans, and so forth. The process with re- 
gard to mandioca, the bread of the country, is very 
simple. A party of women take a few bundles of 
maniva (mandioca shoots) some fine day in July or 
August, when the river has sunk some few feet, and 
plant them in the rich alluvial soil, reckoning with the 
utmost certainty on finding a plentiful crop when they 
return in January or February. The regular planta- 
tions are all situated some distance from Ega, and across 
the water, nothing being safe on the mainland near the 
town on account of the cattle, some hundred head of 
which are kept grazing in the streets by the townsfolk. 
Every morning, soon after daybreak, the women are 
seen paddling off in montarias to their daily labours 
in these rogas or clearings ; the mistresses of house- 

Chap. III. YPADtJ. 211 

holds with their groups of Indian servant girls. The 
term agriculture cannot be applied to this business ; 
in this primitive country plough, spade, and hoe 
are unknown even by name. The people idle away 
most part of the time at their rogas, and have no 
system when they do work, so that a family rarely 
produces more than is required for its own con- 

The half-caste and Indian women, after middle age, 
are nearly all addicted to the use of Ypadu, the powdered 
leaves of a plant (Erythroxylon coca) which is well known 
as a product of the eastern parts of Peru, and is to the 
natives of these regions what opium is to the Turks and 
betel to the Malays. Persons who indulge in Ypadti at 
Ega are held in such abhorrence, that they keep the 
matter as secret as possible ; so it is said, and no doubt 
with truth, that the slender result of the women's daily 
visits to their rogas, is owing to their excessive use of 
this drug. They plant their little plots of the tree in 
retired nooks in the forest, and keep their stores of the 
powder in hiding-places near the huts which are built 
on each plantation. Taken in moderation, Ypadu has 
a stimulating and not injurious effect, but in excess it 
is very weakening, destroying the appetite, and pro- 
ducing in time great nervous exhaustion. I once had 
an opportunity of seeing it made at the house of a 
Maraud Indian on the banks of the Jutahi. The 
leaves were dried on a mandioca oven, and afterwards 
pounded in a very long and narrow wooden mortar. 
When about half pulverised, a number of the large 
leaves of the Cecropia palmata (candelabrum tree) were 



burnt on the floor, and the ashes dirtily gathered up 
and mixed with the powder. The Ypadu-eaters say 
that this prevents the ill-effects which would arise from 
the use of the pure leaf, but I should think the mixture 
of so much indigestible filth would be more likely to 
have the opposite result. 

We lived at Ega, during most part of the year, on turtle. 
The great fresh-water turtle of the Amazons grows on 
the upper river to an immense size, a full-grown one 
measuring nearly three feet in length by two in breadth, 
and is a load for the strongest Indian. Every house has 
a little pond, called a curral (pen), in the back-yard 
to hold a stock of the animals through the season of 
dearth — the wet months ; those who have a number of 
Indians in their employ sending them out for a month 
when the waters are low, to collect a stock, and those 
who have not, purchasing their supply ; with some diffi- 
culty, however, as they are rarely offered for sale. The 
price of turtles, like that of all other articles of food, 
has risen greatly with the introduction of steam-vessels. 
When I arrived in 1850 a middle-sized one could be 
bought pretty readily for ninepence, but when I left 
in 1859, they were with difficulty obtained at eight 
and nine shillings each. The abundance of turtles, or 
rather the facility with which they can be found and 
caught, varies with the amount of annual subsidence of 
the waters. When the river sinks less than the average, 
they are scarce ; but when more, they can be caught in 
plenty, the bays and shallow lagoons in the forest having 
then only a small depth of water. The flesh is very 
tender, palatable, and wholesome ; but it is very cloy- 

Chap. III. TURTLES. 213 

ing : every one ends, sooner or later, by becoming 
thoroughly surfeited. I became so sick of turtle in the 
course of two years that I could not bear the smell of 
it, although at the same time nothing else was to be 
had, and I was suffering actual hunger. The native 
women cook it in various ways. The entrails are 
chopped up and made into a delicious soup called sara- 
patel, which is generally boiled in the concave upper 
shell of the animal used as a kettle. The tender flesh 
of the breast is partially minced with farinha, and the 
breast shell then roasted over the fire, making a very 
pleasant dish. Steaks cut from the breast and cooked 
with the fat form another palatable dish. Large sausages 
are made of the thick-coated stomach, which is filled 
with minced meat and boiled. The quarters cooked in 
a kettle of Tucupi sauce form another variety of food. 
When surfeited with turtle in all other shapes, pieces of 
the lean part roasted on a spit and moistened only with 
vinegar make an agreeable change. The smaller kind 
of turtle, the tracaja, which makes its appearance in 
the main river, and lays its eggs a month earlier than 
the large species, is of less utility to the inhabitants 
although its flesh is superior, on account of the diffi- 
culty of keeping it alive ; it survives captivity but a 
very few days, although placed in the same ponds in 
which the large turtle keeps well for two or three 

Those who cannot hunt and fish for themselves, and 
whose stomachs refuse turtle, are in a poor way at 
Ega. Fish, including many kinds of large and delicious 
salmonidse, is abundant in the fine season ; but each 


family fishes only for itself, and has no surplus for sale. 
An Indian fisherman remains out just long enough to 
draw what he thinks sufficient for a couple of days' 
consumption. Vacca marina is a great resource in the 
wet season ; it is caught by harpooning, which requires 
much skill, or by strong nets made of very thick ham- 
mock twine, and placed across narrow inlets. Very 
few Europeans are able to eat the meat of this animal. 
Although there is a large quantity of cattle in the 
neighbourhood of the town, and pasture is abundant all 
the year round, beef can be had only when a beast is 
killed by accident. The most frequent cause of death 
is poisoning by drinking raw Tucupi, the juice of the 
mandioca root. Bowls of this are placed on the ground 
in the sheds where the women prepare farinha ; it is 
generally done carelessly, but sometimes intentionally 
through spite when stray oxen devastate the plantations 
of the poorer people. The juice is almost certain to be 
drunk if cattle stray near the place, and death is the 
certain result. The owners kill a beast which shows 
symptoms of having been poisoned, and retail the beef 
in the town. Although every one knows it cannot be 
wholesome, such is the scarcity of meat and the uncon- 
trollable desire to eat beef, that it is eagerly bought, at 
least by those residents who come from other provinces 
where beef is the staple article of food. Game of all 
kinds is scarce in the forest near the town, except in 
the months of June and July, when immense numbers 
of a large and handsome bird, Cuvier's toucan (Ram- 
phastos Cuvieri) make their appearance. They come in 
well-fed condition, and are shot in such quantities that 

Chap. III. MANDIOCA. 215 

every family has the strange treat of stewed and roasted 
toucans daily for many weeks. Curassow birds are 
plentiful on the banks of the Solimoens, but to get a 
brace or two requires the sacrifice of several days for the 
trip. A tapir, of which the meat is most delicious and 
nourishing, is sometimes killed by a fortunate hunter. 
I have still a lively recollection of the pleasant effects 
which I once experienced from a diet of fresh tapir 
meat for a few days, after having been brought to a 
painful state of bodily and mental depression by a 
month's scanty rations of fish and farinha. 

We sometimes had fresh bread at Ega made from 
American flour brought from Para, but it was sold 
at ninepence a pound. I was once two years without 
tasting wheaten bread, and attribute partly to this the 
gradual deterioration of health which I suffered on the 
Upper Amazons. Mandioca meal is a poor, weak sub- 
stitute for bread ; it is deficient in gluten, and conse- 
quently cannot be formed into a leavened mass or loaf, 
but is obliged to be roasted in hard grains in order 
to keep any length of time. Cakes are made of the 
half-roasted meal, but they become sour in a very 
few hours. A superior kind of meal is manufactured 
at Ega of the sweet mandioca (Manihot Aypi) ; it is 
generally made with a mixture of the starch of the 
root, and is therefore a much more wholesome article 
of food than the ordinary sort which, on the Amazons, 
is made of the pulp after the starch has been ex- 
tracted by soaking in water. When we could get 
neither bread nor biscuit, I found tapioca soaked in 
coffee the best native substitute. We were seldom 


without butter, as every canoe brought one or two 
casks on each return voyage from Para, where it is 
imported in considerable quantity from Liverpool. We 
obtained tea in the same way ; it being served as a 
fashionable luxury at wedding and christening parties ; 
the people were at first strangers to this article, for 
they used to stew it in a saucepan, mixing it up 
with coarse raw sugar, and stirring it with a spoon. 
Sometimes we had milk, but this was only when a 
cow calved ; the yield from each cow was very 
small, and lasted only for a few weeks in each case, 
although the pasture is good, and the animals are 
sleek and fat. 

Fruit of the ordinary tropical sorts could generally be 
had. I was quite surprised at the variety of the wild 
kinds, and of the delicious flavour of some of them. 
Many of these are utterly unknown in the regions 
nearer the Atlantic ; being the peculiar productions 
of this highly-favoured, and little known, interior 
country. Some have been planted by the natives in 
their clearings. The best was the Jabuti-puhe, or 
tortoise-foot ; a scaled fruit probably of the Anonaceous 
order. It is about the size of an ordinary apple ; when 
ripe the rind is moderately thin, and encloses, with the 
seeds, a quantity of custardy pulp of a very rich flavour. 
Next to this stands the Cum a (Collophora sp.) of which 
there are two species, not unlike, in appearance, small 
round pears ; but the rind is rather hard, and con- 
tains a gummy milk, and the pulpy part is almost as 
delicious as that of the Jabuti-puhe. The Cuma tree is 
of moderate height, and grows rather plentifully in the 


more elevated and drier situations. A third kind is 
the Pama, which is a stone-fruit, similar in colour and 
appearance to the cherry, but of oblong shape. The 
tree is one of the loftiest in the forest, and has never, I 
believe, been selected for cultivation. To get at the 
fruit the natives are obliged to climb to the height of 
about a hundred feet, and cut off the heavily laden 
branches. I have already mentioned the Umari and 
the Wishi : both these are now. cultivated. The fatty, 
bitter pulp which surrounds the large stony seeds of 
these fruits is eaten mixed with farinha, and is very 
nourishing. Another cultivated fruit is the Puruma 
(Puruma cecropisefolia, Martius), a round juicy berry, 
growing in large bunches and resembling grapes in 
taste. The tree is deceptively like a Cecropia in the 
shape of its foliage. Another smaller kind, called Pu- 
ruma-i, grows wild in the forest 
close to Ega, and has not yet 
been planted. The most sin- 
gular of all these fruits is the 
Uiki, which is of oblong shape, 
and grows apparently cross- 
wise on the end of its stalk. 

Uiki Fruit. 

When ripe the thick green 

rind opens by a natural cleft across the middle, 
and discloses an oval seed the size of a damascene 
plum, but of a vivid crimson colour. This bright hue 
belongs to a thin coating of pulp which, when the 
seeds are mixed in a plate of stewed bananas, gives 
to the mess a pleasant rosy tint, and a rich creamy 
taste and consistence. Mingau (porridge) of bananas 



Chap. III. 

flavoured and coloured with Uiki is a favourite dish at 
Ega. The fruit, like most of the others here mentioned, 
ripens in Ja- 
nuary. Many 
smaller fruits 
such as Wa- 
jurii (probably 
a species of 

Achras), the size of a gooseberry, 
which grows singly and contains 
a sweet gelatinous pulp enclosing 
two large, shining black seeds ; 
Cashipari-arapaa, an oblong 
scarlet berry ; two kinds of 
.Bacuri, the Bacuri-siuma and the 
B. curua, sour fruits of a bright 
lemon colour when ripe, and a 
great number of others, are of less 
importance as articles of food. 

The celebrated " Peach palm," 
Pupunha of the Tupi nations 
(Guilielma speciosa), is a common 
tree at Ega. The name, I sup- 
pose, is in allusion to the colour 
of the fruit, and not to its fla- 
vour, for it is dry and mealy, and 
in taste may be compared to a 
mixture of chestnuts and cheese. 
Vultures devour it eagerly, and 
come in quarrelsome flocks to Pupunha Palm, 

the trees when it is ripe. Dogs will also eat it : I 

Chap. III. SEASONS. 219 

do not recollect seeing cats do the same, although 
they go voluntarily to the woods to eat Tucuma, 
another kind of palm fruit. The tree, as it grows in 
clusters beside the palm-thatched huts, is a noble 
ornament, being, when full grown, from fifty to sixty 
feet in height and often as straight as a scaffold-pole. A 
bunch of fruit when rijDe is a load for a strong man, and 
each tree bears several of them. The Pupunha grows 
wild nowhere on the Amazons. It is one of those few 
vegetable productions (including three kinds of mandioca 
and the American species of Banana) which the Indians 
have cultivated from time immemorial, and brought 
with them in their original migration to Brazil. It 
is only, however, the more advanced tribes who have 
kept up the cultivation. The superiority of the fruit 
on the Solimoens to that grown on the Lower Amazons 
and in the neighbourhood of Para is very striking. At 
Ega it is generally as large as a full-sized peach, and 
when boiled almost as mealy as a potatoe ; whilst at 
Para it is no bigger than a walnut, and the pulp is 
fibrous. Bunches of sterile or seedless fruits sometimes 
occur in both districts. It is one of the principal articles 
of food at Ega when in season, and is boiled and eaten 
with treacle or salt. A dozen of the seedless fruits 
makes a good nourishing meal for a grown-up person. 
It is the general belief that there is more nutriment in 
Pupunha than in fish or Vacca marina. 

The seasons in the Upper Amazons region offer some 
points of difference from those of the lower river and 
the district of Para, which two sections. of the country 


we have already seen also differ considerably. The year 
at Ega is divided according to the rises and falls of the 
river, with which coincide the wet and dry periods. All 
the principal transactions of life of the inhabitants are 
regulated by these yearly recurring phenomena. The 
peculiarity of this upper region consists in there being 
two rises and two falls within the year. The great 
annual rise commences about the end of February, and 
continues to the middle of June, during which the rivers 
and lakes, confined during the dry periods to their 
ordinary beds, gradually swell and overflow all the 
lower lands. The inundation progresses gently inch by 
inch, and is felt everywhere, even in the interior of the 
forests of the higher lands, miles away from the river ; 
as these are traversed by numerous gullies, forming 
in the fine season dry, spacious dells, which become 
gradually transformed by the pressure of the flood into 
broad creeks navigable by small boats under the shade 
of trees. All the countless swarms of turtle of various 
species then leave the main river for the inland pools : 
the sand-banks go under water, and the flocks of wading 
birds migrate northerly to the upper waters of the 
tributaries which flow from that direction, or to the 
Orinoco ; which streams during the wet period of the 
Amazons are enjoying the cloudless skies of their dry 
season. The families of fishermen who have been em- 
ployed, during the previous four or five months, in 
harpooning and salting pirarucu and shooting turtle in 
the great lakes, now return to the towns and villages ; 
their temporarily constructed fishing establishments 
becoming gradually submerged, with the sand islets or 

Chap. III. SEASONS. 221 

beaches on which they were situated. This is the 
season, however, in which the Brazil nut and wild 
cacao ripen, and many persons go out to gather these 
harvests, remaining absent generally throughout the 
months of March and April. The rains during this 
time are not continuous ; they fall very heavily at 
times, but rarely last so long at a stretch as twenty-four 
hours, and many days intervene of pleasant, sunny 
weather. The sky, however, is generally overcast and 
gloomy, and sometimes a drizzling rain falls. 

About the first week in June the flood is at its 
highest ; the water being then about forty-five feet 
above its lowest point ; but it varies in different years 
to the extent of about fifteen feet. The " enchente," or 
flow, as it is called by the natives, who believe this 
great annual movement of the waters to be of the same 
nature as the tide towards the mouth of the Amazons, 
is then completed, and all begin to look forward to the 
"vasante," or ebb. The provision made for the dearth of 
the wet season is by this time pretty nearly exhausted ; 
fish is difficult to procure, and many of the less provident 
inhabitants have become reduced to a diet of fruits and 
farinha porridge. 

The fine season begins with a few days of brilliant 
weather — furious, hot sun, with passing clouds. Idle 
men and women, tired of the dulness and confinement 
of the flood season, begin to report, on returning from 
their morning bath, the cessation of the flow : as agoas 
estao parados, " the waters have stopped." The muddy 
streets, in a few days, dry up : groups of young fellows 
are now seen seated on the shady sides of the cottages 


making arrows and knitting fishing-nets with tucum 
twine ; others are busy patching up and caulking their 
canoes, large and small: in fact, preparations are made 
on all sides for the much longed-for "verao," or summer, 
and the " migration/' as it is called, of fish and turtle ; 
that is, their descent from the inaccessible pools in the 
forest to the main river. Towards the middle of July the 
sand-banks begin to reappear above the surface of the 
waters, and with this change come flocks of sandpipers 
and gulls, which latter make known the advent of the 
fine season, as the cuckoo does of the European 
spring ; uttering almost incessantly their plaintive 
cries as they fly about over the shallow waters of 
sandy shores. Most of the gaily-plumaged birds have 
now finished moulting, and begin to be more active in 
the forest. 

The fall continues to the middle of October, with the 
interruption of a partial rise called "repiquet," of a 
few inches in the midst of very dry weather in Septem- 
ber, caused by the swollen contribution of some large 
affluent higher up the river. The amount of subsi- 
dence also varies considerably, but it is never so great 
as to interrupt navigation by large vessels. The greater 
it is the more abundant is the season. Every one is 
prosperous when the waters are low ; the shallow bays 
and pools being then crowded with the concentrated 
population of fish and turtle. All the people, men, 
women, and children, leave the villages and spend the few 
weeks of glorious weather rambling over the vast undu- 
lating expanses of sand in the middle of the Solimoens, 
fishing, hunting, collecting eggs of turtle and plovers, 

Chap. III. SEASONS. 223 

and thoroughly enjoying themselves. The inhabitants 
pray always for a " vasante grande," or great ebb. 

From the middle of October to the beginning of 
January, the second wet season prevails. The rise is 
sometimes not more than about fifteen feet, but it is, 
in some years, much more considerable, laying the large 
sand islands under water before the turtle eggs are 
hatched. In one year, whilst I resided at Ega, this 
second annual inundation reached to within ten feet 
of the highest water point as marked by the stains on 
the trunks of trees by the river side. 

The second dry season comes on in January, and 
lasts throughout February. The river sinks sometimes 
to the extent of a few feet only, but one year (1856) I 
saw it ebb to within about five feet of its lowest point 
in September. This is called the summer of the 
Umari, " Verao do Umari," after the fruit of this 
name already described, which ripens at this season. 
When the fall is great, this is the best time to catch 
turtles. In the year above mentioned, nearly all the 
residents who had a canoe, and could work a paddle, 
went out after them in the month of February, and about 
2000 were caught in the course of a few days. It appears 
that they had been arrested in their migration towards 
the interior pools of the forest by the sudden drying 
up of the water-courses, and so had become easy prey. 

Thus the Ega year is divided into four seasons ; two 
of dry weather and falling waters, and two of the 
reverse. Besides this variety, there is, in the month of 
May, a short season of very cold weather, a most sur- 
prising circumstance in this otherwise uniformly swel- 


tering climate. This is caused by the continuance of a 
cold wind, which blows from the south over the humid 
forests that extend without interruption from north of 
the equator to the eighteenth parallel of latitude in 
Bolivia. I had, unfortunately, no thermometer with me 
at Ega ; the only one I brought with me from England 
having been lost at Para. The temperature is so much 
lowered, that fishes die in the river TefYe, and are cast 
in considerable quantities on its shores. One year I 
saw and examined numbers of these benumbed and 
dead fishes. They were all small fry of different 
species of Characini. The wind is not strong ; but 
it brings cloudy weather, and lasts from three to 
five or six days in each year. The inhabitants 
all suffer much from the cold, many of them wrap- 
ping themselves up with the warmest clothing they 
can get (blankets are here unknown), and shutting 
themselves in-doors with a charcoal fire lighted. I found, 
myself, the change of temperature most delightful, and 
did not require extra clothing. It was a bad time, 
however, for my pursuit, as birds and insects all betook 
themselves to places of concealment, and remained in- 
active. The period during which this wind prevails is 
called the " tempo da friagem," or the season of coldness. 
The phenomenon, I presume, is to be accounted for by 
the fact that in May it is winter in the southern tem- 
perate zone, and that the cool currents of air travelling 
thence northwards towards the equator, become only 
moderately heated in their course, owing to the inter- 
mediate country being a vast, partially-flooded plain, 
covered with humid forests. 



The river Teffe — Rambles through groves on the beach — Excursion to 
the house of a Passe chieftain — Character and customs of the 
Passe tribe — First excursion to the sand islands of the Solimoens 
—Habits of great river-turtle — Second excursion — Turtle-fishing 
in the inland pools — Third excursion — Hunting-rambles with 
natives in the forest — Return to Ega. 

I will now proceed to give some account of the more 
interesting of my shorter excursions in the neighbour- 
hood of Ega, The incidents of the longer voyages, 
which occupied each several months, will be narrated 
in a separate chapter. 

The settlement, as before described, is built on a 
small tract of cleared land at the lower or eastern end 
of the lake, six or seven miles from the main Amazons, 
with which the lake communicates by a narrow channel. 
On the opposite shore of the broad expanse stands a 
small village, called Nogueira, the houses of which are 
not visible from Ega, except on very clear days ; the 
coast on the Nogueira side is high, and stretches away 
into the grey distance towards the south-west. The 
upper part of the river Teffe is not visited by the Ega 
people, on account of its extreme unhealthiness, and its 



barrenness in salsaparilla and other wares. To Euro- 
peans it will seem a most surprising thing that the 
people of a civilised settlement, 170 years old, should 
still be ignorant of the course of the river on whose 
banks their native place, for which they proudly claim 
the title of city, is situated. It would be very difficult 
for a private individual to explore it, as the necessary 
number of Indian paddlers could not be obtained. I 
knew only one person who had ascended the TefTe to 
any considerable distance, and he was not able to give 
me a distinct account of the river. The only tribe 
known to live on its banks are the Catauishis, a people 
who perforate their lips all round, and wear rows of 
slender sticks in the holes : their territory lies between 
the Purus and the Jurua, embracing both shores of the 
TefTe. A very considerable stream, the Bararua, enters 
the lake from the west, about thirty miles above Ega ; 
the breadth of the lake is much contracted a little below 
the mouth of this tributary, but it again expands further 
south, and terminates abruptly where the Teffe' proper, 
a narrow river with a strong current, forms its head 

The whole of the country for hundreds of miles is 
covered with picturesque but pathless forests, and there 
are only two roads along which excursions can be made 
by land from Ega. One is a narrow hunter's track, 
about two miles in length, which traverses the forest in 
the rear of the settlement. The other is an extremely 
pleasant path along the beach to the west of the 
town. This is practicable only in the dry season, when 
a flat strip of white sandy beach is exposed at the 


foot of the high wooded banks of the lake, covered 
with trees, which, as there is no underwood, form a 
spacious shady grove. I rambled daily, during many 
weeks of each successive dry season, along this delightful 
road. The trees, many of which are myrtles (Eugenia 
Egaensis of Martius) and wild Guavas (Psidium), with 
smooth yellow stems, were in flower at this time ; and 
the rippling waters of the lake, under the cool shade, 
everywhere bordered the path. The place was the resort 
of kingfishers, green and blue tree-creepers, purple- 
headed tanagers, and humming-birds. Birds generally, 
however, were not numerous. Every tree was tenanted 
by Cicadas, the reedy notes of which produced that 
loud, jarring, insect music which is the general accom- 
paniment of a woodland ramble in a hot climate. One 
species was very handsome, having wings adorned with 
patches of bright green and scarlet. It was very common ; 
sometimes three or four tenanting a single tree, cling- 
ing as usual to the branches. On approaching a tree 
thus peopled, a number of little jets of a clear liquid 
would be seen squirted from aloft. I have often received 
the well-directed discharge full on my face ; but the 
liquid is harmless, having a sweetish taste, and is ejected 
by the insect from the anus, probably in self-defence, 
or from fear. The number and variety of gaily-tinted 
butterflies, sporting about in this grove on sunny days, 
were so great that the bright moving flakes of colour 
gave quite a character to the physiognomy of the place. 
It was impossible to walk far without disturbing flocks 
of them from the damp sand at the edge of the water, 
where they congregated to imbibe the moisture. They 

q 2 


were of almost all colours, sizes, and shapes : I noticed 
here altogether eighty species, belonging to twenty-two 
different genera. It is a singular fact that, with very 
few exceptions, all the individuals of these various 
species thus sporting in sunny places were of the male 
sex ; their partners, which are much more soberly dressed 
and immensely less numerous than the males, being con- 
fined to the shades of the woods. Every afternoon, as 
the sun was getting low, I used to notice these gaudy 
sunshine-loving swains trooping off to the forest, where 
I suppose they would find their sweethearts and wives. 
The most abundant, next to the very common sulphur- 
yellow and orange-coloured kinds (Callidryas, seven 
species), were about a dozen species of CybdeHs, which 
are of large size, and are conspicuous from their liveries 
of glossy dark-blue and purple. A superbly-adorned 
creature, the Callithea Markii, having wings of a thick 
texture, coloured sapphire-blue and orange, was only 
an occasional visitor. On certain days, when the 
weather was very calm, two small gilded-green species 
(Symmachia Trochilus and Colubris) literally swarmed 
on the sands, their glittering wings lying wide open on 
the flat surface. The beach terminates, eight miles 
beyond Ega, at the mouth of a rivulet ; the character 
of the coast then changes, the river banks being masked 
by a line of low islets amid a labyrinth of channels. 

In all other directions my very numerous excursions 
were by water ; the most interesting of those made in 
the immediate neighbourhood were to the houses of 
Indians on the banks of retired creeks ; an account of 
one of these trips will suffice. 

Chap. IV. A FLOODED DELL. 229 

On the 23rd of May, 1850, 1 visited, in company with 
Antonio Cardozo, the Delegado, a family of the Passe 
tribe, who live near the head waters of the igarape, 
which flows from the south into the TefFe, entering it 
at Ega. The creek is more than a quarter of a mile 
broad near the town, but a few miles inland it gradually 
contracts, until it becomes a mere rivulet flowing 
through a broad dell in the forest. When the river 
rises it fills this dell ; the trunks of the lofty trees then 
stand many feet deep in the water, and small canoes are 
able to travel the distance of a day's journey under the 
shade, regular paths or alleys being cut through the 
branches and lower trees. This is the general character 
of the country of the Upper Amazons ; a land of small 
elevation and abruptly undulated, the hollows forming 
narrow valleys in the dry months, and deep navigable 
creeks in the wet months. In retired nooks on the 
margins of these shady rivulets, a few families or small 
hordes of aborigines still linger in nearly their primitive 
state, the relicts of their once numerous tribes. The 
family we intended to visit on this trip was that of 
Pedro-uassti (Peter the Great, or Tall Peter), an old 
chieftain or Tushatia of the Passes. 

We set out at sunrise, in a small igarite, manned by 
six young Indian paddlers. After travelling about three 
miles along the broad portion of the creek — which, being 
surrounded by woods, had the appearance of a large 
pool — we came to a part where our course seemed 
to be stopped by an impenetrable hedge of trees and 
bushes. We were some time before finding the en- 
trance, but when fairly within the shades, a remarkable 


scene presented itself. It was my first introduction to 
these singular water-paths. A narrow and tolerably 
straight alley stretched away for a long distance before 
us ; on each side were the tops of bushes and young 
trees, forming a kind of border to the path, and the 
trunks of the tall forest trees rose at irregular intervals 
from the water, their crowns interlocking far over our 
heads, and forming a thick shade. Slender air roots hung 
down in clusters, and looping sipos dangled from the 
lower branches ; bunches of grass, tillandsiae, and ferns, 
sat in the forks of the larger boughs, and the trunks of 
trees near the water had adhering to them round dried 
masses of freshwater sponges. There was no current 
perceptible, and the water was stained of a dark olive- 
brown hue, but the submerged stems could be seen 
through it to a great depth. We travelled at good 
speed for three hours along this shady road ; the dis- 
tance of Pedro's house from Ega being about twenty 
miles. When the paddlers rested for a time, the still- 
ness and gloom of the place became almost painful : 
our voices waked dull echoes as we conversed, and the 
noise made by fishes occasionally whipping the surface 
of the water was quite startling. A cool, moist, clammy 
air pervaded the sunless shade. 

The breadth of the wooded valley, at the commence- 
ment, is probably more than half a mile, and there 
is a tolerably clear view for a considerable distance on 
each side of the water-path through the irregular 
colonnade of trees : other paths also, in this part, branch 
off right and left from the principal road, leading to 
the scattered houses of Indians on the mainland. The 

Chap. IV. A WATER-PATH. 231 

dell contracts gradually towards the head of the rivulet, 
and the forest then becomes denser ; the water-path 
also diminishes in width, and becomes more winding, on 
account of the closer growth of the trees. The boughs 
of some are stretched forth at no great height over one's 
head, and are seen to be loaded with epiphytes ; one 
orchid I noticed particularly, on account of its bright 
yellow flowers growing at the end of flower-sterns 
several feet long. Some of the trunks, especially those 
of palms, close beneath their crowns, were clothed with 
a thick mass of glossy shield-shaped Pothos plants, 
mingled with ferns. Arrived at this part we were, in fact, 
in the heart of the virgin forest. We heard no noises 
of animals in the trees, and saw only one bird, the 
sky-blue chatterer, sitting alone on a high branch. 
For some distance the lower vegetation was so dense 
that the road runs under an arcade of foliage, the 
branches having been cut away only sufficiently to 
admit of the passage of a small canoe. These thickets 
are formed chiefly of Bamboos, whose slender foliage 
and curving stems arrange themselves in elegant, 
feathery bowers : but other social plants, — slender 
green climbers with tendrils so eager in aspiring to grasp 
the higher boughs that they seem to be endowed almost 
with animal energy, and certain low trees having large 
elegantly- veined leaves, contribute also to the jungly 
masses. Occasionally we came upon an uprooted tree 
lying across the path, its voluminous crown still held up 
by thick cables of sipo, connecting it with standing 
trees : a wide circuit had to be made in these cases, and 
it was sometimes difficult to find the right path again. 


At length we arrived at our journey's end. We 
were then in a very dense and gloomy part of the forest : 
we could see, however, the dry land on both sides of 
the creek, and to our right a small sunny opening 
appeared, the landing-place to the native dwellings. 
The water was deep close to the bank, and a clean path- 
way ascended from the shady port to the buildings, 
which were about a furlong distant. My friend Car- 
dozo was godfather to a grandchild of Pedro-uassu, 
whose daughter had married an Indian settled in Ega. 
He had sent word to the old man that he intended to 
visit him : we were therefore expected. 

As we landed, Pedro-uassu himself came down to the 
port to receive us ; our arrival having been announced by 
the barking of dogs. He was a tall and thin old man, 
with a serious, but benignant expression of countenance, 
and a manner much freer from shyness and distrust than 
is usual with Indians. He was clad in a shirt of coarse 
cotton cloth, dyed with murishi, and trowsers of the 
same material turned up to the knee. His features 
were sharply delineated — more so than in any Indian 
face I had yet seen ; the lips thin and the nose rather 
high and compressed. A large, square, blue-black 
tattooed patch occupied the middle of his face, which, 
as well as the other exposed parts of his body, was 
of a light reddish-tan colour, instead of the usual 
coppery-brown hue. He walked with an upright, slow 
gait, and on reaching us saluted Cardozo with the air 
of a man who wished it to be understood that he was 
dealing with an equal. My friend introduced me, and I 
was welcomed in the same grave, ceremonious manner. 


He seemed to have many questions to ask : but they 
were chiefly about Senhora Felippa, Cardozo's Indian 
housekeeper at Ega, and were purely complimentary. 
This studied politeness is quite natural to Indians of 
the advanced agricultural tribes. The language used 
was Tupi : I heard no other spoken all the day. It 
must be borne in mind that Pedro-uassti had never 
had much intercourse with whites : he was, although 
baptised, a primitive Indian, who had always lived in 
retirement ; the ceremony of baptism having been gone 
through, as it generally is by the aborigines, simply 
from a wish to stand well with the whites. 

Arrived at the house, we were welcomed by Pedro's 
wife : a thin, wrinkled, active old squaw, tattooed in 
precisely the same way as her husband. She had also 
sharp features, but her manner was more cordial and 
quicker than that of her husband : she talked much, and 
with great inflection of voice ; whilst the tones of the old 
man were rather drawling and querulous. Her clothing- 
was a long petticoat of thick cotton cloth, and a very 
short chemise, not reaching to her waist. I was rather 
surprised to find the grounds around the establishment 
in neater order than in any sitio, even of civilised 
people, I had yet seen on the Upper Amazons : the 
stock of utensils and household goods of all sorts was 
larger, and the evidences of regular industry and 
plenty more numerous than one usually perceives in the 
farms of civilised Indians and whites. The buildings 
were of the same construction as those of the humbler 
settlers in all other parts of the country. The family 
lived in a large, oblong, open shed built under the 


shade of trees. Two smaller buildings, detached from 
the shed and having mud-walls with low doorways, 
contained apparently the sleeping apartment of differ- 
ent members of the large household. A small mill for 
grinding sugar-cane, having two cylinders of hard 
notched wood ; wooden troughs, and kettles for boiling 
the guardpa (cane juice), to make treacle, stood 
under a separate shed, and near it was a large en- 
closed mud-house for poultry. There was another hut 
and shed a short distance off, inhabited by a family 
dependent on Pedro, and a narrow pathway through 
the luxuriant woods led to more dwellings of the same 
kind. There was an abundance of fruit trees around 
the place, including the never-failing banana, with its 
long, broad, soft green leaf-blades, and groups of full- 
grown Pupimhas, or peach palms. There was also a 
large number of cotton and coffee trees. Amongst the 
utensils I noticed baskets of different shapes, made of 
flattened maranta stalks, and dyed various colours. 
The making of these is an original art of the Passes, 
but I believe it is also practised by other tribes, for I 
saw several in the houses of semi-civilised Indians on 
the Tapajos. 

There were only three persons in the house besides the 
old couple, the rest of the people being absent ; several 
came in, however, in the course of the day. One was 
a daughter of Pedro's, who had an oval tattooed spot 
over her mouth ; the second was a young grandson ; and 
the third the son-in-law from Ega, Cardozo's com'padve. 
The old woman was occupied, when we entered, in dis- 
tilling spirits from cara, an eatable root similar to the 

Chap. IV. BLOW-PIPE. 235 

potato, by means of a clay still, which had been manu- 
factured by herself. The liquor had a reddish tint, but 
not a very agreeable flavour. A cup of it warm from 
the still, however, was welcome after our long journey. 
Cardozo liked it, emptied his cup, and replenished it in 
a very short time. The old lady was very talkative, 
and almost fussy in her desire to please her visitors. 
We sat in tucum hammocks, suspended between the 
upright posts of the shed. The young woman with the 
blue mouth — who, although married, was as shy as any 
young maiden of her race — soon became employed in 
scalding and plucking fowls for the dinner, near the fire 
on the ground at the other end of the dwelling. The 
son-in-law, Pedro-uassu, and Cardozo now began a long 
conversation on the subject of their deceased wife, 
daughter, and comadre* It appeared she had died of 
consumption — " tisica," as they called it, a word adopted 
by the Indians from the Portuguese. The widower 
repeated over and over again, in nearly the same words, 
his account of her illness, Pedro chiming in like a chorus, 
and Cardozo moralising and condoling. I thought the 
cauim (grog) had a good deal to do with the flow of 
talk and warmth of feeling of all three : the widower 
drank and wailed until he became maundering, and 
finally fell asleep. 

I left them talking, and went a long ramble into the 
forest, Pedro sending his grandson, a smiling well- 
behaved lad of about fourteen years of age, to show me 
the paths, my companion taking with him his Zaraba- 

* Co-mother ; the term expressing the relationship of a mother to 
the godfather of her child. 


tana, or blowpipe. This instrument is used by all the 
Indian tribes on the Upper Amazons. It is generally 
nine or ten feet long, and is made of two separate 
lengths of wood, each scooped out so as to form one half 
of the tube. To do this with the necessary accuracy 
requires an enormous amount of patient labour, and con- 
siderable mechanical ability, the tools used being simply 
the incisor teeth of the Paca and Cutia. The two half 
tubes, when finished, are secured together by a very 
close and tight spirally-wound strapping, consisting of 
long flat strips of Jacitara, or the wood of the climbing- 
palm-tree; and the whole is smeared afterwards with 

Blow-pipe, quiver, and arrow. 

black wax, the production of a Melipona bee. The pijDe 
tapers towards the muzzle, and a cup-shaped mouth- 
piece, made of wood, is fitted in the broad end. A full- 
sized Zarabatana is heavy, and can only be used by an 
adult Indian who has had great practice. The young 
lads learn to shoot with smaller and lighter tubes. 
When Mr. Wallace and I had lessons at Barra in the 
use of the blowpipe, of Julio, a Juri Indian, then in the 
employ of Mr. Hauxwell, an English bird-collector, we 
found it very difficult to hold steadily the long tubes. 
The arrows are made from the hard rind of the leaf- 
stalks of certain palms, thin strips being cut, and 


rendered as sharp as needles by scraping the ends with a 
knife or the tooth of an animal. They are winged with 
a little oval mass of samaiima silk (from the seed-vessels 
of the silk-cotton tree, Eriodendron samaiima), cotton 
being too heavy. The ball of samaiima should fit to a 
nicety the bore of the blowpipe ; when it does so, the 
arrow can be propelled with such force by the breath that 
it makes a noise almost as loud as a pop-gun on flying 
from the muzzle. My little companion was armed with 
a quiver full of these little missiles, a small number of 
which, sufficient for the day's sport, were tipped with 
the fatal Urari poison. The quiver was an ornamental 
affair, the broad rim being made of highly-polished 
wood of a rich cherry-red colour (the Moira-piranga, or 
red-wood of the Japura). The body was formed of 
neatly-plaited strips of Maranta stalks, and the belt by 
which it was suspended from the shoulder was deco- 
rated with cotton fringes and tassels. 

We walked about two miles along a well-trodden 
pathway, through high caapoeira (second-growth forest). 
A large proportion of the trees were Melastomas, which 
bore a hairy yellow fruit, nearly as large and as well 
flavoured as our gooseberry. The season, however, was 
nearly over for them. The road was bordered every 
inch of the way by a thick bed of elegant Lycopo- 
diums. An artificial arrangement of trees and bushes 
could scarcely have been made to wear so finished an 
appearance as this naturally decorated avenue. The 
path at length terminated at a plantation of mandi- 
oca, the largest I had yet seen since I left the neigh- 
bourhood of Para. There were probably ten acres of 


cleared land, and part of the ground was planted with 
Indian corn, water-melons, and sugar-cane. Beyond 
this field there was only a faint hunter's track, leading 
towards the untrodden interior. My companion told me 
he had never heard of there being any inhabitants in 
that direction (the south). We crossed the forest from 
this place to another smaller clearing, and then walked, 
on our road home, through about two miles of caapoeira 
of various ages, the sites of old plantations. The only 
fruits of our ramble were a few rare insects and a Japu 
(Cassicus cristatus), a handsome bird with chestnut and 
saffron-coloured plumage, which wanders through the 
tree-tops in large flocks. My little companion brought 
this down from a height which I calculated at thirty 
yards. The blowpipe, however, in the hands of an 
expert adult Indian, can be made to propel arrows so as 
to kill at a distance of fifty and sixty yards. The aim 
is most certain when the tube is held vertically, or 
nearly so. It is a far more useful weapon in the forest 
than a gun, for the report of a firearm alarms the whole 
flock of birds or monkeys feeding on a tree, whilst the 
silent poisoned dart brings the animals down one by 
one until the sportsman has a heap of slain by his side. 
None but the stealthy Indian can use it effectively. 
The poison, which must be fresh to kill speedily, is 
obtained only of the Indians who live beyond the cata- 
racts of the rivers flowing from the north, especially the 
Rio Negro and the Japura. Its principal ingredient is 
the wood of the Strychnos toxifera, a tree which does 
not grow in the humid forests of the river plains. A 
most graphic account of the Urari, and of an expedition 

Chap. IV. A DINNER PARTY. 239 

undertaken in search of the tree in Guiana, has been 
given by Sir Robert Schomburgk.* 

When we returned to the house after mid-day, Car- 
dozo was still sipping cauim, and now looked exceedingly 
merry. It was fearfully hot : the good fellow sat in 
his hammock with a cuya full of grog in his hands ; 
his broad honest face all of a glow, and the perspira- 
tion streaming down his uncovered breast, the unbut- 
toned shirt having slipped half-way over his broad 
shoulders. Pedro-uassu had not drunk much ; he was 
noted, as I afterwards learnt, for his temperance. But 
he was standing up as I had left him two hours previous, 
talking to Cardozo in the same monotonous tones, the 
conversation apparently not having flagged all the time. 
I had never heard so much talking amongst Indians. 
The widower was asleep : the stirring, managing old 
lady with her daughter were preparing dinner. This, 
which was ready soon after I entered, consisted of 
boiled fowls and rice, seasoned with large green peppers 
and lemon juice, and piles of new, fragrant farinha and 
raw bananas. It was served on plates of English ma- 
nufacture on a tupe, or large plaited rush mat, such as 
is made by the natives pretty generally on the Amazons. 
Three or four other Indians, men and women of middle 
age, now made their appearance, and joined in the 
meal. We all sat round on the floor : the women, ac- 
cording to custom, not eating until after the men had 
done. Before sitting down, our host apologised in his 
usual quiet, courteous manner for not having knives 
and forks ; Cardozo and I ate by the aid of wooden 

* Annals and Magazine of Natural History, vol. vii. p. 411. 


spoons, the Indians using their fingers. The old man 
waited until we were all served before he himself com- 
menced. At the end of the meal, one of the women 
brought us water in a painted clay basin of Indian 
manufacture, and a clean but coarse cotton napkin, that 
we might wash our hands. 

The horde of Passes of which Pedro-uassu was 
Tushaua or chieftain, was at this time reduced to a very 
small number of individuals. The disease mentioned 
in the last chapter had for several generations made 
great havoc amongst them ; many, also, had entered the 
service of whites at Ega, and, of late years, intermar- 
riages with whites, half-castes, and civilised Indians 
had been frequent. The old man bewailed the fate of 
his race to Cardozo with tears in his eyes. " The people 
of my nation," he said, " have always been good friends 
to the Cariwas (whites), but before my grandchildren 
are old like me the name of Passe will be forgotten." 
In so far as the Passes have amalgamated with Euro- 
pean immigrants or their descendants, and become civi- 
lised Brazilian citizens, there can scarcely be ground for 
lamenting their extinction as a nation ; but it fills one 
with regret to learn how many die prematurely of a dis- 
ease which seems to arise on their simply breathing the 
same air as the whites. The original territory of the 
tribe must have been of large extent, for Passes are said 
to have been found by the early Portuguese colonists 
on the Rio Negro ; an ancient settlement on that river, 
Barcellos, having been peopled by them when it was 
first established ; and they formed also part of the origi- 
nal population of Fonte-boa on the Solimoens. Their 


hordes were therefore spread over a region 400 miles in 
length from east to west. It is probable, however, that 
they have been confounded by the colonists with other 
neighbouring tribes who tattoo their faces in a similar 
manner ; such as the Juris, Uainumas, Shumanas, 
Arauas, and Tucunas. The extinct tribe of Yurimauas, 
or Sorimoas, from which the river Solimoens derives 
its name, according to traditions extant at Ega, resem- 
bled the Passes in their slender figures and friendly dis- 
position. These tribes (with others lying between them) 
peopled the banks of the main river and its by-streams 
from the mouth of the Rio Negro to Peru. True Passes 
existed in their primitive state on the banks of the 
Issa, 240 miles to the west of Ega, within the memory 
of living persons. The only large body of them now 
extant are located on the Japura, at a place distant 
about 150 miles from Ega: the population of this horde, 
however, does not exceed, from what I could learn, 
300 or 400 persons. I think it probable that the lower 
part of the Japura and its extensive delta lands formed 
the original home of this gentle tribe of Indians. 

The Passes are always spoken of in this country as 
the most advanced of all the Indian nations in the 
Amazons region. I saw altogether about thirty indi- 
viduals of the tribe, and found them generally distin- 
guishable from other Indians by their lighter colour, 
sharper features, and more open address. But these 
points of distinction were not invariable, for I saw 
individuals of the Juri and Miranha tribes from the 
Upper Japura ; of the Catoquinos, who inhabit the 
banks of the Jurua, 300 miles from its mouth ; and 



of the Tucunas of St. Paulo, who were scarcely distin- 
guishable from Passes in all the features mentioned. 
It is remarkable that a small tribe, the Caishanas, who 
live in the very midst of all these superior tribes, are 
almost as debased physically and mentally as the 
Muras, the lowest of all the Indian tribes on the Ama- 
zons. Yet were they seen separately, many Caishanas 
could not be distinguished from Miranhas or Juris, 
although none have such slender figures or are so frank 
in their ways as to be mistaken for Passes. I make 
these remarks to show that the differences between the 
nations or tribes of Indians are not absolute, and there- 
fore that there is no ground for supposing any of them 
to have had an origin entirely different from the rest. 
Under what influences certain tribes, such as the Passes, 
have become so strongly modified in mental, social, and 
bodily features, it is hard to divine. The industrious 
habits, fidelity, and mildness of disposition of the Passes, 
their docility and, it may be added, their personal beauty, 
especially of the children and women, made them from 
the first very attractive to the Portuguese colonists. 
They were, consequently, enticed in great number from 
their villages and brought to Barra and other set- 
tlements of the whites. The wives of governors and 
military officers from Europe were always eager to 
obtain children for domestic servants : the girls being 
taught to sew, cook, weave hammocks, manufacture 
pillow-lace, and so forth. They have been generally 
treated with kindness, especially by the educated fami- 
lies in the settlements. It is pleasant to have to record 
that I never heard of a deed of violence perpetrated, on 


the one side or the other, in the dealings between Euro- 
pean settlers and this noble tribe of savages. 

Very little is known of the original customs of the 
Passes. The mode of life of our host Pedro-uassu did 
not differ much from that of the civilised Mamelucos ; 
but he and his people showed a greater industry, and 
were more open, cheerful, and generous in their dealings 
than many half-castes. The authority of Pedro, like 
that of the Tushauas generally, was exercised in a mild 
manner. These chieftains appear able to command the 
services of their subjects, since they furnish men to the 
Brazilian authorities when requested ; but none of them, 
even those of the most advanced tribes, appear to make 
use of this authority for the accumulation of property ; 
the service being exacted chiefly in time of war. Had 
the ambition of the chiefs of some of these industrious 
tribes been turned to the acquisition of wealth, pro- 
bably we should have seen indigenous civilised nations 
in the heart of South America similar to those found on 
the Andes of Peru and Mexico. It is very probable that 
the Passes adopted from the first to some extent the 
manners of the whites. Ribeiro, a Portuguese official 
who travelled in these regions in 1774-5, and wrote an 
account of his journey, relates that they buried their 
dead in large earthenware vessels (a custom still observed 
amongst other tribes on the Upper Amazons), and that, 
as to their marriages, the young men earned their 
brides by valiant deeds in war. He also states that 
they possessed a cosmogony, in which the belief that the 
sun was a fixed body with the earth revolving around 
it, was a prominent feature. He says, moreover, that 

R 2 


they believed in a Creator of all things ; a future state 
of rewards and punishments, and so forth. These 
notions are so far in advance of the ideas of all other 
tribes of Indians, and so little likely to have been con- 
ceived and perfected by a people having no written 
language or leisured class, that we must suppose them 
to have been derived by the docile Passes from some 
early missionary or traveller. I never found that the 
Passes had more curiosity or activity of intellect than 
other Indians. No trace of a belief in a future state 
exists amongst Indians who have not had much inter- 
course with the civilised settlers, and even amongst 
those who have it is only a few of the more gifted indi- 
viduals who show any curiosity on the subject. Their 
sluggish minds seem unable to conceive or feel the want 
of a theory of the soul, and of the relations of man to 
the Creator or the rest of Nature. But is it not so with 
totally uneducated and isolated people even in the most 
highly civilised parts of the world ? The good qualities 
of the Passes belong to the moral part of the character : 
they lead a contented, unambitious, and friendly life, a 
quiet, domestic, orderly existence, varied by occasional 
drinking bouts and summer excursions. They are not 
so shrewd, energetic, and masterful as the Mundurucus, 
but they are more easily taught, because their disposi- 
tion is more yielding than that of the Mundurucus or 
any other tribe. 

We started on our return to Ega at half-past four 
o'clock in the afternoon. Our generous entertainers 
loaded us with presents. There was scarcely room for us to 
sit in the canoe, as they had sent down ten large bundles 


of sugar-cane, four baskets of farinha, three cedar planks, 
a small hamper of coffee, and two heavy bunches of 
bananas. After we were embarked the old lady came 
with a parting gift for me — a huge bowl of smoking- 
hot banana porridge. I was to eat it on the road " to 
keep my stomach warm." Both stood on the bank as we 
pushed off, and gave us their adeos, " Ikuana Tupana 
eirum " (Go with God) : a form of salutation taught by 
the old Jesuit missionaries. We had a most uncom- 
fortable passage, for Cardozo was quite tipsy and had 
not attended to the loading of the boat. The cargo had 
been placed too far forward, and to make matters worse 
my heavy friend obstinately insisted on sitting astride 
on the top of the pile, instead of taking his place near 
the stern ; singing from his perch a most indecent love- 
song, and disregarding the inconvenience of having to 
bend down almost every minute to pass under the boughs 
and hanging sipos as we sped rapidly along. The canoe 
leaked, but not, at first, alarmingly. Long before sunset, 
darkness began to close in under these gloomy shades, 
and our steersman could not avoid now and then run- 
ning the boat into the thicket. The first time this 
happened a piece was broken off the square prow 
(rodella) ; the second time we got squeezed between 
two trees. A short time after this latter accident, 
being seated near the stem with my feet on the bottom 
of the boat, I felt rather suddenly the cold water above 
my ankles. A few minutes more and we should have 
sunk, for a seam had been opened forward under the 
pile of sugar-cane. Two of us began to bale, and by 
the most strenuous efforts managed to keep afloat with- 


out throwing overboard our cargo. The Indians were 
obliged to paddle with extreme slowness to avoid ship- 
ping water, as the edge of our prow was nearly level 
with the surface ; but Cardozo was now persuaded 
to change his seat. The sun set, the quick twilight 
passed, and the moon soon after began to glimmer 
through the thick canopy of foliage. The prospect of 
being swamped in this hideous solitude was by no 
means pleasant, although I calculated on the chance of 
swimming to a tree and finding a nice snug place in 
the fork of some large bough wherein to pass the 
night. At length, after four hours' tedious progress, we 
suddenly emerged on the open stream where the moon- 
light glittered in broad sheets on the gently rippling 
waters. A little extra care was now required in pad- 
dling. The Indians plied their strokes with the greatest 
nicety ; the lights of Ega (the oil lamps in the houses) 
soon appeared beyond the black wall of forest, and in a 
short time we leapt safely ashore. 

A few months after the excursion just narrated, I 
accompanied Cardozo in many wanderings on the Soli- 
moens, during which we visited the praias (sand-islands), 
the turtle pools in the forests, and the by-streams and 
lakes of the great desert river. His object was mainly 
to superintend the business of digging up turtle eggs 
on the sand-banks, having been elected commandante 
for the year, by the municipal council of Ega, of the 
" praia real" (royal sand-island) of Shimuni, the one 
lying nearest to Ega. There are four of these royal 
praias within the Ega district, (a distance of 150 miles 


from the town), all of which are visited annually by 
the Ega people for the purpose of collecting eggs and 
extracting oil from their yolks. Each has its com- 
mander, whose business is to make arrangements for 
securing to every inhabitant an equal chance in the 
egg harvest by placing sentinels to protect the turtles 
whilst laying, and so forth. The pregnant turtles 
descend from the interior pools to the main river in 
July and August, before the outlets dry up, and then 
seek in countless swarms their favourite sand-islands ; 
for it is only a few praias that are selected by them out 
of the great number existing. The young animals 
remain in the pools throughout the dry season. These 
breeding places of turtles then lie twenty to thirty or 
more feet above the level of the river, and are accessible 
only by cutting roads through the dense forest. 

We left Ega on our first trip, to visit the sentinels 
whilst the turtles were yet laying, on the 26th of Sep- 
tember. Our canoe was a stoutly -built igarite, arranged 
for ten paddlers, and having a large arched toldo at the 
stern, under which three persons could sleep pretty 
comfortably. In passing down the narrow channel to 
the mouth of the Teffe, I noticed that the yellow waters 
of the Solimoens were flowing slowly inwards towards 
the lake, showing how much fuller and stronger, at this 
season, was the current of the main river than that of 
its tributary. On reaching the broad stream, we 
descended rapidly on the swift current to the south- 
eastern or lower end of the large wooded island of 
Baria, which here divides the river into two great chan- 
nels. The distance was about twelve miles : the island 


of Shimuni lies in the middle of the north-easterly 
channel, and is reached by passing round the end of 
Baria. Two miles further down the broad, wild, and 
turbid river, lies the small island of Curubaru, skirted 
like the others by a large praia ; this is not, however, 
frequented by turtles, on account of the coarse, gritty 
nature of the deposit. The sand-banks appear to be 
formed only where there is a remanso or still water, 
and the wooded islands to which they are generally 
attached probably first originated in accumulations of 

We landed on Curubaru ; Cardozo wishing to try the 
pocos (wells, or deep pools) which lie here as in other 
praias between the sand-bank and its island, for fish and 
tracajas. The sun was now nearly vertical, and the 
coarse, heated sand burnt our feet as we trod. We 
Avalked or rather trotted nearly a mile before reaching 
the pools : there was not a breath of wind nor a cloud 
to moderate the heat of mid-day, and the Indians who 
carried the fishing-net suffered greatly. On arriving at 
the ponds we found the water was quite warm ; the 
net brought up only two or three small fishes, and we 
thus had our toilsome journey for nothing. 

Re-embarking, we paddled across to Shimuni, reaching 
the commencement of the praia an hour before sunset. 
The island-proper is about three miles long and half 
a mile broad : the forest with which it is covered rises 
to an immense and uniform height, and presents all 
round a compact, impervious front. Here and there a 
singular tree, called Pao mulatto (mulatto wood), with 
polished dark-green trunk, rose conspicuously amongst 


the mass of vegetation. The sand-bank, which lies at 
the upper end of the island extends several miles, and 
presents an irregular, and in some parts, strongly waved 
surface, with deep hollows and ridges. When upon it, 
one feels as though treading an almost boundless field 
of sand : for towards the south-east, where no forest-line 
terminates the view, the white, rolling plain stretches 
away to the horizon. The north-easterly channel of the 
river lying between the sands and the further shore 
of the river is at least two miles in breadth ; the 
middle one, between the two islands, Shimuni and 
Baria, is not much less than a mile. 

We found the two sentinels lodged in a corner of the 
praia, where it commences at the foot of the towering 
forest-wall of the island ; having built for themselves a 
little rancho with poles and palm-leaves. Great precau- 
tions are obliged to be taken to avoid disturbing the 
sensitive turtles, who, previous to crawling ashore to lay, 
assemble in great shoals off the sand-bank. The men, 
during this time, take care not to show themselves and 
warn off any fisherman who wishes to pass near the place. 
Their fires are made in a deep hollow near the borders of 
the forest, so that the smoke may not be visible. The 
passage of a boat through the shallow waters where the 
animals are congregated, or the sight of a man or a 
fire on the sand-bank, would prevent the turtles from 
leaving the water that night to lay their eggs, and if 
the causes of alarm were repeated once or twice, they 
would forsake the praia for some other quieter place. 
Soon after we arrived, our men were sent with the net 
to catch a supply of fish for supper. In half an hour, 


four or five large basketsful of Acari were brought in. 
The sun set soon after our meal was cooked ; we were 
then obliged to extinguish the fire and remove our 
supper materials to the sleeping ground, a spit of sand 
about a .mile off ; this course being necessary on account 
of the mosquitoes which swarm at night on the borders 
of the forest. 

One of the sentinels was a taciturn, morose-looking, 
but sober and honest Indian, named Daniel ; the other 
was a noted character of Ega, a little wiry mameluco, 
named Carepira (Fish -hawk) ; known for his waggery, 
propensity for strong drink, and indebtedness to Ega 
traders. Both were intrepid canoemen and huntsmen, 
and both perfectly at home anywhere in these fearful 
wastes of forest and water. Carepira had his son with 
him, a quiet little lad of about nine years of age. 
These men in a few minutes constructed a small shed 
with four upright poles and leaves of the arrow-grass, 
under which I and Cardozo slung our hammocks. We 
did not go to sleep, however, until after midnight : for 
when supper was over we lay about on the sand with a 
flask of rum in our midst, and whiled away the still 
hours in listening to Carepira's stories. 

I rose from my hammock by daylight, shivering with 
cold ; a praia, on account of the great radiation of heat 
in the night from the sand, being towards the dawn the 
coldest place that can be found in this climate. Cardozo 
and the men were already up watching the turtles. The 
sentinels had erected for this purpose a stage about 
fifty feet high, on a tall tree near their station, the 
ascent to which was by a roughly-made ladder of woody 


lianas. They are enabled, by observing the turtles 
from this watch-tower, to ascertain the date of succes- 
sive deposits of eggs, and thus guide the commandante 
in fixing the time for the general invitation to the Ega 
people. The turtles lay their eggs by night, leaving 
the water when nothing disturbs them, in vast crowds, 
and crawling to the central and highest part of the 
praia. These places are, of course, the last to go under 
water when, in unusually wet seasons, the river rises 
before the eggs are hatched by the heat of the sand. 
One could almost believe, from this, that the animals 
used forethought in choosing a place ; but it is simply 
one of those many instances in animals where uncon- 
scious habit has the same result as conscious prevision. 
The hours between midnight and dawn are the busiest. 
The turtles excavate with their broad, webbed paws 
deep holes in the fine sand : the first comer, in each 
case, making a pit about three feet deep, laying its eggs 
(about 120 in number) and covering them with sand ; 
the next making its deposit at the top of that of its 
predecessor, and so on until every pit is full. The whole 
body of turtles frequenting a praia does not finish laying 
in less than fourteen or fifteen days, even when there is 
no interruption. When all have done, the area (called 
by the Brazilians taboleiro) over which they have 
excavated, is distinguishable from the rest of the 
praia only by signs of the sand having been a little 

On rising I went to join my friends. Few recollec- 
tions of my Amazonian rambles are more vivid and 
agreeable tHan that of my walk over the white sea of 


sand on this cool morning. The sky was cloudless ; the 
just-risen sun was hidden behind the dark mass of 
woods on Shimuni, but the long line of forest to the 
west, on Baria, with its plumy decorations of palms, 
was lighted up with his yellow, horizontal rays. A faint 
chorus of singing birds reached the ears from across 
the water, and flocks of gulls and plovers were crying 
plaintively over the swelling banks of the praia, where 
their eggs lay in nests made in little hollows of the 
sand. Tracks of stray turtles were visible on the smooth 
white surface of the praia. The animals which thus 
wander from the main body are lawful prizes of the 
sentinels ; they had caught in this way two before sun- 
rise, one of which we had for dinner. In my walk I 
disturbed several pairs of the chocolate and drab- 
coloured wild goose (Anser jubatus) which set off to run 
along the edge of the water. The enjoyment one feels 
in rambling over these free, open spaces, is no doubt 
enhanced by the novelty of the scene, the change being 
very great from the monotonous landscape of forest 
which everywhere else presents itself. 

On arriving at the edge of the forest I mounted the 
sentinel's stage, just in time to see the turtles retreating 
to the water on the opposite side of the sand-bank, 
after having laid their eggs. The sight was well worth 
the trouble of ascending the shaky ladder. They were 
about a mile off, but the surface of the sands was black- 
ened with the multitudes which were waddling towards 
the river ; the margin of the praia was rather steep, and 
they all seemed to tumble head first down the declivity 
into the water. 


I spent the morning of the 27th collecting insects in 
the woods of Shinxuni ; assisting my friend in the after- 
noon to beat a large pool for Tracajas, Cardozo wishing 
to obtain a supply for his table at home. The pool was 
nearly a mile long, and lay on one side of the island 
between the forest and the sand-bank. The sands are 
heaped up very curiously around the margins of these 
isolated sheets of water ; in the present case they 
formed a steeply-inclined bank, from five to eight feet 
in height. What may be the cause of this formation 
I cannot imagine. The pools always contain a quan- 
tity of imprisoned fish, turtles, tracajas, and Aiyussas.* 
The turtles and Aiyussas crawl out voluntarily in the 
course of a few days, and escape to the main river, but 
the Tracajas remain and become an easy prey to the 
natives. The ordinary mode of obtaining them is to 
whip the water in every part with rods for several 
hours during the day ; this treatment having the effect 
of driving the animals out. They wait, however, until 
the night following the beating before making their 
exit. Our Indians were occupied for many hours in 
this work, and when night came they and the sentinels 
were placed at intervals along the edge of the water to 
be ready to capture the runaways. Cardozo and I, after 
supper, went and took our station at one end of the 

We did not succeed, after all our trouble, in getting 
many Tracajas. This was partly owing to the intense 
darkness of the night, and partly, doubtless, to the 

* Specimens of this species of turtle are named in the British 
Museum collection, Podocnemis expansa. 


sentinels having already nearly exhausted the pool, 
notwithstanding their declarations to the contrary. In 
waiting for the animals it was necessary to keep silence : 
not a pleasant way of passing the night ; speaking only 
in whispers, and being without fire in a place liable to 
be visited by a prowling jaguar. Cardozo and I sat on 
a sandy slope with our loaded guns by our side, but it 
was so dark we could scarcely see each other. Towards 
midnight a storm began to gather around us. The 
faint wind which had breathed from over the water 
since the sun went down, ceased ; thick clouds piled 
themselves up, until every star was obscured, and 
gleams of watery lightning began to play in the midst 
of the black masses. I hinted to Cardozo that I 
thought we had now had enough of watching, and sug- 
gested a cigarette. Just then a quick pattering move- 
ment was heard on the sands, and grasping our guns, we 
both started to our feet. Whatever it might have been 
it seemed to pass by, and a few moments afterwards a 
dark body appeared to be moving in another direction 
on the opposite slope of the sandy ravine where we lay. 
We prepared to fire, but luckily took the precaution of 
first shouting " Quern va la?" (Who goes there?). It 
turned out to be the taciturn sentinel, Daniel, who asked 
us mildly whether we had heard a " raposa " pass our 
way. The raposa is a kind of wild dog, with very long, 
tapering muzzle, and black and white speckled hair.* 

* I had once only an opportunity of examining a specimen of this 
animal. It is probably new to science, at least I have not been able 
to find a published description that suits the species. The one men- 
tioned was taken from a burrow in the earth in the forests bordering 
the Tene*, near Ega. 

Chap. IV. RETURN TO EGA. 255 

Daniel could distinguish all kinds of animals in the dark 
by their footsteps. It now began to thunder, and our po- 
sition was getting very uncomfortable. Daniel had not 
seen anything of the other Indians, and thought it was 
useless waiting any longer for Tracajas; we therefore 
sent him to call in the whole party, and made off, our- 
selves, as quickly as we could for the canoe. The rest 
of the night was passed most miserably ; as indeed were 
very many of my nights on the Solimoens. A furious 
squall burst upon us ; the wind blew away the cloths 
and mats we had fixed up at the ends of the arched 
awning of the canoe to shelter ourselves, and the rain 
beat right through our sleeping-place. There we lay, 
Cardozo and I, huddled together and wet through, wait- 
ing for the morning. 

A cup of strong and hot coffee put us to rights at 
sunrise ; but the rain was still coming down, having 
changed to a steady drizzle. Our men were all returned 
from the pool, having taken only four Tracajas. The 
business which had brought Cardozo hither being now 
finished, we set out to return to Ega, leaving the senti- 
nels once more to their solitude on the sands. Our 
return route was by the rarely frequented north-easterly 
channel of the Solimoens, through which flows part of 
the waters of its great tributary stream, the Japura. We 
travelled for five hours along the desolate, broken, tim- 
ber-strewn shore of Baria. The channel is of immense 
breadth, the opposite coast being visible only as a long, 
low line of forest. At three o'clock in the afternoon we 
doubled the upper end of the island, and then crossed 
towards the mouth of the Teffe' by a broad transverse 


channel running between Baria and another island 
called Quanaru. There is a small sand-bank at the 
north-westerly point of Baria, called Jacare' ; we stayed 
here to dine and afterwards fished with the net. A fine 
rain was still falling, and we had capital sport, in three 
hauls taking more fish than our canoe would con- 
veniently hold. They were of two kinds only, the 

Surubim (Pimelodus tigrinus). 

Surubim and the Piraepieiia (species of Pimelodus), 

very handsome fishes four feet in length, with flat 

spoon-shaped heads, and prettily-spotted and striped 


On our way from Jacare to the mouth of the Teffe 

we had a little adventure with a black tiger or jaguar. 
We were paddling rapidly past a long beach of dried 
mud, when the Indians became suddenly excited, shout- 
ing " Ecui Jauarete ; Jauari-pixuna ! " (Behold the 
jaguar, the black jaguar !). Looking ahead we saw the 
animal quietly drinking at the water's edge. Cardozo 
ordered the steersman at once to put us ashore. By the 
time we were landed the tiger had seen us, and was re- 
tracing his steps towards the forest. On the spur of the 


moment and without thinking of what wo were doing, 
we took our guns (mine was a double-barrel, with one 
charge of B B and one of dust-shot) and gave chase. 
The animal increased his speed, and reaching the forest 
border dived into the dense mass of broad-leaved grass 
which formed its frontage. We peeped through the gap 
he had made, but, our courage being by this time cooled, 
did not think it wise to go into the thicket after him. 
The black tiger appears to be more abundant than the 
spotted form of jaguar in the neighbourhood of Ega. 
The most certain method of finding it is to hunt, 
assisted by a string of Indians shouting and driving 
the game before them, in the narrow restingas or strips 
of dry land in the forest, which are isolated by the 
flooding of their neighbourhood in the wet season. We 
reached Ega by eight o'clock at night, 

On the 6th of October we left Ega on a second excur- 
sion ; the principal object of Cardozo being, this time, 
to search certain pools in the forest for young turtles. 
The exact situation of these hidden sheets of water is 
known only to a few practised huntsmen ; we took one 
of these men with us from Ega, a mameluco named 
Pedro, and on our way called at Shimuni for Daniel to 
serve as an additional guide. We started from the 
praia at sunrise on the 7th, in two canoes containing 
twenty- three persons, nineteen of whom were Indians. 
The morning was cloudy and cool, and a fresh wind 
blew from down river, against which we had to strusrffle 
with all the force of our paddles, aided by the current ; 
the boats were tossed about most disagreeably, and 

VOL. II. s 


shipped a great deal of water. On passing the lower 
end of Shimuni, a long reach of the river was before us, 
undivided by islands ; a magnificent expanse of water 
stretching away to the south-east. The country on the 
left bank is not, however, terra firma, but a portion of 
the alluvial land which forms the extensive and complex 
delta region of the Japura. It is flooded every year at 
the time of high water, and is traversed by many narrow 
and deep channels which serve as outlets to the Japura, 
or, at least, are connected with that river by means of 
the interior water-system of the Cupiyo. This inhos- 
pitable tract of country extends for several hundred 
miles, and contains in its midst an endless number of 
pools and lakes tenanted by multitudes of turtles, fishes, 
alligators, and water serpents. Our destination was a 
point on this coast situated about twenty miles below 
Shimuni, and a short distance from the mouth of the 
Anana, one of the channels just alluded to as connected 
with the Japura. After travelling for three hours in 
mid-stream we steered for the land and brought to 
under a steeply-inclined bank of crumbly earth, shaped 
into a succession of steps or terraces, marking the 
various halts which the waters of the river make in the 
course of subsidence. The coast line was nearly straight 
for many miles, and the bank averaged about thirty 
feet in height above the present level of the river : at 
the top rose the unbroken hedge of forest. No one 
could have divined that pools of water existed on that 
elevated land. A narrow level space extended at the 
foot of the bank. On landing the first business was to 
get breakfast. Whilst a couple of Indian lads were 

Chap. IV. THE ANINGAL. 259 

employed in making the fire, roasting the fish, and 
boiling the coffee, the rest of the party mounted the 
bank, and with their long hunting-knives commenced 
cutting a path through the forest ; the pool, called the 
Aningal, being about half a mile distant. After break- 
fast a great number of short poles were cut and laid 
crosswise on the path, and then three light montarias 
which we had brought with us were dragged up the 
bank by lianas, and rolled away to be embarked on the 
pool. A large net, seventy yards in length, was then 
disembarked and carried to the place. The work was 
done very speedily, and when Cardozo and I went to the 
spot at eleven o'clock we found some of the older 
Indians, including Pedro and Daniel, had begun their 
sport. They were mounted on little stages called 
moutas, made of poles and cross-pieces of wood secured 
with lianas, and were shooting the turtles, as they came 
near the surface, with bows and arrows. The Indians 
seemed to think that netting the animals, as Cardozo 
proposed doing, was not lawful sport, and wished first to 
have an hour or two's old-fashioned practice with their 

The pool covered an area of about four or five acres, 
and was closely hemmed in by the forest, which in 
picturesque variety and grouping of trees and foliage 
exceeded almost everything I had yet witnessed. The 
margins for some distance were swampy, and covered 
with large tufts of a fine grass called Matupa. These 
tufts in many places were overrun with ferns, and 
exterior to them a crowded row of arborescent arums, 
growing to a height of fifteen or twenty feet, formed a 


green palisade. Around the whole stood the taller forest 
trees ; palmate-leaved Cecropioe ; slender Assai palms, 
thirty feet high, with their thin feathery heads crowning 
the gently-curving, smooth stems ; small fan-leaved 
palms ; and as a back -ground to all these airy shapes, 
lay the voluminous masses of ordinary forest trees, 
with garlands, festoons, and streamers of leafy climbers 
hanging from their branches. The pool was nowhere 
more than five feet deep, one foot of which was not 
water, but extremely fine and soft mud. 

Cardozo and I spent an hour paddling about, I was 
astonished at the skill which the Indians display in 
shooting turtles. They did not wait for their coming 
to the surface to breathe, but watched for the slight 
movements in the water, which revealed their presence 
underneath. These little tracks on the water are 
called the Siriri ; the instant one was perceived an 
arrow flew from the bow of the nearest man, and never 
failed to pierce the shell of the submerged animal. 
When the turtle was very distant, of course the aim 
bad to be taken at a considerable elevation, but the 
marksmen preferred a longish range, because the arrow 
then fell more perpendicularly on the shell, and entered 
it more deeply. 

The arrow used in turtle shooting has a strong 
lancet-shaped steel point, fitted into a peg which enters 
the tip of the shaft. The peg is secured to the shaft 
by twine made of the fibres of pine-apple leaves, the 
twine being some thirty or forty yards in length, and 
neatly wound round the body of the arrow. When the 
missile enters the shell the peg drops out, and the pierced 

Chap. IV. 



animal descends with it towards the bottom, leaving the 

shaft floating on the surface. This being 

done the sportsman paddles in his mon- 

taria to the place, and gently draws the 

animal by the twine, humouring it by 

giving it the rein when it plunges, until 

it is brought again near the surface, when 

he strikes it with a second arrow. With 

the increased hold given by the two cords 

he has then no difficulty in landing his 


By mid-day the men had shot about a 
score of nearly full-grown turtles. Car- 
dozo then gave orders to spread the net. 
The spongy, swampy nature of the banks 
made it impossible to work the net so as 
to draw the booty ashore ; another method 
was therefore adopted. The net was taken 
by two Indians and extended in a curve 
at one extremity of the oval-shaped pool, 
holding it when they had done so by the 
perpendicular rods fixed at each end ; its 
breadth was about equal to the depth of 
the water, its shotted side therefore rested 
on the bottom, whilst the floats buoyed it 
up on the surface, so that the whole, when 
the ends were brought together, would 
form a complete trap. The rest of the 
party then spread themselves around the 
swamp at the opposite end of the pool 
and began to beat, with stout poles, the thick tufts 

Arrow used in 
turtle shooting. 


of Matupa, in order to drive the turtles towards the 
middle. This was continued for an hour or more, 
the beaters gradually drawing nearer to each other, and 
driving the host of animals before them ; the number 
of little snouts constantly popping above the surface of 
the water showing that all was going on well. When 
they neared the net the men moved more quickly, 
shouting and beating with great vigour. The ends of 
the net were then seized by several strong hands and 
dragged suddenly forwards, bringing them at the same 
time together, so as to enclose all the booty in a circle. 
Every man now leapt into the enclosure, the boats were 
brought up, and the turtles easily captured by the hand 
and tossed into them. I jumped in along with the rest, 
although I had just before made the discovery that the 
pool abounded in ugly, red, four-angled leeches, having 
seen several of these delectable animals, which some- 
times fasten on the legs of fishermen, although they did 
not, on this day, trouble us, working their way through 
cracks in the bottom of our montaria. Cardozo, who 
remained with the boats, could not turn the animals 
on their backs fast enough, so that a great many clam- 
bered out and got free again. However, three boat- 
loads, or about eighty, were secured in about twenty 
minutes. They were then taken ashore, and each one 
secured by the men tying the legs with thongs of bast. 

When the canoes had been twice filled, we desisted, 
after a very hard day's work. Nearly all the animals 
were young ones, chiefly, according to the statement of 
Pedro, from three to ten years of age ; they varied from 
six to eighteen inches in length, and were very fat. Car- 


dozo and I lived almost exclusively on them for several 
months afterwards. Roasted in the shell they form a 
most appetizing dish. These younger turtles never 
migrate with their elders on the sinking of the waters, 
but remain in the tepid pools, fattening on fallen fruits, 
and, according to the natives, on the fine nutritious 
mud. We captured a few full-grown mother-turtles, 
which were known at once by the horny skin of their 
breast-plates being worn, telling of their having crawled 
on the sands to lay eggs the previous year. They had 
evidently made a mistake in not leaving the pool at the 
proper time, for they were full of eggs, which, we were 
told, they would, before the season was over, scatter in 
despair over the swamp. We also found several male 
turtles, or Capitaris, as they are called by the natives. 
These are immensely less numerous than the females, 
and are distinguishable by their much smaller size, 
more circular shape, and the greater length and thick- 
ness of their tails. Their flesh is considered unwhole- 
some, especially to sick people having external signs of 
inflammation. All diseases in these parts, as well as 
their remedies and all articles of food, are classed by the 
inhabitants as "hot" and "cold," and the meat of the 
Capitari is settled by unanimous consent as belonging to 
the " hot" list. 

We dined on the banks of the river, a little before 
sunset. The mosquitoes then began to be troublesome, 
and finding it would be impossible to sleep here, we all 
embarked and crossed the river to a sand-bank, about 
three miles distant, where we passed the night. Cardozo 
and I slept in our hammocks slung between upright 


poles, the rest stretching themselves on the sand round 
a large fire. We lay awake conversing until past mid- 
night. It was a real pleasure to listen to the stories 
told by one of the older men, they were given with so 
much spirit. The tales always related to struggles with 
some intractable animal — jaguar, manatee, or alligator. 
Many interjections and expressive gestures were used, 
and at the end came a sudden "Pa! terra!" when 
the animal was vanquished by a shot or a blow. Many 
mysterious tales were recounted about the Bouto, as the 
large Dolphin of the Amazons is called. One of them 
was to the effect that a Bouto once had the habit of 
assuming the shape of a beautiful woman, with hair 
hanging loose to her heels, and walking ashore at night 
in the streets of Ega, to entice the young men down to 
the water. If any one was so much smitten as to follow 
her to the water-side, she grasped her victim round the 
waist and plunged beneath the waves with a triumphant 
cry. No animal in the Amazons region is the subject 
of so many fables as the Bouto ; but it is probable these 
did not originate with the Indians but with the Portu- 
guese colonists. It was several years before I could 
induce a fisherman to harpoon Dolphins for me as speci- 
mens, for no one ever kills these animals voluntarily, 
although their fat is known to yield an excellent oil for 
lamps. The superstitious people believe that blindness 
would result from the use of this oil in lamps. I suc- 
ceeded at length with Carepira, by offering him a high 
reward when his finances were at a very low point ; but 
he repented of his deed ever afterwards, declaring that 
his luck had forsaken him from that day. 

Chap. IV. ALLIGATORS. 265 

The next day we again beat the pool. Although we 
had proof of there being a great number of turtles 
yet remaining, we had very poor success. The old 
Indians told us it would be so, for the turtles were " la- 
dino" (cunning), and would take no notice of the beating 
a second day. When the net was formed into a circle, 
and the men had jumped in, an alligator was found to be 
inclosed. No one was alarmed, the only fear expressed 
being that the imprisoned beast would tear the net. 
First one shouted, " I have touched his head ;" then 
another, " he has scratched my leg ;" one of the men, 
a lanky Miranha, was thrown off his balance, and then 
there was no end to the laughter and shouting. At last 
a youth of about fourteen years of age, on my calling to 
him, from the bank, to do so, seized the reptile by the 
tail, and held him tightly until, a little resistance being- 
overcome, he was able to bring it ashore. The net was 
opened, and the boy slowly dragged the dangerous but 
cowardly beast to land through the muddy water, a dis- 
tance of about a hundred yards. Meantime, I had cut 
a strong pole from a tree, and as soon as the alligator 
was drawn to solid ground, gave him a smart rap 
with it on the crown of his head, which killed him 
instantly. It was a good- sized individual ; the jaws 
being considerably more than a foot long, and fully 
capable of snapping a man's leg in twain. The species 
was the large cayman, the Jacare-uassu of the Amazo- 
nian Indians (Jacare nigra). 

On the third day we sent our men in the boats to 
net turtles in another larger pool, about five miles fur- 
ther down the river, and on the fourth returned to Ega. 


It will be well to mention here a few circumstances 
relative to the large Cayman, which, with the incident 
just narrated, afford illustrations of the cunning, cow- 
ardice and ferocity of this reptile. 

I have hitherto had but few occasions of mentioning 
alligators, although they exist by myriads in the waters of 
the Upper Amazons. Many different species are spoken 
of by the natives. I saw only three, and of these two 
only are common : one, the Jacare-tinga, a small kind 
(five feet long when full grown) having a long slender 
muzzle and a black-banded tail ; the other, the Jacare- 
uassti, to which these remarks more especially relate ; 
and the third the Jacare-curua, mentioned in a 
former chapter. The Jacare-uassu, or large Cayman, 
grows to a length of eighteen or twenty feet, and 
attains an enormous bulk. Like the turtles, the alli- 
gator has its annual migrations, for it retreats to the 
interior pools and flooded forests in the wet season, 
and descends to the main river in the dry season. 
During the months of high water, therefore, scarcely a 
single individual is to be seen in the main river. In 
the middle part of the Lower Amazons, about Obydos 
and Villa Nova, where many of the lakes with their 
channels of communication with the trunk stream, dry 
up in the fine months, the alligator buries itself in the 
mud and becomes dormant, sleeping till the rainy 
season returns. . On the Upper Amazons, where the dry 
season is never excessive, it has not this habit, but is 
lively all the year round. It is scarcely exaggerating 
to say that the waters of the Solimoens are as well- 
stocked with large alligators in the dry season, as a 

Chap. IV. ALLIGATORS. 267 

ditch in England is in summer with tadpoles. During 
a journey of five days which I once made in the Upper 
Amazons steamer, in November, alligators were seen 
along the coast almost every step of the way, and the 
passengers amused themselves, from morning till night, 
by firing at them with rifle and ball. They were very 
numerous in the still bays, where the huddled crowds 
jostled together, to the great rattling of their coats of 
mail, as the steamer passed. 

The natives at once despise and fear the great cay- 
man. I once spent a month at Caic,ara, a small village 
of semi-civilised Indians, about twenty miles to the 
west of Ega. My entertainer, the only white in the 
place, and one of my best and most constant friends, 
Senhor Innocencio Alves Faria, one day proposed a 
half-day's fishing with net in the lake, — the expanded 
bed of the small river on which the village is situated. 
We set out in an open boat with six Indians and 
two of Innocencio's children. The water had sunk so 
low that the net had to be taken out into the middle by 
the Indians, whence at the first draught, two medium- 
sized alligators were brought to land. They were dis- 
engaged from the net and allowed, with the coolest 
unconcern, to return to the water, although the two 
children were playing in it, not many yards off. We 
continued fishing, Innocencio and I lending a helping 
hand, and each time drew a number of the reptiles 
of different ages and sizes, some of them Jacare-tingas ; 
the lake in fact, swarmed with alligators. After taking 
a very large quantity of fish (I took pains to count the 
different species, and found there were no less than 


thirty-five), we prepared to return, and the Indians, at my 
suggestion, secured one of the alligators with the view of 
letting it loose amongst the swarms of dogs in the village. 
An individual was selected about eight feet long : one 
man holding his head and another his tail, whilst a third 
took a few lengths of a flexible liana, and deliberately 
bound the jaws and the legs. Thus secured, the beast 
was laid across the benches of the boat, on which we 
sat during the hour and a half s journey to the settle- 
ment. We were rather crowded, but our amiable pas- 
senger gave us no trouble during the transit. On 
reaching the village, we took the animal into the 
middle of the green, in front of the church, where the 
dogs were congregated, and there gave him his liberty, 
two of us arming ourselves with long poles to intercept 
him if he should make for the water, and the others 
exciting the dogs. The alligator showed great terror, 
although the dogs could not be made to advance, and 
made off at the top of its speed for the water, waddling 
like a duck. We tried to keep him back with the poles, 
but he became enraged, and seizing the end of the one I 
held, in his jaws, nearly wrenched it from my grasp. We 
were obliged, at length, to kill him to prevent his escape. 
These little incidents show the timidity or cowardice 
of the alligator. He never attacks man when his in- 
tended victim is on his guard : but he is cunning 
enough to know when he may do this with impunity : 
of this we had proof at Caigara, a few days afterwards. 
The river had sunk to a very low point, so that the 
port and bathing-place of the village now lay at the 
foot of a long sloping bank, and a large cayman made his 

Chap. IV. ALLIGATORS. 269 

appearance in the shallow and muddy water. We were 
all obliged to be very careful in taking our bath ; most 
of the people simply using a calabash, pouring the water 
over themselves whilst standing on the brink. A larere 
trading canoe, belonging to a Barra merchant named 
Soares, arrived at this time, and the Indian crew, as 
usual, spent the first day or two after their coming in 
port, in drunkenness and debauchery ashore. One of the 
men, during the greatest heat of the day when almost 
every one was enjoying his afternoon's nap, took it into 
his head whilst in a tipsy state to go down alone to 
bathe. He was seen only by the Juiz de Paz, a feeble 
old man who was lying in his hammock, in the open 
verandah at the rear of his house on the top of the bank, 
and who shouted to the besotted Indian to beware of the 
alligator. Before he could repeat his warning, the man 
stumbled, and a pair of gaping jaws, appearing suddenly 
above the surface, seized him round the waist and drew 
him under the water. A cry of agony " Ai Jesus ! " 
was the last sign made by the wretched victim. The 
village was aroused : the young men with praiseworthy 
readiness seized their harpoons and hurried down to 
the bank ; but of course it was too late, a winding- 
track of blood on the surface of the water, was all that 
could be seen. They embarked, however, in montarias, 
determined on vengeance : the monster was traced, 
and when, after a short lapse of time, he came up to 
breathe — one leg of the man sticking out from his 
jaws — was dispatched with bitter curses. 

The last of these minor excursions which I shall 


narrate, was made (again in company of Senhor Car- 
dozo, with the addition of his housekeeper Senhora 
Felippa), in the season when all the population of the 
villages turns out to dig up turtle eggs, and revel on the 
praias. Placards were posted on the church doors at 
Egfa, announcing that the excavation on Shimuni would 
commence on the 17th of October, and on Catua\ sixty 
miles below Shimuni, on the 25th. We set out on the 
16th, and passed on the road, in our well-manned 
igarite, a large number of people, men, women, and 
children in canoes of all sizes, wending their way as if 
to a great holiday gathering. By the morning of the 
17th, some 400 persons were assembled on the borders of 
the sandbank ; each family having erected a rude tem- 
porary shed of poles and palm leaves to protect them- 
selves from the sun and rain. Large copper kettles to 
prepare the oil, and hundreds of red earthenware jars, 
were scattered about on the sand. 

The excavation of the taboleiro, collecting the eggs 
and purifying the oil, occupied four days. All was done 
on a system established by the old Portuguese governors, 
probably more than a century ago. The commandante 
first took down the names of all the masters of house- 
holds, with the number of persons each intended to 
employ in digging ; he then exacted a payment of 140 
reis (about fourpence) a head, towards defraying the 
expense of sentinels. The whole were then allowed to 
go to the taboleiro. They ranged themselves round the 
circle, each person armed with a paddle, to be used as 
a spade, and then all began simultaneously to dig on 
a signal being given — the roll of drums — by order of the 

Chap. IV. TUKTLE EGGS. 271 

commandante. It was an animating sight to behold 
the wide circle of rival diggers throwing up clouds of 
sand in their energetic labours, and working gradually 
towards the centre of the ring. A little rest was taken 
during the great heat of mid-day, and in the evening 
the eggs were carried to the huts in baskets. By the 
end of the second day, the taboleiro was exhausted : 
large mounds of effffs. some of them four to five feet 
in height, were then seen by the side of each hut, the 
produce of the labours of the family. 

In the hurry of digging some of the deeper nests are 
passed over ; to find these out the people go about pro- 
vided with a long steel or wooden probe, the presence 
of the eggs being discoverable by the ease with which 
the spit enters the sand. When no more eggs are to be 
found, the mashing process begins. The egg, it may be 
here mentioned, has a flexible or leathery shell ; it is 
quite round, and somewhat larger than a hen's egg. 
The whole heap is thrown into an empty canoe and 
mashed with wooden prongs ; but sometimes naked In- 
dians and children jump into the mass and tread it down, 
besmearing themselves with yolk and making about as 
filthy a scene as can well be imagined. This being 
finished, water is poured into the canoe, and the 
fatty mess then left for a few hours to be heated by 
the sun, on which the oil separates and rises to the 
surface. The floating oil is afterwards skimmed off 
with long spoons, made by tying large mussel-shells 
to the end of rods, and purified over the fire in copper 

The destruction of turtle eggs every year by these 


proceedings is enormous. At least 6000 jars, holding 
each three gallons of the oil, are exported annually from 
the Upper Amazons and the Madeira to Para, where it 
is used for lighting, frying fish, and other purposes. It 
may be fairly estimated that 2000 more jars-full are 
consumed by the inhabitants of the villages on the 
river. Now, it takes at least twelve basketsfull of eggs, 
or about 6000, by the wasteful process followed, to make 
one jar of oil. The total number of eggs annually de- 
stroyed amounts, therefore, to 48,000,000. As each 
turtle lays about 120, it follows that the yearly offspring 
of 400,000 turtles is thus annihilated. A vast number, 
nevertheless, remain undetected ; and these would pro- 
bably be sufficient to keep the turtle population of these 
rivers up to the mark, if the people did not follow the 
wasteful practice of lying in wait for the newly -hatched 
young, and collecting them by thousands for eating ; 
their tender flesh and the remains of yolk in their 
entrails being considered a great delicacy. The chief 
natural enemies of the turtle are vultures and alligators, 
which devour the newly-hatched young as they descend 
in shoals to the water. These must have destroyed an 
immensely greater number before the European settlers 
began to appropriate the eggs than they do now. It is 
almost doubtful if this natural persecution did not act 
as effectively in checking the increase of the turtle as 
the artificial destruction now does. If we are to believe 
the tradition of the Indians, however, it had not this 
result ; for they say that formerly the waters teemed as 
thickly with turtles as the air now does with mosquitoes. 
The universal opinion of the settlers on the Upper 

Chap. IV. CATUA. 273 

Amazons is, that the turtle has very greatly decreased 
in numbers, and is still annually decreasing. 

We left Shimuni on the 20th with quite a flotilla of 
canoes, and descended the river to Catua, an eleven 
hours' journey by paddle and current. Catua is about 
six miles long, and almost entirely encircled by its praia. 
The turtles had selected for their egg-laying a part of 
the sandbank which was elevated at least twenty feet 
above the present level of the river ; the animals, to 
reach the place, must have crawled up a slope. As we 
approached the island, numbers of the animals were seen 
coming to the surface to breathe, in a small shoaly bay. 
Those who had light montarias sped forward with bows 
and arrows to shoot them. Carepira was foremost : hav- 
ing borrowed a small and very unsteady boat of Cardozo, 
and embarked in it with his little son. After bagging 
a couple of turtles, and whilst hauling in a third, he 
overbalanced himself : the canoe went over, and he with 
his child had to swim for their lives, in the midst of 
numerous alligators, about a mile from the land. The 
old man had to sustain a heavy fire of jokes from his 
companions for several days after this mishap. Such 
accidents are only laughed at by this almost amphibious 

The number of persons congregated on Catua was 
much greater than on Shimuni, as the population of 
the banks of several neighbouring lakes was here added. 
The line of huts and sheds extended half a mile, and 
several large sailing vessels were anchored at the place. 
The commandant was Senhor Macedo, the Indian black- 



smith of Ega before mentioned, who maintained excel- 
lent order during the fourteen days the process of 
excavation and oil manufacture lasted. There were 
also many primitive Indians here from the neighbour- 
ing rivers, amongst them a family of Shumanas, good- 
tempered, harmless people from the Lower Japura. All 
of them were tattooed round the mouth, the blueish tint 
forming a border to the lips, and extending in a line on 
the cheeks towards the ear on each side. They were 
not quite so slender in figure as the Passes of Pedro- 
uassus family ; but their features deviated quite as 
much as those of the Passes from the ordinary Indian 
type. This was seen chiefly in the comparatively small 
mouth, pointed chin, thin lips, and narrow, high nose. 
One of the daughters, a young girl of about seventeen 
years of age, was a real beauty. The colour of her skin 
approached the light tanned shade of the Mameluco 
women ; her figure was almost faultless, and the blue 
mouth, instead of being a disfigurement, gave quite a 
captivating finish to her appearance. Her neck, wrists, 
and ankles were adorned with strings of blue beads. 
She was, however, extremely bashful, never venturing 
to look strangers in the face, and never quitting, for 
many minutes together, the side of her father and 
mother. The family had been shamefully swindled 
by some rascally trader on another praia ; and, on 
our arrival, came to lay their case before Senhor 
Cardozo, as the delegado of police of the district. The 
mild way in which the old man, without a trace of 
anger, stated his complaint in imperfect Tupi, quite 
enlisted our sympathies in his favour. But Cardozo 


could give him no redress ; he invited the family, how- 
ever, to make their rancho near to ours, and in the end 
gave them the highest price for the surplus oil which 
they manufactured. 

It was not all work at Catua ; indeed there was 
rather more play than work going on. The people 
make a kind of holiday of these occasions. Every fine 
night parties of the younger people assembled on the 
sands, and dancing and games were carried on for hours 
together. But the requisite liveliness for these sports 
was never got up without a good deal of preliminary 
rum-drinking. The girls were so coy that the young 
men could not get sufficient partners for the dances, 
without first subscribing for a few flagons of the needful 
casha^a. The coldness of the shy Indian and Mameluco 
maidens never failed to give way after a little of this 
strong drink, but it was astonishing what an immense 
deal they could take of it in the course of an evening. 
Coyness is not always a sign of innocence in these 
people, for most of the half-caste women on the Upper 
Amazons lead a little career of looseness before they 
marry and settle down for life ; and it is rather re- 
markable that the men do not seem to object much to 
their brides having had a child or two by various 
fathers before marriage. The women do not lose reputa- 
tion unless they become utterly depraved, but in that case 
they are condemned pretty strongly by public opinion. 
Depravity is, however, rare, for all require more or less 
to be wooed before they are won. I did not see 
(although I mixed pretty freely with the young people) 
any breach of propriety on the praias. The merry- 

t 2 


makings were carried on near the ranchos, where the 
more staid citizens of Ega, husbands with their wives 
and young daughters, all smoking gravely out of 
long pipes, sat in their hammocks and enjoyed the 
fun. Towards midnight we often heard, in the intervals 
between jokes and laughter, the hoarse roar of jaguars 
prowling about the jungle in the middle of the praia. 
There were several guitar-players amongst the young 
men, and one most persevering fiddler, so there was 
no lack of music. 

The favourite sport was the Pira-purasse'ya, or fish- 
dance, one of the original games of the Indians, though 
now probably a little modified. The young men and 
women, mingling together, formed a ring, leaving one of 
their number in the middle, who represented the fish. 
They then all marched round, Indian file, the musicians 
mixed up with the rest, singing a monotonous but 
rather pretty chorus, the words of which were invented 
(under a certain form) by one of the party who acted 
as leader. This finished, all joined hands, and questions 
were put to the one in the middle, asking what kind of 
fish he or she might be. To these the individual has 
to reply. The end of it all is that he makes a rush at 
the ring, and if he succeeds in escaping, the person who 
allowed him to do so has to take his place ; the march 
and chorus then recommence, and so the game goes on 
hour after hour. Tupi was the language mostly used, 
but sometimes Portuguese was sung and spoken. The 
details of the dance were often varied. Instead of the 
names of fishes being called over by the person in the 
middle, the name of some animal, flower, or other object 


was given to every fresh occupier of the place. There 
was then good scope for wit in the invention of nick- 
names, and peals of laughter would often salute some 
particularly good hit. Thus a very lanky young man 
was called the Magoary, or the gray stork ; a moist 
gray-eyed man with a profile comically suggestive of a 
fish was christened Jaraki (a kind of fish), which was 
considered quite a witty sally ; a little Mameluco girl, 
with light-coloured eyes and brown hair, got the gallant 
name of Rosa branca, or the white rose ; a young fellow 
who had recently singed his eyebrows by the explosion 
of fireworks was dubbed Pedro queimado (burnt Peter) ; 
in short every one got a nickname, and each time the 
cognomen was introduced into the chorus as the circle 
marched round. 

It is said by the Portuguese and Brazilian towns- 
people lower down the river, that much disorder and all 
kinds of immorality prevail amongst these assemblages of 
Upper Amazons rustics on the turtle praias. I can only 
say that nothing of the kind was seen on the occasions 
when I attended. But it may be added that there 
were no traders from the " civilised " parts present to 
set a bad example. Town-bred Indians and half-castes 
will be disorderly and quarrelsome, like uneducated 
people everywhere, when they can get their fill of in- 
toxicating drinks. When low Portuguese traders, who 
are most certainly the inferiors of these rustics whom 
they despise, attend the praias, they corrupt the women, 
and bribe the Indians with cashaQa to steal their 
masters' oil ; these proceedings, of course, give rise to 
disturbances in many ways. There were none of these 


shining examples of the superior civilisation of Europe 
in attendance at Catua. The masters kept their In- 
dians well under control ; the young people enjoyed 
themselves upon the whole innocently, and sociability 
was pretty general amongst all classes and colours. 

Our rancho was a large one, and was erected in a line 
with the others, near the edge of the sandbank which 
sloped rather abruptly to the water. During the first 
week the people were all, more or less, troubled by 
alligators. Some half-dozen full-grown ones were in 
attendance off the praia, floating about on the lazily- 
flowing, muddy water. The dryness of the weather had 
increased since we had left Shimuni, the currents had 
slackened, and the heat in the middle part of the day 
was almost insupportable. But no one could descend 
to bathe without being advanced upon by one or other 
of these hungry monsters. There was much offal cast 
into the river, and this, of course, attracted them to the 
place. One clay I amused myself by taking a basketful 
of fragments of meat beyond the line of ranchos, and 
drawing the alligators towards me by feeding them. 
They behaved pretty much as dogs do when fed ; 
catching the bones I threw them in their huge jaws, 
and coming nearer and showing increased eagerness 
after every morsel. The enormous gape of their mouths, 
with their blood-red lining and long fringes of teeth, 
and the uncouth shapes of their bodies, made a picture 
of unsurpassable ugliness. I once or twice fired a heavy 
charge of shot at them, aiming at the vulnerable part of 
their bodies, which is a small space situated behind the 
eyes, but this had no other effect than to make them 


give a hoarse grunt and shake themselves ; they imme- 
diately afterwards turned to receive another bone which 
I threw to them. 

Every day these visitors became bolder ; at length 
they reached a pitch of impudence that was quite in- 
tolerable. Cardozo had a poodle dog named Carlito, 
which some grateful traveller whom he had befriended 
had sent him from Rio Janeiro. He took great pride 
in this dog, keeping it well sheared, and preserving his 
coat as white as soap and water could make it. We slept 
in our rancho in hammocks slung between the outer 
posts ; a large wood fire (fed with a kind of wood abundant 
on the banks of the river, which keeps alight all night) 
being made in the middle, by the side of which slept 
Carlito on a little mat. Well, one night I was awoke by a 
great uproar. It was caused by Cardozo hurling burning 
firewood with loud curses at a huge cayman which had 
crawled up the bank and passed beneath my hammock 
(being nearest the water) towards the place where Carlito 
lay. The dog had raised the alarm in time ; the reptile 
backed out and tumbled down the bank to the water, 
the sparks from the brands hurled at him flying from 
his bony hide. To our great surprise the animal (we 
supposed it to be the same individual) repeated his visit 
the very next night, this time passing round to the 
other side of our shed. Cardozo was awake, and threw 
a harpoon at him, but without doing him any harm. 
After this it was thought necessary to make an effort 
to check the alligators ; a number of men were there- 
fore persuaded to sally forth in their montarias and 
devote a day to killing them. 


The young men made several hunting excursions 
during the fourteen days of our stay on Catua, and I, 
being associated with them in all their pleasures, made 
generally one of the party. These were, besides, the 
sole occasions on which I could add to my collections, 
whilst on these barren sands. Only two of these trips 
afforded incidents worth relating. 

The first, which was made to the interior of the 
wooded island of Catua, was not a very successful one. 
We were twelve in number, all armed with guns and 
long hunting-knives. Long before sunrise, my friends 
woke me up from my hammock, where I lay, as usual, 
in the clothes worn during the day ; and after taking 
each a cup-full of cashaca and ginger (a very general 
practice in early morning on the sandbanks), we com- 
menced our walk. The waning moon still lingered in 
the clear sky, and a profound stillness pervaded sleep- 
ing camp, forest, and stream. Along the line of ranches 
glimmered the fires made by each party to dry turtle- 
eggs for food, the eggs being spread on little wooden 
stages over the smoke. The distance to the forest from 
our place of starting was about two miles, being nearly 
the whole length of the sandbank, which was also a 
very broad one ; the highest part, where it was covered 
with a thicket of dwarf willows, mimosas, and arrow 
grass, lying near the ranchos. We loitered much on 
the way, and the day dawned whilst we were yet on 
the road : the sand at this early hour feeling quite cold 
to the naked feet. As soon as we were able to distinguish 
things, the surface of the praia was seen to be dotted 
with small black objects. These were newly-hatched 

Chap. IV. A DAY'S HUNT. 281 

Aiyussa turtles, which were making their way in an 
undeviatmg line to the water, at least a mile distant. 
The young animal of this species is distinguishable from 
that of the large turtle and the Tracaja, by the edges 
of the breast-plate being raised on each side, so that in 
crawling it scores two parallel lines on the sand. The 
mouths of these little creatures were full of sand, a 
circumstance arising from their having to bite their way 
through many inches of superincumbent sand to reach 
the surface on emerging from the buried eggs. It was 
amusing to observe how constantly they turned again 
in the direction of the distant river, after being handled 
and set down on the sand with their heads facing the 
opposite quarter. We saw also several skeletons of the 
large cayman (some with the horny and bony hide of 
the animal nearly perfect) embedded in the sand : they 
reminded me of the remains of Ichthyosauri fossilized 
in beds of lias, with the difference of being buried in 
fine sand instead of in blue mud. I marked the place 
of one which had a well-preserved skull, and the next 
day returned to secure it. The specimen is now in the 
British Museum collection. There were also many foot- 
marks of Jaguars on the sand. 

We entered the forest, as the sun peeped over the 
tree-tops far away down river. The party soon after 
divided ; I keeping with a section which was led by 
Bento, the Ega carpenter, a capital woodsman. After a 
short walk we struck the banks of a beautiful little lake, 
having grassy margins and clear dark water, on the 
surface of which floated thick beds of water-lilies. We 
then crossed a muddy creek or watercourse that entered 


the lake, and then found ourselves on a restinga, or 
tongue of land between two waters. By keeping in sight 
of one or the other of these there was no danger of our 
losing our way : all other precautions were therefore 
unnecessary. The forest was tolerably clear of under- 
wood, and consequently easy to walk through. We had 
not gone far before a soft, long-drawn whistle was heard 
aloft in the trees, betraying the presence of Mutums 
(Curassow birds). The crowns of the trees, a hundred 
feet or more over our heads, were so closely interwoven, 
that it was difficult to distinguish the birds : the prac- 
tised eye of Bento, however, made them out, and a fine 
male was shot from the flock-; the rest flying away and 
alighting at no great distance : the species was the one 
of which the male has a round red ball on its beak 
(Crax globicera). The pursuit of the others led us a 
great distance, straight towards the interior of the 
island, in which direction we marched for three hours, 
having the lake always on our right. 

Arriving at length at the head of the lake, Bento 
struck off to the left across the restinga, and we 
then soon came upon a treeless space choked up with 
tall grass, which appeared to be the dried-up bed of 
another lake. Our leader was obliged to climb a tree 
to ascertain our position, and found that the clear 
space was part of the creek, whose mouth we had 
crossed lower down. The banks were clothed with 
low trees, nearly all of one species, a kind of araca 
(Psidium), and the ground was carpeted with a slender 
delicate grass, now in flower. A great number of 
crimson and vermilion-coloured butterflies (Catagramma 

Chap. IV. 



Peristera, male and female) were settled on the smooth, 
white trunks of these trees. I had also here the great 
pleasure of seeing for the first time, the rare and curious 



Umbrella Bird. 

Umbrella Bird (Cephalopterus ornatus), a species which 
resembles in size, colour, and appearance our common 
crow, but is decorated with a crest of long, curved, 
hairy feathers having long bare quills, which, when 
raised, spread themselves out in the form of a fringed 
sun-shade over the head. A strange ornament, like a 
pelerine, is also suspended from the neck, formed by 


a thick pad of glossy steel-blue feathers, which grow on 
a long fleshy lobe or excrescence. This lobe is connected 
(as I found on skinning specimens) with an unusual 
development of the trachea and vocal organs, to which 
the bird doubtless owes its singularly deep, loud, and 
long-sustained fluty note. The Indian name of this 
strange creature is Uira-mimbeu, or fife-bird,* in 
allusion to the tone of its voice. We had the good luck, 
after remaining quiet a short time, to hear its perform- 
ance. It drew itself up on its perch, spread widely the 
umbrella-formed crest, dilated and waved its glossy 
breast-lappet, and then, in giving vent to its loud piping 
note, bowed its head slowly forwards. We obtained a 
pair, male and female : the female has only the rudi- 
ments of the crest and lappet, and is duller-coloured 
altogether than the male. The range of this bird ap- 
pears to be quite confined to the plains of the Upper 
Amazons (especially the Ygapo forests), not having 
been found to the east of the Rio Negro. 

Bento and our other friends being disappointed in 
finding no more Curassows, or indeed any other species 
of game, now resolved to turn back. On reaching the 
edge of the forest we sat down and ate our dinners under 
the shade ; each man having brought a little bag con- 
taining a few handsfull of farinha, and a piece of fried 
fish or roast turtle. We expected our companions of the 
other division to join us at mid-day, but after waiting 
till past one o'clock without seeing anything of them 
(in fact, they had returned to the huts an hour or two 

* Mimbeu is the Indian name for a rude kind of pan-pipes used by 
the Caishanas and other tribes. 

Chap. IV. NICKNAMES. 285 

previously), we struck off across the praia towards 
the encampment. An obstacle here presented itself 
on which we had not counted. The sun had shone all 
day through a cloudless sky untempered by a breath of 
wind, and the sands had become heated by it to a degree 
that rendered walking over them with our bare feet im- 
possible. The most hardened footsoles of the party 
could not endure the burning soil. We made several 
attempts ; we tried running : wrapped the cool leaves 
of Heliconise round our feet, but in no way could we step 
forward many yards. There was no means of getting 
back to our friends before night, except going round the 
praia, a circuit of about four miles, and walking through 
the water or on the moist sand. To get to the water- 
side from the place where we then stood was not diffi- 
cult, as a thick bed of a flowering shrub, called tintarana, 
an infusion of the leaves of which is used to dye black, lay 
on that side of the sand-bank. Footsore and wearied, 
burthened with our guns, and walking for miles through 
the tepid shallow water under the brain-scorching vertical 
sun, we had, as may be imagined, anything but a pleasant 
time of it. I did not, however, feel any inconvenience 
afterwards. Every one enjoys the most lusty health 
whilst living this free and wild life on the rivers. 

The other hunting trip which I have alluded to was 
undertaken in company with three friendly young half- 
castes. Two of them were brothers, namely, Joao (John) 
and Zephyrino Jabuti : Jabuti, or tortoise, being a nick- 
name which their father had earned for his slow gait, 
and which, as is usual in this country, had descended 


as the surname of the family. The other was Jose 
Frazao, a nephew of Senhor Chrysostomo, of Ega, an 
active, clever, and manly young fellow whom I much 
esteemed. He was almost a white, his father being a 
Portuguese and his mother a Mameluco. We were 
accompanied by an Indian named Lino, and a Mulatto 
boy, whose office was to carry our game. 

Our proposed hunting-ground on this occasion lay 
across the water, about fifteen miles distant. We set out 
in a small montaria, at four o'clock in the morning, again 
leaving the encampment asleep, and travelled at a 
good pace up the northern channel of the Solimoens, 
or that lying between the island Catua and the left 
bank of the river. The northern shore of the island 
had a broad sandy beach reaching to its western extre- 
mity. We reached our destination a little after day- 
break ; this was the banks of the Carapanatuba,* a 
channel some 150 yards in width, which, like the Anana 
already mentioned, communicates with the Cupiyo. To 
reach this we had to cross the river, here nearly two 
miles wide. Just as day dawned we saw a Cayman 
seize a large fish, a Tambaki, near the surface ; the reptile 
seemed to have a difficulty in securing its prey, for it 
reared itself above the water, tossing the fish in its 
jaws and making a tremendous commotion. I was much 
struck also by the singular appearance presented by 
certain diving birds having very long and snaky necks 
(the Plotus Anhinga). Occasionally a long serpentine 
form would suddenly wriggle itself to a height of a 

* Meaning in Tupi, the river of many mosquitoes : from carajiana, 
mosquito, and ituba, many. 

Chap. IV. YGAP6 FOKEST. 287 

foot and a half above the glassy surface of the water, 
producing such a deceptive imitation of a snake that at 
first I had some difficulty in believing it to be the neck 
of a bird ; it did not remain long in view, but soon 
plunged again beneath the stream. 

We ran ashore in a most lonely and gloomy place, on 
a low sandbank covered with bushes, secured the mon- 
taria to a tree, and then, after making a very sparing 
breakfast on fried fish and mandioca meal, rolled up 
our trousers and plunged into the thick forest, which 
here, as everywhere else, rose like a lofty wall of foliage 
from the narrow strip of beach. We made straight for 
the heart of the land, John Jabuti leading, and breaking 
off at every few steps a branch of the lower trees, so 
that we might recognise the path on our return. The 
district was quite new to all my companions, and being 
on a coast almost totally uninhabited by human beings 
for some 300 miles, to lose our way would have been 
to perish helplessly. I did not think at the time of 
the risk we ran of having our canoe stolen by passing 
Indians ; unguarded montarias being never safe even 
in the ports of the villages, Indians apparently con- 
sidering them common property, and stealing them 
without any compunction. No misgivings clouded the 
lightness of heart with which we trod forwards in 
warm anticipation of a good day's sport. 

The tract of forest through which we passed was 
Ygapo, but the higher parts of the land formed areas 
which went only a very few inches under water in the 
flood season. It consisted of a most bewildering diversity 
of grand and beautiful trees, draped, festooned, corded, 


matted, and ribboned with climbing plants, woody and 
succulent, in endless variety. The most prevalent palm 
was the tall Astryocaryum Jauari, whose fallen spines 
made it necessary to pick our way carefully over the 
ground, as we were all barefoot. There was not much 
green underwood, except in places where Bamboos grew ; 
these formed impenetrable thickets of plumy foliage 
and thorny, jointed stems, which always compelled us 
to make a circuit to avoid them. The earth elsewhere 
was encumbered with rotting fruits, gigantic bean-pods, 
leaves, limbs, and trunks of trees, fixing the impression 
of its being the cemetery as well as the birthplace of 
the great world of vegetation overhead. Some of the 
trees were of prodigious height. We passed many speci- 
mens of the Moratinga, whose cylindrical trunks, I dare 
not say how many feet in circumference, towered up 
and were lost amidst the crowns of the lower trees, 
their lower branches, in some cases, being hidden from 
our view. Another very large and remarkable tree was 
the Assacu (Sapium aucuparium). A traveller on the 
Amazons, mingling with the people, is sure to hear 
much of the poisonous qualities of the juices of this 
tree. Its bark exudes, when hacked with a knife, a 
milky sap, which is not only a fatal poison when taken 
internally, but is said to cause incurable sores if simply 
sprinkled on the skin. My companions always gave the 
Assacu a wide berth when we passed one. The tree 
looks ugly enough to merit a bad name, for the bark is 
of a dingy olive colour, and is studded with short and 
sharp, venomous-looking spines. 

After walking about half a mile we came upon a dry 


water-course, where we observed, first, the old footmarks 
of a tapir, and, soon after, on the margins of a curious 
circular hole full of muddy water, the fresh tracks of a 
Jaguar. This latter discovery was hardly made, when a 
rush was heard amidst the bushes on the top of a sloping 
bank on the opposite side of the dried creek. We 
bounded forward ; it was, however, too late, for the 
animal had sped in a few moments far out of our reach. 
It was clear we had disturbed, on our approach, the 
Jaguar, whilst quenching his thirst at the water-hole. A 
few steps further on we saw the mangled remains of an 
alligator (the Jacaretinga). The head, fore-quarters, 
and bony shell were the only parts which remained ; 
but the meat was quite fresh, and there were many foot- 
marks of the Jaguar around the carcase ; so that there 
was no doubt this had formed the solid part of the 
animal's breakfast. My companions now began to search 
for the alligator's nest, the presence of the reptile so far 
from the river being accountable for on no other ground 
than its maternal solicitude for its eggs. We found, in 
fact, the nest at the distance of a few yards from the 
place. It was a conical pile of dead leaves, in the middle 
of which twenty eggs were buried. These were of ellipr 
tical shape, considerably larger than those of a duck, and 
having a hard shell of the texture of porcelain, but very 
rough on the outside. They make a loud sound when 
rubbed together, and it is said that it is easy to find a 
mother alligator in the Ygapo forests, by rubbing 
together two eggs in this way, she being never far off, 
and attracted by the sounds. 

I put half-a-dozen of the alligator's eggs in my game- 

VOL. II. n 


bag for specimens, and we then continued on our way. 
Lino, who was now first, presently made a start back- 
wards, calling out " Jararaca ! " This is the name of a 
poisonous snake (genus Craspedocephalus), which is far 
more dreaded by the natives than Jaguar or Alligator. 
The individual seen by Lino lay coiled up at the foot of 
a tree, and was scarcely distinguishable, on account of 
the colours of its body being assimilated to those of the 
fallen leaves. Its hideous, flat triangular head, connected 
with the body by a thin neck, was reared and turned 
towards us : Frazao killed it with a charge of shot, 
shattering it completely, and destroying, to my regret, 
its value as a specimen. In conversing on the subject 
of Jararacas as we walked onwards, every one of the 
party was ready to swear that this snake attacks man 
without provocation, leaping towards him from a con- 
siderable distance when he approaches. I met, in the 
course of my daily rambles in the woods, many Jararacas, 
and once or twice very narrowly escaped treading on 
them, but never saw them attempt to spring. On some 
subjects the testimony of the natives of a wild country 
is utterly worthless. The bite of the Jararacas is gene- 
rally fatal. I knew of four or five instances of death 
from it, and only of one clear case of recovery after 
being bitten ; but in that case the person was lamed for 

We walked over moderately elevated and dry ground 
for about a mile, and then descended (three or four feet 
only) to the dry bed of another creek. This was pierced 
in the same way as the former water-course, with round 
holes full of muddy water. They occurred at intervals 


of a few yards, and had the appearance of having been 
made by the hand of man. The smallest were about 
two feet, the largest seven or eight feet in diameter. 
As we approached the most considerable of the larger 
ones, I was startled at seeing a number of large serpent- 
like heads bobbing above the surface. They proved to 
be those of electric eels, and it now occurred to me that 
these round holes were made by these animals working 
constantly round and round in the moist muddy soil. 
Their depth (some of them were at least eight feet 
deep) was doubtless due also to the movements of the 
eels in the soft soil, and accounted for their not drying 
up, in the fine season, with the rest of the creek. Thus, 
whilst alligators and turtles in this great inundated 
forest region retire to the larger pools during the dry 
season, the electric eels make for themselves little ponds 
in which to pass the season of drought. 

My companions now cut each a stout pole, and pro- 
ceeded to eject the eels in order to get at the other fishes, 
with which they had discovered the ponds to abound. 
I amused them all very much by showing how the 
electric shock from the eels could pass from one person 
to another. We joined hands in a line whilst I touched 
the biggest and freshest of the animals on the head with 
the point of my hunting-knife. We found that this 
experiment did not succeed more than three times with 
the same eel when out of the water : for, the fourth time, 
the shock was scarcely perceptible. All the fishes found 
in the holes (besides the eels) belonged to one species, a 
small kind of Acari, or Loricaria, a group whose members 
have a complete bony integument. Lino and the boy 


strung them together through the gills with slender 
sipos, and hung them on the trees to await our return 
later in the day. 

Leaving the bed of the creek, we marched onwards, 
always towards the centre of the land ; guided by the 
sun, which now glimmered through the thick foliage 
overhead. About eleven o'clock we saw a break in the 
forest before us, and presently emerged on the banks 
of a considerable sheet of water. This was one of the 
interior pools of which there are so many in this district. 
The margins were elevated some few feet, and sloped 
down to the water, the ground being hard and dry to 
the water's edge, and covered with shrubby vegetation. 
We passed completely round this pool, finding the 
crowns of the trees on its borders tenanted by curassow 
birds, whose presence was betrayed as usual by the pe- 
culiar note which they emit. My companions shot two 
of them. At the farther end of the lake lay a deep 
watercourse, which we traced for about half a mile, and 
found to communicate with another and smaller pool. 
This second one evidently swarmed with turtles, as we 
saw the snouts of many peering above the surface of the 
water : the same had not been seen in the larger lake, 
probably because we had made too much noise in hail- 
ing our discovery, on approaching its banks. My friends 
made an arrangement on the sj)ot for returning to this 
pool, after the termination of the egg harvest on Catua. 

In recrossing the space between the two pools, we 
heard the crash of monkeys in the crowns of trees over- 
head. The chace of these occupied us a considerable 
time. Jose fired at length at one of the laggards of the 


troop, and wounded him. He climbed pretty nimbly 
towards a denser part of the tree, and a second and third 
discharge failed to bring him down. The poor maimed 
creature then trailed his limbs to one of the topmost 
branches, where we descried him soon after, seated and 
picking the entrails from a wound in his abdomen ; 
a most heart-rending sight. The height from the 
ground to the bough on which he was perched could 
not have been less than 150 feet, and we could get a 
glimpse of him only by standing directly underneath, and 
straining our eyes upwards. We killed him at last by 
loading our best gun with a careful charge, and resting 
the barrel against the tree-trunk to steady the aim. A 
few shots entered his chin, and he then fell heels over 
head screaming to the ground. Although it was I who 
gave the final shot, this animal did not fall to my lot in 
dividing the spoils at the end of the day. I regret now 
not having preserved the skin, as it belonged to a 
very large species of Cebus, and one which I never met 
with afterwards. 

It was about one o'clock in the afternoon when we 
again reached the spot where we had first struck the 
banks of the larger pool. We had hitherto had but 
poor sport, so after dining on the remains of our fried 
fish and farinha, and smoking our cigarettes, the ap- 
paratus for making which, including bamboo tinder-box 
and steel and flint for striking a light, being carried by 
every one always on these expeditions, we made off in 
another (westerly) direction through the forest to try to 
find better hunting-ground. We quenched our thirst 
with water from the pool, which I was rather surprised 


to find quite pure. These pools are, of course, sometimes 
fouled for a time by the movements of alligators and 
other tenants in the fine mud which settles at the 
bottom, but I never observed a scum of confervas or 
traces of oil revealing animal decomposition on the 
surface of these waters, nor was there ever any foul 
smell perceptible. The whole of this level land, instead 
of being covered with unwholesome swamps emitting 
malaria, forms in the dry season (and in the wet also) 
a most healthy country. How elaborate must be the 
natural processes of self-purification in these teeming 
waters ■ 

On our fresh route we were obliged to cut our way 
through a long belt of bamboo underwood, and not being 
so careful of my steps as my companions, I trod re- 
peatedly on the flinty thorns which had fallen from the 
bushes, finishing by becoming completely lame, one 
thorn having entered deeply into the sole of my foot. 
I was obliged to be left behind ; Lino, the Indian, re- 
maining with me. The careful fellow cleaned my wounds 
with his saliva, placed pieces of isca (the felt-like sub- 
stance manufactured by ants) on them to staunch the 
blood, and bound my feet with tough bast to serve as 
shoes, which he cut from the bark of a Monguba tree. 
He went about his work in a very gentle way and 
with much skill, but was so sparing of speech that I 
could scarcely get answers to the questions I put to 
him. When he had done, I was able to limp about 
pretty nimbly. An Indian when he performs a service 
of this kind never thinks of a reward. I did not find so 
much disinterestedness in negro slaves or half-castes. 


We had to wait two hours for the return of our compa- 
nions ; during part of this time I was left quite alone, 
Lino having started off into the jungle after a peccary 
(a kind of wild hog) which had come near to where we 
sat, but on seeing us had given a grunt and bounded off 
into the thickets. At length our friends hove in sight, 
loaded with game ; having shot twelve curassows and 
two cujubims (Penelope Pipile), a handsome black 
fowl with a white head, which is arboreal in its habits 
like the rest of this group of Gallinaceous birds in- 
habiting the South American forests. They had dis- 
covered a third pool containing plenty of turtles. Lino 
rejoined us at the same time, having missed the pec- 
cary, but in compensation shot a Quandu, or porcupine. 
The mulatto boy had caught alive in the pool a most 
charming little water-fowl, a species of grebe. It was 
somewhat smaller than a pigeon, and had a pointed 
beak ; its feet were furnished with many intricate folds 
or frills of skin instead of webs, and resembled very 
much those of the gecko lizards. The bird was kept 
as a pet in Jabuti's house at Ega for a long time after- 
wards, where it became accustomed to swim about in 
a common hand-basin full of water, and was a great 
favourite with everybody. 

We now retraced our steps towards the water-side, a 
weary walk of five or six miles, reaching our canoe by 
half-past five o'clock, or a little before sunset. It was 
considered by every one at Catua that we had had an 
unusually good day's sport. I never knew any small 
party to take so much game in one day in these 
forests, over which animals are everywhere so widely 


and sparingly scattered. My companions were greatly 
elated, and on approaching the encampment at Catua 
made a great commotion with their paddles to announce 
their successful return, singing in their loudest key one 
of the wild choruses of the Amazonian boatmen. 

The excavation of eggs and preparation of the oil 
being finished, we left Catua on the 3rd of November. 
Carepira, who was now attached to Cardozo's party, had 
discovered another lake rich in turtles, about twelve 
miles distant, in one of his fishing rambles, and my 
friend resolved, before returning to Ega, to go there 
with his nets and drag it as we had formerly done the 
Aningal. Several mameluco families of Ega begged to 
accompany us to share the labours and booty ; the 
Shumana family also joined the party ; we therefore 
formed a large body, numbering in all eight canoes and 
fifty persons. 

The summer season was now breaking up ; the river 
was rising; the sky was almost constantly clouded, and we 
had frequent rains. The mosquitoes also, which we had 
not felt whilst encamped on the sand-banks, now became 
troublesome. We paddled up the north-westerly chan- 
nel, and arrived at a point near the upper end of Catua 
at ten o'clock p.m. There was here a very broad beach 
of untrodden white sand, which extended quite into the 
forest, where it formed rounded hills and hollows like 
sand dunes, covered with a peculiar vegetation : harsh, 
reedy grasses, and low trees matted together with lianas, 
and varied with dwarf spiny palms of the genus Bactris. 
We encamped for the night on the sands, finding the 


place luckily free from mosquitoes. The different por- 
tions of the party made arched coverings with the 
toldos or maranta-leaf awnings of their canoes to sleep 
under, fixing the edges in the sand. No one, however, 
seemed inclined to go to sleep, so after supper we all 
sat or lay around the large fires and amused our- 
selves. We had the fiddler with us, and in the in- 
tervals between the wretched tunes which he played, 
the usual amusement of story-telling beguiled the time : 
tales of hair-breadth escapes from jaguar, alligator, and 
so forth. There were amongst us a father and son who 
had been the actors, the previous year, in an alligator 
adventure on the edge of the praia we had just left. 
The son, whilst bathing, was seized by the thigh and 
carried under water : a cry was raised, and the father, 
rushing down the bank, plunged after the rapacious 
beast which was diving away with his victim. It 
seems almost incredible that a man could overtake 
and master the large cayman in his own element ; but 
such was the case in this instance, for the animal was 
reached and forced to release his booty by the man's 
thrusting his thumb into his eye. The lad showed us 
the marks of the alligator's teeth in his thighs. We 
sat up until past midnight listening to these stories 
and assisting the flow of talk by frequent potations of 
burnt rum. A large shallow dish was filled with the 
liquor and fired : when it had burnt for a few minutes 
the flame was extinguished and each one helped him- 
self by dipping a tea-cup into the vessel. 

One by one the people dropped asleep, and then the 
quiet murmur of talk of the few who remained awake was 


interrupted by the roar of jaguars in the jungle about 
a furlong distant. There was not one only, but several 
of the animals. The older men showed considerable 
alarm, and proceeded to light fresh fires around the out- 
side of our encampment. I had read in books of travel 
of tigers coming to warm themselves by the fires of a 
bivouac, and thought my strong wish to witness the 
same sight would have been gratified to-night. I had 
not, however, such good fortune, although I was the last 
to go to sleep, and my bed was the bare sand under a 
little arched covering open at both ends. The jaguars, 
nevertheless, must have come very near during the night, 
for their fresh footmarks were numerous within a score 
yards of the place where we slept. In the morning I 
had a ramble along the borders of the jungle, and found 
the tracks very numerous and close together on the 
sandy soil. 

We remained in this neighbourhood four days, and 
succeeded in obtaining many hundred turtles, but we 
were obliged to sleep two nights within the Carapana- 
tiiba channel. The first night passed rather pleasantly, 
for the weather was fine and we encamped in the forest, 
making large fires and slinging our hammocks between 
the trees. The second was one of the most miserable 
nights I ever spent. The air was close, and a drizzling 
rain began to fall about midnight, lasting until morning. 
We tried at first to brave it out under the trees. 
Several very large fires were made, lighting up with 
ruddy gleams the magnificent foliage in the black 
shades around our encampment. The heat and smoke 
had the desired effect of keeping off pretty well the 

Chap. IV. LAKE OF JUTECA. 299 

mosquitoes, but the rain continued until at length every- 
thing was soaked, and we had no help for it but to 
bundle off to the canoes with drenched hammocks and 
garments. There was not nearly room enough in the 
flotilla to accommodate so large a number of persons 
lying at full length ; moreover the night was pitch dark, 
and it was quite impossible in the gloom and confusion to 
get at a change of clothing. So there we lay, huddled 
together in the best way we could arrange ourselves, ex- 
hausted with fatigue and irritated beyond all conception 
by clouds of mosquitoes. . I slept on a bench with a sail 
over me, my wet clothes clinging to my body, and to 
increase, my discomfort, close beside me lay an Indian 
girl, one of Cardozo's domestics, who had a skin dis- 
figured with black diseased patches, and whose thick 
clothing, not having been washed during the whole time 
we had been out (eighteen days), gave forth a most vile 

We spent the night of the 7th of November plea- 
santly on the smooth sands, where the jaguars again sere- 
naded us, and on the succeeding morning commenced our 
return voyage to Ega. We first doubled the upper end 
of the island of Catua, and then struck off for the right 
bank of the Solimoens. The river was here of immense 
width, and the current was so strong in the middle that 
it required the most strenuous exertions on the part of 
our paddlers to prevent us from being carried miles 
away down the stream. At night we reached Juteca, 
a small river which enters the Solimoens by a channel 
so narrow that a man might almost jump across it, but 
a furlong inwards expands into a very pretty lake 


several miles in circumference. We slept again in the 
forest, and again were annoyed by rain and mosquitoes : 
but this time Cardozo and I preferred remaining where 
we were to mingling with the reeking crowd in the 
boats. When the grey dawn arose a steady rain was still 
falling, and the whole sky had a settled leaden appear- 
ance, but it was delightfully cool. We took our net into 
the lake and gleaned a good supply of delicious fish 
for breakfast. I saw at the upper end of this lake the 
native rice of this country growing wild. 

The weather cleared up at 10 o'clock a.m. At 3 p.m. we 
arrived at the mouth of the Cayambe, another tributary 
stream much larger than the Juteca. The channel of 
exit to the Solimoens was here also very narrow, but 
the expanded river inside is of vast dimensions : it 
forms a lake (I may safely venture to say) several score 
miles in circumference. Although prepared for these 
surprises, I was quite taken aback in this case. We 
had been paddling all day along a monotonous shore, 
with the dreary Solimoens before us, here three to four 
miles broad, heavily rolling onward its muddy waters. 
We come to a little gap in the earthy banks, and find 
a dark, narrow inlet with a wall of forest over-sha- 
dowing it on each side : we enter it, and at a distance 
of two or three hundred yards a glorious sheet of water 
bursts upon the view. The scenery of Cayambe is 
very picturesque. The land, on the two sides visible of 
the lake, is high and clothed with sombre woods, varied 
here and there with a white-washed house, in the 
middle of a green patch of clearing, belonging to set- 
tlers. In striking contrast to these dark, rolling forests 


is the vivid, light-green and cheerful foliage of the woods 
on the numerous islets which rest like water-gardens on 
the surface of the lake. Flocks of ducks, storks, and 
snow-white herons inhabit these islets, and a noise of 
parrots with the tingling chorus of Tamburi -paras was 
heard from them as we passed. This has a cheering 
effect after the depressing stillness and absence of life 
in the woods on the margins of the main river. 

Cardozo and I with two Indians took a small canoe 
and crossed the lake on a visit to Senhor Gaspar Jose 
Rodriguez, a well-to-do farmer, and the principal 
resident of Cayambe. His eldest daughter, a home- 
loving, industrious girl, had married the Portuguese 
Miguel, my old travelling companion, a few days before 
we left Eo-a on these rambles. We had attended and 
danced at the wedding, and this present visit was in 
fulfilment of a promise to call on the family whenever 
we should be near Cayambe. Senhor Gaspar was one 
of those numerous half-caste proprietors, a few of whom 
I have had occasion to mention, who by their indus- 
trious, regular habits, good sense, and fair dealing, do 
credit to the class to which they belong. We have 
heard so much in England of the worthlessness of the 
half-caste population of Tropical America that it is a 
real pleasure to be able to bear witness that they are 
not wholly bad. It is, however, in retired country dis- 
tricts where I have chiefly mixed with them. Some 
of them, such as the friend of whom I am speaking, 
are, considering their defective education, as worthy 
men as can be found in any country. There is however, 
it must be confessed, a considerable number of super- 


latively lazy, tricky, and sensual characters amongst the 
half-castes, both in rural ]3laces and in the towns. I 
found the establishment of Senhor Gaspar similar to 
that of Joao Trinidade which I have before described, 
opposite to the mouth of the Madeira. It was situated 
on a high bank : the dwelling-house was large and airy, 
but roughly built, and with unplastered mud-walls. 
There was a considerable number of outhouses, and in 
the rear, extensive orchards of fruit and coffee trees, 
with paths through them leading to the mandioca 
plantations. Senhor Miguel, with his wife, were absent 
at a new clearing which they had made for themselves 
in another part of the banks of the lake. The rest of 
the family were at home. 

We were received with frank hospitality by these 
shrewd and lively people. Senhor Gaspar had seven 
children, and had himself taught them all to read and 
write. The boys were very quick ; one of them after- 
wards became clerk to the Municipal Chamber of Ega. 
There was an air of cheerfulness and abundance about 
the place that was quite exhilarating. 

We dined, seated on a large mat, over which a clean 
white towel was spread : the meal consisting of fowls 
and rice (the general entertainment in this country for 
visitors), with dessert of " laranjas torradas," or toasted 
oranges ; that is, oranges partially dried in the sun. 
The fruit, grown with a little greater care in Gasj^ar's 
orchard than is usually bestowed on it in this country, 
was very fine in itself, but treated in this form its 
sweetness and richness of flavour were far superior to 
anything I had yet tasted. When we were about leaving, 

Chap. IV. LAKE OF CAYAMBfi. 303 

our host, having listened to my praises of the fruit, sent 
down' to our canoe a large basketful as a present. The 
conversation after dinner turned on the difficulty of get- 
ting good houses built at Ega ; on the backward condi- 
tion of the province ; the disregard of the interests of 
the agricultural class shown by the Government in taxing 
all the produce of the interior on its reaching Para, and 
so forth. Senhor Gaspar had just finished the erection 
of a substantial town-house at Ega. He told me that 
it was cheaper to send down to Para (2800 miles there 
and back) for doors and shutters, than to make them 
at Ega ; for, as there were no large saws anywhere on 
the Solimoens, every plank had to be hewn out of the 
tree with a hatchet. 

On our return to the mouth of the Cayambe, whilst 
in the middle of the lake, a squall suddenly arose, in the 
direction towards which we were going, and for a whole 
hour we were in great danger of being swamped. The 
wind blew away the awning and mats, and lashed the 
waters into foam : the waves rising to a great height. 
Our boat, fortunately, was excellently constructed, rising, 
well towards the prow, so that with good steering we 
managed to head the billows as they arose and escaped 
without shipping much water. We reached our igarite 
at sunset, and then made all speed to Curubarti, fifteen 
miles distant, to encamp for the night on the sands. 
We reached the praia at 10 o'clock. The waters were 
now mounting fast upon the sloping beach, and we found 
on dragging the net next morning that fish was begin- 
ning to be scarce. Cardozo and his friends talked quite 
gloomily at breakfast time over the departure of the 


joyous verao, and the setting in of the dull, hungry 
winter season. 

At 9 o'clock in the morning of the 10th of Novem- 
ber a light wind from down river sprang up, and all 
who had sails hoisted them. It was the first time 
during our trip that we had had occasion to use our 
sails : so continual is the calm on this upper river. We 
bowled along merrily, and soon entered the broad chan- 
nel lying between Baria and the mainland on the south 
bank. The wind carried us right into the mouth of the 
Teffe, and at 4 o'clock p.m. we cast anchor in the port 
of Ega. 



Scarlet-faced Monkeys — Parauacu Monkey — Owl-faced Night-apes — 
Marmosets — Jupura — Comparison of Monkeys of the New "World 
with those of the Old — Bats— Birds — Cnvier's Toucan — Curl- 
crested Toucan — Insects — Pendulous Cocoons — Foraging Ants — 
Blind Ants. 

As may have been gathered from the remarks already 
made, the neighbourhood of Ega was a fine field for a 
Natural History collector. With the exception of what 
could be learnt from the few specimens brought home, 
after transient visits, by Spix and Martius and the 
Count de Castelnau, whose acquisitions have been depo- 
sited in the public museums of Munich and Paris, very 
little was known in Europe of the animal tenants of 
this region ; the collections that I had the opportunity 
of making and sending home attracted, therefore, con- 
siderable attention. Indeed, the name of my favourite 
village has become quite a household word amongst a 
numerous class of Naturalists, not only in England but 
abroad, in consequence of the very large number of new 
species (upwards of 3000) which they have had to describe, 
with the locality " Ega" attached to them. The disco- 
very of new species, however, forms but a small item in 


306 ANIMALS OF EGA. Chap. V. 

the interest belonging to the study of the living crea- 
tion. The structure, habits, instincts, and geographical 
distribution of some of the oldest-known forms supply 
inexhaustible materials for reflection. The few remarks 
I have to make on the animals of Ega will relate to the 
mammals, birds, and insects, and will sometimes apply to 
the productions of the whole Upper Amazons region. 
We will begin with the monkeys, the most interesting, 
next to man, of all animals. 

Scarlet-faced Monkeys. — Early one sunny morning, 
in the year 1855, I saw in the streets of Ega, a 
number of Indians carrying on their shoulders down to 
the port, to be embarked on the Upper Amazons steamer, 
a large cage made of strong lianas, some twelve feet in 
length and five in height, containing a dozen monkeys 
of the most grotesque appearance. Their bodies (about 
eighteen inches in height, exclusive of limbs) were 
clothed from neck to tail with very long, straight, and 
shining whitish hair ; their heads were nearly bald, 
owing to the very short crop of thin gray hairs, and 
their faces glowed with the most vivid scarlet hue. As 
a finish to their striking physiognomy, they had bushy 
wjiiskers of a sandy colour, meeting under the chin, 
and reddish-yellow eyes. They sat gravely and silently 
in a group, and altogether presented a strange spec- 
tacle. These red-faced apes belonged to a species called 
by the Indians Uakari, which is peculiar to the Ega 
district, and the cage with its contents was being sent 
as a present by Senhor Chrysostomo, the Director of 
Indians of the Japura, to one of the Government offi- 
cials at Rio Janeiro, in acknowledgment of having 


Vol. II., page 306. 


been made colonel of the new national guard. They 
had been obtained with great difficulty in the forests 
which cover the low lands, near the principal mouth of 
the Japura, about thirty miles from Ega. It was the first 
time I had seen this most curious of all the South Ame- 
rican monkeys, and one that appears to have escaped 
the notice of Spix and Martius. I afterwards made a 
journey to the district inhabited by it, but did not then 
succeed in obtaining specimens ; before leaving the 
country, however, I acquired two individuals, one of 
which lived in my house for several weeks. 

The scarlet-faced monkey belongs, in all essential 
points of structure, to the same family (Cebidse) as 
the rest of the large-sized American species ; but it 
differs from all its relatives in having only the rudi- 
ment of a tail, a member which reaches in some allied 
kinds the highest grade of development known in the 
order. It was so unusual to see a nearly tailless monkey 
from America, that naturalists thought, when the first 
specimens arrived in Europe, that the member had been 
shortened artificially. Nevertheless, the Uakari is not 
quite isolated from its related species of the same family, 
several other kinds, also found on the Amazons, forming 
a graduated passage between the extreme forms as 
regards the tail. The appendage reaches its perfection 
in those genera (the Howlers, the Lagothrix and the 
Spider monkeys) in which it presents on its under-surface 
near the tip a naked palm, which makes it sensitive and 
useful as a fifth hand in climbing. In the rest of the 
genera of Cebidae (seven in number, containing thirty- 
eight species), the tail is weaker in structure, entirely 


308 ANIMALS OF EGA. Chap. V. 

covered with hair, and of little or no service in climbing, 
a few species nearly related to our Uakari having it much 
shorter than usual. All the Cebiclse, both long-tailed 
and short-tailed, are equally dwellers in trees. The 
scarlet-faced monkey lives in forests, which are inun- 
dated during great part of the year, and is never known 
to descend to the ground ; the shortness of its tail is 
therefore no sign of terrestrial habits, as it is in the 
Macaques and Baboons of the Old World. It differs a 
little from the typical Cebidse in its teeth, the incisors 
being oblique and, in the upper jaw, converging, so as 
to leave a gap between the outermost and the canine 
teeth. Like all the rest of its family, it differs from 
the monkeys of the old world, and from man, in having 
an additional grinding-tooth (premolar) in each side of 
both jaws, making the complete set thirty-six instead of 
thirty-two in number. 

The white Uakari (Brachyurus calvus), seems to be 
found in no other part of America than the district just 
mentioned, namely, the banks of the Japura, near its 
principal mouth ; and even there it is confined, as far as 
I could learn, to the western side of the river. It lives 
in small troops amongst the crowns of the lofty trees, 
living on fruits of various kinds. Hunters say it is 
pretty nimble in its motions, but is not much given 
to leaping, preferring to run up and down the larger 
bouo-hs in travelling from tree to tree. The mother, as 
in other species of the monkey order, carries her young 
on her back. Individuals are obtained alive by shooting 
them with the blow-pipe and arrows tipped with diluted 
Urari poison. They run a considerable distance after being 

Chap. V. TAME TJAKARI. 309 

pierced, and it requires an experienced hunter to track 
them. He is considered the most expert who can keep 
pace with a wounded one, and catch it in his arms when 
it falls exhausted. A pinch of salt, the antidote to the 
poison, is then put in its mouth, and the creature revives. 
The species is rare, even in the limited district which 
it inhabits. Senhor Chrysostomo sent six of his most 
skilful Indians, who were absent three weeks before they 
obtained the twelve specimens which formed his unique 
and princely gift. When an independent hunter obtains 
one, a very high price (thirty to forty milreis*) is asked, 
these monkeys being in great demand for presents to 
persons of influence down the river. 

Adult Uakaris, caught in the way just described, very 
rarely become tame. They are peevish and sulky, 
resisting all attempts to coax them, and biting anyone 
who ventures within reach. They have no particular 
cry, even when in their native woods ; in captivity they 
are quite silent. In the course of a few days or weeks, 
if not very carefully attended to, they fall into a listless 
condition, refuse food and die. Many of them succumb 
to a disease which I supposed from the symptoms to be 
inflammation of the chest or lungs. The one which I 
kept as a pet died of this disorder after I had had it 
about three weeks. It lost its appetite in a very few 
days, although kept in an airy verandah ; its coat, 
which was originally long, smooth, and glossy, became 
dingy and ragged like that of the specimens seen in 
museums, and the bright scarlet colour of its face changed 
to a duller hue. This colour, in health, is spread over 

* Three pounds seven shillings to four pounds thirteen shillings. 

310 • ANIMALS OF EGA. Chap. V. 

the features up to the roots of the hair on the forehead 
and temples, and down to the neck, including the 
flabby cheeks which hang down below the jaws. The 
animal, in this condition, looks at a short distance as 
though some one had laid a thick coat of red paint on 
its countenance. The death of my pet was slow ; during 
the last twenty-four hours it lay prostrate, breathing 
quickly, its chest strongly heaving ; the colour of its face 
became gradually paler, but was still red when it expired. 
As the hue did not quite disappear until two or three 
hours after the animal was quite dead, I judged that it 
was not exclusively due to the blood, but partly to a 
pigment beneath the skin which would probably retain 
its colour a short time after the circulation had ceased. 

After seeing much of the morose disposition of the 
Uakari, I was not a little surprised one day at a friend's 
house to find an extremely lively and familiar individual 
of this species. It ran from an inner chamber straight 
towards me after I had sat down on a chair, climbed 
my legs and nestled in my lap, turning round and 
looking up with the usual monkey's grin, after it had 
made itself comfortable. It was a young animal which 
had been taken when its mother was shot with a 
poisoned arrow ; its teeth were incomplete, and the face 
was pale and mottled, the glowing scarlet hue not 
supervening in these animals before mature age ; it had 
also a few long black hairs on the eyebrows and lips. 
The frisky little fellow had been reared in the house 
amongst the children, and allowed to run about freely, 
and take its meals with the rest of the household. 
There are few animals which the Brazilians of these 

Chap. V. TAME UAKARL 311 

villages have not succeeded in taming. I have even 
seen young jaguars running loose about a house, and 
treated as pets. The animals that I had, rarely became 
familiar, however long they might remain in my pos- 
session, a circumstance due no doubt to their being 
kept always tied up. 

The Uakaii is one of the many species of animals 
which are classified by the Brazilians as " mortal," or of 
delicate constitution, in contradistinction to those which 
are "duro," or hardy. A large proportion of the speci- 
mens sent from Ega die before arriving at Para, and 
scarcely one in a dozen succeeds in reaching Rio Janeiro 
alive. It appears, nevertheless, that an individual has 
once been brought in a living state to England, for Dr. 
Gray relates that one was exhibited in the gardens of 
the Zoological Society in 1849. The difficulty it has of 
accommodating itself to changed conditions probably has 
some connection with the very limited range or confined 
sphere of life of the species in its natural state, its 
native home being an area of swampy woods, not more 
than about sixty square miles in extent, although no 
permanent barrier exists to check its dispersal, except 
towards the south, over a much wider space. When I 
descended the river in 1859, we had with us a tame 
adult Uakari, which was allowed to ramble about the 
vessel, a large schooner. When we reached the mouth 
of the Rio Negro, we had to wait four days whilst 
the custom-house officials at Barra, ten miles distant, 
made out the passports for our crew, and during this time 
the schooner lay close to the shore, with its bowsprit 
secured to the trees on the bank. Well, one morning, 

312 ANIMALS OF EGA. Chap. V. 

scarlet-face was missing, having made his escape into 
the forest. Two men were sent in search of him, but 
returned after several hours' absence without having 
caught sight of the runaway. We gave up the monkey 
for lost, until the following day, when he re-appeared on 
the skirts of the forest, and marched quietly down the 
bowsprit to his usual place on deck. He had evidently 
found the forests of the Rio Negro very different from 
those of the delta lands of the Japura, and preferred 
captivity to freedom in a place that was so uncongenial 
to him. 

A most curious fact connected with this monkey is 
the existence of an allied form, or brother species, in a 
tract of country lying to the west of its district. This 
differs in being clothed with reel instead of white hair, 
and has been described by Isidore GeofTroy St. Hilaire 
(from specimens brought to Paris in 1847 by the Comte 
de Castlenau) as a distinct species, under the name of 
Brachyurus rubicundus. It wholly replaces the white 
form in the western parts of the Japura delta : that is 
to say, in a uniform district of country, 150 miles in 
length, and sixty to eighty in breadth, the eastern half 
is tenanted exclusively by white Uakaris, and the 
western half by red ones. The district, it may be men- 
tioned, is crossed by several channels, which at the 
present time doubtless serve as barriers to the dispersal 
of monkeys, but cannot have done so for many centuries, 
as the position of low alluvial lands, and the direc- 
tion of channels in the Amazons Valley, change con- 
siderably in the course of a few years. The red-haired 
Uakari appears to be most frequently found in the 


forests lying opposite to the mouth of the river which 
leads to Fonteboa, and ranges thence to the banks of 
the TTati-parana, the most westerly channel of the 
Japura, situated near Tunantins. Beyond that point to 
the west there is no trace of either the red or the white 
form, nor of any other allied species. Neither do they 
pass to the eastward of the main mouth of the Japura, 
or to the south shore of the Solimoens. How far they 
range northwards along the banks of the Japura, I 
could not precisely ascertain ; Senhor Chrysostomo, 
however, assured me that at 180 miles from the mouth 
of this river, neither white nor red Uakari is found, but 
that a third, black-faced and gray-haired species, takes 
their place. I saw two adult individuals of Brachyurus 
rubicundus at Ega, and a young one at Fonteboa ; but 
was unable to obtain specimens myself, as the forests 
were inundated at the time I visited their locality. I 
was surprised to find the hair of the young animal 
much paler in colour than that of the adults, it being of 
a sandy and not of a brownish-red hue, and consequently 
did not differ very much from that of the white species ; 
the two forms, therefore, are less distinct from each 
other in their young than in their adult states. The 
fact of the range of these singular monkeys being 
so curiously limited as here described, cannot be said to 
be established until the country lying between the 
northern shore of the Solimoens and New Granada be 
well explored, but there can be no doubt of the separa- 
tion of the two forms in the Delta lands of the Japura, 
and this is a most instructive fact in the geographical 
distribution of animals. 

314 ANIMALS OF EGA. Chap. Y. 

The Parauacu Monkey. — Another Ega monkey, 
nearly related to the Uakaris, is the Parauacu (Pithecia 
hirsuta), a timid inoffensive creature, with a long bear- 
like coat of harsh speckled-gray hair. The long fur 
hangs over the head, half concealing the pleasing, 
diminutive face, and clothes also the tail to the tip, 
which member is well developed, being eighteen inches 
in length, or longer than the body. The Parauacu is 
found on the " terra firma" lands of the north shore of 
the Solimoens from Tunantins to Peru. It exists also 
on the south side of the river, namely on the banks of the 
Teffe, but there under a changed form, which differs from 
its type in colours about as much as the red differs from 
the white Uakari. This form has been described by Dr. 
Gray as a distinct species, under the name of Pithecia 
albicans. The Parauacu is also a very delicate animal, 
rarely living many weeks in captivity ; but an}^one who 
succeeds in keeping it alive for a month or two, gains 
by it a most affectionate pet. One of the specimens of 
Pithecia albicans now in the British Museum was, when 
living, the property of a young Frenchman, a neighbour 
of mine at Ega. It became so tame in the course of a 
few weeks that it followed him about the streets like a 
dog. My friend was a tailor, and the little pet used to 
spend the greater part of the day seated on his shoulder, 
whilst he was at work on his board. It showed, neverthe- 
less, great dislike to strangers, and was not on good 
terms with any other member of my friend's household 
than himself. I saw no monkey that showed so strong 
a personal attachment as this gentle, timid, silent little 
creature. The eager and passionate Cebi seem to take 

Chap. V. NIGHT-APES. 315 

the lead of all the South American monkeys in intel- 
ligence and docility, and the Coaita has perhaps the 
most gentle and impressible disposition ; but the Pa- 
rauacu, although a dull, cheerless animal, excels all in 
this quality of capability of attachment to individuals 
of our own species. It is not wanting, however, in in- 
telligence as well as moral goodness, proof of which was 
furnished one day by an act of our little pet. My 
neighbour had quitted his house in the morning without 
taking Parauacu with him, and the little creature 
having missed its friend, and concluded, as it seemed, 
that he would be sure to come to me, both being in the 
habit of paying me a daily visit together, came straight 
to my dwelling, taking a short cut over gardens, trees, 
and thickets, instead of going the roundabout way of 
the street. It had never done this before, and we 
knew the route it had taken only from a neighbour 
having watched its movements. On arriving at my 
house and not finding its master, it climbed to the top 
of my table, and sat with an air of quiet resignation 
waiting for him. Shortly afterwards my friend entered, 
and the gladdened pet then jumped to its usual perch 
on his shoulder. 

Old-faced Night Apes. — A third interesting genus of 
monkeys, found near Ega, are the Nyctipitheci, or night 
apes, called Ei-a by the Indians. Of these I found two 
species, closely related to each other but nevertheless 
quite distinct, as both inhabit the same forests, namely, 
those of the higher and drier lands, without mingling 
with each other or intercrossing. They sleep all day 
long in hollow trees, and come forth to prey on insects 

316 ANIMALS OF EGA. Chap. V. 

and eat fruits only in the night. They are of small 
size, the body being about a foot long, and the tail four- 
teen inches, and are thickly clothed with soft grey and 
brown fur, similar in substance to that of the rabbit. 
Their ph}'siognomy reminds one of an owl, or tiger-cat : 
the face is round and encircled by a ruff of whitish fur ; 
the muzzle is not at all prominent; the mouth and chin 
are small ; the ears are very short, scarcely appearing 
above the hair of the head ; and the eyes are large and 
yellowish in colour, imparting the staring expression of 
nocturnal animals of prey. The forehead is whitish, and 
decorated with three black stripes, which in one of the 
species (Nyctipithecus trivirgatus) continue to the crown, 
and in the other (N. felinus) meet on the top of the 
forehead. N. trivirgatus was first described by Hum- 
boldt, who discovered it on the banks of the Cassiquiare, 
near the head waters of the Rio Negro. 

One cannot help being struck by this curious modifi- 
cation of the American type of monkeys, for the owl- 
faced night-apes have evidently sprung from the same 
stock as the rest of the Cebidaa, as they do not differ 
much in all essential points from the Whaiapu-sais 
(Callithrix), and the Sai-miris (Chrysothrix). They have 
nails of the ordinary form to all their fingers, and semi- 
opposable thumbs ; but the molar teeth (contrary to 
what is usual in the Cebidse) are studded with sharp 
points, showing that their natural food is principally 

I kept a pet animal of the N. trivirgatus for many 
months, a young one having been given to me by an 
Indian compadre, as a present from my newly-bajDtised 

Chap. V. PET MONKEYS. 317 

godson. These monkeys, although sleeping by day, are 
aroused by the least noise ; so that, when a person 
passes by a tree in which* a number of them are con- 
cealed, he is startled by the sudden apparition of a 
group of little striped faces crowding a hole in the trunk. 
It was in this way that my compadre discovered the 
colony from which the one given to me was taken. I 
was obliged to keep my pet chained up ; it therefore 
never became thoroughly familiar. I once saw, how- 
ever, an individual of the other species (N. felinus) 
which was most amusingly tame. Jt was as lively and 
nimble as the Cebi, but not so mischievous and far 
more confiding in its disposition, delighting to be 
caressed by all persons who came into the house. But 
its owner, the Municipal Judge of Ega, Dr. Carlos 
Mariana, had treated it for many weeks with the 
greatest kindness, allowing it to sleep with him at night 
in his hammock, and to nestle in his bosom half the day 
as he lay reading. It was a great favourite with every 
one, from the cleanliness of its habits and the prettiness 
of its features and ways. My own pet was kept in a box, 
in which was placed a broad-mouthed glass jar ; into this 
it would dive, head foremost, when any one entered the 
room, turning round inside, and thrusting forth its inqui- 
sitive face an instant afterwards to stare at the intruder. 
It was very active at night, venting at frequent intervals 
a hoarse cry, like the suppressed barking of a dog, and 
scampering about the room, to the length of its tether, 
after cockroaches and spiders. In climbing between the 
box and the wall, it straddled the space, resting its 
hands on the palms and tips of the outstretched fingers 

318 ANIMALS OF EGA. Chap. V. 

with the knuckles bent at an acute angle, and thus 
mounted to the top with the greatest facility. Although 
seeming to prefer insects, it ate all kinds of fruit, but 
would not touch raw or cooked meat, and was very 
seldom thirsty. I was told by persons who had kept 
these monkeys loose about the house, that they cleared 
the chambers of bats as well as insect vermin. When 
approached gently, my Ei-a allowed itself to be caressed ; 
but when handled roughly, it always took alarm, biting 
severely, striking out its little hands, and making a 
hissing noise like a cat. As already related, my pet was 
killed by a jealous Caiarara monkey, which was kept 
in the house at the same time. 

I have mentioned the near relationship of the night 
apes to the Sai-miris (Chrysothrix), which are amongst 
the commonest of the ordinary monkeys of the American 
forests. This near relationship is the more necessary to 
be borne in mind, as some zoologists have drawn a com- 
parison between the Nyctipitheci and the Microcebi, 
Nycticebi, and Loris, nocturnal apes of the Lemur family 
inhabiting Ceylon and Java, and it might be erroneously 
inferred that our American Ei-as were related more 
closely to these Old World forms than they are to the rest 
of the New World monkeys. The Nycticebus of Java has 
also large nocturnal eyes, short ears, and a physiognomy 
similar to that of our Nyctipitheci ; resemblances which 
might seem to be strong proofs of blood-relationship, but 
these points are fallacious guides in ascertaining the ge- 
nealogy of these animals ; they are simply resemblances 
of analogy, and merely show that a few species belong- 
ing to utterly dissimilar families have been made similar 


by being adapted to similar modes of life. The Loris 
and their relatives of Tropical Asia have six incisor teeth 
to the lower jaws, and belong, in all other essential 
points of structure, to the Lemur family, which has not 
a single representative in the New World. The Ei-as 
have teeth of the same number, and growing in nearly 
the same position, as their near relatives the Sai-mirfs. 
I obtained, moreover, yet stronger proof of this close 
relationship between the night and clay monkeys of 
America, in finding a species on the Upper Amazons 
which supplies a link between them. This one had 
ears nearly as short as those of the night apes, and also 
a striped forehead; the stripes being, however, two in 
number, instead of three : the colours of the body were 
very similar to those of the well-known Chrysothrix 
sciureus, and the eyes were fitted for day vision. 

Barrlgudo Monkeys. — Ten other species of monkeys 
were found, in addition to those already mentioned, in 
the forests of the Upper Amazons. All were strictly 
arboreal and diurnal in their habits, and lived in flocks, 
travelling from tree to tree, the mothers with their 
children on their backs ; leading, in fact, a life similar to 
that of the Pararauate Indians, and, like them, occa- 
sionally plundering the plantations which lie near their 
line of march. Some of them were found also on the 
Lower Amazons, and have been noticed in former chap- 
ters of this narrative. Of the remainder, the most 
remarkable is the Macaco barrigudo, or big-bellied 
monkey of the Portuguese colonists, a species of Lago- 
thrix. The genus is closely allied to the Coaitas, or 
spider monkeys, having, like them, exceedingly strong 

320 ANIMALS OF EGA. Chap. V. 

and flexible tails, which are furnished underneath with 
a naked palm like a hand, for grasping. The Barrigudos, 
however, are very bulky animals, whilst the spider 
monkeys are remarkable for the slenderness of their 
bodies and limbs. I obtained specimens of what have 
been considered two species, one (L. olivaceus of Spix ?) 
having the head clothed with gray, the other (L. Hum- 
boldtii) with black fur. They both live together in the 
same places, and are probably only differently-coloured 
individuals of one and the same species. I sent home a 
very large male of one of these kinds, which measured 
twenty-seven inches in length of trunk, the tail being 
twenty-six inches long ; it was the largest monkey I saw 
in America, with the exception of a black Howler, whose 
body was twenty-eight inches in height. The skin of 
the face in the Barrigudo is black and wrinkled, the 
forehead is low, Avith the eye-brows projecting, and, in 
short, the features altogether resemble in a striking 
manner those of an old negro. In the forests, the 
Barrigudo is not a very active animal ; it lives exclu- 
sively on fruits, and is much persecuted by the Indians, 
on account of the excellence of its flesh as food. From 
information given me by a collector of birds and mam- 
mals, whom I employed, and who resided a long time 
amongst the Tucuna Indians, near Tabatinga, I calcu- 
lated that one horde of this tribe, 200 in number, 
destroyed 1200 of these monkeys annually for food. 
The species is very numerous in the forests of the 
higher lands, but, owing to long persecution, it is 
now seldom seen in the neighbourhood of the larger 
villages. It is not found at all on the Lower Amazons. 

Chap. V. MARMOSETS. 321 

Its manners in captivity are grave, and its temper mild 
and confiding, like that of the Coaitas. Owing to these 
traits, the Barrigndo is much sought after for pets ; but 
it is not hardy like the Coaitas, and seldom survives 
a passage down the river to Para. 

Marmosets. — It now only remains to notice the Mar- 
mosets, which form the second family of American 
monkeys. Our old friend Midas ursulus, of Para and 
the Lower Amazons, is not found on the Upper river, 
but in its stead a closely-allied species presents itself, 
which appears to be the Midas rufoniger of Gervais, 
whose mouth is bordered with longish white hairs. 
The habits of this species are the same as those of the 
M. ursulus, indeed it seems probable that it is a form or 
race of the same stock, modified to suit the altered local 
conditions under which it lives. One day, whilst walk- 
ing along a forest pathway, I saw one of these lively 
little fellows miss his grasp as he was passing from one 
tree to another along with his troop. He fell head fore- 
most, from a height of at least fifty feet, but managed 
cleverly to alight on his legs in the pathway ; quickly 
turning round he gave me a good stare for a few mo- 
ments, and then bounded off gaily to climb another 
tree. At Tunantins, I shot a pair of a very handsome 
species of Marmoset, the M. rufiventer, I believe, of 
zoologists. Its coat was very glossy and smooth ; the 
back deep brown, and the underside of the body of 
rich black and reddish hues. A third species (found at 
Tabatinga, 200 miles further west) is of a deep black 
colour, with the exception of a patch of white hair around 
its mouth. The little animal, at a short distance, looks 


322 ANIMALS OF EGA. Chap. V. 

as though it held a ball of snow-white cotton in its 
teeth. The last I shall mention is the Hapale pygmagus, 
one of the most diminutive forms of the monkey order. 
I obtained, near St. Paulo, three full-grown specimens, 
which measured only seven inches in length of body. 
The pretty Lilliputian face is furnished with long brown 
whiskers, which are naturally brushed back over the 
ears. The general colour of the animal is brownish- 
tawny, but the tail is elegantly barred with black. I 
was surprised, on my return to England, to learn that 
the pigmy marmoset was found also in Mexico, no 
other Amazonian monkey being known to wander far 
from the great river plain. Thus the smallest, and 
apparently the feeblest, species of the whole order, is 
one which has, by some means, become the most widely 

The Jiipnra. — A curious animal, known to natural- 
ists as the Kinkajou, but called Jupura by the Indians 
of the Amazons, and considered by them as a kind of 
monkey, may be mentioned in this place. It is the 
Cercoleptes caudivolvus of zoologists, and has been con- 
sidered by some authors as an intermediate form between 
the Lemur family of apes and the plantigrade Carni- 
vora, or Bear family. It has decidedly no close rela- 
tionship to either of the groups of American monkeys, 
having six cutting teeth to each jaw, and long claws 
intead of nails, with extremities of the usual shape of 
paws instead of hands. Its muzzle is conical and 
pointed, like that of many Lemurs of Madagascar ; the 
expression of its countenance, and its habits and actions, 
are also very similar to those of Lemurs. Its tail is 

Chap. Y. THE JUPUEA. 323 

very flexible towards the tip, and is used to twine 
round branches in climbing. I did not see or hear 
anything of this animal whilst residing on the Lower 
Amazons, but on the banks of the Upper river, from 
the Teffe to Peru, it appeared to be rather common. It 
is nocturnal in its habits, like the owl-faced monkeys, 
although, unlike them, it has a bright, dark eye. I 
once saw it in considerable numbers, when on an excur- 
sion with an Indian companion along the low Ygapo 
shores of the Teffe, about twenty miles above Ega. 
We slept one night at the house of a native family 
living in the thick of the forest, where a festival w r as 
going on, and there being no room to hang our ham- 
mocks under shelter, on account of the number of 
visitors, we lay down on a mat in the open air, near a 
shed which stood in the midst of a grove of fruit-trees 
and pupunha palms. After midnight, when all be- 
came still, after the uproar of holiday-making, as I was 
listening to the dull, fanning sound made by the wings 
of impish hosts of vampire bats crowding round the 
Caju trees, a rustle commenced from the side of the 
woods, and a troop of slender, long-tailed animals were 
seen against the clear moonlit sky, taking flying leaps 
from branch to branch through the grove. Many of 
them stopped at the pupunha trees, and the hustling, 
twittering, and screaming, with sounds of falling fruits, 
showed how they were employed. I thought, at first, 
they were Nyctipitheci, but they proved to be Jupuras, 
for the owner of the house early next morning caught a 
young one, and gave it to me. I kept this as a pet animal 
for several weeks, feeding it on bananas and mandioca- 

Y 2 

324 ANIMALS OF EGA. Chap. V. 

meal mixed with treacle. It became tame in a very- 
short time, allowing itself to be caressed, but making a 
distinction in the degree of confidence it showed between 
myself and strangers. -My pet was unfortunately killed 
by a neighbour's dog, which entered the room where it 
was kept. The animal is so difficult to obtain alive, its 
place of retreat in the day-time not being known to the 
natives, that I was unable to procure a second living 

As I shall not have occasion again to enter on the 
subject of monkeys, a few general remarks will be here 
in place, as a summary of my observations on this im- 
portant order of animals in the Amazons region. The 
total number of species of monkeys which I found 
inhabiting the margins of the Upper and Lower Ama- 
zons, was thirty-eight. They belonged to twelve 
different genera, forming two distinct families, the num- 
ber of genera and families, here as well as in other 
orders of animals or plants, expressing roughly the 
amount of diversity existing with regard to forms. All 
the New World genera of apes, except one (Eriodes, 
closely allied to the Coaitas, but having claw-shaped nails 
to the fingers), are represented in the Amazons region. 
With these ample materials before us, let us draw a 
comparison between the monkeys of the new continent, 
and their kindred of the Old World. It seems highly 
probable that the larger land areas, both continents and 
islands, on the surface of our globe, became separated 
pretty nearly as they now are, soon after the first forms 
of this group of animals came into existence : it will 


be interesting, therefore, to see how differently the sub- 
sequent creations of species have proceeded in each of 
the separated areas. 

The American monkeys are distinguished, as a body, 
from all those found in the Old World. Upon this 
point, there is no difference of opinion amongst modern 
zoologists. It is not probable, therefore, that species 
of the one continent have passed over to the other, 
since these great tracts of land received their present 
inhabitants of this order. The American productions pre- 
sent a cluster of forms, namely, about eighty-six species, 
separated into thirteen genera, which although greatly 
diversified amongst themselves, in no case show signs 
of near relationship to any of the still more diversified 
forms of the same order belonging to the eastern hemi- 
sphere. One of the two American families (Cebidse) 
has thirty-six teeth, whilst the corresponding family 
(Pithecidse) of Old World apes has, like man, only thirty- 
two teeth ; the difference arising from the Cebidse 
having an additional false molar tooth* to each side 
of both jaws. This important character is constant 
throughout all the varied forms of which the Cebidse 
family is composed ; being equally present in the pre- 
hensile-tailed group, with its four genera containing 
twenty-seven species, differing in form and clothing, 
shape of claws, mental characteristics, and condition of 
thumb of the anterior hands ; and in the true Cebi and 
the group of Sagouins, with six genera and twenty-four 
species, including day apes and night apes, short 

* False molars, or premolars, differ from true molars, through being 
preceded in growth by milk teeth. 

326 ANIMALS OF EGA. Chap. V. 

furred and long-haired apes, apes with excessively long 
tails, and apes with rudimentary tails. The second 
American family, the Marmosets, have thirty -two teeth, 
like the Old World monkeys and man ; but this identity 
of number arises from one of the true molars being 
absent ; the Marmosets have three premolar teeth, like 
the Cebidse, and are therefore quite as far removed as 
the Cebidae from all the forms of the Old World. They 
are, moreover, a low type of apes, having a smooth 
brain, and claws instead of nails, although they are 
gentle and playful in disposition, and have a visage 
which presents an open facial angle. 

The Old World apes, as just observed, are far more 
diversified amongst themselves, than are those of the 
New World. They form, in the first place, two widely 
distinct groups or sub-orders, Pithecidse and Lemurs, 
and comprise about 125 species, divided into twenty- 
one genera. The Lemur group contains a remarkably 
great diversity of forms ; this is shown by their being 
naturally divisible into four families,* and twelve 
genera, although containing only twenty-five species. 
Their teeth are very irregular in number and position, 
but never correspond with those of the Pithecidse or 
Cebidse. These four families, in structure, are more 
widely separated from each other than are the two 
American groups of the same denomination. The 
Lemurs also contain a number of anomalous or isolated 
forms, which, by their teeth, number of teats, and other 
features, connect the monkeys with other and lower 
orders of the mammal class ; namely, the Rodents, the 

* True Lemurs, Tarsiens, Aye-Ayes, and Galeopitheci. 


Insectivora, and the Bats. All the typical Lemurs, which 
constitute the great majority of the family, inhabit 
exclusively the Island of Madagascar. 

The Pithecidse are divisible into three groups, which 
again are much more distinct from each other than the 
subordinate groups of Cebidae. These are the Anthro- 
poid section, to which some zoologists consider man 
himself belongs, comprising the Gorilla, the Chimpan- 
zee, the Orangs and the Gibbons ; the Guenons (which, 
in their forms, tempers, and habits, resemble the Cebidse), 
and lastly, the Baboons, whose extreme forms — the dog- 
faced species, with nose extending to the tip of the 
muzzle — seem like a degradation of the monkey type. 
There is nothing at all resembling the Anthropoid apes 
and the Baboons existing on the American continent. 
The Guenons, too, have only a superficial resemblance 
to American monkeys ; for they have all thirty-two 
teeth, nostrils opening in a downward direction (instead 
of on the sides, like the Cebidae and Marmosets), and 
are, moreover, linked to the Baboons through interme- 
diate forms (Macacus), and the possession of callosities 
on the breech, and other signs of blood-relationship. 

A few more words on the peculiar way in which these 
groups of monkeys are distributed over the earth's sur- 
face. We may consider, in connection with this subject, 
the great land masses of the warmer parts of the 
earth to be four in number. 1. Australia, with New 
Guinea and its neighbouring islands : 2. Madagascar : 
3. America : 4. The Continental mass of the Old World, 
comprising Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Islands of the 
Malay Archipelago, which latter are connected with 

328 ANIMALS OF EGA. Chap. V. 

Asia by a shallow sea, whilst they are separated from 
New Guinea by a channel of very deep water ; the 
shallow sea pointing to a former, but recent, union of the 
lands which it connects, the deep channel a complete 
and enduring severance of the lands which it separates. 
Now, with regard to monkeys, these four land masses 
seem to have had these animals allotted to them in 
the most capricious way possible, if we are to take 
for granted that the species were arbitrarily created 
on the lands where they are now found. Australia, with 
soil and climate as well adapted for Baboons as Africa, 
where they abound, and New Guinea, with rich humid 
forests as suitable for Orangs and Gibbons as the very 
similar island of Borneo, have, neither of them, a single 
species of native monkey. Madagascar possesses only 
Lemurs, the most lowly-organised group of apes, 
although the neighbouring continent of Africa contains 
numerous species of all families of Old World apes. 
America, as we have seen, has no Lemurs, and not a 
single representative of the Old World groups of the 
order, but is well peopled by genera and species belonging 
to two distinct groups peculiar to the continent. Lastly, 
the Old World continental mass, with a few anomalous 
forms of Lemurs scattered here and there, is the exclu- 
sive home of the whole of the Pithecidae family, which 
presents a series of forms graduating from the debased 
Baboon -to the Gorilla, which some zoologists consider 
to approach near to man in his organisation. 

What does all this mean ? Why are the different 
forms apportioned in this way to the various lands of 
the earth 1 Why is Australia with New Guinea desti- 


tute of monkeys, and why should Madagascar have 
stopped short at Lemurs, whilst America has gone on 
to prehensile-tailed Cebidae, and the Old- World con- 
tinent continued to Gibbons, Orangs, Chimpanzee, and 
Gorilla ? Is it that the greater land masses have seen 
a larger amount of geological and climatal changes with 
corresponding changes in the geographical relations of 
species ? Moreover, why should the smaller groups of 
the order be confined to smaller areas within the greater 
areas peopled by the families to which they belong? 
For, it must be added, the true Lemurs are confined to 
Madagascar, the Gibbons and others to South Eastern 
Asia, the dog-faced baboons to Africa, and, as we have 
seen, the scarlet-faced monkeys to a limited area on the 
Upper Amazons. May we be allowed to explain the 
absence of these animals from New Guinea with Aus- 
tralia, by the supposition that those lands were separated 
from South Eastern Asia before the first forms of the 
order came into existence ? If so, it may be concluded 
that Madagascar became separated from Africa, and 
America from the continental mass of the old world 
before the Pithecidas originated. But, if these explana- 
tions, founded on natural causes, be entertained, we 
commit ourselves, by the fact of entertaining them, to the 
admission that natural causes are com pe tent to explain 
the existence or non-existence of forms in a given area, 
and why may not the exercise of our reason, founded on 
carefully observed and collated facts, be carried a step 
farther, namely to the origin of the species of monkeys 
themselves? I have already shown how singularly 
species of monkeys vary in different localities, and have 

330 ANIMALS OF EGA. Chap. Y. 

given the striking case of the white and red-haired 
Uakaris. If these two forms, which are considered by 
the most eminent naturalists as distinct species, have 
originated, as the facts of their distribution plainly tell 
us they have, from one and the same stock, why may 
not the various species of Lemurs, of Baboons, of Gib- 
bons, and so forth, given the necessary amount of time 
and climatal changes, have originated in the same way ? 
And if we can thus account for the origin of the species 
of one genus, on what grounds can we deny that the 
genera of the same family, or the families of the same 
order, have also proceeded from a common stock ? I 
throw out these suggestions simply for the consideration 
of thoughtful readers, but must add, that unless the 
common origin, at least, of the species of a family be 
admitted, the jDroblem of the distribution of monkeys 
over the earth's surface must remain an inexplicable 
mystery, whilst, if admitted*, a flood of light illuminates 
the subject, and promises an early solution to honest 
and patient investigation. These questions, also, show 
how interesting and difficult are the problems which 
Natural History, granted the right and ability of the 
human mind to deal with them, has to solve. 

It is a suggestive fact that all the fossil monkeys 
which have been found in Europe and America, belong 
in each case to the types which are still peculiar to the 
continent which they inhabit. The European fossils are 
all of the Pithecidse family, the South American all 
belong to the Cebidfe and Marmoset families. The 
separation of the two continental masses (at least of 
their warm zones) must therefore be of great geological 

Chap. V. BATS. 331 

antiquity. It is interesting to trace how the diversi- 
fication of forms (if the expression may be allowed), 
since the separation, has gone on in Tropical America. 
What wide divergence as to size, forms, habits, and 
mental dispositions, between the silver marmoset so 
small that it may be inclosed in the two hands, and 
the strong and savage black Howler, nearly two feet 
and a half in length of trunk ! Yet there has been no 
direct advance in the organisation of the order towards 
a higher type, such as is exhibited in the old world. 
America, for her share, has produced the most per- 
fectly arboreal monkey in the world ; but beyond the 
perfection of the arboreal type she does not go. The 
retention of arboreal forms throughout long geological 
ages, may teach geologists that there must always 
have been extensive land areas covered by forests 
on the site of the tropical zone of America. It is 
curious to reflect, in conjunction with the fact of the 
advance of the American Quadrumana having halted at 
a low stage, that ethnologists have almost unanimously 
come to the conclusion that the race of men now in- 
habiting the American continent are not Autochthones 
of America, the land of the Cebidse, but immigrants 
from the Old World continent, the land of the Anthro- 
poid group of the order Quadrumana. 

Bats. — The only other mammals that I shall mention 
are the bats, which exist in very considerable numbers 
and variety in the forest, as well as in the buildings of 
the villages. Many small and curious species living in 
the woods, conceal themselves by day under the broad 
leaf-blades of Heliconiae and other plants which grow 

332 ANIMALS OF EGA. Chap. V. 

in shady places ; others cling to the trunks of trees. 
Whilst walking through the forest in the daytime, 
especially along gloomy ravines, one is almost sure to 
startle bats from their sleeping-places ; and at night 
they are often seen in great numbers flitting about the 
trees on the shady margins of narrow channels. I 
captured altogether, without giving especial attention 
to bats, sixteen different .species at Ega. 

The Vampire Bat. — The little gray bloodsucking 
Phyllostoma, mentioned in a former chapter as found in 
my chamber at Caripi, was not uncommon at Ega, 
where everyone believes it to visit sleepers and bleed 
them in the night. But the vampire was here by far the 
most abundant of the family of leaf-nosed bats. It is 
the largest of all the South American species, measuring 
twenty-eight inches in expanse of wing. Nothing, in 
animal physiognomy can be more hideous than the 
countenance of this creature when viewed from the 
front ; the large, leathery ears standing out from the 
sides and top of the head, the erect spear-shaped ap- 
pendage on the tip of the nose, the grin and the glis- 
tening black eye all combining to make up a figure that 
reminds one of some mocking imp of fable. No wonder 
that imaginative people have inferred diabolical in- 
stincts on the part of so ugly an animal. The vampire, 
however, is the most harmless of all bats, and its inof- 
fensive character is well known to residents on the 
banks of the Amazons. I found two distinct species of 
it, one having the fur of a blackish colour, the other of 
a ruddy hue, and ascertained that both feed chiefly on 
fruits. The church at Ega was the head-quarters of 

Chap. V. BIRDS. 333 

both kinds ; I used to see them, as I sat at my door 
during the short evening twilights, trooping forth by 
scores from a large open window at the back of the 
altar, twittering cheerfully as they sped off to the 
borders of the forest. They sometimes enter houses ; 
the first time I saw one in my chamber, wheeling 
heavily round and round, I mistook it for a pigeon, 
thinking that a tame one had escaped from the pre- 
mises of one of my neighbours. I opened the stomachs 
of several of these bats, and found them to contain a 
mass of pulp and seeds of fruits, mingled with a few 
remains of insects.* The natives say they devour ripe 
cajus and guavas on trees in the gardens, but on com- 
paring the seeds taken from their stomachs with those 
of all cultivated trees at Ega, I found they were unlike 
any of them ; it is therefore probable that they gene- 
rally resort to the forest to feed, coming to the village 
in the morning to sleep, because they find it more 
secure from animals of prey than their natural abodes 
in the woods. 

Birds. — I have already had occasion to mention several 
of the more interesting birds found in the Ega district. 
The first thing that would strike a new-comer in the 
forests of the Upper Amazons would be the general 
scarcity of birds ; indeed, it often happened that I did 
not meet with a single bird during a whole day's ramble 
in the richest and most varied parts of the woods. Yet 

* The remains of insects belonged to species of Scarites (Coleoptera) 
having blunt maxillary blades, several of which fly abroad in oreat 
numbers on warm nights. 

334 ANIMALS OF EGA. Chap. V. 

the country is tenanted by many hundred species, many 
of which are, in reality, abundant, and some of them 
conspicuous from their brilliant plumage. The cause 
of their apparent rarity is to be sought in the sameness 
and density of the thousand miles of forest which con- 
stitute their dwelling-place. The birds of the country 
are gregarious, at least during the season when they are 
most readily found ; but the frugivorous kinds are to be 
met with only when certain wild fruits are ripe, and to 
know the exact localities of the trees requires months 
of experience. It would not be supposed that the in- 
sectivorous birds are also gregarious ; but they are so, 
numbers of distinct species, belonging to many different 
families, joining together in the chase or search of food. 
The proceedings of these associated bands of insect- 
hunters are not a little curious, and merit a few re- 

Whilst hunting along the narrow pathways that are 
made through the forest in the neighbourhood of houses 
and villages, one may pass several days without seeing 
many birds ; but now and then the surrounding bushes 
and trees appear suddenly to swarm with them. There 
are scores, probably hundreds of birds, all moving about 
with the greatest activity — woodpeckers and Dendro- 
colaptidse (from species no larger than a sparrow to 
others the size of a crow) running up the tree trunks ; 
tanagers,* ant-thrushes, humming-birds, fly-catchers, and 
barbets flitting about the leaves and lower branches. 

* Tachyphonus surinamus and cristatus, Tanagrella elegantissima. 
I very often found fruit-eating birds, such as Cassicus icteronotus and 
Capito Amazoninus mingled with these bands. 

Chap. V. THE PAPA-UIEA. 335 

The bustling crowd loses no time, and although movino- 
in concert, each bird is occupied, on its own account, in 
searching bark or leaf or twig ; the barbets visiting every 
clayey nest of termites on the trees which lie in the line 
of march. In a few minutes the host is gone, and the 
forest path remains deserted and silent as before. I 
became, in course of time, so accustomed to this habit 
of birds in the woods near Ega, that I could generally 
find the flock of associated marauders whenever I 
wanted it. There appeared to be only one of these 
flocks in each small district ; and, as it traversed chiefly 
a limited tract of woods of second growth, I used to 
try different paths until I came up with it. 

The Indians have noticed these miscellaneous hunting 
parties of birds, but appear not to have observed that 
they are occupied in searching for insects. They have 
supplied their want of knowledge, in the usual way 
of half-civilised people, by a theory which has de- 
generated into a myth, to the effect that the onward 
moving bands" are led by a little grey bird, called the 
Papa-uira, which fascinates all the rest, and leads them 
a weary dance through the thickets. There is certainly 
some appearance of truth in this explanation ; for some- 
times stray birds, encountered in the line of march, are 
seen to be drawn into the throng, and purely frugivorous 
birds are now and then found mixed up with the rest, as 
though led away by some will-o'-the-wisp. The native 
women, even the white and half-caste inhabitants of the 
towns, attach a superstitious value to the skin and 
feathers of the Papa-uira, believing that if they keep 
them in their clothes' chest, the relics will have the 


effect of attracting for the happy possessors a train of 
lovers and . followers. These birds are consequently in 
great demand in some places, the hunters selling them 
at a high price to the foolish girls, who preserve the 
bodies by drying flesh and feathers together in the sun. 
I could never get a sight of this famous little bird in 
the forest. I once employed Indians to obtain speci- 
mens for me ; but, after the same man (who was a 
noted woodsman) brought me, at different times, three 
distinct species of birds as the Papa-uira, I gave up the 
story as a piece of humbug. The simplest explanation 
appears to be this ; that the birds associate in flocks 
from the instinct of self-preservation, and in order to 
be a less easy prey to hawks, snakes, and other enemies 
than they would be if feeding alone. 

Toucans. — Cuvier's Toucan. — Of this family of 
birds, so conspicuous from the great size and light struc- 
ture of their beaks, and so characteristic of Tropical 
American forests, five species* inhabit the woods of 
Ega. The largest of all the Toucans found on the 
Amazons, namely, the Ramphastos toco, called by the 
natives Tocano pacova, from its beak resembling in 
size and shape a banana or pacova, appears not to reach 
so far up the river as Ega. It is abundant near Para, 
and is found also on the low islands of the Rio Negro, 
near Barra, but does not seem to raDge much farther to 
the west. The commonest species at Ega is Cuvier's 

* Ramphastos Cuvieri, Pteroglossus Beauharnaisii, Pt. Langsclorfii, 
Pt. castanotis, Pt. flavirostris. Further westward, namely, near St. 
Paulo, a sixth species makes its appearance, the Pteroglossus Hum- 

Chap. V. CUVIER'S TOUCAN. 337 

Toucan, a large bird, distinguished from its nearest rela- 
tives by the feathers at the bottom of the back being 
of a saffron hue instead of red. It is found more or 
less numerously throughout the year, as it breeds in 
the neighbourhood, laying its eggs in holes of trees, at 
a great height from the ground. During most months 
of the year, it is met with in single individuals or small 
flocks, and the birds are then very wary. Sometimes 
one of these little bands of four or five is seen perched, 
for hours together, amongst the topmost branches of 
high trees, giving vent to their remarkably loud, shrill, 
yelping cries, one bird, mounted higher than the rest, 
acting, apparently, as leader of the inharmonious 
chorus ; but two of them are often heard yelping alter- 
nately, and in different notes. These cries have a 
vague resemblance to the syllables Tocano, Tocano, 
and hence the Indian name of this genus of birds. 
At these times it is. difficult to get a shot at Toucans, 
for their senses are so sharpened that they descry the 
hunter before he gets near the tree on which they are 
perched, although he may be half-concealed amongst 
the underwood, 150 feet below them. They stretch 
their necks downwards to look beneath, and on espying 
the least movement amongst the foliage, fly off to the 
more inaccessible parts of the forest. Solitary Toucans 
are sometimes met with at the same season, hopping 
silently up and down the larger boughs, and peering 
into crevices of the tree-trunks. They moult in the 
months from March to June, some individuals earlier, 
others later. This season of enforced quiet being 
passed, they make their appearance suddenly in the dry 


338 ANIMALS OF EGA. Chap. V. 

forest, near Ega, in large flocks, probably, assemblages 
of birds gathered together from the neighbouring Ygapo 
forests, which are then flooded and cold. The birds 
have now become exceedingly tame, and the troops 
travel with heavy laborious flight from bough to bough 
amongst the lower trees. They thus become an easy 
prey to hunters, and every one at Ega, who can get a 
gun of any sort and a few charges of powder and shot, 
or a blow-pipe, goes daily to the woods to kill a few 
brace for dinner ; for, as already observed, the people of 
Ega live almost exclusively on stewed and roasted 
Toucans during the months of June and July. The 
birds are then very fat, and the meat exceedingly sweet 
and tender. I did not meet with Cuvier's Toucan on 
the Lower Amazons ; in that region, the sulphur and 
white-breasted Toucan (Ramphastos Vitellinus) seems to 
take its place, this latter species, on the other hand, being 
quite unknown on the Upper Amazons. It is probable 
they are local modifications of one and the same stock. 

No one, on seeing a Toucan, can help asking what is 
the use of the enormous bill, which, in some species, 
attains a length of seven inches, and a width of more 
than two inches. A few remarks on this subject may 
be here introduced. The early naturalists, having seen 
only the bill of a Toucan, which was esteemed as a 
marvellous production by the virtuosi of the sixteenth 
and seventeenth centuries, concluded that the bird must 
have belonged to the aquatic and web-footed order, 
as this contains so many species of remarkable develop- 
ment of beak, adapted for seizing fish. Some travellers 
also related fabulous stories of Toucans resorting to 


the banks of rivers to feed on fish, and these accounts 
also encouraged the erroneous views of the habits of 
the birds, which, for a long time, prevailed. Toucans, 
however, are now well known to be eminently arboreal 
birds, and to belong to a group (including trogons, par- 
rots, and barbets*), all of whose members are fruit- 
eaters. On the Amazons, where these birds are very 
common, no one pretends ever to have seen a Toucan 
walking on the ground in its natural state, much less 
acting the part of a swimming or wading bird. Pro- 
fessor Owen found, on dissection, that the gizzard in 
Toucans is not so well adapted for the trituration of 
food as it is in other vegetable feeders, and concluded, 
therefore, as Broderip had observed the habit of chew- 
ing the cud in a tame bird, that the great toothed bill 
was useful in holding and re-masticating the food. The 
bill can scarcely be said to be a very good contrivance 
for seizing and crushing small birds, or taking them 
from their nests in crevices of trees, habits which have 
been imputed to Toucans by some writers. The 
hollow, cellular structure of the interior of the bill, its 
curved and clumsy shape, and the deficiency of force 
and precision when it is used to seize objects, suggest 
a want of fitness, if this be the function of the member. 
But fruit is undoubtedly the chief food of Toucans, and 
it is in reference to their mode of obtaining it that the 
use of their uncouth bills is to be sought. 

Flowers and fruits on the crowns of the large trees of 
South American forests grow, principally, towards the 
end of slender twigs, which will not bear any con- 

* CapitoniriPe, O. E. Cray. 


340 ANIMALS OF EGA. Chap. V. 

siderable weight ; all animals, therefore, which feed upon 
fruit, or on insects contained in flowers, must, of course, 
have some means of reaching the ends of the stalks from 
a distance. Monkeys obtain their food by stretching 
forth then long arms and, in some instances, their tails, 
to bring the fruit near to their mouths. Humming- 
birds are endowed with highly-perfected organs of 
flight, with corresponding muscular development, by 
which they are enabled to sustain themselves on the 
wing before blossoms whilst rifling them of their con- 
tents. These strong-flying creatures, however, will, 
whenever they get a chance, remain on their perches 
whilst probing neighbouring flowers for insects. Tro- 
gons have feeble wings, and a dull, inactive tempera- 
ment. Then mode of obtaining food is to station 
themselves quietly on low branches in the gloomy 
shades of the forest, and eye the fruits on the sur- 
rounding trees, darting off, as if with an effort, every 
time they wish to seize a mouthful, and returning to 
the same perch. Barbets (Capitoninae) seem to have 
no especial endowment, either of habits or structure, 
to enable them to seize fruits ; and in this respect they 
are similar to the Toucans, if we leave the bill out of 
question, both tribes having heavy bodies, with feeble 
organs of flight, so that they are disabled from taking 
their food on the wing. The purpose of the enormous 
bill here becomes evident. Barbets and Toucans are 
very closely related ; indeed a genus has lately been 
discovered towards the head waters of the Amazons,* 

* Tetragonops. Dr. Sclater has lately given a figure of this bird in 
the Ibis, vol. iii. p. 182. 

Chap. V. TAME TOUCAN. 341 

which tends to link the two families together ; the 
superior length of the Toucan's bill gives it an advan- 
tage over the Barbet, with its small, conical beak ; it 
can reach and devour immense quantities of fruit 
whilst remaining seated, and thus its heavy body and 
gluttonous appetite form no obstacles to the prosperity 
of the species. It is worthy of note, that the young of 
the Toucan has a very much smaller beak than the 
full-grown bird. The relation between the extraor- 
dinarily lengthened bill of the Toucan and its mode of 
obtaining food, is precisely similar to that between the 
long neck and lips of the Giraffe and the mode of 
browsing of the animal. The bill of the Toucan can 
scarcely be considered a very perfectly-formed instru- 
ment for the end to which it is applied, as here ex- 
plained ; but nature appears not to shape organs at 
once for the functions to which they are now adapted, 
but avails herself, here of one already-existing structure 
or instinct, there of another, according as they are 
handy when need for their further modification arises. 

One day, whilst walking along the principal pathway 
in the woods near Ega, I saw one of these Toucans 
seated gravely on a low branch close to the road, and 
had no difficulty in seizing it with my hand. It turned 
out to be a runaway pet bird ; no one, however, came 
to own it, although I kept it in my house for several 
months. The bird was in a half-starved and sickly con- 
dition, but after a few days of good living it recovered 
health and spirits, and became one of the most amus- 
ing pets imaginable. Many excellent accounts of the 
habits of tame Toucans, have been published, and 

342 ANIMALS OF EGA. Chap. V. 

therefore I need not describe them in detail, but I do 
not recollect to have seen any notice of their intelligence 
and confiding disposition under domestication, in which 
qualities my pet seemed to be almost equal to parrots. 
I allowed Tocano to go free about the house, contrary to 
my usual practice with pet animals ; he never, however, 
mounted my working-table after a smart correction 
which he received the first time he did so. He used to 
sleep on the top of a box in a corner of the room, in the 
usual position of these birds, namely, with the long tail 
laid right over on the back, and the beak thrust under- 
neath the wing. He ate of everything that we eat ; beef, 
turtle, fish, farinha, fruit, and was a constant attendant 
at our table — a cloth spread on a mat. His appetite 
was most ravenous, and his powers of digestion quite 
wonderful. He got to know the meal hours to a nicety, 
and we found it very difficult, after the first week or two, 
to keep him away from the dining-room, where he had 
become very impudent and troublesome. We tried to 
shut him out by enclosing him in the back -yard, which 
was separated by a high fence from the street on which 
our front door opened, but he used to climb the fence 
and hop round by a long circuit to the dining-room, 
making his appearance with the greatest punctuality 
as the meal was placed on the table. He acquired the 
habit, afterwards, of rambling about the street near our 
house, and one day he was stolen, so we gave him up 
for lost. But, two days afterwards, he stepped through 
the open doorway at dinner hour, with his old gait, 
and sly, magpie-like expression, having escaped from 
the house where he had been guarded by the person who 

Chap. V. 



had stolen him, and which was situated at the further 
end of the village. 

The Curl-crested Toucan (Pteroglossus Beauhar- 
naisii). — Of the four smaller Toucans or Arassaris found 
near Ega, the Pteroglossus flavirostris is perhaps the 
most beautiful in colours, its breast being adorned with 
broad belts of rich crimson and black ; but the most 
curious species, by far, is the Curl-crested, or Beauhar- 
nais Toucan. The feathers on the head of this singular 


Curl-crested Toucan. 

bird are transformed into thin, horny plates, of a lus- 
trous black colour, curled up at the ends, and resem- 
bling shavings of steel or ebony wood : the curly crest 
being arranged on the crown in the form of a wig. 
Mr. Wallace and 1 first met with this species, on ascend- 
ing the Amazons, at the mouth of the Solimoens ; 
from that point it continues as a rather common bird 
on the terra firma, at least on the south side of the 
river, as far as Fonte Boa, but I did not hear of its 
being found further to the west. It appears in large 

344 ANIMALS OF EGA. Chap. V. 

flocks in the forest near Ega in May and June, when 
it has completed its moult. I did not find these bands 
congregated at fruit-trees, but always wandering through 
the forest, hopping from branch to branch amongst the 
lower trees, and partly concealed amongst the foliage. 
None of the Arassaris, to my knowledge, make a 
yelping noise like that uttered by the larger Toucans 
(Ramphastos) ; the notes of the curl-crested species 
are very singular, resembling the croaking of frogs. 
I had an amusing adventure one day with these birds. 
I had shot one from a rather high tree in a dark glen 
in the forest, and leaving my gun leaning against a 
tree-trunk in the pathway, went into the thicket where 
the bird had fallen, to secure my booty. It was only 
wounded, and on my attempting to seize it, it set up a 
loud scream. In an instant, as if by magic, the shady 
nook seemed alive with these birds, although there 
was certainly none visible when I entered the thicket. 
They descended towards me, hopping from bough to 
bough, some of them swinging on the loops and cables 
of woody lianas, and all croaking and fluttering their 
wings like so many furies. Had I had a long stick in 
my hand I could have knocked several of them over. 
After killing the wounded one I rushed out to fetch 
my gun, but, the screaming of their companion having 
ceased, they remounted the trees, and before I could 
reload, every one of them had disappeared. 

Insects. — Upwards of 7000 species of insects were 
found in the neighbourhood of Ega. I must confine 
myself, in this place, to a few remarks on the order 

Chap. V. BUTTEKFL1ES. 345 

Lej)idoptera, and on the ants, several kinds of which, 
found chiefly on the Upper Amazons, exhibit the most 
extraordinary instincts. 

I found about 550 distinct species of butterflies at 
Ega. Those who know a little of Entomology will be 
able to form some idea of the riches of the place in this 
department, when I mention that eighteen species of 
true Papilio (the swallow-tail genus) were found within 
ten minutes' walk of my house. No fact could speak 
more plainly for the surpassing exuberance of the vege- 
tation, the varied nature of the land, the perennial 
warmth and humidity of the climate. But no descrip- 
tion can convey an adequate notion of the beauty and 
diversity in form and colour of this class of insects in 
the neighbourhood of Ega. I paid especial attention to 
them, having found that this tribe was better adapted 
than almost any other group of animals or plants, to 
furnish facts in illustration of the modifications which 
all species undergo in nature, under changed local con- 
ditions. This accidental superiority is owing partly to 
the simplicity and distinctness of the specific characters 
of the insects, and partly to the facility with which very 
copious series of specimens can be collected and placed 
side by side for comparison. The distinctness of the 
specific characters is due probably to the fact that all 
the superficial signs of change in the organisation are 
exaggerated, and made unusually plain, by affecting the 
framework, shape, and colour of the wings, which, as 
many anatomists believe, are magnified extensions of 
the skin around the breathing orifices of the thorax of 
the insects. These expansions are clothed with minute 

346 ANIMALS OF EGA. Chap. V. 

feathers or scales, coloured in regular patterns, which 
vary in accordance with the slightest change in the 
conditions to which the species are exposed. It may 
be said, therefore, that on these expanded membranes 
Nature writes, as on a tablet, the story of the modifica- 
tions of species, so truly do all changes of the organisa- 
tion register themselves thereon. Moreover, the same 
colour-patterns of the wings generally show, with great 
regularity, the degrees of blood-relationship of the spe- 
cies. As the laws of Nature must be the same for all 
beings, the conclusions furnished by this group of insects 
must be applicable to the whole organic world; there- 
fore, the study of butterflies — creatures selected as the 
types of airiness and frivolity — instead of being de- 
spised, will some day be valued as one of the most 
important branches of Biological science. 

I have mentioned, in a former chapter, the general 
sultry condition of the atmosphere on the Upper Ama- 
zons, where the sea-breezes which blow from Para to 
the mouth of the Rio Negro (1000 miles up stream) 
are unknown. This simple difference of meteorological 
conditions would hardly be thought to determine what 
genera of butterflies should inhabit each region, yet it 
does so in a very decisive manner. The Ujjper Ama- 
zons, from Ega upwards, and the eastern slopes of the 
Andes, whence so large a number of the most richly- 
coloured species of this tribe have been received in 
Europe, owe the most ornamental part of their insect 
population to the absence of strong and regular winds. 
Nineteen of the most handsome genera of Ega, con- 
taining altogether about 100 species, are either entirely 

Chap. V. BUTTERFLIES. 347 

absent or very sparingly represented on the Lower 
Amazons within reach of the trade winds. The range 
of these nineteen genera is affected by a curiously com- 
plicated set of circumstances. In all the species of 
which they are composed, the males are more than 
100 to one more numerous than the females, and being- 
very richly coloured, whilst the females are of dull hues, 
they spend their lives in sporting about in the sun- 
light, imbibing the moisture which constitutes their 
food, from the mud on the shores of streams, their 
spouses remaining hid in the shades of the forest. The 
very existence of these species depends on the facilities 
which their males have for indulgence in the pleasures of 
this sunshiny life. The greatest obstacle to this is the 
prevalence of strong winds, which not only dries rapidly 
all moisture in open places, but prevents the richly- 
attired dandies from flying daily to their feeding-places. 
I noticed this particularly whilst residing at Santarem, 
where the moist margins of water, localities which on 
the Upper Amazons swarm with these insects, were 
nearly destitute of them ; and at Villa Nova (where a 
small number exists) I have watched them buffeting 
with the strong winds at the commencement of the dry 
season, and, as the dryness increased, disappearing from 
the locality. On ascending the Tapajos to the calm and 
sultry banks of the Cupari, a great number of these 
insects re-appeared, most of them being the same as 
those found on the Upper Amazons, thus showing clearly 
that their existence in the district depended on the 
absence of winds. 

Before proceeding to describe the ants, a few remarks 



Chap. V. 

may be made on the singular cases and cocoons woven 
by the caterpillars of certain moths found at Ega. The 

first that may be mentioned, is one of the 
most beautiful examples of insect work- 
manship I ever saw. It is a cocoon, about 
the size of a sparrow's egg, woven by a 
caterpillar in broad meshes of either buft 
or rose-coloured silk, and is frequently 
seen in the narrow alleys of the forest, sus- 
pended from the extreme tip of an out- 
standing leaf by a strong silken thread five 
or six inches in length. It forms a very 
conspicuous object, hanging thus in mid- 
air. The glossy threads with which it is 
knitted are stout, and the structure is 
therefore not liable to be torn by the beaks 
of insectivorous birds, whilst its pendulous 
position makes it doubly secure against 
their attacks, the apparatus giving way 
when they peck at it. There is a small 
orifice at each end of the egg-shaped bag, 
to admit of the escape of the moth when Susp e f n ^ e d th cocoon 
it changes from the little chrysalis which 
sleeps tranquilly in its airy cage. The moth is of a 


dull slaty colour and belongs to the Lithosiide group 
of the silk-worm family (Bombycidse). When the cater- 
pillar begins its work, it lets itself down from the tip 
of the leaf which it has chosen, by spinning a thread 
of silk, the thickness of which it slowly increases as it 
descends. Having given the proper length to the cord, 
it proceeds to weave its elegant bag, placing itself in the 
centre and spinning rings of silk at regular intervals, 
connecting them at the same time by means of cross 
threads ; so that the whole, when finished, forms a loose 
web, with quadrangular meshes of nearly equal size 
throughout. The task occupies about four days : when 
finished, the enclosed caterpillar becomes sluggish, its 
skin shrivels and cracks, and there then remains a 
motionless chrysalis of narrow shape, leaning against 
the sides of its silken cage. 

Many other kinds are found at Ega belonging to the 
same cocoon-weaving family, some of which differ from 
the rest in their caterpillars possessing the art of fabri- 
cating cases with fragments of wood or leaves, in which 
they live secure from all enemies whilst they are feed- 
ing and growing. I saw many species of these ; some 
of them knitted together, with fine silken threads, 
small bits of stick, and so made tubes similar to those 
of caddice-worms ; others (Saccophora) chose leaves 
for the same purpose, forming with them an elongated 
bag open at both ends, and having the inside lined 
with a thick web. The tubes of full-grown caterpillars 
of Saccophora are two inches in length, and it is at this 
stage of growth, that I have generally seen them. They 
feed on the leaves of Melastomse, and as, in crawling, 



Chap. V. 

the weight of so large a dwelling would be greater 
than the contained caterpillar could sustain, the insect 


Sack-bearing Caterpillar (Saccophora). 

attaches the case by one or more threads to the leaves 
or twigs near which it is feeding. 

Foraging Ants. — Many confused statements have 
been published in books of travel, and copied in Natural 
History works, regarding these ants, which appear to 
have been confounded with the Sauba, a sketch of whose 
habits has been given in the first chapter of this work. 
The Sauba is a vegetable feeder, and does not attack 
other animals ; the accounts that have been published 
regarding carnivorous ants which hunt in vast armies, 

(hap. V. FORAGING ANTS. 351 

exciting terror wherever they go, apply only to the 
Ecitons, or foraging ants, a totally different group of this 
tribe of insects. The Ecitons are called Tauoca by the 
Indians, who are always on the look-out for their armies 
when they traverse the forest, so as to avoid being at- 
tacked. I met with ten distinct species of them, nearly 
all of which have a different system of marching ; eight 
were new to science when I sent them to England. Some 
are found commonly in every part of the country, and 
one is peculiar to the open campos of Santarem ; but, as 
nearly all the species are found together at Ega, where 
the forest swarmed with their armies, I have left an 
account of the habits of the whole genus for this part 
of my narrative. The Ecitons resemble, in their habits, 
the Driver-ants of Tropical Africa ; but they have no 
close relationship with them in structure, and indeed 
belong to quite another sub-group of the ant-tribe. 

Like many other ants, the communities of Ecitons 
are composed, besides males and females, of two classes 
of workers, a large-headed (worker-major) and a small- 
headed (worker-minor) class ; the large-heads have, in 
some species, greatly lengthened jaws, the small-heads 
have jaws always of the ordinary shape ; but the two 
classes are not sharply-defined in structure and function, 
except in two of the species. There is, in all of them 
a little difference amongst the workers regarding the size 
of the head ; but in some species (E. legionis) this is not 
sufficient to cause a separation into classes, with division 
of labour ; in others (E. hamata) the jaws are so mon- 
strously lengthened in the worker-majors, that they are 
incapacitated from taking part in the labours which the 

352 ANIMALS OF EGA. Chai>. V. 

worker-minors perform ; and again, in others (E. erra- 
tica and E. vastator), the difference is so great that the 
distinction of classes becomes complete, one acting the 
part of soldiers, and the other that of workers * The 
peculiar feature in the habits of the Eciton genus is 
their hunting for prey in regular bodies, or armies. It 
is this which chiefly distinguishes them from the genus 
of common red stinging-ants (Myrmica), several species 
of which inhabit England, whose habit is to search for 
food in the usual irregular manner. All the Ecitons 
hunt in large organised bodies ; but almost every 
species has its own special manner of hunting. 

Eciton rapax. — One of the foragers, Eciton rapax, 
the giant of its genus, whose worker-majors are half-an- 
inch in length, hunts in single file through the forest. 
There is no division into classes amongst its workers, 
although the difference in size is very great, some being 
scarcely one-half the length of others. The head and 
jaws, however, are always of the same shape, and a 
gradation in size is presented from the largest to the 

* There is one numerous genus of South American ants in which 
the two classes of workers are nearly always sharply defined in struc- 
ture, not only the head, but other parts of the body, being strikingly 
different. This is the genus Cryptocerus, of which I found fifteen 
species, but in no case was able to discover the distinctive function of 
the worker-major class. The contrast between the two classes reaches 
its acme in C. discocephalus, whose worker-majors have a strange dish- 
shaped expansion on the crown of the head. All the species inhabit 
hollow twigs or branches of trees, the monstrous-headed individuals 
being always found quiescent and mixed with crowds of worker-minors. 
It cannot be considered wonderful that the function of worker-majors 
has not been discovered in exotic ants, when Huber, who devoted a 
life-time to the study of European ants, was unable to detect it in a 
common species, the Formica rufescens. 


smallest, so that all are able to take part in the common 
labours, of the colony. The chief employment of the 
species seems to be plundering the nests of a large and 
defenceless ant of another genus (Formica), whose 
mangled bodies I have often seen in their possession, as 
they were marching away. The armies of Eciton rapax 
are never very numerous. 

Eciton legionis. — Another species, E. legionis, agrees 
with E. rapax in having workers not rigidly divisible 
into two classes ; but it is much smaller in size, not 
differing greatly, in this respect, from our common 
English red ant (Myrmica rubra), which it also re- 
sembles in colour. The Eciton legionis lives in open 
places, and was seen only on the sandy campos of San- 
tarem. The movements of its hosts were, therefore, 
much more easy to observe than those of all other 
kinds, which inhabit solely the densest thickets ; its 
sting and bite, also, were less formidable than those of 
other species. The armies of E. legionis consist of 
many thousands of individuals, and move in rather 
broad columns. They are just as quick to break line, 
on being disturbed, and attack hurriedly and furiously 
any intruding object as the other Ecitons. The species 
is not a common one, and I seldom had good oppor- 
tunities of watching its habits. The first time I saw 
an army, was one evening near sunset. The column 
consisted of two trains of ants, moving in opposite 
directions ; one train empty-handed, the other laden 
with the mangled remains of insects, chiefly larvae and 
pupae of other ants. I had no difficulty in tracing the 
line to the spot from which they were conveying their 


354 ANIMALS OF EGA. Chap. V. 

booty : this was a low thicket ; the Ecitons were moving 
rapidly about a heap of dead leaves ; but as the short 
tropical twilight was deepening rapidly, and I had no 
wish to be benighted on the lonely campos, I deferred 
further examination until the next day. 

On the following morning, no trace of ants could be 
found near the place where I had seen them the pre- 
ceding day, nor were there signs of insects of any 
description in the thicket ; but at the distance of eighty 
or one hundred yards, I came upon the same army, 
engaged, evidently, on a razzia of a similar kind to that 
of the previous evening ; but requiring other resources 
of their instinct, owing to the nature of the ground. 
They were eagerly occupied, on the face of an inclined 
bank of light earth, in excavating mines, whence, from 
a depth of eight or ten inches, they were extracting the 
bodies of a bulky species of ant, of the genus Formica. 
It was curious to see them crowding round the orifices 
of the mines, some assisting their comrades to lift out 
the bodies of the Formicas, and others tearing them in 
pieces, on account of their weight being too great for a 
single Eciton ; a number of carriers seizing each a frag- 
ment, and carrying it off down the slope. On digging 
into the earth with a small trowel near the entrances of 
the mines, I found the nests of the Formicas, with grubs 
and cocoons, which the Ecitons were thus invading, at 
a depth of about eight inches from the surface. The 
eager freebooters rushed in as fast as I excavated, and 
seized the ants in my fingers as I picked them out, so 
that I had some difficulty in rescuing a few entire for 
specimens. In digging the numerous mines to get at 


their prey, the little Ecitons seemed to be divided into 
parties, one set excavating, and another set carrying 
away the grains of earth. When the shafts became 
rather deep, the mining parties had to climb up the 
sides each time they wished to cast out a pellet of 
earth ; but their work was lightened for them by com- 
rades, who stationed themselves at the mouth of the 
shaft, and relieved them of their burthens, carrying the 
particles, with an appearance of foresight which quite 
staggered me, a sufficient distance from the edge of the 
hole to prevent them from rolling in again. All the 
work seemed thus to be performed by intelligent co- 
operation amongst the host of eager little creatures ; 
but still there was not a rigid division of labour, for 
some of them, whose proceedings I watched, acted at 
one time as carriers of pellets, and at another as miners, 
and all shortly afterwards assumed the office of con- 
veyors of the spoil. 

In about two hours, all the nests of Formicae were 
rifled, though not completely, of their contents, and I 
turned towards the army of Ecitons, which were carrying 
away the mutilated remains. For some distance there 
were many separate lines of them moving along the 
slope of the bank ; but a short distance off, these all 
converged, and then formed one close and broad column, 
which continued for some sixty or seventy yards, and 
terminated at one of those large termitariums already 
described in a former chapter as being constructed of a 
material as hard as stone. The broad and compact 
column of ants moved up the steep sides of the hil- 
lock in a continued stream ; many, which had hitherto 

A A 2 



Chap. V. 

trotted along empty-handed, now turned to assist their 
comrades with their heavy loads, and the whole descended 
into a spacious gallery or mine, opening on the top of 
the termitarium. I did not try to reach the nest, which 
I supposed to lie at the bottom of the broad mine, and 
therefore in the middle of the base of the stony hillock. 

Eciton clrepanophora. — The commonest species of 
foraging ants are the Eciton hamata and E. drepano- 
phora, two kinds which resemble each other so closely 
that it requires attentive examination to distinguish 

".&jc< ' > ' " - " ' ~i 

Foraging ants (Eciton drepanophora). 

them ; yet their armies never intermingle, although 
moving* in the same woods and often crossing each 
other's tracks. The two classes of workers look, at first 
sight, quite distinct, on account of the wonderful amount 
of difference between the largest individuals of the one, 
and the smallest of the other. There are dwarfs not 
more than one-fifth of an inch in length, with small 
heads and jaws, and giants half an inch in length with 
monstrously enlarged head and jaws, all belonging to 

Chap. V. ANT- ARMIES. 357 

the same family. There is not, however, a distinct 
separation of classes, individuals existing which connect 
together the two extremes. These Ecitons are seen in 
the pathways of the forest at all places on the banks 
of the Amazons, travelling in dense columns of countless 
thousands. One or other of them is sure to be met 
with in a woodland ramble, and it is to them probably, 
that the stories we read in books on South America 
apply, of ants clearing houses of vermin, although I 
heard of no instance of their entering houses, their 
ravages being confined to the thickest parts of the 

When the pedestrian falls in with a train of these 
ants, the first signal given him is a twittering and restless 
movement of small flocks of plain-coloured birds (ant- 
thrushes) in the jungle. If this be disregarded until he 
advances a few steps further, he is sure to fall into 
trouble, and find himself suddenly attacked by numbers 
of the ferocious little creatures. They swarm up his 
legs with incredible rapidity, each one driving its pin- 
cer-like jaws into his skin, and with the purchase thus 
obtained, doubling in its tail, and stinging with all its 
might. There is no course left but to run for it ; if 
he is accompanied by natives they will be sure to 
give the alarm, crying " Tauoca ! " and scampering at 
full speed to the other end of the column of ants. The 
tenacious insects who have secured themselves to his 
legs then have to be plucked off one by one, a task 
which is generally not accomplished without pulling 
them in twain, and leaving heads and jaws sticking 
in the wounds. 

358 ANIMALS OF EGA. Chai\ V. 

The errand of the vast ant-armies is plunder, as in 
the case of Eciton legionis ; but from their moving 
always amongst dense thickets, their proceedings are 
not so easy to observe as in that species. Wherever 
they move, the whole animal world is set in commo- 
tion, and every creature tries to get out of their way. 
But it is especially the various tribes of wingless insects 
that have cause for fear, such as heavy-bodied spiders, 
ants of other species, maggots, caterpillars, larvae of 
cockroaches and so forth, all of which live under 
fallen leaves, or in decaying wood. The Ecitons do not 
mount very high on trees, and therefore the nestlings 
of birds are not much incommoded by them. The mode 
of operation of these armies, which I ascertained only 
after long-continued observation, is as follows. The 
main column, from four to six deep, moves forward in 
a given direction, clearing the ground of all animal 
matter dead or alive, and throwing off here and there, 
a thinner column to forage for a short time on the 
flanks of the main army, and re-enter it again after 
their task is accomplished. If some very rich place be 
encountered anywhere near the line of march, for 
example, a mass of rotten wood abounding in insect 
larvae, a delay takes place, and a very strong force of ants 
is concentrated upon it. The excited creatures search 
every cranny and tear in pieces all the large grubs they 
drag to light. It is curious to see them attack wasps' 
nests, which are sometimes built on low shrubs. They 
gnaw away the papery covering to get at the larvae, 
pupae, and newly-hatched wasps, and cut everything to 
tatters, regardless of the infuriated owners which are 

Chap. V. ORDER OF MARCH. 359 

flying about them. In bearing off their spoil in frag- 
ments, the pieces are apportioned to the earners with 
some degree of regard to fairness of load : the dwarfs 
taking the smallest pieces, and the strongest fellows 
with small heads the heaviest portions. Sometimes two 
ants join together in carrying one piece, but the worker- 
majors with their unwieldy and distorted jaws, are 
incapacitated from taking any part in the labour. The 
armies never march far on a beaten path, but seem to 
prefer the entangled thickets where it is seldom pos- 
sible to follow them. I have traced an army some- 
times for half a mile or more, but was never able to 
find one that had finished its day's course and returned 
to its hive. Indeed, I never met with a hive ; whenever 
the Ecitons were seen, they were always on the march. 
I thought one day, at Villa Nova, that I had come 
upon a migratory horde of this indefatigable ant. The 
place was a tract of open ground near the river side, just 
outside the edge of the forest, and surrounded by rocks 
and shrubbery. A dense column of Ecitons was seen 
extending from the rocks on one side of the little haven, 
traversing the open space, and ascending the opposite 
declivity. The length of the procession was from sixty 
to seventy yards, and yet neither van nor rear was 
visible. All were moving in one and the same direction, 
except a few individuals on the outside of the column, 
which were running rearward, trotting along for a short 
distance, and then turning again to follow the same 
course as the main body. But these rearward movements 
were going on continually from one end to the other of 
the line, and there was every appearance of their being a 

360 ANIMALS OF EGA. Chap. V. 

means of keeping up a common understanding amongst 
all the members of the army, for the retrograding 
ants stopped very often for a moment to touch one or 
other of their ownward-moving comrades with their 
antennae ; a proceeding which has been noticed in other 
ants, and supposed to be their mode of conveying intel- 
ligence. When I interfered with the column or ab- 
stracted an individual from it, news of the disturbance 
was very quickly communicated to a distance of several 
yards towards the rear, and the column at that point 
commenced retreating. All the small-headed workers 
carried in their jaws a little cluster of white maggots, 
which I thought, at the time, might be young larvae of 
their own colony, but afterwards found reason to con- 
clude were the grubs of some other species whose nests 
they had been plundering, the procession being most 
likely not a migration, but a column on a marauding 

The position of the large-headed individuals in the 
marching column was rather curious. There was one 
of these extraordinary fellows to about a score of the 
smaller class ; none of them carried anything in their 
mouths, but all trotted along empty-handed and out- 
side the column, at pretty regular intervals from each 
other, like subaltern officers in a marching regiment 
of soldiers. It was easy to be tolerably exact in this 
observation, for their shining white heads made them 
very conspicuous amongst the rest, bobbing up and 
down as the column passed over the inequalities of the 
road. I did not see them change their position, or take 
any notice of their small-headed comrades marching 


iii the column, and when I disturbed the line, they did 
not prance forth or show fight so eagerly as the others. 
These large-headed members of the community have 
been considered by some authors as a soldier class, 
like the similarly-armed caste in Termites ; but I found 
no proof of this, at least in the present species, as they 
always seemed to be rather less pugnacious than the 
worker-minors, and their distorted jaws disabled them 
from fastening on a plane surface like the skin of an 
attacking animal. I am inclined, however, to think that 
they may act, in a less direct way, as protectors of 
the community, namely, as indigestible morsels to the 
flocks of ant-thrushes which follow the marching columns 
of these Ecitons, and are the most formidable enemies 
of the species. It is possible that the hooked and 
twisted jaws of the large-headed class may be effective 
weapons of annoyance when in the gizzards or stomachs 
of these birds, but I unfortunately omitted to ascertain 
whether this was really the fact. 

The life of these Ecitons is not all work, for I fre- 
quently saw them very leisurely employed in a way 
that looked like recreation. When this happened, the 
place was always a sunny nook in the forest. The 
main column of the army and the branch columns, at 
these times, were in their ordinary relative positions ; 
but, instead of pressing forward eagerly, and plundering 
right and left, they seemed to have been all smitten 
with a sudden fit of laziness. Some were walking 
slowly about, others were brushing their antennae with 
their fore-feet ; but the drollest sight was their cleaning 
one another. Here and there an ant was seen stretch- 

362 ANIMALS OF EGA. Chap. V. 

ing forth first one leg and then another, to be brushed 
or washed by one or more of its comrades, who per- 
formed the task by passing the limb between the jaws 
and the tongue, finishing by giviug the antennae a 
friendly wipe. It was a curious spectacle, and one well 
calculated to increase one's amazement at the similarity 
between the instinctive actions of ants and the acts of 
rational beings, a similarity which must have been 
brought about by two different processes of develop- 
ment of the primary qualities of mind. The actions of 
these ants looked like simple indulgence in idle amuse- 
ment. Have these little creatures, then, an excess of 
energy beyond what is required for labours absolutely 
necessary to the welfare of their species,^ and do they 
thus expend it in mere sport iveness, like young lambs 
or kittens, or in idle whims like rational beings \ It 
is probable that these hours of relaxation and cleaning 
may be indispensable to the effective performance of 
their harder labours, but whilst looking at them, the 
conclusion that the ants were engaged merely in play 
was irresistible. 

JEciton prcedator. — This is a small dark-reddish spe- 
cies, very similar to the common red stinging-ant of 
England. It differs from all other Ecitons in its habit 
of hunting, not in columns, but in dense phalanxes 
consisting of myriads of individuals, and was first met 
with at Ega, where it is very common. Nothing in 
insect movements is more striking than the rapid march 
of these large and compact bodies. Wherever they pass 
all the rest of the animal world is thrown into a state 
of alarm. They stream along the ground and climb to 

Chap. V. BLIND ANTS. 363 

the summits of all the lower trees, searching every leaf 
to its apex, and whenever they encounter a mass of de- 
caying vegetable matter, where booty is plentiful, they 
concentrate, like other Ecitons, all their forces upon 
it, the dense phalanx of shining and quickly-moving 
bodies, as it spreads over the surface, looking like a 
flood of dark-red liquid. They soon penetrate every 
part of the confused heap, and then, gathering together 
again in marching order, onward they move. All soft- 
bodied and inactive insects fall an easy prey to them, 
and, like other Ecitons, they tear their victims in pieces 
for facility of carriage. A phalanx of this species, when 
passing over a tract of smooth ground, occupies a space 
of from four to six square yards ; on examining the ants 
closely they are seen to move, not altogether in one 
straightforward direction, but in variously-spreading 
contiguous columns, now separating a little from the 
general mass, now re-uniting with it. The margins of 
the phalanx spread out at times like a cloud of skir- 
mishers from the flanks of an army. I was never able 
to find the hive of this species. 

Blind Ecitons. — I will now give a short account of 
the blind species of Eciton. None of the foregoing 
kinds have eyes of the facetted or compound structure 
such as are usual in insects, and which ordinary ants 
(Formica) are furnished with, but all are provided with 
organs of vision composed each of a single lens. Con- 
necting them with the utterly blind species of the genus, 
is a very stout-limbed Eciton, the E. crassicornis, whose 
eyes are sunk in rather deep sockets. This ant goes 
on foraging expeditions like the rest of its tribe, and 



Chap. V. 

attacks even the nests of other stinging species (Myr- 
mica), but it avoids the light, moving always in conceal- 
ment under leaves and fallen branches. When its 
columns have to cross a cleared space, the ants construct 
a temporary covered way with granules of earth, arched 
over, and holding together mechanically ; under this 
the procession passes in secret, the indefatigable crea- 
tures repairing their arcade as fast as breaches are made 
in it. 

Next in order comes the Eciton vastator, which has 
no eyes, although the collapsed sockets are plainly 

Foraging ants (Eciton erratica) constructing a covered road— Soldiers sallying 
out on being disturbed. 

visible ; and, lastly, the Eciton erratica, in which both 
sockets and eyes have disappeared, leaving only a faint 
ring to mark the place where they are usually situated. 
The armies of E. vastator and E. erratica move, as far 
as I could learn, wholly under covered roads, the ants 
constructing them gradually but rapidly as they ad- 
vance. The column of foragers pushes forward step 


by step, under the protection of these covered passages, 
through the thickets, and on reaching a rotting log, or 
other promising hunting-ground, pour into the crevices 
in search of booty. I have traced their arcades, occa- 
sionally, for a distance of one or two hundred yards ; 
the grains of earth are taken from the soil over which 
the column is passing, and are fitted together without 
cement. It is this last-mentioned feature that dis- 
tinguishes them from the similar covered roads made 
by Termites, who use their glutinous saliva to cement 
the grains together. The blind Ecitons, working in 
numbers, build up simultaneously the sides of their 
convex arcades, and contrive, in a surprising manner, 
to approximate them and fit in the key-stones without 
letting the loose uncemented structure fall to pieces. 
There was a very clear division of labour between the 
two classes of neuters in these blind species. The large- 
headed class, although not possessing monstrously- 
lengthened jaws like the worker-majors in E. hamata 
and E. drepanophora, are rigidly defined in structure 
from the small-headed class, and act as soldiers, de- 
fending the working community (like soldier Termites) 
against all comers. Whenever I made a breach in one 
of their covered ways, all the ants underneath were 
set in commotion, but the worker-minors remained 
behind to repair the damage, whilst the large-heads 
issued forth in a most menacing manner, rearing their 
heads and snapping their jaws with an expression of 
the fiercest rage and defiance. 

The armies of all Ecitons are accompanied by small 
swarms of a kind of two-winged fly, the females of 

366 ANIMALS OF EGA. Chap. V. 

which have a very long ovipositor, and which belongs 
to the genus Stylogaster (family Conopsidge). These 
swarms hover with rapidly-vibrating wings, at a height 
of a foot or less from the soil over which the Ecitons 
are moving, and occasionally one of the flies darts with 
great quickness towards the ground. I found they 
were not occupied in transfixing ants, although they 
have a long needle-shaped proboscis, which suggests 
that conclusion, but most probably in depositing their 
eggs in the soft bodies of insects, which the ants were 
driving away from their hiding-places. These eggs 
would hatch after the ants had placed their booty in 
their hive as food for their young. If this supposition be 
correct, the Stylogaster would offer a case of parasitism 
of quite a novel kind. Flies of the genus Tachinus 
exhibit a similar instinct, for they lie in wait near the 
entrances to bees' nests, and slip their eggs into the food 
which the deluded bees are in the act of conveying for 
their young. 



Steamboat travelling on the Amazons — Passengers — Tunantins — Caish- 
ana Indians — The Jutahi — Indian tribes on the Jutahi and the 
Juriia — The Sapo — Maraud" Indians — Fonte Boa — Journey to St. 
Paulo— Tucuna Indians — Illness — Descent to Para" — Changes at 
Para — Departure for England. 

November 7th, 1856. — Embarked on the Upper Ama- 
zons steamer, the " Tabatinga," for an excursion to 
Tunantins, a small semi-Indian settlement, lying 240 
miles beyond Ega. The Tabatinga is an iron boat of 
about 170 tons burthen, built at Rio de Janeiro, and 
fitted with engines of fifty horse power. The saloon, 
with berths on each side for twenty passengers, is above 
deck, and open at both ends to admit a free current of 
air. The captain, or " commandante," was a lieutenant 
in the Brazilian navy, a man of polished, sailor-like 
address, and a rigid disciplinarian ; his name, Senhor 
Nunes Mello Cardozo. I was obliged, as usual, to take 
with me a stock of all articles of food, except meat and 
fish, for the time I intended to be absent (three months) ; 
and the luggage, including hammocks, cooking uten- 
sils, crockery, and so forth, formed fifteen large pack- 
ages. One volume consisted of a mosquito tent, an 


article I had not yet had occasion to use on the river, 
but which was indispensable in all excursions beyond 
Ega, every person, man woman and child, requiring 
one, as without it existence would be scarcely possible. 
My tent was about eight feet long and five feet broad, 
and was made of coarse calico in an oblong shape, with 
sleeves at each end through which to pass the cords of a 
hammock. Under this shelter, which is fixed up every 
evening before sundown, one can read and write, or swing- 
in one's hammock during the long hours which intervene 
before bed-time, and feel one's sense of comfort increased 
by having cheated the thirsty swarms of mosquitoes 
which fill the chamber. 

We were four days on the road. The pilot, a mame- 
luco of Ega, whom I knew very well, exhibited a know- 
ledge of the river and powers of endurance which were 
quite remarkable. He stood all this time at his post, 
with the exception of three or four hours in the middle 
of each day, when he was relieved by a young man who 
served as apprentice, and he knew the breadth and 
windings of the channel, and the extent of all the 
yearly-shifting shoals from the Kio Negro to Loreto, a 
distance of more than a thousand miles. There was no 
slackening of speed at night, except during the brief 
but violent storms which occasionally broke upon us, 
and then the engines were stopped by the command of 
Lieutenant Nunes, sometimes against the wish of the 
pilot. The nights were often so dark that we pas- 
sengers on the poop deck could not discern the hardy 
fellow on the bridge, but the steamer drove on at full 
speed, men being stationed on the look-out at the prow, 

Chap. VI. PASSENGERS. 369 

to watch for floating logs, and one man placed to pass 
orders to the helmsman ; the keel scraped against a 
sand-bank only once during the passage. 

The passengers were chiefly Peruvians, mostly thin, 
anxious, Yankee-looking men, who were returning home 
to the cities of Moyobamba and Chachapoyas, on the 
Andes, after a trading trip to the Brazilian towns on 
the Atlantic sea-board, whither they had gone six 
months previously, with cargoes of Panama hats to ex- 
change for European wares. These hats are made of 
the young leaflets of a palm-tree, by the Indians and 
half-caste people who inhabit the eastern parts of Peru. 
They form almost the only article of export from Peru 
by way of the Amazons, but the money value is very 
great compared with the bulk of the goods, as the hats 
are generally of very fine quality, and cost from twelve 
shillings to six pounds sterling each ; some traders 
bring down two or three thousand pounds' worth, folded 
into small compass in their trunks. The return cargoes 
consist of hardware, crockery, glass, and other bulky or 
heavy goods, but not of cloth, which, being of light 
weight, can be carried across the Andes from the ports 
on the Pacific to the eastern parts of Peru. All kinds 
of European cloth can be obtained at a much cheaper 
rate by this route than by the more direct way of the 
Amazons, the import duties of Peru being, as I was 
told, lower than those of Brazil, and the difference 
not being counter-balanced by increased expense of 
transit, on account of weight, over the passes of the 

There was a great lack of amusement on board. The 



table was very well served, professed cooks being em- 
ployed in these Amazonian steamers, and fresh meat 
insured by keeping on deck a supply of live bullocks 
and fowls, which are purchased whenever there is an 
opportunity on the road. The river scenery was similar 
to that already described as presented between the 
Rio Negro and Ega : long reaches of similar aspect, with 
two long, low lines of forest, varied sometimes with cliffs 
of red clay, appearing one after the other ; an horizon of 
water and sky on some days limiting the view both up 
stream and down. We travelled, however, always near 
the bank, and, for my part, I was never weary of admiring 
the picturesque grouping and variety of trees, and the 
varied mantles of creeping plants which clothed the 
green wall of forest every step of the way. With the 
exception of a small village called Fonte Boa, retired 
from the main river, where we stopped to take in fire- 
wood, and which I shall have to speak of presently, we 
saw no human habitation the whole of the distance. 
The mornings were delightfully cool ; coffee was served 
at sunrise, and a bountiful breakfast at ten o'clock ; 
after that hour the heat rapidly increased until it became 
almost unbearable ; how the engine-drivers and firemen 
stood it without exhaustion I cannot tell ; it diminished 
after four o'clock in the afternoon, about which time din- 
ner-bell rung, and the evenings were always pleasant. 

A few miles below Tunantins, and to the west of the 
most westerly mouth of the Japura, on the same side 
of the Solimoens, I saw, to my surprise, a bed of stra- 
tified rock, apparently a fine-grained sandstone, exposed 
on the banks of the river. It was elevated not more 

Chap. VI. TUNANTINS. 371 

than three or four feet above the present level of the 
river, which was now, the season having been an un- 
usually wet one, about half full. I had not seen rocks 
of any kind on the river banks since leaving Manaca- 
purti, 450 miles distant, and this bed seems to have 
escaped the notice of Spix and Poeppig. The bank, at 
the foot of which alone the rock was visible, was con- 
nected with a tract of land lying higher than the purely 
alluvial district that extends eastward to a distance 
of several hundred miles, and was clothed with the 
rounded, dark -green forest which is distinctive of the 
terra firmas of the Amazons valley. The slightly 
elevated land continues, with scarcely a break, to the 
mouth of the Tunantins, which we entered, after making 
a long circuit to avoid a shoal, on the 11th of November. 

November 11th to SOth. — The Tunantins is a sluggish 
black-water stream, about sixty miles in length, and 
towards its mouth from 100 to 200 yards in breadth. 
The vegetation on its banks has a similar aspect to 
that of the Rio Negro, the trees having small foliage of 
a sombre hue, and the dark piles of greenery resting on 
the surface of the inky water. The village is situated 
on the left bank, about a mile from the mouth of the 
river, and contains twenty habitations, nearly all of 
which are merely hovels, built of lath-work and mud. 
The short streets, after rain, are almost impassable, on 
account of the many puddles, and are choked up with 
weeds, — leguminous shrubs, and scarlet-flowered ascle- 
pias. The atmosphere in such a place, hedged in as it is 
by the lofty forest, and surrounded by swamps, is always 

B B 2 


close, warm, and reeking ; and the hum and chirp of 
insects and birds cause a continual din. The small 
patch of weedy ground around the village swarms with 
plovers, sandpipers, striped herons, and scissor-tailed fly- 
catchers ; and alligators are always seen floating lazily 
on the surface of the river in front of the houses. 

On landing, I presented myself to Senhor Paulo Bitan- 
court, a good-natured half-caste, director of Indians 
of the neighbouring river Issa, who quickly ordered 
a small house to be cleared for me. This exhilarating 
abode contained only one room, the walls of which 
were disfigured by large and ugly patches of mud, the 
work of white ants. The floor was the bare earth, dirty 
and damp ; the wretched chamber was darkened by 
a sheet of calico being stretched over the windows, 
a plan adopted here to keep out the Pium-flies, which 
float about in all shady places like thin clouds of smoke, 
rendering all repose impossible in the daytime wher- 
ever they can effect an entrance. My baggage was soon 
landed, and before the steamer departed I had taken 
gun, insect-net, and game-bag, to make a preliminary 
exploration of my new locality. 

I remained here nineteen days, and, considering the 
shortness of the time, made a very good collection of 
monkeys, birds, and insects. A considerable number of 
the species " (especially of insects) were different from 
those of the four other stations, which I examined on 
the south side of the Solimoens, and as many of these 
were " representative forms " * of others found on the 
opposite banks of the broad river, I concluded that 

* Species or races which take the place of other allied species or races. 


there could have been no land connection between the 
two shores during, at least, the recent geological period. 
This conclusion is confirmed by the case of the Uakari 
monkeys, described in the last chapter. All these 
strongly modified local races of insects confined to one 
side of the Solimoens (like the Uakaris), are such as 
have not been able to cross a wide treeless space such as 
a river. The acquisition which pleased me most, in this 
place, was a new species of butterfly (a Catagramma), 
which has since been named C. excelsior, owing to its 
surpassing in size and beauty all the previously-known 
species of its singularly beautiful genus. The upper 
surface of the wings is of the richest blue, varying in 
shade with the play of light, and on each side is a broad 
curved stripe of an orange colour. It is a bold flyer, 
and is not confined, as I afterwards found, to the 
northern side of the river, for I once saw a specimen 
amidst a number of richly-coloured butterflies, flying 
about the deck of the steamer when we were anchored 
off Fonte Boa, 200 miles lower down the river. 

With the exception of three mameluco families and 
a stray Portuguese trader, all the inhabitants of the 
village and neighbourhood are semi-civilised Indians of 
the Shumana and Passe tribes. The forests of the 
Tunantins, however, are inhabited by a tribe of wild 
Indians called Caishanas, who resemble much, in their 
social condition and manners, the debased Muras of 
the Lower Amazons, and have, like them, shown no 
aptitude for civilised life in any shape. Their huts 
commence at the distance of an hour's walk from the 
village, along gloomy and narrow forest-paths. The 


territory of the tribe extends to the Moco, an affluent 
of the Japura, with which there is communication by- 
land higher up the Tunantins, the two rivers approxi- 
mating within about fifteen miles. From what I saw 
nd heard of the Caishanas, I was led to the conclusion 
that they had no close genealogical relationship with the 
Muras, but were more likely a degraded section of the 
Shumana, or some other neighbouring tribe. Scarcely 
any of them had the coarse features, the large trunk, 
broad chest, thick arms, and protuberant abdomen of 
the Muras, and their features, although presenting a 
wild, unstead}^, and distrustful expression like the Muras, 
were often as finely shaped as those of the Shumanas 
and Passes. Senhor Bitancourt told me their " girio," or 
tribal language, had much resemblance to that of the 
Shumanas. I have before shown how scattered hordes 
have segregrated from their original tribes, and by long 
isolation, themselves become tribes, acquiring totally 
different languages, habits, and, to a lesser extent, 
different corporeal structure. 

My first and only visit to a Caishana dwelling, was 
accidental. One day, having extended my walk further 
than usual, and followed one of the forest-roads until 
it became a mere picada, or hunters' track, I came 
suddenly upon a well-trodden pathway, bordered on 
each side with Lycopodia of the most elegant shapes, the 
tips of the fronds stretching almost like tendrils down the 
little earthy slopes which formed the edge of the path. 
The road, though smooth, was narrow and dark, and in 
many places blocked up by trunks of felled trees, which 
had been apparently thrown across by the timid Indians 


on purpose to obstruct the way to their habitations. 
Half-a-mile of this shady road brought me to a small 
open space on the banks of a brook or creek, on the 
skirts of which stood a conical hut with a very low 
doorway. There was also an open shed, with stages 
made of split palm-stems, and a number of large wooden 
troughs. Two or three dark-skinned children, with a 
man and woman, were in the shed ; but, immediately 
on espying me, all of them ran to the hut, bolting 
through the little doorway like so many wild animals 
scared into their burrows. A few moments after, the 
man put his head out with a look of great distrust ; 
but, on my making the most friendly gestures I could 
think of, he came forth with the children. They were 
all smeared with black mud and paint ; the only cloth- 
ing of the elders was a kind of apron made of the inner 
bark of the sapucaya-tree, and the savage aspect of the 
man was heightened by his hair hanging over his fore- 
head to the eyes. I stayed about two hours in the 
neighbourhood, the children gaining sufficient confi- 
dence to come and help me to search for insects. The 
only weapon used by the Caishanas is the blow-pipe, 
and this is employed only in shooting animals for food. 
They are not a warlike people, like most of the neigh- 
bouring tribes on the Japura and Issa. Their utensils 
consist of earthenware cooking-vessels, wooden stools, 
drinking-cups of gourds, and the usual apparatus for 
making farinha, of which they produce a considerable 
quantity, selling the surplus to traders at Tunantins. 

The whole tribe of Caishanas does not exceed in 
number 400 souls. None of them are baptised Indians, 


and they do not dwell in villages, like the more ad- 
vanced sections of the Tupi stock ; but each family has 
its own solitary hut. They are quite harmless, do not 
practise tattooing, or perforate their ears and noses in 
any way. Their social condition is of a low type, very 
little removed, indeed, from that of the brutes living in 
the same forests. They do not appear to obey any 
common chief, and I could not make out that they had 
Pajes, or medicine-men, those rudest beginnings of a 
priest class. Symbolical or masked dances, and cere- 
monies in honour of the Jurupari, or demon, customs 
which prevail amongst all the surrounding tribes, are 
unknown to the Caishanas. There is amongst them a 
trace of festival-keeping ; but the only ceremony used 
is the drinking of cashiri beer, and fermented liquors 
made of India'h-com, bananas, and so forth. These 
affairs, however, are conducted in a degenerate style, for 
they do not drink to intoxication, or sustain the orgies 
for several days and nights in succession, like the Juris, 
Passes, and Tucunas. The men play a musical instru- 
ment, made of pieces of stem of the arrow-grass cut in 
different lengths and arranged like pan-pipes. With 
this they while away whole hours, lolling in ragged bast 
hammocks slung in their dark, smoky huts. The Tu- 
nantins people say that the Caishanas have persecuted 
the wild animals and birds to such an extent near their 
settlements that there is now quite a scarcity of animal 
food. If they kill a Toucan, it is considered an import- 
ant event, and the bird is made to serve as a meal for a 
score or more persons. They boil the meat in earthen- 
ware kettles filled with Tucupi sauce, and eat it with 


beiju, or mandioca-cakes. The women are not allowed 
to taste of the meat, but forced to content themselves 
with sopping pieces of cake in the liquor. 

I obtained a little information here concerning the 
inhabitants of the banks of the Issa, a stream 700 miles 
in length, which, having its sources at the foot of the 
volcanoes near Pasto, in New Granada, enters the 
Amazons about twenty miles to the west of Tunantins. 
I once met a mulatto of Pasto and his wife, who had 
descended this river from its source to its mouth. They 
lost all their luggage in passing the cataracts ; but 
found, after the first fifteen days of their journey (about 
150 miles), no more obstructions to navigation down to 
the Solimoens. It is not so unhealthy a river as the 
Japura ; but the natives are much less friendly to the 
whites than those inhabiting that river. To the distance 
of about 400 miles from Tunantins, its banks are now 
almost destitute of inhabitants. A few half-civilised 
and peaceable Passes, Juris, and Shumanas, are settled 
near its mouth ; but higher up the Mariete's occupy the 
domain, and towards the frontiers of New Granada, 
Miranhas are the only Indians met with, whose territory 
extends overland thence to the Japura. The Marietes 
and Miranhas have been for many years constantly at 
war, and the depopulation of the country is owing 
partly to this circumstance, and partly to diseases in- 
troduced by the whites. These wars are not carried 
on by the whole of each tribe at once, but in a series 
of partial hostilities between separate hordes or clans. 
The hordes of each nation live apart ; indeed these 
tribes have no villages, but are scattered in families 


over the country, and are connected together by no 
other ties than a common name and the tradition of 
general enmity towards the hordes bearing the name of 
the other nation. Moreover, hordes belonging to the 
same tribe or nation sometimes quarrel with each other. 
These petty wars originate in this fashion : a member of 
a family falls ill, and his or her relations, or the rest of 
the horde, get hold of the idea that the Paje of a neigh- 
bouring horde has caused the illness by witchcraft ; all 
then assemble for a grand drinking-bout, during which 
they excite each other by reciting their wrongs. The 
armed men meet on the following day, and march by 
intricate paths or circuitous streams, so as to take their 
enemies by surprise, and then pounce upon them with 
loud shouts, killing all they can, and burning their huts 

to the ground. 

November 30th. — I left Tunantins in a trading 
schooner of eighty tons burthen belonging to Senhor 
Batalha, a tradesman of Ega, which had been out all 
the summer collecting produce, and was commanded 
by a friend of mine, a young Paraense, named Fran- 
cisco Raiol. We arrived, on the 3rd of December, at 
the mouth of the Jutahi, a considerable stream about 
half a mile broad, and flowing with a very sluggish 
current. This is one of a series of six rivers, from 400 
to 1000 miles in length, which flow from the south- 
west through unknown lands lying between Bolivia and 
the "Upper Amazons, and enter this latter river between 
the Madeira and the Ucayali. The sources of none 
of them are known. The longest of the six is the 


Purus, the first met with in ascending the Solimoens. 
I gleaned very little information concerning the Jutahi, ' 
which was not visited much by traders, but, as far as I 
could learn, its banks were peopled by nearly the same 
wild tribes as those of the next parallel stream, the Jurua, 
about which I gathered a good deal from my friend 
John da Cunha, who ascended it as far as it was navi- 
gable on a trading expedition. The Jurua flows wholly 
through a flat country covered with light-green forests, 
and its waters are tinged ochreous, by the quantity of 
clayey and earthy matter held in suspension, like those 
of the Solimoens. At the end of the navigation there 
is a road by land to the Purus, the two great streams 
being there only about thirty or forty miles distant 
from each other. The Jutahi must be a much shorter 
river than the Jurua, for, as Senhor Cunha told me, 
the Conibos, an advanced tribe of agricultural Indians 
living on the banks of the Jurua near its source, have 
at that point a direct road by land to the Ucayali, 
which must pass to the south of the sources both of 
the Jutahi and Jauari, the two livers lying between the 
Jurua and Ucayali. Eight distinct tribes of Indians 
inhabit the banks of the Jurua, all of which, except the 
most remote (the Conibos) pass overland to the Jutahi * 
Each tribe has its peculiar language, and to a great 
extent, also its peculiar customs. I heard, however, of 
no new feature in Indian character or customs, except 

* The order in which they are met with on ascending the river is as 
follows : — 1. Marauds. — 2. Catauishis. — 3. Canaraares. — 4. Araiias. — 

5. Collinas (rivers Shiruan and Invira, affluents of the right bank). — 

6. Catoquinos (R. Shiruan). — 7. Naiias. — 8. Conibos, with their hordes 
Mauislns, Zaminaiias, and true Conibos. 


that the Conibos practise the art of knitting cotton 
cloth, which they fashion into long cloaks. The cloth, 
of which I saw many specimens, forms a regular, durable, 
and not inelegant web of tolerably close texture. The 
Conibos, like the Indians of Peru, do not grow the 
poisonous kind of mandioca, but simply the sweet kind, 
or Macasheira (Manihot Aypi). I estimate the length 
of the Jutahi at about 400 miles, and that of the Jurua 
at 600 miles. 

We remained at anchor four days within the mouth 
of the Sapo, a small tributary of the Jutahi flowing 
from the south-east ; Senhor Raiol having to send an 
igarite to the Cupatana, a large tributary some few miles 
further up the river, to fetch a cargo of salt fish. During 
this time we made several excursions in the montaria 
to various places in the neighbourhood. Our longest 
trip was to some Indian houses, a distance of fifteen 
or eighteen miles up the Sapo, a journey made with 
one Indian paddler, and occupying a whole day. The 
stream is not more than forty or fifty yards broad ; its 
waters are darker in colour than those of the Jutahi, 
and flow, as in all these small rivers, partly under shade 
between two lofty walls of forest. We passed, in ascend- 
ing, seven habitations, most of them hidden in the 
luxuriant foliage of the banks ; their sites being known 
only by small openings in the compact wall of forest, 
and the presence of a canoe or two tied up in little 
shady ports. The inhabitants are chiefly Indians of 
the Maraua tribe, whose original territory comprised all 
the small by-streams lying between the Jutahi and 
the Jurua, near the mouths of both these great tribu- 

Chap. VI. MARAUi INDIANS. 381 

taries. They live in separate families or small hordes ; 
have no common chief, and are considered as a tribe 
little disposed to adopt civilised customs or be friendly 
with the whites. One of the houses belonged to a Juri 
family, and we saw the owner, an erect, noble-looking 
old fellow, tattooed, as customary with his tribe, in a 
large patch over the middle of his face, fishing under 
the shade of a colossal tree in his port with hook and 
line. He saluted us in the usual grave and courteous 
manner of the better sort of Indians as we passed by. 

We reached the last house, or rather two houses, 
about ten -o'clock, and spent there several hours during 
the great heat of mid-day. The houses, which stood 
on a high clayey bank, were of quadrangular shape, 
partly open like sheds, and partly enclosed with rude 
mud-walls, forming one or more chambers. The in- 
habitants, a few families of Marauas, comprising about 
thirty persons, received us in a frank, smiling manner : 
a reception which may have been due to Senhor Raiol 
being an old acquaintance and somewhat of a favourite. 
None of them were tattooed ; but the men had great 
holes pierced in their ear-lobes, in which they insert 
plugs of wood, and their lips were drilled with smaller 
holes. One of the younger men, a fine strapping fellow 
nearly six feet high, with a large aquiline nose, who 
seemed to wish to be particularly friendly with me, 
showed me the use of these lip-holes, by fixing a 
number of little white sticks in them, and then twisting 
his mouth about and going through a pantomime to 
represent defiance in the presence of an enemy. Nearly 
all the people were disfigured by dark blotches on the 


skin, the effect of a cutaneous disease very prevalent 
in this part of the country. The face of one old man 
was completly blackened, and looked as though it had 
been smeared with black lead, the blotches having 
coalesced to form one large patch. Others were simply 
mottled ; the black spots were hard and rough, but not 
scaly, and were margined with rings of a colour paler 
than the natural hue of the skin. I had seen many 
Indians and a few half-castes at Tunantins, and after- 
wards saw others at Fonte Boa blotched in the same 
way. The disease would seem to be contagious, for I 
was told that a Portuguese trader became disfigured 
with it after cohabiting some years with an Indian 
woman. It is curious that, although prevalent in 
many places on the Solimoens, no resident of Ega 
exhibited signs of the disease : the early explorers of 
the country, on noticing spotted skins to be very fre- 
quent in certain localities, thought they were peculiar 
to a few tribes of Indians. The younger children in 
these houses on the Sapo were free from spots ; but two 
or three of them, about ten years of age, showed signs 
of their commencement in rounded yellowish patches 
on the skin, and these appeared languid ,and sickly, 
although the blotched adults seemed not to be affected 
in their general health. A middle-aged half-caste at 
Fonte Boa told me he had cured himself of the disorder 
by strong doses of salsaparilla ; the black patches had 
caused the hair of his beard and eyebrows to fall off, 
but it had grown again since his cure. 

When my tall friend saw me, after dinner, collecting 
insects along the paths near the houses, he approached, 


and, taking me by the arm, led me to a mandioca shed, 
making signs, as he could speak very little Tupi, that 
he had something to show. I was not a little surprised 
when, having mounted the girao, or stage of split palm- 
stems, and taken down an object transfixed to a post, 
he exhibited, with an air of great mystery, a large 
chrysalis suspended from a leaf, which he placed care- 
fully in my hands, saying, " Pana-pana curl " (Tupi : 
butterfly by-and-by). Thus I found that the metamor- 
phoses of insects were known to these savages ; but 
being unable to talk with my new friend, I could not 
ascertain what ideas such a phenomenon had given rise 
to in his mind. The good fellow did not leave my side 
during the remainder of our stay ; but, thinking appa- 
rently that I had come here for information, he put 
himself to considerable trouble to give me all he could. 
He made a quantity of Hypadu powder, that I might 
see the process ; going about the task with much action 
and ceremony, as though he were a conjuror performing 
some wonderful trick. 

We left these friendly people about four o'clock in 
the afternoon, and in descending the umbrageous river, 
stopped, about half-way down, at another house built in 
one of the most charming situations I had yet seen in 
this country. A clean, narrow, sandy pathway led from 
the shady port to the house, through a tract of forest of 
indescribable luxuriance. The buildings stood on an 
eminence in the middle of a level cleared space ; the firm 
sandy soil, smooth as a floor, forming a broad terrace 
around them. The owner was a semi-civilised Indian, 
named Manoel; a dull, taciturn fellow, who, together 


with his wife and children, seemed by no means pleased 
at being intruded on in their solitude. The family must 
have been very industrious ; for the plantations were 
very extensive, and included a little of almost all kinds 
of cultivated tropical productions : fruit trees, vegetables, 
and even flowers for ornament. The silent old man had 
surely a fine appreciation of the beauties of nature : for 
the site he had chosen commanded a view of surprising 
magnificence over the summits of the forest ; and, to give 
finish to the prospect, he had planted a large quantity 
of banana trees in the foreground, thus concealing 
the charred and dead stumps which would otherwise 
have marred the effect of the rolling sea of greenery. 
The only information I could get out of Manoel was, 
that large flocks of richly-coloured birds came down in 
the fruit season and despoiled his trees. I collected here 
a great number of insects, including several new species. 
The sun set over the tree-tops before we left this little 
Eden, and the remainder of our journey was made 
slowly and pleasantly, under the chequered shades of 
the river banks, by the light of the moon. 

December 7th. — Arrived at Fonte Boa ; a wretched, 
muddy, and dilapidated village, situated two or three 
miles within the mouth of a narrow by-stream called 
the Cayhiar-hy, which runs almost as straight as an 
artificial canal between the village and the main Ama- 
zons. The character of the vegetation and soil here was 
different from that of all other localities I had hitherto 
examined ; I had planned, therefore, to devote six 
weeks to the place. Having written beforehand to one 


of the principal inhabitants, Senhor Venancio, a house 
was ready for me on landing. The only recommenda- 
tion of the dwelling was its coolness. It was, in fact, 
rather damp ; the plastered walls bore a crop of green 
mould, and a slimy moisture oozed through the black, 
dirty floor ; the rooms were large, but lighted by 
miserable little holes in place of windows. The village 
is built on a clayey plateau, and the ruinous houses are 
arranged round a large square, which is so choked up 
with tangled bushes that it is quite impassable, the 
lazy inhabitants having allowed the fine open space to 
relapse into jungle. The stiff clayey eminence is worn 
into deep gullies which slope towards the river, and 
the ascent from the port in rainy weather is so slippery 
that one is obliged to crawl up to the streets on all 
fours. A large tract of ground behind the place is clear 
of forest, but this, as well as the streets and gardens, is 
covered with a dense, tough carpet of shiubs, having the 
same wiry nature as our common heath. Beneath its 
deceitful covering the soil is always moist and soft, and 
in the wet season the whole is converted into a glutinous 
mud swamp. There is a very pretty church in one 
corner of the square, but in the rainy months of the 
year (nine out of the twelve) the place of worship is 
almost inaccessible to the inhabitants on account of the 
mud, the only means of getting to it being by hugging 
closely the walls and palings, and so advancing side- 
ways step by step. 

I remained in this delectable place until the 2oth of 
January, 1857. Fonte Boa, in addition to its other 
amenities, has the reputation throughout the country of 
vol. ir. , c c 


being the head-quarters of mosquitoes, and it fully 
deserves the title. They are more annoying in the 
houses by day than by night, for they swarm in the dark 
and damp rooms, keeping, in the daytime, near the floor, 
and settling by half-dozens together, on the legs. At 
night the calico tent is a sufficient protection ; but 
this is obliged to be folded every morning, and in 
letting it down before sunset, great care is required to 
prevent any of the tormentors from stealing in beneath, 
their insatiable thirst for blood, and pungent sting, 
making these enough to spoil all comfort. In the forest 
the plague is much worse ; but the forest-mosquito be- 
longs to a different species from that of the town, being 
much larger, and having transparent wings ; it is a little 
cloud that one carries about one's person every step on 
a woodland ramble, and their hum is so loud that it 
prevents one hearing well the notes of birds. The 
town-mosquito has opaque speckled wings, a less severe 
sting, and a silent way of going to work ; the inhabi- 
tants ought to be thankful the big, noisy fellows never 
come out of the forest. ■ In compensation for the abun- 
dance of mosquitoes, Fonte Boa has no piums ; there 
was, therefore, some comfort outside one's door in the 
daytime ; the comfort, however, was lessened by there 
being scarcely any room in front of the house to sit 
down or walk about, for, on our side of the square, the 
causeway was only two feet broad, and to step over the 
boundary, formed by a line of slippery stems of palms, 
was to sink up to the knees in a sticky swamp. 

Notwithstanding damp and mosquitoes, I had capital 
health, and enjoyed myself much at Fonte Boa; swampy 


and weedy places being generally more healthy than 
dry ones on the Amazons, probably owing to the absence 
of great radiation of heat from the ground. The forest 
was extremely rich and picturesque, although the soil 
was everywhere clayey and cold, and broad pathways 
threaded it for many a mile over hill and dale. In 
every hollow flowed a sparkling brook, with perennial 
and crystal waters. The margins of these streams were 
paradises of leanness and verdure ; the most striking 
feature being the variety of ferns, with immense leaves, 
some terrestrial, others climbing over trees, and two, at 
least, arborescent. I saw here some of the largest trees 
I had yet seen ; there was one especially, a cedar, whose 
colossal trunk towered up for more than a hundred 
feet, straight as an arrow ; I never saw its crown, which 
was lost to view, from below, beyond the crowd of lesser 
trees which surrounded it. Birds and monkeys in 
this glorious forest were very abundant ; the bear-like 
Pithecia hirsuta being the most remarkable of the 
monkeys, and the Umbrella Chatterer and Curl-crested 
Toucans amongst the most beautiful of the birds. The 
Indians and half-castes of the village have made their 
little plantations, and built huts for summer residence 
on the banks of the rivulets, and my rambles generally 
terminated at one or other of these places. The people 
were always cheerful and friendly, and seemed to be 
glad when I proposed to join them at their meals, 
contributing the contents of my provision-bag to the 
dinner, and squatting down amongst them on the mat. 
The village was formerly a place of more importance 
than it now is, a great number of Indians belonging to 

c c 2 


the most industrious tribes, Shumanas, Passes, and 
Cambevas, having settled on the site and adopted civi- 
lised habits, their industry being directed by a few 
whites, who seem to have been men of humane views 
as well as enterprising traders. One of these old em- 
ployers, Senhor Guerreiro, a well-educated Paraense, 
was still trading on the Amazons when I left the coun- 
try, in 1859 : he told me that forty years previously 
Fonte Boa was a delightful place to live in. The neigh- 
bourhood was then well cleared, and almost free from 
mosquitoes, and the Indians were orderly, industrious, 
and happy. What led to the ruin of the settlement was 
the arrival of several Portuguese and Brazilian traders 
of a low class, who in their eagerness for business taught 
the easy-going Indians all kinds of trickery and im- 
morality. They enticed the men and women away from 
their old employers, and thus broke up the large 
establishments, compelling the principals to take their 
capital to other places. At the time of my visit there 
were few pure-blood- Indians at Fonte Boa, and no true 
whites. The inhabitants seemed to be nearly all mamelu- 
cos, and were a loose-living, rustic, plain-spoken and igno- 
rant set of people. There was no priest or schoolmaster 
within 150 miles, and had not been any for many years: 
the people seemed to be almost without government of 
any kind, and yet crime and deeds of violence appeared 
to be of very rare occurrence. The principal man of 
the village, one Senhor Justo, was a big, coarse, ener- 
getic fellow, sub-delegado of police, and the only trades- 
man who owned a large vessel running directly between 
Fonte Boa and Para. He had recently built a large 

Chap. VI. CHRISTMAS. 389 

house, in the style of middle-class dwellings of towns, 
namely, with brick floors and tiled roof, the bricks and 
tiles having been brought from Para, 1500 miles dis- 
tant, the nearest place where they are manufactured in 
surplus. When Senhor Justo visited me he was much 
struck with the engravings in a file of "Illustrated 
London News," which lay on my table. It was impos- 
sible to resist his urgent entreaties to let him have 
some of them " to look at," so one day he carried off a 
portion of the papers on loan. A fortnight afterwards, 
on going to request him to return them, I found the 
engravings had been cut out, and stuck all over the 
newly whitewashed walls of his chamber, many of them 
upside down. He thought a room thus decorated with 
foreign views would increase his importance amongst 
his neighbours, and when I yielded to his wish to keep 
them, was boundless in demonstrations of gratitude, end- 
ing by shipping a boat-load of turtles for my use at Ega. 
These neglected and rude villagers still retained 
many religious practices which former missionaries or 
priests had taught them. The ceremony which they 
observed at Christmas, like that described as practised 
by negroes in a former chapter, was very pleasing for 
its simplicity, and for the heartiness with which it was 
conducted. The church was opened, dried, and swept 
clean a few days before Christmas-eve, and on the 
morning all the women and children of the village were 
busy decorating it with festoons of leaves and wild 
flowers. Towards midnight it was illuminated inside 
and out with little oil lamps, made of clay, and the 
image of the " menino Deus," or Child-God, in its cradle, 


was placed below the altar, which was lighted up with 
rows of wax candles, very lean ones, but the best the poor 
people could afford. All the villagers assembled soon 
afterwards, dressed in their best, the women with flowers 
in their hair, and a few simple hymns, totally irrelevant 
to the occasion, but probably the only ones known by 
them, were sung kneeling ; an old half-caste, with black- 
spotted face, leading off the tunes. This finished, the 
congregation rose, and then marched in single file up 
one side of the church and down the other, singing to- 
gether a very pretty marching chorus, and each one, 
on reaching the little image, stooping to kiss the end 
of a ribbon which was tied round its waist. Consider- 
ing that the ceremony was got up of their own free- 
will, and at considerable expense, I thought it spoke 
well for the good intentions and simplicity of heart of 
these poor, neglected villagers. 

I left Fonte Boa, for Ega, on the 25th of January, 
making the passage by steamer, down the middle of the 
current, in sixteen hours. The sight of the clean and 
neat little town, with its open spaces, close-cropped 
grass, broad lake, and white sandy shores, had a most 
exhilarating effect, after my trip into the wilder parts 
of the country. The district between Ega and Loreto, 
the first Peruvian village on the river, is, indeed, the 
most remote, thinly-peopled, and barbarous of the 
whole line of the Amazons, from ocean to ocean. Be- 
yond Loreto, signs of civilisation, from the side of the 
Pacific, begin to be numerous, and, from Ega down- 
wards, the improvement is felt from the side of the 


September 5th, 1857. — Again embarked on the 
" Tabatinga," this time for a longer excursion than the 
last, namely to St. Paulo de Olivenca, a village higher 
up than any I had yet visited, being 260 miles distant, 
in a straight line, from Ega, or about 400 miles following 
the bends of the river. 

The waters were now nearly at their lowest point ; 
but this made no difference to the rate of travelling, 
night or day. Several of the Parana mirims, or by- 
channels, which the steamer threads in the season of 
full-water, to save a long circuit, were now dried up, 
their empty beds looking like deep sandy ravines in 
the midst of the thick forest. The large sand-islands, 
and miles of sandy beach, were also uncovered, and 
these, with the swarms of large aquatic birds, storks, 
herons, ducks, waders, and spoon-bills, which lined their 
margins in certain places, made the river view much 
more varied and animated than it is in the season of 
the flood. Alligators of large size were common near 
the shores, lazily floating, and heedless of the passing 
steamer. The passengers amused themselves by shoot- 
ing at them from the deck with a double-barrelled 
rifle we had on board. The sign of a mortal hit was 
the monster turning suddenly over, and remaining 
floating, with its white belly upwards. Lieutenant Nunes 
wished to have one of the dead animals on board, for 
the purpose of opening the abdomen, and, if a male, 
extracting a part which is held in great estimation 
amongst Brazilians as a " remedio," charm or medicine. 
The steamer was stopped, and a boat sent, with four 
strong men, to embark the beast ; the body, however, 


was found too heavy to be lifted into the boat ; so a 
rope was passed round it, and the hideous creature 
towed alongside, and hoisted on deck by means of the 
crane, which was rigged for the purpose. It had still 
some sparks of life, and when the knife was applied, 
lashed its tail, and opened its enormous jaws, sending 
the crowd of bystanders flying in all directions. A 
blow with a hatchet on the crown of the head, gave him 
his quietus at last. The length of the animal was 
fifteen feet ; but this statement can give but an imper- 
fect idea of its immense bulk and weight. The num- 
bers of turtles which were seen swimming in quiet 
shoaly bays passed on the road, also gave us much 
amusement. They were seen by dozens ahead, with 
their snouts peering above the surface of the water ; 
and, on the steamer approaching, turning round to 
stare, but not losing confidence, till the vessel had nearly 
passed, when they appeared to be suddenly smitten 
with distrust, diving like ducks under the stream. 

We had on board, amongst our deck-passengers, a 
middle-aged Indian, of the Juri tribe ; a short, thick- 
set man, with features resembling much those of the 
late Daniel O'Connell. His name was Caracara-i (Black 
Eagle), and his countenance seemed permanently 
twisted into a grim smile, the effect of which was 
heightened by the tattooed marks — a blue rim to the 
mouth, with a diagonal pointed streak from each corner 
towards the ear. He was dressed in European style — 
black hat, coat, and trousers — looking very uncomfort- 
able in the dreadful heat which, it is unnecessary to say, 
exists on board a steamer, under a vertical sun, during 


mid-day hours. This Indian was a man of steady reso- 
lution, ambitious and enterprising ; very rare qualities 
in the race to which he belonged, weakness of reso- 
lution being one of the fundamental defects in the 
Indian character. He was now on his return home to 
the banks of the Issa from Para, whither he had been to 
sell a large quantity of salsaparilla that he had collected, 
with the help of a number of Indians, whom he induces, 
or forces, to work for him. One naturally feels inclined 
to know what ideas such a favourable specimen of the 
Indian race may have acquired after so much experi- 
ence amongst civilised scenes. On conversing with our 
fellow-passenger, I was greatly disappointed in him ; 
he had seen nothing, and thought of nothing, beyond 
what concerned his little trading speculation, his mind 
being, evidently, what it had been before, with regard 
to all higher subjects or general ideas, a blank. The 
dull, mean, practical way of thinking of the Amazonian 
Indians, and the absence of curiosity and speculative 
thought which seems to be organic or confirmed in their 
character, although they are improveable to a certain 
extent, make them, like common-place people every- 
where, most uninteresting companions. Caracara-i dis- 
embarked at Tunantins with his cargo, which consisted 
of a considerable number of packages of European wares. 
The river scenery about the mouth of the Japura is 
extremely grand, and was the subject of remark amongst 
the passengers. Lieutenant Nunes gave it as his 
opinion, that there was no diminution of width or 
gi^andeur in the mighty stream up to this point, a dis- 
tance of 1500 miles from the Atlantic; and yet we did 


not here see the two shores of the river on both sides at 
once ; lines of islands, or tracts of alluvial land, having 
by-channels in their rear, intercepting the view of the 
northern mainland, and sometimes also of the southern. 
Beyond the Issa, however, the river becomes evidently 
narrower, being reduced to an average width of about a 
mile ; there were then no longer those magnificent 
reaches, with blank horizons, which occur lower down. 
We had a dark and rainy night after passing Tunantins, 
and the passengers were all very uneasy on account of 
the speed at which we were travelling, twelve miles an 
hour, with every plank vibrating with the force of the 
engines. Many of them could not sleep, myself amongst 
the number. At length, a little after midnight, a 
sudden shout startled us ; " back her ! " (English terms 
being used in matters relating to steam-engines). The 
pilot instantly sprung to the helm, and in a few moments 
we felt our paddle-box brushing against the wall of 
forest into which we had nearly driven headlong. 
Fortunately the water was deep close up to the bank. 
Early in the morning of the 10th of September we 
anchored in the port of St. Paulo, after five days' quick 
travelling from Ega. 

St. Paulo is built on a high hill, on the southern 
bank of the river. The hill is formed of the same 
Tabatinga clay, which occurs at intervals over the whole 
valley of the Amazons, but nowhere rises to so great an 
elevation as here, the height being about 100 feet 
above the mean level of the river. The ascent from the 
port is steep and slippery ; steps and resting-places 
have been made to lighten the fatigue of mounting, 

Chap. VI. ST. PAULO. 395 

otherwise the village would be almost inaccessible, 
especially to porters of luggage and cargo, for there are 
no means of making a circuitous road of more moderate 
slope, the hill being steep on all sides, and surrounded 
by dense forests and swamps. The place contains 
about 500 inhabitants, chiefly half-castes and Indians 
of the Tucuna and Collina tribes, who are very little 
improved from their primitive state. The streets are 
narrow, and in rainy weather inches deep in mud ; 
many houses are of substantial structure, but in a 
ruinous condition, and the place altogether presents the 
appearance, like Fonte Boa, of having seen better days. 
Signs of commerce, such as meet the eye at Ega, could 
scarcely be expected in this remote spot, situate 1800 
miles, or seven months' round voyage by sailing-vessels, 
from Para, the nearest market for produce. A very 
short experience showed that the inhabitants were 
utterly debased, the few Portuguese and other immi- 
grants having, instead of promoting industry, adopted 
the lazy mode of life of the Indians, spiced with the 
practice of a few strong vices of their own introduction. 
The head man of the village, Senhor Antonio Ri- 
beiro, half- white half-Tucuna, prepared a house for me 
on landing, and introduced me to the principal people. 
The summit of the hill is grassy table-land, of two or 
three hundred acres in extent. The soil is not wholly 
clay, but partly sand and gravel ; the village, itself, 
however, stands chiefly on clay, and the streets there- 
fore, after heavy rains, become filled with muddy pud- 
dles. On damp nights, the chorus of frogs and toads 
which swarm in weedy back-yards, creates such a be- 


wildering uproar, that it is impossible to carry on a 
conversation in-doors except by shouting. My house 
was damper even than the one I occupied at Fonte Boa, 
and this made it extremely difficult to keep my collec- 
tions from being spoilt by mould. But the general 
humidity of the atmosphere in this part of the river 
was evidently much greater than it is lower down ; it 
appears to increase gradually in ascending from the 
Atlantic to the Andes. It was impossible at St. Paulo 
to keep salt for many days in a solid state, which was 
not the case at Ega, when the baskets in which it is 
contained were well wrapped in leaves. Six degrees 
further westward, namely, at the foot of the Andes, the 
dampness of the climate of the Amazonian forest region 
appears to reach its acme, for Poeppig found at Chin- 
chao that the most refined sugar, in a few days, dis- 
solved into syrup, and the best gunpowder became 
liquid, even when enclosed in canisters. At St. Paulo, 
refined sugar kept pretty well in tin boxes, and I had 
no difficulty in keeping my gunpowder dry in canisters, 
although a gun loaded over night could very seldom be 
fired off in the morning. 

The principal residents at St. Paulo were the priest, 
a white from Para, who spent his days and most of his 
nights in gambling and rum-drinking, corrupting the 
young fellows and setting the vilest example to the 
Indians ; the sub-delegado, an upright, open-hearted, 
and loyal negro, whom I have before mentioned, Senhor 
Jose Patricio ; the Juiz de Paz, a half-caste named 
Geraldo, and lastly, Senhor Antonio Bibeiro, who was 
Director of the Indians. Geraldo and Bibeiro were my 


near neighbours, but they took offence at me after the 
first few days, because I would not join them in their 
drinking bouts, which took place about every third day. 
They used to begin early in the morning with Cashaca 
mixed with grated ginger, a powerful drink which used 
to excite them almost to madness. Neighbour Geraldo, 
after these morning potations, used to station himself 
opposite my house and rave about foreigners, gesticu- 
lating in a threatening manner towards me, by the 
hour. After becoming sober in the evening, he usually 
came to offer me the humblest apologies, driven to it, I 
believe, by his wife, he himself being quite unconscious 
of this breach of good manners. The wives of the St. 
Paulo worthies, however, were generally as bad as their 
husbands ; nearly all the women being hard drinkers, 
and corrupt to the last degree. Wife-beating naturally 
flourished under such a state of things. I found it 
always best to lock myself in-doors after sunset, and 
take no notice of the thumps and screams which used 
to rouse the village in different quarters throughout 
the night, especially at festival times. 

The only companionable man I found in the place, 
except Jose Patricio, who was absent most part of the 
time, was the negro tailor of the village, a tall, thin, 
grave young man, named Mestre Chico (Master Frank), 
whose acquaintance I had made at Para several years 
previously. He was a free negro by birth, but had had 
the advantage of kind treatment in his younger days, 
having been brought up by a humane and sensible 
man, one Captain Basilio, of Pernambuco, his padrinho, 
or godfather. He neither drank, smoked, nor gambled, 


and was thoroughly disgusted at the depravity of all 
classes in this wretched little settlement, which he in- 
tended to quit as soon as possible. When he visited 
me at night, he used to knock at my shutters in a 
manner we had agreed on, it being necessary to guard 
against admitting drunken neighbours, and we then 
spent the long evenings most pleasantly, working and 
conversing. His manners were courteous, and his talk 
well worth listening to, for the shrewdness and good 
sense of his remarks. I first met Mestre Chico at the 
house of an old negress of Para, Tia Rufina (Aunt 
Rufina), who used to take charge of my goods when I 
was absent on a voyage, and this affords me an oppor- 
tunity of giving a few further instances of the excellent 
qualities of free negroes in a country where they are not 
wholly condemned to a degrading position by the pride 
or hatred of the white race. This old woman was born a 
slave, but like many others in the large towns of Brazil, 
she had been allowed to trade on her own account, as 
market-woman, paying a fixed sum daily to her owner, 
and keeping for herself all her surplus gains. In a 
few years she had saved sufficient money to purchase 
her freedom, and that of her grown-up son. This done, 
the old lady continued to strive until she had earned 
enough to buy the house in which she lived, a consider- 
able property situated in one of the principal streets. 
When I returned from the interior, after seven years' 
absence from Para, I found she was still advancing in 
prosperity, entirely through her own exertions (being a 
widow) and those of her son, who continued, with the 
most regular industry, his trade as blacksmith, and 

Chap. VI. A SHADY GLEN. 399 

was now building a number of small houses on a piece 
of unoccupied land attached to her property. I found 
these and many other free negroes most trustworthy 
people, and admired the constancy of their friendships 
and the gentleness and cheerfulness of their manners 
towards each other. They showed great disinterested- 
ness in their dealings with me, doing me many a piece 
of service without a hint at remuneration ; but this 
may have been partly due to the name of Englishman, 
the knowledge of our national generosity towards the 
African race being spread far and wide amongst the 
Brazilian negroes. 

I remained at St. Paulo five months ; five years 
would not have been sufficient to exhaust the treasures 
of its neighbourhood in Zoology and Botany. Although 
now a forest-rambler of ten years' experience, the beau- 
tiful forest which surrounds this settlement gave me 
as much enjoyment as if I had only just landed for the 
first time in a tropical country. The Zoology revealed 
plainly the nearer proximity of the locality to the 
eastern slopes of the Andes than any I had yet visited, 
by the first appearance of many of the peculiar and 
richly-coloured forms (especially of insects), which are 
known only as inhabitants of the warm and moist val- 
leys of New Granada and Peru. The plateau on which 
the village is built extends on one side nearly a mile 
into the forest, but on the other side the descent into 
the lowland begins close to the streets ; the hill sloping 
abruptly towards a boggy meadow surrounded by woods, 
through which a narrow winding path continues the 
slope down to a cool shady glen, with a brook of icy- 


cold water flowing at the bottom. At midday the 
vertical sun penetrates into the gloomy depths of this 
romantic spot, lighting up the leafy banks of the 
rivulet and its clean sandy margins, where numbers of 
scarlet, green, and black tanagers and brightly-coloured 
butterflies sport about in the stray beams. Sparkling 
brooks, large and small, traverse the glorious forest 
in almost every direction, and one is constantly meet- 
ing, whilst rambling through the thickets, with trick- 
ling rills and bubbling springs, so well-provided is the 
country with moisture. Some of the rivulets flow over 
a sandy and pebbly bed, and the banks of all are clothed 
with the most magnificent vegetation conceivable. I 
had the almost daily habit, in my solitary walks, of 
resting on the clean banks of these swift-flowing 
streams, and bathing for an hour at a time in their 
bracing Waters ; hours which now remain amongst my 
most pleasant memories. The broad forest roads con- 
tinue, as I was told, a distance of several days' journey 
into the interior, which is peopled by Tuctinas and 
other Indians, living in scattered houses and villages 
nearly in their primitive state, the nearest village lying 
about six miles from St. Paulo. The banks of all the 
streams are dotted with palm-thatched dwellings of 
Tucunas, all half-buried in the leafy wilderness, the 
scattered families having chosen the coolest and shadiest 
nooks for their abodes. 

I frequently heard in the neighbourhood of these 
huts, the "realejo" or organ bird (Cyphorhinus can- 
tans), the most remarkable songster, by far, of the 
Amazonian forests. When its singular notes strike the 

Chap. VI. TITCUNAS. 401 

ear for the first time, the impression cannot be resisted 
that they are produced by a human voice. Some musical 
boy must be gathering fruit in the thickets, and is 
singing a few notes to cheer himself. The tones become 
more fluty and plaintive ; they are now those of a flage- 
olet, and notwithstanding the utter impossibility of the 
thing, one is for the moment convinced that some- 
body is playing that instrument. No bird is to be 
seen, however closely the surrounding trees and bushes 
may be scanned, and yet the voice seems to come from 
the thicket close to one's ears. The ending of the song is 
rather disappointing. It begins with a few very slow and 
mellow notes, following each other like the commence- 
ment of an air ; one listens expecting to hear a com- 
plete strain, but an abrupt pause occurs, and then the 
song breaks down, finishing with a number of clicking 
unmusical sounds like a piping barrel-organ out of wind 
and tune. I never heard the bird on the Lower Ama- 
zons, and very rarely heard it even at Ega ; it is the 
only songster which makes an impression on the natives, 
who sometimes rest their paddles whilst travelling in 
their small canoes along the shady by-streams, as if 
struck by the mysterious sounds. 

The Tucuna Indians are a tribe resembling- much 
the Shumanas, Passes, Juris, and Mauhes in their phy- 
sical appearance and customs. They lead like those 
tribes a settled agricultural life, each horde obeying a 
chief of more or less influence, according to his energy 
and ambition, and possessing its paje or medicine-man, 
who fosters its superstitions ; but they are much more 

VOL. II. d D 


idle and debauched than other Indians belonging to 
the superior tribes. They are not so warlike and loyal 
as the Mundurucus, although resembling them in many 
respects, nor have they the slender figures, dignified 
mien, and gentle disposition of the Passes ; there are, 
however, no trenchant points of difference to distinguish 
them from these highest of all the tribes. Both men 
and women are tattooed, the pattern being sometimes a 
scroll on each cheek, but generally rows of short straight 
lines on the face. Most of the older people wear 
bracelets, anklets and garters of tapir-hide or tough 
bark ; in their homes they wear no other dress except 
on festival days, when they ornament themselves with 
feathers or masked cloaks made of the inner bark of a 
tree. They were very shy when I made my first visits 
to their habitations in the forest, all scampering off to 
the thicket when I approached, but on subsequent days 
they became more familiar, and I found them a harm- 
less, good-natured people. 

A great part of the horde living at the first Maloca 
or village dwell in a common habitation, a large oblong 
hut built and arranged inside with such a disregard 
of all symmetry, that it appeared as though constructed 
by a number of hands each working independently, 
stretching a rafter or fitting in a piece of thatch, with- 
out reference to what his fellow-labourers were doing. 
The Avails as well as the roof are covered with thatch 
of palm-leaves ; each piece consisting of leaflets plaited 
and attached in a row to a lath many feet in length. 
Strong upright posts support the roof, hammocks being 
slung between them, leaving a free space for passage 


and for fires in the middle, and on one side is an ele- 
vated stage (girao) overhead, formed of split palm stems. 
The Tucimas excel most of the other tribes in the 
manufacture of pottery. They make broad-mouthed 
jars for Tucupi sauce, caysuma or mandioca beer, 
capable of holding twenty or more gallons, ornament- 
ing them outside with crossed diagonal streaks of 
various colours. These jars, with cooking-pots, smaller 
jars for holding water, blow-pipes, quivers, matiri 
bags* full of small articles, baskets, skins of animals, 
and so forth, form the principal part of the furniture of 
their huts both large and small. The dead bodies of 
their chiefs are interred, the knees doubled up, in large 
jars under the floors of their huts. 

The semi-religious dances and drinking bouts usual 
amongst the settled tribes of Amazonian Indians are 
indulged in to greater excess by the Tucunas than 
they are by most other tribes. The Jurupari or 
Demon is the only superior being they have any con- 
ception of, and his name is mixed up with all their 
ceremonies, but it is difficult to ascertain what they con- 
sider to be his attributes. He seems to be believed in 
simply as a mischievous imp, who is at the bottom of 
all those mishaps of their daily life, the causes of which 
are not very immediate or obvious to their dull under- 

* These bags are formed of remarkably neat twine made of Bro- 
melia fibres elaborately knitted, all in one piece, with sticks ; a belt of 
the same material, but more closely woven, being attached to the top 
to suspend them by. They afford good examples of the mechanical 
ability of these Indians. The Tucunas also possess the art of skinning 
and stuffing birds, the handsome kinds of which they sell in great 
numbers to passing travellers. 



standings. It is vain to try to get information out of a 
Tucuna on this subject ; they affect great mystery when 
the name is mentioned, and give very confused answers 
to questions : it was clear, however, that the idea of 
a spirit as a beneficent God or Creator had not entered 
the minds of these Indians. There is great similarity 
in all their ceremonies and mummeries, whether the 
object is a wedding, the celebration of the feast of 
fruits, the plucking of the hair from the heads of their 
children, or a holiday got up simply out of a love of 
dissipation. Some of the tribe on these occasions deck 
themselves with the bright-coloured feathers of parrots 
and macaws. The chief wears a head-dress or cap 
made by fixing the breast-feathers of the Toucan on a 
web of Bromelia twine, with erect tail plumes of 
macaws rising from the crown. The cinctures of the 
arms and legs are also then ornamented with bunches 
of feathers. Others wear masked dresses : these are 
long cloaks reaching- below the knee and made of the 
thick whitish-coloured inner bark of a tree, the fibres 
of which are interlaced in so regular a manner, that 
the material looks like artificial cloth. The cloak covers 
the head ; two holes are cut out for the eyes, a large 
round piece of the cloth stretched on a rim of flexible 
wood is stitched on each side to represent ears, and 
the features are painted in exaggerated style with 
yellow, red, and black streaks. The dresses are sewn 
into the proper shapes with thread made of the inner 
bark of the Uaissima tree. Sometimes grotesque head- 
dresses, representing monkeys' busts or heads of other 
animals, made by stretching cloth or skin over a basket- 

Chap. VI. WEDDINGS. 405 

work frame, are worn at these holidays. The biggest 
and ugliest mask represents the Jurupari. In these 
festival habiliments the Tuctinas go through their 
monotonous see-saw and stamping dances accompanied 
by singing and drumming, and keep up the sport often 
for three or four days and nights in succession, drinking 
enormous quantities of caysuma, smoking tobacco, and 
snuffing parica powder. 

I could not learn that there was any deep symbolical 
meaning in these masked dances, or that thev comme- 
morated any past event in the history of the tribe. Some 
of them seem vaguely intended as a propitiation of the 
Jurupari, but the masker who represents the demon 
sometimes gets drunk along with the rest, and is not 
treated with any reverence. From all I could make out, 
these Indians preserve no memory of events going beyond 
the times of their fathers or grandfathers. Almost every 
joyful event is made the occasion of a festival : wed- 
dings amongst the rest. A youug man who wishes to 
wed a Tucuna girl has to demand her hand of her 
parents, who arrange the rest of the affair, and fix a 
day for the marriage ceremony. A wedding which took 
place in the Christmas week whilst I was at St. Paulo, 
was kept up with great spirit for three or four days ; 
flagging during the heats of mid-day, but renewing 
itself with increased vigour every - evening. During 
the whole time the bride, decked out with feather 
ornaments, was under the charge of the older squaws, 
whose business seemed to be, sedulously to keep the 
brideoroom at a safe distance until the end of the 
dreary period of dancing and boosing. The Tuciinas 


have the singular custom, in common with the Collinas 
and Mauhes, of treating their young girls, on their 
showing the first signs of womanhood, as if they had 
committed some crime. They are sent up to the girao 
under the smoky and filthy roof, and kept there on very 
meagre diet, sometimes for a whole month. I heard of 
one poor girl dying under this treatment. 

The original territory of the Tucuna tribe embraced 
the banks of most of the by-streams, from forty miles 
below St. Paulo to beyond Loreto in Peru, a distance 
of about 200 miles ; the tribe, however, is not well- 
demarcated from that of the Collinas, who appear to be 
a section of Tucunas, and whose home extends 200 miles 
further to the east. The only other tribe of this neigh- 
bourhood concerning which I obtained any information 
were the Majeronas, whose territory embraces . several 
hundred miles of the western bank of the river Jauari, 
an affluent of the Solimoens, 120 miles beyond St. Paulo. 
These are a fierce, indomitable, and hostile people, like 
the Araras of the river Madeira ; they are also cannibals. 
The navigation of the Jauari is rendered impossible on 
account of the Majer6nas lying in wait on its banks to 
intercept and murder all travellers, especially whites. 

Four months before my arrival at St. Paulo, two 
young half-castes (nearly white) of the village went to 
trade on the Jauari ; the Majeronas having shown signs 
of abating their hostility for a year or two previously. 
They had not been long gone, when their canoe returned 
with the news that the two young fellows had been shot 
with arrows, roasted and eaten by the savages. Jose 
Patricio, with his usual activity in the cause of law and 

Chap. VI. (ESTKUS FLIES. 407 

order, despatched a party of armed men of the National 
Guard to the place to make inquiries, and, if the murder 
should appear to be unprovoked, to retaliate. When they 
reached the settlement of the horde who had eaten the 
two men, it was found evacuated, with the exception of 
one girl, who had been in the woods when the rest of 
her people had taken flight, and whom the guards 
brought with them to St. Paulo. It was gathered from 
her, and from other Indians on the Jauari, that the 
young men had brought their fate on themselves 
through improper conduct towards the Majerona 
women. The girl, on arriving at St. Paulo, was taken 
care of by Senhor Jose Patricio, baptised under the 
name of Maria, and taught Portuguese. I saw a good 
deal of her, for my friend sent her daily to my house 
to fill the water-jars, make the fire, and so forth. I 
also gained her good-will by extracting the grub of an 
CEstrus fly * from her back, and thus cured her of a 
painful tumour. She was decidedly the best-humoured 
and, to all appearance, the kindest-hearted specimen of 

* A species of (Estrus or gadfly, on the upper Amazons, fixes on the 
flesh of man as breeding place for its grub. I extracted five at different 
times from my own flesh. The first was fixed in the calf of my leg, causing 
there a suppurating tumour, which, being unaware of the existence of 
this (Estrus, I thought at first was a common boil. The tumour grew and 
the pain increased until I became quite lame, and then, on carefully 
examining the supposed boil, 1 saw the head of a grub moving in a 
small hole at its apex. The extraction of the animal was a difficult 
operation, it being an inch in length and of increasing breadth from 
head to tail, besides being secured to the flesh of the inside of the 
tumour by two horny hooks. An old Indian of Ega showed me the 
most effective way of proceeding, which was to stupefy the grub with 
strong tobacco juice, causing it to relax its grip in the interior, and 
then pull it out of the narrow orifice of the tumour by main force. 


her race I had yet seen. She was tall, and very stout ; 
in colour much lighter than the ordinary Indian tint, 
and her ways altogether were more like those of a care- 
less, laughing country wench, such as might be met 
with any day amongst the labouring class in villages 
in our own country, than a cannibal. I heard this 
artless maiden relate, in the coolest manner possible, 
how she ate a portion of the bodies of the young men 
whom her tribe had roasted. But what increased 
greatly the incongruity of this business, the young 
widow of one of the victims, a neighbour of mine, 
happened to be present during the narrative, and 
showed her interest in it by laughing at the broken 
Portuguese in which the girl related the horrible 

In the fourth month of my sojourn at St. Paulo I had 
a serious illness, an attack of the " sizoens," or ague of 
the country, which, as it left me with shattered health 
and damped enthusiasm, led to my abandoning the plan 
I had formed of proceeding to the Peruvian towns of 
Pebas and Moyobamba, 250 and 600 miles further west, 
and so completing the examination of the Natural 
History of the Amazonian plains up to the foot of the 
Andes. I made a very large collection at St. Paulo, 
and employed a collector at Tabatinga and on the 
banks of the Jauari for several months, so that I 
acquired a very fair knowledge altogether of the pro- 
ductions of the country bordering the Amazons to the 
end of the Brazilian territory, a distance of 1900 miles 
from the Atlantic at the mouth of the Para ; but beyond 

Chap. VI. AGUE. 409 

the Peruvian boundary I found now I should be unable 
to go. My ague seemed to be the culmination of a 
gradual deterioration of health, which had been going 
on for several years. I had exposed myself too much in 
the sun, working to the utmost of my strength six days 
a week, and had suffered much, besides, from bad and 
insufficient food. The ague did not exist at St. Paulo ; 
but the foul and humid state of the village was, perhaps, 
sufficient to produce ague in a person much weakened 
from other causes. The country bordering the shores of 
the Solimoens is healthy throughout ; some endemic dis- 
eases certainly exist, but these are not of a fatal nature, 
and the epidemics which desolated the Lower Amazons 
from Para to the Rio Negro, between the years 1850 
and 1856, had never reached this favoured land. Ague 
is known only on the banks of those tributary streams 
which have dark-coloured water. 

I always carried a stock of medicines with me, and a 
small phial of quinine, which I had bought at Para in 
1851, but never yet had use for, now came in very 
useful. I took for each dose as much as would lie on 
the tip of a penknife-blade, mixing it with warm camo- 
mile tea. The first few days after my first attack I 
could not stir, and was delirious during the paroxysms 
of fever ; but the worst being over, I made an effort to 
rouse myself, knowing that incurable disorders of the 
liver and spleen follow ague in this country if the feel- 
ing of lassitude is too much indulged. So every morning 
I shouldered my gun or insect-net, and went my usual 
walk in the forest. The fit of shivering very often 
seized me before I got home, and I then used to stand 


still and brave it out. When the steamer ascended in 
January, 1858, Lieutenant Nunes was shocked to see 
me so much shattered, and recommended me strongly 
to return at once to Ega. I took his advice, and em- 
barked with him, when he touched at St. Paulo on his 
downward voyage, on the 2nd of February. I still 
hoped to be able to turn my face westward again, to 
gather the yet unseen treasures of the marvellous 
countries lying between Tabatinga and the slopes of the 
Andes ; but although, after a short rest in Ega, the 
ague left me, my general health remained in a state too 
weak to justify the undertaking of further journeys. 
At length I left Ega, on the 3rd of February, 1859, 
en route for England. 

I arrived at Para on the 1 7th of March, after an ab- 
sence in the interior of seven years and a half. My old 
friends, English, American, and Brazilian, scarcely knew 
me again, but all gave me a very warm welcome, espe- 
cially Mr. G. R. Brocklehurst (of the firm of R. Single- 
hurst and Co., the chief foreign merchants, who had 
been my correspondents), who received me into his 
house, and treated me with the utmost kindness. I 
was rather surprised at the warm appreciation shown 
by many of the principal people of my labours ; but, in 
fact, the interior of the country is still the " sertao " 
(wilderness), — a terra incognita to most residents of the 
seaport, — and a man who had spent seven and a half 
years in exploring it solely with scientific aims was 
somewhat of a curiosity. I found Para greatly changed 
and improved. It was no longer the weedy, ruinous, 
village-looking place that it appeared when I first knew 


it in 1848. The peculation had been increased (to 
20,000) by an influx of Portuguese, Madeiran, and Ger- 
man immigrants, and for many years past the provincial 
government had spent their considerable surplus re- 
venue in beautifying the city.* The streets, formerly 
unpaved or strewn with loose stones and sand, were now 
laid with concrete in a most complete manner ; all the 
projecting masonry of the irregularly-built houses had 
been cleared away, and the buildings made more uniform. 
Most of the dilapidated houses were replaced by hand- 
some new edifices, having long and elegant balconies 
fronting the first floors, at an elevation of several feet 
above the roadway. The large, swampy squares had 
been drained, weeded, and planted with rows of almond 
and casuarina trees, so that they were now a great 
ornament to the city, instead of an eyesore as they 

* The revenue of the province of Pard, derived almost wholly from 
high custom-house duties, had averaged for some years past about 
£1000,000 sterling. The import duties vary from 18 to 80 per cent, 
ad valorem ; export duties from 5 to 10 per cent., the most productive 
article being india-rubber. 

The total value of exports for 1858 was £355,905 4s. 0d., employing 
104 vessels of 29,493 total tonnage. More than half the foreign trade 
was done with Great Britain ; the principal nations in order of amount 
of import trade ranking as follows : — 

1. Great Britain. 

2. United States. 

3. France. 

4. Portugal. 

5. Hanse Towns. 

As most of the articles of consumption are imported and most of 
those produced exported, the foreign trade of Para is larger, compared 
with the internal trade, than it is in most countries. The insignifi- 
cance of the trade of a country of such vast extent and resources 
becomes very apparent from the totals here quoted. 


formerly were. My old favourite road, the Monguba 
avenue, had been renovated and joined to many other 
magnificent rides lined with trees, which in a very few 
years had grown to a height sufficient to afford agree- 
able shade ; one of these, the Estrada de Sao Jose, had 
been planted with coco-nut palms. Sixty public vehicles, 
light cabriolets (some of them built in Para), now plied 
in the streets, increasing much the animation of the 
beautified squares, streets, and avenues. 

I found also the habits of the people considerably 
changed. Many of the old religious holidays had de- 
clined in importance and given way to secular amuse- 
ments ; social parties, balls, music, billiards, and so 
forth. There was quite as much pleasure-seeking as 
formerly, but it was turned in a more rational direction, 
and the Paraenses seemed now to copy rather the 
customs of the northern nations of Europe, than those 
of the mother-country, Portugal. I was glad to see 
several new booksellers' shops, and also a fine edifice 
devoted to a reading-room supplied with periodicals, 
globes, and maps, and a circulating library. There were 
now many printing-offices, and four daily newspapers. 
The health of the place had greatly improved since 
1850, the year of the yellow fever, and Para was now 
considered no longer dangerous to new comers. 

So much for the improvements visible in the place, 
and now for the dark side of the picture. The expenses 
of living had increased about fourfold, a natural con- 
sequence of the demand for labour and for native 
products of all kinds having augmented in greater ratio 
than the supply, through large arrivals of non-productive 


residents, and considerable importations of money on 
account of the steamboat company and foreign mer- 
chants. Para, in 1848, was one of the cheapest places 
of residence on the American continent ; it was now one 
of the dearest. Imported articles of food, clothing, and 
furniture were mostly cheaper, although charged with 
duties varying from 18 to 80 per cent., besides high 
freights and large profits, than those produced in the 
neighbourhood. Salt codfish was twopence per pound 
cheajDer than the vile salt pirarucu of the country. 
Oranges, which could formerly be had almost gratis, 
were now sold in the streets at the rate of three for a 
penny ; large bananas were a penny each fruit ; tomatos 
were from two to three pence each, and all other fruits 
in this fruit-producing country had advanced in like pro- 
portion. Mandioca-meal, the bread of the country, had 
become so scarce and dear and bad that the poorer 
classes of natives suffered famine, and all who could 
afford it were obliged to eat wheaten bread at four- 
pence to fivepence per pound, made from American 
flour, 1200 barrels of which were consumed monthly ; 
this was now, therefore, a very serious item of daily 
expense to all but the most wealthy. House-rent was 
most exorbitant ; a miserable little place of two rooms, 
without fixtures or conveniences of any kind, having 
simply blank walls, cost at the rate of 1SL sterling a 
year. Lastly, the hire of servants was beyond the 
means of all persons in moderate circumstances ; a lazy 
cook or porter could not be had for less than three or 
four shillings a day, besides his board and what he 
could steal. It cost me half-a-crown for the hire of a 


small boat and one man to disembark from the steamer, 
a distance of 100 yards. 

In rambling over my old ground in the forests of the 
neighbourhood, I found great changes had taken place — 
to me, changes for the worse. The mantle of shrubs, 
bushes, and creeping plants which formerly, when the 
suburbs were undisturbed by axe or spade, had been 
left free to arrange itself in rich, full and smooth 
sheets and masses over the forest borders, had been 
nearly all cut away, and troops of labourers were still 
employed cutting ugly muddy roads for carts and 
cattle, through the once clean and lonely woods. 
Houses and mills had been erected on the borders of 
these new roads. The noble forest-trees had been cut 
down, and their naked, half-burnt stems remained in 
the midst of ashes, muddy puddles, and heaps of broken 
branches. I was obliged to hire a negro boy to show 
me the way to my favourite path near Una, which I 
have described in the second chapter of this narrative ; 
the new clearings having quite obliterated the old forest 
roads. Only a few acres of the glorious forest near 
Una now remained in their natural state. On the 
other side of the city near the old road to the rice 
mills, several scores of woodsmen were employed under 
Government, in cutting a broad carriage-road through 
the forest to Maranham, the capital of the neighbouring 
province, distant 250 miles from Para, and this had 
entirely destroyed the solitude of the grand old forest 
path. In the course of a few years, however, a new 
growth of creepers will cover the naked tree-trunks on 
the borders of this new road, and luxuriant shrubs form 


a green fringe to the path : it will then become as 
beautiful a woodland road as the old one was. A 
naturalist will have, henceforward, to go farther from 
the city to find the glorious forest scenery which lay 
so near in 1848, and work much more laboriously 
than was formerly needed, to make the large collections 
which Mr. Wallace and I succeeded in doing in the 
neighbourhood of Para. 

June 2, 1859. — At length, on the second of June, 
I left Para, probably for ever ; embarking in a North 
American trading-vessel, the " Frederick Demming," 
for New York, the United States' route being the 
quickest as well as the pleasantest way of reaching 
England. My extensive private collections were divided 
into three portions and sent by three separate ships, 
to lessen the risk of loss of the whole. /On the even- 
ing of the third of June, I took a last view of the 
glorious forest for which I had so much love, and to 
explore which I had devoted so many years. The 
saddest hours I ever recollect to have spent were those 
of the succeeding night when, the mameluco pilot 
having left us free of the shoals and out of sight of 
land though within the mouth of the river at anchor 
waiting for the wind, I felt that the last link which 
connected me with the land of so many pleasing 
recollections was broken. The Paraenses, who are fully 
aware of the attractiveness of their country, have an alli- 
terative proverb, " Queni vai para (o) Para para," " He 
who goes to Para stops there," and I had often thought I 
should myself have been added to the list of examples. 


The desire, however, of seeing again my parents and 
enjoying once more the rich pleasures of intellectual 
society, had succeeded in overcoming the attractions 
of a region which may be fittingly called a Naturalist's 
Paradise. During this last night on the Para river, a 
crowd of unusual thoughts occupied my mind. Recol- 
lections of English climate, scenery, and modes of life 
came to me with a vividness I had never before ex- 
perienced, during the eleven years of my absence. 
Pictures of startling clearness rose up of the gloomy 
winters, the long grey twilights, murky atmosj)here, 
elongated shadows, chilly springs, and sloppy summers ; 
of factory chimneys and crowds of grimy operatives, 
rung to work in early morning by factory bells ; of 
union workhouses, confined rooms, artificial cares and 
slavish conventionalities. To live again amidst these 
dull scenes I was quitting a country of perpetual summer, 
where my life had been spent like that of three-fourths 
of the people in gipsy fashion, on the endless streams 
or in the boundless forests. I was leaving the equator, 
where the well-balanced forces of Nature maintained a 
land-surface and climate that seemed to be typical of 
mundane order and beauty, to sail towards the North 
Pole, where lay my home under crepuscular skies some- 
where about fifty-two degrees of latitude. It was natural 
to feel a little dismayed at the prospect of so great a 
change, but now, after three years of renewed experience 
of England, I find how incomparably superior is civilised 
life, where feelings, tastes, and intellect find abundant 
nourishment, to the spiritual sterility of half-savage 
existence, even if it were passed in the garden of Eden. 

Chap. VI. CONCLUSION". 417 

What has struck me powerfully is the immeasurably 
greater diversity and interest of human character and 
social conditions in a single civilised nation, than in 
equatorial South America where three distinct races 
of man live together. The superiority of the bleak 
north to tropical regions however is only in their social 
aspect, for I hold to the opinion that although humanity 
can reach an advanced state of culture only by battling 
with the inclemencies of nature in high latitudes, it is 
under the equator alone that the perfect race of the 
future will attain to complete fruition of man's beautiful 
heritage, the earth. 

The following day, having no wind, we drifted out of 
the mouth of the Para with the current of fresh water 
that is poured from the mouth of the river, and in 
twenty-four hours advanced in this way seventy miles 
on 'our road. On the 6th of June, when in 7° 55'lSi. 
lat. and 52° 30' W. long., and therefore about 400 miles 
from the mouth of the main Amazons, we passed nume- 
rous patches of floating grass mingled with tree-trunks 
and withered foliage. Amongst these masses I espied 
many fruits of that peculiarly Amazonian tree the 
Ubussu palm ; and this was the last I saw of the Great 



Agrias, i. 297. 

Air-roots, i. 50. 

Aiyussa" turtle, ii. 281. 

Alligators, i. 227 ; ii. 185, 265, 278, 

281, 286, 289, 297, 391. 
Amazons, province, population of, i. 


— valley, contraction of, i. 


— Lower, rising and sinking 

of, i. 274. 

— Upper, rising and sinking 
of, ii. 220. 

Amphisbaeua snakes, i. 101. 

Ampullaria, i. 124 ; ii. 30. 

Anacd parrot, i. 227. 

Anaconda, ii. 113. 

Animals, large, scarcity of, i. 70. 

Ant-eaters, i. 177. 

Arara Indians, i. 315. 

Arboreal nature of Fauna, i. 49, 72. 

Arrow-grass, i. 277. 

Arrows for shootiug turtle, ii. 261. 

Arroyas, cataracts of, i. 136. 

Arube sauce, i. 318. 

Arums, forest of, i. 200. 

Assacu, poisonous tree, ii. 288. 

Assai palm, i. 8, 123. 

Ateles marginatus, ii. 118. 

Atmosphere, transparency of, i. 127. 

Attalea excelsa, ii. 167. 

Bacaba palms, i. 224 ; ii. 39, 169. 
Barbets, i. 278. 

Barrigudo monkeys, ii. 319. 
Bats, i. 175. 
Bees, i. 70 ; ii. 45. 
Bembex, ii. 32. 
Bird-killing spider, i. 160. 
Birds, insectivorous, flocks of, ii. 
— singing, of forest 
Blow-pipe, ii. 236. 
Boa-constrictor, i. 99; ii. 120. 
Box-wood, ii. 79. 
Brachyurus calvus and rubicundus, 

ii. 306. 
Brazil-nut trees, i. 67, 135. 
Breio branco, ii. 23. 
Burmeister, on virgin forest, i. 53. 
Butterflies, great diversity of, near 
Para, i. 102. 

— importance of, in Biologi- 

cal science, ii. 345. 

— of Ega, ii. 227. 
Buttress-trees, i. 68. 
Byrsomina, ii. 23. 

Cacao planters, i. 158, 269. 
Caianira monkeys, ii. 100. 
Caishana Indians, ii. 373. 
Caju trees, ii. 22. 
Callidryas.i. 249. 
Callithea, i. 249, 297 ; ii. 228. 
Callithrix monkeys, i. 280 ; ii. 98. 
Canary (birds), i. 282. 
Cannibal Indians, ii. 406. 



Canoes, description of, i. 75. 

mode of building, ii. 117. 
Canoe-men, songs of, i. 150. 
Carashue' thrush, song of, i. 254. 
Carnivorous beetles, i. 208. 
Cassicus icteronotus, i. 16. 
Catagramma, i. 248 ; ii. 282. 
Cebus albifrons, ii. 101. 

cirrhifer, i. 323 ; ii. 101. 
Cecropia-tree, i. 276. 
Cedar-tree, i. 85, 131. 
Chlamys, i. 346. 
Chrysothrix sciureus. i. 323. 
Cicadas, ii. 142, 227. 
Clark, Rev. Hamlet, on Saiiba ant, 

i. 27. 
Climbing animals, i. 49. 
Climbing trees, i. 48. 
Coaita' monkey, i. 243. 
Coca, ii. 211. 

Cocoons, suspended, ii. 348. 
Coleopterous insects, i. 62, 83, 107, 

Colours of insects adapted to soil, 
i. 208. 
— of tropical insects not di- 
rectly due to climate, i. 19. 
Conibo Indians, ii. 379. 
Conurus guianensis, ii. 103. 
Couxio monkey, i. 162 ; ii. 80. 
Cow-tree, i. 69. 
Cricket, musical, i. 251. 
Cucama Indians, ii. 159. 
Cupti-trees, ii. 49. 
Curassow birds, ii. 112. 
Curud palm, ii. 51, 80. 
Curupira, wood-demon, i. 73 ; ii- 

Cutia, i. 199. 
Cyphorhinus cantans, or organ bird, 

ii. 400. 

Darwin, on colours of animals of 
Galapagos Islands, i. 21. 

Delta of the Amazons, i. 5, 111. . 
Diamonds, ii. 94. 
Diurnal cycle of phenomena, i. 61. 
Dog, wild, new species of, ii. 254. 
Dolphins, fresh-water, i. 146, 303 ; 

ii. 264. 
Domesticable animals, i. 191. 
Dragon-flies, i. 105 ; ii. 31. 

Earthenware, ii. 40. 
Education, i. 37, 287 ; ii. 11. 
Electric eels, ii. 291. 
Euglossa surinamensis, ii. 45. 

Fan-leaved palms, grove of, i. 116. 
Fauna of Pard, adapted to forest, i. 
49, 120. 
— derivation of, i. 108. 

Ferns, i. 69 ; ii. 333, 387. 
Finches, ii. 57. 
Fire-ant, ii. 85, 89, 95. 
Fish-dance, ii. 276. 
Fishes, ii. 139. 

modes of capturing, i. 129 ; 
ii. 82. 
Flies, parasitic, ii. 365. 
Flowers, scarcity of, i. 70. 
Foraging ants, ii. 350. 
Free Negroes, i. 11, 320 ; ii. 397. 
Fritillary butterfly, ii. 58. 
Fruits, i. 318 ; ii. 14, 216. 

Gtoajara, bay of, i. 114. 
Goatsuckers, i. 205 ; ii. 58. 
Government officials, ii. 6. 
Gum copal, i. 83. 

Hagen, Dr., on Termites, ii. 70. 
Hapale humeralifer, ii. 55. 
jacchus, i. 99. 



Hapale pygmseus, ii. 322. 

Heliconii butterflies, i. 256 ; ii. 102. 

Helicopis Cupido and Endymion, i. 

Helicops, snake, i. 185. 
Heron, peacock, i. 82. 
Hetaira Esmeralda, i. 104. 
Histeridse, i. 210. 
Howling monkeys, i. 72, 294. 
Humidity, increase of, towards Andes, 

ii. 396. 
Humming-birds, i. 163, 179 ; ii. 29. 

Igarite canoe, description of, i. 75. 
Iguana, i. 121. 

Indians, and Brazilian land-law, i. 

— character of, i. 78. 

— defect of character of, regard- 

ing domestication of ani- 
mals, i. 191. 

— enslaving of, i. 337. 

— unsuited to a hot climate, ii. 

India-rubber tree, i. 143. 
Instinct of locality, ii. 33. 
Iriartea ventricosa, ii. 169. 

Jaburu channel, i. 225. 
Jacamars, i. 138. 
Jacuaru, ii. 52. 
Jacita>a, i. 48, 322. 
Japim, i. 16. 
Jarardca snakes, ii. 52. 
Jesuit missionaries, i. 80, 310. 
Jupati palm, i. 224. 

Kinkajou, or Jupurd, ii. 322. 

Lacre, or wax-trees, i. 293. 

Languages, Indian, i. 329 ; ii. 199. 
Leaf-carrying ant, i. 24. 
Leeches, ii. 262. 
Leprosy, ii. 15. 

Lespe's, M., on Termites, ii. 70. 
Longicorn beetles, i. 209. 
Loranthacese, on cacao-trees, i. 159. 
Loricaria fish, i. 227 ; ii. 291. 

Macaws hyacinthine, i. 133 ; ii. 

Madeira, river, i. 313. 
Majerona Indians, ii. 406. 
Mameluco settlers, i. 19, 317 ; ii. 

Manaos Indians, i. 337. 
Manatee, ii. 165. 
Mandioca, mode of packing, ii. 88. 

— planting, ii. 210. 

— plant, range of, i. 194. 
Manicueira, kind of Mandioca, ii. 83. 
Maraud Indians, ii. 381. 

Mariete Indians, ii. 377. 
Marmosets, i. 95 ; ii. 55, 321. 
Mauhes Indians, i. 279; ii. 133. 
Mason bees, ii. 43. 

wasps, ii. 40. 
Massagonistas, i. 241. 
Melipona bees, i. 70 ; ii. 43. 
Mesosemia, ii. 80. 
Midas argentatus, i. 162. 

— bicolor, i. 343. 

— leoninus, i. 98. 

— rufi venter, ii. 321. 

— rufoniger, ii. 321. 

— ursulus, i. 95. 
Mimetic analogies, i. 298. 
Miseltoe plants, i. 159. 
Missionaries, i. 80 ; ii. 104. 
Mixed breeds, names of, i. 35. 
Moira-pinima, ii. 78. 
Monasa nignfrons, i. 278. 
Money, Brazilian, ii. 74. 



Monkeys of cacao plantations, i. 323. 

— of Obydos, i. 243. 

— summary of, ii. 324. 
Montana canoe, description of, i. 75. 
Morpho butterflies, i. 103, 247, 300. 
Moths, i. 104. 

Motuca flies, i. 306. 

Mundurucu Indians, ii. 124. 

Mura Indians, i. 305, 315, 324. 

Murderer liana, i. 53. 

Murure, or vegetable mercury, ii. 79. 

Myrmica seevissima, ii. 85, 89, 95. 

Negroes, free, i. 11, 320; ii. 397, 
Night apes, ii. 315. 

Obydos, straits of, i. 237. 
(Ecodoma cephalotes, i. 23. 
(Estrus, parasitic on man, ii. 407 
Opisthocomus cristatus, i. 119. 
Opossums, ii. 110. 

Paca, i. 198, 203. 

Palm-fruits, i. 124. 

Papilio iEneides and Echelus, i. 121. 

— Lysanderand Parsodes, i. 304. 

— Sesostris and kindred, i. 51. 
Pararauflte Indians, ii. 124. 
Parauacu monkey, ii. 314. 
Parentins hill, i. 279. 

Pashiuba palm, i. 188 ; ii. 169. 

Passe Indians, ii. 240. 

Paullinia pinnata, ii. 82. 

Pelopaeus wasp, ii. 40. 

Peuririma palm, i. 292 . 

Pine-apples wild, i. 293. 

Piranha fish, ii. 90. 

Pirarucu fish, ii. 166. 

Pium flies, i. 333. 

Plants cultivated by Indians, i. 194. 

Plumieria, ii. 23. 

Puma, i, 176. 
Pumice-stones, ii. 170. 
Pupunha palm, ii. 218. 

Kahphoccelus Jacapa, i. 15. 
Ramphastos Cuvieri, ii. 336. 

— Toco, ii. 336. 

— Vitellinus, i. 61. 
Rattlesnakes, i. 295 ; ii. 100. 
Rice, wild, i. 194 ; ii. 300. 

Sand-wasps, ii. 33. 

Sapucaya nut-tree, i. 67. 

Sapu-pira wood, ii. 79. 

Saiiba ant, i. 23, 101, 128. 

Shells, i. 139 ; ii. 25, 30. 

Shumana Indians, ii. 274. 

Sloths, ii. 56. 

Snakes, i. 184. 

Snuff-taking amongst Indians, i. 330. 

Species, origin of, i. 255, 

Spider monkeys, i. 244. 

Spiders, i. 106, 160 ; ii. 58. 

Spix and Martius, i. 217. 

Steam Navigation Company, i. 338. 

Striped wood, ii. 78. 

Sucu-uba, ii. 23. 

Surubim fish, ii. 256. 

Tabatinga-clay formation, i. 236, 

281,307, 308; ii. 394. 
Tanagers, i. 15, 322 ; ii. 334. 
Tattooing, ii. 127. 
Tauari cigarette wrappers, i. 321. 
Teius teguexim, ii. 52, 
Termites, i. 205 ; ii. 60. 
Tetrachse, i. 207. 
Ticks, i. 291. 

Tides felt on the Cupari, ii. 122. 
Tiger-beetles, i. 207, 323. 
Tiger, black, ii. 256. 



Timber trees, ii. 78. 

Timbo. poisonous liana, ii. 82. 

Toads, ii. 59. 

Tobacco cultivation, i. 321. 

Tonka-bean tree, ii. 49. 

Tortoise-shell wood, ii. 78. 

Toucans, i. 61 ; ii. 336. 

— use of beak of, ii. 338. 

— curl-crested, ii. 343. 
Trabalhadores, captains of, ii. 93. 
Tracaja turtle, ii. 253. 
Trade-wind of Amazons, i. 213. 
Trees of forest, i. 67, 68. 
Trogons, i. 138, 254, 345 ; ii. 340. 
Trypoxylon, ii. 42. 

Tucuna Indians, ii. 401. 
Tucunare fish, ii. 82, 106. 
Tucupi sauce, i. 319. 
Tupinambarana, island of, i. 2S4. 
Tupi language, i. 77 ; ii. 199. 

— nation, i. 285. 
Turtle, modes of cooking, ii. 212. 

Ubusstj palm, i. 116, 223. 

Umbrella bird, ii. 283. 
Umiri, scent, ii. 23. 
Unicorn bird, i. 277. 
Urania Leilus, i. 198. 
Urari poison, ii. 16, 238. 
Urubu river, i. 322. 

Vampire, ii. 332. 
Victoria water-lilies, i. 282. 
Vigilinga canoe, description of, i. 112. 
Vultures, i. 296. 

Wallace, A.R., ascent of Rio Negro, 

i. 347. 
Water-beetles, ii. 31. 
Willows, i. 277. 
Witchcraft, ii. 53. 
Wren, i. 15. 

Yellow fever, i. 349. 

Ygapo or flooded forests, i. 290.