no . 2
Joseph Earl and
Collection of 19th
Brigham Young University Library
BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY
3 1197 22886 3004
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INCLUDING / JT
A RESIDENCE AT PARA.
WILLIAM H. EDWARDS.
Umbrella Chatterer. — Page 156.
D. APPLETON & COMPANY, 200 BROADWAY
GEO. S. APPLETON, 148 CHESNUT-ST.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1847,
By WILLIAM H EDWARDS,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District of New -York.
HENRY LONGFELLOW NORRIS, ESQ.,
Ks most vesjpectfulli) Knscrtfcetr,
Leave New- York for Para— Sunset— Curiosities of the sea— Luminous water— Ap-
proach the mouth of the Amazon— Salinas— Entrance of the river— Scenery-
Arrival at Para 13
Morning view of the harbor and city— Visit— Land at the Punto de Pedras— Novel
scene— Reception at Mr. Norris's— Garden and plants— Electrical eel— Anaconda-
Religious procession 17
Founding of Para— Late disturbances — Site and vicinity — Form of the city — Rosinhas —
Houses— Largo da Palacio, da Polvora, da duartel— Public buildings— Churches — Palaces
— Theatre — Cathedral— Rua da Mangabeiras— Nazare — Mr. Henderson's plantation —
RosinhaofMr. Smith, and fruit trees — Coffee— Pine-apples— Oranges — Limes— Man-
goes — Inga — Alligator pears — Custard apple — Flowers 23
License of residence — Officials — Provincial government — Church establishment — Troops
— Enrollment of Indians — Drilling recruits — Absence of inns — Foreigners — Citizens —
Manner of living — Public ball — Mechanics — Obstructions to labor — Apprentices and
school — Carrying burdens — Water jars — Rearing of children — Food of lower classes — ■
Mandioca and preparation of farinha — Tapioca — Fish — Beef— Vegetables — Fruits —
Pacovas — Cocoa-nuts — Assai palms 33
Leave Para for the Rice Mills — Boatmen — Night scene upon the water — Arrival — Vi-
cinity of the mills — A Brazilian forest — Sporting — Toucans — Chatterers — Motmots —
Manikins— Humming-birds — Snake stories — Absence of flies — Ants — Saiibas — Cupims
— Little Ant-eater — Lakes — Nests ofTroopials — Sloth — Armadillo — Beetles — Puma —
Monkeys — Indian boy — Description of the mills — Blacks — Sleeping in hammocks —
Vampire bats — Wasps' nests — Visit Corentiores — Sporting there — Reception — Bread
fruit — Larangeira — Cotton tree — Maseranduba or Cow tree — Walk through the forest
to the city — Spider — Flowers 42
Start for Caripg— Island scene— Arrival— Vicinity — Tomb of Mr. Graham— Dinner— -
Shelling in the bay — Varieties of shells — Martins — Terns— Nuts and fruits— Mode
of fishing— Four-eyed fish — Ant tracks — Moqueens— Forest— Creeping plants— Wild
hogs, or Peccaries— Traps— Agoutis— Pacas— Squirrels— Birds— Chapel and singing of
the blacks — Andiroba oil 64
Leave for Taiiaii — Indians — Arrival at midnight — Morning view — The estate — Tuaria
or Pottery — Lime kiln — Slaves — Castanha tree — Cuya or Gourd tree — Ant hills —
An ant battle — Forest — Macaws — Doves — Other birds — Sloth — Coati — Macura —
Butterflies — Return to the city — Festival of Judas— Visit Sr. Angelico, upon the
Guama — Brazilian country house — Curious air-plant — Seringa or Rubber trees —
Harpy Eagle — Monkeys 73
Leave Para for Vigia — Boatmen — Inland passage — Egrets and herons — Stop at sugar
plantation — Cupuassu — Mangroves — Insolence of pilot — Vigia — Arrival at Sr. Godin-
ho's — Reception — The Campinha and its scenery — Sporting — Parrots— Employes— Sun-
bird — Boat-bill — Tinami — Iguana lizard — Sugar cane — Mill — Slaves — Leave the Cam-
pinha — Kingfishers — Go below for Ibises — Sand-flies — Return to Para — A pet ani-
First discovery of the Amazon by Pinzon — Expedition of Gonzalo Pizarro — Descent of
Orellaua — Settlement of Para — Second descent — Ascent of Teixera, and arrival at
Quito — He descends with Acufia — Indian tribes — Rivers, etc. — Their report of the
country — Number of tribes — Indian customs — Languages — Lingoa Geral — Canni-
bals — System of the Jesuits — Their banishment — Present system, and condition of
the Indians — Their government — Compulsory labor 98
Preparations for ascending the Amazon — Our companions — The galliota — Indians — Pro-
visions — Difficulties at starting — Detained at Sr. Lima's — Incident — An afternoon
upon the beach — Another sitio — Marajo — The Tocantins — Islands — Ciganas and other
birds — Wood scene — Habits of our Indians — Arrive at Braves — Pottery painting —
Water-jars — Filing the teeth — Funeral of a child — A palm swamp — Seringa trees and
gum collectors — Sloth — Howling monkeys — An adventure — Enter the Amazon — A
macaw hunt 106
Arrive at Gurupa — Situation of the town — Reception by the Commandante — An egg
hunt — Storm — Cross the Xingu — Carapanas — Cedar logs — Harpy Eagle — Birds —
Mountains— Indian cooking — Forest trees— Snake birds — A Toucan's nest — Mut.ucas —
Indian improvidence — Grass fields — Enter an Igaripe — Hyacinthine Macaws — Passion
flowers — Pass Pryinha — Monte Alegre — Arrive at Sitios — Thrush — Campo — Incident
— Enter the Tapajos — White Herons — Flowering trees — Arrival at Santarem — Capt.
Hislop — Morning calls — Beef — River Tapajos — Feather dresses — Embalmed heads —
Description of Santarem — Departure — A slight difficulty 119
The Amazon thus far — A cacao sitio — Politeness — Runaways — Growing of cacao — An
alligator — High bank — Deserted sitio — Kingfishers — Romances — Water birds — Arrive
at.Obidos — Rio des Trombetas — Incidents upon leaving — Manner of ascending the
river — Shells — Stop at a sitio — High bluff— Water plants — Capitan des Trabalhadores
— Arrive at Villa Nova — Festa of St. Juan — Water scene — A Villa Nova house —
Turtles — Stroll in the woods — Lakes 133
Leave Villa Nova — Our manner of living— Shells— Jacamars— Paroquets— Monkeys —
Scorpion— Enter an igaripe— A deserted sitio— Wild duck — Scarlet Tanagers— A
deserted sitio — Tobacco — Shells — A colony of monkeys — A turtle's revenge — Im-
mense trees — Albino monkey — A self-caught fish — Porpoises — Curassows and nests —
A turtle feast— Squirrel — Wild Indians— White herons— Shells — Umbrella chatterer
— Cross to the northern shore — Periecu and Tambaki — Arrive at Serpa — Sr. Manoel
Jochin — An Indian dance 147
Fourth of July at Serpa — Lake Saraca — An accession — Pic-nic — An opossum — Narrow
passage — Swallow-tailed hawks — Sitio of the Delegarde — River Madeira — Village of
our Taugha — Appearance of his party on arriving at home — The old rascal — Bell-
bird — Stop at a sitio, and reception — Orioles — A cattle sitio — Swift current — Enter
the Rio Negro — Arrive at Barra 161
Rio Negro at Barra — The town — Old fort — Sr. Henriquez and family— Manner of liv-
ing — Venezuelans — Piassaba rope — Grass hammocks — Feather work — Descent of the
Negro — Gallos de Serra — Chili hats — Woods in the vicinity — Trogons — Chatterers —
Curassows — Guans — Parrots and Toucans — Humming Birds — Tiger Cats — Squirrels —
A Tiger story — The Casueris — A Yankee saw-mill — Mode of obtaining logs — A
Pic-nic — Cross the river to a campo — Cattle and horses — A select ball . . 172
A new river — Rio Branco — Turtle wood — Unexplored region — Traditions — Peixe boi or
Cow Fish — Turtles — Influences at Barra — Indians — Foreigners — Indian articles —
Poison used upon arrows — Traffic — Balsam Copaivi — Salsa — Q,uinia — Vanilla — Ton-
ga beans — Indigo — Guarana — Pixiri or nutmeg — Seringa — Wild cotton — Rock salt —
The Amazon above the Rio Negro — The Rio Negro 185
CHAPTER XVII. '
Prepare to leave Barra — Difficulty in obtaining men — The mail — Kindness of our
friends — Re-enter the Amazon — Arrive at Serpa — A desertion — Working one's
passage — Disorderly birds — Pass Tabocal — Snake-bird — Marakong Geese — Breeding
place of Herons — Arrive at Villa Nova — The commandante — Visit to the Lake —
Boat building — Military authorities — School — King of the Vultures — Parting with
Sr. Bentos — Pass Obidos — Caracara Eagle — Our crew — Indian name of the Ama-
Arrive at Santarem— Negro stealing— Pass Monte Alegre — Strong winds— Usefulness of
the Sun-bird — Family government — Reformation in the Paroquets — Low shore — A
Congress — Otters — Enter the Xingu— Guru pa— Leave the Amazon— Assai palms —
A friend lost and a friend gained— Braves— Our water jars— Crossing the bay of
Limoeiro— Seringa trees — A lost day — Town of Santa Anna— Igaripe Merim— Enter
the Moju— Manufacture of rubber shoes— Anatto— Arrival at Para . . . 211
Our Lady of Nazareth — Nazare legend — Procession — Commencement of the festa— A
walk to Nazare— Gambling— Services in the chapel— An interesting incident . 223
Leave Para for Marajo — Voyage — Cape Magoary — Islands — A morning scene — Arrive
at Juugcal — A breakfast — Birds — Vicinity of Jungcal ..... 229
Description of Marajo — Cattle — Tigers — Alligators — Snakes — Antas — Wild ducks — Scar-
let Ibises — Roseate Spoonbills — Wood Ibises — Other birds — Island of Mixiana — Indian
burial places — Caviana — Macapa — Bore or Pororoca — Leave Jungcal for the rookery
— A sail among the trees — Alligators — The rookery — Return — An alligator's nest —
Adieu to Jungcal — Violence of the tide — Loading cattle — Voyage to Para . 234
Want of emigrants and laborers — Inducements to settlers, and disadvantages — Citizen-
ship — Import and export duties and taxes — Want of circulating medium — Embarrass-
ments of government — Capabilities of the Province — Effect of climate on the whites —
The blacks — Inducements to the formation of a steamboat company — Seasons — Tem-
perature — Health — Superior advantages to invalids — Farewell to Para — Voyage
In these stirring times, when all Anglo-Saxondom is on the
qui-vive for novelty, and the discovery of a new watering-
place is hailed with more enthusiasm than the discovery of a
new planet; — when the "universal Yankee nation" has so
nearly exhausted all the whereabouts which modern facilities
for locomotion have brought so conveniently within its reach;
—when the Old World has become also an old story, and
Summer excursions to St. Petersburg and Tornea, and Winter
sojourns in Australia and Typee, have afforded amusement,
not only to travelers themselves, but to those who, at their
own fire-sides, like equally w T ell to take a trip to the ends of
the Earth in their comfortable arm-chairs ; it has been a mat-
ter of surprise to me, that those who live upon the excitement
of seeing and telling some new thing, have so seldom betaken
themselves to our Southern continent.
Promising indeed to lovers of the marvelous is that land,
where the highest of Earth's mountains seek her brightest
skies, as though their tall peaks sought a nearer acquaintance
with the most glorious of stars; where the mightiest of rivers
roll majestically through primeval forests of boundless extent,
concealing, yet bringing forth the most beautiful and varied
forms of animal and vegetable existence ; where Peruvian
gold has tempted, and Amazonian women have repulsed, the
unprincipled adventurer ; and where Jesuit missionaries, and
luckless traders, have fallen victims to cannibal Indians, and
With a curiosity excited by such wonders, and heightened
by the graphic illustrations in school geographies, where men
riding rebellious alligators form a foreground to tigers bound-
ing over tall canes, and huge snakes embrace whole boats'
crews in their ample folds ; the writer of this unpretending
volume, in company with his relative, Amory Edwards, Esq.,
late U. S. Consul at Buenos Ayres, visited Northern Brazil,
and ascended the Amazon to a higher point than, to his know-
ledge, any American had ever before gone.
As an amusement, and by way of compensation to himself
for the absence of some of the monsters which did not meet
his curious eye, he collected as many specimens in different
departments of Natural History as were in his power, at the
same time chronicling the result of his observations, in the hope
that they might not be unacceptable to the naturalist or to the
To the science of a naturalist he makes no pretensions, but
as a lover, and devout worshiper of Nature, he has sought
her in some of her most secret hiding-places, and from these
comparatively unexplored retreats, has brought the little which
she deigned to reveal to him.
The country of the Amazon is the garden of the world,
possessing every requisite for a vast population and an ex-
tended commerce. It is, also, one of the healthiest of regions;
and thousands who annually die of diseases incident to the
climates of the North, might here find health and long life.
If this little book shall contribute to a more general know-
ledge of the advantages of such a country, the labor of its
preparation will be amply repaid.
New- York, May, 1847.
VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
Leave New- York for Para — Sunset — Curiosities of the sea— Luminous water — Ap-
proach the mouth of the Amazon — Salinas — Entrance of the river— Scenery-
Arrival at Para.
It was a cold morning, the 9th of February, 1846, that we
left New- York, in the bark Undine, Capt. Appieton, for Para.
Our fellow-passengers were Mr. Smith, the U. S. Consul of
that port, his lady, and two young gentlemen, in quest, like
ourselves, of adventures. Scarcely out of sight of Sandy
Hook, a furious northwester burst upon us, and. for a week, we
dashed on before it, at a rate to startle a landsman, had not
the accompanying motion speedily induced that peculiar state,
in which one would as lief not be, as be, and inclined to consider
a bed beneath the waters as preferable to present torture. But
the golden-haired spirit at the prow always smiled hopefully,
and gallantly the noble bark sped onward to calmer waters
and warmer skies. Here the sea was all loveliness, and, night
by night, the scantily appareled sky of the north was disap-
pearing before the as steadily advancing brilliance of the tropics.
We watched the gradual descending of the north star ; and
when at last it sank below the horizon, it seemed as though an
old and familiar friend had deserted us, — one whose place was
not to be supplied even by the splendor of the southern cross.
By the twentieth day, we were near land, to the eastward
14 A VOYAGE UP THE RTVER AMAZON.
of Salinas, having seen and enjoyed the usual sea-sights.
Most memorable of these was a sunset, as we lay becalmed.
The few snow-piled clouds that rested upon the water, gra-
dually became suffused with flame, and the sea's surface was
a sheen of green and gold, varying from one color to the other,
as the rolling of the vessel changed our angle of view. A
vapor fringe of rainbow hues circled the horizon, more lovely
because rapidly changing, and beheld, as it were, through an
atmosphere of floating golden particles. One by one the stars
peeped out, and we fancied that we could detect a shade of
sadness over their beautiful faces at having come too late.
We had seen sharks and brilliant-robed dolphins. A
grampus had risen under the bow, and flying-fish had repeat-
edly flown on board. Many an hour we had whiled in fishing
up gulf weed, and in observing the different species of animals
with which it was filled.
As we neared the equator, the water became luminous;
the waves were crested with fire ; the vessel's path was one
broad track of light, and as we took our shower bath under the
pump, liquid flames dashed over us, and every drop was a
splendor. To heighten our interest in the phenomenon, a
score of porpoises were playing about in every direction, their
tracks a living flame, contorted, zigzag, like fiery serpents.
Now they would shoot out, rocket-like, leaving trains of thirty
feet; now, darting back, pursue each other round and round,
till their path appeared a tangled skein of light.
The blue had changed to green; and long before land was
visible, the green had lost itself in the muddy brown of the
Amazon. Every where were discernible currents, known from
afar, by their different hues, and by the furious boiling of their
surfaces. Old Ocean was battling with the King of Rivers.
Tossed about in the commotion were vast quantities of drift
wood, fruits and plants. Huge fish-hawks were lazily flapping
along. Gulls and terns were screaming.
In the night, a number of beautifully marked moths, at-
tracted by our lights, visited us, and soon after daybreak, an
inquisitive humming-bird came for a peep at the strangers,
flitted about us a little time, then darted away to his home.
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 15
Salinas is an island at the month of the river, conspicuous
from a distance, owing to its broad, white beach. It is prin-
cipally inhabited by fishermen. We observed a few red-tiled,
houses, and an ancient white church. Here, vessels bound to
Para usually take a pilot; but owing to the vexatious delays
often experienced, American captains prefer trusting to their
own skill. Directly at the entrance of the river are two banks,
Braganza and Tigoca, dreaded by sailors ; beyond these, the
navigation is easy. Para is situated about eighty miles above ;
but such is the force of the descending tide and current, that
from twenty-four to thirty hours are frequently required to
overcome the short distance.
It was delightful to find ourselves once more in quiet
water, and a luxury only appreciable by those who have been
rolled and pitched about, until every bone seems rheumatic,
and every muscle jelly-like, to sleep as stilly as on land. We
had anchored inside the banks : before daybreak, we were
again advancing ; and, that morning, every passenger was
early upon the look-out. The speedy termination of the voyage
put us all in high spirits, and impatiently we snuffed the per-
fumed air that came wafted from the yet scarce visible shore.
The island of Marajo gradually became distinguishable on
the right, its tree tops but just fringing the water. To the left,
long, low islands extended to within a few miles of the city.
All day, our course was near these, and to one never before
conusant of tropical luxuriance, and a truant from the wintry
skies of the north, every thing was enchanting.
Impervious as a hedge, tall trees shot up their arrow-like
stems; broad palm leaves undulated with every breath. A
thousand shades of green were enameled with flowers, in red,
and white, and gold. The loud notes of the toucans, the shrill
cries of parrots greeted our welcome ; and about the vessel,
twittered delightedly numbers of martins, the same old friends
who used, at home, to disturb us in the early morning. Here and
there, little patches of clearing, and haystack-shaped huts, in-
dicated the home of some ease-loving Indian. Some of these
huts consisted merely of a few poles, covered with palm thatch,
but occasionally, a delicious little retreat would peep at us
16 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
through the almost concealing shrubbery, surrounded by a
grass-plot, and overshadowed by the huge leaves of the bana-
na, or the feathery tufts of the cocoa tree. In front of one hut,
upon a grassy knoll facing the river, stood a large cross, de-
signed to warn away any evil spirit that should venture there.
Happy ones ! none but fairies, and good angels, should be wel-
come to such a paradise.
Often we saw men and women, walking upon the beach, or
variously employed, and it was amusing to observe their pan-
tomimic movements. Huge canoes, hollowed from single trees,
and with mat sails, crept along shore : and the first strange
voice that we had heard since leaving New-York, hailed us from
one of these, with the friendly " O Amigo."
Twenty miles below the city, a number of islands are sprin-
kled about the channel, one of which was pointed out as the last
resort of the inhabitants of Para, when the city was sacked by
the rebel Indians, a few years since. Upon that lovely spot of
green, five thousand persons died of exposure and starvation.
Para is situated upon a little bay, forming a safe anchorage,
and is visible, from below, a little more than ten miles. At
about that distance, is the Quarantine, not now a terror to trav-
ellers. Here, a little boat, rigged with two antique triangular
sails, and manned by negroes bare to the waist, pulled along-
side, and left with us a custom-house guard, who was to pre-
vent intercourse with the shore.
Night was coming on, but still there was light enough to
display to our eager eyes, the position of the city, nestled in its
bed of green, and smiled upon by an archipelago of islands.
Rain commenced pouring, and we were fain to go below. The
guard at the fort bid us pass on, and, by eight, we were anchor-
ed off the custom-house. It was too late for a visit, and we
turned in, impatient for the morning. All night long, church
bells were ringing, and clocks striking, and, at intervals, we
could distinguish the notes of a bugle, or the loud cry of the
patrol ; all doubly cheerful, after the mournful wailing of the
wind through the rigging, and the monotonous dashing of the
sea, which had been our melancholy lullaby, for so many weeks.
Morning view of the harbor and city — Visit — Land at the Punto de Pedras — Novel
scene — Reception at Mr. Norris's — Garden and plants — Electrical eel — Anaconda —
Religious procession. «
We had arrived in the midst of the wet season, and, all
night, the rain poured incessantly. But, as the sun rose, the
clouds broke away, and our first view was rendered still more
agreeable by the roseate mist that draped the tree tops and
lingered over the city. Anchored about us, were vessels of
various nations and strange looking river craft, under whose
thatched roofs, whole families seemed to be living, and, upon
which, green parrots and macaws were clambering and
Canoes, bound to the market, were constantly passing,
loaded with all kinds of produce. Fine looking buildings, of
three and four stories height, faced the water, all yellow in
color, and roofed with red tiles. Vast cathedrals and churches,
covered with the mould of age, shot up their tall spires, their
walls and roofs affording sustenance and support to venerable
mosses and shrubs of goodly size. Garden walls were over-
hung with creeping vines, like ancient ruins. Vultures were
leisurely wheeling over the city, or, in clusters, upon the house-
tops, spreading their wings to the sun. Mid the ringing of
bells and the discharge of rockets, a long procession was issu-
ing from the church of San Antonio ; and a Babel of sounds,
from dogs and parrots, and strange tongues, came over the
At about nine o'clock, the doctor of the port visited us;
and soon after, an official of the custom-house examined our
passports, and left with each of us a notification to present
18 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
ourselves, within three days, to the chief of police, and to
obtain from him a license of residence. We were then pro-
nounced at liberty to go on shore.
It was low tide, and as no wharves run out for the con-
venience of vessels, we were obliged to land at the market-
place, the Punto de Pedras, a long, narrow pier. It would be
impossible to conceive a more utterly novel tableau than here
broke upon us. It was an introduction, at once, to half that
was curious in the city. Files of canoes skirt the whole
length of the pier, high and dry above the water. The more
fortunate occupants, who have sold their wares, are variously
engaged: some, sleeping; others, preparing their morning
meal ; others, combing and arranging their luxuriant tresses
— for even an Indian woman has a little vanity ; and others,
the most of all, chattering with their neighbors, or screaming
in shrill tones to friends on shore. Here are negroes of every
shade of color, from the pure Congo, to the almost pure
white ; some buying, some selling. There stands one, with
his basket of coarse cotton cloth and his yard-stick ; and close
by, an old wench is squatted by a pot of yellow soup, the ex-
tract of some palm nut. Here are strings of inviting fish, and
piles of less captivating terrapins ; coarse baskets, filled with
Vigia crabs, the best in the world ; and others of palm leaves,
fashioned like a straw reticule, are swelled out with the deli-
cious snails. Monkeys, fastened to clogs, entice you to pur-
chase them by their antics ; and white herons, and various
other wild birds, by their beauty. Every where, and most
numerous of all, are the fruit-dealers; and for a mere nothing,
all the luxuries of this fruit-prolific clime are yours. Beau-
tiful bouquets of flowers invite a purchaser ; and now, for the
first time, you observe the singularly neat appearance of the
women, each dressed in white, and with a flower in her hair,
and you remember that it is a holiday. Oddly-dressed soldiers
mingle among the crowd ; inquisitive officials peer about for
untaxed produce ; sailors, from vessels in the harbor, are
constantly landing ; gentlemen of the city are down for their
morning stroll ; beautiful Indian girls flit by, like visions ;
and scores of boys and girls, in all the freedom of nakedness,
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 19
contend with an equal number of impudent goats, for the pri-
vilege of running over you.
Through this motley assemblage we picked our way, ac-
companied by Captain Appleton, to the house of Mr. Norris,
the consignee of the Undine. Mr. Norris received us with all
the warmth of an old friend, and immediately insisted upon
our making his house our home. It was a home to us during
our stay at Para ; and the generosity of Mr. N. has placed us
under obligations easily understood by those, who, like our-
selves, have found a home and a friend among strangers.
Our first excursion extended no further than the garden,
at the rear of the house; but even that little distance opened
to us a new world. It was laid out in home style, with neat
walks and raised flower-beds. A number of curious birds
were skulking among the shrubbery, or stalking along the
path with the dignity and self-possession of birds at home.
This domestication of wild birds, we afterwards found to be
common throughout the province. They are restrained from
truancy Dy the high fences that surround the gardens : and
ibises and spoonbills, varieties of herons, rails, et tnulti alii,
are as frequently seen as domestic fowls. But ihe legitimate
occupants were of greater interest than these strangers : and
here grew in perfection, the banana, the orange, the fig, the
tamarind, the cotton tree, the sugar cane ; and over the fence,
on the soil of a neighbor, a lofty cocoa tree displayed its clusters
of ripening nuts. Instead of the puny sensitive-plant, that in
the north, struggles almost hopelessly for frail existence, a
giant shrub threw out its nervous arms, all flowering, and the
attraction of passing butterflies.
Amid this profusion, there was nothing to remind us of the
home that we had left ; but, afar off, in one lone corner, stood
a solitary stalk of Indian corn, lank and lean, an eight feet
spindling, clasped nervously by one sorry ear. Poor thing, it
spoke touchingly of exile.
Passing out of the garden, our next visit was compliment-
ary to an eel: not one of the unhallowed denizens of muddy
ponds, or stagnant waters; but an electrical eel, large and
handsome, swimming about in his tub of clear rain water, with
20 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
the grace of a water king. This fellow was about four feet in
length, and along his whole lower part extended a wide fin,
by whose curvings he appeared to propel himself. We often,
afterwards, amused our leisure in observing this eel, and in ex-
perimenting upon his electrical power. This did not seem to
be concentrated in any particular part, or organ, for touch him
where we would, the violence of the shock seemed the same,
and equalled an ordinary shock from a machine. When very
hungry, or particularly spiteful, he would transmit his power
through the water to a considerable distance. His usual food
was crabs, and when these were thrown in to him, he swam to-
wards them, stunned them by a touch of his head, and either
caught them immediately, or allowed them to fall to the bottom
of the tub, to be devoured at leisure.
These eels are common in the small streams about Para,
and, indeed, throughout the whole northern part of the conti-
nent, and they often attain great size. One that we afterwards
saw at Senhor Pombo's, was about six feet long, and five or six
inches in diameter. We heard frequent accounts of their pow-
er over large animals in the water. The negroes catch them by
first teazing them, until they have exhausted the electrical
power. We ate of them, at different times, but they were too
fishy in taste to be agreeable, without strong correctives.
Near by, was disclosed to us a young anaconda, nicely coiled
up in the bottom of a barrel, and looking as innocent as a dove.
This fellow was pointed out as something rather diminutive,
but to our unfamiliar eyes, a snake of ten feet length seemed
very like a monster. His customary food was rats. These
snakes are kept about many houses in Para for protection
against rats, and two who had escaped from Mr. Norris's barrels,
now prowled at large, and effectually cleared the premises of
these vermin. They are perfectly harmless, and never molest
domestic fowls or animals upon the premises, excepting, now
and then, a young chicken.
This day was a festival. The saint was popular, business
was suspended, public offices were closed, and the whole city
was preparing to do him honor. Such days, in Para, always
end in processions, and when, late in the afternoon, the crack-
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 21
ling of rockets, and the sounds of martial music, proclaimed the
procession already formed, we walked to the Rua da Cadeira,
the Broadway of Para, and took our stand among crowds of
citizens, all, apparently, as much interested as ourselves in the
coming events. The balconies above were filled with gayly
dressed ladies, and bright eyes were impatient to pay their
homage to the benignant saint, or to exact a homage, more sin-
cere, perhaps, from their own admirers below.
Immediately succeeding a fine military band, walked a num-
ber of penitents, wearing crowns of thorns, and almost en-
shrouded in long, black veils. It was evident enough that pec-
cadilloes were not all confined to the whites, for, below the veils,
bared feet displayed as many hues as we had seen in the mar-
ket-place. These penitents surrounded a tall banner, borne by
one of their number, who staggered beneath its weight ; a fair
penance for many a hearty sin.
Friars, with corded waists and shaven crowns, and priests,
in long black robes, came next. Little angels followed, bright,
happy things, and beautiful, as though they had come down to
cheer the present sufferings of the weary one, who bore his
cross behind. Each wore upon her head a crown of flowers,
and exquisite devices decked her white gauze dress. Wings
of a butterfly, or some shorn Cupid, told how she came ; she
bore a wine cup in her hand, and as she stepped, tiny bells
sent out low music. She was unaccustomed to our rough
walks here, and, at her side, a seraph boy guided her faltering
Then came the Christ, bending beneath the heavy cross.
The crowd was stilled, the Host passed by, and respect, or ado-
ration, were testified by raised hat, or bended knee.
A number of other figures succeeded, and the line was
closed by the troops. A few whites followed, curious as our-
selves ; but the whole negro and Indian population were drawn
along, as a matter of course. Nearly all the negro women
were profusely ornamented with gold, partly the fruit of their
own savings, and often, the riches of their lady mistresses, who
lend them willingly upon such occasions. Some wore chains of
gold beads, passing several times about the neck, and sustain-
22 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVEH AMAZON.
ing a heavy golden cross. All wore ear-rings, and the elder
women, both black and Indian, overtopped their heads by huge
tortoise-shell combs. The Indian girls, who were in large num-
bers, were almost always beautiful, with regular features, fine
forms, black, lustrous eyes, and luxuriant locks, that fell over
their shoulders. Many women carried upon their heads trays,
covered with a neat towel, and well provided with temptations
to errant coin.
At intervals along the street, were little buildings, in which
temporary altars were fitted up in all the glare and gaudiness
of wax candles and tinsel. Every one raised his hat upon
passing these, and the more devout knelt before them, deposit-
ing some coin at their departure.
In the evening, the churches were brilliantly lighted, and
in the alcoves, before the images of the saint, knelt crowds of
ladies, the elite of Para. At each altar priests officiated, their
attention much distracted between the fair penitents at their
side, and the dulcet tones in the money plate before them.
Another procession, by torch-light, closed the exercises,
and at last, wearied with sight-seeing, we wended our way
homeward, to the embrace of luxurious hammocks, that gently
received us, without the usual misadventure of the uninitiated
Founding of Para — Late disturbances — Site and vicinity — Form of the city — Rosinhas —
Houses— Largo da Palacio, da Polvora, da Quartel — Public buildings— Churches — Palaces
— Theatre — Cathedral — Rua da Mangabeiras — Nazare — Mr. Henderson's plantation —
Rosinha of Mr. Smith, and fruit trees — Coffee — Pine-apples — Oranges — Limes — Man-
goes — Inga — Alligator pears — Custard apple — Flowers.
The popular name of this city, Para, is derived from the
river, its proper designation being Belem, or Bethlehem. Cal-
deira, in 1615, entered what he supposed to be the main
Amazon, and learning from the natives that this was, in their
language, the King of Waters, called it, appropriately, Para;
or rather, to hallow it by a Christian baptism, the Gram Para.
Continuing up the river, this adventurer at last fixed upon a
site, near the junction of several streams, now known as the
Guama, the Acara, and the Moju, for a city, that should there-
after be a glory to our Lady of Belem. Our Lady is still the
patron saint, but the name of her city is almost entirely for-
gotten in that of Para.
We will not recount the long series of events that have
transpired since Caldeira here first planted the cross. They
would be of little interest to the general reader, and we prefer
to look at the city as it now is, merely making such allusions
to the past, as shall serve to render description more intelli-
The only event that requires particular mention, is the
Revolution of 1835, and the following year. The President of
the province was assassinated, as were very many private indi-
viduals of respectability, and the city was in possession of the
insurgent troops, assisted by designing whites and Indians. All
the citizens who could, fled for their lives; many to Portugal,
and many to the United States and England. The whole
24 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
province, with the exception of the town of Cameta, upon the
Tocantins, fell into the hands of the rebels, and every where,
the towns were sacked, cities despoiled, cattle destroyed, and
slaves carried away. The rebels were constantly quarreling
among themselves, and several Presidents succeeded each
other. At last, after this state of anarchy had continued
nearly eighteen months, President Andrea arrived from Rio
Janeiro with a sufficient force, and succeeded, without much
difficulty, in recovering possession of the city. One by one, the
inland towns returned to their allegiance. The disastrous
effect of these disturbances is still felt, and a feeling of present
insecurity is very general, but still, Para has fully recovered her
former position, and may retain it, if the provincial govern-
ment guides itself with sufficient discretion.
The whole Amazonian region is low, and the site of the
city boasts no advantage in this respect, being, at most, but a
few feeV above the level of the river at flood tide. Every
where, nature displays the most exuberant fertility, and this,
which, in most countries between the tropics, is a prolific
source of pestilence and death, is here so modified by other
elements as to be a blessing. During the rainy season, when,
for several months, rain falls daily, and for several weeks, almost
incessantly, the surface of the ground is never long covered
with water ; for, so sandy is the soil, that, no sooner have the
clouds broken away, than the waters have disappeared, and
excepting the bright jewels that sparkle profusely upon every
leaf, little else remains to tell of the furious outpourings of the
previous hour. During what is termed the dry season, from
June to December, more or less rain falls weekly, and vegeta-
tion is never disrobed of her perennial green. The steady
trade winds from the East come fraught with invigorating sea
air, tempering the fierce sun-heat, making the nights of a de-
lightful coolness, and preventing that languor of feeling so in-
separable from the equatorial climes of the East.
Old traditions, handed down as applicable to modern times,
by all-knowing Encyclopedists, represent the climate of Para
as having been unhealthy, but in some respects improved of
late years. These reports probably arose from the injudicious
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 25
method of living introduced by the earlier colonists, and perse-
vered in, until experience taught them to accommodate their
habits to the clime. But, of late years, they have been studi-
ously detailed and exaggerated by monopolizing mercantile
houses; and when we desired to venture to the country of the
Amazon, it was next to impossible to obtain any sort of infor-
mation relative to Para, except a general report of heat and
unhealthiness. 1 shall speak more of this hereafter, with ref-
erence to the singularly superior advantages which Para pre-
sents to invalids.
The whole city is laid out in squares, and, from the peculiar
manner in which it is built, covers a much larger area, than,
from its population of fifteen thousand, one would suppose.
Near the river, and in the part more especially devoted to bu-
siness, the houses adjoin, upon streets of convenient width ; but
elsewhere, each square is usually the residence of but one pro-
prietor, who here enjoys all the advantages of both city and
country. These residences are termed rosinhas. Fruit trees,
of every variety common to the clime, mingle with beautiful
flowers, and it requires but little taste in the master or ladies of
the mansion to embower themselves in a paradise. Most of
these houses are but of one story, built upon two or three sides
of a square, covering a great area, and containing numerous
lofty and well ventilated rooms. Very often, the entire flooring
is of neat, square tiles. A broad verandah offers both shel-
ter and shade, and here, in delicious coolness, the meals of the
day are enjoyed.
The city proper consists of houses of every height, from
one to four stories, strongly resembling each other in external
appearance. All are yellow-washed or white-washed, and or-
namented by mouldings about doors and windows. The build-
ing materials are small stones cemented in mortar, and such is
the durability of construction, that unfinished walls, in different
parts of the city, exposed, for years, to the action of the ele-
ments, show no sign of crumbling or decay. Of course, cool-
ness is the great object aimed at, and therefore, in the centre
of the house is usually an open square from top to bottom,
serving to keep up a constant current of air. Doors are all
26 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
wide, and windows rarely glazed. Generally, near the river,
the lower part of the house is occupied as a store or ware-
room, the upper stories being the residence of the family.
In front of upper windows opening upon the street are iron
balconies, favorite stands of the inmates, who here spend hours,
in the cooler parts of the day, in observing the passers below,
and sometimes, it is to be feared, coquetting with correspond-
ents over the way. It strikes one strangely that necessity has
not introduced the fashion of shaded balconies as a protection
from the sun ; but there are none such, and in positions shel-
tered from the sea breeze, the mid-day heat is excessive.
The lower houses, in the more retired streets, are mostly dwell-
ings, and the windows of these are always covered by a close
lattice, or jalousie, through whose bars dark eyes may flash upon
The streets are without sidewalks, and are badly paved
with irregular stones, which render walking excessively fa-
tiguing, and rapid riding perilous.
In different parts of the city, are public squares, called Lar-
gos. The more prominent are the Largo da Palacio (of the
palace); da Polvora (of powder); and da Quarte! (of the
barracks). The first of these is very spacious, and might be
made an ornament to the palace and the city. As it is, it is
neither more nor less than a dirty common, uneven in surface,
spotted, in the wet season, with puddles of water, and unshaded
by a single tree. Miserable, half-starved sheep, parti-colored
as goats, and libels on the ovine race, glean a poor subsistence
from the coarse rank grass. The walk across this Largo to
the palace was of rough stone, and when we first crossed it,
both daylight and dexterity were requisite ; but I am happy to
say, that, before we bade adieu to Para, preparations were
making for an avenue more consistent wtih the dignity of the
Upon the Largo da Polvora formerly stood the powder-house,
now removed to a distance from the city. Here trees were
once planted by President Andrea, but with merely exceptions
enough to show what a public blessing their preservation would
have proved, they have now disappeared. Near this Largo,
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 27
are the principal wells, whence is supplied the water for the
city, and about which, may be seen, at any time, scores of ne-
gro women, engaged in washing and bleaching clothes.
The Largo da Quartel is of small extent, fronting the bar-
racks, a long, low building, where Indian recruits are drilled
into civilization and shape. In the centre of this Largo, is a
well, about the curb of which, numbers of considerate wenches
rest their weary water-jars, and with a painful self-denial, gos-
sip and gesticulate, all day long, upon the affairs of the town.
The public buildings of Para are conspicuous objects, both
in number and size far beyond the present wants of the city ;
but wisely built for posterity, and the future inevitable magni-
tude of the depot of the Amazon. Even so long ago as 1685,
when the population numbered but five hundred, there existed
"a Mother Church, a Jesuit College, a Franciscan, a Carme-
lite, and a Mercenario Convent, two Churches, a Chapel, and
a Misericordia or Hospital." The cherished hopes of the Je-
suits have not yet been fulfilled, but " already is heard the
sound of the multitude that is coming to take possession of the
The Jesuit college has now become an ecclesiastical semi-
nary; and the convents, long since deserted of friars, save two
or three old Franciscans, have been turned to profaner uses.
That of the Carmelites, is now the palace of the assembly ;
the vast pile of the Mercenaries has become the custom-
house ; and still another is the arsenal. All these edifices
are in good preservation, and the bright green moss, which
every where has climbed the roofs, and traced the facings, in
no wise detracts from their picturesque appearance.
The palace, built about the middle of the last century, when
Portugal looked to the Amazon as the scene of her future
glory, is commensurate, in size and massiveness, with the
anticipated necessities of the empire. It is of the same style
of architecture as the Portuguese houses generally, and can
scarcely be called either grand or beautiful.
In the rear of the palace, stands the unfinished theatre,
now overgrown with shrubs and close embracing vines ; a far
greater ornament to the city, than it could have been in its
A VOYAGE TIP THE RIVER AMAZON.
The cathedral stands near the palace, upon the southern
side of the Largo ; the vastest edifice of the kind in Brazil.
Twin steeples tower aloft, from whose many bells issue most
of those chimes, that may be heard at almost any hour.
Near the arsenal, and sufficiently removed to be no nui-
sance to the city, is the public slaughter-house, where are
received all the cattle destined for the Para market. Strangers
usually walk in that direction, to observe the immense con-
gregation of vultures that are here to be seen, laboring lustily
for the public health.
There are a number of pleasant walks, within and around
the city. The most agreeable, by far, of the former, is the Rua
da Mangabeiras, a long avenue, crossed, at right angles, by a
similar rua, and both thickly skirted by mangabeira trees.
This tree attains a vast size, and throws out a more widely
spreading top than most Brazilian forest trees. Its bark is a
singular combination of colors, between green and gray; and
is of a lustrous smoothness. The ripened fruit hangs over the
branches ; large red pods, the size of a cocoa-nut, and con-
taining a yellowish, silky cotton. In the months of March
and April, these trees are divested of their leaves; and every-
where mingle in profusion, the ripened fruit, and the large,
white, crown-like flowers. Later in the season, the flowers
have given place, in turn, to a most luxuriant foliage ; and
when the sun strikes mercilessly upon every spot else, here,
all is coolness and repose. Paroquets, ravenously fond of the
cotton seeds, are every where chattering among the branches ;
and the brilliant cicadas chirp grateful thanks to him who
planted for them this delightful home. From adjacent thickets,
come the warblings of many birds; and the stranger, haply
unacquainted with the Brazilian melodists, startles, as he
hears the liquid trill of the blue bird, the joyful song of the
robin, and the oriole's mellow whistle. 'Tie a delusion ; but
the familiar tones sound none the less delightfully, from the
throats of these southern cousins, than when uttered amid the
groves and by the streams, of our own home.
The Rua da Mangabeiras is deservedly a favorite walk in
summer, and in the early morning, or after sunset, it is con-
stantly thronged with groups of joyous citizens.
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 29
Another delightful walk, as well as the usual route for eques-
trians, is towards Nazare, distant about two miles from the pal-
ace, and one mile from the city. Here is a little chapel dedica-
ted to the service of our Lady of Nazareth, and looking like some
fairy's palace, on its spot of green, embowered in the native for-
est. Our Lady of Nazareth is the peculiar patroness of the sick,
the afflicted, and the desolate ; and here, the soul-saddened peni-
tent may find quiet, far away from the crowded shrines of the
city. At the entrance of the square, a number of seats invite
the weary. A tall, white pillar, standing near, records, proba-
bly, some event connected with the place, but the inscription is
With our friend Captain Appleton, who is a most zealous
conchologist, and well acquainted with all the shell-haunts in
the vicinity, we used often to take this route, and, upon the trees,
in various localities, found as many specimens as we cared for.
These were principally of three varieties : the Bulimus regius,
Bulimus glabra, and the Auricula clausa. Continuing on
through the forest, at about a mile beyond Nazare, is the plan-
tation of Mr. Henderson, a Scotch gentleman, who, having a
taste for agricultural pursuits, is endeavoring to show the plant-
ers of the country the difference between a scientific cultiva-
tion, and their own slovenly and inefficient mode of farming.
Amongst other novelties, Mr. H. has introduced a plough, the
only one in the province of Para. He has devoted particular
attention to the cultivation of grasses for hay, and his meadows
looked as freshly, and produced as fine grass as those of New
England. What with the delightful reception of Mr. Hender-
son, and the lesser attractions of scenery and flowers, butter-
flies and shells, we took many a stroll this way.
But there was no pleasanter place, wherein to while an
hour, than a rosinha, and as our friend, Mr. Smith, was propri-
etor of one of the most extensive, within a ten minutes' walk of
our residence, we used often to visit him, and amuse ourselves
among his trees. This rosinha was of about an acre's extent.
Down the middle ran a broad walk, covered by an arbor, which
was profusely overrun by the Grenadilla passion-flower. This
produces a yellow fruit, about the size and shape of an egg^
within which is a pleasant acid pulp.
30 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
On either side the arbor were coffee trees. These are
planted at a distance of about ten feet apart, and being
prevented from growing more than five feet high, by constant
trimming of their tops, they throw out very many lateral
branches. The flowers are white, and, at the flowering season,
ornament the plant beautifully. The leaves are about six inch-
es in length, broad, and of a rich and glossy green. The ber-
ries growupon the under side of the limbs, and at first, are
green, but when matured, of a deep red. Within each are two
kernels, and the whole is surrounded by a sweet, thin pulp.
When the ripe berries are exposed to the sun, this pulp dries,
and is then removed by hand, or by a mill. The trees produce
in two or three years after being planted. Formerly the quan-
tity of coffee raised in the vicinity of Para was sufficient for a
large exportation, and it was celebrated for its superior flavor.
Now it is imported, so many planters having turned their at-
tention to other produce, or to the collecting of rubber.
There were also large patches of ananas, or pine-apples,
which plant is two well known to require description. This
fruit is often raised in these rosinhas, of great size. One which
we saw upon the table of the British Consul, soon after our land-
ing, weighed nineteen pounds, and was considered nothing ex-
traordinary, although, at that time, out. of the season.
A number of large orange trees were always interesting to
us, inasmuch as, at every season, they clustered with ripe fruit,
not the shrivelled or sour specimens seen in New-York, but of
great size and luscious sweetness. Oranges, in this climate,
are to be considered rather as a necessity, than a luxury.
Their cooling nature renders them unspeakably grateful, and
they are, without doubt, an antidote to many diseases incident
to a torrid clime. Every one uses them unstintingly, and when
an old gentleman, upon the Upper Amazon, told us that he al-
ways settled his breakfast with a dozen oranges, he described,
with little hyperbole, the custom of the country.
There were also many lime trees; and these resemble, in
general appearance, the orange, excepting that they are of
smaller growth. The acid of limes is more pleasant than
vinegar, and they are always used as a substitute for this upon
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 31
the table. They are much used in composing a drink, and
make the best of preserves.
The most beautiful trees were the mango and the ochee,
whose densely leaved tops much resemble each other. Their
leaves are very long and narrow, and of a dark, glossy green ;
but when young they are of several shades, dull white, pink,
and red, and the commingling of hues is very beautiful. The
mango is esteemed one of the finest fruits. It is the size of a
large lemon, and of a green color. Beneath the skin is a yel-
low pulp, which surrounds a large stone. During our stay
mangoes were temporarily unpopular among the lower classes,
from a belief that to tbem was owing the appearance of a dis-
ease called the leprosy.
The ochee is smaller than the mango, and of a yellow color .
It contains a sweet, pleasant pulp.
Another interesting tree was the inga, although for a very
different reason than its beauty. It bears a profusion of small,
white flowers, very fragrant ; and the attraction of humming-
birds, who might, at any time ; be seen rifling their sweets, in a
great variety of species. The fruit of the inga is a pod, of a
foot or more in length, and an inch in diameter. It contains a
sweet, white pulp, imbedded in which are long seeds. The
paroquets are very fond of this pulp, and they come to the
trees in great flocks, clustering upon the pods, and'tearing
them open with their strong beaks.
There were trees bearing another esteemed fruit, the alli-
gator pear, or mangaba. Of these there are two varieties, one,
the more common, green in color, and shaped like a crook-
necked squash, but of greatly reduced size. The other, con-
sidered the better species, is called the mangaba da Cayenne'
and is of the ordinary pear shape, and of a purplish red color.
In the centre is a large stone, and the substance about this is
soft and marrow-like. It is eaten with wine and sugar, and to
our taste was the finest fruit in the province. It is said to be
the only fruit that cats will eat, and they are extremely fond
The biraba, or custard-apple, is no bad representative of
the delicacy of which its name is suggestive. It is about the
32 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
size of a cocoa-nut, covered by a thin, rough skin, and contains
a white pulp, which is eaten with a spoon.
Here was growing a cactus, in size a tree ; and numerous
flowering shrubs, some known to us as green-house plants,
and others entirely new, were scattered over the premises.
Cape jessamines grew to large shrubs and filled the air with
fragrance. Oleanders shot up to a height of twenty feet,
loaded with flowers; and altheas, in like manner, presented
clusters of immense size and singular beauty. Here, also, was
a tree covered with large, white flowers, shaped like so many
butterflies ; and there were a host of others, of which we could
admire the beauty, although not knowing the names.
License of residence — Officials — Provincial government — Church establishment — Troops
— Enrollment of Indians — Drilling recruits — Absence of inns — Foreigners — Citizens — ■
Manner of living — Public ball — Mechanics — Obstructions to labor — Apprentices and
school — Carrying burdens — Water jars — Rearing of children — Food of lower classes —
Mandioca and preparation of farinha — Tapioca — Fish — Beef— Vegetables — Fruits —
Pacovas — Cocoa-nuts — Assai palms
Within the three days limited in our notification, we had
called upon the chief of police for a license of residence, which
was furnished us gratuitously. This officer was one of the
many examples that we met with, of the disregard paid to
color, in public or private life, throughout the country. He is
considered the second officer of the Provincial Government,
and, like the President, receives his appointment directly from
In passing our chattels through the custom-house, also, we
had not experienced the least difficulty or annoyance, the offi-
cers discharging their duties in the most gentlemanly manner.
And, at all times, in our intercourse with officers of the Govern-
ment, we found them extremely polite and obliging, and gene-
rally, they were men of intelligence and education.
The President, with three Vice-Presidents, constitute the
Executive of the Province. Assemblies of deputies, chosen by
the people, meet at stated seasons at Para, to regulate provin-
cial matters. They have a greater license, in some respects,
than the corresponding branches of our State Governments,
such as the imposing of tariffs, and the like, but their acts are
referred to Rio Janeiro for confirmation.
The Judges of the various districts, who are also chiefs
of police, are appointed at Rio, but the Justices of the Peace
are chosen by the people.
34 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
The church establishment of Para is not very large, when
the wants of the whole province are considered ; but, as by far
the larger portion of the padres never go beyond the city, their
number seems disproportionate. One meets them at every
step, and probably five hundred is not an exaggeration. Of
these, many are novitiates in different stages of preparation,
and the grades are readily distinguished by their differences
of dress. Since convents have become unpopular, the old
race of friars have almost disappeared ; still, a few are seen,
and a small number of others are among the Indians of the
interior. The clergy are, of coarse, very efficient patrons of
the three-and-thirty holidays, besides divers festivals extraor-
dinary, that diversify the Brazilian year.
Near the Ecclesiastical Seminary is the school for young
ladies, under the supervision of the sisters of some of the reli-
gious societies. Here a great number of young ladies from
various parts of the province receive education in the simpler
branches, and in what would be called "the finishing" of a
The Catholic is the established religion of the state, but
all religions are tolerated. There is no other sect in Para, and
probably within the province, out of the city, preaching of any
other denomination was never heard.
The regular troops of the empire are collected in this pro-
vince in great strength, on account of the revolutionary spirit
of the people. Every morning they are paraded upon the
Largo da Palacio until eight o'clock, and then marched down
the Rua da Cadeira to the music of a fine band. They are
out upon every public occasion, taking part in every procession.
They are, moreover, the police of the city, and in discharge of
their duties, are seen scattered, throughout the day, along the
pier and streets, and guarding the doors of all public offices.
Night police, as well as day police, they take their stations, in
the early evening, about the city, and, at every hour, their loud
cries disturb the sleepers.
Upon Sundays, these troops are freed from duty, and the Na-
tional Guard take their places, on parade or at the sentry. This
Guard, one would suppose, formed a far more efficient force
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 35
than the regular army ; the one, composed, as it is. of native
Brazilians, the other, a heterogeneous compounding of white
and black, yellow, red, and brown. The Indian seems to pre-
dominate, however, and it might be questionable how far his
courage would carry him, once led into action.
During the last few years, the enrollment of Indians has
been carried to an unprecedented extent, through apprehension
of renewed disturbances. Since 1836, ten thousand young men
are said to have been carried to the south, to the incalculable
injury of the agricultural interest. As might be supposed, all
this enlistment has not been voluntary. The police are con-
stantly upon the alert for recruits, and, the instant that a poor fel-
low sets foot within the city, he is spirited away, unless some
protecting white is thereto intercede in his behalf. We frequent-
ly fell in with cottages in the vicinity of the city, whose only
occupants were women and children, the men having, in this
way, disappeared. Most of the market boats, also, are managed
by women, the men often stopping at some convenient place
above, and there awaiting the boat's return.
It is an amusing sight, to watch these Indian recruits,
during their earlier drillings, upon the Largo ; encumbered
with oppressive clothes, high leathern stocks beneath their
chins, and a wilderness of annoying straps about their bodies.
Their countenances are models of resignation, or of apathetic
indifference, when the drill-officer has his eye upon them ; but
when that eye is averted, the nervous twitching, and the half-
suppressed curses, with which they wipe the beaded sweat
from their brows, would be ludicrous enough, could one over-
come a feeling of pity at the predicament of the poor devils.
Free negroes are very apt to be caught in the same trap;
and then, negroes and Indians, together, spend their leisure
hours, off" drill, in the lock-up ; until, between the principles of
honor therein imbibed, and the ardor of military glory excited,
they can be considered trustworthy, and suffered to go at
large. Most free negroes avoid this career of greatness, by
nominally still belonging to their old master, or some other
There are no inns, at Para, for public accommodation.
36 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
The people from the country do not require them ; each
having friends in the city, or conveniences for living on board
his vessel. Strangers visiting the port are usually provided
with introductory letters to some of the citizens, and are re-
ceived with the most generous hospitality. There are various
cafes, where a good cup of coffee or chocolate may always be
obtained ; but these are not very much patronized. Both
natives and foreigners, engaged in business, provide at their
own tables, for their clerks, or others connected with them in
business ; a system productive of mutual advantages.
A great proportion of the foreigners in the city, are from
the United States and Great Britain ; and these form among
themselves a delightful little society.
The people of the town are native born Brazilians and
Portuguese ; often well educated, generally intelligent, and
always polite. Of the lower classes, very many are Portu-
guese or Moorish Jews, who obtain a livelihood by trafficking
with the smaller river craft, by adulterating produce, and by
various other expedients in which the people of that nation
Most gentlemen residing in the city, have also estates in
the country, to which they retire during summer. Their
mode of living is very simple, and in congeniality with the
clime. Two meals a day, are considered quite sufficient; and
late suppers are entirely avoided.
Most of the business of the day is transacted in the early
morning; and when the noon's heat is beating, "all," as they
say, " but Englishmen and dogs," are taking a siesta in their
hammocks. The cool evening, lovely and brilliant, calls out
every one ; and a round of pleasure encroaches far into the
night. Parties and balls are constantly being given ; and all
over the city is heard the light music of the guitar, and the
sounds of the joyous dance. Upon the last Saturday evening
of each month, is a public subscription ball, and Para's
beauties are there, in all the fascination of flashing eyes, and
raven hair, and airy movements. Sometimes a theatrical com-
pany ventures into this remote region, and, for a while, the new
prima donna is all the rage.
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 37
The mechanics of the city are mostly Portuguese, and have
all the proverbial industry of their nation. A shoemaker, who
lived opposite us, used to be rather annoying in this respect;
pegging away at all hours of the night, and not sparing time
to breathe, even on Sundays.
Owing to the imperfection, or entire absence of machinery,
the labor of an artisan is far more toilsome than with us, and
he compensates the difference, by something more than pro-
portionate slowness. The cabinet maker has to saw his mate-
rials from the log, in his own shop, and two or more boys, la-
zily pulling away at a pit-saw, are always a part of his fix-
tures. So with other trades. Such a state of things would be
excessively annoying, anywhere else, but these people are ac-
customed to it, probably dream of nothing better, and are well
content to jog on in the safe and sure path, by which their an-
cestors, God rest them, moved forward to glory.
There is this deficiency, throughout the province, with re-
spect to every sort of labor-saving machinery ; and although,
now and then, some individual of extraordinary enterprise has
introduced improvements from other countries, and although
the government allows new patents of machinery to be entered
without a duty, yet the mass of proprietors know nothing of
them. The introduction of machinery would compensate, in a
great degree, the depressing scarcity of laborers, for want of
whom, this garden of the world lies desolate.
Very many of the apprentices in the shops are Indian boys,
and to facilitate the acquisition of trades by these, the govern-
ment supports a school, where, in addition to the common
branches of education, fifty Indian boys are instructed in vari-
ous trades. This institution owes its existence to President
Andrea, who seems to have had concentrated in him, more be-
nevolence and public spirit, than a score of those who preceded
or succeeded him in office. It is to him, that the city is indebt-
ed for the Rua da Mangabeiras, and this alone should immor-
talize a man in Para.
The absence of horses and carts, together with the univer-
sal custom of carrying burdens upon the head, seem, at first, an
oddity to a stranger. In this manner, the heaviest as well as
38 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
the lightest, the most fragile as well as any other, travels with
equal safety to its destination. For the convenience of vessels,
there are two companies of blacks, each numbering thirty men,
who are regular carriers ; and their noisy cries are heard
every morning, as in the full tide of some wild song, they trot
off beneath incredible burdens.
Every where, are seen about the streets, young women,
blacks or Indians, bearing upon their heads large trays ofdoces,
or sweetmeats and cakes, for sale. These things are made by
their mistresses, and are thus marketed. Nor do the first la-
dies of the dity consider it beneath their dignity thus to traffic,
and we heard of some notable examples, where the money re-
ceived for the doces had accumulated to independent fortunes.
From similar large trays, other women are huckstering every
variety of vegetables or fruits ; and not unfrequently meets the
ear the cry of as-sy-ee, the last syllable prolonged to a shrill
scream. What assai may be. we shall soon explain.
In a morning walk, in any direction, one encounters scores
of blacks, men and women, bearing huge water jars to and
from the different wells, which are the supply of the city.
These jars are porous, and being placed in a current of air, the
water attains a delightful coolness. This custom was borrow-
ed by the early settlers from the Indians, and is universal. In
various parts of the house are smaller jars, called bilhas (beel-
yas), by the side of which stands a large tumbler, for the gen-
The habit of carrying burdens upon the head, contributes
to that remarkable straightness and perfection of form, ob-
served in all these blacks and Indians. Malformation, or dis-
tortion of any kind, is rarely encountered. This is doubtless
owing, in a great degree, to the manner of rearing children.
Every where, are to be seen swarms of little boys and girls, un-
restrained by any clothing whatever, and playing in the dirt
with goats and dogs. This exposure to the sun produces its
natural effect, and these little people, blacks and whites, are
burned into pretty nearly the same tint ; but they grow up with
vigor of constitution and beauty of form. The latter, howev-
er, is sometimes ludicrously modified by a great abdominal pro-
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 39
trudence, the effect of constant stuffing with farinha. It is very-
unusual to hear a child cry. The higher classes, in the city,
are more careful of their children ; but, in the country, the fash-
ion of slight investment prevails, and, at the Barra of the Rio
Negro, the litile son and heir of the chief official dignitary was
in full costume, with a pair of shoes and a cane.
The food of all the lower classes, throughout the province,
consists principally of fish and farinha. The former is the dried
and salted Periecu, of the Amazon ; the latter, a preparation
from the Mandioca root. This plant, botanically, is the Jatro-
pha Manihot, known in the West Indies as Cassava. The stalk
is tall and slender, and is divided into short joints, each one of
which, when placed in the ground, takes root, and becomes a
separate plant. The leaves are palmated, with six and seven
lobes. The tubers are shaped much like sweet potatoes, and
are a foot or more in length. They are divested of their thick
rind, and grated upon stones ; after which, the mass is placed
in a slender bag of rattan, six feet in length. To this, a large
stone is appended, and the consequent extension producing a
contraction of the sides, the juice is expressed. The juice is
said to be poisonous, but is highly volatile. The last opera-
tion is the drying, which is effected in large iron pans, the pre-
paration being constantly stirred. When finished, it is called
farinha, or flour, and is of a white or brown color, according to
the care taken. In appearance it resembles dried crumbs of
bread. It is packed in loose baskets, lined with palm leaves,
and in the bulk of eighty pounds, or an alquier. Farinha is the
substitute for bread and for vegetables. The Indians and
blacks eat vast quantities of it, and its swelling in the stomach
produces that distention noticed in the children.
Tapioca is made from the same plant, and is the starchy
matter deposited by the standing juice.
The rivers are filled with varieties of fine fish, but, in the
city, many other articles of diet are considered preferable.
From Vigia, and below, towards the coast, crabs and oysters
are brought, at certain seasons, in great abundance. The for-
mer, particularly, are noticeable for their large size and supe-
rior flavor; but the oysters, though of prodigious size, can. in
40 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
no way, be compared with their relatives of the north. They
are found, in large clusters, about the roots of the mangroves.
The great dependence of the Para market is beef. Upon
Marajo, and neighboring islands, vast herds of cattle roam the
campo, and large canoes are constantly engaged in transport-
ing them to the city. But often, they are poor when taken, and
the passage from the islands averaging from four days to a
week, during which time, they have little to drink, and nothing
at all to eat, those who survive are but skin and bone. Killed
in this state, it may readily be imagined that Para beef is defi-
cient in some points, considered as excellencies in the Fulton
market. It is cut up in shapeless pieces, without any pretence
at skill. The usual method of preparing it for the table is to
boil it, such a dish as legitimate roast beef or steak being un-
Very few potatoes, of any sort, are seen ; the principal vege-
tables for the table being rice, fried plantains, and an excellent
variety of squash, called jurumu.
It is in fruits that Para excels ; and here is a long cata-
logue, many of which are common to adjacent countries, with-
in the tropics, and many others peculiar to this province. Of
many of these, we have already spoken ; but there are two or
three others, which deserve mention : and first of these are the
plantain, and pacova, or banana. These fruits resemble each
other, excepting in size ; the former being of about eight
inches length, the latter, in its varieties, from three to five or
six. The producing tree is one of the most beautiful of the
palms, the coronal leaves being six feet in length, by two
broad, and gracefully drooping around the trunk. The fruit
hangs in clusters about a stalk, depending from the top of the
plant. While still green, the stalk is cut off, and the fruit is
suffered to ripen in the shade. The plantains are generally
prepared for eating, by being cut in longitudinal slices, and
fried in fat ; but when roasted in the ashes, are extremely plea-
sant, and reminded us strongly of roasted apples. The pacovas
are eaten raw, and are agreeable and nutritious. They are
raised without difficulty, from cuttings, and are the ever-pre-
sent attendant of the gentleman's garden or the Indian's hut.
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 41
Their yield, when compared with other plants, is prodigious,
being, according to Humboldt, to wheat, as one hundred and
thirty-three to one, and to potatoes, as forty-four to one.
Cocoa palms are abundant upon the plantations, and are
conspicuous from their long, feather-like leaves, and the large
clusters of nuts which surround their tops. The nuts are ge-
nerally eaten when young, before the pulp has attained hard-
From various palm fruits are prepared substances in great
request among different classes of people ; but, most delightful
of all, is that from the Euterpe edulis, known as assai, or more
familiarly, as, was-sy-ee. This palm grows to a height of
from thirty to forty feet, with a stem scarcely larger than one's
arm. From the top, a number of long leaves, their webs cut,
as it were, into narrow ribbons, are waving in the wind. Be-
low the leaves, one, two, and rarely, three stems put forth, at
first enclosed in a spatha, or sheath, resembling woven bark.
This falling off, there is disclosed a tree-like stalk, with diver-
gent limbs, in every direction, covered with green berries, the
size of marbles ; these soon turn purple, and are fully ripe.
Flocks of toucans, parrots, and other fruit-loving birds, are first
to discover them ; but there are too many for even the birds.
The fruit is covered by a thick skin, beneath which, imbedded
in a very slight pulp, is the stone. Warm water is poured on,
to loosen the skin, and the berries are briskly rolled together
in a large vessel. The stones are thrown out, the liquid is
strained off the skins, and there is left a thick, cream-like sub-
stance, of a purple color. Sugar is added, and farinha to
slightly thicken it. To a stranger, the taste is, usually, disagree-
able, but soon, it becomes more prized than all fruits beside,
and is as much a necessity as one's dinner.
Leave Para for the Rice Mills — Boatmen — Night scene upon the water — Arrival — Vi-
cinity of the mills — A Brazilian forest — Sporting — Toucans — Chatterers- -Motmots —
Manikms--Humming-birds — Snake stories — Absence of flies — Ants — Saiibas — Cupims
— Little Ant-eater — Lakes — Nests of Troopials — Sloth — Armadillo — Beetles — Puma —
Monkeys — Indian boy — Description of the mills — Blacks — Sleeping in hammocks —
Vampire bats — Wasps' nests — Visit Corentiores — Sporting there — Reception- Bread
fruit — Larangeira — Cotton tree — Maseranduba or Cow tree — Walk through the forest
to the city — Spider — Flowers.
Our first excursion, to any distance, was to the Rice Mills,
at Magoary, only twelve miles from Para by land, and two
tides, or about ten hours by water. The overland route being,
in many respects, inconvenient, we determined to venture in
one of the canoes, always in readiness for such excursions, near
thePunto daPedras ; and for this purpose, engaged a fair look-
ing craft, with a covered and roomy cabin, and manned by two
whites and a negro. Leaving the city in the middle of the
afternoon, we took advantage of the ebbing tide, and, by dark,
had entered the stream, which was to carry us to our destina-
tion. But our two white sailors were lazy scoundrels, and we
did not feel sufficiently acquainted with the language, or ac-
customed to the ways of the country, to give them the scolding
they deserved. This they knew enough to comprehend, and
the consequence was, that we lost the flood tide which should
have carried us up, and were obliged to anchor and spend the
night on board. One of these men was an old salt, battered
and worn, the other was a young fellow of twenty, with a
good-looking face and nut-brown skin, wearing upon his head
a slouched felt hat, and, altogether, the very image of peasant
figures seen in Spanish paintings. Not at all disturbed by our
dissatisfied looks, and ominous grumblings, they coolly stretched
themselves out upon the seats, and started up a wild song, the
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 43
burden of which was of love, and the dark-eyed girls they had
left behind them in the city. It was a lovely night, and the
music, and other gentle influences, soon restored our good hu-
mor, and we felt, at last, inclined to forgive the laziness that
had left us here. No clouds obscured the sky, and the millions
of starry lights, that, in this clime, render the moon's absence of
little consequence, were shining upon us in their calm, still
beauty. The stream, where we were anchored, was narrow ;
tall trees drooped over the water, or mangroves shot out their
long finger-like branches into the mud below. Huge bats were
skimming past, night-birds were calling in strange voices from
the tree-tops, fire-flies darted their mimic lightnings, fishes
leaped above the surface, flashing in the starlight, the deep,
sonorous baying of frogs came up from distant marshes, and
loud plashings in shore, suggested all sorts of nocturnal mon-
sters. 'Twas our first night upon the water, and we enjoyed
the scene, in silence, long after our boatmen had ceased their
song, until nature's wants were too much for our withstanding,
and we sank upon the hard floor to dream of scenes far different.
It was eight o'clock in the morning, when turning an angle
of the stream, we came full in view of the mill, the proximity
of which we had been made sensibly aware of, for the last
half hour, by the noisy clamor of the machinery. It was a
lofty stone structure, standing forth in this retirement, like some
antique erection. Mr. Leavens was expecting us, and we were
delighted once more to shake the hand of a warm-hearted coun-
tryman. Breakfast was upon the table, and here, for the first
time, we ventured to test our capacities for fish and farinha.
The fish was a hard case, coarser than shark meat, and requir-
ing an intimacy with vinegar and oil to remove its unpleasant
rankness. Farinha was not so disagreeable, and we soon came
to love it as do the natives. Indeed, long before our Amazo-
nian experience had ended, we could relish the fish, also, as
well as any Indian.
The scenery about the mill is very fine. In front, the
stream, a broad lake at high ivater, and a tiny brook at other
times, skirting a low meadow, at the distance of a hundred rods,
is lost in the embowering shrubbery. All beyond is a dense
44 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
forest. Upon the meadow, a number of large, fat cattle are
browsing on the coarse grass, and flocks of Jacanas, a family
of water-birds remarkable for their long toes, which enable
them to step upon the leaves of lilies and other aquatic plants,
are flying with loud cries from one knoll to another. Back of
the mill, the road leads towards the city, and to the right and
left are well-beaten paths, leading to small, clear lakes, from
which the mill derives its water. The whole vicinity was
formerly a cultivated estate, but the grounds are now densely
overgrown. At the distance of a mile, the road crosses what
is called the first bridge, which spans a little stream that runs
sporting through the woodland. The color of the water of
this, and other small streams, is of a reddish cast, owing, doubt-
less, to the decomposing vegetation. It is, however, very
clear, and fishes, and eels, may at any time be seen playing
among the logs and sticks which strew the bottom. Beyond
this bridge is the primeval forest. Trees of incredible girt
tower aloft, and from their tops one in vain endeavors to bring
down the desired bird with a fowling-piece. The trunks are
of every variety of form, round, angular, and sometimes, re-
sembling an open net-work, through which the light passes in
any direction. Amid these giants, very few low trees or little
underbrush interferes with one's movements, and very rarely is
the path intercepted by a fallen log. But about, the trees cling
huge snake-like vines, winding round and round the trunks^
and through the branches sending their long arms, binding
tree to tree. Sometimes they throw down long feelers, which
swing in mid air, until they reach the ground, when, taking
root, they, in their turn, throw out arms that cling to the first
support. In this way, the whole forest is linked together, and
a cut tree rarely falls without involving the destruction of many
3- others. This creeping vine is called sepaw, and, having the
strength and flexibility of rope, is of inestimable value in the
construction of houses, and for various other purposes.
Around the tree trunks clasp those curious anomalies,
parasitic plants, sometimes throwing down long, slender roots
to the ground, but generally deriving sustenance only from
the tree itself, and from the air; called hence, appropriately
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 45
enough, air-plants. These are in vast numbers, and of every
form, now resembling lilies, now grasses, or other familiar
plants. Often, a dozen varieties cluster upon a single tree.
Towards the close of the rainy season, they are in blossom,
and their exquisite appearance, as they encircle the mossy
and leafed trunk, with flowers of every hue, can scarcely be
imagined. At this period, too, vast numbers of trees add their
tribute of beauty, and the flower-domed forest, from its many
colored altars, ever sends heavenward worshipful incense.
Nor is this wild luxuriance unseen or unenlivened. Monkeys
are frolicking through festooned bowers, or chasing in revelry
over the wood arches. Squirrels scamper in ecstasy from limb
to limb, unable to contain themselves for joyousness. Coatis
are gamboling among the fallen leaves, or vieing with monkeys
in nimble climbing. Pacas and agoutis chase wildly about,
ready to scud away at the least noise. The sloth, enlivened
by the general inspiration, climbs more rapidly over the
branches, and seeks a spot where, in quiet and repose, he may
rest him. The exquisite, tiny deer, scarcely larger than a lamb,
snuff's exultingly the air, and bounds fearlessly, knowing that he
has no enemy here.
Birds of gaudiest plumage, flit through the trees. The
trogon, lonely sitting in her leaf-encircled home, calls plain-
tively to her long absent mate. The motmot utters his name
in rapid tones. Tucano, tucano, comes loudly from some fruit-
covered tree, where the great toucans are rioting. " Noiseless
chatterers" flash through the branches. The loud rattling of
the woodpecker comes from some topmost limb ; and tiny
creepers, in livery the gayest of the gay, are running up the
tree trunks, stopping, now and then, their busy search, to gaze
inquisitively at the strangers. Pairs of chiming-thrushes are
ringing their alternate notes, like the voice of a single bird.
Parrots are chattering ; paroquets screaming. Manakins are
piping in every low tree, restless, never still. Woodpigeons,
the "birds of the painted breasts," fly startled ; and pheasants,
of a dozen varieties, go whirring off. But, most beautiful of all,
humming birds, living gems, and surpassing aught that's
brilliant save the diamond, are constantly darting by; now,
46 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
stopping an instant, to kiss the gentle flower, and now, furiously
battling some rival humble-bee. Beijar flor, kiss-flower, 'tis the
Brazilian name for the humming bird, beautifully appropriate.
Large butterflies float past, the bigness of a hand, .and of the
richest metallic blue ; and from the flowers above, comes the
distant hum of myriads of gayly coated insects. From his
hole in the sandy road, the harmless lizard, in his gorgeous
covering of green and gold, starts nimbly forth, stopping, every
instant, with raised head and quick eye, for the appearance of
danger ; and armies of ants, in their busy toil, are incessantly
How changed from all this, is a night scene. The flowers,
that bloomed by day, have closed their petals, and nestled in
their leafy beds, are dreaming of their loves. A sister host now
take their place, making the breezes to .intoxicate with per-
fume, and exacting homage from bright, starry eyes. A
murmur, as of gentle voices, floats upon the air. The moon
darts down her glittering rays, till the flower-enameled plain
glistens like a shield : but in vain she strives to penetrate the
denseness, except some fallen tree betrays a passage. Below,
the tall tree trunk rises dimly through the darkness. Huge
moths, those fairest of the insect world, have taken the places
of the butterflies, and myriads of fire-flies never weary in their
torch-light dance. Far down the road, comes on a blaze,
steady, streaming like a meteor. It whizzes past, and, for
an instant, the space is illumined, and dewy jewels from the
leaves throw back the radiance. 'Tis the lantern-fly, seeking
what he himself knows best, by the fiery guide upon his head.
The air of the night bird's wing fans your cheek, or you are
startled by his mournful note, wac-o-row, wac-o-row, sounding
dolefully, by no means so pleasantly as our whippoorwill. The
armadillo creeps carelessly from his hole, and, at slow pace,
makes for his feeding ground; the opossum climbs stealthily
up the tree, and the little ant-eater is out pitilessly marauding.
All this supposes pleasant weather ; but a storm in these
forests has an interest, though of a very different kind. Heavy
clouds come drifting from the east, preceded by a low,
ominous murmur, as the big drops beat upon the roof of leaves.
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 47
Rapidly this deepens into a terrific roar; the forest rocks
beneath the fury of the blast, and the crashing fall of trees
resounds fearfully. Tornadoes are unfrequent ; but one, while
we were at the mills, swept through the forest , now, hurling
aside the massive trees like weightless things, and now,
tripping carelessly, only taking tribute of the topmost boughs —
sportive in its fierceness. We were struck by the absence of
thunder and lightning in the furious pourings of the rainy
season. The clouds came to their daily task gloomily, as
though pining for a holiday, and, in the weariness of forced toil,
forgot their wantonness.
Our first gunning expeditions were between the mill and the
bridge, and the nature of the woods rendered it a toilsome
matter, until experience had made us acquainted with the
most convenient paths, and the notes and habits of the birds.
Every one venturing into the forest is armed with a long,
curved knife, called a tresddo, for the purpose of cutting his
way through the entangling vines, that especially obstruct the
woods of second growth. In such a section, also, the foliage
is so dense, that it is extremely difficult to discover the birds
who are uttering their notes all about — and when they are shot,
it is often a puzzle to the keen eyes of an Indian to find them,
amid the vines. But one soon learns that most of the families
have peculiar haunts, where, early in the morning, or late in
afternoon, they congregate in flocks. The trees in these
places, are usually thickly covered with berries of some sort.
and until these are entirely exhausted, the concealed sports-
man may shoot at the perpetually returning flocks, until he is
loaded with his game. Berries succeed berries, so constantly,
.throughout the year, that, in some spot, the birds' food is never
Most noticeable of all these birds, both for size and pecu-
liarity of form, are the Toucans. There are many varieties,
appearing at different seasons ; but the Red-billed, R. ery-
throrynchos, and the Ariel, R. ariel (Vig.) are the largest
and most abundant, seen at every season, but towards autumn,
particularly, in vast numbers throughout the forest. Their
large beaks give them a very awkward appearance, more
48 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
especially when flying ; yet, in the trees, they use them with as
much apparent ease, as though they were, to our eyes, of a
more convenient form. Alighted on a tree, one usually acts
the part of sentinel, uttering constantly the loud cry, Tucano,
whence they derive their name. The others disperse over the
branches, climbing about by aid of their beaks, and seize the
fruit. We had been told that these birds were in the habit of
tossing up their food to a considerable distance, and catching
it, as it fell ; but, as far as we could observe, they merely threw
back the head, allowing the fruit to fall down the throat. We
saw, at different times, tamed toucans, and they never were
seen to toss their food, although almost invariably throwing
back the head. This habit is rendered necessary, by the length
of the bill, and the stiffness of the tongue, which prevents their
eating as do other birds. All the time, while feeding, a hoarse
chattering is kept up ; and, at intervals, they unite with the
noisy sentry, and scream a concert that may be heard a mile.
Having appeased their appetites, they fly towards the deeper
forest, and quietly doze away the noon. Often in the very
early morning, a few of them may be seen sitting silently upon
the branches of some dead tree, apparently, awaiting the com-
ing sunlight before starting for their feeding trees.
The nests of the toucans are represented in works of Natu-
ral History, as being constructed in the hollows of trees. It
may be so in many cases, and with some species. The only
nest that we ever saw, which was of the Toco toucan, was in
the fork of a large tree, over the water, upon the Amazon.
Toucans, when tamed, are exceedingly familiar, playful
birds, capable of learning as many feats as any of the parrots,
with the exception of talking. When turning about, on their,
perch, they effect their object by one sudden jump. They eat
any thing, but are particularly fond of meat. When roosting,
they have a habit of elevating their tails over their backs. The
beaks of the Red-billed toucans are richly marked with red,
yellow, and black ; but preserved specimens soon lose this
beauty. The other varieties found near Para are the Ptero-
glossus maculirostris (Licht) ; the P. bitorquatis (Vig.) ; and
the C. viridis. The family of birds most sought after by col-
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 49
lectors, and the most gaudy of the Brazilian forests, is that of*
the Chatterers. There are several species, four of which are
not uncommon in the vicinity of Para, each about the size of
the blue-bird of the United States. One of these, Ampelis
Cayana, the Purple-throated chatterer, is of an ultramarine
blue color, having a bright metallic lustre, and with a throat
of purple velvet. Another, A. cotinga, the Purple-breasted,
is of a deep blue, similarly metallic, and ornamented both upon
throat and breast with purple. A third, the White-winged, A.
lamellipennis, is of a lustrous black, with wings and tail a
snowy white. The fourth, A. carnifex, is with us called the
Cardinal ; in the language of Brazil, Passaro do sol, bird of the
sun ; and well he deserves the name. The crest upon his head
is of scarlet, resembling the finest silk ; his back and wings are
of a golden bronze, and his tail and breast of the most delicate
vermilion. All these birds may be seen at Mr. Bell's, our
prince of taxidermists, and even when dimmed of their glories
and encaged in glass, are pre-eminently beautiful. But when,
in large flocks, they cluster in the tree-tops, dazzlingly lustrous
in the sunlight, even the kiss-flower might be envious. These
birds have no song. That charm, impartial nature has con-
ferred upon others outwardly less attractive ; and these must
be content with a simple note. The Cardinal is less common
than the others, and is more generally seen in pairs, breeding
in the months of August and September, near the mills. The
other species seem transient visitors, generally abundant in
May and June, and, at that season, associating in large flocks.
There is another variety, the Carunculated chatterer, some-
times called the Bell-bird, occasionally seen near Para. Mr.
Leavens seems to be the only person who has met with them,
having obtained a pair in the deep forest. This bird is the
size of a small dove, and of a pure white color, when mature.
On the bill is a fleshy caruncle, about an inch in length, some-
what like a turkey's comb. Of its habits or its note, we could
learn nothing. The more common Chatterers are inactive
birds, and great gluttons, often eating until quite stupified. In
this, they resemble their relative, the Cedar-bird of the north.
The Motmot, Momotus Brasiliensis, is another of these cu-
50 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
rious residents. This bird is about the size of a robin, having
a back of a dark, rich green, and a long wedge-shaped tail,
two feathers of which extend some inches beyond the others.
The shafts of these are stripped of their webs near the extre-
mities, giving the bird a very singular appearance. One
would suppose that these birds trimmed their feathers thus
themselves, for many are found with quills perfect, and others,
partly denuded. The Motmots are generally in pairs in the
deep woods, and are easily recognized by their note, motmot,
The Manikins, in their different varieties, form a beautiful
family ; the most numerous of any, and corresponding much
in their habits to our warblers. They are tiny things, gene-
rally having black bodies, and heads of yellow, red, white, and
other colors. Like perpetual motion personified, they move
about the branches and low shrubs, always piping their sharp
notes ; and unless upon a feeding-tree, almost defying shot.
The common varieties are the White-capped, Pipra leuco-
cilla; Red-headed. P. erythrocephala ; Blue-backed, P. pareo-
la; and Puff-throated, P. manacus. Of these, the first is most
abundant. A nest of the Red-he*aded was composed of ten-
drils of vines; and was scarcely larger than a dollar, and very
shallow. It was affixed to one of the outermost forks of a low
limb, beyond reach of any enemy but one. The eggs were
cream-colored, and speckled with brown. A nest of the Blue-
backed was composed of leaves, fibres, and moss, and much
resembled in shape a watch-case. A nest of the Puff-throated
was also pensile, but not so ingeniously composed as either of
the others. The eggs of the two latter species were cream-
colored and much spotted, particularly at the larger end.
Many other remarkable species of birds I shall have occa-
sion to speak of hereafter ; at present, I will mention but the
humming-birds. Wherever a creeping vine opens its fragrant
clusters, or wherever a tree flower blooms, may these little
things be seen. In the garden, or in the woods, over the
water, every where, they are darting about, of all sizes, from
one that might easily be mistaken for a different variety of
bird, to the tiny Hermit, T. rufigaster, whose body is not half
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 51
the size of the bees buzzino- about the same sweets. The
blossoms of the inga tree, as before remarked, brings them in
great numbers about the rosinhas of the city, and the collector
may shoot, as fast as he can load, the day long. Sometimes,
they are seen chasing each other in sport, with a rapidity of
flight and intricacy of path, the eye is puzzled to follow.
Again, circling round and round, they rise high in mid air;
then dart off like light to some distant attraction. Perched
upon a little limb, they smooth their plumes, and seem to
delight in their dazzling hues ; then, starting off, leisurely
they skim along, stopping capriciously to kiss the coquetting
flowerets. Often, two meet in mid air and furiously fight, their
crests, and the feathers upon their throats, all erected, and
blazing, and altogether pictures of the most violent rage.
Several times, we saw them battling with large black bees
who frequent the same flowers, and may be supposed often
to interfere provokingly. Like lightning our little heroes
would come down, but the coat of shining mail would ward
their furious strokes. Again and again would they renew the
attack, until their anger had expended itself by its own fury,
or until the apathetic bee, once roused, had put forth powers,
that drove the invader from the field.
A boy in the city, several times, brought us humming-birds
alive, in a glass cage. He had brought them down, while,
standing motionless in the air, they rifled the flowers, by balls
of clay, blown from a hollowed tube.
The varieties found about Para are, principally, the White-
collared, T. mellivorus; Hermit, T. rufigaster; Topaz-throat-
ed, T.pella; Tufted- necked, T. ornatus ; Magnificent, T. mag-
nificus ; Scaly-back, T. eurynomus ; Even-tailed amethyst, T.
orthusa; Emerald, T. bicolor ; Eared, T. auritus ; Rough-leg-
ged racket-tail, T. Underwoodi ; Sapphire-throated, T. sapphi-
rinus; Violet fork-tail, T. furcatus; Sable wing, T. latipennis ;
Blue green, T. cyaneus. We received from Mr. Leavens a
nest of the Hermit. It was formed upon the under side of a
broad grass leaf, which drooped in a manner to protect it en-
tirely from sun and rain. The material of which it was com-
posed was a fine moss. Day after day, Mr. L. had watched its
52 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
formation, but before the little architect had completed it, the
ants appeared, and she sought a safer spot for her home.
At first, we were somewhat nervous about venturing far
into the woods, and anxiously careful to protect our feet from
vicious reptiles by redoubtable boots. A little experience served
to disabuse us of this error, and we were soon content to go in
slippers. Old bugbear stories of snakes began to lose their
force, when day after day passed without meeting even a harm-
less grass-snake. Not that there really are no such animals,
for sometimes, huge specimens have been seen about the mills,
and one, not many months before, had been surprised, who in
his fright disgorged a fine musk-duck. Bat such cases are of
extreme rarity, and only occur near the water. In the forest,
snakes are not seen, and no one thinks of fearing them.
The absence of flies seems still more strange to a person
from the North, who has always been accustomed to associate
flies with warm weather, and who, mayhap, has been torment-
ed by black swarms, in our woods. Their place, in Brazil, is
well supplied by ants, who are seen every where, in the houses
and in the fields. But as the main efforts of these insects are
directed to the removal of whatever is noxious, most species
are not merely tolerated, but looked upon as sincere and wor-
thy friends. They are of all sizes and colors, from the little
red fire-ant, who generally minds his own business, but who,
occasionally, gets upon one's flesh, making all tingle, to the huge
black species, an inch or more in length, who labors zealously
in the woods for the removal of decaying vegetation. In this
work, this ant is assisted by a smaller variety, also black ; and
armies, two and three feet wide, and of interminable length, are
frequently encountered in the woods. It well becomes one to
stand aside from their line of march, for they turn neither to
the right nor to the left, and, in a moment, one may be covered
to his dismay, if not sorrow.
But there is one variety of ant which must be excluded
from all commendation. This a small species, called Sauba,
and they are a terrible annoyance to the proprietors of rosinhas,
inasmuch as they strip the fruit trees of their leaves. An army
of these will march to the tree, part ascending, and the others
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 53
remaining below. Those above commence their devasta-
tion, clipping off the leaves by large pieces, and those below
shoulder them as they fall, and march away to their rendez-
vous. It is surprising what a load one of these little things will
carry, as disproportionate to its size, as if a man should stalk
off beneath an oak. Before morning, not a leaf is left upon the
tree, and the unfortunate proprietor has the consolation of
knowing, that unless he can discover the retreat of the saubas,
and unhole them, one by one, every tree upon his premises
will be stripped.
There is a small white ant called Cupim, that builds its
nest in the trees, at the junction of a limb, or often, about the
trunk. These are sometimes of great size, and, at a distance,
resemble black knurls. Upon this variety the little Ant-eater
lives. Climbing up some convenient tree, he twists his long,
prehensile tail about the trunk, or some favoring limb, and
resting upon this, commences operations. Making an incision
in the exterior of the nest, by means of the sharp, hook-like
claws, with which his arms are furnished, he intrudes his slen-
der snout, and long, glutinous tongue. So well protected by
wool is he, that the ants have no power over him, but abide
their fate. I kept one of these animals for some days, but he
refused all nourishment. During the day, he sat with his tail
twisted around a limb appropriated to his use, his head buried
in his fore paws. But when the dusk of evening came on, he
was wide awake, and passed half the night in walking pretty
rapidly about the room, seeking some egress, and in climbing
about the furniture. The negroes have a belief that if the Ant-
eater is shut up in a tight box, and secured by every possible
means, he will be spirited away before morning. The most
intelligent black about the mills came to me, desiring I would
try the experiment. " He is a devil," said Larry, and I con-
sented, shutting his impship in a wooden chest. Next morn-
ing, Larry's eyes opened, as he saw the test had failed, and
he signified his intention to believe no more lies, for the future.
The lakes, in the vicinity, were interesting places of resort
to us, and several times we pushed the little canoe, or montaria,
up the raceways, and paddled about amid the bushes, or along
54 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON,
the shores, in search of birds or nests. The latter were very-
common, and it was interesting to observe the care with which
the building spot was chosen, to keep it from the reach of liz-
ards, or other reptiles, but above all, from the ever-present ants.
And yet the ants were always there ; they had passed from
shore, upon leaves and floating shrubs, and every tree was in-
fested by them. Most of the nests were arched over above, to
keep out the sun's heat; and particularly those of the Fly-
catcher family, who, in the north, build open nests.
The most singular nests, and most worthy description, were
those of the Troopials, Cassicus icteronotus (Swain), a large,
black bird, much marked with yellow, and frequently seen in
cages. Their native name is Japim. They build, in colonies,
pensile nests of grass, nearly two feet in length, having an
opening for entrance near the top. Upon one tree, standing in
the middle of the lake, not more than ten feet high, and the
thickness of a man's arm, were forty-five nests of these birds,
built one upon another, often one depending from another, and
completely concealing all the tree-top, except a few outermost
leaves. At a distance, the whole resembled a huge basket.
Part of these nests belonged to the Red-rumped Troopial — C.
haemorrhous — and a singular variety of oriole, the Ruff-necked
of Latham, called Araona, or Rice-bird, after the fashion of our
Cow-bird, deposits its eggs in the Troopials' nests, leaving the
young to the care of their foster-mothers. Upon this tree, was
a small hornets' nest, and the Indian whom we employed,
asserted that these were the protectors of the birds from in-
truders. It may be so ; we saw the same fellowship at other
places. Usually, Troopials build nearer houses, and are always
welcome, being friendly, sociable birds, ever ready to repay
man's protection by a song. Often, in such situations, large
trees are seen with hundreds of these nests dependent from the
limbs, and swaying in the wind. A colony which had settled
upon a tall palm, near the mill, was, one night, entirely robbed of
eggs by a lizard. Snakes are sometimes the depredators, and
between all their enemies, the poor birds, of every species, are
robbed repeatedly. Probably owing to this cause, it is very
unusual to find more than two eggs in one nest.
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 55
The Red-rumped troopials shot in this place, were of different
sizes, some being several inches longer than others, although
all were in mature plumage. Their nests were perhaps larger
than those of the Japim's, but differed in no other respect.
The eggs were white, spotted with brown, and particularly on
the larger end. The Japim's eggs were cream-colored, and
similarly spotted ; and the eggs of the Ruff-necked orioles were
large in proportion to the size of the bird — bluish in color, and
much spotted, and lined with dark-brown.
We employed an Indian who lived near by, by name
Alexandro, and a notable hunter, to obtain us specimens
and to serve as guide, upon occasions. He never could be
induced to shoot small birds, but always made his appearance
with something that he considered legitimate game — often a
live animal. One of these captives was a Sloth, and this fellow
we kept for several days, trying to see what could be made of
him. He was a pretty intractable subject, and poorly repaid
our trouble. In face he resembled somewhat a monkey, and
the corners of his mouth curving upward, gave him a very
odd appearance, making him look, as one would suppose a
monkey toper might look, if monkeys ever dissipated. His
long arms were each terminated by three large claws, and his
tough skin was well protected by a shaggy coat of coarse,
grisly hair. Placed upon the ground, he would first recon-
noitre, turning his head slowly about, then leisurely stretch forth
one arm, endeavoring to hook his claw in something that might
aid him in pulling himself onward : this found, the other claws
would slowly follow, in turn. He uttered no noise of any kind.
But put him where there was opportunity to climb, and his ap-
pearance was different enough : that dulled eye would glisten,
and an idea seem to have struck him ; rapidly his arms would
begin to move, and sailor-like, hand over hand, he would
speedily have climbed beyond recovery, had not a restraining
rope encircled him. These animals are very common through
this forest ; but upon the Amazon, far more numerous. There
are certainly two very distinct varieties, and the Indians say
three. Usually, they are seen upon the lower side of a hori-
zontal limb, hanging by their curved claws. They sometimes
56 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
eat fruit, but principally live upon leaves ; and when these are
stripped from one tree, betake themselves to another, which
they in turn denude.
At another time, Alexander brought in a young Armadillo, or
Tatu, which he had dug from its burrow in the ground. There
are several varieties about Para. They are easily tamed, eat-
ing all sorts of vegetables, and insects, particularly beetles,
which they unhole from their hiding-places in the earth. I
went, one day, with Alexander, to the margin of one of the
lakes in the woods, to obtain specimens of a coveted beetle,
(Phanseus lancifer). We found a number of their holes, reach-
ing down to the level of the water, rather more than two feet.
Fragments of wing-cases of the beetles were strewed about,
and many holes, of a larger size, explained that the Tatu had
been before us.
In one of Alexander's excursions, he had the good fortune to
discover a full-grown Puma, in the act of devouring a deer,
which it had just killed. Nothing daunted, although armed
with but a single-barreled gun, and that loaded with BB shot, he
gave the animal a discharge, which made him leave the deer,
and spring to a tree. Six several times our hunter fired, until,
at last, the Puma was dead at his feet. Formerly, these
animals were not uncommon, but now, are very rarely met,
except upon Marajo.
Not unfrequently the fruit of our hunting excursions was a
Monkey, and we considered this most acceptable, as it furnish-
ed our table with a meal, delicious, though not laid down in the
cookery books. These animals are eaten throughout the prov-
ince, and are in esteem beyond any wild game. Whatever
repugnance we felt at first, was speedily dissipated, and often, in
regard to this as well as other dishes, we had reason to con-
gratulate ourselves, that our determination of partaking of
whatever was set before us, discovered to our acquaintance
many agreeable dishes, and never brought us into trouble.
Somewhere in these precincts. A picked up a little
naked Indian, with eyes like a hawk, and most amusingly ex-
pressive features. Squatted upon a bench, with his knees
drawn up to his chin, he would watch every motion with the
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 57
curiosity of a wild man of the woods. A denominated
him his tiger, but the black servitors shook their heads, and
muttered " un poco diabo," a little devil. It was the tiger's
business to follow in the woods, and pick up game, and in the
intricacy of a thicket, rarely could even a hummer escape him.
Here he was at home ; but in the house, the indistinctness of
his conceptions of meum and tuuro, and his ignorance of the
usages of even a tolerably decent society, made him very an-
noying. One day, being rated for not having dried A 's shirt,
he was discovered, soon after, with the shirt upon his back, and
standing over the fire.
The building, a part of which is now used as a rice mill,
was formerly appropriated to different purposes, and was the
manor house of a vast estate, now mostly unproductive. It
was in the days of Para's glory, under the old regime, and
here, upon the finishing of the structure, were gathered all the
beauty and aristocracy of the city — coming down in barges,
with music and flying streamers, to a three days' revel. Every
Sunday, the old proprietor rode through the forest to the city,
with coach and four. Those days have passed, and the bound-
less wealth and the proud aristocracy that surrounded the
viceroy's court, have passed with them. An American com-
pany, formed at Northampton, Mass., purchased the estate, and,
for many years, under the superintendence of Mr. Upton, the
agent and main proprietor, have carried on a large and profit-
able business. There are two mills, one propelled by steam,
the other by water. The rice is brought in canoes from the
city, and being hulled, is returned, to be reshipped, in great
part, to Portugal. In this level country, it is extremely diffi-
cult to find a sufficient fall of water for a mill seat, but still
more so, to find a fall so conveniently situated as to be acces-
sible by tide water. Both these requisites are here; the fall
of water being twelve feet, and the flood tide filling a deep
basin directly by the side of the mill. About twenty blacks are
employed upon the place, and the more intelligent are found
every way competent to attend the different departments.
Larry, particularly, was a general favorite with visitors, and had
showed his appreciation of their favor, by picking up a few words
58 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
of English. His province was filling and marking the sacks, and
being paid a price for all above a certain number, he earned, reg-
ularly, between two and three dollars a week. We thought,
of course, that Larry was in a fair way to be a freeman, and, in
our innocence, suggested that he was laying up money to buy his
papers. But he dispersed all such notions by the sententious
reply, " I do not buy my freedom, because I am not a fool." He
had a good master , he had a wife, and he did not have care
or trouble. Thus he was contented. The aspirations of
another of these blacks, were more exalted; for one day, as he
sat ruminating upon air castles, his soul fired, perhaps, with
the glorious " excelsior," he burst out with, " I wish I was a
rich man, I would eat nothing but fresh fish." The wood
used in the steam mill was brought up by canoes, and ex-
changed for broken rice. It was handsome split wood, tough
as hickory, and of varieties generally capable of a fine polish.
Most of those who brought it were women, and they threw it
out and piled it, as though they were not unaccustomed to the
labor. There was one little boy, of not more than nine years,
who used to paddle, alone, a small montaria, unload his wood,
buy his rice, and return with the tide. This was nothing
unusual, but it serves to show the confidence reposed in chil-
dren, who, at an early age, are often seen in situations thought
to require double the years elsewhere.
It was at the mills, that we first appreciated the real luxury
of sleeping in hammocks. One lays peacefully down without
the annoying consciousness that he is beset with marauding,
bloodthirsty enemies. Throughout the whole province of Para,
hammocks are universally used, and never, but on one occasion,
while we were in the country, were we annoyed by flea or bug.
The hammock is a pleasant lounge by day, as well as resting
place by night, and the uncomfortable heat that might be felt
in a bed, is entirely avoided. In the centre of the walls of
rooms appropriated as sleeping apartments, are staples and
rings, or suspension hooks, and the hammocks are swung
across the corners. Sometimes, a post placed in the middle of
the room, answers as a point of divergence, and thus, a great
number of guests may be accommodated, in little space, and
with no inconvenience.
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 59
There is one enemy, who, sometimes, approaches even a
hammock, and takes a tribute from the unconscious sleeper, and
that is the vampire bat. They are common enough any where,
but about the mill, seem to have concentrated in dispropor-
tionate numbers. During the day, they are sleeping in the
tiles of the roof, but no sooner has the declining sun unloosed
the eve, than they may be seen issuing in long, black streams.
Usually, we avoided all their intimacies by closing the shutters
at sunset; but occasionally, some of them would find entrance
through the tiles, and we went forth to battle them with all the
doughty arms within our reach, nor stopped the slaughter until
every presumptuous intruder had bit the dust — or, less meta-
phorically, had sprawled upon the floor. Several thus cap-
tured, measured, each, upwards of two feet across the wings ;
but most were smaller. Of their fondness for human blood,
and especially that particular portion which constitutes the
animus of the great toe, from personal experience, I am unable
to vouch ; but every one in the country is confident of it, and
a number of gentlemen, at different times, assured us, that
they themselves had been phlebotomized in that member, nor
knew of the operation, until a bloody hammock afforded indu-
bitable evidence. They spoke of it as a slight affair, and, pro-
bably, the little blood that is extracted is rarely an injury. If
the foot is covered, there is no danger, or it' a light is kept
burning in the room ; and often, we have slept unharmed, thus
guarded, where bats were flitting about, and squeaking, the
night long. Cattle and horses are not so easily protected, and
a wound once made, the bat returns to it every night, until
proper precautions are taken, or the animal is killed by loss of
In different parts of the mill, were the nests of a species of
wasp, made of clay, and generally fastened upon the wall.
But, several times, upon our boxes, books, or plants, they com-
menced their labors, constructing so neat a little edifice ; that it
was hard to consider them intruders.
Another incident was more home-like. Within the noisiest
part of the building, and in an unused piece of machinery, a
little house-wren had constructed her home, and would have
60 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
reared her pretty brood, but, I am sorry to say, some egg-
collecting stranger chanced that way.
One morning, we took the montaria, and started for Corien-
tiores, a plantation, or rather, what, once was a plantation, some
three miles below. The sun was rising unclouded — the tide
fell swiftly, and we skimmed, arrow-like, in our little craft, past
leafy banks and flowery festoonings, and in a course more tor-
tuous than that of a meadow brook. The kingfisher sat perch-
ed upon his overhanging branch, scarcely big enough to carry
off the minnows he so intently watched for, and a jewel in the
sunlight, with his back of golden green, and satin breast.
Sandpipers flew, startled, across the stream, and the shrilly-
cackling rail skulked away at our approach. A duck-hawk
sat upon the summit of a leafless tree, fearlessly eyeing us.
Huge fish leaped out of the water, in all the ecstasy of pisca-
torial bliss ; and we drew from the general joyousness, good
omens of a successful morning's work. Arrived at our desti-
nation, nought appeared but a house in the distance, almost
concealed by shrubbery, and every where else, a tangled bush,
with a few tall trees, from whose tops, numbers of large fly-
catchers were calling " Bentivee — Bentivee." Through this
labyrinth, we toiled a couple of hours, shooting few birds, run-
ning heedlessly, and to our peril, into bees' nests, and leaving rags
of clothes, and shreds of flesh, among the prickly sword-grass ;
until, at length, we were fain to give it up as a bad job, and.
coming near the house, sat us down under the orange-trees,
whose abundant fruit served somewhat to stay our longings for
breakfast. A white, man came to the door, and seemed dis-
posed to be communicative ; so we mustered our forlorn stock
of Portuguese, and soon made considerable advances in his
graces. He insisted upon our taking a cup of coffee, and, after
a little more nodding and comprehending, on both sides, nothing
would do, but we must add to coffee, fish and farinha ; fresh
fish, too, and of his own catching, and none the less agreeable,
doubtless, for being presented us by his pretty wife. After
breakfast, our friend sent out to the orange-tree, and soon
brought us a brimming goblet of orangeade ; and finally, before
our departure, he had a number of breadfruits brought in, and
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 61
the extracted seeds, much like chesnuts, roasted, with which
he crammed our pockets. Verily, thought we, if this is the
custom of the country, and the mere fact of one's being a
stranger is a passport to such hospitality, and a sufficient
apology for powder-smutted faces, and ragged garments, there
is some little good left in the world yet. Here was this man,
with so generous a heart, really one of the laziest squatters in
the neighborhood, without a vestige of any sort of cultivation
upon his premises, and, evidently enough, dependent for his
support upon the fish he might catch in the stream : he would
have felt offended, had we offered to pay for our entertainment,
so we did what we could, by slipping some mementoes into the
hand of a bright-eyed young Apollo, who was trotting about
with the freedom of a wild colt.
The breadfruit tree, which we saw growing upon this
place, sprang from a plant originally introduced into the Bo-
tanical Garden of Para by the Government. A few of these
trees are scattered over the province, but they are considered
rather as ornamental than useful. In appearance, it is one of
the most beautiful of trees ; having a large, wide-spreading top,
profusely hung with many-lobed leaves, nearly two feet in
length, and of a bright green. The fruit is nearly spherical,
six inches in diameter, green in color, and curiously warted
upon the surface. Within, it is yellowish, and fibrous, and con-
tains a number of seeds, which are eaten roasted. There is a
superior variety, that is seedless, and the whole of which is
Another common visiting place from the Mills was the
Larangeira, or Orange Grove, a little settlement not far below
Corientiores, where a lazy commandant mustered a few beg-
garly troops, for the security of this pant of the province. The
most remarkable object here, was a cotton tree, measuring
thirty-two feet in circumference, two feet above the ground.
The height corresponded to this vastness, and we left it with a
very lively impression of what Nature might do here, only give
her the opportunity. Fortunately for settlers, her powers are
somewhat restricted, and for one such monster, there are a
hundred, little formidable, else were clearing the land out of
62 A VOYAGE TJP THE -RIVER AMAZON.
the question. From the Larangeira, we received a variety of
shells, the Helix pellis-serpentis, Anastoma globosa, Bulimus
regius, and Helix comboides (Ferr.) One of the largest trees
of the forest is the Masseranduba, or Cow tree, and, about Para,
they are exceedingly common. One, in particular, stands
directly on the road, beyond the first bridge from the mill, and
cutting into this, with our tresado, the milk issued at every
pore. It much resembled cream in appearance and taste, and
might be used as a substitute for milk in coffee ; or, diluted
with water, as a drink. It is, however, little used, except as a
medicine, or for the adulteration of rubber. The wood of this
tree is red, like mahogany, very durable, and used much for
purposes where such timber is required. There are said to be
eight varieties of trees known at Para, and more or less com-
mon, which yield a milky sap. Other trees yield fragrant
gums, and nearly or quite all these products are used for medi-
At length, we prepared to leave the Mills, having enjoyed
ourselves to the utmost in this our first experience of Brazilian
country life. We had seen every thing that we could have
seen, and had made a beautiful collection of birds and other
objects. It was with regret that we bade adieu to Mr. Lea-
vens, who had contributed so much to our comfort and pleasure.
The sun had not risen, when, guns upon our shoulders, and
accompanied by a black, with a basket for the carriage of any
interesting plants, or other objects that we might desire to ap-
propriate upon the road,we set forth. We passed several bridges,
spanning little streams, and for ten miles, walked through the
deep forest. The cries of monkeys resounded about us, and
every now and then, there came a shrill sound, like that pro-
duced by whistling with the finger in the mouth. We fre-
quently afterwards heard this same whistle, in different parts
of the country, but never were able to ascertain from what it
proceeded. Most likely a squirrel, but we were assured it was
the note of a bird. We encountered a spider, leisurely cross-
ing the road, that might rival the tarantula in bigness. A
sharpened stick pinned him to the earth, and we bore him in
triumph to town. Across his outstretched legs none of us could
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 63
span, and his sharp teeth were like hawk's claws. This spe-
cies spins no web, but lives in hollow logs, and probably feeds
upon huge insects, perhaps small animals, or birds. We col-
lected specimens of a great variety of Ferns, Calandrias, Te-
lanzias, and Maxillarias, and observed many rich flowers of
which we know not the names. But we did recognize a Pas-
sion-flower, with its stars of crimson, as it wound around a
small tree, and mingled its beauties with the overshading
Start for Carip6 — Island scene — Arrival — Vicinity — Tomb of Mr. Graham — Dinner —
Shelling in the bay — Varieties of shells — Martins — Terns — Nuts and fruits — Mode
of fishing — Four-eyed fish — Ant tracks — Moqueens — Forest — Creeping plants — Wild
hogs, or Peccaries — Traps — Agoutis — Pacas — Squirrels — Birds — Chapel and singing of
the blacks — Andiroba oil.
Our delightful visit at Magoary had incited a desire for
further adventure, and ere a week had elapsed after our
return, we were preparing to visit Caripe. Profiting by past
experience, we secured a small canoe, having instead of a
cabin, merely an arched covering towards the stern, denomi-
nated a iolda, and affording sufficient shelter for short voyages.
This was manned by two stout negroes. Caripe is nearly
opposite Para, distant about thirty miles, but separated by
many intervening islands. Among these, thirty miles may be
a short distance or a very long one, as the tides favor ; for
there are so many cross currents running in every direction,
that it requires great care to avoid being compelled to anchor,
and lose much time. As to pulling against the tide, which
rushes along with a six mile velocity, it is next to impossible.
We left Para at midnight, two hours before low tide ; and
falling down about eight miles, received the advancing flood,
which swiftly bore us on its bosom. There were two others
of our party, besides A and myself; and one taking the
helm, the rest of us stretched our toughening bodies upon the
platform, under the tolda, determined to make a night of it.
Morning dawned, and we were winding in a narrow
channel, among the loveliest islands that eye ever rested on.
They sat upon the water like living things ; their green dra-
pery dipping beneath the surface, and entirely concealing the
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 65
shore. Upon the main-land, we had seen huge forests, that
much resembled those of the North magnified ; but here, all
was different, and our preconceptions of a forest in the tropics
were more fully realized. Vast numbers of palms shot up
their tall stems, and threw out their coronal beauties in a pro-
fusion of fantastic forms. Sometimes, the long leaves assumed
the shape of a feather-encircling crest, at others, of an opened
•fan ; now, long and broad, they drooped languidly in the sun-
light, and again, like ribbon streamers they were floating
upon every breath of air. Some of these palms were in blos-
som, the tall sprigs of yellow flowers conspicuous among the
leaves ; from others, depended masses of large fruits ripening
in the sun, or attracting flocks of noisy parrots. At other
spots, the palms had disappeared, and the dense foliage of the
tree tops resembled piles of green. Along the shore, creeping
vines so overran the whole, as to form an impervious hedge,
concealing every thing within, and clustering with flowers.
Very rarely, a tall reed was seen, and by the leaves which
encircled every joint, and hung like tassels from its bended
head, we recognized the bamboo. Frequently we passed
plantations, generally of sugar cane, and looking, at a dis-
tance, like fields of waving corn ; in beautiful contrast with
the whole landscape beside. We lost the tide, and were
obliged to creep along shore, for some distance, at the rate of
about a mile an hour. At length, towards noon, turning a
point, we opened at once into a vast expanse of water, upon
the farther side of which the tree tops of Marajo were just
visible. Immediately to our left, distant about a mile, and in
a small circular bay, the broad white beach and glistening
house upon its margin, told us we had arrived at Caripe.
We were all enthusiasm with the beautiful spot, heightened
doubtless by the approaching termination of our voyage; for
in our cooped-up quarters, we were any thing but comfortable
or satisfied. Moreover, a sail in the hot sun, unfortified by
breakfast, tendeth not to good humor.
Landing upon the beach, and having the canoe dragged
up high and dry, we proceeded to the house, and soon made
the acquaintance of the old negroes, who had charge of the
66 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
premises. They set about preparing dinner, and we, mean-
while, slung our hammocks in the vacant apartments, and
reconnoitred our position. The house was remarkably well
constructed, for the country, covering a large area, with high
and neatly plastered rooms, and all else conveniently ar-
ranged. In front was a fine view of the bay, and Marajo in
the distance. Upon either side, the forest formed a hedge
close by. Behind, was a space of a few acres, dotted with
fruit trees of various kinds, and containing two or three
thatched structures, used for various purposes ; one of which
particularly, was a kiln for mandioca. Here a black, shaggy
goat, with horns a yard in length, lay enjoying himself in the
drying pan. A number of young Scarlet Ibises were running
tamely about. A flock of Troopiais had draped a tree, near the
house, with their nests, and were loudly chattering and scold-
ing. But amid these beauties, was one object that inspired
very different feelings. Close under our window, surrounded
by a little wooden enclosure, and unmarked by any stone,
was the tomb of Mr. Graham, his wife, and child. He was
an English naturalist, and with his family had spent a long
time in the vicinity of Para, laboring with all a naturalist's
enthusiasm to make known to the world the treasures of the
country. He left this beach, in a small montaria, to go to a
large canoe, anchored at a little distance ; and just as he had
arrived, by some strange mishap, the little boat was over-
turned, and himself, his wife, and his child were buried be-
neath the surf. The bodies were recovered and deposited in
this enclosure. Mr. Graham had been a manufacturer, and
was a man of wealth. His family suffer his remains to lie
mouldering here, unmarked, although several years have
elapsed since the catastrophe.
We were standing here, when a smiling wench announc-
ed dinner upon the table, and all reflections upon aught else
It is customary for persons visiting these solitary planta-
tions to provide themselves with such provisions as they may
want ; but we were as yet uninitiated, and had secured nothing
but a few bottles of oil and vinegar. But fish and farinha are
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 67
the never failing resort, and to this we were now introduced
with raging appetites. Here a slight difficulty occurred at the
outset. The old woman had a store of dishes, but neither
knife nor fork. We had penknives, but they were inconve-
nient, and tresados, but they were unwieldy ; so, sending eti-
quette to the parlor, we took counsel of our fingers in this em-
barrassing emergency, and by their active co-operation, suc-
ceeded in disposing, individually, of a large platter of a well
mixed compound, in which oil and vinegar, onions, pepper and
salt, materially assisted to disguise the flavor of the other two
ingredients. There have been more costly meals, and perhaps,
of a more miscellaneous character, than our first at Caripe ; but
I doubt if any were ever more enjoyed. After this dinner, we
got on more genteelly, for we heard of a store in the neighbor-
hood, and by as frequent visitations as our necessities rendered
expedient, provided ourselves with every thing requisite.
Fresh fish were abundant; and frequently some Indian in the
vicinity would bring eggs, in exchange for powder and shot.
Add to these a daily dish of muscles, or, more conchologically
speaking, of Hyrias and Castalias, and our ways and means are
We had come to Caripe more particularly for shells, inas-
much as it was the most celebrated locality for them in the
vicinity of Para. The bay so faces the channel, that the tides
create a great surf and collect large numbers of various shells.
We were just in time for the spring tides, when the water rises
and falls fifteen feet ; now, foaming almost to the top of the
bank, now, leaving exposed a broad flat of sand, beyond which,
in shallow water, is a muddy bottom. This latter was our
shelling ground ; and whenever the water would permit, all of
our party, and the boatmen, were wading neck deep about the
bajr. Each carried a basket upon his arm, and upon feeling
out the shell with his toes, either ducked to pick it up, or fished
it out with scoop-nets made for the purpose. In a good morn-
ing's work we would, in this way, collect about one hundred
and fifty shells. Those in the deeper water were of three
varieties, the Hyria corrugata (Sow.), the Hyria avicularis
(Lam.), and the Anadonta esula (D'Orbigny), the latter of
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
which was extremely uncommon. Nearer the shore, and in
pools left standing in the sand, were the Castalia ambigua
(Lam.), always discoverable by the long trails produced by
their walking. Of three other small species we found single
specimens, all hitherto undescribed by conchologists. Two of
these were of the genus Cyrena, and the third an Anadonta. In
the crevices of the uncovered rocks were great numbers of the
Neritina zebra (Lam.), which variety is often seen in the
market of Para, and is eaten by the negroes. About one hun-
dred yards east of the house, was a tide stream extending into
the woods, and called in the country, igaripe. Here, and in
similar igaripes in the neighborhood, were numbers of a red-
The water was so delightfully tempered, that we expe-
rienced no inconvenience from our long wadings, beyond blis-
tered backs, and this we guarded against somewhat by wear-
ing flannel. A kind of small fish, that bites disagreeably, was
said to be common in these waters, and though we never met
them, we thought it as well to encounter them, if at all, in
drawers and stockings. The tide here fell with very great
slowness ; but, at the instant of turning, it rushed in with a
heavy swell, immediately flooding the flat, and breaking with
loud roarings upon the shore. Besides the shells above enu-
merated, the Bulimus haemastoma was extremely common
upon the land. Frequently we found their eggs. They were
nearly an inch long, white, and within, was generally the fully
formed snail, shell and all, awaiting his egress.
At low water, upon the bushes in some parts springing
plentifully from the sand, large flocks of Martins, Hirundo
purpurea, were congregated, like swallows in August. They
seemed preparing for a migration, but as we saw them fre-
quently throughout our journeyings, at different seasons, they
probably remain and breed there. Flocks of Terns were skim-
ming every morning along the beach, and as we shot one of
their number, the others would fly circling about, screaming,
and utterly regardless of danger.
The tides here collected great quantities of nuts and fruits,
and along high-water mark, was a deep ridge of them, some,
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 69
dried in the sun, others, throwing out their roots and clinging to
the soil. We picked up an interesting variety of the palm
fruits, and large beans of various sorts. One kind of the lat-
ter, in particular, was in profusion, and we soon discovered
the tree whence they came, growing near by. It was tall
and nobly branching, and overhung with long pods. Several
varieties of acacias also ornamented the shore, conspicuous
everywhere, from the dark rich green of their leaves. These,
also, bore a bean in a broad pod, and the Indians asserted it a
useful remedy for the colic. Here, also, we discovered a new
fruit. It resembled much a strawberry, in shape, color, and fla-
vor, except that its red skin was smooth, and its size that of a
large plum. It covered in profusion the top of a large tree,
and its appearance then was most beautiful. The negroes ate
large quantities of it. We were told, afterwards, in the city,
that it was a useful and agreeable medicine, having upon the
system some of the beneficial effects of calomel.
Caripe is famous for its fishery, and we observed, with
interest, the manner of taking fish in these igaripes. A mat-
ting is made of light reeds, six feet in length, and half an inch
in diameter, fastened together by strings of grass. This, being
rolled up, is easily transported upon the shoulder, to a conveni-
ent spot, either the entrance of a small igaripe, or some little
bay, flooded by the tide. The mat net is set and properly se-
cured, and the retiring tide leaves within it the unlucky fish.
This mode is very simple, yet a montaria is frequently filled
with the fish, mostly, of course, small in size. We saw a great
many varieties thus daily taken, and much we regretted that
our ignorance of ichthyology rendered it impossible for us to dis-
tinguish them, and that our want of facilities made it equally im-
possible to preserve them. One curious species, the Anableps
tetrophthalmus, was very common. It is called by the people, the
four-eyed fish, and is always seen swimming with nose above the
surface of the water, and propelling itself by sudden starts.
The eye of this fish has two pupils, although but one crystal-
line and one vitreous humor, and but one retina. It is the
popular belief, that as it swims, two of its eyes are adapted to
the water, and two to the air.
70 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
It was curious to observe the tracks of the Sauba ants about
the grass, in some parts near the house. By constant passing,
they had worn roads two inches wide, and one or more deep,
crossing each other at every angle. These paths usually ran
towards the beach, where quantities of food were daily de-
posited for the ants. A far greater nuisance than ants were
Moqueens, little insects that live in the grass, and delight to at-
tach themselves to any passer-by. They are red in color, and
so small, as to be scarcely distinguishable. But there is no
mistaking their bite, and, for a little time, it produces an intol-
erable itching. We had known something of them at the Mills,
but the dwellers there were nothing to those at Caripe.
The forest around us was mostly of second growth, and
difficult of ingress, except along the road, which extended back,
about two miles, to an old ruin. At this place, we noticed, in
the doorway, a tree, nearly a foot in diameter, and yet, but a
very few years had elapsed since the house was inhabited.
The creeping vines were of a different variety from any
that we had before seen, contorted into strange shapes. One,
particularly, with its broad stalk, resembled a shrivelled bean
Paths of wild hogs, or Peccaries, crossed the woods every
where, these animals associating in droves. They much re-
semble the domestic hog, but never attain a large size. At
various places, in these paths, were traps set by the negroes
for Pacas and Agoutis, or other small animals. A thick hedge
of limbs, and prickly palm leaves, is laid along, and any ani-
mal encountering this, will prefer following its course to making
forcible passage, until his mortal career is probably terminated
in a figure-four trap.
The Agoutis are small animals of the Rodentia family, of a
reddish color, very common, and esteemed as food. They are
much inferior in this respect, however, as well as in size, to the
Pacas. These somewhat resemble Guinea pigs in form, and
are the size of a young porker, living in burrows in the ground.
They are very prettily spotted, and are a beautiful species.
In these woods, we saw a number of Squirrels, the same
nimble things as squirrels elsewhere- There seems to be but
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 71
one variety in the vicinity of the city, something smaller than
our red squirrel, and of a color between red and gray. The
place of this family is fully supplied by monkeys, which are
seen and heard every where.
In the denser thicket we encountered a curious species of
bird, which, afterwards, we found to be common throughout
the province, in like situations. This was the White-bearded
Puff-bird, Tamatialeucops. By collectors, at Para, it is known
by the name of Waxbill, from its long, red beak. This bird is
the size of a jay, and almost wholly a lead color, approaching
to black. It receives its name from the loose feathers upon the
throat, which it has the habit of puffing out until its neck ap-
pears as large as its body. Owing to the secluded situations
in which we found this bird, we could observe little of its hab-
its, but another variety of the same family was common about
the rice-mill, at Magoary, where, at any time, numbers of them
might be seen sitting upon the top of some dead tree, whence
they sallied out for insects, after the manner of the fly-catchers.
They were very tame, and only learned caution after sad thin-
ning of their numbers. This species is the Swallow Puff-bird,
L. tenebrosa, and is nearly the size of a Martin. We discov-
ered a nest of this bird. It was built in the fork of a limb, and
both the nest itself, and the eggs which it contained, strikingly
resembled those of our Wood-pewee, Muscicapa virens. A
third small variety of this family is the Spotted, T. macularia,
seen only in the deeper woods.
Connected with our house was a little chapel, upon the al-
tar of which, was a rude representation of the Virgin, and every
morning and evening, the blacks knelt in devotion. Upon cer-
tain evenings, all of them, and some of the neighbors, would
come together, and, for an hour, chant the Portuguese hymn,
in wild tones, but very pleasing. A lamp was constantly kept
burning in this chapel. Similar customs prevail at most of the
country sitios, and by many of the planters, the blacks are
trained up rigidly to the performance of these observances.
The oil universally used for burning is obtained from the
nuts of a tree known as the Andiroba. This tree is lofty and
its wide-spreading top is overhung with large round pericarps,
72 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
each of which contains eight nuts, of a triangular shape. These
are mashed between stones, and placed in the sun, which soon
causes the oil to exude. It is dark in color, and burns with a
dim light. Its taste is intensely bitter. It is considered a val-
uable remedy for wounds.
The torches used by the blacks, at Caripe, consisted merely
of a few small nuts of a species of palm, strung upon a stick.
They were full of oil, and burned clearly, answering their pur-
Leave for Tatiait— Indians— Arrival at midnight— Morning view — The estate — THaria
or Pottery — Lime kiln — Slaves — Castanha tree — Cuya or Gourd tree — Ant hills —
An ant battle — Forest — Macaws— Doves — Other birds — Sloth — Coati— Macura —
Butterflies — Return to the city — Festival of Judas— Visit Sr. Angelico, upon the
Guama — Brazilian country house — Curious air-plant — Seringa or Rubber trees —
Harpy Eagle — Monkeys.
Tauau is one of the estates of Archibald Campbell, Esq.,
and by his invitation, we made arrangements for spending a
few days there, in company with Mr. Norris. The distance
from Para is one tide, or about thirty miles, nearly south, and
upon the river Acara. We left the city late in the afternoon,
in the same canoe, and with the same boatmen, who accompa-
nied us to Caripe. Just above the city, the Guama flows in
with a powerful current, setting far over towards the opposite
islands. Passing this, we entered the stream formed by the
united waters of the Moju and Acara, and a few miles above,
turned eastward, into the latter ; a quiet, narrow river, winding
among comparatively lofty banks, and through large and well
cultivated plantations. The clear moonlight added inexpressi-
bly to the charm of this voyage, silvering the trees, and cast-
ing long shadows over the water. The blacks struck up a song,
and the wild chorus floated through the air, startling the still-
ness. Frequently the same song came echoed back, and soon
was heard the measured sound of paddles, as some night voy-
ager like ourselves, was on his way to the city.
One cannot sail upon these streams, where unreclaimed na-
ture still revels in freedom and beauty, without feeling power-
fully the thickly clustering associations connected with them,
and having often before his mind the scenes that have here
transpired, since white men made this the theatre of their ava-
74 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
rice and ambition. The great race who inhabited this part of
the continent were the Tapuyas, whose name is now the gen-
eral name for Indian. They were a kindly, hospitable race,
the least cruel of all the Brazilian Indians, and received the
whites with open arms. The whole main, and all these lovely
islands, were their homes, and here, in peaceful security, they
whiled away their lives like a summer's day. Henceforth their
story is soon told. They were seized as slaves, mercilessly
treated, their lives of no more value than the beasts of the wood.
Countless numbers perished beneath their toil. Millions died
from epidemic diseases, and many.fledfar into the interior, hoping
to find some spot that the white man could never reach. The
whole Tapuya race have disappeared, except here and there a
solitary one, less fortunate, perhaps, than his nation.
As we approached Tauaii, the bank increased in height,
and from some distance, the glistening tiles of a long building
were conspicuous. At length, the large plantation house ap-
peared upon the brow of the hill, almost concealed by the trees
and shrubbery, and a light descending the steps betokened that
our approach was observed. The overseer himself had come
down to bid us welcome, and landing at the nicely sheltered
wharf that projected into the stream, we followed him up the
flight of stone steps to the house. A room in the upper story
was ready to receive our hammocks, and here, we turned in, to
await the morning. It was scarcely daybreak, when Ave were
aroused by the entrance of a servant bringing coffee, and no
farther inducement was necessary to our early rising. The
sky was unclouded, and the drops which had fallen during the
latter part of the night, covered the trees with brilliants, as the
sun broke upon them. Every thing smiled with the morning,
the distant woods, the lake-like stream, the hill slope covered
by orange and cocoa trees. Below, and a little to the right,
was the tilaria, whose glistening roof had attracted us the
night before, and numbers of blacks were already within, en-
gaged at their work.
This estate was laid out by the Jesuits, and bears the
marks of their good taste. The land, for a long distance from
the river, is rolling, sometimes rising one hundred feet above
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 75
the water level. The soil is of a fine red clay, and from this the
estate derives its name, Taliaii signifying in the native tongue,
red clay. Mr. Campbell is one of the largest manufacturers of
pottery in the province. He labored hard to have fine earthen
ware made, and was at expense in getting out a workman, and the
requisite additional material. But the workman was unskilful,
and the scheme, for the time, proved abortive, though probably
practicable. The articles of ware most in demand, are water
jars, and floor and roof tiles. The former are made upon the
wheel, as elsewhere. The tiles are made by the women, floor
tiles being about six inches square, by two thick, and roof tiles
about fifteen inches long, six wide and one half inch thick,
curved, longitudinally, into half a scroll. Near the house, was
a kiln for burning lime. This was just finished, and being still
unblackened by fire or smoke, was of singularly elegant ap-
pearance, with its dazzling white walls, and yellow mouldings.
The lime here burned is shell lime, and for this purpose, vast
quantities of small shells are collected at Salinas, and other
localities upon the sea shore. Upon the hill, and west of the
house, stood a small chapel, and beyond this, extending a long
distance upon the brow, were the houses of the blacks, struc-
tures made by plastering mud upon latticed frames of wood,
and thatched with palm leaves. There were about eighty
slaves connected with this plantation, some engaged in culti-
vating the ground, or laboring in the forest, others at the
tilaria or the kiln. They were summoned to labor about five
in the morning, by the bell, and were at work about two hours
after dark ; but during the heat of the day, they were allowed
a long interval of rest. The chief overseer, or fator, was in
the city, where, at this season, most whites throughout this
vicinity were attending the festivals, but his place was sup-
plied by a very intelligent mulatto. Upon Saturday afternoon,
all the blacks collected around the store-room to receive their
rations of fish and farinha, for the ensuing week. About
twenty pounds of the latter was the allowance for an adult,
and a proportionate quantity of fish ; the whole expense
averaging a fraction less than three cents per diem, for each
person. Many of these blacks had fowls, and small cultivated
76 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
patches, and from these sources, as well as from wood, and
river, obtained much of their support.
Beyond the tilaria, was a long swamp, and here, a number
of jacanas, snipes, and plovers, were constantly flying about,
and screaming their call notes. Back of the house, was a
grove of fine trees, some, apparently, having been planted for
ornament, others, bearing profusion of various sorts of fruits.
The one of all these most attractive, was that which produces
the Brazil nut, called in the country castanhas. Botanically,
it is the Bertholletia excelsa. This tree was upwards of one
hundred feet in height, and between two and three in diameter.
From the branches were depending the fruits, large as cocoa-
nuts. The shell of these is nearly half an inch in thickness,
and contains the triangular nuts, so nicely packed, that, once
removed, no skill can replace them. It is no easy matter to
break this tough covering, requiring some instrument, and the
exercise of considerable strength : yet we were assured by an
intelligent friend, at the Barra of the Rio Negro, that the
Guaribas, or Howling Monkeys, are in the habit of breaking
them, by striking them upon stones, or the limbs of iron-like trees.
This friend related an amusing incident of which he had been
witness, where the monkey, forgetful of every thing else,
pounding down the nut with might and main, in a fever of ex-
citement, struck it with tremendous force upon the tip of his
tail. Down dropped the nut, and away flew monkey, bound-
ing and howling fearfully. How long the victim was laid up
by his lame tail, our friend was unable to inform us ; but we
thought one thing certain, that monkeys had changed since
Goldsmith's day, inasmuch as, at that time, as we are informed,
the tip of a monkey's tail was so remote from the centre of cir-
culation as to be destitute of feeling. When the castanha nuts
are fresh, they much resemble, in taste, the cocoa-nut, and the
white milk, easily expressed, is no bad substitute for milk in
coffee. This soon becomes rancid, and at length turns to oil.
The nuts are exported largely from Para, and are said to form
a very important ingredient in the manufacture of sperm can-
There is another nut ; probably of the pot tree, Lecythis
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 77
ollaria, mentioned by Spix, much resembling the castanha in
appearance and growth. When this is ripe, an operculum falls
from the lower side of the encasing pericarp, and affords egress
to the nuts within. Monkeys and squirrels are so excessively
fond of these, that it is usually impossible to obtain more than
the empty pericarp.
Next to the castanha tree, the calabash, or cuya, was most
attractive. It was low, its trunk overgrown with moss and
small parasitic plants. Directly from the bark of the trunk, or
branches, without intervening stems, grew the gourds, a bright
green in color, and often six inches in diameter, giving the tree a
very curious appearance. The smaller gourds are cut in halves,
the pulp removed, and the shell reduced by scraping. This
being sufficiently dried, is painted both inside and out, by the
Indian women, with ingenious and sometimes beautiful devices.
They are the universal drinking cup, and are known by the
name of cuyas.
The cleared space, round about, was of great extent, much
being under cultivation, but a still larger portion was thickly
overgrown with tall weeds. Here were scores of ant hills, be-
tween three and four feet in height, conically shaped, and each
having two or more entrances the bigness of one's arm. The
exterior of these hills was of stony hardness; within were
galleries and cells. The earth of which they were composed
seemed always different from that in the vicinity, and evidently
had been brought grain by grain. In the woods, we frequently
encountered a different kind of ant hill. A space of a rod square
would be entirely divested of tree or bush, and every where,
the surface was broken into little mounds, formed by the earth
brought up from below. While upon this subject, I will de-
scribe an ant battle, several of which we watched, at different
times and places. The combatants were always a species of
small black ant, and a red variety, equally small. Coming in
long lines from different directions, it seemed as if they had
previously passed a challenge, and had selected the ground for
their deadly strife. The front ranks met and grappled, toiling
like wrestlers, biting and stinging ; they soon fell, exhausted
and in the death agony. Others fought over their bodies and
78 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
likewise fell, and still, continually, over the increasing pile,
poured on the legions of survivors, fighting, for several days in
succession, until a pile of a peck, or more, lay like a pyramid.
They marched to certain death, and had their size been pro-
portionate to their courage, these battle fields had mocked
The woods about Tauaii were of the loftiest growth and
filled with game, both birds and animals. Here we first en-
countered the gorgeous Macaws, climbing over the fruit-cover-
ed branches and hoarsely crying. They were wiser than most
birds, however, having acquired something of that faculty from
long experience ; for their brilliant colors, and long plumes
render them desirable in the eyes of every Indian. They were
not unwilling to allow us one glimpse, but beyond that, we
As might be expected, Woodpeckers are exceedingly nu-
merous throughout these forests, and the size of most species
is in some proportion to the labor they have to perform, in gain-
ing their livelihood from these enormous trees. Every where
is heard their loud rattle, and harsh, peculiar note. In this
latter respect, many species so resembled those familiar to us at
home, that we could scarcely believe that the stranger that fell
dead at our feet, victim of a long, successful shot, ought not to
have been one of the Golden-wings, or Red-heads, that we had
so often tried our skill upon.
The same varieties are found throughout the river country ;
as common upon the Rio Negro as at Para. The most gaudy
of all, and the especial favorite of the Indians, is the Picus
rubricollis, whose crested head, neck, and breast, are of a bril-
liant red. Another finely crested species is the P. lineatus.
There is also the P. fulvus, nearly the size of our Golden-wing,
and of a deep brown color. Another, as large, is almost wholly
of a light yellow. Of lesser species, there seemed no end, and
some of them were singularly diminutive.
The Tree-creepers were a more eagerly sought family, and
two beautiful little species are quite common in the vicinity of
Para. One of these is of a deep indigo blue, with a black
throat, Certhia coerulea; the other, C. Cayana, is conspicuous
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 79
for the brilliant ultramarine blue that caps his head. Other-
wise he is marked with blue, and black, and yellow. These
little things are usually seen running up and down the tree
trunks, or flitting hurriedly from branch to branch, busied in
searching for insects upon the bark. They are extremely fa-
miliar, and allow of near approach. At intervals, they emit
slight, whispering notes, but their anxious haste leaves one
with the impression that they might do themselves much more
credit as songsters, at their leisure. We never fell in with these
species up the river, their place there being supplied by other
In the lower woods, were great numbers of Doves, of many
species, but similar to those we had elsewhere met. Most
beautiful of all is the Pombo troucal — Columba speciosa
(Linn.), the " bird of the painted breast." They are of large
size, and usually are seen in pairs, within the shade of some
dense tree, but, early in the morning, are often discovered, in
large numbers, upon the limbs of leafless trees, of which, at
every season, there are very many throughout the forest.
The smallest and most graceful of all these doves, is the
Rola, the Ground Dove — C. passerina — of our Southern States,
not larger in size than many sparrows. They are seen, about
cleared fields and houses, in large flocks, and when unmolested,
become extremely familiar.
About every plantation, are two varieties of Tanagers, domes-
tic as our robin, resting in the orange trees under the windows,
and constantly flitting among the branches, uttering their few
notes, which, though pleasing, can scarcely be called a song.
One of these, the Silver-bill, Tanagra jacapa. has a crimson-
velvet livery, and silvery bill ; the other, Tanagra cana, is,
mostly, a sky-blue. The former is called Pipira, from its note.
Its nest is neatly formed of leaves and tendrils of vines, and
the eggs are usually three and four, of a light-blue color, and
much marked, at the larger end, with spots of brown.
Upon one occasion, A brought in a sloth which he had
shot, and I skinned him, with the intention of preserving his
body for some anatomical friend, at home, to whom sloths might
be a novelty. But our cook was too alert for us, and before
80 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
we were aware, she had him from the peg where he hung
dripping, and into the stew-pan, whence he made his debut
upon our dinner-table. We dissembled our disappointment,
and did our best to look with favor upon the beast, but his
lean and tough flesh, nevertheless, could not compare with
There are animals much resembling the racoon, called
Coatis. They are extremely playful, and may occasionally be
seen gamboling, in parties of two or more, among the dry
leaves. When tame, they possess all a racoon's mischievous-
ness. These, as well as monkeys, according to Goldsmith,
were wont, of old, to live upon their own tails.
One 6f the negroes brought us a little animal of the opos-
sum kind, called the Macura chec^ega. It was scarcely larger
than a small squirrel, and its hair was of silky softness. We
could probably have preserved it alive, but its captor had
broken both its hinder legs, to prevent its running away. This
is the common custom of the blacks and Indians, when they
desire to preserve an animal for a time, before it is eaten.
About the flowers in wood and field, was a profusion of
butterflies, almost all gaudy beyond any thing we have at the
North. The most showy of all, was a large variety, of a sky-
blue color, and brilliant metallic lustre. We observed but one
species seen also in the Northern States, the common red butter-
fly of our meadows, in August. In this clime, the insects of all
kinds are nimble, beyond comparison with those elsewhere,
and often, the collector is disappointed in his chase. He has a
more embarrassing difficulty than that, however, for without
the most unceasing care, the ever-present ants will, in a few
moments, destroy the labor of a month.
A week passed rapidly and delightfully. The fator return-
ed, and urgently pressed our longer stay, but reported letters
from home, hastened us back to the city. The past week had
been the close of Lent, and during our absence, the city had
been alive with rejoicings. Festas and celebrations had taken
place daily, and hundreds of proprietors, with their families
and servants, had collected, from every part, to share the gene-
ral joyousness. Of all these festival days, that of Judas was
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 81
the favorite, and the one especially devoted to uproariousness.
That unlucky disciple, by every sort of penance, atoned for
the deeds done in the flesh. He was drowned, he was burned,
he was hung in chains, and quartered, and was dragged by the
neck over the rough pavements, amid the execrations of the
A few days after our return from Taiiaii, in company with
Messrs. Smith and Norris, we visited the plantation of Sr.
Angelico, upon the river Guama, for the purpose of seeing the
manufacture of rubber. A few hours' pull brought us, by sun-
rise, to a sitio upon the southern side, standing upon a lofty
bank, and commanding a fine view of the river. Here we
exchanged our canoe for a montaria, as we were soon to ascend
a narrow igaripe, where a few inches of width, more or less,
might be material ; after which, we continued a little distance
further up the river. The Guama is a larger stream than
the Acara, but much like that river in the appearance of its
banks, these often being high, and, in parts, well settled. By
some of the eastern branches of the Guama, easy communica-
tion is had with streams flowing towards Maranham, and this
route is occasionally taken by carriers. Suddenly the boat
turned, and we shot into a little igaripe so embowered in the
trees, that we might have passed, unsuspecting its existence.
The water was at its height, calm as a lake. Threading our
narrow path between the immense tree trunks, a dozen times,
we seemed to have reached the terminus, brought up by the
opposing bank ; but as often, a turn would discover itself, and
we appeared as far from the end as ever. Standing in this
water were many seringa, or rubber trees, their light-gray bark
all scarred by former wounds. We gave passing cuts at some
of them, and saw the white gum trickle down. When, at last,
we landed, it was to pick our way, as best we could, over a
precarious footing of logs and broken boards, from which a
false step might have precipitated us into mud, rich and deep.
Once upon terra firma, a short walk brought us to the house,
concealed among an orchard of cocoa trees. A loud viva
announced our approach, and immediately, Senhor Angelico
bustled out of his hammock, where he lay swinging in the
82 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
verandah, and, in his night-gown, bade us welcome. He was
a confidence-inspiring old gentleman, with his short, stout body,
and twinkling eyes, and a chuckling laugh that kept his fat
sides in perpetual motion, belying, somewhat, his tell-tale gray
hairs, and his high-sounding title of Justicia de Paz.
The Senhor did not forget the necessities of early travel-
lers. A little black boy brought around fresh water for wash-
ing, and, in a trice, breakfast was smoking on the table, our host
doing the honors with beaming face, and night-gown doffed.
This was the first decidedly Brazilian country house that we
had visited, and a description of it may not be uninteresting.
It was of one story, covering a large area, and distinguished,
in front, by a deep verandah. The frame of the house, was of
upright beams, crossed by small poles, well fastened together
by withes of sepaw. A thick coat of clay, entirely covered
this, both within and without, hardened by exposure into
stone. The floors were of the same hard material, and in front
of the hammocks, were spread broad reed mats, answering well
the purpose of carpets. Few and small windows were neces-
sary, as the inmates of the house passed most of the day in the
open air, or in the verandah, where hammocks were suspended
for lounging, or for the daily siesta. The roof was of palm
thatch, beautifully made, like basket work in neatness, and
enduring for years. The dining table stood in the back veran-
dah, and long benches were placed by its sides, as sears.
Back of the house, and entirely distinct, was a covered shed,
used for the kitchen and other purposes. Any number of little
negroes, of all ages and sizes, and all naked, were running
about, clustering around the table as we ate, watching every
motion with eyes expressive of fun and frolic, and as comfort-
ably at home as could well be imagined. Pigs, dogs, chickens
and ducks assumed the same privilege, notwithstanding the
zealous efforts of one little ebony, who seemed to have them in
his especial charge. Do his best, he could not clear them all
out from under the table at the same time. They knew their
rights. But these little inconveniences one soon becomes ac-
customed to, and regards them as matters of course. The
house stood in a grove, and round about, for some distance,
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 83
what had been a cultivated plantation was growing up to
forest, the Senhor having turned his attention to the seringa.
Scattered here and there, were neat looking houses of the
blacks, many of whom were about, and all as fat and happy as
their master. It was amusing to see the little fellows, cram-
med full of farinha, and up to any mischief, come capering
about the Senhor, evidently considering him the best playmate
on the premises. He enjoyed their frolics exceedingly, and
with a word or a motion would set them wild with glee. It is
this universally kind relation between master and slaves in
Brazil, that robs slavery of its horrors, and changes it into a
system of mutual dependence and good will.
We strolled about the woods several hours, shooting birds
and squirrels, or collecting plants. Some of the air plants
found here produced flowers of more exquisite beauty than we
ever met elsewhere, particularly, a variety of Stanhopea,
which bore a large, white, bell-shaped flower. This we suc-
ceeded in transporting to New- York, and it is now in the
green-house of Mr. Hogg, together with many other plants of
our collecting. Under his care, they promise to renew the
beauty of their native woods. We engaged a score of little
hands to pick up the shells of the B. haemastoma, which in
some places strewed the ground. Why so many empty shells
were there, it was impossible to understand. The Senhor
asserted that the animals vacated their shells yearly. A
shot an armadillo in the path, which was served up for our
dinner. The flesh resembled, in appearance and taste, young
In the afternoon, rain commenced pouring, and we were
obliged to take to our hammocks in the verandah, amusing
ourselves as we might. All night long, the rain continued, and
to such a degree, that it was found impossible to collect the
sap of the seringa. Greatly to our disappointment, therefore,
we were obliged to return ungratified in the main object of our
visit, although in every other sense, we had been richly repaid.
We had, afterwards, opportunities of observing the manufac-
ture of shoes, which, in its proper place, will be described.
84 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
Why rubber should be designated by the barbarous name of
caoutchouc, I cannot tell. Throughout the province of Para,
its home, it is universally called seringa, a far more elegant,
and pronounceable appellation, certainly.
On our way down the river, we saw the nose of an alliga-
tor protruding from the water, as he swam up the current.
These animals very rarely are met in these streams, and in-
deed, throughout the whole lower Amazon region, excepting in
the islands at the mouth of the river, where they abound.
While absent upon this excursion, Mr. Bradley, an Irish-
man, who trades upon the upper Amazon, arrived at Mr. Nor-
ris's, bringing many singular birds and curiosities of various
kinds. One of the former, was a young Harpy Eagle, a most
ferocious looking character, with a harpy's crest, and a beak
and talons in correspondence. He was turned loose into the
garden, and before long, gave us a sample of his powers.
With erected crest, and flashing eyes, uttering a frightful shriek,
he pounced upon a young ibis, and, quicker than thought, had
torn his reeking liver from his body. The whole animal world
below there, was wild with fear. The monkeys scudded to a
hiding-place, and parrots, herons, ibises, and mutuns, with all
the hen tribe that could muster the requisite feathers, sprang
helter-skelter over the fences, some of them never to be re-
A less formidable venture was a white monkey, pretty
nearly equal, in his master's estimation, to most children, and
some adults. Nick had not been with us long, before he was
upon the top of the house, and refused all solicitations to come
down. It was of no use to pursue him. Moving slowly off,
as though he appreciated the joke, he would at last perch upon
some inaccessible point, and to the moving entreaties of his
masler, would reply by the applied thumb to nose, and the
monkey jabber of " no, you don't." At other times, when there
was no danger of sudden surprises, he amused his leisure by
running over all the roofs in the block, raising the tiles, and
peering down into the chambers, to the general dismay. At
length, as fair means would not do, foul must ; and Nick re-
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 85
ceived a discharge from a gun loaded with corn. But some-
where upon the roof, he obtained a rag of cloth, and holding it
before him, he would peep over the top, ready to dodge the
flash. It would not do ; we gave Nick up as lost ; but of
his own accord, he, at last, descended, and submitted to du-
Leave Para for Vigia — Boatmen — Inland passage — Egrets and herons — Stop at sugar
plantation — Cupuassu — Mangroves — Insolence of pilot — Vigia — Arrival at Sr. Godin-
ho's — Reception— The Campinha and its scenery— Sporting— Parrots— Employes— Sun-
bird — Boat-bill — Tinami — Iguana lizard — Sugar cane — Mill — Slaves — Leave the Cam-
pinha — Kingfishers — Go below for Ibises — Sand-flies — Return to Para — A pet animal.
Soon after Mr. Bradley's arrival, Dr. Costa, the chief judge
of the district of the Rio Negro, also arrived in Para, upon his
way to Rio Janeiro, and learning^ that we desired to visit the
towns upon the Amazon, very kindly offered us his galliota and
Indians for that purpose. So tempting an offer allowed of no
hesitation, but as Mr. Bradley was to be in readiness to make
the same journey, in a few days, we determined to await his
convenience, and meanwhile, to make a short excursion to Vigia.
This town is about fifty miles below, near the junction of a small
tide stream with the Grand Para. As the direct passage down
the river offered little of interest, and, moreover, at this still
squally season, was somewhat hazardous in a small canoe, we
determined on the inland eourse, winding about among the
islands, and requiring, perhaps, double the time.
We left Para, on the first of May, in the same canoe that
carried us to Magoary, and with the same negroes whom we
had heretofore employed. These fellows, by long acquaint-
ance, assisted by a modicum of their own good nature, and a
due sense of our generosity, had moulded themselves pretty
much to our wishes. Unmerited oblivion ought not yet to over-
take these good companions of our wanderings, and who knows
but that a charcoal sketch of their lineaments and character-
istics, may discover them to the notice of some other travelers,
who may hereafter have like necessities with ourselves. And
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 87
first, our round-faced, jolly-looking, well-conditioned Faustino ;
somewhat less a beauty, perhaps, than Nature intended, by
reason of undisguisable tracings of small-pox. Yet many a
worse failing might be amply redeemed by the happy smile
that ever lightened up his coal-black countenance, particu-
larly, when enlivened by the slightest possible infusion of ca-
shaca, which, as with the Rev. Mr. Stiggins, is his weakness.
Faustino is a famous story-teller, and enacts his own heroes
with a dramatic effect that is often very amusing. He is
gifted in song too ; and many a night, have his sweet catches
softened our hard couch, and hushed us to sleep.
Faustino's companero, doubtless, once claimed a name
proper ; but long since, it seems to have been absorbed by
the more distinguishing and emphatic designation of Checo,
which in this country, signifies " small," a name by no means
inapt. A Greek proverb says, " there is grace in the small ;"
but Checo has been a soldier, and now Checo's right eye is
cocked for the enemy, and his left has an expressive squint
toward the remote thicket. Nor do his eyes belie him, doubt-
less, for though he can wear out the night with his adventures
in the southern provinces, no scar disfigures his anteriors or
posteriors, as he sits glistening in the sun, naked as the day
he was born. But Checo is faithful, and abhors Cashaca.
Besides these two, we were forced to take a pilot, on
account of the intricacy of the passage, and, therefore, a lazy,
villainous-looking mixture of Brazilian and Indian, sat at the
helm ; while a boy, like a monkey, whom he brought on board
for what he could steal, was annoying us jDerpetually.
As there were no occupants of the cabin but A and
myself, we had a comfortable allowance of room, wherein to
stretch ourselves : and about us, in ship-shape order, upon the
cabin sides, were piled our baggage, implements, and provi-
sions ; among which latter, farinha, bread, and molasses pre-
dominated. Knives and forks, spoons and plates, completed
the furniture of our cuisine ; and our table-cloth was a Turkish
rug, whose more legitimate office it was to " feather our nests"
Before dark, we had left the river, and starlight found us
88 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
ascending a stream, in no wise distinguished in the character
of its scenery from those which I have heretofore described ;
and yet, perpetually interesting from the ever new views that
constant windings presented, and which required neither sun-
light nor moonlight to cause us to appreciate their loveliness.
With the changing tide, we anchored, and turned in for the
night. It was amusing always to observe with what indif-
ference our boatmen would stretch themselves out upon the
seats, unprotected, in any way, from rain or dew, and drop at
once into a profound sleep, ready, at an instant's warning, to
start again to the oars. The pilot had brought along a ham-
mock, which he swung between the masts, high above the
others' heads ; thus obtaining a situation that might have been
envied by his masters, had not frequent acquaintance with
hard resting-places somewhat weakened their sensibilities.
Some hours before daybreak, we were again under way ;
and the first glimpse of light found us exchanging the cabin
for the deck, where, guns in hand, we planted ourselves, ready
to take advantage of any unsuspicious Egrets that might be
feeding upon the muddy bank. These Egrets, or Garcas, as
they term them in Brazil, are small, and of a snowy white, the
Ardea candidissima ; and are a very interesting addition to
the river beauties, as they stalk along the banks, or sit perched
upon the bushes, in the distance, resembling so many flowers.
The stream was narrow, and the canoe was steered to one
side or the other, as we saw these birds 5 and thus, until by
repeated alarms, and much thinning of their ranks, they had
become shy of our approach, they afforded us constant sport.
Sometimes, far in the distance, the keen eyes of the men would
descry the Great Blue Heron, the Ardea herodias ; and with
silent oars and beating hearts, we crept along the shore,
hoping to take him unawares. But it was of no avail. His
quick ear detected the approaching danger ; and long before
we could attain shooting distance, he had slowly raised him-
self and flown further on, only to excite us still more in his
About nine o'clock, we stopped at a small sugar estate,
where we proposed to remain over the tide. In landing, I inad-
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 89
vertently stepped off the blind stepping-stones, and brought up
ail standing with my knees in the mud, and slippers almost be-
yond redemption. However, I contrived to hook these out,
and marched, in stocking feet, the remainder of the distance to
the house, presenting, doubtless, an appearance as diverting as
pitiful. But the whites and negroes who crowded the veran-
dah, and awaited our approach, seemed too much accustomed
to such mishaps to mind them, and a quickly applied liniment
of agua fresca soon put all to rights again. We strolled into
the woods, and after chasing about until we were weary, re-
turned with several birds, mostly motmots and doves, and a
number of the fruits called cupuassu. These are of the size
and shape of a cocoa-nut in the husk, and within the shell is a
fibrous, acid pulp, of which a delightful drink is made, much
like lemonade. The producing tree is common in the forest,
and of great size and beauty. The afternoon was rainy, and
we were confined below. But the time passed not at all te-
diously, for beside the preserving of the birds, we had store of
books wherewith to beguile our leisure. Next morning, we
shot some rail, skulking among the mangrove roots by the wa-
ter's edge. These birds are called from their notes Cyracuras,
and are heard upon all these streams, in the early morning, or
the dusk of evening, loudly cackling. It is unusual to observe
more than one in a place, but at considerable distances, they
call and answer each other. This is one of the birds that the
citizens delight to domesticate. We heard also the sharp,
quickly repeated notes of the Sun-bird, the Ardea helias, and
the most beautiful of the heron tribe. Almost every bird is
named in this part of Brazil, from its note, but this, by way of
distinction, is called the pavon, or peacock. These birds were
shy and we yet were ungratified by seeing one.
The mangroves that skirt all these streams are a curious
feature. The tree itself is low, and has a small stem ; but from
this, radiate in every direction towards the water, long, finger-
like branches. These take root in the mud, and are really the
roots of the tree, supporting the stem at some distance above
the water. When they are small, they serve for arrows to the
Indians, being very light, and often perfectly straight. They
90 A VOYAGE UP THE RTVER AMAZON.
not only so bind the soil as to prevent its wearing away by the
constant flowings of the tide, but catch all sorts of drift, which
in this way, contributes to the body of the island. Indeed,
whole islands are thus formed ; and within the memory of res-
idents, an island of considerable size has sprung up within sight
of the city of Para. In a similar way, the thousands of islands
that dot the whole Amazon have been formed.
Ever since we left Para, our pilot had been inclined to inso-
lence, but this afternoon, from the effects of casha9a which he
had obtained at some of our landings, became intolerable.
A , at last, took his jug from him and pitched it overboard,
giving him to understand that its owner would speedily follow,
unless he changed his tone. This cowed the fellow into better
manners, and A sent him forward, taking the helm himself.
No traveller will care to employ a second time one of these low
whites or half breeds.
Towards evening, as we approached Vigia, we came upon
a bank, where a large flock of Garcas, mixed with Herons,
Spoonbills, and Scarlet Ibises were feeding. This was the first
time we had seen the latter, but the sun was too low to dis-
cover all their beauty. By eight o'clock we had anchored off
Vigia. This town had once been populous, and even contained
a Jesuit college ; but long since, the houses had gone to decay,
and the forest encroached upon the streets. It is now princi-
pally inhabited by fishermen, and in the distant view, appears
like Para, the same building material being used. We were
not to stop here, as our letters were to Senhor Godinho, who
lived upon a small igaripe opposite the town, distant a few
miles ; therefore we were early under way, although the tide
was against us. In a high bank which we passed, were seve-
ral holes of Kingfishers, and numbers of the birds, some very
small, others, twice the size of our Kingfisher of the North, were
flying about. At length, we turned into the desired igaripe,
and by dint of hard rowing and poling, advanced as far as the
shell of a house stuck upon the bank, whither our pilot went
for directions. The fellow kept us waiting a half hour, and we
pushed off without him, pleased enough to repay his villanies
by a long walk through the mud and bushes. But the tide was
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 91
out, and we lodged immovably in the mud. and for an hour's
space, were fain to keep ourselves in as good humor as we
might under a burning sun, until the tide came to our relief.
A beautiful red hawk sat near by, eyeing our movements, and
a flock of buzzards were eating the crabs along the exposed
mud. Numbers of little Sandpipers, the Totanus solitarius, were
running about, hasting to get their breakfasts before the
flooding waters should return. There were man)'- dead fish
lying about, often of large size. We afterwards learned that
these had been killed by poison thrown into the holes which
they frequent at low water.
As the tide rose, we pushed slowly on, and soon opened into
a large clear space, at the remote end of which appeared the
plantation house. Senhor Godinho met us upon the dock
which ran directly by the side o£ his mill, and welcomed us in
good English with the greatest warmth and politeness. We
at once, felt ourselves at home. Forthwith, our luggage was
unstored, a room was opened to the light, very much to the
astonishment of the bats and cockroaches, and the blacksmith
made his appearance with hooks and staples for our hammocks.
We followed the Senhor to the verandah above, and under the
cool breeze, soon lost all thoughts of our morning's broiling.
Every thing about indicated opulence and plenty. Black-
smiths, carpenters and masons were at work in their different
vocations ; the negroes and oxen were driving the sugar mills ;
the steam pipe of the distillery was in full blast; and stacks
of demijohns and jars were piled in the rooms, or standing ready
to receive the cashaca or molasses.
The house was surrounded by woods, some nearer, some
farther ; and directly in front of the verandah, was an inter-
vening swamp, along whose edges, cyracuras were feeding,
and in the middle of which, pigs and goats disputed empire
with various small water birds, and a tame white heron.
Beyond,, to the left, and extending several miles, was a prairie
or campo, crossed by parallel strips of woods, and the loud
cries of parrots and toucans came swelling on the breeze.
This was irresistible, and as soon as we could dispatch a
hearty dinner, guns in hand, we sallied on a tour of explora-
92 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
tion. The trees were all low, and the ground was crossed in
every direction by the paths of the hogs, who roamed over
these campos, half tamed, in immense numbers. Water lay
upon the surface of the ground, often to considerable depth,
but that we little cared for. We soon discovered the palms
upon which the parrots were feeding, and in a short time, the
boy who accompanied us,. was loaded with as many of these
birds as he could carry. The large parrots, as they fly slowly
along, have a very conjugal appearance; always moving in
pairs, side by side, and each and all discoursing with a noisy
volubility that must destroy the effect of what they have to
say. When one from a pair is brought down, it is amusing to
see the survivor continue chattering on, without missing a
word, or altering his course ; altogether exhibiting a cool self-
possession most anti-conjugal. Returning to the house, we
busied ourselves in preserving such specimens as we wanted,
the Senhor looking on with great interest, and relating anec-
dotes and histories of different animals and birds thereabout,
and which, in his solitude, he had both time and'inclination for
observing. In the morning, we were out again, and indeed,
were thus occupied every morning for a week, constantly ob-
taining something new and curious, besides keeping the table
well supplied with game. It seems as heterodox to eat parrot
as monkey, yet fricasseed parrot might rank favorably with
most kinds of wild game. In a day or two, one of the Senhor's
men, a free mulatto, six feet in height, straight as an arrow,
and with an eye like a hawk, was enlisted in our service,
through his masters kindness. Gregorio had a companero, an
Indian, of like characteristics and propensities, called Fran-
cisco, and between the two, we were under a press of business.
One of the birds which they procured for us, was the much
desired Sun-bird. It was small, and exquisitely marked, " its
plumage being shaded in bands and lines with brown, fawn
color, red, gray and black, recalling to our minds the most
beautiful of the nocturnal Lepidoptera." We frequently saw
this bird domesticated in other parts of the province, and in
this state it becomes exceedingly familiar, living entirely on flies
and other insects. Another species as curious as the last,
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 93
though not for its beauty, was the Boat-bill, Cancroma cochlea-
ria. It is of the heron kind, but unlike its congeners, each
mandible is shaped like half a keeled boat, short and broad.
From the head, long plumes extend far down the back.
One would think that nature delighted to give the most fan-
tastic shapes to her handiwork in these climes. Besides these
dwellers of the water, were Herons of various sorts, Snowy,
White, Blue, et alii, in profusion. The woods afforded us most
of the species we had observed elsewhere, and many others
entirely new. Here, a singular family was the Tinamus,
gallinaceous birds, resembling pheasants in their habits, but
shaped more like rails than any other bird, having long, slender
necks, and scarcely any tails. They are universally known
by the name of Inambu, and different species of the family
are found throughout northern Brazil. The eggs of these
birds are of the deepest green, and are superior to those of
domestic fowls in taste. Here also were large, reddish-brown,
Cuckoos, moving stealthily about the low trees, uttering, at
intervals, the note, which, so generally, characterizes the
family, and searching for caterpillars, and, it may be, the eggs
of the little and defenceless birds. The common species is the
Cuculus Cayanus, rather larger than our Yellow-billed Cuckoo,
but of inferior beauty. Another species much resembling this
in color, but of half the size, is often seen, and with far greater
familiarity than the Cayanus, comes into the orange and cuya
trees, about the houses, in search of worms' nests.
Upon the campo, were flocks of Red-breasted Orioles, Icte-
rus militaris, of a deep brown color, except upon the breast and
throat, which glow with a rich red. These birds have rather
the habits of starlings than orioles, being usually seen upon
the ground, or upon the low bushes, which, here and there,
diversify the campo.
Here was also a large variety of Lapwing, called Terra-
terra, from its loud and constantly repeated note.
By the brooks, which crossed the paths through the trees,
numbers of pretty Doves, of all sizes, were congregated, now,
proudly strutting with outspread tails and drooping wings,
now, chasing each other about the sandy margin, and now,
94 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
with ruffled feathers, bathing themselves in the limpid water,
and tossing the cooling drops over their shoulders.
Among the low shrubs, and about the cocoa trees, near the
house, were many small species of birds, none prettier than
the Tingtings, Tanagra violacea and T. chlorotica, two spe-
cies of small Tanagers with steel-blue backs, and yellow breasts,
frequently seen in cages in Para. There was one other cage
bird we sometimes met, called the Rossignol, or Nightingale,
neither more nor less than a yellow- shouldered black oriole.
It sings well, but scarcely deserves its honored name.
Besides the birds, we had a constant supply of monkeys and
other animals for the table. Our pilot labored zealously to re-
instate himself in our good graces, and brought in various
articles which he thought would assist him in effecting his
purpose. One of his captures was a live Iguana, called, in
Brazil, a Chameleon, a lizard of four feet length. He had shaken
the beast from a tree, upon the leaves of which it was feeding,
and seizing it by the neck and the small of the back, made it
his prize. This fellow was of a greenish color, and spotted.
Upon his back were spines which he could erect at pleasure.
Upon the ground, the iguanas move slowly, and their tail is then
a powerful defensive weapon against their enemies, capable of
inflicting a terrible lash, as this specimen showed us, after its
arrival in the city. They are much esteemed as food, and
their eggs are sought after with avidity for the same purpose.
Although their food consists mostly of leaves and fruits, yet
they rob the nests of birds, as do other lizards.
Senhor Godinho was one of the most extensive planters of
the province, and interested us greatly by his agricultural and
other information. The cane used in his mills was grown
upon the borders of the igaripes, in different localities ; and so
inexhaustible is this rich alluvium, that it requires replanting
but once in from sixteen to twenty years. Two mills constantly
employed were insufficient to dispose of his yearly crop, and a
large outhouse was filled with cane, half ruined in conse-
quence. Most of the syrup was converted into cashaca, that
being considered more profitable than sugar or molasses. In-
stead of tuns for the liquor, in the distillery, hollowed tree
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 95
trunks were used, one alone of which contained twenty-five
pipes' bulk. In the troubles of '35, the Senhor was compelled
to flee the country, as were all other planters who could, and
in the sacking of his place, sustained great loss. He was a
self-made Portuguese, formerly a merchant in Para, and his
ideas were more liberal than those of his countrymen gene-
rally, as was evident enough, from his adaption of improved
machinery for the manufacture of his sugar, instead of the
methods in* use at the time of the conquest. There were about
one hundred slaves employed upon the plantation, and they
seemed to look up to the Senhor with a pride and affection,
which he fully reciprocated. He told us that, for months
together, he was not obliged to punish one of them. They all
had ways of earning money for themselves, and upon holidays
or other times, received regular wages for their extra labor.
There was a novel custom here, usual upon these retired
plantations. Soon after sunset, all the house servants, and the
children of the estate, came in form to ask the Senhor's bless-
ing, which was bestowed by the motion of the cross, and some
little phrase, as " adeos."
It was with regret that we were compelled by time to leave
the Campinha. In collecting, we had been more than usually
successful. The hospitality of the Senhor had exceeded what
we had seen, even in this hospitable country. His kindness
followed us to the last moment, for we found that, without our
knowledge, he had sent to the boat a store of roasted fowls,
and other provisions, not the most lightly esteemed of which,
were, some bottles of choice old Port, that had not seen the
light for many a long year.
We left, intending to go below Vigia a few miles, and shoot
Ibises, and for this purpose took one or two hunters with us in
a montaria. As we passed the kingfisher bank, A took
the montaria with Francisco, and upon overtaking us, an
hour after, brought five of the larger and one of the small
Six or seven miles below Vigia, we anchored at the en-
trance of a small igaripe, beyond which, the retiring tide had
left exposed a broad sand beach. Here we anticipated finding
96 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
plenty of Ibises, and forthwith, started A and the hunters,
with as great expedition as though a flock of those birds were
in full sight and waiting to be shot. I took the matter more
leisurely, and sans ceremonie, plunged into the surf, enjoying
a luxurious bath, and finding plenty of amusement in netting
Four-eyed Fish, that were in abundance along the edge of the
w T ater. Thereafter, I strolled along the beach for shells, but
an hour's search gave me but one worth picking up. The
water at this place is fresh during the rainy season, and salt in
summer, and probably, shell-fish of either salt or fresh water
do not flourish amid these changes. The blacks, meanwhile,
were filling a basket with large crabs, which they found in deep
holes in the mud, near shore. All the hunters returned unsuc-
cessful, but reported Ibises, or Guerras, further down ; and
therefore, we prepared to go below in the canoe. During the day
several Ibises had passed by, their scarlet livery, of dazzling
beauty, glittering in the sunlight. As we coasted along in the
dusk of evening, we could discover the beach, in many parts,
black with sand-birds, that had collected for the night.
We were terribly annoyed, this night, by the sand-fiies and
small gnats, swarms of which seemed to have scented us out,
and caused an intolerable itching. Morning found us anchored
in an igaripe, and as soon as the tide would allow, we dropped
below to the beach. The men again were unsuccessful, bring-
ing in nothing but a young Spoonbill. It was now so late and
we had lost so much time, that we determined not to return to
Vigia, where we had intended to pass a day or two ; therefore
we bade adieu to our faithful hunters, feeling as much regret
as if they had been friends of long acquaintance. A fair wind
was blowing up the river, and the tide was favorable. The
former soon became a tremendous gale, and the black clouds
battled fearfully. The foresail was carried away, the blacks
began to call on the Virgin, the frightened pilot forgot his
helm, and nothing but the breadth of the canoe kept us from
going under. A sprung to the helm, and in a moment,
consternation gave place ta effective alacrity, and we were
safe. By ten o'clock, next morning, we were in Para.
A letter from Senhor Godinho to his wife, requested her to
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 97
send us a singular pet animal, which the Senhor described as
small, having a broad tail, with which, umbrella-like, it shield-
ed itself from the rain, and a lightning-like capacity for mov-
ing among the trees, now at the bottom, and, quicker than
thought, at the top. But most curious of all, and most posi-
tively certain, this little quadruped was hatched from an egg.
We suggested to the Senhor various animals, but our descrip-
tion of none answered. Of course, curiosity was at boiling
point. We had heard of furred animals with ducks' bills, and
hairy fish that chewed the cud; of other fishes that went on
shore and climbed trees ; of two-headed calves, and Siamese
twins ; but here, at last, was something unique — an animal
hatched from an egg — more wonderful than Hydrargoses, and
a speculation to make the fortunes of young men of enter-
prise. All day we waited, and nothing came ; the next morning
dawned, the noon bell tolled, and we, at last, concluded that the
Senhora had been loth to part with so singular a pet, and that
the instructions of her honored lord were to be unheeded. Din-
ner came, soup was on our plates, spoons were in our hands,
and curiosity had expended itself by its own lashings, when a
strange footstep was heard at the door-way, and a well-dressed,
dusky Rachel appeared, bearing a carefully covered cuya intui-
tively to A . Here was the wonder. What 'is it? What
can it be ? What is it like ? Down went soup spoons ; suspense
was painful. First, unrolled a clean, little white sheet — second,
another of the same, — the slightest possible end of a tail pro-
truded from under a third, a little round nose and a whisker
peeped from the remaining cotton, — and up leaped one of the
prettiest little squirrels in the world. The little darling !
Every body wanted him; every body played with him ; and
for a long time, he was the pet of the family, running about
the house as he listed.
The Indians all believe that if they shoot at a squirrel, the
gun is crooked ever after. Such superstitions are common
with respect to other animals, and as they are harmless, de-
serve to be encouraged.
First discovery of the Amazon by Pinzon — Expedition of Gonzalo Pizano — Descent of
Orellana — Settlement of Para — Second descent — Ascent of Teixera, and arrival at
Quito — He descends with Acnfla — Indian tribes — Rivers, etc. — Their report of the
country — Number of tribes — Indian customs — Languages — Lingoa Geral — Canni-
bals — System of the Jesuits — Their banishment — Present system, and condition of
the Indians — Their government — Compulsory labor.
Before commencing the narrative of our Amazon expedi-
tion, a few particulars relating to the early history of this river
may not be uninteresting. For these, I am in great part in-
debted to Southey, whose extensive work upon Brazil is the
only one of authority readily accessible.
Seven years after the discovery of America, Vincente Ya-
nez Pinzon, who, under Columbus, had commanded the Nina,
obtained a commission from the Spanish sovereigns to go in
search of new countries. The first point at which he arrived,
is now called Cape St. Augustine, and here he landed, and
took formal possession of the country. Coasting thence north-
ward, the Spaniards came to what they called a sea of fresh
water, and they supposed themselves in the mouth of some
great river or rivers. It was the mouth of the Amazon.
Without effecting further discovery, beyond landing at one of
the islands, Pinzon continued on to the Orinoco, and thence
returned to Spain. He believed that the land which he had-
visited was India beyond the Ganges, and that he had sailed
beyond the great city of Cathay. This expedition carried
many curious productions of the country, but none excited so
much astonishment as an opossum, an animal unknown in the
old world. It was described as having the fore part of a fox,
the hind part of a monkey, the feet of an ape, and the ears of
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 99
a bat; and was sent to Seville, and then to Grenada, that the
King and Queen might see it. One or two other attempts
were made to explore the vicinity of the entrance of the Am-
azon, within the next forty years, but without much success.
About the year 1541, Gonzalo Pizarro heard of a country
rich in spices, to the eastward of Peru, and resolved to secure
its possession. For this purpose, he set out from Quito, with
about two hundred foot soldiers, one hundred horse, and four
thousand Indians. Before they had advanced thirty leagues,
they suffered extremely from earthquakes and storms, hunger
and cold. At this distance, Pizarro was joined by the knight
Francisco de Orellana, with a small reinforcement. Continu-
ing on, the Spaniards suffered terrible hardships. The Indians
died, or deserted, the soldiers wasted away, and, at last, upon
the river Coca, they were in an excessive famine.
The Dorado of which they were in search, was as distant
as ever, but still their hopes were fed by the delusive reports
of the natives. To obtain relief, Pizarro sent forward Orellana,
in a brigantine which they had built, with fifty men, and with
orders to proceed to a fertile country, and to return as speedily
as possible with provisions. Amid perils and disasters, the
knight continued down about one hundred leagues, unto the
river Napo. The country, through which he had passed, was
uninhabited, nor was there any sign of culture or of population
there. It was impossible to return, and if they waited for the
army, they should perish with famine. Orellana conceived the
adventurous hope of being himself the explorer of the great
river, and his men were easily persuaded to acquiesce in his
purpose. It was upon the last day of December, 1541, that the
little band set forth. Sometimes, they met friendly Indians, at
others, they were obliged to fight their way, sword in hand,
through swarms of enemies. Famine and sickness thinned
them. The river seemed interminable ; still on, on. Hostile
Indians increased in number ; they were hardly ever out of
sight of their villages. It was the 8th of August, 1542, when
they sailed out of the river. They had built another brigan-
tine upon their way, and now, the two were carried towards
the West Indies by the current. Landing upon one of the
100 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
islands, our adventurers proceeded thence to Spain. They had
accomplished one of the most wonderful voyages ever made,
and were received with distinguished honors. The account
published by Orellana and the friar, who accompanied him,*
contained so many fabulous inventions, as to utterly destroy the
authenticity of the whole. Not the least of these, was their
account of a nation of Amazons which they had encountered,
and which thereafter gave the river its name. Orellana re-
ceived permission to repeat his discoveries, with a grant of do-
minion. Returning, he was unable to find the entrance of the
river among the islands, and died worn out by vexation.
In 1615, Caldeira founded the city of Para, and this was
the first attempt by the Portuguese to colonize the river. The
Dutch had previously formed a settlement upon the northern
bank, some leagues above ; but being soon driven out, the Por-
tugese remained sole masters.
In 1637. the Amazon was descended, a second time, by two
ecclesiastics and six soldiers. They had formed part of a large
deputation sent to Christianize the Indians, upon the frontiers
of Peru, and meeting nothing but danger in their undertaking,
had preferred the descent to the prospect of certain death in
These fathers were so stupified with fear, as to be unable
to give any intelligible account of what they had seen, except
horrible narrations of cannibal Indians. They were treated
most courteously by the Governor of Para, and in sending them
home, that officer availed himself of the opportunity to cover
his usurpation of the magistracy of the province, by an offer to
do the State service in exploring the river. His proposition
was approved, and Pedro Teixera was appointed commander
of the expedition. He left Para, the 28th of October, 1637, with
seventy soldiers, and twelve hundred natiye bowmen and row-
ers, making with their women and slaves, two thousand per-
sons in all, and embarked in forty-five canoes. The adventu-
rers arrived, late in the succeeding year, at Quito, and their
advent was celebrated by processions and bull fights.
The journal and map of Teixera were dispatched to the
Viceroy of Peru, and this officer ordered Teixera to return,
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 101
taking competent companions, who should survey the river,
and prepare a report of its wonders for the Court at Madrid.
Two professors were chosen for the purpose, Acuila and Ar-
tieda, and from their published narrative, we have the first
authentic accounts of the Amazon. Embarking upon one of
the small streams near Quito, the party soon arrived at the
Napo. Here they encountered a tribe of Indians, called En-
cabellados, or long haired ; so called from the custom with both
sexes, of suffering their hair to reach below the knees. They
were formidable enemies, and were constantly at war with
neighboring tribes. They were cannibals ; and in battle, their
weapon was the dart. Further down, was the country of the
Omaguas, or flat-heads ; whose peculiar custom resembled that
of certain tribes of North American Indians. This was the
most civilized, rational, and docile tribe upon the whole river.
They grew and manufactured cotton, and made it an article of
traffic with their neighbors. From this tribe was first learned
the use of the seringa or rubber. They possessed the islands
in the river for an extent of two hundred leagues, and were
constantly warring with the Urinas on the south side, and the
Tucunas on the north. The latter of these believed in me-
tempsychosis, and worshipped a household idol. They were
clothed about the loins with the bark of a tree ; and were re-
markable for their skill in stuffing birds, which they shot with
the blow-gun. The Urinas were cannibals ; shaved the crown
of the head; and wore feathers of macaws in the corners of
their mouths, besides strings of shells pendent from ears, nos-
trils, and under-lip.
Passing many other curious tribes, differing in customs and
character, our adventurers came to the country of the great
tribe called Curiciraris, who possessed an extent of eighty
leagues, in the vicinity of the river now called Juma. Their
settlements were almost continuous. They were the shyest
tribe upon the river, but among the most improved. They
were excellent potters, making not only jars and pans, but
even ovens and frying-pans, and in these they trafficked with
other tribes. Here were first perceived golden ornaments, and
102 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
Teixera was assured of a river of gold, running from the
mountains, some days' journey to the northward. *
Not far below, was the great river Jupura, so called from
a tribe of Indians thus denominated from a fruit of which they
made a black paste for food. This river is one of the greatest
tributaries of the Amazon.
The next considerable rivet was the Puros, named also
from the tribe upon its banks. Here Teixera heard of a tribe
of enormous giants, dwelling two months' voyage up the river.
The Puros were remarkable for their expiatory fasts, during
which no state of infirmity or disease was admitted as a relax-
ation, and numbers actually died of abstinence from food.
Below the mouth of the Puros, upon the southern side,
were the Caripunas and Zurinas, tribes remarkable for their
skill in carving.
The next river, of note, was the Rio Negro. Here were
rumors of remote people wearing hats and garments, and the
voyagers concluded that this fashion was learned in conse-
quence of their vicinity to some Spanish city. They also
heard of a great river to the north, communicating, by a
branch, with the Rio Negro. This was the Orinoco, but geo-
graphers were long incredulous as to the existence of such a
The next great river, was the Madeira ; so named from
the great quantities of wood floating down its current. Twen-
ty-eight leagues below, was a great island, possessed by the
Tupinambas, and called after their name. This tribe re-
ported their ancestors to have emigrated from the region of
Pernambuco, to escape the Portuguese. They were expert
archers. They reported two remarkable races upon the south-
ern shore ; one of whom, were dwarfs, not bigger than little
children ; and the others, singular from their feet, which grew
backwards. They also reported the existence of a nation of
Amazons, and gave minute details of their appearance and
habits. Whether such a nation ever existed or not, can never
be ascertained ; but it is most remarkable, that almost every
tribe throughout Brazil, even those most separated, and speak-
ing entirely different languages, should have believed in their
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 103
existence. When Condamine descended the river, in 1743, he
omitted no opportunity of inquiring after the Amazons, and
invariably received the same reports.
Below the island of the Tupinambas, about eighty leagues,
was the river Topajos, named from the tribe so denominated.
These Indians were dreaded by the Portuguese ; for their
arrows were venomed with so powerful a poison, that the
slightest puncture occasioned inevitable death. Here were
Portuguese settlers, and a fort on the present site of San-
tarem. Continuing on, our voyagers passed many lesser
rivers ; and heard rumors of gold and diamonds, far in the
They arrived in Para, upon the 12th of December, 1639 ;
having scarcely met with an accident, and having enjoyed
a most delightful voyage. They represented the country,
through which they had passed, as rich beyond belief, capa-
ble of yielding all tropical productions ; the forests, filled with
wild animals and game ; and the river, teeming with fish and
turtle. Every where, were inestimable gums and drugs ; and
for ship-building, there were timbers of the greatest strength
The number of tribes, were estimated at one hundred and
fifty, speaking different languages ; and bordering so closely,
that the sound of an axe in the villages of one, might be heard
in the villages of another. Their arms, were bows and arrows ;
their shields, of the skin of the cow-fish, or of plaited cane.
Their canoes, were of cedars, caught floating in the stream ;
their hatchets, were of turtle-shell; their mallets, the jaw-bone
of the cow-fish; and with these, they made tables, seats, and
other articles, of beautiful workmanship. They had idols of
their own making, each distinguished by some fit symbol ; and
they had priests, or conjurers. They were of a less dark com-
plexion, than other Brazilian nations ; were well made, and of
good stature, of quick understanding, docile, disposed to re-
ceive any instruction from their guests, and to render them
The Amazon, in its natural features, is the same now,
as when Acufia descended ; and the rapturous descriptions
104 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
which he has given of these wild forests, and mighty streams,
might have been written to-day. But where are the one
hundred and fifty tribes, who then skirted its borders, and the
villages so thickly populated ?
Most of the Brazilian Indians, spoke languages somewhat
resembling each other. The Tupi, in its dialects, prevailed in
Brazil; as the Guarani, in Paraguay; and the Omagua, in
Peru. Of these three, the second is the parent, as the Greek
is of the Latin. The Jesuits, in Brazil, adopted the Tupi ;
and this, under the present name of the Lingoa Geral, or
general language, is understood by every Indian. Still, each
tribe has its own peculiar dialect ; and those, in contact with
the whites, speak also the Portuguese.
The Tupi races were cannibals ; and it was only after
long and unwearied exertion, that the Jesuits could succeed
in abolishing that practice. Rumor speaks still of cannibal
Indians ; but we never were able to obtain any account of
such tribes, as deserved a moment's credence.
The Jesuits were always the firm friends of the Indians,
and entertained the noble conception of civilizing and chris-
tianizing those unnumbered millions of wild men, and of ele-
vating them, within a very few generations, to a rank with
other nations of the earth. They gathered them in villages,
taught them the lingoa geral, and instructed them in arts and
agriculture. They opposed, most determinedly, the enslaving
of the Indians, and the cruelties of the whites. The Carme-
lites as resolutely defended the colonists, and the history of this
province, for a long course of years, is little more than the de-
tail of the struggle between these rival orders. The Monks
were victorious ; the Jesuits were forced to leave the country,
and were transported like felons to the dungeons of Portugal.
Their property in Brazil was confiscated, and at this moment,
there is scarcely a public edifice in the province of Para, but
that belonged to them. The Government undertook to carry
out the beneficent plan of the Jesuits, and, for this purpose,
sent Friars through the wilderness, to collect together the In-
dians, and offered them the rights of freemen. But partly ow-
ing to the inefficiency of the means, and partly to obstructions
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 105
thrown in the way by the colonists, the system introduced by
the Government proved ineffectual in preventing the diminu-
tion of the tribes, or in materially bettering the condition of
the few who were willing to embrace its offers. Although
nominally freemen, they are really the slaves of any white man
who settles among them, and this must be the case, so long as
they feel their real inferiority. The only hope for them is, that,
in course of a few generations, their race will be so amalga-
mated with that of the whites as to remove all distinction.
But, as far as our observations extended, their condition was
superior, morally, to that of the frontier Indians in North
The head men, or chiefs, of the different settlements are
denominated Taucjias, and have the rank, and wear the uniform
of, Colonels in the Brazilian service. In each district is also a
Capitan des Trabalhadores, or Captain of the Laborers, and to
him belongs the general supervision of the Indians and free
negroes. If a certain number of men are required to navigate
a vessel, or for any other purpose, the Capitan sends a requisi-
tion to the Taucha, and the men must be forthcoming, no mat-
ter what may be their private engagements. This looks very
like compulsion, but it is really no more so than jury duty.
The men make a voyage to the city and back, and are then
discharged, perhaps not to be recalled, for several months.
They are paid stipulated wages, and rations, and are sure of
good treatment ; for, besides that they have their own remedy,
by running away, which they will do upon the least affront,
the law throws over them strong protections. While we were
at the Barra of the Rio Negro, a white man was lingering out
a three years' imprisonment, for merely striking an Indian in
his employ. The Government has been sometimes severely
strictured for its conduct towards the Indians, but it is difficult
to see what more it could do for them than it has done.
Preparations for ascending the Amazon — Our companions — The galliota — Indians — Pro-
visions — Difficulties at starting — Detained at Sr. Lima's — Incident — An afternoon
upon the beach — Another sitio — Marajo — The Tocantins — Islands — Ciganas and other
birds — Wood scene — Habits of our Indians — Arrive at Braves — Pottery painting —
Water-jars — Filing the teeth — Funeral of a child — A palm swamp — Seringa trees and
gum collectors — Sloth — Howling monkeys — An adventure — Enter the Amazon — A
It was no easy matter to put all things in readiness for an
expedition up the river. It was like preparing for a family
movement to the Oregon. In addition to Mr. Bradley, two
other gentlemen were to accompany us : Mr. McCulloch, the
proprietor of a saw-mill at the Barra de Rio Negro, who had
lately come down, with a raft of cedar boards, to within a few
days' sail of the city ; and Mr. Williams, a young gentleman
from Newark, New Jersey, staying like ourselves at Mr. Nor-
ris's, and who desired a further acquaintance with the wonders
of the interior.
The boat in which we were to make our cruise was called
a galliota, a sort of pleasure craft, but well adapted to such ex-
cursions. It was thirty feet in length, having a round, canoe
bottom, and without a keel. Its greatest width was seven feet.
The after part was a cabin, lined on either side, and at the re-
mote end, with lockers, for provisions and other matters. Upon
each locker was scanty room for one sleeper, and two could
lie comfortably upon the floor, while another swung above
them in a hammock. In front of the cabin door was a tiny
deck, and beyond this, covering the hold, and extending to
within two feet of the extreme bow, was the tolda, covered with
canvass, and intended for the stowage of goods or baggage.
On either side of this tolda was a space, a foot in width, and
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 107
Jevel. Here, in most awkward positions, were to sit the pad-
These were Indians, mostly of the Mura tribe, heretofore
spoken of as the worst upon the river. They were from a lit-
tle village below the Rio Negro, and consisted of a Taucha
and five of his sons, the eldest of whom, the heir apparent,
had his wife and two small children, in the bow. Beside these,
was a pilot, and three others, making altogether eighteen per-
The after part of the cabin, and the whole tolda, with barely
room enough for our trunks, and the fish and farinha for
the crew, were crammed with Bradley's goods, bringing the
deck within a few inches of the water.
Oar main stock of provisions was to be laid in at Para, and
the lockers, and every spare corner was occupied in their
stowage. We had a couple of hams, great store of ground
coffee, tea, sugar, coarse salt, onions, sardines, oil, vinegar, mo-
lasses, candles, tin cases of cheese, and two large bags of
oven-dried bread. Sundry demijohns of wine and casha9a
comprised the stock of drinkables, the former being for home
consumption, the latter for rations to the crew. In addition to
these things, several of our lady friends had contributed huge
loaves of cake, and Yankee dough-nuts, and jars of doces, not
a few. Not the least acceptable, were some pots of New-York
oysters, from a clever captain in the harbor.
We did not anticipate that a forty days' passage in this
overloaded boat would be without all sorts of inconveniences;
but such an adventure had charms enough, and we were de-
termined to have a jolly cruise, the household gods nolentes
volentes, as General Taylor would say.
No vessel can pass the fort at Gurupa without a permit from
the authorities at Para, and all voyagers on the river must pro-
vide themselves with passports. These we obtained without
difficulty, and at slight expense. Doctor Costa, Mr. Campbell,
and other friends, furnished us with letters to persons of note
in the different towns which we were to pass.
At last, upon the 23d of May, we were fairly on board, and
ready to start with the tide. But here occurred a difficulty,
108 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AB1AZON.
and an ominous one, at the outset. Six of the Indians had
given us the slip, not caring to return thus soon to the Rio Ne-
gro. Our remedies were patience and police, and we resigned
ourselves to the one, hunting the runaways with the other.
Towards night, they were brought, in, and now, going on board
again, we moored outside of a large canoe, to prevent a like
disaster, and waited the midnight tide. Rain poured furiously,
but we gathered ourselves around a trunk-table, and ate and
drank long life to our friends, and a pleasant passage to our-
selves. The Indians huddled about the door, feasting their eyes,
and muttering their criticisms, but their envy was speedily dis-
sipated by a distribution of cashaca, and biscuit, with a plate
of oysters to the Taucha. The old fellow bore his honor king-
like, and I fancy, was the first South American potentate that
ever tasted Downing's best.
There was still opportunity for a short nap before the tide
would serve, and we awaked just in time ; but now was another
trouble. The Indians, having no fear of wholesome disci-
pline before their eyes, were desperately determined not to be
awaked, and but for the ruse of calling them toa" nip " of
cashaca, we might have lost the tide again. The effect was
electrical, and they started from their deep slumbers, each
striving to be foremost. There was one boy, however, who
skulked into a montaria behind the large canoe, and would
only be induced to come on board again by the capture of his
trunk. Five on a side, they took their places. The Taucha
planted himself on the top, having a proper idea of preroga-
tive, the children hid themselves away among the farinha
baskets, and the princess covered herself in the bow, and pre-
pared to sleep.
Our course was the same that we had formerly taken to-
wards Caripe, and, by noon, we had arrived at the house of
Sr. Lima, a trader, within two miles of that place. Here we
stopped, not caring to pass the bay of Marajo by night, and
improved the opportunity to make a sail. As the tide rose,
towards* night, word was brought that the galliota was leaking
at such a rate as to endanger the goods. No alternative was
left but to unload her with all speed, and it was only by the
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 109
most active exertions that she was kept from swamping. All
the goods were piled in the verandah, and the lady of the house
allowed us the small chapel, in which to dry some of the ar-
ticles. We sent her a box of sardines, in token of our grati-
tude, and it seemed to unlock her heart chambers, for forthwith
appeared a servant to attend our table, bringing a silver tea-
pot, and various other appliances for our comfort. Slinging
our hammocks in the verandah, about the goods, we slept in the
open air. During the night, we were startled by a singular
incident, trivial enough in itself, but one that carried us back
to home scenes. Some voyager passed us, singing an air fre-
quently sung in Sunday schools, at home, and known as the
" Parting Hymn." We little thought, when last we heard it
hymned by a congregation of children, that we were next to
listen to it upon the far distant waters of the Amazon. The
words were not distinguishable. We started the same tune in
return, but the voyager was already beyond the reach of our
voices, and lost behind a point of the island. Who this could
have been, we were unable to ascertain at Para, upon our re-
turn. It was not an American.
Repairing the galliota detained us two days, but every
thing being carefully repacked, and the boat cleansed, we were
amply repaid. Starting again, on the 25th, we hoisted our
new lug-sail, and a fine breeze soon swept us past Caripe, our
old shelling ground. Full tide forced us to lie by at noon, and
we brought up under a high bank, upon which was a sideless
hut, containing a woman and children. The rest of the family,
it being Sunday, had gone off to a festa in the neighborhood.
The first impulse of the Indians, upon reaching shore, was to
look out for some shade where they might stretch themselves
to sleep. One or two of the more active, however, started out
with a gun, and, before long, returned with a live sloth, which
they had obtained by climbing the tree upon which he was
suspended. This was of a different species from those we had
seen near Para. The beach was broad and sandy, and we
amused ourselves with bathing, and searching for flowers, and
seeds thrown up by the tide. Among the flowers was one
most conspicuous, of the Bignonia family, large, yellow, and
110 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
sprinkling in profusion the dark green of the tree which it had
climbed. Wandering on some distance, we found ourselves in
a little cove, secluded from the sunlight by a high, rocky bank,
and so dark that bats were clustering about the tree trunks
in numbers. The temptation was too strong, and we imitated
the good example of the Indians.
By sunset, we were again pressing on, and, in the early eve-
ning, coasted along several miles. The shore hereabouts was
lined with ragged sand rocks, and in case of squalls, which oc-
cur almost daily, during the rainy season, the navigation is
hazardous. Our own situation began to cause us some anxie-
ty. Several times the bottom of the galliota had scraped upon
the rocks, and we were only forced off by the Indians
springing into the water, and dragging us free. A storm was
gathering, and vivid lightning and low growling thunder be-
tokened its near approach. A man, at the bow, constantly
reported the water more and more shallow, and the rising
waves dashed hoarsely upon the near rocks. But just then
a little igaripe opened its friendly arms, and. almost in a mo-
ment, we were beyond harm's reach, in water calm as a lake.
The morning dawned pleasantly, and a fine breeze spring-
ing up, we soon crossed the bay, and, by noon, had arrived at a
nice beach, upon which was a grove of assai palms loaded
with fruit. Here we stopped to fill our panellas. Continuing
on a few miles, we struck into a narrow channel, and came to
an inviting-looking house, where we concluded to await the
gathering storm. The occupants' were two Brazilians, of a
better class than we had seen since leaving the city, and we
were received with warmth. The frame of the house was
covered entirely, even to the room-partitions, by the narrow
leaves of a species of palm, plaited with the regularity of
basket work. A quantity of cacao lay drying upon elevated
platforms, and around the house hung much dried venison.
Deer were abundant here, and one had been killed that
morning. But what gratified us most was a goodly flock of
hens, and we at once commenced a parley for a pair, for we had
become somewhat tired of ham. Meanwhile the women had
been preparing our assai.
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. Ill
The region of country that we were now in, was exceed-
ingly low, mostly overflowed at high water. The waters had
fallen about a foot, but still, everything around this house was
wet, and we had only gained access to it by walking from the
boat on logs.
The next day, the 27th, we coasted along Marajo, observ-
ing many novel plants and birds. One species of palm, par-
ticularly attracted attention ; its long feather-like leaves grow-
ing directly out of the ground, and arranged in the form of a
shuttlecock. There now began to be great numbers of ma-
caws, red and blue, flying always in pairs, and keeping up a
hoarse, disagreeable screaming. We passed what was for-
merly a large and valuable estate, still having fine-looking
buildings and a chapel. It had belonged to Mr. Campbell,
and like many an other, had been ruined during the revolu-
tion of '35.
We crossed the mouth of the Tocantins, but without being
able to discern either shore of that river. It appeared abroad
sea, every where dotted with islands. The Tocantins is one of
the largest Amazon branches, and pours a vast volume of water
into Marajo Bay. This particular portion of that Bay is called
the Bay of Limoeiro, and is crossed by vessels bound to Para
from the Amazn, in preference to the route which we had
taken. The Tocantins, and a few small streams nearer the
city, are often considered the legitimate formers of Para
river. But, through numerous channels, a wide body of water
from the Amazon sweeps round Marajo, and the Gram Para is
a fair claimant to all the honors of the King of Waters.
The Tocantins is bordered by many towns, and is the
channel of a large trade. The upper country is a mineral
region, and diversified by beautiful mountain scenery. The
banks yield fustic, and numerous other woods valuable as dyes,
or for cabinet work, and if the efforts to establish a sawmill,
now in contemplation, be successful, these beautiful woods
will soon be known as they deserve. Great quantities of
castanha nuts also come down the river. The town of Cameta,
between thirty and forty miles from its mouth, contains about
twenty-five hundred inhabitants, and is in the midst of an
112 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
extensive cacao-growing region. This was the only town
upon the Amazon that successfully resisted the rebels in 1835.
The Tocantins is navigable for steamboats or large vessels for
a great distance.
Since the 26th, we had been sailing among islands, often
very near together, and again, several miles apart. Upon the
28th, we were unable to effect a landing until noon, so densely
was the shore lined with low shrubs. Upon these sat hundreds
of a large reddish bird, known by the name of Cigana, and com-
mon upon the whole Amazon, the Opisthocomus cristatus
Among them, were numbers of bitterns, and a large, black
bird, the Crotophaga major. This bird is often seen in flocks
among the bushes which skirt the river, and is conspicuous for
its long, fan-like tail, and graceful movements. Sometimes
it is seen domesticated. There is another species, the C. ani,
seen about the cattle, on the plantations ; of smaller size, and
inferior beauty. We afterwards obtained the eggs of the
former, among the bamboos, at Jungcal. They were large, al-
most spherical, of a deep blue color, but covered entirely with
a calcareous deposit, as are the eggs of many of the cormo-
Having reached a spot where the bank was a little higher
than elsewhere, we landed. A small opening between the
trees allowed ingress, and we found ourselves in a fairy bower.
How much we longed for the ability of sketching these places,
so common here, so rare elsewhere. Not the least interesting
feature was the group of Indians about the blazing fire, some
attending to their fish, which was roasting on sticks, inclined
over the flame ; others sitting listlessly by, or catching a hasty
nap upon their palm leaves. A tree bearing superb crimson
flowers shaded the boat, and a large blue butterfly was contin-
ually flitting in and out among the trees, as if sporting with our
vain attempts to entrap him. Not far off, macaws were
screaming, and the shrill whistle, observed in the woods near
Para, sounded from every direction.
We had now been nearly a week in the galliota, and al-
though somewhat crowded, had got along very comfortably.
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 113
The only inconvenience was the sultry heat of the afternoon ;
for, in these narrow channels, the wind had little scope. But
no matter how severe the heat, the Indians seemed not to mind
it, although their heads were uncovered, and their bodies
naked. Every day, about noon, they would pull up to the
bank for the purpose of bathing, of which they were extrava-
gantly fond. Even the little boys would swim about like ducks.
Their mother, the princess, had quite won our esteem, by her
quiet, modest demeanor. Her principal care was to look after
the children, but she spent her spare hours in making cuyas
from gourds, or in sewing for herself or her husband. He, good
man, seemed very fond of her, which would not have been sur-
prising, except in an Indian ; and always paddled at her side.
He might have been proud of her, even had his potentacy ex-
pectant been more elevated, for she was very pretty, and her
hands and arms might have excited the envy of many a whiter
Early upon the 29th, we arrived at Braves, a little settle-
ment, where was lying Mr. McCulloch's raft. Upon this was
stationed a " down east " lumberman, by name Sawtelle, who
was to add another to our full cabin. We were to remain at
Braves until the arrival of a large vessel, or battalon, which was
engaged in the transportation of the boards ; and as this was
likely to be some days, we unloaded upon the raft, slung our
hammocks under the thatched cabin, and sent the galliota,
again badly leaking, to be recalked.
Braves is one of the little towns that have grown up since
the active demand for rubber, of which the surrounding dis-
trict yields vast quantities. It is a small collection of houses,
partly thatched, and partly of mud, stationed any where, re-
gardless of streets or right lines. Bradley and I started to ex-
plore for eggs whereon to breakfast. We found our way to a
little affair called a store, or venda, in front of which, a number
of leisurely gentlemen were rolling balls at a one-pin. We
were politely greeted with the raised hat, and the customary
" viva," and a chance at the pin was as politely offered, which,
with many thanks, we were obliged to decline. Our errand
was not very successful, for upon the next Sunday was to be a
114 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
festa in the vicinity, and the hens were all engaged for that
occasion. At one of the houses, an old Indian woman was
painting pottery, that is, plates, and what she called " pombos"
and " gallos," or doves and cocks, but bearing a very slight
resemblance to those birds. Another was painting bilhas, or
small water jars, of white clay, and beautiful workmanship.
She promised to glaze any thing I would paint, giving me the
use of her colors. So I chose a pair of the prettiest bilhas, and
after a consultation on the raft, we concluded to commemorate
our travels by a sketch of the galliota. It was a novel busi-
ness, but after several trials I made a very fair picture, with
the aid of contemporary criticisms. The old Tauqha was might-
ily pleased to see himself so honored, as were the others, who
gathered round, watching every movement of the pencil, and
expressing their astonishment. The figure of the princess es-
pecially excited uproarious applause. Beside these, were sev-
eral other devices, and at last, all complete, I took my adven-
ture to the old woman. But she was provoked at something,
and would not be persuaded to apply the glazing. However,
after much coaxing and many promises, she assured us that
we should have them on our return down the river. The col-
ors she used were all simple. The blue was indigo ; black, the
juice of the mandioca; green, the juice of some other plant ;
and red, and yellow, were of clay. The brushes were small
spines of palms, and the coloring was applied in squares or cir-
cles; or, if any thing imitative was intended, in the rudest out-
line. The ware was glazed by a resinous gum found in the
forest. This was rubbed gently over, the vessel previously
having been warmed over a bed of coals.
The stream opposite Braves, was one-fourth of a mile wide;
and beyond, was an island heavily wooded. Thither we sent
a hunter every day, and he usually brought in some kind of
game ; a Howling Monkey or macaw. For ourselves, we were
confined pretty much to the raft ; the region about the town
being nothing but swamp. Yet still, we found opportunity to
increase our collection of birds by a few specimens hitherto
unknown to us, particularly the Cayenne Manikin, and the
Picus Cayanensis. The Indians, meanwhile, had found a
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 115
quantity of rattan, and were busily engaged in weaving a
sort of covering, or protection from the rain. Two long, cra-
dle-shaped baskets were made, one fitting within the other,
the broad banana leaves being laid between ; and under this,
they could sleep securely.
We were struck, at Braves, by the appearance of some
Portuguese boys, whose teeth had been sharpened in the
Indian manner. The custom is quite fashionable among that
class, who come over seeking their fortunes ; they evidently
considering it as a sort of naturalization. The blade of a
knife, or razor, is laid across the edge of the tooth, and by a
slight blow and dexterous turn, a piece is chipped off on either
side. All the front teeth, above and below, are thus served;
and they give a person a very odd, and to a stranger, a very
disagreeable appearance. For some days, after the operation
is performed, the patient is unable to eat or drink without
severe pain-; but soon, the teeth lose their sensitiveness, and
then seem to decay no faster than the others.
One day, there was a funeral of a child. For some time
previous to the burial, the little thing was laid out upon a
table, prettily dressed, and crowned with flowers. The mother
sat cheerfully by its side, and received the congratulations of
her friends, that her little one was now an angel.
On the morning of June 1st, we were delighted to see the
battalon come swiftly up with the tide, and made immediate
preparations for departure. Now, was trouble again with the
Indians. Some of the Taucha's boys wanted to return to
Para, and the old fellow evidently did not care whether they
did or no, notwithstanding his oft-repeated assurances, that
he would keep them in order. His authority was very ques-
tionable, and we were getting tired of his lazy inefficiency.
The old remedy was tried, and again we were conquerors.
These difficulties are incident to every navigator upon the
river ; for, upon the slightest whim, an Indian is ready to de-
sert, and often, the detention of their little baggage, or the
wages accruing to them, is matter of perfect indifference.
The morning of the 2d, found us in a narrow stream, wind-
ing among small islands, which were densely covered with
116 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
palms. Landing, in what was almost entirely a palm swamp,
we amused ourselves a long time, by observing the different
varieties, of which we had no means of ascertaining the name,
and in collecting the fruits. Here were numbers of the shut-
tlecock palms ; and their large leaves, spread upon the wet
ground, made the Indians a comfortable bed. There are
more than one hundred described species of palms, in Brazil ;
growing, to some extent, almost every where. But, within
the province of Para, by far the larger portion are upon the
islands, at the mouth of the river. Upon the islands above,
and upon the main-land, they are comparatively rare.
Leaving the palms, we came to a region abounding in huge
trees, where the shore was every where easy of access. Here
were numbers of seringa trees, and we passed many habita-
tions of the gum collectors. These were merely roofed, or
thatched on one side, and very often the water rose to the very
door. No fruit trees of any sort were there, nor was there sign
of cultivation. The forest around was just sufficiently cleared
to avoid danger from falling trees, or to let in a glimpse of the
sun. In these miserable places were always families, and thus
they live all the year round, eating nothing but fish and
farinha, and their situation only bettered in summer by less
We now entered one of the direct channels from the Ama-
zon, called the Tapajani. It was half a mile in width, and
through it poured a furious current. Here we saw a Sloth,
climbing, hand over hand, up an assai palm, by the water; and
here, also, we first heard in perfection the Guariba, or Howl-
ing Monkey. There were a number of them, some, near by,
and others, at a great distance ; all contributing to an infernal
noise, not comparable to any thing, unless a commingling of
the roaring of mad bulls, and the squealing of mad pigs. This
roaring power is owing to the peculiar conformation of the
bones of the mouth, by which they are distinguished from all
others of the family. We got quite up to a pair of these fel-
lows, as they were making all ring, deafening even themselves.
They were in a tree-top close by the water, and a shot from
A brought down one of them. But recovering himself, he
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 117
made off, as fast as he was able through the bushes. Imme-
diately the boat was stopped, and A , with several of the
Indians, sprang on shore in pursuit, but without success.
There were still some young ones in the tree, and another shot
sent tumbling one of these. But he too saved himself, twisting
his tail about a limb as he fell, and, in a twinkling, he was
snug in a corner, safe from our eyes. Monkey hunts often
Leaving the Tapajani, we were still separated from the
main current of the Amazon, by a long island, two or three
miles distant, and it was noon of the 5th, before, through the
space intervening between this and an island above, we were
able to distinguish the northern shore, twenty miles away.
The bank near us was bold, and evidently the force of the cur-
rent was continually wearing upon it, and undermining the
enormous trees, that towered with a grandeur befitting the
dwellers by this unequaled river. Often, the boat struck upon
some concealed limb or trunk, usually only requiring us to
back off, but sometimes, making us stick fast. In such cases,
several of the boys would jump into the water, and in a great
frolic, drag us free.
Towards evening, we came to a place where the macaws
were assembling to roost. Disturbed by our approach, they
circled over our heads in great numbers, screaming outrage-
ously. A caught a gun, and as one of them came plump
into the water, winged, Tau9ha, men, women and children set
up a shout of admiration. Two of the boys were instantly in
the stream, in chase of the bird, who was making rapid
strokes towards a clump of bushes. Macaw arrived first, and
for joy at his deliverance, laughed in exultation ; but a blow
of a pole knocked him into the water again, and a towel over
his nose soon made him prisoner upon our own terms. The
poor fellow struggled lustily, roaring, and using bill and toes
to good purpose. His sympathizing brethren flew round and
round, screaming in concert, and it was not until another shot
had cut off the tail of one of the most noisy, that they began to
credit us for being in earnest. Our specimen was of the Blue
and Yellow variety. During the night, we repeatedly sailed
118 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
by trees where these birds were roosting, and upon one dry-
branch, A , whose watch it was, counted eighteen. The
opportunity was tempting, but we were under press for Guru-
pa, and could not delay. The Indians were as anxious for a
rest as ourselves, and all night, pulled, with scarcely an inter-
Arrive at Gurupa — Situation of *he town — Reception by the Commandante — An egg
hunt — Storm — Cross the Xingu — Carapanas — Cedar logs — Harpy Eagle — Birds —
Mountains— Indian cooking — Forest trees— Snake birds — A Toucan's nest — Mutucas —
Indian improvidence — Grass fields — Enter an Igaripe — Hyacinthine Macaws — Passion
flowers — Pass Pryinha — Monte Alegre — Arrive at Sitios — Thrush — Campo — Incident
- -Enter the Tapajos — White Herons — Flowering trees — Arrival at Santarem — Capt.
Hislop — Morning calls — Beef — River Tapajos — Feather dresses — Embalmed heads —
Description of Santarem — Departure — A slight difficulty.
Early on the 6th, Gurupa was in sight. As we drew near,
we were hailed from the fort in some outlandish tongue, in-
quiring, probably, if we intended to storm the town. Our
answer was in English, and they seemed as well satisfied as
though they had comprehended it, bidding us pass on. The
town does not present a very striking appearance from the
water, merely the tops of half a dozen houses being visible.
The landing was at the upper end, and there we moored,
among numbers of little craft which had collected from the
vicinity, for the day was a festa.
Gurupa was formerly considered the key to the river, and
was of great service to the early colonists in preventing the en-
croachments of other nations. Now, it is of little consequence,
and has but a scanty trade. Its population numbers a few
hundred. Superior sarsaparilla, or salsa, is taken to Para from
this vicinity, The situation of the town is fine. In front, a
long island stretches far down the river, called the Isle of
Paroquets. Above, and within a few miles, are two other
islands, both small, and beautiful from their circular shape.
Upon the Isle of Paroquets, all kinds of parrots and macaws
were now preparing to breed, in vast flocks, and this accounted
120 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
for the unusual numbers which we had seen, within a few
We had a letter from Doctor Costa to the Commandante,
and suitable respect, moreover, demanded a display of pass-
ports ; so after breakfasling on the beach, A and Bradley
went up to his Excellency's house. The Commandante was
very polite in his attentions, and pressed us strongly to remain
to a dance, which he was to give in the evening. But if we
could only wait until afternoon, he would send us some fresh
beef; and, at any rate, upon our return, we must stay with him
at least a fortnight. While our two diplomatists were thus
engaged, Sawtelle undertook the customary search for eggs ;
and the first person he made inquiry of for these indispensa-
bles, was the schoolmaster, who with his dignity all upon him,
and his scholars about him, was discharging his usual duties.
Yes, the schoolmaster had eggs, and at once started to bring
them, careless of dignity, duties and all. In his absence, our
messenger despatched the scholars to their respective homes,
on a like errand, and soon, they returned with one, two, and
three apiece, until our cuya was filled. There are no County
Superintendents, or Boards of Trustees, in Brazil.
A fresh breeze had sprung up, and we hastened away. A
few miles above Gurupa, the clouds began to darken, the waves
were rising ominously, and there was every appearance of a
squall : several canoes, which had been on the same course,
had hauled in shore, and their crews seemed to look upon us
with astonishment, as we swept by them. A was on deck
as usual, watching the sail, and the Indians, half frightened at
our speed, kept every eye on him. Suddenly a halyard parted,
the sail flaunted out, the boat tipped, and there was not an In-
dian on board but crossed himself, and called on Nossa Sen-
hora. Perhaps Nossa Senhora heard them, and was willing to
do them a good turn, for very soon the wind died away, and
the bright sun made all smile again.
Soon after dark, we crossed the mouth of the Xingu,
(Shingu), much to the displeasure of the Indians, who wished
to stop upon the lower side. And they were very right ; for
scarcely had we crossed, when we were beset by such swarms
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 121
of carapanas, or musquitoes, as put all sleep at defiance.
Nets were of no avail, even would the oppressive heat allow
them, for those who could not creep through the meshes, would
in some other way find entrance, in spite of every precaution.
Thick breeches they laughed at, and the cabin seemed the in-
terior of a bee-hive. This would not do. so we tried the deck ;
but fresh swarms continually poured over us, and all night
long, we were foaming with vexation and rage. The Indians
fared little better, and preferred paddling on, to anchoring near
shore. The English consul at Para had told us, " Ye'll be
ate up alive intirely." and certainly this began to look much
like it. Moreover, we were told for consolation, that this was
but the advanced guard. It is very remarkable that carapa-
nas are not found to any troublesome extent below the Xingu.
The country is low, and much of it wet, yet. from some cause,
does not favor these little pests.
The Xingu is a noble river, in length nearly equal to the
Tocantins. At its mouth, it expands to a width of several miles,
and is there profusely dotted with islands. From the Xingu,
the best rubber is brought, and a number of small settlements,
along the banks, are supported by that trade.
Soon after sunrise, upon the 7th, we brought up along side
of a large cedar log, the land being inaccessible, or rather,
being entirely overflowed, and speedily, we had a rousing fire
kindled between two of the roots. This cedar is a beautiful
wood, light as pine, and, when polished, of fine color. ■ Most
of the woods of the country are protected against the ravages
of insects, by their hardness, but the cedar is filled with a
fragrant resinous gum, which every insect detests. It grows
mostly upon the Japura, and other upper branches of the
Amazon, and is almost the only wood seen floating in the river.
At certain points, along the shores, vast numbers of the logs
are' collected, and were mill streams common, might be turned
to profitable purpose.
Just before we had reached our mooring, a full-sized Harpy
Eagle perched upon a tree near the water, his crest erect, and
his appearance noble beyond description. We gave him a
charge of our largest shot, but he seemed not to notice it.
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
Before we could fire again, he slowly gathered himself up,
and flew majestically off. This bird is called the Gavion Real,
or Royal Eagle, and is not uncommon throughout the interior.
Its favorite food is said to be sloths, and other large sized
After breakfast we sailed by a broad marsh, upon which
hundreds of herons were stalking through the tall grass.
Upon logs, and stumps projecting from the water, sat great
flocks of terns, ducks and cormorants, who, at our approach,
left their resting places, some, circling about us with loud cries,
others, diving beneath the water, or flying hurriedly to some
We proceeded very slowly. The current had a rapidity
of about three miles an hour, and it was only by keeping close
in shore, that we could make headway. The water of the
Amazon is yellowish, and deposits a slight sediment. It is
extremely pleasant to the taste, and causes none of that sick-
ness, upon first acquaintance, that river waters often do. For
bathing, it is luxurious.
Upon the morning of the 8th, a range of hills, or moun-
tains, as they may properly enough be called, was visible upon
the northern shore ; and after passing such an extent of low
country, the sight was refreshing. They had none of the
ruggedness of mountains elsewhere, but rose gently above the
surrounding level, like some first attempt of nature at moun-
MOUNTAINS ON THE NORTHERN SHORE.
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 123
We saw a number of Darters upon the branches over the
water, but were unable to shoot them. A pair of red macaws
fared differently, and we laid them by for breakfast. During
the morning we passed about a dozen sloths. They were
favorite food of the Indians, and their eyes were always quick
to discover them among the branches, upon the lower side of
which they usually hung, looking like so many wasp's nests.
We observed a large lily, of deep crimson color, and numerous
richly flowered creepers, but without being able to obtain them.
It was impossible to effect a landing, and we moored again by
the side of a cedar log, eight feet in diameter. Upon this was
growing a cactus, which we preserved. Our macaws, fricasseed
with rice, made a very respectable meal ; somewhat tough ;
but what then, many a more reputable fowl has that disadvan-
tage. The Indians shot a small monkey, and before life was
out of him, threw him upon the fire. Scarcely warmed through,
he was torn in pieces, and devoured with a sort of cannibal
greediness, that made one shudder.
Palm trees had entirely disappeared, but cotton trees, of
prodigious height and spreading tops, were seen every where.
So also were mangabeira trees, conspicuous from their leafless
limbs, and the large red seed pods which ornamented them.
There was another tree, more beautiful than either, called from
its yellowish brown bark, the mulatto tree. It was tall and
slim, its leaves of a dark green, and its elegantly spreading top
was covered with clusters of small white flowers. The yellow
limbs, as they threaded among the leaves and flowers, pro-
duced a doubly pleasing effect. This tree is common upon
the river, but its wood is esteemed of no value.
We made little advance, the wind not favoring, and the
current being strong. Late in the evening, we threw a rope
over a stump, at some distance from the shore, beyond reach
of carapanas, and spread ourselves upon the cabin top, in the
clear moonlight, hoping for a quiet sleep. But the breeze
freshened, and off we started again, to our great misfortune ;
for, the wind soon dying away, we got entangled in the cross
currents, and were hurled with violence among bushes and
trees. And now a pelting storm came up, and the gaping
124 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
seams of the cabin top admitted floods of water. To crown
the whole, we were at last obliged to stop in shore, and sun-
rise found us half devoured.
We were always out as early as possible in the morning,
for besides that it was far the pleasantest part of the day, there
were always birds enough by the water side to attract one
fond of a gun. The morning of the 9th was ushered in by a
brace of discharges at a flock of parrots, and immediately
after, down dropped a Darter. We had seen several of these
within a few days, and they were always conspicuous from
their long, snake-like necks, and outspread tails. They were
very tame, and easily shot ; but, if not instantly killed, would
dive below the surface of the water, with nothing but the tip
of their bill protruding. In this manner, they would swim
under the grass, and were beyond detection. The Indians
called them Cararas. This family is remarkable for the ab-
sence of any tongue, save the slightest rudiment, and for hav-
ing no external nostril. This specimen was a young male of
the Plotus Anhinga.
We here saw another Harpy Eagle, and a variety of
hawks ; and in a large tree, directly over the river, was the
nest of the Toco Toucan.
The land was still swampy, but we contrived to find a stop-
ping place, where we were terribly persecuted by carapanas.
The hills, on our right, were increasing in number and size.
Several canoes passed on their way down, but as these always
keep in the current, one may sail the whole length of the Ama-
zon, without hailing a fellow voyager. We were here annoy-
ed by a large black fly, called mutuca, who seemed determined
to suck from us what little blood the carapanas had left.
The men rowed with a slight increase of unction, attributa-
ble to our being out offish, which they had wasted in the most
reckless manner. It was impossible to serve them with daily
rations ; no independent Indian would submit to that. No mat-
ler how large the piece they cut off, if it was more than enough
for their present want, over it went into the stream. Of farin-
ha too, they were most enormous gluttons, ready to eat, at any
time, a quart, which swelling in water, becomes of three times
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 125
that bulk. And they not only ate it, but drank it, mixing ifl
with water, and constantly stirring it as they swallowed. This
drink they called shibe.
The morning of the 10th, discovered the northern hills
much broken into peaks, resembling a bed of craters. Many
of the hills, however, were extremely regular, often shaped like
the frustrum of a cone, and apparently crowned with table
We coasted, for some hours, along a shoal bank, covered
with willows, and other shrubs standing in the water. Such
banks are generally lined with a species of coarse grass, which
often extends into fields of great size. Large masses of this
are constantly breaking off by wind and current, and float down
with the appearance of tiny islets. A nice little cove invited
us to breakfast, and the open forest allowed a delightful ram-
ble. Soon after leaving this place, the channel was divided by
a large island, and taking the narrower passage, all day we
sailed southward, in what seemed rather an igaripe than a part
of the Amazon. Here were thousands of small green, white-
breasted swallows ; and the bushes were alive with the Croto-
phagas, spoken of before. Here also we saw a pair of Hyacin-
thine Macaws, entirely blue, the rarest variety upon the river;
and numbers of a new Passion flower, of a deep scarlet color.
'• In the lanceolate leaves of the Passion flower, our catholic
ancestors saw the spear that pierced our Saviour's side ; in
the tendrils, the whip ; the five wounds in the five stamens ;
and the three nails, in the three clavate styles. There were
but ten divisions of the floral covering, and so they limited the
number of the apostles ; excluding Judas, the betrayer, and
Peter, the denier."
Re-entering the main stream, early upon the 11th, we pass-
ed the little town of Pryinha, upon the northern shore. The
bank was still skirted by willows and grass, and the only land-
ing we could discover, was in a swamp of tall callas. Upon
the stems of these plants was a species of shell, the Bulimus
picturata (Fer). There was here a large tree bearing pink
flowers, of the size and appearance of hollyhocks; and crimson
Passion vines were twined about the callas. During the day,
126 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
we passed a number of trees formed by clusters of many sepa-
rate trunks, which all united in one, just below the branches.
Upon the 12th, we passed Monte Alegre, a little town, like-
wise upon the northern shore, and noted above other river towns
for its manufacture of cuyas, some of which are of exquisite
form and coloring. Just below the town, a fine peak rises, con-
spicuous for many miles. The shore, near us, was densely
overhung with vines of the convolvolus major, or morning-
glory, plentifully sprinkled with flowers of pink and blue. We
passed a brood of little ducks, apparently just from the shell.
As we came near, the old one uttered a note of warning and
scuttled away; and the little tails of her brood twinkled under
About noon, discovering a sitio, we turned in, hoping to ob-
tain some fish for our men, who grumbled mightily at their fa-
rinha diet. There were a couple of girls and some children in
the house ; and they seemed somewhat surprised at our errand,
for they had not enough to eat for themselves. The poor girls
did look miserably, but poverty in such a country was absurd.
Proceeding on, an hour brought us to another sitio, where
the confused noises of dogs, and pigs, and hens, seemed indica-
tive of better quarters. Here were three women only, engaged
in painting cuyas. At first, they declined parting with any
thing in the absence of their men ; but a distribution of casha-
9a and cigars effected a wonderful change, and at last, they
sold us a pig for one milree, or fifty cents, and a hen for two
patacs, or thirty-two cents. Soon after, an old man from a
neighboring sitio brought in a Musk Duck for one patac. We
gave the pig to the men, and, in a few moments he was over
their fire. Meanwhile, they caught a fish, weighing some do-
zen pounds, and with customary improvidence, put him also
into the kettle. Finally, the half eaten fragments of both were
tossed into the river. The old man, of whom we had bought
the duck, was very strenuous for cashaca, and brought us a
peck of coffee in exchange for a pint. Not content with that,
he, at last, pursued us more than a mile, in a montaria, bring-
ing eight coppers for more, and seemed to take it much to heart
that we had none to sell.
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 127
Upon the 13th, we left the southern shore, in order to avoid
a deep curve, and crossed to a large island. Coasting along
this, we discovered a number of birds new to us, the most in-
teresting of which was a small species of the Thrush family,
the Donacobius vociferans (Swain). This bird we often, af-
terwards, saw in the grass by the water, and his delightful
notes reminded us of his cousin, the Mocking-bird, at home.
He was incomparably the finest singer that we heard upon the
river, and there, where singing birds are unusual, maybe con-
sidered as one of the river attractions. Upon either side his
neck, was a yellow wattle, by the swelling of which he pro-
duced his rich tones.
There was high land upon the southern shore, but upon
our island we could find no place to rest. The Amazon, in
this part of its course, expands to a width of from fifteen to
Towards night we bought a supply of dried peixe boi, at
a sitio. It was inconceivably worse than the periecu. or com-
mon fish, in rankness and toughness.
We passed a campo extending back for several leagues,
and covered with the coarse grass mentioned before, and
mostly overflowed. This was said to be a place of resort for
ducks, who breed there in the months of August and Septem-
ber, in inconceivable numbers. There were evidently many
now feeding upon the grass-seed, and occasionally, a few would
start up at the noise of our approach. Our pilot suggested that
there were plenty of cattle and sheep upon this campo, and
that they belonged to no one. The Indians were longing for
fresh meat, and had they been alone would have carried off
one of the " cow cattle," as Bradley termed them, without in-
quiring for ownership.
During the morning of the 14th, we stopped at a cacao sitio,
where was a fine house, and a number of blacks. While here,
a montaria arrived, containing a sour-looking old fellow, and
a young girl seated between two slaves. She had eloped from
some town above with her lover, and her father had overtaken
her at Monte Alegre, and was now conveying her home. She
was very beautiful, and her expression was so touchingly dis-
128 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
consolate, that we were half tempted to consider ourselves six
centuries in the past, toss the old gentleman into the river, and
cry St. Denis to the rescue. Poor girl, she had reason enough
for sadness, as she thought of her unpleasant widowhood, and
of the merciless cowhide in waiting for her at home. Some
one asked her if she would like to go with us. Her eyes glis-
tened an instant, but the thought of her father so near, soon
dimmed them with tears.
All day we continued along the islands. Upon the south-
ern shore, a range of regular highlands extended up and down,
and along them, we could distinguish houses, and groves of
Towards evening, we passed a campo of small extent, hav-
ing a forest background, and lined, along the shore, with low
trees and bushes. These were completely embowered in run-
ning vines, forming columns, arches, and fantastic grottoes.
The sun of the 15th had not risen, when an exclamation of
some one called us all out for the first glimpse of Santarem.
Surely enough, a white steeple was peeping through the gray
mist, bidding us good cheer, for here, at last, we should rest
awhile from our labors. The steeple was still some miles
ahead, but the spontaneous song of the men, and the hearty
pulls at the paddle, told us that these miles would be very
Crossing to the southern side, we soon entered the current
of the Tapajos. This river is often called the Preto, or Black,
from the color of its waters ; and, for a long distance, its deep
black runs side by side with the yellow of the Amazon, as
though this king of rivers disdained the contribution of so in-
significant and dingy a tributary. And yet, the Tapajos is a
mighty stream. The shore was deeply indented by successive
grassy bays, with open lagoons in their centres, about the mar-
gins of which various water-fowl were feeding. Most con-
spicuous in such places is, always, the Great White Egret,
Ardea alba, who raises his long neck above the grass as ihe
suspicious object approaches. With an intuitive perception of
the range of a fowling-piece, he either quietly resumes his
feeding, or deliberately removes to some spot near by, where
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 129
he knows he is beyond harm. The Heron is sometimes spo-
ken of as a melancholy bird, but whether stalking over the
meadows, or perched upon the green bush, he seems to me one
of the most beautiful, graceful beings in nature. The Lady
of the Waters, a name elsewhere given to a single species,
might, without flattery, be bestowed upon the whole.
The trees beyond these bays were many of them in full
bloom, some covered with glories of golden yellow ; others, of
bright blue ; and others still, of pure white. Many had lost
their leaves, and presented sombre Autumn in the embrace of
joyous Spring; thus tempering the sadness which irresistibly
steals over one when witnessing nature's decay, with the joy
that lightens every feeling, when witnessing her renovation.
Leaving these pretty spots, low trees covered the shore,
and in their branches, we noticed many new and beautiful
birds, that made us long for a montaria.
When near the town, part of our company left the galliota,
and walked up along the beach. Our letters were to Captain
Hislop, an old Scotch settler, and directly on the bank of the
river, at the nearer end of the town, we found his house. The
old gentleman received us as was usual, placing his house at
once " a suas ordens," and making us feel entirely at home.
We walked out, before dinner, to show our passports to the
proper officers, although we understood this to be rather mat-
ter of compliment than of necessity, as formerly. Not finding
the officers, we made several other calls, the most agreeable of
which was to Senhor Louis, a French baker, and a genuine
Frenchman. He was passionately fond of sporting, and al-
though he had been for several days unable to attend his busi-
ness from illness, he at once offered to disclose to us the hiding
places of the birds, and to be at our disposal, from sunrise to
sunset, as long as we should stay.
After our galliota habits, it seemed odd enough to sit once
more at a civilized table ; but that feeling was soon absorbed
in astonishment at Santarem beef, so tender, so fat, so eatable.
How could we ever return to the starved subjects of Para
The captain had been a navigator upon all these rivers,
130 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
and particularly the Tapajos; having ascended to Cuyaba,
far amongst its head waters. At Santarem, the Tapajos is
about one mile and a half wide, at high water. Above, it
greatly widens, and, for several days' journey, is bordered by
plantations of cacao. At about twelve days' journey, or not
far from two hundred and fifty miles, the mountains appear,
and the banks are uneven, and of great beauty. The region
thence above, is a rich mineral region, and rare birds, animals,
and flowers are calling loudly for some adventurous naturalist,
who shall give them immortality. Here are found the Hyacin-
thine Macaws, M. hyacinthinus, and the Trumpeters, Psophia
crepitans. At certain points, the navigation is obstructed by
rapids, and to pass these, the canoes are unloaded and dragged
over the land. The journey from Para to Cuyaba requires
about five months, owing to the absence of regular winds, and
the swiftness of the current. Canoes occasionally come down,
bringing little except gold, and in returning, they carry prin-
cipally salt and guarana, a substance from which a drink is
prepared. At a distance of several hundred miles above San-
tarem, is a large settlement of Indians, and from them, come
the feather dresses seen sometimes in Para. These are worn
by the Tauchas. A cap, tightly fitting the head, is woven
of wild cotton, and this is covered with the smaller feathers of
macaws. To this is attached a gaudy cape reaching far down
the back, and formed by the long tail feathers of the same
birds, of which they also make sceptres that are borne in the
hand. Besides these, are pieces for the shoulders, elbows,
wrists, waist, neck and knees ; and often, a richly worked sash
is thrown round the body. These dresses are the result of
prodigious labor, and far surpass, in richness and effect, those
sometimes brought from the South Sea Islands.
From the Tapajos Indians, come also, the embalmed heads,
frequently seen at Para. These are the heads of enemies
killed in war, and retain wonderfully their natural appearance.
The hair is well preserved, and the eye-sockets are filled with
clay, and painted. The Indians are said to guard these heads
with great care, being obliged, by some superstition, to carry
them upon any important expedition, and even when clearing
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 131
ground for a new sitio. In this case, the head, stuck upon a
pole in one corner of the field, watches benignly the proceed-
ings, and may be supposed to distil over the whole a shower of
The river, below the falls, is not subject to fever and ague;
and above, only at some seasons.
Santarem is the second town to Para, in size, upon the
Amazon, and has every facility, from its situation, for an exten-
sive trade with the interior. It is in the centre of the cacao
region, and retains almost entire control of that article.
Vast quantities of castanha nuts also arrive at its wharves
from the interior. The campos in the vicinity support large
herds of fat cattle, in every way superior to those of Marajo;
and were steamboats plying upon the river, Santarem beef
would be in great demand at Para. Its population is about
four thousand. It stands upon ground inclining back from the
river. Its streets are regular, and the houses pleasant looking,
usually but of one story, and built as in Para. It contains a
very pretty church, above which tower two steeples. The
fort is very conspicuous, standing upon a high point, at the
lower end of the town, and commanding the river.
The morning after our arrival, we called upon the com-
mandante and the chief of police. Both were gentlemanly,
educated men; and, very kindly, expressed themselves happy
to do us any favor, or assist us in any way. At one of these
houses, was a very curious species of monkey ; being long-
haired, gray in color, and sporting an enormous pair of white
Another monkey, of a larger species, shaggy, with black
hair, was given us as a present. This, we left until our
In the vicinity of Santarem, the scarcity of laborers is most
severely felt ; slaves being few, and Indians not only being
difficult to catch, but slippery when caught. We suspected
some persons of tampering with our men, and therefore, judged
it better to proceed at once, although we had intended to
remain several days. Our suspicions proved true, for upon
leaving, two of the boys were determined to remain behind,
132 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
and were only prevented from so doing by our summoning an
officer, and the threat of the calaboose. A detention in the
calaboose, would in itself be sl%ht; but when.it involves, at
least, three hundred lashes from the cat, a most detestable
animal to the Indian, it becomes something to be considered.
Desertion is so common, and so annoying, that it receives no
mercy from the authorities.
Leaving Santarem, we crossed to an igaripe, leading into
the Amazon. Seen from this distance, the town presents a
fine appearance, to which the irregular hills in the back-
ground much contribute. The highest of these hills ap-
proaches pretty nearly our idea of a mountain. It is of pyra-
midal form, and is known by the name of Irira. The igaripe
was narrow ; lined, upon one side, by sitios, upon the other, by
an open campo. While coasting along this, one of the boys,
who had attempted desertion, threw himself on the cabin top,
in a fit of sulks, and commenced talking impudently with the
pilot. A told him to take a paddle, which he refused ;
and, quicker than thought, he found himself overboard, and
swimming against the current. He roared lustily for help;
and after a few moments, we drew up by the grass, and
allowed him to climb in, considerably humbled, and ready
enough to take a paddle. This had a good effect upon all ;
and the alacrity with which they afterwards pulled, was quite
The Amazon thus far — A cacao sitio — Politeness — Runaways — Growing of cacao — An
alligator — High bank — Deserted sitio — Kingfishers — Romancas — Water birds — Arrive
at Obidos — Rio des Trombetas — Incidents upon leaving — Manner of ascending the
river — Shells — Stop at a sitio — High bluff — Water plants — Capitan des Trabalhadores
— Arrive at Villa Nova — Festa of St. Juan — Water scene — A Villa Nova house —
Turtles — Stroll in the woods — Lakes.
The river, above the junction of the Tapajos, was sensibly
narrower. Between Garupa and Santarem, its width had
averaged from eight to twelve, and sometimes fifteen miles.
From the mouth of the river to Santarem, a distance of six
hundred miles, twelve hundred islands are sown broad-cast
over the water; many of large size, and but few ver^ small.
These have been accurately surveyed, and their places laid
down upon charts, by the officers of a French brig of war,
within a few years. Owing to this multitude of islands, we
rarely had the opportunity of distinguishing the northern
The waters now were decreasing, having fallen between
one and two feet. Their annual subsidence, at Santarem, is
twenty-five feet; and they do not reach that point, until late
in December. At that time, the tides are observable for a
distance of several hundred miles, above the Tapajos. Even
at the height of water, they cause a slight flowing and ebbing
We had been advised, that the carapanas were more
bloodthirsty above the Tapajos; and our first night's expe-
rience, made us tremble for the future.
Early in the morning, June 17th, we drew up by a cacao
sitio. The only residents here, were four women ; two, rather
passe, and the others, pretty, as Indians girls almost always
]34 A VOVAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
are. They were seated upon the ground, in front of the
house, engaged in plaiting palm leaves: and to our salutation
of "muito bem dias," or " very good morning," and " licencia,
Senhoras," or, " permission to land, ladies," they answered
courteously, and as we desired. This was rather more agree-
able, than an affected shyness, a scudding into the house, and
peeping at us through the cracks, as would have been, our
reception in some other countries I wot of. Politeness is one
of the cardinal virtues in Brazil; and high or low, whites,
blacks, or Indians, are equally under its influence. One never
passes another, without a touch of the hat and a salutation,
either, good morning or afternoon ; or more likely still, " viva
Senhor," " long life, sir:" and frequently, when we have been
rambling in the fields, a passing stranger has called out to us
a greeting from a distance, that might readily have excused
the formality. An affirmative or negative, even between two
negroes, is "si, Senhor," or "nao, Senhor." Two acquaint-
ances, who may meet the next hour, part with " ate logo,"
or "until soon," "ate manhaa," "until to-morrow." When
friends meet, after an absence, they rush into each other's
arms ; and a parting is often with tears. " Passa bem, se
Deos quiere," " may you go happily, God willing," is the last
salutation to even a transient visitor, as he pushes from the
shore ; and very often, one discovers, that the unostentatious
kindness of his entertainer has preceded him, even into the
But to return to our ladies. A distribution of cashaca and
cigars, quite completed our good understanding ; and with the
more particularly interesting ones, the popularity of the uni-
versal Yankee nation certainly suffered no diminution. They
understood the arts of the cuisine too, and assisted us mightily
in the preparation of our viands. As a parting gift, they sent
on board a jar of fresh cacao wine, the expressed juice of the pulp
which envelops the seed, a drink delightfully acid, and re-
While here, our two boys embraced the opportunity to run
away, leaving all their traps behind them. It was embarrass-
ing, but there was no remedy, and we consoled ourselves with
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 135
the suggestion, that after all, they were lazy fellows, not worth
We were now in the great cacao region, which, for an ex-
tent of several hundred square miles, borders the river. The
cacao trees are low, not. rising above fifteen or twenty feet, and
are distinguishable from a distance by the yellowish green of
their leaves, so different from aught else around them. They
are planted at intervals of about twelve feet, and, at first, are
protected from the sun's fierceness by banana palms, which,
with their broad leaves, form a complete shelter. Three years
after planting, the trees yield, and thereafter require little at-
tention, or rather, receive not any. From an idea that the sun
is injurious to the berry, the tree tops are suffered to mat
together, until the whole becomes dense as thatchwork. The
sun never penetrates this, and the ground below is constantly
wet. The trunk of the tree grows irregularly, without beauty,
although perhaps, by careful training, it might be made as
graceful as an apple tree. The leaf is thin, much resembling
our beech, excepting that it is smooth-edged. The flower is
very smali, and the berry grows directly from the trunk or
branches. It is eight inches in length, five in diameter, and
shaped much like a rounded double cone. When ripe, it turns
from light green to a deep yellow, and at that time, ornaments
the tree finely. Within the berry, is a white, acid pulp, and,
embedded in this, are from thirty to forty seeds, an inch in
length, narrow, and flat. These seeds are the cacao of com-
merce. When the berries are ripe, they are collected into
great piles near the house, are cut open with a tresado, and
the seeds, squeezed carelessly from the pulp, are spread upon
mats to dry in the sun. Before being half dried, they are
loaded into canoes in bulk, and transmitted to Para. Some of
these vessels will carry four thousand arrobas, of thirty-two
pounds each, and as if such a bulk of damp produce would not
sufficiently spoil itself by its own steaming, during a twenty
days' voyage, the captains are in the habit of throwing upon
it great quantities of water, to prevent its loss of weight. As
might be expected, when arrived at Para, it is little more than
a heap of mould, and it is then little wonder that Para cacao is
136 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
considered the most inferior in foreign markets. Cacao is very
little drank throughout the province, and, in the city, we never
saw it except at the cafes. It is a delicious drink, when properly
prepared, and one soon loses relish for that nasty com-
pound, known in the States as chocolate, whose main ingre-
dients are damaged rice, and soap fat. The cacao trees yield
two crops annually, and excepting in harvest time, the pro-
prietors have nothing to do but lounge in their hammocks.
Most of these people are in debt to traders in Santarem, who
trust them to an unlimited extent, taking a lien upon their
crops. Sometimes the plantations are of vast extent, and one
can walk for miles along the river, from one to the other, as
freely as through an orchard. No doubt, a scientific cultivator
could make the raising of cacao very profitable, and elevate
its quality to that of Guyaquil.
Towards evening, a little alligator was seen upon a log
near shore, and we made for him silently, hoping for a novel
sport. One of the men struck him over the head with a pole,
but his casque protected him, and plumping into the water, we
saw him no more.
The morning of the 18th, found us boiling our kettle under
a high clay bank, which was thoroughly perforated by the
holes of kingfishers, who, great and small, were flying back
and forth, uttering their harsh, rapid notes, and excessively
alarmed at the curiosity with which we inspected their labors.
We tried hard to discover some eggs, but the holes extended
into the bank several feet, and we were rather afraid that some
ugly snake might resent our intrusion. Various sorts of hornets,
bees, and ants, had also their habitat in the same bank,
and so completely had they made use of what space the birds
had left them, that the broken clay resembled the bored wood
that we sometimes observed in the river below. This clay
was of sufficient fineness to be used as paint, and, in color, was
yellow and red. When fairly exposed to the sun, it seemed
rapidly hardening into stone.
Upon the hill were two houses, one neatly plastered, the
other of rough mud, with a thatched roof. Both were deserted,
and evidently had been for a long time. Traces of former cul-
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 137
tivation were every where in the vicinity, lime and orange trees
being in abundance, and the vines of the juramu, a sort of
squash, running over every thing. No one knew to whom this
had formerly belonged; but probably, to some sufferer by the
revolution. Near by the houses, we observed a number of
new flowers, one of which was a large white convolvolus, that
thereafter we frequently saw upon the shore.
During the morning, we sailed some miles under a bank of
one hundred feet in height, usually entirely wooded to the
water's edge. But wherever the sliding earth had left exposed
a cliff, it was drilled by the kingfishers to such a degree, that
we often counted a dozen holes within a square yard. It
seemed to be the general breeding place for all the varieties
of this family from hundreds of miles below.
We saw many fine looking houses, and large plantations
upon the hill, and the table land seemed to run back a long
distance. Here the fortunate proprietors lived, beyond reach
of carapanas, a most enviable superiority.
The river took a long sweep to the north, describing nearly
two-thirds of a circle, and indented by small bays. In these,
the water was almost always still, and often flowed back.
These latter aids to poor travellers are called romances, and
the prospect of one ahead was exceedingly comfortable. Great
quantities of grass are caught in these romances, and spend a
great part of their natural lives in moving, with a discour-
aging motion, now up, now down, as wind or current proves
About noon, we passed the outlet of a large lake, or rather
of what seemed to be a wide expansion of the waters of the
river, between a long island and the southern shore. Here
were numerous fishing canoes, and hundreds of terns were
flying about as though they, too, considered this good fishing
ground. There were also many of the small duck, called the
Maraca. Both these varieties of birds were seen in large
flocks, wherever logs, projecting from the water, allowed their
gathering, and often, hundreds were floating down upon some
vagrant cedar. The fields of grass were now a constant
138 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
feature, and often lined the shore to such an extent as ren-
dered landing impracticable.
Our route, upon the 19th, was extremely uninteresting,
passing nothing but cacao trees, whose monotonous sameness
was terribly tiresome. By three o'clock, we had arrived at
Obidos. Two high hills had, for some hours, indicated the
position of the town, but so concealed it, that we were unable
to distinguish more than two or three houses, until we were
close upon it. In crossing the current, for Obidos is upon the
northern side, our galiiota was furiously tossed about, and
carried some miles below. The main channel of the Amazon
is here contracted into a space of not more than a mile and a
half, and dashing through this narrow passage, the waters boil
and foam like some great whirlpool. The depth of the chan-
nel had never been ascertained until the French survey, when
it was measured as one hundred fathoms, or six hundred feet.
The position of Obidos is very fine, thus commanding the
river, and being also at the mouth of a large tributary, the
Rio de Trombetas. It was upon this river, that Orellana
placed his nation of Amazons. The friar, who accompanied
him, affirmed, that they had fought their way through a tribe
of Indians, who were commanded by a deputation of these
warlike ladies in person, and described them as tall, and of a
white complexion, wearing their luxuriant hair in plaits about
the head. Their only dress was a cincture, and they were
armed with bows and arrows. Expeditions have, at different
times, been sent to explore the Trombetas, but, from one cause
or another, have failed ; and numerous accounts are credited
of single adventurers, who have lost their lives by the can-
nibals upon its banks. But, no doubt, the country, through
which the river passes, is well worthy exploration, rich in
soil and productions, if not in minerals.
Obidos contains, perhaps, one thousand people, and is built
in the customary, orthodox manner of the country. It has
considerable trade, if we might judge by the number of its
stores, and the good assortments therein contained.
We walked about, visiting one and another, until evening,
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 139
the observed of all observers. It was not often that so many-
foreigners perambulated one of these towns together, and
every one seemed disposed to gaze, as though the opportunity
occurred but once in a lifetime.
It was delightful to see a horse once more, for we had not
enjoyed that privilege since leaving Para. Here also was an
Indian Hog, or Peccary, running about the streets, and ap-
pearing in his motions and habits, as any other hog.
We were under some apprehension of losing more of our
crew, and made preparations for leaving immediately. But
considering that our circumstances afforded as fair an excuse
as those of our neighbors, we offered the pilot a patac for
every " good and able-bodied seaman " that he would enlist.
This put him upon his mettle, and, as soon as dark set in,
he was up and down the beach, surrounded by several ac-
quaintances whom he had picked up, and eloquently depict-
ing the advantages of regular wages, and rations of coffee
Eloquence is "the art of persuasion," and our pilot was a
gifted man ; for, in a short time, he had engaged five men, and
more were waiting his approaches. But we had now our com-
plement, and, by midnight, were under way, the whole crew
in a most glorious state of jollification. The old Taucha, quiet
old man as he usually was, lay sprawled upon the top, sput-
tering unknown tongues, and singing with vigor enough to
arouse the garrison. In one of his activities, he rolled off, and
this seemed to freshen him a little, for after we had given him
a lift out of the shallow water into which he had kicked and
plunged himself, he became comparatively decent. The men,
most of them, rowed with a fervor quite delightful, and we had
crossed the river, and were proceeding rapidly, when, souse
went another, dead drunk, from the cabin top. Strange that
cold water should have had so instantaneous an effect, but,
log-like as he was, he revived at once and pulled for the grass,
from which we took him in. It was scarcely worth while to
advance in this manner, so to prevent further mishaps, we ran
the bow into the grass, and waited a more propitious morning.
The next morning, the men were in more sensible order,
140 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
and a pull of a few hours, before breakfast, made them once
more themselves. The Taucjia was as kingly as ever, and
placid as a summer's morning. It was amusing to hear him
joke with the pilot, about the man who fell overboard, and as
often as he thought of it, his fat sides would shake with inau-
dible laughter. Evidently, he had entirely forgotten his own
The wind was fair, and we sped rapidly. We passed a
long, low flat, covered with grass, interesting to us as these
campos always were, from the great variety of birds that con-
gregated upon them. Here we first observed a small bird of the
Tody species, with head and shoulders of white, the body be-
ing black. It was the T. leucocephalus, and was usually seen in
the grass, rather than on bushes or trees. Here, also, were many
Red-throated Tanagers, T. gularis, a very common species, but
striking, from its contrasted colors of red, white, and black.
Beyond this campo, long lines of willow trees skirted the shore,
their leaves mostly fallen ; and the whole tableau looked any
other than a tropical one. We passed one of the arms of the
river. Heavy waves dashed over our sides, and we felt what
a slight protection our overloaded craft would be, if overtaken
by one of the squalls, so common at this season, but which we,
fortunately, had not yet experienced.
We had now left the cacao plantations, and again welcomed
the wild beauty of the forest border, where the birds might
sing, and the monkeys gambol for our amusement, as merrily
as though white men had never passed these waters.
Towards night, we saw a large vessel, which was breasting
the current in an altogether novel way to us. A montaria
went ahead, dragging a long rope, one end of which was fas-
tened to the bow. This rope was tied to some convenient ob-
ject on shore, and hand over hand, those in the vessel pulled
her up ; when the same process was repeated. In this man-
ner, she advanced about one mile an hour, and this is the cus-
tom with all large craft, when wind does not favor.
During the night, thd breeze died away, and for several
days thereafter, was, if blowing at all, dead ahead, so that our
progress was discouragingly slow. Upon the 21st, the heat
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 141
was most oppressive, and, to add to our discomfort, the current
ran so furiously, that the utmost exertions of the men, could,
at times, scarcely propel the boat. About noon, we passed a
large house, upon a small bluff, adjoining which was a chapel
and a number of small cottages. Altogether, it was the finest
establishment that we had seen, since entering the Amazon.
Not far above, we stopped to breathe a while at a sitio, and in
wandering about the mandioca plantation, we discovered a
number of shells, but of similar varieties to those found below.
Growing upon this place, were pepper plants, in abundance,
and the Indians had soon stripped them of their berries. One
could not but wonder what the stomachs of these men were
lined with, when, with every mouthful of farinha, they threw in
a fiery red pepper, the very sight of which was almost enough
to season a dinner. Yet, the whites also acquire this habit,
and eat the article with as much relish as the Indians.
Upon the 22d, the course of the river was very tortuous, so
that, at no time, could we discover the channel far in advance.
High lands towards Villa Nova began to skirt the horizon to the
westward. We gathered a new variety of cactus, running
over the tree-tops like a vine ; and a lofty tree which we passed,
was draped with the nests of the large Crested Troopial, Cas-
sicus cristatus, three feet in length. There is another variety,
more common below, the Cassicus viridis, or Jacu, and usu-
ally encountered in the deep forest. Both these species are
nearly the size of crows. We saw, during the morning, an
unusual number of our favorite Thrush, D. vociferans. Wher-
ever a grassy spot was seen, his song was sure to come trilling
out of it, and with very little shyness, he would allow us a fair
sight of his beautyship, as he sat perched upon some tail spear,
or chased his mate sportingly through his mimic forest. Just
before dark, we arrived at the house of a Villa Nova padre.
He was not at home, but a number of Indian women seemed
to be the managers, and from them, we obtained a pair of Tam-
baki, a fish much esteemed upon this part of the river, and a
turtle. These turtles were now ascending the river to their
breeding places upon the upper tributaries, and upon several
142 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
occasions we had observed them floating upon the water, near
Early upon the 23d, we passed a high bluff, which marks
the Upper from the Lower Amazon. Below, we had been in
the district of Para ; now, we had entered that of the Rio
We saw increasing quantities of a very pretty water plant,
whose flowers were blue and white, and about the basis of
whose leaf-stems were spongy expansions, always filled with
air — natural swimming corks.
The sun was just setting, as we drew up at the sitio of the
Capitan des Trabalhadores, to whom we had letters from Doc-
tor Costa, desiring him to arrange men for our further advance.
He promised to go to town in the morning, and filling one of
our lockers from his orange trees, we proceeded on. Villa
Nova is not upon so high land as some of the towns below,
and is not conspicuous from a distance. But its situation is
marked by an opposite island, the upper point of which ex-
tends two or three miles beyond the town. This was watched
by many eager eyes, for it was the eve of the Festa of St.
Juan, one of their most popular of saints ; and our men, if pos-
sible, were more anxious than we, and strained every nerve
to arrive in time for the evening's festivities. With such a
will, it was not long before the roaring of. the muskets, depu-
tized as cannon, and the bright light of bonfires, burst upon
us. Suddenly, the whole illuminated town was before us, bon-
fires glaring before every door, and an especially large one at
the upper end, where the Delegarde resided.
We came in among a crowd of montarias and large canoes,
mostly filled with women, whom their husbands and fathers
had deserted for the more attractive cashaca shops, and who
were patiently awaiting the hour of the danca. Upon the
bank a procession was passing, the front rank noisy in the
plenitude of drums and fifes. Succeeding them were ingen-
iously preposterous angels ; some, overtopped by plumes
several feet in length ; others, winged with a pair of huge
appendages, looking like brown paper kites ; and others still,
in parti-colored gauds, suggestive of scape-angels from Pande-
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 143
monium. Behind these loitered the tag, rag, and bobtail, or
the black, red, and yellow, in the most orthodox Tammany
Some of our party went on shore to look up old acquaint-
ances. I remained on board, preferring to make observations
by daylight, ft was late before the noise in the town sub-
sided, what with muskets and rockets, singing and fiddling; so
late, that I must have been dreaming hours before ; but the
first thing that awoke me in the morning, was a splashing, and
laughing, and screaming all around the gaiiiota, where the sex,
par excellence, was washing away the fatigues of the dance
in a manner to rival a school of mermaids. And these Indian
girls, with their long floating hair, and merry laugh, would be
no bad representations of that species not found in Cuvier;
darting through the surf like born sea-nymphs.
We were invited to the house of Senhor Bentos, a warm-
hearted old bachelor, and his little reception room, of, perhaps,
twelve feet square, was soon festooned with our hammocks.
Here we spread ourselves at ease, as if no such vanities as
Amazon voyages existed, and waited for the turtle that was
undergoing a process in the Senhor's kitchen.
Meanwhile we took the bearings of the Senhor's house,
and as it was much like the other buildings of the town, its
description will answer for all. Its framework was of rough
poles from the forest, and these, within and without, were
plastered with brown clay. The floor was of the same mate-
rial, and the roof was of palm leaves, instead of tiles. From
the outer door, a broad hall crossed the house, and this, being
used as a dining-room, was occupied by a long table, upon
either side of which was a four-legged bench. From the hall,
upon each side, opened a small chamber, one used as the
sleeping apartment of the family, and the other, in which we
were swinging, the Senhor's especial parlor, or bedroom, as the
case might be. In this was a large window, closed entirely
by a shutter. The whole structure, to our ideas, was rather
comfortless ; but, under the equator, that is of small conse-
quence, and sufficient comfort is centred in a hammock, to
atone for its absence in every thing else. Back of the house
144 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
was a covered kitchen, and around this was a yard well
stocked with poultry, and shaded by orange trees.
The dinner came oft' in good style, and turtle in every
variety of preparation, from the soup to the roasted in the
shell, tempted us. It was the first time we had seen the
turtle of the Amazon, and in our enthusiasm, we pronounced
it equal to the very best of varieties seen at the North, nor
wondered, that at civic dinners, aldermen must, perforce, make
gluttons of themselves.
After dinner I strolled into the woods back of the town, and
soon discovered a delightful path, where a coach and four
might have driven.
At no great distance was a burying-ground, marked by a
lofty cross, but as yet, apparently, without a grave. As I
loitered along, picking here and there a flower, or startling the
lizard from his afternoon nap, a number of Indians in their
gala dresses, the women with bright flowers in their hair,
passed, all greeting me with the musical " viva," or u como
Towards evening, the festivities of the day being over, one
after another, the canoes about the galliota pushed off, leaving
the town almost deserted. Some of our men endeavored to
take French leave of us, for which they enjoyed the night in
There were some cattle about Villa Nova, and next
morning, the 25th, was rendered memorable by the acquisition
of a goodly quantity of milk, the first real cow's milk that we
had seen, since New-York milkmen used to disturb our early
dreaming. And even this good milk tasted all the more
natural for a dash of water.
We were very desirous to see the lake that lies about a
mile in the rear of the town, but were prevented by the
weather. In this vicinity, a chain of lakes extends along
the river, upon both shores, and far into the interior. This
lake region is generally high land, and uninfested by carapanas.
Multitudes of Indians are scattered over it, obtaining an easy
subsistence from the vast numbers of Periecu, and other fish,
which frequent the lakes. At this season also, turtle resort
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 145
to the same places, and were beginning to be taken in great
Since leaving Para, our movements had been pretty much
restricted to the galliota, for want of a montaria in which we
might visit the shore at our inclination. At Villa Nova, we
were fortunate enough to purchase one convenient for our pur-
poses, and now anticipated a great increase to our means of
amusement. And yet, our time heretofore had passed most
pleasantly. The skies had favored, and those of us who were
inclined, spent our days upon the cabin top, shielded from the
boards by a comfortable rug, and shaded from the sun, if need
were, by umbrellas. But the sun's heat was rarely inconve-
nient, and tempered by fresh breezes. Coasting close in shore,
there was always matter for amusement; in the morning and
evening, multitudes of birds, and, at all hours, enchanting
forests or beautiful flowers. At night, we preferred the open
air to the confinement of the cabin, and never wearied in ad-
miring the magnificence of the skies, or in tracing the fantastic
shapes that were mapped out upon them in a profusion incon-
ceivable to those who are only acquainted with the skies of
the northern hemisphere. I have alluded to this before; but
so interesting a phenomenon deserves further notice. This
increased brilliance of the tropical skies is owing to the purity
of the atmosphere, which is absolutely free from those obscur-
ing, murky vapors, that deaden light in other latitudes. The
sky itself is of the intensest blue, and the moon seems of in-
creased size and kindlier effulgence. For one star at the
North, myriads look down with a calm, clear light, and great
part of the vault is as inexplicable as the milky-way. Most
beautiful in appearance, and interesting from association, is the
Southern Cross, corresponding with the Great Bear of the
North. This constellation is of four stars, of superior brilliance,
arranged in the form of an oblique angled cross. Just above
these, and seeming to form part of the same constellation, is
the Centaur. Orion is in all his glory, and the Scorpion trails
his length, most easily recognized of all. All the other zodiacal
clusters are conspicuous, and a kindred host we do not care to
146 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
As the sun always set about six o'clock, we had long
evenings, and it was our custom to gather upon the cabin, and
while away the hours in singing all the psalms, and hymns,
and social songs, that memory could suggest. Old Amazon
was never so startled before ; and along his banks, the echoes
of Old Hundred and Lucy Long may be travelling still.
The carapanas had not been so troublesome as we had
feared, and we had often avoided all their intimacies by tying
to some tree removed from shore, or by favor of the fresh
Leave Villa Nova — Our manner of living — Shells — Jaeamars — Paroquets — Monkeys —
Scorpion — Enter an igaripe — A deserted sitio — Wild duck — Scarlet Tanagers — A
deserted sitio — Tobacco — Shells — A colony of monkeys — A turtle's revenge — Im-
mense trees — Albino monkey — A self-caught fish — Porpoises — Curassows and nests —
A turtle feast — Squirrel — Wild Indians — White herons — Shells — Umbrella chatterer
— Cross to the northern shore — Periecu andTambaki — Arrive at Serpa — Sr. Manoel
Jochin — An Indian dance.
The sun of the 26th June was just relighting the water as we
left Villa Nova. Continuing on a few miles, we stopped in the
woods to breakfast. Our friends had loaded us with provisions
offish, fowl, and turtle, and this morning's pic-nic was pecu-
liarly delightful after the Spartan fare of the last fortnight.
And here, perhaps, a description of our doings at these break-
fast hours may not be without interest, to those who care to
know the romance of a voyager's life. Landing at a conve-
nient spot, the first point was to clear a space sufficient for
operations, and this was speedily effected by some of the In-
dians, with their tresados. Others wandered about collecting
materials, wherewith to make a blaze, and there was rarely
difficulty in finding an abundance of such. The flint and steel
were put in requisition, and soon all was ready. Some of the
party cut off strips of fish, washing it to extract the saltness ;
others cut sticks of proper length, into the cleft end of which
they fastened the fish. These were then stuck in the ground,
inclining over the fire, and one of the men was always sta-
tioned near to give it the requisite turning. One of the Indians
was the particular attendant upon the cabin, receiving sundry
perquisites for his services ; and upon him devolved the care
of our tea-kettle. Above the fire, a cross-bar was supported
148 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
by a forked stick at either end, and on this, the boiling was
accomplished in the most civilized style. The coffee bag was
all in waiting, a flannel affair, which, whilom, had done duty
as a shirt sleeve ; and into this was put about two tea-cups of
coffee. The boiling water was poured in, and our wash-bowl,
washed, received the beverage, fragrant and strong. A quart
was the allowance for each, and this, properly attempered by
sugar, and unspoiled by milk, was our greatest luxury. As to
the more substantial moiety of breakfast, the fish, rank and
tough, we stood not upon ceremony, but pulling it in pieces
with our fingers, and slightly dipping it in a nicely prepared
mixture of oil and vinegar, we thereafter received it as became
At times, our fare was varied by the articles obtained at
some sitio, but this was the general rule. Two of us had left
the North dyspeptics. Sufficient was cooked in the morning
to serve us through the day, and therefore we usually made
but one stoppage.
About the roots of the trees at this place, we found a beau-
tiful variety of shell, the Bulimus papyracea, in considerable
numbers, and here also we obtained a richly plumaged Jacamar,
the Galbula viridis. This species we afterwards frequently
encountered both in the forest and about plantations. There
was one other species common at Para, but less beautiful, the
G. paradisea. These birds resembled the humming birds so
much in shape, that the people of the country, universally call
them " beijar flor grande," or the great kiss-flower. Their
lustrous plumage assists the deception. They live upon insects,
which they are very expert at catching, with their long, slen-
During the morning, we tested the capabilities of our new
montaria, and starting in advance of the galliota, found fine
sporting, principally among the paroquets and herons. The
former family of birds had not been very plentiful since leaving
Gurupa, near which place they had collected in vast flocks,
from a large extent of country, for the breeding season. But
now again, we were in the vicinity of some other haunt, and
they were scarcely ever out of sight, or hearing. Their notes
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 149
were not extremely agreeable, being little more than a shrill
chatter, but for beauty of appearance, and motion, when clus-
tered around some tree top. busily engaged in stripping off the
berries, they were great favorites with us. There is no enu-
merating the different varieties we observed, some little larger
than canaries, others approximating in size to their cousins, the
parrots. In general, their plumage was green, but they differ-
ed in their markings, the green being beautified by various
shades of yellow, of blue; and of pink, or roseate.
Our advance was not very great, for the wind did not favor
us, and all day we were coasting about the greater part of a
circle, with the situation of Villa Nova scarcely ever out of
sight. We observed very few houses ; the land was low, and
palms again were numerous. Frequently, turning some
point, we came upon little squads of monkeys, who scampered
in terrible alarm, at the first glimpse of us. Excepting on these
sudden surprisals, it always was exceedingly difficult to catch
a sight of these animals. Even when one is positive that some
of them are in his immediate vicinity, none but the keen and
practised eyes of an Indian can discover their retreat. For any
other than an Indian, therefore, to venture upon a monkey hunt
is almost useless, and they only succeed by stripping off their
clothes, and creeping cat-like among the bushes, or patiently
waiting their opportunity in some concealment.
From a passing montaria, we purchased a fish weighing
about fifteen pounds, for four vintens, or four cents. We had
noticed that most of the fish that we had seen had broad, flat
heads, and corresponding mouths ; and this specimen showed
us the utility of such a shovel-like apparatus; for, in his stom-
ach, were at least a quart of crabs, as good as new, which he
had gathered from the bottom of the river. When the refuse
parts of this fish were thrown into the water near shore, they
attracted great numbers of a small white fish, which strongly
resembled eels in their habits, burying themselves in the mud
at any attempt made to catch them. We succeeded in obtain-
ing as many as we wanted of these, at another time, by letting
down a basket in which was a bait of meat. Upon pulling this
out half a dozen of these fish were always inside. The Indi-
150 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
ans would not eat them, but pronounced them "devils" of
While clearing out one of the lockers this afternoon, we
started a brood of scorpions, a kind of reptile more formidable
in ancient story that in modern reality. Still, I should prefer
not to be stung by one of them. We saw them frequently in
different parts of the country, and occasionally, several inches
in length. They abound in all canoes and vessels, and once,
as I opened a letter, brought from Para in one of these craft, a
nice little specimen dropped from the folds.
Soon after dark, a tremendous storm of wind and rain set
in, which twice broke us from our moorings, and deluged the
cabin. Rain had no sooner ceased, than swarms of carapanas
hurried to our attack, and for the remainder of the night, sleep
was out of the question.
The river, upon the morning of the 27th, made a wide
bend to the northward, around an immense island ; and to
shorten the distance, we took the smaller channel, which, in
narrowness, resembled an igaripe. Here, we again heard the
Guaribas, who almost deafened us by their howling.
Towards night, we stopped a few moments at a deserted
plantation. The house was in ruins; but the fruit trees, and
the garden, were still productive. In a trice, the whole were
stripped, as though a party of licensed foragers had chanced
that way ; and plantains, squashes, sugar-cane, and peppers,
were handed into our boat.
Proceeding, we passed a clump of grass, where a duck
was setting upon her nest. Starting off", she fluttered along
the water, as if badly wounded, and some one sprung to follow
her in the montaria ; but, before that could be got ready, she
had fluttered beyond harm's reach, and then had vigorously
flown out of sight.
During the day, we had seen a number of birds new to us ;
but most attractive of all, was a Scarlet Tanager, the Rham-
phopis nigri gularis (Swain), or Black-masked, whose bril-
liant metallic scarlet and black livery, was like a jewel in the
sunlight. We had seen nothing comparable to it upon the
river. These birds were always seen about low bushes, by
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 151
the water-side, catching their favorite insects, and uttering a
slight note, or whistle, but no song.
The morning of the 28th, found us still in the igaripe,
which had become extremely narrow. The shore, upon one
side, was two feet above the water; upon the other, it was
overflowed. This contrast is observable upon the main stream,
and between almost all the islands; high banks being generally
opposed by low swamps.
By ten o'clock, we had re-entered the river ; and stopped
at a sitio, directly upon the point of the island, to prepare our
breakfast. This plantation evidently belonged to a more in-
dustrious planter, than was usual. There was a fine orchard of
young cacao trees, and a large field of tobacco, nicely cleared
of weeds. The tobacco, grown in this district, is of superior
quality, and vastly preferred to any American tobacco im-
ported. When put up for use, it is in long, slender rolls,
wound about with rattan, and is cut off by the foot. Some-
times, these rolls are ornamented by the Indians, with feathers.
All persons, men and women, use tobacco in smoking; and,
for this purpose, have pipes of clay, the stems of which are
ornamented reeds, three or four feet in length. In the towns,
very good cigars are made. We never observed the practice
of chewing the weed, among our Indians; but they were
always furnished by us with as regular rations of tobacco, as
of casha9a. When pipes were wanting, they made cigarillos
of the fine tobacco, wrapped in a paper-like bark, called
toware ; and one of these was passed around the deck, each
person, even to the little boys, taking two or three puffs in
his turn, with which he was content for an hour or two, when
the process was repeated.
Wandering about this plantation, we discovered a number
of shells of three species ; two of which were Helices, and
hitherto undescribed. The third was the Achatina octona
(Des), and observed at Para.
The Senhor had a large quantity of fish to sell, and we
bartered cloth for enough to last us the remainder of our
journey. To show the obstructions to profitable labor, the
prices received by this man, is a good illustration. Fish, at
152 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
Villa Nova, was worth two milrees and a half, an arroba ; and
tobacco, being just then scarce, much more. But, although
he might have reached Villa Nova in a few hours, yet the
return passage was so difficult, that he preferred to receive
one milree an arroba for each, and that in barter. In the
same way, we bought of him, for about forty cents, a turtle,
weighing, at least, one hundred and twenty-five pounds,
which he had lanced the day before. There was a Red and
Yellow Macaw, Macrocercus Aracanga, in singularly fine
plumage, climbing about the trees by the house; and we
longed to possess him, but our boat was too crowded.
Leaving this place, we coasted along the northern bank,
and for a long time were passing high cliffs of red clay ; some-
times perpendicular and overhanging the water, at others,
running far back among the trees, and presenting a beautiful
contrast of colors. These banks might well be mistaken for
stone, were it not for the tell-tale kingfishers.
Suddenly we came upon a colony of large, bushy-tailed
Monkeys, who, to the number of, perhaps, a hundred were
gamboling about the tops of a few tall trees. The first glimpse
of us, put an end to their sport, and away they scampered,
helter-skelter, old ones snatching up young ones, and young and
old possessed with but one idea. Those who could, made pro-
digious leaps into the trees below, catching the branches with
their long tails, and swinging out, plunged yet again, and were
lost to view. Others scrambled down the trunks, or concealed
themselves in forks and crevices ; and in far less time than I
have taken to describe the scene, not a monkey was visible.
We passed on ; some bold veteran ventured a whistle, another
and another returned it, and shortly, we could see the tree tops
bending, and hear the rustling of the leaves, as the .whole
troop hastened back to their unfinished games.
ToAvards evening, the wind freshening, we crossed the
channel, and now understood ourselves to be upon the shore of
the great Island of Tupirambira, the Tupinamba of early
voyagers, which, formed by the outlets of the River Madeira,
stretches along many leagues.
During the night, we were awakened by a groaning among
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 153
the men. One of them had gone down to bale out the hold,
and having to do so by the side of the turtle, had thought it
would be as well to ascertain upon which end was the animal's
head. The first feel was both satisfactory and unfortunate ; for
turtle, not comprehending the intentions of these inquisitive
fingers, seized a thumb in his mouth, and squeezed it, rather
gently for a turtle, but still, forcibly enough to hint his dis-
pleasure. Had he been one of the denizens of our Yankee
ponds, the victimized boy would have had a serious search for
his old member j as it was, he was disabled, and we thereafter
promoted him to the helm.
Not finding a sitio, we stopped upon the 29th, in a forest of
magnificent growth, where the open space allowed a free
ramble. The bank was three feet above the water, and the
fronting trees and shrubs were densely overrun by a vine, pro-
ducing a profusion of small white flowers, much resembling
the Clematis. Many of the trees here, were of enormous
size, and had we measured the girt near the ground, would
have given us from forty to fifty feet. This seems wonderful,
but the explanation is simple. Ten or fifteen feet above the
ground, these trunks are round, and not often more than four
or five feet in diameter ; but, at about that elevation, set out
thin supports diverging in every direction, presenting the ap-
pearance of a column, supported by a circle of triangles around
its base. Of all these trees, the most conspicuous for beauty,
was the mulatto tree, mentioned before, and which grew here
To-day we obtained a specimenof the Least Bittern, Ardea
exilis, and saw a number of Crested Curassows, or Mutuns, as
they are called, but were unable to shoot them. We saw, also,
many iguanas, who, at our approach, would drop into the
water, from the branches upon which they were feeding. But
a greater oddity, was a small monkey, white as snow, and un-
doubtedly an albino. We drew up to the shore, and endea-
vored to find his hiding place, but unsuccessfully.
Upon the flowers, this day, we observed great swarms of
butterflies, of every size and color. A large one of a rich green,
154 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
was new to us, and most curious, but the brilliant blue ones,
seen so often near Para, still bore the palm for splendor.
Towards evening, a piece of floating grass passed by us,
upon which laid the remains of a fish, about five feet in length.
He had thrown himself from the water, and there had died. A
great variety of the river fish have this habit of leaping above
the surface, and not unfrequently, fall into a passsing montaria.
Our Indians alleged this as a reason for not sleeping in the
montaria, which would have accommodated two or three of
them with far more comfort than the galliota, where, part of
them slept, slung across the tolda like so many sacks, and the
rest, along their narrow seats, as they could find room.
Upon the morning of the 30th, we were called out to ob-
serve a school of porpoises, that were blowing and leaping
all around us. This fish resembles much the sea-porpoise in
its motions, and is common from Para up. Its color is pinkish,
upon the belly, and a number of them gamboling about is an
exceedingly beautiful sight. They are not eaten, and are val-
uable only for their oil.
A party went out in the montaria, and returned with a pair
of White Herons, A. alba, and in the tree tops, in the vicinity,
were a large number of these birds, evidently just commencing
As we drew up by the bank for breakfast, a Crested Curas-
sow, or Mutun, Crax alector, flew from the top of a low tree
near us, and one of the Indians darted up for her nest. There
were two eggs, and tying them in his handkerchief, he brought
them down in his teeth. These eggs were much larger than
a turkey's egg, white, and granulated all over. The Crested
Curassow is a bird about the size of a small turkey. Its gen-
eral plumage is black, the belly only being white, and upon its
head, is a crest of curled feathers. This species has a yellow
bill. It is called the Royal Mutun by the Brazilians, and, in the
vicinity of the River Negro, is not uncommon. With several
other varieties of its family, it is frequently seen domesticated,
and is a graceful and singularly familiar bird in its habits.
According to some authors, this bird lays numerous eggs, but
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 155
each of the three nests which we found, during this day, con-
tained but two, and the Taucha assured us that this was the
complement. The nest was, in every case, about fifteen feet
above the ground, and was composed of good-sized sticks, lined
with leaves and small pieces of bark.
We determined on the immolation of our monster turtle,
and all hands, kettles, and pots were in requisition. About a
peck of eggs were taken from her, and reserving these, with
the hind quarters, and the parts attached to the lower half of
the shell, we turned the remainder over to the Indians, who
very soon had every part, even to the entrails, stewing in their
earthen vessels. The eggs, mixed with farinha, were very de-
licious, but in my case, at least, they caused an awful reckon-
ing, and for a long time, I could scarcely think of turtle with-
out a shiver.
Soon after starting, we found two other Mutuns' nests, and
as the boy climbed to the last, there was a crash and a fall, and
we thought his Indian skill had, for once, deserted him. But
the commotion was caused by a pair of iguanas, who, from a
good height, had precipitated themselves into the water. The
rascals, no doubt, had been calculating on an omelette break-
fast. This afternoon, we shot a gray hawk, and on picking him
up, we found a large red squirrel, of a species new to us, by his
side, upon which he had but just commenced dining. This
squirrel had legs and tail greatly disproportioned to his body,
and we concluded with an acute theorist, that his ancestry
had lived so long among the monkeys, as to have become
Upon the morning of July 1st, we stopped at a sitio, where
was an extensive plantation of mandioca, and another of ca-
cao, and in the vicinity we shot a number of Jacamars and Ta-
nagers, as well as a squirrel of large size and better propor-
tions than our acquisition of the day before.
Near this place was a sideless shantee, where a party of
wild Indians had squatted. There was an old crone, two young
girls, and a boy of sixteen, all looking miserably enough. The
only articles they seemed to possess, were a couple of ham-
mocks, and a large fish roasting on some coals told how they
156 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
subsisted. These Indians were of the Muras, the same as our
Taucha, and he went over to have a talk with them. Gipsy-
like, they often come out in this way, and remain, until some
depredation obliges them to decamp. This tribe, in particular,
are arrant thieves, and semi-civilization did not seem to have
eradicated much of the propensity in those of our party, for sev-
eral times, we had missed little articles, as knives, which, we
had no doubt, were carefully preserved in some of the trunks
in the tolda.
All day, the shore continued low, but just above the pres-
ent height of the river, and a few weeks before, evidently'they
had been entirely flooded. Of course, there were but few
Just at night, we came upon an immense flock of herons,
roosting in the trees upon a small island. A went towards
them with the montaria, and brought down enough of them for
the morrow's breakfast. The survivors flew round and round
in puzzled confusion, then wheeled towards another island,
where darkness prevented his following them.
Stopped in the woods, upon the 2d, and upon the roots of
the large trees, we collected a number of shells, the Bulimus
piperitus (Sowerby), entirely new to us. There were also
many shells, three varieties common throughout the river re-
gion, Ampullaria crassa (Swain) ; Ampullaria scalaris (D'Or-
bigny), and Ampullaria zonata (Wagner), and usually found
just above high-water mark. They crawl up there adventu-
rously and are left by the retiring flood. Occasionally, in these
forests, we discovered dead shells of the Achatina flaminea.
Here we saw a pair of the Umbrella Chatterers. Cephalopeterus
ornatus, among the rarest and most curious of Brazilian birds.
They were sitting near together, upon the lower branches of a
large tree, and a shot brought down the female. Unfortunate-
ly, the gun had been loaded but in one barrel, and before am-
munition could be obtained from the boat, the male, who lin-
gered about for some moments, had disappeared. We after-
wards obtained a fine male upon the Rio Negro. These birds
are of the size of small crows, and the color of their plumage
is a glossy blue-black. Upon the head, is a tall crest of slen-
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 157
der feathers, whence it derives its name, and upon the breast,
of both male and female, is a pendant of feathers, hanging to
the length of three inches. They are, like all the Chatterers,
fruit eaters. They are pretty common upon an island a few
days' sail above the Barra of the Rio Negro, but they are not
found any where in that region in such flocks as others of the
Chatterer family. The Indian name for these birds is Urumu-
imbu, and the Taucha informed us, that they built in trees, and
laid white eggs.
During the day, we crossed from one island to another, and
at last, were again upon the northern side.
Early the next morning, the 3rd, we were overtaken by a
small canoe pulled by eight men, and some of our party were
delighted to discover in the proprietor an old acquaintance.
After mutual compliments and inquiries, the canoe shot past,
and we soon lost sight of her. While we were looking out for
a place whereon to build our customary fire, the smoke of some
encampment ahead caught our eyes, and directing our course
thither, we found our friend of daybreak, nicely settled upon a
little clearing which he had made, under the cacao trees of a
deserted plantation. He politely made room for us, and sent us
coffee from his own boat.
Not long after noon, we stopped at a house, where a num-
ber of Indians were collected about a Periecu, which they had
just caught. This was the fish whose dried slabs had been our
main diet for the last few weeks, and we embraced the oppor-
tunity to take a good look at so useful a species. He was about
six feet long, with a large head and wide mouth, and his thick
scales, large as dollars, were beautifully shaded with flesh color.
These fish often attain greater size, and, at certain seasons, are
very abundant, especially in the lakes. They are taken with
lances, cut into slabs of half an inch thickness, and dried in the
sun, after being properly salted. It is as great a blessing to
the Province of Para, as cod or herring to other countries,
constituting the main diet of three-fourths of the people. We
bought, for eight cents, half this fish, and for six more, a Tam-
baki, weighing about ten pounds. This is considered the finest
158 A VOYAGE UP THE RITEE AMAZON.
fish in this part of the river, and resembles, in shape, the Black
Fish of the North.
Not far above this sitio, was the village of Serpa, and a turn
of the river presented it to us in all the glory of half a dozen
thatched houses. So aristocratic an establishment as our gal-
liota was not to come up without causing a proper excitement,
and, one after another, the leisurely villagers made their ap-
pearance upon the hill, until a respectable crowd stood waiting
to usher us. Hardly had we touched the shore, when a depu-
tation boarded us for the news, and we were forced to spend
half an hour in detailing the city values of cacao, and fish, and
tobacco, and the hundred other articles of traffic. Indeed, this
had been our catechism ever since we entered the river, and
as we were profoundly ignorant of ''he state of the Para mar-
ket, we had been obliged to invent a list of prices for the gen-
The bank, upon which the village stands, rises abruptly
about fifty feet above high water mark, but fortunately, in one
point, a broad, natural gully allows easier ascent, and, up this,
we made our way. Our principal business in stopping here,
was to obtain men, if possible, part of ours being lazy, and
part disabled from one cause or another. Moreover, the river
current above Serpa flows with a vastly accelerated swiftness,,
rendering more men almost indispensable. We directed our
way to the house of Senhor Manoel Jochin, the most influen-
tial man of the village, although not a public officer. Nor had
we far to go, for Serpa has been shorn of its glory, and dilapi-
dation and decay meet one at every turn. The Senhor was
sitting at his door, in earnest conversation with the Colonel
and the Juiz de Paz, and received us not cavalierly, but as
became a cavalier. For Senhor Manoel had been a soldier in
his day, and, although on the shady side of sixty, still looked
a noble representative of those hardy old Brazilians who have
spent their lives on the frontiers. We had heard of him be-
low, as the captor of Edoardo, one of the rebel Presidents of
the Revolution, and looked upon him with interest. For this
exploit he had been offered a high commission in the army,
but he preferred living in retirement here.
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 159
In the evening, we sat down to turtle and tambaki with
the dignitaries before mentioned, and as our style of supper
varied somewhat from our former experience, I trust I shall be
excused for entering a little more into particulars. By the
side of each plate, was a pile of farinha upon the table, and in
the centre, stood a large bowl of caldo, or gravy. Upon sit-
ting down, each one, in turn, took up a handful of his farinha,
and dropped it into the bowl. This, afterwards, was the gen-
eral store, from which each helped himself with his own spoon,
as he listed. Water was not absolutely interdicted, but it was
looked upon with scarcely concealed disapprobation, and its
absence was compensated by casha9a. There was no limit
to hob-nobbing and toasting, and our jolly Colonel at last con-
cluded with a stentorian song.
The Senhor had been a frequent voyager upon the Madeira,
and gave us interesting accounts of his adventures upon that
river. What was quite as agreeable, however, was a collec-
tion of shells which he had picked up along its shores, and of
which he begged our acceptance. One of these was a re-
markably large one of the Ampullaria canaliculata (Lam.),
which was used as a family cashaga goblet. The others
were Hyria avicularis, and Anadonta esula. The valves of
the Anadontas had been used as skimmers, in the Senhor's
We were told that there was to be a dance, to which our
company would be acceptable, particularly if we brought
along a few bottles of cashaga. Now an Indian dance was a
novelty, and the insinuating invitation worked its effect. Taking
each a quart bottle under his arm, we strolled to the scene of
action, and were politely ushered into one of the larger houses,
where a crowd of men and girls had collected. The room
was illuminated by burning wicks of cotton, which were
twisted about small sticks, and set into pots of andiroba oil.
Around the walls, were benches, upon which sat a score of
Indian girls, dressed in white, with the ever accompanying
flowers, and vanilla perfume. The men were standing about,
in groups, awaiting the commencement of the exercises, and
dressed in shirts and trousers. One, distinguished beyond the
160 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
rest by a pair of shoes, and a colored handkerchief over his
shoulders, was the major domo, and kindly relieved us of our
bottles, allowing us to stand ourselves among the others, as
we might. A one-sticked drum soon opened the ball, assisted
by a wire-stringed guitar, and for a little time, they divinised
on their own account, until they were pronounced safe for the
evening. Two gentlemen then stepped up to their selected
partners, and gracefully intimated a desire for their assistance,
which was favorably responded to. The partners stood oppo-
site each other, and carelessly shuffled their feet, each keeping
slow time, by the snapping of their fingers. The man ad-
vanced, then retreated, now moved to one side, and then to the
other. Now approaching close to the fair one, he made a low
bow, looking all sorts of expressions, as though he was acting
a love pantomime ; to which his partner responded by vio-
lently snapping her fingers, and shuffling away as for dear
life. Away goes the lover two or three yards to the right,
profoundly bowing ; then as far to the left, and another bow.
Getting visibly excited, up again he advances, going through
spasmodic operations to get louder snaps from his fingers.
The fair inamorata is evidently rising. Around she whirls
two or three times; he spins in the opposite direction, and just
as he is getting up an attitude of advance, out steps another
lady, taking his partner's place. This is paralyzing, but the
lover is too polite not to do a little for civility, when some gen-
tleman steps belbre him, taking the burden from his feet, and
leaving him to follow his partner to the well earned seat, where
he solaces his feelings by a long pull at the bottle, and then
passes it to the lady, who requires sympathy similar in degree
and quantity. The dancing continued, with no variation of
time or figure, until the cashaqa gave out, which was the
signal for a breaking up, all who could preserve their equili-
brium, escorting their equally fortunate partners, and those
who could not, remaining until a little sleep restored their
Fourth of July at Serpa — Lake Saraca — An accession — Pic-nic — An opossum — Narrow
passage — Swallow-tailed hawks — Sitio of the Delegarde — River Madeira — Village of
our Taugha — Appearance of his party on arriving at home — The old rascal — Bell-
bird — Stop at a sitio, and reception — Orioles — A cattle sitio — Swift current — Enter
the Rio Negro — Arrive at Barra.
An unclouded sky was awaiting the sun of the 4th, as we
strolled along the river bank, at Serpa, recalling the cluster-
ing associations connected with the day, and thinking of the
present occupations of friends, at home. It was a magnificent
place for fire-works and tar barrels, and that beautiful island
opposite, was the very spot for a pic-nic. We had quite a
mind to have a celebration on our own account, for the pur-
pose of demonstrating to the benighted Amazonians how glo-
rious a thing it is to call one's self free and independent; but,
alas ! our powder was precious, and barrels of tar not to be had
for love or money. The sun peeped over the tree tops, flood-
ing in beauty the wild forest, and gilding ihe waters that
rushed and foamed like maddened steeds. The birds were
making the air vocal with a hundred different notes, and fishes
were constantly bouncing above the water in glee. And was
it a fancy, that one red-coated fellow, as he tossed himself up,
greeted us with a "viva" to the Independence of America?
Serpa was a pretty place, after all ; and our impressions of
the night before, had been formed after a long day and a
scorching sun. And the people of Serpa were a happy people,
and we almost wished that our names were in their parish
register. The river teemed with the best of fish, and half an
hour's pleasure would supply the wants of a week. Farinha
grew almost spontaneously, and fruits quite so. The people
162 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
bartered with passing boats for whatever else they might re-
quire, and lived their lives out like a summer's day, knowing
nothing of the care and trouble so busy in the world around
them, and happy as language could express. With an income
of one hundred dollars, a man would be a nabob in Serpa, as
rich as with a hundred thousand elsewhere.
Not far back of the village, is a large lake, the Saraca, and
at one of the outlets of this, Mr. McCulloch had, a few years
since, made arrangements for a saw-mill. But after several
months' labor, when the timbers were all ready to be put to-
gether, he was ordered by the authorities at Para to desist,
upon some frivolous pretext." From here, he removed to
SenhorManoel had been on the point of leaving for Barra,
as we arrived, and he concluded to go with us, putting two of
his men upon the galliota. Besides these, we had been unable
to find any others. The Colonel and Juiz were also to go in
their own canoes, keeping us company. These gentlemen
were all going up to Barra to attend a jury, one of the inflic-
tions of civilization in Brazil, as elsewhere. But, although a
week's voyaging among the carapanas is no sport, they did not
grumble half so much at the obligation, as many a man, at
home, for the loss of his afternoon by similar necessity.
Leaving Serpa, about seven o'clock, we continued on an
hour, until we arrived at a spot, whither the Senhors had pre-
ceded us, and made ready breakfast. We were to have a pic-
nic after all. Each canoe had brought store of good things,
and we circled around a little knoll under the trees, to the
enjoyment of a greater variety than we had seen for the last
At this place, we shot an Opossum, of a smaller variety
than that of the States. It emitted a very disagreeable odor,
and even our Indians expressed their disgust at the idea of
eating it. I intended to have preserved it, and laid it in the
montaria for that purpose, but soon after, it was missing, some
one having thrown it into the stream.
Nearly all day, our course was through a passage, of not
more than fifty yards width, between the northern shore and
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 163
an island. At low water, this channel was entirely dry. In
one part of our way, a large flock of Swallow-tailed Hawks,
Falco furcatus, a variety found also in the Southern States,
circled about us in graceful motion, like so many swallows.
We brought down one, a fine specimen, greatly to our delight ;
for although we had frequently seen them before, we never had
been able to reach them, on account of their lofty flight.
It was nearly midnight when we reached the sitio of the
Delegarde of Serpa, directly opposite the mouth of the river
Madeira. The Colonel had arrived before us, and we found
prepared a substantial supper. The Delegarde of Serpa, has
not a very lucrative office, and matters about, the house looked
rather poverty-stricken ; but we cared little for that, on our
own account, and slinging our hammocks under an open
cacao-shed, slept as well as the carapanas would allow.
The river Madeira is the greatest tributary of the Ama-
zon; having a length of more than two thousand miles. Rising
far down among the mountains of Southern Bolivia, it drains
a vast extent of country, receiving constant accessions. Its
current is not swift, and its waters are comparatively clear.
When the Amazon is lowest, in the month of December, the
Madeira is at its height; and at that season, very many fallen
trees are floated down. Much of the country, about its mouth,
is low and uninhabitable ; and at certain seasons, the whole
region, below the falls, is visited by intermittent fevers. This
scourge to man, is a blessing to the turtles, who congregate
upon the upper islands, and deposit their eggs, without mo-
lestation. The first falls are at the distance of two months'
journey from Serpa ; and, thereafter, a succession of similar
falls and rapids obstructs the navigation for a long distance.
Yet canoes of considerable burden, ascend the river passing
these falls by aid of the Indians, who are settled about these
places in large numbers. By the upper branches of the Ma-
deira, easy communication is had with the head-waters of the
La Plata ; and in the earlier days of Brazilian settlement, the
enterprising colonists had discovered and taken advantage of
this connection. To the interior province of Matto Grosso,
communication is had by the Tocantins, Tapajos, and Ma-
164 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
deira, from Para. The latter river is preferred, on account
of the fewer obstructions, although the distance is greatly in-
creased. Not unfrequently, one of these canoes arrives at the
city, loaded with the products of Matto Grosso, among which
gold is one of the principal. The Indians, accompanying such
craft, are of a very different race from those usually seen ; and
in strange dresses, wander about the streets, staring at every
There are but few settlements upon the lower waters of the
Madeira. The chief of them is Borda, upon the southern
bank, two days' voyage from Serpa. The country is rich in
woods, cacao, salsa, and gums. A greater obstruction to its
settlement than unhealthiness, was the obstinate ferocity of the
Indian tribes upon the river banks, especially the Muras and
Mundrucus. But both these have yielded in some degree to
the effects of civilization, and the latter are now considered
one of the most friendly races in the province.
Resuming our journey before daybreak of the 5th, we ar-
rived, about seven o'clock, at the most orderly looking sitio
which we had yet seen. There were a number of slaves, and
the fields of mandioca and tobacco were as neat as gardens.
The houses were well built, and arranged in the form of a
quadrangle ; and, being upon a lofty bank, commanded a
beautiful view of the river, and the remote shore. A grove
of orange trees hung loaded with fruit, and we readily ob-
tained permission to fill our lockers. The orange season was
just commencing, and thereafter we found them every where
Here also we obtained a shell new to us, the Achatina
Three miles above this place, was the village of our
Taucha, and as himself and his party had been absent several
months, we observed their demeanor with some curiosity, as
we drew near their home. The old man looked sharply, as
though he would see if any changes had occurred in his do-
main ; the boys scarcely looked at all, and seemed as apathetic
as blocks ; but the princess was all smiles, pointing out to her
children this and that object, or her recognized friends upon
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 165
the bank. The village did not present a very distinguished
appearance, although upon a singularly fine site ; the bank
being fifty feet above the water, and fronted by a small island,
at the distance of a mile. As we touched the shore, a number
of women and children were looking on from above, as though
we were perfect strangers ; only two of the little girls coming
down to meet their brothers and cousins. With the same in-
difference, the boys, as they met their mothers and sisters,
scarcely exchanged a salutation. To give them all the credit
they deserved, however, their first steps were to the rude
chapel, where, before the altar, on bended knees, they thanked
our Lady for their safe return. There was one poor boy, the
best of the band, who had been sick with jaundice during the
whole passage. The others had been perfectly indifferent to
him, not caring whether he lived or died ; but we had done
every thing for his comfort that circumstances would allow,
and in return, although he could not speak a word of Por-
tuguese, he had testified his gratitnde in a hundred little in-
stances. He lingered about us a long time, as if loth to part ;
and when, at last, he went upon the hill, where the others were
collected together, detailing the wonders of their travels, he
slunk away, unnoticed by any ; nor did we see the least re-
cognition of him while we remained.
When Lieutenant Mawe descended this river, in 1831, these
people had just been gathered out of the woods by an old
Padre who had converted them, and taught them something
of civilization. Mr. Mawe particularly observes, that they
would drink no cashaca, nor exchange fish for that article.
But the old Padre had gone ; the houses, far better framed
than usual, were almost all in ruins ; and there did not seem
to be a dozen adults in the place. A large piece of ground
had, at one time, been cultivated, but now, the grass and
bushes had overgrown the whole ; and excepting where a few
squash vines had found a home upon the side-hill, not a trace
of agriculture remained. With this outward decay, the Pa-
dre's instructions had gone likewise, and these Muras were
noted as arrant thieves, and lazy vagabonds. The little civi-
166 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
lization once acquired, had left behind just enough of its dregs,
to make them worse than their brethren of the woods.
We wandered some hours in the vicinity, shell hunting and
sporting, with very little success j but the exercise was delight-
ful, for long confinement in the galliota had stiffened our joints,
and well nigh put us upon the sick list.
Senhor Manoel Jochin waited until afternoon for the return
of some men, who were said to be absent upon a fishing expe-
dition ; but, at last he left, after making the Taucha promise to
forward us with our fall complement, when the absentees re-
turned. The Senhor, very kindly, left with us his two men,
whom we had employed since leaving Serpa. No sooner was
he gone, than the fishermen appeared from the woods, where
they had been skulking ; and now, the Taugha, having received
payment, refused to do any thing further. There was no help ;
we could only threaten Doctor Costa's vengeance, and, there-
fore, prepared to depart as speedily as possible.
The price to be paid this party of six, had been stipulated
by Doctor Costa, before their descent. Their wages had been
given them in money at Para, and for the forty-five days, dur-
ing which they had been in our employ, each received three
shirts of factory cotton, three pairs of pantaloons of blue drill-
ing, and two balls of thread. In addition, the Taugha was to
receive at Barra, two whole pieces of drilling ; but this, of
course, he forfeited by not fulfilling his engagement.
We had still seven men besides the pilot, although we had
left eight persons at the village, and were, after all, not so badly
off as we might have been.
Bidding; adieu to the Muras with uncourteous blessings, we
coasted for some hours under the same lofty bank, passing a
number of fine sitios. The current was often so swift that the
utmost exertions of the men were unable to propel the boat,
and they showed great glee at the alacrity with which the
Senhors sprang to the paddles for their relief.
During the night, we fancied we heard the far-famed Bell-
bird. The note was that of a muffled tea-bell, and several of
these ringers were performing, at the same time ; some, with
one gentle tinkle, others, with a ring of several notes. I asked
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER. AMAZON. 167
the pilot, what was " gritando ;" he replied, " a toad." I had
no idea of having my musician thus calumniated, and remon-
strated thereupon; but he cut me short with, "it must be a
toad, every thing that sings at night is a toad." From ac-
counts of travellers, we had been expecting, ever since we had
entered the Amazon, to have been nightly lulled to sleep by
the song of this mysterious bird ; and we used, at first, to strain
our perceptions to the recognition of something that was bell-
like, now, starting at the hooting ding-dong of an owl. and now
at the slightest twitter of a tree-toad. But it was all in vain ;
the illusion would not last, and unless, when heart-saddened,
his note, which is usually compared to the " pounding of a
hammer upon an anvil," comes within the compass of a little
bell of silver, we never heard the Bell-bird.
During the whole of the 6th, we were passing through a
narrow passage, under a melting sun. and unenlivened by a
single bird, or other enticement. An Amazonian sun can be
fierce, and upon such days, the birds fly panting into the thick-
ets, and trees and flowers look sorrowfully after them, as though
they would gladly follow. The river bank was often high, and
occasionally we saw a real rock — no clay fiction.
The carapanas gave, us no rest during the night, and early
upon the 7th we were advancing, hoping to arrive at a sitio by
Daybreak found us emerging from our narrow passage, and
we saw but a short distance ahead the embarcagoen, in which
most of Bradley's goods had been shipped, and which had left
the city, a few days before ourselves. The men pulled lustily
to overtake her, for we were out of cashaca, and now should
be able to obtain a supply.
It Avas ten o'clock before we came in sight of the sitio, situ-
ated upon a high, projecting bluff. The embarcacoen was
anchored in a little bay upon the upper side. We drew up in
a convenient spot below, and walked in procession to the house.
The reception chamber in this case, was a raised platform,
about two feet high, covered with slats, upon which mats were
spread, and over which two hammocks were hanging. We
found the Senhor and his lady, with the Captain just arrived
163 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
engaged with their coffee, and the invitation to us was not
" entra." but " sobre," that, is, "mount." This direction we
accurately followed, and squatted ourselves, Turkish fashion,
upon the mats. Coffee was presented us, and after our now
tasteless galliota preparation, was a luxury.
This house was large enough, and had its proprietor thought
fit to limit the circulation of air, by an outer wall or two. or to
fetter the grass upon the floor by tiles, would have been one of
the finest houses upon the river. But such innovations, proba-
bly, never occurred to him. Under the same roof, and within
six feet from the platform, was a furnace and anvil, at which,
a black Cyclops was officiating, with an earnestness that made
our ears a burden, and that puzzled us to comprehend how the
good couple could endure their hammocks.
A number of pretty children were playing about, and one
of them speedily formed an intimacy with A . She brought
him acuya of eggs, and seemed happy as a lark, with some tri-
fling present which he made her in return. How often had we
wished for some of these pretty toys or books, which children
at home value so lightly, but which those upon the Amazon
would regard as priceless treasures. Upon leaving, the Sen-
hora sent down half a dozen fowls, and some vegetables for
The proprietor of this establishment was counted one of
the wealthiest men upon the river, and we saw numerous slaves,
and large fields of tobacco and mandioca. In front of the
house, an Indian, and his boy, were weaving a grass hammock,
twisting the cord from the raw material as they required it, a
few yards at a time.
Soon after starting, we passed the embarcacoen, obtaining
our indispensable. This vessel had large schooner sails, but
as wind did not always favor, eight men stood upon her deck,
with long sweeps, made by fastening the blades of paddles upon
the ends of poles, and pulled her onward. Besides these, two
men were in the montaria with a rope, tying and pulling, as be-
fore described. In this manner, she advanced nearly as rap-
idly, or rather, as slowly, as ourselves.
We had been disappointed in our expectation of obtaining
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 169
some additional men at this sitio. The riddance of the Tauc;ha's
party was an inconceivable relief; for the men, having no bad
example constantly before them, required no urging, but pulled
steadily and contentedly from four in the morning until eight
at night, frequently cheering their labor by songs. Many of
their songs are Portuguese, and the airs are very sweet ; but
the real Indian is usually unburdened with words, and is little
more than a loud, shrill scream, with something of measure ;
a sort of link between the howl of the performer at the Chi-
nese Museum, and a civilized tone. We never could catch
these wild tunes, but they were as natural to every Indian, as
his bow and arrow.
We saw a number of beautifully marked Orioles, in orange
and black livery, Icterus guttulatus (Lafresnaye), as well as
another variety, which we afterwards found to be extremely
abundant upon Marajo, Icterus jububa ; and the notes of a new
variety of Toucan, Pteroglossus aracari, sounded noisily along
Late at night, we stopped at a cattle sitio. The master
was absent, but the slaves had a number of fine Tambaki, and
we purchased enough, already roasted, to last us to Barra.
Habitual travellers upon the Amazon, make it a point to stop
during the night at sitios, whenever possible, thus avoid-
ing the carapanas, and greatly relieving the tedium of their
At seven o'clock, upon the 8th, we were in the swiftest
current below the Rio Negro. A rocky shore, dry at low
water, at this season, formed a rapid, down which the waters
rushed with a furious velocity. Two of us went ahead in the
montaria ; some used the pole ; while others, with the sail rope,
jumped upon shore and pulled. By these means, after a hard
tug, we passed.
We breakfasted in a lovely spot, where the open woods, and
the moss-covered rocks, so different from any we had seen
before, reminded us strongly of well-loved scenes at home.
Here we gathered several species of Ferns, and from a mound
of soft red clay, cut out cakes, like soap, for some soil-inquisi-
170 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
The remote bank of the Rio Negro now began to rise
boldly, exhilarating us all. The water of the Amazon gradu-
ally lost its muddy hue, and the black water of the Negro as
gradually assumed its proper color; until, at last, intensely
dark, but clear and limpid, every ripple sparkling like crystals,
it bade us throw back a joyful adeos to the majestic old friend
we were leaving, and hail with loud vivas the beautiful newly-
At its junction with the Negro, the Amazon bends widely
to the south; so that, from the northern shore, the former
seems the main stream. Directly at the junction, lies a large,
triangular island, and Mr. McCulloch informed us, that he
himself had found soundings here, at thirty-two fathoms, or
one hundred and ninety-two feet. Upon either side, the shore
rises abruptly and loftily, and the river is contracted into much
narrower, limits than above.
We sailed under noble bluffs, passing many fine-looking
houses ; and the effect of these, with the dark water, the cloudy
sky, and the rich green festooning, made that few hours' sail
intensely interesting. The current moved sluggishly, and the
only signs of life which we met. were in correspondence ; a
swarthy white, in one end of a montaria. listlessly holding a
fish-line, while in the other, sat, curled up, a little boy, in blue
shirt and red cap, both pictures of luxurious laziness.
It was eight o'clock in the evening, as we moored to the shore,
at Barra. A furious rain was pouring, and thus, we ended our
voyage as we had begun it. We had left Para, expecting to
see but thirty days pass upon the Amazon, but the thirty had
flown long since, and here we were, upon the eve of the fiftieth.
Yet our time had passed pleasantly, in spite of every
inconvenience ; and now that the memory of the carapanas
began to fade into indistinctness, and the big flies could no longer
trouble us, we could have looked fo- ard to another fifty days
towards the Peruvian frontier, without trembling.
The distance from Para to the Barra of the Rio Negro, in
a straight line, is rather more than eight hundred miles, but as
we had come, following all the windings of the channel, the
distance was more than a thousand.
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 17 \
Early in the morning, a number of gentlemen visited us at
the galiiota. some to inquire of the market and news below,
others to make offers of friendly service. Of these latter was
Senhor Henriquez Antonio, an Italian by birth, and the most
prominent trader upon these upper rivers. He immediately
offered us a vacant house next his own, and in a brief time, we
were fairly installed in our new quarters. The building was
of one story, containing several rooms, most of which were
ceiled by roof tiles, and floored by sand. Bradley took
possession of the large parlor for his goods, and he and Mr.
Williams were domiciled in one of the little twelve-by-twelve
sanctums, and A and I in the other.
Rio Negro at Barra — The town-— Old fort — Sr. Henriquez and family — Manner of liv-
ing — Venezuelans — Piassaba rope — Grass hammocks — Feather work — Descent of the
Negro — Gallos de Serra — Chili hats — Woods in the vicinity — Trogons — Chatterers —
Curassows — Guans — Parrots and Toucans — Humming Birds — Tiger Cats — Squirrels —
A Tiger story — The Casueris — A Yankee saw-mill — Mode of obtaining logs — A
Pic-nic — Cross the river to a campo — Cattle and horses — A select ball.
The Rio Negro, at Barra, is about four miles in width, at
high water, but much Jess during the dry season, when the
flood has fallen thirty feet. The channel deepens, at once,
from the shore, forming a safe and convenient anchorage.
The shore, in some parts, is bold, rising in almost perpendicular
bluffs; in others, gently sloping to the water's edge. Upon
land thus irregular, the town is built, numbering rather more
than three thousand inhabitants, a large proportion of which
are Indians. The houses are generally of one story, but oc-
casionally of two and three, and resemble, in form and struc-
ture, those of the better towns below.
There was something very attractive in the appearance of
the Barra. The broad, lake-like river in front, smooth as a
mirror; the little bay, protected by two out-jutting points ; the
narrow inlet, that circled around the upper part of the town,
and beyond which sloped a lofty hill, green with the freshness
of perpetual spring ; the finely rolling land upon which the
town itself stood ; and back of all, and overtopping all, the
flat table, where, at one glance, we could take in a combina-
tion of beauties, far superior to any thing we had yet seen upon
the Amazon. Here the secluded inhabitants live, scarcely
knowing of the rest of the world, and as oblivious of outward
vanities as our Dutch ancestors, who, in by-gone centuries,
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 173
vegetated upon the banks of the Hudson. Here is no rumbling-
of carts, or trampling of horses. Serenity, as of a Sabbath
morning, reigns perpetual ; broken only by the rub-a-dub of
the evening patrol, or by the sweet, wild strains from some
distant cottage, where the Indian girls are dancing to the
music of their own voices.
Directly upon the river bank, and frowning over the waters,
once stood a fort, known as San Jose. The Portuguese word
for fort, is barra, and this name was applied to the town which
sprung up in the vicinity. Therefore it is, that the town is
usually spoken of as the. Barra de Rio Negro. Whether peace
has been unfavorable, or the fortunes of war adverse, we were
not informed ; but there stands the ruin, with scarcely wall
enough left to call it a ruin, white with lichens, and protecting
nought but an area of grass. Upon the top of the ancient
flag-staff, is perched a Buzzard, who never seems to move, the
livelong day, but to turn his wings to the sun-light, or to nod
sympathetically to a party of his brethren, who, upon upright
poles and crossbeams, that indicate still further ruin, sit droop-
ing in the " luxury of woe."
Near by, an antique church shoots up to the loftiness of
some thirty feet, and at its side, is a quaint adjunct of a tower,
square, and short, and thick, from whose top sounds the church-
going bell. Beyond this, is a square or Largo, facing which
are the Barracks and the Room of the Assembly, for Barra is
the chief town of the district of the Rio Negro.
Upon this Largo, stood also the house of Senhor Henri-
quez, in which we were half domiciled, for being all bachelors,
and weary of bachelor cooking, we accepted with pleasure the
invitation of Sr. H. to his table. His house was always open
to passing strangers, and others beside ourselves were con-
stantly there, enjoying his hospitality. Both the Senhor and
his lady, showed us every attention, and seemed particularly
anxious that we should see all that was interesting or curious
in the vicinity, while they constantly kept some Indian in the
woods for our benefit. The Senhora was an exceedingly
pretty woman, about twenty-two, and delighted us by her
frank intercourse with strangers; always sitting with them at
174 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
the table, and conversing as a lady would do at home. This
would not be noticeable, except in Brazil, and, perhaps, not
universally there ; but we had ever found the ladies shy and
reserved, and, although often at the table of married men, the
lady of the house had never before sat down with us. The
Senhora surprised and gratified us, also, by her knowledge of
the United States, which she had obtained from occasional trav-
ellers. She had three little girls, Paulina, Pepita, and Lina,with
a little boy of four years. Juan. All these children had light
hair and fair complexions, and the blue-eyed baby, Lina, espe-
cially, was as beautifully fair, as though her home had been
under northern skies. Juan was a brave little fellow, and was
a frequent visitor of ours, delighting to be with, a Gentio In-
dian, who was employed in our back yard. This Indian had
been out of the woods but a i"ew weeks, and could not speak
Portuguese, but Juan could talk with him in the Lingoa Geral,
as though it had been his native tongue.
Each of the children had an attendant ; the girls, pretty
little Indians of nine or ten years, and Juan, a boy, of about the
same age. It was the business of these attendants, to obey
implicitly the orders of their little mistresses and master, and
never to leave them. Juan and his boy spent much of their time
in the river, taking as naturally to the water as young ducks.
At six in the morning, coffee was brought into our room,
and the day was considered as fairly commenced. We then
took our guns, and found amusement in the woods until nearly
eleven, which was the hour for breakfast. At this meal we
never had coffee or tea ; and rarely any vegetable excepting
rice. But rich soups and dishes of turtle, meat, fish, and peixe
boi, in several forms of preparation, loaded the table. The
Brazilian method of cooking becomes very agreeable, when
one has conquered his repugnance to a slight flavor of garlic,
and the turtle oil, used in every dish. The dessert consisted of
oranges, pacovas and preserves. Puddings, unless of tapioca,
are seldom seen, and pastry never, out of the city. Water was
brought, if we asked for it, but the usual drink was a light Lis-
bon wine. The first movement upon taking our places at the
table, was, for each to make a pile of salt and peppers upon his
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 175
plate, which, mashed, and liquified by a little caldo or gravy,
was in a condition to receive the meat. A bowl of caldo, in
the centre, filled with farinha, whence every one could help
himself with his own spoon, was always present.
The remainder of the day we spent in preserving our birds,
or if convenient, in again visiting the forest. The dinner hour
was between six and seven, and that meal was substantially
the same as breakfast.
We found at the house, upon our arrival, two gentlemen
who had lately came from Venezuela, forty days' distance up
the Rio Negro. One of them was a young German, William
Berchenbrinck, who had come down merely as passenger, and
who had been in the employment of a Spanish naturalist. The
other was a regular trader, Senhor Antonio Dias, from San
Carlos, and he had brought down a cargo of rope, made from
the fibres of the Piassaba palm, and a quantity of grass ham-
mocks. The piassaba rope is in great demand throughout the
province, and is remarkable for its strength and elasticity,
which qualities render it admirable for cables. The only ob-
jection to it is its roughness, for the palm fibres are. unavoid-
ably, of large size.
The hammocks were, in general, of cheap manufacture, va-
lued at half a milree each. The grass of which they were
made is yellow in color, and of a strength and durability supe-
rior to Manilla hemp. It grows in very great abundance
throughout the country of the Rio Negro, and could be supplied
to an unlimited extent. Senhor Antonio was a genius in his
way, and some of his hammocks were exquisitely ornamented,
by himself, with feather work. One, in particular, was com-
posed of cord, twisted by hand, scarcely larger than linen
thread ; and in its manufacture, a family of four persons had
been employed more than a year. Its borders, at the sides,
were one foot in width, and completely covered with embroid-
ery in the most gaudy feathers. Upon one side were the arms
of Brazil, upon the other, those of Portugal, and the remaining
space was occupied by flowers, and devices ingenious as
ever seen in needle-work. The feathers were attached to the
frame of the borders by a resinous gum. Such hammocks
176 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
are rather for ornament than use. and they are sought with
avidity at Rio Janeiro, by the curiosity collectors of foreign
courts. This one was valued at thirty silver dollars, which, in
the country of the Rio Negro, is equal to one hundred, in other
parts of the empire.
Sr. Antonio was something of a wag as well as a genius ;
and as the blacks came to him, at sunset, for the customary
blessing, making the sign of the cross upon their foreheads, his
usual benediction was, " God make you white."
Berchenbrinck could speak English fluently, and was a
very agreeable companion to us, besides being enabled, from
his own experience, to contribute much to our information re-
garding the natural curiosities of the country. He had crossed
from the Orinoco to the Rio Negro, by the Casiquiari. and in
coming down with Sr. Antonio, had been well nigh drowned
in descending one of the many rapids that obstruct this
latter river. Their cargo had been sent round by land, but
through some carelessness, the vessel had been overturned,
and both our friends precipitated into the whirling flood, whence
they were, some time after, drawn out, almost insensible, by
their crew, who from the shore had watched the catastrophe.
Mr. B. informed us, that in the highlands between the two
rivers, the Gallo de Serra, or Cock of the Rock, was abundant,
and frequently seen domesticated. This bird is the size of a
large dove, and wholly of a deep orange color. Upon its head,
is a vertical crest of the same. The Indians shoot the Cocks
of the Rock with poisoned arrows, and stripping off the skins,
sell them to travellers, or traders, who purchase them for
feather work. We obtained a number of them at Barra, and
had we arrived a short time sooner, could have seen a living
specimen, which was in the garden of Sr. Henriquez.
The Indians, who accompanied Sr. Antonio, were of a dif-
ferent race from any we had seen, and looked very oddly, from
the manner in which they suffered their hair to grow; shaving
it close, except just above the forehead, from which, long locks
hung about their cheeks.
One day, an old Spaniard arrived, with a cargo of Chili
hats. He was from Grenada, and had come down the River
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 177
Napo, and the Solemoen. Beside his hats, which he was in-
tending to take to the United States, he brought a quantity of
pictures, or rather, caricatures of saints, as small change for
his river expenses. Chili hats are a great article of trade at
Barra. They are made of small strips of a species of palm,
twisted more or less finely. This palm was growing in the
garden of Sr. Henriquez, and he gave us a bundle of the raw
material. The leaf was of the palmetto form, and looked
much like the leaf of which Chinese fans are made. The
value of the hats varies greatly, some being worth, even at the
Barra, from fifteen to twenty dollars. But the average price
is from two to three dollars. We saw one of remarkable
fineness, which was sent to Doctor Costa in a letter.
The old Spaniard told us that much of the country upon
the Napo was still wild, and that, in repeated instances, the
Indians there brought him beautiful birds for sale, which they
had shot with poisoned arrows. Two hundred years ago, Acuna
described the Tucuna tribe as remarkable for their similar habit.
The woods in the vicinity of Barra were a delightful resort
to us, and more attractive than we had seen upon the Amazon.
The land was not one dead level, swampy, or intersected by
impassable igaripes ; but there were gentle hills, and tiny
brooks of clearest water, and here, when weary of rambling,
we could recline ourselves in the delicious shade, unmolested
by carapanas, or the scarcely less vexatious wood-flies. The
ground was often covered by evergreens of different varieties,
and exquisite forms, and many species of ferns were growing
in the valleys. There were no sepaws, or other climbing ob-
structions to our free passage, but a thousand lesser vines
draped the low tree tops with myriads of flowers, new and at-
tractive. Every where were paths, some made by the inhab-
itants, in their frequent rambles, others, by wild animals that
come to the water ; and along these, we could pass quietly, to
the feeding trees of beautiful birds.
Here were wont to haunt many varieties of Trogons, un-
known to us ; and, at any hour, their plaintive tones could be
heard from the lofty limb, upon which they sat concealed.
Cuckoos of several species, their plumage glancing red in
178 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
the light, flitted noiselessly through the branches, busied in
searching for the worms, which were their favorite food.
Purple Jays, Garrulus Cayanus, in large flocks, like their
blue cousins of North America, would be alighted on some
fruit tree, chattering and gesticulating; but shy. ready to start
at the breaking of a twig.
Motmots, and Chatterers, were abundant as at Para ; the
latter, in greater variety, and still, most gaudy of all.
Goatsuckers, in plumage more exquisitely blended, than
any of the species we had ever seen, would start from some
shade where they had been dozing the day hours, and flying
a little distance, were an easy prey.
Manikins were in great variety, and in every bush ; Tana-
gers whistled, and Warblers faintly lisped their notes in the
Flycatchers, in endless variety, were moving nimbly over
the branches, or sallying out from their sentry stations, upon
their passing prey.
Pigeons, some of varieties common at Para ; others, new
to us, were cooing in the thicket, or flying affrighted off.
Tinami, of all sizes, were feeding along the path, or sport-
ing in parties of half a dozen, among the dry leaves.
Curassows moved on with stately step, like our Wild
Turkey, picking here and there some delicate morsel, and
uttering a loud, peeping note ; or ran, with outstretched neck,
and rapid strides, as they detected approaching danger.
Guans were stripping the fruits from the low trees, in
parties of two and three ; and constantly repeating a loud,
harsh note, that proved their betrayal.
Of all these birds, the most beautiful, after the Chatterers,
were the Trogons. There were half a dozen varieties, differ-
ing in size, from the T. viridis, a small species, whose body
was scarcely larger than many of our Sparrows, to the Cu-
ruqua grande, Calurus auriceps (Gould), twice the size of a
Jay. All have long, spreading tails; and their dense plumage
makes them appear of greater size than the reality. They
are solitary birds, and, early in the morning, or late in the
afternoon, may be observed sitting, singly or in pairs ; some
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 179
species, upon the tallest trees, and others, but a few feet
above the ground, with tails outspread and drooping, watch-
ing for passing insects. Their appetites appeased, they
spend the remainder of the day in the shade, uttering, at in-
tervals, a mournful note, well imitated by their common name,
Curuqua. This would serve to betray them to the hunter ;
but they are great ventriloquists, and it is often impossible to
discover them, although they are directly above one's head.
The species vary in coloring, as in size ; but the backs of all
are of a lustrous green, or blue, and bellies of red, or pink, or
yellow. The Curuqua grande is occasionally seen at Barra ;
but frequenting the tallest forest, it is exceedingly difficult to
be obtained. We offered a high price for a specimen, and
employed half the garrison for this single bird, without suc-
cess. They reported, that they, every day, saw them, and
frequently shot at them; but that they never would come
down. We were fortunate in obtaining a skin of this bird,
preserved by an Indian. The other species were the Red-
bellied, T. c;urucui; Cinerous, T. strigilatus ; T. melanop-
terus; and one other species, much resembling the last, except
that the outer tail-feathers, instead of being merely tipped
*vith white, as in the Melanopterus, were crossed by numerous
Their feathers were so loose, that, in falling, when shot,
they, almost invariably, lost many ; and this, together with the
tenderness of their skins, made them the most difficult of birds
Of the Chatterers, besides the Cardinal, and other Para
varieties, which were beginning to be abundant, were the
Pompadour, Ampelis pompadora, whose wings were white,
and body of a lustrous carmine; and another variety, the
Silky, A. Maynana, whose body was of a sky-blue. At this
season, all these birds were in perfect plumage ; and seemed
to be just returning from their migration, perhaps towards
Para, as they were there during the month of May.
Of Curassows, or Mutuns, we never shot but one variety,
the Crested, of which we had found the nests, near Serpa. But
other species were common about the forests, and these, with
180 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
others still, brought from the upper country, were frequently
seen domesticated. They are all familiar birds, and readily al-
low themselves to be caressed. At night, they often come into
the house to roost, seeming to like the company of the parrots
and other birds. They might easily be bred, when thus do-
mesticated, but the facility with which their nests are found,
renders this no object at Barra. They feed upon seeds and
fruits, and are considered superior, for the table, to any game
of the country. For one patac, or sixteen cents, each, we pur-
chased a pair of the Razor-billed Curassow, Ourax mitu, one of
which we succeeded in bringing safely home ; a pair of (judg-
ing from recollection) the Red-knobbed Curassow, Crax Yar-
rellii; and a male of the Red Curassow, (Crax rubra), said to
have been brought from Peru. This variety was called Uru-
mutun. The second species is the most common, and is found
throughout the country, towards Para. The Parraqua Guan,
Phasianus parraqua, was common, but not domesticated. It
resembled the Mutuns in its habits, but in form, had a larger
neck and tail, in proportion. A specimen which we shot, ex-
hibited a very curious formation of the wind-pipe, that organ
passing beneath the skin, upon the outside of the body, to the
extremity of the breast-bone, where it was attached by a liga-
ment. Then re-curving, it passed back, and entered the body
as in other birds. Probably, the loud trumpet note of this bird
is owing to this formation.
Of Parrots and Toucans there were many new varieties, be-
sides some of those common at Para. One species of Parro-
quet was scarcely larger than a canary bird.
Of Hawks there were many varieties, not known at Para,
and a large long-eared Owl, the first owl we had met, was
brought in by our hunters.
Humming birds were abundant as elsewhere, but mostly of
species observed at Para. The Amethystine, T. amethysti-
nus ; and the Black-breasted, T. gramineus, were all the new
varieties that we obtained.
Our hunters were mostly soldiers of the garrison, and for
their labor we paid them ten cents per diem, and found them
in powder and shot. When, towards night, they made their
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 181
appearance with the fruits of their excursions, our table was
richly loaded, and a long evening's work spread before us.
Sometimes, they would bring in animals, and upon one oc-
casion, we received a pair of small Tiger Cats, called Mara-
Some varieties of Squirrels were also brought in, but as we
had no leisure to attend to animals, we gave no orders for pro-
curing them. The same animals found in other parts of the
province, were common in the vicinity, and we could learn of
nothing new, excepting Monkeys, who vary in species with
every degree of latitude or longitude.
Mr. McCulloch gave us the teeth of a Jaguar, which he had
shot at his mill ; and we heard of a singular meeting between
one of these animals and an Indian, upon the road towards the
mill. The Jaguar was standing in the road, as the Indian
came out of the bushes, not ten paces distant, and was looking,
doubtless, somewhat fiercely, as he waited the unknown comer.
The Indian was puzzled an instant, but summoning his pres-
ence of mind, he took off his broad brimmed hat. and made a
low bow, with " Muito bem dias, meu Senhor," or u a very
good morning, sir." Such profound respect was not lost upon
the Jaguar, who turned slowly, and marched down the road,
with proper dignity.
Several times, during the latter part of our stay, when our
names had acquired some celebrity, birds, and other curiosities
were brought in for sale ; and, upon one day in particular, such
a zeal for vintens actuated all the little blackies and Indians,
that our big bellied bottles speedily became crowded to reple-
tion, with beetles, and lizards, and snakes, et id omne genus.
Three miles back of Barra, is the Casueris, a water fall, of
which Mr. McCulloch has taken advantage for his mill. The
water falls over a ledge of yellowish red sand rock, and,
during the dry season, has a descent of twelve feet. But
during the wet season, the waters of the Rio Negro set back
to such an extent, that a fall is scarcely perceptible. These
changes have their conveniences, for as, when the water is low,
the wheel can be constantly turning, so, when it is high, the
supply of logs can be floated directly to the mill. The greater
182 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
part of the logs used, are of cedar, rafted up from the
Solimoen. Coming from the head waters of the various
streams, they are precipitated over cataracts, and rolled and
crushed together, until their limbs are entirely broken off, and
their roots require but little trimming. Logs of other woods
are cut upon the banks of the Rio Negro, and from low land,
during the dry season. When the waters rise, these logs are
floated out, bound together, and rafted down. We saw a
variety of beautiful woods ; some of the most valuable of
which for cabinet purposes, were the Saboyerana, reddish,
mottled with black, and varieties of Satin-wood. These are
scarcely known down the river, but through Mr. McCulIoch's
enterprise, they are in a fair way to be made common. The
mill was a perfect Yankee mill, differing, in no respect
excepting in the materials of its frame ; woods beautiful as
mahogany not being so accessible as hemlock, in the United
Heretofore, all the boards used in the province of Para
have been hewn in the forest, by the Indians, who are remark-
ably expert at this kind of work, using a small adze, like a
cooper's hammer, and making the boards as smooth as
with a plane. One log will make but two boards, and the
labor of reducing to the requisite thinness is so tedious, that
very few builders can afford to use wood for the flooring of
their houses. But these people are so proverbially slow in
adopting innovations, that some years must elapse, before this
expensive system is changed.
The Casueris being a delightful spot, shaded by densely
leaved trees, is the usual resort for Sunday pic-nic parties
which meet there for the fresh, cool air, and the luxurious bath!
The Senhora Henriquez made a little party of the kind for
our entertainment, which passed off delightfully, and much as
such a party would have done at home. It was something
novel, to meet such an evidence of refinement so far out of the
world, where we had expected to find nothing but wildness
But there was one feature that distinguished it from any
pleasure party I ever participated in, amid civilivation
and refinement, and that was, the bathing, at the finale.
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 183
In this, there was little fastidiousness although perfect
decorum. While the gentlemen were in the water, the
ladies, upon the bank, were applauding, criticising, and
comparing styles, for there were almost as many nations of
us, as individuals ; and when, in their turns, they darted
through the water, or dove, like streaks of light, to the very
bottom, they were in nowise distressed that we scrupled not
at the same privilege. They were all practiced and graceful
swimmers, but the Senhora particularly, as she rose, with her
long hair, long enough ti sweep the ground when walking,
enshrouding her in its silken folds, might have been taken for
the living, new-world Venus.
For bathing purposes, we never saw water that could com-
pare with the Rio Negro. One came from its sparkling bosom,
with an exhilaration, as if it had been the water of a mineral
spring. In it, the whole town, men, women, and children,
performed daily ablutions, cleanliness being a part of the
Brazilian religion. The women were usually in before sun-
rise, and we never saw, as some have asserted is the case, both
sexes promiscuously in the water.
We crossed the river, one day, in a montaria, with three
Indians, to visit a large campo. Our last mile was through
woods, the low shrubbery of which was entirely overflowed,
and as far down as we could see, were trees in full leaf, look-
ing like a bed of green. Many creeping plants, bearing a
profusion of flowers, overhung our heads, and of the finest, a
Dendrobium, with its clusters of pink and purple, we
obtained a specimen, which we were fortunate enough
to bring safely to the United States. In this retreat,
we observed a great number of Trogons and Doves, as though
the water-side was their favorite resort. The trunks of the
trees were all marked by the waters of the last year, full five
feet above their ordinary rise. That unprecedented flood
poured over the low lands, and caused great devastation.
The campo was some miles in length, covered with grass
and low shrubs. The late dryness had deprived the grass of
all its green, and the whole resembled more a desert than a
184 A VOYAGE UP THE RTVER AMAZON.
meadow. There were a number of lean cattle and horses
wandering about, looking for food, with microscopic eyes.
Cattle are rare at Barra, and we saw no milk during our
stay. There was said to be one horse, but he was altogether
beyond our ken ; and the honors of his genus were done by
three asses, who were outrageous vagabonds, and unfair
A ball was got up, for our especial advantage and honor,
one evening. Six ladies, some well dressed, some so-so ; some
tolerably white and some as tolerably dark, composed the lively
part, and about a dozen gentlemen, an essential part, of the
gathering. One gentleman volunteered to the guitar, another
to the violin ; one and another sent in refreshments, and an
old lady took in charge the coffee. The ladies were very
agreeable, differing mightily from the ladies at Para dancing
parties, who do not go to talk. The dances were waltzes,
cotillions, and fandangoes, and some of the ladies danced with
extreme grace. Those who were deficient in grace, made up
in good will, and until a late hour, ail went on merrily and
A new river — Rio Branco — Turtle wood — Unexplored region — Traditions — Peixe boi or
Cow Fish — Turtles — Influences at Barra — Indians — Foreigners — Indian articles —
Poison used upon arrows — Traffic — Balsam Copaivi — Salsa — Guinia — Vanilla — Ton-
ga beans — Indigo — Guarana — Pixiri or nutmeg — Seringa — Wild cotton — Rock salt —
The Amazon above the Rio Negro — The Rio Negro.
While we were at Barra, Senhor Gabriel, one of the dig-
nitaries of the place, and a very agreeable gentleman, returned
from an exploring expedition, up one of the smaller rivers,
which flow into the Rio Negro, between Barra and the Branco.
Nothing had previously been known of the region lying adja-
cent to this stream, for vague traditions of hostile Indians had
deterred even the adventurous frontiers-men, from attempting
its exploration. The Senhor described it as a beautiful, roll-
ing country, in many parts high, and covered by forests of
magnificent growth. It was uninfested by carapanas, and
never visited by fevers ; nor were there troublesome Indians to
The Senhor gave us the skin of a large black monkey,
which he had killed during this excursion, and the nest and
eggs of a White-collared Hummer, the Trochilus melivorus.
The nest was composed of the light down growing upon the
exterior of a small berry, and surpassed any thing we had seen
in bird architecture. The eggs were tiny things, white, with
a few spots of red.
The Rio Branco is another interesting stream, which sends
its wealth to Barra. Its head waters are in the highlands,
towards Guiana, and it flows through one of the loveliest and
most desirable regions of tropical America. There are many
186 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
settlements upon its banks, and an extensive traffic is carried
on in cattle and produce. Far up among the mountains, at the
head of this river, is found the Marapamma, or Turtle wood,
specimens of which may sometimes be seen made into canes.
This is the heart of a tree, and is nevermore than a few inches
in diameter. The only person who deals in it upon the Branco,
is a Friar, who obtains it from some Indian tribe, in the course
of his mission, and, a few sticks at a time, he sends it to Para,
where it is in great demand for canes, and other light articles.
In the same district, are said to be valuable minerals, and we
obtained of a canoe which had just come down, a piece of red
jasper, susceptible of a fine polish, which was used as a flint.
We saw, also, some large and beautiful crystals, from the same
The whole region, north of the Amazon, is watered by
numberless rivers, very many of which are still unexplored.
It is a sort of bugbear country, where cannibal Indians and
ferocious animals abound to the destruction of travellers. This
portion of Brazil has always been Fancy's peculiar domain,
and, even now, all kinds of little El Dorados lie scattered far,
far through the forest, where the gold and the diamonds are
guarded by thrice horrible Cerberi. Upon the river banks are
Indians, watching the unwary stranger, with bended bow, and
poisoned arrow upon the string. Some tribes, most provident,
keep large pens akin to sheepfolds, where the late enthusiastic
traveller awaits his doom, as in the cave of Polyphemus. As
if these obstructions were not enough, huge, nondescript ani-
mals add their terrors, and the tormented sufferer, makes costly
vows that if he ever escapes, he will not again venture into
such an infernal country, even were the ground plated with
gold, and the dew drops priceless diamonds. Some naturalist
Frenchman, or unbelieving German, long before the memory
of the present generation, ventured up some inviting stream,
and you hear of his undoubted fate, as though your informant
had seen the catastrophe. In instances related to us, no one
seemed to allow, that one might die, in the course of nature,
while upon an exploring expedition, or that he might have
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 187
had the good fortune to have succeeded, and to have penetrat-
ed to the other side.
We heard, one day, that a Peixe boi, or Cow-fish, had just
arrived in a montaria, and was lying upon the beach. Hurry-
ing down, we were just in time to see the animal before he was
cut up. He was about ten feet in length, and as he laid upon
his back, between two and three feet in height; presenting
a conformation of body, much like that of a " fine old English
gentleman," whose two legs were developed into a broad, flat
tail. His back was covered sparsely with hairs, and his large
muzzle was armed with short, stiff bristles. His smooth belly
was bluish-black in color, and much scarred by the bite of some
inimical fish. There was nothing corresponding to legs, but a
pair of flappers, as of a turtle, answered his purposes of loco-
motion. Both eyes and ears were very small, but the nostrils
were each an inch in diameter. The skin was one-fourth of
an inch in thickness, and covered a deep coating of blubber,
the extracted oil of which is used as butter in cooking. Un-
der the blubber was the meat, something between beef and
pork, in taste. These curious animals are in great numbers
w.pon the Solemoen, and are to the people, what Periecu is be-
low, being, like that fish, cut into slabs and salted. This form
is, however, very offensive to a stranger, and no Indian will
eat dried peixe boi, if he can get any thing else. These ani-
mals do not venture upon land, but subsist upon the grass that
lines the shores. When thus feeding, they are lanced by the
Indians, who know their places of resort, and watch their ap-
pearance. Although from their bulk, several men might be
puzzled to lift a cow-fish from the water, when dead, yet one
Indian will stow the largest in his montaria, without assistance.
The boat is sunk under the body, and rising, the difficult feat
Not unfrequently, a peixe boi is taken eighteen feet in
length. Their thick skins formerly served the Indians for
shields, and their jaw-bones as hammers.
188 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
We would gladly have bought this entire animal, for the
purpose of preserving his skeleton and skin. But as meat was
in request that day, we were obliged to be content with the
head, which we bore off in triumph, and cleansed of its muscle.
This skull is now in the collection of Dr. Morton, and we learn
from him that the Peixe boi of the Amazon is a distinct species
from the Manatus, sometimes seen in the districts adjacent to
the Gulf of Mexico.
Sometimes young cow-fishes are brought to Para, and we
had there previously seen one in a cistern, in the palace gar-
den. It was fed on grass, and was very tame, seeming de-
lighted to be handled. Captain Appleton, who has taken
greater interest in the wonders of this province, than almost any
person who ever visited Para, has twice succeeded in bringing
young cow-fishes to New-York, but they died soon after leav-
ing his care.
The Turtles are a still greater blessing to the dwellers upon
the upper rivers. In the early part of the dry season, these
animals ascend the Amazon, probably from the sea, and assem-
ble upon the sandy islands and beaches, left dry by the retiring
waters, in the Japiira and other tributaries. They deposit
their eggs in the sand, and at this season, all the people, for
hundreds of miles round about, resort to the river banks as
regularly as to a fair. The eggs are collected into montarias,
or other proper receptacles, and broken. The oil, floating upon
the surface, is skimmed off, with the valves of the large shells
found in the river, and is poured into pots, each holding about
six gallons. It is computed that a turtle lays one hundred and
fifty eggs in a season. Twelve thousand eggs make one pot
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 189
of oil, and six thousand pots are annually sent from the most
noted localities. Consequently, seventy-two millions of eggs
are destroyed, which require four hundred and eighty thou-
sand turtles to produce them. And yet but a small pro-
portion of the whole number of eggs are broken. When fifty
days have expired, the young cover the ground, and march in
millions to the water, where swarms of enemies, more de-
structive than man, await their coming. Every branch of the
Amazon is resorted to, more or less, in the same manner; and
the whole number of turtles is beyond all conjecture. As be-
fore remarked, those upon the Madeira are little molested, on
account of the unhealthiness of the locality in which they
breed. They are said to be of a different and smaller variety,
from those upon the Amazon. We received a different variety
still from the Branco, and there may be many more yet undis-
tinguished. The turtles are turned upon their backs, when
found upon the shore, picked up at leisure, and carried to dif-
ferent places upon the river. Frequently, they are kept the
year round, in pens properly constructed, and one such, that
we saw at Villa Nova, contained nearly one hundred. During
the summer months, they constitute a great proportion of the
food of the people ; but when we consider their vast numbers,
a long period must elapse before they sensibly diminish.
Their average weight, when taken, is from fifty to seventy-five
pounds, but many are much larger. Where they go, after the
breeding season, no one knows, for they are never observed
descending the river ; but, from below Para, more or less are
seen ascending, every season. They are mostly caught, at this
time, in the lakes of clear water, which so plentifully skirt either
shore, and generally are taken with lances, or small harpoons,
as they are sleeping on the surface. But the Muras have a
way of capturing them, peculiar to themselves ; shooting them
with arrows, from a little distance, the arrow being so elevated,
that in falling, it strikes, and penetrates the shell. In this, even
long practice can scarcely make perfect; and fifty arrows may
be shot at the unconscious sleeper before he is secured.
There are several other small varieties of Turtles or Ter-
rapins, somewhat esteemed as food, but in no request. Some
190 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
of them are of curious form, and. one in particular, found about
Para, instead of drawing in his head and neck, as do most
others of his family, finds sufficient security by laying them
round upon his fore claw, under the projecting roof of shell.
The land turtles, Jabatis, attain a size of from twenty to
thirty pounds. They are delicious food, far superior, in our
estimation, to their brethren of the water. Lieutenant Mawe
somewhere remarks to this effect, that, in a country where the
people are cannibals, and eat monkeys, they might enjoy land
turtles. But the Lieutenant suffered his prejudices to run
away with his judgment, in a strange way for a sailor.
We saw at Senhor Bentos' in Villa Nova, turtles of this
species, which he had in the yard as pets, and who seemed
very well domesticated, eating pacovas, or any sweet fruit.
Some of these, the Senhor had kept for seven years, and they
bore no proportion in size to others seen. From this, we infer-
red the great number of years that they must require before
they arrive at maturity.
Owing to its remote frontier position, Barra is under differ-
ent influences from other Brazilian towns, and these are ob-
servable every where. The language spoken is a patois of
Portuguese and Spanish, with no very slight mixture of the
Lingoa Geral. This latter language must be spoken, as mat-
ter of necessity. The currency, too, is in good part of silver, as
Spanish dollars, the Brazilian paper being but in scanty supply.
The Indian population is vastly more numerous than below,
and from the absence of the causes that elsewhere have driven
the Indians to the woods, the two races live together amicably,
and will, to all appearance, in a few generations, be entirely
amalgamated. Labor, of course, is very cheap. Senhor Hen-
riquez had one hundred Spanish Indians in his employ, to whom
he paid twelve and one-half cents each per diem. These were
hired of the authorities beyond the frontiers, and they were pro-
tected, by contract, from being sent below Barra. They were
of a darker color, and less finely featured than most Brazilian
Indians, whom we had seen. Part of them were employed in
building houses, several of which were in progress of erection ;
and part in a tilaria, within the town. When Lieutenant
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 191
Smythe descended the Amazon, rather more than ten years
since, both houses and tilaria were in a sad state, and the town
was nearly stripped of inhabitants, on account of recent politi-
cal difficulties. But better times have come, and a general
prosperity is rapidly removing the appearances of decay.
There were a great many pleasant people, whose acquaint-
ance we made, and who showed us such attentions as strangers
love to receive. There are always, in such towns, a few strange
wanderers from other countries, who have chanced along, no
one knows how. Such an one was a German we found there,
Senhor Frederics. He had formerly belonged to a German
regiment, which was stationed at Para, and had been lucky
enough to escape the fate of most of his comrades, who had
been killed during the revolution. He had found his way to
the Barra, had married a pleasant lady of the place, and now
practised his trade as a blacksmith. He was a man of tremen-
dous limb, and with a soul in proportion, and we were always
glad to see him at our house. Another German was a carpen-
ter ; and an odd genius, from the north of Europe, but who had
been a sailor in an English vessel, and had picked up a collec-
tion of English phrases, officiated as sail-maker to the public.
Through the kindness of Senhor Henriquez, we obtained a
great variety of Indian articles. The bows and lances are of
some dark wood, and handsomely formed and finished. The
former are about seven feet in length, and deeply grooved upon
the outer side. The bow-string is of hammock grass. The
lances are ten feet long, ornamented with carvings at the up-
per extremities, and terminated by tassels of macaw's feathers.
The arrows are in light sheaves, six to each, and are formed
of cane, the points being of the hardest wood, and poisoned.
These are used in war and hunting, and differed from the ar-
rows used in taking fish, in that the points of the latter are of
strips of bamboo or bone. Those for wild hogs again, are still
different, being terminated by a broad strip of bamboo, fashion-
ed in the shape of a pen. This form inflicts a more effectual
wound. In the same way, the javelins are pointed, the stems
being of hard wood, and much ornamented with feather-work.
But the most curious, and the most formidable weapon, is
192 A VOYAGE TJP THE RIVER AMAZON.
the blowing-cane. This is eight or ten feet in length — two
inches in diameter at the larger end, and gradually tapering to
less than an inch at the other extremity. It is usually formed
by two grooved pieces of wood, fastened together by a winding
of rattan, and carefully pitched. The bore is less than half an
inch in diameter. The arrow for this cane, is a splint of a palm,
one foot in length, sharpened, at one end, to a delicate point,
and, at the other, wound with the silky tree-cotton, to the size
of the tube. The point of this is dipped in poison, and slightly
cut around, that, when striking an object, it may break by its
own weight, leaving the point in the wound.
With this instrument, an Indian will, by the mere force of
his breath, shoot with the precision of a rifle, hitting an object
at a distance of several rods. Our Gentio Pedro never used
any other weapon ; and we saw him, one day, shoot at a Tur-
key Buzzard, upon a housetop, at a distance of about eight
rods. The arrow struck fairly in the breast, the bird flew over
the house, and fell dead. Senhor Henriquez assured us that
an Indian formerly in his employ, at one time and another, had
brought in seven Harpy Eagles, thus shot.
The accounts we received of the composition of this poison
were not very explicit, and amounted principally to this ; that
it was made by the Indians at the head waters of the Rio Bran-
co, from the sap of some unknown tree ; that it was used uni-
versally by the tribes of Northern Brazil, in killing game, be-
ing equally efficacious against small birds and large animals j
that the antidotes to its effect were sugar and salt, applied ex-
ternally and internally. It comes in small earthen pots, each
holding about a gill, and is hard and black, resembling pitch.
It readily dissolves in water, and is then of a reddish brown
color. Taken into the stomach, it produces no ill effects. We
brought home several pots of this poison, and by experiments,
under the superintendence of Dr. Trudeau, fully satisfied our-
selves of its efficacy. The subjects were a sheep, a rabbit, and
chickens. The latter, after the introduction of one or two drops
of the liquid poison into a slight wound in the breast or neck,
were instantly affected, and in from two to three minutes were
wholly paralyzed, although more than ten minutes elapsed be-
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 193
fore they were dead. The rabbit was poisoned in the fore
shoulder, and died in the same manner, being seized Avith
spasms, and wholly paralyzed in eight minutes. The effect
upon the sheep was more speedy, as the poison was applied to
a severed vein of the neck.
As M. Humboldt witnessed the preparation of the poison,
and has given a full account of his observations, his recital will
here not be out of place. The Indian name is Curare. It is
made from the juice of the bark and the contiguous wood of a
creeping plant, called the Mavacure, which is found upon the
highlands of Guiana. The wood is scraped and the filaments
mashed. The yellowish mass resulting is placed in a funnel
of palm leaves; cold water is poured upon it, and the poisonous
liquid filters drop by drop. It is now evaporated in a vessel of
clay. There is nothing noxious in its vapor, nor until concen-
trated, is the liquid considered as poisonous. In order to render
it of sufficient consistence to be applied to the arrows, a con-
centrated, glutinous infusion of another plant, called Kiraca-
guero, is mixed with it, being poured in while the curare is in
a state of ebullition. The resulting mixture becomes black,
and of a tarry consistence. When dry, it resembles opium,
but upon exposure to the air, absorbs moisture. Its taste is
not disagreeable, and unless there be a wound upon the lips,
it may be swallowed with impunity. There are two varieties,
one prepared from the roots, the other from the trunk and
branches. The latter is the stronger, and is the kind used
upon the Amazon. It will cause the death of large birds in
from two to three minutes, of a hog in from ten to twelve. The
symptoms in wounded men are the same as those resulting
from serpent bites, being vertigo, attended with nausea,
vomitings, and numbness in the parts adjacent to the wound.
It is the general belief that salt is an antidote, but upon the
Amazon, sugar is preferred.
The Indian stools were curious affairs, legs and all being
cut from the solid block. The tops were hollowed to form a
convenient seat, and were very prettily stained with some dye.
Beside these things, were various articles woven of cotton,
and of extreme beauty ; sashes, bags, and an apparatus worn
194 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
when hunting, being a girdle, to which were suspended little
pouches for shot and flints.
The civilized Indians rarely use their ancient weapons,
except in taking fish. Cheap German guns are abundant
throughout the country, and it is wonderful that accidents do
not frequently occur, with their use. Unless a gun recoils
smartly, an Indian thinks it is worth nothing to shoot with ;
and we knew of an instance, where a gun was taken to the
smith's, and bored in the breech, to produce this desirable
Senhor Henriquez has establishments upon several of the
upper rivers. Coarse German and English dry goods, Lowell
shirtings, a few descriptions of hardware, Salem soap, beads,
needles, and a few other fancy articles, constitute a trader's
stock. In return, are brought down, balsam, gums, wax,
drugSj turtle oil, tobacco, fish, and hammocks.
When Sr. H. goes to Ega, a distance of less than four
hundred miles, he forwards a vessel thirty days before his own
departure, intending to overtake it before its arrival. So tedious
The quantity of Balsam Copaiva brought down, is prodi-
gious. There were lying upon the beach, at Barra, two
hollowed logs, in which balsam had been floated down from
above. One had contained twenty-five hundred, and the other
sixteen hundred gallons. They had been filled, and carefully
sealed over ; and in this way, had arrived without loss,
whereas, in jars, the leakage and breakage would have
been considerable. At Barra, the balsam is transferred to
jars, and shipped to the city. There, much of it is bought up
by the Jews, who adulterate it with other gums, and sell it to
the exporters. It is then put up in barrels, or in tin, or earthen
vessels, according to the market for which it is intended.
The tree grows in the vicinity of Barra, and we were very
desirous of obtaining, at least, some leaves ; but delay of one
day after another, at last made it impossible. The tree is of
large size, and is tapped by a deep incision, often to the heart.
In this latter case, the yield is greater, but the tree dies. The
average yield is from five to ten gallons.
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 195
Sarsaparilla, is another great article of production. It is
found throughout the province ; and when collected and care-
lessly preserved, is packed in so rascally a manner, as to de-
stroy its own market. We saw some, that was cultivated in
a garden ; and its large size and increased strength showed,
clearly enough, that by proper care, the Salsa of Para might
compete with the best, in any market. It is a favorite remedy
in the country ; and when fresh, an infusion of it, sweetened
with sugar, forms an agreeable drink.
Quinia grows, also, pretty universally. Happily, for in-
termittent fevers, opportunities rarely occur of testing its
qualities. We never encountered but one case of this fever,
which we were enabled to relieve by a single dose from our
Vanilla, grows every where; and might, by cultivation, be
elevated into a valuable product.
Tonga beans are brought to Barra, from the forest.
Indigo, of superior quality, is raised in sufficient quantities
for home consumption ; and might be, to any extent.
Not far from Barra, is obtained the nut of which Guarana
is made ; which article is extensively consumed throughout
the greater part of Brazil, in the form of a drink. The plant
is said to produce a nut, shaped somewhat like a cherry; and
this is roasted, pounded fine, and formed into balls. A tea-
spoonful, grated into a tumbler of water, forms a pleasant
beverage; but when drank to excess, as is generally the case,
its narcotic effects greatly injure the system. The grater,
used for this and other purposes, is the rough tongue-bone of
one of the large river fish.
There is another fruit, called Pixiri, considered as an ad-
mirable substitute for nutmeg. It is covered with a slight
skin, and when this is removed, falls into two hemispherical
pieces. Its flavor is rather more like sassafras, than nutmeg.
Seringa trees abound upon the Amazon, probably, to its
head waters. The demand for the gum has not yet been felt
at Barra, where it is only used for medicinal purposes, being
applied, when fresh, to inflammations. But when it is wanted,
enough can be forthcoming to coat the civilized world.
196 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
The Sumaumeira tree, which yields a long-stapled, silky,
white cotton, grows upon the banks of the Rio Negro, in great
abundance ; and could probably be made of service, were it
once known to the cotton-weaving communities. It is exces-
sively light, flying like down ; but the Indians make beautiful
fabrics of it.
Another article, which might be made of inestimable value
to the country, is Salt. Upon the Huallaca, and perhaps other
tributaries, are hills of this mineral, in the rock; and so fa-
vorably situated, as to fall, when chipped off, directly upon the
rafts of the Indians, who collect it, and bring it as far down
as Ega. It sometimes finds its way to Barra, and we were
fortunate in obtaining a piece, weighing nearly one hundred
pounds. It is of a pinkish color, and is impregnated with some
foreign substance, that needs to be removed. Some enter-
prising Yankee will make his fortune by it yet. All the salt
now used, throughout an area of one million square miles, is
imported from Lisbon, and at an enormous expense.
Before closing this chapter, a brief mention of the principal
towns, and of the larger rivers above the Negro, may not be
inappropriate. At a distance of one hundred miles from Barra,
enters the river Perus, a mighty stream, flowing from the
mountains of Bolivia. We were informed by individuals, who
had voyaged upon this river, that its course was more winding
than any other; that it was entirely unobstructed by rapids,
and, therefore, preferable to the Madeira, as a means of com-
munication with the countries upon the Pacific. Its banks
abound in seringa trees ; and cacao, of good quality, is
brought down by traders.
Three hundred miles above Barra, is the town of Ega,
upon the southern side of the Amazon. It stands upon a river
of clear water, which is navigable for canoes, to a distance of
several hundred miles; but for larger vessels, but a few days'
journey. The town contains about one thousand persons.
Upon the northern side, comes in the Japilra, through many
channels. This river rises in the mountains of New Grenada,
and its broad channel is sprinkled with a thousand islands.
During the wet season, it is one of the greater branches of the
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 197
Amazon, and flows with a furious current ; but during the dry-
season, it is so filled with sandy shoals, that navigation is im-
possible. Here the turtles frequent, and down the torrent
come vast numbers of cedars. The Japilra. is said to have
communication with the Negro, by some of its upper branches.
It forms the line of boundary between the Spanish and Bra-
zilian territories. Its region is considered unhealthy ; and
owing to this reputation, and the obstructions to navigation, is
little settled by whites.
Opposite one of the mouths of the Japura, is the little town
of Fonteboa, one hundred miles above Ega. The rivers flow-
ing into the Amazon in this vicinity are numerous, and large,
but their courses are said to be laid down upon maps, with the
The most remote town is Tabatinga, on the northern bank,
opposite the mouth of the Javari. This town contains but a
few hundred inhabitants. Its distance from Para is from six-
teen to eighteen hundred miles, a six months' journey for the
river craft. The country between Tabatinga and the Ma-
deira, was formerly inhabited by a tribe called Solimoens, and
that part of the river between the Negro and Ucayali. is called
by their name.
Beyond the Brazilian frontiers, enter many great branches,
the Napo, the Maranon. or Tunguragua, and the Ucayali.
The latter is considered the main stream, and down its western
branch, the Huallaca, Messrs. Smythe and Lowe came in
1834. starting from Lima. They were in search of a naviga-
ble communication between the two Oceans, but were unsuc-
cessful. Whether such a stream exists, as, by a few miles
portage, would answer this purpose, is problematical. The
country has never been thoroughly explored. The depth of
the Amazon, for a long distance up the Ucayali, is very great ;
at every season navigable for steamboats, unobstructed by
rapids, snags, or sawyers.
The Negro receives, in its course, about forty tributaries,
and, from the healthiness of the region through which it flows,
has long been a favorite resort of settlers. A greater number
of towns are upon its banks, than upon any other branch of
198 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
the Amazon. At nine days' distance from Barra, is the town
of Barcellos, formerly the ca; ital of the District of the Rio
Negro. Eight days beyond this, are rapids, and these are
found in succession, for a distance of twenty days. At forty
days' distance from Barra, is the Casiquiari, the connecting
stream with the Orinoco. Its passage is frequently made, and.
we encountered, several persons who had crossed from An-
Prepare to leave Barra — Difficulty in obtaining men — The mail — Kindness of our
friends — Re-enter the Amazon — Arrive at Serpa — A desertion — Working one's
passage — Disorderly birds — Pass Tabocal — Snake-bird — Marakong Geese — Breeding
place of Herons — Arrive at Villa Nova — The commandante — Visit to the Laki —
Boat building — Military authorities — School — King of the Vultures — Parting wi.h
Sr. Bentos — Pass Obidos — Caracara Eagle — Our crew — Indian name of the Amazon.
After twenty days had passed delightfully, we prepared to
leave the Barra, upon the 28th of July, in the galliota, which
was to return for Doctor Costa, who was probably awaiting us
at Para. Senhor Pinto, the Delegarde. had promised us some
Indians, arid another official had assured us of others; but it
was discovered, when upon the beach, at the last moment, that
both had counted upon the same men. These were three of
the Villa Nova police, who happened to be up, and with our
Gentio, Pedro, and one other whom Senhor Henriquez lent us,
were all we could muster. They were less than half our
complement, and none of them were to go below Villa Nova.
We had letters to the commandante of that place, and he was
to provide men for our further advance, in consideration of our
being the bearers of His Majesty's mail, and of despatches
from Venezuela. This mail proved a great acquisition, and I
would advise all travellers upon the Amazon to secure the
It was three o'clock, in the afternoon, when our friends
gathered upon the beach to bid us adieu. From all of them,
although our acquaintance had been so very brief, we were
sorry to part ; but from Senhor Henriquez, to whom we had
been under a thousand obligations, and from Mr. Bradley and
Mr. Williams, who had so long been our companions, and to
200 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
whom we were the more closely drawn, from our being stran-
gers together, in a strange land, the last embrace was
peculiarly painful. Messrs. McCulIoch and Sawtelle had left
some days previously, for the upper waters of the Rio Negro.
We had said adeos to the Senhora Henriquez an hour before,
and her husband told us, that after our departure from the
house, she had sat down to a quiet little weep on our account.
The kind lady had sent down to the galliota, a store of
meat and chickens, sufficient for some days to come, besides a
large basket of cakes made of tapioca, and a turtle. To
these, she had added half a dozen parrots and parroquets, as
companions of our voyage.
Senhor Pinto had had a large basket made, and in it were
a pair of the beautiful geese of the country. Chenalopix
jubatus (Spix), called Marakongs, and a Yacou Guan, a rare
species, from the country above. With these was also a Red
and Yellow Macaw, who was unusually tame, and promised
to keep the parrots in subjection. Most of our mutuns we
were obliged to leave behind, for want of room ; and a tiny
monkey, which we had bought for a lady friend at home, was
retained by his rascally master, on the plea that he was in a
tree in the yard, and that he could not catch him.
Barra quickly disappeared from view, and before dark, we
were floating down the Amazon, at the rate of about four
miles an hour. There were but two of us, and we were just
enough to fill the cabin comfortably, reserving any spare
corners for our collections of one article and another, and for
any of the respectably behaved parrots. The geese and
their basket, were slung by the side of the cabin ; and the
macaw w r as elevated upon a cross in front of the tolda.
Below, were several logs of beautiful woods ; and a iew bags
of coffee, which some friend had shipped for Santarem. A
few turtles found space to turn themselves, among the rest,
and answered well as ballast. The sail was left behind, as we
had no further use for it, the wind generally blowing strongly
In the middle of the stream, carapanas did not molest us,
and we slept through the night as quietly, as if at home
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 201
There was no danger of encountering snags, or floating logs,
and therefore we kept no watch, but let the boat drift down
Early upon the 29th, we passed the mouth of the Madeira,
and shortly after, the village of our old Tau^ha. A number
of people were upon the hill, and seemed beckoning us to stop,
but we were not desirous of further intimacy with his
highness or any of his subjects. When upon better terms,
the old man had very politely invited us to stop a few days
with him, upon our descent, and had promised us great assist-
ance in collecting birds and shells.
Before daybreak, upon the 30th, we were moored off
Serpa. Here we had hoped to obtain additional men, but
Senhor Manoel Jochin was absent, upon the Madeira, and
excepting one petty officer, and a few soldiers, not a man was
left in the place. Senhora Jochin commiserated our situation,
and offered to enlist a complement of women, but this was too
terrible to think of. She sent us some roasted chickens, eggs,
and pacovas ; and as we had nothing further to detain us, we
cast loose from Serpa.
Meanwhile, two of our policemen had taken their
montaria and deserted, leaving us with but three men. This
number was hardly sufficient to keep the boat in its course,
but, fortunately, there was little wind. A and I took our
turns at the helm, and we soon discovered, that however
romantic the working one's passage down the Amazon might
seem, at a distance, as a hot reality it was exceedingly disa-
The day was delightful, and we floated with such rapidity,
that the quick succession of turns, and points, and islands,
made time pass most pleasantly. We could readily imagine
what a fairy scene the river would be could we pass with
We longed to know what sort of arrangements Noah made
for his .parrots. Thus far, ours had been left pretty much to
their own discretion, and the necessity for an immediate
'' setting up of family government," was hourly more
urgent. The macaw, no wise contented with his elevation,
202 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
had climbed down, and was perpetually quarreling with a
pair of green parrots, and, all the time, so hoarsely screaming,
that we were tempted to twist his neck. The parrots had to
have a pitched battle over every ear of corn, and both they,
and the macaw, had repeatedly flown into the water, where
they but narrowly escaped a grave. There were two green
paroquets and one odd one. prettiest of all, with a yellow
top, and they could not agree any better than their elders.
Yellow-top prided himself on his strength, and considered
himself as good as a dozen green ones, while they resented
his impudence, and scolded away, in ear-piercing tones that
made the cabin an inferno. At other times, they all three
banded togther, and trotting about deck, insulted the parrots
with their impertinences. When a flock of their relations
passed over, the whole family set up a scream, which might
have been heard by all the birds within a league ; and if a
duck flew by, which was very often, our geese would call in
tones like a trumpet, and the guan would shrilly whistle*
When we came to the shore, we were obliged to shut up our
protegees in the tolda, or they were sure to scramble up the
nearest limb, or fly into the water, and swim for the bank.
Really, it would have troubled a Job ; but we could see no
In the afternoon, instead of taking a smaller passage, by
which we had ascended, we continued with the main current,
and passed a collection of houses, known as Tabocal. Each
house stood upon a little point, overhanging the water ; and
the general appearance was neat and pleasing. The people
were all fishermen, and the river, aided by a little patch of
mandioca, supplied all their wants. There were, also, a great
many orange trees, which indicated rather more providence
than usual in the river settlers.
We shot a female Snake-bird, Plotus anhinga, in full plu-
mage. The Indians asserted, very positively, that this was a
different species from that found below, calling it, by way of
distinction, the Carara de Rio Branco. We had no opportu-
nity, afterwards, of verifying their account, and the only speci-
men that we had shot, upon our ascent, was a young male of
A V07AGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 203
this same species. But whether there be one species or two,
the Darter is common every where upon the river, and upon
Marajo. The Surinam Darter is probably quite as abundant,
but from its small size, more easily overlooked. We obtained
one of these at Barra, and, afterwards, saw several in a col-
lection, at Jungcal.
Upon the 31st, as we were stopping in the forest to break-
fast, our geese called up a kindred wild one, which we shot
and preserved. This species I have before mentioned as the
Chenalopix jubatus (Spix). It is more elegant in its move-
ments than any of its family with which we are acquainted,
being small, with long neck and legs, and extremely active.
It walks with stately step, but usually its motion approaches a
run. with outspread wings, and proudly arching neck. It is
not seen at Para, but is common above, and is much prized, by
gentlemen, as ornamental to their yards.
At about ten o'clock, we reached the place, where, in
ascending, we had seen a few Herons' nests. Now, the trees
along the shore, were white with the birds ; and a boat, moored
to the bank, indicated that some persons were collecting eggs.
Taking one of the men, with the montaria, leaving the galliota
to float with the current, we started for the spot. The trees
were of the loftiest height, and in every fork of the branches,
where a nest could be formed, sat the female birds, some, with
their long plumes hanging down, like the first curving of a
tiny cascade ; others, in the ragged plumage of the moulting
season. The male birds were scattered over the tree tops, some,
hoarsely talking to their mates, others, busily engaged in dress-
ing their snowy robes, and others, quietly dozing. The loud
clamor of their mingled voices so deafened us, that we were
obliged to speak to each to each other in screams. The re-
port of the gun made no impression upon the thousands around,
and the marked bird fell unnoticed. Many of the trees were
half denuded of their bark, by the animals who had climbed
up, and the tracks of tigers, large and small, exposed the ma-
rauders. We shot an iguana who was sucking the eggs from
a nest, and the Indians, whom we found, assured us that they
had seen large snakes in the trees on like errands. Dead birds
204 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
strewed the ground, some partly devoured, and others nothing
but skeletons^ upon which the swarms of ants had feasted.
Soiled plumes were in profusion, but ruined beyond redemp-
tion, and we did not care to gather them. There was to be
seen but one pair of the Great Blue Herons, the rest were all
the Great White Herons, A. alba. We shot about a dozen of
these in fullest plumage, and prepared to hasten after our boat.
There were two men collecting eggs, but owing to the size and
loftiness of the trees, and the multitudes of stinging ants which
infested them, they had made but little progress. They had
ascended but one tree, and with a bag and string, had let down
thirty-four eggs, which we bought for twelve cents. They
were blue, and the size of small hens' eggs.
There was another breeding place of this kind opposite
Serpa, and we had intended spending a day within it, had Sr.
Manoel Jochin been at home.
We arrived at Villa Nova, about noon of August 1st, hav-
ing in forty-eight hours made a distance, which required eight
days in ascending. Senhor Bentos invited us tj make his
house our home during our stay, and we, at once, moved into
it, leaving the galliota in charge of Pedro and his comrade.
The commandante was absent, and we were likely to be de-
tained some days, as no spare men were in the place, and sev-
eral other voyagers were in the same predicament as ourselves.
But there was no use in complaining, and come what might,
we were in comfortable quarters.
When we went up, the town was crowded from the sitios
in the vicinity, on account of the festa of St. Juan ; but now,
many of the houses were closed, their inmates being in the
country, for the summer, and every thing bore an aspect of
The next day was Sunday, but there were no services in
the church, the Padre being absent on some of his trading ex-
peditions ; but in the afternoon, there was a procession of the
women and children, preceded by " that same old " drum.
The commandante had returned, and we called to pay
him our respects, and make known our wants. He was a very
young man, and appeared anxious to oblige us by every means
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 205
in his power. He promised to forward us, with twelve men
and a pilot, if we would only wait a few days, until he could
obtain them from the woods. Of course, we could but choose
the only alternative, though our friend's promise enabled us to
bear the infliction with a tolerable grace. He was very indig-
nant at the recital of our desertion by two of his men, and
before he had heard the story out, had ordered them to the ca'a-
boose, with the et ceteras.
This day was memorable, in that we then, for the first
time since we had been in Brazil, saw tomatoes. They were
little and Cew, for the climate is unfavorable to their growth.
Ocra is much more common, and is eaten both in soups and
with boiled dishes. It. seems strange that, directly under the
equator, the Brazilians can live as they do, upon turtle, and
meat, and fish. With all this, they consume vast quantities of
cashaca, which is as bad as New England rum, and sleep, in
the interior towns, about sixteen hours out of the twenty-four.
And yet, we saw very many old men, of sixty and seventy
years, and scarcely ever knew a case of sickness.
Next morning, a large party of us went to the lake. A well
beaten road led to its side, and we found it a pretty sheet of
clear water, in a valley of considerable depression. Large
fields of grass were floating upon the surface, at the will of the
winds, and from them were startled many ducks, Anas autum-
nalis, of which we shot enough for a dinner. They were now
in pairs, just about to commence their breeding season; at
which time, they resort to inland lakes, whither every one, who
can raise a gun and a montaria, follows them* There were
several Indian houses about this lake, and at a distance, were
two men in montarias, engaged in taking Periecu. Every man
of consequence, in Villa Nova, employs an Indian or black in
fishing, selling the surplus of what he himself wants.
The Indians were building one of their largest vessels upon
the beach at Villa Nova, and it was a matter of astonishment
to us, that their carpenters could cut the planks and timbers
with so great facility, and fit them with such precision, using
only a handsaw, and the little adz of the country ; while the
timber was of almost iron hardness, and impenetrable to worms
206 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
or insects. The shape of these river embarcagoens is calculated
for any thing but speed, they being broad, round-bottomed, and
nearly square-bowed. A vessel after the model of the Hudson
river sloops, would ascend the Amazon in half the time now
The little montarias are constructed in a different manner
from Indian canoes in other countries. A log is selected, not
more than a foot in diameter, and properly hollowed, through
as narrow an aperture as will allow of working. This finished,
it is laid over a fire, bottom side up, and the aperture is thus
enlarged as is requisite. The outside is properly modelled,
and upon either gunwale is fastened a strip of board, six inches
in width, meeting at, each end of the boat. They are usually
about fifteen feet in length, and a load of Indians will cross the
river, when the edges of their tottleish craft are scarcely above
the water, and when white men would certainly be overturned.
In such labor as boat building, timber hewing, paddling, and
making of hammocks, the Indians enjoy an uncontested supe-
riority, although in any other, they are worse than useless.
Our boatmen were to have arrived on Tuesday night, but
upon going to the beach, the next morning, we saw the Com-
mandante just pushing off, with eleven men in two boats. His
sergeant, he said, had returned without a man, and he had
ordered him to the calaboose, for disobeying orders ; now he
was going upon our errand himself, and would have the men
at any rate. This Commandante was a noble fellow, and,
although he was acting under orders, yet he entered into our
plans with so much good will, as to make us personally in-
debted to him. He had taken all the workmen from the boat,
and the beach and town were as still as a New England
village on a Sunday.
The poor sergeant, who was in durance for his misfortune,
had the best reason in the world for not bringing the men, the
first and most important point being to find them. This was
no easy matter, when the hunted ones were unwilling Indians,
in their own woods.
The military officers, in these inland towns, are despotic for
evil or good, and according as they are public spirited men,
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 207
does the town prosper. At Serpa, every thing appeared care-
less and disorderly ; at Villa Nova, on the contrary, a change
was evidently taking place for the better, and even since we
had passed up the river, the vicinity had undergone an entire
transformation. The soldiers had been employed in cutting
down the bushes that encroached upon the town, in pulling
down and removing the crazy hovels, in building handsome
fences about the houses of the officers, and in clearing and re-
pairing the road leading to the lake.
Near our house, a school was in daily session, and as the
path to the woods ran directly by it, we took frequent peeps at
the little fellows within. The master was a deputy, a boy of
sixteen, and a flock of children, of all colors, were gathered
around him, all talking or studying at the top of their voices.
Here these future statesmen learned reading, and writing, and
a little arithmetic. The Brazilians, generally, are very neat in
their chirography. The government pays the salary of the
head teacher, or Professor, as he is styled. In Villa Nova, his
salary was one hundred and fifty milrees annually, from which
he deputized as cheaply as possible. This Professor, Senhor
Amarelles, who, by the way, was one of the dignitaries of the
place, concentrating in himself some half a dozen offices, chan-
ced to be in possession of a counterfeit note ; and this, he desired
the shopkeeper of the place to palm off upon us, as we, being
strangers, he said, would not know the difference. Very dubi-
ous morality, for a schoolmaster.
Apropos, there were an unusual number of Vultures about
Villa Nova, the Cathartes atratus of Wilson ; and indeed, this
species is seen more or less, every where upon the river. At
Para, particularly, they are seen by hundreds, about the slaugh-
ter yard, and with them may occasionally be seen a red-headed
species, which we supposed to be the common Turkey Buzzard
of the North, C aura, but which, it has been suggested, may
more probably be the Cathartes Burrovianus of Cassin. Un-
fortunately, we did not preserve specimens of this bird. There
is a third species, the King of the Vultures, Sarcoramphus pa-
pa, or as it is called in Brazil, Urubu-tinga. The termination
tinga, in the Lingoa Geral, means king, and this bird well de-
208 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
serves the name, from its beauty and superior strength. If a
King Vulture makes its appearance where a number of the
other species are collected about carrion, the latter instinctively
give way, and stand meekly around, while their sovereign lei-
surely gorges himself. These birds are not very common upon
the Amazon, and we never had an opportunity of shooting
them, but several times, we observed them circling, in pairs,
over the forest. Senhor Henriquez informed us, at the Barra,
that they were not unfrequently taken alive, particularly if a
putrid snake, of which they are fond, be exposed to them. A
noose is arranged to fall over their heads, and the caught bird is
transformed from a wild marauder, into a peaceable citizen.
At Para, they are highly valued. We saw a pair in perfect
plumage, which were presented to Mr. Norris, and felt nothing
of the disgust inspired by the other, common species. Their
bare necks were beautifully marked with red and black, orange
and yellow, and were surrounded near the base by a ruffle of
feathers. Their breasts were white, and the general color of
the upper parts, was a light ashy gray. These birds were
very active, moving about the yard with a leap rather than a
At last, upon Saturday, the 8th, the Commandante returned
successful, and by five o'clock in the afternoon we were ready to
bid a glad adieu to Villa Nova. During our stay, Senhor Ben-
tos had been perpetually studying ways of obliging us, and, at
last, he overwhelmed us with all kinds of gifts, even to a ham-
mock and towels. He killed a cow for us, packed up two bas-
kets of chickens, sent down a pair of his pet land turtles, a
supply of farinha and oranges, bought or begged a curious par-
rot from the Rio Tapajos, and added to it all the parrots which
he had about the house, and even a basket of half-fledged
doves. Moreover, after we had pushed from the shore, and
descended several miles, a montaria overtook us with one of
the Senhor's house servants, whom he had sent with orders to
accompany us, as far as we wished, and 1o attend to our cook-
ing. When the hour for parting came, we found the good old
man in his hammock, the tears coursing down his cheeks, and
apparently in great distress. He threw his arms about our
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 209
necks, and sobbed like a child, and it was only after an interval
of several minutes, that he let us go, loaded with a hundred
Our men were nearly all of the tribe of Gentios, the best
upon the river. Among them were two free negroes, who
had been admitted to the rights of tribeship. To look after
them, the Commandante sent also a corporal and a sergeant ;
the former of whom was to be pilot, and the latter, a gentle-
man of leisure.
During the preceding night, Pedro had been seduced away
by a white man, who was engaged in fishing, in some of the
lakes. Pedro had seen quite enough of civilization, and longed
for his woods and freedom again. We had found him one of
the best natured fellows in the world, and there was no fault
in him, except his inquisitiveness, which was natural enough.
He was always for trying on our hats, or using our brushes
and combs, or some similar liberty, and there was no use in
attempting to explain the impropriety of the thing.
Our load was now considerably increased. The few turtle
with which Ave had started from Barra, were reinforced to the
number of fifteen, and filled all the space beneath the cabin
floor, and a good share of the tolda. In the bow, some trader
had stowed several pots of balsam, and had had the assurance
to further impose upon our good will, by demanding a receipt
for the same, which he did not get.
Early in the morning of the 10th, we passed Obidos. Sail-
ing as we did, in the middle of the channel, the shores appear-
ed to fine advantage, and yet, we could obtain but a very indif-
ferent idea of the country, or of its productions, at such a dis-
tance. We had hoped to collect a number of birds and plants,
whose localities we had marked in ascending, but we found it
impossible to stop, even could we have recognized the proper
places. We could only take counsel for the future, and re-
solve, that if ever we enjoyed another similar opportunity, we
would not thus defer increasing our collection to a more con-
Towards night, we stopped at the same high point, at which
we had breakfasted, the second morning from Santarem. Now
210 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
we were distant but six hours from that place. Here, by the
deserted house, we found an abundance of oranges and limes.
We shot a Caracara Eagle, Polyborus Braziliensis, a bird in-
teresting to us, from its being also a resident of the United
States. The Indians called it the Caracara Gavion. It is one
of the smaller eagles, and somewhat, allied to the vultures. We
had often seen them, sitting upon trees not far from the water,
and they seemed little shy at our advance. We afterwards saw
them on Marajo, and, undoubtedly, they are common through-
out the whole country. The Hawk tribe of birds was always
exceedingly numerous, many being beautifully marked, and of
all sizes, down to a species smaller than our Sparrow-hawk.
We had shot many varieties, and shot at as many more.
Our men required no urging, and we found a vast change
from the lazy Muras. The sergeant regulated their hours of
labor, and we were unconcerned passengers. They were all
young, and more inclined to frolic than other Indians that we
The sergeant had with him a curious musical instrument.
It consisted of a hollow reed six feet in length, in one end of
which was fitted a smaller joint, extending a few inches. In
this was a blowing hole ; and from the whole affair, our ama-
teur produced sounds much like those of a bugle, playing a
number of simple tunes. The men passed half their time in
singing, and two of them, who seemed to be leaders, often
composed a burden of their own, of the wonders they expected
to see in the city, to which the others joined in chorus.
We inquired of them the name of the Amazon in the In-
dian tongue. It was Para-na-tinga, King of Waters.
Arrive at Santarem — Negro stealing — Pass Monte Alegre — Strong winds — Usefulness of
the Sun-bird — Family government — Reformation in the Paroquets — Low shore — A
Congress — Otters — Enter the Xingu — Gurupa — Leave the Amazon — Assai palms —
A friend lost and a friend gained — Braves — Our water jars — Crossing the bay of
Limoeiro — Seringa trees — A lost day — Town of Santa Anna — Igaripe Merim — Enter
the Moju — Manufacture of rubber shoes — Anatto — Arrival at Para.
We arrived at Santarem about midnight, and anchored off
the house of Captain Hislop, waiting for the morning. The
Captain was absent, but had left orders to place his house at
our disposal. Therefore, without further ceremony, we took
possession, and breakfasted, once more, upon the delightful
Santarem beef. We called upon our friend Senhor Louis, and
were gratified to find that he had not forgotten us, in our ab-
sence, but had made for us a good collection of insects, and
other matters, in which we were interested. .He pressed us
much to protract our stay, as did Mr. William Goiding, an
English resident, who called upon us; but our loss of time at
Villa Nova obliged us to make all speed to Para.
The large black monkey, which had been given us two
months before, and whose society we had anticipated with
mingled emotions, had gone by the board, about a week pre-
vious, " laying down and dying like a man," as the old lady
said. To console our bereavement somewhat, she sent down
to the galliota, a pair of young, noisy, half-fledged parrots,
and a Pavon, or Sun-bird. Senhor Louis added a basket of
young paroquets, and a pair of land turtles, and Mr. Goiding
a pretty maraca duck. Thus we were to have no lack of ob-
jects for sympathy or entertainment, for the remainder of our
212 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
We do not know how near we came to getting into diffi-
culty with some of Santarem's officials, although innocent of
all intention of offending. Senhor Bentos' servant had gone i
ashore, and called upon the sister of the Senhor ; and, proba-
bly, not exactly understanding, herself, why she had been for-
warded in our boat, had" made an unintelligible story of the
whole matter. The Senhora sent us a polite request to visit
her. which we did ; and to her inquiries, we answered as we
could. She was anxious that we should see her brother-in-
law, who could not call upon us, she observed, " because his
neck was so short, and his belly so big.*' and offered to send a
servant with us to the gentleman's house. We could not re-
fuse, and went accordingly. The Senhor was in his hammock,
and it was evident enough, that his sister's expression was
truthful, at least, for he was sorely afflicted with dropsy. He
was a lawyer, and after thanking us for our attention, com-
menced a legal cross-examination of the whys and wherefores
of the wench's case. It was no joke to be suspected of negro
stealing ; but we replied according to our ability, that we had
received no instructions from Senhor Bentos, that the woman
had come on board without our wishing it, that she had stayed
on board without our needing her services, and that we had
brought her to Santarem, because we had not stopped else-
where. Just at this time, came in a gentleman whom we had
known at Para, and after a few words of explanation, we were
bowed out of the house with the profoundest civility. And we
would advise no Amazon voyager to receive in charge negro
cooks, unless their master comes with them.
We left Santarem as the sun was setting, and the men
being favorably inclined, we made rapid speed during the
We passed Monte Alegre upon the afternoon of the next
day, the 12th. It had been our intention to stop, for a few
hours, at this town, for the purpose of obtaining specimens of
the beautiful cuyas there made, and for a ramble upon the
mountain in the vicinity. But a strong breeze drove, us into
the remoter channel, at least fifteen miles from the town, and
we could not cross.
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 213
During the night, a furious wind, accompanied by rain,
prevented our advance. Early upon the 13th, we stopped in a
small bay, for a few hours, until the sea should abate. The
men slung their hammocks under the trees, or stretched them-
selves on logs, as they could find opportunity. For ourselves,
we got out the lines, and fished with decided success. We
also shot a pair of geese, which were called up by our decoys.
At this spot, our cabin was filled with a large fly, the Mu-
tuca, which, in the dry season, is almost as great a pest, by
day, as the carapana by night. But here our Pavon showed
himself useful, walking stealthily about the floor, and picking
off fly after fly, with inevitable aim. Not many days after,
we discovered that he was as fond of cockroaches as of flies ;
and it was then a regular pastime to put him in one of the
lockers, and stir up the game, which we had no difficulty in
finding, nor he in catching.
. Our noisy additions from Santarem made longer endurance
out of the question, and after long threatening, at last we suc-
ceeded in " setting up the family government." A s the first over-
ture thereto, a rope was crossed a few times in the tolda. Upon
this, the arara and the parrots were placed, with the under-
standing that they might look out of the door as much as they
pleased, and be invited thence, at regular hours, to their meals;
but that further liberties were inadmissible and unattainable.
So there they sat, scarcely knowing whether to laugh or cry.
The paroquets were stationed at the afterpart of the cabin, and
the change, which had come over one of the green ones, from
Barra, was amusing. She had been the wildest, and crossest
little body on board, always resenting favors, and biting kindly
hands. But since the lately received young ones had been
put with her, she had assumed all the watchfulness of a
mother, feeding them, taking hold of their bills and shaking
them up, to promote digestion, and generally keeping them in
decent order. She had no more time to gad about deck, but
soberly inclined, with the feathers of her head erect and ma-
tronly, she stuck to her corner, and minded her own business.
Meanwhile, Yellow- top looked on with the calm dignity of a
gentleman of family.
214 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
When opposite Pryinha, we took an igaripe, to avoid the
long circuit and the rough channel, and sailed many miles
upon water, still as a lake. Here were vast numbers of ducks
and ciganas, Opisthocomus cristatus. These latter had lately
nested, and the young birds were in half plumage. They
seemed to be feeding upon pacovas, which grow in abundance
upon the grounds of a deserted sitio ; and as we startled them,
they flew with a loud rustling of their wings, like a commotion
of leaves, hoarsely crying, era, era. The nests of these birds,
are built in low bushes ; and are compactly formed of sticks,
with a lining of leaves. The eggs are three or four, almost
oblong, and of a cream color, marked with blotches of red and
During the night, the wind blew with such strength, as to
drive us towards shore ; and several times, we were among
the carapanas, or running up stream in the romancas, almost
Where we stopped, next morning, the 14th, the whole
region had been overflowed, upon our ascent. Now, the
waters had fallen three feet; and the land was high and dry,
and covered by a beautiful forest. While at this place, extra-
ordinary noises from a flock of parrots, at a little distance,
attracted our attention. At one instant, all was hushed ; then
broke forth a perfect babel of screams, suggestive of the
clamor of a flock of crows and jays about a helpless owl.
It might be, that the parrots had beleaguered one of these
sun-blinded enemies ; or, perhaps, the assembly had met to
canvass some momentous point, the overbearing conduct of
the araras, or the growing insolence of the paroquets. Guns
in hand, we crept silently towards them, and soon discovered
the cause of the excitement. Conspicuously mounted upon a
tree top, stood a large green parrot, while around him, upon
adjacent branches, were collected a host of his compeers.
There was a pause. " O Jesu u," came down from the
tree top ; and a burst of imitative shrieks and vociferous ap-
plause followed. " Ha, ha, ha a," and Poll rolled his
head, and doubled up his body, quite beside himself with
laughter. Tumultuous applause, and encores. " Ha, ha, ha,
A VOYAGE TJP THE RIVER AMAZON. 215
Papaguyri a," and he spread his wings and began to
dance on his perch with emphasis. The effect upon the audi-
tory was prodigious, and all sorts of rapturous contortions
were testifying their intelligence, when some suspicious eye
spied our hiding place ; and the affrighted birds hurried off,
their borrowed notes of joy ludicrously changed to natural
cries of alarm. Complacent Poll ! he had escaped from con-
finement; and with his stock of Portuguese, was founding a
new school among the parrots.
In the afternoon, we entered the igaripe, through which
we had sailed upon the 11th of June, occupying then, the
entire day; but which now required but two hours. Here
we saw a number of Otters. The men called them by some
wild note ; and, immediately, the animals raised their heads
and shoulders above the surface of the water, and listened
without the least apparent fear. It was almost too bad to
spoil their sport; but the opportunity was too tempting, and
straightway, amongst them whizzed a ball. They dived
below, and we saw them no more.
When ascending, we had seen the mountains, upon the
northern side of the river, for several days ; but, as we left
this igaripe, they broke upon us, in one full view, seemingly of
twice the height, and tenfold the beauty, of the mountains we
had seen before.
Next morning, the shore was very low ; scarcely dry from
the receding waters. A mud flat extended for more than a
mile into the river; and the top of the water was spotted by
roots and stumps of trees.
Towards night, we left the Amazon, for a narrow passage,
which led into the River Xingu ; and, for several hours, our
course was in the clear waters of that river, among islands of
small size and surpassing beauty. Just at sunset, as we were
proceeding silently, there came floating over the water, the
rich, flute-like notes of some evening bird. It was exactly the
song of the Wood Thrush, so favorite a bird at the North ; and
every intonation came freighted with memories of home, of
dear ones, far, far away. Even the Indians seemed struck with
an unusual interest, and rested upon their paddles to listen.
216 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
We never had heard it before ; and so strangely in unison
was the melody with the hour and the scene, that it might
well have seemed to them the voice of the " spirit bird."
We passed the small town of Boa Vista. At first, there
seemed to be but one house, from the light j but the noise of
our singing attracted attention, and a dozen torches welcomed
us to shore, if we would.
Here we had first made the acquaintance of the carapanas,
and here we left them for ever. They had clustered around us
in prosperity and adversity, with a constancy that might have
won the hearts of those, who were stronger nerved, or whose
sympathies were more expanded than ours; but we parted
from them in ungrateful exultation.
We reached Gurupa, about noon, of the 16th. Here we
first received tidings of the war between the United States
and Mexico. Seventy thousand volunteers^ our informant said,
had passed over the Mexican frontiers, and were advancing,
by rapid marches, to the borders of Guatemala !
It was three o'clock, the next afternoon, when we stood
upon the cabin-top, for a last look at the main Amazon ; and
as a turn of the Tajipuru, into which we had now entered,
shut it suddenly from our view, we could not but feel a sad-
ness, as when one parts from a loved friend, whom he may
never see more. The months that we had passed upon its
waters, were bright spots in our lives. Familiarity with the
vastness of its size, the majesty, and the beauty of its borders,
the loveliness of its islands, had not weakened our first im-
pressions. He was always the King of Rivers, stretching his
dominions over remotest territories, and receiving tribute from
countless streams; moving onward with solemn and awful
slowness, and going forth to battle with the Sea, in a manner
befitting the loftiness of his designation, and the dignity of his
We were now sailing, in narrow channels, towards Braves;
but by a different route from that of our ascent. A great
number of channels, from the Amazon, intersected our course
through which the water poured furiously. The shores again
bristled with palm trees ; or forests of seringa, and the huts
of the gum-collectors, skirted the stream.
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 217
We gathered grent quantities of assai, and, ourselves
turning artists, we could have it in Para perfection, and could
bid adieu without a thought, to our stores of coffee and other
former indispensables, which were disappearing, one after
another; a sure token, that, by this time, our voyage should
Our motherly Paroquet came upon deck, for an airing, and
embraced the opportunity of a high starting point, and a near
shore, to give us French leave; but, a few hours after, as if to
supply her loss, we picked up a little Musk Duck, not more
than a day or two from the shell. The little fellow was all
alone, his mother having taken flight, at our approach, and his
brothers and sisters, very likely, having fallen prey to some
water enemy. He was wild enough at first, but soon became
extremely familiar, and was the pet of the cabin. Now, he
swims, in matured and beautiful plumage, in one of our New-
York ponds, and, we trust, that when his flesh returns its dust
to dust, it will be when his head is gray, and his years honored,
and without the intervention of Thanksgiving epicure, or
Late in the evening of the 18th, we reached Braves, the
same little old town that we had left it. We went on shore for
our much desired water-jars, and found that the old woman
had fulfilled her promise, for there they stood, glazed and fin-
ished, amongst a row of gaudy brothers, that quite looked them
out of countenance. We offered to pay for them in two milree
notes, which, being at a slight discount, were not received.
Then we offered Spanish dollars, but the jackass of a store-
keeper did not exactly like the appearance of those bright-
looking things, and refused to receive any thing but copper.
We had no copper, and came away, with a hearty, and heartily
expressed wish that the jars might stand upon his shelves till
his head was gray.
Leaving Braves, with the morning tide in a few hours, we
had passed out of the narrow channels, and were fairly crossing
the Bay of Limoeiro, taking what is called the Cameta route,
the usual one for vessels bound down. For three days we
were crossing from one island to another, often twelve and fit-
218 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
teen miles apart, and in what looked more like a sea, than the
mouth of a river. The channel was not very distinct, and our
pilot knew little of his business. Every where were shoal
banks, exposed at low tide, and, many times, we struck upon
the bottom, which, fortunately, was no harder than mud.
The men were growing eager for the city, and soon after
midnight, upon the morning of the 22d, they started, of their
own accord, and for a couple of hours, we went on swimmingly.
But a strong wind arose, and the rising waves tossed our frail
boat somewhat uncomfortably. For some hours, we coasted
along a sand bank, in vain endeavoring to attain a passage to
the island, an hundred yards within, frequently striking with
such violence as to make us fearful that the bottom of the boat
would be stove in. At last, about daybreak, we contrived to
set two poles firmly in the mud, and tying our boat to them,
we were pitched and rolled about, as if in an ocean storm.
The men swam to shore, and caught a breakfast of shrimps,
in pools left by the tide. Towards noon, as the flood came in,
we were able to moor nearer the trees, and beyond reach of
This island was covered by a fine forest, in which were
abundance of Seringa trees, all scarred with wounds. We
made some incisions, with our tresados, and the milk, at once,
oozed out, and dripped in little streams. Its taste was agreea-
ble, much like sweetened cream, which it resembled in color.
These trees were, often, of great height, and from two to three
feet in diameter. The trunks were round and straight, and the
bark of a light color, and not very smooth. The wood was
soft, and we easily cut off a large root, which we brought away
with us. The top of the Seringa is not very wide spreading,
but beautiful from its long leaves, which grow in clusters of
three together, and are of oblong-ovate shape, the centre one
rather more than a foot in length, the others a little shorter.
These leaves are thin, and resemble, in no respect, the leaves
of an East-Indian plant, often seen in our green-houses, and
called the Caoutchouc. There is not, probably, a true Seringa
in the United States. Around these trees were many of the
shells (Ampullarias), used in dipping the gum, and also, some
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 219
of the mud cups, holding about half a gill each, which are fast-
ened to the tree, for the purpose of catching the gum, as it
oozes from the wound. We found also the fruit of the Seringa.
It is ligneous, the size of a large peach, divided into three
lobes, each of which contains a small black nut. These are
eagerly sought by animals, and although the ground was
strewed with fragments, it was with great difficulty that we
found a pair in good preservation. Specimens of all these
things, wood, leaves, shells, cups, and seeds, we secured. The
manufacture of the gum we had not yet seen, but shall describe
The waves somewhat subsiding, and the wind being more
favorable, we started again at two in the afternoon, this being
our last crossing. The point, at which we aimed, was about
fifteen miles distant, and we arrived near the shore, soon after
sundown. But here, we were again entangled in shoals, and
for a long time, were obliged to beat backwards and forwards,
endeavoring to find the channel, with the comfortable feeling
to incite us, that the tide was rapidly running out, and that we
bade fair to be left high and dry in the mud. At last, we
found the right course, and were soon stopping at a house, at
the entrance of an igaripe. Here, we were told that our pas-
sage had been very perilous, and that, only the day before, a
vessel, loaded with cacao, had gone to pieces, upon these same
shoals. We engaged a man to go with us, to pilot our pilot,
and starting once more, pulled all night.
The morning of the 23rd, found us in a narrow stream, and
soon after sunrise, we stopped at a deserted sitio to breakfast.
Here our guide left us, returning in his montaria, as our pilot
declared, that now he perfectly remembered the way. We
sailed on, the streams winding about in every direction, and
passed many sitios, and sugar engenhos, upon the banks. At
eleven o'clock, we came to a very large house, which our pilot
said was that of the Delegarde of Santa Anna, and that now
thattown wasbuttwo turns ahead. We continued on two turns,
and twenty-two turns, but without seeing the lost town, although
our necks were strained, and eyes weak, with the search. As
fortune would have it, a montaria came down the stream, and
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
we learned, to our dismay, that we were in the river Murue
altogether the wrong stream, and that we had deviated from
the main and evident course, soon after breakfast. Moreover
that, had we not chanced to meet this montaria, we might have
gone on, all night, through the forest, without seeing a house,
or a man. Here was the time for all our philosophy. Turn-
ing back, after a few hours, we struck into a cross stream, and
at last, were in the Kixi, the river upon which Santa Anna
stands. It was midnight, when we arrived at this town. It is
an excise port, and every vessel passing, pays a toll often vin-
tens. We were hailed by a guard and ordered to stop. Our
sergeant had put on his uniform, and now went on shore to ad-
just matters; while we remained, viewing the town, as we
could by starlight. Starlight undoubtedly flatters ; still, Santa
Anna is considered the prettiest little town in the province. A
large church, of fine proportions, stands directly by the shore ;
the houses are well proportioned, and good looking; and, front-
ing the stores, are wharves built out into the water. The town
derives much of its importance from its being a port of excise;
but all the surrounding country is thickly settled by sugar plant-
ers and growers of cotton.
The sergeant, returning, reported no duties, as he had told
the officer that we were upon public business, bearing his ma-
Between Santa Anna and the river Mojd, is the igaripe Me-
rim. a short canal cut through by government, for the purpose
of enabling vessels to reach Para more readily, and to avoid a
tedious circuit. Striking into this, we continued down with the
tide, and daybreak of the 24th found us far advanced upon the
Mojil. This is a small stream, and its banks are covered with
flourishing plantations. We passed what appeared to be the
ruins of a village, consisting of a large church, and a few
At ten o'clock, we stopped at an anatto plantation, await-
ing the tide, and here we saw the manufacture of rubber.
The man of the house returned from the forest about noon,
bringing in nearly two gallons of milk, which he had been en-
gaged, since daylight, in collecting from one hundred and twen-
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 221
ty trees, that had been tapped upon the previous morning. This
quantity of milk, he said, would suffice for ten pairs of shoes,
and when he himself attended to the trees, he could collect the
same quantity, every morning, for several months. But his
girls could only collect from seventy trees. The Seringa trees
do not usually grow thickly, and such a number may require a
circuit of several miles. In making the shoes, two girls were
the artistes, in a little thatched hut, which had no opening but
the door. From an inverted water jar, the bottom of which had
been broken out for the purpose, issued a column of dense,
white smoke, from the burning of a species of palm nut, and
which so filled the hut, that we could scarcely see the inmates.
The lasts used were of wood, exported from the United States,
and were smeared with clay, to prevent adhesion. In the leg
of each, was a long stick, serving as a handle. The last was
dipped into the milk, and immediately held over the smoke,
which, without much discoloring, dried the surface at once. It
was then re-dipped, and the process was repeated a dozen
times, until the shoe was of sufficient thickness, care being ta-
ken to give a greater number of coatings to the bottom. The
whole operation from the smearing of the last, to placing the
finished shoe in the sun, required less than five minutes. The
shoe was now of a slightly more yellowish hue than the liquid
milk, but in the course of a few hours, it became of a reddish
brown. After an exposure of twenty-four hours, it is figured,
as we see upon the imported shoes. This is done by the girls,
with small sticks of hard wood, or the needle-like spines of
some of the palms. Stamping has been tried, but without suc-
cess. The shoe is now cut from the last, and is ready for sale :
bringing a price of from ten to twelve vintens, or cents, per
pair. It is a long time before they assume the black hue-
Brought to the city, they are assorted, the best being laid aside
for exportation as shoes, the others as waste rubber. The pro-
per designation for this latter, in which are included bottles,
sheets, and any other form excepting selected shoes, is boragha,
and this is shipped in bulk. There are a number ofpersonsin
the city, who make a business of filling shoes with rice chaff and
hay, previous to their being packed in boxes. They are gen-
222 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
erally fashioned into better shape by being stretched upon lasts
after they arrive at their final destination. By far the greater
part of the rubber exported from Para, goes to the United
States, the European consumption being comparatively very
At this place, we found the largest and finest oranges that
we had ever seen, and, for about twelve cents, purchased a
Anatto is a common product in the vicinity of Para, but in
no place is it cultivated to much extent. The plant is the
Bixa Orellana. It is a shrub, growing much like the lilac, and
bears a dark leaf, similarly shaped, but much larger. The
clusters of fruit pods contain numerous small red seeds, which
yield the substance known as the anatto of commerce, and
which is used extensively in coloring cheese. It is difficult to
obtain the anatto in a pure state. Its color so much resembles
that of red clay, as to render adulteration easy and profitable.
Late in the evening we arrived at Jaguary, the place of
the late Baron Pombo, who was the greatest proprietor in the
province, owning more than one thousand slaves, and cultiva-
ting an immense territory. The village consists almost entirely
of the residences of those dependent upon the estate ; and the
bright light of torches, and the noise of various factories and
mills, indicated that labor was exerting itself by night as well
as by day. We moored close under the Baron's house, a
large, palace-like edifice.
Starting once more, at two in the morning, of the 25th, by
three we had crossed the Acara, and by daybreak, were within
sight of the city. The music of the band, the ringing of the
bells, and the distant hum, came towards us like water to
thirsty souls. The men broke out into a joyous song, and with
a lively striking of their paddles, beating time to their quick
music, they sped us past canoe after canoe, that, in easy indo-
lence, was coursing like ourselves.
At eight o'clock, we were once more upon the Punto da
Pedras, the spot we had left one hundred days before, receiv-
ing the warm congratulations of friends, and the curious atten-
tions of a motley crowd, who had collected to gaze at the stran-
gers from the Sertoen.
Our Lady of Nazareth — Nazare legend — Procession — Commencement of the festa — A
walk to Nazare — Gambling — Services in the chapel — An interesting incident.
Shortly after our return, commenced the festival of Na-
This is the grand holiday of Para, when business is sus-
pended, and citizens have no care but pleasure. Our Lady of
Nazareth seems to have received proper honors of old, in the
mother country, and the faithful colonists still acknowledged
her maternal kindness by enshrining her as their most popular
tutelary. Did trouble afflict, or sorrow bow down ; did danger
menace, or were dangers escaped, our blessed Lady was ever
considered the friend and benefactress. Many are the tradi-
tions of her miraculous interpositions and wonderful cures, all
tending to prove how well she deserves the exalted place she
holds in the hearts of all good citizens.
Befitting so beneficent a Saint is the beautiful spot de-
voted to her worship ; a neat chapel within an ever ver-
dant forest-embowered meadow. Quite lately, a number of
graceful cottages have been erected about the area, mostly by
wealthy persons in the city, who prefer to live here during the
festa. At this time, numerous temporary constructions also
line the adjacent road on either side, or find room about the
square. The time usually chosen, by long custom, is the last
of September, or early in October, when the increasing moon
throws her splendors over the scene, and the dry season has
fairly ushered in the unclouded, brilliant nights; when the air
is redolent of perfume, and delicious coolness invites from the
closeness of the city.
224 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
Associated with the kind offices of our Lady is an ancient
legend, deemed worthy an annual recollection. It is of a knight,
who, when rushing over an unnoticed precipice in pursuit of a
deer, was saved from destruction by the timely apparition of
our Lady, which caused the deflection of his affrighted horse.
It was about four in the afternoon, when the fierce sun's
heat began to lose its power, that the procession which was
to commence the festa by escorting our Lady to her chapel,
formed in the Largo da Palacio. Amid the din of music, the
discharge of rockets, and the vociferous applause of a vast
crowd of blacks, it set forth. We had accepted the kind offer
of a friend, and were watching from a balcony in the Rua da
Cadeira. As the line approached, first and most conspicuous
was a car drawn by oxen, in whieh were stationed boys having
a supply of rockets, which at little intervals they discharged.
Nothing so pleases a Brazilian as noise, especially the noise of
gunpowder; and not only are rockets crackling night and day
upon every public occasion, but the citizens are wont to cele-
brate their own private rejoicings by the same token.
Directly behind this car came another, similarly drawn,
upon which was a rude representation of the before mentioned
legend ;— a monster of a man upon a caricature of a horse,
being about to leap into space, while a canvass virgin upon the
edge of the rock, or rather in the middle of the cart, prevented
the catastrophe. Behind her was an exquisite little deer, no
canvass abomination, but a darling of a thing, just from the
forest, wild and startled. The poor thing could not compre-
hend the confusion, and would gladly have escaped, but the
cord in its collar forced it back, and at last seeming resigned to
its fate, it lay motionless upon its bed of hay.
Next followed the carriages, and therein, the pictures of
complacence, sat the civic dignitaries and civic worthies. As
locomotion is the sole object, every thing that can contribute
thereto, from the crazy old tumble-down vehicle of the con-
quest, through every description of improvement, until the
year '46, is pressed into the service. Most noticeable in this
part of the procession is the President, a fine looking man,
whose attention is constantly occupied by his fair friends in
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVEK. AMAZON. 225
the balconies. Here and there, is a foreign consul, conspicu-
ous among whom is the official of her Majesty of England, a
venerable, soldierly figure, one of Wellington's campaigners and
countrymen, and occupying decidedly the most dashing turn-
out of the day. Last of the carriages, comes a queer looking
vehicle, known by no conventional name, but four-wheeled,
and resembling the after part of an antique hackney coach,
cut in two vertically and crosswise. In this sits a grave per-
sonage, holding in his hand the symbol of our Lady, to all
appearance, a goodly sized wax doll, in full dress, magnifi-
cent in gaudy ribbons, and glowing with tinsel. Nossa
Senhora is the darling of the crowd, and her attractions
have lost none of their freshness during her year's seclusion.
Now come the equestrians, whose chargers do credit to
their research, if not to the country which produced them ;
now and then one being a graceful animal, but the greater
number, raw boned, broken-winded, down-hearted, and bat-
bitten. After these, come black-robed priests, students in
uniform, and genteel pedestrians, and, last of all, the military
in force, preceded by their fine band.
Passing through the more important streets, the long line
turns its course towards Nazare, and here our Lady is depo-
sited upon the altar of her chapel, and the festa has fairly
The festa is of nine days' duration, and service is performed
in the chapel every evening. For the first two or three days,
the people are scarcely in the spirit of the thing, but before
the novena is ended, the city is deserted, and its crowds are at
home in Nazare. Let us take a sunset walk, and see what is
curious in a Para festival. The brightness of day has passed
with scarcely an interval, into the little inferior brilliance of
the full moon. The trades, that blow more freshly at night,
unite with the imperceptibly falling dew in exhilarating after
the day's fatigues. Lofty trees, and dense shrubs throw over
us their rapidly varying shadows, and from their flower homes,
the cicadas, and other night insects, chant their homage to the
blessed Lady, in a vesper hymn. Grave matrons are passing
along, attended by servants bearing prayer books ; and com-
226 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
fortable looking old gentlemen, who have forgotten age in the
universal gayety, are rivalling young beaux in the favors of
laughing girls, whose uncovered tresses are flashing in the
moonlight, and from whose lips the sweet tones of their beau-
tiful language fall on the ear like music. Indians move
silently about in strong contrast to the groups of blacks, the
same noisy, careless beings, as elsewhere. Numbers of
wenches, picturesquely attired, are bearing trays of doces upon
their heads ; and children, of every age, add their share of
life and glee to the scene.
Suddenly we leave the road, and the square is before us.
The air is brilliant with torch lights ; crowds of indistinct,
moving figures are crossing in every direction, and the noisy
rattle, of a hundred gambling tables drowns all other sounds.
These tables are as remote from the chapel as possible, and
are licensed by the authorities. Upon each table are marked
three colors, black, red, and yellow. The proprietor holds in
his hand a large box, in which are a number of correspond-
ingly colored balls. Whoever is inclined, stakes his money
upon either color ; a little door opens in the side of the box, a
ball comes forth, and he has lost or won; probably the
former, for the chances are two to one against him. But
adverse chances make no difference, and crowds are constantly
collected about the tables, mostly of little boys who have
staked their last vinten, and who watch the exit of the ball
with outstretched necks, starting eyes, and all the excitement
of inveterate gamblers. It is amusing to watch these scenes.
The complacent proprietor, very likely a black boy, grinning
so knowingly at the increasing pile before him, and at the
eagerness of his dupes, is evidently in sunshine. The poor
little fellow who has lost his all, turns away silently, with de-
jected look, and tearful eyes. But let him win. A proud sat-
isfaction brightens up his face, he looks around upon his
unsuccessful mates with an air of most provoking triumph, and
slowly rakes the coppers towards him, as though they could
not be long enough in coming. Sometimes a pretty Indian
girl hesitatingly stakes her treasure, timidly hoping that she
may yet be the fortunate possessor of some coveted trinket :
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 227
but, alas, the divinities here are heedless of black eyes and
raven hair, and she turns away disappointed. At another
stand, nothing less than paper is the etiquette, and some of
Para's bucks seem inclined to break the bank or lose their last
Scattered every where over the square, are the stands of
the doce girls, who are doing a profitable business. Some of
the cottages round about are fitted up with a tempting display
of fancy wares; others are used as cafes, or as exhibition
rooms for various shows ; and from others come the sounds of
music and dancing. Ladies and gentlemen are promenading
about, waiting the commencement of the ceremonies in the
In all this crowd there is perfect order, and no drunken
brawl or noisy tumult demands the police.
At eight o'clock, service is notified by the ascent of rockets,
and those who care, attend the chapel. Within are the more
fashionable ladies, and a few gentlemen ; without, in the large
open portico, are seated upon the floor the black and Indian
women, dressed in white, with flowers in their hair, and
profusely scented with vanilla. The congregation is still, the
ceremonies proceed. Suddenly a sweet chant is commenced
by the choir, one of the beautiful Portuguese hymns. The
chorus is caught by the crowd in the portico. An old
negress rises upon her knees, and acts the part of chorister
and guide ; in a voice almost drowning the sweet tones about
her, calling successively upon all the saints of the calendar.
u Hail to thee, Santo Tornasio. Hail to thee, Santo Igna-
cio." Certainly, she has a good memory. There is something
indescribably beautiful in the tones of these singers. Men,
women, and children, all join in the same high key, and the
effect is wild and startling.
The service is over, and the amusements succeeding
encroach far into the small hours of morning. Balls and
parties are given in the cottages, or beneath the broad
spreading trees, and the light hearted and happy, dance, until
they are weary, to the music of the guitar, or their own songs.
While we were in Para, an interesting incident occurred
228 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
to diversify the festival. A few weeks before, a Portuguese
bark had left Para for Lisbon. One day out of the river, in
the early morning-, a squall struck her, threw her upon her
beam's end, and she was capsized before a single passenger
could escape from the cabin. The mate and seven seamen
were thrown unhurt into the water. The small boat was like-
wise cast loose, and this they succeeded in attaining. They
were in the ocean, without one morsel to eat, or one drop of
water. For several weary days they pulled, and worn out by-
hunger and thirst, they laid them down to die. They had
implored the aid of our Lady of Nazareth, had made her a
thousand vows, but she would not save them. One rises for
one more last look ; land is in view. Hope rouses their wasted
frames, and they reach Cayenne in safety. The inhabitants
succor them, and send them to Para, with the boat, whither
they arrive during the festa, bringing the first accounts of the
disaster. The enthusiasm of the people was extreme. An
immense procession was formed. The boat was borne upon
the shoulders of the saved men, and deposited with rejoicings
in the portico of our Lady's chapel, another memorial of her
Leave Para for Marajo — Voyage — Cape Magoary — Islands — A morning scene— Arrive
at Jungcal — A breakfast — Birds — Vicinity of Jungcal.
The far famed Island of Marajo, a little world of itself,
differing from aught else in its appearance, its productions, its
birds and its animals, had long been to us an object of the
most intense curiosity. Did we inquire the whereabouts of
any curious animal of the dealer in the Rua, almost in-
variably the answer was, Marajo ; or the locum tenens of
some equally curious bird, of the wenches on the Punto da
Pedras, of course, it was Marajo. Could not we catch a
glimpse of an alligator 1 Yes, thousands on Marajo. And
monster snakes and tigers ? Always on Marajo. One would
have thought this island a general depot, a sort of Pantologi-
cal Institute, where any curiosity might be satisfied by the
going. Ever since we had been in the country, we had heard
of it, had seen, occasionally, the distant tree tops, and had
even coasted along its upper side in the galliota ; but our long-
ings for a face to face acquaintance, and an exploration of
its wonders, seemed likely to remain ungratified. And yet, we
had been upon the eve of seeing Marajo for the last thirty
days, thanks to Mr. Campbell's kindness. But the festa of our
Lady of Nazareth, and the slow and easy habits of the people
had kept us waiting from day to day, until the Undine's arrival,
and expected speedy return, bade us bend our thoughts home-
But our intention was fulfilled, after all. At an hour's
notice, we left Para, about nine o'clock, one pleasant evening
230 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
in September, dropping down with the ebbing tide. Our des-
tination was Jungcal, upon the remote north-west corner of the
island. The distance is not very great; a clipper schooner
would call it a holiday excursion, and a little steamer, which
could mock at the trades and the flood tides, would run it off
in a pleasant morning. As it is, and alas, that it should be
so, the Jungcal passengers think themselves fortunate, if the
winds and tides of a week speed them to the destined point.
Our craft was a cattle boat, a little schooner without a keel ;
with the least possible quarter-deck, and scanty turnings-in for
two, below. A year before, we should have quarreled with
the rats and cockroaches, but our recent experience had endued
us with a most comfortable coolness in our manner of taking
such small inconveniences. The crew were half-breeds, about
a dozen in all, men and boys. The captain was a mulatto,
not over twenty years of age, intelligent and sufficiently atten-
tive. Had it not been for these attractive qualities, we should
have grumbled unconscionably at a speculation of his, where-
by, to deposit an Indian woman, who had ventured on board
as passenger, in the steerage, he had lost an entire day in
crossing to the Marajo side and back again. One would
naturally suppose, that once upon the island shore, we could
have coasted around Cape Magoary without re-crossing. But
the river is beset with shoals, and no careful survey has yet
sufficed to put these mariners at their ease.
Early upon the fourth morning, we struck across from Point
Taipu, sixty miles only below Para, and soon were running
towards Cape Magoary with no guide but the stars, beyond
view of land on either side. Our careful captain himself took
the helm, and as we neared the shoals a man was constantly
heaving the lead. The channel now was usually but one and
two fathoms deep, and the brackish taste of the water was
soon lost in the overpowering current which set in from the
main Amazon. Beyond Cape Magoary are a number of small
islands, the names of three of which are the Ship, the Bow,
and the Flycatcher, or Navio, Arco, and Bentivee ; all unin-
habited by man, and affording secure homes to countless
water birds. The isle of the Bow is overrun with wild hogs,
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 231
the increase of a tame herd once wrecked upon a shoal near
by. Here the captain offered to land us for an afternoon's
sport, but the wind was fresh, and we were too near Jungcal
for any such enticements. Late in the evening, we crossed
the bar, passing into a small igaripe, and, in a few minutes,
were moored off the cattle-pen. Once more we slept quietly,
undisturbed by surfs and tossings.
The morning dawned in all the splendor of a tropical sum-
mer, and long before the sun's rays had gilded the tree tops,
we were luxuriating in the fresh, invigorating breeze, and ad-
miring the beautiful vicinity, that wanted not even the sun-
light to enchant us. The ebbing tide had left exposed a large
flat, extending an eighth of a mile opposite the cattle-pen, and
lost, at perhaps, twice that distance, in the woods above. Here
and there a tiny stream crept slowly down, as if loth to leave
the beautiful quiet island for the rough waters beyond. Di-
rectly at our side, an impervious cane-brake shot up its tas-
seled spires, rustling in the wind ; while in every other
direction, was piled the dark, massive foliage of tropical shrubs
and trees. Above, and beyond reach of harm, a number of
Great Blue Herons were stalking solemnly about, and near
them, a company of Spoonbills and White Egrets displayed to
us their delicate tints, in the increasing light. Opposite, a con-
stantly gathering flock of large White Herons were intently
watching our movements, as though balancing in their own
minds the chances of danger, with the prospect of no break-
fast, and a hungry family at home.
But the loveliest views will tire, in time, and despite the
interest we felt in the position of things about us, when hour
after hour passed away, and the gentle twilight became the
fierce morning heat, while the scarce perceptibly ebbing tide
would in no wise speed its movements in our behalf, we began
to feel somewhat like prisoners, in durance. So, to vary the
scene, we ventured, by the kindly aid of some tottering poles,
to gain the shore, and started to explore a little, landward.
But the country soon opened out into a campo, and the baked
clay, uncovered with verdure, and deeply indented by the
hoofs of cattle, made walking out of the question. Therefore,
232 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
we were fain to turn back again, and perched upon a fence
top, attempted resignation.
When the tide did turn, it made amends for all sluggish-
ness ; dashing furiously in. with a seven mile velocity, instantly
flooding the shoals, and filling the channel. Quickly we were
in the boat, and hurrying towards Jungcal, unaided by the
paddle, save in keeping the course. The birds which had been
feeding had gathered themselves hastily up, and now sat
perched upon the overhanging trees, gazing down, as if they
did not half comprehend the mystery of such a sudden wateri-
ness, although daily, for their lives long, they had thus been
shortened of their morning's meal. A pair of King Vultures,
Urubutingas, were sailing overhead, conspicuous for their
white shoulders and glossy plumage. Two miles, quickly
sped, brought us to Jungcal, a small settlement of some half
dozen houses, residences of the overseers and cattle drivers.
We were greeted as old friends, and being just in time for
breakfast, sat down be not startled, companions of our
heretofore wanderings, who have heard us discourse upon the
virtues of aboriginal diet, and partaken with us of monkey
and sloth, parrots, cow-fishes, and land turtles sat down
to a steak not of the exquisitely flavored victim of the
Fulton Market, nor of the delicious colt-flesh of the Patagonian
gourmand ; but to one more exquisite, more delicious. Ah !
ye young alligators, now comprehended we why chary Nature
had encased ye in triple mail.
One of our objects in visiting Jungcal, was to see a rookery
of Ibises and Spoonbills in the neighborhood; but as the day
had so far advanced, we determined to postpone an excursion
thither until the morning. Meanwhile, we amused ourselves
in exploring the vicinity, and in looking over the beautiful col-
lection of bird-skins, belonging to Mr. Hauxwell, an English
collector, whom we were agreeably surprised to meet here. It
was interesting to find so many of the water-birds of the United
States, common here also, and to recognize in the herons, the
rails, the gallinules, the ibises, the shore-birds, et multi alii, so
many old acquaintances, in whose society we had, long ago,
whiled away many a delighted hour.
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 233
Upon one side of the houses, the bamboos formed a dense
hedge, but elsewhere, in every direction, stretched a vast
campo, unmarked by tree or bush, save where the fringed
stream but partially redeemed the general character. A few
horses were feeding about, the last remnant of vast herds that
once roamed the island, but which have disappeared, of late
years, by a contagious pestilence ; and which, judging from
the specimens we saw, were any thing but the fiery coursers,
described as herding on the, perhaps, more congenial plains, to
the North and South.
Upon the margin of a small pond, close by, a number of
Scarlet Ibises were feeding, so tame, from all absence of molesta-
tion, as to allow of near approach. Terra-terras were scream-
ing about, and, at a distance, stalked a pair of huge white
birds, known in the island as Tuyuyus, Mycteria Americana.
We were exceedingly desirous to obtain one of these birds,
but they were wary, and kept far beyond even rifle-shot.
They are not uncommon upon the campos, and are occa-
sionally seen domesticated in the city. A young one, which
we had previously seen in the garden of the Palace, stood
between four and five feet from the ground. When full grown,
the Tuyuyu is upwards of six feet in height. Its neck is bare
of feathers, and for two thirds of its length from above, black :
the remainder is of a dark red. Its bill is about fifteen inches
long, and by its habit of striking the mandibles together, a loud,
clattering noise is produced. About every house were pens
in which were scores of young ibises and spoonbills, which
had been brought from the rookery, for the purpose of selling
in Para. They readily became tame, and well repaid the care
of the negroes. Brought up for the same purpose, were
parrots, paroquets, blackbirds, larks, and egrets ; besides a
mischievous coati, who was every where but where he should
have been. Towards night, vast flocks of various water-birds
came flying inland, attracting attention by their gaudy coloring
and noisy flight.
Description of Marajo — Cattle — Tigers — Alligators — Snakes — Antas — Wild ducks —
Scarlet Ibises — Roseate Spoonbills — Wood Ibises — Other birds — Island of Mixiana —
Indian burial places — Caviana — Macapa — Bore or Pororoca — Leave Jungcal for the
rookery — A sail among the trees — Alligators — The rookery — Return — An alligator's
nest — Adieu to Jungcal — Violence of the tide — Loading cattle — Voyage to Para.
The length of the Island of Marajo is about one hundred
and. twenty miles ; its breadth averages from sixty to eighty.
Much of it is well wooded, but far the larger part is campo,
covered during the wet season with coarse, tall grass. At that
time, the whole island is little more than a labyrinth of lakes.
In summer, the superabundant waters are drained by numer-
ous igaripes, and, rain rarely falling, this watery surface is
exchanged, for a garden of beauty, in some parts, and into a
desert, upon the campos. The population of the island is
large, consisting mostly of Indians and half-breeds. Some of
the towns, however, are of considerable size, but most of the
inhabitants are scattered along the coast and upon the igaripes.
Four hundred thousand cattle roam over the campos, belong-
ing to various proprietors, the different herds being dis-
tinguishable by peculiar marks, or brands. The estate of
which Jungcal forms part, numbers thirty thousand cattle, and
a great number of Indians and blacks are employed in their
care, keeping them together, driving them up at proper seasons
to be marked, and collecting such as are wanted for exporta-
tion to the city. These men become extremely attached to
this wild life, and are a fearless, hardy race, admirable horse-
men, and expert with the lasso. When horses abounded, it
was customary to drive the marketable cattle towards the
Para side of the island, whence transmission to the city was
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 235
easy; bat, at present, they are shipped from Jungcal, or other
places still more remote, thus causing great waste of time,
and ruining the quality of the beef. The cattle are of good
size, but not equal to those of the South. Great numbers of
young cattle, and old ones unable to keep up with the herd,
are destroyed by the " tigres," which name is applied without
much precision to different species. The black tiger is seen
occasionally; the Felis on9a is most common of all. Neither
of these is known to attack man ; and in their pursuit, the
islanders exhibit great fearlessness and address, never hesita-
ting to attack them when driven to a tree, armed with a
tresado fastened to a pole. At other times, they overtake
them upon the campos, running them down with horses, and
lassoing them. Once thus caught, the tiger has no escape.
He is quickly strangled, his legs are tied, and, thrown over the
horse's back like a sack of meal, he arrives at the hut of his
captor. Here a dash of water revives him, but his efforts to
escape are futile. An Onca taken in this manner, was brought
to Para for Mr. Campbell. Fie was strangled both on being
taken on and off the canoe, and after being revived, was
marched upon his fore legs through the streets, two men hold-
ing each a hind leg, and others guiding him by the collar upon
his neck. This animal was afterwards brought to New-York
by Capt. Appleton. Frequently, young tigers are exposed for
sale in the market, and one of these was our fellow passenger in
the Undine, upon our return. We read in works of Natural His-
tory, most alarming accounts of the fierceness of the Brazilian
felines, but as a Spanish gentleman remarked to us, of the
Jaguar, " those were ancient Jaguars, they are not so bad
The cattle have another enemy in the alligators, who seem
to have concentrated in Marajo from the whole region of the
Amazon, swarming in the lagoons and igaripes. There are two
species of these animals, one having a sharp mouth, the other
a round one. The former grow to the length of about seven
feet only, and are called Jacare-tingas, or King Jacares. This
is the kind eaten. The other species is much larger, often be-
ing seen twenty feet in length, and we were assured by Mr,
236 A V07AGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
Campbell, that skeletons of individuals upwards of twenty-five
feet in length are sometimes encountered.
In the inner lakes, towards the close of the rainy season,
myriads of ducks breed in the rushes, and here the alligators
swarm to the banquet of young birds. Should an adventurous
sportsman succeed in arriving at one of these places, he has
but a poor chance of bagging many from the flocks around him,
for the alligators are upon the alert, and the instant a wounded
bird strikes the water, they rush en masse for the poor victim,
clambering over one another, and crashing their huge jaws
upon each others' heads in their hasty seizure. Late in the wet
season, they lay their eggs, and soon after, instead of becoming
torpid, as would be the case in a colder climate, bury themselves
in the mud, which, hardening about them, effectually restrains
their locomotion, until the next rains allow their dislodgment.
The inhabitants universally believe, that the alligator is para-
lyzed with fear at the sight of a tiger, and will suffer that an-
imal to eat off its tail, without making resistance. The story
is complimentary to the tiger, at all events, for the tail of the
alligator is the only part in esteem by epicures.
Snakes spend their summers in the same confinement as al-
ligators, and upon their issuing forth, are said to be very nu-
merous, and often of great size. It was from Marajo, that the
anaconda, now or lately exhibited at the American Museum,
was brought, and this fellow, as well as the " Twin Caffres,"
we frequently saw at Para before their transportation to New-
York. The largest snake known, of late years, at Para, was
twenty-two feet in length. He was captured upon Fernando's
Island, near the city, by the negroes, with a lasso, as he laid
upon the shore, basking in the sun. He had long infested the
estate, carrying off, one time with another, about forty pigs.
Even after being captured and dragged a long way to the
house, he coiled his tail around a too curious pig, that we may
suppose, was gloating over his fallen enemy, and would have
made a forty-one of him, had not the exertions of the blacks
forced him to let go his hold.
We never heard an instance of snakes attacking man, and
the negroes do not fear an encounter with the largest. Snake
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 237
hunts, doubtless, have exciting interest, as well as others less
ignoble. As elsewhere remarked, these reptiles are very fre-
quently kept about houses in the city, and may be often pur-
chased in the market, nicely coiled in earthen jars. Southey
records an old story to this effect: " that when the anaconda
has swallowed an anta, or any of the larger animals, it is una-
ble to digest it, and lies down in the sun till the carcass putri-
fies, and the urubus, or vultures, come and devour both it and
the snake, picking the flesh of the snake to the back-bone, till
only back-bone, head and tail be left ; then the flesh grows
again over this living skeleton, and the snake becomes as active
as before." The march of knowledge in this department is cer-
tainly onward ; now, gentlemen in Para believe no more, than
that the whole belly and stomach fall out, trap-door like, soon
to heal again, and ready for a repetition. In either case, the
poor snake is much to be pitied.
The Antas, or Tapirs, are animals not often found upon the
main-land, but occasionally observed on Marajo, along the iga-
ripes. They are, by many, considered as amphibious, but they
live upon the land, merely resorting to the water for bathing.
In size, they resemble a calf of a few months, and when old,
are of a brown color. They are remarkable for a proboscis-
like nose. When tamed, they are extremely docile, and are
allowed to roam freely, being taught to return home regularly.
One which we saw in this state was small, and marked with
longitudinal spots of a light color.
The large Ant Eater is also a dweller on Marajo.
The Ducks breeding upon this island are of two kinds,
the common Musk Duck, and the Maracas (Anas autumnalis).
The latter are most numerous. By the month of September,
the young are well grown, and the old birds are debilitated
from loss of their wing quills. Then, particularly upon
Igaripe Grande, on the Para side, people collect the ducks in
great flocks, driving them to a convenient place, and, catching
them, salt them down by the canoe load.
Of the water birds frequenting Marajo, the Scarlet Ibis,
and the Roseate Spoonbill, excel all in gorgeousness and
delicate coloring. The Ibises are of the brightest scarlet,
238 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
excepting the black tips of the wings, and their appearance,
when, in serried ranks, the length of a mile, they first come to
their breeding place, is described, as one might well imagine
it, as wonderfully magnificent. They appear, in this manner,
in the month of June, and, at once, set about the forming of
their nests. At this time, they are in perfect plumage, but
soon commencing to moult, they lose somewhat of their
beauty. The young birds are ready to depart in December,
and then, the whole family disappear from the vicinity,
excepting a few individuals here and there. In Maranham,
the breeding season is in February, and, in that month, Capt.
Appleton found them there in vast numbers. Sometimes, but
rarely, they are observed in the Gulf districts of the United
States, but they have never been known to breed there. The
nests are made of small sticks, loosely formed. From two to
three eggs are laid, greenish in color, and spotted with light
The Roseate Spoonbills do not migrate as do the Ibises,
being quite common upon the whole coast, and sometimes
being seen far up the Amazon in summer. The delicate
roseate of their general coloring, with the rich, lustrous
carmine of their shoulders, and breast tufts, as well as the
singular formation of their bills, render them objects of great
interest as well as beauty. They are seen fishing for shrimps
and other small matters along the edges of the water, or in
the mud left exposed by the ebbing tide, and as they eat,
grind the food in their mandibles moved laterally. As well as
the Ibis, they are exceedingly shy at every season, except
when breeding. They breed in the same places with the
Scarlet Ibises and the Wood Ibises, and the nests of the three
resemble each other in every respect, but in size. The eggs
of the Spoonbill are from three to four, large, white, and
much spotted with brown. The birds are called by the
Brazilians, Colhereiros, meaning spoonbill. The name of
the Ibis is Guerra, signifying warrior.
Another of the northern birds here breeding, is the Wood
Ibis, Tantalus loculator, much larger than either of the above.
Its general plumage is white, the tips of the wings, and
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 239
the tail, being a purplish black. By the natives, it is called
the Jabiru, which name in Ornithologies is more generally
applied to the Tuyuyu. It lays two or three eggs, of a dirty
Besides these, the Glossy Ibis, Ibis falcinellus ; the Great
Blue Heron, A. herodias ; Night Heron, A. nycticorax ; Great
American Egret, A. alba; Snowy Heron. A. candidissima;
Least Bittern, A. exilis ; Purple Gallinule, Black-necked Stilt,
and perhaps others common in the United States breed upon
Marajo ; as well as a variety of the same family peculiar to
We found here, also, one of the rarer land-birds of
Audubon, the Fork-tailed Fly-catcher, Muscicapa forficatus,
and were fortunate enough to discover its nest. This was
near the water, in a low tree, and was composed of grass
and the down of some plant. The eggs were two in num-
ber, white, and spotted with brown, at the larger end more
particularly, resembling, except in size, those of our King-
Generally, the land-birds upon Marajo are of different
varieties from those found about Para, and upon the Main.
The Chatterers are not seen there ; the Toco Toucan takes the
place of the Red-billed; the Cayenne Manikin, whose head and
shoulders are bright red, is as common as the White-capped
elsewhere ; Black-backed Yellow Orioles, Icterus jububu, are
extremely abundant; as are also the Mango Humming Bird,
T. mango ; the Ruby and Topaz, T. moschitus ; Swallow-
tailed, T. forficatus; Black-breasted, T. gramineus; and many
other varieties of this family.
Opposite Jungcai, and in view from the shore, is the Island
of Mixiana, twenty-five miles in length, and resembling Marajo
in its characteristics. This is entirely the property of Srs.
Campbell and Pombo, the proprietors of the Jungcai estate
and here they have many thousand cattle.
Upon Mixiana are Indian burial places, and from these
are disinterred urns of great size, containing bones and va-
rious trinkets. Unfortunately, our time would not allow us
to visit that island, or we should have been at the pains of
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
exploring these interesting remains. We saw, however, one
of the jars at Jungcal. Similar burying places are found in
various parts of Brazil and j> araguay, and the ancient method
of interment in most of the tribes was the same.
Beyond Mixiana, is the much larger island of Caviana,
and many other islands, of considerable size, are strewn over
the mouth of the river.
Upon the opposite shore is the town of Macapa, said to
contain the finest fort in Brazil. The situation is considered
unhealthy, and foreigners rarely visit there. Sailing from
Para to Macapa, one passes more than forty islands. Between
Macapa and Marajo is seen in its perfection the singular
phenomenon, known as the Bore, or Pororoca, when the flood
tide, at the instant of its turning, rolls back the waters of the
river in an almost perpendicular wall. Condamine, many
years ago, described the sea as " coming in, in a promon-
tory from twelve to fifteen feet high, with prodigious rapidity,
and sweeping away every thing in its course." No one
knows of such terrible phenomena now-a-days. We inquired
of several persons accustomed to piloting in the main channel,
and of others long resident in the city and familiar with the
wonders of the province, but none of them had known the
water to rise above the height of five feet, even at the spring
tides. A canoe of any size is in no danger, her bow bein^
turned to the flood.
Early in the morning, we accompanied Mr. Hauxwell to a
tree, upon which a pair of Tuyuyus were building their nest.
A nimble Indian climbed the tree, but the nest, was unfinished.
It was thirty feet from the ground, composed of large sticks;
and looked from below, big enough for the man to have curled
We left Jungcal for the rookery, about nine o'clock, with the
flood tide, in a montaria, with a couple of guides. They were
men of the estate, and looked upon the adventure as most
lucky for them. Making pleasure subservient to business
they carried their harpoons for fish or alligators, and baskets
for young birds. Immediately after leaving the landing, we
startled a Cigana from her nest, in the low bushes by the
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 241
water. The stream grew more and more narrow, winding
in every direction. Tops of tall trees met over our heads,
countless flowers filled the air with perfume, and the light and
shade played beautifully among the green masses ofifoliage.
Upon the trees were perched birds of every variety, who
flew before our advance, at short distances, in constantly
increasing numbers, or curving, passed directly over us ; in
either case, affording marks too tempting to be neglected.
Upon some topmost limb, the Great Blue Heron, elsewhere
shyest of the shy, sat curiously gazing at our approach. Near
him, but lower down, Herons, white as driven snow; some,
tall and majestic as river naiads, others, small and the pictures
of grace, were quietly dozing after their morning's meal. Mul-
titudes of Night Herons, or Tacares, with a loud quack, flew
startled by ; and, now and then, but rarely, a Boatbill, with
his long plumed crest, would scud before us. The Snake-
bird peered out his long neck, to discover the cause of the
general commotion ; the Cormorant dove from the dry stick,
where he had slept away the last hour, into the water below;
swimming with head scarcely visible above the surface, and
a ready eye to a treacherous shot. Ducks rose hurriedly, and
whistled away; Curassows flew timidly to the deeper wood;
and fearless Hawks, of many varieties, looked boldly on the
With a noise like a falling log, an alligator would splash
into the water from the bank, where she had been sunning
herself, or looking after her nest ; and often, at once, half a
dozen huge, unsightly heads were lifted above the surface,
offering a fair, but not always practicable mark for a half-
ounce ball. Occasionally, a whole family of little alligators,
varying in length from six to eighteen inches, would start out
of the leaves instinctively, some, plumping themselves in, as
the examples of their respected mammas had taught them ;
others, in their youthful innocence, standing gazing at us,
from the top of the bank ; but with more than youthful cun-
ning, ready also to plump in at the least motion towards
raising a gun. At frequent intervals, the beaten track from
the water, disclosed the path of some of these monsters ; and
242 A VOYAGE U? THE RIVER AMAZON.
a pile of leaves, just seen through the trees, showed clearly
the object of their terrestrial excursions.
As we neared the rookery, after a two hours' pull, the birds
were more* and more abundant; and the alligators more and
more bold, scarcely minding our approach, and only learn-
ing caution, by repeated applications of leaden balls. The
frequent proximity of the King Jacares, offered many oppor-
tunities to the harpooner in the bow ; but we learned, by his
ill success, that these autocrats cared very little for punches in
Turning suddenly, we left the bordering forest for a cane-
brake, and instantly broke full upon the rookery. In this part,
the Scarlet Ibises, particularly, had nested; and the bended
tops of the canes were covered by half-grown birds in their
black plumage, interspersed with many in all the brilliance of
age. They seemed little troubled at our approach, merely
flying a few steps forward, or crossing the stream. Continu-
ing on, the flocks increased in size ; the red birds became
more frequent, the canes bent beneath their weight like reeds.
Wood Ibises and Spoonbills, began to be numerous. The
nests of all these, filled every place where a nest could be
placed ; and the young Ibises, covered with down, and stand-
ing like so many Storks, their heavy bills resting upon their
breasts and uttering no cry, were in strong contrast to the well-
feathered Spoonbills, beautiful in their slightly roseate dress,
and noisily loquacious. Passing still onward, w r e emerged
from the canes into trees ; and here the White Herons had
made their homes, clouding the leaves with white. Inter-
spersed with these, were all the varieties mentioned before,
having finished their nesting, and being actively engaged in
rearing their young. We had sailed above a mile, and at
last, seeming to have approached the terminus, we turned and
went below a short distance to a convenient landing, where
we could pursue our objects at leisure. The boatmen, at once,
made their dispositions for basketing the young birds; and
soon, by shaking them down from the nests, and following
them up, had collected as many as they desired. We wan-
dered a long distance back, but the nests seemed, if any thing,
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 243
more plentiful, and the swarms of young more dense. At the
sound of the gun, the birds in the immediate vicinity, rose in a
tumultuous flock ; and the old ones circled round and round,
as though puzzled to understand the danger they instinctively
feared. In this way, they offered beautiful marks to our skill ;
and the shore, near the canoe, was soon strewed with fine
specimens. Evidently, this place had been for many years,
the haunt of these birds. Not a blade of grass could be seen;
the ground was smooth and hard, and covered with excre-
Occasionally, and not very rarely, a young heedless would
topple into the water, from which the noses of alligators con-
stantly protruded. Buzzards, also, upon the bank, sunned
themselves and seemed at home ; and not unfrequently, a
hungry Hawk would swoop down, and away with his prey
We were amused by the manner of feeding the young Scar-
let Ibises. In the throat of the old female bird, directly at the
base of the lower mandible, is an enlargement of the skin,
forming a pouch, which is capable of containing about the
bulk of a small hen's egg. She would return from fishing on
the shallows, with this pouch distended by tiny fish, and allowed
her young to pick them out with their bills.
It was late when the tide turned, and we hastened away,
with the canoe loaded to overflowing. The birds seemed now
collecting for the night. Squads of bright-colored ones were
returning from the shore, and old and young were settling on
the canes, over the water, like swallows in August. An alli-
gator gave us an opportunity for a last shot, and the air was
black with the clouds of birds that arose, shrieking and crying.
I never conceived of a cloud of birds before.
On our way down, we discovered the nest of a Socco, the
Tiger Bittern, close by the water. The old bird observed our
motions for an ascent with indifference, when, up through the
feathers of her wing, peered the long neck of a little fellow,
intimating that we might as well be off; for it was of eggs we
Soon after, we arrived at the spot, which we had marked
244 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
in the morning, where an alligator had made her nest, and sans
ceremonie, proceeded to rifle it of its riches. The nest was a
pile of leaves and rubbish, nearly three feet in height, and
about four in diameter, resembling a cock of hay. We could
not imagine how or where the animal had collected such a
heap, but so it was ; and, deep down, very near the surface of
the ground, from an even bed, came forth egg after egg, until
forty-five had tolerably filled our basket. We kept a good
look-out that the old one did not surprise us in our burglary,
having read divers authentic tales of the watchful assiduity of
the mother. But nothing appeared to alarm us, and we con-
cluded, that, like others of the lizard family, alligators are
merely anxious to make their nests, and trust to the fermented
heat, and to Providence, for hatching and providing for their
brood of monsters. These eggs are four inches in length, and
oblong ; being covered with a crust rather than a shell. They
are eaten, and our friends at the house would have persuaded
us to test the virtues of an alligator omelette, but we respect-
fully declined, deeming our reputations sufficiently secured by
a breakfast on the beast itself.
Ave Maria had sounded when we reached Jungcal, and
the satisfaction we felt at the close of this, the greatest day's
sporting we had ever known, amply compensated for all our
fatigue. The boat in which we came being obliged to return
immediately, we were under the necessity of leaving this de-
lightful spot, where we could have been content to while away
a month. But one such day as we had passed, repaid us for
the inconveniences of a week upon the water.
We bade adieu to our good friends in the morning, taking
the last of the ebb to arrive at the vessel. But when quite
near, the tide turned, the flood rushed in, and we were very
likely to revisit Jungcal. However, by running in shore, and
claiming assistance of the overhanging canes, after a weary
pull, we reached our goal, almost inclined to credit M. Con-
The crew were loading with the cattle, which had been
driven down the day before, and were now confined in the
Ven. This was enclosed on every side ; but that toward the
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 245
water. A dozen men stood inside and out, some holding the
lasso, others ready to pull, the instant the animal was caught,
and others, still, were armed with sharp goads, with which to
force him onward. Some of the cattle showed good Castilian
spirit, and their rage was several times with difficulty eluded
by a leap to the friendly fence. Once in the water, their
struggles were over. A rope was fastened about their horns,
and thus they were hoisted up until they were above the hole
in the deck made to receive them. Below, they were secured
to side beams, and were scarcely allowed room to move.
Putting out of the igaripe. for two days we were beating to
windward, anchoring half the time, and being tossed about in
a way to make us curse all cattle boats. The poor victims in
the hold fared worse than we, deprived of food and drink,
pitched back and forth with every motion, and bruised all over
by repeated falls upon the rough floor. We lost all gusto for
Para beef. From Cape Magoary we had a fine run, reaching
Para upon the third night.
Want of emigrants and laborers — Inducements to settlers, and disadvantages — Citizen-
ship — Import and export duties and taxes — Want of circulating medium — Embarrass-
ments of government — Capabilities of the Province — Effect of climate on the whites
— The blacks — Inducements to the formation of a steamboat company — Seasons —
Temperature — Health — Superior advantages to invalids — Farewell to Para — Voyage
The want of emigrants from other countries, and of an ef-
ficient laboring class among its population, are the great obsta-
cles to the permanent welfare of Northern Brazil. It never
was the policy of Portugal to encourage emigration excepting
from her own territory, and although, by the indomitable en-
terprise of her sons, she secured to herself the finest Empire
in the world, yet for want of other assistance, this Empire is
impoverished, and the millions of square miles that should now
be teeming with wealth, are entirely unproductive. With the
nobler qualities of the old Portuguese, to which popular his-
tory has never done justice, was mingled a narrowness of mind,
that was natural enough in the subjects of an old and priest-rid-
den monarchy. The Brazilians have not entirely thrown off this
prejudice of their ancestors, and still entertain somewhat of the
old jealousy of foreigners, but very naturally, in a newly libe-
rated government, they dislike the Portuguese above all others.
Much of the wealth of the country is in the hands of the Por-
tuguese, who, coming over when young, with habits of shrewd-
ness, and economy, almost always accumulate fortunes. The
Brazilians are no match for them in these qualities, and there-
fore hate them most cordially. For the same reason, this feel-
ing is continually excited, although in a lesser degree, against
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 247
other foreigners, but more in some parts of the Empire than
others, and probably, as little in Para as any where.
The Brazilian government offers great inducements to emi-
grants, and yet these are more than neutralized by disabilities
and present disadvantages. Land is free of cost, and upon
any vacant section, a man may settle, with the proprietorship
of, at least, a square league, and as much more as he really
requires. Moreover, any new improvement in tools, or ma-
chinery, may be introduced free of duties.
The ground is easily cleared, as the roots of the trees do
not extend far beneath the surface, and the efforts of man are
further aided by causes attendant upon the clime. The soil is
of the greatest fertility, and sugar cane, rice, coffee, anatto,
cotton, cacao, and a hundred other products, richly repay the
labor bestowed upon their cultivation ; while from the forests
are obtained gums and drugs, all yielding a revenue. Almost
every thing grows to hand that man requires ; living is cheap,
and the climate delightful.
On the other hand, the counteracting obstacles are very
great. Although the government professes every desire for
the accession of foreigners, it denies them the rights of citizen-
ship, excepting under peculiar circumstances, which, of course,
obliges them to labor under legal disabilities.
Again, import duties are extravagantly high, and articles
of furniture, tools, or machinery, which cannot be manufac-
tured in the country without great expense, if at all, are taxed
so highly as to be really prohibited ; although, as before stated,
new inventions and improvements, are introduced from abroad
But a greater drawback, by far, is the export duty, the
most stupid, indefensible measure that could be conceived ; a
withering curse to all enterprise, and a more effectual hinder-
ance to the prosperity of Brazil, than a weak government,
dishonest officials, a debased currency, and all other influences
together. Brazilian statesmen (?) imagine that the export tax
comes directly from the pocket of the foreign purchaser,
whereas, it recoils upon the producer, and its effect is to make
the price paid for labor so low, as to prohibit cultivation.
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
There is scarcely a product raised in the two countries, in
which Brazil could not undersell the United States in every
market of the world, were it not for this tax. Its cotton and
rice, even during the past year, have been shipped from Para
to New- York. Its tobacco is preferable to the best Virginian,
and can be raised in inexhaustible quantities.
The imposition upon the producer is also increased by the
tithe required for the church, and, between the two, the lower
classes are under a burden, which occasionally becomes insup-
portable, and which is the undoubted cause of the general and
increasing disaffection toward the government, and of the revo-
lutions which have heretofore broken out, and which are always
feared. Rubber shoes, which are principally made by the low
whites and Indians, pay three taxes to the treasury before they
leave the country, until the first price is nearly doubled. Not
a basket of oranges, or of assai, comes to market, untaxed.
Not only do products exported to foreign countries pay du-
ties, but even from one Brazilian port to another, and from one
inland town to another. A few bags of coffee, which were
sent by us from the Barra of the Rio Negro to Santarem, paid
duties at the latter place. . Chili hats, coming from Peru, pay
duties at the frontier, again at Para, and again at Rio Janeiro.
No country in the world could bear up under such intolerable
exactions, and Brazilian statesmen may thank their own folly
if the Empire be dismembered.
Another obstacle, severely felt, is the want of a circulating
medium. The Brazilian currency consists almost entirely of
copper, and paper issued by the government. The smallest
value is one ree, corresponding to one half mill in our currency,
and the smallest coin is of ten rees : the largest of eighty, or
four vintens. One thousand rees make a milree, the smallest
paper note, about equal in value to a half dollar. There are
various issues, from one milree to one thousand. Excepting in
the city, and upon the remote frontiers, gold and silver will not
circulate. The amount of bills, in the province of Para, is
never adequate to the wants of the people, and their tendency
is always to the city. Furthermore, by the operations of go-
vernment, even the little currency that is floating, is constantly
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 249
fluctuating in value. Upon one pretext or another, they call
in notes of a certain denomination, at short notice, and under
a heavy discount. Such was the case with the two milree
notes, when we were upon the river. Not long since, it was
discovered that the Treasurer at Rio Janeiro, had sent to the
provinces a vast amount of money for the payment of the
troops, which was certainly struck off the original plate, but
differed from the true emission by the absence of a letter or
word. It was a fraud of the Treasurer, unless, as many be-
lieved, sanctioned by the government. These bills were scat-
tered to the remotest corners of the Empire, when suddenly
appeared an order, recalling the whole, within a certain lim-
ited time. If this were a speculation of the government, it
was, probably, a profitable one, though the country may not
have received the benefit of it. But a few years since, one
milree was nearly or quite equivalent in value to one dollar in
The truth is, that the Brazilian government is a weak gov-
ernment. It is too republican to be a monarchy, and too mo-
narchical to be a republic. If it were decidedly one or the
other, there would be greater strength and greater freedom ;
but now, it has neither the bulwark of an aristocracy, nor the
affection of the people. It is forced to depend entirely upon a
regular army for its existence, and is kept in a state of constant
alarm by disturbances in its provinces, or invasions of its fron-
tiers ; it is bowed beneath a heavy foreign debt, and obliged
to use all kinds of expedients, not to make advance, but to
retain its position.
Were Para a free and independent State, its vast wilds
would, in a few years, be peopled by millions, and its products
would flood the world. It contains an area of 950,000 square
miles, nearly half the area of the United States and all its ter-
ritories. Its soil is every where of exhaustless fertility, and
but an exceedingly small portion of it is unfitted for cultivation.
The noblest rivers of the world open communication with its
remotest parts, and lie spread like net-work over its surface. It
is estimated that the Amazon and its tributaries present an ag-
gregate navigable length of from 40,000 to 50,000 miles. The
250 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
whole territory is as much superior, in every respect, to the val-
ley of the Mississippi, as the valley of the Mississippi is to that
of the Hudson.
But besides the hinderances to prosperity on the part of the
government, the settler has other disadvantages to struggle
against, one of which being the deficiency of means of trans-
portation throughout the interior, may be but temporary ; the
other is the effect of the climate. It is not to be denied, that
although the climate is singularly healthy, its constant heat is
enervating, and that natives of colder regions, after a few years'
residence, have not that bodily strength requisite to daily and
protracted toil. It is only in the early morning, and late in the
afternoon, that white men can labor in the open air ; but where
a white would inevitably receive a sun-stroke, a negro labors
with uncovered head, without injury or exhaustion. The one
has capacity to direct, and the other the ability to perform, and
it is difficult to conceive how the resources of Brazil can ever
be successfully developed, without a co-operation of the two
races. The blacks need not be slaves, they would answer
every purpose, in being apprentices after the British West
Brazilian slavery, as it is, is little more than slavery in name.
Prejudice against color is scarcely known, and no white thinks
less of his wife because her ancestors came from over the wa-
ter. Half the officers of the government and of the army, are
of mingled blood ; and padres, and lawyers, and doctors of the
intensest hue, are none the less esteemed. The educated
blacks are just as talented, and just as gentlemanly as the
whites, and in repeated instances, we received favors from
them, which we were happy to acknowledge.
Efforts have been made for the establishment of steamboats
upon the Amazon, but from causes unforeseen, and not inhe-
rent in the enterprise, they have failed. A few years since,
the government granted a monopoly of the river, for a term of
years, to a citizen of Para. A company was formed, and a
small steamboat brought out, but from lack of confidence in the
individual referred to, the enterprise progressed no further. It
is said, the government are ready to renew their offers, and
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 251
there can be no question but that an efficient company would
meet success. Such a company should have sufficient capital to
enable it to purchase its own freight in the interior, at least, in
the beginning of the enterprise. For. at first, the novelty of
the thing, and the general dislike to innovation, would prevent
the co-operation of the people at large. Time and success
would soon wear away their prejudices. The present method
of transportation is so tedious and expensive, that a steamboat
would destroy all opposition from the river craft, and by ap-
pointing proper agents in the several towns, and making the
upper depot at the Barra of the Rio Negro, constant and profit-
able freights would always be secured.
A boat built of the wood of the country, would be prefera-
ble, on account of its not being affected by boring worms in the
water, or by insects ; but perhaps the former might be avoided
The navigation of the river is perfectly clear, excepting in
the Bays of Marajo and Limoeiro, and surveys in these, would
no doubt discover convenient channels. There are neither
snags, nor sawyers ; the only thing of the kind being floating
cedars, easily guarded against.
If a company were formed, much of the stock would be ta-
ken in Para, and the enterprise would receive every encourage-
ment from the citizens. Sooner or later, the Amazon must be
the channel of a vast commerce, and Para must be, from the
advantages of its situation, one of the largest cities of the
It remains further to speak of the climate of Para, and of
the extraordinary advantages which it presents to invalids and
The seasons are, properly speaking, but two, the rainy
and the dry. The former commences about the 1st of Jan-
uary, and continues until July. During the first part of this
time, rain pours unremittingly ; then, for a season, the greater
part of the afternoon and night, and, at last, perhaps only in a
daily shower. At this time, also, the trade-winds blow with
less regularity than in summer.
Throughout the dry season, more or less rain falls weekly,
252 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
but strong trades blow, heavy dews distil, and the climate is
perfectly delightful. This season commences, in the interior,
one or two months earlier than at Para, and, during its con-
tinuance, rain falls more rarely. At this time, a passage up
the river is speedy, and a descent exceedingly tedious. Senhor
Henriquez told us, that he was once sixty days in coming from
the Rio Negro to Para, in a small boat, on account of the
winds. Thunder and lightning rarely accompany the rains,
and any thing approaching a tornado is almost unknown.
It seems singular, that directly under the equator, where,
through a clear atmosphere, the sun strikes vertically upon
the earth, the heat should be less oppressive than in the
latitude of New York. This is owing to several causes. The
days are but twelve hours long, and the earth does not become
so intensely heated as where they are sixteen. The vast
surface of water constantly cools the air by its evaporation, and
removes the irksome dryness, that in temperate regions, renders
a less degree of heat insupportable. And finally, the constant
winds blowing from the sea, refresh and invigorate the system.
According to observations made by Mr. Norris, during the
months of June, July and August, at the hours of 6 A. M., 3
P. M., and 8 P. M., the .mean temperature for June was 79° 98'
Far. ; the highest 86°, lowest 77° : for July, the mean was 80°
54' ; highest 86° lowest 77° : for August, the mean was 80° 92' ;
highest 86°, lowest 77°. The mean for the three months was
80° 48', and the variation but 9°. I do not believe that another
spot upon the face of the earth can show a like result. This
heat we never felt to be oppressive, except when dining in
state, in black cloth coats. Moreover we were never incom-
moded by heat at night, and invariably slept under a
blanket. The reason for this, and also for wearing flannel
next the skin, at all times, is, that in a very few weeks, a
person becomes so acclimated as to be sensitive to a very slight
degree of variation in the temperature.
This equality of temperature renders the climate of Para
peculiarly favorable to health. There is no kind of epidemic
disease; people live to a good old age, and probably the
average of life is as high as in the city of New- York.
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 253
Such a climate is invaluable to invalids, particularly those
suffering from pulmonary complaints. Two hundred years
ago, Sir William Temple wrote after this manner upon the
Brazilian climate generally: " I know not whether there may
be anything in the climate of Brazil more propitious to health,
than in other countries ; for besides what was observed among
the natives upon the first European discoveries, I remember
Don Francisco de Mello, a Portugal embassador in England,
told me, it was frequent in his country for men spent with age
or other decays, so as they could not hope for above a year or
two of life, to ship themselves away in a Brazil fleet, and upon
their arrival there, to go on to a great length, sometimes of
twenty or thirty years, or more, by the force of that vigor they
received with that remove. Whether such an effect might
grow from the air, or the fruits of that climate, or by approach-
ing nearer the sun, which is the fountain of life and heat, when
their natural heat was so far decayed ; or whether the piecing
out of an old man's life were worth the pains, I cannot say."
This is more true of the climate of Para, than of any other part
Multitudes of persons from the Northern States, now visit
the south, in search of health, or spend their winters in the
West India Islands, at great expense, and little gain, who in
Para, could reside for comparatively nothing, with a certainty
of recovery. The passage out is low, from fifty to seventy-five
dollars, and living in the city is cheap. At present, there are
no houses for public accommodation, but until the influx of
strangers imperatively required one, the citizens and the
foreign residents would receive the comers with open arms.
And Brazilian hospitality is not hospitality only in name ; it is
the outflowing of a noble and generous warmheartedness that
would redeem a thousand failings. But if individuals prefer,
houses are always to be obtained and servants always to be
hired, and they may live as they please.
The novelty and beauty of the country, as well as the
luxury of the climate, afford sufficient inducements to the in-
valid for seeking both health and pleasure, in Para, while its
trees and flowers, birds, shells and insects, offer exhaustless
254 A VOYAGE UP THE RTVER AMAZON.
resources for diverting the mind, and promoting the bodily ex-
ercise necessary to a recovery of health.
Good medical care is always present ; the physicians of the
city being graduates from European universities. Moreover,
the medicines peculiar to the country are of great number and
efficacy, and there is scarcely a form of disease for which
Nature has not a remedy at hand. An instance in point came
directly under our observation, the gentleman who was the
patient being for several weeks with us, at the house of Mr.
Norris. He had gone out from the United States with his
system so filled with mercury, that his mouth was ulcerated,
his teeth dropping out, and his joints so affected that every
motion produced agony. He was recommended, at Para, to
try a remedy called by the Indians Mu-lu-re, which is the
juice of a creeping plant found plentifully throughout the
country. In three weeks, our friend was perfectly cured, and
is now in the United States, a well man. We heard of similar
astonishing cures from other individuals who had been the
subjects, and every one in Para is acquainted with the virtues
of the medicine. Why it has not been known abroad, it is
difficult to say.
There is a wide field for medical inquiry yet left in the
Brazilian forests, and one that demands to be explored.
It may be that some naturalist or sportsman may be incited
by the recent accounts of adventures on the Amazon, to un-
dertake an expedition thither for research or pastime, and as
we ourselves were unable to gain proper information with
regard to the articles necessary to an outfit, a few words upon
that subject will, perhaps, not be useless. In the way of
clothes, half a dozen suits of light material, some of which are
calculated for forest wear, are necessary, and may be obtained
ready made, and at low prices, at any of our Southern clothing
stores; as well as check and flannel shirts. A black dress
suit is required by Para etiquette. A naturalist's implements
must also be taken out, as well as powder, fine shot, arsenic,
flower presses, and paper and wooden boxes for insects and
other objects. Many of these things cannot be obtained at
all, or only at extravagant prices and of poor quality, at Para.
A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON. 255
As for medicines, we took out a well filled chest, and ex-
cepting for one or two doses of calomel, never opened it on
our own account. Hartshorn is more valuable than aught
else, being effectual against the stings of all insects.
Hammocks are always to be had, but blankets are not, and
if a man intends to stretch himself upon hard boards, a rubber
pillow is rather softer than a gun-case. We also took out a
variety of rubber articles. The clothes' bags were useful, and
the light cloaks answered in the absence of something better,
but as a general thing, the articles were all humbugs. And most
especially are rubber boots, which ought to have been known
to the Inquisition. A far better article for a cloak is the
Spanish poncho, a square cloth, with a hole in the middle, for
the neck. Made of heavy cloth, and lined with baize, no rain
since the deluge could wet it through, and it always answers
for bed or pillow.
As to ignorance of the language, that is a matter of no
consequence. The Portuguese is intimately allied to the
Spanish, and is one of the most easily acquired languages in
the world. A stranger readily learns the necessary phrases,
when he is compelled to do so, and a few weeks' attention
renders him sufficiently an adept for all practical purposes.
Not only are there many foreigners in Para who speak English,
but it is very generally understood by the Brazilian and Por-
tuguese merchants of the city.
It was a delightful morning in the latter part of October,
when, in the good bark Undine, we bade adieu to Para. We
had come from winter into summer, and were now returning
to winter again, and although the thoughts of home were
pleasant, it was very hard to part with kind friends, and to say
a -farewell, that was to be perpetual, to this land of sunshine,
of birds and flowers.
Our passage was long and tedious. For days, we lay be-
calmed beneath torrid burnings, and when winds did come,
they blew in furious gales. But we had wherewithal to amuse
ourselves, and upon sundry occasions, enlivened the mornings
by spearing a dolphin, or by hooking a shark. The parrots
and monkeys, too, exerted themselves in our behalf. Some
256 A VOYAGE UP THE RIVER AMAZON.
of the parrots died, and the prized gift of Senhor Bentos de-
liberately dove from one of the upper yards, into the deep, deep
sea. The paroquets bore the voyage bravely, housed in a
flannel-covered basket, and yellow-top now chatters as mer-
rily as in his far distant home, by the Rio Negro. The little
dnck that we picked up from the water, under the christian
designation of Paddy, swims proudly in an Ulster lake, and
discourses to the marakong geese who keep him company, of
the sudden changes of life, and the virtue of contentment.
But the poor macaw, who had been our faithful companion
from the remotest point of our travels, and who had made a
triumphant entry into New- York streets, covered in a blanket,
and declaiming lustily to passers-by, ventured, one cold night,
to the outer yard, and perished the victim of his imprudence.
WORKS BY M. MICHELET.
Published by D. Appleton Sf Co., 200 Broadway
HISTORY OF FRANCE,
FROM THE EARLIEST PERIOD.
TRANSLATED BY G. H. SMITH, F. G. S.
Two handsome 8vo, volumes.
" So graphic, so life-like, so dramatic a historian as Michelet, we know nut where
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cy. It is a masterly work, and the publishers are doing the reading public a service
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One handsome 12mo. volume. Paper cover 75 cts. Cloth $1.
" M. Michelet, in his Hidtory of the Roman Republic, first introduces the reader
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reader the desire to investigate the ancient history of this wonderful land. He next
imparts the results of the latest investigations, entire, deeply studied and clearly
arranged, and saves the uneducated reader the trouble of investigating the sources,
while he giv^s to the more educated mind an impetus to study the literature from
which he gives very accurate quotations in his notes. He describes the peculiarities
and the life of the Roman people in a masterly manner, and he fascinates every
reader, by the brilliant clearness and vivid freshness of his style, while he shows
himself a good historian, by the justness and impartiality with which he relates and
GATHERED FROM HIS OWN WRITINGS
By M. Michelet: translated by G. H. Smith, F. G. S.
One handsome volume, 12mo. Cloth 75 cts., Paper cover 50 ct9.
'Hi is work is not an historical romance, founded on the lifo of Martin Luther,
!.-»'. is it a history of the establishment of Lutheranism. It is simply a biography,
c-««posed of a series of translations. Excepting that portion of it which has refer-
er"«w to his childhood, and which Luther himself has left undescribed, the translator
has rarely found occasion to make his own appearance on the scene. *****
It is almost invariably Luther himself who speaks, almost invariably Luther related
by Luther. — Extract from M. Michelefs Preface.
TRANSLATED BY G. H. SMITH, F. G. S.
One neat volume, 12mo. Cloth 62 cts., Paper cover 38 cts.
" This book is more than a book ; it is myself, therefore it belongs to you. * *
Receive thou this book of " The People," because it is you — because it is I. * *
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