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This book is due on the date indicated 
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as posted at the Circulation Desk. 


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^'20 1980 




Picturesque Sketches 








'K the following pages I have endeavoured to give, in 
a series of picturesque sketches, a general view of 
the natural history as well as of the physical 
appearance of North and South America. 

I have first described the features of the country ; then its 
vegetation ; and next the wild men and the brute creatures 
which inhabit it. However, I have not been bound by any 
strict rule in that respect, as my object has been to produce a 
work calculated to interest the family circle rather than one 
of scientific pretensions. I have endeavoured to impart, in an 
attractive manner, information about its physical geography, 
mineral riches, vegetable productions, and the appearance and 
customs of the human beino-s inhabitini^ it. But the chief 
portion of the work is devoted to accounts of the brute crea- 
tion, from the huge stag and buftalo to the minute humming- 
l)ird and persevering termites, — introduced not in a formal 
way, but as they appear to the naturalist-explorer, to the 
traveller in search of adventures, or to the sportsman; with 


descriptions of their mode of life, and of how they are found, 
hunted, or trapped. I have described in the same way some 
of the most remarkable trees and plants; and from the ac- 
counts I have given I trust that a knowledge may be obtained 
of the way they are cultivated, and how their produce is 
prepared and employed. Thus I hope that, with the aid of 
the numerous illustrations in the work, a correct idea will be 
gained of the wilder and more romantic portions of the great 
Western World. 






Northern region — Mountains — Great rivers — Lakes — Aboriginal inhabitants : The red men of 
the wilds — Indian wigwams — Appearance of the Indians — Wood Indians — The Prairie 
Indians — Religious Belief — American antiquities 13 




The first zone — The second zone: The Fertile Belt of Rupert's Land — Animal Life on the 
Fertile Belt — The third zone : The Dismal Swamp in the United States — Fossil footmarks 
of birds — The Big-Bone Lick — The fourth zone 38 



The prairies — The barren plains in the Far West — The Rocky Mountains — Parks — The sage 
cock — Winter scene among the Rocky Mountains — The horned frog — Fur-trappers of the 
Far West— Wonders of Nature : Mammoth Cave of Kentucky — Oil springs— Mammoth 
trees and caverns of Calaveras 49 


Interesting facts — The various animals met with — The feathered tribes 76 


The moose, or elk — The cariboo, or reindeer — The wapiti, or Canadian stag — The karjacou, 

viii CONTEXTS. . 

or Virginian deer — Tlie antelope — The bighorn, or mountain sheep — The bison, commonly 
called the buffalo in America 81 


The beaver — The musk-rat, or musquash — Prairie-dogs — The porcupine 128 



The black bear — The grizzly bear — Wolves^Lynxes— The wolverene, or glutton — The rac- 
coon — The agouara, or crab-eating raccoon — The ermine — The pine-marten — The otter — • 
The skunk — The pekan, or wood-shock — The mink — Marsupials, or pouched animals: 
The Virginian or common opossum 150 



The bald or white-headed eagle — The wild turkey — The ocellated turkey — The canvas-back 
duck — The summer duck — The pinnated grouse, or prairie hen — The ruffed grouse, or 
American pheasant — Passenger-pigeons — Humming-birds — The cow-bird — The blue-bird 
— The snow-bird — The Carolina parrot 189 



Tortoises :— The lettered terrapin — The chicken tortoise — The salt-water terrapin — The box 
tortoise — The mud tortoise — The alligator terrapin — The snapping turtle — Lizards: — 
The six-lined taraguina — The glass snake — The anolis — The crowned tapayaxin — Snakes : 
— The rattlesnake — The banded and military rattlesnakes — The corn snake — The thunder 
snake — The chicken snake — -The milk or house snake — The black snake — The coach-whip 
snake — Frogs: — The bull frog — The solitary frog — The savannah cricket frog — The 
changeable tree frog — The spotted eft — The menopoma — The congo snake — The necturus 
— The siren, or mud eel — Grasshoppers, or locusts 210 




Birds of Mexico: — The scarlet tanager — The anis, or savannah blackbird — Massina's trogon 
— The Mexican trogon — The resplendent trogon — ReptUes : — The rhinophryne — The 
axolotl 2o8 



Honduras and the Mosquito Country — Fauna— The mahogany-tree — Humming-birds: — The 
slender shear-tail — The rufus flime-bearer — Princess Helena's coquette — The sparkling- 
tail humming-bird 253 



Stone quarries — Palenque — Ruins of Quiche — Uxmal — Other ruins 273 



The continent in ancient days — Its former inhabitants 286 


Its mountain sj'stems — Fresh regions — Llanos and Pampas— Its rivers 293 


Scenes on the Amazon — The rainy season — Storms — The pororocca 293 



The gapo — Trip up an igarape into the interior — The campos — Geology of the Amazonian 
Valley — A day and night on the Amazon, with their sights and sounds oOy 


Cape Horn — The Puncu of Avisca — Potosi — Volcanoes — Early civilization 327 


Tierra del Fuego — Its inhabitants — The burning desert — Sand-storms 339 


The native Indians- -The puna - , , . , 344 


The llama — The alpaca — The huanucu - The vicuna — The condor 353 



Chincbona or Peruvian bark — Coca 36G 



Sword-bill humming-bird — Copper-bellied puff -leg — AVhite-booted racket-tail — Columbian 
thorn-bill — Black warrior — The sickle-bill — Mars' sun-angel — Heliangelus Clarissas — 
Snow-cap humming-bird — Spangled coquette — Train-bearer (leobia amaryllis) — Hill star 
— The sappho comet — The phaon comet — Blue-tailed sylph 37G 



The savage inhabitants of the Amazonian Valley — The puma — The jaguar — ant-eaters — Myrmc- 
cophaga tamandua — Little ant-eater — The sloth— The tapir — The peccary — Hydrochferus 
capybara — Agouti dasyprocta — The paca (crelogenys) — The armadillo — The opossum — 
The crab-eating opossum — Marian's opossum — Yapock opossum — Bats 391 



Monkeys — Spider-monkeys — The chemeck — Macaco barrigudo — The uakari — Alouattes, or 
howlers — The cuxio (bearded saki) — The cacajao — Marmosets, or midas monkeys — Midas 
ursulus — Midas leoninas, or Jacchus Eosalia — Midas argentatus — Sai capicinus — Horned 
capucin — The common capucin — Parauacu — Pithecia hirsuta — Pithecia albicans — Saimiri 
- — Callithrix — Teetee — Collared teetee — Night apes, or douroucouli 441 



Humming-birds — Topaz humming-bird — Ara humming-bird — The racket-tail humming-bird 
— The cayenne fairy — Cotingas — The campanero, or bell-bird — The umbrella, or fife-bird 
— The cock of the rocks — Golden-winged manakin — Goatsuckers — Caciques — Toucans — 
The realejo, or organ-bird- The curassow — Macaws — Parrots — Anaca parrot — Marianna 
parrot — Trogons — The resplendent trogon — Jacamars — The jacana — Frigate-bird pelicans 
— The horned screamer — Vultures — The black vulture— The turkey-buzzard 468 



Alligators — The iguana — Geckos — The anaconda — The boa — The spotted boa — The ringed 
boa — The rattlesnake— The fer de lance — The bushmaster — Labarri, or Elaps lemniscatus 
—Whip snakes — The green snake — Frogs and toads— The Surinam toad — Tortoises — The 
Cheleys matamata 507 


Termites, or white ants— Sauba ants — The amphisbajna — Ecitons — Robber ecitons — Blind 


ants — Centipeds — Cockroaches — Fire-ants — Insects — Fire-flies — Suspended cocoons ■ — 
Lanteru-fly — The tanana — "Wood beetles — Spiders— Bees and wasps — Butterflies .... 540 



Aspects of the forest — Buttress trees^ — ^Sipos or wild vines — The seringa or india-rubber tree — 
The cow-tree — Monkeys' drinking-cups — Brazil-nut tree — The Victoria Regia — Palms 570 



The manatee, or cow-fish — Piranha — The diodon — The acara — Anableps — The parrot-fish — 
The gymnotus — Localization of fish — Gymnotus, or electric eel — Sting-rays — Serrosalmus 
piraya — The caribe — Adaptation of animals to their destined mode of existence .... 591 


The Mundurucu.s — General character of the natives — The Purupurus — The Catauixis 609 



The blow-pipe — Wourali poison — Timbo— Mode of shooting and netting turtle — Another 
mode of catching fish — Poisoning birds — The long-bow — Stalking game — Mode of killing 
alligators — Turtle-catching and collecting eggs — Oil from turtles' eggs — Fishing-nets and 
baskets — Canoes — Musical instruments 615 

^art fourth. 


Humming-birds^ Trees— The Llaneros 635 



Kivers : — The Essequibo — The Berbice River — The Arecuna Indians— The Corentyn River — 
The Demerara River — Native tribes— The Arawaks — The Guarania — The Macusis — The 
Acawoios — Mounds full of human remains — Vegetable productions 654 


Serras — The Campos dos Paricis— The cerrados — Diamond-mines of Brazil ■ C87 





The pampero — Natives of La Plata and its tributaries — -The Pampas and Patagonia — 
Tlie Guaranis and their descendants — The Querandis or Pehuelches — The Payaguas — ■ 
Indians of Bolivia — Native apothecaries — Tribes of the Gran Chaco — Jesuit missions- 
Language 692 



The Parana — Natives — Mountain scenery — Gregarious spiders —The chigo, or sandflea — Fish 
in the Parana 707 



Gauchos of the Pampas — Patagonians— Breaking-in colts — Deer of the Pampas — Nata cattle 
• — The bizcacha — The Peruvian bizcacha and chinchilla — The tucutuco (Ctenomys Brazili- 
ensis — The rhea — Caracara polyborus — Owls of the Pampas (Athene cuniculai-ia) — The 
Pampas cuckoo (Molothrus niger' — The calandria (Mina Orpheus) — Flamingoes — Oven- 
birds — The little house-builder — The scissor-beak — Parrots —The boat-bill heron — Con- 
clusion 715 


iavt Jirst. 



HE continent of America, if the stony records of tlie 
Past are read aright, claims to be the oldest instead 
of the newest portion of the globe.* Bowing to 
this opinion of geologists till they see cause to express a 
different one, we will, in consequence, commence our survey 
of the world and its inhabitants with the Western Hemisphere. 
From the multitude of objects which crowd upon us, we can 
examine only a few of the most interesting minutely ; at 
others we can merely give a cursory glance ; while many we 
must pass by altogether, — our object being to obtain a general 
and retainable knowledge of the physical features of the Earth, 
the vegetation which clothes its surface, the races of men who 

* According to some geologists, Labrador was the first part of our globe's surface to become 
dry land. 


inhabit it, and the tribes of the brute creation found in its 
forests and waters, on its plains and mountains. 

As we go along^ we will stop now and then to pick up 
scraps of information about its geology, and the architectural 
antiquities found on it; as the first will assist in giving us an 
insight into the former conditions of extinct animals, and the 
latter may teach us something of the past history of the 
human tribes noAv wanderino' as savaa;es in reoions once 
inhabited by civilized men. 

Still, the study of Natural History and the geographical 
range of animals is the primary object we have in view. 

Though the best-known portions of the Polar Regions are 
more nearly connected with North America than with Europe 
or Asia, we propose to leave them to be fully described in an- 
other work. It is impossible, in the present volume, to em- 
brace more than the continental parts of the Western AYorld. 

Lookino' down on the continent of North America, which 
we will first visit, we observe its triangular shape : the apex, 
the southern end of Mexico ; the base, the Arctic shore ; the 
sides, especially the eastern, deeply indented, first by Hudson 
Bay, which pierces through more than a third of the con- 
tinent, then by the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and further south 
by Chesapeake Bay and the Bay of Fundy. On the western 
coast, the Gulf of California runs 800 miles up its side, with 
the Rio Colorado falling into it ; and further north are the 
Straits of Juan da Fuca, between Vancouver's Island and the 
mainland, north of which are numerous archipelagoes and 
inlets extending round the great peninsula of Yukon to 
Kotzebue Sound. 

Parallel with either coast we shall see two great mountain 
systems — that called the Appalachian, including the chain of 


the Alleghanies, on the east, and the famed Rocky Mountains 
on the west — running from north to south through the 

We shall easily recollect the great water-system of North 
America if we consider it to be represented by an irregular 
cross, of which the Mississippi with its affluents forms the 
stem ; Lake Superior and the River St. Lawrence, including 
the intermediate lakes, the eastern arm ; the Lake of the Woods 
and its neighbours. Lake Winnepeg and the Saskatchewan, the 
western arm ; and the northern lakes of Athabasca, the Great 
Slave Lake, and the Mackenzie River, tlie upper part of the 
cross. If we observe also a wide level region which runs 
north and south between the Arctic Ocean and the Gulf of 
Mexico, bounded on either side by the two lofty mountain 
ranges already mentioned, we shall have a tolerably correct 
notion of the chief physical features of the North American 

Arriving at the northern end, we shall find it reaching some 
four degrees north of the Polar Circle, though some of its head- 
lands extend still further into the icy sea. Beyond it stretches 
away to an unknown distance towards the Pole a dense 
archipelago of large islands, the narrow channels between 
them bridged over in winter by massive sheets of ice, afford- 
ing an easy passage to the reindeer, musk-oxen, and other 
animals which migrate southward during the colder portion 
of the Arctic winter. 


With that end of America will ever be associated the 
names of Sir John Franklin and his gallant companions, who 
perished in their search of the North-west Passage ; as well as 


those of other more fortunate successors, especially of Captains 
M'Clure and Collinson of the British navy, to the first of 
whom is due the honour of leading an expedition from west 
to east along that icy shore ; while Captain Collinson took 
his ship, the Enteiyrise, up to Cambridge Bay, Victoria Land, 
further east than any ship had before reached from the west 
— namely, 105° west — and succeeded in extricating her from 
amid the ice and bringing her home in safety. Captain 
M'Clure, not so fortunate in one respect, was compelled to 
leave his ship frozen up. The two expeditions, while proving 
the existence of a channel, at the same time showed its 
uselessness as a means of passing from the Atlantic to the 
Pacific, as, except in most extraordinary seasons, it remains 
blocked up all the year by ice. 

The northern end of the American continent is a reoion of 
mountains, lakes, and rivers. Several expeditions have been 
undertaken through it, — the first to ascertain the coast-line, 
by Mackenzie, Franklin, Richardson, Back, and others, and 
latterly by Dr. Rae ; and also by Sir John Richardson, who 
left the comforts of England to convey assistance to his 
long-missing former companions, though unhappily without 
avail. These journeys, through vast barren districts, among 
rugged hills, marshes, lakes, and rivers, in the severest of 
climates, exhibit in the explorers an amount of courage, 
endurance, and perseverance never surpassed. In the course 
of the rivers occur many dangerous falls, rapids, and cataracts, 
amid rocks and huge boulders, between which the voyagers' 
frail barks make their way, running a fearful risk every 
instant of being dashed to pieces. Not a tree rears its head 
in the wild and savage landscape, the vegetation consisting 
chiefly of lichens and mosses. Among the former the tripe 


de roche is the most capable of supporting life. Here winter 
reigns with stern rigour for ten months in the year; and even 
in summer Liting blasts, hail- storms, and rain frequently 
occur. Yet in this inhospitable region numerous herds of 
reindeer, musk-oxen, and other mammalia find subsistence 
during the brief summer, as do partridge and numerous bird.s 
of various species. 

Here the Esquimaux lives in his skin-tent during the 
warmer months, and in his snow-hut in winter, existing on 
the seals which he catches with his harpoon, the whales 
occasionally cast on shore, and the bears, deer, and smaller 
animals he entraps. 

The numerous rivers flowino- from the mountain -ridofes 
mostly make their way northward. The Mackenzie, the 
largest and most western, rising in the Great Slave and Great 
Bear Lakes, falls, after a course of many hundred miles, into 
the Polar Sea. The Coppermine River, rising in Point Lake, 
makes its course in the same direction ; while eastward, the 
great Fish or Back River, flowing from the same lake as the 
first mentioned stream, reaches the ocean many hundred miles 
away from it, at the low^er extremity of Bathurst Islet. 
It runs rapidly in a tortuous course of 530 geographical 
miles throuo'h an iron-ribbed countrv, without a sin^ie tree 
on the whole line of its banks, expanding here and there into 
five large lakes, and broken by thirty-three falls, cascades, 
and rapids ere it reaches the Polar Sea. Not far from its 
mouth rises the barren rocky height of Cape Beaufort. 

It was down this stream that Captain Back, the Arctic 
explorer, made his way, but was compelled to return on 
account of the inclemency of the weather and the difiiculty of 
finding fuel ; the only vegetation which he could discover 

379) o 


being fern and moss, which was so wet that it would not 
burn, while he was ahnost without fire, or any means of 
obtaining warmth, his men sinking knee-deep as they pro- 
ceeded on shore in the soft slush and snow, which benumbed 
their limbs and dispiiited them in the extreme. Through 
this country the unhappy remnant of the Franklin expedition, 
many years later, perished in their attempt to reach the 
Hudson Bay Company's territory. Here, in winter, the ther- 
mometer sinks 70° below zero. Even within his hut, when he 
had succeeded in lighting a fire. Back could not get it higher 
than 12° below zero. Ink and paint froze. The sextant cases, 
and boxes of seasoned wood — principally fir — all split; the 
skin of the hands became dried, cracked, and opened into un- 
sightly and smarting gashes ; and on one occasion, after washing 
his hands and face within three feet of the fire, his hair was 
actually clotted with ice before he had time to dry it. The 
hunters described the sensation of handling their guns as 
similar to that of touching red-hot iron ; and so excessive was 
the pain, that they were obliged to wrap thongs of leather 
round the triggers to prevent their fingers coming m contact 
with the steel. Numbers of the Indian inhabitants of the 
countr}^ perish from cold and hunger every year — indeed, it 
seems wonderful that human beings should attempt to live in 
such a country ; j^et much further north, the hardy Esquimaux, 
subsisting on whale's blubber and seal's flesh, contrives to 
support life in tolerable comfort. 

To the south of the Arctic Circle stunted fir-trees begin to 
appear, and at length grow so thickly, that it is with diffi- 
culty a passage can be made amid them. Frequently the 
explorer has to clamber over fallen trees, through rivulets, 
bogs, and swamps, till often the difficulties in the way 


appear insurmountable to all but the boldest and the most 


On the western side of the continent rises gi'adually from 
the Polar regions the mighty chain which runs throughout 
its whole length — a distance of altogether 10,000 miles. 
The northern portion, known as the Rocky Mountains, runs 
for 3000 miles, in two parallel chains, to the plains of Mexico, 
flanked by two other parallel ranges on the west, — the most 
northern of which are the Sea Alps of the north-west coast, 
and on the southern, the mountains of California. At the 
north-western end of the Sea Alps rises the lofty mountain of 
Mount Elias, 17,000 feet in height — the highest mountain 
in North America — not far from Behring Bay ; while 
another range, the Chippewayan, stretches eastward, culmi- 
nating in Mount Brown, 16,000 feet in height, and gi'adually 
diminishing, till it sinks into insignificance towards the Arctic 
Circle. Point Barrow is the most northern point of America 
on the western side. It consists of a long narrow spit, com- 
posed of gravel and loose sand, which the pressure of the ice 
has forced up into numerous masses, having the appearance of 
rocks. From this point eastward to the mouth of the Mac- 
kenzie Piver the coast declines a little south of east. The 
various mountain ranof'es existino; on the eastern side of the 
continent, including the chain of the Alleghanies, form what 
is called the Appalachian system. It consists of numerous 
parallel chains, some of which form detached ridges, the 
whole running from the north-east to the south-west, and it 
extends about 1200 miles in length — from Maine to Alabama. 
Besides the Alleghany Mountains in the western [)art of 
Virginia and the central parts of Pennsylvania, it embraces 


the Catskill Mountains in the State of New York, the Green 
Mountains in the State of Vermont, the highlands eastward 
of the Hudson River, and the White Mountains in New 
Hampshire. Mount Washington, which rises to an elevation 
of G634 feet out of the last-named range, is the highest peak 
of the whole system. To the north of the St. Lawrence the 
lofty range of the Wotchish Mountains extends towards the 
coast of Labrador; while the whole region west and north of 
that river and the great Canadian lakes is of considerable 
length, the best-known range being that which contains the 
Lacloche Mountains, which appear to the north of Lake Huron, 
and extend towards the Ottawa River. These two great ranges 
of mountains divide the North American continent into three 


The rivers which rise on the eastern side of the Appal- 
achian range run into the Atlantic ; those which rise west of 
the Rocky Mountains empty themselves into the Pacific ; 
while the mighty streams which flow between the two, pass 
through the great basin of the Mississippi, and swell the 
waters of that mother of rivers. The gi^eat valley of the 
Mississippi, indeed, drains a surface greater than that of any 
other river on the globe, with the exception perhaps of the 
Amazon. The Missouri, even before it reaches it, runs a 
course of 1300 miles, while the Mississippi itself, before its 
confluence with the Missouri, has already passed over a dis- 
tance of 1200 miles; thence to its mouth its course is 
upwards of 1200 miles more. The Arkansas, which flows 
into it, is 2000 miles long, and the Red River of the south 
1500 miles in length; while the Ohio, to its junction with 
the Mississippi, is nearly 1000 miles long. 

LAKf:S. 21 

North America may be said to contain four great valleys 
— that of the Mississippi, running north and south ; that of 
the St. Lawrence, from the south-west to the north-east ; that 
of the Saskatchewan, extending from the Rocky Mountains 
below Mount BroAvn to Lake Superior ; that of the Mac- 
kenzie, from the Great Slave Lake to the Arctic Ocean. 
Although a large portion of the eastern side of the continent is 
densely wooded, there are towards the west, extending from 
the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Ocean, vast plains. In the 
south they are treeless and barren in the extreme ; while 
advancing northward they are covered with rich grasses, 
which afford support to vast herds of buffaloes, as well as 
deer and other animals. 


The most remarkable feature in North America is its lake- 
system — the largest and most important in the Avorld. hi 
the north-west, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, are the 
Great Bear and Great Slave Lakes, which discharge their 
waters throuoh the Mackenzie River into the Arctic Ocean. 
Next we have the Athabasca, Wollaston, and Deer Lakes. 
In the very centre of the continent are the two important 
lakes of Winnipeg and Winnipegoos, — the former 240 miles 
in length by 55 in width, and the latter about half the size. 
The large river of the Saskatchewan flows into Lake Winni- 
peg, and with it will, ere long, form an important means of 
communication between the different parts of that vast district 
lately opened up for colonization. At its southern end the 
Red River of the north flows into it, on the banks of whicli 
a British settlement has long been established. Sevei'al 

streams, however, make their way into Hudson Bay. Be- 

2 B 

22 LAKKS. 

tweeii It and Lake Superior is an elevated ridge of about 
1 500 feet in height ; the streams on the west fallino- into 
Lake Winnipeg, while those which flow towards the east reach 
Lake Superior. 

We now come to the site of the five largest fresh-water 
lakes in the world. Lake Superior extends, from west 
to east, 335 miles, with an extreme breadth of 175. Its 
waters flow through the St. Mary's River b}^ a I'apid descent 
into Lake Huron, which is 240 miles long. This lake is 
• livided by the Manitoulin islands into two portions, and is 
connected with Lake Michigan by a narrow chaimel without 
rapids, so that the two lakes together may be considered to 
form one sheet of water. . On its southern extremity the 
waters of Lake Huron flow through another narrow channel, 
which expands during part of its course into Lake St. Clair; 
and they then enter Lake Erie, which has a length of 265 
miles, and a breadth of 80 miles. It is of much less depth than 
the other lakes, and its surface is therefore easily broken up 
into dangerous billows by strong winds. Passing onward 
towards the north-east, the current enters the Niagara River, 
about half-way down which it leaps along a rocky ledge of 
100 feet in height, to a lower level, forming the celebrated 
Falls of Niagara, and then passes on in a rapid course into 
Lake Ontario. The fall between the two lakes is 333 feet. 
Lake Ontario is 180 miles long and 65 miles wide. Out 
of its north-eastern end falls the broad stream which here 
generally takes the name of the St. Lawrence, and which 
proceeds onward, now widening into lake-like expanses full of 
islands, now compressed into a narrow channel, in a north- 
easterly direction. The true St. Lawrence may indeed be 
considered as traversing the whole system of the gTeat lakes of 











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North Anierioa, and thus being little less than a thousand miles 
in direct lem-th ; indeed, includino- its windino-s, it is fully two 
thousand miles lono\ To the north-west of it exist countless 
numbers of small lakes united bv a network of streams; while 


numerous large rivers, such as the Ottawa, the St. Maurice, 
and the Saguenay, flow into it, and assist to swell its current. 
There are numerous other small lakes to the west of the 
Rocky Mountains, a large number of which exist in the 
Province of British (\)lumbia, and are more or less connected 
with the Fi'aser and C'()hnnV)ia Rivers. Furth(^r to the south 
are other lakes, many of theui of volcanic origin, some 
intensely salt, others formed of hot mud. Among these is the 


Great Salt Lake, in the State of Utah. To the south of the 
St. Lawrence also is Lake Champlain, 105 miles long, though 
extremely narrow, — being only 10 miles in its widest part, 
narrowing in some places to half a mile. Near it is the 
beautiful Lake St. George, w4th several other small lakes ; 
and lastly, in Florida, there is a chain of small lakes, termi- 
nating in Lake Okechodee — a circular sheet of water about 
thirty miles in diameter. 

We must now proceed more particularly to examine the 
i-egions of which we have obtained the preceding cursory 
view, but, before we do. so, we must glance at their human 


While the white men from Europe occupy the whole 
eastern coast, pressing rapidly and steadily westwaixl, the 
Redskin aborigines maintain a precarious existence through- 
out the centre of the continent, from north to south, and are 
still found here and there on the western shores. On the 
northern ice-bound coast, the skin-clothed Esquimaux wander 
in small bands from Behring Strait to Baffin Bay, but nevei" 
venture far inland, l)eing kept in check by their hereditary 
enemies, the Athabascas, the most northern of the red-skinned 
nations. The Esquimaux, inhabiting the Arctic regions, may 
more properly be described in the volume devoted to tliat 

part of the globe. 


Here and there, "m n|)enings in the primeval forest, either 
natural or artificial, on the banks of streams and lakes, several 
small conical sti'uctiires may be seen, composed of long stakes, 
stuck in the ground in circTiIar fonu, and fastened at the top. 



The Avails consist of large sheets of 1»ii-eh l)nik, layci- nhovc- 
layer, fastened to the stakes. On the lee-si«]e is left a small 
opening for ingress and egress, which can be closed by a sheet 
of bark, or the skin of a wild animal. At the apex, also, an 
aperture is allowed to remain for the escape of the smoke 
from the fire which burns within. Lines are secured to the 


stakes within, on which various articles are suspended ; while 
round the interior mats or skins are spread to serve as 
couches, the centre being left free for the fire. Tn front, 
forked stakes sujiport horizontal poles, on which fish or skins 
are hvnig to dry ; and against others, sheets of bark are 


placed on the weather-side, foiiniiig lean-tos, shelters to larger 
fires, used for more extensive culinary operations than can be 
carried on within the hut. On the shores are seen drawn up 
beautifully-formed canoes of birch bark of various sizes — some 
sufficient to carry eight or ten men ; and others, in which 
only one or two people can sit. 


iAmid the huts may be seen human figures with dull copper 
or reddish-brown complexions, clothed in rudely -tanned skins 
of a yellowish or white hue, and ornamented with the teeth 
of animals and coloured grasses, or worsted and beads. Their 
figures are tall and slight. They have black, piercing eyes, 
slightly inclining downwards towards the nose, which is broad 
and large. They have thick, coarse lips, high and prominent 
cheek-bones, with someAvhat naiTow foreheads, and coarse, 
dark, glossy hair, without an approach to a curl ; their heads 
sometimes adorned with feathered caps or other ornaments. 
Often their faces are besmeared with various coloured pig- 
ments in stripes or patches — one colour on one side of the 
face, the other being of a different hue. Their lower extremi- 
ties are covered witli leo-o-ino-s of leathei-, ornamented witli 
fringes, and their feet clothed in mocassins of the same 
material as their leggings. The men stalk carelessly about, 
or repair their canoes or fishing gear and arms ; while the 
women sit, crouching down to the ground, bending over their 
caldrons, shelling Indian corn, or engaged in some other 
domestic occupation ; and the children, innocent of clothing, 
tumble about on the ground. In travelling, the Indian mother 
carries her child on her back. It is strapped to a board ; 
and when a halting -place is reached, the cradle and the 



child are hung upon a tree, or on a pole inside the wigwam. 
Those who have communication with the whites may be seen 
clothed in blanket garments, which the men wear in the shajjc 


of coats ; while the women swathe their bodies in a whole 

blanket, which covers them from their shoulders to their feet. 

Thoug^h the men assume a m-ave and diefnified air Avhen a 

stranger approaches, they often indulge in practical jokes and 


laughter among themselves ; and in seasons of prosperity, ap- 
pear good-humoured and merry. The women, however, are 
doomed to lives of unremitting toil, from the time they be- 
come wives. They are compelled to cany the burdens, and to 
cultivate the ground, when any groimd is cultivated, for the 
production of potatoes, maize, and tobacco. The men con- 
descend merely to manufacture their arms and canoes, and to 
hunt ; or they engage in what they consider the noblest of 
employments, waging war on their neighbours. The women, 
indeed, are often compelled to paddle the canoes, sometimes to 
go fishing, and to carry the portable property from place to 
place, or an overload of game when captured. 

Intelligent as the Indian appears, it is evident that he has 
cultivated his perceptive powers to the neglect of his spiritual 
and moral qualities. His senses are remarkably acute. His 
memory is good ; and when aroused, his imagination is vivid, 
though wild in the extreme. He is warmly attached to he- 
reditary customs and manners. Naturally indolent and sloth- 
ful, he detests labour, and looks upon it as a disgTace, though 
he will go through great fatigue when hunting or engaged in 


The northern tribes are known as Wood Indians, in contra- 
distinction to the inhabitants of the open country, the Prairie 
Indians, who diiFer greatly from the former in their haVjits 
and customs. All the tribes of the Athabascas, as well as 
those to the south of them, known as the Algonquins, are 
Wood Indians. They are nearly always engaged in hunting 
the wild animals of the region they inhabit, for the sake of 
their furs, which they dispose of to the agents of the Hudson 
Bay Company and other traders, in exchange for blankets, 



fire-arms, hatchets, and numerous other articles, as well as too 
often for the pernicious fire-water, to obtain even small quan- 
tities of which they will frequently dispose of the skins 
which it has cost them many weeks to obtain w^ith much 
hardship and danger. These Wood Indians are peaceably 
disposed, and can always escape the attacks of their enemies 
of the prairies by retreating among their forest or lake 


fastnesses. They obtain their game by various devices, some- 
times using traps of ingenious construction, or shooting the 
creatures with bows and arrows, and of later years with fire- 
arms. They spear the fish which abound in their waters, or 
catch them with scoop and other nets. Although their ordi- 
nary wigwams are of the shape already described, some are con- 
siderably larger, somewhat of a bee-hive form, covered thickly 


with birch bark, and have a raised dais in the interior capable 
of holding a considerable number of people. The best knoMTi 
of these Forest Indians are the Chippeways, who range from 
the b& iks of Lake Huron almost to the Rocky Mountains, 
throughout the British territory. 


To the south of the tribes already mentioned, are the large 
family of the Dakotahs, who number among them the Sioux, 
Assiniboines, and Blackfeet, and are the hereditary enemies 
of the Chippeways, especially of their nearer neighbours, the 
Crees and Ojibbeways. These Dakotahs occupy the open 
prairie country to the south of the Saskatchewan, and are the 
most northern of the Prairie Indians. In summer, they wear 
little or no clothing ; and possessing numerous horses, hunt 
the buffaloes, or rather bisons, on horseback, armed with 
spears and bows and arrows. They are fiercer and more war- 
like than their northern neighbours, and have long set the 
whites at defiance. The buffalo supplies them with their 
chief support. The flesh of the animal dried in the sun, or 
pounded with its fat into pemmican, is their chief article of 
food ; while its skin serves as a covering for their tents, a 
couch at night, or for clothing by day, and is manufactured 
into bags for carrying their provisions, and numerous other 
articles. Physically, they are superior to the Wood Indians. 
They are both hunters and wamors ; and though they may 
occasionally exchange the buffalo robes — as the skins are called 
— for fire-arms, they seldom employ themselves as trappers, or 
attend to the cultivation of the ground. 

The greater number of the tribes further to the south pos- 
sess horses, and hunt the buffalo and deer. Some are even 


more savage than tlie Dakotahs, while others, again, have 
made slight progress toAvards civilization, and live in settled 
villages, while they rudely cultivate the ground, and possess 
herds of cattle. 

Although the Indian languages differ greatly from each 
other, a gTeat similarity in grammatical structure and form 
has been found to exist among them, denoting a common, 
though remote origin. They differ, however, so greatly from 
any known language of the Old World, as to afford conclusive 
l^roof that their ancestors must have left its shores at an early 
period of the world's history. 

The governments also differed. In some tribes it ap-- 
proached an absolute monarchy, the will of the sachem oi- 
chief being the supreme law ; while in others it was almost 
entirely republican, the chief being elected for his personal 
qualities, though frequently the leadership was preserved in 
the female line of particular families. 

When describing the customs of the Indians, we are com- 
pelled often to speak of the past, as the tribes, from being 
pressed together by the advancement of civilization, have be- 
come amalgamated, and many of their customs have passed 
away. Most of the nations were divided into three or more 
clans or tribes, each distinguished by the name of an animal. 
Thus the Huron Indians were divided into three tribes — those 
of the Bear, the Wolf, and the Turtle. The Chippeways, espe- 
cially, were divided into a considerable number of tribes. 


Though their language differs so greatly, as do many of 
their customs, their religious notions exhibit great uniformity 
throughout the whole country. They all possess a lielioi*, 

^370) 3 


though it is vague and indistinct, in the existence of a Su- 
preme, All-Powerful Being, and in the immortality of the soul, 
which, they suppose, restored to its body, will enjoy the 
future on those happy hunting-grounds which form the red 
man's heaven. They also worship numerous inferior deities 
or evil spirits, whom they endeavour to propitiate, under the 
supposition that unless they do so they may work them evil 
rather than good. They suppose that there is one god of 
the sun, moon, and stars ; that the ocean is ruled hy another 
god, and that storms are produced by the power of various 
malign beings ; yet that all are inferior to the Supreme Ruler 
of the universe. We can trace in some of the tribes customs 
and notions which have been derived from those of far dis- 
tant nations. Thus, the tribes of Louisiana kept a sacred fire 
constantly burning in their temples : the Natches, as did the 
Mexicans, Avorshipped the sun, from whom their chiefs pre- 
tended to be descended. Bv some tril>es human sacrifices 
were offered up, — a custom which was practised by the 
Pawnees and Indians of the Missouri even to a late period. 
Several of the tribes buried their dead beneath their houses ; 
and it was an universal custom among all to inter them in a 
matting po.sture, clothed in their best gamients, while their 
weapons and household utensils, with a suppty of food, were 
placed in their graves, to be used when they might be re- 
stored to life. Several of their traditions evidently refer to 
events recorded in Scripture history. The Algonquin tribes 
still preserve one pointing to the upheaval of the earth from 
the watei-s, and of a subsequent inundation. The Iroquois 
have a tradition of a general deluge ; while another tribe be- 
lieve not only that a deluge took place, but that there was 
an age of fire which destroyed all things, with the exception 


of a man and woman, who were preserved in a cavern. 
Many similar traditions exist ; while it is i)robable that those 
mentioned refer to the destruction of the Cities of the Plain 
by fire which came down from heaven, and to the confusion 
of tongues which fell upon the descendants of Noah in the 
plain of Shinar. 


We are apt to suppose that the wild inhabitants of the 
New World have ever existed in the same savage state as 
that in which they are found. Vast numbers, how^ever, of 
remains, and buildings of great antiquity, have of late years 
been discovered, showing that at one time either their an- 
cestors, or other tribes who have passed away, had made great 
progress in civilization. As the white man has advanced 
westward, and dug deep into the soil, whilst forming railway- 
cuttings, digging wells, and other works, nmnerous interesting- 
remains have been discovered — a large number of fortified 
camps of vast extent, and even the foundations of cities, with 
their streets and squares, have been brought to light. Idols, 
pitchers of clay, ornaments of copper, circular medals, arrow- 
heads, and even mirrors of isinglass, in great numbers, have 
been found throughout the countr}^ Some of the articles ot 
pottery are skilfully wrought, and polished,, glazed, and 
burned ; inferior in no respects to those of Egypt and 

In Tennessee, an earthen pitcher, holding a gallon, was dis- 
covered on a rock twenty feet below the surface. It was 
surmounted by the figure of a female head covered with a 
conical cap. The features greatly resembled those of Asiatics, 
and the ears, extending as low as the chin, were of great size. 


Near the Ciiinbeiiand River an idol formed of clay was found 
about four feet below the surface of the earth. It is of curious 
construction, consisting of three hollow heads joined together 
at the back by an inverted bell-shaped hollow stem. This 
specimen also has strongly-marked Asiatic features ; the red 
and yellow colour with which it is ornamented still retaining 
great brilliancy. Another idol, formed of clay and gypsum, 
was discovered near Nashville. It represented a human being 
without arms. The hair was plaited, and there was a band 
round the head with a flattened lump or cake upon the 
summit. Numerous medals, also, have been dug up, repre- 
senting the sun, with its rays of light, together with utensils 
and ornaments of copper, sometimes plated with silver ; and 
a solid silver cup, with its surface smooth and regular, and 
its interior finely gilt. 

But besides these, and very many similar articles, through- 
out the whole country, and especially toAvards the west, 
immense numbers of fortresses of great size have been 
discovered, with walls of earth, some of them ten feet in 
height, and thirty in breadth. There is a vast fortress in 
Ohio, near the town of Newark. It is situated on an exten- 
sive plain, at the junction of two branches of the Musking- 
um. At the western extremity of the work stood a circular 
fort, containing twenty-two acres, on one side of which was 
an elevation thirty feet high, partly of earth and partly of 
stone. The circular foi-t was connected by walls of earth 
with an octagonal fort containing forty acres, the walls of 
M'hich were ten feet high. At this end were eight openings 
or gateways about fifteen feet in width, each protected by a 
mound of earth on the inside. From thence four parallel 
walls of earth proceeded to the basin of the harbour, others 


extendins: several miles into the country, and otliers on the 
east joined to a square fort containing twenty acres, not 
four miles distant. From this latter fort parallel walls ex- 
tended to the harbour, and others to another circular fort one 
mile and a half distant, containing twenty-six acres, and sur- 
rounded by an embankment from twenty-five to thirty feet 
high. Further north and east the elevated ground was pro- 
tected by intrenchments. Traces of other walls have been 
found, apparently connecting these works with those thirty 
miles distant. When we come to reflect that there were many 
hundreds of similar forts, some of which were of equal size, and 
others even of still greater magnitude, we cannot help believing 
that an enormous population, considerably advanced in the arts 
of civilization, must at one time have existed in the country, 
pver which for ages past the untutored savage has roamed in 
almost a state of nature. And now these wild tribes are 
rapidly disappearing before the advancement of a still greater 
multitude, and a far more perfect civilization. Whether these 
ancient races were the ancestors of the present Indians or not, 
it is difficult to determine, as are the causes of their disappear- 
ance. It is possible that, retreating southward, they established 
the empires of Mexico and Peru, or, overcome by more savage 
tribes, were ultimately exterminated. 



|HE North American continent may be divided into 
four zones or parallel regions, which, from the dif- 
ference in temperature which exists between them, 
pi'esent a great variety both in their fauna and tiora. 


Commencing on the east, w^here the Greenland Sea washes 
the coast of Labrador, and Hudson Strait leads to the intri- 
cate channels communicating with the Arctic Ocean, we have 
■on the first-named coast a low and level region, which rises 
inland to a considerable elevation, and then once more sinks 
on the shores of Hudson Bay. West of that bay there is a 
wide extent of low country, intermixed with numerous lakes 
and marshes ; and then along the Arctic shore is a wild, 
barren, treeless district, rising at length into the mountainous 
region of the Arctic highlands. Amid them numerous rapid 
streams find their way into the Arctic Ocean. Again they 
sink into the basin of the Mackenzie River, which separates 
them from the northern end of the Rocky Mountains. Hence 


westward to the Pacific is a broad highland region, rising 
into the lofty range of the Sea Alps. 


The next Zone we will consider as commencing at the Gulf 
of St. Lawrence. Westward extends an elevated region, rising 
in many places to a considerable height, and forming the 
water-shed of the rivers which flow on the south side into the 
St. Lawrence, and on the north into Hudson Bav. Proceedino; 
up the St. Lawrence, we ariive at a great lake district, which 
embraces Lakes Ontario, Erie, Huron, Michigan, and Superior, 
to the extreme west. On the north-western shores of that 
lake we And an elevated district with several small lakes and 
streams flowing through valleys. This is the water-shed also 
of two systems. The streams to the east, flowing into Lake 
Superior, ultimately enter the St. Lawrence ; while those to 
the west make their way into Lake Winnii)eg, the waters of 
which, after flowing through a variety of channels, fall into 
Hudson Ba}^ To the west of this water-shed range the flrst 
lake we meet with is known as the Lac des Milles Lacs. 
Two rivers flow from it, expanding here and there into small 
lakes, till another expanse of water is reached called Rainy 
Ijake. This in the same way communicates by two streams 
with the still larger Lake of the Woods, the whole region on 
both sides being thickly wooded. From the Lake of the 
Woods flows the broad and rapid Winnipeg River, which Anally 
falls into Lake Winnipeg. This large and long lake is con- 
nected with several others of smaller size,- — Lake Winnipegoos 
and Manitoba Lake to the west of it. Lito the southern end 
of Lake Winnipeg flows the Red River, which rises far away 
in the south in the United States, taking an almost direct 


northerly coui'se. Towards the north, about twenty miles 
from the lake, is situated the well-known Selkirk settlement. 
To the west of the Red River commences a broad belt of 
prairie land which extends here and there, rising into wooded 
heights and swelling hills, with several large rivers flowing 
through it, to the very base of the Rocky Mountains. As we 
aelvance westward we find it extending considerably to the 
noith, where the large and wide river Saskatchewan, rising in 
the Rocky Mountains, flows eastward into Lake Winnipeg. 
Alono^ the southern border of this reoion the Assiniboine 
River, also of considerable size, flows into the Red River at 
Fort Garry, in the Selkirk settlement. The prairie country 
indeed extends further than the Red River, up to the Lake of 
the Woods. The name of the Fertile Belt has been pro- 
perly given to it. Commencing at the Lake of the Woods, it 
stretches westward for 800 miles, and averages from 80 to 
upwards of 100 miles in width. The area of this extra- 
ordinary belt of rich soil and pasturage is about 40,000,000 
of acres. Including the adjacent fertile districts, the area 
may be estimated at not less than 80,000 square miles, or 
considerably more fertile land than the whole of Canada is 
supposed to contain. It rises gradually towards the west, so 
that the traveller is surprised to find how speedily he has 
gained the passes which lead him over the Rocky Mountains 
into the territory of British Columbia on their western side — 
often indeed before he has realized tire fact that he has crossed 
the boundary-line. The Fertile Belt is considerably more to 
the south than the British Islands, though, as the western 
hemisphere is subject to greater alternations of heat and cold 
than the eastern, there is a vast difference in temperature 
between the summer and winter. While in winter the whole 


jeoion is covered thickly witli snow, in sunnner the heat is 
so great that Indian corn and other cereals, as well as all 
fruits, ripen with great rapidity. The whole of this fertile 
region, which now forms part of the Canadian Dominion, is 
about to be opened to colonization ; and through it will be 
carried the great high road Avhich will connect the British 
-Drovinces on the Pacific with those of the Atlantic. 


Throughout this fine region range large herds of buffalo, — 
not extending their migrations, however, beyond its northern 
boundary. Here, too, are found two kind of small deer — the 
wapiti, and the prong-horned antelope. Hares — called rabbits, 
liowever — exist in great numbers. Porcupines are frequently 
found. The black bear occasionally comes out of the neigh- 
bouring forests, while a great variety of birds frequent the 
lakes and streams, whose waters also swarm with numerous 
fish. The white fish found in the lakes are much esteemed, 
and weigh from two or three to seven pounds. There are fine 
pike also. Sturgeon are caught in Lake Winnipeg and the 
Lower Saskatchewan of the weight of 1 GO pounds. Trout grow 
to a great size, and there are gold-eyes, suckers, and cat-fish. 
Unattractive as are the names of the two last, the fish them- 
selves are excellent. Among the birds, Professor Hind men- 
tions prairie-hens, plovers, various ducks, loons, and other 
aquatic birds, besides the partridge, quail, whip-poor-will, hairy 
woodpecker, Canadian jay, blue jay, Indian hen, and wood- 
cock. In the mountain region are big-horns and mountain 
goats ; the grizzly bear often descends from his rugged heights 
into the plains, and afibrds sport to the daring hunter. The 
musk-rat and beaver inhabit the borders of the lakes. The 


cariboo and moose frequent the Fertile Belt, though the musk- 
ox confines himself to the more northern regions. Wolves 
have been almost exterminated in the neighbourhood of the 
Red River settlement. The half-breeds and Indians possess 
peculiarly hardy and sagacious horses, which are trained for 
hunting the bufialo. Their dogs are large and powerful, and 
four of them will draw a sleigh with one man over the snow 
at the rate of six miles an hour. Herds of cattle, as well as 
horses and hogs, are left out during the whole winter, it 
being necessary only — should a thaw come on, succeeded by 
a frost — to supply them with food ; otherwise, unable to break 
through the coating of ice thus formed, they are liable to 

The farmers of the Red River settlement grow wheat, barley, 
oats, flax, hemp, hops, turnips, and even tobacco, though 
Indian corn grows best, and can always be relied on. Wheat, 
however, is the staple crop of Red River. It is a splendid 
country for sheep pasturage, and did easier means of transport- 
ing the wool exist, or could it be made into cloth or blankets 
in the settlement, no doubt great attention would be given to 
the rearing of sheep. 


Returnino; aoain to the east coast, about the latitude of 
Chesapeake Bay and Cape Hatteras, we find a low level region 
known as the Atlantic plain, running parallel to the coast, on 
which the long-leaved or peach-pines flourish. This region is 
generally called the Pine BaiTens. Wild vines encircle the 
trees, and among them are seen the white hemes of the 
mistletoe. In winter these Pine Barrens retain much of their 
verdure, and constitute one of the marked features of the 


country. Amid them are numerous swamps or morasses. One 
of great size, extending to not less than forty miles from north 
to south, and twenty-live in its greatest width, is called the 
Great Dismal Swamp. The soil, black as in a peat-bog, is 
covered with all kinds of aquatic trees and shrubs ; yet, 
strange to say, instead of being lower than the level of the 
surrounding country, it is in the centre higher than towards 
its margin ; indeed, from three sides of the swamp the waters 
actually flow into different rivers at a considerable rate. 
Probably the centre of the morass is not less than twelve feet 
above the flat country around it. Here and there some 
ridges of dry land appear, like low islands, above the general 
surface. On the west, however, the ground is higher, and 
streams flow into the swamj), but they are free from sediment, 
and consequently bring down no liquid mire to add to its 
substance. The soil is formed completely of vegetable matter, 
without any admixture of earthy particles. In many even 
of the softest parts juniper- trees stand firmly fixed by their 
long tap roots, affording a dark shade, beneath which numer- 
ous ferns, reeds, and shrubs, together with a thick carpet of 
mosses, flourish, protected from the rays of the sun. Here and 
there also large cedars and other deciduous trees have grown up. 
The black soil formed beneath, increased by the rottmg vegeta- 
tion, is quite unlike the peat of Europe, as the plants become 
so decayed as to leave no traces of organization. Frequently 
the trees are overthrown, and numbers are found lying beneath 
the surface of the soil, where, covered with water, they never 
decompose. So completely preserved are they, that they are 
frequently sawn uj) into planks. In one part of the Dismal 
Swamp there is a lake seven miles in length, and more than 
five wide, with a forest growing on its banks. The water is 


transparent, though tinged with a pale brown colour, and 
contains numerous fish. The region is inhabited by a number 
of bears, who climb the trees in search of acorns and giim- 
berries, breakino- off the bouohs of the oaks in order to obtain 
the acorns ; these bears also kill hogs, and even cows. Occa- 
sionally a solitary wolf is seen prowling over the morass, and 
wild cats also clamber amid its woods. Even in summer, the 
air, instead of being hot and pestiferous, is especially cool, the 
evaporation continually going on in the wet spongy soil 
generating an atmosphere resembling that of a region consider- 
ably elevated above the level of the ocean. Canals have been 
cut through this swamp. They are shaded by tall trees, 
their branches almost joining across, and throwing a dark 
shade on the water, which itself looks almost black, and adds 
to the gloom of the region. Emerging from one of these 
avenues into the bright sunlit lake, the aspect of the scenery 
is like that of some beautiful fairyland. 


A considerable way to the north of this region, on the banks 
of the Connecticut River, are beds of red sandstone, on the 
different layers of which are found the footmarks of long 
extinct birds. The beds in some parts are twenty-five feet 
in thickness, composed of layer upon layer ; and on each of 
these layers, when horizontally split, are found imprinted 
these remarkable footmarks. This result could only have 
been produced by the subsidence of the ground, fresh deposi- 
tions of sand having taken place on the layers, on which the 
birds walked after the subsidence. They must have been of 
various sizes, — some no larger than a small sand-piper, while 
others, judging from their footprints, which measure no less 



than nineteen inches, must have been twice the size of the 
modern African ostrich. The distances between the smaller 
measnre only about three inches, but in the case of the largest, 
called the Ornithichnites gigas, they are from four to six 
feet apart. In some places Avhere the birds have congregated 
together none of the steps can be distinctly traced, but at a 
short distance from this area the tracks become more and 


more distinct. Upwards of two thousand such footprints 
have been observed, made probably by nearly thirty distinct 
species of birds, all indented on the upper surface of tlie strata, 
and only exhibiting casts in relief on the under side of the beds 
which rested on such indented surfaces. In other ])laces the 
marks of rain and hail which fell countless a^'es ao-o are clearly 
visible. Sir Charles Lyell perceived similar footprints iu the 


led mud in tlie Bay of Fundy, which had just been formed 
by sand-pipers ; and on examining an inferior layer of mud, 
formed several tides before, and covered up by fresh sand, he 
discovered casts of impressions similar to those made on the 
last -formed layer of mud. Near the footsteps he observed 
the mark of a single toe, occurring occasionally, and quite 
isolated from the rest. It was suo^o-ested to him that these 
marks were formed by waders, which, as they fly near the 
t^round, often let one leo- hano- down, so that the lono^est toe 
touches the surface of the mud occasionally, leaving a single 
mark of this kind. He brought away some slabs of the 
recently formed mud, in order that naturalists who were 
sceptical as to the real origin of the ancient fossil ornithich- 
nites might compare the fossil products lately formed with 
those referable to the feathered bipeds which preceded the 
era of the ichthyosaurus and iguanodon. 


We will now cross the Alleghanies westward, where we shall 
find a thickly-wooded country. As we proceed onwards, 
entering Kentucky, we reach a spot of great geological interest, 
called the Big-bone Lick. These licks exist in various parts 
of the country. They are marshy swamps in which saline 
springs break out, and are frequented by buffalo, deer, and 
other wild animals, for the sake of the salt with which in 
the summer they are incrusted, and which in winter is dis- 
solved in the mud. Wild beasts, as well as cattle, gTeedily 
devour this incrustation, and will burrow into the clay im- 
pregnated with salt in order to lick the mud. In the Big- 
bone Lick of Kentucky the bones of a vast number of masto- 
dons and other extinct quadrupeds have been dug up. 


This celebrated bog is situated in a nearly level plain, 
))Ounded by gentle slopes, which lead up to wide-extended 
table-lands. In the spots where the salt springs rise, the bog- 
is so soft that a man may force a pile into it many yards per- 
pendicularly. Some of these quaking bogs are even now 
more than fifteen acres in extent, but were formerly much 
larger, before the surrounding forest was partially cleared 
away. Even at the present day cows, horses, and other 
(quadrupeds are occasionally lost here, as they venture on to 
the treacherous ground. It may be easily understood, there- 
tore, how the vast mastodons, elephants, and other huge animals 
lost their lives. In their eagerness to drink the saline waters, 
or lick the salt, those in front, hurrying forward, would have 
been pressed upon by those behind, and thus, before they were 
aware of their danger, sank helplessly into the quagmire. It 
is supposed that the bones of not less than one hundred mas- 
todons and twenty elephants have been dug up out of the bog, 
besides which the bones of a stag, extinct horse, megalonyx, 
and bison, have been obtained. Undoubtedly, therefore, this 
plain has remained unchanged in all its principal features since 
the period when these vast extinct quadrupeds inhabited the 
banks of the Ohio and its tributaries. Here and there the 
Big-bone Lick is covered with mud, washed over it by some 
unusual rising of the Ohio River, which is known to swell 
sixty feet above its summer level. 

Passing on through wide-spreading prairies, we cross the 
mighty stream of the Mississippi to a slightly elevated district 
of broad savannahs, till we reach a treeless region bordering 
the very foot of the Rocky Mountains. Through this region 
numerous rivers pass on their way to the Mississippi. Leav- 
ing at length the great western plain, we begin to mount the 


slopes of the Rocky Mountains, when we may gaze ujjwards 
at the lofty snow-covered peaks above our heads. Hence, 
crossing the mighty range in spite of grizzly bears and wilder 
Indians, we descend towards the bank of the Rio Colorado, 
which falls into the Gulf of California, and thence over a 
mountainous region, some of whose heights, as Mount Dana, 
reach an elevation of 13,000 feet, and Mount Whitney, 
15,000 feet. 


The southernmost of the four zones begins on the coast of 
Florida, passes for hundreds of miles over a low or gently 
sloping country toward the gTeat western plains which border 
the Rocky Mountains into Texas ; its southei-n boundary being 
the Gulf of Mexico. Through this region flow numerous 
rivers, the queen of which is the Mississippi. The western 
portion is often wild and barren in the extreme, inhabited 
only by bands of wild and savage Indians. The Rocky 
Mountains being passed, there is a lofty table-land, and then 
rise the Sierras de los Nimbres and Madre ; beyond which, 
bordering the Gulf of California, is the wild, grandly pictur- 
esque province of Sonora, with its gigantic trees and stalactite 




|0 obtain, however, a still more correct notion of tlie 
appearance of the continent, wq must take another 
glance over it. We shall discover, to the north, and 
throughout the eastern portion where civilized man has not 
been at work clearing away the trees, a densely -wooded region. 
Proceeding westward, as the valley of the Mississippi is ap- 
proached the underwood disappears, and oak openings pre- 
dominate. These Oak Openings, as they are called, are groves 
of oak and other forest trees which are not connected, but are 
scattered over the surface at a considerable distance from one 
another, witliout any low shrub or underbrush between them. 

THE prairies. 

Thus, gradually, we are entering the prairie country, which 
extends as far west as the Grand Coteau of the Missouri. This 
prairie region is covered with a rich growth of grass ; the soil 
is extremely fertile, and capable of producing a variety of 
cereals. Over the greater portion of the prairie country, 
indeed, forests of aspens would grow, did not annual fires in 

(397j ^ 


most parts arrest their progress. Here and there numbers 
have sprung up. The true pranie region in the United States 
extends over the eastern part of Ohio, Indiana, the southern 
portion of Michigan, the southern part of Wisconsin, nearly the 
whole of the states of Illinois and Iowa, and the northern 
portion of Missouri, gradually passing — in the territories of 
Kansas and Nebraska — into that arid and desert region known 
as The Plains, which lie at the base of the Rocky Mountains. 

The Grand Coteau de Missouri forms a natural boundary to 
these arid plains. This vast table-land rises to the height of 
from 400 to 800 feet above the Missouri. Vegetation is very 
scanty ; the Indian turnip, however, is common, as is also a 
species of cactus. No tree or shrub is seen ; and only in the 
bottoms or in marshes is a i-ank herbage found. Across these 
desert regions the trails of the emigrant bands passing to the 
Far West have often been marked : first, in the east, by fur- 
niture and goods abandoned ; further west, by the waggons 
and carts of the ill-starred travellers ; then by the bones of 
oxen and horses bleaching on the plain ; and, finally, by the 
gi'aves, and sometimes the unburied bodies, of the emigrants 
themselves, the survivors having been compelled to push 
onwards with the remnant of their cattle to a more fertile 
region, where provender and water could be procured to restore 
their well-nigh exhausted strength. Oftentimes they have 
been attacked by bands of mounted Indians, whose war-whoop 
has startled them from their slumbers at night ; and they have 
been compelled to fight their way onwards, day after day 
assailed by their savage and persevering foes. 

Civilized man is, however, triumphant at last, and the 
steam-engine, on its iron path, now travei-ses that wild region 
from cast to west at rapid speed ; and the red men, who 



claim to be lords of tlie soil, have been driven back into the 
uiore remote wilderness, or compelled to succumb to the 


superior power of the invader, in many instances being utterly 
exterminated. Still, north and south of that iron line the 
country resembles a desert ; and the wild Indian roams as of 
yore, Hke the Arab of the East — his hand against every man, 
and every man's hand against him. 


Among the dangers to which the traveller across the prauie 
is exposed, the most fearful is that of fire. The sky is 
bright overhead ; the tall grass, which has abeady assumed 
a yellow tinge from the heat of summer, waves round him, 
affording abundant pasture to his steed. Suddenly his guides 
rise in theii^ stirrups and look anxiously towards the horizon. 
He sees, perhaps, a white column of smoke rising in the clear 
air. It is so far off that it seems it can but little concern 
them. The guides, however, think differently, and after a 
moment's consultation point eagerly in the direction of some 
broad river, whose waters flow towards the Mississippi. 
'' Oward ! onward!" is the cry. They put spurs to their 
horses' flanks, and gallop for their lives. Every instant the 
column of smoke increases in width, till it extends directly 
across the horizon. It gTows denser and denser. Now above 
the tall OTass flashes of brio-ht lio-ht can be seen. The traveller 
almost fancies he can hear the crackling of the flames as 
they seize all combustible substances in their course. Now 
they smTOund a grove of aspens, and the fierce fire blazes 
up more brightly than ever towards the sky, over which 
hangs a dark canopy of smoke. Suddenly a distant tramp 
of feet is heard. The very ground trembles. A dark mass 
approaches — a phalanx of horns and streaming manes. It 
is a herd of buffaloes, turned by the fire purposely ignited 
by the Indians. The guides urge the travellers to increase 
their speed ; for if overtaken by the maddened animals, they 
will be struck down and trampled to death. Happily they 
escape the surging herd which comes sweeping onward — 
thousands of dark forms pressed together, utterly regardless 
of the human beings who have so narrowly escaped them. 
The travellers gaUop on till their eyes are gladdened by the 


sight of the flowing waters of a river. They rush down the 
bank. Perchance the stream is too i-apid or too deep to be 
forded. At the water's edge they at length dismount, \A'hen 
the Indians, drawing forth flint and steel, set fire to the grass 
on the bank. The smoke well-nigh stifles them, but the flames 
pass on, clearing an open space ; and now, crouching down 
to the water's edge, they see the fearful conflagration rapidly 
approaching. The fire they have created meets the flames 
which have been raging far and wide across the region. 
And now the wind carries the smoke in dense masses over 
their heads ; but their lives are saved — and at length they 
may venture to ride along the banks, over the still smoulder- 
ing embers, till a ford is reached, and they may cross the 
river to where the grass still flourishes in rich luxuriance. 

While, on one side of the stream, charred trees are seen 
rising oat of the blackened ground, on the other all is green 
and smiling. These fearful prairie fires, by which thousands 
of acres of grass and numberless forests have been destroyed, 
are almost always caused by the thoughtless Indians, either 
for the sake of turning the herds of bufl^aloes towards 
the direction they desire them to take, or else for signals 
made as a sign to distant allies. Sometimes travellers have 
carelessly left a camp-fire still burning, when the wind has 
cari'ied the blazing embers to some portion of the surround- 
ing dry herbage, and a fearful conflagration has been the 

Mr. Paul Kane, the Canadian artist and travellei", mentions 
one which he witnessed from Fort Edmonton. The wind 
was blowing a perfect hurricane when the conflagration was 
seen sweeping over the prairie, across which they had passed 
but a few hours before. Tlie night was intensely dark, add- 


ing effect to the brilliancy of the flames, and making the 
scene look truly terrific. So fiercely did the flames rage, 
that at one time it was feared the fire would cross the river 
to the side on which the fort is situated, in which case it and 
all within must have been destroyed. The inmates also had 
had many apprehensions for the safety of one of their party, 
from whom, with his Indians, Mr. Kane had parted some time 
before, and who had not yet arrived. For three clays they 
were uncertain of his fate, when at length their anxiety was 
relieved by his appearance. He had noticed the fire at a 
long distance, and had immediately started for the nearest 
bend in the river. This, by great exertion, he had reached 
in time to escape the flames, and had succeeded in crossing. 


On the prairies of the east the eye ranges over a wide 
expanse of waving grass, everywhere like the sea. As, cross- 
ing the plains, we proceed west towards the vast range of 
the Rocky Mountains, the country gives evidence of the 
violent and irregular disturbances to which it has been sub- 
jected. Wild rocky ridges crop out from the sterile plains of 
sand ; and for hundreds of miles around the country is desert, 
dry, and barren. Even the vegetation, such as it is, is of 
the same unattractive character. The gi^ound here and there 
is covered with patches of the gTay gTamma grass, growing 
in little cork-screw curls ; and there is a small furzy plant, 
the under sides of the leaves of which are covered w^ith a 
white down, while occasionally small orange-coloured flowers 
are seen struggling into existence. 

There are insects, however. Ants swarm in all directions, 
building cones a foot in height. Grasshoppers in myriads, 


with red wings and legs, fly through the air — the only bright 
objects in the landscape. Sometimes the reddish-brown 
cricket is seen. Even the Platte Kiver, which flows through 
this region, partakes of its nature. It seems to consist of a 
saturated solution of sand : when a handful is taken up, a 
gray mud of silex remains in the palm. Dry as this gramma 
grass appears, it possesses nutritive qualities, as the animals 
which feed on it abundantly prove. 

Storms break over these plains with tremendous fury : the 
thunder roars, the lightning wdiich flashes from the clouds 
illumines earth and sky with a brightness surpassing the 
cloudless noon. Then ao;ain utter darkness covers the earth, 
when suddenly a column of light appears, like the trunk of 
some tall pine, as the electric fluid passes from the upper to 
the lower res^ions of the world. The next instant its blazino- 
summit breaks into splinters on every side. Occasionally 
fearful hail-storms sweep over the plains ; and at other times 
the air from the south comes heated, as from a furnace, dry- 
ing up all moisture from the skin, and parching the traveller's 
tongue with thirst. 

Here and there are scattered pools of water containing 
large quantities of salts, soda, and potash, from drinking 
which numbers of cattle perish. The track of emigrants is 
strewn for many miles with bleaching heads, whole skeletons, 
and putrefying carcasses — the result of the malady thus pro- 
duced, in addition to heat and overdriving. Even the tra- 
veller suflers greatly, feeling as if he had swallowed a quantity 
of raw soda. 

Yet often in this generally desert region, where the rivers 
wind their way through the plain, or wide pools of pure water 
mirror the blue sky, scenes of great beauty are presented. 


Nothing can surpass the rosy hues which tinge the heavens 

at sunrise. Here game of all sorts is found. The lakes 

swarm with mallards, ducks, and a variety of teal. Herds of 

antelopes cross the plain in all directions, and vast herds 

of bufialo darken the horizon as they sweep by in theii' 



At length a blue range, which might be taken for a lising 
vapour, appears in the western horizon. It is the first sight 
the traveller obtains of the long-looked-for Rocky Mountains ; 
yet he has many a weary league to pass before he is among 
them, and dangers not a few before he can descend their 
western slopes. At length he finds himself amid masses of 
dark brown rocks, not a patch of green appearing ; mountain 
heights rising westward, one beyond the other; and far away, 
where he might suppose the plains were again to be found, 
still there rises before him a region of everlastino- snow. For 
many days he may go on, now climbing, now descending, now 
flanking piles of rocks, and yet not till fully six days are 
passed is he able to say that he has crossed that mountain- 
range. Indeed, the term " range " scarcely describes the sys- 
tem of the Rocky Mountains. It is, in fact, a chain, com- 
})Osed of numerous links, with vast plains rising amid them. 


These ranges in several places thin out, as it were, leav- 
ing a large tract of level country completely embosomed 
in snowy ridges in the very heart of the system. These 
plains are known as " parks." They are found throughout 
the range. Several of them are of vast extent, — the four 
principal ones forming the series called, in their order, 

PARKS. 61 

"North/' ''Middle," "South," and "St. Louis" Parks. 
Portions of them, thoroughly irrigated, remain beautifully 
green throughout the year, and herbage over the whole region 
is abundant. Sheltered from the blasts to which the lower 
plains are exposed, these parks enjoy an equable climate ; 
and old hunters, who have camped in them for many seasons, 
describe life there as an earthly paradise. They abound in 
animals of all sorts. Elk, deer, and antelope feed on their 
rich grasses. Hither also the puma follows its prey, and there 
are several other creatures of the feline tribe. Bears, w^olves, 
and foxes likewise range across them. In some of them herds 
of buffalo pass their lives; for, unlike their brethren of the 
plain, they are not migratory. It is doubtful whether or not 
they are of the same species, but they are said to be larger 
and fiercer. 

The appropriate designation of the Rocky Mountain-system is 
that of a chain. On crossing one of its basins or plateaux, the 
traveller finds himself within a link such as has just been de- 
scribed. A break in one of these links is called a " pass," or 
"canon." As he passes through this break he enters another 
link, belonging to another parallel either of a higher or lower 
series. In some of the minor plateaux between the snowy 
ridges no vegetation appears. Granite and sandstone rocks 
outcrop even in the general sandy level, rising bare and per- 
pendicularly from 50 to 300 feet ; as a late traveller de- 
scribes it, " looking like a mere clean skeleton of the world." 
Nothing is visible but pure rock on every side. Vast stones 
lie heaped up into pyramids, as if they had been rent from 
the sky. Cubical masses, each covering an acre of surface, 
and reaching to a perpendicular height of thirty or forty feet, 
suggest the buttresses of some gigantic palace, whose super- 


structure has crumbled away with the race of its Titanic 
builders. It is these regions especially which have given the 
mighty range the appropriate name of the Rocky Mountains: 


In some spots, the limitless wastes are covered by a scrubby 
plant known as mountain sage. It rises from a tough gnarled 
root in a number of spiral shoots, which finally form a single 
trunk, varying in circumference from six inches to two feet. 
The leaves are gray, with a strong offensive smell resembling 
true sage. In other places there appear mixed with it the 
e(][ually scrubby but somewhat gTeener grease-wood — the two 
resinous shrubs affording the only fuel on which the emigTant 
can rely while following the Rocky Mountain trail. 

These sage reoions are the habitation of a maonificent bird 
— the Sage Cock. He may well be called the King of the 
grouse tribe. When stalking erect through the sage, he looks 
as large as a good-sized wild turkey — his average length being, 
indeed, about thii'ty-two inches, and that of the hen two 
feet. They differ somewhat, according to the season of the 
year. The prevailing colour is that of a yellowish-brown or 
warm gray, mottled with darker brown, shading from cinna- 
mon to jet black. The dark spots are laid on in a longi- 
tudinal series of crescents. The under parts are a light gTay, 
sometimes almost pure white, barred with streaks of brown, 
or pied with black patches. In the elegance of his figure 
and fineness of his outlines he vies with the golden pheasant. 
His tail differs from that of the grouse family in general by 
coming to a point instead of opening like a fan. On each 
side of his neck he has a bare orange-coloured spot, and near 
it a downy epaulet. His call is a rapid ''Cut, cut, cut!" 


followed l>y a hollow blowing sound. He lias the partridge's 
habit of drumming with his Avings, while the hen-bird knows 
the trick of misleading the enemy from her young brood. 
He seldom rises from the ground^ his occasional flights being 
low, short, and laboured. He runs with great speed, and 
in his favourite habitat dodges and skulks with rapidity, 
favoured by the resemblance of his colour to the natural tints 
of the scrub. Though sometimes called the Cock of the Plains, 
he never descends into the plains, being always found on the 
higher mountain regions. 

When the snow begins to melt, the sage hen builds in the 
bush a nest of sticks and reeds artistically matted together, 
and lays from a dozen to twenty eggs, rather larger than 
those of the domestic fowl, of a tawny colour, irregularly 
marked with chocolate blotches on the larger end. When a 
brood is strong enough to travel, the parents lead their young 
into general society. They are excessively tame, or bold. 
Often they may be seen strutting between the gnarled trunk 
and ashen masses of foliage peculiar to the sage scrub, and 
paying no more attention to the traveller than would a barn- 
yard drove of turkeys ; the cocks now and then stopping to 
play the dandy before their more Quakerly little hens, in- 
flating the little yellow pouches of skin on either side of their 
necks, till they globe out like the pouches of a pigeon. 


Descending the precipitous slopes of the Rocky Mountains 
on the west, we enter on a vast plain no less than 2 ()()() 
miles in length, though comparatively narrow — the great 
basin of California and Oreo on. Its oreatest width, from the 
Sierra Nevada to the Rocky Mountains, is nearly GOO miles, 


but is generally much less. The largest lake found on it is 
4200 feet above the level of the sea, and is connected with 
the Salt Lake of Utah. The mean elevation of the plain is 
about GOOO feet above the sea. A mountain-chain runs 
across it, and through it flows the large Colorado River, amidst 
gorges of the most picturesque magnificence. 

If the scenes we have described are stern and forbidding in 
"summer, how much more so are they in winter, when icy 
blasts blow through the canons, and masses of snow cover 
the ground. From one of the outer spurs on the east, let us 
take a glance over the region. Behind us rises the chain of 
the Rocky Mountains, the whole intermediate country, as well 
as the mountains themselves, except where the precipitous 
rocks forbid it, being covered thickly with snow. Rugged 
peaks and ridges, snow-clad and covered with pines, and deep 
gorges filled with broken rocks, everywhere meet the eye. 
To the east, the mountains gradually smooth away into high 
spurs and broken ground, till they join the wide-spreading 
plains, generally stretching far as the eye can reach, and hun- 
dreds of miles beyond— a sea of barrenness, vast and dismal. 
A hurricane blows clouds of white snowy dust across the 
desert, resemblino; the smoke of bonfires, roarinij: and ravino- 
through the pines on the mountain-top, filling the air with 
snow and broken branches, and piling it in huge drifts 
against the trees. 

The perfect solitude of this vast wilderness is appalling. 
From our lofty post on the mountain-top, we obtain a view 
over the rugged and chaotic masses of the stupendous chain, 
and the vast deserts which stretch away far from its eastern 
base ; while on all sides are broken ridges and chasms and 
ravines, with masses of piled-up rocks and uprooted trees, 


with clouds of drifting snow flying through the air, and the 
hurricane's roar battlino- throuo-h the forest at our feet adding^ 
to the wildness of the scene, which is unrelieved by the 
slio'htest vestio^e of animal or human life. 


We must now pass in review some of the numerous animals 
which inhabit these regions. In some of the mountain pla- 
teaux, among the cactuses and sand-heaps, we find that singu- 
larly-made animal known vulgarly as the Texan toad or 
horned frog — a name which in no way properly belongs to 
him, as he is more nearly related to the lizards and sala- 
manders. He lives as contentedly on the hot baked prairies of 
Texas, as amongst their snow-surrounded heights ; though, from 
his appearance, we should expect to see him basking under 
a semi-tropical sun, rather than in this region. Yet here he 
lives, and must often have to spend much of his time under 
the snow. These toads, as the creatures are called, have 
brown backs, white bellies, small twinkling black eyes, set in 
almond-shaped slits, enclosed by two dark marks of the same 
shape. This has the eftect of enlarging the eye, and giving 
it a soft look like that of the antelope. The two retro-curved 
horns, which rise out of bony sockets above the eyes, add still 
more to this odd resemblance. 

The skin of the back and the lono- stifl" tail, instead of beino- 
warted like the true toad's upper surface, is set with thorny 
excrescences. That of the lower surface is a dry tough tissue, 
almost horny. Whether this armour is given him to defend 
himself from the rattlesnake, it is difficult to say. The crea- 
ture itself is of a peaceable disposition ; and so unwilling is he 
to fight, that he will allow himself to be taken in the hand, 

(397) 5 


and if placed on it directly after capture, he will not attempt 
to get away. It is very easy to catch him in the first place, 
for his movements over the loose sand of his haunts are 
scarcely faster than those of a land tortoise. 

The trappers and other scattered inhabitants of this region 
describe a fish with hands as frequenting the brooks and pools. 
Though there are, no doubt, some curious fish, it is question- 
able how far these creatures possess the members ascribed to 



The fur-trapper of America is the chief pioneer of the Far 
West. His life spent in the remote wilderness, with no other 
companion than Nature herself, his character assumes a mix- 
ture of simplicity and ferocity. He knows no wants beyond 
the means of jDrocuring sufficient food and clothing. All the 
instincts of primitive man are constantly kept alive. Exposed 
to dangers of all sorts, he becomes callous to them, and is as 
ready to destroy human as well as animal life as he is to 
expose his own. He cares nothing for laws, human or divine. 
Strong, active, hardy, and daring, he depends on his instinct 
for the support of life. 

The independent trapper possesses traps and animals of his 
own, ranges wherever he lists through the country, and dis- 
poses of his peltries to the highest bidder. There are others 
employed by the fur companies, who supply them with traps 
and animals, and pay a certain price for the furs they bring. 

The independent trapper equips himself with a horse and 
two or three mules — the one for the saddle, the others for his 
packs — and a certain number of traps, which he carries in a 
leather bag, with ammunition, a few pounds of tobacco, and 
dressed deer-skins for his mocassins and repairing his gar- 


ments. His costume is a hunting-shirt of dressed buckskin, 
ornamented with long fringes ; pantaloons of the same mate- 
rial, decorated with porcupine quills and long fringes down 
the outside of the leg. He has mocassins on his feet, and a 
flexible felt hat on his head. Over his left shoulder and 
under his right arm hang his powder-horn and bullet-pouch, 
with flint, steel, and other articles, in a bag. A belt round 
the waist secures a large knife in a sheath of buffalo hide to 
a steel chain, as also a case of buckskin, containing a whet- 
stone. In his belt is also stuck a tomahawk, a pipe-holder 
hangs round his neck, and a long heavy rifle is slung over his 
shoulder. -"^*>^. 

Arrived on the hunting-ground, as soon as the ice has 
broken up he follows the creeks and streams, keeping a look- 
out for the signs of beavers. As soon as he discovers one, he 
sets his trap, secured to a chain fastened to a stake or tree, 
baiting it with the tempting castoreum. He is ever on the 
watch for the neighbourhood of Indians, who try to outwit 
him, though generally in vain, to steal his traps and beavers. 
His eye surveys the surrounding country, and instantly de- 
tects any sign of his foes. A leaf turned down, the slightly 
pressed gi'ass, the uneasiness of the wild animals, tlie flight of 
birds, all tell him that other human beings are in the neigh- 
bourhood. Sometimes, after he has set his traps and is re- 
turning to his camp, the wily Indian who has been watching 
follows, and a home-drawn arrow, shot within a few feet, 
never fails to bring the hapless victim to the ground. For 
one white scalp, however, that dangles in the smoke of an 
Indian's lodge, a dozen black ones surround the camp-fires of 
the trappers' rendezvous. Here, after the hunt, from all 
quarters the hardy trappers bring in their packs of beaver 



to meet the purchasers, sometimes to the value of a thousand 
dollars each. The traders sell their goods at enormous profits ; 
and the thoughtless trapper, indulging in the fire-water from 
which he has long abstained, is too often induced to gamble 
away the gold for which he has risked life and gone through 
so many hardshijis. When all is gone, he gets credit for an- 
other equipment, and sets off alone, often to return and repeat 
the same process, although the profits of one or two success- 
ful hunts would enable him to stock a farm and live amono- 
civilized men. 


There are many other vronders of Nature in different ]iarts 
of Noi'th America well ^^^ol"thy of more notice than we can 











give them. The most remarkable, perhaps, is the Mammoth 
Cave of Kentucky. The entrance to it is situated near Green 

River, midway between 

Louisville and Nashville. 

A lonely road leads to the 

entrance, from which, as 

we approach it in summer, 

we find a peculiarly chilly 

air issue forth. The som- 
bre gloom of the entrance 

does not prepare us for 

the enormous hall within; 

long avenues leading into 

jvast chambers, the smaller, 

thirty feet in height, at 

least, with an area of half 

an acre, and, as we get 

lowei" and lower, increas- 
ing in height. Upwards 

of eighteen miles of the 

cavern have been explored, 

and it may possibly be of 

still greater extent. To 

give an idea of the height 

of one of the chambers, we 

may add that the rocks 

from above have fallen, 

and a hill has been formed 

one hundred feet in eleva- 
tion. Many of the halls are ornamented with the most 
magnificent stalactites. One of them is appropriately called 






5 B 



Martlia's Vineyard, in consequence of having its tops and sides 
covered with stalactites which resemble bunches of gi-apes. 



— < 





Several streams pass through the cavern, down the sides 
of which rush numerous cataracts. Some of these streams, 


which are of considerable depth and width, are inhabited by 
shoals of eyeless fish, the organs of sight being superfluous in 
a region doomed to eternal night. The atmosphere of this 
huge cave is peculiarly dry, and is supposed to be extremely 
serviceable to persons afflicted with pulmonary complaints. 

To visit any considerable portion of the cavern would 
occupy us at least a couple of days. It is calculated there 
are no less than two hundred and twenty-six avenues, forty- 
seven domes, numerous rivers, eight cataracts, and twenty- 
three pits, — many of which are grand in the extreme. Some 
of the rivers are navigated by boats, and, as may be supposed, 
they have obtained appropriate names. Here we find the 
Dead Sea and the River Styx. One of the streams disappears 
beneath the ground, and then rises again in another portion 
of the cavern. But after all, as naturalists, the little eyeless 
fish should chiefly claim our attention. 


As coal was stored up for the use of man, formed in ages 
past from the giant vegetation which then covered the face of 
the earth, so the Creator has caused to be deposited in sub- 
terranean caverns large quantities of valuable oil, which not 
only serves man for light, but is useful to him for many other 

Whether that oil was produced from animal or vegetable 
substances, appears, even now, a matter of dispute. Some 
naturalists suppose that vast numbers of oil-giving creatures 
had been assembled in the districts in which these oil Avells 
are now found, and the oil was pressed out of them by a 
superincumbent weight of rock. Others assert that the same 
result might be produced from a vast mass of oil-giving vege- 



tation having been crushed by a similar process. Be that as 
it may, in several parts of the States, as well as in Canada, 
enormous pits exist full of this curious oil. It is obtained by 
boring in the ground in those spots where the oil is likely to 


be found. Often, however, the speculator, after spendino- 
time and capital in the experiment, finds that no oil appears 
at his call. 

In some spots, where it was first discovered, after the 


boring was completed, some hundreds of tons flowed up so 
rapidly, that it was difficult to find casks sufficient to preserve 
the produce. The whole region round is impregnated wdth 
the odour of the oil. Long teams of waggons come laden with 
casks of oil on the roads approaching the wells. Sheds for 
repairing the casks, and storing the oil, are ranged around. 
Every one gives indubitable signs by their appearance of their 
occupation, while rock-oil, as it is called, is the only subject 
of conversation in the neighbourhood. 


Gigantic as are the trees found in many of the eastern 
forests of America, they are far surpassed by groves of pines 
discovered a few years back in the southern parts of California. 
They are found in small groves together — in some places only 
three or four of the more gigantic in size ; in others, as many 
as thirty or forty, one vying with the other in height and 
girth. In one grove, upwards of one hundred trees were found, 
of great size, twenty of which were about seventy-five feet 
in circumference. One of these trees, of greater size than its 
companions, was sacrilegiously cut down. Its height was 
302 feet, and its circumference, at the ground, 96 feet. 
As it was impossible to cut it down, it was bored oflf with 
pump-augers. This work employed five men for twenty-two 
days. Even after the stem was fairly severed from the 
stump, the uprightness of the tree and breadth of its base 
sustained it in its position, and two days were employed in 
inserting wedges and driving them in ; but at length the 
noble monarch of the forest was forced to tremble, and then 
to fall, after braving the battle and the breeze for nearly 
three thousand winters. 



Many of the trees have received appropriate names. One 
has fallen, and has been hollowed out by fire. Through it a 

person can ride on horse- 
back for sixty feet. Its es- 
timated height, when stand- 
ing, was 330 feet, and its 
circumference, 97 feet. An- 
other of these giants is 
known as Hercules. It is 
320 feet high, and 95 feet 
in circumference. Perhaps 
the most beautiful group is 
that of three trees known as 
the Three Graces. Each of 
them measures 92 feet in 
circumference at the base ; 
and in height they are 
nearly equal, measuring 295 
feet. Time was when, per- 
haps, the whole forest con- 
sisted of trees of the same 
size ; but many have been 
destroyed by fire, and the 
time ma}^ come when none 
of those now standing will 
remain. The name of Well- 
ingtonia has been given to 
the species. 

In the same region are 
numerous magnificent stalactite caverns, which equal in beauty, 
if not in size, those of the Mammoth Cave of Kentucky. 




There are several waterfalls, unsurpassed for picturesque 


Had we time, we might pay a visit also to the gold-mines 
of California, and observe the way they are worked; but we 
should be prevented from giving that attention to the animal 
creation which is our present object. 



AVING thus obtained a bird's-eye view of the 

physical features of North America, we will take 

jj a rapid survey of its zoology before we more 

minutely inspect the individuals of which it consists. 

In a res^ion of extent so vast as the continent of America, 
reaching from the Arctic Circle at one end far away towards 
the Antarctic Ocean at the other — with dense forests, under a 
tropical sun, in some parts ; open 2:)lains, lofty mountains, or 
a network of rivers and streams, vast lakes and marshes, in 
others — we shall find all varieties of form in the animal king- 
dom. This gives to its study an especial interest. While 
the larger number of its members are especially local, confined 
in narrow spaces between two streams, others range beyond 
50° and 60° of latitude. The puma wanders across the plains 
of Patagonia, and ravages the flocks of the settlers on the 
western prairies of the United States. The reindeer feeds 
on the moss-covered moors of the Arctic islands, and is chased 
by the hunters far south among the defiles of the Rocky 
Mountains. Vast herds of bison darken the plains of New 
Mexico, and reach the upper waters of the Saskatchewan. 


The same wild fowl wliicli hatch their young among the ice- 
suiTOunded cliffs of Northern Greenland are found sporting in 
the lakes of Central America; while some of the smallest of the 
feathered tribes, the gem-like humming-birds, have been seen 
Hitting through the damp mists of Tierra del Fuego, sipping 
the sweets of Alpine flowers high up amid lofty peaks of the 
Andes, and appearing on the hill-sides in sight of Lake 
Winnepeg, on the north of Rupert's Land. 

However, as we proceed in our survey, we shall be able to 
note such, and many other interesting facts connected with 
the zoology of the districts we visit. 

We shall find in the northern portion of the contment, 
extending nearly as far south as the sixtieth degree of latitude, 
and even beyond that parallel, several animals wdiich are iden- 
tical with those inhabiting the same latitudes in Europe and 
Asia. The Polar or white bear, the sovereim of the Ai'ctic 
world, ranges entirely round the Circle ; and makes his way 
across the icy seas over the rugged snow-clothed rocks, so that 
he belongs as much to Europe and Asia as to America. The 
cunning wolverene, the ermine, the pine marten, the Arctic fox 
and common weasel, also inhabit the same latitudes of the three 
continents. Among the herbivorous quadrupeds, there are 
several which have made their way across the frozen ocean. 
The American elk, though called the moose, is identical with 
the same animal found in Asia and Europe ; so is the reindeer, 
known here as the cariboo. Both, indeed, are Arctic animals, 
though they migrate to southern latitudes when the severer 
cold and depth of snow prevents them from obtaining the moss 
and lichens on which they feed. The little Polar hare ranges 
round the Arctic Circle ; but there is one animal, the musk-ox, 
which, being truly an Arctic quadruped, is unknown either 


in Asia or Europe, and therefore belongs exclusively to 

Of the feathered tribes, the larger number of individuals, 
as might be supposed, are common to the northern portions of 
the three continents. Among these are the golden eagle, the 
white-headed or sea eagle, the osprey, the peregrine falcon, 
the gyrfalcon, the merlin goshawk, the common buzzard, 
rough-legged buzzard, hen-harrier, long-eared owl, short-eared 
owl, gi^eat snowy owl, and Tengmalm's owl. Nearly all the 
ducks and other swimming families, as might be expected, 
are also identical, as they can make their way with ease 
round the Circle, and find the same food and conditions of 
life. The waders, however, are generally distinct from those 
of Europe, as are the grouse inhabiting the same parallels of 
latitude. Only one or two have been found in Europe, as 
well as in America. 

We must now take a glance at the animals which are 
distinctly American. In the first place, there are three bears 
— the savage gTizzly of the Rocky Mountains ; the cunning 
black bear ; and the bear of the Barren Grounds. The beaver 
might take the first rank among American animals, for his 
sagacity, if not for his size. Then comes the Canada otter ; 
the vison or minx ; the clever little tree-loving raccoon ; the 
American badger, differing from his European relative ; and 
the pekan. There are several varieties of wolves, differing in 
size and somewhat in habits, but all equally voracious. There 
are several species of foxes, and no less than thirty of lem- 
mings, marmots, and squirrels, all of which are to be found 
within the more northern latitudes of the New World. There 
are three hares — known as the American, the prame, and the 
little chief hares — which range over the northern continent. 


Of the large animals we have the wapiti, a species of deer ; 
two species of the black-tailed deer ; a long-tailed deer ; and 
the prong-horned antelope; also the wild goat ; the big-horn 
sheep of the Rocky Mountains ; and last, though not least, the 
American bison, familiarly known as the buffalo — the inhabi- 
tant of the wide-spreading plains and prairies extending from 
the Arctic Circle to Mexico. 

Among the land birds, especially the birds of prey, there 
are several which are spread over the greater part of the 
northern continent, some indeed being found also in great 
numbers in South America. These are the turkey vulture, 
the black vulture, the little rusty-crowned falcon, the pigeon 
hawk, slate-coloured hawk, red-tailed buzzard, American horned 
owl, little American owl, and five other species of falcons. The 
perchers are less widely distributed. 

There are, however, numerous families of insectivorous 
bii'ds peculiar to America, which either permanently inhabit 
the more genial portions of the continent, or pay annual visits 
to those regions where the richest fruits abound and insect 
life prevails, affording them an abundant banquet. These 
migrating birds, as the winter draws on, take their departure 
southward to the warmer climate of Mexico, where they find 
abundance of food. As the summer returns, and the fruits of 
the orchard, the corn of the field, and wild berries ripen, and 
insects increase in numbers, vast flocks of warblers, wood- 
peckers, maize-birds, fly-catchers, thrushes, hang-nests, pigeons, 
blue-birds, and others return from their southern pilgTimage, 
to feed on the minute creatures which now people the plains, 
the hill-sides and forests, and on the abundant productions of 
the earth, enlivening the forests with their varied plumage, 
and delighting man by their melodious notes. 


The number of gallinaceous bii'ds is extremely limited. 
America can, however, boast of its native wild turkey — one 
of the most magnificent game-birds in existence. There is 
also the pinnated or Cupid Grouse. The Barren Grounds of 
Kentucky, and a few other districts, are inhabited by the 
ruffle grouse, which is also often called the pheasant. It 
ranges to a considerable distance northward, and Dr. Richard- 
son found it even on the borders of the Polar regions. There 
is likewise a small-sized partridge, which is improperly called 
the quail. 

With the exception of the golden plover, few of the wading 
birds resemble those of Europe. The snipe, the woodcock, the 
curlew, most of the sand-pipers, together with the coot and 
the water-hen, are distinct from those of Europe, and are 
not only peculiar to America, but few of them have been 
found to the south of the Ime. One of the most magnificent 
birds is the American flamingo, which is of a more beautiful 
and intense scarlet than that of Europe, and fully as tall ; 
another bird, the wood-ibis, has the same form as the glossy 
ibis of southern Europe. In Carolina and Florida is found 
the magnificent scarlet ibis, but it seldom makes its way to 
the northern parts of the Union. There are several large and 
beautiful species of herons. Although most of the duck tribe 
range throughout the continent, there are some — such as 
the summer or tree duck of South Carolina — which range 
from the States to the warmer shores of the southern pro- 
vinces, while the celebrated canvas-back duck, so highly 
prized at table, is found chiefiy in the temperate parts of the 
continent. The rest of the duck tribe inhabit the northern 
regions, only quitting them for the United States during the 
severity of winter. 




E shall not introduce the animals we are about to 
inspect according to a systematic classification, 
but bring them forward as they appear to the eye 
of the traveller or sportsman, giving the largest and the most 
important the first place. Our object is rather to view the 
characteristic animals of each region we visit than to attempt 
a scientific examination of the whole animated kingdom of 
the world — a task which must be left to those who have far 
more time at their disposal than we possess. 

We will begin, therefore, with the animals Ijelonging to 
the ruminantia — the eighth in natural order ; taking next 
the carnivora — the fifth ; and the smaller rodentia — the 
sixth ; while the birds and reptiles will follow in due course. 
Among these^ however, we shall select only the most notable 
and curious ; for although North America does not teem with 
animal life in the same degree as the southern half of the 
continent, were we to attempt to introduce all those existing 
ill it we could ii'ive but a mea2:re account of oacli. 



Without further preface, therefore, we will commence our 
survey with the elk. 

The monarch of the American pine forests — the superb 
moose or elk — ^ranges from the mouth of the Mackenzie River 
to the shores of the Atlantic, at the eastern extremity of 
Nova Scotia, and passing the gi^eat lake region, is found even 
as far as the State of New York. Observe him as he stands 
with huge palmated horns ready for action, his vast nostrils 
snuffing up the scent coming from afar ; his eyes dilated, and 


ears moving, watching for a foe ; his bristly mane erect; 
his large body supported on his somewhat thick but agile 
limbs, standing fully six feet six inches in height at the 
shoulder, above which rise the head and antlers. The 
creature's muzzle is very broad, protruding, and covered with 
hair, except a small moist, naked spot in front of the nostrils. 
He has a short, thick neck, the hair thick and brittle. The 
throat is somewhat maned in both sexes. So large is the 
cavity of the nose, that a man may thrust his arm right into 


it. The intennaxillaries are very long, and the nasals short. 
He differs from the European elk only by having much darker 
hair, — the coat of the male, when in its prime, at the close 
of the summer, being completely black. Under the throat 
the males have a fleshy appendage termed the bell, from 
which oTow lono- black hairs. The bristles on his thick 
muzzle are of a lighter colour than those of the coat, being 
somewhat of a reddish hue. The neck and shoulders are 
covered with very fine soft wool, curiously interwoven with 
the hair. Out of this the Indians manufacture soft, warm 
gloves. The moose hair is very brittle and inelastic. It is 
dyed by the Indians, and employed for ornamenting nume- 
rous articles of birch bark. The moose is of cautious and 
retiring habits, generally taking up his abode amid the mossy 
swamps found round the margins of the lakes, and which 
occupy the low ground in every direction. Here the cin- 
namon fern gi'ows luxuriantly, while a few swamp maple 
saplings and mountain ash trees occur at intervals, and afford 
sufficient food to the moose. 

It is to these regions the bull retires with his consort, and 
remains for weeks together, claiming to be the monarch of the 
swamp ; and should he hear the approach of a distant rival, 
he will crash with his antlers against the tree stems, making- 
sudden mad rushes through the bushes, the sound of his blows 
reverberating to a distance. He has also a curious custom of 
tearing up the moss over a, considerable area, exposing the 
black mud by pawing with the fore-feet. He continually 
visits these hills, and in consequence a strong musky effluvia 
arises from them. The Indian hunter, by examining them, 
can ascertain without fail when they were last visited by tlie 
animal. He utters loud sounds both bv day and night, 



described by the Indians in their guttural voices as "' quoth, 
quoth," but occasionally becoming sharper and more like a 

bellow when he hears a 
distant cow. The cow 
utters a prolonged and 
strangely wild call. 
This is imitated by the 
Indian hunter through a 
trumpet composed of 
i(^lled - up birch bark, 
when his dogs are in 
chase of the animal ; 
;ind the bull being by 
this means attracted 
towards him, becomes 
more easily his victim. 

During the early part 
of the year, and the 
summer, the antlers are 
growing ; but this pro- 
cess ceases early in Sep- 
tondjer, when the moose 
lias got rid of the last 
ragged strip of the deci- 
duous skin ao-ainst the 
young larch - trees and 
alder -bushes. He now 
stands ready to assert 
his claims aoainst all 


rivals. At this season the bulls light desperately ; often the 
collision of the antlers of huge rivals, driven with mighty force 


by their immense and compact necks, is heard to a great dis- 
tance, like the report of a gun on a still autumnal evening. 
They probably approach from different directions, regardless 
of the rugged ground, the rocks, and fallen trees in their 
course, bellowing loudly, and tearing up the ground with their 
horns. Now they catch sight of each other, and rush together 

like two cjladiators. Now butting for some time till their ant- 
es o 

lers become interlocked, perhaps both fall struggling to the 
ground. Frequently portions of skeletons, the skulls united 
by firmly-locked antlers, have been found in some wilderness 
arena, where a deadly light has occurred. A magnificent 
pair of horns thus interlocked is to be seen in the Museum of* 
the Royal College of Surgeons. Terrible must have been the 
fate of the combatants, illustrating Byron's lines : — 

" Friends meet to part ; 
Love laughs at faitli : 
True foes once met, 
Are joined till death. " 

Captain Hardy says he has twice heai'd the strange sound 
emitted by the moose, which, till he became acquainted with 
its origin, was almost appalling. It is a deep, hoai-se, and 
prolonged bellow, more resembling a feline than a bovine roar. 
Sometimes the ear of the hunter is assailed by a tremendous 
clatter from some distant swamp or burned wood. It is the 
moose, defiantly sweeping the forest of pines right and left 
among the brittle Ijranches of the ram pikes, as the scaled 
pines hardened by fire are locally tenned. When, however, 
the moose wishes to beat a retreat in silence, his suspicions 
being aroused, he effects the process with marvellous stealth. 
Not a branch is heard to snap, and the horns are so carefully 
carried through the densest thickets, that a rabbit would 



make as much noise when alarmed. He will also, when hard 
pressed, take the most desperate leaps to avoid his foes. 


Thousjh he seldom or never attacks human heinous when 
unassailed, he will do so occasionally when badly wounded, 


if nearly approached. An old Indian hunter had one day 
followed up a moose, and wounded the animal, when it turned 
on him. There being no tree near, he jammed himself for 
safety between two large granite boulders which were at 
hand. The aperture, however, did not extend far enough 
back to enable him to get altogether out of the reach of 
the infuriated bull, which set on him with its fore-feet, 
and pounded him so severely that several of his ribs were 
broken ; indeed, for several years afterwards he was nearly 
bent double by the severe beating he had received. 

In the summer, when the plague of flies commences, the 
moose takes to the water to avoid their bites. There are 
several species — one termed the moose-fly — which are equally 
annoying to the hunter. The animal strives to free himself 
from their irritation by running among bushes and brambles ; 
and should he reach a lake, he will plunge into the water, 
allowing only his nostrils and mouth to remain above the 
surface. Sometimes, indeed, he will dive altogether, and is 
frequently known to hide himself from his pursuers by 
remaining for a long time below the water. He also feeds 
upon the tendrils and shoots of the yellow pond-lily, by 
reaching for them under water. An Indian, on one occasion, 
was following the track of a moose, when it led him to the 
edge of a little round pond in the woods, whence he could 
find no exit of the trail. After waiting for some time, he 
beheld the head of the animal rising above the surface in the 
very middle of the pond. While hastening for his gun, 
which he had left at a little distance, the moose made for 
the opposite shore, and emerging from the water, regained 
the shelter of the forest ere he could get round for a shot. 
The animals have been known also to visit the sea-shore, and 


one was seen swimming off to an island over a mile distant, 
which he reached in safety. 

The moose feeds chiefl}^ on the leaves of young shoots and 
bushes, or the smaller trees — the red and other maples, the 
white birch, the balsam, fur, poplar, and mountain ash ; and 
occasionally, as has been said, on the roots of the yellow pond- 
lily, with a bite now and then at a tussack of broad-leaved gi^ass 
growing in the di^ed bogs. To get at the foliage beyond the reach 
of his muzzle, he frequently charges a young tree and rides it 
down, till he has brought the tempting leaves within his reach. 

The horns of the animal begin to sprout in A])ril, the old 
pair having fallen some time before. In the middle of this 
month the coat is shed, when the animal for some time after- 
wards presents a very rugged appearance. The cow towards 
the end of May produces one or two calves, generally neai- 
the margin of a lake, or in one of the densely- wooded islands, 
where they are secure from the attacks of the bull moose, 
who, cruel tyrant that he is, often destroys them. Rarely 
more than two are born at a time. 

Besides its human foes, the moose is attacked occasionally 
by the bear. Captain Hardy describes coming upon the 
traces of a recent struggle between a young moose and one 
of these animals. " The bear had evidently stolen through 
the long grass upon the moose, and had taken him at a dis- 
advantage in the treacherous bog. The grass was very much 
beaten down, and deep furrows in the soil below showed how 
energetically the unfortunate moose had striven to escape 
from his powerful assailant. There was a broad track plenti- 
fully strewed with moose hair, showing how the moose had 
struggled with the bear, to the wood, where, no doubt, the 
affair ended, and the bear dined." 


As the winter approaches, the cows, witli the young bulls 
and calves, congregate in small parties on the open "barrens" 
and hill-sides. When the snow comes thickly down, they form 
what is called a yard ; and in Canada, where its depth is 
very great, they have to remain in it during the whole winter, 
feeding round the area on the young wood of deciduous trees. 
In Nova Scotia, however, they migrate to other localities, 
when they have consumed the more tempting portions of 
food in the yard. In the morning and afternoon they are 
found feeding, or chewing the cud ; but at noon, when they 
lie down, they are difficult to approach, as they are then on 
the alert, employing their wonderful faculties of scent and 
hearing to detect the faintest taint or sound in the air, which 
might indicate the approach of danger. The snapping of a 
little twig, the least collision of a ritle with a branch, or 
crunching of the snow under the mocassins, will suffice to 
arouse them. Curiously enough, however, they are not alarmed 
by any sound, even the loudest, to which they have been 
accustomed. The hunter has, therefore, to approach the 
yard with the greatest possible caution, in order tu get a 

We will, however, start off on a moose hunt, in autunm, 
with a practical Indian hunter. The air of the autumnal 
night is frosty and bracing. The moose are moving rapidly 
from place to place. Night is drawing on. The last flutter- 
ing of the aspens dying away, leaves that j^erfect repose in the 
air which is so necessaiy to the sport. The moon rises, shed- 
ding a broad and silvery light through the forest. Mysterious 
sounds greet our ears. The Indian hunter is provided with 
his trumpet of birch bai'k, in the form of a cone, about two 
feet in lenoth. He shelters himself behind the ed^-e of the 


banks, a clump of bushes, or rocks ; and now he emits the 
cry of the cow moose, so exactly, that the male animal is 
easily deceived by it. He waits : there is no response. An 
interval of fifteen minutes elapses ; still no reply is heard. 
Again the Indian sends his wild cry pealing through the 
wood. Presently a low grunt, quickly repeated, comes from 
some distant hill ; and the snapping of branches and falling 
trees attests the approach of the bull. The hunter is now 
doubly careful ; kneeling down, and thrusting the mouth of 
his call into some bushes close by, he utters a lower and 
more plaintive sound. At length an answer reaches his 
ears. The snapping of the branches is resumed ; and pre- 
sently the moose is seen stalking into the middle of the 
moonlit " barren." Our weapons are ready ; and as the 
magnificent animal stands looking eagerly around in the 
woodland amphitheatre, a rifle ball, laden with death, brings 
him to the ground. 

In some districts the Indians employ another method 
of calling. They conceal themselves in a swamp, in the 
midst of some damp mossy valley, during a dark night. One 
holds a torch of birch bark with a match ready for lighting. 
The hunter calls, and the moose approaches more readily than 
towards the open '' barren." When the creature is within 
distance of the deadly rifle, the match is applied to the torch, 
which, flaring up, illuminates the swamp, and discovers the 
startled moose standing amidst the trees, and incapable ap- 
parently of flight. The Indians declare that he is fascinated 
by the light ; and though he may walk round and round it, 
he will not leave the spot, and thus presents an easy mark to 
the hunter's rifle. 

Let us set forth on an expedition to " creep " moose, which 


may be described as a similar mode of hunting to stalking. 
The ground we select is among the " barrens " before described. 
It is strewed with dead trees in all directions, amid which 
briars and bushes have grown up, and conceal their sharp, 
broken limbs, and the rough gi^anite rocks scattered in all 
dii'ections. Here, collecting wood for burning, we form our 
camp, and sit round the blazing fire, on which a well-filled 
frying-pan is hissing, while we are covered by our blankets to 
protect ourselves from the pattering rain-drops. Our suppers 
over, we stretch ourselves for repose, and gradually fall asleep, 
as the snapping of the logs on the fire, the pattering of the 
rain, and the hootings of the owls in the distant forest become 
less and less distinct. Our Indian brings us notice in the 
morning that two moose have passed close to the camp dur- 
ing the night. However, in spite of the plaintive call from 
the treacherous bark trumpet, they will not approach, having 
been forewarned of danger by the smell of our camp-fire. 
We make our way amid the bushes, already leafless, except 
that here and there are seen bunches of dwarf maples with a 
few scarlet leaves of autumn still clinging to them. Presently 
our companion whispers, '' Down — sink down ! slow — like 
me ! " A magnificent bull appears about five hundred yards 
off! The wind is blowing from him to us. The Indian utters 
the usual call ; but the moose does not answer, having already 
a companion close at hand. Presently he lies down in the 
bushes, and we worm ourselves slowly and laboriously towards 
the edge of the alder swamp. Gently lowering ourselves into 
the swamp, we creep noiselessly through the dense bushes, 
their thick foliacre closinor over our heads. It is an anxious 
moment! — the slightest snapping of a bough, the knocking of 
a gun-barrel against a stem, and the game is off! '' We must 



go back/' whispers the Indian. '' Cannot get near enough oil 
this side. Too open !" The difficult task of retreating is 
performed without disturbing the moose. Another half-hour 
is then employed in creeping like snakes through the wet 
bushes. At length, as we reach the edge of the swamp, the 



gi'eat animal rises directly facing us, gazing steadily towards us. 
We fire. A headlong stagger follows the report ; and the 
creature, turning round, is hidden from sight behind a clump 
of bushes. The Indian at the same time fires at a large cow 
moose who has, unknown to us, been lying close to the bull. 
We dash forward a few paces. On the other side the gTcat 
bull suddenly rises in front of us and strides on into thicker 
covert. Another shot, and he sinks lifeless at our feet. 


We have before mentioned the extensive tracts existing in 
North America, which, from their desolate appearance, are 
appropriately called ''Barrens." Far as the eye can reach the 
whole oTound is seen strewn with boulders of rock and fallen 
trees, scattered round in the wildest confusion. Here and 


tlicre cliarred 8tuin|)s lise from tlie grecn-sward ; in some 
spots clumps of S])i'uce are seen, against Avhich the white 
stems of the graceful birch stand out in bold relief ; while the 
bank of some stream, or the margin of a lake, is marked by 
fringing thickets of alder. In many parts are moist, swamp}^ 
bogs, into -which the sportsman sinks ankle-deep at every 
step. The ground, however, is everywhere thickly carpeted 
by a luxuriant growth of a species of lichen. It possesses 
wonderfully nutritive qualities ; so much so, that large quan- 
tities of alcohol have lately been extracted from it, as well as 
from other lichens growing in sub-arctic regions. It is the 
chief food of the cariboo, which animal frequents these deso- 
late-looking "barrens." 

Visiting one of these " barrens," we may perchance fall in 
with several of the noble-looking animals known in Europe 
and Asia as the reindeer, though we must look sharp to 
recognize them ; for so similar are they in colour to the rocks 
and general features of the ground, that only the keen eye of 
the Indian can easily detect them, especially when they are 
lying down. Should we approach them on the weather-side, 
or should the slightest noise be made, they will quickly detect 
us. Up they spring, and after a brief stare, make off in 
graceful bounds at a rapid rate. Now, having got beyond 
danger, they drop into a long swinging trot, and proceed in 
single file across the " barren," till they enter the line of forest 
in the far distance. 

The cariboo of North America is a strongly-built, thick- 
set animal, compared to the more graceful of his relatives. 
He carries on his head a pair of magnificent antlers, varying 
greatly in different specimens — some pal mating towards the 
upper ends, others with })ranches springing from tlu^ pal mated 


portions. In most instances there is but one developed brow 
antler, the other being a solitary curved prong. The back 
of the cariboo is covered with brownish hair, the tips of which 
are of a rich dun gray, whiter on the neck than elsewhere. 
The nose, ears, and outer surface of the legs and shoulders 
are of a brown hue. The neck and throat are covered with 
long, dullish white hair, and there is a faint whitish patch 
on the side of the shoulders. The rump and tail are snowy 
white, while a band of white runs round all the legs, joining 
the hoofs. 

As winter approaches, the haii' gi'ows long, and lightens 
considerably in hue. Frequently, indeed, individuals may be 
seen in a herd with coats of the palest fawn colour — almost 
white. The muzzle is entirely covered with hair. The fur 
is brittle, and though in summer it is short, in winter it is 
longer and whiter, especially about the throat. The hoofs 
are broad, depressed, and bent in at the tip. The full-grown 
bucks shed their horns, and it is seldom that they are seen 
in a herd after Christmas. The female reindeer, however, 
retains hers during winter. Several theories have been ad- 
vanced to account for this. There seems no doubt, however, 
that the object is to enable the female to protect her faw^ns 
from the males, who are apt to attack the young and destroy 

The cariboo is gregarious, and males, females, and young 
herd together at all seasons ; and by this provision of Nature 
the females are able to defend the young, who would other- 
wise be subjected to injury. In another respect these animals 
are w^onderfully provided for the mode of existence they are 
compelled to pursue. Not only have they to cross wide 
snow-covered districts, but frequently to pass across frozen 


expanses of water. To enable them to do this in tlie winter, 
the frog of the foot is ahnost entirely absorbed, and the edges 
of the hoof, now quite concave, grow out in sharp ridges, 
each division on the under surface presenting the appearance 
of a huge mussel-shell, and serving the office of natural 
skates. So rapidly does the shell increase, that the frog does 
not fill up again till spring, when the antlers bud out. With 
this singular conformation of the foot, it has a lateral spread ; 
and an additi(jnal assistance for maintaining a foothold on 
slippery surfaces is given by numerous long, stiff bristles 
which grow downward at the fetlock, curving over entirely 
between the divisions. The cariboo is thus enabled to proceed 
over the snow, to cross frozen lakes, or ascend icy precipices, 
with an ease which places him, when in flight, beyond the 
reach of all enemies, except perhaps the nimble and untiring- 

The cariboo is essentially a migratory animal. Tlicrc are 
two well-defined periods of migration, in the spring and 
autumn. Throughout the winter it appears also seized with 
an unconquerable desire to change its residence. One day it 
may be found feeding quietly through the forests in litth^ 
bands, and the next, perhaps, all tracks show a general move 
in a certain direction. The animals join the main herd after 
a while, and entirely leaving the district, travel toward new 
feeding-grounds. Though often found in the same woodlands 
as the moose, they do not enjoy each other's company. In 
severe winters the cariboos travel to the southernmost limits 
of their haunts, and even sometimes enter the settlements. 
Not being aquatic, like the moose, to avoid the flies in 
summer^ they ascend the mountain ranges, where they can 
be free from tlicir attacks. The hunter, however, follows 

(379) 7 



them, and their speed 


being of no avail among the precipices, 
many are shot. During most of the 
year the flesh of the animal is dry 
and tasteless ; but it possesses a 
layer of fat, two or more inches thick, 
which is greatly esteemed. This, 
with the marrow, is pounded together 
with the dried flesh, and makes 
the best kind of pemmican — a food 
of the greatest value to the hunter. 
The cariboo lives in herds, sometimes 
only of ten or twenty, but at othei's 
consisting of thirty or more indi- 
\dduals. They range across the 
whole width of the continent, being 
found in gTcat numbers to the west 
of the Rocky Mountains, especially 
at the northern end of British 
Columbia. Although specifically 
identical with the reindeer of Eurojie, 
it has never yet been trained by 
Indians or Esquimaux to carry their 
goods or draw their sleighs, as in 
Lapland and along the Arctic shores 
of Asia. 


In the wilder parts of the Southern States of the Union, 
herds of the magnificent Canadian stag or wapiti — popularly 
called the elk — range amid the woods and over the prairies. 
Sometimes three or four hundred ai'e found in one herd, always 



led by an old buck, who exacts from them the strictest obedi- 
ence — compelling them to halt or move onward as he judges 
necessary. Now the superb herd of long-horned creatures are 
seen to wheel to the right or lel't, now to advance or retreat 
at the signal he issues. 

The wapiti is indeed a grand animal, growing to the height 
of the tallest ox, and endowed with wonderful activity, as 
well as power. 


See him as he 
dashes throuo'h 
the forest, his 
branched horns 
separating in ser- 
pentine curves, six 
feet from tip to 
tip, laid close over 
his back as he 
makes his way 
amid the trees. 
His head is of a 
lively, yellowish- 
brown hue, the 
neck covered with 


reddish and black hairs, the latter of consideral )le length, 
descending in a thick bunch below it. They are among the 
fiercest of the deer tribe. The bucks often enter into des- 
])erate contests with each other, battling with their huge 
' horns — the fight frequently ending only with the death of the 
weaker rival. Sometimes their lionis have become so inex- 
tricably interlocked, that Ijoth have fallen to the ground, and, 
unable to rise,-have perished miserably. They will frequently. 



when wounded, attack their human assailants ; and the bold 
hunter, if thus exposed with riHe unloaded to their fierce 
assaults, will rue the day his weapon failed to kill the em-aged 
(juarry at the first shot. 

The wapiti, when pursued, will boldly plunge into the 


lake or broad river, and breast the rapid current to avoid Kxh 
foes ; or will occasionally, if hard pressed, attack the bold 
hunter who ventures to follow in his lifdit canoe. 


His cry i.s a sharp ^^ liistling sound, wliicli rings through the 
air far and wide on a calm day. He feeds on the branches of 
the trees and gi'ass, and in winter scrapes, with liis powerful 
fore-feet, deep into the snow, to obtain the lichens and dry 
herbao-e which m-ow beneath. His flesh for several months 
in the year is dry and coarse, but his hide is much prized 
by the Indians, who manufacture from it a leather r>f a 
peculiarly soft character, which retains that quality after being 
wet, — instead of turning hard, as is the case with that manu- 
factured from other deerskins. A remarkable feature of the 
wapiti is that the horns differ in form almost as greatly as do 
those of the branches of trees, no two specimens being found 
with them exactly alike.. 


The most graceful of the deer tribe, the karjacou, scours in 
large herds across the prairies, frequently entering the haunts 
of man. Yet so easily is it scared that it takes to flight at 
the very appearance of a human being. Curiously enough, 
however, it will again return to its favourite feeding-grounds, 
even though the hunter's rifle may lay low many of the herd. 
It is about the size of the fallow-deer, and of a lio-ht ])r()\vn 
hue. Its horns are slender, and have numerous blanches on 
the interior sides, 1 )ut are destitute of brow antlers. 

Let us watch a herd startled by our approach. Away they 
spring, leaping into the aii', turning their heads in every 
direction to ascertain the cause of their alarm, and then rush 
off" at full speed ; but in a short time, if they are not followed, 
we may see them return, especially as night draws on, and 
crouch dow n in their accustomed sleeping-places. Should a 
salt lake be near, they will come in vast nund^ers to lick \\\\ 


with their tongues the saline particles adhering to the sur- 
rounding stones, where the salt has crystallized from the eva- 
poration of the water. 

They are at all times thirsty, and they require constant 
draughts of pure water, to obtain which they are sure to visit 
the nearest stream or spring as night is about to close over 
the scene. Wherever the tenderest herbage grows upon the 
plain, there the karjacou comes to crop it during summer. In 
winter he finds an abundant supply of food from the buds and 
berries, or fallen fruits ; or, when snow is on the gi'omid, he 
eats the stiing moss hanging in masses from the trees. He 
willingly takes to the water, and will cross a lake or broad river, 
swimming at a rapid rate with his whole body submerged, 
his head alone appearing above the surface ; thus he will often 
baffle his pursuers, even though they may follow him with a 
boat. He has been knovai, indeed, when hard pressed near 
the sea-coast, to plunge into the- ocean, and buffeting the waves, 
to make his way far from the land, rather than be captured. 

His flesh affords the Indian a large portion of his winter 
supply of food, while his skin is manufactured into clothing, 
the leather from it being especially soft and pliable. From 
the settlers in the western provinces he receives little mercy, 
as, without hesitation, he leaps their fences, banqueting on 
their growing corn or vegetables; and, after doing all the mis- 
chief in his power, by his activity generally again makes his 
escape. No animal surpasses in beauty the young fawn, the 
fur of which is of a ruddy brown tint, ornamented with white 
spots arranged in irregular lines, merging occasionally into 
wide stripes. 

Like others of his tribe, the male is excessively combative 
when meeting others of his own species; and a story is told of 



three animals tlms encountering each other in a desert, when 
all their horns becoming entangled, they remained fixed, unable 
to separate, till they sank together on the ground, their skulls 
and skeletons afterwards being discovered, thus giving evidence 
of the combat and its fatal result. 


No animal of the American wilds surpasses the antelope 
in beauty. The little creatures congregate in herds of many 


thousands, thouoh, from the exterminatinof war wao-ed ao'ainst 
them by the Indians, they have greatly decreased in numbers. 
The size of the antelope is about that of tlie common red- 
deer doe ; the colour somewhat between buff and fawn, shaded 
here and there into reddish-brown, and a patch of pure white 
on the hind-quarters. This gives rise to the expression of the 
hunter, when he sees it flying before him, that the creature is 
"showing its clean linen." The ears are placed fiir back on 
the head, are very long, and curved so much that at a distance 


they appear like horns, while the horns themselves appear as 
if coming out of the animal's eyes ; they are long and slender, 
curving slightly backwards, and have no branches, except a 
little bud, which is developed when the creature is about two 
years old. The chief peculiarity of the animal is its lack of 
a dewlap. 

The feet have no rudimentary hoofs like the deer, yet thio 
want in no way interferes with its speed. Often the creature 
may be seen for a moment browsing not fifty yards off, the 
next it has dwindled to a mere speck, and is in another lost 
to sight. They do not leap like deer, but run with level 
backs, as sheep do, their legs glancing faster than sight can 
follow. In vain the hunter attempts to follow the rapid 
movements of the creatures on horseback. Perhaps they will 
let him apjn-oach to within a short distance, and then away 
they float on a line at right-angles to their former retreat. 
To come up with them, indeed, as an American writer observes, 
is as hopeful an undertaking as trying to run down a tele- 
graphic message. The only way to get near them is l)y a 
stratagem. They are not afi-aid of horses, and the hunter, by 
walking behind his horse, may often approach a herd without 
being discovered, provided the wind blows from them. He 
then pickets his horse with a sharp stake, and sinking down 
in the gi^ass he ties a bright-coloured handkerchief to the end 
of his ramrod ; he then crawls forward on hands and knees, 
dragging his rifle, till he approaches still neai-er, when he 
remains concealed, and lifts his flag in the air. The antelopes, 
on catching sight of it, stop browsing, and raising their heads, 
peer towards it, exhibiting no signs of fear. For a moment 
he drops his flag ; the beautiful creatures then resume their 
repast, but their curiosity gets the better of their prudence. 


Again they look forward, wlicn the flag is once more raised 
and waved slowly backward and forward. The antelopes have 
now their curiosity excited to the utmost ; for a moment they 
stop irresolute, then advance a few steps snuffing the air. 
Once more the flag sinks out of sight ; they seem to be asking 
each other what is the cause of the strange sight they have 
seen. Again it is raised ; they draw nearer and nearer, till 
they are within range of the hunter's deadly rifle ; he fires, 
and almost to a certainty one of the beautiful animals springs 
into the air and tumbles head-foremost on the ground. For 
a moment the survivors run off from their fallen friend, but 
seldom go far. Once more they return within easy rifle-shot 
of the hunter. Unless, however, he re(][uires the meat, he 
must be greatly lacking in right feeling if he slaughters use- 
lessly so beautiful an animal. The antelo})e becomes so easily 
confused, that when met on the prairies it frequently runs 
headlono- into the midst of the travellers. The creatures are 
often killed by being surrounded, when the whole herd are 
driven into an enclosed spot and become the easy prey of the 
hungry hunters. 


Amid the almost inaccessible peaks of the Rocky Mountains, 
herds of animals with enormous horns may be seen leaping 
from rock to I'ock, sometimes descending at one spring fi-om a 
height of twenty oi' thirty feet — when, the Indians assert, they 
invariably alight on their horns, and by this means save their 
bones from certain dislocation. They are bighorns, or moun- 
tain sheep, and are considered the chief game of these regions. 
The animals appear to partake both of the nature of the deer 
and of the goat. They resemble the latter more especially in 


their habits, and in frequenting the most lofty and inaccessible 
regions, whence, except in the severest weather, they seldom 
descend to the upland valleys. In size the bighorn is between 
the domestic sheep and the common red-deer of America, but 
is more strongly built than the latter. It is of a brownish- 
dun colour, with a somewhat white streak on the hind-quarters. 
The tail is shorter than that of the deer, and tipped with 
black. As the age of the animal increases, the coat becomes 
of a darker tinge. The horns, of the male especially, are of 
great size, curving backwards about three feet in length, and 
twenty inches in circumference at the roots. 

Frequently on the highest spot one of the band is stationed 
as a sentinel, and whilst the others are feeding he looks out 
for the approach of danger. They have even more acute sight 
and smell than the deer. On an alarm being given the whole 
herd scampers up the mountain, higher and higher, every now 
and then haltino; on some overhanmno- crao- and lookino- down 
on the object which may have caused them alarm ; then once 
more they pursue their ascent, and as they bound up the steep 
sides of the mountains throw down an avalanche of rocks and 

Occasionally the young lambs are caught and domesticated 
by the hunters in their mountain homes, when they become 
greatly attached to theii^ masters, amusing them by their 
merry gambols and playful tricks. Attempts have been made 
to transport them to the States ; but although milch-goats have 
been brought to feed the lambs, they have suffered by the 
change from the pure air of the mountains to the plains, or 
they have not taken kindly to their foster-mothers, and have 
invariably perished on the journey. 

The creatures reach a height of three feet six inches at the 



shoulders, while the horns are of about the same length. In 
colour they vary greatly, changing according to the season of 
ihe year. 


Throughout the wide-extending prairies of North America, 
from north to south to the east of the Rocky Mountains, vast 
herds of huge animals — w^ith shaggy coats and manes which 
hano" down over the head and shoulders reachino- to the oround, 
and short curling horns, giving their countenances a fei'ocious 
aspect — range up and down, sometimes amounting to ten 
thousand head in one herd. They commonly go by- the name 


of buffaloes, l»ut are properly called bisons. Clothed in a 
dense coat of long woolly hair, the bufialo is w^ell constituted 
to stand the heats of summer as well as the cold of the snowy 
l>lains in the northern regions to wdiich he extends his 

Let us look at him as he stands facinu" us on his native 


plains, his red eyes glowing like coals of fire from amid the 
mass of dark brown or black hair which hangs over his head 
and neck and the whole fore part of his body. A beard 
descends from the lower jaw to the knee ; another huge 
bunch of matted hair rises from the top of his head, almost 
concealing his thick, short, pointed horns standing wide apart 
from each other. As he turns round we shall see that a large 
oblong hump rises on his back, diminishing in height towards 
the tail : that member is short, with a tuft of hair at the tip. 
The hinder part of the body is clothed with hair of more 
moderate length, especially in summer, when it Ijecomes fine 
and smooth, and soft as velvet. From his awkward, heavy 
appearance, when seen at a distance, it would not be supposed 
that he is extremely active, capable of moving at a rapid rate, 
and of continuino- his headlono- career for an immense distance. 
So sure of foot is he, also, that he Avill pass over ground where 
no horse could follow, his limbs being in reality slender, and 
his body far more finely proportioned than would be supposed 
till it is seen stripped of its thick coating of hair. While 
his thick coat protects him from the cold, he is also provided 
with a broad, strong, and tough nose, with which he can 
shovel away the snow and lay Vjare the grass on which he feeds. 
Sometimes, however, when a slight thaw has occurred, and a 
thin cake of ice has been formed over the snow, his nose gets 
sadly cut, and is often seen bleeding from the effects of his 
labours. It is said that when a herd comes near the settle- 
ments, the domesticated calves, and even the horses, will follow 
the buffalo tracks, and gi^aze on the herbage which they have 
disclosed and left unconsumed. 

The flesh of the buffalo, especially that of the cow, is juicy, 
and tender in the extreme. The most esteemed portion is 

i.iiiliiil:liiH iii'!iiKiM : i''i;;;!;iiriiiJiii'i3r.:tiiijiii 


that composing the hump on its back, which gives it so 
strange an aspect. It is indeed frequently killed merely for 
the sake of this hump, and the tongue and marroAv-bones. 
Sometimes, also, when parched with thirst, the hunter kills a 
l)uffalo to obtain the water contained within certain honey- 
combed cells in its stomach. The buffalo is provided with 
this reservoir, in which a large quantity of pure water can be 
stored, that it may traverse, without the necessity of drinking, 
the wide barren plains where none can be obtained. Vast 
numbei*s, without even these objects in view, are wantonly 
slaughtered, and the chief part of the flesh utterly wasted, by 
the thoughtless Indians of the plain, who have thereby de- 
prived themselves of their future support. Many tribes 
depend almost entirely for their subsistence on the buffalo, 
of which the flesh is prepared in several ways. When cut up 
into long strips, and dried in the sun till it becomes black and 
hard, it will keep for a long time. It is also pounded with 
the fat of the animal, and converted into pevimican — an 
especially nutritious food, which, if kept dry, will continue in 
good order for several years. 

The prairie Indians make use of the hide for many pur- 
poses. They scrape oft* the hair and tan it, when it serves 
them for coverings for their tents. It is also carefully dressed, 
when it becomes soft and impervious to water. It is then 
used for clothing. Some of the tribes also form their shields 
from it. The hide is pegged down on the ground, when it is 
covered with a kind of glue. In this state it greatly shrinks 
and thickens, and becomes sufficiently hard to resist an arrow, 
and even to turn aside an ordinary bullet ^^•hich does not 
strike directly. 

The buffalo is especially a gregarious animal, and is found 


in herds of immense size, many thousands in number. Their 
dark forms may often be seen extending over the prairie as 
far as the eye can reach, a mighty moving mass of life. 
Onward they rush, moved by some sudden impulse, making 
the ground tremble under their feet, while their course may 
be traced by the vast cloud of dust which floats over them as 
they sweep across the plain. They are invariably followed 
by flocks of wolves, who pounce on any young or sick mem- 
bers of the herd which may be left behind. They range 
throughout the whole prairie country, from the '' Fertile Belt," 
which extends from the Red River settlement to the Rocky 
Mountains in British Central America, to Mexico in the south. 
The bulls ai'e at times excessively savage. They often quar- 
rel among themselves, and then, falling out of the herd, they 
engage in furious cr»mbats, gTcatly to the advantage of the 
pursuing wolves. In the summer, the buftalo delights in 
wallowing in mud. Reaching some marshy spot, he throws 
himself down, and works away till he excavates a mud-hole 
in the soil. The water from the surrounding ground rapidly 
drains into this, and covers him up, thus freeing him from 
the stings of the gnats and flies which swarm in that season. 

The buftalo is hunted on horseback both by whites and 
by Indians, though the sport is one in which a considerable 
amount of danger must be braved. Let us set off' from 
a farm in the Western States, on the border of the prairie. 
We have one or two nights to camp out before we reach the 
buffalo grounds. Mounting our horses by l)reak of day, after 
n.n early breakfast, we ride on with the wind in our faces, and 
at length discover across the plain a numl)er of dark objects 
moving slowly. They are buffaloes, feeding as they go. We 
see throiiijfh our field-Qflasses that there are calves amonof them. 










It is proposed that some of our party sliould ride round, so as 
to stampede the herd Lack towards us, ami thus, by dividing 
them, enable us to get in the centre. We wait for some time, 
when we see a vast mass of hairy monsters come tearing over 
a hill towards us. We have shot several of the bulls, but 
our object is to secure their calves and cows. As the herd 
a[)})roaches lis, it swings round its front at right-angles, and 
makes off M'estward. We dash forward, and divide it into 
two parties. We also separate, some of our hunters following 
one part of the herd, the others the remainder. The en- 
thusiasm of our horses equals our own. Away we go ; nothing 
stops us. Now we plunge with headlong bounds down bluffs 
of caving sands fifty feet high, — while the buffaloes, crazy 
with terror, arc scrambling half-way up the opposite side. 
Now we are on the very haunches of our game ; now before 
us appears a slippery buffalo wallow. We see it just in time 
to leap clear, but the next instant we are in the middle of 
one. Our horses, with frantic plunges, scramble out ; and on 
we go. We get closer and closer to the buffaloes, when a loud 
thundering of trampling hoofs sounds behind us. Looking 
over our shoulders, there, in plain sight, appears another herd, 
tearing down on our rear. For nearly a mile in width 
stretches a line of angry faces, a rolling surf of wind-blown 
hair, a row of quivering lights burning with a reddish-brown 
hue — the eyes of the infuriated animals. Should our horses 
stumble, our fate will be sealed. It is certain death to be 
involved in the herd. So is it to turn back. In an instant 
we should be trampled and gored to death. Our only hope 
is to ride steadily in the line of the stampede, till we can in- 
sinuate ourselves laterally, and break out through the side of 
the herd. Yet the hope of doing so is but small. 


On we rush rapidly as before, when suddenly, to our gTeat 
satisfaction, the herd before us divides into two columns, to 
pass round a low hill in front. Still on we go, pushing our 
horses up the height. We reach the summit, the horses pant- 
ing fearfully, and the moisture trickling in streams from their 
sides. But now the rear column comes on. They see us, not 
fifty rods off, but happily pay no attention to us. We dis- 
mount, facing the furious creatures. Should they not divide, 
but come over the hill, in a few moments we must be trampled 
to death. The herd approaches to within a hundred yards 
of the hill. We lift our rifles and deliver a couple of steadily 
aimed bullets at the fore-shoulders of the nearest bulls. One 
gives a wild jump, and limps on with three legs ; the other 
seems at first unhurt ; but just as they reach the foot of the 
mound, they both fall down. The whole host are rushing over 
them. We rapidly reload. The fate of their comrades, however, 
sends a panic into the heaits of the herd. Another falls just 
when they are so close that we could have sprung on their 
backs. At that moment they divide, and the next we are 
standing on a desert island, a sea of billowing backs flowing 
round on either side in a half-mile current of crazy buffa- 
loes. The herd is fully five minutes in passing us. We 
watch them as they come, and as the last laggers pant by 
the mound we look westward and see the stampeders halt- 
ing. We soon understand the cause. They have come up 
with the main herd. Yes, there, in full sight of us, is the 
buffalo army, extending its deep line as far as the western 
horizon. The whole earth is black with them. From a 
point a mile in front of us, their rear line extends on the north 
to the bluffs bounding the banks of the river on which we 
had camped. On the south it reaches the summits of some 


distant heights fully six miles away. When it is known that 
with our field-glasses we can recognize an object the size of 
a buffalo ten miles distant^ and that the mass extends even 
beyond the horizon, some idea may be formed of the immense 
number of animals congi-egated in the herd. To say that 
there are ten thousand, would be to give a very low estimate 
of their numbers. 

The same writer from whose work the above is taken, 
describes an extraordinary instance of friendship exhibited 
by a buffalo bull for one of his comrades. (Generally speak- 
ing, the buffalo, even in the pairing season, will forsake 
the wounded cow, and the cow will not stay one moment to 
protect her hurt calf) He was out hunting on one occa- 
sion, when, having been for some time unsuccessful, and being 
anxious to retrieve his character by bringing home some 
meat to camp, he caught sight of two fine buffalo bulls on a 
broad meadow on the opposite side of a stream. Dismounting 
from his horse, he took steady aim at the nearest buffalo, 
which was grazing with its haunches towards him. The ball 
broke the animal's right hip, and he plunged away on three 
legs, the other hanging useless. He leaped on his horse, put 
spurs to its flanks, and in three minutes was close on the bull's 
rear. To his astonishment, and the still greater surprise of 
the two old hunters who came after him, the unhurt bull 
stuck to his comrade's side without flinching. He fired an- 
other shot, which took effect in the lungs of the first buffalo. 
The second moved off for a moment, but instantly returned 
to his friend. The wounded buffalo became distressed, and 
slackened his pace. The unwounded one not onl}^ retarded 
his, but coming to the rear of his friend, stood, with his head 
down, offering battle. '' Here indeed was devotion which had 

8 B 


no instinct to inspire it. The sight was subhme ! The hunters 
could no more have accepted the challenge of the brave* crea- 
ture, than they could have smitten Damon at the side of 
Pythias. The wounded buffalo ran on to the border of the 
next marsh, and, in attempting to cross, fell headlong down 
the steep bank, and never rose again. Not till that moment, 
when courage was useless, did the faithful creature consider 
his own safety in flight. The hunters took off* their hats as 
he walked away, and gave three parting cheers as the gallant 
buffalo vanished beyond the fringing timber." 

The half-breed hunters of Rupeit's Land make two expe- 
ditions in the year in search of buffaloes — one in the middle 
of June, and the other in Octobei". They divide into three 
bands, each taking a separate route, for the purpose of falling 
in with the herds of buffaloes. These bands are each accom- 
panied by about five hundred carts, drawn by either an ox or 
a horse. They are curious vehicles, roughly formed with 
their own axes, and fastened together with wooden pins and 
leather thongs, not a nail being used. The tires of the wheels 
are made of buflfalo hide, and put on wet. When they be- 
come dry, they shrink, and are sq tight that they never fall 
off*, and last as long as the cart holds together. The carts 
contain the women and children, and provisions, and are in- 
tended to bring back the spoils of the chase. Each is deco- 
rated with some flag, so that the hunters may recognize their 
own from a distance. They may be seen winding oflf in one 
wide line extending for miles, and accompanied by the 
hunters on horseback. These expeditions run the danger of 
being attacked by the Sioux Indians, who inhabit the prairies 
to the south. The camps are therefore well surrounded by 
scouts, for the purpose of reconnoitring either for enemies or 


buffaloes. If they see the latter, they make a signal by 
throwing up handfuls of dust ; if the former, by rumiing their 
horses to and fro. 

Mr. Paul Kane, the Canadian artist, describes one of these 
expeditions which he joined. On their AYay they were 
visited by twelve Sioux chiefs, who came for the purpose of 
negotiating a permanent peace ; but whilst smoking the pipe 
of peace in the council lodge, the dead body of a half-breed, 
who had gone to a distance from the camp, was brought in 
newly scalped, and his death was at once attributed to the 
Sioux. Had not the older and more temperate half-breeds 
interfered, the young men would have destroyed the twelve 
chiefs on the spot : as it was, they were allowed to depart un- 
harmed. Three days afterwards, however, the scouts were 
observed making the signal of enemies being in sight. Im- 
mediately a hundred of the best-mounted hastened to the spot, 
and concealinof themselves behind the shelter of the bank of 
a stream, sent out two of their number as decoys, to expose 
themselves to the view of the Sioux. The latter, supposing 
them to be alone, i-ushed upon them ; whereupon the concealed 
half-breeds sprang up and poured in a volley which brought 
down eight. The others escaped, though several must have 
been wounded. 

Two small herds having been met with, of which several 
animals were killed, the scouts one morning brought in woid 
that an immense herd of bulls was in advance about two 
miles off They are known in the distance from the cows by 
their feeding singly, and being scattered over the plain, — 
whereas the cows keep together, for the purpose of protecting 
the calves, which are always kept in the centre of the herd. 

We will start at daybreak with our friend, and a half-breed 


as a guide. Six hours' hard riding brings us to within a 
quarter of a mile of the nearest herd. The main body stretches 
over the plains as far as the eye can reach, the wind blowing 
in our faces. We should have liked to have attacked them 
at once, but the guide will not hear of it, as it is contrary to 
the law of his tribe. We therefore shelter ourselves behind a 
mound, relieving our horses of their saddles to cool them. In 
about an hour one hundred and thirty hunters come up, every 
man loading his gun, looking to the priming, and examining 
the efficiency of his saddle-girths. The elder caution the less 
experienced not to shoot each other, — such accidents sometimes 
occurring. Each hunter then fills his mouth with bullets, which 
he drops into the gun without wadding ; by this means loading 
more quickly, and being able to do so whilst his horse is at 
full speed. We slowly walk our horses towards the herd, 
Advancing about two hundred yards, the animals perceive us, 
and start off in the opposite direction, at the top of their speed. 
We now urge our horses to full gallop, and in twenty minutes 
are in the midst of the stamping long-haired herd. There 
cannot be less than four or five thousand in our immediate 
vicinity, — all bulls ; not a single cow amongst them. The 
scene now becomes one of intense excitement,- — the huge bulls 
thundering over the plain in headlong confusion, while the 
fearless hunters ride recklessly in their midst, keeping up an 
incessant fire but a few yards from their victims. Upon the 
fall of each buffalo the hunter merely throws, close to it, 
some article of his apparel to denote his own prey, and then 
rushes on to another. The chase continues for about one 
hour, extending over an area of about six square miles, where 
may be seen the dead and dying buffaloes to the number of five 
hundred. In spite of his horsemanship, more than one hunter 


has been thrown from his steed, in consequence of the innu- 
merable badger-holes in which the plains abound. Two others 
are carried back to camp insensible. We have just put a 
bullet through an enormous bull. He does not fall, but stops, 
facing us, pawing the earth, bellowing, and glaring savagely. 
The blood is streaming from his mouth, and it seems as if he 
must speedily drop. We watch him, admiring his ferocious 
aspect, combating with death. Suddenly he makes a dash 
towards us, and we have barely time to escape the charge ; 
when, reloading, we again fire, and he sinks to the ground. 

The carts bring in the slaughtered animals to the camp, 
when the squaws set to work, aided by the men, to cut them 
up, and prepare them for drying and for making pemmican. 
The women are soon busily employed in cutting the flesh into 
slices, and in hanging them in the sun on poles. The dried 
meat is then pounded between two stones till the fibres 
separate. About fifty pounds of it is put into a bag of 
buffalo skin, with about forty pounds of melted fat, which, 
being mixed while hot, forms a hard and compact mass. 
Hence its name, in the Cree language, of pemmikon — pevioni 
signifying meat, and Icon fat — usually, however, spelled pem- 
mican. One pound of pemmican is considered equal to four 
pounds of ordinary meat, — and it keeps for years, perfectly 
good, exposed to any weather. 

The prairie Indians obtain buffaloes by driving them into 
huge pounds, where they are slaughtered. The pounds, how- 
ever, can only be made in the neighbourhood of forests, from 
whence the logs for their formation can be obtained. The 
pound consists of a circular fence about 130 feet broad. It 
is constructed of the trunks of trees laced together with 
withes, with outside supports about 5 feet high. At one side 


an entrance is left about 10 feet wide, with a deep trench 
across it, on the outside of which there is a strong trunk of a 
tree placed, about a foot from the ground. The animals, on 
being driven in, leap over this, clearing the trench, which of 
course prevents them from returning. From the entrance 
two rows of bushes or posts, which are called '' dead men," 
diverge towards the direction from which the buffaloes are 
likely to come. They are placed from 20 feet to 50 feet 
apart, and the distance between the extremities of the two 
rows at their outer termination is nearly two miles. Behind 
each of these " dead men " an Indian is stationed, to prevent 
the buffaloes when passing up the avenue from breaking out. 
Meantime, the hunters, mounted on fleet horses, range the 
country to a distance of eighteen or twenty miles in search 
of a herd. The buffalo has an unaccountable propensity which 
makes him endeavour to cross in front of the hunter's horse. 
They will frequently, indeed, follow a horseman for miles in 
order to do so. He thus possesses an unfailing means, by a 
dexterous management of his horse, of conducting the animals 
into the trap prepared for them. The men also conceal them- 
selves in hollows and depressions in the ground, so as to assist 
in turning the herd, should they attempt to escape in that 
direction. And now some three or four hundi-ed head of 
shaggy monsters are driven to the expanded mouth of the 
avenue. The horsemen follow in their rear, and prevent them 
turning back. Meantime the Indians stationed behind the 
" dead men" rise, shaking their bows, yelling, and urging them 
on. Thus they proceed, madly rushing on, the passage grow- 
ing narrower and narrower, while they, pressed together, are 
unable to see the dano^er ahead. The foremost at leno-th 
reach the fatal ditch, and leaping ovei', enter the pound, the 


rest madly following. " The animals now begin to gallop round 
and round the fence, looking for some means of escape ; but 
women and children on the outside, keeping perfectly silent, 
hold their robes before every orifice, till the whole herd is 
brought in. They then climb to the top of the fence, and 
the hunters, who have followed closely in the rear of the 
buffaloes, spear and shoot with bows and arrows or firearms 
at the bewildered animals, rapidly becoming frantic with fear 
and terror in the narrow limits of the pound. A dreadful 
scene of confusion and slaughter then ensues. The older 
animals toss the younger. The shouts and screams of the 
Indians rise above the roar of the bulls, the bellowing of the 
cows, and the moaning of the calves. The dying struggles 
of so many powerful animals crowded together, create a 
revolting scene, dreadful for its excess of cruelty and waste 
of life."* 

In consequence of this wholesale and wanton destruction, the 
buflfalo has greatly diminished ; and the Indians agree in the 
belief that their people, in like manner, will decrease till none 
are left. It is computed that for many years past no less 
than 145,000 bufialoes have annually been killed in British 
teixitory ; while on the great prairies claimed by the United 
States a still gTcater number have been slaughtered. In one 
year — 1855 — on the British side of the boundary, there were 
20,000 robes of skins received at York Factory alone ; and 
probably not fewer than 230,000 head of buflfalo were 
slaughtered in the previous year. This number would have 
been suflicient to sustain a population of a quarter of a 
million. Yet so vast a number of the animals are left to 
rot on the ground, that in all probability not more than 

* Hind. 


30,000 Indians fed on the flesh of the slaughtered bufla- 

The civilized fur- traders, however, with greater forethought, 
take means to preserve the flesh of the animals they kill in 
the neighbourhood of the forts, so that it may last them 
through the summer. For this purpose they dig a square 
pit capable of containing seven or eight hundred carcasses. As 
soon as the ice in the river is of sufiicient thickness, it is cut 
with saws into square blocks, of a uniform size, with which 
the floor of the pit is regularly paved. The blocks are then 
cemented together by pouring water in between them, and 
allowing it to freeze into a solid mass. In like manner the 
walls are built up to the surface of the ground. The head 
and feet being cut off*, each carcass, without being skinned, is 
divided into quarters ; and these are piled in layers in the pit, 
till it is filled up, when the whole is covered with a thick 
coating of straw, which is again protected from the sun and 
rain by a shed. In this manner the meat is preserved in 
good condition through the whole summer, and is considered 
more tender and better flavoured than when freshly killed. 

Even in the winter the buffalo continues to range over the 
plains in a far northern latitude. Mr. Kane mentions seeing 
a band, numbering nearly ten thousand, at the very northern 
confines of the Fertile Belt, where the snow was very deep at 
the time. They, however, had never before appeared in such 
vast numbers near the Company's establishments. Some, on 
on that occcasion, were shot within the gates of Foi-t Edmon- 
ton. They had killed with their horns twenty or thirty horses, 
in their attempt to drive them from the patches of grass 
which the horses had laid bare with their hoofs. They were 
probably migrating northward, to escape the human migxa- 


tions SO rapidly filling up the southern and western regions 
which were formerly their pasture-grounds. 

The Cree Indians use dogs to draw their sleighs. They 
are powerful, savage animals, having a good deal of the wolf 
about them. They are considered as valuable as horses, as 
everything is drawn over the snow by them. When buffaloes 
have been killed in winter, the dead animals are drawn m 
by them to the camp ; and two can thus easily drag a large 
cow buffalo over the snow. The sleigh or cariole used in 
these regions is formed of a thin flat board about eighteen 
inches wide, bent up in front, with a straight back behind to 
lean against. The sides are made of fresh buffalo hide, with the 
hair completely scraped off* and which, lapping over, entirely 
covers the front part, so that a person slips into it as into a 
tin bath. Each carries but one passenger. The driver, on 
snow-shoes, runs behind to guide the dogs. Each sleigh is 
drawn l)y four dogs, their backs gaudily decorated with 
saddle-cloths of various colours, fringed, and embroidered in 
the most fantastic manner, and with innumerable small bells 
and feathers. Two men run before on snow-shoes to beat a 
"track, which the dogs instinctively follow. A long cavalcade 
of this description has a very picturesque appearance. 

While thus travelling, our friend Mr. Kane caught sight of 
a herd of buffaloes, which did not perceive the approach of 
the party till the foremost sleigh was so near as to excite 
the dogs, who rushed furiously after them, notwithstanding 
all the efforts of the drivers to keep tliem back. The spirit 
of the hunt was at once communicated throua'h the whole 
line, and the entire party Avere in an instant dashing along 
at a furious rate after the buflaloes. The frightened animals 
made a bold dash at length through a deep snow-bank, and 



attempted to scramble up the steep side of the river, the top 
of which the foremost one had nearly reached, when, slipping, 
he rolled down and knocked over those behind, one on the 
top of the other, into the deep snow-drift, from which men 
and doo's were struo-Minoj in vain to extricate themselves. 
It would be impossible to describe the wild scene of uproar 
that followed. One of the sleighs was smashed, and a man 
nearly killed ; but at length the party succeeded in getting 
clear, and repairing the damage. 


In some districts, where the buffaloes can with difficulty 
be approached, the Indians employ a stratagem to get them 
within reach of their arrows or rifles. One of the Indians 


covers himself in a wolf's skin, another witli a l)ufialo skin. 
The}^ then crawl on all fours within sight of the huflaloes, 
and as soon as they have engaged their attention, the pre- 
tended wolf jumps on the pretended calf, which bellows in 
imitation of the real one. The buffaloes are easily deceived 
in this wa}^, as the bellowing is generally peifect, and the 
herd rush on to the protection of their supposed young, with 
such impetuosity that they do not })erceive the cheat till they 
are quite close enough to be shot. 

On one occasion Mr. Kane and his Indian companion fell in 
with a solitary bull and cow. On this they made a " calf," as 
the ruse is called. The cow attempted to spring towards 
them, but the bull, seeming to understand the trick, tried to 
stop her by I'unning between them. The cow now dodged 
and got round him, and ran within ten or fifteen yards of 
the hunters, with the bull close at her heels, when both men 
fired, and brought her down. The bull instantly stopped 
short, and, bending over her, tried to help her up with his 
nose — evincing the most persevering affection for her ; nor 
could they get rid of him, so as to cut up the cow, without 
shooting him also, although at that time of the year bull 
flesh is not valued as food when the female can be obtained. 
This, and another example which has l)een given, show that 
these animals are capable of gi'cat affection for each other. 

The Indians also occasionally approach a herd from leeward, 
crawlincj; aloncf the oTound so as to look like huo-e snakes 
winding their Avay amid the snow or grass, and can thus get 
sufficiently near to shoot these usually waiy animals. 




F all mammals, the beaver is the most especially 
fitted to enjoy a social life. When in captivity 
and away from its kind, it appears to possess 
but a small amount of intelligence ; it forms no attachments 
to its human companions, and is utterly indifferent to all 
around it. But in its native wilds, associated with others of 
its race, what wondrous engineering skill it exhibits, and how 
curious are its domestic arrangements ! 

It is essentially a hard worker. Other animals sport and 
play and amuse themselves. What young beavei'S may do 
inside their lodges, it is difficult to say ; but the elders, from 
morn till nioht, and all nio-ht lono^, labour at their various 
occupations, evidently feeling that they were born to toil, and 
willingly accomplishing their destiny. 

The beaver has fitly been selected as the representative 
animal of Canada, on account of its industry, perseverance, 
and hardihood, and the resolute way in which it overcomes 
difficulties. Certain conditions of country are necessary to 
its existence, and when it does not find these ready formed, 


by a wonderful provision of Nature its instinct enables it to 
produce them by its own exertions. Where it can find rivers, 
brooks, and swampy lakes which maintain an even level 
throughout the year, the beaver has a tolerably idle life ; but 
as in most districts the levels of rivers and lakes are apt to 
sink at various seasons if left to themselves, — whenever 
an emigrant party of beavers have fixed on a new locality, 
they set to work to dam up the stream or outlet of the lake, 
to prevent a catastrophe which might bring ruin and destruc- 
tion on their new colony. In Nova Scotia, as well as in 
other parts of North America, large level spaces are found 
covered with a rich alluvial soil, from which spring up waving 
lields of wild grass. From this the human settler draws an 
abundant supply of hay for his stock in winter, and ought to 
feel deeply indebted to the persevering beaver for the boon. 
They are known as " wild meadows," and are of frequent 
occurrence in the backwoods. It is evident that they were 
formed by the following process : — They are found in valleys 
through which, in ages past, a brook trickled. A party of 
beavers arriving, and finding an abundance of food on the 
side of the hills, would set to work to form a dam of sufficient 
strength to keep back the stream, till a pond was created, on 
the edge of which they might Ijuild their dome-shaped habita- 
tions. Extensive spaces in the woods were thus inundated, 
and the colony of beavers lived for long years on the banks 
of their artificial lakes. They, however, lacking foie thought, 
like many hun^an beings, did not sufficiently look to the 
future. In process of time the trees, being destroyed, deca^^ed 
and feJl ; while the soil, washed down from the surrounding 
hills, filled up the pond constructed by the industrious 
animals, and tliey were compelled to migrate to some other 

(370) 9 




region, or were destroyed. The dam being thus left unre- 
paired, the water drained through it, and the level space was 
converted into the rich meadow which has been described. 
Beavers' houses, however, are seen in all directions, some- 


times on the banks of these artificial ponds,, at others by the 
sides of large lakes or rivers. Though varying in size, they 
all greatly resemble a huge bird's-nest turned upside down. 
Some are eight feet in diameter, and three feet in height ; 
while others are very much larger, being no less than sixteen 
to twenty feet in diameter, and nearly eight feet in height on 
the outside, and perfectly circular and dome-shaped. The 
walls and roofs of these lodges, as they are called, are several 
feet in thickness, so that the measurement of the interior 
chamber is little more than half that of the exterior. Several 
beavers inhabit a large lodge. Their beds, which are sepa- 
rated one from the other, are arranged round the walls, a 
space in the centre being left free. The exterior also presents 
a very rough appearance, consisting of sticks apparently 
thrown loosely together, and entirely denuded of their bark, 
as also of branches of trees and bushes closely interwoven and 
mixed with stones, gravel, or mud. They are close to the 
banks, almost overlapping the water, into which the front 
part is immersed. The bottom of the stream or lake is 
invariably deepened in the channel approaching the entrance, 
thus ensuring a free passage below the ice into the structure. 
The tunnel is from two to three feet long. In the inner part 
of the hut the materials are laid with greater care, and more 
firmly bound together — with mud and grass — than on the outer. 
Even in one of the larger houses the chamber — for there is but 
one — is only between two and three feet in height, though as 
much as nine feet in diameter. It slopes gently upwards from 
the water. Inside there are two levels : the lower one may 
be called the hall. On this the animals shake themselves 
when they emerge from the subaqueous tunnel ; and when dry, 
clamber up to the upper story, which consists of an elevated 


bed of boughs running round the back of the chamber. It is 
thickly covered with dry grass and thin shavings of wood. 
The whole of the interior is smooth, the ends of the timbers 
and brushwood which project inwards being evenly gnawed 
off. There are always two entrances — the one serving for 
summer, and letting in the light ; while another sinks down at 
a deeper angle, to enable the owners during winter to get 
below the water. Beavers are especially clean animals, and 
allow no rubbish to remain in their abode ; and as soon as 
they have nibbled off the bark from the sticks, they carry 
them outside, and place them on the roof of their hut, to 
increase its thickness, or let them float down the stream. 

During the summer they are employed all day in ranging 
the banks and cutting provisions for their winter consumption, 
all their architectural occupations being carried on at night. 
Their winter stock of food consists of short lengths of willow 
and poplar, — the bark of which only, however, they eat. 
These they sink with mud or stones in some quiet pool near 
their lodge, and when required for food they dive down below 
the ice and bring up as many as are required for family 
consumption. Besides their lodge, they form in the neigh- 
bourhood a long burrow sufficiently broad to enable them to 
turn with ease. The entrance is at a considerable depth 
below the surface of the water, and extends from ten to 
twenty feet into the bank. This burrow serves as a safe 
* retreat, should their house be broken into, and thither they 
immediately fly when their permanent abode is attacked. In 
summer they regale themselves on the roots of the yellow 
lilies, as well as on other succulent vegetation, and any fruits 
the country affords. 

But it is time that we should get a look at the curious 


animal itself. We may paddle gently in a birch-bark canoe 
over a calm lake, and conceal ourselves among the tall 
grass in some quiet cove where the yellow water-lilies float 
on the tranquil surface. Through the still air of evening, 
the sound of the distant waterfall reaches our ears. Wood 
ducks fly by in vast numbers ; the rich glow of the evening 
sky, still suflused with the gorgeous hues of the setting sun, 
is reflected on the mirror-like expanse of water. Watching 
with eager eyes, we see at length the water breaking some 
forty yards away, and the head and back of an animal appears 
in sight. Now another, and then a third, come into view. 
After cautiously glancing around, the creatures dive, with a 
roll like that of a porpoise, but shortly appear again. Our 
Indian, pushing the light canoe from amid the grass, paddles 
forward with eager strokes. One of our party fires, and 
misses, the echoes resounding from the wood-covered shores, 
and from island to island, till lost in the distance ; but the 
cautious animals, forewarned, take good care not to appear 
again during that evening. We find that our only prospect 
of examining them is by tra[)ping one in the usual Indian 
fashion, which we will by-and-by describe. 

Mr. Beaver, as the Indians are fond of calling the animal, 
has a body about three feet long, exclusive of the tail, which 
is a foot more. He wears on his back a coat of lono- shinino- 
hair, generally of a light chestnut colour, but sometimes of a 
much darker hue, occasionally perfectly black. Below the hair, 
next the skin, is a fine, soft, grayish-brown wool. He may be 
known at once by his broad horizontal flattened tail, which is 
nearly of an oval form, but rises into a slight convexity on its 
upper surface, and is covered with scales. His fore-feet are 
armed with nails, and serve for the purpose of hands — indeed, 



he vies with the monkey in the use he can make of them. The 
hind-feet are webbed, and with these — together with his tail, 
which acts as a rudder — he is enabled to swim rapidly through 
the water. The beaver is a rodent, with a short head and 
broad blunt snout, and his incisor teeth are remarkably large 
and hard, enabling him to bite through wood with wonderful 


ease and rapidity. So great is their hardness, that formerly 
the Indians were accustomed to use them as knives for cutting- 
bone and fashioning their horn-tipped spears. 

The beaver, it has been said, always chooses banks by 
the side of a lake or river of sufficient depth to escape being 
frozen to the bottom, even during the hardest frost. Thus, 
he can at all times obtain a supply of water, on which his 


existence depends ; indeed, the bark on whicli he lives requires 
to be moistened before it becomes fit for food. When instinct 
teaches a colony of beavers that the water is not of sufficient 
depth to escape freezing throughout, they provide against the 
evil by making such a dam as has been mentioned, across the 
stream, or the outlet of the lake, at a convenient distance from 
their habitations. The plan of these dams varies according to 
the character of the lake or stream. If the current is but slight, 
they build the dam almost straight ; but where the water runs 
at a rapid rate, it is almost always constructed with a consider- 
able curve, the convex side towards the stream. Frequently, in 
such cases, if there is any small island in the centre, it is taken 
advantage of, and the dam is built out to it from either bank. 
They make use of a variety of materials ; employing drift- 
wood when it can be obtained, to save themselves the trouble 
of cutting down trees. This they tow to the spot, and sink 
it horizontally with mud and stones. They also employ 
pieces of green willows, birch, and poplars, intermixing the 
whole with mud and gravel, in a manner which contributes 
greatly to the strength of the dam. They observe, however, 
no order or method in the work, placing their materials as 
they can obtain them, except that they make the dam main- 
tain its regular sweep, and form all parts of equal strength. 
They carry the mud and stones in their fore-paws ; and in 
one night will collect as much as amounts to many thousands 
of their little loads. When drift-wood is not to be found, 
they obtain the timber they require from the groves skirting 
the lake or pond. To do this, they squat on then- hams, 
and rapidly gnaw through the stems of trees from six to 
twelve or fourteen inches in diameter, with their powerful 
incisors. Sometimes a tree will not fall prostrate, the boughs 



being caught by its neighbours. But the beaver is not to 
be disappointed ; he sets to work and gnaws away a little 
above the first place, thus giving it a fresh start, in order that 
the impetus may disengage it from the branches which keep 
it u]). The ti^ee being cut up, the beavers, uniting, tow the 

pieces down to the dam. 

They then plunge into the 
water and bring up the 
mud and small stones with 
which to keep it sunk. A 
lono^ constructed dam, bv 
being frequently repaired 
with fresh mud, becomes 
at length a solid bank, cap- 
able of resisting a heavy 
rush, either of water or 
ice ; and as the willow, 
poplar, and birch generally 
take root and shoot up, 
they by degrees form a 
regularly planted hedge, 
which in some places be- 
comes so tall that birds 
have been known to build 
their nests among the 
branches. These beaver 


dams also form bridges, over which two or three men may 
pass abreast, and leat.l their horses, without risk of breaking 
through. So rapidly do the members of the industrious 
community labour, that even the most serious damage to their 
dams, or habitations, is quickly repaired. They always carry 


the mud and stones in their fore-paws, pressed against their 
chins, but they drag the wood with their teeth. 

The creature does not employ its broad tail, as was once 
supposed, to plaster down its mud-work, nor does it use it as 
a vehicle for transporting materials ; its sole object being to 
guide it when in the water, and as a counterpoise, by moving 
it in an upward direction, to the tendency it would otherwise 
have of sinking head-foremost. The creatures cover the out- 
side of their houses every autumn with fresh mud as soon as 
the frost becomes severe. By this means it freezes as hard 
as stone, and prevents their common enemy, the wolverene, 
disturbino^ them durins^ the winter. From the beaver beinff 
seen to flap its tail when moving over its work, but especially 
when about to plunge into the water, has arisen the idea that 
it uses this member as a trowel. This custom it preserves 
even when it becomes tame and domesticated, particularly 
when suddenly startled. 

The beaver, says Captain Hardy, travels a long distance 
from his house in search of materials, both for building and 
food. He mentions having seen the stumps of some trees 
which had been felled, at least three-quarters of a mile from 
the beaver lodges. Its towing power in the water, and that 
of traction on dry land, is astonishing. The following account 
shows the coolness and enterprise of the animals, described 
by a witness to the fact : — The narrator having constructed a 
raft for the purpose of poling round the edge of the lake to get 
at the houses of the beaver, which were built in a swampy 
savannah, otherwise inaccessible, it had been left in the 
evening moored at the edge of the lake, close to the camp, 
and about a quarter of a mile from the nearest beaver's house, 
the poles lying on it. Next morning, on going down to the 


raft, the poles were missing ; so, cutting fresh ones, he started 
with the Indians towards the beaver village. On reaching 
their abodes, one of the poles was found deposited on the top 
of the houses. 

In a community of beavers there are frequently some who 
appear to do no work, and are called by the Canadian trappers 
Les paresseux, or Idlers. They live apart from the rest, tak- 
ing up their abodes in long tunnels, which they excavate. 
Several inhabit the same burrow ; and being males, the idea 
is that they have been conquered in the combats which take 
place among the males when seeking their mates, and thus, 
like monks of old, have retired from the world, — or perhaps it 
may be only for a period, till they have regained sufficient 
courage and strength to sally forth, and commence a happier 
existence with the partner of their choice. They are far more 
careless of their safety than the other beavers, and are thus 
easily caught by the trappers. 

The body of the beaver contains a curious odoriferous sub- 
stance, called by the trappers barkstone, but more scientifically 
"castor," or "castoreum." It is contained in two little bags 
about the size of a hen's egg, and is of a brownish, unctuous 
consistency. At one time it was supposed to possess valu- 
able medicinal properties. It is now, however, chiefly em- 
ployed by perfumers. The beavers themselves are strangely 
attracted by this substance, and when scenting it at a distance 
will invariably make their way to it. It is said that the in- 
habitants of a particular lodge go forth, and having rid them- 
selves of their superabundant castoreum at a little distance, 
return home ; when the beavers of another lodge, scenting 
the castoreum, proceed to the same spot, and covering it over 
with a layer of earth and leaves, deposit their own castoreum 


upon the heap. After a time, the former beavers go through 
the same process ; and this is continued until a mound of 
three or four feet in height has been raised. It is difficult to 
account for the object of this strange proceeding. It was not, 
however, till of late years that the sagacious Indians dis- 
covered that the castoreum was a certain bait for the animals 
themselves. Formerly, the bait they employed was a piece 
of green aspen, beaten up, and placed near the trap. At 
length an Indian tried whether a male might not be caught 
by adding some of the castoreum. By that time steel traps 
had been introduced, instead of the clumsy wooden traps 
before used. Not only were the males caught, but the females 
also ; and the trappers were now able with their steel traps 
to catch vast numbers of the infatuated animals. It is said 
that the creatures, when perceiving the scent, will sit upright, 
snuffing about in every direction, and squealing with excite- 
ment. The younger animals, however, are those chiefly 
caught. The old ones are often too cunning ; and it is affirmed 
that, instead of touching the bait, they will cover up the trap 
with mud and stones till a mound has been raised, and then, 
depositing their superabundant castoreum upon it, take their 

We must conclude our account by again quoting Captain 
Hardy. Of the infatuation of this animal for castoreum he 
saw several instances. " A trap was fastened by its steel 
chain to a stake, to prevent the beaver, when caught, taking 
it away. It slipped, however, and the beaver swam away with 
the trap, and it was looked upon as lost. Two nights after- 
wards he was again taken in a trap, with the other fast on his 
thigh. Another time a beaver, passing over a trap to get the 
castoreum, had his hind-leo^ broken. With his teeth he cut 


the broken leg off, and went away. It was supposed that he 
would not come again ; but two nights afterwards he was 
found fast in a trap — in each case tempted by the castoreum. 
The stake was always licked, or sucked, clean. The substance 
seems to act as a soporific, as the creatures, after tasting it, 
always remain a day without coming out of their houses. So 
wary generally are the beavers, that a trapper is always care- 
ful not to leave his scent on the spot. To avoid this he fre- 
quently cuts down a tree, and walks on its branches towards 
the edge of the path, afterwards withdrawing it, and plenti- 
fully sprinkling water around." 

The Indians and Canadian voyageurs eat the flesh of the 
beaver, esteeming it, when roasted with the skin on — the hair 
having been singed off — the most dainty of dishes. Early in 
this century, when beaver fur was much in demand for the 
manufacture of hats, upwards of 120,000 skins were exported 
from Quebec alone in one year. The warfare long waged 
against the unfortunate rodents now goes on with somewhat 
diminished activity. A change of fashion — the substitution 
of silk for beaver — has probably saved them from utter exter- 
mination. The scientific name of their tribe, Castor, was lono; 
a popular term for a hat ; but now that their fur has ceased 
to be employed as formerly, the term itself appears to have 
gone out of use. 


Voyaging along the margin of a lake, we may see on the 
shores numbers of little flattened oval nests composed of reeds 
and sedges, while numerous holes in the bank, with quantities 
of shells, chiefly of the fresh-water mussel, scattered round, show 
the entrance to the habitations of the musquash, or ondatra. 


called also the musk-rat. As evening approaches, the creatures 
may be seen in fine balmy weather gambolling on the surface, 
swimming rapidly here and there, or now and then diving 
below, apparently fearless of the passing canoe. The little 
sedge-built hut of the water-rat is constructed much in the 
same way as the beaver's larger mansion. The creature itself 
looks somewhat like the beaver, and some of its habits are 
also similar. It is rather more than two feet in total length, 
of which measurement about ten inches is occupied by the 
tail. The upper part of the body is of a dark brown colour, 
tinged in parts with a reddish hue, while the lower part is 
ashy gray. Its tail is flattened, but vertical. Like the 
beaver, it is furnished with an undercoat of soft downy fur. 
Its safety has been provided for by its peculiar colour, which 
is so like that of the muddy bank on which it dwells, that a 
keen eye can alone detect it. Its hinder feet are webbed, the 
imprint on the soft mud being very similar to that of a duck. 
With the exception of the flesh of the water-mussel, its food 
is vegetable. It is a great depredator in gardens, which it 
has been known to plunder of carrots, turnips, and maize — the 
stalks of which it cuts close down to the ground. 

It is sought for on account of it-s fur, which is very valu- 
able. The traps are set close to a tree, and when one of the 
creatures is caught, its companions will instantly attack it and 
tear it to pieces. Generally, however, in its struggles to get 
free, it carries the trap under the surface, and is thus drowned. 

Audubon, the naturalist, gives us an interesting description 
of them : — '' They are very lively, playful animals, when in 
their proper element — the water — and on a calm night, in a 
sequestered pool, may often be seen crossing and recrossing in 
every direction, leaving long ripples in the watei- Ijehind them, 


while others stand for a few moments on tufts of grass, stones, 
or logs, and then plunge over, one after the other, into the 
water. At the same time others are feeding on the grassy 
bank, dragging off the roots of various kinds of plants, or 
digging underneath the edge. These animals seem to form a 
little community of social playful creatures, who only require 
to be unmolested in order to be happy." 

It has been proposed to acclimatize these little rodents in 
England, under the idea that thus a valuable addition to the 
bank fauna of sluggish English streams would be obtained. 


Vast cities, with regularly laid streets, are often met with 
in extensive level spots on the prairie. The inhabitants are, 
however, not men, but creatures the size of a guinea-pig — 
rodents — a species of marmot. In their habit of associ- 
ating together in communities, they put us in mind of the 
industrious beaver ; but they are idle little fellows, evidently 
liking play better than work. Their heads are not unlike 
those of young terrier-pups, and their bodies are of a light 
brown colour. They have little stumpy tails, which, when 
excited, they constantly jerk up and twist about in a curious 
fashion. Their habitations are regular cones raised two or 
three feet above the gi'ound, with a hole in the apex, which 
is vertical for the depth of two or three feet, and then descends 
obliquely into the interior. From the peculiar yelp or short 
squeaky bark which they give, the hunters call them prairie- 

In each separate community, which consists of many thou- 
sand individuals, there is a president dog, who seems to have 
especial charge of the rest. As a stranger approaches, the 



creatures who are out of their houses scamper back as fast as 
their legs will cany them, and concealing all but their heads 
and tails, utter loud barks at the intruder. This done, the 
greater number dive out of sight with a curious somersault, 
their little tails whisking in the air. The chief dog, and per- 
haps two or three other sentinels with him^ remain on the 


tops of their houses barking lustily till the enemy gets within 
a few paces of them, when they also disappear, and the town 
remains silent and deserted. The traveller who wishes to 
observe their habits, by lying concealed and silent for a few 
minutes, may see after a time some little fellow pop his head 
out of his house, when he gives a few barks. It serves as a 
signal to the rest that danger has disappeared, and immediately 


the others emerge from their houses and begin to frisk about 
as usual. 

The holes of these curious creatures are shared by two 
very different species of guests, one of which, at all events, 
must prove most unwelcome. One of these is a little owl, 
which may be seen sitting in front of the burrows or flying 
about near the ground ; or, when the sun sinks low, hopping 
through the town, and picking up the lizards and chameleons 
which everywhere abound. He can apparently do no harm 
to the inhabitants, if he fails to benefit them. The other 
inmates are rattlesnakes, who, regardless of any objections 
which may be raised by the dogs, take possession of their 
holes, and when the sun shines lie coiled up at their sides, 
now and then erecting their treacherous heads and rattling 
an angry note of warning, should a thoughtless pup by any 
chance approach too near. The Indians suppose that all three 
creatures live on the most friendly footing ; but as the rattle- 
snakes when killed have frequently been found with the 
bodies of the little prairie-dogs in their insides, their object 
in establishino^ themselves in the localitv seems verv evident. 

The poor little dog, indeed, leads a life of constant alarm, 
with numerous enemies ever on the watch to surprise him. 
Hawks and eagles, hovering high in air, often pounce down 
and carry off unfortunate members of the community in their 
powerful talons, The savage cayote, or prairie-wolf, when 
])ressed by hunger during the winter, frequently attacks the 
dome-shaped habitation of the little animal, and with claws 
and teeth tears to pieces the walls, plunging his nose into the 
passage which he has opened, and working his way down till 
he seizes the trembling little inmate, who in vain retreats to 
the inmost recesses of his abode. 


It has been supposed that the prairie-dog hibernates ; but 
this is not the case, though he lays in a store of provision for 
winter consumption — he being as lively at that period as at 
any other, though he wisely prefers keeping within the house 
while the icy blasts blow across the plains. The creature is 
especially tenacious of life, and even when shot through the 
body will manage to gain his burrow at rapid speed. He 
does not run into it, but, like the rabbit, he makes a jump in 
the air, turns what looks like a somersault, and, nourishing his 
hind-legs and whisking his tail, disappears as if by magic. 
In an instant afterwards, however, his little sparkling eyes 
and nose may be seen above the ground; and if no stranger is 
in sight, he, with the rest of the community, will commence 
gambolling and frisking about, forgetful of his numerous foes 
and previous alarm. It is very difficult to obtain a specimen 
of the prairie-dog, as, even if mortally wounded, he generally 
tumbles into his hole before being captured. The inhabitants 
of the plain, however, manage to catch the animal alive by 
dragging a cask of water to one of their holes which does not 
communicate with the rest of the village. They then pour 
the water down the hole, either drowning the creature or com- 
pelling him to come out. He is very soon reconciled to a state 
of captivity, and after two days appears on the most intimate 
terms with his captors. Even when turned loose again the 
creatures will not leave the neighbourhood of the house, but 
burrow under the foundation, making themselves quite at home, 
and fearlessly come out to be fed when summoned by a whistle. 
They become, indeed, very interesting and pretty little pets. 

We shall meet with a similar animal on the })ampas of 
South America, and which has also the companionship of a 
little owl. 

(379) , 10 


There are several other species of marmot in America 
One is called the Quebec Marmot, which lives a solitary life, 
making an almost perpendicular burrow in dry ground at a 
distance from water. 

The beautiful little, often-tamed Woodchuck, is another 
American marmot. It makes a deep burrow in the sides of 
hills, lining the chamber at the inner end with dry leaves 
and grass. It may frequently be seen by the traveller run- 
ning rapidly along the tops of fences, as if to keep company 
with him — now getting ahead, then stopping and looking back 
to see if he is coming, and then going on again, tilL growing 
tired of the amusement, it gives a last stare and then scampei*s 
back the way it has come. 


Unattractive as the fretful porcupine appears when con- 
sidered as a means of satisfying man's hunger, it is hunted 
throughout North America for the sake of its flesh, which 
forms an especially dainty dish, not only in the opinion oi 
the Indians, but in that of every European who has partaken 
of it. The creature dwells in small caverns, either under a 
pile of boulders, or amid the roots of large trees ; but it also, 
with its sharp claws, easily climbs up the trunks, and may 
sometimes be seen reposing on their very summits, where it 
feeds on the bark of the young branches, or the berries when 
they become ripe. 

The Canadian porcupine is also known as the cawquaw or 
urson. It is nearly four feet long altogether, the head and 
body measuring upwards of three feet, while the tail is about 
three inches in length. It is less completely defended with 
spines than the porcupines of other countries — part of its 




body being co veered with long, coarse brown hair, which ahnost 
conceals the deeply-set, short, pointed quills, except those on 
the head, hind-quarters, and tail. The spines are about three 
inches long. When the animal is brought to bay, it sets them 
u|) in a fan-like shape, and 
presents a formidable row of 
points turned towards its op- 
ponent. When attacked, it 
defends itself with its thick, 
muscular tail ; and wherever 
it strikes, it leaves a number of 
its easily-detached quills, with 
barbed points, sticking fii-mly 
in its opponent's body. These 
spines are of a dull white colour, the points being dark. 
Awkward as the porcupine looks, it can gallop along at con- 
siderable speed ; and wlien surprised, generally escapes to its 
rocky den — or if it gains a tree, scrambles up the tiunk at a 
rapid rate. A broad trail leads to the porcupine's den, by 
which it is easily discovered, as also by the ordure outside the 
entrance. A number of these paths lead from the den to its 
feeding-ground : in the autumn to a beech grove, on the mast 
or nuts of which it revels ; and in the winter- time, to some 
tall hemlock or spruce trees. Tlie Indian hunter also discovers 
it by the marks of its claws on the bark ; and should he be 
unfortunate in his search for larger game, he seldom fails to 
obtain a roast of porcupine. The creature is hunted by the 
Indians with little dogs, which seem to take great delight in 
the sport, and, in spite of the formidable weapons of theii' 
opponents, will rush in an<l draw them out of their dens 
witliout injury to themselves. Even the settlers' dogs exhibit 




attach to it a loner twisted withe. 

the same strong fancy for 
hunting porcupines, but 
are not so successful in 
coming off without injury; 
indeed, they often issue 
from the combat covered 
over with spines sticking 
in their flesh. 

Captain Hardy gives us 
an anecdote of the extra- 
ordinary fancy the Indian 
dogs have for hunting por- 
cupines. One of these 
dogs was quite blind ; and 
yet, if the porcupine 
'' treed/' the little animal 
would sit down beneath, 
occasionally barking to 
inform his master where 
lodofed the fretful one. 
Another dog was not to 
be beaten when once on a 
porcupine. If the animal 
was in its den, in he went, 
and, if possible, would haul 
it out by the tail ; if not 
strong enough, his master 
would fasten a handker- 
chief round his middle, and 
The dog would go in, and 

presently, between the two, out would come the porcupine. 


By the end of the " fall/' the animal becomes loaded with 
fat, from feeding on the berries found in the '' barrens." Its 
cry is a plaintive, whining sound, not very dissimilar to that 
of a calf moose. The female produces two at a birth early in 
the spring. The porcupine can easily be tamed ; and Audu- 
bon mentions one which was so entirely domesticated, that it 
would come voluntarily to its master, and take fruit or vege- 
tables out of his hand, rubbing against him as does an affec- 
tionate cat. The same animal, however, showed considerable 
courage. On one occasion it was attacked by a ferocious 
mastiff. One morning the dog was seen making a dash at 
some object in the corner of the fence. This proved to be the 
tame porcupine, which had escaped from its cage. The dog 
seemed regardless of all its threats, and probably supposing 
it to be an animal not more formidable than a cat, sprang at 
it with open mouth. The porcupine seemed to swell up, in 
an instant, to nearly double its size ; and as the dog sprang 
upon it, dealt him such a sidewise blow with the tail, as to 
cause the mastiff to relinquish his hold instantly, and set up 
a howl of pain. His mouth and nose were full of quills. He 
could not close his jaws, but hurried, open-mouthed, off the 
premises. Although the servants instantly extracted the 
spines from the mouth of the dog, his head was terribly 
pierced, and it was several weeks before he recovered. The 
porcupine, however, suffered severely from the combat ; and 
as the hot weather came on, showed gi^eat signs of distress, 
and finally died of heat. 

The quills of the porcupine are brilliantly stained by the 
Indians with a variety of colours, and are extensively used b}^ 
their squaws in ornamenting with fanciful patterns the bircli- 
l»ark ware which they sell to the white settlers. 




EVERAL species of the bear tribe inhabit Ainerica ; 
the two most numerous of which are the black 
bear, or musquaw, and the far-famed ferocious 
grizzly bear of the Rocky Mountains. The black bear is 
found generally among the forests and plains of the east, 
though the gi^zzly also descends from his mountain fastnesses, 
and makes his way through the low country to a considerable 
distance from his usual abode. Although the black bear has 
not obtained the same character for fierceness as his grizzly 
relative, he often proves a formidable opponent when attacked 
by human foes, and is also dreaded on account of his depre- 
dations among their flocks and herds. He is, indeed, a mon- 
strous and powerful animal, often reaching six feet in length 
from the muzzle to the tail — the tail being only about two 
inches long — while he stands from three to three and a half 
feet in height at the shoulder. He is covered with a smooth 
and glossy coat of tliick hair, without any wool at the base. 



He does not always wear a black suit ; sometimes he puts on 
a brown one. When his coat is perfectly black, he has a cin- 
namon patch on his muzzle. He varies, too, in shape. Occa- 
sionally he is long and low, at others his body is short, — and 
he has great length of limb. Under ordinary circumstances, 
he restricts himself to a vegetable diet, but is veiy fond of 
a small species of snail which feeds on the prairie grass ; and, 
like othei's of his relatives, he is greatly addicted to honey. 
As his feet are furnished with strong sharp claws, he is able 
to make his way up the trunks of trees to reach his favourite 


food. In this object he displays great perseverance and acute- 
ness. However high up it may be, or in positions most 
difficult of access, he will manage to reach the combs contain- 
ing the sweet repast. Should the comb be hidden away in the 
hollow of some aged tree, with an entrance too small for ad- 
mitting his huge paw, he sets to work with his teeth, and 
gnaws away the wood till he has formed a breach of sufficient 
size to allow him to put it in. He is utterly regardless of the 
assaults of the tiny inhabitants of the comb ; and scooping out 
their honey and young together with his fore-paws, devours 



the whole mass. He will sometimes, when pressed by hun- 
ger, break into the settler's barn and carry off sheep, pigs, 
and small cattle into the neiohbouring woods ; and so cun- 


ning is he, that it is not often he is overtaken, or entrapped 
in the snare laid for his capture. 

The Indians of Nova Scotia call him Mooin, which reminds 
us of Bruin. The Indians throughout the country pay great 



ro.s])cct to the bear, having, like the Esquimaux, a high opinion 
of his intellectual powers, and believing that he is in some 
way related to them, and possessed of an almost human spirit. 
Still, they do not scruple to kill him ; but as soon as the 
breath is out of his body, they cut off his head, which they 
place ceremoniously w^ithin a mat decorated with a variety of 
ornaments. They then blow tobacco-smoke into the nostrils, 
and the chief hunter, praising his courage, and paying a 
variety of compliments to his surviving relatives, expresses 
regret at having been compelled to deprive him of life, and 
his hope that his own conduct has been altogether satisfac- 
toiy to Mr. Mooin, and worthy of the renown they have both 

The musquaw hibernates, 
like other bears of northern 
regions, and is very particular 
in selecting a dry cave for his 
long winter's nap. At the 
''fall," he is especially fat, hav- 
ing lived for some time on the 
beech-mast, blue-berries, and 
other fruits which grow in 
great profusion in the forest. 
He then weighs 500 pounds, 
and even 600 pounds. The 


chief part of the fat lies along the back, and on either side, as 
in the flitch of the hog. There is no doubt that it is by the 
absorption of this fat throughout his winter fast of four months 
that he is enabled to exist — at this time evaporation being at a 
stand-still. Havinor at lencjth selected a cavern, or the hollow 
of a decayed tree, for his lair, he scrapes out all the dead leaves, 


till the ground is perfectly clean and smooth. It must be 
deep enough to prevent the snow from drifting into it, and 
free from any water trickling down from above. He objects 
especially to a habitation which has been occupied by the 
porcu})ine, that animal being far from cleanly in its habits. 
Perhaps also he has an objection to the quills with which the 
creature is fimiished, from their being likely to produce dis- 
agi'eeable wounds. He forgets, perhaps, that the rubbish he 
has scraped out will betray his abode to the hunter — which 
it assuredly does. The Indian, on discovering this indubit- 
able sign of Mooin's abode, takes steps to arouse him and 
|)lant a bullet in his head, or to batter out his brains with his 
axe. Mooin, however, in spite of his usual sagacity, ignorant 
that his abode may be discovered, perhaps already overcome 
with a strange desire to sleep, crawls in for his winter's 
snooze. He is frequently accompanied by a partner, who will 
add to his warmth and comfort. He there lies down with his 
fore-paws curled round his head and nose, which he pokes 
underneath his chest. Here he remains asleep till the warm 
sun of March or April tempts him to crawl out in search ot 
food to replenish his empty stomach and strengthen his weak- 
ened frame. Madam Mooin is generally, at this time, em- 
ployed in the pleasing office of increasing her family. Her 
young cubs, when born, are curiously small, helpless little 
beings, not larger than rats. Generally there are two of 
them, and they are born about the middle of February. She 
manages to nourish them without taking any food herself till 
March or April, when she also, like her better half, sallies 
forth in search of provender. The young creatures grow but 
slowly, and do not attain their full size till they are about 
four years old. Even when about a couple of months old, the 


little cul>s ai"i3 not much larger tlian a retriever I>"l>I»y '>{' the 
same age. 

The musquaw finds great difficulty at first in satisfying 
the cravings of his appetite. He searches for the cranberries 
in the open bogs, and is driven even to eat the rank maishy 
grass. As the snow disappears, he seeks for wood-lice and 
otlier creatures in rotten trunks. Hungry as he is, he labours 
very patiently for his food. The prehensile form of his lips 
enables him to pick up with wonderful dexterity even the 
smallest insect or berry. As the ice breaks up in the lakes, 
he })roceeds thither to fish for smelts and other small fish, 
^hich he catches with wonderful dexterity with his paws, 
throwing them out rapidly behind him. When, however, 
pressed by hunger, and unable to obtain the smaller creatures 
for food, he will attack young deer if he can take them by 
surprise ; but as he can seldom do this, he is often tempted 
into the neighbourhood of settlements. Here he lies in wait 
for the cattle as they wander through the woods to their 
spring pastures ; and when once he has taken to this dangerous 
l)roceeding, he is said to continue it. On catching sight of a 
herd, should it not be accompanied by a human being, he 
drives the animals into some boggy swamp, and there singling 
out a victim, he jumps on its back, and deals it a few 
tremendous blows across the head and shoulders, till the poor 
animal becomes an easy prey. He then drags it off into the 
neighbouring wood, and devours it at his leisure. This habit 
is often the cause of his destruction. On any remainder of 
the animal being found, the aggTieved settler sets off, rifle in 
hand and axe in his belt, to punish the aggressor. The beai-, 
he well knows, will revisit the carcass. So cunning, however, 
is Bruin, and conscious of guilt, that he is constantly on the 


watch, as he returns, for an enemy. He creeps up, accord- 
ingly, looking on either side, his caution increasing as he 
approaches his prey. The hunter, therefore, to outwit him, 
seeks his trail in the direction in which he has retreated, and 
conceals himself near it, but at some distance from the carcass. 
He waits till the sun is setting, when he is almost sure to see 
the bear come tripping nimbly along, not yet thinking it 
necessary to employ caution. At this moment a rifle-bullet, 
placed in his head, deprives him of his intended feast and 
his life at the same time. 

The black bear possesses wonderful strength — said to be 
fully equal to that of ten men. Experiments have been tried, 
in which so many persons have attempted to drag oflT a cask 
baited with molasses, or other sweet stuff", secured to a rope, 
when the bear has caiTied it away with perfect ease, in spite 
of their united efforts to draw it from him. 

The most dangerous time to attack a she-bear is in the 
spring, when she is accompanied by her cubs. If she has 
time, she will lead them off" to a place of safety ; but if not, 
she will chase the intruder from her domains — and woe betide 
him if he cannot manage to escape her claws ! Bears are 
easily taken in traps, baited with small bundles of sticks 
smeared with molasses. They are hunted in the " fall," when 
they have become fat with the ample supply of blue and 
whortle berries or beech-mast on which they have been feed- 
ing. To obtain the beech-mast, Bruin will frequently climb a 
tree, and sometimes, like the orang-outang of Eastern seas, 
will build a rough platform for himself among the upper 
branches, where he can lie concealed and munch his food at 
leisure. The most certain way to obtain the animal in this 
case is to cut down the tree and shoot him as he reaches the 


ground, for, as may be supposed, he is in no amiable mood 
when thus disturbed, and, unless speedily killed, would at- 
tempt to wreak a fearful vengeance on his assailants. The 
black bear springs on his prey in the same way as does the 
tiger or panther of the southern part of the continent. He 
thus frequently kills the young moose, though the full-grown 
animal is too active and powerful to be thus caught. He 
will even attack horses in the same way, though the latter 
animal often receives him with a furious kick. 

In the summer, the black bears unite and hunt in gangs, 
making the forest resound with their fearful snarling and 
loud moaning cries. They give warning to the hunter to pile 
fuel on his camp-fire, and to take his rifle in hand, for, strong 
in numbers, they will not hesitate to approach him, and, if 
pressed by hunger, to make an assault on his camp. 


The most dreaded inhabitant of the Rocky Mountains and 
their neighbourhood, is the savage grizzly, frequently called 
by the hunters Old Ephraim. Even the bravest hunter, when 
making his way through this wild region, finds it necessary 
to call all his courage and hardihood to his aid, when he sees 
one of these huge monsters sitting upon its hind-legs prepared 
for a rush towards him, and uttering a loud, harsh sound, like 
a person breathing quickly. Should he not wish for a con- 
test, his best plan is to face the monster boldly, moving 
slowly on, but ever keeping his eyes fixed on the animal. 
The bear will, in most cases, after watching him attentively 
for some time, turn round and gallop off. If, however, 
he should lose his presence of mind, and attempt to fly — or 
should he fail, when he fires, to shoot the monster through 



the brain — in all probability he will quickly be toiTi to 

The grizzly frequently attains a length of nine feet, and 
weighs from 700 to (SOO pounds. His head, in proportion 
to his muzzle, is verv laroe. He has a lono- narrow muzzle. 


somewhat flattened, with large, powerful, canine teeth. His 
eyes are small, and deeply sunk in his head. His tail is so 
short, that it is completely concealed by the surrounding hair. 
He possesses remarkably long feet, which, in the full-grown 
animal, are eighteen inches in length ; and they are armed with 
sharp and ]iowerful claws five inches long, and so extremely 

TiTE nRTZzr.y r.EATi. ir.o 

sharp, tliat they cut into the flesh like knives. He can also 
use them separately like fingers, so that he can grasp a dry 
clod of eai-th and crumble it to dust as a human being could 
do with his hand. He can also, with them, dig into the 
gi^ound ; and when the weight of his body is not too great, 
they enable him to climb trees, although not with the speed 
of his black brother of the plains. As acorns form a portion 
of his food, it is said that he will climb a tree and shake the 
boughs vehemently to make them fall, when he descends and 
revels on the fruit his ingenuity has thus obtained. The 
hunter who has to fly for his life may however escape from a 
bear, — when the monster is filled out with autumn food, and 
cannot manage to raise his huge body from the gi'ound, — by 
climbing a tree. 

The grizzly varies much in colour. Sometimes his fur is 
of a dullish brown, freckled over with grizzly hairs ; while 
other specimens are entirely of a steely gray. In all cases, 
the grizzly hairs give a somewhat white appearance to the 
surface of the fur. When the animal is young, his fur is of a 
rich brown, and often very long and thick, and much finer 
than that of the adult animal. When the creature walks, he 
swings his body in an odd fashion, rolling his head, at the 
same time, from side to side, which gives him a remarkably 
awkward look. Although the grizzly occasionally satisfies 
himself with vegetable diet, he Avill also attack and devoui- 
any animals he can kill. He does not hesitate to assault the 
powerful bison ; and on overtaking a herd, he will spring with- 
out hesitation on the largest bull, and, with the tremendous 
strokes of his powerful paws, speedily bring it to the ground, 
when he will without difliculty drag the enormous carcass ofi' 
to his lair, to devour it at his I'^isure. All other animals 


stand in awe of the grizzly ; and even the largest pack of 
hungry wolves will not venture to attack him, nor indeed 
will they touch his carcass after he has succumbed to the rifle 
of the hunter. Horses especially are terror-stricken when 
they scent or see a grizzly ; and not until they have been care- 
fully trained, will they even allow the skin of one to be placed 
on their backs. 

The grizzly employs his claws both in digging for roots 
and in burying any large animal he may have killed, to pre- 
serve the carcass till he requires it for another meal. An 
anecdote is given of a hunter who, pursued by one of these 
monsters, took advantage of this propensity to save his life. 
His rifle was unloaded. Of course he had not wounded the 
bear, or his stratagem would have been in vain. Throwing 
himself on the ground, the hunter closed his eyes, and stretch- 
ing out his limbs, feigned to be dead. It must have been a 
fearful moment when he felt the bear lift up his body in his 
claws to carry him away to the neighbourhood of his lair. 
The bear having dug a hole, placed him in it, and covered 
him carefully with leaves, gi^ass, and bushes. An Indian, or 
hardy backwoodsman, could alone have existed under such 
circumstances. The hunter waited anxiously till he heard 
loud snores proceeding from the cavern. Then, slipping up, 
like Jack the Giant-killer from the castle of the ogre, he 
scampered oft' as fast as his legs could carry him. 

Mr. Kane — the Canadian artist — mentions meeting a 
grizzly when in company with an old, experienced half-breed 
hunter. Francois by name. Francois, however, declined 
firing, alleging that the risk was greater than the honour to 
be obtained — his own character for bravery having been long 
established. Youno- hunters mio^ht do so for the sake of 


proudly wearing the claws — one of the ornaments most 
esteemed by an Indian chief — round his neck. Although 
Kane's gun had two barrels, and Fran<^ois had his rifle, they 
knew it was ten chances to one they would not kill him in 
time to prevent a hand-to-hand encounter. The bear walked 
on, looking at them now and then, but seeming to treat them 
with contempt. 

Some years before this, a party of ten Canadian voyageurs, 
on a trade excursion in the neighbourhood of the mountains, 
were quietly seated round a blazing fire, eating a hearty 
dinner of deer, when a large, half-famished bear cautiously 
approached the group from behind a chestnut-tree. Before 
they were aware of his presence, he sprang across the fire, 
seized one of the men, who had a well-finished bone in his 
hand, round the waist with his two fore-paws, and ran about 
fifty yards on his hind-legs with him before he stopped. The 
hunter's comrades were so thunderstruck at the unexpected 
appearance of such a visitor, and his sudden retreat with 
*'pauvre" Louisson — the man who had been canned off* — that 
they for some time lost all presence of mind, and, in a state 
of confusion, were running to and fro, each expecting in his 
turn to be kidnapped in a similar manner. At length Bap- 
tiste Le Blanc, a half-breed hunter, seized his gun, and was 
in the act of firing at the bear, when he was stopped by some 
of the others, who told him that he would inevitably kill their 
friend, owing to the position he was then in. During this 
parley, Bruin, relaxing his grasp of the captive, whom he kept 
securely under him, very leisurely began picking the bone 
the latter had dropped. Once or twice Louisson attempted 
to escape, which only caused the bear to watch him more 
closely. On his making another attempt, the bear again 

(3V9 11 

162 WOLVES. 

seized him round the waist, and commenced giving him one 
of those dreadful embraces which generally end in death. 
The poor fellow was now in great agony, and gave way to 
the most pitiful screams. Observing Baptiste with his gun 
ready, anxiously watching a safe opportunity to lire, he cried 
out, '' Tire ! tire ! mon cher frere, si tu m'aimes ! A la tete ! 
a la tete ! " This was enough for Le Blanc, who instantly 
let lire, and hit the bear over the right temple. He fell; and 
at the same moment dropped Louisson. He gave him an 
ugly claw along the face, however, which for some time after- 
wards s})oiled his beauty. After he had tired, Le Blanc 
darted to his companion's side, and w^ith his couteau de chasse 
quickly finished the sufferings of the man-stealer, and rescued 
his friend from impending death. On skinning the bear, 
scarcely any meat was found on his bones, showing that it 
was in a fit of himgry desperation that he had thus made one 
of the boldest attempts at kidnapping ever heard of in the 
legends of ursine courage. 


There are several species of wolves in North America : one, 
a large, black animal, which inhabits the forests; and another, 
much smaller, which hunts the bison and deer in vast packs 
across the praiiie, and is called the prairie-wolf Lilce the 
wolf of Europe, the black wolf is a fierce, dangerous creature, 
and equally cowardly. When driven into the corner of a 
hut, as has sometimes occurred, or when caught in a trap, 
he will not attempt to defend himself against any person who 
may enter to destroy him. Audubon mentions an instance 
of this. A farmer with whom he was staying having lost a 
number of his animals by wolves, dug several pitfalls in the 




nr'ighbourliood of his farm. Three large wolves were found 
in the morning in one of these traps. The farmer, instead 
of shooting them from above, boldly descended into the trap, 
and seizing the creatures one by one by the hind-legs, severed 
the chief tendon, thus preventing their escaping. He after- 
wards killed and skinned them at his leisure, their skins 
being of sufficient value to re]>ay him for the loss of his 

16 1 


The prairie -wolves are considerably smaller than their 
brethren of the woods. They travel in large packs, a solitary 
one being seldom seen. Their skins are of no value. The 
Indians will not waste their powder upon them, and they 
therefore multiply so greatly, that some parts of the country 
are completely overrun by them. They are, however, caught 
by pitfalls covered over with switches baited with meat. 
They destroy a great number of horses, particularly in the 
winter season, when the latter get entangled in the snow. In 


tliis situation, two or three wolves will often fasten on one 
animal, and speedily, with their long claws, tear it to pieces. 
The horses, however, often bravely defend themselves ; and 
Mr. Goss mentions finding near the bodies of two of these 
animals, which had been killed the night before, eight wolves 
lying dead and maimed around, — some with their brains 
scattered, and others with their legs or ribs broken. 

Ijii us watch from an ambush the manoeuvres of a pack of 

WoLVKS. 165 

savage cayotcs — tlic name given to one species of wolf — wliile 
hunting tlieir prey. Our ears are first assailed l)y a few shrill, 
currish liarks at intervals, like the outpost firing of skirmish- 
ing parties. These are answered by similar barks from the 
opposite direction, till the sounds gTadually approximate on 
the junction of the ditierent bands. The horses, sensible of the 
approach of danger, begin to paw the ground, sncnt, toss up 
their heads, look wildly about them, and exhibit other 
symptoms of fear. We prepare our guns ready for action. 
Three or four stallions take the lead, and wait, with com- 
|)arative composure, for the approach of the enemy. The 
allies at length enter the field in a semicircular fonn, with 
their flanks extended, for the evident purpose of surrounding 
their prey. 

They are between three and four hiuidred strong. The 
horses, from experience, know well their object, and, dread- 
ing an encounter with so numerous a force, instantly turn 
round and gallop off in a contraiy direction. Their flight 
is the signal for the wolves to advance. The brutes, utter- 
ing a simultaneous yell, charge after the fugitives, still pre- 
serving their crescent form. Two or three horses, much out 
of condition, are quickly overtaken, when they commence 
kicking at the advance-guard of the enemy ; but though 
several of the wolves receive severe blows, they will, it is evi- 
dent — being reinforced by others—quickly des})atch the unfor- 
tunate horses. 

It is time for us to emero-e from our concealment and fire a 
volley at the enemy's centre, by which several are brought 
down. The whole battalion of cowards instantly wheel about, 
and fly towards the hills in the utmost disorder ; while the 
horses, hearing the sound, come galloping U[) to us for pro- 

11 B 



tection, and by their neighing express their joy and gratitude 
at our timely interference. 


Although lynxes are not so numerous in America as 
wolves, they are equally destructive, and individually more 
daring — attacking deer and smaller animals when they can 
take them at a disadvantage. They seldom fly, as wolves do, 
on the first approach of man. In size, the largest does not 
exceed the dimensions of an English mastiff*. The Canadian 
lynx is frequently termed the Peeshoo, and sometimes " Le 
Chat " by the French Canadians. His coat is covered with 
long hairs of a dark gray hue, besprinkled with black, the 
extremities of which are white, with dark mottlings here and 

there on the back. Some- 
times the fur is of a ruddy 
chestnut tinge, and the 
limbs are darker than the 
rest of the body — which is 
about three feet lono;. The 
animal possesses powerful 
limbs, and thick, heavy 
feet, furnished with strong, 
white claws. When moving 
over the gi'ound it leaps in successive bounds, its back being 
slightly arched, and all its feet pitching at the same time. 
It also swims well, and can cross rivers and lakes a couple 
of miles broad. Strong as it is, it appears it is easily killed 
by a blow on the back with a slight stick. It ranges through- 
out the greater part of the continent, and is shot or trapped 
for the sake of its fur, Avhich is of considerable vahie. 





The wolverene, or glutton, carries off the palm for cunning 
fioni all the other animals. It is also more ferocious and 
daring for its size than even the huge grizzly, while for 
voracity it is unsurpassed. In appearance, it is somewhat 


similar to a young bear. It is of a brownish-black colour, 
with a black muzzle and eyes of a dark hue, the space 
between them being of a brown tint. The paws are also 
quite black, contrasting with the ivory whiteness of the 
claws. It possesses large and expanded paws, to enable it to 


pass over frozen snow ; indeed, so large are they, that its 
ibotsteps are often mistaken for the tracks of the bear. In 
one of its habits it resembles Mr. Bruin, havino' the custom, 
when it finds an animal which it cannot devour at one meal, 
of carrying oft' the remainder and hiding it in some secure 

The glutton moves at a somewhat slow pace, and appears 
rather deficient in agility ; but at the same time he is per- 
severing and determined, and will range over a wide extent 
of country in search of weak or dying animals, stealing un- 
awares upon hares and birds, &c. When he takes a fancy to 
some larger quadruped as it lies asleep, he springs upon it, 
tearing open the neck and throat. He is supposed to prefer 
putrid flesh, and the odour which proceeds from him would 
lead us to suppose that such is the case. The trappers look 
upon him with especial hatred, as, with his usual cunning, he 
seeks out their hoards of provisions in cache, and destroys 
their marten-traps. He himself is so sly that he is seldom 
caught in a snare. When he finds one, he approaches it from 
))ehind, and pulling it to pieces from the outside, carries off 
the bait. The marten-hunter will o-o forth and set a line of 
traps, extending to upwards of forty miles in length or cir- 
cumference. The Avolverene, observing what he is about, 
follows at a distance, carefully pulling the traps to pieces as 
he leaves them behind, and eating off the heads of the par- 
tridges or other birds which have been used as bait, declining 
all the time to run his nose into dano-er. When a sable or 
marten is entrapped, he tears out the dead animal and carries 
it away. It is even supposed that he will attack a hybernat- 
insf bear in his den, and manao-e to kill him before Bruiu 
has aroused himself sufhcientlv for his defence. 


The wolvereno is the fur- trapper's ^Teatest foe. and. as may 
be supposed, he lias no mercy shown liim. The ennninL;- 
creature, moreover, in spite of Ids cleverness, sometimes oets 
cauo'ht. Mr. Paul Kane, in one of his journevs across the 
country, liad left a cache composed of lo^s huilt together, 
somethino; like a loi:>--house, but not verA' closely tittcil. 
Impelled l)y hunger after a lojig journey, he and his com- 
|)anion on their Avay back reached their cache, and began 
throwino- off the h(\avy logs which covered the top and con- 
cealed it. The Indian, hearing a great disturbance within, 
called to Mr. Kane to fetch the guns. Just as he got u\), a 
line fat wolverene jumped out, but was immediately shot 
down. The creature must have been starved and desperately 
thin to have squeezed himself through the openings l)etweeu 
the logs, and no doubt, impelled by hunger and the smell of 
the meat inside, had not thought much of a slight squeeze. 
When, however, he was once in, and had enjoyed a few good 
meals, he could not o-et out aoain, and the idea of starvino- 
himself as long as the meat lasted did not ap])ear to have 
occurred to him. 

The disappointment to the hungry travellers was very 
great, as but little food was left, and that was mangled, torn, 
and tossed about in the dirt l^v the animal. 


To obtain a satisfactory sio-ht of the raccoon, we must set 
out into the forest by torchlight, accompanied by dogs, with 
fowling-] )iece in hand. As he remains during the dav in 
some hollow tree, it is rarely we can get a good view of him. 
Even if by chance found on the oi-ound. he ascends the tree so 
rai)idlv, that he is stowed awav before our riile can reach the 



shoulder. The well-trained dog, however, quickly finds him 

when roving about the woods at night. 

Let us accom- 
pany Audubon on 
a 'coo'n hunt. Our 
native companions 
have gone before 
with the doo's, who 
are baying at the 
raccoon in an open 
pait of the forest. 
On our coming up, 
a singular scene 
presents itself to 
us. The flare of 
our torch seems to 
distress him. His 
coat is rufiied, and 
his rounded tail 
seems thrice its 
ordinary size. His 
eyes shine like 
emeralds. With 

foaming jaws he 
watches the dogs, 
ready to seize by 
the snout each who 
comes within reach. 
His guttural growl- 

ings, instead of intimidating his assailants, excite them the 

more. He seizes one, however, by the lip. It is a danger- 




oiis proceeding, for, while thus far victorious, tlie other curs 
attack him in flank and rear, while their companion yells 
pitifully. The raccoon will not let go, but the other dogs, 
seizing him fast, worry him to death. Yet to the last he 
holds tightly the dog's lip. 

While we stand gazing at the poor animal, all around is, 
by the flare of the torch, rendered trel)ly dark and dismal. 
It is a scene for a skilful painter. 

The raccoon is about the same size as a small fox, and 


though somewhat like it, has also rather an ursine appearance. 
Pie has a tufted tail marked with black and white bands. 
The head tapers somewhat like that of the fox, but the ears 
are short and slightly rounded, the forehead broad, and the 
nose sharp. The. fore -legs being shorter than the binder, 
when he stands the tail end of his body is lifted higher than 
the front, and consequently his back appears ciu'ved. He 
walks like the dog, putting the tips of his toes to the ground ; 
but when he stops he lays his feet flat. 

He receives no mercy from the farmers, for he is of a 


Scinguinaiy and savagt' dispositiun, and commits great havoc 
among domestic as Avell as wild birds, always destroying far 
more than he requires ; merely eating off their heads, or la})- 
ping up the blood which flows from theii- wounds. He com- 
mits occasionally ravages in sugai-cane or Indian-corn planta- 
tions ; and, climVjing with ease, catches birds, and devours 
their eggs. He resembles the squirrel in his movements ; 
and, like that aiumal, when eating, sits on his hind-legs, and 
uses his fore-feet to carry his food to his mouth. A story 
is told of a young tame raccoon let loose in a poultry -yard, 
when, his natural dis})osition overcoming his civilized manners, 
he sprang on a cock strutting in a dignified fashion among the 
hens, and lixed himself on its back. The bird, surprised at so 
unusual an attack, began scanqjering rc>und the yard, the hens 
scattering far and wide in the utmost confusion. Still the 
little animal kept his seat, till he managed to get hold of the 
unfortunate cock's head in his jaws, and before the bird 
could be rescued, had crunched it up — still keeping his seat, in 
spite of the dying struggles of his victim ; and probably, had 
he not been bagged, would have treated all the feathered in- 
habitants of the yard in the same fashion. When out hunt- 
ing- on his own account, he often hides himself amonii" the 
long reeds on the bank of a lake or stream, and pouncing out 
on the wild ducks as they swim incautiously by, treats them 
as he does the domestic fowls on shore. 

He partakes considerably of the cuiniii\g of the fox, yet, 
like that animal, is frequently outwitted. A raccoon after 
a long chase managed to reach a tree, which he quickly 
climbed, with the aid of his claws, snugly ensconcing himselt 
in the deserted nest of a croAV. In vain the hunters sought 
for him, till his long, annulated tail, which he had forgotten 



to coil up within tlic nest, was seen pendent below it ; and 
the poor raccoon was quickly brought to the ground b}^ a riile 

He has gained the name of the lotor, oi* the washer, in 


consequence of his habit of plunging his dry food into water 
before eating it. He also drinks a large quantity of water. 
When moistening his food, he grasps it with both his fore- 
])aws, moving it violently backwards and forwards, as a person 
does washinu" clothes in a stream. The German naturalists 


call him tlie washing-bear. Though savage and bloodthirsty 
in his wild state, he is frequently tamed ; but he is some- 
what capricious in temper, and not easily reconciled when 
offended. It is curious that he should, when domesticated, 
change his usual custom of sleeping in the daytime and wan- 
dering about at night ; but this he does, remaining quiet 
all night, and making his appearance among the inmates of 
the house as soon as the sun sheds its light abroad. Though 
in his wild state a fit member for a temperance society, 
he will when in captivity, as if to recompense himself for his 
hard lot, drink fermented liquors of all sorts — the stronger 
and sweeter the better. An old writer on American animals 
says, in reference to this propensity, that if taken young it is 
easily made tame, but '' is the drunkenest creature alive, if he 
can get any liquor that is sweet and strong." The same 
writer states that the cunning raccoon often catches crabs by 
inserting one of his feet into their holes, and dragging them 
out as soon as they seize hold of it. 


In the Southern States we find another species of raccoon, 
somewhat larger than the former, who is addicted to eating 
molluscs and crustaceans, whether marine or terrestrial. It is 
said, also, that when other means fail of obtaining food, he 
seats himself on a branch hanging low down over some quiet 
pool, and using his flexible tail as a fishing-line, waits 
patiently till its end is caught hold of by a snapping turtle or 
other inhabitant of the water, when, whisking it up, he tears 
open the creature's shell and devours the luscious flesh with 
aldermanic relish. The fur is generally of a blackish -gray 
hue, washed with a tinge of yellow. A blacker tint prevails 



on tlio head, neck, and along the spine. His tail, in propor- 
tion to the size of his body, is shorter than that of the 
connuon raccoon, and is 
marked with six black 
rings, upon a blackish- 
yellow ground. 


When we see the 
judge seated in his richly 
trimmed robe of ermine 
— emblem of purity — 
or call to mind the regal 
robes of a proud mon- 
arch, we are apt to for- 
get that the fur which 
we so much admire is 
but that of the detested 
stoat, turned white dur- 
ing his abode amid the 
winter's snow of a 
northern clime. He is 
not unlike the weasel, 
especially when clothed 
in his darker summer 
dress, but with a less 
ruddy hue. The edges 
of the ears and the toes 
always remain white. ^"= agouara fishing. 

He is considerably larger than the weasel, measuring u])- 
wards of fourteen inches, including the tail — which is about 



four inches long, the tip ahnost black. He is a bold hunter, 
and follows and destroys the hare, and other animals of equal 
size. It is said, even, that several together will venture to 
attack a man. They are caught in America by traps, which, 
giving the animal a sudden blow, kill it without injuring the 

The winter coat of the ermine is produced by the whiten- 


ing of the fur, and not, as was once supposed, by the substi- 
tution of white for dark hairs. Probably one cause of this 
change of hue may be that the energies of the creature con- 
centrate themselves on the vital organs, to enable it to resist 
the extreme low temperature of the icy regions it inhabits, 
and cannot thus spare a sufficient amount of blood for the 


foimation of the colouring matter Avliich tinges the hair. 
Human beings as well as animals become weaker as they in- 
crease in age ; and it has been observed that their hair also 
loses its colour, in consequence of such energies as they possess 
being required to assist the more important functions of nature. 
This corroborates the correctness of the former remark. 

The ermine, like other species of its genus, has the faculty 
of ejecting a fluid of a strong musky odour. It is abundant, 
not only in the barren grounds of the Hudson Bay territories, 
but is also found in Norway and Siberia. 

When the fur is used for robes, or similar purposes, the 
l>lack tuft at the end of the tail is sewn on at regular dis- 
tances to the skin, giving to the ermine fur the appearance 
we are all familiar with. 


The pine-marten, a species of weasel, oljtains its name from 
Ijeing found amid pine forests, and from its habit of climbing 
the trunks of pines in search of prey. It is a fierce and 
savage creature, choosing to live alone, away from the haunts 
of man. It is from eighteen to twenty inches in length — with 
a tail measuring about ten inches — and is covei'ed with long 
bushy hair. Moving without difficulty among the branches, 
it seizes many an unfortunate biid in its deadly gripe before 
its victim can take to flight — robbing also the nest of the cggi^ 
within it. 

It' is common in Europe, as well as in America; but in the 
cold regions of the Hudson Bay Company it is hunted for the 
sake of its skin, which is, when blanched during the winter's 
cold, scarcely inferior t(j that of the celebrated sable. 

\\'hen pursued and overtaken, it stands at bay, exhibiting 


its teeth, erecting its hair, arching its back, and hissing like a 
cat. It forms its burrows in the ground, the female producing 
a litter of from four to seven. Like other animals of its 
tribe, it emits la peculiar musky smell. 


In winter, along the steep banks of the frozen streams, 
smooth and shining tracks may be readily detected. They 
are produced by otters, wdiich have a curious habit of sliding 
downwards for their amusement — much as human beings are 
accustomed to do in Canada in their toboo-oinos. To do 
this, they lie on their bellies, with their fore-legs bent back- 
wards, and giving themselves an impetus with their hind-leg*s, 
down they glide, at a swift rate, upon the ice. This sport 
they will continue for some time, climbing up again to the 
top of the ];)ank, and repeating the process over and over again. 
They are also accustomed to pass through the woods from 
lake to lake, making a direct track in the snow. These 
tracks are easily known. Then comes a broad trail, as if 
made by a cart-wheel. This is formed by the animal throw- 
ing itself on its belly, and thus sliding along over the surface 
for several yards. These places are called '' otter rubs." 

There are two species of otter in North America — one on 
the east, and the other on the Pacific slope — differing slightly 
from each other. The former is considerably larger than that 
of the Old World, measuring, from the nose to the tip of the 
tail, sometimes from four and a half to five feet. Like most 
other water animals, it possesses 'two sorts of hair : the one is 
long and shining, and of a rich brown colour, except on the 
throat, which is of a dusky white ; the other is very fine and 
soft, lying next the skin, and serving to protect it from the 



extremes of heat and cold. It lias excessively sharp, short 
teeth, which enable it to hold fast the fish, on which it chiefly 
feeds. Its body is elongated and much flattened, and the 
tail, which is of great length, is also flat and broad. The legs 
are short and strong, and so loosely jointed that it can tuin 
them in any direction when swimming. 

The habitations of otters are formed in the banks of rivers 


or lakes, and are not altogether of an artificial character, as 
they prefer occupying any deserted hollow or natural crevice 
to the trouble of digging burrows for themselves. Though 
they are very playful animals, and delight apparently in sport, 
they are somewhat of a savage disposition, and must be taken 
very young to be domesticated. They are cautious, timi<l 
animals, and can seldom be appiuached unawares. They eat 



all sorts of fresh- water fish, such as trout, perch, eels, and 
suckers ; and will also devour frogs. Occasionally they may 
be observed on a rocky islet of some lone stream, resting after 
a banquet, or about to plunge into the water in chase of one 
of the finny tribe, which their keen eyes detect swimming by. 
They* are trapped, in Canada, by steel traps, which are sul > 
merged close to the bank below their "rubs." They make a 
peculiar whistling sound, which the Indian can imitate per- 
fectly, and thus frequently induces them to approach. Their 


skins are manufactured into muffs and trimmings and caps, 
such as are usually worn in winter by Canadians. 

An otter, when attacked, will defend itself with desperation, 
snapping furiously at the Indian, and then shaking its head 
violently as a dog does when destroying a rat. Their bite is 
severe — sufficient indeed to snap off* a man's finger — and when 
once its jaws are closed, no power is capable of making it 



roliiiquisli its grasp. The Canadians do not attempt to tame 
the otter ; but the persevering Chinese not only contrive to 
domesticate the sjDCcies found in their country, but teach tl\em 
to capture fish for their benefit. 


Ramblino' amid the woods, even in the neio^hbourhood of 


settlements, we may occasionally come upon a curious little 
animal, with a party-coloured coat and bushy tail, and an 
amiable and gentle appearance. The creature appears to be in 
no way timid, and will very likely await our a})proach. As 
we draw near it, however, it is apt to turn round and erect 
its bushy tail perpendicularly. Let us beware of what we are 
about, for, in a moment, the creature may send over us a 


shower of a substance so horribly odious, that not only may 
we be blinded and sickened by the effluvium, but our clothes 
will be made useless, from the difficulty of getting rid of the 

The creature is the skunk, and is about the size of a cat. 
It possesses short round ears, black cheeks, and a white 
stripe extending from the nose to the back. The upper part 
of the neck and the whole back are white, divided by a 
black line. Below, it is black, as are the legs ; and it has a 
full tail of coarse black hair, occasionally tipped with white. 
Its legs are short, and it does not possess much activity. Its 
feet are armed with claws, somewhat like those of the badger. 

It appears to use this horrid effluvium — which is generated 
in glands near the tail — as a means of defence. All other 
animals have a due horror of it. Anything which it touches 
is tainted : provisions are destroyed ; and clothes, though often 
washed, will retain the smell for many weeks. At one time 
this substance was used for medicinal purposes. The mode 
of defence bestowed on the skunk is somewhat similar to 
that employed by the cuttle-fish, which emits a dark liquor 
when pursued. Those who have once smelt the horribly fetid 
odour of the skunk Avill not easily forget it. 


Still keeping to the lakes and streams, we may often fall 
in with a creature of curious habits, which, unlike those just 
described, lives almost entirely among the branches of the 
trees. In shape it is somewhat like a weasel, and is the 
largest of the tree martens. It is known as the wood-shock 
or pekan, and is also called the black cat, and fisher. This 
last term is inappi-opriate, as it is not in any way piscivorous. 

THE MINK. 183 

It is of a dark brown hue, with a line of black shining hair 
reaching from the neck to the extremity of the tail. The 
under parts are lighter ; some entirely Avhite. It possesses also 
a very large, full, and expressive eye. 

Though spending its time among the trees, hunting for its 
prey, it forms a burrow in the ground for its usual habitation. 
It lives upon squirrels and rabbits, as well as grouse and other 
birds and their eggs. Not only does it venture to attack the 
well-armed porcupine, but it kills the animal, and eats it up, 
quills and all. The difficulty of accomplishing this appears 
very great, but there are numerous instances in which pekans 
have been killed, when their Ijodies were found full of quills, 
from which they did not appear to have suffered. They eat up, 
indeed, both the flesh and bones of the porcupine — the latter 
being so strong that a small bird cannot crack them. Mr. 
Downs, the naturalist of Nova Scotia, states that he has 
frequently found porcupine quills in the stomach of the fisher. 

The animal is hunted for the sake of its skin, which is of 
some value — as also for amusement, especially h^ boys, as 
the creature is not sufficiently formidable to cause any great 
danger to them or their dogs. It is about four feet long, in- 
cluding the tail, which measures about eighteen inches. 


Another denizen on the shores of the fresh waters of 
Canada is the mink, called also the smaller otter, and some- 
times known as the water pole-cat. It may be seen swim- 
ming about the lakes, preferring generally the still waters in 
autumn to the more rapidly-flowing currents of spring. It 
somewhat resembles the otter, and differs in shape slightly 
from the marten or ferret. Its teeth, however, are more like 



those of the pole-cat than the otter ; while its tail does mU 
possess the muscular power of the latter animal. 

Like the otter, it lives upon fish and frogs, but will oc- 
casionally make a marauding expedition into poultry-yards. 
Its general colour is a dark reddish-brown, approaching in 
some specimens almost to black on the head ; while there is 
a patch of white, varying in size, under the chin. It is 
trapped by the settlers both in self-defence and on account of 
its fur, which is of considerable value, and gi^eatly resembles 
sable — a good skin often fetching four or five dollars. 



The opossum, with its prehensile tail, marsupial pouch, and 
cunning ways, stands alone for its singularity among all the 


animals of the American continent. Many of the tribe arc 
found in South America ; but the Virginian opossum, the 
size of a full-grown cat, is larger than all its relatives. The 
head and body measure about twenty- two inches ; and tlie 


tail, fifteen. It is covered with a light gray haii" of wool-like 
yoftness, short on the face and hody, hut long on the legs. 
The base end of the tail is thick and black, and is covered 
with small scales. So powerful is this member that the 
opossum can hold on with it to the bough of a tree, and even 
when desperately wounded it does not let go. Its face is 
long and sharpened, the mouth very determined, and armed 
with numerous sharp teeth. It has thin, naked, round, and 
blackish ears, edged with a border of white. It has short 
legs, the feet being armed with claws, and the interior toes of 
the hind-feet are flat and rounded. 

It has the power of emitting a disagreeable odour when 
chased or alarmed. When pursued, it makes for the nearest 
tree ; and should it discover the approach of a hunter and 
his dogs when already up a tree, instead of taking to flight, 
it lies close along the branch, endeavouring to hide itself. 
When moving amidst the boughs, it swings itself from branch 
to branch by means of its tail ; and it may be observed at 
times hanging down, with its eyes wide open, on the look-out 
for any birds which may incautiously alight on the bough 
above, or pass within its grasp. 

It is very voracious, feeding on small quadrupeds and 
birds of all sorts ; while it does not disdain to prey off a ' 
brood of young cotton rats and mice, and devours insects and 
a variety of reptiles. When unable to find sufficient food in 
the forest, or too lazy to look for it, it will, without hesita- 
tion, make a raid into the farmer's poultry -yard, and carry 
off or kill his fowls, and eat up any eggs it may find. The 
opossum does not always indulge in animal diet, — for he 
(dimbs fruit-trees to carry off their luscious productions ; and 
for the sake of obtaining maize, of wdiich he is especially 



fond, he will climb the tallest stems, and bite them across, 
so as to brino' the heavy ear to the oround. He Avill also 

clamber to some higher 
branch, and hang down, 
in search of the fruit 
growing on the boughs 
incapable of bearing his 

T]ie quality for which 
he is chiefly noted is 
liis habit of fei^'nino 
death. Frequently he 
is brought to the ground, 
when there he lies, every 
limb relaxed, evidently 
as dead as can be. The 
knowing hunter will, 
however, keep his glance 
on the creature. If he 
withdraws it for a mo- 
ment, its eyelids will be 
seen slowly opening ; and 
should he turn his head 
for even the shortest 
space, the creature will 
be on its feet, stealino' 
away through the under- 
wood. Though so per- 
fectly an adept at '' 'pos- 
sumingV' before attempting to practise its usual ruse it will 
make every effort to escape from its ]~>ursuers. When chased 




alone by a dog, it will content itself by scrambling up a 
tree, and sitting quietly on a branch, out of reach, looking 
down on its canine assailant with contempt as it runs bark- 
ing furiously below it. The opossum is thus said to be 
" treed ; " and before long, the barking of the dog brings his 
master to the spot, when the opossum has to fly for its life 
to the highest branch it can reach. It is easily captured 


l)y the rudest style of trap, into which it will walk without 
hesitation. When '' feigning 'possum," it will submit to be 
knocked about, and kicked and cuffed, without giving the 
slightest sign of life. The flesh of tlie opossum is white, and 
considered excellent — especially in the autumn, when, after 
feeding amply on the fruits, beech-nuts, and wild l>erries, of 
which it is especially fond, it is veiy fat. 


The female opossum builds a warm nest of dry leaves and 
moss, sometimes in the hollow of a rotten tree, or beneath its 
wide-spreading roots. She has been known occasionally to 
take possession of a squirrel's nest ; and at other times, that 
of the Florida rat. When her young— generally thirteen to 
fifteen appearing at a time — are born, they are extremely 
small — not an inch in length, including the tail— and weigh- 
ing only four grains. After a couple of weeks or so, she places 
them in her pouch, when they grow in size and strength, 
and in about four weeks may be seen with their heads 
poked out surveying the world, into which they begin to 
wander at the end of five or six weeks. When first born, 
they are the most helpless of little creatures, being both deaf 
and blind. 

The larger number of opossums, however, are to be found 
in South America, where we shall have an opportunity of 
further examinino; them. 




fHE white-headed eagle takes precedence among the 
feathered tribes of America, — because he stands 
first in natural order, and has been selected by the 
})eople of the United States as their heraldic emblem. Their 
clioice was, by-the-by, objected to by Benjamin Franklin, on 
the plea '' that it is a bird of l)ad moral character, and does 
not get his living honestly." There was justice in the re- 
mark, for the bald eagle is a determined robljer, and a perfect 
tyrant. He is, however, a magnificent bird, when seen with 
wings expanded, nearly eight feet from tip to tip — -and a body 
three and a half feet in length— his snowy white head and 
neck shining in the sun, and his large, liooked, yellow beak 
open as he espies, afar otf, the fish-hawk emerging from tlie 
ocean with his struggling prey. Downward he pounces with 
rapid flight. The fish-hawk sees his enemy approaching, 
and attempts to esca})e ; but, laden with the fish he has just 
captured, in spite of the various evolutions he performs, he 
is soon overtaken by the savage freebooter. With a scream 



of despair he drops the fish. The eagle poises himself for a 


moment, as if to take more certain aim, then, descending like 
a whirlwind, snatches it ere it reaches the water. 


The plumage of the bald eagle is of a chocolate-brown, 
inclining to black along the back, while the bill and upper 
tail-coverts are of the same white hue as the head and neck. 
He and his mate build their nest in some lofty tree amid a 
swamp ; and repairing it every season, it becomes of gxeat 
size. Its position is generally known by the offensive odour 
arising from the number of fish scattered around, which they 
liave let drop after their predatory excursions. The nest is 
roughly formed of large sticks, moss, roots, and tufts of grass. 
They commence making fresh additions to their nest early in 
the year ; and the female deposits her eggs in January, and 
hatches the young by the middle of the following month. 
Robbers as they are, the white-headed eagles exhibit great 
})arental affection, tending their young as long as they are 
helpless and unfledged ; nor will they forsake them even 
should the tree in which their nest is built be surrounded 
by flames. Wilson, the American naturalist, mentions seeing 
a tree cut down in order to obtain an eagle's nest. The 
parent birds continued flying clamorously round, and could 
with difficulty be driven away from the bodies of their 
fledgelings, killed by the fall of the lofty pine. 

Audubon gives us an account of a savage attack he once 
w^itnessed made by an eagle and his mate on a swan : — The 
fierce eagle, having marked the snow-wdiite bird as his prey, 
summons his companion. As the swan is passing near 
the dreaded pair, the eagle, in preparation for the chase, 
starts from his perch on a tall [)ine, with an awful scream, 
that to the swan brings more terror than the report of the 
largest duck-gun. Now is the moment to witness the dis- 
])lay of the eagle's power. He glides through the air like a 
falling star, and comes upon the timorous quarr}', which now, 


in agony and despair, seeks by varied manceuvres to elude 
the gTasp of his cruel talons. Now it mounts, now doubles, 
and would willingly plunge into the stream, were it not pre- 
vented by the eagle, Avho, knowing that by such a stratagem 
the swan might escape him, forces it to remain in the air by 
his attempts to strike it with his talons from beneath. The 
swan has already become much weakened, and its strength 
fails at sight of the courage and swiftness of its antagonist. 
At one moment it seems about to escape, wdien the ferocious 
eagle strikes with his talons the under side of its wing, and 
with an unresisted power forces the bird to fall in a slant- 
ing direction upon the nearest shore. Pouncing dowuAvards, 
the eagle is soon joined by his mate, wdien they turn the 
body of the luckless swan upwards, and tear it open with 
their talons. 

Alonof all the coasts of North America, as also at the 
mouths of the chief rivers, the white-headed eagle is found 
watching for his prey. An instance is mentioned of one of 
these savage birds being entrapped, and falling a victim to 
his voracity. Having pursued a wild duck to a piece of 
freshlj^-formed ice, he pitched upon it, and began tearing his 
prey to pieces, wdien the mass on which he stood continuing 
to freeze, his feet became fixed in the ice. Having vainly 
endeavoured with his powerful Avings to rise in the air, he 
ultimately perished miserably. 


The wdid turkey, acknowledged to be the finest of game 
birds, ranges throughout the forests of the more temperate 
portions of America. It is the parent of the valued inha- 
Idtant of our poultry-A'ards ; and in its wild state utters tlie 



same curious sounds which it does in captivity. This superb 
bird measures about four feet in length. Its plumage, banded 
with black, gleams with a golden brown hue, shot with gi^een, 
violet, and blue. Its head is somewhat small, and a portion 
of its neck is covered with a naked warty bluish skin, which 
liangs in wattles from the base of the bill, forming a long 
fleshy protuberance, with hairs at the top. 


The bird, in the States, is commonly known as Bubbling 
Jock, and is called " Oocoocoo " by the Indians. The 
female builds her. nest in some dry, secluded spot, guarding 
it carefully, and never approaching it by the same path twice 
in succession. When first her young are hatched, she leads 
them through the woods, but returns at night to her nest. 
After a time she takes them to a greater distance, and nestles 
them in some secluded spot on the ground. At this time 





they are frequently attacked by the lynxes, who spring upon 

them, knocking them over with their paws. 

The wild turkey wanders 
to a great distance from the 
place of its birth. " About 
the beginning of October the 
male birds assemble in flocks/' 
says Audubon, '' and move 
towards the rich bottom-lands 
of the Ohio and Mississippi. 
The females advance singly, 
each with its brood of young, 
then about two-thirds grown, 
or in union with other 
families, forming parties often 
amounting to seventy or 
eighty individuals — shunning 
the old cocks, who, when the 
young birds have attained 
this size, will fight with, and 
often destroy them by re- 
peated blows on the head. 
When they come upon a river, 
they betake themselves to 
the highest eminence, and often 
remain there a whole day ; for 
the purpose of consultation, it 
would seem, the males gobbl- 
HUNTiNG WILD TURKEYS. jjjg^ calllug, aud makiug much 

ado, — strutting about as if to raise their courage to a pitch 

befitting the emergency. At length, when all around is quiet, 


the whole party mount to the tops of the most lofty trees, 
whence, at a signal — consisting of a single cluck — given by 
the leader, the flock takes flight for the opposite shore. On 
reaching it, after crossing a broad stream, they appear totally 
bewildered, and easily fall a prey to the hunter, who is on the 
watch for them with his dogs." 


A still more magnificent species of turkey than the one 
just described inhabits Honduras. It may be distinguished 
from the common turkey by the eye-like marks on the tail 
and uj)per wing-coverts. The naked skin of the head and 
neck, too, is of a delicate violet-blue, covered with numerous 
pea-looking knobs arranged in a cluster upon the crown. 
This is of a pale bufi^-orange, while there is a row of similar 
marks over the eye, and others scattered about the neck. 
The wattle hano-ino; from the neck is of a lio-ht orano'e at the 
tip. The greater wing-coverts are of a rich chestnut, the 
feet and leo;s beincr of a lake colour. It is somewhat smaller 
than the wild turkey of the States. 


The celebrated canvas-back duck, allied to the English 
pochard, makes its appearance among the numerous rivers in 
the neighbourhood of Chesapeake Bay about tlie middle of 
October, as well as in other parts of the Union. It is at that 
time, however, thin ; but soon grows fat, from the abundance 
of its favourite food. It is from two to three feet across the 
wings. Its glossy black beak is large. The head and part 
of the neck are of a lich glossy reddish-chestnut tint, with 
black breast. The wing-covciis are gray, and tlie rest of 


the body white, marked with a number of transverse wavy 

It is especially esteemed at table — and those who have 
eaten it at the hospitable boards of Americans will acknow- 
ledge its excellence; though when, on several occasions, some 
braces of these birds have been sent to England, they have 
failed to elicit the admiration due to their merits — in con- 
sequence, it is said, of not being accompanied by an American 


The most beautiful of the duck tribe which visits the 
States is the summer or tree duck of Carolina. It bears a 
strong resemblance in plumage and habits to the celebrated 
mandarin duck of China. The birds are found perching on 
the branches of trees overhanging ponds and streams — a 
habit not usual in the duck tribe — where they may be seen, 
generally a couple together, the male in his superb garments 
of green, purple, chestnut, and white, contrasting with the 
homely plumage of his mate. 


On the open " ban-ens," where a few tufts of stunted brush- 
wood are alone found, the remarkable pinnated grouse may be 
seen in gTeat numbers running over the gi^ound. Their backs 
are mottled with black, white, and chestnut-brown ; and the 
male has two finely ornamented feathers on the neck, streaked 
with black and brown. It has also a slight crest on the 
head, of orange colour, hanging over each eye in a semicircular 
form ; and naked appendages, which hang down from eacli 
side of the neck, and can be filled at the will of the bird by 
air, so that when puffed out they are like two small yellow 


oranges. As the breeding-season approaches the males appear, 
uttering strange cries, puffing out these wattles, ruffling their 
feathers, and erecting their neck-tufts, as if wishing to appear 
to the greatest advantage before their mates. They occasion- 
ally engage in combats with each other, but their encounters 
are not often of a bloody description. 

They form their nests rudely of grass and leaves, under the 
shelter of a bush or thick tuft of long grass. The hen lays 
about fifteen eo-^s of a brownish-white colour. 

The most remarkable feature in the history of these birds 
is the way in which they assemble, as winter approaches, in 
vast numbers, to obtain protection from the biting force of 
the north-west winds which sweep over the Missouri country, 
by huddling closer together. 

" As evening draws near," says Mr. Webber, who has 
observed their habits, '' they approach the spot they have 
fixed on, in the usual manner, by short flights, with none of 
that whirring of wings for which they are noted when sud- 
denly put up ; but they make ample amends for their previous 
silence when they arrive. From the pigeon-roost there is a 
continuous roar, caused by the restless shifting of the birds, 
and sounds of impatient struggling, which can be distinctly 
heard for several miles. The numbers collected are incal- 
culably immense, since the space occupied extends sometimes 
for a mile in length, with a breadth determined by the char- 
acter of the ground. The noise begins to subside a few hours 
after dark. The birds have now arrano^ed themselves for the 
night, nestled as close as they can be wedged, every bird with 
his breast turned to the quarter in which the wind may be 
prevailing. This scene is one of the most curious that can be 
imagined, especially when we have the moonlight to contrast 


with their dark backs. At this time they may be killed b}^ 
cart-loads, as only those in the immediate neighbourhood of 
the slain are apparently disturbed. They rise to the height 
of a few feet, with a stupified and aimless fluttering, and 
plunge into the snow within a short distance, where they are 
easily taken by the hand. They will, if disturbed when 
they first arrive at a resting-place, change it ; but after the 
heavy snows have fallen, they are not easily driven away by 
any degree of persecution. By melting the snow with the 
heat of their bodies, and by trampling it down, they then 
form a kind of sheltering-yard, the outside walls of whicli 
defend them against the winds." 

They have, besides human foes, numberless enemies among 
the foxes, wolves, hawks, and other birds. The fecundity of 
the survivors, however, keeps pace with the many fatalities to 
which they are liable. 


" This elegant species," writes Wilson, " is known through- 
out North America. Its favourite places of resort are high 
mountains, covered with the balsam -pine and hemlock." It 
prefers the woods— being seldom or never found in open plains. 
They are solitary birds ; generally being seen in coveys of 
four or five, and often singly, or in pairs. 

The stranger wandering through the forest is surprised to 
hear a peculiar sound, very similar to that produced by strik- 
inor two full-blown ox-bladders too'ether, but much louder. 
It is caused by the ruffed grouse, who, amusing himself by 
drumming, is little aware that it will bring the cruel sportsman 
towards him. The bird produces it when standing on an old 
prostrate log. He lowers his wings, erects his expanded tail, 


and inflates his whole body something in the manner of the 
turkey-cock, strutting and wheeling about with great stateli- 
ness. After a few manoeuvi^es of this kind he begins to strike 
with his stiffened wings, in short and quick strokes, which 
become more and more rapid, till they run into each other. 
The sound then resembles the rumbling of distant thunder, 
dying away gradually on the ear. 

The hen is an affectionate mother, and takes every means, 
when a stranger approaches her nest, to lead him away from 
the spot. 

Wilson describes observing a hen-pheasant depart from this 
usual custom. He came suddenly upon one with a young- 
bird in her company. The mother fluttered before him for 
a short time, when suddenly darting towards the young 
one, she seized it in her bill, and flew off along the surface 
of the ground through the woods, with great steadiness and 
rapidity, till she was beyond his sight, leaving him in much 
surprise at the incident. He searched round, but could And 
no other birds. 

Here was a strikino; instance of somethino- more than 
" blind instinct " — by the adoption of the most simple and 
effectual means for the preservation of her solitaiy young one 
— in this remarkable deviation from the usual manoeuvres of 
the bird when she has a numerous brood. 

The ruffed grouse is of a rich chestnut-brown, mottled with 
brown and gray ; while on each shoulder are the curious rufis, 
or tufts, from which he obtains his name, of a rich velvety 
black, glossed with green. The skin beneath them is bare ; 
the tail is gray, barred with blackish-brown. 

Another species of grouse, smaller than the two former, 
inhabits Canada. 




Flights of locusts are often seen passing through the air, 
like vast clouds, obscuring the sky. The passenger-joigeon of 
America appears in almost equal numbers. The accounts of 


their vast flights would be incredible, were they not thoroughly 
well authenticated. 

They are beautiful birds ; the males being about sixteen 
inches in length, the females slightly smaller, and usually of 


less attractive plumage. The head, part of the neck, and 
chin of the male bird, are of a slaty-blue colour ; the lower 
portions being also of a slate colour, banded with gold, green, 
and purplish-crimson, changing as the bird moves here and 
there. Reddish-hazel feathers cover the throat and breast, 
while the upper tail-coverts and back are of a dark slaty-blue. 
Their other feathers are black, edged with white ; and the 
lower part of the breast and abdomen are purplish-red and 
white. The beak is black, and the eyes of a fiery orange 
hue, with a naked space round them of purplish-red. 

Its chief food is the beech-mast ; but it also lives on acorns, 
and grain of all sorts — especially rice. It is calculated that 
each bird eats half a pint of food in the day ; and when we 
recollect their numbers, we may conceive what an immense 
amount must be consumed. 

The female hatches only one bird at a time, in a nest 
slightly made of a few twigs, loosely woven into a sort of 
platform. Upwards of one hundred nests have been found in 
one tree, with a single egg in each of them ; but there are 
probably two or three broods in the season. In a short time 
the young become very plump, and so fat, that they are 
occasionally melted down for the sake of their fat alone. 
They choose particular places for roosting — generally amid a 
grove of the oldest and largest trees in the neighbourhood. 

Wilson, Audubon, and other naturalists, give us vivid de- 
scriptions of the enormous flights of these birds. Let us watch 
with Audubon in the neighbourhood of one of their curious 
roosting-places. We now catch sight of a flight of the birds 
moving with gi-eat steadiness and rapidity, at a height out 
of gunshot, in several strata deep, and close together. From 
right to left, far as the eye can reach, the breadth of this vast 



procession extends, teeming everywhere, equally crowded. An 
hour passes, and they rather increase in numbers and rapidity 
of flight. The leaders of this vast body sometimes vary their 


course, now forming^ a laroje band of more than a mile in 
diameter ; those behind tracing the exact route of their pre- * 



decessors. Now they once more change their direction — the 
column becoming an immense front, sweeping the heavens in 
one vast and infinitely 
extended line. Sud- 
denly a hawk makes 
a sweep on a parti- 
cular part of the col- 
umn, when almost as 
quick as lightning that 
part shoots down- 
wards out of the com- 
mon track ; but soon 
again rising, advances 
at the same rate as 

We will now hurry 
on towards their 
breeding place, a 
forest on the banks 
of the Green River 
in Kentucky, fully 
forty miles in length, 
and more than three 
in width. In the 
neighbourhood are as- 
sembled a large num- 
ber of persons, with 
horses, waggons, guns, 
and ammunition ; and 
a farmer has brouoht three hundred hoixs to be fattened on the 
refuse pigeons. As the vast flight arrives at the spot, thousands 



are knocked down by men with long poles. Some place pots 
of sulphur under the trees ; others are provided with torches 
of pine-knots ; and the rest have guns. The birds continue to 
pour in. The fires are lighted ; and a magnificent, as well 
as almost terrifying, sight presents itself The pigeons arrive 
by thousands, alighting everywhere, one above another, till 
solid masses, as large as hogsheads, are formed on the branches 
all around. Here and there the perches give way with a 
crash, and falling to the ground, destroy hundreds of the 
birds beneath, forcing down the dense gi'oups with which 
every stick is loaded. The pigeons continue coming, and it 
is past midnight before there is any sign of a decrease in their 
numbers. The ground in all directions is strewed with 
branches broken by the weight of the birds which have 
pitched on them. By sunrise, the enormous multitude have 
taken their departure, while wolves, foxes, and other animals 
who had assembled to feast on the bodies of the slain, are 
seen sneaking off. 

Audubon describes the flight of one of these almost solid 
masses of birds pursued by a hawk ; now darting compactly 
in undulating and angular lines, now descending close to the 
earth, and with inconceivable velocity mounting perpendicu- 
larly, so as to resemble a vast column, and then wheeling and 
twisting within their continued lines, resembling the coils of a 
gigantic serpent. Their assemblages greatly surpass in num- 
bers those of the pinnated grouse already described. 


A considerable number of these gem-like members of the 
feathered tribe make their appearance in summer, even as far 
north as Canada, and on the sides of the hills rising out of 


the " Fertile Belt," within sight of Lake Winnipeg, — a region 
where -snow covers the ground for so many months in the 
year. The most common, as well as the most Leautiful, 
species of these minute birds, is the ruby-throated humming- 
bird — a name given to it on account of the delicate metallic 
feathers which glow with ruby lustre on its throat, gleaming 
in the sunshine like gems of living fire. From the tip of the 
bill to that of the tail it measures about three and a half 
inches. The belly is green, and the upper part of the neck, 
back, and wing-coverts, are of a resplendent and varied green 
and gold. The breast and lower parts are white, the wings 
purplish-brown, and the tail partly of the same colour, with 
the two middle tail-feathers of vivid gi^een. 

In the warm climate of the more southern States, the 
beautiful little ruby-throat is found throughout the winter ; 
and as the summer draws on, the heat in the northern States 
suiting its delicate constitution, it migi-ates in large flocks, 
appearing in the middle States towards the end of April. 
Tiny as they are, they pass through the air at a rapid rate, 
and may be seen moving in long undulations, now rising for 
some distance at an angle of about forty degrees, then falling 
in a curve. Their long flights are performed at night, it is 
supposed, as they are found feeding leisurely at all times of the 
day. Small as they are, from their rapid flight and meteor- 
like movements they do not fear the largest birds of prey ; 
for even should the lordly eagle venture into their domains, 
the tiny creatures will attack him without fear : and one has 
been seen perched on the head of an eagle, at which it was 
pecking furiously away, scattering the feathers of the huge 
bird, who flew screaming through the air with alarm, to rid 
himself of his tiny assailant. 




As they fly, the ruby feathers of their 

throats may be seen changing, according 

to the light, now into a greenish gold 

colour, now into a deep brown, again to 

^ flash forth with the brilliancy of precious gems. 

Often they may be observed flying round the deep, 

cup-shaped calix of the scarlet trumpet -flower, 

which with its rich foliao:e clino-s in clusters 

lound the gnarled stem of some withered oak, 

clothing it with a verdure not its own. Into 

these deep and capacious tubes the ruby-throat, 

with its long bill, probes, and draws forth either 

the sweets it produces, or picks up the multitude 

of flies entangled in the nectar. 

Although the ruhy-throat ventures thus far 
north, it is very susceptible of cold, and returns 
southward immediately the summer green of the 
forest gives place to the golden tints of autumn. 
Brave and high-spirited as is the little bird, it is 
easily tamed ; and Mr. ^Yebber, the naturalist, after many at- 
tempts, succeeded in securing several of the species. The first 


he caught did not flutter, or make the least attempt to escape, 
but remained quietly in his hand ; and he saw, when he opened 
it, the minute creature lying on his palm, perfectly motion- 
less, feigning most skilfully to be dead; indeed, actually play- 
ing '' 'possum." For some time he watched it with breath- 
less curiosity, when he saw it gradually open its bright little 
eyes to ascertain whether the way was clear, and then close 
them slowly as it caught his glance upon it. When a mix- 
ture of sugar, water, and honey was brought, and a drop 
placed on the point of its bill, it came very suddenly to life, 
and in a moment was on its legs, drinking with eager gusto 
of the refreshing draught from a silver tea-spoon. 

The nest of the ruby-throat is of a most delicate nature ; 
the external parts being formed of a little gray lichen found on 
the branches of the trees, glued together by the saliva of the 
bird, and neatly arranged rounid the whole of the nest, as well 
as to some- distance from the spot where it is attached to the 
branch or stem itself The interior is lined with a cottony sub- 
stance ; and the innermost, with the silky fibres obtained from 
various plants. Within this little nest the female humming- 
bird lays two white and nearly oval eggs ; generally raising 
two broods in the season. In one week, says Audubon, the 
young are ready to fly, but are fed by the parents for nearly 
another week. They receive their food direct from the bill of 
their parents, who disgorge it in the manner of canaries and 
pigeons. It is my belief that no sooner are the young able 
to 43rovide for themselves than the}^ associate with other 
broods, and perform their migrations apart from the old birds, 
as I have observed twenty or thiity young humming-birds 
resort to a group of trumpet-flowers, when not a single old 
bird Avas to be seen. 


The plumage of the female is in most respects like that of 
the male, except that she is not possessed of the brilliant 
feathers on the throat which especially distinguish him. 

Although there are several other species of humming-birds 
which live permanently in the Southern States of the Union, 
or migi-ate northward in summer, we cannot now inspect them. 
We shall have, however, many 023portunities of examining a 
number of the species when we come to visit South America. 
Although the number of birds and the variety of their species 
inhabiting North America is very great, except those we have 
mentioned, they do not in general possess any very interest- 
ing peculiarity, which might tempt us to linger longer amongst 
them, and we will therefore wander on and inspect some of 
the curious reptiles which inhabit various parts of the Ameri- 
can States and Canada. 


The well-known spring visitor to the woods of England, - 

the cuckoo, — is undoubtedly destitute of family affection, as 
are others of its relatives ; but this is not the case with 
the whole tribe. As the spring advances, from the sylvan 
glades of Pennsylvania a curious note, constantly repeated, is 
heard, resembling the word ''cow-cow." It is the note of a 
bird, and from the sound it resembles it is generally known as 
the ''cow-bird." It is also called the "yellow-billed cuckoo." 
It is in no respect behind any of its neighbours of the grove in 
conjugal and parental affection, for it builds its nest, hatches 
its own eggs, and rears its own young, Wilson assures us. It 
is about a foot in length, clothed in a dark drab suit with a 
silken greenish gloss. A ruddy cinnamon tints the quill- 
feathers of the wings ; and the tail consists partly of black 


feathers tipped with white, the two outer ones being of the 
same tint as the back. The under surface is a pure white. 
It has a long curved bill of a grayish-black above, and yellow 
beneath. The female differs from the male in having the 
central tail-feathers of a drab colour, while the under part of 
her body is of a grayish tinge. 

Early in the spring the males frequently engage in desperate 
battles. After these contests are decided, the couples, pairing, 
begin building their nests, generally among the horizontal 
branches of an apple-tree. It is roughly formed of sticks 
and twigs. On this bed the eggs, three or four in number, 
of a uniform greenish-blue, are placed. While the female is 
sitting, the male is generall}^ not far off, and gives the alarm 
by his notes should any person approach. The female sits 
so close, that she may almost be reached by the hand, and 
then suddenly precipitates herself to the ground, feigning 
lameness — to draw away the intruder from the spot — fluttering 
her wings, and tumbling over in the manner of a partridge, 
woodcock, and some other birds. Both parents unite in 
collecting food for the young. This consists, for the most 
part, of caterpillars, particularly such as infest apple-trees. 
They are accused, and with some justice, of sucking the eggs 
of other birds, — like the crow, blue jay, and other pillagers. 
They also occasionally eat various kinds of berries ; but from 
the circumstance of their destroying numbers of very noxious 
larvae, they prove themselves the friend of the farmer, and 
are well deserving of his protection. 

While the robin redbreast cheers us in Enii-land (birinir 
winter with its song, the beautiful little bluc-ljird periurms 

(379) U 


the same office with its rich sweet notes to the inhabitants of 
the United States ; arriving from Mexico, and still further oil' 
regions, as soon as the first signs of approaching spring 
appear — even before the snow has melted away. Associating 
fearlessly with human beings, it holds the same place in their 
affections as the robin. 

It is about seven inches lono; — a rich azure-blue coverino- 
the whole upper sui^face of the head and neck, while the quill- 
feathers of the wing and tail are jet-black. The throat, 
breast, and sides are of a ruddy chestnut, the lower portion of 
the body being white. It builds its nest in the hollow of a 
decayed tree, sheltered from the i^ain and cold, and there 
deposits from four to six eggs at a time, generally rearing two, 
and sometimes three broods in the season. Its food consists 
chiefly of spiders and small worms, and soft fruits and seeds. 

It is a hardy little bird, and makes its way through all 
parts of the United States ; sometimes, indeed, remaining 
through the whole winter, when it takes shelter in some warm 
hollow beneath the snow, from whence, when the sun shines 
forth, it comes out to enjoy its warmth, and to sing a few 
cheerful notes. It is especially interesting to watch it take 
care of its nest and 3'oung ; perching near them and singing 
merrily, occasionally flying off* to procure a caterpillar for their 
gaping mouths. 

So confidino' is the blue-bird, that when a box with a hole 
in it is arranged in some convenient situation near a house, 
it will at once take possession, building its nest in it, and 
never failing to utter its sweet music in acknowledgment of 
the boon. 


As the cold winter approaches, large flocks of little birds 


about six inches in length, with snow-white breasts and slaty- 
brown or bkie backs, make their appearance in the neighbour- 
hood of villages and farm-houses ; sometimes, indeed, coming 
into towns as familiarly as sparrows. Their habits are very 
like those of sparrows ; and when the snow deepens, they 
mix with them, searchino; too-ether for the seeds in the sheltered 
corners of the fields, and along the borders of creeks and fences. 
They differ from the snow-bunting of the far north, with 
which they must not be confounded. In the summer they 
make their way to the northern regions in large flocks, and 
build their nests together, being of a very sociable disposition. 


While viewing the birds of North America, we cannot pass 
by the well-known, handsome Carolina parrot, which is, not- 
withstanding its common name, a species of macaw. Large 
numbers of these beautiful birds are seen winging their way 
in compact bodies through the Southern States, flying with 
great rapidity and uttering a loud outrageous scream, not 
unlike that of the red-headed woodpecker. Sometimes their 
flight is in a direct line, but generally they perform a variety 
of elegant and serpentine meanders in their course through 
the air. Often they may be seen pitching on the large syca- 
more-trees, in the hollow trunks of which, as also amonof 
the branches, they generally roost — frequently forty and more 
together. Here they cling close to the side of the tree, hold- 
ing fast by claws and bill. No creatures can be more sociable, 
and they may be observed scratching each other's heads and 
necks, and always nestling closely together. 

Their plumage is mostly green washed with blue, but the 
f(;)rehead is of a reddish-orange — as are the shoulders, head, and 












wino-s, while the neck and back of the head are 
of a bright golden yellow. The wing-coverts 
are yellow tinged with green. The bird is 
about twenty-one inches long. The female is 
much like the male. She makes her nest in 
the hollows of trees. 

The Carolina parrot exhibits great amiability 
of disposition, and is easily tamed, becoming 
much attached to those who treat it kindly. 
It also exhibits the most extraordinary affection 
for its own race. Wilson the naturalist, having 
j obtained one while on a journey to the Far 
West, brought it home upwards of one thou- 
sand miles in his pocket. It quickly learned 
to know its name, and would immediately come 
when called. Procuring a cage, he placed the 
parrot under a piazza, where, by its call, it soon attracted the 
passing flocks of its relatives. Numerous parties frequently 




alio-hted on the trees immediately above, keeping up a con- 
stant conversation with the prisoner. One of these was 
wounded and captured. Poll evinced the greatest pleasure 
on meeting with this new companion. She crept close up to 
it, chattering in a low tone of voice, as if sympathizing in its 
misfortune, scratching its 
head and neck with her 
bill — at night, both nest- 





ling as closely as possible 
to each other, sometimes 
Poll's head being thrust 
amongst the plumage of 
the other. The stranger, 
however, died, and Poll 
appeared restless and in- 
consolal)le for several days. 
On a looking-glass, how- 
ever, being procured, the 
instant she perceived her 
image all her former fond- 
ness seemed to return, so that she could scarcely absent herself 
from it for a moment. It was evident she was completely de- 
ceived. Often when evening drew on, as also during the day, 
she laid her head close to that of the image in the glass, and 
began to dose with great composure and satisfaction. 

On another occasion several of these birds were shot down, 
when the whole flock swept rapidly round their prostrate 
companions, and settled on a low tree within twenty yards of 
them. Although many were killed, the rest, instead of flying 
away, continued looking down at their dead companions with 
manifest signs of sympathy and concern. 

U H 


They render the fanner great service, by eating the cockle- 
burs which grow on the rich alhivial soil of Carolina, This 
})rickly fruit is apt to come off on the wool of the sheep, 
which, in some places, it almost completely destroys. The 
bird also lives on the beech-nut and seeds of the cypress. 
The head — with the brains — and intestines of the Carolina 
parrot are said to be poisonous to eat ; but how far such is the 
case seems to be a matter of doubt. 

Its chief abode is along the shores of the Mississippi, and 
it reaches the neighbourhood of Lake Michigan ; but eastw^ard 
of the Alleghany Mountains it is seldom met with further 
north than the State of Maryland. Far more hardy than the 
generality of the parrot tribe, a flock has been seen facing a 
snow-storm alono" the banks of the Ohio. 





'AKING the reptiles in their natural order, we must 
begin with the tortoises. There is a group of these 
slow-moving reptiles called terrapins in North 
America. One of the most common is the lettered terrapin, 
which inhabits rivers, lakes, and even marshes, where it lives 
on frogs and worms. It is especially detested by the angler, 
as it is a]it to take hold of his bait, and when he expects to 
see a fine fish at the end of his line, he finds that a little 
tortoise has hold of it. 

The back is of a dark brown, the edges being ornamented 
with scarlet marks, like some Eastern alphabet in form. 


Large numbers of these little tortoises, about ten inches in 
length, are seen V)asking together on the logs or stones on the 
borders of lakes or streams. The slightest noise arouses 
them, when they slip off, splashing in all directions into the 
water. They swim with their little heads above the surface 


at a rapid rate, bearing a strong resemblance to water-snakes. 
The creature takes its name from the similarity of its flesh 
to that of a chicken. It is consequently in great requisition 
as food. 


Another species — the salt-water terrapin — lives in the salt 
marshes and ponds. It is brown above, and generally yellow 
below — the lower jaw furnished with a sort of hook. The 
sides of the head are white, sprinkled with black spots. 


The peculiarity of this creature is that it can draw its 
head within its shell, so that, as few creatures would wish to 
swallow such a morsel whole, it has no enemy except man to 
fear. It might, to be sure, run the risk of being carried oft 
by an eagle and let drop on a hard rock, if the savage king 
of birds ever does perform such a feat ; but though stories 
are frequently told of his doing so, their truth is greatly 

The box tortoise lives on shore among the pine-forest 
lands, away from water, to which it seems to have an especial 
dislike. It is frequently called, therefore, the pine terrapin. 
It is one of the smallest of its tribe — being little more than 
six inches long — and varies very greatly in its colour. Its 
head is remarkable for havino- a somewhat broad hook at the 
end of the upper jaw — the lower jaw being slightly hooked. 


The mud tortoise is smaller than the box, being scarcely 
four inches in length. It can, however, move with consider- 
able speed, and is seen floundering about in the ponds and 


muddy, places, where it searches for aquatic insects, and 
sometimes even fish, on which it hves. It also vexes the 
angler by taking hold of his hook, and remaining so quietly 
sucking in the bait, that only when he hauls it up, and the 
tortoise begins to pull and kick violently about, does he dis- 
cover his mistake. 

It is remarkable for exuding a strong musky odour, from 
which circumstance it has obtained the name of " stink-pot." 


This giant of its tribe, from the great likeness it bears to 
the alligator, has appro]jriately been called after the huge 
saurian. It has a large head covered with a hard wrinkled 
skin, and a long thick neck, over which are scattered a num- 
ber of projecting tubercles. On the shell of the adult animal 
there is a depression along the centre, which leaves a sort of 
keel on each side of the central line. 

The creature is exceedino-lv voracious, feedino- on fish, 
reptiles, or any animal su1)stance. It generally inhabits stag- 
nant pools or sluggish streanivS, living mostly at the bottom. 
Occasionally, however, it rises to the suiface, and elevating 
the tip of its pointed snout above the water, fioats along 
with the current. Sometimes, indeed, it lands, and makes its 
way to some distance from the river ; 1)ut its motions are very 
awkward, ]iot a little resemblino- those of the alli<?ator. 

A considerable number are taken by strong liooks, and, as 
tlie fiesh is esteemed for food, are sold in the market. 


Although the last-named creature is sometimes called the 
snapping turtle, the animal to which the name appropriately 


applies is a very ditlerent creature. Its other name is the 
tierce trionyx. 

It belongs to the family of tortoises, popularly called soft 
turtles. Its tiattened head is rather oval, with horny jaws, 
and hanging Heshy lips, the mouth lengthened into a cylindrical 
snout. It has an extremely long neck, which it can contract 
at will ; short, wide feet ; and toes connected by strong webs. 
It is the m(jst savage and formidable of its tribe ; being 
terribly destructive, not only among hsh, but smaller quadru- 
peds, birds, and reptiles, Avhich it can cai)ture. For this 
object it lies in wait till they come down to drink, or till 
some Avater-fowl Hies too close to its haunt. It is said even 
to capture and eat young alligators. 

Though devouring so many other creatures, the snapping 
turtle is often eaten himself; being hooked and drawn on 
shore by the fishermen. It lights, on such occasions, and 
struggles ferociously, darting its head here and there, en- 
deavouring to seize the hands of its captors with its formidable 

It possesses extraordinary tenacity of life ; and even after 
the head is cut off, the body, it is asserted, will craAvl for a 
shoi't way over the ground. 

We shall find several lizards in various parts of America — 

the rrreater number in the Southern States. The first we meet 
with is the six-lined taraguina, belonging to the family of 
teguexins, which are remarkable for the many-sided shields 
which cover their heads, and the double collar on the thi'oat. 
This little creature is much smaller than the rest of its family — - 
being only about eleven inches in length — of a darkish green 


or ].)rown colour, with six narrow yellow streaks along its 
body, one of which on each side reaches from the eye to the 
middle of the tail. The lower part is of a silvery white hue, 
with a bluish tinge in some parts. 

It is an excessively lively, active animal, living in dry and 
sandy places, where it may be found searching for insects. 
As it is very timid, it takes to flight at the slightest sound, 
and is not easily caught. 


As the spring comes on, and the warm sun bursts forth, a 
formidable snake-like creature, nearly three feet in length, is 
often seen frequenting the plantations of the sweet potato, or 
coiled up beneath the roots of an old tree ; its keen eye 
watching for any small reptile or insect which may be passing. 
The head is small in proportion to the body, and of a pyramidal 
form — mottled at the sides with black and green, the jaws 
edged with yellow. Its abdomen is bright yellow ; and the 
upper part of the ear is marked with numerous lines of black, 
green, and yellow. 

Altogether, it has a very venomous look a])Out it ; but is 
truly one of the most harmless of creatures, not being a snake 
at all, though it goes by the name of the glass snake. It is 
in reality a lizard ; though — not having the vestige of limbs — 
it is appropriately called the lizard-snake. It has, however, 
evelids ; and the tonoue is not sheathed at the base, as is the 
case with serpents ; while its solid jaw-bones do not enable it 
to open its mouth, as they are ca])ab]e of doing. It has a 
tail twice the length of its body, from which it can with diffi- 
culty be distinguished. 

Its peculiar characteristic is its extraordinaiy fragility, — 



arising from the muscles being articulated quite through the 
vertebrae. If struck with a switch, the body is easily broken 
i'U two or more parts. Sometimes, indeed, the creature breaks 
off its own tail, by a remarkable habit it possesses of con- 
tracting the muscles with great force. The common English 
blind-worm breaks to pieces in a similar manner. 


Among the true lizards is a pretty little creature known as 
the green Carolina anolis. It is especially daring ; not only 
refusing to run away at the approach of man, but will enter 

houses, and run about the 
room in search of flies. It is 
very active, climbing trees, and 
leaping fi-om branch to branch 
in its search for insects, of 
which it destrovs oTcat num- 
bers. It is about seven inches 
long — mostly of a beautiful 
green above, with white be- 
low ; and it has a white 
throat-pouch, which generally appears with a few bars of red 
upon it, but when inflated the colour spreads over the whole 

Mr. Gosse describes one which he saw i-unnino' about amoufi 
tlie branches of a sassafras, just as it had seized a grasshopper; 
He caught the creature, which was then of a green hue ; but, 
on placing it on an old log, the colour changed to a brownish- 
black. . He was told, that if placed on a green leaf it would 
again become green. In a short time, after remaining in the 
sunshine,, it changed once more, to green. Again it became 



almost black ; and shutting it up in a desk, after half an hour 
he was no less surprised than delighted to see the lizard of a 
brilliant green, the line down the back only being blackish. 

When the animal is excited, the pouch, swelling out, be- 
comes of a crimson colour. It is covered with excessively 
small — scarcely perceptible — scales. 

These little creatures are at times very quaiTclsome, and 
will fight together, frequently both the combatants losing their 
tails in the contest ; while their pouches swell out as they 
leap at each other and struggle furiously. 


This is the scientific name of a creature generally known 
under the title of the horned- toad, though really a lizard. 
Its head is of a light brown, marked with dark spots, 
the under part being of a dull yellow ; and is armed with 
long conical spines, set round the edge and pointing back- 
wards. The back -is covered with shorter and stouter spines, 
of a triangular shape, extending to the very point of the tail- — 
also armed with a strong row of spines, which gives it a com- 
pletely toothed appearance. The colour of this curiously- 
covered back is gray, with irregular bands of chestnut-brown 
across it. 

Formidable as it looks, it is not only harmless, but never 
retaliates when attacked, and remains perfectly quiet when 
taken in the hand. It is also easily tamed, and learns to 
know its owner, and to take food from his hand— preferring 
little red ants, though it eats readily beetles, flies, and other 
insects. From its small, rounded form, and the mode of 
sitting, it has in all likelihood gained its connnon name of 
the horned-toad. 



Throughout North America there are no small number and 
variety of venomous snakes. The rattlesnakes are perhaps 
the most numerous, frequenting all parts of the country, 
though they generally keep to the uninhabited portions. 
They are found on the northern shores of Lake Superior — 
though the ground is covered for several months in the year 
with snow— and often appear in the regions to the west, in 
the same latitude, up to the Rocky Mountains. They would 
render some districts uninhabitable, were it not for the signal- 
giving rattles with which they are armed. Even quadrupeds 
are alai-med at the sound, and endeavour to make their escape 
from them ; and horses, it is said, lately arrived from Europe, 
show the same dread of these deadly serpents as do those born 
in the country, so that nothing will induce them to pass 
within strikins: distance of the creatures. 

The wanderer through the forest starts" back with dismay 
as he comes suddenly upon one of these venomous reptiles, and 
hears its ominous rattle when too near to escape. He must 
muster all his nerve, and strike it with his stick as it springs ; 
for a wound from its fangs will, as he knows, bring certain 
death, far away from human aid. 

The rattlesnake, like others of its tribe in cold regions, 
hibernates in winter ; and as the autumn comes on, seeks 
some convenient crevice in which to pass the cold season — 
generally in the neighbourhood of marshy ground, where it 
can cover itself up in the masses of a peculiar species of moss 
gi^owing in such situations. The reptiles are here, during the 
winter, frequently hunted out and destroyed. At that time, 
too, their bite is much less dangerous than in the summer — 



the amount of venom appearing to decrease with the increase 

of cold. 


, Besides the common rattlesnake, there is another known as 
the banded rattlesnake, and a third species called the small, 


or military rattlesnake. The latter is more dreaded, from 
being of less size, and not so easily killed as the former. The 
sound made by its rattle is extremely feeble, so that it can- 
not be heard at any great distance. However, as we shall 


pay more attention to the serpent tribe when we visit South 
America, where the rattlesnake is also found, we will wait 
till then to inspect the formation of its rattle, and its other 


Thei'e are many more harmless than venomous snakes in 
North America. One of the handsomest of its tribe is the 
corn snake, belonging to the family of the Colubrinse. As it 
avoids the daylight, though very common, it is not often seen 
in a wild state. 

It is, however, frequently tamed by the inhabitants of farm- 
houses — when it makes itself perfectly at home, and is even 
of more service than a cat in devourino- rats and mice; 
though occasionally, if a young chicken come in its way, it 
may gobble it up. This it can easily do, as it is of great 
size — varying from five to six feet in length. The colours of 
its body are remarkably brilliant ; the general tint being a 
rich chestnut red, with large patches of a still brighter and 
deeper red edged with black running along each side, and a 
second row of smaller spots of golden yellow, alternated with 
larger ones. The lower portion of the body is silvery white, 
checkered with black. 


No fiercer-looking member of the snake family exists in 
North America — with its mottled head, and black and white 
body, four feet at least in length- — than the quaiTelsome 
tliunder snake. From the chain-like markings on its body, 
it is sometimes called the chain snake ; and by others the king 
snake, on account of its tyrannical disposition. 

Though fangless, it is fierce and bold, and has been known 


to attack, kill, and eat a rattlesnake ; indeed, it will assault 
any member of its family, if not of its own species, even 
though but little smaller than itself It feeds on small 
quadrupeds, birds, and reptiles ; and few human beings who 
see it moving amid the shady places it inhabits, would fail 
to get out of its way as quickly as possible. 


The bright golden brown chicken snake — marked with nar- 
row stripes along the back, and from four to seven feet in 
length — in spite of its beautiful and fangless mouth, is an un- 
welcome visitor in farm-houses when it comes as a stranger, 
for it is apt to carry off fowls from their roost — as well as 
their eggs — and will eat up a brood of ducklings without 

However, as it is of an amiable disposition, it can easily be 
tamed ; and then, having learned good manners, it becomes 
a favourite, and recompenses its protectors by killing the rats 
and mice which frequent their premises. 


The beautiful blue house snake — four feet in length, with 
rows of spots on its side — is often mistaken for the corn snake, 
its habits being very similar. The lower part of the body is 
of a silvery white, tesselated with oblong marks of black. 
The ignorant i'ancy that it sucks the milk from the udders of 
the cows, and hence its name ; thougli, probably, it has no 
objection to a little milk, if it finds it in a pan. Its object, 
however, in entering houses and farms, is to search for mice 
and insects, on Avhich it in reality feeds, never interfering 
with the cows or other animals. 

;379) 15 


In many parts of the country, the black snake, on account, 
of its rapid movements, is called the " racer." Though fangiess,- 
it often, in consequence of the way in which it rustles its tail, 
among the dry herbage, making a sound similar to that of the 
lattlesnake, gives no small alarm to the wanderer among the 
brushwood near the edges of streams or ponds. It is also 
frequently encountered in the fields or on the roads. 

It is generally from five to six feet in length ; of a blue- 
black above, and an ashy gray below. It climbs trees in 
search of birds or their eggs ; and if interrupted in its em- 
ployment, will turn its rage against the intruder. Some- 
times, it is asserted, it will, to his horror, leap down and 
give him a bite ; though the only injury likely to arise is that 
to his nervous system from fright. Its bite is, indeed, per- 
fectly harmless ; and it does good service in hunting rats 
which live in the outbuildings, being able to climb walls and 
insinuate itself into the most intricate passages when chasing 


The last snake we will mention is the coach-whip snake, 
belonging to the family of Dryad idse. No Serpent can sur- 
pass it in the rapidity of its movements, as, with its lithe, 
black body — between five and six feet in length — and whip- 
like tail, it makes its way amid the gTass in pursuit of its 
prey. It seems literally to fly over the ground with the 
speed of lightning. 

It is curiously like the thong of a whip, being very long- 
in proportion to its girth, with a remarkably small head and 
neck ; its smooth scales — so arrano-ed as oreatlv to resemble 



the plaited leather of a whip — of a polished brown-black hue 
increasing the resemblance. 

When about to seize its prey, it darts forward with open 
mouth, grasping the animal ; in an instant it winds its lithe 
body and tail round and round it, so as to make escape im- 
possible. It will thus attack birds of prey of considerable 
size, and come off victorious. 

Travellers unacquainted with the reptiles which haunt the 
wilds of America, on first seeing a whip-snake rapidly ap- 
proaching, will, with sensations of alarm, urge on their steeds 
to escape — for it appears fully capable of springing up and 
inflicting mortal injury ; but, from having no fangs, it is 
unable to harm any one. From the delicacy of its colour, 
the elegance of its form, and the rapidity and gracefulness of 
its movements, it camiot fail to be admired. 


We shall find no small number of the froof race throuofhout 
America. Worthy of being the president of his nation is that 
enormous batrachian, the bull frog, both from his size, the 
power of his notes, and his hardihood and endurance. If we- 
visit at night the neighbourhood of some pool or marsh, we 
shall soon learn to know the sound of his voice, especiall}" 
when perhaps he and five hundred of his family are, with 
their heads half out of the water, amusing: themselves in the 
performance of a concert, each striving to outdo his neighbour 
in the loudness of his tones. He is a first-rate swimmer ; 
and when driven out of the hole in which he passes the warm 
hours of the day, he plunges into the water, and skims along 
the surface some distance before he dives below it. Only on 
such occasions, or when, perhaps, a dark thunder-cloud shrouds 


the sky, does he appear in the da^^-time, and give utterance 
to his notes. 

He feeds on snails and water creatures; sometimes on cray- 
fish and otlier crustaceans ; and occasionally, if a duckling or 
young chicken come in his way, lie will not scruple to take 
them into his capacious maw. 

His ordinary size is from six to seven inches ; but speci- 
mens have been met with which have measured nineteen — 
and even twenty — inches, from the nose to the extremity of 
their feet. He has a smooth black skin above, with a gi'eenish 
hue on the head, and lower part of the body grayish-white — 
the throat being white, dotted with green. He can take enor- 
mous leaps ; and is so admirable a swimmer, that s})ecimens 
have been known to exist in the water without once land- 
ing for several years. 


Inland, where no water is to be found, we shall meet with 
a creature of an olive colour — the back covered with tubercles 
— and with a l^lunt nose. It might easily be mistaken for a 
toad, though it is a veritable frog. Even in winter, before 
the snow has disappeared, we may see the hardy little creature 
making its way over the frozen surface of the ground. At 
the breeding season, however, it returns, like other frogs, to 
the water. It resides for the chief part of the year in sandy 
districts, in which it forms buiTows, about six inches in 
depth, by means of a flat, shai-p-edged spur, with which it is 
furnished. Into these burroAvs it makes its way backwards, 
very much as a crab crawls into its hole when seeking shelter 
from danger. There it sits, with its head poked out, watch- 
ing for passing prey. 



Both in the Northern and Southern States we shall find a 
merry little creature, with a voice greatly resembling that of 
the cricket. Living near the borders of stagnant pools, it 
frequently takes its seat on the large leaves of water-lilies 
and other aquatic plants ;. being able, by curious discs on its 
toes, to crawl easily over their smooth surfaces. 

It is among the smallest of its tribe, measuring only one 
and a half inches in length. It is of a greenish-brown, varie- 
gated with streaks of green and white, the under surface 
being of a yellowish-gray, tinged with pink, and the legs 
banded. Its body is slender, with the hind-legs very long, 
enabling it to take enormous leaps to escape danger. 


Throughout all parts of the continent we shall find a curi- 
ous little toad, about two inches in length, which possesses the 
nature of the chameleon — in being able to change its colour 
according to the tints of the object on which it rests. By 
this means, so completely does it assimilate its hue to the 
ground, that it often escapes observation. The changes of 
colour it thus rapidly passes through are indeed remarkable. 
From a nearly perfect white, it can assume every intermediate 
shade to a dark brown. It has a very toad-like look, and 
possesses skin glands which secrete an acrid fluid. Thus it 
is able, when attacked, to defend itself, as well as escape ob- 

It may frequently be found on old plum-trees, where it 
climbs in search of the insects which there cono-reo^ate. We 
shall frequently hear its voice, especially before rain, for it 



is a noisy creature. It has a liquid note, sounding Kke '' el " 
frequently repeated, and then ending with a sharp, short 

It leaves its arborial habitation durino- the breeding season. 


and makes its way to the nearest pools, where it joins in the 
concerts of its relatives. 

It hibernates during winter, burrowing beneath the damp 



Related to the salamanders, we shall find a curious creature 
in Pennsylvania, and other parts of the States, known as the 
spotted eft, or ambystome. It has a thick, convex head, 
with a rounded muzzle ; and is of a deep violet-black colour 
above, and purplish-black below, the sides being ornamented 
with a row of large yellow spots. Unlike other newts, it 
deposits its eggs in small packets under damp stones. There 
is another similar creature with mole-like habits, which bur- 
rows under the ground, found in various parts of the States. 


Another of the same order — a formidable and savage 
creature — is the menopoma, inhabiting the Ohio, Alleghany, 
and other rivers of the south, frequently, from its propensities, 
called the young alligator. It is also known as the " ground 
puppy," the " mud dCvil," and other well-deserved, if not com- 
plimentary names. 

It is about two feet in length ; but the teeth, for its size, 
are small. In appearance, it is ugly in the extreme ; and as, 
from its voracious habits, it devours a number of fish, and 
bites fiercely when captured, it is especially hated by the 
fishermen, who believe it to be venomous, and treat it as sea- 
men do the detested shark. 

The above names have been given to it in consequence of its 
voracity, and its being found generally in muddy bottoms. 


In digging into the mud, sometimes a number of snake-like 
creatures, between two and three feet long, are turned up — 


which have hidden themselves away, often three feet below the 
surface — in the Southern States. On examination, however, 
they will be found to have legs, though small and feeble, with 
only two toes on each foot. They are of a blackish-gTay above, 
and a lighter hue beneath. 

Another species of congo snake is found with three toes, — 
hence the name of three-toed congo snake is given to it. 


Related to the curious eyeless proteus, found in the cele- 
brated cavern of Adelsberg, is an animal very much larger, 
called the^necturus, inhabiting the waters of the Mississippi, 
and several southern lakes. It is a creature nearly three feet 
in length, with a thick body, and, being designed to live in 
daylight, possesses eyes. It is between a fish and a reptile, 
as it is furnished with large, well-tufted gills ; and, at the same 
time, has four legs, and four toes on each foot, though it is 
destitute of claws. 

It is of an olive-brown colour dot<jed with black, and a 
black streak reaching from one end of the l^ody to the termina- 
tion of the somewhat thick, short tail. 


Another curious batrachian, the mud eel, is found in Caro- 
lina, in marshy situations. Its total length is about three 
feet. The head is small, as is the eye, while on each side of it 
are three beautifully plumed gill-tufts. It has no hind-legs ; 
while the front pair are very small, and do not aid it in moving 
along the ground. This it does in the wriggling fashion of 
an eel ; indeed, when discovered in the soft mud in which 
it delights to live, the creature, at the first glance, would be 


taken for an eel. It has many of the habits of that animal, 
living on worms and insects ; indeed, it is difficult to say 
whether it should be classed with eels or batrachians. It is, 
however, a true amphibian, respiring either in the water by 
means of branchiae, or in the air by means of lungs. It 
approaches, in the structure of its head, to the salamanders, 
though much less so in its general form and proportions. 

The curious '' axolotl," which we shall meet with in Mexico, 
belongs to a closely allied genus. 


When travelling across the prairies, we may, at times, when 
gazing upwards at the sky, see what appears to be a vast 
cloud approaching from the horizon. It is produced by 
infinite swarms of locusts, or gTasshoppers, as they are called 
in North America.* About noon they appear to lessen per- 
ceptibly the rays of the sun. The whole horizon wears an 
unearthly ashy hue, from the light reflected by their trans- 
parent wings. The air is filled as with flakes of snow. The 
clouds of insects, forming a dense body, cast a glimmering, 
silvery light from altitudes varying from 500 to 1000 feet. 
The sky, as near the sun as its light will allow us to gaze, 
appears continually changing colour, from blue to silvery white, 
ashy gTay, and lead colour, according to the numbers in the 
passing clouds of insects. Opposite to the sun, the prevail- 
ing hue is a silvery white, perceptibly flashing. Now, towards 
the south, east, and west, it appears to radiate a soft, gray- 
tinted light, with a quivering motion. Should the day be 
calm, the hum produced by the vibration of so many millions 
of wings is quite indescribable, and more resembles the noise 

*Fioni Professor Hind's "Red River Exploring Expedition." 


popularly termed " a ringing in one's ears," than any other 
sound. The aspect of the heavens during the period that the 
greatest flight is passing by is singularly striking. It pro- 
duces a feeling of uneasiness, amazement, and awe, as if some 
terrible unforeseen calamity were about to happen. 

When the grasshoppers are resting from their long journeys, 
or in the morning when feeding on the grass and leaves, they 
rise in clouds as we march through the prairie; and when the 
wind blows, they become very troublesome, flying with force 
against our faces, and into the nostrils and eyes of the horses, 
filling every crevice in the carts. Fortunately, comparatively 
few take flight on a windy day, otherwise it would be im- 
possible to make headway against such an infinite host in 
rapid motion before the wind, although composed individually 
of such insignificant members. The portions of the prairie 
visited by the grasshoppers wear a curious appearance. The 
gTass may be seen cut uniformly to one inch from the ground. 
The whole surface is covered with the small, round, green 
exuviae of these destructive invaders. They frequently fly at 
an enormous heio-ht above the earth. An enofineer eno-ao^ed in 
the Nebraska survey, mentions that, when standing on the 
summit of a peak of the Rocky Mountains, 8500 feet above 
the level of the plains in Nebraska — being 14,500 feet above 
that of the sea — he saw them above his head as far as their 
size rendered them visible. 

Grasshoppers are excellent prognosticators of a coming 
storm. They may be seen at times descending perpendicu- 
larly from a great height, like hail — a sign of approaching 
rain. At this time the air, as far as the eye can penetrate, 
appears filled with them. Early in the morning they com- 
mence their flight, and continue it till late in the afternoon, 

geasshopfp:PvS, or locusts. 237 

when they settle round the traveller in countless multitudes, 
clinging to the leaves of the grass, as if resting after their 

They are fearful depredators. Not only do they destroy 
the husbandman's crops, but so voracious are they, that 
they Avill attack every article left even for a few minutes 
on the ground — saddle-girths, leather bags, and clothing of 
all descriptions, are devoured without distinction. Mr. Hind 
says that ten minutes sufficed for them to destroy three pairs 
of woollen trousers which had been carelessly thrown on the 
grass. The only way to protect property from these depreda- 
tors is to pile it on a waggon or cart out of reach. 

Two distinct broods of grasshoppers appear — one with wings 
not yet formed, which has been hatched on the spot ; the other, 
full-grown invaders from the southern latitudes. They some- 
times make their appearance at Red River. However, Mr. 
Ross, for long a resident in that region, states that from 1819, 
when the colonists' scanty crops were destroyed by grass- 
hoppers, to 1856, they had not returned in sufficient numbers 
to commit any material damage. Their ravages, indeed, are 
not to be compared to those committed by the red locust in 
Egypt ; and yet Egypt has ever been one of the chief granaries 
of the world. 




F we glance over Mexico, we shall see that the 
country is, like the continent of which it forms a 
part, of a triangular shape, — the eastern portion 
bounded by the Gulf of Mexico, low and flat sandy deserts 
or noxious marshes being spread over it, and with a narrow 
belt of level land at the base of the mountains on the Pacific 
shore. A series of terraces broken by ravines form the sides 
of a vast table-land, — six thousand feet above the plain, — 
which stretches from north to south throuorhout the interior, 
separated here and there by rocky ridges into smaller 
plateaux ; while vast mountains in several parts rise from 
their midst — that of Popocatepetl, the highest in Mexico, 
reaching to a height of 17,884 feet, with Orizaba, almost of 
equal elevation, and several mountains not much inferior to 
them, their snowy summits seen from afar, through the clear 



atinospliere of that lofty region. Several are active volcanoes ; 
the most curious being that of Jorullo, surrounded by minia- 
ture mountains emitting smoke and fire, and presenting the 
wildest scene of utter desolation. They form pinnacles of the 
great range of the Andes and the Rocky Mountains. From 
the midst of the great table-land of Anahuac, flows to- 
wards the north the river of Santiago, its course exceeding 


four hundred miles, passing in its way through the large lake 
of Chapala. Some of these table-lands are even eight thou- 
sand feet above the sea. The most lofty is ' so cold, that 
during the greater part of the day the thermometer varies 
between 42° and 46^. The PTeat table-land to the east of 
the SieiTa Madre has an elevation which varies from three 
thousand to six thousand feet. To the west of that sierra, 



is the region of Sonora ; while eastward^ across the Rocky 
Mountains, is the great valley of New Mexico, watered by the 


Rio Grande del Norte, which has a course of nearly fourteen 
hundred miles. 

MEXICO. 241 

We have thus, in Mexico, a region of elevated plateaux 
with numerous lofty mountains, steep and broken hill-sides, 
with deep valleys, watered by numerous streams, and a wide 
extent of low, level country under the rays of a tropical sun. 
These several regions possess a great difference in climate, 
and a corresponding variation in their productions, and, in 
most instances, in the animals which inhabit them. The 
domestic animals introduced by the Spaniards, have multi- 
plied greatly, so that vast herds of cattle and horses run wild 
on the table-lands and lower tracts. Sheep also abound, 
especially on the northern table-lands. The buffalo makes 
his way to the great plains bordering the Red River and 
Arkansas ; while deer, in large herds, abound on the higher 
plains. They are followed, as elsewhere, by packs of wolves 
and foxes or wild dogs ; while the puma makes himself at 
home here, as he does in Southern America. The bear takes 
possession of many a mountain cavern ; the beaver and otter 
inhal^it the banks of the streams and lakes ; the raccoon is 
found in the woods ; and the antelope bounds across the 

We know more about the feathered tribes than the mam- 
malia of Mexico. There are upwards of one hundred and 
fourteen species of land birds, one half of which are unknown 
in other parts of the world. Still, out of this entire number 
of species, only one new genus — which connects the family of 
the tyrant-shrikes with that of the caterpillar-catchers — has 
been discovered. There are two species of this genus, in 
both of which the males differ greatly from the females. In 
this intermediate region we find numerous genera which exist 
both in Northern and Southern America intermixed. Several 
South American birds have found their way into Mexico, — as 

(379) 16 

242 MEXICO. 

the mot-rnots and trogons, the harpy and carracara eagles, the 
hang-nest, the true and red tanagers, parrots, parrakeets, ma- 
caws, creepers, crest-finches, and the fork-tailed and even- 
tailed humming-birds. Of the genera peculiar to North 
America, — but which are unknown in the South, — found in 
Mexico, are the fantailed wagtails, titmice, and worm-eating 
warblers — blue robins, gToundfinch and sandfinch, crescent- 
starlings and ground-woodpecker. The sandfinch is, however, 
found in the Brazils. Vast numbers of aquatic birds frequent 
the lakes and marshes of the table-lands of the interior, as 
well as the rivers and shores of the coast, nearly the whole of 
which are well known in the United States, the greater num- 
ber also inhabiting the Arctic regions. 

Among the reptiles, there is one curious creature, peculiar 
to the country, allied to the siren of Carolina. It is the 
axolotl, which partakes of the form of a fish, and abounds in 
many of the lakes in Mexico. It is much esteemed as an 
article of food by the inhabitants of the neighbourhood. 

We cannot speak of Mexico without having our minds 
drawn to the time of the Aztec monarchy, — when sumptuous 
palaces, enormous temples, fortresses, and other public edifices 
covered the face of the country. In the midst of the terri- 
tory, on the western shore of the large lake of Tezcuco, stood 
the city of Tenochtitlan. the superb capital of the unfortunate 
Montezuma, on the site of which has arisen the modern 
Mexico. Though its glory has long passed away, the enor- 
mous ruins which still remain attest its past grandeur. Vast 
pyramids, on a scale and of a massiveness which vie with those 
of Egypt, still rear their lofty heads in great numbers through- 
out the country ; while the ruins of other buildings prove 
that the architecture of Mexico in many points resembled 

MEXICO. 243 

that on the banks of the Nile, Some of these pyramids 
might rather be called towers. They consist of a series of 
truncated pyramids placed one above another, each successive 
one being smaller than the one on which it immediately rests 
— thus standing in reality upon a platform or terrace. The 
gTcat pyramidal tower of Cholula is of this character, resem- 
bling somewhat the temple of Belus, according to the descrip- 
tion given of it by Herodotus. It reaches a height of 177 
feet, and the length of each side of its base is 1440 feet. In 
its neighbourhood are two other pyramids — teocalles, as they 
are called — of smaller dimensions. These temples, or teocalles, 
were very numerous, and in each of the principal cities there 
were several hundreds of them. The top, on which was a 
broad area, was reached by a flight of steps. On this area 
were one or two towers forty or fifty feet high, in which 
stood the images of the presiding deities. In front of the 
towers was the stone of sacrifice, and two lofty altars, on 
which fires were kept burning, inextinguishable as those in 
the temple of Vesta. In the great temple of Mexico there 
were said to be six hundred of these altars, the fires from 
which illuminated the streets throug-h the darkest nio-ht. 

Deeply interesting as is the subject of the architecture and 
the remarkable state of civilization of the Aztecs, we must 
not dwell longer upon it, except to mention the cyclopean 
roads and bridges, constructed of huge blocks of stone, and 
carried on a continuous level, across valleys, which still 
remain. There are also, in various parts of the country, ex- 
cavations, rock-hewn halls, and caverns, generally dome- 
shaped, the centre apartment lighted through an aperture in 
the vault. They somewhat resemble the cyclopean fabric 
near Argos, called the Treasury of Atreus. Not only the 



buildings, but the hieroglyphics, of the Aztecs, so closely re- 
semble those of the Egyptians, that there appears every reason 
to suppose they were derived from the same source. 

Among the natural 

curiosities of Mexico, one 
of the most remarkable 
is that of the rock- 
bridge in the valley Icon- 
onzo, which might, from 
its form — until closely 
examined — be mistaken 
for a work of art. 

The great mass of the 
population of Mexico 
consists of the descend- 
ants of those tribes which 
inhabited the country at 
the time of the Spanish 
invasion. The lano-uao^e 
most extensively spoken, 
as well by the civilized 
as the savage tribes, is 
still that of the Aztecs. 
The people of pure 
European blood are sup- 
posed not to amount to 
thirty thousand. About a 
quarter of the population 
consists of Creoles, descendants of Europeans and Indians known 
as Mestizos, while there is a small number of Mulattoes, and 
another race, the Zambos — descendants of Africans and Indians. 


't's\: /"•^Vwr,,''^ ': 

'^''^'- "C.A ."',A' 



i}^^*"#:isu. J 



Mexico has long been in a chronic state of revohition. 
From a province of Spain it became an independent empire ; 
afterwards a republic ; and once more, under the unfortunate 
Maximilian, it was placed under imperial rule, finally to fall 
into a far greater state of anarchy than before. 

Before we quit Mexico, a remarkable result of hydraulic 
action must be mentioned, found on the sea-coast of that 
region. It is known as the buffadero. At the termination 
of a long rugged point, the water of the ocean, forced by a 
current or the waves, is projected through a fissure or n^^tural 
tube in the rock, forming a beautiful jet cVeau many feet in 


Among the winter inhabitants of Mexico, one of the hand- 
somest is the scarlet tanager — a small bird, being only six 
or seven inches in length. It migrates north in the spring, 
generally making its appearance in the United States about 
the end of April, where it remains till the breeding season is 

The colour of the male bird is a brilliant scarlet, with the 
exception of the tail and wings, which are deep black. The 
tail is ftn'ked, and has a white tip. This gay plumage is, 
however, only donned during the summer, for when it re- 
turns to Mexico in the autumn, its body is covered with a 
number of gi-ayish-yellow feathers, giving it a mottled appear- 
ance. Its note is powerful, but not particularly musical. 

Wilson describes it as a remarkably aftectionate bird. 
Having captured a young one, it was placed in a cage high 
up on a tree. The father bird discovered it, and was seen to 
bring it food, roosting at night on a neighbouring bough. After 


continuiiig to do so for three or four days, he showed by his 
actions and voice that he was trying to make the young one 
come out and follow him. So distressed did he appear, that 
at last the kind-hearted naturalist set the prisoner at liberty, 
when it flew off with its parent, who, with notes of exultation, 
accompanied its flight to the woods. 


The farmers of Mexico and the Southern States of America 
whose fields are frequented by the anis, are much indebted to 
that handsome and somewhat conspicuous bird. It is of a 
black hue glossed with green, equalling a pigeon in size — its 
long tail adding to its apparent length. Its chief food con- 
sists of grasshoppers, locusts, and small lizards, but it rids 
cows of the ticks and other parasitic insects which fasten on 
iheir backs, where they cannot be iTibbed off. So conscious 
are the cattle of the service thus rendered them, that they will 
lie down to allow the blackbird to perform the operation at 
its ease. It is even asserted that, should the cow neglect to 
place herself in a suitable attitude, the blackbird will hop 
about in front of her nose, and allow her no peace till she 
does as required. 

Large flocks of these birds appear together, uttering deafen- 
ing cries. When fired at, even though many of them are 
killed, the survivors hover to a short distance, regardless of 
the danger in which they are placed. They build remarkably 
large nests ; sometimes, indeed, several pairs of birds build 
one together — much in the same way as do the sociable 
weaver-birds of Africa — where they live together on friendly 

It resembles another African bird in its habit of picking 


off ticks from the backs of oxen, the same duty being per- 
formed by the South American goatsucker. 


These birds are remarkable for their beautiful plumage. 
The first measures about fourteen inches in length. The 
crown of the head, back, and chest are of a deep, rich green ; 
the ear-coverts and throat, glossy black ; the breast and abdo- 
men, of a rich scarlet. A gray tint covers the centre of the 
wings, which are pencilled with jet-black lines. The quill- 
feathers are also black, each being edged with white ; and the 
bill is a light yellow. The females differ considerably from 
the males. They are shy and retiring birds, and their habits, 
consequently, are difficult to study. 

The Mexican trogon is much smaller than the former, 
being only a foot in total length, of which the tail occupies 
nearly eight inches. Few birds are more beautifully adorned 
than the male trogon. The head is of a bright yellow ; the 
upper surface of the body, with the chest, being of a rich, 
glossy green ; while the whole under surface is a bright 
scarlet. The throat and ear-coverts are black, and a white 
band of a crescent shape surrounds the throat. The wings 
are nearly entirely black. The tail is partly black, the two 
central feathers being gxeen, tipped with black. The females 
and young males differ greatly, but their plumage is still very 


The resplendent trogon is a native of Mexico, and, like all 
its congeners, is fond of hiding its beauty in the dark glades 
of the rich tropical forests. Its skin is remarkably delicate. 




and so thin that it has been 
compared to wet blotting- 
paper ; while the plumage is 
so lightly set, that when the 
bird is shot, the feathei's will 
fall freely from their sockets, 
through the force of the blow. 

The colour of the adult 
male bird is a rich golden 
green, on the crest, head, 
neck, throat, chest, and 
shoulder-plumes. The breast 
and under parts shine with 
as bright a scarlet as the 
uniform of an Enoiish o-uards- 
man ; the central feathers of 
the tail are black, and the 
exterior Avhite, with black 
bars. The resplendent plumes 
which overhang the tail are 
seldom less than three feet 
in length, so that the total 
length of this gorgeous bird 
will frequently reach four 
feet. The bill is of a light 

This species of trogon feeds 
cliiefly on vegetable diet. 
We may add that in old 
times its long plumes were 
amono; the insionia of IVIexi- 


can monarchy, and none but members of the " blood royal " 
were permitted to wear its gorgeous feathers. 


The tongues of frogs, instead of pointing outwards, are 
directed towards the throat. This species differs from the rest 
of its tribe, by having its tongue free and pointing forwards. 
Its rounded head sinks completely into the body, the muzzle 
being abruptly truncated, so as to form a circular disc in front. 
So extremely small is the gape, that it would not be supposed, 
if separated from the body, to have belonged to a frog. On 
each side of the neck there is a gland, deeply sunk, and 
almost concealed by the skin. 

The body of this curious creature is extremely short and 
thick, and its feet are half webbed. At the end of each of 
the hinder feet is a flat, oval, horny spur — its only means of 
offence and defence, as it possesses no teeth in its head. 

It is of a slaty-gray colour, with yellow spots on the sides 
and back. Occasionally the latter unite, so as to form a 
jagged line along the back. 


Among the batrachians found in Mexico is the curious 
axolotl, which frequents the great lake on which the chief city 
is built, as well as numerous other lakes, some at a consider- 
able elevation above the ocean. It is between eight and ten 
inches long, of rather a dark grayish-brown colour, thickly 
covered with black spots. Those who have seen a newt in its 
larva state, may form a correct idea of the gills which project 
from either side of the head. 

Naturalists differ in opinion as to whether it is I'cally an 



adult batrachian, or merely the larva of some much larger 
creature. In many localities it is very plentiful ; and the 
flesh being eatable and of a delicate character, the creature is 
sold in great numbers in the markets. 


Being furnished with both kinds of respiratory organs, it 
can breathe equally well on land or in the water. It has a 
broad, flat head, blunt nose, and eyes situated near the muzzle. 
Though living so much in the water, its toes are not connected 
by intermediate membranes — indeed, they appear only to be 
intended for service on shore — its tail, nearly as long as its 
body, serving as a propeller in the water. 




EAVING the continent of North America, which may 
be said to terminate at the southern end of Mexico, 
we enter that extremely irregular portion of land 
which, now widening, now narrowing again, stretches in a 
south-easterly direction till it unites with the southern half of 
the American continent at the Isthmus of Panama. We find 
in Central America three marked centres of elevation. The 
first we reach is the great plain, nearly 6000 feet above the 
level of the sea, on which the city of Guatemala is situated. 
Numerous volcanic peaks rise from its midst ; from it also 
flow several large rivers, some falling into the Gulf of Mexico, 
others eastward into the Gulf of Honduras, while smaller 
streams send their waters westward into the Pacific Ocean. 
The banks of these rivers are mostly covered with the richest 
tropical vegetation — the scenery of the river Polochie in Guate- 
mala being especially beautiful. Another high plain occupies 
the centre of Honduras, and extends into the northern part of 
Nicaragua. From it also rise numberless streams, some empty- 
ing themselves into the Caribbean Sea, and others into the 
Lakes of Nicaraci^ua and Manaoua. Further south rises the 


volcano of Cartago. Here the Cordilleras resume their general 
character of a vast mountain barrier, but once more sink down 
into low ridges as the chain passes tln'ough the Isthmus of 

As in South America, the Cordilleras run close along the 
Pacific coast. In consequence, the rivers which floAV from 
their heights have a long course on the Atlantic side, and 
have carried down a large quantity of alluvial soil. Here, 
too, rain . falls in greater or lesser quantities throughout the 
year. The vegetation is consequently rank, and the climate 
damp, and proportionately unhealthy. As the trade-winds 
blow from the north-east, the moisture with which they are 
saturated is condensed against the mountain-sides, and flows 
backwards toAvards the Atlantic. The Pacific slope is, there- 
fore, comparatively dry and salubrious — as indeed are also the 
elevated table-lands of the interior. 

The whole region is subject to earthquakes, and numberless 
volcanoes rise in all directions. In the low rido-e which 
separates the Lake of Nicaragua from the Pacific are several 
volcanic hills, most of them active^ while further to the 
north-west, in the district of Conch agua — scarcely more than 
one hundred and eighty miles in length — there are upwards 
of twenty volcanoes. The two most lofty are found in the 
Guatemala range — that of Fuego being upwards of 12,000 
feet in height, and that of Agua, 18,000 feet. 

Many parts of the mterior of the country have been 
but very partially explored, and are, indeed, almost unknown. 
Of the purely native tribes, most of them "have become 
mingled with Spaniards or negroes. Parts of the coast are 
inhabited by mixed races of Caribs, who have migrated from 
St. Vincent, one of the Leeward islands. These Caribs are 











known as the Black and Yellow Caribs — the former being the 
descendants of the survivors of the cargo of an African slavei', 
wrecked in the neighbourhood of that island. The descend- 
ants of the Spaniards are the dominant race, and they have 
divided the country into various republics, though the greater 
portion is still in almost as savage a condition as when first 


The English have, however, a settlement in Honduras ; and 
there is an Indian state forming the eastern portion of Ni- 
caragua, under the government — if so it can be called — of a 
native king. His territory is known as the Mosquito Country, 
from the name of the chief native tribe over which he rules. 

The climate is very similar to that of the West Indies. 
On the lower lands a variety of tropical productions can be 
brought to perfection, while in the high regions cereals of 
various sorts are abundantly produced. 


The fauna partakes partly of the character of that of the 
equatorial regions of South America, and of the semi-tropical 
districts of Mexico. There are several varieties of ant-eaters, 
similar to those found in the valley of the Amazon, while 
the gray squirrel of more northern latitudes skips playfully 
amid the forests of the interior. In the woods and wide sa- 
vannahs are two or more varieties of deer — one resemblino; the 
European deer in colour, but of less size, and adorned with 
large antlers. The other is of a lighter and browner tint, 
possessing short, smooth -pointed horns. The peccary is 
common in the valleys and low ground along the coast ; while 

(379) 1 7 

258 FAUNA. 

the waree^ or wild hog, runs in large droves in many districts. 
The tapir, dimiiar to that of the southern continent, also 
frequents the sea-shore and banks of the rivers ; and another 
species, peculiar to the region, is said to have been discovered 
lately. There are numerous varieties of monkeys, among 
which are the brown, the horned, and the little, playful capu- 
chin. The raccoon, as elsewhere, is common, and is noted for 
its thieving propensities. It lives chiefly on animal food. 
There is an interesting little opossum of about ten feet in 
length, of a gi'ay colour, with a somewhat large head, and a 
long and very flexible tail — the feet being provided with sharp 
claws. When the young leave the mother's pouch, she can 
place them on her back, to which they cling, while she 
scrambles amid the forest boughs. Besides the great ant- 
eater, there is the smaller striped ant-eater, and the little 
ant-eater. There is a curious creature, called the quash, 
resembling the ichneumon, which possesses a peculiarly fetid 
smell, and is known for its powerful, lacerating teeth. There 
are several species, also, of the armadillo, distinguished as the 
three-banded, eight-banded, and nine-banded. The paca is 
also very plentiful, and becomes easily domesticated. It 
reaches two feet in length, and its thick, clumsy form, of a 
dusky brown colour, may be seen scampering through the 
woods. The agouti, or Indian cony, or rabbit, frequents the 
same region as the paca, and is about the size of an ordinary 
hare. It does not, however, run in the same way, but moves 
by frequent leaps. The jaguar ranges through the whole of 
this part of the continent, and is remarkable for its large size 
and gTeat strength. Not only does it frequently kill full- 
grown cattle, and drag them to its lair far away in the woods, 
but, if irritated, it does not hesitate to attack human beings. 



The tiger-cat, or ocelot, which much resembles a common cat, 
but is considerably larger, is also found in the forest ; but at 
the sight of man it takes to flight, and is, therefore, less fre- 
quently seen than its fiercer relatives. The puma also makes 
its way from one end of the countr}^ to the other ; but though 
destructive to cattle, it is said here, as elsewhere, to fly from 


the face of man. The savage wolf, the cayote, is frequently 
met with. 

A considerable number of the birds of South America, or of 
allied species, are found in many parts of the country. This 
is the home of the resplendent trogon, called the quetzal — 
the imperial bird of the Quiches. It, however, has but a 
limited range, being found only in the mountains of Merendon 
in Honduras, and in the department of Quezaltenango in 



Guatemala. There are numerous varieties of the parrot tribe, 
many of them of the most magnificent description with regard 
to their colouring, Here, also, the forests are adorned with 
the gay plumage of the red and blue macaws, as also by a 
toucan with a yellow tail. It is remarkable not only for its 
bright colour, but for its curious pendent nests, of which 
frequently fifty are seen hanging together from the branch of 
a single tree. Among the birds of prey, the ever-present 

turkey - buzzard and 
other vultures, hawks, 
owls, and sea-eagles, 
are common ; as is the 
Mexican jay, the ring- 
bird, the rice - bird, 
swallow, and numer- 
ous varieties of hum- 
ming-birds. Among 
the water birds are 
the pelican, the mus- 
covy, and black duck ; 
the spoon-bill, plover, 
curlew, teal, darter ; 
THE TIGER-CAT, OK OCELOT. whllc herous, ibiscs, 

and cranes, are found in great numbers on the shores of the 
lagoons and rivers. In the interior of the country the splen- 
did Honduras turkey, as well as the cm-assow, and several 
varieties of the wood-pigeon and dove, as also the partridge, 
quail, and snipe, exist in abundance. 

Of the reptile tribes, alligators of great size are found in 
nearly all the lagoons and rivers. There is an infinite variety 
of lizards, — the most noted of which is the iguana, ^^'liich 



frequently attains a length of four feet ; — and its flesh is here, 
as in other parts of the continent, esteemed. There are many 
varieties of serpents, some of Avhich are harmless. Of the 
venomous species, there are the golden snake, the whip-snake, 
and the tamagas — the bite of which is considered deadly. So 
is also that of the corral. It is of the most brilliant colour, 
covered with alternate rings of green, black, and red. To 
this last may be added the rattlesnake and the ordinary 



black snake. Most of these snakes are . found in the lower 

region near the sea-coast. 

In all the rivers and lakes, tortoises and turtles of* several 

kinds are abundant. The land turtle reaches a foot in 

17 B 



length. Its shell is of a dark colour. It is eaten, but is not 
esteemed of so good a quality as the sea tui-tle. The coasts 
are frequented by various species of sea turtle, known as the 

Flr^^^r^iS^^il?^^^^^^^^^.^ -I- 


crreen, the hawksbill — which affords the best tortoise-shell to 
commerce — and the trunk- turtle, which is laro-er than either of 
its two relatives. From its flesh is extracted a kind of oil, 
which is of considerable value. 


The hawksbill turtle, which gains that name from its 
narrow, sharp, and curved beak, like that of a hawk, is also 
called the imbricated turtle, because its scales overlap each 
other at their extremities, as tiles are placed on the roofs of 

The green or edible turtle is of great size, weighing often 
six hundred pounds, and being upwards of five feet in length. 
It gains its name from its rich fat, which is of a green colour ; 
and its flesh is considered very much superior to that of all its 

The variety and kinds of Crustacea are almost numberless, 
from the largest lobster to the smallest crab. Two species — 
tlie mangrove crab, and the white and black land crab — are 
found near the mouths of the rivers and in all the lagoons ; 
while the curious soldier crabs, which seem as much at home 
in one element as in the other, inhabit in vast numbers the 
trees which lie rotting half submerged in the water. At 
certain times they may be found making their way into the 
interior, to return afterwards to the ocean. 

The neighbourhood of the ocean, and the rivers and lakes 
of the interior, swarm with an endless variety of fish ; while 
the huge manatee, or sea-cow, is found in most of the rivers. 


The most valuable production of the forests of this part of 
the world is the mahogany-tree of Honduras, well-deservi™ 
from its magnificent foliage and vast size, to be called the 
king of the forest. It is remarkably slow of growth, its in- 
crease during half a century being scarcely perceptible. 

The life of the mahogany-cutter is wild in the extreme, 
yet he carries on his occupation in a s}'stematic manner. 



Parties, or gangs, are formed, consisting of fifty men, with 
a captain, or hunter, attached to each. The business of the 
hunter is to search out the mahogany-trees fit for cutting. To 
do this, he makes his way through the thick forest to the 
highest ground in the neighbourhood he can find, and then 
climbs one of the tallest trees. From thence he surveys the 

surrounding country 
in search of the foli- 
age, which presents 
a yellow, reddish 
hue, assumed by the 
mahogany - tree at 
that season of the 
year — about August. 
Having thus dis- 
covered a spot on 
which a number of 
the sought-for trees 
grow, he descends, 
and as rapidly as 
possible leads his 
party to it, lest any 
others on the search 
should be before 
them. Huts are now 
b^t, roofed with long grass, or the branches of the thatch- 
palm. His furniture consists of a hammock swung between 
two posts, and a couple of stones on which his kettle is sup- 
ported. Stages, on which the axemen stand, are erected 
round the trees, which are cut down about ten or twelve feet 
from the ground. The trunk is considered most vahiable, on 



account of the size of the wood it furnishes ; but the branches 
are also of vakie, from their grain being closer and more 

While one party is employed in cutting down the trees, an- 
other is engaged in forming a main road to the nearest river, 
with others from the various spots where the axemen are at 
work leading to it. This operation is concluded by the end 
of December. The trees are now sawn into logs of various 
lengths, and are squared by the axe, in order to lessen their 
weight, and to prevent them from rolling in the truck. When 
the dry weather sets in — about April or May — trucking com- 
mences. The trucks are drawn by seven pair of oxen. 
Each is accompanied by two drivers, sixteen men to cut food 
for the cattle, and twelve to load the trucks. In consequence 
of the hot sun during the day, trucking is always carried on 
at night. A wild scene is presented while the trucks are 
moving from the forest, each accompanied by several men 
carrying torches, the drivers cracking their whips and utter- 
ing their shouts. Thus they go on till they reach the river's 
brink, when the logs — each marked with the owner's initials 
— are thrown into the water, and the trucks return for a fresh 
load. When the rains commence, the roads are impassable, 
and all trucking ceases. 

As the rivers are swelled by the rains, the mahogany-logs 
are floated away, followed by the gangs in flat-bottomed 
canoes, called pit-pans. Their crews are employed in liberat- 
ing the logs from the branches of the overhanging trees and 
other impediments, till they are stopped by a beam placed 
near the mouth of the river. The loofs of each owner are 
now collected into large rafts, in which state they are 
floated down to the wharves of the proprietors. Here 



they are newly smoothed, and made ready for shipping to 

Many other valuable woods come from this region. Rose- 
wood is common on the northern coast of Honduras. The 
bushes which produce gum-arabic abound in all the open 
savannahs on the Pacific slope. In the forest is found the 


copaiba-tree, producing a healing liquid. Here also are found 
the copal-tree, the palma-christi, the ipecacuanha — the root of 
which is so extensively used in medicine — the liquid amber, 
as well as caoutchouc. Here the vast ceiba, or silk-cotton tree, 
is abundant, from which canoes are frequently hollowed out. 
Indeed, a considerable number of the trees found on the banks 
of the Orinoco and Amazon here also come to perfection. 






Central America is the home of several beautiful species of 
those minute members of the feathered tribe — the humming- 
birds. Among them is found the slender shear-tail, which 
will be known by its deeply-forked black tail, its wings of 
purple-brown, and its body of deep shining green, changing to 
brown on the head, and bronze on the back and wing-coverts. 
The chin is black, with a green gloss ; the throat is of a 
deep metallic purple ; while a large crescent-shaped mark of 
buff appears on the upper part of the chest. There is a gray 
spot in the centre of the abdomen, and a buff one on each 
flank, the under tail-coverts beine^ of a o^reenish liue. 

The female differs greatly from her consort. Her tail is 
short, the central feathers being of a golden green ; the ex- 
terior ones rusty red at their base, and black for the gi'eater 
part of their length, with white tips. The u]iper part of 


her body is also of a golden green ; the lower of a reddish- 


The beautiful little rufus flame-bearers belong to the genus 
PhcTethornis. They are known by their long, graduated tails, 
all the feathers of which are pinnated — the two central ones 
extending far beyond the others. " They may be seen early 
in the year, darting, buzzing, and squeaking in the usual 
manner of their tribe, engaged in collecting sweets in all the 
energy of life, appearing like breathing gems — magic car- 
buncles of glowing fire — stretching out their glorious ruffs, 
as if to emulate the sun itself in splendour. The female sits 
towards the close of May, when the males are uncommonly 
quarrelsome and vigilant, darting out as the stranger approaches 
the nest, looking like angry coals of brilliant fire, returning 
several times to the attack with the utmost velocity, at the 
same time uttering a curious, reverberating, sharp bleat, 
somewha^t similar to the quivering twang of a dead twig, and 
curiously like the real bleat of some small quadruped. At 
other times the males may be seen daiting high up in the 
air, and whirling aboul each other in great anger and with 
much velocity. 

" The nests are funnel-shaped, measuring about two and a 
quarter inches in depth, and one and three-quarters in breadth at 
the upper paii;, composed of mosses, lichens, and feathers woven 
together with vegetable fibres, and lined with soft cotton." 

This description is given by Mr. Nuttal the naturalist, and 
quoted by Audubon. 

RRixcEss Helena's coquette. 
This beautiful little gem — a native of Vera Paz, in Guate- 



mala — is adorned somewhat after the fashion of the Birds of 
Paradise, its head being ornamented with six long, green, 
hair-like feathers, three on either side of the body. The 


upper part is of a coppery bronze colour, a band of buff 
crossing the lower end of the back. The face is gi-een ; and 
the throat is adorned with emerald feathers surrounded with 


others long and white. These start from the neck, being 
edged with blue-black. Beautifully adorned as is the male, 
the hen bird possesses neither crest nor neck-j^lumes, her 
colour being of a dull, bronze green, and grayish - white 
sprinkled with green on the under part of the body. 


The little sparkling-tail is one of the boldest and most 
familiar of its tribe, being seen flitting from flower to flower 
among the gardens in Guatemala, and remaining with perfect 
confidence even while people are moving about near it. It 
is one of the smallest of its tribe — the nest being also of 
a proportionate size, formed of various delicate fibres, such as 
spider's webs and cottony down, and covered with lichens. 
Within it the female lays two eggs, scarcely larger than peas, 
of a delicate, almost transparent, pearly white. This nest is 
secured to a slight twig by spider's webs. 

The general colour of the male is bronzed green above, 
with a crescent-shaped white mark on the lower part of the 
back. It has a rich metallic blue throat, changing in certain 
lights ; and the wings are of a dark purple-broAvn. The tail 
is composed of feathers of different tints — the two central of 
a rich, shining green ; the next, green, marked with bronze ; 
and the outer, dark brown, with triangTilar white spots on the 
inner web. 

The whole length of the bird, with its forked tail, is about 
four inches. The hen has a shorter tail, the feathers purple- 
black, bronzed at the base, and most of them tipped with 
white and ringed with bufl! The upper part of the body is 
of a rich bronzed green ; and the lower, a rusty red. 

Many other beautiful humming-birds appear throughout dif- 



ferent parts of Mexico and Central America ; 

but we may grow weary even when examining 

caskets of the most brilliant gems ; and we 

^]j~ shall have many others to describe when we 

reach the southern part of the continent. 


Insect life is as active in Central America as 
in other parts of the tropics. The most dreaded 
insect is the locust, which makes periodical 
attacks on the plantations, and in a single 
hour the largest fields of maize are stripped 
of their leaves, the stems alone being left to 
show that they once existed. This creature 
is called by the natives the '' chapulin," or langostaT. They 
make their first appeai'ance as little wingless tilings, swarm- 
ing over the ground like ants, when they are called " saii- 



tones." In order to destroy them, the natives dig long 
trenches, into which they are driven, when, unable to leap 
out, they are easily buried and destroyed. Still, vast num- 
bers escape, when they appear in enormous columns, dark- 
ening the ah^, and as they sweep onwards, destroy every green 
thing in their course. They cover the ground on every side, 
then rising in clouds, fill the atmosphere with their multi- 
tudes, causing the trees to appear brown, as if seared by 
fire. Frequently, as their hosts sweep onwards, they are 
seen falling like flakes m a snow-storm from a dark cloud. 
Every device that the farmer can think of is employed to 
prevent their settling : sulphur is burned, drums beaten, guns 
fired, and other noises made. Often, by such means, a plan- 
tation is preserved from destruction ; but when the columns 
once alight, no device avails to save the plantation from 
speedy desolation. 

This locust or grasshopper is generally from two and a half 
to four inches in length, but specimens sometimes appear Rye 
inches long ; and it may be conceived what an enormous 
amount of food such monsters must consume. 



N all parts of Central America are found numerous 
signs that the country was, in bygone days, inha- 
bited by a numerous population far more advanced 
in civilization than the tribes which peopled it when first 
discovered by Columbus and his companions. In Yucatan 
and Chiapas, especially, ruins of numerous houses exist, with 
elaborately carved monuments and large buildings, bearing 
a remarkable resemblance to those of Egypt and Babylon. 
Throughout Nicaragua and other districts many remains — 
such as tombs, monuments, and edifices — are found, as well as 
carved rocks, which were probably the work of a people of 
still greater antiquity than those who inhabited the first men- 
tioned reo'ion. 

Dr. Seeman describes some rocks near the town of David, 
in Chiriqui, on which characters are engraved similar, or in- 
deed absolutely identical, with inscriptions which have been 
found in the northern parts of the British Islands. The rock 
is fifteen feet high, nearly fifty feet in circumference, and 
rather flat on the top. Every part — especially the eastern 
i)ortion — is covered with incised characters about an inch or 

(379) ' IS 


half an inch deep. The first figure on the left hand side 
represents the radiant sun, followed by a series of heads with 
some variation. These heads show a certain resemblance to 
one of the most curious characters found on the British rocks. 
They are followed by scorpion-like and other fantastic figures. 
The tops of the stones on either side are covered with a num- 
ber of concentric rings and ovals, crossed with lines. He 
considers them to be symbols full of meaning, and recording 
ideas held to be of vital importance to the people who used 
them, and whose names have become a matter of doubt. 

In the district of Chontales, a vast number of ancient 
tombs are met with in almost every direction. They are 
found in plains having a good drainage, such as was generally 
selected by the Indians for the sites of their villages. These 
tombs are of diflferent heights and sizes. Some are about 
twenty feet long by twelve feet wide, and eight feet above 
the ground. In one which was opened was found a round 
piUar seven feet high and eighteen inches across, which was 
standing upright in the centre of the tomb. There was a 
hand-mill for grinding corn — in shape like those still in use 
in the country— a knife ten inches long, a hatchet like a 
reaping-hook, and a tiger's head of natural size, — all of stone. 
In some instances gold ornaments have been found, but not 
in sufiicient numbers to induce the people to destroy the 

The Indians inhabiting Nicaragua in ancient days did not 
apparently construct any large temples or stone buildings, as 
some other natives of Central America have done. They, 
however, formed stone figures of considerable size, which re- 
mind us greatly of those which exist in Easter Island in the 
Pacific. These stone figures, often of colossal dimensions, are 



of two different descriptions — the one having a mild, inoffen- 
sive expression of countenance ; while the others, presenting a 
combination of both human and animal, have invariably a 
wild, savage look, apparently for the purpose of terrifying the 
beholders. The fu^st, it is supposed, are the idols which the 
ancient Nicaraguans worshipped before the Aztec conquest of 
their country ; while the latter were introduced when the 
people had been taught to engage in the bloody rites prac- 
tised by the Mexicans. 

These stone monuments, though similar, as has been re- 
marked, to those of Easter Island, and to others found far 
away across the Pacific, are strong corroborative proofs that 
America was first peopled by tribes who made their way by 
various stages from the continent of Asia, though, at the same 
time, that long ages have passed away since they first left 
that far-distant region — the cradle of the human race. The 
Indian priests, like the Druids of old, appear to have chosen 
the hill-tops and mountain-sides, shady groves and dark 
ravines, for the sites of their temples or places of worship. 

From the midst of Lake Managua, in Nicaragua, rises the 
volcanic island of Momotombita, towering in a perfect cone 
towards the blue sky. In the midst of a natural amphitheatre 
on the slope of the mountain were discovered a large number 
of statues (fifty or more), arranged in the form of a square, 
their faces looking inwards. Many were cast down, but 
others stood erect, though all apparently had been more or 
less purposely mutilated. Some of the figures represent 
males, but others are undoubtedly those of females. They 
are cut in black basalt of intense hardness. The features of 
the face of one, which has been conveyed to the Museum at 
Washington, are singularly bold and severe in outline. The 


brow is broad, the nose aquiline, while the arms and legs are 
rudely indicated. Other curious idols have been dug up in 
the neighbourhood of the town of Leon. The Spanish priests, 
anxious to put down the ancient idolatry from the time of 
their arrival in the country, have taken pains to destroy these 
idols, and many have been mutilated and others buried by 
their orders. 

In the island of Zapetero, rising out of Lake Nicaragua, 
there are a still greater number of statues — some from eight 
to twelve feet in height, and others of still greater magnitude 
— elaborately carved out of hard stone. Sometimes they are 
placed round mounds which have evidently served the pur- 
pose of altars, on which human sacrifices probably were 
offered. One of the most interestino^ which has been brouocht 
to light is twelve feet high, sculptured from a single block, 
and representing a human figure seated on a high pedestal, 
the stone at the back of the head being cut in the form of a 
cross. The limbs are heavy, and the face large and expres- 
sive of great complacency. 

Some of the idols represent an animal, apparently a tiger, 
springing upon the head and back of a human figure. One 
— also at the Washington Museum — represents a man squatted 
on his haunches, with one hand at his side, and the other 
placed on his breast. The head is erect, and the forehead 
encircled by a fillet, much carved. The features are unlike 
most others — indeed, it seems as if each one had its individual 
characteristic. A jaguar appears on the back of this statue, 
its fore-paws resting upon the shoulders, and its hind ones 
upon the hips, while it grasps in its mouth the back part of 
the head of the figure. 

Although many of the figures represent human beings. 


others are those of animals. One, a jaguar, is seated on its 
haunches, the head thrown forward, the mouth open, — the 
attitude and expression being that of great ferocity. It is 
very boldly sculptured. Another, a very well proportioned 
human figure, is seated on a square throne raised five feet 
from the ground. It is remarkable for having on its head 
another monstrous head, representing some fierce animal. The 
heads of several of the idols are thus surmounted. These sym- 
bolical heads were probably introduced with the same object 
as those which were so general among the Egyptian idols. 

In the midst of this collection of idols are two or more 
oblong stones, on the sides of which are hieroglyphical in- 
scriptions. In the centre are hollow places, probably designed 
to receive the blood of the victims. 

It is remarkable that the heads of many of the figures are 
surmounted with cross-shaped ornaments similar to the one 
discovered at Palenque by Mr. Stevens. One of these crosses 
— which no doubt had their origin in Babylon, where they 
are well-known symbols — was set up by the Spaniards in the 
convent-church of Tonala, and there venerated. 

The Mexicans possessed a symbol called the TonacaquahutI , 
or " tree of life," which was represented with branches some- 
what in the form of a cross, surmounted by a bird. This 
symbol also appears on a tablet discovered by Mr. Stevens at 
Palenque. In various parts of the country terra cotta figures 
have been dug up. Some of them are rude, but others arc 
extremely artistic ; and though not equally graceful, resemble 
much, in the form of the limbs, many Egyptian figures. 
Among them is a figure from the island of Ometepe, which 
represents an alligator upon the back of a human figure, 
which apparently originally surmounted a large vase. 


Mounds similar to those found in the valley of the Mis- 
sissippi have been discovered in Honduras. But by far the 
most interesting remains are those of Palenque, in Chiapas ; 
of Copan, in Honduras ; and of Uxmal and Chi-chen, in 
Yucatan. Here are extensive ruins of cities, containing the 
remains of pyramids, and the walls of massive buildings, broken 
columns, altai^s, statues, and numberless sculptured fragments, 
showing that a large population inhabited this country, and 
that the people had attained a considerable knowledge of the 
ai*ts, though, at the same time, they seem to have been sunk 
in the grossest idolatry. 

In the western part of Honduras, adjoining the province of 
Guatemala, are extensive ruins, which stretch for more than 
two miles along the banks of the river Copan. The outer 
walls, which run north and south along the margin of the 
stream, ai^ from sixty to ninety feet high ; while other walls, 
of a similar character, surround the principal ruins. ' Within 
these walls are extensive terraces and pyramidal buildings, 
massive stone columns, idols, and altars covered with sculp- 
ture. The numerous teri*aces and pyramids are also Availed 
with cut stone, and ornamented with carved heads of gigantic 
proportions, and colossal idols of solid stone from ten to fifteen 
feet in height. The altars in front of the statues are of single 
blocks of stone, many of them richly carved, but all differing 
from each other. One of the most remarkable altars stands 
on four globes cut out of the same stone. It is six feet 
square and four feet high, its top covered with hieroglyphics, 
while each side represents foiu' individuals. The figure is 
sitting cross-legged, in the Oriental fashion, and the head- 
dresses are remarkable for their curious and complicated forms. 
All have breastplates, and each holds some article in his hand. 


From these carvings we read, though indistinctly, some of 
the characteristics of the people. From the absence of all 
weapons of war, however, we may suppose them peaceable, 
though grossly idolatrous, and, from being unwarlike, easily 

On entering the town, after some adventures, Mr. Stevens 
made his way to an area, which he ascertained to be a square, 
with steps on all sides, almost as perfect as those of the 
Colosseum. He ascended the steps, which were ornamented 
with sculptures, till he reached a broad terrace, one hundred 
feet in heiofht, overlooking the river. The whole terrace was 
covered with trees, among which were two gigantic cotton- 
trees of about twenty feet in circumference, extending their 
roots fifty to one hundred feet round, and which had, in many 
places, displaced the stones. Among other ornaments were 
rows of gigantic heads, which, no doubt, were intended to 
represent those of apes ; for amongst the fragments were the 
remains of the body of a colossal ape, strongly resembling in 
outline and appearance one of the four monstrous animals 
which once stood in front of the obelisk of Luxor, and which, 
under the name of Cynocephali, were worshipped at Thebes. 
This fragment was about six feet high. 

No verbal description can give a coixect idea of the 
elaborate workmanship of the numberless idols. One, described 
by Mr. Stevens as the most beautiful in Copan, he considers 
equal to the finest Egyptian sculpture ; and thinks, indeed, it 
would be impossible, with the best instruments of modern 
times, to cut stones more perfectly. They are generally from 
twelve to fourteen feet in height, about four wide> and two or 
three deep. On the front is, in all cases, a human head, with 
arms and hands, surrounded by the most intricate carving. 


Frequently other smaller heads appear below the large one. 
In many instances the legs and feet, as well as the body, are 
represented. The backs and sides' are covered with the most 
elaborate hieroglyphics, deeply carved — the whole forming a 
mass of rich ornamentation. Before several of the idols stand 
altars, also carved in the same finished way. 

The most interesting figure — which, unlike all the others, is 
remarkable for its simplicity — is that of a human being, bear- 
ing on its head a heavy cross-like crown. It cannot fail to 
remind those acquainted with the idols of Babylon of the 
Triune God represented in the sculptured stones of those far- 
famed ruins. 


Some two or three miles from the ruins are the quarries, 
from which the stones for the buildings and statues of Copan 
are evidently taken. Here still exist huge blocks of stone, in 
diflferent degrees of preparation. Near a river was found a 
gigantic block, much larger than any in the city, which was 
probably on its way thither, to be carved and set up, when 
the labours of the workmen were arrested. It is difiicult to 
conjecture how these vast masses were transported over the 
irregular and broken surface of the country, and particularly 
how one of them was set up on the top of a mountain two 
thousand feet in height. 

A place of this name was captured by Hemandes de 
Chaves at the time when its now broken monuments, ruined 
terraces, walls, and sculptured figures, were entire, and were 
all richly painted ; and it seems strange that Europeans 
could have beheld its wonders without spreading the report 
of them throughout the civilized world, yet no account 


of this strange city was extant till it was visited by ^Ir. 


Still more curious and interesting than the last described 
city, are the ruins of Palenque, in the province of Chiapas, 
bordering upon Yucatan. One of the chief structures of this 
ancient city stands on an artificial elevation 40 feet high, 
310 feet in length, and 260 feet in width. The sides were 
originally covered with stones, which have been thrown down 
by the growth of trees. On the summit are the ruins of a 
building, known as the Palace, about 25 feet in height, with 
a front measuring 228 feet by 1 8 feet deep. In front were, 
originally, fourteen doorways, with intervening piers, covered 
with human figures, hieroglyphics, and carved ornaments. 
The walls are of stone, laid with mortar and sand ; and the 
whole is covered by stucco, nearly as hard as stone, and 
richly painted. On each side of the steps are gigantic human 
statues carved in stone, with rich head-dresses and necklaces. 

In one of the buildings is a stone tower of three stories, 
thirty feet square at the base, and rising far above the sur- 
rounding walls. The walls are very massive, and the floors 
are paved with large square stones. In one of the corridors 
are two large tablets of hieroglyphics. 

There are numerous other buildings, all standing on the 
summits of similar pyramids. In several of the buildings the 
roofs still remain, and preserve the stuccoed ornamentation 
with which the walls are adorned. The colours, in many of 
them, are still bright ; and could the hieroglyphics with which 
they are surrounded be read, they would probably give as 
clear a history of the departed inhabitants as do those found 
in the tombs on the banks of the Nile. The most remark- 


V able figures are the bas-reliefs, in stucco, representing a woman 
with a child in her arms — which forcibly remind us of the 
statues in ancient Babylon representing the goddess mother and 
son (the same worshipped in Egypt under the names of Isis 
and Osiris ; in India, even to this day, as Isi and Iswara ; 
and also in China, where Shingmoo, the holy mother, is repre- 
sented with a child in her arms, and a glory round her head). 
It is impossible, looking at these figures, to suppose otherwise 
than that they were derived from the same source whence the 
idols of Egypt, Greece, and pagan Rome had their origin. 


In the north-east of Guatemala are the ruins of another city, 
the capital of the province of Quiche. It is surrounded by 
a deep ravine, which forms a natm-al foss, leaving only two 
very narrow roads as entrances, guarded by the castle of 
Resguado. The palace of the kings, which stood in the centre 
of the city, surpasses every other edifice, competing in mag- 
nificence with that of Montezuma in Mexico. It was con- 
structed of hewn stones, of various colours. So large was the 
city, that it could send no less than seventy-two thousand 
fighting men to oppose the Spaniards. The whole palace is 
now, however, completely destroyed, and the materials have 
been carried away to build a village in the neighbourhood. 
The most conspicuous portion of the ruins remaining is called 
El Sacrificatorio. It is a quadrangular stone structure, rising 
in a pyramidal form to the height of thirty-three feet. At 
the corners are four buttresses of cut stone. Steps lead up on 
the eastern side. On the top it is evident that an altar was 
once placed, for the sacrifice of human victims, which struck 
even the Spaniards with hoiTor. The whole was in full view 

UXMAL. 283 

of the people who collected round the base. The ruins differ 

entirely fi'om Copan and Palenque. Here no statues, carved 

figures, or hieroglyphics are seen. It is therefore supposed 

that these cities are of a much older date, and built by another 



The most magnificent and perfect remains in the country 
are those of Uxmal, about fifty miles south of Merida, the 
principal city of Yucatan. Here, amid the dense forest, are 
found walls of considerable elevation, with very extensive 
Ijuildings, — the walls still standing to theii- full height, and 
even the roofs, in some places, perfect. The largest building 
— supposed to be the palace of the sovereign — stands on the 
uppermost of three terraces, each walled with cut stone. It 
is 322 feet in length, 39 broad, and 24 high. The front has 
thirteen doorways; the centre of which is 8 feet, 6 inches wide, 
and 8 feet, 10 inches high. The upper part is ornamented 
with sculpture in great profusion, of rich and curious work- 
manship. The walls are covered with cement ; and the floors 
are of square stones, smoothly polished, and laid with as 
much regularity as that of the best modern masonry. The 
roof forms a triangular arch, constructed with stones overlap- 
ping, and covered by a layer of flat stones. It is remarkable 
that the lintels of the doorways are of wood, known as 
Sapote wood. Many of them are still hard and sound, and 
in their places ; but others have been perforated by worm- 
holes, their decay causing the fall of the walls. 

Two other large buildings, facing each other, are embel- 
lished with sculpture, the most remarkable features of which 
are two colossal serpents, which once extended the whole 
length of the walls. Further on are four great ranges of 


edifices, placed on the uppermost of three terraces. The plan 
of these buildings is quadrangular, with a courtyard in the 
centre. The walls are, like the others, ornamented with rich 
and intricate carving, presenting a scene of strange magnifi- 
cence. One of the buildings is 170 feet long, and is remark- 
able for the two colossal entwined serpents which run round 
it, and encompass nearly all the ornaments throughout its 
whole length. These serpents are sculptured out of small 
blocks of stone, which are arranged in the wall with great 
skill and precision. One of the serpents has its monstrous 
jaws distended ; and within them is a human head, the face 
of which is distinctly visible in the carving. 

The most tastefully ornamented edifice is know as the 
'' House of the Dwarf" It stands on the summit of a lofty 
mound, faced with stone, neai'ly ninety feet high, the building 
itself being seventeen feet high. Its purpose it is difficult to 

Scattered throughout the ruins are a number of dome- 
shaped subterraneous chambers, from eight to ten feet deep, 
and from twelve to twenty in diameter. The floor is of hard 
matter, and the walls and ceilings of plaster. A circular hole 
at the summit of each, barely large enough to admit a man, is 
the only opening into them. It is not known whether they 
were used as cisterns, or for granaries, like those of Egypt. 


The whole country to the south of Uxmal is covered with 
ruins. At a place called Labra, there is a tower richly orna- 
mented, forty feet in height, which stands on the summit of 
an artificial elevation. In another place there is one forty- 
five feet high ; along the top of which, standing out from the 


wall, is a row of deaths' heads — or perhaps monkeys' heads 
— and underneath are two lines of human figures, greatly 

At Kewick, a short distance from Labra, are numerous 
other ruins, mostly remarkable for the simplicity of their 
architecture and the grandeur of their proportions. It is 
still uncertain whether these cities were inhabited by the 
unhappy people conquered by the Spaniards, or whether they 
were built by a race which, from some unknown cause, had 
already passed away. We see how completely the Mexicans 
and Peruvians, after the conquest, sunk from their compara- 
tively high state of civilization into barbarism ; and such 
might have been the case with the inhabitants of these cities. 
Their origin will probably for ever afford matter for specu- 

The different cities vary in their style of architecture al- 
most as much as as they do from those of Assyria or Egypt ; 
l)ut when we come to examine tlie sculptures, we may be 
able to trace a much stronger resemblance. The statues of 
the woman and child, the cruciform ornaments, the serpents 
and gigantic heads of apes, as well as those of the typical 
heads of savage animals surmounting the heads of the statues, 
are all to be found on the banks of the Nile, and were pro- 
bably derived from the same central source. While the 
tribes who proceeded westward peopled Egypt, others, among 
whom a similar system of idolatry prevailed, may have mi- 
grated towards the east, and finally made their way across 
the Pacific to the shores of America. 




IME was when a rocky island, against which dashed 
the surges of the Atlantic on the east and of the 
Pacific on the west, rose in solitude from the 
wide-extending ocean where now the highlands of Guiana 
appear above the surrounding plains. Not another spot of 
dry land was to be found — so geologists affirm — between 
that point and the hills of Canada on the north, or for thou- 
sands of miles southward towards the pole, over that portion 
of the globe's surface now occupied by the vast continent of 
America. Then, by slow degrees, the mountains of Brazil, 
with their mines of glittering gems, appeared above the surface 
of the waters, amid which huge reptile-like whales, ichthyo- 
saurs, plesiosaurs, and cetiosaurs buffeted the billows, and 
*vast saurians, lizards, and alligators, rivalling the elephant 
in bulk, and twice his length — such as the megalosaurus, the 
iguanodon, and teleosaurus — crawled along the slimy shores ; 


while giant birds, with wide-spreading feet, stalked across 
the newly-formed plains, or flew shrieking, with wings of 
prodigious expanse skimming the glittering sea, — the lords 
paramount of this lower world. At length the earth, con- 
vulsed by mighty throes in the far-away west from north to 
south, began to cast up a long line of rocky heights, now 
to sink, now to rise once more above the surface, — till by 
degrees Pelion piled on Ossa — the vast chain of the Cordil- 
leras rose towards the skies, forming a mighty barrier be- 
tween the two great oceans. 

On the eastern side, the waves of the Atlantic, beating 
continuously, brought down into the shallow sea the debris 
from the newly-formed rocks, gradually filling up the spaces 
between the already created islands ; and the streams, running 
down from the mountain heights, formed the plan of the 
three gTeat river-systems of the continent — the Orinoco in the 
north, the Amazon in the centre, and La Plata in the south. 

The Almighty Creator appears always to have worked by 
mechanical means in preparing the globe for the habitation of 
man. There came then a glacial period. Ponderous blocks 
of ice, resting not only on the mountain-sides, but extending 
over the plains, and acting the part of mighty mill-stones, 
ground into impalpable powder the pieces of detached rock 
of which the lower surface was composed, till a soil was 
formed capable of producing a wondrous and varied vegeta- 
tion to clothe that Amazonian valley.* 

The work has been accomplished — the land prepared for 
its future inhabitants ! Mighty torrents fall from the lofty 

* The continent. Professor Agassiz supposes, extended at that time between 200 and 300 
miles further east than it does at present ; but the waters from the rapidly-melting mass of 
ice, forcing a passage towards the ocean, carried a large portion away, leaving only certain 
tracts which now appear in the form of islands at the mouths of the Amazon and Orinoco. 


mountains, meandering through the vast Amazonian plain. 
The age of winter has passed away. The earth, warmed by 
the fires beneath and the hot sun above, steams with vapour. 
Lofty trees rise from the alluvial soil. A dense mass of 
underwood springs up ; creepers innumerable hang from the 
boughs ; countless multitudes of insects have been called into 
existence — termites, ants, and beetles — feeding on the leaves 
and herbage, and on the giant trunks themselves. It might 
seem, numerous and voracious as they are, that they must 
quickly destroy the clothing of verdure which covers the soil. 
But they are not destined thus to triumph over the wonder- 
ful work of the Creator's hand. 

A law has been framed by which all things are beautifully 
and wonderfully balanced. Monstrous animals have been 
created to place bounds on their too great increase. Huge, 
awkward-looking beasts covered with shaggy hair, with thick, 
short limbs, and powerful, sharp claws bent inwards on soft 
pads — compelling them to move on the edge of their paws — 
are busy with the claj^-formed nests of the insects, dashing 
them asunder, and devourins^ their active builders — taking' in 
whole armies at a mouthful. 

See yonder huge creature, its body the size of a rhinoceros, 
covered with a coat of armour, a convex oval shield, formed 
of hexagonal plates wonderfully fitted to each other ! It is 
an armadillo, the precursor of a race still abounding in the 
land, though of diminutive form compared to its mighty pre- 
decessor. See how, with powerful jaws, it crunches up a 
fallen tree, perforated through and through by ants, — grind- 
ing the papery partitions of the dry wood, licking in and 
chewing between its wonderful cylinder teeth the whole mass 
into a black pulp ! 



" But lo ! here are mightier creatures yet. See the vast 
mylodon, the scelido there, and the still more colossal mega- 
there ! Ponderous giants these. The very forests seem to 
tremble under their stately stride. Their immense bulk pre- 
ponderates behind,, terminating in a tail of wonderful thick- 
ness and solidity. The head is mean, and awakens no terror. 
The eye lacks lustre, and threatens no violence, though the 
whole form betokens vast power ; and the stout limbs are 
terminated by the same thick, in-bent, sharp, hoofed claws. 

(TKc principal armadillo of South America.) 

One of them approaches that wide-spreading locust-tree. He 
gazes u[) at the huge mud -brown structures that resemble 
hogsheads affixed to the forks of the branches, and he knows 
that the luscious termites are filling; them to overflowing:. 
His lips water at the tempting sight. Have them he must ; 
but how ? That heavy stern-post of his was never made for 
climbing. Yet, see ! he rears himself up against the tree. 
Is he about to essay the scaling ? Not he. He knows his 
powers better. He gives it one embrace — one strong hug, as 
if to test its thickness and hold upon the earth. Now he is 

(:J79) 19 




digging away below, scooping out the soft soil from between 

the roots ; and it is 

mar\ ellous to note how 
rapidly he lays them 
bare with those great 
shovel-like claws of his. 
Now he rears himself 
again ; straddles wide 
on his hind-feet, fix- 
ing the mighty claws 
£_ deep in the ground ; 
plants himself firmly 
on his huge tail, as 
on the third foot of a 
tripod, and once more grasps the tree. The enormous hind- 
quarters, the limbs and 
?^$ '-L.^'^V^Vv*! the loins, the broad 

~^ "^^ '- i- t: '~'-~^K^^ ^-^ C^rfMiP nr\i'r\ cm-^t^ It^i n rr QV\iTn_ 

'^i cord, supplying abun- 
^ dant nervous energy 
to the swellino; muscles 
inserted in the ridged 
."^ and keeled bones, all 
^4 come into pla}- as a 
g point aappui for the 
Herculean effort." * 
" And now conceive 
,^_^-^M'^^'^^ the massive frame ot 
the megathere con- 
vulsed with tlie mighty wrestling, every vibrating fibre re- 

* Gosse's " Natural History." 



acting upon its bony attachments with the force of a hundred 
giants. Extraordinary must be the strength and proportions 
of the tree if, when rocked to and fro to light and left in such 
an embrace, it can long withstand the efforts of its assailant. 
It yields ! The roots fly up. The earth is scattered wide 
upon the surrounding foliage. The tree comes down with a 
thundering crash, cracking and snapping the great boughs like 
grass. The frightened insects swarm out at every orifice, but 
the huge beast is in upon them. With his sharp hoofs he 
tears apart the crusty walls of the earth-nests, and licks out 
their living contents — fat pupse, eggs, and all — rolling down 
the sweet morsels, half sucking, half chewing, with a delighted 
gusto that repays him for all his mighty toil. AVhile this 
giant is absorbed in his juicy breakfast, see ! there lounges 
along his neighbour the macrauchen — equally massive, equally 
heavy, equally vast, equally peaceful. The stranger resembles 
the huge rhinoceros, elevated on much loftier limbs. But his 
most remarkable feature is the enormously long neck, Uke 
that of the camel, but carried to the altitude of that of the 
giraffe. Thus he thrusts his great muzzle into the very centre 
of the leafy trees, and gathering with his prehensile and 
flexible lip the succulent twigs and foliage, he too finds abun- 
dance of food for his immense body in the teeming vegetation 
without intruding on the supply of his fellows." * 

Emerging from the water appears a great head, with little 
piggish eyes set wide apart, with immense muzzle and lips, 
and broad cheeks armed with stiff projecting bristles — the 
sluggish toxodon. The creature opens its cavernous mouth to 
seize a floating gourd ; and now it tears up the great fleshy 
arum roots from the clay bank, and grinding them to pul[), 

* Owen on tlie " Mylodon " 


sinks below to masticate its meal. Numberless other curious 
creatures are roamiiio; throuo-h the forest, or feedino- on the 
banks ; many others, having run their destined course, dis- 
appear from the face of the globe, to be replaced by a new 
creation of far less mao-nitude — the mild llama, the savao'e 
jaguar, the nimble monkey 'vsdth prehensile tail, the ant-eater, 
arborial and terrestrial ; the diminutive sloth, thick-skinned 
tapir, alligators, turtles, and manatees ; lizards, serpents ; the 
beautiful denizens of the air with superb plumage, numerous 
species of humming-birds, gorgeous butterflies and beetles, 
vieino* in their shinino^ hues with the rich o-ems hidden within 
the bowels of the earth. 

It is of these, and of many others in wonderful variety ; 
as well as of their master — man — in his savage state ; and of 
the curious trees and shrubs, whose fruits afford him and the 
lower orders abundant nourishment, that some outline sketches 
vrill now be given. 



|HREE separate mountain -systems exist in South 
America : — that of tlie Andes on the west, Guiana 
and Venezuela on the noi'th, and tlie serras of 
Brazil in the centre. The surface of the remainder of the 
continent is occupied by vast level, or undulating tracts of 
different elevations. The chief portion of the region through 
which the Amazon flows, but slightly raised above its sur- 
face, is covered with the richest and most varied vegetation 
to be found on any part of the globe, extending on either 
side of its course, as also along the shores of the Atlantic, 
north and south, for many hundreds of miles. Here enormous 
trees of many descriptions, of varied shapes and heights, grow 
in wonderful profusion. The candelabra, sumaumi'ra, the 
manicaria, and raphia, with their enormous leaves, and other 
palms innumerable, tower towards the sky. To the south of 
the Orinoco is another tliickly-wooded region, known as the 
Silvas ; which, united to the woods of Guiana and those of 
Brazil, Eastern Peru and Bolivia, form one enormous forest 
From the north bank of the last-named river, the ground 
gently rises towards the interior at the rate of five feet in a 



mile. At a distance of one hundred miles from its banks, at 
a slightly increased elevation, appears a sandy terrace — the 


greater portion barren, though in some places bearing grasses, 
and supplying water to the wide-extending plains below. This 


barren region, which occupies the most northern pai't of South 
America, is called tlie IJanos Altos. A far wider and more 
level country extends between the base of the Andes and the 
banks of the Orinoco, at a height of between two hundred 
and five hundred feet. Not a stone or rock, not even a 
pebble, is to be seen on these vast plains. So level are they, 
that the currents of the rivers crossing them are almost im- 
perceptible, and are frequently sent back towards their sources 
when met by strong winds. They are covered with grass, 
which affords pasturage to large herds of wild cattle — the 
only other species of vegetation being a few bushes gro wing- 
on the banks of the streams ; while here and thei^e, scattered 
at considerable distances apart, a few tall palm-trees are seen, 
reminding the traveller of the deserts of Arabia. 

In the southern part of the continent are the treeless plains 
of the Pampas, extending fi^om about 20° south latitude for a 
distance of fully two thousand miles into Patagonia, and aver- 
ao'inof in width five hundred miles. Stretching^, as do these 
plains, across a large portion of the South Temperate Zone, 
they present great varieties of climate. The northern portion 
is watered by the Kiver La Plata and its tributaries. To the 
south of Buenos Ayres the rivers are fewer and of less extent. 
The north-western Pampas consist of slightly undulating and 
dry plains, though intei*spersed with vast tracts on which lofty 
thistles rear their heads — useful, however, as fuel to the inhabi- 
tants. Further on, to the west, is a wide-extending pastoral 
district ; and yet beyond, reaching to the foot of the Cordil- 
leras, the soil is well-suited for agriculture. The pastoral region 
is almost a dead level, with large shallow salt-lakes, — one of 
them measuring fifty miles in length by twenty in width. 
Scarcely a tree is to be found throughout this region, and but 


few permanent water-courses. To the north extends a salt 
desert for upwards of one hundred miles, with a width of 
two hundred miles. It is crossed by the River Salado, which, 
rising in the Cordilleras, falls into the Plata, to the south of 
which rises a number of step-like terraces, sterile during the 
heats of summer, but covered with verdure after the rains of 
spring. Huge boulders, brown gTass gi^owing in tufts, and 
low spine-covered bushes, diversify the surface. In this in- 
hospitable region transitions from lieat to cold are very great. 
Now the traveller is panting under the intense heat of the 
sun's rays ; and anon an icy blast rushes across the plain, 
compelling him to draw close around his body his thick 
poncho, for protection against its chilling influences. 

Further to the south are found large swamps and lagoons, 
one of them having an area of one thousand square miles, its 
surface covered with aquatic plants. In the rainy season, the 
rivers, overflowing their banks, inundate the plains — leaving 
behind, however, a thick deposit of fertilizing soil, from which, 
as elsewhere, rich crops are capable of being produced. Further 
on, to the south, the Pampas, over which the 3^et savage and 
untamed Patagonians roam, and hunt the huanacu and ostrich, 
is generally higher and drier. 

The South American continent, it will thus be seen, con- 
sists of several distinctly different descriptions of country : — 

the long line of the Cordilleras, with their snow-capped peaks 
and their lofty punas or high table-lands, and the narrow strip 
of arid soil at their western base ; the three separate mountain- 
systems of Venezuela, Guiana, and the Brazils ; the mighty 
forests bordering the gi^eat rivers and their tributaries, to which 
must be added the wooded heights of the intertropical regions, 


where tall trees, including several palms, flourish at an eleva- 
tion of many thousand feet above the level of the ocean ; 
a,nd lastly, the wide-extending regions of the Llanos and the 
Pampas. These, as might be supposed, present great varieties 
of animal life — though scarcely so great as might have been 
expected, when it is remembered that they extend from 1 0° 
north to 50° south latitude. Several species indeed are found 
far to the north of the equator, and also near the southern 
end of the continent. But to give an idea of these diflerent 
regions, they must be described in detail. 



|TANDING on the eastern spur of the Andes, be- 
tween 3° and 4° south of the equator, the eye of 
the traveller may see in imagination a vast valley, 
clothed with a dense forest, stretching towards the far distant 
Atlantic. Behind him, on the west, tower the lofty peaks of 
the Cordilleras ; on his left, in a northerly direction, appear 
the mountains and highlands of Venezuela and Guiana ; while 
to the south rise the serras and table-lands of the Brazils. It 
is the Valley of the Amazon, in which more than half of 
Europe might be contained. Down the centre flows a mighty 
stream, the tributaries of which alone contain a bulk of water 
greater than all the European rivers put together. 

Upwards of five hundred miles away to the south of the 
spot where the traveller stands, is the little lake of Lauricocha, 
near the silver-mines of Cerro de Pasco in Peru, just below 
the limit of perpetual snow — 14,000 feet above the level of 
the sea. This lake has the honour of giving birth to the 
mighty stream: its waters forming the River Tunguragua, 
which, roaring and foaming in a series of cataracts and rapids 
through rocky valleys, flows northerly till it reaches the 


frontier of Ecuador. It then turns suddenly to the east, 
which direction it maintains, Avith a slightly northerly inclin- 
ation, for two thousand miles — its volume greatly increased 
by numerous large streams, each of which is by itself a mighty 
river — -till, attaining a width which may vie with tliat of the 
Baltic, it rushes with such fierce force into the Atlantic as to 
turn aside on either hand the salt waters of the ocean. Thus 
the seaman approaching the shore of South America, when 
still out of sight of land, may lower his bucket and draw up 
the fresh water which, it may be, has issued forth weeks 
before from the sides of the Andes. The whole length of the 
river, following its main curves, is but little under three thou- 
sand miles, while the tributaries from north to south stretch 
over seventeen hundred miles. 

The basin of the Amazon may be considered like a shallow 
trough lying parallel to the equator, the southern sides having 
double the inclination of the northern, the whole gently sloping 
eastward. The channel of the river lies rather to the north 
of the basin, some hills I'ising directly above its waters ; while 
the falls of several rivers to the south are two hundred miles 
above their mouths. Two thousand iniles from its mouth the 
depth of the river is never less than eighteen feet, while many 
of its tributaries at their embouchures are of ecpial depth ; 
and at the junction of the great rivers the hollows of its bed 
attain a dejDth of twenty-four fathoms. At Tabalingua, two 
thousand miles from its mouth, it is a mile and a half broad ; 
and lower down, at the entrance of one of its trilnitaries — the 
Madeira — it measures three miles across. Still further to the 
east its sea-like reaches extend to the north for ten miles, 
with still wider lake-like expanses, so that the eye of the 
voyager can scarcely reach the forest- covered Ijanks on the 


opposite side ; while if the River Para is properly considered 
one of its branches, its measurement from shore to shore, 
across a countless number of islands, is one hundred and 
eighty miles — equal to the breadth of the widest part of 
tlie Baltic. 

After receiving the waters of numerous streams, many of 
\\diich flow for considerable distances parallel with its shores, 
and are united by a network of channels, it is joined hy its 
most considerable northern tributary — the Rio Negro. This 
stream, rising in the mountains of Venezuela, and passing 
amidst the Llanos, robbing the Orinoco of part of its waters, 
has already, before it reaches the Amazon, flowed for a course 
of one thousand five hundred miles. It is called the NeoTO 
from its black colour. It is here not less than nineteen 
fathoms deep, and three thousand six hundi^ed paces broad. 
The next gi^eat affluent is the Yapura, which, rising in the 
mountains of New Granada, takes a south-easterly course for 
one thousand miles, its principal mouth entering the Ama- 
zon opposite the town of Ega ; but it has numberless small 
channels, the streams of which, two hundred miles apart, flow 
into the great river. The upper part of the Amazon is fre- 
C[uently called the Solimoens, which name it retains as far 
south as the mouth of the River Negro. 

About sixty miles further east, its largest southern affluent 
— the gigantic Madeira — unites its milky waters with the 
turbid stream of the main river. One branch, the Beni, 
rises in the neighbourhood of the ancient Cuzco in Peru, near 
Lake Titicaca, its whole extent from the centre of the pi'o- 
vince of Bolivia being nearly the length of the Amazon itself 
At its mouth it is two miles wide and sixty-six feet deep ; 
and five hundred miles up it is a mile wide. Numerous islands 


are found in its course : for nearly five hundred miles it is 
navififable for laro-e vessels, when a cataract intervenes. Were 
it not for this, there would be a free navigation from the 
centre of the province of Bolivia to the ocean, embracing 
islands the size of many of the Old World provinces, and 
widening into broad lakes. The monarch of waters flows 
on between its low forest-clothed banks till, four hundred 
miles from its mouth, it reaches the Strait of Obydos, where 
it is narrowed to two thousand paces. Through this channel 
its waters rush with immense force, calculated at five hundred 
thousand cubic feet in one second — sufficient to fill all the 
streams in Europe, and swell them to overflowing. No plum- 
met has hitherto sounded the depth of its bed at this point, 
the force of the stream probably rendering the operation al- 
most impracticable. 

Its last two great tributaries are the Tapajos, six times the 
length of the Thames, and the Xingu, twice that of the Ehine ; 
while further east a narrow channel unites it with the Kiver 
Para, into which flows the broad stream of the Tocantins. 
This river, rising in the Minas-Geraes, six hundred nriles from 
Kio Janeiro, is one thousand six hundred miles long, and ten 
miles wide at its mouth. Opposite to Para is the large island 
of Marajo ; and if Professor Agassiz is right in supposing that 
the continent once extended much further to the east than it 
now does, this island may properly be considered in the centre 
of the mouth of the river, and the River Para might then 
properly be called one of its true embouchures. But only a 
few of the streams which feed the Amazon have been named. 
Numberless other rivers swell its waters, united to it ly 
countless channels which form a wonderful netwoi'k tln-oui-h- 
out the whole region, joining also many of the main rivers 



together, with the intricate navigation of which the natives 
alone are acquainted. 


These cuiious water-paths, or igarapes, as they are called, 
are often so narrow that the branches of the lofty trees meet 


overhead, enabling the traveller in his canoe to proceed for 
miles together sheltered from the noonday sun. Here and 
there a glimpse of the sky can be discovered through the 
umbrageous foliage overhead, while birds of gay plumage flit 
to and fro, or sit perched on the branches uttering their 
strange and varied cries. In the mtervals, or sometimes 
forming the termination of the water-path, numerous pools of 
various sizes exist — some a few yards across, others expanding 
into lakes— filled mostly by the overflowing of the main river 
during the rainy season. They are the habitations of a great 
variety of fishes. Here several species of turtles and alli- 
gators swarm in vast numbers ; electric eels, too, abound in 
them, as well as many of the other curious water-creatures of 
that region. Water-fowl and various other aquatic birds dwell 
on their banks, while on the surface of their placid waters 
float the wide-spreading leaves and magnificent blossoms of 
the Victoria Regia, as also of other lilies and water-plants. 


The chief feature of the Lower Amazon is the vast expanse 
of smooth water, of a pale yellowish-olive colour, bearing on 
its bosom detached masses of aquatic grass floating down like 
islands, sometimes mixed with huge trees, their branches and 
roots interlocked, and often cai-rying among them wild animals, 
which, unconscious of their character, have there taken refuge 
from their foes, or have ventured thither in search of prey. 
The timid stag and fierce jaguar are sometimes thus entrapped 
and carried out to sea. At even and morn flocks of parrots 
and large and yellow macaws fly backwards and for\\'ards, 
uttering their wild and hoarse cries ; herons and rails frequent 
the marshes on its banks ; while all nioht luno- the cries of 


gulls and terns are heard over the sandy banks where they 
deposit their eggs, while they may be seen during the day sit- 
ting in rows on floating logs ghding down the stream, motion- 
less and silent, as if contemplating the scenery. There are 
divers and darters, too, in abundance. Now and then a huge 
manatee comes gliding by, its cow-like head rising to breathe 
the upper air ; while dolphins, porpoise-like, rear their backs 
above the sui-face, or leap half out of the water as they swim up 
the stream. On the low banks, huge alligators with open jaws 
are basking in the sun, or leisui'ely swimming across the river. 


This magnificent region enjoys a perpetual summer, its 
various fruits coming to maturity, according to their charac- 
ter, at different periods throughout the jesiY. It has, how- 
ever, its wet and dry seasons. The rain occurs at one time 
in the Upper Amazon, and at another in the Lower, — greatly 
swelling the volume of water in the main stream, which, 
unable to find its way towards the ocean, rushes through the 
countless channels and igarapes, overflowing the lower por- 
tions of a vast district called the Gapo. The waters begin to 
rise in February, and progi'ess inch by inch until the middle of 
June, gradually swelling the rivers and lakes, when, these be- 
coming filled, the lower lands and sand-banks are overflowed 
even far away in the interior. The forests are traversed by 
numerous gullies, which in the dry season are wide dells, but 
now become transformed into broad creeks, through which 
canoes can proceed to great distances under the shade of the 
lofty trees. 

At this period of the year the inland pools are frequented 
by swarms of turtle, as well as alligators, and shoals of fish 


which leave the main river ; while the flocks of wading birds 
migrate northerly, thus greatly dispersing the food on which 
.the natives depend for their existence. The fishermen who 
have been employed during the dry months in catching turtle 
and fish on the sand-banks return to their villages, though 
some employ themselves in collecting the Brazil nut and wild 
cacao, which are now ripe. 

About the first week in June, the flood has risen sometimes 
to the height of forty feet above the usual level of the river, 
when it now begins to subside. The rains, however, do not fall 
continuously, though very heavy at times. Several days of 
beautiful sunny weather generally intervene. The fine season 
begins with a few days of brilliant weather — tlie rays of the 
sun breaking forth among the passing clouds. Towards the 
middle of July the sand-banks again appear, flocks of gulls 
and other water birds fly by, and the gaily-plumaged inhabit- 
ants of the forest come forth into full activitv and life. 


The navigation of the Amazon is not fi'ce from danger. 
Fierce storms arise ; black clouds gather over the blue expanse, 
suffused anon' with a lurid yellow tinge, and the fierce whirl- 
wind howls along the river banks, tearing the placid stream 
into masses of foam; the tall trees bend before the blast, and 
huge branches are wrenched off and hurled into the water. 
The long-legged waders and other water birds, unable to face 
it, throw themselves on the gTound, and cling with claws 
and beak to the sand to escape being carried helplessly away. 


Sometimes, too, the destroying pororocca — a vast wave 

(379) 20 


rising across the whole width of the stream, to the height of 
twelve or fifteen feet — sweeps up the stream. Advancing noise- 
lessly over the deeper portions of the river-bed, it rises into 
an angTy billow, with a fearful roar when passing over a shal- 
low, or meeting any impediment in its course, A French 
traveller describes an island where he and his companions 
had rested on their voyage down the stream. They had hap- 
pily gone over to the mainland on the previous evening, 
when, as they stood on the shore, the pororocca was heard 
approaching. Onward it came till the island was reached, 
when, with an angry roar, it burst into masses of foam, and 
swept over the devoted spot, carrying in its fierce embrace 
not only the whole mass of vegetation, but overturning the 
foundations of the island itself, so that in a few seconds not a 
vestige remained. Sometimes, too, the higher banks of the 
Upper Amazon, crowned by lofty trees, are worn away by 
the rapid current, increased during the rainy season, continu- 
ally passing beneath them, till the upper portions, deprived of 
their support, fall over with a terrific roar into the stream, 
dragging with them their neighbours. The earth trembles 
with the concussion, the waters hiss and foam and rush furi- 
ously over the impediments in their course. Sometimes miles 
of the bank thus give way, the sound being heard far up and 
down the stream. Occasionally a canoe and its crew — who, 
to avoid the cuiTent, have been toiling close along the bank — 
have been thus overwhelmed ; while others, descending, un- 
aware of the obstruction, have been dragged by the furious 
whirlpool thus formed amid the tangled branches, and de- 



DENSE vegetation, though somewhat varied in 
character, rises Hke a lofty wall of verdui'e along 
the banks of the mighty stream, from the base 
of the Andes to its mouth in the Atlantic. There, where 
the influence of the sea-breeze is felt, the ever - present 
mangrove of the tropics forms a thick belt round the shores 
of its numberless islands. Higher up, various palms of many 
graceful forms appear, interspersed with numberless other trees, 
some bearing huge pods a yard long, others vast nuts and 
other curious fruits, — the banks below fringed either with 
giant grasses and broad-leaved bananas, or here and there 
with the large wide heart-shaped leaves of the aninga grow- 
ing on the sunniiit of tall stems, or in other places with 
the murici of a lower growth close to the water's edge. 
Among the most remarkable is the white - stemed cecro[)ia, 
the lofty massaranduba, or cow-tree, often rising to the height 
of one hundred and fifty feet ; the seringa, or india-rubber 
tree, with its smooth gray bark, tall erect trunk, and thick 
glossy leaves. The assai-palm, with its slender stem, its 
graceful head and delicate green plumes, is at first more 

20 B 



numerous than any other. Now appears the miriti, or maur- 


itia — one of the most beautiful of its tribe, with pendent 
clusters of glossy fruit, and enormous spreading fan-like 

THE GAPO. 311 

leaves cut into ribbons ; the jupati, with pkime-like leaves 
forty feet and upwards in length, graceful in the extreme, 
starting almost from the ground. Here is seen also the 
bussu, with stiff entire leaves, also of great length, growing 
upright from a short stem, close together, and serrated along 
their edges. Higher up still, while the palms become less 
numerous, other trees take their places. Among them ap- 
pears conspicuous the majestic sumaumera, its flat dome 
rounded, but not conical, towering high above the forest. 
The branches of this tree are greatly ramified and knotty, 
and the bark is white. Conspicuous, too, is the taxi, with 
brown buds and white flowers ; while the margin of the water 
is thickly fringed by a belt of arrow-grass, or frexes — so called 
by the Portuguese — six feet in height. Its name is given in 
consequence of being used by the Indians in making arrows 
for their blowpipes. 

Amid this wonderful mass of forest vegetation grows an 
intricate tracery of lianas and climbing sipos, some running 
round and round the trees, and holding them in a close em- 
brace ; others hanging from branch to branch in rich festoons, 
covered with starlike flowers, or dropping in long lines to 
the gi'ound, — often to take root and shoot upwards again 
round a neighbouring stem, or drooping like the loose cordage 
of a ship swinging in the breeze. Often they form so dense 
and impenetrable a thicket from the gi^ound upwards that a 
way must be cleared with an axe to proceed even a short 
distance from the banks towards the inner recesses of the 


On the Gapo, or submerged lands, however, a considerable 
difference in the vegetation appears. The palms are here 

312 THE GAPO. 

often more numerous than in other parts. This is the region 
where the cacao-tree and prickly sarsaparilla grow. Here the 
underwood is less dense, the sipos retiring to weave their 
tracery among the upper branches alone. Though during the 
dry season the vegetation springs up with wonderful rapidity, 
it is swept away by the next overflow. 

Here the lovely orchis tribe adorn the gloomy shades with 
their brilliant flowers. Among the most beautiful is the onci- 
dium, of a yellow hue, often seen — apparently suspended in air 
between the stems of two trees — shining in the gloom, as if its 
petals were of gold. In reality it grows at the end of a wire- 
like stalk a yard and a half long, springing from a cluster of 
thick leaves on the bark of a tree ; others have white and 
spotted blossoms, growing sometimes on rotten logs floating 
on the water, or on moss and decayed bark just above it. Still 
more magnificent is the Flor de Santa Ana, of a brilliant 
purple colour, emitting a most delicious odour. 

Peculiar and strange is this region of the Gapo. When the 
waters are at their height it can be traversed in all directions. 
The trees which grow on it, and the animals which here have 
their abodes, appear to differ from those of other districts. 

Let us accompany the naturalist Wallace, in his canoe, 
through a district of this description ; now forcing our way 
under branches and among dense bushes, till we get into a 
part where the trees are loftier and a deep gloom prevails. 
Here the lowest branches of the trees are level with the sur- 
face of the water, many of them putting forth flowers. As 
we proceed we sometimes come to a gTove of small palms, the 
leaves being now only a few feet above us. Among them is 
the maraja, bearing bunches of agreeable fruit, which, as we 
pass, the Indians cut off with their long knives. Sometimes 

THE GAPO. 313 

the rustling of leaves overhead tells us that monkeys are near, 
and we soon see them peeping down from among the thick 
foliage, and then bounding rapidly away. Presently we come 
out into the sunshine, on a lake filled with lilies and beauti- 
ful water-plants, little bladder- worts, and the bright blue 
flowers and curious leaves with swollen stalks of the ponte- 
derias. Again we are in the gloom of the forest, among the 
lofty cylindrical trunks rising like columns out of the deep 
water ; and now there is a splash of fruit falling around us, 
announcing that birds are feeding overhead, and we discover 
a flock of parrakeets, or bright blue chatterers, or the lovely 
pompadour, with its delicate white wings and claret-coloured 
plumage. Now, with a whir, a trogon on the wing seizes 
the fruit, or some clumsy toucan makes the branches shake 
as he alio'hts above our heads. 

This region, as might be supposed, is not destitute of in- 
habitants. Several tribes of Indians dwell within it all the 
year round. Among them are the Puru-purus and Muras 
tribes, who, spending most of their time in their canoes, in 
the dry season build small huts on its sandy shores ; and 
when the waters overflow it, form rafts, which they secure 
between the trees, sleeping in rude huts suspended from the 
stems over the deep water, and lighting their fires on masses 
of mud placed on their floating homes. They subsist entirely 
on fish, turtle, and manatee. 

Several species of trogons are peculiar to this submerged 
region. The curious black umbrella-bird is entirely confined 
to it, as is also the little bristle-tailed manakin. Several 
monkeys visit it during the wet season, for the sake of its 
peculiar fruits ; and here the scarlet-faced urikari has its home. 

For miles and miles together the native traverses this 



region in his canoe, passing through small streams, lakes, and 
swamps, scraping the tree trunks, and stooping to pass be- 
tween the leaves of the prickly palms, now level with the 
water — though raised on stems forty feet high — while every- 
where round him stretches out an illimitable waste of waters, 
but all covered with the lofty virgin forest. In this trackless 


maze, by slight indications of broken twigs or scraped bark, 
he finds his way with unerring certainty. 

" This curious region," says Wallace, " extends from a little 
above Santarem to the confines of Peru, a distance of about 
1700 miles ; and varies in width on each side of the rivei 
from one to ten or twenty miles." 



Let us leave the mighty stream, and wander amidst the 
picturesque windings of an igarape, into the depths of the 
forest, with Professor Agassiz. Passing into its narrow 
entrance, the lofty trees arching overhead shelter the voyager 
in his light canoe from the glaring heat of the noonday sun. 
The air is cool and refreshing. Not a ripple stirs the water, 
save that caused by the paddles of the Indian crew. Clumps 
of the light and exquisitely graceful assai-palm shoot up 
everywhere on either side from the denser forest. Here and 
there the drooping bamboo dips its feathery branches into the 
water, covered sometimes to their very tips with the purple 
of convolvuli ; yellow bignonias carry their golden clusters to 
the very summits of some of the more lofty trees ; while white- 
flowering myrtles and orange-coloured mallows border the 
stream. Life abounds in this quiet retreat. Birds and 
butterflies are numerous on the margin of the water. Crabs 
of every variety of colour and size sit on the trunks of decay- 
ing logs, watching for their prey, — to make their escape, how- 
ever, with nimble feet, when pursued. 

Or let 'US start before daylight, on a calm morning, along 
the banks of a larger tiibutary, to proceed towards the 
heights of the Serra Erere. As dawn begins to redden the 
sky, large flocks of ducks and of a small Amazonian goose 
may be seen flying towards the lake. Here and there we see 
a cormorant, seated alone on the branch of a dead tree ; or a 
kingfisher poises himself over the water, watching for his prey. 
Numerous gulls are gathered in large companies on the trees 
alono' the river shore. Allio-ators lie on its surface, divinor 
with a sudden splash at the approach of the canoe. Occasion- 


ally a porpoise emerges from the water, showing himself for a 
moment, and then disappearing. Sometimes a herd of 
capybaras, resting on the water's edge, are startled at our 

There sits, on the branch of an imbauba, rolled up in its 
peculiar attitude, a sloth, the very picture of indolence, with 
its head sunk between its arms. The banks, covered in many 
places with the beautiful capim-grass, afford excellent pastur- 
age for cattle. 

Now we turn into an inner stream, or igarape, often having 
to make our way with difficulty amid islands of capim-gxass. 
Now we pass through a magnificent forest of the beautifid 
fan-palm — the miriti — overshadowing many smaller trees 
and innumerable shrubs, bearing light conspicuous flowers. 
Among them are numerous Leguminosse — one of the most 
striking, the fava, having a colossal pod. 

The whole mass of vegetation is interwoven with innu- 
merable creepers, amid which the flowers of the bignonia, 
with their open trumpet-shaped corollas, are conspicuous. 
The capim is bright with the blossoms of the mallow grow- 
ing in its midst, in some places edged with the broad-leaved 
aninga — a large aquatic arum. Through these forests, where 
animal life is no less rich and varied than the vegetation, 
our canoe glides silently for hours. 

The sedgy grasses on either side are full of water birds. 
One of the most common is a small chestnut-brown wading 
bird — the jacana — whose toes are immensely long in propor- 
tion to its size, enabling it to run over the surface of the 
aquatic vegetation as if it were solid ground. It is their breed- 
ing season — January. At every turn of the boat we start 
them up — usually in pairs. Their flat, open nests generally 



contain five flesh-coloured eggs, streaked in zig-zag with dark 
brown lines. Anion q; the other waders are a snow-white 
heron, another ash-coloured, and a large white stork. The 
ash-coloured herons are always in pairs — the white always 
singly, standing quiet and alone on the edge of the water, or 
half hidden in the green capira. The trees and bushes are 


full of small warbler-like birds. The most numerous and 
interesting is one which builds a very extraordinar}^ nest, 
considering the size of the bird. It is known among the 
country people by the name of pedreiro, or the forneiro — 
both names referring to the nature of its habitation. Tliis 
singular nest is built of clay, and is as hard as stone — 2')edTa; 
while it is the shape of the mandioca oven — forno — in which 


the country people prepare their farina. It is about a foot 
in diameter, and stands edgewise upon the branch or crotcli 
of a tree. Among the smaller birds are bright tanagers, and 
a species resembling the canary. Humming-birds are scarce, 
though here and there a few appear ; Avhile countless numbers 
of parrots and parrakeets fly overhead in dense crowds, at 
times drowning every other sound with their noisy clatter. 

Birds of prey are not wanting. Among them is the red 
hawk, about the size of a kite — and so tame, that even when 
a canoe passes under the branch on which he is sitting, he 
does not fly away. 

Amono; the most striking are the o-allinaceous birds. The 
commonest is the cigana, to be feeen in groups of fifteen or 
twenty perched on trees overhanging the water, and feeding 
upon berries. At night they roost in pairs ; but in the day- 
time are always in larger companies. In appearance they 
have something of the character of both the pheasant and 
peacock, and yet do not closely resemble either. With the 
exception of some small partridge-like gallinaceous birds, the 
representatives of this family in Brazil belong to types A^hich 
do not exist in any other parts of the Avorld. Here the 
curassow, the jacu, the jacami, and the unicorn resemble as 
much the bustard and other ostrich-like birds as the hen and 

The most numerous insects to be met with are dragon- 
flies ; some with crimson bodies, black heads, and burnished 
wings ; others with large, green bodies, crossed by blue bands. 


Although the forests cover generally the whole length and 
breadth of the Amazonian Valley, there are here and there. 


on the higher ground, open dry plains with scanty vegeta- 
tion, — the ground in the water-courses or gullies, formed of 
clay, being baked by the heat of the sun into slate-like 
masses. One of these spots we now reach. The most pro- 
minent plants of this sandy or clayey region are clusters of 
cacti and curua palms — a kind of stemless, low palm, with 
broad leaves springing, vase-like, from the ground. Here 
also grow wild pine-apples ; and in broad sunlight numerous 
humming-bir<is deliglit to sport and feed upon the blossoms 
of the various plants wliich find no room to bloom in the 
dai'ker shades of the forest. 


Professor Agassiz remarks that no formation — known to 
geologists — resembling that of the Amazon exists on the face 
of the earth. Its extent is stupendous. It stretches from 
the Atlantic shore through the whole width of Brazil into 
Peru, to the very foot of the Andes — one vast extent of red 
sandstone, capped by a yellow-ochred clay ; not only along the 
banks of the main river, but forming the sides of those of its 
tributaries, to their far-off sources, probably over the whole 
basin of the Paraguay and the Rio de la Plata. How are 
these vast deposits formed ? is the question. The easiest 
answer, he observes, and the one which most readily sug- 
gests itself, is that of a submei'sion of the continent at suc- 
cessive periods — to allow the accumulation of these materials 
— and its subsequent elevation. This explanation is rejected, 
for the simple reason that the deposits show no signs what- 
ever of a marine origin. No sea-shells, or remains of any 
marine animal, have as yet been found throughout their whole 
extent — over a region several thousands of miles in length, 


and from five to seven hundred miles in width. It is evident, 
he considers, that this basin was a fresh-water basin, these- 
deposits fresh- water deposits. It is true that calcareous layers 
thickly studded with shells have been found interspersed with 
the clay ; but though supposed to be marine fossils, he recog- 
nized them for what they really are — fresh-water shells of the 
family of the Naiades. As their resemblance is very remark- 
able, the mistake as to their true zoological character is natural : 
indeed, many travellers have confounded some fresh-water 
fishes from the Upper Amazon of the genus of Pterophyllum 
with the marine genus Platax. He considers that the im- 
mense glacier which probably existed at the same time that 
ice, thousands of feet thick, covered the centre of Europe, 
must have been formed in this valley, and then, ploughing its 
bottom over and over again, and gTinding all the materials 
beneath it into a fine powder, must ultimately have forced its 
way through the colossal sea-wall which it had built up east- 
ward into the Atlantic. 



Day is beginning to dawn, the birds are astir, the cicada 
have begun theii- music ; flocks of parrots and macaws, and 
other winged inhabitants of the forest, pass by in numbers, 
seeking their morning repast ; beautiful long-tailed and gilded 
moths like butterflies fly over the tree-tops. Rapid is the 
change from the dark night. The sky in the east assumes 
suddenly the loveliest azure colour, across which streaks of thin 
white clouds are painted. The varied forms of the numberless 
trees, imperceptible during the gloom of night, now appear, the 
smaller foliage contrasting with the large glossy leaves of the 


taller trees, or the feathery, fan-shaped fronds of palms. For 
a time the fresh breeze blows, but flags under the increasing 
power of the sun, and finally dies away, the heat and electric 
tension of the atmosphere becoming almost insupportable. 

The heat increases as the day draws on. Languor and 
uneasiness seize on every one; — even the denizens of the 
forest betray it by their motions. By this time every voice 
of bird or mammal is hushed. Only in the trees is heard 
at intervals the whir of the cicada. The leaves, so soft 
and fresh in the early morn, now become lax and drooping. 
The flowers shut their petals. The natives, returning to their 
huts, fall asleep in their hammocks, or, seated on mats in the 
shade appear too languid even to talk. White clouds now 
appear in the east, and gather into cumuli, with an increasing 
blackness along their lower portions. The whole eastern 
horizon becomes rapidly black, the dark hue spreading u|»- 
wards. Even the sun is at length obscured. Then the rush 
of a mighty wind is heard through the forest swaying the 
tree-tops. A vivid flash of lightning bursts forth, then a 
crash of thunder, and down streams the deluging rain. The 
storm soon ceases, leaving the bluish-black motionless clouds 
in the sky till night. Meantime all nature is refreshed, but 
heaps of flower petals and leaves are seen under the trees. 

Towards evening life revives again. The noises of the 
forest animals begin just as the sun sinks behind the trees, 
leaving the sky above of the intensest shade of blue. The 
biiefest possible twilight commences, and the sounds of multi- 
farious life come from every quarter. Trooi)S of howling 
monkeys, from their lofty habitations among the topmost 
branches — some near, some at a distance — fill the echoing forest 
with their dismal noise ; flocks of parrots and blue macaws 

(379) 21 


pass overhead, the different kinds of cawing and screaming 
of the various species making a terrible discord. Added to 
them are the calls of strange cicada — one large kind perched 
high on the trees setting up a most piercing chirp. It begins 
with the usual harsh jarring tone of its tribe, rapidly becoming 
shriller, until it ends in a long and loud note resembling the 
steam whistle of a locomotive engine. A few of these won- 
derful performers make a considerable item in the evening 
concert. The uproar of beasts, birds, and insects lasts but a 
short time ; the sky quickly loses its intense hue, and the 
night sets in. Then begin the tree-frogs — Quack, quack ! 
Drum, drum ! Hoo, hoo ! These, accompanied by melancholy 
night-jars, keep up their monotonous cries till late at night. 

The night, however, is not given over to darkness. In 
every forest path, across the calm waters of the igarapes, along 
open spaces, in the village as well as in spots remote from 
man's abode, the whole ah' is full of bright and glittering- 
lights of varied hue ; now darting here, now there, like meteors 
flashing through the sky — now for a moment obscured, to 
bm-st forth again with greater brilliancy. Beautiful as is the 
English glow-worm, the fire-flies and fire-beetles, the elaters 
of the tropics, far surpass them in brilliancy. Their light is 
redder and more candle-like, and being alternately emitted 
and concealed, each of the tiny vermilion flames performing 
its part in the atrial mazy dance, the spectacle is singularly 
beautiful. In the marshy districts is seen the large elater, 
which displays both red and green lights ; the red glare, 
like that of a lamp, alternately flashing on the beholder, then 
concealed as the insect turns his body in flight, but the ruddy 
reflection on the grass beneath being constantly visible as it 
leisurely pursues its course. Now and then a green light is 


displayed, and then the mingling of the two complementary 
colours, red and green, in the evolutions of flight, surpasses; 
description. Even the brilliant elaters, however, will scarcely 
enable the traveller to find his way amid the darkness through 

the forest. I 


Wallace describes a midnight walk he was compelled to| 

take. He was barefooted, every moment stepping on somej 

■projecting root or stone, or treading sidewa^^s on something! 

which almost dislocated his ankles. Dull clouds could just be! 

distinguished in the openings amid high-arched, overhanging: 

trees, but the pathway was invisible. Jaguars, he knew,; 

abounded, deadly serpents were plentiful, and at every stepi 

he almost expected to feel a cold gliding body under his feet,' 

or deadly fangs in his leg. Gazing through the darkness, he 

dreaded momentarily to encounter the glaring eyes of the! 

jagaur, or to hear his low growl in the thicket. To turn! 

back or stop were alike useless. Unpleasant recollections of] 


the fangs of a huge dried snake's head he had just before I 
examined, would come across his memory ; and many a tale o^ 
the fierceness and cunning of the jaguar would not be forgotten. ; 
Suddenly he found his feet in water, and then he had to grope! 
for a narrow bridge it was necessary to cross. Of its height' 
above the water, or the depth of the stream, he was utterly! 
ignorant. To walk along a plank four inches wide, under such! 
circumstances, was a nervous matter. He proceeded, however, 
placing one foot before the other, and balancing steadily his 
body, till he again felt himself on firm gTOund. Once or 
twice he lost his balance, but happily he was only a foot or 
two from the ground and water below— though, had it been! 
twenty it would have been all the same. Half-a-dozen such| 
brooks and bridges had to be passed, till at length, emerging] 


from the pitchy shade upon an open space, he saw two twink- 
ling lights, which told him that the village was ahead. 

But we were d^cribing a tropical day. Night is over. 
The sun rising again in the cloudless sky, the cycle is com- 
pleted — spring, summer, and autumn, as it were, in one 
tropical day. The days are more or less like this throughout 
the year. A little difference exists between the dry and wet 
seasons. The periodical phenomena of plants and animals do 
not take place at about the same time in all the species, or in 
the individuals of any given species, as they do in temperate 
countries. The dry season here is not excessive, nor is there 
any estivation, as in some tropical countries. In these 
forests the aspect is the same or nearly so every day in the 
year — budding, flowering, fruiting, and leaf-shedding, are 
always going on in one species or other. The activity of 
birds and insects proceeds without inten'uption, each species 
having its own breeding- times. The colonies of wasps, for 
instance, do not die oft' annually, leaving only the queens, as 
in cold climates, but the succession of generations and colonies 
goes on incessantly. It is never either spring, summer, or 
autumn, but each day is a combination of the three. With 
the day and night always of equal leng^th, the atmospheric 
disturbances of each day neutralize themselves before each 
succeeding morning. With the sun in its course proceeding 
midway across the sky, and the daily temperature the same 
within two or three degTees throughout the year, how grand 
in its perfect equilibrium and simplicity is the march of 
nature under the equator ! 

" Oppressive, almost fearful, is the silence and gloom of the 
Brazilian forest," says Bates. " The few sounds of birds are 
of that pensive or mysterious character which intensifies the 


feeling of solitude, rather than imparts a sense of life and 
cheerfulness. Sometimes, in the midst of the stillness, a 
sudden yell or scream will startle one. This comes from 
some defenceless fruit-eating animal, which is pounced upon 
by a tiger-cat or stealthy boa-constrictor. Morning and 
evening howling monkeys make a most fearful and harrowing- 
noise, under which it is difficult to keep up one's buoyancy 
of spirit. The feeling of inhospitable wildness which the 
forest is calculated to inspire, is increased tenfold under this 
fearful uproar. Often, even in the still hours of mid-day, 
there is a sudden crash, resounding afar through the wilder- 
ness, as some grreat bou^h or entire tree falls to the sround. 
Sometimes a sound is heard like the clanor of an iron bar ao-ainst 
a hard hollow tree, or a piercing cry rends the air. These 
are not repeated, and the succeeding silence tends to heighten 
the unpleasant impression which they make on the mind. 
The natives believe it is the curupira — the wild man of the 
forest — who produces all the noises they are unable to ex- 
})lain. He is a mysterious being, — sometimes described as 
a kind of orang-outang, covered with long shaggy hair, and 
living in trees ; at others, he is said to have cloven feet 
and a bright red face. He has a wife and children, who, as 
well as himself, come down to the plantations to steal the 

Such is a faint outline of some of the more prominent 
features of the great Amazonian Valley — the most interesting 
portion of the southern half of the New World. No verbal 
descriptions can do justice to the reality — although drawn, 
as some of the above are, by master hands. We will next 
range along the mighty Cordilleras to the ancient kingdom 


of the Incas, looking down on the Pacific shores ; and then, 
again descending from the mountain heights, take a brief 
glance at the debased human beings who people the valley, 
and pass in review the more interesting of the countless wild 
creatures which inhaljit its forests and waters. Afterwards 
we will traverse A^enezuela, Guiana, the rest of the Brazils, 
and the wide-spreading level regions to the south of that vast 
country, the river-bound province of Paraguay, the territories 
of the Argentine Republic, the wild district of the Gi^an Chaco, 
the far-famed Pampas, and the plains of Patagonia. 



HE voyager sailing from the Atlantic into the 

Pacific Ocean passes a dark granite headland rising 

nearly three thousand feet out of the water, and 

which may be distinctly seen at a distance of sixty miles. 

It is Cape Horn^the southern end, broken off by the Strait 

of Magellan, of that range of mighty mountains which runs , 

in a northerly course along the western coast of South ! 

America, rising into lofty pinnacles — the summits of many ; 

covered with perpetual snow — sinking at length only at the i 

northern extremity, where the narrow Isthmus of Panama j 

unites the two continents. Again it gradually rises in Mexico, | 

and runs on under the name of the Rocky Mountains, at a ; 

less elevation and a greater distance from the sea, till it sinks : 

once more into the snow-covered plains of the Arctic region. ; 

We must, however, confine oureelves to the South American j 


})ortion of the range. For the entire distance its summits are I 

distinctly seen from the ocean, many at a distance of up- 
wards of a hundred miles. Between their base and the shores \ 
of the Pacific there is, however, a level tract, in some parts | 
consisting of arid plains, from fifteen to fifty miles in width. ; 



In crossing them the traveller finds not a drop of water to 
quench his raging thirst, nor a blade of grass to feed his 
weary steed. Among the rocky caverns of those mountain 
heights the savage bear has its abode, the mighty condor 
takes its flight from their rugged peaks into the blue ether, 
and the cold-looking llama, the vicuna, and alpaca find ample 
pasturage. In the lower, the fierce jaguar ranges amidst 


its forests of graceful palm-trees, the terrible alligator dwells 
on the banks of its streams, and the anaconda watches for 
its prey ; while bananas, yams, mandioc, and all the fruits 
of a tropical clime, attain perfection. This mighty range, 
however, does not run its length in one distinct line, but 
separates ; in some parts with deep valleys between them, like 
that of the Puncu of Avisca, while at others there are vast 

I 1 


table-lands ; again, however, to unite and spread out into 
numerous rugged sierras. 

The western portion of these ranges is })roperly the Cor- 
dilleras ; while the eastern, which slopes towards the wide- 
extending plains of Brazil, forms the true Andes. The southern 
portion skirts the bleak shores of Patagonia in a single sierra, 
ibr a distance of nearly one thousand miles, in some parts 
rising to the height of seven thousand feet above the ocean. 
Entering Chili, the mountains rise higher and higher, till they 
culminate in the mighty peak of Aconcagua, the most lofty 
height of the whole range. 

At the boundary-line of Bolivia the chain separates into 
two portions, enclosing the great table-land of Desuguadero, 
thirteen thousand feet above the sea. At one end of this lofty 
I'egion is the city of Potosi, rising above the clouds^the 
highest in. the world, erected amid the groans and tears of 
the hapless natives compelled to labour at its far-famed silver- 
mines. At the other is found Cuzco, the ancient capital of 
the Incas. Between them lies the Lake of Titicaca, the centre 
of bygone Peruvian civilization. 

Running still parallel with the coast, and looking down 
upon the modern city of Lima, the i-ange passes through 
Peru till it again divides in three poitions at the confines of 
the equator, where it once more forms two lines, which I'ise in 
that mafmificent cono-reo-ation of mountains which surround 
the famous Valley of Quito. Here no less than twenty-one 
volcanoes rear their lofty summits, many of them crowned 
with perpetual snow, amid which Chimborazo and Cbtopaxi 
are pre-eminent. 

To the north of the equator, the Cordilleras again form one 
vast ridge, and passing through New Granada, spread out like 



the branches of a pahii through Venezuela and. along tho 
northern shores of the continent washed by the Caribbean Sea. 


The whole of this vast range, from Cape Horn to Panama, 
gives evidence of the hidden fires which glow beneath its 



base, and by which it was originally created. Fifty-one vol- 
canoes are found along the line. Of the twenty which sur- 
round the Valley of Quito, three are active, five dormant, and 
twelve are supposed to be extinct. By far the larger number 
rise out of the eastern range ; indeed, the western contains 
only one active volcano, but out of it tower the peerless 
Chimborazo, and Pichincha with its deep crater. The whole 
region is subject to terrific earthquakes, which have from 



time to time shaken down its cities, caused huge waves to 
flow over the level land, and destroyed countless thousands of 
its inhal)itants. Chimborazo was long supposed to be the 
most lofty mountain on the globe. It is 21,420 feet high; 
but Aconcagua in Chili rises to the height of 23,200 feet. 
Several of the summits of the Himalayan range in Asia are 
over 25,000 feet; and Kilima Njaro, the most lofty peak in 
Africa, is about the same altitude as Chimborazo. Chimborazo, 
for solitary grandeur — and from the excessive steepness of its 



sides, which has prevented the foot of man from reaching its 
summit — stands, however, unrivalled. 

From the lofty heights over which we have thus rapidly 
passed, numberless streams take their rise, rushing and foam- 
ing down their steep sides to feed those mighty rivers which, 
flowing across the continent, seek an outlet in the far distant 
Atlantic. On the western side, comparatively few and in- 


significant rivers cross the narrow plains into the Pacific. 
Thus the inhabitants of the tropical portions have to depend 
on artificial in-igation for the cultivation of the land. 

What mighty force must have been required to raise those 
mountains to their present elevation, — and how fearful must 
be the fires which still rage beneath their bases ! Gigantic, 
however, as they seem to human eyes, the most lofty could 
be represented on a globe six feet in diameter by a grain of 



sand, less than one-twentieth of an inch in thickness. How 
insignificant then must the proudest works of man appear — 
what a mere speck himself — to One wlio looks down from 
on high on this earth of ours ! 

On examining their sides in various parts, proof is afforded 
that these vast mountains have been heaved upwards from 
beneath the ocean. Shells are found 1300 feet above the sea, 


covered with marine mud. On a beach elevated 2500 feet 
above the Pacific, numerous species of patella and other shells 
can be picked up, identical with those obtained on the coast 
with the living animal inhabiting them. At Huanuco, in 
Peru, there is a coal-bed existing at the height of 14,700 
feet. Shells have also been found at the height of 13,000 
feet ; and on the side of Chimborazo there is a salt spring 
13,000 feet above the ocean. 


The surface of the great lake of Titicaca — the largest piece 
of fresh water in South America — is 12,795 feet above the 
Pacific ; an elevation greater than that of the highest peaks of 
the Pyrenees. In the neighbourhood of this lake, remains 
exist which speak of the advanced state of civilization of the 
inhabitants before the appearance of the Incas, with whose 
latter history alone we are acquainted. So completely 
is the lake surrounded by mountains, that, though fed by 
numerous streams, not the smallest rivulet escapes to find its 
way either into the Pacific or Atlantic. One large river, 
however, the Desaguadero, flows out of its south-west corner, 
and disappears in the swampy Lake Aullagas in the south of 
Bolivia. Its superabundant water must, therefore, be taken 
oft' by evaporation, excessive in that elevated region. High 
above it, amid chillino^ mists and bitino- storms of drivin^f 
snow, are found the silver-mines of Potosi and Pasco. 

However, before we wander further amid the giddy preci- 
pices and snow-capped summits of this mighty range of moun- 
tains, we will descend for a time to the lower world, and 
glance round its southern extremity and along its western 
shores, bathed by the waters of the wide-stretchiug Pacific. 



pERRA DEL FUEGO appears as if a mountain region 
had been partly submerged in the ocean, so that 
^^ deep inlets and bays occupy the place where val- 
leys would have existed had its base still been above the sea. 
The greater portion of the mountain-sides are covered, from 
the water's edge upwards to the elevation of 1500 feet, by 
one wide-extending forest of ever-green beeches. Scarcely a 
level spot is to be found throughout the whole country ; and 
so dense is the wood, and encumbered by the trunks of fallen 
trees and waterfalls, that it is scarcely possible to penetmte 
it. Here and there on the western side, and in the Strait of 
Magellan, the forest disappeai's, and magnificent glaciers ex- 
tend down to the very water's edge. The mountains on the 
north side rise to the height of 4000 feet, with one peak above 
6000 feet high, covered with a mantle of perpetual snow; 
while numerous cascades pour their waters through the woods 
into the narrow channel below. It is scarcely possible to 
imagine anything more beautiful than the beryl-like blue of 
these glaciers, especially contrasted with- the dead white of 
the upper expanse of snow. 


The inhabitants of this reo-ion are amono^ the lowest in the 
scale of human beings, living in wretched hovels, composed 
often merely of boughs and leaves, their only clothing scanty 
pieces of skin, worn on one side, to defend themselves from 
the icy winds. 

These ever-green forests, consisting of only two or three 
species of trees, with several Alpine plants growing on the 


heights above them, continue round the coast for six hundred 
miles or more northward of Cape Horn, till, in the more 
northern and warmer latitudes, they give place to semi-tropical 
vegetation. Now stately trees of various kinds appear, with 
smooth and highly-coloured bark, loaded with parasitical 
plants ; while large and elegant ferns, and numerous and ar- 
borescent grasses, entwine the trees into one entangled mass. 


Palm-trees appear in latitude 87°; and an arborescent grass, 
very like the bamboo, three degrees further north. 

In many places the ocean washes the base of the Andes, or 
huge spurs project from the mountains; and in others a narrow 
belt alone is left between them and the water. The whole of 
Chili, indeed, consists of a narrow strip of land between the 
Cordilleras and the Pacific ; while this strip is often traversed 
by several mountain lines, which in some parts run parallel 
to the great range. Extending to the south, between these 
outer lines and the main Cordilleras, we find a succession 
of level basins, generally blending into each other by narrow 

In the neighbourhood of Valparaiso, above which Acon- 
cagua (23,000 feet in height) looks down on the Pampas on 
one side and the blue Pacific on the other, is the beautiful 
valley of Guillota, thoroughly irrigated and brought under 
cultivation. It has, during the whole summer, the hot sun 
striking down from a cloudless sky. It is only in these parts 
where the nature of the streams affords means of irrigation 
that vegetation can exist. 

Further north, the western shore is in many parts very 
arid ; and about latitude 20° south the burning desert com- 
mences, extending 540 leagues — almost to the Gulf of Guay- 
aquil — and varying in width from three to twenty leagues. 
Over this region of death, heaps of stone or mounds of sand 
are alone seen, except where, at wide intervals, some moun- 
tain stream, fed by the melting snows of the lofty peaks, 
finds its way into the ocean. It is only in the neighbour- 
hood of these rivers that man can venture to take up his 
abode. On the banks of most of them have been built the 
few cities which exist near the sea in Peru. For some miles 


the traveller finds not a drop of water, no trace of vegetation. 
His weary horse sinks, overcome with the pangs of thirst 
and the fatigue of dragging its limbs through the soft sand. 
Through this region the mule can alone be trusted, as, like 

^iT/Z/VAi. ■i." ■!—"-—■=-•■ 


the camel of the Eastern desert, it will longer endure fatigue 
and want of water. Here, as in the deserts of Africa, violent 
winds stir up the sand, forming vast columns, as terrible in 


their effects as the flames of the prairie. Rising to a hundred 
feet in height, they are seen approaching, whirling through the 
air, till the unhappy traveller finds himself surrounded by an 
overwhelming mass, and, unable to breathe, sinks exhausted 
on the ground. Flight alone can save him. Many have here 
perished. On several occasions, troops attempting to cross 
the desert have been overwhelmed. Others have lost their 
way when traversing the sandy plains, and have wandered 
about, in vain seeking for water to quench their burning 
thirst. On one side is the salt ocean, on the other the rocky 
precipices of the mountains. Wandering on for hours and 
hours, at length, exhausted, they have abandoned themselves 
to despair. These sand-storms occur more especially during the 
heats of summer, so completely altering the appearance of the 
country, by covering it with large hillocks, that the most ex- 
perienced guides find it at times impossible to discover their 
way ; and perhaps, when searching for it, another storm arises, 
and once more spreads the mounds over the level plain. 

In some places the whole soil is covered with a thick 
crust of salt, white and hard, giving the country the appear- 
ance of being covered with snow. For months and months 
together, in many parts not a drop of rain falls. At length 
a shower descends, and, as if by magic, the grass springs up 
in spots where not a blade was before visible ; and- for a 
short time the whole country puts on a green mantle, soon, 
however, to be withered up by the burning heat. 

Northward of this desert region, the land on the shores of 
the Gulf of Guayaquil and its neighbourhood is covered with 
the richest vegetation, supported by the numerous streams 
which descend from the Andes of Quito and Columbia. 




lEAVING the burning sand-coast, we wiU ascend once 
more the steep sides of the Cordilleras to those 
fertile tracts found at an elevation of many thou- 
sand feet above the ocean ; but, before describing the brute 
creation and the vegetable products of this interesting region, 
we should properly take a glance at the human beings in- 
habiting it. 

When, in 1524, the Spaniards first reached the western 
coast of South America, of which they were soon to become 
the conquerors, they found a people greatly advanced in 
civilization. They consisted of two distinct races ; the one, 
known as the Incas, showing a decided superiority in intel- 
lectual power over the other. Whence they came is unknown ; 
but a tradition existed, that two persons — husband and wife 
• — had appeared some four hundred years before that period in 
the neighbourhood of Lake Titicaca, announcing themselves as 
the Children of the Sun. The husband, Manco Capac, taught 
the men the arts of agiiculture ; and his wife, Mama Oello 
(mama, meaning mother), initiating her own sex in the mys- 
teries of weaving and spinning. The wise policy which 


regulated the conduct of the first Incas (kings, or lords), was 
followed by their successors, and under their mild sceptre a 
community gradually extended itself along the surface of the 
broad table-land, which asserted its superiority over the sur- 
rounding tribes. 

Fine cities sprang up in different parts of their kingdom, 
connected by well-formed roads, suited to the nature of the 
country. Their capital was Cuzco, at some distance to the 
north of the lake, in latitude 1 4° south ; while the city next 
in importance to it was Quito, in a rich valley, beneath the 
equator. These cities were connected by two roads ; one 
passing over the grand plateau, and the other along low- 
lands at the borders of the ocean. The first was conducted 
over mountain -ridges, frequently buried in snow ; galleries 
were cut through the living rock ; rivers crossed by suspen- 
sion-bridges ; precipices scaled by stairways; and deep ravines 
were filled up with solid masonry. 

This road was upwards of fifteen hundred miles long ; and 
stone pillars, to serve the purpose of mile-stones, were erected 
at intervals of about a league along the route. Its breadth 
was about twenty feet. In some places it was covered with 
heavy flagstones ; and in others, with a bituminous cement, 
which time has rendered harder than the stone itself Where 
the ravines had been filled with solid masonry, the moun- 
tain torrents have eaten a way beneath it, leaving the super- 
incumbent mass still spanning the valley like an arch. The 
suspension-bridges — instead of which wretchedly inferior ones 
of wood are now used — were composed of the tough fibres of 
the maguey ; a species of osier, possessing an extraordinary 
degree of tenacity and strength. The fibres were woven into 
cables of the thickness of a man's body, which were then 


stretched across the water, and conducted through rings or 
holes cut in immense buttresses of stone raised on the 
opposite banks of the river, and there secured to heavy pieces 
of timber. Several of these enormous cables bound together, 
side by side, formed a bridge — which, covered with planks 
well secured, and defended on each side by a railing of the 
same material, afforded a safe passage for the traveller. The 
length of this aerial bridge, sometimes exceeding 200 feet, 
caused it — confined as it was only at the extremities — to 
dip, with an alarming inclination towards the centre ; while 
the motion given it by the passenger created an oscillation 
frightful to one whose eye glanced down into the dark 
abyss of waters, that foamed and tumbled many a fathom 

Over these roads a system of communication throughout 
the country was kept up by running postmen, called chasquis. 
Along the roads small buildings were erected, within five 
miles of each other, at which a number of chasquis were 
stationed. They were trained to the employment, and 
selected for their speed and fidelity. As the distance each 
had to perform was small, he ran over the ground with great 
swiftness, and messages were carried along all the routes at 
the rate of a hundred and fifty miles a day. The chasquis 
not only carried despatches, but brought fish from the distant 
ocean, and fruits, game, and other commodities, from the warm 
regions on the coast. 

It is not our province to describe the gorgeous temples, 
palaces, and convents, in which the Virgins of the Sun resided, 
and the numerous other public buildings, extensive remains 
of which still exist scattered throughout the region. The 
glory of the Incas has departed. But few of their descend- 











ants remain, and their blood has generally mingled with that 
of their conquerors. 


The tribes over whom they ruled are still to be found, 
though in diminished numbers, and debased by the cruel 
system of oppression under which they long groaned. The 
native inhabitants of the central region of the Andes are 
known as the Quichuas, and their chief characteristics are 
common to the greater number of the tribes along the whole 
extent of the range. Though the languages of the different 
tribes vary, they are probably derived from the same som'ce. 
The head of the Quichua is an oblong longitudinal, somewhat 
compressed at the sides. He has a low and very slightly arched 
forehead ; a prominent, long, aquiline nose, with large nostrils. 
The mouth is large, and the teeth very fine, while the lips 
are not thick; the chin is short, but not receding; cheek-bones 
not prominent, eyes horizontal and never large, eyebrows long, 
the hair jet-black — and, though thick, straight and coarse, yet 
soft. He has little or no beard. In stature they seldom reach 
five feet. The chest is long, broad, deep, and highly arched. 
The hands and feet are small. The colour is between olive, 
brown, and bronze, — somewhat like that of the mulatto. 
Though their chests are broad, and their shoulders square, 
their arms are weak — their chief strength existing; in their 
backs and legs. Mild, generous, and submissive, they have 
existed when a fiercer race would have been exterminated ; 
but, on several occasions, they have shown that they can be 
goaded into revolt. About the year 1770, under Tupac 
Amaru, they broke into rebellion, when, had they possessed 
better arms and more discipline, they might, with the courage 


tliey exhibited, have driven the Spaniards from the country. 
The rebellion was put down with the atrocious cruelties to 
which the Spaniards have invariably subjected this unhappy 

On the eastern slopes of the Andes are found savage tribes, 
wearing few or no clothes, painting their skins, and orna- 
menting themselves with the coloured feathers of birds. 
Towards the southern end of Chili, the fierce Araucanians 
inhabit the mountains. Beyond them are the large-limbed 
Patagonians, clothed in skins ; and at the extreme end, the 
wretched Fuegans, living in nearly a state of nature, on seals 
and fish. 

The race supposed to have been the most civilized before 
the time of the Incas were the Aymaras, whose descendants 
still inhabit the shores of Lake Titicaca. Their lano-uao-e 
differs from the Quichua, though evidently a sister-tongue. 

This expanse of water, already mentioned, is about eighty 
miles long and forty broad. Numerous rivers flow into it ; 
in some places it is very deep, but in others so shallow that 
there is only just room to force the balsas through the rushes. 
It abounds in fish of peculiar form, and in aquatic birds. 
Several islands rise above its surface. That of Titicaca, from 
which it takes its name, is most celebrated. 

During one of the several occasions when the Indians rose 
against their taskmasters to free themselves from the mita — 
a system which compelled one-seventh pai-t of the male popu- 
lation to labour in the mines — the lake, for a long time, 
afforded them a place of refuge. In some places along the 
shores, beds of rushes exist nine leao'ues longf and one broad. 
In the midst of them there is an island, to which lanes were 
cut through the tangled mass. I'his watery la.byrinth was 

THE PUXA. 351 

navigated by the Indians in their balsas ; and, secure in their 
retreat, they contrived to make inroads on the Spanish towns 
in the neighbourhood for a length of time. (These balsas are 
composed of reeds, tightly fastened together on the sides, in 
the form of boats, and are propelled both by sails and 
paddles.) Several of the Indian chiefs were at length cap- 
tured and executed. This, however, only exasperated the 
rebels, who, under an enterprising leader, attacked the bridge 
over the Desaguadero, and carried off the heads of their chiefs, 
which had been stuck on poles above it. The Spanish troops 
sent against them waded to some islets, but the Indians, 
hovering round them in their balsas, prevented them from 
advancing further. At length the Spaniards embarked in 
twenty balsas, and came in sight of the native squadron. 
The Indians, however, going in and out among the lanes and 
rushes, baffled their oppressors, cutting off several Spanish 
balsas. A party of cavalry also, advancing into the swampy 
ground, was suddenly surrounded and cut to pieces, with a 
loss to the Indians of only three men. 

These outbreaks, and the far more important rebellion 
under Tupac Amaru, show that Spanish tyranny had not 
entirely succeeded in crushing the spirit of the Indians. Dur- 
ing the civil wars which for so long devastated the Spanish 
provinces of South America, the Indians fought with a courage 
fully equal to that of the whites. 


An elevated region called by the Quichuas the Puna, or 
" the uninhabited," must be described. A scanty vegetation 
covers these vast plains. Man can with difficulty breathe on 
them, or produce the means of existence. Barley, though cul- 

352 THE PUNA. 

tivated, seldom ripens ; the chief plant which grows to maturity 
being the maca, which has tuberous roots, and is used like 
the potato. In consequence of the diminished pressure of the 
air, water begins to boil at so low a temj^erature that neither 
meat, potatoes, nor eggs, can be sufficiently cooked. From the 
same cause, those unaccustomed to the rarefied air are afflicted 
with an attack called the veta — consisting of headache, nausea, 
and producing even spitting of blood, and other disorders of 
the mucous membrane. Horses suffer in the same way; and 
cats are so affected that they die in violent convulsions. 
There is another complaint, called the cliiinu, affecting the 
skin of the hands and face, as well as the eyelids ; when, the skin 
breaking, blood flows from every opening. The suru/nipe, by 
which travellers are affected — the inflammation of the eyes 
caused by the reflection from the snow — is still more painful. 
Often the agony which even an Indian suffers from it is so 
great, that he has been known to sit down and utter cries of 
anguish ; while, occasionally, total blindness has been the ulti- 
mate consequence. 

But it is time that we should turn to the brute creation 
existing in these regions, noticing the interesting specimens 
of the vegetable kingdom as we proceed in our survey. As 
the camel is the characteristic animal of the sandy deserts of 
Arabia and Africa, the royal tiger of the jungles of Bengal, 
and the kangaroo of the wide-extending plains of Australia, 
so the llama brings to our recollection the lofty plateaus of 
the Andes, and the mighty condor its still higher peaks. 




T is on the above-mentioned bleak table-land that the 
llama, with its kindred — the alpaca, vicuna, and 
huanucu — are found. The historian of the conquest 
calls them the sheep of Peru, l^ut the llama is more allied in 
its characteristics to the camel of the desert. In outward 
form, except that it has no hump on its back ; in the structure 
and cellular apparatus of the stomach, which enable it to ab- 
stain for a long time from water ; in the expression of its large 
full eye ; in the mobility and division of the upper lip ; in its 
fissured nostrils ; in the nature of its teeth ; and in its long 
woolly clothing and slender neck, — the llama has a strong re- 
semblance to the camel of the deserts of Arabia. While the 
camel's feet, however, are formed for passing over the burning 
sands or level ground, and are therefore broad and cushioned, 
those of the llama, to enable it to climb the ruo^ored craos of 
the Cordilleras, are slender, elastic, and claw-tipped. The 
llama has indeed been rightly called the camel of the moun- 




tains, and was employed by the ancient Pei'uvians — as it is at 
present — as a beast of burden. The load laid upon its back 
rests securely upon a bed of wool, without the aid of girth or 
saddle. It cannot carry more than from eighty to one hundred 
pounds. If overladen it will lie down, and nothing will in- 
duce it to rise till it has been relieved of its burden. 


The llamas move in troops of five hundred or even one 
thousand, and thus, though each individual carries but a little, 
the ao;p;rea:ate is considerable. The whole caravan travels at a 
regular pace — passing the night in the open air without suffer- 
ing from the cold — marching in perfect order, and in obedience 
to the conductor. Thus they proceed over rugged passes from 
twelve to fifteen miles a day. They were especially employed 


in bearing the produce of the mines of Potosi to the coast, often 
in places where the hoof of the mule could find no support. 
It was estimated, after the conquest, that 300,000 were thus 
employed. As they never feed after sunset, it is necessary, 
when journeying, to allow them to graze for several hours dur- 
ing the day. They utter a peculiar low sound, which at a dis- 
tance resembles, when the herd is large, the tone of numer- 
ous iEolian harps. On seeing any strange object which 
excites their fears, they immediately scatter in every direc- 
tion, and are with difficulty reunited. The Indians treat them 
kindly, ornamenting their ears with ribbons, and hanging little 
bells about their necks. When any of them, over-fatigued, 
fall to the ground, their conductors endeavour by every gentle 
means to induce them to proceed. In spite, however, of the 
kind treatment they receive, numbers, from the heat of the 
coast region, which they cannot stand, annually perish. 

When offended, the llama shows its anger by turning its 
head at its driver, and discharofinof a saliva with a bad odour 
in his face. It is about the size of the stao\ It carries 
its long neck upright, constantly moving its "long ears. The 
animals vary in colour. Some are of a light brown, the under 
part being whitish; others dappled; but they are seldom found 
cjuite white or black. In consequence of the introduction of 
the mule and horse into the country, which have superseded 
them in many places as beasts of burden, their price seldom 
exceeds three or four dollars. The flesh of the llama is eaten; 
and as many as 4,000,000 were, in days gone by, annually 
killed for food. 


The alpaca is smaller than the llama, and somewhat re- 
sembles the sheep. It has a long, soft, fine fleece of a silky 


lustre. In the domestic breeds the wool falls in laro^e flakes 
reaching down to the knees. This wool was employed by the 
ancient Peruvians for weaving a kind of cloth. It approxi- 
mates in character to silk, and a large quantity is now ex- 
ported to Europe for the manufacture of shawls and other 
delicate fabrics. Immense herds of the llama or alpaca were 
held by the Peruvian government, and placed under the pro- 
tection of herdsmen, who conducted them from one quarter of 
the country to another, according to the season. They were 
exclusively the property of the Incas ; as were the vicunas, 
which roam in native freedom over the frozen ran^xes of the 


The huanucu is considerably larger than the llama, which it 
so much resembles, that it was formerly considered to be the 
same animal in a wild state. The body is brown, with the 
under parts white ; the face is of a blackish-gray, approach- 
ing to white about the lips. The fleece is shorter and not so 
fine as that of the llama. The huanucus are very shy, and 
only when caught young can they be tamed^ — and even then 
they can rarely be induced to carry burdens. They generally 
live in small troops of from five to seven. Not unfrequently 
they may be seen scaling the snow-covered peaks to a height 
which no other living thing save the condor can reach. They 
find sustenance in the ychu, a species of grass which grows all 
along the great ridge of the Cordilleras, from the equator to 
the southern limits of Patao-onia. 



The vicunas are very beautiful and gi-aceful creatures, with 
the habits of antelopes. They have long, slender necks, and 

THE VICUNA. • 357 

rich fawn-coloured coats, with patches of wliite across the 
shoulders and inside the legs. The wool is shorter and more 
curly than that of the three other species, and, from its ex- 
treme fineness, is of much greater value. 

During the dry season, when the gTass of the plains has 
withered, they descend to the swampy ground below. One 
male is followed by a dozen or more females, over whom he 
watches with the most faithful care. Should he apprehend 
danger, he utters a loud, shrill cry of alarm, and rapidly 
advances. The herd then collecting, moves forward slowly ; 
but immediately they discover the approach of an enemy they 
wheel round and fly — at first at a slow pace, frequently look- 
ing round, and then away they dart, fleet as the wind, the 
male covering their retreat. Should their protector be woiuided, 
the females return and keep circling round him, uttering pierc- 
ing notes of sorrow, and remain to be shot rather than desert 
their companion. 

Although it is only when enraged that the llamas and 
huanucus spit upon those near them, the vicunas and alpacas 
invai'iably eject saliva and undigested food — which has a 
peculiarly disagreeable smell — upon all who approach them. 

Vicunas in vast numbers are found rano-ins^ over the more 
remote and lofty regions of the Puna, where they are able to 
find a safe retreat from the attacks of man. They have, how- 
ever, a very formidable enemy in the ravenous condor, who 
frequently robs them of their young. 

These two wild species the Peruvian peasants were never 
allowed to hunt, they being as much the property of tlie 
government as if enclosed within a i)ark. Only on stated 
occasions, once a year, great hunts took place under the 
su})erinten(lence of the Inca, oi- his principal officers. The}' 

23 B 


were never repeated in the same quarter oftener than once in 
four years, that time might be allowed for the waste occasioned 
by them to be replenished. At the time appointed the whole 
surrounding population — sometimes, it is said, amounting to 
nearly ten thousand men — formed a circle round the area which 
was to be hunted over. Armed with spears, they gradually 
closed in, destroying the beasts of prey, and driving the 
huanucus, vicunas, and deer towards the centre, where the 
male deer and the huanucus were slaughtered. Their skins 
were reserved for various useful manufactures; and their flesh, 
cut into thin slices, was distributed among the people, who con- 
verted it into chasqui, or dried meat (constituting then, as it does 
now, the principal animal food of the lower classes of Peru). 

The vicunas are hunted at the present day. A mem- 
ber from each family of the Puna villages joins the hunting- 
party, forming altogether a band of about one hundred persons. 
They carry poles with cordage. The poles are placed in the 
ground, and united by ropes at about the height of two feet, 
forming a circle of half a league in circumference, enclosing a 
space called the chasqa. Coloured pieces of rag are attached 
to the ropes, which are moved about by the wind. Some of the 
hunters are on horseback, others on foot. Each man is armed 
with the well-known bolas ; which consists of three balls of 
lead, two of which are heavy and one lighter, attached to a 
long leathern thong knotted together at one extremity. The 
hunter takes the lighter ball in his hand, and swings the other 
two in a wide cncle over his head. When at a distance of 
fifteen or twenty paces from the animal, the lighter is let 
loose, when the three fly in circles towards it, encompassing 
it in their snake-like folds. Thus jorepared, the hunters dis- 
perse, forming a circle several miles in circumference, driving 


all the vicunas before them towards the entrance of the circle. 
As soon as the animals have entered, it is closed. The vicunas, 
afraid to spring over the ropes with the coloured rags flutter- 
ing in their faces, are attacked by the hunters Avith their 
bolas, the hind-legs being generally aimed at. The huanucus, 
which are much wilder, invariably leap the barriers and escape, 
when frequently the vicunas follow their example. As soon 
as the animals within the chasqu are killed, it is carried off 
and again erected at a distance of twelve or more miles, when 
the same operation is gone through. Thus from one hundred 
to three hundred animals are killed during the chase, which 
generally lasts for a week. 

Notwithstanding the opposition from the Peruvian govern- 
ment, a large herd of alpacas were, some years ago, successfully 
carried to the coast and shipped off to Australia, where, in a 
high and dry district, they appear to be flourishing. 


The traveller standing on the rocky heights of the Cordil- 
leras, at an elevation which Etna does not surpass, though 
still with many a snow-capped mountain romid him, may see, 
on one of the dizzy pinnacles amid which he stands, a vast 
bird. It is the condor, the largest of the vulture tribe ; the 
monarch of the birds of that region. He may know it by 
the glossy black colour, tinged with gray, of its body ; the 
greater wing- coverts, except at the base and tips, and the 
quill-feathers being mostly white. Round the neck is a white 
luff of down ; the skin of the head and neck is excessively 
wrinkled, and is of a dull reddish colour with a tinge of purple. 
Surmounting the forehead is a large, firm comb, with a loose 
skin under the bill which can be dilated at pleasure. Now 


it expands its wings, nine feet from tij:* to tip. Off it flies 
from its rocky perch, now appearing to sink with its own 
weight ; but, gradually rising, it soars aloft, even above the 
glittering dome of Chimborazo, no vibration seen in its 
powerful wings. Higher and higher it soars, till it appears a 
mere speck in the blue ether ; then, lost to the sight of 
human eye, darts rapidly downwards towards the sultry coast 
of the Pacific, there to prey upon the putrefying carcasses of 
animals it may espy from afar. 

On that lofty pinnacle, or some jutting ledge near it, the 
female has laid its two eggs, and here it rears its young. 
The eggs are large and white, and laid upon the bare rock. 
The young are covered with a whitish down, and, it is said, 
are unable to fly for an entire year. Few other birds can fly 
to so great a distance above the earth. It appears to respire 
as easily in the most rarefied air as on the sea-shore. They 
do not live in pairs, like the eagle, but several are generally 
found together. When an animal falls dead, a number of the 
vast birds are soon seen coming from afar to feast on the car- 

Great as is the altitude to which the condor can fly, and 
although it ranges through clouds and storms to the southern 
end of the Andes, it is not found to the north of Panama. 

The condor is a true vulture, gorging itself on dead and putrid 
carcasses. It will also attack the young Uama, as well as 
lambs and calves, which it carries away in its powerful talons. 
This makes it dreaded and hated by the shepherds of the hills 
and plains alike, who seek its destruction by a variety of 
means. Fire-arms are, however, useless, as its thick and 
strongly-constructed coat of feathers will turn aside a bullet. 
Besides, it is so tenacious of life, that one has been known 



to receive several bullets in its body, and to have lived a 
considerable time afterwards. The shepherds train their dogs 
to give notice of the approach of a condor ; and the moment 
one appears in the sky, they look upwards, and bark violently 
till their masters appear. Among other modes which the 
natives employ to capture it, they kill an old mare — which 
they have an idea is better than a horse — and allow the bird 
to gorge itself. It then becomes so sluggish, that they can 
without difficulty throw their bolas round its neck and legs. 
It also sleeps so soundly, that they frequently manage to ap- 
proach it when at roost, and capture it in the same way. 

In the province of Abacay, in Peru, another method is em- 
ployed. A native fastens a quantity of putrid flesh to a fresh 
cow-skin, under which he lies hid with a supply of rope. 
When the condor pounces down upon the meat, and remains 
gorging himself, the native fastens its legs by means of the 
rope to the skin. As soon as this is done, he creeps from 
beneath it. The friglitened bird in vain attempts to escape. 
Immediately the hunter's companions, rushing forward, throw 
their bolas over the bird, and make it captive. Frequently 
several are thus caught at the same time. 

The cruel and disgusting custom of bull-baiting is still kept 
up in the country, and the condors are employed to add to the 
terror and sufi^erings of the unhappy bull. Before the unfor- 
tunate animal is driven into the circus, his back is laid bare 
with a lance, and one of the birds, which has been starved 
for a week or more, is bound upon it. The famished condor 
immediately attacks the raw, quivering flesh of the poor 
beast ; and while it is thus engaged, the bull is driven into 
the midst of the arena, to aflbrd amusement to the savage 


There is among the mountains a natural funnel-shaped ex- 
cavation, sixty feet in depth, and about eighty feet in diameter 
at the top. The Indians place, on the edge of the pit, the 
putrid body of a mule, so balanced that it will easily fall 
over. In a short time it is discovered by numbers of condors, 
which, darting down, greedily attack it. Tugging and pulling 
at the flesh, they soon draw it over the edge, when it falls to 
the bottom of the j)it. Not to be disappointed of their prey, 
they hold tightly to the body, and descend with it. Here, 
having gorged themselves, they are unable to rise again to 
the mouth of the pit, and are speedily killed with stones and 
sticks by the natives who collect round it, or are drawn cap- 
tive to the surface. Dr. Tschudi, in his Travels, mentions 
having seen twenty-eight birds at one time thus destroyed. 

They are caught in a similar manner in other places, and 
brought down to the coast, where they are sold for a few 
dollars ; and often thus find their way to Europe. It was 
long an unsettled point whether the condor discovers the dead 
animals on which it feeds by the power of sight or of scent ; 
but Darwin, by several experiments, has settled the question 
in favour of the bird's keenness of vision. 

A number of condors were kept captive in a garden, secured 
by ropes. Wrapping up a piece of meat in white paper, and 
holding it in his hand, he walked up and down in front of 
the biiTls ; but they took no notice of it. He then threw it 
down in front of an old male bird ; but it was still disre- 
garded. He then pushed it with a stick till it touched the 
condor's beak, when the paper was torn off with fury, and 
every bird in the row began stiaiggling and flapping its wings 
to reach the food. Under the same circumstances, no doo- 
would have been deceived. 

THE CONDOR. . 365 

The condor is said formerly to have been worshipped in 
Peru. Perhaps the Peruvians, seeing it descend through the 
air from beyond their sight, supposed it a celestial messenger 
from the sun, which they worshipped. If so, their descendants 
ti'eat it in a very different way to what they must then have 
done. I 

A condor ordinarily measures nine feet from tip to tij) of | 
the wings, and slightly over four feet from beak to tail. 




N the western slopes of Chimborazo, and in several 
other regions extending from the wooded heights 
of Merida and Santa Martha, at the northern end 
of the Cordilleras, as far as the Republic of Bolivia, 19° sonth, 
the chinchona-tree has its rano-e. Yeo-etation in the Cordil- 
leras within the tropics reaches to a much greater height 
than in higher latitudes. The sun's rays have there great 
power in heating the soil ; while the mists drawn from the 
broad Pacific, rising above the plains, rest upon the lofty sides 
of the mountains. The warm and humid atmosphere thus 
created is especially favourable to the growth of certain 
trees and shrubs. Among others is the chinchona-tree, from 
which quinine is obtained. It is generally found growing at 
a heio-ht of from 6000 feet to 10,000 feet above the ocean. 

It would have been strange had not the native Peruvians 
been acquainted with the qualities of the bark. The Quichua 

* The chinchona fit is erroneously spelled cinchona) tree constitutes the type of a natural 
order (Chinchonaceae}, which also includes ipecacuanhas and coffees. 



name for the tree, quina-quina — "bark of barks" — shows that 
they believed it to possess medicinal properties; indeed, there 
is little doubt that they were aware of its febrifugal qualities, 
though they might not have attached much importance to 
them. Through them, probably, the Spanish colonists in the 
neio'hbourhood of Loxa first discovered its virtues. It was, 
however, but little known till the year 1638, when the wife 
of the Count of Chinchon, Viceroy of Peru, lay sick of an in- 
termittent fever in the palace of Lima. The corregidor of 
Loxa, who had himself been cured of an ague by the bark, 
hearing of her sickness, sent a parcel of powdered quinquina 
bark to her physician. It was administered to the Countess 
Anna, and effected a complete cure. She, in consequence, did 
her utmost to make it known. Her famous cure induced 
Linn!3eus long afterwards to name the whole genus of quinine- 
yielding trees Chinchona, in her honour. The Jesuit mission- 
aries, who had learned its virtues, also sent parcels of the 
bark to Rome, whence it was distributed to members of their 
fraternity throughout Europe by the Cardinal de Lugo. 
Hence it was sometimes called Jesuits' bark, and sometimes 
Cardinal's bark. For many years, however, great opposition 
was made by European physicians to its use. Some Protes- 
tants, indeed, went so far as to decline taking it, because it 
was favoured by the Jesuits. Although the bark was used 
for many years, it was not till Dr. Gomez, a surgeon in the 
Portuguese navy, in 1816 isolated the febrifugal princi})le, 
and called it chinchonine, that its true value became kno\\ni. 
But the final discovery of quinine, as it is now used, is due 
to the French chemists Pelletier and Caventon, in 1820. 
It is a white substance, without smell, bitter, fusible, and 

(379) 24 


Chinchonine is of less strength than quinine, and is used in 
mild cases of intermittent fever ; but in severe cases, the use 
of quinine is absolutel}^ necessary. Since the discovery of 
the medicinal properties of this bark, it has proved an in- 
estimable blessing to the human race. For many years the 
bark itself was used as a febrifuge ; but quinine, which is ex- 
tracted from it, is of still greater value in curing or prevent- 
ing ague. On various occasions it has rendered great service 
by preserving the health of troops. Many lives were saved 
by it in the disastrous Walcheren expedition. In India it is 
now universally used Avith the same beneficial effect ; and 
several African explorers have been enabled to prosecute their 
journeys through pestiferous regions by its frequent usa 
Dr. Livingstone, among others, speaks of it as the chief 
remedy he has employed when attacked by sickness on his 

Most of the Chinchonae, when growing in good soil, and under 
favourable circumstances, become large forest trees. When 
crowded, they frequently run up to a great height without a 
branch ; while at the upper limit of their zone, they become 
mere shrubs. 

There are numerous species of chinchona, producing bark of 
greatly different values. There are upwards of nineteen dif- 
ferent species of the true Chinchonae, and upwards of seventy 
once received as such, though now considered of no com- 
mercial value. The three characteristics by which the true 
chinchona may be known are — the presence of curly hairs 
bordering the lacinise of the corolla ; the peculiar mode of 
dehiscence of the capsule from below upwards ; and the 
little pits at the axils of the veins on the under sides of the 
leaves. The leaves are of a great variety of shapes and 


fciizes. In the finer species they are lanceolate, with a shin- 
ing surface of bright green, traversed by crimson veins and 
petioles of the same colour. The flowers are very small, and 
hang in clustering panicles like lilacs. They are generally of 
a deep roseate colour, paler near the stalk, and dark crimson 
within the tube, with white curly hairs bordering the laciniae 
of the corolla. The colour of one species is entirely white. 
They send forth a delicious fragrance, which scents the air in 
their neighbourhood. 

The region round the little town of Loxa, on the southern 
frontier of Ecuador, is the original home of the chinchona. 
In its sheltered ravines and dense forests were found those 
precious trees which first made known to the world the 
healing virtues of Peruvian bark. They grow at a height 
above the sea of from 6200 to 8200 feet. The trees are 
there from 30 to 48 feet high, with three or more stems 
growing from the same root. The leaves are like those 
already described. The bark is black when exposed to the 
sun and wind, but of a brownish colour when surrounded by 
other trees ; and is always covered with lichens. The bark 
from the Loxa region is known as crown bark; that from 
Chimborazo, as red bark ; while in the Huanaco region of 
Northern Peru gray bark is produced. 

When first the demand for the bark was established, bark- 
collectors, called cascarilleros, entered the forests in parties 
of a dozen or more, supplied with food and tools. At their 
head was a searcher (cafeador), who, climbing a high tree, 
looked out for the raanclias, or clumps of chinchona-trees, 
which experience taught him to know by their dark coloiu* 


and the peculiar reflection of the light from their leaves amidst 
those endless expanses of forest. Having marked the spot, 



he descended, and led his party, sometimes for houi^s together, 
through the tangled wilderness, using the wood-knife to mark 
his way to the chinchona clump. As soon as it was found, 
rude huts were built, and the parties commenced their \v-oi'k- 
Having with their axes laid the tree level with the ground, 
cutting it as close as possible to the roots, the work of strip- 
ping off the bark was commenced. The original mode of 


doing this is still continued. It is done by dividing the 
stems into pieces of uniform length. The bark is then cut 
lengthwise, so as to remove the rind without injuring the 
wood, or severing any of the fibres. In a few days the bark 
is taken off* in strips as broad as possible, and is afterwards 
pressed out into flat pieces. That, however, taken from the 
thinner branches is allowed to retain its form, and is known 

COCA. f?7S 

as quill bark — called by the natives canuto ; that from the 
solid trunk is called tahla or iilancha. It is sewn up in 
coarse canvas, with an outer covering of fresh hide, forming 
packages called serons. Thus prepared, it is transported to 
the coast for shipment. 

From the careless way in which the bark-collectors have 
hewn down the trees, often digging up the roots themselves, 
the production has gTeatly decreased. When the root is 
allowed to remain, and the stem hewn as near as possible to 
it, an after-growth is produced, which, in the milder regions, 
in the space of six years again produces bark. In the colder 
regions twenty years are required before a tree is fit to be 
cut down. 

With great care and trouble chinchona plants and seeds 
have been transported from South America to India by Pro- 
fessor Markham ; and in the mountainous regions of the East 
the tree is now cultivated and flourishing. It had some 
years before been carried by the Dutch to Java, where, how- 
ever, from want of sufficient care at first, its cultivation has 
not been so successful as it appears to be in India. 


The native Indian, as he climbs the dizzy precipice, or 
passes over the rocking bridge, in his journey across the 
rugged mountains, or leads his troop of llamas to the sea- 
shore, or labours in the dark mines, bringing up vast weights 
from the bowels of the earth, is enabled to bear the fatigue 
he is called on to undergo l)y putting a few dried leaves into 
his mouth, which he chews, and replenishes from time to time. 
Thus the coca leaf is a gi-eat source of comfort and enjoyment. 
As he journeys, his chuspa or coca-bag, made of Uama cloth. 

374 COCA. 

dyed red and blue in patterns, is hung over his shoulders. 
In his bag he also carries small cakes — composed of carbonate 
of potash mixed with lime and water — called clipta. Sitting 
down, he fii'st puts a few leaves into his mouth, which he 
chews, and turns over and over till he has formed a ball. 
He then adds a small piece of the cake ; and, sustained by the 
wonderful qualities of the morsel, will go on for many hours 
without food. He usually replenishes his mouth about three 
times in the day. 

The smell of the leaf is agreeable and aromatic, and gives 
out a grateful fragrance. When, however, used to excess, 
like other narcotics, coca — though the least injurious — is still 
prejudicial to health. 

The coca plant (Erythoxylon coca) gTows at an elevation of 
between 5000 and GOOO feet above the level of the ocean, in 
the warm valleys of the eastern slopes of the Andes, where 
rain frequently falls. It is from four to six feet high, with 
straio'ht and alternate branches. The leaves, which are of 
a light green, are alternate, and in form and size similar to 
tea leaves. The flowers, which are solitary, have a small 
yellowish white corolla. It requires careful cultivation. It 
is produced from seeds, and the plants are then transplanted 
into soil carefully weeded and broken up. It is found grow- 
ing- on terraces on the mountain-sides, which will allow of but 
a single row of plants. At the end of eighteen months the 
plants yield their first harvest, and continue to yield for up- 
wards of forty years. The green leaves, when picked, are 
carefully spread out in the sun to dry. The name of '' coca " 
is bestowed on them only when they are dried and prepared 
for use. 

Some writers, objecting altogether to stimulating narcotics, 

COCA. 375 

assert tliat the use of coca produces all the evil results of 
opium ; but this, from the evidence of many enlightened tra- 
vellers, seems not to be the case. Taken immoderately, no 
doubt it is injurious, — as is tea, coffee, tobacco, or wine ; but 
used as it generally is by the natives, it is to them a gi-eat 
blessing. The valleys, however, most suitable for its cultiva- 
tion are reputed to be unhealthy. 

So valuable was coca considered in the days of the Incas, 
that divine honours were paid to it, and it was especially the 
property of the sovereign. Even at the present day the 
miners of Peru throw a quid of coca against the hard veins of 
ore, under the belief that they are thereby more easily worked. 
The natives also sometimes put coca in the mouth of the 
dying man, believing that if he can taste the fragrant leaf it 
is a sure sign of his future happiness. 

Its moderate use is considered wholesome ; and European 
travellers who have chewed coca state that they could thus 
endure long abstinence from food without inconvenience, and 
that it enabled them to ascend precipitous mountain-sides 
with a feeling of lightness and elasticity, and without losing 




^E should scarcely have expected to find the smallest 
specimens of the feathered tribe inhabiting the 
same region as the mighty, coarse-feeding condor ; 
but whereas the latter pounces down on his carrion banquet 
into the plains below, the little humming-bird seeks his food 
fi'om the bright flowers which clothe the mountain-side, or 
the minute insects which fly amid them. 

Humminff-birds are found throuohout the whole of the 
New World, from the borders of the gTeat Canadian lakes, 
alono; the entire rano-e of the Cordilleras, down to the shores 
of Tierra del Fuego ; also in the West India Islands, and over 
the whole wide-extending plains watered by the Orinoco, the 
Amazon, and other great rivers which empty themselves into 
the Atlantic. The greater number of the species exist about 
the equator, and, as might be expected, diminish as we pro- 
ceed either to the south or north. 

They obtain their name on account of the humming sound 
which their wings produce when they are hovering over the 
flowers in which thev seek their food. The sound, however, 


varies in the species ; and the well-practised ear of the natu- 
ralist is often able to distinguish without difficulty one from 
the. other. Some are furnished with strong wings, with 
which they can extend their flight over a large extent of 
country ; and many are migratory. Others again have only 
small wings, and are compelled to remain always in the 
same locality. So rapid is their flight, that the eye can 
scarcely distinguish the little bird as it cleaves the air ; and 
when hovering over a flower, the wings appear like filmy 
gray fans on either side. 

The food of most species consists partly of insects and 
partly of the honey extracted from flowers. In order to 
obtain its food from the deep recesses of flowers, it possesses 
a long delicate beak ; in some birds straight, in others curved 
downwards, while some, again, have a double curve. These 
variations in form are undoubtedly to suit the particular 
flowers on which they feed. By means of the peculiar struc- 
ture of its tongue, which is long, filamentous, and doubled 
nearly to the base, it is enabled to project it to a gTcat dis- 
tance — even into the very depths of the largest flowers. 

There are upwards of three hundred species of these beau- 
tiful birds, and others are being constantly discovered — one 
vying with the other in beauty and richness of plumage — truly 
described as the " feathered gems of the mountain and forest." 
Some humming-birds tower, like the lark, to a great height in 
the air; while others keep always near the ground, among the 
shrubs in which they live. 

The nests of humming-birds vary in form and structure, 
but they are all of a most delicate nature. The external 
parts of some are formed of light gray lichen, and so perfectly 
arranged round it as to appear at a little distance as if only 



forming part of the branch to which it is attached. The 
interior consists of the silky fibres of the cotton-tree, extremely 
delicate and soft. The female lays a couple of eggs only, 
purely white, and about the size of peas. Ten days are 
required for their hatching, and the birds raise two broods in 


a season. When first hatched they are not larger than an 
ordinary-sized fly. Small as is the male humming-bird, he 
is a brave little fellow, and will courageously fly at the largest 
bird which approaches his nest ; while, by the rapidity of his 


flijTfht, he can avoid the attacks of even the swiftest of the 
larger race. 

There is a remarkable circumstance connected with hum- 
ming-birds, especially in lofty regions, where they are more 
particularly susceptible of electric influences. It is well 
known that in many regions small birds are found killed 
after a thunder-storm, in consequence of the amount of elec- 
tricity in the air. The humming-birds, as if conscious of this 
danger, build their nests of peculiar form, and of materials 
which are bad conductors of electricity, within which they 
are thoroughly protected. The nests of some are shaped like 
inverted cones, tapering to a fine point— that, as is supposed, 
the electricity which would destroy the delicate young ones, 
or the vitality of the eggs, may pass off into the air. 

Their notes are very feeble, rarely rising into a whistle. In 
one week after they are hatched, the young birds are ready 
to fly, but they are fed by their parents for nearly another 
week. Their plumage, however, does not attain its full bril- 
liancy till the succeeding spring. 

But we must confine oui'selves to the humming-birds of the 
Cordilleras, on the western coast. 


At the north of the range, between Santa Fe de Bogota 
and Quito, at an elevation often of 12,000 feet, is found the 
sword-bill humming-bird. Its name is derived fi^om the 
length of its beak, which is nearly as long as its body, and 
enables it to seek its food from the long pendent corollas of 
the Brugmansse. Nothing can exceed the elegance of its 
movements as it probes the pendent blossoms, searching to 
their inmost depths. Its nest, woven with wonderful skill 


and beauty of construction, is fastened to the end of a twig. 
The head and upper part of the body of the male bird are 
green, glossed with gold in sorrfe parts, and with bronze in 
others. The wings are dark black-brown, with a purple gloss ; 
while the tail is dark black, the upper surface being bronzed. 
A conspicuous white, slightly elongated spot exists behind 
each eye, and on each side of the chest there is a broad 
crescent-shaped mark of light gi^een. The under parts are of 
a bronzed green, and the under tail-coverts are flaked with a 
little white. 


In the neighbourhood of Santa Fe, another very beauti- 
ful and curious little bird, the copper-bellied puff-leg, is found, 
at an elevation of about 9000 feet. (Unlike the greater 
number of birds, the female humming-birds are generally 
as richly ornamented as the male.) It is named from the 
curious white pufls or ruffs — looking as if formed of swan's- 
do^Ti — on the legs. The head of the male, the sides of the 
neck, and back, are gTeen, with a bronzed tint, except on the 
tail-coverts, where the green is pure, and of metallic brilliancy. 
The tail is black, with a pm^ple gloss ; the throat is of a shin- 
ing, metallic green ; wdiile the breast and under portion of the 
body is green, glossed wdth gold. 

This bird, probably on account of the vegetation of the 
locality, from which it obtains its food, is restricted to a nar- 
row mountain-ridge, not three-quarters of a mile in width. 


The rapid flying white-booted racket-tail is likewise com- 
mon near Santa Fe. It possesses muff's, like the former, and 
is found at an elevation of nearly 10,000 feet. It is named 



from the long, racket-shaped feathers of the tail, which, when 

flying, are in constant motion, waving 

softly in the air, opening and closing 

in the most beautiful manner. In its 

flight it may vie with the arrow as it 

darts from a bow ; and when the bird 

rapidly cleaves the air, the tail-feathers 

lie straight behind it. 

The chief colour of this bird is a 
bronzed green, the upper tail-coverts 
being of a richer and redder hue. The 
wings are of a purple-brown, as is the 
tail ; but the rackets are black, shot 
with green. The feet are yellow, with 
two beautiful white ruffs surroundino; 
the legs. 


In the same district, invariably 
keeping at the bottom of the valleys, 
is found the Columbian thorn-bill. It 
does not even mount, as do many 
humming-birds, to the tops of the 
trees, but seeks its food among the 
low, flowering shrubs. It is of a 
golden green colour on the upper 
parts, and of a dull green below ; ex- 
cept on its curious tuft, which hangs 
from the chin, and is of a light green 
at the base, and a purple -red to- 
wards the points. The wings are of a purple -brown ime, 










as is the tail, with a bronzed gloss, while the 
under tail -coverts are brown -yellow. It is 
curious that the hen, though in other respects 
like the male, has no beard. 


At the height of 13,000 feet above the 
ocean is found a curious bird, which, from the 
pointed plume crowning the top of its head, 
and the long beard-like projection from its chin, 
is very appropriately called the helmet-crest or 
black warrior. It inhabits regions immediately 
below the line of perpetual snow, w^here we 
should least expect to find so delicate a creature. 
Its food it gathers from the thinly scattered 
shrubs projecting from the ledges of rock near 
the snow. Its flight is swift, but very short. 
When launching itself from the lofty height on 
which it is perched, it flies obliquely downwards, 
uttering at the same time a plaintive, whistling 


sound. It is more sedate in its habits than its brethren, 
nor does it seem to partake of their joyous spirit. The 
head and neck of the male are black, with a line running^ 
along the centre. The long beard is white, and round the 
neck and back of the head is a broad band of white. The 
upper surface of the body and the two central feathers of the 
tail are bronzed green, the others being of a warm reddish 
bronze. Its length is a little over five inches. 

The female is chiefly brown, and possesses no beard or 
helmet-like plume ; it is also considerably smaller. 


In the humming-birds, we see the same perfect adaptation 
of their construction to their peculiar wants which is found 
throughout the whole animal creation. This is beautifully 
exhibited in the sickle-bill, which is occasionally found in 
Bogota. Its bill is very short and sharply curved, in order 
that it may enter the short, curved flowers of that region. It 
is generally of a duller hue than most of its tribe. Its head 
and small crest are blackish-brown, each feather having a spot 
of bufi' on its tip. The upper part of the body is of a dark, 
glossy green, slightly touched with buff. The under part is a 
brownish-black, with a few buff streaks upon the throat and 
breast. It is about four and a half inches long. 

mars' sun-angel. 

Mr. Gould describes the Mars' sun-anijel as amono^ the most 
beautiful of the genus Heliangelus inhabiting the northern 
end of the Cordilleras. 

"■ It has all the charms of novelty to recommend it, and it 
stands alone among its congeners ; no other member of the 


genus, similarly coloured, having 
'"^ been discovered up to the present 
time. The throat vies with the 
radiant topaz, while the band on the 
forehead rivals in brilliancy the 
frontlet of every other species. The 
male bird has a fiery red mark on 
its forehead, and the crown of the 
head and upper surface of the body are 
bronzed gTeen. The throat is ornamented 
with a gorget of deep fiery red, and below 
it is a crescent-shaped band of light buff, 
while the under part is of a deeper buff, 
changing to gTeen at the sides. The tail 
is of a bronzed brown, with the two centre 
feathers of bronzed gi-een. The female is 
destitute of the red mark on the throat and 



Another sun-angel, the Heliangelus Clarissjie, has a deep 
ruby crimson gorget. 


In New Granada is also found the curious little snow-cap 
humming-bird, one of the most rare of the Trochilidae. It is 
of a brown colour, with a coppery hue, in which, in certain 
lights, a purple reflection can be perceived. The crown of 
the head and the tip of the tail-feathers are of a dazzling 

Mr. Gould describes one he saw perched on a twig, plum- 
ing its feathers. At first he was doubtful Avhether so small 
an object could be a bird. It was standing over a pool of 
Avater. '' At first the little creature would poise itself about 
three feet or so above the water, and then, as quick as thought, 
dive downwards, so as to dip its miniature head in the placid 
pool. Then up again it would fly to its original position, as 
quickly as it had descended. These movements of darting 
up and down it repeated in rapid succession, producing a 
wonderful disturbance of the surface of the water for so 
diminutive a creature. After a considerable number of dips 
it alighted on a twig near at hand, and commenced pluming 
its feathers." 


The spangled coquette, like all of its genus, possesses a 
well-defined crest on the head, and a number of feathers pro- 
jecting from the neck. This singular crest it can raise or 
depress at will, producing a curious eflect in the appearance 
of the little bird. AVhen depressed, the crest lies flat, and 

(379) 25 



projects on either side, so that the sparkling eyes can scarcely 
be seen. The crest and feathers projecting from the neck are 


of a light, ruddy chestnut, the latter having dark bronzed 
green spots on the tip. The Jiead is of the same colour ; the 


throat and face of a lustrous green. Below tlie gorget pro- 
jects a small crossing from side to side, and the rest of the 
plumage is of a dark, ruddy chestnut colour. The female 
has neither crest nor gorget. 


Professor Orton tells us that the valley of Quito swarms 
with those winged jewels — of varied hue — the Trochilidse. 

Among them is the train-bearer, which, small as it is, has a 
straight tail nearly six inches in length. 


The neighbouring heights of Chimborazo and Pichincha are 
adorned with two beautiful little creatures, well called '' Hill 
Stai-s ;" and it is curious that the hill star of Chimborazo 
never visits Pichincha, nor does the latter ever approach 
Chimborazo. They are very like each other ; but while that 
of Chimborazo has a triangular green spot upon the throat, it 
is wanting in the Pichincha hill star. The colour of the upper 
|)art of the Chimborazian hill star is of a somewhat dark 
olive-green, except the wings, which are of a purple-brow^n 
tint. The under parts are wdiite ; but they deepen into a 
dusky black upon the under tail-coverts. The head and 
throat are of the most glorious blue, with the exception of tlie 
before-mentioned emerald green patch on the centre of the 
throat, which is of a triangular form, one angle pointing up- 
wards. It has a broad collar of velvety black round the neck, 
the dark hues of the head contrasting curiously with the dark 
body. In the tail there are two white feathers, edged with 
greenish-black. Tlie hen is of a more sombre hue, having 
an olive-green head, and the throat white, spotted with green. 




Proceeding southwards, we find numerous beautiful hum- 
ming-birds in Bolivia. Among them is the sappho comet, or 
bar-tailed humming-bird. In winter it descends into the low- 
lands of Peru, among the abodes of men, visiting their gardens 


and orchards with perfect fearlessness. The larger part of the 
plumage is of a light green, the lower portion of the back a 
deep crimson-red. The throat is metallic green, and the wings 
are purple-brown. The base of the tail is brown, but the greater 
part is of a fiery hue, tipped with velvety black. 

As it darts from flower to flower — now describing a circle, 


now turning and performing numberless other evolutions — the 
eye is unable to follow it, and it is lost to sight, until it again 
returns to the flower which at first attracted its attention. 

On arriving at its winter abode, it takes up its residence 
in the shrubberies and gardens of the Indian cottages, says 
Mr. Bonelli. The hill-side of the neighbouring country, clothed 
with the indigenous trees and shrubs, also affords it a fit place 
of abode, whence it descends several times a day to the cul- 
tivated plains below, particularly to the fields of maize and 
pulse, and other leguminous plants. The rich flowers of the 
large cacti are also frequently visited, as they afford it a con- 
stant and abundant supply of insect food. 

The nest is a somewhat loose structure, outwardly composed 
of vegetable fibres, slight twigs, and moss, and frequently lined 
with soft hair. The lower portion is prolonged considerably 
below the cup-shaped interior, which is about an inch and 
a half in diameter, and an inch in depth ; the total length of 
the nest being nearly three inches. The nest is placed against 
the sides of the walls, supported by any hanging root or twig 
that may be best adapted to afford it security. The eggs are 
two in number, and oblong in form, of a pure white, half an 
inch in length, by about five-sixteenths of an inch in breadth. 


The phaon comet is considerably larger, but very similar 
to the former, except that the whole of its tail is of a crim- 

The blue-tailed sylph has a wide range along the temperate 
regions of the Cordilleras. The genus of sylph to which it 
belongs is among the most beautiful and graceful in form 
of the hummin^'-birds. The bodv is of a bronzed u'rcen, and 


the crown of the head of a metallic golden green ; while the 
throat is adorned with a gorget of the most intense purple- 
blue. It has a superb tail, the two central feathers of which 
are of a shining metallic green; the two next are black at 
their base, and rich blue towards their extremities, tipped and 
edged with bright metallic green, shot with blue. 

But we have not space to describe one-tenth part of those 
wonderful, bright, and small specimens of the feathered tribe 
which inhabit tlie mountains for their entire leno^th. DarAvin 
found one of the species — the Trochilus forficatus — flying 
about amid the snow-storms in the forests of Tierra del Fuego ; 
while in the wooded island of Chiloe, which has an extremely 
humid climate, he saw it skipping from side to side amid the 
dripping foliage. 

In the same island is found another species, the Trochilus 
gigas — a very large bii-d for so delicate a family. When on 
the wing, it moves from place to place with the most rapid 
flight ; but whilst hovering over a flower, it flaps its wings 
with a very slow and powerful movement, totally different 
from that of the vibratoiy one common to most of the species 
which produces the humming noise. When hovering by a 
flower, its tail is constantly opened and shut like a fan, 
the body being in a nearly vertical position. This action 
appears to steady and support the bird between the sIoav 
movements of its wings. It feeds chiefly on insects. The 
note of this species, like that of nearly the whole family, is 
extremely shrill. 

In Bolivia are found the Bolivian violet - ear, Wan'ell's 
wood-star, and many others ; but we must bring our descrip- 
tion of the humminof-birds of this reo-ion to a conclusion. 




[ILL of animal life as are the forests of South America, 
the number of species of what are generally caJled 
wild beasts is remarkably small. Four only are cap- 

able of attacking man — the jaguar, the puma, the great ant- 
eater, and the savage little peccary, with its lancet-like tusks. 
The first only is universally dreaded ; the puma flies when 
bravely confronted ; the great ant-eater is not dangerous, 
except to those who get within its reach ; and the peccary is 
dreaded chiefly when hunting in a pack, as it does, like the 
wolf The burly tapir, the largest animal of the continent — 
though a hippopotamus would look at it with contempt — is 
perfectly harmless ; and, with the exception of a few species of 
tiger-cats, nearly all the other Mammalia are rodents, or belong 
to the order Quadrumana. The latter are by far the most 
numerous inhabitants of its wide-extendini]: forests. It is 
especially the country of monkeys, wliere they have arrived 
at their highest development. Several of the species are not 
only furnished with four liands, but they have tails which 

392 THE PUMA. 

serve tliem, to all intents and purposes, as a fifth hand. 
They can hang by them, or insert them into a hole and pick 
out a bird's egg, or a minute insect, with the gTeatest ease. 
They are generally, with the exception of the howlers, ami- 
cably disposed, easily tamed, with beautiful coats of fur, and, if 
not exactly elegant in their forms, very agile, and generally 
attractive, interesting little creatures. 

The serpents and insects are far more dreaded and annoy- 
ing than the wild beasts. Many of the former are fearfully 
venomous. The boa occasionally finds a human being in the 
forest, sick or wounded, and unable to fly, and winds its huge 
coils round his body. The anaconda is equally dangerous to 
those sleeping near the river's edge ; while the cunning and 
savage alligator lies in wait for the unwary bather or drawer 
of water who ventures into the stream ; and termites and ants 
devour the stores of the inhabitants, and, in certain localities, 
well-nigh sting them to madness. 


The gaucho of the Pampas, the llanero of the savannahs in 
the north, the herdsman on the slopes of the Cordilleras facing 
the Pacific, and the settlers on the eastern shore, dread the 
wide-ranging puma — or the American lion, as the creature, on 
account of its tawny hide, is wrongly called. Supplied with 
powerful limbs, capable of climbing tall trees and swimming 
rivers, neither mountains, forests, open plains, nor streams stop 
its progress. Like ths cat, to which genus it belongs, it 
stealthily approaches its prey, and, seizing it with a sudden 
spring, rends it to piece?. When coming upon a flock of sheep 
or vicunas, it deals havoc and destruction on every side, often 
striking down in mere wantonness a far greater number tb^n 



it can carry off or devour. Yet, though far larger than the 
jaguar, it is inferior to it in courage, and, when boldly op- 
posed by man, will always take to flight ; though, like the 
jaguar, it will track a human being through the forest, in the 
hope of springing on him when unobserved. Yet, boldly 
faced, it plays the coward, and will creep oflT, unable to stand 


"licff '^Z ~yrtr''f!^i'^'~ 


man's steady gaze. Like a wild cat, it climbs a tree with 
ease ; and, taking post on a branch, crouches down, stretched 
out at full leno'th alono- it, its colour harmonizino- with the 
bark, so that it cannot be seen by its unwary prey moving- 
near it. As the deer or vicuna passes below, it launches 
itself on the doomed creature, and, drawing back its neck 
with its powerful claws, breaks the vertebra^, and instantly 



kills it. Darwin states that lie has frequently seen skeletons 
of huanucus with their necks thus dislocated. 

In the Amazonian forests the puma is not so common as 
the jaguar. The colour of its fur resembles that of the deer 
in these forests. The natives call it the sassu-ardna, or the 
false deer, as it frequently, in consequence, deceives them at 
iirst sight. " It was from this name being misspelt that it 
is called the cuguacuarana, the first c being soft," observes 
Bates. Hence the name cougar, employed by French zoolo- 
gists, and copied in most works on natural history. The 
hunters do not fear it, describing it as a coward ; and such, 
in spite of its strength, it undoubtedly is. Still, instances 
liave occurred of its killino; human beino-s. 

It is often found at an elevation of upwards of 10,000 feet. 
After killino- an animal and eatino- its fill, it covers over the 
carcass with bushes, and lies down to watch it. This habit fre- 
quently causes its destruction, for the condors, attracted by the 
carcass, assemble from far and near to their expected feast, when 
the puma springs out to drive them ofi*. The gauchos of the 
Pampas, observing the birds rise together on the wing, hurry 
with men and doos to the chase. Whirlino- their bolas round 
their heads, they quickly entangle the animal's limbs, and then, 
throwino' their lassoes over it, di-ao- it alonof the ground till 
rendered insensible, when its brains are quickly beaten out. 
In Chili it is hunted with dogs, or, driven up a tree, is easily 
shot. It is noted for its craft. When once it has been be- 
trayed when watching a carcass, and has managed to make its 
escape, it is said never to resume that habit. When pursued 
it will stop and spring on one side, and wait till the dogs 
have passed by. Unlike the jaguar, which is among the most 
noisy of beasts of prey, the puma seldom utters an;^ sound, 



even when wounded, but silently takes its way, its presence 
only known as it makes the fatal sjiring on its victiui. 


The Indian, as he roams through the forest, turns many a 
cautious look over his shoulder, lest the savage jaguar, with 
stealthy feet, may be following his trail. Meeting the mon- 




'i^^V ' ''L^ oKiSfe^-^'^-^i^i ■' 









arch of his forests face to face, he fears it not, provided he 
is armed with a bow and poisoned arroAs^s, or sumj^itan and 
envenomed dart, which will soon compel the fierce creature to 
succumb to its deadly influence. 

Of the jaguar, or ounce (Felis onca), there are two species 
■ — the one of a palish brown-yellow, variegated on the up])er 


parts of the body with streaks and regular oblong spots of 
black ; while the other is of a general black hue, and is con- 
sidered the more savao-e of the two. It reaches a size which 
may vie with the tigers of India, though it is often not much 
larger than a wolf It is frequently called the tiger or pan- 
ther of the New AYorld. The tail is not so long as the body. 
In outward appearance it closely resembles the leopard, espe- 
cially in its arborial habits, as by means of its powerful claws 
it can with ease spring up the trimk of a tree, and make its 
way along the branches, ready to pounce down upon a foe. 
Nearly every creature of the forests and arid plains over which 
it roams, and many which frequent the margins of the rivers 
and lakes, have to dread its voracious jaws. It will spring 
from the bough, along which it lies crouching, on the back of 
the thick-skinned tapir, which, with those powerful claws 
clinging to its hide, dashes terror - stricken through the 
thickets, endeavouring to shake off its foe. It will even fear- 
lessly attack the alligator, in spite of the latter' s enormous 
jaws, — avoiding which, by its agility, it will tear open the 
reptile's side, and devour it before life is extinct. It lies 
watching from a projecting trunk for the huge manatee 
swimming by, and grappling it with its claws, holds it fast 
in the struggle for life and death, by degi^ees dragging the 
vast body out of the water, and never letting go its grasp till 
it has succeeded in capturing its prey. Turtles become its 
easy victims. Watching for them as they crawl up the sandy 
banks, it turns them helplessly over with its paws. The 
capybara, or water-hog, seems born for the especial purpose of 
serving it as food, enormous numbers of that big rodent 
being devoured by it. Even active monke3's cannot escape 
it. It will climb the trees and surprise them when sleeping ; 


or sometimes, lying in concealment, springs out among a ti'oop 
of tliem joyously gambolling, unsus[)icious of clanger, wht'n 
their shrieks of terror and the hoarse roar of the jaguar may 
be heard resounding through the forest. 

But where flocks and herds' are collected in the neighbour- 
hood of man's abode, the jaguar is especially dreaded, as it 
will spring upon a horse and Ijring it to the ground with 
ease ; it has been known to drag one many yards to the 
water's side, and swim across the river Avith its prey, carry- 
ing it away on the opposite side to its home in the forest. 
Sheep and deer fall easy victims. When seizing a deer or 
horse, it leaps on the animal's back, and grasping the head 
with its claws, wrenches it back till the vertebrae of the neck 
are broken. 

There are but two animals who do not fear the jaguar. 
The great ant-eater is defended from the monster's attacks by 
its shaggy, thick coat. It will often grasp the jaguar in its 
})Owerful claws, aud keep it in a close embrace, Avliile these 
formidable weapons tear open its side — treating it as some 
chiefs in India were in the habit of treating their guests, whom 
they pretended to receive with an embrace of friendship, 
their hands armed with the steel-formed claws in imitation of 
those of tigers. Though the savage little peccaries, when 
caught singly, are quickly despatched by the jaguar, yet 
when meeting it collected in a herd, they so fiercely assault it 
with their sharp tusks, that it is either pierced to death in 
s])ite of the blows of its claws, or compelled to take to flight. 

It catches fish as it does the manatee, suddenly thrusting 
forth its talons as tluy pass l)i'low it; while it scrapes up 
the turtle's eggs in numbers. It even pounces on birds and 
lizards, in spite of their activity and means of escape ; and, 


when pressed by hunger, it will attack a native village, and 
carry off, not only fowls and other tame animals, but the 
children, and sometimes full-grown people, whom it may 
catch unawares. 

Darwin says, that when the* floods drive these animals to 
diier ground, they are most dangerous ; and mentions many 
instances of people being destroyed by them. On the Parana 
they have been known to get on board vessels at night. He 
heard of a man who, coming up from below when it was 
dark, was seized on the deck by a jaguar. He escaped, how- 
ever, with the loss of the use of an arm. At Santa Fe, two 
padres entering, one after the other, a church into which a 
jaguar had made its wa}^, were both killed. A third, who 
came to see what was the matter, escaped with difficulty. 
The beast was destroyed by being shot at from a corner of 
the building which was unroofed. 

The gauchos say, that when wandering at night, it is fre- 
quently followed by foxes yelping at its heels. If such is 
the case, it is a curious coincidence with the fact, generally 
affirmed, that jackals accompany the East Indian tiger. 

The jaguar often leaves marks on the bark of trees, which 
it scrapes for the purpose of tearing off the rugged parts of 
its claws ; a habit common also to the puma, as Darwin says 
he frequently found in Patagonia scores so deep on the hard 
soil, that no other animal could have made them. 

Brett mentions several instances which came under his 
notice of human beings being killed by jaguars. A Carib 
Indian had gone into the forest to procure touari, — the inner 
bark of the sapucaya-nut tree, of the thin papery layers of 
which the Indians form the envelopes of their cigarettes. 
While employed in cutting off the long strips of the bark, on 

i!^Niii"'n ^ 


turning round he discovered a jaguar stealth i]y approacliing. 
His friends, as he did not return, set out in search of liim. 
For a whole day they searched in vain ; but on the second 
they discovered his foot-tracks, and those of a large jaguar. 
Following these for a long way in anxious suspense, they at 
length came to a spot wdiere there were marks of a contiict, 
and they discovered their comrade's bow lying broken on the 
ground. Still it was apparent that the Indian had beaten 
off his assailant, for the tracks of both led still further into 
the forest. At length they reached the scene of the last 
desperate struggle. On the ground lay the man's knife, 
which he had lashed to the end of a stick ; but it had been 
loosened and turned aside ao-ainst the touo-h hide of the ani- 
mal. From the marks on a tree it was evident that the poor 
fellow, in dire extremity, at the approach of night, had been 
trying to climb it, but ere he had ascended ten feet the 
jaguar had sprung after him, and pulling him down, had torn 
him to pieces. The remains, terribly mangled and half- 
devoured, lay near. One of the Caribs who had found the 
body described the sickness which came over him at the 
sight, and remarked that he had never since felt secure when 
' traversing the forest with only his knife and bow and arrows. 
On the banks of the Pomaroon lived a Carib familv^ with 
a number of small children. The young ones had gone into 
the water to bathe, when they were startled by the cry of 
the smallest of their party — a little boy — whom they had left 
seated at the water's edge. On looking round they beheld a huge 
jaguar which had been attracted by their noises of splashing, 
and which, having come behind the poor child, was standing 
with one paw on his shoulder. The elder children, screaming 
for help, attempted bravely to drive away the savage beast, 


but their efforts only resulted iii it seizing the poor little fel- 
low's head with its powerful jaws. It was a moment of agony. 
Their father was absent, but another Carib who was near 
rushed to the spot, followed by the child's mother and some 
other females. The beast, startled at this sudden increase in 
the number of its assailants, dropped its victim, whom the man 
immediately took up and gave to the mother. But assistance 
had come too late. The child gave his last struggle as his 
mother received him in her arms. When night set in, the 
disappointed beast came back to claim his prey, roaring and 
yelling through the hours of darkness around the open shed 
which formed their dwelling. Females alone were present, 
as the man had gone off to call the child's father ; and they 
had great difficulty, with firebrands and shouting, in keeping 
the brute off till help arrived. 

Some time after this, another man, of considerable personal 
strength and cool courage, was one day in his field, with a little 
dog playing by his side, when he saw a jaguar at a distance 
watching his movements. The beast slunk away when ob- 
served, and as the Carib had no gun, he went on quietly with 
his work, clearing away the bush with his cutlass, which was 
a new and sharp one. The jaguar had, however, marked 
the dog for its prey, and only retreated to execute a flank 
march through the bush, and to come unperceived on his 
rear. Having effected this, it crept noiselessly forward, and 
sprang on the dog, which was instantly killed. The Carib 
rushed to the assistance of his favourite, compelling the 
savage jaguar to relinquish its hold, but the creature turned 
and sprang upon him. The man, however, anticipating the 
attack, dashed forward and decided the contest by a single 
blow, which buried his cutlass deep in the jaguar's skull. 



The same man, on another occasion, clove the skull of a 
second jaguar with an axe with which he was about to fell 
some trees. 

The jaguar, however, is capable of being tamed. The well- 
known Captain Inglefield possessed one, afterwards placed in 
the Zoolofdcal Gardens. It was so tame that he used to lie 
down and place his head on its body as on a pillow. It was 
allowed to roam at liberty about the ship. It was remark- 
able, however, that this creature could never be trusted when 
a young child or a dog was present. On such occasions it 
became greatly excited, endeavouring to break away from the 
chain with which it was secured when on shore. Probably 
in its native wilds both would have fallen victims to its natural 

The Bishop of Demei-ara witnessed an instance of the way 
in which these savage creatures may occasionally be tamed, 
while on an expedition up the River Demerara. On approach- 
ing the falls, he and his party halted at an Indian settlement 
on the left bank, where they saw a young jaguar only a few 
weeks old, which appeared to be extremely savage when any 
of them went near it. " But," he continues, " never did I 
observe such apparent gentleness and attachment in any 
animal ; as, when one or two of our party had certainly not 
gone the way to win the creature's affections, it allowed it- 
self to be drawn close to us by an Indian woman, and after- 
wards by a little child. Not a moment before, it was as 
angry and savage as could be ; but no sooner did the child 
draw it towards her, than, looking up with an expression of 
intelligence and trustfulness quite new to me, it nestled itself 
within the embrace of its kind protectress." 

The Indians are proverbially famous for the facility with 

20 B 


which they attract animals towards them. Bates and Wallace 
also mention having seen, on several occasions, jaguars per- 
fectly tame, roaming in and out of the huts, as their smaller 
feline relatives would have done. 


Within the recesses of the primeval forest, near the borders 
of a river or lake, a large mass of what looks, at a little 
distance, like a collection of some long, coarse, curled, fibrous 
substance, is often seen by the hunter. The jaguar glances at 
it askance and passes it by, — although, when hunger presses 
him, he may long to obtain the dainty meal which lies 
beneath. The huge hairy mass is the tail of the ant-bear, 
which serves it as a shelter from the rays of the noonday sun 
and from the deluges of the rainy season : spread out over 
its body, it is the sole covering it seeks, as it neither buiTOws, 
nor takes up its abode in the hollows of trees nor in artificial 
caves. With its elongated toothless head and thin tongue, it 
seems utterly incapable, at the first glance, of defending itself, 
not only against the jaguar or puma, but, notwithstanding 
its great size, against even the attacks of the smallest car- 
nivorous animals of the wilds, as it moves with toilsome and 
awkward steps over the ground. It cannot climb the trees ; 
unadapted for swimming, it dare not seek safety in the water ; 
and incapable of moving rapidly, it is unable to run from its 
foes. Its hind-feet, unlike those of many animals, are value- 
less for defence ; but yet it has not been left without ample 
means of protection. Examine its fore-feet, and on each will be 
seen two large, powerful, trenchant claws. With these, aided 
by its muscular power, and thick hide covered with long coarse 
hair, it boldly defies the attacks of the fiercest creatures. 


Of a peaceable disposition, it makes its solitary way 
through the forest ; but woe betide the hunter's dogs, or any 
other animals, which venture to assail it ! With one blow of 
these sharp weapons it rips up its assailant, or hugs it in a 
close embrace, where its own thick skin resists the teeth of 
its foe ; and, able itself to endure hunger longer than any 
other animal, it keeps it thus till starved to death. 

Vast numbers of ants and termites swarm in the tropical 
forests of South America, of great varieties of form and mode 
of life and occupation. Their business in the economy of 
nature is chiefly the consumption of decayed vegetable matter, 
which would otherwise contaminate the atmosphere. They 
are furnished with incalculable powers of increase, and, to 
prevent their too great excess, other animals have been 
created to prey on them. The chief creature engaged in that 
work is this most extraordinary denizen of the forest — the 
ant-bear, or great ant-eater (Myrmecophaga jubata), called also 
the tamanoir. It often measures, from the tip of its snout 
to the extremity of its tail, eight feet ; and though it seems 
wonderful that so large an animal should be able to subsist 
solely on such minute insects, yet, from the fonnation of its 
mouth, it is unable to consume any other. It has a long 
slender head, /with a pointed snout ; and its mouth, entirely 
destitute of teeth, is furnished with a long flexible tongue, 
covered with a glutinous saliva. This it passes lightly over 
the swarms of ants which rush out when it attacks their 
dwelling, and they, adhering to it, are speedily dragged into 
its maw. 

Its body is covered with long, coarse, shaggy hair, except 
on the head, where it is short and close ; while its black 
bushy tail is of great size and length. It is plantigi-ade 



— that is, it stands lower on the hind-legs than in front. 
Though its mouth appears so incapable of enabling it to 
defend itself, it can do so effectually with the two long, sharp 
claws of its fore-feet. With these claws it opens the ant-hills, 
on whose inliabitants it subsists. Its hind-feet have five 
toes, but they are furnished with short, weak claws, similar to 
those of ordinary quadrupeds. 





Its favourite resort is the low swampy marshes of the 
rivers and stagnant pools ; but it also ranges widely in search 
of its prey. It lives in solitude ; its habits are slothful ; it 
sleeps during the greater part of the day. Its long claws, 
when not employed, are folded upon a thick rough pad, which 
renders the exertion of walking less difficult. iVs, however, 
it is compelled to step U[>on the outer edge of its fore-feet, it 
progresses in an awkward and painful manner, and it cannot 



move for any length of time. Its eye possesses a peculiarly 
cunning expression. 

Of a peaceable and harmless disposition, the ant-bear, when 
not provoked, never attacks any animal ; but on the approach 
of an enemy, it assumes the defensive in such a way as to make 
the boldest aggressor pause. Resting on its left fore-foot, 
it strikes out its right' with a force sufficient to tear off 
the hide of the thickest-skinned assailant. When attacked 
from behind, it turns round with the rapidity of Hghtning ; 
and when assailed from several quarters at once, it throws 
itse^ on its back, fighting desperately with both its fore-legs, 
and uttering angry growls of defiance. So thick is its hide, 
that no animal has been found with teeth capable of piercing it ; 
and even when the jaguar, pressed by hunger, dares to assail 
it, the monarch of the American forest is often driven off, or 
left weltering in its blood from the wounds inflicted by the 
formidable claws of the ant-bear. 

When attacking an ant-castle, the tamanoir strikes a hole 
in the wall of clay with his powerful, crooked claws. The 
warrior-ants then issue out by thousands to resent the insult, 
while the labourers retire to the inmost recesses. The soldiers 
swarm on every part of their assailant, but their sharp man- 
dibles are unable to pierce its thick skin. The bear then 
putting forth its long tongue, which is lubricated from two 
large glands situated below its root, the insects remain stick- 
ing in the glutinous liquid. When a sufficient supply has been 
thus obtained, it draws back its tongue within its mouth, and 
swallows the whole army at a gulp. 


While the vast citadels of the white ant formed on the 



ground are attacked by the great ant-eater, the too great 
increase of the arborial termites is kept under Ijy three 
smaller species, formed to live among the branches of the 

The tamandua is seen climbino- the loftiest monarchs of the 
forest in search of its insect prey. It is about the size of a 
cat. Though its head is elongated, it is considerably less so 
than that of the ant-bear : ^Yhile its hair is short and silkv, 
resemblino- fine wool. The feet are formed in the same 

:^r' J-. 


manner as those of the larger animal, but, to enable it the 
better to climb among the branches, it possesses a prehensile 

Though it cannot be said to possess a sweet tooth — as 
its mouth is as destitute of teeth as that of the tamanoir — 
yet it does not confine its food to the termites alone, but 
seeks the nests of the stingless bees, which form their hives 
among the loftiest branches of the forest, and robs them of 
their honeyed treasures. 




There is another curious little ant-eater, about the size of a 
squuTel, — which animal it resembles very much in its habits, 
and somewhat in its appearance. It possesses a prehensile 
tail, like that of the ateles and other American monkeys, with 
which it can swing itself from branch to branch. The tail is 
covered with fur, with the exception of about three inches 
of the under surface at the extremity. It has a small head. 


the snout sharpened and bent slightly downwards. A soft, 
curled, and pale yellow-brown fur clothes its body. It has 
only two claws on each of its fore-feet, the exterior one being 
stronger and larger than the interior. With these weapons 
it is enabled to hook out the small insects from the crevices 
of the bark, or grubs from the nests of bees or wasps. Like 
the squirrel, it sits upon its hind-limbs when eating, su[)port- 
ing itself with its prehensile tail. It may more properly bo 
called the twisted-tail ant-eater (Cyclothurus didactylus). 


There is another small ant-eater found in Guiana, called 
the striped ant-eater (Myrmecophaga striata), from the marks 
on its body. Its general colour is of a tawny hue, the under 
parts being white. It is marked with broad, distinct, blackish 
transverse stripes, and the tail is annulated with similar ones. 
Its whole length, from the tip of its nose to the end of its 
tail, is about twenty inches. The snout is elongated, the 
upper mandible extending very little beyond the lower. 


That shaggy -haired creature, which may be seen hanging 
from the boughs of the lofty cecropia — the much-abused sloth 
— is generally described as a type of laziness, doomed to a 
helpless and wretched existence ; but such an animal the all- 
beneficent Creator has not placed on the earth. To each 
animal that he has formed he has given an instinct and 
organization specially adapted to their mode of life and the 
part the}^ are destined to perform in the economy of nature. 
The sloth is formed to pass its time in trees, and to feed on the 
superabundant leaves, which would otherwise impede the cir- 
culation of the air, retard their gi^owth, or bring on premature 
decay. This duty it shares with numberless other animals of 
the luxuriant forests of Tropical America. Place the sloth out 
of its natural position, and, as would be the case with other 
animals, it finds itself in a difficulty. Its destiny is to live in 
the dense forest, where, the branches of the trees meeting each 
other, it can move along from bough to bough, and make its 
way for considerable distances without difficulty, or having to 
descend to the gTound. When by force or accident placed on 
the gi'ound, it is unable to move along except at a slow and 
toilsome pace. When by any chance thus seen, its arms 


appear much too long, while its hind-legs, which arc very short, 
look as if they could be bent almost to the shape of a cork-screw. 
Both fore and hind legs, by their form, and the manner in which 
they are joined to the body, are incapable of acting in a perpen- 
dicular direction, or in supporting its bod}'. Hence its belly 
touches the ground. Even could the animal thus raise itself. 
it would be in pain, as it has no soles to its fore-feet, and its 
claws are very sharp, long, and curved. Thus, were its body 
supported by its feet, it would be on their extremities: just as 
a man would be were he to go on all-fours, and try to support 
his body on the ends of his toes and fingers. " Were the 
ground polished like glass," says Waterton, " the sloth would 
actually be quite stationaiy; but as it is generally rough, the 
sloth moves its fore-legs in all directions, in order to find some- 
thing to lay hold of ; and when it has succeeded, it pulls itself 
forward, and is thus able to travel onwards, though in a slow and 
awkward manner. Indeed, as its looks and gestures betoken 
its uncomfortable situation, and as a sigh every now and theu 
escapes it, it may be concluded that it actually is in pain." 

Thus it is evident that the sloth is formed, not to live on 
the ground, but in trees ; and on further observation it will 
1)6 seen tliat, unlike most other arborial animals, it lives, 
not on the branches, but under them. It moves, suspended 
Irom the branch ; it rests, suspended from the branch ; and 
sleeps, suspended from the branch. " Hence its seemingly 
bundled position is at once accounted for," adds Waterton ; 
" and in lieu of the sloth leading a i)aini'iil life, and entailing 
a miserable existence on its progeny, it is but fair to conclude 
that it enjoys life as much as any other animal, and that its extra- 
ordinary formation and singular habits are but further proofs 
to engage us to admire the wonderful w mks uf Ornniixttence." 



In proportion as the sloth's organization unfits it for terres- 
trial progTession, it is wonderfully adapted for climbing trees. 
With its long arms it reaches right up, and clings to the 
branches with its long and crooked claws. It has thus tlie 
power of grasping a tree which no other mammal possesses. 


It is indeed tlie best climber among mammals, while it is the 
only mammal that can neither walk nor stand. When sleep- 
ing, the sloth does not hang head do^^'n wards, like the vampire, 
but supports itself from the branch parallel to the eartli. It 
first seizes the branch with one arm, and then the other, and 


then biing's up both its legs — one after the other — to the same 
branch, so tliat all four are in a line. 

It is almost tailless. Had it a tail it would be at a loss to 
know what to do with it in tliis position. Were it to draw 
it up between its legs, it would interfere with them ; and 
were it to let it hang down, it would become the sport of 
the winds. 

Waterton observes that he has never seen a tree entirelv 
stripped of its leaves ; indeed, he believes that l:)y the time 
the animal had finished the last of the old leaves, there would 
be a new crop on the part of the tree it had stripped first, ready 
for him to begin again, so rapid is the process of vegetation 
in that region. In calm weather it remains tranquil, probably 
not likinor to clino- to the brittle extremities of the branches, 
lest they should break with it in passing from one tree to 
another ; but as soon as the wind rises, the branches of the 
neighbouring trees become interlocked, and then the animal 
seizes hold of them, and pursues his journey in safety, travel- 
ling at a good round pace — showing that he does not deserve 
the name of sloth. 

The head of the sloth is short, the face small and round, 
the hair coarse and shaggy. There are several species, ditTer- 
ing considerably in colour, but resembling in general dry, 
withered grass, or moss. The species vary in size ffom two 
feet to the size of a rabbit. Its face resembles the human 
countenance as much as that of the monkey, but with a very 
.sad and melancholy expression. It brings forth its young and 
suckles them like ordinary quadrupeds. The i:iiant sloth, 
from the moment of its birth, adheres to the bod}^ of its 
parent, until it acquires sufficient size and strength to shift 
for itself Its cry is low and plaintive, resembling the sound 

(370) 27 


of " ai." Hence the three-toed sloth has obtained the name 
of the ai. 

Mr. Bates says that the natives consider the sloth the type 
of laziness, and that it is very common for one native to call 
another — reproaching him for idleness — '' beast of the cecropia 
tree ;" the leaves of the cecropia being the food of the sloth. 
"It is a strange sight/' he adds, " watching the creature's 
movements from branch to branch. Every movement betrays 
not indolence, but extreme caution. It never loses its hold of 
one branch without catching the next ; and when it does not 
immediately find a branch to grasp with the rigid hooks which 
serve it for paws, it raises its body, supported by its hind-legs 
and claws, and feels round in search of a fresh foothold." In 
one of their voyages, he and Mr. Wallace saw a sloth (Brady- 
pus infuscatus) swimming across a river, at a place where it 
was probably three hundred yards broad. It is not gener- 
ally known that this animal takes to the water. 


Throughout the densely-wooded regions on the banks of 
the rivers from Demerara, across the Brazils, to Paraguay, the 
long-nosed tapir has its range. It and the peccary are the 
only two Pachydermata, or thick-skinned animals, indigenous 
to the southern continent. It is considered one of the links 
which connect the elephant and rhinoceros to the swine ; its 
habits, indeed, are somewhat similar to those animals. 

Six feet in length, and four in height, it is the largest 
quadruped in South America. In form it is somewhat like 
the hog ; but its snout is lengthened into a flexible proboscis, 
which resembles the rudiment of the elephant's trunk, and 
serves for the same purpose — that of twisting round the 

m^r: •^•■j'^'Mm^ 'ii-:^'^^^ 

TlIK TAPirt. 


Blanches of trees and tearing off the leaves, on which it i)artly 
feeds. Like the rhmoceros, it deliglits in water, is a good 
swimmer and diver, and enjoys wallowing in the nuid. 

Though in its wild state its food consists of the shoots of 
trees, buds, wild fruits, gourds, and niel(jns, wlien in captivity 

it is an indiscriminate swallower of everything, filthy or clean. 
During the day it remains concealed in the deep recesses of the 
forest, issuing out at niglit to seek its food. On its front feet 
are four toes, but there are only three on the hinder — their tips 
cased in small hoofs. Tlie eyes are small and lateral, and the 
ears long and pointed. The teeth are strong and i)Owerful, to 
enable it to crush its food, or defend itself against its enemies. 


The hair, of a deep brown, approaching to black, is short, 
scanty, and closely depressed to the surface ; while it has little 
or no tail. It possesses enormous muscular power ; and as its 
body is defended by a thick, tough hide, it can force its way 
throuD'h the dense underwood where no other creature can 
penetrate. Generally it moves in a trot, but when pursued 
Ijreaks into an awkward gallop, carrying its head downwards, 
like the hocf. 

Its chief enemy is the fierce jaguar, which, leaping on its 
back, endeavours to bring it to the ground. The tapir, on 
being seized, darts through the forest, attempting to destroy 
its foe, and dislodge it from its back by rushing under the 1oa\' 
bouo'hs of the trees. Should this fail, and water be near, 
it quickly frees itself by diving down — as the jaguar, unable 
to dive, must either let go its hold or be drowned. 

Of a peaceful and harmless disposition, it never willingly 
attacks man or beast ; but when hunted and brought to bay, 
it will defend itself desperately, frequently inflicting, with its 
strono' teeth, severe wounds on its assailants. 


The only other pachydermatous animal besides the tapir 
indigenous to South America is the little truculent peccary — 
a herd of which creatures is more feared by the natives than 
the jaguar, boa, or anaconda. There are two species — the 
Dicotyles tajacu and Dicotyles labiatus, or white-lipped pec- 
cary ; the latter being the larger and fiercer of the two. The 
peccary is very like a small hog. Its form is short and 
compact, thickly covered with strong, dark-coloured bristles, 
except the lower part of the body, which is nearly destitute 
of hair. It has a somewhat large head, short snout, and 












THi: PFXX'Ain'. 


short, U|)iii;lit ears ; wliile a fie.sliy protuberance is its repre- 
sentative for a tail. At the first glance it seems harmless 
enough, hut inside its mouth are found some short tusks, 
double-edged, and as sharp as lancets, with which the crea- 
ture is capable of inflicting the most deadly wounds. It is 
remarkable for a glandular oriflce at the lower part of the 
back, surrounded by strong bristles. From this gland exudes 
a strong-scented fluid ; so that, as soon as the creature is killed, 
it is necessary to cut it out, or the rest of the flesh l)ecomes 
so imbued as to make it unfit for food. 

In its habits it is like the hog, and lives on the same kind 


of food, but its chief duty in the economy of nature is that of 
desti'oying reptiles and snakes of all sorts, — particularly the 
rattlesnake, which it attacks without the slightest hesitation ; 
nor does it appear to suffer in any way when bitten. It gives 
voice with a sharp, shrill grunt ; but when angry, it smartly 
clashes its tusks together, making a sound heard at a con- 
siderable distance, and announcing its approach. 

The flesh is somewhat dry and insipid, and entirely desti- 
tute of fat. That of the female is considered the best. 

The larger species — the white-lipped peccary — is dreaded 


by the farmers, as it fi'equently, in large numbers, attacks their 
crops, choosing always the most flourishing fields. 

The peccary, though occasionally found by itself, is a gi"e- 
garious animal. A herd will attack a jaguar or puma, and 
even the sturdy tapir, without fear ; and rushing at their an- 
tagonist with their sharp tusks, never fail to come off victo- 
rious. Knowing their power, the jaguar, when meeting a 
herd, flies through the forest to avoid them. When the 
hunter and his dogs encounter one of these armies, his only 
chance of escape is to climb the nearest tree, when they can 
only stand below gnashing their teeth, and gazing up at him 
with their vindictive little eyes. His dogs, however, quickly 
fall victims to their fury. 

On one occasion a party of hunters had brought a Ijear to 
bay, when, in the midst of the fierce contest, a herd of pec- 
caries came charging over the ground, putting not only the 
bear, but the men and the dogs to flight. 

The peccary will, indeed, attack man or beast without hesi- 
tation, its assaults beincj not the less dano-erous because it 
seems utterly ignorant of the danger it runs itself It is, 
however, hunted by the natives for the sake of its flesh. It 
frequently takes up its abode in some forsaken burrow or the 
hollow of a tree. The creatures back in, one after the other, 
till there is no room .for more. The outer one then takes the 
post of sentinel, and gives notice of the approach of any de- 
sirable quarry. The hunters, aware of this habit, cautiously — 
sometimes with firearms and sometimes ^dth pointed weapons — 
approach the peccaries' abode. A slight noise draws the sen- 
tinel from the hollow, when it is immediately shot doA\'Ti or 
transfixed by a spear. Another at once takes its place, 
coming out to see what is the matter, when it is killed in 


the same way ; and thus a AA^hole family may be killed in 


In all parts of the continent, ---on the banks of the streams 
flowing through the Llanos of Venezuela, as well as by the 
side of the La Plata and its tributaiies,— the capybara, the 
largest rodent in existence, may be seen, seated on its haunches, 
like others of its family. It is of the size of a moderately 
large hog about two years old. It has a large head, and tliick 
divided nose, on each side of which are long whiskers. The 
ears are small and rounded ; the eyes are black and of con- 
siderable size ; and the upper jaw much longer than the lower, 
— which gives the face a curious appearance. The body is 
thick, covered with short, coarse brown hair, and destitute of 
a tail. The neck is short, as are the legs — with remarkably 
long feet, which are also very broad, the claws of a blunt 
form, and approximate in shape to the hoofs of the Pachy- 
dermata. They are partly webbed, and thus adapted to the 
aquatic life it enjoys, and which has gained for it the name of 
the water-hog. Though it feeds on vegetables, it is also fond 
of fish, to catch which it enters the water, swimming aftei- 
them with the rapidity of an otter. When seen at a distance 
as they run over the ground, from their colour they look 
like pigs; but when seen seated on their haunches, attentively 
watching any object w^th one eye, as is their habit, their true 
character is known. 

Darwin describes his observing a party of several. As he 
approached nearer and nearer they made their peculiar noise, 
— which is a low, abrupt grunt, not having much actual sound, 
but rather arising from the sudden ex])ulsi()n of air. The 
only noise like it is the first hoarse bark ot" a large dog. 


Having watched them from ahnost within ai m's-lengtli and tliey 
him for several minutes, they rushed into the water with the 
greatest impetuosity, emitting at the same time their usual 
bark. After diving a short distance they came again to the 
surface, but just showed the upper part of their heads. When 
the female is swimming and lias young ones, they are said to 
sit on her back. 

The capybara is classed with the Cavidae or guinea-pig tribe. 
When not persecuted, it is very tame ; but in the regions 
frequented by the jaguar it becomes his easy and constant 
prey. It is of a mild disposition, and is sometimes tamed. 
Its flesh is rather dry, and has a somewhat musky flavour, 
but affords wholesome food to man. 


Of agoutis there are several species. The larger agouti, 
mara, or Patagonian cou}^ — twice the size of a hare — are seen 
three or four together, hopping quickly one after the other in 
a straight line across the Pampas. It is somewhat like a 
hare, but has the external coverino- of a hoo- its lono- coat 
concealing its little stump of a tail. It has also the hog's 
voracious appetite. 

It is fond of occupying the burrows of the bizcacha when 
it finds them, but when they do not exist it is compelled to 
make a house for itself It here stores away the food it does 
not require for present use. When eating, it sits up like the 
squuTel, using its fore-paws to convey the food to its mouth. 
Its hind-legs being very long, it leaps over the ground at 
considerable speed. As it is very fond of the sugar-cane, 
wherever plantations exist it is hunted without mercy, and 
driven from the district. 



The sinallcr agouti, rather less than a rahbit, j^'cucrally iii- 
liabits forest districts ; and as it is there a nocturnal animal, 
it spends the chief part of the day in its hiding-place — usually 
the cleft of a rock or the hollow of a decaying tree — twenty or 
thirty creatvu-es congxegating together. Hei'e their nests are 
Ibrined of soft leaves, where the young are placed till they are 
able to accompany their parents on their predatory expedi- 

"* ' ~V/M "J Ve nn a ii^'Z' 


tions. It is a gentle little creature, and when caught, instead 
of attempting to bite, only gives vent to a piteous cry. 

The larger agouti, or mara, is sometimes classed between 
the agoutis and the pacas. It is more easily tamed than the 
smaller species, and the fur is handsomer — of black, white, and 
iiolden brown. 




The paca — another rodent — is remarkable for its enor- 
mously-developed cheek-bone, and for the thick pouch whicli 
it possesses. Like its big relation, the capybara, it always 
takes up its abode in the neighbourhood of water. It forms 
a burrow so near the surface, that a person walking over it 
suddenly steps through. It generally makes three openings, 
which it covers with dry leaves and branches. The Indian 
easily discovers the entrances, when he closes up two of the 

-_— -i = -^.?^;^^' 


apertures, and watches till the paca ventures out of the third. 
The little animal, however, defends itself bravely, and will 
severely bite its assailant. 

It is of a thick, clumsy form, measuring about two feet in 
length from the tip of the nose to the extremity of the body, 
and about one foot in hcio^ht. The hinder limbs are lon*]^, 
the front ones much bent. Its feet are armed with thick, 
strong, conical claws, suitable for digging. 

Though a clumsy-looking creature, it can run and jump 


with great activity. It makes a noise somewhat like the 
grunting of a 3^omig pig. It lives upon fruits and tender 
plants, going out from its hole to forage at night, but gener- 
ally remaining concealed during the daytime. When alarme<I 
it readily takes to the water, and dives and swims remark- 
ably w^ell. 

Bates describes a tame cutea, or an agouti, which he found 
feeding; in the nei^dibourhood of a villao-e, nibblino; the fallen 
fruits of the inaja-palm. On his trying to catch it, instead of 
betaking itself, as he thought it would, to the thicket, it ran 
off to the house of its owners, which was at a distance of 
about two hundred yards. v 

The paca and agouti belong to the peculiar family of the 
rodent order confined to South America, and which connects 
the Rodentia to the Pachydermata — the order to which the 
elephant, horse, and hog belong. 

The fossil toxodon resembled the Rodentia in its dentition, 
and, at the same time, was nearly related to the elephant. 
These facts make it probable that these animals are living 
representatives of a group which existed at a distant epoch of 
the world's history, and which possessed a structure partak- 
ing of the character of the two great orders — Rodentia and 
Pachydermata — now so widely distinct in the majority of forms. 


In days gone by, huge monsters — their backs covered with 
bony armour — ten feet and upwards in length, some perhaps of 
the bulk of the rhinoceros, crawled along the plains of South 
America. They have become creatures of the past, and their 
places have been taken by others of a similarly curious forma- 
tion, of which even the giant armadillo, wdien compared to 


tlieiii, is a iiiei'e i)igiiiy. These creatures abound in all parts 
<jf the continent, fiom Paraguay to Venezuela ; Init, incased as 
they are in coats of complete armour, and running so quickly, 
and so rapidly digging into the earth, they can rarely be over- 
taken by the hunter. 

The armadillo (Dasypus) belongs to the ordei- of Edentata. 
The armour, which covers the whole body, consists of a tri- 
angular plate on the top of the head, a large buckler over the 
shoulders, and a similar one covering the haunches ; while be- 
tween the solid portions a series of transverse bands intervene 
in such a manner as to allow the creature to move its body in 
a variety of postures. The tail is likewise covered with a 
series of calcareous rings. It can, in consequence of this 
})eculiar conformation of its covering, roll itself up, like the 
hedgehog, into a ball, and thus present a solid surface, imper- 
vious to the attacks of birds of prey or small quadrupeds. 
The part over the shell is covered with short hairs, which 
appear between the joints of the armour. It has a pointed 
snout, long ears, thick, short limbs, and powerful claws. With 
these claws it burrows with extraordinary rapidity, and can 
inflict severe wounds. 

The common armadillo, or the poyou, is about twenty inches 
in lengtli, including the tail. As its hearing is very acute, 
and it never ventures far from its home during the day- 
time, it easily escapes the attacks of its foes, with the exce})- 
tion of man. It readily takes to the water when pursued, and 
swims well, but does not enter it by choice. The Indian 
hunter, however, attacks the creature with a skill it cannot 

It is a curious fact that mosquitoes often inhabit the bur- 
rows of the armadillo. The Indian, knowing this, as soon as 



he finds a burrow, puts a short stick down it. If a number 
of insects, come out, lie knows there is an animal within. 
When he finds no mosquitoes, he is sure there is no arma- 
dillo. If he is satisfied that the armadillo is at home, he cuts 
a long, slender stick, and introduces it into the hole, carefully 
observing the line which it takes, and then sinks a pit in the 
sand to catch the end of it. This done, he puts it further 
into tlie hole, and digs another pit ; till he at last comes up 


with the poor armadillo — which has been making a passage in 
the sand, till, from its exertions, it has lost all its strength. 

The armadillo feeds on all vegetable or aniuial matter not 
too hard for its sharp teeth. It is especially useful in devour- 
ing the oftal or the putrid carcasses of animals which might 
otherwise afi'ect the air. In spite of this coarse style of feed- 
ing, its flesh is esteemed by the natives — who for the sake of it 
perseveringly limit the poor creature throughout the countiy. 

(379) 28 



The species are distinguished from one another chiefly by 
the number of bands on the trunk of the body, between the 
shield on the fore-shoulders, and that on the rump. Baron 
Cuvier, however, divides the whole genus into five small 
groups, — distinguishing one from another by the number and 
form of their teeth and claws. 

The gTeat armadillo (Dasypus gigas) has enormous claws 
and unequal toes, with twenty -four broad teeth on both sides 



of its jaws. It measures, exclusive of the tail, nearly three feet 
in length. 

Darwin describes another, living on very dry soil, the pechy 
(Dasypus minutus), which wanders by day over the open plains, 
and feeds on beetles, leaves, roots, and even small snakes. So 
rapidly does it bmTOW, that scarcely is one seen before its hind- 
quarters disappear in the sand. It likewise tries to escape notice 
by squatting down close to the ground. 



There are numerous species of opossum, most of them mar- 
supial, in the Brazils, where they take the place of the shrews 
of Europe. They are very destructive to poultry. One of 
the species is aquatic, and has webbed feet. The terrestrial 
species are nocturnal. They sleep during the day in the 
hollows of trees, and come forth at night to prey on birds in 
their roos ting-places. Some live entirely on trees. 


The crab-eating opossum is a curious creature, about ten 
inches in length ; with a prehensile tail, fifteen inches long, in 
addition. It has a somewhat pointed nose, and a darkish fur. 
When born, the young are transferred by the mother to her 
cradle pouch, where they live for some weeks before they are 
sufiiciently developed to venture abroad. 

The creature is formed especially for living among the trees, 
about which it moves with the activity of a monkey. It 
advances carefully, always entwining its tail round one branch 
before venturing on to another. 

The crabs and other crustaceans on which it lives — from 
which circumstance it obtains its name — are found on low 
marshy soils, in the neighbourhood of which these species 

merian's opossum. 

A still more curious creature is Merian's opossum (Philan- 
der dorsigerus). It has no true pouch, and the mother, there- 
fore, while her young are in their infancy, carries them on her 
back. From this circumstance the name of dovs'igcrus, or 
back-bearing, has been given to it. They cling to her fur 



with their little hand-like feet, while they twine their tails 
round hers, which she places over her back m a convenient 
position for that purpose. Other species of opossums carry 


their young in the same manner, — -some even which ai*e fur- 
nished with well-developed pouches. 

yapock: opossum. 

The little yapock opossum is a representative of the aquatic 
species (Cheironectes yapock). It is of a fawn-gray tint, 
with dark "black marks. It measures in length about ten 
inches, with a tail of twelve or fifteen inches. The hind-feet 
are furnished with a membraneous web, which connects the 



toes together, and serves as a pari die. The fore -paws possess 
great grasping powers, and have a hand-like appearance. The 
ears are small, sharp, and pointed, and the head tapering. It 
possesses also large cheek-poucheS, similar in their use to those 
of monkeys. It is thus enabled to stow away the creatures it 
catches on its aquatic excursions, and to keep them there till 
it returns to the shore to dine. It feeds principally on fish, 


crustaceans, and aquatic insects. So similar is it in its habits 
to the otter, that it is frecjuently described as one, and has been 
called the Dcmerara otter ; but it is in reality a true opossum. 


No animal's ph^^siognomy can be more hideous, when seen 
from the front, than the countenance of the largest South 



American vampire-bat. Fancy a creature measuring twenty- 
eight inches in expanse of wing, its large leathery ears stand- 
ing out from the sides and top of the head, and an erect spur- 
shaped appendage on the tip of the nose, — the gTin, and the 
glistening black eye, all combining to make up a figure which 
reminds one of some mocking imp of fable. No wonder that 
imaginative people have conferred diabolical instincts on so 
ugly an animal. 

Ugly as is the broad leaf-nosed family of bats, it is in 
reality the least harmless. The little gray Phyllostoma is the 
guilty blood-sucker which visits sleepers and bleeds them in 


the night. It is of a dark gray colour, striped with white 
down the back, and having a leaf-like fleshy expansion on the 
tip of the nose. Although they undoubtedly attack sleeping 
people, yet they appear to be somewhat partial as to the in- 
dividuals they select. Bates, when sleeping in a room up the 
Amazon, long unused, was awoke at midnight by a rushing 
noise made by vast hosts of bats sweeping round him. The 
air was alive with them. They had put out the lamp, and 
when he relighted it the place appeared black with the 
impish multitudes that were whirling round and round. After 
he had laid about him well vi^ith a stick for a few miimtos 

BATS. 439 

they disappeared among tlie tiles ; but when all was quiet 
again, they returned once more and extinguished the liglit. 
The next night several got into his hammock, and on waking 
in the morning he found a wound, evidently caused by one 
of them, on his hip. There were altogether four species. One 
of them (the Dysopes perotis) has enormously large ears, and 
measures two feet from tip to tip of the wings. The natives, 
however, assured him that it was the phyllostoma which had 
inflicted the wound, and they asserted that it is the only 
kind which attacks man. But Mr. Bates considers that 
several kinds of bats have this propensity. 

Darwin, when travelling in Chili, noticing that one of the 
horses was very restive, went to see what was the matter ; 
and fancying that he could distinguish something, put his 
hands on the beast's withers, and discovered a vampire-bat. 
In the morning, the place where the wound had been inflicted 
was easily distinguished by being slightly swollen and bloody. 

Waterton describes the mode in which the vampire -bat 
makes the orifice through which to suck its victim's blood. 
It does so by pressing gently the point of its sharp projecting 
teeth, noiselessly circling round, and making them act the 
part of a centre-bit, — performing the operation so quietly 
that no pain is felt. He says, however, that at times they 
commit a good deal of mischief A young Indian boy suf- 
fered greatly by being frequently attacked ; and the son of an 
English gentleman was bitten so severely on the forehead, 
that the wound bled freely on the following morning. The 
fowls also suffered so terribly that they died fast ; and an 
unfortunate jackass on whom they had set their fancy was 
almost killed by inches. 

The vampire rises in the air by means of a wide flattened 

440 BATS. 

membrane connecting the whole of the Hmbs and tail, the 
thumb of the fore-paws and the hind-feet alone being left 
free. This membrane, though wonderfully delicate, is fur- 
nished with minute blood-vessels. It also possesses a system 
of nerves of the most exquisite power of sensation, which 
enables it to fly rapidly among the boughs and foliage, avoid- 
ing all impediments even in the darkest hours of night. The 
vampire can run along the gTound and climb trees by means 
of the sharp hooks on the fore-paws. They sleep, however, 
like ordinary bats, hanging by their hind-feet — being thus 
able at a moment's notice to take to flight. 

Of the other species, some have the fur of a blackish colour, 
some of a ruddy hue. 

When fl3"ing, the larger ones wheel heavily round and 
round, somewhat in the manner of a pigeon, so that they may 
easily be mistaken for birds. Although they live largely on 
insects, they also greedily devour fruits ; indeed, some species 
live chiefly on them. Bates opened the stomach of several, 
and found them to contain a mass of pulp and seeds of fruit, 
mingled with a few remains of night insects. On comparing 
the seeds taken from their stomachs with those of cultivated 
trees, he found that they were unlike any of them : he con- 
cludes, therefore, that they resort to the forest to feed, coming- 
only to human habitations in the morning to sleep, where 
they find themselves more secure from animals of prey than 
in their natural abodes in the woods. 




HE American monkeys consist of two chief families, 
— the Cebidae, and the Midas or Marmosets, — 
which are again separated into tliirteen genera, 
consisting of about eighty -six species, greatly diversified 
among tliemselves. In America neither Pithecidse or Lemurs 
are found: tliey exclusively inhabit the Old World. 

The CebidcB have thirty-six teeth ; the Marmosets possess 
but thirty-two : three of them, however, are pre-molar, as are 
three of those of the CebidtB, thus distino-uishino- them both 
from all the forms of the Old World. 

The Marmosets are a low type of apes — their brain being 
smooth, and they having claws instead of nails ; but from 
their intelligent-looking countenances, and their gentle, playful 
disposition, they appear to have as much sense as the larger 

The American monkeys differ greatly in size and form. 
The largest — the savage black howler — is nearly two feet 



and a half in length of trunk ; while the beautiful timid 

marmoset is so small 
that it may be in- 
closed in the two 
hands. Some have 
tails twice the length 
of their bodies ; the 
caudal appendages 
of others appear to 
have been docked, 
or are altogether 
absent. The long 
tails of some are 
prehensile, and have 
^, a smooth surface, 
which enables them 
to employ it as a 
\V\ fifth hand ; others 
^^5 are covered with 
thick bushy hair, 
and are employed 
apparently only in 
balancing the ani- 
mal. When night 
comes they roll 
--£-^ themselves into a 
ball, huddled to- 
of ether as close as 
may be, to keep 
themselves warm. Sometimes it happens that a few little 
monkeys have not been alert enough to get into the ball, and 



are left shivering outside. They keep up a pitiful howling 
the whole night through. 

One family — the Marmosets — have, as has been remarked, 
claws instead of nails. Others are covered with short, coarse 
hair ; while others, again, have coats of a long, soft silky 

Some sport among the branches, seeking their food in the 
daytime ; others, again, only come forth from the hollows of 
trees, where they have their beds during the night season — 
their eyes being formed, like those of owls, incapable of meet- 
ing the glare of day. 

It is remarkable that the smallest of all — the Hapali. 
pygm?eus, measuring onl}^ seven inches in length of body — 
is among the most widely dispersed, having found its way 
into Mexico : the only monkey known to have wandered far 
from the gTeat river-plain. 

All the monkeys of the New World are arborial ; as, indeed, 
are many of the animals which, in other parts of the world, 
live entirely on the ground. They are mostly furnished with 
long, prehensile tails. Some have the under part of the ex- 
tremity perfectly smooth, so as to serve the purpose of a fifth 
hand, by which the creatures can swing themselves from 
bough to bough, and hold on securely while their four hands 
are actively employed. On passing through an Amazonian 
forest, sometimes the branches of the trees are seen alive 
with active little creatures swinging backwards and forwards, 
climbing up the sipos with the agility of seamen on the rig- 
ging of a ship, scamj^ering along the boughs, playing all sorts 
of antics, or engaged in j)lucking the juicy fruit or hard luits 
to be found in ample abundance, even on the tallest monarchs 
of the woods. 




Among tlie most curious of the monkey tribe are the 
ateles, or spider-monke3^s, — called also Cebid?e, and, by the 
natives sapajous, one of the species of the coaita, or quata. 
As they are seen gambolling among the trees, with their long 
limbs, and still longer tails, ever actively employed, theii" 


resemblance to huge spiders is remarkable. Not that the 
creature is always in a state of activity, for it will often sit 
swinging slowly backwards and forwards, or place itself in 
the oddest of attitudes without moving a limb, as if resting 
after its exertions, or, in a contemplative mood, watching the 


proceedings in the world below. Sometimes a whole colony 
may thus be seen, when the native huntsman, approaching 
with his deadly blow-pipe, can without difficulty pick them 
off one by one, and secure his prey. But let them be 
alarmed, and away they go through the forest, swinging 
themselves from bough to bough, at a rate which no other 
creature, without wings, can exceed. 

In the spider -monkeys, the tail, as a prehensile organ, 
reaches its highest degree of perfection, and they may there- 
fore be considered as the extreme development of the Ameri- 
can type of apes. Their tails are endowed with the most 
wonderful degree of flexibility. They are always in motion — 
except when the animal is perfectly at rest — coiling and un- 
coiling themselves, like the trunks of elephants, seeking to 
grasp, apparently, whatever comes within their reach. 

The coaita can apply its tail to all sorts of uses. So deli- 
cate is its touch, that one would almost think it possessed the 
power of sight. Should it discover a nest of eggs or any 
creature in a crevice too small for its paw to enter, it inserts 
the end of its tail and hooks out the tit-bit. 

The animal is of considerable size, and is covered with 
coarse black hair — with the exception of the face, parts of which 
are of a tawny flesh-coloured hue. There are various species, 
each of which has its peculiar district ; and they vary slightly 
in appearance. 

In the neighbourhood of Obydos, the Ateles paniscus has 
its abode ; while in the Upper Amazon the white-whiskered 
coaita (Ateles marginatus) takes its place. It is remarkable 
that animals which apparently have the means of moving 
without difficulty at a rapid rate in any direction should tluis 
be confined to particular localities. 



The chemeck appears to have a wider range. It possesses 
a thumb, shghtly projecting, and furnished with a nail — 
though the thumb cannot be used like that of a human being, 
as it is incapable of being opposed to the fingers. It is a gentle 
creature, and capable of considerable cultivation. Although 
playfully inclined, it is seldom spiteful ; while its disposition is 
very different from that exhibited by the capricious temper of 
the Old World monkeys. It soon learns to distinguish its 
friends ; and will playfully pretend to attack them, but never 
does any real harm. It is covered with a long fur, which falls 
densely over the body ; as is its tail, which at once distingiiishes 
it from its relatives. The ear is somewhat similar to that of 
man, but has no lower lobe. The nostiils open at the sides, 
and are separated by a wide piece of cartilage. The habits, 
however, of the ateles, are so similar, that they require no 
separate description. 

Wandering through the forest with an Indian guide, we 
reach an igarape or stream, where the lofty branches of the 
trees do not completely meet overhead, but where the opening- 
is as yet of no gTeat width. Lying concealed, we hear a 
strange chattering and rustling among the foliage in the dis- 
tance. Pieces of rotten wood, husks, and nuts come dropping 
down, and we may see the boughs alive with numberless dark- 
haired little creatures, their long lithe tails twisting and twirl- 
ing, their active limbs stretched out in all directions, as they 
make their way through the forest. We recognize them as a 
troop of ateles, migrating to some other district, or on some 
expedition in search of food. 

On reaching the boughs above the banks of the stream, 


they seem somewhat puzzled. Several of the elders of the 
tribe go to the outer ends of the boughs, and appear to be 
measuring the distance across. As they have an especial dis- 
like to wetting their hairy skins — although they would un- 
doubtedly swim if no other means could be found of getting 
to the opposite bank — they have devised a method more 
suited to their tastes. They leap from bough to bough, till 
they find one projecting in a line with the trunk or branch of 
any tree inclining over the water from the opposite side. 
The larger and stronger members of the tribe now assemble, 
leaving the younger ones to gambol and frisk about among 
the boughs, and amuse themselves in juvenile monkey fashion. 
One monkey — the Hercules probably of the tribe — twist- 
ing his tail round the outer end of the branch, now hangs by 
it with his head downwards, at his full length. Another 
descends by the body of the first, round which he coils his 
tail. A third adds another link to the chain : and thus, one 
by one they increase its length, till the surface of the water 
is almost reached. The chain now begins to oscillate back- 
wards and forwards towards the opposite bank, each move- 
ment increasing the length of the arc, till the lower monkey, 
with fore-arms outstretched, reaches the stem of the tree on 
the opposite bank. He grasps it tightly, gradually clamber- 
ing up, and drawing the line composed of his comrades after 
him, till the monkey immediately below him is also able to 
seize the trunk, and assist in dragging up the rest. They 
thus form an almost horizontal bridge above the water. The 
rest of the agile tribe, now summoned from their sports, 
begin to cross ; the younger ones, in the exuberance of their 
spirits, taking the opportunity of playing all sorts of pranks 
during their passage over the bodies of their self-sacrificing 



elders — giving many a sly pinch of the ear, or pull of the 
hair, for which they well know they cannot at the moment 
receive punishment. Thus the whole party — the mothers 
with their infants on their backs, and the other juvenile mem- 


bers — cross in safety, and assemble among the branches to 
watch the further proceedings. 

The gi-eat difficulty now appears to be for the individuals 
composing the bridge to get across without touching the 


water. Trusting to the muscular power of their tails and 
limbs, tliey appear in no way davnited. The monkeys whicli 
have liitheito formed the lower links of the chain, still hold- 
ing on by their tails to their friends, work their way up the 
trunk and along a branch of equal or greater height than 
that on the opposite side, to which the long-enduring Hercules 
has hitherto clung. On their attaining the point selected, he 
at length unwinds his tail, and swings downwards — with a 
force which seems sufficient to dislocate the limbs of those 
holding on above — and now becomes the lowest in the line. 
The force with which he has descended enables him to swing 
towards the side which his comrades have reached, and to 
grasp the trunk, up which he also climbs, till his neighbour 
can catch hold of it. He follows his example, till all, one 
after the other, have grasped it : and thus they perform an 
operation which the most renowned of human athletes would 
find it difficult to imitate. 

A troop will cross a gap in the forest in the same wa}^, 
rather than venture down from the leafy heights they find it 
safest to occupy. When compelled to descend to the ground, 
they scuttle over it in the most awkward manner — their long 
limbs straggling out, and their tails in vain seeking some 
object to grasp. On these occasions the spider-monkey turns 
its hind-feet inwards, and thus walks on the outer sides, 
while the fore-paws are twisted outward ; thus throwing the 
whole of its weight upon their inner edges. It is when thus 
seen tliat the appropriateness of the name given to it is more 
especially observed. When hard-pressed, however, the know- 
ing little animal, finding no bough round which to coil its tail, 
rears itself up on its hind-limbs, and balances itself by curl- 
ing up its tail in the form of the letter 8, as high as its head ; 

(379) 29 


thus — by altering the centre of gravity — being enabled to get 
over the ground in a posture such as no other member of its 
tribe can maintain. It will thus run on towards some friendly 
stem or low-hanging bough, which it seizes with its lithe 
and prehensile limb, and joyfully swings itself up in its usua] 
monkey fashion, quickly disappearing amid the foliage. 

The ordinary size of the coaita's body is about a foot from 
the nose to the root of the tail, while the tail itself is rather 
more than two feet in length. 


Seated among the boughs may often be seen, in the forests 
of the Upper Amazon, a number of large, stout-bodied, fat- 
paunched monkeys, with long flexible tails, furnished under- 
neath with a naked palm, like the hand, for gTasping. Their 
faces are black and wrinkled, their foreheads low, and eye- 
brows projecting ; their features bearing a wonderful resem- 
blance to those of weather-beaten old ne2:roes. The heads of 
some are covered with black hair, and otheis with gTa}^. 
They are called by the Portuguese macacos havrigudos, or 
big-bellied monkeys. They belong to the species of Lago- 
thrix, and are closely allied to the coaitas. They are bulky 
fellows, and thougli able, by means of their prehensile tails, 
to get along at a good rate among the boughs, seldom trouble 
themselves to move rapidly. 

With the exception of the black howler, which will be de- 
scribed anon, they are the largest monkeys in America — their 
bodies measuring about twenty-eight inches in height. Their 
flesh being highly esteemed by the natives, they are unceas- 
ingly hunted by the Indians. Though their manners are some- 
what grave, yet, from their mild and confiding temper — similar 

THE UAKARI. 4 '-3 

to that of the coaitas — they are much sought after for pets. 
They live exclusively on fruits. 


On the western side of the River Yapura, near where it 
pours its waters into the Amazon — a forest region inundated 
during the greater part of the year — there lives in small 
ti-oops, high up among the crowns of the lofty trees, — where 
it feeds on fruits of various descriptions, — a small, almost tail- 
less monkey, its face glowing with the most vivid scarlet hue. 
Its body, about eighteen inches in height, exclusive of limbs, 
is clothed from head to tail with very long, straight, shining, 
whitish hair. Its head, nearly bald, is sprinkled over with a 
short crop of thin gray hair ; whilst round its ruddy counte- 
nance, bushy whiskers, of a sandy colour, meet under the chin. 
It has reddish-yellow eyes. It belongs to the Cebidcie fomil}^ 
The Indians call it the white uakari. It inhabits, as far as 
is known, no other district. 

In spite of its want of tail, it is an active little creature, 
running up and down the larger branches, but seldom leaping 
Irom one to the other. The mothers, as is the custom with 
the other monkey orders, carry their young on their back. 
They arc highly valued as pets ; but being of a delicate con- 
stitution, seldom live long when transported from their native 

The native hunter, on wishing to obtain one of these 
creatures alive, goes forth with his blow-pipe, and arrows 
tipped with diluted wourali poison. This poison, though pro- 
ducing so deadly an effect on animals, as well as human beings 
who exist without salt, appears to have little or no effect on 
salt-consuming Euroi)eans. Salt, indeed, is the great antidote 

29 B 


to the poison. The hunter, in consequence, supplies himself 
with a small quantity of salt. As soon as he has shot a 
monkey, he follows it through the forest, till, the poison be- 
ginning to take effect, it falls exhausted into his arms. He 
then immediately puts a pinch of salt in its mouth, and in a 
short time the creature revives, and is led away captive. If 
old, however, when thus caught, it appears to be discontented 
in confinement, and, seldom becoming tame, in a short time 
pines away and dies. When a young one is thus caught, it 
frequently becomes a playful and interesting pet, and is highly 
valued by the Brazilians. 

Further to the west, an allied species of this monkey is 
found, clothed with red instead of white hair ; Avhile, at a still 
greater distance, a black-faced and gray -haired species takes 
the place of the two former. 


The voyager up the Amazon, or one of its numerous tribu- 
taries, when his montaria has been moored to the banks, a fire 
lighted to keep prowling jaguars or pumas at a respectful 
distance, his hammock hung up in his temporaiy hut, and he 
is expecting to enjoy a quiet night's rest, is, ere long, often 
awoke by the sound of the most fearful howling proceeding 
from the recesses of the forest. Now it sounds like the di^ead- 
ful roar of the jaguar as it springs on its prey. Now it 
changes to the terrible and deep-toned growlings of the wild 
beast as he is pressed on all sides by his foes, and now it 
seems like his last dying moan beneath a mortal wound. 
Nothing can be more dismal or dispiriting than the fearful 
uproar. Hour after houi' it goes on during the night, increas- 
ing as the dawn approaches. Now the howls come from one 



direction, now from another, and in far-off parts of the forest. 
Yet, tenitic as they appear, they are produced by anhnals not 
much larger than a full-ofrown fox. It is the mvcetes, or 
ursine howler — the lai'gest monkey of South America. 


On advancinoj into the forest in the mornino-, three or four 
may be seen seated on the upper branches of a tree — shaggy- 
haired animals, with long prehensile tails like those of the 
spider-monkeys — hideous-looking creatures, with pyramidical 


heads, the upper jaw descending much below the cranium, 
while the branches of the lower one ascend very high, for the 
purpose of containing a bon}^, drum-shaped expansion of the 
larynx, which gives to its voice that prodigious volume of 
sound which makes night hideous. 

They differ somewhat in colour. Some are entirely black, 
others brownish-black, while the Mycetes ursinus is of a shiny 

These unmusical bowlings are supposed by some naturalists 
to be merely the nocturnal serenades of lover mycetes ad- 
dressed to their mistresses, seated high on the branches in 
some distant part of the forest ; others regard them rather as 
noises which serve to intimidate their enemies, though not 
emitted in s^eneral for anv sudden alarm. 

The female howder carries its vouno- on its back. It is the 
least attractive in appearance of its western brethren, and is 
the onlv one of the monkev tribe which the natives are un- 
able to tame. Though often caught, they do not survive 
many weeks in captivity. It lives on fruits and nuts, and is 
hunted for the sake of its flesh, which, though rather dry, irf 
much esteemed. The natives entrap this monkey in a curious 
fashion. They take a large nut, and scraping out the interior, 
leave only a small mouth, and, filling it with sugar, leave it 
near the trees inhabited by the mycetes. The inquisitive 
monkey soon descends to examine the nut, and putting in his 
hand, grasps the sweet contents. Knowing that it is well- 
suited to his taste, he will not let go, but runs off with his 
prize, which greatly impedes his progress. Although he might 
easily draw out his hand by opening it, this he does not think 
of doing ; and thus, unable at the best to move rapidly over a 
level surface, is soon overtaken by the liunter, and captured. 



THE CUXIO (bearded SAKI). 

Among the host of curiously shaped, long-tailed, active 
little monkeys which inhabit the American forests, the cuxio 
is one of the most remarkable. Its general colour is a grizzly- 
brown ; but the head, limbs, and tail, are black. As the 
passer-by sees the odd little creature gazing down on him, he 
might fancy that it had 
just escaped from the 
hands of the iDervuqmev. 
The black hair of its head 
is parted carefully on 
either side. Its enormous 
black beard seems as if 
just freshly dressed; while 
its bushy tail looks as 
if equally cared for. Not- 
withstanding its some- 
what fierce and Turk-like 
visage, it lives a respect- 
able, domestic life, with 
one partner alone — the 
sharer of its home — en- 
gaged in the task of rear- 
ing its infant progeny. 
She is not of so dark a colour as her mate, her hair being 
chiefly of a rusty-brown. 

The odd little creature's head is of a round form, and con- 
siderable size, gi^eatly increased in appearance by the amount of 
hair which surrounds it. The nostrils are wide, and divided by 
an unusually large cartilage. It is furnished with large jaws. 



and teeth so sharp that it has been seen to drive them, when 
angiy, into a thick plank. When in- a rage it gi'inds them 
together, and, rubbing its long beard in a most curious way, 
leaps about in every direction. At the slightest cause of 
offence, it gives a savage grin, wrinkling the skin of its face 
and jaws, and threatening the offender with the most men- 
acing grimaces. 

It seems perfectly conscious of the unusual adornment of 
its head, treasuring its bushy beard with as much care and 
pride as does a human exquisite. When drinking, it dips its 
paw, curved into the shape of a spoon, into the water, and 
thus brings the liquid to its mouth. The natives declare that 
it does so to avoid the risk of wetting its long beard, of which — 
being generally destitute of such appendages themselves — they 
fancy it must be excessively vain. As it is chiefly nocturnal 
in its habits, it might be classed among the Nyctipitheci, or 
night monkeys. From its fierce countenance, long, sharp teeth, 
and savage temper, it has gained its second scientific name 
— Brachyuras Satanus. 


The cacajao is a curious contrast to the cuxio. It is called 
also the black-headed saki. Unlike most of its brethren, it 
has but a short, hairy tail, looking as if it had been docked. 
The head is perfectly black, somewhat flattened at the temples, 
with large ears approaching in shape to those of the human 
head, and devoid of hair. The fur on the body is generally 
of a bright yellowish-broAvn. When full-grown, the animal 
reaches to upwards of twenty inches in length, while the tail 
is from three to five inches long. Its legs are covered with 
rough hair, and iis fingers are unusually long and slender, 


giving it an awkward appearance when feeding. In captivity 
it is a docile and peculiarly timid animal. A little creature 
which had been caught exhibited great alarm at the appear- 
ance of several small monkeys of its own country ; and when 
a serpent was placed before its eyes, it trembled violently. 

It is found on the borders of the Negi'o, where it is known 
by several names — among others, as the mono faio, or ugly 


The most active, playful, and amusing of animals are the 
midas monke^^s, which form the second family of American 
Quadrumana, several species of which exist, each in its respec- 
tive district. As they are seen gambolling among the branches, 
— now running round and round the trunk of a perpendicular 
tree, now with theii' sharp claws rapidly mounting the branches, 
sending down showers of rotten bark and twigs, and uttering 
sharp twittering cries, — they might be mistaken for a troop of 

They are restless, inquisitive little creatures, possessed of a 
large share of curiosity. When a stranger is passing through 
the forest, they mvariably stop for a few moments to have a 
stare at him. 

Though in no way related to squin^els, which belong to 
the rodent order, they may easily be mistaken for them at a 
distance. They are all of small size, and very similar, in their 
mode of climbing, to squirrels. Their nails, also, except those 
of the hind-thumbs, are long and claw-shaped ; and the thumbs 
of the fore extremities, or hands, are not o})})0.sable to the 
other finc^ers. Their, bodies are lono- and slender, clothed with 
soft hair; and their tails, though not prehensile, are nearly 
twice the length of their bodies. 



The midas ursulus is found in the Lower Amazon^ fre- 
quently in the neighbourhood of towns, and it seems much 
less afraid of man than most other monkeys. It is seldom 
that more than three or four individuals are seen too-ether. 
It moves generally among the larger boughs and trunks 
of trees, its long nails assisting it to cling securely to the 

It lives on both animal and vegetable food; the former in- 
cluding various insects, eggs, and occasionally a young bird — 
while its vegetable diet consists of all the sweetest fruits it 
can find. The smaller insects — flies, and other soft-bodied 
creatures — it pops into its mouth whole ; but when eating a 
larger one — such as a cockroach — it nips off the head, wings, 
and legs, before putting it into its mouth. 

It has gained the name of oustiti, in consequence of its 
giving vent to a little sharp whistle when alarmed or irritated ; 
but it otherwise generally preserves silence. 

The midas ursulus is about nine inches long ; and the tail 
measures fifteen inches. It is clothed in a thick, long fur, 
and has a reddish-brown streak down the middle of the back. 

It is often seen in the houses at Para, and when treated 
kindly becomes very tame and familiar. When, however, 
strangers approach it, its dark, watchful eyes, expi-essive of 
distrust, observe every movement A\'hich takes place. 


Another species, the Midas Iconinas, or Jacchus Rosalia, 
inhabits the Upper Amazon. It is only seven inches in 
length. It is so named on account of the lomi' I'rown mane 


which hangs from the neck, and gives it very much the ap- 
pearance of a diminutive lion. 

One of these little creatures, kept tame, became familiar 
with every one, and used to climb up the chairs, over their 
shoulders and heads, just as a squirrel does. Mr. Bates relates 
that one he met with, having reached his shoulder, looked 
into his face, showing his little teeth, and chattering, as though 
it would say, "Well, and how do you do?" It exhibited 
more affection towards its master than to strangers, and would 
climb up to his head a dozen times in an hour, and mako 
great show of searching for certain animalcule©. 

Audubon the natm^alist possessed a little creature of this 
species, which could distinguish different objects depicted in 
an engraving. On showing it the portrait of a cat and a 
wasp, it became much terrified ; but when the figure of a 
grasshopper or beetle was placed before it, it precipitated itself 
on the picture, as if to seize them. 

Another, which belonged to a lady, used, when angry, to 
pull at her hair, and nibble the ends of her ringlets. It also 
possessed the accomplishment of being abla to stand on its 

It is certainly one of the most beautiful of its tribe. It is 
covered with long glossy locks of a bright and lustrous chest- 
nut, having a golden sheen, almost var^^ing in texture with 
the fine fibres of unwoven silk. The colour darkens some- 
what on the paws. The fur is everywhere long, but on the 
head and shoulders it is of extraordinary length in proportion 
to the size of the animal, which has thus oained a name verv 
inappropriate to its disposition, as it is an especially timid 
little creature, and unable to do l)attle with any foe. It is, 
however, so active and clever in hiding itself, that it is 


enabled to escape from its enemies. When pleased, its voice 
is soft and gentle ; but when angry or tenified, it utters a 
somewhat sharp hiss. 


Among the rarest of the tribe is the Midas argentatus, 
measuring onl}^ seven inches in length of body. It resembles 
a little white kitten, — being covered with long white silky 
hair. The tail, however, is blackish, ajid the face nearly 
-naked and flesh-coloured. The eyes, which are black, are 
full of cmiosity and mistrust ; and one seen in captivity — ex- 
cept Avhen in the arms of its owner — shrank back and trembled 
with fear, while its teeth chattered, and it uttered a tremulous, 
frightened tone, at the approach of a stranger. 


The most attractive little creatures in the American forests 
are the capucins, the best known of which is the Sai capuci- 
nus. Their tails, though covered with hair, are prehensile. 
They are active and lively in the exti'eme, leaping about from 
bough to bough, and eagerly watching all that goes forward 
in the world below, There are several species of similar 
habits, their quaint ways and general intelligence making 
them all gTeat favourites when tamed. They live chiefly on 
vegetable food, but they devour insects and eggs, and do not 
object to a bird when they can manage to catch one. 


The horned capucin, or sapajou (Cebus fatuellus), is remark- 
able for two points of hair which stand out from the forehead, 
and give it the appearance of having honis. The colour is 


sometimes of a deep brown, and at others of a piir|»lo-l)lack, 
while occasionally it has a chestnut tint. 


The hair of the common capucin is of a golden olive, with 
white fur bordering the face. 

These curious little creatures are noted for forming a fiiend- 
ship with other animals when in captivity. Baron Humboldt 
mentions one which used to mount on the back of a pig every 
morning, and continued sitting there durmg the whole of the 
day ; and even when the pig went out feeding on the campos, 
it still kept its seat, riding back again in the evening to its 
home. Others have been known to choose cats for their 
steeds, and 2)erseveringly to keep their hold in spite of their 
active movements — seeming to enjoy them as much as the 
llanero does those of a colt he is ena-ao-ed in breakino- in. 

o o o 


On the dry lands to the north of the Upper Amazon, a 
little timid inoffensive monkey is found with a long bear-like 
coat of speckled gi*ay hair. The long fur hangs over its heax:!, 
half concealing a })leasing diminutive face ; the tail — to the 
very tip — which is of some length, is also completely covered. 


There are two more species— the Pithecia hiisuta and the 
Pithecia albicans. They arc especially capable of attachment 
to those who treat them kindly. Being somewhat dull and 
cheerless, they seldom indulge in the usual sportive move- 
ments of their race. 

Mr. Bates relates that a friend of his possessed one of these 


little creatures. His friend, accompanied by the monkey, 
was in the habit of paying him a daily visit. One day 
the little animal, having missed its master, concluded, as 
it seemed, that he had gone to his house, and accordingly 
came straight to it, taking a short cut over gardens, trees, and 
thickets. This it had never done before ; they learned it, 
however, from a neighbour who had observed its movements. 
On arrivino' at Mr. Bates's house and not observino- its 
master, it climbed to the top of the table, and sat with an 
air of quiet resignation waiting for him. Shortly afterwards 
he arrived, and the gladdened pet then jumped to its usual 
perch on his shoulder. 


There is another genus of light and graceful little monkeys, 
known by the name of Callithrix, or '' beautiful hair." Among 
them is the Saimiri, or teetee, of which there are several 
species. The collared teetee is among the most attractive — 
Callithrix torquatus. The general colour is a gTayish-olive, 
the limbs looking as if washed with a rich golden hue. The 
ears are white, and the body whitish-gi^ay. The tip of the 
long tail is black. 

They are very engaging little creatures, and possess an in- 
telligence which makes them the most attractive of their race. 
Their temper, too, is amiable, and they are never known to 
get into a passion. Their countenances express almost an 
infantine innocence, and this exhibits itself especially when 
the creatures are alarmed. Tears fill their hazel eyes ; and, 
with imploring gestures, they seem to claim the protection 
of their human friends. They have also a curious habit of 
watching the lips of those who address them, as if they could 


understand what is. spoken; and apparently wishing the better 
to comprehend their master, they will place their fingers on 
his lips in the most attractive, confiding way. 

The creature's long tail possesses no prehensile power, Lut 
it appears to use it as a lady does a boa, — coiling it round its 
body to keep itself warm. 


When travelling through some parts of the Amazonian forests, 
and looking up into an ancient tree, a number of little striped 
faces crowding a hole in the trunk may suddenly be seen gaz- 
ing inquisitively down at the intruder who has disturbed their 
noonday sleep. These are Nyctipitheci, or night apes, which 
the Indians call ei-a, and are named also Douroucouli. Sleep- 
ing soundly during the day in some dark hollow, out of 
harm's way, they come forth at night to prey on insects or 
small birds, which they hunt and capture, — as well as fruit. 
The body of the creature is about a foot long, and the tail 
fourteen inches, thickly covered with soft gi'ay and brown fur. 
Its face is round, and encircled by a ruff of whitish fur. The 
forehead is of a light colour, and adorned with three black 
stripes, — which in one species meet at the top of it, and in 
another continue to the cro^Ti ; the muzzle is somewhat flat, 
and the mouth and chin small. The ears are very short, 
scarcely appearing above the hair of the head ; and the eyes 
are large and of a yellowish colour, imparting that staring 
expression observed in owls or night animals. From this 
they have obtained the name of owl-faced night apes. The 
creature has nails of the ordinary form to its fingers, and semi- 
opposable thumbs ; but the molar teeth are studded with shai-p 
points, show^ing that it lives chiefly on insects. 

(379) 30 


Though in the daytime it appears torpid and dull, yet at 
night, shaking off its drowsiness, its large dull eyes, which 
shrunk from the rays of the sun, are full of eager animation 
as it sets off in quest of its prey. So active and quick- 
sighted is it, that it catches the rapidly -flying insects as they 
flit by, or chases the beetles as they run over the bark of the 
trees on which it lives. 

Mr. Bates describes a tame one he met with, which was 
excessively confiding in its disposition, very lively and nimble, 
and in no way mischievous. It delighted to be caressed by 
all persons who came into the house. It used to sleep in the 
hammock of its owner, or nestle in his bosom half the day as 
he lay reading. From the cleanliness of its habits, and the 
prettiness of its features and ways, it was a great favourite 
with every one. He himself had a similar pet, which was 
kept in a box, in which was placed a broad-mouthed glass 
jar. Into this it would dive when any one entered the room, 
and, turning round, thnist forth its inquisitive face to stare 
at the intruder. It was very active at night, giving vent at 
intervals to a hoarse cry, like the suppressed bark of a dog, 
and scampering about the room after cockroaches and spiders. 
Although it preferred insects, it ate all kinds of fruit, bui 
would not touch either raw or cooked meat. Its brothers, 
when let loose about the house, are very useful in clearing the 
chambers of bats, as well as insects and vermin. 

It is monogamous. The ei-a and its wife may often be dis- 
covered together tending their small family in some holloAV 
trunk. Its cry is wonderfully loud, considering its small size ; 
and curious as it may seem, is not unlike the roar of the 
jaguar. It can also hiss or spit in the fashion of an angiy 
cat, while it utters a curious mew resembling the same crea- 


ture. It sometimes gives a guttural, short, and rapidly-repeated 

There are several species of night monkeys with very simi- 
lar habits. 

It is difficult, except when they are in captivity, to obtain 
a correct idea of the habits of these interesting little animals, 
— though, of course, when they are tamed, they must abanddh 
some of those they possessed in a state of nature. Of their 
dispositions, however, a very fair notion may be formed from 
the way they behave when in captivity. The above descrip- 
tions refer only to a few of the numerous species of monkeys 
which exist in the South American forests, but as typical 
forms have been selected, a tolerable idea of the whole may 
be obtained. 




OST of the humming-birds found on the banks of the 
Amazon belong to the genus Phsethomis ; i-emark- 
able for their long, graduated tails, the central 
feathers of which greatly exceed the others. Their nests are 
curious and beautiful, being formed in a long funnel-like shape, 
tapering below to a slender point. They are woven with 
great delicacy, and attached to some twig, or hanging leaf, by 
means of spider's webs. They are lined with a soft silky 
cotton fibre ; and composed, externally, of a woolly kind of 
furze, bound together with which appears also to be spider's 

One of the largest is the Eupetomena macrom^a, with a 
swallow tail, and a livery of brilliant emerald green and steel 
blue. When feeding, it remains a shorter time than usual 
poised in the air before the flowers, frequently perching, and 
occasionally darting after small insects flying by. 

When the orange-trees become fully covered with flowers, 
the humming-birds appear in vast numbers. Their motions 



are totally unlike those of other birds. So quickly do they 
dart backwards and forwards, that the eye can hardly follow 
them. Even when poising themselves before a flower, with 
such inconceivable rapidity do their wings move, that even 
then their bright colours are scarcely perceptible; and anon 
they shoot off to sip the nectar 
from another cup. Unlike the 
systematic way in which bees 
proceed, they seem to delight 
in darting, now in one direc- 
tion, now in the other ; now 
for a moment they perch on 
a spray, probing, as they sit, 
the flowers nearest to them ; 
then again they fly off, in their 
eccentric course, to another 

'' Wherever a creeping vine 
opens its fragrant cluster, or 
wherever a flower blooms, 
may these little things be 
seen," writes Edwards, in his 
usual graphic way ; ''in the 
garden, or in the woods, over 
the water, everywhere, 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 the size of the bee's- — buzzino- about. 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, 
and then dart off like light to some distant attraction. 
Perched upon a little twig, they smooth their plumes, and 
seem to delight in their dazzling hues ; then, starting oft' 
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 seen 
often to interfere provokingly. Like lightning our little heroes 
would come down, but the coat of shining mail would ward 
off 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 which drove the invaders from the field." 

Bates remarks, that he several times shot, by mistake, a 
humming-bird hawk-moth, instead of a biixl. This moth 
(Macroglossa Titan) is smaller than humming-birds generally 
are, but its manner of flight, and the way it poises itself 
before the flower whilst probing it with its proboscis, are pre- 
cisely like the same actions of humming-birds. This resem- 
blance has attracted the notice of the natives, who firmly 
believe that one is transmutable into the other. The resem- 
blance between this hawk-moth and the humminof-bird is 
certainly very curious, and strikes one, even when both are 
examined in the hand. Holding them sideways, the shape of 
the head and position of the eyes in the moth are seen to be 
nearly the same as in the bird, the extended proboscis repre- 
senting the long beak. At the tip of the moth's body there 
is a brush of long hair-scales, resembling feathers, which, being 



expanded, looks very much like a bird's tail : but, of course, 
all these points of resemblance are merely superficial. 

He one day saw a little pigmy, belonging to the genus 
Phsethornis, in the act of washing itself in a brook. It was 
perched on a thin branch, whose end was under water. It 
dipped itself, then fluttered its wings, and plumed its feathers, 
and seemed thoroughly to enjoy itself alone in the shady nook 
which it had chosen. " There is no need for poets to invent," 


he adds, " while nature furnishes us with such marvellous 
little sprites ready to hand." 

But these beautiful little creatures require a separate de- 


The topaz humming-bird is perhaps the most resplendent 
and beautiful of its tribe. The fiery topaz (Topaza pyra) is 
found on the shores of the Rio Negro. The larger ])art of its 


feathers are of a blazing scarlet, which contrasts beautifully 
with the deep velvet-black of the head and part of the neck. 
The throat is emerald-green, with a patch of crimson in the 
centre. The lower part of the back, and the upper tail- 
coverts, are of a resplendent gTeen with an orange gloss ; and 
the wings and tail of purple-black, the two elongated feathers 
of the tail excepted — they being of a purplish-green. Its nest 
appears as if formed of leather, and is so cleverly woven that 
it can scarcely be distinguished from the bark or fungi grow- 
ing on the branch to which it is fixed. 


The crimson topaz, or ara humming-bird (Topaza pella), 
vies with it in beauty. Its hues are of a deeper crimson. 
The tail is of a reddish buff, except the two central feathers, 
which are of the same hue as the preceding. Unlike most 
humming-birds, it is of a shy and retiring disposition, and 
seldom ventures from among the deep shades of the forest ; 
and then only at early dawn, or late in the evening, when it 
may be seen darting across the stream in search of insects, on 
which it chiefly feeds. 


The racket-tail humming-bird (Discura longicauda) takes 
its name from the curious form of its tail, the feathers of 
which are forked, — the two exterior ones being twice the 
length of the second pair. The colour of the tail is purple- 
black ; the face, throat, and part of the neck light gTeen ; 
while under the chin there is a little velvet-black spot. The 
upper part of the body is a bronze-gTeen, and a bright buff 
band crosses ihe lower end of the back. 



The beautiful little Cayenne fairy (Heliotlirix auritus) is 
often seen flittino- amono- the flowers which adorn the trees 
near the mouth of the Amazon. It may be known by the 
snowy-white under part of its body, while the upper surface 
is of a glossy golden green, extremely light on the forehead. 
The middle feathers of the tail are blue-black, and the three 
exterior ones are white. Across each side of the face is a 
jet-black line, terminated by a small tuft of violet-blue, 
while below the black line runs a luminous green one. Few 
of these beautiful little creatures have any voice which rises 
above a mere tAvitter. 

The best sono^ster of the tribe is the Vervain hummino'-bird, 
found in the West India Islands. Those on the Amazon are 
almost mute. Small as they are, they are brave little crea- 
tures, and several of the species are tamed without difficulty. 

Mr. "Webber describes one of the means by which nature has 
gifted these little creatures of escaping the observation of their 
foes. On leaving the spot where a number had perched not 
far from their nests, he observed them shoot suddenly and 
perpendicularly into the air till they had got out of sight. 
After a time, doAvn came the hen bird, like a fiery aerolite 
from the sky, upon the very spot where she had built her 
nest, so rapidly, as almost to escape observation. 

Different species, of great varieties of form and colour, are 
found throughout the continent. Although the greater num- 
ber are confined to particular localities, others have a wide 

The Trochilus forficatus is found over a space of 2500 
miles on the west coast, from the hot, dry country of Lima to 


the forests of Tierra del Fuego, where it may be seen flitting 
about in snow-storms ; as also in the humid climate of the 
wooded island of Chiloe, where Darwin found it skimming 
from side to side amidst the drooping foliage. On the moun- 
tain heights, in the thick forests and open plains, wherever 
flowers and insects exist, there one or more species make their 
home throughout the continent. 


Lovely as are the humming-birds, the cotingas, belonging to 
the order of Passeres, and of which there are several species, 
almost rival them in beauty of plumage. The crown of one 
is of a flaming red, abruptly succeeded by a shining brown 
reaching half-way down the back. The remainder of the 
back, rump, and tail, the extremity of which is edged with 
black, is of a lively red. The belly is of a somewhat lighter 
red, the breast reddish-black, the wings brown. 

This cotinga is a solitary biixl, and uttei^ only a monoton- 
ous wliistle, which sounds like quet Another has a purple 
breast with black wings, and tail and every other part of a 
light and glossy blue. 

The pompadour cotinga has a purple body and white wings, 
their four first feathei^ tipped with brown. 

None of these have any song. The last, however, utters 
sounds something like tuallahaba. They feed on the fig, wild 
guaco, and other fruit-trees. 


Far away in the forest a singularly loud and clear note, 
like the sound of a bell, is heard ; mile after mile, and still 
the same strange note reaches the ear. A single toll ; then a 



pause for a minute, then a pause again, then a toll, and again 
a pause ; then for six or eight minutes no toll is heard ; then 
another comes strangely and solemnly amid the tall columns 
and fretted arches of the sylvan temple. Sometimes of a 
morning, and sometimes in the evening, and even when the 
meridian sun has silenced all the other songsters of the grove, 


that strange toll is heard. At length, high up on the dried 
top of an aged maura, a snow-white bird may be seen, no 
larger than a pigeon ; and yet it is the creature who is utter- 
ing those strange sounds. ^It is another species of the cotinga 
— the well-known campanero, or bell-bird. On its forehead 
rises a spiral tube nearly three inches long, which is of jet- 


black, dotted all over with small white feathers. Having a 
communication with the palate, it enables the bird to utter 
these loud clear sounds. When thus employed, and filled 
with air, it looks like a spire ; when empty, it becomes pen- 
dulous. Though, like most of its tribe, it is sometimes seen 
in flocks, it never feeds with other species of cotingas. 

The witty Sydney Smith, remarking on the account Water- 
ton gives of the campanero, observes: "This single bird then 
has a voice of more power than the belfry of a cathedral ring- 
ing for a new dean. It is impossible to contradict a gentle- 
man who has been in the forests of Cayenne ; but we are de- 
termined, as soon as a campanero is brought to England, 
to make him toll in a public place, and have the distance 

Had the witty dean been aware of the fact — stated by the 
astronomer and aeronaut, Mr. Glaisher — that a female voice is 
heard a mile further than that of the most hirsute and sturdy 
''tar," he might have been less sceptical of the powers of the 
little cotinga to make itself heard foi- the distance of three 
miles through the pure and calm air of the tropics. 


In the yearly submerged gapo forests and the plains of the 
Upper Amazon, a singularly deep and long-sustained flute- 
like sound is often heard. It might be supposed that it was 
produced by the pan-pipes used by the natives of that region. 
It is, however, the note of a bird, named by the Indians uira 
ruimheit, or fife-bird, from the peculiar tone of its voice. It 
is, from the ornament on its head — consisting of a crest, with 
long curved hairy feathers, having long bare quills, which, 
when raised, spread themselves out in the form of a fringed 



sunshade over the head — called the umbrella-bii-d (Cephalop- 
terus oniatus). It resembles in size and colour the common 
crow. In addition to this umbrella-like ornament on its head, 
it has what may be called a pelerine suspended from the neck, 
formed by a thick fan of glossy steel-blue feathers which grow 
on a long fleshy lobe or excrescence. Tin's lobe is connected 


with an unusual development of the trachea and vocal organs, 
undoubtedly^ assisting the bird to utter its strange note. While 
singing, it draws itself up on the bough, spreads widely out 
the umbrella -formed crest, waves its glossy breast lappet, and 
then, in giving vent to its loud, piping note, bows its head 
slowly forward. 


The female has only the rudiments of a crest and lappet, 
and is of a much duller colour than the male. 


Among the forest highlands at the foot of the sierras to the 
north of the Amazon, the magTiificent orange-coloured cock of 
the rocks enjoys existence. About the size of a pigeon, it 
belongs to the tribe of the diminutive manakins, most of 
which have beautiful and cuiious plumage. It, however, sur- 
passes them all. 

It has o^ained its name from the slioht external resemblance 
that it bears to the gallinaceous form. 

Its plumage is of a rich orange tint ; with the exception of 
the quill-feathers of the wings, which are of a sooty black hue, 
and those of the tail, which are brown tipped with yellow. 
On its head it wears a peculiar fan-like crest, which, over- 
hanging the forehead, extends to the back of the head, and 
which bears a strong resemblance to the plume of an ancient 
helmet. The tips of these crest-feathers are tinged mth 
brown and yellow. Between the wing and upper tail-coverts 
appear flowing plumes, which droop gTacefully over the firmer 
feathers of the tail and sides. 

Like some birds of paradise in the Eastern Archipelago, the 
cocks of the rocks assemble in numbers to perform a kind of 
dance for their amusement, selecting generally the smooth 
rocks or roots of trees, — moving here and there, round and 
round, backwards and forwards, and erecting their gorgeous 
plumes, to exhibit their beauty. Wallace observed a com- 
pany of birds engaged in this singular way, though he says 
that no females or young birds were present. 

Schombergh describes a similar scene. A troop of these 


beautiful birds was celebratinof its dances on the smooth sur- 
face of a rock. About a score of them were seated on the 
branches as spectators, while one of the male birds, ^vith 
proud self-confidence, and with spreading tail and wings, was 
dancing on the rock. He scratched the ground, or leaped 
vertically in the air ; continuing these saltatory movements 
until he was tired, when another male took his place. The 
females, meanwhile, looked on attentively, and applauded the 
performances of the dancers wdth laudatory cries. 

Wallace, in his later work on the Eastern Archipelago, 
gives an equally animated picture of the king birds of para- 
dise enjoying a similar performance on the topmost boughs 
of the most lofty trees in the Ai'u Islands. 


The golden- winged manakin — another tribe — are often seen 
perched in large flocks on the summits of the trees, or rapidly 
moving amid the branches in search of the rich fruits and 
numerous insects found in the gapo forests. 

The beautiful little troupiale, arrayed in plumage of rich 
orange and shining black, with delicate and well -shaped 
form, pours forth a variety of sweet and plaintive notes 
among the dry forest lands, and has gained from the Portu- 
guese the name of the nightingale of America. 

There is another of a smaller size, and of less rich a colour, 
which also sings melodiously. It is a fearless bird, and the 
hen builds her nest often in the roofs of cottages, while her 
mate sings for hours close by. There are several species, one 
of which (the oriolus varius) builds a curious nest like a 
basket, of a conical form, and of a loose texture ; securing it 
to the flexible end of a branch, thus enablino- it the better to 


endure the movement to which it is subjected when agitated 
by the wind. 

A fourth species flies in flocks — especially when the Indian 
maize is ripe — and is looked on with a jealous eye by the 
farmers, whom it robs, and whom it does not repay by the 
melody of its song. 


Numerous species of the goatsucker, well known as the 
bird of night, inhabit the forests of the Amazon as well as 
the settled districts. Their pretty mottled plumage is desti- 
tute of the lustre which is observed in the feathers of the 
birds of day. One is nearly the size of the common wood 
owl. Its cry once heard will never be forgotten. It seems like 
one in deep distress. " A stranger," says Waterton, " would 
never believe the sound to be the voice of a bird. He w^ould 
say it was the last groan of a midnight murdered victim, or 
the cry of Niobe for her children before she was turned into 
stone. Suppose a person in gTeat sorrow, who begins with a 
loud note, Ha, ha, ha, ha ! and so on, each note lower and 
lower, till the last is scarcely heard, pausing a moment or 
two between every note, and some idea may be formed of 
the moanino' of the laro-est goatsucker." 

Other species articulate some words so clearly, that they 
receive their names from the sentences they utter. One cries 
''Who are you? who, who, who are you?" Another bids 
you "Work away; work, work away." A third shrieks 
mournfully— -" Willy come, go Willy, Willy, Willy come, go;" 
and a fourth exclaims — "Whip poor Willy; whip, whip, whip 
poor Willy ! " Happily for it, neither the negTO nor the 
Indian — who believe it to be a bird of ill-omen — will venture 



to kill it ; supposing the bird to be the receptacle for departed 
^ouls, come back to earth, unable to rest for crimes done in 
their days of nature. 

Ignorance alone has given the goatsucker its name. When 
the moon shines bright, it may be seen close by the cows, 
goats, and sheep, jum|)ing up every now and then under their 


e/Km ^ 


bellies. " Approach a little nearer," says Waterton ; *' he is 
not shy, he fears no danger, for he knows no sin. See how 
the nocturnal flies are tormentino: the herd, and with what 
dexterity he springs up and catches them as fast as they 
alight on the bellies, legs, or udders of the animals ! Observe 
how quiet they stand, and how sensible they seem of his 




good offices ; for they neither strike at him, hit him with 
their tails, tread on him, nor try to drive him away as an 
uncivil intruder. Were you to dissect him, and inspect his 
stomach, you would find no milk there. It is full of the 
flies which have been annoying the herd. 


A species of cacique — of which there are several — like the 
blue jay of the northern part of tlie continent, is celebrated 
for its imitative powers. It is one of the handsomest in 
form of the feathered tribe, in size somewhat larger than a 
starling. On each wing it has a yellow spot ; and its rump, 
belly, and half the tail are of the same colour. All the rest 
of the body is black ; while the beak is of the colour of 

It lives on the fruits and seeds which nature has provided 
in the forest ; but wherever human habitations are found, it 
delights to take up its station on a tree close by, and there, 
for hours together, pour forth a succession of imitative notes. 
Its own song is sweet, but very short. If a toucan is yelp- 
ing in the neighbourhood, it drops its own note and imitates 
the huge-beaked bird. Then it will amuse itself with the 
cries of different species of woodpeckers ; and when the sheep 
bleat, it will distinctly answer them. Then comes its own 
song again ; and if a puppy-dog or a Guinea-fowl interrupt 
it, it takes them off admirably, — and by its different gestures 
during the time, it might be supposed that it enjoys the 

The cacique is gregarious, and is generally found in large 
flocks, — sometimes one species building their nests on one 
side of a tree, while another, with a neighbourly feeling, ap- 


pears to have selected the opposite side ; and they may be seen 
working amicably away, without interfering with each other. 
They show wonderful instinct in the selection of trees, some- 
times hanging their laige pendulous nests to the extremities 
of palm branches, that they may thus be as much as possible 
out of the reach of enemies who might attempt to take their 
young brood. Others are said to select the trees on which 
the stinging-wasps have already built their nests, as no tiger- 
cat nor reptile of any description would venture to attack such 

One species (the casicus cristatus) weaves its nest of lichens, 
bark fibres, and the filaments of the tillandsias ; another (the 
casicus ruba) of dry grasses, and always suspends it over the 
water. This has a slanting opening in the side, so that no 
rain can penetrate it. 


During the dry season, on the topmost boughs of the lofty 
trees growing on the gajx) lands, large gaily-coloured birds, 
with huge beaks of the shape of a banana or pacova, are 
perched, in bands of five or six, uttering loud, shrill, and 
yelping cries, having somewhat the resemblance to '' Tocano ! 
tocano ! tocano ! " Hence the Indians give them the name 
from which we derive toucan — a bird especially characteristic 
of the forests of Tropical America. The Brazilians also call 
them ''preacher-birds," — from their habit of lifting up their 
beaks, and clattering them together, and shouting hoarsely. 
One, mounted higher than the rest, acts either as the leader 
of the inharmonious chorus, or does the duty of sentinel. 
He keeps a bright look-out on every side, and as danger ap- 
proaches, gives a warning cry, when his companions stretch 



their necks downwards in an inquisitive manner, to ascertain 
what foe is below; and on espying the least movement among 
the foliage, fly off" to a distance. 

Sometimes the whole flock, including the sentinel, set up 
simultaneously a deafening loud yell, which can be heard a 
mile ofl", and serves to lead the hunter to their haunts. They 
are said also to mob any strange bird which gets among them, 
surrounding it, and shrieking at it in whichever way it turns ; 
so that it sees itself surrounded on all sides by huge snapping 

bills, and long tails bobljing 
regularly up and down with 
threatening gestures, till it is 
seized by its foes or manages 
to make its escape. 

It seems wonderful at first 
sight that any creature should 
be encumbered with so huge 
a beak ; but the toucan knows 
well how to use it. Though of 
great size, it is of light struc- 
ture, and seriated at the edges. In some species it attains 
to a length of seven inches, and a width of more than two 
inches. It assists the bird in climbing the branches of the 
trees on which he lives, and from which he never willingly 
descends to the ground. It enables him to seize the large 
fruits and small birds which serve him for food ; and enables 
him to chew the cud — his hu^^e tooth-bill beino- useful in 

o o 

holdino; and remasticatino; the food. 

As the flowers and fruits which crown the large trees of 
the forest gTOW principally towards the end of slender twigs, 
which would not bear his weight ; and as he has a heavy 



body, with feeble organs of flight, he cannot seize his food on 
the wing. He therefore sits on some opposite branch, eying 
the fruit which he thinks will. suit his taste, and then darting 
off* seizes a mouthful, and returns to his perch. 

Though their general diet is fruit, they also devour small 
birds and their eggs, as well, probably, as caterpillars, and the 
larvae of insects in general. Mr. Broderip describes the curious 
way in which he saw a toucan seize a small bird, pluck off 
the feathers, and having broken the bones of the wings and 
legs with his beak, continue working away till he had re- 
duced it to a shapeless mass. He then hopped from perch to 
perch, uttering a peculiar hollow, chattering noise, and began 
pulling off* piece after piece, till he had swallowed the whole, 
not even leaving the beak and legs. In a quarter of an hour 
he had finished, when he cleansed his bill from the feathers. 
After a time he returned his food into his crop, and after 
masticatino; the morsel for a while in his bill, a^'ain swal- 
lowed it. 

The bird mentioned was in captivity ; and though his food 
consisted of bread, boiled vegetables, and eggs, he shoAved a 
decided preference for animal food when given to him. 

The toucan (Ramphastos) belongs to the genus of scan- 
sorial birds. There are several species, five of which inhabit 
the forests of the Upper Amazon. The largest of that region 
is Cuvier's toucan, and is distinguished from its nearest rela- 
tives by the feathers at the bottom of the back being of a 
saff'ron hue instead of red. It lays its eggs in hollows of trees, 
at a great height from the ground, and moults between March 
and June. 

Solitary toucans are sometimes met with, hopping silently 
up and down the larger boughs, and peering into the crevices 


of tree trunks. When the gapo is flooded, they fly to the 
drier ground, assembling in large flocks, when they are easily 
shot by the hunters. The birds are then very fat, and their 
flesh sweet and tender. 

In some species the bill is nearly as large and as long as 
the body itself It is light, cellular, and irregularly notched 
at the edge, having both mandibles arched towards the tip. 
The tong-ue is also of a singular form, being narrow and 
elongated, and literally barbed like a feather. The feet are 
short — formed, like those of parrots, rather for grasping than 
for climbing ; the tail long, and the wings moderate. It has 
a straight but laborious flight, and seems awkward, except 
on the boughs, when it moves lightly and actively from 
branch to branch. When eating, it throws up its head, ap- 
parently to allow the food to fall down its throat with gTcater 
ease. WHien the toucan is at roost, it turns its long tail 
directly over its back, and thrusts its beak beneath the wing, 
so as to appear very much like a large mass of feathers. 

The common or crested toucan (Ramphastos dicolorus) in- 
habits chiefly the lower part of the Amazon. It is about 
eighteen inches in length, of a black colour, with a gloss of 
gi^een. The cheeks, throat, and fore part of the breast are 
either of a sulphur or orange-yellow. Across the lower part 
of the breast is a broad crimson bar. The rump is crimson 
or orange-yellow. The bill is of a dark olive-green, with a 
pale yellow l)ase, bounded by a thick l)ar. 

The tocano pacova has a beak of a rich glowing orange, 
with a large patch near the tip, a black line round the 
base, and a numT)er of dark red bars upon the sides. The 
body and head are black, the throat and cheeks white ; while 
the breast is of a yellow brimstone hue, edged with a line of 


blood-red. Tlic upper tail-coverts arc grayisli-wliite, nii<l tlie 
under deep crimson. A large orange circle svuTounds the 
eye, and within it is a second circle of cobalt-blue. A green 
ring incloses the pupil, with a narrow yellow ring round it. 

Cuvier's toucan inhabits the woods of the Upper Amazon. 
There are several smaller toucans, one of which (the Ptero- 
glossus liavirostris) has the most beautiful plumage, — its 
breast beino; adorned with Ijroad belts of rich crimson and 

The most curious, however, is the curly-crested toucan 
(Pteroglossus Beauharnaisii). The feathers on its head con- 
sist of thin, horny blades of a lustrous black colour, curled 
up at the ends, and resembling shavings of steel. The curl}'- 
crest assumes, indeed, the grotesque form of a coachman's 
wig dyed black, and |)roduced apparently by the tongs of the 

None of the smaller species utter the loud yelping notes of 
the larger. The cries of the curly-crested toucan are very 
sinofular, resemblin<jf somewhat the croakinof of froo'S. 

Mr. Bates had one day wounded one ; and on attempting 
to seize it, it set up a loud scream. In an instant, as if by 
magic, the wood seemed alive with its companions, who de- 
scended towards him, hopping from bough to bough, some 
of them swinging on the loops of the lianas and sipos, croak- 
ing and fluttering their wings like so many fiu^ies. Had 
he had a long stick in his hand, he could have knocked over 
several of them. The screaming of their com.panion which 
he had killed having ceased, they remounted the trees ; and 
before he could reload his gun, which he had left at a little 
distance, they had all disappeared. 

He possessed a tame toucan of one of the large species, 


which was allowed to go free about the house. Having 
chastised it for mounting his work-table, the first time it 
made the attempt, it never again repeated it. It slept on 
the top of a box in a corner of the room, with its long tail 
laid right over its back, and its beak thrust underneath its 
wing. It ate of everything — beef, turtle, fish, farina, fruit 
— and was a constant attendant at meals. It learned the 
hour to a nicety, and he found it diflicult to keep the bird 
away from the dining-room at these Hours. When it had 
become somewhat impudent and troublesome, he tried to 
shut it out in the back-yard ; but Tocano used to climb the 
fence, and hop round by a long circuit, making its appearance 
with the greatest punctuality as the meal was placed on the 
table. One day it was stolen, and given up for lost ; but 
two days afterwards it stepped through the doorway at the 
dinner-hour, with its old gait and sly magpie-like expression, 
having escaped from the house of the person who had stolen 
it, situated at the further end of the villao-e. 


While the strange, harsh voice of the goatsucker is hushed, 
the mycetes has ceased to howl, and no roar of jaguar is 
heard, a few slow, sweet, and mellow notes reach the ear, fol- 
lowing one another like the commencement of an air. The 
unimpressible natives stop their paddles as they are floating 
up an igarape to listen to the dulcet strains. The sounds 
appear to be those of a human voice ; some young girl gather- 
ing fruit in the neighbouring thicket, it would seem, warbling 
a few notes to cheer herself in her solitude. Now the tones 
])ecome more flute-like and plaintive, — now they seem to be 

* Cyphorhinus Cantans ; called also the flute-bird. 


tliose of a flageolet. It is difficult to imagine that they can be 
produced by a bird. No bird, indeed, can be seen, however 
closely the surrounding trees and bushes are scanned. Yet 
that sweet voice seems to come from a thicket close at hand. 
The listeners are silent, expecting to hear the strain com- 
pleted, but disappointment follows. An abrupt pause occurs, 
and then the song breaks down, finishing with a number of 
clicking, unmusical sounds, like a piping baiTcl-organ out of 
wind and out of tune. 

This is the organ-bird — the most remarkable songster by 
far (says Bates) of the Amazonian forests. When discovered, 
he seems habited in sober colours ; but he need not envy his 
gaily-dressed companions — while, as a songster, he remains 
unrivalled in his native woods. 


High up among the lofty boughs of the thick forest sit a 
flock of magnificent birds, each the size of a turkey. They 
are the crested curassow (Crax elector). The plumage is of a 
deep, shining black colour, reflecting purple and green shades. 
The abdomen and tail-coverts are white, but the tail is black, 
and generally tipped with white. On its head it carries a 
handsome golden crest, the feathers narrow at the base and 
broad at the tip, which it raises and depresses as it moves 
along. Its voice, far from sweet, sounds like a hoarse cough, 
and each time it utters its cry it partially spreads its feathers 
and throws up its tail. The hen, however, has another way 
of expressing herself, uttering a whining sound. 

Among the trees where they are perched are their large 
nests, roughly formed of sticks and leaves and plaits of grass. 
Their eggs, of which there are six or seven, are about the size 

490 MACAWS. 

of those of a turkey, and of a pure white. They feed on 
bananas and other fruits, as well as maize and rice. 

There are several species. One (the mitu tuberosa) has 
an orange-coloured beak, surmounted by a bean-shaped ex- 
crescence of the same hue. It lays two rough-shelled white 

Another species (the crax globicera) inhabits the Upper 
Amazon, and possesses a round instead of a bean-shaped ex- 
crescence on the beak. 

These birds are easily tamed. Bates mentions one which 
used to attend the family with whom he lived at all the 
meals, passing from one person to another round the mat to 
be fed, and rubbing the sides of its head in a coaxing way 
against their cheeks or shoulders. At night it went to roost 
in a sleeping-room — beside the hammock of one of the little 
girls, to whom it seemed to be greatly attached, following her 
wherever she went about the grounds. These birds, however, 
do not breed in captivity, and are therefore only kept by the 
Indians as pets ; though possibly they might be induced, by 
proper management, to do so, when they would prove a valu- 
able addition to the poultry-yard in England. 

In its wild state it seldom descends from the lofty trees. 


On observing the curious, powerful beak of a macaw, we at 
once see that it must be an inhabitant of a region producing 
hard fruits, which require the application of considerable 
strength to break them. At morning and evening flocks of 
this large and richlj'-plumaged bird may be observed flying 
across the streams in all directions — their loud, harsh screams 
echoing among the forests through the calm air — wheeling and 

MACAWS. 491 

turning before they alight on the tops of the palms to feed. They 
belong to the Psittacichie, or parrot tribe, and are known at 
once by the great length of their tails, and Ijy having thciir 
cheeks destitute of feathers. 

There are several species which frequent the trees growing 
on wet and swampy ground. The red and Ijlue macaw, 
the largest and handsomest of the family, is well described 
by Waterton. Rare in size and beauty among all the parrots 
of South America, the macrocercus macao will force j^ou to 
take your eyes from the rest of animated nature and gaze at 
him. His commanding strength, the flaming scarlet of his 
body, a lovely variety of scarlet, yellow, blue, and gTeen in 
his wings, the extraordinary length of his scarlet and l)lue 
tail, seem all to join and demand for him the title of Emperor 
of all the Parrots. 

When the coucourite palm-trees have ripe fruit on them, 
they are covered with tliis magnificent parrot. He is not shy 
or wary. You may take your blow-})ipe and a quiver of 
poisoned arrows, and kill more than you w^ill be able to carry 
to your hut. They are very vociferous ; and, like the common 
parrots, rise up in bodies towards sunset, and fl}^, two and 
two, to their places of rest. It is a grand sight to see thou- 
sands of aras flying over your head, low enough to let you 
have a full view of their flaming mantles. The Indians find 
the flesh very good, and the feathers serve for ornaments in 
their hea.d-dresses. 

Bates saw a flock feeding on the fruits of a Bacana i)alm, 
and looking like a cluster of flaunting banners beneath its dark 
green crown. 

They build their nests in the hollows of decayed trees, and 
lay twice in the year — generally two eggs at a time, the male 


and female alternately watching over them. They are said to 
increase the size of the hole with their powerful beaks, should 
it not be sufficiently large for their purpose. They fly to a 
distance of several miles to feed, but — like rooks in Eno-land 
— return to their homes in the evening. 

This macaw frequently measures, from the tip of the bill 
to the extremity of the tail, forty inches and more. 

There are, besides, several other species of the red and 
yellow, blue, and blue and yellow, which equal the scarlet 
and blue in size, — their habits being very similar. They are 
easily tamed, and can be taught to repeat words, and some- 
times even phrases. They are remarkable for their Longevity, 
some having been kno^Yn to live to one hundred years. 

The magnificent great green macaw is noted for his depre- 
dations on the maize-fields ; but, being a sagacious bird, he 
always places a sentinel to give the alarm to his marauding- 
associates when danger approaches. 


Parrots much inferior m size and less richly decked fly 
amid the foliage in vast numbers. The two most common 
species are the Amazon green parrot and the festive green 

Of the former (Psittacus Amazonius) there are several 
varieties. They have their homes in the midst of the im- 
penetrable forests. The female lays four white eggs in the 
hollow of a tree. The usual length is about fourteen inches. 
The bills vary in colour ; the plumage is of a bright green, 
with the feathers marked by dusky or blackish margins. On 
the top or edges of the shoulders there is a brilliant scarlet 
patch, bounded by shades of blue, green, and yellow. A 



bright blue banrl reaches from eye to eye, beyond which the 

feathers of the crown, cheeks, and throat are of a rich yellow. 

The Brazilian green parrot is a large and beautiful bird, 

of p. fine grass-green, rather paler beneatli the feathers, edged 


with |)urplish-brown. The front and round the base of the 
bill is bright red, the cheeks rather deep blue, and the top of 
the head yellow. The edge of the wings, at some distance 


from the shoulders, is red. Tlie tail is especially handsome, 
the outside feathers being deep blue, tipped with yellow; 
the next red, with a similar yellow tip ; and all the remain- 
ing ones gTeen, with yellow tips. The bill is of a light colour, 
and the legs and feet dark. It is the species most ordinarily 
brought to England, and is valued on account of its powers 
of imitation — individuals havin^- been taught not onlv words, 
but whole sentences. 


One among the most rare of the beautiful parrot family is 
the anaca (Derotypus coronatus). It is of a green colour, 
and at the back of its head rises a hood of red feathers 
bordered with blue, which it can elevate or depress at plea- 
sure. It is the only American parrot which resembles the 
cockatoo of Australia, It is of a solemn, morose, and irrit- 
able disposition. The natives often keep the bird in the 
house for the purpose of seeing the irascible creature expand 
its beautiful feathers, which it readily does when excited. 
The crest is something like that of a harpy eagle. It is 
known also as the hawk-headed parrot. 


There is also a beautiful black-headed species — the macai oi 
the Indians — known as the marianna. It has a white breast, 
orange neck and thighs. It is a remarkal >ly lively little bird, 
and when tamed, shows its playful and inquisitive disposition. 

Wallace describes one which he had on board his canoe, 
which used to climb into every crack and cranny, diving into 
all the baskets, pans, and pots it could discover, and tasting 
eveiy thing they contained. It was a most omnivorous feeder. 


eating rice, farina, every kind of flesh, fish, and vegetables ; 
and drinking coffee too. As soon as it saw him, basin in hand, 
it would climb up to the edge, and not be qidet mthout having 
a share ; which it would lick up with the greatest satisfaction, 
stopping now and tlien to look knowingly round, — as much as 
to say, " This coffee is very good," — and then sipping again 
with increased gusto. 

It has a pretty, clear whistle, which the Indians imitate, 
making it reply, and stare about in a vain search for its com- 


Amon;:;' the smaller birds in these forests, the trogons — a 
genus of scansorial birds — are the most beautiful, sui'})assing 
their relatives found in other parts of the world. There are 
numerous varieties, differing in size — from the trogon vHiridis, 
scarcely larger than a sparrow, to the beautiful trogon, with 
its handsome tail, the size of a rook. Often they are to be 
seen in the depths of the forest, sitting motionless for hours 
together, simply moving their heads, watching a[)parently for 
insects, or sometimes scanning the neighbouring trees for fruit. 
Having selected a ripe one, they dart off now and then at 
long intervals to secure it, returning always to the same perch. 

Their wings are feeble, and they are of a dull, inactive tem- 
perament. They have long spreading tails, and a dense 
plumage, which makes them appear larger than they are in 
reality. They are solitary birds, and may be seen sitting 
singly, or in pairs — some species on the taller trees, and 
othel^s but a few feet above the gi'ound — occasionally uttering 
a moumful note, which sounds like curucua, — the name whicli 
the Indians give to them. " This wcjuld betray them to the 
hunter," says Edwards; ''but they are great vcnti'ilo(piists, 


and it is often impo .sible to discover them, tl^ ough close above 
one's head." 

Their feathers are fixed in a very loose manner, so that in 
falling, when shot, numbers fall off. 


The resplendent trogon — the largest of the species — is one 
of the handsomest of birds, on account of the richness and 
brilliancy of its colour, the beautiful blending of tints, the 
flowing grace of its plumage, and the elegance of its colour. 
On its forehead is a cunously-shaped tuft, of slight and elastic 
feathers which curl over something like those of the umbrella- 
bird. This ornament — as also the head, throat, back, wings, 
and upper tail-coverts — is of the very richest green, with a 
gloss of gold, which glows, when moved by the breeze, with a 
changeable sheen. The upper tail-coverts are exceedingly long, 
projecting considerably beyond the ta"l, and flowing gracefully 
over the stiffer feathers beneath them. The lower part of the 
body is of a rich carmine. 

Another species, called by the natives the curucua grande, 
has a soft, golden green plumage, a red breast, and an orange- 
coloured beak. 

In the Gapo territory a yellow-bellied trogon, with a back 
of a brilliant metallic green colour, and a breast of steel-blue, 
is found. 

The trogon melanurus is remarkable for the beauty of its 
plumage, having a glossy gi^een back and rose-coloured breast. 
Bates found one seated alone on a branch, at no great eleva- 
tion, uttering at intervals, in a complaining tone, its usual cry 
of '' quaqua." It appeared to be a dull, inactive bird, and 
even when approached seemed very unwilling to take flight. 




Amono" the characteristic members of the feathered tribe in 
these forests are the jacamars, as they are found in no other 


part of the world. They have straight, long, pointed bills, 
with a keel on the upper mandible. Some species have only 
three toes, while others possess the usual lunnber of four. 

(379) 32 


They live on insects, but in many respects resemljle the trogon ; 
being even still less disposed to fly than they are. " Their 
stupidity, indeed, in remaining at their posts, seated on low 
branches in the shady parts of the forest, is somewhat remark- 
able in a country where all other bii^ds are exceedingly wary," 
observes Bates. 

The green jacamar (galbula viridis) is a beautiful l)ird, 
about the size of a lark ; the upper j^arts of the body being 
generally of an exceedingly brilliant, cliangeable green, glossed 
with copper-gold. The beak is two inches long, black, slightly 
incurved, and sharp-pointed. The legs are short and weak, of 
a gi'eenish-yellow, and the claws black. It is a very solitary 
bird, and delights to take refuge in the thickest parts of the 
forest, where insects abound, and is seldom seen in company 
with others. It has a short, quick flight, and a sweeter voice 
than most of its feathered companions. 

The pai'adise jacamar (galbula paradisea) frequents the more 
open parts of the forest, and is generally found in pairs. It 
is a larger bird than the former, "being nearly a foot long. 
The prevailing plumage is green, but the throat, front of the 
neck, and under ^dng-coverts are white. 

It seizes its food in the same way that the trogons do. It 
will sit silent and motionless on a branch, moving its head 
slightly, and when an insect passes by, within a short distance, 
it will fly ofl" and seize it with its long beak, and return again 
to its perch. 

Most jacamars are clothed with a plumage of the most beau- 
tiful golden, bronze, and steel colours. They bear a strong 
outward resemblance to kingfishers, but are not further united 
to that group of birds. They appear to have the same peculiar 
attachment to particular branches as many humming-birds 


possess ; and the spot can generally l)e discovered l)y the 
number of legs and wings and hard cases of the insects they 
have caught, and which they have plucked off before eating 
their victims. 

*The little three-toed jacamar possesses a few of the brilliant 
hues which adorn his brethren. 

The great or broad-billed jacamar is very like a kingfisher. 
The beak is very broad, while the dilated ridge on the upper 
mandible is distinctly curved. It feeds very much like the 
kingfisher, — darting down from a branch to secure, with its 
bill, the active insects as they fly by. It feeds exclusively 
on them, however, never attempting to obtain food from the 


The light-bodied jacana, supported by its spider-like, widely 
extended feet, treads over the floating pan-like leaves of the 
Victoria Regia, and other aquatic plants, without sinking them 
in any perceptible degree below the surface of the calm pools 
in which they float. They take up their dwelling on the borders 
of the remote lakes and igarapes of the Amazonian Valley. 

They are called by the natives oven birds, because fre- 
quently seen on the pan-shaped leaves of the before-mentioned 
magnificent lily. 

The common jacana has a black |)lumage, with a greenish 
gloss. The legs are very long and slight, — as are the toes and 
claws, especially that of the hind-toe, which is nearly straight. 
The body is about ten inches long ; and the beak uj)wards of 
an inch, and of an orange colour. 

The jacana feeds on a([uatic insects and vegetable matter. 
While feeding it utters a low-sounding cluck, cluck, at short 
intervals. When flying it throws out its long legs horizon- 



tally to their full length, generally skimming above the surface, 
out of clanger. 

Its body is of a peculiarly light construction, so that, large 


as it appears, it weighs but little when pressing the floating 
leaves, on which it delights to walk in search of its prey. 


Even to the distance of fifteen hundred miles and more 
from the mouth of the Amazon, large flocks of the high-flying 
frigate-birds are descried hovering at an immense height above 
the stream, preparing to plunge down and seize their tinny 

THE iiornp:d screamer. 


They measure seven feet from wing to wing, and appear 
almost to live in the air. The neck is |)artly bare, and very 
extensible ; the bill long, and hooked at the end ; the feet 
small, and webbed. The body of the male is entirely black, 
while the hen has the head and neck white. 

It is probably a different species from the frigate-bird, or 
sea-hawk, of the Eastern tropical seas. 


On the shores of a sand-bank, flocks of wild gulls may be 
seen Hying overhead uttering their well-known cries, sand- 




pipers coursing along the edge of the water, here and there 

lonely wading birds stalking about, and among them the 

32 B 

502 VULTUllES. 

curious Palamedea cornuta — the anhima of the Brazilians, or 
the horned screamer of Cuvier — called also the kamichi. 
Startled by the approach of the canoe, up it flies, its harsh 
screams resemblmg the bray of a jackass — but shriller and 
louder, if possible — gTeatly disturbing the calm solitude of the 

It is the size of a swan, but more nearly resembles a crane. 
On its head it wears a long, pointed horn, surroimded with 
small black and white feathers. It has a tail about eiiiiit 
inches lono' ; its wind's, when folded, reachino- to more than 
half the length of the tail. They are armed with sharp spines, 
with which it can inflict a wound on its foes, and which assist 
it in repelling the attacks of snakes and guarding its young 
from their rapacity. Unless when attacked, however, it sel- 
dom uses its weapon of defence. It walks boldly along, as if 
conscious of its power ; and when on the wing, has a strong 
and easy flight. 

The head and neck are of a greenish-brown colour, and 
covered with soft feathers. The back is black, except the 
upper part, which is brown, with yellow spots ; the whole 
lower part, with the thighs, of a silveiy white. 

It feeds on grain and aquatic plants, in search of which it 
wades through the reptile-haunted morasses. 


Monarch of the feathered tribes of the forest, the king 
vulture fears no rival throuohout his wild domain. While the 
condor has its home on the mountain-tops, the sovereign of 
the vultures confines himself exclusively to the thickly -wooded 
reo-ions alono- the banks of the rivers or lacfoons, where he can 
more readily obtain the carcasses on ^vliich he feeds. 




i|y ,^ He is a magnificent bird, of al)ont two 
^ feet and a half in length, and upwards 
of five feet across the expanded wings. 
The neck is brilliantly coloured of a fine 
lemon tint ; both sides of the neck, from tlie 
ears downwards, are of a rich scarlet. The 
crown of the head is scarlet, and between the 
lower mandi])le and the eye, and close to tlie 
eye, there is a part which has a fine bhio a]~>- 
pearance ; the skin which juts out behind the 
neck, like a carbuncle, is partly blue and partly 
orange. The bill is orange and black. Ilound 
the bottom of the neck is a broad rufi' of soft, 
downy, ash-gray feathers, and the back and tail- 


covei*ts are of a biiglit fawn. The middle wing-coverts and 
tail-feathers ai-e glossy black. 

These superb birds may sometimes be seen seated in pairs 
on the topmost boughs of trees, but occasionally in large 
tiocks. The gTeat expanse and power of his wings enables 
the king vulture to soar to a prodigious height, whence he 
can survey with his piercing sight a wide extent of his 
domain ; possibly also his exquisite sense of smell enables 
him to detect the odour of the putrefying carcass which rises 
through the pure air. 

He is somewhat of a t^^rant among his subjects ; for not 
only will he allow no other vultures or carrion-feeding birds 
to approach the carcass he has selected, but on his appeai'- 
ance the other species, who may already have discovered it, 
fly to a distance, and stand meekly looking on while their 
sovereign gorges himself 

The king vulture makes his nest in the hollow of a tree, 
where his queen lays two eggs. 


The gallinaso, or black vulture (Cathartes atratus), acts 
the part of a scavenger, and as such is of great use through- 
out the whole centre of South America, as also in the north- 
ern continent. Disgusting as are its habits and appearance, 
it is carefully protected, on account of the service it renders 
to mankind. 

It may easily be distinguished from the turkey-buzzard, 
which it greatly resembles, by the shape of the feathers round 
its neck, which descend from the ba^k of the head towards 
the throat in a sloping direction ; whereas those of the turkey- 
buzzard form a ring round the throat. Its general colour is 



a dull black. The head and part of tlic neck are destitute 
of feathers, wrinkled, and sprinkled with a few hlack hairs. 
The throat is of a yellowish tint. 

It flies high, sweeping through the air with a l)eautifully 
easy motion, and is generally found in the neighbourhood of 
fresh water. 

The black vultures are gregarious, brought together appar 


ently by the pleasure they seem to have in society rather 
than l)y the attraction of a common prey. Darwin describes 
seeing flocks of then) on a flne day at a great height, cacli 
bird wheeling round and round without closing its ^\'ings, iuid 
performing the most gi-aceful evolutions. 



The turkey-buzzard (Catliartes ora) is similar in its habits 
to the black vulture, and is frequently mistaken for it. It 
is seldom found southward of latitude 41°. Of late years, 
however, they have become numerous in the Valley of the 
Colorado, three hundred miles further south. It is not found 
on the deseii} and arid plains of Northern Patagonia, except 
near some stream ; and it is supposed not to have passed into 
Chili, although in Peru it exists in great numbers, where it is 
] )reserved to act the part of a scavenger. 

It is a solitary bird, and goes in pairs ; and may at once be 
recognized at a distance, from its lofty soaring and most ele- 
gant flight. It ranges from North America to Cape Horn. 

Such are some of the more notable members of the feathered 
tribes inhabiting the Valley of the Amazon. There are num- 
berless others, — both land and water birds,- — a description of 
which would occupy too much space, some of them also being- 
common to other parts of the world. Several, likewise, are 
seen more fi-equently either in Venezuela and Guiana, or in 
the La Plata region, and will be noticed when we visit those 

From the Birds, then, we will pass on to the Reptiles and 
Insects of South America ; in which, as to number and the 
variety of their forms and habits, it equals, if it does not 
surpass, any portion of similar size of the Old World, in the 
same latitude. 




LONG tlic river-banks, in every igarape, stream, and 
j[)ool, the hideous and i-avenous alligator lurks for 
its prey. It is greatly dreaded Tjy tlic natives for 
its treacheiy and cunning, numbers falling victims to its 
powerful jaws. The largest, the jacare-uassu, or great cay- 
man, is often found from fifteen to twenty feet long, and of 
enormous bulk. 

There is a smaller species, the jacari-tinga, which has a 
long slender muzzle, and black Imiided tail. This, when full- 
grown, is about five feet long. 

A still smaller one exists, said to be found only in shallow 
creeks. It does not attain, when full-grown, a length of more 
than two feet. Its eggs are rather larger than those of a 
hen, and oval in shape, the shell having a rough, hard sur- 
face. So numerous are they, that Bates observes "it is scarcely 
exaggeration to say that the waters of the Solimoens are a,s 
well stocked with alligators in the dry season, as a ditch in 
England is in summer with tad[)olcs." 



Like the turtle, the large alligator has its annual migi^a- 
tions. During the wet season it retreats to the interior pools 
and flooded forests, and descends to the main river in the 
dry season. During the hot months, when the pools are 
dried up, and the alligator cannot reach water, it buries itself 
in the mud, and becomes dormant, sleeping till the rainy 
season returns. 


As the alligator cannot turn its head, it is little feared on 
shore, as a person can easily leap out of its way; but he must 
beware of its tail, which, when angiy, it will lash about in 
a furious manner, sufficient to break a limb. The alligator 
never attacks human beings when on their guard, but, lying 
in wait, seizes them when he can venture to do so with im- 


punity. These savage saurians are called indiscriminately, 
though improperly, alligators, crocodiles, and caymans. 

The real alligator is distinguished by having its toes only 
partly webbed — the outer ones being free. It will never 
willingly seek an encounter, and shows great terror, even, 
when attacked by dogs. The creatures are often killed by 
jaguars, who pounce upon them, and with their powerful 
claws tear out their entrails. But when aroused to anger it 
blindly attacks all opponents, and is then a truly formidable 
foe. With a single blow of its tail it can overturn a canoe. 
The instant it seizes its prey it sinks with it below the sur- 
face, to devour it at its leisure. It usually feeds on lish, 
fowl, turtle, or any creature it finds floating on the surface of 
the water ; but when these fail, it lies concealed among the 
sedges on the banks, waiting for any land animal which may 
approach to drink. Sometimes it thus retaliates on the jaguar, 
and seizing the fierce brute, drags it down below the surface, 
where it Ls soon drowned. 

The great -alligator usually lays fifty or sixty eggs, rather 
oblong than oval, and about the size of those of a goose, — 
covering them up with sand, and allowing them to be hatched 
by the heat of the sun. The mother, however, does not 
desert her young, but conducts them to the water, and 
watches over them till their scales have hardened, and their 
limbs have gained sufficient strength to enable them to take 
care of themselves. 

Waterton relates an anecdote showing the daring ferocity 
of the creature when pressed by hunger. It was on the 
banks of the Orinoco, near the city of Angostura. The tale 
was told him by the governor of that |)lace. 

'' One fine evening, as the people of the city were saunter- 


ing Up and down the alamada by the banks of the river, a 
large cayman rushed out of the water, seized a man, and 
carried him down, before any person had it in his power to 
assist him. The screams of the poor fellow were terrible as 
the cayman was running off with him. The monster plunged 
into the river with its prey, and we instantly lost sight of 
him, and never saw or heard of him more." 

Bates also relates that a native crew, having arrived at 
Eo:a;a, o'ot drunk, when one of the men, durino- the oreatest 
heat of the da}^, while everybody else was enjoying an after- 
noon nap, took it into his head, while in a tipsy state, to go 
do^Ti alone to bathe. He was seen only by a feeble old man, 
who Avas lying in his hammock in the open verandah at the 
rear of his house, at the top of the bank. He shouted to the 
besotted Indian to beware of an alligator which had of late 
taken to frequenting the neighbourhood. Before he could 
repeat his warning, the man stumbled, and a pair of gaping 
jaws, appearing suddenly above the surface, seized him round 
the waist, and drew him under the water. A cr}^ of agony — 
'" Ai Jesus ! " — was the last sound made by the wretched vic- 
tim. The young men of the village, going in search of the 
monster, came up with it when, after a little time, it rose to 
breathe, with one leg of the man sticking out from its jaws. 
It was immediately despatched, with bitter curses. 

One night Bates and his party were asleep in their ham- 
mocks in an open shed on the banks of the river, with a fire 
made up in the centre. He was awoke by his attendants 
hurling burning firewood, with loud curses, at a huge cayman 
which had crawled up the bank, and passed beneath his ham- 
mock towards the place where a little dog lay asleep. The 
dog had raised the alarm in time. The reptile backed out, 


and tumbled down the Ijank into the water, the sparks of the 
brands hurled at him liying from his back and sides. Not- 
withstanding this, lie the next niglit repeated his visit. 

The alligator, in its daring attempts to seize human beings, 
does not always come off victorious. An Indian and his son 
had gone down to the water, when the boy, whilst loathing, 
was seized by the thigh, and carried under. The father, 
rushing down the bank, })lunged after the rapacious Ijeast, 
which was diving away with its victim. He followed it un- 
armed, and overtaking the creature, thrust his thumb into its 
eye, and forced it to release its booty. The lad, who was 
present when the story was told, exhibited the marks of the 
allio^ator's teeth in his thio-h. 

On another occasion an alligator was shot by one of the 
passengers on board a steamer, and hauled up on deck. When 
the knife was applied, it showed that it still possessed some 
sparks of life, by lashing out its tail, and opening its 
enormous jaws, sending the crowd of bystanders Hying in all 
directions. It is extraordinary how tenacious the creature is 
of life, and what a prodigious amount of battering it may re- 
ceive and still live. 

Fortunately for other animals, the young alligators liave 
numerous enemies, even the males of their ot\ti kind occasion- 
ally gobbling them up ; while they are terribly persecuted by 
wild beasts and birds of prey,— the latter esteeming their soft 
bodies delicate morsels, and frequently pouncing down into 
their midst and carrying them off. 

The alligator, far from being a silent animal, as is gener- 
ally supposed, makes a hideous noise at times, bellowing witli 
so singular a cadence and loud a din, that he can even out- 
roar the jaguars and mycetes. 



Sir Richard Schombergh describes the way in which the 
alligator seizes its prey. He secured a bird or fish to a piece 
of wood, and then turned it adrift on the river. No sooner 
was it seen than a cayman, slowly and cautiously approach- 
ing — without even rippling the surface of the water — and then 


curving its back, hurled its prey by a stroke of its tail into 
its wide-extended jaws. 

It makes also a loud sound, by clacking its teeth, and lash- 
ing its tail on the water. It has a voice not readily to be 
distinguished from that of the animals of the forest. It is 
similar to a hollow suppressed sigh bursting forth on a sudden, 


loud enouo^h to be heard a mile otf. First one i^ives vent to 
this fearful sound, then aiiother answers from a distance ; and 
from up and down the river, and across the current, these 
horrible noises are heard, showing that the hideous saurians 
are in a lively mood, watching for their suppers. It is sup- 
posed that when once they have tasted human flesh they 
will alwa3^s endeavour again to procure it. 

Humboldt mentions another instance, where an Indian, 
landing on the banks of a shallow lagoon, was seized by a 
cayman. With wonderful presence of mind the Indian 
searched for a knife, but not finding it, he pressed his fingers 
into its eyes. The monster, however, did not let go, but 
dragged the unfortunate man down into deep water, and, to 
the horror of several spectators, was seen swimming off" with 
the poor fellow in its jaws, to devour him on a neighbouring 

Humboldt states that during the inundations of the Orinoco, 
alligators have been known to crawl into the streets of An- 
gostura and carry off' human beings. 

Schombergh once saw an enormous cayman seize one of a 
smaller species, and bear it away — ]iot, however, without a 
desperate struggle. In a short time the monsters reappeared, 
wildly beating the surface with their tails. Now a huge head 
rose up, now a tail, indistinctly seen in the seething whirlpool. 
At length, however, the larger was beheld swimming off' to a 
sand-bank, where it immediately began to devour its prey. 


See yonder hideous-faced creature, nearly six feet in length, 
the size of many alligators, its head covered with scaly plates, 
a huge dew-lap depending from its throat, its body and long 


tail covered with small imbricated scales, its back garnished 
with a row of spines, and on its thigh a number of porous 
tubercles, while its legs and claws are wide-spreading. 

As it crawls along a bough overhead, the bravest man who 
had never before seen it would undoubtedly get out of its 
way, expecting it to leap down and seize him. Yet the 
iguana, ugly as is its countenance, is perfectly harmless ; 
except that it can give a sharp bite with its compressed tri- 
angular and serrated teeth. It lives generally on trees. 
When hard-pressed it takes to the water, and swims with 
ease, — pressing its legs close to its sides, and sculling itself 
on with its tail ; while it can remain an hour or more under 
water without suffering. 

The flesh of the iguana, unfortunately for itself, is con- 
sidered excellent ; and hunters go out to catch it with a noose 
at the end of a long stick, which they cast round its neck, 
and then by a sudden jerk pull it to the ground. As the 
creature seems to fancy that it cannot be reached on the 
bough, it seldom moves on the approach of the hunter, and 
is thus easily caught. It lashes out with its tail, however, 
and tries to bite, when once it finds itself entrapped ; and 
being also very tenacious of life, it is not killed without 
repeated heavy blows, or a pistol-shot in its head. 

The common iguanas are numerous in the neighbourhood 
of villages, where they climb the trees for the sake of their 
fruit. Some species lay their eggs — which are about an inch 
and a half in length, and oblong — in hollow trees. Others are 
known to do so in the sand, to be hatched by the heat of the 
sun. They are considered delicacies, and are much sought 
after in consequence. 

The colour of the iguana changes, like that of the chameleon. 


The Brazilians, indeed, call it the chameleon. Its food con- 
sists almost entirely of fruits and other vegetable substances, 
though some species are supposed to be onniivorous. The 
natives frequently tame it, when it willingly allows itself to be 
carried about by its owner, though it at once distinguishes 

There are, however, numerous species of iguanas ; indeed, 
the family contains fifty genera — the true iguanas being all 
inhabitants of the New World. To its predecessor, which it 
closely resembles in bony structure, the largest is but a mere 
pigmy — for that extinct monster must have been about 
seventy feet in length, the length of the tail alone being 
fifty-two feet, and the circumference of the body fourteen and 
a half feet ; while its thigh-bone was twenty times the size of 
that of the modern iguana. Vast as was the inhabitant of 
the ancient world, it was herbivorous, like that of the com- 
paratively Lilliputian creature of the present day. 

Everywhere the agile, beautifully-tinted lizards abound, 
sunning themselves on logs of wood, or scampering over the 
sandy soil. Now they may be seen turning round the trunk 
of a tree, much as a squirrel does, watching the passer-by, and 
trying to keep out of sight. Some are of a dark coppery colour, 
others have backs of the most brilliant silky green and blue, 
while others are marked with delicate shades of yellow and 

The largest of their family is the teguexin, or variegated 
lizaixl. Sometimes it is called the safeguard, from the idea 
— probably an idle fable — that, like the monitors of the Nile, 
they give notice of the approach of the alligator by their loud 

There are several species Avhicli inhabit the hot, sandy 

516 GECKOS. 

plains, or dense, damp underwood near the rivers and lakes. 
One of them exceeds five feet in length, and is extremely 
active. It feeds almost entirely on snakes, frogs, and toads, 
but occasionally devours poultry, and breakfasts oft' their eggs. 
It is also somewhat of a cannibal, for though it will not eat 
its own species, it does occasionally those of a somewhat 
smaller lizard allied to it. It possesses strong teeth, and can 
bite with great force ; indeed, when attacked it defends itself 
fiercely, and when seizing a foe can seldom be compelled to 
let go. 

Its colour is variable, but generally the upper parts of the 
body are deep black, with mottlings of yellow or green ; while 
on the higher portions of its sides are a series of white spots, 
the under part being chiefly yellow, with black bands. 

The little ameiva, on which it occasionally preys, is of a 
dark olive colour, speckled with black about the neck. 

There is another large lizard, known as the great dragon 
(Ada Guianensis). It is of an olive colour, with yellow be- 
low, and mottled with brown ; and frequently attains a length 
of six feet. While the former cannot climb trees, it is a good 
swimmer. The great dragon climbs with wonderful agility, 
but is said not to be very much at home in the water. It 
also bites fiercely. 

Both are hunted for the sake of their flesh ; while their 
eggs — of which thirty or forty are laid — are considered gi'eat 


Not only in the huts of the natives, but in the abodes of 
the wealthy white men, hid during the day in dark corners, 
are numbers of dark gray, hideous-looking lizards, which, when 
night comes on, crawl rapidly over the walls and ceilings. 

GECKOS. 517 

hunting: for the flies and otlicr insects to bo found there. Re- 
[)ulsive as are these little geckos, and undeservedly possessing 
a bad name for being poisonous, they are not only harmless, 
but render good service by the destruction of numerous house- 
hold pests. Their laige eyes are so constructed that they can 
discern objects in the dark, and are at the same time capable 
of bearing the rays of the bright sun. Their colour, too, 
enables them to escape detection by the creatures which 
attack them, while they are thus hid from the prey for which 
they lie in wait. They can also bend themselves in an ex- 
traordinary way into hollows and crevices. 

But their feet are 
especially curious, 
being admiral)ly a- 
dapted for clinging 
to and running over 
smooth surfaces. The 

under side of their toes is expanded into cushions, beneath 
which folds of skin form a series of flexible plates. By 
means of this apparatus they can run or crawl across a 
smooth ceiling with their backs downwards — the soft soles, 
by quick, muscular action, exhausting and admitting air alter- 
nately. They are also })rovided with sharp claws, which en- 
able them to climb up the trunks of trees, and over rough 

The Brazilians call them osgas, and believe that they poison 
by their touch whatever they pass over. Probably, however, 
if any annoyance does arise from them, it is when with their 
sharp claws they run across a sleeping man, or small blisters 
have been raised by the adhering apparatus at the bottom of 
their feet. B}^ some " the spider, which taketh hold with her 


hands/' is believed to be a gecko, as a species of this creature 
is very common in the East. The popular prejudice against 
them causes the death of many a poor gecko, who, had he been 
allowed to live, would have rendered good service to his per- 
secutors. Those in the houses are of small size ; but others, 
existing in the forest, and living in the crevices of the trees, 
are of considerable magnitude. Their tails are easily struck 
off — the loss being, however, as is the case with other lizards, 
repaired by a new growth, though less perfect than the original 



With its ill-favoured head protruding above the surface of 
the water near the banks of slow-flowing rivers, pools, and 
swamps, the vast anaconda lies in wait for its prey. The 
fish swimming along in its neighbourhood, — the birds which, 
rising from the reeds, skim by overhead, — the animals wiiich 
come to the banks to drink, — even man himself, have cause to 
dread a blow from the snout, and the powerful coils of the 
huge water-serpent. Its appearance is most hideous, being 
very broad in the middle, and tapering abruptly at both 
ends. Fish, and the smaller animals, it swallows whole ; but 
a larger animal it seizes by the nose with its powerful jaws, 
and surrounds with the mighty coils of its huge body, pressing 
one coil upon another till it crushes its prey to death. 

Though generally found from twenty to thirty feet in 
length, it is said to attain a length of forty feet ; and one 
of that size is fully capable of swallowing an ox or horse, — 
there being many instances of its having been done. Its voracity 
is pi'odigious. The French naturalist Firmin found in the 
stomach of an anaconda a large sloth, an iguana four feet long, 
and a good-sized ant-bear ; all three in the same state almost 


as when they were swallowed — a proof that they had been 
captured within a short time. Bates relates that an Indian 
father with his son went one day in their montaiio to gather 
fruit a short distance from Egga, when, landing on a sloping, 
sandy shore, the boy was left to take care of the canoe while 
the man entered the forest. The boy was playing in the 
water under the shade of some myrtle and wild guava trees, 
when a huge reptile stealthily wound its coils round him. His 
cries brought the father to the rescue, who, rushing forward, 
seized the anaconda boldly by the head, and tore its jaws 

This formidable serpent lives to a great age ; and Bates heard 
of a specimen being killed which measured forty-two feet in 
length. Those he measured were only twenty-one feet long, 
and two feet in girth. He was a sufferer, on one occasion, 
from one of these. While on a voyage up the river, his canoe 
being moored alongside the bank, the neighbourhood of which 
had been haunted for some time past by one of the creatures, 
he was awoke a little after midnight, as he lay in his cabin, by 
a heavy blow struck at the side of the canoe, close to his head. 
It was succeeded by the sound of a heavy body plunging into 
the water. When he got up all was again quiet, except the 
cackle of fowls in the hen-coop, which hung at the side of the 
vessel, about three feet from the cabin door. In the morning 
the poultry were found loose about the canoe, two of the fowls 
being missing ; while there was a large rent in the bottom of 
the hen-coop, raised about two feet from the surface of the 
water. The Indians went in search of the reptile, which, 
being found sunning itself on a log at the mouth of a muddy 
rivulet, was despatched with harpoons. 

It is extremely tenacious of life ; and though the head may 

520 THE BOA. 

be nearly cut off, and the entrails taken out, it will still move 
about for a considerable time. It is detested by the farmers 
on the banks, as it has the habit of canying off poultry, 
young calves, or any animal it can get within reach of It 
is often seen coiled up in the corner of farm-yards, waiting for 
its prey. 

The statement that the anaconda kills its prey by its pes- 
tilent breath, is wholly fabulous. Waterton altogether denies 
the existence of any odour in the snake's breath. It is pos- 
sible, however, that some species may produce a horrible stench, 
from a substance secreted in certain glands near the tail — a 
fact which has probably given rise to the fable. 


Among the semi-civilized, idolatrous inhabitants of the con- 
tinent, several snakes were objects of worship. The boa- 
constrictor especially was regarded as an emblem of strength 
and power, from its vast size, and the fearful effect produced 
by its encircling coils as it winds itself round the body of its 

See the creature as its shining body moves rapidly among the 
fallen leaves and dried husks in the forest, rather like a stream 
of brown liquid than a serpent, with skin of varied colours ! 
Onwards it goes, with scarcely a perceptible serpentine move- 
ment. Even the huge trunk of a fallen tree does not stop it, 
but it glides over the impediment in its undeviating course, 
making the dry twigs crack and fly oft' with its weight. Now 
it stops, watching for its prey. An agouti runs by, regard- 
less of the seeming rivulet ; but the hapless creature is 
seized by the serpent's jaws, and those terrible folds surround- 
ing the body — coil above coil — crush the bones, till it be- 




comes a mere mass of flesh. And now it begins to suck in 
its prey ; not lubricating it, as is generally stated, although a 
large quantity of saliva surrounds the animal while it is 



descending the ilionster's throat. After a time the meal is 
finished, and the serpent — its body greatly distended — re- 
mains at rest, unwilling to move, when it may be easily 
captured by the daring hunter. 

The body of the boa is of a rich brown colour. A broad 
chain of large black spots, alternating with white, runs along 



its back ; while the scales round the eyes are set in a circle, 
separated from those of the lips by two rows of smaller scales. 
The jaws are not united, but attached to the skull by muscles 
and ligaments, which enable it to dilate the mouth sufficientl}^ 
to swallow bodies much laro;er than itself 

The largest grow to a length of thirty feet and upwards ; 


Imt boas ordinarily do not attain more than twenty feet in 



The boa scytale, or spotted boa, is of a gi^ayish colour, 
marked with round spots, and scarcely inferior in size to the 


There is another species — the ringed boa, or boa cenchris — 
which, though growing to a considerable size, does not attain 
that of the former species. 

A curious species (the boa canina) has a large head, shaped 
somewhat like that of a dog ; the general colour a bright 
Saxon-green, with transverse white bars down the back. The 
sides are of a deeper green, and the belly is white. 

Wallace describes a small one only eleven feet in length, 
but as thick as a man's thigh. It was secured by having a 
stick tightly tied round the neck. It went about dragging 
its clog with it, sometimes opening its mouth with a very 
suspicious yawn, and sometimes turning its tail up into the 
air. Being put into a cage, and released from the stick, it 
began to breathe most violently, the expirations sounding like 
high-pressure steam escaping from a Great Western locomo- 

- The boa, however, is not much dreaded in South America, 
as it seldom or never attacks man ; which the anaconda is said 
always to do, if it can find him unprepared. Stories are told 
of desperate encounters between travellers in the forests of the 
Amazon and pythons or boas. A French traveller narrates 
how, on one occasion, the whole of his attendants took to 
flight on seeing a huge python ajjpruaching, — with the excep- 




tion of a gallant native, who, attacking the monster vigorously 
with a long, lithe pole, struck it a blow which paralyzed its 
powers ; when, the party returning, it was easily killed. 



Venomous as is the bite of the rattlesnake, and abounding 
as it does in all parts of the continent, it is less dreaded than 
many other servients. It is, in the first place, very sluggish 
in its habits ; and it is happily compelled to bear about it an 
instrument which gives notice of its approach and intention 
of biting. The South American rattlesnake — the Boaquira 
crotalus horridus — has the rattle placed at the end of the 
tail. It consists of several dry, hard, bony processes, so 
shaped that the tip of each upper bone runs within two of the 
bones below it. By this means they have not only a mov- 
able coherence, but also make a multiplied sound, each bone 
Iiitting against the others at the same time. The rattle is 
placed with the broad end perpendicular to the body, the first 
joint being fastened to the last vertebra of the tail by means 
of a thick muscle under it, as well as by the membranes which 
unite it to the skin. Indeed, an idea of this curious structure 
may be formed by placing a number of thimbles one within 
the other. These bony rings increase in number with the age 
of the animal ; and they are generally found with from five 
to fourteen. The sound produced has been compared to that 
of knife-grinding. It cannot be heard at a distance, and in 
rainy weather is almost inaudible. 

The effects of the bite vary according to the season of the 
year ; indeed, at times it will seldom strike a foe, and the 
venom is comparatively mild in its effects. At otlicr times 
the poison is of deadly intensity, and, should a large vein be 
bitten, the victim speedily dies. 

Waterton describes handlintf a number of rattlesnakes — 
removing them from one apartment to the other — wiili liis 


hands alone. They hissed and rattled when he meddled with 
them, but did not offer to bite him. Possibly this might 
have occurred during the time when they were sluggish, and 
their venom less deadly. 

The little peccary is a great enemy of the rattlesnake, as it 
is of all other serpents, and ordinary hogs destroy it easily 
without suffering from its bite ; so that as man makes pro- 
gress through the country and introduces these animals, rattle- 
snakes speedily disappear. 

Although the fascinating powers of the rattlesnake have 
been doubted, it seems probable that small birds and animals 
are frequently attracted when they catch sight of it coiled up 
on the ground below the branches on which they are posted — 
and, if not fascinated, fall through terror into its open jaws ; 
or it may be that, influenced by the same overpowering im- 
pulse which induces human beings to rush into danger, the 
animal or bu'd, on beholding its deadly enemy, approaches it 
against its own will, and is drawn nearer and nearer, till it 
either falls into the deadly fangs, or comes near enough to be 

Bates was one day in a forest with a httle dog, which ran 
into a thicket and made a dead-set on a large snake whose 
head was raised above the herbage. The serpent reared its 
tail slightly in a horizontal position, and shook its terrible 
rattle. It was some minutes before he could get the dog 
away. This shows how slow the reptile is to make the fatal 

On another occasion, he heard above his head, as it seemed, 
a pattering noise, when the wind, which had been blowing, 
lulling for a few moments, he discovered that it proceeded 
from the ground, and, turning his head, was startled by a 


sudden plunge, a heavy gliding motion Ijetiaying a large 
rattlesnake making oft* almost beneath his feet. 


More dreaded than the jaguar or alligator is the jararaca — 
the native name for the terrible serpent, the fer de lance 
(Craspedo cephalus lanceolatus). The hideous creature, with 
brown colour, flat, triangular head, connected to its olive- 
tinted body by a thin neck, lies coiled up among a heap of 
leaves, from which it can scarcely be distinguished till the 
passer-by is close upon it ; then suddenly it rears its head, 
which is armed with four long poisonous fangs, and, darting 
forward, strikes its victim with a deadly blow. Man, as well 
as all animals, dreads it — except the hog, and its relative, the 
little peccary, which are indifferent to the effects of its poison. 

On human beings its bite is generally fatal. Bates men- 
tions several instances of death from it, and only one clear 
case of recovery, — but in that instance the person was lame for 
life. Although most other serpents fly from man, the jararaca 
frequently attacks him ; leaping from its concealment among 
the leaves, and inflicting a wound which in a few hours pro- 
duces death. The first symptoms caused by the poison are 
convulsions, pains at the heart, and distressing nausea, the 
whole nervous system appearing to be greatly affected. The 
only known remedy is the copious use of spuits, a large 
amount of which is required to counteract the enervating 
power of the poison. 

The jararaca is generally six feet long, but sometimes 
reaches the lenoth of eioht feet. It is marked with dark 
cross bands, while below it is of a whitish-gray hue, covered 
with small dark spots. 



Even birds seem to have a slight dread of this fearful 
serpent, and may be seen hovering about the spot where it 







lies coiled up, uttering cries and screams, produced by fear 

and anger. 


Almost as much dreaded as the jararaca is the enormous 
cuanacouchi (Lachesis mutus), or bushmaster, as it is called 
in Demerara. Its proper name is the curucucu. It some- 
times reaches to a length of fourteen feet, being the largest 
known poisonous snake. It is equally remarkable for the 



glowing radiance of it? fearful beauty, displaying as it does, 
when gliding amid tlie sunshine, all the prismatic colours. 
Though generally remaining on the ground, it mounts trees 
with perfect ease in search of its prey-^birds or their eggs; 
while from the overhanging bough it can dart down on the 
unwary passer-by. 

It is said that furious battles sometimes occur between 


snakes of different species, — that the boa will watch for the 
rattlesnake as it issues from its hole,- — or that the latter will 
sally forth, and, relying on its envenomed fangs for victory, 
attack the huge boa as it glides by ; though, as no naturalists 
appear to have witnessed such combats, it may be doubted whe- 
ther they ever take place. But we may fancy how desperate 

(379) 34 


would be the strife between a python and the venomous 
bushmaster of Demerara. 


The labarri — another beautiful snake, adorned with the 
colours of the rainbow — produces certain death by its en- 
venomed bite. It, too, is a tree-climber, and may be seen 
lying coiled up on a low, thick branch or decayed stump, 
or sometimes on the bare ground, apparently selecting spots 
where it can be least easily distinguished. Though generally 
smaller than the bushmaster, it attains a length of eight feet 
or more. 


There are two or three species of whip snakes, or Dryadidse, 
remaikable for the slender elegance of their forms, and in 
general for the great beauty of then- colouring, as well as for the 
rapidity of their movements. The whip snake, having seized 
its prey, winds its light and lithe body round its victim, coil 
upon coil, like the boa and anaconda, and strangles it in its 

The emerald whip snake (Philodryas viridissimus) is one of 
the most beautiful. So slender is its body that, although tw^o 
feet long or more, it can coil itself up within a space not 
larger than the hollow of the hand. It lives in trees, and 
may be seen sporting amid the branches ; but the moment it 
catches sight of a person, away it darts, scarcely moving the 
branches and leaves amid which it makes its way. 


Delicate in form, and of the brightest grass-gTcen — Avhile, 
like the rest of its family, perfectly harmless — the green snake 



is a great favomitewitli the Brazilians; and as it is easily tamed, 
young girls may often be seen carrying it about, winding it 
round their throats or wrists, forming it into living necklaces 
or bracelets. It lives in trees, among the green foliage, over 
which it ra}>idly glides in search of insects — its usual food. 


Frogs abound of all sizes^ living in marshes, some on dry 
gTOund, and others inhabitants of trees — many with voices 
which resound loudly through the midnight air. Toads, too, 
are numerous, some of enormous size. They may be seen on 
bare, sandy places — huge fellows, seven inches in length and 
three in height — crawling over the ground, utterly indifferent 
to the appearance of a stranger among them. 

Among the frogs is the curious tingeing frog (Hylaplesia 
tinctoria), which is an inhabitant of the forest. It may be 
seen during the day crawling along the branches, but at night 
it takes up its abode under the loose bark. Except during the 
breeding season, it seldom visits the water. It then, like the 
rest of its species, goes there for the purpose of depositing its 
eggs. It is generally of a dark colour — sometimes quite black 
— with a white spot on the head and two white lines running 
along each side. 

It gains its name from the use the Indians are said to make 
of it. They employ it as they do the parrot-fish, to give a 
different colour to the plumage of their parrots. To do this 
they pull out the feathers from the spots to which they wish 
to impart a new tint, and then rub the blood of the frog into 
the wounded skin. When the new feathers grow, they are said 
to be of a bright yellow or vermilion hue. 

The l.)icoloured tree-lVog (Phyllomedusa bicolour) is of con- 


siderable size, and is the only one of its family at present 
known. The upper part of the body is of the deepest azure- 
blue, while the under parts are of a pure white, sometimes of 
a rosy tinge. The thighs and sides are spotted with the same 
tinge as the abdomen. 

Darwin found a curious little toad, the Phryniscus nigri- 
cans, on the dry sandy soil of the Pampas, " which looked," 
he says, '' as if it had been steeped in the blackest ink, and 
then, when dry, allowed to crawl over a board freshly painted 
with the brightest vermilion." 

Instead of being nocturnal in its habits, as other toads are, 
and living in obscure recesses, it crawls about over dry hillocks 
and arid plains during the day, where not a single drop of 
water can be found. It depends on the dew for its moisture, 
which is probably absorbed by the skin. The creature seems 
to dread water, and is utterly unable to swim. 


The Surinam toad is one of the most curious, though, at 
the same time, among the most hideous of batrachians. It is 
remarkable on account of the extraordinary way in which its 
young are developed. The skin of the female is separated, as 
is the case with others of its family, from the muscles of the 
back, and is nearly half an inch thick. She deposits her eggs, 
or spawn, at the brink of some stagnant water, when the male 
manages to take them up in his paws and places them on her 
back, where they adhere by means of a glutinous secretion, 
and are pressed into cells which, at that time, are open to re- 
ceive them. Gradually the cells are closed by a membrane 
which grows over them, when her back greatly resembles a 
piece of honeycomb, the cells of which are filled and closed. 



Here, in the course of about three months, the eggs are hatched, 
and. the creatures undergo the usual change of the rest of the 
genus ; first assuming the form of tadpoles, and gradually 
acquiring their complete shape. When perfected, and pos- 
sessed of their limbs, they work their way out of the cells ; 
and it is a curious sight to see them struggling out — their 
head and paws projecting in all directions from their mother's 
back — and sliding down on the ground, when they begin to 
hop merrily about. 

The cells are considerably deeper than wide, and each would 


contain an ordinary bean thrust endwise into it. The head of 
the creature is of an unusual shape, as it has a snout with 
nostrils lengthened into a kind of tube. The skin is of 
a brownish-olive above, and white below ; and is covered with 
a number of small, hard granules, with some horny tubercular 
projections among them. After the brood have left the mother's 
back, the cells again fill up — the whole process occupying about 
eight days. 

In spite of the repulsive appearance of the creature, the 
negroes occasionally eat it. 



Tortoises (Teskidinata, or Chelonians) belong to a very 
numerous order of reptiles, the usual form of which is too 
well known to require description. They are shut up, as it 
were, in a box and breast-plate : the carapace and plastron, 
in reality, are external developments of certain parts of the 

The land tortoises have the strongest plastrons. In some 
species it is slightly movable, but generally fixed by a uniting 
suture. In one — the pyxis — the plastron is fui^nished with a. 
transverse hinge, so that the animal can retract its head and 
fore-limbs within the carapace, and close the plastron upon it, 
first shutting them in. In another — the kinixis — the carapace 
has the posterior portion distinct from the anterior, and mov- 
able, so as to shield the hind-limbs and tail. 

In water tortoises, or turtles, as they are generally called, 
the plastron is united to the edges of the carapace by inter- 
vening cartilage, and not by suture. The jaws of tortoises 
are not furnished with teeth, but are cased in horny coverings, 
resembling somewhat the sharp hooked beak of a parrot ; which 
enable them either to crop and mince the vegetable aliment 
on which most of them live, or to masticate the small, living 
animals, such as birds and reptiles, of which the food of others 
consists. Round the outside of this beak are thick fleshy lips. 

In the curious matamata, the jaws of which open very 
wide, these parts, instead of being armed by a strong beak, 
are protected by a sheath of horn. 

In the land tortoises, the feet are stump-like, the toes being 
enveloped in the skin, so that they can move but slowly. 
The marsh and lake tortoises have their feet palmatcd, to en- 


able them to naovo either on the water or on land. In the 
turtles, these limbs appear in the form of broad, flat, un- 
divided paddles, well-adaY)ted for moving in the water, but 
awkward as instruments of locomotion, even on the level, 
sandy shores to which they resort at the breeding season. 

The tortoise has a fleshy tongue like that of a })arrot. 
The brain is but slightly developed, scarcely filling the cavity 
of the skull in the maiine species. At the same time, the 
animal possesses great muscular irritaljility, and extreme 
tenacity of life. All are oviparous, and bury their eggs, 
which are hatched by the warmth of the sun. The water 
tortoises, when seen below the surface, move like birds in the 
air, the paddles flapping like wings. 

The order is divided into four groups : first, Chersians, or 
the land tortoises ; second, the Elodians, or marsh tortoises ; 
third, the Potamians, or river tortoises ; fourth, the Thalas- 
sians, or sea tortoises, generally called turtles. These gTOups 
are again variously subdivided. 

The waters of Tropical America abovmd with the second and 
third families. The Elodians, found in the shallow pools of the 
Amazonian Valley, swim with facilit}^, and move quickly over 
the ground. They feed not only on vegetables, but prey on 
living animals — river molluscs, and other water creatures. 

The Potamians, which are found in vast numbers in the 
larger rivers, grow to a great size, — some weighing seventy 
j)Ounds. They feed much as the last described. They swim 
with ease, both on the suiface and at mid-watei'. The upper 
part of the body is generally brown or gray, with regular 
dotted spots ; while the under parts are pale white, rosy, and 
bluish. When they seize their food, they dart out their heads 
and long necks witli the rapidity of ari'ows, and l)ite sharply 



with their trenchant beaks, not letting go till they have taken 
the piece out. The females are said to be far more numerous 
than the males ; indeed, Father Gumilla, describing the turtles 
of the Orinoco, states what might be doubted, — tha,t " in each 
nest of eggs there is one, larger than the rest, from which the 
male is hatched. All the others are females." The eggs are 
spherical ; their shell solid, but membraneous or slightly cal- 

A further description of them will be given when the mode 
in which they are captured is described. The species, how- 
ever, deserves particular notice. 


Grotesque, and unlike what we fancy a reality, — such as 
those creatures which the wild imagination of the painters of 


bygone days delighted in producing, — is the curious matamata 
(Chelys matamata), found along the banks of the Amazon, as 

tup: chelys matamata. 539 

v/ell as in Guiana. It is covered with armour on the l^ack, neck, 
and head. On its head it wears what looks like a curiously 
shaped helmet, with a long tube in front, which serves as a snout ; 
while its feet are webbed, and armed with sharp claws at the 
end of its thick, powerful legs. From the chin hang down 
two fringe-like membranes, and the throat and neck are simi- 
larly ornamented. It is often three feet long ; and, from its 
formidable appearance, it might easily make a stranger eager 
to get out of its way. This helmet consists of two membrane- 
ous prolongations of the skin, which project on either side 
from its broad and flattened head. A long, flexible, double 
tube forms its snout. The shield on the back is marked with 
three distinct ridges, or keels, along it, and is broader before 
than behind. It has a stumpy, pointed tail. 

This curious monster, concealing itself among the reeds on 
the bank, lies in wait for its prey, darting forward its long 
neck, and seizing with its sharp beak any passing fish, reptile, 
or water-fowl ; or, should they not come near enough, it swims 
at a gi'eat rate after its prey. 




HE gi'eat ant-eater, dozing during the hot hours of 
the day within the shady coverts of the forest, 
sallies forth in the cool of the evening to search 
for its insect prey on the open Campos. The surface of the 
ground is there, in many districts, raised into conical hillocks, 
some five feet in height, and streaked by lines which differ in 
colour from the surrounding earth, and lead in all directions, 
over decayed timber and the roots of herbage, from one 
hillock to the other. These hillocks are the habitations of 
those curious small pale -coloured and soft- bodied insects 
called termites, or white ants. They differ very greatly from 
the true ants in their mode of growth, or metamorphosis, 
thouo:h similar to them in their habits. 

The true ant, when emerging from the egg, is a footless 
grub, and remains in the pupa, or (piiescent stage, inclosed in 
a membrane, till its limbs are developed. The termites at 
once possess the form they are to bear through life, except 


that the sexual individuals, during the latter stages of their 
growth, gradually acquire eyes and wings. They belong, 
indeed, to two very dissimilar orders of insects. The ant- 
bear, however, never troubles himself about this matter ; but, 
scraping away with his powerful claws, soon breaks open the 
citadel which the industrious insects have formed during days 
of unremitting toil. 

The mounds of the termites differ in composition. Some, 
consistino; of earth, are worked into a substance as hard as 
stone. The coloured lines on the ground mark the covered 
ways which lead from the places where the insects obtain 
their food, or the materials for their habitations. The mounds 
exhibit no openings for egress or ingress. They are often 
formed by several distinct species of termites, each of which 
keeps to its own portion of the mounds, and uses different 
materials. Within the fortress exist a vast number of cham- 
bers, with galleries connecting them, composed sometimes of 
]mrticles of earth, and at others of vegetable matter, cemented 
1)y the saliva of the insects. As they live on dry food, and 
in regions where no water is found, it is supposed that tliey 
may possess the power of combining, by vital force, the oxy- 
gen and hydrogen of their vegetable food, and thus form 
water. This supposition, if correct, accounts for the large 
amount of liquid which they employ in the construction of 
their cells. 

The inhabitants of these structures consist of differently 
formed insects, employed in various distinct occupations. The 
most numerous are the labourers, who liave to toil for the 
benefit of the community. They are sexless and blind ; yet, 
without the power of sight, they are ceaselessly employed 
in the construction of these curious mounds, or in taking care 



of the young, and in collecting and bringing in food for the 
support of the population. Then come the soldiers, who 
defend the fortress, or, as more frequently happens, sacrifice 
themselves for the protection of the rest. The two most 
important personages of the community are the king and 
queen, who are the parents of future colonies. These are 

alwa3^s found in every perfect 
termitarium. There are also a 
" ^\?$?^ ^^ large number of winged termites, 
male and female, who, at a certain 
period of the year — generally at 
the commencement of the rainy season — issue forth from the 
hive into the world. Although a large number are destroyed, 
a few escape, and, pairing, become the parents of fresh colonies. 
The formation of a new citadel or colony takes place some- 
what in the followino- manner : — On a mound becominof over- 
stocked, a party of workers, guarded by a body of soldiers, 
issue forth, and commence a fr^esh edifice at a distance from 
the old one. Here they form a large cell in the centre, sur- 
rounded by numerous galleries leading to smaller cells. From 
thence they run their covered ways, in suitable directions, 
towards spots whence they can obtain their necessary supplies 
of food and building materials. This being accomplished, they 
go in search of a royal pair ; whom, when they have found, 
under a leaf or clod of earth, they conduct into the interior 
cell, where they are installed in due state. The newly-married 
couple, who have by this time got rid of their wings, are con- 
siderably larger than the rest of the population, but are help- 
less individuals, having neither the power of working nor 
fighting. The king soon dies ; but his consort, instead of 
pining for his loss, sets herself to work for the benefit of 


posterity, by laying a countless number of eggs. As soon as 
these are deposited the workers cany them off, and place 
them in the cells, where they watch over them with the most 
vigilant care, supplying the larvae with food as soon as they 
are hatched ; and when the nursery becomes full, carrying 
some off in their mouths to another cell. While some are 
thus employed, others increase the size of their abode by run- 
ning fresh corridors round the edifice, and forming new cells ; 
while other parties, protected by soldiers, are foraging far and 
wide for food for the ever-increasing population. 

In process of time — alwa^^s within twelve months — the 
numberless progeny of the queen become full-gTOwn. Some 
become developed into labourers, with smooth, rounded heads, 
and mouths adapted for carrying loads and working up the 
materials for the construction of their abodes ; others — the 
fighting class — have heads of large size, provided with pointed 
weapons of defence of various shapes, resembling, in different 
species, horns, pikes, rams ; while others are furnished with 
powerful jaws, resembling either sabres, swords, or sickles. A 
third class appear with eyes, and long, delicate wings — gay, 
happy creatures, far better formed, it would seem, to enjoy 
existence than their hard-working brethren. These are the 
males and females of the community. When they are pre- 
pared to issue forth from their birth-place, the labourers busily 
set to work to clear a passage to allow of their speedy egress. 
This takes place generally on a damp, close evening or cloudy 
morning. Countless numbers issue forth at intervals, till the 
whole progeny of males and females have emerged from their 
pupa state. They make a loud rustling noise as they fly through 
the air in all dii-ections ; but they are immediately set upon by 
numberless enemies, — goat-suckers, lizards, spiders, and ants. 


— who greedily eat them up. On reaching the ground they 
immediately divest themselves of their wings ; and the few 
pairs which escape from their foes seek safety in some hollow 
beneath a leaf or lump of earth, where they await the arrival 
of the faithful labourers, who now come forth in seai'ch of 
them, and conduct them, as has before been said, to the newly- 
formed abode prepared for their reception. And thus the 
wonderful process goes forward year after year. 

So utterly helpless are these males and females, that, were 
it not for the assistance of other individuals, the race would 
speedily become extinct. The warrior termites are utterly 
regardless of personal safety. When their castle is attacked, 
they appear in vast numljers at the breach, to cover the 
retreat of the labourers. As the lono- tonsfue of the ant-eater 
is projected among them, they throw themselves on it ; and no 
sooner is one regiment swallowed up than another rushes out 
to take its place — thus, by the sacrifice of themselves, enabling 
the rest of the community to seek safety in flight. 


Of the numerous true ants which exist in all parts of Tropi- 
cal America, the sauba is one of the most remarkable. In all 
parts of the country — as well near the abodes of man as in 
the distant wilds — large mounds are seen, two feet in length, 
and often upwards of forty yards in circumference, and distin- 
guished from the surrounding soil by the difference of colour. 
Yet these mounds are merely the domes or upper works of 
the vast subterranean galleries which run for enormous dis- . 
tances and to great depths below the surface. Unlike the 
termites, the armies go forth in open daylight in vast hordes, 
to obtain food or materials for the construction of their won- 


(Icitul habitations. Sometimes, many hundred yards away 
from these mounds, the whole ground seems covered with 
animated leaves, each of the size of a sixpence, moving at a 
steady pace over the ground. Each leaf is held vertically in 
the mandibles of an ant, which is conveying it for the purpose 
of thatching the domes which cover the entrance to its sub- 
terranean abode ; the roof thus formed protecting the cells 
beneath, tilled with young, from the heavy rains. Going in 
the direction whence the army is seen coming, we may find a 
tree covered by innumereJjle multitudes employed in cutting 
otf leaves. Here the labourers are protected by the warrior 
class, who appear also to perform the duties of overlookeivs, 
and keep them to their tasks. Each ant, on gaining a leaf, 
commences with its scissor-like jaws to make a semicircular 
incision on the upper side. It then takes it into its jaws, and 
detaches it by a sharp jerk. Having done this, it descends 
to the ground, and joining its comrades, wdio have been 
similarly employed, they return with their loads to the colony. 
Frequently, however, while an ant is up the tree, the piece of 
leaf falls to the ground, when it sets to work to cut off an- 
other ; while fiesh labourers appear, to carry away the pieces 
which have thus accumulated. 

The sauba ants are greatly dreaded by the inhabitants, as 
they frequently attack their cofiee and orange trees, and 
utterly destroy them. Sometimes, indeed, plantations have 
to be abandoned in consequence of the inroads of these per- 
severing insects. 

The body of the sauba ant is of a pale reddish-br<»\\ u 

colour, and of a solid consistency. The head is armed with 

a pair of sharp spines, while the thorax has three pairs of the 

same character. 

(379; 35 



There appear to be three orders of workers among them, 
greatly differing in size. One order has an enormously large 
head ; the head of another is very highly polished ; while 
that of a third is opaque — to enable it, apparently, to peiform 
the duties of a subterranean labourei-. The earth of which 
the domes of the sauba ants are composed is brought up from 
a considerable depth below. There are immerous entrances 


leading to the galleries, but, under ordinary circumstances, 
they are kept closed. The smaller • galleries lead, at a 
depth of several feet, to a broad, elaborately-worked tunnel 
of four or five inches in diameter, which conducts downwards 
to the centre chamber ; the abode of the royal pair, on whom 
devolves — as is the case with the termites — the duty of pro- 

SAU13A ANTS. 547 

pagating the species. Here they are guarded mucli in the 
same way by the labourers, who deposit the eggs in the cells, 
and finally assist in the exit of the winged males and females 
— which fly forth to be destroyed in vast numbers, the few 
who remain becoming the parents of other families. 

The female winged ants are of considerable size, measuring 
fully two and a quarter inches across the wings. The male is 
very much smaller. 

The royal chamber is curiously constructed. As soon as 
the newly-wedded pair are conducted within, the workers, 
who are themselves much smaller, so diminish the size of the 
entrance that it is impossible for the king and queen to escape. 
Round it are numerous exits and entrances, through which the 
workers convey the eggs when laid. The queen, after the 
death of her consort, lives for two or three years, employed 
during the whole of the time in laying eggs, at the rate of 
fifty in a minute. This will give some idea of the rapid in- 
crease of the population. 

The workers vary somewhat in size and appearance. While 
a large number are employed in bringing in leaves and granules 
of earth for thatching their domes, as well as various sorts of 
provision, others are engaged in tending the royal chamber — 
carrying the eggs to the cells, and watching over the young. 
There is another class, whose heads are covered with hairs, 
and who appear to be employed entirely below ground, pro- 
bably as excavators or tunnellei's. 

Like the Cyclops, they have in the centre of their forehead 
a single eye, very different in structure to the compound eyes 
on the sides of their head. The other workers do not possess 
this peculiar frontal eye, nor is it found in any other species 
of ant. 


It is wonderful what extensive tunnels these ants will 
form. Near Rio de Janeiro a tunnel was discovered, exca- 
vated by the creatures under the River Parahiba, as broad as 
the Thames at London Bridge. Near Para they, on one 
occasion, pierced the embankment of a large reservoir to such 
an extent as to allow the escape of a vast body of water before 
the damage could be repaired. In the same neighbourhood 
an attempt was made to destroy their colonies, by blowing 
fumes of sulphur down the galleries by means of bellows. ]\Ii\ 
Bates relates, that he saw smoke issuing from a vast number 
of outlets, one of which was seventy yards distant from the 
place where the bellows were used. 

They wander to a great distance in search of plunder, and 
enter houses for the purpose of canying off the faiina or man- 
dioca meal. The same natui^alist relates that he was one 
night awoke by his servant telling him that rats were robbing 
the farina baskets. On listening, he was certain that the 
noise was unlike that made by rats. On going to the store- 
room he there found a broad column of sauba ants, consisting 
of thousands' of individuals, passing to and fro between the 
door and his baskets of meal. Most of those passing out- 
wards were loaded each with a grain of farina, larger and 
many times heavier than the bodies of the carriers. The 
baskets, which were on a high table, were entirely covered 
with ants, many hundreds of whom were employed in snipping 
the dry leaves which served as a lining ; and this had pro- 
duced the rustling sound which had disturbed him. He and 
his servant in vain attempted to exterminate them by killing 
them with their wooden clogs. Fresh hosts came on to take 
the place of the slain. The next night they returned, when 
he attempted to get rid of them by laying trains of gun- 


powder along tlieir line to blow them up. Not, however, till 
he had repeated this operation several times, did the survivors 
of the daring depredators retreat. 


A curious snake, with something the character of the 
English slow-worm, the amphisbsena — called by the natives 
Mai das Saiibas, or the mother of the saubas — is frequently 
found in these mounds. The natives believe that the ants 
treat it with great affection, and will, if the snake is removed, 
leave the spot. It is probable, however, that the amphisbsena 
takes up its abode in the nest for the convenience of de- 
vouring the inhabitants, whenever unable to procure other 

Some of the American ants are of great size. One species 
(the Dinoponera grandis) is an inch and a quarter in length, 
and proportionally stout. It is seen marching in single file 
through the forest ; but though of considerable size, its sting 
is not severe, while there is nothing particularly interesting 
about its habits. 


There are, however, several species of foraging ants, called 

ecitons, which move in vast bodies throuo-h the forest in 

search of prey. They are carnivorous, and attack not onl}' 

insects and gi-ubs of all sorts, but even other ants, — assaulting 

their citadels and carrying off the slaughtered inhabitants. 

The natives, when they meet them in the forest, hurry out 

of their way, to avoid their fierce attacks. Their connnuni- 

ties appear to be composed, besides males and females, of two 

classes of workers, one with head and jaws very much larger 

than the others. 

35 R 


One species of these foraging ants is known as the Eciton 
rapax, the larger workers among which are half an inch in 

The two common species of ecitons are, Eciton hamata and 
Eciton drepanophora, which are very similar in their habits 
and appearance. 

They are of the most pugnacious character, and a person 
incautiously getting in their midst finds himself furiously 
attacked. They climb u}j his legs, and, holding on by their 
pincer-like jaws, double in their tails, and sting with all their 
might. The natives, on seeing them, cry out, '' Tauoca " — 
the name which they give to the ecitons — and scamper off 
to a distance. The only way of getting lid of them is to 
pluck them out one by one ; but so securely do they fasten 
themselves to the skin, that their head and jaws are left 
sticking to it. 

As they advance through the forest, the creatures on which 
they prey endeavour to get out of their way ; but vast num- 
bers of maggots, caterpillars, larvio, and ants of other species 
fall victims to their ferocity. They advance in a long column 
five or six deep, while thinner columns forage on either flank, 
till they arrive at a mass of rotten wood abounding in insect 
larva?, when they surround it, and do not again move forward 
till every particle of food has been carried off. 

When they discover a wasp's nest, they attack the papery 
covering to get at the larvae pupae and newly -hatched wasps. 
In spite of the rage of the parents, who vamly keep flying 
about them, they carry off their spoil in fragments ; the carriers 
having their loads apportioned to their size — the dwarfs taking 
the smaller pieces, and the stronger fellows the heavier por- 
tions. Sometimes two ants join in carrying one piece. ecitoxs. 551 

robbp:r ecttoxs. 

Another species (the Eciton legionis) lias Leen known to 
attack other ants' nests for the sake of ])hinder. Mr. Bates 
saw an army of them employed on the face of an inclined 
hank of earth. They were excavating mines to get at the 
nest of a larger species of ant of the genus Formica. Some 
were rushing into the passages, others were seen assistmg 
their conn*ades to lift out the bodies of the formicce, while 
others were tearing them in pieces — their weight heing too 
oreat for that of a sino-le eciton. A number of carriers then 
seized each a fragment and carried it down the slope. When 
the naturalist duo- into the earth with a small trowel, the 
eager freebooters rushed in as fast as he excavated, ami 
carried off the ants, so rapidly tearing them in pieces that he 
had great difficulty in rescuing a few entire specimens. 

The little ecitons seemed to be divided into parties, some 
excavating, others carrying away the grains of earth. When 
the shafts became rather deep, tlie mining parties had to 
climb up the sides each time they wished to cast out a pellet 
of earth ; but their work was lightened by their comrades, 
who stationed themselves at the mouth of the shaft and re- 
lieved them of their burdens, carrying the particles to a suffi- 
cient distance from the edge of the liole to ]^revent them 
rolling in again. All the work seemed thus to be performed 
by intelligent co-oj)eratioii among the host of eager little 
creatures. Still, there was not a rigid division of lal)our ; for 
some of them, whose proceedings he watched, acted at one 
time as carriers of pellets, an<l at another as miners, and all 
shortly afterwards assumed the office of conveyers of the spoil. 
In about two hours, all the nests of the formica^ were rifled. 


He frequently saw these little creatures engaged apparently 
in play, in the neighbourhood of their homes. Some were 
walking slowly about, others were brushing their antennae 
with their fore-feet ; but the drollest sight was to see them 
cleaning one another. Here and there an ant was seen 
stretching forth first one leg, then another, to be brushed or 
washed by one or more of its comrades ; who performed the 
task by passing the limb between the jaw and the tongiie, 
finishing by giving the antennae a fiiendly wipe. 

There are two species of blind ecitons — which, however, 
go on foraging expeditions, and even attack the nests of other 
stinging species ; but, avoiding the light, they move always 
under leaves and fallen branches : when the columns have to 
pass a cleared space, "the ants form covered ways with gi-anules 
of earth, arched over and holding together mechanicalty. 


Two other species — Eciton vastator, and Eciton erratica 
-both of which are blind, move entkely under covered ways 

in search of promising hunting-grounds. Their arcades are 
sometimes two hundred yards in length, the grains of earth 
being taken from the soil over which the column is passing, 
and fitted together without cement. In this they are dis- 
tinguished from the covered ways made by the termites, who 
use a olutinous saliva for cementing- their edifices. These 
blind ecitons build up the side of their convex arcade, and in 
a wonderful manner contrive so to fit in the key-stones, with- 
out allowing the loose uncemented structure to fall to pieces. 
Whenever a breach is made in any of their covered ways, the 
workers remain behind to repair the damage, while the sol- 
diers issue forth in a menacino- manner, rearing their heads, 


and snapping their jaws with an expression of fiercest rage 
and defiance. 

The above account will give some idea of the vast numbers 
and varieties of the termites and ants of this region, and of 
the wonderful way in which Providence has furnished them 
with the means of sustaining existence, and taking their part 
in the economy of nature. Science is deeply indebted to 
Mr. Bates, for his persevering efforts and acute observation 
in makino- known the varieties and habits of these curious 


Although the rest of the animal creation is small compared 
with the creatures of the Eastern world, insects and reptiles 
attain a size which will vie with those of any portion of the 
globe. Here we have a centiped nearly a foot in length, 
with innumerable legs, and two horns or feelers, which it pro- 
trudes Avith the most venomous expression. These animals 
are not only hideous to look on, but their bite is very pain- 
ful, though not dangerous. 

Cockroaches swarm everywhere ; but the lire-ant is, for its 
size, probably the most terrible of created beings. Its bite 
produces the most acute j)ain ; and where they swarm, on the 
dry sandy shores of the streams, they frequently compel the 
natives to desert their villages. Mrs. Agassiz mentions hav- 
ing on one occasion hung some towels to dry on the cord of 
her hammock, and was about to remove them, when suddenly 
her hand and arm seemed plunged into fire. She dropped 
the towels as if they were hot coals, which for the moment 
they literally seemed to be. She then saw that her arm was 
covered with little brown ants. A native brushed them off 
in all haste ; and an army of them was found passing over 


the hammock, and out of the window, near which it hnno-. 
He said they were on their way somewhere, and if left undis- 
turbed would be gone in an hour or so. 


Of those diamonds of the night, the hre-iiies and lire- 
beetles, there are numerous species. One of the most abun- 
<lant — and of much larger dimensions than the rest of the 
elaters or beetles — pyrophorus noctilucus, called b}^ the natives 
cocuja, displays both red and green light. On the upper sur- 
face of the thorax there are two oval tubercles, hard and 
transparent, like bull's-eye lights let into a ship's deck. These 
are windows out of wliich shine a \avid green luminousness, 
which appears to fill the interior of the chest. Then on the 
under surface of the body, at the base of the abdomen, thei-e 
is a transverse orifice in the shelly skin, covered with a deli- 
cate membrane, which glows with a strong ruddy light ; visible, 
however, only when the wing-cases are expanded. It is about 
an inch and a half long, of a brown colour, and has a strong- 
spine situated beneath the thorax, which fits at pleasure into 
a small cavity on the upper part of the abdomen. By means 
of this machine it can, when placed on its back, spring up a 
couple of inches, and regain its feet. When preparing to do 
this it moves its head and thorax backwards, so that the pec- 
toral spine is drawn out and rests on the edge of the sheath. 
The same backward movement being continued, the spine, by 
the full action of the muscles, is bent like a spring, and the 
insect at this moment rests on the extremity of its head and 
^ving cases. The effort being suddenly relaxed, the head and 
thorax fiy up, and in consequence the base of the wing-cases 
strike the supporting surface with such force that the insect 


by the reaction is jerked upward, while the projecting points 
of the thorax and the sheath of the spine serve to steady the 
whole body. 

So brilliant is the light of these creatures, that even one 
moved over the print of a book vrill enable a person to read 
Ijy it, while eight or ten placed in a clear glass bottle serve 
the purpose of a lamp. The Brazilian ladies ornament their 
dresses with these lire-beetles, by securing them so as not to 
injure the creatures ; while they frequently wear several in 
the braids of their dark hair, which, when they walk abroad 
in the evening, has a curious and beautiful effect.* 

Prescott relates that when the Spaniards first invade<l 
America, on seeing the air tilled with cocujas during the 
darkness of nioht, their excited imaoinations converted them 
into an army with matchlocks, and they waited, expecting to 
be attacked by an overwhelming force. A similar stoiy is 
told of the British, when first landing in the West Indies, 
being induced to hastily re-embark on seeing at night in- 
numerable lights moving about, which they supposed were 
Spaniards approaching to defend the shore. 


The forests of Brazil exhibit numerous l)caiiti1'ul examples 
of insect woikmanship. Among others is the work of a cater- 
pillar- — a cocoon about the size of a sparrow's egg, woven in 
broad meshes of either buff or rose-coloured silk, and seen 
suspended from the tip of an outstanding leaf by a strong 
thread, live or six inches in length. It forms a cimspicuous 
object hung thus in mid-air. Tlie glossy threads with which 
it is knitted are stout, and the structure is not likely therc- 

* U0S8C and Bivrwin. 



fore to be torn by the beaks of insectivorous birds ; while its 
pendulous position makes it doubly secure against their 
attacks, as the apparatus gives way when they peck at it. 
There is a small orifice at each end of the egg-shaped bag, to 
admit of the escaj^e of the moth when it changes from the 
little chrysalis which sleeps tranquilly in its airy cage. 

Other caterpillars form cases with fragments of wood or 

>— '^'■y' -^ 



leaves, in which they live secure from then' enemies, whilst 
they are feeding and growing. Some of these, composed of 
small bits of stick, are knitted together with fine silken 
threads, and others make tubes very like the cadis-worms of 
English ponds. Others choose leaves, with which they form 
an elongated bag, open at both ends, having the insides lined 


with thick webs. As the weio-ht of one of these dwelhn<^s 
would be greater than the caterpillar inside could sustain, it 
attaches the case by one or more threads to the leaves or 
twigs near which it is feeding. 


There is a large and beautiful insect, with an enormous 
transparent prolongation of the forehead, which is supposed 
to have a resemblance to a lantern : it is called the lantern- 
fly (Fulgoi'a laternaria). Though often described as possessing 
luminous properties, it is now known to be destitute of any 
phosphorescence whatever. 


Often through the woods a loud, sharp, resonant stridulation 
is heard, sounding like the syllables " Ta, na, na," succeeding 
each other with little intermission. It is produced by a 
species of wood cricket, called by the natives after the sound 
it produces. The total length of the body is two inches and 
a quarter when the wings are closed. The insect has an in- 
ilated bladder-like shape, owing to the gTeat convexity of the 
thin, firm, parchmenty wing-cases ; the little creature being 
of a pale green colour. The instrument by which it pro- 
duces its music is contrived out of the ordinary nervures of 
the wing-case. In each wing-case the under edge of the 
wing itself has a horny lobe. On one wing this lobe lias a 
sharp raised margin, on the other the strong membrane which 
traverses it on the under side is crossed by a number of fine 
and sharp furrows like those of a file. When the insect 
rapidly moves its wings, the file of the one lobe is scraped 

* Chlorocelus tanana. 


sharply across the horny margin of the other, thus producing 
the sounds ; the parchmenty wing-cases and the hollow drum- 
like space they enclose assisting to give resonance to the tones. 
These notes are the call notes of the males, inviting a mate to 
his burrow.* 


Enormous as are the trees of the Amazonian forests, and 
able to withstand the fiercest storms, they have frequently to 
succumb to the attacks of minute insects. Many a monarch 
of the woods has been brought low by the efforts of the 
persevering termites ; but they have other enemies. The 
palm-trees are assailed by a group of beetles (the Histeridae) 
which take possession of the moist interior of their stems. 
One of these is an enormous fellow — the hister maximus. 
Another group have their bodies as thin as wafers, to enable 
them to live in the narrow crevices of the bark. One set of 
species, however (the trypanseus), are totally different, being- 
cylindrical in shape. They drill holes in the solid wood, and 
look like tiny animated gimlets when seen at work ; their 
pointed heads being fixed in the wood, while their smooth 
glossy bodies work rapidly round so as to create little 
streams of sawdust from the holes. 

The caribi, which in Europe perform the important duty 
of scavengers, and live on the gTound, are in South America 
nearly always found on trees. Some are of enormous size. 

The Hercules beetle, which lives on the mamma Americana, 
attains a length of five and sometimes six inches. It is 
known by the singular horn-shaped proboscis rising from the 
head and thorax, which gives it so formidable an appearance. 
Its duty is probably to eat up the rotten wood. 

* Bates. 



Other members of the family, — known as the elephant, 
Neptune, and typhon, — excavate burrows in the earth, living 
on the decomposed trunks of trees during the day, and flying 


about at night with a loud humming noise — apparently to 
enjoy the air, of which they are depi'ived in the da^'time. 

The megasominac is of an enormous size, as is also tlie 
beautiful Inca beetle. 




Among the most beautiful beetles in the Brazils is the 
diamond beetle (Entrinus nobilis), of a lustrous azure green, 
and with golden wings. AVith it, and other species, the ladies 
form necklaces, and ornament their dresses. 

In Venezuela, the cactus plants, which grow so abundantly, 
serve to nourish the valuable thouo-h odd-lookinof little 
coccus cacti. The male and female differ greatly. 
The female resembles a Lilliputian tortoise, and is of 
a dark brown colour, with two light spots on the back 
covered with white powder. The male, possessed of 
a pair of wings, is much smaller, and roves about at 
will from plant to plant. The female, a short time 
after she has become full-grown, secures herself to a 
leaf, where she remains immovable. She now grows 
to such a size, that she more resembles a seed belong- 
ing to a plant than an insect, all her limbs being 
completely concealed by her wide-expanded body. 
In process of time, before the young insects are 
born, the cochineal - gatherers detach the insect by 
means of a knife dipped in boiling water, which kills them. 
They are then dried in the sun, and appear like small dry 
berries of a deep mulberry colour. 



Fear-inspiring is the appearance of the great crab-spider — ■ 
the Mygale avicularia, one genus of the formidable Arachnida 
family — with a body two inches in length, and, when the legs 
are expanded, seven inches across, covered entirely with coarse 
gray, reddish hairs. It lives among the rocks in the drier 
regions ; some dwell under stones, others form artistic tunnels 
under the earth, and some build their dens in the thatch of 


liouses. Bates one day saw some Indian children with one 
of these monsters secured by a cord round its waist, by which j 

they were leading it about the house as they would a dog. ] 

The hairs with which it is covered come off when touched, I 

and cause a peculiar and almost maddening irritation. This 
is, however, probably owing to their being short and hard, 
and thus getting into the fine creases of the skin, and not to 
any poisonous quality residing in the hairs. These monstrous ; 

spiders prey on lizards, small birds, and other diminutive , 

vertebrates. Their muscular power is very gi'eat. When i 

the creature is about to seize its prey, it fixes its hind-feet 
firmly in the ground, and lifting up the front ones, darts them 
ibrward, and fastens them with the double hooks which 
terminate its feet between the cranium and the first ver- 
tebra, thus preventing the possibility of their escaping. No- 
thing will then tear it from its prey. When pressed by 
hunger, it climbs at night the trees and shrubs in which 
humming-birds and other small birds are perched, or have 
built their nests, and sprmging on them, gi^asps them with its 
powerful claws. It seizes the anoli.s, a kind of water-lizard, 
in the same way. The fact of its seizing on birds, so lung 
doubted, though asserted by Madame Maiian, the French 
naturalist, has been corroborated by M. Jonnes, her country- 
man. He states that it spins no web to serve it as a dwell- 
ing, but burrows and lies in ambush in the clifi^^'s and hollow 
ravines. It often travels to a considerable distance, and 
conceals itself under leaves, thence to dart out on its prey ; or 
it climbs along the branches of trees to surprise the humming- 
birds and other small tree-creepers. Bates still further settles 
the point. 

With regard to the habits of another species Avhich does 

(cro) ;^G 



spin a web, he says that, catching sight of one of these 
spiders, he was attracted by its movements. It was in the 
crevices of a tree, across which was stretched a dense web. 
The lower portion of the web was broken, and two small 


birds, — finches, — were entangled in the pieces. They were 
the size of the English linnet, and probably male and female. 
One was quite dead, the other lay dying under the body of 


the spider, and was smeared Avith tlie tiltliy ri({Uor or saliva 
exuded Ly the monster. 

The mygale carries its eggs enclosed in a cocoon of white 
silk of a very close tissue, formed of two round pieces uniting 
at their borders. It supports this cocoon under its corselet 
by means of its antennuliB, and transports it along with it- 
self When hard-pressed by its enemies, it abandons it for a 
time, but returns to take it iij) as soon as the combat is con- 
cluded. Nearly two thousand eggs are contained in these 

The young ones when they appear are entirely white, 
gradually assuming the colour of the adult. 

The falces, or reaping-hook claws, of the great crab-spider 
are of enormous size, and are sometimes set in gold and used 
as toothpicks, from the idea that they possess some medicinal 
virtue to cure the toothache. 

The different species vary very much in their habits. One 
big fellow — the Mygale Blondii — forms a broad slanting 
gallery about two feet in length, the sides of which he lines 
beautifully with silk. Just before sunset he may be seen 
keeping watch near the mouth of his tunnel, disappearing 
suddenly wdien he hears a heavy foot-tread near his hiding- 

Many are of the most show}^ colours. Some double them- 
selves up at the base of leaf-stalks, so as to resemble a flower, 
and thus deceive the insects on which they prey. One 
of the most extraordinary in appearance — the Arosoma 
arcuatum — has two curved, bronze-coloured spines, an inch 
and a half in length, proceeding from its abdomen. It spins 
a large web, those huge s])ikes aj^parently being no impedi- 
ment to its work. 




Bees and wasps of a countless number of species abound in 
every region of the continent. Some build their habitations. 



composed of a papery substance, attached to the under side cf 
the broad leaves of the tucuma and other palms. Others, 
again, form them in hollow trees, or among their roots in 



the earth. Many build in houses, or pierce their mud walls 
till they look as if riddled with shot. Others make holes in 
the ground, especially in sandy places. Others, again, con- 
struct their habitations of clay, and fasten them to the boughs 
of trees or to buildings. There are, indeed, mason bees, car- 
penter bees, and miner bees and wasps. 

Watch the little, pale green bombex, or sand-wasp, at work. 


throwing out with its fore-feet jets of sand from the hole it is 
forming in the sloping bank. In a wonderfully short time 
the female miner has formeei a gallery two or three inches in 
length. Out she backs, making a few turns round the 
entrance to admire her work — or, probably, to take note of 
the locality — and then away she flies. She may be absent for 


a few minutes, or perhaps for an hour, according to her success 
in hunting. At length back she comes with a big fly in her 
grasp, benumbed by her sting. She carries it in, lays an egg 
in the body, which will serve as food for the soft footless 
grub soon to be hatched, and then closing the entrance, sets 
to work to form a new nursery like the first, which she will 
furnish in the same careful manner. It is curious how she 
can find her way back, for often she has to go half a mile 
before she can find a fly to suit her purpose. 

Another species, — the Monedula signata, — as large as a 
hornet, is particularly useful in carrying oflf the teasing flies, 
the bloodthirsty motucas, which buzz round the voyager 
on the Amazon when at anchor near a sand-bank. Bates 
was rather startled by seeing one fly directly at his face, on 
which it had espied a motuca, and which it carried ofi', 
holding it tightly to its breast. 

The pelopseus wasp builds a nest of clay, shaped like a 
pouch, two inches in length, and attaches it to a branch. It 
forms the clay in little round pellets, kneading it with its 
mandibles into a convenient shape, and humming cheerfully 
while engaged in its work. On arriving with the ball of 
moist clay it lays it on the edge of the cell, and then spreads 
it out round the circular rim by means of the lower lip, 
guided by the mandibles — sitting astride while at woi'k. On 
finishing each addition it takes a turn round, patting the 
sides with its feet inside and out, before flying off" for a fresh 
pellet. It feeds on small spiders, which it reduces to a half 
dead state by its sting, thus to serve as food for its progeny. 

One bee, — the Trypoxylon aurifrons, — builds a nest of clay 
like a squat round bottle or carafe ; generally in rows, one 
beside the other, on a branch, or in the corners of a building. 


The mclipona bees arc the most numerous of the honey- 
producing insects, their colonies being composed of vast 
numbers of individuals. They are smaller than the English 
hive-bee, and have no sting. The workers collect pollen as 
do other bees, but a great number are employed in gathering 
clay for forming walls as an outer protection to their nests. 
They first scrape the clay with their fore-mandibles, passing 
it on to the second pair of feet, and then to the large foliated 
expansions of the hind- shanks, patting it in the process, till 
the little hodsmen have as much as they can carry, when 
they fly otf with their loads to their nests. One species 
builds a tubular gallery of clay of a trumpet shape at the 
mouth. Here a number of the pigniy bees are stationed to 
act the part of sentinels. 

Thus the melipona bees are masons as well as workers in 
wax and pollen gatherers. Although they have no sting, 
they defend their habitations, and bite furiously when dis- 
turbed. Bates found forty-five species of these bees in 
different parts of the country, and one hundred and forty of 
other species. Several of them Avere attended by drones, 
which deposit their ova in the cells of the working bees, 
some of them having the dress and general appearance of 
then- victims. 


This is a region of mamificent butterflies. In the nei^'h- 
bourhood of Para alone seven hundred species have been 
found. Many seldom leave the shady paths which pierce 
the forests ; others, however, occasionally come forth into the 
broad sunliglit and more open glades. See the slender Morpho 
menelaus, with splendid metallic blue wings seven inches in 
expanse, flapping them as does a bird as it flies along. 


Far surpassing it, however, is the Morpho rhetenor ; which, 
conscious of its beauty, revels in the sunlight, Lut seldom 
ventures nearer than twenty feet from the ground. So dazzling 
a lustre have the upper wings of this butterfly, that when it 
flaps them occasionally, and the blue surface flashes in the 
sunlight, it may be seen a quarter of a mile ofl! 

Another species of the same genus has a satiny white hue ; 
but, infinite as they are in number, so most diversified are 
they in their habits, mode of flight, colours, and markings. 
Some are yellow, others bright red, green, purple, and blue. 
Many are bordered or spangled with metallic lines and spots 
of a silvery or golden lustre. Some have wings transparent 
as glass. 

One of these (the Hetaira esmeralda) is especially beautiful, 
having an opaque spot on its wings, of a violet and rose hue ; 
and as this is the only part visible when the insect is flying 
low over the dead leaves of the darker recesses of the forest — 
where it is alone found — it looks like the wandering petal 
of a flower. 

Of moths, too, there are great numbers, — among them, 
the Erebus strix, the largest of its family, sometimes measur- 
ing nearly a foot in expanse of wing. In the open sunny 
spots the bright air is often alive with superb dragon-flies. 
Upwards of one hundred species are found near Para. Some 
live only in the gloom of the forest. Often, however, they 
are the most beautiful, being more brightly coloured and 
delicate in construction than the others. Many delight to 
flit over the igarapes and calm pools. 

Among these, the Chalcopteryx rutilans has four wings, 
each transparent, — while the hind- wings, of a dark colour, 
glitter with a violet and golden eflulgence. They all wage 



unceasing war against the day-flying insects. When one is 
captured, the dragon-fl}' retires to a tree, and there, seated 



on a branch, devours the body at its leisure. It is wonderful 
the number of flies which these beautiful insects destroy. 
When evening comes on they eagerly fly ofl* to the chase, 
amid the swamps and around the tree-tops, or wherever their 

victims cono-resrate. 

o o 



F the palms alone, upwards of a hundred species are 
found in these forests. These supply the Indian 
with nearly all he wants to support existence. 
Their fruit, or pith, or crowns, furnish him with an abun- 
dance of food. He builds his hut and floors it with their 
wood, and thatches it with their leaves. From the trunks 
of some species he forms his canoes, of different sizes. He 
obtains from them oil, cord, thread, wine — or a beverage 
which answers the purpose — wax, mats, baskets, arrows for 
his sumpitan or bow, and numberless other articles. Pure, 
clear oils are made from some of the nuts and palm fruits ; 
while many palms yield a fibrous material admirably suited 
for cordage, being singularly elastic and resistant. 

From the curious candella-tree,- — called by the Spaniards 
arhol de la r}ianteca, by the Indians cuajo, — he obtains tallow 
for candles and excellent oil for lamps, and a beverage which 
is made from its fruit. 

The cow-tree supplies a milk in appearance like that of 
the animal from which it takes its name, but thicker. On 
analyzing this product, it is found to consist of water, animal 

woxdp:iis of the fohest. 


Tnilk, and wax as pure as that obtained from Lees. By dip- 
ping cotton in the liquid, too, candles can be made. 

In the hotter 
regions grows the 
bajuco d'agua, which 
supplies the place of 
wells and fountains, 
— each yard of it 
affording a pint of^ 
water. High up 
on the mountain- 
side, in the regions of icy wastes, 
called the paramos, grows the 
frailejou, which yields a pure tur- 
pentine, and assists to warm the 
human body. Of the palms, a 
few only can be described. There 
is the cocoa-nut palm, with its 
swollen bulb-like stem when 
young, its tall straight trunk 
when full-grown, its cluster of 
heavy fruit, its long plume-like 
drooping flower ; the coccoeiro, 
with its slighter trunk and pen- 
dent branches of small berry- 
like fruit ; the palmetto, with its 
tender succulent bud on the sum- 
mit of the stem, used as a vege- 
table, and proving an excellent 
substitute for cabbage ; the thorny icari, or cari — a variety of 
fan-palm. Its spiny stems and leaves, which cut like razors. 





make it difficult to approach. Its bunches of bright chestnut- 
brown fruit hang from between the leaves which form its 
crown, each bunch about a foot in length, massive and com- 
pact, like a large cluster of black Hamburg grapes. 

The syagrus palm has a greenish fruit, not unlike the olive 
in appearance, which hangs in large, pendent bunches just 
below the leaves. The fruit resembles somewhat that of the 
bread-tree, but is more slender and cylindrical in form. 

The leaves of different kinds of palms are used for thatch- 
ing the Indian huts, the curua palm among others. When 
young, they grow closely round the mid-rib attached to the 
axis by a few fibres only, so that when the mid-rib is held 
up they hang from it like so many straw-coloured ribbons. 
With these leaves both the walls and roofs are covered. 
The mid-rib, which is strong, and sometimes four or five 
yards long, is set across to serve as a support, and bind down 
the pendent leaves. Such a thatch will last for years, and is 
an excellent protection from rain as well as sun. 

The Indian furnishes himself with cups and vessels of all 
sorts from the cuieira-tree (Crescentia cajeput). It is of im- 
mense size, the fruit being like a gourd. It is spherical, of a 
light green shining surface, and grows from the size of an 
apple to that of the largest melon. It is filled with a soft 
white pulp, easily removed when the fruit is cut in halves. 
The rind is then alloAved to diy. Cups and basins of various 
sizes are made from it, which the Indians adorn with a variety 
of brilliant colours. 

One of the staple productions of the Upper Amazon is the 
guarana. It is a trailing plant, a sort of vine ; when full- 
grown, about eight feet high, and bearing a bean the size of a 
coffee-bean, two being enclosed in each envelope. This bean, 


after being roasted, is pounded in a small (juantity of water 
till it becomes compact, and, when dry, is about the colour of 
chocolate. It is then gi-ated with the rough tongue of the 
piraracu, and when mixed with sugar and water makes a 
refreshinor beverao^e. It is said to have an excellent effect 
when administered in cases of dian^ioea. 


Although at some times of the year the forests present only 
varied tints of green and brown, unrelieved by brighter colours ; 
at others, when, after the rains, nature has revived, the banks 
of the streams are gay and beautiful in the extreme. Thou- 
sands of brilliant blossoms of varied colours rise amid the 
trunks of the trees, or hang in rich festoons from the branches, 
while the air is laden with the almost overpowering perfume 
of numberless flowers. 

" Wild flowers," says Mrs. Agassiz, " are abundant ; not 
delicate small plants growing low among the moss and grass, 
but large blossoms covering tall trees, and resembling ex- 
otics at home by their rich colour and powerful odour — in- 
deed, the flowers of the Amazonian forests reminded me of 
hot-house plants — and there often comes a warm breath fi-om 
tlie depth of the woods laden with pi^M-fume, like the air from 
the open <lo6r of a conservatory." 

" Beautiful as are the endless forests, however," she re- 
marks in another place, " we could not l)ut long, when skirt- 
ing them day after day, without seeing a house or meeting a 
canoe, for the sight of tilled soil, for pasture lands, for open 
ground, for wheat-fields and hay-stacks ; for any sign, in short, 
of the presence of man. As we sat at night in the stern of 
the vessel, looking up the vast river stretching many luiudred 


leagues, with its shores of impenetrable forests, it was difficult 
to resist an oppressive sense of loneliness. Though here and 
there an Indian settlement or a Brazilian village appears, yet 
the population is a mere handful in such a territory." 

Wonderful is the change in the appearance of the tropical 
representatives of well-known families in the Old World. 

The india-rubber tree belongs to the milkweed family. 
The euphorbiace?e assume the form of colossal trees, constitut- 
ing a considerable part of its strange and luxuriant forest 
growth. The giant of the Amazonian woods, whose majestic 
flat crown towers over all other trees, while its white trunk 
stands out in strikino; relief throusfh the surroundino- mass of 
green — the sumaumeiu — is allied to the mallows of the North. 
Some of the most characteristic trees of the river-shore belong- 
to these two families. 

One of the most strikino- characteristics of the forest veo-e- 
tation is the way in which many of the trunks of the trees 
are supported by buttresses. The huge sumaumera is espe- 
cially remarkable ; but this disposition to throw out supports 
is not confined to one tree. It occurs in many families. 
These buttresses start at a distance of about ten feet from the 
ground, separating greatly towards the base, where they are 
often ten to twelve feet in depth. The lower part of the 
trunk is thus divided into several open compartments, so large 
that, if roofed over, they would form a hut with sufficient 
space for two people to stand up or lie down in. Others, 
however, rise to the height of twenty or thirty feet, and run 
up in the form of ribs to forty or fifty feet. Other trees ap- 
pear as if the}" were composed of a number of slender stalks 


l^otmd too'ether, and are ribbed to tlieir entire heio;ht. In 
some places the furrows reach completely through them, and 
appear like the narrow windows of a tower. The stems of 
others again rise on the summit of numerous roots, like the 
bulging-stemmed palm, apparently standing on a number of 
legs at the height of a dozen feet or more from the ground. 
Often the roots thus form archways sufficiently large for a 
person to walk beneath. 


Circling round the stems of trees in innumerable coils, and 
gi'asping them with a deadly embrace, grow in rich luxuriance 
countless wild vines, well meritino- the name of murderino; 
sipos. They hang in festoons from their boughs, and form an 
intricate tracery of network from ti-ee to tree, — often of 
sufficient strength to support the falling monarchs of the 
forest when time has wrought decay among their roots. 

Here are seen tillandsias and bromeliacese, like the crowns 
of huge pine-apples ; large climbing arums, with their dark 
gi'een and arrow-head shaped leaves, forming fantastic and 
graceful ornaments swinging in mid-air ; while huge-leaved 
ferns and other parasites cling to the stems up to the very 
highest branches. These are again covered by other creeping 
plants ; and thus we see parasites on pai'asites, and on these 
paj'asites again. As we gaze upwards, we see against the 
clear blue sky the finely divided foliage, many of the largest 
of the forest-trees havino- leaves as delicate as those of the 
trembling mimosa : among them appear the huge palmate 
leaves of the cecropias, and the oval glossy ones of the 
clusias, countless others of intermediate forms adding to the 
variety of its scener}', — the bright sunshine playing on the 


upper portion of the foliage, while a solemn gloom reigns 
among the dark columns which support this wondrous roof of 

In truth, in these woods a thousand objects attract the 
eye, each a world of varied vegetation in itself; while the 
ear listens to the quick rustling breeze moving the palm- 
leaves fifty feet or more above the head, — not like the slow 
gathering, rushing wind among the pine-trees in northern 
climes, but like rapidly running water. Now an immense 
butterfly of the most vivid blue comes sailing by to alight 
on a neighbouring shrub, when, suddenly folding his azure 
wings out of sight, it looks merely like some brown moth 
spotted with white. 

As evening comes on, in some districts a strange confusion 
of sounds is heard, as from a crowd of men shouting loudly 
at a distance. Now it seems like the barking of dogs, then 
like that of many voices calling in different keys, but all loud, 
varied, excited, full of emphasis ; and yet, after all, the rioters 
are but the frogs and toads uttering their usual notes. 


Along the whole extent of the submerged region on the 
banks of the Amazon, beginning at a distance of al)Out flfty 
miles from Para, as well as on the shores of many of its 
tributaries, grows a tree with bark and foliage not unlike that 
of the European ash. The trunk, however, shoots up to an 
immense heioht before throwing oflf branches. It is the valu- 
able seringa-tree (Siphonia elastica.), belonging to the family 
Euphorbia, which produces india-nibber. As soon as the 
waters after the rainy season have subsided, the natives go 
forth in parties to procure the sap with large bowls, clay 



moulds, pans in which to collect it, and axes for cutting the 
wood for their fires. Tliey build their huts in the neighbour- 
hood of the trees. 

The firet business is to make gashes in the bark, keeping 
them open by pegs, under which they place little clay cups, 
or shells. Each person has a certain number of trees under 
his charge. Every morning he goes round, and pours what 
has collected in the cups into a large bowl. The sap is at 
first of the consistency of cream, but it soon thickens. The 
moulds, which are generally in the form of bottles, are then 
dipped into the liquid. As soon as the coating is dried, the 
mould is again dipped in, and the same process is gone 
through for several days. The substance is at this time 
hard and white. Meantime fires are made with the nuts of 
several species of palms — the inaja and others. These pro- 
duce a thick black smoke. The india-rubber is then passed 
several times through it. By this means a dark colour and 
the proper consistency are obtained. The moulds being 
broken, the clay is poured out, and the material is ready for 
the market. 

Sometimes it is formed in large flat pieces ; and of late 
years it has been preserved in a liquid state in hermetically 
closed vessels. 

The seringa-tree differs greatly from the group of plants 
which furnish the caoutchouc of Africa and the West Indies ; 
tlie latter being the product of certain species of ficus of a 
climbing character, and inferior to the india-rubber of South 


Among the noblest of the forest monarchs appears a tree 
with deeply-scored reddish and ragged bark. Who would 



have supposed that from 
that vast trunk would is- 
sue a milky liquid scarcely 
distinguishable at first from 
that of the cow ? Yet 
such is the sap coming 
from the opening made by 
the axe from the massar- 
anduba or cow-tree. When 
fresh it serves every pur- 
pose of real milk when 
mixed with coffee ; but 
drunk pure has a somewhat 
coarse taste — and it is con- 



sidered dangerous to drink much of it, however refreshing a 
small quantity may be. It soon thickens, and forms a tena- 
cious glue, which can be usefully employed in cementing 
crockery. A decoction of the bark is employed as a red dye 
for cloth. The fruit, also, is largely consumed \ while the 
wood is excessively durable in water. 


Two lofty trees, closely allied to each other — the Lecythis 
ollaria and the Bertholletia excelsa — produce enormous cap- 
sules full of nuts. The first, called the sapucaya, yields these 
curious capsules known as cuyas de niaccao, or monkeys' 
drinking-cups. At the top is a circular hole, to which a 
natural lid fits exactly. On the nuts becoming ripe the lid 
is loosened, and the heavy cup falling to the ground, the nuts 
are scattered far and wide, when they are eaten by numerous 
animals on the watch for them. The collectoi-s, therefore, 
have difficulty in obtaining them. The other tree, known 
as the Brazil-nut tree, produces similar wooden vessels ; but as 
they have no lid, they fall entire to the ground, and are thus 
preserved till human beings come to collect them, when they 
are shipped to England and other parts of the world. 


On the surface of the tranquil pools, amid the recesses of the 
forest, float the wide-spreading circular leaves of the magnifi- 
cent Victoria regia, like vast dishes — their edges turned up all 
round — with beautiful fiowers rising amid them. The colour 
varies from the velvety white outer petals through every 
shade of rose to the deepest crimson, and fading again to a 
CJ'camy yellowish tint in the heart of the flower. The natives 



call it the forno do loiosoca, or oven of the jacana — the leaves 
being like that of the baking- pans, or ovens, on which the 
mandioca meal is roasted. The leaf rises from the root at the 
bottom of the pool, on a stock armed with sharp spines. 

When young, the leaf may be seen in the form of a deep 
cup or vase surrounded with ribs, at that time com- 
paratively small, the whole green expanse of the adult leaf 
covered in between them in regular rows of puffings. As the 
ribs grow their ramifications stretch out in every direction, 
the . leaflets one by one unfolding to fill the ever- widening 



spaces ; till at last, when it reaches the surface of the water, 
it rests horizontally above it without a wrinkle — the colossal 
leaf being thus supported by a heavy scaffold of ribs beneath 
it, sufficient not only to support the light-stepjjing jacana, but 
even a young child. Some of the leaves have a diameter of 
from four to five feet ; some may grow even to a larger size. 

" Here, seen in its own home, it has in addition to its own 
beauties the charm of harmony with all that surrounds it," 
observes Mrs. Agassiz, — " with the dense mass of forest, with 

PALMS. 583 

palm and parasite, with birds of glowing plumage, with insects 
of all bright and wonderful tints, and with fishes which, 
though hid in the water beneath it, are not less brilliant and 
varied than the world of hfe above." 


Almost countless are the varieties of trees in the Amazonian 
forests, and wonderful the diversity in their combination. 
Rarely is the soil found occupied for any extent by the same 
kind of tree. A vast proportion are yet unknown to science. 
The palms surpass in number and variety all their sylvan 
brethren. They differ wonderfully in form and size : some, 
sturdy giants towering up towards the sky with wide-spread- 
ing branches ; others, delicate little pigmies with slender stems 
and small broom-like crowns ; while others assume the form 
of creepers, and wind in many folds round the supporting 
trunks of other trees. 

*' Among them are four essentially different forms : — the 
tall ones, with a slender and erect stem, terminating with a 
crown of long feathery leaves, or with broad fan-shaped leaves," 
remarks Professor Agassiz ; '' the bushy ones, the leaves of 
which rise, as it were, in tufts from the ground, the stem re- 
maining hidden under the foliage ; the brush-like ones, with a 
small stem, and a few rather large leaves ; and the winding, 
creeping, slender species. Their flowers and fronds are as 
varied as their stalks. Some of these fruits may be compared 
to large woody nuts with a fleshy mass inside, otliers have a 
scaly covering, others resemble peaches or apricots, while 
others, still, are like plums or grapes. Most of them are eat- 
able, and rather pleasant to the taste." 

Among the most beautiful is the mauritia, or miriti, with 




pendent clusters of reddish fruit ; 
its enormous, spreading, fan-like 
leaves cut into ribbons. Con- 
trasted with it appears the mani- 
caria, or the bussu, with stiff 
entire leaves, some thirty feet 
in length, almost upright, and 
very close in their mode of 
growth, and serrated all along 
their edges. The leaves all 
sprout from a comparatively 
short stem. 

More curious is the raphia, 
with plume - like leaves, some- 
times from forty to fifty feet in 
length, starting also from a short 
stem- — almost from the ground. 
Its vase-like form is peculiarly 
graceful and symmetrical. 

Among the most curious is the 
pashiiiba barrigudo, or bulging- 
stemmed palm (Iriartea ventri- 
cosa) ; which, rising on a pyramid 
of roots for several feet, runs up 
in a single column for some dis- 
tance, and then swells in a curi- 
ous spindle-form, again to assume 
the same proportions as below, 
till its head spreads out in several 
fan-like branches with web- 
shaped leaflets. The tree looks 

PALMS. 585 

as if suppoi-tccl on stilts, and a person can stand upright 
among the roots of old trees with the perpendicular stem 
above his head. These roots have the form of straight rods, 
and are studded with stout thorns, whilst the trunk is quite 
smooth. The purpose of this curious arrangement is probably 
to recompense the tree by root-growth above the soil for its 
inability, in consequence of the competition of neighbouring 
roots, to extend itself underground. 

Here, too, grows the slender and graceful assai palm, 
with its perfectly smooth trunk, — the fruit appearing in a 
heavy cluster of berries just below the cluster of leaves on 
its summit. The stem is hard and tough as horn, and is 
much made use of, when split into narrow planks, for the 
construction of walls and flooring of houses. 

The fruit is about the size of a cranberry, and of a dark 
brown colour. When boiled and crushed it yields a quantity 
of juice of about the consistency of chocolate, somewhat of the 
colour of blackberry juice, when it has a sweetish taste — and is 
eaten, made into cakes with the flour of the mandioca root. 
From it also is formed the favourite beverage of the people. 
To obtain the fruit, the native fastens a strip of palm-leaves 
round his instep, thus binding his feet together, to enable him 
to climb the slippery trunk, which he does with wonderful 
rapidity, to obtain the fruit at its summit. 

Wherever a native village exists, there are seen growing in 
clusters, beautiful ornaments beside the palm-thatched huts, 
the tall and elegant pupunha, or peach palm — Guilielma 
speciosa — to the height of sixty feet, and often perfectly 
straight. A single bunch of the fruit weighs as nuicli as a 
man can carry, and on each tree several are borne. It takes 
its name from the colour of the fruit, not from its flavour or 

586 PALMS. 

nature, for it is dry and mealy, and may be compared in taste 
to a mixture of chestnuts and cheese. It is eagerly devoured 
by vultures, who come in quarrelsome flocks to the trees when 
it is ripe. Dogs often feed on it. It is one of the few trees 
which the natives brought with them, it is said, from their 
original home, and have here cultivated from time imme- 
morial. The fruit, when boiled, is nearly as mealy as a potato ; 
and in perfection is the size of a large peach. It is generally 
supposed that there is more nutriment in the fruit than in fish, 
— about a dozen forming a meal for a grown-up person. The 
leaves of its crown are evenly arched over, forming a deep 
green vault — the more beautiful from the rich colour of the 
foliage. When the heavy cluster of ripe red fruit hangs 
under its dark vault, the tree is in its greatest beauty. 

The palms are among the most characteristic features of 
tropical scenery. The variety of their forms, fruit, foliage, 
and flowers is perfectly be"s\dldering, and yet as a group their 
character is unmistakable. On the whole, no family of trees 
is more similar ; geneiically and specifically, none is more 
varied. Their leaves follow the simple aiTangement of those 
of grasses, in which the leaves are placed alternately on 
opposite sides of the stem, thus dividing the space round it in 
halves. As the stem of the branches elongates, these pairs of 
leaves are found scattered along its length, and it is only in 
the ears, or spikes of some genera, that we find them growing 
so compactly on the axis as to form a close head. 

Of this law of gi^owth the palm known as the baccaba 
is an admirable illustration, its leaves being disposed in pairs 
one above another at the summit of the stem, but in such 
immediate contact as to form a thick crown. Its appearance 
is in consequence totally diff*erent from any other palm, except 




perhaps the jacitaraj which has a slender, winding stem. 
Sometimes the crown is more open, as in the inaja — Maxi- 
miliana regia — in whicli the stem is not very high, and the 

. n'- 


leaves gTow in cycles of five, separating slightly, so as to form 
an open vase rising from a slender stem. 

Professor Agassiz remarks that the rest of this trojiical 
forest is as interesting to the geologist as to the Lotanist, as 

590 PALMS. 

it reveals to him its relation to the vegetable world of past 
ages, showing those laws of growth which unite the past and 
the present. 

The tree-ferns — the chamgerops, the pandanus, the arau- 
carias — are modern representatives of past types. The former 
is a palm belonging to the ancient vegetable Avorld, but having 
its representative in our days. The modem chamaerops, with 
its fan-like leaves spreading on one level, stands, with respect 
to its structure, lower than the palms with pinnate leaves, 
which belong almost exclusively to our geological age, and 
have numerous leaflets rangino^ alonor either side of a central 
axis. The young palms, while their elders tower fifty feet 
above them, are often not more than two inches high ; and to 
whatever genus they may belong, invaiiably resemble the 
chamserops, — having their leaves extending fan-like on one 
plane, instead of being scattered along a central axis, as in 
the adult tree. The infant palm is, in fact, the mature 
chamserops in miniature ; showing that among plants, as 
among animals — at least in some instances — there is a corre- 
spondence between the youngest stages of growth in the 
higher species of a given type, and the earliest introduction 
of that type on earth. 

More gregarious in their habits than most other palms are 
the urucuri palms — Attalea excelsa — gTOves of which beautify 
the higher lands, and gi*ow in vast numbers under the crowns 
of the more lofty ordinary forest trees ; their smooth columnar 
stems being generally fifty feet in height, while their broad, 
finely pinnated leaves, interlocking above, form arches and 
woven canopies of elegant and diversified shapes. The fruit, 
in size and shape like the date, has a pleasant flavoured 
juicy pulp, and falls to the gi^ound when ripe. 




maintain tlie claim of its ocean character, the 
Amazon possesvses that huge, whale-like creature 
the manatee, or cow-fish, called by the Brazilians 
peixe hoi, or vacca "tnarina. It is generally about seven 
or eight feet long, though it attains a length of ten feet or 
more, and nine feet and upwards in girth. On the upper part 
the body is perfectly smooth, and of a lead colour. It tapers 
off towards the tail, which is flat, horizontal, and semicircular, 
without any appearance of hind-limbs. The head is in reality 
small, and the neck undistinguishable ; though it has an 
enormous mouth, with fleshy lips like those of a huge cow, 
with an ugly countenance. On the lips arc stiff bristles, 
while a few hairs only are scattered over the body. Just 
behind the head arc two powciful oval fins, bencatli which, 
in the female, arc the breasts. The ears are very minute 
holes, and the eyes are extremely small. The skin of the 
back is fully an inch thick ; and beneath it is a layer of fat, 



also an inch or more in thickness. The fins of the fore-limbs, 
consist of bones exactly corresponding to those of the human 
arm, with five fingers at the extremity — every joint distinct, 
although completely encased in its thick inflexible skin. 

The manatee ranges from the mouth of the Amazon to the 
upper waters. It feeds on the grass growing on the borders 
of the lakes and rivers. It swims at a rapid rate, moved by 


the tail and paddles. The creature is hunted and killed by 
the natives with harpoons, the flesh being much sought after. 
The taste is somewhat between that of pork and beef The 
natives dress it by catting the meat into small pieces and 
sticking them on skewers, which they place in a slanting 
position over the flames to roast. 

The female produces one, though sometimes two at a birth, 


which she holds in her paddles while giving suck. From 
twenty to twenty-five gallons of oil are obtained from each 
sea-coAv. The poor manatee, little able to defend itself, has 
other enemies besides mart The jaguar lies in wait for it on 
the trunk of a tree overhanging the placid pool, and seizing 
it Avith his powerful claws as it swims by, holds it in a vice- 
like grasp, from which in spite of its strength it in vain 
endeavours to escape. 

Those who have voyaged on the ocean, know the solemn 
feeling and the idea of vastness which is conveyed during a 
calm at night, when monstei^s of the deep are heard far and 
near as they come to the surface to inhale the air, or '' blow," 
as it is called. The same feeling is experienced by the 
traveller up the Amazon when on board his montaria at 
anchor, when he hears the splashing and snorting sounds of 
its numerous inhabitants, as they rise through the mirror-like 
plain, in which countless thousands of bright stars are re- 
flected. Here fresh-water dolphins roam in great numbers. 
In the Lower Amazon are two species ; one of wdiich, — 
the tucuxi, — when it comes to the surface to breathe, rises 
horizontally, showing first the back of its fin, and then, draw- 
ing an inspiration, generally diving down head-foremost ; and 
another, called the bonto by the natives. When it rises, 
it first shows the top of the head, and then floating on- 
wards, immediately afterwards dips its head downwards, its 
back curving over — exposing successively the whole dorsal 
ridge without showing the tail-fin ; the well-known mode 
in which the sea-porpoise swims, which makes it appear 
to pitch head over heels. The natives regard the bonto or 
largest species w^ith especial awe, and A\'ill never kill one 
voluntarily. Though their fat yields an excellent oil for 

(379) 38 


lamps, tliey believe that blindness would result from its 

The bonto is supposed to possess the characteristic of the 
malign water-nymphs of the Old World. They have a legend 
that a bonto was in the custom of assuming the shape of a 
beautiful woman, with hair hanging loose down to her heels ; 
who, going on shore, endeavoured to entice young men to 
the river. When any unhappy youth, smitten with her 
charms, was induced to follow her to the water's edo-e, she 
would grasp her victim round the waist, and plunging beneath 
the waves with a triumphant shriek, disappeared with him 
for ever. 


There are several kinds of piranha, many of which abound 
in the waters of the Tapajos. The piranha, called also the 
caribe, is a kind of salmon (Tetragonopterus). They are 
caught with any kind of bait, their taste being indiscriminate, 
and their appetite most ravenous. They frequently attack 
the legs of bathers near the shore, inflicting severe wounds 
with their strono; triano-ular teeth. 


The smaller inhabitants of the ocean are also represented 
in these fresh waters. The little mamayacu, a species of diodon, 
which in the ocean attains a foot in length, is found in the 
Amazon three or four inches long, of a pretty green colour, 
banded with black. On being caught— which it easily is — it 
becomes in the hand as round as a ball. The natives, when 
a person gets corpulent, tell him that he has grown as fat as a 

The ocean species, from having the skin about the abdomen 



looser tlian that above, floats, when it becomes distended with 
air, with its back downwards. It can thus move about as 
rapidly as in its usual position, by aid of its pectoral fins. 
By the movement of its jaws it makes a curious noise, and 
can give with its sharp teeth a severe bite. The skin is also 
covered with small spikes, which, when thus inflated, become 
erect and pointed. 

It thus, though at first sight looking as helpless as can be, 
is Avell able to defend itself 

The diodon has been known to be swallowed alive by a 

--'■'-^_ i'^'- 


shark, in whose stomach it was found floating, probably sup- 
ported by the air with which it had become inflated. It is 
asserted that it also frequently cats its way, not only through 
the coats of the shark's stomach, but throuoli the sides of the 
monster, which is thus killed. Probably the little diodon of 
the Amazon has a similar means of revenirinix itself on the 
voracious monsters to whom it falls a prey ; and though it 
miLiht not be able to liberate itself throui-h the scaly back 
of an alligator, it would inevitably kill the monster, or cause 


liim such pain as to make him repent having swallowed so 
indigestible a morsel. 

The magnificent pirarucu or anatto, of vast size, with its 
ornamental coat of mail, and broad large scales margined with 
bright red, peoples the waters in immense numbers. It is 
most frequently caught by the native fishermen ; and when 
salted, forms the staple food of all classes on the banks of the 
Lower Amazon. It swims at gi-eat speed, and attains the 
length of eight feet when full-grown, and five feet in girth. 
The Indian name of pirarucu is given to it from the native 
words pira, fish, and urucu, red ; in allusion, says Mr. Bates, 
to the red colour of the borders of its scales. 

Among the other fish most frequently caught are the suru- 
bim and piraepidua (species of Pimelodus) ; very handsome 
fishes, four feet in length, with flat spoon-shaped heads, and 
prettily spotted and striped skins — two long feelers hanging 
from each side of their jaws like trailing moustaches. 


The larger animals which inhabit the mighty river and the 
network of streams and pools which surround it on both 
sides, have been described ; but numerous smaller creatures 
dwell within it, equally curious, and many totally unlike 
those to be found in other parts of the world. It has gener- 
ally been supposed that, of all creatures, fish are the most 
destitute of parental feelings, and that from the moment the 
eggs have been deposited in the sand or mud, they are allowed 
to struggle into existence as best they can, to do battle with 
their foes, and the numerous dangers to which they are ex- 
posed. In the acara, however, we have an example of parental 
care and watchfulness um-ivalled by any terrestrial animal. 


The male of this curious fish has a conspicuous protuber- 
ance on the forehead, wholly awanting in the female and the 
young. Somehow or other, the eggs of the female are con- 
veyed into the mouth of the male, the bottom of which is 
lined by them, between the inner appendages of the branchial 
arches, and especially into a pouch formed by the upper 
pharyngials, which they completely fill. They are there 
hatched ; and the little ones, freed from the egg, are developed 
until they are in a condition to provide for their own exist- 
ence. In their head there is a special lobe of the brain, 
similar to those of the triglas, which sends large nerves to 
that part of the gills protecting the young, thus connecting 
the care of the offspring with the organ of intelligence. In 
this curious cavity of the father's head the young fish are 
found in all stages of development, — the more advanced, a 
quarter of an inch long, and able to swim about, full of life 
and activity. These appear to exist outside the gills, within 
the cavity formed by the gill-coverts and the wide branchi- 
ostigal membrane. The eggs remain in the back part of the 

The parent's care does not appear to cease even when the 
young are fully developed, but he allows them to swim in and 
out, and try their powers, if not to search for food ; and when 
danger appears, opens his mouth, when they all swim back 
again in a shoal, for safety. The natives assert that some species, 
at all events, are not actually 'developed in the parent's head, 
but are laid and hatched in the sand, the male and female 
watching carefully over them ; and that the fjitlicr only takes 
charge of them when they are hatched, and receives them 
within his mouth to protect them from danger. From the 
observations of Professor Agassiz, however, there is no doubt 

38 B 

598 i\NABLEPS. 

that in some species, at least, the whole process of develop- 
ment is begun and completed in the gill cavity. 

The species which lay their eggs in the sand belong to the 
genera Hydrogonus and Choetobranchus. They build a kind 
of flat nest in the sand or mud, in which they deposit their 
eggs, hovering over them until the young are hatched. 

Curious also is the little bill -fish — the lymnobellus — mth 
its long beak. 

Another fish (the anojas), common in the Amazon, takes 

shelter — for it cannot be said to build a nest — in a hollow log. 

It belongs to the genus Auchenipterus. Numbers of this fish 

are found crowded in dead logs at the bottom of the river. 

One examined by the Professor, was filled with fish of all 

sizes, from those several inches long to the tiniest young. The 

fish were so dexterously packed into the log from one end to 

the other, that it was impossible to get them out without 

splitting it open, when they were all found alive .and in a 

perfectly good condition. They could not have been jammed 

artificially into the hollow wood in that way without injuring 



We have heard of blind fish, but here is one — called by the 
Indians tralhote, and known to naturalists as the Anableps 
tetraophthalmus, signifying ''four-eyed" — possessing four eyes. 
A membraneous fold, enclosing the bulb of the eye, stretches 
across the pupil, dividing the visual apparatus into the upper 
and lower half; a curious formation, suited to the peculiar 
habits of the anableps. These fishes gather in shoals on the 
surface of the water, their heads resting partly above and partly 
below the surface, and they move by a leaping motion some- 
what like that of frogs on land. Thus, half in and half out 


of the water, they require, eyes adapted for seeing in both ele- 
ments, and the arrangement described just meets this want. 


The birds of the air have, in this region, their representa- 
tives in the water. Among them is the curious and handsome 
pirarara, or parrot-fish. It is a heavy, broad-headed creature, 
with a bony shield over the whole head. Its general colour 
is jet-black, its bright yellow sides deepening into orange here 
and there. The yellow fat of this fish has a curious property. 
The Indians assert that when parrots are fed upon it they 
become tinged with yellow, and they often use it to render 
their papagaios more variegated. 


On the Amazonian waters is found the carapus, called 
by the Brazilians sarapo, belonging to the genus Gymnotus ; 
though far smaller than the electric gymnotus. They are very 
numerous, and the most lively of the whole group. Their 
motions are winding and rapid, like those of the eel ; but yet 
different, inasmuch as they do not glide quickly forward, but 
turn frequent somersaults, and constantly change their direc- 


The researches of Professor Agassiz prove that the localiza- 
tion of species of fish in these Avaters is peculiarly distinct- 
ana permanent, their migrations being very limited — consist- 
ing chiefly in removing from shallow to deeper waters, and 
from these to shallow again, at those seasons when the range of 
the shore in the same water-basin is affected by the rise and fall 


of the river. Thus, the fishes found at the bottom of a lake 
covering, perhaps, a square mile in extent when the waters 
are lowest, will appear near the shores of the same lake 
when, at the season of high-water, it extends over a much 
wider area. In the same way, fishes which gather near the 
mouth of a rivulet at the time of low- water, will be found as 
high as its origin at the period of high-water ; and those 
which inhabit the larger igarapes on the sides of the Amazon, 
when they are swollen by the rise of the river, may be found 
in the Amazon itself when the stream is low. There is not a 
single fish known to ascend from the sea to the hio'her courses 
of the Amazon at certain seasons, and to return regularly to 
the ocean. 

The striking limitation of species within different areas 
does not, however, exclude the presence of certain kinds of 
fish simultaneously throughout the whole Amazonian basin. 
The piraracu, for instance, is found everywhere from Peru to 
Para ; and so are a few other species more or less extensively 
distributed over what may be considered distinct ichthyolo- 
gical fauna. But these wide-spread species are not migi^atory. 
They have normally and permanently a wide range — just as 
some terrestrial animals have an almost cosmopolite character 
— while others are circumscribed within comparatively narrow 

Surprising indeed is the variety of species of fishes contained 
in the Amazonian basin. Professor Agassiz, during his expe- 
dition, collected nearly two thousand, '' for the most part," as he 
observes — and which is still more surprising — " circumscribed 
within different limits, from Tabalinga to Para, where the 
waters dififer neither in temperature, nor in the nature of their 
bed, nor in the vegetation along their borders. There are met 


with, from distance to distance, assemblages of fishes com- 
pletely distinct from each other. 

Still more curious, perhaps, is the intensity with which 
life is manifested in these waters. All the rivers in Europe, 
from the Tao^us to the Volo^a, do not nourish a hundred and 
fifty species of fresh- water fishes ; and yet in a little lake near 
Manaos, called Lago Hyanuary, the surface of which hardly 
covers four or five hundred square yards, more than two hun- 
dred distinct species were discovered, the greater part of which 
have not been observed elsewhere. 


In the forest pools, as well as in the marshy ponds and 
slow-flowing rivers of the Llanos, numbers of huge serpent- 
like heads may be seen bobbing above the surface ; or a huge, 
thick-bodied, yellow, snake-like creature may be caught sight 
of gliding through the water. It is the gymnotus electricus, 
or electric eel, — one of the many curious inhabitants of this 
region, — from two to five, and even eight feet in length. 
Though really a fish, it resembles the eel, but is stouter in its 
proportions. It is nearly equal in thickness throughout. It 
has a rude, depressed, and obtuse head, and a compressed tail. 
So great is the electric power it possesses, that when m full 
vigour it is able to kill the largest animal, when it can un- 
load its electric organs in a favourable direction. All other 
fish, knowing by instinct the deadly eflfects of its stroke, fly 
from the formidable gymnotus. When fish are struck, or any 
animals which enter the pools inhabited by gymnoti — to drink, 
or cool their bodies, heated by the burning sun of the Llanos — 
they become stupified, and thus easily fall a prey to the elec- 
trical tyrant. 


The natives of Venezuela employ a cruel mode of catching 
the creatures, which, notwithstanding their nature, they use 
as food. Placing but little value on mules and horses, they 
collect a number of these animals, and, armed with harpoons 
and long slender rods, drive them with shouts towards a pool 
inhabited by gymnoti. The noise of the horses' hoofs and 
the men's shrieks make the fish issue from the mud, when the 
huge, hideous creatures swim on the surface of the Avater, and 
crowd under the bellies of the horses and mules. Some of 
the Indians climb the trees ; others stand round the margin, 
urging forward the unfortunate animals, and preventing them 
from making their escape. The fish defend themselves by fre- 
quent discharges of their electric batteries. At first they seem 
likely to prove victorious. Some of the quadrupeds sink be- 
neath the violence of the invisible strokes which they receive 
from all sides, and, stunned by the force and frequency of 
the shocks, disappear under water ; others, with their manes 
erect and eye-balls wild with pain, strive to escape the elec- 
tric storm which they have aroused, but are driven back by 
the shouts and long whips of the excited Indians. The livid, 
yellow eels, like great water-snakes, swim near the surface 
and pursue their enemy. After the conflict has lasted a 
quarter of an hour or so, the mules and horses appear less 
alarmed. They no longer erect their manes, and their eyes 
express less pain and terror. The eel-like creatures, instead 
of advancing as at first, swim to the shore, when the Indians 
attack them with their harpoons, and by means of a long cord 
attached to it, jerk the fish out of the water, without receiv- 
ing any shock, as long as the cord remains dry. 

Such is the description given by Humboldt, a witness of 
the extraordinary scene. The employment of their electric 



powers is evidently spontaneous, and exhausts the nervous 
energy. Like vokmtary muscular effort, it needs repose, and 
the creatures require an abundance of nourishment and rest 
before a fresh accumulation of electricity is produced. 


In the dry season they form deep circular holes for them- 
selves in the nuid of water-courses, and marshes which remain 
filled with moisture, and they are thus able to support exist- 
ence in their usual localities, while alli^'ators and turtles have 


to retire to the larger pools or rivers. In the shallow ponds 
of the forest they are easily driven out with long poles. 

Bates amused his native companions, who had thus caught 
some of the creatures, by showing them how the electric 
shock could pass from one person to another. They joined 
hands in a line, while he touched the biggest and freshest of 
the animals on the head with the point of his hunting-knife. 
He found, however, that the experiment did not succeed more 
than three times with the same eel when out of the water, 
for the fourth time the shock was scarcely perceptible. 

The limbs even of the strongest man are benumbed, and he is 
struck down helpless, by a discharge from the battery of the 
gymnotus. The organs which produce this curious electrical 
effect are placed along the under side of the tail. They may 
be compared to a series of columns inclosed in a thin mem- 
brane packed closely together, which, consisting of a series of flat 
discs, may be imitated by placing a number of coins with 
their discs parallel to each other, and with a bladder between 
each, separated by a gelatinous substance. These columns 
are technically called septa ; and Lacepede calculates that 
two hundred and forty transverse membranes are j)acked in 
each inch, thereby giving to an electric eel eight feet in length 
an organ cavity of two hundred and forty-six square feet — 
an enormous extent, as may be supposed, of electricity pro- 
ducing surface. The whole apparatus is supplied with nerves 
which run tln^ough the entire length of the body. 


A fresh-water species of sting-ray is an inhabitant of the 
creeks and lagoons of stagnant water ; and so infested are 
some of them with the creatures, that it is almost certain 


destruction to venture into them. The stingray is circular 
and flat, with a tail above a foot in length, very thick at the 
base, and tapering towards the end. Near the middle, on 
the upper part, it is armed with a long and sharp-pointed 
sting, finely serrated on two sides, which the fish can raise or 
depress at will. When disturbed, by a quick movement of 
the tail out darts its sting towards the object, which it sel- 
dom fails to reach. The wound thus inflicted is so severe that 
the whole nervous system is convulsed, the person becoming 
rigid and benumbed in a few moments. Long after the most 
violent eflects of the wound have subsided, the part affected 
retains a sluggish ulceration, which has often baffled the skill 
of the best surgeons. 

They frequent the shallow banks of muddy pools, where 
they may be constantly seen watching for their prey, and, as 
if conscious of their powers, scarcely deign to move off* when 
approached. They have their enemies in vultures and other 
birds of prey ; and as they are considered fit for food, war 
with spear and talon is constantly waged upon them. 


In the Orinoco another dangerous creature exists, called by 
the natives piraya, with a head shaped somewhat like a sabre. 
The lower jaw is furnished with a formidable pair of fangs, 
not unlike those of the rattlesnake. With these it inflicts a 
gash as smooth as if cut with a razor. 


Every feature of the savage caribe denotes the ferocity and 
sanguinary nature of its tastes. The piercing eye, surrounded 
by a bloody-looking ring, is expressive of its cruel and blood- 


thirsty disposition. Its under jaw, lined • with a thick car- 
tilaginous membrane, adds greatly to its strength, protruding 
considerably beyond the upper, and increasing the ferocious 
expression of its countenance. Large spots of a brilliant 
orange hue cover a great portion of its body. Towards the 
back it is of a bluish ash colour, with a slight tint of olive- 
green ; the intermediate spaces being of pearly white, while 
the gill-coverts are tinged with red. 

So sharp are its triangular teeth, arranged like those of 
the shark, that neither twine, copper, nor steel can withstand 
them. At the sight of any red substance, blood especially, 
they swim forward to the attack ; and as they usually move 
in swarms, it is extremely dangerous for man or beast to 
enter the water with even a scratch upon their bodies. 
Horses wounded by the spur are particularly exposed to their 
attacks when fording a stream ; and so rapid is the work of 
destruction, th&t unless immediate assistance is rendered, the 
fish soon penetrate the abdomen of the animal and destroy it : 
hence the name given to them by the Spaniards means " tripe- 
eater." When a net is drawn on shore, numbers of these little 
pests are seen jumping in the crowd, their jaws wide open, 
tearing whatever comes in their way, and especially the 
meshes of the nets, which they soon render useless. 

Some tribes of natives place their dead in the water, when 
these creatures speedily eat the flesh off the bones, which are 
then jDreserved in baskets. 

Even human beings, when bathing, or fording rivers, are 
attacked by these terrible little cannibals ; — for cannibals they 
are, as, whenever any of their own race are killed, they in- 
stantly attack and devour them. 

There are other species of this fish, — among them the black 


caribe of the Orinoco. There is also a small species — a harm- 
less, pretty little fish, of a bright green colour on the back, 
and a white belly streaked with pink. The teeth are used 
by the Macoushi Indians for sharpening the points of their 
poisoned arrows. This they do by drawing them rapidly 
between two of the teeth, in the way that knives are sharp- 
ened by two circular steel files, now in common use. 



Strange and unfitted for existence as are many of the 
animals formed by the Almighty to the short-seeing eye of 
mortals, on a further acquaintance with them all will be dis- 
covered admirably suited to the life they are destined to 
enjoy. Following Water ton, we may take five as an example. 
The sloth, which has four feet, is unable to use them to sup- 
port his body on the earth. They are destitute of soles, and 
the muscles requisite for progress in a perpendicular position ; 
yet no creature is more thoroughly at home when clinging to 
the trees on which it has been created to exist. The ant- 
bear, without a tooth in his head, roves fearlessly in the 
forests inhabited by the jaguar and boa-constrictor. The 
sharp claws of his fore-feet enable him to confront the former, 
and his powerful muscular body and thick hair set even the 
boa at defiance. The vampire is unable to use his feet for 
walking, but he possesses a membrane, stretched by means of 
his legs, which enables him to mount up into an element 
where no other quadruped can follow. The armadillo, with- 
out fur or wool or bristles, has in their stead a movable 
shell placed on his back, so formed that he can roll himself up 
in a ball, while with his sharp claws he can dig rapidly into 


the earth to escape his foes. The tortoise is compelled to ac- 
commodate itself to the shell, which is hard and inflexible, 
and in no way obedient to the will of its bearer ; yet that 
very shell, although so apparently inconvenient, serves as its 
protection. The turtle is protected in the same way; but its 
delicious flesh brings numerous enemies to attack it, from 
whom it has a hard task to escape. The egg of the tortoise, 
it may be remarked, has a very haid shell ; while that of the 
turtle is quite soft. 



VAST number of tribes inhabit tlie banks of the 
Amazon and its tributaries, who, though having a 
general resemblance, differ in their habits and cus- 
toms. Those found on the Lower Amazon are more or less 
civilized, and are known as Tupis, or Tapuyas. They speak' 
the lingua Geral, and sometimes Portuguese. The lingua 
Geral is the ancient Tupee language, considerably modified by 
the Jesuits, who taught it to all those under their control. 

The Amazonian Indians have generally fine tigures, their 
chests especially being well developed ; their skin is of a 
copper hue, of various shades, sometimes almost of a dai'k 
])rown. The hair is jet-black, straight and thick, and never 
curled. The eyes are black ; and they have little or no beard. 
The face is generally wide, and somewhat flattened, witli but. 
little or no projection of the cheek-bones. Indeed, their 
features are often very regular ; and many, except in colour, 
dilier but little from well-formed European C(juntenances. 

One of the largest semi-civilized tribes inhabiting the banks 

(379) 0,9 


of the Tapajos are the Mundurucus. They are noted for tattoo- 
ing their bodies more completely than any other tribe. The 
whole body is covered with straight lines in diagonal patterns 
from the mouth downwards, the upper part being left free. 
Some of the women, whose bodies are ornamented in the 
same fashion, have lines round their eyes, which look as if 
they were intended to represent a pair of spectacles. Even 
these marks, however, do not destroy the soft drooping look 
of the eyes common to Indian women. The countenances of 
some of the men are fine ; the face, bold, solid, and square, 
possessing a passive dignity, with a look of tranquillity which 
appears immovable. 

The more elaborate style of tattooing is only practised by 
the chiefs, as a mark of their birth and rank. It requires ten 
years to complete the whole process. The colour is intro- 
duced by fine puncturings over the surface — a painful pro- 
cess, which causes swelling and inflammation. 

They are among the most warlike Indians of the Amazon, 
and keep the neighbouring and less civilized tribes on their 
good behaviour. They are expert agriculturists, and construct 
canoes and hammocks. They generally make a foray every 
year on an adjoining tribe, — the Parentintins, — when they 
kill the men, whose heads they preserve by drying and smok- 
ing, while they take the women and children for vslaves. They 
have reo'ular villaojes of conical huts, the walls and frame- 
work filled in with mud and thatched with palm-leaves. In 
the centre is a large hut in which the fighting men sleep, with 
their weapons ready for use. It is ornamented within with 
the dried heads of their enemies. They have of late years 
greatly decreased in numbers. 

Some thirty tribes or families are found on the River Uapes. 


The men wear their hair in a long tail hanging down the 
middle of the back, while the women wear it loose, and cut 
to a moderate length. The only dress worn by the men is a 
small piece of matting passed between the legs, and secured 
round the loins by a string. The women wear none what- 
ever, but paint their bodies in regular patterns, — generally red, 
yellow, and black colours. The only ornament worn by the 
Avomen is a bracelet on the wrist ; while below the knee a 
garter is fastened from infancy, for the purpose of swelling 
out the calf 

The men, however, adorn themselves in a variety of Avays. 
Their hair is carefully parted and combed on each side. The 
young men, especially, wear it in long locks on either side of 
their necks, with a comb stuck on the top of the head — their 
feminine appearance being gi^eatly increased by the large 
necklaces and bracelets of beads which they weai', and by 
their custom of pidling out every particle of hair from their 
beard. As these feminine -looking warriors always carry 
their large shields before them, it was but natural, when the 
Spaniards saw them, or other tribes similarly adorned, that 
they should have supposed them to be women. When, also, 
they saw in the distance parties of unadorned persons carry- 
ing Ijurdens, they took them to be slaves captured in war. 
This, no doubt, was the origin of the fable of nations of 
Amazons found on the banks of the river. 


Sometimes these natives wear circlets of parrot and other 
gay feathers on their heads, as well as armlets and leg orna- 
ments of the same materials. Some of these tribes have the 
horril^lc custom of bakini"- the Ijudics of their dead after thev 


have become decomposed, till only a black carbonaceous mass 
is left. This is pounded, and mixed with an intoxicating 
liquor, called caxiri, in vats made out of hollow trees. The 
relatives having been invited, the whole company drink the 
mixture, under the belief that the virtues of the deceased will 
thus be transmitted to them. Some of them are cannibals, 
and make war for the express purpose of procuring human 
flesh. They smoke dry what they cannot at once consume, 
thus preserving it a long time for food. They have no defi- 
nite idea of a God; but they dread an evil spirit, whom they 
believe delio-hts in afflictino^ them, and is the cause of death. 

Their houses hold a number of families ; sometimes a whole 
tribe. They are upwards of 120 feet long, 80 feet broad, 
and 30 feet high. The plan is a parallelogTam, with a semi- 
circle at the further end. A passage twenty feet wide leads 
from one end to the other ; while, on the sides, are partitions, 
like the stalls in an old-fashioned public room of an inn, each 
of which is inhabited by a separate family. The chief, or 
tushaiia, resides at the semicircular end, where he has a private 
entrance. The furniture consists of hammocks, with various 
pots and cooking utensils made of clay, as well as baskets. 
Their canoes are formed out of a single tree, hollowed and 
forced open by cross pieces. Some ai-e forty feet in length. 
The dead are nearly always buried in the houses : a large 
house havino' sometimes one hundred OTaves in it. 

From the Rio Negro to the Andes there is a large region, 
inhabited entirely by savages of whom little is known, exce})t 
that they are mostly cannibals, and kill all their first-born 
children. On the other side of the Amazon also is a still 
larger tract of virgin forest, Avhere not a single civilized man 
is to be found. 



ADiong tliese tribes, the rurupums, although thorough 
savages, are perhaps tlie best known. They wear no clothes 
whatever ; their habitations are small huts rudely formed of 
boughs, whieli they set up on the sand. Tlieir canoes are of 
the rudest construction, having flat l)ottoms and upright sides. 
They use neither the bow nor the gTavatana, but instead have 
a weapon called the palheta, from which they can cast an 
arrow, as from a sling, with wonderful dexterity. In the 
septum of the nose and in the ears they bore holes, in which 
they wear rings. 


In their immediate neighbourhood, the Catauixis tribe is 
found. Though they go naked, they build houses, and use 
bows and gravatanas. Their canoes are constructed of the 
bark of a tree taken off entire. They are also cannibals, and 
murder the people of other tribes whom they can surprise. 

Many of the least barbarous tribes have frequently large 
meetings, wlien they dress up in feather ornaments of parrots 
and macaws in a variety of curious disguises. The chief 
wears a head-dress of toucan feathers, with the erect tail- 
plumes rising from the crown. The mask dresses are long 
cloaks, made of the inner bark of a tree. Sometimes they 
manufacture head-pieces, by stretching the cloth over a basket- 
work frame, to represent the heads of monkeys and other 
animals. When thus dressed, they perform a monotonous see- 
saw and stamping dance, accompanied by singing and drum- 
ming. Often this sport is kept up for several days and nights 


in succession. During the time, they drink large quantities 
of caxm, while they smoke tobacco and take snuff. Their 
chief masker represents their demon Jurupai*i, but he does 
not appeal' to be treated with any particular respect. 

Very little information has been gathered of the history of 
these tribes, as they seldom possess any knowledge of their 
ancestors beyond the times of their fathers or grandfathers. 
Few of them have benefited in any way by theu* intercourse 
with white men, but remain in the same barbarous condition 
in which they have probably existed for many centuries. A 
further description of their savage customs would be more dis- 
agreeable than satisfactory. We can only hope that the true 
gospel may be some day carried among them, and that they 
may be redeemed from their present barbarous condition. 



HE Indian, destitute of tire-arms, ranges through the 
forest in cliase of the fiercest and largest animals 
which haunt its shade, armed with a slender tube, 
and a quiver full of needle-like arrows. The tube, ten or 
eleven feet long, is the celebrated gravatana, or blo\v-pi]^e ; 
called also the zarabatana by the Spaniards. Slight as are 
the arrows which are blown through this weapon, they will 
penetrate the thickest hide ; and being tipped with a deadly 
poison, carry death through the veins of the wounded animal 
in the course of a few minutes. 

Blow-pipes are formed in various ways, — for one, the stems 
of a small i)alm, the triatea setigera, are used. Outside they 
appear pointed, from the scars of the fallen leaves, but within 
they have a soft j^ith, which soon rots in water, and is easily 
extracted, leaving a smooth, polished bore. They vary from 
the thickness of a fino-er to two inches in diameter. Each of 
these stems is slender, the one of a size which, may be juished 



inside the larger. This is done that any curve in the one 
may counteract that in the other. A conical wooden mouth- 
piece is fitted on the one end, aiid the whole is spirally 


bound with the smooth black bark of a creeper. Two teeth, 
fastened about a couple of feet apai*t from the mouth end, 
serve as sights to enable the sportsman to take better aim. 

THE r.l.oW-l'IPE. CI 7 

The end applied to the mouth is hound round with a small 
silk-grass cord to prevent it s})littiiig ; while the other is 
strengthened by liaving the seed of" a nut, with a hole cut 
through it, secured round it. 

The arrows, from nine to ten inches long, are made from 
the leaves of a species of palm, or from the spinous [)rocesses 
of the patawa, pointed as sharp as a needle. The other end 
is burned hard, and round it is wound a little conical tuft of 
tree-cotton, the silky covering of the bomba, so as exactly to fill 
up the bore of the tube. They are carried in a quiver, which 
holds some hundreds. It is in shape somewhat like a back- 
gammon dice-box, formed of basket-work, and covered with a 
piece of the skin of the tapir. To it is attached a bunch of 
silk-grass, a small piece of bone for scratching the point of the 
arrows, and a basket for holding wild honey secured round the 
blunt end. The points of the arrows are tipped with the 
deadly wourali or urali poison. 

Another kind of gravatana is made of tw^o separate pieces 
of wood, each scooped out so as to form one half of the tube. 
The two halves are then secured together, by binding round 
them spirally long flat strips of the jacitira, or wood of the 
climbing palm-tree, the wdiole being afterwards smeared over 
with the black wax of the melipona bee. The tube tapers 
towards the muzzle, and a cup-shaped mouth-piece is fitted in 
the broad end. It is so heav}^ that only a strong man, accus- 
tomed to its use, can employ it. 

The boys learn to shoot with a smaller and lighter instru- 
ment. The tools used are made of the incisor teeth of the 
paca and cavy. A light arrow is ])ut in at tho inner end, and 
when the ball of silk-cotton secured to the shafts fits tightly, 
it can be propelled with such force by the breath that it 


makes a noise almost as loud as a pop-gun when flying from 
the muzzle. An expert Indian can propel arrows so as to 
kill at a distance of fifty or sixty yards. It is more useful 
in the forest than a gun, for the report of fire-arms alarms 
the birds or monkeys, while the silent poisoned dart brings 
them down one by one, until the sportsman has a heap of 
slain by his side. 


The wourali poison is made chiefly by the natives of the 
northern part of the Amazonian valley. It is looked upon as 
an important and somewhat mysterious operation. Waterton 
and Schombergh describe it. The Indian, when preparing to 
concoct this deadly compound, goes into the wilds where 
grows a vine — the strychnos toxifera. After this he collects 
a number of bundles, and then takes up a root with an especi- 
ally bitter taste. After this he searches for two bulbous plants, 
which contain a green and glutinous juice ; and lastly, collects 
two species of ants — one very large and black, and so venom- 
ous that its sting produces fever, and another little red ant 
which stings like a nettle. Having scraped the wourali vine and 
bitter root into thin shavings, he puts them into a sieve made 
of leaves, which he holds over the earthen pot, pouring water 
on them. A thick liquor comes through, having the appearance 
of coffee. He then produces the bulbous stalks, and squeezes 
a portion of the juice into the pot. He now adds the pounded 
fangs of the labam and counacouchi snakes, — which he gener- 
ally has in store, as well as the ants. The ingredients are 
next boiled over a slow fire, and the scum being taken off*, the 
liquid remains till it becomes reduced to a thick syrup of a 
deep brown colour. It is now fit for use. The aiTows are 


then dipped into it, and if it is found of sufficient strength, 
it is poured into small pois, which are covered over with leaves 
and a piece of deer-skin. It is then ke})t in a dry place, or 
suspended occasionally over a fire, to counteract the effects of 

The poison must be fresh to kill speedily. A bird dies in 
a minute or so, and the largest animals only survive a few 
minutes after being struck. Salt is almost a certain antidote 
to the poison. The Indians, when they wish to preserve an 
animal alive, scrape off part of the poison, and, as soon as the 
animal falls, put salt into its mouth, when it speedily re- 
covers. Monkeys are frequently captured in this way. 
Europeans accustomed to eat salt seldom suffer from the 
effects of the poison ; though it is said to produce its usual 
deadly effects on the natives, when wounded by it, as they 
i-arely or never consume salt. 

The flesh of the animals killed is in no way injured by the 
poison, nor does it appear to corrupt sooner than that killed 
by the gun or knife. 

Bows, with arrows four or five feet long, are used to kill 
the larger animals. The arrows are made of a yellow reed 
without joint or knot. A piece of hard wood is inserted into 
the end, and in this a square hole is made, tightly bound 
round with cotton to keep it from splitting. Into this square 
hole a spike is fitted, and dipped in the poison, while at the 
but-end a couple of feathers are fastened to steady it in its 
flight. The hunter carries a number of these poisoned spikes. 
As the spike easily breaks off, or slips out wlien the animal 
is wounded, he recovers his shaft, into which he can easily re- 
fit another spike. The spikes are cut half through, to facili- 
tate their breaking' off 



The Indian has also discovered the means of poisoning the 
fish of the lakes and pools, as well as the birds of the air. 
He extracts the poison from a certain liana — the paullinia 
pinnata — which he calls timbo. To do so, he collects a few 
pieces, about a 3^ard long, and mashes and soaks them in 
water, which soon becomes discoloured with the milky poison- 
ous juice of the plant. This he carries in a calabash, and 
poure out on the ^vater. In aljout half an hour, all the 
smaller fish, over a wider space than that which he has 
sprinkled with the juice, rise to the surface, floating on their 
sides, with their gills wide open. So powerful is its nature, 
that but a slight quantity aj^pears sufficient to stupify them. 
Some time afterwards the larger fish appear ; and even for 
twent^^-four hours afterwards a number rise floating dead on 
the surface. The fish are evidently suffocated by the poison. 


Both fish and turtle are shot by the natives with arrows. 
The Indian takes his post on a little stage made of poles and 
cross pieces of wood, secured with lianas, on the margin of 
the pools frequented by the turtles, armed with his bow and 
arrows. The arrow used for killinof the latter has a stromr 
lancet-shaped steel point fitted into a peg which enters the tip 
of the shaft. The peg is secured to the shaft by twine made of 
the fibres of pine-apple leaves. The line, some thirty or forty 
yards long, is neatly wound round the body of the arrow. 
When the muzzle enters the shell the peg drops out, and the 
pierced animal descends with it towards the bottom, leaving 
the shaft floating on the surface. The sportsman, hastening 



to the spot in liis canoe, 
sends another arrow into 
the turtle, and then liuniour- 
ing it by means of the two 
cords, quickly gets it on 
boai'd. It is extraordinary, 
the skill the Indians will 
display on these occasions. 
They do not even wait for 
the turtle coniino* to the 
surface, hut watch for the 
tracks which it makes in 
the water when swimminir - 

beneath it, and shoot with ^ 

unerring aim. 

-At certain * 


seasons turtle in vast shoals 
wend their way up the % 
Orinoco, when, as they h 
come to the surface to 
breathe, the Indians — -who 
are on the watch — shoot 
them with heavy arrows, 
which, falling perpendicu- 
larly, pierce their thick 
coats ; and they drift on 
shore, or are picked up by 
the canoes kc[jt in ivadi- 
ness for that [)urpo,^e. Nets 
also are employed : the 
depth is about e([ual to 
that of the watei- ; while 


the floats, buoyed up on the surface, thus form a complete 
track. One party takes either end of the net, while the rest 
beat the water with poles, in order to drive the turtles to- 
wards the middle. As the beaters advance, numbers of little 
snouts suddenly popping above the water show that all is 
going on well. The beaters continue shouting and striking 
the water with gTeat vigour. The ends of the nets are then 
seized by numerous strong hands and dragged quickly forward, 
forming a circle to inclose all the body. The canoes being 
brought up, the turtles are thrown into them. Mr. Bates 
describes having seen fully eighty turtles secured thus in 
about twenty minutes. 


The natives on the banks of the northern rivers also em- 
ploy a poisonous root for catching fish. It resembles a tur- 
nip, with a small plant rising from it, and is called by them 
cima. A decoction of it being made, it is mixed with ^:>oiled 
maize ground into paste. The Indian and his family go forth 
to the pool with a number of baskets to carry home their prey. 
Besides the poison-paste, he supplies himself with some pellets 
of paste free from it. On arriving at the pool or stream, he 
throws a quantity of the latter into the water, which attracts 
a variety of small fish from all quarters. He then begins to 
throw in the poisoned bait, which is no sooner swallowed 
than the fish begin to leap out of the water, and tumble about 
in all sorts of ways, when they are easily caught by the chil- 
dren, and thrown into their baskets, which in a short time 
are filled. 

The Indians of the Orinoco also entrap fish in other 
ways. When the waters begin to ebb at the end of the 


rainy season, they form strong stockades across the outlet of 
the great lagoons in which a number of the larger fish, as well 
as turtles of enormous size, have taken refuge. The stakes of 
these stockades are driven into the bed of the channel, close 
enough to allow of the exit of the water and the smaller fish 
only. It is further secured by cross-beams thrown across the 
channel. Sometimes, however, so numerous are the fish, and 
so enormous their size, that they break through the stockade 
in spite of all the precautions taken. 


In the neighbourhood of the Apoure, in Venezuela, a poi- 
sonous shrub abounds — the deadly guachamaca — belonging to 
the family of Apocineoe, or dog-bane. The natives make a 
strong decoction from it, into which they dip a number of 
small fish, and spread them about in the neighbourhood of 
lagoons frequented by cranes, herons, and other aquatic birds, 
hiding themselves near at hand. Before the bird has fairly 
swallowed the fish it drops dead, when the hunter, cutting otf 
the head and neck, cames oflf the body as his prize. It is 
said that when meat has been roasted on spits made of this 
wood, it has absorbed sufficient poison to destroy all who 

ate it. 


Some tribe's, using a powerful long-bow, shoot birds in the 
air at a m-eat distance. The liunter, throwing: himself on his 
back, with his (piivcr by his side, i)laces his feet against the 
bow, raised to the required elevation, and thus, stretching out 
his legs, draws the arrow to his head on tlie ground. By 
this means he is enabled to kill w ild fuwi and other game 
at an enormous distance. An amusinu' writer on Venezuela 



mentions an Indian who used to place a piece of mone}^ on the 
top of a lemon, close to the point of the big toe on his left 


foot, and then, leaning backwards, bend his bow with the 
help of his right one, and shoot into the air at an angle of 
85°, — the arrow never failino' when it turned round to come 


down and strike tlie coin. Anotlier would shoot a bird 
soaring above his head, without looking at tlie bird, — guided 
only by the shadow cast uj)on the ground al)Out mid-day. 


In the same region, the Indians form a sort of trumpet out 
of l)amboo, covering one end with a thick mendjrane. On 
bloAving through the other, a sound is produced resembling 
the bleating of a young fawn. Hiding himself behind a tree, 
the hunter decoys the doe towards his place of concealment, 
when he easily shoots her with his poisoned arrow. 

The following is another device for a|)proaching the deer 
in the open plains. These animals seem to have a peculiar 
fondness for the tall crane of the Llanos — a laroe white bird, 
with loner, slender leo-s, and at least five feet in heio-ht. It 
has a pouch of a bright scarlet, and a bill nearly a foot long, 
and wide at the base, which enables it to swallow a laige tish 
at a mouthful. The hunter forms a mask to resemble the 
head of the crane, and, clothing his own dark body in white, 
holding his weapon low down, goes oft' in the direction of the 
deer, taking care to approach it to leeward. He then imitates 
the movements of the crane. When the deer stops to look at 
him, he bends down his head as if feeding. As soon as the 
deer again begins to browse, the hunter carefully a]>proaches it 
till he gets within range, and can shoot his deadly dart with 
certain aim. 


The Indian bravely attacks the huge alligator, fearless of 
its enormous jaws, sometimes shooting it with arrow s fruui his 
bow. The arrows are fitted in tlie same way as those used 


for killing turtle— the head remaining in the body of the 
animal, while the shaft, secured to it by a line, floats on the 
surface ; which showing the direction taken by the saurian, it 
is chased and transfixed by either lances or arrows till it dies 
from exliaustion. On these occasions it is often attacked, it 
is said, by the caribes, and partially devoured, before it can 
be dragged on shore. 

The creatures are also caught by another device. A piece 
of hard wood, pointed at both ends, is covered up with a 
large fish or lump of meat, and then thrown into the water, 
with a strong rope attached to the middle. The instant it is 
seized, the hunters, who have hold of the other end, drag the 
creature on shore, and despatch it with clubs or darts. 

A story is told of a Llanero, who, accustomed to desperate 
encomiters with savage bulls and fierce jaguars, determined 
on one occasion, when compelled to cross the river, to brave 
the risk of an attack from an alligator known to infest it. 
Pluno'ino' into the stream, with his saddle on his shoulders to 
prevent its being wetted, and his sharp dagger in his teeth, he 
swam on his horse's back. As those who saw him expected, 
the crocodile soon appeared. Boldly facing the creature, he 
approached its jaws, and, throAving his saddle at it, the alli- 
gator jumped partly out of the water to catch it. At that 
instant the daring Llanero plunged his dagger up to the very 
hilt into the arm-pit — the most vital part of the monster — 
when, with a tremendous splash, it instantly sank beneath the 

The tenacity of life exhibited by these monsters is often 
marvellous. Sir Robert Schombergh gives an account of 
shootino' one when ascendino- the River Berbice. The snout 
was taken oft' by one ball, and another entered the hinder part 


ot" the skull, when the Indians, attacking it \\'ith their chil>.s, 
appeared completely to have knocked out every spark of life. 
It was at last hauled up and placed on the bow of the coiial. 
While the corial was being drawn across the rapids, two of 
the Indians took up the cayman in order to lay it in a more 
convenient position. Scarcely had they done so, when at one 
l»ound it jumped into the river and disappeared. They could 
never afterwards be persuaded to touch a cayman. 


Both the Amazon and the Orinoco, with their triljutaries, 
are frequented by several species of turtles. The mode em- 
ployed for capturing the animals, as well as collecting the 
eggs, applies equally to both rivers. 

There are several species of fresh- water turtles. The largest 
in the upper waters grow to a great size, measuring nearly 
three feet long, by two in breadth ; so that one is a load for 
the strongest man. The Brazilian Government make regu- 
lations for protecting the turtles whilst laying, so that all 
the inhal)itants on the banks may have an equal chance of 
procuring a supply of eggs. The natives collect from all 
quarters for this object. The turtles select the highest and 
driest banks composed of the finest sand, which will be a 
sufficient time above water to allow of the eo;o^s beinji' hatched 
Ijy the heat of the sun. Some of these banks are of gi-eat 
extent — many miles long, and often one or more broad. They 
are the haunts and breeding-places of many difierent kinds of 
animals, and are covered by tracks of alligators and turtles. 
Not only do these here make their nests, but l)irds lay in 
them their eggs during the dry season ; and difierent kinds of 
fish use them for the same purpose when covered with water. 


Here, too, the wonderful little acara are found, with their 
young in their heads ; and there are also rounded shallow de- 
pressions in the mud, which the fishermen say are the sleeping- 
places of the skates. They are certainly about the size and 
form of a skate, and it can easily be believed that these singular 
impressions in the soft surface have been made in this way. 
The creatures, however, only frequent certain praias out of 
the number existing. When the waters overflow the land, 
the young turtles move into the interior, where they remain 
during their infant days in the numberless lakes and pools in 
the forest. As the dry season approaches, the full-grown 
turtles descend from the interior pools while the outlets are 
still open (between July and August), and seek in countless 
swarms their favourite banks. Sentinels are then posted on 
high look-out places, situated at the ends of the banks, where 
they may watch the proceedings of the creatures, and mark 
the spots they have chosen. They also warn off any fisher- 
men who may approach, as the sight of a man or a fire on 
the sand-bank Avould prevent the turtles from leaving the 
water that night to lay their eggs ; and, if frequently alarmed, 
they would forsake the praia for some other place. 

The turtles lay their eggs by night — crawling in vast crowds 
to the central and highest part of the praia — and are occupied 
till dawn in the operation. They excavate with their broad- 
webbed paws deep holes in the fine sand. The first which 
arrives makes a pit about three feet deep, and lays its eggs — 
about one hundred in number — coverino- them with sand. 
The next makes its deposit at the top of the former ; and so 
on till every pit is full. They are so careful in covering up 
the eggs, that, when they quit the spot, the only marks dis- 
tinguishable are those which they make when returning to 

OIL FRO^I turtles' EGIGS. 629 

the water — as they go round and round the nest several times 
in succession to obliterate all traces. The sand, however, re- 
mains so loose, that it gives way under foot, and thus the 
Jndian easily discovers the spot. 

A body of turtles occupy several days in the operation ; one 
party succeeding the other, night after night, till all have de- 
})osited their eggs. As the season advances, however, those 
who have arrived late, in their hurry to lay, appear to take 
fewer precautions. So powerful is the effect of the sun on 
these sand-banks, that a few days only are required to hatch 
the young turtles. 

It has been so arranged by the Creator^ that they always 
come forth at night, as the heat of the sun would kill them, 
and they would be devoured by birds of prey and other ani- 
mals on the watch to seize the dainty morsels. Although the 
hole from which they emerge may be half a mile or more from 
the river, instinct teaches them to go in a direct line to the 
water. A number, however, are caught by their enemies ; 
while enormous quantities of eggs are taken, — both to be used 
as food, and for the sake of the oil they contain. 

A curious sight is witnessed from the top of the sentinel's 
stage at daybreak. The sand appears blackened with the 
multitudes of turtles — which, after depositing their eggs, are 
waddling towards the river ; and often, where the margin of 
the praia is steep, tumbling down the declivity into the water. 

OIL FROM turtles' EGGS. 

As soon as the eggs have been laid, the Indians, arriving in 
their canoes from all directions, with their families, build reed 
huts on the banks — some merely driving poles into the sand, 
from which to swinij theii" hammocks. The canoes are then 


drawn np on the beach and thoroughly washed out, while 
the whole praia is covered with natives with the baskets 
on their backs in which they collect the eggs. The eggs are 
then cleansed from the grains of sand adhering to them, and 
emptied into the canoes, when they are trodden on by the 
children, much in the same way as grapes are mashed for wine- 
making. The canoes, when full, are left exposed to the sun's 
rays, and in a short time a fine clear oil rises to the surface. 
It is then skimmed off with shells and put into large pots, 
when it is boiled over the fire and becomes purified. It is 
next transferred to jars, and is ready for use. It is finer and 
clearer than that produced from olives. 

Meantime, any stray turtles which have delayed their de- 
parture, as frequently happens, are turned over on their backs. 
Holes are dug in the sand near the water, in which the young- 
turtles are kept till required for eating. When not actually 
employed in picking up eggs or catching turtles, the whole 
population are engaged in feasting off* them — an enormous 
quantity being thus consumed. The flesh of the animals is 
cut up and dressed in the shells, which serve as pots, without 
the danger of burning ; and it is washed down with copious 
draughts of chica. 

The female turtles contain an enormous number of e^s^s, 
apparently ready to be laid during a succession of years — from 
the large ones covered with a white membrane, down to a 
confused mass resembling mustard-seeds. As it requires five 
thousand to fill a jar of oil, and as many thousands of jars are 
collected, it may be conceived what an enormous number of 
eggs are deposited every year. Were it not that many turtles 
lay in solitary places, which the Indians have not discovered, 
the rivers would soon be depopulated. The Indian children 


watch for the creatures as soon as they are hatched, and collect 
great numbers. 

Humboldt calculates that nearly a million turtles annually 
deposit their eggs on the banks of the Lower Orinoco. In the 
Amazon, already the turtles have greatly decreased in num- 
bers ; and Bates states that, where formerly he could l)uy one 
for ninepence, he could with difficulty procure them latterly 
for eight or nine shillings each. Every house on the banks 
has a little pond, called a corral, or pen, in the back-yard, to 
hold a stock of large turtle during the wet months, till a fiesli 
supply can be procured in the dry season. 

The tracaja, or smaller kind, which la^'S its eggs a month 
earlier than the larger species, seldom lives, in captivity, be- 
yond a few days. 

The natives cook the turtles in various ways. The entrails 
make a delicious soup, called sarapatel ; while the flesh of the 
breast is mixed with farina, and roasted in the breast shell 
over the fire. Steaks, cooked with fat, make another dish ; 
and large sausages, composed of the thick- coated stomach, 
filled with mince-meat, and boiled, are considered great deli- 
cacies. Bates, however, found, that though the flesh is vciy 
tender, palatable, and wholesome, it becomes cloying after a 
person has lived on it for some time ; and he at length could 
not bear the smell, even thouiih suflerinof from huno-er. 


The tribes on the River Uapes use several kinds of bows, 
some from five to six feet long, — the arrows being still longer. 
The shaft is made of the flower -stalk of the arrow-ofrass. 
The head is composed of hard wood pointed, and some- 
times armed with a serrated spine of the ray-fish, covered 


thickly with poison, and notched, so as easily to break off — a 
most deadly weapon. Their arrows for shooting fish are 
armed with iron heads, while smaller arrows are used for 
shootino' small o:ame. These alone have feathers at the base, 
generally from the wings of the macaw. They are secured 
spirally, forming thus a little screw on the base of the arrow, 
causing it to revolve rapidly, and assisting to keep it in a 
direct course. 

They employ also several sorts of hand-nets for catching 
fish : one is very similar to the folding nets of entomologists, 
and another is like a landing net. Rods and lines are gener- 
ally used by them. They also catch fish by means of a small 
conical-shaped wicker basket. The larger end is completely 
open. Into this, which is placed in a current, the fish enter, 
and swimming rapidly on, jam themselves into the narrow 
end, where, unable to turn, they are completely secured. 
They also use large cylindrical baskets, with reversed cones in 
the mouth like those of lobster -pots, but of much greater 

Fish are also caught by means of weirs. These are well 
built, supported by strong posts. They are formed when the 
water is low. As the water rises, the fish, keeping by the 
sides of the stream, are guided by the side wings of the weir 
into its narrow opening, out of which they cannot make their 
way. Not only fish, but turtles find their way into these 
weirs, and sometimes electric eels — as also those dreaded fish, 
the piranhas. The Indian gets the fish out by diving into 
the weii' ai*med with a small hand-net, and sometimes with a 
knife. He first endeavours, however, to learn whether any of 
his foes are within, and gets them out first. Another kind of 
weir is formed on a still larcfer scale, ^eneralb' beneath cata- 


racts or waterfalLs. It is similar to the eel-traps sometimes 
used at mills. As the water pours into it, the fish are often 
caught in great numbers. These traps, however, require a 
considerable amount of ingenuity and a great exertion of 
strength for their construction, as large timbers must be used, 
to withstand the strenoth of the current. 


Most of the tribes make their canoes out of single trees, 
which they hollow and expand by means of a fire placed be- 
neath them, gradually inserting wedges and cross-pieces. It 
is first reared on trestles, with a slit downwards over the fire 
— which is kept up for seven or eight hours. The process 
requires great and constant attention, to avoid cracks, and 
make the canoe bend with the proper dip at the two ends. 
Additional planks are often secured to the sides, while the 
stem and stern are formed of semicircular boards pegged on to 
the ends of the trunk. The seams are then caulked with 
gum. The paddles have oval blades, and are about three feet 
in length, cut out of single pieces. 


A somewhat complicated musical instrument, consisting of 
twelve pipes or trumpets, made of bamboos fastened together, 
with trumpet-shaped mouth-pieces of bark, is used by one 
tribe of Indians. The sounds are not disagreeable, resembling 
some\\'hat clai-ionets and bassoons. No woman, however, is 
allowed to see them ; and as soon as they are brought out, all 
the females hurry off to hide themselves. Should any one 
attempt to observe the mysterious instrument, she is imme- 
diately put to death, — generally by poison. A father or a 


liusband A\^ould not hesitate on such an occasion to sacrifice 
his daughter or wife. 

The Indians of the Uapes manufacture with great neatness 
a variety of articles, such as fine hammocks, baskets, and 
gourds — which they paint with elegant devices ; also earthen- 
ware water-pitchers and pans for cooking, and clay ovens. 
They also show skill in making several musical instruments — 
like fifes and whistles, as also drums — and all sorts of onm- 
ments for the person. Their feather dresses are remarkable 
for their elegance and the labour bestowed on them. 

The Purupurus, one of the most savage tribes, have an in- 
strument — employed by no others — called the palheta. It is 
a piece of wood with a projection at the end, in which the 
base of the arrow is secured. The arrow is held with the 
handle of the palheta in the hand, and thus thrown as a stone 
from a sling. The natives exhibit wonderful dexterity in the 
use of this weapon, and with the greatest facility kill birds, 
fish, and i_'ame of all sorts with it. 

fj^trt Joitrth. 




EW GRANADA is almost entirely a mountain 
region^ occupied by the northern end of the Andes, 
except where it slopes down towards the Isthmus 
of Panama and the Caribbean Sea. Venezuela, however, 
contains three distinct zones or characters of country — moun- 
tains, forests, and open plains. The mountain regions, which 
are also three in number, are separated by wide plains. On 
the west, the mountains belong to the Andes — being spurs of 
that range — a large portion consisting of table-lands, called 
paramos, from 10,000 to 14,000 feet above the sea-level. 
Among them lies the Lake of Maracaibo, ninety-two miles in 
length, and eighty-two in width — the largest in Soutli 
America. On the north-east is the Sierra de Bergantin, and 
in the south-east the Sierra dc Parima. The forests extend 


from the Orinoco southward, joining that of the, Amazon — a 
vast tract, but seldom penetrated by the traveller. 

The natives call the three zones into which they divide 
their country the Tierras Calidas, or hot countries — rising not 
more that 2000 feet above the sea, and in which only 
tropical plants and fruits flourish ; the Tierras Templadas, 
or temperate country — from 2000 to 7000 feet above the sea, 
where the agricultural productions of Europe succeed best ; 
and the Tierras Fiias, or cold countries — which rise above the 
former, to the height of 15,000 feet, the summits of the 
mountains reaching 148 feet above the snow-line. 

Two seasons exist in the tropics, into which the year is 
divided — the wet and the dry. Though the heat is greatest 
in the former, it is called winter, as the sun then passes twice 
over the zenith ; while dui'ing the dry season, which is called 
summer, the sun is in the southern hemisphere. During the 
whole year the north-east trade-wind blows across the countiy, 
but modified in direction and force by these seasons. 

In consequence of the very different elevations of the land, 
the productions of nearly all parts of the world can here be 
cultivated successfully. In the hot districts, chiefly bordered 
by the sea, cotton, indigo, cacao, coftee, sugar, tobacco, and 
cocoa-nuts come to perfection. The cocoa-palm, enjoying the 
advantage of the sea-breeze, here grows to a height of seven 
hundred feet above the ocean. No tobacco surpasses that of 
the well-known Varina. Barley and millet, as well as wheat, 
are produced on the more elevated tracts ; while maize is cul- 
tivated all over the country. 

The wide-extending marshes and pools are frequented by 
pelicans, herons, and vdld geese, ducks, and flamingoes ; while 
other birds — chiefl}^ belonging to the FalconidaB, Ai^deida?^ 


Strimdte, and PsittaciJiie — are numerous. Tlie sava^^e alligator 
and fearful anaconda abound in all the rivers and lakes ; 
Avliile the jaguar, puma, ounce, tiger-cat, monkey, tapir, 
capybara, porcupine, wild hog, sloth, and ant-eater range 
through its forests and savannahs. 

Numerous tribes of the aborigines, driven back by the 
whites, exist in the remoter districts. They are generally of 
a dark copper colour, while some are of a lighter hue ; and 
though building huts, most of them go almost naked. They 
exist on plantains, yucca, batatas, and the sugar-cane— which 
they rudely cultivate ; and the fish, as well as the manatees 
and alligators, which swarm in their waters. 

The neighbourhood of the Caraccas is described as a 
terrestrial paradise, where spring perpetually reigns. In this 
favoured region, all the fruits of the tropics come to the 
greatest perfection. The delicious chirimoya takes the first 
place. It is likened to lumps of flavoured cream, ready to be 
fi'ozen, suspended from the branches of some fairy tree, amidst 
an overpowering perfume of flowers — for it is in bearing all 
the year round. '' He who has not tasted the chirimoya 
fruit, has yet to learn what fruit is," says Markham. 

Here, too, the grandilla, in shape like a water-melon, hangs 
from its delicate tendrils. When cut open, it is found filled 
with a juice-like nectar, having the flavour of the strawberry 
and peach. A species of cactus — the nopal — produces the tuna 
or Indian fig. 

It is on the fleshy, down}'' stems of the cactus that the 
cochineal insect is reared, producing the valuable crimson 
dyes which outshine the vaunted productions of Tyre ; and 
from the same family of plants rises the magnificent pitahaya, 
— '' those flowers known for size and efi^ulgence, which begin 


to open as the sun declines, and bloom during the night, shed- 
ding a delicious fragrance, and offering their brimful goblets, 
filled with nectareous juice, to thousands of moths and other 
crepuscular and nocturnal insects," as Gosse describes it. 

The splendid mammey apple-tree (Mammea Americana), 
which bears numbers of round and heavy fruits, brown out- 
side, and of a golden yellow within, valued for the marma- 
lades and other delicacies formed from them. 

Of the same family as the chirimoya is the guanabana 
(Anona muricata), or sour sop, an unattractive name for so 
delicious a fruit. From it a cooling drink is made, and ices 
of fine flavour. 

A near relative is the custard apple, filled with a ruddy 
compounded substance, which no cook can surpass. As also 
the rinon (Anona squamosa), a kidney-like fruit in form, with 
a custard-like interior. 

The superb alligator-pear, more properly called percia 
gratissima ; its first name given probably from it^ being 
indigenous to a country abounding in saurian reptiles, other- 
wise it is difiicult to account for its inappropriate designation. 
It resembles in shape a large pear ; l)ut the interior of its 
rind is hned with a marrow-like substance of a yellowish 
colour, somewhat like butter, and used at the breakfast-table. 

Among other products is the tamarind, unrivalled either 
as regards beauty of foliage, brilliancy of blossoms, or the 
delicacy of its acidulous pulpy pods. In blossom the tree is 
a lovely object. Amid its feathery dark green foliage issue, in 
vast numbers, golden yellow branches with delicate flowers 
dazzling to the eye ; while its fruits in a green state form a 
candied sweetmeat, or when ripe, and made into a decoction, 
a refreshing drink for fever-stricken patients. 


The inaja-paliii, of various species, produces pellucid i)ods, 
from one to two feet in length, containing a row of beans 
— enveloped in white cottony pulp — grateful to the taste. 

The cocoa-palm, though at a distance from the coast, here 
flourishes in great perfection, adding to the splendour of the 
vegetation, ^vith its glorious crown of monster leaves ; while 
the plantain and banana are widely cultivated, a few plants 
of which are sufficient to supply a family with bread, vege- 
tables, fruit, and preserves of various kinds. Humboldt 
observes that an area planted with plantains produces nearly 
twenty times as much food as the same space sown with 


Amid this rich and varied vegetation, swarms of tiny and 
brilliant humming-birds flutter round th(5 masses of highly- 
scented blossoms that perfume the air, and which might be 
mistaken by the stranger at first sight for some of the 
metallic-coloured beetles which dispute with them the nectar 
of the fragrant flowers, so brilliant is the lustre shed by both. 
As Gosse well remarks : " For that peculiar charm which 
resides in flashino- lio-ht, combined with the most brilliant 
colours, the lustre of precious stones, there are no birds, no 
creatures, that can compare with the humming-birds, confined 
exclusively to America." These lovely little winged gems were 
to the Mexican and Peruvian Indians the very quintessence of 
beauty ; and were called by various names, signifying " tlie 
rays of the sun," and the like. Fully four hundred distinct 
species of these winged gems are supposed to exist on the 


Of the trees which have a wide range over the country. 


especially near the sea-coast, the lignum vitse is of great value. 
As from its hard nature it turns the edge of the best-tempered 
tools, it serves for the construction of wharves, as well as for 
the keels of ships,— the attacks of the teredo, or sea-worm, 
being futile upon the iron network of its fibres. It can 
remain under water for an indefinite period without rotting, 
and eventually becomes petrified. 

Here the guayacan, or guayacum of the arts, is found in 
great abundance. 

The alcornoque, a beautiful tree, scarcely inferior to it, here 
raises its graceful head above the rest, aftbrding the cattle a 
permanent shade during the dry season ; while in the Llanos 
it is used in the construction of houses and fences. 

The Brazileto-wood tree grows in abundance, producing a 
beautiful dye. 

Among others is the tree which yields the precious balsam 
of copaiba, — extracted by making incisions in the trunk, when 
the resinous fluid pours forth. 

The natives form their piroques or canoes from the last 
which we will mention, the tacamahaca (the Elaphrium tornen- 
tosium), which here attams gTeat dimensions. The bark is of 
the nature of the birch bark of North America, and is stripped 
off* the trees in a similar manner, the huge sheets being joined 
at the extremities by means of slender vines, while the in- 
terstices are filled with resin to keep out the water — the whole 
being then bound with stronger vines, and several sticks 
being fixed between the borders to prevent the bark from 
collapsing. The resin of this tree, an opaque lemon-coloured 
substance, resembles wax ; and when mixed with algoroba, it 
forms a torch which burns with great brilliancy, and emits a 
delicious odour. 


The vast Llanos, already mentioned, in the north cover a 
surface of about 110, GOO square miles. Over a large portion 
of this wide-extending region, even the wild Indian, there 
unable to find subsistence, but seldom roamed ; and thus for 
aiies it remained a howlino; w^ilderness, inhabited, and that 
only at certain seasons, by the jaguar, the peccary, the agouti, 
and the timid deer. . Here, when the summer sun sends doA\Ti 
its burnmg rays day after day from a cloudless sky, the grass 
withered and shrivelled by its heat, the plain presents the 
appearance of a desert waste. No cooling breeze passes across 
it, no shelter is found from the scorching heat. The pools 
are dried up, the surface of the swamps becomes cracked and 
dry — the brown stalks of the tall reeds alone marking the 
nature of the ground. Here, occasionally, when the blast 
sweeps across the plain, columns of dust are set in motion, 
like those of the African Sahara, overwhelminof and stifiinu' 
the incautious traveller, who is hurled senseless to the gTound. 

Here, too, as in other desert regions, the mirage mocks him 
as he journeys across it parched with thirst — often assuming 
a semblance of the ocean, slowly moving in wave-like undu- 

The few trees and shrubs which here and there rise from 
tlie plain assume a grayish-yellow tint, showing that the saj) 
which has hitherto nourished their leaves has ceased to How, 
— stopped by the burning heat, which has dried up every 
particle of moisture from Avhich they are wont to obtain 
nourishment. At this season even the animals take their 
departure ; here and there the alligator and anaconda alone 
remain, in a turpid state, buried in the clay of the dried-up 

The traveller who ventures across this arid reijion has nut 


only to encounter the breath of the simoom, the sufferings of 
burning thirst, the attacks of wild beasts, the bite of the 
matacabello — which may kill his steed and leave him helpless 
— and many other dangers, but, more fearful than all, flames 
caused by some camp-fire incautiously left burning, seizing 
the parched vegetation, traverse the plain with inconceivable 
rapidity. He and his Indian guides, without whom he 
could not venture across it, discover far away on the horizon 
columns of smoke ascending to the skies. The Indians, 
standing up in their stirrups, gaze at it anxiously for a 
moment to watch its direction, and then pressing their steeds 
to their utmost speed, urge him to fly for life. At first he 
can scarcely believe that yon distant line of smoke is menacing 
them with danger ; but soon onwards it comes, the burning 
torrent rolling rapidly towards them. Now and then they 
turn their heads to watch its progress. In vain they look out 
in every direction for a darker patch in the jjlain, which may 
indicate a water pool, and amid which they may seek refuge. 
None appears. On they rush, urging their horses by whip 
and spur — their steeds seeming to know their danger. Already 
they see the bright glare of the flames below the dark mass 
of smoke. Already the bursting and crackling of the leaves, 
as the threatening column rushes on, reaches their ears. A 
fearful death is following them. At length the sharp eyes of 
one of the guides discover a slight eminence ; towards this, 
though almost despairing of safety, they direct their course. 
They reach its base. It is but thinly covered with vegeta- 
tion. Scarcely have they urged up their panting horses to the 
summit than the flames overtake them. And now the sea of 
fire rolls its devourino: billows around, and the suflfbcatini]: 
smoke, striking in their faces, compels them to fall on the 


gi'(jund, in the hope of obtaining sufficient aiv for hreathinn^, 
till the flames have passed by. The fire mounts the hill, but 
happily, finding little nourishment, is speedily extinguished 
And now the waving mass, rolling onwards, recedes further 
and further from their gaze. 

Whole swarms of voracious vultures follow in circling flight 
the smoky column, like so many hungiy jackals, and pounce 
upon the snakes and lizards which the blaze has stifled and half 
calcined in its murderous embrace. Then, w4th the rapidity 
of lightning, they dart on their prey and disappear in the 
clouds of smoke, as if they were voluntarily devoting them- 
selves to a fiery death. Soon the deafening noise of the con- 
flagration ceases, and the dense black clouds in the distance 
are the only signs that the flames are still proceeding on 
their devastating path over the wide waste of the savannah. 

The travellers thus happily saved may now proceed on theu' 
course, provided they have a supply of water for themselves, 
and have certain information of the existence of some deep 
})ool at which their steeds may quench their thirst. Let them 
Ije cautious, however, how they approach the pool ; for beneath 
its surface the alligator and anaconda lie hid, or the electric 
eel — which with its powerful galvanic battery may strike the 
steed which ventures within its reach. 

Even in this arid region the bountiful Creator has not left 
his creatures without the means of sustaining life. Here, on 
the driest soil, the globular melon-cactus, measuring a foot in 
diameter, flourishes ; its tough and prickly skin surrounding 
a rich and juicy pulp. It is, however, covered with long, 
sharp thorns, which must be broken oft' before the refreshing 
juice can be obtained. It is curious that the wild horse and 
ox — strangers, as it were, to the region— are not ])ossessed of 

11 r. 


the sagacity to do this ; while the mule, when it discovers 
the melon, sets to work at once with its fore-feet, and then 
cautiously sips the refreshing liquid. 

Day after day the sun, with a lurid glare spread far and 
wide over the cloudless sky, rises above the arid plains, drawing 
up every particle of moisture, and withering with the intense 
heat of his rays every blade of grass and green leaf, till it 
seems as if the whole region were doomed to eternal desolation. 
At length, however, a wonderful change takes place over the 
hitherto arid waste. A thick veil of mist is drawn across 
the blue sky. A low bank of clouds appears on the horizon. 
Gradually it rises, assuming the form of distant mountain-chains 
above the plain. Onwards it advances, increasing in density, 
while vivid flashes of lio^htnino- dart forth ; the thunder is 
heard rolling in the distance, and now loud crashing peals 
burst from the clouds, which rapidly spreading across the 
vault of heaven, plenteous showers rush downwards on the 
parched earth, filling up the dry cracks in the marshes, re- 
plenishing the pools, and swelling the streams. The grass 
springs up on every long-dry spot, the leaves burst forth, 
while thousands of flowers of every tint and hue enamel the 
plain ; and, as if by magic, the whole face of nature is in a few 
hours changed. In a short time the thorny bushes of the 
delicate and feathery -foliaged mimosas are loaded w^ith masses 
of canary-coloured blossoms, from their summits down to the 
lowest branches, sending forth an almost overpowering per- 
fume ; while the fronds of the beautiful mauritias — the palm 
of the Llanos —risino" to the heii-'ht of one hundred feet above 
the plain, sprout forth in rich luxuriance. 

Animal life, too, wakes up. The savage alligator and the 
huge anaconda crawl forth from the bed of cla}^ in which 


tlioy have })assed their summer sleep, in search of prey ; ibises, 
cranes, liamingoes, and numberless water-fowl, swarm on the 
newly-formed pools ; the cattle of the Lhmeros luxuriate in 
the abundant grasses which everywhere appear ; while multi- 
tudes of insects crawl forth, seeking refuge from the flood in the 
hio-her m-ounds. The swollen rivers now inundate the V)lains, 

O O -I- 

and the spots where tlie cattle wandered in vain to quench 
their thirst can now ])e passed for miles together by boats ; 
and alligators lie in wait to seize in their savage jaws the 
horses and oxen compelled to swim across the flooded land in 
search of pasture, 


Sterile as the Llanos appear during the dry season, nume- 
rous cattle-farms exist, scattered widely over large portions. 
The Llaneros, as the inhabitants are called — descendants of the 
white settlers, with an admixture of Indians and blacks — are 
a hardy, bold race, living almost entirely on horseback, en- 
gaged in watching over their herds, and in battling with the 
spotted jaguar, the savage cayman, the huge boa and ana- 
conda, and occasionally the fierce natives of the surrounding- 
deserts. Often, too, they have to struggle for their lives 
against the sudden inroads of the vast inundations which 
sweep oft" their herds and frail habitations. Armed with their 
unerring lasso and garrocha, or sharp lanc<\ blunderbuss and 
sword, they fear no foes. These lances, formed of the tough 
stem of a small palm, are weapons of no slight importance to 
them. They are sharpened to a point at one end, and har- 
dened in the fire, or sometimes have an iron head. Round 
the point a nundjcr of loose metal rings are secured, which 
when shaken produce a loud rattling sound. 


See a band of these hardy horsemen in chase of the wild 
cattle which roam at large over the plains. In bands of six or 
ten, they form a circle of fifteen miles or so in circumference 
— bivouacking during the previous night at then- respective 
stations. At early dawn they mount their horses ; and now, 
shouting and shrieking, with their lasso coiled before them 
on their saddle, and their garrocha in their hand, whirled 
round and round, they advance, closing in towards the centre of 
the circle, and driving before them all the animals they meet. 
The animals, terrified by the cries and whirling spears, dash 
madly forward, — some endeavouring to break away from the 
circle, when they are speedily tui'ned back by the sharp goads 
of the horsemen. Not only the cattle, but wild boars, deer, 
and other quadrupeds, starting up from the ground where 
they have been resting, dash on amid the confused herd. 
And now perhaps several thousand head of cattle are collected 
within the circle formed by a hundred or more horsemen. If 
a fierce bull, turning round, ventures to encounter them, they 
shake their rattling spears in his ears, and quickly again turn 

WHien a bull is overtaken, the Llanero thrusts the point 
of his spear into the animal's shoulder, and, leaning forward 
with the whole weight of his body upon the shaft, over- 
throws the savage creature, who rolls headlong on the plain, 
where he is quickly secured. Sometimes a fiercer bull than 
ordinary charges the horsemen, who fly on either side ; but 
wheeling round speedily, with their lassos whirling round 
their heads, the noose is thrown over the animal's horns, and 
the well-trained steeds assisting their riders, he is speedily 
brought to the ground. A hole being then pierced in the 
thick cartilage of the nostrils, a thong is passed through it. 



the other end being fastened to the horse's tail. A jerk 

quickly brings the bull to his feet, and he is led off a captive. 

A still bolder manoeuvre is accomplished by the expci't 


liorseman. Galloping after the bull, the rider seizes the ani- 
mal's tail, giving it a turn i-ound his own vrrist, and then 
again urges forward his horse till ])oth are at full speed, when, 


suddenly turning in an oblique direction, by a powerful jerk 
— from the impetuosity imparted by their rapid speed — 
the bull is brought to the ground. Here, too, the horse, 
knowing what is about to be done, stai'ts forward at the pro- 
per moment, and assists in accomplishing the work. Some- 
times the daring Llanero will throw himself from his seat, 
still holding on to the tail of the bull, and seldom fails ulti- 
mately to overthrow it. 

The whole scene is one of the wildest confusion. Clouds 
of dust rise from the dry plain, trampled on by the hoofs of 
numberless animals. The bulls, diiven to fury, tear up the 
earth, and with deep, savage bellowings I'ush at their fellows 
a,s well as at their foes, unable to distinguish one from the 
other — often piercing the former with their sharp horns. The 
uproar is increased by the yells and shouts of the Llaneros 
galloping in all directions over the ground, i-attling their gai- 
i-ochas, waving their, ponchos, and whirling their lassos. Yet 
further to increase the turmoil and uproar, flocks of cranes and 
herons, staitled by the hoofs of the horses and shouts of the 
liders as they rush onward, rise fi'om the stunted trees of a 
neighbouring marsh, with loud cries and clashing of wings, into 
the air, hovering above the heads of the actors in such numbers 
as almost to darken the sky as they circle i-ound and round. 

The object of the hunt is to separate the cattle of the dif- 
ferent owners, and to drive them into their respective corrals 
01' majadas. Tame cattle are employed to assist in the opera- 
tion, and are stationed at various places round the circle. The 
horsemen, dashing in among the mass of excited animals, fear- 
less of the points of their sharp horns, drive out with their 
lances those they recognize as their own property — Iviiown by 
the notches on their ears — o-oadino- them with their lances. 


The animals, now separated with wonderful skill, are, with 
their calves, urged towards the groups of their well- trained 
kindred, who lead them on towards the destined corral. Often, 
liowever, suspecting treachery, they turn round and attempt 
to escape, rushing with mad fury towards the horsemen- 
many of whose steeds are thus pierced by their horns, and 
the riders, overthrown, with difficulty escaping. 

Thus they at length reach the entrance of the corral, which 
is in the shape of a funnel, composed of stout posts strength- 
ened by thick rafters. Here the most desperate struggle often 
ensues ; but the bulls are met by an array of the rattling 
garrochas ; and though some may escape at the last, the great 
mass are, by the skill of the Llaneros, at length secured within 
tlie corral, — many of the cattle receiving desperate wounds. 

These farms of the Llanos, built in the roughest and most 
primitive style, are surrounded by fences, intended not onh' 
to resist the rush of a hord of cattle, but the attack of human 
foes. The inclosures are formed of huge trunks of trees, 
driven close too;ether into the o-round. It would seem difficult 
to account for the way in which they are brought across the 
])lain. This is done, however, during the inundation of the 
savannahs, \N'hen they are transported to the spot on rafts 
made of lighter wood, — the timbers themselves being composed 
of a species of acacia of extreme hardness, and from their 
nature capable of resisting the effects of alternation of climate 
for many years. Many of these corrals are suffiiciently 
s|)acious to contain three thousand head of cattle. 

When the animal is to be caught for slaughter, the horse- 
men go in chase, the one securinsx it bv his lasso over its head 
and dragging it along, while the other urges it on with his 
garroclia till it reaches the slaughter-post. Tlie iirst then 


secures the animal by a few turns of the lasso round it, while 
a matador strikes his dagger into the vertebrae at the back of 
the head, when the animal drops as if struck by an electric 

These wild horsemen, when crossing a river, hesitate 
not to plunge in, in spite of the alligators which may be 
swarming on every side. While their clothes are carried 
across in a hide-formed canoe, put together at the moment, 
they dash into the stream without clothes or saddles, and then 
slipping from the backs of their horses, support themselves on 
the animals' haunches with one hand, while they guide them 
l)y means of the halter with the other ^ — -their companions 
on the shore shouting, yelling, and shaking theii' ponchos, 
to dnve the rest of the herd into the water. The caymans, 
alarmed by the uproar, keep at a distance ; but the savage 
little caribes frequently attack them, and many thus fall. 

Besides cattle, horses, and mules, vast numbers of hogs range 
over the plain, — the descendants of those introduced by the 
early settlers, and which are now, from their ferocity, and the 
formidable size of their tusks, considered foes worthy of the 
lances of the bold horsemen. These lances, generally used in 
hunting, have played no insignificant part in the hands of the 
Llaneros, as well as in those of some of the fierce tribes of 
the desert, durino- the civil wars which so lono- disturbed the 

A profusion of fruits in a state of nature gTow in the woods 
and plains. Among them are several species of wild guavas. 
Some are of exquisite flavour and aroma. One sort bears in 
rich profusion a number of brilliant scarlet, highly perfumed, 
and acidulous fruits. There are various kinds of custard 
a])ples, the inside a sweet and highly aromatic pulp filled with 


small seeds. Also the madrofia, which rcseiiiljles the loinon in 
shape and colour, and lilled with a pulp enveloping several large 
nuts, the llavour not unlike strawberries. The tree which 
produces these fruits attains a height of sixty feet, and has a 
dense foliage of a brilliant green. 

On a vine grows the monkey cacao bean, which these ani- 
mals eagerly devour. 

There are many leguminous trees, some beaiing pods ten 
inches long, filled with rows of l)lack beans enveloped in a 
snow-white and agreeably sweet pulp. Here also is the alga- 
robo, or locust-tree of the New World ; bearing pods filled 
with beans surrounded l)y a sweet farinaceous substance, of a 
highly nutritious quality. 

Indeed, Venezuela is behind no other region of the world 
in the variety and quality of its natural productions. 



WIDE belt of low land borders the ocean side of 
Guiana on the north-east of the continent, where 
white men dwell, in houses elevated on piles of 
timber, among sugar-estates and cotton-plantations, tall wind- 
mills, and numerous canals crowded with shipping, which 
would present a thoroughly Dutch scene were it not for the 
stately cocoa-nut and cabbage palms rising amid them, the 
dark-skinned labourers, the blue sky, and burning heat. The 
province is, however, for the most part a region of rugged 
mountains, dense forests, open savannahs, broad streams, cata- 
racts, waterfalls, and rapids ; where the yet untamed savage, 
making war on his neighbours, and sunk in the grossest bar- 
barism, lives as his predecessors have done for centuries past. 
Through the centre of the territory flows the Essequibo, 
the largest river between the Amazon and the Orinoco. Its 
source is amono; the same mountains which oive birth to some 
of the tributaries of those mighty rivers, the one running to 
the north, the other to the south ; thus adding to the wonder- 
ful network which unites the waters of South America. 

It was through this region that the gallant Raleigh, and 

GUIANA. 65 r. 

many bands of Spanish adventurers in succession, in spite of 
the most terrific dangers and difficulties, fought their way 
amid hostile natives in search of the far-famed El Dorado. 
Among the first bands was that led by the celebrated Philip 
Von Huten. They had heard that in the inteiior of the 
country there existed a golden region, sui^passing even the 
wildest descriptions of that of Peru. It was said that some 
of the royal race of the Incas, escaping from their Spanish 
invaders, had established a new dynasty amid the mountains, 
on the shores of a beautiful lake, the sands of which contained 
gold in prodigious quantities. The houses of his capital were 
covered with plates of gold. The vessels of the royal palace 
were of the same metal ; and so abundant was it, that the 
natives, anointing their bodies with a glutinous substance, 
sprinkled them over with the dust. The person of the sove- 
reign was especially thus adorned by his attendants. Oviedo 
remarks — '' As this kind of garment would be uneasy whilst 
sleeping, the prince washes himself every evening, and is 
gilded afresh in the morning;" thus proving that the empire 
of El Dorado is infinitely rich in mines. 

Von Huten and his band, after desperate fighting, were 
compelled to retire, just as they believed they had seen in the 
far-off" distance the shining roofs of the splendid city. Their 
leader was preparing another expedition when he fell by the 
hand of an assassin. 

Notwithstanding the dangers to be encountered from the 
fierce Caribs — who, sheltered by trees and rocks everywhere, 
attacked their foes witli poisoned arrows — and tlie numerous 
disappointments which occurred, fresh bands of adventurers, 
age after age, still l^elieving in the fal)led wealth which was 
to be their prize should they succeed, set i'urlh, in hupe of 

656 GUIANA. 

reaching the wonderful city. Some of Sir Walter Raleigh's 
followers declared, indeed, that they saw rocks shining 
brightly with gold, and a mountain containing diamonds and 
• other valuable stones, the lustre of Avhich blazed forth to a 
considerable distance. 

Every marvellous fable found belief The crew of an 
English ship, about that time exploring the Marowyne, stated 
that they had seen on its banks a gigantic race of men, who 
carried in their hands bows made of gold. Wherever mica 
fras seen glittering on the side of a mountain, it was supposed 
to be the same precious metal. Sii' Walter Raleigh sent his 
faithful lieutenant, Captain Keymis, to carry on the expedi- 
tion he was himself unable to undertake. His chief object, 
and that of his successors, was to discover the site of the 
golden city. Keymis, while sailing up the Essequibo, heard 
that by ascending one of its tributaries — the Rupunoony — 
he would certainly reach it. 

Numerous other expeditions were organized by Spaniards 
and Portuguese. Many of the unfortunate adventurers fell 
by the hands of the natives, others by famine and fatigue ; 
and as late as the year 1776 a large band set forth, when 
many hmidi'eds perished, one man only returning to tell the 
sad fate of his companions. 

At length, in the quarter to which Captain Keymis had 
been directed, the small lake of Amucu was discovered, to 
which a river called the Parima is connected ; and from the 
geological structure of the surrounding country, is supposed 
to have been formerly much larger than at present. Withui 
and around it are islands and rocks of mica, slate, and talc ; 
*' the materials," observes Humboldt, " out of which has 
been formed that gorgeous capital, whose temples and houses 

THE ESSIQU1130. 607 

were overlaid with beaten plates of gold." Schombergh, 
who visited the lake, agrees with the German philosopher. 
Another traveller, Hillhouse, in 1830 ascended the Masaruni, 
Avhich flows from the northern side of the mountains of 
Roraima, among which the lake is situated; and believes that 
its romantic valley was once the bed of a large lake twelve 
miles in width, and upwards of one hundred miles in length, 
— which lono- aoo burst its barrieis and o-ave rise to the fable 
still preserved among the Indians, and, till within almost 
the present century, believed in by the colonists themselves. 


Let us take a glance over some of the rivers of the land. 
. The Essequiljo, called by the Indians the ^' younger brother 
of the Orinoco," first claims attention. The mouth has rather 
the appearance of a vast lake than a river, its shores bordered 
l)y thick groves of that tree of curious structure, the man- 
grove, whose roots or seeds, borne on the ocean wave, strike 
wherever they can find a muddy soil, throughout every pail 
of the tropics. Rising upwards on the roots, which it shoots 
downwards as it grows, the base of its stem is often six or 
eight feet from the ground — the stem itself seL.lom more than 
a foot in diameter, and from fifteen to twenty feet in height. 
Its thick stiff ribs, about eight inches long and nine inches 
wide, are of a dark sombi-e hue. This broad estuary, extending 
inland for thirty miles or more, with numerous pictures(pie 
islands covered by tropical vegetation rising out of it, is joined 
by the united streams of the Masaruni and Cuyuni, its oanii 
ajid their romantic watoifalls making' a continuous naviiration 
up them impossible. Yet, notwithstanding its impediments, 
iliese rivers allord the only means of connnunication, exce})t 

•579) I o 



along the foot-tracks of th 

Indians, through 

forests, into the far-off interior. 

These forests commence in 
many parts close to the ocean, 
spreading often for thousands 
of squaie miles, broken some- 
times l»3^ swamps, and at 
others by wide savannahs, open 
spaces covered with grasses, 
and here and there clumps of 
trees. Even the sand-hills of 
moderate height borderino- the 
Atlantic are clothed by the 
superb vegetation of the tropics, 

the forest extending to, and 
even chmbing up the sides of the 
Rocky Mountains. Vast tim- 
ber trees, the purple and green 
heart, the stately mora, the lo- 
cust-tree, raise their heads above 





Uieir smaller Lretlireii, conquering in tlie struggle for ruuni to 
allow their foliage to expand ; w hile below, the moist carpet 
of fallen leaves, fungi, aiid moss, increases the richness of the 


vegetation. Here also are numerous graceful palms, — the 
cocorite, from Ayhicli the Indians form their poisoned ariows ; 
the troali, with broad and lono- leaves, used for thatchino- their 
huts. The graceful manicol, rising to a great height, Ijends, 
like the weeping willow, its slender stem over the stream ; 
and, with several other species of palm, it affords the succulent 
cabbage. Beautiful parasites hang in every direction from 
the trunks and boughs — sipos ascending and clinging in intri- 
cate netwoik, interlacing the trunks and branches, and often 
supporting the remnants of the trees they themselves by their 
fatal embrace have destroyed ; indeed, the same style of forest 
here exists as throughout the Valley of the Amazon. 

As the flora is much the same on a similar altitude, so 
there is little difference in the fauna, although some species 
are found in Guiana which are unknown in the latter region. 
The native tribes, however — the red men of the wilds — differ 
considerably. Near the supposed . site of the famed El Dorado 
at Pirara, situated on the borders of Brazil, some thirty years 
ago, an attempt was made to carry, not the gold that perishes, 
but the joyful news of salvation, to the long-benighted Indians 
in that region. It was blessed, and was prospering greatly, 
and gave promise of the speedy conversion of the Macusi 
tribe and others, when some Brazilian Roman Catholic priests, 
hearing of it, determined on its destruction, and induced their 
government to claim the region as Brazilian territory. A de- 
tachment of militia was despatched, and took possession of the 
village. The Indians, fearing lest the Brazilians might conduct 
them into slavery, dispersed into the foi-ests and mountains, 
while the missionary with difliculty escaped with his life. 

. The distance to be traversed fiom the Ihitish ca])ita] of 
George ToAv^n to Pirara is aljout three hundred ujiles ; and 


though the scenery is of that enchanting character wliich, as 
the entluisiastic Watcrton describes it, made his sonl oveillow 
with joy, and roam in fancy through fairy-land, yet, as it is 
through an ahnost uninliahited country, with lunnerous rapids 
and torrents, woods to be traversed, and mountains to ho 
climbed, the difficulties are not contemptible. 

" To surmount these obstacles to navigation," say Mr. 
Brett, " it is necessary in some places to cany or haul the 
canoe overland at the sides of the fall. At others, advantage 
is taken of the eddies which are found at the base, and huge 
rocks that intercept the stream. The Indians pass from rock 
to rock by leaping, wading, or swinnning, and, by means of a 
hawser, haul the boat throuoh the rushino; water from one 
resting-point to another, the steersman keeping his seat, and — 
sometimes lashed to it — striving with his large paddle to guide 
in some deofree her course. The roar of the Avater dashinic 
and foaming against the surrounding rocks renders this opera- 
tion as excitino; as it is difficult. Still more excitini>' and 
difficult is the task of descending these rapids. The safety 
of all then depends on their perfect steadiness, and on the 
bowman and steersman actino- in concert, and Avith instant 
decision. The canoe is kept in the very centre of the current, 
one of her best liands kneeling with quick eye and ready 
paddles in the boAV, and the rest of the crcAV exerting their 
strength to give her headway. Darting swiftly along, she 
arrives at the head of the fall, and boundinu" downward, 
shoots into the surf below it, dashing it u\) on either side, and 
leaving her crew alone visible. If all be well, rising above 
the foam, she obeys the guiding paddles in stem and stern, and 
dances over the tumbling waves, while her excited crew exult 
at their success. Whoh,' families, however, even r)f Indians, 


are sometimes drowned ; and in 1865 Captain Beresford, son- 
in-law of the governor, and four other gentlemen, with two 
of their crew, lost their lives in shooting the lower falls of the 


On the Berhice, which falls into the Atlantic about sixty 
miles eastward of George Town, the falls and rapids — which 
do not, however, reach to within one hundred and sixty miles 
of its mouth — are very numerous. While the scenery round 
them is highly picturesque, they are extremely dangerous. 
Here is found the cascade of Idurewadde ; and higher up, the 
cataract of Itabru. Above these again are more than forty 
falls and rapids, called by Schombergh the Christmas Cataracts, 
and which cost him and his companions immense labour to 
suiTuount. On their return, one of the party, rashly standing 
on the thwarts of the canoe while shooting the falls, upset it 
and was drowned. 

Huge cajanans abound in the river, and lie like logs of 
wood at the foot of the cataracts or rapids, watching stealthily 
to catch and swallow whatever the fierce current may bring 
down to them. 

Above these falls is a lagoon, on which he discovered the 
now far-famed Victoria Regia, before that time unknown to 
the world. At the head of the Masaruni rises Mount Roraima, 
7540 feet in height. It is the principal watershed, from which 
various streams flow in different directions into the three gi'eat 
rivers — -Amazon, Orinoco, and Essequibo. Hillhouse and Schom- 
bergh describe the side of the mountain as composed of cliffs, 
hfteen hundred feet in height, of compact sandstone, as perpen- 
dicular as if erected with the plumb-line, and overhung in part 
Avith low shrubs. Though distant, they appear as if in danger- 


ous proximity. Around arc detached masses, apparently torn 
from those gigantic walls of nature ; and every moment it seems 
as if one of them would block up the path, or cut off all re- 
treat. In places the channel of the stream is so narrow that the 
canoe can hardly pass, in others it widens out into a shallow 
claret-coloured lake. At length a capacious basin is entered, 
black as ink, surrounded by a bold and extensive shore as white 
as chalk. The roar of the water is heard, but no current per- 
ceived ; though there is a foam-like yeast on the surface, 
which remains all day without visible alteration. At length, 
in the distance, a l)roken white line is seen struggling through 
a cluster of granite rocks at the base of two quartz cliffs of a 
mixed character. This is the fall of Macrebah. 


In these mountain regions dwell the Arecunas, a fine sturdy 
race — with clear copper-tinted skins — unencumbered by 
clothing, though wearing feathers and other ornaments ; long 
sticks through the cartilage of their nostrils, and still longer, 
richly adorned with tufts of black feathers, through their 
ears. Both sexes are much tattooed ; some of the women hav- 
ing dark l)lue lines across the upper lip, and extending in 
wavy curves over each cheek, looking like enormous curled 
moustaches. Others have a broad line romid the mouth, 
which gives it the appearance of being far larger than it is in 
reality. The men wear the heads of humming-birds and of 
a bird of a beautiful blue colour in their ears ; and round 
their waist, girdles of monkey's hair. 

Schond)ergh, who visited them, says they made a great 
feast in his honour, when there was a grand display (^f 
gorgeous plumes, and liead-dresses, — the whole winged triV>e 


having apparonth^ been put in requisition to furnish forth the 
most brilliant of their feathers. Tliey had also necklaces of 
the teeth of monkeys and peccaiies, and porcupines' quills ; to 
which were attached lono- cotton frinp;es — which huno- down 
their backs, and to which toucan and other skins were 
suspended securely. Feasting and dancing, kept up by the 
natives thus dressed, lasted the whole night ; and the con- 
stantly-repeated burden of their song was — '' Roraima of the 
red rock, wra]^ped in clouds, the ever-fertile source of streams." 


Eastward of the Berbice, and greatly inferior in size to the 
Essequibo, is the Corentyn, which has its source near the 
oquatoi', and forms the boundary of the Bi'itish colony. A 
few Indians of various tiibes dwell on its banks near the 
mouth, but above their last settlemerit desolation reigns 

On the rocks near its banks may be seen a few rude carv- 
ings, the handiwork of a race long passed away. Day after 
day the voyager on its waters passes amid the wildest and 
most romantic scenery, — amid numerous islands, rocks, and 
rapids ; but no human beings are seen — not a light canoe on 
its waters, not an habitation on its banks. At length, after a 
nine days' voyage, enormous rocks appear heaped together, 
opposing progress ; vast chasms yawn beneath his feet when 
he lands, and at certain places the streams sink into the earth 
as if by magic, to reappear where least expected. A thunder- 
ing noise is heard, and a mist hovers in the air, in which 
thousands of birds disport themselves, — marking the position of 
the great cataracts of the Corentyn. The scene, however, is 
too vast to be l)eheld in its full grandeur from any single 


point of view. No waterfall in the territory surpasses tliem 
in orandeur. 


The fierce Caribs, in the days of their })ower, inhabited 

the banks of the river, engaged in carrying into slavery 

the people of other tribes from far and near ; but they, and 

those they oppressed, have passed away — a few families only of 

their descendants remaining here and there — the one to boast 

of the prowess of their ancestors, the other to tell the tale of 

their woes. 


High up the River Demerara — on which George Town, the 
capital of the colony, is built — where the river forces its Avay 
through the dense forest, is a fall of great picturesque beauty. 
Here, says Mr. Brett, the cataract precipitates itself in one 
body over the rocky barrier ; and huge masses of rock, crowned 
with stately trees, divide it into channels ere it reaclies its 
lower bed. Of these channels, there are two large ones in 
the centre, witli smaller ones on either side. All are fille<l 
with great boulders, over which the dark waters toss and 
dash until they roll into the wide basin below, covering its 
surface and margin with masses of yeasty foam. The length of 
the fall appears to be three or four hinidred feet, though the 
perpendicular difference between the levels of the river above 
and below is sixty-five feet. Three-fourths of this cataract 
is hid from view by the luxuriant forest which clothes its 
sides and covers its islands. The misty spray — rising, when 
the river is full, from the channels between the tall trees — the 
rushing noise, and a glimpse of the torrent here and there, 
show imperfectly its divided course. Could a clear view l)e 
obtained of it, it would be found to contain a spectacle lull 
of beautv and interest. 


Between that point and the Essequibo, with which the 
Demerara runs parallel, is a remarkable — almost perpendicu- 
lar — rock called Maboora, the uppermost of a succession of 
natural terraces. The ascent to the summit from the forest 
below occupies some hours. From hence the broad Essequibo 
can be seen flowing, partly hidden by the range of hills. Its 
face is broken up by the rains of ages into huge boulders, but 
the top is level. In its western base is a large cavern, having 
an inner chamber with a narrow entrance. Here the beauti- 
ful cock of the rocks, adorned with golden orange tints and 
double fan-like crest, makes his abode. The nests of these 
brilliant birds are at some distance from the sand}^ floor, and 
attached to the rocky sides. 


But we must pass from the scenery of this region of catar- 
acts and forests, to take another glance at the wild tribes who 
inhabit it. The most numerous and ferocious at one time, by 
far, were the cannibal Caribs ; who for ages had inhabited the 
country, and were joined by their brethren, driven by the 
Spaniards from the islands they had long occupied. Whether 
the whole race had originally come from the north, scattering 
their bands and taking possession of the islands they passed, 
seems uncertain. 

When Columbus discovered the islands, to which he gave 
the name of the people, he had full evidence of their courage, 
ferocity, and cannibal propensities. At the same time, 
they paid great attention to agriculture, and brought home 
seeds and plants fiom the territories they overran. They 
were in the habit of attacking other islands and the mainland, 
and carrying ofl' the women as slaves; making prisoners of the 


men, to be killed and eaten. Tlieir arms were clubs, and 
bows and poisoned arrows. Even the women were expei-t 
archers, and when their husbands were away remained to 
flefend their homes. The hair of these savaores was coarse 
and long — their ej^es, suiTounded with paint, giving them a 
hideous expression ; while their limbs were bound with bands 
of cotton, causing them to swell out into disproportionate size 
where unconfined. When attacked by the Spaniards, the men 
refused to be taken alive, and the women defended themselves 
with the fiercest coura^-e after the death of their husbands. 

In the British island of St. Vincent several bands remained, 
who devastated the plantations, and committed many atroci- 
ties, — especially in the revolutionary war, when they were 
stirred up by the French. They were removed by the Bii- 
tish Government to the island of Ruatan, in the Bay of Hon- 
duras, whence they emigrated to the neighbouring coast. 
Meantime, they were extending their power on the Southern 
Continent, and became the dominant race on the Orinoco and 
Essequibo, their excursions reaching even to the ])rovinces 
\\'atered by the Amazon. Wherever they appeared, the other 
tribes were driven for refuge to the mountains and forests. 
They even ventured to attack the white settlers, and endea- 
voured to drive out the Spaniards from the city of Valencia 
when first established. 

They incessantly attacked the natives on the banks of the 
Orinoco, sometimes ascending that river in numerous canoes ; 
at other times crossing the highlands, and descending one or 
other of its tributaries, they would come suddenly on their 
foes, never failing to exterminate all who were their inferiors 
in power. TJiey were, however, often fiercely o]>])osed by 
some other tribes, and vast numbers cut off. Durim^^ the 


fearful revolt of the negi^oes in the Dutch provinces, severa.1 
tribes of them were engaged l)y the Dutch Government to 
assist the whites. Making their way through the forest, and 
concealing themselves by day, they would sally forth by night 
and attack the villao-es of the revolters — settino; fire to their 
roofs, and slaughtering the inmates, who fled from their burning- 

Sir Walter Raleigh describes them as a naked people, but 
valiant as any under the sky : and thus they remained, still 
rude and savage, till the common fate of other tribes overtook 
them. Powerful as they were, these wild hordes could only 
fight, overrun, oppress, and destroy ; and even in their highest 
prosperity they were incapable of accomplishing any great 
and useful work. Up to the close of the last century they 
were the most numerous, as well as the most warlike, of all 
the tribes. 

Though their chiefs were not hereditary, if a son equalled 
his father in courage and skill, he succeeded to his power. 
To attain that office, it was necessary for him to be acquainted 
with every art and stratagem of savage warfare, and to pos- 
sess more strength and bravery than the rest of his tribe. 
When a Carib aspired to be the chief, it was customary 
to expose him to the biting of ants ; and if he could bear the 
torture without flinching, then he was considered fit for the 

When a band determined on a predatory excursion, they 
would often, unlike other tribes, attack their enemies in the 
daytime, paddling their canoes against the current in order 
that the sound of their paddles should be heard by their 
enemies, and allow them time to prepare for battle. That 
they were cannibals, there appears no douljt ; at least, they 


feasted on their enemies taken in liattlo, whose llesli tliey tore 
and devonred witli the avidity of wolves. Tlie men were 
put to death, while the w unien and ehildren were preserved 
to be sold into slavery. 

Scattered tribes still exist in different parts of the interior. 
The dress of the women is merely a narrow strip of ]>hie 
cloth ; and their naked bodies are smeared w^ith arnatto, which 
gives them the appearance of bleeding from every pore. Some 
dot their bodies and limbs over with blue s})ots. They wear 
round the leg, just below the knee, a tight strap of cotton, 
and another above each ankle. These are bound on when a 
girl is young, and hinder the gi'owth of the parts by their 
compression, while the calf, which is unconfined, ajipears in 
consequence unnaturally large. Through the lower li}), whieli 
they perforate, they wear two or three pins with the points 
outwards. Should they wish to use one of them, they take 
it out, and afterwards replace it. The men secure a cloth 
round the loins, often of sufficient length to form a kin<l of 
scarf; and to prevent it trailing on the ground, throw it in a 
giaceful way over the shoulder, so that })art of it falls on the 
bosom, while the end hano-s down tlie liack. It is often 
ornamented with cotton tassels, an<l is the most decent and 
serviceable, as well as the most picturesfpie, covering worn by 
any of the native tril)es. Sometimes a coronal of ilowers sur- 
rounds the head, which is usually adorned by a large daub of 
arnatto on the hair above the brow; while the forehead and 
cheeks are painted in various patterns with the same vermi- 
]i<jn colour, which :u\(\>i extreme ferocity to their aj>[»earance. 
Some of the men also smear their bodies witli arnatt(^, as do 
tlie women. They are genei-ally well-proportioned, and more 
elegant in ligure ihan the othei- races. 'I'ln^ wuiuen arc noted 


for weaving excellent and durable hammocks of cotton — a 
plant whicli they cultivate for that purpose. 

When a chief died, his bones, after burial for some time, 
were cleansed by the women, and carefully preserved in their 
houses. Several other tribes follow a similar custom ; allow- 
ing, however, the bones to be deprived of flesh by the raven- 
ous little caribes. After being carefully diied, and tinged with 
red, they are placed in baskets and suspended from the roofs 
of their houses. Among those who have embraced Chris- 
tianity, these and many other barbarous customs have been 

The object of many of their raids of later yeai's was to 
obtain captives to sell to the Dutch. When slavery was 
abolished by the British, this incentive to cruelty no longer 
existed. The fierce Caribs were, however, very indignant at 
the new ord.r of thinos. A Carib chief arrivinof with a 
slave, offered him for sale to the English governor. On the 
refusal of the latter to make the purchase, the savage dashed 
out the brains of the slave, declaring that for the future his 
nation would never give quarter — one of many instances of 
their fearful ferocity. The Carib club is made of the heaviest 
wood to be found. It is about eighteen inches long, flat, and 
square at both ends, but heavier at one than the other. It is 
thinner in the middle, and wound round with cotton thread, 
with a loop to secure it to the wrist. One blow from this 
formidable weapon — which is called '' patu " — is sufficient to 
scatter the brains of the person struck. Sometimes a sharp 
stone is fixed in one end to increase its weio-ht. 

Differing greatly from the Caribs, the Arawaks, who live 


in the noiah]>oui'lioo(l of the British settlements, have ever 
been noted for their mild and peaceable di.s})osition. But still 
they have been compelled t(j light for their inde{)endence, and 
use bows and arrows and clubs -the latter foiinidable weai)on 
being similar to that of the Caiibs. More family affection than 
other tribes usually exhibit exists among them. Husbands 
and wives appear faithful and attached, and live ha})pily to- 
gether. The boys are early trained to fish and paddle their 
canoes; wliile the girls assist their mothers, who generally have 
to do more work than the men. The power of their chiefs, 
who were formerly called caciques, has almost entirely ceased ; 
indeed, their ancient manners and customs have been greatly 
changed by their intercourse with the whites. Those living 
still further in the country, however, practise many of thuir 
barbarous customs, 

Mr. Brett describes a scene he witnessed on the Lake 
Wakapoa — a dance given in honour of a deceased female, who 
had been buried in the house where it took })lace. A broad 
plank lay on her grave, and on it were jjlaced two bundles, 
containing the refuse of the silk grass, of which whi})s — em- 
[jloyed as will be described — were made. There were also two 
rudely-carved birds in wood, the other figures intended to 
represent infants. Two large tubs of paiwari — an intoxicat- 
ing liquor— had also been prepared. 

The young men and boys, fantastically adorned, were 
arranged in two parallel rows facing each other ; each hold- 
ing in his right hand a whi}), called the maquarri, more than 
three feet long, and capable of giving a severe cut — ^as their 
bleeding legs soon am})ly testified. The dance in which 
they were engaged takes its name from this whip. They 
waved them in their hands as they danced, uttering alter- 


nate cries, resembling the note of a bird often heard in the 

At some little distance from the dancers were couples of 
men lashing each other on the leg. The man whose turn it 
was to receive the lash stood firmly on one leg, advancing the 
other ; while his adversary, stooping, took deliberate aim, and, 
springing from the earth to add vigour to his stroke, gave his 
opponent a severe cut. The latter gave no other sign that 
he was hurt than a contemptuous smile, though blood must 
have been drawn by the lash. After a short dance, his oppo- 
nent returned the compliment with equal force. Nothing 
could exceed the good-humour with which these proceedings 
were earned on. One of the men was scarcely al)le to walk, 
after the punishment ; but, in general, after a few lashes they 
drank jmiwari, and returned to the main body of dancers, 
from which fresh couples were continually falling out to test 
each other's mettle. 

At length, on a signal from the master of the house, the 
(lancing ceased, and all the men, arranging themselves in pro- 
cession, Avent round the building with slow and measured 
steps, the plank and the wooden images being carried before 

After this they arranged themselves near the grave, and one 
of them chanted something in a low voice, to which the others 
answered at intervals with four moans by way of chorus. 
The articles carried in procession Avere then taken to a hole 
previously dug in the earth, and buried there. Two or tliree 
men appointed for tlie purpose then drew forth their long 
knives, and rushing in among the dancers, snatched the whij^s 
from them, cut oft' the lash from each, and Ituried tlicm with 
the other ai -tides. 




The tribes of the Guaranis, or Waraus, who once inhabited 
the eastern side of the continent, from the La Plata to the 
Orinoco, still exist, sunk still lower in barbarism even than 
formerly. So little do they care for clothing, that even the 



females wear only a small piece of the bark of a tree, or the 
net-like covering of the young leaf of the cocoa-nut or cab- 
bage-palm ; while their appearance is squalid in the extreme. 
They still, however, exhibit the characteristics \\'hich dis- 

,379) 43 


tinguished them in days of yore, — readiness to yield to circum- 
stances, to labour for wages, and to receive instruction from 
the white man. Thus they have continued to exist whilst 
more warlike tribes have been exterminated. They cultivate 
cassava and other vegetables. From the former they make 
the intoxicating paiwari — the cause of many savage murders 
among them. They depend gi'eatly on the pith of the 
mauritia, or ita, as it serves them for bread ; while of other 
parts of the tree they construct their dwellings. 

The younger people possess good features^some of them 
wearing thin pieces of silver suspended from the cartilage of 
the nostrils. They are generally short, stoutly built, and 
capable of gTeat exertion. They are much sought after for 
labourers. They are also noted for making the best and 
largest canoes in the countiy, and with the laidest implements. 
The Spaniards are said to have employed some of their canoes 
which could carry one hundred men. Those in use even at 
the present day are capable of carrying fifty people. 

Though scattered throughout the countiy, the proper ter- 
ritory of their nation is on the Ioav swampy country which 
borders the banks of the Orinoco ; but their lands being com- 
pletely inundated by the overflowing of the rivers for some 
months in each year, they construct their dwellings above the 
water, among the mauritia palms, whose crowns of fan-like 
leaves wave above their heads and shield them from the rays 
of the burning sun. Not only does this palm afford them 
shelter and the materials for constinicting their habitations, 
but it gives them an abundance of food for the support of life. 
To the upright trunks of the trees, which they use as posts, 
they fix the lower beams of their habitations, a few feet above 
the highest level of the water. On this framework they lay 


the split trunks of smaller palms for tiooring. A>)Ove it a 
roof is formed, thatched with the leaves of the same tree, — 
from which they also procure their chief means of subsistence. 
From the upper beams the hammocks are suspended ; while on 
the flooring a hearth of clay is formed, on which fires are lit 
for cooking their food. Then their canoes, or woibakas, as 
they are called, enable them to procure food from the water, 
and give them the means of moving from place to place. 

No tree is more useful to the natives than the mauritia. 
Before unfoldlno^ its leaves its blossoms contain a sa^'o-like 
meal, which is dried in thin, bread-like slices. The sap is 
converted into palm- wine. The narrow scaled fruit, which 
resembles reddish pine-cones, yields different articles of food — 
according to the period at which it is gathered — whether the 
saccharine properties are fully matured, or whether it is still 
in a farinaceous condition. 

The Guaranis have of late years come under the influence 
of Christian Protestant missions. 


In the neighbourhood of the Lake Parima, the Macusis, as 
well as other tribes, have their homes. The former are noted 
for being the manufacturers of the celebrated wourali poison 
described by Waterton. Numerous other tribes, or sections of 
tribes with different names, exist in the far interior, — both 
westward and to the north and south. Those inhabitino; the 
Lower Amazon possess some degree of civilization, and are 
known under the general name of Ta])uyos — from a once power- 
ful nation of that name, existing towards the southern part of 
the Brazilian coast, and driven northward by still fiercer 


Though less cruel, and frequently sparing the lives of their 
captives, they had the strange custom of eating a portion of their 
dead relatives, as the last mark of affection. Many of the 
Brazilian tribes were reclaimed from their more barbarous 
practices by the Portuguese missionaiies, who from their nume- 
rous dialects formed the language now generally in use — the 
Tupi, Guarani, or ling-na Geral. The remoter tribes, however, 
seeing the way the milder races have been oppressed by un- 
scrupulous traders, and hunted down by government officials 
to be taken as soldiers, resolutely defend their territories from 
all strangers, and retam the ferocity and cannibalism of their 



It is pleasing to read of a tribe described by M'Clintock as 
superior in domestic virtues to most of their countrymen. The 
Acawoios, or Kaphons, though warlike, differ from other tribes 
in many points. Polygamy is not permitted before a suitable 
age. The women are virtuous, and attentive both in sickness 
and old age. After a birth, the mother is relieved even from 
the labour of preparing food for her husband, that she may 
attend to her child. They are cleanly, hospitable, and gener- 
ous, and passionately fond of their children. They seldom talk 
above a whisper among themselves, and however intoxicated — 
which they sometimes become — never quarrel ; nay, more, an 
angTy look is never discernible. They use tobacco ; not chew- 
ing it, however, but simply keeping it between the lips, for 
the purpose of appeasing hunger and preserving their teeth. 
They live towards the head-Avaters of the Essequibo. On the 
whole, a more orderly and peaceably-disposed people can 
scarcely be found anywhere. 

The customs of the fierce tribes, thouo^h difterinoj in some re- 


spccts, agi'ee in many others. They are in general indolent, and 
find clothing unnecessary ; they have little to provide heyond 
their daily food, and thus spend much of their time in their 
hammocks, leaving the women to labour in the plantations 
and attend to their domestic concerns. They are, perhaps, more 
apathetic in manner than reality, having great control over 
their feelings. Like the whole race, their senses are extremely 
acute, and kept in constant exercise by following game or 
tracking an enemy through the forest. They are keen ob- 
servers of natural objects, and have a considerable knowledge 
of medicinal and poisonous plants, as well as of the habits of 
the animals, birds, reptiles, and insects which inhaloit their 
country. They observe the virtue of hospitality^, and are fond 
of paying visits to their friends at a distance — expecting to be 
treated in the same way. Theft is unusual among them ; and 
so great is their love of liberty that they can seldom be in- 
duced to follow the customs of civilized life. 

Drunkenness drives them often to fearful excesses — most of 
their quarrels springing from that cause. Their dances, though 
in a certain degree gi^aceful, consist chiefly in stamping on 
the ground, balancing on one foot, and staggering in different 
attitudes as if intoxicated — the music being generally monoton- 
ous and dismal. Mr. Brett describes a curious trial of strcnoth 
which the Guaranis exercise at their drinking bouts. Each 
of the antagonists is furnished with a shield made of strips of 
the mauritia, cut into equal lengths, and firmly lashed across a 
frame three or four feet in height, but somewhat less in width, 
and slightly bending downwards. The front of each shield is 
painted in various colours with some peculiar device, while fas- 
tened to the upper edge are elastic stems adorned with coloured 
tassels and streamers. Each champion gi-asps the edges of his 


shield firmly with Loth hands, and, after various feints and 
grimaces to throw his opponent off his guard, a clash is heard 
as one springs forward and his shield strikes that of his an- 
tagonist. The contest is generally one of mere strength, the 
shield being pushed forward by the whole force of the body 
and supported by one knee, while the other leg is extended 
firmly behind. Sometimes one of the players is able to push 
the other off the ground, or, by a dexterous slip and thrust on 
the flank, sends him rolling on the sand; but more frequently 
they remain pressing, panting, and struggling until exhausted, 
when the contest ceases by mutual consent. It is then a point of 
etiquette to shake the shields at each other in a jeering manner 
— with a tremulous motion of their elastic ornaments — and to 
utter a defiant sound like the whinnying of a young horse. 
This is generally followed by a hearty, good-natured laugh, in 
which the bystanders join. Another couple then step forward 
and engage. 

Polygamy exists among most of the tribes, and is the great 
bane of Indian domestic life. Among the Caribs, especially, the 
woman is always in bondage to her male relations. To her 
father, brother, or husband she is a slave, and seldom has any 
power in the disposal of herself Among the Macusis, the 
custom of selling even their near relations prevails. When a 
man dies, his wife and children are at the disposal of his eldest 
surviving brother, who may sell or kill them at pleasure. 

Among their worst features is their proneness to blood re- 
venge, by which, as among other savages, a succession of re- 
taliatory murders is long kept up. They believe also, when 
a person dies, that his death is caused by the agency of an 
evil spirit secured by some enemy ; and, having settled who 
that person is, Avill follow his steps till they find an oppor- 


tunity of assassinating him. Tliey are acquainted with several 
poisonous plants, to which they sometimes resort to destroy 
those whom they consider their enemies. 

Althougli the savage Indian has some idea of the power of 
God, which he deduces from the phenomena of nature — such 
as thunder and Ii2,htnin2^ — and believes in his £»:oodness in 
supplying him with cassava and other provisions, yet his whole 
worship is devoted to propitiate the malignant spirits, to avert 
evil which might otherwise overtake him ; while he has gT:'eat 
faith in the power of the native sorcerers, who practise on his 
credulity. The Guaranis are the most renowned as sorcerers. 
The huts which are set apart for the performance of their 
superstitious rites are regarded with great veneration. They 
believe in various spirits — some of the forests and others of 
the water — as also in the power of charms and potions ; while 
they have numerous legends by which they account for the 
creation of the world, the deluge, and many natural objects — 
some of them apparently derived from the Peruvians and Mexi- 
cans, and other more civilized races. 

The languages spoken by different tribes are very dissimilar, 
many common objects being called by names which have no 
approach to each other in sound. This, however, rather proves 
the length of time they have existed in the country, their iso- 
lation from each other, and the admixture which has from time 
to time taken place, than that they sprang oiiginally from dif- 
ferent stocks. The Guarani appears to be the simplest and 
most easily acquired of any of the languages, and is still spoken 
as far south as tlie La Plata, as well as on the banks of the 
Orinoco. The Arawak language is remarkable for its softness. 
The Carib tongue, somewhat more guttural than the former, is 
spoken in a smart, vivacious manner. " Those who speak it 


in its purity, regard as corrupt the language of those Caribs 
who elsewhere have intermarried with other races/' observes 
Mr. Brett. It may easily be understood how an unwritten 
tongue can, in the course of ages, be thus totally changed, so 
as to bear no resemblance to the original language. Although 
in some there is a wide distinction, there are others in which 
all the Indian dialects seem to ao-ree. In their method of 
numeration, especially, the first four numbers are represented 
by simple words. Although the Indian children learn to read 
and write with facility, they acquire with difficulty the simplest 
rudiments of arithmetic. This arises from their general method 
of numeration — five is represented by one hand ; two hands, 
ten ; then they use the toes, and call twenty by the name of 
" loko," or man. They then proceed by men or scores. Thus 
forty-five is laboriously expressed by a word signifying two 
men and one hand upon it. Some of the Indian words are 
of o'reat leno-th. Anion o- the Arawaks, such words as loko- 
boroJavatoasia (his thought, or remembrance), rahuintiriien- 
rutihanano (eighteen), are continually used. '' Notwithstand- 
ing these," says M. du Ponceau, " the Indian languages are 
rich in words and grammatical forms, and in their complicated 
construction the greatest order, method, and regularity prevail." 


Undoubted proof has been discovered of the cannibal pro- 
pensities of some large tribe now passed away, in mounds 
situated on high ground, and in swamps in the neighbourhood 
of the coast. On opening one of them — upwards of 20 feet in 
height and 130 in diameter at its base — it was found to be 
composed of shells mixed with a large number of broken bones, 
apparently the relics of meals. The shells were chiefly peri- 


winkles ; there were also mussels, the large claws of crabs, the 
bones of vertebrate fishes and land animals, as well as some 
hard slabs of pottery resembling the baking-pans used by the 
vAlder tribes at the present day. Among them, the labourers 
were startled by coming upon human bones, in irregular posi- 
tions and at unequal depths, huddled and jumbled together. 
The skulls, some of which were of great thickness, were in 
fragments. The long bones had all been cracked open, and 
contained sand and dust. Each mass appeared to have been 
deposited, without ceremony, in a common heap. Scarcely 
any were found in natural juxtaposition. Having dug up 
the bones of several adults, the labourers came upon the 
remains of a little child ; one side of its head had been beaten 
in, and other bones broken open. With these human relics 
several stone axes or tomahawks, most of them broken, were 
dug up ; and a sharp-edged stone, which might have been used 
as a knife. The Indians engaged in the work were very 
uneasv at havino- meddled with the human remains, or, as 
they said, ''troubled the bones of the old time people." 

Other mounds of similar appearance were opened, and found 
filled with similar contents. Though some of the long bones 
had been broken up, in several instances they had not been 
severed from each other at the large joints, but merely 
doubled or twisted one upon the other before the}' were cast 

Mr. Brett continues : '' It was impossible to explain by any 
supposition of respectful or decent interment the broken con- 
dition of these relics, the violence with which the}' had been 
treated, or the apparent contumely with which they had been 
cast into the common receptacle for refuse matter. The great 
depth at which many of these remains were found, seemed a 


convincing proof that they had not been deposited after the 
completion of the shell heap, but during its accumulation. 
An old Indian with whom I discussed the matter expressed 
the opinion of his people very plainly : ' That/ said he, ' is 
the way in which the nations who used to eat men always 
broke open the bones to get out the man^ow ; so our fathers 
have told us.' " The Caribs anxiously stated that they knew 
nothing whatever about the mound, and that their fathers had 
never lived in its neighbourhood. Two other mounds were 
afterwards discovered; one 250 feet in length and 90 feet in 
width, and about the same height as the former, and similarly 
situated. Among the remains were the bones of a man who 
must have been of laro'e stature and of immense streno-th. His 
skull, which was very thick and hard, was found to have been 
broken in twenty-seven pieces, which all fitted exactly ; but 
when built up, a hole still remained in the right side near the 
crown, where it would seem the fatal blow — by a pointed stone 
tomahawk — had been given. Some of the mounds appeared to 
be of later formation, and in them fraginents of pottery were 
found, though in the older ones none were discovered. While 
searching over these fragments, the first personal ornaments 
yet found were discovered, — two small plates of silver with 
holes bored in them, by which they must have been suspended 
from the ears. One had lost a corner ; but they had origin- 
ally been cut or broken to the same size and form, and were 
evidently a pair. Between them lay a skull, which had been 
placed by itself, and was the first found unbroken. The orna- 
ments, from their position, seemed to have been detached from 
the head when deposited there. A few feet from that relic 
lay the limbs of a female, of slight and delicate form. They 
were unbroken, and much slighter than any others found 


there. Between the plates was the fragment uf a piece of 
cotton cord which had attached one of the platis to the ear. 

While everything about the relics from the previous mounds 
indicated the savage condition of the people who formed them, 
these little silver trinkets, though rude, proved feelings ap- 
proaching women in a state of civilization. They, with the 
unbroken condition and comparative soundness of the bones 
found near them, bring us nearer oui* own times. As the state 
of the remains differed from those of the others, so probably 
did the period and circumstances of the poor girl's fate ; but 
there is a mystery about it which cannot now be explained. 
After the mound had been opened, the Indian congregation, 
neatly dressed, went in procession, with their pastor and teacher, 
from the chapel to the mound, and collecting round and over 
it, the various tribes joined in singing the glorious hymn, — 

" Jesus shall reign where'er the sun 
Doth his successive journey run ! " 

while the lamb, the dove, and other Christian emblems on the 
banners borne by the school children, waved over the yawn- 
ing cavity which had disclosed such relics of barbarous days, 
indicated a blessed change in the life of that long neglected 
race. May it be extended over the whole continent ! 

vegetable' productions. 

The trees and animals of Guiana afford a more satisfactory 
subject for contemplation than the degraded inhabitants. 
Among them, sin has not entered. They remain in all their 
perfection and beauty, as they first appeared fresh from the 
hands of the Creator. A large number are so similar to those 
found in the Valley of the Amazon, that they need no 
separate description. In the upper waters of its streams the 



magnificent Victoria Regia, so long unknown to the eyes of 
civilized man, was discovered by Scliombergli not forty years 


Here, too, grows the spotted cor3^anthes, of the order of the 
Orchideye — Coryanthes maculata — hanging from the branches 
of trees, and suspending in the air the singular lips of its 


flowers, like fairy buckets, as if for the use of the birds and 
insects that inhabit the surroundino- foliao-e. In the wliole 
vegetable kingdom a more singular genus than this does not 
exist, nor one whose flowers are less like flowers to the eye 
of the ordinary observer. The sepals are of the most delicate 
texture. When young they spread evenly round the centre, 


but after a few hours they collapse and assume the appearance 
of a bat's wing half closed. The lip is furnished near its base 
with a yellow cup, over which hang two horns constantly 
distilling water into it, and in such abundance as to fill it 
several times. This cup communicates by a narrow channel, 
formed of the inflated margin of the lip, with the upper end 
of the latter ; and this also has a capacious vessel, very much 
like an old helmet, into which the licjuid that the cup cannot 
contain runs over. 

The cockarito-palm — as it is familiarly called here — grows to 
the height of fifty feet, and produces the most^delicate cabbage 
of the palm species. It is enclosed in a husk in the very 
heart of the tree, at its summit. This husk is peeled off in 
strata until the white cabbage appears in long thin flakes — 
in taste like the kernel of a nut. The inner part is often used 
as a salad, while the outer is boiled, and considered superior 
to the European cabbage. Within such cabbages as are in a 
state of decay, a maggot is found — the larva of a black beetle 
(urculio), which, growing to the length of four inches, and as 
thick as a man's thumb, is called " grogTO." This creature, 
disgusting as it is in appearance, when dressed is considered 
a great delicacy — partaking of the flavour of all the spices of 
the East. 

A curious shrub — if it can be so called — known as the 
troolies, consists of large leaves twenty feet long and two 
broad, of a stron^c texture, and straiuht fibres m-ow^UiX from a 
small fibrous root ; the leaves risino* from the ends of the eiiiht 
or ten stems wdiich it puts forth. These leaves are employed 
chiefly for covering the roofs of buildings. 

From the silk-cotton tree, which grows to tlie height of one 
hundred feet, and is twelve or fourteen in diameter, the Indians 


form their largest canoes. The locust-tree grows to the 
height of seventy feet, and is often nine feet in diameter. The 
branches, which only begin to spread in the higher part of 
the tree, are covered with leaves about three inches in length, 
and of an oval shape and dark gi^een colour. The blossoms, of 
the papilionaceous or buttei'fly form, produce a flat pod, shaped 
like the husk of a broad bean, about four inches long, and of 
a dark brown colour. When ripe, each pod contains three 
beans of the same colour, of a farinaceous consistency, and 
with a pleasant sweetness. 

The silk-grass shrub produces a leaf, the inner substance of 
which consists of a number of small strong white fibres run- 
ning longitudinally. These the Indians extract by means of 
a small loop of cord, through which the leaf is drawn with a 
jerking motion. They are then ready for drying and twist- 
ing into cord. They make bow-strings of gTcat elasticity and 



HE centre of Brazil is occupied by a high table- 
land, crossed by a series of serras, mostly running 
north and south. The most eastern, — the Serra de 
Espinha^o, — rises about one hundred miles from the coast, and 
the table-land extends from it westward for upwards of six 
himdred miles. Numerous peaks besides the serras rise 
amidst it, few of them reaching a greater elevation than one 
thousand feet above its surface. It is mostly clothed witli 
coarse grass and bushes, and single-standing trees, which in 
summer shed their leaves, when, the grass being burned up 
by the sun, the region has a desert and barren appearance. 
Here and there the plain as well as the hills are covered with 
sand, and at others with bare rocks. 

Still more desert regions exist, which may vie with those 
of Africa in barrenness. Ahnost in the very centre of the 
continent is a sandy desert, called the Campos dos Paricis. 
Here the surface is formed by long-backed ridges of sandy 
hills parallel to one another. So loose is the soil, that even 
the patient mule with a burden on his back can hardly make 
his way across it. 


Between the western end of this table-land and the Andes 
of Bolivia is a wide plain from one thousand to fifteen hundred 
feet in heio-ht, with here and there a few hills risino* above 
it. It is mostly covered by dense forests ; but occasionally 
there are barren districts, in which only a stunted A^egetation 
appears. This plain is traversed by several tributaries of the 
gi'eat River Madeira, which falls into the Amazon. In this 
wide-extending table-land, and among the serras amidst it, 
rise innumerable streams, which flow into the Amazon on the 
north and the La Plata on the south — many of them, as they 
plunge into the plain, forming foaming torrents and magni- 
ficent cataracts. The veo'etation of these hio-hlands ofters a 
gTeat contrast to the dense forest of the gTeat valley and the 

The cerrados, as they are called, or scrub — consisting chiefly 
of acacias and leo-uminosse — reach to the heio;ht of ten or 
twenty feet. Numerous other shi'ubs and smaller plants, 
many of which are medicinal, cover the gTound, and send 
forth a delicious perfume into the pure air. The tussock, in 
thick clumps, is also seen growing in various directions ; in- 
deed, altogether, the Campo is far more completely clothed than 
either the Llanos or Pampas. 

Among these mountains are the celebrated diamond-mines 
of Brazil. Some of the mines are reached by shafts of great 
depth, sunk into the earth, whence galleries are run along the 
veins, somewhat in the mode of gold-mines. Gold is also 
obtained, by washing in the streams. The diamonds are ])ro- 
cured in the same manner. The strictest watch is kept over 
the slaves employed in searching for diamonds, to prevent 
them from secreting the precious stones, and for this purpose 
numerous overseers are required. 


The operations are simple. The loose stones at the bottom 
3f the stream are first raked up into baskets, and then care- ] 

^ully washed, under the inspection of the overseers. ! 

In one district it is calculated that, from 1730 to 1830, i 

iiamonds worth upwards of three millions sterling were col- I 

ected ; and in that of Abaete, in 1791, a diamond weighing 
1384 carats — the largest in the world — was discovered. 

Possibly, however, if the labour which is bestowed on 
nining were employed in cultivating the ground, it would be 
productive of greater profit to the country. ] 

flurt Jyifth. 




HE vast territory south of the Brazils is watered by 
a wide-extending branch-work of mighty streams, 
having as their main trunk the Rio de la Plata at 
their southern end. To the east is the River Uruguay, run- 
ning almost parallel with the Atlantic coast. Close to its 
mouth the far more important Parana, rising in the moun- 
tains of the Brazils, near the sources of the Tocantins, falls 
into the La Plata. While the Tocantins flows north till it 
reaches the Amazon, the Parana takes a more or less southerly 
course for many hundreds of miles, till it turns due west for 
nearly two hundred, and then once more runs south and east 
till it enters the main trunk. At its extreme western point 
it is joined by the River Paraguay, which, from its source in 
the diamond district of the Brazils, has an almost southerly 
course, receiving on its way numerous large tributaries. One 


of the most important of these is the Veimejo, whicli, rising 
in the Andes, near the source of the Amazon, affords a water 
communication between Bolivia across the whole continent 
to the Atlantic. These rivers form the boundaries of several 

Directly south of the Brazils, between Parana on the east 
and Paraguay on the west, is the republic of Paraguay, lately 
ruled over by the two savage dictators, Francia and Lopez. 
It is a thickly -wooded region, with immerous streams running- 
through it, and a lofty range — the Cordillera de Caaguazu — 
at the northern end. The inhabitants are mostly a mixed race 
of Spaniards and Indians. To the west of the Paraguay riv^er 
is a wide-extended level region, bounded on the north by 
Bolivia, and interspersed with lakes and marshes known as 
the Gran Chaco, and inhabited by tribes of still savage 

The southern boundary of Paraguay is the River Parana, 
where it runs east and west. To the south of it is the state 
of Corrientes, a woody but level region between the two 
rivers, Uruguay and Parana. Further south is the state of 
Entre Rios ; while, to the west, are a collection of confederated 
towns and villages scattered widely over the Pampas, known 
as part of the Argentine Confederation ; to which the two last- 
mentioned, as well as Buenos Ayres, to the south of the La 
Plata, belong. 

East of the Uruguay, between it and the Atlantic, is the 
republic of Uruguay. Through the southern portion of the 
Ai'gentine Republic flow the rivers Colorado, Negro, and 
Chupat. On the banks of the latter a Welsh colony has 
been established ; wdiile in various parts of the repubhc numer- 
ous other settlements have been formed by Europeans. The 

44 B 


level Pampas — inhabited by those bold and daring riders, the 
Ganchos, and still wilder tribes of Indians — extending to the 
base of the Andes, from its peculiar and interesting character 
demands a separate description. 


The pampero, dreaded on shore as well as at sea, blows 
with tremendous force across this region. 

There is not a cloud in the sky. The night may be per- 
fectly calm. Mosquitoes in vast numbers are busy with their 
sharp stings. Suddenly a rustling in the woods may be heard 
afar off. The noise increases into a dull roar. Clouds appear 
above the horizon. Still all is calm. The mosquitoes vanish. 
The dogs are howling in anticipation of danger. As if by 
magic, dark masses of clouds cover the heavens like a curtain. 
They are rent asunder, thunder roars, lightning flashes, and 
the wind, like an army of wild beasts, rushes on. Down 
comes the rain in torrents, beating furiously against the 
liapless traveller exposed to its fury, or on the deck of the 
ship. Flash succeeds flash ; the lightning in forked streaks 
darting through the air. In an hour, perhaps, the heaviest 
part of the storm may be over, but still the wind blows furi- 
ously ; till at length it ceases, the clouds disappear, and the 
air becomes delightfully fresh and cool. 

The craft on the rivers are, however, often caught in 
these pamperos, and driven into the bush, or upset, when the 
swift current carries down the best of swimmers to a watery 

Houses, also, are frequently unroofed, orange groves stripped 
of their golden fruit, and trees uprooted and hurled to the 




When the Spaniards first arrived in that sea-like river, with 
shallow shores — the mighty Parana, to which Sebastian Cabot 
afterwards gave the name of La Plata — they encountered a 
fierce tribe (the Charranas) inhabiting its shores. The natives 
endeavoured to repel the invaders by a system of warfare 
which the latter, though they describe it as of the most 
treacherous character, were not slow to imitate. Step by 
step, however, the Spaniards fought their way; though some- 
times defeated and compelled to retreat, they again returned, 
establishing forts and towns on the banks of the river, till 
they finally obtained a firm footing in the land. They hesi- 
tated at no act, however atrocious, to secure their conquests 
by the destruction of their foes. 

On one occasion being warned that a tribe — the Guay- 
caruses — with whom the}^ had formed a treaty of peace, had 
laid a plot to cut them oft', they formed a counterplot, far 
surpassing in treachery that of the savages. The Spanish 
Lieutenant-Governor, pretending that he had been smitten 
with the charms of the daughter of their principal cacique, 
oftered her his hand in marriage. The proposal was accepted 
by the delighted Indians, who, with their chiefs and a large 
number of people, were invited into the town to attend the 
ceremony. Meantime soldiers were concealed in the houses 
to which the chiefs were conducted, and orders were given to 
supply them amply with intoxicating liquors. While they 
were thus deprived of their senses, soldiers were sent across 
the river to destroy the remainder of the tribe who had not 
come to the weddinc:. At a fjiven sicrnal the native villac^e 


was attacked, and every inhabitant slaughtered ; while the 
hosts of those in the town killed more than three hundred of 
their helpless guests. 

The invaders were creating a fearful heritage for their 
descendants by intermarrying with the native women. From 
these marriages have sprung the race which now occupies, in 
vast numbers, a large portion of that magnificent territory, 
and who, by their low moral condition, their ignorance, and 
instability of character, have been the chief cause of the 
melancholy wars which have so long saturated its plains 
with blood. The Jesuits, by the missions they formed in 
various parts of the country, introduced a superficial civiliza- 
tion among some of the tribes ; but their system failing, as it 
ever has done, to raise the moral character of the people, and 
fit them for independent thought and self-government, has left 
them as ignorant and superstitious, and scarcely less savage, 
than before. Thus they have become the facile tools of every 
leader who, by greater audacity, craft, or determination, has 
risen to authority among them. 


The Guaranis were the principal nation dwelling on the 
eastern portion of South America. They were probably the 
same race as the Quichuas, who inhabited the western shores, 
and a large portion of the Andes, under the rule of the Incas. 
The two languages are still spoken in various parts of the 
country. The Guaranis were superior in civilization to 
numerous other intervening and more isolated tribes, who had 
sunk by degi^ees into gi'eater barbarism. Like the Quichuas, 
they were agriculturalists — cultivating mandioca, maize, cala- 
bashes, and potatoes. They fed on honey and wild fruit ; 


and hunted birds, monkeys, and other animals, and caught 
fish with their bows and an'ows. They had also canoes ; 
and had a better established system of government than 
their neighbours. Yet they were among the first to bow 
their necks to the yoke of their invaders ; while other tribes, 
who, though less numerous, fiercely opposed the Spaniards, 
were swept away from the face of the earth. 

The descendants of the Guaranis exist — some in a semi- 
civilized condition, others as barbarous as of yore — in several 
parts of the continent ; but a large portion became amalga- 
mated with the invaders, and their language is still spoken 
throughout Paraguay and the neighbouring provinces by the 
mixed race who have descended from them. The Charruas 
— the first tribe with whom the Spaniards came in contact — 
were barbarous in the extreme. Their arms were lances and 
arrows, and they were noted for their expertness in tracking 
their enemies. They could bear an almost incredible amount 
of fatigue, and could subsist for several days without food or 
water. They wore their hair long, — the women allowing 
theirs to flow down the back, while the young men gathered 
up their locks in bunches, and ornamented them with white 
feathers. They ate every description of food, even to snakes 
and insects, and were especially fond of the parasites of the 
human body. They tattooed theu' faces and limbs ; and soon 
after a boy was born a hole was made in his lower lip, when 
a piece of wood was introduced like a nail, the head being in 
his mouth, while another stick was fastened to it outside. 

They lived in tree-formed huts, which they entered on all- 
fours ; and wore no clothes, except in cold weather, when they 
covered the chest with a piece of skin. They never washed, 
huddling together in their dirty toldas or huts. They sub- 


sisted entirely on the produce of the chase ; polygamy was 
general ; their children were not taught to obey their parents, 
while they appear to have been destitute of all family affec- 
tion. Their beverage, called chicha — a name common through- 
out South America — was prepared from honey and water. 
Although, during lifetime, relations exhibited no afiection to- 
wards each other, at the death of 'one of them the survivors 
underwent many cruel funeral ceremonies. They ultimately 
assisted the Spaniards in the extermination of several of the 
neighbouring tribes, but were eventually either destroyed, or 
brought completely under subjection. 


The Querandis or Pehuelches — the principal tribe of the 
Pampas Indians — were, from the first, the chief opponents of 
the Spaniards in Buenos Ayres. They stole their cattle, made 
captives of their wives and children, and cut off the soldiers 
and estancieros, or cattle-farmers, on numerous occasions. They 
were vain, haughty, and daring. Unlike the Charruas, they 
paid great attention to their dress and appearance, neither 
painting nor cutting their hair. The men wore their locks 
turned up and secured at the top of the head; while the women 
divided theirs in the centre, wearing them on each side in a 
large clump, fastened by a ribbon, the ends falling down ovei- 
each ear nearly to the waist. They wore combs, and were in 
every respect cleanly. The women also wore necklaces, with 
hanging ornaments. Their costume was a poncho on festive 
occasions, highly ornamented ; while they wore leather boots. 
Although, when galloping across the Pampas, they went totally 
naked, they carried their clothes with them — either to put 
on during cold weather, or to appear in state when meeting 



Europeans. Their weapons of war were lances and the for- 
midable bolas, — by means of which, used as slings, they could 
send stones to a great distance, — and combustible materials, 
with which they set fire to the Spanish houses. Their huts 
were composed of upright poles, four or five feet in height, and 


as many apart, on which skins of large animals — such as the 
huanacus or ostrich — were fastened, on the side from whence 
the cold winds blew. These huts formed long streets ; but 
were used only during cold or rainy weather, as in fine weather 
they slept on the uncovered ground. 


No sooner did the horses introduced by the Spaniards, 
escaping into the wilds, increase and multiply, than the 
Indians learned to bestride them, and soon exhibited an un- 
common aptitude in their management. Armed \Yith their 
long lances, they would charge the Spanish troops, — each man 
lying down at his horse's side, though going at full gallop, 
and jumping up, turning roimd, or dropping down again, with 
wonderful rapidity. Though even the Gauchos give their 
horses some preliminary training, the Pampas Indian catches 
the animal with the lasso, throws it down, forces a wooden 
bit, covered with a piece of hide, into its mouth, from which 
bit there is a leathern cord to bind round its lower lip, and 
gallops off. 

They are divided into many tribes, who, even a few years 
ago, made frequent incursions into the provinces of Buenos 
Ayres, Cordova, and others, and carried off large flocks of 
cattle — and many Argentines, as captives. They were pursued 
to the River Colorado, however, when part of the stolen cattle 
was recovered, and several captives liberated. They are under 
the belief that when death does not occur, in consequence of 
violence, it is owing to sorcery. 


Another tribe or nation must be mentioned — the Payaguas, 
who inhabited the territory of Paraguay, and from whom the 
district has taken its name. They used canoes, and many of 
their warlike expeditions were carried on down the river by 
water. The women had to perform all the hard work, and 
were never allowed to eat meat. The boys and girls wore no 
clothes, but the young men painted their bodies in a variety 
of patterns. 


The Tupis, another large tribe, appear either to have ex- 
tended to the Amazon, or to have been driven there from the 
south, as their language is now spoken by the tribes on its 

The Toromonos were the chief tribe inhabiting the territory 
of Bolivia to the north of the Gran Chaco. They lived in 
houses, each man building one for himself. The men wore no 
clothes, but ornamented their heads with a crown formed of 
feathers ; whilst the women wore a small cotton garment, only 
partially covering the person. They painted theii' faces, and 
wore rings in their noses and lips. Many of their customs were 
cruel and barbarous in the extreme, though they appear to 
have cultivated the ground, and used ploughs and wooden im- 
plements of agriculture. They employed bows and arrows in 
battle, as also for fishing and killing game. They also showed 
skill in building canoes. 


Even at the present day, as was the case in the time of the 
Incas, the people of one of the tribes were distinguished for 
their medical knowledge, and sent out travelling apothecaries, 
who collected herbs, — traversing the whole of the continent. 
Markliam describes meeting with a paity of them emerging 
from the forest, — cadaverous, miserable-looking men, almost 
worn to death by fatigue and hardship. They wore their 
long hair plaited and secured behind in the form of a 
queue. They came from the district of Yungas, and are 
called Yunguenos, or Cherrihuanos. Formerly tliey went on 
foot, but they now ride asses, on which they carry the herbs 
and nuts, reputed efficacious for the cure of sickness ; as well 
as bundles of chinchona, coca leaf, incense, and other articles. 


The Bolivian Indians were subdued only in 1843. Each 
village or toldera of these tribes is governed by a cacique, 
generally possessing hereditary rank ; though, as in other cases, 
much depends upon his physical powers and wealth. A num- 
ber of wild tribes still roam over the country between the 
western Argentine states and the Andes. There they live 
free and independent, though barbarous. When they venture 
into the neighbourhood of large towns, they soon degenerate 
into thieves and dmnkards. Here they come to carry on a 
trade in furs and panther skins, or to collect meat at the 
saladeros, which they dry and carry oft' with them. They 
make money by selling Indian ornaments, and foraging for the 
settlers' cattle ; or by thieving, which they look upon as an 
orthodox mode of gaining a livelihood. 


Several tribes inliabited the Gran Chaco. The principal 
one — the least sunk in barbarism — were the Guanas. They 
lived in towns arranged in some symmetrical order, composed of 
palm-trees. Each house formed an enclosed square composed 
of posts and arches. To these Avere fixed horizontal beams, the 
whole covered with mud and straw. There was but one door, 
and the structure was sufficiently large to contain a dozen 
families. They had bed-places on square frames, covered over 
with boards and straw and skins, while their houses were kept 
scrupulously clean. 

They were noted for their hospitality, and subsisted chiefly 
by agriculture. They cut oft" the hair in the middle of the 
forehead ; some shaved sometimes the front half of the head, 
and others half-moons over the ears. Though the marriage 
ceremony was simple in the extreme, a contract as to various 


poinrts was invariably entered into. The men greatly exceeded 
the women in number, in consequence of the unnatural custom 
prevailing among them of putting to death the female children. 
Old women acted the part of doctors. 

Their dead were buried outside the doors of their houses, 
and a considerable time was spent in bewailing their loss. 
Though they fought bravely with bows and arrows, as well as 
with spears or clubs, they were of a peaceable disposition, and 
never made war except in self-defence. 

The great ambition of a Chaco Indian is to possess a horse, 
saddle, and gun. Once mounted, he soon becomes a bold 

Their mode of crossing a river is curious. As their canoes 
cannot carry their animals over, they first drive the horse into 
the river up to his shoulders in the water, then launch the 
canoe — after tying the animal's head to the top of the gun- 
wale — with the children and luggage on board. As the horse's 
feet are off the ground, he cannot injure the canoe. When 
travelling, however, without canoes, they form small rafts, into 
which they put their children ; and lance in hand, and with 
bow and quiver at their backs, they bestride their steeds and 
tow them across, — a curious spectacle to witness. 

The children go perfectly naked ; indeed, so do the people 
generally, except those who come into the settled districts. 
The women wear their masses of black hair almost covering 
their heads and shoulders. They dress in a short skirt, with 
a scarf over the shoulders. ''The old women," observed 
Captain Kennedy, "are terrible to behold, they having all the 
hard work to do. They even paddle the canoes, while the 
men and young women sit looking on." 

Their villages consist of rows of wretched hovels. They 



appear to have no superstitious ideas, but they believe in an 
evil spirit, against whom they try to guard by charms and 

til W- 






incantations. They are under a chief cacique ; and after the 
other chiefs in conclave have determined on war, or rather, on 


a plundering expedition, and it is concluded, they separate 
into their original tribes, each taking opposite directions with 
their share of the plunder, to escape the risk of being captui-ed. 
A considerable portion of the almost unexplored district — the 
Gran Chaco — which they inhabit is a dreary waste of lagoons 
and marshes, traversed by rapid, muddy, and tortuous rivers. 


The missions established by the Jesuits show the impotence 
of their system for the civilization of the wild man. The ter- 
ritory where they carried on their chief labours exists on the 
eastern bank of the Parana, to the north of Uruguay and 
Corrientes, bordering on the Brazilian territory. After three 
hundred years of labour, they left these savages utterly incap- 
able of self-government. 

" The Indian mind, indeed," observes Captain Page — an 
American — " laying aside its atrocities, has never emerged 
from the intellectual development of childhood. These savages 
showed the imitative faculties of the animal. When taught, 
they delved and ploughed, planted cotton and sugar-cane, and 
executed work in carpentry and wove fabrics, and performed 
other manual operations ; yet their reason and intelligence has 
not advanced, even pari passu in any degree with the progress 
of European civilization ; nor have the natures of their female 
population become modified with the slightest trait of the 
humanities and tendernesses which are the brio-htest attributes 
of the women of the present century." " Among the Jesuit 
missions in the Gran Chaco," observes another writer, " are 
found no remainino^ evidence of better knowledofe, than that 
the Indians now prefer horse-flesh to any other kind of 

.379) 45 


The same writer gives us the derivation of the names of 
several of the rivers : — Parana,resembling the sea ; Paraguay, 
from the Payaguas, a tribe of Indians who were met with by 
the discoverers navigating the river ; and Uruguay, from a 
bird — the uru — which is found on the banks of that stream. 


With regard to the two prevailing Indian languages spoken 
in the southern part of the continent, it is remarkable that 
the Quichua, the language of the Peruvians, is still used by the 
natives found on the banks of the River Salado, in the province 
of Santiago del Estero, though far distant from the Andes, in 
the centre of the Argentine territory ; while it is not in use in 
the intermediate provinces. This proves, either the distance to 
which the Incas extended their conquests, or perhaps the fact 
that the natives of Santiago are descendants of a Peruvian 
colony. The Guarani language is still spoken in Entre Rios 
and Corrientes, while in the Republic of Paraguay it is more 
generally used than the Spanish ; indeed, paragraphs printed 
in it appear in one of the papers published in that province. 
The Jesuits compiled a number of grammatical and other 
works in the Guarani, for the purpose of teaching the novi- 
tiates in theii^ establishments at Paraguay. 

The Guarani nation occupied the whole sea-coast, from 
Uruguay northwards through Brazil, Cayenne, and even into 




FTER entering the Parana, the voyager sails for 
hundreds of miles up the mighty stream between 
lofty clay -banks of a red colour ; sometimes ab- 
solutely perpendicular, and at others consisting of broken 
masses covered with cacti and mimosa-trees. Here and there 
may be seen, projecting from the cliffs, huge skeletons of the 
toxodon, megatherium, mylodon, and other monsters which 
once in countless numbers inhabited the plains of South 
America. Now the river expands into lake -like proportions, 
its surface dotted with numerous low and wooded islands. At 
intervals, towns, villages, or forts may be seen on the summits 
of the cliffs, sixty feet above the water. Generally the country 
on the western side is a level, treeless plain ; but as the river 
is ascended woods appear, which gradually become thicker, pre- 
senting, as further progress is made, more and more a tropical 

As Paraguay is approached, low flat banks appear, which 


for many a long league are marshy and impassable. It is 
the district of the Esteros, as these flooded lands are called. 
Beyond them, in the wet season, immense shallow lakes are 
formed ; but when they are dried up in the hot weather, a gray 
dusty soil, full of cracks, and covered with wiry grass and 
low shrubs, is left. Nothing can be more dreary than the 
appearance of the country when the river is high ; the water 
extending far and wide beyond its crumbling banks, with 
rows of melancholy palms standing as landmarks above the 
flood. These districts are, however, valuable for grazing 
purposes ; and before the war were covered by vast herds of 
cattle, now swept away. Above the Tebiquari the country is 
higher and more diversified. Vast woods, increasing in breadth 
and density, appear, with ranges of distant hills beyond them. 


It is remarkable that the Guarani language, among the 
peasantry, has almost superseded that of their Spanish in- 

The natives, with their Indian blood, have inherited small 
hands and feet, and coarse black hair. The women when 
young, with their long tresses of jetty blackness, are often 
pretty ; and some, probably descended from Biscayans, are 
noted for their remarkable fairness. Rubias, they are termed, 
with blue eyes and auburn hair. The men wear dresses 
similar to that of the Gauchos. That of the women is pictur- 
esque : a long cotton chemise cut low at the neck, with a deep 
border of embroidery ; loose lace sleeves ; and a skirt of 
muslin, or silk, fastened round the waist by a broad sash. 
Very few wear shoes. Their hair is sometimes arranged in 
two long plaits, or formed in a wreath round the head, or rolled 


up at the back and fastened by a large comb. They also 
wear massive gold chains round the neck, large ear-rings, and 
numerous rings. Their great amusement, next to smoking, is 
sipping the yerba or native tea. 

'' Yerba," says Masterman, '' is the dried and powdered leaf 
Ilex Paraguayensis, — a tree in size and foliage resembling the 
orange, with small white, clustered flowers. It belongs to 
the holly family, but contains a bitter principle similar to, if 
not identical with, theine, or the alkaloid found in tea and 

It is taken in a somewhat singular way. The mate, a gourd 
stained black, holding three or four ounces of water, is nearly 
filled with the coarsely-powdered yerba. The bombilla, a 
silver tube with a bulbous end pierced full of fine holes, is 
then inserted. The gourd is filled with boiling water, and the 
infusion is immediately sucked through the tube, scalding hot. 

The bombilla is for the purpose of straining the infusion— 
which is of a greenish-brown — as the powder would otherwise 
get into the mouth. Like tea, it is slightly stimulating and 

The natives spin the indigenous cotton of the country, and 
weave it in a curious way, producing the most intricate lace 
and needlework. The thread they manufacture is remark- 
ably fine and strong. Weavers travel about the country 
carrying their simple looms on their shoulders, and may be 
seen under an orange-tree by the roadside, the warp-roller 
suspended from a bough and balanced beneath by stones, the 
workman seated on a horse's skull, and producing a fabric as 
beautiful as it is durable. 

They also manufacture woollen ponchos and saddle-cloths, 
in patterns of black and white, or of a fine blue obtained from 


the native indigo. They manufacture cigars ; and cultivate 
the sugar-cane in a rude manner, producing from its root a vile 
beverage called cana, most injurious to the health. 


In the Cordillera, where Masterman describes the scenery 
as most beautiful, the cacti grow, bristling with spines, and 
loaded with delicate white flowers ; as also the wild pine- 
apple, which covers the gTound, — its serrated leaves, of a 
bright scarlet in the centre, and barred, all straggling from 
the root. Its fibre is used by the natives for making fishing- 
nets and lines, and a coarse strong cloth. Paper also has 
been manufactured from it ; and as it can be produced in 
great quantities, it may become of much commercial import- 

Game abounds throughout the territory. Herds of deer roam 
in the open glades ; droves of pigs are found in the forest some- 
what similar to those of England ; and a bird, the yfiambu 
guazii, as large as a pheasant ; while quails are seen in flocks 
in the esteros, — with snipe, w^ld pigeons, and other birds. 

High up the River Parana is found the magnificent water- 
fall. El Salto de Guira, rivalling in splendour Niagara itself 
Other fine waterfalls are found on different rivers. 

Here, too, the ant-eater reaches an enormous size. The capy- 
bara is also found. It is obliged to triturate its food — gTass, 
and herbaceous plants — for a long time, in consequence of the 
contracted size of the esophagus, which will hardly admit a 
goose-quill, although the animal is sometimes so large that 
it weighs more than two hundred pounds. Its destiny 
seems to be to feed jaguars, for they live principally on the 


The chinchilla, another rodent, is very common in the fields 
and esteros. There is a large heron, called in Guarani the 
tuyuaju — that is, one which walks in the mud — nearly as tall 
as a man, with a bill more than a foot in length. The puma 
ranges throughout the country, as he does much further south ; 
while the jaguar also appears amid the forests and plains. 


Among the insects, Masterman describes a gregarious spider 
which, when full-grown, has a black body half an inch in 
length — with a row of bright red spots on the side of the ab- 
domen — four eyes, remarkably strong mandibles, and stout 
hairless legs an inch in length. They construct in concert 
huge webs, generally between two trees, ten or twelve feet from 
the ground. In a garden, among trees forty feet apart, these 
spiders had extended two long cables, as thick as pack-thread, 
to form the margin of each web, the lower being only four 
feet from the ground ; and between them was a light, loose 
network perfectly divided into webs, each presenting about 
two square feet of surface. Each of these sub-webs was 
occupied by a spider from sunset to a little before sunrise. 
Six nets contained two thousand of the creatures. They 
often change their location ; and a double stream was always 
passing along the cables, apparently strengthening them as 
they came and went. 

Sometimes three or four would be lying in wait within a 
few inches of each other, the one crawling over or under the 
other's body without hesitation. Soon after sunrise they left 
their webs, and, retreating to the shade, formed two or three 
large masses as big as a hat under the thick foliage of a jessa- 
rnine-tree. There they remained motionless till sunset, when 


the black lump crumbled to pieces. The process was a curi- 
ous sight to witness. Then, in a leisurely way, the spiders 
scattered themselves to their aerial fishing. The air swarmed 
with mosquitoes, which were caught in gxeat numbers. Larger 
flies, and especially moths, were at once pounced upon and 
devoured ; a dozen often feeding amicably on the body of the 
same insect, consuming not only the juices, but the abdomen. 
When a part of the web was broken, the nearest spider 
gathered up the loose threads, rolled them into a ball, and ate 
it. The gTeat difficulty seemed to be how they could convey 
the first thread, often sixty or seventy feet long, from one tree 
to the other. This was done by a spider from a tree to wind- 
ward forming a long line, which blew out and caught in the 
leaves of a neighbouring tree to leeward. This it tightened, 
and then crossed hastily backwards and forwards on the line, 
adding to its thickness on each journey, till it was strong 
enough to support a web. The spiders thus employed were 
apparently all young, for as they increased in age the ferocity 
of the race appeared. There was then a sanguinary battle, 
— the few survivors, probably females, devouring some of the 
slain to provide for a future brood, and then dying also. 


Mr. Masterman makes some interesting remarks on the 
chigo, or sand-flea (Pulex penetrans). It is very minute, not 
exceeding one twenty-fifth of an inch in length. It burrows 
between the cuticle and true skin, and there lays its eggs — 
producing a swelling containing a bluish white sac, about the 
tenth of an inch in diameter, filled with them. This sac is 
the developed abdomen of the flea. It preserves its vitality 
after the death of the rest of the parent ; and when that event 



takes place, the eggs are mere germs, which would ordinarily 
perish at the same time. 

Its cutting apparatus consists of two scimitar-shaped lancets, 
placed in a common sheath, with which it slices out a place 
beneath the skin, large enough to bury it entirely, anchors it- 
self firmly with its hooked pro- 
boscis, and in a day or two dies. 
The abdominal section, how- 
ever, still lives, absorbing nutri- 
tive material through its walls, 
and growing rapidly at the 
expense of the serum poured 
out by the irritated skin into 
which it is inserted. It increases 
in thickness as well as in 
diameter, and the eggs which 
now fill it grow also, — when 
mature, each being half as large 
as a perfect flea. Thus it is 
seen why the sand-flea cannot 
deposit its eggs as do the rest of the family. Probably it 
has no more food than it carries away within itself on quitting 
the egg, and therefore cannot provide the material for its 
greater development. Not only men and children, but dogs, 
suffer greatly from them — the latter almost tearing their feet 
to pieces in biting them out, and often getting them in their 
lips and outer nostrils, from which they cannot dislodge them. 



Among the many fine fish in the river is the dorado, — 
something like a trout in colour, but deeper ; in shape, more 


resembling the snapper. The natives catch it with unbaited 
hooks. The fisherman selects a point of rock jutting over 
the stream, and having secured three polished hooks, back to 
back, attached to a line, throws it as far from him as possible 
into the water, giving it several strong jerks to make it look 
like small fry darting about. The dorado makes a dash at 
them, and gets hooked — generally through the back. 




lESTWARD of the Parana and the Province of 
Buenos Ayres stretches out the wide -extended 
and almost level plain of the Pampas, reaching to 
the base of the Andes. It is a wild, savage region, sprinkled 
over here and there with salt lakes and marshes, in which a 
few streams, traversing it at considerable distances apart, lose 

The tracks acrpss it are marked by the whitened skeletons 
of the horses and bullocks which have succumbed to the 
fatigaies of the joui-ney, or the want of water, and have been 
picked clean by the carranchas, and others of the vulture 
tribe, or by the active teeth of the voracious little armadillos, 
which clear away the refuse of the feast left by their feathered 
companions. Here and there forts or post-houses are found, 
garrisoned by the wild Gauchos — their ap|>earance in keeping 
with the scenery. 

The huts are generally built of the stalks of huge 
thistles, and are sometimes mere enclosures, destitute of roofs. 
They are surrounded by stockades, in many instances formed 
of thick hedges of cacti, well calculated to resist an attack 


from the still savage Indians who roam throughout the region 
in search of plunder. 

It is on these plains that the little bizcacha in vast num- 
bers form their burrows ; by the side of which, dm-ing the 
day, their small friends the owls of the Pampas take up their 
posts, and watch the passers-by. Vast herds of horses and 
cattle now roam in unrestrained freedom across them. Here 
the tall rhea, the American ostrich, with outstretched wings 
runs swiftly across the plain. Towards its southern bound- 
aries the huanacu and the deer — Cervus campestris — in 
large herds range at large, while the pools and marshes are 
inhabited by enormous flocks of wild fowl of all descriptions. 
Here hundreds of beautiful flamingoes may be seen rising 
when alarmed, and forming a rosy cloud of plumage in the 
blue sky — the tints shading gradually from the delicate pink 
of their necks to the deep red of their long wings; while many 
others of the feathered tribes, — some with long legs, others 
with huge beaks, — fly across the placid pools, their strange 
cries and varied notes sounding through the air. 

The eastern portion af this enormous district in winter 
presents a peculiarly rich aspect — herds of wild cattle graz- 
ing in full liberty on the luxuriant clover which then covers 
the ground. As spring advances, a totally different plant 
takes the place of the clover, and in three or four weeks an 
extraordinary change has occurred. The whole region then 
appears covered by a dense wood of eno.rmous thistles, which 
have shot up to a height of nearly twelve feet, and are now 
in fuU bloom. So densely do they grow, that they present 
an impenetrable barrier to man and horse, or even to the 
strong-limbed cattle or wild beasts of the plain. The only 
passage through them is by those paths which have been 


U lilt. ' - ' ' ' 'hIII'II'i ' ''I ' i ' PI lliiilllilillH I' ' 



!] I 


kept open by the constant trampling of feet ; while certain 
tracks, intricate as those of a labyrinth, which exist in some 
directions, are the abodes of bands of robbers, to whom alone 
they are known. From their recesses they sally forth to 
attack the solitary rancho, or to murder the traveller who 
may be passing through, knowing well that they can secure 
a safe retreat, without the risk of being pursued. 

Beyond this region of thistles is a second wide district, 
which produces long grass, changing only, according to the 
season, from green to brown ; while beyond it, again, is a 
third region, reaching to the base of the Cordilleras, and 
mostly covered with thick groves of low trees and evergreen 
shrubs, with here and there streams passing amid them. 

Descending from the Andes, the first view of the Pampas 
resembles somewhat the wide-spreading ocean seen from afar ; 
but as the sun rises, irregularities can be distinguished in the 
northern portion, — while the streams which run through it 
from the mountain-sides glitter like silver threads, till lost 
in the immensity of the distance. 

But to retm^n to the previous region. For several months 
the tall thistles hold possession of the plain, but at length 
the heats of summer tell upon the-m. They lose their sap 
and verdure, their heads droop, the leaves shrink and fade, 
the stems become black and dead, though still they stand 
rattling one against the other with the breeze. Then dark 
clouds are seen in the west ; the fierce pampero bursts forth 
with irresistible force ; they bend before it, and in a few 
seconds the whole forest is levelled with the ground. Here, 
under the influence of the heat and moisture, they rapidly de- 
compose and disappear, fertilizing the soil. Once more the 
clover rushes up, and the plain again smiles with a verdant 


hue, and welcomes back the cattle, who have been driven to 
distant j^astures. 


See the inhabitant of this region, — the bold Gaucho, 
whether owner of thousands of heads of cattle, or the humble 
peon or chasqui, servant or courier, — mounted on his fiery 
steed. What command he has over it ! How admirably he 
and the animal seem adapted to each other ! If a proprietor 
or chief manager, he will probably be habited in a white shirt, 
with wide trousers richly embroidered with deep lace ; the 
chiripa — a piece of cloth covering the body and passing round 
his legs — being tied with a band ; a poncho over his shoul- 
ders ; boots of polished leather, or, it may be, of simple skin ; 
his heels adorned with a pair of enormous spm*s, of silver or 
less valuable metal, with rowels of prodigious circumference ; 
with his rebenque, or horse-whip, in hand, made of cow-hide, 
and set off by a handle of massive silver. All classes re- 
siding on the Pampas, whether in Uruguay or the Far West, 
are called Gauchos. 

Such in early life was General Urquiza, for some time 
governor of his native province of Entre Rios. The term is, 
however, applied generally to the lower orders. 

Hardy, and sparely built, like the Arabs of the desert the 
Gaucho lives on horseback. For most nights the ground is 
his bed and his saddle his pillow, a piece of hide or a poncho 
his only covering. He will gallop thn^ty leagues a day with- 
out fatigue. 

From his infancy he has been taught the use of the lasso 
and bolas ; and in his boyhood learned to catch the fowls, 
goats, and sheep about his father's rancho, or to capture part- 


ridges in a similar way. Yet he is "but little fitted for the 
ordinary hard work of life. In consequence of his over- 
exertion and irregular life, his long abstinence from food, and 
neglect of a due proportion of vegetable aliment, his body ap- 
pears to be dried up, his vital energies fail, and his term of 
existence is shortened. 

Impatient of rebuke, he will not brook a hasty word, and 
will conclude a connection with a master at a moment's 
notice, by demanding to have his account made up. Horse- 
racing and gambling are his weaknesses. His knife is ready 
at hand, and thouo-h fatal results seldom follow beino- en- 
gaged in a quarrel, he attemj^ts to inflict a cut on the face of 
his antagonist, and there to leave his mark. His food he 
cooks on a stick — the asadevo — fixed in the ground before 
the fire ; and eats it without bread or any kind of vegetable, 
washing it down with copious draughts of yerba. 

He will gamble on all occasions, either with cards, domi- 
noes, or coin — a pitch-and-toss style of game. His horse- 
racing is more for the sake of obtaining the bets staked on the 
match. He also delights to bet on the strength of his horse. 
This is tried by fastening a pair of horses tail to tail, but at 
some distance, so that each end of a short lasso is tied to the 
saddle or girth of either animal. They are then mounted, 
and urged by whip and spur in opposite directions, until the 
stronger draws the weaker over the goal — a line marked on 
the ground. In spite of his gambling propensities, he is often 
intrusted with hundreds of doubloons for the purchase of cattle 
by his master. 

His mode of catching partridges is curious. Armed with a 
loop attached to the end of a thin stick, he will ride on till 
he sees a covey of birds on the ground ; aud then commences 

^379) 46 


circling round them, — the birds, curiously enough, not attempt- 
ing to fly, but trying to run away instead. The horeeman 
keeps on narrowing his circle, till he at last gets near enough 
to drop the loop over a bird's head, when he whips it up, a 
captive, though in no way injured — so that birds can thus be 
cauoht alive. 



Witness the operation of breaking-in a wild colt from 
amidst a herd of a hundred or more. A Gaucho called the 
dormador makes his appearance, dressed in a thin cotton shirt 
secured by a scarf round the waist, and a coloured handker- 
chief bound to his head, while his legs are guarded by a huge 
pair of boots, armed with enormous spurs. There he stands, 
with his lasso coiled up and thrown carelessly over his arm. 
He advances towards the herd, followed by two mounted 
Gauchos dressed in full costume. As the colts gallop round 
the corral, into which they have been driven, with wild eyes 
and waving manes, he selects one of them ; and whirling his 
lasso lightly round, casts it over the animal's head, sinking 
down at the same time on his left knee, and holding it with 
])oth hands. No sooner does the colt feel the lasso than it 
bounds in'to the air, and dashes off, the dormador sliding and 
crouching along the ground, playing him, as a fisherman does 
a large salmon, till he has separated him from the rest of the 
herd. He then brings him into the centre of the coiTal, 
]jlunging and rearing, with his tether much shortened. An- 
other Gaucho throws his lasso on the gi^ound under the colt's 
fore-feet, and by an upward jerk tightens it round his legs. 
At the same time the dormador lets his lasso out freely ; the 
horse dashes out till it is brought to the ground by the other 
lasso, with a shock sufficient, it would seem, to break every 


bone in his Lody. There he lies motionless, AAliile his fore 
and hind foei are secured. 

At length restored to consciousness, after some convulsive 
]i)lunges he again gets on his feet, and is led by a further 
relay of Gauchos to a post, where he is saddled and bridled 
in spite of his struggles. Regaining his strength, he plunges, 
kicks, and bites in all directions, the Gauchos nimbly getting 
out of his way. The dormador, watching his opportunity, 
now leaps into the saddle, and signs to his companions to 
cast off the leg-lasso. Immediately the colt, finding his legs 
free, jumps straight off the ground, and then commences to 
back, plunge, and dash furiously out. The dormador, how- 
ever, sticks on ; and another Gaucho, coming behind, admin- 
isters a lash with his long cutting whip, which makes the 
poor animal start oft' at full speed, with a snort like a scream. 
A mounted Gaucho rides on either side of him, to keep him 
straight. Oft' he goes over the level country for miles, occa- 
sionally stopping to back and kick ; but each time his eftbrts 
gi'ow fainter, till at length he is ridden back, with eyes 
bloodshot, covered with foam and blood, and perfectly be- 
wildered, when he is unsaddled and tied to the post. " Poor 
beast!" observes Captain Kennedy, who describes such a 
scene, " he looks as much broken down as broken in." Few 
of the Gauchos, however, can overcome a horse after the man- 
ner of the one whose feat he witnessed. 


The chief tribe of Patao-onians who inhabit the reo-ion as 
far south as the Strait of Magellan, go under the name of 
Pehuenches — -men of tall and muscular stature, with thick 
black hair, high foreheads, and broad fjices, but in no way ap- 



proaching to what would be called the gigantic. Their features 
express passive contentment^ but are utterly destitute of 
vivacity and intelligence. Their feet are remarkably small. 
They have their eyebrows and moustaches plucked so as to 
contain only a single line of hairs. The women are of low 


size, and unattractive^ — using a sort of pigment on their bodies, 
composed of animal blood and soot. 

The sole coverins: of both sexes is a mantle made of huanacu 
skins — worn with the hairy side in — which can be thrown otF 


in a moment. Their habitations are huts of skin, supported on 
poles sloping to the ground, towards the direction from whence 
blows the strong wind or snow from Cape Horn. They sleep, 
however, in fine weather, — like other tribes further to the 
north, — on the uncovered ground. 

Their great delight is smoking — from a pipe made of stone, 
fashioned into the shape of a small bowl, in which a long tube 
is fixed. Each man takes a pull at the pipe and sends it 
round, gulping in a hug'-e quantity of vapour, all the muscles 
of the body seeming in a fierce convulsion of straining ; and 
while his neighbour is apparently employed in an efibrt to 
gulp down the whole apparatus, there issues from the nose 
and mouth of the first smoker a cloud which quickly renders 
his face and all around him invisible. 

Like other tribes of the Pampas, they have become expert 
horsemen, and with bolas capture huanacus and ostriches. 


Besides the huanacus, a deer of considerable size ranges in 
small herds throughout the Pampas and northern Patagonia, 
and is very abundant. It possesses an overpoweringly strong 
and offensive odour at some periods of the year, which is 
perceptible at a great distance. Should the Gauchos kill an 
animal when this is the case, they bury the ficsh in the earth, 
by which means the taint is removed, and it becomes eat?-ble. 
A person can easily approach a herd by crawling along the 
ground, when the deer, out of curiosity, apparently, approach 
to reconnoitre him. They, however, have learned to fear 
their enemy, man, when mounted on a horse and aimed with 
bolas ; and as soon as they see a horseman, they invariably 
take to fiight. 


Darwin mentions a remarkable breed of cows called the 
nata or niata. The animal has a very short and broad fore- 
head, with the nasal end turned up, and the U})per lip much 
drawn back. Its lower jaw projects below the upper, and 
has a coiTesponding upward curve ; hence its teeth are always 
exposed. Its nostrils are seated high up, and are very open; 
and the eyes are projecting. When walking, it carries its 
head low on a short neck ; and its hind-legs are rather longer 
compared with the front ones than is usual. 
: The breed is supposed to have originated amongst the 
Indians southward of the La Plata. It is fiercer than common 
cattle ; and the cow easily deserts her first calf if molested or 
visited too often. Now, it is a singular fact that an almost 
similar structure to the abnormal one of the niata breed 
characterizes the great extinct ruminant of India — the siva- 
therium. The breed is very true, and the niata bull and cow 
invariably produce niata calves. " Can it be that this animal 
is an aboriginal of the continent, and existed ages before the 
European breeds were introduced ? " asks Mr. Darwin. 


The careless horseman on the Pampas soon becomes dis- 
agreeably acquainted with the existence of a little rodent — the 
bizcacha — into whose closely-set burrows should his horse step, 
he will to a certainty find himself pitched over his steed's 
head. It closely resembles a rabbit, but with larger gnawing 
teeth and a longer tail. It has only three toes behind, like the 
agouti. The creatures are seen in great numbers during the 
evenins_^ seated on theii" haunches in front of their abodes, 


— from wliich they seldom wander far, — gravely contem})lating 
the passer-by. When scampering out of danger, their elevated 
tails and short fore-legs give them the appearance of large 

They have a curious habit of dragging every hard oVject 
they find to the mouth of their burrows ; round which bones of 
animals, stones, and hard lumps of earth, are found, collected 
in large irregular heaps. Although, no doubt, some good reason 
exists for this habit, it is difficult to account for it. A gentle- 
man told Mr. Darwin, that having dropped his watch one dark 
night, he was unable to find it ; but returning the following 
morning, and searching the neighbourhood of every bizcacha 
burrow along the line of road, he at length disco ve]'ed it among 
a heap of rubbish. 


Another little rodent, very similar to the bizcacha of the 
Pampas, lives high up on the mountain, often at an elevation 
of 12,000 feet. It resembles the rabbit, but its ears are 
shorter, and its tail is lone: and rouo;h. 

Nearly related to it, and inhabiting the same region, is the 
chinchilla — a pretty little creature, rather larger than a squirrel, 
with great brilliant eyes, an erect tail, strong bristles on the 
upper lip, and rounded, almost naked ears. Its beautifully 
soft fur is much valued by ladies in Europe. It covei"s in 
certain districts the slopes of the Andes with its burrows, 
which trip up many an unwary horseman — gre-atly to its sur- 
prise and alarm, as its only object in forming them is to have 
a quiet home of its own, where it can bring up its young, and 
enjoy the roots which it collects, and on which it feeds at its 

728 THE RHEA. 


The tucutuco — another small rodent, with burrowing habits 
somethinof like those of a mole — o'ains its name from the 
short nasal groan which it repeats about four times in quick 
succession. It is very abundant, and may be heard at all 
times of the day uttering its strange sounds directly beneath 
the feet in its burrow. It throws up little hillocks of earth 
like those of a mole at the mouth of its abode. So completely 
are tracks of country undermined by these animals, that horses 
in passing over sink above their fetlocks. 

They are gregarious and nocturnal in their habits. Their 
chief food consists of the roots of plants, to obtain which they 
make their extensive and superficial burrows. From the for- 
mation of their hmd-legs, they are unable to jump even the 
smallest vertical height. 

It is a curious circumstance connected with them, that 
large numbers become blind, — though apparently the animal 
suffers but little inconvenience in consequence, as it exists 
almost entirely beneath the surface of the ground. 


Across the wide Pampas, from the plains of La Plata to the 
south of Patagonia, the large rhea, vying almost in size with 
the African ostrich, stalks along, generally in pairs, but some- 
times in large flocks of thirty or more. It differs from the 
real ostrich, — having three toes instead of two, is smaller, and 
of a uniform gray colour, except on the back, which has a 
brown tint. Like the ostrich, the back and rump are fur- 
nished with long feathers, but of a less rich description than 
the former species. 

THE RHEA. - 729 

When running, it moves at gi'eat speed, alternately raising, 
outstretching, and then depressing its wings. 

The cock bird emits a singularly deep-toned, hissing note ; 
and he can be distinguished by being larger, darker coloured, 
and having a bigger head than the hen. The cry is so deep 
and loud, that it resembles that of a wild beast. 

His hens lay their eggs at random round a hole which he 
digs for the nest. He then employs himself in rolling them 
along into it, by inserting his beak between the egg and the 
ground, as a boy would roll a hockey ball along with a stick. 
He then sits to hatch them, while the hens feed round at 
liberty. He lies so close on these occasions, that he is easih^ 
ridden over. He is at this time very fierce, and even danger- 
ous, and has been known to attack a man on horseback, trying 
to kick and leap up at him. Frequently twenty -two eggs, 
and even more, are found in each nest. 

The rhea, when pursued, readily takes to the water ; and 
sometimes even of its own accord, when not frightened, will 
swim across a river. One has been seen crossing a stream 
four hundred yards in width. 

When swimming, very little of their bodies appear above 
water, and their necks are extended a little forward, — their 
progress being slow. 

The rhea is hunted by the Gauchos and Indians on hoi*se- 
back. The huntsmen form a semicircle, gradually closing in 
on the bird, which does not know in which way to escape. It 
generally runs off against the wind ; at the same time, when 
it first starts, it expands its wings, and, like a vess(il, makes 
sail. As the huntsman gets close to it he throws his lasso 
over its neck ; or if he is using the bolas, he casts them so as 
to entangle the bird's legs, and thu