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of fim Ummum of »e Royil CoBiBof Sntgaona of Ediabiii)gh, Mamlwr of 
the Natanl Hblary SocietiM of EdiidNVgh ud Philadelphia, fte. 







183 5. 






vrs HSrYvvAi V\. Ho^lX. 



















J. d& J. HARPBR, 82 CLIFF-8TR££T. 


(the NEW YORKj 


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J. a 1. HARPER, 83 CLIFP«rRKBT. 









[the NEV/ vq ' 

■nttP"' '-^^OX AND 

» • 


The celebrity which Baron Humboldt enjoys, and 
which he ha£r earned by a life of laborious investiga- 
tioo and perilous enterprise, renders his name fami- 
liar to every person whose attention has been drawn 
to political statistics or natural philosophy. In the 
estimation of the learned no author of ihe present 
day occupies a higher place among those who have 
enlarged the boundaries of human knowledge. To 
every one, accordingly, whose aim is the general cul- 
tivatioD <^the mental faculties, his works are recom- 
mended by the splendid pictures of scenery which 
they contBin, the diversified information which they 
afibrd respecting objects of universal interest, and 
the graceflil attractions with which he has succeeded 
in investing the majesty of science. 

These considerations have induced the publishers 
to ofier a ccMidensed account of his Travels and Re- 
searches, such as, without excluding subjects even 
of kboored investigation, might yet chiefly embrace 
tiiose which are best suited to the purposes of the 
general reader. The public taste has of late years 
gradually inclined towards objects of useful know- 
Mge,-— wofks of imagination have in a great mea- 



sure given place to those occupied with descriptions 
o(* nature, physical or moral, — and the phenomena 
of the material world now afford entertainment to 
iriaiiy who in fonner times would have sought for it 
at a difierent source. Romantic incidents, perilous 
adventures, the struggles of conflicting armies, and 
\ivid delineations of national manners and individ- 
ual character, naturally excite a lively interest in 
(^very bosom, whatever may be the age or sex ; but, 
snr<»ly, the great facts of creative power and wis- 
dom, as exhibited in regions of the globe of which 
they have no personal knowledge, are not less cal- 
culated to fix the attention of all reflecting minds. 
Th(* magnificent v(»getation of the tropical regions, 
displaying forests of gigantic trees, interspersed with 
(he varied foliage of innumerable shrubs, and adorned 
with festooas of climbing and odoriferous plants ; 
the elevated table-lands of the Andes, crowned by 
volcanic cones whose summits shoot high into the 
region of perennial snow ; the earthquakes that have 
desolated populous and fertile countries ; the vast 
expanse of the Atlantic Ocean, with its circling cur- 
rents ; and the varied aspect of the heavens in those 
distant lands, — are subjects suited to the taste of 
every individual who is capable of contemplating the 
wonderful machinery of the universe. 

It is unnecessary here to present an analysis of 
the labours of the Ulustrious philosopher whose foot- 
stops are traced in this volume. Suffice it to observe, 
that some notices respecting his early life introduce 
the reader to an acquaintance with his character and 
motives, as the adventurous traveller, who, crossing 


the Adantic, traversed the ridges and plains of Vene- 
zuela, ascended the Orinoco to its junction with the 
Amazon, sailed down the former river to the capital 
of Guiana, and after examining the island of Cuba, 
mounted by the valley of the Magdalena to the ele- 
nuted platforms of the Andes, explored the majestic 
solitudes of the great cordilleras of Quito, navigated 
the margin of the Pacific Ocean, and wandered over 
the extensive and interesting provinces of New- 
Spain, whence he made his way back by the United 
States to Europe. The publication of the important 
results of this journey was not completed when he 
undertook another to Asiatic Russia and the con- 
fines of China, from which he has but lately re- 

From the various works which he has given to the 
world have been derived the chief materials of this 
narrative; and, when additional particulars were 
wanted, application was made to M. de Humboldt 
himself^ who kindly pointed out the sources whence 
the desired information might be obtained. The 
life of a man of letters, he justly observBd, ought 
to be sou^ for in his books ; and foj dus reason 
httle has been said respecting his occupalkxis during 
the ioteiTals of repose fHiich have succeeded his 
perilous joumejTS. 

It is only necessary further to apjmze the reader, 
diat the several measurements, the indications of the 
thermometer, and die value of articles of industry 
or commerce, which in the original volumes are ex- 
pressed according to French, Spanish, and Russian 
have been reduced to English equivalents. 


Finally, the publishers, confident that this abridged 
account of the travels of Humboldt will prove bene- 
ficial in diffusing a knowledge of the researches of 
that eminent naturaUst, and in leading to the study 
of those phenomena which present themselves daily 
to the eye, send it forth with a hope that its reception 
will be as favourable and extensive as that bestowed 
upon its predecessors. 

EomBUROH, October^ 1899. 




Birth and Education of Humboldt— His eaily Occnpatioiw— He reeblvea 
to visit Afticar— la disappointed in bis Views, and goes to Madrid, 
wbere he is introduced to the King, and oMains Perniission to visit 
the Spanj^ Colonies— Obsenrations made on the Journey through 
Spain— Geological Constitution of the Country between Bfodrid and % 
Coruuna— Climate— Ancient Submersion of the Shores of the Medi- 
terranean— Ree^liCion at Comnna, and Preparations for the Voyage to 
South America Page 15 


Dtfpvtiira fltmi COrnnna— Currents of the Atlantic Ocean— Marine Ani- 
mal*— FUting Stars— Swallows— Canary Islands— LanceroCa—Fucus 
vWlbliiis— Causes of the Green Colour of Plants— La Graciosa— 
Stratified Basalt alternating with Marl— Hyalite— Quartz Sand— 
RoBBarks oo the Distance at which Mountains are visible at Sea, and 
tlie Causes by which it is modified— Landing at Teneriffb 22 


Baota Cms— Villa de la Laguna—Gnanehes— Present Inhabitants of 
TsaeriA— Climate— Scenery of the Coast — Orotava— Dragon-tree — 
Aseent of the Peak— Its Geological Character— Eruptions— Zones of 
Vcgetatioo— Fires of St. John 35 

CHAPlxR rv. 


Departure flrom Santa Cms— Floating Seaweeds— Flying-fish— Stars- 
Malignant Perer— Island of Tobago— Death of a Passenger— Isiaud 
of Coche — Port of Cumana— Observations made during the Voyage ; 
Teaaperatare of the Air ; Temperature of the Sea ; Hygrometrical 
Slate of tbe Air ; Colour of the Sky and Ocean 47 




Landing at Camaiik— Introdaction to the Governor— State of the 
Description of the Country and City of Cumana— Mode of Bat 
the Awazanarea— Port of Cnmana— Earthquakes ; Their Peric 
(>>hnexion with the State of the Atmosphere ; Cteseous Eman 
Subterranean Noises; Propagation of Shoclts; Connexion b 
those of Cumana and the West Indies; and general Phenomena 


Lnnar Halo— AfVican Slaves— Exourslon to the Peninsula of A 
Oeolo|d(«l Constitution of the Country— Salt-works of Araya— ! 
and Mulattoe»— Pearl-fishery— Bianiquarez— Mexican Deer- 
of Naphtha 




Bieanion to the MIssIom of the Chayma Indians— Remarks c 
tlvation— The Impossible— Aspect of the Vegetation— San Fern 
Aecount of a Man who anckled a Child— Cumanacoa—Cuitivi 
Tobacco— Igneous Exhalations— Jaguar»— Mountain of Co< 
Tnrtmlqillri— Missions of San AntoiUo and (juanaguana 


CoDvent of Caripe— Cave of Guacharo, inhabited by Nocturnal 
Purgatory— Forest Scenery— Howling Monkeys— Vera Crui--' 
— IntermittehtFavers— Cocoa-trees— Passage across the Gulf< 
aco to Cumana 


Physical Constitution and Bfanners of the Chaymas— Their Lar 
— American Races 



Bostds&ce at Cumana— Attack of a Zambo— Eclipse of the 
Bxtntordinary Atmospherical Phenomena— Shocks of an Eart 
— Lomlnous Meteors 


COMTmTf 11 

coArrEM XI. 


^ , ftom Cmnaaa to La GoaynH-Phoiyiioicieepee of tta» 8e > 
2|"^tf tlw Onaecas and Chimanaa— ftec of Naw-Baroeiona— La 
^q^a-TflOow Fefrer— Ooaak and Cape Bfameo— Boad fhw La 
<^*yia to Ganecaa 110 


^^'fl^ Ouaccas— General IHew of Venezuela— Population qjmate— 
^^neierof tbe Inbabitanta of Caracca»— Aaeent of the Billa— Geo> 
"lieal Nature of cbelNatriet, and ibelliMa 123 


'^■Mive Connexion of Eartbqoakeo— BnqiCion of the Volcano of St. 
^Bent<)B-Eartliq[Dake of tbe 90tli March, 18l»-Deatnietkn of the 
gT—Ten Thooaand of the InhaWttnta kflled— ConaternatkB of the 
Banrivon— Sztent of tbe ConunotiaikB 135 



^Sutare ftouk Caraccaa— La Buenansta— Valleys of San Pedro and the 
^^Dy—Maatnola—Zainang-tree— Valleys of Angna— Lake of Vatancia 
^Dmrinarton of its Waters— Hoc Springs— lagoar—New-ValBBda— 
Tliermal Waters of La Trinchera— Porto Cabello— Cow-tree— Coeoa- 
Plaatatlons— General View of tbB Littoral District of Veneiaeia.. 142 




Moaatains between the Valleys of Aragna and the Llanos— TbeirGeologl 
cal Conaticntion- Tbe Uanoo of Caraocas— Route over the Savanna 
la the Rio Apore— Cattle and Pew^Vegetation— Calaboio Oym noti 
•rEleeCric Eels— Indian Girl— Alligaton and Boas— Arriral at San 
Pnuando de Apve 100 



Ssa FerBawk>-€aanaencement of tbe Rainy SeMon-Prograss of A^ 
•-^— • Pbenomena— Cetaceous Anlmala— Voyage down tbe Rio 
and Wild Animals— Crocodiles, Chignirea, and 

-.* 12 ' CONTENTS. 

Jaguars— Don Ignacio and Donna Isabella— Water-fowl 
Rowlings in tbe Forest— Caribe-flsh- Adventure with a . 
natees— Moutli of the Rio Apure 



Ascent of tbe Orinoco— Port of Encaramada— Traditions of 
Deluge— Gathering of Turtles* Eggs— Two 3pecie8 desc 
of collecting the Eggs and of roanufhcturing the Oil— Pro 
ber of these Animals on the Orinoco^Decorations of tb 
Encampment of Pararuma— Height of the Inundations 
noco— Rapids of Tabage 



, Blission of Atures— Epidemic Fevers — Black Cruat of Oran 
Causes of Depopulation of the Missions—Falls of Apures- 
Anecdote of a Jaguar— Domestic Animals — Wild Man o( 
•^Mosquitoes and other poisonous Insects — Mission and ( 
Maypures- Scenery— Inhabitants- Splce-trees— SanFerni 
bipo—San Baltasar— The Mother's Rock— Vegetation- 
San Antonio de Javita— Indians— Elastic Gum— Scrpentn- 
the Pknichin— Arrival at the Rio Negro, a Branch of the 
Asoent of the Casiquiare 



Mission of Esmeralda— Curare Poison — Indians — Duida 
Descent of the Orinoco— Cave of Ataruipe— Raudalito of 
Mission of Uruana- Character of the Otomacs— Clay eatci 
tives— Arrival at Angostura— The Travellers attacked by 
rocity of the Crocodiles 



Departure fttxn Angostura— Village of Cari— Natives— New-] 
Hoi Springs— Crocodiles— Passage to Cumana 



fVom New-Barcelona to Havana— Description of the 
tMit of Cub«— Geological Constitution— Vegetation— Climai 

CONTENTS. 19 y. 

kjrkalture— Exports— Preparntions forjoining Captain Bandin'r 
lion— Journey to Batabano, and Voyage to Trinidad de Cnba 29< 


rrom Trinidad of Cuba to Carthagena— Description of tbe latter 
ge of Tnrbaco— Air-volcanoes— Preparations for ascending the 
fdaleoa 906 



' the Rio Ma^dalena— Santa Fe de Bogota— Cataract of Tequen- 
Natural Bridges of Icononco— Pamage of Qaindiu— Cargneros 
yan— Qoito— Cotopaxi and Cbimborazo— Route fnm Quito to 
^aayaquil— Mexico— Guanaxuato— Volcano of Jorullo— Pyra- 
^ttla 979 



Deicription of New-Si>ain or Mexico — Cordilleras— Ciimatea 
»^RivCT»— lAke»— Soil— Volcanoes^Harbours— Populati<m — 
ices— Valley of Mexico, and Description of the Capital— Inunda- 
ud Works undertaken for the Purpose of preventing them. . 207 



ire of Mexico— Banana, Manioc, and Maize— Cereal Plants — 
ve Roots and Vegetables— Agave Americana— Colonial Com- 
s— Cattle, and Animal Productions 3^ 


>i8tricts— Metalliferous Veins and Beds— Geological Relations 
I>ree— Produce of tbe Mines— Recapltnlation SU 



e from Mexico— Passage to Havana and Philadelphia— Return 
)pe—Retfulis of the Journeys in America 347 


duPTanvm V 


Brief A«eo«Bt of Humboldt's JooiiMy to Alia, witli « Wu/HA 4tf)m Pmv 

gnot GlMtfai of Blottiitaini wiitcli iattifttet the ecaiiil VM «r ikM 
Oondneiit Ml 


ViaMKTTg— Baadtio Rocka and Caaeada of Bagla. 

I>ragoam«e of Oratara 

Hmnboldfa RoQte oa tbe Oriooeo 

Jaguar, or Ameriean Tiger 


Coatunwa of the IndJapa of Madwaem •• 

... m ^ 







Bimi umH Btoilton of Humboldt— His early Oeenpatioii»— He leeotvee 
lo rimt Aftteft— Is diMppointed in bie Views, and goes to Bi&drid. 
wlksra be to introdnced to the King, and obtains Permission to visit 
me SpanMi Cokmiea— Obsenrations made on the Jonmey through 
SpaiA— Geolofieal Constitution of the Country between Madrid and 
Conmoa— Climate — Ancient Submersion of the Shores of the Medi- 
torraiMan— Beoqition at Conmna, and Preparations for the Voyage to 

With the name of Humboldt we associate all that 
is interesting in the physical sciences. No travel- 
ler who has visited remote regions of the globe, for 
the purpose of observing the varied phenomena of 
nature, has added so much to our stock of positive 
knowledge. While the navigator has explored the 
coasts of unknown lands, discovered islands and 
shores, marked the depths of the sea, estimated the 
force of currents, and noted the more obvious traits 
in the aspect of the countries at which he has 
touched; while the zoologist has investigated the 
multiplied forms of animal life, the botanist the di- 
▼ersined vegetation, the geologist the structure and 


relations of the rocky masses of whicluQie eztericMr 
of the earth is composed ; and while each has tboB 
contributed to the illustration of the wonderful con- ' 
stitution of our planet, the distinguished trsfeller 
whose discoveries form the subject of this ▼olmne 
stands alone as uniting in himself a knowledge of aU 
these sciences. Geography, meteorology, magnet- , 
ism, the distribution of heat, the yarious depart- 
ments of natural history, together with the affinittgiy 
of races and languages, the history of nationa, the 
pohtical constitution of countries, statistics, cchdii- 
merce, and agriculture, — all have received accimiii- 
lated and valuable additions ftiom the exercise of Ida 
rare talents. The narrative of no traveller, fheng* 
fore, could be more interesting to the man of vaiia^^ 
information. But as from a work like that of wfaidi 
the present volume constitnies a part subjeeUlialarictly 
scientific mmit be ezdoded, unless when they en 
be treated in a manner intelligible to the paluic at 
laige, it may here be stated, that many of the invaa- 
tigations of which we present the results must be 
traced in the voluminous works which the antlHr 
himself has published. At the same time enoi^ 
will be given to gratify the scientific reader ; ail 
while the narrative of personal adventure, the div«^ 
sified phenomena of the physical world, the condi- 
tion or societies, and the numerous other snbjeoli 
discussed, will afford amusement and instruction, lat 
it be remembered that truths faithfully extractai 
from the book of nature are alone calculated to en* 
large the sphere of mental vision ; and that, whila 
fanciful description is more apt to mislead than ta 
direct the footsteps of the student, there is refleelai 
from the actual examination of the material miiyf 
a light which never fails to conduct the mind at 
to sure knowledge and to pious sentiment. 

Frederick Henry Alexander Von Humboldt 
born at Beriin, on ttie 14th of September, 1769. Ha 
received his academic education at G6ttingen an* 



Frankfort on the Oder. In 1790 he visited Holland 
and England in company with Messrs. George Fors- 
ter and Van Geuns, and in the same year published 
his first work, entitled " Observations on the Basalts 
of the Rhine." In 1791 he went to Freyberg to re- 
ceive the instructions of the celebrated Werner, the 
founder of geological science. The results of some 
of his observations in the mines of that district 
were published in 1793, under the title of Specimen 
IlonB Fribergensis SubterranetB, 

Having been appointed assessor of the Council of 
Mines at Berlin in 1792, and afterward director- 
general of the mines of the principalities of Bareith 
and Anspach in Franconia, he directed his efforts to 
the formation of pubhc estabhshments in these dis- 
tricts ; but in 1795 he resigned his office with the 
view of travelling, and visited part of Italy. His 
active and comprehensive mind engaged in the study 
of all the physical sciences ; but the discoveries of 
Galvani seem at this period to have more particularly 
attracted his attention. The results of his experi- 
ments on animal electricity were pubhshed in 1796, 
with notes by Professor Blnmenbach. In 1795 he 
bad gone to Vienna, where he remained some time, 
ardently engaged in the study of a fine collection of 
exotic plants in that city. He travelled through 
several cantons of Salzburg and Siytiz with the 
celebrated Von Buch, but was prevented by the war 
which then raged in Italy from extending his journey 
to that country, whither he was anxious to proceed 
for the purpose of examining the volcanic districts 
of Naples and Sicily. Accompanied by his brother 
WilUain Von Humboldt and Mr. Fischer, he then 
visited Paris, where he formed an acquaintance with 
M. Aim6 Bonpland, a pupil of the School of Medicine 
and Garden of Plants, who, afterward becoming his 
associate in travel, has greatly distinguished himself 
by his numerous discoveries in botany. 

Humboldt, from his earliest youth, had cherished 




an ardent desire to travel into distant reffiom Httto 
known to Europeans ; and havih^ at ttie age of 
rig:1iteen resolvcwi to visit the New Continent, he 
prepared himself by examining some of the movt 
interesting parts of Europe, that he might be enabled 
to compare the geological structure of theee tw« 
)>ortions of the globe, and acquire a practical aif 
({uaintance with the instruments best adapted fiflr 
Hiding him in his observations. Fortunate in poa- 
Hossing ample pecuniary resources, he did not eme" 
rionce the privations which have disconcerted^w 
plans and retarded the progfress of many emineoft 
mdividuals ; hut, not the less subject to- unforeaeea 
vicissitudes, he had to undergo several disappoiiit* 
ments that thwarted the schemes which, uke dl 
men of ardent mind, he had indulgiMl hipiself in 
forming. Bltfttlng with a person passionately famt 
of the fine art!; aiid anxious to visit Upper ESgypt, he 
resolved to accompany him to that interesting oowa. 
try; but political events interfered, and forced "^'^ 
lo abandon the project. The knowledge of 
monuments of the mor6 ancient nations of the 
World, which he acquired at this period, was 
sequently of ^eat use to him in his researehes 
the New Ck>ntment. An expedition of discovery 
the southern hemisphere, under the direction 
Captain Baudin, then preparinff in France, and wj 
which MM. Michaux and Bonpmnd were to be 
ciated as naturalists, held out to him the ' 
^ratifying his desire of exploring unknown 
But the war which broke out in Germany i 
compelled the government to withdraw the 
allotted to this enterprise. Becoming ao 

with a Swedish consul who happened to past 

Paris, with the view of embarking at Maraaiiia» 
a mission to Algiers, he resolved to embiioe 
opportunity thus offered of visiting Africa, hi a 
to examine the lofty chain of mountains in te 
pire of Morocco, and ultimately to johi fhe 


scientific men attached to the French army in Eg3rpt. 
Accompanied by his friend Bonpland, he therefore 
betook himself to Marseilles, where he waited for 
two months the arrival of the frigate which was to 
convey the consul to his destination. At length, 
leaminisr that this yessel had been injured hiy a 
storm, he resolved to pass the winter in Spain, in 
hopes of finding another the following spring. 

On his way to Madrid, he determined the geo- 
graphical position of several important parts, and 
ascertained the height of the centnd plain of Castile. 
In March, 1799, he was presented at the court of 
Aranjuez, and graciously received by the king, to 
whom he explained the motives which induced him 
to undertake a voyage to the New Continent. Be- 
ing seconded in his application by the representa- 
tions of an enlightened minister, Don Mariano Luis 
de Urquijo, he to his great joy obtained leave to visit 
and explore, without impediment or restriction, sdl 
the Spanish territories in America. The impatience 
of the traveUers to take advantage of the permission 
thus granted did not allow them to bestow much 
time upon preparations; and about the middle of 
May they left Madrid, crossed part of Old Castile, 
Leon, and Galicia, and betook themselves to Co- 
mima, whence they were to sail for the island of 

According to the observations made by our travel- 
len, the interior of Spain consists of an elevated 
taUe-land, formed of secondary deposites, — sand- 
stone, gypsum, rock-salt, and Jura limestone. The 
diaate of the Castiles is much colder than that of 
Todlon and Genoa, its mean temperature scarcely 
riting to 59^ of Fahrenheit's thermometer. The 
central plain is surrounded by a low and narrow belt, 
in several parts of which the fan-palm, the date, the 
sogar-c^uie, the banana, and many plants common to 
Spain and the north of Africa vegetate, without suf- 
fiehng from the severity of the winter. In the space 


inoldded bejfcweeh the parallels of thirty-mx and' forty 
degrees of north latitude the mean temperature 
I'anges from ^*6^ to 68*2^ Fahrenheit, and by a con- 
currence of favourable circumstances this sectioa 
has become thh principal seat of industry and intel- 
lectu^ cultivation. 

Ascending from the shores of the Mediterranean, 
towards th^ elevated plains of La Mancha and the 
Castiles, one imagines that he sees far inland, iirtiie 
extended precipices, the ancient coast of the Penin- 
sida; a circumstance which' brings to mind Uie trW- 
ditions of the Samothracians and certain Instorical 
testimonies, according to which the bursting of tiie 
waters through the Dardanelles, while it enlarged the 
basin of the Mediterranean, overwhelmed the south- 
em part of Europe. The high central plain Just do- 
scribed wouhkit may be presumed, resist the efiecta 
of the inund!$(m mrtil the escape of the waters bf 
the strait formed between the Pillars of Hercnka, 
had gradually lowered the l^vel of the Meditenik 
nean, and thereby once more laid bare Uimer 
on the one hamd, and on the other, the fertue 
of Tartagon, Yalentia, and Murcia. 

From Astoiga to Corunna the mountains gr 
rise, the secoijdary strata disappear by degrees, 
the transitionrodcswhichsucceed announce thejM 
imity of primitive formations. Large mountains ^^ 
graywacke and graywacke-slate present themseli^Bt.. 
In the vicinity of the latter town are granitic sttih 
mits which extend tO|Cape Ortegal, and wUkifc' 
might seem, with those of Brittany and 
have once formed a chain of mountains that 
been broken up and submersed. This rock is 
acterized by large and beautiful crystals of feUMfftkt ., 
and contains tin-ore, which is worked with moBir i 
labour and little profit by the Galicians. .^j 

On arriving at Comnna, they found the port blooii'^ 
aded by liie English, for the purpose ofint er r upti ijr^ 
the communication between toe mother-cou^y^^ 

. i 


and the American colonies. The principal secre- 
tary of state had recommended them to Don Rafael 
Clayigo, recently appointed director-generai of the 
maritime p^osts, who neglected nothing that could 
render their residence agreeable, and sulvised them 
to embark on board the corvette Pizarro bound for 
Havana and Mexico. Instructions were given for 
the safe disposal of the instruments, and the captain 
was ordered to stop at Teneriffe so long as should 
be found necessary to enable the travellers to visit 
the port of Orotava and ascend the Peak. 

During the few days of their detention, they occu- 
pied themselves in preparing the plants which they 
had collected and in making sundry observations. 
Grossing to Ferrol they made some interesting ex- 
periments on the temperature of the sea and the 
decrease of heat in the successive strata of the 
water. The thermometer on the bank and near it 
was from 64° to 65*9°, while in deep water it stood 
at 69° or 59-5°, the air being 55°. The fact that the 

Sximity of a sand-bank is indicated by a rapid 
cent of the temperature of the sea at its surface 
i;lb ai great importance for the safety of navigators ; 
inr, although the use of the thermometer ought not 
to supersede that of the lead, variations of tempera- 
tme indicative of danger may be perceived by it loiu^ 
before the vessel reaches the shoal. A heavy swefi 
from the north-west rendered it impossible to con- 
tinue their experiments. It was produced by a storm 
at sea, and obliged the English vessels to retire from 
the coast, — a circumstance which induced our trav- 
ellers speedily to embark their instruments and bag- 
gage, although they were prevented from sailing by 
a high westerly wind, that continued for several days. 





Voyage from Corurma to Teneriffe. 

Departure flrtnn Gomnna— Corrents of the Atlantic Ocean— Marine Aal- 
mals— Falling Stars— Swallows— Canary Islands— Laneemta-^PiMai 
vitifolius— Canaes of the Green Golonr of Plant»— La Omd a m 
Stratified Basalt alternating with Marl— Hyalite— Quarts 8ud-* 
Remarks on the Distance at which Mountains are Tisible at Bet, and 
the Causes by which it is modified— Landing at Tenerifib. 

The wind having come round to the north-east, 
the Pizarro set sail on the afternoon of the 6th of 
June, 1799, and after working out of the narrow pas- 
sage passed the Tower of Hercules, or lighthouse 
of Corunna, at half-past six. Towards evening the 
wind increased, and the sea ran high. They directed 
their course to the north-west, for the purpose of 
avoiding the Enghsh frigates which Were cruising 
off the coast, and about nine spied the fire of a fish- 
ing-hut at Lisarga, which was the last object they , 
beheld in the west of Europe. As they advanced, 
the light mingled, itself with the stars which rose on- 
the " " " • ■■ 

le horizon. " Our eyes," says Humboldt, " 
mained involuntarily fixed upon it. Such impres- 
sions do not fade from the memory of those who 
have undertaken long Voyages at an age when the 
emotions of the heart are in full force. How many 
recollections are awakened in the imagination by a 
luminous point which in the middle of a dark night, 
appearing at intervals above the agitated waves, 
marks the shore of one's native land !" 

They were obliged to run under courses, and pro- 
ceeded at the rate of ten knots, although the vessel 
was not a fast sailer. At six in the morning she 
rolled so much that the fore topgallant-mast was 
carried away. On the 7th they were in the latitude 


*of Cape Fimsterre, the group of granitic rocks on 
which, named the Sierra de Torinona, is visible at 
sea to the distance of 59 miles. On the 8th, at swi- 
set, they discovered from the mast-head an English 
convoy ; and to avoid them they altered their course 
during the night. On the 9th they began to feel the 
effects of the great current which flows from the 
Azores towards the Straits of Gibraltar and the 
Canaries. Its direction was at first east-by-south ; 
but nearer the inlet it became due east, and its force 
was such as, between 37° and 30° lat., sometimes to 
csirry the vessel in twenty-four hours from 21 to 30 
miles eastward. 

Between the tropics, especially from the coast of 
Senegal to the Caribbean Sea, there is a stream that 
always flows from east to west, and which is named 
the Equinoctial Current. Its mean rapidity may be 
estimated at ten or eleven miles in twenty-four 
hours. This movement of the waters, which is also 
observed in the Pacific Ocean, having a direction 
contrary to that of the earth's rotation, is supposed 
to be connected with the latter only in so far as it 
changes into trade- winds those aerial currents from 
the poles, which, in the lower regions of the atmo- 
sphere, -carry the cold air of the high latitudes to- 
wards the equator ; and it is to the general impulse 
which these winds give to the surface of the ocean 
that the phenomenon in question is to be attributed. 

This current carries the waters of the Atlantic 
towards the Mosquito and Honduras coasts, from 
which they move northwards, and passing into the 
Gulf of Mexico follow the bendings of the shore 
Crom Vera Cruz to the mouth of the Rio del Norte, 
and from thence to the mouths of the Mississippi 
and the shoals at the southern extremity of Florida. 
Alter performing this circuit, it again directs itself 
northward, rushing with great impetuosity throu'^h 
the Straits of Bahama. At the end of these nar- 
rows, in the pardllel of Cape Canaveral, the flow, 


which rushes onward like a torrent, sometimes at 
the rate of live miles an hour, nuis to the north-east. 
Its velocity diminishes and its breadth enlarges as it 
proceeds northward. Between Cape Biscayo and 
the Bank of Bahama the width is only 52 miles, 
while in 28^^ of lat. it is 59 ; and in the parallel of 
Charleston, opposite Cape I^enlopen, it is from 138 
to 173 miles, the rapidity being from three to five 
miles an hour where the stream is narrow, and only 
one mile as it advances towards the north. To the 
east of Boston and in the meridian of Halifax tiie 
current is nearly 276 miles broad. Here it suddenly 
turns towards the east ; its western margin touching 
the extremity of the great bank of Newfoundland. 
From this to the Azores it continues to flow to the 
K. and E.S.E., still retaining part of the impulse 
which it had received nearly 1150 miles distant in 
the Straits of Florida. In the meridian of the Isles 
of Corvo and Flores, the most western of the Azores, 
it is not less than 552 miles in breadth. From Uie 
Azores it directs itself towards the Straits of Gib- 
raltar, the island of Madeira, and the Canary Isles. 
To the south of Madeira we can distinctly follow its 
motion to the S.E. and S.S.E., bearing on the shores 
of Africa, between Capes Cantin and Bojador. Cape 
Blanco, which, next to Cape Verd, fiurther to toB 
south, is the most prominent part of thsft coast, 
seems again to influence the direction of tlie stream; 
and in this parallel it mixes with the great equinoc- 
tial current as already described. 

In this manner the waters of the Atlantic, between 
the parallels of 11^ and 43°, are carried round in a 
continual whirlpool, which Humboldt calculates must 
take two years and ten months to perform its cir- 
cuit of 13,118 miles. This great current is named 
the Gulf-stream. Off the coast of Newfoundland a 
branch separates fr^4n it, and runs from S.W. to 
N.B. towards the coasts of Europe. 

From Corunna to 36° of latitude, our travellers had 


scarcely seen any other animals than terns (or sea- 
swallows) and a few dolphins ; but on the 11th June 
they entered a zone in which the whole sea was 
corered with a prodigious quantity of meduss . The 
vessel was almost becalmed ; but the molusca ad- 
vanced towards the south-east with a rapidity equal 
to four times that of the current, and continued to 
pass nearly three-quarters of an hour, after which 
only a few scatterea individuals were seen. Among 
these animals they recognised the Medusa aurita of 
fiaster, the M. pelagica of fiosc, and a third approach- 
ing in its characters to the M. hysocella, which is dis- 
tinguished by its yellowish-brown colour, and by 
having its tentacula longer than the body. Several 
of them were four inches in diameter, and the bright 
reflection from their bodies contrasted pleasantly 
with the azure tint of the sea. 

On the morning of the 13th June, in lat. 34^ 33', 
they observed large quantities of the Dagysa notata, 
of which several had been seen among the medus«'e, 
and which coiisist of little transparent gelatinous 
sacs, extending to 14 lines, with a diameter of 2 or 
3, and open at both ends. These cylinders are lon- 
gitudiiuuly agglutinated like the cells of a honey- 
comb, and form struigs from six to eight inches in 
length. They observed, after it became dark, that 
none ofihe three species of medusa which they had 
collected emitted light unless they were slightly 
shaken. When a very irritable individual is placed 
on a tin plate, and the latter is struck with a piece of 
metal, the vibrations of the tin are sufficient to make 
the aninial shine. Sometimes, on galvanizing me- 
dusae, the phosphorescence appears at the moment 
when the chain closes, although the exciters are not 
in direct contact with the body of the subject. The 
fingers, after touching it, remain luminous for two 
or three idinutes. Wood, on being rubbed with a 
medusa, becomes luminous, and aftor the phospho- 
rescence has ceased, it may be rekmdled bv passing 



the dry hand oyer it ; but when the light is aseccmd 
time extinguished it cannot be reproduced. 

Between the island of Madeira and the coast of 
Afhca they were struck by the prodigious quantity 
of falling stars, which continued to increase as they 
advanc^ southward. These meteors, Humboldt 
remarks, are more common and more luminous in 
certain regions of the earth than in others. He 
has nowhere seen them more frequent than in the 
vicinity of the volcanoes of Quito and in that part 
of the South Sea which washes the shores of Gua- " 
timala. According to the observations of Benzen- 
berg and Brandes, many falling stars noticed in Eu- 
rope were only 63^950 yards, or a little more than M 
miles high; and one was measured, the elevation 
of which did not exceed 29,843 yards, or about 17 
miles. In warm climates, and especially between 
the tropics, they often leave behmd them a train 
which remains luminous for twelve or fifteen seconds. 
At other times they seem to burst, and separate ^ 
into a number of sparks. They are generally much 
lower than in the north of Europe. These meteors 
can be observed only when the sky is clear ; and 
perhaps none has ever been seen beneath a cloud. 
According to the observations of M. Arago, they usu- 
ally follow the same course for several hoxjfs ; and 
in this case their direction is that of the wind. 

When the voyagers were 138 miles to the east of 
Madeira, a common swallow (Hirundo rusHca) perched 
on the topsail-yard, and was caught. What could . 
induce a bird, asks our traveller, to fly so far at this 
season, and in calm weather ? In the expedition of 
Entrecasteaux, a swallow was also seen at the dis- 
tance of 207 miles off Cape Blanco ; but this hap- 
pened about the end of October, and M. Labillar- 
diere imagined that it had newly arrived from 

The Pizarro liad been ordered to touch at Lan- 
corota, one of tlie Canaries, to ascertain whether the 


haiiiour of Santa Cruz in Teneriflq was blockaded 
by the English; and on the 16th, in the afternoon, 
the seamen discovered land, which proved to b<; 
that island. As they advanced they saw first the 
island of Forteventura, famous for the number of 
camels reared upon it, and soon after the smaller 
one of Lobos. Spending part of the night on deck, 
the naturalists viewed the volcanic summits of Lan- 
cerota illumined by the moon, and enjoyed the beau- 
tiful serenity of the atmosphere. After a time, great 
fa^k clouds, rising behind the volcano, shrouded at 
intervals the moOn and the constellation of Scorpio. 
They observed lights carried about on the shore, 
piorably by fishermen, and having been employed 
occasionally during their passage in reading some 
of the old Spanish voyages, these moving fires re- 
called to their imamnation those seen on the island 
of Guanahani on the memorable night of the dis- 
covery of the New World. 

In passing through the archipelago of small isl- 
ands situated to the north of Lancerota, they were 
stnick by the configuration of the coasts, which re- 
sembled the banks of the Rhine near Bonn. It is a 
remarkable circumstance, our author observes, that, 
while the forms of animals and plants exhibit the 
greatest diversity in different climates, the rocky 
masses'present the same appearances in both hemi- 
spheres. In the Canary Isles, as in Auvergne, in the 
Mittelgebirge, in Bohemia, in Mexico, and on the 
banks of the Ganges, the trap formation displays a 
symmetrical arrangement of the mountains, ex- 
hibiting truncated cones and graduated platforms. 

The whole western part of Lancerota announces 
the character of a country recently deranged by vol- 
canic action, every part bring black, arid, and des- 
titute of soil. The Abb6 Viera relates that in 1730 
more than half of the island changed its appearance. 
The great volcano ravaged the most fertile and best- 
cultivated district, and entirely destroyed nine vil- 

*. . ■ .-I 

as , tMum ov MABtm n*iiTa. 

lages. ItB.eraptions were precede^ by an eaiJb* 
quake, and Tioleitt shocka continued to be felt ht 
several yeara, — a phenomenon of rare occsftenoa^ 
the agitation of the ground uaoaUy ceaaing iftor a 
disengagement of lava or other volcanic ptodoata. 
The anmmit of the great crater ia roundeot and Ha 
ahflohite heij^t doea not uqiiear to be nnidi aboifo 
1918 feet. The island of Lancerota waa fo nnei ly 
ntoied Titeroigotra, and at tiw time of the anitu 
of the Spaniaraa its inhabitanta were Moore ehiliiad 
than the other Canarians, living in honaea bailt el 
hewn atohe, while the Guanchea of TenmflbiealM 
in caves. Tliere was titen a very singnlar inatitih 
tion in the island. The women had several hmh 
bands, each of whom ei^joyed the prerogative *be^ 
longing to the head of a lunily in aoccMioBy the 
othera remaining for the time in the capacity of 
common domestics.* 

The occnrrence, between the islands of Alegranaa 
and Montana Clara of a siiwular marine prodoctieo, 
with liffht-green leaves, which was brought vp fay 
the lead from a great depQi, aflbrds our author, in 
his narrative, an opportunity of stating some intaf- 
esting facts respecting the colouring of plants, llii 
seaweed, growmg at the bottom of tte ocean at a 
depth of 305 feet, had ita vine-sli^;ied leavea as 
green as those of our gramines. Accordingto Btm* 
guer's experiments, light is weakened after a paaana 
of 198 feet, in the proportion of 1 to 1477*8. At ttia 
depth of 905 thia focus couki only have had ligkl 

*▲ dnriltfjncaeeli filled by Mr. A«Mr ta Uf << JnrhI tfftVMff 
thfoogliai»HliMtelioiiiitaiBi,*p.S08,to oeeur tn Mffund of tl» M 
proTinoM oTlDdto. **ItlittMwlatlov«rl1ieeoati7ftrilMaMtlM- 
MuidtoNNlMM Ml wUb flraoi IMT paMDli; and flw'HM tlMi 
TiriM or coons witlitlMniiktfttoponlMMr. TlMdiabaItj( 

IBC tkto tan. and iba allcfBd tapmm of m ri n tal iri iit ^ w— , maa 
BUM fbr, if k MnMC bm w, aiwMi dhHoatiBC vafiL wwk 

pah teoouit Jbr. if k Mnntc BM W,amoai dtagoatlBC — ««• 
uDlTavMl ofir IB0 MOittnr. Tluwar Ibworniora bractaai 
eohabit wiili om wonaii, wbo to tkt wUb of alL Thtjr m 
raiae the roqototia awn tndlTldvally, andtlraa oliilb iMr itmm,mi¥if 
thia -*• ■ " ■■ " — — ■■■ " 


^qiial to half of that suppHed by a candle seen at 
Che distance of a foot. The germs of several of 
the liliaceae, the embryo of the mallows and other 
faniilies, the branches of some subterranean plants, 
and vegetables transported into mines in which the 
air contains hydrogen or a great quantity of azote, 
become green without light. From these facts one 
mi^ be induced to think that the existence of car- 
buret of iron, which gives the green colour to the 
parenchmay of plants, is not dependent upon the 
presence of the solar rays only. Turner and many 
other botanists are of opinion that most of the sea- 
weeds which we find floating on the ocean, and which 
in certain parts of the Atlantic present the appear- 
ance of a vast inundated meadow, grow originally 
at Uie bottom of the sea, and are torn off by the 
waves. If this opinion be correct, the family of 
marine algae presents great difficulties to those pnysi- 
ologists who persist in thinking that, in all cases, 
the absence of light must produce blanching. 

The captain, having mistaken a basaltic rock for 
a castle, saluted it, and sent one of the officers to 
inquire if the English were cruising in those parts. 
Our travellers took advantage of the boat to examine 
the land, which they had regarded as a prolongation 
of the coasts of Lancerota, but which turned out to 
be the small island of La Chraciosa. " Nothing," 
says Humboldt, " can express the emotion a natu- 
ralist feels when for the first time he lands in a place 
which is not European. The attention is fixed upon 
so many objects, that one can hardly give an ac- 
count of the impressions which he receives. At 
every step he images that he finds a new produc- 
tion ; and in the midst of this agitation he often does 
not recognise those which are most common in our 
botanical gardens and museums." A fisherman, 
who, having been frightened by the firing, had fled 
ih>m them, but whom the sailors overtook, stated 
that no vessels had been seen for several weeks. 



The rockB of thin small island were of basalt and 
marl, destitute of trees or shrubs, in most places 
without a trace of soil, and bat scantily crusted with 

The basalts are not colunmar, but arran^d in 
strata from 10 to 16 inches thick, and incline to the 
north-west at an angle of 80 degrees, altematiiu: 
with marl. Some of these strata are compact, and 
contain large crystals of foliated olivine, often porous, 
with oblong cavities, from two to eight lines in di- 
ameter, which are coated with calcedbny, ai^ en- 
close fragments of compact basalt. The marl, whidi 
alternates more than a hundred times with the trqi, 
is of a yellowish colour, extremely friable, rery 
tenacious internally, and often divided into regular 
prisms like those of basalt. It cont^ns much urae, 
and effervesces strongly with muriatic acid. The 
travellers had not time to reach the summit of a hill, 
the base of which was formed of clay, with layers 
of basalt resting on it, precisely as in the Schneiben- 
berger Huegel of Saxony. These rocks were cov- 
ered with hyalite, of which they procured several 
fine specimens, leaving masses eight or ten inches 
square untouched. 

On the shore there were two kinds of sand, the 
one black and basaltic, the other wh^te and quartiv. 
Exposed to the sun's rays the thermometer rose m 
the former to 124*2^, and in the latter to 104^; wluls 
in the shade the temperatmre of the air was 81 *6^ 
being 14° higher than the sea air. The quartzy sand 
contains fragments of felspar. Pieces of granite 
have been observed at Teneriffe ; and the ishoid of 
Gomera, according to M. Broussonet, contains a nu- 
cleus of mica-slate. From these facts Humboldt 
infers that in the Canaries, as in the Andes of Quito, 
in Auvergne, Greece, and most parts of the globe, 
the subterranean fires have made their way throii|fa 
primitive rocks. 

Having re-embarked, they hoisted sail, and en- 


deavoured to get out again by the strait which sep- 
arates Alegranza from Montana Clara ; but, the wind 
having fallen, the currents drove them close upon a 
rock marked in old charts by the name of Infiemo, 
and in modem ones under that of Roca del Oeste, — 
a basaltic mass which has probably been raised by 
volcanic agency. Tacking during the night between 
Montana Clara and this islet, they were several 
times in great danger among shelves towards which 
they were drawn by the motion of the water ; but 
the wind freshening in the morning, they succeeded 
in passing the channel, and sailed along the coasts 
of Lancerota, Lobos, and Forteventura. 

The haziness of the atmosphere prevented them 
from seeing the Peak of Teneriffe during the whole 
of their passage from Lancerota ; but our traveller, 
in his narrative, states the following interesting cir- 
cumstances relative to the distance at which moun- 
tains may be seen. If the height of the Peak, he 
says, is 13,182 feet, as indicated by the last trigono- 
metrical measurement of Borda, its summit ought 
to be visible at the distance of 148 miles, supposing 
the eye at the level of the ocean, and the refraction 
equal to 0*079 of the distance. Navigators who fre- 
quent these latitudes find that the pes^s of Teneriffe 
md the Azores are sometimes observed at very great 
dutances, while at other times they cannot be seen 
when the interval is considerably less, although the 

Iriqf is clear. Such circumstances are of importance 
to navigators, who, in returning to Europe, impa- 
tiently wait for a sight of these mountains to rectify 
fteir longitude. The constitution of the atmosphere 
kB a great influence on the visibility of distant ob- 
Jacts, the transparency of the air being much in- 
creased when a certain quantity of water is uni- 
femdv diffused through it. 
It IB not surprising that the Peak of Teneriffe 
"Vodd be less frequently visible at a great distance 
the tops of the Andes, not being like them in- 


Vested with perpetual snow. The Sugar-loaf which 
(*onstitut('u the summit of the former no doubt re- 
flects a great degree of liglit, on account of the white 
colour of t)i(t pumice with which it is covered ; (mt 
its height does not form a twentieth part of the total 
elevation, and the; sides of the volcano are coated 
with blocks of dark-coloured lava, or with luxuriant 
vegetation, the masses of which reflect little Ught, 
the leaves of the trees being separated by shadowa 
of greater extent than the illummated parts. 

Hence tlnj Peak of Teneriffe is to be referred to 
tlie class of mountains which are seen at ^at dis- 
tances only in what Bouguer calls a negative man- 
ner, or l>ecause they intercept the light transmitted 
from the extreme limits of the atmosphere ; and we 
perceive their existence only by means of the dif- 
ference of intensity that subsists between the light 
which surrounds them, and that reflected by the par* 
tides of air placed between the object of vision and 
the observer. In receding from Teneriflb, the Sugar- 
loaf is long seen in a positive manner, as it reflects 
a whitish light, and detaches itself clearly from the 
sky ; but as this terminal cone is only 512 feet high, 
by 'J56 in breadth at its summit, it has been qnes- 
tioned whether it can be visible beyond the distance 
of 138 miles. If it be admitted that the mean breadth 
of the Sugar-loaf is 639^ feet, it will still subtend, at 
the <listance now named, an angle of more than three 
minutes, which is enough to render it visible ; and 
were the height of the cone greatly to exceed its 
basis, the angle might be still less, and the mass yet 
make an impression on our organs ; for it has been 
proved by micrometrical observations, that the limA 
of vision is one minute only when the dimenaioiii 
of objects are the same in all directions. 

As the visibility of an object, which detaches it- 
self from the sky of a brown colour, depends on tha 
quantities of light the eye meets in two lines, of 
which one ends at the mountain and the other is 


proloiiffed to the surface of the aerial ocean, it fol- 
lows that the farther we remove from the object 
the Ie0S also becomes the difference between the 
light of the surrounding atmosphere and that c^ the 
strata of air placed before the mountain. For this 
reason, when sununits of low elevation begin to ap- 
pear aboye the horizon, they are of a darker tint 
than those more elevated ones which we discover at 
very great distances. In like manner, the visibility 
of mountains which are only negatively perceived 
does not depend solely upon the state of the low 
regions of the air, to which our meteorological ob- 
servations are confined, but also upon its transpa- 
rency and physical constitution in the most elevated 
parts; for the image is more distinctly detached, 
the more intense the aerial light which comes from 
the limits of the atmosphere has originally been, or 
the less it has lost in its passage. This in a certain 
degree accounts for the circumstance that the Pe^ 
is sometimes visible and sometimes invisible to 
navigators who are equally distant from it, when 
the state of the thermometer and hygrometer is pre- 
cisely the same in the lower stratum of air. It is 
even probable that the chance of perceiving this 
TokwK) would not be greater were the cone equal, 
as in Vesuvius, to a fourth part of the whole height. 
The ashes spread upon its surface do not reflect so 
nrach liffht as the snow with which the summits of 
the Andes are covered ; but, on the contrary, make 
the mountain, when seen from a great distance, be- 
come more obscurely detached, and assume a brown 
tint. They contribute, as it were, to equalize the 
portions of aerial light, the variable dinerence of 
which renders the object more or less distinctly vis- 
ible. Bare calcareous mountains, summits covered 
with granitic sand, and the elevated savannas of the 
Andes, which are of a bright yellow colour, are more 
clearly seen at small distances than objects that are 
perceived only in a negative manner; but theory 

34 * florTA OEin. 

points out a Jimit bejrond which the lattar are man 
distinctly detached from the aznre vm^f the ricf. 

Tbs aerial tight projected on ihe tops 6f liilla^^ 
creases the yisU)ility of those which are eeen poift^ 
tively, but diminishes that of such' as are detwied 
with a brown colour. Bouguer, proceedinff on thao* 
retical data, has found that mountains which i 
negatively cannot be perceived at distances 
ing 131 miles ; but experience goes against this . 
elusion. The Peak of Teneiine has often heen ob* ': 
served at the distance of 184, 131, and even 118 
miles ; and the summit of Mowna-Roa in the Sand- 
wich Isles, which is probably 16,000 feet hi|^ hai 
been seen, at a period when it was destitute of snoWi 
skirting the horizon from a distance of 183 mitos. 
This is the most striking examide yet known of the 
visibility of high land, and is the more remaikaUe 
that the object was negatively seen. 

The atmosphere continuing hazy, the navigatofi , 
did not discover the island ,of Grand Canary, not-' 
withstanding its height, until the evening of the IM 
June. On the following day they saw the point of 
Naga, but the Peak of Teneriffe still remailied il- 
visible. After repeatedly sounding, on account of Ike 
thickness of the mist, they anchored in the road of 
Santa Cruz, when at the moment they began to saltfto 
the place the fog instantaneously dispersed, wad ^ 
Peak of Teyde, illuminated by the nrst rays o(M 
sun, appeared in a break above the douda. Ov 
travellers betook themselves to the bow of fhafis- 
sel to enjoy the majes^c spectacle, when, at theveit 
moment, lour Enjgfish ships were seen close asten. 
The anchor was immediately got up, a^d the Pinno 
stood in as close as possible, to place herself mte 
the protection of the fort. 

While waiting the governor's permission to hai^ 
Humboldt employed the time in making obsenratioiis 
for determining the longitude of the mole of Santa j 
Cruz and the dip of the needle. Berthoud's ciiro- * 

- X 


nomefer gave 18^ 33' 10", the accuracy of which re- 
sultt although differing from the lonntude assigned 
by Cook and others, was afterward confirmed by 
iumsenstem, who found that port 16° l^ 45" west 
of Greenwich, and consequently 18° 33' west of 
Paris. The dip of the magnetic needle was 62° 24', 
although it varied considerably in different places 
along the shore. After undergoing the fatigue of 
answering the numberless questions proposed by 
persons who visited them on board, our travellers 
were at length permitted to land. 


Island of Teneriffe. 

Suia Cruz— Villa de la Laguna—Guanches— Present Inhabitants of 
Teneriffe — Climate— Scenery of the Coast — OrotaYa— Dragon-tree — 
Aaeent of tbe Peak— Its Geological Character— Eruptions— Zones of 
Vegetatioa— Fires of St. John. 

Santa Cruz, the Anaja of the Guanchcs, which is 
a neat town, with a population of 8000 persons, may 
be considered as a great caravansera situated on the 
road to America and India, and has consequently 
been often described. The recommendations of the 
coort of Madrid procured for our travellers the most 
satisfactory reception in the Canaries. The cap- 
tain^neral gave permission to examine the island, 
and Colonel Armiaga, who commanded a regiment 
of infantry, extended his hospitality to them, and 
■bowed the most polite attention. In his garden 
HnBv admired the banana, the papaw, and other plants 
cotnvated in the open air, which they had before 
only in hothouses. 

Jn the evening they made a botanical excursion 

towwds the fmrt of Ptuno Alto, ak»j| Am \mmM 
rocks itUJeh'ChMn the promo uU i i y oipM ia, fautki 
litUe raiiBM, 88 the clr<rtigii$ ad.dni had a 
maBner dBftroyed the vegetatioiu- . The tiSMrfj 
]^eimaf Evmhoriia cawmmns, and other floooilBl 
plants, whid^ derive their nourishment aiore ttm 
the air than from the soil, reminded them bj .tM 
aspect diat the GanlEuries belong to Africa, and wm 
to tibe most arid part of that continent. 

Tlie <;aptaiB of the Pizarro, having qmrixed tiNi 
that, o«%Dcount of the blockade by the Enji^ 
they oi^riit not to i^eckcm upon a longer stay tbii 
•four or five days, they hastened to set out for te 
pent of Orotava, where they might find guids^ In 
the ascent of the Peak ; and on the S&h, befon 
sunrise, they were on the way to Villa de la Laffuni 
which is 3983 feet higher than the port of maiA 
Cruz. The road to Ais place is on the ri^ of \ 
torrent, which, in the rainy season, forms beantifii 
falls. Near the town they met with some wUti 
camels, employed in transporting ' merchandiM 
These animals, as well as horses, were iDtrodnoii 
into tiie Cana^ Islands in the fifteenth centn] 
by the Norman con()uerors, and were unknown t 

le Guanches. Camels are more abundant in 
cerota and Forteventura, which are nearer the 
tinent, than at Tenerifie, where they very seUoi 

The hill on which the Villa de la Laguna stanl 
belongs to the series of basaltic mountains wfaid 
forms a girdle around the Peak, and is indepoadfli 
of the newer volcanic rocks. The basalt on whid 
the travellers walked was blacki^-brown, conqiM) 
and partially decomposed. Tliey found iii it hon 
Uenae, olivme, and transparent pyroxene, with ]| 
mellar fracture, of an ouve-green tint, and olla 
crystallized in 'Six-sided prisms. The rock of b 
guna is not columnar, but divided into thin bedsi h 
clined at an angle of firom W to 48^, and has ■ 


«l|)pearance of having been formed by a current of 
lava fipom the Peak. Some arborescent Euphorbias, 
Cacalia kleinia, and Cacti, were the onlyplants ob- 
served on these parched acclivities. Tne mules 
slipped at eveiy step on the inclined surfaces of the 
rock although traces of an old road were observ- 
able, which, with the numerous other indications that 
occur in these colonies, afford evidence of the ac- 
tivity displayed by the Spanish nation in the six- 
teenth century. 

The heat of Santa Cruz, whicli is suffocating, is 
in a great measure to be attributed to the reverbera- 
tion of the rocks in its vicinity ; but as the travellers 
approached Laguna they became sensible of a very 
pleasant diminution of temperature. In fact, the 
perpetual coolness which exists here renders it a 
delightfal residence. It is situated in a small plain, 
sorrainded by gardens, and commanded by a hill 
crovmed with the laurel, the myrtle, and the arbutus. 
The rain, in collecting, forms from time to time a 
kind of large pool or marsh, which has induced 
travellers to describe the capital of Tcneriffe as 
situated on the margin of a lake. The town, which 
was deprived of its opulence in consequence of the 
poit or Garachico having been destroyed by the 
lateral eruptions of the volcano, has only 9000 in- 
habitants, of which about 400 are monks. It is sur- 
rounded by numerous windmills for corn. Hum- 
boklt observes that the cereal grasses were known 
to the original inhabitants, and that parched barley- 
floor and goats' milk formed their principal meals. 
This food tends to show that they were connected 
with the nations of the old continent, perhaps even 
with those of the Caucasian race, and not with the 
iidiabitants of the New World, who, previous to the 
arrival of the Europeans among them, had no know- 
ledge of grain, milk, or cheese. 

The Canary Islands were originally inhabited by 
a. people famed for their tall stature, and known by 



the name of Guanches. They have now ent 
disappeared under the oppression of a more poirav- 
ful aunl*more enlightened race, which, assonungtlie 
superiority supposed to be sanctioned by civilintian 
and the profession of the Christian faith, disponed 
of the natives in a manner little accordant wifb the 
character of a true follower of the Cross. The 
archipelago of the Canaries was divided into small 
states hostile to each other; and in the fifteenth 
century the Spaniards and Portuguese made voy- 
ages to these islands for slaves, as the Europeans 
have latterly been accustomed to do to the coast of 
Guinea. One Guanche then became the property 
of another, who sold him to the dealers; while 
many, rather than become slaves, killed their chil- 
dren and themselves. The natives had been greatly 
reduced in this manner, when Alonzo de Lugo com- 
pleted their subjugation. The residue of that un- 
happy people perished by a terrible pestilence, whidi 
was supposed to have originated from the bodies 
left exposed by the Spaniai^ after the battle of La- 
guna. At the present day no individual of pure 
blood exists in these islands, where all that remainB 
of the aborigines are certain mummies, reduced to 
an extraordmary degree of desiccation, and found 
in the sepulchral caverns which are cut in the tock 
on the eastern slope of the Peak. These skeletont 
contain remains of aromatic plants, especially the 
CItenopodium ambrosioides, and are often decorated 
with small laces, to which are suspended little cakes 
of baked earth. 

The people who succeeded the Guanches were de- 
scended from the Spaniards and Normans. The 
present inhabitants are described by our author as 
being of a moral and religious character, but of a 
roving and enterprising disposition, and less indus- 
trious at home than abroad. The population in 1790 
was 174,000. The produce of the several islands 
consists chiefly of wheat, barley, maize, potatoes, 


win6t a great rariety of fruits, sngar, and other ar- 
ticles of food ; but the lower orders are frequently 
oblkad to have recourse to the roots of a species 
of fern. The principal objects of commerce are 
wine, brandy, archil (a kind of lichen used as a die), 
and soda. 

TteneriiTe has been praised for the salubrity of its 
climate. The ground of the Canary Islands rises 
gradually to a great height, and presents, on a small 
scale, the temperature of every zone, from the in- 
tense heat of Africa to the cold of the alpine re- 
gions; so that a person may have the benefit of 
whatever climate best suits his temperament or dis- 
ease. A similar variety exists as to the vegetation ; 
and no country seemed to our travellers more fitted 
to dissipate melancholy, and restore peace to an 
agitated mind, than Teneriffe and Madeira, where 
the natural beauty of the situation and the salu- 
brity of the air conspire to quiet the anxieties of 
the spirit, and invigorate the body, while the feel- 
ings are not harassed by the revolting sight of 
slavery, which exists in almost all the European 

In winter the climate of Laguna is excessively 
foggy, and the inhabitants often complain of cold, 
although snow never falls. The lowest height at 
which it occurs annually in Teneriife has not been 
ascertained ; but it has been seen in a place lying 
above Esperanza de la Laguna, close to the town 
of that name, in the gardens of which the breadfruit- 
tree (Artocarpus incisa), introduced by M. Broussonet, 
has been naturalized. In connexion with this sub- 
ject, Humboldt remarks, that in hot countries the 
plants are so vigorous that they can bear a greater 
degree of frost than might be expected, provided it 
be of short duration. The banana is cultivated in 
Cuba, in places where the thermometer sometimes 
descends to very near the freezing-point; and in 
Spain and Italy, orange and date-trees do not perish, 

40 8CSNERT. 

although the cold may be two degrees below aeni. 
'Frees growing iti a fertile soil are remarked by cul- 
tivators to be less delicate, and less afiected by 
changes of temperature, than those planted in land 
that affords little nutriment. 

FroT^ Laguna to the port of Orotava and the 
western coast of Teneriffe the route is at first orer 
a hilly country, covered by a black argillaceous sofl. 
The subjacent rock is concealed by layers of fenm- 
ginous earth ; but in some of the ravines are seen 
columnar basalts, with recent conglomerates, re- 
sembling volcanic tufas lying over them, which con- 
tain fragments of the former, and also, as is asserted* 
marine petrifactions. This delightful country, of 
which travellers of all nations speak with entliii- 
siasm, is entered by the valley of Tacoronte, and pre- 
sents scenes of unrivalled beauty. The seashore is 
ornamented with palms of the date and cocoa spe- 
cies. Farther up, groups of mus» and dn^goa-trees 
present themselves. The declivities are covered 
with vines. Orange-trees, m3nrtles, and cypresses 
surround the chapels that have been raised on the 
little hills. The lands are separated by encloeuies 
formed of the agave and cactus. Multitudes of 
cryptogamic plants, especially ferns, cover ti^e walls. 
In winter, while the volcano is wrapped in soow, 
there is continued sprihg in this beautiful district; 
and in summer, towards evening, the sea-breeies 
diffuse a gentle coolness over it. From Tegueste 
and Tacoronte to the village of San Juan de la Ram- 
bla, the coast is cultivated like a garden, and mi^ht 
be compared to the neighbourhood of Capua orva- 
lentia ; but the Western part of Teneriffe is much 
more beautiful, on account of the proximity of the 
Peak, the sight of which has a most imposing eflfect. 
and excites the imagination to penetrate into the 
mysterious source of volcanic action. For thou* 
sands of years no light has been observed at the 
summit of the mountain, and yet enormous lateral 


' eruptions, the last, of which happened in 1798, prove 
the activity of a fire which is far from being extinct. 
There is, besides, something melancholy in the sight 
of a crater placed in the midst of a fertile and highly- 
cultivated country. 

Furstdng their comtie to the port of Orotava, the 
travellers passed the beautiful hamlets of Matanza 
and Yittona (slaughter and victory), — names which 
occur together in all the Spanish colonies, and pre- 
sent a disagreeable contrast to the feelings of peace 
and quiet which these countries inspire. On their 
way they visited a botanic garden at Durasno, where 
they found M. Le Gros, the French vice-consul, who 
subsequently served as an excellent guide to the 
Peidc. The idea of forming such an establishment 
at Teneriffe originated with the Marquis de Nava, 
who thou^t that the Gansuy Islands afford the most 
suitable juace for naturalizing the plants of the East 
and West Indies, previous to their introduction to 
Europe. They arrived very late at the port, and 
next morning commenced their journey to the Peak, 
accompanied by M. Le Gros, M. Lalande, secretary 
of the French consulate at Santa Cruz, the English 
gardener of Durasno, and a number of guides. 

Orotava, the Taoro of the Guanches, is situated 
OD a very steep declivity, and has a pleasant aspect 
when viewed from a distance, although the houses, 
when seen at hand, have a gloomy appearance. One 
of the most remarkable objects in this place id the 
dragon-tree in the garden of M. Franqui, of which 
an engraving is here presented, and which our 
tnnreUers found to be about 60 feet high, with a cir- 
cmnference of 48 feet near the roots. The trunk 
diwides into a great number of branches, which rise 
in the form of a candelabrum, and are terminated by 
tofta of leaves. This tree is said to have been re- 
vered by the Guanches as the ash of Ephesus was 
hf the Greeks ; and in 1403, at the time of the first 
aipedition of Bethencour, was as large and as hollow 



tiN our trnvi'llcTN foiiiul it. Asthe npRcif^siBof mr 
>ilow|;rDwUi,tlii!iiKoc)rtliiH ituUviilunl munt be ptU- 
It in Hiiipiliir that the (Iriififln-treK nhould have ben 
niltiviitcxl in Wvtm ulaxidn at bo oarly n period, h 
heiiiK ii nntivn of Iiiiliii, aiiil iiawhore occurring on 
tliR Afrlnnti <:()ntiiiiMil. 

Iii.»tviii|[ OrotiiTii thoy iwutscd by a narrow md 
stony patli through a brnutifitl wow) of chestiiDta l> 
11 placo covonid with hnunbles,laurcle,and arlxnti- 
(Wnt liontliH, whore, iindrr n iio)itnry pino, knownbj 
the name nf ]>ino del IhimiLJito, thi^y procund > 
supply of wat<w. Prom thin place to tho crater Uwf 
continued to ascend without t^ronHiii); a einrie vallA 
pnxHiu); over HOvers) rcrionH diHtinfruinhed by thar 
peinliar vej(«tatioii, and rfletwl during part of Ihi 
night in a very elevated pOHition, where they sufltei' 


5ieTerely from the cold. About three in the morn- 
ing they began to climb the Sugar-loaf, or small 
terminal cone, by the dull light of fir-torches, and ex- 
amined a small subterranean glacier or cave, whence 
the towns below are supplied with ice throughout 
the summer. 

In the twilight they observed a phenomenon not 
unusual on high mountains, — a stratum of white 
clouds spread out beneath, concealing the face of the 
ocean, and presenting the appearance of a vast plain 
covered with snow. Soon afterward another very 
curious^ flight occurred, namely, the semblance of 
small tickets thrown into the air, and which they 
at first imagined to be a certain indication of some 
new eruption of the great volcano of Lancerota. 
But the illusion soon ceased, and they found that the 
luminous points were only the images of stars mag- 
nified and refracted by the vapours. They remained 
motionless at intervals, then rose perpendicularly, 
descended sidewise, and returned to their original 
position. After three hours' march over an ex- 
tremely rugged tract, the travellers reached a small 
plain, callM La Rambleta, from the centre of which 
rises the Piton or Sugar-loaf. The slope of this 
cone, covered with volcanic ashes and pumice, is so 
steep that it would have been almost impossible to 
reach the summit, had they not ascended by an old 
current of lava, which had in some measure resisted 
the action of the atmosphere. 

On attaining the top of this steep they found the 
crater snrroimded by a wall of compact lava, in 
which, however, there was a breach affording a pas- 
sage to the bottom of the funnel or caldera, the 
greatest diameter of which at the mouth seemed to 
be 320 feet. There were no large openings in the 
crater ; but aqueous vapours were emitted by some 
of the crevices, in which heat was perceptible. In 
fact, the volcano has not been active at the summit 
for thousands of years, its eruptions having been 


from the sides, and the depth of the crater is only 
about 106 feet. After examining the objects that 
presented themselves in this elevated spot, and en- 
joying^ the vast prospect, the travellers commenced 
their descent, and tovirards evening reached the port 
of Orotava. 

The Peak of Teneriffe forms a pyramidal mass, 
having a circumference at the base of more thaa 
115,110 yards, and a height of 12,176 feet* Two- 
thirds of the mass are covered with vegetation, the 
remaining part being steril, and occapjring abont 
ten square leagues of surface. The cone ia ymrj 
small in proportion to tlie size of the mountaiftg it 
having a height of only 537 feet, or ^5 of the whola. 
The lower part of the island is composed of baaaK 
and other igneous rocks of ancient formation, and ii 
separated from the more recent lavas, and the pro- 
ducts of the present volcano, by strata of tufa, pni- 
zolana, and clay. The first that occur in ascenaing 
the Peak are of a black colour, altered by decom- 
position, and sometimes porous. Their baaia is 
wacke, and has usually an irregular, but sometimei 
a conchoidal fracture. They are divided into jm 
tliin layers, and contain olivine, mac^etic iron, and 
augite. On the first elevated plain, that of Retamif 
the basaltic deposites disappear beneath heaps of 
ashes and pumice. Beyond this are lavas, witt 
a basis of pitch-stone and obsidian, of a blackiili- 
brown, or deep olive-green colour, and containnv 

* Varioas meamireroents have been made of Um beigtat of the V^Hkrf 
Teneriffb ; but Humboldt, after enumerating fourteen, states tim dMil 
lowing alone can be considered aa deaenriog of confldeikce : 

Borda>, by trigonometry 1005 toises. 

Borda'a, by the barometer 1970 

I.amaiiou's, by the same lOOS 

Cordier's, by the same 1990 

The ayerage of these four obsenratlons makes the height lOM I 
but if the barometric measurement of Borda be rejected, as llsbls 
jections particularly stated by our author, the mean of the if 
measurement is 1900 toises, or 13,906 English feet. It ia sasn AM 
that the height adopted by Humboldt is 1004 toises, or NLlTS I^S 
feet. ' 


li of felspar, which are seldom vitreous. In 
iddle of the Malpays, or second platfornii are 
among the glassy kinds, blocks of greenish- 
linkstone or porphyry-slate. Obsidian of sev- 
meties is exceedingly abundant on the Peak, 
11 as pumice, the latter being generally of a 
colour ; and the crater contains an enormous 
ty of sulphur. 

oldest written testimony in regard to the ac-» 
of the volcano dates at the beginning of the 
nth century, and is contained in the narrative 
»]r8io Gadamusto, who landed in the Canaries 
15. In 1558, 1646, and 1677, eruptions took 
m the Isle of Palma ; and on the 31st Decem- 
'04, the Peak of Teneriflfe exhibited a lateral 
preceded by tremendous earthquakes. On 
i Januarv, 1705, another opening occunred, the 
produced by which filled the whole vaUey of 
u This aperture closed on the 13th January ; 
. the 3d February, a third formed in the Can- 
le Arafo, the stream from which divided into 
currents. On the 5th May, 1706, another 
m supervened, which destroyed the populous 
•olent city of Garachico. In 1730, on toe Ist 
aber, the island of Lancerota was violently 
sed; and on the 9th June, 1798, the Peak 
d a great quantity of matter, which continued 
three months and six days, 
island of Teneriffe presents five zones of vege- 
arranged in stages one above another, and 
ring a perpendicular height of 3730 yards, 
'he Region of Vines extends from the shores to 
vation varying from 430 to 640 yards, and is 
ly part carefully cultivated. It exhibits vari- 
;cies of arborescent Euphorbiae, Mesembryan- 
the Cacalia kleinia, the Dracoena, and other 
whose naked and tortuous trunks, succulent 
, and bluish-green tints, constitute features 
tive of the vegetation of Africa. In this 


zone are raised the date-tree, the plaotam, the 81Ij|if< 
cane, the Jndian-fig, the arum colocasia, the oawtt 
the fruit trees of Europe, the vine, and whrat. 

2. The Region of Laurels is that which forms tlie ^ 
woody part of Teneriffe, where the surface of Hie 
ground is alw^ verdant, being plentifully watered 
by springs. Four kinds of laurel, an cik, a wfld 
olive, two species of iron-tree, the arbotos calli- 
carpa, and other evergreens, adorn this some. Hw 
trunks are covered by the ivy of the Catmies, and 
various twining shrubs, and the woods are filled with 
numerous species of fern. The hypericum, md 
other showy plants, enrich with their beautiful ilow- 
ers the verdant carpet of moss and grass. 

3. The Region of Pines, which. commences at the 
height of 1920 ysurds, and has a breadth of 860, is 
characterized by a vast forest of trees, resembling 
the Scotch fir, intermixed with juniper. 

4. The fourth zone is remarkable chiefly for the 
profusion of retama, a species of broom, which 
forms oases in the midst of a wide sea of ashes. It 
grows to the height of nine or ten feet, is ornamented 
with fragrant flowers, and furnishes food to the 
goats, which have run wild on the Peak from time 

5. The fifth zone is the Region of the ChassesrUk 
which some species of these supply a scanty cover- 
ing to the heaps of pumice, obsidian, and lava. A 
few cryptogamic plants are observed hi^er; but 
the summit is entirely destitute of vegetation. 

Thus the whole island may be considered as a 
forest of laurels, arbutuses, and pines, of which the 
external margin only has been in some measine 
cleared, while the central part consists of a rocky 
and steril soil, unfit even for pasturage. 

The following day was passed by our travellers in 
visiting the neighbourhood of Orotava, and entor- 
ing an aneeable company at Mr. Cologan's. Oa 
the eve of St. John, they were present at a pastorsl 


f6te in the garden of Mr. Little, who had reduced to 
cultivaftion a hill covered with volcanic substances, 
from which there is a magnificent view of the Peak, 
the TiUages along the coast, and the isle of Palnia. 
Early in the evening the volcano suddenly exhibited 
a most extraordinary spectacle, the shepherds hav- 
ing, in conformity to ancient custom, lighted the 
fires of St. John ; the scattered masses of which, 
with the columns of smoke driven by the wind, 
formed a fine contrast to the deep verdure of the 
woods that covered the sides of the mountain, while 
the silence of nature was broken at intervals by the 
shouts of joy which came from afar. 


Passage from Tctieriffc to Cutnana. 

Deptrture tnm SanU Cruz— Floating Seaweeds— Flying-fish— Stars— 
Mulifiiant Fever— Island uf 'l'ol)ago— Death of a Passeniter— Inland 
of Gocbe— Port of Cumaua—Observationa made during the Voyage; 
Temperature of the Air ; Toniperature of the Sea ; Hygrometrical 
Stale of the Air ; (Joiour of the Sky and Ocean. 

Having sailed from Santa Cruz on the evening of 
the 25th of June, with a strong wind from the north- 
east, our travellers soon lost sight of the Canary 
Islands, the mountains of which were covered with 
reddish vapour, the Peak alone appearing at intervals 
in the breaks. The passage from Teneriffe to Cu- 
mana was performed in twenty days, the distance 
being 3106 miles. 

The wind gradually subsided as they retired from 
the African coast. Short calms of several hours 
occasionally took place, which were regularly inter- 
rupted by slight squalls, accompanied by masses of 
dark clouds, emitting a few large drops of rain, but 


without thunder. To the north of the .Cape Veid 
Islands they met with lar^ patches of floating Ma- 
weed (Fucus natans), which grows on suhmanne 
rocks, from the equator to forty degrees of latitude 
on either side. These scattered plants,, however, 
must not be confounded with the vast beds, said 
by ColumbuH to resemble extensive meadows, and 
which inHpin;d with terror the crow of the Santa 
Maria. From a comparison of numerous Journals, 
it appears that there are two such fields of seaweed 
in the Atlantic. The larf^est occurs a little to the 
west of the meridian of Fayal, one of the Azores, 
between 25° and 36° of latitude. The temperature 
of the ocean there is between 60'8° and 68° ; and 
the north-west winds, which blow sometimes with 
impetuosity, drive floating islands of those weeds 
into low latitudes, as far as the parallels of 04° and 
even 20°. Vessels returning to Europe from Monte 
Video, or the Cape of Good Hope, pass through this 
marine meadow, which the Spanish pilots conauier 
as lying half-way between the West Indies and the 
Canaries. The other section is not so weU known, 
and occupies a smaller space between lat. 93° and 
26° of N., two hundred and seventy-six miles east- 
ward of the Bahama Islands. 

Although a spcjcies of seaweed, the Ijominaria pif' 
rifera of Lamouroux, has been observed with stems 
850 feet in length, and although the growth of these 
plants is exceedingly rapid, it is yet certain that in 
those seas the fuci are not fixed to the bottom, but 
float in detached parcels at the surface. In tlu^ 
state, vegetation, it is obvious, cannot continue longnr 
than in the branch of a tree separated from tw 
tnmk ; and it may therefore be supposed, that ilotft* 
ing masses of these weeds occurring for a^ea in the 
same position, owe their origin to submanne rocto 
which continually supply what has been carried off 
by the equinoctial currents. But the causes faj 
which these plants are detached are not yet rafr 



ciently known, although the authoi' just named has 
shown that fuel in general separate with great facil- 
ity after the period of fructification. 

Beyond 22° of latitude they foimd the surface of 
the sea covered with flying-fish (Exoceius voHtans), 
which sprang into the air to a height of twelve, fif- 
teen, and even eighteen feet, and sometimes fell on 
the deck. The great size of the swimming-bladder 
in these animals, being two-thirds the length of their 
body, as well as that of the pectoral fins, enable 
them to traverse in the air a space of twenty-four 
feet, horizontal distance, before falling again into the 
water. They are incessantly pursued by dolphins 
while under the surface, and when flying are attacked 
by frigate-birds, and other predatory species. Yet 
it does not seem that they leap into the atmosphere 
merely to avoid their enemies ; for, like swallows, 
they move by thousands in a right line, and always in 
a direction opposite to that of the waves. The air 
contained in the swimming-bladder had been sup- 
posed to be pure oxygen ; but Humboldt foimd it to 
consist of ninety-four parts of azote, four of oxygen, 
and two of carbonic acid. 

On the 1st July they met with the wreck of a ves- 
sel, and on the 3d and 4th crossed that part of the 
ocean where the charts indicate the bank of the 
Maal-Stroom, which, however, is of very doubtful 
existence. As they approacrlied this imaginary whirl- 
pool, they observed no other motion in the waters 
than that produced by a current bearing to the north- 

From the time when they entered the torrid zone 
(the 37th June), they never ceased to admire the 
nocturnal beauty of tho southern sky, which grad- 
ually disclosed new constellations to their view. 
" One experiences an indescribable sensation," says 
Humboldt, " when, as he approaches the equator, and 
especially in passing from the one hemisphere to the 
other, he sees the stars with wliich he has been fa- 



miliar from.iiifeflcy gradually i^roach the horina» 
and finally disappear. Nothing impressee move 
vividly on the mind of the traveller the vast dis* 
tance to which he has been remoVed from his mthro 
country: than the sight of a new firmament. TIak 
grouping of the larger stars, the scattered nebote 
rivallkig in lustre the milky-way, and Sjrfaoes n* 
markable for their extreme darkness, give the aoafb- 
em heavens a peculiar aspect. The aigiit even 
strikes the imagination of those who, although uno- 
rant of astronomy, find pleasure in contemplKiBg 
the celestial vault, as one admires a fine lanfecme 
or a majestic site. Without being a botanisft, w, 
traveUer knows the torrid zone by the mere ngfaiof 
its vegetation ; and without the possession of asbo- 
nomical knowledge, perceives that he is not in Eu- 
rope, when he sees rmfij^ in the horizon the gmt 
constellation of thejihip, or the phosphoresiMnk 
clouds of Magellan. In the equinoctial regione, tlw 
earth, the sky, and all their garniture assume n 
exotic character." 

The intertropical seas being usually smoothy and 
the vessel being impelled by the gentle breeiee of 
the trade-wind, the passage from the Cape Verd . 
Islands to Cumana was as pleasant as coum be de* 
sired ; but as they approached the West Indies a 
malignant fever disclosed itself on board. The riup 
was very much encumbered between decks, and firdB 
the time they passed the tropic the thermcmeiHr 
stood from 93° to 96*8°. Two sailors, several pi9- 
sengers, two negroes from the coast of Guinea, wA 
a mulatto child were attacked. An ignorant.Galicta 
surgeon ordered bleedings, to obviate the *'heat aiA 
corruption of the blood ;" but little exertion hadbeai 
made in attempting to diminish the danger of ihfee- 
tion, and there was not an ounce of bark on boaid. 
A sailor, who had been on the point of expiring, ve- 
covered his health in a singular manner. HisnHe* 
mock having been so hung that the sacrameat oai 


liot be administered to him, he was removed to an 
airy place near the hatchway, and left there, his 
death being expected every moment. The transi- 
tion from a hot and stagnant to a fresher and purer 
atmosphere gradually restored him, and his recovery 
famished the doctor with an additional proof of the 
necessity of bleeding and evacuation, — a treatment 
of which the fatal effects soon became perceptible. 

On the 13th, early in the morning, very highland 
was seen. The wind blew hard, the sea was rough, 
large drops of rain fell at intervals, aiid t&ere was 
every appearance of stormy weather. Considerable 
doubt existed as to the latitude and longitude, which 
was however removed by observations made by our 
travellers, and the appearance of the island of To- 
f^ago. This Uttle island is a heap of rOcks, the daz- 
zling whiteness of which forms an agreeable contrast 
with the verdure of the scattered tufts of trees upon 
it. The mountains are * crowned with very lall 
opontiae, which alone are enough to apprize the nav- 
igator that he has arrived on an American coast. 

After doubling the north cape of Tobago and the 
point of St. Giles, they discovered from the mast- 
head what they regarded as a hostile squadron; 
which, however, turned out to be only a group of 
rocks. Crossing the shoal which joins the former 
island to Grenada, they found that, although the 
colour of the sea was not visibly changed, the ther- 
mometer indicated a temperature several degrees 
lower than that of the neighbouring parts. The 
wind diminished after sunset, and the clouds dis^ 
pereed ^s the moon reached the zenith. Numerous 
falling-stars were seen on this and the following 

On the 14th, at sunrise, they were in sight of the 
Bocca del Drago, and distinguished the island of 
Chacachacarreo. When seventeen miles distant from 
the coast, they experienced, near Puuta de la Baca, 
the effect of a current wliich drew the ship southward. 


Heaving the lead, they found from 230 to 275 feet 
with a bottom of very fine preen clay, — a doptl 
much less than, according to Dampier's rule, mighl 
have been expected in the vicinity of a shore fonne<i 
of very elevated and perpendicular mountains. 

The disease which hacl broken out on board the 
Pizarro made rapid progress from the time they ap 
proached the coast. The thermometer kept steacQF 
at night between 7r6° and 73'4^, and during the day 
rose to between 75-2*^ and 80*6*^. The determination 
to the head, the extreme dryness of the skin, the 
prostration of strength, and all the other symptoms 
became more alarming ; but it was hoped that the 
sick would recover as soon as they were landed on 
the island of St. Margaret, or at the port of Cumaiuit 
both celebrated for their great salubrity. This hope, 
however, was not entirely realized, for one of the 
passengers fell a victim to the distemper. He was 
an Asturian, nineteen years of age, the only son of 
a poor widow. Various circumstances combined to 
render the death of this young man affecting.. Hf 
was of an exceedingly gentle disposition, bore Hb 
marks of great sensibility, and had left his nativ 
land against his inclination, with the view of ean 
ing an independence and assisting his reluctai 
motlier, under the protection of a ric*h relation, wl 
resided in the island of Cuba. From the commenc 
ment of his illness he liad fallen into a lethaiy 
state, interrupted by accessions of delirium, and 
the third day expired. Another Asturian, who i 
still younger, did not leave the bed of liis dj 
friend for a moment, and yet escaped the dise 
He had intended to accompany his countrymai 
Cuba, to be introduced by nim to tlie house o/ 
relative, on whom all their liopcs rested ; and it 
distressing to see his deep sorrow, and to heai 
curse the fatal counsels wliicli had thrown hin 
a foreign climate, where he found himself aloi} 

Malignant fkvkr. 53 

" We were assemblpd on the deck," says our elo- 
quent author, " absorbed in melancholy reflections 
It was no longer doubtful that the fever which pre- 
vailed on board had of late assumed a fatal character. 
Our eyes were fixed on a mountainous and desert 
coast, on which the moon shone at intervals through 
the clouds. The sea, gently agitated, glowed with 
a feeble phosphoric light. No sound came on the 
ear save the monotonous cry of some large seabirds, 
that seemed to be seeking the shore. A deep calm 
reigned in these solitary places ; but this calm of ex- 
ternal nature accorded ill with the painful feelings 
which agitated us. About eight the death-bell was 
slowly tolled. At this doleful signid the sailors 
ceased from their work, and threw themselves on 
their knees to offer up a short prayer ; an affecting 
ceremony, which, while it recalls tlie times when 
the primitive Christians considered themselves as 
members of the same family, seems to unite men by 
the feeling of a common evil. In the course of the 
night the body of the Asturian was brought upon 
deck, and the priest prevailed upon them not to 
throw it into the sea till after sunrise, in order that 
he might render to it the last rites, in conformity to 
the practice of the Romish church. There was not 
an individual on board who did not feel for the fate 
of this young man, whom we had seen a few days 
before full of cheerfulness and health." 

The passengers who had not been affected by the 
disease resolved to leave the ship at the first place 
where she should touch, and there wait the arrival 
of another packet to convey them to Cuba and 
Mexico. Our travellers also thought it prudent to 
land at Cumana, more especially as they wished not 
to visit New Spain until they had remained for some 
time on the coasts of Venezuela and Paria, and ex- 
amined the beautiful plants of which Bosc and Bre- 
demeyer collected specimens on tlicir voyage to 
Terra Fir ma, and which Humboldt had seen in the 

E 2 


gardens of Schdnbrann and Vienna. This r^solutio 
had a happy influence upon the direction of thei 
journey, as will subsequently be seen, and perhap 
was the occasion of securing for them the healt 
which they enjoyed during a long residence in th 
equinoctial regions. They were by this means foi 
tunate enough to pass the time when a Europea 
recently landed runs the greatest danger of beia 
affected by the yellow fever, in the hot but very dr 
climate of Cumana, a city celebrated for its salubrih 
As the coast of Paria stretches to the west, in t£ 
form of perpendicular cliffs of no great height, the; 
were long without perceiving the bold shores of th' 
' island of St. Margaret, where they intended to sto] 
for the purpose of obtaining information respectinj 
the English cruisers. Towards eleven in the mom 
ing of the 15th, they observed a very low islet cov 
ered with sand, and destitute of any trace of cultun 
or habitation. Cactuses rose here and there from) 
scantgr soil, which seemed to have an undulating mo 
tion, in consequence of the extraordinary refractioi 
the solar rays undergo in passing through the stra 
tiun of air in contact with a strongly-heated surface 
The deserts and sandy shores of sdl countries pre 
sent this appearance. The aspect of this place nol 
cotresponding with the ideas which they had formed 
of the island of M argaretta, and the greatest per- 
plexity existing as to their position and course, me} 
cast anchor in shallow water, and were visited b% 
some Guayquerias in two canoes, constructed eaci 
of the single trunk of a tree. These Indians, who 
were of a coppery colour, and very tall, informed 
them that they had kept too far south, that the Ion 
islet near which they were at anchor was the island 
of Coche, and that Spanish vessels coming from Eu- 
rope usually passed to the northward of it. The 
master of one of the canoes oflered to remain on 
board as coasting pilot, and towards evening Uie 
captain set sail. 


On the 16th they beheld a verdant coast of pictu- 
res^ appearance ; the mountains of New- Anda- 
lusia bounded the southern horizon, and the city of 
Cumana and its castle appeared among ^oups of 
trees. They anchored in the port about mne in the 
morning, when the sick crawled on deck to enjoy 
the sight. The river was bordered with cocoa- 
trees more than sixty feet high, — the plain was cov- 
ered with tulls of cassias^' capers, and arborescent 
mimosas, while the pinnated leaves of the palms 
were conspicuous on the azure of a sky unsullied 
by the least trace of vapour. A dazzling light was 
spread along the white hills clothed with cylindrical 
cactuses, and over the smooth sea, the shores of 
which were peopled by pelicans, egrets, and flamin- 
goes. Every thing announced the magnificence of 
nature in the equinoctial regions. 

Before accompanying our learned friends to the 
city of Cumana, we may here take a glance of the 
physical observations made by them during the 
voyage, and which refer to the temperature of the 
air and sea, and other subjects of general interest. 

Temperature of the Air. — In the basin of the 
northern Atlantic Ocean, between the coasts of Eu- 
rope* Africa, and America, the temperature of the 
atmosphere exhibits a very slow increase. From 
Gorunna to the Canary Islands, the thermometer, 
observed at noon and m the shade, gradually rose 
from 50^ to 64°, and from Teneriffe to Cumana from 
64® to 7>°. The maximum of heat observed during 
the voyage did not exceed 79 '9°. 

The extreme slowness with which the tempera- 
ture increases during a voyage from Spain to South 
America is highly favourable to the health of Eu- 
ropeans, as it gradually prepares them for the intense 
heat which they have to experience. It is in a 
great measure attributable to the evaporation of the 
water, augmented by the motion of the air and 
waves, together with the property possessed by 

66 Tinp^RATmic wmsQ tab tovaos* 


transparent liquids Df absoitnnff very little ligfat^ al 
their surface. On companng the nnmeioiiB obaer* 
vations made by navigatori^; we are surprised to see 
that in the torrid zone, in either hemisphere, fhey 
have not found the thermometer to rise m the OMU 
sea above 93^; while in corresponding latitiidai 
on the continents of Asia and Africa, it attaiiis t 
much greater elevation. The difference between 
the temperature of the May and night is also hm 
than on land. 

Temperature of the Sea. — ^From Conmna to fl» 
mouth of the Tagus, the temperature of the sea 
varied little (between 59° and 60*8°), but firom laL 
39° to 10° N., the increase was rapid a^ genenll^ 
uniform (from 59° to 78*4°), although inequalitieB 
occurred, probably caused by currents. It is veiy 
remarkable that there is a great uniformitjr in tlis. 
maximum of heat everywhere in the eqoinoetisl 
waters. sThis maximum, which varies from 89^ to 
84*2°, proves that the ocean is in general wanner 
than the atmosphere in direct contact with it, and 
of which the mean temperature near the equator is 
from 78*8° to 80*6°. 

Hygrometrical State of the Air. — During the whole 
of the voyage, the apparent humidity of the atmo- 
sphere indicated by the hygrometer underwent a sei^ 
sible increase, in July, in lat. 13° and 14® N*i 
Saussure's hygrometer marked at sea from 88® to 
' 92°, in perfectly clear weather, the thermomelHr 
being at 75*2°. On the banks of the Lake of Ge-' 
neva the mean humidity of the same month is oidty 
80°, the average heat being 66*2°. On rednciM 
these observsttions to a uniform temppratore, weflna 
that the real humidity in the equinoctial bann of die 
Atlantic Ocean is to that of the summer nfonthe at 
Geneva as 12 to 7. This astonishing degree oC 
moisture in the air accounts to a great Octant for the 
vigorous vegetation Which presents itself on tkl 

COLOim OF THE SET. . 57 

coasts of South America, where so little rain falls 
throqgfaoat the year. 

Intensity of the CoUmr of the Sky and Ocean, — 
From ttie coasts of Spain and Africa to those of 
Sooth America, the azure colour of the sky increased 
from 13° to 23° of Saussure's cyanometer. From 
the 8th to the 12th of July, in lat. 12^° and 14° N., 
the sky, although free of vapour, was of an extra- 
ordinaiy paleness, the instrument indicating only 16° 
or 17°, although on the preceding days it had been at 
83°. The tint of the sky is generally deeper in the 
torrid zone than in high latitudes, and in the same 
parallel it is fainter at sea than on land. The latter 
circumstance may be attributed to the quantity of 
aqueous vapour which is continually rising towards 
the higher regions of the air from the surface of the 
sea. nom the zenith to the horizon, there is in all 
latitudes a diminution of intensity, which follows 
neaurly an arithmetical progression, and depends upon 
the moisture suspended in the atmosphere. If the 
c3raiiometer indicate this accumulation of vapour in 
the more elevated portion of the air, the seaman 
possesses a simpler method of judging of the state 
of its lower regions, by observing the colour and 
figm« of the solar disk at its rising and setting. In 
the torrid zone, where meteorological phenomena 
follow each other with great regularity, the prog- 
nostics are more to be depended upon than in north- 
ern regions. Great paleness of the setting sun, and 
an extraordinary disfiguration of its dis£, almost 
certainly presage a storm ; and yet one can hardly 
conceive now the condition of the lower strata of 
the air, which is announced in this manner, can be 
so intimately connected with those atmospherical 
changes that take place within the space of a few 

Mariners are accustomed to observe the appear- 
ances of the sky more carefully than landsmen, and 
among the numerous meteorological niles which 

68 coLova or THE tauHb 

pilots transmit to each other, several evince greal 
sagacity. Prognostics are also in. general leas ooh 
certain on the ocean, and especially in the eqniiMM- 
tial pa^ of it,* than on land, where lite inetjoalilka 
of the ground interrupt the regularity of th«r mam- 

' Humboldt also apphed the cjranometer to measiiie 
the colour of the sea. In fine calm weather, tbe 
tint was found to be equ^ to 33°, 38°, sometinMi 
even 44° of xthe instrument, although the slpfwas 
very pale, and scarcely attained 14° or 15°. Whflii, 
instead of directing the apparatus to a great exteflt 
of open sea, the ol^erver fises his eyes on a anall 
part of its surface viewed through a narrow ape^ 
ture, the water ai^ars of aiich ifltramarine oomv. 
Towards evening again, when the edge of the wifWi 
as the sun shines upon them, is of an emerald-greflPi 
the surface of the shaded side reflects a prnple liMi 
Nothing is more striking than the rapid chiQget 
which the colour of the sea undergoes under a dear 
«ky, in the midst of the ocean and in deep wit«v 
when it may be seen passing from indigo-bloe to the 
deepest green, and from this to slate-gray. The 
blue is a£nost independent of the reflection of the 
atmosphere. The mtertropical seas are in fleneial 
of a deeper and purer tint than in high latitu&a, ni 
the ocean often remains blue, when, in fine weatfao^ 
more than four-fifths of the sky are covered with 
light and scattered clouds of a white colour. 




LMdiag at Cumana— Introduction to the Ooveraor— State of the Sick— 
Dcmiption of the Country and City of Cumana— Mode of Bathing in 
the MBiiaanare»— Port of Cumana— Earthquakes ; Their Periodicity ; 
— n e x ion with the State of the Atmosphere ; Gaseous Emanations ; 
SoblCTraneaa Noises; Propagation of Shocks; Connexion between 
I oT Cumana and the West Indies ; and general Phenomena. 

The city of Cumana, the capital of New-Andalu- 
oa, is a mile distant from the landing-place, and in 
proceeding towards it our travellers crossed a large 
saoody plain, which separates the suburb inhabited 
by the Guayqueria Indians from the seashore. The 
excessive heat of the atmosphere was increased by 
the reflection of the sun's rays from a naked soil, 
the thermometer immersed in which rose to 99*9®. 
In the little pools of salt water it remained at 86*9°, 
wfiile the surface of the sea in the port generally 
ranges from 77*4° to 79*3°. The first plant gathered 
by &iem was the Avicennia tomentosa, which is re- 
markable for occurring also on the Malabar coast, 
and belongs to the small number that live in society, 
like the heaths of Europe, and are seen in the torrid 
zone only on the shores of the ocean and the ele- 
vated platforms of the Andes. 

Crossing the Indian suburb, the streets of which 
were very neat, they were conducted by the captain 
of the Pizarro to the governor of the province, Don 
Vicente Emparan, who received them with frank- 
Bess; expressed his satisfaction at the resolution 
[. irhich they had taken of remaining for some time 
in New- Andalusia ; showed them cottons died with 
Bitive plants, and furniture made of indigenous vjocA', 
ind surprised them with qucstiox\s mdica\.vv© ol 



scientific atts^inments. ^ On disembarking their ftl- 
struments, they had the pleasure oif^finding tint am 
of them had been damaji^ed^ They hired a ■pa ci fl i l 
house in a situation- favourable for astronoiiiiMi 
observations, in which they enjoyed an agreedblp 
coohiess when the breeze arose, the windows bekif 
without glass, or even the paper panes whioh «• 
often substituted for it at Cumana. 

The passengers all left the vessel. Those lAo 
had been attacked by the fever recovered lO veiy 
slowly, that some were seen a month after vbl^ 
notwithstanding the care bestowed upon thmn tgr 
their countrymen, were still in a state of e x t i ene 
debility. The hospitality of the inhabitanta of the 
Spanish colonies is such that the poorest stmfv.ii 
sure of reqeiving the kindest treatment. Ajmh 
the sick landed here was a negro, who soon USk vm 
a state of insanity and' died; which fact our vMui 
mentions, as a proof that persons bom in titte tonH 
zone are liable to sulTer from the heat of the tiopici 
after having resided in temperate climatos. TUl 
individual, who was a robust young man, was ansfebl 
of Guinea, but had lived for some years on the dl- 
vated plain of Castile. 

The soil around Cumana is composed of gypsun 
and calcareous breccia, and is supposed at a jmnols 
period to have been covered by the sea. The neigh- 
bourhood of the city is remarkable for the woodi 
of cactus which are spread over the arid landSi 
Some of these plants were thirty or forty feet hi^ 
covered with lichens, and divided into branches ii 
the form of a candelabrum. When the large speoias 
grow in groups they form a thicket, which, wfajls it 
IS almost impenetrable, is extremely dangennis at 
account of the poisonous serpents that frequent it» 

The fortress of St. Antomo, which is built on s 
calcareous hill, commands the towiL and forms api^ 
turesque object to vessels entering tiae port. On ^ 
senth-westera slope of the same rock are the 


of the castle of St. Mary, from the site of which 
there is a fine view of the gulf, together with the 
island of Margaretta and the small isles of Caraccas, 
Picuita, and Boracha, which present the most singu- 
lar appearances from the effect of mirage. 

The city of Cumana, properly speaking, occupies 
the ground that lies between the castle of St. An- 
tonio and the small rivers Manzanares and Santa 
Catalina. It has no remarkable buildings, on account 
of the violent earthquakes to wliich it is subject. 
The suburbs are almost as populous as the town it- 
self, and are three in number : namely, Serritos, St. 
Francis, and that of the Guayquerias. The latter is 
inhabited by a tribe of civilized Indians, who, for 
upwards of a century, have adopted the Castilian 
language. The whole population in 1802 was about 
eighteen or nineteen thousand. 

The plains which surround the city have a parched 
and dusty aspect. The hill on which the fort of St. 
Antonio stands is also bare, and composed of calca- 
reous breccia, containing marine shells. Southward, 
in the distance, is avast curtain of inaccessible moun- 
tains, alsoof limestone. These ridges are covered by 
majestic forests, extending along the sloping ground 
at their base to an open plain in the neighbourhood of 
Cumana, through which the river Manzanares winds 
its way to the sea, fringed with mimosas, erytlurinas, 
ceibas, and other trees of gigantic growth. 

This river, the temperature of which in the season 
of the floods descends as low as 71-6°, when that of 
the air is as high as 91^, is an inestimable benefit to 
the inhabitants ; all of whom, even the women of 
the most opulent families, learn to swim. The mode 
of tathing is various. Our travellers frequented 
every evening a very respectable society in the 
suburb of the Guayquerias. In the beautiful moon- 
hght chairs were placed in the water, on which were 
seated the ladies and gentlemen, lightly clothed 
llie family and the strangers passed several hourr. 


62 -^ xAwmauJUCJU. 

in llie river, smoking cigm and dii^jttuif . on ti 
uBiial subjects of conversanon, sodi as fhe «xtm 
drouf^t, ibe abundance of rain in fheneisliboiBip 
distncts^ and the female luxury which prevnUs i 
Caraccas and Havana. The oompanv weve m 
disturbed by the baoas, or small crocodileSy whk 
are only three or four feet lon^, and are now m 
tremely rare. Humboldt and ms companions di 
not meet with any of them in the Mansanares ; k 
they saw plenty of dolphins, which somsthnes m 
cended the river at nig^t, and firigtrtened fhe biflMl 
by spouting' water from tiieir noiSrils. 

The port of Cumana is capaUe of reoetvinfjl 
the navies of Europe ; and the whole of tfae^'fM'O 
Cariaco, which is forty-two miles Hogf mm-§M 
seven to nine miles l»oad, affords ezcelwlit wmim 
age. The hurricanes of the West Indies aie mm 
^pferienced on these coastts, .where the sea ieeei 
stanth^ smooth, or only slightl^r. agitated by.an:eail 
erly wind. The aky is often bright along tne shovM 
wmle stormy clouds are seen to gather amoiiff fk 
mountains. Thus, as at the foot of the Andes, im% 
western side of the continent, the extremes of dn 
weather and fogs, of drought and heavjr rain, of iA 
solute nakedness and perpetual verdure, pnsai 
themselves on the coasts of New-Andahuna. r '' 

The same analogy exists as to earthquakes, wkiil 
are frequent and violent at Cumana. It is a gow 
rally received opinion that the Gulf of Cariaco^cvd 
its existence to'a rent of the continent, ttie iceiaM 
brance of which was fresh in the minds of Iks M 
tives at the time of Columbus's third voyage. 1 
1630 the coasts of Paria and Cumana were 
by shocks ; and towards the end of the 
century, earthquakes and inundations v^ry ol 
curred. On the 21st October, 1766, the city 
mana was entirely destroyed in the space of W 
minutes. The earth opened in s^enu parts o 
province, and emitted suljdiureous watQia. Ik 


iie years 1766 and 1767 the inhabitants encamped 
1 the streets, and they did not begin to rebuild their 
ouses until the earthquakes took place only once 
1 foiur weeks. These commotions had been pre- 
eded by a drought of fifteen months, and were ac- 
ompanied and followed by torrents of rain, which 
^eUed the riyers. 

On the 14th December, 1797, more than four-fifths 
f the city were again entirely destroyed. Previous 
> this the shocks had been horizontal oscillations ; 
at the shaking now felt was that of an elevation 
f the ipround, and was attended by a subterraneous 
oise, hke the explosion of a mine at a great depth. 
lie most violent concussion, however, was pre- 
aded by a slight undulating motion, so that the in- 
■iHtants had time to escape into the streets ; and 
Dly a few perished, who had betaken themselves 
n safety to the churches. Half an hour before the 
atastrophe, a strong smell of sulphur was expe- 
enced near the hill of the convent of 'St. Francis ; 
nd on the same spot an internal noise, which seemed 
)passfromS.E. to N.W., was heard loudest. Flames 
|>peared on the banks of the Manzanares and in the 
wf of Cariaco. In describing this frightful con- 
tdsion of nature, our author enters upon general 
ews respecting earthquakes, of which a very brief 
KM)unt may be here given. 

The great earthquakes which interrupt the long 
(Hes of small shocks do not appear to have any 
ated times at Cumana, as they have occurred at 
tenrals of eighty, of a hundred, and sometimes 
'en of less than thirty years; whereas, on the 
lasts of Peru, — at Lima, for example, — ^there is, 
ithout doubt, a certain degree of regularity in the 
riodical devastations thereby occasioned. 
It has long been believed at Cumana, Acapulco, 
d Lima, that there exists a perceptible relation 
tween earthquakes and the state of the atmosphere 
lich precedes these phenomena. On the coasts 


04 lAMnpavAm* 

of New-Andiluiia the people become mmiKwiiikm, 
in exceiiiTely hot weather and' after low ilniMM, 
the breeie nwenlyceasea, and the (dcy.oearallht 
zenith, iNpeeents the appearance of a reddiah ^tffm 
near the horizon. Bat theee prognoatica an mp 
nncertain, and the dreaded ofu Itta airlf^d Im m 
lunda of weather. 
Under the trojnca the regularity of tiw 

riationa of the barometer ia not diittarbed on lliojM 

when violent ahocka oocor. In like 
temperate zone the anrora borealia doea nol 
mooifjr the Tariaftiona of tiie needle^ or tiie 
of the maonetic forcea. 

When we earth ia open and agitated^ 
emanationa occaaicmally eecape in 
ably remote from nnextingDiahed* 
Cumana, flamea and anlphnreoiia ywpoam 
Arom the arid aoil, while in other pari» of Ito 
proTince it throwa ont water and [ifitinteawi ^Ji 
Riobamba, a muddy inflammable maaa edled 
issues Arom creyices which close again, and 
elevated heaps. Flames and smoke were atoo 
to proceed from the rocks of Alvidraa, near 

during the earthquake of 1755, by whidi tint cMf 
was raTaged. But in the greater number of eaav 

?|uakes it is probable that no elastic flnida eaa^i 
rom the ground, and when gaaes are OTolvadt ^taf 
more frequently accompany or follow thin praoav 
the shocks. 

The subterranean noiae which ao treqpneMf^ 
tends earthquakes, ia oenerally not propottioMnali 
the strength of the anocka. At Cumann it ahpam 
precedes them ; while at Quito, and for aoiu llai 
past at Caraccaa and in tiie West India i 

noise like the discharae of abattwy waaha 

after the acitation had oeaaed." Tne roDiwoftiS 
der in the bowels of the eartti, which oorannaa S. 
mopths, without being acoooAanied by ttm lu 
^, ia a very renaikaMe pheoomeDOB 


la all countries subject to earthquakes, the point 
at which the cfi^ts are greatest is considered as 
the source or focus of the shocks. We forget that 
the rapidity with which the undulations are propa- 
gated to great distances, even across the basin of 
the ocean, proves the centre of action to be very re- 
mote from the earth^s surface. Hence it is clear 
that earthquakes are not restricted to certain species 
of rocks, as some natundists assert, but pervade aU ; 
although sometimes, in the same rock, the upper 
strata seem to form an insuperable obstacle to the 
propagation of the motion. It is curious also, that 
in a d&trict of small extent certain formations in- 
terrupt the shocks. Thus, at Cumana, before the 
catastrophe o£ 1797, the earthquakes were felt only 
along the southern or calcareous coast of the Gulf 
of Cariaco, as far as the town of that name, while 
in the peninsula of Araya, and at the village of Man- 
iquarez, the ground was not agitated. At present, 
however, the peninsula is as liable to earthquakes 
as the district around Cumana. 

In New- Andalusia, as in Chili and Peru, the shocks 
follow the line of the shore, and extend but little 
into the interior, — a circumstance which indicates 
an intimate connexion between the causes that pro- 
duce earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. If the 
land along tne coasts is most agitated because it is 
generally lowest, why should not the shocks be 
equally strong in the savannas, which are only a 
few yms above the level of the sea ? 

The earthquakes of Cumana are connected with 
those of the West Indies, and are even suspected to 
have some relation to the volcanic phenomena of 
the Andes. On the 4th November, 1797, the prov- 
ince of Quito underwent so violent a commotion that 
MyOOO persons were destroyed; and at the same 
period shocks were experienced in the Eastern An- 
tiUes, followed by an eruption of the volcano of 
Guadialoupe, in the end of September, 1798. On the 


I41jf I>eoead)«T the great concmBkni took place at 

!t has long been remarked that earthquakes en- 
tend their effects to much ffreater distances than 
TolcanoeH ; and it is probable, as has just been raeo- 
tioned, that the causes which produce the forraei 
have an intimate coimexion with the latter. When 
seated within the verge ofa burning crater, one fsds 
the motion of the ground several seconds befen ' 
each partial eruption. The phenomeDa of taiOt- 

Snakes seem strongly to indicate the action of elaBtie 
uids endeavonriug to force their way into tha it- 
moaphere. On the shores of the South Sea the 
concussion is almost instantaneously commtiniosled 
from Chili to the Gulf of Guayaquil, over s Bpta 
of SU70 miles. The shocks also appear to be M 
- much the stronger the more distant the countty ii 
firom active volcanoes ; and a province is mott 
agitated the smalleT the nnraber of funnels by whicb 
I cavities communicaie with Uk 


Residence al Cwnana. 

niDioIi af An*- 1' 
iniilUBHi— Malcan Den— SjOV ■ 

Thb occupations of om- travellers were mucli fi 
tnrbed during the first weeks of their abode at Qt I 
Diana by the intrusion of persons desirous trfttJbi 
amining their astronomicEu and other instmnu ' 
They however delermined the latitude of tht 
square to be 10° ST ST, and its loq^tadt «•* 


On the 17th of August a halo of the moon attracted 
^ attention of the inhabitants, who viewed it as 
Uieprega^of a violent earthquake. Coloured cir- 
fles of this kind, Humboldt remarks, are much rarer 
in the northern than in the southern countries of En- 
Tope, They are seen more especially when the sky 
J8 dear and the weather settled. In the torrid zone 
flwjr appear almost every night, and often in the 
apace of a few minutes disappear several times. 
Between the latitude of 15° N. and the equator he 
has seen small haloes around the planet Venus, but 
oerer observed any in connexion with the fixed stars. 
While the halo was seen at Cumana, the hygrome- 
ter indicated great humidity, although the atmo- 
sphere was perfectly transparent. It consisted of 
two circles ; a larger, of a whitish colour, and 44° 
in diameter, and a smaller, displa3ring all the tints 
of the rainbow, and 1° 43' in diameter. The inter- 
mediate space was of the deepest azure. 

Part of the great square is surrounded with ar- 
cades, over which is a long wooden gallery, where 
slaves imported from the coast of iirica are sold. 
These were young men from fifteen to twenty years 
of age. Every morning cocoanut oil was given 
them, with which they rubbed their skin, to reiser it 
glossy. The persons who came to purchase them 
examined their teeth, as we do those of horses, to 
judge of their age and health. Yet the Spanish 
Laws, according to our author, have never favoured 
the trade in Airican slaves, the number of whom in 
18O0 did not exceed 6000 in the two provinces of 
Ciimana and Barcelona, while the whole population 
was estimated at 110,000. 

The first excursion which our travellers made was 
to the peninsula of Araya. They embarked on the 
Manzanares, nqar the Indian suburb, about two in 
flie morning of the I9th August. The night was 
UightfuUy cool. Swarms of shining insects {Elaier 
tUucus) sparkled in the air idongthe banks of the 

rirer. As tha boat deaoAided th<; streom, ttiey ^ 
Benred a company of nenoea dancing to the music 
of th« tmXai tn'tlie U^t of bonliTes,— a pT3ctie< 
which ttwy prefer to mere relaxation or sleep, oi 
their days of nst. 

™._ L__^ 1:,^ jjjg 

1 large skins of thp jaguar 

were spread fbrtheir repose during the night. The 
cold, botrerer, prereDtod them froni sleeping, al- 
though, aa they were surprised to find, the ther- 
moraeter waa aa high as 71-V. The circumstance 
thatidawarraconntiyadegKe of cold which vodd 
he productive of tw inconvenience to the inhabitaiit 
of a temperate climate, excites u disagreeable to^- 
ing, ia' worthy of the xtteolion of physialogjsti. 
When Bongner reached tite summit of PeUe, in Hm 
ishnd'Ofllbitinico.hetremhled with cold, alttnoofli 
the heat was ^xnre 70*7° ; and in heavy showen 
at Cumana, when the ftermonieter indicates th* 
9, the inhabitants miike bitter con- 

About etgkt in the monthly they landed at th( 
point of Arvra,-near the new siiii-works, -which ai* 
situated is a plain destitute of vegetation. From 
this apiA are seen- the i^ of Cubagua, the loltj 
hills <rf Margaretta, the luhis of the castle of 8L 
Ja«p, the Cerro de la Vela, and the limestone rid» 
of the Bngantin, bomidiBg the horizon towards tSi 
south. Here salt is procmed by digging brine-pilo 
in die claTsy soil, miich is impregnated with mu- 
rute of soda. In 1700 and ISAO the consumption 
(rfttaiB article in the pnwinceH of Cumana and Bar- 
celona amomited to 0000 07 10,000 fanrgas, each 
10 orreAs*, or 406flbs. avoirdupois. Of this qun- 
tity the aalt-works of Arara yieM onlj about a 
third part; ttie leet being Obtained from sea-w^ 
in the Horn of Barcelona, nt Pozuetos, at P*wtt 
and in the Oolfo Trists. 

In order to imdeiWHidtbe geological relatfoM 


liferons cla^, it is necessary to follow oar 
in his exposition of the nature of the neigh- 
: country. Three great parallel chains of 
ins extend from east to west. The two 
)rtherW, which are primitive, constitute the 
ras of the island of Margaretta, as well as 
jra. The most southerly, the cordillera of 
tin and Cocollar, is secondary, although more 
d than the others. The two former have 
iparated by the sea, and the islets of Coche 
bagua are supposed to be remnants of the 
sea land. The Gulf of Cariaco divides the 
>f Ara3ra and Ck>collar, which were connected, 
east of the town of Cariaco, between the 
f Campoma and Putaquao, by a kind of dike, 
rrier, which had the name of Cerro de Mea- 
evented in remote times the waters of the 
Cariaco from uniting with those of the Gulf 
a. . 

western slope of the peninsula of Araya and 
ins on which rises the castle of St. Antony 
eied with recent deposites of sandstone, clay, 
mum. Near Manifuarez, a conglomerate 
licareous cement rests on the mica-slate; 
n the opposite side, near Punta Delgada, it is 
iposed on a compact bluish-gray limestone, 
ing a few organic remains, traversed by 
sins of calcareous spar, and analogous to that 

saliferous clay is generally of a smoke->gray 
earthy and friable, but encloses masses of a 
own tint and more sohd texture. Selenite 
ous gypsum are disseminated in it. Scarcely 
ells are to be seen, although the adjacent 
ontain abundance of them. The muriate of 
not discoverable by the naked eye ; but when 
is sprinkled with rainwater and exposed to 
, it appears in large crystals. In the marsh 
;a8c of tbe castle of St. Jago, which receives 


only rainwater, crystallized and very pure muriate 
of soda forms, after great droughts, in masses of 
large size. The new salt-works of Araya have fife 
very extensive reservoirs with a depth of eigbt 
inches, and are supplied partly with seawater and 
partly with rain. The evaporation is so rapid that 
salt IS collected in eighteen or twenty days after 
they are filled ; and it is freer from earthy muriatea 
and sulphates than that of Europe, although manu- 
factured with less care. 

After examining these works, they departed at 
the decline of day, and proceeded towards an Indias 
cabin some miles distant. Night overtook them in 
a narrow path between a range of perpendicular 
rocks and the sea. Arriving at the foot of the old 
castle of Araya, which stands on a bare and aiM 
mountain, and is crowned with agave, columnar 
cactus, and prickly mimosas, they were desirooa of 
stopping to admire the majestic spectacle, and ob- 
serve the setting of the planet Venus ; but their 
guide, who was parched with thirst, eamesthr urged 
them to return, and hoped to work on their mis by 
continually warning them of jaguars and rattle- 
snakes. They at length yielded to his solicitatione'; 
but after proceeding three-quarters of an hour aloof 
a shore covered by the tide they were joined by the 
negro that carried their provisions, who led them 
through a wood of nopals to the hut of an IndiaBi 
where they were received with cordial hospitality. 
The several classes of natives in this district live bf 
catching fish, part of which they carry to Cumana. 
The wealth of the inhabitants consists chiefly of 
goats, which are of a very large size, and browmah- 
yellow colour. They are marked like the nomtea, 
and roam at large. 

Among the mulattoes, whose hovels surrounded 
the salt-lake near which they had passed the nifj^ 
they found an indigent Spanish cobbler, who received 
them with an air of gravity and importance. After 


amuaiiig them with a display of his knowledge, he 
drew from a leathern bag a few very small pearls, , 
which he forced them to accept, enjoining them to 
note on their tablets, " that a poor shoemaker of 
Araya, but a white man, and of noble CastiUan- de- 
scent, was enabled to give them what on the other 
side of the sea would be sought for as a thing of 
great value." 

The pearl-shell {Avictda margaritjfera) is abundant 
on the shoals which extend from Cape Paria to the 
Cape of Vela. Margarita, Cubagua, Coche, Punla 
Araya, and the mouth of tlie Rio la Hacha were as 
celebrated in the sixteenth century for them as the 
Persian Gulf was among the ancients. At the be- 
ginning of the conquest the island of Coche alone 
rarnished 1500 marks (1029 troy pounds) monthly. 
The portion which the king^s officers drew from the 
produce of the pearls amounted to 3406/. bs. ; and 
it would appear that up to 1530 the value of those 
sent to Europe amounted, at a yearly average, to 
more than 130,000/. Towards the eiMi of the six- 
teenth century, this fishery diminished rapidly ; and, 
according to Laet, had been long given up in 1683. 
The artificial imitations, and the great diminution 
of the shells, rendered it less lucrative. At present, 
the Gulf of Panama and the mouth of the Rio de la 
Hacha are the only parts of South America in which 
this branch of industry is continued. 

On the morning of the 20th, a young Indian con- 
ducted the travellers over Barigon and Cauey to the 
village of Maniquarez. The thermometer kept as 
high as 78*5^, and before their guide had travelled a 
league he frequently sat down to rest himself, and 
expressed a desire to repose under the shade of a 
tamarind-tree until night sliould approach. Hum- 
boldt explains the circuniKtance, that the natives 
complain more of lassitude under an intense heat 
than Europeans not inured to it, by a reference to 


their listless disposition, and their not being excited 
by the same stimulus. 

In crossing the arid hills of Cape Cirial, they per- 
ceived a strong smell of petroleum, the wii^ bfow- 
ing from the side where the springs of that sab- 
stance occur. Near the village of Maniquarez, ttiey 
found the mica-slate cropping out from below the 
secondary rocks. It was of a silvery white, con- 
tained garnets, and was traversed by small layers 
of quartz. From a detached block of this last, fomid 
on the shore, they separated a fragment of cyanite, 
the only specimen of that mineral seen by them in 
South America. 

A rude manufacture of pottery is carried on at 
that hamlet by the Indian women. The clay is |ffO- 
duced by the decomposition of mica-slate, and is of 
a reddish colour. The natives, being unacquainted 
with the use of ovens, place twi^ around the ves- 
sels, and bake them in the open air. 

At the same place they met with some Creoles 
who had been hunting small deer in the uninhabited 
islet of Cubagua, where they are very abundant 
These creatures are of a brownish-red hue, spotted 
with white, and of the latter colour beneath. They 
belong to the species named by naturalists Cerviu 

In the estimation of the natives, the most curious 
production of the coast of Araya is what they call 
the eye-stone. They consider it as both a stone and 
an animal, and assert that when it is found in the 
sand it is motionless ; whereas on a polished surfiue, 
as an earthen plate, it moves when stimulated by 
lemon-juice. When introduced into the eye it ex- 
pels every other substance that may have accident^ 
ally insinuated itself. The people offered theae 
stones to the travellers by hundreds, and wished to 
put sand into their eyes, that they might try the 
power of this wondrous remedy ; which, howevari 


nothing else than the operculum of a small 


Neat Cape de la Brea, at the distance of eighty 
feet from Uie shore, is a small stream of naphtha, 
the produce of which covers the sea to a great ex- 
tent. It is a singular circumstance that this spring 
iflsaes from mica-slate, all others that are known 
belonging to secondary deposites. 

After examining the neighbourhood of Mani- 
quarex, the adventurers embarked at night in a small 
fishing-boat, so leaky that a person was constantly 
enniloyed in baling out the water with a calabash, 
ina arrived in safety at Cumana. 


Mtssiofis of the Chaymas, 

to tlw Mlniora of the Cbtyma Indian*— Bamarks on Cal- 

ttvarioa— The Impossible— Aiipect of the Vegetation— San Fernando— 
AeMMUt of a Man who suckled a Child— Cumanaooa — Cultiyation of 
Tbftaeeo— Ifneooa Exbslations— Jagoar»— Moonuin of CoeoUar— 
Iteiniqpirt— MieskNM of San Antonio and Goanafuana. 

On the 4th of September, at an early hour, our 
travellers commenced an excursion to the missionary 
•tatioos of the Chayma Indians, and to the lofty 
mountains which traverse New-Andalusia. The 
momiDg was deUciously cool ; and from the summit 
of the hiUof San Francisco they enjoyed in the short 
twilight an extensive view of the sea, the adjacent 
plain, and the distant peaks. After walking two 
Dours they arrived at the foot of the chain, where 
they found different rocks, together with a new and 
more luxuriant vegetation. They observed that the 
latter was more br^ant wherever the limestone was 




covered by a quartzy sandstone, — a circmnistaiioc 
which probably depends not so much on the natun 
of the soil as on its greater humidity ; the thin layera 
of slate-clay, which the latter contains, preventing 
the water from filtering into the crevices of tlM 
former. In those moist places they always dis- 
covered appear^ces of cultivation, huts inhabited 
by mestizoes, and placed in the centre of small en- 
closures, containing papaws, plantains, sugar-canes, 
and maize. In Europe, the wheat, barley, and other 
kinds of grain cover vast spaces of ground, and, in 
general, wherever the inhabitants live upon com, th0 
cultivated lands are not separated from each other 
by the intervention of large wastes ; but in the to^ 
nd zone, where the fertiUty of the soil is propor- 
tionate to the heat and humidity of the air, and where 
man has appropriated plants that yield earlier and 
more abundant crops, an immense population findf 
ample subsistence on a narrow space. The scat- 
tered disposition of the huts in the midst of the forest 
indicates to the traveller the fecundity of nature. 

In so mild and uniform a climate the only urgent 
want of man is that of food ; and in the midst of 
abundance his intellectual faculties receive less im- 
provement than in colder regions, where his neces- 
sities are numerous and diversified. While in En- 
rope we judge of the inhabitants of a country by the 
extent of laboured groimd ; in the warmest parts of 
South America populous provinces seem to the 
traveller almost aescrted, because a very small ex- 
tent of soil is sufficient for the maintenance of a 
family. The insulated state in which the natives 
thus live prevents any rapid progress of civilization, 
although it develops the sentiments of independence 
and liberty. 

As the travellers penetrated into the forests the 
barometer indicated the progressive elevation of the 
land. About three in the afternoon they halted on 
a small flat, where a few houses had been erected 


J*w a spring, the water of which they -found de- 
Mm, Its temperature was 72*5°, while that of 
the air was 83-7°. From the top of a sandstone-hill 
in the vicioity they had a splendid view of the sea 
indpart of the coast, while in the intervening space 
the tops of the trees, intermixed with flowery lianas, 
formed a vast carpet of deep verdure. As they ad- 
vanced towards the south-west the soil became dry 
and loose. They ascended a ^oup of rather high 
nxmntains, destitute of vegetation, and having steep 
declivities. This ridge is named the Impossible, it 
being imagined that in case of invasion it might 
afford a safe retreat to the inhabitants of Cumana. 
The prospect was finer and more extensive than 
from the fountain above mentioned. 

They arrived on the summit only a little before 
dnak. The setting of the sun was accompanied by 
a very rapid diminution of temperature, the ther- 
mometer suddenly falling from 77-4° to 70'3°, 
although the air was calm. They passed the night 
in a house at which there was a military post of eight 
men, commanded by a Spanish sergeant. When, 
after the capture of Trinidad by the English in 1797, 
Cmnana was threatened, many of the people fled 
to Cumanacoa, leaving the more valuable of their' 
IRoperty in sheds constructed on this ridge. The 
solitude of the place reminded Humboldt of the 
nights which he had passed on the top of St. Gothard. 
S(^eral parts of the surrounding forests were burn- 
ing, and the reddish flames arising amid clouds of 
smoke, presented a most impressive spectacle. The 
shepherds set fire to the woods for the purpose of 
mproving the pasturage, though conflagrations are 
often caused by the negligence of the wandering 
Indians. The number of old trees on the road from 
Cumana to Cumanacoa has been greatly reduced by 
these accidents ; and in several parts of the province 
the dryness has increased, owing both to the ^mi- 
nation of the forests and the frequency oi eatWv* 
gaakes which produce crevices ia tae soil. 


Leavingf thie Impossible on the 5th before tmirifle, 
they descended by a very narrow path bordering on 
precipices. The summit of the ridge was of qnartiy 
sandstone, beneath which the alpine limestone r^ 
appeared. The strata being generally inclined to 
the south, numerous springs gush out on that side, 
and in the rainy season form torrents which fall in 
cascades, shaded by the hura, the cnspa, wid the 
trunipet:tree. The cuspa, which is common in the 
neighbourhood of Cumana, had long been used for 
carpenter-work, but has of late attracted notice as i 
powerful tonic or febrifuge. 

Emerging from the ravine which opens at the 
foot of the mountain, they entered a dense forest, 
traversed by numerous small rivers, which wera 
easily forded. They observed that the leaves of tlw 
cecropia were more or less silvery according as tbs 
soil was dry or marshy, and specimens occurred is 
which they were entirely green on both sides. TTie 
roots of these shrubs were concealed beneath tnlti 
of dorstenia, a plant which thrives only in shady and 
moist places. In the midst of the forest they found 
papaws and orange-trees bearing excellent fnut, 
which they conjectured to be the remains of some 
Indian plantations, as in these countries they aie 
no more indigenous than the banana, the maize, the 
manioc, and the many other useful plants whoea 
native country is unknown, although they have ac- 
companied man in his migrations from the most re* 
mote periods. 

" When a traveller newly arrived from Eunm" 
says Humboldt, ** penetrates for the first time inio 
the forests of South America, nature presents herself 
to his view in an unexpected aspect : the objects bf 
which he is surrounded bear but a faint resemblance 
to the pictures drawn by celebrated writers on the 
banks of the Mississippi, in Florida, and in other 
temperate regions of the New World. He ps^ 
ceives at every step that he is not upon the ymspi 


but in the centre of the torrid zone, — ^not in one of 
the West India islands, but upon a vast continent, 
idiere the mountains, the rivers, the mass of vege- 

' tation, and every thing else are gigantic. If he be 
sensible to the beauties of rural scenery, he finds it 
difficult to account to himself for the diversified 
feelings which he experiences : he is unable to de- 
termine what most excites his admiration ; whether 
the solemn silence of the wilderness, or the indi- 
vidual beauty and contrast of the forms, or the vigour 
and freshness of vegetable life, that characterise the 
climate of the tropics. It might be said that the 
earth, overloaded with plants, does not leave them 
room enough for growth. The trunks of the trees 
are everywhere covered with a thick carpet of ver- 
dure ; and were the orchideae and the plants of the 
genera piper and pothos, which grow upon a single 
courbaril or American fig-tree, transferred to the 
ground, they would cover a large space. By this 
singular denseness of vegetation, the forests, hke 
the rocks and mountains, enlarge the domain of or- 
ganic nature. The same lianas which creep along 
the ground rise to the tops of the trees, and pass 
from the one to the other at a height of more than 
a hundred feet. In consequence of this intermixture 

^ of parasitic plants, the botanist is often led to con- 
found the flowers, fruits, and foliage which belong 
to different species." 

The philosophers walked for some hours under 
the shade of these arches, which scarcely admitted 
an occasional glimpse of the clear blue sky, and for 
the first time admired the pendulous nests of the 
orioles, which mingled their warblings with the cries 
of the parrots and macaws. The latter fly only in 
pairs, while the former are seen in flocks of several 
hundreds. At the distance of about a league from 
the village of San Fernando, they issued from the 
woods, and entered an open country, covered with 
aquatic plants from eight to ten feet high; there 



being no meadows or pastures in the lower parts of 
the torrid zone, as in Europe. The road was bor- 
dered with a kind of bamboo, rising more thaa forty 
feet. These plants, according to Humboldt, are less 
common in America than is usually supposed, al- 
though they form dense woods in New-Grenada and 
Quito, and occur abundantly on the western slope of 
the Andes. 

They now entered San Fernando, which is situ- 
ated in a narrow plain, and bounded by limestone 
rocks. This was the first missionary station tbey 
saw in America. The houses of the Chayma Vi- 
dians were built of clay, strengthened by lianas, and 
the streets were straight, and intersected each other 
at right angles. The great square in the centre of 
the village contains the church, the house of the 
missionary, and another, destined for the accommo- 
dation of travellers, which bears the pompous name 
of the king's house (Casa del Rey). These royil 
residences occur in all the Spanish settlements, and 
are of the greatest benefit in countries where there 
are no inns. 

They had been recommended to the friars who 
superintend the missions of the Chaymas, by their 
syndic at Cuniana, and the superior, a corpulent and 
jolly old capuchin, received them with kindness. 
This respectable personage, seated the greater part 
of the day in an arm-chair, complained bitterly <rf 
the indolence of his countrymen. He considered 
the pursuits of the travellers as useless, smiled at 
the sight of their instruments and dried plants, and 
maintained that of all the enjoyments of life, witl^ 
out excepting sleep, none could be compared with 
the pleasure of eating good beef. 

This mission was founded about the end of the 
seventeenth century, near the junction of the Man- 
zanares and Lucasperez ; but, in consequence of a 
fire, was removed to its present situation. The xran- 
ber of families now amounted to a hundred, and aa tlie 


head of the establishment observed, the custom of 
manTinfi: at a very early age contributes greatly to 
the rapid increase of population. 

In uie village of Arenas, which is inhabited by 
Indians of the same race as those of San Fernando, 
there ^ved a labourer, Francisco Lozano, who had 
suckled a child. Its mother happening to be sick, 
he took it, and in order to quiet it, pressed it to his 
breast, when the stimulus imparted by the sucking 
of the child caused a flow of milk. The travellers 
saw the certificate drawn up on the spot to attest 
this remarkable fact, of which several eyewitnesses 
were still living. The man was not at Arenas during 
their stay at the mission, but afterward visited them 
at Cumana, accompanied by his son, when M. Bon- 

Eland examined his breasts, and found them wrinkled, 
ke those of women who have nursed. He was 
not an Indian, but a white descended from European 
parents. Alexander Benedictus relates a similar 
case of an inhabitant of Syria, and other authors 
have given examples of the same nature. 

Returning towards Cumana, they entered the small 
town of Cumanacoa, situated in a naked and almost 
circular plain, surrounded by lofty mountains, and 
containing about two thousand three hundred inhabit- 
ants. The houses were low and slight, and with very 
few exceptions built of wood. The travellers were 
surprised to find the column of mercury in the ba- 
rometer scarcely 7*3 Unes shorter than on the coast. 
The hollow in which the town is erected is not more 
than 665 feet above the level of the sea, and only 
seven leagues from Cumana; but the climate is 
much colder than in the latter place, where it scarcely 
ever rains ; whereas at Cumanacoa there are seven 
months of severe weather. It was during the winter 
season that our travellers visited the missions. A 
dense fog covered the sky 
mometer varied from 6iQr 
grometer indicated 85°. At ten in the morning the 

every night; the ther- 
to 68*^ ; and Deluc's hy- 
t ten in the mominir the 


thermometer did not rise above 69*8®, but from noon 
to three o'clock attained the height of from 78*8** to 
80*6°. About two, large black clouds regularly 
formed, and poured down torrents of rain, accom- 
panied by thunder. At five the rain ceased, and the 
sun reappeared ; but at eight or nine the fo^ again 
commenced. In consequence of the humidity, the 
vegetation, although not very diversified, is remudc- 
able for its freshness. The soil is highly fertile; 
but the most valuable production of the district is 
tobacco, the cultivation of which, in the province of 
Cumana, is nearly confined to this valley. 

Next to the tobacco of Cuba and the Rio Negro, 
that grown here is the most aromatic. The seued is 
sown in the beginning of September, and the coty- 
ledons appear on the eighth day. The young plants 
are then covered with large leaves to protect them 
from the sun. A month or two after, they are trans- 
ferred to a rich and well-prepared soil, and disposed 
in rows, three or four feet distant from each other. 
The whole is carefully weeded, and the principal 
stalk is several times topped, until the leaves are 
mature, when they are gathered. They are then 
suspended by threads of the Agave Americana^ and 
tlieir ribs taken out ; after which they are twisted. 
The cultivation of tobacco was a royal monopoly, 
and employed about 1500 persons. Indigo is also 
raised in the valley of Cuninnacoa. 

This singular plain appeared to be the be4 of an 
ancient lake. The surrounding mountains are all 
precipitous, and the soil contains pebbles and bivalve 
sheUs. One of the gaps in the range, they were in- 
formed, was inhabited by jaguars, which passed the 
day in caves, and roamed about the plantations at 
night. The preceding year one of them had de- 
voured a horse belonging to a farm in the neighbonr- 
hood. The groans of the dying animal awoke the 
slaves, who went out armed with lances and laife 


knives, with which they despatched the tiger after a 
irimrous resistance. 

nom two caverns in this ravine there at times 
issiie flames, which illomine the adjacent mountains, 
and are seen to a great distance at night. The phe- 
nomenon was accompanied by a long-continued sub- 
terraneous noise at the time of the last earthquake. 
A trst attempt to penetrate into this pass was ren-~ 
dersd unsuccessM, by the strength of the vegeta- 
tion and the inteitvHning of Uanas and thorny plants ; 
but the inhabitants becoming interested in the re- 
searches of the travellers, and being desirous to 
know what the German miner thought of the gold 
ore which they imagined to exist in it, cleared a path 
through the woods. On entering the ravine, they 
foond traces of jaguars ; and the Indians returned for 
some small dogs upon which they knew these ani- 
■uds would spring in preference to attacking a man. 
The rocks that bound it are perpendicular, and what 
I geologists term alpine limestone. The excursion 
I was rendered hazardous by the nature of the ground^ 
hot they at length reached the pretended gold mine, 
which was merely an excavation in a bed of black 
marl containing iron pyrites, a substance which the 
guides insisted was no other than the precious 

They continued to penetrate into the crevice, and 
after undergoing great fatigue, reached a wall of 
rock, which, rising perpendicularly to the height of 
5116 feet, presented two inaccessible caverns inhab- 
ited by nocturnal birds. Halting at the foot of one 
of the caves from which flames had been seen to 
iasne, they listened to the remarks of the natives 
leapecting the probability of an increase in the fre- 
miracy of the agitations to which New-Andalusia 
ndso often been subjected. The cause of the lu- 
■inous exhalations, however, they were unable to 
Od the I9thy they continued their )0\im&^ V> N2&A 


convent of Caripe, the principal station of the Cbay 
ma missions, choosing, instead of the direct road 
the line of the mountains Cocollar and Turimiquiri 
At the Hato de Cocollar, a soUtary farm situated oi 
a small elevated plain, they rested for some time 
and had the good fortune to enjoy at once a deliglii 
fvl climate and the hospitality of the proprietor. 
From this elevated point, as far as the eye could 
reach, they saw only naked savannas, although in 
the neighbouring valleys they found tufts of scat- 
tered trees, ana a profusion of beautiful flowers. 
The upper part of the mountain was destitute of 
wood, though covered with gramineous plants — a 
circumstance which Humboldt attributes more to 
the custom of burning the forests than to the eleVa- 
tion of the ground, which is not sufficient to prevent 
the growth of trees. 

Their host, Don Mathias Yturburi, a native of 
Biscay, had visited the New World with an expedi- 
tion, the object of which was to form establishments 
for procuring timber for the Spanish navy. Bat 
these natives of a colder climate were unable to snp- 

Eort the fatigue of so laborious an occupation, tM 
eat, and the effect of noxious vapours. Destmo* 
tive fevers carried off most of the party, when this 
individual withdrew from the coast, and settling on 
the Cocollar, became the undisturbed possessor of 
five leagues of savannas, among which he enjoyed 
independence and health. * 

" Nothing," says Humboldt, " can be compared to 
the impression of the majestic tranquillity left on 
the mind by the view of the firmament in this soli- 
tary place. Following with the eye, at eveninff- 
tide, those meadows which stretch along the hORp 
zon, and the gently-undulated plain covered with 
plants, we thought we saw in the distance, as in the 
deserts of the Orinoco, the surface of the ocean 
supporting the starry vault of heaven. The tree 
under which we were aealed^XXi^bVoLtoiiious insects 


that vanlted in the air, and the constellations which 
^bows in the south seemed to tell us that we were 
far from our nbtive land. In the midst of this exotic 
nature, when the hell of a cow, or the lowing of a 
boll was heard from the bottom of a valley, the re- 
membrance of our country was suddenly awakened 
by the sounds. They were like distant voices, that 
came from beyond the ocean, and by the magic of 
which we were transported from the one hemi- 
sphere to the other. Strange mobiUty of the human 
imagination, the never-failing source of our enjoy- 
ments and griefs !" 

In the cool of the morning they commenced the 
ascent of Turimiquiri, the summit of the Cocollar, 
which, with the Brigantine, forms a mass of moun- 
tains, formerly named by the natives the Sierra de 
los Tageres. They travelled part of the way on 
horses, which are left to roam at large in these 
"vnlds, though some of them have been trained to the 
saddle. Stopping at a spring which issued from a 
bed of quartzy sandstone, they found its tempera- 
ture to be 69-8°. To the height of 4476 feet, this 
mountain, like those in its vicinity, was covered 
with gramineous plants. The pastures became less 
rich in proportion to the elevation, and wherever the 
scattered rocks afforded a shade hchens and mosses 
occurred. The summit is 4521 feet above the level 
of the sea. The view from it was extensive and 
highly picturesque: chains of mountains running 
from east to west enclosed longitudinal valleys, 
which were intersected at right angles by number- 
less ravines. The distant peninsula of Araya formed 
a dark streak on a glittering sea, and the more dis- 
tant rocks of Cape Macanao rose amid the waters 
like an immense rampart. 

On the 14th September, they descended the Co- 
collar in the direction of San Antonio, where was 
also a mission. After passing over savannas strewed 
with blocks cf limestone, succeeded by a dense 



forest and two very steep ridges, they cam< 
beautiful valley, about twenty miles in leng 
"which are situated the missions of San Anton 
Guanaguana. Stopping at the former only to 
the barometer and take a few altitudes of th< 
they forded the rivers Colorado and Guarapich 
proceeding along a level and narrow road cq 
with thick mud, amid torrents of rain, reached 
evening the latter of these stations, where 
were cordially received by 'the missionary, 
village had existed only thirty years on th< 
which it then occupied, having been trans 
from a place more to the south. Humboldt rci 
that the facility with which the Indians removi 
dwellings is astonishing, there being several 
towns in South America which have thrice ch 
their situation in less than half a century. ' 
compulsory migrations are not unfrequently < 
by the caprice of an ecclesiastic ; and as the 1 
are -constructed of clay, reeds, and palm-lea 
hamlet shifts its position like a camp. 

The mission of San Antonio had a small c 
with two towers, built of brick and ornamente 
Doric columns, the wonder of the country ; bi 
of Guanaguana ])Ossessed as yet no place of w( 
although a spacious house had been built f* 
padre, the terraced roof of which was ornan 
with numerous chimneys like turrets, and whi 
informed the travellers, had been erected i 
other purpose than to remind him of his native 
try. The Indians cultivate cotton. The mai 
by which they separate the wool from the sec 
of very simple construction, consisting of w 
cylinders of very small diameter, made to r< 
by a treadle. Maize is the article on which 
principally depend for food ; and when it h( 
to be destroyed by a protracted drought, th 
take themselves to the surrounding forest, 
they find subsistence in succulent plants, ca 

yjdJMt OF OARnnB. 85 

pahnSy fern-roots, and the produce of various 

Proceedingto wards the valley of Caripe, the travel- 
lers passed a limestone ridge which separates it from 
that of Guans^ana, — an undertaking which they 
found rather difficult, the path heing in several parts 
only fourteen or fifteen inches bro^, and the slopes 
being covered with very slippery turf. When they 
had reached the summit, an mteresting spectacle pre- 
sented itself to their view, consisting of the vast 
savannas of Maturin and Rio Tigre, the Peak of 
Turimiquiri, and a multitude of parallel hills resem« 
Ming the waves of a troubled ocean. 

Descending the height by a winding path, they 
mitered a woody country, where the groijnd was 
covered by moss and a species of Drosera, As they 
approached the convent of Caripe, the forests grew 
more dense, and the power of vegetation increased. 
The calcareous strata became thinner, forming grad- 
uated terraces, while the stone itself assumed a white 
colooTy with a smooth or imperfectly conchoidal 
fracture. This rock Humboldt considers as anal- 
ogous to the Jura deposites. He found the level of 
tne valley of Caripe 1379 feet higher than that of 
Gnanaguana. Although the former is only sepa- 
rated from the latter by a narrow ridge, it afford^ a 
complete contrast to it, bein^ deliciously cool and 
salubrious, wMle the other is remarkable for its 
great heat. 
• H 


CHAPTER Vin. . • 

Excursion continued, cmd Return to Cumana. 

CooTent ofCaripe— Care of Goacharo, inbabited by Noetnmal ! 
Pargatory— Forest Scener7--HowlingMonkeya— Vwaf^uar-CMMt 
—Intermittent Fever*— Ck>coft-tr6e8—raaBage acroaa die Golf of Oifr 

ARRivmo at the hospital of the Arragonese Cipn- 
chins, which was backed by an enormous wall of 
rocks of resplendent whiteness, covered with a Ion- 
riant vegetation, our travellers were hospitably ro- 
ceived by the monks. The superior was aboent; 
but having heard of their intention to visit the place, 
he had provided for them whatever could seire to 
render their abode agreeable. The inner court, aur- 
rounded by a portico, they found highly convenient 
for setting up their instruments and making bbeerva- 
tions. In the convent they found a numerous so- 
ciety, consisting of old and infirm missionaries, who 
sought for health in the salubrious air of the moun- 
tains of Caripe, and younger ones newly arrived 
from Spain. Although the inmates of tlus estab- 
lishment knew that Humboldt was a Protestant, they 
manifested no mark of distrust, nor proposed any 
indiscreet question, to diminish the vdue of the b^ 
nevolence which they exercised with so much libe- 
rality. Even the light of science had in some de- 
gree extended to this obscure place ; for in the library 
of the superior they found among other books thSe 
Traits d'Electricit^, by the Abb6 NoUet ; and one of 
the monks had brought with him a Spanish translap 
tion of Chaptal's Treatise on Chymistry. 

The height of this monastery above the sea is 
nearly the same as that of Caraccas, and the 


inhabited parts of the Bine Mountains of Jamaica. 
The theimometerwa^ between 60*8^ and 63^ at mid- 
night, between 6^*2° and 68^ in the morning, and 
oi3y 69'8® or 72'^° about one o'clock. The mean 
temperature, inferred from that of the month of Sep- 
tember, appears to be 65*3°. This degree of heat 
18 sufficient to develop the productions of the torrid 
zone, although much inferior to that of the plains 
of Cumana. Water exposed in vessels of porous 
clay cools during the night as low as 55*4^. The 
mild climate and rarefied air of this place have been 
found highly favourable to the cultivation of coffee, 
which was mtroduced into the province by the pre- 
fect of the Capuchins, an active and enlightened 
man. In the garden of the community were many 
culinary vegetables, maize, the sugar-cane, and five 
thousand coffee-trees. 

The greatest curiosity in this beautiful and salu- 
brious £strict is a cavern inhabited by nocturnal birds, 
the fat of which is employed in the missions for 
dressing food. It is named the Cave of Guacharo, 
and is situated in a valley three leagues distant from 
the convent. 

On the 18th of September our travellers, accom- 
panied by most of the monks and some of the Indians, 
set out for this aviary, following for an hour and a 
half a narrow path, leading across a fine plain cov- 
ered with beautiful turf; then, turning westward 
along a small river which issues from the cave, they 
proceeded, during three-quarters of an hour, some- 
times walking in the water, sometimes on a slippery 
and miry soil, between the torrent and a wall of 
rocks, until they arrived at the foot of the lofty 
mountain of Guacharo. Here the torrent ran in a 
deep ravine, and thev went on under a projecting 
cliff, which prevented them from seeing the sky, 
until at the last turning they came suddenly upon 
the immense opening of the recess, which is eighty- 
five feet broad and seventy-seven feet high. The 


entrance is towards the south, and is formed in the 
verticsd face of a rock, covered with trees of gigantie 
height, intermixed with numerous species of nngolar 
and beautiful plants, some of which hang in festoont 
over the vault. This luxuriant vegetation is not 
confined to the exterior of the cave, but appean 
even in the vestibule, where the travellers were as- 
tonished to see heliconias nineteen feet in height, 
palms, and arborescent arums. They had advanced 
about four hundred and sixty feet before it became 
necessary to light their torches, when they beaid 
from afar the hoarse screams of the birds. 

The guacharo is the size of a domestic fowl, and 
has somewhat the appearance of a vulture, with a 
mouth like that of a goatsucker. It forms a distinct 
genus in the order Passeres, differing from that Jut 
named in having a stronger beak, furnished with two 
denticulations, though in its manners it bears an wt' 
finity to it as well as to the alpine crow. Its pKn* 
mage is dark bluish-gray, minutely streaked and 
spotted with deep brown ; the head, wings, and tail 
being marked with white spots bordered with UacL 
The extent of the wings is three feet and a half. It 
lives on fruits, but quits the cave only in the even- 
ing. The shrill and piercing cries of these birds, 
assembled in multitudes, are said to form a hanh 
and disagreeable noise, somewhat resembling that 
of a rookery. The nests, which the guides showed 
by means of torches fastened to a long pole, were 
placed in funnel-shaped holes in the roof. The 
noise increased as they advanced, the animals being 
frightened by the numerous lights. 

About midsummer every year the Indians, armed 
with poles, enter the cave, and destroy the greater 
part of the nests. Several thousands of young biidi 
are thus killed, and the old ones hover around, utte^ 
ing frightful cries. Those which are secured in this 
manner are opened on the spot, to obtain the ftft 
which exists abundantly in their abdomen, and whid^ 


m subsequently melted in clay vessels over fires of 
brushwood. This substance is semifluid, transpa- 
rent, destitute of smell, and keeps above a year with- 
out becoming rancid. At the convent of Caripe it 
was used in the kitchen of the monks, and our trav- 
ellers never found that it communicated any dis- 
agreeable smell or taste to the food. 

The guacharoes would have been long ago de- 
stroyed, had not the superstitious dread of the In- 
dians prevented them from penetrating fai'into the 
cavern. It also appears, that birds of the same 
species dwell in other inaccessible places in the 
neighbourhood, and that the great cave is repeopled 
by colonies from them. The hard and dry fruits 
which are found in the crops and gizzards of the 
yoimg ones are considered as an excellent remedy 
against intermittent fevers, and regularly sent to Ca- 
naco and other parts of the lower districts where 
such diseases prevail. 

The travellers followed the banks of the small 
river which issues from the cavern as far as the 
mounds of calcareous incrustations permitted them, 
and afterward descended into its bed. The cave 
preserved the same direction, breadth, and height 
as at its entrance, to the distance of 1554 feet. The 
natives havin^^ a belief that the souls of their an- 
cestors inhabit its deep recesses, the Indians who 
accompanied our travellers could hardly be persuaded 
to venture into it. Shooting at random in the dark, 
they obtained two specimens of the guacharo. Hav- 
ing proceeded to a certain distance, they came to a 
mass of stalactite, beyond which the cave became 
narrower, although it retained its original direction. 
Here the rivulet had deposited a blackish mould re- 
sembling that observed at Muggendorf in Franconia. 
The seeds which the birds carry to their young 
raiinff up wherever they are dropped into it ; and M. 
HuniDoldt and his friend were astonished \.o ^^ 
Uanched stalls that bad attained a height ot \;^ol^^X< 



As the missionaries were unable to persuade fhe 
Indians to advance farther, the party returned. The 
river, sparkling amid the foliage of the trees, seemed 
like a distant picture, to which the mouth of the cave 
formed a frame. Having sat down at the entrance 
to enjoy a little needful repose, they partook of a 
repast which the missionaries had prepared, and in 
due time returned to the convent. 

The days which our travellers passed at this reli- 
gious house glided hastily and pleasantly past. From 
morning to night they traversed the forests and. 
mountains collecting plants; and when the rains 
prevented them from making distant excursions, 
they visited the huts of the Indians ; returning to the 
good monks only when the sound of the bell called 
them to the solace of the refectory. Sometimes 
also they followed them to the church, to witness 
the religious instruction given to the Indians ; which 
was found a difficult task, owing to the imperfect 
knowledge of the Spanish language possessed by 
the latter. The evenings were employed in taking 
notes, drying plants, and sketching those that i^ 
peared new. 

The natural beauties of this interesting valley 
engaged them so much, that they were long in per- 
ceiving the embarrassment felt by their kind enter- 
tainers, who had now but a very slender store of 
wine and bread. At length, on the 22d September, 
they departed, followed by four mules carrying their 
instruments and plants. The descent of .the mmd 
chain of the Brigantine and Cocollar, which is aS^ut 
4400 feet in height, is exceedingly difficult. The 
missionaries have given the name of Purgatory to 
an extremely steep and slippery declivity at the base 
of a sandstone rock, in passing which the mules, 
drawing their hind-legs imder their bodies, slide down 
at a venture. From this point they saw towards the 
left the great peak of Guacharo, which presenfed a 
very picturesque i^pearance ; and soon after entered 


a dense forest, through which they descended for 
seven hoars in a kind of ravine, the path being 
formed of steps from two to three feet high, over 
which the moles leaped like wild goats. The Creoles 
have sufficient confidence in these animals to remain 
in their saddles during this dangerous passage ; but 
our travellers preferred walking. 

The forest was exceedingly dense, and consisted 
of trees of stupendous size. The guides pointed 
out some whose height exceeded 130 feet, while the 
diameter of many of the curucays and hymendas 
was more than three yards. Next to these, the plants 
which most attracted their notice were the dragon^s- 
blood (Croton sanguifluvm), the purple juice of which 
flowed along the whitish bark, various species of 
palms, and arborescent ferns of large size. The old 
trunks of some of the latter were covered with a 
carbonaceous powder, having a metallic lustre like 

As they descended the mountain the tree-ferns 
diminished, while the number of palms increased. 
Large-winged butterflies {nymphtdes) became more 
common, and every thing showed that they were 
approaching the coast. The weather was cloudy, 
the heat oppressive, and the howling of the monkeys 
gave indication of a coming thunder-storm. The^e 
creatures, the arguatoes, resemble a young bear, and 
are about three feet long from the top of the head to 
the root of the tail. The fur is tufty and reddish- 
brown, the face blackish-blue, with a bare and 
wrinkled skin, and the tail long and prehensile. 

While engaged in observing a troop of them cross 
the road upon the horizontal branches of the trees, 
the travellers met a company of naked Indians pro- 
ceeding towards the mountains of Caripe. The 
men were armed with bows and arrows, and the 
women, heavily laden, brought up the rear. They 
marched in silence, with their eyes fixed on the 
ground. Our philosophers, oppressed with the in- 

93 , oAffVAao^^ 

creasing heat; and faint withftitiga6,endc <nmi pdt» 
learn from them the distance of the miirtonary i 
vent of Vera 6niz, where they intended to 
the night; but little informatioa ooold. be dM 
on account of their imperfeet knowledge of tbe Spn* 
ish languaf^e. • ' 

Contmnmg to descend amid scattered Uock%.'Qief . 
unexpectedly found themselves at the end. of ma' 
forest, when they entered a savanna,' the veidnEt 
of which had been renewed by the winter niai.. 
Here tibey had a splendid view of the Sieim del 
Guacharo, the northern declivity of which p rese n ted 
an almost perpendicular wall, exceeding 3900 feet ti 
height, and scantily covered with vegetation. The 
ground before them consisted of several level sjjeeeSy 
lyinff eixyve each other like vast steps. The miaikNi 
of Vera Cruz, which is situated in the middle id ft 
they reached in the evening, and next day contimsa 
their journey towards the Gulf of Cariaco. 

Proceeding on their way, they entered anodwr 
forest, and reached the station of Catuaro, situated 
in a very wild spot, where they lodged at the hooM 
of the priest. Their host was a doctor of divinity, 
a thin little man, of petulant vivacity, who talked 
continually of a lawsuit in which he was ennged 
with tbs siQ>erior of his convent, and wished to know 
what Humboldt thought of free-will and the soiils of 
animals. At this place they met with the conrendor 
of the district, an amiable person, who gate tlieiii 
three Indians to assist in cutting a way through the 
forest, the lianas and intertwimng branches having 
obstructed the narrow lanes. The little missiooaiy, 
however, insisted on accompanying them to Cariioo, 
and contrived to render the road extremely tediom 
by his observations on the necessity of the sUfe- 
trade, the innate wickedness of blacks, and the ben- 
efit which they derived from being reduced to 
bondage by Christians. 

The road which they followed through the foirsak 



of Gatoaro resembled that of the preceding day. 
The clay, which filled the path and rendered it ex- 
cessively slippery, was produced by layers of sand- 
stone and slate-clay which cross the calcareous 
strata. At length, alter a fatiguing march, they 
reached the town of Gariaco, on the coast, where 
they found a great part of the inhabitants confined 
to their beds with intermittent fever. The low situa- 
tion of the place, as well as of the surrounding dis- 
trict, the great heat and moisture, and the stagnant 
marshes generated during the rainy season, are 
supposed to be the causes of this disease, which 
often assumes a malignant character, and is accom- 
panied with dysentery. Men of colour, and espe- 
cially Creole negroes, resist the influence of the cli- 
mate much better than any other race. It is gen- 
erally observed, however, that the mortality is less 
than might be supposed ; for although intermittent 
fevers, when they attack the same individual several 
years in succession, alter and weaken the constitu- 
tion, they do not usually cause death. It is remark- 
able that the natives believe the air to have become 
more vitiated in proportion as a larger extent of land 
has been cultivated; but the miasmata from the 
marshes, and the exhalations from the man^ves, 
avicenniae, and other astringent plants growing on 
the borders of the sea, are probably the real causes 
of the unhealthiness of the coasts. 

In 1800 the town of Oariaco contained more than 
6000 inhabitants, who were actively employed in the 
cultivation of cotton, the produce of which ex- 
ceeded 10,000 quintals (9057 lbs. avoirdupois). The 
capsules, after the separation of the wool, were 
carefully burnt, as they were thought to occasion 
noxious exhalations when thrown into the river. 
Gacao and sugar were also raised to a considerable 

As our travellers were not suflScientlv inured to 
the climate, they considered it prudent love^N^Cm- 

94 ' omur or oasuco* 

aco as expeditioualy as possible on accoqni of Hm 
fever. Embarking early in the moniin|], fhey pro- 
ceeded westward along the river of Cannieur. 
which flows through a deep marshy soil oovered 
with gardens and plantations of cotton. Tlie Indin 
women were wamung their Unen with the firnit of 
the parapara {Samruku Mptmiria), Contrary windL 
accompanied with heavy rain and tfamider, rendmd 
the voyage disagreeable; more especially at te 
canoe was narrow and overloaded ivith raw sagar, 
plantains, cocoannts, and passengers. Swarms of 
flamingoes, egrets, and cormorants were fl3riiig to- 
wards the shore, while the alcatras, a large roacMS 
of peUcan, less affected by the weather, con&med 
fismng in the bay. The general depth of the aea is 
from 988 to 330 feet; but at the eastern extremttf 
of the golf it is only from nineteen to twenty-ivt 
feet for an extent of seventeen miles, andthcira is 
a sandbank which at low water resembles a smiB 
island. They crossed the part where the hot spriM 
rush from the bottom of the ocean ; but it being Upl 
water the change of temperature was not very per- 
ceptible. The contrary winds continuing, they wen 
forced to land at Pencautral, a small farm on tbs 
south side of the gulf. The coast, althou^ cof- 
ered by« beautiful vegetation, was almost destitiilt 
of human labour, and scarcely possessed seven hM- 
dred inhabitants. The cocoa^tree is the princtall 
object of cultivation. Tliis palm thrives best in no 
neighbourhood of the sea, and like the susar-caiieytihs 
plantain, the mammee-apple, and the JEiUigator-piBSrt 
may be watered either with fresh or salt water, hi 
other parts of America it is generally nonrislied 
around farm-houses ; but along the Gulf of Caiiaoo 
it forms real plantations, and at Cumana they talk 
of a hacienda de coco^ as they do of a hacienda de 
canna^ or de cacao. In moist and fertile ground it 
begins to bear abundantly the fourth year ; but in 
diy soils it does not prodnce fruit until the tentlu 



Its dor^on does not generally exceed ninety or a 
hundred years ; at which period its mean height is 
about eighty feet. Throughout this coast a cocoa- 
tree supplies annually about a hundred nuts, which 
yield ei^t flascoes of oil. The fiasco is sold for 
about sixteen pence. . A great quantity is made at 
Cumana, and Humboldt frecjuently witnessed the 
arrival there of canoes contaming 3000 nuts. The 
oil, which is clear and destitute of smell, is well 
adapted for burning. 

After sunset they left the farm of Pericautral, and 
at three in the morning reached the mouth of the 
Manzanares, after passing a very indifferent night in 
a narrow and deeply-laden canoe. Having been for 
several weeks accustomed to mountain scenery, 

loomy forests, and rainy weather, they were struck 
the barrenness of the soil, the clearness of the 

ijj and the mass Of reflected light by which the 
neiglibourhood of Cumana is characterized. At sun- 
rise they saw the zamuro vultures (Vtdtur aura), 
perched on the cocoa-trees in large flocks. These 
birds go to roost long before night, and do not quit 
their place of repose until after the heat of the solar 
nyn is felt. The same idleness, as it were, is in- 
dulged by the trees with pinnate leaves, such as the 
mimosas and tamarinds, which close these organs 
half an hour before the sun goes down, and unfold 
them in the morning only after he has been some 
time visible. In our climates the leguminous plants 
open their leaves during the morning twilight. Hum- 
boklt seems to think that the humidit}^ deposited 
upon the parench3rma by the refrigeration of the 
foliage, which is the effect of the nocturnal radia- 
tion, prevents the action of the first rays of the sun 
upon them. 



Indians of New-Andalusia. 

Physical ConatUatlon and Mannera of the ChajuiM Thair 
guagea— American Racea. 

It is the custom of Humboldt, in his ** Jonrney to 
the Equinoctial Region/* to stand still after an ex« 
cursion, reflect, and present to his readers the remit 
of his inquiries on any subject that has fixed his at- 
tention. For example, on concluding the narrathre 
of his visit to the Chayma missions, he gives a geA- 
eral account of the aborigines of New-Aiidalasia, of 
which an abridgment is here offered. 

The north-eastern part of equinoctial America, 
Terra Firma, and the snores of the Orinoco, resem- 
ble, in the multiplicity of the tribes by which they 
are inhabited, the defiles of Caucasus, the mountaiQS 
of Hindookho, and the northern extremity of Asia, 
beyond the Tungooses and the Tartars of the mouth 
of the Lena. The barbarism which prevails in theae 
various regions is perhaps less owing to an oridnal 
absence of civilization than to t)ie effects of a loQg 
debasement ; and if every thing connected with the 
first population of a continent were known, we should 
probably find that savages are merely tribes baniahed 
from society and driven into the forests. At the 
commencement of the conquest of America, the nS' 
tives were collected into large bodies only on the 
ridge of the Cordilleras and the coast opposite to 
Asia, while the vast savannas, and the great plaioe 
covered by forests and intersected by rivers, pre- 
sented wandering tribes, separated by difTerenceaof 
language and manners. 

In New- Andalusia, Cumana, and New-Barcelooa, 


WltD AND CltnUXED 1NBIAH8. 97 

the aborigines still form fully one-half of the scanty 
population. Their number may be about 60,000, of 
which 34,000 inhabit the, first of these provinces. 
This amount appears large when we refer to the 
hunting tribes of North America, but seems the re- 
verse when we look to those districts of New-Spain 
where agriculture has been followed for more than 
eight centuries. Thus, the intendancy of Oaxaca, 
which forms part of the old Mexican empire, and 
which is one-third smaller than the two provinces 
of Cumana and Barcelona, contains more than 400,000 
of the original race. The Indians of Cumana do not 
aQ live assembled in the missions, some being found 
dispersed in the neighbourhood of towns along the 
OMsts. The stations of the Arragonese Capuchins 
contain 15,000, almost all of the Ohayma tribe. The 
villages, however, are less crowded than in the 
povmce of Barcelona, their indigenous population 
being only between five and six hundred ; whereas, 
more to the west, in the establishments of the Fran- 
ciscans of Piritoo, there are towns of 2000 or 3000 
inhabitants. Besides the 60,000 natives of the prov- 
inces of Cumana and Barcelona, there are some 
thousands of Guaraounoes who have preserved their 
independence in the islands at the mouth of the 
Orinoco. Excepting a few families there are no wild 
Indians in New-Andalusia. 

The term wild or savage Humboldt says he uses 
with re^t, because it implies a difference of cultiva- 
tion which does not always exist between the re- 
duced or civilized Indian, living in the missions, and 
the free or independent Indian. In the forests of 
South America there are tribes which dwell in vil- 
lages, rear plantains, cassava, and cotton, and are 
scarcely more barbarous than those in the religious 
establishments, who have been taught to make the 
ngn of the Cross. It is an error to consider all the 
free natives as wandering hunters ; for agriculture 
•xisled on the continent long before the simv^V. ol 



the Europeans, and still e^sts between tl 
and the Amazons, in districts to' which 
never penetrated. The system of the mi 
produced an attachment to landed propei 
residence, and a taste for quiet life ; but tl 
Indian is often as Uttle a Christian as hi 
brother is an idolater, — ^both discovering 
indifference for religious opinions, and a t( 
worship nature. 

There is no reason to beheve that in t] 
colonies the number of Indians has dimini 
the conquest. There are still more tha 
lions of the copper-coloured race in both 
and although tribes and languages hav( 
stroyed or blended in those colonies, t 
have in fact continued to increase. In the 
zone the contact of Europeans with the 
population becomes fatal to the latter ; bi 
America the result is different, and the 
not dread the approach of the whites. In 
case a vast extent of country is required 
dians, because they live by hunting ; but i 
a small piece of ground suffices to afford & 
for a family. 

In these provinces the Europeans advar 
and the religious' orders have founded esta 
between the regions inhabited by them 
possessed by the independent Indians, 
sions have no doubt encroached on the lib 
natives, but they have generally been fa> 
the increase of the population. As the 
advance into the interior the planters in 
territory, the whites and the castes of m 
settle among the Indians, the missions bee 
ish villages, and finally the old inhabitants 
original manners and language. In this 
zation advances from the coasts towards 
of the continent. 

New-Andalusia and Barcelona contain 


fourteen tribes of Indians. Those of the fonner are 
the Chaymas, Guayqterias, Pariagotoes, Quaquas, 
Amacas, Caribs, and Guaraounoes ; and those of the 
latter, the Cnmanagatoes, Palenkas, Caribs, Piritoos, 
Tomoozas, Topocuares, Chacopatas, and Guarivas. 
The precise number of the Guaraounoes, who live 
in huts elevated on trees at the mouth of the Ori- 
noco, 18 not known. There are two thousand Guay- 
querias in the suburbs of Cumana and the peninsula 
of AnyR, Of the other tribes the Chaymas of the 
mountains of Caripe, the Caribs of New-Barcelona, 
and the Cumanagatoes of the missions of Piritoo, 
are the most numerous. The language of the 
Guaraounoes, and that of the Caribs, Cumanagatoes, 
and Chaymas, are the most general, and seem to 
belong to the same stock. 

Although the Indians attached to the missions are 
all agriciSturists, cultivate the same plants, build 
their huts in the same manner, and lead the same 
kind of life, yet the shades by which the several 
tribes are distinguished remain unchanged. There 
are few of these villages in which the families do 
not belong to different tribes, and speak different 
languages. The missionaries have, indeed, pro- 
hibited the use of various practices and ceremonies, 
and have destroyed many superstitions; but they 
have not been able to alter the essential character 
common to all the American races, from Hudson^s 
Bay to the Straits of Magellan. The instructed In- 
dian, more secure of su&istence than the untamed 
native, and less exposed to the fury of hostile neigh- 
bours or of the elements, leads a more monotonous 
life, possesses the mildness of character which 
arises from the love of repose, and assumes a sedate 
and mysterious air ; but the sphere of his ideas has 
received little enlargement, and the expression of 
melancholy which his countenance exhibits is merely 
the result of indolence. 

The Chaymas, of whom more than fifteen thousand 



iphatnt the SiMmish viDiges, and wbo bofder on tti 
Cumanagatoes towards the west, the GomoaMM 
towards the east, and the Caribstowaidi the aoH^ 
occupy part of the elevated moantams of flie 0»* 
collar and Gtiacharo, as also the banks of tihio Gm- 
rapichc, Rio Colorado, Areo, and the Cano of Gu^Si 
The first attempt to reduce them to subjoctioa « 
made m the middle of the seventeenth centmj, ty 
Father Francisco of Pamplona, a peiwm of (Ml 
zeal and intrepidity. The mission SQbaaqMB^f 
formed among mese people suffered greatly in IM, 
1697, and 1720, from the invasions of the OnAi; 
while during six years subsequently to 1790^ <hi 
population was diminished by the ravages of .<ki 

The Chaymas are generally of low ataftan, iUt 
ordinary height being about five feet two inchi; 
but their figures are broad and muscular. The eolflV 
of the skin is a dull brown, inclining to red. Thi 
expression of the countenance is se&te and 

what globmy ; the forehead is small and retiing; 
the eyes sunk, very long and black, but not so Mil 
or oblique as in the MongoUan race ; the eyebmat 
slender, nearly straight, and black or daik-farowBi 
and the eyelids furnished with very long lariMs; 
the cheek-bones are usually high, ti^e hair 8tia||^ 
the beard almost entirely wanting, as in the MM 
people, from whom, however, they differ eaaentiaftr 
in having the nose pretty lon^. The mouth ■ 
"Wide, the lips broad but not promment, the chin flfr 
tremely short and round, and the jaws lemaiMil 
for their strength. The teeth are white and aowA 
the toothache being a disease with which tfaey M 
seldom afilicted. The hands are small waA doiiaK 


while the feet are large, and the toes 
an extraordinary mobility. They have ao Blieafl 
family look, that on entering a hut it is often ditteS^ 
among grown-up persons, to distinguish the firtttf 
from Qie son. This is attributable to the 

TBfent MANNERS. 101 

stance of their only marrying in their own tribe, as 
well as to their inferior degree of intellectual im- 
{Nrovement ; the differences between uncivilized and 
cultivated man being similar to those between wild 
and domesticated animals of the same species. 

As they live in a very warm country, they are ex- 
cessively averse to clothing. In spite of the remon- 
strances of the monks, men and women remain naked 
while within their houses ; and, when they go out, 
wear only a kind of cotton gown scarcely reaching 
to the knees. The dress of the men has sleeves, 
while that of the women and boys has none ; the 
arms, shoulders, and upper part of the breast being 
ancovered. Till the age of nine the girls are allowed 
to go to church naked. The missionaries complain 
that the feeling of modesty is very Uttle known to 
the younger of the sex. The women are not hand- 
some ; -but the maidens have a kind of pleasant mel- 
ancholy in their looks. No instances of natural de- 
formity occurred to the travellers. Humboldt re- 
marks, that deviations from nature are exceedingly 
rare among certain races of men, especially such as 
have the skin highly coloured ; an effect which he 
does not ^ascribe solely to a luxurious life or the cor- 
ruption of morals, but rather imagines that the im- 
munity enjoyed by the American Indians arises from 
hereditary organization. The custom of marrying 
at a very early age, which depends upon the same 
circumstance, is stated to be no way detrimental to 
population. It occurs in the most northern parts 
of the continent as well as in the warmest, and 
therefore is not dependent upon chmate. 

They have naturally very httle hair on the chin, 
and the little tliat appears is carefully plucked out. 
This thinness of the beard is common to the Ameri- 
can race, although there are tribes, such as the 
Chipe ways and the Patagonians, in which it assumes 
respectable dimensions. 

The Ct^ymas lead a very regular and uniform 




< life. They fo to bed w^mfmumA rim 9^hiMitt)m 
four. The mide of fbeir Inte is IcBpt'Viqr eliav 
and UMir ImiiiiiodEB, utensils, sod wmaom-wm'^tn 
nuiged in the greatest order. Ther nflM mm§ 
day, and, being generally naked, are thi» siaaani 

bydothiBf. 7N» 

Iran the iDtti piincipalfy' caused 
sidea their csfain in uie Tillage, thqr usoaD^f 
amaDer one, conned with pahn or pi«"*«te |bti|^ 
in sosM sditaiy place in the wood%to wUebMf 
retire aa often aa tiiqr can; and ao stray Is 4fe| 

desire amonff them of eiyojing the . ^ 

aavage life, trat the children som^inieainDiderM 
tire &y8 in the forests. In fiu:»t,'the towns ava 
almost wholly deserted. As in iJl steii4iuiiMi 
nations, the women are siibjected to privatkMi 
suffering, the hardest labour fiilling to thehr aharai^ 

Hie Indians lesm Spanish with extreme dilleullpi 
and ewen when they perfectly undeistaiid the msa^i 
ufg of the words, are unable to ezpreaa the asasl 
simple i^»B8 in that language without nmhaiiiaw 
ment They^ seem to have as little eapaeitj* lor 
comprehendmg any thing belonging to nnmben; Um 
more intelligent counting in Spanish witili the ap« 
pearance of great effort only as far as thirty^ orpev* 
haps fifty, while in their own tongue they eumot 
proceed beyond five or aiz. The construetiomf te 
American dialecta is so different firom that cf tti 
several classes of speech derived firom the Ulii, 
that the Jesuits employed some of the more peiisal 
among the former instead of their own; and hid ttis 
system been generally followed the greatest benstt 
would have resulted frotti it. The Chayma npnoaiai 
to Humboldt less agreeable to the ear than uat of 
the other South American tribes. 

The Pariagotoes, or Parias, formerly dccnpiedtttf 
coasts of Berbice and Essequibo, the peninsula 4tf 
Paria, and the plains of Piritoo and Parana. LMi 
information, hoi^ever, is furnished rejecting tbeik 

The Guaxaounoes are disperaed in the delta of th^ 


Orinoco, and owe their independence to the nature 
of their coontry. In order to raise their houses 
above the inundations of the river, they support 
them on the trunks of the mangrove and mauritia 
palm. They make bread of the lour obtained from 
the pith of the latter tree. Their excellent qualities 
as seamen, their perfect knowledge of the mouths 
and inosculations of that magnificent stream, and 
their great number, give them a certain degree of 
political importance. They run with great address 
on marshy ground, where the whites, the negroes, 
or other Indian tribes, will not venture ; and this 
circumstance has given rise to the idea of their 
being specifically lighter than the rest of the natives. 

The Guayquerias are the most intrepid fishermen 
of these countries, and are the only persons well 
acquainted with the great bank that surrounds the 
islands of Coche, Margarita, Sola, and Testigos. 
They inhabit Margarita, the. peninsula of Araya, and 
a suburb of Cumana. 

The Quaquas, formerly a very warlike tribe, are 
now mingled with the Chaymas attached to the mis- 
sions of Cumana, although their original abode was 
on the banks of the Assiveru. 

The Gumanagatoes, to the number of more than 
twenty thousand, subject to the Christian stations 
of Piritoo, live westward of Cumana, where they 
cultivate the ground. At the beginning of the six- 
teenth century they inhabited the mountains of the 
Bngantine and Parabolota. 

"nie Caribbees of these countries are part of the 
remnant of the grieat Carib nation. 

The natives of America may be divided into two 
great classes. To the first belong the Esquunaux 
of Greenland, Labrador, and Hudson's Bay, and the 
inhabitants of Behring's Straits, Alaska, and Prince 
William's Sound. The eastern and western branches 
of this great family, the Esquimaux proper and the 
TBchougages, are united by the most intitaaX^ v^tEa- 

IQi JUEtmnfaB at omoHA. 

hritf of language, allhoiigh aepaiated to the 
mense diatance of eight hundred leagues. /The 
hiJMtants of the north-east of Asia are evidenttj 
the same stock. Like the Malays, this hypeiboi 
nation resides only on the seaeoast. lliey an 
smaller stature than the other Americans,. Uv^y 
loquacious. Their hair is straight and Uack ; 
their ^in is originally white, in which respect t 
esseotially difler from the other dass. 
The second race is dispersed over the yariooi 

rB of the continent, from the northern part 
southern extremity. They are of larger i 
more warlike, and more taciturn, and differ in 
colour of their skin. At the earliest age it has d 
or less of a coppery tinge in most of the tril 
while in others the children are fair, or neiu^ 
and certain tribes on the Orinoco preserve the m 
oomplezion during their whole me. Humbold 
of oiHnion that tl^se differences in colour are 
sUghtly in^enced by chmate or other external 
cumstaqces, and endeavomrs to impress the i 
that tiiey depend on the original constitution. 


Residence at Cumana. 

BMMflBce at Canaoft— AtCMk of a Zambo— BellpM «r Ha I 
Eztraordinarv Atmoapberieal Plianoaien>— Sfco^a of an Eaitl^ 
— Lmninoaa Mcteon. 

Our travellers remained a month longer at 
mana. As they had determined to make a voj 
on the Orinoco and Rio Negro, preparations of 
rious kinds were necessary ; and the astronon 
determination of places being the most impor 
okliect of this undertaking, it was of essential ad* 


tage to observe an eclipse of the sun which was to 
h^pen in the end of October. 

dn the 27th, the day before the obscuration, they 
went out in the evening, as usual, to take the air. 
Croning the beach which separates the suburb of 
the Gua3rqneria8 from the landing place, they heard 
the sound of footsteps behind, and on turning saw a 
tall i^mbo, who, coming up, flourished a great palm- 
tree bludgeon over Humboldrs head. He avoided 
the stroke by leaping aside ; but Bonpland was less 
fortunate ; for, receiving a blow above the temple, 
he was felled to the groimd. The former assisted 
his companion to rise, and both now pursued the 
rnffian, who had run off with one of their hats, and 
on being seized, drew a long knife from his -trou- 
sers, hi the mean time some Biscayan merchants, 
who were walking on the shore, came to their as- 
sistance; when the Zambo, seeing himself sur- 
roonded, took to his heels, and sought refuge in a 
cowhouse, from which he was led to prison. The 
inhabitants showed the warmest concern for the 
strangers ; and although Bonpland had a fever dur- 
ing the night, he speedily recovered. The object 
of the Zambo, who soon afterward succeeded in 
escaping from the castle of San Antonio, was never 
satisfactorily made out. 

Notwithstanding this untoward accident, Hum- 
boldt was enabled to observe the eclipse. The days 
which preceded and followed it displayed very re- 
markable atmospheric phenomena. It was what is 
called winter in those countries. From the lOth of 
October to the 3d of November a reddish vapour 
rose in the evening, and in a few minutes covered 
the sky. The hygrometer gave no indication of hu- 
midity. The diurnal heat was from 82-4° to 896°. 
Sometimes in the midst of the night the mist dis- 
appeared for a moment, when clouds of a brilliant 
whiteness formed in the zenith, and extended to- 
wards the horizon. On the 18th of October they 

106 XAftTHQlTAnE. 

were 80 transparent that ihey did not ooaoeil jIhs 
even 6f the fourth magnitude, and the nets <if At 
moon were very clearly distinguished. They wan 
arranged in masses at equal Sstanees, and MeeMed 
to be at a prodigious height. From the 88th o^O0> 
tober to the 3d of November the fog was thiiAflr 
than it had yet been. The heat at night wa» stiiiK 
although the thermometer indicated only 7M^ 
The^evening breeze was no longer felt ; the aky if* 
^peared as if on fire, and the ground wwieyerymum 
cracked and dusty. On the 4th of NoTember aboil 
two in the afternoon, large clouds of extnundiumj 
blackness enveloped the mountains of the Brl g m tiM 
and Tataraqual, extending gradually to tiie M&pMlk 
About four, thunder was heard overhead, but flk m 
immeinse height, and with a dull and often inM^ 
rupted sound. At the moment of the rtroofeift 
electric explosion, two shocks of an earihqgHkib 
separated by an interval of fifteen seconds, win 
felt. The people in the streets filled the air wifc 
their <;ries. Bonpland, who was examining jHWii 
was nearly thrown on the floor, and Humboldt, iriii 
was lying in his hammock, felt the concoMiot 
strongly. Its direction was from north to aoiAi 
A few minutes before the first there was a violfliit 
gust of wind followed by large drops of rain. TiM 
sky remained cloudy, and the blast was succeeded fay 
a dead calm, which continued all night. The settiaf 
of the sun presented a scene of great magnificeBcei 
The dark atmospheric sluroud was rent asmider daat 
to the horizon, and the sun appeared at IS^ of alti> 
tude on an indigo ground, its disk enormonalj d^ 
larged and distorted. The clouds were gnlded oa 
the edges, and bundles of rays refiectinff the BMMt 
brilliant prismatic c<|)ours extended over me heafeM 
About nine in the evening there was a third Bboidk^ 
which, although much slighter, was evidently it- 
tended with a subterranean noise. The barometffr 
was a little lower than usual, but the progreas of <ki 


KoraxT variations was in no way interrupted. In 
the nigiit, between the 3d and 4th of November, the 
red vioibur was so thick that the place of the mooQ 
could oe distinguished only by a beautifid halo, 20^^ 
in diameter. 

Scarcely twenty-two months had elapsed since 
the almost total destruction of Cumana by an earth- 
quake ; and as the people look on the vapours, and 
the failure of the breeze during the night, as prog- 
nostics of disaster, the travellers had frequent visits 
from persons desirous of knowing whether their in- 
struments indicated new shocks on the morrow. On 
the 5th, precisely at the same hour, the same phe- 
nomena recurred, but without any agitation ; and 
the gust, accompanied by thunder, returned period- 
ically for fiye or six days. 

This earthquake, being the first that Humboldt 
ever felt, made a strong impression upon him ; but 
scenes of this kind afterward became so familiar as 
to excite little apprehension. It appeared to have a 
sensible influence on the magnetical phenomena. 
Soon after his arrival on the coasts of Cumana, he 
found the dip of the needle 43*53° of the centesimal 
division. On the 1st November it was 43 65°. On 
the 7th, three days after the concussion, he was 
astonished to find it no more than 42*75°, or 90 cen- 
tesimal degrees less. A year later, on his return 
from the Orinoco, he Still found it 42*80°, though the 
intensity of the magnetic forces remained the same 
after as before the event under consideration, being 
expressed by 229 oscillations in ten minutes of time. 
On the 7th November he observed the magnetic va- 
riation to be 4° 13' 50" E. 

The reddish vapour which appeared about sunset 
ceased on the 7th November. The atmosphere then 
assumed its former purity ; and the night of the 11th 
was cool and extremely beautiful. Towards morn- 
ing a very extraordinary displav of luminous meteors 
was observed in the east by M. Bonpland, who had 

108 LimiNOUS ]IETKOR0« 

risen to enjoy the freshness of the air in the gallerjr 
Thousands of fireballs and falling-stars succeeded 
each other during four hours, having a direction 
from north to south, and filling a space of the sky 
extending from the true east 30 degrees on either 
side. They rose above the horizon at E.N.E. and 
at E., described arcs of various sizes, and fell to- 
wards S., some attaining a height of 40^, and all ex- 
ceeding 25° or 30°. No trace of clouds was to be 
seen, and a very sUght easterly wind blew in the 
lower regions of the atmosphere. All the metems 
left luminous traces from five to ten degrees in 
length, the phosphorescence of which lasted seven or 
eight seconds. The fireballs seemed to ezplodSf 
but the largest disappeared without scintiilatioii ; 
and many of the falling-stars had a very distinct 
nucleus, as large as the disk of Jupiter, from which 
sparks were emitted. The light occasioned by than 
was white, — an effect which must be attributed to 
the absence of vapours ; stars of the first magnitude 
having, within the tropics, a much paler hue atdieir 
rising than in Europe. 

As the inhabitants of Cumana leave their houses 
before four, to attend the first morning mass, meet 
of them were witnesses of this phenomenon, which 
gradually ceased soon after, although some were 
still perceived a quarter of an hour Ix^fore sunrise. 

The day of the 12th November was exceedingly 
hot, and in the evening the reddish vapour reap- 
peared in the horizon, and rose to the height of 14^. 
This was the last time it was seen that year. 

The researches of M. Chladni having directed the 
attention of the scientific world to fireoalls and fall- 
ing-stars at the period of Humboldt^s departure from 
home, he did not fail to inquire, during his journey 
from Caraccas to the Rio Negro, whether the me- 
teors of the 12th November had been seen. He 
found that they had been observed by various indi- 
viduals in places very remote from each other i and 


00 retuniiiig to Europe was astonished to find that 
they had been seen there also. The following is a 
brief account of the facts relating to these phenom- 
ena .^ — Ist, The luminous meteors were 9een in the 
E. and E.N.E. at 40° of elevation, from 2 to 6 A.M., 
It Cumana, in lat. 10° 27' 52", long. 66° 30' ; at Porto 
Cabeno, in. lat. 10° 6' 52", long. 67° 5'; and on the 
frontiers of Brazil, near the equator, in long. 70° 
west. 2dly, The Count de Marbois observed them 
in French Guiana, lat. 4° 56', long. 54° 35'. 3dly, 
Mr. Ellicot, astronomer to the United States, being 
in the Gulf of Florida on the 12th November, saw 
an immense number of meteors, some of which ap- 
peared to fall perpendicularly ; and the same phe- 
nomenon was perceived on the American continent 
as far as lat. 30° 42'. 4thly, In Labrador, in lat. 56° 
SS', and lat. 58° 4' ; in Greenland, in latitudes 61° 5' 
and 64° 14', the natives were frightened by the vast 
quantity of fireballs that fell during twilight, some 
of them of great size. Sthly, In Germany, Mr. 
Zeissing, vicar of Itterstadt near Weimar, in lat. 60° 
59', long. 9° 1' E., observed, between 6 and 7 in the 
morning of the 12th November, some falling-stars 
having a very white light. Soon after reddish 
streaks appeared in the S. and S.W. ; and at dawn 
the south-western part of the sky was from time to 
time illuminated by white lightning running in ser- 
pentine lines along the horizon. 

Calculating from these facts, it is manifest that 
the height of the meteors was at least 1419 miles ; 
and as near Weimar they were seen in the S. and 
S.W., while at Cumana they were observed in the 
E. and N.E., we must conclude that they fell into 
the sea between Africa and South Amenca, to the 
west of the Cape Verd Islands. 

Without entering into the learned discussion whjch 
Humboldt submits to his readers, respecting the na- 
ture of these Imninous bodies, we shall merely ob- 
serve, tl^t he found falling-stars more {iev\uQivV \\\ 



the equiaoctiBl fegious than tn the temperate zuof, 
and a&o that they occurred Wiener over continenU 
and near certaia coasts thaa on the ocean. He 
states, that on the idatform of the Andes, there wu 
observed, npwatda of forty years ago, a. phenom- 
enon mmilar to mat related sbove aa having ay 
curred at Cumana. From the cily of Quito an ir 
mense number of meteors was seen rising- over tL. 
TOlcano of Cayambo, msomuch thdt tiie wtiol* 
mountain was thought to be on lire. Tliey con- 
timied more than an hour, and a religious processifli 
was about to be commenced, wlieii the true ni 
of the luminouB appearance was discovered. 


Voyage from Cumana 'o Guayra, 

FUM(> ftom Ciimus lo Li Gotyi*— PlHH|iliDiriircnrf cr me i^i 
Gnnpcf Iha CviocAi ud Chlmiiiiu— Fnfl or >BW-Ban»loi]«- 1 
Oujn — ThUow YvfiK — OoiM tfod Cijia BIbdcd — Ea«d Ihim L 

Havois completed the partialinvestigationswhtcli j 
their short residence admitted, and having in aomt 
measure become acclimatized, the adventurous plii 
loso^diera prepared to leaTfi Cumana. Passing h<j I 
sea to La Gnayra, they intended to t:ike up tlieir 
abode inthe town of Caraccas until the rainy Bea«oTi 
should be over j from thence to traverse the LlaiKis, 
or great plains, to the missions of the Orinoco ; Xo 

&up thai rirtr as br as the Rio Negro ; and to tt- 
ito Ouinana by Angostura, the capilalofSpanisli 

«n the 16th November, at eight in the even]B^,_ 
they took their passage in one of the boats wh' 
trade between these coasts and the West U^ 



islands. They are thirty-two feet long, three feet 
high at the gunwale, without decks, and generally 
carry from 200 to 250 quintals (181 to 226 cwts. 
avoudupois). Although the sea is very roueh from 
Gape Godera to La Guayra, and these boats have an 
enormous triangular sail, there had .not been an in- 
stance for thirty years of the loss of one of them 
on the passage from Cumana to Caraccas, so great 
is the skill of the Guayqueria pilots. They de- 
scended the Manzanares with rapidity, deUghted 
with the sight of its marginal cocoa-trees, and the 
^tter of the thorny bushes covered with noctilu- 
cous insects, and left with regret a country in which 
every thing had appeared new and marvellous. 
Passing at high water the bar of the river, they en- 
tered the Gulf Of Cariaco, the surface of which was 
gently rippled by the evening breeze. In a short 
time the coasts were recognised only by the scat- 
tered lights of the Indian fishermen. 

As they advanced towards the shoal that sur- 
rounds Cape Arenas, stretching as far as the petro- 
leum springs of Maniquarez, they enjoyed one of 
those beautiful sights which the phosphorescence of 
the sea so often displays in tropical climates. When 
the porpoises, which followed the boat in bands of 
fifteen or sixteen, struck the surface of the water 
with their tails, they produced a brilliant light re- 
sembling flames. Each troop left behind it a lumi- 
nous track ; and as few sparks were caused by the 
motion of an oar or of the boat, Humboldt conjectured 
that the vivid glow produced by these cetaceous ani- 
mals was owing, not to the stroke of their tails sdone, 
but also to the gelatinous matter which envelops 
their bodies, and which is detached by the waves. 

At midnight they found themselves among some 
rocky islets, rising in the form of bastions, and con- 
stituting the group of the Caraccas and Chiroanas. 
Many of these eminences are visible from Cumana, 
and present the most singular appearances under 


114 . nii^IfD or BOEACOA. 

the effect ef mirage. Their height, wbiiA itpcsb^ 
ably not more than 960 feet^ seemed miuch mitm 
when enlightened by t^ moon, which now Moagfci 
a clear eky. The travellers were becahnod a'Ai 
neighbourhood of these islands, and at soiuiM dnftd 
towards Boracha, the largest of them. The \vmi(ih 
ature had sensibly increased, in conseqneAoe oTttt 
rocks giving out by radiation a portion of flie halt 
which they had absoibed during the day. Am Ae 
sun rose, the cliffs projected their leogtnened iW* 
ows on the ocean, and the flamingoes benn to M 
in the creejus. The insular spots were au iininliA 
ited; but on one of them, which had formerly bM 
the residence of a family of whites, there were vfii * 
goats of a large size and brown colour. The iiM* 
itants had cidtivated maize and cassava; hot Ike 
father, jafter the death of his children, having 
chased two black slaves, was murdered by ~ 
One of the assassins subsequently informed a_ 
his accomplice, and at the time of Humboldt's viat 
was hangman at Cumana. 

Proceeding onwards, they anchored forfSOM 
hours in the road of New-Barcelona, at the moitt 
of the river Neveri, which is full of crocodite 
These animals, especially in calm weather, ooet 
sionally make excursions into the open sea, — aftcl 
which is interesting to geologists, on account of Ike 
mixture of marine and fresh water organic remaiv 
that are occasionally observed in some of the mm 
recent deposites. The port of Barcelona had lA 
that time a very active commerce, arising from (he 
demand in the West Indies for salted proviaifMi 
oxen, mides, and horses ; the merchants of the Ha- 
vana being the principal purchasers. Its ntw- 
tion is extremely favoorable for this expoitatKMii 
the animals arriving in three days from the LKaoOBi 
while they take more than double that time to nack 
Cumana, on account of the chain of mountains whidh 
they have to cross. Eight thousand mules weie 


embarked at Barcelona, six Uiousand at Porto Ca- 
bello, and three thousand at Carupano, in 1799 and 
]800, for the several islands. 

Landing on the right bank of the river, they as- 
cended to a small fort, the Morro de Barcelona, built 
on a calcareous rock, at an elevation of about 400 
feet above the sea, but commanded by a much higher 
hill on the south. Here they observed a very curi- 
ous geological phenomenon, which recurred in the 
Cordilleras of Mexico. The limestone, which had 
a dull, even, or flat conchoidal fracture, and was 
divided into very thin strata, was traversed by layers 
of black slaty jasper, with a similar fracture, and 
breaking into fragments having a parallelopipedal 
form. It did not exhibit the little veins of quartz so 
common in Lydian stone, and was decomposed at 
the surface into a yellowish-gray crust. 

Setting sail on the 19th at noon, they found tlu; 
temperature of the sea at its surface to be 78*6° ; 
but when passing through the narrow channel which 
separates the Piritoos, in three fathoms it was only 
76' 1°. These islands do not rise more than eight 
or nine inches above the mean height of the tide, 
and are covered with long grass. To the westward 
of the Morro de Barcelona and the mouth of the 
river Unare, the ocean became more and more agi- 
tated as they approached Cape Codera, the influence 
of which extends to a great distance. Beyond this 
promontory it always runs very high, although a 
gale of wind is never felt along this coast. It blew 
fresh during the night, and on the 20th, at sunrise, 
they were so far advanced as to be in expectation 
of doubling the cape in a few hours ; but some of 
the passe np^ers having suflered from sea-sickness, 
and the pilot being apprehensive of danger from the 
privateers stationed near La Guayra, they made for 
the shore, and anchored at nine o'clock in the Bay 
of Iliguerota, westward of the Rio Capaya. 

On landing, they found two or three huts inhab- 

116 . 'lUVJGttpnBs. 

ited by fliestuEO fishermeivtlie Uwid tint of Wfkamt 
to^tl»9r with the miMnble appearance of ttiir 
chil^n, gave indicatioa of the unhealthy .natoa^flf 
the coast. The sea is so shallow that one domolta. 
ashore in the smallest boat without wadingr.' l|»^. 
woods come nearly to the beach, which is covofi 
Mpth numgroves) aticenniaat manchineel-teeea|-aal 
Suriana mmitima, called (yy the natives ronwrv ife Ip 
mar. Here, as elsewhere, 1^ insalaMQr of tiie ife 
is attributed to the exhalations from the first of thespt' 
plants. A faint and sickly smeD was perceivedi ni^, 
semhling that of the galleries of deserted miMii 
The temperature rose to 93*2^, and the water aloqt 
the whole coast 4icqnired a yellowish-brown tw 
wherever it was in contact with these trees. 

Struck by this phenomenon, Humboldt gatlwnA 
a considerable quantity of branches and roots, will . 
the view of making experiments on the mangmt 
upon his arrival at Caraccas. The infusion in wanr 
water was of a brown colour, and had an astringsiii 
taste. It contained extractive matter and tanma. 
When kept in contadt>with atmospheric air under a 
glass jar for twelve days, the purity of the kttei 
was not perceptibly affected. The wood and roots 
placed under water were exposed to the rays of the 
sun. Bubbles of air were disengaged, which at tha. 
end of ten days amounted to a volume of 40 cobie 
inches. These consisted of azote and carbonic add, 
with a trace of oxygen. Lastly, the same subatasiral' 
thoroughly wetted were enclosed with a given voir 
ume of atmospheric air in a phial. The wlu^ of 
the oxygen disappeared. These experiments lad 
him to think that it is the moistened bark and fibva 
that act upon the atmosphere, and not the browniak 
water which formed altustinct belt along the coast 
Many travellers attribute the smell perceived amoBf 
mangroves to the disengagement of sulnhnretted 
hydn^n,. but no appearance of this kind was ob- 
served in the course of these investigationa. 



fiides,^^ says Humboldt, " a thick wood cover- 
Duddy ground would diffuse noxious exhala- 
n the atmosphere, were it composed of trees 
in themselves have no deleterious property. 
)ver mangroves grow on the margin of the 
e beach is peopled with multitudes of mol- 
ind insects. These animals prefer the shade 
faint light ; and fmd shelter from the waves 
* the closely interlaced roots which rise like 
-work above the surface of the water. Shells 
themselves to the roots, crustaceous animals 
in the hollow trunks, the seaweeds which 
ind and tide drive upon the shore remain 
g upon the recurved branches. In this man- 
e maritime forests, by accumulating masses 
1 among their roots, extend the domain of the 
ents; but, in proportion as they gain upon 
a, they scarcely experience any increase in 
h, their very progress becoming the cause of 
Icstruction. The mangroves and the other 
with which they always associate die as the 
I dries, and wlicn the salt-water ceases to 
them. Centuries after, their decayed trunks, 
d with sliclls, and hiilf-buried in the sand, 
both tlie route wliich they have followed in 
nigrations, and tlie limit of the land which 
ave wrested from the ocean." 
3 Codera, seven miles distant from the Bay of 
Ota, is more inii)Osing on account of its mass 
or its elevation, whicli appeared to be only 
;et. It is precipitous on the north, west, and 
Judging from thci fragments of rock found 
he coast, and from the hills near the town, 
)miM>sed of foliated gneiss, containing nodules 
dish felspar, aiwl little quartz. The strata 
le hay hav** the same dip and din^ction as the 
noiiiitaiii (»r th(> Silla, which str(*t(;he8 from 
as lo Mani(|iianv/ in the isthmus of A raya, 
■*ni to pnivr that the primitiv«> chain forming 

» , •• 

lis 'AUmrAC AT tA OtAnA.* ^ 

that ntck of land, after being disrnpCimd or 
lowed up by theniea 'along an extent of 191 
reappears at Cape Codera, and runs westward 
unbroken line. Towards the north the cm \ 
an immense segment of a sphere, and at ita 
stretches a tract of low land, kiu>wn to nsfiMMl 
by the name of the Points of Tutuiho and or Ml 
Francisco. ' • ^ 

The passengers in the boat dreaded the 
a rough sea so much, that they resolved to 
to Oaraccas by land, and M. Bonpland, I 
their example, procured a rich couection of . 
Humboldt, however, continued the voyage^ iatt 
seemed hazardott to lose sight of the iiiiiliiimiMM' 

Setting sail at the beffinning of the niMf iMf 
doubled Cape Codera with difficulty, the wmd IMM 
unfavourable, and the surges short and UglL S 
the Slst of November, at sunrise, they were onfl^ 
site Curuao, to the west of the cape. The lHH| 
pilot was frightened at seeing an English fHgateoi^ 
a mile distant ; bu^they escaped without attia e Ui l 
notice. The mountains were everywhere pree^ 
tous, and from 3300 to 4300 feet hi^, while amf 
the shore was a tract of low humid land, f^owkf 
with verdure, and producing a great part of the fllili 
found so abundantly in the neighbouring mariwli. 
The peaks of Niguatar and the Silla of 
form the loftiest summits of this chain, la 

fields and valleys the sugar-cane and maiaa are 

tivated. . To the west of Caravalleda th^^ociivllill 
along-shore are again very steep. After oaaaiafttli 
place they discovered the village of BucotOi tta 
black rocks of La Guayra covered with baittirim; 
and in the. distance the long promonto^j of CMb 
Blanco, with conical summits of daailuif '^^'^ 
ness. ^' 

Humboldt landed at Guayra, iand in flia 
arrived at Caraccas, four d^s sooner tbah hia 
low-travellers, who had suffered greatly IhWi 


rains aod inimdatioiis. The former he describes as 
ntlier a road than a port, the sea being always agi- 
tated, and ships suffering from the action of the wind, 
the Udewzys, the bad anchorage, and the worms. 
Tlie lading is taken in with difficulty. The free mu- 
lattoea and negroes, who carry the cocoa on board 
the ships, are remarkable for their strength. They 
go through the water up to their middles, although 
fiiia place abounds in sharks, from which, however, 
they have in reality nothing to dread. It is singular, 
that while these animals are dangerous and blood- 
thinty at the island opposite the coast of Caraccas, 
at the Roques, at Buenos Ayres, and at Curassao, 
they do not disturb persons swimming in the ports 
of Guayra and Santa Martha. As an analogous fact, 
Hmnboldt mentions that the crocodiles of one pool 
in the Llanos are cowardly, while those of another 
attack with the greatest fierceness. 

The situation of La Gua3nra resembles that of 
Santa Cruz in Teneriffe ; the houses, which are built 
on a flat piece of ground about 640 feet broad, being 
backed liy a wall of rock, beyond which is a chain 
of mountains. .The town consists of two paraUel 
streets, and contains 6000 or 8000 inhabitants. The 
brat is greater than even at Oumana, Porto Cabello, 
or Core, the Seabreeze being less felt, and the tem- 
peratore being increased by the radiant caloric emitted 
byttie rocks after sunset. 

The examination of the thermometrical observa- 
tjooB made at La Guayra during nine months by 
Don Joseph Herrera enabled Humboldt to compare 
flie climate of that port with those of Oumana, 
Harana^ and Vera Cruz. The result of this com- 
parison was, that the first mentioned is one of the 
■otteat places on the globe ; that the quantity of heat 
iHiich it receives in me course of a year is a little 
ymctair than that experienced at Cumana; but that 
IB November, December, and January, the atmo- 
spheieooola to a lower point. The mean leio^t^^ax^ 


of the year iii these several districts is as follows :- 
At La Guayrd, nearly 82*6°; at Cumana, 81.3**; a 
Vera Cruz, 77*7° ; at Havana, 781° ; while at Rm 
Janeiro it is 74-6° ; at Santa Cruz in Teneriffe, 7r4* 
at Cairo, 72.3° ; and at Rome, 60-4°. 

At the time of Hmnboldt's visit to La Gnayn, 
the yellow fever, or calentura amariUay had beeB 
known only two years there, and the mortality had 
not been very great, as the confluence of straogen 
was less than at Havana and Vera Cruz. SonM 
individuals, even Creoles and mulattoes, were occa- 
sionally taken off by remittent attacks, complicated 
with bilious symptoms and hemorrhages, and their 
death often alarmed unseasoned Europeans ; but the 
disease was not propagated. On the coast of Tem 
Firma this malignant t3q)hus was known'only at 
Porto Cabello, Carthagcna, and Santa Martha. But 
since 1797 things have changed. The extension of 
commerce having caused an influx of Europeans and 
seamen from the United States, the distemper in 
<luestion soon appeared. It is maintained by some, 
that it was introduced by a brig from Pliiladelphia, 
while others think it took its birth in the country 
itself, and attribute its origin to a change in the 
constitution of the atmosphere caused by the over- 
flowings of the Rio de la Guayra, which inundated 
the town. Tliis fever has since continued its rav- 
ages, and has proved fatal, not only to troops new^f 
arrived from Spain, but also to those raised far fton 
the coast, in the Llanos between Calabozo and TJri- 
tuco, a region nearly as hot as lia Guayra itself. It 
scarcely ever passes beyond the ridge of mountains 
that separates this province from the valley of Ca- 
raccas, which has long been exempted from it. The 
following are the principal pathological facts having 
reference to this frightful pestilence : — 

When a great number of persons, bom in a cold 
climate, arrive at a port in the torrid zone, tlio in.sa- 
lubrity of which has not been particularly dreaded 


by naTigators, the American typhus (black vomit- 
ing, or yellow fever) makes its appearance. These 
persons, we may acid, are not atl'ected by it during 
the passage ; it manifests itself only on the spot. 
Has the constitution of the atmosphere beenchanp:ed ? 
asks Humboldt ; or, has a new form of disease de- 
feloped itself in individuals whose excitability is 
raised to a high pitch ? 

The malady forthwith attacks other Europeans 
bom in warmer countries. Immediate contact docs 
not increase the danger, nor does seclusion diminish 
it. When the sick are removed to the interior, and 
especially to cooler and more elevated places, they 
do not communicate the typhus to the inhabitants. 
Whenever a considerable diminution of temperature 
occurs, the distemper usually ceases ; but it again 
begins at the commencement of the hot season, 
although no ship may have entered tlie harbour for 
several months. 

The yellow fever disappears periodically at Ha- 
vana and at Vera Cruz, when the north winds 
carry the cold air ol C'anada towards the Mexican 
Gull ; but as Porto Cabello, La GuajTa, New-Bar- 
celona, and Cumana possess an oxtrome equality of 
temperature, it is probable that it will become per- 
manent there. Happily, the mortality has diminished 
since the treatment has been varied according to the 
modifications which the disease assumes. In w( 11- 
managed hospitals, the mmiber of deaths is often 
reduced to eighteen or fifteen in a hundred ; but when 
the sick are crowded together the loss increases to 
one-half, or even more. 

To the west of La (iuayra there are several in- 
dentations of the land which fiumish excelliMit an- 
chorage. The coast is granitic, and a great portion 
of it extremely unhealthy. At Cape illanco tlio 
gneiss passes mto mica-slate, containiii;^ beds of 
cUorite-slatc, in which garnets and magnetic h-mvI 
occur. On the road to Catia the chlorite-slatc is 



: * 


seen paflsing into hornblende-slate. At tt 
the promontory the sea throws on the bea 
fragments of a ijrranular mixture of hombl 
felspar, in which traces of quartz and pj 
recognised. On the western declivity of 
the gneiss is covered by a recent sandstone 
glomerate, in which are observed angular f 
of gneiss, Quartz, and chlorite, magnetic ss 
rcpores, and bivalve shells. The latitud 
cu|)e is IQ^ 36' 46"; that of La Guayrais 1( 
its longitude 67° 6' 49". 

The road from La Guayra to Caraccas r 
the passages over the Alps ; but as it is ke 
eral)ie repair, it requires only three hours ti 
mules from the port to tlie capital, and twc 
return. The ascent commences with a 
rocks, and is extremely laborious. In the 
parts the path winds in a zigzag manner. 
ISalto^ or Leap, there is a crevice which is ] 
a drawbridge, and on the summit of the 
are fortifications. Half-way is La Venta ( 
beyond which tliore is a rise of 060 feet to < 
which is nut far from the liighest part of 1 
At the fort of La Cuchilla Humnoldt wi 
made prisoner by some Spanish soldiers, ^ 
however contrived to pacify. Round the 
several travellers were assenibled, who v 
puting on the oflbrts tliat had been made 
obtaining independence ; on the hatred of t] 
toes tigainst the free negroes and whites ; tl 
of the monks; and on the difliculty of 
slaves in obedience. From (juayavo the roi 
over a smooth table-land covered with alpin 
and here is serii for the first time the capiti 
ing nearly 2000 feet lower, in a beautiful \ 
cloned by loftv mountains. 

The ridges between La (Juayra and Carai 
list of gneiss. On the south side the e 
^hich bears the name of Avila, is traversed 


C quartz, containiDgrutileinpnsnuof twoorthree 
_ .AM m diameter. The gneiss of the interreninK 
raUey contains red and green gamets, which disap- 
pear when the rock pas'aes into mica-slate. Near 
the cross of La Gnayrii, half a league distant from 
Caraccas, there were vestiges of bine coj^r-ore 
I disseminated in veins of quartz, and emalllarers of 
I graphite. Between the former point and the apiring 
of Banchorquiz were beds of bltiiah^iay primitive 
timeMone, containing mica, and traver^ by veins 
of white calcareous spar. In this deposite were 
found crystals of pyrites snd rhomboidal firagments - 

City ^ Cmtteeat and turrottnding Dittnel. 

■ Bwil Vnw of Vim 
ibdohtiUBatiot Cnnuxaa 
I sf Iba DtariO, ud Iht HI 

OB weoontof the earthquakes by which it was des- 
■litBd than from its irapmlance inapoUtical orcom- 
tancttl point of view. Atthepresentday it is the 
oUaf Gt^ of a district of the eame name, forming 
■ Mrt of uie repnbhc of Colombia ; though, at the 
ttaaa of Humboldt's Tisit, it was the metropolia of a 
lUBlah' colony which contained nearir a million of 
mhabituita, and consisted of New-AndakiNa, or the 
pKiviacfl of Cumana, New-Barcelona, Venezuela or 
thnecHf Coro, and Haiaca^m, along the coast ; 
■d In 'th« inMnor, the provinces of Varinaa and 




In a genera] point of view Venezaela 
three distinct zones. Along the shore, and nev tti 
chain of mountains which skirta it, we find erflt 
vated land ; behind this, savannas or pasturages ; aif 
beyond the Orinoco, a mass of forests, pfinntiiil 
only by means of the rivers by which it is 

In these three belts, the three principal sfciMff 
civilization are found more distinct than in itaMMl 
any other region. 'We have the life of the, Ml 
hunter in the woody district — ^the pastoral lifehite 
savannas — and the agricultural in the TaUeys ni 

Slains which descend to various parts of tbe eOKiL 
lissionaries and a few soldiers occupy adfwoii 
posts on tbe southern frontiers. In this sectloiim 
felt the preponderance of force and the abase if 
power. The native tribes are engaged in peipeCMl 
hostilities ; the monks endeavour to augment tlN 
little villages of their missions by avawng the» 
selves of the dissensions of the Ipdians ; Und tin 
soldiers live in a state of war with the clergy. In 
the second division, that of the plains and prairies, 
where food is extremely abundant, httle advance Ini 
been made in civilization, and the inhabitants Uveia 
]iuts partly covered with skins. It is in the tUld 
district alone, where agriculture and commerce 
pursued, that society has made any progress. 
In following our travellers through these i 
ing countries, it is necessary that we lose sigfat ia 
some measure of the present constitution of tiia 
South American states, and view them siniplyai 
Spanish provinces. When we seek, says HumboUt, 
to form a precise idea of those vast regions, which 
for ages have been governed by viceroys and cap- 
tains-general, we must fix our attention on sefsnl 
points. We must distinguish the parts of Speniih 
America that are opposite to Asia, and those that an 
washed by the Atlantic, — we must observe where the 
greatest part of the population isplaced, whether near 
the coast, or in the interior, or on the table-lands of the 



illtiras, — ^we must determine the numerical pro- 
om between the natives and other inhabitants, 
ocaniine to what race, in each part of the col- 
;, the greater number of whites belong. The 
itants of the different districts of the mother- 
try preserve in some measure their moral pecu- 
ies in the New World, although they have under- 
various modifications depending upon the phy- 
constitution of their new abode. i 

Venezuela, whatever is connected with an ad- 
sd state of civilization is found ^ong the coast, 
h has an extent of more than two hundred 
168. It is washed by the Caribbean Sea, a kind 
editerranean, on the shores of \i(rhich almost 
le European nations have founded colonies, 
¥hich communicates at seversd points with the 
itic Ocean. Possessing much facility of inter- 
so with the inhabitants of other parts of Amer- 
ind with those of Europe, the natives have ac- 
id a great degree of knowledge and opulence. 
le Indians constitute a large proportion of the 
ultural residents in those places only where the 
uerors found regular and long-established gov- 
ents, as in New Spain and Peru. In the prov- 
of Caraccas, for example, the native popula- 
is inconsiderable, having been in 1800 not more 
one-ninth of the whole, while in Mexico it 
ed nearly one-half. The black slaves do not 
ed one-fifteenth of the general mass, whereas 
iba they were in 1811 as one to three, and in 
• West India islands still more numerous. In 
seven United Provinces of Venezuela there 
60,000 slaves ; while Cuba, which has but one- 
h of the extent, had 212,000. The blacks of 
) countries are so unequally distributed, that in 
listrict of Caraccas alone there were nearly 
0, of which one-fifth were mulattoes. Hum- 
estimates the Creoles, or Hispano-Americana, 


126 «ry or oAiuooAi. 

at 210,000 in a population of 900,000, and 
peans, not inclniUng troops, at 19|000 or lfc|00i» 

Caraccas was then the seat of anandfanc k; ^ 
high court of justice, and on^ of the eij^ anil* 
bishoprics into which Spanish America was AdiA 
Its population in 1800 was about 40,000. In IW 
great devastation was made by the amall-poz, ftM 
6000 to 8000 individuals having perished ; Dot aiMO 
that period inoculation has become generaL la 
1813 the inhabitants amounted to 50,000, of wUel 
12,000 were destroyed by the earthquakea; 
the political events which succeeded that 
trophe reduce^ their number to less than 
thousand. • 

The town is situated at the entrance of fhe 
of Chacao, which is ten miles in length, ei^fiX anda 
half miles in breadth, and about 2660 feet above M 
level of the sea. The ground occupied by it it a 
steep uneven slope. It was founded by l5iego dB 
Losada in 1567. Three small rivers desc^idiiif 
from the mountains traverse the line of its directiOB; 
it contained eight churches, five convents, and a 
theatre capable of holding 1500 or 1800 peraoBi. ' 
The streets were wide, and crossed each other at 
right angles ; the houses spacious and lofty. 

The small extent of the valley, and the prozimi^ 
of the mountains of Avila and the Silla, give a aten 
and gloomy character to the scenery, pKarticolarilyia 
November and December, when the vapours aoea- 
mulate towards evening along the high groonda ; ia 
June and July, however, the atmosphere is clear and 
the air pure and delicious. The two rounded auni- 
mits of the latter are seen from Caraccas, neariT 
under the same angle of elevation as the Peak cii 
Teneriffe is observed from Orotava. The first half 
of the ascent is covered with grass ; then sucoeedl 
a zone of evergreen trees ; while above tlna tha 
rocky masses rise in the form of dqmes destitnleef 
vegetation. The cultivate^^ region below fonna aa 

agreeable contrast to the sotnbra upect of flietow- 
tdgea which overhang tbe ^owii,u well as of 
_k to the north. 

e climate of Caraccas iia perpetoal spring, the 
erature by day being between 68° and 79°, and 
-*« between 60° and 64°. It is, however, liable 
d the inhabitantB comg^n of 
H in twentf-fonr boura, its well 
Ira from me to anotlwr. In 
>, a n^^t of which the mean 
1 80° ia followed by^ a day in 

leriiseflaboTeTI" in the shade. 

JUttaaih ii our mild climates oacillationB oT this 

tovnifidamity In the temperature^ that a difference 
at a few 4ag(M8 is ptodoctive of nnpleaaant sensa- 
tloBB. nis inconvenience ia aggravated here by 
lb* podtioD of the town in a narrow valley, which 
ip Biaaa time swept Iqrawiad from the coast, loaded 
' * depositing its moisture in the 
-ithae* --.-.- 


.rafioiM astbe warmth decreases; and at 
bfM dij bcMxe from the interior, which dissi< 

, ._ . ., _. ., snot peon- 

liv ID Canccaa, but is comnioa to the whole equi- 
■oefial regioDB near the tropics. Unintempted 
sarani^ daringagieat part of the year prevails ODiy 
hflw iinr diBbicta adjoining the sea, or on the ele- 
TCted tdds-lands of tto interior. The intermediate 
adt is misty snd variable. 

lafliia province the sky is generally less bine than 
it Cwaau. The intensity of colonr measured by 
Smshm^ eyanometer was commonly 16°, and 
MTCT tbtm M^, fhMn November to Jannaiy, while 
aa tW coasts it was from 38° to 95°. The mean 
Isiiiiiitiliri is estimated by Humboldt st eS° or 73°. 
Ik* beat very seldom rises to W, snd in winter 
It ^ been observed to M as low as W°. The 

in the low regions of the tropics, bat it is i 
every fourth or fifth year. 

The coffee-tree is much cultiTSted in the niM ■ 
and the sugar-cane thrives even'at astiU gitmt 
height. The banana, the pineapple, the tuMi 1U , 
strawberry, the quince, the apple, the peadi, tf^ 
gether with maize, pulse, and com, grow in gml 
perfection. But although the atmofl^ieric eoestt- 
tution of this alpine vale be favourable to diveMM 
culture, it is not equally so to the healtii of the lli 
habitants, as the inconstancy of the weather snd 1M 
frequent suppression of cutaneous perspiratiott |i«f 
rise to catarrhal affections ; and a Europeattt < 
accustomed to the violent heat, ei^oys better ~ 
in the low country, where the air is not vexy ^ 
than in the elevated and cooler districts. 

The travellers remained two months at Caiaoesii 
where they lived in a large house in the ufiper pit 
of the town, from which they had an extensive new 
of the mountain-plain, the ri(kre of the GaDipaqo^ 
and the summit of the Silla. It was the season of 
drought, and the conflagrations intended to i mprof 
the pasturage produced the most singular ediBCli 
when seen at night. 

They experienced the greatest kindness from all 
classes of the inhabitants, and more especiaDy frlM 
the captain-general of the province, M. de Gnevsia 
Vascongelos. Caraccas being situated on the con- 
tinent, and its population less mutable than that of 
the islands, the national manners had not nndergODS 
so material a change. Notwithstanding the increase 
of the blacks, says Humboldt, at Caracqas and the 
Havana, we seem to be nearer Caihz and te 
United States than in any other part of the New 
World. There was nothing to be seen of the cold 
and assuming air so common in Europe; on the 

or THB nuuu ^ 120 

«OBflvi^ilftft candour, tmifonn cheerful- 
potttepm of address, characterized the 
^«C fltannh origin. The travellers found in 
i teufifls a taste for instruction, some know- 
ladtetf Fnneh and Italiafn literature, and a particular 
vMUaetiotf for music. But there was a total de- 
mUmttf of scientific attainments; nor had the sim- 
of all the physical sciences, botany, a single 
Previous to 1806 there were no printing- 
la Caraccas. 

.. B a ito f iii g that in a country which presents such 
«HiHrtiDg views, Bod exhibits such a profusion of 
Mlanl pradnotions, he should find many persons 
wbH iqnaintied with the surrounding mountains, 
Ht— *'*^ yet ftiledto discover one individual who 
hii viattad tha anmmit of the Silla. But the gov- 
anor hanrinff ordered the proprietor of a plantation 
to temdi WB philosophers with negro guides who 
eometfaing of the way, they prepared for the 

As in the whole month of December the moun- 
tain Iwd appeared only five times without clouds, 
and as at tnat aeaaon two clear days seldom succeed 
sidi other, they were advised to choose for their 
taooiskm an interval when, the clouds being low, 
they might hope by passing through them to enter 
into a transpsrent atmosphere. They spent the night 
of tlM nd of January at a coflfee-p&ntation, near a 
lavioe; in which the little river Chacaito formed 
asnie fine cascades. At dye in the morning they 
sat out, accompanied by slaves carrying their mstni- 
flaids, and about seven reached a promontory of the 
WUMf connected with the body of the mountain by 
a nanow dike. The weather wai^ fine and cooL 
Iter proceeded along this ridge of rocks, between 
two deep vallesrs covered with vegetation ; the large, 
sinning, and coriaceous leaves, illumined by the sun, 
arassnting a verypictureaque appearance. Beyond 
&is point the ascent became very steep, the ac- 



qlivity being often from 32® to 33°. The 
was covered with short grass^ which affo 
support when laid hold of, and it was impo 
imprint steps in the gneiss. The persons ' 
accompanied them from the town were disct 
and at length retired. 

Slender streaky of mist began to issue f 
woods, and afforded indications of a dense fo 
familiar loquacity of the negro Creoles f< 
striking contrast to the gravity of the Indi 
had attended the travellers in the missions of 
They amused themselves at the expense oj 
serters, among whom was a young Capuchi 
a professor of mathematics, who had pror 
fire off rockets from the top of the moimtaii 
nounce to the inhabitants of Caraccas the 
of the expedition. 

The eastern peak being the most elevat 
directed their course to it. The depression I 
the two summits has given rise to the nan 
which signifies a saddle. From this hollow ; 
descends towards the valley of Caraccas. T 
row opening originates near the western do 
the eastern summit is accessible only by go 
to the A\ estward of it, straight over the proi 
of the Puerta. 

From the foot of the cascade of Chacait 
elevation of 6395 feet they found only sava 
pastures, among which were observed tw 
liliaceous plants with yellow flowers and son: 
bles. Mixed with the latter they expected 
wild rose, but were disappointed ; nor did tl 
sequently meet with a single species of tha 
in any part of South Ainerica. 

Sometimes lost in the mist, they made th 
with difficulty, and there being no path, th< 
obliged to use their hands in climbing the st 
slippery ascent. A vein of porcelain-clay, 
mains of decomposed felspar, attracted thei 

f ^v« 

I PLAim. '^ 181 

tton. Whenever thA (douda snrtomded them the 
IhenDometer fell to 8S-0« ; but when the sky was 
clear it rose to 60 8°. At the height of 6011 feet 
they saw in a ravine B wood of pdnu, which formed 
a striking contrast with the willows scattered at the 
bottom of the valley. 

After proceedini^ four houn across the psstures 
they entered a small forest. The acclivity beqame 
leas ateiep, and they observed aproftfflion of rare and 
beautiful plants. At the height of 9395 feet the 
savannas tenninate, and are succeeded bv a zone of 
shrubs with tortuous branches, rigid leaves, and 
largfe purple Oowera, qpnaisting of riiododnidra, thi- 
laodicp, aodromedie, vaccinia, and be^ie. 

Leaving this littltt gronp oT alpine plants they 

•gain foimd themaelves in a savanna, and clirahed 

•rer part of tbe western done, to descend into the 

' Uknr which separates the two sammits. Here 

A» Tsntstion was so strong and dense that they 

' MS obliged to cut their wa^ throu^ it. On a 

Mddan they were enveloped in a thick mist, and 

betaw in danger of coming inadvertently upon the 

hU of an enormous wall of rocks, which on the 

■oidi ride descends perpendicularly to the depth of 

mm than SOOO feet, were obliged to stop. At this 

point, however, the negroes who carried their pro* 

CTJBDi, and who had been detained by Uie re<ireant 

■UbMopb^ already mentioned, overtook them, when 

ttnr made a poor repast, the negroes or the padre 

I llllin Mt nothing but a few oUves and a Uttle 

' bnad. The guides were disconra^, and were 

wllfa ditBcnlty prevented fhim returmng. 

la the midst of the fog the electrometer of Tolta, 
•iBed with a amoking match, gave very' senaible 
iipa of atmospheric euctiicitjr, varying nreqaentty 
* ~ poaitive to n^ative, and tUs, tt^ether with 
— "^ '' small onrrents of air, qtpeared to in- 

MQfWM&er. Itwaaon^twointhe 

■*liny^ Hta thsy yat entnrtsined aome hope of 

B fte oonflict of sm 
7 4telitekaiin« 
K. ifcwoon. nuth 

132 niMxiiBB PRECunos* 

reaching the eastern eummit before maaml^.wMi 
retuming to the hollow separating the two plM 
where they might pass the night. With tkdr ^~^ 
they sent half of their attendants to jmrociire 
ply, not of olives, but of salt beef. These an 
ments were scarcely made when the eut ...^ 
began to blow violently, and in les9 than two oMki 
the clouds dispersed. The obstaclea' prcscgtajly 
the vegetation gradually diminished ' aa th^ i^ 
proached the eastern summit, in order to attifc 
which it was necessary to go close to tbs ^[Teal^^iil* 

' cipice. Hitherto the guests had preserved lUilavii^ 
lar structure ; but as they climbed the cone af te 
SiUa they found it passing into granifce, c<HilalBii§ 
instead of garnets, a few scattered cryatak of haia* 

. blende. In three-quarters of an hour they rMMW 
the top of the p3rramid, which was covered y/tk 
grass, and for a few minutes enjoyed all the aeaiii|f 
of the sky. The elevation being 8633 feet, tta flji 
commanded a vast range of country. The akM 
which extends nearly to the sea, had an aii|^ • 
53° 28', though when viewed from the coast it aesw 
perpendicular. Humboldt remarks that a predpiM 
of 6000 or 7000 feet is a phenomenon much lanr 
than is usually believed, and that a rqck of 1600 M 
of perpendicmar height has in vain been sought for 
among the Swiss Alps. That of the Silla is part^f 
covered with vegetation, tufts of befariae and andit- 
meds appearing as if suspended from the rock. 

Seven months had elapsed since they were on te 
summit of the Peak of TenerifTe, where the appamA 
horizon of the sea is six leagues farther diatant tlMi 
on the Silla; yet while the boimdary line, waa aan 
distinct in the former place it was completdlf 
blended with the air in the latter. ^The waaiMB 
dome concealed the town of Caraccas ; but tbeydia- 
tinguished the villages of Chacao and PetaiOi fha 
coffee-plantations, and the course of the'Rio Ooigfia* 
While they were examining the part of the asa 



^Rrliere the horizon was well defined, and the great 
chain of mountains in the distant south, a dc^nse fog 
arose from the plains, and they were obliged to use 
all e x pe diti on in completing their observations. 

When seated on the rock, employed in determin- 
ing the dip of the needle, Humboldt found his hands 
coT o red by a species of hairy bee, a little smaller 
than the honey-bee of Europe. These insects make 
their nest in the ground, seldom fly, move very 
alowly, and are apt to use their sting, the guides 
aaaeiting that they do so only when seized by the 

The temperature varied from 53° to 57°, accord- 
ing as the weather was calm or otherwise. The 
dip of the needle was one centesimal degree less 
timn at Caraccas. The breeze was from the east, 
which mi^ht indicate that the trade-winds extend 
in this latitude much higher than 9600 feet. The 
bfaie of the atmosphere was deeper than on the coasts, 
Sanssore's cyanometer indicating 26*5^, while at Ca- 
raccas it generally gave only 18° in fine dry weather. 
The phenomenon that most struck the travellers was 
the apparent aridity of the air, which seemed to in- 
crease as the mist thickened, the hygrometer retro- 
grading, and their clothes remaining dry. 

As it would have been imprudent to remain long 
in a dense foe on the brink of a precipice, the trav- 
eUers descended the eastern dome, and on regaining 
ihe hollow between the two summits, were sur- 
prised to find round pebbles of quartz, a phenomenon 
which perhaps indicates that the mountain has been 
Faised by a power applied from below. Relinquish- 
ing their design of passing the night in that valley, 
wA having again found the path which they had cut 
through the wood, they soon arrived at the district 
of resmous nhrubs, where they lingered so long col- 
lecting plants that darkness surprised them as they 
enlered the savanna. The moon was up, bat every 


l$4 DBflCXNT — ^BAYIKB 09 tmK 




now and then obiscnred by clouds. The goidiMfer 
carried the instniments shmk off wicceMifwyCi 
sleep among the cliffs ; and it wasi not antQ ten llll' 
the travellers arrived at the bottom of tibe 'nfttli 
overcome by thirst and fatigue. < > 

During the excursion to the Silla,.aiid in all tlHir 
' walks in the valley of Caraccas, they were veiy i^ 
tentive to the indication of ores which they foouli 
the gneiss mountains. In America that rock has wA 
hitherto been found to be very rich in metals ; Aw 
most celebrated mines of Mexico and Pem bedof ■ 
primitive and transition slate, trap, porphyry, mf* 
wacke, and alpine hmestone. In sevend pani.lt 
the region now visited, a small quantity of wM W 
found disseminated in veins of quartz, sulmiimttii 
silver, blue copper-ore, and leadglance ; out tiM 
deposites did not seem of any importance. hi%$ 
group of the western mountains of Yenezneli "^ 
.Spaniards, in 1551, attempted the gold mine oi7 
but the works were soon given up. In the TirwHf 
of Caraccas some had also been wrought, but toii 
great extent. In < short, the mines here allMH' 
fittle gratification to the cupidity of the cooqnem^ 
and were almost totally abandoned ; those of AlV% 
near San Felipe el Fuerte, being the only ones k( 
operation when Humboldt visited the country. 

In the course of their investigations the traveQMKi 
examined the ravine of Tipe, situated in thai- ftH , 
of the valley which opens towards Cape BtanMf 
The first portion of the road was over a immnSI 
rocky soil, on which grew a few plants of Af^ 
gemone Mexicana: On either side of the ^^iSkb Wii# 
range of bare mountains, and at this spot tlie pMi 
on which the town is built communicates witk Ml 
coast near Catia by the valleys of TacagiMi 
Tipe. In the former they found some ^an' ' 
of maize and plantains, and a very extensive 
cactuses fifteen feet high. They met wit)i 



Teina of quartz, containing pyrites, carbonated iron- 
ore, solmiaretted silver, and gray copper. The 
woriu tnat had been undertaken were superficial, 
and now filled up. 


Earthquakes of Caraccas. 

Connezion or Earthquakes— Ernption of the Volcano of St. 
Vlneeat'*— Earfhqaake of the 20th March, 1812— Destruction of the 
CUj— Ten Thousand of the Inhabitants killed— Consiemation of the 
BurriTon— Extent of the Commotions. 

Th« valley of Caraccas, a few years after Hu^i- 
bddt's visit, became the theatre of one of those 
physical revolutions which from time to time pro- 
duce violent alterations upon the surface of our 
planet; involving the overthrow of cities, the de- 
•truction of human life, and a temporary agitation 
of those elements of nature on which the system of 
the universe is founded. In the narrative of his 
Joomey to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Con- 
tinent, he has recorded all that he could collect with 
certainty respecting the earthquake of the 26th 
March, 1812, which destroyed the city of Caraccas, 
together with 20,000 inhabitants of the province of 

When our travellers visited those countries, they 
A>nnd it to be a general opinion that the eastern 
parts of the coasts were most exposed' to the de- 
atructive effects of such concussions, and that the 
elevated districts, remote from the shores, were in 
a great measure secure ; but in 1811 all these ideas 
were proved Rnroundless. 

At Humboldt's arrival in Terra Firma, he was 
Btmck with the connexion which appeared between 


the destniction of Camana in 1797 and the e nipti m 
of volcanoes m the smaller West India i«iM»M*f A 
similar principle was manifested in 1813, in thecaat 
of Caraccas. From the beginning of 1811 till 1813; 
a vast extent of the earth's surface, limited by tihe 
meridian of the Azores, the valley of the Ohio, fbt 
Cordilleras of New-Grenada, the coasts of YenezQebi 
and the volcanoes of the West Indies, was shalm 
by subterranean commotions, indicative of a conmMm 
agency exerted at a great depth in the interior of 
the globe. At the period when these earthonakM 
commenced in the valley of the Mississippi, ike dty 
of Caraccas felt the first shock in Decenuxer, 1811; 
and on the 26th of March 1812 it was totally de> 

" The inhabitants of Terra Firma were ignount 
of^the agitation, which on the one hand the yolcaiiD 
of the island of St. Vincent had experienced, and oa 
the other the basin of the Mississippi, where, <Mithe 
7th and 8th of February, 18 12, the ground was day 
and night in a state of continual oscSlation. At tim 
period the province of Venezuela laboured under 
great drought ; not a drop of rain had fallen at C^ 
raccas, or to the distance of 31 1 miles around, during 
the five months which preceded the destruction oi 
the capital. The 26th March was excessively hot; 
the air was calm and the sky cloudless. It was 
Holy Thursday, and a great part of the popidatioii 
was in the churches. The calamities of the dsf 
were preceded by no indications of danger. At 
seven minutes after four in the evening the first 
commotion was felt. It was so strong as to make 
the bells of the churches ring. It lasted from five 
to six seconds, and was immediately followed by an* 
other shock of from ten to twelve seconds, during 
which the ground was in a continual state of midii- 
lation, and heaved like a fluid under ebullition. The 
danger was thought to be over, when a prodigioiis 
Bubterraneaxi noise was heard, resembling the rdUng 


of thunder, but louder and more prolonged than that 
be^rd within the tropics during thunder-storms. 
This noise preceded a perpendicular motion of about 
three or four seconds, followed by an imdulatory 
Btotion of somewhat longer duration. The shocks 
were in opposite directions, from north to south and 
from east to west. It was impossible that any thing 
could resist the motion from beneath upwards, and 
the undulations crossing each other. The city of 
Caraccas was completely overthrown. Thousands 
of the inhabitants (from nine to ten thousand) were 
buried under the ruins of the churches and houses. 
The procession had not yet set out ; but the crowd 
m the churches was so great that nearly three or 
four thousand individuals were crushed to death by 
*he falling in of the vaulted roofs. The explosion 
Iras stronger on the north side of the town, in the 

St nearest the mountain of Avila and the Silla. 
e churches of the Trinity and Alta Gracia, which 
irere rilore than a hundred and fifty feet in height, 
md of which the nave was supported by pillars from 
twelve to fifteen feet in diameter, left a mass of 
rains nowhere higher than five or six feet. The 
linking of the ruins has been so great that at pres- 
ent hardly any vestige remains of the pillars and 
columns. The barracks called El Quartel de San 
Carlos, situated farther to the north of the church 
of the Trinity, on the road to the custom-house de la 
Pastora, almost entirely disappeared. A regiment 
of troops of the line, which was assembled in it 
HDder arms to join in the procession, was, with the 
exception of a few individuals, buried under this 
hrge building. Nine-tenths of the fine town of Ca- 
nccas were entirely reduced to ruins. The houses 
which did not fall, as those of the street of San Juan, 
near the Capuchin Hospital, were so cracked that 
BO one could venture to live in them. The effects 
«r the earthquake were not quite so disastrous in 
southern and western parts of the tovm^ \^-- 



tween the great raiare and the lUTfaie of ^_ 

— ^there the cathedral, supported by en onuoti a 
tresses, remains standing. 

" In estimating the number of persons kOM k 
the city of Caraccas at nine or ten thoiiMiiid« 
not include those unhappy indiyidaate who 
severely wounded, and perished several months i 
from want of food and proper attention. Tlie 
of Holy Thursday presented the most 
scenes of desolation and sorrow. The thick 
of dust, which rose above the ruins and dar ken e d ftl 
air like a mist, had fallen again to the gro«ftid ; Iki 
shocks had ceased ; never was there a finer or qiMff 
night, — ^the moon, nearly at the full, illuminated ftl 
rounded summits of the Silla, and the aerenity if 
the heavens contrasted strongly with the atatt it 
the earth, which was strewn with ruins and dflll 

bodies. Mothers were seen carrying in their'] 

children whom they hoped to recall to life ; desoMi 
females ran through the city in quest of a brothar,a 
husband, or a friend, of whose fate they were if^ 
rant, and whom they supposed to have been sepiH 
rated from them in the crowd. The people presM 
along the streets, which now could only be dirtiii- 
guished by heaps of ruins arranged in lines. 

"All the calamities experienced in the gmt 
earthquakes of Lisbon, Messina, Lima, andlUo* 
bamba were repeated on the fatal day of the MUh 
March, 1812. The wounded, buried under the miiiii 
implored the assistance of the passers-by with loud 
cries, and i;;iore than two thousand of them were 
dug out. Never was pity displayed in a more d^ 
fee ting manner; never, we may say, was it sect 
more ingeniously active than in the efforts made 10 
succour the unhappy persons whose groans reacbei 
the ear. There was an entire want of instrunenM 
adapted for digging up the ground and clearing awKt 
the ruins, and the people were obUged to use f^ 
hands for the purpose of disinterring tiie lit 



«• who were wounded, as well as the patients 
} had escaped from the hospitals, were placed on 
bank of the little river of Guayra, where they 

no other shelter than the foliage of the trees. 
B, linen for dressing their wounds, surgical in- 
ments, medicines, in short, every thing necessary 
their treatment, had been buried in the ruins, 
ing the first days nothing could be procured, — 

even food, within the city water became 
lUy scarce. The commotion had broken the 
8 of the fountains, and the falling in of the earth 
obstructed the springs which supplied them . To 
in water it was necessary to descend as far as 
Rio Guayra, which was considerably swelled, 
there were no vessels for drawing it. 
There remained to be performed towards the 
I a duty imposed alike by piety and the dread of 
;tion. As it was impossible to inter so many 
isands of bodies half-buried in the ruins, com- 
lioners were appointed to bum them. Funeral- 
i were erected among the heaps of rubbish. 
I ceremony lasted several days. Amid so many 
ic calamities, the people ardently engaged in the 
^ous exercises which they thought best adapted 
ppease the anger of Heaven. Some walked 
odies chanting funeral-hymns, while others, in 
ate of distraction, confessed themselves aloud 
le streets. In this city was now repeated what 
taken place in the province of Quito after the 
dfiil earthquake of the ith February, 1797. Mar- 
BS were contracted between persons who for 
y years had neglected to sanction their union by 
sacerdotal blessing. Children found parents in 
ons who had till then disavowed them ; restitu- 
was promised by individuals v, ho had never been 
ised of theft ; and families who had long been 
imity drew together, from the feeling of a com- 

evil. But while in some this feehng seemed to 
m the heart and open it to compassion, it had a 


contniry d§^dt on others, Tendeiinil^ them 4DMnv 
rate mid inhumaa. In great calamities vulgar 
retain%tfll lean goodness than. strength ;• for i 
tune acts like the pursuit of literature and f 
vestigation of nature, which exercise their 
- influence only npon a few, giving ipore wan 
the feelings, more elevation to the mind, am 
benevolence to the character. 

^ Shocks BO violent as these, which in the 
of one minute overthrew the city of Caraccaa 
not be conftied to a small portion of the con 
' Their fatal effects extended to the provim 
Venezuela, Varinas, and Maracaybo, along the 
and were more especially felt in the moonta 
the interior. La Gdayra, Mayguetia, Anti 
Baruta, La Vega, San Felipe, and Meiida 
almost entirely destroyed. The number oi 
exceeded four or five thousand at La Guayi 
at the viUa de San Felipe, near the copper-mi 
Aroa. The earthquake would appear to havi 
most violent along a line running from £.^ 
W.S.W., from Guajrra and Caraccas towar 
high mountains of Niquitas and Merida. It w 
in the kingdom of New-Grenada, from the ra] 
' tions of the lofty Sierra of Santa Martha to 
Fe de Bogota, and Honda on the banks of the 
dalena, 620 miles distant from Caraccas. In a] 
it was more violent in the cordilleras of gneii 
mica-slate, or immediately at their base, tl 
the plains. This difference was particularly re 
able in the savannas of Varinas and Casanar 
the valleys of Aragua, situated between Cai 
and the town of San Felipe, the shocks wen 
weak. La Victoria, Maracay, and Valencia sc 
suffered, notwithstanding the proximity of thf 
tal. At Valecillo, not many leagues distant 
Valencia, the ground opened and emitted so g 
mass of water that a new torrent was formed, 
same .phenomenon took place near Porto Ci 


[)n the other hand, the Lake of Maracaybo underwent 
HMisiderable diminution. At Coro no comniotioa 
tna felt, although the town was situated on the coast 
letween other towns which suffered. The fishermen 
rho had passed the day of the 26th March in the 
aland of Orchila, 130 miles N.E. of La Guayra, 
irere not sensible of any shock." 

Tovrards the east of Caraccas the commotions 
irere very violent, especially beyond Caurimare, in 
he valley of Capava, and as far as the meridian of 
[?ape Cddera, while they were very feeble on the 
soaats of New-Barcelona, Cumana, and Paria, though 
iieae shores are known to have been formerly shaken 
ly volcanic vapours. 

Fifteen or eighteen hours after the great catas- 
trophe the ground ceased to be sigitated ; but subse- 
inently to the 27th the tremblings recommenced, 
ind were accompanied with very loud subterranean 
noises. Frequently not less than fifteen oscillations 
irere felt in one day. On the 5th April there was 
Bn earthquake almost as severe as that of the 12th 
March. The surface was in continuous undulation 
during several hours, large masses of eartli fell in 
the mountains, and enormous rocks were detached 
from the Silla. 

While violent agitations were experienced in the 
ralley of the Mississippi, in the island of St. Vincent, 
Ind in the province of Venezuela, a subterranean 
loise, resembling an explosion of artillery, was 
leard at Caraccas, at Calabozo, and on the banks of 
he Rio Apure, over the space of four thousand 
quare leases. This sound besran at two in the 
aoming of the 30th April, and was as loud on the 
oast as at the distance of eighty leagues. It was 
iverywhcre taken for the firing of guns. On the 
ame day a great eruption of the volcano of the 
iland of St. Vincent took place. This mountain 
lad not ejected lava since 1718, and hardly any 
moke waa issuing from it, when in May, 1811, fre- 


142 DKPAltTUmB mOX trABMMUi. 

quent shocks occurred, and a disohiuge of 
attended with a tremeiuibcnis bellowinff, Mlowti 
the 27ih April next year. On the SiMli the iMl 
flowed, and after a coarse of four hours reached Hii 
sea. The explosions resemhled altenwte 'volhil 
of very large cannon and musketry. As tin Sj^ 
betw.een the volcano of St. Vincent and the '^ 
Apui^B is 725 miles, these were heard at 'a 

equal to that between Vesuvius and Paris, and . 

have been propagated by the earth, and iM Ij^ 
the air. 

After adducing numerous instances of the 
dence of volcanic eruptions and earthqadte^, 
boldt endeavours to prove that subterranean 
munications extend to vast distances,' that tiie ||s> 
nomena of volcanoes and earthquakes are intignato^ 
connected, and that the latter have certain liOM li .| 

Journey from Caraccas to the Lake of YaUmdii^ 

Departure fhrni Cararcaa— La Buenavkita— Valleyv of San 
Tuy— Manterola— Zamang-tree — Vjdlevii or Aregua— Ijtlnor 
—Diminution of its Waters— Hot Springs— Jaguar— NevNVi 
Thermal Waters of La Trinchera— Porto CabeUo— Cow-tret' 
plantatioos— General View of the Littoral Diauriet of V( 

Leaving the city of Caraccas, on their way to tts 
Orinoco, our travellers slept the first night at tit 
base of the woody mountains which close the vaDif 
towards the south-west.- They followed the rigH 
bank of the Rio Guayra, as far as the villaM A^l^ ' 
mano, by an excellent road, partly scoojped oat tf 
the rock. The mountains were all of gneiii m 
mica-slate. A little before reaching that hamlet th9 


obeerved two large yeins of ^eiss in the slate, con- 
tainiiig balls of granular diabase or greenstone, com- 
posed of felspar and hornblende, with garnet dis- 
seminated, in the vicinity all the orchards were 
IbH of peach-trees covered with flowers. Between 
Antimano and Ajuntas, they crossed the Rio Guayra 
aerenteen times, and proceeded along the bottom of 
the valley. The river was bordered by a gramineous 
plant, the Gynerium saccharoides^ which sometimes 
reaches the height of 32 feet, while the huts were 
surromided by enormous trees of Laurus persea, 
covered by creepers. They passed the night in a 
sugar-plantation. In a square house were nearly 
ei^ty negroes, lying on skins of oxen spread on the 
ikx>r, while a dozen fires were burning in the yard, 
at which people were cooking. 

A great predilection for the culture of the coffee- 
tree was entertained in the province. The young 
plants were chiefly procured by exposing the seeds 
to germination between plaintain-leaves. They 
were then sown, and produced shoots better adapted 
to bear the heat of the sun than such as spring up in 
the shade of the plantations. The tree bears flowers 
only the second year, and its blossoms last only 
twenty-four hours. The returns of the third year 
are very abundant ; at an average each plant yield- 
ing a pound and a half or two pounds of coffee. 
Humboldt remarks, that although it is not yet a 
century since the first trees were introduced at 
Surinam and in the West Indies, the produce of 
America already amounts to fifteen millions of pias- 
ters, or 3,437,500/. sterling. 

On the 8th February the travellers set out at sun- 
rise, and after passing the junction of the two small 
rivers San Pedro and Macarao, which form the Rio 
Guayra, ascended a steep hill to the table-land of La 
Baenavista. The country here had a wild appear- 
ance, and was thickly wooded. The road, which 
80 much frequented that long files of mides and 

144 r^kLLEY OF THE TUT. ' 

oxen met them at every step, was. cut out of a tal> 
cose gneiss, in a state of decomposition. Deseciid- 
ing from that point, they came upon a ravine, ii 
which a fine spring formed several ca89ade8« Htfi 
they found an abundant and diversified vegetatioi, 
consisting of arborescent ferns, more than twontf- 
seven feet high, heliconias, plumeirias, bromiMB^ 
gigantic figs, palms, and other plants. The bvowDMi 
which bears four or five hundred purple flowers int 
single thyrsus, reaches the height of fifty or sixtf 

At the base of the wooded mountain of Hignenla 
they entered the small village of San Pedro, sitanlfld 
in a basin where several valleys meet. Plantaisii 
potatoes, and coffee were sedulously cultivattd. 
The rock was mica-slate, filled with garnets,' aid 
containing beds of serpentine of a fine green, vaiied 
with spots of a lighter tint. 

Ascending from the low ground, they passed fey 
the farms of Las Lagunetas and Garavatos, near tM 
latter of which there is a mica-^late rock of a singidur 
form, — that of a ridge, or wall, crowned by a tower. 
The country is mountainous, and almost entirdy 
uninhabited ; but beyond this they entered a fertile 
district, covered with hamlets and small towns. 
This beautiful region is the valley of the Tuy, wheis 
they spent two days at the plantation of Don Jose 
de Manterola, on the bank of the river, the water of 
which was as clear as crystal. Here they obserred 
three species of sugar-cane, the old Creole, the Ots- 
heitan, and the Batavian, which are easily distiD- 
guished, and of which the most valuable is the Ots- 
heitan, as it not only yields a third more of Juice 
than the Creole cane, but furnishes a mach grealsr 
quantity of fuel. 

As this valley, like most other parts of the Spui- 
ish colonies, has its gold mine, Humboldt was ds* 
sired to visit ii. In the ravine leading to it an 6IKK^ 
mous tree fixed the attention of the traveUei^ II 


bad grown on a steep declivity above » house, which 
it was apprehended it might injure in its fall, should 
the earth happen to give way. It had therefore been 
burnt near the root, and cut so as to sink between 
some large fig-trees, which would prevent it from 
rolling down. It was eight and a half feet in diam- 
eter at the lower end, four feet five inches at tho 
other (the top having been burnt off), and one hun- 
dred and sixty feet in length. The rocks were mica- 
slate passing into talc-slate, and contained masses 
of bluish granular limestone, together with graphite. 
At the place where the gold-mine was said to have 
been they found some vestiges of a vein of quartz ; 
but the subsidence of the earth, in consequence of 
the r^, rendered it impossible to make any observa- 
tion. The travellers, however, found a recompense 
for their fatigues in the harvest of plants which they 
'ma4e in the thick forest abounding in cedraelas, 
browneas, and fig-trees. They were struck by the 
woody excrescences, which, as far as twenty feet 
above the ground, augment the thickness of the lat- 
ter. Some of these tnuiks were observed to be 
twenty-three feet in diameter near the roots. 

At the plantation of Tuy, the dip of the needle 
was 41*6^, and the intensity of the magnetic power 
was indicated by 2:28 oscillations in ten minutes. 
The variation of the former was 4° 30' N.E. The 
zodiacal light appeared almost every night with ex- 
traordinary brilliancy. 

On the 11th, at sunrise, they left the plantation of 
Manterola, and proceeded along the beautiful banks 
of the river. At a farm by the way they found a 
negress more than a hundred years old, seated be- 
fore a small hut, to enjoy the benefit of the sun's 
rays, the heat of which, according to her grandson, 
kept her alive. As they drew near to Victoria the 
ground became smoother, <md resembled the bottom 
of a lake, the waters of which had been drained ofi*. 
The neighbouring hills were composed of calcareous 


146 ~ ZAHANG or OUAYllA. 

tufa. Fields^of corn were ming^led with crop« of 
sugar-canes, cofTee, and plantains. Tho level of 
the country above tho sea is only from 670 to 640 
yards ; and, except in the district of Quatro Villas 
HI the island of Cuba, wheat is scarcely cultivated 
in large quantities in any other part of the equinoc- 
tial regions. La Victoria and the neighbouring vil- 
lage of San M atheo yielded 4000 quintals, or 36SS 
cwt., annually. It is sown in December, and is fit 
for being cut in seventy or seventy-five days. The 
grmn is large and white, and the average produce is 
three or four times as much as in Europe. The cul- 
ture of the siigar-cane, however, is still more pro- 

Proceeding slowly on their way, the travcUeie 
passed througti the villages of San Matheo, Turmero, 
and Maracay, where every thing was indicative of 
prosperity. " On leaving the village of Ihirmeio,*' 
says Humboldt, " we discover, at the distance of t 
league, an object which app(;ar8 on the horizon like 
a round hillock, or a tunmlus covered with vegetar 
tion. It is not a hill, however, nor a group of very 
close trees, but a single tree, the celebrated Zanumg 
of Guayra, known over the whole province for the 
enormous extent of its branches, which form a hemi- 
spherical top of 014 feet in circumference. The 
zaniang is a beautiful Kp(>cieH of mimosa, whose 
tortuous branches divide by forking. Its slim and 
deUcate foliage is agreeably detached on the blue of 
the sky. We rested a long while beneath this 
vegetable arch. The trunk of the (luayra zamang, 
which grows on the road from Turmero to Maracay, 
is not more than sixty-four feet high and nine and a 
half in diameter ; but its nuil In^auty consists in the 
general form of its top. The branches stretch out 
like the spokes of a great umbrella, and all incUne 
towards tne ground, from which they uniformly re- 
main twelve or fifteen feet distant. The circumfe- 
rence of the branches or foliage is so regular, that I 


found the different diameters 205 and 198 feet. One 
side of the tree was entirely stripped of leaves from 
the effect of drought, while on tlje other both foliage 
and flowers remained. The branches were covered 
with creeping-plants. The inhabitants of these val- 
lejrs, and especially the Indians, have a great vene- 
ration foi^ the Guayra zamang, which the first con- 
querors seem to have found nearly in the same state 
as that in which we now see it. Since it has been 
attentively observed, no change has been noticed in 
its size or form. It must be at least as old as the 
dragon-tree of Orotava. Near Turmero and the 
Hacienda de Cura, there are other trees of the same 
species, with larger trunks ; but their hemispherical 
toM do not spread so widely." 

The valleys of Aragua at this time contained 
more than 52,000 inhabitants, on a space thirteen 
leagues in length and two in breadth : making 2000 
to a square league, which is almost equal to the 
densest population of France. The houses were all 
of masonry, and every court contained cocoa-trees, 
rising above the habitations ; besides wheat, sugar, 
cacao, cotton, and coffee, indigo is cultivated to a 
great extent. 

In this district the travellers experienced the 
greatest kindness, more especially from the persons 
with whom they had associated in Caraccas, and 
who possessed large estates in these highly-improved 
and beautiful plains. At the Hacienda de Cura they 
spent seven very agreeable days in a small habita- 
tion surrounded by thickets, on the Lake of Valen- 
cia. Their host. Count Tovar, had begun to let out 
lands to poor persons, with the view of rendering 
slaves less necessary to the landholders ; and his 
example was happily followed by other proprietors. 
Here they lived after the manner of the rich ; they 
bathed twice, slept three times, and made three 
meals in twentv-four hours. 

The valleys of Aragua form a narrow basin be- 


tween granitic and calcareous mountains of aneqinl 
height. On the north they are separated from the 
coast by the Sierra Mariara, and on the south from 
the steppes by the chain of. Guacimo and Yusma. 
On the east and west they are bounded by hills of 
smaller elevation, the rivers from which unite their 
streams, and are collected in an inland lake which 
has no communication with the sea. This body of 
water, named the Lake of Valencia, and by the In- 
dians called Tacarigua, is larger than the Lake of 
Neufchatel, but in its general form has more resem* 
blance to that of Geneva. The southern banks an 
desert, and backed by a screen of high mountains, 
while the northern shores are decked with the lidi 
cultivation of the sugar-cane, coffee-tree, and cot 
ton. " Paths bordered with cestrum, azedarach, anc 
other shrubs always in flower, traverse the plain 
and join the scattered farms. Every house is Biir< 
rounded by a tuft of trees. The ceiba, with larg« 
yellow flowers, gives a peculiar character to th( 
landscape, as it unites its branches with those oi 
the purple erythrina. The mixture and brillianc} 
of the vegetable colours form a contrast to the un- 
varied tint of a cloudless sky. In the dry season 
when the burning soil is covered with a wavy vapour 
artificial irrigations keep up its verdure and fecimdity. 
Here and there the granitic rocks pierce the culti- 
vated land, and enormous masses rise abruptiy in 
the midst of the plain, their bare and flssurcNi sur- 
faces affording nourishment to some succulenl 
plants, which prepare a soil for future ages. Often 
on the summit of these detached hills, a fig-tree oi 
a clusia, with juicy leaves, have fixed their roots in 
the rock, and overlook the landscape. With theii 
smd withered branches they seem like signals 
I on a steep hill. The form of these emi- 
reveals the secret of their origin ; for when 
lOle of this valley was filled with water, an<3 
Ives beat against the bajse of the peakis of 


Mariara^the DeviPs Wall, and the coast chain, these 
rocky hills were shoals or islets." 
Bat the Lake of Valencia is remarkable for other 
I drcomstances than its beauties. From a carefid ex- 
! unioation, Humboldt was convinced that in very re- 
[ fflote times, the whole valley, from the mountains 
I of Cocuyza to. those of Torito and Nirgua, and 6mtst 
I the Sierra of Mariara to that of Guigue, GuacimOf 
■ and La Palma, had been filled with water. The 
fonn of the promontories and their abrupt slopes in- 
dicate the shores of an alpine lake. The same little 
shells (helicites and valvatae) which Occur at the 
pesent day in- the Lake of Valencia are found in 
Btyers three or four feet thick in the heart of the 
country, as far as Turmero and La Concesion, near 
Victoria. These facts prove a retreat of the waters ; 
bat no evidence exists that any considerable diminu- 
tion of them has taken place in recent times, al- 
though within the thirty years preceding Humboldt's 
visit the gradual desiccation of this great basin had 
excited general attention. This, however, is not de- 
pendent upon subterranean channels, as some sup- 
pose, but upon the effects of evaporation, increased 
by the changes operated upon the surface of the 
country. Forests, by sheltering the soil from the 
direct action of the sun, diminish the waste of moist- 
ure ; consequently, when they are imprudently de- 
stroyed, the springs become less abundant, or are 
entirely dried up. Till the middle of the last cen- 
tury the mountains that surround the valleys of 
Aragua were covered with woods, and the plains with 
thickets, interspersed with large trees. As cultiva- 
tion increased, the sylvan vegetation suffered ; and 
as the evaporation in this district is excessively pow- 
erful, the little rivers were dried up in the lower 
portion of their course during a great part of the 
year. The land that surrounds the lake being quite 
flat and even, the decrease of a few inches in the 
IfiYel of the water exposed a vast extenX ol noxmiit 



and as it retired the planters took possession of tiie 
new land. 

The idea that the lake will soon entirely disappetr 
Huifiboldt treats as chimerical, considering it probt- 
ble that a period will shortly arrive when the supphr 
of waters by the rivers and, the evaporation wiu 
balance each other. The mean depth is from 77 to 
96 feet, and there are some parts not less than S8i 
or 956 feet. The length is thirty-four and a ludf 
miles, and the breadth four or five. The tempen- 
ture at the surface, in February, was from 73*4^ to 
74*7°, which was a little lower than the mean tem- 
perature of the air. 

The Lake of Valencia is covered with beantifbl 
islands to the number of fifteen, some of which are 
cultivated. It is well stocked with fish, althousfa it 
furnishes oidy three kinds, which are soft and in- 
sipid. A small crocodile, the bava, which generally 
attains the length of three or four feet, is very com- 
mon ; but it is remarkable that neither the lake nor. 
any of the rivers which flow into it have any laige 
alligators, though these animals abound* a few 
leagues off, in the streams that unite with the Apure 
and Orinoco, or pass directly into the Caribbean 
Sea. The islands are of gneiss, like the surround- 
ing country. Of the plants which they produce, 
many have been believed to be peculiar to the dis- 
trict, such as the papaws of the lake, and the toma- 
toes of the island of Oura. The aquatic vegeta- 
tion along the shores reminded the travellers of the 
lakes of Europe, although the species of potamoge- 
ton, chara, and equisetum were peculiar to the New 

Some of the rivers that flow into this fine sheet 
of water owe their origin to hot springs, of which, 
however, the travellers were able to examine only 
those of Mariara and Las Trincheras. In going up 
the Cura towards its source, the mountains of Ma^ 
riara are seen advancing into the plain, in the form 


of an amphitheatre composed of steep rocks, crowned 
by aenrated peaks. The central point is named Rin- 
con del Diaolo. These masses are composed of a 
coane-grained granite, and are partially covered 
witii Tegetation. In the hills towards the east of 
the Rincon is a ravine containing several small 
basins, the two uppermost of which are only ei^t 
inches in diameter, while the three lower are from 
two to three feet. Their depth varies from three to 
fifteen inches, and their temperature is from 133° to 
138^. The hot water from these fumiels forms a 
rill, which thirty feet lower has a temperature of 
only 118*4**. These springs are slightly impreg- 
nated with sulphuretted hydrogen gas, the fluid hav- 
ing a thin pellicle of sulphur ; while a few phmts in 
the vicinity are crusted with the same substance. 
To the south of this ravine, in the plain extending 
to the shores of the lake, is another fountain of the 
same kind, which issues from a crevice. The water, 
which is not so hot, collects in a basin fifteen or 
eighteen feet in diameter and three feet deep, in 
which the slaves of the neighbouring plantations 
wash at the end of the day. Here the travellers also 
bathed, and afterward found in the surrounding 
woods a great variety of beautiful plants. 

While drying themselves in the sun, after coming 
out of the pool, a little mulatto approached them, 
bowing gravely, and making a long speech on the 
virtues of the water. Showing them his hut, he as- 
sured them they should find in it all the conveniences 
of life ; but his attentions ceased the moment he 
heard they had come merely to satisfy their curios- 
ity, and had no intention to try the efficacy of the 
baths. They are said to be used with success in 
rheumatic swellings, old ulcers, and the dreadful 
affections of the skin called bubas. 

On the 21st February, the travellers set out from 
the Hacienda de Cura for Guacara and New- Valen- 
cia. Ab the heat was excessive they preferred 


travelling by night. Near the hamlet of Punta Zd 
muro, at the foot of the lofty mountains of La 
Yiruelas, the road was bordered by large mimosas, 
sixty feet in height, and with horizontal branches 
meeting at a distance of more than fifty yards, so as 
to form a most beautiful canopy of veidure. Tlie 
night was gloomy, and the Rincon del Diablo with 
its serrated cliffs appeared from time to time iHa- 
minated by the burning of the savannas. At a place 
where the wood was thickest their horses were 
frightened by the yelling of a large jaguar, which 
seemed to follow them closely, and which they were 
informed had roamed among these mountams for 
three years, having escaped the pursuit of the most 
intrepid hunters. 

They spent the 22d in the house of the Marquis de 
Foro, at the village of Guacara, a large Indian com- 
munity ; and on the 23d, after visiting Mocundo, tin 
extensive sugar-plantation near it, they continued 
their journey to New- Valencia. They passed a 
little wood of palms, of the genus Corypha, the 
withered foliage of which, together with the camels 
-feeding in the plain, and the undulating motion of 
the vapours on the arid soil, gave the landscape quite 
an African character. The steriUty of the land in- 
creased as they advanced towards the city, which 
is said to have been founded in 1656, by Alonzo 
Diaz Moreno, and contains a population of six or 
seven thousand individuals. The streets are broad; 
and as the houses are low, they occupied a large ex- 
tent of ground. Here the termites, or white ants, 
were so numerous, that their excavations resembled 
subterranean canals, which, being filled with water 
in rainy weather, became extremely dangerous to 
the buildings. 

On the 26th they set out for the farm of Barbula, 
to examine a new road that was making from the 
city to Porto Cabello ; and on the 27th visited the 
hot springs of La Trinchera, three leagues from Ya- 


lencia. These fountains were so copious as to fonn 
a rirolBt, which, during the greatest droughts, was 
two feet deep and eighteen wide. The temperature 
of the water was 194*5°. Eggs immersed in them 
were boiled in less than four minutes. They issued 
from granite, and Were strongly impregnated with 
sulphnretted hydrogen. A seidiment of carbonate 
of lime was deposited, and the most luxuriant vege- 
tation surrounded the basin, — mimosas, clusias, and 
fig-trees, pushing their roots into the water, and ex- 
tending their branches over it. Forty feet distant 
from these remaikable sources there arose others 
which were of the ordinary temperature. Hum- 
boldt remarks, that in all climates people show the 
same predilection for heat. In Iceland the first 
Christian converts would be baptized only in the 
tepid streams of Hecla ; and in the torrid zone, the 
natives flock from all parts to the thermal waters. 
The -river which is formed by the fountains of La 
Trinchera runs towards the north-east, and near the 
coast expands to a considerable size. 

Descending towards Porto Cabello, the travellers 
passed through a very picturesque district, beauti- 
fied by a most luxuriant vegetation and numerous 
cascades. A stratified coarse-grained granite oc- 
curred near the road. The heat became suffocating 
as they approached the coast, and a reddish vapour 
veiled the horizon. In the evening they reached the 
town, where they were kindly received by a French 
physician, M. Juiiac, whose house contained an in- 
teresting collection of zoological subjects. This 
gentleman was principal surgeon to the royal hospi- 
tsd, and was celebrated for his profound acquaintance 
with the yellow fever. - He stated, that when he had 
treated his patients by bleeding, aperients, and acid 
drinks, in hospitals where the sick were crowded, 
the mortality was 33 ia 100 among the white Creoles, 
and 05 in 100 among recently-disembarked Eu- 
ropeans ; but that since a stimulating treatment, and 


the 118^ ' of opium, benzoin, and al^boUe 
had been substituted for the old debilitating 
the mortality had been reduced to 90 in 100 
Europeans, and 10 among natives. 

The heat of Porto Cabello is not so intense astt 
of La Guayra, the breeze being stronger uid nQ 
regular, and the air having more room to xireiiU 
between the coast and the mountains. The tm 
of the insalubrity of the atmosphere is therefonj 
be sought for in the exhalations that arise from 4 
shore to the eastward, where at the beginning of ti 
rainy season tertian fevers^prevail, wmch easi' ' 
generate into the continued typboid. It has 
obseived that the mestizoes employed In the 
woriLS have a yellower skin when they have mifSni 
several years from these fevers. The fishenk 
assert, that the unwholesomeness of the air is owii 
to the overflowings of the rivers and not to iniuid| 
tions of the sea, and it has been found that tt 
extended cultivation along the banks of the Bio Si 
tevan has rendered them less pestilential. 

The salt-works are similar to those of Any 
near Cumana, but the earth at Porto Cabello co 
tains less muriate of soda. As the emplojmient 
very unhealthy, the poorest persons alone engage 
it. The defence of the coasts of Terra Firma i 
maintained at six points, the castle of San Ante 
at Cumana, the fortifications of La Guayra, P( 
Cabello, Fort St. Charles, and Carthagena. ^ 
to Carthagena the most important place is P 
Cabello. The harbour is one of the finest in 
world, resembling a basin or little inland lake, c 
inff to the westward by a passage so narro\i 
omy one vessel can anchor at a time, and is defr 
by batteries. The upper part of it is marshy g 
filled with stagnant and putrid water. At the 
of Humboldt's visit the number of inhabitanf 

Leaving Porto Cabello on the 1st March ( 

COW-TREE. 155 

nise, our travellers were astonished at the number of 
boats which they saw laden with fruit for the mar- 
ket They returned -to the valleys of Aragua, and 
again stopped at the farm of Barbula. Having 
beard of a tree, the juice of which resembles milk, 
ind is used as an article of food, they visited it, and 
to their .surprise found that the statements which 
had been made to them with respect to it were cor- 
rect. It is named the polo de vaca or cow-tree, and 
has oblong pointed leaves, with a somewhat fleshy 
froit containing one or sometimes two nuts. When 
an incision is made in the trunk, there issues abun- 
dantly a thick glutinous milky fluid, perfectly free 
from acrimony, and having an agreeable smell. It 
is drunk by the negroes and free people who work 
in the plantations, and the travellers took a consid- 
erable quantity of it without the least injurious 
effect. When exposed to the air, this juice presents 
an its surface a yellowish cheesy substance, in mem- 
branous layers, which are elastic, and in Ave or six 
lays become sour, and afterward putrefy. 

The cow-tree appears to be peculiar to the littoral 
[Cordillera, and occurs most plentifully between Bar- 
bula and the Lake of Maracaybo. 

"Among the many curious phenomena," says 
Humboldt, " which presented themselves to me in 
the course of my travels, I confess there were few 
by which my imagination was so powerfully affected 
as the cow-tree. All that relates to milk and to the 
cereal plants inspires us with an interest, which is 
not merely that of the physical knowledge of things, 
but which connects itself with another o^er of ideas 
and feelings. We can hardly imagine how the hu- 
man species could exist without farinaceous sub- 
stances, and without the nutritious fluid which the 
breast of the mother contains, and which is appro- 
priated to the condition of the feeble infant. The 
amylaceous matter of the cereal plants, — the object 
of religious veneration among so many ancient and 

156 COW-TRES. 

modem nations, — is distributed in the seeds, and de- 
posited in the roots of vegetables ; while the milk 
which we use as food appears exclusively the pro- 
duct of animal organization. Such are the imprw* 
sions which we receive in early childhood, uid atfch 
is the source of the astonishment with which we 
are seized on first seeing the cow^-tree. Magnificent 
forests, majestic rivers, and lofty mountains clad in 
perennial snows, are not the objects which we here 
admire. A few drops of a vegetable fluid impress 
us with an idea of the power and fecundity of na- 
ture. On the parched side of a rock grows a tree ' 
with dry and leathery fohage, its large woody roots 
scarcely penetrating into the ground. For seveial 
months in the year its leaves are not moistened ty a 
shower ; its branches look as if they were deadend 
withered ; but when the trunk is bored, a' bland and 
nourishing milk flows from it. It is at sunrise that 
the vegetable fountain flows most freely. At that 
time the blacks and natives are seen cominj^ from 
all parts, provided with large bowls to receive the 
milk, which grows yellow and thickens at its sur- 
face. Some empty their vessels on the spot, while 
others carry tliem to their children. One imagines 
he sees the family of a shepherd who is distributing 
the milk of his flock." 

The travellers had resolved to visit the eastern 
extremity of the cordilleras of New-Grenada, where 
they end in the Paramos of Tirnotes and Niquitas; 
but learning at Barbula that this excursion would 
retard their arrival at the Orinoco thirty-five days, 
they judged it prudent to relinquish it, lest they 
should fail in the real object of their journey, tlu^ 
of ascertaining by astronomical observations the 
point at which the Rio Negro and the River of Ama- 
zons communicate with the former stream. They 
therefore returned to Guacara, to take leave of the 
family of the Marquis del Toro, and pass three days 
more on the shores of the Lake of Valencia. It 

^ l*LAlfTATI01f8 OF CACAO. 167 

jpened to be the time of carnival, and all was 
^ety. The games in which the common people 
idged were occasionally not of the most pleasant 
d. ^me led about an ass laden with water, with 
ich they spnnkled the apartments wherever they 
nd an open winoow ; while others, carrying bags 

of the hairs of the Dolichos pruriens^ which ex- 
3 great irritation of the skin, blew them into the 
es of those who were passing by. From Gua- 
•a they returned to New-Valencia, where they 
nd a few French emigrants, the only ones they 
IT during five years in the Spanish colonies. 
(Tie cacao-plantations have always been consid- 
d as the principal source of the prosperity of 
se countries. The tree {Theohroma cacao) which 
duces this substance is not now found wild in the 
ods to the north of the Orinoco, and begins to be 
n only beyond the cataracts of Atures and May- 
es ; but it abounds near the Ventuaro, and on the 
3er Orinoco. In the plantations it vegetates so 
9rously, that flowers spring out even from the 
3dy roots wherever they are left uncovered. It 
ers from the north-east winds ; and the heavy* 
wers that fall during tlie winter season, from De- 
iber to March, are very injurious to it. Great 
nidity is favourable only when it augments grad- 
Ly, and continues a long time without interrup- 
1. In the dry season, when the leaves and young 
t are wetted by a heavy shower, the latter falls 
;he ground. For these reasons the cacao-har- 
t is very imcertain, and the causes of failure are 
reased by the depredations of worms, insects. 
Is, and jquadrupeds. Tliis branch of agriculture 
; the disadvantage, moreover, of obliging the new 
nter to wait eight or ten years for the fruits of 

labours, and of yielding an article of very difll- 
t preservation; but it requires a much less n^im- 

of skives thnn most others, one being suffiiiont 

a UioM'^and irecs, which at an average yield 



158 ooNsuMPTioii t>r 01910/ . I 

twelye fahegas annually. Itsppeareidprobablaylhil 
from 1800 to 1806 the«yearly produce of the oagi^. 1 
plantations of the capitania-general of CanMfeMtt.J 
at least 193,000 faneg^as, or 3994MX) bqahie^ of^lMr ^ 
the province of Caraccas funiiBhed tluree-inpK' < 
The crops are gathered twice a year, at the enSrf , 
June and of December. 

Humboldt states, as the result of immeiodi bpal ' 
estimates, that Europe consumes,— 

93,000,000 poanda of eaeao, at 19 flr. per ewtM fT, 

33,000,000 poanda of tea. at 4 fir. per lb ""USt 

140,000,000 pounds of coflbe, at 1 14 flr. per awtMilflO,! 
-450,000,000 pounds of aogai:^ at 54 flr. per emtf 

Total ▼alue, »,S80,000<. steillnf , or 

The lat^ wars have had a very injurious 
the cacao-trade of Caraccas ; and the cultii 
this article seems to be gnradually decliidng. H^IIL 
serted that the new plantations are not so pfudi B H w 
as the old, the trees not acquiring the same timri 
and the harvest being later and'less abundant TUi 
is supposed to be owing to exhaustion of the had; 
but Humboldt attributes it rather to the diminotioD 
of moisture caused by cropping.* 

In concluding his remarks on the province of Vene- 
zuela, our author gives a general view of the soil 
and metallic productions of the districts of Aroa, 
Barquesimeto, and Carora. From the Sierra Nevada 
of Merida, and the Paramos of Niquitao, Bocono, 
and Las Rosas, the eastern cordiUera of New^rs- 
nada decreases so rapidly in height, that between 
the ninth and tenth degrees of latitude it forms ody 

* According to Macculloch, the tittle use made of this agnalleBt bevt* 
rafre in England mav be ascribed to the opprewiTWMaa of the duttn 
with which it has been loaded, and not to Its being niiaiiiiaUe to tte 
public taste. " At this moment (May, 1831)," he saya, " Trinidad and 
Grenada cacao is worth in bond, in the London mark«t, flnom 94a. to 66i>. 
a cwt. ; while the duty la no less than 65s., being nearly 100 per e^ 
upon the flner qualities, and no less than SOO per cent, upon thoaa Ual 
are inferimr V*—MaccuUQck*t Dictionary t^ Commtrco, mrt, Cmam% 

or THB D1STSIQT. 15(^ 

IuIIb, wiiiofa separates the rivers fhat Join 
tlnLjtaare and the Orinoco from those that flow 
MkAb Ouibbean ^a or the Lake of Valencia. 
Hppb ridge .are built the towns of Nirgua, San 
fPlpii, ^araoesimeto, and Tocuyo. The ground 
riMs'towards the south. 

In fbB Cordillera just described, the strata usually 
dip lb llie N.W;^ so that the waters flow in that di- 
lectkNi over the ledges, forming those numerous 
tamnto wod rivers, the inundations caused by which 
—'^-faiil to the health of the inhabitants from 
[Tddera to the Lake of Marayeabo. 
fhe streams that descend N.It. towards the 
'0( Porto CabeUo and La Puenta do Hicacos, 
remaikable are the Tocuyo^Aroa, a^ Ta- 
'; the TaUeys of whic> nrere it not for mqrbid 
would perhaps be more populous ^han 
Iboae of Aragna, as the soil is prolific and the wa- 
I0n navigable; In a lateral valley, oi>eninginto that 
df dw Aioa, are copper-mines ; and in the ravines 
a|firer fhe sea are simUar ores and gold-washinp. 
ne total produce of both amounts to a quantity 
iFarrin^ from 1087 to 1358 cwts. of excellent metal. 
Indications of silver and gold have been found in 
Tarions parts. 

The savannas or llanos of Monai^ and Carora, 
aeparated from the great plains of Portuguesa and 
Cuaboso by the mountainous tract of Tocuyo and 
Mjgoa, although bare and arid, are oppressed with 
Qiiaamata; and Humboldt seems to think that their 
inaatnbrity may be owing to the disengagement of 
aidftoretted hydrogen gaa. 

160 VR8INS, OR Howinre mnbonri. 




Journey across the Llanos, from Aragua to Sm 
I Fernando, 

Mountains between the Valleys < 
cal Constitatioa— Tbe Llanos of Caraoestf— Boote Ofw dM 
to the Rio Apure— Cattle and Deer—Yegetttion— Oilalmo* 
or Electric Eele— Indian Girl— Alligaton' and B o m A nita^i 
Fernando deApure. .o' • 

From the chain of fnountains wluch bordenifK 
Lake of Valencia towards t)ie sonth", tfaiere iti oidrf 
in the same direction a vast extent ,of lerel Indk 
constituting the llanos or savannas of Caraqm; 
and from uie cultivated and populous distm. Oi 
Aragua, embellished with mountains and nvRVi 
and teeming with vegetation, one descends into a 
parched desolate plain, bounded by the horizon. Ob 
this route we now accompany our travellers, vlio 
on the 6th March left the valleys of Aragna, and^ 
keeping alotig the south-west side of the lake, passed 
"over a rich champaign country covered with cala- 
bashes, watermelons, and plantains. Tbe rising of 
the sun was announced by the howling of raonkeya* 
of which they saw numerous bands moving as in 
procession from one tree to anpther. These crea- 
tures (the Simia ursina) execute their evolutions with 
singular imiformi ty . When the boughs of two tree* 
do not touch each other, the leader of the party 
swings himself by the tail upon the. nearest. twi^ 
the rest following in regular succession. The dis- 
tance to which their bowlings may be heard was 
ascertained by Humboldt to be 1705 yards. The In- 
dians assert that one always chants as leader of the 
choir ; and the missionaries say that when a female 

' MmnrAiHB of .a&aova. ' 161 

Is OBfttpoint of faringing forth, tlie howlings are 

IMF tQl tbe mom«iit when the young appears. 

taefsUera passed the night at the viSlage of 

Mar the lake, where uey lodged wiSi an 

. «ldieifmrt, a native of Murcia, who aipused them 
wilii m recital of the history of the world in Latin, 
wliieitlitt bad learned among the Jesuits. Leaving 

I Wm ptaea, tibey began to ascend the chain-of moun-' 
taia^jMioIi extenda towards La Palma, and from 
ibk tap of an elrvatsadpTatfonn took their'last view 
of.lfaa taUeya of Aragaa. The rock was gneiss with 
■ HDlinrOna Tema of quartz. Arriving at the liamlet 
•if Ifaiia Magdalena, they were stopped by the in- 
.j|Mt|nfai'Wlio-.wanted to force theur muleteers to 
aaar maaa,, JBeren miles farther Oh thev came to 
tta TiUa de Ckna, situated in an arid valley^ almost 
daatttute oC-Tegetation. Here they remained for 
flw ^Ji^tAf and pined an assembly of nearly all the 
reaidenta in the towii to admire in a ma^c-lantem 
a Tiew of the great capitals of Europe. This place, 
wiilBh contains a population of four thousand, is 
calebraied for the miracles performed by an image 
of the Yir^in found by an Indian in a ravme. 

Continnmg to descend the southern declivity of 
the range, they passed part of the night of the 11th 
at the village of San Juan, remarkaBle for its hot 
au r iu ga and the lingular form of two mountains in 
fne neighbourhood, called the Morros, which rise 
like alender peaks from a,waU of rocks. At two in 
the morning they continued their journey by Ortiz 
and Parapara to the Mesa de Paja. The ground over 
which they travelled forms the ancient shore of the 
nanoa ; and as«the chain has now been traversed, it 
may be interesting^ to present a brief view of ids geo- 
logical constitution. 

In the Sierra de Mariara, near Caraccas, the rock 
ia coarse-grained sTftnite. The valleys of Aragua, 
the shores of the Lake of Valencia, its islands, and 
Iba aonthemhnuidi of the coast chain, are of gneiss 



and mica-slate, which are auriferous. At San 
some of the rocks were gneiss passing into i 
slate. On the south of this place the gneiss is 
cesJed beneath a deposit of serpentine, whicb 
ther south, passes into or alternates with g 
stone. This rock is now the principal one, a 
the midst of it rise the Morros of San Juan, 
posed of crystalline limestone of a greenish 
colour, and containing masses of dark-blue indu 
clay. Behind the Morros is another compact 
stone containing shells. The valley that des< 
from San Juan to the llanos is filled with trap-: 
Ijring upon green-slate. Lower down the rocKs 
a basaltic aspect. Farther south the slates c 
pear, being concealed under a trap-deposit of if 
appearance, but assuming an amygdaloidal cfa 
ter, and on the margin of the plain is seen a fc 
tion of clinkstone or porphyry-slate. 

The travellers now entered the basin of the 11 
The sun was almost in the zenith, the grounc 
at the temperature of 118° or 122°, and the 5 
cacing heat was augmented by the wliirls of 
which incessantly arose froni the surface o 
steril soil. All around the plains seemed to as 
into the sky. The liorizon in some parts was 
and distinct, while in otliers it seemed undulati 
blended with the atmosphere. The trunks of | 
trees, stripped of their foliajje, and seen from 
through the haze, resembled the masts of ships 
covered on the verge of the ocean. 

In order to give some interest to the narrati' 
a journey across a tract of so monotonous an as 
Humboldt presents a jreneral view of the plaii 
America, contrasted with the deserts of Africa 
the fertile steppes of Asia; of which, however 
most striking points alone can be hvrv taken. 1 
is something awful and melancholy, he says, ii 
uniform aspect of these savannas, where every 
^seems motionless, and where the shadow of 

■'WmUMMB 0|r DE0BETI. 169 

lUbfifriiioiitfas. He eyen doubts whe- 

Ito Hi 111! liuW nf Hill Umlim iii iif Hiii Ilaiiosex- 
cilM MMk artmilHhment ; for as monntainous cbiin- 
tdJM Inromtmiilvityctf appearance, viiaterer may 
1« ne ikviiftiiMi of tiiOT smmiiits, 
jlBiBiBi nqge is periuqps not so striking as ttm of 
i ImimTIni plain; nnread out like an ocean, and on 
an iidat nizmg with the sky . 

It kH been said that Europe has lis heaths, Asia 
its jCm«f, Africa its dMvrllf, and America its saoat^ 
9m i and tliese great diyisions of the globe have been 
chwrturipBd l^ these jcircmnstances. Bnt as the 
tani haafli always surooses the existence of plants 
jf Unt name, and as aU the plains of Europe are not 
haaifayk die desmption is mcorrect. Nor are the 
Nappes of Asia always covered with saline phmts, 
ione of tbem being real deserts; neither are the 
AmendDi llanos always grassy. Instead of deaig- 
Hatiiv the Tast levels of these different re^ns uy 
IfaB'nalare of the j^ants which they produce, it seems 
proper to distinguish them into deserts and stewpes^ 
or jtfooniMf, by which terms would be meant plains 
dsrtitate of vegetation, or covered with grasses or 
small dicotyledonous plants. The savannas of North 
America have been designated b^ the name of vrai' 
fist or meadows ; but the phrase is not venr ^mmica- 
bio to pastures which are often dry. Trie Danos 
aid pampas of South America are real steppes, dis- 
niayuig a beautiful verdure in the rainy season, but 
dmrrnggreat drou^ts assuming the aspect of a des- 
ert. Tne grass is then reduced to powder, the 
noond cracks, and the alli^^Eitors and serpents bury 
flimnselves in the mud, where they remain in a state 
of lethargy till they are roused Xrr the showers of 
qinng. On the borders of rivulets, however, and 
around the little pools of stagnant water, thickets 
of the Mauritia palm preserve a brilliant verdure, even 
daring the driest part of the year. 

Hie principal characteristic of the savannas of 


South America is the entire want of hills, 
space extending to 387 square miles, there ii 
single eminence a foot high. These plains: 
eveiy present two kinds of inequalities : the- 
consisting of broken strata of sandstone or 
stone, wWch stand four or five feet above th 
face ; and the mesas, composed of small flats < 
vex mounds, rising gradually to the height ol 
yards. The uniform aspect of these flats, 1 
treme rarity of inhabitants, the fatigue of tra^ 
under a burning sky amid clouds of dust, thi 
tinual recession of the horizon, and the succ 
appearance of solitary palms, make the stepp 

Eear far more extensive than they really al 
as even been imagined that the whole eastei 
of South America, from the Orinoco and the 
to the Plata and the Straits of Magellan, is on< 
level ; but this is not the case. In order to ' 
stand their limitations it will be necessary to 
general view of the mountain-ranges. 

The Cordillera of the coast, where the h 
summit is the Silla of Caraccas, and which h 
nected by the Paramo de las Rosas to the N 
de Merida, and the Andes of New-Grenada, h 
ready been described. A less elevated but 
larger group of mountains extends from the n 
of tjie Guaviare and the Meta, the source of th 
noco, the Marony, and the Essequibo, towards F 
and Dutch Guiana. This, which is named th 
dillera of Parime, may be followed for a leni 
863 miles, and is separated from the Andes of 
Grenada by a space of 276 miles in breadth. /. 
chain of mountains, which connects the Anc 
Peru with the mountains of Brazil, is the cor( 
of Chiguitos, dividing the rivers flowing int 
Amazon from the tributaries of the Plata. 
' These three transverse chains or groups, e: 
ing from west to east within the limits of the 
sone, are separated by level tracts forming the 


of Caraccas or of the Lower Orinoco, the flats of the 
Amazcm and Rio Negro, and those of Buenos Ayres 
or La Plata. The mid(Ue basin, known by the colo- 
nists under the name of the hosques or selvas of the 
Amazon,, is covered with trees ; the southern, the 
pampas of Buenos Ayres, with grass ; and the north* 
em, the Uanos of Varinas and Caraccas, with plants 
of various kinds. 

The western coasts of South America are bordered 
by a wall of mountains, pierced at intervals by vol- 
canic fires, and constituting the celebrated cordillera 
of the Andes, the mean height of which is 11,830 
hex. It extends in the direction of a meridian, send- 
ing out two lateral branches, one in lat. 10^ north, 
being that of the coast of Caraccas ; the other in lat. 
16^ ^kL 18° south, forming the cordillera of Chiquitos, 
and widening eastward in Brazil into vast table-lands. 
Between these lines is a group of granitic mountains, 
ttnining from 3° to 7° north latitude, in a direction 
^rallel to the equator, but not united to the Andes. 
U*hese three chains have no active volcanoes, and 
none of their summits enter the line of perpetual 
snow. They are separated by plains, which are 
closed towards the west and open towards the east ; 
and they are so low that were the Atlantic to rise 
320 feet at the mouth of the Orinoco, and 1*280 feet 
at the mouth of the Amazon, more than the half of 
South America would be covered, and tlie eastern 
declivity of the Andes would become a shore of the 

We now accompany the travellers on their route 
from the northern side of the llanos to the banks 
of the Apure, in the province of Varinas. After 
passinfT two nights on horseback they arrived at a 
uttlo form called El Cayman, wtiere was a house 
surrounded by some small huts covered with reeds 
and skins. They found an old negro who had the 
management of the farm during his master's ab- 
aence. Although he told them of herds composed 

166 AtLioATOR — ^niu^ 

of seTeral thousand coWs, they silked in Ttin fti 
milk, and were obliged to content thenwehrag utti 
some, muddy and fetid water drawn firom a HflU- 
bouring pool, of which they contrived to diinklf 
using a linen cloth as a mter. Whea tlie n ' 
were unloaded, they were set at liberty to g^ 
search for water, and the strangers following ' 
came upon a copious reservoir surroopded wtm 
trees. Covered with dust and soorched by the'suMj 
wind of the desert, they plunged' into the pool, lit 
had scarcely begun to enjoy its coolness whea Ab 
noise of an alligator floundering in the mod indsecd 
them to make a precipitate retrc»ltt.> Niglit conk% 
on, they wandered about in search of the fttnn wil^ 
out succeeding in finding it, and at len^j^ nsdfsd 
to seat themselves under a palm-tree, in a drw not 
surrounded by short grass, when an Indian, irao M 
been on his round coUecting the cattle, comiw Wf 
on horseback, was persuaded, thotgh not i^nom 
difficulty, to guide them to the house. At two in 
the morning they set off, with the view of reachmf 
Calabozo before noon. The aspect of the cdmitrj 
continued the same. There was no moonlight, hA 
the great masses of nebulae illumined part of Uie ter- 
restrial horizon as they set out. As the sun se- 
conded, the phenomena of miragepresented them- 
selves in all their modifications. The little currenti 
of air that passed along the ground had so variahtoa 
temperature, that in a herd of wild cows some ap- 
peared with their le^ raised from the suiface, whue 
others rested upon it. The objects were genenllj 
suspended, but no inversion was observed. At sun- 
rise the plains assumed a more animated appearance; 
the horses, mules, and -oxen, which graze on them 
in a state of freedom, after having reposed during the 
night beneath the pahns, now assembled in crowds. 
As the travellers approached Calabozo they taw 
troops of small deer feeding in the midst of ths 
cattle. These animals, which are called matacsn^ 

ywaafr^ama-w^ ipi llamos— calabom. 167 

we m Mltfi lagor than fha roe of Europe, and have 
a riaA JGnnhCQloiired pile, spotted with white. 
Sofliifi-of.theln were entirely of the latter hue. 
Thair lleah is'sood; and their number .is so great 
that m trade, in uieir akin^ might be carried on with 
aftfantafpe'; but the inhabitants are too indolent to 
eunigein any active occ1^>ation. 

Tnaae steppes were principally covered with 
granet of the genera kuUngioj cenckrusj and fas- 
jmIhm, which at that season scarcely attain a height 
. of nue or ten inches near Calabozo and St. Jerome 
U Pirital, although on the banks of the Apure and 
Portngueaa they rise to the length of four feet. 
Alofig with these were mingled some tumefsB, mal- 
vactt, andmimosae. *^The pastures are richest on 
the hanka of the rivers, and under the shade of cory- 
idia palms. • These trees were singularly uniform m 
aiie ; tbeir height being from twenty-one to twenty- 
five feet, and their diameter from ei^ to ten inches. 
Tte wood is very hard, and the fan-like leaves are 
used for roofing the huts scattered over the plains. 
▲ few clumps of a species of rhopala occur here and 

The j^osophers suffered greatly from the heat 
in crossmg the Mesa de Calabozo. Whenever the 
wind blew the temperature rose to 104^ or lOo^, and 
the air was loaded with dust. The guides advised 
them to fill their hats with the rhopala leaves, to 
prevent the action of the solar xzys on the head, 
and from this expedient they ^rived considerable 

At Calabozo they experienced the most cordial 
hoepitalitsr from the administrator of the Real Ha- 
ctenda, Ixm Miguel Cousia The town, which is 
aitaaAed between the Quarico and the Urituco, has 
a population of 6000. The principal weaUh of the 
innabitants consists of cattle, of which it was com- 
puted that there were 98,000 in the neighbour- 
ing pastures. M, Depona estimates the number in 

168 cATTLt— nBctuo jnu. 

the plains, extending from the moutliB aiiinb Oiinooi 
to the Lake of Maracaybo, at 1,900,000 qd»ii, lOOyQH 
horses, and 90,000 mules ; and in ttie pampw ii# 
Buenos A3nres it is believed that there are I9fi00jtt$ 
of cows and 3,000,000 of horses, not ifidndiBg oMv 
which have no acknowledged owner. -In the uttM 
of Oaraccas the richer proprietors of the great biilo% 
or cattle-farms, brand 14,000 head ^very year, ^ 
sell 5000 or 6000. The exportation firom tne tiMf 
capitania-general amounts annually to 174^000 akiH 
of oxen and 11,600 of goats, fcff the West lail 
islands alone. This stock was first introduced aba^ 
1548 by Christoval Rodriguez. The^r are oC.tti 
Spanish breed, and their disposition is so gotfi 
that a traveller runs no risk of being attackaiar 
pursued by them. The horses are a£o deaoenM 
from ancestors of the same country^ aod^are feaa* 
rally of a brown colour. There were no ahaijp la 
the plains. 

Humboldt remarks, that when we hear of fta 
prodigious numbers of oxen, horses, and midfls 
spread over the plains of America, we forget that ii 
civilized Europe the aggregate amount is not less 
surprising. According to JVI. Peuchet, France feeds 
6,000,000 of the large-homed class ; and in the Aus- 
trian monarchy, the oxen, cows, and calves are es- 
timated by Mr. Lichtenstein at about 13,400,000. 

At Calabozo, in the midst of the llanos, the trar- 
ellers found an electrical apparatus nearly as com- 
plete as those of Europe, made by a person who had 
never seen any such instrmnent, had received no ifr 
structions, and was acquainted with the phenomena 
of electricity only by reading the Treatise of Sigand 
de la Fond, and Franklin's Memoirs. Next to this 
piece of mechanism, the objects that excited the 
greatest interest were the electrical eels, or g]nnnoti« 
which abound in the basins of stagnant water and 
the confluents of the Orinoco. The dread of ike 
bocks given by these animals is so great amoQf 


the common people and Indians, that for some time 
no specimens could be procured, and one which was 
at length brought to them afforded very unsatisfac- 
tory results. 

On the 19th March, at an early hour, they set off 
for the village of Rastro de Abaxo, whence they 
were conducted by the natives to a stream which, 
in the dry season, forms a pool of muddy water sur- 
rounded by trees. It being very difficult to catch 
the g3annoti vrith nets, on account of their extreme 
agility, it was resolved to procure some by intoxi- 
cating or benumbing them with the roots of certain 
plants, which when thrown into the water produce 
that effect. At this juncture the Indians informed 
them that they would fish with horses, and soon 
brought from the savanna about thirty of these ani- 
mals, which they drove into the pool. 

" The extraordinary noise caused by the horses' 
hoofs makes the fishes issue from the mud, and ex- 
cites them to combat. These yellowish and livid 
eels, resembUng large aquatic snakes, swim at the 
surface of the water, and crowd under the beUies 
of the horses and mules. The struggle between 
animals of so different an organization affords a very 
interesting sight. The Indians, furnished with har- 
poons and long slender reeds, closely surround the 
pool. Some of them climb the trees, whose branches 
stretch horizontally over the water. By their wild 
cries and their long reeds they prevent the horses 
from coming to the edge of the basin. The eels, 
stunned by the noise, defend themselves by repeated 
discharges of their electrical batteries, and for a 
long time seem likely to obtain the victory. Several 
horses sink under the violence of the invisible blows 
which they receive in the organs most essential to 
life, and, benumlnid by the force and frequency of 
the shocks, disappear beneatli the surface. Others, 
panting, witli erect mune, and haggard eyes expres- 
sive of anguish, raise themselves and endeavour to 



escape from the storm which overtakes them, bat 
are driven back by the Indians. A few, however, 
succeed in eluding the active vigilance of the fishers; 
they gain the shore, stumble at every step, and 
stretch themselves out on the sand, exhausted with 
fatigue, and having their limbs benumbed by the 
electric shocks of the gymnoti. 

" In less than five minutes two horses were killed. 
The eel, which is five feet long, presses itself against 
the belly of the Jiorse, and makes a discharge along 
the whole extent of its electric organ. It attacks at 
once the heart, the viscera, and the caeliac plexus of 
the abdominal nerves. It is natural that the effect 
which a horse experiences should be more powerful 
than that produced by the same fish on man, when 
he touches it only by one of the extremities. The 
horses are probably not killed, but only stunned; 
they are droi^ed from the impossibility of rising 
amid the prolonged struggle between the other horses 
and eels." 

The gymnoti at length dispersed, and approached 
the edge of the pool, when five of them were taken 
by means of small harpoons fastened to long cords. 
A few more were caught towards evening, and there 
was thus obtained a sufficient number of specimens 
on which to make experiments. The results of Hum- 
boldt^s observations on these^ animals may be stated 
briefly, as follows : — 

The gymnotus is the largest electrical fish known, 
some of those measured by him being from 5 feet 4 
inches to 6 feet 7 inches in length. One, .4 feet 1 
inch long, weighed 15 J Troy pounds, and its trans- 
verse diameter was 3 inches 7^ lines. The colour 
was a fine ohve-green ; the under part of the head 
yellow mingled with red. Along the back are two 
rows of small yellow spots, each of which contains 
an excretory aperture for the mucus, with which 
the skin is constantly covered. The swimming- 
bladder is of large size, and before it is situated an- 


other of analler dimensions; the former separated 
from the skin^ a mass of fat, and resting upon the 
electric organs, which occupy more than two-thirds 
of the flsh. 

It would be rash to expose one^s self to the first 
shocks of a very large individual, — ^the pain and 
numbness which follow in such a case being ex- 
tremely violent. When in a state of great weak- 
ness, the animal produces in the person who touches 
it a twitching, which is propagated from the hand to 
the elbow ; a kind of internal vibration lasting two 
or three seconds, and followed by painful torpidity. 
being felt after every stroke. The electric energy 
depends upon the will of the creature, and it directs 
it towards the point where it feels most strongly 
irritated. The organ acts only under the immediate 
influence of the brain and heart ; for when one of 
them was cut through the middle, the fore -part of 
the body alone gave shocks. Its action on man is 
transmitted and intercepted by the same substances 
that transmit and intercept the electrical current of 
a conductor charged by a Leyden jar or a Voltaic 
pile. In the water the shock can be conveyed to 
a considerable distance . No spark has ever been ob- 
served to issue from the body of the eel when ex- 

The gymnoti are objects of dread to the natives. 
and Uieir presence is considered as the principal 
cause of the want of fish in the pools of the llanos. 
All the inhabitants of the waters avoid them ; and 
the Indians asserted that when they take young al- 
ligators and these animals in the same net, the latter 
never display any appearance of wounds, because 
they disable their enemies before they are attacked 
by them. It became necessary to change the di- 
rection of a road near Urituco, solely because they 
were so numerous in a river that they killed many 
mules in the course of fording it. 

On the 24th March the travellers left Calabozo, 


and advanced southward. As they proceeded they 
found the country more dusty, and destitute of heib- 
a^. The palm-trees gradually disappeared. From 
eleven in the morning till sunset the thermometer 
kept at 95°. Although the air was calm at the 
height of eight or ten feet, the ground was swept by 
little currents which raised clouds of dust. About 
four in the afternoon, they observed in the savanna 
a young Indian girl, twelve or thirteen years of age, 
quite naked, lying on her back, exhausted with fa* 
tigue and thirst, and with her eyes, nostrils, and 
mouth filled with dust. Her breathing was sterto- 
rous, and she was unable to answer the questions 
put to her. Happily oue of the mules was laden 
with water, the application of which to her face 
aroused her. She was at first frightened, but by de- 
grees took courage, and conversed with the guides. 
As she could not be prevailed upon to mount the 
beasts of burden, nor to return to Urituco, she was 
furnished with some water; upon which &^e re- 
sumed her way, and was soon separated from her 
preservers by a cloud of dust. 

In the night they forded the Rio Urituco, which is 
filled with crocodiles remarkable for their ferocity, 
although those of the Rio Tisnao, in the neighbour- 
hood, are not at all dangerous. They were ^own 
a hut or shed, in which a singular scene had been 
witnessed by their host of Calabozo, who, having 
slept in it upon a bench covered with leather, was 
awakened early in the morning by a violent shaking, 
accompanied with a horrible noise. Presently an 
alligator, two or three feet long, issued from under 
the bed, and dart(^d at a dog lying on the threshold, 
but missing him, ran towards the river. When the 
Kj)()t where the bench stood was examined, the dried 
mud was found turned up to a considerable depth, 
\v]i(T(i the alligator had lain in its state of torpidity, 
or summt^r sleep. The hut being situated on the 
edffe of a pool, and inundated during part of the 

VHA in PATONBA. . # 17$ 

% ti|t animal had no doubt entered at that period 
and c— ccalnd itaelf in the mire. The Indianwten 
find MJotmons boas, or water-serpents, in the same 
leduflnoc atate. 

On me 96th BCarch they passed over the smooth- 
est part of the steppes of Caraccasj the Mesa de Pa- 
vcmea. As far p the eye could reach, no object 
fiCteen inches high could be discovered, excepting 
of which the^ met some large herds, accom- 
by flocks of the crotophaga anHf a bird of a 
.c<donr, with oliire reflections. They were ex- 
cee^gngly tame, and perched upon the quadrupeds in 
■earch of insects. 

Wherever excavations had been made, they found 
Ihe rock to be old red sandstone or conglomerate, 
in which were observed fragments of quartz, kiesel- 
achiefer, and lydian stone. The cementing clay is 
fenuginonSy and often of a very bright red. This 
Ibnaation, which edvers an extent of several thou- 
sand square leagued, rests on the northern margin 
of the plains upon transition-slate, and to the south 
upon the granites of the Orinoco. 
. After wandering a long time on the desert and 
patUesa savannas of the Mesa de PavOnes, they 
were agreeably surprised to, find a solitary farm- 
houB* surrounded with gardens and pools of clear 
water. Farther on they passed the night near the 
village of San Geronymo del Guyaval, situated on 
the banks of the. Rio Guarico, which joins the Apure. 
Tlie ecclesiastic, who- was a young man, and hsdi no 
other halHtation than his church, received them in 
the kindest manner. Crossing the Guarico, they ^- 
oamped in the plain, and earfy in the morning pur- 
sued their way over low grounds, which are often 
inundated. On the S7th they arrived at Uie Villa de 
8aa Fernando, and terminated their jonmey over the 

174 SAN tnUUMPO i>B AfmUE. 

Voyage down the BioAfntre. 

San Fernando— Ooounencement of the Rainy 
moaplMrieal Plienomena— Cetaceoos Antmal a— V oy a ia ( 
Aparo-Vececation an^ Wild Animals— Crocodile^ OUgrini^ M 
Jaguars— Don Ignaoio and Donna laabella— WataMbwMlHMHl 
Howling* In tba Forest— Oaritae-flalH-AdTenCQn wftk a MtpH^^ttf 
natees— Month of the Rio Apnre. 

The town of San Fernando, which was ibimM 
onl3r in 1789, is advantageously situated on a tani 
jiavigable river, the Apure, a tributary of the Ofr 
noco^ near the mouth of another stream iHM 
traverses the whole province of V arinas, all tfa»f» 
ductions of which pass through it on their way ti 
.the coast. It is during the rainy season, when tte 
rivers overflow their banks and inundate a vast a^ 
tent of country, that commerce is most active. At 
this period the savannas are covered with water to 
the depth of twelve or fourteen feet, and present the 
appearance of a great lake, in the midst of whid^ 
the farm-houses and villages are seen rising oa 
islands scarcely elevated above the surface. Horses, 
mules, and cows perish in great numbers, and affoid 
abimdant food to the zamuros, or carrion vnltores, 
as well as to the alligators. The indiabitants, to 
avoid the force of the currents, and the danger 
arising from the trees carried down by them, m- 
stead of ascending the course of the rivers, find it 
safer to cross the flats in their boats. 

San Fernando is celebrated for the excessive heat 
which prevails there during the greater part of the 
year. The travellers found the white sand of the 
shores, wherever it was exposed to the sun, to have 

HIAT-— TBUMDISR* . . 175 

a tiiynluni of lfi9*6^ at two in the afternoon. , 
Tte vennameter, raised eighteen inches above the 
wijPiiiicHtnd 100^ : and at six feet, lOir*. The 
t s mp f w it m e of the air in the shade was 07^. These 
obaervatkma were made during a dead cahn, and 
wbot ib^ wind began to blow, the heat increased 
three degrees. 

Oatlie S8th March, Homboldt and his companion, 
bflinf on the shore at sunrise, heard the thunder 
ariH^ an around, although as yet there were only 
■eiNand doiidB, advandng in opposite duections 
tow aidi the lenith. Delnc's hygrometer was at 53^, 
tiio flmmDmeter stood at 74-7^, and the electrome- 
tar gave jio particular indication. As the clouds 
— wSa ie d, the blue of the sky changed to deep azure, 
add then to gray ; and when it was complete^ over- 
eaat tiw tfaormometer xose several degrees. Al- 
iboaA a heavy rain fell, the travellers remained 
an tiSa shore to observe the electrometer. When 
it was held at. the height of six feet from the 
fioaad, the pith4)alls generally separated onhr a few 
■ac o nda beiore the %htning was seen. The sep- 
ttation was four lines. ITie elec^c charge re* 
nu&aad the same for several minutes, and there were 
repeated oscillations from positive to negative. To- 
wms the end of the storm the west wind Uew with 

Kat impetuosity, and when the douds diq;>ersed 
tiiarmometer fell to 71*6^. 
'Humboldt states, that he enters into these details 
ftooaase Europeans usually confine themselves to a 
d sa c i iptio n of the impression made on their minds 
bf tbe solemn qiectacle of a tropica] thunder-storm ; 
and beranse,-in a country where the year is divided 
ii^^wo great seasons of drought and rain, it is in- 
taiadtina to trace the transition from the one to the 
alher. In the valleys of Aragua, he had from the 
Mb. February observed clouds forming in the even- 
ly and in the beginning of March the accpmulation 
aamcolar v^onrs bacaaie visible. Flashes of 



liflhtning were seen in the sonth, and at sunset 
^s electrometer regularly displayed positive 
cations, the separation of the pith-balls being I 
three to four lines. After the 86th of the k 
month, the electrical equilibrium of the atmosp 
seemed broken, although the hygrometer still 
noted great dryness. 

'Hie'fbUowing is an account of the atmospl 
phenomena in we inland districts to the east of 
Cordilleras of Merida and New-Grenada, in thf 
nos of Venezuela, and the Rio Meta, from the fourl 
the tenth degree of north latitude, wherever the i 
conUnue^rom May to October, and consequent^ 
elude the period of the greatest heat, which i 
July and August : — ^^ Notlung can eq|ual the pnrit 
the atmosphere from December to February, 
sky is then constantly without clouds, and sb 
one appear, it is a phenomenon that occupies i^ 
attention of the inhabitants. The breeze from 
east and north-east blows with violence. A 
always carries with it air of the same temperat 
the vapours cannot become visible through refrig 
tion. Toward^ the end of February and the be 
ninff of March the blue of the sky is less intei 
thehygrometer gradually indicates greater hm 
ity ; the stars are sometimes veiled by a thin stra 
of vapours; their light ceases to be tranquil 
planetary; and they are seen to sparkle from t 
to time at the height of 20° above the horizon, 
this period the breeze diminishes in strength, and 
comes less regular, being more frequently in 
rupted by dead calms. Clouds accunmlate tovn 
the soum-east, appearing like distant mount 
with distinct outlines. From time to time they 
seen to separate from the horizon, and traverse 
celestial vault with a' rapidity which has no < 
respondence with the feebleness of the wind 
prevails in the lower strata of the air. At the 
*<' March the southern region of the atmosphei 


illuminated by small electric explosions, like phos- 
phorescent gleams confined to a single group of va- 
pours. From this period the breeze shifts at inter- 
vals, and for several hours, to the west and south- 
-west, affording a sure indication of the approach of 
the rainy season, which, on the Orinoco, commences 
about the end of April. The sky begins to be over- 
cast, its azure colour disappears, and a gray tint is 
uniformly difiused over it. At the same time the 
heat of the atmosphere gradually increases, and in- 
stead of scattered clouds the whole vault of the 
heavens is overspread with condensed vapours. The 
howling-monkeys begin to utter their plaintive cries 
long before sunrise. The atmospheric electricity, 
which, during the period of the greatest drought, 
from December to March, had been almost con- 
stantly in the da3rtime from 1*7 to 2 lines to Volta^s 
electrometer, becomes extremely variable after 
March. During whole days it appears null, and 
again, for some hours, the pith-balls of the elec- 
trometer diverge from three to four lines. The at- 
mosphere, which in the torrid as in the temperate 
zone is generally in a state of positive electricity, 
passes idtemately, in the course of eight or ten 
minutes, to the negative state. The rainy season is 
that of thunder-storms ; and yet I have found, from 
numerous experiments made during three years, that 
^t this season the electric tension is less in the 
lower regions of the atmosphere. Are thunder- 
storms the effect of this unequal change of the dif- 
ferent superimposed strata of the air ? What pre- 
vents the electricity from descending towards the 
earth in a stratum of air which has become more 
humid since the month of March 1 At this period 
the electricity, in place of being diffused through the 
whole atmosphere, would seem to be accumulated 
on the outer envelope at the surface of the clouds. 
According to M. Gay Lussac, it is the formation of 
the cloud itself that carries the fluid towards the sur- 


face. The storm rises in the plains two' hours after 
the sun passes through the meridian, and therefore 
shortly after the period of the ma;zimiun of the di- 
urnal heat in the tropics. In the inland districts it 
is exceedingly rare to hear thunder at night or in the 
morning, nocturnal thunder-storms being peculiar to 
certain valleys of rivers which have a particular 

It maybe interesting to present ayery brief state- 
ment of Humboldt^s explanation of these phenome- 
na : — The season of rains and thunder in the northern 
equinoctial zone coincides with the passage of the 
sun through the zenith of the place, the cessation 
of the breezes or north-east winds, and the frequency 
of calms, and furious currents of the atmosphere 
from the south-east and south-west, accompanied 
with a cloudy sky. While the breeze from the north- 
east blows^ it prevents the atmosphere from beinff 
saturated with moisture. The hot and loaded air of 
the torrid zone rises and flows off again towards the 
poles, while inferior currents from these last, bring- 
ing drier and colder strata, take the place of the 
ascending columns. In this manner the humidity, - 
being prevented from accumulating, passes off to- 
wards the temperate and colder regions, so that the 
sky is always clear. When the sun, entering the 
northern signs, rises towards the zenith, the breeze 
from the north-east softens, and at length ceases; 
this being the season at which the difference of tem- 
perature between the tropics and the contiguous 
zone is least. The column of air resting on the 
equinoctial zone becomes replete with vapours, be- 
cause it is no lonefer renewed by the current from 
the pole ; clouds form in this atmosphere, saturated 
and cooled by the effects of radiation and the dilata- 
tion of the ascending air, which increases its capacity 
for heat in proportion as it is rarefied. Electricity 
accumulates in the higher regions in consequence 
of the formation of the vesicular vapours, the pre* 


cipitatioa of which is constant during the day, but 
generally ceases at night. The showers are more 
violent, and accompanied with electrical explosions, 
shortly after the maximum of the diurnal heat. 
These phenomena continue until the sun enters the 
southern signs, when the polar current is re-estab- 
lished, because the difference between the heat of 
the equinoctial and temperate regions is daily increas- 
ing. The air of the tropics being thus renewed, the 
rajns cease, the vapours are dissolved, and the sky 
resumes its azure tint. 

At San Fernando, Humboldt observed in the river 
long files of cetaceous animals, resembling the com- 
mon porpoise. The crocodiles seemed to dislike 
them, and dived whenever they approached. They 
were three or four feet long, and appear to be pecu- 
liar to the great streams of South America, as he 
saw some of them above the* cataracts of the Ori- 
noco, whither they could not have ascended from 
the sea. 

The rainy season had now commenced, and as the 
way to that river by land lies across an unhealthy 
and uninteresting flat, they preferred the longer way 
by the Rio Apure, and embarked in a large canoe or 
lancha, having a pilot and four Indians for crew. A 
cabin was constructed in the stem, of sufficient size 
to hold a table and benches, and covered with cory- 
pha-leaves. They put on board a stock of provi- 
sions for a month, while the capuchin missionary, 
with whom ihey had lodged during their stay, sup- 
plied them with wine, oranges, and tamarinds. 
Fishing-instruments, firearms, and some casks of 
brandy, for bartering with the natives, were added 
to their store. On the 30th March, at four in the 
afternoon, they left San Fernando, accompanied by 
Don Nicolas Sopo, brother-in-law of the governor 
of the province. The river abounds in fish, ma- 
natees, and turtles, and its banks are peopled by 
Qumberless birds, of which the pauxi and guacharaca 

180 ' woD^msAU. 

are the most nsefal to man. Pasniiff the .me 
the.Apurito, they coasted the uiaMvof the 
name, formed by the Apure aDd.Qapiieo, and 
ia aevenfy^'^ix miles in length. Ottilie banlo 
aaw hnt«r of the Yaruroes, who live by huntij 
fishing, and are very akilM in nUiug Jagna 
skins of which they dispose of in the Spani 
lages. The night was passed at Diamante^ a 

On the 3l8t a contrary wind obligfid them 
main on i^ore till noon, when they embarke 
MTthey proceeded found the river gradually i 
int; one of its banks being generally aimd 
barren, the other higher and covered with tall 
Sometimes, however, it was bordered on botb 
by forests, and resembled a straight canal ^ 
bk breadth. Bushes of sanso ' (iTermeM etutt 
Ka) formed along the margins a kind tf hedge 
lour feet high, in whicli the jaguars, tapun 
pecaris had made openings for the purpose of 
mg ; and as these animals manifest litUe fear 
approach of a boat, the travellers had the pk 
of viewing them as they walked slowly aloi 
shore, until they disappeared in the forest 
the sauso-hedge was at a distance from the d 
erocodiles were often seen in parties of eight < 
stretched out on the ^and motionless, and witl 
Jaws opened at right angles. These monstrov 
tiles were so numerous, that throughout the * 
course of the river there were usu'idly five or 
view, although the waters had scarcely beg 
riae, and hundreds were still buried in the mud < 
savannas. A dead individual which they foun 
17 feet 9 inches lon^, and another, a male, was 
than 93. This species is not a cayman or alli 
but a real crocodile, with feet dentated on the 
edge like that of the Nile. The Indians infn 
diNn, that scarcely a year passes at San Fer 
nMMNit two or three persons being diown^ l^ 


aud related the history of a young girl of Urituco, 
who, by aingiilar presence of mind, made her escape 
from one. * Findiiig herself seized and carried into 
the water, she felt for the eyes of the animal, and 
thrust her fingers into them ; when the crocodile let 
her loose, after biting ofif the lower part of her left 
arm. Notwithstanding the quantity of blood which 
she lost, she was stiU able to reach the shore by 
swimming with the right hand. Mungo . Park's 
jTuide, Isaaco, effected his preservation from a croco- 
iile by employing the same means. The motions 
>f these animals are abrupt and rapid when they 
ittack an object, although they move very slowly 
when not excited. In running they make a rustling 
loise, which seems to proceed from their scales, and 
ippear higher on their legs than when at rest, at the 
same time bending the back. They generally ad- 
vance in a straight line, but can easily turn when 
they please. They svrim with great facility, even 
against the most rapid current. On the Apure they 
seemed to live chiefly on the chiguircs {Cavia capy- 
6iira), which feed in herds on the banks, and are of 
the size of our pigs. These creatures have no 
weapons for defence, and are alternately the prey 
of the jaguars on land and of the crocodiles in the 

Stopping below the mouth of the Cano de la Fi- 
guera, m a sinuosity called La Vuelta del Joval, they 
measured the velocity of the current at its surface, 
which was only 3*4 feet in a second. Here they 
were surrounded by chiguires, swimming like dogs, 
with the head and neck out of the water. A large 
crocodile, which was sleeping on the shore in the 
midst of a troop of these animals, awoke at the 
approach of the canoe, and moved slowly into the 
stream without frightening the others. Near the Jo- 
val every thing assumed a wild and awful aspect. 
Sere they saw an enormous jaguar stretched btMieath 
o shade of a largo zamaug or mimosa. It tiad 




just killed a chigujre, which it held with one of II 
paws, while the zamuro-vuhures were aHBemUedN 
iocks around it. It was curious to obserre tiM 
nixtumof boldness and timidity which these M 
exhibited, for altboug-h they advanced within M 
feet of the tiger, they instantly shrank back al tiN 
least motion which he made. In order to exaiM> 
more nearly their manitere, the travellers went JOMj 
Uie little boat; when the tyrant of the foresl «n 
drew behind the Bauso-bushes, leaving his ricttu 
which the mlturos in the mean time atteraptednc 
, devour, bat were soon put to flight by hie nuhiaH 
into the midst of thera.* I 

Continuing to descend the river, they met wilfcri 
'great herd of chiguires that the tiger had dis * 
and from which he had selected his prey. 
animals seemed not to be afraid of men, for they a 
the travellers land without agitation, but thesigjill 
a dog put them to flight. They ran so slowlyfl 
the people succeeded in catching two of them, f 
the largest of the Gliret, or gnawing animals. . 
flesh has a disagreeable smell of muak, altb" 

f imiH iM llPT, ta HM tttjta. Hid dlMMa rafltn f a^ltgtimm 
Av*l|kf»*-H>uiiaoi am ta uka "ili iiTiil !■ ■iiTiw mmtSM 
H*inanD«gndqaB,udibaaiiid(«diiilUi ateiflda: «fiSQE5 
■Bfif M a»Wl* an M« weMai iniHIm, ftm kenatafatrtaMik 
tar>«>ukabs4r.MtuibM<>nr tt> aplua obii mS^vTiM 
■DBDiknd HI llH imBC tonHiar, Ida man IhIm eonBlaMT M M 
AUKbn. 'IdmMSl'idlhalnnMlow.'IwaaiHliuTanM 
wbDallHldnirui&Bpla ?•*■«• iii;throal.u>liie)i Dm u 
Ika aet of nUial ; bnl nin I npidal In lial Ui Puiti 
(nan tia or bti wfm vUeb bluat upoi Dii, lliiiduiil ni. ■„ „ up. 
Ik Ml m ma an' ailnnd at Ibe my inaMnI I thinialii nyscir la 

• I 

-r ■ 

jMniAB-BiqrrBi. 195 

tan* ii»Mideof it in the oomxtry, wluch-are eaten 
^Snrifff Lent; as thts qoadniped, according tp eccle- 
m i mMoii aoology, is este^ned a fish. 

Tto tmviellera passed the nijB^ as osual in the open 
OV •ItlMMii^ in a plantation, the proprietor of which, 
mJupBar-lumter, hall^naked, and as brown as a Zambo, 
IWwd Umself on being of the European race, and 
cilied Us wijfo and daughter, who were as 8lign% 
cVittad to himself, Dcmna Isi^Ua and Donna Man- 
vela. Humboldt had broo^t a chiguire ; but his 
boat aararsd him soch food' was not fit for white 
Senflenen like them, at tiie same time offering him 
venison. As this aspiring personage had neitlier 
-iMmse^iior hut, he inntedthe strangers to sling their 
hamniocks near his own, between two trees; which 

. ttwsNKeoidinfl^did. They soon found reascm, how- 
ever, to lecret Qiiit they had not obtained better shel- 
ter; for after midnight a thunder-storm came on, 

^ wliidh- wetted them to the' skin. Donna Isabella's 
cat lad perched on one of the trees, and fell into a 
eol, flie mmate of which imagined he was attacked 

^ hy aoBM wild beast, and could hardly be quieted. 
' Mt aanrise, the lodgers took leave of Don Ignacio 
and Us lady, nd proceeded on their vojrage. The 

. weatiier was a litue cooler, the theimometer having 
ftHfloa ftom 88^ to 75^, but the temperature of the 
fiv«r eoothned at 79<* or 80^. One sodgfat imagine 
tUil OB smooth ground, where no eminence can be 

. iliiiiB|Hwhfw1, the stream would have hc^owed out 
an eivm bed for itself; but this is by no means the 
ease; the iwo bhnks not opposing equal resistance 
to the water. Dekiw the Joval the mass of the cur- 
reat.is a little wider, and forms a perfectly straight 
diaimwl, margmed on either side by lofty trees. It 
was Ime abmit 990 yards broad. They passed a 

' lew ialand densely covered by flaminjioes, roseate 
ipoonbills, herons, and water-Mns, which presented 
a most diversified mixtfve of colonrs. On the right 
they found a little Indian mission, consisting of 


1166 Noonmiut Howurew. 

sixteen huts- constructed of paLn-leaf^s, andk 
ited by a tribe of the Guamoes.* These Caurisi 
were unable to furnish them with the profif 
which they wanted, but hospitably oftsred them i 
fish and water. The night was spent on a bare 
extensive beach. Hie forest being impen 
y had great difficulty in ohtaming di^ f 
fires for the purpose of keepii^ off me 
But the night was calm, with bcMoi 
moonlight. Finding no tree on the hanks, tiiey si 
their oars in the sand, and suspended their haowM 
upon them. About eleven there arose in the n 
so terrific a noise that it was impossible to si 
The Indians distinguished the cries of sapejons, i 
ates, jaguars, cougars, pecaris, sloths, caiasM 
imnakas, and other gallinaceous birds. When 
tigers approached the edge of the forest, a dog wj 
the travellers had began to howl and seek vk 
under their cots. Sometimes, after a long sfle 
the cry of the ferocious animal came from the i 
of the trees, when it was followed by the si 
and long whistling of the monkeys. Humboldt < 
poses the noise thus made by the inhabitantt 
the thicket, at certain hours of the night, to 
the efiect of some contest that has arisen am 

On the 2d April they set sail before sunrise, 
river was ploughed by porpoises, and the si 
crowded with aquatic birds ; while some of the la 
perched on the floating timber, were endeavou 
to surprise the fish that preferred the middle of 
stream. The navigation is rather dangerous, on 
count of the large trees which remain obliquely f 
in the mud, and the canoe touched several tii 
Near the island of C^rizales, they saw enom 
trunks covered with plotuses or darters, and be 
it observed a diminution of the waters of the ri 
owing to infiltration and evaporation. Near 
Vuelta de Basilio, where they land^ to ga) 


plants, they saw on a tree two beautiful jet-black 
inonkeyB of an unknown species, and also a nest 
of iguanas, which was pointed out by the Indians. 
The ilesh of this lizard is very white, and^ next to 
that of the armadillo, is the best food to ba found in 
the huts of tlie natives. Towards evening it rained, 
and swallows were seen skimming along the water. 
They also saw a flock of parrots pursued by hawks. 
The night was passed on the beach. 

On the 3d they proceeded down the river in their 
solitary course. The sailors caught the fish known 
in the country by the name of caribe ; which, although 
only four or five inches in length, attacks persons 
who go into the water, and with its sharp triangular 
teeth often tears considerable portions of flesh from 
their legs. • Wlien pieces of meat are cast into the 
river, clouds of these little fishes appear in a few 
minutes. There are three varietic^.s in the Orinoco ; 
one of which seems to be the Salmo rhambevs of 
Linnaeus. At noon they stopped in a desert spot 
called Aigodonal, when Humboldt left his companions 
and went along the beach to observe a group of 
crocodiles sleeping in the sun. Some little herons 
of a wliite colour were walking along their backs, 
and even on their heads. As he was proceeding, 
his eyes directed towards the river, he discovered 
recent footmiurks of a beast of prey, and turning 
towards the forest, found himself within eighty steps 
of an enormously large jaguar. Although extremely 
frightened, he yet retained sufiicient command of 
himself to follow the advice which tlie Indians had 
sOiOften given, and continued to walk without mov- 
ing his arms, making a large circuit towards the edge 
of the water. As the distance increastjd he accele- 
rated his pace, and at len^rth, jndging it safe to look 
about, did so, and saw the tiger in the same spot. 
Arriving at the beat out Oi" breath, he related his ad 
venture to the natives, who Keemed to think it nothing 
extraordinary. I n t h«» evening t hny p:issf 'd the moiit h 

188 ^ MANATElfl. 

of the Cano-del Manati, so named on account 
vast number qf manatees caught there. This i 
herbivorous animal generally attains the leu 
ten or twelve feet, aid abouims in the Orinoco 
the cataracts, the Rio Meta, and the Apure. 
jtesh, idthough very savouiy and resemUingp 
oomidered pnwholesome ; but it is in request 
Lent, being classed by the monks among 
llie fat is used for lamps in the churches, as ' 
for cooking ;. while the hide is cyt into slips to 
the place of cordage. Whips are also made < 
the Spanish colonies for the castigation of n 
and other slaves. The fires light^ by the be 
on the shore attracted the crocodiles and do 
Two persons kept watch during the night. A 
with ner cub approached the encampment, b 
driven away by the attendants ; and soon af 
dog was bitten in the nose by a large bat o 

On the 4th they intended to pass the n 
Vnelta del Palmito ; but as the Indians were 
to sling the hammocks they found two tigei 
cealed behind a tree, and it was judged safer 
embark and sleep on the island of Apurito. 
tudes of gnats made their appearance regul: 
simset, and covered their faces and hands. 
5th they were much struck by the diminnti 
waters of the Apure had undergone, whicl 
attributed chiefly to absorption by the sand am 
oration. It was only from 128 to 170 yards 
and about twenty feet deep. Humboldt est 
the mean fall of this river at 14 inches in i 
The canoe touched several times on shoals i 
approached the point of junction, and it becai 
cessary to tow it by means of a hne. 



Voyage up the Orinoco. 

of Uie Orinooo— Port of EDcaramada— Traditions of a universal 

IMayft— CtadMring of Turtles' Eggs— Two Species described— Mode 

log the KKn and of manufhcturing the Oil— Probable Nuin 

of tlMoe Antmafa on the Orinoco— Decorations of the Indians- 
it of Pararmna— Height of the Inoudations of the Ori- 

LBATOie the Rio Apure, the travellers entered the 
Orinoco, and presently found themselves in a coun- 
try of an entirely different aspect. ' As far as the 
eye could reach there lay before them a sheet of 
waler, tlie waves of which, from the conflict of the 
breeze and the current, rose to the height of several 
feet. The long files of herons, flamingoes, and 
spoonbills which were observed on the Apure had 
disappeared ; and all that supplied the place of those 
multitudes of animated beings by whom they had 
been lately accompanied was here and there a croco- 
dile swimming in the agitated stream. The hori- 
zon was bounded by a girdle of forests, separated 
from the river by a broad beach, the bare and 
parched surface of which refracted the solar rays 
mto the semblance of pools. 

The wind was favourable for sailing up the Ori- 
noco ; but the short broken waves at the junction of 
the two rivers were exceedingly disa^eeable. They 
passed the Punta Curiquima, a granitic promontory, 
between which and the mouth of the Apure tho 
breadth of tho stream was ascertained to be 40^)3 
yards, and in the rainy season it extends to 11,700. 
Tho temperature of the water was in tho middle, of 
the current H2D'^, and near the shores 84 C. They 

190 ' Ci 

first went up towuda the aoiith>w«st as fu ai 
shore of the Goaricoto Indiana on fhe left bank, and 
then towBidji the south. The momitains of Rnc; 
mada, forming a contimied chain from weal to e: 
seemed to rise firom the watw M distant land ri 
on the horizon at aea. The bSMli waa compoMJ 
of clay inteimized with scales ot mica, deposiled 
in very thin strata. At the pott of Encaramadi, 
where-tiiey stopped for some tnW) they met witb i 
Carib cacique going up the rirer in his canoe U 
gather turtles' eggs. He was anned with a bow and 
arrows, as wereliis atteodanta, and, like them, be 
was naked and ptunted red. Theoe Indians wen 
tall and athletic, and, with thdr hair cut stnti^t 
across the forehead, their ^brows painted bluJi. 
and their gloofny bat animated comitenmicefi had a 
singular qipearsnce. The travellers were 3iirpriB«i 
to find Qai the anterior portion of the craninn is 
not so depressed as those of the Caribs are iwully 
represented to be. The women carried their infuts 
on their backs. The shore is here formed t^ a lOck 
forty or fitly feet high, composed of blocks of gnu- 
ite piled upon each other ; the surface of whJdi w" 
of a dark-gTHycblour. although the interior waa n 
dish-wbite. The ni^t was passed in it creek off 
sitethe mouth of the Rio Cabullare. The evening ma 
beaatiftil, with moonlight; but towimlH twelve th' 
north-east wind blew so violently thiit Ihey becsn 
awehensive for the aafety of their canoe. 

On the 6th, continuing to ascend, they saw t. 
southern side of the mountains of Encaramadi, 
which stretch along the right bank of the river, i 
are inhabited by li^ans of a gentle character, i 
addicted to agriculture. There is a tradition ha_ . 
and elsewhere on the Orinoco, among the natives, 
" That at the time of the Great Waters, when Ihair 
fathers were obliged to betake themselves to their 
canoM in order to escape the general inund^iom 
tiie waves of the sea beat upon the rocks of Encan- 


nada." When the Tamai^acs are asked how the 
luman race survived this great deluge they say, 
' That a man and a woman saved themselves upon a 
ligh mountain called Tamanacu, situated on the 
lank of the Aseveru, and that, throwing behind 
hem, over their heads, the fruits of the Mauritia 
«lm, they saw arising from the nuts of these fruits 
he men and women who repeopled the earth." 
rhus, among the natives of America, a fable similar 
o that of F^rrha and Deucalion commemorates the 
prand catastrophe of a general inundation. Hum- 
mldt, in reference to the same event, mentions that 
linoglyphic figures are often found along the Ori- 
leoo sculptured on rocks now inaccessible but by 
icaflbkling, and that the natives, when asked how 
hese figures could have been made, answer with a 
imile, as relating a fact of which a stranger alone 
;ould be ignorant, " That at the period of the Great 
Waters their fathers went to that heiffht in boats." 
^' These ancient traditions of the human race," 
uijrs Humboldt, '' which we find dispersed over the 
surface of the globe, like the fragments of a vast 
shipwreck, are of the greatest interest in the philo- 
sophical study of our species. Like certain families 
if plants, which, notwithstanding the diversity of 
climates and the influence of heights, retain the im- 
press of a common type, the traditions respecting 
the primitive state of the globe present among aU 
nations a resemblance that fills us with astonish- 
ment; so many different languages belonging to 
t>ranches which appear to have no connexion with 
»ach other, transmit the same facts to us. The sub- 
itance of the traditions respecting the destroyed 
races and the renovation of nature is everywhere 
almost the same, although each nation gives it a 
locad colouring. In the great continents, as in the 
smallest islands of the Pacific Ocean, it is always on 
the highest and nearest mountain that the remains 
of the human race were saved ; and this event ap- 

192 Beo-nAsvMr. 

pears so much the more recent the noie 
vatedthe nations-are, and the shorter tite Mt|i 
since they hare hegnn to acquire a kaowkliftftf . 
themselves. When we attentively, examlqfrttl* 
Mexican monuments tmterior to the discoveif tfi 
America,— penetrate into the forests of flM OriHMf 
and become awa^ of the smalhiess ipf tlie Wmi. 
pean establishments, their solitude, and ttie stifee^ 
the tribes which retain their independence ^ w e n i f 
not allow ourselves to attribute • the a^reemMft rf 
these accounts to the influence of mismonaiiet ^^ 
to that of Christianity upon national tradrtioos. 
is it more probable that the sight of marine 
found on the summits of mountains presented 
tribes of the Orinoco the idea of those gieit 
dations which for some time eztmffuisliea fli#i 
of organic life upon the fflobe.—- liie coitntiy 
extends from the right bank of the Orinooo 
Casiquiare and the Rio Negro consists of _ 
rocks. I saw there a smafi deposite of randslOM 
or conglomerate, but no secondary limestcme, ui 
no trace of petrifactions." 

At eleven in the morning the travellers landed oa 
an island celebrated for the turtle fishery, or tin 
'^harvest of eggs," which takes place aiumilly. | 
Here they found encamped more than 300 Indiaui 
of different races, each tribe, distinguished by ils- 
peculiar mode of painting, keeping separate from tts 
rest, together with a few white men who had ooiM ' 
to purchase egg-oil from them. The missionaiy sf , 
Uruana, whose presence was necessary to prooi|i% J 
a supply for the lamp of the chiirch and keep iW^I 
natives in order, received the strangers with titf .' 
ness, and made tiie tour of the isl^id with thsii; 
showing them, by means of a pole which he thnal 
into the sand, the extent of the stratum of eggs, tM 
had been deposited wherever there were no eai^ ' 
nences. The Indians asserted, that in coning up tte 
Orinoco, fronito moutli to the juiietionof the^A^nrei 


ere is no placo where cgsrs can be collected in 
•undanee ; and the only tlireo spots where the 
rtles assemble annually in ^reat numbers are situ- 
ed between the mouth of the A pure and the ^rt-at 
tararts. These animals do not seem to pass l)e- 
iid the falls, the sp<^cics found above At^ures and 
•lypiiresbeuii^ difTrreut. 

The arrau or tortu^a, which deposit es the i^f^i^s 
at are so nmch valued on the Lower Orinoco, is 
large fresh-water tortoise, with webbed feet, a 
ry flat head, a deep jrroove betwe<'n the eyes, and 
, upper slu^ll composi'dof five central, eip^ht lateral, 
f\ twenty- four marginal scutella or plates. The 
lour is dark-gr;iy above and orange beneath. 
'hen of full size it weighs from forty to fifty pounds. 
le eggs -are nmcli larger than those of a pigeon, 
d are covered with a calcareous crust. 
Tlic lerekay, thtj sp«^(ries which occurs Jibovo the 
taraets, is nuicli smaller. It has the same mim- 
r of <lorsal plates, but tlie colour is olive green, 
ith two spots of reil mixed with yellow on the top of 
e head, and a |)riekly a[)pen(las:e under the chin, 
le I'gfiTs have an aii:re(^abl(i taste, and are mu(;h 
ught after, but are n(»t deposited in masses lik<{ 
«jse of the tortuga. Tiiis variety is found Iwdow 
e cataracts as well as in the Apure, the llrituco, 
p (luarico, and the small rivers of the llanos of 

The period at which the arrau deposites its c*ggs 
when the river is low«'st. About the begiiuiing 
Febru:u*y these creatures issue from the watrT 
d warm themsidves on the beach, renuiinmg tjierc 
great part of the day. Karly in Uw mtmth of 
ireh tln'V asscmbl<» on the islands where they 
i*ed, when thousands are to be seen ranirctl in files 
»ng the shores. The Indians place sentinels at 
rtain distances to prevent them from being dis- 
-l»ed, and th<* people who [mss in boats are tohl to 
ep in the middle of the river. The iayiiic of tho 


194 Hi^TBST or T 

eggs begins soon after sonAtt» and is eoaijm 
througfamit the niglit The animal dig* a hole fta 
feet in diameter :and two in breadth with its hi 
feet, which are v«(|jiluiM and fhmished with crool 
clhws. So pre4iwlpQ(0 desire which it feds 
get rid of its boriBB^^jttat great confosion pnfa 
and an immense mnnber c/^eggs is bn^en. Sii 
of the tortoises are'snijfiisea by day before tt 
have finished the operation, and becoming inav 
ble to danger, continue to work with the graft 
diligence even in the presence of the fishers. 
• "nie Indians assemble about the beginniqg 
April, and commence operations under the dirsett 
of the missionaries, who divide the egg-^^roimd ii 
portions. The leading person among tfaiem i 
examines by means of a long pole or cane hovJ 
the bed extends, and then Slots the shaios. T 
natives remove the earth with their hands, ptk 
up the eggs, and carry them in basketJB to the cm 
where they throw them into long wooden trong 
filled with water. They are next brok en and stini 
and remain exposed to the sun until the yolk, whi 
swims at the surface, has time to inspissate, wb 
it is taken off and boiled. The oil thus obtained 
limpid and destitute of smell, and is used for Ian 
well as for cooking. The shores of the missio 

of Uruana furnish 1000 botijas or jai^ annually, i 
the three stations jointly may be suppmed to funi 
6000. It requires 5000 eggs to fill a jar ; and if* 
estimate at 100 or 116 the number which one t 
toise produces, and allow one-third to be brokea 
the time of lajong, we may presume that 330,000 
these animals dneiQWe every year, and lay 33,000y( 
of eggs. This carnation, however, is much btk 
the truth. Many 4jvm lay only 60 or 70 ; great ta 
bers of them >0p3^B^ devoured by jaguars ; the! 
dians take awq^rnEnsiderable quantity to eat tb 
dried in the MLf|P^ break nearly as many wl 
tfaev ; f|lH)» besides, the proportion thai 


hatched is such that Humboldt saw the whole shore 
near the encampment of Uruana swarming with 
young ones. Moreover, all the arraus do not as- 
semble on the three shores of the encampments, but 
many lay elsewliere. The number which annually 
deposite their egffs on the shores of the Lower Ori- 
noco may, therefore, be estimated at little short of 
a million. The travellers were shown the shells 
of large turtles which had been emptied by th*^ 
jaguars. These animals surprise them on the sand, 
and turn them on their back in order to devour them 
at their ease ; they diff up the eggs also : and, to- 
gether with the gallinazo vulture and the herons, 
destroy thousands of their brood. 

After procuring some fresh provision, and taking 
leave of the missionary, tlu^y sot sail in the after- 
noon. The wind blew in squalls, and after they had 
entered the mountjiinous part of the country,' they 
found the canoe not very safe when under sail ; but 
the master avjls desirous of showing off to the In- 
dians, and in going close upon the wind almost upset 
his vessel, which filled with water, and nearly foun- 
dered. In the evening they landed on a barren 
island, where they supped under a beautiful moon- 
light, with turtlc-slkflls for scats, and indulged their 
iriiagination with the picture of a shipwrecked man, 
wandering on the desert shores of the Orinoco amid 
rivers full of crocodiles and caribe fishes. The night 
was intensely hot, and not findin? tnM\s on which to 
sling their hammocks, X\wy slept on skins spreatl on 
the ground. To their surprise the jaguars swam to 
the islan<l, althouarh they had kindled fires to pre- 
vent them; but these animals did not venture to 
attack them. 

On the 7th they passed the mouth of the Rio 
Arauca, whifh is frequented by immense numbers 
of birds. They also saw the mission of Uruana. at 
the foot of a mountain composed of detached blocks 
of granite, in the caverns formiH by which hiero- 

IM MovmkmQjn mtpmuT 



l^ljrphic . '4Eigiires are sculptmiBiL MouBivini^ 
tareadth of the Orinoco here, ib»Y^fomid it, at t 
tance of 670 miles from the mouth, to be 5700 yi 
or nearly three itMe^, The temperature m. 
water 9t its surface Utts 82^. . As the qtrengH 
the current increiiked, the progress of the bMt 
came much slower, while ^ one tirae the woodi 
privedthem of the wind,' i|nd at wother a Tic 
gust descended from the mountaon-passes. ' Oppc 
me lake: f>f Oapanaparo, which conununicates ' 
the river, the number of crocodiles was increi 
Tlie Indians asserted that they came in troop 
tl|e water from the savannfas, where they lie mi 
in the solid mud until the first blowers awi 
.them. Humboldt remarks, that the dry seaio 
the torrid zone corresponds to the winter of 
temperate regions of the globe ; and that whik 
alligators of North America become torpid tfan 
excess of cold, the crocodiles of the llanos 
reduced to the same state through deficienc] 

They now entered the passage of the Barag 
where the Orinoco is hemmed in by precipice 
granite, forming part of a range of mount 
through which it has found or forced a chai 
like all the other granitic hills which they obse 
on this river, they were formed of enormous cul 
jnaMes piled upon each other. Landing in the i 
die of the strait, they found the breadth (rf the str 
to be 1896 yards. They looked in vain for plan 
the fissures of the rocks ; but the stones were 
ered with multitudes of lizards. There was n 
breath of wind, and the heat was so intense that 
thermometer placed against the rock rose to 12S 
" How vivid," says Humboldt, " is the impres 
which the noontide quiet of nature produces in t] 
burning cUmates ! The beasts of Uie forest r^ 
to the thickets, and the birds conceal themse 
"Wong the foliage or in the crevices of rocks. 


this apparent silence, should one listen atten- 
r, he hears a stifled sound, a continued murmur, 
1 of insects, that fill the lower strata of the air. 
Ing is more adapted to excite in man a senti- 
of the extent and power of organic life. My- 

of insects crawl on the ground, and flutter 
. the plants scorched by the heat of the sun. 
ifused noise issues from every bush, from the 
'ed trunks of the trees, the fissures of the rocks, 
cm the ground, which is undermined by lizards, 
•edes, and blindworms. It is a voice proclaim- 
» us that all nature breathes, that under a thou- 
different forms life is diffused in the cracked 
usty soil, as in the bosom of the waters, and in 
r that circulates around us. The water of the 
was very disagreeable here, as it had a musky 

and a sweetish taste. In some parts it was 
T good ; but in others it seemed loaded with 
nous matter, which the natives attribute to pu- 
l crocodiles." 

er sleeping at the foot of an eminence they 
med their voyage, and passed the mouths of 
il rivers ; and on the 9th arrived, early in the 
ng, at the beach of Pararuma, where they 

an encampment of Indians, who had assem- 
3 search the sands for turtles' eggs. The pilot, 
ad brought them from San Fernando de Apure, 
. not imdertake to accompany them fajlher ; 
ley procured a boat from one of the mission- 
who had come to the egg-harvest, 
s assemblage or encampment afforded to the 
lers an interesting subject of study. " How 
It," says Humboldt, " to recognise in this in- 
of society, this collection of dull, taciturn, and 
assioned Indians, the original character of our 
s ! Human nature is not seen here arrayed 
t gentle simplicity of which poets in every 
ige have drawn such enchanting pictures, 
avage of the Orinoco appeared to us as hideous 

106 BNOAHFHlSirr ov mvuiH. - 

a» the savagfe of the Bfississippi des^xibed b 
philosophical traveller who best knew how to 
man in the various regions of the ^obe. One i 
fain persuade himself that these natives of thi 
erouched near the fire, or seated on large she 
tortles; their bodies -covered with earth and gi 
and the^ eVes stupidly fixed for whole honnl d 
drink which they are preparing, far from beiii 
original type of our species, are a degenerated 
the feeble remains of nations which, alter beini 
scattered in the forests, have been aglun imm 
in barbarism/' 

Red paint is the ordinary decoration of 
tribes. The most common kind is obtained 
the seeds of the Bum orettana, and is called ai 
aehote, or roucou. Another much more e: 
species is extracted from the leaves of 
ekiea. Both these are red ; but a black ii _ 
obtained from the Oenipa Ameriearui, and is ( 
caruto. These pigments are mixed with turt 
or grease, and are variously applied according 1 
tional or individual taste. The Caribs and CHo 
colour only the head and hair, while the Si 
smear the whole body ; but there prevails in gc 
as great a diversity in the mode of staining 
found in Europe in respect to dress ; and at 
Tuma the travellers saw some Indians painted ^ 
bln# Jacket and black buttons. Women advani 
jrears are fonder of being thus ornamented tha 
younger ladies; and so expensive is this mo 
decoration, that an industrious man can hardly 
enough by thQ labour of a fortnight to adorn hu 
with chica, of which the missionaries make an a 
of trafilc. After all, the paintings that cost so 
are liable to be effaced by a heavy shower ; altl 
the caruto long resists the action of water, t 
travellers found by disagreeable experience 
having one day in sport marked their faces 
pote and strokes ot % '\l ^^ tvo\ ^xvUtely ren 



till after a long period. It ]ias been supposed that 
tills usage prevents the Indians from being stmig by 
insects ; but this was found to bo incorrect. Tht^. 
preference given by the American tribes to tlie red 
colour, Humboldt supposes to be owing to the tend- 
ency which nations f(iel to attribute the idea of 
'beauty to whatever characterizes their national 

The encampment of Pararuma also afforded the 
travellers an opportimity of (examining several ani- 
mals they had not before setm alive, and which th(i 
Indians brought to exchange with tlie missionaries 
for fish-hooks and other noc^essaries. Among these 
specimens were gallitoes, or rock-manakins, mon- 
keys of different species, of which the titi or Simla 
sciurea seems to have been a specicU favourite with 
Humboldt. He mentions a vciry interesting fa(;l 
illustrative of the sagacity of this creature. One 
which he had purchased of the natives distinguisluMl 
the different plates of a work on natural history so 
well, tliat when an engraving which contained zoo- 
logical representations was placed before it, it rapidly 
advanced its little hand to catch a grasshopper or a 
wasp; which was the more remarkable as the 
figures were not coloured. Humboldt observes, thai 
he never heard of any the most perfect pictun^ o( 
hares or deer producing the least effect upon a 
hound, and doubts if there be a well-ascertained ex- 
ample of a dog having recognised a full-length por- 
trait of its master. 

The canoe which they had procured was forty- 
two feet long and three broad. The missionary of 
Atures and Maypures had offered to accompany 
them as far as the frontiers of Bnizil, and made pre- 
parations for the voyage. Two Indians who were 
to form part of the crew were chained during the 
ni^ht to prevent their escape ; and on the nioniiug 
of thcrlOth the company set out. Th<: vessel was 
found to be extremely incommodious^. Tc\ vl.vww 


something in breadth a kind of fraiM had beei 
tended over the gunwale in the hinder pert of it; 
the roof of leaves which covered it was so low 
the travellers were obliged to lie doHhn, or sit in 
double, while in rainy weather the feet were I 
to be Svetted. The natives, seated two and 
were ftimished with paddles three- feet long, 
rowed with surprising uniformity to the cactonc 
a monotonous and melancholy song. Small a 
containing birds and monkeys, were suqiandi 
the shed, and the dried plants and instruments i 
placed beneath it. To their numerous inoo 
niences was added the continuHl torment of the i 
qmitoes, which they were unable by any mean 
alleviate. Every night, when they established t 
watch, the collection of animals and instnuB 
occupied the centre, around which were placed 
their own hammocks, and then those of the Ind 
while fires were lighted to intimidate the jagi 
At sunrise the monkeys in the cages answerec 
cries of those in the foresta, affording an affei 
display of sympathy between the captive and 

Above the deserted mission of Pararuma the i 
is full of islands, and divides into several branc 
Its total breadth is about 6395 yards. The cov 
becomes more wooded. A granitic prism, t€ 
nated by a fiat surface covered with sl tuft of t 
rises to the height of 313 feet in the midst of 
forest. Farther on the river narrows ; .and upoi 
east is an eminence, on which the Jesuits fom 
maintained a garrison for protecting the mist 
a^inst the inroads of the Caribs, ana for exter 
what, in the Spanish colonies, was called the 
Quest of souls, which of course w.as effected thr 
ttie conquest of bodies. The soldiers made ii 
sions into the territories of the independent Ind 
killed all who offered resistance, burned their 
destroyed the plantations, and made prisoners a 


, women, and children, who were aflenvanl 
among their estabhshments. Tlie river again 
:ed, and rapids becran to make their appear- 
e shores beoominer sinnous and precipitous, 
between two promontories of granite, they 
t what is called the Port of Carichana, and 
ed to the mission of that name, situafed at 
mce of two miles and a half from the bank, 
hey were hospitably receiv(»d at the priest's 
The Christian converts at this station were 
a social and mild people, having a great taste 

g these Indians they found a white woman, 
er of a Jesuit of New-Grenada, and expe- 
great pleasure in conversing with her with- 
aid of a third person. In every mission, 
imboldt, there are at least two interpreters, 
purpose of comraimicating between the 
and the catechumens, the former seldom 
r the language of the latter. They are na- 
jmewhat less stupid than the rest, but ill 
for their office. They always attended the 
■s in their excursions ; but little more could 
from them than a mere affirmation ornega- 
lonit'times, in attempting to hold intercourse 
Indians, he preferred the language of signs, — 
d which he recommends to travellers, as the 
of languair<*s spoken on the Meta, Orinoco, 
ire, and Kio Necrro is so greatj that no one 
rr make himself understood in them all. 
ceiicry around the mission of Carichana ap- 
:leliijhtful. The village was situated on a 
)lain, Innuided by mountains. Banks of rock, 
>re tlian 850 feet in circumference, scarcely 
I a ff'w inches above the savannas, and 
estitut*' of vt'tr^'tation, give a peculiar char- 
tin* cnnntry. On these stony flats they 
ol»«<rrv<'d the rising vegetation in the differ- 
i>s of its development : lichens cleaving to the 

tJbS. XAMDi or nrmrDATtoim. 

rock and collected into crusts; afewtfoccoleD 
growing among little portions of qoactK-sai 
tofts of eVer^een shhibs epinging np m tii 
mould deposited in the hollows. At the d 
of eight or ten miles from the religions hou 

• fonnd a rich and diversified assemblage- of 
among which M. Bonpland obtained nnmero 
species. ' Here grew the Dipterix adorata^ wh 
nishes excellent timber, and of which the 

.• known in Europe by the name o'f tonkay o] 

In a narrow part of the river the marks 
great inundafions were 46 feet above the « 
mit at various pl^es black bands and erosi< 
seen, 106, or even 138 feet above the present 
increase of the waters. " Is this river, tiiei 
Humboldt, '* the Orinoco, which appears to ui 
posing and majestic, merely the feeUe r> 
of those immense currents of fresh water 
swelled by alpine snows, or by more abundan 
everywhere shaded by dense forests, and d< 
of those beaches which favour evaporation, fo 
traversed the regions to the east of the And 
aitilfl of inland seas ? What must then hav 
the state of those low countries of Guiana, 
now experience the effects of annual inund: 
What a prodigious number of crocodiles, 
tines, and boas must have inhabited thet 
regions, alternately converted into pools of si 
water and arid plains ! The more peaceful \i 
which we live has succeeded to a tumultuous 
Bones of mastodons and real American ek 
are found dispersed over the platforms of the 
The megatherium inhabited, the plains of Ur 
By digging the earth more deeply in high \ 
which at the present day are unable to nourisl: 
or tree-ferns, we discover strata of coal com 
gigantic remains of monocotyledonous plants, 
therefore a remote period, when the tri 


des were differently distributed; when the 
I were larger, the rivers wider and deeper, 
itop the monuments of nature which we can 
We are ignorant if the human race, which 
time of the discovery of America scarcely 
ed a few feeble tribes to the east of the Cor- 
, had yet descended into the plains, or if the 
tradition of the Great Waters, which we 
long all the races of the Orinoco, Erevato, 
ira, belong to other climates, whence it had 
msferred to this part of the new continent." 
he 11th they left Carichana at two in the 
3n, and found the river more and more en- 
ed by blocks of granite. At the large rock 
by the name of Piedra del Tigre, the depth is 
t that no bottom can be found with a line of 
't. Towards evening they encountered a 
-storm, which for a time drove away the 
:oes that had tormented them during the day. 
*ataract of Cariven the current ivas so rapid 
ey had great difficulty in landing; bat at 
two Saliva Indians swum to the shore, and 
le canoe to the side with a rope. The thua- 
tinued a part of the night, and the river in- 
considerably. The granitic rock on which 
pt is one of those from which travellers on 
noco have heard subterranean sounds, re- 
g those of an organ, emitted about sunrise. 
Idt supposes that these must be produced by 
sage of rarefied air through the fissures, and 
o think that the impulse of the fluid against 
tic scales of mica which intercept the crev- 
y contribute to modify their expression.* 

examplefl of mysteriotui sounds prudaced under similar eir- 
« am on record. In the autumn of 1828, a recent traveller 
le Fyrrncca, when in a wild pans with the Maladetta momi- 
itr. Iirarii "a dulMow, mooning, jGolian sound, which alone 
I the dfaihly silence, evidently proceeding fhNn the body of 
y iniiAft ' 'rbo air was perfectly calm, and dear to an extrm- 
:gTKK , no waturfail could be seca even with the aid of aide* 


On the 13th they sot off at four in 
The Indians rowed twelve hours and 
intennission, during which time they 
nourishment than c;assava and planta 
of the river, to the leii^h of 1280 yai 
granite rocks, the chaniH^Ls betweei 
often very narrow, insomuch that t 
sometimes jammed in between two I: 
the current was too strong the sailors 
warped 'the boat along. The rocks ^ 
mensions,. rounded, very dark, glosvsy 
destitute of vegetation. No crocod 
in these rapids. The left bank of the 
Cabruto to the mouth of 'the Rio Sc 
tance of nearly two degrees of latiti 
uninhabited ; but to the westward c 
an enterprising individual, Don FeUx 
formed a village of Jaruro and Otomi 
nine in the morning they arrived at 
the Meta, whicli, next to the Guaviart 
river that joins the Orinoco. At tlu? 
streams the scenery is of a very ini{) 
ter. Solitary peaks rise on l h(^ <^'rist(^i 
ing in the distance like ruined cast 
sandy shores interv(^no between the 
forests. Thoy passed two hours on 
the middle of the Orinoco, upon wl 

8C0IIC, and no caiwc could be assijuu'il for the ]ihn 
Bttn'drays, " at that moment impn^mg in all ui<>ir 
and peak of the snowy heights," had pojuc ^iians 
moujitain-chordH." -A'. M. Ati^. x\.\. IMl. The j^r 
non is well known to have cmiilcil sounds whrn 
darted upon it ; and MM. Joniard, .lollois, and l)i>\ 
resembling that of the breaking of u Htrin^, which 
IVom a monument of ^ranitn situatnt lu ;\r the w 
which stands the palace of (aniac. SiiiLMilar soui 
from the inienor of a mouniaui near Tor, lu Aralii 
tkmiliar to the natives, who asrribc ilu.iii to a rotivci 
loiaily pretierved midcr ;;round, and wtn* luaid by 
Gray, the only Euro|H>aii tiavclh-rN vvhoh.ivc mshii 
account of theHO curiouu pheuonu ii<i, ihr i« aiu r u\t 
Brewster's Lcticra on I\aturul Magic iuxuiuig iN 

msnoir of ban borja. ' 209 

Buoceeded in fixing his instruments, and in deter 
nining the longitude of the embouchure of the M eta 
a river which will one day be of great political im 
poitance to the inhabitants of Guiana and Venezuela 
u it is navigable to the foot of the Andes of New- 
Grenada. Above this point the current was com 
paratively free from shoals ; and in the evening the^ 
niched the rapids of Tabaje. As the Indians 
would not venture to pass them, they were obliged 
to land, and repose on a craggy platform having a 
dope of more than eighteen degrees, and having its 
cnevices filled with bats. The cries of the jaguar 
were heard very near during the whole night ; the 
iky was of a tremendous blackness ; and the hoarse 
noise of the rapids blended with the thunder which 
roHed at a distance among the woods. 

Early in the morning they cleared the rapids, and 
ifisembarked at the new mission of San Borja, where 
ttiey found six houses inhabited by uncatechised 
Gtiahiboes, who differed in nothing from the wild 
natives. The faces of the young girls were^ marked 
with black spots. This people had not painted their 
bodies, and several of them had beards. Of which 
they seemed proud, taking the travellers by the 
chin, and showing by signs tliat they were like 
themselves. In continuing to ascend the river, they 
foond the heat less intense, the temperature during 
bd day being 79° or 80°, and at night about 75° ; 
nt the torment of the mosquitoes increased. The 
TOCodiles which they saw were all of the extraor- 
linary size of twenty-four or twenty-five feet. 

The night was spent on the beach ; but the suffer- 
BgB inflicted by the files induced the travellers to 
lart at five in the morning-. On the island of Gua- 
haco, where they stopped to breakfast, they found 
be granite covered by a sandstone or conglomerate, 
ontaining fragments of quartz and felspar cemented 
y indurated clay, and exhibiting small veins of 
rown iron-ore. Passing the mouth oi tYi<d Uv^ "^^ 



rueni, they slept on the island of Panumana, whk 
they found rich in plants, and where they aga 
observed the low shelves of rock partially coiu 
with the vegetation which they had admired i 


Voyage up the Orinoco continued^ 

Mission of Atures— Epidemic Fevers— Black Crust or Gnnille \ 
Causes of Depopulation of the Missions — Falls of Apuw tc 
Anecdote' of a Jaguar— bomestic Animals— Wild Man of llM Woid 
— Mosquitoes and other poisonous Insects — Mission and CaniMtil 
Maypures— Scenery— Inhabitants— Spice-trees — San Femando de All 
bapo— Snn Baltasar— The Mother's Rock— Vegetation— IMMd*' 
San Antonio de Javiia— Indians— Elastic Gum— Serpents— Poitifea 
the Pimirhin— Arrival at the Rio Negro, a Branch of the Amaiflt- 
Ascent of the Casiquiare 

Leaving the island of Panumana at an early hoa 
the navigators continued to ascend the Orinoco, th 
scenery on which became more interesting th 
nearer they approached the great cataracts. Th 
sky was in part obscured, and lightnings flashe 
among the dense clouds ; but no thunder was heaic 
On the western bank of the river they perceived tfi 
fires of an encampment of Guahiboes, to intimidat 
whom some shots were discharged by the direcdo 
of the missionary. In the evening they arrived \ 
the foot of the great fall, and passed the night at th 
mission of Atures, in its neighbourhood. The fli 
savanna which surrounds the village seemed t 
Humboldt to have formerly .been the bed of th 

This station was found to be in a deplorable stat 
^e Lidians IrdYing gI^d\IaIly deserted it until cnil 


rty-seyen remained. At its foundation in 1748 

▼eral tribes had been assembled, which subse- 

lently dispersed, and their places were supplied 

' the Guahiboes, who belong to the lowest grade 

uncivilized society, and a few families of Macoes. 

16 epidemic fevers, which prevail here at .the com- 

encement of the rainy season, contributed greatly 

the decay of the estabhshment. This distemper 

ascribed to the violent heats, excessive humidity 

* the air, bad food, and, as the natives believe, to 

e noxious exhalations that rise from the bare rocks 

the rapids. This last is a curious circumstance, 

id, as Humboldt remarks, is the more worthy of 

tention on account of its beings connected with a 

ct that has been observed in several parts of the 

orld, although it has not yet been sufficiently ex- 


Among the cataracts and falls of the Orinoco, the 
anite rocks, wherever they are periodically sub- 
ersed, become smooth, and seem as if coated with 
ack lead. The crust is only 0*3 of a line in thick- 
3S8, and occurs chiefly on the quartzy parts of the 
one, which is coarse-grained, and contains solitary 
ystals of hornblende. The same appearance is 
esented at the cataracts of Syene as well as those 
' the Congo. This black deposite, according to 
r. Children's analysis, consists of oxide of iron 
id manganese, to which some experiments of 
umboldt induced him to add carbon and super- 
iiburetted iron. The phenomenon has hitherto 
jen observed only in the torrid zone, in rivers that 
rcrflow periodically and are bounded by primitive 
K;ks, and is supposed by our author to arise from 
le precipitation of substances chymically dissolved 
the water, and not from an efflorescence of mat- 
n contained in the rocks themselves. The Indians 
id missionaries assert, that the exhalations from 
lese rocks are unwholesome, and consider it dan- 
BI0I18 to sleep on granite near the ivvet\ ^lA^xn 

208 . ncFOFuuiTioii OF ram 

travellers, without entirely creditiniflf liiiB: 
usually took care to avoid the Ulack roctkB «t liilHli] 
But the danger of reposing on them, HimMl I 
thinks, may rather be owin^ to the VeiT greet d«gm { 
of warmth they retain durmg the nijpbt, w^^ vril 
found to be d6'5°, while that of the air waa 781^ 
In the day their temperature waa 118*4^, aad iH. 
heat which they emitted was stifling. ■ #< 

Among the causes of the depopolatioii oC fla 
missions, Humboldt mentions the general i] 
of the climate, bad nourishment want of' 

treatment in the diseases of children, and tbe aal* 
tice of preventing pregnancy by the nae of orii* 
terious herbs. Among the savagea of Oqwla. likm 
twins are produced one is always deatnyadt ftoi 
the idea that to bring more than one at a tiiaM ' ' 
the world is to resemble rats, onossuma, aad 
vilest animals ; and that two /shiidren horn al< 
cannot belong to the same father. When anjl 
sical deformity occurs in an infant, the fiiflur] 
it to death, and those of a feeble constitution i 
times undergo the same fate, because the care 
they require is disagreeable. " Such," saya 
boldt, " is the simplicity of manners, — ^the " 
happiness of man in the state of nature ! Ha 
his son to escape the ridicule of having twiaa, W 
to avoid travelling more slowly, — ^in fact to aioid a 
little inconvenience." 

The two great cataracts of the Orinoco are fonild 
by the passage of the river across a chain of granilic 
mountains, constituting part of the Parime raqga. 
By the natives they are called Mapara and Qnitttma; 
but the missionaries have denominated them te 
falls of Atures and M aypures, after the firat tribaa 
which they assembled in the nearest villagea. Tliey 
are only forty-one miles distant from each oUmTi 
and are not more than 345 miles west of the oai^ 
dilleras of New-Grenada. They divide the Ghria- 
tian establishments of Spanish Guiana into two «^ 

acnrjEftT of the lower cataract. 209 

|ual parts; those situated between the lower 
itaract, or that of Apures, being called the missions 
r the Lower Orinoco, and those between the upper 
itaract and the mountains of Duida being culled 
le missions of the Upper Orinoco. The len^h of 
le lower section, including its sinuosities, is 897 
ilea, while that of the upper is 576 miles. The 
ivigation of the river extends from its mouth to 
le point where it meets the Anaveni near the lower 
itaract, although in the upper part of this division 
lere are rapids which can be passed only in small 
)ats. The principjd danger, however, is that which 
ises from natund rafts, consisting of trees inter- 
oven with lianas, and covered with aquatic plants 
urried down by the current. The cataracts are 
•rmed by bars stretching Hcross the bed of the 
ver, which forces its way through a break in the 
ouiitains ; but beyond this rugged pass the course 

affain open for a length of more than 576 miles. 

The scenery in the vicinity of the lower fall is 
ascribed as exceedingly beautiful. To the west of 
tures, a pyramidal mountain, the Peak of Uniana, 
ses froni a plain to the height of nearly 3200 feet, 
he savannas, which are covered with grasses and 
ender plants, though never inundated by the river, 
resent a surprising luxuriance and diversity of 
sgetation. Piles of granitic blocks rise here und 
lere, and at the margins of the plains occur deep 
illeys and ravines, the humid soil of which is 
jvered with arums, heliconias, and lianas. The 
lelvcs of primitive rocks, scarcely elevated above 
le plain, are partially coated with lichens and 
losses, together with succulent plants, and tufts of 
^ergreen shrubs with shining leaves. On all sides 
le horizon is bounded by mountains, overgrown 
ith forests of laurels, among which clusters of 
dms rise to tlie height of more than a hundred 
et, their slender stems supportingtufts of feathery 
iliaffe. To the east of Aturcs other mountains ap- 


810 €tJlTAft40Tt 09 VHB 


pear, the ridffe of wUcli is - c od ipd tod cf 
cliffs, rising l&e huge piU ai i i|mjj <li» tHmJ 
these columnar masses BTayMntad neardM ^ 
flamingoes, herons, and ofli#r wadiw*Uidk=^ 
on their summits, and look like aenwielB* 
vicinity of the cataracts, the moifltara 
fused m the air produces a perpetual 
wherever soil has aecumulated on the 
occupied by the beautiful shrubs. of tbB 

The rainy season had scarcely commenottyA 
the vegetation displayed all the vigour, and htUimi^ 
which on the coast it assumes only towudlt fti 
end of the rains. The old trimks were 
with orchidese, bannisterias, bignonias, anmiai 
other parasitic plants. Mimosas, figs, and iM 
were the prevailing trees in the woody apota; 
in the vicinity of the cataract were groopa of kiM» 
conias, bamboos, and palms. 

Along a space of more than five milestlie Mof 
the Orinoco is traversed by numerous dikes of ro^ 
forming natural dams, filled with islands of amy 
form, some rocky and precipitous, while qtheis la- 
semble shoals. By these the river is broken upiato 
torrents, which are ever dashing their spray agaiost 
the rocks. They are all furnished with sylvan vege- 
tation, and resemble a mass of palm-trees rising anid 
the foam of the waters. The current is divided inlo 
a multitude of rapids, each endeavouring to farce a 
passage through the narrows, and is eterywikSM 
ingulfed in caverns, in one of which the tranreOaia 
heard the water rolling at once over their heads aild 
beneath their feet. 

Notwithstanding the formidable aspect of tUs lM|g 
succession of falls, the Indians pass many of tkaa 
in their canoes. When ascending thev awian m 
before, and after repeated efforts suceeed in flziiif a 

rope to a point of rock, and thus draw the canoe m 
the rapid. Sometimes it fills with water, and ia m 
onfrequently dashed to pieces against the aholvaa; 


upon which the sailors again swim, though not with- 
9ut diiBcvdty, through the whirlpools to the nearest 
island. When the bars are very high the vessels 
ire taken ashore, and drawn upon rollers, made of the 
iiranches of trees, to a place where the river again 
ttecomes navigable. During the flood, however, this 
operation is seldom necessary. 

Althourii the rapids of the Orinoco form a long 
series of falls, the noise of which is heard at the dis- 
tance of more than three miles, yet the rocks were 
found by Humboldt not to have a greater height than 
thirty feet perpendicular. He thinks it probable that 
a considerable part of the water is lost by passing 
into subterranean cavities, independently of that 
which disappears by being dispersed in the atmo- 
sphere. Numberless holes and sinuosities are formed 
in the crevices by the friction of the sand and quartz 
pebbles; but he does not consider that any great 
change is effected in the general form of the cata- 
racts by the action of the water, the granite being 
too hard to be worn away to a great extent. The 
Indians assert that the stony barriers preserve the 
same aspect ; but that the partial torrents into which 
the river divides itself are changed in their direc- 
tion, and carry sometimes more, sometimes less 
irater towards one or other bank. 

When the rush of the cataracts is heard in the 
plain that surrounds the mission of Atures, one ima- 
ipnes he is near a coast skirted by reefs and break- 
ers. The noise is thrice as loud by night as by day. 
rhis circumstance had struck the padre and the In- 
dians, and Humboldt attributes it to the cessation 
)f the sun's action^ which is productive of number- 
less currents and undulations of the air, impeding 
the progress of sound by presenting spaces of differ- 
ent density. 

The jaguars, which abound everywhere on the 
Drinoco, are so numerous here that they come into 
the Yillage, and devour ^e pigs of the poor Indians. 


The missionary related a striking instance of llii 
familiarity of these animals : — " Two Indian chil- 
dren, a boy and girl, eight or nine yean of age, were 
sitting among the grass near the village of Atuiesi 
in the midst of a savanna. It was two in the after- 
noon when a jaguar issued from the forest and a^ 
proached the children, gamboling around them ; some- 
times concealing itself among the long grass, and 
again springing forward, with his back curved and 
his head lowered, as is usual with our cats. The 
little boy was unaware of the danger in which he 
was placed, and became sensible of it only when the 
jaguar struck him on the head with one of his pawa. 
The blows thus inflicted were at first slight, but 
gradually became ruder. The claws of the jaguar 
wounded the child, and blood flowed with violence. 
The httle girl then took up a branch of a tree and 
struck the animal, wliich fled before her. The In- 
dians, hearing the cries of the children, ran up and 
saw the jaguar, which bounded off without showing 
any disposition to defend itself." — " What," asks 
Humboldt, "meant this fit of playfulness in an ani- 
mal which, although not diflicult to be tamed in our 
menageries, is always so ferocious and cruel in the 
state of freedom ? If we choose to admit that, being 
sure of its prey, it played with the young Indian 
as the domestic cat plays with a bird, the wings of 
which have been clipped, how can we account for 
the forbearance of a large jaguar when pursued by 
a little girl 1 If the jaguar was not pressed by hun- 
ger, why should it have gone up to the children? 
There are mysteries in the affections and hatreds 
of animals. We have seen lions kill three or four 
dogs which were put into their cage, and instantly 
caress another which had the courage to seize the 
royal beast by the mane. Man is ignorant of the 
sources of these instincts. It would seem that 
weakness inspires more interest, the more confiding 
it is," 

I "^ 


^ nrhe catUe introduced by the Jesuits had entirely 
disappeared ; but the Indians rear the common pig 
and another kind peculiar to America, and known in 
Europe by the name of pecari. A third species of 
hogt the apida, ¥rfaich is of a dark-brown colour, 
wiuiders in larg^e herds composed of several hun- 
dreds. M. Bonpland, when upon a botanical excur- 
sion, saw a drove of these animals pass near him. 
It marched in a close body ; the males before, and 
each sow accompanied by her young. The natives 
kill them with small lances tied to cords. At the 
mission they saw a monkey of a new species, which 
had been brought up in captivity, and which every 
day seized a pig in the court-yard, and remained upon 
it from morning to night, in all its wanderings in the 
savannas. Here, for the first time, they heard of 
this hairy man of the woods, a large animal of the 
ape kind, which, according to report, carries off 
women, builds huts, and sometimes eats human 
flesh. In all his travels in America, Humboldt found 
DO traces of a large anthropomorphous monkey, al- 
thoogh in severS places, very distant from each 
other, he heard similar accounts of it. 

Flies of various kinds unceasingly tormented the 
travellers ; mosquitoes and simulia by day, and zan- 
cudoes by night. The missionary, observing that 
the insects were more abundant in the lowest stra^ 
torn of the atmosphere, had constructed near the 
church a small apartment supported upon palm- 
tmnks, to which they retired in the evening to dry 
their plants and write their journals.* At Maypures 

* A oinillar expedient wu tried by a British officer ^bo had joined the 
iBVDrfenls nndAt Bolivar, in 1818. '^Tbese insects" (the nKMqoitoes), 
ojs he, " do not rise high in tbe air, but are generated and remain- near 
Ihs wet bank of the river. I found a tree in the neighbourhood, which I 
mended neariy to its top with a cord. This I attached firmly to the 
tnndiea, and then fixed it round me, so that I could not fall, but sit with 
mtHj, although not with much comfort. It was, however, with me 
has u with many in various situations in life — I could estimate the nature 
■ri extent of my pleasuree and my difficulties merely by comparison ; 
and, certainly, although the beiqg tied lo the top of a lieo aa%«kai^V 

214 MosawiTOEa. ■ 

the Indians leave the village at night, and sleep 
the little islands in the midst of thecatanicts, when 
the ineects ore leas numerous. HnmboMt gireg u 
elaborate account of these creatoita, of which, bov- 
ever,the most interesting parti<M|toe alone cao be 
here eitracted. In the missioris' i)f the Orinoco, 
when two persons meet in the morning, the ftat 

JuestionB are, "How did you find the zancndou 
uring the iuKl>t 1 Howare we to-day for the mw- 
quitoesi" "nie plague of these auimsils, howeier. 
is not so general m the torrid zone as is commonlf 
beUeved. On the table-lands that have an eteviliM 
of more than 9663 feet, and in very dry plaint al > 
distance from rivers, they are not more uunwions 
than in Europe ; but along the valleys, as wd ~~ '~ 
moist places on the coast, they coatinnaUf k 
the traveller; the lower stratum of air, to tuli 
of fifteen or twenty feet, being filled with 

venomous insects. It is a remark^le cip 

that on the streams, the water of whiuh is of t Jit 
lowish-brown colour, the tipulary flies do not — "" 
their appearance. Not less astonishing is th< 
that the different krntls do not associate togetlMrt 
but that at certain hours of the day, distinct spociw 
■ ' -^-roiW 

i say, mount guard. From 
after six in the mormn^till Ave iu the aftemooafl* 
air is filled with mo squiloes, which are of the — ~ 

Simulium, and resemble a common fly. An. 

before sunset small gnats, called tetnpianeroea, nfr 
ceed them, to disappear between six and aer— 
after which zancudoes, a species of gnat witb' 
long legs, come abroad and continue until near: 
rise, when the former agaiti take their torn. !_ 
sons bocu in the country, whether whites, mulattOI^ 
negroes, or Indiana, ali suffer from the sling of * 



3, although not so severely as recently-arrived 

travellers, after remaining two days in the 
y of the cataract of Atures, proceeded on the 

rejoin tlmr canoe, already conducted by 
Indians of the mission through the rapids, and 
d it about eleven in the morning, accompanied 
ther Zea, who had procured a small stock of 
ions, consistin'^g of plantains, cassava, and 

The river was now free from shoals ; and 

1 few hours they passed the rapids of Garcita, 
Tceived numerous small holes at an elevation 
:e than 190 feet above the level of the current, 

appeared to have been caused by the erosion 
waters. The night was spent in the open air, 

left bank. 

the 18th they set out at three in the morning, 
5ar five in the afternoon reached the Raudal 
lahiboes, on the dike of which they landed 
the Indians were draiving up the boat. The 

rock exhibited circular holes, produced by 
:tion of pebbles, in one of which they prepared 
rage consisting of water, sugar, and the juice 
I fruits, for the purpose of allaying the thirst 
missionary, who was seized by a fever fit ; 
/hich they had the pleasure of bathing in a 
ilace in the midst of the cataracts. After an 
delay, the boat having been got up, they re- 
led their instruments and provisions. The 
733 1705 yards broad, and had to be crossed 
jly, at a part where the waters rushed with 
le rapidity towards the bar over which they 
>recipitated. In the midst of this dangerous 
tion they were overtaken by a thunder-storm 
panied by torrents of rain ; and after rowing 
' minutes found that so far from having made 
ss they were approaching the fall. But, as 
iians redoubled their efibrts, the danger was 
d, and the boat arrived at nightfall in the port of 


Maypnres. The lugfat waa extremely dark, and Ha 
villa^ was at a consideiaUe Oistance ; stiU, aa t1» 
miasionaiT caused cop^-torc&es lo be lighted, lh«j 
proceedea. Aa tlie rain ceased the zancudMs n- 
appeaied, and the flambeaux being extinguished, 
they had to grope their way. One of their fcllow- 
travellerfi, Don Nicolas Soto, slipped from a round 
trunk on which he attempted to cross a guUy. hit 
fortunately received no injory. To add to Uwir 
distress, the pilot talked incessantly or vcnoiuoitf 
snakes, water- serpents, and tig«rs. On their ain«il 
at the roiEsioD titey found the inhabitants immersed 
in profound sleep, and nothing was heard but tbe 
cries of noctnmal birds and the distant roar or tb> 

At the Tillage of Haypuies they remained Qate 
days, for the purpose of examimiig the nejghbonr- 
bood. The cataract, called by the Indiana Quittun, 
is formed by an archipelago tif islands, fillinj lb* 
bed of the river to the length of 6396 yaids, ani hj 
dikes of rock which occaaionally join tnem twethar. 
The lai^est of these shelves or bars are at I^ini^ 
rimi, Manimi, and the Salto de la Sardina ; ths ImI 
of which is about nine feet high. To obtain a HI 
view of the falls the travellers frequently bi " ' 

one attains the summit of the rock," Bxn Hqi_ 
" he suddenly sees a sheet of foam a mue in e 
Enormoua masses of rock, of an iron blackiiMb 
emerge from its bosom, some of a manitii '" * 
sod grouped like basaltic hills ; others r 
towers, castles, and ruins. Their dark coumr ea^ 
trasts with the silvery whiteness of th« Am. 
Every rock and islet is covered with tufta of ataldf 
trees. From the base of these prominences, ai &r 
as the eye can reach, there hangs over ihe rim a 
dense mt8t,tliroughwhichthetonofiliajostiepdflM 
tn seen to penetnto. M.«v«nw>«^^lw4airtUi 


eet of foam presents a differeat aspect. Some- 
les the mountain isles and palms project their long 
adows over it ; sometimes the rays of the setting 
1 are refracted in the humid cloud that covers the 
;aract, when coloured arches form, vanish, and 
ippear by turns." 

The mountain of Manimi forms the eastern limit 
a plain, which presented the same appearance as 
tt of Atures. Towards the west is a level space 
merly occupied by the waters of the river, and 
libitinf? rocks similar to the islands of the cata- 
ts. These masses are also crowned with palms ; 
\ one of them, called Keri, is celebrated in the 
mtry for a white spot, which Humboldt supposed 
be a large nodule of quartz. In an islet amid 
: rush of waters there is a similar spot. The 
ians view them with a mysterious interest, be- 
ring they see in the former the image of the moon, 
I in the latter that of the sun. 
!*he inhabitants of the mission were Guahiboes 
. Macoes. In the time of the Jesuits the number 
I six hundred, but it had gradually fallen to less 
u sixty. They are represented as gentle, tem- 
ate, and cleanly. They cultivate plantains and 
sava, and, like most of the Indians or the Orinoco, 
pare nourishing drinks from the fruits of palms 
other plants. Some of them were occupied in 
lufacturing a coarse pottery. Cattle, and espe- 
ly goats, had at one time multiplied considerabljr 
naypures ; but at the period of Humboldt* s visit 
e were to be seen in any mission of the Orinoco, 
ne macaws were seen round the huts, and fly- 
in the fields like pigeons. Their plumage being 
he most vivid tints of purple, blue, and yellow, 
ve birds are a great ornament to the Indian farm- 

ound the village there grows a majestic tree of 
genus Unona^ with straight branches rising in the 
Q of a pyramid. The infusioii of tYie uovgc^vk 



fruit is a powerlbLfebriftige, and is used as waA 
preference to thelistriiigeiit foaik of tfaa emekmm 


The longitude of this placa \raa found to be MP 
IT r, the latitude 5<> 13' 67" ; differing; from tMNpl 
maps then existing by half a degree of lonj^lndeai , 
as much of latitixle. The thermometer dniiqgtt( \ 
night indicated from 80^ to 84«, and in tlied^ill I 
The water of the river was 81.7^, mki that of i 
spring 8S°. , - 7?^'-- 

Having roent some da3n9 at the miasion of Mn^ ' 
puree,. the travellers emrarked at two in the * 
noon in the canoe procured at the turtle i 
which, although considtodily damaged by ^e 
lessness of the Indians, was Judged sufficient Ibrthi' 
long voyage they had yet to perform. Abofs fl» 
great cataracts they found themselves, as it were,iii 
new world. Towards the east, in the extteme.'lb- 
tance, rose the great chain of the Cttnavami iikw- 
tains, one of the peaks of which, named Calida- 
mini, reflects at sunset a reddish glare of ligH 
After encoimtering one more rapid they entm 
upon smooth water, and passed the night on a roGk| 

On the 22d they set out at an early hour. Ill 
morning was damp but delicious, and not a breath o( 
wind was felt ; a perpetual calm reigning to thi 
south of the cataracts, which Humboldt attriboUi 
to the windings of the rivers, the shelter of moun- 
tains, and the almost incessant rains. In the vaBej 
of the Amazon, on the contrary, a strong breese 
rises every day at two in the afternoon, which, how- 
ever, is felt only along the line of the current. Ik 
alwavs moves against the stream, and by means of 
it a boat may go up the Amazon under sail a lengtk 
of 2590 miles. The great salubrity of this distnd 
is probably owing to the gale. They passed tht 
mouths of several streams, and admired the grsfr- 
$mjof the cerroa ot 1av^^> ^Xsra^o^ ^1 \Vl<^ cotdil* 


3f Parime, the aspect of which varied every 
of the day. At sunrise, the dense vegetation 
which they are covered was tinged with a dark- 
i inclining to brown, while broad and deep 
»ws were projected over thexneighbouring plain, 
ng a strong contrast with the vivid Ught £ffused 
id. Towards noon the shadows disappeared, 
le whole group was veiled in an azure vapour, 
1 softened the outlines of the rocks, moderated 
flfects of light, and gave the landscape an aspect 
Imness spid repose. Landing at the mouth of 
lio Vichada to examine the vegetation, they 
. numberless small granitic rocks rising from 
lain, and presenting the appearance of prisms, 
d columns, and towers. The forest was thin, 
it the confluence of the two rivers the rocks 
even the soil were covered with mosses and 
OS. M. Bonpland found several specimens of 
ju cinnamomoides, a very aromatic species of 
mon, which, together with the American nut- 
the pimento, and Lauras pucheri, Humboldt re- 
s, would have become important objects of trade, 
lot Europe, at the period when the New World 
discovered, been already accustomed to the 
s of India. The travellers rested at night on 
ank of the Orinoco^ at the mouth of the Zama. 
river is one of those which are said to have black 
r, as it appears of a dark-brown or greenish- 
; and here they entered the system of rivers 
lich the name of Aguas Negras is given. The 
ir is supposed to be owing to a solution of ve- 
ile matter, and the Indians attribute it to the 
of sarsaparilla. 
five in the morning of the 23d they continued 

voyag^e, and passed the mouth of the Rio Ma- 
li. The banks were still skirted by forests, but 
lountains on the east retired farther back. The 
s left by the floods were not higher than eiffht 

At the place where they paymd tS^kib "u^iEd^ 


multitudes of bats issued from the crevices, imi 
hovered aroi^nd their hammocks. Next day a viol^ 
rain obliged them to set out at a very early hour. 
In the afternoon they landed at the Indian Rota- 
tions of San Fernando, and after midnight arrived at 
the mission, where they were received with the kind- 
est hospitality. 

The village of San Fernando de Atabipo is situated 
near the confluence of the Orinoco, the Atabipo, and 
the Guaviare ; the latter of which Humboldt thinks 
might with more propriety be considered the con- 
tinuation of the Orinoco than a branch. The num- 
ber of inhabitants did not exceed 226. The mission- 
ary had the title of president of the stations on the 
Orinoco, and superintended the twenty-six ecclesias- 
tics settled on its banks, as well as on those of the 
Rio Negro, Casiquiare, Atabipo, and Caura. The 
Indians were a little more civihzed than the inmates 
of the other establishments, and cultivated cacaO in 
small quantities, together with cassava and plantains. 
They were surrounded with good pasturage, but not 
more than seven or eight cows were to be seen 
The most striking object in the neighbourhood was 
the pirijaopalm, which has a thorny trunk more thai; 
sixty-four feet high, pinnated leaves, and clusters oi 
fruits two or three inches in diameter, and of a pur- 
ple colour. The fruit furnishes a farinaceous sub- 
stance, of a colour resembling that of the yelk of m 
efiTfr^ which when boiled or roasted affords a verj 
wholesome and agreeable aliment. 

On entering the Rio Atabipo the travellers founc 
a great change in the scenery, the colour of the 
stream, and the constitution of the atmosphere. The 
trees were of a different species ; the mosquitoes hac 
entirely disappeared, and the waters, instead of being 
turbid, and loaded with earthy matter, were of a 
dark colour, clear, agreeable to the taste, and twc 
degrees cooler. So great is their transparency, thai 
the smallest fishes are distinguishabld at the deptli 


of twenty or thirty feet, and the bottom, which con- 
asts of white quart zy sand, is usually visible. The 
banks covered with plants, among which rise nume- 
Tom palms, are reflected by the surface of the river 
with a vividness almost as bright as that of the ob- 
jects themselves. Above the mission no crocodiles 
occur, but their place is supplied by bavas and fresh- 
water dolphins. The chiguires, howhng-monkeys 
and zamuro-vultures had disappeared, though jaguars 
were still seen, and the water-snakes were extremely 

On the 26th the travellers advanced only two or 
three leagues, and passed the night on a rock near 
the Indian plantations of Guapasoso. At two in 
the morning they again set out, and continued to 
ascend the river. About noon they passed the gra- 
nitic rock named Piedra del Tigre, and at the close 
of the day had great difiiculty in finding a suitable 
place for sleeping, owing to the inundation of the 
ranks. It rained hard from sunset, and as the mis- 
nonary had a fit of tertian fever they re-embarked 
immediately after midnight. At dawn they landed 
to examine a gigantic ceiba-tree, which was nearly 
128 feet in height, with a diameter of fifteen or six- 
teen feet. On the 29th the air was cooler, but loaded 
with vapo^, and the current being strong they ad- 
vanced slowly. It was night when they arrived 
at the mission of San Baltasar, where they lodged 
with a Catalan priest, a lively and agreeable per- 
son. The village was built with great regularity, and 
the plantations seemed better cultivate than else- 

At a late hour in the morning they left his abode, 
and after ascending the Atabipo for five miles en- 
tered the Rio Temi. A granitic rock on the west- 
ern bank of the former river attracted their atten- 
tion. It is called the Piedra de la Guahiba or 
Piedra de la Madre, and commemorates one of those 
of oppression of which Europe^xvd ^t« ^^^'\Ql 



all countries wheneyer tiiey oome into contact wiH 
savages. In 1797, the missionary of San FenandB 
load )ed his people to the banks of tho Rio Gi» 
viare on a hostile excursion. ' In an Indian hut fkfBf 
found a Guahibo woman, with three children, oeeo- 
pied in preparing cassava-flour. She and her fittla 
ones attempted to escape, but were seized and carried 
away. The unhappy female repeatedly fled vitti her 
children from the village, but was always traced bf 
her Christian countrymen. At length the friar, ate 
causing her to be severely beaten, resolved to aeaft- 
rate her from her family, and«eht her up the Atah|io 
towards the missions of the Rio Negro. Ignonat 
of the fate intended for her, but judging by the di- 
rection of the sun that her persecutors were ciny- 
ing her far from her native country, she burst her 
fetters, leaped from the boat, and swam to the hft 
bank of the river. She landed on a rock ; but the 
president of the establishment ordered the Indiue 
to row to the shore and lay hands on her. She wtt 
brought back in the evening, stretched upon the beie 
stone (the Piedra de la Madre), scourged with straps 
of manatee leather, which are the ordinary whips of 
the country, and then dragged to the niission of Ji- 
vita, her hands bound behind her back. It was the 
rainy season, the night was excessively dark, forests 
believed to be impenetrable stretched from that stt- 
tion to San Fernando over an extent of 86 miles, and 
the only communication between these places wasbf 
the river ; yet the Guahibo mother, breaking her 
bonds, and eluding the vigilance of her guards, 
escaped under night, and on the fourth morning was 
seen at the village, hovering around the hut which 
contained her children. On this journey she mult 
have undergone hardships from which the most ro- 
bust man would have shrunk ; was forced to live upon 
ants, to swim numerous streams, and to make ner 
way through thickets and thorny lianas. And the 
reward of all this coxxs^:^^ ^xid demotion waa— her 


tval to one of the missions' of the Upper Ori- 
, where, despairing of ever seeing her beloved 
ren, and refusing all kind of nourishment, she 
a victim to the bigotry and barbarity of wretches 
hemously calling themselves the ministers of a 
on which inculcates universal benevolence, 
ove the mouth of the Guasucavi the travellers 
ed the Rio Temi, which runs from south to 
u The ground was flat and covered with trees, 
which rose the pirijao palm with its clusters of 
i-like fruits, and the Mauritia aculeata^ with fan- 
3d leaves pointing downwards, and marked with 
sntric circles of blue and green. Wherever the 

forms sinuosities the forest is flooded to a great 
it ; and, to shorten the route, the boat frequently 
ed through the woods along open avenues of 
r four or Ave feet broad. An Indian furnished 

a large knife stood at the bow continually cut- 
the branches which obstructed the passage. In 
hickest part of it a shoal of fresh- water dolphins 
d from beneath the trees and surromidea the 
i\. At Ave in the evening the travellers, after 
ing for some time between two trunks, and ex- 
ncing great difliculties, regained the proper 
nel, and passed the night near one of the co- 
ar masses of granite which occasionally protrude 

the level surface. 

tting out before daybreak, they remained in the 
»f the river till sunrise, when, to avoid the force 
le current, they again entered the inundated 
;t ; and soon arriving at the junction of the Temi 

the Tuamini, they followed the latter towards 
outh-west. At eleven they reached San Anto- 
e Javita, where they had the pleasure of finding 
:y inteUigent and agreeable monk : though they 
) obliged to remain nearly a week, while the 

was carried by land to the Rio Negro. For 
days the travellers had felt an extraordinary 
ition on the joints of the fijokgen wodonVtaJ^Xma. 

324 MttfioN OF MjJK' mamo*' • 

of the hands, "which the niigrioiMgy in fori h ed 
was caused by insete. Nothinff .ooiqld be 
guished with a lens but parallel fl&eaks of a^MH" 
colour, the form of which has obtained tot UieeipR 
malcuhB the name of aradores^ or pkifo^fitamm,'' M 
mulatto woman engaged to ektirpafe them OM'lf 
one, and, digging with a small l»t of pointed iraat 
at length succeeded in extracting a li^e imnidta; 
but Humboldt did not possess sniBcient. patieneall 
wait for relief ftom so tedious an operawNL MW 
day, however, an Indian efifected a radical lemis If 
means of the infusion of balk striiq;^ from a t0h 
tain shrub. 

In 1756, before the expedition to the b o undi iieib 
the country between the missions of Javita and An 
Baltasar was dependent on Brazil, and the Poita- 
guese had advanced from the Rio Neno aa ftr M 
the banks of the Temi. An Indian chiefi mmd 
Javita, one of their auxiliaries, pushed his hostfla' 
excursions to a distance of more than 345 miles; 
and, being furnished with a patent for drawing the 
natives from the forest ** for the conquest of sonb,* 
did not fail to make use of it for selling slaves to 
his allies. When Solano, one of the leaders of the 
expedition just described, arrived at San Fennndo 
de Atabipo, he seized the adventurer, and by treaU 
ing him with gentleness gained him over to the in- 
terests of the Spaniards. He was still living when 
the travellers proceeded to the Rio Negro ; and, as he 
attended them on all their botanical excursions, ther 
obtained much information from him. He assured 
them, that he had seen almost all the Indian tribee 
which inhabit the vast countries between the Upper 
Orinoco, the Rio Negro, the Irinida, and the Jupura 
devour human flesh. Their cannibalism he consid> 
ered as the effect of a system of revenge, as they 
eat only enemies who are made prisoners in battle. 

The climate of the mission of San Antonio de 
farita, is so rainy t\yaX i^^ «QaL%niif^»x% ^x^ ^eVkn 


> seen, and the padre infonned the travellers 
it sometimes rained without intermission for 
or live months. The water that fell in five 
s on the 1st of May, Humboldt found to be 21 
in height, and on the 3d of May he collected 
les in three hours ; whereas at Paris there fall 
28 or 30 lines in as many weeks. The tem- 
;ure is lower than at Maypures, but higher than 
le Rio Negro : the thermometer standmg at 80^ 
)-6° by day, and at 69*8° by night. 
le Indians of the mission amounted only to 160. 
B of them were employed in the construction 
ats, which are formed of the trunks of a species 
urel (Ocotea cymbarum), hollowed by means of 
and the axe. These trees attain a height of 
i than a hundred feet, and have a yellow resin- 
wood, which emits an agreeable odour. The 
t between Javita and Pimichin affords an im- 
\e quantity of gigantic timber, as tall occasion- 
is 116 or 117 feet; but as the trees give out 
;hes only towards the summit, the travellers 
disappointed, amid so great a profusion of im- 
rn species, in not being able to procure the 
s and flowers. Besides, as it rained incessantly 
ng a time, M. Bonpland lost the greater part of 
ried specimens. Although no pines or firs oc- 
n these woods, balsams, resins, and aromatic 
( are abundantly furnished by many other trees, 
ire collected as objects of trade by the people 

the mission of San Baltasar they had seen the 
es preparing a kind of elastic gum, which they 
was found under ground; and in the forests 
vita, the old Indian who accompanied them 
ed that it was obtained by digiring several feet 
anionc: the roots of two particular trees, the 
I of Aublct and one with pinnate leaves. This 
ance, which bears the mime of dapicho, is white, 
r, and brittle, with a laminated &txMc\.>xtft v»^ 


-II. r^-v» 

226 : jiATnrs imxuwk.. 

undulating edges; but on being xoii8ted« jt 

a black colour, and ^^qtures the {fropeitieaof ,caMM^ 


The natiyes of these countries live ,in hoiidis ji| 
forty or fifty, and unite under a common chief m)g 
when they wage war with their neig&boots. AiSi 
dijQTerent tribes speak different lan^mges tlicf haqj^ 
httle comflmnication. They cultiTatjd cassavi^|lii|i 
tains, and spmetimes maize ; but shift itquak plaoell 
place, so that they entirely lose tbe ndrnntMiM wt 
suiting in other countries from agricultunloiUll 
ThQy have two great objects of woidiip^ — ^fM 
principle, Cachimana, who regulatea the tensHi 
and favours the harvests ; and Ae evil priiici|iK J^ 
lok\amo, less powerful, but mojre active, and unL 
They have no idols ; but the botuto, or sacred tnik 
pet, is an object of veneration, the initiatioft i|to 
the mysteries of which requires pure mannen tfd 
a single Ufe. Women are not permitted to see ili 
and are excluded from all the ceremonies of tUe 

It took the Indians more than four days to. dm 
the boat upon rollers to the Rio Pimdchin. One A 
them, a tall strong man, was bitten by a snake, and 
was brought to the mission in a very alarmiiu' con- 
dition. He had dropped down senseless, an? was 
afterward seized with nausea, vertigo, arid a deter- 
mination of blood to the head, but was cured by aA 
infusion of raiz de mato ; respecting the plant fur- 
nishing which Humboldt could obtain no satisfactoiy 
:Tiformation, although he supposes it to be of the 
:fimily of Apocyneae. In the hut of this individnil 
he observed balls of an earthy and impure salt, two 
or three inches in diameter. It is obtained 1^ re- 
ducing to ashes the spadix and fruit of a palm-tree, 
and consists of muriate of potash and sooa, caostie 
lime, and other ingredients. The Indians dissobe 
a few grains in water, which Ihey drop on theb 

rOR88T0-H9irAKES — RIO XIORO. 227 

the 5th May the travellers set off on foot to 
f their canoe. They had to ford numerous 
as, the passage of which was somewhat dan- 
8 on account of the number of snakes in the 
;es. After passing through dense forests of 
trees, among which they noted several new 
js of coffee and other plants, thejr arrived to- 
evening at a small farm on the Pimiohin, where 
Kissed the night in a deserted hut, not without 
tiension of being bitten by serpents, as they 
obliged to lie on the floor. Before they took 
ssion of this shed their attendants killed two 
Mapanare snakes, and in the morning a large 
was found beneath the jaguar-skin on which one 
m had slept. This species of serpent is white on 
)lly, spotted with brown and black on the back, 
rows tathe length of four or five feet. Hum- 
remarks, that if vipers and rattlesnakes had 
a disposition for offence as is usually supposed, 
iman race could not have resisted them in some 
of America. 

(barking at sunrise, they proceeded down the 
;hin, which is celebrated for the number of its 
ngs. It is navigable during the whole year, 
AS only one rapid. In four hours and a half 
entered the Rio Negro. " The morning," says 
x)ldt, " was cool and beautiful ; we had- been 
led thirty-six days in a narrow canoe, so un- 
y that it would have been overset by any one 
\ imprudently from his seat, without warning 
)wers to preserve its balance by leaning to the 
iite side. We had suffered severely from the 
J of insects, but we had withstood the insalu- 
of the climate ; we had passed without acci- 
the numerous falls and bars that impede the 
ation of the rivers, and often render it more 
srous than long voyages by sea. 
.fter all that we had endured, I mxj be allowed 
sntion the satisfaction which we lelXm^DAN^s^ 

228 VHSi ftio tmmo* " ■' 

reached the tributarieB of the Anucioar-te taSlk 
pa88(|^the isthmos which itopantee two gmft ^ 
temsOT riveKS, — and ui having attamed % certain 
of fulMing ^6 moat important object of oar 
ney,— that of detennming by aatronomlcal 
tions the course of that arm of th6 Orindco 
joins the Rio Negro, and whose ezifltonce hid 
alternately proved and denied for half % oeflMV. 
In these inlaod, regions of the New ConthMotib 
almost accustom ourselves to consider mas as iai^ 
sentiai to the order of nature. The earOi is nth 
loaded with plants of which nothing imp edsi 
development. An immense laverorinoiudori 
the uninterrupted action of thi). 'Organic 
The crocodiles and boas are maflitera of the 
the jaguar, pecari, dante, and monke]ra of 
species traverse the forest without fear an d ^,— 
o)it danger, residing there as in an ancient heiMw 
On the ocean and on the sands of Aftica, we «B 
difficulty reconcile ourselves to the disappeaiVKt 
of man ; but here his absence, in a fertile ^oontiy 
clothed with perpetual verdure, produces a stiaiifa 
and melancholy feeling.'' 

The Rio Negro, wliich flows eastward into thi 
Amazon, was for ages considered of great pctf tied 
importance by the Spanish government, as itwonM 
have furnished to the Portuguese an easy introdno- 
tion into the missions of Guiana. The jeaUmtief 
of these rival nations, the ignorance and divermM 
languages of the Indians, the difficulty of penetrat- 
ing into these inland regions, and other causes, rea- 
dered the knowledge of the sources as well astfas 
tributaries of the Negro and Orinoco extremely de- 
fective. To endeavour to throw some light on tUi 
geographical point, and in particular to determias 
the course of that branch of the Orinoco whM 
joins the Rio Negro, was the great object of Hufli- 
boldt's journey. This last, or Black RiTOr, ia so 
named on account oC IhA daxk^eotov of ita w«tonk 


which are of an amber hue wherever it is shallow, 
and dark-brown wherever the depth is great. After 
entering it by the Pimichin, and passing the rapid at 
the coniduenee of the two streams, the travellers 
soon reached the mission of Maroa, containing 150 
Indians, where theypurchased some fine toucans. 
Passing the station of Tomo, they visited that of 
Davipe, where they were received by the missionary 
with great hospitality. Here they bought some 
fowls and a pig, which interested their servants so 
much that they pressed them to depart, in order to 
reach the island of Dapa, where the animal might be 
roasted. They arrived at sunset, and found some 
cultivated ground and an Indian hut. Four natives 
were seat^ round a fire eating a kind of paste con- 
Bistiug of large ants, of which several bags were 
Buspended over the fire. There were more than 
fourteen persons in this small cabin, lying naked in 
hammocM placed above each other. They received 
Father Zea with great joy, and two young women 
prepared cassava-cakes ; after which the travellers 
retired to rest. The family slept only till two in 
the morning, when they began to converse in their 
hammocks. This custom of being awake four or 
live hours before sunrise Humboldt found to be gen- 
eral among the people of Guiana ; and, hence, when 
an attempt is made to surprise them, the first part 
of the night is chosen for the purpose. 

Proceeding down the Rio Negro, they passed the 
mouth of the Casiquiare, the river by which a com- 
munication is efiected between the former and the 
Orinoco : and towards evening reached the mission 
of San Carlos del Rio Negro, with the commander 
of which they lodged. The military establishment 
of this frontier post consisted of seventeen soldiers, 
ten of whom were detached for the security of the 
neighbouring stations. The voyage from the mouth 
of the Rio Negro to Grand Para occupying only 
twenty or twenty-five days, it would nothaNetaks^ 

■ ■■ .t 



much more time to bare gone down fbe 
to the coast of Brazil, than to retuni by fh» Oaii 
quiare nod Orinoco to that of Caraocaa; btft' Mr 
traveUera were informed that it was difflonlt to ifv 
f^om the Spanish to the* Portuguese aettknaiill 
and it was well for them that they deoUnad Mb 
route, for they afterward learned that instmetlM 
had been issued to seize and convey them to UlQib 
This project, howeyer, was not countenanced by Ihl 
government at home, who, when informed of lli 
zeal of its subaltern agents, ffave instant ordeis tW 
the philosophers should not be disturbed in tUr 

Amdhg the Indians of the Rio Negio tbey %mk 
some of those green pebbles known by the namstf 
Amazon^rStones, and which are worn as smihtf 
The form usually given to them is that of the Pm^ 
politah cyUnders lonffitudinally perforated. Tlw 
hard substances denote a degree of civilization sii^ 
rior to that of the present inhabitants, who, so ftr 
from being able to cut them, imagine that they m 
naturally soft when taken out of the earth, wk 
harden after they have been moulded by the hsni 
They were found to be jade or saussurite, approach* 
ing to compact felspar, of a colour passmg fron 
apple to emerald green, translucent on the edgei, 
and taking a fine polish ; but the substance usually 
called Amazon-stone in Europe is differetit, being t 
common felspar of a similar colour, coming from ue 
Uralian Mountains and Lake Onego in Russia. 

Connected with this mineral are the warlike we- 
men, whom the travellers of the sixteenth centory 
named the Amazons of the New World; aikl re- 
garding whom Humboldt found no satisfactory a^ 
counts, although he is disposed to believe that their 
existence was not merely imaginary. 

The travellers passed three days at 8an Cailoii 
watching the greater part of each night, in the hope 
ot seizing the moment of the i^aaaage of aome %\m 


orer fhe meridian; but the sky was continually 
obscured by vapours. On the 10th May they em- 
balmed a little before sunrise to go up the Rio Negro. 
Tlie morning was fine, but as the heat increased the 
firmament became darkened. Passing between the 
islai^ of Zaruma and Mibita, covered with dense 
▼egetation, and ascending the rapids of the Piedra 
de Uinumane, they entered the Casiquiare at the 
distance of 9^ miles from the fort of San Carlos. 
The rock at the rapids was granite, traversed by 
numerous veins of quartz several inches broad. The 
night was spent at the mission of San Francisco 
Solano, on the left bank of the Casiquiare. The 
Indians were of two nations, the Pacimonales and 
Cheruvichahenas ; and from the latter the travellers 
endeavoured to obtain some information respecting 
the upper part and sources of the Rio Negro, but 
without success. In one of the huts of the former 
tribe they purchased two large birds, a toucan and a 
macaw, to add to the already considerable stock 
which they possessed. Most of the animals were 
confined in small cages, while others ran at liberty 
aU over the boat. At the approach of rain, the 
macaws uttered frightful screams, the toucan was 
desirous of gaining the shore in order to fish, and 
the little monkeys went in search of Father Zea to 
obtain shelter in his large sleeves. At night the 
leather case containing their provisions w^s placed 
in the centre; then the instruments and cages; 
around which were suspended the hammocks of the 
travellers ; and beyond them the Indians slept, pro- 
tected by a circle of fires to keep off the jaguars. 

On the 11th they left the mission of San Francisco 
Solano at a late hour to make a short day's journey, 
for the vapours had begun to break up, and the trav- 
ellers were unwilling to go far from the mouth of 
the Casiquiare without determining the longitude 
and latitude. This they had an opportunity of doin^ 
it night in the neighbourhood of a boMI^ ^^rac^xj^ 

232 mosquitoks-tINdianb. 

rock, the Piedra di Culimacari, which they found to 
be in lat. a*' C 42" north, and long. 67° 13*^ ae" vMt 
The determination was of great importance in t 
geographical and political point of view, far Um 
greatest errors existed in maps, and the equttor kad 
been considered as the boundary between the Spanirii 
and Portuguese possessions. 

Leaving the Rock of Culimacari at half after one 
in the morning, they proceeded against the cumafti 
which was very rapid. The waters of the Cui- 
quiare are white, and the mosquitoes again con- 
menced their invasions, becoming more numerooa 
as the boat receded from the black stream of the Rio 
Negro. In the whole course of the Casiquiare they 
did not find in the Christian settlements a population 
of 200 individuals, and the free Indians have retired 
from its banks. During a great part of the year the 
natives subsist on ants. At the mission of Manda- 
vaca, which they reached in the evening, they found 
a monk who had spent twenty years in the country, 
and whose legs were so spotted by the stings of 
insects that the whiteness of the skin could scarcely 
be perceived. lie complained of his solitude, and 
the sad necessity which often compelled him to 
leave the most atrocious crimes unpunished. An 
indigenous alcayde, or overseer, had a few years 
before eaten one of his wives, after fattening her by 
good feeding. "You cannot imagine," said the 
missionary, " all the perversity of this Indian family. 
You receive men of a new tribe into the village; 
they appear to be good, mild, and industrious ; but 
suffer them to take part in an incursion to bring in 
the natives, and you can scarcely prevent them from 
murdering all they meet, and hiding some portions 
of the dead bodies." The travellers had m their 
canoe a fugitive Indian from the Guaisia, who in a 
few weeks had become sufficiently civilized to be 
very useful. As he was mild and intelligent, they 
^ud some desire oC taking him into their service ; 



ut discovering that his anthropophagous propensi- 
ies remained, they gave up the idea. He told them 
bat ^hii relations (the ^ople of his tribe) preferred 
bie inaide of the hands in man, as in bears, accom- 
nnyiiig the assertion with gestures of savage joy. 
Although the Indians of the Casiquiare readily 
stum to their barbarous habits, they manifest, while 
1 the missions, intelligence, industry, and a great 
icility in learning the Spanish tongue. As the 
illaiges are usually inhabited by three or four tribes 
rho do not understand each other, the language of 
heir instructer affords a general means of commu- 
ication. The soil on the Casiquiare is of excellent 
uality. Rice, beans, cotton, sugar, and indigo 
brive wherever they have been tried ; but the hu- 
iiidity of the air, and the swarms of insects, oppose 
Jmost insuperable obstacles to cultivation. Im- 
nense bands of white ants destroy every thing that 
romes in their way, insomuch, that when a mis- 
lionary would cultivate salad or any European 
nilinary vegetable, he fills an old boat with soil, and 
laving sown the seeds suspends it with cords, or 
elevates it on posts. 

From the 14th to the 21st the travellers continued 
;o ascend the Casiquiare, which flowed with consid- 
erable rapidity, having a breadth of 426 yards, and 
jordered by two enormous walls of trees hung with 
ianas. No openings could be discovered in these 
fences ; and at night the Indians had to cut a small 
spot with their hatchets to make room enough for 
their beds, it being impossible to remain in the canoe 
3n account of the mosquitoes and heavy rains. 
Great difficulty was experienced in finding wood to 
make a fire, the branches being so full of sap that 
Ihey would scarcely bum. On shore the pothoses, 
arums, and lianas furnished so thick a covering, that 
although it rained violently they were completely 
sheltered. At their last resting-place on the Oasi- 


234 MOUNTAim OF DVIDlik. 

quiare, the jaguars carried off their great dog vUk 
they slept. 

' Oa the Slst May they again entered the cfaional 
of the Orinoco, three leagues below the milHioa of 
Esmeralda. Here the scenery wore a very impoi- 
ing aspect, lofty granitic mountains riaing on fte 
northern iMUik. The celebrated faifurcation of tiia 
river takes place in this manner: The atreamYiMa- 
ing from among the mountains, reaches the opoiif 
of a valley or depression of the ground which te^ 
minates at the Rio Negro, and divides into two 
branches. The principal branch continues its coqite 
towards the west-north-west, turning round the group 
of the mountains of Parime, while the other flowi 
off southward, and joins the Rio Neffro. Bythii 
latter branch our travellers ascended from the river 
Just mentioned, and again entered the Orinoco, four 
weeks after they had left it near the mouth of the 
Guaviare. They had still a voyage of 863 mOei 
to perform before reaching Angostura. 


Route from Esmeralda to Angostura, 

Mission of Esmeralda— Curare Poison — Indians — DiUda Moantata^ 
Descent or the Orinoco— Cave of Ataniipe— Raudalito of Canieari' 
Mission or Uruana— Character of the Otomacs— Clay eaten byllieNfr 
tives— Arrival at Aoftostura— The Travellers attacked by Fvnr—^ 
rocity of the Crocodiles. 

Opposite the point where the division of the river 
takes place, there rises in the form of an amphi- 
theatre a group of granitic mountains, of which the 
principal one bears the name of Duida. It is about 
8500 feet high; and being perpendicular on the 
^uth and west, bare and stouY on the summit, and 


clothed on its less steep declivities with vast forests, 
presents a magnificent spectacle. At the foot of 
this hoffo mass is placed the most solitary and re- 
mote Cnristian settlement on the Upper Orinoco, — 
the mission of Esmeralda, containing eighty inhabit- 
ants. It is surrounded by a beautififl plain, covered 
with grasses of various species, pine-apples, and 
clamps of Mauritia palm, and watered by limpid 

There was no monk at the village ; but the trav- 
ellers were received with kindness by an old officer, 
who, taking them for Catalonian shopkeepers, ad- 
mired their simplicity when he saw the bundles of 
paper in which their plants were preserved, and 
which he supposed they intended for sale. Not- 
withstanding the smallness of the mission three In- 
dian languages were spoken in it : and among the 
inhabitants were some Zamboes, mulattoes, and cop- 
per-coloured people. A mineralogical error gave 
celebrity to Esmeralda, the rock-crystals and chlo- 
ritic quartzes of Duida having been mistaken for 
diamonds and emeralds. The converts live in great 
poverty, and their misery is augmented by prodi- 
gious swarms of mosquitoes. Yet the situation of 
the establishment is exceedingly picturesque ; the 
surrounding country is possessed of great fertility ; 
and plantains, indigo, sugar, and cacao might be pro- 
4u£ed in abundance. 

This village is the most celebrated spot on the 
Orinoco for the manufacture of the curare, a very 
active poison employed in war and in the chase, as 
well as a remedy for gastric obstructions. Erro- 
neous ideas had been entertained of this substance ; 
but our travellers had an opportunity of seeing it 
prepared. When they arrived at Esmeralda, most 
of the Indians had just finished an excursion to 
gather juvias or the fruit of the bertholletia,* and the 

* Tte daUglufta Bma-nnl «r omteBi. 


liana which yields the curare. Their retoni WM 
celebrated by a festival, which lasted several days, 
during which they were in a state of intoxication. 
One less drunk than the rest was employed in pre- 
paring the poison. He was the chjnnist of the place, 
and blasted of his skiU, extoUing the composition » 
superior to any thing that could be made m Europe. 
The liana which yields it is named bejuco, and ap- 
peared to be of the Strychnos family. The branchei 
are scraped with a knife, and the bark that comes off 
is bruised, and reduced to very thin filaments on the 
stone employed for grinding cassava. A cold iofo- 
sion is prepared by pouring water on this fibrous 
mass, in a funnel made of a plantain-leaf roUcd up 
in the form of a cone, and placed in another, some- 
what stronger, made of palm-leaves, the whole sup- 
ported by a slight framework. A yellowish fluid 
filters through the apparatus. It is the venomous 
liquor, which, however, acquires strength only when 
concentrated by evaporation in a large earthen pot. 
To give it consistence it is mixed with a glutinous 
vegetable juice, obtained from a tree named kiraca- 
guera. At the moment when this addition is made 
to the fluid, now kept in a state of ebullition, the 
whole blackens, and coagulates into a substance re- 
sembling tar, or thick syrup. The ciurare may be 
tasted without danger ; for, like the venom of ser- 
pents, it only acts when introduced directly into the 
blood, and the Indians consider it as an excellent 
stomachic. It is universally employed by them in 
hunting, the tips of their arrows being covered with 
it ; and the usual mode of killing domestic fowls is to 
scratch the skin with one of these infected weapons. 
Other species of vegetable poison are manufactured 
in various parts of (iuiana. 

After seehig this composition prepared, the phi- 
losophers accompanied the artist to the festival of 
the juvias. In the hut where the revellers were as- 

'moled, large roaBled moii^e^^\^:&K^iA\v^^Vs^ ^moke 


TT'erc ranged against the wall. Humboldt imagines 
that the habit .of eating animals so much resembling 
man has in some degree contributed to diminish the 
horror of anthropophagy among savages. Apes, 
when thus cooked, and especiaUy such as have a 
▼ery round head, bear a hideous likeneBS to a child ; 
ami for this reason such Europeans as are obliged to 
feed upon them separate the head and hands before 
the dish is presented at their tables. The flesh is 
very lean and dry. 

Among the articles brought by the Indians from 
their expedition were various interesting vegetable 
productions; fruits of different species, reeds up- 
wards of fifteen feet long, perfectly straight and free 
of knots, and bark used for making shirts. The 
women were employed in serving the men with the 
food already mentioned, fermented liquors, and palm- 
cabbage, but were not permitted to join in the fes- 
tivities. Among all the tribes of the Orinoco the 
females live in a sort of slavery, almost the whole 
labour devolving upon them. Polygamy is frequently 
practised, and on the other hand a kind of polyandry 
18 established in places where the fair sex are less 
numerous. When a native who has several wives 
becomes a Christian, the missionaries compel him 
to choose her whom he prefers and to dismiss the 

The summit of Duida is so steep that no person 
has ever ascended it. At the beginning and end of 
the rainy season, small flames, which appear to shift, 
are seen upon it. On this account the mountain has 
been called a volcano, which, however, it is not. The 
granite whereof it is composed is full of veins, some 
of which being partly open, gaseous and inflamma- 
ble vapours may pass through them ; for it is not 
Erobable that the flames are caused by lightning, the 
umidity of the cHmate being such that plants do 
not readily take fire. 

The travellers had an opportunity of seeing at Ea- 

meralda some of the dwarf and Mir' IMi«M,<iil 
ancient traditions had mentioned as Uring i 
sources of the Orinoco. The Guaica8,«r' 
tiye class, whom they measured, wers |n 
from 4 feet lOi to 4 feet Hi inches in hei^; ^i 
was stud thiWie whole tribe was of the aame Mim:\ 
The Gaahariboe8,.or fair Tarietv, were simflarMte ' 
others in form and features, ana differed on^ inliP- 
ing the sldn of a lighter tint. ^ ' 

On the 93d May, the travelle)rs left the miliiM # 
Esmeralda in a state of languor and wnilmii 
caused by the torment of insects, bad nomktaMl^ 
and a long voyafle, performed in a narrow and 6mf 
boat. ^ They had not attempted to ascend the 0» 

noco towards its sources, as the country above 
station was inhabited by hostile Indians ; so tfaifttf 
the two geographical inroblems connected .wl0i^ 
river^ — ^the position oif its sources, and ttuB natnrtv 
its communication with the Rio Ne^rro,— 4her hrf J 
been obliged to content themselves with the solutiol ' 
of the latter. When they embarked they weresm^ 
rounded by the mulattoes apd others who considered 
themselves Spaniards, and who entreated them to 
solicit from the governor of Angostura their retail 
to the llaoos, or at least their removal to the mis* 
sions of the Rio >fegro. Humboldt pleaded the 
cause of these proscribed men at a subsequent pS: 
riod; but his efforts were fruitless. The weather 
was very stormy, and the summit of Duida was en- 
veloped in clouds ; but the thunders which rolled 
there did not disturb the plains. Nor did they, gen- 
erally speaking, observe m the valley of the Orinoco 
those violent electric explosions which almost every 
night, during the rainy season, alarm the traveUer 
alon^ the Rio Magdalena. After four hours^ naviga- 
tion m descending the stream, they arrived at tno 
bifurcation, and reposed on the same beach. of the 
Casiquiare where, a few days before, their dog hid 
>06ii carried off by the \ai^9xa. The cries of theao 


animals were again heard through the whole night. 
The black tiger also occurs in these districts. It is 
celebrated for its strength and ferocity, and appears 
to be larger tlian the other, of which, however, it is 
probably a variety. 

Leaving their resting-place before aonrise, and 
sailing with the current, they passed the mouths of 
the Cunucunumo, Guanami, and Puruname. The 
country was entirely desert, although rude figures 
representing the sun, the moon, and different ani- 
mals are to be seen on the granite rocks ; attesting 
the former existence of a people mere civilized 
than any that they had seen. 

On the 27th May they reached the mission of San 
Fernando de Atabipo, where they had lodged a month 
before on their ascent towards the Rio Negro. The 
president had allowed himself to become very un- 
easy respecting the object of their journey ; and re- 
quested Humboldt to leave a writing in his hands, 
bearing testimony to the good order that prevailed in 
the Christian settlements on the Orinoco, and the 
mildness with which the natives were treated. This, 
however, he declined. From this point they re- 
traced their former route, and passed the cataracts. 
On the 31st, they landed before sunset at the Puerto 
de la Expedicion, for the purpose of visiting the 
cave of Ataruipe, which is the sepulchre of an ex- 
tinct nation. 

" We climbed," says Humboldt, " with difficulty, 
and not without danger, a steep rock of granite, en- 
tirely destitute of soil. It would have been almost 
impossible to fix the foot on this smooth and highly- 
inclined surface, had not large crystals of felspar, 
which had resisted decomposition, projected from 
the rock so as to present points of support. Scarcely 
had we reached the summit of the mountain when 
we were struck with astonishment at the extraordi- 
nary appearance of the surrounding country : — ^The 
foamy bed of the waters was filled with an aicM- 

240 iKPtJLoBaAli cumk , 

* - - 

pelago of islands coyered with palmi^ Towsidsl 
west, on 'the left hank of the Orinoco, «zI€BkM I 
savannas pf the Meta and Casanaxe, like a tea^ 
verdure, the misty horizon of which ^imp Olnmiii 
by the rays of the setting sun. '7Fhe"ni|^itju 

like a glohe^Blf fire stispended over the plain, mil 

solitary peak of Uniana, which appeared more li£r| 
from l>eing wrapped in vapoura that softened ilsoS 
lines, contributed to impress a character of miXm 
ity upon the scene. We looked down into a imf 
valley enclosed on every side. Bieda of nnyiiS 
goatsuckers winged their soUteory way in t£k jam 
cessible circus. We found pleasure in foilowiiV 
their fleeting shadows as they glided slowly a m I hi 
flanks of the rock. 

" A narrow ridge led us towards a neig^teHhf 
mountain, the rounded summit of which s^fiiS 
enormous blocks of granite. These massea ■• 
more than 40 or 50 feet in diameter, and ptmmt% 
form so perfectly spherical, that, as they seem ts 
touch the ground only by a small number of p nint^ 
it might be supposed that the slightest shock of ai 
earthquake would roll them into the abyss. Ids 
not remember to have seen anywhere elae a » m^\mt 
phenomenon amid the decompositions of gnnitie 
deposites. If the balls rested npon a rock of a dif- 
ferent nature, as is the case with the blocks of Jurty 
it might be supposed that they had been rounded by 
the action of water, or projected by the force of aa 
elastic fluid ; but their position on the sununit of a 
hill of the same nature renders it more probibls 
that they owe their origin to a gradual decompon- 
tion of the rock. 

'' The most remote part of the vaBey is covarad 
by a dense forest. In this shady and solitary ptacSf 
on the declivity of a steep mountain, opens the cafe 
of Ataruipe. It is less a cave than a projectinc 
rock, in which the waters have scooped a gfeat hcdh 
^w, when, in the ancient revohitionB of oor plmalf 

81PVLCH&1L CATS. 241 

ley had reached to that height. In this tomb of a 
'hole extinct tribe we soon counted nearly 600 
jLcletons in ^ood preservation, and arranged so 
3gularly that it woiild have been difficult to make 
B error in numbering them. Each skeleton rests 
pen a kind of basket formed of the petioles of 
alms. These baskets, which the natives call ma- 
ires, have the form of a square bag. Their size is 
Toportional to the age of the dead ; and there are 
yen some for infants which had died at the moment 
»f birth. We saw them from ten inches and a half 
o three feet six inches and a half in length. All 
he skeletons are bent, and so entire that not a rib 
)r a bone of the fingers or toes is wanting. The 
K>ne8 have been prepared in three different ways, — 
rhitened in the air and sun, died red with onoto, a 
flouring matter obtained from the Bixa orellana ; 
>r, like mummies, covered with odorous resins, and 
mveloped in leaves of heliconia and banana. The 
Indians related to us that the corpse is first placed 
in the humid earth, that the flesh may be consumed 
t>y degrees. Some months after, it is taken out, and 
the flesh that remains on the bones is scraped off 
with sharp stones. Several tribes of Guiana still 
follow this practice. Near the mapires or baskets 
there were vases of half-burnt clay, which appeared 
to contain the bones of the same family. The 
largest of these vases or funeral urns are three feet 
two inches high, and four feet six inches long. 
They are of a greenish-gray colour, and have an 
ovalibrm, not unpleasant to the eye. The handles 
are made in the form of crocodiles or serpents, and 
the edge is encircled by meanders, labyrinths, and 
grecques, with narrow lines variously combined. 
These paintings are seen in all countries, among 
nations placed at the greatest distances from each 
other, and the most different in respect to civiliza- 
tion. The inhabitants of the little mission of May- 
pores execute them at the present day on theix iqa«1 

MO isnrLOQSAL gavx^ 

pelago of ialandB covered with palma. Towa 
wett, on'the leffbank of the Orinoco, extend 
savannas pf the Meta and Casanare, like a 
verdure, the misty horizon of which was lllun 

Sthe rays of the setting sun. 'The migh 
e a gloMM^ fire sfispended over the plain, 
, solitary peak of Uniana, which appeared moi 
from being wrapped in vapours that softened 
lines, contributed to impress a character of 
ity upon the scene, we looked down into 
valley enclosed on every side. Birds of p 
goatsuckera winged their solitary way in th 
cessible circus. We found pleasure in fc 
their fleeting shadows as they glided slowly 
flanks of the rock. 

"A narrow ridge led us towards a neigl 
mountain, the rounded summit of which si 
enormous blocks of granite. These mai 
more than 40 or 60 feet in diameter, and p 
form so perfectly spherical, that, as they 
touch the ground only by a small number o 
it might be supposed that the slightest sho 
earthquake would roll them into the abyj 
not remember to have seen anywhere else 

Shenomenon amid the decompositions of 
eposites. If the balls rested upon a rock 
ferent nature, as is the case with the blocks 
it might be supposed that they had been ro 
the action of water, or projected by the foi 
elastic fluid ; but their position on the sun 
hill of the same nature renders it more 
that they owe their origin to a gradual de 
tion of the rock. 

« The most remote part of the valley is 
by a dolose forest. In this shady and solitt 
on th^ declivity of a steep mountain, opens 
of AfaX^^' ^^ *® ^®®' ^ ^^^® than a p 
«v»V VI ^^c^ ^^® waters have scooped a g 
^ ^Zm 4MI, in the ancient revolutions of oi 


common pottery. They adorn the shields of fhil 
Otaheitans, the fishing-instruments of the Esquimam; 
the walls of the Mexican palace of Mitla, ^nd the 
vases of Magna Grscia. 

" We opened, to the great concern of our guides, 
several mapires, for the purpose of attentively ex- 
amining the form of the sculls. They all presented 
the characters of the American race,— dwo or three 
only approached the Caucasian form. V/e took 
several sculls, the skeleton of a child of six or seven 
years, and those of two full-grown men, of the na- 
tion of the Atures. AU these bones, some painted 
red, others covered with odorous resins, were placed 
in the mapires or baskets already described. They 
formed nearly the whole lading of a mule ; and, as 
we were aware of the superstitious aversion which 
the natives show towards dead bodies, after tbey 
have given them burial, we carefully covered the 
baskets with new mats. Unfortunately for us, the 
penetration of the Indians, and the extreme delicacy 
of their organs of smell, rendered our precautions 
useless. Wherever we stopped, — in the Carib mis- 
sions, in the midst of the llanos, between Angos- 
tura and New-Barcelona, — the natives collected 
around our mules to admire the monkeys which we 
had brought from the Orinoco. These good people 
had scarcely touched our baggage when they pre- 
dicted the approaching death of the beast of mirden 
*that carried the dead.' In vain we told them that 
they were deceived in their conjectures, that the 
panniers contained bones of crocodiles and laman- 
tins ; they persi:jted in repeating that they smelt the 
resin which surrounded the skeletons, and that * they 
were some of their old relatives.' 

" We departed in silence from the cave of Ata- 
ruipe. It was one of those calm and serene nights 
which are so common in the torrid zone. The stars 
shone with a mild and planetary light ; their scintil- 
lation was scarcely perceptible at the horizon, which 


seemed innminated by the great nebulae of the south- 
ern hemisphere. Multitudes of insects diffused a 
reddish light over the air. The ground, profusely 
covered with plants, shone with those living and 
moving lights as if the stars of the firmament had 
fallen upon the savanna. On leaving the cave, we 
repeateo'.y stopped to admire the beauty of this ex- 
traordinary place. The scented vanilla and festoons 
[>f bignoniae decorated its entrance ; while the sum- 
mit of the overhanging hill was crowned by arrowy 
palm-trees that waved murmuring in the air." 

Similar caves are said to exist to the north of 
the cataracts ; but the tomb^ of the Indians of the 
Orinoco have not been suMciently examined, be- 
cause they do not, like those of Peru, contain 

Tfas travellers staid at the mission of Atures only 
BO lonff as was necessary for the passage of their 
cauoe through the great fdlls. The priest, Bernardo 
Zea, who h^ accompanied them to the Rio Negro, 
remained behind. His ague had not been removed ; 
but its attacks had become an habitual evil, to which 
he now paid little attention. Fevers of a more de- 
stmctive kind prevailed in the estabUshment, inso- 
much that the greater part of the inmates were con- 
fined to their hammocks. Again embarked on the 
Orinoco the travellers ventured to descend the lower 
half of the rapids of Atures, landing here and there 
to climb the rocks, among which the golden manakin 
{Pipra rupicola), one of the most beautiful birds of 
the tropics, builds its nest. At the Raudalito of 
Carucari, they entered some of the caverns formed 
by the piling up of granite blocks, and enjoyed the 
extraordinary spectacle of the river dashing in a 
Bheet of foam over their heads. The boat was to 
coast the eastern bank of a narrow island, and take 
them in after a long circuit ; but it did not make its 
appearance, and night approaching, together with a 
tremendous thunder-storm, M. Bou^lax\ii ^^ ^^~ 

344 ' Ot*T «T« W «■ OWiUC-^ 

sirous of swimming across, in Older to 
ance at Atnes from Father Zea. HnmlMldk Hi 
the other pe^n who was with them dl— ried Vm 
with difficulty from so hazardous an eatei^rise; mi 
shorUv after ^o large crocodiles made tlwhr am^ 
ance^lltracted by the plaintive cries of the mousfL 
At length the Indians arrived with the vassal, mi 
the navigation was continued durii^ pert of te 
night.' At Carichana the missionary received tt«a 
with kindness. Here the traveUers remiiiiied sdmi 
days to recruit their ezhansted streiu^ aad H 
Bonpland had the satisfaction of duseett^f t 

From Carichana they went in two days to tti 
mission of Uruana, the situation of wfaidi ii ai- 
tremely picturesque, the village being plaMd it llf 
foot^of a lofty granitic mouptain, the oolBisv 
rocks appearing at intervals above the,froee, •-'Bhs 
the river is more than 4363 3rards broad, and nos ii 
a straight line directly east. The hamlet is hihabited 
by the Otomacs, one of the rudest of the Ameiicai 
tribes. These Indians swallow quantities of eaitk 
for the purpose of allaying hunger. "When tha 
waters are low they live on fish and tprtles ; bat 
when the rivers swell, and it becomes difficidtto 
procure that food, they eat daily a large pdrtioD of 
clay. The travellers found in tkeir hiits heaps o( it 
in the form of balls, piled up in pyramids tnree or 
four feet high. This substance is fine and nnctoooit 
of a yellowish-gray colour, containing sUica and 
alumina, with three or four per cent, of bme. Being 
a restless and turbulent people, with nntnridled pas- 
sions and excessively given to intoxication, the httle 
village of Uruana is more difficult to govern tiun 
any of the other missions. By inhaling at tb» noss 
the powder obtained from the pods of the Aemm 
niopo they throw themselves into a state of intoii- 
cation bordering on madness, that lasts several dm, 
diuing which dceaM\)iTXi\a^<btaax«GomiBittodi Thl 


most Tiiidictiye cover the nail of the thumb with the 
curate poison, the sUghtest scratch being thus suffi- 
cient to produce death. When this crime is per- 
petrated at night they throw the body into the river. 
" Every time," said the monk, " that I see the wo- 
men fetch water from a part of the shore to which 
they do not usually go for it, I suspect that a murder 
has been committed in my mission." 

On the 7th June the travellers took leave of Father 
Ramon Bueno, whom Humboldt CMlogizes as the 
only one of ten missionaries of Guiana whom they 
had seen who appeared to be attentive to any thing 
that regarded the natives. The night was passed at 
the island of Cucurupara, to the east of which is the 
mouth of the Cano de la Tortuga. On its southern 
bank is the almost deserted station of San Miguel 
de la Tortu^, in the neighbourhood of which, ac- 
cording to the Indians, are otters with a very fine 
fur, and lizards with two feet. 

From the island of Cucurupara to Angostura, the 
capital of Guiana, a distance of little less than 328 
miles, the travellers were only nine days on the 
water. On the 8th June they landed at a farm op- 
posite the mouth of the Apure, where Humbc^dt ob- 
tained some good observations of latitude and longi- 
tude ; and on the 9th met a great number of boats 
laden with goods, on their way to that river. Here 
Don Nicolas Soto, who had accompanied them on 
their voyage to the Rio Negro, took leave and re- 
turned to his family. As they advanced the popu- 
lation became more considerable, consisting almost 
exclusively of whites, negroes, and mulattoes. On 
the 11th they passed the mouth of the Rio Caura, 
near which is a small lake formed in 1790 by the 
sinking of the ground in consequence of an earth- 

2i]ake. The Boca del Infierno and the Randal de 
lamiseta, a series of whirlpools and rapids caused 
by a chain of small rocks, were the only remarkable 
fintures that occurred until they reacbfid Aslq|cmX>qs:^ 


On aniying at the capital, they hastened to pramft 
themselves to Don Felipe de Ynciarte, the gorenoi 
of Guiana, who received them in the most oblignig 
manner. A painful circumstance forced them to 
remain a whole month in this place. They wen 
hoth, a few days after their arrival, attacked by a 
disorder, which In M. Bonpland assumed the cur- 
acter of a typhoid fever. A mulatto servant, wbo 
had attended them from Cumana, was siimlariT 
affected. His death was announced on the ninth 
day ; but he had only fallen into a state of insena- 
bility, which lasted several hours, and was followed 
by a salutary crisis. Humboldt escaped with ft veiy 
violent attack, during which h^ was made to take « 
mixture of honey and the extract of Cortex angotturm. 
He recovered on the following day. His fellow- 
traveller remained in a very alarming state for sevenl 
weeks, but retained sufficient strength of mind to 
prescribe for himself. His fever was incessant, and 
complicated with dysentery ; but, in his case too, the 
issue was favourable. At this period no epidemic 
prevailed in the town, and the air was salubrious ; so 
that the germ of the disease had probably been 
caught in the damp forests of the Upper Orinoco. 

^gostura, so named from its being placed on a 
narrow part of the river, stands at the foot of a hill 
of hornblende-slate destitute of vegetation. The 
streets are regular, and generally parallel to the 
course of the stream. The houses are high, agree- 
able, and built of stone ; although the town is not 
exempt from earthquakes. At the period of this 
visit the population was only 6000. There is little 
variety in the surrounding scenery ; but the view of 
the river is singularly majestic. When the waters 
are high they inundate the quays, and it sometimes 
happens that even in the streets imprudent persons 
fall a prey to the crocodiles, which are very nume- 

Humboldt relates that, at the time of his stay at 

crocodiles; 247 

Angostira, an Indian from the island of Margarita 
having gone to anchor his canoe in a cove where 
there were not three feet of water, a very fierce 
crocodile that frequented the spot seized him by the 
leg and carried him off. With astonishing courage 
he searched for a knife in his pocket, but not finding 
it, thrust his fingers into the animal^s eyes. The 
monster, however, did not let go his hold, but plunged 
to the bottom of the river, and, after drowning his 
victim, came to the surface and dragged the body to 
an island. 

The number of individuals who perish annually 
in this manner is very great, especially in villages 
where the neighbouring grounds are inundated. The 
same crocodiles remain long in the same places, and 
become more daring from year to year, especially, 
as the Indians assert, if they have once tasted human 
flesh. They are not easily killed, as their skin is 
unpenetrable, — ^the throat and the space beneath the 
shoulder being the only parts where a ball or spear 
can enter. The natives catch them with large iron 
hooks baited with meat, and attached to a chain fas- 
tened to a tree. After the animal has struggled for 
a considerable time, they attack it with lances. 

Affecting examples are related of the intrepidity 
of African slaves in attempting to rescne their mas- 
ters from the jaws of these voracious reptiles. Not 
many years ago, in the llanos of Calabozo, a negro, 
attracted by the cries of his owner, armed himself 
with a long knife, and, plunging into the river, forced 
the animal, by scooping out its eyes, to leave its 
prey and take to flight. The natives, being daily 
exposed to similar dangers, think little of them. 
They observe the manners of the crocodile as the 
torero studies those of the bull ; and quietly calcu- 
late the motions of the enemy, its means of*^ attack, 
and the degree of its audacity. 

The general nature of the vast regions bordering 
on the Orinoco may be sufficiently learned from the 


above condensed narrative; and we think it mm 
cessary to follow our learned author through li 
description of that portion of the river which ezten 
from Angostura to its mouths, especially as it iB d 
founded on personal observation. 


Journey across the Llanos to New-Barcelona. 

Departure from Angostura— Village of Car!— Natirea — New- 
Hot Springe— Crocodilea—Paaaage to Cmmana. 

It was night when our travellers for the last tim 
crossed the bed of the Orinoco. They intended t 
rest near the little fort of San Rafael, and in tli 
morning begin their journey over the llanos c 
Venezuela, with the view of proceeding to Cuman 
or New-Barcelona, whence they might sail to th 
island of Cuba, and thence again to Mexico. Thei 
they purposed to remain a year, and to take a passag 
in the galleon from Acapulco to Manilla. 

The botanical and geological collections whic 
they had brought from Esmeralda and the Rio Negi 
had greatly increased their baggage ; and as it woul 
have been hazardous to lose sight of such store 
they journeyed but slowly over the deserts, whic 
they crossed in thirteen days. This eastern part ( 
the llanos, between Angostura and Barcelona, 
similar to that already described on the passage froi 
the valley of Aragua to San Fernando de Apure ; h\ 
the breeze is felt with greater force, although at th 
period it had ceased. They spent the first night i 
the house of a Frenchman, a native of Lyons, wl 
received them with the kindest hospitality. He wj 
employed in joining wood by means of a kind of gh 


^d gnayca, which resembles the best made Arom 
lal substances, and is found between the bark 
alburnum of the Combretum guayca, a kind of 
ping plant. 

1 the third day they arrived at the missions of 
. Some showers had recently revived the vege- 
n. A thick turf was formed of small grasses 

herbaceous sensitive plants, while a few fan- 
is, rhopalas, and malpighias, rose at great dis- 
cs from each other. The humid spots were 
nguishable by groups of mauritias, which were 
ed with enormous clusters of red fruit. The 
1 undulated from the effect of mirage, the heat 

excessive, and the travellers foimd temporary 
;f under the shade of the trees, which had) how- 
', attracted numerous birdie and insects. 
Q the 13th July they arrived at the village of 
, where, as usual, they lodged with the clergy- 
, who could scarcely comprehend how natives 
fie north of Europe should have arrived at his 
lling from the frontiers of Brazil. They found 
e than 500 Caribs in the hamlet, and saw many 
e at the surrounding missions. They were of 
e stature, from five feet nine inches to six feet 
The men had the lower part of the body 
pped in a piece of dark-blue cloth, while the 
len had merely a narrow band. This race differs 
1 the other Indians, not only in being taller, but 

in the greater regularity of their features, in 
ng the nose less flattened, and the cheek-bones 
prominent. The hair of the head is partially 
ren, only a circular tufl being left on the top, — 
stom that might be supposed to have been bor- 
ed from the monks, but which is equally preva- 

among those who have preserved their inde- 
ience. Both males and females are careful to 
unent their persons with paint. The Caribs, 
3 so powerful, now inhabit but a, small part of 
country which they occupied at the time when 

200 OABIB MmiOMk 

America' was discovered. Ther haire be^ 
minated in the West India islands and the 
Darien, but in the provinces of New-] 
Spanish Guiana have formed populous viUageSyi 
the government of the missions. Humboldt itt' 
mates the number inhabiting the llanos 4ii PferitosJ 
and the banks of the Caroni and Cuynni at 
than 35,000, and the total amount of the pure : 

The missionary led the travellers into 
hutS} where they found the greatest order uid 
liness, but were shocked l>y the torments tfait thi 
women inflicted on their infants, for the porposiif 
raising the flesh in alternate bands from ths sddl 
to the top of the thigh ; a practice which the aoqki 
had in vain attempted to abolish. . This ^fect wa 
produced by narrow ligatures. Which seemed ti 
obstruct the circulation of the blood, althoMfa it ii 
not weaken the action of the muscles, llie fin^ 
head, however, was not flattened, but left in iti 
natural form. 

On leaving the mission the philosophers had sobm 
difficulty in settling with their Indian muleteers, who 
had discovered among the baggage the skeletOM 
brought from the cavern of Ataruipe, and were per- 
suaded that the animals which carried such s load 
would perish on the journey. The Rio Can was 
crossed in a boat, and the Rio de Agua Clara br 
fording. The same objects everywhere recurred; 
huts constructed of reeds and roofed with skins; 
mounted men guarding the herds: cattle, horses, 
and mules running half wild. No sheep or goals 
were seen, these animals being unable to escape firoa 
the jaguars. 

On the 15th they arrived at the Villa del Pso^ 
where they found some fruit-trees as well as cocoa- 
palms, which properly belong to the coast. As they 
advanced the sky became clearer, the soil mors 
dusty, and the atmosphere more fiery. The intenas 



knt, however, was not entirely owing to the tem- 

pentore of the air, but arose partly from the fine 

•and mingled with it. On the night of the 16th they 

vested at the Indian village of Santa Cruz de Ca- 

chipo. The warmth had increased so much that 

fliey would have preferred travelling by night ; but 

the country was infested by robbers, who murdered 

the whites that fell into their hands. These were 

aalefactors who had escaped from the prisons on 

the coast and from the missions, and lived in the 

nanos in a manner similar to that of the Bedouin 

Arabs. Those vast plains, Humboldt thinks, can 

hardly ever be subjected to cultivation, although he 

is persuaded that in the lapse of ages, if placed under 

a government favourable to industry, they will lose 

much of the wild aspect which they have hitherto 


After travelling three days they began to perceive 
the chain of the mountains of Cumana, which sepa- 
rates the llanos from the coast of the Caribbean S-'.a. 
It appeared ajt first like a fog-bank, which by de- 
grees condensed, assumed a bluish tint, and became 
bounded by sinuous outlines. Although the llanos 
of Venezuela are bordered on the south by granitic 
mountains, exhibiting in their broken summits traces 
of violent convulsions, no blocks were found scat- 
tered upon them. The same remark is to be made 
in regard to the other great plains of South America. 
These circumstances, as Humboldt remarks, seem 
to prove that the granitic masses scattered over 
the sandy plains of the Baltic are a local phenome- 
noQy and must have originated in some great con- 
vulsion which took place in the northern regions of 

On the 23d July they arrived at the town of New- 
Barcelona, less fatigued by the heat, to which they 
had been so long accustomed, than harassed by the 
sand-wind, that causes painful chaps in the skin. 
They were kindly received by a wealthy merchant 


352 HOT-«ntiireHi---«ftoooMEttk, '\ 

of French extraction, Don Pedro L9mi6; TUbtMl 
was founded in 1037, and in 1800 contained mm 
tkan 10,000 inhabitants. The climate ia not pof W 
as that of Cumana, but very danij^ and in tlieniv 
season rather unhealthy. M. Boi^pland had \ifJm 
time regained his strength and activity, tmt Triarna 
panicm suffered more at Barcelona than be badim 
at Angostura. One of those eztraordinaiy UopkJ 
rains, during which drops of enormona aiaa wit 
sunset, had produced uneafly sensations that 

to threaten an attack of typona, a disease theupMBi 
lent on the coast. They remained nearly a imhi 
at Barcelona, where they found their Mend 
Gonzales, who, hairing resolyed to jo to 
meant to accomp^y them as far as Ooba. 

At the distance of seven iniles to the m 
of New-Barcelona rises a chaini of lofty SMNnMto 
connected with the Cerro del Berffantm, whioMI 
seen from Cumana. When Humbddt's healfli was 
sufficiently restored, the travellers made an exe«- 
sion in that direction, for the purpose of ezamitiiQ| 
the hot-springs in the neighbourhood. These ait 
impregnated with sulphuretted hydrogen, and iasai 
from a quartzose sandstone, lying on a compact hnie* 
stone resembling that of Jura. The temperature of 
the water was 109'8°. Their host had lent thm 
one of his finest saddle-horses, warning them at Uii 
same time not to ford the little river of Narigoalt 
which is infested with crocodiles. They passed 
over by a kind of bridge formed of the trunks of 
trees, and made their animals swim, holding then 
by the bridles. Humboldt's suddeidy disappeared* 
and the guides conjectured that it had been seised 
by the caymans. 

The crocodiles of the Rio Neveri are mimerooi, 
but less ferocious than those of the Orinoco. 1^ 

Eeople of New-Barcelona convey wood to maikst 
y floating the logs on the river, while the propria* 
tors swim here and there to set them looae vrtua 


J are stopped by the banks. This could not be 
9 in most of the South American rivers infested 
hose animals. There is no Indian suburb as at 
lana, and the few natives seen in the town are 
1 the neighbouring missions, or inhabitants of 
i scattereid in the plain. They are of a mixed 
!, indolent, and addicted to drinking, 
he packet-boats from Corunna to Havana and 
aco had been due three months, so that they 
e supposed to have been taken by the {English 
sers ; when our travellers, anxious to reach Cu- 
la, in order to avail themselves of the first op- 
,unity for Vera Cruz, hired an open vessel. It 

laden with cacao, and carried on a contraband 
le with the island of Trinidad ; for which reason 
proprietor thought he had nothing to fear from 
British ; but they had scarcely reached the nar- 

channel between the continent and the islands 
torracha and the Chimanas, when they met an 
ed boat, which, hailing them at a great distance, 
1 some musket-shot at them. It belonged to a 
ateer of Halifax, and the travellers were forth- 
i carried on board ; but while Humboldt was ne- 
ating io the cabin, a noise was heard upon deck, 

something was whispered to the master, who 
antly left him in consternation. An English 
»p of war, the Hawk, had come up, and made 
lals to the latter to bring to ; which he not having 
nptly obeyed, a gun was fired, and a midshipman 
t to demand the reason. Humboldt accompanied 

oflicer to the sloop, where Captain Gamier re- 
^ed him with the greatest kindness. Next day 
y continued their voyage, and at nine in the 
•ning reached the Gulf of Cariaco. The castle 
$an Antonio, the forest of cactuses, the scattered 
9 of tlie Guayquerias, and all the features of a 
Iscape well known to them, rose upon the view ; 

as they landed at Gumana they were greeted by 
ir numerous friends, who were oNeT\()^^ V^ ^oA 


untrue a report of their death on the Orinoco, wfaidt 
had been current for several months, llie port wo 
every day more strictly blockaded, and the vain ex- 
pectation of Spanish packets retained tiiem two 
months and a half longer ; during which time they 
occupied themselves in completing their investin- 
tion of the plants of the country, in examining ue 
geology of the eastern part of the peninsula of Arm 
and in making astronomical observations, togetner 
with experiments on refraction, evaporation, and at- 
mospheric electricity. They also sent off some of 
their more valuable collections to France. 

Having been informed that the Indians bronriit to 
the town considerable quantities of native sdumfoand 
in the mountains, they made an excursion for the 
purpose of ascertaining its position. Disembarking 
near Cape Caney they inspected the old salt-pit, now 
converted into a lake by an irruption of the sea, the 
ruins of the castle of Araya, and the limestone- 
mountain of iJarigon, which contained fossil shells 
in perfect preservation. When they visited thai 
peninsula the preceding year, there w^as a dreadful 
scarcity of water. But during their absence on the 
Orinoco it had rained abundantly on various parts 
along the coast; and the remembrance of these 
showers occupied the imagination of the natives a.s 
a f;dl of meteoric stones would engage that of the 
naturalists of V^urope. 

Their Indian guide was ignorant of the situation 
of the alum, and tht*y wandert^d for eight or nine 
hours among the rocks, which consisted of mica- 
slate passing into clay-slate, traversed by veins of 
({uartz, and containing small beds of graphite. At 
length, descending towards the northern coast of 
the peninsula, they foimd the substance for which 
they were searching, in a ravine of very difficult ar- 
cess. Here the mica-slate suddenly changed into 
carburetted and shining clay-slate, and the springs 
were impregnated with yellow oxide of iron. The 


sides of the neighbouring cliffs were covered with 
capillary crystals of sul^mate of alumina, and real 
beds two inches thick of native ^um, extended in 
the day-slate as far as the eye could reach. The 
fomiation appeared to be primitive, as it contained 
cyanite, rutile, and garnets. 

Retimiing to Cumana, they made preparations for 
their departure, and availing themselves of an Ameri- 
can vessel, laden at New-Barcelona for Cuba, they 
set out on the 16th November, and crossed for the 
third time the Gulf of Cariaco. The night was cool 
and delicious, and it was not without emotion that 
they saw for the last time the disk of the moon illu- 
minating the summits of the cocoa-trees along the 
banks of the Manzanares. The breeze was strong, 
and in less than six hours they anchored near the 
Monro of New-Barcelona. 

The continental part of the New World is divided 
between three nations of European origin, of which 
one, the most powerful, is of Germanic race, and 
the two others belong to Latin Europe. The latter 
are more numerous than the former ; the inhabitants 
of Spanish and Portuguese America constituting a 
population double that of the regions possessed by 
the English. The French, Dutch, and Danish pos- 
sessions of the New Continent are of small extent, 
and the Russian colonies are as yet of little impor- 
tance. The free Africans of Hayti are the only 
other people possessed of territory, excepting the 
native Indians. The British and Portuguese colo- 
nists have peopled only the coasts opposite to Eu- 
rope ; but the Spaniards have passed over the Andes, 
and made settlements in the most western provinces, 
where alone they discovered traces of ancient civili- 
zation. In the eastern districts the inhabitants who 
fell into the hands of the two former nations were 
wandering tribes of hunters, while in the remoter 
parts the Spaniards found agricultural states and 
^urishing empires ; and these circumstances have 


greatly influenced the present condition of fheie 
countries. Among other instances may be men- 
tioned the ahnost total exclusion of African ahifei 
from the latter colonies, and the comfortaUe con- 
dition of the natives of American race, who live by 
agriculture, and are governed by European laws. 

But with respect to the political constitatioii and 
relations of the provinces visited by the trayefleni 
it is not expedient here to enter into the detaik' 
which they have given, more especially as those 
colonies have lately undergone revolutions fhathafO 
converted them into independent states, the history 
of which would afford materials for many voluinot. 
The very interesting sketch of the physical con- 
stitution of South America presented by Hfmiboklt 
must also be passed over, because^ in the condensed 
form to which it would necessarily be reduced, it 
could not aiford an adequate idea of the subject. We 
must therefore, with our travellers, take leave of 
Terra Firnia, and accompany them on their passage 
to HavHna. 


Passage lo Havana, and Residence in Cuba. 

Pasmge from New-Barcelona to Havana— Oeacription of the latter— Ex- 
tont of (;iiba— (feoloeical (^oiiRtitution— Vegetation — C^liiuate— PofHila- 
tion— Agriculture — Exports — Preparations for Joining (^-airtain Baudin'i 
Expedition— Journey to Hatabano, and Voyage to Trinidad d« Cuba. 

Humboldt and his companion sailed from the Roatl 
of New- Barcelona on the aith November at nine in 
the eveninjr, and nt^xt day at noon reached the islami 
of Tortuffa, remarkable for its lowness and want of 
vegetation. On the 26th tiiere was a dead calm, 
and about nine in tlie morning a fine halo formed 


round the sun, while the tenipf rature of the air fell 
three degrees. The cireh- t»f this meteor, which 
was one deg^e in hreadth. displayed the most beau- 
tiful colours of the rainbow, while its interior and 
the whole vault of the sky was azure without the 
least haze. The sea was covered with a bluish scum, 
which under the microscope appeared to be formed 
of filaments, that seemed to be frasrments of fuci. 
On the 87th they passed near the island of Orchila, 
composed of j^neiss and covered with plants, and 
towards sunset discovered the summits of the Roca 
de Afuera, over which the clouds were accumulated. 
Indications of stormy weather increased, the waves 
rose, and waterspouts threatened. On the niifht of 
the 2d December a curious optical phenomenon pre 
sented itself. Thp full moon was very high. On 
its side, forty-five minutes before its passage over 
the meridian, a great arc suddenly appeared, having 
the prismatic colours, but of a gloomy aspect. It 
SHemed higher than the moon, had a breadth of 
nearly two degrees, and remained stationary for 
several minutes : after which it gradually descended, 
and sank below the horizon. The sailors w^ere filled 
witii astonishment at tliis moyinc: arch, which they 
supposed to announce wind. Next night M. Bon- 
pland and several passentrers saw, at the distance of 
a quarter of a mile, a small flame, which ran on the 
surface of the sea towanls the south-west, and illu- 
minated the atmosphere. On the 4th and 6th they 
encountered rouirh weather, with hea\'y rain, ac- 
companied by thunder, and were in considerable 
danger on the bank of Vibora. At length, on the 
19th, they anchored in the port of Havana, after a 
lioistcroiis passage of twenty-five days. 

Cuba is tlie largest of the West India islands, and 
on account of its great fertility, its naval establish- 
ments, the nature of its population — of which three- 
ftilhs are compose<i of freemen, — and its geographi- 
cal position, is of great political imrtortance. Of all 

\ 2 

* ' 

858 ' * HATAMA. ^ 

, the Spamsh colonies it is that which baa liM»tpn» 
per^ ; insomuch, that not only has ita revanne nP 
ficed for its own wants, but during the ati^H^ 
between the mother-country and her coathwntil 
provinces, it furnished considerable aoma to ths 
» former. f I 

The appearance, which Havana jpreaeofca at thi 
entrance of the port js exceedingly beantifiil aid 
picturesque. The opening is only abotat 486yaBAi 
wi?Se, defended by fortifications ; after which abanif 
upwards of two miles in its greatest diameleri aid 
communicating with* three creeks, expanda to tha 
view. The city is built on a jiromontory, bwmded 
on the north by the fort of La Punta, and on tha 
south by the arsenals. On the western aide it is 
protect^ by two castles, placed at the diatanoe of 
1407 and 3643 yards, the mtermediate since bnif 
^occupied by the suburbs. The public edificea ne 
^less remarkable for their beauty than for the soli^ 
of their construction, and the streets are in genera 
narrow and impaved, in consequence of which they 
are extremely dirty and disagreeable. But there 
are two fine public walks to which the inhabitabts 

Although the town of Havana, properly so called, 
is only 1918 y<irds long and 1066 broad, it con- 
tains more than 44,000 inhabitants. The two great 
suburbs of Jesu-Maria and the Salud accommodate 
nearly an equal population. In 1810 the amount 
was as follows : — 

Whites 4I,n7 

Free Pardee, or copper-coloured men . . 0,743 ) oa aja 

Free Blacks I«,fl0« J ••" **»'" 

Pardos Slaves ^MT ) ^m^ 

Blaok Slaves 90,4S1S ""^^^ 

There are two hospitals in the town, the nmiiber 
of sick admitted into which is considerable. Owinf 


to the heat of the ch'mate, the filtli of the town, and 
the influence of the shore, there is usually a great 
acciimulation of disease, and the yellow fever or 
black vomiting is prevalent. The markets are well 

A peculiar character is given to the landscape in 
the vicinity of Havana by the pahna real {Oreo- 
doxe regia), the trunk of which, enlarged a little to- 
wards tne middle, attains a height varying from 60 
to 85 feet, and is crowned by pinnated leaves rising 
perpendicularly, and curved at the point. Numerous 
country-houses of light and elegant construction 
surround the bay, to whicli the proprietors retreat 
when the yellow fever rages in the town. 

The island of Cuba is nearly as large as Portugal ; 
its greatest length being 783J miles, and its mean 
breath 51 J miles. More than four-fifths of its ex- 
lent is composed of low lands ; but it is traversed 
in various directions by ranges of moimtsuns, the 
highest of which are said to attain an altitude of 
7674 feet. Tlie western part consists of granite, 
gneiss, and primitive slates ; which, as well as the 
central district, contains two formations of compact 
limestone, one of argillaceous sandstone, and an- 
other of gypsum. The first of these presents large 
caves near Matanzas and Jaruco, and is filled with 
numerous species of fossils. The secondary forma- 
tions to the east of the Havana are pierced by 
syenitic and euphotide rocks, accompanied with ser- 
pentine. No volcanic eruptions, properly so called, 
have hitherto been discovered. 

Owing to the cavernous structure of the limestone 
deposites, the great inclination of their strata, the 
small breadth of the island, and the frequency and 
nakedness of the plains, there are very few rivers of 
any magnitude, and a large portion of the territory 
is subject to severe droughts. Yet the undulating 
surface of the country, the continually renewed ver- 
dure, and the distribution of vegetable forms, give 


rise to the most varied and beautiful landscapes. 
The hills and savannas are decorated by palms uf 
several species, trees of other families, and shrubs 
constantly covered with flowers. Wild orangre-trees 
ten or fifteen feet in height, and bearing a small fhiit, 
are common, and probably existed before the intro- 
duction of the cultivated variety by Europeans. A 
specie^ of pine (Pinus occidentalii) occurs here and 
in St. Domingo, but has not been seen in any of the 
other West India islands. 

The climate of Havana, although tropical, is 
marked by an unequal distribution of heat at different 
periods of the year, indicating a transition to the 
climates of the temperate zone. The mean tem- 
perature is 78-3°, but in the interior only 73-4°. Tlie 
hottest months, July and August, do not give a 
greater average than 8^*4°, and the coldest, Decem- 
ber and January, present the mean of 69'8°. In 
summer the thermometer does not rise above 88® 
or 86°, and its depression in winter so low as 50® or 
63-5° is rare. When the north wind blows several 
weeks, ice is sometimes formed at night at a little 
distance from the coast, at an inconsiderable eleva- 
tion above the sea. Yet tlie great lowerings of 
temperature which occasionally take place are of so 
short duration, that the palm-trees, bananas, or the 
sugar-cane do not suffer from them. Snow never 
falls, and hail so rarely that it is only observed dur- 
ing thimder-storms, and with blasts from the S.S.\V. 
once in fifteen or tw(inty years. The changes how- 
ever are very rapid, and the inhabitants complain 
of cold when the thermometer falls quickly to 70°. 
Hurricanes are of much less frequent occurrence in 
Cuba than in the other West India islands. 

In 1817 tlie population was estimated at 630,980. 
There were iJJ)0,0-21 whites, I15,6i)l free copper- 
coloured men, and '2*25,i208 slaves. The original 
inhabitants have entirely disappeared, as in all the 
other West India islands. Intellectual cultivation 


is aknost entirely restricted to the whites; and 
although in Havana the first society is not per- 
ceptibly inferior to that of the richest commercial 
cities in Europe, a rudeness of manners prevails in 
the small towns and plantations. 

The common cereal grasses are cultivated in 
Cuba, together with the tropical productions peculiar 
to these countries ; but the principal exports consist 
of tobacco, coffee, sugar, and wax. The sugar-cane 
is planted in the rainy season, from July to October, 
and cut from Februaiy to May. The rapid diminu- 
tion of wood in the island has caused the want of 
fuel to foe felt in the manufacture of sugar, and 
Humboldt, during his stay, attempted several new 
constructions with the view of diminishing the ex- 
penditure of it.* 

The tobacco of Cuba is celebrated in every part 
of Europe. The districts which produce the most 
aromatic kind are situated to the west of the 
Havana, in the Vuelta de Abago ; but that grown 
to the east of the capital on the banks of the Mayari, 
in the province of Santiago, at Himias, and in other 
places, is also of excellent quality. In 1827 the 
produce was about 113,*214 cwts., of which 17,888 
were exported. The value of this commodity 
shipped in 1828 was 105,991/. 13^. 4d., and in 1829, 
142,910/. Cotton and indigo, although cultivated, 
are not to any extent made articles of commerce. 

Towards the end of April the travellers, having 
finished the observations which they had proposed 
to make, were on the point of sailing to Vera Cruz ; 
but intelligence communicated by means of the 
public papers respecting Captain Bandings expedi- 
tion, led them to relinquish the project of crossing 

* By tbe eastom-hoiue recams, 156,I58,U94 lb«. of sugar wne ex- 
ported (torn Cuba in 1^^ ; and if the quantity smuggled be estimated at 
ooe-tNurtb more, the total arooant would be nearly 800,000,000 lbs. In 
tbe same year tbe expottotioD of coffee amounted to upwards of 
fl(MX)0,000 lbs., but it has since fidlen off considerably. —See Macculloeh'9 
Diet, of Commeroef art. Havana. 


Mexico in order to proceed to the Philippine Islands. 
It had been announced that two French vessel tht 
Geographe and the Naturaliste, had sailed for Cipe 
Horn, and that they were to go along the coait of 
Chili and Peru, and from thence to New-HoUani 
Humboldt had promised to join them whererer he 
could reach the ships, and M . Bonpland resolved to 
divide their plants into three portions, one of which 
was sent to Germany by way of England, another 
to France by Cadiz, and the third left in Cuba. 
Their friend Fray Juan Gonzales, an estimable 
young man, who had followed them to the HaTsna 
on his way to Spain, carried part of their collections 
with him, including the insects found on the Orinoco 
and Rio Negro; but the vessel in which he em- 
barked foundered in a storm on the coast of Africa. 
General Don Gonzalo O'Farrill being then in Prussia 
as minister of the Spanish court, Huixlboldt was en- 
abled, through the agency of Don Ygnacio, the 
general's brother, to procure a supply of money; 
and having made all the necessary preparations for 
the new enterprise, freighted a Catalonian sloop for 
Porto Bello, or Carthagena, according as the wea- 
ther should permit. 

On the 6th of March the travellers, finding that 
the vessel was ready to receive them, set out for 
Batabano, where they arrived on the 8th. This is 
a poor vilhige, surrounded by marshes, covered with 
nishes and plants of the Iris family, among which 
appear here and there a few stunted palms. The 
marshes are infested by two species of crocodile, 
one of which has an elongated snout, and is very 
ferocious. The back is dark-green, the belly white, 
and the flanks are covered witli yellow spots. 

On the 9th March ourtravelhTs again set sail inn 
small sloop, and proceeded tlirough the (Julf of Ba- 
tabano, which is boundt'd by a low and swampy 
coast. Humboldt eniph)yrd himself in examining 
the influence which tlie bottom of the sea produces 


on the temperature of its surface, and in determin- 
ing the position of some remarkable islands. The 
water of the gulf was so shallow, that the sloop 
oft^t struck; but the ground being soft and the 
weaUiet calm, no damage was sustained. At sunset 
they anchored near the pass of Don Cristoval, which 
was entirely deserted, although in the time of Co- 
faunbus it was possessed by fishermen. The inhab- 
itants of Cuba then employed a singular method for 
procuring turtles ; they fastened a long cord to the 
tail of a species of eckineis or sticking-fish, which 
has a flat dlisk, with a sucking apparatus on its head. 
By means of this it stuck to the turtle, and was 
palled ashore, carrying the latter with it. The same 
artifice is resorted to by the natives of certain parts 
of the African coast. 

They were three days on their passage through 
the archipelago of the Jardines and Jardinillos, 
small islands and shoals partly covered with vegeta- 
tion : remaining at anchor during the night, and in 
the day visiting those which were of most easy ac- 
cess. The rocks were found to be fragmentary, 
consisting of pieces of coral, cemented by carbon- 
ate of lime, and interspersed with quartzy sand. On 
the Cayo Bonito, where they first l^uided, they ob- 
served- a layer of sand and broken shells five or six 
inches thick, cove'ring a formation of madrepore. It 
was shaded by a forest of rhizophorae, intermixed 
with euphorbiae, gnisses, and other plants, together 
with the magnificent Tournefortia gnaphalioides, with 
silvery leaves and odoriferous flowers. The sailors 
had been searching for langoustes;* but not finding 
any, avenged themselves on the young pehcans 
perched on the trees. The old birds hovered around, 
uttering hoarse and plaintive cries, and the young 
defended themselves with vigour, although in vain ; 
for the sailors, armed with sticks and cutlasses, 

* A kind of ■hiimp, or i«bat«r. 


\ '■" 


made crael haTOc among them. ^.Chi oar 
says Humboldt, ^ a nofomid calm pnif;}riW 
little spot of leurth; iNit now eveiy thipf 
say,— Man has passed here.'* . v... 

On the mormng of the 11th they ▼ifiitttd flwupi 
Flamenco, the centre, of which is dcpwsssi^ Vil 
only 16 inches above the surface of the era. lb 
water was brackish, while in other eayom it iiflHl 
fresh; a circumstance dtftodt to be accoamteifti 
in small islands scanty elevated above tlw 
uidess the springs be sopposed to cchho fri 
neighbouring coast b^ means of hydrootatie . 
sure. Hunmoldt was informed by Don Fraaciirab 
Maur, that in the Bay of Xagua, to the eaatit Iks 
Jardinillos, fresh water gushes im in several |Im« 
from the bottom with such force as to prove drnfj/t 
ous for small canoes. Vessels 'sometimes take ii 
supidiea from them; and the lamaatins, or Imi^ 
water cetacea, abound in the neighbourliood. 

To the east of Cape Flamenco they passed elm 
to the Piedras de Diego Perez, and in the eveuii 
landed at Cayo de Piedras, two rocks fomuy 
the eastern extremity of the Jardinillos, on whid 
many vessels are lost. They are nearly destitvto 
of shrubs, the shipwrecked crews having cut then 
down to make signals. Next day, turning round ths 
passage between the northern cape of the Cayo vd 
the island of Cuba, they entered a sea free fiom 
breakers, and of a dark-blue colour ; the increase of 
temperature in which indicated a great augmenti' I 
tion of depth. The thermometer was at 79*9^; 
whereas in the shoal-water of the Jardinillos it hil 
been seen as low as 72*7^, the air being from 77^ to 
80*6° during the day. Passing in succession Iks 
marshy coast of Camareos, the entrance of ths 
Bahia de Xagua, and the mouth of the Rio San JMi^ 
along a nak^ and desert coast, they entered on At 
14th the Rio Guaurabo to land their pilot. DiasM- 
barking in the evening, they made preparations Ibr 


observing the passage of certain stars over the me- 
ndian, bat werelnterrnpted by some merchants that 
had dined on board a foreign ship newly arrived, and 
who invited the strangers to accompany them to the 
town ; which they did, mounted two and two on the 
saipe horse. The road to Trinidad is nearly five 
miles in length, over a level plain, covered with a 
beautiful vegetation, to which the Miraguama palm, 
a species of corjrpha, gave a pecuhar character. 
The houses are situated on a steep declivity, about 
746 feet above the level of the sea, and command a 
magnificent view of the ocean, the two ports, a 
forest of palms, and the mountains of San Juan. The 
travellers were received with the kindest hospitality 
Ir^ the administrator of the Real Hacienda, M. Mu- 
noz. The Teniente Govemador, who was nephew 
to the celebrated astronomer Don Antonio Ulloa, 
gave them a grand entertainment, at which they met 
with some French emigrants of Saint Domingo. 
The evening was passed very agreeably in the house 
of <me of the richest inhabitants, Don Antonio Pa- 
drorij where they found assembled all the select 
company of the place. Their departure was very 
nnlike their entrance ; for the municipality caused 
them to be conducted to the mouth of the Rio Gu- 
amrabo in a splendid carriage, and an ecclesiastic 
dressed in velyet celebrated in a sonnet their voyage 
up the Orinoco. 

The population of Trinidad, with the surrounding 
forms, was stated to be 19,000. It has two ports at 
the distance of about four miles. Puerto Casilda 
and Puerto Guaurabo. On their return to the latter 
of these the travellers were much struqk by the 
prodigious number of phosphorescent insects which 
inmninated the grass and foliage. These insects 
iSlaUr noctilucus) are occasionally used for a lamp, 
oeuig placed in a calabash perforated with holes ; 
md a young woman at Trinidad informed them that, 



daring a long pusapie fh>m the nnidnidi iri» ilv^ 
had recoune to this tight when ahe gsta iMr«Ui 
the breast at ni|ht,the captain not tOomriag mg 
other on board, lorfear of pirates. 


Voyage Jram Cuba to Cartkagemm. 

PaMMge fkom Trinidad of Cuta to 
—Village of Turboeo— Air- 
Rift Macdataa. 

Leayino the island of Cuba, the traveOsn 
ceeded in a S.S.E. direction, and on the nMmhwif 
the 17th approached the group of the little Ok^ 
mans, in the neighbourhoc^ of which theyanrM" 
merous turtles of extraordinary size, aecompiiiiei 
by multitudes of sharks. Passing a secondtat 
over the great bank of Vibora, they remarked till 
the colour of the troubled waters upon it was of i 
dirty-gray, and made observations on the changMof 
temperature at the surface j[Hrodaced by the THyini 
depth of the sea. On quittmg this shoal they saM 
between the Baxo Nueva and the lighthouse of Gmi- 
boy. The weather was remarkably fine, ani Ito 
surface of the bay was of an indigo-blue, or violBt 
tint, on account of the medusae which covered it 
Haloes of small dimensions s^peared'ioimd ths 
moon. The disappearance of one of them was IM- 
lowed by the formation of a great black ctai 
which emitted some drops of rain ; bat tiie ikr 
soon resumed its serenity, and a long series of M* 
ing-stars and fireballs were seen moving in a dif i» 
tion contrary to the wind in the lower reskMiiOf Iks 
atmosphere, which blew from the MNrtE. Dmi 


fke whole of the 23d March not a single cloud was 
■een in the finnament, although the air and the hori- 
lon were tinged with a fine red colour ; but towards 
evening large bluish clouds formed, and when they 
disappeared, converging bands of fleecy vapours were 
8een at an immense height. On the 24th they en- 
tered the kind of gulf bounded by the shores of Santa 
Martha and Costa Rica, which is frequently agitated 
1^ heavy gales. As they advanced towaMs the 
coast of Darien the north-east wind increased to a 
Tiolent degree, and the waves became very rough at 
night. At sunrise they perceived part of the archi- 
p^ago of St. Bernard, and passing the southern ex- 
tremity of the Placa de San Bernardo, saw in the 
distance the mountains of Tigua. The stormy 
weather and contrary winds induced the master of 
the yessel to seek shelter in the Rio Sinu, after a 
ptssage of sixteen days. 

Landing again on the continent of South America, 
tfaey betook themselves to the village of Zapote, 
where they found a great number of sailors, all men 
of cdoor, who had descended the Rio Sinu in their 
bariw, canying maize, bananas, poultry, and other 
articles, to the port of Carthagena. The boats are 
flat-bottomed, and the wind having blown violently 
on the coast for ten days, they were unable to pro- 
ceed on their voyage. These people fatigued the 
tra:vellers virith idle questions about their books and 
instruments, and tried to frighten them with stories 
of boas, vipers, and jaguars. Leaving the shores, 
which are covered with Bhizophora, they entered a 
forest remarkable for the great variety of palm- 
trees which it'presented. One of them, the JElais 
wuitmoeoccoy is only six feet four inches high, but its 
■paths contain more than 200,000 flowers, a single 
specimen furnishing 600,000 at the same time. Tlie 
kernels of the fruit are peeled in water, and the layer 
oC oil that rises from them, after being purified by 

boiling, yields the mantecade ooroao, wbkAi tewrf 
for lif^ting churches and houses. 

Aftsr an hour's walk they found aeferal 
ants collecting palm-wine. The tree wlunA 
this liquid is the Palma doke qt Coe^ 
The trunk, which diminishes but little towiMstti 
summit, is first cut down, when an ezccvittM 
ei^teen inches long, eight broad, and six ^ depK 
is made below the place at which the leffffm wA 
spathae come off. After three dajrs tiie cafilf ti 
found filled with a yellowish-white juice, hifte a 
sweet and vinous flaTOur, which ccmtiniiee to ■« 
eighteen or twenty days. The last that comes iita 
sweet, but having a greater quantity df jAcohio^ it li 
more^ highly esteemed. On their way bttcik te^lhl 
shore they met with Zattibos canying on theinieih' 
' ders cylinders of palmetto three feet iii leqgfl^if 
which an excellent food is prepared. Niglik ai^• 
prised them ; and, having broken all oer ui 
ing on board, they found some difficulty in 
the vessel. 

The Rio Slmi is of the highest importance for pio- 
visioning Carthagena. The gold-washings wmdi 
were formerly of great value, especially between its 
source and the village of San Geronimo, have almoit 
entirely ceased, although the province of Antioquia 
still furnishes, in its auriferous veins, a vast fieldfor 
mining speculations. It would, however, be of moie 
importance to direct attention to the cidtivatioii of 
colonial produce in those districts, especially thst 
of cacao, which is of superior quality. The rod 
febrifuge Cinchona also grows at the source of Die 
r^ Rio Sinu, as well as in the mountains of Abib6 and 
Maria ; and the proximity of the port of GaHhageaa 
would enhance its value in the trade with Euiepe. 
On the 27th March the sloop weighed anchor at 
sunrise. The sea was less agitata, although the 
wind blew as before. To the north was seen a mt^ 
cession of small conical mountains, rising in the 

4rAidMjOf MrirBDoas, where the btdbnmi of To^ 
^ily M^eMmted as a medicament, is still ffathered. 
On hfudag the Gidf of Morosquillo they.fouid the 
w«fw smQiiig so hidi, that the ci^ytain was glad to 
.seek fiir riieiter, andlay-to on the north of the vil- 
lifeof Bmocm; but discovering that they were upon 
a ooffd lock, they preferred the open water, and 
ftttlhr »Mdiored near the isle of Arenas, on the night 
of toe Mfa. Next day the gale ble\r with great 
▼ioleiice ; but they agam proceeded, hoping to be 
abia to reach the Boca Gmca. The jtoa was so 
mq^ as to break over the deck, and while they 
wore nmniiig short tacks, a false numceuvre in set- 
tinf' tiie sails exposed them for some minutes to im- 
■ineat daaser. It was Palm Sunday; and a Zam- 
bOy wiK» hM followed them to the Orinoco and re- 
aniiiedifttheirservice until they returned to France, 
did not fiul to remind them, that on the same day 
ttie pracediiiff year they had undergone a similar 
duyer near tne mission of Uruana. After this they 
tooCieftige in acreek of the isle of Baru. 

4* thttre was to be an eclipse of the moon that 
nii^ and next day an occuttytion of « Virginis, 
BEamMdt insisted ihat the ci^ytain should allow one 
oC tlia sailon to accompany him by land to thcBoca 
diicn, the distance bemg only six miles ; but the 
latter leftised, on account of the savage state of the 
oqnitry, in iirtiich there was neither path itor hab- 
italum; and an incident which occurred justified his 
pvudenoe. The travellers were going ashore to 
other plants by moonlight, when &ere issued from 
&e tUcket a young negro loaded with fetters, and 
ttmed with « cutlass. He urged them to disendMik 
on n beach covered with la^ Rkixopharm among 
which the sea did not break, and offered to conduct 
tbem to the interior of the island of Baru if they 
wonid give him some clothes ; but his cunmnff and 
Hvage air, his repeated inquiries as to their being 
Sptmards, and the minteiligihle words addressed to 



1t70 ciRTa4eBHA« , 

his companions, who were concealed waumg %^ 
trees, excited their suspicions, and indnced ttaati 
return on board. These blacks were prdbriiiylh- 
roon negroes, who had escaped from-priaoii. Ihi 
appearance of a naked man, wandering oa afli^ 
habited shore, and unaUe to rid himself of the chM 
fastened round his neck and arm, left VLpaaaaM it^ 

Eression on the travellers ; but the sailon Mt m 
ttle 83rmpathy with 'these miseraUe creatiire%llift 
they wished to return and seize the fiigitifH^ ll 
order to sell them at Oarthagena. 

Next morning they doubled the Ponta 
and made sail toward the Boca Chica, the 
to the port of Carthagena, which is eigfat or 
miles farther up. On landing, Humboldt Um 
that the expedition appointed to make a am wff<f 
the coast under the command of M. FidilgO ■! 
not yet put to sea, and this circoniBtance eMftM 
him to ascertain the astronomical position of ■ c w wl 
places which it was of importance to determine. 

During the six days of their stay at CarthagflMi 
they made excursions in the neinibourhood, non 
especially in the direction of the Boca Grandia, wtt 
the hill of Popa, which commands the town, lie 
port or bay is nearly eleven miles and a half long. 
The small island of Tierra Bomba, at its two ei- 
tremities, which approach, the one to a neck o[ hod 
from the continent, the other to a cape of the vk 
of Bani, forms the only entrance to the haibow. 
One of these, named Boca Grande, has been aitii- 
cially closed, for the defence of the tovm, in COBM- 
quence of an attack attended with ^rtial snceeM 
made by Admiral Vernon in 1741. The extent of 
the work was 2640 varas, or 3446 yards, and as tka 
water was from 16 to 90 feet deep, a wall or dike ol 
stone, from IG to 21 feet high, was rabed on pite 
The other opening, the Boca Chica, is from 30 to 38 
yards oroad, but is daily becoming narrower, fHuto 
the currents acting upon the Boca Grande iMft 


-opened a breach in it, which they are continually 

The insalubrity of Carthagena, which has been 
exagfferated, varies with the state of the great 
marshes that surround it. The Cienega de Tesca, 
which is upwards of eighteen miles in length, com- 
municates with the ocean ; and, when in dry years 
the salt-water does not cover the whole plain, the 
exhalations that rise from it during the heat of the 
day become extremely pernicious. The hilly ground 
in the neighbourhood of the town is of limestone, 
containing petrifactions, and is covered by a gloomy 
vegetation of cactus, Jatropha gossypifolia, croton, 
and mimosa. While the travellers were searchmg 
for plants, their guides showed them a thick bush 
of acacia comigera, which had acquired celebrity 
from the following occurrence : A woman, wearied 
of the well-founded jealousy of her husband, bound 
him at night with the assistance of her paramour, 
and tlurew him into it. The thorns of this species 
of acacia are exceedingly sharp, and of great length, 
and the shrub is infested by ants. The more the 
unfortimate man struggled, the more severely was 
he lacerated by the prickles, and when his cries at 
length attracted some persons who were passing, he 
was found covered with blood, and cruelly tormented 
l^ the ants. 

At Oarthagena the travellers met with several 
persons whose society was not less agreeable than 
insteuctive ; and in the house of an officer of artil- 
lenr, Don Domingo Esquiaqui, found a very curious 
collection of paintings, models of machinery, and 
minerals. They had also an opportunity of witness- 
ing the pageant of the Pascua. Nothing, says Hum- 
boldt, could rivsd the oddness of the dresses of the 
principal personages in these processions. Beggars, 
carrying a crown of thorns on their heads, asked 
alms, with crucifixes in their hands, and habited in 
black robes. Pilate was arrayed in a garb of striped 

&72 viLLAOB tip rmoBMOf 

silk, and the apostles, seated round a korfo tibli 
covered with sweetmeats, were carried 911 tiSe ifeori- 
ders of Zambos. At sunset, elBgies of Jews m 
French vestments, and formed of straw and oHmt 
combustibles, weM li|nit m the^porindpal strsete. 

Dreadinff the intobrity of the town, thb tmral- 
lers retired on the 0th April to the Indhm ^T^bm 
of Tnrbaco, situated in a beantiM disteiet, at tta 
entrance of a large forest, about 17i miles to ttt 
south-west of the Pope, one of the most remaiicdd^ 
summits in the neighnourhood of Caithagena. Hen 
they remained until they made Uie neceanrjrpn- 
parations for their voyage on the Rio UlafnlflMi, 
and for the long journey whiqh they intendsd ts 
make to Bogota, Popayan« and Quito. The vili|i 
is about 1161 feet above the leyel of the sea. Smket 
were so numerous that they chased the rats ewoi ii 
the houses, and pursued the bats on the roofr. 
TVom the terrace surrounding their habitaboo, they 
had a view of the colossal mountains of the Stem 
Nevada de Santa Marta jart of which was covered 
with perennial snow. The intervening space, con- 
sisting of hills and plains, was adorned with a hmi- 
riant vegetation, resembling that of the Orinoco. 
There they found gigantic trees, not prevkxisly 
known, such as the Rhinocarpus excelsoy vriuk wpinSij- 
curved fruit, the Ocotea turhacensis, and the Ceoe- 
nillesia platanifoUa ; the large ilve-winffed finiit of 
which is suspended from the tips of the branches 
like paper lanterns. They botanized every dgf m 
the woods from five in the morning till night, thoogh 
they were excessively annoyed by mosquitoes, noh 
cudoes, xegens, and other tipulary insects, hi the 
midst of these maffiiificent forestiB they freqiieiitiy 
saw plantations of bananas and maize, to which this 
Indians are fond of retiring at the end of the rainy 
season. • 

The persons who accompanied the travellers on 
these expeditions often spoke of a marshy ground 


situated, in the midst of a thicket of palms, and 
which they designated hy the name of Los Volcaii- 
citVM. They said that, according to a tradition pre- 
aenrad in the village, the ground had formerly been 
ywi»^, but that a monk &ul extinguished it by fre- 
mient aspersions of holy water, and converted the 
nre-TOlcano into a water-volcano. Without attach- 
iq^niiiQh credit to this tradition, the philosophers 
dea iro d their guides to lead them to the spot. After 
t im y eiai Dg a space of about 5300 yards, covered with 
tnmka ci Caoanillesiaf Piragra supurha, and Gyror 
cmrpusj and in which there appeared here and there 
pnjectkms oi a limestone rock containing petrified 
eoiWy they reached an open place of about 908 feet 
aqoare, tttirely destitute of vegetation, but mar- 
gined with tufts of Bromelia karatas. The surface 
wdi composed of layers of clay of a dark-gray 
ooloiir; cracked by desiccation into pentagonal and 
heptagonal prisms. The volcancitos consist of fif- 
teen or twenty small truncated cones rising in the 
niddle of this area, and having a height of from 19 
to Sft. ftel The most elevated were on the southern 
eide^iand their circumference at the base was from 
78 to 85 yards. On climbing to the topi of these 
midrTdlcanoes, they found them to be terminated 
by an aperture, from 16 to 30 inches in diameter, 
ilBedwiUi water, through which air-bubbles obtained 
a paasage; about five explosions usually taking 
place in two minutes. The force with which the 
air ria ea would lead to the supposition of its being 
aiij is ct ed to considerable pressure, and a rather loud 
noiae was heard at intervals, preceding the disen- 
gagement of it fifteen or eighteen seconds. Each 
of the IrabUies contained from 12 to 14^ cubic in- 
dies of elastic fluid, and their power of expansion 
was often so great tiiat the water was projected be- 
yond the crater, or flowed over its brim. Some of 
the openings by which air escaped were situated in 
the plain without being surrounded by any promi- 

neoce of the gToand. Itwu observed Ihal when Uk 
tmertnces, iraioh an not [dbced at the smnmital 
the eaoM, aad bm cndMed by s. little mud wall 
from 10 to 15 indiM liifili, arenearly contigiioiu, tbH 
eXfJodoDB did nM tike place at the same time, h 
wcndd ^ipear dMt eaoh crater receives the gas ij 
distiiMtt eaualB, or thai thsse, tenuinatiiig in tiie 
same leaonroir of ctanpieuei] iiic, oppose gmut 

no obaerrafalA dumge in tiio rorni iuid numlxir of 
the cooea for twenty jrean, and that the little can- 
ties aie filled with wder even in the driest seaaow. 
The tempeiatare of this liquid was not higher Uw 
that of tbe atmosphere: the latter having beeu 
SIS", and the fbimet 80-6° or 81°, at the tune of 
Humboldt's visit. A stick could easily be pushed 
into the apertures to the depth of six or seiu 
feet, and the dark-coloured clay or mud was «- 
ceedingly soft. An ig^ted \m<ly was immediatdr 
eztinguiahed on being immersed in the gas trollected 
from the bnbbles, whicli was fuund to be pure awle. 
The stay which our travellers made at Turtttw 
was uncommonly agreeable, and added ereally lo 
their collection of pUnts. 

' aRer so loiw s 

From the baua t 


thickets, that wild luxuriance of w_. . . 

orchidex covering the old trunks of tboMotMuilb' 
diian flg, that majestic view of the mowjlaioiatlitK, 
that light mist Blling the bottom of tlui TaDap it 
sunrise, those tnfta of gigantic trees risii^ likaiw- 
dant islets from a sea of vaixnirs, iocsnaotlr V*" 
sent themselves to an imagination. At ToMM ' 
welivedaaimplQaadlaDoriouslife. Wewemmnfi 


possessed a similarity of taste and disposition; 
looked forward to the future witli hope ; were on the 
eve of a journey which wa« to lead us to the high- 
est summits of the Andes, and bring us to volcanoes 
in action in a country continually agitated by earth- 
quakes ; and we felt ourselves more happy than at 
"any other period of our distant expedition. The 
years which have since passed, not all exempt from 
griefs and pains, have added to the (tliarnis of these 
impressions ; and 1 love to think that, in the midst 
of his exile in the southern hemisphere, in the soli- 
tudes of Paraguay, my unfortunate friend M. Bon- 
pland, sometimes reintmibers with delight our bo- 
tanical excursions at 'Furbaco, the little spring of 
Torecillo, the first sight of a gustavia in flower, or 
of the cavanillesia loaded with fruits having mem- 
branous and transparent edges." 

M. Bonpland's health having suflViri^d severely 
during the navigation of the Orinoco and Casiquiare, 
they resolved to provide themselves with all the 
conveniences necessary to secure their comfort dur- 
ing the ascent of the Kio Magdidena. They were 
accompanied on this voyage by an old French phy- 
sician, M. de Rieiix, and two Spaniiirds. Leaving 
IHirbaco after a stay of ten days, in a cool and very 
dark night, they [)assed through a wood of bamboos 
rising from 40 to 50 feet. At daybreak they reached 
Arjona on the borders of the forest, crossed an arm 
of the Rio Magdalena in a canoe, and arrived jit 
Mahates, where they had to wait nearly all day for 
the mules which were to convey their baggage to 
the place of embarkation. It was excessively hot, 
without a breath of wind, and to add to their vexa- 
tion, their only remaining barometer had been brokt^i 
in passing the canal ; but they consoled themselves 
by examining some beautiful species of parrots 
which they obtained from the natives. 

On the 20tli April, at three in the niomiiig, thi- 
air feeling dchciously cool, althouglv VVvc VVv^wwviww - 



ter was at 71*6°, they were on their journey to the 
village of Barancas Nuevas, amid a forest of lofty 
trees. Half-way between Mahates and that hamlet 
they found a group of huts elegantly constructed of 
bamboos, and inhabited by Zambos. Humboldt re- 
marks, that the intermixture of Indians and negroes 
is very common in those countries, and that the 
women of the American tribes have a great likioff 
to the men of the African race. To the east ol 
Mahates the limestone formation, containing corab, 
ceases to appear ; the predominant rocks being sili- 
ceous with argillaceous cement, forming alternating 
beds of small-grained quartzose and sla^ sandstone, 
or conglomerates containing angular fragments of 
lydian-stone, clay-slate, gneiss, and quartz, andvaiT- 
ing in colour from yellowish-gray to brownisb-rad. 
Hitherto the narrative of the important jonney 
performed by Humboldt and Bonpland, throu^ those 
little known but highly interesting regions of SooUi 
America which were visited by them, has been given 
as much in detail as is consistent with the nature of 
a work like the present ; but here, as no minute ac- 
count of their farther progress has yet been laid be- 
fore the public, we must cease to follow them step 
by step, and content ourselves with a brief narra- 
tive of their proceedings. 




Brief Account of the Journey from Carthagena to Quite 

and Mexico, 

of the Rio Magdalena— Santa Fe de Bogota--Cataraet of Teqnen- 

danuH-Natural Bridges of Icononzo— Passage of Qaindiil— Carguerofl 
—POpayan— Quito— Cotopaxi and Chimborazo— Route f<-oin Quito to 
Unuf— Guayaquil—Mexico— Guanaxuato— Volcano of Jorullo— Pyra- 

It has been already stated that Humboldt, pre- 
Tioosbr to leaving Paris, had promised Baudin, that 
should his projected expedition to the southern hemi- 
si^ere ever take plaee, he would endeavour to join it ; 
and also that information received by him at Cuba 
had induced him to relinquish plans subsequently 
formed, and re-embark for the continent of South 
America, with the view of proceeding to Guayaquil 
or Lima, where he expected to meet the navigators. 
Accordingly he went to Carthagena, wherehe learned 
that the season was too far advanced for sailing from 
Panama to Guayaquil. Giving up, therefore, his 
intention of crossing the isthmus of Panama, he 
passed some days in the forests of Turbaco, and 
afterward made preparations for ascending the Rio 

•fiiis river, from its sources near the equator, flows 
almost directly north. " Nature," says a traveller 
who sailed up it in 1823, ** seems to have designedly 
dug the bed of the Magdalena in the midst of the 
Cordilleras of Colombia, to form a canal of commu- 
nication between the mountains and the sea ; yet it 
wotdd have made nothing but an unnavigable tor- 
rent, had not its course b«en stopped in many parts 
by masses of rock disposed in such ^ xu^wsvst '^^ N*^ 


break its violence. Its waters, thus arrested, Itow 
gently into the plains of the provinces of Santa 
Martha and Carthagena, which they fertilize and 
refresh by their evaporation. Three very distinct 
temperatures rcigrn on the Magdalena. The sea- 
breezes blow from its mouth as far as Moi^wx; 
from this town to Morales not a breath of air tem- 
pters the heat of the atmosphere, and man would 
be(;ome a victim to its power, but for the abundant 
dews which fall during the night ; from Morales as 
far as the sources of the Magdalena, the south wind 
moderates the lioat of tlie day, and forms the thiri 
temperatures These land-breezes cause the nangi- 
tion of the Magdidcna to be rarely fatal to Euro- 
peans."* But, according to the same author, multi- 
tudes of animals of various species continually hann 
the traveller. He cannot bathe on account of the 
caymans, and if he venture on shore he ia in dan- 
ger of being bitten by serpents. 

The voyage up tins rivi^r, which lasted thirty-five 
d;iys, was not pt^rformed without luizard and incon- 
v(^!iience. nuinl)ol(lt sketched a chart of it, while 
his friend was busily occupied in examining the 
ricli and bountiful vegetation of its banks. Disem- 
barking at llonchi, they proceeded on mules by dan- 
gerous ])aths, tlirough forests of oaks, nielastomap, 
and einehoiue, to Santa Fe de Bogota, the capital 
of New-(rrenada. This city st;uids in a beautiful 
valh^y surrounded by lofty mountains, and which 
would ai)pear to have been at a former period the bed 
of a great lakes I J ere the travellers spent several 
months in exploring the mineralogical and botanical 
treasurers of the (country, the magnificent cataraii 
of Tequendaina, and the extensive collections of ihe 
celebrated Mutis. 

The elevated [)lain on wliich this metropoliit is 
built is 87*37 (Vet above th(^ level of \\w sea, aihl 

* Mollicu'H TravolH in Culoinbia. 


is consequently higher than the summit of St. Ber- 
nard, llie river of Funza, usually called Rio^de 
Bogota, which drains the valley, has forced its way 
through the mountains to the south-west of Santa 
Fe, and near the farm of Tequendama rushes from 
the plain by a narrow outlet into a crevice, which 
descends towards the bed of the Rio Magdalena. 
"Respectmg this ravine, Gonzalo Ximenes de Que- 
sada, the conqueror of the country, found the fol- 
lowing tradition disseminated among the people : — 
In remote times the inhabitants of Bogota were bar- 
iMuians, living without religion, laws, or arts. An old 
man on a certain occasion suddenly appeared among 
them, of a race unlike that of the natives, and hav- 
ing a long bushy beard. He instructed them in the 
arts; but he brought with him a very malignant, 
although very beautiful woman, who thwarted all 
his benevolent enterprises. By her magical power 
she swelled the current of the Funza, and inun- 
dated the valley ; so that most of the inhabitants per- 
ished, a few only having found refuge in the neigh- 
bouring mountains. The aged visiter then drove 
his consort from the earth, and she became the moon. 
He next broke the rocks that enclosed the valley on 
the Tequendama side, and by this means drained ok 
the waters ; then he introduced the worship of the 
sun, appointed two chiefs, and finally withdrew to a 
valley, where he lived in the exercise of the inost au- 
stere penitence during 2000 years. 

The cataract of Tequendama presents an assem- 
blage of all that is picturesque. The river a little 
above it is 144 feet in breadth, but at the crevice 
narrows to a width of not more than 13 yards. The 
height of the fall, which forms a double bound, is 
574 feet, and the column of vapour that rises from 
it is visible from Santa Fe at the distance of 17 miles. 
The vegetation at the foot of the precipice "has a 
totally different appearance from that at the sum- 
nit ; and while the spectator leaves behind him ^ 



plfun in irhich the rercnl plnuts of Europe 
tivatad, and sees ariiund tijni oiihs, elms, ai... 
trees «Bembling thosp of the tf?mperate regions Of 
the northern, hemisphei^, Im looks down upon t 
country- covered with palms, bajianas, and 

LeariDgSanta Fe, in September, 1801, the IralA 
lers passed the nattiral bridges of Icononjio, foiaV 
by masses of rock lying across a ravine of imm 
profimdity. The valleys of the cordiileras are, 
eraJly crevices, the ifepth of which ia often so 
that were Vesuviuk s.-;iteji in them its summit 
not exceed that of tlio nearest mountains. 
these, that, namely, of Icononzo or Pandi, 
liarly remarkable for the singiilur farm of its 
thenatedtopaofwIiiplipreBentthomosl ' ' 
contrast with the liifls of trees and sh 
cover the edges of llii: gulf. A torrent, 
Summa Paz, forms^ two he an ti fur cms* 

enters the chasm, aitd where it again , 

it. A natural arch, 47i feet in length and SB il 
breadth, stretches across the flssure at a height of 111 
feet above the stream. Sixty-fonr feet bdowttfi 
bridge is a second, composed of threa 
ina.s8e8 of rock, which have (ullen so as 
each other. In the middle of it is a hole, IhHMI^ 
which the bottom of the cleft is seen. The tonflitt 
viewed from this place, seemed to flow thiiw^ • 
dark cavern, whence arose a doleful sound, «BiitUl 
by the nocturnal birds that haunt the abyss, QUO- 
sands of which were seen flvinfroVer tbenrfitesot 
the water, supposed by Humboldt from tteir sipp"^ 
ance to be goatsuckers. 

Ill the kingdom of New-Grenada, from 9^ W lo 
6° 15' of north latitude, the Cordillera of the AodN 
is divided into three pardllel <;hains. The Matd^ 
one sefKu-ates the valley of the Rio Hagdalena fnMl 
the plains of the Rio Meta, and on its westemda- 
cUvity are the natural bridges of Icononxo abora 


mentioned. The central chain, whicli parts the 
waters between the basin of the Rio Magdalena 
and that of the Rio Caiica, often attains the limits 
of perpetoal snow, and shoots far beyond it in the 
colossal summits of Guanacas, Baragan, and Quin- 
diu. The western ridge cuts off the valley of Cauca 
from the province of Choco and the shores of the 
Sooth Sea. • In passing from Santa Fe to Popayan 
and the banks of the river now mentioned, the trav- 
eller has to descend the eastern chain, either by the 
Mesa and Tocayma or the bridges of Icononzo, trav- 
erse the valley of the Rio Magdalena, and cross the 
central* chain, as Humboldt did, by the mountain of 

This mountain, which is considered as the most 
difficult passage in the cordilleras, presents a thick 
umnhpbited forest, which, in the finest season, can- 
not be passed in less than ten or twelve days. Trav- 
ellers usually furnish themselves with a month's 
provision, as it often happens that the melting of 
the snow, and the sudden floods arising from it, pre- 
vent them from descending. The highest point of 
the road is 11,499^ feet alK)ve the level of the sea, 
and the path, which is very narrow, has in several 
places toe appearance of a gallery dug in the rock 
and left open above. The oxen, which are the beasts^ 
of burden commonly used in the country, can scarcely 
force their way through these passages, some of 
which are 6562 feet in length. The rock is covered 
with a thick layer of clay, and the numerous gulUes 
framed by the torrents are filled with mud. 

In crossing this mountain the philosophers, fol- 
lowed by twelve oxen carrying their collections and 
instruments, were deluged with rain. Their shoes 
were torn by the prickles which shoot out from the 
roots of the bamboos, so that, unwilling to be carried 
on men's backs, they were obliged to walk barefooted. 
Tlie usual mode of travelling, however, is in a chair 
tied to the back of a carguero or porter. When one 


reflects on 'the enormoiu fatigue to which these bru^ 
era are exposed, he is at a loss to c-onceive how tlK 
emidovment should b^ so ci^erly embraced in all 
the TODust young men who live at the foot of tw 
Andes. The passage of Quindiu is not the onlypan 
of Sooth America wliich is traversed in this niaiuMi' 
' The whole provittce of Antioquia i8 surroiuided tj 
mountains so diffiodtto be cro(>sed. that those wtn 

'. refnse to trust th«lBt||jtns tc the skill of a cargum. 

* and are not strong tMoali to truvel on foot, musl n- i 
linqnish all- thou^ta of leaving the country. !%• 
number of persoiu who follow this laborious occii 
pation, Bt Choco, Hague, and MedeUin, is sn gn^ii 
that our travellers sometimes met a file of fidy i' 
sixty. Near the minea of Mexico there are si^ 
individual^ who havenaotlier employment thaa tlui 
of carrying men on their backs. 

The cargueros, in crossmg the forest of Quindin. 
take with them bundleaof the lar^ oval leaves of lh« 
vijao, a plant of the banana fjiniily, tho peculiar vai- 
nish of which enables them to resist rain, A him- 

. dredweight of these leaves is sufficient to cover i 
hut large enough to hold six or eight persons. When 
they come to a convenient spot where they intend 
to pass the ni^it, the carriers lop a few branches ftoiB 
the trees, with which they construct a frame; it it 
then divided into squares by the stalks of some climb- 
ing plant, or threads of agave, on which are hoif 
the vijao leaves, by means of a cut made in tbeu 
midrib. In one of these tents, which are cold, cob- 
modioua, and perfectly dry, our travellers paiaril 
several days in the valley of Boquia, amid violent 
and incessant rains. 

From these mountains, where the truncated cots 
of Tolima, covered with perennial snow, rises ainid 
forests of styrax, arborescent pasiQorie, bambooa, and 
waxpalms, they descended into the valley of C^am 
towards the west. After restii^ some time at Cs- i 
thago and Buga, they coasted tiie province of Cboeo, 


where platina is found amon^ rolled fragments of 
basalt, greenstone, and fossil wood. 

They then went up by Caloto and the mines of 
Quilichao to Popayan, wMch is situated at the base 
of the snowy mountains of Purace and Sotara. This 
city, the capital of New-Grenada, stands in the beau- 
tiful valley of the Rio Cauca, at an elevation of 5906 
feet above the sea, and enjoys a delicious climate. 
On the ascent from Popayan towards tlie summit of 
the volcano of Purace, at a height of 8694 feet, is a 
small plain inhabited by Indians, and cultivated with 
the greatest care. It is bounded by two ravines, on 
the brink of which is placed a village of the same 
name. The gardens, which are enclosed with hedges 
of cuphorbium, are watered by the springs that issue 
abundantly from the porphyritic rock ; and nothing 
can be more agreeable than the contrast between the 
beautiful verdure of this plain and the chain of dark 
mountains surrounding the volcano. The hamlet of 
Purace, wliich the travellers visited in November, 
1801, is cehibrated for the fine cataracts of the Rio 
Vinagre, the waters of which are acid. This little 
river is warm towanls its source, and after forming 
three falls, one of which is 394 feet in height and is 
exceedingly picturesque, joins the Rio ("auca, which 
for 14 miles below the junction is destitute of fish. 
The cniterof the volcano is filled with boiling water, 
which, amid frightful noises, emits vapours of sul- 
phuretted hydrogen. 

TTie travellers then crossed the precipitous Cordil- 
leras of Almaquer to Pasto, avoiding the infected and 
contagious atmosphere of the valley of l^atia. From 
Ihe latter town, which is situated at the foot of a 
burning volcano, they traversed the elevated plat- 
form of the province of Los Pastos, celebrated for its 
great fertility ; and after a journey of four months, 
performed on mules, arrived at Quito on the 6th Jan- 
uary, 180-2. 

The climate of this province is remarkably agree- 

286 QUITO. 

able, and almost invariable. During the months of 
December, January, February, and March, it geae- 
rally rains every afternoon from half-past one to 
five ; but even at this season the evenings and morn- 
ings are most beautiful. The temperature is so mild 
that vegetation never ceases. " From the temoe 
of the government palace there is one of the most 
enchanting prospects that human eye ever wit- 
nessed, or nature ever exhibited. Looking totbe 
south, and glancing along towards the north, eleven 
mountains covered with perpetual snow present 
themselves, their' bases apparently resting on the 
verdant hills that surround the city, and their hesdi 
piercing the blue arch of heaven, while the clouds 
hover midway down them, or seem to crouch it 
their feet. Among these the most lofty are Cayan- 
beurcu, Imbaburu, Ilinisa, Antisana, Chimboraio, 
and the beautifully-magnificent Cotopaxi, crowned 
with its volcano."* 

Nearly nine months were devoted to researches 
of various kinds. They made excursions to the 
snowy mountains of Antisana, Cotopaxi, Tungura- 
gua, and Chiinborazo, the I'diUiV of which was con- 
sidered as tlie hi^rliest on the globe until it was 
found to be exc(>c(lod by some of the colossal sum- 
mits of the Iliinniiil(5h, and even by several in Upper 
Peru. In all these journeys they were accompanied 
by a youn^ man, son of the Marquis of Selva-ale&nre, 
who subsequently followed them to Peru and Mexi- 
co. t 'i'hey twice ascended to the volcanic summit 
of J^ichincha, where they mad(i experiments on the 
constitution of the air — its elasticity, its electrical, 

* Steveuson'M H(!sidi!iic<' in South America, vol. li. p. 324. 

\ This aixuinplisli(>(l imliviihiHl, Don (;arlofl Moiito/kr, of whom our 
author K|R'akH with ap|>robution, huvtUK ronneotctl himnelf wtth tbn 
popular party in thi; NtruKt^lcH of which the Stmniah roloiiies bave laidy 
boen the thoatn-, was H<>i7^'(t in (luiio, in |M]1, by I>on Tori bio Montni, 
Hentitnced ana traitor, and nhot throu;{h Ihn back ; an«>r which bia heart 
waH taken out and burnt. -- See Stencnson't Rtsidtnce ui South AmtrieMf 
vol. iii. p. 4-i. 



magnetic, and hygroscopic qualities, — and the tem- 
perature of boiling water. 

Cotopaxi is the loftiest of those volcanoes of the 
Andes which have produced eruptions at recent pe- 
liods ; its absolute height being 18,878 feet. It is 
consequently 2625 feet higher than Vesuvius would 
be were it placed on the top of the Peak of Teneriffe. 
The scoriae and rocks ejected by it, and scattered 
over the neighbouring valleys, would form a vast 
mountain of themselves. In 1738 its flames rose 
3953 feet above the crater ; and in 1744 its roarings 
were heard as far as Honda, on the Magdalena, at 
a distance of 690 miles. On the 4th April, 1768, 
the quantity of ashes thrown out was so great, that 
in the towns of Hambato and Tacunga the inhabit- 
ants were obliged to use lanterns in the streets. 
The explosion which took place in January, 1803, 
was precede^ by the sudden melting of the snows 
which covered the surface; and our travellers, at 
the port of Guayaquil, 179^ miles distant, heard day 
and night the noises proceeding from it, like dis- 
charges of a battery. 

This celebrated mountain is situated to the south- 
east of Quito, at the distance of 41 miles, in the 
midst of the Andes. Its form is the most beautiful 
and regular of aU the colossal summits of that 
mighty chain ; being a perfect cone, which is covered 
wiUi snow, and slunes with dazzling splendour at 
nmset. No rocks project through the icy covering, 
except near the edge of the crater, which is sur- 
nmnaed by a small circular wall. In ascending it 
is extremely difiicult to reach the lower boundary 
of the snows, the cone being surrounded by deep 
nvines ; and, after a near examination of the sum- 
mit, Humboldt thinks he may assert that it would 
be altogether impossible to reach the brink of the 

It was mentioned that, in the kingdom of New- 
Grenada, the Cordilleras of the Andes form t\v\^^^ 


chains, in the great longitudinal vaUeys of nU 
flow two large rivers. To the south of Popaya, 
on the table-land of Los Pas^os, these three duui 
unite into a single group, which stretches for lie- 
yond the equator. This group, in the kingdom of 
Quito, presents an extraordinary appearance fron 
the river of Chota, the most elevated summits bnig 
arranged in two lines, forming, as it were, a dooUe 
ridge to the cordilleras. These summits served for 
signals to the French academicians when emptovad 
in the measurement of an equinoctial degree. Bon- 
guer considered them as two chains, separated by i 
k)ngitudinal valley ; but this valley Humboldt viewi 
as the ridge of the Andes itself. It is an elefated 
plain, from 8858 to 9515 feet above the level of the 
sea ; and tlie volcanic summits of Piduncha, Ci- 
yambo, Cotopaxi, and other celebrated peaks, uOt 
he thinks, so many protuberances of tlj^e great vu» 
of the Andes. In consequence of the elevation of 
the territory of Quito, tliese mountains do not seem 
so high as many of much inferior altitude rising 
from a lower basis. 

On ('hiniborazo the line marking " the inferior 
limit of perpetual snow is at a height somewhat ex- 
ceeding that of Mont Blanc. On a narrow ledffe, 
which rises amid th(^ snows on the southern de- 
clivity, our travellers attempted on tho 23d Juno to 
reach the summit. Tlie point where they stopped 
to observe the inclination of the magnetic merKiian 
was more elevated than any yet attained by man, 
being 3G09 feet liigher than the summit of Mont 
Blanc, and more thfin 3714 feet higher than La Con- 
damine and Bouguer reached in 1745 on the Cora- 
zon. The ridge to which they climbed, and beyond 
wliich they were prevented from proceeding by a 
deep chasm in the snow, was 19,798 feet above tho 
level of the sea ; but the summit of the mountain 
was still 1439 feet higher. The blood issued from 
their eyes, lii)s, and gums. The form of Chimborazo 


is comical, but the top is not truncated, like that of 
Cotopazi, being rounded or semicircular in outline. 
•*^Wnile at Quito, Humboldt received a letter from 
the National Institute of France, by which he was 
wprized that Captain Baudin had set out for New- 
HoUand by the Cape of Good Hope. He was 
obliged therefore to renounce all thoughts of joining 
the ei^pedition, although the hope of being able to 
meet it had induced him to reUnquish his plan of 

f proceeding from Cuba to Mexico and the Phihppine 
slandSj'and had led him upwards of 3452 miles 
southward. The travellers, however, consoled 
themselves with the thought of having examined 
resions over which the eye of science had never 
before glanced; and, resolved henceforth to trust 
solely to their own resources, after spending some 
monUis in exploring the Andes, they set out in the 
direction of Lima. 

They first pointed their course to the great River 
Amazon, visiting the ruins of Lactacunga, Hambato, 
and Riobamba, in a country the face of which was 
entirely changed by the frightful earthauakes of 
1797, that destroyed nearly 40,000 of the inhabitants. 
They then with great difficulty passed to Loxa, 
where in the forests of Gonzanama and Malacates 
they examined the trees which yield the Peruvian 
ban. The vast extent of ground which they trav- 
ersed in the course of their expedition afforded 
them better opportunities than any botanist had 
erer enjoyed of comparing the different species of 

leaving Loxa they entered Peru by Ayavaca and 
Gouicab^ba, traversing the ridge of the Ajides to 
descend to the River Amazon. In two days they 
had to cross thirty-five times the Rio de Chayma. 
They saw the maenificent remains of the causeway 
of the incas, which traversed the porphyritic sum- 
mits from Cusco to Assouay, at a height varying 
from 7670 to 1 1,510 feet. At the village of Chamaya» 



290 AiiirAL JLruauL/ 

on arirer of the same name, they tookiMflHki 
scended to the Amazon. - ^^J^T* 

La Ck>ndaniine, on his retnrn from Qoitofli'Vli^ 
embaiked on this river only below Q Wiilfc ii 
Chuchmu^ ; and Hmnboldt, with the ^fiew of €al» 
pleting the map made by the French artianair, 
proceeded as far as tiie cataracts of Renfana. it 
Tomependa, the principal place of the p ro f in celf 
Jaen ae Bracamorros, ne constraicted a mnp- of fto 
Upper Amazon, from bis own obeenrationa as ml 
as irom accounts received from the nafirea. - Bai> 
pland employed himself, as moal, in exanbiiiif fhs 
subjects of the vesetable kinj[dom, amon^wlMli 
discovered several new species of einch^^l 

Returning to Peru, our tnivellera crooorawflV* 
diUera of the Andes the filth time. In aeven dii|i a< 
of south latitude they determined the poaitioB of tti 
magnetic equator, or the line in which tiie aiMb 
has no inclination. They also examined the miBei 
of Hualgayoc, where large masses of native siher 
are found at an elevation of 12,790 feet above the 
sea, and which, together with those of Pasco and 
Huantajayo, are the richest in Pern. Frdm Caxsp 
marca, celebrated for its hot-springS and the mills 
of the palace of Atahualpa, they went down to 
Tnudllo. In this neighbouihood are the remaiiiB 
of the ancient Peruvian city Mansiche, adorned by 
pyramids, in one of which an immense qoantity of 

g)ld was discovered in the eighteenth centmy. 
escending the western slope of the Andes, they 
beheld for the first time the Pacific Ocean, and w 
long narrow valley bounded by its shores, in whldi 
rain and thunder are unknown. From Tnbdllo they 
followed the arid coast of the South Sea, and arrived 
at Lima, where they remained several monUis. At 
the port of Callao, Humboldt had the satiaftetion 
of observing the transit of Mercury, although the 
thick fog which prevails there sometimes obacorea 
the sun for many days in succession. 


In^ibnoary, 1803, the travellers embarked for 
Gusyiwiiil, in the vicinity of which they found a 
^dflndid forest of palms, plumeriae, tabemae-montanae, 
aiid scitaminae. Here also they heard the incessant 
noises of the volcano of CotopaxH which had expe- 
rienced a tremendous agitation on the 6th January. 
From Guayaquil they proceeded by sea to Acapulco 
in New-Spain. At first, Humboldt^s intention was 
to remain only a few months in Mexico, and return 
as speedily as possible to Europe, more especially 
as his instruments, and in particular the chronome- 
ters, were getting out of order, while he found it 
impossible to procure others. But the attractions 
of so beautiful and diversified a country, the ^eat 
hospitality of its inhabitants, and the dread of the 
yellow fever of Vera Cruz, which usually attacks 
those who descend from the mountains between 
-June and October, induced him to remain until the 
middle of winter. 

After making numerous observations and experi- 
ments on the atmospherical phenomena, the horary 
▼ariations of the barometer, magnetism, and the 
natural productions of the country, our travellers 
set out in the direction of M.exico ; gradually ascend- 
ing by the burning valleys of Mescala and Papagayo, 
where the thermometer rose to 89*6° in the shade, 
and where the river is crossed on fruits of Crescentia 
pmnataj attached to each other by ropes of agave. 
Reaching the elevated plains of Chilpantzuigo, Te- 
luiilotepec, and Tasco, which are situated at a height 
▼arying from 3837 to 4476 feet above the sea, they 
entered a region blessed with a temperate chmate, 
and producing oaks, cypresses, pines, tree-ferns, and 
the cultivated cereal plants of Europe. After visit- 
mg the silver-mines of Tasco, the oldest and formerly 
the richest of Mexico, they went up by Cuernaraca 
and Guachilaco to the capital. Here they spent 
•ome time in the agreeable occupation of examining 
numerous curiosities, antiquities, and institutions, in 

39SI xzouBfliom. w ram .mavttiois. 

making astronomical obseihratioiMy in _ _ 
natural prodnctiona of the aoiTOimdinff oaaiitoMii 
in en}opng the societsr of enlifffateoM indifMii^ 
The longitnde of Mexico, which nad been niaiteii 
two degrees on the latest mane, was ao e ui rt^y 
detennined by a long aeries of ooeeiTBtioiier 

Our travellers next visited the celebrtled ariHS 
of Moran and Real del Monte, and examinei ttft 
obsidians of Osramel, which form layera in p ea f l rtoaa 
and porphyry, and were employed by tne anoM 
Mexicans for the manofactore oi knives. The tmh 
cade of Regla, a representation of iHiiic^ Ibme tli 
yi^ette to the present volume, is aitoatod in Iki 
neighbourhood. The regularity of the faanllie sot 
nmns is as remarkable aa that of the depbaitaaW 
Stafia. Most of them are perpendiculir; Ikeq^ 
some are horizontal, and others nave varione d^pNi 
of inclination. They rest npon a bed of day. b^ 
neath which basalt again occurs. Retomraff ma 
this excursion in July, 1803, they made anoUier to 
the northern part of the kingdom, in the coorae of 
which 'they inspected the aperture made in tht 
mountain of Suicog for the purpose of draining flia 
valley of Mexico. They next pasaed by Queretaro, 
Salamanca, and the fertile plains of Yrapaato^ on fle 
way to Guanaxuato, a large city placed in a narrow 
defile, and celebrated for its mines. 

There they remained two months, making re- 
searches into the geology and botany of the neigii- 
bouring country. From thence they proceeded by 
the vaUey of San Jago to Valladohd, the capital of 
the ancient kingdom of Mechoacan; and, notwith- 
standing a continuance of heavjr antmnnal laiM^ 
descended by Patzquaro, which is situated on thU 
edge of an extensive lake towards the shores of the 
Pacific Ocean, to the plains of Jorullo. Here thay 
entered the great crater, making their way ovar 
crevices exhaUng ignited aulphuretted l^diofai^ and 


ezperiflDciog much danger from the brittleness of 
the lava. 

The formation of this volcano is one of the most 
extraordmary phenomena which have been observed 
on our globe. The plain of Malpais, covered with 
small cones from six to ten feet in height, is part of 
an elevated table-land bounded by hOls of oasalt, 
trachyte, and volcanic tufa. From the period of 
tiie discovery of America to the middle of the last 
century, this district had undergone no change of 
surface, and the seat of the crater was then covered 
with a plantation of indigo and sugar-cane ; when, 
in June, 1759, hollow sounds were heard, and a suc- 
cession of earthquakes continued for two months, 
to the great consternation of the inhabitants. From 
the beginning of September every thing seemed to 
announce the re-establishment of tranquiUity ; but 
in the night of the 28th the frightful subterranean 
noises again commenced. The Indians fled to the 
neig^iboimng mountains. A tract not less than from 
three to four square miles in extent rose up in the 
shape of a dome ; and those who witnessed the phe- 
nomenon asserted, that flames were seen issuing 
from a space of more than six square miles, while 
(fragments of burning rocks were projected to an 
immense height, and the surface of the ground un- 
dulated hke an agitated sea. Two brooks which 
watered the plantations precipitated themselves into 
the burning chasms. Thousands of the small cones 
described above suddenly appeared, and in the midst 
of these eminences, called homitos or ovens, six great 
masses, having an elevation of from 1313 to 1640 
feet above the original level of the plain, sprang up 
from a gulf running from N.N.E. to S.S.W. The 
most elevated of these mounds is the great volcano 
of Jorullo, which is continuaUy burning. The erup- 
tions of this central volcano continued till February, 
1760, when they became less frequent. The Indians, 
who bad abandoned all the villages within thirty 


nulet of It, f^tiinied once mofe to HMx tMagm 
and adyanced towards the mountidM of AgnMNl 
and^aiita Ines, to oontoiiralate tin atWHWH.of in 
that iasued from the immbeilen a poitiu mL Thi 
roofs of the honaes of Qmeretaro. mom ttnn lH 
inilet distant, were covered with voiloaiicdnrt. Mb 
Lyell (Principles of Geologjr, tqL L p. 170) itfltti^ 
on the authority of Captain Yetdii that anottff 
erupticmhaiqpened in ]S19,aoconnaiBied Inr an earth* 
quake, during which aahea fell al the c^ of Gm^ 
naxuato, 140 nules disftrafc ftoaa JoteillOi, in aaok 
quantities as to lie six meiie»deap in Urn atneta. 

When Humbert Tiatted tUa place, flia mtinrn 
assured him that the beat of the hoinitoBliadte- 
merly been much areater. Una thagnfoinater nm 
to d03^ when placed in thn flaam na nihialiM a<|aiim 
Tapour. Each of the oonea emitted iTfin mmik»t 
and in many of them a aobteRtnami nittaa wai 
heard, which seemed to indicate the p aqa darity af i 
fluid in ebullition. Two streams were at that period 
seen bursting through the argiUaceooa TaoMi, aad 
were found by the traveller to have a tempentme 
of 136*9^. The Indians give them the oaaMa of te 
two rivers which had been ingulfed, beeanaa in aeve- 
ral parts of the Malpais great maaaee of water ars 
heard flowing in a direction from east to weat Our 
author considers aU the district to be hoUow; bat 
Scrope and Lyell find it more suitable to tiieir views 
of volcanic agency to represent the conical form 
of the ground as resulting from Uie flow of lava 
over the original surface of the plain. 

The Indians of this province are reimaented as 
being the most industrious of New-43iHdn. TlMiy 
have a remarkable talent for cutting, out imafsa in 
wood, and dressing them in clothes made of the pitk 
of an aquatic plant, which being very porous indima 
the most vivid colours. Two figures of thia Und, 
which Humboldt brought home for tbe Queen of 
Cniasia, are here represented. They «diAat Urn 

tmtuiti or moBOAOAH. S9S 

ic truts of the Anterican race, together 
wilb K attaago miztiire of the ancient costume with 
that wUeh was introduced by the Spaniards. 


From ValladolicI, the ancient kingdom of Mecboa- 
can, the travellers returned to Meiico by the ele- 
vated plain of Tolncca, after examining' the volcanic 
KOimtaiiiB in the vicinity. They also visited the 
celebrated cheiraothostaemon of Cervantes, a tree 
of which it was at one time supposed there did not 
exist more than a single specimen. 

At that city they remained several months, for the 
ptnpose of arranffin^ their botanical and geological 
colwctions, '-'■•'" "^"g tbe barometrical and tngo- 

S90 ooovPATioini or thb nu? 

nometrical meAsmements which \btBj bid nude, nl 
sketching the plates of the Geological Alias vUcfc 
Humboldt proposed to ppblish., ThSvalaoaaaiatodii 
placingacolossal equestrian statue of the king, wfaidi 
nad been cast by a native artist In Jamuury, 19H, 
they leJfl'Mexico with the intenti(mof ftyamSniiiy tfie 
eastern declivity of the cordillevaof New-ftNoi. 
They also measured the greatpjmmid of Choliua,a 
extraordinary monument of the Toiteeks, from 1i» 
summitof which there isasnlendid Tiewof thenoij 
mountains and beautiM plains. of Tlaacala. Ik ■ 
built of bricks, which seemed to have been dried ia 
^.ffhe sun, alternating with layesB*of dajr. 'They Am 
descended to Xal^[>a, a d^idaded at an elevtliia 
'of 4138 feet above the sea, in a deUfl^itful eUmAt 
The dangerous road which leads from it to Petoi^ 
through almost impenetrable foreeta, wis tiuioe W 
rometrically levelled by Hwnbddt. Near Ibe htHm 
place is a mountain of basaltic porplrfKy, leHNilb- 
able for the singular form of a small rock pkced oa 
its summit, and which is named the Coffer of Fnote. 
This elevation commands a very extensive proqiect 
over the plain of Puebla and the eastern dope of 
the cordUleras of Mexico, which is covered witii 
dense forests. From it they also saw the buboar 
of Vera Cruz, the castle of St. Juan of IJnoa,-aBi 
the seacoast. 

Before following our travellers acroas the Atlantic, 
it may be useful to present a sketch of the valnsUe 
observations recorded in Humboldt's Political Esny 
on the Kingdom of New- Spain, and which are ia 
part the result of his researches in that intereatiQl 

nTRomrcToftT remarks. 297 


Description of New-Spain or Mexico. 

QmtsnX DeaeripllMi of New-Spain or Mexico— Cordillera*— Climates 
— Wnev— RiTer»— Lake*— Soil— Volcanoes— H«rboar»— PopuletioD— 
Prorinees— Valley of Mexico, and Description of the Capital— Innnda- 
ttaMi Mid Werks todertaken for tbe Purpose of preyenting tbem. 

pBETtoui to Humboldf s visit to New-Spain, the 
mfonnatioii possessed in Europe respecting that in- 
tetesting and important country was exceedingly 
neager and incorrect. The ignorance of the £u- 
jopean conqoerors, the indolence of their successors, 
tbe narrow policy of the government, and the want 
of scieiitific enterprise among the Creoles and Span- 
nurds, kit it for centuries a region of dim obscurity, 
inio which'the eye of research was unable to pene- 
teate. So inaccurate were the maps, that even the 
htitode and longitude of the capital remained un- 
fixed, a&d the inhabitants were thrown into conster- 
luition \xy the occurrence of a total eclipse of the sun 
OR the 91st February, 1803 ; the almanacs, calculating 
from a false indication of the meridian, having an- 
Bounced it as scarcely visible. The determination 
of the geographical position of many of the more re- 
markahle places, that of the altitude of the volcanic 
smnmits and other eminences, together with the vast 
maaa of intelligence contained in the Political Essay 
on New-Spain, served to dispel in some measure the 
darkness ; and since the period of Humboldf s visit 
numerous travellers have contributed so materially 
to our acquaintance with Mexico, that it no longer 
remains among the least known of those remote 
conntries of the globe over which the power of Eu- 
rope has extended. 


AlthcNiffti the independence of the AnariemikM 
has now been confirmed, and their poUtieal nlitni 

entirely changed since tiie time our antlior wae 4*^^ 
the aspect of natnre continues the same in those 9t 

tensive regions ; and as we have leas to do irtfc 

their history and national circumstanoes tlianvift 

the discoveries of the learned trafeUer, we did 

follow, as heretofore, his descriptions of the oo» 

tries examined by him in the relatknie in whiohtlHf 

then stood. 

The Spanish settkHnebis in the Kew ConliMift 
formerly occupied that immense territory romnriirf 
between 41'' 43' of south latitude and ST^IS* afwoA 
latitude, equalling the whole leagtii of Afirieay inl 
exceeding the vast regions p o ssessed by thaBMriV 
empire or Great Britam in Asia. Tliey are dMM 
into nine sreat governments, of which iina» yia. tti 
vicerojralties of Peru and New Grenada, the m^ 
tanias-generales of Guatinuda, Porto Rieo, tad tift- 
raccas,are entirely intertropical; while the othwr 
four, viz. the viceroyalties of Mexico and Boenoi 
Ayres, and the capitaniaa-generales of Chili and Ha* 
vana, including the Floridas, are chiefly situated ia 
the temperate zones. Mexico was the mort im- 
portant as well as the most civilized of the whole, and 
was long considered as such by the court of Madrid. 

The name of New-Spain was at first given in 1518 
to the province of Yucatan, where the companions 
of Grijalva were astonished at the civilization of the 
inhabitants. Cortez employed it to de^^te the whole 
empire of Montezuma, though it was subsequently 
used in various senses. Humboldt designates by it 
the vast country which has for its northern and sooth- 
em limits the parallels of 38° and 16°. The leqgth 
of this region rrom S.S.E. to N.N.W. is nearly 1678 
miles ; its greatest breadth 994 miles. The isthmus 
of Tehuantepec, to th^ south-east of the port of Vera 
Cruz, is the narrowest part ; the distance from the At- 
lantic Ocean to the South Sea being there oo^ IM 


miles. The question of opening a communication 
by a canal between the two oceans at this point, the 
isthmus of Panama, or several others which he 
mentions, is fully discussed by the author. He dis- 
credits the idea that the level of the South Sea is 
higher than that of the Gulf of Mexico, and imagines 
that were a rupture of the intervening barrier ef- 
fected, the current would establish itself in the di- 
rection opposite to that usuaUy apprehended. 

When a general view is tsken of the whole sur- 
face of Mexico, it is seen that one-half is situated 
within the tropic, while the rest belongs to the tem- 
perate zone. This latter portion contains 775,019 
sqoare miles. The physical climate of a country 
does not altogether depend upon its distance from 
the pole, but also upon its elevation, its proximity 
to tne ocean, and other circumstances ; so that of 
the 645,660 square miles in the torrid zone, more 
than threes-fifths have a cold, or at least temperate 
atmosphere. The whole interior of Mexico, in fact, 
constitutes an immense table-land, having an eleva- 
tion which varies from 6562 to 6203 feet above the 
level of the sea. 

The chain of mountains which forms this vast 
plain is continuous with the Andes of South Amer- 
ica. In the southern hemisphere the cordillera is 
evor5rwhere broken up by fissures or valleys of small 
breadth ; but in Mexico it is the ridge itself that con- 
stttates the platform. In Peru the most elevated sum- 
mits form the crest of the Andes, while in the other 
the prominences are irregularly scattered over the 
I^edn, and have no relation of parallelism to the di- 
rection of the cordillera. In Peru and New-Grenada 
there are transverse valleys, having sometimes 4590 
feet of perpendicular depth, which entirely prevent 
the use of carriages ; while in New-Spain vehicles 
are used along an extent of more than 1726 miles. 
The general hei^t of the table-land of Mexico is 
•qiul to that of Mount Cenis, St. Gothard, oV the 


Great St. Bernard of the Swiss Alps; and to detsr* 
mine this circumstance Humboldt executed five 
laborious barometrical surveys, which enabled him 
to construct a series of vertical sections Of the 

In South America the cordillera of the Andes pre- 
sents plains completely level at immense altitiiaes, 
such as that on which the city of Santa Fe de Bogota 
stands, that of Caxamarca in Peru, and those of Aii- 
tisana, which exceed in height the summit of the 
Peak of Teneriife. But all these levels are of small 
extent, and being separated by deep valleys are of 
difficult access. In Mexico, on the other hand, vast 
tracts of champaign country are so approxinuiied to 
each other as to form but a single jdain occap3nng 
the elongated ridge of the cordillera, and running 
from the 18th to the 40th degree of north latitude. 
The descent towards the coasts is by a graduated 
series of terraces, which oppose great difficulties to 
the communication between the maritime districts 
and the interior, presenting at the same time an ex- 
traordinary diversity of vegetation. 

The plains along the coasts are the only parts that 
possess a climate adapted to the productions of the 
West Indies, — the mean temperature of those situ- 
ated within the tropics, and whose elevation does 
not exceed 984 feet, being from 77® to 78*8®, which 
is several degrees greater than the mean tempera- 
ture of Naples. These fertile regions, which pro- 
duce sugar, indigo, cotton, and bananas, .are named 
Tierras calientes. Europeans remaining in them for 
any considerable time, particularly in the towns, are 
liable to the yellow fever or black vomiting. On 
the eastern shores the great heats are occasionally 
tempered by strata of refrigerated air brought from 
the north by the impetuous winds that blow from 
October to March, which frequently cool the atmo- 
sphere to such a degree, that at Havana the ther- 
IOmeter descends to 32®, and at Vera Cruz to 60'8®. 


On the declivities of the cordiAera, at the eleva* 
tion of 3937 or 4921 feet, there prevails a mild cU- 
mate, never varying more than four or five degrees. 
To this region, of which the mean annual tempera- 
ture is from 68^ to 69'8°, the natives give the name 
of Tierras templadas. Unfortunately these tracts are 
frequently covered with thick fogs, as they occupy 
the neight to which the clouds usually ascend above 
the level of the sea. 
• The plains which are elevated more than 7218 feet 
above that level, and of which the mean temperature 
18 under 62*6**, are named Tierras frias. The whole 
table-land of Mexico belongs to this description, 
whiph the natives consider cold, although the ordi- 
naiy warmth is equal to that of Rome. There are 
{dams of still greater elevation, on which, although 
they have a mean temperature of from 51 '8^ to 55*4^, ' 
equal to that of France and Lombardy, the vegetation 
isless vigorous, and European plants do not &ive so 
well as in their native soil. The winters there are 
not extremely severe, but in summer the sun has 
not sufficient power over the rarified air to bring 
'fruits to perfect maturity. 

From tne peculiar circumstances of New-Spain, as 
here sketched, the influence of geographical position 
upon the vegetation is much less than that of the 
height of the ground above the sea. In the nine- 
teenth and twentieth degrees of latitude, sugar, cot- 
ton, cacao, and indigo are produced abundantly only 
«t an elevation of from 1968 to 2625 feet. Wheat 
Uirives on the declivities of the mountains,' along a 
zone which commences at 4593 feet, and ends at 
9843. The banana {Musa faradisiaca), on the fruit 
of which the inhabitants of the tropics chiefly sub- 
sist, is seldom productive above 5085 feet ; oaks 
grow only between 2625 and 9843 feet ; and pines 
never descend lower than 6096, nor rise above 13,124 



The internal provinces of the tiff r i pc m t a aoiie* 
joy a climate essentianT different mm that of ftl 
same parallels in the OU Continent ftn Hiiimtiiii 
an ineauality prevails indeed between the tempenk 
ture of the seasons, that while the winters rsseniii 
those of Germany, the summers are like tkoM 4 
Sicily. A simibr dilforenoe exists b et wee n , III 
other parts of America and the correspon&vf kfr 
tudes m Europe ; but it is less perceptible' at tti 
western than on the eastern coasts. 

New-Spain possesses a peculiar adTantage a fts 
circumstances under which the precioos* melrii 
have been deposited. In Peru,, the nokost iinpistwt 
silver-mines, those of Potosi, Paseo, and Cliota»He 
placed at an immense elevation; so^tfaat, inwoA- 
mg them, men, provisions, and cattle mnitts 
brought from a distance; but in Mezieo the nohak 
of these, those, namehr, of Guanaxoato,' ZacatecM, 
Tasco, and Real del Monte, are at moderate heights, 
and surrounded by cultivated fields, towns, and 

There are few rivers of consequence in the coon- 
tr}r, the Rio Bravo del Norte and the Rio Colorado 
being the only ones of any magnitude. The foimer 
has a course of 1767 miles, the latter of Bd3 ; bat 
these streams flow in the least cultivated parts of 
the country, and can have little influence in a com- 
mercial point of view until colonization shaU extend 
to their shores. In the whole equinoctial part of 
New-Spain there are only small rivulets, of which 
very few can ever become interestiDUp to the mer- 

The numerous lakes, the greater part of which 
appear to be annually decreasing in size, are the 
remains of immense basins of water that fonneily 
existed on the elevated plains. Of these may be 
mentioned the lake of Chapala, nearly 9067 sqnars 
miles in extent; those of the valley of MexioOi 


which comprehend a (ourth part of its surface ; that 
of Patzcuaro in Valladolid ; and, finally, the lakes 
of Mexitlan and Parras in New-Biscay. 

The interior of New-Spain, and especially a great 
part of the elevated table-land of Anahuac, is arid 
and destitute of vegetation ; which arises from the 
rapid evaporation in high plains, and the circum- 
stance that few of the mountains enter the region 
of perpetual snow, which under the equator com- 
mences at the height of 15,748 feet, and in the 45th 
degree of latitude at that of 8366 feet. In Mexico, 
in the 19th and 20th degrees, perpetual frost com- 
mences, according to Humboldt^s measurements, at 
15,093 feet of elevation ; so that of the six colossal 
Bommits which are placed in the same line in the 
10th parallel of latitude, only four, namely, the 
Peak of Orizaba, Popocatepetl, Iztaccihuatl, and 
Nevado de Tolucca, are clothed with perennial 
snow ; while the Cofre de Perote and the Volcan de 
Colmia remain uncovered during the greater part of 
the year. None of the other mountains rise into so 
lofty a region. 

In general, in the equinoctial part of New-Spain, 
the soil, climate, and vegetation present a similar 
character to those of the temperate zone. Although 
the table-lands are singularly cold in winter, the 
temperature is much higher in summer than in the 
Andes of Peru, because the great mass of the Cor- 
dillera of Mexico, and the vast extent of its plains, 
produce a reverberation of the sun*s rays never ob- 
served in elevated countries of greater inequality. 

To the north of 20^ the rains, which fall only in 
June, July, August, and September, very seldom ex- 
tend to the interior. The mountains, being composed 
of porous amygdaloid and fissured porphyries, pre- 
sent few springs ; the filtrated water losing itself in 
the crevices opened by ancient volcanic eruptions, 
and issuing at the bottom of the cordilleras. 

The aridity of the central plain, on which there 

304 . TOLCAHOlft— coins. 

is a^ great defldencjr of wood, is pnJbdlMal ^to Ai 
workhig of the mines; and this natural stQ.hii 
been augmented since the arrival of EmopeaiNy ite 
have not only destroyed the trees witfaoot plante 
others, but have drained a large extent of gtoim, 
and thus increased the saline effloreacsncies vUA 
cover the surface and are hostOe- to cnltifatiaa. 
This dryness, however, is confined to the move Ml- 
vated plains ; and the declivities- of the coidflkoi 
being exposed to humid wii^ and foga, tlwir ^ — 
tation is uncommonly vigbions. 

Mexico is less mstuifoed by earthqnakei 
Quito, Guatimala^ and Cumana, althoc^jh tliess dt- 
structive commotions are by no ipeans rare oa fti 
western coasts, and in the neighbourhood of fti 
eai)ital, where, however, they are never ao vkM 
as in other parts of America. There^ are oii^ fife 
active volcanoes in all NeW'Spain; Orizaba, 'Pops- 
catepetl, Tustla, JoruUo, and Colima. 

The physical situation of that kingdom confen 
inestimable advantages upon it in a commercial 
point of view. Under careful cultivation it is capa- 
ble of producing all that commerce brings together 
from every part of the dobe ; sugar, cochineal, cacao, 
cotton, coffee, wheat, nemp, flax, silk, oil, and wine. 
It furnishes every metal, not even excepting me^ 
cury, and is supplied with the finest timber Tbot the 
coasts oppose obstacles which it will be difficidt to 
overcome . The western shores are indeed ftnnislied 
with excellent harbours ; but the eastern are atanost 
entirely destitute of them, the mouths of the riven 
there being choked up with sands, which are con- 
stantly adding to the land. Vera Cruz, the mincqwl 
port on this side, is merely an open roaa. Botii 
coasts, too, are rendered inaccessible for several 
months by severe tempests, which prevent all navi- 
gation. The north wmds, los nortes^ prevail in the 
Mexican Gulf from the autumnal to the vernal war 

)r. They are very violent in March, thooj^iisnaQy 

unrssaiTT OF cldulte. 801 

On the declivities of the cordiDera, at the elera- 
tMMi of 3937 or 4921 feet, there prevails a mild cli- 
mate, never varying more than fonr or five degrees. 
To this region, of which the mean amnial tempera- 
ture is from 68^ to 69*8^, the natives give the name 
of Tierras tempiadas. Unfortunately these tracts are 
fieanently covered with thick fogs, as they occupy 
ttie neight to which the ckmds uiraally ascend above 
the level of the sea. 

■ The plains which are elevated more than 7218 feet 
ibove that level, and of which the mean temperature 
ii under 63*6^, are named Tierras frias. The whole 
tahle-land of Mexico belongs to this description, 
which the natives consider cold, although the ordi- 
mny warmth is equal to that of Rome. There are 
plains of still greater elevation, on which, although 
ttey have a mean temperature of from 51 *8^ to 55*4^, 
mial to that of France and Lombardy, the vegetation 
Is less vigorous, and European plants do not thnwe so 
wen as in their native soil. The winters there are 
not extremely severe, but in summer the sun has 
not sufficient power over the rarified air to bring 
'frmts to perfect maturity. 

From the peculiar circumstances of New-Spain, as 
here sketched, the influence of geographical position 
i^MMi the vegetation is much less than that of the 
hflight of the ground above the sea. In the nine- 
teenfth and twentieth degrees of latitude, sugar, cot- 
Im, cacao, and indigo are produced abundantly only 
«t SB elevation of m>m 1968 to 2625 feet. Wheat 
thrives on the declivities of the mountains, along a 
sooe which commences at 4593 feet, and ends at 
9843. The bsuiana {Musm pmradisiaca), on the fruit 
of which the inhabitants of the tropics chiefly sob- 
KB seldom productive above 5085 feet; oaks 
only between 2625 and 9843 feet ; and pines 
descend lower than 6096, nor rise above 13,194 


806 • roiviJmQii.or MxiMMak 

350,000, and tiiat of deaflMi at JMO^OM. II 
thus appear that, if fbia rate of incmae wow Ml 
checked from time to time by some.mtgaot di Mff 
cause, the populalum of New-Spam wodid dow 
every nmeteen yean. In the United States Mf 
rally it. has dodbled, ainoe 1784, every tweaqr^ 
twenty^three yeara; and ui aomeof tbiraa ii dowH 
in thirteen or fourteen. In Fnmc«9 on Um olhH 
hand, the nomber of inhabitants woold doobls mSU 
years, were no wars or contaffioiiB djaeseeh to 
fere. Such is the diflference between 
have long been densely peopled and those 
civilization is of recent di^. Humboldt, ttcm ?■!• 
ous considerations, assumes tfie popolatioii of 
icO'in 1803 at 5,800,000: and thinks it 
probable that in 1808 it exceeded 0,600,000. 
The causes which retard the increase of : 
in Mexico are the «nall-poz, a diaesse called bf 
the Indians matlazahnatl, and ikmine. Tbe first cii 
these, which was introduced in 1530, seems to exert 
its power at periods of 17 or 18 years. In 1763, 
and in 1779, it committed dreadful ravages, having 
carried off during the latter, in the capital alone, 
more than 9000 persons. In 1797 it was leas de- 
structive, chiefly in consequence of the seal with 
which inoculation was propagated ; betwecm 50/100 
and 60,000 individuals having undetgone the opera- 
tion. The vaccine method was in^oduced in van* 
ous parts of Mexico and South America at the cooh 
mencement of the present centory. Humboldt 
mentions a curious circumstance, tending to show 
that the discovery of our celebrated c omiti y ma n 
Dr. Jenner had long been known to Uie eoonlfy 
people among the Andes of Peru. A negro slave, 
who had been inoculated for the small-poz, aihowed 
no symptom of the disease, and when the uaeti- 
tioners were about to repeat the operation, tola them 
he was certain that he should never take it; fbr, 
when milking cows in the moontainsy hs Ind bean 


^JTected with cutaneous eruptions, caused, as the 
herdsmen said, by the contact of pustules sometimes 
found on the udders. 

The frightful distemper called matlazahuatl, which 
is peculiar to the Indian race, seldom appears more ' 
than once in a century. It bears some resemblance 
to the yellow fever or black vomiting, which, how- 
ever, very seldom attacks the natives. The extent 
of its ravag^es is not known with any degree of cer- 
tainty, and it has not yet been submitted to medical 
investigation. Torquedama asserts that in 1545 it 
destroyed 800,000, and 2,000,000 in 1576 ; but these 
estimates are considered by Humboldt as greatly 

A third obstacle to the progress of population in 
New-Spain is famine. The American Indians, nat- 
urally mdolent, contented with the smallest quan- 
tity of food on which life can be supported, and hv- 
ing in a fine climate, merely cultivate as much maize, 
potatoes, or wheat as is necessary for their own 
maintenance, or at most for the additional consump- 
tion of the ac^acent tOMms and mines. The in- 
habitants of Mexico have increased in a greater rar 
tio than the means of subsistence, and accordingly, 
whenever ^e crops fall short of the demand, or are 
damaged by drought or other local causes, famine 
ensues. With want of food comes disease ; and 
these visitations, which are of not unfrequent occur- 
rence, are veryaestructive. 

The working of the mines has also contributed to 
the depopulation of America. At the period of the 
conquest many Indians perished from excessive toil, 
and^ as they were forced from their homes to dis- 
tant places, they usually died without leaving pro- 
geny. In New-Spain, however, such labour has 
been free for many years. The number employed 
in it does not exceed 26,000 or 30,000, and the mor- 
tality among them is not much greater than in other 



The Meiioan popiili^ttoii conslils tCtlie mmitji^ 
ments to that of the ottier Spanish coJonio, Setia 
races are distiTignmhed ■•— 1. Otuki^mUf or ^mtm 
bora in Europe ; S. Spanish ervofov,. or whites W 
European extraction bom in Amerk^s; S. ^ "' ' 
descendants of whites and Indiam ; 4. 
descendants of whites and negroes r A. 
scendants of negroes and Indians; 6. .Isrfi— »,<rflhi 
indigenoos race ; and, 7. Afincaii iMmM. 

T%e Indians appear to constitiite n least two4Rkl 
ofthewhole. Humboldt seems to fomar tlie Offe 
ion, that the Aztecs, who inhahited New-Spu rt 
the period of the conquest, may lunre bosa sf 
Asiatic origin. As the mimtiotts of the Am 
tribes haye alwa3r8 taken uace firom norfh to 
the native population of this cduitiy must ne 
rily connst of very heterogeneoos el e mea t a. „^ 
number of languages exceeds 90; andof fheae ib«» 
teen have tolerably comidete grammars and dietifm- 
aries. Most of these tongues, so far firom beiqg 
only dialects of the same, as some authors have as- 
serted, present as little affinity to each other as the 
Greek and the German. The variety spoken by the 
indigenous inhabitants of America forms a very 
striking contrast with the small number used in Ana 
and Europe. The Aztec or Mexican is the most 
widely distributed. 

The Indians of New-Spain bear a general ressm- 
blance to those of Florida, Canada, Peru, andBrasiL 
They have the same dingy copper colour, straight 
and smooth hair, deficient beard, squat body, elon- 
gated and oblique eyes, prominent cneekbones, and 
thick lips. But altnoug:h the American tribes havs 
thus a certain uniformity of character, they diilto 
as much from each other as the numerous variettts 
of the European or Caucasian race. Those who 
live in this province have a more swarthy corndkex- 
ion than the inhabitants of the warmest parts ofths 
south. They have also a much moio ifmiriff^ 


beard than the other tribes, and in the neighbour- 
hood of the capital they even wear small mousta- 
ches. Pursuing a quiet and indolent life, and ac- 
customed to uniform nourishment of a vegetable 
nature, they would no doubt attain a very great lon- 
gevity were they not extremely addicted to drunk- 
euness. They exist in a state of great morsd de- 
gradation, bemg entirely destitute of religion, al- 
though they have exchanged their original rites for 
those of Catholicism. The men are grave, melan- 
cholic, and taciturn ; forming a striking contrast to 
the negroes, who for this reason are preferred by 
the Indian women. Long habituated to slavery, 
they patiently suffer the privations to which they 
are frequently subjected ; opposing to them oidy a 
degree of cunning, veiled under the appearance of 
apathy and stupidity. Although destitute of imagi- 
nation, they are remarkable for the facility with 
which they acquire a knowledge of languages ; and, 
notwithstanding their usual taciturnity, they become 
loquacious and eloquent when excited by important 
occurrences. It is unnecessary to speak of the ne- 
groes, of whom there are very few in Mexico, their 
character being the same as in other countries where 
slavery is permitted. 

No city of the New Continent, not even except- 
ing those of the United States, possesses more im- 
portant scientific establishments than Mexicp. Of 
these Humboldt mentions particularly the School of 
Mines, the Botanic Garden, which has however 
fallen into a state of neglect, and the Academy of 
Fine Arts. The influence of this institution is per- 
ceptible in the symmetry of the buildings which 
adorn the capital. 

New-Spain is divided into 15 districts, which he 
arranges as follows : — 

I. In the Temperate Zone — 82,000 square leagues ; 
677,000 inhabitants, or eight to the square league — 

310 iMTmiMjRnr ^ ■■■■piiai ,>, 

(1,059,193 sqiiareiiiilM; liilinliiltg||jfcloaieHMW 


!■' ■■■ 

A. Nortfwm lacten, ki tkt faiBrlMr. . 
1. Praviaoe ofNew-Hexisok aloBf tte Bli M ltal% 

% iBtoBAiiwy of Neiv-]ilMij,t» tbm 
IfotCo, M Ike «eiiinliabto4«iid. 

B. Nortli-w«atani EegiiMi.ia Ike Tietato oC tk^^MMi Own. 

3. Frorlnee of New-OalUbnria, §■ we MWki w t mmt tt Witk 

i. Froriiwe of Old CtOftnta, tkt 

ten tbe torrid sone. 
ft.' iMfliidaiiey of La SooonL wktflk Idao •■■« tk» 
C. Nertk•etaterpB«giol^a4K>iBlBC1te6flIrar 
6. Inteadaocy W San Lola PoM. 

II. In the ToERiD Zo!ifr-''36,500 flquare 
5,160,000 inhabitants, or 141 to Umi square 
(471,470 square miles ; inhabitanti 11 to 11m 

D. Central Region. 

7. Intendancy of Zacatecae. 

8. Intendancy of Guadalaxara. 

9. Intendancy of Ckumaxnato. 

10. Intendancy of ValladoUd. 

11. Intendancy of Mexieo. 

12. Intendancy of Puebla. 
IS. Intendancy of Vera Gnia. 

E. SoiMh-weatem RMioo. 
14. Intendancy of Oaxaea. 
1ft. latendancy of Bferida. 

Without attempting to present an analysis of our 
author's statistical account of these different pror- 
inces, we shall select from his descriptioiis those 
parts which may prove most interesting to the gen- 
eral reader. 

1. The intendancy of Mexico is entirely within 
the torrid zone. More than two-thirds of it are 
mountainous, and contain extensive plains elevated 
from 2131 to 2451 feet above the sea. Only one 
summit, the Nevado de Tolucca, 12fe,168 feet in 
height, enters the re^ow of v^rpetual snow. 

The vaJley of ^eidco.oi'" -'^"''" 


' On the declivities of the cordiAera, at the eleva* 
lion of 3937 or 4921 feet, there prevails a mild cli- 
mate, never varying more than four or five degrees. 
To tins region, of which the mean annual tempera- 
ture is from 68^ to 69 '8°, the natives give the name 
t)i Tierms templadas. Unfortunately these tracts are - 
frequently covered with thick fogs, as they occupy 
^e neight to which the clouds usually ascend above^ 
the level of the sea. 

• The plains which are elevated more than 7218 feet 
above that level, and of which the mean temperature 
IB under 62*6**, are named Tierras frias. The whole 
table-land of Mexico belongs to this description, 
whiph the natives consider cold, although the ordi- 
nary warmth is equal to that of Rome. There are 
l^ains of still greater elevation, on which, although 
they have a mean temperature of from 51 'S** to 65*4®, ' 
«qual tothat of France and Lombardy, the vegetation 
18 less vigorous, and European plants do not thrive so 
well as in their native soil. The winters there are 
not extremely severe, but in summer the sun has 
not sufficient power over the rarified air to bring 
droits to perfect maturity. 

From tne peculiar circumstances of New-Spain, as 
here sketched, the influence of geographical position 
xxpon the vegetation is much less than that of the 
height of the ground above the sea. In the nine- 
teenth and twentieth degrees of latitude, sugar, cot- 
ton, cacao, and indigo are produced abundantly only 
«t an elevation of from 1968 to 2625 feet. Wheat 
drives on the declivities of the mountains,' along a 
zone which commences at 4593 feet, and ends at 
W43. The banana (Musa paradisiaca), on the fruit 
of which the inhabitants of the tropics chiefly sub- 
rtflt, is seldom productive above 5085 feet ; oaks 
grow only between 2625 and 9843 feet ; and pihes 
never descend lower than 6096, nor rise above 13,184 



■ with deconUons, nor diafleared by wooden balconie. 
and galleiies. The roofs are terraced; and lie j 
streeto, which aro clean and well lighted, have verf f 
broad paTementa. The water of the lake is brack- % 
Bh, B8 is that of all the wells ; but the city is sa^ 
plied br two fine aqueducts. The objects which 
geaeraUy attract the notice of travellers are, 1. The 
cathedral, which litis two towers ornamented wiSi 
pilastaw and etntnes ; 2. The treasury ; 3. The CO* 
vents, of which tlie most distinguished is that of 
St. Prancifl ; 4. The hospital ; 5. The acordada, afiw 
^bnildiiig, of which the prisons are apaclous andwd 
•iBfeired; S. Tbb school of mines; 7. The botained 
"^rarien; 8. The university; 9. The academy of Bn 
arti; 10. Tbe equestrian statue of Charles IV., is 
the great aquare. 

Few remaiiiB of ancient monumenta are to ta 
found in the town or its vicinity. Of Umm that 
esist, the chief are the rains of the Azt*c dffeai 
and aqueducts ; the sacrificial stone, adorned with* 
relievo representing the triumph of a Mexican kiog; 
the great calendar in the plaza mayor ; the coIoihI 
statue of the goddess Teoyaomiqui, in ona of ths 
gallericB of the university; the Axtec mamiBCripIs 
or hieroglyphic al pictures preserved in the booaeof 
the vicero)^ ; and the foundations of the p^Jace bo- 
longing to the sovereigns of Alcolhuacan at TaoKO. 
The only remarkable antiquities in the TaDay of 
Mexico are the remains of the two pjrnimids of San 
Juan de Teotihuacan, to the aorth-eaat q( Uw laka 
of Tezcuco, consecrated to the eun andmoon. One 
of these in its present state is a hundred and Sttj 
feet in height, the other a hundred and foi^-tbui. 
The interior is clay mixed with smatl stones, wfaOe 
the facmga are of porous amygdaloid, and Qiey an 
surrounded' by a group of smaller eleratloD, dis- 
posed in a regular aehee. Another ancleiit ob^ 
worthy of notice is the military intrraobnwt at 
XocUcalco, t9 the 6.8. W. of th9 town of Cvenu- 


race, near Teteama. It consists of a hill 387 feet. 
higb, flnmronnded by ditches or trenches, and divided 
into fiye terraces covered with masonry ; the whole 
fonning a .truncated pyramid, the four faces of 
which correspond to the four cardinal points. The 
porpliyritic stones are adorned with hieroglyphical 
iigvves, among virhich are crocodiles, and men sit- 
Wf cross-legged in the Asiatic manner. Other 
relics and plaices connected with the history of the 
conquest are shown to the stranger ; but of these it 
is. imnecessary to speak. 

Our author estimates the population of Mexico as 
follows : — 

White Europeans 3,500 

WUte ereolefl 66,000 

Oopper-eoloared luuivee 33,000 

IfMtizoee, mixture ofwhitee ind Indians 26,500 

Mttlattoes 10,000 


The annual number of births for a mean term of 
' 100 years is 5930, and that of deaths 5050 ; while in 
New-Spain, in general, the relation of the births to 
the population is as 1 to 17, and that of the deaths 
18 1 to 30, so that the mortality in the capital ap- 
pears much CTcater. The great conflux of sick per- 
sons to the hospitals, and, on the other hand, the 
celibacy of the numerous clergy, the progress of 
luxury, and other causes, induce this disproportion. 

According to researches made by the Count de 
Reyillagigedo, the consumption of Mexico in 1791 
was as follows : — 


Fowls l,Sft5,340 

Docks 135,000 

Turkeys 205,000 

Pigeons 65.301 

Partridges 140,000 



Calves 450 

Sheep t78.033 

~ 50/J76 

and Rabbits M/)00 



Barle^-eu|u, 4O^lflb«107/Ni L a buriMto. 


PnlqM, tke fcniMnted jnlee or 

Wine and vimMar— bsmte of 4f anmbM, 4^Bi)7W^lJW Ll 
Brandy— barreiB, lS/X)Osa01,06i L 8. ndk. ^ 

BpaakAoil— anobaaofa5pttiDya.flvaafa»Mi^M>l.a. gpiiT, - 

The market is abandantty Bopplied with TQgel^^ 
of numerous kinds, which aare brought in e¥0iy M flBh 
ingr by the Indians in boats. Most of tfaieiie are cit> 
tivated on the chinampas or gardens, some M wUih 

Afloat upon the neiffhbourihg sheet of water, 
others are fixed in Qie marshy grounds.*. 

The surface of the four pnncipal lakes in ttovtl- 
ley of. Mexico occupies nearly a tenth pf its estoil^ 
or 168 square miles. Hhe lake of Xochimiko eoft* 
tains 49^, that of Tezcuco 77, of San Christobal97^ 
and of Zumpango 9^, square miles. The vaDcy 
itself is a basin enclosed by a wall of porphyritic 
mountains, and all the water furnished by tne sur- 
rounding Cordilleras is collected in it. No stream 
issues from it excepting the brook of Tequtsquiac, 
which joins the Rio de Tula. The lakes rise by 
stages in proportion to their distance from its centre, 
or, in other words, from the site of the capital 
Next to the lake of Tezcuco, Mexico is the least ele- 
vated point of the valley, the plaza mayor or great 
square being only 1 foot 1 inch higher than the mean 
level of its water, which is lU feet lower thanth^ 
of San Christobal. Zumpango, which is the most 

* " These are long narrow atripa of ground redeemed tkom Ite wm^ 
rounding awanip,and interaectedbyslKnaU canala. They all aonar li 
abound in very fine vegetables, and ttvety-fbliaged poplai* iwwiiHr 
shadowed their extrumiUes. The little gardens oonstmctedoobwhiab 
or wooden rafts, no longer exist in the immediate vieioity of Maxiea: tal 
I learned that some may yet be seen at Inchlmileo, a place near ^ * ~ 
mtin de Us Cuevaa."~Captuiii LwnCs hmA '^u ttmUi 
Tow in tkt lUsvXMt ^ Mexico^^^a. \i. ^. \\^. 

nnrNDATioNs. 815 

nor&era, is S9*211 inches higher than the surface 
of Tezcuco ; while that of Chalco, at the southern 
extremity, is only 3*632 feet more elevated tlranthe 
great square of Mexico. 

In consequence of this peculiarity, the city has, 
for a long series of ages, been exposed to inunda- 
tions. The lake of Zumpango, swelled by an unusual 
rise of the Rio de Gnautitlan, flows over Uito that of 
San Christobal, which again bursts the dike that 
separates it from Tezcuco. The water of this last 
is consequently augmented, and flows with impet- 
uosity into the streets of Mexico. Since the arrival 
of the Spaniards the town has experienced five 
mat floods, the latest of which happened in 1629. 
In more recent periods there have been several 
alarming appearances, but the city was preserved 
from any actual loss by the desague or canal, which 
was formed for the purpose. 

The situation of the capital is more exposed to 
danger, because the bed of the lake is progressively 
rising in consequence of the mud carried into it, and 
ttie difference between it and the level of the plain 
diminishing. Previous to the conquest, and for some 
time after, it was defended by dikes; but this method 
having been found ineffectual, the viceroy in 1607 
employed Enrico Martinez, a native of Germany, to 
effect the evacuation of the lakes. After making an 
exact survey of the valley, he presented two plans 
for canals, the one to empty those of Tezcuco, Zum- 
pango, and San Christobal, the other to drain that of 
Zumpango alone. The latter scheme was adopted, 
and in consequence, the famous subterraneous gal- 
lery of Nochistongo was commenced on the 28th 
November, 1607. Fifteen thousand Indians were 
emploved, and after eleven months of continued la- 
bour the work was completed. Its length was more 
than 21,654 feet, its breadth 11*482, and its height 
13*780. On the opposite side of the hill of Nochis- 

toDgo 2$ the Rio da Tula, ^YucYkrsD& vc^^^^>^^^ 

316 nnim^Tioiifl. 

Panuco« and from the ncnthem or CBrtber bztmdif 
of the gallery an open trench, fSS^l6 fe«i loBg,v«» 
cut to carry the-water to the former river. Sooi 
after the current began to flow throngfa fUs utiionl 
channel^ it gradually occasioned depoeitioiis and tOh 
Bions, so that it became necessyiy to eappoit At 
roof, which was. composed of marl and dicy. Tv 
this purpose wood was at first employed, and all»- 
ward masonry; but the arches being soon mte^ 
mined, the passage at length was obstnicted. 
. Seyeral plans were now proposed^ and in 1614 At 
court of Madrid sent to MezioQ a Dutch tinniaiwi, 
Adrian Bool, who advised the conatractioa of cMk 
dikes after the Indian plan. A new yicmtiyy anh 
ever, having recently arrived, who had nerervi^ 
nessed the effects of an inundaticHi, oidoted Ifail^ 
nez to stop up the subterraneous passaoe, and biIbi 
the water of the upper lakes return to £e bed of the 
Tezcuco, that he miffht see if the danser were w$Xtf 
60 great as it had been represented! Being con- 
vinced that it was so, he ordered the German to re- 
commence his operations in the gallery. Theenjp- 
neer accordingly proceeded to clear it, and contm- 
ued working until the 20th June, 1639, when Hxidiaf 
the mass of water too great to be received by tlus 
narrow outlet, he closed it in order to prevent its 
destruction. In the morning the city of Mexico 
was flooded to the depth of three feet, and, con- 
trary to expectation, remained in that state for five 
years. In this interval various nlans were proposed 
for draining the neighbouring lake, althou|^ none 
of them was carried into eflect ; but the inimdatiOB 
at length subsided in consequence of a succession 
of earthquakes. 

Martinez, who had been imprisoned from a belief 
that he had closed the gallery for the purpose of 
aflfording the incredulous a proof of the utility of 
his work, was now set at liberty^ and constructed 
the- dike of San ClaisXoYi^ "fta N«^a^^^\%^\ft^»=> 


UuTffe the gadlery ; but the operations were conducted 
wim very little energy, and in the end it was deter- 
mined to abandon the plan, to remove the top of the 
Tault, and to convert it into an open passage by cut- 
ting through the hill. A lawyer, named Martin de 
Sous, undertook the management of this enterprise; 
though it required nearly two centuries to complete 
the work ; the canal not being opened in its whole 
length until 1789. As it now appears, it is stated by 
Humboldt to be one of the most gigantic hydraulic 
operations executed by man. Its len^h is 67,537 feet, 
its greatest depth 197, and its greatest breadth 361. 

Tiie safety of the capital depends, 1st, On the 
stone dikes, which prevent the water of the lake of 
Zumpango from passing into that of San Christobal, 
and tne latter from flowing into the Te^cuco ; 2d, 
to the ^es and sluices which prevent the lakes of 
Chalco and Xochimilco from overflowing ; 3d, On 
the great cut of Enrico Martinez, by which the Rio 
de Guautitlan passes across the hills in the valley 
oC Tula ; and, 4th, On the canak by which the Zum- 
rango and San Christobal may be completely drained. 
ITiese means, however expensive and numerous as 
they must appear, are insufficient to secure it against 
immdations proceeding from the north and north- 
west ; and our author asserts, that it will continue ex- 
posed to great risks until a canal shall be directly 
apeaed from the lake of Tezcuco. 

The intendancy of Mexico contains, besides the 
ca{Htal, several towns of considerable size, of which 
the more important are, Tezcuco, Acapnlco, Tolucca, 
and Queretaro, the latter having a population of 
iMify-fiFe thousand. 

9. The fiovemment of Puebla is wholly situated 
in the tomd zone, and is bounded on the north-east 

2, that of Vera Cruz, on the south by the ocean, on 
9 east by the province of Oaxaca, and on the west 
Iff that of Mexico. It is traversed by the cordille- 
cas of Anahnac, and contains the highest mountain 



in New-Spain, the volcanaofPopoeatopetL Agml 
portion, )M>weTer, consiKrti of an dm&od plaiaiA 
which, are cultivated wheat, maixe, 

The'population is concentrated on, thia 
extendinff from the eaatem slope of tfa» Nevatai« 
Snowy Mountains, to the Tidnity of Berete. H 
exhibits Remarkable vestiges of ancieaft M^ mw i 
civilization. The gxeal pyramid of ChflUft hss • 
much lar^rer base trnm any edifice of the kind ia At 
Old Contment, its horizontal breadth being not Ins 
than 1440 feet; but its present hei^t is oaifMtf' 
nine yards, while the platform' oil urn snnunit his a 
surface of 45,310 feet. 

At the village of Atlizeo is seen a cy^a e sa (0^ 
pressus disiicha) 76 feet in ciieinaference, wUn ii 
probably one of the oldest vegaWile BMHiiinMttls <a 
the g)obe.* There are very oraaldierahle aaltwiaki 
in this intendancy, and a beantiM maiUe is qoaflM 
in the vicinity of Puebla. The principal towns aie 
that just named, containing a population of ^fiOOf 
Cholula, Tlascala, and Atlixco. 

3. The intendancy of Guanaxuato, situated on the 
ridge of the cordillera of Anahuac, is Ihe most 
populous in New-Spain, and contains three cities, 
Guanaxuato, Celayo, and Salvatierra, four towns, 37 
villages, and 448 farms or haciendas. It is in gene- 
ral highly cultivated, and possesses the msML import- 
ant mines in that section of the New World. 

4. The intendancy of Valladolid is bounded an the 
north by the Rio de Lerma ; on the east and nmrth- 

* " On entering the fardens (rf* Chftpnltqpto (i 

object that strikes the eye is the magnUloeDt aj f uiui (j. 

or Cupnsstu distieha), called the GypreM fir Mnni §■■■■. H 

tained its fhll growth when that veoardi was on ttM Omam {IMa. at 
thai it must now be at least 400 years old. fBtltatUl raCilMitll OMVtaBW 
of yonthAil vegetation. The trunk is 41 ikal la tinvMkimm, laMbt 

height is so iM^estie as to make even this ciwtBaviiaMsaBpMrMiiv* 
— FForvPs Mexico in 18S7, vol. iL p. SSO. Tha mow mEbt m 
another cypress, 38 ftet In girth, ud of «qpat lH%)U lilkHirJ 


east by that of Mexico ; on the south by the district 
of Guanaxuato ; and on the west by the province of 
Giiadalaxara. Bein^ situated on the western de- 
clivity of the Cordillera of Anahuac and intersected 
,1^ hius and beautiful valleys, it in general enjoys a 
mild and temperate climate. The volcano of Jorullo, 
already described, is situated in this intendancy, which 
has three cities, three towns, and 263 viUages. The 
southern part is inhabited by Indians. 

6. The province of Guadalaxara is bounded on the 
north by the governments of Sonora and Durango, 
on the east by those of Zacatecas and Guanaxuato, 
on the south by the district of ValladoUd, and on 
the west by the Pacific Ocean. Its greatest breadth 
is 345 miles, and its greatest length 407. It is 
crossed from east to west by the Rio de Santiago, 
which is of considerable size. The eastern portion 
consists of the elevated platform and western de- 
clivity of the Cordilleras of Anahuac. The maritime 
puts are covered with forests, which abound in 
excellent timber. The volcano of Colima, situated 
in this district, is the most western of those of New- 
Spain. It frequently throws up ashes and smoke ; 
bat its height is not so great as to carry its summit 
into the region of perpetual snow. The most re- 
markable towns are, Guadalaxara, which has a pop- 
ulation of 19,500, San Bias, a port at the mouth of 
the Santia^, and Compostella. 

6. The intendancy of Zacatecas, bounded on the 
north by Durango, on the east by San Luis Potosi, 
on the south by Guanaxuato, and on the west by 
Guadalaxara, is 393 miles in lengthy and 176 in 
breadth. The table-land, which forms its central 
part, is composed of syenite and primitive slate. 
Near Zacatecas are nine small lakes, abounding in 
muriate and carbonate of soda. This district is very 
thinly peopled, although the town has 33,000 inhab- 

7. The intendancy of Oazac» is one of the most 


delightful countries in the New (Continent, pome»- 
ing great fertility of soil and salubrity of climate. 
It is Dounded on the north by Guatimala ; on the wMt 
by the province of Puebla ; and on the south by Am 
Pacific Ocean. The mountainous parts are composed 
of granite and gneiss. The vegetation is eveiy- 
where exceedingly beautiful. At the village of 
Santa Maria del Tule, ten miles east of the capital, 
there is an enormous tnmk of Cuprestus duMtt 
118 feet in circumference, though it seems rather to 
be formed of tliree stems grown into one. 

The most remarkable object in this district is flie 
palace of Mitia, the walls of which are decorated 
with grecques and labyrinths in mosaic, resemUiqf 
the ornaments of Tuscan vases. It consists of thno 
edifices, and is morever distinguished from other 
ancient Mexican building by six porphyritic columni 
which support the ceinng of a vast halL These 
pillars have neither base nor capital ; each exhflnts 
a single block of stone, and the height is about six- 
teen feet. Oaxaca, the principal town, contained, in 
the year 1792, twenty-four thousand inhabitants. 
Some of the mines are very productive. 

8. The intendancy of Merida comprehends the 
great peninsula of Yucatan, situated between the 
Bay of Campeachy and that of Honduras. It is 
bounded on the south by Guatimala, on the east bf 
the province of Vera Cniz, and on the west by the 
English establishments, which extend from the mouth 
of the Rio Hondo to the north of the Bay of Han- 
over. This peninsula is a vast plain, intersected by 
a chain of hills ; and though one of the warmest, it 
is at the same time one of the healthiest provinces 
of equinoctial America. The latter circumstance is 
to be attributed to the extreme dryness of the soil 
and atmosphere. No European grain is produced ; 
but maize, jatropha, and dioscorea are cultivated in 
abundanc^^ The Hcematoxylon or Campeachy wood 


aboimdB in several districts. Merida, the capital, 
has apopulation of 10,000. 

9. Tlie government of Vera Cruz extends along the 
Mexican Gulf from the Rio Baraderas to the great 
river of Panuco. The western part forms the de- 
divity of the cordilleras of Anahuac, from whence, 
unid the regions of perpetual snow, the inhabitants 
descend in a day to the burning plains of the coast. 
In this district are displayed in a remarkable manner 
the gradations of vegetation, from the level of the 
sea to those elevated summits which are visited with 
perennial frost. In ascending, the traveller sees the 
physiognomy of the country, the aspect of the sky, 
the form of the plants, the figures of animals, the 
inaimers of the inhabitants, and the kind of cultiva- 
tion followed b^ them, assuming a different appear- 
ance at every step. Leaving the lower districts, 
covered with a beautifiQ and luxuriant vegetation, he 
first enters that in which the oak appears, where he 
lias no longer cause to dread the yellow fever, so fatal 
on the coasts. Forests of liquidambar, near Xalapa, 
announce by their freshness the elevation at which 
the strata of clouds, suspended over the ocean, come 
in contact with the basaltic summits of the cordil- 
leras. A little higher the banana ceases to yield 
fruit. At the height of San Miguel pines begin to 
mingle with the oaks, which continue as far as the 
plains of Perote, where the cereal vegetation of 
Curope is seen. Beyond this, the former alone 
cover the rocks, the tops of which enter the region 
of perpetual frigidity. 

At the foot of the cordillera, in the evergreen 
forests of Papsiutla, Nautla, and S. Andre Tuxtla, 
grdwB the vanilla, the fruit of which is used for 
perfuming chocolate. The beautiful convolvulus, 
whose root furnishes the jalap of the apothecaries, 
grows near the Indian villages of Colipa and Mi- 
sautla. The pimento-myrtle is produced in the woods 
which extend towards the river ol ^^t^j^t^« ^^ 

thedecllvitieBOfOrialMitobsccoof excellentqL , 

iB cultivated ; and the unqwtilla grows in the moiA 1 
and shady nvtDeB. Cotton ami sugar of excpllHnt ] 
quality are producod ilong the grenter part of tlM 

In thia intendancy bk two colossal suniiiiilv~ 
the volcano of Orizabai which sfter PopocatepMA 
the highest in New-Spain, and the Cofte de PeiC^ 
ivhich ia nearly 1319 feet more elevated than 
Peak of Tenerifie. Ln tl> northern part, near _. 
Indian villa^ of Pqiantll, il a pyramidal edifice or 
«^tantiqu]ty,rituatedint)winidstor athickfineil. 
It is not oonAnicted of bricks, or clay mixed villi 
stone, and feced widi amyidaloid, like those of (%o- 
lida and Tectihoacani (»um contrary, the outoiili 
Mnployed have been immense blocks of ponbnr. 
The base ia an exact aqnaie, 83 feet on eoeft am 
and the perpendicular height seems to be about Mil?. 
It ia composed of several i-tttges, of which soow 
are still distinguishable. A great stair of STsI^ 
conducts to the truncated summit. 

The most remarkable cities are Vera Cr«z, Perote, 
Cordoba, and Orizaba. The first of these, the centn 
of European and West Indian commerce, is bsudi- 
fully and regularly built ; but it is situated in u arid 
plain, destitute of running water, and partly eovend 
with shifting eand-hills, which contribute to inaeiM 
the sufTocating beat of the air. In the midst of 
' thc8e downs are marshy land^ covered ^th iliiio- 
phora and other plants. No stones for architectnnl 
purposes are to be found near the city, whidh il 
entirely constructed of coral rock drawn bom tht 
bottom of the sea. The water is venr bad, and b 
obtained either by dig^ng in the sanely soil, or bf 
collecting the rain in cisterns. 

Xalapa, the population of which is estimated tf 
13,000, occupies a very romantic situation at the fbol 
of the basaltic n\oui«a\i\Q(Macultepec,siUTOiinded by 
forests of alyia*, v*Sftt^'o^^l»s,'««»Bl,^mi^««,fe^■ 


The sky is beandM and serene in summer, but from 
December to February it has a most melancholy 
aspect, and, whenever the north wind blows, is 
orercast to such a degree that the sun and stars are 
frequently invisible for two or three weeks together. 
8ome of the merchants of Vera Cruz have country- 
houses at Xalsq[)a, where they enjoy a cool and 
agreeable retreat, while the coast is almost unin- 
habitable, on account of the intense heats, the mos- 
quitoes, and the yellow fever. 

10. The captaincy of San Luis Potosi embraces 
tiie whole north-eastern part of New-Spain, and is 
extremely diversified in its character. The only 

K^rtion which is cold and mountainous is that ad- 
iniiig the province of Zacatecas, and in which are 
the rich mines of Charcas, Guadalcagar, and Catorce. 
There is a great extent of low ground, partly cul- 
tiyated, but for the most part barren and uninhabited. 
Iti) coast line is more than 794 miles in length ; but 
hardly s^y commerce enlivens it, owing to the de- 
ficiency of harbours. The mouths of the rivers, 
too, are blocked up by bars, necks of land, and long 
islands running parallel to the coast. 

11. New-Biscay or Durango occupies a greater 
apace of ground than Great Britain and Ireland, 
though its population does not exceed 160,000. It is 
iKnmded on the south by Zacatecas and Guadalaxara ; 
on the south-east by San Luis ; and on the west by 
Sonora. On the northern and eastern sides, for more 
than 690 miles, it borders on an uncultivated country 
iDhabited by independent Indians. This intendancy 
comprehends the northern extremity of the great 
table-land of Anahuac, which declines towards the 
Rio Grande del Norte. 

12. The province of Sonora is still more thinly 
peopled than Durango. It extends on the shores of 
the Gulf of California more than 966 miles. 

13. New-Mexico, which is very sparingly inhabited, 


Stretches along the Rio Norte, and has a remarkably 
cold climate. 

14. Old California equals England in extent of 
territory, but has only a population of 9000. The 
soU of this peninsula is parched and sandy, and the 
vegetation feeble ; but the sky is constantly clear, and 
of a deep blue ; the light clouds which sometimes ap- 
pear presenting at sunset the most beantiful shades 
of violet, purple, and green. A chain of mountains, 
the highest of which is about 5000 feet, runs through 
the centre of the peninsula, and is inhabited by ani- 
mals resembling the mouflon of Sardinia, which the 
Spaniards call wild sheep. The principal attraction 
which California has afforded to Europeans since the 
16th century is the great quantity of pearls found in 
it, and which, although frequently of an irregular 
form, are large and of a very beautiful water At the 
present day, however, this fishery is almost entirely 

15. New-California is a long and narrow country, 
identifying itself with the shore of the Pacific Ocean 
from the isthnms of Old California to Cape Mendo- 
cino. It is extremely picturesque, and enj03r8 a 
fertile well-watered soil, with a temperate climate. 
Wheat, barley, maize, beans, and other useful plants 
thrive well, as do the vine and olive ; but the popular 
tion is scanty compared to the territory. A Cordil- 
lera of small elevation runs along the coast, and the 
forests and prairies are filled with deer of gigantic 



StaliMtieal Aeeawnt of yeic- Spain canthmeJ. 

of Ifauco— BwM— , Xnuoe, md Mmsb— Ccml PiMiTi 

IfvirttlTS Boom and VefeCiblm— Agave 
■odttloo— Gutle, and Aniaial nodi 

I_ A couiiTBT extending from the sixteenth to the 

\l QuTty-seyenth deg;ree of latitude, and presenting a 

7 great Tariety of surface, necessarily affords numerous 

~ inodifications of climate. Such is the admirable dis- 

I tribotion of heat on the globe, that the strata of the 

atmosphere become colder as we ascend, while those 

of the sea are warmest near the surface. Hence, 

lOider the tropics, on the declivities of the cordilleras, 

^mA in the depths of the ocean, the plants and marine 

animals of Uie polar regions find a temperature suited 

to their deyelopment It may easily be conceived 

that, in a nnountainous country like Mexico, having 

so great a diversity^ of elevation, temperature, and 

8oU, the variety of indigenous productions must be 

immense ; and that most of the plants cultivated in 

other paits of the globe may there find situations 

adapted to their nature. 

Tliere, however, the principal objects of afri cul- 
ture are not the productions which European luxury 
draws (rom the West India islands, but the grasses, 
nutritive roots, and the agave. The appearance of 
the land proclaims to the traveller that the natives 
arc nourished by the soil, and that they are inde- 

endent of foreign commerce. Yet agriculture is 
' no means so flourishing as might be expected 
from its natural resources, sdthough considerable im- 
provement has been effected of late years. The de- 
preaeed state of cultivation, it is true, has been attrib- 


uted to the existence of numeroni ricli n 
Hmnboldt, on the contrary, maintainB that 1 
ing of tiiese ores has been beneficial in canf 
places ta be improred which would othen 
remained steriL When' a vein fe openi 
banen ridge oftiiecordiOeras, the new coh 
only dnnr 'the meana of aubaiatence fron 
diatance. Want soim excites to industry, : 
>bedn to be established in the neifffabourhc 
hij^ price of proviaiojoa indenmines the 
for the haid-hfe to which he ia exposed 
nrrines and yalleys become ^gradually cov 
food. When the mineral treaaurea are exhs 
woilunen no doiibt emigrate, ao that tiie p 
iadjminjahfd; birt the aettlera are retainei 
* attaehment to the spot in which tlMry ha 
their childhood. The Indiana, moreoYer, i 
lag in the soUtades of the mountains rem 
the whites, and this circumstance tends to 
the number of inhabitants in such districts. 

In describing the vegetable productions 
Spain, our author begins with those which 
principal support of the people, then treat 
class which affords materials for manufac 
ends with such as constitute objects of con 

The banana {Miua paradisiac<i) is to the in 
of the torrid zone wnat the cereal grasses 
barley, and rye — are to Western Asia and 
and what the numerous varieties of rice a 
natives of India and China. Forster ai 
naturalists have maintained that it did not 
America previous to the arrival of the Spani 
that it was imported from the Canary Islam 
beginning: of the I6th century; and in su; 
this opinion may be adduced the silence of C< 
Alonzo Nejrro, Pinzon, Vespucci, and Cori 
respect to it. This circumstance, howev< 
proves the inattention of these travellers to 
dactions ot the aoii\ ^xi!i\\.>&v^QbBble that t 

BANANA. 327 

3 ptesented several species indigenous to different 

- parts of both continents. The space fayouralf)le to 
jf the cultivation of this valuable plant in Mexico is 
-;■ more than 50,000 square leagues, and has nearly a 
-^. .million and a half of inhabitants. In the warm and 
7^ humid valleys of Vera Cruz, at the foot of the cor- 
.z dillera of Orizaba, the fruit occasionally exceeds 

ire inches in circumference, with a length of seven 

- or eight. A bunch sometimes contains from 160 to 
: I60y and weighs from 66 to 88 lb. avoirdupois. 

Humboldt doubts whether there is any other plant 
; on the globe which, in so small a space of ground, 
can produce so great a mass of nutriment. Eight 
or nine months after the sucker has been inserted in 
the earth the banana begins to form its clustenk^d 
tiie fruit may be gathered in less than a year. Wnen 
the stalk is cut, there is always found among the 
numerous shoots which have put forth roots one that 
bears thfee months later. A plantation is perpetuated 
without any other care than that of cutting the stems 
on which the fruit has ripened, and giving the earth 
a slight dressing. A spot of 1076 feet may contain 
at least from thirty to forty plants, which, in the 
space of a year, at a very moderate calculation, will 
yield more than 4410 lb. avoirdupois of nutritive sub- 
stance. Our author estimates, that the produce of 
the banana is to that of wheat as 133 : 1, and to that 
of potatoes as 44 : 1. 

In America numerous preparations are made of 
this fruit, both before and after its maturity. When 
fully ripe it is exposed to the sun, and preserved like 
our figs ; the skin becoming black, and exhaling a pe- 
culiar odour like that of smoked ham. This dry ban- 
ana (Platanopassado), which is an object of commerce 
in the province of Mechoacan, has an agreeable taste, 
and is a very wholesome article of food. Meal or 
flour is obtained from it, by being cut into slices, dried 
in the sun, and pounded. 

It is calculated that the same extent of ground la 

yUndeo on whzcli the banaza is raised is taf/MB 
of maatitaoDUiq fiftr indrridnal:*. wfiereas in Earapi 
iuwierwh«atitwoiddii0tfixmL3hsGbezstenc« for two; 
and nothing strikes atrarcller more than tlie ifiininn 
tiTe app^sarukce of the spots under csltare romnd a 
hot wmch contains a mnneroas famihr. 

The region where it is coltxrat^ prodoces alsotte 
Taluable plant (Jairopka) of which the root, as is 
well known, aflfords the floor of manioc, iKsuaOjeoB- 
Terted into bread, and famishes what the Spaniah 
colonists call pan de tierra etdiefkte. This TegetaUe 
is only soccessfiilly grown within the tropics, and 
in the monntainotis region of Mexico is never seen 
above the elevation of 3625 feet. Two kinds are 
raised, the sweet and the bitter. The root of the 
former may be eaten without danger, while that of 
the latter is a very active poison. Both may be made 
into bread ; hot the bitter is preferred for this pur- 
pose, the poisonous juice being carefuDy separated 
from the fecula, called cassava, before makmg the 
dough. Raynal asserted that the manioc was trans- 
portf^l from Africa to America to serve for the main- 
t«;n;inco of the negroes ; but our author shows that 
it waH cultivated there long before the arrival of 
Kuro[>eanH on that side of the Atlantic. The bread 
mad« of it is very nutritive ; but, being extremely 
brittle, it does not answer for distant carriage. The 
fecula, however, grated, dried, and smoked, is used 
on JourneyH. The root loses its poisonous qualities 
on hoiiig tK)i}ed, and in this state the decoction is 
ijNful {iH a sauce, although serious accidents some- 
timf)H han|)en when it has not been long enough ex- 
posed tf) heat. The husbandry of it, we may ol^rve, 
rfH|iiireH more care than that of the banana. In this 
nmpect it resembles the potato ; and the roots are 
ripe in seven or eight months after the slips have 
Iwon phuited. 

The Hunie region produces maize, the cultivation 
of H^hich itt more extensive than that of the banana 


and manioc. Advancing towards the central plains, 
we meet with fields of this important plant all the 
way from the coast to the valley of Tolucca, which 
is upwards of 9186 feet above the sea. Although a 
great quantity of other grain is produced in Mexico, 
this must be considered as the principal food of the 
people, as well as of most of the domestic animals, 
and the year in which the maize harvest fails is one 
of famine and misery to the inhabitants. There is 
no longer a doubt among botanists that this plant is 
of American origin, and that the Old Continent re- 
ceived it from the New. 

It does not thrive in Europe where the mean tem- 
perature is less than 44^ or 46° ; and on the Cordil- 
leras of New-Spain rye and barley are seen to vege- 
tate vigorously where the cultivation of maize would 
not be attended with success. On the other hand, 
the latter thrives in the lowest plains of the torrid 
zone, where wheat, barley, and rye are not found. 
Hence we cannot be surprised to hear that it occu- 
pies a much greater extent in equinoctial America 
than the grains of the Old Continent. 

The fecundity of the Mexican variety is astonishing. 
Fertile lands usually afford a return of 300 or 400 
fold, and in the neighbourhood of Valladolid a har- 
vest is considered defective when it yields only 130 
or 150. Even where the soil is most steril the pro- 
duce varies from sixty to eighty. The general esti- 
mate for the equinoctial region of Mexico may be 
considered as a hundred and fifty. 

Of all the gramina cultivated by man, none is so 
unequal as this in its produce, as it varies in the same 
field, according to the season, from forty to 200 or 300 
for one. If the harvests are good, the agriculturist 
makes his fortune more rapidly than with any other 
grain ; but frightful dearths sometimes occur, when 
the natives are obliged to feed on unripe fruit, cactus- 
berries, and roots. Diseases arise in consequence ; 
and these famines are usually attended witli ^ vB^e^ 


1 1 

;- » 

mortdlftjr anioiw flili dhiidML VonhiilariBiyib 
eren tettte toiler, id fhaft the tmvcller 
inoT pcNiltry* 8ceiGitlee«f ^ 

districts, where the not mu nbewof MoieeMii^it] 
in the ptocem of amatomation wmmttf mM|| 
an enormoos quantity of Budie. ^ 

Nomeroiia rarietiea of- food are dented Ikon flp 
plant. The ear is eaten nrar or boiled. ItefM 
when beaten affords a nutritive tamd eillBd mm 

and the meal is employed ki makti^fMiM or i^iK 
which are mixed with sugar. hatmj^Mat ■ooHttHi 
eren pounded potatoes, liany kilu* of dririt^i 
idso prepared from it, some reaeoablii^liaerj 

a«0«^ K»v^v«kkv«A SA^^ww AW, i9%fmmm^ m .imw— w^a^p ■#««•« VlBl^p 

qider. In the Ti^ey of Tcdnoea tbm smbi J|( 


sqneeied between cyunders, anAfrom ,tlw 
mice a spirituous li^pior, 
ouced, ,, 

In favonraMe years Mexieo yields a mnck la^i* 
quantity than is necessary for its own consnmpCua; 
but as this grain affords less nutritiTO substance ii 
proportion to its bulk than the com of Europe, aai 
as the roads are generally difficult, obsiaciea an 
presented to its transportation, which, howoTer, wiS 
diminish when the country is more improved. 

We come now to the cereal pbmts which hive 
been conveyed from the Old to the New ContiMnt 
A negro slave of Cortes found among the' rice which 
served to maintain the Spanish army three or four 
particles of wheat, which were sown, we BMy sup- 
pose, before the year 1500. A Spanish lady, liana 
d'Escobar, carrieid a few grains to lima, m, their 
produce was distributed for three years amoqg Am 
new colonists, each receiving twenty or thirty seeds. 
At Quito the first European com waa sown iiesr Am 
convent of St. Francis by Father Jose Rbd, anativs 
of Flanders, and the monks still show, as a precioas 
relic, the earthen vessel in which the original i^eat 
came from ^uxo^^. ^V(tL^C' aaka our au^oif 


'* hafve not men preserved everjrwhere the names of 
those who, in place of ravaging the earth, have en* 
riched it with {ilants useful to the human race V 

The tempjerate region appears most favourable to 
the cultivation of the cerealia, or nutritive crasses 
known to the ancients, namely, wheat, spelt, barley, 
oats, and rye. In the equinoctial part of Mexico 
they are nowhere grown in plains of which the 
elevation is under 2635 feet ; and on the declivity 
of the Cordilleras between Vera Cruz and Acapulco 
they commence at the height of 3937. At Xalapa 
wheat is raised solely for the straw ; for there it 
never produces seed, although in Guatimala grain 
ripens at smaller elevations. 

Were the soil of New-Spain watered by more fre- 
quent showers, it would be one of the most fertile 
portions of the globe. In the equinoctial districts 
of that country there are only two seasons, — ^the 
wet, from June or July to September or October, 
and the dr^, which lasts eight months. The rains, 
accompamed with electrical explosions, commence 
on the eastern coast, and proceed westward, so that 
they begin fifteen or twenty da3rs sooner at Vera 
Cruz than on the central plains. Sometimes they 
are seen, mixed with sleet and snow, in the elevated 
parts during November, December, and January, but 
they last only a few days. It is seldom that the in- 
habitants have to complain of humidity, and the ex- 
cessive drought which prevails from June to Sep- 
tember compels them in many parts to have recourse 
to artificial miction. In places not watered in this 
manner, the soil yields pasturage only till March or 
April, after which the south wind destroys the grass. 
Tnis change is more felt when the preceding year 
has been unusually dry, and the wheat suffers greatly 
m May. The rains of June, however, revive the 
Tegetation, and the fields immediately resume their 

In lands carefriUy cultivated the i^ioduc^ uk «a- 


.-• Wheat — mb— o^w. 

pciBiDgi espeuallf in those which are waterei 
the moM fertile part o! the table-land b^twuco I 
Qnentato «ad %Wb the wheiit harvest is 35 and « | 
fin li and MV^L&nns can even reckon ui 
eofbrl. At (Hilo the commoQ return L- , 
30 to 40^ liBt nptqnently exceeds from 70 to M) 1 
few 1. Ib th»TUC7 of Mexico maize yields 200, ui 1 
wbMtie<^90. The mean produce of the whckj 
connlrjr mw be stated at 30 or 35 for 1. M. AtitfiH 
s cancHi AT the metropolitan church of Vallad^l 
deHechoacBihtookat random from a field ofvrhcfl 
forty plantBi when he found that each seed had pro | 
4Qced forty, eixty, and even seventy stalks. T%( ' 
nmnber of grains which the ears contained fretjuenlli I 
■ 120, and the average amount i^ j 
—"-Toe even exhibited 160. A ftff | 
J, however, axe covered wittaM 
Sble by the roots of herbaceOU 
e arid and naked, in which tw« 
,*ickly shruba alone vegetate. I 
The following table exhibits the mean product 
of the cereal olante in difibrent countrieB ot boft 
continents :— 

1 Fnnca, a«n SUB gnin* Ibr 1. 

I HDMur, Onctli, ud SdiToaUt, ban 8 la 10 pria. 

I Um (umbsD jart or HeiLm, IT mini. 

I tV>lIW0tlll Mtilei), H gnlni. 

I iha pnnlMg of Fnlo in SuiM F*, M int^ 

I du pliln of diamucB In Fun, IS m K fialM. 

The Mexican wheat is of the veiy best qoiUtT, 
and equals the finest Andalusiaa. At Ibmult 
enters into competition with that of the Uoitad 
States, which is considered inferior tp it ; and wfees 

Ejater facilities are afforded for exportation it 1*3 
come of the highest importance to Burope. b 
Mexico grain can hardly be preserved loiuer tha 
two or three years ; but the causes of thu decif 
have not been sufficiently investigated. 


Rye and barley, which resist cold better than 
wheat, are cultivated on the highest regions, but 
only to a small extent Oats do not answer well in 
New-Spain, and are very seldom seen even in the 
mother-country, where the horses are fed on barley. 

The potato appears to have been introduced into 
Mexico nearly at the same period as the cereal 
grasses of the Old Continent. It is certain that it 
was not known there before the arrival of the 
Spaniards, at which epoch it was in nse in Chili, 
Peru, Quito, and New-Grenada. It is supposed by 
botanists that it grows spontaneously in the moun- 
tainous regions; but our author asserts that this ' 
opinion is erroneous, and that the plant in question 
is nowhere to be found uncultivated in any part of 
the cordUleras within the tropics. According to 
Molina, it is a native of all the fields of Chili, where 
another species, the Soiamim eari, still unknown in 
Europe, and even in Quito and Mexico, is grown ; 
and M. Humboldt seems to consider that country as 
the original source of it. It is stated that Sir Walter 
Raleigh found it in Virginia in 1584 ; and a question 
arises, whether it arrived there from the north, or 
from Chili, or some other of the Spanish colonies. 
Our traveller seems to consider it not improbable 
that it had been conveyed from some of the Spanish 
colonies by the English themselves. 

The plants cultivated in the highest and coldest 
parts or the Andes and Mexican cordilleras are po- 
tatoes, the TVopaolttm esctdentum, and the Cheno- 
podium fuinoa. The first of these are an important 
object m the latter countrjr, as they do not require 
much humidity. The Mexicans and Peruvians pre- 
serve them for a series of years, by destroying tneir 
power of germinating by exposure to frost, and 
afterward drying them,-^« practioe which our au- 
thor thinks might be followed with advantage in 
Europe. He also recommends obtaining the seeds 
of the potatoes cultivated at Quito «xi<i ^^sX'd.^^^ 


which are a foot in diameter, and snpetior in qoality 
to those in the Old Continent. It is unnecessary to 
expatiate on the advantages derived from this in- 
valuable root, the- use of which now extends from 
the extremity of Africa to Lapland, and from the 
southern regions of America to Labrador. 

The New World is very rich in plants with nu- 
tritive roots. Next to the manioc and the potato, 
the most important are the oca, the hatate, imd the 
ijpiame. The first of these (Oxalis tuberosa) grows 
m the cold and temperate parts of the cordifieras. 
The igname {Dioscorea alata) appears proper to all 
the equinoctial regions of the globe. Of the batate 
{ConvolmdiLs batatas) several varieties are raised. 
The cacomite^ a species of Tigridia, the root of which 
yields a nutritive farina, numerous varieties of love- 
apples {Solanum lycopersicum), the earth pistachio 
or pea-nut (Arachis hypogiea), and different species 
of pimento, are the other useful plants cultivated 

The Mexicans now have all the culinary vege- 
tables and fruit-trees of Europe ; but it has become 
difficult to determine which of the former they pos- 
Hcsscd before the arrival of the Spaniards. It is 
certain, however, that they had onions, haricots, 
gourds, and several varieties of Cicer ; and, in gene- 
ral, if we consider the garden-stuffs of the Aztecs 
and the great number of farinaceous roots cultivated 
in Mexico and Peru, we shall see that they were 
not HO poor in alimentary plants as some maintain. 

'J'lie central table-land of New-Spain produces the 
ordinary fruits of Europe in the greatest abundance; 
and the traveller is surprised to see the tables of the 
wealthy inhabitants loaded with the vegetable pro- 
du(^tions of both continents in the most perfect state. 
Defore tlie invasion of the Spaniards, Mexico and 
the Andes presented several fruits having a great 
rosembliuico to those of Europe. The mountainous 
part of South America has a cherry, a nut, an apple» 


a mulberry, a strawberry, a rasp, and a gooseberry, 
.which are peculiar to it. Oranges and citrons, 
which are now cultivated there, appear to have been 
introduced, although a small wild orange occurs in 
Cuba and on the coast of Terra Firma. The olive- 
tree answers perfectly in New-Spain, but exists 
only in very small numbers. 

Most civilized nations procure' their drinks ftom 
the plants which constitute their principal nourish- 
ment, and of which the root« or seeds contain sac- 
charine and amylaceous matter. There are few 
tribes, indeed, which cultivate these solely for the 
purpose of preparing beverages from them ; but in 
the New Continent we find a people who not only 
extract liquors from the maize, the manioc, and 
bananas, but who raise a shrub of the family of the 
ytianng for the express purpose of converting its juice 
into a spirituous Uquor. This plant, the maguey 
(^Agatfe Americana), is extensively reared as far as 
the Aztec language extends. The finest plantations 
of it seen by our traveller were in the valley of 
Tolucca and on the plains of Cholula. It yields the 
saccharine juice at the period of inflorescence only, 
the approach of which is anxiously observed. Near 
the latter place, and between Tolucca and Cacanu- 
macan, a maguey eight years old gives signs of de- 
veloping its flowers. The bundle of central leaves 
is now cut, the wound is gradually enlarged and 
covered with the foliage, which is drawn close and 
tied at the top. In this wound the vessels seem to 
deposite the juice that would naturally have gone to 
expand the blossoms. It continues to run two or 
three months, and the Indians draw from it three or 
four times a-day. A very vigorous plant occasion- 
idly yields the quantity of 454 cubic inches a-day for 
four or five months, lliis is so much the more as- 
tonishing, that the plantations are usually in the 
most and and sterU ground. In a good soil the 
agave is ready for being cut at the age of five years; 

bat iit poot tend the harveet cannot be expected n 
tou dun dgfalMO. 

Thii loiae or AoMey has an a^ceable acid taste, and 
eatihr fonnsnta tHl account of the sugai and mucilage 
whlut aboimd in it. This process, which is accele- 
ntsd by adding B little old pulque, ends in three oi 
fonr myv ; ' iM the result is a liquor reseroUiag 
oidWi tnt.wiOi t Ttiry unpieaaajit Bmel], like thai a 
putrid ihmL Europeans who can reconcile the» 
selves to the acent, prefer the pulque to every otbd 
lioubr, and it is considered as atoniachic, invigot- 
ating, aitd nntiitiTe. A very intoxicating brandj, 
called moxical, ti also obtained from it, and is mub 
distriota ia manaftactured to a great extent. 

TlM leavea of the agave also supply the place ol 
bempand&epBp^s of the Egyptians. Tiiepapei 
im wUah the aiwient Mexicans painted their biero- 
^yrduoal flgurea was made of their fibres, macerated 
anddispoBAdinlayera. The prickles which tetau' 
nate them formerly served as pins and nails to thi; 
Indiana,and the priF'sts pierced their arms and breasts 
with them in their acta of expiation. 

The vine is coltivatad in Hexico, bat in M amdl 
a quantity that wine can hardly be conaidered aa a 
product of that country ; but tha mquntaiuoaa pata 
of New-Spain, Guatimala, New.Gittuda, ana Ca- 
raccaa are so well ad^ed fbrita growtfa^ that it 
aome future period tiiey will prob&jr aupiily tbs 
whole of North America. 

Of colonial commoditiee, w prodnctioiw wbidi 
furnish raw materials for the commerce aad saDB- 
facturing industry of Europe, New-Spain aSnda 
most of those procurM £rom the Weat uidiea. Tile 
cultivation of the sugar-cane has of lata yeata bean 
carried to such an extent, that the ezportatiOB of 
sugar from Vera Cruz amounta to more than halt a 
million of arrobaa, or lfl,68IM>00 lb. avoird. ; wtUk, 
at 3 piastres the arrobt, are equal to 5,086,000 feanea, 
or 346,8751. BterUng. U waa canvarad br th* Spaft- 


iards from the Canary Islands into St. Domingo, from 
whence it was subsequently carried into Cuba and 
the province just named. Although the mean tem- 
perature best suited to it is 76° or 77°, it may yet be 
TOCcessfuUy reared in places of which the annual 
warmth does not exceed 66° or 68° ; and as on great 
table-lands the heat is increased by the reverbera- 
tion of the earth, it is cultivated in Mexico to the 
heip;ht of 4931 feet, and in favourable exposures 
thrives even at an elevation of 6562. The greatest 
part of the sugar produced in New- Spain is con- 
sumed in the country, and the exportation is very 
insignificant compared with that of Cuba, Jamaica, 
or St. Domingo. 

Cotton, flax, and hemp are not extensively raised, 
and very little coffee is used in the country. Cocoa, 
vanilla, jalap, and tobacco are cultivated ; but of the 
latter there is a considerable importation from Ha- 
vana. Indigo is not produced in sufficient quantity 
for home consumption. 

Since the middle of the sixteenth century, oxen, 
horses, sheep, and hogs, introduced by the con- 

?uerors, have multiplied surprisinglv in all parts of 
few-Spain, and more especially in the vast savannas 
of the promncias interruu. The exportation of hides 
is considerable, as is that of horses and mules. 

Our common poultry have only of late years begun 
to thrive in Mexico ; but there is a great variety of 
native gallinaceous birds in that country, such as the 
turkey, the hocco or curassow {Crtix nigra, C.elobice- 
ra, C /Mtuxt), penelopes, and pheasants. The Guinea- 
fowl and common duck are also reared; but the 
goose is nowhere to be seen in the Spanish colonies, 
llie cultivation of the silkworm has never been 
extensively tried, although many parts of that con- 
tinent seem favourable to it. An enormous quantity 
of wax is consumed in the festivals of the church ; 
and notwithstanding thsit a large proportion is col- 
lected in the country, much is imported from Ha<- 


88S lOBTA&s or Tn\AiioipM^steac)iA]& 

I * 

Tana. Coduneal.is 6M«iiied-to « 
amount/ 'a 

Alihongh pearis^wen fonoeii/ ioMl' In p$li\ 
abandanceintarioda'paxttfof A][iMrJca^^ 
haye now almost einixel^ oeasiDd^ . liw 
coast of M^co abomids incadialota i^r qp 
whales (Phweter nu ur o de pkaiugi'; Inik Hw 
have hitherto left tte pdMit of these WBomMp 
Europeans. , , / ' \' 

..11 * ■•■ ■' .If 



of Uie D re e P rodnoe of tbe 

The mines of Mexico have of late years engaged 
the attention and excited the enterprise of tiieJBng- 
lish in a more than ordinary degpree. Ilie sabject 
is therefore one of much interest ; but as later in- 
formation may be obtained in several woriu* and es- 
pecially in Ward's " Mexico in 1827,*^ it is unneces- 
sary to follow our author in all his detailB. 

Long before the vo^rage of Columbus, the natives 
of Mexico were acquainted with the uses of several 
metals, and had made considerable proficiency in the 
various operations necessary for ootaining inem in 
a pure state. Cortes, in the historical account of 
his expedition, states that gold, silver, copper, lead, 
and tin were publicly sold in the great maricet of 
Tenochtitlan. In all the large towns of AsuUbmc 
cold and silver vessels were manidfactured ; and the 
foreigners, on their first advance to Tenochtitlan, 
could not refrain from admiring the ingemUty ctf tiie 
Mexican goldsm\\.\v&. Ttub KiNa^ \ffiQ«& eitncted 


lead and tin from the veins of Tlacbeo, and obtained 
cinnabar from the mines of Chilapan. From copper 
found in the mountains of Zacotollan and Cohuixico 
they manufactured their arms, axes, chisels, and 
other implements. With the use of iron they seem 
to have been unacquainted ; but they contrived to 
give the requisite hardness to their tools by mixing 
a portion of tin with the copper of which they were 

At the period when Humboldt visited New-Spain, 
it contained nearly 500 places celebrated for the me- 
tallic treasures in their vicinity, and comprehending 
nearly 3000 mines. These were divided into 37 dis- 
tricts, under the direction of an equal number of 
councils {Diputacumes de minerui)^ as follows :— 

I. InUndaney (^ Guanaxuato. 
I. BfLninc DiMrict orGuanaznata 

n. ImUndanep of ZaeatecM. 
S. ZaeateoM, i 4. Fresnillo, 

S. Sombrarete, I 6. Sierra de PiiKM. 

m. InUndanqf qfSan Luis Poiosi, 

0. Qjoealiente, 
10. San Nicolas de Croix. 

6. Catoree, 

7. Focoal, 

8. Cbareaa, 

IV. Intendaney qf Mearieo. 
11. Pachnea, 1 15. Zacualpan, 

IS. El Doctor, 1 16. Sultepee, 

IS. Zuriapan, 17. Temaaialtepec. 

14.Taaoo, | 

v. Intendaneyo/Ouadaiaxara. 
18. BoIaiKM, I fO. HoatoUpaqoillo. 

10. Aaientoadeltiarra, | 

VL btUMdaney of Durango. 
91. ChihiiBbQa, 194. Cooiguiriachi, 

SS. Parral, S9. BatopUaa. 

S3. GuariMuney/ I 

Vn. Intendmtep of Sonara. 
SS. AlaoKM^ W. Guadalape de laPnerta 

S7. Copala, 
S6. CoMila, 

SO. San Frandaeo Xarler da la 

Vm. IfUendancwqfVaUadolid, 
Si. Anfangnco^ I SS. Ziiaquaro, 

SI Ui^unD, \ 90. TiAgaiilbNSu 

31. Santiasima Trinidad ^ Pena 

3S. SanFlraociacbXayierdeAUsoa. 


340 wBTAiuncBoirs Dspoont. 

CL In tmim eif y 
S7. - 

flttwral flu6s. 

XI. fntemlaneya^VeniOhtf. 

Xa OUC«l|^lmte. ^ 


In the present state of the country the Teins «i 
the most productive, and the minerals oispoefed in M 
or masses are very rare. The former are chiifr 
in primitive or transition rocks, rarely in secon- 
ary deposites. In the old continent, granite, gneifli 
and mica-slate form the central ridges of the moiap 
tain-chains; but in the Cordilleras of America thM 
rocks seldom appear externally, being covered bf 
masses of porphyry) greenstone, amygdaloid, basdli 
and other trap-formations. The coast of Acapoko 
is composed of ffranite ; and as we ascend towaidi 
the table-land of Mexico, we see it pierce the por- 
phyry for the last time between Zumpango and So- 
pilote. Farther to the east, in the province of 0»- 
xaca, granite and gneiss are visible in the high plaiu 
which are of great extent, traversed by veins of 

Tin has not yet been observed in the granites of 
Mexico. In the mines of Comarya syenite contains 
a seam of silver ; while the vein of Guanaxuato, the 
richest in America, crosses a primitive clay-slate 
passing into talc-slate. The porphyries of Mexico 
are for the most part eminently rich in gold and 
silver. They are all characterized by the presence 
of hornblende and the absence of quartz. Common 
felspar is of rare occurrence, but the glassy variety 
is freauently observed in them. The rich goldmine 
of Villalpando, near Guanaxuato, traverses a por- 
phyry, of which the basis is allied to clinkstone, and 
in which hornblende is extremely rare. The veins 
of Zuriapan intersect porphyries, having a green- 
stone basis, axi^ eoiiX^xi «. \Bt^^\. n-kc^x^ o^t voterest- 


%Dg minerals, such as fibrous zeolite, stilbite, gram- 
%iatite, pycnite, native sulphur, fluor, bar3rtes, corky 
98bestu8, green garnets, carbonate and cnromate of 
lead, orpiment, chrysoprase, and fire-opal. 

Among the transition rocks, containing ores of 
silver, may be mentioned the limestone of the Real 
del Cardonal, Xacala, and Lomo del Toro, to the 
north of Zuriapan. In Mexico graywacke is also 
rich in metals. 

The silver-mines of the Real de Catorce, as well 
as those of El Doctor and Xaschi, near Zuriapan trav- 
erse alpine limestone, which rests on a conglome- 
rate with sihceous cement. In that and the Jura 
limestone are contained the celebrated silver-mines 
of T9SC0 and Tehuilotepec, in the intendancy of 
Mexico ; and in these calcareous rocks the metalli- 
ferous veins display the greatest wealth. 

It thus appears that the cordilleras of Mexico con- 
tain veins m a great variety of rocks, and that the 
deposites which furnish almost all the silver exported 
from Vera Cruz are primitive slate, graywacke, and 
alpine limestone. The mines of Potosi, in Buenos 
A3rres, are contained in primitive clay-slate, and the 
richest of those of Peru in alpine limestone. Our 
author here observes, that there is scarcely a variety 
of rock which has not in some country been found 
to contain metals, and that the richness of the veins 
is for the most part totally independent of the nature 
of the beds which they intersect. 

Great advantage is derived in working the Mexi- 
can mines, from the circumstance that the most im- 
portant of them are situated in temperate regions 
where the climate is favourable to agriculture. Gua- 
naxuato is placed in a ravine, the bottom of which 
is son^ewhat lower than the level of the lakes of the 
valley of Mexico. Zacatecas and the Real de Ca- 
torce are a Uttle higher ; but the mildness of the 
air at these towns, which are surrounded by the 
richest mines in the world, is a contrast to the cold 


att JBW P tE €9 

iBK^paST ^sfwrtioiied. The S^AMUMM) ■mIcBt or 
l^lMi trof Tptm^ of sOrer amnnlhr exported 
to Earmpt and Asia irom Ten, Cna and Acapoloo, 
aie drawn from a reij tanD numb et , Gnanaxnato, 
ZsKatecaa, and Catoire supply mcMe tban the half; 
and the rein of Gnanaxoalo akme jields more than 
a fofffth part of the whole nlrer of Mexico, and a 
sixth of the prodnce of all America. Tlie foUowingr 
is the order m which the richest mines of New-Spain 
are (daced, with reference to the q uautiiy obtamed 
from them:*- 

OttMve, Ok tke infeodlBacy of Saa Lni 
ZacaiecM. ia Ike itfoidMer af tke anH 

Baaiad Mwtfe, i« tte Jim iwry of! 
I, is tke iaccadsanr of GaM 
r, is Ike limiiancy of 


Taoeo. in llK iotc«!anc7 of Mexico. 
Batop&iaa, in ibe iuveniiacj of Dnrango. 
Zonapan, ia the inteodanej of Sfexico. 
FreaniUo, ia tb« iniendaanr of Zafaiaraa. 
BaaMMftaUKinteodaoeyorSao Loia FoioaL 
Parral, ia the ialeodaaej of Dnraago. 

The veins of Tasco, Sultepec, Tlapojahna, and 
Pachuca were first wrought by the Spaniards. 
Those of Zacatecas were next commenced, and that 
of San Bamabe was begun in 1548. The principal 
one in Gnanaxoato was discovered in 1558. As the 
total produce of all in Mexico, until the beginning of 
the eighteenth century, never exceeded 369,844 troy 
pounds of gold and silver yearly, it must be con- 
cluded that during the sixteenth little energy was 
employed in drawing forth their stores. 

The silver extracted in the thirty-seven districts 
was deposited in the provincial treasuries established 
in the chief places of the intendancies ; and from 
the reports of these of^e« tlifi <viantity famished 


by the different parts of the country may be deter- 
mined. The following is an account of the receipts 
df eleven of these boards from the year 1785 to 
1789 >- 

Malta of SHvw. 

GQanavQAto S,4(M,000 

Ban Lota Ftotoii MIS.OOO 

ZacatecM... i;U5,000 

Mexico 1,055,000 

I>arango 99t,000 

Bomrio. 008,000 

Onadalaxura 509,000 

Pactauca 455,000 

BolaiKW 364,000 

Sombrerete 320,000 

Znriapan 948,000 

Sum for fiw yeara. . .9,730,000=3:5,907,083 troy poondiu 

The mean produce of the mines of New-Spain, 
including the northern part of New-Biscay and tnose 
of Oaxaca, is estimated at above 1,541,015 troy 
pounds of silver, — a quantity equal to two-thirds of 
what is annually extracted from the whole globe, 
and ten times as much as is furnished by dl the 
mines of Europe. 

On the other hand, the produce of the Mexican 
mines in gold is not much greater than those of 
Hungary and Transylvania ; amounting in ordinary 
years only to 4315 troy pounds. In the former it is 
■chiefly extracted from river-deposites by washing. 
Auriferous alluvia are common in the province of 
Sonora, and a great deal of gold has been collected 
among the sands with which the bottom of the val- 
ley of the Rio Hiaqui, to the east of the missions 
of Tarahumara, is covered. Farther to the north, 
in Pimeria Alta, masses of native gold wei^^gfive 
or six pounds have been found. Part of it is also 
extracted from veins intersecting the primitive 
mountains. Veins of this metal are most frequent 
in the province of Oaxaca, in gneiss and mica-slate. 
The last rock is particularly rich in the mines of 
Rio San Antonio. Gold is i^ Iqrse^ \kb^ ^^ 


bflxe. Ittftaeqifapctiilfggiontheiiflte fli^iw 
ri^e, «8 it were, ooejSbQiwe anotiufir firom tlM dM 
where the- nieanlmiqperatare is ahool 78^»l6ttl- 
ceniral-plains, where it is about 68^. 

Pfiyy/gfioii.— The, whole poipoUitimi is eetoMlri 
at£,$U>,OOO.of wM<^4,iNMMN)0aieIiidiaii8» 1/MMM 
credies, and 70,000 iiaropeiui Spamaide. . 

J^neMtair».-<-llie bfiiiiaiiB^ maliioc, mdzei wImI^ 
and potatoes conatitiite the princqial £(Md of ttl 
people. The magaey or agave may be cioBaMwii 
as &e Indhin vine. Sugar* cotton, Tinflla, eoem 
jndigoi tobacoOf wax, and ooohiiieal are pjentifmy 
pro&ced. rnttin Hin nlMimllint on tlm f niitiiaii— 
in the mteribr. 

MmesjT-The anmnd prodnce in gold is 4i6llL 
troy; in silver, 1,430,8391b.; in all, 93,000,000 oC 
piasters (6,031,9601.), or nearly balf the qoaatilf 
annually' extracted flrom the mines of* Amorki. 
The mmt of Mexico ftamished from 1600 to IM 
more than 1,363,000,000 piasters (986,068,7W), 
and from the discovery of Kew-Spam to the com- 
menceineQt of the nineteenth centiii ' ** 

2,028,000,000 piasters (443,625,000/.)- Three miniiiff 
districts, Guanaxuato, Zacatecas, and Catorce, yiM 
nearly half of all the gold and sQver of New-Spaio. 

Manufactures. — ^The value of the produce of the 
manufacturing industry of New-Spain is estimated 
at 7,000,000 or 8,000,000 of piasters (valuing the 
piaster of exchange at 35. 31</., 1,153,083/. to 
1,316,667/.). Cotton and woollen cloths, cjgus, 
soda, soap, gunpowder, and leather are the priniSpal 
articles manufactured. 

It is scarcely necessary to add, that the lefioni 
of America, which at the time of Humboldt^ viait 
were Spanish colonies, have, after a series of san- 
guinary struggles, excited by the real or imagined 
grievances under which the inhabitants laboured, 
now succeeded in acquiring independence. Hiis con- 
dition is more soilax^!^ ^^oaoL ^\w^3li:s^\a %iemote 


To conclude our brief account of Humboldt^s Po- 
litical Essay on New-Spain, it may be useful to pre- 
sent a few of the more interesting facts in the form 
of a recapitulation. 

Physical Aspect. — Along the centre of the coun- 
try runs a chain of mountains, having a direction 
from south-east to north-west, and afterward from 
south to north. . On the ridge or summit of this 
chain are extended vast table-lands or platformsi 
which gradually decline tovrards the temperate zone, 
their absolute height within the tropics being from 
7546 to 7873 feet. The declivities of the Cordilleras 
are wooded, while the central table-land is usually 

tlw eoontrv, the emixraUon of the old Spaniards, and the withdrawing 
of the ftmu which kept the mines in operation. In 1812, according to 
the aoM amhoritj, the coinage had fUlen to fbar and a half millions of 
doUara. It rose sneeessirely to six, nine, eleven, and twelve millions, 
whieh waa the amount in 1810 in the capital alone. In 1890 the reTola> 
tion in Spain caused a considerable lIuctuaHon, and the coinage ftll to 
10^406,164 dollars. In I8SI, when the sqiaratioo (htm the mother- 
couDUry became inevitable, the coinage sank to Ave millions ; fVom which 
ic lUl to three and a half, and continaed in that atate during 1823 and 
10M. In 1825 the (breign eapitals invested began to produce aome ell^ ; 
feni to ISiS the total amount of coinage in the Ave minta of the Mexican 
imMie did not exceed 7.408,900 dollars, or 1,032,694/. 

in 1027, seven ESnglish companies, one German, and two American 
ifere employed in working minea in diflbrent parts of Mexico. 


1. The Real del Monte Company, Captain Vetch director, with an in- 
vested capital of 400,00m. 
9. The Bolanos Company, Captains Veteh and Lyon directors, with a 

Tal of )90,000{. 
Tla1p^}ahua Company, Mr. De Rlvafinola director, with a capital 

4. Anglo-Mexican Company, Mr. Williamsoo director: capital 

6. United Mexican Company; directors, Doo Lncaa Alaman, Mr. 
Glennie, and Mr. Afassis ; capital 800,000/. 

Oc The Mexican Gompany. 

7. Oatorce Company, Mr. Stokea director: invested capital not above 

At thia period nearly thfee millions sterling of British capital were 
Invested in the Mexican mines, or had been expended in enterprises ini- 
Biedlatdy connected with them. The sudden change of feeling with 
rsspsct to these adventures which took place in England in 1826 bad 
iMMurly put a stop to the (qwrations commenced with so much energy : 
bat eonifldenee having been In some measure restored, it msy be boped 
Chat tlw miniuf oompanies will yet prove of great advantafe both to 
Briiain and to Mexico. 


they spent eight weeks in that interesting country, 
for the purpose of studying its political constitution 
and commercial relations. In August, 1804, they 
returned to Europe, carrying with 3iem the exten- 
sive collections which they had made during their 
perilous and fatiguing journeys. 

The results of this expedition, conducted with so 
much courage and zeal, have been of the highest 
importance to science. With respect to natural his- 
tory, it may be stated generally, that the mass of in- 
formation already laid before the public, as obtained 
from the observation of six years, exceeds any thing 
that had been presented by the most successful cul- 
tivators of the same field during a whole lifeUme. 
Much light has been thrown on the migrations and 
relations of the indigenous tribes of America, their 
origin, languages, aikL manners. The Vues des Cor- 
dillieres et Monumens des Peuples indighiei de TAmi" 
rigue, 2 vols. foUo, published in 1811, contains the 
fruit of researches into the antiquities of Mexico 
and Peni, together with the description of the more 
remarkable scenes of the Andes. It has been trans- 
lated into English by Mrs. H. M. Williams. The 
animals observed have been described in a work en- 
titled Rccueil d^ Observations de Zoclogie et d' Anatomie 
Comparies, faites dans un Voyage aux Tropiques, 2 
vols. 4to. 

In the department of botany the most important 
additions have been made to science. Our travel^ 
lers brought with them to Europe an herbarium con- 
sisting of more than 6000 species of plants, and 
Bonpland's botanical journal contained descriptions 
of four thousand. The valuable works on this sub« 
ject that have appeared in consequence of the jour- 
ney to America form a new era in the history of 
botany. They are as follow : — 

1. Essai sur la GSograpMe des Plantes^ ou Taiieau 
Physique des Regions EquinoxialeSj fondi sur des Ob' 
servations ct des Mesures faites depuis le 10»w« degr^ 

m AMERICA. 849 

de latitude atistrale, jusq^au l(hne degri de latitude 
boriale. 4to. 

3. Plantes Equinoxiales RecueiUies au Mexique, dans 
rile de Cuba, dans les Provinces de Caracas, de Cu- 
mana, &c. 2 vols. fol. 

3. Monographic des Melastomes, 2 vols. fol. 

4. Nova Genera et Species Plantarum, 3 vols. fol. 

5. De Distributione Geographica Plantarum secun- 
dum Ccdi Temperiem et Altitudinem Montium prolego- 
mena. 8vo. 

The Essay on the Geography of Plants presents a 
general view of the vegetation, zoology, geological 
constitution, and other circumstances, of the equi- 
noctial region of the New Continent, from the level 
of the sea to the highest summits of the Andes. 
The second work is by M. Bonpland, and contains 
methodical descriptions, in Latin and French, of the 
species observed; together with remarks on their 
medicinal properties and their uses in the arts. The 
Monography of the Melastomae, which is also from 
the pen of M. Bonpland, contains upwards of 150 
species of these plants, with others collected by M. 
Richard in the West Indies and French Guiana. 

In his Essai Giognpstioue sur le Gisement des Roches 
dans les deux Hemispheres, published in 1826, and 
translated into English, Humboldt presents a tabic 
of all the formations known to geologists, and insti- 
tutes a comparison between the rocks of the Old 
Continent and those of the cordillera of the Andes. 

The astronomical treatises have been publislied 
in two quarto volumes, under the title of Recueil 
^Observations Astronomiques et de Mesures er^cuiSes 
dans le Nouveau Continent, This work contains the 
original observations made between the 12th degree 
of south latitude and the 41st degree of north lati- 
tude, transits of the sun and stars over the meridian, 
occultations of satellites, eclipses, &c. ; a treatise 
on astronomical refractions under the torrid zone, 
considered as the effect of the decremeut oC c^Vycis. 


in the strata of the atmosphere; the barometric 
measurement of the Andes of Mexico, Venezuela, 
Quito, and New-Grenada ; together wiUi a table of 
nearly 700 geographical positions. The greatest 
pains have been taken to verify the calcSations. 
Our author presented to the Buretm des Longitudes his 
astronomical observations on the lunar distances and 
the eclipses of Jupiter's satellites, together with the 
barometrical elevations, which have been calculated 
and verified by M. Prony according to the formulae 
of La Place. 

In 1817 Humboldt laid before the Acadhnie des 
Sciences his map of the Orinoco, exhibiting the junc- 
tion of that river with the Amazon by means of the 
Casiquiare and Rio Negro. 

The brief account of New-Spain, which is pre- 
sented in the preceding pages has been extracted 
from the Essai Politique swr la NauveUe EspagnCf 
originally published in 2 vols. 4to., and translated 
into English. With respect to Humboldt^s transla- 
tors it may be remarked, that their want of scientific 
knowledge, and more especially of natural history, 
renders the English very much inferior to the French 

Most of the above-mentioned publications have 
appeared in the names of both travellers. The 
various works relating to the journey will make, 
when complete, twelve volumes in quarto, three in 
folio, two collections of geographical designs, and 
one of picturesque views. The detailed narrative 
of the expedition occupies four of these volumes ; 
but an octavo edition has also been published, under 
the title of Voyage aux Regions Equinoxiales du Nou- 
veau Continent, pendant les annees 1799, 1800, 1801, 
1803, 1803, et 1804. The translation of this work by 
Mrs. Williams is familiar to the English reader. 

The labour necessary for reducing the observa- 
tions maxle by our travellers to a con£tion fit for the 
public eye must have been very great ; yet, poa- 

bonplamd'b captivxty. 351 

eessed of a mind not less characterized by activity 
than the vastness of its acquirements, Humboldt in 
the mean while engaged in various investigations, 
which he has partly published in the foreign jour- 
nals. In concert with M. Gay Lussac, with whom 
he lived for several years in the most intimate 
friendship, he has made numerous magnetic experi- 
ments, and verified Biot's theory respecting the po- 
sition of the magnetic equator. They have found 
that the great mountain-chains, and even the active 
volcanoes, have no appreciable influence on the mag- 
netic power ; and have established the fact, that it 
gradually diminishes as we recede from the equator. 

On the return of the philosophers from America, 
Bonpland was appointed by Bonaparte to the office 
of superintending the gardens at Malmaison, where 
the Empress Josephine, who was passionately fond 
of flowers, had formed a splendid collection of ex- 
otics. His amiable disposition, not less than his ac- 
quirements, procured for him the esteem of all who 
Knew mm. In 1818 he went to Buenos Ayres as 
professor of natural history. In 1820 he under- 
took an excursion to the interior of Paraguay ; but 
when he arrived at St. Anne, on the eastern bank of 
ihe Parana, where he had established a colony of In- 
dians, he was unexpectedly surrounded by a large 
body of soldiers, who destroyed the plantation and 
carried him off a prisoner. This was done by the 
orders of Dr. Francia, the ruler of Paraguay ; and 
the only reason assigned was his having planted the 
teartree pecuUar to that country, and which forms a 
valuable article of exportation. He was confined 
chiefly in Santa Martha, but was allowed to practise 
as a physician. Humboldt appUed in vain for the 
liberation of his friend, for whom he appears to have 
cherished a sincere affection. According to a late 
report, however, he has obtained his hberty, and re- 
turned to Buenos Ayres. 

In October, 1818, our author was in London, 

irhere it ww said that tlie aIli«d-jpoiren bad » 
qaeatad Urn todraw wapoMtlcal YM#0f tiieSoiA 
AmenSuicoloniea. £i November of flia tame fiv 
the King of Pni88iasnntedlum.aEnamiiialpalaB 
of 19,000 dollars^ witti tlie view of fMdtttafini Ai 
execution of apian vrbicb he hadlbrmedof vidttf 
Asia, and eapeciaUj the nunmtalna of Thibet n 
the year 1899 he aooompanied his m^jiiAyto tti 
cont^resa of Verona, and afterward ▼intadTTaniia 
Rome, and Naples; and, in 1897 and .189B| ddivaM 
at Beili]^ ^ oourae of lectnrea on the phyaied eofr 
stitutton of the globe, whieh was attanded Ifli^ 
royal flunfly and the comrt. But, eQcoe|iting fta n* 
smts of hia investigations, vehieh have appevadit 
intervals, we have no particidar accomit m niaoaa 
pations until 1890, when he midextook 
pHoytant Joinmey to the Uralian IftoimtaiiiBi 
tiers of Cliina, and the Caqnan Set* 


Journey to Asia, 

Brief Aeeoont of Hiimboldt*« loarney to iUda, witha Sketflhor UN tar 
greet Chaine of Bfoontaiiii which taiieraeettlie Centnl Fm if tttf 


No detailed narrative has yet been ^ _ 

Humboldt's journe}^ to Asiatic Russia ; and the only 
sources of authentic information on the soliject na 
to be found in a work lately printed at Paris, uidflr 
the title of Fragmens do GSologie et de CUmtiokgk 
Asiatiques, par A, de Humboldt^ from whidbithsSl* 
lowing particulars are extracted . — 

This illustrious traveller, accompanied by MIL 
Ehrenberg aid Owalvi\A ^U(w»t> ^mhaxiwd at K^ffi' 


Novgorod on the Volga, and descended to Kasan and 
the Tartar rains of Bolgari. From thence h« wenf 
by Perm to Jekatherinenburg on the Asiatic side of 
the Ur^an Mountains, — a vast chain composed of 
Beveral ranges running nearly parallel to each other, 
of which the highest summits scarcely attain an ele- 
vation of 4593 or 4920 feet, but which, like the 
Andes, follows the direction of a meridian, from the 
tertiary deposites in the neighbourhood of Lake 
Aral to the greenstone rocks in the vicinity of the 
Frozen Sea. A month was occupied in visiting the 
central and northern parts of these mountains, 
which abound in alluvial beds, containing gold and 
platina, the malachite mines of Goumeschevskoi, the 

Sreat magnetic ridge of Blagodad, and the celebrated 
eposites at Mourzinsk, in which topaz and beryl are 
ibund. Near Nijnei-Tagilsk, a country which may 
be compared to Choco in South America, a mass of 
platina weighing about 2H pounds troy has been 

From Jekatherinenburg the travellers proceeded 
by Tioumen to Tobolsk on the Irtisch, and from 
thence by Tara, a steppe or desert of Baraba, which 
is dreaded on account of the torments caused by 
the multitudes of insects belonging to the family 
of TijmUB, to Bamaoul on the banks of the Ob ; the 
picturesque lake of Kol3ryan; and the rich silver- 
mines of Schlangenberg, Riddersk, and Zvrianovski, 
situated on the south-western declivity of the Altaic 
range, the highest summit of which is scarcely so 
elevated as the Peak of Teneriffe. The mines of 
Kolyvan produce annually upwards of 49,843 troy 

Proceeding southward from Riddersk to Oust-Ka- 
menogosk, Uiey passed through Boidditarminsk to 
the frontier of Chinese Zungaria. They even ob^ 
tallied permission to cross the frontier, m order to 
visit the Mongol post of Bates, or Khonimailakhou^ 
northwanS of the Lake Dzaisaiuc. BAVQsrDaia%\s5siSk 


tU- MUnp JdOBRV. 

this pbM to OiMt-TjiiwPtOrek, they found< 
BBBitodmdadlBtoiiBailrluwKontalbeda and" 
layiiig a dste-fonutia^ the Krata of -vrhicU 
putty, inclmed « in ■nal* of Bd*) and i 
rmtwaL _. i^. ' 

'[ fliey went tdoiU fl^ 
of the Kirghiz, by S«m^ 

^ o lines of the Ichiiu Co* 

neka isd Tobol, to mch tbs southern part of Uie 
Unl, whsra, in tba nebitjr of Miask, in a depoaiU 
ofTBiramallsxtentBiidlt sdcpth of afewinehia, 
wen found time m n — w of native goM, iwu of 
which vei^ted 1S-S6 and tlM other 28-36 pournk 

. Frpn Onrt-Kainenogowk i 
■tm* tf the Uiddla nqide of 
poi^Bak and Oniak and tho Ih 


. / nest pnneeded along the Southern Unl u 
the fine qnarnea ofgneojai^trat Orsk, -where fli 
riTflr JaikcroBBeathecb^ fromeaatto west. Tim 
thenc« tittj paaaed by Sduhsrlinsk to OreiJiil« 
which, notwithstanding its distance from the Cv- 
plan Sea, is below the level of the ocean, and then 
visited the famous salt-mine of Iletzki, situated ia 
the steppeof the LitUeKirghizHorde. Theyafter- 
ward inspected the principal place of th« Outalik 
Cossacks ; the German colonies of the Saralorgof- 
emment on the left bank of the Volga ; the mat nil- 
lake of Elton in the steppe of the Kalmucu ; uA > 
fine colony of Moraviana at Sarepta ; and, fiuUf, a^ 
rived at Astracan. The principal objects of tkii 
excursion to the Caspian Bea were, the diynkal 
analysis of its waters, which Mr. Rose intMuedto 
make ; the observation of the barometrical hnAti; 
and the coUectian of fishes for the great won at 
Baron Cuvier and M. Valenciennes. 

From Aatracan the travellers returned to Moseinri 
by the isthmus which separates the Don and A* 
Volga, near Tichittskaya, and the country of ths Dot 

Of the beteroieoK'^raa \DgA«(\Ala composiiig tk* 


pen of Humboldt, the memoir on the mountain- 
chains and volcanoes in the interior of Asia is the 
only one which can add any interest to our pages ; 
the rest being of a character too strictly scientific. 
Of this paper a brief account is here given. 

In our present state of knowledge volcanic phe- 
nomena are not to be considered as relating peculiarly 
to the science of geology, but rather as a depart- 
ment of general physics. When in action they 
appear to result from a permanent communication 
between the interior of the globe, which is in a state 
of fusion, and the atmosphere which envelopes the 
hardened and oxydated crust of our planet. Masses 
of lava issue Uke intermittent springs ; and the su- 
perposition of their layers which takes place under 
our eyes bears a resemblance to that of the ancient 
crystalline rocks. On the crest of the cordilleras of 
the New World, as well as in the south jf Europe 
and the western parts of Asia, an intimate connexion 
is manifested between the chymical action of volca^ 
noes, properly so called, or those which produce 
rocks, — their form and position permitting the escape 
of earthy substances in a state of fusion, — and the 
mud-volcanoes of South America, Italy, and the Cas- 
pian Sea, which at one period eject fragments of 
rocks, flames, and acid vapours, and at another vomit 
muddy clay, naphtha, and irrespirable gases. There 
is even an obvious relation between the proper vol- 
cano and the formation of beds of gypsum and an- 
hydrous rock-salt, containing petroleum, condensed 
hydrogen, sulphuret of iron, and, occasionally, large 
masses of galena ; the origin of hot-springs ; the ar- 
rangement of metallic deposites ; earthau^cs, which 
are ever and anon accompanied by chymical phe- 
nomena; and the sometimes sudden, and the some- 
times very slow elevations of certain parts of the 
earth's surface. 

This intimate connexion between these diversified 
mppexnaceH has of late yean i^n^ Na ^Ssitfsw^a^ 

nuiiT prcUanu in geolpCT and ph< 
pranoni^ been oonridttM inejqwu 
gies of owerred fkott, and the «ti 

lysics whidi had 

labia. The aiulo- 

■tiict inTeatigation 

tiMMe nlnote periodi wUch pneeded hisloricil 
racotds. Volcsnloity, or Qietn|h»itce which the inte- 

In the Tarwna etafoa of its nftinntion, on acccHXit 
of the nneqoal ag^r^atiOB in miich ita component 
anbetancee occnr, u, at the pnawa d&y, in a rtrj 
dininlihed condition ; l oa tri w ^ d tg a sm&U nur'^ - 
of pointe; intermittent i rimpi" 
•fbcts ; {Rodoclns rocka on^ i 

S of small ex- 
tent ; and manifiMtlng fta pmrar, at great distHiice«, 
onh' djnamioilhr, hy ■hakfav tte emmt of our planH 
in unrar ^nottona, or in i^uw initch remain the 
same durbig a ^reat nnmber of ngu. Previous \o 
the existence of the human race, the action of tht 
interior of the g^lobe upon the solid craat, which wm 
increasing in volume, must ha*e modiOed the ten- 
peratuie of the atmosphere, and rendered the whole 
Burface capable of giving birth to those productiaM 
which Dugnt to be considered as tropicu, aince, bf 
the effect of the radiation and refrigeration of the ex- 
terior, the relations of the earth to a central bo^> 
the Sim, began almost exclusively to detnniBe tM 
diversity of geographical latitudes. 

In those primeval times, also, the «laBtic llaidi> 
the volcanic powers of the interior, more enmrtic 

Serhaps, and with more facility traversinff the Oii- 
ated and solidified crust of the globe, fllle^hiicnat 
with crevices, and injected it with rat ' '"" 

of basalt, metallic substances, and otiier nnrttw^ 
introduced after tlve solidiflcation of tiie plutrt kail 
been completed. The period of the great set^O^ { 
cal revolutioiuwaft\)tA\.^^tt,'&'CD%«BnainaB)OtliaM 
between the flm&vciiAtvn til *toA^jtXMtk.ia^-te«Mr ' 


sphere were more frequent, acting upon a greater 
number of points, and when the tendency to establish 
these communications gave rise, in the Une of the 
long crevices, to the cordiUeras of the Andes and 
Himroaleh mountains, the chains of less elevation, 
and the ridges whose undulations embellish the land- 
scape of our plains. Our author then mentions, as 
proofs of these protrusions, the sandstone formations 
which extend from the plains of the Magdalena and 
Meta, almost without interruption, over platforms 
having an elevation varying from 8950 to 10,232 feet ; 
and the bones of antediluvian animals intermingled 
on the summit of the Uralian chain of northern Asia 
with transported deposites, containing gold, dia- 
monds, and platina. Another evidence of this sub- 
terranean action of elastic fluids, which heave up 
continents, domes, and mountain-chains, displace 
rocks and the organic remains which they contain, 
and produce eminences and depressions, is the great 
sinkmg of the ground which occurs in the west of 
Asia, of which the Caspian Sea ^d the Lake Aral 
form the lowest part (320 and 205 feet beneath the 
level of the ocean), but which extends far into the 
interior of the continent, stretching to Saratov and 
Orenburg onthe Jaik, and probably to the south-east 
as far as the lower course of the Sihon (Jaxartes) and 
the Amou (the Oxus of the ancients). This depres- 
sion of a continental mass extending to more than 
320 feet below the surface of the ocean, he continues, 
has not hitherto obtained the necessary considera- 
tion which its importance demands, because it was 
not sufficiently known. It appears to him to have an 
intimate connexion with the upheaving of the Cau- 
casian Mountains, those of Hindoo-kho, and of the 
elevated plain of Persia, which borders the Caspian 
Sea and the Mavar-ul-Nahar to the south ; and, per- 
haps, more to the eastward, with the elevation of the 
great mass of land which is designated by the vaguo 
and incorrect name of the cenli^ \\a2ccL ^'l ^^v^ 


This concavity he considers as a crater-conntiy, 
similar to the Hipparchus, Archimedes, and Ptolemy 
of the moon^s surface, which have a diameter of 
more than 100 miles, and which may be rather com- 
pared with Bohemia than with om* volcanic cones 
and craters. 

In the course of the journey which Humboldt made 
in the summer of 1829 with MM. Ehrenber^ and Rose, 
he passed in seven weeks over the frontiers of Chi- 
nese Zunffaria, between the forts of Oust-Kameno- 
fforsk, and Boukhtarminsk, and Khonimailakhou (a 
Chinese post to the north of the Lake Dzaisang), the 
Cossack Une of the Kirghiz steppe, and the shores 
of the Caspian Sea. In the important commercial 
towns of Semipolatinsk, Petropalauska, Troitzkaia, 
Orenburg, and Astracan, he obtained from Tartars, 
Bncharians, and Tacbkendis information resp^cting^ 
the Asiatic regions in the vicinity of their native 
country. At Orenburg, where caravans of several 
thousand camels annually arrive, an enlightened in- 
dividual, M. de Gens, has collected a mass of mate- 
rials of the highest importance for the geography of 
Central Asia. Among the numerous descnptions 
of routes communicated by this person, our author 
found the following remark : — " In proceeding from 
Semipolatinsk to Jerkend, when we were arrived at 
the Lake Ala-koul or Ala-dinghiz, a little to the north- 
east of the great Lake Balkachi, which receives the 
waters of the Ele, we saw a very high mountain 
which formerly vomited fire. Even now this moun- 
tain, which rises in the lake like a little island, oc- 
casions violent storms, which incommode the cara- 
vans. For this reason some sheep are sacrificed to 
this old volcano by those who pass it." 

This account, which was obtained from a Tartar 
who travelled at the commencement of the present 
century, excited a lively interest in our author, more 
especially as it brought to mind the burning volca- 
noes of the interior of Asia, made known through 


the researches of Abel Remusat and Klaproth in 
Ohmese books, and whose great distance n:om the 
sea has excited so much surprise. Soon after his 
departure from Petersburg he received from M. de 
Klosterman, imperial director of police at Semipola- 
tinsk, the following particulars, which were obtained 
from Bucharians and Tachkendis : — 

"The route from Semipolatinsk to Kouldja is 
twenty-five days. It passes by the mountains Ala- 
chan and Rondegatay, in the steppe of the Middle 
Horde of the Kirghiz, the borders of the lake Savan- 
de-koul, the Tarbagatai mountains in Zungaria, and 
the river Emyl. When it has been traversed, th- 
road imites with that which leads from Tehougeut 
chak to the province of Ele. From the banks of the 
^myl to the lake Ala-koul the distance is 39| miles. 
The Tartars estimate the distance of this lake from 
Semipolatinsk at 301 miles. It is to the right of the 
road, and extends from east to west 66\ miles. In the 
midst of this lake rises a very high mountain, named 
Aral-toube. From this to the Chinese post, situated 
between the little lake Janalache-koul and the river 
Baratara, on the banks of which reside Kalmucks, are 
reckoned 36 miles." 

It is evident that the same mountain js alluded to 
in both these accounts ; and with the view of con- 
necting it with the volcanoes discovered by Klaproth 
and Abel Remusat, mentioned in very ancient Chinese 
hooks as existing in the interior of Asia to the north 
and south of Teen-shan, our author presents an ac- 
count of the geography of this interesting region. 

The middle and internal part of Asia, which forms 
neither an immense aggregate of lulls nor a contin- 
uous platform, is intersected from east to west by 
four ereat systems of mountains, which have exer- 
ciseda decided influence upon the movements of na« 
tions. These systems are, 1. The Altaic, which' is 
terminated to the west by the mountains of the 
Kirghiz ; 3. Teen-shan ; 3. Kwanlun ; and, 4. The 


Himmaleh chain. Between the Altaic range and 
Teen-shan are Zungaria and the basin of the Ele; 
between Teen-shan and Kwan-lun, Little or Upper 
Bucharia, or Cashgar, Yarkand, Khoten, or Yu-thian, 
the great desert, Toorfan, Khamil, and Tangout or 
the Northern Tangout of the Chinese, which must 
not be confounded with Thibet or Sefan. Lastly, 
between Kwan-lun and the Himmaleh are Eastern 
and Western Thibet, in which are Lassa and Ladid^. 
Were the three elevated plains situated between the 
Altai, Teen-shan, Kwan-lun, and the Himmaleh to 
be indicated by the position of three alpine lakes, we 
might select for this purpose those of BaUcacbi, Lop, 
and Tengri, which correspond to the plains of Zun- 
garia, Tangout, and Thibet. 

1. System of the Altai. — ^It surrounds the sources 
of the Irtisch and Jenisei or Rem. To the east it 
takes the name of Tangnou ; between the lakes Roe- 
sogol and Baikal, that of the Sayanian Mountains ; he- 
yondthis it takes the name of Upper Kentai, and the 
Davourian Mountains ; and, lastly, to the north-oasl 
it connects itself with the Jablonnoikhrrbot chain. 
Khingkhan, and the Aldan mountains, which advamv 
along the Sea of Ochotzk. The moan latitude of its 
prolongation from east to west is between 50° and 51' 
30'. The Altaic range, properly so cjilled, scarcely 
occupies seven degrees of longitude ; but the north- 
ern part of the mountains, surrounding the great 
mass of elevated land in the interior of Asia, and oc- 
cupying the space comprised between 48** and 5l~\ 
is considered as belonging to this system, because 
simple names are more easily retained by the mem- 
ory, and because that pf Altai is more known to 
Europeans by its great' metallic richness, whiili 
amounts annually to 45,907 troy pounds of silver, and 
1246 troy pounds of gold. The Altaic mountains an* 
not a chain forming the boundary of a countr}* like 
the Himmaleh, which limit the elevated plain of Thi- 
bet, and have a rapid slope only on the side next to 


a, which is lower. The plains in the neighbour- 
d of the lake Balkachi have not an elevation of 
•e than 1920 feet above the sea. 
etween the meridians of Oust-Kamenogorsk and 
lipolatinsk the Altaic system is prolonged, from 
: to west under the parallels of 49 and 50 degrees, 
1 chain of low mountains, over an extent of 786 
:s, as far as the steppe of the Kirghiz. This ridge 
been elevated through a fissure which forms the 
of separation of the streams of the Sara-sou and 
5ch, and which regularly follows the same direc- 
i over an extent of 16 degrees of longitude. It 
sists of stratified granites not intermixed with 
iss, and of greenstone, porphyry, jasper, and tran- 
)n-limestone, in which there occur various me- 
c substances. This low range does not reach 
southern extremity of the Ural, a chain which, 
the Andes, presents a long wall running north 
south, with metallic mines on its eastern slope, 
terminates abruptly in the meridian of Sverino- 

fere commences a remarkable region of lakes, 

iprising the group of Balek-koul (lat. 51° 30'), 

that of Koumkoul (lat. 49° 45'), indicating an 

lent communication of a mass of water with the 

5 Ak-sakal, which receives the Tourgai and the 
nichloi Irghiz, as well as with the lake Aral; 

which would seem from Chinese accounts to 

6 formed part of a great plain extending to the 
iers of the Frozen Sea. 

. System of Tcen-shan. — The mean latitude of 
system is the 42d degree. Its highest summit 
ernaps the mass of mountains covered with per- 
lal snow, and celebrated under the name of 
:hda-ovla, from which Pallas gave the designation 
Bogdo to the whole chain. From Bokhda-ovla 
Khatoun-bokhda, the Teen-shan mountains run 
tward towards Bar-koul, where they are suddenly 
cred so as to fall to the level of the elevated 


'IftH'irt, f:aii'-'J tri'; ''ir-rf, Oo:. ■--: •V:;i-a». wr^ich €-1- 
N'rirl.-. from Ko'j'-i-''^;r.^:Oi. i ♦V.'.iri-'.cr v.-th. :.j -hr 
HOI I rr ': = . o f ♦. f I 'r A r i; M : i r: . I f 'Ar :. .• .it r -r : :r^ :. j B- jiii > 
ovl;», w; fifi'l t-r; '.vc-JiVrr:: -..r'jl'jz^z.'i.'tz. o: tr.e^ 
nwfiiiiUiin.-. -t.r«;V;h!rii' to Go. :.>- ^.r.-i K>-:.:".'.r. rlr j 
l»irtw«-.«:ii l;ik'; T'lrionsVi-i ^;.: Ak.=;.:.'i Vj "::.-: zorh 
* J f < ! ;i .-. h j/;ir, ill I'l r n f J ji I :i J- *. ' • -v >i .- > Sii Ti irc s-.* i. Tr.^ 
roiJiitry r:oriipn:h';n'l*:'i ^-'r* A'f:*::i t::o Al:<i:c c:.?ii:i ani 
till! 'Vov.u Hh;ifi rnounVi-ri is -i'lWt i:p to ".h*: €-*•»". 
\n:y(iw\ till: m'Ti'lj;jiJ of f'f kin, Sy t:.e KrJajkhA:i- 
ovIji, ;i lofty rul'j^,. wh\ch runs from soiirji-we*: ;o 
north /;;i«-.t; fml U) tii»: wf;st it is entirely op-rn. 

TIk! r:;isi; is viTylifR-r*'!!! with the countn'liaiitc'l 
hy th<! H*-.roii(l luid thin! syst*;ins. the Teen-shau vuA 
K Willi lull rmit^ns; it hf.in'j closed to the west by a 
InitiHVfTHt; rir)(((;, wiiirth niiis north and south, under 
i\u'. iiiiiiii; of Motor or Molour-taiih. This chaiu 
NO|»:ir:iU:M hitth; hiirhiiriu from Great Buchnri^. the 
foiiiitry of C-cish^iir, itiidakshan, and Upper Djihoun. 
II.H Houthrrii p;irl, vvhicrh is coiiFiocted with the Kwan- 
iiiii fiv!*t«"iii, forms ;i pwri of Iho Tsimslin^ of thi? 
rhmrir. To \\\r. iiortli it joins th(; chain whicii 
piiuMi'M In Ihr iiorlh w«*st. of C;is]i'^;jr. lit'tvveen 
KhoLnid, l>«rv;ii;<'l, iind Iliss;ir, conSf;qu(Mitly he- 
IwriMi I hi* .';iiil unknown sonrct^s of the Sihon and 
Amnii «lrri;i, the Timmi shiJii rises before loweriin^ 
.If.;. nil 111 Ihr l\:in:il. of lio(th;ir;i, and pres(Mit.s a {i^roup 
III' hnd) iiuMiiitiiins, scvcnil of wiiicii are covered 
Willi .Miiow rvrii in snmnicr. Mor(; to the east it is 
liM.-i i«h'\;ihMl. Thr roMvl from vSemipohitiiisk to 
< 'si ihi'..ir p.issrs lo the eiisl, of l:ike Balkachi and to 
lln« wtv.l of l;iki' Ossi-koul, and crosses the Narim, 
.1 liilnil.irv of llu' Silion. At the distance of 69i 
iiiiIp.i lioni thr iN:n'ini to the south, it passes over 
the Ifovjit. which h:is;i hirirf cave, and is the higliest 
point l»rhn'«» .irnvini;::it thc(^hinest^ post to the south 
ol Iho \k .'.on, llio vilhiji:e of Artuche, and (Jash^ar. 
The* city, which is built on the banks of the Ara- 


tmnen, has 15.000 houses and 80,000 inhabitants, 
although it is smaller than Samarcand. 

The western prolongation of the Teen-shan or 
the Mouz-tagb, is desening of particular examina- 
tion. At the point where the Bolor or Belour-ta^ 
joins the Mouz-tagh at right angles, the latter con- 
tinues to run without interruption from east to west, 
under the name of Asferah-tagh, to the south of the 
•Sihon, towards Kodjend and Ourat-eppeh in Fer- 
ganah. This chain of Asferah, which is covered 
with perpetual snow, separates the sources of the 
Sihon (Jaxartes) from those of the Amou (Oxus). It 
turns to the south-west nearly in the meridian of 
Kodjend, and in this direction is named, tiU it ap- 
proaches Samarcand, Aktagh, or Al-6otous. More 
to the west, on the fertile banks of the Kohik, com- 
mences the vast depression of ground comprising 
Great Bucharia and the country of Mavar-ul-Nahar , 
but beyond the Caspian Sea, nearly in the same 
latitude and in the same direction as the Teen-shan 
range, is seen the Caucasus with its poiph3nries and 
trachytes. It may, therefore, be considered as a 
continuation of the fissure upon which the Teen-shan 
is raised in the east, just as, to the west of the great 
mass of mountains of Adzarbaidjan and Armenia, 
Mount Taurus is a continuation of the action of the 
fissure of the Himmaleh and Hindoo-Coosh moun- 

3. Kwan-lun Si/stem. — The Kwan-lun or Koul-koun 
chain is between Khoten, the mountains of Khou- 
khou-noor and Eastern Thibet, and the country 
named Katchi. It commences to the west at the 
Tsung-ling mountains. It is connected with the 
transverse chain of Bolor, as observed above, and, 
according to the Chinese books, forms its southern 
part. This corner of the globe, between Little Thi- 
bet and the Boda Kohan, is very little known, 
alth,ough it is rich in rubies, lapis lazuli, and mineral 


taraaoiB; aiid,accordiiigtoiecentacfMMmto,theplaii 
of Khorassan, which miiB in the directioii of Heiat, 
and limits the-Hindoo-kho to the noith» appears to 
be rather a continuation of the Tsung^yuig ajad of the 
whole system of Kwaorhm to the west, than a pro- 
longation of the Himmalehs, as is commonibf sap- 
poMd. FromtheTsong-lingtheKwBii-lniiyOrKoH- 
konn range, nms from west to east towards thft 
sources of the Hoang-ho or Yellow River, nd 
penetrates with its snowy summits into Ghen-si, a 
province of China. Neany in the meridian of these 
springs rises the great mass of mountains on the 
lake Khoukhoi^noor, resting to the north upsn the 
snowy chain of the Nanshan or Ki-'leeii-ahaa.iiUieh 
also runsfromwest to east Between Nanshnsal 
Teen-flban, the heights of TjBmgout limit the mugii 
of the upper desert of Gobi, or Chn-mo^ whidi is 
prolonged from south-west to north-eiMt The 
latitude of the central part of the Kwan-lon range ie 
35° 30*. 

4. Himmaleh System. — ^This system separates the 
valleys of Cashmere and Nepaul from Bootan and 
Thibet. To thd west it rises in the mountain Ja- 
vaher to an elevation of 25,746 feet, and to the east 
in Dhwalagiri to 28,074 feet above the level of the 
sea. Its general direction is from north-weet to 
south-east, and thus it is not at all parallel to the 
Kwanlun range, to which it approaches so near in the 
meridian of Attok and Jellalabad that they seem to 
form the same mass of mountains. Following the 
Himmaleh range eastward, we find it boidenng 
Assam on the north, containing the sources of the 
Brahmapoutra, passing through the northern part of 
Ava, and penetrating into Yun-nan, a province of 
China, to the west of Young-tchang. It there ex- 
hibits pointed and snow-clad summits. It bends 
abruptly to the north-east, on the confines of Hon- 
kouang, Kiang-si, and F(Hikian, and advances ita 


snowy peaks towards the ocean ; the island of For- 
mosa, the mountains of which are in like manner 
covered during the greater part of summer, being its 
termination. Thus we may follow tjie Himmaleh 
system as a continuous chain from the Eastern 
Ocean, through Hindoo-kho, across Candahar and 
Khorassan, to beyond the Caspian Sea in Adzar- 
baidjan, along an extent of 73 degrees, or half the 
length of the Andes. The western extremity, which 
is volcanic (like the eastern part), loses its character 
of a chain in the mountains of Armenia, which are 
connected with Sangalou, Bingheul, and Kachmir- 
daugh, in the pachalic of Erzeroum. The mean 
direction of the system is north 55° west. 

These mountain-ch^s, with their various rami- 
fications and intervening platforms and valleys, af- 
ford evidence to our author of revolutions anciently 
undergone by the crust of the globe ; these having 
been elevated by matter thrOst up in the line of 
enormous cracks and fissures. The great depression 
of Central Asia, spoken of above, he considers as 
having been caused by the same action. Analogous 
to the Caspian Sea and other cavities in this district, 
are the lakes formed in Europe at the foot of the 
Alps, and which also owe their origin to a sinking 
of the ground. It is chiefly in the extent of tliis 
depression of Central Asia, and consequently in the 
space where the resistance was least, that we find 
traces of volcanic action. Several volcanoes are 
described in this space by ancient Chinese writers, 
who also mention a vanety of volcanic products, 
such as sal ammoniac and sulphur, which form articles 
of commerce. 

" We thus know," says our author, " in the interior 
of Asia, a volcanic territory, the surface of which 
is upwards of 2500 square geographical miles, and 
which is from 1000 to 1400 miles distant from the 
It fills the half of the longitudinal valley sit- 



uated between the first and second system of moun- 
tains. The principal seaj of volcanic action appears 
to be in the Teen-shan. Perhaps the colossal 
Bokhda-ovla is a trachjrtic formation, like Chimbo- 
razo." On both sides of the Teen-shan violent 
earthquakes occur. The city of Aksou was entire^ 
destroyed at the commencement of the eighteentn 
century by a commotion of this nature. In Eastern 
Siberia the centre of the circle of shocks appears 
to be at Irkutzk, and in the deep basin of the Baikal 
lake, in the vicinity of which volcanic products are 
observed. But this point of the Altaic range is the 
extreme limit of these {Phenomena, no earthquakes 
having been experienced farther to the west, in the 
plains pf Siberia, between the Altaic and tFralian 
ranges, or in any part of^he latter. 

The volcanic territory of Bichbalik is to the east 
of th6 great depression of Asia. To the south and 
west of this internal basin we find two cones in ac- 
tivity, — Demavend, which is visible from Teheran, 
and Seiban of Ararat, which is covered with vitreous 
lavas. On both sides of the isthmus between the 
Caspian and the Black Sea springs of naphtha and 
mud-eruptions are numerous. 

On the western margin of the great depression, if 
we proceed from the Caucasian isthmus to the north 
and north-west, we arrive at the territory of the 
great horizontal and tertiary deposites of Southern 
Russia and Poland. Here we find igneous rocks 
piercing the redsandstone of Jekaterinoslav, together 
with asphaltum and springs impregnated with sul- 
phurous gases. 

A phenomenon so great as that of the central de- 
pression of Asia, which resembles the circular val- 
leys of the moon, could have been produced only by 
a very powerful cause acting in the interior of tije 
«arth. This cause, while forming the crust of the 

^e by sudden raisings and sinkings, probably filled 


with metallic substances the fissures of the Uralian 
and Altaic chains. 

It is not the custom of our author to detail per- 
sonal adventures, his object being to give a scientific 
character to his narrative ; and for this reason his 
relations may be less interesting to many readers 
than some of the travels and voyages which have of 
late been so profusely offered to the public. He is 
at present engaged in preparing an account of his 
Asiatic tour, the full details of which will appear 
under the general title of " A Journey to the Uralian 
Range, the Mountains of Kolyvan, the Frontier of 
Chinese Zungaria, and the Caspian Sea, made by 
Order of the Emperor of Russia, in 1829, by A. de 
Humboldt, G. Ehrenberg, and G. Rose.'' It will 
consist of three distinct works : 1. A geological and 
physical view of the north-west of Asia, observa- 
tions of terrestrial magnetism, and results of astro- 
nomical geography, by Baron Humboldt. 2. The 
mineralogical and geological details, the results of 
chymical analysis, and the narrative of the journey, 
by M. Rose. 3. The botanical and zoological part, 
with observations on the distribution of plants and 
animals, by M. Ehrenberg. 

Any formal eulogy on our illustrious author must 
be altogether unnecessary, for his renown has ex- 
tended over all parts of the civilized world ; and, at 
the present day, there is not a man of science in 
Europe whose name is more famiUar. Long after 
his career shall have terminated, Humboldt will be 
remembered as one of the chief ornaments of an 
age peculiarly remarkable in the history of the 



r ,| 





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