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The Naturalist on the River Amazons by Henry Walter Bates

Part 3 out of 9

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saw the Santa Rosa, a mere speck in the offing miles away,
tacking down river with a fine breeze. I was now in a fix, for it
would be useless attempting to overtake the cuberta, and besides
the sea ran too high for any montaria. I was then told that I
ought to have been aboard hours before the time fixed for
starting, because when a breeze springs up, vessels start before
the tide turns; the last hour of the flood not being very strong.
All my precious collections, my clothes, and other necessaries
were on board, and it was indispensable that I should be at Para
when the things were disembarked. I tried to hire a montaria and
men, but was told that it would be madness to cross the river in
a small boat with this breeze. On going to Senor Laroque, another
of my Cameta friends, I was relieved of my embarrassment, for I
found there an English gentleman, Mr. Patchett of Pernambuco, who
was visiting Para and its neighbourhood on his way to England,
and who, as he was going back to Para in a small boat with four
paddles, which would start at midnight, kindly offered me a

The evening from seven to ten o'clock was very stormy. About
seven, the night became intensely dark, and a terrific squall of
wind burst forth, which made the loose tiles fly over the
housetops; to this succeeded lightning and stupendous claps of
thunder, both nearly simultaneous. We had had several of these
short and sharp storms during the past month. At midnight, when
we embarked, all was as calm as though a ruffle had never
disturbed air, forest, or river. The boat sped along like an
arrow to the rhythmic paddling of the four stout youths we had
with us, who enlivened the passage with their wild songs. Mr.
Patchett and I tried to get a little sleep, but the cabin was so
small and encumbered with boxes placed at all sorts of angles,
that we found sleep impossible. I was just dozing when the day
dawned, and, on awakening, the first object I saw was the Santa
Rosa, at anchor under a green island in mid-river. I preferred to
make the remainder of the voyage in company of my collections, so
bade Mr. Patchett good-day. The owner of the Santa Rosa, Senor
Jacinto Machado, whom I had not seen before, received me aboard,
and apologised for having started without me. He was a white man,
a planter, and was now taking his year's production of cacao,
about twenty tons, to Para. The canoe was very heavily laden, and
I was rather alarmed to see that it was leaking at all points.
The crew were all in the water diving about to feel for the
holes, which they stopped with pieces of ray and clay, and an old
negro was baling the water out of the hold. This was a pleasant
prospect for a three-day voyage! Senor Machado treated it as the
most ordinary incident possible: "It was always likely to leak,
for it was an old vessel that had been left as worthless high and
dry on the beach, and he had bought it very cheap."

When the leaks were stopped, we proceeded on our journey and at
night reached the mouth of the Anapu. I wrapped myself in an old
sail, and fell asleep on the raised deck. The next day, we
threaded the Igarape-mirim, and on the 19th descended the Moju.
Senor Machado and I by this time had become very good friends. At
every interesting spot on the banks of the Moju, he manned the
small boat and took me ashore. There are many large houses on
this river belonging to what were formerly large and flourishing
plantations, but which, since the Revolution of 1835-6, had been
suffered to go to decay. Two of the largest buildings were
constructed by the Jesuits in the early part of the last century.
We were told that there were formerly eleven large sugar mills on
the banks of the Moju, while now there are only three.

At Burujuba, there is a large monastery in a state of ruin; part
of the edifice, however, was still inhabited by a Brazilian
family. The walls are four feet in thickness. The long dark
corridors and gloomy cloisters struck me as very inappropriate in
the midst of this young and radiant nature. They would be better
if placed on some barren moor in Northern Europe than here in the
midst of perpetual summer. The next turn in the river below
Burujuba brought the city of Para into view. The wind was now
against us, and we were obliged to tack about. Towards evening,
it began to blow stiffly, the vessel heeled over very much, and
Senor Machado, for the first time, trembled for the safety of his
cargo; the leaks burst out afresh when we were yet two miles from
the shore. He ordered another sail to be hoisted in order to run
more quickly into port, but soon afterwards an extra puff of wind
came, and the old boat lurched alarmingly, the rigging gave way,
and down fell boom and sail with a crash, encumbering us with the
wreck. We were then obliged to have recourse to oars; and as soon
as we were near the land, fearing that the crazy vessel would
sink before reaching port, I begged Senor Machado to send me
ashore in the boat with the more precious portion of my



River Para and Bay of Marajo--Journey to Caripi--Negro Observance
of Christmas--A German Family--Bats--Ant-eaters--Hummingbirds--
Excursion to the Murucupi--Domestic Life of the Inhabitants--
Hunting Excursion with Indians--White Ants

That part of the Para river which lies in front of the city, as I
have already explained, forms a narrow channel, being separated
from the main waters of the estuary by a cluster of islands. This
channel is about two miles broad, and constitutes part of the
minor estuary of Goajara, into which the three rivers Guama,
Moju, and Acara discharge their waters. The main channel of the
Para lies ten miles away from the city, directly across the
river; at that point, after getting clear of the islands, a great
expanse of water is beheld, ten to twelve miles in width; on the
opposite shore the island of Marajo, being visible only in clear
weather as a line of tree-tops dotting the horizon. A little
further upwards, that is to the southwest, the mainland on the
right or eastern shore appears--this is called Carnapijo; it is
rocky, covered with the neverending forest, and the coast, which
is fringed with broad sandy beaches, describes a gentle curve
inwards. The broad reach of the Para in front of this coast is
called the Bahia, or Bay of Marajo. The coast and the interior of
the land are peopled by civilised Indians and Mamelucos, with a
mixture of free negroes and mulattos. They are poor, for the
waters are not abundant in fish, and they are dependent for a
livelihood solely on their small plantations, and the scant
supply of game found in the woods. The district was originally
peopled by various tribes of Indians, of whom the principal were
the Tupinambas and Nhengahibas. Like all the coast tribes,
whether inhabiting the banks of the Amazons or the seashore
between Para and Bahia, they were far more advanced in
civilisation than the hordes scattered through the interior of
the country, some of which still remain in the wild state,
between the Amazons and the Plata. There are three villages on
the coast of Carnapijo, and several planters' houses, formerly
the centres of flourishing estates, which have now relapsed into
forest in consequence of the scarcity of labour and diminished
enterprise. One of the largest of these establishments is called
Caripi. At the time of which I am speaking, it belonged to a
Scotch gentleman, Mr. Campbell, who had married the daughter of a
large Brazilian proprietor. Most of the occasional English and
American visitors to Para had made some stay at Caripi, and it
had obtained quite a reputation for the number and beauty of the
birds and insects found there; I therefore applied for, and
obtained permission, to spend two or three months at the place.
The distance from Para was about twenty-three miles, round by the
northern end of the Ilha das oncas (Isle of Tigers), which faces
the city. I bargained for a passage thither with the cabo of a
small trading-vessel, which was going past the place, and started
on the 7th of December, 1848.

We were thirteen persons aboard: the cabo, his pretty mulatto
mistress, the pilot and five Indian canoemen, three young
mamelucos (tailor-apprentices who were taking a holiday trip to
Cameta), a heavily chained runaway slave, and myself. The young
mamelucos were pleasant, gentle fellows; they could read and
write, and amused themselves on the voyage with a book containing
descriptions and statistics of foreign countries, in which they
seemed to take great interest--one reading while the others
listened. At Uirapiranga, a small island behind the Ilha das
oncas, we had to stop a short time to embark several pipes of
cashaca at a sugar estate. The cabo took the montaria and two
men; the pipes were rolled into the water and floated to the
canoe, the men passing cables round and towing them through a
rough sea. Here we slept, and the following morning, continuing
our voyage, entered a narrow channel which intersects the land of
Carnapijo. At 2 p.m. we emerged from this channel, which is
called the Aitituba, or Arrozal, into the broad Bahia, and then
saw, two or three miles away to the left, the red-tiled mansion
of Caripi, embosomed in woods on the shores of a charming little

The water is very shallow near the shore, and when the wind blows
there is a heavy ground swell. A few years previously, an English
gentleman, Mr. Graham, an amateur naturalist, was capsized here
and drowned with his wife and child, while passing in a heavily-
laden montaria to his large canoe. Remembering their fate, I was
rather alarmed to see that I should be obliged to take all my
luggage ashore in one trip in a leaky little boat. The pile of
chests with two Indians and myself sank the montaria almost to
the level of the water. I was kept busy bailing all the way. The
Indians manage canoes in this condition with admirable skill.
They preserve the nicest equilibrium, and paddle so gently that
not the slightest oscillation is perceptible. On landing, an old
negress named Florinda, the feitora or manageress of the
establishment (which was kept only as a poultry-farm and hospital
for sick slaves), gave me the keys, and I forthwith took
possession of the rooms I required.

I remained here nine weeks, or until the 12th of February, 1849.
The house was very large and most substantially built, but
consisted of only one story. I was told it was built by the
Jesuits more than a century ago. The front had no veranda, the
doors opening upon a slightly elevated terrace about a hundred
yards distant from the broad sandy beach. Around the residence
the ground had been cleared to the extent of two or three acres,
and was planted with fruit trees. Well-trodden pathways through
the forest led to little colonies of the natives on the banks of
retired creeks and rivulets in the interior. I led here a
solitary but not unpleasant life; for there was a great charm in
the loneliness of the place. The swell of the river beating on
the sloping beach caused an unceasing murmur, which lulled me to
sleep at night, and seemed appropriate music in those midday
hours when all nature was pausing breathless under the rays of a
vertical sun. Here I spent my first Christmas Day in a foreign
land. The festival was celebrated by the negroes of their own
free will and in a very pleasing manner. The room next to the one
I had chosen was the capella, or chapel. It had a little altar
which was neatly arranged, and the room was furnished with a
magnificent brass chandelier. Men, women, and children were busy
in the chapel all day on the 24th of December decorating the
altar with flowers and strewing the floor with orange-leaves.
They invited some of their neighbours to the evening prayers, and
when the simple ceremony began an hour before midnight, the
chapel was crowded. They were obliged to dispense with the mass,
for they had no priest; the service therefore consisted merely of
a long litany and a few hymns. There was placed on the altar a
small image of the infant Christ, the "Menino Deos" as they
called it, or the child-god, which had a long ribbon depending
from its waist. An old white-haired negro led off the litany, and
the rest of the people joined in the responses. After the service
was over they all went up to the altar, one by one, and kissed
the end of the ribbon. The gravity and earnestness shown
throughout the proceedings were remarkable. Some of the hymns
were very simple and beautiful, especially one beginning
"Virgensoberana," a trace of whose melody springs to my
recollection whenever I think on the dreamy solitude of Caripi.

The next day after I arrived, two blue-eyed and red-haired boys
came up and spoke to me in English, and presently their father
made his appearance. They proved to be a German family named
Petzell, who were living in the woods, Indian fashion, about a
mile from Caripi. Petzell explained to me how he came here. He
said that thirteen years ago he came to Brazil with a number of
other Germans under engagement to serve in the Brazilian army.
When his time had expired he came to Para to see the country, but
after a few months' rambling left the place to establish himself
in the United States. There he married, went to Illinois, and
settled as farmer near St. Louis. He remained on his farm seven
or eight years, and had a family of five children. He could never
forget, however, the free river-life and perpetual summer of the
banks of the Amazons; so, he persuaded his wife to consent to
break up their home in North America, and migrate to Para. No one
can imagine the difficulties the poor fellow had to go through
before reaching the land of his choice. He first descended the
Mississippi, feeling sure that a passage to Para could be got at
New Orleans. He was there told that the only port in North
America he could start from was New York, so away he sailed for
New York; but there was no chance of a vessel sailing thence to
Para, so he took a passage to Demerara, as bringing him, at any
rate, near to the desired land. There is no communication
whatever between Demerara and Para, and he was forced to remain
here with his family four or five months, during which they all
caught the yellow fever, and one of his children died. At length,
he heard of a small coasting vessel going to Cayenne, so he
embarked, and thereby got another stage nearer the end of his
journey. A short time after reaching Cayenne, he shipped in a
schooner that was going to Para, or rather the island of Marajo,
for a cargo of cattle. He had now fixed himself, after all his
wanderings, in a healthy and fertile little nook on the banks of
a rivulet near Caripi, built himself a log-hut, and planted a
large patch of mandioca and Indian corn. He seemed to be quite
happy, but his wife complained much of the want of wholesome
food, meat, and wheaten bread. I asked the children whether they
liked the country; they shook their heads, and said they would
rather be in Illinois. Petzell told me that his Indian neighbours
treated him very kindly; one or other of them called almost every
day to see how he was getting on, and they had helped him in many
ways. He had a high opinion of the Tapuyos, and said, "If you
treat them well, they will go through fire to serve you."

Petzell and his family were expert insect-collectors, so I
employed them at this work during my stay at Caripi. The daily
occurrences here were after a uniform fashion. I rose with the
dawn, took a cup of coffee, and then sallied forth after birds.
At ten I breakfasted, and devoted the hours from ten until three
to entomology. The evening was occupied in preserving and storing
my captures. Petzell and I sometimes undertook long excursions,
occupying the whole day. Our neighbours used to bring me all the
quadrupeds, birds, reptiles, and shells they met with, and so
altogether I was enabled to acquire a good collection of the
productions of the district.

The first few nights I was much troubled by bats. The room where
I slept had not been used for many months, and the roof was open
to the tiles and rafters. The first night I slept soundly and did
not perceive anything unusual, but on the next I was aroused
about midnight by the rushing noise made by vast hosts of bats
sweeping about the room. The air was alive with them; they had
put out the lamp, and when I relighted it the place appeared
blackened with the impish multitudes that were whirling round and
round. After I had laid about well with a stick for a few
minutes, they disappeared amongst the tiles, but when all was
still again they returned, and once more extinguished the light.
I took no further notice of them, and went to sleep. The next
night several got into my hammock; I seized them as they were
crawling over me, and dashed them against the wall. The next
morning I found a wound, evidently caused by a bat, on my hip.
This was rather unpleasant, so I set to work with the negroes,
and tried to exterminate them. I shot a great many as they hung
from the rafters, and the negroes having mounted with ladders to
the roof outside, routed out from beneath the caves many hundreds
of them, including young broods. There were altogether four
species--two belonging to the genus Dysopes, one to Phyllostoma,
and the fourth to Glossophaga. By far the greater number belonged
to the Dysopes perotis, a species having very large ears, and
measuring two feet from tip to tip of the wings. The Phyllostoma
was a small kind, of a dark-grey colour, streaked with white down
the back, and having a leaf-shaped fleshy expansion on the tip of
the nose. I was never attacked by bats except on this occasion.
The fact of their sucking the blood of persons sleeping, from
wounds which they make in the toes, is now well established; but
it is only a few persons who are subject to this blood-letting.
According to the negroes, the Phyllostoma is the only kind which
attacks man. Those which I caught crawling over me were Dysopes,
and I am inclined to think many different kinds of bats have this

One day I was occupied searching for insects in the bark of a
fallen tree, when I saw a large cat-like animal advancing towards
the spot. It came within a dozen yards before perceiving me. I
had no weapon with me but an old chisel, and was getting ready to
defend myself if it should make a spring, when it turned around
hastily and trotted off. I did not obtain a very distinct view of
it, but I could see its colour was that of the Puma, or American
Lion, although it was rather too small for that species. The Puma
is not a common animal in the Amazons forests. I did not see
altogether more than a dozen skins, in the possession of the
natives. The fur is of a fawn colour. On account of its hue
resembling that of a deer common in the forests, the natives call
it the Sassu-arana, [The old zoologist Marcgrave called the Puma
the Cuguacuarana, probably (the c's being soft) a misspelling of
Sassu-arana; hence, the name Cougouar employed by French
zoologists, and copied in most works on natural history.] or the
false deer; that is, an animal which deceives one at first sight
by its superficial resemblance to a deer. The hunters are not at
all afraid of it, and speak always in disparaging terms of its
courage. Of the Jaguar, they give a very different account.

The only species of monkey I met with at Caripi was the same
dark-coloured little Midas already mentioned as found near Para.
The great Anteater, Tamandua of the natives (Myrmecophaga
jubata), was not uncommon here. After the first few weeks of
residence, I ran short of fresh provisions. The people of the
neighbourhood had sold me all the fowls they could spare; I had
not yet learned to eat the stale and stringy salt-fish which is
the staple food in these places, and for several days I had lived
on rice-porridge, roasted bananas, and farinha. Florinda asked me
whether I could eat Tamandua. I told her almost anything in the
shape of flesh would be acceptable; so the same day she went with
an old negro named Antonio and the dogs, and in the evening
brought one of the animals. The meat was stewed and turned out
very good, something like goose in flavour. The people at Caripi
would not touch a morsel, saying it was not considered fit to eat
in these parts; I had read, however, that it was an article of
food in other countries of South America. During the next two or
three weeks, whenever we were short of fresh meat, Antonio was
always ready, for a small reward, to get me a Tamandua. But one
day he came to me in great distress, with the news that his
favourite dog, Atrevido, had been caught in the grip of an ant-
eater, and was killed. We hastened to the place, and found the
dog was not dead, but severely torn by the claws of the animal,
which itself was mortally wounded, and was now relaxing its

The habits of the Myrmecophaga jubata are now pretty well known.
It is not uncommon in the drier forests of the Amazons valley,
but is not found, I believe, in the Ygapo, or flooded lands. The
Brazilians call the species the Tamandua bandeira, or the Banner
Anteater, the term banner being applied in allusion to the
curious colouration of the animal, each side of the body having a
broad oblique stripe, half grey and half black, which gives it
some resemblance to a heraldic banner. It has an excessively long
slender muzzle, and a wormlike extensile tongue. Its jaws are
destitute of teeth. The claws are much elongated, and its gait is
very awkward. It lives on the ground, and feeds on termites, or
white ants -- the long claws being employed to pull in pieces the
solid hillocks made by the insects, and the long flexible tongue
to lick them up from the crevices. All the other species of this
singular genus are arboreal. I met with four species altogether.
One was the Myrmecophaga tetradactyla; the two others, more
curious and less known, were very small kinds, called Tamandua-i.
Both are similar in size--ten inches in length, exclusive of the
tail--and in the number of the claws, having two of unequal
length to the anterior feet, and four to the hind feet. One
species is clothed with greyish-yellow silky hair-- this is of
rare occurrence. The other has a fur of a dingy brown colour,
without silky lustre. One was brought to me alive at Caripi,
having been caught by an Indian, clinging motionless inside a
hollow tree. I kept it in the house about twenty-four hours. It
had a moderately long snout, curved downwards, and extremely
small eyes. It remained nearly all the time without motion except
when irritated, in which case it reared itself on its hind legs
from the back of a chair to which it clung, and clawed out with
its forepaws like a cat. Its manner of clinging with its claws,
and the sluggishness of its motions, gave it a great resemblance
to a sloth. It uttered no sound, and remained all night on the
spot where I had placed it in the morning. The next day, I put it
on a tree in the open air, and at night it escaped. These small
Tamanduas are nocturnal in their habits, and feed on those
species of termites which construct earthy nests that look like
ugly excrescences on the trunks and branches of trees. The
different kinds of ant-eaters are thus adapted to various modes
of life, terrestrial and arboreal. Those which live on trees are
again either diurnal or nocturnal, for Myrmecophaga tetradactyla
is seen moving along the main branches in the daytime. The allied
group of the Sloths, which are still more exclusively South
American forms than ant-eaters are, at the present time furnish
arboreal species only, but formerly terrestrial forms of sloths
also existed, as the Megatherium, whose mode of life was a
puzzle, seeing that it was of too colossal a size to live on
trees, until Owen showed how it might have obtained its food from
the ground.

In January the orange-trees became covered with blossom, at least
to a greater extent than usual, for they flower more or less in
this country all the year round--and attracting a great number of
hummingbirds. Every day, in the cooler hours of the morning, and
in the evening from four o'clock until six, they were to be seen
whirring about the trees by scores. Their motions are unlike
those of all other birds. They dart to and fro so swiftly that
the eye can scarcely follow them, and when they stop before a
flower, it is only for a few moments. They poise themselves in an
unsteady manner, their wings moving with inconceivable rapidity,
probe the flower, and then shoot off to another part of the tree.
They do not proceed in that methodical manner which bees follow,
taking the flowers seriatim, but skip about from one part of the
tree to another in the most capricious way. Sometimes two males
close with each other and fight, mounting upwards in the
struggle, as insects are often seen to do when similarly engaged,
and then separating hastily and darting back to their work. Now
and then they stop to rest, perching on leafless twigs, where
they may be sometimes seen probing, from the places where they
sit, the flowers within their reach. The brilliant colours with
which they are adorned cannot be seen whilst they are fluttering
about, nor can the different species be distinguished unless they
have a deal of white hue in their plumage, such as Heliothrix
auritus, which is wholly white underneath, although of a
glittering green colour above, and the white-tailed Florisuga

There is not a great variety of hummingbirds in the Amazons
region, the number of species being far smaller in these uniform
forest plains than in the diversified valleys of the Andes, under
the same parallels of latitude. The family is divisible into two
groups, contrasted in form and habits: one containing species
which live entirely in the shade of the forest, and the other
comprising those which prefer open sunny places. The forest
species (Phaethorninae) are seldom seen at flowers, flowers
being, in the shady places where they abide, of rare occurrence;
but they search for insects on leaves, threading the bushes and
passing above and beneath each leaf with wonderful rapidity. The
other group (Trochilinae) are not quite confined to cleared
places, as they come into the forest wherever a tree is in
blossom, and descend into sunny openings where flowers are to be
found. But it is only where the woods are less dense than usual
that this is the case; in the lofty forests and twilight shades
of the lowlands and islands, they are scarcely ever seen. I
searched well at Caripi, expecting to find the Lophornis Gouldii,
which I was told had been obtained in the locality. This is one
of the most beautiful of all hummingbirds, having round the neck
a frill of long white feathers tipped with golden green. I was
not, however, so fortunate as to meet with it. Several times I
shot by mistake a hummingbird hawk-moth instead of a bird. This
moth (Macroglossa Titan) is somewhat smaller than hummingbirds
generally are; but its manner of flight, and the way it poises
itself before a flower whilst probing it with its proboscis, are
precisely like the same actions of hummingbirds. It was only
after many days' experience that I learned to distinguish one
from the other when on the wing. This resemblance has attracted
the notice of the natives, all of whom, even educated whites,
firmly believe that one is transmutable into the other. They have
observed the metamorphosis of caterpillars into butterflies, and
think it not at all more wonderful that a moth should change into
a hummingbird. The resemblance between this hawk-moth and a
hummingbird is certainly very curious, and strikes one even when
both are examined in the hand. Holding them sideways, the shape
of the head and position of the eyes in the moth are seen to be
nearly the same as in the bird, the extended proboscis
representing the long beak. At the tip of the moth's body there
is a brush of long hair-scales resembling feathers, which, being
expanded, looks very much like a bird's tail. But, of course, all
these points of resemblance are merely superficial. The negroes
and Indians tried to convince me that the two were of the same
species. "Look at their feathers," they said; "their eyes are the
same, and so are their tails." This belief is so deeply rooted
that it was useless to reason with them on the subject. The
Macroglossa moths are found in most countries, and have
everywhere the same habits; one well-known species is found in
England. Mr. Gould relates that he once had a stormy altercation
with an English gentleman, who affirmed that hummingbirds were
found in England, for he had seen one flying in Devonshire,
meaning thereby the moth Macroglossa stellatarum. The analogy
between the two creatures has been brought about, probably, by
the similarity of their habits, there being no indication of the
one having been adapted in outward appearance with reference to
the other.

It has been observed that hummingbirds are unlike other birds in
their mental qualities, resembling in this respect insects rather
than warm-blooded vertebrate animals. The want of expression in
their eyes, the small degree of versatility in their actions, the
quickness and precision of their movements, are all so many
points of resemblance between them and insects.

In walking along the alleys of the forest, a Phaethornis
frequently crosses one's path, often stopping suddenly and
remaining poised in midair, a few feet distant from the face of
the intruder. The Phaethorninae are certainly more numerousin the
Amazons region that the Trochilinae. They build their nests,
which are made of fine vegetable fibres and lichens; densely
woven together and thickly lined with silk-cotton from the fruit
of the samauma tree (Eriodendron samauma); and on the inner sides
lined with of the tips of palm-fronds. They are long and
purseshaped. The young when first hatched have very much shorter
bills than their parents. The only species of Trochilinae which I
found at Caripi were the little brassy-green Polytmus
viridissimus, the sapphire and emerald (Thalurania furcata), and
the large falcate-winged Campylopterus obscurus.

Snakes were very numerous at Caripi; many harmless species were
found near the house, and these sometimes came into the rooms. I
was wandering one day amongst the green bushes of Guajara, a tree
which yields a grape-like berry (Chrysobalanus Icaco) and grows
along all these sandy shores, when I was startled by what
appeared to be the flexuous stem of a creeping plant endowed with
life and threading its way amongst the leaves and branches. This
animated liana turned out to be a pale-green snake, the Dryophis
fulgida. Its whole body is of the same green hue, and it is thus
rendered undistinguishable amidst the foliage of the Guajara
bushes, where it prowls in search of its prey-- treefrogs and
lizards. The forepart of its head is prolonged into a slender
pointed beak, and the total length of the reptile was six feet.
There was another kind found amongst bushes on the borders of the
forest closely allied to this, but much more slender, viz., the
Dryophis acuminata. This grows to a length of four feet eight
inches, the tail alone being twenty-two inches; but the diameter
of the thickest part of the body is little more than a quarter of
an inch. It is of light-brown colour, with iridescent shades
variegated with obscurer markings, and looks like a piece of
whipcord. One individual which I caught of this species had a
protuberance near the middle of the body. Upon opening it, I
found a half-digested lizard which was much more bulky than the
snake itself.

Another kind of serpent found here, a species of Helicops, was
amphibiousin its habits. I saw several of this in wet weather on
the beach, which, on being approached, always made straightway
for the water, where they swamwith much grace and dexterity.
Florinda one day caught a Helicops while angling for fish, it
having swallowed the fishhook with the bait. She and others told
me these water-snakes lived on small fishes, but I did not meet
with any proof of the statement. In the woods, snakes were
constantly occurring; it was not often, however, that I saw
poisonous species. There were many arboreal kinds besides the two
just mentioned; and it was rather alarming, in entomologising
about the trunks of trees, to suddenly encounter, on turning
round, as sometimes happened, a pair of glittering eyes and a
forked tongue within a few inches of one's head. The last kind I
shall mention is the Coral-snake, which is a most beautiful
object when seen coiled up on black soil in the woods. The one I
saw here was banded with black and vermilion, the black bands
having each two clear white rings. The state of specimens
preserved in spirits can give no idea of the brilliant colours
which adorn the Coral-snake in life.

Petzell and I, as already mentioned, made many excursions of long
extent in the neighbouring forest. We sometimes went to Murucupi,
a creek which passes through the forest, about four miles behind
Caripi, the banks of which are inhabited by Indians and half-
breeds who have lived there for many generations in perfect
seclusion from the rest of the world-- the place being little
known or frequented. A path from Caripi leads to it through a
gloomy tract of virgin forest, where the trees are so closely
packed together that the ground beneath is thrown into the
deepest shade, under which nothing but fetid fungi and rotting
vegetable debris is to be seen. On emerging from this unfriendly
solitude near the banks of the Murucupi, a charming contrast is
presented. A glorious vegetation, piled up to an immense height,
clothes the banks of the creek, which traverses a broad tract of
semi-cultivated ground, and the varied masses of greenery are
lighted up with the sunny glow. Open palm-thatched huts peep
forth here and there from amidst groves of banana, mango, cotton,
and papaw trees and palms. On our first excursion, we struck the
banks of the river in front of a house of somewhat more
substantial architecture than the rest, having finished mud walls
that were plastered and whitewashed, and had a covering of red
tiles. It seemed to be full of children, and the aspect of the
household was improved by a number of good-looking mameluco
women, who were busily employed washing, spinning, and making
farinha. Two of them, seated on a mat in the open verandah, were
engaged sewing dresses, for a festival was going to take place a
few days hence at Balcarem, a village eight miles distant from
Murucupi, and they intended to be present to hear mass and show
their finery. One of the children, a naked boy about seven years
of age, crossed over with the montaria to fetch us. We were made
welcome at once, and asked to stay for dinner. On our accepting
the invitation, a couple of fowls were killed, and a wholesome
stew of seasoned rice and fowls soon put into preparation. It is
not often that the female members of a family in these retired
places are familiar with strangers; but, these people had lived a
long time in the capital, and therefore, were more civilised than
their neighbours. Their father had been a prosperous tradesman,
and had given them the best education the place afforded. After
his death the widow with several daughters, married and
unmarried, retired to this secluded spot, which had been their
sitio, farm or country-house, for many years. One of the
daughters was married to a handsome young mulatto, who was
present, and sang us some pretty songs, accompanying himself on
the guitar.

After dinner I expressed a wish to see more of the creek; so a
lively and polite old man, whom I took to be one of the
neighbours, volunteered as guide. We embarked in a little
montaria, and paddled some three or four miles up and down the
stream. Although I had now become familiarised with beautiful
vegetation, all the glow of fresh admiration came again to me in
this place. The creek was about a hundred yards wide, but
narrower in some places. Both banks were masked by lofty walls of
green drapery, here and there a break occurring, through which,
under overarching trees, glimpses were obtained of the palm-
thatched huts of settlers. The projecting boughs of lofty trees,
which in some places stretched half-way across the creek, were
hung with natural garlands and festoons, and an endless variety
of creeping plants clothed the water-frontage, some of which,
especially the Bignonias, were ornamented with large gaily-
coloured flowers. Art could not have assorted together beautiful
vegetable forms so harmoniously as was here done by Nature.
Palms, as usual, formed a large proportion of the lower trees;
some of them, however, shot up their slim stems to a height of
sixty feet or more, and waved their bunches of nodding plumes
between us and the sky. One kind of palm, the Pashiuba (Iriartea
exorhiza), which grows here in greater abundance than elsewhere,
was especially attractive. It is not one of the tallest kinds,
for when full-grown its height is not more, perhaps, than forty
feet; the leaves are somewhat less drooping, and the leaflets
much broader than in other species, so that they have not that
feathery appearance which those of some palms have, but still
they possess their own peculiar beauty. My guide put me ashore in
one place to show me the roots of the Pashiuba. These grow above
ground, radiating from the trunk many feet above the surface, so
that the tree looks as if supported on stilts; and a person can,
in old trees, stand upright amongst the roots with the
perpendicular stem wholly above his head. It adds to the
singularity of their appearance that these roots, which have the
form of straight rods, are studded with stout thorns, while the
trunk of the tree is quite smooth. The purpose of this curious
arrangement is, perhaps, similar to that of the buttress roots
already described--namely, to recompense the tree by root-growth
above the soil for its inability, in consequence of the
competition of neighbouring roots, to extend it underground. The
great amount of moisture and nutriment contained in the
atmosphere may also favour these growths.

On returning to the house, I found Petzell had been well occupied
during the hot hours of the day collecting insects in a
neighbouring clearing. Our kind hosts gave us a cup of coffee
about five o'clock, and we then started for home. The last mile
of our walk was performed in the dark. The forest in this part is
obscure even in broad daylight, but I was scarcely prepared for
the intense opacity of darkness which reigned here on this night,
and which prevented us from seeing each other while walking side
by side. Nothing occurred of a nature to alarm us, except that
now and then a sudden rush was heard among the trees, and once a
dismal shriek startled us. Petzell tripped at one place and fell
all his length into the thicket. With this exception, we kept
well to the pathway, and in due time arrived safely at Caripi.

One of my neighbours at Murucupi was a hunter of reputation in
these parts. He was a civilised Indian, married and settled,
named Raimundo, whose habit was to sally forth at intervals to
certain productive hunting-grounds, the situation of which he
kept secret, and procure fresh provisions for his family. I had
found out by this time that animal food was as much a necessary
of life in this exhausting climate as it is in the North of
Europe. An attempt which I made to live on vegetable food was
quite a failure, and I could not eat the execrable salt-fish
which Brazilians use. I had been many days without meat of any
kind, and nothing more was to be found near Caripi, so I asked as
a favour of Senor Raimundo permission to accompany him on one of
his hunting-trips, and shoot a little game for my own use. He
consented, and appointed a day on which I was to come over to his
house to sleep, so as to be ready for starting with the ebb-tide
shortly after midnight.

The locality we were to visit was situated near the extreme point
of the land of Carnapijo, where it projects northwardly into the
middle of the Para estuary, and is broken into a number of
islands. On the afternoon of January 11th, 1849, I walked through
the woods to Raimundo's house, taking nothing with me but a
double-barrelled gun, a supply of ammunition, and a box for the
reception of any insects I might capture. Raimundo was a
carpenter, and seemed to be a very industrious, man; he had two
apprentices, Indians like himself: one a young lad, and the other
apparently about twenty years of age. His wife was of the same
race. The Indian women are not always of a taciturn disposition
like their husbands. Senora Dominga was very talkative; there was
another old squaw at the house on a visit, and the tongues of the
two were going at a great rate the whole evening, using only the
Tupi language. Raimundo and his apprentices were employed
building a canoe. Notwithstanding his industry, he seemed to be
very poor, and this was the condition of most of the residents on
the banks of the Murucupi. They have, nevertheless, considerable
plantations of mandioca and Indian corn, besides small plots of
cotton, coffee, and sugarcane; the soil is very fertile, they
have no rent to pay, and no direct taxes. There is, moreover,
always a market in Para, twenty miles distant, for their surplus
produce, and a ready communication with it by water.

In the evening we had more visitors. The sounds of pipe and tabor
were heard, and presently a procession of villagers emerged from
a pathway through the mandioca fields. They were on a begging
expedition for St. Thome, the patron saint of Indians and
Mamelucos. One carried a banner, on which was crudely painted the
figure of St. Thome with a glory round his head. The pipe and
tabor were of the simplest description. The pipe was a reed
pierced with four holes, by means of which a few unmusical notes
were produced, and the tabor was a broad hoop with a skin
stretched over each end. A deformed young man played both the
instruments. Senor Raimundo received them with the quiet
politeness which comes so naturally to the Indian when occupying
the position of host. The visitors, who had come from the Villa
de Conde, five miles through the forest, were invited to rest.

Raimundo then took the image of St. Thome from one of the party,
and placed it by the side of Nossa Senhora in his own oratorio, a
little decorated box in which every family keeps its household
gods, finally lighting a couple of wax candles before it. Shortly
afterwards a cloth was laid on a mat, and all the guests were
invited to supper. The fare was very scanty-- a boiled fowl with
rice, a slice of roasted pirarucu, farinha, and bananas. Each one
partook very sparingly, some of the young men contenting
themselves with a plateful of rice. One of the apprentices stood
behind with a bowl of water and a towel, with which each guest
washed his fingers and rinsed his mouth after the meal. They
stayed all night-- the large open shed was filled with hammocks,
which were slung from pole to pole; and upon retiring, Raimundo
gave orders for their breakfast in the morning.

Raimundo called me at two o'clock, when we embarked (he, his
older apprentice Joaquim, and myself) in a shady place where it
was so dark that I could see neither canoe nor water, taking with
us five dogs. We glided down a winding creek where huge trunks of
trees slanted across close overhead, and presently emerged into
the Murucupi. A few yards further on we entered the broader
channel of the Aitituba. This we crossed, and entered another
narrow creek on the opposite side. Here the ebb-tide was against
us, and we had great difficulty in making progress. After we had
struggled against the powerful current a distance of two miles,
we came to a part where the ebb-tide ran in the opposite
direction, showing that we had crossed the watershed. The tide
flows into this channel or creek at both ends simultaneously, and
meets in the middle, although there is apparently no difference
of level, and the breadth of the water is the same. The tides are
extremely intricate throughout all the infinite channels and
creeks which intersect the lands of the Amazons delta.

The moon now broke forth and lighted up the trunks of colossal
trees, the leaves of monstrous Jupati palms which arched over the
creek, and revealed groups of arborescent arums standing like
rows of spectres on its banks. We had a glimpse now and then into
the black depths of the forest, where all was silent except the
shrill stridulation of wood-crickets. Now and then a sudden
plunge in the water ahead would startle us, caused by heavy fruit
or some nocturnal animal dropping from the trees. The two Indians
here rested on their paddles and allowed the canoe to drift with
the tide. A pleasant perfume came from the forest, which Raimundo
said proceeded from a cane-field. He told me that all this land
was owned by large proprietors at Para, who had received grants
from time to time from the Government for political services.
Raimundo was quite in a talkative humour; he related to me many
incidents of the time of the "Cabanagem," as the revolutionary
days of 1835-6 are popularly called. He said he had been much
suspected himself of being a rebel, but declared that the
suspicion was unfounded. The only complaint he had to make
against the white man was that he monopolised the land without
having any intention or prospect of cultivating it. He had been
turned out of one place where he had squatted and cleared a large
piece of forest. I believe the law of Brazil at this time was
that the new lands should become the property of those who
cleared and cultivated them, if their right was not disputed
within a given term of years by some one who claimed the
proprietorship. This land-law has since been repealed, and a new
one adopted founded on that of the United States. Raimundo spoke
of his race as the redskins, "pelle vermelho." They meant well to
the whites, and only begged to be let alone. "God," he said, "had
given room enough for us all."

It was pleasant to hear the shrewd good-natured fellow talk in
this strain. Our companion, Joaquim, had fallen asleep; the night
air was cool, and the moonlight lit up the features of Raimundo,
revealing a more animated expression than is usually observable
in Indian countenances. I always noticed that Indians were more
cheerful on a voyage, especially in the cool hours of night and
morning, than when ashore. There is something in their
constitution of body which makes them feel excessively depressed
in the hot hours of the day, especially inside their houses.
Their skin is always hot to the touch. They certainly do not
endure the heat of their own climate so well as the whites. The
negroes are totally different in this respect; the heat of midday
has very little effect on them, and they dislike the cold nights
on the river.

We arrived at our hunting-ground about half-past four. The
channel was broader here and presented several ramifications. It
yet wanted an hour and a half to daybreak, so
Raimundo,recommended me to have a nap. We both stretched
ourselves on the benches of the canoe and fell asleep, letting
the boat drift with the tide, which was now slack. I slept well
considering the hardness of our bed, and when I awoke in the
middle of a dream about home-scenes, the day was beginning to
dawn. My clothes were quite wet with the dew. The birds were
astir, the cicadas had begun their music, and the Urania Leilus,
a strange and beautiful tailed and gilded moth, whose habits are
those of a butterfly, commenced to fly in flocks over the tree-
tops. Raimundo exclaimed "Clareia o dia!"--"The day brightens!"
The change was rapid: the sky in the east assumed suddenly the
loveliest azure colour, across which streaks of thin white clouds
were painted. It is at such moments as this when one feels how
beautiful our earth truly is! The channel on whose waters our
little boat was floating was about two hundred yards wide; others
branched off right and left, surrounding the group of lonely
islands which terminate the land of Carnapijo. The forest on all
sides formed a lofty hedge without a break; below, it was fringed
with mangrove bushes, whose small foliage contrasted with the
large glossy leaves of the taller trees, or the feather and fan-
shaped fronds of palms.

Being now arrived at our destination, Raimundo turned up his
trousers and shirt-sleeves, took his long hunting-knife, and
leapt ashore with the dogs. He had to cut a gap in order to enter
the forest. We expected to find Pacas and Cutias; and the method
adopted to secure them was this: at the present early hour they
would be seen feeding on fallen fruits, but would quickly, on
hearing a noise, betake themselves to their burrows; Raimundo was
then to turn them out by means of the dogs, and Joaquim and I
were to remain in the boat with our guns, ready to shoot all that
came to the edge of the stream--the habits of both animals, when
hard-pressed, being to take to the water. We had not long to
wait. The first arrival was a Paca, a reddish, nearly tail-less
rodent, spotted with white on the sides, and intermediate in size
and appearance between a hog and a hare. My first shot did not
take effect; the animal dived into the water and did not
reappear. A second was brought down by my companion as it was
rambling about under the mangrove bushes. A Cutia next appeared:
this is also a rodent, about one-third the size of the Paca; it
swims, but does not dive, and I was fortunate enough to shoot it.
We obtained in this way two more Pacas and another Cutia. All the
time the dogs were yelping in the forest.

Shortly afterwards Raimundo made his appearance, and told us to
paddle to the other side of the island. Arrived there, we landed
and prepared for breakfast. It was a pretty spot--a clean, white,
sandy beach beneath the shade of wide-spreading trees. Joaquim
made a fire. He first scraped fine shavings from the midrib of a
Bacaba palm-leaf; these he piled into a little heap in a dry
place, and then struck a light in his bamboo tinderbox with a
piece of an old file and a flint, the tinder being a felt-like
substance manufactured by an ant (Polyrhachis bispinosus). By
gentle blowing, the shavings ignited, dry sticks were piled on
them, and a good fire soon resulted. He then singed and prepared
the cutia, finishing by running a spit through the body and
fixing one end in the ground in a slanting position over the
fire. We had brought with us a bag of farinha and a cup
containing a lemon, a dozen or two of fiery red peppers, and a
few spoonsful of salt. We breakfasted heartily when our cutia was
roasted, and washed the meal down with a calabash full of the
pure water of the river.

After breakfast the dogs found another cutia, which was hidden in
its burrow two or three feet beneath the roots of a large tree,
and it took Raimundo nearly an hour to disinter it. Soon
afterwards we left this place, crossed the channel, and, paddling
past two islands, obtained a glimpse of the broad river between
them, with a long sandy spit, on which stood several scarlet
ibises and snow-white egrets. One of the islands was low and
sandy, and half of it was covered with gigantic arum-trees, the
often-mentioned Caladium arborescens, which presented a strange
sight. Most people are acquainted with the little British
species, Arum maculatum, which grows in hedge-bottoms, and many,
doubtless, have admired the larger kinds grown in hothouses; they
can therefore form some idea of a forest of arums. On this islet
the woody stems of the plants near the bottom were eight to ten
inches in diameter, and the trees were twelve to fifteen feet
high-- all growing together in such a manner that there was just
room for a man to walk freely between them. There was a canoe
inshore, with a man and a woman-- the man, who was hooting with
all his might, told us in passing that his son was lost in the
"aningal" (arum-grove). He had strayed while walking ashore, and
the father had now been an hour waiting for him in vain.

About one o'clock we again stopped at the mouth of a little
creek. It was now intensely hot. Raimundo said deer were found
here; so he borrowed my gun, as being a more effective weapon
than the wretched arms called Lazarinos, which he, in common with
all the native hunters, used, and which sell at Para for seven or
eight shillings apiece. Raimundo and Joaquim now stripped
themselves quite naked, and started off in different directions
through the forest, going naked in order to move with less noise
over the carpet of dead leaves, among which they stepped so
stealthily that not the slightest rustle could be heard. The dogs
remained in the canoe, in the neighbourhood of which I employed
myself two hours entomologising. At the end of that time my two
companions returned, having met with no game whatever.

We now embarked on our return voyage. Raimundo cut two slender
poles, one for a mast and the other for a sprit-- to these he
rigged a sail we had brought in the boat, for we were to return
by the open river, and expected a good wind to carry us to
Caripi. As soon as we got out of the channel we began to feel the
wind--the sea-breeze, which here makes a clean sweep from the
Atlantic. Our boat was very small and heavily laden; and when,
after rounding a point, I saw the great breadth we had to
traverse (seven miles), I thought the attempt to cross in such a
slight vessel foolhardy in the extreme. The waves ran very high,
there was no rudder, Raimundo steered with a paddle, and all we
had to rely upon to save us from falling into the trough of the
sea and being instantly swamped were his nerve and skill. There
was just room in the boat for our three selves, the dogs, and the
game we had killed, and when between the swelling ridges of waves
in so frail a shell, our destruction seemed inevitable; as it
was, we shipped a little water now and then. Joaquim assisted
with his paddle to steady the boat-- my time was fully occupied
in bailing out the water and watching the dogs, which were
crowded together in the prow, yelling with fear-- one or other of
them occasionally falling over the side and causing great
commotion in scrambling in again. Off the point was a ridge of
rocks, over which the surge raged furiously. Raimundo sat at the
stern, rigid and silent, his eye steadily watching the prow of
the boat. It was almost worth the risk and discomfort of the
passage to witness the seamanlike ability displayed by Indians on
the water. The little boat rode beautifully, rising well with
each wave, and in the course of an hour and a half we arrived at
Caripi, thoroughly tired and wet through to the skin.

On the 16th of January, the dry season came abruptly to an end.
The sea-breezes, which had been increasing in force for some
days, suddenly ceased, and the atmosphere became misty; at length
heavy clouds collected where a uniform blue sky had for many
weeks prevailed, and down came a succession of heavy showers, the
first of which lasted a whole day and night. This seemed to give
a new stimulus to animal life. On the first night there was a
tremendous uproar--tree-frogs, crickets, goat-suckers, and owls
all joining to perform a deafening concert. One kind of goat-
sucker kept repeating at intervals throughout the night a phrase
similar to the Portuguese words, "Joao corta pao,"--"John, cut
wood"-- a phrase which forms the Brazilian name of the bird. An
owl in one of the Genipapa trees muttered now and then a
succession of syllables resembling the word "Murucututu."
Sometimes the croaking and hooting of frogs and toads were so
loud that we could not hear one another's voices within doors.
Swarms of dragonflies appeared in the daytime about the pools of
water created by the rain, and ants and termites came forth in
the winged state in vast numbers. I noticed that the winged
termites, or white ants, which came by hundreds to the lamps at
night, when alighting on the table, often jerked off their wings
by a voluntary movement. On examination I found that the wings
were not shed by the roots, for a small portion of the stumps
remained attached to the thorax. The edge of the fracture was in
all cases straight, not ruptured; there is, in fact, a natural
seam crossing the member towards its root, and at this point the
long wing naturally drops or is jerked off when the insect has no
further use for it. The white ant is endowed with wings simply
for the purpose of flying away from the colony peopled by its
wingless companions, to pair with individuals of the same or
other colonies, and thus propagate and disseminate its kind. The
winged individuals are males and females, while the great bulk of
their wingless fraternity are of no sex, but are of two castes,
soldiers and workers, which are restricted to the functions of
building the nests, nursing, and defending the young brood. The
two sexes mate while on the ground, after the wings are shed; and
then the married couples, if they escape the numerous enemies
which lie in wait for them, proceed to the task of founding new
colonies. Ants and white ants have much that is analogous in
their modes of life-- they belong, however, to two widely
different orders of insects, strongly contrasted in their
structure and manner of growth.

I amassed at Caripi a very large collection of beautiful and
curious insects, amounting altogether to about twelve hundred
species. The number of Coleoptera was remarkable, seeing that
this order is so poorly represented near Para. I attributed their
abundance to the number of new clearings made in the virgin
forest by the native settlers. The felled timber attracts
lignivorous insects, and these draw in their train the predaceous
species of various families. As a general rule, the species were
smaller and much less brilliant in colours than those of Mexico
and South Brazil. The species too, although numerous, were not
represented by great numbers of individuals; they were also
extremely nimble, and therefore much less easy of capture than
insects of the same order in temperate climates. The carnivorous
beetles at Caripi were, like those of Para, chiefly arboreal.
Most of them exhibited a beautiful contrivance for enabling them
to cling to and run over smooth or flexible surfaces, such as
leaves. Their tarsi or feet are broad, and furnished beneath with
a brush of short stiff hairs; while their claws are toothed in
the form of a comb, adapting them for clinging to the smooth
edges of leaves, the joint of the foot which precedes the claw
being cleft so as to allow free play to the claw in grasping. The
common dung-beetles at Caripi, which flew about in the evening
like the Geotrupes, the familiar "shard-borne beetle with his
drowsy hum" of our English lanes, were of colossal size and
beautiful colours. One kind had a long spear-shaped horn
projecting from the crown of its head (Phanaeus lancifer). A blow
from this fellow, as he came heavily flying along, was never very
pleasant. All the tribes of beetles which feed on vegetable
substances, fresh or decayed, were very numerous. The most
beautiful of these, but not the most common, were the
Longicornes; very graceful insects, having slender bodies and
long antennae, often ornamented with fringes and tufts of hair.
They were found on flowers, on trunks of trees, or flying about
the new clearings. One small species (Coremia hirtipes) has a
tuft of hairs on its hind legs, while many of its sister species
have a similar ornament on the antennae. It suggests curious
reflections when we see an ornament like the feather of a
grenadier's cap situated on one part of the body in one species,
and in a totally different part in nearly allied ones. I tried in
vain to discover the use of these curious brush-like decorations.
On the trunk of a living leguminous tree, Petzell found a number
of a very rare and handsome species, the Platysternus hebraeus,
which is of a broad shape, coloured ochreous, but spotted and
striped with black, so as to resemble a domino. On the felled
trunks of trees, swarms of gilded-green Longicornes occurred, of
small size (Chrysoprasis), which looked like miniature musk-
beetles, and, indeed, are closely allied to those well-known
European insects.

At length, on the 12th of February, I left Caripi, my Negro and
Indian neighbours bidding me a warm "adios." I had passed a
delightful time, notwithstanding the many privations undergone in
the way of food. The wet season had now set in; the lowlands and
islands would soon become flooded daily at high water, and the
difficulty of obtaining fresh provisions would increase. I
intended, therefore, to spend the next three months at Para, in
the neighbourhood of which there was still much to be done in the
intervals of fine weather, and then start off on another
excursion into the interior.



Modes of Travelling on the Amazons--Historical Sketch of the
Early Explorations of the River--Preparations for Voyage--Life on
Board a Large Trading Vessel--The narrow channels joining the
Para to the Amazons--First Sight of the Great River--Gurupa--The
Great Shoal--Flat-topped Mountains--Santarem--Obydos

At the time of my first voyage up the Amazons--namely, in 1849--
nearly all communication with the interior was by means of small
sailing-vessels, owned by traders residing in the remote towns
and villages, who seldom came to Para themselves, but entrusted
vessels and cargoes to the care of half-breeds or Portuguese
cabos. Sometimes, indeed, they risked all in the hands of the
Indian crew, making the pilot, who was also steersman, do duty as
supercargo. Now and then, Portuguese and Brazilian merchants at
Para furnished young Portuguese with merchandise, and dispatched
them to the interior to exchange the goods for produce among the
scattered population. The means of communication, in fact, with
the upper parts of the Amazons had been on the decline for some
time, on account of the augmented difficulty of obtaining hands
to navigate vessels. Formerly, when the Government wished to send
any important functionary, such as a judge or a military
commandant, into the interior, they equipped a swift-sailing
galliota manned with ten or a dozen Indians. These could travel,
on the average, in one day farther than the ordinary sailing
craft could in three. Indian paddlers were now, however, almost
impossible to be obtained, and Government officers were obliged
to travel as passengers in trading-vessels. The voyage made in
this way was tedious in the extreme. When the regular east-wind
blew--the "vento geral," or trade-wind of the Amazons--sailing-
vessels could get along very well; but when this failed, they
were obliged to remain, sometimes many days together, anchored
near the shore, or progress laboriously by means of the "espia."

The latter mode of travelling was as follows. The montaria, with
twenty or thirty fathoms of cable, one end of which was attached
to the foremast, was sent ahead with a couple of hands, who
secured the other end of the rope to some strong bough or tree-
trunk; the crew then hauled the vessel up to the point, after
which the men in the boat re-embarked the cable, and paddled
forwards to repeat the process. In the dry season, from August to
December, when the trade-wind is strong and the currents slack, a
schooner could reach the mouth of the Rio Negro, a thousand miles
from Para, in about forty days; but in the wet season, from
January to July, when the east-wind no longer blows and the
Amazons pours forth its full volume of water, flooding the banks
and producing a tearing current, it took three months to travel
the same distance. It was a great blessing to the inhabitants
when, in 1853, a line of steamers was established, and this same
journey could be accomplished with ease and comfort, at all
seasons, in eight days!

It is, perhaps, not generally known that the Portuguese, as early
as 1710, had a fair knowledge of the Amazons; but the information
gathered by their Government, from various expeditions undertaken
on a grand scale, was long withheld from the rest of the world,
through the jealous policy which ruled in their colonial affairs.
From the foundation of Para by Caldeira, in 1615, to the
settlement of the boundary line between the Spanish and
Portuguese possessions, Peru and Brazil, in 1781-91, numbers of
these expeditions were undertaken in succession . The largest was
the one commanded by Pedro Texeira in 1637-9, who ascended the
river to Quito by way of the Napo, a distance of about 2800
miles, with 45 canoes and 900 men, and returned to Para without
any great misadventure by the same route. The success of this
remarkable undertaking amply proved, at that early date, the
facility of the river navigation, the practicability of the
country, and the good disposition of the aboriginal inhabitants.
The river, however, was first discovered by the Spaniards, the
mouth having been visited by Pinzon in 1500, and nearly the whole
course of the river navigated by Orellana in 1541-2. The voyage
of the latter was one of the most remarkable on record. Orellana
was a lieutenant of Gonzalo Pizarro, Governor of Quito, and
accompanied the latter in an adventurous journey which he
undertook across the easternmost chain of the Andes, down into
the sweltering valley of the Napo, in search of the land of El
Dorado, or the Gilded King. They started with 300 soldiers and
4000 Indian porters; but, arrived on the banks of one of the
tributaries of the Napo, their followers were so greatly
decreased in number by disease and hunger, and the remainder so
much weakened, that Pizarro was obliged to despatch Orellana with
fifty men, in a vessel they had built, to the Napo, in search of
provisions. It can be imagined by those acquainted with the
Amazons country how fruitless this errand would be in the
wilderness of forest where Orellana and his followers found
themselves when they reached the Napo, and how strong their
disinclination would be to return against the currents and rapids
which they had descended. The idea then seized them to commit
themselves to the chances of the stream, although ignorant
whither it would lead. So onward they went. From the Napo they
emerged into the main Amazons, and, after many and various
adventures with the Indians on its banks, reached the Atlantic--
eight months from the date of their entering the great river. [It
was during this voyage that the nation of female warriors was
said to have been met with; a report which gave rise to the
Portuguese name of the river, Amazonas. It is now pretty well
known that this is a mere fable, originating in the love of the
marvellous which distinguished the early Spanish adventurers, and
impaired the credibility of their narratives.]

Another remarkable voyage was accomplished, in a similar manner,
by a Spaniard named Lopez d'Aguirre, from Cusco, in Peru, down
the Ucayali, a branch of the Amazons flowing from the south, and
therefore, from an opposite direction to that of the Napo. An
account of this journey was sent by D'Aguirre, in a letter to the
King of Spain, from which Humboldt has given an extract in his
narrative. As it is a good specimen of the quaintness of style
and looseness of statement exhibited by these early narrators of
adventures in South America, I will give a translation of it:

"We constructed rafts, and, leaving behind our horses and
baggage, sailed down the river (the Ucayali) with great risk,
until we found ourselves in a gulf of fresh water. In this river
Maranon we continued more than ten months and a half, down to its
mouth, where it falls into the sea. We made one hundred days'
journey, and travelled 1500 leagues. It is a great and fearful
stream, has 80 leagues of fresh water at its mouth, vast shoals,
and 800 leagues of wilderness without any kind of inhabitants,
[This account disagrees with that of Acunna, the historiographer
of Texeira's expedition, who accompanied him, in 1639, on his
return voyage from Quito. Acunna speaks of a very numerous
population on the banks of the Amazons.] as your Majesty will see
from the true and correct narrative of the journey which we have
made. It has more than 6000 islands. God knows how we came out of
this fearful sea!"

Many expeditions were undertaken in the course of the eighteenth
century; in fact, the crossing of the continent from the Pacific
to the Atlantic, by way of the Amazons, seems to have become by
this time a common occurrence. The only voyage, however, which
yielded much scientific information to the European public was
that of the French astronomer, La Condamine, in 1743-4. The most
complete account yet published of the river is that given by Von
Martius in the third volume of Spix and Martius' Travels. These
most accomplished travellers were eleven months in the country--
namely, from July, 1819, to June, 1820--and ascended the river to
the frontiers of the Brazilian territory. The accounts they have
given of the geography, ethnology, botany, history, and
statistics of the Amazons region are the most complete that have
ever been given to the world. Their narrative was not published
until 1831, and was unfortunately inaccessible to me during the
time I travelled in the same country.

While preparing for my voyage it happened, fortunately, that the
half-brother of Dr. Angelo Custodio, a young mestizo named Joao
da Cunha Correia, was about to start for the Amazons on a trading
expedition in his own vessel, a schooner of about forty tons'
burthen. A passage for me was soon arranged with him through the
intervention of Dr. Angelo, and we started on the 5th of
September, 1849. I intended to stop at some village on the
northern shore of the Lower Amazons, where it would be
interesting to make collections, in order to show the relations
of the fauna to those of Para and the coast region of Guiana. As
I should have to hire a house or hut wherever I stayed, I took
all the materials for housekeeping--cooking utensils, crockery,
and so forth. To these were added a stock of such provisions as
it would be difficult to obtain in the interior--also ammunition,
chests, store-boxes, a small library of natural history books,
and a hundredweight of copper money. I engaged, after some
trouble, a Mameluco youth to accompany me as servant--a short,
fat, yellow-faced boy named Luco, whom I had already employed at
Para in collecting. We weighed anchor at night, and on the
following day found ourselves gliding along the dark-brown waters
of the Moju.

Joao da Cunha, like most of his fellow countrymen, took matters
very easily. He was going to be absent in the interior several
years, and therefore, intended to diverge from his route to visit
his native place, Cameta, and spend a few days with his friends.
It seemed not to matter to him that he had a cargo of
merchandise, vessel, and crew of twelve persons, which required
an economical use of time; "pleasure first and business
afterwards" appeared to be his maxim. We stayed at Cameta twelve
days. The chief motive for prolonging the stay to this extent was
a festival at the Aldeia, two miles below Cameta, which was to
commence on the 21st, and which my friend wished to take part in.
On the day of the festival the schooner was sent down to anchor
off the Aldeia, and master and men gave themselves up to revelry.
In the evening a strong breeze sprang up, and orders were given
to embark. We scrambled down in the dark through the thickets of
cacao, orange, and coffee trees which clothed the high bank, and,
after running great risk of being swamped by the heavy sea in the
crowded montaria, got all aboard by nine o'clock. We made all
sail amidst the "adios" shouted to us by Indian and mulatto
sweethearts from the top of the bank, and, tide and wind being
favourable, were soon miles away.

Our crew consisted, as already mentioned, of twelve persons. One
was a young Portuguese from the province of Traz os Montes, a
pretty sample of the kind of emigrants which Portugal sends to
Brazil. He was two or three and twenty years of age, and had been
about two years in the country, dressing and living like the
Indians, to whom he was certainly inferior in manners. He could
not read or write, whereas one at least of our Tapuyos had both
accomplishments. He had a little wooden image of Nossa Senora in
his rough wooden clothes-chest, and to this he always had
recourse when any squall arose, or when we ran aground on a
shoal. Another of our sailors was a tawny white of Cameta; the
rest were Indians, except the cook, who was a Cafuzo, or half-
breed between the Indian and negro. It is often said that this
class of mestizos is the most evilly-disposed of all the numerous
crosses between the races inhabiting Brazil; but Luiz was a
simple, good-hearted fellow, always ready to do one a service.
The pilot was an old Tapuyo of Para, with regular oval face and
well-shaped features. I was astonished at his endurance. He never
quitted the helm night or day, except for two or three hours in
the morning. The other Indians used to bring him his coffee and
meals, and after breakfast one of them relieved him for a time,
when he used to lie down on the quarterdeck and get his two hours
nap. The Indians forward had things pretty much their own way. No
system of watches was followed; when any one was so disposed, he
lay down on the deck and went to sleep; but a feeling of good
fellowship seemed always to exist amongst them. One of them was a
fine specimen of the Indian race-- a man just short of six feet
high, with remarkable breadth of shoulder and full muscular
chest. His comrades called him the commandant, on account of his
having been one of the rebel leaders when the Indians and others
took Santarem in 1835. They related of him that, when the legal
authorities arrived with an armed flotilla to recapture the town,
he was one of the last to quit, remaining in the little fortress
which commands the place to make a show of loading the guns,
although the ammunition had given out long ago. Such were our
travelling companions. We lived almost the same as on board ship.
Our meals were cooked in the galley; but, where practicable, and
during our numerous stoppages, the men went in the montaria to
fish near the shore, so that our breakfasts and dinners of salt
pirarucu were sometimes varied with fresh food.

September 24th--We passed Entre-as-Ilhas with the morning tide
yesterday, and then made across to the eastern shore--the
starting-point for all canoes which have to traverse the broad
mouth of the Tocantins going west. Early this morning we
commenced the passage. The navigation is attended with danger on
account of the extensive shoals in the middle of the river, which
are covered only by a small depth of water at this season of the
year. The wind was fresh, and the schooner rolled and pitched
like a ship at sea. The distance was about fifteen miles. In the
middle, the river-view was very imposing. Towards the northeast
there was a long sweep of horizon clear of land, and on the
southwest stretched a similar boundless expanse, but varied with
islets clothed with fan-leaved palms, which, however, were
visible only as isolated groups of columns, tufted at the top,
rising here and there amidst the waste of waters. In the
afternoon we rounded the westernmost point; the land, which is
not terra firma, but simply a group of large islands forming a
portion of the Tocantins delta, was then about three miles

On the following day (25th) we sailed towards the west, along the
upper portion of the Para estuary, which extends seventy miles
beyond the mouth of the Tocantins. It varies in width from three
to five miles, but broadens rapidly near its termination, where
it is eight or nine miles wide. The northern shore is formed by
the island of Marajo, and is slightly elevated and rocky in some
parts. A series of islands conceals the southern shore from view
most of the way. The whole country, mainland and islands, is
covered with forest. We had a good wind all day, and about 7 p.m.
entered the narrow river of Breves, which commences abruptly the
extensive labyrinth of channels that connects the Para with the
Amazons. The sudden termination of the Para at a point where it
expands to so great a breadth is remarkable; the water, however,
is very shallow over the greater portion of the expanse. I
noticed both on this and on the three subsequent occasions of
passing this place in ascending and descending the river, that
the flow of the tide from the east along the estuary, as well as
up the Breves, was very strong. This seems sufficient to prove
that no considerable volume of water passes by this medium from
the Amazons to the Para, and that the opinion of those
geographers is an incorrect one, who believe the Para to be one
of the mouths of the great river. There is, however, another
channel connecting the two rivers, which enters the Para six
miles to the south of the Breves. The lower part of its course
for eighteen miles is formed by the Uanapu, a large and
independent river flowing from the south. The tidal flow is said
by the natives to produce little or no current up this river--a
fact which seems to afford a little support to the view just

We passed the village of Breves at 3 p.m. on the 26th. It
consists of about forty houses, most of which are occupied by
Portuguese shopkeepers. A few Indian families reside here, who
occupy themselves with the manufacture of ornamental pottery and
painted cuyas, which they sell to traders or passing travellers.
The cuyas--drinking-cups made from gourds--are sometimes very
tastefully painted. The rich black ground colour is produced by a
dye made from the bark of a tree called Comateu, the gummy nature
of which imparts a fine polish. The yellow tints are made with
the Tabatinga clay; the red with the seeds of the Urucu, or
anatto plant; and the blue with indigo, which is planted round
the huts. The art is indigenous with the Amazonian Indians, but
it is only the settled agricultural tribes belonging to the Tupi
stock who practise it.

September 27th-30th.--After passing Breves, we continued our way
slowly along a channel, or series of channels, of variable width.
On the morning of the 27th we had a fair wind, the breadth of the
stream varying from about 150 to 400 yards. About midday we
passed, on the western side, the mouth of the Aturiazal, through
which, on account of its swifter current, vessels pass in
descending from the Amazons to Para. Shortly afterwards we
entered the narrow channel of the Jaburu, which lies twenty miles
above the mouth of the Breves. Here commences the peculiar
scenery of this remarkable region. We found ourselves in a narrow
and nearly straight canal, not more than eighty to a hundred
yards in width, and hemmed in by two walls of forest, which rose
quite perpendicularly from the water to a height of seventy or
eighty feet. The water was of great and uniform depth, even close
to the banks. We seemed to be in a deep gorge, and the strange
impression the place produced was augmented by the dull echoes
wakened by the voices of our Indians and the splash of their
paddles. The forest was excessively varied. Some of the trees,
the dome-topped giants of the Leguminous and Bombaceous orders,
reared their heads far above the average height of the green
walls. The fan-leaved Miriti palm was scattered in some numbers
amidst the rest, a few solitary specimens shooting up their
smooth columns above the other trees. The graceful Assai palm
grew in little groups, forming feathery pictures set in the
rounder foliage of the mass. The Ubussu, lower in height, showed
only its shuttlecock shaped crowns of huge undivided fronds,
which, being of a vivid pale-green, contrasted forcibly against
the sombre hues of the surrounding foliage. The Ubussu grew here
in great numbers; the equally remarkable Jupati palm (Rhaphia
taedigera), which, like the Ubussu, is peculiar to this district,
occurred more sparsely, throwing its long shaggy leaves, forty to
fifty feet in length, in broad arches over the canal. An infinite
diversity of smaller-sized palms decorated the water's edge, such
as the Maraja-i (Bactris, many species), the Ubim (Geonoma), and
a few stately Bacabas (Oenocarpus Bacaba). The shape of this last
is exceedingly elegant, the size of the crown being in proper
proportion to the straight smooth stem. The leaves, down even to
the bases of the glossy petioles, are of a rich dark-green
colour, and free from spines.

"The forest wall"--I am extracting from my journal-"under which
we are now moving, consists, besides palms, of a great variety of
ordinary forest trees. From the highest branches of these down to
the water sweep ribbons of climbing plants of the most diverse
and ornamental foliage possible. Creeping convolvuli and others
have made use of the slender lianas and hanging air roots as
ladders to climb by. Now and then appears a Mimosa or other tree
having similar fine pinnate foliage, and thick masses of Inga
border the water, from whose branches hang long bean-pods, of
different shape and size according to the species, some of them a
yard in length. Flowers there are very few. I see, now and then,
a gorgeous crimson blossom on long spikes ornamenting the sombre
foliage towards the summits of the forest. I suppose it to belong
to a climber of the Combretaceous order. There are also a few
yellow and violet Trumpet-flowers (Bignoniae). The blossoms of
the Ingas, although not conspicuous, are delicately beautiful.
The forest all along offers so dense a front that one never
obtains a glimpse into the interior of the wilderness."

The length of the Jaburu channel is about thirty-five miles,
allowing for the numerous abrupt bends which occur between the
middle and the northern end of its course. We were three days and
a half accomplishing the passage. The banks on each side seemed
to be composed of hard river-mud with a thick covering of
vegetable mold, so that I should imagine this whole district
originated in a gradual accumulation of alluvium, through which
the endless labyrinths of channels have worked their deep and
narrow beds. The flood-tide as we travelled northward became
gradually of less assistance to us, as it caused only a feeble
current upwards. The pressure of the waters from the Amazons here
makes itself felt; as this is not the case lower down, I suppose
the currents are diverted through some of the numerous channels
which we passed on our right, and which traverse, in their course
towards the sea, the northwestern part of Marajo. In the evening
of the 29th we arrived at a point where another channel joins the
Jaburu from the northeast. Up this the tide was flowing; we
turned westward, and thus met the flood coming from the Amazons.
This point is the object of a strange superstitious observance on
the part of the canoemen. It is said to be haunted by a Paje, or
Indian wizard, whom it is necessary to propitiate by depositing
some article on the spot, if the voyager wishes to secure a safe
return from the "sertao," as the interior of the country is
called. The trees were all hung with rags, shirts, straw hats,
bunches of fruit, and so forth. Although the superstition
doubtless originated with the aborigines, I observed in both my
voyages, that it was only the Portuguese and uneducated
Brazilians who deposited anything. The pure Indians gave nothing,
and treated the whole affair as a humbug; but they were all
civilised Tapuyos.

On the 30th, at 9 p.m., we reached a broad channel called Macaco,
and now left the dark, echoing Jaburu. The Macaco sends off
branches towards the northwest coast of Marajo. It is merely a
passage amongst a cluster of islands, between which a glimpse is
occasionally obtained of the broad waters of the main Amazons. A
brisk wind carried us rapidly past its monotonous scenery, and
early in the morning of the 1st of October we reached the
entrance of the Uituquara, or the Wind-hole, which is fifteen
miles distant from the end of the Jaburu. This is also a winding
channel, thirty-five miles in length, threading a group of
islands, but it is much narrower than the Macaco.

On emerging from the Uituquara on the 2nd, we all went ashore--
the men to fish in a small creek; Joao da Cunha and I to shoot
birds. We saw a flock of scarlet and blue macaws (Macrocercus
Macao) feeding on the fruits of a Bacaba palm, and looking like a
cluster of flaunting banners beneath its dark-green crown. We
landed about fifty yards from the place, and crept cautiously
through the forest, but before we reached them they flew off with
loud harsh screams. At a wild fruit tree we were more successful,
as my companion shot an anaca (Derotypus coronatus), one of the
most beautiful of the parrot family. It is of a green colour, and
has a hood of feathers, red bordered with blue, at the back of
its head, which it can elevate or depress at pleasure. The anaca
is the only new-world parrot which nearly resembles the cockatoo
of Australia. It is found in all the lowlands throughout the
Amazons region, but is not a common bird anywhere. Few persons
succeed in taming it, and I never saw one that had been taught to
speak. The natives are very fond of the bird nevertheless, and
keep it in their houses for the sake of seeing the irascible
creature expand its beautiful frill of feathers, which it readily
does when excited.

The men returned with a large quantity of fish. I was surprised
at the great variety of species; the prevailing kind was a
species of Loricaria, a foot in length, and wholly encased in
bony armour. It abounds at certain seasons in shallow water. The
flesh is dry, but very palatable. They brought also a small
alligator, which they called Jacare curua, and said it was a kind
found only in shallow creeks. It was not more than two feet in
length, although full-grown according to the statement of the
Indians, who said it was a "mai d'ovos," or mother of eggs, as
they had pillaged the nest, which they had found near the edge of
the water. The eggs were rather larger than a hen's, and
regularly oval in shape, presenting a rough hard surface of
shell. Unfortunately, the alligator was cut up ready for cooking
when we returned to the schooner, and I could not therefore make
a note of its peculiarities. The pieces were skewered and roasted
over the fire, each man being his own cook. I never saw this
species of alligator afterwards.

October 3rd--About midnight the wind, for which we had long been
waiting, sprang up; the men weighed anchor, and we were soon
fairly embarked on the Amazons. I rose long before sunrise to see
the great river by moonlight. There was a spanking breeze, and
the vessel was bounding gaily over the waters. The channel along
which we were sailing was only a narrow arm of the river, about
two miles in width: the total breadth at this point is more than
twenty miles, but the stream is divided into three parts by a
series of large islands. The river, notwithstanding this
limitation of its breadth, had a most majestic appearance. It did
not present that lake-like aspect which the waters of the Para
and Tocantins affect, but had all the swing, so to speak, of a
vast flowing stream. The ochre-coloured turbid waters offered
also a great contrast to the rivers belonging to the Para system.
The channel formed a splendid reach, sweeping from southwest to
northeast, with a horizon of water and sky both upstream and
down. At 11 a.m. we arrived at Gurupa, a small village situated
on a rocky bank thirty or forty feet high. Here we landed, and I
had an opportunity of rambling in the neighbouring woods, which
are intersected by numerous pathways, and carpeted with Lycopodia
growing to a height of eight or ten inches, and enlivened by
numbers of glossy blue butterflies of the Theclidae or hairstreak
family. At 5 p.m. we were again under way. Soon after sunset, as
we were crossing the mouth of the Xingu, the first of the great
tributaries of the Amazons, 1200 miles in length, a black cloud
arose suddenly in the northeast. Joao da Cunha ordered all sails
to be taken in, and immediately afterwards a furious squall burst
forth, tearing the waters into foam, and producing a frightful
uproar in the neighbouring forests. A drenching rain followed,
but in half an hour all was again calm and the full moon appeared
sailing in a cloudless sky.

From the mouth of the Xingu the route followed by vessels leads
straight across the river, here ten miles broad. Towards midnight
the wind failed us, when we were close to a large shoal called
the Baixo Grande. We lay here becalmed in the sickening heat for
two days, and when the trade-wind recommenced with the rising
moon at 10 p.m. on the 6th, we found ourselves on a ice-shore.
Notwithstanding all the efforts of our pilot to avoid it, we ran
aground. Fortunately the bottom consisted only of soft mud, so
that by casting anchor to windward, and hauling in with the whole
strength of crew and passengers, we got off after spending an
uncomfortable night. We rounded the point of the shoal in two
fathoms' water; the head of the vessel was then put westward, and
by sunrise we were bounding forward before a steady breeze, all
sail set and everybody in good humour.

The weather was now delightful for several days in succession,
the air transparently clear, and the breeze cool and
invigorating. At daylight, on the 6th, a chain of blue hills, the
Serra de Almeyrim, appeared in the distance on the north bank of
the river. The sight was most exhilarating after so long a
sojourn in a flat country. We kept to the southern shore, passing
in the course of the day the mouths of the Urucuricaya and the
Aquiqui, two channels which communicate with the Xingu. The whole
of this southern coast hence to near Santarem, a distance of 130
miles, is lowland and quite uninhabited. It is intersected by
short arms or back waters of the Amazons, which are called in the
Tupi language Paranamirims, or little rivers. By keeping to
these, small canoes can travel a great part of the distance
without being much exposed to the heavy seas of the main river.
The coast throughout has a most desolate aspect; the forest is
not so varied as on the higher land; and the water-frontage,
which is destitute of the green mantle of climbing plants that
form so rich a decoration in other parts, is encumbered at every
step with piles of fallen trees; and peopled by white egrets,
ghostly storks, and solitary herons.

In the evening we passed Almeyrim. The hills, according to Von
Martius, who landed here, are about 800 feet above the level of
the river, and are thickly wooded to the summit. They commence on
the east by a few low isolated and rounded elevations; but
towards the west of the village, they assume the appearance of
elongated ridges which seem as if they had been planed down to a
uniform height by some external force. The next day we passed in
succession a series of similar flat-topped hills, some isolated
and of a truncated-pyramidal shape, others prolonged to a length
of several miles. There is an interval of low country between
these and the Almeyrim range, which has a total length of about
twenty-five miles; then commences abruptly the Serra de
Marauaqua, which is succeeded in a similar way by the Velha Pobre
range, the Serras de Tapaiuna-quara, and Paraua-quara. All these
form a striking contrast to the Serra de Almeyrim in being quite
destitute of trees. They have steep rugged sides, apparently
clothed with short herbage, but here and there exposing bare
white patches. Their total length is about forty miles. In the
Tear, towards the interior, they are succeeded by other ranges of
hills communicating with the central mountain-chain of Guiana,
which divides Brazil from Cayenne.

As we sailed along the southern shore, during the 6th and two
following days, the table-topped hills on the opposite side
occupied most of our attention. The river is from four to five
miles broad, and in some places long, low wooded islands
intervene in mid-stream, whose light-green, vivid verdure formed
a strangely beautiful foreground to the glorious landscape of
broad stream and grey mountain. Ninety miles beyond Almeyrim
stands the village of Monte Alegre, which is built near the
summit of the last hill visible of this chain. At this point the
river bends a little towards the south, and the hilly country
recedes from its shores to reappear at Obydos, greatly decreased
in height, about a hundred miles further west.

We crossed the river three times between Monte Alegre and the
next town, Santarem. In the middle the waves ran very high, and
the vessel lurched fearfully, hurling everything that was not
well secured from one side of the deck to the other. On the
morning of the 9th of October, a gentle wind carried us along a
"remanso," or still water, under the southern shore. These tracts
of quiet water are frequent on the irregular sides of the stream,
and are the effect of counter movements caused by the rapid
current of its central parts. At 9 a.m. we passed the mouth of a
Parana-mirim, called Mahica, and then found a sudden change in
the colour of the water and aspect of the banks. Instead of the
low and swampy water-frontage which had prevailed from the mouth
of the Xingu, we saw before us a broad sloping beach of white
sand. The forest, instead of being an entangled mass of irregular
and rank vegetation as hitherto, presented a rounded outline, and
created an impresssion of repose that was very pleasing. We now
approached, in fact, the mouth of the Tapajos, whose clear olive-
green waters here replaced the muddy current against which we had
so long been sailing. Although this is a river of great extent--
1000 miles in length, and, for the last eighty miles of its
course, four to ten in breadth--its contribution to the Amazons
is not perceptible in the middle of the stream. The white turbid
current of the main river flows disdainfully by, occupying nearly
the whole breadth of the channel, while the darker water of its
tributary seems to creep along the shore, and is no longer
distinguishable four or five miles from its mouth.

We reached Santarem at 11 a.m. The town has a clean and cheerful
appearance from the river. It consists of three long streets,
with a few short ones crossing them at right angles, and contains
about 2500 inhabitants. It lies just within the mouth of Tapajos,
and is divided into two parts, the town and the aldeia or
village. The houses of the white and trading classes are
substantially built, many being of two and three stories, and all
white-washed and tiled. The aldeia, which contains the Indian
portion of the population, or did so formerly, consists mostly of
mud huts, thatched with palm leaves. The situation of the town is
very beautiful. The land, although but slightly elevated, does
not form, strictly speaking, a portion of the alluvial river
plains of the Amazons, but is rather a northern prolongation of
the Brazilian continental land. It is scantily wooded, and
towards the interior consists of undulating campos, which are
connected with a series of hills extending southward as far as
the eye can reach. I subsequently made this place my head-
quarters for three years; an account of its neighbourhood is
therefore, reserved for another chapter. At the first sight of
Santarem, one cannot help being struck with the advantages of its
situation. Although 400 miles from the sea, it is accessible to
vessels of heavy tonnage coming straight from the Atlantic. The
river has only two slight bends between this port and the sea,
and for five or six months in the year the Amazonian trade wind
blows with very little interruption, so that sailing ships coming
from foreign countries could reach the place with little
difficulty. We ourselves had accomplished 200 miles, or about
half the distance from the sea, in an ill-rigged vessel, in three
days and a half. Although the land in the immediate neighbourhood
is perhaps ill adapted for agriculture, an immense tract of rich
soil, with forest and meadowland, lies on the opposite banks of
the river, and the Tapajos leads into the heart of the mining
provinces of interior Brazil. But where is the population to come
from to develop the resources of this fine country? At present,
the district within a radius of twenty-five miles contains barely
6500 inhabitants; behind the town, towards the interior, the
country is uninhabited, and jaguars roam nightly, at least in the
rainy season, close up to the ends of the suburban streets.

From information obtained here, I fixed upon the next town,
Obydos, as the best place to stay for a few weeks, in order to
investigate the natural productions of the north side of the
Lower Amazons. We started at sunrise on the 10th, and being still
favoured by wind and weather, made a pleasant passage, reaching
Obydos, which is nearly fifty miles distant from Santarem, by
midnight. We sailed all day close to the southern shore, and
found the banks here and there dotted with houses of settlers,
each surrounded by its plantation of cacao, which is the staple
product of the district. This coast has an evil reputation for
storms and mosquitoes, but we fortunately escaped both. It was
remarkable that we had been troubled by mosquitoes only on one
night, and then to a small degree, during the whole of our

I landed at Obydos the next morning, and then bid adieu to my
kind friend Joao da Cunha, who, after landing my baggage, got up
his anchor and continued on his way. The town contains about 1200
inhabitants, and is airily situated on a high bluff, ninety or a
hundred feet above the level of the river. The coast is
precipitous for two or three miles hence to the west. The cliffs
consist of the parti-coloured clay, or Tabatinga, which occurs so
frequently throughout the Amazons region; the strong current of
the river sets full against them in the season of high water, and
annually carries away large portions. The clay in places is
stratified alternately pink and yellow, the pink beds being the
thickest and of much harder texture than the others.

When I descended the river in 1859, a German Major of Engineers,
in the employ of the Government, told me that he had found
calcareous layers, thickly studded with marine shells
interstratified with the clay. On the top of the Tabatinga lies a
bed of sand, in some places several feet thick, and the whole
formation rests on strata of sandstone, which are exposed only
when the river reaches its lowest level. Behind the town rises a
fine rounded hill, and a range of similar elevations extends six
miles westward, terminating at the mouth of the Trombetas, a
large river flowing through the interior of Guiana. Hills and
lowlands alike are covered with a sombre rolling forest. The
river here is contracted to a breadth of rather less than a mile
(1738 yards), and the entire volume of its waters, the collective
product of a score of mighty streams, is poured through the
strait with tremendous velocity. It must be remarked, however,
that the river valley itself is not contracted to this breadth,
the opposite shore not being continental land, but a low alluvial
tract, subject to inundation more or less in the rainy season.
Behind it lies an extensive lake, called the Lago Grande da Villa
Franca, which communicates with the Amazons, both above and below
Obydos, and has therefore, the appearance of a by-water or an old
channel of the river. This lake is about thirty-five miles in
length, and from four to ten in width; but its waters are of
little depth, and in the dry season its dimensions are much
lessened. It has no perceptible current, and does not therefore,
now divert any portion of the waters of the Amazons from their
main course past Obydos.

I remained at Obydos from the 11th of October to the 19th of
November. I spent three weeks here, also, in 1859, when the place
was much changed through the influx of Portuguese immigrants and
the building of a fortress on the top of the bluff. It is one of
the pleasantest towns on the river. The houses are all roofed
with tiles, and are mostly of substantial architecture. The
inhabitants, at least at the time of my first visit, were naive
in their ways, kind and sociable. Scarcely any palm-thatched huts
are to be seen, for very few Indians now reside here. It was one
of the early settlements of the Portuguese, and the better class
of the population consists of old-established white families, who
exhibit however, in some cases, traces of cross with the Indian
and negro. Obydos and Santarem have received, during the last
eighty years, considerable importations of negro slaves; before
that time, a cruel traffic was carried on in Indians for the same
purpose of forced servitude, but their numbers have gradually
dwindled away, and Indians now form an insignificant element in
the population of the district.

Most of the Obydos townsfolk are owners of cacao plantations,
which are situated on the low lands in the vicinity. Some are
large cattle proprietors, and possess estates of many square
leagues' extent in the campo, or grass-land districts, which
border the Lago Grande, and other similar inland lakes, near the
villages of Faro and Alemquer. These campos bear a crop of
nutritious grass; but in certain seasons, when the rising of the
Amazons exceeds the average, they are apt to be flooded, and then
the large herds of half wild cattle suffer great mortality from
drowning, hunger, and alligators. Neither in cattle-keeping nor
cacao-growing are any but the laziest and most primitive methods
followed, and the consequence is that the proprietors are
generally poor. A few, however, have become rich by applying a
moderate amount of industry and skill to the management of their
estates. People spoke of several heiresses in the neighbourhood
whose wealth was reckoned in oxen and slaves; a dozen slaves and
a few hundred head of cattle being considered a great fortune.
Some of them I saw had already been appropriated by enterprising
young men, who had come from Para and Maranham to seek their
fortunes in this quarter.

The few weeks I spent here passed away pleasantly. I generally
spent the evenings in the society of the townspeople, who
associated together (contrary to Brazilian custom) in European
fashion; the different families meeting at one another's houses
for social amusement, bachelor friends not being excluded, and
the whole company, married and single, joining in simple games.
The meetings used to take place in the sitting-rooms, and not in
the open verandas--a fashion almost compulsory on account of the
mosquitoes; but the evenings here are very cool, and the
closeness of a room is not so much felt as it is in Para. Sunday
was strictly observed at Obydos--at least all the shops were
closed, and almost the whole population went to church. The
Vicar, Padre Raimundo do Sanchez Brito, was an excellent old man,
and I fancy the friendly manners of the people, and the general
purity of morals at Obydos, were owing in great part to the good
example he set to his parishioners.

The forest at Obydos seemed to abound in monkeys, for I rarely
passed a day without seeing several. I noticed four species: the
Coaita (Ateles paniscus), the Chrysothrix sciureus, the
Callithrix torquatus, and our old Para friend, Midas ursulus. The
Coaita is a large black monkey, covered with coarse hair, and
having the prominent parts of the face of a tawny flesh-coloured
hue. It is the largest of the Amazonian monkeys in stature, but
is excelled in bulk by the "Barrigudo" (Lagothrix Humboldtii) of
the Upper Amazons. It occurs throughout the lowlands of the Lower
and Upper Amazons, but does not range to the south beyond the
limits of the river plains. At that point an allied species, the
White-whiskered Coaita (Ateles marginatus) takes its place. The
Coaitas are called by zoologists spider monkeys, on account of
the length and slenderness of their body and limbs. In these apes
the tail, as a prehensile organ, reaches its highest degree of
perfection; and on this account it would, perhaps, be correct to
consider the Coaitas as the extreme development of the American
type of apes. As far as we know, from living and fossil species,
the New World has progressed no farther than the Coaita towards
the production of a higher form of the Quadrumanous order. The
tendency of Nature here has been, to all appearance, simply to
perfect those organs which adapt the species more and more
completely to a purely arboreal life; and no nearer approach has
been made towards the more advanced forms of anthropoid apes,
which are the products of the Old World solely. The flesh of this
monkey is much esteemed by the natives in this part of the
country, and the Military Commandant of Obydos, Major Gama, every
week sent a negro hunter to shoot one for his table. One day I
went on a Coaita hunt, borrowing a negro slave of a friend to
show me the way. When in the deepest part of a ravine we heard a
rustling sound in the trees overheard, and Manoel soon pointed
out a Coaita to me. There was something human-like in its
appearance, as the lean, dark, shaggy creature moved deliberately
amongst the branches at a great height. I fired, but
unfortunately only wounded it in the belly. It fell with a crash
headlong about twenty or thirty feet, and then caught a bough
with its tail, which grasped it instantaneously, and then the
animal remained suspended in mid-air. Before I could reload, it
recovered itself and mounted nimbly to the topmost branches out
of the reach of a fowling-piece, where we could perceive the poor
thing apparently probing the wound with its fingers.

Coaitas are more frequently kept in a tame state than any other
kind of monkey. The Indians are very fond of them as pets, and
the women often suckle them when young at their breasts. They
become attached to their masters, and will sometimes follow them
on the ground to considerable distances. I once saw a most
ridiculously tame Coaita. It was an old female which accompanied
its owner, a trader on the river, in all his voyages. By way of
giving me a specimen of its intelligence and feeling, its master
set to and rated it soundly, calling it scamp, heathen, thief,
and so forth, all through the copious Portuguese vocabulary of
vituperation. The poor monkey, quietly seated on the ground,
seemed to be in sore trouble at this display of anger. It began
by looking earnestly at him, then it whined, and lastly rocked
its body to and fro with emotion, crying piteously, and passing
its long gaunt arms continually over its forehead; for this was
its habit when excited, and the front of the head was worn quite
bald in consequence. At length its master altered his tone. "It's
all a lie, my old woman; you're an angel, a flower, a good
affectionate old creature," and so forth. Immediately the poor
monkey ceased its wailing, and soon after came over to where the
man sat. The disposition of the Coaita is mild in the extreme--
it has none of the painful, restless vivacity of its kindred, the
Cebi, and no trace of the surly, untameable temper of its still
nearer relatives, the Mycetes, or howling monkeys. It is,
however, an arrant thief, and shows considerable cunning in
pilfering small articles of clothing, which it conceals in its
sleeping place. The natives of the Upper Amazons procure the
Coaita, when full grown, by shooting it with the blowpipe and
poisoned darts, and restoring life by putting a little salt (the
antidote to the Urari poison with which the darts are tipped) in
its mouth. The animals thus caught become tame forthwith. Two
females were once kept at the Jardin des Plantes of Paris, and
Geoffroy St. Hilaire relates of them that they rarely quitted
each other, remaining most of the time in close embrace, folding
their tails around one another's bodies. They took their meals
together; and it was remarked on such occasions, when the
friendship of animals is put to a hard test, that they never
quarrelled or disputed the possession of a favourite fruit with
each other.

The neighbourhood of Obydos was rich also in insects. In the
broad alleys of the forest a magnificent butterfly of the genus
Morpho, six to eight inches in expanse, the Morpho Hecuba, was
seen daily gliding along at a height of twenty feet or more from
the ground. Amongst the lower trees and bushes numerouskinds of
Heliconii, a group of butterflies peculiar to tropical America,
having long narrow wings, were very abundant. The prevailing
ground colour of the wings of these insects is a deep black, and
on this are depicted spots and streaks of crimson, white, and
bright yellow, in different patterns according to the species.
Their elegant shape, showy colours, and slow, sailing mode of
flight, make them very attractive objects, and their numbers are
so great that they form quite a feature in the physiognomy of the
forest, compensating for the scarcity of flowers.

Next to the Heliconii, the Catagrammas (C. astarte and C.
peristera) were the most conspicuous. These have a very rapid and
short flight, settling frequently and remaining stationary for a
long time on the trunks of trees. The colours of their wings are
vermilion and black, the surface having a rich velvety
appearance. The genus owes its Greek name Catagramma (signifying
"a letter beneath") to the curious markings of the underside of
the wings, resembling Arabic numerals. The species and varieties
are of almost endless diversity, but the majority inhabit the hot
valleys of the eastern parts of the Andes. Another butterfly
nearly allied to these, Callithea Leprieurii, was also very
abundant here at the marshy head of the pool before mentioned.
The wings are of a rich dark-blue colour, with a broad border of
silvery green. These two groups of Callithea and Catagramma are
found only in tropical America, chiefly near the equator, and are
certainly amongst the most beautiful productions of a region
where the animals and plants seem to have been fashioned in
nature's choicest moulds.

A great variety of other beautiful and curious insects adorned
these pleasant woods. Others were seen only in the sunshine in
open places. As the waters retreated from the beach, vast numbers
of sulphur-yellow and orange coloured butterflies congregated on
the moist sand. The greater portion of them belonged to the genus
Callidryas. They assembled in densely-packed masses, sometimes
two or three yards in circumference, their wings all held in an
upright position, so that the beach looked as though variegated
with beds of crocuses. These Callidryades seem to be migratory
insects, and have large powers of dissemination. During the last
two days of our voyage, the great numbers constantly passing over
the river attracted the attention of every one on board. They all
crossed in one direction, namely, from north to south, and the
processions were uninterrupted from an early hour in the morning
until sunset. All the individuals which resort to the margins of
sandy beaches are of the male sex. The females are much more
rare, and are seen only on the borders of the forest, wandering
from tree to tree, and depositing their eggs on low mimosas which
grow in the shade. The migrating hordes, as far as I could
ascertain, are composed only of males, and on this account I
believe their wanderings do not extend very far.

A strange kind of wood-cricket is found in this neighbourhood,
the males of which produce a very loud and not unmusical noise by
rubbing together the overlapping edges of their wing-cases. The
notes are certainly the loudest and most extraordinary that I
ever heard produced by an orthopterous insect. The natives call
it the Tanana, in allusion to its music, which is a sharp,
resonant stridulation resembling the syllables ta-na-na, ta-na-
na, succeeding each other with little intermission. It seems to
be rare in the neighbourhood. When the natives capture one, they
keep it in a wicker-work cage for the sake of hearing it sing. A
friend of mine kept one six days. It was lively only for two or
three, and then its loud note could be heard from one end of the
village to the other. When it died he gave me the specimen, the
only one I was able to procure. It is a member of the family
Locustidae, a group intermediate between the Cricket (Achetidae)
and the Grasshoppers (Acridiidae). The total length of the body
is two inches and a quarter; when the wings are closed the insect
has an inflated vesicular or bladder-like shape, owing to the
great convexity of the thin but firm parchmenty wing-cases, and
the colour is wholly pale-green. The instrument by which the
Tanana produces its music is curiously contrived out of the
ordinary nervures of the wing-cases. In each wing-case the inner
edge, near its origin, has a horny expansion or lobe; on one wing
(b) this lobe has sharp raised margins; on the other (a), the
strong nervure which traverses the lobe on the under side is
crossed by a number of fine sharp furrows like those of a file.
When the insect rapidly moves its wings, the file of the one lobe
is scraped sharply across the horny margin of the other, thus
producing the sounds; the parchmenty wing-cases and the hollow
drum-like space which they enclose assist in giving resonance to
the tones. The projecting portions of both wing-cases are
traversed by a similar strong nervure, but this is scored like a
file only in one of them, in the other remaining perfectly

Other species of the family to which the Tanana belongs have
similar stridulating organs, but in none are these so highly
developed as in this insect; they exist always in the males only,
the other sex having the edges of the wing-cases quite straight
and simple. The mode of producing the sounds and their object
have been investigated by several authors with regard to certain
European species. They are the call-notes of the males. In the
common field-cricket of Europe the male has been observed to
place itself, in the evening, at the entrance of its burrow, and
stridulate until a female approaches, when the louder notes are
succeeded by a more subdued tone, while the successful musician
caresses with his antennae the mate he has won. Anyone who will
take the trouble may observe a similar proceeding in the common
house-cricket. The nature and object of this insect music are
more uniform than the structure and situation of the instrument
by which it is produced. This differs in each of the three allied
families above mentioned. In the crickets the wing-cases are
symmetrical; both have straight edges and sharply-scored nervures
adapted to produce the stridulation. A distinct portion of their
edges is not, therefore, set apart for the elaboration of a
sound-producing instrument. In this family the wing-cases lie
flat on the back of the insect, and overlap each other for a
considerable portion of their extent. In the Locustidae the same
members have a sloping position on each side of the body, and do
not overlap, except to a small extent near their bases; it is out
of this small portion that the stridulating organ is contrived.
Greater resonance is given in most species by a thin transparent
plate, covered by a membrane, in the centre of the overlapping
lobes. In the Grasshoppers (Acridiidae) the wing-cases meet in a
straight suture, and the friction of portions of their edges is
no longer possible. But Nature exhibits the same fertility of
resource here as elsewhere; and in contriving other methods of
supplying the males with an instrument for the production of
call-notes indicates the great importance which she attaches to
this function. The music in the males of the Acridiidae is
produced by the scraping of the long hind thighs against the
horny nervures of the outer edges of the wing-cases; a drum-
shaped organ placed in a cavity near the insertion of the thighs
being adapted to give resonance to the tones.

I obtained very few birds at Obydos. There was no scarcity of
birds, but they were mostly common Cayenne species. In early
morning, the woods near my house were quite animated with their
songs--an unusual thing in this country. I heard here for the
first time the pleasing wild notes of the Carashue, a species of
thrush, probably the Mimus lividus of ornithologists. I found it
afterwards to be a common bird in the scattered woods of the
campo district near Santarem. It is a much smaller and plainer-
coloured bird than our thrush, and its song is not so loud,
varied, or so long sustained; but the tone is of a sweet and
plaintive quality, which harmonises well with the wild and silent
woodlands, where alone it is heard in the mornings and evenings
of sultry tropical days. In course of time the song of this
humble thrush stirred up pleasing associations in my mind, in the
same way as those of its more highly endowed sisters formerly did
at home. There are several allied species in Brazil; in the
southern provinces they are called Sabiahs. The Brazilians are
not insensible to the charms of this their best songster, for I
often heard some pretty verses in praise of the Sabiah sung by
young people to the accompaniment of the guitar.

I found several times the nest of the Carashue, which is built of
dried grass and slender twigs, and lined with mud; the eggs are
coloured and spotted like those of our blackbird, but they are
considerably smaller. I was much pleased with a brilliant little
red-headed mannikin, which I shot here (Pipra cornuta). There
were three males seated on a low branch, and hopping slowly
backwards and forwards, near to one another, as though engaged in
a kind of dance. In the pleasant airy woods surrounding the sandy
shores of the pool behind the town, the yellow-bellied Trogon (T.
viridis) was very common. Its back is of a brilliant metallic-
green colour, and the breast steel blue. The natives call it the
Suruqua do Ygapo, or Trogon of the flooded lands, in
contradistinction to the red-breasted species, which are named
Surtiquas da terra firma. I often saw small companies of half a
dozen individuals quietly seated on the lower branches of trees.
They remained almost motionless for an hour or two at a time,
simply moving their heads, on the watch for passing insects; or,
as seemed more generally to be the case, scanning the

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