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The Naturalist on the River Amazons by Henry Walter Bates

Part 4 out of 9

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neighbouring trees for fruit, which they darted off now and then,
at long intervals to secure, returning always to the same perch.



Departure from Obydos--River Banks and By-channels--Cacao
Planters--Daily Life on Board Our Vessel--Great Storm--Sand-
Island and Its Birds--Hill of Parentins--Negro Trader and Mauhes
Indians--Villa Nova: Its Inhabitants, Forest, and Animal
Productions--Cararaucu--A rustic Festival--Lake of Cararaucu--
Motuca--Flies--Serpa--Christmas Holidays--River Madeira--A
Mameluco Farmer--Mura Indians--Rio Negro--Description of Barra--
Descent to Para--Yellow Fever

A Trader of Obydos, named Penna, was proceeding about in a
cuberta laden with merchandise to the Rio Negro, intending to
stop frequently on the road, so I bargained with him for a
passage. He gave up a part of the toldo, or fore-cabin as it may
be called, and here I slung my hammock and arranged my boxes so
as to be able to work as we went along. The stoppages I thought
would be an advantage, as I could collect in the woods whilst he
traded, and thus acquire a knowledge of the productions of many
places on the river which on a direct voyage would be impossible
to do. I provided a stock of groceries for two months'
consumption; and, after the usual amount of unnecessary fuss and
delay on the part of the owner, we started on the 19th of
November. Penna took his family with him-- this comprised a
smart, lively mameluco woman, named Catarina, whom we called
Senora Katita, and two children. The crew consisted of three men:
one a sturdy Indian, another a Cafuzo, godson of Penna, and the
third, our best hand, a steady, good-natured mulatto, named
Joaquim. My boy Luco was to assist in rowing and so forth. Penna
was a timid middle-aged man, a white with a slight cross of
Indian; when he was surly and obstinate, he used to ask me to
excuse him on account of the Tapuyo blood in his veins. He tried
to make me as comfortable as the circumstances admitted, and
provided a large stock of eatables and drinkables; so that
altogether the voyage promised to be a pleasant one.

On leaving the port of Obydos, we crossed over to the right bank
and sailed with a light wind all day, passing numerous houses,
each surrounded by its grove of cacao trees. On the 20th we made
slow progress. After passing the high land at the mouth of the
Trombetas, the banks were low, clayey, or earthy on both sides.
The breadth of the river varies hereabout from two and a half to
three miles, but neither coast is the true terra firma. On the
northern side a by-channel runs for a long distance inland,
communicating with the extensive lake of Faro; on the south,
three channels lead to the similar fresh-water sea of Villa
Franca; these are in part arms of the river, so that the land
they surround consists, properly speaking, of islands. When this
description of land is not formed wholly of river deposit, as
sometimes happens, or is raised above the level of the highest
floods, it is called Ygapo alto, and is distinguished by the
natives from the true islands of mid-river, as well as from the
terra firma. We landed at one of the cacao plantations. The house
was substantially built; the walls formed of strong upright
posts, lathed across, plastered with mud and whitewashed, and the
roof tiled. The family were mamelucos, and seemed to be an
average sample of the poorer class of cacao growers. All were
loosely dressed and bare-footed. A broad verandah extended along
one side of the house, the floor of which was simply the well-
trodden earth; and here hammocks were slung between the bare
upright supports, a large rush mat being spread on the ground,
upon which the stout matron-like mistress, with a tame parrot
perched upon her shoulder, sat sewing with two pretty little
mulatto girls. The master, coolly clad in shirt and drawers, the
former loose about the neck, lay in his hammock smoking a long
gaudily-painted wooden pipe. The household utensils, earthenware
jars, water-pots and saucepans lay at one end, near which was a
wood fire, with the ever-ready coffee-pot simmering on the top of
a clay tripod. A large shed stood a short distance off, embowered
in a grove of banana, papaw, and mango trees; and under it were
the ovens, troughs, sieves, and all other apparatus for the
preparation of mandioca. The cleared space around the house was
only a few yards in extent; beyond it lay the cacao plantations,
which stretched on each side parallel to the banks of the river.
There was a path through the forest which led to the mandioca
fields, and several miles beyond to other houses on the banks of
an interior channel. We were kindly received, as is always the
case when a stranger visits these out-of-the-way habitations--
the people being invariably civil and hospitable. We had a long
chat, took coffee, and upon departing, one of the daughters sent
a basket full of oranges for our use down to the canoe.

The cost of a cacao plantation in the Obydos district is after
the rate of 240 reis or sixpence per tree, which is much higher
than at Cameta, where I believe the yield is not so great. The
forest here is cleared before planting, and the trees are grown
in rows. The smaller cultivators are all very poor. Labour is
scarce; one family generally manages its own small plantation of
10,000 to 15,000 trees, but at the harvest time neighbours assist
each other. It appeared to me to be an easy, pleasant life; the
work is all done under shade, and occupies only a few weeks in
the year. The incorrigible nonchalance and laziness of the people
alone prevent them from surrounding themselves with all the
luxuries of a tropical country. They might plant orchards of the
choicest fruit trees around their houses, grow Indian corn, and
rear cattle and hogs, as intelligent settlers from Europe would
certainly do, instead of indolently relying solely on the produce
of their small plantations, and living on a meagre diet of fish
and farinha. In preparing the cacao they have not devised any
means of separating the seeds well from the pulp, or drying it in
a systematic way; the consequence is that, although naturally of
good quality, it molds before reaching the merchants' stores, and
does not fetch more than half the price of the same article grown
in other parts of tropical America. The Amazons region is the
original home of the principal species of chocolate tree, the
Theobroma cacao; and it grows in abundance in the forests of the
upper river. The cultivated crop appears to be a precarious one;
little or no care, however, is bestowed on the trees, and even
weeding is done very inefficiently. The plantations are generally
old, and have been made on the low ground near the river, which
renders them liable to inundation when this rises a few inches
more than the average. There is plenty of higher land quite
suitable to the tree, but it is uncleared, and the want of labour
and enterprise prevents the establishment of new plantations.

We passed the last houses in the Obydos district on the 20th, and
the river scenery then resumed its usual wild and solitary
character, which the scattered human habitations relieved,
although in a small degree. We soon fell into a regular mode of
life on board our little ark. Penna would not travel by night;
indeed, our small crew, wearied by the day's labour, required
rest, and we very rarely had wind in the night. We used to moor
the vessel to a tree, giving out plenty of cable, so as to sleep
at a distance from the banks and free of mosquitoes, which
although swarming in the forest, rarely came many yards out into
the river at this season of the year. The strong current at a
distance of thirty or forty yards from the coast steadied the
cuberta head to stream, and kept us from drifting ashore. We all
slept in the open air, as the heat of the cabins was stifling in
the early part of the night. Penna, Senhora Katita, and I slung
our hammocks in triangle between the mainmast and two stout poles
fixed in the raised deck. A sheet was the only covering required,
besides our regular clothing, for the decrease of temperature at
night on the Amazons is never so great as to be felt otherwise
than as a delightful coolness after the sweltering heat of the

We used to rise when the first gleam of dawn showed itself above
the long, dark line of forest. Our clothes and hammocks were then
generally soaked with dew, but this was not felt to be an
inconvenience. The Indian Manoel used to revive himself by a
plunge in the river, under the bows of the vessel. It is the
habit of all Indians, male and female, to bathe early in the
morning; they do it sometimes for warmth's sake, the temperature
of the water being often considerably higher than that of the
air. Penna and I lolled in our hammocks, while Katita prepared
the indispensable cup of strong coffee, which she did with
wonderful celerity, smoking meanwhile her early morning pipe of
tobacco. Liberal owners of river craft allow a cup of coffee
sweetened with molasses, or a ration of cashaca, to each man of
their crews; Penna gave them coffee. When all were served, the
day's work began. There was seldom any wind at this early hour,
so if there was still water along the shore, the men rowed, if
not, there was no way of progressing but by espia.

In some places the currents ran with great force close to the
banks, especially where these receded to form long bays or
enseadas, as they are called, and then we made very little
headway. In such places the banks consist of loose earth, a rich
crumbly vegetable mold supporting a growth of most luxuriant
forest, of which the currents almost daily carry away large
portions, so that the stream for several yards out is encumbered
with fallen trees whose branches quiver in the current. When
projecting points of land were encountered, it was impossible,
with our weak crew, to pull the cuberta against the whirling
torrents which set round them; and in such cases we had to cross
the river, drifting often with the current, a mile or two lower
down on the opposite shore. There generally sprung a light wind
as the day advanced, and then we took down our hammocks, hoisted
all sail, and bowled away merrily. Penna generally preferred to
cook the dinner ashore, when there was little or no wind. About
midday on these calm days, we used to look out for a nice shady
nook in the forest with cleared space sufficient to make a fire
upon. I then had an hour's hunting in the neighbouring
wilderness, and was always rewarded by the discovery of some new
species. During the greater part of our voyage, however, we
stopped at the house of some settler, and made our fire in the
port. Just before dinner it was our habit to take a bath in the
river, and then, according to the universal custom on the
Amazons, where it seems to be suitable on account of the weak
fish diet, we each took half a tea-cup full of neat cashaca, the
"abre" or " opening," as it is called, and set to on our mess of
stewed pirarucu, beans, and bacon. Once or twice a week we had
fowls and rice; at supper, after sunset, we often had fresh fish
caught by our men in the evening. The mornings were cool and
pleasant until towards midday; but in the afternoons, the heat
became almost intolerable, especially in gleamy, squally weather,
such as generally prevailed. We then crouched in the shade of the
sails, or went down to our hammocks in the cabin, choosing to be
half stifled rather than expose ourselves on deck to the
sickening heat of the sun.

We generally ceased travelling about nine o'clock, fixing upon a
safe spot wherein to secure the vessel for the night. The cool
evening hours were delicious; flocks of whistling ducks (Anas
autumnalis), parrots, and hoarsely-screaming macaws, pair by
pair, flew over from their feeding to their resting places, as
the glowing sun plunged abruptly beneath the horizon. The brief
evening chorus of animals then began, the chief performers being
the howling monkeys, whose frightful unearthly roar deepened the
feeling of solitude which crept up as darkness closed around us.
Soon after, the fireflies in great diversity of species came
forth and flitted about the trees. As night advanced, all became
silent in the forest, save the occasional hooting of tree-frogs,
or the monotonous chirping of wood-crickets and grasshoppers.

We made but little progress on the 20th and two following days,
on account of the unsteadiness of the wind. The dry season had
been of very brief duration this year; it generally lasts in this
part of the Amazons from July to January, with a short interval
of showery weather in November. The river ought to sink thirty or
thirty-five feet below its highest point; this year it had
declined only about twenty-five feet, and the November rains
threatened to be continuous. The drier the weather the stronger
blows the east wind; it now failed us altogether, or blew gently
for a few hours merely in the afternoons. I had hitherto seen the
great river only in its sunniest aspect; I was now about to
witness what it could furnish in the way of storms.

On the night of the 22nd the moon appeared with a misty halo. As
we went to rest, a fresh watery wind was blowing, and a dark pile
of clouds gathered up river in a direction opposite to that of
the wind. I thought this betokened nothing more than a heavy rain
which would send us all in a hurry to our cabins. The men moored
the vessel to a tree alongside a hard clayey bank, and after
supper, all were soon fast asleep, scattered about the raised
deck. About eleven o'clock I was awakened by a horrible uproar,
as a hurricane of wind suddenly swept over from the opposite
shore. The cuberta was hurled with force against the clayey bank;
Penna shouted out, as he started to his legs, that a trovoada de
cima, or a squall from up-river, was upon us. We took down our
hammocks, and then all hands were required to save the vessel
from being dashed to pieces. The moon set, and a black pall of
clouds spread itself over the dark forests and river; a frightful
crack of thunder now burst over our heads, and down fell the
drenching rain. Joaquim leapt ashore through the drowning spray
with a strong pole, and tried to pass the cuberta round a small
projecting point, while we on deck aided in keeping her off and
lengthened the cable. We succeeded in getting free, and the
stout-built boat fell off into the strong current farther away
from the shore, Joaquim swinging himself dexterously aboard by
the bowsprit as it passed the point. It was fortunate for us that
he happened to be on a sloping clayey bank where there was no
fear of falling trees; a few yards farther on, where the shore
was perpendicular and formed of crumbly earth, large portions of
loose soil, with all their superincumbent mass of forest, were
being washed away; the uproar thus occasioned adding to the
horrors of the storm.

The violence of the wind abated in the course of an hour, but the
deluge of rain continued until about three o'clock in the
morning; the sky was lighted up by almost incessant flashes of
pallid lightning, and the thunder pealing from side to side
without interruption. Our clothing, hammocks, and goods were
thoroughly soaked by the streams of water which trickled through
between the planks. In the morning all was quiet, but an opaque,
leaden mass of clouds overspread the sky, throwing a gloom over
the wild landscape that had a most dispiriting effect. These
squalls from the west are always expected about the time of the
breaking up of the dry season in these central parts of the Lower
Amazons. They generally take place about the beginning of
February, so that this year they had commenced much earlier than
usual. The soil and climate are much drier in this part of the
country than in the region lying farther to the west, where the
denser forests and more clayey, humid soil produce a considerably
cooler atmosphere. The storms may be, therefore, attributed to
the rush of cold moist air from up river, when the regular trade-
wind coming from the sea has slackened or ceased to blow.

On the 26th we arrived at a large sand bank connected with an
island in mid-river, in front of an inlet called Maraca-uassu.
Here we anchored and spent half a day ashore. Penna's object in
stopping was simply to enjoy a ramble on the sands with the
children, and give Senora Katita an opportunity to wash the
linen. The sandbank was now fast going under water with the rise
of the river; in the middle of the dry season it is about a mile
long and half a mile in width. The canoe-men delight in these
open spaces, which are a great relief to the monotony of the
forest that clothes the land in every other part of the river.
Farther westward they are much more frequent, and of larger
extent. They lie generally at the upper end of islands; in fact,
the latter originate in accretions of vegetable matter formed by
plants and trees growing on a shoal. The island was wooded
chiefly with the trumpet tree (Cecropia peltata), which has a
hollow stem and smooth pale bark. The leaves are similar in shape
to those of the horse-chestnut, but immensely larger; beneath
they are white, and when the welcome trade-wind blows they show
their silvery undersides--a pleasant signal to the weary canoe
traveller. The mode of growth of this tree is curious: the
branches are emitted at nearly right angles with the stem, the
branchlets in minor whorls around these, and so forth, the leaves
growing at their extremities, so that the total appearance is
that of a huge candelabrum. Cecropiae of different species are
characteristic of Brazilian forest scenery; the kind of which I
am speaking grows in great numbers everywhere on the banks of the
Amazons where the land is low. In the same places the curious
Monguba tree (Bombax ceiba) is also plentiful; the dark green
bark of its huge tapering trunk, scored with grey, forming a
conspicuous object. The principal palm tree on the lowlands is
the Jauari (Astrvocaryum Jauari), whose stem, surrounded by
whorls of spines, shoots up to a great height. On the borders of
the island were large tracts of arrow-grass (Gynerium
saccharoides), which bears elegant plumes of flowers, like those
of the reed, and grows to a height of twenty feet, the leaves
arranged in a fan-shaped figure near the middle of the stem. I
was surprised to find on the higher parts of the sandbank the
familiar foliage of a willow (Salix Humboldtiana). It is a dwarf
species, and grows in patches resembling beds of osiers; as in
the English willows, the leaves were peopled by small
chrysomelideous beetles.

In wandering about, many features reminded me of the seashore.
Flocks of white gulls were flying overhead, uttering their well-
known cry, and sandpipers coursed along the edge of the water.
Here and there lonely wading-birds were stalking about; one of
these, the Curiaca (Ibis melanopis), flew up with a low cackling
noise, and was soon joined by a unicorn bird (Palamedea cornuta),
which I startled up from amidst the bushes, whose harsh screams,
resembling the bray of a jackass, but shriller, disturbed
unpleasantly the solitude of the place. Amongst the willow bushes
were flocks of a handsome bird belonging to the Icteridae or
troupial family, adorned with a rich plumage of black and
saffron-yellow. I spent some time watching an assemblage of a
species of bird called by the natives Tumburi-para, on the
Cecropia trees. It is the Monasa nigrifrons of ornithologists,
and has a plain slate-coloured plumage with the beak of an orange
hue. It belongs to the family of Barbets, most of whose members
are remarkable for their dull, inactive temperament. Those
species which are arranged by ornithologists under the genus
Bucco are called by the Indians, in the Tupi language, Tai-assu
uira, or pig-birds. They remain seated sometimes for hours
together on low branches in the shade, and are stimulated to
exertion only when attracted by passing insects. This flock of
Tamburi-para were the reverse of dull; they were gambolling and
chasing each other amongst the branches. As they sported about,
each emitted a few short tuneful notes, which altogether produced
a ringing, musical chorus that quite surprised me.

On the 27th we reached an elevated wooded promontory, called
Parentins, which now forms the boundary between the provinces of
Para and the Amazons. Here we met a small canoe descending to
Santarem. The owner was a free negro named Lima, who, with his
wife, was going down the river to exchange his year's crop of
tobacco for European merchandise. The long shallow canoe was
laden nearly to the water level. He resided on the banks of the
Abacaxi, a river which discharges its waters into the Canoma, a
broad interior channel which extends from the river Madeira to
the Parentins, a distance of 180 miles. Penna offered him
advantageous terms, so a bargain was struck, and the man saved
his long journey. The negro seemed a frank, straightforward
fellow; he was a native of Pernambuco, but had settled many years
ago in this part of the country. He had with him a little Indian
girl belonging to the Mauhes tribe, whose native seat is the
district of country lying in the rear of the Canoma, between the
Madeira and the Tapajos. The Mauhes are considered, I think with
truth, to be a branch of the great Mundurucu nation, having
segregated from them at a remote period, and by long isolation
acquired different customs and a totally different language, in a
manner which seems to have been general with the Brazilian
aborigines. The Mundurucus seem to have retained more of the
general characteristics of the original Tupi stock than the
Mauhes. Senor Lima told me, what I afterwards found to be
correct, that there were scarcely two words alike in the
languages of the two peoples, although there are words closely
allied to Tupi in both.

The little girl had not the slightest trace of the savage in her
appearance. Her features were finely shaped, the cheekbones not
at all prominent, the lips thin, and the expression of her
countenance frank and smiling. She had been brought only a few
weeks previously from a remote settlement of her tribe on the
banks of the Abacaxi, and did not yet know five words of
Portuguese. The Indians, as a general rule, are very manageable
when they are young, but it is a general complaint that when they
reach the age of puberty they become restless and discontented.
The rooted impatience of all restraint then shows itself, and the
kindest treatment will not prevent them running away from their
masters; they do not return to the malocas of their tribes, but
join parties who go out to collect the produce of the forests and
rivers, and lead a wandering semi-savage kind of life.

We remained under the Serra dos Parentins all night. Early the
next morning a light mist hung about the tree-tops, and the
forest resounded with the yelping of Whaiapu-sai monkeys. I went
ashore with my gun and got a glimpse of the flock, but did not
succeed in obtaining a specimen. They were of small size and
covered with long fur of a uniform grey colour. I think the
species was the Callithrix donacophilus. The rock composing the
elevated ridge of the Parentins is the same coarse iron-cemented
conglomerate which I have often spoken of as occurring near Para
and in several other places. Many loose blocks were scattered
about. The forest was extremely varied, and inextricable coils of
woody climbers stretched from tree to tree. Throngs of cacti were
spread over the rocks and tree-trunks. The variety of small,
beautifully-shaped ferns, lichens, and boleti, made the place
quite a museum of cryptogamic plants. I found here two exquisite
species of Longicorn beetles, and a large kind of grasshopper
(Pterochroza) whose broad fore-wings resembled the leaf of a
plant, providing the insect with a perfect disguise when they
were closed; while the hind wings were decorated with gaily-
coloured eye-like spots.

The negro left us and turned up a narrow channel, the Parana-
mirim dos Ramos (the little river of the branches, i.e., having
many ramifications), on the road to his home, 130 miles distant.
We then continued our voyage, and in the evening arrived at Villa
Nova, a straggling village containing about seventy houses, many
of which scarcely deserve the name, being mere mud-huts roofed
with palm-leaves. We stayed here four days. The village is built
on a rocky bank, composed of the same coarse conglomerate as that
already so often mentioned. In some places a bed of Tabatinga
clay rests on the conglomerate. The soil in the neighbourhood is
sandy, and the forest, most of which appears to be of second
growth, is traversed by broad alleys which terminate to the south
and east on the banks of pools and lakes, a chain of which
extends through the interior of the land. As soon as we anchored
I set off with Luco to explore the district. We walked about a
mile along the marly shore, on which was a thick carpet of
flowering shrubs, enlivened by a great variety of lovely little
butterflies, and then entered the forest by a dry watercourse.

About a furlong inland this opened on a broad placid pool, whose
banks, clothed with grass of the softest green hue, sloped gently
from the water's edge to the compact wall of forest which
encompassed the whole. The pool swarmed with water-fowl; snowy
egrets, dark-coloured striped herons, and storks of various
species standing in rows around its margins. Small flocks of
macaws were stirring about the topmost branches of the trees.
Long-legged piosocas (Perra Jacana) stalked over the water plants
on the surface of the pool, and in the bushes on its margin were
great numbers of a kind of canary (Sycalis brasiliensis) of a
greenish-yellow colour, which has a short and not very melodious
song. We had advanced but a few steps when we startled a pair of
the Jaburu-moleque (Mycteria americana), a powerful bird of the
stork family, four and a half feet in height, which flew up and
alarmed the rest, so that I got only one bird out of the
tumultuous flocks which passed over our heads. Passing towards
the farther end of the pool I saw, resting on the surface of the
water, a number of large round leaves turned up at their edges;
they belonged to the Victoria water-lily. The leaves were just
beginning to expand (December 3rd), some were still under water,
and the largest of those which had reached the surface measured
not quite three feet in diameter. We found a montaria with a
paddle in it, drawn up on the bank, which I took leave to borrow
of the unknown owner, and Luco paddled me amongst the noble
plants to search for flowers-- meeting, however, with no success.
I learned afterwards that the plant is common in nearly all the
lakes of this neighbourhood. The natives call it the furno do
Piosoca, or oven of the Jacana, the shape of the leaves being
like that of the ovens on which Mandioca meal is roasted.

We saw many kinds of hawks and eagles, one of which, a black
species, the Caracara-i (Milvago nudicollis), sat on the top of a
tall naked stump, uttering its hypocritical whining notes. This
eagle is considered a bird of ill omen by the Indians: it often
perches on the tops of trees in the neighbourhood of their huts,
and is then said to bring a warning of death to some member of
the household. Others say that its whining cry is intended to
attract other defenseless birds within its reach. The little
courageous flycatcher Bemti-vi (Saurophagus sulphuratus)
assembles in companies of four or five, and attacks it boldly,
driving it from the perch where it would otherwise sit for hours.
I shot three hawks of as many different species; and these, with
a Magoary stork, two beautiful gilded-green jacamars (Galbula
chalcocephala), and half-a-dozen leaves of the water-lily, made a
heavy load, with which we trudged off back to the canoe.

A few years after this visit, namely, in 1854-5, I passed eight
months at Villa Nova. The district of which it is the chief town
is very extensive, for it has about forty miles of linear extent
along the banks of the river; but, the whole does not contain
more than 4000 inhabitants. More than half of these are pureblood
Indians who live in a semi-civilised condition on the banks of
the numerous channels and lakes. The trade of the place is
chiefly in India-rubber, balsam of Copaiba (which are collected
on the banks of the Madeira and the numerous rivers that enter
the Canoma channel), and salt fish, prepared in the dry season,
nearer home. These articles are sent to Para in exchange for
European goods. The few Indian and half-breed families who reside
in the town are many shades inferior in personal qualities and
social condition to those I lived amongst near Para and Cameta.
They live in wretched dilapidated mud-hovels; the women cultivate
small patches of mandioca; the men spend most of their time in
fishing, selling what they do not require themselves and getting
drunk with the most exemplary regularity on cashaca, purchased
with the proceeds.

I made, in this second visit to Villa Nova, an extensive
collection of the natural productions of the neighbourhood. A few
remarks on some of the more interesting of these must suffice.
The forests are very different in their general character from
those of Para, and in fact those of humid districts generally
throughout the Amazons. The same scarcity of large-leaved
Musaceous and Marantaceous plants was noticeable here as at
Obydos. The low-lying areas of forest or Ygapos, which alternate
everywhere with the more elevated districts, did not furnish the
same luxuriant vegetation as they do in the Delta region of the
Amazons. They are flooded during three or four months in the
year, and when the waters retire, the soil--to which the very
thin coating of alluvial deposit imparts little fertility--
remains bare, or covered with a matted bed of dead leaves until
the next flood season. These tracts have then a barren
appearance; the trunks and lower branches of the trees are coated
with dried slime, and disfigured by rounded masses of fresh-water
sponges, whose long horny spiculae and dingy colours give them
the appearance of hedgehogs.

Dense bushes of a harsh, cutting grass, called Tiririca, form
almost the only fresh vegetation in the dry season. Perhaps the
dense shade, the long period during which the land remains under
water, and the excessively rapid desiccation when the waters
retire, all contribute to the barrenness of these Ygapos. The
higher and drier land is everywhere sandy, and tall coarse
grasses line the borders of the broad alleys which have been cut
through the second-growth woods. These places swarm with
carapatos, ugly ticks belonging to the genus Ixodes, which mount
to the tips of blades of grass, and attach themselves to the
clothes of passers-by. They are a great annoyance. It occupied me
a full hour daily to pick them off my flesh after my diurnal
ramble. There are two species; both are much flattened in shape,
have four pairs of legs, a thick short proboscis and a horny
integument. Their habit is to attach themselves to the skin by
plunging their proboscides into it, and then suck the blood until
their flat bodies are distended into a globular form. The whole
proceeding, however, is very slow, and it takes them several days
to pump their fill. No pain or itching is felt, but serious sores
are caused if care is not taken in removing them, as the
proboscis is liable to break off and remain in the wound. A
little tobacco juice is generally applied to make them loosen
their hold. They do not cling firmly to the skin by their legs,
although each of these has a pair of sharp and fine claws
connected with the tips of the member by means of a flexible
pedicle. When they mount to the summits of slender blades of
grass, or the tips of leaves, they hold on by their forelegs
only, the other three pairs being stretched out so as to fasten
onto any animal which comes their way. The smaller of the two
species is of a yellowish colour; it is the most abundant, and
sometimes falls upon one by scores. When distended, it is about
the size of a No. 8 shot; the larger kind, which fortunately
comes only singly to the work, swells to the size of a pea.

In some parts of the interior, the soil is composed of very
coarse sand and small fragments of quartz; in these places no
trees grow. I visited, in company with the priest, Padre
Torquato, one of these treeless spaces or campos, as they are
called, situated five miles from the village. The road thither
led through a varied and beautiful forest, containing many
gigantic trees. I missed the Assai, Mirti, Paxiuba, and other
palms which are all found only on rich moist soils, but the noble
Bacaba was not uncommon, and there was a great diversity of dwarf
species of Maraja palms (Bactris), one of which, called the
Peuririma, was very elegant, growing to a height of twelve or
fifteen feet, with a stem no thicker than a man's finger. On
arriving at the campo, all this beautiful forest abruptly ceased,
and we saw before us an oval tract of land three or four miles in
circumference, destitute even of the smallest bush. The only
vegetation was a crop of coarse hairy grass growing in patches.
The forest formed a hedge all round the isolated field, and its
borders were composed in great part of trees which do not grow in
the dense virgin forest, such as a great variety of bushy
Melastomas, low Byrsomina trees, myrtles, and Lacre-trees, whose
berries exude globules of wax resembling gamboge. On the margins
of the campo wild pineapples also grew in great quantity. The
fruit was of the same shape as our cultivated kind, but much
smaller, the size being that of a moderately large apple. We
gathered several quite ripe ones; they were pleasant to the
taste, of the true pineapple flavour, but had an abundance of
fully developed seeds, and only a small quantity of eatable pulp.
There was no path beyond this campo; in fact, all beyond is terra
incognita to the inhabitants of Villa Nova.

The only interesting Mammalian animal which I saw at Villa Nova
was a monkey of a species new to me; it was not, however, a
native of the district, having been brought by a trader from the
river Madeira, a few miles above Borba. It was a howler, probably
the Mycetes stramineus of Geoffroy St. Hilaire. The howlers are
the only kinds of monkey which the natives have not succeeded in
taming. They are often caught, but they do not survive captivity
many weeks. The one of which I am speaking was not quite full
grown. It measured sixteen inches in length, exclusive of the
tail-- the whole body was covered with rather long and shining
dingy-white hair, the whiskers and beard only being of a tawny
hue. It was kept in a house, together with a Coaita and a
Caiarara monkey (Cebus albifrons). Both these lively members of
the monkey order seemed rather to court attention, but the
Mycetes slunk away when anyone approached it. When it first
arrived, it occasionally made a gruff subdued howling noise early
in the morning. The deep volume of sound in the voice of the
howling monkeys, as is well known, is produced by a drum-shaped
expansion of the larynx. It was curious to watch the animal while
venting its hollow cavernous roar, and observe how small was the
muscular exertion employed. When howlers are seen in the forest,
there are generally three or four of them mounted on the topmost
branches of a tree. It does not appear that their harrowing roar
is emitted from sudden alarm; at least, it was not so in captive
individuals. It is probable, however, that the noise serves to
intimidate their enemies. I did not meet with the Mycetes
stramineus in any other part of the Amazons region; in the
neighbourhood of Para a reddish-coloured species prevails (M.
Belzebuth); in the narrow channels near Breves I shot a large,
entirely black kind; another yellow-handed species, according to
the report of the natives, inhabits the island of Macajo, which
is probably the M. flavimanus of Kuhl; some distance up the
Tapajos the only howler found is a brownish-black species; and on
the Upper Amazons, the sole species seen was the Mycetes ursinus,
whose fur is of a shining yellowish-red colour.

In the dry forests of Villa Nova I saw a rattlesnake for the
first time. I was returning home one day through a narrow alley,
when I heard a pattering noise close to me. Hard by was a tall
palm tree, whose head was heavily weighted with parasitic plants,
and I thought the noise was a warning that it was about to fall.
The wind lulled for a few moments, and then there was no doubt
that the noise proceeded from the ground. On turning my head in
that direction, a sudden plunge startled me, and a heavy gliding
motion betrayed a large serpent making off almost from beneath my
feet. The ground is always so encumbered with rotting leaves and
branches that one only discovers snakes when they are in the act
of moving away. The residents of Villa Nova would not believe
that I had seen a rattlesnake in their neighbourhood; in fact, it
is not known to occur in the forests at all, its place being the
open campos, where, near Santarem, I killed several. On my second
visit to Villa Nova I saw another. I had then a favourite little
dog, named Diamante, who used to accompany me in my rambles. One
day he rushed into the thicket, and made a dead set at a large
snake, whose head I saw raised above the herbage. The foolish
little brute approached quite close, and then the serpent reared
its tail slightly in a horizontal position and shook its terrible
rattle. It was many minutes before I could get the dog away; and
this incident, as well as the one already related, shows how slow
the reptile is to make the fatal spring.

I was much annoyed, and at the same time amused, with the Urubu
vultures. The Portuguese call them corvos or crows; in colour and
general appearance they somewhat resemble rooks, but they are
much larger, and have naked, black, wrinkled skin about their
face and throat. They assemble in great numbers in the villages
about the end of the wet season, and are then ravenous with
hunger. My cook could not leave the kitchen open at the back of
the house for a moment while the dinner was cooking, on account
of their thievish propensities. Some of them were always
loitering about, watching their opportunity, and the instant the
kitchen was left unguarded, the bold marauders marched in and
lifted the lids off the saucepans with their beaks to rob them of
their contents. The boys of the village lie in wait, and shoot
them with bow and arrow; and vultures have consequently acquired
such a dread of these weapons, that they may be often kept off by
hanging a bow from the rafters of the kitchen. As the dry season
advances, the hosts of Urubus follow the fishermen to the lakes,
where they gorge themselves with the offal of the fisheries.
Towards February, they return to the villages, and are then not
nearly so ravenous as before their summer trips.

The insects of Villa Nova are, to a great extent, the same as
those of Santarem and the Tapajos. A few species of all orders,
however, are found here, which occurred nowhere else on the
Amazons, besides several others which are properly considered
local varieties or races of others found at Para, on the Northern
shore of the Amazons, or in other parts of Tropical America. The
Hymenoptera were especially numerous, as they always are in
districts which possess a sandy soil; but the many interesting
facts which I gleaned relative to their habits will be more
conveniently introduced when I treat of the same or similar
species found in the localities above-named.

In the broad alleys of the forest several species of Morpho were
common. One of these is a sister form to the Morpho Hecuba, which
I have mentioned as occurring at Obydos. The Villa Nova kind
differs from Hecuba sufficiently to be considered a distinct
species, and has been described under the name of M. Cisseis; but
it is clearly only a local variety of it, the range of the two
being limited by the barrier of the broad Amazons. It is a grand
sight to see these colossal butterflies by twos and threes
floating at a great height in the still air of a tropical
morning. They flap their wings only at long intervals, for I have
noticed them to sail a very considerable distance without a
stroke. Their wing-muscles and the thorax to which they are
attached are very feeble in comparison with the wide extent and
weight of the wings; but the large expanse of these members
doubtless assists the insects in maintaining their aerial course.
Morphos are among the most conspicuous of the insect denizens of
Tropical American forests, and the broad glades of the Villa Nova
woods seemed especially suited to them, for I noticed here six
species. The largest specimens of Morpho Cisseis measure seven
inches and a half in expanse. Another smaller kind, which I could
not capture, was of a pale silvery-blue colour, and the polished
surface of its wings flashed like a silver speculum as the insect
flapped its wings at a great elevation in the sunlight.

To resume our voyage-- We left Villa Nova on the 4th of December.
A light wind on the 5th carried us across to the opposite shore
and past the mouth of the Parana-mirim do arco, or the little
river of the bow, so-called on account of its being a short arm
of the main river, of a curved shape, and rejoining the Amazons a
little below Villa Nova. On the 6th, after passing a large island
in mid-river, we arrived at a place where a line of perpendicular
clay cliffs, called the Barreiros de Cararaucu, diverts slightly
the course of the main stream, as at Obydos. A little below these
cliffs were a few settlers' houses; here Penna remained ten days
to trade, a delay which I turned to good account in augmenting
very considerably my collections.

At the first house a festival was going forward. We anchored at
some distance from the shore, on account of the water being
shoaly, and early in the morning three canoes put off, laden with
salt fish, oil of manatee, fowls and bananas-- wares which the
owners wished to exchange for different articles required for the
festa. Soon after I went ashore. The head man was a tall, well-
made, civilised Tapuyo, named Marcellino, who, with his wife, a
thin, active, wiry old squaw, did the honours of their house, I
thought, admirably. The company consisted of fifty or sixty
Indians and Mamelucos; some of them knew Portuguese, but the Tupi
language was the only one used amongst themselves. The festival
was in honour of our Lady of Conception; and, when the people
learnt that Penna had on board an image of the saint handsomer
than their own, they put off in their canoes to borrow it;
Marcellino taking charge of the doll, covering it carefully with
a neatly-bordered white towel. On landing with the image, a
procession was formed from the port to the house, and salutes
fired from a couple of lazarino guns, the saint being afterwards
carefully deposited in the family oratorio. After a litany and
hymn were sung in the evening, all assembled to supper around a
large mat spread on a smooth terrace-like space in front of the
house. The meal consisted of a large boiled Pirarucu, which had
been harpooned for the purpose in the morning, stewed and roasted
turtle, piles of mandioca-meal and bananas. The old lady, with
two young girls, showed the greatest activity in waiting on the
guests, Marcellino standing gravely by, observing what was wanted
and giving the necessary orders to his wife. When all was done,
hard drinking began, and soon after there was a dance, to which
Penna and I were invited. The liquor served was chiefly a spirit
distilled by the people themselves from mandioca cakes. The
dances were all of the same class, namely, different varieties of
the "Landum," an erotic dance similar to the fandango, originally
learned from the Portuguese. The music was supplied by a couple
of wire-stringed guitars, played alternately by the young men.
All passed off very quietly considering the amount of strong
liquor drunk, and the ball was kept up until sunrise the next

We visited all the houses one after the other. One of them was
situated in a charming spot, with a broad sandy beach before it,
at the entrance to the Parana-mirim do Mucambo, a channel leading
to an interior lake, peopled by savages of the Mura tribe. This
seemed to be the abode of an industrious family, but all the men
were absent, salting Pirarucu on the lakes. The house, like its
neighbours, was simply a framework of poles thatched with palm-
leaves, the walls roughly latticed and plastered with mud; but it
was larger, and much cleaner inside than the others. It was full
of women and children, who were busy all day with their various
employments; some weaving hammocks in a large clumsy frame, which
held the warp while the shuttle was passed by the hand slowly
across the six foot breadth of web; others were spinning cotton,
and others again scraping, pressing, and roasting mandioca. The
family had cleared and cultivated a large piece of ground; the
soil was of extraordinary richness, the perpendicular banks of
the river, near the house, revealing a depth of many feet of
crumbling vegetable mould. There was a large plantation of
tobacco, besides the usual patches of Indian-corn, sugar-cane,
and mandioca; and a grove of cotton, cacao, coffee, and fruit-
trees surrounded the house. We passed two nights at anchor in
shoaly water off the beach. The weather was most beautiful, and
scores of Dolphins rolled and snorted about the canoe all night.

We crossed the river at this point, and entered a narrow channel
which penetrates the interior of the island of Tupinambarana, and
leads to a chain of lakes called the Lagos de Cararaucu. A
furious current swept along the coast, eating into the crumbling
earthy banks, and strewing the river with debris of the forest.
The mouth of the channel lies about twenty-five miles from Villa
Nova; the entrance is only about forty yards broad, but it
expands, a short distance inland, into a large sheet of water. We
suffered terribly from insect pests during the twenty-four hours
we remained here. At night it was quite impossible to sleep for
mosquitoes; they fell upon us by myriads, and without much piping
came straight at our faces as thick as raindrops in a shower. The
men crowded into the cabins, and then tried to expel the pests by
the smoke from burnt rags, but it was of little avail, although
we were half suffocated during the operation. In the daytime, the
Motuca, a much larger and more formidable fly than the mosquito,
insisted upon levying his tax of blood. We had been tormented by
it for many days past, but this place seemed to be its
metropolis. The species has been described by Perty, the author
of the Entomological portion of Spix, and Martius' travels, under
the name of Hadrus lepidotus. It is a member of the Tabanidae
family, and indeed is closely related to the Haematopota
pluvialis, a brown fly which haunts the borders of woods in
summer time in England. The Motuca is of a bronzed-black colour;
its proboscis is formed of a bundle of horny lancets, which are
shorter and broader than is usually the case in the family to
which it belongs. Its puncture does not produce much pain, but it
makes such a large gash in the flesh that the blood trickles
forth in little streams. Many scores of them were flying about
the canoe all day, and sometimes eight or ten would settle on
one's ankles at the same time. It is sluggish in its motions, and
may be easily killed with the fingers when it settles. Penna went
forward in the montaria to the Pirarucu fishing stations, on a
lake lying further inland; but he did not succeed in reaching
them on account of the length and intricacy of the channels; so
after wasting a day, during which, however, I had a profitable
ramble in the forest, we again crossed the river, and on the 16th
continued our voyage along the northern shore.

The clay cliffs of Cararaucu are several miles in length. The
hard pink and red coloured beds are here extremely thick, and in
some places present a compact, stony texture. The total height of
the cliff is from thirty to sixty feet above the mean level of
the river, and the clay rests on strata of the same coarse iron-
cemented conglomerate which has already been so often mentioned.
Large blocks of this latter have been detached and rolled by the
force of currents up parts of the cliff where they are seen
resting on terraces of the clay. On the top of all lies a bed of
sand and vegetable mold, which supports a lofty forest, growing
up to the very brink of the precipice. After passing these
barreiros we continued our way along a low uninhabited coast,
clothed, wherever it was elevated above high-water mark, with the
usual vividly-coloured forests of the higher Ygapo lands, to
which the broad and regular fronds of the Murumuru palm, here
extremely abundant, served as a great decoration. Wherever the
land was lower than the flood height of the Amazons, Cecropia
trees prevailed, sometimes scattered over meadows of tall broad-
leaved grasses, which surrounded shallow pools swarming with
water-fowl. Alligators were common on most parts of the coast; in
some places we also saw small herds of Capybaras (a large Rodent
animal, like a colossal Guinea-pig) among the rank herbage on
muddy banks, and now and then flocks of the graceful squirrel
monkey (Chrysothrix sciureus), while the vivacious Caiarara
(Cebus albifrons) were seen taking flying leaps from tree to
tree. On the 22nd, we passed the mouth of the most easterly of
the numerous channels which lead to the large interior lake of
Saraca, and on the 23rd ,threaded a series of passages between
islands, where we again saw human habitations, ninety miles
distant from the last house at Cararaucu. On the 24th we arrived
at Serpa.

Serpa is a small village, consisting of about eighty houses,
built on a bank elevated twenty-five feet above the level of the
river. The beds of Tabatinga clay, which are here intermingled
with scoria-looking conglomerate, are in some parts of the
declivity prettily variegated in colour; the name of the town in
the Tupi language, Ita-coatiara, takes its origin from this
circumstance, signifying striped or painted rock. It is an old
settlement, and was once the seat of the district government,
which had authority over the Barra of the Rio Negro. It was in
1849 a wretched-looking village, but it has since revived, on
account of having been chosen by the Steamboat Company of the
Amazons as a station for steam saw-mills and tile manufactories.
We arrived on Christmas Eve, when the village presented an
animated appearance from the number of people congregated for the
holidays. The port was full of canoes, large and small, from the
montaria, with its arched awning of woven lianas and Maranta
leaves, to the two-masted cuberta of the peddling trader, who had
resorted to the place in the hope of trafficking with settlers
coming from remote sitios to attend the festival. We anchored
close to an igarite, whose owner was an old Juri Indian,
disfigured by a large black tatooed patch in the middle of his
face, and by his hair being close cropped, except a fringe in
front of the head.

In the afternoon we went ashore. The population seemed to consist
chiefly of semi-civilised Indians, living as usual in half-
finished mud hovels. The streets were irregularly laid out, and
overrun with weeds and bushes swarming with "mocuim," a very
minute scarlet acarus, which sweeps off to one's clothes in
passing, and attaching itself in great numbers to the skin causes
a most disagreeable itching. The few whites and better class of
mameluco residents live in more substantial dwellings, white-
washed and tiled. All, both men and women, seemed to me much more
cordial, and at the same time more brusque in their manners, than
any Brazilians I had yet met with. One of them, Captain Manoel
Joaquim, I knew for a long time afterwards; a lively,
intelligent, and thoroughly good-hearted man, who had quite a
reputation throughout the interior of the country for generosity,
and for being a firm friend of foreign residents and stray
travellers. Some of these excellent people were men of substance,
being owners of trading vessels, slaves, and extensive
plantations of cacao and tobacco.

We stayed at Serpa five days. Some of the ceremonies observed at
Christmas were interesting, inasmuch as they were the same, with
little modification, as those taught by the Jesuit missionaries
more than a century ago to the aboriginal tribes whom they had
induced to settle on this spot. In the morning, all the women and
girls, dressed in white gauze chemises and showy calico print
petticoats, went in procession to church, first going the round
of the town to take up the different "mordomos," or stewards,
whose office is to assist the Juiz of the festa. These stewards
carried each a long white reed, decorated with coloured ribbons;
several children also accompanied, grotesquely decked with
finery. Three old squaws went in front, holding the "saire," a
large semi-circular frame, clothed with cotton and studded with
ornaments, bits of looking-glass, and so forth. This they danced
up and down, singing all the time a monotonous whining hymn in
the Tupi language, and at frequent intervals turning round to
face the followers, who then all stopped for a few moments. I was
told that this saire was a device adopted by the Jesuits to
attract the savages to church, for these everywhere followed the
mirrors, in which they saw as it were magically reflected their
own persons.

In the evening good-humoured revelry prevailed on all sides. The
negroes, who had a saint of their own colour--St. Benedito--had
their holiday apart from the rest, and spent the whole night
singing and dancing to the music of a long drum (gamba) and the
caracasha. The drum was a hollow log, having one end covered with
skin, and was played by the performer sitting astride upon it,
and drumming with his knuckles. The caracasha is a notched bamboo
tube, which produces a harsh rattling noise by passing a hard
stick over the notches. Nothing could exceed in dreary monotony
this music and the singing and dancing, which were kept up with
unflagging vigour all night long. The Indians did not get up a
dance--for the whites and mamelucos had monopolised all the
pretty coloured girls for their own ball, and the older squaws
preferred looking on to taking a part themselves. Some of their
husbands joined the negroes, and got drunk very quickly. It was
amusing to notice how voluble the usually taciturn redskins
became under the influence of liquor. The negroes and Indians
excused their own intemperance by saying the whites were getting
drunk at the other end of the town, which was quite true.

We left Serpa on the 29th of December, in company of an old
planter named Senor Joao (John) Trinidade, at whose sitio,
situated opposite the mouth of the Madeira, Penna intended to
spend a few days. Our course on the 29th and 30th lay through
narrow channels between islands. On the 31st we passed the last
of these, and then beheld to the south a sea-like expanse of
water, where the Madeira, the greatest tributary of the Amazons,
after 2000 miles of course, blends its waters with those of the
king of rivers. I was hardly prepared for a junction of waters on
so vast a scale as this, now nearly 900 miles from the sea. While
travelling week after week along the somewhat monotonous stream,
often hemmed in between islands, and becoming thoroughly familiar
with it, my sense of the magnitude of this vast water system had
become gradually deadened; but this noble sight renewed the first
feelings of wonder. One is inclined, in such places as these, to
think the Paraenses do not exaggerate much when they call the
Amazons the Mediterranean of South America. Beyond the mouth of
the Madeira, the Amazons sweeps down in a majestic reach, to all
appearance not a whit less in breadth before than after this
enormous addition to its waters. The Madeira does not ebb and
flow simultaneously with the Amazons; it rises and sinks about
two months earlier, so that it was now fuller than the main
river. Its current therefore, poured forth freely from its mouth,
carrying with it a long line of floating trees and patches of
grass which had been torn from its crumbly banks in the lower
part of its course. The current, however, did not reach the
middle of the main stream, but swept along nearer to the southern

A few items of information which I gleaned relative to this river
may find a place here. The Madeira is navigable for about 480
miles from its mouth; a series of cataracts and rapids then
commences, which extends, with some intervals of quiet water,
about 16o miles, beyond which is another long stretch of
navigable stream. Canoes sometimes descend from Villa Bella, in
the interior province of Matto Grosso, but not so frequently as
formerly, and I could hear of very few persons who had attempted
of late years to ascend the river to that point. It was explored
by the Portuguese in the early part of the eighteenth century,
the chief and now the only town on its banks, Borba, 150 miles
from its mouth, being founded in 1756. Up to the year 1853, the
lower part of the river, as far as about a hundred miles beyond
Borba, was regularly visited by traders from Villa Nova, Serpa,
and Barra, to collect sarsaparilla, copauba balsam, turtle-oil,
and to trade with the Indians, with whom their relations were
generally on a friendly footing. In that year many India-rubber
collectors resorted to this region, stimulated by the high price
(2s. 6d. a pound) which the article was at that time fetching at
Para; and then the Araras, a fierce and intractable tribe of
Indians, began to be troublesome. They attacked several canoes
and massacred everyone on board, the Indian crews as well as the
white traders. Their plan was to lurk in ambush near the sandy
beaches where canoes stop for the night, and then fall upon the
people while asleep. Sometimes they came under pretence of
wishing to trade, and then as soon as they could get the trader
at a disadvantage, shot him and his crew from behind trees. Their
arms were clubs, bows, and Taquara arrows, the latter a
formidable weapon tipped with a piece of flinty bamboo shaped
like a spear-head; they could propel it with such force as to
pierce a man completely through the body. The whites of Borba
made reprisals, inducing the warlike Mundurucus, who had an old
feud with the Araras, to assist them. This state of things lasted
two or three years, and made a journey up the Madeira a risky
undertaking, as the savages attacked all corners. Besides the
Araras and the Mundurucus, the latter a tribe friendly to the
whites, attached to agriculture, and inhabiting the interior of
the country from the Madeira to beyond the Tapajos, two other
tribes of Indians now inhabit the lower Madeira, namely, the
Parentintins and the Muras. Of the former I did not hear much;
the Muras lead a lazy quiet life on the banks of the labyrinths
of lakes and channels which intersect the low country on both
sides of the river below Borba. The Araras are one of those
tribes which do not plant mandioca; and indeed have no settled
habitations. They are very similar in stature and other physical
features to the Mundurucus, although differing from them so
widely in habits and social condition. They paint their chins red
with Urucu (Anatto), and have usually a black tattooed streak on
each side of the face, running from the corner of the mouth to
the temple. They have not yet learned the use of firearms, have
no canoes, and spend their lives roaming over the interior of the
country, living on game and wild fruits. When they wish to cross
a river, they make a temporary canoe with the thick bark of
trees, which they secure in the required shape of a boat by means
of lianas. I heard it stated by a trader of Santarem, who
narrowly escaped being butchered by them in 1854, that the Araras
numbered 2000 fighting men. The number I think must be
exaggerated, as it generally is with regard to Brazilian tribes.
When the Indians show a hostile disposition to the whites, I
believe it is most frequently owing to some provocation they have
received at their hands; for the first impulse of the Brazilian
red-man is to respect Europeans; they have a strong dislike to be
forced into their service, but if strangers visit them with a
friendly intention they are well treated. It is related, however,
that the Indians of the Madeira were hostile to the Portuguese
from the first; it was then the tribes of Muras and Torazes who
attacked travellers. In 1855 I met with an American, an odd
character named Kemp, who had lived for many years amongst the
Indians on the Madeira, near the abandoned settlement of Crato.
He told me his neighbours were a kindly-disposed and cheerful
people, and that the onslaught of the Araras was provoked by a
trader from Bara, who wantonly fired into a family of them,
killing the parents, and carrying off their children to be
employed as domestic servants.

We remained nine days at the sitio of Senor John Trinidade. It is
situated on a tract of high Ygapo land, which is raised, however,
only a few inches above high-water mark. This skirts the northern
shore for a long distance; the soil consisting of alluvium and
rich vegetable mould, and exhibiting the most exuberant
fertility. Such districts are the first to be settled on in this
country, and the whole coast for many miles was dotted with
pleasant-looking sitios like that of our friend. The
establishment was a large one, the house and out-buildings
covering a large space of ground. The industrious proprietor
seemed to be Jack-of-all-trades; he was planter, trader,
fisherman, and canoe-builder, and a large igarite was now on the
stocks under a large shed. There was great pleasure in
contemplating this prosperous farm, from its being worked almost
entirely by free labour; in fact, by one family, and its
dependents. John Trinidade had only one female slave; his other
workpeople were a brother and sister-in-law, two godsons, a free
negro, one or two Indians, and a family of Muras. Both he and his
wife were mamelucos; the negro children called them always father
and mother. The order, abundance, and comfort about the place
showed what industry and good management could effect in this
country without slave-labour. But the surplus produce of such
small plantations is very trifling. All we saw had been done
since the disorders of 1835-6, during which John Trinidade was a
great sufferer; he was obliged to fly, and the Mura Indians
destroyed his house and plantations. There was a large, well-
weeded grove of cacao along the banks of the river, comprising
about 8000 trees, and further inland considerable plantations of
tobacco, mandioca, Indian corn, fields of rice, melons, and
watermelons. Near the house was a kitchen garden, in which grew
cabbages and onions, introduced from Europe, besides a wonderful
variety of tropical vegetables. It must not be supposed that
these plantations and gardens were enclosed or neatly kept, such
is never the case in this country where labour is so scarce; but
it was an unusual thing to see vegetables grown at all, and the
ground tolerably well weeded. The space around the house was
plentifully planted with fruit-trees, some, belonging to the
Anonaceous order, yielding delicious fruits large as a child's
head, and full of custardy pulp which it is necessary to eat with
a spoon--besides oranges, lemons, guavas, alligator pears, Abius
(Achras cainito), Genipapas, and bananas. In the shade of these,
coffee trees grew in great luxuriance.

The table was always well supplied with fish, which the Mura who
was attached to the household as fisherman caught every morning a
few hundred yards from the port. The chief kinds were the
Surubim, Pira-peeua, and Piramutaba, three species of Siluridae,
belonging to the genus Pimelodus. To these we used a sauce in the
form of a yellow paste, quite new to me, called Arube, which is
made of the poisonous juice of the mandioca root, boiled down
before the starch or tapioca is precipitated, and seasoned with
capsicum peppers. It is kept in stone bottles several weeks
before using, and is a most appetising relish to fish. Tucupi,
another sauce made also from mandioca juice, is much more common
in the interior of the country than Arube. This is made by
boiling or heating the pure liquid, after the tapioca has been
separated, daily for several days in succession, and seasoning it
with peppers and small fishes; when old, it has the taste of
essence of anchovies. It is generally made as a liquid, but the
Juri and Miranha tribes on the Japura make it up in the form of a
black paste by a mode of preparation I could not learn; it is
then called Tucupi-pixuna, or black Tucupi-- I have seen the
Indians on the Tapajos, where fish is scarce, season Tucupi with
Sauba ants. It is there used chiefly as a sauce to Tacaca,
another preparation from mandioca, consisting of the starch
beaten up in boiling water.

I thoroughly enjoyed the nine days we spent at this place. Our
host and hostess took an interest in my pursuit; one of the best
chambers in the house was given up to me, and the young men took
me on long rambles in the neighbouring forests. I saw very little
hard work going forward. Everyone rose with the daw, and went
down to the river to bathe; then came the never-failing cup of
rich and strong coffee, after which all proceeded to their
avocations. At this time, nothing was being done at the
plantations; the cacao and tobacco crops were not ripe; weeding
time was over; and the only work on foot was the preparation of a
little farinha by the women. The men dawdled about-- went
shooting and fishing, or did trifling jobs about the house. The
only laborious work done during the year in these establishments
is the felling of timber for new clearings; this happens at the
beginning of the dry season, namely, from July to September.
Whatever employment the people were engaged in, they did not
intermit it during the hot hours of the day. Those who went into
the woods took their dinners with them--a small bag of farinha,
and a slice of salt fish. About sunset all returned to the house;
they then had their frugal suppers, and towards eight o'clock,
after coming to ask a blessing of the patriarchal head of the
household, went off to their hammocks to sleep.

There was another visitor besides ourselves, a negro, whom John
Trinidade introduced to me as his oldest and dearest friend, who
had saved his life during the revolt of 1835. I have,
unfortunately, forgotten his name; he was a freeman, and had a
sitio of his own situated about a day's journey from this. There
was the same manly bearing about him that I had noticed with
pleasure in many other free negroes; but his quiet, earnest
manner, and the thoughtful and benevolent expression of his
countenance, showed him to be a superior man of his class. He
told me he had been intimate with our host for thirty years, and
that a wry word had never passed between them. At the
commencement of the disorders of 1835, he got into the secret of
a plot for assassinating his friend, hatched by some villains
whose only cause of enmity was their owing him money and envying
his prosperity. It was such as these who aroused the stupid and
brutal animosity of the Muras against the whites. The negro, on
obtaining this news, set off alone in a montaria on a six hour
journey in the dead of night to warn his "compadre" of the fate
in store for him, and thus gave him time to fly. It was a
pleasing sight to notice the cordiality of feeling and respect
for each other shown by these two old men; for they used to spend
hours together enjoying the cool breeze, seated under a shed
which overlooked the broad river, and talking of old times.

John Trinidade was famous for his tobacco and cigarettes, as he
took great pains in preparing the Tauari, or envelope, which is
formed of the inner bark of a tree, separated into thin papery
layers. Many trees yield it, among them the Courataria Guianensis
and the Sapucaya nut-tree, both belonging to the same natural
order. The bark is cut into long strips, of a breadth suitable
for folding the tobacco; the inner portion is then separated,
boiled, hammered with a wooden mallet, and exposed to the air for
a few hours. Some kinds have a reddish colour and an astringent
taste, but the sort prepared by our host was of a beautiful
satiny-white hue, and perfectly tasteless. He obtained sixty,
eighty, and sometimes a hundred layers from the same strip of
bark. The best tobacco in Brazil is grown in the neighbourhood of
Borba, on the Madeira, where the soil is a rich black loam; but
tobacco of very good quality was grown by John Trinidade and his
neighbours along this coast, on similar soil. It is made up into
slender rolls, an inch and a half in diameter and six feet in
length, tapering at each end. When the leaves are gathered and
partially dried, layers of them, after the mid-ribs are plucked
out, are placed on a mat and rolled up into the required shape.
This is done by the women and children, who also manage the
planting, weeding, and gathering of the tobacco. The process of
tightening the rolls is a long and heavy task, and can be done
only by men. The cords used for this purpose are of very great
strength. They are made of the inner bark of a peculiar light-
wooded and slender tree, called Uaissima, which yields, when
beaten out, a great quantity of most beautiful silky fibre, many
feet in length. I think this might be turned to some use by
English manufacturers, if they could obtain it in large quantity.
The tree is abundant on light soils on the southern side of the
Lower Amazons, and grows very rapidly. When the rolls are
sufficiently well pressed, they are bound round with narrow
thongs of remarkable toughness, cut from the bark of the climbing
Jacitara palm tree (Desmoncus macracanthus), and are then ready
for sale or use.

It was very pleasant to roam in our host's cacaoal. The ground
was clear of underwood, the trees were about thirty feet in
height, and formed a dense shade. Two species of monkey
frequented the trees, and I was told committed great depredations
when the fruit was ripe. One of these, the macaco prego (Cebus
cirrhifer?), is a most impudent thief; it destroys more than it
eats by its random, hasty way of plucking and breaking the
fruits, and when about to return to the forest, carries away all
it can in its hands or under its arms. The other species, the
pretty little Chrysothrix sciureus, contents itself with
devouring what it can on the spot. A variety of beautiful insects
basked on the foliage where stray gleams of sunlight glanced
through the canopy of broad soft-green leaves, and numbers of an
elegant, long-legged tiger beetle (Odontocheila egregia) ran and
flew about over the herbage.

We left this place on the 8th of January, and on the afternoon of
the 9th, arrived at Matari, a miserable little settlement of Mura
Indians. Here we again anchored and went ashore. The place
consisted of about twenty slightly-built mud-hovels, and had a
most forlorn appearance, notwithstanding the luxuriant forest in
its rear. A horde of these Indians settled here many years ago,
on the site of an abandoned missionary station; and the
government had lately placed a resident director over them, with
the intention of bringing the hitherto intractable savages under
authority. This, however, seemed to promise no other result than
that of driving them to their old solitary haunts on the banks of
the interior waters, for many families had already withdrawn
themselves. The absence of the usual cultivated trees and plants
gave the place a naked and poverty-stricken aspect. I entered one
of the hovels where several women were employed cooking a meal.
Portions of a large fish were roasting over a fire made in the
middle of the low chamber, and the entrails were scattered about
the floor, on which the women with their children were squatted.
These had a timid, distrustful expression of countenance, and
their bodies were begrimed with black mud, which is smeared over
the skin as a protection against mosquitoes. The children were
naked, the women wore petticoats of coarse cloth, ragged round
the edges, and stained in blotches with murixi, a dye made from
the bark of a tree. One of them wore a necklace of monkey's
teeth. There were scarcely any household utensils; the place was
bare with the exception of two dirty grass hammocks hung in the
corners. I missed the usual mandioca sheds behind the house, with
their surrounding cotton, cacao, coffee, and lemon trees. Two or
three young men of the tribe were lounging about the low open
doorway. They were stoutly-built fellows, but less well-
proportioned than the semi-civilised Indians of the Lower Amazons
generally are. Their breadth of chest was remarkable, and their
arms were wonderfully thick and muscular. The legs appeared short
in proportion to the trunk; the expression of their countenances
was unmistakably more sullen and brutal, and the skin of a darker
hue than is common in the Brazilian red man. Before we left the
hut, an old couple came in; the husband carrying his paddle, bow,
arrows, and harpoon, the woman bent beneath the weight of a large
basket filled with palm fruits. The man was of low stature and
had a wild appearance from the long coarse hair which hung over
his forehead. Both his lips were pierced with holes, as is usual
with the older Muras seen on the river. They used formerly to
wear tusks of the wild hog in these holes whenever they went out
to encounter strangers or their enemies in war. The gloomy
savagery, filth, and poverty of the people in this place made me
feel quite melancholy, and I was glad to return to the canoe.
They offered us no civilities; they did not even pass the
ordinary salutes, which all the semi-civilised and many savage
Indians proffer on a first meeting. The men persecuted Penna for
cashaca, which they seemed to consider the only good thing the
white man brings with him. As they had nothing whatever to give
in exchange, Penna declined to supply them. They followed us as
we descended to the port, becoming very troublesome when about a
dozen had collected together. They brought their empty bottles
with them and promised fish and turtle, if we would only trust
them first with the coveted aguardente, or cau-im, as they called
it. Penna was inexorable; he ordered the crew to weigh anchor,
and the disappointed savages remained hooting after us with all
their might from the top of the bank as we glided away.

The Muras have a bad reputation all over this part of the
Amazons, the semi-civilised Indians being quite as severe upon
them as the white settlers. Everyone spoke of them as lazy,
thievish, untrustworthy, and cruel. They have a greater
repugnance than any other class of Indians to settled habits,
regular labour, and the service of the whites; their distaste, in
fact, to any approximation towards civilised life is invincible.
Yet most of these faults are only an exaggeration of the
fundamental defects of character in the Brazilian red man. There
is nothing, I think, to show that the Muras had a different
origin from the nobler agricultural tribes belonging to the Tupi
nation, to some of whom they are close neighbours, although the
very striking contrast in their characters and habits would
suggest the conclusion that their origin had been different, in
the same way as the Semangs of Malacca, for instance, with regard
to the Malays. They are merely an offshoot from them, a number of
segregated hordes becoming degraded by a residence most likely of
very many centuries in Ygapo lands, confined to a fish diet, and
obliged to wander constantly in search of food. Those tribes
which are supposed to be more nearly related to the Tupis are
distinguished by their settled agricultural habits, their living
in well-constructed houses, their practice of many arts, such as
the manufacture of painted earthenware, weaving, and their
general custom of tattooing, social organisation, obedience to
chiefs, and so forth. The Muras have become a nation of nomade
fishermen, ignorant of agriculture and all other arts practised
by their neighbours. They do not build substantial and fixed
dwellings, but live in separate families or small hordes,
wandering from place to place along the margins of those rivers
and lakes which most abound in fish and turtle. At each resting-
place they construct temporary huts at the edge of the stream,
shifting them higher or lower on the banks, as the waters advance
or recede. Their canoes originally were made simply of the thick
bark of trees, bound up into a semi-cylindrical shape by means of
woody lianas; these are now rarely seen, as most families possess
montarias, which they have contrived to steal from the settlers
from time to time. Their food is chiefly fish and turtle, which
they are very expert in capturing. It is said by their neighbours
that they dive after turtles, and succeed in catching them by the
legs, which I believe is true in the shallow lakes where turtles
are imprisoned in the dry season. They shoot fish with bow and
arrow, and have no notion of any other method of cooking it than
by roasting.

It is not quite clear whether the whole tribe were originally
quite ignorant of agriculture; as some families on the banks of
the streams behind Villa Nova, who could scarcely have acquired
the art in recent times, plant mandioca, but, as a general rule,
the only vegetable food used by the Muras is bananas and wild
fruits. The original home of this tribe was the banks of the
Lower Madeira. It appears they were hostile to the European
settlers from the beginning-- plundering their sitios, waylaying
their canoes, and massacring all who fell into their power. About
fifty years ago, the Portuguese succeeded in turning the warlike
propensities of the Mundurucus against them and these, in the
course of many years' persecution, greatly weakened the power of
the tribe, and drove a great part of them from their seats on the
banks of the Madeira. The Muras are now scattered in single
hordes and families over a wide extent of country bordering the
main river from Villa Nova to Catua, near Ega, a distance of 800
miles. Since the disorders of 1835-6, when they committed great
havoc amongst the peaceable settlements from Santarem to the Rio
Negro, and were pursued and slaughtered in great numbers by the
Mundurucus in alliance with the Brazilians, they have given no
serious trouble.

There is one curious custom of the Muras which requires noticing
before concluding this digression; this is the practice of snuff-
taking with peculiar ceremonies. The snuff is called Parica, and
is a highly stimulating powder made from the seeds of a species
of Inga, belonging to the Leguminous order of plants. The seeds
are dried in the sun, pounded in wooden mortars, and kept in
bamboo tubes. When they are ripe, and the snuff-making season
sets in, they have a fuddling-bout, lasting many days, which the
Brazilians call a Quarentena, and which forms a kind of festival
of a semi-religious character. They begin by drinking large
quantities of caysuma and cashiri, fermented drinks made of
various fruits and mandioca, but they prefer cashaca, or rum,
when they can get it. In a short time they drink themselves into
a soddened semi-intoxicated state, and then commence taking the
Parica. For this purpose they pair off, and each of the partners,
taking a reed containing a quantity of the snuff, after going
through a deal of unintelligible mummery, blows the contents with
all his force into the nostrils of his companion. The effect on
the usually dull and taciturn savages is wonderful; they become
exceedingly talkative, sing, shout, and leap about in the wildest
excitement. A reaction soon follows; more drinking is then
necessary to rouse them from their stupor, and thus they carry on
for many days in succession.

The Mauhes also use the Parica, although it is not known among
their neighbours the Mundurucus. Their manner of taking it is
very different from that of the swinish Muras, it being kept in
the form of a paste, and employed chiefly as a preventive against
ague in the months between the dry and wet seasons, when the
disease prevails. When a dose is required, a small quantity of
the paste is dried and pulverised on a flat shell, and the
powder, then drawn up into both nostrils at once through two
vulture quills secured together by cotton thread. The use of
Parica was found by the early travellers amongst the Omaguas, a
section of the Tupis who formerly lived on the Upper Amazons, a
thousand miles distant from the homes of the Mauhes and Muras.
This community of habits is one of those facts which support the
view of the common origin and near relationship of the Amazonian

After leaving Matari, we continued our voyage along the northern
shore. The banks of the river were of moderate elevation during
several days' journey; the terra firma lying far in the interior,
and the coast being either lowland or masked with islands of
alluvial formation. On the 14th we passed the upper mouth of the
Parana-mirim de Eva, an arm of the river of small breadth, formed
by a straggling island some ten miles in length, lying parallel
to the northern bank. On passing the western end of this, the
main land again appeared; a rather high rocky coast, clothed with
a magnificent forest of rounded outline, which continues hence
for twenty miles to the mouth of the Rio Negro, and forms the
eastern shore of that river. Many houses of settlers, built at a
considerable elevation on the wooded heights, now enlivened the
riverbanks. One of the first objects which greeted us here was a
beautiful bird we had not hitherto met with, namely, the scarlet
and black tanager (Ramphoccelus nigrogularis), flocks of which
were seen sporting about the trees on the edge of the water,
their flame-coloured liveries lighting up the masses of dark-
green foliage.

The weather, from the 14th to the i8th, was wretched; it rained
sometimes for twelve hours in succession, not heavily, but in a
steady drizzle, such as we are familiar with in our English
climate. We landed at several places on the coast, Penna to trade
as usual, and I to ramble in the forest in search of birds and
insects. In one spot the wooded slope enclosed a very picturesque
scene: a brook, flowing through a ravine in the high bank, fell
in many little cascades to the broad river beneath, its margins
decked out with an infinite variety of beautiful plants. Wild
bananas arched over the watercourse, and the trunks of the trees
in its vicinity were clothed with ferns, large-leaved species
belonging to the genus Lygodium, which, like Osmunda, have their
spore-cases collected together on contracted leaves. On the 18th,
we arrived at a large fazenda (plantation and cattle farm),
called Jatuarana. A rocky point here projects into the stream,
and as we found it impossible to stem the strong current which
whirled around it, we crossed over to the southern shore. Canoes,
in approaching the Rio Negro, generally prefer the southern side
on account of the slackness of the current near the banks. Our
progress, however, was most tediously slow, for the regular east
wind had now entirely ceased, and the vento de cima or wind from
up river, having taken its place, blew daily for a few hours dead
against us. The weather was oppressively close, and every
afternoon a squall arose, which, however, as it came from the
right quarter and blew for an hour or two, was very welcome. We
made acquaintance on this coast with a new insect pest, the Pium,
a minute fly, two thirds of a line in length, which here
commences its reign, and continues henceforward as a terrible
scourge along the upper river, or Solimoens, to the end of the
navigation on the Amazons. It comes forth only by day, relieving
the mosquito at sunrise with the greatest punctuality, and occurs
only near the muddy shores of the stream, not one ever being
found in the shade of the forest. In places where it is abundant,
it accompanies canoes in such dense swarms as to resemble thin
clouds of smoke. It made its appearance in this way the first day
after we crossed the river. Before I was aware of the presence of
flies, I felt a slight itching on my neck, wrist, and ankles,
and, on looking for the cause, saw a number of tiny objects
having a disgusting resemblance to lice, adhering to the skin.
This was my introduction to the much-talked-of Pium. On close
examination, they are seen to be minute two-winged insects, with
dark coloured body and pale legs and wings, the latter closed
lengthwise over the back. They alight imperceptibly, and
squatting close, fall at once to work; stretching forward their
long front legs, which are in constant motion and seem to act as
feelers, and then applying their short, broad snouts to the skin.
Their abdomens soon become distended and red with blood, and
then, their thirst satisfied, they slowly move off, sometimes so
stupefied with their potations that they can scarcely fly. No
pain is felt while they are at work, but they each leave a small
circular raised spot on the skin and a disagreeable irritation.
The latter may be avoided in great measure by pressing out the
blood which remains in the spot; but this is a troublesome task
when one has several hundred punctures in the course of a day. I
took the trouble to dissect specimens to ascertain the way in
which the little pests operate. The mouth consists of a pair of
thick fleshy lips, and two triangular horny lancets, answering to
the upper lip and tongue of other insects. This is applied
closely to the skin, a puncture is made with the lancets, and the
blood then sucked through between these into the oesophagus, the
circular spot which results coinciding with the shape of the
lips. In the course of a few days the red spots dry up, and the
skin in time becomes blackened with the endless number of
discoloured punctures that are crowded together. The irritation
they produce is more acutely felt by some persons than others. I
once travelled with a middle-aged Portuguese, who was laid up for
three weeks from the attacks of Pium; his legs being swelled to
an enormous size, and the punctures aggravated into spreading

A brisk wind from the east sprang tip early in the morning of the
22nd-- we then hoisted all sail, and made for the mouth of the
Rio Negro. This noble stream at its junction with the Amazons,
seems, from its position, to be a direct continuation of the main
river, while the Solimoens which joins at an angle and is
somewhat narrower than its tributary, appears to be a branch
instead of the main trunk of the vast water system. One sees at
once,therefore,how the early explorers came to give a separate
name to this upper part of the Amazons. The Brazilians have
lately taken to applying the convenient term Alto Amazonas (High
or Upper Amazons) to the Solimoens, and it is probable that this
will gradually prevail over the old name. The Rio Negro broadens
considerably from its mouth upwards, and presents the appearance
of a great lake; its black-dyed waters having no current, and
seeming to be dammed up by the impetuous flow of the yellow,
turbid Solimoens, which here belches forth a continuous line of
uprooted trees and patches of grass, and forms a striking
contrast with its tributary. In crossing, we passed the line, a
little more than halfway over, where the waters of the two rivers
meet and are sharply demarcated from each other. On reaching the
opposite shore, we found a remarkable change. All our insect
pests had disappeared, as if by magic, even from the hold of the
canoe; the turmoil of an agitated, swiftly flowing river, and its
torn, perpendicular, earthy banks, had given place to tranquil
water and a coast indented with snug little bays fringed with
sloping, sandy beaches. The low shore and vivid light-green,
endlessly-varied foliage, which prevailed on the south side of
the Amazons, were exchanged for a hilly country, clothed with a
sombre, rounded, and monotonous forest. Our tedious voyage now
approached its termination; a light wind carried us gently along
the coast to the city of Barra, which lies about seven or eight
miles within the mouth of the river. We stopped for an hour in a
clean little bay, to bathe and dress, before showing ourselves
again among civilised people. The bottom was visible at a depth
of six feet, the white sand taking a brownish tinge from the
stained but clear water. In the evening I went ashore, and was
kindly received by Senor Henriques Antony, a warm-hearted
Italian, established here in a high position as merchant, who was
the never-failing friend of stray travellers. He placed a couple
of rooms at my disposal, and in a few hours I was comfortably
settled in my new quarters, sixty-four days after leaving Obydos.

The town of Barra is built on a tract of elevated, but very
uneven land, on the left bank of the Rio Negro, and contained, in
1850, about 3000 inhabitants. There was originally a small fort
here, erected by the Portuguese, to protect their slave-hunting
expeditions amongst the numerous tribes of Indians which peopled
the banks of the river. The most distinguished and warlike of
these were the Manaos, who were continually at war with the
neighbouring tribes, and had the custom of enslaving the
prisoners made during their predatory expeditions. The Portuguese
disguised their slave-dealing motives under the pretext of
ransoming (resgatando) these captives; indeed, the term resgatar
(to ransom) is still applied by the traders on the Upper Amazons
to the very general, but illegal, practice of purchasing Indian
children of the wild tribes. The older inhabitants of the place
remember the time when many hundreds of these captives were
brought down by a single expedition. In 1809, Barra became the
chief town of the Rio Negro district; many Portuguese and
Brazilians from other provinces then settled here; spacious
houses were built, and it grew, in the course of thirty or forty
years, to be, next to Santarem, the principal settlement on the
banks of the Amazons. At the time of my visit it was on the
decline, in consequence of the growing distrust, or increased
cunning, of the Indians, who once formed a numerous and the sole
labouring class, but having got to know that the laws protected
them against forced servitude, were rapidly withdrawing
themselves from the place. When the new province of the Amazons
was established, in 1852, Barra was chosen as the capital, and
was then invested with the appropriate name of the city of

The situation of the town has many advantages; the climate is
healthy; there are no insect pests; the soil is fertile and
capable of growing all kinds of tropical produce (the coffee of
the Rio Negro, especially, being of very superior quality), and
it is near the fork of two great navigable rivers. The
imagination becomes excited when one reflects on the possible
future of this place, situated near the centre of the equatorial
part of South America, in the midst of a region almost as large
as Europe, every inch of whose soil is of the most exuberant
fertility, and having water communication on one side with the
Atlantic, and on the other with the Spanish republics of
Venezuela, New Granada, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. Barra is now
the principal station for the lines of steamers which were
established in 1853, and passengers and goods are transhipped
here for the Solimoens and Peru. A steamer runs once a fortnight
between Para and Barra, and a bi-monthly one plies between this
place and Nauta in the Peruvian territory. The steam-boat company
is supported by a large annual grant, about 50,000 sterling,
from the imperial government. Barra was formerly a pleasant place
of residence, but it is now in a most wretched plight, suffering
from a chronic scarcity of the most necessary articles of food.
The attention of the settlers was formerly devoted almost
entirely to the collection of the spontaneous produce of the
forests and rivers; agriculture was consequently neglected, and
now the neighbourhood does not produce even mandioca-meal
sufficient for its own consumption. Many of the most necessary
articles of food, besides all luxuries, come from Portugal,
England, and North America. A few bullocks are brought now and
then from Obydos, 500 miles off, the nearest place where cattle
are reared in any numbers, and these furnish at long intervals a
supply of fresh beef, but this is generally monopolised by the
families of government officials. Fowls, eggs, fresh fish,
turtles, vegetables, and fruit were excessively scarce and dear
in 1859, when I again visited the place; for instance, six or
seven shillings were asked for a poor lean fowl, and eggs were
twopence-halfpenny a piece. In fact, the neighbourhood produces
scarcely anything; the provincial government is supplied with the
greater part of its funds from the treasury of Para; its revenue,
which amounts to about fifty contos of reis (5600), derived from
export taxes on the produce of the entire province, not sufficing
for more than about one-fifth of its expenditure.

The population of the province of the Amazons, according to a
census taken in 1858, is 55,000 souls; the municipal district of
Barra, which comprises a large area around the capital,
containing only 4500 inhabitants. For the government, however, of
this small number of people, an immense staff of officials is
gathered together in the capital, and, notwithstanding the
endless number of trivial formalities which Brazilians employ in
every small detail of administration, these have nothing to do
the greater part of their time. None of the people who flocked to
Barra on the establishment of the new government seemed to care
about the cultivation of the soil and the raising of food,
although these would have been most profitable speculations. The
class of Portuguese who emigrate to Brazil seem to prefer petty
trading to the honourable pursuit of agriculture. If the English
are a nation of shopkeepers, what are we to say of the
Portuguese? I counted in Barra one store for every five dwelling-
houses. These stores, or tavernas, have often not more than fifty
pounds' worth of goods for their whole stock, and the Portuguese
owners, big lusty fellows, stand all day behind their dirty
counters for the sake of selling a few coppers' worth of liquors,
or small wares. These men all give the same excuse for not
applying themselves to agriculture, namely, that no hands can be
obtained to work on the soil. Nothing can be done with Indians;
indeed, they are fast leaving the neighbourhood altogether, and
the importation of negro slaves, in the present praiseworthy
temper of the Brazilian mind, is out of the question. The
problem, how to obtain a labouring class for a new and tropical
country, without slavery, has to be solved before this glorious
region can become what its delightful climate and exuberant
fertility fit it for--the abode of a numerous, civilised, and
happy people.

I found at Barra my companion, Mr. Wallace, who, since our joint
Tocantins expedition, had been exploring, partly with his
brother, lately arrived from England, the northeastern coast of
Marajo, the river Capim (a branch of the Guama, near Para), Monte
Alegre, and Santarem. He had passed us by night below Serpa, on
his way to Barra, and so had arrived about three weeks before me.
Besides ourselves, there were half-a-dozen other foreigners here
congregated--Englishmen, Germans, and Americans; one of them a
Natural History collector, the rest traders on the rivers. In the
pleasant society of these, and of the family of Senor Henriques,
we passed a delightful time; the miseries of our long river
voyages were soon forgotten, and in two or three weeks we began
to talk of further explorations.

Meantime we had almost daily rambles in the neighbouring forest.
The whole surface of the land down to the water's edge is covered
by the uniform dark-green rolling forest, the caa-apoam (convex
woods) of the Indians, characteristic of the Rio Negro. This
clothes also the extensive areas of lowland, which are flooded by
the river in the rainy season. The olive-brown tinge of the water
seems to be derived from the saturation in it of the dark green
foliage during these annual inundations. The great contrast in
form and colour between the forest of the Rio Negro and those of
the Amazons arises from the predominance in each of different
families of plants. On the main river, palms of twenty or thirty
different species form a great proportion of the mass of trees,
while on the Rio Negro, they play a very subordinate part. The
characteristic kind in the latter region is the Jara (Leopoldinia
pulchra), a species not found on the margins of the Amazons,
which has a scanty head of fronds with narrow leaflets of the
same dark green hue as the rest of the forest. The stem is
smooth, and about two inches in diameter; its height is not more
than twelve to fifteen feet; it does not, therefore, rise amongst
the masses of foliage of the exogenous trees, so as to form a
feature in the landscape, like the broad-leaved Murumuru and
Urucuri, the slender Assai, the tall Jauari, and the fan-leaved
Muriti of the banks of the Amazons.

On the shores of the main river the mass of the forest is
composed, besides palms, of Leguminosae, or trees of the bean
family, in endless variety as to height, shape of foliage,
flowers, and fruit; of silk-cotton trees, colossal nut-trees
(Lecythideae), and Cecropiae; the underwood and water-frontage
consisting in great part of broad-leaved Musaceae, Marantaceae,
and succulent grasses-- all of which are of light shades of
green. The forests of the Rio Negro are almost destitute of these
large-leaved plants and grasses, which give so rich an appearance
to the vegetation wherever they grow; the margins of the stream
being clothed with bushes or low trees, having the same gloomy
monotonous aspect as the mangroves of the shores of creeks near
the Atlantic. The uniformly small but elegantly-leaved exogenous
trees, which constitute the mass of the forest, consist in great
part of members of the Laurel, Myrtle, Bignoniaceous, and
Rubiaceous orders. The soil is generally a stiff loam, whose
chief component part is the Tabatinga clay, which also forms low
cliffs on the coast in some places, where it overlies strata of
coarse sandstone. This kind of soil and the same geological
formation prevail, as we have seen, in many places on the banks
of the Amazons, so that the great contrast in the forest-clothing
of the two rivers cannot arise from this cause.

The forest was very pleasant for rambling. In some directions
broad pathways led down gentle slopes, through what one might
fancy were interminable shrubberies of evergreens, to moist
hollows where springs of water bubbled up, or shallowbrooks ran
over their beds of clean white sand. But the most beautiful road
was one that ran through the heart of the forest to a waterfall,
which the citizens of Barra consider as the chief natural
curiosity of their neighbourhood. The waters of one of the larger
rivulets which traverse the gloomy wilderness, here fall over a
ledge of rock about ten feet high. It is not the cascade itself,
but the noiseless solitude, and the marvellous diversity and
richness of trees, foliage, and flowers encircling the water
basin that form the attraction of the place. Families make picnic
excursions to this spot; and the gentlemen--it is said the ladies
also--spend the sultry hours of midday bathing in the cold and
bracing waters. The place is classic ground to the Naturalist
from having been a favourite spot with the celebrated travellers
Spix and Martius, during their stay at Barra in 1820. Von Martins
was so much impressed by its magical beauty that he commemorated
the visit by making a sketch of the scenery serve as background
in one of the plates of his great work on the palms.

Birds and insects, however, were scarce amidst these charming
sylvan scenes. I have often traversed the whole distance from
Barra to the waterfall, about two miles by the forest road,
without seeing or hearing a bird, or meeting with so many as a
score of Lepidopterous and Coleopterous insects. In the thinner
woods near the borders of the forest many pretty little blue and
green creepers of the Dacnidae group, were daily seen feeding on
berries; and a few very handsome birds occurred in the forest.
But the latter were so rare that we could obtain them only by
employing a native hunter, who used to spend a whole day, and go
a great distance to obtain two or three specimens. In this way I
obtained, amongst others, specimens of the Trogon pavoninus (the
Suruqua grande of the natives), a most beautiful creature, having
soft golden green plumage, red breast, and an orange-coloured
beak; also the Ampelis Pompadoura, a rich glossy-purple chatterer
with wings of a snowy-white hue.

After we had rested some weeks in Barra, we arranged our plans
for further explorations in the interior of the country. Mr.
Wallace chose the Rio Negro for his next trip, and I agreed to
take the Solimoens. My colleague has already given to the world
an account of his journey on the Rio Negro, and his adventurous
ascent of its great tributary the Uapes. I left Barra for Ega,
the first town of any importance on the Solimoens, on the 26th of
March, 1850. The distance is nearly 400 miles, which we
accomplished in a small cuberta, manned by ten stout Cucama
Indians, in thirty-five days. On this occasion, I spent twelve
months in the upper region of the Amazons; circumstances then
compelled me to return to Para. I revisited the same country in
1855, and devoted three years and a half to a fuller exploration
of its natural productions. The results of both journeys will be
given together in subsequent chapters of this work; in the
meantime, I will proceed to give an account of Santarem and the
river Tapajos, whose neighbourhoods I investigated in the years

A few words on my visit to Para in 1851 may be here introduced. I
descended the river from Ega, to the capital, a distance of 1400
miles, in a heavily-laden schooner belonging to a trader of the
former place. The voyage occupied no less than twenty-nine days,
although we were favoured by the powerful currents of the rainy
season. The hold of the vessel was filled with turtle oil
contained in large jars, the cabin was crammed with Brazil nuts,
and a great pile of sarsaparilla, covered with a thatch of palm
leaves, occupied the middle of the deck. We had, therefore, (the
master and two passengers) but rough accommodation, having to
sleep on deck, exposed to the wet and stormy weather, under
little toldos or arched shelters, arranged with mats of woven
lianas and maranta leaves. I awoke many a morning with clothes
and bedding soaked through with the rain. With the exception,
however, of a slight cold at the commencement, I never enjoyed
better health than during this journey. When the wind blew from
up river or off the land, we sped away at a great rate; but it
was often squally from those quarters, and then it was not safe
to hoist the sails. The weather was generally calm, a motionless
mass of leaden clouds covering the sky, and the broad expanse of
waters flowing smoothly down with no other motion than the ripple
of the current. When the wind came from below, we tacked down the
stream; sometimes it blew very strong, and then the schooner,
having the wind abeam, laboured through the waves, shipping often
heavy seas which washed everything that was loose from one side
of the deck to the other.

On arriving at Para, I found the once cheerful and healthy city
desolated by two terrible epidemics. The yellow fever, which
visited the place the previous year (1850) for the first time
since the discovery of the country, still lingered after having
carried off nearly 5 percent of the population. The number of
persons who were attacked, namely, three-fourths of the entire
population, showed how general the onslaught is of an epidemic on
its first appearance in a place. At the heels of this plague came
the smallpox. The yellow fever had fallen most severely on the
whites and mamelucos, the negroes wholly escaping; but the
smallpox attacked more especially the Indians, negroes, and
people of mixed colour, sparing the whites almost entirely, and
taking off about a twentieth part of the population in the course
of the four months of its stay. I heard many strange accounts of
the yellow fever. I believe Para was the second port in Brazil
attacked by it. The news of its ravages in Bahia, where the
epidemic first appeared, arrived some few days before the disease
broke out. The government took all the sanitary precautions that
could be thought of; amongst the rest was the singular one of
firing cannon at the street corners, to purify the air. Mr.
Norris, the American consul, told me the first cases of fever
occurred near the port and that it spread rapidly and regularly
from house to house, along the streets which run from the
waterside to the suburbs, taking about twenty-four hours to reach
the end. Some persons related that for several successive
evenings before the fever broke out the atmosphere was thick, and
that a body of murky vapour, accompanied by a strong stench,
travelled from street to street. This moving vapour was called
the "Mai da peste" ("the mother or spirit of the plague"); and it
was useless to attempt to reason them out of the belief that this
was the forerunner of the pestilence. The progress of the disease
was very rapid. It commenced in April, in the middle of the wet
season. In a few days, thousands of persons lay sick, dying or
dead. The state of the city during the time the fever lasted may
be easily imagined. Towards the end of June it abated, and very
few cases occurred during the dry season from July to December.

As I said before, the yellow fever still lingered in the place
when I arrived from the interior in April. I was in hopes I
should escape it, but was not so fortunate; it seemed to spare no
newcomer. At the time I fell ill, every medical man in the place
was worked to the utmost in attending the victims of the other
epidemic; it was quite useless to think of obtaining their aid,
so I was obliged to be my own doctor, as I had been in many
former smart attacks of fever. I was seized with shivering and
vomit at nine o'clock in the morning. While the people of the
house went down to the town for the medicines I ordered, I
wrapped myself in a blanket and walked sharply to and fro along
the veranda, drinking at intervals a cup of warm tea, made of a
bitter herb in use amongst the natives, called Pajemarioba, a
leguminous plant growing in all waste places. About an hour
afterwards, I took a good draught of a decoction of elder
blossoms as a sudorific, and soon after fell insensible into my
hammock. Mr. Philipps, an English resident with whom I was then
lodging, came home in the afternoon and found me sound asleep and
perspiring famously. I did not wake until almost midnight, when I
felt very weak and aching in every bone of my body. I then took
as a purgative, a small dose of Epsom salts and manna. In forty-
eight hours the fever left me, and in eight days from the first
attack, I was able to get about my work. Little else happened
during my stay, which need be recorded here. I shipped off all my
collections to England, and received thence a fresh supply of
funds. It took me several weeks to prepare for my second and
longest journey into the interior. My plan now was first to make
Santarem headquarters for some time, and ascend from that place
the river Tapajos as far as practicable. Afterwards I intended to
revisit the marvellous country of the Upper Amazons, and work
well its natural history at various stations I had fixed upon,
from Ega to the foot of the Andes.



Situation of Santarem--Manners and Customs of the Inhabitants--
Climate--Grassy Campos and Woods--Excursions to Mapiri, Mahica,
and Irura, with Sketches of their Natural History-- Palms, Wild
Fruit Trees, Mining Wasps, Mason Wasps, Bees, and Sloths

I have already given a short account of the size, situation, and
general appearance of Santarem. Although containing not more than
2500 inhabitants, it is the most civilised and important
settlement on the banks of the main river from Peru to the
Atlantic. The pretty little town, or city as it is called, with
its rows of tolerably uniform, white-washed and red-tiled houses
surrounded by green gardens and woods, stands on gently sloping
ground on the eastern side of the Tapajos, close to its point of
junction with the Amazons. A small eminence on which a fort has
been erected, but which is now in a dilapidated condition,
overlooks the streets, and forms the eastern limit of the mouth
of the tributary. The Tapajos at Santarem is contracted to a
breadth of about a mile and a half by an accretion of low
alluvial land, which forms a kind of delta on the western side;
fifteen miles further up the river is seen at its full width of
from ten to a dozen miles, and the magnificent hilly country,
through which it flows from the south, is then visible on both
shores. This high land, which appears to be a continuation of the
central table-lands of Brazil, stretches almost without
interruption on the eastern side of the river down to its mouth
at Santarem. The scenery as well as the soil, vegetation, and
animal tenants of this region, are widely different from those of
the flat and uniform country which borders the Amazons along most
part of its course. After travelling week after week on the main
river, the aspect of Santarem with its broad white sandy beach,
limpid dark-green waters, and line of picturesque hills rising
behind over the fringe of green forest, affords an agreeable
surprise. On the main Amazons, the prospect is monotonous unless
the vessel runs near the shore, when the wonderful diversity and
beauty of the vegetation afford constant entertainment.
Otherwise, the unvaried, broad yellow stream, and the long low
line of forest, which dwindles away in a broken line of trees on
the sea-like horizon and is renewed, reach after reach, as the
voyages advances, weary by their uniformity.

I arrived at Santarem on my second journey into the interior, in
November, 1851, and made it my headquarters for a period, as it
turned out, of three years and a half. During this time I made,
in pursuance of the plan I had framed, many excursions up the
Tapajos, and to other places of interest in the surrounding
region. On landing, I found no difficulty in hiring a suitable
house on the outskirts of the place. It was pleasantly situated
near the beach, going towards the aldeia or Indian part of the
town. The ground sloped from the back premises down to the
waterside and my little raised veranda overlooked a beautiful
flower garden, a great rarity in this country, which belonged to
the neighbours. The house contained only three rooms, one with
brick and two with boarded floors. It was substantially built,
like all the better sort of houses in Santarem, and had a
stuccoed front. The kitchen, as is usual, formed an outhouse
placed a few yards distant from the other rooms. The rent was
12,000 reis, or about twenty-seven shillings a month. In this
country, a tenant has no extra payments to make; the owners of
house property pay a dizimo or tithe, to the "collectoria
general," or general treasury, but with this the occupier of
course has nothing to do. In engaging servants, I had the good
fortune to meet with a free mulatto, an industrious and
trustworthy young fellow, named Jose, willing to arrange with me;
the people of his family cooked for us, while he assisted me in
collecting; he proved of the greatest service in the different
excursions we subsequently made. Servants of any kind were almost
impossible to be obtained at Santarem, free people being too
proud to hire themselves, and slaves too few and valuable to
their masters to be let out to others. These matters arranged,
the house put in order, and a rude table, with a few chairs,
bought or borrowed to furnish the house with, I was ready in
three or four days to commence my Natural History explorations in
the neighbourhood.

I found Santarem quite a different sort of place from the other
settlements on the Amazons. At Cameta, the lively, good-humoured,
and plain-living Mamelucos formed the bulk of the population, the
white immigrants there, as on the RioNegro and Upper Amazons,
seeming to have fraternised well with the aborigines. In the
neighbourhood of Santarem the Indians, I believe, were originally
hostile to the Portuguese; at any rate, the blending of the two
races has not been here on a large scale. I did not find the
inhabitants the pleasant, easygoing, and blunt-spoken country
folk that are met with in other small towns of the interior. The
whites, Portuguese and Brazilians, are a relatively more numerous
class here than in other settlements, and make great pretensions
to civilisation; they are the merchants and shopkeepers of the
place; owners of slaves, cattle estates, and cacao plantations.
Amongst the principal residents must also be mentioned the civil
and military authorities, who are generally well-bred and
intelligent people from other provinces. Few Indians live in the
place; it is too civilised for them, and the lower class is made
up (besides the few slaves) of half-breeds, in whose composition
negro blood predominates. Coloured people also exercise the
different handicrafts; the town supports two goldsmiths, who are
mulattoes, and have each several apprentices; the blacksmiths are
chiefly Indians, as is the case generally throughout the
province. The manners of the upper class (copied from those of
Para) are very stiff and formal, and the absence of the hearty
hospitality met with in other places, produces a disagreeable
impression at first. Much ceremony is observed in the intercourse
of the principal people with each other, and with strangers. The
best room in each house is set apart for receptions, and visitors
are expected to present themselves in black dress coats,
regardless of the furious heat which rages in the sandy streets
of Santarem towards midday, the hour when visits are generally
made. In the room a cane-bottomed sofa and chairs, all lacquered
and gilded, are arranged in quadrangular form, and here the
visitors are invited to seat themselves, while the compliments
are passed, or the business arranged. In taking leave, the host
backs out his guests with repeated bows, finishing at the front
door. Smoking is not in vogue amongst this class, but snuff-
taking is largely indulged in, and great luxury is displayed in
gold and silver snuff-boxes. All the gentlemen, and indeed most
of the ladies also, wear gold watches and guard chains. Social
parties are not very frequent; the principal men being fully
occupied with their business and families, and the rest spending
their leisure in billiard and gambling rooms, leaving wives and
daughters shut up at home. Occasionally, however, one of the
principal citizens gives a ball. In the first that I attended,
the gentlemen were seated all the evening on one side of the
room, and the ladies on the other, and partners were allotted by
means of numbered cards, distributed by a master of the
ceremonies. But the customs changed rapidly in these matters
after steamers began to run on the Amazons (in 1853), bringing a
flood of new ideas and fashions into the country. The old,
bigoted, Portuguese system of treating women, which stifled
social intercourse and wrought endless evils in the private life
of the Brazilians, is now being gradually, although slowly,

The religious festivals were not so numerous here as in other
towns, and when they did take place, were very poor and ill
attended. There is a handsome church, but the vicar showed
remarkably little zeal for religion, except for a few days now
and then when the Bishop came from Para on his rounds through the
diocese. The people are as fond of holiday-making here as in
other parts of the province; but it seemed to be a growing
fashion to substitute rational amusements for the processions and
mummeries of the saints' days. The young folks are very musical,
the principal instruments in use being the flute, violin, Spanish
guitar, and a small four-stringed viola, called cavaquinho.
During the early part of my stay at Santarem, a little party of
instrumentalists, led by a tall, thin, ragged mulatto, who was
quite an enthusiast in his art, used frequently to serenade their
friends in the cool and brilliant moonlit evenings of the dry
season, playing French and Italian marches and dance music with
very good effect. The guitar was the favourite instrument with
both sexes, as at Para; the piano, however, is now fast
superseding it. The ballads sung to the accompaniment of the
guitar were not learned from written or printed music, but
communicated orally from one friend to another. They were never
spoken of as songs, but modinas, or "little fashions," each of
which had its day, giving way to the next favourite brought by
some young fellow from the capital.

At festival times there was a great deal of masquerading, in
which all the people, old and young, white, negro, and Indian,
took great delight. The best things of this kind used to come off
during the Carnival, in Easter week, and on St. John's Eve; the
negroes having a grand semi-dramatic display in the streets at
Christmas time. The more select affairs were got up by the young
whites, and coloured men associating with whites. A party of
thirty or forty of these used to dress themselves in uniform
style, and in very good taste, as cavaliers and dames, each
disguised with a peculiar kind of light gauze mask. The troop,
with a party of musicians, went the round of their friends'
houses in the evening, and treated the large and gaily-dressed
companies which were there assembled to a variety of dances. The
principal citizens, in the large rooms of whose houses these
entertainments were given, seemed quite to enjoy them; great
preparations were made at each place; and, after the dance,
guests and masqueraders were regaled with pale ale and
sweetmeats. Once a year the Indians, with whom masked dances and
acting are indigenous, had their turn, and on one occasion they
gave us a great treat. They assembled from different parts of the
neighbourhood at night, on the outskirts of the town, and then
marched through the streets by torchlight towards the quarter
inhabited by the whites, to perform their hunting and devil
dances before the doors of the principal inhabitants. There were

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