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The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin

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Prepared by John Hamm
from text scanned by Internet Wiretap

The Internet Wiretap Online Edition of

About the online edition.

The degree symbol is represented as "degs." Italics
are represented as _italics_. Footnotes are collected
at the end of each chapter.



I have stated in the preface to the first Edition of this work,
and in the Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle, that it was in
consequence of a wish expressed by Captain Fitz Roy, of having
some scientific person on board, accompanied by an offer from
him of giving up part of his own accommodations, that I
volunteered my services, which received, through the kindness of
the hydrographer, Captain Beaufort, the sanction of the Lords of
the Admiralty. As I feel that the opportunities which I enjoyed
of studying the Natural History of the different countries we
visited, have been wholly due to Captain Fitz Roy, I hope I may
here be permitted to repeat my expression of gratitude to him;
and to add that, during the five years we were together, I
received from him the most cordial friendship and steady
assistance. Both to Captain Fitz Roy and to all the Officers of
the Beagle [1] I shall ever feel most thankful for the
undeviating kindness with which I was treated during our long

This volume contains, in the form of a Journal, a history of
our voyage, and a sketch of those observations in Natural History
and Geology, which I think will possess some interest for the
general reader. I have in this edition largely condensed and
corrected some parts, and have added a little to others, in order
to render the volume more fitted for popular reading; but I trust
that naturalists will remember, that they must refer for details
to the larger publications which comprise the scientific results
of the Expedition. The Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle
includes an account of the Fossil Mammalia, by Professor Owen;
of the Living Mammalia, by Mr. Waterhouse; of the Birds, by
Mr. Gould; of the Fish, by the Rev. L. Jenyns; and of the
Reptiles, by Mr. Bell. I have appended to the descriptions of
each species an account of its habits and range. These works,
which I owe to the high talents and disinterested zeal of the
above distinguished authors, could not have been undertaken, had
it not been for the liberality of the Lords Commissioners of Her
Majesty's Treasury, who, through the representation of the Right
Honourable the Chancellor of the Exchequer, have been pleased
to grant a sum of one thousand pounds towards defraying part
of the expenses of publication.

I have myself published separate volumes on the 'Structure
and Distribution of Coral Reefs;' on the 'Volcanic Islands
visited during the Voyage of the Beagle;' and on the 'Geology
of South America.' The sixth volume of the 'Geological
Transactions' contains two papers of mine on the Erratic
Boulders and Volcanic Phenomena of South America. Messrs.
Waterhouse, Walker, Newman, and White, have published several
able papers on the Insects which were collected, and I trust
that many others will hereafter follow. The plants from the
southern parts of America will be given by Dr. J. Hooker, in
his great work on the Botany of the Southern Hemisphere. The
Flora of the Galapagos Archipelago is the subject of a separate
memoir by him, in the 'Linnean Transactions.' The Reverend
Professor Henslow has published a list of the plants collected
by me at the Keeling Islands; and the Reverend J. M. Berkeley
has described my cryptogamic plants.

I shall have the pleasure of acknowledging the great assistance
which I have received from several other naturalists, in the
course of this and my other works; but I must be here allowed
to return my most sincere thanks to the Reverend Professor
Henslow, who, when I was an undergraduate at Cambridge, was
one chief means of giving me a taste for Natural History, --
who, during my absence, took charge of the collections I sent
home, and by his correspondence directed my endeavours, -- and
who, since my return, has constantly rendered me every
assistance which the kindest friend could offer.

June 9, 1845

[1] I must take this opportunity of returning my sincere thanks
to Mr. Bynoe, the surgeon of the Beagle, for his very kind
attention to me when I was ill at Valparaiso.




Porto Praya -- Ribeira Grande -- Atmospheric Dust with
Infusoria -- Habits of a Sea-slug and Cuttle-fish -- St.
Paul's Rocks, non-volcanic -- Singular Incrustations --
Insects the first Colonists of Islands -- Fernando Noronha --
Bahia -- Burnished Rocks -- Habits of a Diodon -- Pelagic
Confervae and Infusoria -- Causes of discoloured Sea.

AFTER having been twice driven back by heavy southwestern
gales, Her Majesty's ship Beagle, a ten-gun
brig, under the command of Captain Fitz Roy, R. N.,
sailed from Devonport on the 27th of December, 1831. The
object of the expedition was to complete the survey of
Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, commenced under Captain King
in 1826 to 1830, -- to survey the shores of Chile, Peru, and
of some islands in the Pacific -- and to carry a chain of
chronometrical measurements round the World. On the 6th
of January we reached Teneriffe, but were prevented landing,
by fears of our bringing the cholera: the next morning
we saw the sun rise behind the rugged outline of the Grand
Canary island, and suddenly illuminate the Peak of Teneriffe,
whilst the lower parts were veiled in fleecy clouds. This
was the first of many delightful days never to be forgotten.
On the 16th of January, 1832, we anchored at Porto Praya,
in St. Jago, the chief island of the Cape de Verd archipelago.

The neighbourhood of Porto Praya, viewed from the sea,
wears a desolate aspect. The volcanic fires of a past age,
and the scorching heat of a tropical sun, have in most places
rendered the soil unfit for vegetation. The country rises in
successive steps of table-land, interspersed with some truncate
conical hills, and the horizon is bounded by an irregular
chain of more lofty mountains. The scene, as beheld through
the hazy atmosphere of this climate, is one of great interest;
if, indeed, a person, fresh from sea, and who has just
walked, for the first time, in a grove of cocoa-nut trees, can
be a judge of anything but his own happiness. The island
would generally be considered as very uninteresting, but to
anyone accustomed only to an English landscape, the novel
aspect of an utterly sterile land possesses a grandeur which
more vegetation might spoil. A single green leaf can
scarcely be discovered over wide tracts of the lava plains;
yet flocks of goats, together with a few cows, contrive to
exist. It rains very seldom, but during a short portion of
the year heavy torrents fall, and immediately afterwards a
light vegetation springs out of every crevice. This soon
withers; and upon such naturally formed hay the animals
live. It had not now rained for an entire year. When the
island was discovered, the immediate neighbourhood of
Porto Praya was clothed with trees, [1] the reckless
destruction of which has caused here, as at St. Helena, and
at some of the Canary islands, almost entire sterility. The
broad, flat-bottomed valleys, many of which serve during a
few days only in the season as water-courses, are clothed
with thickets of leafless bushes. Few living creatures inhabit
these valleys. The commonest bird is a kingfisher (Dacelo
Iagoensis), which tamely sits on the branches of the castor-
oil plant, and thence darts on grasshoppers and lizards. It
is brightly coloured, but not so beautiful as the European
species: in its flight, manners, and place of habitation,
which is generally in the driest valley, there is also a wide

One day, two of the officers and myself rode to Ribeira
Grande, a village a few miles eastward of Porto Praya. Until
we reached the valley of St. Martin, the country presented
its usual dull brown appearance; but here, a very small rill
of water produces a most refreshing margin of luxuriant
vegetation. In the course of an hour we arrived at Ribeira
Grande, and were surprised at the sight of a large ruined
fort and cathedral. This little town, before its harbour was
filled up, was the principal place in the island: it now
presents a melancholy, but very picturesque appearance. Having
procured a black Padre for a guide, and a Spaniard who
had served in the Peninsular war as an interpreter, we visited
a collection of buildings, of which an ancient church
formed the principal part. It is here the governors and
captain-generals of the islands have been buried. Some of
the tombstones recorded dates of the sixteenth century. [2]

The heraldic ornaments were the only things in this retired
place that reminded us of Europe. The church or chapel
formed one side of a quadrangle, in the middle of which a
large clump of bananas were growing. On another side
was a hospital, containing about a dozen miserable-looking

We returned to the Venda to eat our dinners. A considerable
number of men, women, and children, all as black as
jet, collected to watch us. Our companions were extremely
merry; and everything we said or did was followed by their
hearty laughter. Before leaving the town we visited the
cathedral. It does not appear so rich as the smaller church,
but boasts of a little organ, which sent forth singularly
inharmonious cries. We presented the black priest with a few
shillings, and the Spaniard, patting him on the head, said,
with much candour, he thought his colour made no great
difference. We then returned, as fast as the ponies would
go, to Porto Praya.

Another day we rode to the village of St. Domingo, situated
near the centre of the island. On a small plain which
we crossed, a few stunted acacias were growing; their tops
had been bent by the steady trade-wind, in a singular
manner -- some of them even at right angles to their trunks.
The direction of the branches was exactly N. E. by N., and S. W.
by S., and these natural vanes must indicate the prevailing
direction of the force of the trade-wind. The travelling had
made so little impression on the barren soil, that we here
missed our track, and took that to Fuentes. This we did
not find out till we arrived there; and we were afterwards
glad of our mistake. Fuentes is a pretty village, with a small
stream; and everything appeared to prosper well, excepting,
indeed, that which ought to do so most -- its inhabitants.
The black children, completely naked, and looking very
wretched, were carrying bundles of firewood half as big as
their own bodies.

Near Fuentes we saw a large flock of guinea-fowl --
probably fifty or sixty in number. They were extremely
wary, and could not be approached. They avoided us, like
partridges on a rainy day in September, running with their
heads cocked up; and if pursued, they readily took to the

The scenery of St. Domingo possesses a beauty totally
unexpected, from the prevalent gloomy character of the rest
of the island. The village is situated at the bottom of a
valley, bounded by lofty and jagged walls of stratified lava.
The black rocks afford a most striking contrast with the
bright green vegetation, which follows the banks of a little
stream of clear water. It happened to be a grand feast-day,
and the village was full of people. On our return we overtook
a party of about twenty young black girls, dressed in
excellent taste; their black skins and snow-white linen being
set off by coloured turbans and large shawls. As soon as
we approached near, they suddenly all turned round, and
covering the path with their shawls, sung with great energy
a wild song, beating time with their hands upon their legs.
We threw them some vintems, which were received with
screams of laughter, and we left them redoubling the noise
of their song.

One morning the view was singularly clear; the distant
mountains being projected with the sharpest outline on a
heavy bank of dark blue clouds. Judging from the appearance,
and from similar cases in England, I supposed that the
air was saturated with moisture. The fact, however, turned
out quite the contrary. The hygrometer gave a difference
of 29.6 degs., between the temperature of the air, and the
point at which dew was precipitated. This difference was
nearly double that which I had observed on the previous
mornings. This unusual degree of atmospheric dryness was
accompanied by continual flashes of lightning. Is it not an
uncommon case, thus to find a remarkable degree of aerial
transparency with such a state of weather?

Generally the atmosphere is hazy; and this is caused by
the falling of impalpably fine dust, which was found to have
slightly injured the astronomical instruments. The morning
before we anchored at Porto Praya, I collected a little packet
of this brown-coloured fine dust, which appeared to have
been filtered from the wind by the gauze of the vane at the
mast-head. Mr. Lyell has also given me four packets of dust
which fell on a vessel a few hundred miles northward of
these islands. Professor Ehrenberg [3] finds that this dust
consists in great part of infusoria with siliceous shields, and
of the siliceous tissue of plants. In five little packets which
I sent him, he has ascertained no less than sixty-seven
different organic forms! The infusoria, with the exception of
two marine species, are all inhabitants of fresh-water. I
have found no less than fifteen different accounts of dust
having fallen on vessels when far out in the Atlantic. From
the direction of the wind whenever it has fallen, and from
its having always fallen during those months when the harmattan
is known to raise clouds of dust high into the atmosphere,
we may feel sure that it all comes from Africa. It
is, however, a very singular fact, that, although Professor
Ehrenberg knows many species of infusoria peculiar to
Africa, he finds none of these in the dust which I sent him.
On the other hand, he finds in it two species which hitherto
he knows as living only in South America. The dust falls
in such quantities as to dirty everything on board, and to
hurt people's eyes; vessels even have run on shore owing to
the obscurity of the atmosphere. It has often fallen on
ships when several hundred, and even more than a thousand
miles from the coast of Africa, and at points sixteen hundred
miles distant in a north and south direction. In some
dust which was collected on a vessel three hundred miles
from the land, I was much surprised to find particles of
stone above the thousandth of an inch square, mixed with
finer matter. After this fact one need not be surprised
at the diffusion of the far lighter and smaller sporules of
cryptogamic plants.

The geology of this island is the most interesting part of
its natural history. On entering the harbour, a perfectly
horizontal white band, in the face of the sea cliff, may be seen
running for some miles along the coast, and at the height of
about forty-five feet above the water. Upon examination
this white stratum is found to consist of calcareous matter
with numerous shells embedded, most or all of which now
exist on the neighbouring coast. It rests on ancient volcanic
rocks, and has been covered by a stream of basalt, which
must have entered the sea when the white shelly bed was
lying at the bottom. It is interesting to trace the changes
produced by the heat of the overlying lava, on the friable
mass, which in parts has been converted into a crystalline
limestone, and in other parts into a compact spotted stone
Where the lime has been caught up by the scoriaceous fragments
of the lower surface of the stream, it is converted into
groups of beautifully radiated fibres resembling arragonite.
The beds of lava rise in successive gently-sloping plains,
towards the interior, whence the deluges of melted stone
have originally proceeded. Within historical times, no signs
of volcanic activity have, I believe, been manifested in any
part of St. Jago. Even the form of a crater can but rarely
be discovered on the summits of the many red cindery hills;
yet the more recent streams can be distinguished on the
coast, forming lines of cliffs of less height, but stretching
out in advance of those belonging to an older series: the
height of the cliffs thus affording a rude measure of the age
of the streams.

During our stay, I observed the habits of some marine
animals. A large Aplysia is very common. This sea-slug
is about five inches long; and is of a dirty yellowish colour
veined with purple. On each side of the lower surface, or
foot, there is a broad membrane, which appears sometimes
to act as a ventilator, in causing a current of water to flow
over the dorsal branchiae or lungs. It feeds on the delicate
sea-weeds which grow among the stones in muddy and shallow
water; and I found in its stomach several small pebbles,
as in the gizzard of a bird. This slug, when disturbed, emits
a very fine purplish-red fluid, which stains the water for the
space of a foot around. Besides this means of defence, an
acrid secretion, which is spread over its body, causes a
sharp, stinging sensation, similar to that produced by the
Physalia, or Portuguese man-of-war.

I was much interested, on several occasions, by watching
the habits of an Octopus, or cuttle-fish. Although common
in the pools of water left by the retiring tide, these animals
were not easily caught. By means of their long arms and
suckers, they could drag their bodies into very narrow crevices;
and when thus fixed, it required great force to remove
them. At other times they darted tail first, with the rapidity
of an arrow, from one side of the pool to the other, at the
same instant discolouring the water with a dark chestnut-brown
ink. These animals also escape detection by a very
extraordinary, chameleon-like power of changing their colour.
They appear to vary their tints according to the nature
of the ground over which they pass: when in deep water,
their general shade was brownish purple, but when placed on
the land, or in shallow water, this dark tint changed into one
of a yellowish green. The colour, examined more carefully,
was a French grey, with numerous minute spots of bright
yellow: the former of these varied in intensity; the latter
entirely disappeared and appeared again by turns. These
changes were effected in such a manner, that clouds, varying
in tint between a hyacinth red and a chestnut-brown, [4] were
continually passing over the body. Any part, being subjected
to a slight shock of galvanism, became almost black: a similar
effect, but in a less degree, was produced by scratching
the skin with a needle. These clouds, or blushes as they may
be called, are said to be produced by the alternate expansion
and contraction of minute vesicles containing variously
coloured fluids. [5]

This cuttle-fish displayed its chameleon-like power both
during the act of swimming and whilst remaining stationary
at the bottom. I was much amused by the various arts to
escape detection used by one individual, which seemed fully
aware that I was watching it. Remaining for a time motionless,
it would then stealthily advance an inch or two, like a
cat after a mouse; sometimes changing its colour: it thus
proceeded, till having gained a deeper part, it darted away,
leaving a dusky train of ink to hide the hole into which it
had crawled.

While looking for marine animals, with my head about
two feet above the rocky shore, I was more than once saluted
by a jet of water, accompanied by a slight grating noise. At
first I could not think what it was, but afterwards I found
out that it was this cuttle-fish, which, though concealed in a
hole, thus often led me to its discovery. That it possesses
the power of ejecting water there is no doubt, and it appeared
to me that it could certainly take good aim by directing the
tube or siphon on the under side of its body. From the
difficulty which these animals have in carrying their heads,
they cannot crawl with ease when placed on the ground. I
observed that one which I kept in the cabin was slightly
phosphorescent in the dark.

ST. PAUL'S ROCKS. -- In crossing the Atlantic we hove-to
during the morning of February 16th, close to the island of
St. Paul's. This cluster of rocks is situated in 0 degs. 58'
north latitude, and 29 degs. 15' west longitude. It is 540
miles distant from the coast of America, and 350 from the island
of Fernando Noronha. The highest point is only fifty feet above
the level of the sea, and the entire circumference is under
three-quarters of a mile. This small point rises abruptly out
of the depths of the ocean. Its mineralogical constitution
is not simple; in some parts the rock is of a cherty, in others
of a felspathic nature, including thin veins of serpentine. It
is a remarkable fact, that all the many small islands, lying
far from any continent, in the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic
Oceans, with the exception of the Seychelles and this little
point of rock, are, I believe, composed either of coral or of
erupted matter. The volcanic nature of these oceanic islands
is evidently an extension of that law, and the effect of those
same causes, whether chemical or mechanical, from which it
results that a vast majority of the volcanoes now in action
stand either near sea-coasts or as islands in the midst of the

The rocks of St. Paul appear from a distance of a brilliantly
white colour. This is partly owing to the dung of a
vast multitude of seafowl, and partly to a coating of a hard
glossy substance with a pearly lustre, which is intimately
united to the surface of the rocks. This, when examined
with a lens, is found to consist of numerous exceedingly
thin layers, its total thickness being about the tenth of an
inch. It contains much animal matter, and its origin, no
doubt, is due to the action of the rain or spray on the birds'
dung. Below some small masses of guano at Ascension, and
on the Abrolhos Islets, I found certain stalactitic branching
bodies, formed apparently in the same manner as the thin
white coating on these rocks. The branching bodies so closely
resembled in general appearance certain nulliporae (a family
of hard calcareous sea-plants), that in lately looking hastily
over my collection I did not perceive the difference. The
globular extremities of the branches are of a pearly texture,
like the enamel of teeth, but so hard as just to scratch plate-
glass. I may here mention, that on a part of the coast of
Ascension, where there is a vast accumulation of shelly sand,
an incrustation is deposited on the tidal rocks by the water
of the sea, resembling, as represented in the woodcut, certain
cryptogamic plants (Marchantiae) often seen on damp
walls. The surface of the fronds is beautifully glossy; and
those parts formed where fully exposed to the light are of a
jet black colour, but those shaded under ledges are only grey.
I have shown specimens of this incrustation to several
geologists, and they all thought that they were of volcanic
or igneous origin! In its hardness and translucency -- in
its polish, equal to that of the finest oliva-shell -- in the
bad smell given out, and loss of colour under the blowpipe -- it
shows a close similarity with living sea-shells. Moreover, in
sea-shells, it is known that the parts habitually covered and
shaded by the mantle of the animal, are of a paler colour
than those fully exposed to the light, just as is the case with
this incrustation. When we remember that lime, either as a
phosphate or carbonate, enters into the composition of the
hard parts, such as bones and shells, of all living animals, it
is an interesting physiological fact [6] to find substances
harder than the enamel of teeth, and coloured surfaces as well
polished as those of a fresh shell, reformed through inorganic
means from dead organic matter -- mocking, also, in
shape, some of the lower vegetable productions.

We found on St. Paul's only two kinds of birds -- the
booby and the noddy. The former is a species of gannet,
and the latter a tern. Both are of a tame and stupid
disposition, and are so unaccustomed to visitors, that I could
have killed any number of them with my geological hammer.
The booby lays her eggs on the bare rock; but the tern makes
a very simple nest with sea-weed. By the side of many of
these nests a small flying-fish was placed; which I suppose,
had been brought by the male bird for its partner. It was
amusing to watch how quickly a large and active crab
(Graspus), which inhabits the crevices of the rock, stole the
fish from the side of the nest, as soon as we had disturbed
the parent birds. Sir W. Symonds, one of the few persons
who have landed here, informs me that he saw the crabs
dragging even the young birds out of their nests, and devouring
them. Not a single plant, not even a lichen, grows
on this islet; yet it is inhabited by several insects and
spiders. The following list completes, I believe, the
terrestrial fauna: a fly (Olfersia) living on the booby, and
a tick which must have come here as a parasite on the birds;
a small brown moth, belonging to a genus that feeds on feathers;
a beetle (Quedius) and a woodlouse from beneath the dung; and
lastly, numerous spiders, which I suppose prey on these small
attendants and scavengers of the water-fowl. The often repeated
description of the stately palm and other noble tropical
plants, then birds, and lastly man, taking possession of
the coral islets as soon as formed, in the Pacific, is probably
not correct; I fear it destroys the poetry of this story, that
feather and dirt-feeding and parasitic insects and spiders
should be the first inhabitants of newly formed oceanic

The smallest rock in the tropical seas, by giving a foundation
for the growth of innumerable kinds of sea-weed and
compound animals, supports likewise a large number of fish.
The sharks and the seamen in the boats maintained a constant
struggle which should secure the greater share of the
prey caught by the fishing-lines. I have heard that a rock
near the Bermudas, lying many miles out at sea, and at a
considerable depth, was first discovered by the circumstance
of fish having been observed in the neighbourhood.

FERNANDO NORONHA, Feb. 20th. -- As far as I was enabled
to observe, during the few hours we stayed at this place, the
constitution of the island is volcanic, but probably not of a
recent date. The most remarkable feature is a conical hill,
about one thousand feet high, the upper part of which is
exceedingly steep, and on one side overhangs its base. The
rock is phonolite, and is divided into irregular columns. On
viewing one of these isolated masses, at first one is inclined
to believe that it has been suddenly pushed up in a semi-fluid
state. At St. Helena, however, I ascertained that some
pinnacles, of a nearly similar figure and constitution, had
been formed by the injection of melted rock into yielding
strata, which thus had formed the moulds for these gigantic
obelisks. The whole island is covered with wood; but from
the dryness of the climate there is no appearance of luxuriance.
Half-way up the mountain, some great masses of the
columnar rock, shaded by laurel-like trees, and ornamented
by others covered with fine pink flowers but without a single
leaf, gave a pleasing effect to the nearer parts of the scenery.

BAHIA, OR SAN SALVADOR. BRAZIL, Feb. 29th. -- The day
has passed delightfully. Delight itself, however, is a weak
term to express the feelings of a naturalist who, for the first
time, has wandered by himself in a Brazilian forest. The
elegance of the grasses, the novelty of the parasitical plants,
the beauty of the flowers, the glossy green of the foliage,
but above all the general luxuriance of the vegetation, filled
me with admiration. A most paradoxical mixture of sound
and silence pervades the shady parts of the wood. The noise
from the insects is so loud, that it may be heard even in a
vessel anchored several hundred yards from the shore; yet
within the recesses of the forest a universal silence appears
to reign. To a person fond of natural history, such a day
as this brings with it a deeper pleasure than he can ever hope
to experience again. After wandering about for some hours,
I returned to the landing-place; but, before reaching it, I
was overtaken by a tropical storm. I tried to find shelter
under a tree, which was so thick that it would never have
been penetrated by common English rain; but here, in a
couple of minutes, a little torrent flowed down the trunk.
It is to this violence of the rain that we must attribute the
verdure at the bottom of the thickest woods: if the showers
were like those of a colder climate, the greater part would
be absorbed or evaporated before it reached the ground. I
will not at present attempt to describe the gaudy scenery
of this noble bay, because, in our homeward voyage, we
called here a second time, and I shall then have occasion to
remark on it.

Along the whole coast of Brazil, for a length of at least
2000 miles, and certainly for a considerable space inland,
wherever solid rock occurs, it belongs to a granitic formation.
The circumstance of this enormous area being constituted of
materials which most geologists believe to have
been crystallized when heated under pressure, gives rise to
many curious reflections. Was this effect produced beneath
the depths of a profound ocean? or did a covering of strata
formerly extend over it, which has since been removed?
Can we believe that any power, acting for a time short of
infinity, could have denuded the granite over so many thousand
square leagues?

On a point not far from the city, where a rivulet entered
the sea, I observed a fact connected with a subject discussed
by Humboldt. [7] At the cataracts of the great rivers
Orinoco, Nile, and Congo, the syenitic rocks are coated by
a black substance, appearing as if they had been polished
with plumbago. The layer is of extreme thinness; and on
analysis by Berzelius it was found to consist of the oxides
of manganese and iron. In the Orinoco it occurs on the
rocks periodically washed by the floods, and in those parts
alone where the stream is rapid; or, as the Indians say, "the
rocks are black where the waters are white." Here the coating
is of a rich brown instead of a black colour, and seems
to be composed of ferruginous matter alone. Hand specimens
fail to give a just idea of these brown burnished stones
which glitter in the sun's rays. They occur only within the
limits of the tidal waves; and as the rivulet slowly trickles
down, the surf must supply the polishing power of the cataracts
in the great rivers. In like manner, the rise and fall
of the tide probably answer to the periodical inundations;
and thus the same effects are produced under apparently different
but really similar circumstances. The origin, however, of
these coatings of metallic oxides, which seem as if
cemented to the rocks, is not understood; and no reason, I
believe, can be assigned for their thickness remaining the

One day I was amused by watching the habits of the
Diodon antennatus, which was caught swimming near the
shore. This fish, with its flabby skin, is well known to possess
the singular power of distending itself into a nearly
spherical form. After having been taken out of water for
a short time, and then again immersed in it, a considerable
quantity both of water and air is absorbed by the mouth,
and perhaps likewise by the branchial orifices. This process
is effected by two methods: the air is swallowed, and is then
forced into the cavity of the body, its return being prevented
by a muscular contraction which is externally visible: but
the water enters in a gentle stream through the mouth,
which is kept wide open and motionless; this latter action
must, therefore, depend on suction. The skin about the
abdomen is much looser than that on the back; hence, during
the inflation, the lower surface becomes far more distended
than the upper; and the fish, in consequence, floats
with its back downwards. Cuvier doubts whether the Diodon
in this position is able to swim; but not only can it thus
move forward in a straight line, but it can turn round to
either side. This latter movement is effected solely by the
aid of the pectoral fins; the tail being collapsed, and not
used. From the body being buoyed up with so much air, the
branchial openings are out of water, but a stream drawn in
by the mouth constantly flows through them.

The fish, having remained in this distended state for a
short time, generally expelled the air and water with
considerable force from the branchial apertures and mouth. It
could emit, at will, a certain portion of the water, and it
appears, therefore, probable that this fluid is taken in partly
for the sake of regulating its specific gravity. This Diodon
possessed several means of defence. It could give a severe
bite, and could eject water from its mouth to some distance,
at the same time making a curious noise by the movement
of its jaws. By the inflation of its body, the papillae, with
which the skin is covered, become erect and pointed. But
the most curious circumstance is, that it secretes from the
skin of its belly, when handled, a most beautiful carmine-red
fibrous matter, which stains ivory and paper in so permanent
a manner that the tint is retained with all its brightness
to the present day: I am quite ignorant of the nature
and use of this secretion. I have heard from Dr. Allan of
Forres, that he has frequently found a Diodon, floating alive
and distended, in the stomach of the shark, and that on
several occasions he has known it eat its way, not only
through the coats of the stomach, but through the sides of
the monster, which has thus been killed. Who would ever
have imagined that a little soft fish could have destroyed
the great and savage shark?

March 18th. -- We sailed from Bahia. A few days afterwards,
when not far distant from the Abrolhos Islets, my;
attention was called to a reddish-brown appearance in the
sea. The whole surface of the water, as it appeared under a
weak lens, seemed as if covered by chopped bits of hay, with
their ends jagged. These are minute cylindrical confervae,
in bundles or rafts of from twenty to sixty in each. Mr.
Berkeley informs me that they are the same species
(Trichodesmium erythraeum) with that found over large spaces
in the Red Sea, and whence its name of Red Sea is derived. [8]
Their numbers must be infinite: the ship passed through
several bands of them, one of which was about ten yards
wide, and, judging from the mud-like colour of the water,
at least two and a half miles long. In almost every long
voyage some account is given of these confervae. They appear
especially common in the sea near Australia; and off
Cape Leeuwin I found an allied but smaller and apparently
different species. Captain Cook, in his third voyage, remarks,
that the sailors gave to this appearance the name of

Near Keeling Atoll, in the Indian Ocean, I observed
many little masses of confervae a few inches square, consisting
of long cylindrical threads of excessive thinness, so as
to be barely visible to the naked eye, mingled with other
rather larger bodies, finely conical at both ends. Two of
these are shown in the woodcut united together. They vary
in length from .04 to .06, and even to .08 of an inch in
length; and in diameter from .006 to .008 of an inch. Near
one extremity of the cylindrical part, a green septum, formed
of granular matter, and thickest in the middle, may generally
be seen. This, I believe, is the bottom of a most delicate,
colourless sac, composed of a pulpy substance, which lines
the exterior case, but does not extend within the extreme
conical points. In some specimens, small but perfect spheres
of brownish granular matter supplied the
places of the septa; and I observed the curious process by
which they were produced. The pulpy matter of the internal
coating suddenly grouped itself into lines, some of which
assumed a form radiating from a common centre; it then
continued, with an irregular and rapid movement, to contract
itself, so that in the course of a second the whole was
united into a perfect little sphere, which occupied the
position of the septum at one end of the now quite hollow case.
The formation of the granular sphere was hastened by any
accidental injury. I may add, that frequently a pair of these
bodies were attached to each other, as represented above,
cone beside cone, at that end where the septum occurs.

I will add here a few other observations connected with
the discoloration of the sea from organic causes. On the
coast of Chile, a few leagues north of Concepcion, the Beagle
one day passed through great bands of muddy water, exactly
like that of a swollen river; and again, a degree south of
Valparaiso, when fifty miles from the land, the same appearance
was still more extensive. Some of the water placed
in a glass was of a pale reddish tint; and, examined under
a microscope, was seen to swarm with minute animalcula
darting about, and often exploding. Their shape is oval,
and contracted in the middle by a ring of vibrating curved
ciliae. It was, however, very difficult to examine them with
care, for almost the instant motion ceased, even while crossing
the field of vision, their bodies burst. Sometimes both
ends burst at once, sometimes only one, and a quantity of
coarse, brownish, granular matter was ejected. The animal
an instant before bursting expanded to half again its natural
size; and the explosion took place about fifteen seconds
after the rapid progressive motion had ceased: in a few
cases it was preceded for a short interval by a rotatory
movement on the longer axis. About two minutes after any
number were isolated in a drop of water, they thus perished.
The animals move with the narrow apex forwards, by the
aid of their vibratory ciliae, and generally by rapid starts.
They are exceedingly minute, and quite invisible to the
naked eye, only covering a space equal to the square of the
thousandth of an inch. Their numbers were infinite; for
the smallest drop of water which I could remove contained
very many. In one day we passed through two spaces of
water thus stained, one of which alone must have extended
over several square miles. What incalculable numbers of
these microscopical animals! The colour of the water, as
seen at some distance, was like that of a river which has
flowed through a red clay district, but under the shade of
the vessel's side it was quite as dark as chocolate. The line
where the red and blue water joined was distinctly defined.
The weather for some days previously had been calm, and the
ocean abounded, to an unusual degree, with living creatures. [9]

In the sea around Tierra del Fuego, and at no great distance
from the land, I have seen narrow lines of water of a
bright red colour, from the number of crustacea, which
somewhat resemble in form large prawns. The sealers call
them whale-food. Whether whales feed on them I do not
know; but terns, cormorants, and immense herds of great
unwieldy seals derive, on some parts of the coast, their
chief sustenance from these swimming crabs. Seamen
invariably attribute the discoloration of the water to spawn;
but I found this to be the case only on one occasion. At
the distance of several leagues from the Archipelago of the
Galapagos, the ship sailed through three strips of a dark
yellowish, or mud-like water; these strips were some miles
long, but only a few yards wide, and they were separated
from the surrounding water by a sinuous yet distinct margin.
The colour was caused by little gelatinous balls, about
the fifth of an inch in diameter, in which numerous minute
spherical ovules were imbedded: they were of two distinct
kinds, one being of a reddish colour and of a different shape
from the other. I cannot form a conjecture as to what two
kinds of animals these belonged. Captain Colnett remarks,
that this appearance is very common among the Galapagos
Islands, and that the directions of the bands indicate that
of the currents; in the described case, however, the line was
caused by the wind. The only other appearance which I
have to notice, is a thin oily coat on the water which displays
iridescent colours. I saw a considerable tract of the
ocean thus covered on the coast of Brazil; the seamen
attributed it to the putrefying carcase of some whale, which
probably was floating at no great distance. I do not here
mention the minute gelatinous particles, hereafter to be
referred to, which are frequently dispersed throughout the
water, for they are not sufficiently abundant to create any
change of colour.

There are two circumstances in the above accounts which
appear remarkable: first, how do the various bodies which
form the bands with defined edges keep together? In the
case of the prawn-like crabs, their movements were as
co-instantaneous as in a regiment of soldiers; but this cannot
happen from anything like voluntary action with the ovules,
or the confervae, nor is it probable among the infusoria.
Secondly, what causes the length and narrowness of the
bands? The appearance so much resembles that which may
be seen in every torrent, where the stream uncoils into long
streaks the froth collected in the eddies, that I must attribute
the effect to a similar action either of the currents of the
air or sea. Under this supposition we must believe that the
various organized bodies are produced in certain favourable
places, and are thence removed by the set of either wind
or water. I confess, however, there is a very great difficulty
in imagining any one spot to be the birthplace of the millions
of millions of animalcula and confervae: for whence come
the germs at such points? -- the parent bodies having been
distributed by the winds and waves over the immense ocean.
But on no other hypothesis can I understand their linear
grouping. I may add that Scoresby remarks that green
water abounding with pelagic animals is invariably found
in a certain part of the Arctic Sea.

[1] I state this on the authority of Dr. E. Dieffenbach, in his
German translation of the first edition of this Journal.

[2] The Cape de Verd Islands were discovered in 1449. There was
a tombstone of a bishop with the date of 1571; and a crest of a
hand and dagger, dated 1497.

[3] I must take this opportunity of acknowledging the great
kindness with which this illustrious naturalist has examined
many of my specimens. I have sent (June, 1845) a full account
of the falling of this dust to the Geological Society.

[4] So named according to Patrick Symes's nomenclature.

[5] See Encyclop. of Anat. and Physiol., article Cephalopoda

[6] Mr. Horner and Sir David Brewster have described
(Philosophical Transactions, 1836, p. 65) a singular
"artificial substance resembling shell." It is deposited in
fine, transparent, highly polished, brown-coloured laminae,
possessing peculiar optical properties, on the inside of a
vessel, in which cloth, first prepared with glue and then
with lime, is made to revolve rapidly in water. It is much
softer, more transparent, and contains more animal matter,
than the natural incrustation at Ascension; but we here
again see the strong tendency which carbonate of lime and
animal matter evince to form a solid substance allied to

[7] Pers. Narr., vol. v., pt. 1., p. 18.

[8] M. Montagne, in Comptes Rendus, etc., Juillet, 1844; and
Annal. des Scienc. Nat., Dec. 1844

[9] M. Lesson (Voyage de la Coquille, tom. i., p. 255) mentions
red water off Lima, apparently produced by the same cause.
Peron, the distinguished naturalist, in the Voyage aux Terres
Australes, gives no less than twelve references to voyagers
who have alluded to the discoloured waters of the sea (vol.
ii. p. 239). To the references given by Peron may be added,
Humboldt's Pers. Narr., vol. vi. p. 804; Flinder's Voyage,
vol. i. p. 92; Labillardiere, vol. i. p. 287; Ulloa's Voyage;
Voyage of the Astrolabe and of the Coquille; Captain King's
Survey of Australia, etc.



Rio de Janeiro -- Excursion north of Cape Frio -- Great
Evaporation -- Slavery -- Botofogo Bay -- Terrestrial
Planariae -- Clouds on the Corcovado -- Heavy Rain -- Musical
Frogs -- Phosphorescent Insects -- Elater, springing powers
of -- Blue Haze -- Noise made by a Butterfly -- Entomology --
Ants -- Wasp killing a Spider -- Parasitical Spider --
Artifices of an Epeira -- Gregarious Spider -- Spider with
an unsymmetrical Web.

APRIL 4th to July 5th, 1832. -- A few days after our
arrival I became acquainted with an Englishman who
was going to visit his estate, situated rather more
than a hundred miles from the capital, to the northward of
Cape Frio. I gladly accepted his kind offer of allowing me
to accompany him.

April 8th. -- Our party amounted to seven. The first stage
was very interesting. The day was powerfully hot, and as
we passed through the woods, everything was motionless,
excepting the large and brilliant butterflies, which lazily
fluttered about. The view seen when crossing the hills
behind Praia Grande was most beautiful; the colours were
intense, and the prevailing tint a dark blue; the sky and the
calm waters of the bay vied with each other in splendour.
After passing through some cultivated country, we entered
a forest, which in the grandeur of all its parts could not be
exceeded. We arrived by midday at Ithacaia; this small
village is situated on a plain, and round the central house
are the huts of the negroes. These, from their regular form
and position, reminded me of the drawings of the Hottentot
habitations in Southern Africa. As the moon rose early, we
determined to start the same evening for our sleeping-place
at the Lagoa Marica. As it was growing dark we passed
under one of the massive, bare, and steep hills of granite
which are so common in this country. This spot is notorious
from having been, for a long time, the residence of some
runaway slaves, who, by cultivating a little ground near the
top, contrived to eke out a subsistence. At length they were
discovered, and a party of soldiers being sent, the whole
were seized with the exception of one old woman, who,
sooner than again be led into slavery, dashed herself to
pieces from the summit of the mountain. In a Roman
matron this would have been called the noble love of freedom:
in a poor negress it is mere brutal obstinacy. We
continued riding for some hours. For the few last miles the
road was intricate, and it passed through a desert waste of
marshes and lagoons. The scene by the dimmed light of the
moon was most desolate. A few fireflies flitted by us; and
the solitary snipe, as it rose, uttered its plaintive cry. The
distant and sullen roar of the sea scarcely broke the stillness
of the night.

April 9th. -- We left our miserable sleeping-place before
sunrise. The road passed through a narrow sandy plain,
lying between the sea and the interior salt lagoons. The
number of beautiful fishing birds, such as egrets and cranes,
and the succulent plants assuming most fantastical forms,
gave to the scene an interest which it would not otherwise
have possessed. The few stunted trees were loaded with
parasitical plants, among which the beauty and delicious
fragrance of some of the orchideae were most to be admired.
As the sun rose, the day became extremely hot, and the
reflection of the light and heat from the white sand was very
distressing. We dined at Mandetiba; the thermometer in
the shade being 84 degs. The beautiful view of the distant
wooded hills, reflected in the perfectly calm water of an
extensive lagoon, quite refreshed us. As the venda [1] here
was a very good one, and I have the pleasant, but rare
remembrance, of an excellent dinner, I will be grateful and
presently describe it, as the type of its class. These houses
are often large, and are built of thick upright posts, with
boughs interwoven, and afterwards plastered. They seldom
have floors, and never glazed windows; but are generally
pretty well roofed. Universally the front part is open, forming
a kind of verandah, in which tables and benches are
placed. The bed-rooms join on each side, and here the passenger
may sleep as comfortably as he can, on a wooden
platform, covered by a thin straw mat. The venda stands
in a courtyard, where the horses are fed. On first arriving
it was our custom to unsaddle the horses and give them
their Indian corn; then, with a low bow, to ask the senhor
to do us the favour to give up something to eat. "Anything
you choose, sir," was his usual answer. For the few first
times, vainly I thanked providence for having guided us
to so good a man. The conversation proceeding, the case
universally became deplorable. "Any fish can you do us the
favour of giving ?" -- "Oh! no, sir." -- "Any soup?" -- "No,
sir." -- "Any bread?" -- "Oh! no, sir." -- "Any dried meat?"
-- "Oh! no, sir." If we were lucky, by waiting a couple of
hours, we obtained fowls, rice, and farinha. It not unfrequently
happened, that we were obliged to kill, with stones,
the poultry for our own supper. When, thoroughly exhausted
by fatigue and hunger, we timorously hinted that we should
be glad of our meal, the pompous, and (though true) most
unsatisfactory answer was, "It will be ready when it is
ready." If we had dared to remonstrate any further, we
should have been told to proceed on our journey, as being
too impertinent. The hosts are most ungracious and disagreeable
in their manners; their houses and their persons
are often filthily dirty; the want of the accommodation of
forks, knives, and spoons is common; and I am sure no cottage
or hovel in England could be found in a state so utterly
destitute of every comfort. At Campos Novos, however, we
fared sumptuously; having rice and fowls, biscuit, wine, and
spirits, for dinner; coffee in the evening, and fish with coffee
for breakfast. All this, with good food for the horses, only
cost 2s. 6d. per head. Yet the host of this venda, being
asked if he knew anything of a whip which one of the party
had lost, gruffly answered, "How should I know? why did
you not take care of it? -- I suppose the dogs have eaten it."

Leaving Mandetiba, we continued to pass through an intricate
wilderness of lakes; in some of which were fresh,
in others salt water shells. Of the former kinds, I found
a Limnaea in great numbers in a lake, into which, the inhabitants
assured me that the sea enters once a year, and
sometimes oftener, and makes the water quite salt. I have
no doubt many interesting facts, in relation to marine and
fresh water animals, might be observed in this chain of
lagoons, which skirt the coast of Brazil. M. Gay [2] has
stated that he found in the neighbourhood of Rio, shells of
the marine genera solen and mytilus, and fresh water ampullariae,
living together in brackish water. I also frequently
observed in the lagoon near the Botanic Garden, where the
water is only a little less salt than in the sea, a species of
hydrophilus, very similar to a water-beetle common in the
ditches of England: in the same lake the only shell belonged
to a genus generally found in estuaries.

Leaving the coast for a time, we again entered the forest.
The trees were very lofty, and remarkable, compared with
those of Europe, from the whiteness of their trunks. I see
by my note-book, "wonderful and beautiful, flowering parasites,"
invariably struck me as the most novel object in these
grand scenes. Travelling onwards we passed through tracts
of pasturage, much injured by the enormous conical ants'
nests, which were nearly twelve feet high. They gave to the
plain exactly the appearance of the mud volcanos at Jorullo,
as figured by Humboldt. We arrived at Engenhodo after it
was dark, having been ten hours on horseback. I never
ceased, during the whole journey, to be surprised at the
amount of labour which the horses were capable of enduring;
they appeared also to recover from any injury much
sooner than those of our English breed. The Vampire bat
is often the cause of much trouble, by biting the horses on
their withers. The injury is generally not so much owing
to the loss of blood, as to the inflammation which the pressure
of the saddle afterwards produces. The whole circumstance
has lately been doubted in England; I was therefore
fortunate in being present when one (Desmodus d'orbignyi,
Wat.) was actually caught on a horse's back. We were
bivouacking late one evening near Coquimbo, in Chile, when
my servant, noticing that one of the horses was very restive,
went to see what was the matter, and fancying he could
distinguish something, suddenly put his hand on the beast's
withers, and secured the vampire. In the morning the spot
where the bite had been inflicted was easily distinguished
from being slightly swollen and bloody. The third day
afterwards we rode the horse, without any ill effects.

April 13th. -- After three days' travelling we arrived at
Socego, the estate of Senhor Manuel Figuireda, a relation
of one of our party. The house was simple, and, though like
a barn in form, was well suited to the climate. In the sitting-
room gilded chairs and sofas were oddly contrasted with the
whitewashed walls, thatched roof, and windows without
glass. The house, together with the granaries, the stables,
and workshops for the blacks, who had been taught various
trades, formed a rude kind of quadrangle; in the centre
of which a large pile of coffee was drying. These buildings
stand on a little hill, overlooking the cultivated ground, and
surrounded on every side by a wall of dark green luxuriant
forest. The chief produce of this part of the country is
coffee. Each tree is supposed to yield annually, on an average,
two pounds; but some give as much as eight. Mandioca
or cassada is likewise cultivated in great quantity. Every
part of this plant is useful; the leaves and stalks are eaten
by the horses, and the roots are ground into a pulp, which,
when pressed dry and baked, forms the farinha, the principal
article of sustenance in the Brazils. It is a curious,
though well-known fact, that the juice of this most nutritious
plant is highly poisonous. A few years ago a cow died at
this Fazenda, in consequence of having drunk some of it.
Senhor Figuireda told me that he had planted, the year before,
one bag of feijao or beans, and three of rice; the
former of which produced eighty, and the latter three hundred
and twenty fold. The pasturage supports a fine stock
of cattle, and the woods are so full of game that a deer had
been killed on each of the three previous days. This profusion
of food showed itself at dinner, where, if the tables did
not groan, the guests surely did; for each person is expected
to eat of every dish. One day, having, as I thought, nicely
calculated so that nothing should go away untasted, to my
utter dismay a roast turkey and a pig appeared in all their
substantial reality. During the meals, it was the employment
of a man to drive out of the room sundry old hounds,
and dozens of little black children, which crawled in together,
at every opportunity. As long as the idea of slavery could be
banished, there was something exceedingly fascinating in
this simple and patriarchal style of living: it was such a
perfect retirement and independence from the rest of the

As soon as any stranger is seen arriving, a large bell is set
tolling, and generally some small cannon are fired. The
event is thus announced to the rocks and woods, but to nothing
else. One morning I walked out an hour before daylight
to admire the solemn stillness of the scene; at last, the
silence was broken by the morning hymn, raised on high by the
whole body of the blacks; and in this manner their daily
work is generally begun. On such fazendas as these, I have
no doubt the slaves pass happy and contented lives. On
Saturday and Sunday they work for themselves, and in this
fertile climate the labour of two days is sufficient to support
a man and his family for the whole week.

April 14th. -- Leaving Socego, we rode to another estate on
the Rio Macae, which was the last patch of cultivated ground
in that direction. The estate was two and a half miles long,
and the owner had forgotten how many broad. Only a very
small piece had been cleared, yet almost every acre was
capable of yielding all the various rich productions of a tropical
land. Considering the enormous area of Brazil, the proportion
of cultivated ground can scarcely be considered as
anything, compared to that which is left in the state of
nature: at some future age, how vast a population it will
support! During the second day's journey we found the
road so shut up, that it was necessary that a man should go
ahead with a sword to cut away the creepers. The forest
abounded with beautiful objects; among which the tree ferns,
though not large, were, from their bright green foliage, and
the elegant curvature of their fronds, most worthy of admiration.
In the evening it rained very heavily, and although the
thermometer stood at 65 degs., I felt very cold. As soon as
the rain ceased, it was curious to observe the extraordinary
evaporation which commenced over the whole extent of the
forest. At the height of a hundred feet the hills were buried
in a dense white vapour, which rose like columns of smoke
from the most thickly wooded parts, and especially from the
valleys. I observed this phenomenon on several occasions.
I suppose it is owing to the large surface of foliage, previously
heated by the sun's rays.

While staying at this estate, I was very nearly being an
eye-witness to one of those atrocious acts which can only
take place in a slave country. Owing to a quarrel and a
lawsuit, the owner was on the point of taking all the women
and children from the male slaves, and selling them separately
at the public auction at Rio. Interest, and not any
feeling of compassion, prevented this act. Indeed, I do not
believe the inhumanity of separating thirty families, who
had lived together for many years, even occurred to the
owner. Yet I will pledge myself, that in humanity and
good feeling he was superior to the common run of men.
It may be said there exists no limit to the blindness of interest
and selfish habit. I may mention one very trifling anecdote,
which at the time struck me more forcibly than any
story of cruelty. I was crossing a ferry with a negro, who
was uncommonly stupid. In endeavouring to make him
understand, I talked loud, and made signs, in doing which I
passed my hand near his face. He, I suppose, thought I was
in a passion, and was going to strike him; for instantly,
with a frightened look and half-shut eyes, he dropped his
hands. I shall never forget my feelings of surprise, disgust,
and shame, at seeing a great powerful man afraid even to
ward off a blow, directed, as he thought, at his face. This
man had been trained to a degradation lower than the
slavery of the most helpless animal.

April 18th. -- In returning we spent two days at Socego,
and I employed them in collecting insects in the forest. The
greater number of trees, although so lofty, are not more
than three or four feet in circumference. There are, of
course, a few of much greater dimensions. Senhor Manuel
was then making a canoe 70 feet in length from a solid trunk,
which had originally been 110 feet long, and of great thickness.
The contrast of palm trees, growing amidst the common
branching kinds, never fails to give the scene an intertropical
character. Here the woods were ornamented by the
Cabbage Palm -- one of the most beautiful of its family. With
a stem so narrow that it might be clasped with the two
hands, it waves its elegant head at the height of forty or
fifty feet above the ground. The woody creepers, themselves
covered by other creepers, were of great thickness: some
which I measured were two feet in circumference. Many of
the older trees presented a very curious appearance from
the tresses of a liana hanging from their boughs, and resembling
bundles of hay. If the eye was turned from the world
of foliage above, to the ground beneath, it was attracted by
the extreme elegance of the leaves of the ferns and mimosae.
The latter, in some parts, covered the surface with a brushwood
only a few inches high. In walking across these thick
beds of mimosae, a broad track was marked by the change
of shade, produced by the drooping of their sensitive petioles.
It is easy to specify the individual objects of admiration in
these grand scenes; but it is not possible to give an adequate
idea of the higher feelings of wonder, astonishment, and
devotion, which fill and elevate the mind.

April 19th.--Leaving Socego, during the two first days,
we retraced our steps. It was very wearisome work, as the
road generally ran across a glaring hot sandy plain, not
far from the coast. I noticed that each time the horse put
its foot on the fine siliceous sand, a gentle chirping noise
was produced. On the third day we took a different line,
and passed through the gay little village of Madre de Deos.
This is one of the principal lines of road in Brazil; yet it
was in so bad a state that no wheeled vehicle, excepting the
clumsy bullock-wagon, could pass along. In our whole journey
we did not cross a single bridge built of stone; and
those made of logs of wood were frequently so much out of
repair, that it was necessary to go on one side to avoid them.
All distances are inaccurately known. The road is often
marked by crosses, in the place of milestones, to signify
where human blood has been spilled. On the evening of the
23rd we arrived at Rio, having finished our pleasant little

During the remainder of my stay at Rio, I resided in a
cottage at Botofogo Bay. It was impossible to wish for
anything more delightful than thus to spend some weeks
in so magnificent a country. In England any person fond
of natural history enjoys in his walks a great advantage, by
always having something to attract his attention; but in
these fertile climates, teeming with life, the attractions are
so numerous, that he is scarcely able to walk at all.

The few observations which I was enabled to make were
almost exclusively confined to the invertebrate animals. The
existence of a division of the genus Planaria, which inhabits
the dry land, interested me much. These animals are of so
simple a structure, that Cuvier has arranged them with the
intestinal worms, though never found within the bodies of
other animals. Numerous species inhabit both salt and fresh
water; but those to which I allude were found, even in the
drier parts of the forest, beneath logs of rotten wood, on
which I believe they feed. In general form they resemble
little slugs, but are very much narrower in proportion, and
several of the species are beautifully coloured with
longitudinal stripes. Their structure is very simple: near the
middle of the under or crawling surface there are two small
transverse slits, from the anterior one of which a funnel-
shaped and highly irritable mouth can be protruded. For
some time after the rest of the animal was completely dead
from the effects of salt water or any other cause, this organ
still retained its vitality.

I found no less than twelve different species of terrestrial
Planariae in different parts of the southern hemisphere. [3]
Some specimens which I obtained at Van Dieman's Land,
I kept alive for nearly two months, feeding them on rotten
wood. Having cut one of them transversely into two nearly
equal parts, in the course of a fortnight both had the shape
of perfect animals. I had, however, so divided the body,
that one of the halves contained both the inferior orifices,
and the other, in consequence, none. In the course of twenty-
five days from the operation, the more perfect half could
not have been distinguished from any other specimen. The
other had increased much in size; and towards its posterior
end, a clear space was formed in the parenchymatous mass,
in which a rudimentary cup-shaped mouth could clearly be
distinguished; on the under surface, however, no corresponding
slit was yet open. If the increased heat of the weather,
as we approached the equator, had not destroyed all the
individuals, there can be no doubt that this last step would
have completed its structure. Although so well-known an
experiment, it was interesting to watch the gradual production
of every essential organ, out of the simple extremity
of another animal. It is extremely difficult to preserve these
Planariae; as soon as the cessation of life allows the ordinary
laws of change to act, their entire bodies become soft
and fluid, with a rapidity which I have never seen equalled.

I first visited the forest in which these Planariae were
found, in company with an old Portuguese priest who took
me out to hunt with him. The sport consisted in turning
into the cover a few dogs, and then patiently waiting to fire
at any animal which might appear. We were accompanied
by the son of a neighbouring farmer -- a good specimen of
a wild Brazilian youth. He was dressed in a tattered old
shirt and trousers, and had his head uncovered: he carried
an old-fashioned gun and a large knife. The habit of carrying
the knife is universal; and in traversing a thick wood
it is almost necessary, on account of the creeping plants.
The frequent occurrence of murder may be partly attributed
to this habit. The Brazilians are so dexterous with the
knife, that they can throw it to some distance with precision,
and with sufficient force to cause a fatal wound. I have seen
a number of little boys practising this art as a game of play
and from their skill in hitting an upright stick, they promised
well for more earnest attempts. My companion, the day
before, had shot two large bearded monkeys. These animals
have prehensile tails, the extremity of which, even after
death, can support the whole weight of the body. One of
them thus remained fast to a branch, and it was necessary
to cut down a large tree to procure it. This was soon effected,
and down came tree and monkey with an awful crash. Our
day's sport, besides the monkey, was confined to sundry small
green parrots and a few toucans. I profited, however, by my
acquaintance with the Portuguese padre, for on another
occasion he gave me a fine specimen of the Yagouaroundi

Every one has heard of the beauty of the scenery near
Botofogo. The house in which I lived was seated close
beneath the well-known mountain of the Corcovado. It has
been remarked, with much truth, that abruptly conical hills
are characteristic of the formation which Humboldt designates
as gneiss-granite. Nothing can be more striking than
the effect of these huge rounded masses of naked rock rising
out of the most luxuriant vegetation.

I was often interested by watching the clouds, which,
rolling in from seaward, formed a bank just beneath the
highest point of the Corcovado. This mountain, like most
others, when thus partly veiled, appeared to rise to a far
prouder elevation than its real height of 2300 feet. Mr.
Daniell has observed, in his meteorological essays, that a
cloud sometimes appears fixed on a mountain summit, while
the wind continues to blow over it. The same phenomenon
here presented a slightly different appearance. In this case
the cloud was clearly seen to curl over, and rapidly pass
by the summit, and yet was neither diminished nor increased
in size. The sun was setting, and a gentle southerly breeze,
striking against the southern side of the rock, mingled its
current with the colder air above; and the vapour was thus
condensed; but as the light wreaths of cloud passed over
the ridge, and came within the influence of the warmer
atmosphere of the northern sloping bank, they were immediately

The climate, during the months of May and June, or the
beginning of winter, was delightful. The mean temperature,
from observations taken at nine o'clock, both morning
and evening, was only 72 degs. It often rained heavily, but
the drying southerly winds soon again rendered the walks
pleasant. One morning, in the course of six hours, 1.6 inches
of rain fell. As this storm passed over the forests which
surround the Corcovado, the sound produced by the drops
pattering on the countless multitude of leaves was very
remarkable, it could be heard at the distance of a quarter of
a mile, and was like the rushing of a great body of water.
After the hotter days, it was delicious to sit quietly in the
garden and watch the evening pass into night. Nature, in
these climes, chooses her vocalists from more humble performers
than in Europe. A small frog, of the genus Hyla,
sits on a blade of grass about an inch above the surface of
the water, and sends forth a pleasing chirp: when several
are together they sing in harmony on different notes. I had
some difficulty in catching a specimen of this frog. The
genus Hyla has its toes terminated by small suckers; and I
found this animal could crawl up a pane of glass, when
placed absolutely perpendicular. Various cicidae and crickets,
at the same time, keep up a ceaseless shrill cry, but which,
softened by the distance, is not unpleasant. Every evening
after dark this great concert commenced; and often have I
sat listening to it, until my attention has been drawn away
by some curious passing insect.

At these times the fireflies are seen flitting about from
hedge to hedge. On a dark night the light can be seen at
about two hundred paces distant. It is remarkable that in
all the different kinds of glowworms, shining elaters, and
various marine animals (such as the crustacea, medusae,
nereidae, a coralline of the genus Clytia, and Pyrosma),
which I have observed, the light has been of a well-marked
green colour. All the fireflies, which I caught here, belonged
to the Lampyridae (in which family the English glowworm
is included), and the greater number of specimens were of
Lampyris occidentalis. [4] I found that this insect emitted
the most brilliant flashes when irritated: in the intervals,
the abdominal rings were obscured. The flash was almost
co-instantaneous in the two rings, but it was just perceptible
first in the anterior one. The shining matter was fluid and
very adhesive: little spots, where the skin had been torn,
continued bright with a slight scintillation, whilst the
uninjured parts were obscured. When the insect was decapitated
the rings remained uninterruptedly bright, but not so brilliant
as before: local irritation with a needle always increased
the vividness of the light. The rings in one instance retained
their luminous property nearly twenty-four hours after the
death of the insect. From these facts it would appear probable,
that the animal has only the power of concealing or
extinguishing the light for short intervals, and that at other
times the display is involuntary. On the muddy and wet
gravel-walks I found the larvae of this lampyris in great
numbers: they resembled in general form the female of the
English glowworm. These larvae possessed but feeble luminous
powers; very differently from their parents, on the
slightest touch they feigned death and ceased to shine; nor
did irritation excite any fresh display. I kept several of
them alive for some time: their tails are very singular organs,
for they act, by a well-fitted contrivance, as suckers or organs
of attachment, and likewise as reservoirs for saliva, or some
such fluid. I repeatedly fed them on raw meat; and I invariably
observed, that every now and then the extremity
of the tail was applied to the mouth, and a drop of fluid
exuded on the meat, which was then in the act of being consumed.
The tail, notwithstanding so much practice, does not
seem to be able to find its way to the mouth; at least the neck
was always touched first, and apparently as a guide.

When we were at Bahia, an elater or beetle (Pyrophorus
luminosus, Illig.) seemed the most common luminous insect.
The light in this case was also rendered more brilliant by
irritation. I amused myself one day by observing the springing
powers of this insect, which have not, as it appears to
me, been properly described. [5] The elater, when placed on
its back and preparing to spring, moved its head and thorax
backwards, so that the pectoral spine was drawn out, and
rested on the edge of its sheath. The same backward movement
being continued, the spine, by the full action of the
muscles, was bent like a spring; and the insect at this moment
rested on the extremity of its head and wing-cases.
The effort being suddenly relaxed, the head and thorax flew
up, and in consequence, the base of the wing-cases struck
the supporting surface with such force, that the insect by
the reaction was jerked upwards to the height of one or
two inches. The projecting points of the thorax, and the
sheath of the spine, served to steady the whole body during
the spring. In the descriptions which I have read, sufficient
stress does not appear to have been laid on the elasticity of
the spine: so sudden a spring could not be the result of simple
muscular contraction, without the aid of some mechanical

On several occasions I enjoyed some short but most pleasant
excursions in the neighbouring country. One day I went
to the Botanic Garden, where many plants, well known for
their great utility, might be seen growing. The leaves of the
camphor, pepper, cinnamon, and clove trees were delightfully
aromatic; and the bread-fruit, the jaca, and the mango,
vied with each other in the magnificence of their foliage.
The landscape in the neighbourhood of Bahia almost takes
its character from the two latter trees. Before seeing them,
I had no idea that any trees could cast so black a shade on
the ground. Both of them bear to the evergreen vegetation
of these climates the same kind of relation which laurels
and hollies in England do to the lighter green of the deciduous
trees. It may be observed, that the houses within the
tropics are surrounded by the most beautiful forms of
vegetation, because many of them are at the same time most
useful to man. Who can doubt that these qualities are united
in the banana, the cocoa-nut, the many kinds of palm, the
orange, and the bread-fruit tree?

During this day I was particularly struck with a remark
of Humboldt's, who often alludes to "the thin vapour which,
without changing the transparency of the air, renders its
tints more harmonious, and softens its effects." This is an
appearance which I have never observed in the temperate
zones. The atmosphere, seen through a short space of half
or three-quarters of a mile, was perfectly lucid, but at a
greater distance all colours were blended into a most beautiful
haze, of a pale French grey, mingled with a little blue.
The condition of the atmosphere between the morning and
about noon, when the effect was most evident, had undergone
little change, excepting in its dryness. In the interval,
the difference between the dew point and temperature had
increased from 7.5 to 17 degs.

On another occasion I started early and walked to the
Gavia, or topsail mountain. The air was delightfully cool
and fragrant; and the drops of dew still glittered on the
leaves of the large liliaceous plants, which shaded the
streamlets of clear water. Sitting down on a block of granite,
it was delightful to watch the various insects and birds as
they flew past. The humming-bird seems particularly fond of
such shady retired spots. Whenever I saw these little creatures
buzzing round a flower, with their wings vibrating so
rapidly as to be scarcely visible, I was reminded of the
sphinx moths: their movements and habits are indeed in
many respects very similar.

Following a pathway, I entered a noble forest, and from
a height of five or six hundred feet, one of those splendid
views was presented, which are so common on every side
of Rio. At this elevation the landscape attains its most
brilliant tint; and every form, every shade, so completely
surpasses in magnificence all that the European has ever
beheld in his own country, that he knows not how to express
his feelings. The general effect frequently recalled
to my mind the gayest scenery of the Opera-house or the
great theatres. I never returned from these excursions
empty-handed. This day I found a specimen of a curious
fungus, called Hymenophallus. Most people know the English
Phallus, which in autumn taints the air with its odious
smell: this, however, as the entomologist is aware, is, to
some of our beetles a delightful fragrance. So was it here;
for a Strongylus, attracted by the odour, alighted on the
fungus as I carried it in my hand. We here see in two distant
countries a similar relation between plants and insects of the
same families, though the species of both are different. When
man is the agent in introducing into a country a new species,
this relation is often broken: as one instance of this I may
mention, that the leaves of the cabbages and lettuces, which
in England afford food to such a multitude of slugs and
caterpillars, in the gardens near Rio are untouched.

During our stay at Brazil I made a large collection of
insects. A few general observations on the comparative
importance of the different orders may be interesting to the
English entomologist. The large and brilliantly coloured
Lepidoptera bespeak the zone they inhabit, far more plainly
than any other race of animals. I allude only to the
butterflies; for the moths, contrary to what might have been
expected from the rankness of the vegetation, certainly
appeared in much fewer numbers than in our own temperate
regions. I was much surprised at the habits of Papilio
feronia. This butterfly is not uncommon, and generally
frequents the orange-groves. Although a high flier, yet
it very frequently alights on the trunks of trees. On these
occasions its head is invariably placed downwards; and its
wings are expanded in a horizontal plane, instead of being
folded vertically, as is commonly the case. This is the only
butterfly which I have ever seen, that uses its legs for running.
Not being aware of this fact, the insect, more than once, as I
cautiously approached with my forceps, shuffled on one side
just as the instrument was on the point of closing, and thus
escaped. But a far more singular fact is the power which
this species possesses of making a noise. [6] Several times when
a pair, probably male and female, were chasing each other
in an irregular course, they passed within a few yards of me;
and I distinctly heard a clicking noise, similar to that
produced by a toothed wheel passing under a spring catch. The
noise was continued at short intervals, and could be
distinguished at about twenty yards' distance: I am certain
there is no error in the observation.

I was disappointed in the general aspect of the Coleoptera.
The number of minute and obscurely coloured beetles
is exceedingly great. [7] The cabinets of Europe can, as yet,
boast only of the larger species from tropical climates. It
is sufficient to disturb the composure of an entomologist's
mind, to look forward to the future dimensions of a complete
catalogue. The carnivorous beetles, or Carabidae, appear
in extremely few numbers within the tropics: this is
the more remarkable when compared to the case of the
carnivorous quadrupeds, which are so abundant in hot
countries. I was struck with this observation both on entering
Brazil, and when I saw the many elegant and active forms
of the Harpalidae re-appearing on the temperate plains of
La Plata. Do the very numerous spiders and rapacious
Hymenoptera supply the place of the carnivorous beetles?
The carrion-feeders and Brachelytra are very uncommon;
on the other hand, the Rhyncophora and Chrysomelidae, all
of which depend on the vegetable world for subsistence, are
present in astonishing numbers. I do not here refer to the
number of different species, but to that of the individual
insects; for on this it is that the most striking character in
the entomology of different countries depends. The orders
Orthoptera and Hemiptera are particularly numerous; as
likewise is the stinging division of the Hymenoptera the bees,
perhaps, being excepted. A person, on first entering a tropical
forest, is astonished at the labours of the ants: well-beaten
paths branch off in every direction, on which an army
of never-failing foragers may be seen, some going forth, and
others returning, burdened with pieces of green leaf, often
larger than their own bodies.

A small dark-coloured ant sometimes migrates in countless
numbers. One day, at Bahia, my attention was drawn
by observing many spiders, cockroaches, and other insects,
and some lizards, rushing in the greatest agitation across
a bare piece of ground. A little way behind, every stalk and
leaf was blackened by a small ant. The swarm having
crossed the bare space, divided itself, and descended an old
wall. By this means many insects were fairly enclosed; and
the efforts which the poor little creatures made to extricate
themselves from such a death were wonderful. When the
ants came to the road they changed their course, and in
narrow files reascended the wall. Having placed a small
stone so as to intercept one of the lines, the whole body
attacked it, and then immediately retired. Shortly afterwards
another body came to the charge, and again having failed
to make any impression, this line of march was entirely
given up. By going an inch round, the file might have
avoided the stone, and this doubtless would have happened,
if it had been originally there: but having been attacked, the
lion-hearted little warriors scorned the idea of yielding.

Certain wasp-like insects, which construct in the corners
of the verandahs clay cells for their larvae, are very numerous
in the neighbourhood of Rio. These cells they stuff full
of half-dead spiders and caterpillars, which they seem
wonderfully to know how to sting to that degree as to leave
them paralysed but alive, until their eggs are hatched; and
the larvae feed on the horrid mass of powerless, half-killed
victims -- a sight which has been described by an enthusiastic
naturalist [8] as curious and pleasing! I was much interested
one day by watching a deadly contest between a Pepsis and
a large spider of the genus Lycosa. The wasp made a sudden
dash at its prey, and then flew away: the spider was evidently
wounded, for, trying to escape, it rolled down a little
slope, but had still strength sufficient to crawl into a thick
tuft of grass. The wasp soon returned, and seemed surprised
at not immediately finding its victim. It then commenced
as regular a hunt as ever hound did after fox;
making short semicircular casts, and all the time rapidly vibrating
its wings and antennae. The spider, though well
concealed, was soon discovered, and the wasp, evidently still
afraid of its adversary's jaws, after much manoeuvring, inflicted
two stings on the under side of its thorax. At last,
carefully examining with its antennae the now motionless
spider, it proceeded to drag away the body. But I stopped
both tyrant and prey. [9]

The number of spiders, in proportion to other insects, is
here compared with England very much larger; perhaps
more so than with any other division of the articulate animals.
The variety of species among the jumping spiders
appears almost infinite. The genus, or rather family, of
Epeira, is here characterized by many singular forms; some
species have pointed coriaceous shells, others enlarged and
spiny tibiae. Every path in the forest is barricaded with the
strong yellow web of a species, belonging to the same division
with the Epeira clavipes of Fabricius, which was formerly
said by Sloane to make, in the West Indies, webs so
strong as to catch birds. A small and pretty kind of spider,
with very long fore-legs, and which appears to belong to an
undescribed genus, lives as a parasite on almost every one
of these webs. I suppose it is too insignificant to be noticed
by the great Epeira, and is therefore allowed to prey on the
minute insects, which, adhering to the lines, would otherwise
be wasted. When frightened, this little spider either
feigns death by extending its front legs, or suddenly drops
from the web. A large Epeira of the same division with
Epeira tuberculata and conica is extremely common, especially
in dry situations. Its web, which is generally placed
among the great leaves of the common agave, is sometimes
strengthened near the centre by a pair or even four zigzag
ribbons, which connect two adjoining rays. When any large
insect, as a grasshopper or wasp, is caught, the spider, by
a dexterous movement, makes it revolve very rapidly, and at
the same time emitting a band of threads from its spinners,
soon envelops its prey in a case like the cocoon of a silkworm.
The spider now examines the powerless victim, and
gives the fatal bite on the hinder part of its thorax; then
retreating, patiently waits till the poison has taken effect.
The virulence of this poison may be judged of from the fact
that in half a minute I opened the mesh, and found a large
wasp quite lifeless. This Epeira always stands with its head
downwards near the centre of the web. When disturbed, it
acts differently according to circumstances: if there is a
thicket below, it suddenly falls down; and I have distinctly
seen the thread from the spinners lengthened by the animal
while yet stationary, as preparatory to its fall. If the ground
is clear beneath, the Epeira seldom falls, but moves quickly
through a central passage from one to the other side. When
still further disturbed, it practises a most curious manoeuvre:
standing in the middle, it violently jerks the web, which it
attached to elastic twigs, till at last the whole acquires such
a rapid vibratory movement, that even the outline of the
spider's body becomes indistinct.

It is well known that most of the British spiders, when
a large insect is caught in their webs, endeavour to cut the
lines and liberate their prey, to save their nets from being
entirely spoiled. I once, however, saw in a hothouse in
Shropshire a large female wasp caught in the irregular web
of a quite small spider; and this spider, instead of cutting
the web, most perseveringly continued to entangle the body,
and especially the wings, of its prey. The wasp at first aimed
in vain repeated thrusts with its sting at its little antagonist.
Pitying the wasp, after allowing it to struggle for more than
an hour, I killed it and put it back into the web. The spider
soon returned; and an hour afterwards I was much surprised to
find it with its jaws buried in the orifice, through which the
sting is protruded by the living wasp. I drove the spider away
two or three times, but for the next twenty-four hours I
always found it again sucking at the same place. The spider
became much distended by the juices of its prey, which was
many times larger than itself.

I may here just mention, that I found, near St. Fe Bajada,
many large black spiders, with ruby-coloured marks on their
backs, having gregarious habits. The webs were placed
vertically, as is invariably the case with the genus Epeira:
they were separated from each other by a space of about
two feet, but were all attached to certain common lines,
which were of great length, and extended to all parts of
the community. In this manner the tops of some large bushes
were encompassed by the united nets. Azara [10] has described
a gregarious spider in Paraguay, which Walckanaer thinks
must be a Theridion, but probably it is an Epeira, and
perhaps even the same species with mine. I cannot, however,
recollect seeing a central nest as large as a hat, in which,
during autumn, when the spiders die, Azara says the eggs are
deposited. As all the spiders which I saw were of the same
size, they must have been nearly of the same age. This
gregarious habit, in so typical a genus as Epeira, among
insects, which are so bloodthirsty and solitary that even
the two sexes attack each other, is a very singular fact.

In a lofty valley of the Cordillera, near Mendoza, I found
another spider with a singularly-formed web. Strong lines
radiated in a vertical plane from a common centre, where the
insect had its station; but only two of the rays were connected
by a symmetrical mesh-work; so that the net, instead of being,
as is generally the case, circular, consisted of a wedge-shaped
segment. All the webs were similarly constructed.

[1] Venda, the Portuguese name for an inn.

[2] Annales des Sciences Naturelles for 1833.

[3] I have described and named these species in the Annals of
Nat. Hist., vol. xiv. p. 241.

[4] I am greatly indebted to Mr. Waterhouse for his kindness
in naming for me this and many other insects, and giving me
much valuable assistance.

[5] Kirby's Entomology, vol. ii. p. 317.

[6] Mr. Doubleday has lately described (before the Entomological
Society, March 3rd, 1845) a peculiar structure in the wings
of this butterfly, which seems to be the means of its making
its noise. He says, "It is remarkable for having a sort of
drum at the base of the fore wings, between the costal nervure
and the subcostal. These two nervures, moreover, have a peculiar
screw-like diaphragm or vessel in the interior." I find in
Langsdorff's travels (in the years 1803-7, p. 74) it is said,
that in the island of St. Catherine's on the coast of Brazil,
a butterfly called Februa Hoffmanseggi, makes a noise, when
flying away, like a rattle.

[7] I may mention, as a common instance of one day's (June 23rd)
collecting, when I was not attending particularly to the
Coleoptera, that I caught sixty-eight species of that order.
Among these, there were only two of the Carabidae, four
Brachelytra, fifteen Rhyncophora, and fourteen of the
Chrysomelidae. Thirty-seven species of Arachnidae, which I
brought home, will be sufficient to prove that I was not
paying overmuch attention to the generally favoured order
of Coleoptera.

[8] In a MS. in the British Museum by Mr. Abbott, who made
his observations in Georgia; see Mr. A. White's paper in the
"Annals of Nat. Hist.," vol. vii. p. 472. Lieut. Hutton has
described a sphex with similar habits in India, in the "Journal
of the Asiatic Society," vol. i. p. 555.

[9] Don Felix Azara (vol. i. p. 175), mentioning a hymenopterous
insect, probably of the same genus, says he saw it dragging
a dead spider through tall grass, in a straight line to its
nest, which was one hundred and sixty-three paces distant. He
adds that the wasp, in order to find the road, every now and
then made "demi-tours d'environ trois palmes."

[10] Azara's Voyage, vol. i. p. 213



Monte Video -- Excursion to R. Polanco -- Lazo and Bolas --
Partridges -- Absence of Trees -- Deer -- Capybara, or River
Hog -- Tucutuco -- Molothrus, cuckoo-like habits -- Tyrant-
flycatcher -- Mocking-bird -- Carrion Hawks -- Tubes formed
by Lightning -- House struck.

July 5th, 1832 -- In the morning we got under way, and stood
out of the splendid harbour of Rio de Janeiro. In our passage
to the Plata, we saw nothing particular, excepting on one day
a great shoal of porpoises, many hundreds in number. The whole
sea was in places furrowed by them; and a most extraordinary
spectacle was presented, as hundreds, proceeding together by
jumps, in which their whole bodies were exposed, thus cut the
water. When the ship was running nine knots an hour, these
animals could cross and recross the bows with the greatest of
ease, and then dash away right ahead. As soon as we entered
the estuary of the Plata, the weather was very unsettled. One
dark night we were surrounded by numerous seals and penguins,
which made such strange noises, that the officer on watch
reported he could hear the cattle bellowing on shore. On a
second night we witnessed a splendid scene of natural fireworks;
the mast-head and yard-arm-ends shone with St. Elmo's light;
and the form of the vane could almost be traced, as if it had
been rubbed with phosphorus. The sea was so highly luminous,
that the tracks of the penguins were marked by a fiery wake,
and the darkness of the sky was momentarily illuminated by
the most vivid lightning.

When within the mouth of the river, I was interested by
observing how slowly the waters of the sea and river mixed.
The latter, muddy and discoloured, from its less specific
gravity, floated on the surface of the salt water. This was
curiously exhibited in the wake of the vessel, where a line
of blue water was seen mingling in little eddies, with the
adjoining fluid.

July 26th. -- We anchored at Monte Video. The Beagle
was employed in surveying the extreme southern and eastern
coasts of America, south of the Plata, during the two succeeding
years. To prevent useless repetitions, I will extract
those parts of my journal which refer to the same districts
without always attending to the order in which we visited

MALDONADO is situated on the northern bank of the Plata,
and not very far from the mouth of the estuary. It is a
most quiet, forlorn, little town; built, as is universally the
case in these countries, with the streets running at right
angles to each other, and having in the middle a large plaza
or square, which, from its size, renders the scantiness of the
population more evident. It possesses scarcely any trade;
the exports being confined to a few hides and living cattle.
The inhabitants are chiefly landowners, together with a few
shopkeepers and the necessary tradesmen, such as blacksmiths
and carpenters, who do nearly all the business for a
circuit of fifty miles round. The town is separated from the
river by a band of sand-hillocks, about a mile broad: it is
surrounded, on all other sides, by an open slightly-undulating
country, covered by one uniform layer of fine green turf,
on which countless herds of cattle, sheep, and horses graze.
There is very little land cultivated even close to the town.
A few hedges, made of cacti and agave, mark out where
some wheat or Indian corn has been planted. The features
of the country are very similar along the whole northern
bank of the Plata. The only difference is, that here the
granitic hills are a little bolder. The scenery is very
uninteresting; there is scarcely a house, an enclosed piece of
ground, or even a tree, to give it an air of cheerfulness
Yet, after being imprisoned for some time in a ship, there is
a charm in the unconfined feeling of walking over boundless
plains of turf. Moreover, if your view is limited to a small
space, many objects possess beauty. Some of the smaller
birds are brilliantly coloured; and the bright green sward,
browsed short by the cattle, is ornamented by dwarf flowers,
among which a plant, looking like the daisy, claimed the
place of an old friend. What would a florist say to whole
tracts, so thickly covered by the Verbena melindres, as, even
at a distance, to appear of the most gaudy scarlet?

I stayed ten weeks at Maldonado, in which time a nearly
perfect collection of the animals, birds, and reptiles, was
procured. Before making any observations respecting them,
I will give an account of a little excursion I made as far
as the river Polanco, which is about seventy miles distant,
in a northerly direction. I may mention, as a proof how
cheap everything is in this country, that I paid only two
dollars a day, or eight shillings, for two men, together with
a troop of about a dozen riding-horses. My companions
were well armed with pistols and sabres; a precaution which
I thought rather unnecessary but the first piece of news
we heard was, that, the day before, a traveller from Monte
Video had been found dead on the road, with his throat
cut. This happened close to a cross, the record of a former

On the first night we slept at a retired little country-house;
and there I soon found out that I possessed two or
three articles, especially a pocket compass, which created
unbounded astonishment. In every house I was asked to
show the compass, and by its aid, together with a map, to
point out the direction of various places. It excited the
liveliest admiration that I, a perfect stranger, should know
the road (for direction and road are synonymous in this open
country) to places where I had never been. At one house
a young woman, who was ill in bed, sent to entreat me to
come and show her the compass. If their surprise was great,
mine was greater, to find such ignorance among people who
possessed their thousands of cattle, and "estancias" of great
extent. It can only be accounted for by the circumstance
that this retired part of the country is seldom visited by
foreigners. I was asked whether the earth or sun moved;
whether it was hotter or colder to the north; where Spain
was, and many other such questions. The greater number of
the inhabitants had an indistinct idea that England, London,
and North America, were different names for the same
place; but the better informed well knew that London and
North America were separate countries close together, and
that England was a large town in London! I carried with
me some promethean matches, which I ignited by biting; it
was thought so wonderful that a man should strike fire with
his teeth, that it was usual to collect the whole family to
see it: I was once offered a dollar for a single one. Washing
my face in the morning caused much speculation at the village
of Las Minas; a superior tradesman closely cross-questioned
me about so singular a practice; and likewise why on
board we wore our beards; for he had heard from my guide
that we did so. He eyed me with much suspicion; perhaps
he had heard of ablutions in the Mahomedan religion, and
knowing me to be a heretick, probably he came to the conclusion
that all hereticks were Turks. It is the general custom
in this country to ask for a night's lodging at the first
convenient house. The astonishment at the compass, and
my other feats of jugglery, was to a certain degree
advantageous, as with that, and the long stories my guides
told of my breaking stones, knowing venomous from harmless
snakes, collecting insects, etc., I repaid them for their
hospitality. I am writing as if I had been among the inhabitants
of central Africa: Banda Oriental would not be flattered by
the comparison; but such were my feelings at the time.

The next day we rode to the village of Las Minas. The
country was rather more hilly, but otherwise continued the
same; an inhabitant of the Pampas no doubt would have
considered it as truly Alpine. The country is so thinly
inhabited, that during the whole day we scarcely met a single
person. Las Minas is much smaller even than Maldonado.
It is seated on a little plain, and is surrounded by low rocky
mountains. It is of the usual symmetrical form, and with
its whitewashed church standing in the centre, had rather
a pretty appearance. The outskirting houses rose out of the
plain like isolated beings, without the accompaniment of
gardens or courtyards. This is generally the case in the
country, and all the houses have, in consequence an
uncomfortable aspect. At night we stopped at a pulperia,
or drinking-shop. During the evening a great number of Gauchos
came in to drink spirits and smoke cigars: their appearance
is very striking; they are generally tall and handsome, but
with a proud and dissolute expression of countenance. They
frequently wear their moustaches and long black hair curling
down their backs. With their brightly coloured garments,
great spurs clanking about their heels, and knives
stuck as daggers (and often so used) at their waists, they
look a very different race of men from what might be expected
from their name of Gauchos, or simple countrymen.
Their politeness is excessive; they never drink their spirits
without expecting you to taste it; but whilst making their
exceedingly graceful bow, they seem quite as ready, if occasion
offered, to cut your throat.

On the third day we pursued rather an irregular course,
as I was employed in examining some beds of marble. On
the fine plains of turf we saw many ostriches (Struthio
rhea). Some of the flocks contained as many as twenty or
thirty birds. These, when standing on any little eminence,
and seen against the clear sky, presented a very noble
appearance. I never met with such tame ostriches in any other
part of the country: it was easy to gallop up within a short
distance of them; but then, expanding their wings, they
made all sail right before the wind, and soon left the horse

At night we came to the house of Don Juan Fuentes, a
rich landed proprietor, but not personally known to either
of my companions. On approaching the house of a stranger,
it is usual to follow several little points of etiquette: riding
up slowly to the door, the salutation of Ave Maria is given,
and until somebody comes out and asks you to alight, it is
not customary even to get off your horse: the formal answer
of the owner is, "sin pecado concebida" -- that is, conceived
without sin. Having entered the house, some general conversation
is kept up for a few minutes, till permission is
asked to pass the night there. This is granted as a matter
of course. The stranger then takes his meals with the family,
and a room is assigned him, where with the horsecloths
belonging to his recado (or saddle of the Pampas) he makes
his bed. It is curious how similar circumstances produce
such similar results in manners. At the Cape of Good Hope
the same hospitality, and very nearly the same points of
etiquette, are universally observed. The difference, however,
between the character of the Spaniard and that of the Dutch
boer is shown, by the former never asking his guest a single
question beyond the strictest rule of politeness, whilst the
honest Dutchman demands where he has been, where he is
going, what is his business, and even how many brothers
sisters, or children he may happen to have.

Shortly after our arrival at Don Juan's, one of the largest
herds of cattle was driven in towards the house, and three
beasts were picked out to be slaughtered for the supply of
the establishment. These half-wild cattle are very active;
and knowing full well the fatal lazo, they led the horses a
long and laborious chase. After witnessing the rude wealth
displayed in the number of cattle, men, and horses, Don
Juan's miserable house was quite curious. The floor consisted
of hardened mud, and the windows were without
glass; the sitting-room boasted only of a few of the roughest
chairs and stools, with a couple of tables. The supper, although
several strangers were present, consisted of two huge
piles, one of roast beef, the other of boiled, with some pieces
of pumpkin: besides this latter there was no other vegetable,
and not even a morsel of bread. For drinking, a large
earthenware jug of water served the whole party. Yet this
man was the owner of several square miles of land, of which
nearly every acre would produce corn, and, with a little
trouble, all the common vegetables. The evening was spent in
smoking, with a little impromptu singing, accompanied by
the guitar. The signoritas all sat together in one corner
of the room, and did not sup with the men.

So many works have been written about these countries,
that it is almost superfluous to describe either the lazo or
the bolas. The lazo consists of a very strong, but thin,
well-plaited rope, made of raw hide. One end is attached to the
broad surcingle, which fastens together the complicated gear
of the recado, or saddle used in the Pampas; the other is
terminated by a small ring of iron or brass, by which a noose
can be formed. The Gaucho, when he is going to use the
lazo, keeps a small coil in his bridle-hand, and in the other
holds the running noose which is made very large, generally
having a diameter of about eight feet. This he whirls
round his head, and by the dexterous movement of his wrist
keeps the noose open; then, throwing it, he causes it to fall
on any particular spot he chooses. The lazo, when not used,
is tied up in a small coil to the after part of the recado.
The bolas, or balls, are of two kinds: the simplest, which
is chiefly used for catching ostriches, consists of two round
stones, covered with leather, and united by a thin plaited
thong, about eight feet long. The other kind differs only
in having three balls united by the thongs to a common
centre. The Gaucho holds the smallest of the three in his
hand, and whirls the other two round and round his head;
then, taking aim, sends them like chain shot revolving
through the air. The balls no sooner strike any object, than,
winding round it, they cross each other, and become firmly
hitched. The size and weight of the balls vary, according
to the purpose for which they are made: when of stone,
although not larger than an apple, they are sent with such
force as sometimes to break the leg even of a horse. I have
seen the balls made of wood, and as large as a turnip, for
the sake of catching these animals without injuring them.
The balls are sometimes made of iron, and these can be
hurled to the greatest distance. The main difficulty in using
either lazo or bolas is to ride so well as to be able at full
speed, and while suddenly turning about, to whirl them so
steadily round the head, as to take aim: on foot any person
would soon learn the art. One day, as I was amusing myself
by galloping and whirling the balls round my head, by accident
the free one struck a bush, and its revolving motion
being thus destroyed, it immediately fell to the ground, and,
like magic, caught one hind leg of my horse; the other ball
was then jerked out of my hand, and the horse fairly secured.
Luckily he was an old practised animal, and knew
what it meant; otherwise he would probably have kicked
till he had thrown himself down. The Gauchos roared with
laughter; they cried out that they had seen every sort of
animal caught, but had never before seen a man caught by

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