網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版
[graphic][merged small][subsumed][subsumed]

of power and money to accomplish their introduction to the civilized world.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

"I think that the energies and influence of all the friends of South American internal navigation and colonization should be directed towards forming a company with a large capital, and to obtain the aid and support of the Congress of the United States. I know how difficult an undertaking it is to wring an appropriation out of our national legislature, for any purpose; but if the subject could be fairly brought before it, and some of the leading senators and representatives could be excited to take a patriotic interest in it, perhaps something might be done.

“We must, on our side, do all we can, and by dint of perseverance we may succeed at last in accomplishing our object. Should we do so, it will be a proud satisfaction to ourselves; though the public may, and probably will, leave us to exclaim

" Hos ego versiculos feci, tulit alter honores!' “I shall continue working on and writing to you whenever I have anything of the least interest to communicate."

The greatest boon in the wide world of commerce is in the free navigation of the Amazon, its confluents and neighboring streams. The back-bone of South America is in sight of the Pacific. The slopes of the continent look east; they are drained into the Atlantic, and their rich productions, in vast variety and profusion, may be emptied into the commercial lap of that ocean by the most majestic of water-courses.

The time will come when the free navigation of the Amazon and other South American rivers will be regarded by the people of this country as second only in importance to the acquisition of Louisiana.

Ilaving traversed that water-shed from its highest ridge to its very caves and gutters, I find my thoughts and reflections overwhelmed with the immensity of this field for enterprise, commercial prosperity, and human happiness.

I can bear witness to the truth of the sentiment expressed by my friend, Mr. Maury, that the Valley of the Amazon and the Valley of the Mississippi are commercial compliments of each other—one supplying what the other lacks in the great commercial round. They are sisters which should not be separated. Had I the honor to be mustered among the statesmen of my country, I would risk political fame and life in the attempt to have the commerce of this noble river thrown open to the world.

CHAPTER X.

Nauta–River Ucayali-Sarayacu— The Missionaries, The Indians of the Ucayali.

Senhor Cauper bas four or five slaves in his house-blacks, which he brought from Brazil. This is contrary to the law, but it is winked at; and I heard the governor say that he would like much to have a pair. Mr. Cauper said they would be difficult to get, and would cost him five hundred dollars in money. A slave that is a mechanic is worth five hundred dollars in Brazil.

Arebalo gave us specimens of the woods of the country; they are called aguano, ishpingo, muena, capirona, cedro, palo de cruz, (our lignum-vitæ,) and palo de sangre—all good, whether for house or shipbuilding; and some of them very hard, heavy, and beautiful. The palo de sangre is of a rich red color, susceptible of a high polish; and a decoction of its bark is said to be good to stay bloody evacuations. I had no opportunity of testing it, but suspect it is given on the homæopathic principle, that “like cures like," because it is red. I thought the same of the guaco, in the case of the snake-bite. The temperature of Nauta is agreeable. The lowest thermometer I

, observed was 71° at 6 a. m., and the highest 89° at 3 p. m. We have had a great deal of cloudy weather and rain since we have been on the Amazon; and it is now near the commencement of the rainy season at this place. No one suffers from heat, though this is probably the hottest season of the year; the air is loaded with moisture; and heavy squalls of wind and rain sweep over the country almost every day. In the dry months—from the last of February to the first of September-a constant and heavy breeze blows, nearly all day, against the stream of the river; the wind, at all seasons, is generally easterly, but is at this time more fitful and liable to interruption; so that sail-boats bound up make, at this season, the longest passages. The river, which is threefourths of a mile wide opposite Nauta, and has an imposing appearance, has risen four feet between the sixteenth and twenty-fifth of September.

The town is situated on a hill, with the forest well cleared away from around it, and is a healthy place. I saw only two cases of sickness during my stay of two weeks. They were acute cases of disease, to which people are liable everywhere. Both patients died; probably for want of medical attention. I gave the man who had the dysentery some doses of calomel and opium, (a prescription I had from Dr. Smith, of Lima;) but he died with the last dose. Though solicited, I would have nothing to do with the other case. It was a woman; and I had no confidence in my practice. I could only add my mite to a subscription raised by the whites for the benefit of her orphan children.

The Cocamas of Nauta are great fishermen and boatmen, and I think are bolder than most of the civilized tribes on the river. They make incursions, now and then, into the country of the Mayorunassavages who inhabit the right banks of the Ucayali and Amazon-fight battles with them, and bring home prisoners, generally children. When travelling in small numbers, or engaged in their ordinary avocations on the river, they studiously avoid the country of their enemies, who retaliate whenever opportunity offers.

These Indians are jealous, and punish conjugal infidelity with severity, and also departure from the laws of chastity on the part of the unmarried female.

Arebalo thinks that the population of the Missions is increasing, and found by the census, taken carefully last year by himself, that the number of women exceeded that of the men by more than one thousand.

A boat came in from above on the eighteenth, and reported the loss of another belonging to Enrique, one of the traders we had met at Laguna. She was loaded with salt and cotton cloth; and, in passing the mouth of Tigre Yacu in the night, struck upon a “sawyer," capsized, and went down. A boy was drowned. Macready would have envied the low, soft, sad tones and eloquent gestures, expressive of pity and horror, with which an Indian told us the disastrous story.

September 20.—We paid twelve rowers and a popero, and set them to work to fit up our boat with decks and coverings. I had purchased this boat from Mr. Cauper for sixty dollars, the price he paid for it when it was new.

Most persons on the river held up their hands when I told them what I had paid for it; but I thought it was cheap, especially as I was obliged to have it on any terms. He had it repaired and calked for us.

The boat (called garretea) is thirty feet long, seven wide in its widest part, and three deep. The after-part is decked for about ten feet in length with the bark of a palm-tree, which is stripped from the trunk and flattened out by force. The deck is covered over by small poles, bent in hoop-fashion over it, and well thatched with palm-leaves; making quite a snug little cabin. The pilot stands or sits on this roof to direct and steer, and sloeps upon it at night, to the manifest danger

« 上一頁繼續 »