Arrives at the Indian Mission of Duro

It was with much difficulty that I procured in Parnaguá a person to replace the soldier who accompanied us from Oeiras; chance threw in my way a mulatto, who having come with a large drove of cattle from the province of Goyaz, was therefore acquainted with the tracks through the unfrequented country into which we were now about to enter. We left Parnaguá on the 29th of September, and continuing our journey nearly in a southerly direction, we arrived at a little fazenda, called Saco do Tanque, on the 7th of October, the distance being about twenty-six leagues. It was late in the afternoon when we left Parnaguá, and being nearly dark by the time we reached the head of the lake, we halted there for the night under some trees. Towards morning we felt so chilly in our hammocks, that we were glad to get up and warm ourselves at a large fire, which the men kept burning all night. As we rode along the side of the lake, we saw several capivaras[224] and alligators, which upon our coming near them made for the water.

Shortly after leaving Oeiras, we began to be much tormented by a species of tick, to which the Brazilians give the name of carrapato. These insects abound in dry bushy places, where they attach themselves to the slender twigs; at first they are very small (carrapatos miudos), and may be seen in clusters consisting of many hundreds; these as soon as any animal passes by and touches them, instantly adhere to it, burying their suckers so deeply into its skin, that it is only by using considerable force they can be withdrawn. If not taken off they go on increasing in bulk till they become as large, and even larger, than a common horse-bean; they even increase in size on the grass and bushes, but then have a lean flat appearance; it is to this form that the name carrapato grande is given. Spix and Martius believe the large and small kinds to be distinct species, but I think there can be no doubt that they are the same insects in different stages; St. Hilare is of this opinion, and so are the inhabitants themselves. It is only in the beginning of the dry season that the small carrapato is to be found in those districts which are infested by them, but as the season advances, they gradually disappear, to be replaced by the larger ones. They attach themselves indiscriminately to all kinds of quadrupeds, but the horse and the ox suffer most from their attacks, and in very dry seasons they exist in such numbers, that whole herds of cattle perish from the exhaustion which they produce. If, however, the animal on which they live can hold out till the rains set in, it soon regains its strength, as wet is very fatal to the carrapato; I have frequently seen some of my horses that were infested by these creatures, get nearly free from them after swimming across a broad river. Some horses I found were much more subject to them than others. We found the dry bushy country above Parnaguá swarming with these pests, and almost every night, we had to pick hundreds of them off our bodies before we could turn into our hammocks. The men suffered more than either Mr. Walker or myself, as they were on foot, and their legs were bare from the knees downwards. When I walked out to botanize in the neighbourhood[225] of the places where we encamped, I used generally to get completely covered with them, and had to change my dress, but by laying the infested articles in the bright sun-shine for a quarter of an hour they became fit to put on again. A favourite little ring-tailed monkey, which I obtained from an old Indian some days after we left Oeiras, also used to suffer very much from these insects. When full grown, a large carrapato very much resembles the ripe seed of the castor oil tree. In dragging off very large ones, the wound which is left often becomes a very bad sore. The carrapato belongs to the genus Ixodes, of Latreille.

Although the country between Parnaguá and Saco do Tanque is comparatively level, yet there is a very perceptible rise; and although the general vegetation has very much the same character as that of other Catinga districts, many of the shrubs and trees were quite new to me. At this season very few were in flower; of these, the most remarkable was a very large tree to which the name of Sicupíra is given by the inhabitants, and which I afterwards found extending far into the province of Goyaz; it belongs to the natural order Leguminosæ, and has only very recently been described by Mr. Bentham, under the name of Commilobium polygalæflorum: it is easily recognised at a great distance by its numerous large panicles of lilac flowers. An essential oil, which is contained in the fruit, is much used by the inhabitants to alleviate the pain of the tooth-ache. A very large silk-cotton tree (Bombax), entirely destitute of leaves, was also common, but on one of them I found a few blossoms, which were of enormous size, measuring when fully expanded about a foot and a half across; the petals were of a dark brown colour without, but white within. Near a fazenda called Riacho d’Area, where we stopped a day, grew a number of large palm trees, on the stems of which I found a large fleshy-stemmed orchideous plant, a species of Cyrtopodium, which produced flowering stems about four feet high, terminating in a large panicle of flowers, with brown blotches on an orange ground, and smelling sweetly like wall-flower.

In marshy bushy places on this journey I saw many plants of the Vanilla planifolia, seldom bearing flowers, and more rarely[226] producing fruit. It has now been satisfactorily determined, that this is the species from which the true Vanilla of commerce is procured. In Mexico it is extensively cultivated for the sake of its fruit, which it yields abundantly; while the plants which have been introduced into the East Indies, and the hot-houses of Europe, though they have frequently produced flowers, have very seldom perfected their fruit. Dr. Morren of Liège was the first to study attentively the natural history of this plant, and to prove experimentally that the fruit of the Vanilla may be as freely produced in our hot-houses as it is in Mexico. He has discovered that from some peculiarities in the reproductive organs of this plant, artificial fecundation is required. In the year 1836, a plant in one of the hot-houses in the botanic garden at Liège produced fifty-four flowers, which having been artificially fecundated, exhibited the same number of pods, quite equal to those imported from Mexico; and in 1837, a fresh crop of about a hundred pods was obtained upon another plant by the same method. He attributes the fecundation of the plant in Mexico to the action of some insect which frequents the flower; and hence accounts for the non-production of fruit in those plants, which have been removed to other countries. There can be no doubt that this plant is as perfectly indigenous to Brazil, as it is to Mexico; but it is no less certain that its fruit is there seldom matured. Is this also to be attributed to the absence of the means by which nature is supposed to effect fecundation in Mexico? This is a subject which, as Professor Morren justly observes, well deserves attention in a commercial point of view, since his experiments go to prove, that in all intertropical countries, vanilla might be cultivated, and a great abundance of fruit obtained.[9]

The country in which we were travelling, is much infested by the Onça of the inhabitants, the Felis onca of Linnæus, which is also known by the name of Jaguar. In our encampments, we used to hear them night after night roaring at some distance, but[227] they never came near enough to be seen. The night we remained at Riacho d’Area, we were prevented from sleeping during the early part of it, by the loud roaring of one of these animals, which was so distinct and audible that it appeared to be within a short distance; but the fazendeiro, who was more accustomed to the sound, assured me it was at least half a league distant, and from its noise he supposed it to be a very large male; its roar was more like the growl of an angry dog, which generally continued for a quarter of an hour at a time, when it terminated by a sound, two or three times repeated, not unlike the smothered bark of a large mastiff. The dogs belonging to the fazenda were on the alert and barking, but none of them offered to leave the house. My horses which were feeding at a little distance, came closer to us, when they heard the almost unearthly sounds produced by the fierce inhabitant of the forests; even those I had brought from the coast, and which I am certain had never been exposed to the attacks of these animals, followed the example of the others.

The Fazenda de Saco do Tanque is situated immediately on the boundary line between the province of Piauhy, and the south-west portion of that of Pernambuco, which is known by the name of the district of the Rio Preto. Shortly after entering this district, we reached an elevated table-land called the Serra da Batalha, which it was necessary to cross; it is about the height of the Serra de Araripe at Crato, and like it, is covered with an ever-verdant vegetation. The ascent is a very rugged one, consisting of large blocks of coarse white sandstone, of which the Serra appeared to be composed. At the foot of this Serra, and on the ascent itself, I made one of the finest collections of plants I had met with since leaving Oeiras. In moist sandy places at its foot grow some of those beautiful large-flowered small-leaved Melastomaceæ which are so abundant in the gold and diamond districts; while on the more elevated sandy tracts I found immense quantities of a kind of nutmeg (Myristica), which does not grow more than three feet high. The trees on the Chapada itself consisted chiefly of the Cashew, Piki, Jatobá, Mangába, Sicupíra, Gomphia[228] hexasperma, and an arboreous Bignonia; but intermingled with these, there were many beautiful trees and shrubs, which I had not before met with.

After crossing the Chapada which is three leagues in breadth, the descent is very gradual, and ultimately merges into a marshy plain abounding in Buriti palms. The whole country here bore a very different aspect from that which we had left behind us, the vegetation being fresh and verdant, which was a great relief to the eye, after having been so long accustomed to leafless trees, and a bare soil of red clay. The woods were all evergreen, and between the clusters of noble Buriti palms and the wooded parts of the country, there were large open marshy Campos covered with grass, and other herbaceous vegetation common to marshy tracts.

We were now in a country much infested by the incursions of wild Indians, and many of the more solitary habitations had, some time before our arrival, been abandoned by their possessors on that account. After riding about half a mile along the side of the first open tract we came to, we reached one of these deserted dwellings, and a little beyond it, we put up in another also uninhabited. At Saco do Tanque, we were informed that these houses had been abandoned in consequence of an attack which the Indians had made on another, a few months before, a league or two to the westward, when all the inhabitants were put to death. As I had many of my recent collections to put in order, and as this appeared a favourable spot for botanizing, I remained here a day. There was also good pasture for the horses, and they, as well as ourselves, had need of rest. I was not disappointed in the few short rambles which I took in the neighbourhood, as I met with several remarkable plants, quite different from any I had before seen; among these were an Eryngium, a Jussiæa, which formed a small tree about twenty feet high, a tree-fern, the only one I had seen since I left Crato, and a few curious Eriocaulons from the marshes. In the deserted house in which we took up our quarters, we were dreadfully annoyed both by musquitos and chigoes (Bich de Pé).

Leaving Batalha, the name of the place at which we were encamped,[229] a journey of three long leagues brought us to the fazenda of Santa Rosa. We had not gone far when we had to ascend another Serra, but lower than that of Batalha, the top of which forms a Chapada about a league broad. Having crossed this, a very slight ascent brought us to the top of a third elevated plane, called the Serra do Mato Grosso, from the dense forest with which it is covered. These three Serras may more correctly be considered as one great one, than as distinct ranges, since we found the descent from the last about equal in height to the ascent of the first, and both much greater than the intermediate ones; the south side also, like the north, was covered with large blocks of sandstone. We now entered the valley of Santa Rosa, which tends southward for about a league and a half; in the middle of this runs a small stream of the most limpid water I have ever seen, and on each side of it grows a strip of tall and beautiful Buriti palms, affording food and shelter to vast numbers of the three kinds of Maccaw already described. Near the top of the valley there is a large lake, and another about the middle of it, fed by the small stream, partly surrounded by the Buriti, and partly by a much smaller palm, which very much resembles it, but its stem is thickly covered by long sharp spines; this, which I afterwards found to be very common in the marshy Campos of the province of Goyaz, is called Buritizana. This beautiful valley is about a league broad at its widest part, where the fazenda of the same name is situated, and is bounded on the north-west side by the Serra do Livramento, about equal in height with the Serra do Mato Grosso, which bounds it on the north-east side.

Shortly before we reached the descent of the Serra, the great variety of new plants which I found growing there, caused me to linger far behind the troop, but as this was very frequently the case, the men took no notice of it. I did not often keep one of them with me, as my eye, from long practice, had become well acquainted with the track of the troop, from the appearance of the horses’ and the men’s foot-marks; and here, moreover, the road had been so long free from travellers, that there seemed no[230] chance of any mistake occurring. In this, however, I was deceived, for although I traced them to the lower part of the upper lake, where the ground was very soft, and much trodden by the cattle and horses that came there to drink; beyond this muddy tract, which was of considerable size, I could not trace the foot-marks of my troop, although I spent a long time in trying to do so. It is well understood among travellers in these desert parts of Brazil, that if one of the party should by any chance remain behind, and be unable to find the track of his companions, he is to remain in the neighbourhood of the spot where he first lost it, so that he may the more readily be found by those who return to look for him. Acting upon this, and feeling certain that before night some one of my party would be sent in search of me, I returned to the foot of the Serra, and, under some shady trees by the road-side, dismounted, and tying the fore-legs of my horse with the bridle, so that he might feed, and not stray, I sat down under one of the trees to study attentively the plants which I had collected during my morning’s ride. My only fear was lest any of the wandering tribes of Indians, who were known to be in the neighbouring woods, should happen to come across me, for in consequence of the persecution they have received from the Brazilians, they consider every white man they encounter lawful game to shoot at and destroy. It was not till late in the afternoon that Mr. Walker, finding I did not make my appearance, sent one of the men to look for me; and when we returned to the place where I had been unable to follow the track, I found they had passed over to the other side of the lake by a very narrow path, which was completely covered over with long grass.

Finding the proprietor of the fazenda of Santa Rosa, Senhor Antonio Jozé de Guimerãens, very civil and obliging, I determined to remain there for some days, to make the necessary arrangements for entering upon a journey of upwards of forty leagues through an entirely uninhabited country. My collections made between Parnaguá and Santa Rosa, were to be arranged and packed up, and it was with considerable difficulty that I could find an additional horse to purchase. Our host had not[231] one to part with that would answer my purpose, but he kindly accompanied Mr. Walker to a fazenda about five leagues distant, and assisted him in procuring one. Our provision boxes also required to be replenished, and for this purpose an ox was purchased, and its flesh prepared by drying in the sun. No farinha was to be had at Santa Rosa, but our host went himself to another fazenda about four leagues to the eastward, and bought me a load. We could not, however, purchase the hide boxes which were necessary for carrying my collections; these we were obliged to make ourselves, under the superintendence of Mr. Walker, who was very expert in all that related to the equipment of the troop. During the twelve days that we found it necessary to remain at this place, I lost no opportunity of adding to my collections, by excursions in the neighbourhood, but particularly to the Serras which form the boundaries of the valley. One of the finest trees I ever remember to have seen standing alone, grew by the side of, a small brook which flowed at a little distance from the house; it was a species of Qualea, with a clean straight stem about one hundred feet in height, on which it supported a wide-spreading top of branches; as it came into flower shortly after our arrival, and as there was no other way of obtaining specimens than by cutting the tree down, Senhor Guimerãens himself proposed to do so, as soon as he knew I wished to possess a few specimens. After about two hours’ labour on the part of himself and two of my men, this fine tree, which I was sorry to see destroyed, came to the ground with a tremendous crash.

It was on the morning of the 21st of September that we left Santa Rosa, and a journey of nearly three leagues brought us to the north bank of the Rio Preto, a stream which gives origin to the name of the district, and which takes its rise on the eastern side of the Serra do Duro, and falls into the Rio de San Francisco, a little above Villa da Barra. Following the course of this river downwards for about a quarter of a mile, we arrived at the ferry which leads to the fazenda of Santa Maria, which stands on the opposite side. At this place the river is about thirty yards broad, is very deep and the current is very rapid; at a distance, the water[232] appears black as ink, and from this circumstance it takes its name, but when close to it the water is so clear, that the bottom can be seen at a great depth; we could also see that it was inhabited by numbers of fine fish. Our luggage was taken over by an old Indian in a canoe, which was so small that only one horse-load could be transported at a time. We took up our mid-day quarters under the wide-spreading branches of a large Cashew tree, but the shade which this kind of tree yields, does not shelter well from the rays of the sun, as it is never very thickly covered with leaves. We all bathed in the waters of the beautiful stream, and rejoiced that for several days to come, we should still have this enjoyment, as our route to the westward lay along its margin. There is nothing so refreshing to the traveller in a tropical climate, as frequent ablution in cold water. We were not far from the house on which the outrage I have before mentioned was committed by the Indians; the attack was made during the day, while the men were absent in the fields, and after burning the house, and killing three women, they carried off two children. The people at Santa Maria informed me they lived in constant dread of the Indians, and that they had serious intentions of removing to a more populous district. These Indians live generally at a considerable distance to the north-west, only extending their excursions into this neighbourhood when in pursuit of game, and are known by the name of Cherentes. It is supposed this attack originated in consequence of one of the Indians having been fired at, and wounded by mistake, who in revenge had, with the assistance of some of his countrymen, committed the outrage above mentioned.

The desolate tract of country, upwards of forty leagues in breadth, which we were now about to cross, in order to reach the province of Goyaz, is called by the people of the country Os Geräes. It is seldom traversed except by drovers, who take cattle from the north of Goyaz to Bahia. There is, however, a path through it, and the mulatto I engaged at Parnaguá, having once traversed it, was to act as our guide. From him I learned that there was only one habitation to be met with, a small hut,[233] occasionally occupied by an old man, half Indian, half Portuguese; but this was of no importance to me, as I had laid in a sufficient stock of provisions for our journey. The stories he told of the Indians, alarmed my party very much; and I was in consequence obliged to get all my arms put in order, so as to make as formidable an appearance as possible. I carried a small brace of pocket pistols besides those in my holsters, and had a large sword-knife in my belt. Mr. Walker, besides the usual dagger-knife of the Brazilians, carried a small sword; and the men were each armed with a gun; happily we had no occasion to make use of our weapons. The country people have all a great dread of this wild and uninhabited tract, and before entering it I was often asked if I was not afraid to do so with so few attendants. Their own fear is, I believe, greatly owing to their cowardice, a very common feeling in all parts of the country I have visited. My mind was too much occupied with the anticipations of the rich harvest of novelties I expected to meet with, to think much of these dangers; the whole country I had gone over since I had left the coast at Aracaty was virgin ground to the naturalist, with the exception of Oeiras, which was passed through by Spix and Martius on their journey from Bahia to Maranham.

We entered the Geräes on the afternoon of the same day we arrived at Santa Maria, but the first part of our journey was far from auspicious. Our route was westward along the banks of the Rio Preto, which was lined with Buriti and Buritizana palms, and numerous flowering shrubs. After we had gone about two leagues, the sky to the westward became very black, and shortly afterwards distant thunder was heard. We halted by the side of the river under some large trees, but before we could get a shelter arranged the storm reached us. The lightning was very vivid, the thunder loud, and the rain came pouring down in torrents; by fixing up two large hides to the branches above us, they afforded a tolerable shelter. As soon as the storm passed over we enlarged our house, so as to have a place of refuge in case it should return, and it was well we did so, for having slung our hammocks as usual between the trees, we were aroused about midnight[234] by a loud peal of thunder which broke right over our heads, and as the rain fell heavily we were obliged to take refuge in our house of hides. I thought there was something more awful in this storm than in any I had ever experienced, but this feeling was perhaps augmented by the solitude in which we found ourselves. It may be asked why I did not take a tent with me? I might have done so, but in travelling, I made it a rule to conform to the habits of the country, and in the north of Brazil no one ever thinks of carrying a tent. Long journeys are always avoided in the rainy season, and as the dry season generally lasts more than seven months, that period is always selected for this purpose. These thunder storms are invariably the precursors to the setting in of the heavy continual rains, but we hoped before that time to reach some town in the north of the province of Goyaz, where we might halt till the proper season for travelling would again come round.

On the second day we made a journey of about six leagues; sometimes our route led through dense forests by the side of the river, at other times through open grassy meadows in which grew clusters of the Buriti palms, and at intervals over slightly elevated flat tracts, covered with low bushes, and abundance of a large grotesque-looking tree Lily (Vellozia) on which I vainly looked for flowers, as they are only produced in the dry season. We halted during the middle of the day, but only for a short time, at a rude hut of palm leaves, which had been erected by some previous traveller, by the wooded margin of a beautiful grassy meadow about a quarter of a mile square. Late in the afternoon the sky to the westward began to assume a lowering aspect, and shortly presented all the appearance of an approaching thunder storm. We pushed on as quickly as the nature of the road would allow, as our guide assured us we were not far distant from the habitation of an old Indian. The lightning soon commenced, and the rolling of thunder was heard in the distance; gradually it came nearer to us, and the western sky from the horizon to the zenith was from time to time filled with one sheet of bluish flame, which, while it lasted, rendered the close of the twilight almost as bright as day.[235] Thanks to our good fortune, the storm did not then reach us, having been diverted to the northward: passing over a high Serra which lay in that direction, it again altered its course, and followed fast upon our heels. It was quite dark when we arrived at the solitary dwelling, and when I rode to the little gate in front of it, the owner came out with a gun in his hand. He immediately granted us permission to take shelter for the night in an open shed, and as soon as the luggage had been arranged in it, and a few large skins had been hung up on the weather side, the storm broke over the hut in all its fury, accompanied by a gale of wind which quickly extinguished our lights, and we had reason to be thankful that the whole building was not carried away before it: uncomfortable as the place was, we rejoiced in having even such shelter as it afforded.

The old man informed me that he lived in constant fear of an attack from the Cherentes. He had been in this solitary place for three years, but had now made up his mind to leave it in the course of a few months. His wife had been dead about a year, and he and three little children were the only inhabitants of the place. He had two houses, the best of which was at one end of the shed in which we were stowed, but he had never lived in it; the reason he assigned was, that the Indians when they attack a house, immediately set fire to it, and surround it, so that no one may escape. The hut in which he resided was at some distance from the other, and in appearance was but little better than a pig-sty, but he said that in case of an attack, he could very easily make his escape from it to the woods. He had a very small piece of ground cleared by the side of the river, in which grew some mandiocca, Indian corn, cotton, and bananas. He possessed no cattle of his own, but I was afterwards informed that he was very expert in stealing oxen, from the droves which occasionally pass on their way to the coast.

Three days after we left this habitation, we arrived at a place where the Rio Preto divides the Province of Pernambuco from that of Goyaz. The country we passed through was very similar to the first part of the Geräes, with the exception of the last[236] four leagues of our journey which lay through an undulating elevated region destitute of arboreous vegetation; the soil was of a white sandy nature, thinly covered with dwarf shrubs, and small dry tufts of grass: it was only here and there that a small stunted tree made its appearance among the bushes: as we approached the river, however, the country became more flat and better wooded. Notwithstanding the arid nature of this tract, its scanty vegetation was, with few exceptions, quite new to me. The moister sandy places afforded me several of those curious Eriocaulons, of which so many exist in my collections, one of these, which I found shortly before we reached the river, was a large branched species about five feet in height; these remarkable forms I afterwards met with in great abundance in the Diamond District, which is the great centre of the Eriocaulons, as it is of the Vellozias, or tree-lily tribe. The river we here found to be about forty feet broad, and not less than from sixteen to twenty feet in depth; the current was still rapid, and the water so limpid, that the bottom could be seen quite distinctly. Several large Buriti palms grow on its banks, and the bridge by which we crossed, was one of these trees cut down, so as to fall across the stream. It was not without considerable trouble, that we got all our luggage taken to the other side, which when accomplished, the horses were swum over a little further up the river. At about two hundred yards from its banks we encamped under a large Myrtle tree (Myrica), where we remained a day, for I found it to be an excellent place for my researches. In a marsh by the side of the river, I collected specimens of an Isoetes, which does not appear to differ from the one (Isoetes lacustris, Linn.) which grows in Great Britain. The sight of this plant recalled pleasing recollections of long past times, and I could not refrain from indulging in a lengthened train of reflections, which ended by comparing it with myself—a stranger in a strange land, and associated with still stranger companions.

Our next journey, which was one of four long leagues, through an arid, undulating, sandy, thinly-wooded country, brought us to the foot of the Chapada da Mangabeira, an elevated level table-land,[237] nearly forty miles broad. On this journey we were dreadfully scorched by a burning sun; not a breath of wind was to be felt, and we all suffered very much from thirst, as not a drop of water was to be met with, and the men had neglected to fill the large leathern bag (boracho) before we started. Shortly after leaving Oeiras, I was obliged to provide myself with one of these necessary articles; it held about two gallons, and when full, was carried between the two side loads of one of the horses. We encamped beneath a large Piki tree, not far from a spring of cool clear water which emptied itself into a large morass. As this is the last watering-place to be met with till the Chapada is crossed, the usual way of proceeding is to leave it about mid-day, and push on without stopping till half of the distance has been performed; and by leaving again early on the following morning, the next watering-place may be gained in the forenoon.

On the day succeeding that on which we arrived at the foot of the Chapada, we started to cross it about one o’clock in the afternoon. The horses were previously allowed to drink freely, and I took care that the leathern bag was not neglected this time. After travelling about half a league, we entered by a gradual ascent upon the Chapada, and at the same time were overtaken by a thunder storm, which, however, passed over without wetting us much. After a journey of five leagues, we arrived at a place where there are a few small trees, and under them we halted for the night. Tor the first league and a half, the Chapada was thinly-wooded with small trees, which became gradually smaller and thinner, till at last not one was to be seen; only a few stunted shrubs, from a foot to a foot and a half high, exist on this barren spot; and the only living thing we saw, was a kind of locust, about two inches long, which rose in clouds before the horses. Many skeletons of horses and oxen lay on both sides of the path no doubt the remains of animals which on crossing this desert tract, had become exhausted, and died from want of water. After the thunder storm passed over, the sky became clear and unclouded and the sunset was one of the most beautiful I have ever seen, its splendour, and the ocean-like plain over which we were travelling,[238] reminded me of those I have so often seen at sea, between the tropics. The atmosphere, too, was delightfully cool, and heavily laden with the rich perfume of one of the small shrubs then in flower, which grew in the greatest profusion; this shrub, which I afterwards found to be the Spiranthera odoratissima of St. Hilaire, grows in small clusters, and bears large corymbs of pure white flowers larger than those of the honeysuckle, but not unlike them in shape, although their odour more resembles that of the Jasmine. Shortly after we reached our resting-place, the sky again became clouded towards the west, and there was much lightning, which made us fear another storm. As usual, we slung our hammocks between the trees, and, contrary to our expectations, passed the night without rain.

We resumed our journey again as early as possible after daybreak, and having accomplished five leagues more, the greater part of which was along one of the worst roads we had yet encountered, we halted under some large trees close to a marsh, on the south-west side of the Chapada. At about half a league from where we slept, the descent of the Chapada begins, and from thence a fine view of a large plain below is obtained, which is almost entirely surrounded by a chain of low hills, several of which to the south are of a conical form; the descent is very rocky, and on both sides of the road stand a great many isolated columnar and wall-like portions, which give the traveller the idea that he is passing through the ruins of a large city, destroyed by some great catastrophe. The rock is a conglomerate, and as many of the rounded stones of which it is composed are of considerable size, this resemblance becomes the more striking. This side of the Chapada is entirely composed of a coarse sandstone, which in some places is much softer than in others, and the ruin-like portions have, no doubt, been formed by the disintegration of those of a softer texture. On the descent, we had often to dismount and lead our horses; one of the pack-horses fell, and rolled over several times before he could regain a footing. As soon as we reached the marsh, the horses rushed into the water to quench their thirst, before they could be unloaded, and although it was still early in the[239] day when we arrived, I determined to remain here till the following morning, so that they might rest. The evening was again cloudy, with thunder and lightning in the distance, which induced us to construct our huts of skins, that we might be sheltered in case of rain; but none, however, fell.

Early on the following morning, we started with the intention of going direct to Duro, an Indian mission about four leagues distant, but when we were within about a league of it, we entered upon a wrong road, and had gone nearly two leagues, before the man who acted as our guide, discovered his mistake; it being then about the middle of the day, we halted to take breakfast under the shade of a large Vochysia, which overhung a spring of limpid water; but we had no sooner taken possession of this spot, than our right to it was called in question by some thousands of a small bee, not so large as a common house-fly; they came buzzing about in all directions, from the hollow stem of the large tree in which they had their habitation; they had no sting, but they annoyed us very much, by flying about the face, and getting entangled in the hair. After kindling a large fire, they soon became less troublesome; the only one of our party who seemed to be much alarmed at them, was my little monkey, who when they came swarming about his head, covered it with his hands, and screaming fearfully, leaped upon me, and hid himself under my jacket.

The country over which we passed before reaching this place, is of an undulating character, consisting generally of large open campos, the soil of which is principally a white sand, and being but scantily covered with herbaceous vegetation, the glare caused by the bright sun-shine was very fatiguing to the eyes. On these campos, as well as on the Chapada da Mangabeira, a dwarf cashew is very abundant, growing gregariously, and not more than a foot high; I found it both in flower and in fruit, but the latter is not much larger than a gooseberry. It seems to be distinct from the arboreous species, and is called by the Brazilians Cajú rasteiro. Although the hilly parts of the country are dry, and have an arid look, the little hollows or valleys which intersect them, have always a small stream of clear and cool water flowing through them, and[240] are generally well wooded. About half a mile from the Aldea of Duro, we overtook an Indian who was returning from the woods, and who conducted us to the house of one of their two captains, of whom we made enquiries about a house to put up in, but he knew of none. After some time, we were permitted to occupy one not yet finished, being open all round, but well roofed; by means of some hides, we, however, contrived to render it somewhat comfortable. As I found it necessary to remain here for several days, I was well pleased to have the use of this habitation, as it was not safe to trust ourselves in the open air, now that the rains were setting in.

The mission of Duro is situated on the Serra of the same name, upon a low flat hill, round the western base of which, flows a small stream, called the Riacho de Sucuriú, which at all seasons, supplies the inhabitants with abundance of excellent water. The Aldea itself contains about twenty houses, all of which are of the most miserable description; the greater part of them are entirely made of a frame-work of poles covered over with palm-leaves, and many of them are so much decayed from the united effects of time and weather, that they no longer form a barrier against wind or rain; others, which are built of wicker-work and clay, are scarcely in a better condition. They are so arranged as to form an irregular square, but two of the sides still remain nearly open; on the west side, there is a small church almost in ruins, with a beautiful large Genipapo tree in front. The mission contains in all twelve square leagues of country, being the grant made to it at its original formation by the Jesuits, and over this space, there are scattered twenty or thirty other houses. The entire population, at the time of my visit, amounted to about 250 souls; although the greater part of them are of pure Indian breed, some of them have mixed with the blacks, who from time to time, have taken up their residence among them, many of these have been runaway slaves. It is very easy, however, to recognise the pure Indian, by his reddish colour, long straight hair, high cheek bones, and the peculiar obliquity of his eyes. Notwithstanding that the present race has been brought up in a comparative state[241] of civilization, they still retain many of the characteristics of the savage state. A few of the more respectable of them dress in the same manner as the Brazilians of the Sertão, viz., in a short pair of cotton drawers, with a shirt of the same stuff hanging loose over them; others make use of the drawers only, which are generally far from being clean, and are made of a very coarse kind of stuff wrought by the women. The dress of the latter is also very simple; a few wear a chemise, and petticoat made of printed calico, but by far the greater number have only a petticoat of the same coarse material that the men wear, tied round their middle, all above which is bare. The girls run about quite naked till they are nine or ten years of age, and the boys till they are from twelve to fourteen. Some of the young girls have very pleasing countenances, which, however, they do not long retain, judging from the looks of the older women.

Although both the soil and climate of the mission are well adapted for the cultivation of the various productions of the tropics, the inhabitants are so indolent, that they are generally in a state of starvation; I could procure neither farinha de mandiocca, rice, yams, sweet potatoes, plantains, nor bananas, and when we arrived, our stock of beef being quite exhausted, it was with the greatest difficulty I succeeded in purchasing a cow. All the cattle which exist in the mission amount only to about forty, and these belong to two individuals. They possess altogether only seventeen horses. The principal part of the food of these people is of a vegetable nature, consisting of wild fruits which they obtain from the woods, such as the nuts of different kinds of palms, the fruit of the Pika, Pusá, Mangába, Jatobá, Pitomba, Guava, Araçá, &c. At the season we were among them, the principal fruit they made use of, was a kind of palm nut, about an inch and a half long, which they called Shódó. They first cut the fleshy substance, which corresponds with the fibrous portion of the cocoa-nut, and a large stone which is generally placed at the door, is used for breaking the nut upon, in order to procure the substance within. Numbers of these Indians used to start early in the morning, being roused by a kind of drum, and go to the[242] woods to the westward to collect these nuts, and during the day nothing was to be heard in the Aldea, but the breaking of them between the two stones. The little animal food they do eat, is procured by hunting, and this is an occupation which the young men are much fonder of, than working in a plantation. A few days after we arrived, thirteen or fourteen of them set off on a hunting excursion to the other side of the Chapada da Mangabeira, and after an absence of eight days, they returned well loaded with the flesh of deer, and of the large kind of Peccary (Queixado), in a half-roasted state, this being the plan they make use of, for preserving it for a few days, having no salt for curing it. On their return to the Aldea, this spoil was divided among their friends; it was all immediately devoured without salt or any kind of vegetable, except a few small capsicums. On the following day, scarcely an Indian was to be seen stirring abroad; like the boa constrictor, they were sleeping away the effects of their over-dose of food. When our cow was killed, I was fearful we should not be allowed to keep any of it to ourselves; for one came begging the head, another the feet, a third the liver, and so on, with all the internal parts; and when these were exhausted, they even began to ask for pieces of the beef itself.

Till within the last ten years, they had a resident priest among them, but since that period, they have been without any; once a year, they have a few days’ visit from one residing in the Villa de Natividade, thirty leagues distant, where their marriages are celebrated, and their children baptized. There is no school in the Aldea, and the only persons who can read and write are the two captains, one of whom is a man about forty years of age; the other, who is called Luiz Francisco Pinto, was then in his seventy-fourth year, and from him I obtained nearly all my information regarding the mission. His wife, who was nearly as old as himself, was confined to bed from dropsy; I visited her frequently during our stay, prescribing such medicines as I thought would be of service to her; but what she most enjoyed, was a small basin of tea which I sent her morning and evening. Part of the wall of the apartment in which she was lying had fallen in, but an[243] attempt had been made to keep out the wind and rain, by placing a few palm leaves in the aperture. All the inhabitants speak Portuguese, but many of them still keep up the language of their forefathers.

By the old captain I was informed that the mission was established in the year 1730, by a Lieut. Colonel Wencisläo Gomez, who came up with troops from Pernambuco, and conquered the Coroá nation of Indians, being that from which the present race is descended; at that time they formed three Aldeas, and amounted in all to about 1,000 individuals. These three Aldeas were united to form the present one, Duro, which place is called in their own language Ropechedy, signifying beautiful situation, a title which it well merits. Here also I found that the inhabitants lived in constant fear of the Cherente Indians, who inhabit the woods on the banks of the Rio Tocantins to the north-west of Duro. These Indians have made several attacks on the mission, but the occasion on which they committed the greatest havock, was in the year 1789, when a body of them amounting to upwards of two hundred, surrounded the Aldea one morning about ten o’clock, and before evening had burned all the houses in the outskirts of the Aldea, and killed about forty persons, including men, women, and children. They also carried away four children, two of whom were nephews of the old captain. The inhabitants of the Aldea kept up a constant fire upon the Cherentes, but they could not tell how many of them were killed, as they took all their dead with them when they left.

On several nights, during our stay at the Mission, fires were seen on the Serras at no great distance, and one day, as one of the inhabitants was returning from the woods, he saw an Indian, armed with his bow and arrows, cross the path before him. These circumstances caused the inhabitants to dread another attack, and they were but poorly prepared to meet it. Formerly they used to have a supply of arms and ammunition sent to them every year by the government, but for many years past, these had not been furnished to them, and the old ones were nearly worn out. In cases of necessity, the government can call upon the captains to take[244] the field with their men, and each can raise about forty, able to carry arms. A few of these Indians have guns of their own, which they use in hunting, and their powder is a coarse kind, manufactured by themselves. Some of the shopkeepers in the towns to the south-west, every year go down by the Rio Tocantins to Pará to sell hides and purchase European goods; very frequently some of the young men belonging to Duro hire themselves to work the canoes, and with the money which they receive for their services, purchase at Pará axes and other iron tools; a party of them returned from one of these trips during our visit.

During the fortnight we remained in the Aldea do Duro, I was principally occupied in drying the immense collection of specimens obtained in the latter part of the journey across the Geräes and the Chapada da Mangabeira, and in packing up all those which had been procured between Santa Rosa and Duro. I also made many excursions in the neighbourhood of the Aldea, and notwithstanding it was then the end of the dry season, I found it an excellent field for my researches. The sandy marshes yielded me many curious Eriocaulons, and beautiful Melastomaceæ; while the upland campos produced several species of Diplusodon, many Compositæ, Labiatæ, &c.; but the most common, as well as the most beautiful of the productions of the campos, were a small Bignonia growing in tufts, and scarcely a foot high, bearing numerous large lemon-coloured trumpet-shaped flowers, an Ipomæa, similar in habit and about the same size, producing large violet-coloured blossoms (Ipomæa hirsutissima, Gardn.) and two erect kinds of Echites:[10] in dry rocky places Amaryllis Solandræflora, Lindl., was very common, producing abundantly its large yellow flowers.

We left Duro on the thirteenth of October, and slept at the house of one of the Indians, about two leagues distant from the Aldea: the owner of it, hearing on what day I was to leave, arrived the night before, and begged of me to call at his house, which was but a little way off the road, to see his wife who had been blind for some years, and was then suffering from ophthalmia. I, of[245] course, could not refuse his request, and the poor fellow tried to make us as comfortable as his miserable residence would allow. This place was called Cachoeira, from a small waterfall near it; the high undulating hills which surrounded the valley in which the house stood, gave it a very picturesque appearance. There were two other houses at a short distance from that in which we slept, and although they are surrounded by the finest possible grounds for plantations, the three families have but one small spot planted with mandiocca, which seemed to be the only article they cultivate. Although there were abundant pastures in the neighbourhood, not one of them possessed a single cow, and their excuse for not having one, was the trouble it would give them to make a fence round their plantation; rather than do any manual labour of that kind, they prefer lounging about the house in a state of idleness, or going out in the woods with their gun and axe, in search of game and wild honey. Our farinha being nearly exhausted, I enquired whether any was to be had at this place, but they had none, nor would they have a supply for a month to come, as the mandiocca was not yet ripe; fortunately a young man passed in the evening with a very small quantity which he at first refused to sell, as he was taking it to a neighbour in return for some he had borrowed; he consented, however, to let me have half of it, on condition of receiving dried beef in exchange, which, as we had then plenty, I agreed to.

On the journey from Duro to this place, we traversed a beautiful country of hill and dale, much of it being thinly wooded; some of the more open upland fields, owing to the recent rains, were covered with new grass about a foot high, on which no animals fed, excepting a few wild deer. It is a general custom among the cattle farmers, to burn the pastures at the end of the dry season, in order that the new grass may spring up rapidly on the setting in of the rains; this is also done by the inhabitants of the mission, but with the view to keep their hunting grounds more open, and encourage the visits of deer. It seems probable, that at no very distant period the whole of this district, and much of the country that lies to the east and north-west, will be converted into[246] large cattle farms, as it is well calculated for the rearing of cattle, owing to the mildness of the climate, and the abundance of grass and water which exists here all the year round.

The rain prevented our leaving Cachoeira on the following day till two o’clock in the afternoon, when after a journey of two leagues, we arrived at the house of the Juiz de Paz of Duro; on account of the bad state of the roads it was dusk before we accomplished this distance. The first league and a half of our journey was over a hilly rocky country, when we began to descend the Serra do Duro, and shortly afterwards entered upon a flat rather thickly-wooded tract. It is at the foot of the Serra that the mission of Duro terminates, and about half a mile from it stands the house in which the Juiz de Paz resided; it was exceedingly small, and as the outer room, that generally given to travellers, would not conveniently hold us, he told me we should find much better accommodation at the house of a relation of his, who lived about a gunshot distant, and he kindly accompanied us thither. On reaching it, we found half a dozen Indians, sitting round a fire under a verandah in front of the house, and superintending the cooking of their supper in a large pot. While we were arranging our trunks against the wall, the master of the house begged of us to wait till the men had taken out their beds, when each came and carried his away, which however consisted of nothing more than half a cow’s hide; they sleep here as in the Aldea, stretching the hide in a corner, on which they lie without taking off their clothes; I saw no one make use of a hammock.

A journey of three leagues from the residence of the Juiz de Paz, through a flat thinly-wooded country, almost destitute of herbaceous vegetation, (no rains having as yet fallen in this quarter,) brought us to a fazenda, situated on the banks of the Rio de Manoel Alvez, a large stream which takes its rise in the Serra do Duro, to the north of the Aldea, and falls into the Rio Tocantins. At this fazenda we were informed, that as the river had risen considerably, it would be impossible for our horses to cross with their loads; and the canoe used for ferrying over passengers and luggage, had been carried away by the floods of the previous season,[247] circumstances which rendered it necessary to have everything transported across the river on men’s heads. At the fazenda I engaged a negro and a mulatto, to assist my own men in this operation; the ferry was about a mile further down; here the river is about forty yards broad and the current very strong, in consequence of a rapid which exists a little further below. When the two men, who both were tall and strong, entered with the first loads, it was with difficulty they could keep their feet, as the water, during the greater part of the way, took them up to the shoulders; the recompense they asked, half a dollar each, was, however, very dearly earned, as they had each to cross the river backwards and forwards about twelve times, which occupied more than two hours. Mr. Walker and I attempted to cross a little above the ferry by swimming, but the force of the current swept us both over the rapids; Mr. Walker being carried with great force against some rocks, and it was with no small difficulty, that he reached the opposite side below the rapid in a state of great exhaustion. I was more fortunate, being carried down at a place clear of rocks, where I soon regained the same bank of the river I had just left. I returned to the ferry, where I succeeded in crossing, being assisted by one of the men, for I was too low in stature to be able to bear up against the current alone. After this delay we resumed our journey, with the intention of halting during the night at a fazenda about a league further, but finding we had still ample time, we pushed on to a village called Almas, about two leagues to the westward, which we reached about sunset. The country we passed after crossing the river was nearly flat and thinly wooded, but not so much scorched up as that we traversed in the morning.

The village of Almas is situated in a hollow, and consists of a few irregular streets, the houses of which are low and of mean appearance, being built of large unburned bricks, made of clay mixed with chopped grass and dried in the sun. The number of its inhabitants amounts to about 800, by far the greater part of whom are blacks and mulattos, and intermixtures between these and Indians. The Juiz de Paz was a creole negro, who could[248] neither read nor write; he was the principal shopkeeper in the village, and annually made a journey to Bahia to purchase goods. The village contains a church, which is in about as ruined a condition as that of Duro, and, in like manner, has no resident priest. Although the neighbourhood presents abundance of excellent ground for plantations, not one was here to be seen. Upon our arrival I fully expected to be able to purchase some farinha, but none was to be had; it was indeed only as a great favour that a person who came to consult me professionally, sold me a little rice. Every one was complaining of the scarcity of provisions, and the want of money, but not a word was said about the indolence and idleness, which no doubt was the cause of the famine that now existed among them. In consequence of almost incessant rains, we were obliged to remain in the village four days.

Our first stage from Almas was to a fazenda, called Galheiro Morto, said to be only two leagues farther, but I have no doubt its real distance was nearly four, judging from the time we took to perform the journey. The leagues in this part of the country have never been measured, and as the land was originally bought by the league, it was the interest of the purchaser to take as large a portion as he could obtain; in the province of Piauhy, we found the leagues much longer than those of Ceará but those of Goyaz even exceeded them. This difference is so manifest, that they are designated as the short one (legoa pequena), and the long one (legoa grande); the shorter league I always found to be quite long enough, and whenever the long one was to be travelled over, I usually calculated the time necessary for accomplishing two short ones, and, indeed, I seldom found it required less. We halted at this place till the afternoon, when another journey of three leagues brought us to a little hamlet, consisting of about half a dozen houses, called Morhinos. The owner of the house where we put up for the night, returned from the woods shortly after our arrival, with a considerable quantity of wild honey, some of which he kindly gave us, and we found it to be excellent; it was the product of one of the smaller bees which are so numerous in this part of Brazil. This was the season in which the people[249] go to the woods in search of honey; it is so generally used, that after leaving Duro, a portion was presented to us at almost every house where we stopped. These bees mostly belong to the genus Melipona, Illig., and I collected a great many, which with some other zoological specimens were afterwards lost in crossing a river. A list of them with their native names and a few observations may not be uninteresting.

1. Jatahy.—This is a very minute yellowish-coloured species, being scarcely two lines long. The honey, which is excellent, very much resembles that of the common hive-bee of Europe.

2. Mulher branco.—About the same size as the Jatahy, but of a whitish colour; the honey is likewise good, but a little acid.

3. Tubí.—A little black bee, smaller than a common house-fly; the honey is good, but has a peculiar and bitter flavour.

4. Manoel d’abreu.—About the size of the Tubí, but of a yellowish colour; its honey is good.

5. Atakira.—Black, and nearly of the same size as the Tubí, the principal distinction between them consisting in the kind of entrance to their hives; the Tubí makes it of wax, the Atakira of clay; its honey is very good.

6. Oarití.—Of a blackish colour, and about the same size as the Tubí; its honey is rather sour, and not good.

7. Tataíra.—About the size of the Tubí, but with a yellow body, and a black head; its honey is excellent.

8. Mumbúco.—Black, and larger than the Tubí; the honey after being kept about an hour becomes as sour as lemon juice.

9. Bejuí.—Very like the Tubí, but smaller; its honey is excellent.

10. Tiubá.—Of the size of a large house-fly, and of a greyish black colour; its honey is excellent.

11. Borá.—About the size of a house-fly, and of a yellowish colour; its honey is acid.


12. Urussú.—About the size of a large bumble bee; the head is black and the body yellowish; it produces good honey.

13. Urussú preto.—Entirely black, and upwards of one inch in length; it likewise produces good honey.

14. Caniára.—Black, and about the same size as the Urussú preto; its honey is too bitter to be eatable; it is said to be a great thief of the honey of other bees.

15. Chupê.—About the size of the Tiubá, and of a black colour; it makes its hive of clay on the branches of trees, and is often of a very large size; its honey is good.

16. Urapuá.—Very like the Chupê, but it always builds its hive rounder, flatter, and smaller.

17. Enchí.—This is a kind of wasp, about the size of a house-fly; its head is black, and the body yellow; it builds its hive in the branches of trees; this is of a papery tissue, about three feet in circumference; its honey is good.

18. Enchú pequeno.—Very similar to the last, but it always makes a smaller hive; it also produces good honey.

The first eleven of these honey-bees construct their cells in the hollow trunks of trees, and the others, either in similar situations or beneath the ground; it is only the last three kinds that sting, all the others being harmless. The only attempt I ever saw to domesticate any of these bees, was by a Cornish miner, in the Gold District, who cut off those portions of the trunks of the trees which contained the nests, and hung them up under the eaves of his house; they seemed to thrive very well, but whenever the honey was wanted, it was necessary to destroy the bees. Both the Indians and the other inhabitants of the country, are very expert in tracing these insects to the trees in which they hive: they generally mix the honey, which is very fluid, with farinha before they eat it, and of the wax they make a coarse kind of taper about a yard long, which serves in lieu of candles, and which the country people bring to the villages for sale. We found these[251] very convenient, and always carried a sufficient stock with us; not unfrequently we were obliged to manufacture them ourselves, from the wax obtained by my own men; a coarse soft kind of cotton yam for wicks was always to be purchased at the different fazendas and villages through which we passed.

From Morhinos we went on to the fazenda of Nossa Senhora d’Amparo, the distance being about three leagues. It was my intention to proceed two leagues farther, to a fazenda called Santa Cruz, on the banks of the Rio do Peixe, there being a canoe there for crossing it; but having enquired about the state of the river, we were informed that it was then low, and might be forded at a place farther up, without taking off the loads, and, moreover, save a circuit of nearly two leagues. We had yet about a league to go before we reached this ferry, where I found the river much smaller than that of Manoel Alvez, and shallow enough to be passed without difficulty; but, notwithstanding this, one of the loads of dried plants met with a sad misfortune, the horse that bore it slipped, and fell down, just as he was emerging from the bank, when one of the boxes dropped into the river, and before it could be extracted was filled with water; it is only a botanist who can imagine my feelings on this occasion, when I saw upwards of 2,000 specimens, that had cost me so much labour to procure, completely drenched, and apparently ruined for ever. My first care was to unpack them, and put them into dry paper, but so many specimens were laid on every sheet, that this process had but little effect in dissipating the moisture; I contented myself, however, with the hope of being able next day to unpack them, and spread them out in the sun. After the box was dried, and the plants again deposited in it, the package was, for greater security, placed upon a stronger horse; we had not, however, proceeded above half a league, when in crossing a small rivulet, I had again the mortification to see the same box, as well as another that had previously escaped this disaster, both plunged below the water. The unlucky animal that carried them was leading the way, when instead of entering at the right fording-place, he stumbled into a deep hole, with a muddy bottom, and[252] in struggling to extricate himself, flung off both the packages. If I felt much chagrined on the former occasion, it may be imagined what my distress was, when I saw the hard labour of many weeks, the produce of a district hitherto unexplored by any botanist, thus apparently consigned to ruin; all that then could be done, was to drain the water out of the boxes, and resume our journey. It happened most fortunately that towards evening we reached a fazenda, where the principal article manufactured was farinha de mandiocca; and as it rained heavily all the next day, I was glad to obtain permission to make use of two large stoves, on which we dried, sheet by sheet, all the specimens that had been soaked; it was, however, the most fatiguing day’s work I ever encountered, for both Mr. Walker and myself were incessantly occupied over the heated stoves, from six o’clock in the morning till after midnight. In consequence of this prompt attention, the plants did not suffer so much as I anticipated.

We remained two days at this fazenda, called Mato Virgem, having to wait one day longer that I intended, owing to our want of farinha; the day after our arrival they commenced the manufacture of a quantity, which could not be got ready until the evening before we left. The place in which it was prepared, was the apartment where we were allowed to put up, the persons engaged in it being the mistress of the house, who was a young mulatta, and eight slaves, four men and four women; I was astonished to find all of them, except one man and one woman, affected with goître; the swelling on the neck of one of the women was much larger than her head. They assured me it was a very general complaint in this part of the province of Goyaz, particularly in the Villas of Natividade and Arrayas; in the Aldea of Duro, I saw only one woman affected by it, and another in the Arraial of Almas. One of the slaves was an old man upwards of one hundred years of age, and quite blind, but he was, notwithstanding, occupied all day in sifting farinha; his only dress consisted of a small dirty rag rolled round his middle; that of the others was but little better, indeed, in no part of Brazil did I meet with slaves so wretchedly attired as at this place. It was surprising[253] to me that the mistress was not ashamed to see them in such a state; but I have no doubt, the fault was with the owner of the fazenda, who, judging from his appearance, seemed to be an old miser.

When we left Mato Virgem it was our intention to reach a little hamlet, called João Lopez, said to be three long leagues distant. We were told that we should have no difficulty in getting there, as there was a straight road to it; but we had scarcely travelled a league and a half when we came to a place where there were two equally beaten paths, and not knowing which to take, we chose that leading to the right, and continuing onwards all day, through a flat thinly-wooded country, without seeing either man or house, we arrived at a fazenda, a little before sun down, where we were told, what I already suspected, that we had taken the wrong road; but it was of little consequence, as it led also to the Villa de Natividade, the place we finally intended to reach. This fazenda, called Sociedade, belongs to Senhor Manoel José Alves Leite, a young Portuguese, who was then Juiz de Paz of the Arraial da Chapada, a village about a league distant. On our arrival, we were very kindly treated by him; a fowl was immediately killed, and an excellent supper prepared, to which we did ample justice, after our long day’s journey. The Portuguese who settle in the country, are said by the Brazilians to be of a mean and grasping disposition, and deficient in the sentiment of benevolence; this may be the case with many among the great number of the uneducated, who emigrate from Portugal to Brazil, where there is not much inducement to the improvement of their character, but among them there are many young men, who have received some education, and who by their good behaviour, and closer attention to business than the proud and indolent Brazilians, sooner acquire means of independence, which causes them to become the objects both of their envy and dislike. I had little opportunity of associating with the Portuguese on the coast, but in the interior, I have met with many worthy men of that nation, who have shown me the greatest kindness, when this has been refused by a Brazilian. Ever since the independence of Brazil, they have[254] been very greatly persecuted, and whenever any political disturbance takes place, as a necessary consequence, numbers of Portuguese are murdered, and robbed of all they possess: there exists no fellow-feeling between the two nations. As soon as our host became aware of my intention to remain a month or two at Natividade, in order to give rest to my horses, he most kindly urged me to send them to his fazenda, where he would take charge of them till our departure; such, indeed, was the civility we experienced, that I had no reason to regret having taken the wrong road.

Early on the following morning, the 25th of October, we left Sociedade, and after a journey of two long leagues, reached the Villa de Natividade. The country between these two places is flat and thinly-wooded, but on the east side of the road, near the Villa, there is an extensive Serra, about 2,000 feet high, which stretches from north to south. The road passes near the base of this Serra for about half a league, and I was astonished to see the soil, which is of a gravelly nature, dug up into deep trenches, and at intervals the ruins of what appeared once to have been houses. These trenches, I was informed, were old gold workings, which had been abandoned for a long time, on account of the gold being exhausted. The gold-workings seem to have been carried to a considerable extent, for the entire soil, for about half a league in length, and more than a quarter of a mile in breadth, had evidently been completely turned over, to some depth, and the whole appeared to have undergone the process of washing; I afterwards found that most of the country in the vicinity of the Villa had been explored in the same manner. On our arrival, we had no difficulty in finding an empty house for our accommodation, and shortly afterwards; the rains set in very heavily, on which account we were detained here upwards of three months. This, however, I did not regret, after our long journey of considerably more than a thousand miles, reckoned from the time we left Oeiras, from the effects of which the horses had become much exhausted.

I must not omit to mention, that on our journey from Duro to Natividade, we met with great abundance of a delicious wild fruit,[255] a kind of Mangába (Hancornia pubescens var. Gardneri, Alph. DC.) different from the one that grows so abundantly in the province of Ceará and Pernambuco; the fruit is nearly twice its size, and even more delicious. We first met with it on the Serra do Duro, where it is called Mangába do morro, but it is also abundant on the Chapadas, on the plain below, and like that of the other species, this is only good to eat when ripe enough to fall from the tree.

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