# Chapter VII: BARRA DO RIO NEGRO AND THE SOLIMÃ•ES.

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Appearance of the Rio Negro—The City of Barra, its Trade and its Inhabitants—Journey up the Rio Negro—The Lingoa Geral—The Umbrella Bird—Mode of Life of the Indians—Return to Barra—Strangers in the City—Visit to the Solimões—The Gapó—Manaquery—Country Life—Curl-crested Araçaris—Vultures and Onças—Tobacco Growing and Manufacture—The Cow-Fish—Senhor Brandaõ—A Fishing Party with Senhor Henrique—Letters from England.

On the 31st of December, 1849, we arrived at the city of Barra on the Rio Negro. On the evening of the 30th the sun had set on the yellow Amazon, but we continued rowing till late at night, when we reached some rocks at the mouth of the Rio Negro, and caught some fine fish in the shallows. In the morning we looked with surprise at the wonderful change in the water around us. We might have fancied ourselves on the river Styx, for it was black as ink in every direction, except where the white sand, seen at the depth of a few feet through its dusky wave, appeared of a golden hue. The water itself is of a pale brown colour, the tinge being just perceptible in a glass, while in deep water it appears jet black, and well deserves its name of Rio Negro—”black river.”

We brought letters to Senhor Henrique Antony, an Italian gentleman settled here many years, and the principal merchant in the city; who received us with such hearty hospitality as at once to make us feel at home. He gave us the use of two large rooms in a new house of his own not quite finished, and invited us to take our meals at his table.

The city of Barra do Rio Negro is situated on the east bank of that river, about twelve miles above its junction with the Amazon. It is on uneven ground, about thirty feet above the high-water level, and there are two small streams or gullies running through it, where during the wet season the water rises to a considerable height, and across which are two wooden bridges. The streets are regularly laid out, but quite unpaved, much undulating, and full of holes, so that walking about at night is very unpleasant. The houses are generally of one story, with red-tiled roofs, brick floors, white-and yellow-washed walls, and green doors and shutters; and, when the sun shines, are pretty enough. The “Barra,” or fort, is now represented by a fragment of wall and a mound of earth, and there are two churches, but both very poor and far inferior to that of Santarem. The population is five or six thousand, of which the greater part are Indians and half-breeds; in fact, there is probably not a single person born in the place of pure European blood, so completely have the Portuguese amalgamated with the Indians. The trade is chiefly in Brazil-nuts, salsaparilha, and fish; and the imports are European cotton-goods of inferior quality, and quantities of coarse cutlery, beads, mirrors, and other trinkets for the trade with the Indian tribes, of which this is the head-quarters. The distance from Pará is about a thousand miles, and the voyage up in the wet season often takes from two to three months, so that flour, cheese, wine, and other necessaries, are always very dear, and often not to be obtained. The more civilised inhabitants of Barra are all engaged in trade, and have literally no amusements whatever, unless drinking and gambling on a small scale can be so considered: most of them never open a book, or have any mental occupation.

As might be expected, therefore, etiquette in dress is much attended to, and on Sunday at mass all are in full costume. The ladies dress very elegantly in a variety of French muslins and gauzes; they all have fine hair, which they arrange carefully, and ornament with flowers, and never hide it or their faces under caps or bonnets. The gentlemen, who pass all the week in dirty warehouses, in their shirt-sleeves and slippers, are then seen in suits of the finest black, with beaver hats, satin cravats, and patent-leather boots of the smallest dimensions; and then is the fashionable visiting time, when every one goes to see everybody, to talk over the accumulated scandal of the week. Morals in Barra are perhaps at the lowest ebb possible in any civilised community: you will every day hear things commonly talked of, about the most respectable families in the place, which would hardly be credited of the inhabitants of the worst parts of St. Giles’s.

The wet season had now set in, and we soon found there was little to be done in collecting birds or insects at Barra. I had been informed that this was the time to find the celebrated umbrella chatterers in plumage, and that they were plentiful in the islands about three days’ voyage up the Rio Negro. On communicating to Senhor Henrique my wish to go there, he applied to some of the authorities to furnish me with Indians to make the voyage. When they came, which was after three or four days, I started in my own canoe, leaving my brother H. to pay a visit to an estate in another direction. My voyage occupied three days, and I had a good opportunity of observing the striking difference between this river and the Amazon. Here were no islands of floating grass, no logs and uprooted trees, with their cargoes of gulls, scarcely any stream, and few signs of life in the black and sluggish waters. Yet when there is a storm, there are greater and more dangerous waves than on the Amazon. When the dark clouds above cause the water to appear of a yet more inky blackness, and the rising waves break in white foam over the vast expanse, the scene is gloomy in the extreme.

At Barra the river is about a mile and a half wide. A few miles up it widens considerably, in many places forming deep bays eight or ten miles across. Further on, again, it separates into several channels, divided by innumerable islands, and the total width is probably not less than twenty miles. We crossed where it is four or five miles wide, and then keeping up the left bank we entered among the islands, when the opposite shore was no more seen. We passed many sandy and pebbly beaches, with occasional masses of sandstone and volcanic rock, and a long extent of high and steep gravelly banks, everywhere, except in the most precipitous places, covered with a luxuriant vegetation of shrubs and forest-trees. We saw several cottages, and a village prettily situated on a high, grassy slope, and at length reached Castanheiro, the residence of Senhor Balbino, to whom I brought a letter. After reading it he asked me my intentions, and then promised to get me a good hunter to kill birds and any other animals I wanted.

The house of Senhor Balbino is generally known as the “Sobrado,” or upper-storied house, being the only one of the kind out of Barra. It was, however, in rather a dilapidated condition, the ladder which served for stairs wanting two steps, and requiring a great exertion of the muscles of the leg to ascend it. This, Senhor Henrique afterwards informed me, had been in the same state for several years, though Balbino has always a carpenter at work making canoes, who might put in a couple of boards in an hour.

An Indian living near now arrived, and we accompanied him to his house, where I was to find a lodging. It was about half a mile further up the river, at the mouth of a small stream, where there was a little settlement of two or three families. The part which it was proposed I should occupy was a small room with a very steep hill for a floor, and three doorways, two with palm-leaf mats and the other doing duty as a window. No choice being offered me, I at once accepted the use of this apartment, and, my men having now brought on my canoe, I ordered my boxes on shore, hung up my hammock, and at once took possession. The Indians then left me; but a boy lent me by Senhor Henrique remained with me to light a fire and boil my coffee, and prepare dinner when we were so fortunate as to get any. I borrowed a table to work at, but, owing to the great inclination of the ground, nothing that had not a very broad base would stay upon it. The houses here were imbedded in the forest, so that although there were four not twenty yards apart, they were not visible from each other, the space where the forest had been cut down being planted with fruit-trees.

Only one of the men here could speak Portuguese, all the rest using the Indian language, called Lingoa Geral, which I found very difficult to get hold of without any books, though it is an easy and simple language. The word igaripé, applied to all small streams, means “path of the canoe”; tatatinga, smoke, is literally “white fire.” Many of the words sound like Greek, as sapucaía, a fowl; apegáua, a man. In the names of animals the same vowel is often repeated, producing a very euphonious effect; as parawá, a parrot; maracajá, a tiger-cat; sucurujú, a poisonous snake. My Indian boy spoke Lingoa Geral and Portuguese, and so with his assistance I got on very well.

The next morning my hunter arrived, and immediately went out in his canoe among the islands, where the umbrella-birds are found. In the evening after dark he returned, bringing one fine specimen. This singular bird is about the size of a raven, and is of a similar colour, but its feathers have a more scaly appearance, from being margined with a different shade of glossy blue. It is also allied to the crows in its structure, being very similar to them in its feet and bill. On its head it bears a crest, different from that of any other bird. It is formed of feathers more than two inches long, very thickly set, and with hairy plumes curving over at the end. These can be laid back so as to be hardly visible, or can be erected and spread out on every side, forming a hemispherical, or rather a hemi-ellipsoidal dome, completely covering the head, and even reaching beyond the point of the beak: the individual feathers then stand out something like the down-bearing seeds of the dandelion. Besides this, there is another ornamental appendage on the breast, formed by a fleshy tubercle, as thick as a quill and an inch and a half long, which hangs down from the neck, and is thickly covered with glossy feathers, forming a large pendent plume or tassel. This also the bird can either press to its breast, so as to be scarcely visible, or can swell out, so as almost to conceal the forepart of its body. In the female the crest and the neck-plume are less developed, and she is altogether a smaller and much less handsome bird. It inhabits the flooded islands of the Rio Negro and the Solimões, never appearing on the mainland. It feeds on fruits, and utters a loud, hoarse cry, like some deep musical instrument; whence its Indian name, Ueramimbé, “trumpet-bird.” The whole of the neck, where the plume of feathers springs from, is covered internally with a thick coat of hard, muscular fat, very difficult to be cleaned away,—which, in preparing the skins, must be done, as it would putrefy, and cause the feathers to drop off. The birds are tolerably abundant, but are shy, and perch on the highest trees, and, being very muscular, will not fall unless severely wounded. My hunter worked very perseveringly to get them, going out before daylight and often not returning till nine or ten at night, yet he never brought me more than two at a time, generally only one, and sometimes none.

The only other birds found in the islands were the beautiful and rare little bristle-tailed manakin, and two species of curassow-bird. On the mainland, the white bell-bird was found on the loftiest trees of the forest, almost out of gunshot. Three were brought me, much disfigured with blood, having been shot at four or five times each before they fell. The beautiful trumpeter (Psophia crepitans), a different species from that found at Pará, was plentiful here. A rare little toucan (Pteroglossus Azaræ), and a few parrots, hawks, and Brazilian partridges, were the only other birds we met with.

Insects were by no means abundant, there being few paths in the woods in which to hunt for them or to cause them to accumulate together; for I have invariably found that in an open path through the forest the chequered light and shade causes a variety of plants to spring up and flowers to blow, which in their turn attract a great variety of insects. An open pathway seems to have similar attractions for many kinds of insects to what it has for ourselves. The great blue butterflies, and many smaller ones, will course along it for miles, and if driven into the forest will generally soon return to it again. The gleams of sunshine and the free current of air attract some; others seek the blossoms which there abound; while every particle of animal matter in the pathway is sure to be visited by a number of different species: so that upon the number and extent of the paths and roads which traverse the forest will depend in a great measure the success of the entomologist in these parts of South America.

There were two other rooms in the house where I lived, inhabited by three families. The men generally wore nothing but a pair of trousers, the women only a petticoat, and the children nothing at all. They all lived in the poorest manner, and at first I was quite puzzled to find out when they had their meals. In the morning early they would each have a cuya of mingau[3]; then about mid-day they would eat some dry farinha cake or a roasted yam; and in the evening some more mingau of farinha or plantains. I could not imagine that they really had nothing else to eat, but at last was obliged to come to the conclusion that various preparations of mandiocca and water formed their only food. About once a week they would get a few small fish or a bird, but then it would be divided among so many as only to serve as a relish to the cassava bread. My hunter never took anything out with him but a bag of dry farinha, and after being away fourteen hours in his canoe would come home and sit down in his hammock, and converse as if his thoughts were far from eating, and then, when a cuya of mingau was offered him, would quite contentedly drink it, and be ready to start off before daybreak the next morning. Yet he was as stout and jolly-looking as John Bull himself, fed daily on fat beef and mutton.

Most of the wild fruits—which are great favourites with these people, especially the women and children—are of an acrid or bitter taste, to which long practice only can reconcile a foreigner. Often, when seeing a little child gnawing away at some strange fruit, I have asked to taste it, thinking that it must be sweet to please at that lollipop-loving age, and have found a flavour like aloes or quassia, that I could not get out of my mouth for an hour; others equally relished are like yellow soap, and some as sour as verjuice.

These people almost always seem at work, but have very little to show for it. The women go to dig up mandiocca or yams, or they have weeding or planting to do, and at other times have earthen pots to make, and their scanty clothing to mend and wash. The men are always busy, either clearing the forest or cutting down timber for a canoe or for paddles, or to make a board for some purpose or other; and their houses always want mending, and then there is thatch to be brought from a long distance; or they want baskets, or bows and arrows, or some other thing which occupies nearly their whole time, and yet does not produce them the bare necessaries of life, or allow them leisure to hunt the game that abounds in the forest around them. This is principally the result of everybody doing everything for himself, slowly and with much unnecessary labour, instead of occupying himself with one kind of industry, and exchanging its produce for the articles he requires. An Indian spends a week in cutting down a tree in the forest, and fashioning an article which, by the division of labour, can be made for sixpence: the consequence is, that his work produces but sixpence a week, and he is therefore all his life earning a scanty supply of clothing, in a country where food may be had almost for nothing.

I had now a dull time of it in Barra. The wet season had regularly set in; a day hardly ever passed without rain, and on many days it was incessant. We seized every opportunity for a walk in the forest, but scarcely anything was to be found when we got there, and what we did get was with the greatest difficulty preserved; for the atmosphere was so saturated with moisture that insects moulded, and the feathers and hair dropped from the skins of birds and animals so as to render them quite unserviceable. Luckily, however, there were a good number of foreigners in Barra, so we had a little company. Two traders on the Amazon, an American and an Irishman, had arrived. Mr. Bates had reached Barra a few weeks after me, and was now here, unwilling, like myself, to go further up the country in such uninviting weather. There were also three Germans, one of whom spoke English well and was a bit of a naturalist, and all were good singers, and contributed a little amusement.

There was also a deaf and dumb American, named Baker, a very humorous and intelligent fellow, who was a constant fund of amusement both for the Brazilians and ourselves. He had been educated in the same institution with Laura Bridgman, as a teacher of the deaf and dumb. He seemed to have a passion for travelling, probably as the only means of furnishing through his one sense the necessary amount of exercise and stimulus to his mind. He had travelled alone through Peru and Chile, across to Brazil, through Pará to Barra, and now proposed going by the Rio Branco to Demerara, and so to the United States. He supported himself by selling the deaf and dumb alphabet, with explanations in Spanish and Portuguese. He carried a little slate, on which he could write anything in English or French, and also a good deal in Spanish, so that he could always make his wants known. He made himself at home in every house in Barra, walking in and out as he liked, and asking by signs for whatever he wanted. He was very merry, fond of practical jokes, and of making strange gesticulations. He pretended to be a phrenologist; and on feeling the head of a Portuguese or Brazilian would always write down on his slate, “Very fond of the ladies;” which on being translated would invariably elicit, “He verdade” (that’s very true), and signs of astonishment at his penetration. He was a great smoker, and would drink wine and spirits so freely as sometimes to make him carry his antics to a great length; still he was much liked, and will be long remembered by the people of Barra. But, poor fellow! he was never to see his native land again: he died a few months after, at the fortress of São Joaquim, on the Rio Branco,—it was said, of jaundice.

Notwithstanding all this, the time passed heavily enough; and though Mr. Hauxwell soon after arrived to add to our party, still nothing could make up for the desolation and death which the incessant rains appeared to have produced in all animated nature. Between two and three months passed away in this unexciting monotony, when, the river having nearly risen to its height, and there being some appearance of the weather improving, I determined on taking a journey to the Solimões (as the Amazon is called above the entrance of the Rio Negro), to the estate of Senhor Brandão, my kind host’s father-in-law.

The river was now so high that a great portion of the lowlands between the Rio Negro and the Amazon was flooded, being what is called “Gapó.” This is one of the most singular features of the Amazon. It extends from a little above Santarem up to the confines of Peru—a distance of about seventeen hundred miles—and varies in width on each side of the river from one to ten or twenty miles. From Santarem to Coarí, a little town on the Solimões, a person may go by canoe in the wet season without once entering into the main river. He will pass through small streams, lakes, and swamps, and everywhere around him will stretch out an illimitable waste of waters, but all covered with a lofty virgin forest. For days he will travel through this forest, scraping against tree-trunks, and stooping to pass beneath the leaves of prickly palms, now level with the water, though raised on stems forty feet high. In this trackless maze the Indian finds his way with unerring certainty, and by slight indications of broken twigs or scraped bark, goes on day by day as if travelling on a beaten road. In the Gapó peculiar animals are found, attracted by the fruits of trees which grow only there. In fact, the Indians assert that every tree that grows in the Gapó is distinct from all those found in other districts; and when we consider the extraordinary conditions under which these plants exist, being submerged for six months of the year till they are sufficiently lofty to rise above the highest water-level, it does not seem improbable that such may be the case. Many species of trogons are peculiar to the Gapó, others to the dry virgin forest. The umbrella chatterer is entirely confined to it, as is also the little bristle-tailed manakin. Some monkeys are found there only in the wet season, and whole tribes of Indians, such as the Purupurús and Múras, entirely inhabit it, building small, easily-removable huts on the sandy shores in the dry season, and on rafts in the wet; spending a great part of their lives in canoes, sleeping suspended in rude hammocks from trees over the deep water, cultivating no vegetables, but subsisting entirely on the fish, turtle, and cow-fish which they obtain from the river.

On crossing the Rio Negro from the city of Barra, we entered into a tract of this description. Our canoe was forced under branches and among dense bushes, till we got into a part where the trees were loftier, and a deep gloom prevailed. Here the lowest branches of the trees were level with the surface of the water, and were many of them putting forth flowers. As we proceeded we sometimes came to a grove of small palms, the leaves being now only a few feet above us, and among them was the marajá, bearing bunches of agreeable fruit, which, as we passed, the Indians cut off with their long knives. Sometimes the rustling of leaves overhead told us that monkeys were near, and we would soon perhaps discover them peeping down from among the thick foliage, and then bounding rapidly away as soon as we had caught a glimpse of them. Presently we came out into the sunshine, in a grassy lake filled with lilies and beautiful water-plants, little yellow bladder-worts (Utricularia), and the bright-blue flowers and curious leaves with swollen stalks of the Pontederias. Again in the gloom of the forest, among the lofty cylindrical trunks rising like columns out of the deep water: now a splashing of falling fruit around us would announce that birds were feeding overhead, and we could discover a flock of paroquets, or some bright-blue chatterers, or the lovely pompadour, with its delicate white wings and claret-coloured plumage; now with a whirr a trogon would seize a fruit on the wing, or some clumsy toucan make the branches shake as he alighted.

But what lovely yellow flower is that suspended in the air between two trunks, yet far from either? It shines in the gloom as if its petals were of gold. Now we pass close by it, and see its stalk, like a slender wire a yard and a half long, springing from a cluster of thick leaves on the bark of a tree. It is an Oncidium, one of the lovely orchis tribe, making these gloomy shades gay with its airy and brilliant flowers. Presently there are more of them, and then others appear, with white and spotted and purple blossoms, some growing on rotten logs floating in the water, but most on moss and decaying bark just above it. There is one magnificent species, four inches across, called by the natives St. Ann’s flower (Flor de Santa Anna), of a brilliant purple colour, and emitting a most delightful odour; it is a new species, and the most magnificent flower of its kind in these regions; even the natives will sometimes deign to admire it, and to wonder how such a beautiful flower grows “atóa” (uselessly) in the Gapó.

The estate is situated on the south side of the Solimões, about a hundred miles above its junction with the Rio Negro, The whole tract of country round it consists of igaripés, or small streams, lakes, gapó, and patches of high and dry land, so scattered and mixed together that it is very difficult to tell whether any particular portion is an island or not. The land, for a short distance on the banks of the stream, rises in an abrupt, rocky cliff, thirty or forty feet above high-water mark: the rocks are of a volcanic nature, being a coarse and often vitreous scoria. On ascending by some rude steps, I found myself in a flat grassy meadow, scattered over with orange-trees, mangoes, and some noble tamarind and calabash trees, and at the back a thicket of guavas.

I stayed here nearly two months, enjoying a regular country life, and getting together a tolerable collection of birds and insects.

In a few days a hunter I had engaged in Barra arrived, and forthwith commenced operations. In the afternoon he generally brought me some birds or monkeys, which were very plentiful. We rose about half-past five, and by six had a cup of hot coffee; I then sat down to skin birds, if any had been brought late over-night, or, if not, took my gun and walked out in search of some. At seven or half-past we had a basin of Indian-meal porridge, or chocolate, with new milk, as a sort of breakfast. At twelve punctually we dined, the standing dish being tambakí, varied occasionally with fowl, cow-fish, deer, or other game. At four we had another cup of coffee, with biscuit or fruit, and at seven we took supper of fish like our dinner, if the fisherman had arrived. In the morning, for a couple of hours, I generally went with my net in search of insects. Several rare butterflies were found sitting on the river’s side, on the margin of mud left by the retiring waters. Small toucans or araçaris of several species were very abundant the rarest and most beautiful being the “curl-crested,” whose head is covered with little glossy curls of a hard substance, more like quill or metallic shavings than feathers. These are at times plentiful, but did not appear till some weeks later than the other species, when I was at last rewarded for my patience by obtaining several beautiful specimens.

The common black vultures were abundant, but were rather put to it for food, being obliged to eat palm-fruits in the forest when they could find nothing else. Every morning it was an amusing sight to see them run after the pigs the moment they got up, three or four following close at the heels of each animal, for the purpose of devouring its dung the moment it was dropped. The pigs seemed to be very much annoyed at such indecent behaviour, and would frequently turn round and take a run at the birds, who would hop out of the way or fly a short distance, but immediately resume their positions as soon as the pig continued his walk.

I am convinced, from repeated observations, that the vultures depend entirely on sight, and not at all on smell, in seeking out their food. While skinning a bird, a dozen of them used to be always waiting attendance at a moderate distance. The moment I threw away a piece of meat they would all run up to seize it; but it frequently happened to fall in a little hollow of the ground or among some grass, and then they would hop about, searching within a foot of it, and very often go away without finding it at all. A piece of stick or paper would bring them down just as rapidly, and after seeing what it was they would quietly go back to their former places. They always choose elevated stations, evidently to see what food they can discover; and when soaring at an immense height in the air, they will descend into the forest where a cow has died or been killed, long before it becomes putrid or emits any strong smell. I have often wrapped a piece of half-putrid meat in paper and thrown it to them, and even then, after hopping up to it, they will retire quite satisfied that it is only paper, and nothing at all eatable.

The weather was now very dry: no rain had fallen for some time; the oranges were fully ripe, and the grass, so green and fresh when I arrived, was beginning to assume a brownish-yellow tinge. Tobacco-picking had begun, and I saw the process of the manufacture as carried on here. Tobacco is sown thickly on a small patch of ground, and the young plants are then set in rows, just as we do cabbages. They are much attacked by the caterpillar of a sphinx moth, which grows to a large size, and would completely devour the crop unless carefully picked off. Old men, and women, and children are therefore constantly employed going over a part of the field every day, and carefully examining the plants leaf by leaf till the insects are completely exterminated. When they show any inclination to flower, the buds are nipped off; and as soon as the leaves have reached their full size, they are gathered in strong wicker baskets, and are laid out in the house or a shed, on poles supported by uprights from the floor to the ceiling. In a few days they dry, and during the hot days become quite crisp; but the moisture of the night softens them, and early in the morning they are flaccid. When they are judged sufficiently dry, every leaf must have the strong fibrous midrib taken out of it. For this purpose all the household—men, women, and children—are called up at four in the morning, and are set to work tearing out the midrib, before the heat of the day makes the leaves too brittle to allow of the operation. A few of the best leaves are sometimes selected to make cigars, but the whole is generally manufactured into rolls of two or four pounds each. The proper quantity is weighed out, and placed, regularly in layers on a table in a row about a yard long, rather thicker in the middle. Beginning at one end, this is carefully rolled up and wound round with a cord as tightly as possible. In a few days these rolls are opened out, to see if there is any tendency to heat or mould, and if all is right they are again made up with greater care. Every day they are rebound tighter and tighter, the operator sitting on the ground with the cord twisted round a post, and winding and tightening with all his strength, till at length the roll has become compressed into a solid mass about an inch in diameter, and gradually tapering towards each end. It is then wound closely from end to end with a neat strip of the rind of the Uarumá (a water-rush), and tied up in bundles of an arroba and half an arroba (thirty-two and sixteen pounds), and is ready for sale. When the tobacco is good, or has, as they term it, “much honey in it,” it will cut as smooth and solid as a piece of Spanish liquorice, and can be bent double without cracking. The price varies according to the quality and the supply, from 4d. to 1s. per pound.

One day the fisherman brought us in a fine “peixe boi,” or cow-fish, a species of Manatus, which inhabits the Amazon, and is particularly abundant in the lakes in this part of the river. It was a female, about six feet long, and near five in circumference in the thickest part. The body is perfectly smooth, and without any projections or inequalities, gradually changing into a horizontal semicircular flat tail, with no appearance whatever of hind limbs. There is no distinct neck; the head is not very large, and is terminated by a large mouth and fleshy lips, somewhat resembling those of a cow. There are stiff bristles on the lips, and a few distantly scattered hairs over the body. Behind the head are two powerful oval fins, and just beneath them are the breasts, from which, on pressure being applied, flows a stream of beautiful white milk. The ears are minute holes, and the eyes very small. The dung resembles that of a horse. The colour is a dusky lead, with some large pinkish-white marbled blotches on the belly. The skin is about an inch thick on the back, and a quarter of an inch on the belly. Beneath the skin is a layer of fat of a greater or less thickness, generally about an inch, which is boiled down to make an oil used for light and for cooking. The intestines are very voluminous, the heart about the size of a sheep’s, and the lungs about two feet long, and six or seven inches wide, very cellular and spongy, and can be blown out like a bladder. The skull is large and solid, with no front teeth; the vertebræ extend to the very tip of the tail, but show no rudiments of posterior limbs; the fore limbs, on the contrary, are very highly developed, the bones exactly corresponding to those of the human arm, having even the five fingers, with every joint distinct, yet enclosed in a stiff inflexible skin, where not a joint can have any motion.

The cow-fish feeds on grass at the borders of the rivers and lakes, and swims quickly with the tail and paddles; and though the external organs of sight and hearing are so imperfect, these senses are said by the hunters to be remarkably acute, and to render necessary all their caution and skill to capture the animals. They bring forth one, or rarely two, young ones, which they clasp in their arms or paddles while giving suck. They are harpooned, or caught in a strong net, at the narrow entrance of a lake or stream, and are killed by driving a wooden plug with a mallet up their nostrils. Each yields from five to twenty-five gallons of oil. The flesh is very good, being something between beef and pork, and this one furnished us with several meals, and was an agreeable change from our fish diet.

As I now expected a canoe shortly to arrive, bringing me letters and remittances from England, after which I was anxious to set off for the Upper Rio Negro as soon as possible, I determined to return to Barra, and having agreed for a passage in a canoe going there, I took leave of my kind host. I must, however, first say a few words about him. Senhor José Antonio Brandão had come over from Portugal when very young, and had married early and settled, with the intention of spending his life here. Very singularly for a Portuguese, he entirely devoted himself to agriculture. He built himself a country-house at Manaquery, on a lake near the main river, brought Indians from a distance to settle with him, cleared the forest, planted orange, tamarind, mango, and many other fruit-bearing trees, made pleasant avenues, gardens, and pastures, stocked them well with cattle, sheep, pigs, and poultry, and set himself down to the full enjoyment of a country life. But about twenty years ago, while his family were yet young, disturbances and revolutions broke out, and he, as well as all natives of Portugal, though he had signed the constitution of the Empire, and was in heart a true Brazilian, became an object of dislike and suspicion to many of the more violent of the revolutionists. A tribe of Indians who resided near him, and to whom he had shown constant kindness, were incited to burn down his house and destroy his property. This they did effectually, rooting up his fruit-trees, burning his crops, killing his cattle and his servants, and his wife and family only escaped from their murderous arrows by timely flight to the forest. During the long years of anarchy and confusion which followed, he was appointed a magistrate in Barra, and was unable to look after his estate. His wife died, his children married, and he of course felt then little interest in restoring things to their former state.

On arriving at Barra, the expected canoe had not arrived, and many weeks passed wearily away. The weather was fine, but Barra is a very poor locality for making collections. Insects were remarkably scarce and uninteresting, and I looked forward anxiously to the time when I could start for some distant and more promising district. The season was very dry and hot: the thermometer, at two, every afternoon, reaching 94° and 95° in the shade, and not often sinking below 75° during the night. The lowest which I observed, just before sunrise, was 70°, and the highest in the afternoon, 96°. There was scarcely any rain during the months of July and August, so the grass about the city was completely burnt up. The river was now falling rapidly, and the sandbanks in the Amazon were, some of them, just rising above the water.

One day, Senhor Henrique made a party to go fishing, with a large drag-net, in the Solimões. We started in the afternoon in a good canoe, with a party of about a dozen, and eight or ten Indian rowers; and just before sunset, reached the mouth of the Rio Negro, and turned up into the strong and turbid waters of the Solimões. There was a bright moon, and we kept on talking and singing, while passing the narrow channels and green islands on the north side of the river which looked most picturesquely wild and solitary by the pale silvery moonlight, and amid the solemn silence of the forest. By about midnight, we reached a large sandbank, just rising out of the water. Most of the party turned up their trousers, and waded though the shallows, till they reached the bank, where they began searching for small turtles’ eggs, and those of gulls and other water-birds, which lay them in little hollows scraped in the sand. Gulls, divers, ducks, and sandpipers flew screaming about as we landed, and the splash of fish in the shallow water told us that there was abundance of sport for us. Senhor Henrique soon ordered the Indians to get out the net, and commenced dragging. Every time the net was drawn on-shore we nearly filled a basket with numerous small fishes, and a few of larger size. There were quantities of little ones armed with spines, which inflict a serious wound if trodden on, so we had to be cautious with our bare feet. I was much interested in the great variety and the curious forms that every basketful contained. There were numbers of a little fish, peculiar to the Amazon, which inflates the fore part of the body into a complete ball, and when stamped upon explodes with a noise similar to that produced by the bursting of an inflated paper bag.

After two or three hours, we felt rather tired, so we made a fire, and cooked some of our fish for a meal,—which we might call supper or breakfast, as we pleased, for dawn was now appearing. We then again went on fishing, while others got their guns, and endeavoured to shoot some of the wild ducks. One gentleman, with a rifle, made an extraordinary shot, bringing down a single duck flying, at a long distance, with a bullet. Now it was daylight, I endeavoured to sketch some of the curious fish, but they were so numerous, and the sun was so hot, that I could do but little; and as they became putrid in a few hours, I could not keep them for the purpose till we returned home. About ten in the morning we left off fishing, and began cooking. We had roasted, broiled, and stewed fish, and with oil and vinegar, and plenty of pepper and salt, made a very excellent breakfast. We also had wine, bread, and farinha, and coffee for those who preferred it. While we were at breakfast, our Indians lay down on the sand, in the sun, to take a nap, as they had been hard at work for two days without sleep. In about an hour they were roused to breakfast, and then at noon we started on our way home.

At five in the afternoon we reached a place at the mouth of the Rio Negro, where there are some flat rocks, and generally abundance of fish. Here most of the party began fishing again with rod and line, and were pretty successful; and a fisherman coming in with a fine pirarucú, weighing thirty or forty pounds, Senhor Henrique bought it of him, in order to have something worth showing from our excursion.

We then proceeded homewards, many of us dozing; and our Indians rowing hard, but hardly able to keep their eyes open. Now and then, one would regularly drop off to sleep, but keep on paddling mechanically, without pulling very hard. One of his companions would then tickle his nose, and rouse him up, and his look of astonishment to find he had been sleeping would set all in a roar of laughter at his expense. It was midnight when we reached Barra, and we were all pretty glad to seek our hammocks.