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the cow-tree. Whatever relates to milk, whatever regards corn, inspires an interest, which is not merely that of the physical knowledge of things, but is connected with another order of ideas and sentiments. We can şcarcely conceive how the human race could exist without farinaceous substances; and without that nourishing juice, which the breast of the mother contains, and which is appropriated to the long feebleness of the infant. The amylaceous matter of corn, the object of religious veneration among so many nations, ancient and modern, is diffused in the seeds, and deposited in the roots of vegetables ; inilk, which serves us as an aliment, appears to us exclusively the produce of animal organization. Such are the impressions we have received in our earliest infancy: such is also the source of that astonishment, which seizes us at the aspect of the tree just described. It is not here the solemn shades of forests, the majestic course of rivers, the mountains wrapped in eternal frost, that excite our emotion. A few drops of vegetable juice recall to our minds all the powerfulness and fecundity of nature. On the barren fank of a rock grows a tree with coriaceous and dry leaves. It's large woody roots can scarcely penetrate into the stone. For several months of the year not a single shower moistens its foliage. Ils branches appear dead and dried ; but when the trunk is pierced, there flows from it a sweet and nourishing milk. It is at the rising of the sun, that this vegetable fountain is most abundant. The Blacks and natives are then seen hastening from all quarters, furnished with large bowls to receive the milk, which grows yellow, and thickens at its surface. Some employ their bowls under the tree itself, others carry the juice home to their children. We seem to see the family of a shepherd, who distributes the milk of his flock.
I have described the sensations, which the cow-tree awakens in the mind of the traveller at the first view. In examining the physical properties of animal and vegetable products, science displays them as closely linked together; but it strips them of what is marvellous, and perhaps also of a part of their charms, of what excited our astonishment. Nothing appears isolated; the chemical principles that were believed to be peculiar to animals, are found in plants; a common chain links together all organic nature.'-p. 215.
We must quit the remaining part of this chapter, which is chiefly occupied by a tedious dissertation on the culture of cacao, and the manufacture and export of chocolate. There is an incident, however, culled out of Oviedo's History of Venezuela, which is interesting as being somewhat analogous to those which are now passing in the island of St. Domingo.
• A Negro slave excited an insurrection among the miners of the Real de San Felipe de Buria. He retired into the woods, and founded, with two hundred of his companions, a town, where he was proclaimed king. Miguel, this new monarch, was a friend to pomp and parade. He caused his wife Guiomar, to assume the title of queen; and, according to Oviedo, he appointed ministers and counsellors of state, officers of la casa real, and even a Negro bishop. He had soon after the boldness to attack
the neighbouring town of Nueva Segovia de Barquesimeto; but, being repulsed by Diego de Losada, he perished in the fight. This African monarchy was succeeded at Nirgua by a republic of Zamboes, the descendants of Negroes and Indians. The whole municipality is composed of men of colour, to whom the king of Spain has given the title of “ his faithful and loyal subjects, the Zamboes of Nirgua.” Few families of Whites will inhabit a country, where the system that prevails is so contrary to their pretensions; and the little town is called in derision la republica de Zambos y Mulatos. It is as imprudent to cede the government to a single cast, as to segregate that cast by depriving it of its natural rights.'-p. 252.
Our travellers now, to use the words of M. de Humboldt,“from a peopled country embellished with cultivation, plunge into a vast solitude'-into those immense plains, savannahs, destitute of trees, which
appear to the eye to ascend like the great ocean toward the horizon. In the Mesa de Paja, in the ninth degree of latitude, they first entered the basin of the Llanos.
• The sun was almost at the zenith; the earth, wherever it appeared sterile and destitute of vegetation, was at the temperature of 48° or 50°. Not a breath of air was felt at the height at which we were on our mules; yet, in the midst of this apparent calm, whirls of dust incessantly arose, driven on by those small currents of air, that glide only over the surface of the ground, and are occasioned by the difference of temperature, which the naked sand and the spots covered with herbs acquire. These sand winds augment the suffocating heat of the air. Every grain of quartz, hotter than the surrounding air, radiates heat in every direction; and it is difficult to observe the temperature of the atmosphere, without these particles of sand striking against the bulb of the thermometer. All around us, the plains seemed to ascend toward the sky, and that vast and profound solitude appeared to our eyes like an ocean covered with seaweeds. According to the unequal mass of vapours diffused through the atmosphere, and the variable decrement in the temperature of the different strata of air, the horizon in some parts was clear and distinct; in other parts it appeared undulating, sinuous, and as if striped. The earth there was confounded with the sky. Through the dry fog, and strata of vapour, the trunks of palmtrees were seen from afar. Stripped of their foliage, and their verdant summits, these trunks appeared like the masts of a ship discovered at the horizon.
* There is something awful, but sad and gloomy in the uniform aspect of these steppes. Every thing seems motionless ; scarcely does a small cloud, as it passes across the zenith, and announces the approach of the rainy season, sometimes cast its shadow on the savannah. I know not whether the first aspect of the Llanos excite less astonishment than that of the chain of the Andes. Mountainous countries, whatever may be the absolute elevation of the highest summits, have an analogous physiognomy; but we accustom ourselves with difficulty to the view of the Llanos of Venezuela and Casanare, to that of the Pampas of Buenos
Ayres and of Chaco, which recall to mind incessantly, and during journies of twenty or thirty days, the smooth surface of the ocean.'—p. 292.
M. de Humboldt justly observes that erroneous notions are inculcated by characterizing Europe by its heaths, Asia by its steppes, Africa by its deserts, and America by its savannahs; because none of them are peculiar to any of the four quarters of the globe. Deserts, it is true, like those of Africa, are almost wanting in the new world; they exist, however, in the low part of Peru on the borders of the South Sea, and are called by the Spaniards, not Llanos, but desiertos. This solitary tract (our author says) is not broad, but four hundred and forty leagues long. The rock pierces every where through the quicksands. No drop of rain ever falls on it; and, like the desert of Sahara, to the north of Tombuctoo, the Peruvian desert affords, near Huaura, a rich mine of native salt. Every where else, in the new world, there are plains, desert because not inhabited, but no real deserts.'
The name of prairies, given to the savannahs of America, appears to M. de Humboldt to be little applicable to pastures that are often very dry, though covered with grass of four or five feet in height. The Llanos and the pampas of South America he considers as real steppes. “They display,' he says, ' a beautiful verdure in the rainy season, but in the time of great drought assume the aspect of a desert. The grass is then reduced to powder, the earth cracks, the alligator and the great serpents remain buried in the dried mud till awakened from their long lethargy by the first showers of spring. These immense plains appear, as far as the eye can reach, to adopt our traveller's expression, like an ocean of verdure.' Their extent, however, great as it is, is apt to deceive the traveller. The uniform landscape of the Llanos; the extreme rarity of inhabitants; the fatigue of travelling beneath a burning sky, and an atmosphere darkened with dust; the view of that horizon which seems for ever to fly before us; those lowly trunks of palm trees, which have all the same aspect, and which we despair of reaching, because they are confounded with other trunks that rise by degrees on the visual horizon; all these causes combined make the steppes appear far greater than they are in reality. The chief characteristic of these savannahs is the absolute want of hills and inequalities, and the perfect level of every part of the soil, so remarkable, that often in the space of thirty square leagues, there is not an eminence of a foot high. This regularity of surface is said to reign without interruption from the mouth of the Oroonoko to La Villa de Araure and Ospinos under a parallel of a hundred and eighty leagues in length, and from San Carlos to the savannahs of Caqueta, on a meridian of two hundred leagues. There are, however, on the surface of these Llanos two kinds of inequali
ties which, M. de Humboldt remarks, will not escape the observation of an attentive traveller. The first is known by the name of Bancos, which he says are real shoals in the basin of the steppes, fractured strata of sandstone or compact limestone, standing four or five feet higher than the rest of the plain, and extending sometimes three four leagues in length; being entirely smooth, with a horrizontal surface, their existence is discovered only by examining their borders. The second species of inequality is known by the name of Mesa, and is composed of small flats, or rather convex eminences, which rise insensibly to the height of a few toises, and are to be recognized only by geodesical or barometrical levellings, or by the course of rivers. Some of these, inconsiderable as they are, divide the waters between the Oroonoko and the northern coast of Terra Firma.
Our author has sketched a bold geographical outline of South America. He observes that in order to have an exact idea of the plains, their configuration and their limits, we must know the chains of mountains that form their boundary. From the great chain of the Andes, then, which bounds or nearly so the western side of South America throughout its whole extent in a north and south direction, branch out three distinct Cordilleras, or transverse chains, dividing this continent from east to west. The first to the vorthward is called by our author the Cordillera of the Coast, of which the highest summit is the Silla de Caraccas, and which runs across the country in about the tenth parallel of latitude. The second chain he has named the Cordillera of Parime, or of the great Cataracts of the Oroonoko; it extends between the parallels of 3° and 7° from the mouths of the Guaviare and the Meta to the sources of the Oroonoko, the Marony and the Esquibo, towards French and Dutch Guyana. The third chain is the Cordillera of Chiquitos, which divides the rivers flowing into the Amazon from those of the Rio de la Plata; and unites, in 16° and 18° of south latitude, the Andes of Peru to the mountains of Brazil. The small elevation of the great plains inclosed within these Cordilleras and the Andes, but open to the east, would tempt one to consider them, says our traveller, 'as gulfs stretching in the direction of the current of rotation. If from the effect of some peculiar attraction, the waters of the Atlantic were to rise fifty toises at the mouth of the Oroonoko, and two hundred toises at the mouth of the Amazon, the great tide would cover more than half of South America. The eastern declivity of the foot of the Andes, now six hundred leagues distant from the coast of Brazil, would become a shore beaten by the waves. He might have added that such a tide would cover the plains of Hindostan and wash the feet of the Himalaya mountains; and we are not sure that one half of the globe, as well as half of
South America, would not be deluged by a tide of 600 feet in 1 perpendicular height.
Having described the mountains, we have next the following grand outline of the three plains.
* These three transverse chains, or rather these three groups of mountains, stretching from west to east, within the limits of the torrid zone, are separated by tracts entirely level, the plains of Caraccas, or of the Lower Oroonoko; the plains of the Amazon and the Rio Negro; and the plains of Buenos Ayres, or of La Plata. I do not use the name of valley, because the Lower Oroonoko and the Amazon, far from flowing in a valley, form but a little furrow in the midst of a vast plain. The two basins, placed at the extremities of South America, are savannahs or steppes, pasturage without trees; the intermediate basin, which receives the equatorial rains during the whole year, is almost entirely one vast forest, in which no other road is known than the rivers. That strength of vegetation which conceals the soil, renders also the uniformity of its level less perceptible; and the plains of Caraccas and La Plata alone bear this name. The three basins we have just described are called, in the language of the colonists, the Llanos of Varinas and of Caraccas, the bosques or selras (forests) of the Amazon, and the Pampas of Buenos Ayres. The trees not only for the most part cover the plains of the Amazon, from the Cordillera of Chiquitos, as far as that of Parime; they crown also these two chains of mountains, which rarely attain the height of the Pyrenees. On this account the vast plains of the Amazon, the Madeira, and the Rio Negro, are not so distinctly bounded as the Llanos of Caraccas and the Pampas of Buenos Ayres. As the region of forests comprises at once the plains and the mountains, it extends from 18° south to 7o and 8° north, and occupies an extent of near a hundred and twenty thousand square leagues. This forest of South America, for in fact there is only one, is six times larger than France.' -p. 306.
Some faint traces of the industry of an ancient people that has disappeared, are afforded on the northern plains of Varinas in a few scattered hillocks, or tumuli, of a conical shape, called by the Spaniards the Serillos de los Indios; and in a causeway of earth five leagues in length, and fifteen feet high, crossing a plain which is frequently overflowed. These were constructed long before the conquest; and M. de Humboldt seems at a loss to account for their appearance. "Did nations,' he says, farther advanced in civilization descend from the mountains of Truxillo towards the plain of the Apure? the Indians, whom we now find between the Apure and the Meta, are in too rude a state to think of making roads or raising tumuli.'
The paucity and the poverty of the lactiferous animals, and the consequent absence of pastoral vations in the New World, afford a powerful argument against the theory which would people America from Eastern Asia, to which, if we mistake not, M. de Humboldt