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rather inclines; for we can hardly suppose that any of the pastoral hordes of Tartars would emigrate across the strait of Beliring, or pass the bridge formed by the Aleutian islands, without carrying with them a supply of those cattle on which their whole subsistence depended. That America was admirably suited for the propagation of them is proved by the extraordinary herds of wild cattle and horses which have overrun the plains from the few originally carried over by the Spaniards. In the northern plains alone, from the Oroonoko to the lake of Maracaybo, M. Depons reckons that 1,200,000 oxen, 180,000 horses, and 90,000 mules, wander at large; and M. de Humboldt observes, on the authority of Azzora, that it is believed there exist in the Pampas of Buenos Ayres 12,000,000 cows, and 3,000,000 horses, without comprizing in this enumeration the cattle that have no acknowledged proprietor. In the Llanos of Caraccas the rich hateros, or 'proprietors of pastoral farms, are entirely ignorant of the number of cattle they possess. The young are branded with a mark peculiar to each herd, and some of the most wealthy owners mark as many as 14,000 a year.
Several species of the palm tribe are scattered over the northern Llanos, especially the palma de cobija, (the corypha tectorum,) the wood of which is so hard that it is difficult to drive a nail into it. It is therefore excellent for building, and its fanlike leaves afford a thatch for the roofs of the huts, which will last more than twenty years. Another species of corypha is known by the name of the palma real de los Llanos.
Other palm-trees rise to the South of Guayaval, especially the piritu with pinnate leaves, and the murichi, (moriche,) celebrated by father Gumilla under the name of arbol de la vida. It is the sago-tree of America, furnishing " victum et amictum,” flour, wire, and thread to weave hammocks, baskets, nets, and clothing. Its fruit, of the form of the cones of the pine, and covered with scales, perfectly resemble those of the calamus rotang. It has somewhat the taste of the apple. When arrived at its maturity it is yellow within and red without. The araguato monkeys eat it with avidity; and the nation of Guaraounoes, whose whole existence, it may be said, is closely linked with that of the murichi palm-tree, draw from it a fermented liquor, slightly acid, and extremely refreshing. This palm-tree, with large shining leaves folded like a fan, preserves a beautiful verdure at the period of the greatest drought. Its sight alone produces an agreeable sensation of coolness, and the murichi, loaded with scaly fruit, contrasts singularly with the mournful aspect of the palma de cobija, the foliage of which is always gray and covered with dust. The Llaneros believe that the former attracts the
vapours in the air; and that for this reason water is constantly found at its foot when dug for to a certain depth. The effect is confounded with the cause. The murichi grows best in moist places; VOL. XXI. NO, XLII.
and it may rather be said, that the water attracts the tree. The natives of the Oroonoko, by analogous reasoning, admit that the great serpents contribute to preserve humidity in a canton. “ You would look in vain for water-serpents," said an old Indian of Javita to us gravely, “ where there are no marshes; because the water collects no more when you inprudently kill the serpents that attract it.” '-p. 334.
Our travellers having passed two nights on horseback, and sought in vain by day for some shelter from the ardour of the sun beneath the tufts of the murichi palin-trees, arrived just before the third night set in at the little farin of El Cayman, or the Alligator, a solitary house surrounded by a few small huts, covered with reeds and skins: no enclosure of any kind appeared; the horses, oxen and mules rambled where they pleased, and were brought together by men naked to the waist, and armed with a lance, who scour the savannahs on horseback for that purpose. These people are known by the name of Peones Llaneros, and are partly free and partly slaves. A little meat dried in the air and spriukled with salt constitutes the chief part of their food. An old negro slave had the management of the farm in question. Though he had several thousand cow's (inder his care, it was in vain our travellers asked for a bowl of milk; and they were fain to put up with some fetid water drawn from a neighbouring pool, which he advised them to drink through a piece of linen cloth, that they might not be incommoded by the smell, or swallow the fine yellowish clay suspended in the water.
After suffering greatly from the excessive heat of the sun they reached Calabozo, a flourishing little town in the midst of the Llanos, with a population of about 5000 souls, their wealth consisting chiefly of herds of cattle. Here an ingenious inhabitant, of the name of Carlos del Pozo, had constructed an electrical machine with large plates, electrophori, batteries and electrometers, forming an apparatus nearly as complete as the first scientific men in Europe possessed, and which he had constructed entirely from reading the treatise of Sigaud de la Fond and Franklin's Memoirs. The joy of this curious and ingenious native of the Llanos may be easily conceived on meeting with such intelligent travellers as MM. de Humboldt and Bonpland. They shewed him the effect of the contact of heterogeneous metals on the nerves of frogs; and thus, for the first time, the names of Galvani and Volta resounded in those vast solitudes.
Men of science and ingenuity seldom communicate without deriving mutual advantage. The electrical apparatus and the Voltaic pile led to the subject of the gymnoti, or electrical eels, which had been an object of research to M. de Humboldt from the time of his arrival at Cumana. He wished to procure some of these eels at Calabozo, but the dread of them is so great among the
Indians that the offer of reward was unavailing; though they pretended that, by only chewing a little tobacco, they might venture to touch them with impunity. This fable,' says M. de Humboldt,
of the influence of tobacco on animal electricity, is as general on the continent of South America, as the belief among mariners of the effect of garlic and tallow on the magnetic needle'-he might have added, as groundless too. Impatient of waiting longer for the Indians, they proceeded to the Cano de Bera, from whence they were conducted to a stream, which in the time of drought forins a basin of muddy water surrounded by fine trees. The gymnoti are difficult to be taken by nets on account of their extreme agility, and their burying themselves in the mud like serpents; they are more easily caught by the roots of the piscidea erithryna, jacquinia armillaris, and some species of phyllanthus, which, when thrown into the pool, intoxicate or benumb them; this, however, would have enfeebled the gymnoti, and our philosophers wished to procure them in full vigour. The Indians therefore told them that ihey would embarbascar con cavallos-set the fish to sleep, or intoxicate them with horses.
They found it difficult to conceive what this meant; but they saw the guides, who had gone to the savannah, return presently with about thirty horses and mules which they had collected. T'he novel and singular scene which ensued is thus described.
• The extraordinary noise caused by the horses' hoofs makes the fish issue from the mud, and excites them to combat. These yellowish and livid eels, resembling large aquatic serpents, swim on the surface of the water, and crowd under the bellies of the horses and mules. A contest between animals of so different an organization furnishes a very striking spectacle. The Indians, provided with harpoons and long slender reeds, surround the pool closely; and some climb upon the trees, the branches of which estend horizontally over the surface of the water. By their wild cries, and the length of their reeds, they prevent the horses from running away and reaching the bank of the pool. The eels, stunned by the noise, defend themselves by the repeated discharge of their electric batteries. During a long time they seem to prove victorious. Several horses sink beneath the violence of the invisible strokes, which they receive from all sides in orgáns the most essential to life; and stunned by the force and frequency of the shocks, disappear under the water. . Others, panting, with mane erect and haggard eyes, expressing anguish, raise themselves, and endeavour to flee from the storm by which they are overtaken. They are driven back by the Indians into the middle of the water; but a small number succeed in eluding the active vigilance of the fishermen. These regain the shore, stumbling at every step, and stretch themselves on the sand, exhausted with fatigue, and their limbs benumbed by the electric shocks of the gymnoti.
• In less than five minutes two horses were drowned. The eel, being five feet long, and pressing itself against the belly of the horses, makes
a discharge along the whole extent of its electric organ. It attacks at unce the heart, the intestines, and the plexus cæliacus of the abdominal nerves. It is natural that the effect felt by the horses should be more powerful than that produced upon man by the touch of the same fish at only one of his extremities. The horses are probably not killed, but only stunned. They are drowned from the impossibility of rising annid the prolonged struggle between the other horses and the eels.
• We had little doubt that the fishing would terminate by killing successively all the animals engaged; but by degrees the impetuosity of this unequal combat diminished, and the wearied gymnoti dispersed. They require a long rest, and abundant nourishment, to repair what they have lost of galvanic force. The mules and horses appear less frightened; their manes are no longer bristled, and their eyes express less dread. The gymnoti approach timidly the edge of the marsh, where they are taken by means of small barpoons fastened to long cords. When the cords are very dry the Indians feel no shock in raising the fish into the air. In a few minutes we had five large eels, the greater part of which were but slightly wounded. Some were taken by the same means toward the evening.'--pp. 348–350.
M. de Humboldt says it would be temerity to expose oneself to the first shocks of a large and strongly irritated gymnotus; that a stroke from such a fish is productive of more pain and numbness than from the discharge of a large Leyden jar; and that he received so dreadful a shock by imprudently placing his feet on one just taken out of the water, that he was affected the rest of the day with a violent pain in the knees, and in almost every joint. He adds, that the electric action of the fish depends entirely on its will, and that it has the power of directing the action of its organs to any particular part of the external object that may affect it, or towards the point where it finds itself the most strongly irritated.
We have now a dissertation of about twenty pages on the nature and quality of the electrical action of fishes, of which we can only find room for the following curious paragraph.
The presence of the gymnoti is considered as the principal cause of the want of fish in the ponds and pools of the Llanos. The gymnoti kill many more than they devour; and the Indians told us, that when they take young alligators and gymnoti at the same time in very strong nets, the latter never display the slightest trace of a wound, because they disable the young alligators before they are attacked by them. All the inhabitants of the waters dread the society of the gymnoti. Lizards, tortoises, and frogs seek the pools, where they are secure from their action.
It became necessary to change the direction of a road near Uritucu, because these electrical eels were so numerous in one river that they every year killed a great number of mules of burden as they forded the water.-P. 374.
Our travellers left Calabozo on the 24th of March, highly satishod with the experiments which they had made.
• As we advanced,' M. de Humboldt says, ' into the southern part of the Llanos, we found the ground more dusty, more destitute of herbage, and more cracked by the effect of long drought. The palm-trees disappeared by degrees. The thermometer kept, from eleven in the morning till sunset, at 34° or 35o. The more the air appeared calm at eight or ten feet bigh, the more we were enveloped in those whirlwinds of dust caused by the little currents of air that sweep the ground. About four o'clock in the afternoon we found a young Indian girl stretched upon the savannah. She was quite naked, lay upon her back, and appeared to be only twelve or thirteen years of age. Exhausted with fatigue and thirst, her eyes, nostrils, and mouth filled with dust, she breathed with a rattling in her throat, and was unable to answer our questions. A pitcher overturned, and half filled with sand, was lying at her side, Happily one of our mules was laden with water; and we roused the young girl from her lethargic state by washing her face, and forcing her to drink a few drops of wine. She was at first frightened at seeing herself surrounded by so many persons; but by degrees she took courage and conversed with our guides. She judged from the position of the sun that she must have remained during several hours in that state of lethargy-pp. 378, 379.
During the night they forded the Rio Uritucu, which is infested with a breed of crocodiles remarkable for their ferocity. We were advised,' M. de Humboldt
says, to prevent our dogs from going to drink in the rivers, for it often happens that the crocodiles come out of the water and pursue dogs on the shore.
• The manners of animals,' he continues, 'vary in the same species according to local circumstances difficult to investigate. We were shown a hut, or rather a kind of shed, in which our host of Calabozo, Don Miguel Cousin, had witnessed a very extraordinary scene. Sleeping with one of his friends on a bench covered with leather, Don Miguel was awakened early in the morning by violent shakes and a horrible noise. Clods of earth were thrown into the middle of the hut. Presently a young crocodile two or three feet long issued from under the bed, darted at a dog that lay on the threshold of the door, and, missing him in the impetuosity of his spring, ran toward the beach to attain the river. On examining the spot where the barbacon, or bedstead, was placed, the cause of this strange adventure was easily discovered. The ground was disturbed to a considerable depth. It was dried inud that had covered the crocodile in that state of lethargy, or summer sleep, in which many of the species lie during the absence of the rains amid the Llanos. The noise of men and horses, perhaps the smell of the dog, had awakened the crocodile. The hut being placed at the edge of the pool, and inundated during part of the year, the crocodile had no doubt entered, at the time of the inundation of the savannahs, by the same opening by which Mr. Pozo saw it go out'—pp. 380, 381.
On the 27th our travellers arrived at the Villa de San Fera nando, the capital of the missions of the Capuchins, in the pro