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length reached the banks of the majestic and immense river of the Amazons, bounded by a lofty and evergreen forest, they had attained the chief object of their wishes; and setting out on the 21st of August 1819, proceeded along the bank of the stream, (amidst a chaos of floating islands, falling masses of the banks, immense trunks of trees carried down by the current, the cries and screams of countless multitudes of monkeys and birds, shoals of turtles, crocodiles, and fish, gloomy forests full of parasite plants and palms, with tribes of wandering Indians on the banks, marked and disfigured in various manners, according to their fancies,) till they reached the settlement of Panxis, where, at the distance of 500 miles up the country, the tide of the sea is still visible, and the river, confined to the breadth of a quarter of a league, of unfathomable depth. They then journeyed to the mouth of the Rio Negro. From this place every thing becomes more wild, and the river of the Amazons resumes its ancient name of Solimoës, which it had from a nation now extinct. The travellers had chosen the most favourable season of the year, when the numerous sandy islands, which are at other times covered, rising above the now low water, invited the inhabitants of the surrounding tracts, who piled up in heaps the new-laid turtles' eggs, out of which, by the aid of water and rum, they prepared the finest oil.
At the town of Ega on the Rio Teffe the two travellers separated. Dr. Martius proceeded up the collateral stream, the Japura, overcame, by the most painful exertions, the cataracts and the rocks on the river, and at length arrived at the foot of the mountain Arascoara, in the middle of the southern continent, separated from Quito only by the Cordilleras. Dr. Spix proceeded up the main stream, crossed the broad rivers Jurua and Jurahy, and the Spanish river Iça, and penetrated at length, through clouds of poisoned arrows discharged by the Indians, and of venomous insects, through contagious diseases, and threatening mountain torrents, to the mouth of the river Jupary, at the last Portuguese settlement of Tabatiaga, on the frontiers of Peru, where he heard the language of the Incas. Had the two travellers prosecuted their enterprise a few weeks longer, they would have reached the opposite shores of the South American continent. But to effect this, they needed the permission of the viceroy of Peru, and the time allowed them for their journey, would not permit them to extend it further. They again turned to the east, and the stream carried them down so rapidly that they arrived in five days at the place, from which it had cost a full month's exertion to work their way up the river. After several lateral excursions, which amply repaid their labour, they again reached Para on the 16th of April 1820. The object of their mission was completed; the continent had been traversed from 24° south latitude to the Equator, and under the line, from Para to the eastern frontier of Peru; an incredible store of natural treasures, and of curious information had been acquired. It is a most gratifying circumstance, that all their collec tions, without a single exception, have arrived safe, and in perfect preservation at Munich, where His Majesty the King of Bavaria has had them all scientifically arranged, according to the several divisions
of the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms, in a noble building
The present portion of the work will, however, be found very interesting. The reader must not, indeed, expect to find in Dr. Von Spix or his colleague, another Humboldt: they are two sober naturalists, a very respectable and useful order of persons, though not always the most enlarged in their views, or the most amusing in their communications. The work is more learned, but less lively, better written, but has less adventure and novelty, than the performance of his Serene Highness of Wied Neuwied; they took wholly different routes, however, and their reports serve to illustrate each other. Perhaps we cannot give a better specimen of the performance of the Bavarian professors, than the following striking description of a Brazilian forest.
The primeval forests, which stand as testimonies of the creative energy of the new continent, in all their original wildness, and still unprofaned by human hands, are called, in Brazil, virgin forests. In them, European coolness refreshes the wanderer, and at the same time the image of the most luxuriant profusion. The never-ceasing power of vegetation makes the trees shoot up to a majestic height; and, not contented with these gigantic primeval monuments, nature calls forth upon every stem, a new creation of numerous verdant, flowering, parasite plants. Instead of the uniform poverty of species in the forests of Europe, especially in the north, there is here an infinite diversity in the forms of stems, leaves, and blossoms. Almost every one of these sovereigns of the forest is distinguished, in the total effect of the picture, from its neighbour. While the silk-cotton tree (bombax pentandrum), partly armed with strong thorns, begins at a considerable height from the ground to spread out its thick arms, and its digitated leaves are grouped in light and airy masses, the lux uriant lecythis, and the Brazilian anda shoot out at a less height, many branches profusely covered with leaves, which unite to form a verdant arcade. The jacaranda (rose-wood tree) attracts the eye by the lightness of its double-feathered leaves; the large gold-coloured flowers of this tree and the ipe (bignonia chrysantha), dazzle by their splendour, contrasted with the dark green of the foliage. The spondias arches its pennated leaves into light oblong forms. A very peculiar and most striking effect in the picture is that produced by the trumpet tree (cecropia peltata) among the other lofty forms of the forest: the smooth ash-grey stems rise, slightly bending, to a considerable height, and spread out at the top into verticillate branches, which have at the extremities large tufts of deeply lobated white leaves. The flowering caesalpinia; the airy laurel; the lofty geoffreea; the soap-trees with their shining leaves; the slender Barbadoes cedar;
the ormosia with its pennated leaves; the tapia or garlic pear tree; so called from the strong smell of its bark; the maina; and a thou sand not yet described trees are mingled confusedly together, forming groupes agreeably contrasted by the diversity of their forms and tints. Here and there, the dark crown of a Chilian fir among the lighter green, appears like a stranger amid the natives of the tropics; while the towering stems of the palms with their waving crowns, are an incomparable ornament of the forests, the beauty and majesty of which no language can describe.
If the eye turns from the proud forms of those ancient denizens of the forest, to the more humble and lower which clothe the ground with a rich verdure, it is delighted with the splendour and gay variety of the flowers. The purple blossoms of the rhexia, profyse clusters of the melastoma, myrtles, and the eugenia, the delicate foliage of many rubiaceae and ardisia, their pretty flowers blended with the singularly formed leaves of the theophrasta, the conchocarpus, the reedlike dwarf palms, the brilliant spadix of the costus, the ragged hedges of the maranta, from which a squamous fern rises, the magnificent stiftia, thorny solana, large flowering gardenias and coutereas, end livened with garlands of mikania and bignonia, the far-spreading shoots of the mellifluous paullinias, dalechampias, and the bauhinia with its strangely lobated leaves; strings of the leafless milky lianes (bind weed), which descend from the highest summits of the trees, or closely twine round the strongest trunks, and gradually kill them; lastly, those parasitical plants by which old trees are invested with the garment of youth, the grotesque species of the pothos and the arum, the superb flowers of the orchidea, the bromelias which catch the rain water, the tillandsia, hanging down like lichen pulmonarius, and a multiplicity of strangely formed ferns; all these admirable produc tions combine to form a scene which alternately fills the European naturalist with delight and astonishment.
But the animal kingdom which peoples those ancient forests, is not less distinguished than the vegetable world. The naturalist who is here for the first time, does not know whether he shall most admire the forms, hues, or voices of the animals, except at noon, when all living creatures in the torrid zone seek shade and repose, and when a solemn silence is diffused over the scene, illumined by the dazzling beams of the sun, every hour of the day calls into action a distinct race of animals. The morning is ushered in by the howling of the monkeys, the high and deep notes of the tree-frogs and toads, the monotonous chirp of the grasshoppers and locusts. When the rising sun has dispelled the mists which preceded it, all creatures rejoice in the return of day. The wasps leave their long nests which hang down from the branches; the ants issue from their dwellings, curiously built of clay, with which they cover the trees, and commence their journey on the paths they have made for themselves, as is done also by the termites which cast up the earth high and far around. The gayest butterflies, rivalling in splendour the colours of the rainbow, especially numerous hesperia, flutter from flower to flower, or seek their food on the roads, or, collected in separate companies, on the banks of the
cool streams. The blue shining Menelaus, Nestor, Adonis, Laertes, the bluish-white Idea, and the large Eurylochus with its ocellated wings, hover like birds between the green bushes in the moist valleys. The Feronia, with rustling wings, flies rapidly from tree to tree, while the owl-moth (noctua strix) the largest of the moth kind, sits immovably on the trunk with outspread wings awaiting the approach of evening. Myriads of the most brilliant beetles buzz in the air, and sparkle like jewels on the fresh green of the leaves, or on the odorous flowers. Meantime, agile lizards, remarkable for their form, size, and brilliant colours, and dark coloured, poisonous, or harmless serpents, which exceed in splendour the enamel of the flowers, glide out of the leaves, the hollows of the trees, and holes in the ground, and creeping up the stems, bask in the sun, and lie in wait for insects and birds. From this moment all is life and activity. Squirrels and troops of gregarious monkeys issue inquisitively from the interior of the woods to the plantations, and leap, whistling and chattering, from tree to tree. Gallinaceous jacues, hoccoes, and pigeons leave the branches, and wander about on the moist ground in the woods. Other birds of the most singular forms, and of the most superb plumage, flutter singly or in companies through the fragrant bushes. The green, blue, or red parrots, assembled on the tops of the trees, or flying towards the plantations and islands, fill the air with their screams. The toucan, sitting on the extreme branches, rattles with his large, hollow bill, and in loud, plaintive tones calls for rain. The busy orioles creep out of their long, pendent, bag-shaped nests to visit the orange-trees, and their sentinels announce with a loud screaming cry the approach of man. The fly catchers, sitting aloof, watching for insects, dart from the trees and shrubs, and with rapid flight catch the hovering menelaus, or the shining flies, as they buzz by. Meantime, the amorous thrush (turdus Orpheus), concealed in the thicket, pours forth her joy in a strain of beautiful melody; the chattering manakins, calling from the close bushes, sometimes here, sometimes there, in the full tones of the nightingale, amuse themselves in misleading the hunters; and the woodpecker makes the distant forests resound while he pecks the bark from the trees. Above all these strange voices, the metallic tones of the uraponga (or guiraponga) sound from the tops of the highest trees, resembling the strokes of the hammer on the anvil, which appearing nearer or more remote according to the position of the songster, fill the wanderer with astonishment. While thus every living creature by its actions and voice greets the splendour of the day, the delicate humming-birds, rivalling in beauty and lustre diamonds, emeralds, and sapphires, hover round the brightest flowers.
When the sun goes down, most of the animals retire to rest: only the slender deer, the shy pecari, the timid agouti, and the tapir still graze around; the nasua and the opossum, and the cunning animals of the feline race, steal through the obscurity of the wood, watching for prey; till at last, the howling monkeys, the sloth with a cry as of one in distress, the croaking frogs, and the chirping grasshoppers with their monotonous note, conclude the day. The cries of the macuc, the capueira, and the goat-sucker (caprimulgus), and the bass tones
of the bull-frog, announce the approach of night. Millions of luminous beetles now begin to fly about like ignes fatui, and the bloodsucking bats hover like phantoms in the profound darkness of the night.' Vol. I. pp. 238-49.
As a companion picture, we must make room for the description given by the same travellers, of the varied sounds and sights afforded by a plain in the province of Minas Geraes.
How different are the feelings of the traveller when he passes from the dark low forests into the free and open tracts! On these serene and tranquil heights the noisy inhabitants of the wood are mute; we no longer hear the howling of herds of monkeys, the incessant screams of innumerable parrots, orioles, and toucans, the far-sounding hammering of the wood-peckers, the metallic notes of the uraponga, the full tones of manakins, the cry of the hoccoes, jacues, &c. The more numerous are the humming-birds, buzzing like bees round the flowering shrubs; gay butterflies fluttering over the rippling streams; numerous wasps flying in and out of their long nests hanging suspended to the trees; and large hornets (morimbondos) hovering over the ground, which is undermined to a great extent with their cells. The red capped and hooded fly-catcher, the barbudos (the barbets), little sparrow hawks, the rusty red or spotted caboré (Brazilian owl), bask on the shrubs during the heat of noon, and watch, concealed among the branches, for the small birds and insects which fly by; the tinamus walks slowly among the pine-apple plants, the enapupés and nambús in the grass; single toucans seeking berries, hop among the branches; the purple tanagers follow each other in amorous pursuit from tree to tree; the caracará and the caracart flying about the roads quite tame, to settle upon the backs of the mules or oxen; small wood-peckers silently creep up the trees, and look in the bark for insects; the rusty thrush, called João de Barros, fearlessly fixes its oven-shaped nest quite low between the branches; the siskin-like creeper slips imperceptibly from its nest, (which, like that of the pigeons, is built of twigs, and hangs down from the branches to the length of several feet,) to add a new division to it for this year; the câoha, sitting still on the tops of the trees, looks down after the serpents basking on the roads, which, even though poisonous, constitute its food, and sometimes, when it sees people approaching, it sets up a cry of distress, resembling a human voice. It is very rarely that the tranquillity of the place is interrupted, when garrulous orioles (Papa arroz), little parrots and parroquets (Maracanás, Maritâcas, Jandaiás), coming in flocks from the maize and cotton plantations in the neighbouring wood, alight upon the single trees on the campos, and with terrible cries appear still to contend for the booty; or bands of restless hooded cuckoos, crowded together upon the branches, defend, with a noisy croaking, their common nest, which is full of green-speckled eggs. Alarmed by this noise, or by passing travellers, numerous families of little pigeons (Rolas), often no bigger than a sparrow, fly