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The province under the authority of a chief called Machiparo was populous, and opposed resistance to the Spaniards both in canoes and on the side of the river. In these conflicts, the uniform object of the Spaniards was to aim at the Indian chief, whose fall generally led to the flight of his men. Unfortunately, it was so much the interest of Orellana to magnify the value of the region which he traversed, that little de pendance is to be placed on his narrative; and on this account we must be cautious in receiving his reports of seeing roads, streets, or coined money, since the probability is that none of these tribes were sufficiently advanced for such accommodations.
Like the aspect of the country, the temper of the successive tribes appeared to vary, a few only being gentle and hospitable. At last the Spaniards sailed through the country of the Amazons, where the sight of a few women using the bow and arrow with the men, which was not an uncommon custom in America, was exaggerated into the proof of a female empire. The most remarkable circumstance, perhaps, in this long peregrination, was the judgment and ability of Orellana; who, without shrinking from danger when exposure was necessary, often exercised a controlling power over the impetuosity of his followers. Long before they reached the ocean, the river became so wide that one bank was not discernible from the other. Many stoppages took place, both to obtain provisions and for the repair of their frail barks; and it was not till the end of August, after eight months of navigation, that they put out to sea. Here they were exposed to new perils: but, being driven to the N. W. they reached, in the course of a fortnight, the island of Cubagua, situated W. by N. of Trinidad. Proceeding thence to Spain, Orellana reported his extensive discoveries, and easily obtained permission to return with an armed force and attempt the conquest of them: but the tide of his fortune was now turned. Sailing with men who were unused to the climate, and arriving in autumn, the worst of seasons in a hot country, his crews became enfeebled by destructive maladies; and the difficulty of finding the leading current in sailing up, was infinitely beyond the idea which was suggested by their easy passage downward. The accomplishment of this laborious task was consequently reserved for a future adventurer; and fatigue and vexation on the part of Orellana having aggravated an illness brought on by the climate, he died on board a brigantine at the mouth of the great river.
"This," says Mr. Southey," was the fate of Orellana, who as a discoverer surpassed all his countrymen; as a conqueror he was
unfortunate, and the happier it now is for him. He burnt no Indiáns alive, nor threw them to the war-dogs; and perhaps at his hour of death thanked God that success had never put it in his power to commit these atrocities, from which I do not believe that any one of the conquerors can be acquitted. The great river which he explored was formerly called after his name, and is marked by it in old maps. By that name I shall distinguish it, because its appellation from the Amazons is founded upon fiction, and is inconvenient; and its other name would occasion some confusion, belonging equally to the state of Maranham, and the island wherein the capital of that state is situated. These are sufficient reasons for preferring the name of Orellana, even if there were not a satisfaction in rendering justice to his memory, by thus restoring to him his well-deserved honour."
Towards the end of the volume, the author enters more at length into the curious inquiry regarding the existence of a separate tribe of women under the description of Amazons. He is on the whole by no means inclined to deny the possibility of such a fact, and lays stress not on the testimony of Orellana or his associates, but on the more accurate and candid relation of Acuna. That traveller was brother of the corregidor of Quito, and sailed down the great river nearly a century after Orellana, viz. in 1639. During his whole voyage, he made inquiry concerning the reality of the Amazons: no person was ignorant that such a nation existed; and he found a general agreement in the account of their manners. "It is not to be believed," says Acuna, "that the same lie should be circulated among so many different tribes." From the Tupinambas, an Indian nation inhabiting a central region of the wide continent through which the river flows, Acuna received more definite information:
"Six and thirty leagues below the last settlement of the Tupinambas, and on the north, is the mouth of the Cunuris, a river so called from the first tribe upon its banks. Beyond them were the Apantos, then the Taguaus, and then the Guacaras; these last were the people with whom the Amazons traded, and carried on that intercourse, without which they must else have become extinct. The Guacaras went once a year into their country, which was full of mountains. The Amazons, as soon as they saw them coming up the river, went arms in hand to meet them; but as soon as they were satisfied that it was their friends, they entered their canoes, and each taking up the first hammock which she found, carried it to her dwelling, and hung it up there, and the Guacara to whom it belonged was her mate for the season. One Indian, who said, that in his boyhood he had been with his father on one of these expeditions, affirmed that when the men returned, they took with them all the boys of the preceding year; but it was generally asserted that they were put to death as soon as born."
Condamine, sailing down the river a century afterward, (1743,) omitted no opportunity of similar inquiries, and heard a report from the various tribes that these women had several ages before retired up the country by the Rio Negro. All these relations concur in placing the Amazons in the heart of Guiana, the only part of South America which Europeans have never explored; and Condamine, though doubtful of their existence at that time, thought it was very probable that such a nation had once flourished:
"The existence of such a tribe," says Mr. Southey, "could it be ascertained, would be honourable to our species, inasmuch as it must have originated in resistance to oppression. The lot of women is usually dreadful among savages; the females of one horde may have perpetrated what the Danaides are said to have done before them, but from a stronger provocation; and if, as is not unfrequent, they had been accustomed to accompany their husbands to battle, there is nothing that can even be thought improbable, in their establishing themselves as an independent race, and securing, by such a system of life, that freedom for their daughters which they had obtained for themselves. Had we never heard of the Amazons of antiquity, I should, without hesitation, believe in those of America; their existence is not the less likely for that reason, and yet it must be admitted that the probable truth is made to appear suspicious by its resemblance to a known fable."
We have seen, in the progress of Gonzalo Pizarro, an example of the perpetual currency of reports of golden regions at a distance; and the Spaniards, who in a future age succeeded in penetrating to these boasted territories, were amused with similar rumours concerning Peru. Wherever they went, indeed, they seldom failed to hear a report of some imaginary kingdom of great wealth. Among the most extravagant of these tales, may be reckoned the fictitious kingdom of El Dorado, or the "gilded sovereign;" a barbarian chief, whose palace, watered by a silver fountain, and adorned by a golden sun, was said to stand in a magnificent island, while he himself was daily anointed with a fragrant gum, and covered with gold dust. This was the fiction of which Sir Walter Raleigh made use as a bait for vulgar cupidity, to promote his favourite project of colonizing Guiana. Of all such stories, however, the most impudent was that of a Spanish impostor; who related in Lima that he had been in the city of Manoa, the capital of a mighty emperor, whose palace had columns of porphyry and alabaster, galleries of ebony and cedar, and a throne of ivory, ascended by steps of gold. He even produced a map of the country, containing three hills, one of salt, another of silver, and a third of gold.
The manners of the native savages of Brazil are drawn by Mr. Southey in all their native deformity in the history of Hans Stade, a German, and one of the persons who were deluded into a dangerous expedition by false reports of the riches of Paraguay. Having suffered shipwreck at the island of St. Vicente, he was taken prisoner by the savages on an excursion into the country:
"Their first business was to strip him; hat, cloak, jerkin, shirt, were presently torn away, every one seizing what he could get. To this part of the prize possession was sufficient title; but Hans's body, or carcass, as they considered it, was a thing of more consequence. A dispute arose who had first laid hands on him, and they who bore no part in it amused themselves by beating the prisoner with their bows. It was settled that he belonged to two brethren; then they lifted him up and carried him off as fast as possible towards their canoes, which were drawn ashore, and concealed in the thicket. A large party who had been left in guard advanced to meet their triumphant fellows, showing Hans their teeth, and biting their arms to let him see what he was to expect. They then tied his hands; but another dispute arose, what should be done with him. The captors were not all from the same dwelling place; no other prisoner had been taken, and they who were to return home without one, exclaimed against giving him to the two brethren, and were for killing him at once. Poor Hans had lived long enough in Brazil to understand all that was said, and all that was to be done; he fervently said his prayers, and kept his eye upon the slaughter club. The chief of the party settled the dispute by saying, we will carry him home alive, that our wives may rejoice over him, and he shall be made a Kaawy-pepike; that is, he was to be killed at the great drinking feast.—On the third evening they came to their town, which was called Uwattibi. It consisted of seven houses -a town seldom had more, but each house contained twenty or thirty families, who, as they were generally related to each other, may not improperly be called a clan.
"When the canoes arrived, the women were digging mandioc. The captors made Hans cry out to them in Brazilian, Here I am, come to be your meat! Out came the whole population, old men, children and all. Hans was delivered over to the women who were, if possible, more cruel than the men on these occasions. They beat him with their fists, they pulled his beard, naming at every pluck and at every blow, some one of their friends who had been slain, and saying it was given for his sake."
It was in vain that the unfortunate prisoner availed himself of his knowledge of the Brazilian language to plead that he was not a Portuguese but a German, the neighbour and friend of Frenchmen; the French having been in the habit of trading peaceably with the savages, and not having, like the Portuguese, become obnoxious to them by the commission of vioVOL. I. New Series. 3B
lence. Before the arrival of the day appointed for the inhuman feast, a Frenchman happened to come for the purpose of traffic to this quarter; and the savages hastened to bring their prisoner, in order to ascertain the truth of his assertion: but his incapacity to answer in the French language was accounted decisive against him. His fate would now have been beyond redemption, had not he managed to ascribe to the anger of his God a sickness which befell one of the chiefs, and to declare his recovery impracticable unless the design of slaying him (Hans Stade) was renounced. The chief recovered, and the life of Hans was saved. He was still detained, however, in the hope of a large ransom, and had ample opportunity of observing the disgusting manners of these cannibals. Mr. Southey' has devoted more than twenty pages to this revolting subject: but we shall be satisfied with extracting one passage explanatory of the treatment of the prisoners by the savages. A chief called Konyan Bebe, had defeated a hostile tribe, and taken several of them prisoners, with some christians.
"Hans Stade went into Konyan Bebe's tent, and asked him what he designed to do with the christians:-to eat them was the answer; they were fools to come with our enemies when they might have remained at home;-and he forbade Hans to have any intercourse with them. Hans advised him to ransom them; this he refused.
Konyan Bebe gave order in the evening that all the prisoners should be produced. The captors formed a circle on a level piece of ground between the woods and the river, and placed them in the midst. When this was over, the Tupiniquins said, we came from our land like brave men, to attack ye our enemies, and kill ye and devour ye the victory has been yours, and you have us in your hands. We care not ;-brave men die valiantly in the land of their enemies. Our country is wide, and it is inhabited by warriors who will not let our deaths go unrevenged. The others made answer, You have taken and devoured many of our people, and now we will revenge them upon you."
It is some satisfaction to learn that Hans was at length ransomed, and returned to his own country; where he wrote. a history of his adventures, which is a book of great value.
Our readers will by this time be enabled to form an idea of Mr. Southey's peculiar manner of writing history. His plan is to be sparing of general reflections, and to relate with scrupulous accuracy and minuteness the occurrence of detached events, observing generally the order of their date. The remarks which he permits himself to make are only those which arise out of the subject of the narrative; a course which is very different from that of the writers who concentrate a body of facts for the illustration of a previously-con