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P. Labbé (Lett. Edif. t. viii. p. 180. edit. 1781) speaks of a tribe on the north bank of the Plata who put their women to death when they were thirty years old, thinking they had then lived long enough. I have not seen this custom mentioned by any other writer, nor do I believe that it can possibly have existed.
And Father was his name.
Canto II. st. 28.
Tupa. It is the Tupi and Guarani name for Father, for Thunder, and for the Supreme Being.
The Patagones call the Supreme Being Soychu, a word which is said to express that which cannot be seen, which is worthy of all veneration, and which is out of the world. They may thus explain the word; but it cannot contain this meaning; it is a definition of what they mean, and apparently not such as a savage would give. The dead they call Soychuhet; they who are with God, and out of the world.
The Puelches, Picunches, and Moluches have no name for God. Their prayers are made to the sun, whom they regard as the giver of all good. A Jesuit once admonished them to worship that God who created all things, and this orb among the rest ; but they replied, they had never known any thing greater or better than the sun. Dobrizhoffer, t. ii. p. 100.
The most remarkable mode of superstition I remember to have met with is one which is mentioned by the Bishop of Santa Marta, in his History of the Nuevo Reyno de Granada. He tells us, that “the Pijaos of the Nuevo Reyno worshipped nothing visible or invisible, except the spirits of those whom they killed for the purpose of deifying them, For they thought that if an innocent person were put to death he became a god, and in that capacity would be grateful to those who were the authors of his apotheosis. For this reason they used to catch strangers and kill them; not thinking one of their own horde, or of their enemies, could be esteemed innocent, and therefore fitting. A woman or a child would do. But after a few months they held it necessary to make a
new god, the old one either having lost his power, or changed his place, or perhaps by that time discharged himself of his debt of gratitude.” — Piedrahita, p. 12.
And once there was a way to that good land,
Canto II. st. 33.
Los Mocobis fingian un Arbol, que en su idioma llamaban Nalliagdigua, de altura tan desmedida que llegaba desde la tierra al cielo. Por el de rama en rama ganando siempre maior elevacion subian las almas á pezcar de un rio y lagunas muy grandes, que abundaban de pescado regaladisimo. Pero un dia que el alma de una Vieja no pudo pescar cosa alguna, y los pescadores la negaron el socorro de una limosna para su mantenimiento, se irritó tanto contra la nacion Mocobi que, transfiguranda en Capiguara tomó el exercicio de roer el Arbol por donde subian al cielo, y no desistió hasta derribarlo en tierra con increible sentimiento y dano irreparable de toda la nacion.
This legend is contained in a manuscript history of Paraguay, the Rio de la Plata, and Tucuman.
For the use of the first volume (a transcript of which is in my possession), I am beholden, as for other civilities of the same kind, to Mr. Thomas Kinder. This portion of the work contains a good account of the native tribes; the second volume contains the historical part; but when Mr. Kinder purchased the one at Buenos Ayres, the other was on its way to the United States, having been borrowed from the owner by an American, and not returned. Fortunately the subjects of the two volumes are so distinct that each may be considered as a complete work ; and I have referred, in the history of Brazil, to that which I possess, by the title of Noticias del Paraguay, fc.
Many of the Indian speculations respecting the condition of souls in a future state are given in my History of Brazil. A description of a Keltic Island of the Blessed, as drest up VOL. VII.
by Ossian Macpherson, may be found in the notes to Madoc. A Tonga one is thus described in the very curious and valuable work of Mr. Mariner.
“ The Tonga people universally and positively believe in the existence of a large island lying at a considerable distance to the N. W. of their own islands, which they consider to be the place of residence of their gods, and of the souls of their nobles and mataboohes. This island is supposed to be much larger than all their own islands put together; to be well stocked with all kinds of useful and ornamental plants always in a state of high perfection, and always bearing the richest fruits and the most beautiful flowers, according to their respective natures; that when these fruits or flowers are plucked others immediately occupy their place, and that the whole atmosphere is filled with the most delightful fragrance that the imagination can conceive, proceeding from these immortal plants. The island is also well stocked with the most beautiful birds of all imaginable kinds, as well as with abundance of hogs, all of which are immortal, unless they are killed to provide food for the Hotooas or gods; but the moment a hog or bird is killed, another living hog or bird immediately comes into existence to supply its place, the same as with the fruits and flowers; and this, as far as they know or suppose, is the only mode of propagation of plants and animals. The island of Bolotoo is supposed to be so far off as to render it dangerous for their canoes to attempt going there ; and it is supposed moreover that even if they were to succeed in reaching so far, unless it happened to be the particular will of the gods, they would be sure to miss it. They give, however, an account of a Tonga canoe, which, in her return from the Feejee islands a long time ago, was driven by stress of weather to Bolotoo : ignorant of the place where they were, and being much in want of provisions, and seeing the country abound in all sorts of fruit, the crew landed, and proceeded to pluck some bread.fruit, but to their unspeakable astonishment they could no more lay hold of it than if it were a shadow. They walked through the trunks of the trees, and passed through
the substance of the houses (which were built like those of Tonga), without feeling any."
resistance. They at length saw some of the Hotooas, who passed through the substance of their bodies as if there was nothing there. The Hotooas recommended them to go away immediately, as they had no proper food for them, and promised them a fair wind and a speedy passage. They accordingly put directly to sea, and in two days, sailing with the utmost velocity, they arrived at Hamoa, (the Navigators’ Island,) at which place they wanted to touch before they got to Tonga. Having remained at Hamoa two or three days, they sailed for Tonga, where they arrived with great speed; but in the course of a few days they all died, not as a punishment for having been at Bolotoo, but as a natural consequence, the air of Bolotoo, as it were, infecting mortal bodies with speedy death.”
In Yucatan their notion of the happy after death was, that they rested in a delightful land, under the shade of a great tree, where there was plenty of food and drink. — Herrera, iv. 10. n.
The Austral tribes believe that the dead live in some region under the earth, where they have their tents, and hunt the souls of ostriches. — Dobrizh. ii. 295.
The Persians have a great reverence for large old trees, thinking that the souls of the happy delight to dwell in them, and for this reason they call them pir, which signifies an old man, by which name they also designate the supposed inhabitant. Pietro Della Valle describes a prodigious tree of this character, in the hollow of which tapers were always kept burning to the honour of the Pir. He pitched his tent under its boughs twice; once with his wife when on his way to embark for Europe, and again when returning with her corpse. The passage wherein he speaks of this last night's lodging is very affecting. We soon forgive this excellent traveller for his coxcombry, take an interest in his domestic affairs, and part with him at last as with an old friend.
Canto II. st. 44.
An opinion of this kind has extended to people in a much higher grade of society than the American Indians.
“ After this Death appeared in Dwaraka in a human shape, the colour of his skin being black and yellow, his head close shorn, and all his limbs distorted. He placed himself at men's doors, so that all those who saw him shuddered with apprehension, and became even as dead men from mere affright. Every person to whose door he came shot an arrow at him ; and the moment the arrow quitted the bow-string they saw the spectre no more, nor knew which way he was gone.”. Life of Creeshna.
This is a poetical invention; but such an invention has formed a popular belief in Greece, if M. Pouqueville may be trusted.
“ The Evil Eye, the Cacodæmon, has been seen wandering over the roofs of the houses. Who can dare to doubt this? It was in the form of a withered old woman, covered with funeral rags; she was heard to call by their names those who are to be cut off from the number of the living. Nocturnal concerts, voices murmuring amid the silence of the darkest nights, have been heard in the air; phantoms have been seen wandering about in solitary places, in the streets, in the markets; the dogs have howled with the most dismal and melancholy tone, and their cries have been repeated by the echoes along the desert streets. It is when such things happen, as I was told very seriously by an inhabitant of Nauplia di Romania, that great care must be taken not to answer if you should be called during the night : if you hear symphonies bury yourself in the bed clothes, and do not listen to them; it is the Old Woman, it is the Plague itself that knocks at your door.” — Pouqueville, 189.
The Patagones and other Austral tribes attribute all diseases to an evil spirit. Their conjurors therefore beat drums