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Chapter IX, which is of considerable length, treats of quadrupeds and birds; but it cannot be very profitably perused without a reference to the author’s prior publication, and to the ornithological volumes of the present work. The retraction of former errours is, however, of importance to the student of natural history, and serves in the present instance to convince us that, with all his stubborness of assertion, this doughty Spaniard is not devoid of candour and a regard to truth. The present strictures, however, if taken by themselves, are little calculated to gratify the curious; and we strongly suspect that the enlarged edition of the history of the quadrupeds of Paraguay, even when accompanied by these supplementary remarks, may still stand in need of revision. If we rightly recollect, M. DE Aza RA’s account of the Tapir, for example, materially differs, in several respects, from that which -Sonnini has since published in the JVouveau Dictionnaire d’Histoire JWaturelle. Yet the Frenchman is undoubtedly the more accomplished naturalist of the two; and he resided in a part of the country in which that species of quadruped not only abounded, but lived in habits of domestick familiarity. In this chapter, therefore, we had looked for some discussion of the points at issue; but we find not the most distant allusion to the discrepancy of the two accounts. Some of the circumstances related of the Jaguar will contribute to supply our heretofore defective knowledge of that strong and rapacious quadruped; but the assertion, that it is utterly incapable of being tamed, requires limitation; since Cuvier remarks, in a note, that the living specimen in the Parisian Menagerie is perfectly gentie, and delights in the caresses of strangers.
The potent odours, which emanate from some of the weazel tribe in South America, have been commemorated by preceding travellers;
and the present author ascribes the most pestiferous stench to the Wiverra zorillo, or Yaguaré. Its effects are perceptible at the distance of a league, and powerfully repel men and dogs, if they venture within six feet of the animal. So insupportable, it is added, is the suffocating liquor, that, if discharged in the heart of Paris, it would more or less contaminate every house in that large city; and, if a single drop be deposited on any article of wearing apparel, the latter must be consumed or thrown away, since no quantity of soap and water can render it any longer endurable to the olfactory nerves. Though the family characters of the opossums are distinctly laid down, the specifick names are all Indian or Spanish; and an inspection of various specimens in the museum at Paris appears to have shaken the author’s confidence in his own distribution of the genus. The Vizcacha is minutely described, and a few traits of its habits and modes of life are incidentally recorded. When the avenues to its burrows are blocked up, it would infallibly perish, did not other individuals of the same species reopen them. It is a nocturnal animal, and betrays such a propensity to hoarding, that it collects in the fields and at the entrances of its retreat heaps of small bones, and miscellaneous articles of every description; so that, when any thing is missing, the inhabitants are accustomed to find it in one of these motiey parcels. Towards the conclusion of this traveller's rapid view of the wild quadrupeds, he labours to impugn the supposition of their having migrated from the old to the new continent; but the idea itself has always appeared to us to be gratuitous, because the posterior creation of America remains to be proved. Besides, the junction of the two continents at some remote period, and subsequent changes of climate, induced by a sudden or a gradual physical revolution in our planet, may suffice to explain the limitations of latitude prescribed to existing species. An argument of some force, however, is stated in support of the doctrine of successive acts of creation; namely, that single pairs of predacious animals could not subsist till generations had multiplied. With regard to horned horses, we suspect that they are a creation of the author's fancy; at least, we cannot bring ourselves to believe in their existence on the general on a vu of any traweller whatever. The sheep and goats, we are told, have no other shepherds than dogs, called Ovejeros. In the morning, these dogs drive out the flock from the court yard; conduct them to the fields; attend them during the whole day, prevent them from straggling; defend them against every kind of attack; and at sunset, reconduct them to the housc, where they pass the night.
“It is not necessary that these dogs should be mastiffs, but only of a strong race. Being taken from their mothers before their eyes are opened, they are suckled by some of the ewes, which are forcibly held in the requisite posture; and they are strictly confined within the courtyard, till the moment of their being capable of following the flock, when they go out along with it. In the morning, the ‘owner of the flock is particularly careful to give the dog-shepherd a plentiful allowance of meat and drink; because, if hunger should seize him in the fields, he would fetch home the sheep at noon. In order to prevent this premature return, it is not uncommon to hang a collar of meat to the dog’s neck, which he devours when his appetite becomes urgent, provided that it be not mutton, which the most violent hunger will not constrain him to eat. These dogs are all castrated males, because, if they were not, they would abandon the flock, to run after the females; and, if females, they would attract other dogs.”
The mongrel and wild dogs are, lin some districts, very numerous, unite in bands, and commit great
havock among the sheep and cattle, but are never affected by hydrophobia. Only five pages are here allotted to a few random remarks on the birds of South America; a circumstance which is the less to be regretted, because the species are particularized in the sequel of the work. If we may implicitly rely on the statements in the tenth chapter, which treats of the wild Indians, we shall feel ourselves compelled to make large abatements from the accounts of the missionaries and of some hasty travellers. The numbers of these indigenous tribes, it should seem, have been much exaggerated; and the individuals of whom they are composed do not eat human flesh, nor use poisoned arrows, nor entertain any notions of religion. Their language and mode of utterance cannot be acquired by Europeans, without extreme difficulty, and a long residence among them. The idioms and structure of their respective dialects appear to be perfectly distinct, and the vocabulary of each is extremely scanty. About thirty different tribes are characterized under the more pompous title of nations. The Charruas, Pampas, Guaranys, &c. are portrayed with considerable minuteness and graphick effect; while the singular facts which are recorded concerning their manners, propensities, and habits, are not easily reconcilable with the ingenious but too refined generalizations of our philosophical historians of human society. The majority of our readers will, perhaps, concur with us in thinking that this chapter forms the most interesting portion of the work; but we cannot pretend to analyze its varied contents, without venturing beyond our prescribed boundaries. The prominent features of the shifting pictures which it holds up to our contemplation may, for anything that we know to the contrary, be delineated with fidelity; yet we cannot altogether absolve the painter from the charge of incongruity. On various occasions, for example, he is solicitous to convince us that these savage hordes are destitute of all ideas of religion and a future state; but since he appears to have been totally unacquainted with the language of most of them, we may be allowed to question his competency for determining the matter of fact, to the unqualified extent in which he repeatedly asserts it. His own allegations, indeed, in our apprehension, would justify the very opposite conclusion. The practice of burying, in a friend's tomb, his best and favourite horses is, probably, grounded on some rude notions of another world, and could never be adopted by a people who believed that death is eternal sleep. Of the Mbayas, it is said: “With regard to religion, they have no object of worship, nor do they allude, in the most remote manner, to that subject, or to a future state.” Yet of the very same people we are told, that “ some of them give the following explanation of their first origin: God created in the beginning all nations in their firesent numbers.” “Afterward, he resolved to create one Mbaya and his wife; and, as he had already given the whole earth to the other nations, so that no more re
mained to be distributed, he com
manded the bird called Caracara to inform him,” &c. At page 138, we again meet with this strong and very pointed asseveration: “But the positive fact is, that they recognise no creator; that they render neither worship nor homage to any thing in the world; and that they have no religion.” Yet we learn, in the very next sentence, that several of them entertain rude ideas of the future destinies of the good and the bad. The succeeding chapter comprises various general reflections on these savage Indians, stated sometimes in the form of grave problems, though generally admitting of an obvious solution. That the plants, which are carelessly propagated by
found growing spontaneously, will not excite the surprise of the vegetable physiologist, who is aware of the changes of aspect and character which modes of culture entail on various species. The prevalence of the race of Guaranys, and the diffusion of their tongue, may remount to causes which are concealed in the darkness of antiquity; and the greater facility of their subjugation may be fairly ascribed to their comparative physical weakness, combined with the extinction of many of those habits which are essential to the condition of hunters and warriours, but which decay, and are obliterated in the agricultural state of society. Doubts and difficulties, however, thicken in our progress, till, at length, these said poor Indians are more assimilated to the inferiour animals than to their own species.
“The Indians, in fact, resemble the inferiour animals in the delicacy of their sense of hearing; in the whiteness, cleanness, and regular disposition of their teeth; in their very rare use of the voice; in never uttering an audible laugh; in the absence of ceremony from sexual intercourse; in easy parturition, unattended with indisposition; in the most perfect liberty; in their ignorance of superiority or jurisdiction of any description; in their free and voluntary observance of certain practices, of which they can assign neither the origin nor the cause; in their want of games, dancing, singing, and musical instruments; in their patient endurance of hunger and the inclemency of the seasons; in drinking only before or after their repasts, and never while eating; in using the tongue only to get rid of the bones of the fish which they eat, and putting these bones, when separated, into the corners of their mouth; in their ignorance of washing or cleaning their bodies, and of sewing; in withholding all instruction from their children, and even, according to the custom of some tribes, in killing their off. spring; in their complete disregard of the past and the future; in their dying in a state of apathy with respect to the lot of their wives and children, and indifferent about every thing which they leave in the world; and, finally, in their ignorance of religion, or of a divinity of any kind. All these qualities seem to approximate them
“As this view of the subject is maintained by Spaniards, they are, moreover, bound to suppose that, if the Indians are descended from Adam, they cannot, in justice, be eternally damned for want of baptism, and for having omitted what they cannot perform, because they knew it not, and nobody had imparted to them the requisite instruction. I admit that, with the view of obviating this difficulty, it has been said that St. Thomas preached in America; and some even allege that they have met with traces of his mission; but I believe that these pretended vestiges are mere phantoms, and that an authentick proof of this mission is still wanting. i can at least affirm that, in this region, we meet with no bishop or church, both of which we may expect to find, in every country where the apostles have preached. Besides, it is scarcely possible that a single individual could have traversed and instructed the whole continent of America. Others suppose that the Creator communicated, by revelation, his will to the Indians, and that it rests with them to follow it or not.
“Let us now view the grounds on which it has been determined, that the Americans are sprung from Adam; that, consequently, they proceeded from the old continent; and that we should labour for their conversion. Their bodies were observed to be almost entirely like our own, and composed of the same parts. They not only acquired all the arts which we were desirous of teaching them, but they learned our language, imitated all our actions, conversed and reasoned like ourselves, and such of them as inhabited Mexico and Peru, had idols, and worshiped the sun. Hence it was inferred that, having a body like our own, acting and reasoning as we do, and adoring or not a material substance, they were the children of Adam, and capable of worshiping the Spirit which created all things.
“This idea, no doubt, derived confirmation from the circumstance, that the union of Europeans with Americans was observed to produce a fruitful progeny; for the celebrated count de Buflon, and
most naturalists, believe that the identity of a species is sufficiently proved by the fertile issue of sexual intercourse. It is true, that I have not adopted this opinion in my notices illustrative of the natural history of the quadrupeds of Paraguay.”
Here the chapter abruptly terminates; and we are left to work out the salvation of the American Indians, as we best can.
The condition of the Spaniards who have embraced the shepherd life is scarcely superiour to that of absolute savages. To every thousand head of cattle are attached a principal shepherd and a drudge, whose chief care is to gallop round the pastures once in a week, and to keep the cows and horses of the same proprietor within their allottedrange: but most of their time is consumed in idleness.
“As these shepherds are removed from one another to the distance of four, ten, or even thirty leagues, chapels are very thinly scattered among them, and consequently they seldom or never go to mass. They often baptize their own children, and sometimes even defer that ceremony till marriage renders it indispensable. I have myself been sometimes entreated to baptize their children, whom they would point out to me, as they galloped over the plain. When they attend at mass, they are, generally, seated on horseback, without the church, the door being purposely left open. They are all extremely desirous of being buried in consecrated ground; a service which the friends and relatives never fail to pay to the deceased. As some of them, however, are very remote from a church, it is customary to allow the corpse to rot in the fields, after having covered it with stones or branches of trees, without interring it; and, when the bones only remain, they convey them to the priest for burial. Others take the dead bodies to pieces, detach all the flesh from the bones with a knife, and carry them to the clergyman, throwing away or interring the flesh. If the distance does not exceed twenty leagues, they dress the deceased as if he were still alive, place him on horseback, with his feet in the stirrups, and fixing him, in this position, with two sticks, in the form of a St. Andrew's cross, with all the appearance of a living rider, they conduct him to the priest.”
In cases of sickness, these shepherds apply to a Christianized Indian man or woman, to one of themselves, or to any casual passenger; and they very scrupulously observe the prescription, which is usually either a drug or a plaster, as chance may direct. The furniture of their miserable cabins is generally limited to a water cask, a drinking horn, wooden skewers, and a small kettle, in which they may boil water, or infuse the Paraguay herb. Some of them have a pot, one or two chairs, or a bench, and even a rude bed; but most of them sleep on a cow's hide stretched out on the ground; and they sit either on their heels or on the skull of a horse or cow. They subsist entirely on the roasted flesh of cows: but, as they eat only particular portions of the carcase, the rest is allowed to putrefy about their doors, and to generate the most of. sensive stench, and myriads of noisome insects. They are, nevertheless, a very robust and healthy race of men; independent; phlegmatick; insensible, on many occasions, to pain, and the approach of death; little susceptible of friendship; careless of promises and engagements; and addicted to petty thefts, but very hospitable to strangers.
Besides the shepherds,these plains are inhabited by many roaming freebooters, who will submit to no species of occupation but that of thieving, and who even carry off women to their retreats. “ They drag them away into the recesses of the desert woods, where they construct for them a small hut, like those of the Charruas, and feed them with the flesh of the wild cattle in the neighbourhood. When their scanty wardrobe is literally worn out, or when they are urged by any other personal want, the man issues forth by himself, pilfers horses from the Spanish pastures, and sells them in Brazil, in exchange for the articles that are wanted.”—The author occasionally encountered some of these marau
ders, and the women whom they had carried off; particularly a young and beautiful Spanish girl, who had passed ten years of her life in their society, and quitted it with much
Fiction, on the political and statistical information which is contained in these pages might lead us into a wide and varied field of discussion. Suffice it to remark, as we proceed, that the laity have been more successful than the clergy in forming settlements; that the ignorance and selfishness of the subordinate agents have often frustrated the wise and humane intentions of the Spanish government; and that, in those districts in which domestick slavery takes place, it is exercised with a degree of moderation and gentleness that is unknown to more enlightened regions. The general impression, which the author's observations leave on our minds, is unfavourable to any considerable extension of commerce and the arts in the provinces of Spanish America, until a new system of publick management, founded on liberal views of policy, and calculated to rouse and maintain the energy and activity of all classes of the population, shall be permanently established.
Don Haenke, who seems to have explored some tracts of this immense territory with the eye of an intelligent chymist and naturalist, adverts to several articles of native produce, which may eventually contribute to the promotion of manufactures and trade. Such are, in the mineral department, three different modifications of alum, the sulfates of iron, magnesia, and soda, pure nitre, soda, verdegris, and orpiment, all of which he has observed to occur in great abundance. The neighbourhood of the Andes appears to be peculiarly adapted to the manufacture of white glass, since it furnishes at once inexhaustible stipplies of timber for fuel, and all the requisite ingredients of the composition