« PreviousContinue »
but it is no more than these Moskito men are accustomed to in their own country, where they make their own fishing and other implements, without either forge or anvil.
Other wild Indians who have not the use of iron, which the Moskito men get from the English, make hatchets of a very hard stone, with which they can cut down trees (the cotton-tree especially, which is a soft tender wood), to build their houses or make canoes ; and though in working their canoes hollow they cannot dig them so neat and thin, yet they make them fit for their service. This, their digging or hatchet work, they assist by fire, whether for the felling of the trees, or for the making the inside of their canoes hollow. These contrivances are used particularly by the savage Indians of Bluefield's River, whose canoes and stone hatchets I have seen. These stone hatchets are about ten inches long, four broad, and three inches thick in the middle. They are ground away flat and sharp at both ends. Right in the middle, and clear round it, they make a notch, so wide and deep that a man might place his finger along it; and taking a stick or withe about four feet long, they bind it round the batchet-head, in that notch, and so, twisting it hard, use it as a handle or heft; the head being held by it very fast.
Nor are other wild Indians less ingenious. Those of Patagonia, particularly, head their arrows with flint, cut or ground, wbich I have seen and admired.
But to return to our Moskito man on the Isle of Jaan Fernandez. With such instruments as he made in that manner, he got such provision as the island afforded; either goats or fish. He told us that at first he was forced to eat seal, which is very ordinary meat, before he had made hooks; but afterwards he never killed any seals but to make lines, cutting their skins into thongs. He had a little house or hut half a mile from the sea, which was lined with goats' skins; his couch or barbecu of sticks, lying along about two feet distant from the ground, was spread with the same, and was all his bedding. He had no clothes left, having worn out those he brought from Watlin's ship, but only a skin about his waist.
He saw our ship the day before we came to an anchor, and did believe we were English; and therefore killed three goats in the morning, before we came to an anchor, and drest them with cabbage, to treat us when we came ashore. He came then to the sea-side to congratulate us on our safe arrival. And when we landed, a Moskito Indian, named Robin, first leapt ashore, and running to his brother Moskito man, threw himself flat on his face at his seet; who, helping him up and embracing him, fell flat with his face on the ground at Robin's feet, and was by him taken up also. We were much pleased with beholding the surprise and tenderness, and solemnity of this interview, which was exceedingly affectionate on both sides.
When their ceremonies of civility were over, we also that stood gazing at them drew near, each of us embracing him we had found here, who was overjoyed to see so many of his old friends come hither, as he thought, purposely to fetch him. He was named Will, as the other was Robin. These were names given them by the English, for these people have no names among themselves; and they take it as a great favor to be named by any of us. They even complain for want of it if we do not give them some name when they are with us ; saying they are poor men, and have no name.
Reliance, trust, confidence.
A MONKEY BRIDGE (S. AMERICA.) ARAGUATOES are a species of howling monkey, of a reddish brown color on the body and shoulders, lighter underneath, and their naked, wrinkled faces are of a bluish-black, and with very much of the expression of an old man. Their hair being full and bushy, gives them some resemblance to a bear, whence their occasional name of “bear-ape.” The araguato is full three feet without the tail, and that powerful member is much longer. A ·band was once seen to make its appearance on a creek in the neighbourhood of the Amazon. It came to a halt, all of them gathering into a great tree, that stood by the water's edge. This tree rose higher than the rest, and the most of the monkeys having climbed among the top branches, were visible from a distance. There were about fifty in the troop, and one that seemed larger than any of the others appeared to act as leader. Many of them were females, and there were not a few that had young ones, which they carried upon their backs, just as the Indian mothers, and those of other savage nations, carry their children. Most of the little monkeys lay along the backs of their mothers, clasping them round the neck with their fore-arms, while the hind ones girdled the middle of the body. But it was in their tails the little fellows seemed to place most reliance. The top parts of these were firmly lapped around the thick base of the tails of the old ones, and thus, not only secured their seat, but made it quite impossible for them to drop off. No force could have shaken them from this hold, without dragging out their tails, or tearing their bodies to pieces. Indeed, it was necessary they should be thus firmly seated, as the exertions of the motherstheir quick motions and long springing leaps from tree to treewould otherwise have been impossible.
On reaching the bank of the igaripé (or creek) the araguatoes were evidently at fault. Their intention had been to proceed down along the main river, and the creek now interfered. Its water lay directly across their course, and how were they to get over it? Swim it, you may say. Ha! little do you know the dread these creatures have of water. Yes, strange to say, although many species of them pass their lives upon trees that over-hang water, or even grow out of it, they are as much afraid of the water beneath them as if it were fire. A cat is not half so dainty about wetting her feet as some monkeys are; and, besides, a cat can swim, which the monkeys cannot-at best, so badly that in a few minutes they would drown. Strange, is it not, that among animals, those that approach nearest to man, like him, are not gifted by nature with the power of swimming ? This is all the more wonderful since so mean an animal as the frog can swim capitally. But to fall into the water would be a sad mishap for a monkey, not only on account of the ducking, but of the danger. There is not much likelihood of an araguato falling in. Even though one branch may be likely to break and snap, in the great space which it can so quickly trace around it by
means of its five long members, it is sure of finding a second. No; the araguatoes might spend a lifetime in the flooded forest without even wetting a hair, farther than what is wetted by the rain. · From their movements, it was evident the water had puzzled them, and a consultation was called among the branches of the tall tree already mentioned. Upon one of the very highest sat the large old fellow, who was evidently leader of the band. His harangue was loud and long, accompanied by many gestures of his hands, head, and tail. It was, no doubt, exceedingly eloquent. Similar speeches, delivered by other old araguato chiefs, have been compared to the creaking of an ungreased bullock-cart, mingled with the rumbling of the wheels !
Our party thought the comparison a just one. The old chief finished at length. Up to this point not one of the others had said a word. They all sat silent, observing perfect decorum; indeed, much greater than is observed in the great British Parliament, or the Congress of America. Occasionally one of the children might utter a slight squeak, or throw out its band to catch a mosquito, but, in such cases, a slap from the paw of the mother, or a rough shaking, soon reduced it to quiet. When the chief had ended speaking, however, no debate in either congress or parliament could have equalled the noise that then arose. Every araguato seemed to have something to say, and all spoke at the same time. If the speech of the old one was like the creaking of a bullock-cart, the voices of all combined might appropriately be compared to a string of these vehicles, with half the quantity of grease, and a double allowance of wheels. Once more the chief, by a sign, commanded silence, and the rest became mute and motionless as before.
This time the speech of the leader appeared to refer to the husiness in hand; in short, to the crossing of the igaripé. He was seen repeatedly pointing in that direction as he spoke, and the rest followed his motions with their eyes.
Horizontal, straight along ; opp. perpendicular. .
Constructed, made up of, composed of. The tree upon which the araguatoes were assembled stood near the edge of the water; but there was another still nearer. This was also a tall tree, free of branches for a great way up. On the opposite bank of the creek was a very similar tree, and the long horizontal branches of the two were separated from each other by a space of about twenty feet. It was with these two trees that the attention of the araguatoes appeared to be occupied; and our travellers could tell by their looks and gestures that they were conversing about, and calculating the distance between, their upper branches. For what purpose ? Surely they do not expect to be able to make a crossing between them ? No creature without wings could pass from the one to the other!
At a commanding cry from the chief, several of the largest and strongest monkeys swung themselves into the tree that stood on the edge of the water. Here, after a moment's reconnaissance, they were seen to get upon a horizontal limb-one that projected diagonally over the creek. There were no limbs imme. diately underneath it on the same side of the tree; and for this very reason had they selected it. Having advanced until they were near its top, the foremost of the monkeys let himself down upon his tail, and hung head downward. Another slipped down the body of the first, and clutched him around the neck and forearms with his strong tail, with his head down also. A third succeeded the second, and a fourth the third, and so on, until a string of monkeys dangled from the limb. A motion was now produced by the monkeys striking other branches with their feet, until the long string oscillated back and forwards like the pen. dulum of a clock. This oscillation was gradually increased, until the monkey at the lower end was swung up among the branches of the tree on the opposite side of the creek. After touching them once or twice, he discovered that he was within reach; and the next time, when he had reached the highest point of the oscillating curve, he threw out his long thin fore-arms, and firmly clutching the branches, held fast.
The oscillation now ceased. The living chain stretched across