• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Preface
 Chapter I: Want of information...
 Chapter II: Voyage to the bay of...
 Chapter III: Voyage to Chiriqui...
 Chapter IV: Rio del Oro, etc.
 Chapter V: Pearl Kays and Lagoon,...
 Chapter VI: Admiral Earnee,...
 Chapter VII: Cape Gracias...
 Chapter VIII: Harbour of San Juan...
 Chapter IX: Leave Fort San Juan,...
 Chapter X: Massaya, etc.
 Chapter XI: Departure from Leon,...
 Chapter XII: Guatemala, etc.
 Chapter XIII: Generous conduct...
 Chapter XIV: Mosquito country,...
 Appendix






Group Title: Constable's Miscellany of original and selected publications in the various departments of literature, science & the arts ;, vol. XVII
Title: Narrative of voyages and excursions on the east coast and in the interior of Central America
CITATION THUMBNAILS PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE
Full Citation
STANDARD VIEW MARC VIEW
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00076181/00001
 Material Information
Title: Narrative of voyages and excursions on the east coast and in the interior of Central America describing a journey up the river San Juan, and passage across the lake of Nicaragua to the city of Leon; pointing out the advantages of a direct commercial intercourse with the natives
Series Title: Constable's Miscellany of original and selected publications in the various departments of literature, science & the arts
Alternate Title: Roberts' Narrative
Physical Description: xxiii, 1, 25-302 p., 4 leaves of plates (1 folded) : ill., map ; 16 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Roberts, Orlando W
Irving, Edward ( Editor )
Publisher: Printed for Constable & Co.
Place of Publication: Edinburgh
Manufacturer: (Printed by J. Hutchison, for the heirs of D. Willison.
Publication Date: 1827
 Subjects
Subject: Voyages and travels -- Central America -- 19th century   ( lcsh )
Description and travel -- Central America -- 19th century   ( lcsh )
Description and travel -- Nicaragua -- 19th century   ( lcsh )
Description and travel -- Mosquitia (Nicaragua and Honduras)   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: Nicaragua
Honduras
 Notes
Statement of Responsibility: by Orlando W. Roberts; with notes and observations by Edward Irving.
General Note: Added, engraved title page (with imprint, as above): "Constable's Miscellany of original and selected publications in the various departments of literature, science, & the arts. Vol. XVII. Roberts' Narrative."
General Note: On spine: Roberts on Central America.
Funding: Constable's Miscellany ;
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00076181
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 14012006
lccn - 58000017

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page i
    Title Page
        Page ii
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Table of Contents
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page xi
        Page xii
    Preface
        Page xiii
        Page xiv
        Page xv
        Page xvi
        Page xvii
        Page xviii
        Page xix
        Page xx
        Page xxi
        Page xxii
        Page xxiii
        Page xxiv
    Chapter I: Want of information regarding the east coast, and interior, etc.
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
    Chapter II: Voyage to the bay of Mandingo, etc.
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
    Chapter III: Voyage to Chiriqui Lagoon, etc.
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
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        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
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        Page 81
        Page 82
    Chapter IV: Rio del Oro, etc.
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
        Page 91
        Page 92
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        Page 97
        Page 98
        Page 99
        Page 100
        Page 101
        Page 102
        Page 103
        Page 104
    Chapter V: Pearl Kays and Lagoon, etc.
        Page 105
        Page 106
        Page 107
        Page 108
        Page 109
        Page 110
        Page 111
        Page 112
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        Page 114
        Page 115
        Page 116
        Page 117
        Page 118
        Page 119
        Page 120
        Page 121
        Page 122
        Page 123
    Chapter VI: Admiral Earnee, etc.
        Page 124
        Page 125
        Page 126
        Page 127
        Page 128
        Page 129
        Page 130
        Page 131
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        Page 138
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        Page 142
        Page 143
        Page 144
    Chapter VII: Cape Gracias a Dios
        Page 145
        Page 146
        Page 147
        Page 148
        Page 149
        Page 150
        Page 151
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        Page 165
        Page 166
        Page 167
    Chapter VIII: Harbour of San Juan de Nicarague, etc.
        Page 168
        Page 169
        Page 170
        Page 171
        Page 172
        Page 173
        Page 174
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        Page 187
        Page 188
    Chapter IX: Leave Fort San Juan, etc.
        Page 189
        Page 190
        Page 191
        Page 192
        Page 193
        Page 194
        Page 195
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        Page 201
        Page 202
        Page 203
        Page 204
        Page 205
        Page 206
    Chapter X: Massaya, etc.
        Page 207
        Page 208
        Page 209
        Page 210
        Page 211
        Page 212
        Page 213
        Page 214
        Page 215
        Page 216
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        Page 219
        Page 220
        Page 221
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        Page 223
        Page 224
        Page 225
        Page 226
    Chapter XI: Departure from Leon, etc.
        Page 227
        Page 228
        Page 229
        Page 230
        Page 231
        Page 232
        Page 233
        Page 234
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        Page 239
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        Page 241
        Page 242
        Page 243
        Page 244
        Page 245
    Chapter XII: Guatemala, etc.
        Page 246
        Page 247
        Page 248
        Page 249
        Page 250
        Page 251
        Page 252
        Page 253
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        Page 257
        Page 258
        Page 259
        Page 260
        Page 261
        Page 262
        Page 263
    Chapter XIII: Generous conduct of the Indians, etc.
        Page 264
        Page 265
        Page 266
        Page 267
        Page 268
        Page 269
        Page 270
        Page 271
        Page 272
        Page 273
        Page 274
        Page 275
        Page 276
        Page 277
        Page 278
        Page 279
    Chapter XIV: Mosquito country, etc.
        Page 280
        Page 281
        Page 282
        Page 283
        Page 284
        Page 285
        Page 286
        Page 287
        Page 288
        Page 289
        Page 290
        Page 291
        Page 292
        Page 293
        Page 294
    Appendix
        Page 295
        Page 296
        Page 297
        Page 298
        Page 299
        Page 300
        Page 301
        Page 302
Full Text







OY

I-'N TrHE VARIOUS DEPARTMENTS 7---
00 -
LITBIATURE SCIR~CE.& TiE .ARTS.
YOL .XVII.
ROBERTS' NARRATIVE.


Aj


(/


EDINB TR GH:
:p TTFD FBO CON'STABIJE & V? E1IlT31iTRfR
SAND HURBST, Cf7HAXC] & C9 L aIDS.
1827.






NARRATIVE

OP

VOYAQg, AND EXCURSIONS
: : ON THE

EAST dOAST AND IN THE INTERIOR

OF CENTRAL AMERICA;

DESCRIBING

A JOURNEY TUP THE RIVER SAN JUAN, AND
PASSAGE ACROSS THE LAKE OF NICARAGUA
TO THE CITY OF LEON:

POINTING OUT THE ADVANTAGES OF A DIRECT COMMERCIAL
INTERCOURSE WITH THE NATIVES.


BY ORLANDO W. ROBERTS,
MANY YEARS A RESIDENT TRADER.

WITH NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS
BY EDWARD IRVING.




EDINBURGH:
PRINTED FOR CONSTABLE & CO.-EDINBURGH;
AND HURST, CHANCE, & CO. LONDON.

1827.




















TO

HIS EXCELLENCE

THE RIGHT HONOURABLE

EARL BATHURST, K. G.

THE PROMOTER OF DISCOVERY

AND ADVOCATE OF THE ABOLITION OF SLAVERY

THIS NARRATIVE IS RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED

BY HIS LORDSHIP'S

MOST OBEDIENT

AND VERY HUMBLE SERVANT,

THE AUTHOR.


2\ (k) : /' C;

















CONTENTS.






PA6X
PPrFACE . . xiii

CHAPTER I.
Want of Information regarding the East Coast, and
Interior-Inarras' Imperfect History- Influence
of the Romish Church ineffectual in civilizing the
Indians-Former compared with their present state
-Progress of the late Revolution-The Author' s
opportunities of Information .... 25

CHAPTER II.
Voyage to the Bay of Mandingo-Natives-Trade,
&c.-Sarsadee-New Caledonia and Scotch Darien
Company-San Bias Indians-Their Manners and
Customs-Their enmity to the Spaniards-Women
-Sookeah Men-Rivers-Forests-Game-Fish,
&c.-Turtle-Tortoise-shell, &c . ... 33

CHAPTER III.
Voyage to Chiriqui Lagoon-Porto Bello-Mosquite
Shore-Chrico Mola-Residence there-Sarsapa-
rilla-Excursions in the Interior-Story of a Gold






Vi CONTENTS.
PAGE
Seeker-Hunting party-View of the Atlantic and
Pacific-Visit from a Sloop of War-Character,
and Customs of the Valientes-Soupa Tree-Ser.
pents-Buccaniers-Chilibee, Tiribee, and Blan-
co Indians. . . .52

CHAPTER IV.
Rio del Oro-Gold Mine-River Belem-Leave Chi-
riqui and Boco del Toro-Tiribee Indians-Blan-
cos-Trade at Salt Creek-Matina-Cartago-
Dreadful Earthquake-Turtle Bight-Natural
History-Rio Colorado-River and Harbour of
San Juan-Indian River-Vanilla Plant-Rama
Indians and River-Bluefields Lagoon-Former
English Settlements-Bluefields River--Cookra
and Woolwa Indians . . .83

CHAPTER V.
Pearl Kays and Lagoon-Oysters-European Set.
tlers-Stores-Traders-Climate, Produce-Rio
Grande, or Prinzapulko-Indians and Chief Men
-Pine Savannahs-Macaws-Soil-Horses-Iron
-Captive Indian Boy-Cruel Expeditions against
the Cookras-Prinzapulko River and Indians-
Contracts with the Woolwas-Tongulas-Captain
Tarra-Brown-Return to Pearl Kay Lagoon 105

CHAPTER VI.
AdmiralEarnee-Tribute-King's Houses-Towka
Indians-Para Lagoon-Brancman's Bluff-Sa-
vannahs-Deer-Sandy Bay-Conversations with
the Indians-Arrival, Reception, and Character of
the Mosquito King-Counsel-Music and Musi-
cal Instruments-History of Don Carlos and Go-
vernor Clementi-Soil and Produce-Marl-Pipe
Clay-Journey to Cape Gracias a Dios 124

CHAPTER VII.

Cape Gracias a Dios-Old King George, the present
King-Education at Jamaica-Bad soil-Har-






CONTENTS.


PAGE
bour-Great Cape River-Importance of the Cape
-Origin of the Samboes-Croatch River-Kuka-
ri-Spotted Indians-Caratasca Lagoon Fish
and Game-Soil, produce-Crater-Patook River
-Horses-Kharibees- Brewers Lagoon -Black
River and Lagoon-Old Fort Settlers-Mines-
Fertility of the Settlements-Story of Ian Austin 145

CHAPTER VIII.

Harbour of San Juan de Nicaragua-Attack by an
Independent Cruiser-Taken as a Spy-Trial and
Escape-Conduct of the Indians-Ordered to San
Carlos-Bongos-The Fort or Battery and En-
trances of the River-Manatis--Serapiqui-Com-
modore Mitchell's Expedition-Islands-Rapids
-Alligators-Arrival at the Castle of San Juan-
Its present state-Great Rapid-Former incorrect
statements regarding the river ..... 168

CHAPTER IX.

Leave Fort San Juan-Fine timber on the Banks-
Village and Fort of San Carlos-Proceedings there
-Religious Tracts-Depart for Granada-The
Lake of Nicaragua-San Miguel-The Padrones
Orisons-Volcanic Island-Land between the
Lake and South Sea-Arrival at Granada-Exa-
mination and Imprisonment-Base Interpreter-
Departure for the City of Leon . 189

CHAPTER X.

Massaya-Remarkable Strata of Lava between the
Lakes of Leon and Nicaragua-Wheel Carriages-
Mules, &c.-Monagua-Hospitality of the Cura--
Matares Mama-Tomba Mountain road and
Game-Nagarotta-Pueblo Nueva-Plain of Leon
-Chain of the Andes-Answer to Baron Hum-
boldt- Arrival at Leon-Its vicinity to the South
Sea-Story of English Sailors-Final examination
and acquittal-Don Allemagne-His valuable






Tiii CONTENTS.

PAP't
trade-City of Leon-Its Houses, &c.-Provisions
-Luxurious mode of living--Urbanity of the Go.
vernor ............... 207


CHAPTER XI
Departure from Leon-Game, &c.-Pueblo Nuevo
-Monagua Political State of the Country -
Kindness of Inygoyen-Recross the Lava-Effects
of the Eruption-Massaya -Colonel Sacassa-
Medicine-Indian Procession-Missionaries-Ar-
rival at Granada-Lake and adjacent Country-
Earthquakes-Exactions of the Government-A-
bundance of Provisions-Voyage to San Carlos,
&c. . . .. 227


CHAPTER XII.
Guatemala Nicaragua Indians- Population -
Hostile Tribes-Lake of Nicaragua-SpanishPosts
-Route by Bluefield's River-Journey of Pat-
terson-Atlantic and Pacific Canal-Necessity of
Foreign Labourers-United States Contract for
Cutting a Canal-Gold Mines-Passage down the
San Juan- Mosquito King's Letter-Indian Dar-
ing Plan of Revenge-Arrival at Prinzapulko-
Joy of the Indians . . 248


CHAPTER XIII.
Generous conduct of the Indians-Their account of
Lord Nelson's Expedition-Journey to Cape Gra-
cias a Dios-Size and value of Mahogany, &c.-
Mosquito men-Cruelty of Barras-King's Token
-Voyage to Balize-Racon-Visit to Black River
-Kharibs and KharibBread-Settlements,History
and Character of the Khairbees-Poyer Country
-Islands of Guanaja-Roatan-Stormy Passage
across the Bay of Honduras . 264






CONTENTS. ix

CHAPTER XIV.
PAGE
Mosquito Country-Its Fitness for European Settle-
ments-Climate, Productions, &c.-Former Bri-
tish Settlements there-Natives, and necessity for
affording them Protection-Disputes regarding the
Mosquito Shore-Opinion of Mr Edwards-Dif-
ficulty of access to the Central States from the
East Coast-Route by Omoa to Guatemala-Leave
Balize-Taken by Pirates-Escape to Cuba, and
Return to England .......... 280

APPENDI .. .... ... .295





XIV PREFACE.
ing testimony to his good conduct and abi-
lity as a navigator. The reasons which
induced him to visit the West Indies, and
to remain for several years, among the In-
dians on the East Coast of Central Ame-
rica, in the capacity of a trader, are deve-
loped in the course of the narrative.
On returning to his native country Mr
Roberts was applied to by many highly re-
spectable individuals, proposing, at that
speculative period, to carry on certain oper-
ations in Central America and on the Is-
thmus of Darien, for information regard-
ing the present state of, that coast, and the
dispositions of the native free tribes; he
found, with considerable surprise, that ex-
treme ignorance was not only prevalent on
these subjects, but that the topography and
real state, of the greater part of that coun-
try, especially of many of the important
places on the Mosquito Shore, the coast of
the Isthmus of Darien, and the Interior,
which he had recently visited, were scarce-
ly known.
These circumstances first encouraged him
to arrange his materials for the present
narrative, which, although in some points
deficient, will contribute towards the great
mass of valuable information lately diIused
regarding the actual state of the New
World; in other respects, it will perhaps
not be found unamusing.
By his education, and former visits to






PREFACE. XV
various parts of the world, Mr Roberts had
not only been divested of many prejudices
and feelings, which would have disqualified
some Europeans, from associating with In-
dians and conforming to their mode of
life; but he had early acquired those ha-
bits of observation, and that talent for in-
vestigation, which qualified him for giving
a fair account of their progress towards a
state of civilization.
In contemplating the increasing numbers
or present state of the Kharibees, and
descendents of those British slaves who re-
mained on the Mosquito Shore when the
English left it, we are enabled to draw infer-
ences, very opposite to those of such advo-
cates for the continuance of slavery, who
assert that, under the present West India
system, the majority of the slaves are more
happy, and better provided with the means
of subsistence, than they would be if gra-
dually manumitted, and placed in a state of
freedom, dependent only on their own ex-
ertions; for, it appears that the persons first
alluded to, are not only increasing in num-
bers, but are, by their own industry, amply
provided with all the necessaries, and many
of the luxuries of life.
It is perhaps unnecessary to state, in de-
tail, the rapid progress of those discoveries
which Columbus had the glory of commenc-
ing; yet it may not be deemed improper, or
irrelevant to the subject of the following






Xvi PREFACE.
narrative, briefly to notice.so much of them
as relate to the ancient inhabitants of the
East Coast of Central America, and the first
attempts made by himself and his succes-
sors, to subjugate those Indian tribes whose
descendents have been so recently visited,
and described by the author.
Columbus having, in the year 1492,
reached some of the Lucays, or Bahama
Islands, proceeded to Cuba, where the na-
tives gave him such information, as induced
him to direct his course towards Hayti,
(Hispaniola, or St Domingo), at which isl-
and he arrived on the 6th December.
We may here, however transiently, con-
template the delightful picture presented by
Columbus's first account of the appear-
ance, happy state, and good conduct of the
harmless natives; we could dwell, with plea-
sure, on their humane and generous con-
duct to that leader and his adventurous
band, when in consequence of the wreck
of their principal vessel, they were in-
volved in misfortune and difficulty. But

"As soon as the Islanders heard of this disaster they
crowded to the shore with their Prince Guacanahari at
their head. Instead of taking advantage of the distress in
which they beheld the Spaniards, to attempt any thing to
their detriment, they lamented their misfortune with tears
of sincere condolence,-not satisfied with this unavailing
expression of their sympathy, they put to sea a number of
canoes, and, under the direction of the Spaniards, assisted
in saving whatever could be got out of the wreck, and by
the united labour of so many bands, almost every thing of






PREFACE. XVUi
it is painful to be obliged to turn immedi-
ately to the dark scene which followed, and
behold the sad change, which the arrival
of these licentious and rapacious strangers,
was destined to create among a million of
innocent people; for in the short space of
fifteen years, they were reduced to a wretch-
ed remnant, consisting of scarcely sixty
thousand miserable and heart-broken slaves;
and even these, were continually wasting by
labour and misery; so that, in a few years
more, they found their only refuge in a
premature grave!
On his second voyage, in 1493, Colum-
bus discovered, what are now called the
Leeward Islands, inhabited by a very dif-
ferent race of men, who fiercely defended
themselves, and made daring attacks upon
their invaders.
The third voyage took place in the year
1498; he then discovered the Island now
called Trinidad, and the Continent of South
America; but, after proceeding some dis-

value was carried ashore. As fast as the goods were land-
ed, Guacanahari in person took charge of them. By his
orders they were all deposited in one place, and armed
sentinels were posted, who kept the multitude at a dis-
tance in order to prevent them not only from embezzling,
but from inspecting too curiously what belonged to their
guests. Next morning this Prince visited Columbus, who
was now on board the Nigra, and endeavoured to console
him for his loss, by offering all that he possessed to repair
it. "-Robertson's History of America.
A 2







tance, along that coast, to the westward, he
bore away for Saint Domingo; and, it was
not until his last unhappy voyage, in the
year 1502, undertaken in the hope of find-
ig some strait leading to the then undis-
covered South Sea, that he first explored
the East Coast, a description of which, and
its inhabitants, is the principal subject of
the following narrative.
At Guanaja, an island in the Gulf of Hon-
duras, Columbus first had an interview with
the natives of the Mainland. Proceeding
to Cape Gracias a Dios, he examined the
coast southward from thence to Porto Bello.
He attempted to establish a small colony
on the River Belem, but had there to con-
tend not only against a more warlike race
of people than those of Hayti, but also a-
gainst the insubordination of his insolent
and rapacious followers, and was thus
deprived of the honour of planting the first
-European settlement on the Continent of
America.
About ten years afterwards, the King of
Spain having allotted the coast between the
Gulf of Darien and Cape de Vela, to Alonso
de Ojeda, and from thence to Cape Gracias
a Dios, to Diego de Nicuessa, both these
leaders made preparations for colonizing
and securing their new possessions,-the
former supported by a force of three hun-
dred, and the latter by seven hundred and
eighty men. But not being able to make


xviii


PREFACE.





PREFACE. XIX
the natives comprehend by what right or
title a foreign priest could dispose of their
country, to a king of whom they knew no-
thing, they not only refused to listen to the
Spaniards, or to admit them to settle in their
country, but, being attacked, they defended
themselves with such resolute bravery, that,
notwithstanding the most courageous and
persevering efforts, and repeated reinforce-
ments, the Spaniards, with the loss of half
their numbers, were compelled to abandon
the enterprise. Cortes, Pizzaro and Balboa,
commanders afterwards so celebrated, were
among the number of volunteers; but the
former, destined for a higher and more suc-
cessful undertaking, was compelled by sick-
ness to remain at St Domingo. The form
which, according to Herrera, was to be ob-
served in taking possession of this country,
is too important to be omitted in the pre-
sent work. *
After a lapse of above three centuries,
and the extirpation or conquest, of nearly
the whole of the ancient population, it is
not only deeply interesting in a physiologi-
cal point of view, but matter of exultation
to every liberal mind, to mark the result of
this determined and successful resistance;
and we still trace with satisfaction, in the
undegenerated San Bias men, Valientes,
and other free Indians of the present day,
the same feelings and sentiments of inde-
Note, No. 1.





XX PREFACE.
pendence which animated their courageous
ancestors. Farther to the northward we
find, in Clementi, a specimen of the ancient
Cazique, and in his, hill-people, a modifica-
tion of the more mild and peaceable of
the ancient tribes. We can also trace, al-
though under greater modifications, a rem-
nant of the fierce natives of the Leeward
Islands, in the resolute free Kharibees of
the Bay of Honduras, and Mosquito Shore,
much softened down however, by their in-
tercourse with Europeans, and by a slight
intermixture with negroes.
Balboa, by his successful expedition
across the Isthmus of Darien, in the year
1512, attracted a great number of adven-
turers to that part of the continent, under
the command of Pedrarias, who, being
either unwilling, or unable, to restrain them
from the most cruel and tyrannical exac-
tions, the natives inhabiting the country to-
wards the Lake of Nicaragua were al-
most totally extirpated; and the removal,
shortly afterwards, of the Spaniards from
Santa Maria on the Gulf of Darien to Pa-
nama on the side of the Pacific, complet-
ed the subjugation of most of the neigh-
bouring tribes, and opened the way, not
only for the future conquerors of Peru, but
also for the discovery of the provinces of
Nicaragua by Davila in 1522, and the sub-
+ Caraib6, in their original language, is said to signify
" warlike people."






PREFACE. xxi
sequent foundation of the cities of Cartago,
Leon, Nicaragua and Granada. Cortes
having, in the mean time, conquered Mexi-
co, sentDe Oli and others, in 1523, to what is
now denominated the province of Hondu-
ras; and, during the same year, he commis-
sioned Pedro Alvarado, with considerable
forces to take possession of Guatemala; so
that the Indians of the Central States, were
at once assailed both from the north and
south.
*Alvarado, a brave, politic, and indefati-
gable soldier, after subduing the natives of
Pegnantepec, and completing the conquest
of Soconusco and Ponala, arrived in the
territory of Quichee; and, after many des-
perate battles with the natives-the Rachi-
quels, and other powerful and warlike na-
tions-founded the city of Guat6mala in the
year 1584. To enter into an account of the
rave defence made by many of these nations,
and to trace the progress of the Spanish arms,
would lead us into details which, although
possessing great interest, are ratherforeign to
the subject of the following narrative. We
must therefore rest contented by observing,
that as the Spaniards approached the Mos-
quito Shore, and. the mountainous country
between that coast and the Pacific, the de-
termined resistance of the natives, and their
aversion to the Spanish yoke, seems to have
increased. In the province of Honduras,
nearly the whole of which is still possessed






CX11 PREFACE.
by the aborigines, the Caziques Copan Calel
in 1530, and Lempira in 1536, seem to
have defended themselves with a courage
and conduct which would have done honour
to more enlightened warriors; and although
they ultimately submitted, many of their
subjects, as well as those, who had been some
time before, driven from St Salvador, by
Estete and other sanguinary and avaricious
Spanish commanders, sought refuge in the
mountains, and in the labyrinths of the
coast, handing down to their posterity, that
hatred of the Spanish name, which is so
carefully cherished even at the present day.
The Spaniards seem, from this period, to
have given up the idea of pushing their con-
quests in that quarter; but, in the year 1608,
according to the historian Vasques, attempts
were made, by missionaries, to convert and
bring the Indians on the north and east coast
to acknowledge the Spanish yoke. These
missionaries sought the tribes living among
the mountains on the upper part of the Blue-
fields River, and were at first kindly re-
ceived; but, afterwards, narrowly escaped
to Guatemala with their lives. A second
expedition, in 1612, escorted by 25 soldiers,
was sacrificed in the same quarter by these
unruly Neophytes.
In the year 1623, other missionaries visited
the country farther to the northward, and, at
first, seem to have had hopes of success; but,
ultimately, they also, fell a sacrifice to their





PREFACE. XXilU
zeal. These seem to be the last serious
attempts of the Spaniards, in that quarter,
to subjugate the free natives, whose early in-
tercourse with the English and other Euro-
peans, especially the Buccaniers, continually
at war with the Spaniards, aided them in
maintainingtheir independence. The friend-
ly intercourse which continued to subsist
during the period that the British had set-
tlements on their coast, has strengthened
their good opinion, and taught them to rely
on us for that protection which it is hoped
the British Government will promptly ex-
tend to them, should any future emergency
render our interference necessary for their
preservation.
EDWARD IRVING.


LONDON, APRIL 1827.















VOYAGES AND ADVENTURES


Oi THE


EAST COAST, AND IN THE INTERIOR
OF CENTRAL AMERICA.






CHAPTER I.

WANT OF INFORMATION REGARDING THE EAST
COAST, AND INTERIOR-INARRAS' IMPERFECT
HISTORY-INFLUENCE OF THE ROMISH CHURCH
INEFFECTUAL IN CIVILIZING THE INDIANS-
FORMER COMPARED WITH THEIR PRESENT STATE
-PROGRESS OF THE LATE REVOLUTION-THE
AUTHOR'S OPPORTUNITIES OF INFORMATION.

ALTHOUGH much valuable information has late-
ly appeared relative to South America, no Eu-
ropean traveller has, since the Spanish American
evolution, given any account of the country si-
tuated between Mexico and Colombia, forming the
B






26 INARRAS' HISTORY.
Indian territory, and the United Provinces of
Central America, nor of the numerous tribes
of free Indians in that part of the world, who
continue to detest the Spanish name, and will
not admit one of that nation to settle among
them. This may in some measure be attri-
buted to the wilful silence of the West Indian
traders, who are little inclined to spread informa-
tion likely to produce competitors for a share of
their lucrative trade; and partly to the want of
free access from the East Coast to the interior. It
.may also be partly owing to some remains of the
old Spanish jealousy of strangers-to the compa-
ratively late period at which the Central Provinces
ventured to declare their independence, and the dif-
ficulties incident to the first formation of a new
government; but, however this may be, we are
still obliged to look for information regarding this
part of America to the Buccaneers of some cen-
turies past.
A "Statistical and Commercial History of Gua-
t6mala" has indeed appeared, translated frpm
the Spanish of Don Domingo Inarras, 4 native, f
New Gplt6mala; but, although that work *.co-
tains much valuable information, it is, for the mosq
part, a compilation of ancient records, a4. cqn-
sequently, not of a nature to satisfy the British
public; or, what in this country is always at ir-
portant point, to guide commercial men in extend-
ing their relations. Moreover, Inarras does not
seem to know any thing of the Lake Qf Nicara-
gua, or the Rio de San Juan; or to hayp lie leqas
knowledge of the Indian country adq setlpppte
STranslated by Lieut. Bailey, R. N. Printed fbr
Hearne, London, 1823.






PRESENT CONDTIoN OF THE INDIANS. 27
ot the East Coast, although these occupy above
one 'half of Central America.
It has been considered by many, especially by
those attached to the Romish church, that the ex-
ertions of the Catholic clergy, for humanizing the
Indians of Central America, have been eminently
successful; and that, bringing them within the pale
of the church, has ameliorated their condition, ex-
panded their mental and corporeal powers, and,
consequently, added to their earthly comfort and
happiness. But when we come dispassionately to
examine and consider their actual state at the pre-
sent time, in comparison to what it was reported,
even by the Spaniards, to have been at the pe-
riod of the Conquest, there is too much reason to
fear we would find ourselves obliged to pause
before adopting that opinion. When we also
compare the state of the great majority of the
aborigines of the present day, with that of the de-
scendants of those brave tribes who sought shel-
ter on the coast, or defended their possessions
there, it becomes a matter of doubt, whether the
latter have not, under the tuition of lawless Buc-
caneers, and licentious free traders, made greater
progress in the scale of humanity, or, at all events,
retained more of their ancient, moral and physi-
cal strength, than the descendants of their less re-
solute brethren of the Central States, who have
enjoyed the tuition of the Roman Catholic priest-
hood. In considering this question, however, it
is not altogether to the peculiar influence which
the dogmas of that church are alleged to exercise
over the minds of the lower orders, by keeping
them in slavish subjection to the declared infallibi-
lity of its doctrines, that we must look for an ex-






s28 ORMER AND PRESENT STATE
pianafion of this circumstance; for it may also be
considered as furnishing a proof, if any were ne,
cessary, how much more capable of mental exer-
tion are men in a state of freedom, than those who
are retained in a state of slavery.
According to the Historians of the Conquest of
Guatemala, that country, when first invaded by
the Spaniards, under Don Pedro Alvarado, was
flourishing and populous, to a degree which, com-
pared with the present small numbers, and wretch-
ed condition of the aborigines, leads the mind to
reflect, with astonishment and abhorrence, upon
the massacres, cruelties and privations, by which
their intrepid, but bigoted 'and relentless conquer-
ors, reduced the natives to their present state; for,
instead of an uncultivated and not half peopled
country, containing, as at the present day, two or
three poor cities, towns and villages, inhabited by
a few thousands of Spanish religieuse and Creole
descendants of Spanish adventurers, with groups
of naked and degraded Indians scattered over the
face of the country, living in filth and idleness, under
the shelter of wretched huts, or travelling in droves,
loaded like beasts of burden, on the one hand,-
and a comparatively small number of free and in-
dependent tribes, remnants of former kingdoms,
speaking different languages, scattered along the
sea-coast, or among the mountains, on the other-
we, at the time of the first invasion, read of no
less than thirty different nations of Indians in Cen-
tral America, congregated in wealthy cities, in a
state of prosperity and civilization, their kings and
chiefs possessing sumptuous palaces and houses,
groat riches, and all the apparatus of regular go-






OF THE INDIANS COMPARED. 29
vernthents. According to Torquemada, And the
1istodrian Fientes, one of these ancient cities,
hniiely, Utatlan, the capital of the king of Qidic,
was,-at the beginning of the sixteenth century, so
considerable, that it contained a population pro-
blably equal in number to the whole present In-
dians of Central America; for, to oppose th6
Spaniards, it alone produced seventy-two thousand
fighting men; and, in proof of its progress in civi-
lii~tion, dne of its institutions was a seminary
'where, under seventy or eighty tutors, five or six
thousand yotiths were maintained and educated it
the king's expense.

SIt is asserted that the Central American Indians of
the present day still use twenty-six of the ancient lan-
guages, viz. Quiche, Kachiquel, Zutugel, Mam, Poco-
mam, Pipil, or Nahuate, Pupuluca, Sinca, Mexican,
Chorti, Alaquilac, Caichi, Poconchi, lxil, Zotzil, Pzendal,
Chapaneca, Zoque, Coxoh, Chaniabal, Chol, Uzpantecs,
Lepca, Aquacateca, Maya, and Quecchi.
The dress that the noble Indians wore was of white
cotton dyed or stained with different colours, the use of
which was prohibited to the other ranks. This vestmen)t
consisted of a shirt and white breeches, decorated with
fringes; over these was drawn another pair of breeches,
reaching to the knees, and ornamented with a species of
embroidery. The legs were bare; the feet protected by
uandals, fastened over the instep, and at the heel by thongs
of leather; the sleeves of the shirt were looped above the
elbow with a blue or red band; the hair was worn long,
and tressed behind with a cord of the colour used upon
the sleeves, and terminating in a tassel, which was a dis-
tinction peculiar to the great captains; the waist was
girded by piece of cloth of various colours, fastened inca
knot before; over the shoulders was thrown a white
mantle, ornamented with figures of birds, lions, and o-
ther decorations of-cords and fringe. The ears and lower
lip were pierced to receive star-shaped pendants of gold
or silver. The insignia of office, or dignity, were carried
in the hand.-Inarras, pp. 193 and 198.
B2






80 THB AUTHOR'S OPPORTUNITIES
The present town of Santa Cruz del Qudche
is said to be founded upon, or near the place where
it stood; but so complete has been the destruction
of all the remains of former greatness in this part
of the world, that the site of many ancient cities,
nearly equal in extent to the one mentioned, can-
not now be traced, or with any degree of certainty
pointed out.
Having, in consequence of the great stagnation
in the shipping interests prevalent in the year
1815, visited the Western World, I resided up-
wards of seven years among the free tribes scat-
tered along the East Coast, and during that pe-
riod traded at every settlement between the
Gulf of Darien and the Bay of Honduras; and,
in the course of that time, had a good opportunity
of observing, and becoming well acquainted with
the manners and customs of these.people, and of
contrasting their present state of civilization, with
that of their subjugated brethren, in the Spanish
American provinces. How far the late political
changes, in that part of the world, will be likely
to benefit both, or either of these classes of ab-
origines, appears exceedingly doubtful, especial-
ly while the new states continue, under the in-
fluence of a church, whose interests are best main-
tained, by keeping the great body of the people in
a state of ignorance; but, that they may ultimate-
ly be raised from their present state of abject de-
gradation, is ardently to be wished by every friend
of humanity.
It is necessary to observe, that symptoms of
discontent appeared in Venezuela; and the foun-
dation of the Spanish American revolution was
established there, so early as about the year 1797.






OF INFORMATION, &C. 81
The-,expedition-of the unfortunate Miranda, took
.place in 1806, and a sanguinary war raged in 1816,
while, at the same time, Mexico had become the
scene of ferocious contests; yet the southern part
of the kingdom or domain of Guatemala, remain-
ed comparatively tranquil, until a much later
period; for, it will be perceived in the course of
the following narrative, that, so late as the year
1822, when I crossed the Lake of Nicaragua to
the city of Leon, the Spanish authorities were,
notwithstanding the declaration of independence,
and various revolutionary movements in the city
of Guatimala in 1820, still in undisturbed posses-
sion of the government of that part of Central A-
merica; yet it was evident, that the mass of the
population there, was adverse to the continuance
of the Spanish yoke, and they have since joined
in throwing it off.
So many writers on the subject of America
and the West Indies, have given minute and scien-
tific descriptions, of the various plants, birds and
animals, found in that part of the world, that even
if I had been capable of entering into proper de-
tails on the subject, I should only have wearied
the patience of the general reader, without grati-
fying the lover of natural history, by an exact account
of new productions. I shall, therefore, notice only
such of the plants, animals, and fishes, as appear-
ed to be of importance, either in a commercial or
some other point of view.
In speaking of the residences of the natives, I
shall, according to the custom prevalent on the
East Coast, and in the West Indies, use, in the
course of the following narrative, the terms settle-
ment and plantation, although not, perhaps, the







most proper designation for the abodes of aboti-
gines; and, at the same time, I shall write the
proper names, as nearly as possible, according 'tb
the most prevalent pronunciation.















CHAPTER 11.


VOYAGE TO THE BAY OF MANDINGO-NATIVES
-TRADE, &C.-SARSADEE-NEW CALEDONIA
AND SCOTCH DARIEN COMPANY-SAN BLAS
INDIANS-THEIR MANNERS AND CUSTOMS-
THEIR ENMITY TO THE SPANIARDS-WOMEN
-SOOKEAH MEN-RIVERS-FORESTS-GAME-
FISH, &C. -TURTLE-TORTOISE-SHELL, &C.

ARRIVING at Kingston, Jamaica, in the early part
of the year 1816, I shortly afterwards obtained the
command of a brig of about one hundred and sixty
tons burthen, with an assorted cargo of no great
value, but suitable to the Indian trade.
We left Port Royal, Jamaica, in the month of Ju-
ly, and, on the fourth day, we saw the high land
at the back of the Bay of Mandingo, between
Porto Bello and the Gulf of Darien. Next morn-
ing, we anchored on the lee-side of one of the nu-
merous kays, that are off its entrance, and we
shortly perceived a canoe, with two Indians, com-
ing cautiously round the point. On our hoisting
the British ensign, they approached the brig, and
hailed us; to which my assistant, who understood
their language, replied, that we were English tra-
ders from Jamaica. On being made acquainted
with the object of our voyage, they recommended






34 VOYAGE TO THE
us to proceed, in the first instance, to Great
Playone River, as the most commodious place for
loading the brig, and procuring a cargo with the
greatest despatch. They shortly left us, but re-
turned in the evening, accompanied by several ca-
noes and dories, from the shore, bringing plan-
tains, bananas, cocoa-nuts, cassava, hogs, fowls,
and turtle; in exchange for which, we gave them
fish-hooks, small glass beads, Dutch looking-glass-
es, salt, and other articles, which, except to them,
were of very trifling value. Our crew, in the mean
time, put out their fishing-lines, and soon caught
plenty of groupers, red and silver snappers, stone
bass, and a variety of other fish, so that we had
abundance of excellent provisions.
Having thus apprised the Indians of our arrival
on the coast, we next day got under weigh, and
ran down the inner passage, between the small
kays or islands, and the mainland. This passage is
full of coral rocks and reefs, but the water is so clear,
that they are easily seen and avoided in the day-
time, by keeping a man stationed at the mast-head,
on the look out, to give warning of the vessel's ap-
.proach to- them. At night, however, this inner
passage, the whole distance from Mandingo to
Caret, is totally impracticable.
Between these points, are the mouths of many
considerable rivers, the sources of which, are alto-
gether unknown, even to the Spaniards, being si-
tuated in the heart of a country, occupied by hos-
tile tribes of Indians, who have always maintained
their independence. Some of these rivers are said
to rise within a short distance of the Pacific Ocean,
SA kind of large boat, made out of the trunk of a





BAY OF MANDINGO. 3b
lyt no authentic survey of any of them, has yet
been made,
J ni the evening, we came to an anchor off the
river Daalo; and, according to custom, fired a gun
as a signal to the Indians, whose chief settlements
are situated on the banks of the rivers, a consider-
aq4e way up from the sea. The report of even a
six-,peonder on this coast, is heard an immense way
up the country but it is only the acute ear of an
Indian, that can distinguish between its reverbera-
tions agong the mountains, and the more frequent
sound of distant thunder. On hearing this signal-
gun, canoes are immediately despatched, for the
purpose of ascertaining the object of such a visit.
Sometimes they arrive the same evening, but at
all ti ps not later than next morning.
Numbers of the Indians came off to the brig
next, morning, and expressed much satisfaction at
seeing a vessel of the Clara's unusual size, visiting
their cast for the purposes of trade. We pro-
ceeded, by their recommendation, to Needle Kay,
being the most eligible place for collecting fustic,
which we intended should be the mosp bulky,
altiqugh the least valuable part of our cargo. We
wprp shortly visiteA by the chiefs, and by the
Sqokeah man, priest, or conjurer, of the great and
little Playone tribes, who promised us all the as-
siStaqe in their power. By theiy advice we
hired a few In4ians, who yery expeditiously erect-
p4.a temporary house for us, on the kay, in
which we had more room to display our commo-
dities to advantage, than we could have had in the
yppsel. In two or three days, we landed and ar-
ranged the goods we had to offer, cleared a spot
for the reception of fustic, which the Indians had






36 TRADE WITH THE NATIVES.
gone to collect at their different settlements, and
every thing augured favourably for the success of
our voyage. The Indians, shortly began to arrive
from all parts of the coast, with fustic, in canoes
and dories; some of them brought from five hun-
dred weight, up to three, four or five tons, but
none of them exceeding the latter quantity. In
exchange, we gave them ravenduck, osnaburg,
checks, blue baftas, and other manufactured goods-
mosschettes, (or G. R. cutlass-blades), and a va-
riety of toys and small articles, adapted to this
trade, for which articles, in barter, an enormous
price was obtained. Hogs, fowls, and an abund-
ant variety of provisions and fruits, were brought
from various rivers, and sold to us at a very trifling
consideration. The hogs, I may Iere remark,
were turned loose on the kay, during the day-
time, to seek for food; but, at night, either from
habit, or an instinctive fear of wild beasts, they in-
variably kept crowded together, in a body, close
to our house.
Being desirous of procuring, as much tortoise-
shell and cocoa as possible, we fitted out two large
boats, by the Spaniards called bongos, for an ex-
cursion along the coast, putting a few goods on
board, and procuring the assistance of an Indian
trader, who partially understood the English lan-
guage. Being anxious to become acquainted with
the coast, as far as I safely could, I took charge of
this expedition: we slept the first night, at a small
settlement, on the banks of the river Banana,
where we bartered some trifling articles for tortoise-
shell. From thence, we proceeded to the river
Mosquito, where there is a considerable settlement
of Indians'; but here, we could do no business, as






THE DARIEN COMPANY. 37
they had agreed to keep the whole of the tortoise-
shell, which is of the finest quality, for the esta-
blished traders in the employment of Shepherd
and Humphries of Jamaica, who have had persons
stationed at this place, for some years past.
The Indians here, are particularly favourable to
the English, and have long adopted the British
flag; from the month of April to October, which
is the fishing season, it is regularly hoisted every
morning, at the house of the chief or head man.
From Banana we proceeded, farther along the
coast, towards the Gulf of Darien, to Sarsadee,
another considerable station of the Indians, where
we purchased a few hundred weights of tortoise-
shell, and a quantity of cocoa. The natives here,
raise abundance of plantains, bananas, maize, cassava,
and all the other productions of this prolific climate;
-abundance of the finest green turtle are caught
close to the settlement; vessels, trading to San
Bias, also find here an excellent harbour, and a
greater variety of refreshments than they can pos-
sibly consume.
We next visited New Caledonia, the site of the
settlement attempted to be formed, by the famous
Scotch Darien Company, in the years 1698 and
1699. The ruins of the fort and houses, are
still very visible; the harbour is excellent, and
there seems to be no want of provisions in the
country, in the rivers, and in the sea. Had this
magnificent project been properly seconded, or not
injudiciously opposed, by the English nation and
King William's Dutch subjects, the result might,
at the present day, in spite of the opposition of
Spain, have been glorious to England, eclipsing





38 THE DARIEN COMPANY.
the splendour of the other great schemes of the
Bank of England and the East India Company,
also established about that time;-whose directors
were eminently indebted to its projector, the ill-
requited Patterson, for many of those ideas, in
which have originated, the present prosperity and
power, of those great national corporations.
As the particulars of this extraordinary but un-
fortqnate man's favourite scheme, are now almost
forgotten, it may not be improper, in this narrative,
to give a brief sketch of it, taken principally from
the writings of an author who had access to the
papers of the Company, some of which are pre-
served in the Advocates Library in Edinburgh,
and others in the Exchequer there; and to the
family papers, of many who were the chief actors
in the Company's affairs." *
Patterson, the son of a farmer in Dumfries-
shire in Scotland, was educated for the church, and
first visited the Western world under pretence of
converting the Indians; he was acquainted with
Wafer and Dampier, but got most of his informa-
tion from the old Buccaneers. At Acts, between
Porto-Bello and Carthagena, towards the Gulf of
l.arien, he found a natural harbour, capable of
containing a large fleet, and having a promontory
commanding its entrance. At first, Patterson of-
fered his plans to merchants in London, who dis-
couraged him; afterwards to others on the conti-
nent of Europe, who also treated him illiberally.
Dalrymple, Memoirs of his own times. The reader
will find, also, many interesting particulars regarding this
ill-fated expedition, in a work lately edited by the Rev. Dr
M'Crie, intituled Memoirs of Mr William Veitch and
George Brysson, written by themselves, &c. Edinburgh,
1825, 8vo, pp. 222-251.






THE DARIEN COMPANY. 39
The Elector of Brandenburgh listened to him, but
afterwards would do nothing. At last the san-
guine and energetic Fletcher of Salton, brought
him forward, anid introduced him to the Marquis
of Tweeddale. The Master of Stair and Mr John-
ston, the two secretaries of State, for Scotland, also
patronized him; and, through the means of the
friends thus procured, a statute of Parliament was
passed, in the year 1695, and in terms thereof,
a charter from the crown obtained, for creat-
ing a trading company to Africa and the New
World, granting "power to plant colonies, and
build forts, with consent of the inhabitants, in
places not possessed by any European nations."
A subscription opened, and four hundred thou-
sand pounds, a great sum at that period, was in-
stantly subscribed. Patterson's project, which
had been timidly considered by people in pri-
vate, filled them with hope when it came to then
on the wings of public fame. Two or three
respectable individuals being deputed to receive
subscriptions in England, and on the Continent-
the English subscribed 300,0001., and the Dutch
and Hamburghers 200,0001. more. Patterson
was to have received for his remuneration two per
cent. on the stock, and three per cent. on the pro-
fits; but when he saw the magnitude of the sub-
scription, in the generous spirit which belongs to
genius, he gave a free discharge of his claims.
In the meantime the jealousy of irade, "w which
has done more mischief to the trade of England
than all other causes put together, created an
alarm in England; and Parliament, without any


SDalrymple's Memoirs.






40 THE DARIEN COMPANY.
consideration, petitioned the King against it, on
the 13th December 1695, as detrimental to the
new East India Company. No committee of Par-
liament, or inquiry, was instituted; the King was
induced to set his face against it, and the English
and Hamburghers immediately withdrew their sub-
scriptions.
The Scotch, however, persevered, and boldly
defended their rights. They built six ships in
Holland, of from thirty-six to sixty guns each-
and on the 26th July 1698, twelve hundred
men sailed from Leith in five stout ships; and al-
though these men could have forcibly gone from
the northmost part of Mexico to the southmost of
Chili, they used no force with the natives, but,
in all their transactions, acted fairly and honour-
ably in every respect; and their first act, which
originated in the advice of Patterson, was to pro-
claim freedom of trade and religion to all nations!
The Colonists, in their first letter to the Coun-
cil of Directors, represent, that As to the country,
we find it very healthy; for although we arrived here
in the rainy season, from which we had little or no
shelter for several weeks together, and many sick
.among us, yet they are so far recovered, and in so
good a state of health, as could hardly be expect-
ed any where among such a number of men to-
gether." A variety of papers of the Company,
in the Advocates Library, prove that the soil was
good, the climate healthy, and the passage from
sea to sea not difficult.
The colonists lingered eight months, looking in
vain for that assistance fiom Scotland, which the
difficulties thrown in the way of the Company's
operations prevented being sent; and falling short






THE DARIEN COMPANY. 41
of provisions, although the Indians, by hunting and
fishing for them, generously gave them that tem-
porary relief which fellow Britons refused, almost
all of them quitted the settlement.
In the mean time, the active enmity of the
Spaniards, and other enemies of the Company,
provoked the Scotch to send out a reinforcement
of thirteen hundred men; but this expedition was
hastily got up, and ill provisioned. They arrived
at different times, broken in health, and dispirited
at the situation in which they found the settle-
ment; to add to their misfortunes, it has been
said, that certain gloomy and bigoted preachers
exhausted the spirits of the people, and .spread
divisions and discontent amongst them. In the
mean time, the most active and inveterate enmity
and opposition to the Company continued to show
itself in England.
The last party from Scotland that joined the
second colony, after it had been three months set-
tled, was Captain Campbell of Finab, with a com-
pany of the people of his own estate, whom he
had commanded in Flanders. This brave gentle-
man marched to Fubucantee the second day after
his arrival, and, with two hundred men, attacked
and defeated, with great slaughter, a Spanish force
of sixteen hundred men, which had been collected
to destroy the colony. On the fifth day he re-
turned to the fort with very little loss, but found
eleven Spanish ships blockading the harbour, their
troops landed, and almost all hope of help or pro-
visions cut off. He stood a siege of six weeks,
till the enemy, by their approaches, cut off his
wells; and the garrison, after melting even thei
c2





42 SAN BLAS.
pewter dishes into bullets, were forced to capitu-
late on honourable terms. Many misfortunes be-
fel them on their way home; the Spaniards show-
ed them generous kindness, while the English
treated them with the most inveterate enmity and
malice.
The whole were completely dispersed, and only
Captain Campbell's, and another small ship, with
about thirty men of thl whole colony, returned to
Scotland, where they found Patterson labouring
for the reestablishment of the Company's affairs.
He survived many yrars in Scotland, pitied and
neglected, but always respected.
England, by the imprudence of causing the ruin
,f that settlement, lost the opportunity of securing
,o herself, greater commercial power, than will pro-
>ably ever again present itself, to any nation what-
soever. There are times, when schemes the most
visionary, may succeed ; and if Spain and England
had, at that time, joined in opening a passage
through the Isthmus of Darien, the situation of
the former, might at the present day, have been
very different; and the efforts of these ill-inform-
ed and inadequate companies, which have recent-
ly been got up, in various quarters, for the pur-
pose of effecting a junction canal, between the
two great oceans, would have been rendered un-
necessary; efforts which now can hardly succeed,
unless heartily seconded, and powerfully patronized,
'by all the leading nations of Europe and America.
Having made several later voyages to San Bias
in the Clara, I had good opportunity of inquiring
into the manners and customs of the natives of
this Isthmus, who appear to be a distinct race of
people from the Valiente and other Indians of the





SAN B~AS INDIANS. 43
Rio Boling, Chrico Mole, Chiriqui, and other
places to the northward. They are much shorter
in stature, few of them exceeding five feet two or
three inches in height; but they have full chests,
broad shoulders, and are exceedingly active; their
foreheads are low, and rather flat; their eyes small,
and generally of a black or dark brown colour;
their cheek bones broad and full; the lips not
very thick. They suffer the hair on their heads,
which is coarse, black, and often worn tied behind
the head, or in queue, to grow to a great length;
but they carefully eradicate it from all other parts
of the body. The colour of their skin is a dusky
yellow, peculiar to the inhabitants of this part of
America. There are some instances of Albinos be-
ing produced amongst them ; and in one of my voy-
ages to the Darien Gulf, I saw, at the River Coco,
a child of about five years or seasons, old, per-
fectly white, but without any apparent defect in
its sight, as the Albinos are generally represented
to have. The San Bias men are an active hardy
race of people, extremely jealous of their indepen-
dence, which they have hitherto strenuously main-
tained; and, what is not very common among the
other Indians of South America, they are fond
and careful of their women. Some of these ladies
accompanied their chiefs on board the vessel. They
were clothed in wrappers of blue bafta,, or strip-
ped cotton of their own manufacture, reaching
from the breast to a little lower than the calf of
the leg. They wore a profusion of small gasp
beads round their ankles, forming a band of from
two to three and a half inches deep, and similar
bands or bracelets were worked round the wrists.
Their ears were pierced, as well as the cartilage of






44 SAN BLAST INDIANS.
the nose, in which they wore rings of gold or silt
ver; the ear-rings principally supplied by the Ja-
maica traders-the nose jewels seem to be of their
own manufacture, being a thick ring of gold in
the form of an obtuse triangle, about three quar-
ters of an inch in circumference. On their necks,
they wore an immense quantity of fine seed beads
of lively colours, and necklaces of red coral. Some
of those worn by the chiefmens wives, would alone
weigh several pounds. Their hair, which is very
long and black, was made up not inelegantly, and
fastened on the top of the head with a sort of bod-
kin made of tortoise-shell, or hard wood. Their
complexion is much clearer and brighter than
that of the men. Over the head was thrown
a piece of blue bafta or sahempore, complete-
ly covering the back, breasts, and one side of
the face. Altogether, the deportment of these
women was extremely modest, diffident, and ami-
able.' Their husbands are exceedingly jealous of
strangers, and that is said to be one of their reasons
for refusing to allow Europeans to settle on the
mainland. Their trading intercourse is always
carried on at one of the numerous kays or islands
on the coast, selected at the time for that purpose.
Perhaps this custom, may in some measure be ow-
ing to the necessity which they are under, of guard-
ing with great vigilance, against their neighbours
the Spaniards, to whom they bear the most in-
veterate enmity. No Spanish vessel ever fell in-
to their power, whose crew was permitted to escape,
when any of them have the misfortune to suffer
shipwreck on this part of the coast,-the massacre
of the crew is, under every circumstance, the ine-
vitable consequence. During one of my subse-






RIVERS, FORESTS, GAME. 45
quent trading voyages to this quarter, a fine Spa-
nish copper-bottomed schooner, of about one hun-
dred and twenty tons burden, laden with wine,
rice, maize, sugar, bricks, and jerked beef, ran a-
ground during the night, on a reef of rocks, a little
to the north-east of the great Playone river. The
crew, knowing the inevitable consequence of be-
ing discovered in the morning, took to their boats
during the night, and reached Porto Bello. The
vessel being strong, and substantially built, beat
fairly over the reef, without suffering much da-
mage. The Indians, immediately on discovering
the accident, boarded and plundered her, cutting
away the masts, bowsprit, &c., for the mere pur-
pose of securing the iron works, by rendering her
useless. They regretted that the crew had made
their escape. The hull of the vessel was after-
wards removed to Needle Kay, and I used it as
a hulk, by which to heave down a vessel, under
my command.
It is to be regretted that this part of the Isth-
mus is st:il so little known. I have been assured
by many intelligent Indians, worthy of confidence,
that one of the rivers on which they are settled,
has its source in a kind of lake, or lagoon, within
only about eight miles of the Pacific. The forests
of San Bias, produce some very valuable woods,
amongst which may be enumerated fustic, cedar,
ironwood, ebony, brazilletto, lancewood, spars, and
a variety of hard woods, well adapted for the use of
cabinetmakers, but hitherto very little known,
The interior abounds in game of various descrip-.
tions, amongst which are the tapir, or mountain
cow, the waree, peccary, gibeonite, Indian coney,
antelope, armadillo, and others; also currassow.






46 IIAWKSBILL TURTLE.
guam, coquericot, partridge, and a great variety of
other birds. No rivers or coast in the world can
produce a greater variety of excellent fish, or finer
turtle; and the quantity seems inexhaustible. Cocoa-
nut trees are never cut down, nor destroyed by
the Indians of San Bias; and are so abundant on
all the kays, that the fruit is esteemed of little
value, except on account of the oil, which the na-
tives extract and use for dressing their hair, burn-
ing in lamps, and other purposes. Any quantity
of these nuts, may be procured at a very trifling ex-
pense.
The inhabitants of this part of the coast, are
careful to preserve the hawksbill turtle, as much as
they possibly can. They never destroy its eggs,
and have a singular, but cruel method, of taking
the shell from its back, without killing the ani-
mal, as is done by the other tribes. They collect
a quantity of dry grass, or leaves, with which they
cover the creature's back, and then setting the
stuff on fire, the heat causes the shell on the back
to separate at the joints. A large knife is then
nsiiiuated horizontally, and the pieces are gradu-
ally lifted from the back, care being taken, not to
injure the shell by two much heat, nor to force it
off, till the heat has fully prepared it for separation.
The turtle is held down by an Indian during
this cruel operation, and afterwards suffered to
escape; but great numbers of them, reduced to
this helpless state, fall a prey to the numerous
sharks on the coast. There have been many in-
stances, however, of turtle being afterwards caught,
which had undergone the process, and the shell,
subsequently formed, has, instead of thirteen pieces,
the usual number, been in one piece only.





INDIAN MANNER OF FISHING. 41
Traders, who are not judges of fustic, are often
cheated, by having a kind of spurious, or bastard
wood without dye, imposed upon them; and they
themselves too often deteriorate the quality of the
genuine wood, by immersing it, during their stay,
in salt water, to increase its weight. These prac-
tices, together with the circumstance, that a great
quantity of inferior wood is cut in low, swampy
places, has depreciated the character of that which
is collected here; but I am perfectly satisfied,
that the fustic of the high land of the Isthinus, is
as valuable as that of Cuba, Jamaica, or any other
place whatsoever.
The'natives are excellent hunters and strikers
of fish. One of their methods of fishing is rather
singular. The water on their coasts being very
clear, they can easily see the fish basking, or swim-
ming near the surface, or in the shallow places:
and they kill considerable numbers, by following
them in canoes, and shooting them with arrows.
The women and children plant and cultivate In-
dian corn, cassava, plantain, and other provisions,
the mens task being to cut down wood, prepare it
for sale, or other purposes, and to clear ground for
plantations. They are not so much addicted to
spirituous liquors as some of the other Indians of
the coast; and they use their 'own chicka, or li-
quor made from corn, cassava, and plantains, in
preference to rum. They have in general but one
wife, although there are some among them who,
according to their inclination and ability to main-
tain them, have four or five. Their boases are
constructed at a short distance from each other.
Every wife has, in general, a separate house or hut,
and they live on friendly terms With their neigh-





48 SOOKEAH MEN OR PRIESTS.
hours. The husband usually takes up his resi-
dence with the eldest, who considers it her duty
to set the others a good example, and main-
tain a friendly communication in the family, by
zealously directing their attention to his comfort
and convenience. Sometimes although not of-
ten, they are all kept in one house, except
during an advanced period of pregnancy, con-
finement, or suckling their children, at which
season they invariably live by themselves. At the
expected time, the woman, as is customary with
most Indian tribes, retires to a hut built in the
woods, at a distance from the rest of the family.
There, she remains some time assisted by some
aged female relation, who is closely secluded with
her. The period of travail is short, compared to
what is generally experienced in civilized life; and
previous to returning to their usual intercourse
with the family, a sort of public lustration of them-
selves and offspring takes place.
The persons of greatest consequence, next to
ile principal chiefs, are the Sookeah-men, who are
both physicians and priests. These persons, are
supposed to hold communication with an invisible
agent, or great spirit, and to be empowered, through
its means, to foretel events. They have acquired
a knowledge of the medicinal virtues of some
plants, and are thereby enabled to cure wouuids,
and also some of the disorders incident to the cli-
mate. They are, consequently, held in much esteem
and veneration, by the more ignorant natives. Pre-
vious to being received as professed sookeahs,
they are secluded, some times for months, in the
wopds, without, as is said, holding the least com-
mifnieation with any one; and here it is that






SOOKBAH MEN. 49
they are alleged to have intercourse with the spirit
alluded to. They are deep, shrewd, and compa-
ratively intelligent men, and, having on acquired
an ascendancy at home, their fame soow extends s
to the neighboring tribes.
I have often heard, and have no doubt what-
ever of the fact, that they have been known to
dance, in a state of nudity, in the middle of a
large fire, the flames having little or no effect on
their body; and they generally do this until the
fire is extinguished. The effects of the fire is re-
sisted by some powerful antidote, extracted from
vegetable substances, the preparation of which is
only known to the superior sookeahs.
All their knowledge, however, has been insuf-
ficient to contend with the diseases introduced by
Europeans, many of the natives having been car-
ried off by the small-pox, measles, and other com-
plaints for which they know no cure, and by which
their numbers have been greatly reduced. On the
first appearance of the measles or small-pox, which
have proved as destructive to these poor Indians
as the plague has been to the inhabitants of other
quarters of the globe, they abandon their settle-
ments, and fly to some of the numerous kays on
the coast for the benefit of free air; on one of
these the infected are carefully secluded, and shun-
ned, until they are free from the disease ;-death
however generally puts an end to their sufferings.
The Mosquito-men have repeatedly attempted
to acquire an ascendancy over the San Bias Indians,
and much blood, in consequence, has been shed.
The last expedition against the latter, took place
about twenty years ago. It consisted of about
D 2






50 CARET.
three hundred men, who were nearly all cut off in
the different engagements that took place in the
disadvantageous positions into which they were
enticed. Very few of the assailants returned to
their own country; and it is, therefore, not likely
that any similar attempt will again be made from
the Mosquito-shore.
How far it may be the policy of the new Go-
vernments of South America to endeavour to con-
ciliate these and other free and independent tribes,
remains to be seen; but, judging from some of the
recent decrees of Colombia, it is much to be feared
their value is not justly appreciated. By restric-
tions imposed on their trade, and otherwise, they
may continue to regard the Colombians as no bet-
ter than Spaniards; and if so, the consequences
cannot but be injurious to both parties. Their
country is naturally so strong, and the lagoons and
harbours so very intricate, that contrabandists, pri-
vateers, or pirates,-if on friendly terms with the
Indians-can always find shelter; and the trade
to Carthagena, Porto Bello, &c. may, consequent-
ly, at any time meet with interruption and injury.
This part of the Isthmus of Darien presents a fine
field for the researches of the industrious and sci-
entific traveller; and, no doubt, many very im-
portant discoveries, botanical, mineralogical, and
otherwise, remain" to be made by those who have
inclination and ability to explore it.
To return to our commercial operations-Hav-
ing left New Caledonia, we proceeded to Caret,
where we disposed of the last of our goods, in
barter for cocoa, with which we completed the
cargo of the two Bongos, and came back in safety
to the vessel, at Needle Kay. During our ab-






RETURN TO JAMAICA. 51
sence, the trader had maintained the most friendly
correspondence with the natives, and had collected
about one hundred tons of fustic, besides other
more valuable produce, sufficient for a return cargo,
with which we safely arrived in Jamaica, after an
absence of about nine weeks.
In my subsequent voyages to this coast, I al-
ways found the Indians anxious and willing to pro-
mote the success of the vessels I commanded. In
general, they became much attached to those who
visit them repeatedly. Every succeeding voyage
improves their, friendship, and desire to encourage
the commercial interests of their country, so far as
their ignorance and inexperience will allow them
to judge of it.

















CHAPTER III.

VOYAGE TO CHIRIQUI LAGOON-PORTO BELLO
- MOSQUITO SHORE CHRICO MOLA RESI-
DENCE THERE-SARSAPARILLA-EXCURSIONS
IN THE INTERIOR-STORY, OF A GOLD SEEKER
-HUNTING PARTY-VIEW OF TIE ATLANTIC
AND PACIFIC-VISIT FROM A SLOOP OF WAR
-CHARACTER, AND CUSTOMS OF THE VALI-
ENTES SOUPA TREE SERPENTS BUCCA-
NIERS-CHILIBEE, TIRIBEE, AND BLANCO
INDIANS.

IN the year 1817, my voyages to San Bias were
interrupted by severe indisposition, which reduced
me to a state of great debility. When convales-
cent, I accepted the offer of a friend, to accom-
pany him on a general trading voyage to the Bight
of Mandingo, and different parts of the Mosquito
Shore. His object was to lodge supplies of goods,
with his agents, at various trading depots; and to
bring away from them, such quantities of fustic,
tortoise-shell, sarsaparilla, cocoa, &c. as they had
collected; afterwards, to sell the remainder of his
dry goods, to the Spaniards at Coclec, Gold River,






PORTO BELL. 53
Matina, and at the River San Juan de Nicaragua,
for specie and gold dust. We accordingly pro-
ceeded to the coast of San Bias, and transacted
business at New Caledonia, the River Mosquito,
Sarsadee, and the Bight of Mandingo,-receiving
considerable quantities of tortoise-shell, cocoa, and
other valuable produce. Returning from the coast
of San Blas, we passed Porto Bello, and pro-
ceeded to Chiriqui Lagoon; which, although so
far to the southward, is considered part of the
Mosquito Shore, under the jurisdiction of the
Mosquito King; who, notwithstanding that the
Spaniards consider it a part of their province of
Veragua, annually sends his admiral to collect tri-
bute from the natives. Veragua joins Costa Rica
a few miles to the westward of Boco del Toro, or
the Bahia del Amirante. Costa Rica extends to
Punta del Gordo, which is a short distance to the
northward of the Rio de San Juan; and, may be
considered, the boundary of the real, and nomi-
nal, Spanish possessions on that part of the coast.
At Point de Gordo, the Mosquito shore proper
may be said to commence; and we here meet
with the small independent tribe of Indians called
the Ramas. From thence to Cape Gracias a
Dios, where the Mosquito King principally re-
sides, the coast lies nearly north and south, a dis-
tance of about two hundred and twenty miles.
From Cape Gracias a Dios, the shore extends
nearly north-west and by west, to the River Pa-
took; and the distance is about one hundred miles.
From thence'to little Roman river, it stretches

See Note II.






54 CHIRIQUI LAGOON.
to the west, about ninety miles; forming a sea
board or line of coast, of about four hundred and
ten miles in extent, upon which the Spaniards
have never been able to form any effective set-
tlements.
On our arrival at Chiriqui Lagdon, I gladly
assented to a proposal, made by my friend, to
ascend the River Chrico Mola (or perhaps more
properly Chrickam Aula), about twenty-five miles,
to the principal settlement of the Valiente Indians;
a station said to be exceedingly healthy-there to
remain for the recovery of my health-become
acquainted with the manners and customs of that
tribe, and open a trade with the Indians in the
interior of the country.
Having selected, and hired, three large canoes
from thie which were assembled round the ves-
sel, we loaded them with goods to the value of
about three hundred pounds : and, at noon, set off
for the Valiente Settlement, where my friend had
already formed a connexion with one of the native
traders.
I found that the river has two mouths, formed
by a'small island at its. entrance ;-the one to the
westward is broadest, having only about two feet
water on the bar; the other, three feet.-After
passing these entrances, it is of considerable depth
up to the first rapid; a distance of about twelve
miles.
At this rapid the land rises high on each side;
and, up to the settlement, the river is so full of
falls, rocks, and rapids, that it would be totally
impossible for persons, unaccustomed to such places,
to ascend even in the lightest canoes.-The In-






WHYKZE TARRA. 55
dians are obliged in the ascent, frequently to lay
aside their paddles and use poles;-and at some
places even to haul their canoes, over the rapids,
by strength of arm,-which the force of the cur-
rent renders no easy task ;-the smooth rocks, and
rounded stones, making it difficult to find a secure
footing.-Between these rapids, however, there are
many reaches, or smooth and deep parts of the
river, some of them about a mile in length; and,
the banks being covered by a variety of majestic
trees and shrubs of the most lively colours, nothing
of the kind which I have ever seen was more beau-
tiful or picturesque.-After passing many falls and
rapids, we came to the first Valiente Settlement.
-The houses are situated at a small distance from
the river; and are surrounded by large plantations
of plantains, bananas, cassava, and cocoa.
Above the first settlement, the land continues
gradually to extend; and, at the distance of about
thirty miles, assumes a mountainous appearance.
On the evening of the day following that oh
which we left the vessel, we arrived at the trader's
house, situated on a moderately high bank close
to the river. My new friend, Whykee Tarra, the'
trader alluded to, being informed of my intention
to remain with his countrymen, received me very
cordially, and made preparations for obeying the
orders I had brought to him; viz. to proceed to
the vessel with the goods he had collected; and
to give his assistance in collecting tortoise-shell on
the coast.
After having given me possession of his house,
and desired his wife,'who understood a little Eng-
lish, to pay every attention to my domestic com-






56 CHRICO MOLA.
forts, and to assist me as an interpreter in my in-
tercourse with the natives, he departed for the la-
goon, taking with him a considerable stock of
hogs, poultry, eggs, and plantains for the use of
the crew.
Being thus installed in my new lodgings, and
the chief man of the place being made acquainted
with my intentions, a messenger was, by his ad-
vice, sent to give notice to the Indians residing in
the interior, that an English trader had come to
live among them. On his return, he informed me
that in two or three days many of these Indians
would visit me, bringing sarsaparilla, and such other
articles as they had to offer f6r sale.
I accordingly soon received visits from several
families, sometimes from ten to twenty in a group,
each person bringing from fifty to eighty pounds
weight of sarsaparilla, in large bags made of silk
grass, having a large band of the same material
fastened across its mouth.-These bags, when fill-
ed, appeared like baskets, of which the band form-
ed the handle; and they were suspended on the
back of the Indian by this handle put across the
forehead:-Women and children were loaded in a
similar manner, in proportion to their strength.
Abundance of fowls, and some fine hogs were
brought me, and also a great many extremely neat
bags, or purses, of various sizes, made of silk
grass, and dyed of various bright colours,-some
of the threads nearly as fine as lace.
Scarlet, blue, yellow, and purple, were the most
predominant colours ; and, when newly dyed, they
appeared very fresh and bright, but did not stand


*Smilax Sarsaparilla of Linn.





MONTANO INDIANS. 67
the rain or weather, which shows, that although
the Indians possess some very valuable dyes, they
have not the secret of rendering them durable.
They also brought me a number of small lines,
from twenty to thirty fathoms in length, made of
the interwoven fibres of cotton and silk grass.
These they are in the habit of bartering with the
fishing Indians of the coast, who use them as strik-
ing lines for securing turtle, &c. I gave in
barter for these articles, fish hooks, glass beads,
small Dutch looking-glasses, seamens' knives, and
other articles of little value.
The Indians on the coast think themselves en-
titled to assume a superiority over these "Mon-
tanios" in consequence of the connexion of the
former with the traders. So far as regarded my-
self, I found these natives of the interior, harmless,
inoffensive, honest in their dealings, and satisfied
with whatever was given to them in exchange for
the commodities they brought. It is true, that
many of these commodities were perfectly useless
to me, but I made it a rule never to refuse any
thing offered, or to send the persons hbme entirely
disappointed in their expectations. On such an
occasion a few beads, a small looking-glass, a bit
of tobacco, and a few pipes, or some other trifle,
satisfied and pleased them.
Many of the people, who then and subsequent.
ly visited me, came, as I was told, and had every
reason to believe, from the low country, border-
ing on the Pacific Ocean; having crossed the moun-
tains about thirty miles above this settlement.
These mountains are of considerable elevation,
covered with wood to the summits, and form
the natural boundary between the Valientes, and





38 SARSAPARILLA.
those Indians who occasionally trade with the
Spaniards.
SSarsaparilla being one of the principal articles
of trade with these people, and its virtues, as a
medicine, becoming every day more popular in
Europe, I may here remark, that the kind which
is collected in the Savannahs is more esteemed
than that which is brought from the mountains;
being much thicker, and containing a greater
quantity of medicinal substance. The latter sort
is so fibrous, that it is rare to see a stalk the thick-
ness of the stem of an ordinary tobacco-pipe, and
much of it is spoiled, by being dried in an artifi-
cial, careless, and hasty manner, instead of by a
regular and gradual exposure to the sun:-by the
former method it is frequently scorched, or be-
comes so black and discoloured, as to be nearly
useless ;-on the accession of the least damp, it is
apt to become mouldy, its essential qualities spoil,
and it is then totally unfit for use.
After I had resided some time at Chrico Mola,
the Indians from the south side of the mountains
frequently brought me Spanish money and pieces
of silver, for the purchase of iron pots, cutlass
blades, earthen ware, and dry goods. Many of
these Indians have incurred the jealousy of the
Valientes, who dislike their familiar intercourse
with the Spaniards. Their quarrels on this sub-
ject often end in bloodshed, and the Valientes
seldom approach, or trust themselves within reach
of the Spanish territory. *
From my first arrival at Chrico Mola, I gradual-
ly acquired bodily strength,-and I followed the
example of the inhabitants, old and young, by
daily bathing in the river, which is here as clear
See Note III.






SARSAPARILLA. ou
as crystal, and pleasantly cool. Alligators do
not ascend higher than the first fall, so that there
is no danger of annoyance from them, and to these
frequent ablutions I attributed, in a great mea-
sure, my rapid recovery to perfect health.
In less than six weeks after my arrival I had
procured upwards of five thousand pounds weight
of sarsaparilla ; and conceiving that a regular sup-
ply of this valuable article might be obtained here
for supplying the Jamaica market, provided the
Indians were properly encouraged to collect it, I
came to the determination of remaining at Chrico
Mola, until next season at least. On the return
of the vessel which had left me here, I went down
to the Lagoon and communicated my ideas on the
subject to he rowner, who, forseeing the advanta-
ges likely to be derived from the residence of A
European among the Valientes, immediately as-
sented to my proposal. Having delivered over to
him the produce that I had collected, I received
a farther supply of the goods which I considered
necessary, for the consumption of the natives, un-
til he should return. It was not without some
doubt of my own prudence that I found myself
and property, entirely at the mercy of my new
friends:-I had however acquired considerable
confidence with the headmen, who, in one of their
Talks, or Councils, came to a resolution to give.
me every protection, and all the facilities in their
power, for trading; and, as a farther proof of their
good will, the principal headman offered me an
Indian wife, and every other accommodation.
As I recovered strength, having much leisure
time on my hands, and having always been fond of
hunting and fishing, I gradually extended my ram-






60 GOLD SEEKER.
bles into the interior. With the assistance of a
small pocket compass, I had little fear of losing
myself; and, becoming acquainted with the Indian
tracks, I often penetrated many miles into the
woods, reaching solitudes where, apparently, no
human being had ever preceded me. I had often
heard that gold might be found in abundance,
in the country about Chrico Mola, and that
the old Indians, were well acquainted with the
places, where it has been discovered. Their jea-
lousy of strangers, and their dread of exciting the
cupidity of the Spaniards, induces them, how-
ever, carefully to conceal this knowledge, and the
following occurence which took place a few years
ago, is illustrative of this feeling on their part. A
Mulatto, from Jamaica, of the name of Wedder-
burn, who had been some time resident at Chrico
Mola was in the habit of trading at places where
he occasionally met with Spaniards. He became
acquainted, in one of his excursions, with a
Spanish Creole, who, having become disgusted
with his employers, proprietors of a gold mine
about twenty miles up Gold River, and about
thirty from Valiente Point," agreed to accompany
the trader, and take up his residence at Clrico
Mola. Shortly after his arrival he discovered in-
dications of gold in the vicinity of the river, and,
by absenting himself for several hours every day,
attracted the notice of the trader, to whom he con-
fessed that he had discovered gold; and, with the
help of an old crow-bar, had already dug up and
collected several ounces. He was either not
aware of the jealousy of the natives, or had not
used the precaution necessary to elude their ob-
servatioi. One of them called a Council of the






EXCURSIONS INTO THE INTERIOR. 61
headmen, who next day sent for the trader, and
demanded that the Spaniard should be given up to
them, to be sent out of the country. He was as-
sured that no harm should happen, and that a ca-
noe and every thing requisite to enable his friend
to reach Portobello, or some other place of safety,
should be granted to him. Accordingly he de-
parted, accompanied by some of the natives, who
were to see him safely out of the river. They re-
turned in two days, but the Spaniard was never
again heard of by any of the traders; and, I have
no doubt, they put him to death, to avoid the risk
of any annoyance from Europeans on account of
the gold mines in their country. Notwithstand-
ing this example, I often, in my hunting rambles,
stopped to look for gold, particularly when my
path has been obstructed by deep ravines and old
dried up water-courses from the mountains; but
I was then unacquainted with the indications of
this precious metal; and I never considered it safe,
or prudent, to remain stationary for any length of
time, in these solitary places, so remote from the
habitations of men.
On my return from one of these excursions the
chief man, of the settlement, named by the traders
Jasper Hall, told me, that some of the women
had discovered the track of an extraordinary ani-
mal, which had filled them with much apprehen-
sion; and that none of the hunters could make
out, from their description, what it was; the wo-
men insisting that it could only be Devils track."
The story excited my curiosity; and not doubting
but that it might prove to be that of some large
animal, probably unknown in Europe, I persuaded
Z






62 HUNTING PARTY.
him to make up a hunting party and go in search
of it. Jasper, myself, and other three men, pro-
vided with provisions and other materials to en-
able us to remain a night or two in the woods if
necessary, set out at day-break-well armed-
and having three of the women with us to serve
as guides. After proceeding more than four hours
by an unusual route, we came to a deep ravine,
which we ascended nearly a mile to a place where
the tract had become visible. Here old Jasper
burst into a loud laugh, calling out, Hai Robert !
him devil tract found "-and on investigation it
proved to be the marks of a pair of coarse hobb-
nailed shoes, which I had worn on one of my long
excursions. We had approached the ravine by a
different path than that by which I had penetrat-
ed, and I was amused to find that I had come so
far in search of my own footsteps.
I would not dwell upon this trifling occurrence,
were it not that besides being descriptive of Indian
life, it led to an excursion which I had often wish-
ed to accomplish. We had seen several kinds of
game during our progress, but had not fired one
shot, for fear of alarming the strange animal we
sought. The women had brought plantains and
cassava, and we now proposed to stay a day or
two in the woods, and endeavour to procure some
game to carry home with us. The Indians soon
erected some rude huts on the spot, and the wo-
men were left to cover the roofs with leaves of the
wild plantain. We proceeded a considerable way
up the ravine, and at last heard the noise of the
peccary or wild hog, and shortly discovered a drove
of nearly a hundred of them. We killed about
twenty; and the noise of our firearms having






THE PECCARY. 63
brought the women to our assistance, all hands
were soon busily employed in cutting out the gland
on the back of the animal, and dividing the carcass,
into quarters, for the purpose of being barbacued.
This operation is performed by erecting a low
frame, or grating of wood, upon which the meat is
laid, and covered with leaves; a fire is lighted un-
derneath, and the flesh is in this manner not only
smoked, but sometimes half roasted, before it is
considered sufficiently cured. It will keep good
during several weeks.
The ears of the peccary are short, pointed, and
erect; the eyes are sunk deep in the head, the
neck is short and thick, the bristles are nearly as
large as those of the hedgehog,-longest ontheneck
and back; it is of a hoary black colour, annulate with
white, having a collar, from the shoulders to the
breast, of dusky white;-in size, and colour, it
something resembles the hog of China; it has no
tail,-on the back there is a glandulous opening,
from which constantly distils a thin fetid liquor.
If the animal is killed in the evening, this part
carefully cut out, and the liquor instantly washed
away, the flesh is agreeable food. They grunt
with a strong harsh sound; and, when vexed, make
a most disagreeable noise with their tusks, which
are scarcely conspicuous when their mouth is shut.
They will sometimes turn, with fury, on their-
assailant, whose best refuge, in that case, is to
climb upon a tree, and then, if he has good dogs,
to keep them in play-he may kill them at plea-
sure so long as his ammunition lasts. They princi-
pally feed on fruits seeds and roots; and some-
times do much mischief in the plantain and cassava
walks.






64 VIEW OF THE
We remained at the huts all night, and, next
morning, leaving the women to complete the opera-
tion of curing the produce of our labour, we re-
newed our expedition.
Having often heard that the Atlantic and Paci-
fic Oceans could be seen at the same time from
the summit of a mountain about thirty miles from
Chrico Mola, or twenty from the spot where we
now were, I was exceedingly desirous of ascer-
taining the fact, and I persuaded Jasper to take
that direction. Our way, in pursuing our route
towards that point, was nearly free from under-
woodor any material impediment, unless when
we met with ravines, which are, in some places,
wide, and the bottom and sides partly composed
of large masses of rock. There were some deep
pools of clear water in these hollows, in which I
could perceive a number of small fish. In the
rainy season when these ravines must by every ap-
pearance contain an immense body of water, to
cross them will be impossible.
In the afternoon we succeeded in gaining the
summit of the mountain, where I was well repaid
for the great fatigue and trouble of ascending. It
did not terminate in any peak or cone, nor had it
the particular appearance of volcanic origin, but
was rather the continuation of a chain, or ridge
of mountains, which rose higher than any of those
in the immediate neighbourhood.
About five hundred yards across its summit, the
descent, towards the Pacific, commences rather
abruptly; and, is more precipitous than on the side
by which we ascended. Mountains still higher,
appeared to the eastward in the direction of Pana-






ATLANTIC AND PACIFIC OCEANS. 65
ma and Chagre. To the north-west, an immense
and continued unbroken chain of mountains pre-
sented themselves as far as the eye could reach;
and, here and there, various high, isolated, peaks,
having the appearance of volcanoes, sprung up
from the chain. I had a clear and distinct view
of both seas; many of the islands in the Boco del
Toro and Chiriqui Lagoons on the Atlantic side,
were distinctly seen, but I could not perceive Qui-
bo, nor any of the islands on the Pacific, which I
thought would, if correctly laid down in the charts,
have been visible. The immense forests of stately
trees which vegetate on the sides of all rivers in
this country, and clothe most of the mountains to
their very summits, effectually prevented our tra-
cing the course of these rivers ; nevertheless, the
country, from the spot on which we obtained this
delightful view, presented the map of an immense
mountain forest, drawn on Nature's grandest scale.
As night was fast approaching, and there is lit-
tle twilight in this climate, the Indians became im-
patient to descend; and with regret, I left the
ridge on which I had experienced such perfect en-
joyment. We got down to a ravine, and having
procured a quantity of wild plantain leaves, we
ascended one of its sides, and, gathering wood,
made a large fire, by the side of which we made
our supper of the peccary meat, brought with us.
I stretched myself upon my bed of leaves, and,
having commended myself to Him whose mighty
works I had been admiring, and who, by his Pro-
vidence, equally guides the Indian and European,
I sunk into profound repose, with as complete a
feeling of security, as if I had been in the midst of
E2






0u ARRVIAL OF THE
civilization, and surrounded by numerous friends
and relations.
On the first appearance of daylight, we put our
guns in order, and descended the mountain at a
quick pace. We shot several guams and curras-
sows on our way down; by mid-day came to
the huts, and found the women in safety. Having
rested and refreshed ourselves, we prepared for
our journey homewards, each carrying a propor-
tion of the provisions and game, the produce of
our hunt. We reached the settlement after sun-
set, much fatigued, but highly pleased with the
result of the expedition.
Immediately on our return, I had a good
opportunity of ascertaining how far the Valientes
could be depended upon to repel any attempt of
invasion from their enemies. I found the settle-
ment in considerable alarm, and the whole popu-
lation on the alert. A strange ship of war had
arrived in the lagoon, and come to an anchor off
the mouth of Chrico Mola river, after having fired
at two Valiente fishing-canoes, as a signal, no
doubt, to bring them to the ship; but the In-
dians, mistaking this for an indication of hostility,
jumped overboard, swam ashore, and gave an alarm
that the Spaniards were coming. A red flag had
been hoisted, on a small island off the mouth of
the river, probably as a signal to the natives to
come to that place; but when these people heard
the drums beat, and the evening gun fired, they
concluded that they were to be attacked, espe-
cially when a canoe returned with intelligence that
they had seen a large boat, with armed Europeans,
on its way down the river, a little beneath the
first fall. I found the Indians removing their wo-






BRIG SHEERWATER. 07
ien, children, and valuables, across the river, to
the woods for safety; and, as I had at this time a
very considerable quantity of tortoise-shell, sarsa-
parilla, and other produce under my charge, I
stated my opinion, that if they were Spaniards, or
others coming with hostile intentions, it was pro-
bable, that, having reconnoitred, they would at-
tempt to force their way up, during the night, or
early in the morning; and, that if they were al-
lowed to pass the falls, the destruction of the set-
tlement was inevitable; but that by fighting at
each fall successively, we might easily defend our-
selves not only against this ship, but any greater
force likely to be sent against us. The Valientes
seconded me with alacrity. I distributed among
them all the fowling-pieces that I had for sale.
Moreover, we mustered forty-three muskets and
fewling-pieces, besides spears, bows and arrows,
in the different houses along the river. I served
out some kegs of gunpowder, and all the bullets,
and Bristol blue shot, that I had in the store. The
men were posted at the different falls, and if we
had been attacked, all felt confident of the re-
sult. In the morning a large armed canoe was
sent down the river for intelligence, and met Cap-
tain Cox with some of the officers of his Majesty's
brig Sheerwater, coming up the river in a large
boat, conducted by three of the Valientes. Captain
Cox informed me, that on his way down the coast
to San Juan, he had, owing to calms and a strong
west current, been carried to leeward of Boco del
Toro; and, hearing there was an English settlement
at Chrico Mola, curiosity and a desire to be useful
to his countrymen had induced him to endeavour
to find them out. These officers remained with me





68 CUSTOMS OF
until next day; curiosity had attracted a number
of the Valientes, who assembled about my house
to see the strangers; their deportment was or-
derly; the Valiente girls were much admired, and
my countrymen were pleased to admit, that, alto-
gether, the people were much superior to any
tribe they had seen on the coast. When the cap-
tain and his officers left me they expressed them-
selves much pleased with the visit. I furnished
them with such fresh provisions as I could collect
upon so short a notice, giving them all the native
curiosities I had collected, as well as those I could
procure among my friends. The Indians, who
accompanied them back to the vessel, brought me
a present of tea, coffee, sugar, and wine;- and, in
return, I induced my friends to follow Captain
Cox through the channel of the Split Hills, in the
Boco del Toro Lagoon, with a few more dozens
of fowls, plantains, &c.
This visit created considerable speculation a-
mong the Indians, whom I laboured hard to con-
vince, that it was their interest to court a friendly
communication with the British ;-that their coun-
try contained many articles, very valuable in Bri-
tish commerce; and, that they only required to be
known, to be visited by large trading vessels di-
rect from England. Upon the whole, this visit,
and these representations, made a considerable im-
pression on the minds of the natives; and, subse-
quently, in consequence of it, I stood much higher
in their estimation.
Several customs of the Valientes, seem peculiar
to that race only. When one of them dies, the
body is always buried in the floor of the house oc-
cupied by the family; the only exceptions to this






THEVALIENTES. bJ
rnle, are when an Indian has been stung to death
by a serpent, or slain in a quarrel with one of his
own tribe :-in either of these cases, they are in-
terred under a house, in their own provision-
ground, and their implements of war, and other
moveables, are buried with them; their canoe is
also generally split in two, and laid on the grave.
Moreover, even the plantain-walks and provisions
on the grounds immediately belonging to such
persons, are destroyed. At the death of a rela-
tion, they manifest extraordinary grief, the women
especially-who beat their bosoms, tear their hair,
cut their flesh, and use other demonstrations of
the most extravagant sorrow. The son, if there
is one, succeeds to his father's house and women.
The moveables, such as canoes, hunting and fish-
ing implements, arms, trinkets, &c., are divided
amongst his children. If there be no children,
the eldest brother succeeds to every thing. The
women have little choice in the disposal of their
persons in marriage: that affair being always ar-
ranged by their father, or nearest male relations.
The children, of both sexes, are early taught to
swim; one of their principal pastimes is sporting
in the water, to which they resort almost as soon
as they can walk. As they increase in years,
they are instructed to use the bow and arrow and
the spear; and they acquire dexterity by practis-
ing with blunted instruments upon the fowls, dogs,
or other domestic animals or birds, reared about
the house. As they acquire strength, the boys,
have other duties to perform; they are taken to
fish and spear turtle: on these expeditions they
are sometimes absent, with the men, three weeks
or a month; and, on returning, they always divide






70 CUSTOMS OF
part of the spoil among their neighbours and
friends. The girls are early taught to accompany
their mothers to the provision grounds;-to carry
light burdens of wood, plantains, cassava and other
articles ;-to grind corn, wash and prepare cotton
and silk grass, and attend to other domestic offices.
They, equally with the boys, bathe frequently in
course of the day; but, from the age of six years,
at which time they are generally betrothed, these
ablutions are performed at a distance, under the
protection of their mothers, who after that period,
seldom allow their daughters to be out of their
sight, until marriage, which generally takes place
at the early age of ten or twelve years.
When a Valiente Indian considers himself af-
fronted, or injured, by one of his own tribe, he
deliberately sharpens his moscheat or cutlass; and,
taking a friend with him, goes to the house of his
adversary, whom he challenges to fair combat.
The challenge is frequently accepted on the spot,
fair play is allowed, and the duel never ends until
one, or sometimes both, are killed or disabled.
They display considerable dexterity in the use
of the cutlass, both in attack and defence ; and it
is rare to find a Valiente without the mark of deep
cuts on his body, and particularly about the head.
If the challenged party puts off the decision of
the quarrel to a future day, it is generally made
up, by the intervention of friends. Being called
out by one of these slashing gentlemen, I insist-
ed upon substituting rifle guns, a proposal which
he declared English fashion, no good and, by
the interference of friends, we settled our dispute
without bloodshed. Few of them can use fire-
arms with effect, but they are very expert with






THE VALIENTES. 71
the bow and arrow, and are good and dexterous
spearmen.
They are in general courageous, possess much
sense of honour, and continue to merit the appel-
lation given to them by their first discoverers, of
" Indios Bravos or Valientes. They are a
much taller race of people than those of San Bias;
and may, from their intercourse with European
and other traders, be considered more civilized than
most of the other tribes, inhabiting this part of
Terra Firma. Their avowed hatred to the Spa-
niards, and partiality to the English, as may
be seen from what has already been stated on
that subject, renders a temporary or perhaps per-
manent trading settlement amongst them per.
fectly secure; and, in point of honesty, they
are far superior to their neighbours the Mos-
quito men, to whose king they, however, pay a
sort of tribute, or acknowledgment, annually, which
they consider in the light of a gratuitous present
according to ancient custom, rather than a mark of
subjugation. On more than one occasion they have
refused to pay this tribute, and about fifty years
ago, when a dispute took place on the subject, the
Mosquito king's uncle, with the whole of the
chiefs, and people, who then accompanied him to
the number of about fifty men, fell a sacrifice to
their resentment.
No Sookeah man, or priest of any kind, resided
amongst them during the years I visited, or resid-
ed in, their country. Marriage, baptism, and other
ceremonies, commonly considered religious, were
performed by the elders of the settlement. They
are not, however, without ideas of a future state,
and an overruling Providence; and, to any wonder-






72 THE VALIENTES.
ful, or providential, escape from danger; or, um-
accountable preservation, they sometimes give the
name of God business. For instance, in one of
my excursions above the great falls, the Indians
inadvertently allowed the canoe to drift so near
to a tremendous precipice, that they had no chance
of paddling her out of danger. They instantly
leapt overboard and swam ashore. Being so com-
pletely taken by surprise, I saw no chance of
safety but by keeping in the canoe, which went
over the fall and was (lashed in pieces. When I
recovered my recollection, I found myself in the
water, by the side of a small island, a little dis-
tance beneath the fall, grasping firmly some bushes
that overhung the river. Some Indians on the
other side of the river, who had not seen the ac-
cident, conveyed me down to my own house.
Feeling sick from the shock I had received, I lay
down to recover myself. In the meantime my
companions in the canoe had gone home and re-
ported my death, in confirmation of which they
pointed out the splinters of the canoe floating past
the settlement. I had scarcely been an hour in
my hammock when old Jasper, and other head-
men, came to my house, lamenting my death, and
proposing to take an account of my effects, that
they might be taken care of for my relations, or
creditors. Nothing could equal their astonish-
ment when I sat up and asked them what they
were about to do ? By Robert a favourite
exclamation of the old chief, you no drown I "
then he added with a certain degree of reverential
awe, this is God business, Robert I only God
business !I "
They have also some faint ideas of disembodi-






THE VALIENTES. 46
ad spirits, and of another world, where they ex-
pect to find good hunting ground, with plenty of
game and provisions. I firmly believe that were
a steady sensible missionary, of liberal principles,
capable of making them a little acquainted with
the arts of Europe, to accompany any trader go-
ing to reside among them, by gradually overcoming
their prejudices, and pointing out the advantages
of civilization, religious observances, and certain
fixed laws, he might acquire influence, and do
much good.
Their houses are generally built near tlh banks
of a river, and are constructed as follows :-three or
sometimes four hardwood posts are driven into
the ground, at equal distances, the intended length
of the house, to these is secured the main beam or
roof-tree. Small posts are also driven, in like man-
ner, at each side, at intervals of ten or twelve feet;
long poles or rafters are then laid upon these from
the roof-tree and along the sides; the roof, thus
formed, is covered with a particular species of
palm, extremely durable, and the sides are finished
in a similar manner. Sometimes the roof is brought
down, at the sides of the house, to within five
feet of the ground, and the sides left entirely open,
without any wall to shelter the inmates from the
weather; in this case they sleep on what they call
crickeries, a kind of elevated platform, constructed
by four posts being driven into the ground at equal
distances, so as to form a square frame; a plank of
cedar wood is then cut into proper lengths, to form
the bottom. This sleeping place is generally large
enough to contain the husband and two or three
wives; and, when the family is numerous, several






74 THE VALIENTES.
of these bed-places are erected round the inside
of the house-on a level with the eaves, or lower
side of the roof. A notched log of wood, serves
for a ladder to mount to this couch,-as, without
any other instrument than the axe, only one board
can be cut out of a cedar tree; to form one of
those sleeping places is a work of great labour.
Their plantain walks are very extensive; and,
at Chrico Mola, extend several miles along the
banks of the river. These walks are never ex-
hausted, as on some parts of the Mosquito Shore,
where the soil is poor; on the contrary, a conti-
nual succession of suckers, or young plants, are
always found springing round the foot of the ori-
ginal plant; and, such is the luxuriance of their
growth, that they are frequently thinned, trans-
planted, or destroyed. Large quantities of cassa-
va and Indian corn are cultivated farther back;
but, for subsistence, they principally depend upon
the plantain, banana, and cassava. Their method
of preparing ground for a maize crop, is very sim-
ple; the person invites his neighbours to a chichee
drink, states his wish to clear a certain piece of
land, and requests their assistance. On the day
appointed every man comes with his axe or mos-
cheat, the trees and bushes are soon levelled, and
the grain is loosely scattered on the ground amongst
the fallen trees. This generally takes place a few
days before the commencement of the rainy sea-
son. The fallen branches screen the young shoots
from the heat of the sun, and in about five months
the grain, having overtopped this covering, is ready
for gathering; rather a troublesome business, the
grain being only reached by climbing over the
trunks, branches, and remains of the fallen trees.






THE SOUPA TREE. 75
When the grain has been collected, the wood,
which is by this time well dried, is set on fire;
and, assisted by the dry stalks of the maize, burns
so fiercely as to leave merely ashes, and the stumps
of the trees on the surface. By this simple plan,
the ground is considered sufficiently clear for every
agricultural purpose. The cocoa tree grows in
every banana or plantain walk; the soil on the
borders of the Chrico Mola, and other rivers
emptying themselves into Chiriqui Lagoon, being
particularly adapted to its growth; it comes to
perfection in not more than four or five years,
with very little trouble to the cultivators, who
raise it merely for their own consumption; al-
though, were they encouraged to raise it as an
article of commerce, an immense quantity, of ex-
cellent quality, might be produced on the banks
of all these rivers.
The soil about Chrico Mola, as has, in effect,
been stated, is exceedingly rich; it produces in
the greatest perfection almost all the fruits inci-
dent to South America; such as the mammee,
sapodilla, cocoa-nut, orange grape tree, locust,
soupa (which in season is preferred to the plan-
tain, banana, and cassava) ; and a variety of other
fruits of the most delicious and valuable descrip-
tion.
The soupa merits particular attention. It is
a species of palm; the trunk completely armed
with prickles or thorns, is from fifty to sixty feet
high: on the top, the leaves branch out similar to
those of the cocoa tree-they are pinnated-very
thin-undulated-and frizzled toward the points.
It bears several clusters of fruit, each cluster con-
taining from eighty to a hundred. They are first


~__ ___ ___ _I






76 MODE OF LIVING
green, then yellow like an apple, and grow red as
they ripen. They are the size of a hen's egg,
and sometimes without any kernel; the fruit is
farinacious, and an excellent substitute for bread
or vegetables. The wood of the tree is extreme-
ly hard, heavy, and close-grained; it is used for
bows, staves for striking turtle, and for spear
shafts. The stem is so pricldy that the fruit can
only be gathered by means of long bamboos, or
when it becomes so ripe as to fall from the tree.
The mode of living, of the Valientes, is upon
the whole comfortable: Nature has supplied them
abundantly with the necessaries of life : their plan-
tations are managed with very little labour, and
their woods contain abundance of game: their
rivers abound in the finest fish, and their Lagoons
are plentifully furnished with the richest turtle,
and other food for their support. Anciently the
common covering of these Indians was made of a
sort of tree bark, prepared by being some time
soaked in running water, and afterwards beaten
with a smooth heavy club into a consistence re-
sembling shamoy leather. This was formed into
a square piece, six or seven feet long, and about
five feet wide, with a hole cut in the centre to ad-
mit the head. Now, however, they are dressed
with greater decency, many of them put on even
a complete European suit; and I have seen their
traders, and head men, even well dressed, or, in
their own words, true English gentleman fa-
shion, and followed by numbers of their less for-
tunate countrymen, who had some favour to ask,
or were desirous of paying their court to the great
man, who, in the mean time was, perhaps, strut-






OF THE VALIENTES. 77
ting about with a silk umbrella over his head, to
protect him from the sun.
The wet season is not, with them, considered
an unhealthy period; on the contrary, it is one of
rest and enjoyment, during which, they form par-
ties for drinking weak preparations of cocoa, of
which they take immense quantities. Their me-
thod of preparing it is extremely simple, it being
merely bruized, or crushed, between two stones,
and ground to a consistence of paste, diluted with
warm water; and, in this state, passed round to
the company in calabashes containing each about
a quart: Some Indians drink eight or ten quarts at
a sitting, which induces a state of sleepy insensi-
bility. At these meetings, it is a favourite amuse-
ment to tell long stories, or make harangues, in a
singing monotonous tone of voice, to which all
listen without interrupting the speaker, however
improbable the story may be. I have frequently,
in my turn, endeavoured to give them an account
of some remarkable occurrence of my life, or some
idea of European power and attainments :-how-
ever incomprehensible and impossible some of these
things must have appeared to ignorant Indians,
they never offered the least interruption. When
a story was ended, some of the elders would per-
haps consider afew minutes, and, after looking round
to collect, as it were, the opinions of the company,
would gravely say lie Robert, lie,"-to which I
would answer, no lie, all true, English fashion,"
" but now," I would add, I am going to tell
you a lie story "-when they would with the great-
est good nature gather round, to hear Robert
tell story. "






78 SERPENT. REPTILES, &C.
Their chichee drinks are of a different descrip-
tion ; and, in some cases, that liquor, as well as a
sort of wine, made from the fruit of a species of
the palm tree, renders them outrageously intoxi-
cated. Such occurrences are, however, much more
rare amongst the Valientes and San Bias men,
than any other tribe of Indians with whom I am
acquainted ; and these drinking matches are only
given on some particular occasions, such as previ-
ous to setting off for the turtle fishing, gathering a
harvest of maize, ata wedding, or the birth of a child.
There may be many places, on the coast, better
situated for trade; but, for a healthy residence, or
permanent settlement of Europeans, I would pre-
fer Chrico Mola River to any other I have seen.
Domestic animals increase very fast when the
least care is taken of them ; a few hogs, which I
procured for breeding, as also a quantity of tame
fowls, increased so rapidly, that in the end I was
at a loss what to do with them until the month of
May, when the traders should arrive to take them,
and some cows and calves off my hands.
Mosquitoes, sand flies, and other insects, which
on the coast are so very troublesome and torment-
ing, are here scarcely known; and, during the
whole time of my residence, I slept without be-
ing under the necessity of using mosquito curtains.
Serpents or other poisonous reptiles are equally
rare, and it is still rarer that any injury is sustain-
ed from them. On one occasion, however, I had
a narrow escape from one of these creatures. I
had as usual been bathing one morning, and was
turning, to go up the bank, to my house, when
one of the Indians, coming down the river in a
canoe, pointed to some large, round, dark-colour-






CHIRIQUI LAGOON. 79
-ef stones, close to those on which my shirt and
trowsers had been laid a few minutes before, and
called Hai Robert, you see him, great serpent."
I, however, could perceive nothing of the kind:
The Indian begged me to keep back from the
place, go for my fowling-piece, and come into the
canoe. Paddling opposite to the place he pointed
out, I at last saw, coiled up among the stones, a
large dark-coloured serpent, with his head resting
in the centre of the circle, a little elevated, seeming-
ly asleep. Taking a proper distance, I shattered his
head to pieces with the contents of both barrels. He
was said to be of a species whose bite is mortal,
but I rather think he was of the dark- coloured boa
kind: lie was above twelve feet long, and the In-
dians affirmed that he must have crossed the river
from the opposite forest, as it is very rare that
they venture into the plantations.
As I frequently made excursions to Chiriqui
Lagoon, I can with certainty assure any navigator
who may visit it, that he will find it a safe and
noble harbour. It has three entrances, one from
the eastward round Valiente or Valencia Point;
the other, from the north-west, by the Sapadilla
kays; and a third by the Boco del Toro Lagoon.
The first and second entrances command a sufficient
draught of water for ships of the largest class ; and
the Lagoon is capable of containing the whole
British Navy secure from all winds. There are
several banks of soft white coral in the Lagoon,
but all distinctly visible when the sun shines; and
the water being, in general, perfectly smooth, a
vigilant look out is all the pilotage requisite. At
the eastern entrance is a small kay, opposite to
Paterson's Kay.






80 PROVISION ISLAND.
which, at the northern end of a sandy beach, and
not far from the entrance of the harbour, is a cas-
cade, falling from a rock of the height of about
five feet from the ground,-forming one of the
most convenient watering places, as a seventy-
four gun ship may lay close to it. It is superior
to water kay, which, together with Tigers' Island,
Provision Island, and many other places on this
coast, received its name from the old Buccaneers.
The entrance to the Boco del Toro Lagoon, or
Bahia del Amirante, from the north-west, is nar-
row, yet sufficient for a smart vessel to work in
or out; and, it has about three fathoms water in
the channel; the other entrance, from Provision
Island, is also a good channel, of considerable
depth; but the best entrances into Chiriqui La-
goon, are those from the eastward.
Provision Island has for several years been oc-
cupied by fishermen, from San Andres, and the
Corn Islands, who barter their tortoise-shell, and
other produce, with the annual traders.
I made many excursions to the various islands
and kays in these lagoons, and found plenty of
quams, curassowos, pigeons, monkeys, deer, and
a variety of other game on all of them. They al-
so produce vanilla, a valuable plant, to be here-
after noticed. On some of these islands there is
a small species of tiger, but they are not at all
dangerous; the climate is considered healthy,
the lagoons, notwithstanding the very heavy rains
during the season, being at all times open to the
sea breeze. Between Provision Island and a small
island opposite to it, their is a deep height, called
Nancy's Cove; completely sheltered from all winds,
and in which the water is always as smooth as in






THE BUCCANNIERS. 01
a millpond. From this place to the north-west
entrance of the port of Boco del Toro, is about
sixteen miles; and the whole length of both la-
goons cannot be less than ninety to a hundred
miles.
The Buccaneers and free traders, used, occasion-
ally, when afraid of an enemy, to conceal their
vessels, in these lagoons, by hauling them into
creeks, or intricate passages, under the overhang-
ing branches of the trees; and, then, by lowering
the topmasts, and fixing green boughs to the yards
and masts, so disguised their appearance, that it
was almost impossible even for the practised eye
of an Indian to discover the smallest indication of
a vessel.
Even when a discovery was made, no moderate
force dared venture to attack an enemy, who, un-
der cover of the bushes, and assisted by their In-
dian allies, could beat off their assailants without
exposing themselves to a single well aimed shot.
The banks of many of the rivers falling into
these lagoons, are now totally destitute of inhabi-
tants; although, at one period, the country con-
tained a numerous population consisting of various
tribes, some of them, from the apparent remains
of their ancient settlements, of considerable an-
tiquity. The Chilibees, the Tirribees, and Blan-
cos, were once numerous; but in consequence of
their wars, and the introduction of European dis-
eases, they are now almost extinct. Of the once
numerous tribe of Chilibees, who possessed t! e
borders of Boco del Toro Lagoon, not more than
three families are left at that place; and the Tir-
ribees, and Blancos, are falling off in like manner,
their country being now very thinly inhabited.





82 DEPARTURE FROM CHRICO MOLA.
The Valientes however seem to hold their ground
and have.concentrated themselves principally about
Chrico Mola, the rivers Coco, Beling-(or Beth-
elem of the Spaniards)-and some other streams
the sources of which are very little known.
By the time the traders returned the season af-
ter I settled at Chrico Mola, the produce of my
exertions was upwards of nine thousand pounds
weight of good sarsaparilla, besides cocoa, and a
considerable quantity of tortoise shell, and other
valuable produce. My reasons for finally leaving
that station will be hereafter explained; and should
any new trader shortly visit that part of the world,
I can recommend my friend, the native trader,
Whykee Tarra, to him, as a faithful and honest
assistant.


















CHAPTER IV. (

RIO DEL ORO-GOLD MINE-RIVER BELEM-
LEAVE CHIRIQUI AND BOCO DEL TORO-TIRIBEE
INDIANS-BLANCOS-TRADE AT SALT CREEK
-MATINA --CARTAGO DREADFUL EARTH-
QUAKE-TURTLE BIGHT-NATURAL HISTORY
-RIO COLORADO-RIVER AND HARBOUR OB
SAN JUAN-INDIAN RIVER-VANILLA PLANT
--RAMA INDIANS AND RIVER-BLUEFIELDS
LAGOON-FORMER ENGLISH SETTLEMENTS-
BLUEFIELDS RIVER--COOKRA AND WOOLWA
INDIANS.

DURING one of the turtle fishing seasons, I fitted
out a large canoe; loaded her with goods to the
value of about three hundred pounds, and, taking
two stout lads to assist me, I visited several places
on the coast of the Province of Veragua; calling
at Cocoa Plum Point, and the small island Escuda
Veragua off the river of that name,-both places
much frequented for turtle. From thence I went
over to the entrance of the Rio del Oro, the last
Spanish settlement on the coast in the above named
province, where I found a party of four people
stationed for the purpose of apprising the Spanish






84 GOLD MINE.
merchants at La Concepcion, a town in the inte-
rior, of the arrival of any trading vessel on the
coast. Here, also, I met with two Spanish cre-
oles, from whom I procured, in payment of goods,
several ounces of gold dust. These people rather
hurriedly left me, under pretence of going up the
river to a gold mine, for the purpose of bringing
down more dust, with some of their companions,
who, as they said, wrought at the mine four (lays
in the week, for their employer, and the remaining
two days for their own benefit;-but, being too
weak to protect myself, against any body of men,
however small, and suspecting treachery, I con-
sidered it imprudent to wait their return.
The information I then and subsequently, ob-
tained, was, that this valuable mine had, some time
ago, been discovered, about thirty miles up the
river; and that the patriot commanders at Old
Providence, hearing that its proprietor, Don Juan
Lopez, occasionally sold gold to the Jamaica and
other traders, to the amount of three or four thou-
sand dollars at one time, determined upon plun-
dering him, and sent a vessel for the purpose,
from that island.
Lopez got notice of their approach in time to
escape, with his people and treasure, into the
woods. These patriots, or pirates, abandoned the
place after murdering, in cold blood, a faithful old
negro who had given the alarm, and this attempt
so frightened the Spaniards, that the workmen de-
serted, and the mine was some time abandoned.
Lopez had since procured fresh workmen from Pa-
nama; and at the time of my visit to the coast,
the mine was again wrought, although in a very
bungling manner. The fellows from whom I pro-






RIVER BELEM. 85
cured the gold dust were without shirts or breeches;
their only clothing was -a piece of blue cotton
cloth, in which the gold was concealed, round their
loins.
It is doubtful whether the former Spanish au-
thorities knew any thing of the situation of this
mine; which, in its present unprotected state can,
at any time, be plundered by the Valiente In-
dians, or even by the crew of any common pirati-
cal vessel.
At the river Belen, or Belem, where, in the
year fifteen hundred and two, Columbus was pre-
vented, by the outrageous opposition of the natives
and the turbulent disposition of his followers, from
fixing a colony,-I procured tortoise-shell from
two Spaniards, who with their wives and families
were residing there.
The river is large, and wide at its entrance;
but being open to the north-west, it is barred up
with more than four feet water at its mouth. The
country, on each side of the river, appeared to be
very fertile, and abounding in provisions, and o-
ther natural products of the soil. From thence I
proceeded to Coclee, a river of a similar descrip-
tion, where I found a guard of Spaniards, who,
after having bartered the tortoise-shell which they
had collected, paid for the remainder of my goods
in cash. These people always appeared glad to
see me, and pressed me to renew my visits, and
continue to trade with them.
The whole of the coast, from Chiriqui to Cha-
gre, is destitute of harbours for large vessels, the
mouths of the rivers being completely exposed to
the heavy seas which roll in from the north, north-
c 3






86 THE TIRIBEES.
west, and north-east, are completely barred up;
and, having only a very few feet water at their en-
trances, they are totally unfit for navigation.
This short trip was a very profitable one, and
only occupied three or four days. As I could
have disposed of double the quantity of goods, I
was encouraged to undertake similar voyages, in
larger canoes, and on a regular plan, along the
whole coast of the Mosquito Shore; and, for the
purpose of procuring such canoes, I embraced the
opportunity of accompanying a trader returning
along that coast in a convenient vessel.
After leaving Boco del Toro, .we visited the
principal river of the Tiribees, a tribe of Indians
who, at the instigation of the Mosquito king, are
constantly at war with the Blancas and Talaman-
cas, tribes in the interior, whom they hunt like
wild beasts, and no emotions of pity prompt them
to spare the aged of either sex: the young only
are saved, and sold as slaves to the principal;chiefs
of the Mosquito nation. These Tiribees inhabit
the country from the entrance of Boco del Toro
Lagoon, to the river Banana; a small bay to the
northward of which may be considered the boun-
dary between them, and the two tribes above men-
tioned. These Blancas and Talamancas frequent
the coast from thence to Salt Creek, for the pur-
poses of hunting and fishing during the season, but
have no permanent habitations on the shore.
The Tiribees are, as yet, far behind the Valien-
tes and San Blas men, in point of civilization;
but notwithstanding the inhuman, and selfish
policy of the Mosquito men, in encouraging their
savage habits, they manifest a strong disposition to.
follow the example of the more civilized Indians






THE TIRIBEES. '1
who have intercourse with the British. It is only
of late years that they have been drawn from their
native mountains, by the example of the success-
ful industry of the Valientes and others, to watch
the bays for turtle, and collect sarsaparilla for the
purposes of traffic. They are for the most part
entirely in a state of nature, except some of the
old people, who clothe themselves with the bark
cloth formerly described, or the spathes of a par-
ticular species of palm-tree. They preserve, as
trophies, and decorate their huts, with the skulls of
their enemies; and every Tiribee who has van-
quished a foe, perforates the centre of the under
lip with a peculiar sort of white thorn, or fish
bone about the size of a pin, adding a fresh one
for every enemy they put to death; and I have
seen some of the chief men with twenty, or thirty
of these pins, their lips presenting the appearance
of an inverted comb. They pressed me much to
remain among them, and stated that their country
abounded in vanilloes and sarsaparilla, of which,
they offered to collect any quantity I might re-
quire.
If the baneful influence exercised by the Mos-
quito chiefs over these poor people was put an end
to, it would add to the general happiness of them-
selves and the neighboring tribes; and would
tend greatly to their advancement in civilization.
The hatred which all these Indians bear to the
Spaniards, has prevented the Roman Catholic
missionaries from penetrating their country; but
I feel convinced that zealous and sensible mis-
sionaries, from England, would here find an am-
ple field for their exertions, in a delightful coun-
try, among people who manifest the strongest de-






N5 THE BLANCOS.
sire to promote an intercourse with the British.
It is to be hoped that when these Indians become
better known, their wants and desires will be at-
tended to by those who have at heart the welfare
of the human race.
From the Tiribee River to Monkey Point (Pun-
ta Chica) the last headland in the province of
of Veragua, the distance ii not more than eight
or ten miles; it is easily known by a remarkably
bluff rocky islet, distant only a few yards from the
Mainland, from which it has the appearance of
having been separated by some convulsion of na-
ture. The islet itself is perforated in a remark-
able manner through the middle in the shape of a
high imperfect arch, under which there is room
for a large boat to pass. A few people from the
Corn Islands, under the direction of a Mr Forbes,
have been induced to settle here: they live on
friendly terms with the Tiribees, whose country
is fertile, and as the coast is excellent for turtleing,
it is to be hoped that, in many respects, they may
do much good in civilizing the tribes in the neigh-
uring country.
The Rio Culebras, or Snake River, is consider-
ed the boundary between the province of Veragua,
and Costa Rica;-and, to the northward of this
river, the Blancas, who are believed to be the fair-
est Indians in South America, sometimes repair,
in large parties, for the purposes of hunting and
fishing. They are a mild race, extremely shy, and
obliged to be constantly on their guard against
their enemies, the Tiribees and others, who on
one occasion, when I was at Chiriqui Lagoon, fit-
ted out, at the instigation of the Mosquito Admi-
ral, ten large canoes on a kidnapping expedition





SALT CREEK. 0u
against them; but, after being absent several weeks,
they returned, fortunately without having made a
single captive.
Having on our passage kept close to the shore,
we saw a party of these Blancos, who had con-
structed a hut on the sandy bay between Snake
River and Grape Kay. We pulled through the
surf, and landed opposite to their hut; but, the
instant we were perceived, they fled into the
woods; leaving a considerable quantity of dried
warree, peccary, and turtle meat, with which we
did not interfere. I left a few beads, looking-
glasses, fish-hooks, and other trifles-which, to
them, would appear valuable-in a conspicuous
part of the hut.
Between Matina and Monkey Point, the coun-
try, which is thinly inhabited, presents a beautiful
appearance of hill and vale, well watered, but des-
titute of good harbours and headlands. The fol-
lowing are the names of rivers and places in this
tract, viz. Rio Quemado, Point Caneta, De las
Doraces, De Dios, Banana, Blanco Point, San An-
tonio, Lime Bight, Grape Kay, Salt Creek, and
the small open roadstead of El Portete. The Blan-
cos are said to have admitted Roman Catholic mis-
sionaries among them, who are supposed to pre-
vent any intercourse with the traders; and to have
assisted in bringing upon these Indians, the enmity
of their neighbours, who hate the Spanish name.
Salt Creek is about twelve miles from Matina,
which, with the small harbour of El Portete, may
be called the sea-port of Cartago; the bay oppo-
site to Matina River being nothing more than a
wild open roadstead, where it is almost impossible
G2





90 CARTAGO.
to land in an European boat: Salt Creek may be
distinguished by several small islands lying off the
point of land at the south end of the bay, from
which it is not more than five or six miles distant.
This is the principal resort of the contraband tra-
ders, when their cargoes cannot be landed at Ma-
tina River. That river has its source more than
eighty miles in the interior; and it is joined, at
about thirty miles from its mouth, by a tributary
river, where the Spaniards have a fort, named Cas-
tillo de Austria; from whence, for about eight
leagues, there is a road to an Embarcadero, or car-
rying place, about twelve miles from Salt Creek.
The Americans from the United States, have re-
gularly, but secretly, visited this port every sea-
son for the last ten years;-one house in New
York annually sends three or four fast sailing
schooners to their agent, a Mr Smith, at Salt
Creek, who disposed of the cargo, and collects the
proceeds, during the time schooners are running
down the coast, trading with the Indians for tor-
toise-shell, copal and other gums, sarsaparilla, tas-
sao, &c. This business is extremely lucrative to
the Americans; who are enabled to dispose of a
considerable quantity of Indian goods at such prices,
as prevent the Jamaica traders from effectually
competing with them.*
The city of Cartago is the capital of the pro-
vince of Costa Rica; its estimated population, in
1823, was thirty-seven thousand, seven hundred
apd sixteen souls; but, about two years after that
period, it was nearly destroyed by a tremendous
earthquake, which shook the whole Isthmus of
A list of goods adapted to this trade, and that of the
whole coast, will be found in the Appendix.






EARTHQUAKE. 91
Darien. On the night that this event took place,
I was in an Indian house at Monkey Point, and
had an opportunity of witnessing its effect on that
part of the coast. About the middle of the night
in question, I found the frame of the wicker bed-
stead on which I slept, shaken with very great vio-
lence ; supposing that it was either my companion
(one of the traders), or some of my Indian friends
who wished to frighten, or awaken me suddenly,
I rather angrily demanded, whether they meant to
shake me to pieces ? In a few seconds, however,
the screams of the women, and the cries of the
men, in the adjoining huts; together with the
rolling motion of the earth, which was twisting
the hut in all directions, put an end to my suspense.
I instantly ran out of the place to the open air;
and, although scarcely able to keep upon my feet
from the rolling and trembling motions of the earth,
I observed such a scene as will never to the last
hour of my existence be erased from my memory.
The ground under our feet seemed to heave con-
vulsively, as if ready to open and swallow us, pro-
ducing a low terrific sound; the trees, within a
short distance of the huts, were so violently shaken
from their upright position, that their branches
were crashing, and their trunks grinding against
each other, with a groaning sound; the domestic
fowls, the parrots, macaws, pigeons, and other
birds, were flying about and against each other,
in amazement, screaming in their loudest and
harshest tones: the shrieks of the monkeys, and
the cowlings of the beasts of the forest, which
seemed as if approaching near us for protection,
were mingled with the cries of the terrified In-
dia4s, and their domestic animals, every'living






92 EARTHQUAKE.
creature seeming to be overwhelmed with dismay.
Although I had often contended with hurricanes,
and storms at seaj I was utterly confounded by
this unnatural scene, and it was some moments
before I could rally my faculties sufficiently to
think what should be done for my own preserva-
tion :-considering that the greatest danger would
be in the event of the sea rising so high as to
sweep the beach, I hastily roused my stupified
companion; and, hurrying to our small vessel got
her shoved off from the shore,-considering that
she, at all events, would likely keep afloat; and
we awaited the result, with fear and trembling.
The shocks gradually became less violent; and,
towards daybreak, had entirely subsided. No
lives were lost here, or at the other Indian settle-
ments, in the neighbourhood, but the ground ap-
peared rent in various places, the sand on the
beach was either raised in ridges, or depressed in
furrows; a place, which in the evening had been
a small lagoon, or pond, in which several canoes
were floating, was now become quite dry; most of
the huts were violently cracked and twisted; and
the effects, of the earthquake, were everywhere
visible. The Mosquito men, who were at this
season on the coast, were so terrified, and over-
whelmed with superstitious dread, that they aban-
doned the turtle fishery, and returned home before
the season was half finished. *

The only persons in the neighbourhood not frighten-
ed by this event, were a trader, and some of his Indian
friends, who were so intoxicated at the time it happened,
that, until next morning, they were not aware that any
extraordinary occurrence had taken place. They had a
confused recollection that a puncheon of rum, which was






TURTLE BIGHT. 93
The mountain of Cartago is an active volcano,
situated far back in the interior; it frequently
emits fire and smoke, and is an excellent land-
mark to navigators-being seen, in sailing along
the coast, at an immense distance.
From Matina, in proceeding along the shore, wo
meet with the two rivers Vasquez, and Azuelos;
and to the northward of these, the Boca de la
Portuga, or Turtle Bight:-at this place hundreds
of the finest turtle are killed annually, merely for
the sake of their manteca or fat, which is melted
into oil, and used by the Indians, and others on
the Mosquito Shore, as a substitute for butter.
Most of -the fishermen on their return from the
southwards towards home, stop at this place for
the purpose of procuring this oil, and turtles eggs;
which latter are dried in the sun to preserve them:
-and in this way many thousands of turtle are
annually destroyed or prevented from coming to
maturity.
During the months of April, May, June and
July, the green turtle comes from various kays,
and plates a great many leagues distant, to several
parts of the Mosquito Shore, especially to the sandy
beaches in the vicinity of Turtle Bogue, to deposit
their eggs. At this season, the sea is covered
with what the fishermen call thimbles-a small
blubber fish, in shape not unlike a tailor's thim-
ble; these, and a peculiar sort of grass growing at
the bottom of the sea, is their principal food. It
is to be observed that the turtle have large lungs,
in the hut, could not be kept from rolling on the floor;
but whether some person was trying to steal it from them,
or it was endeavouring to run away of its own accord,
they could not, at the time, determine.






94 TURTLE BIGHT.
and cannot go deeper in the water than five or six
fathoms, being obliged to come frequently to the
surface, for the purpose of blowing, as all fish do
that have lungs. The male and female remain
together about nine days, during which time the
female feeds, and keeps in good condition; but,
when they separate, the male is totally exhausted,
worthless, and unfit for use as food. Sometime
after this season, the female crawls up the sandy
beaches, and prepares to lay her eggs; she makes
a circle in the sand until it is fully prepared ; she
then digs a hole, about two feet deep, in which
she deposits from sixty to eighty, covers them up,
and goes off, generally before daybreak; about
the fifteenth night afterwards, she returns, and de-
posits a similar number, near the same spot. The
young turtle come out of the shell in about thirty-
two days, and immediately make their way into the
sea. Both the hawksbill and loggerhead turtle
keep the same season; but, if a trunk turtle, a
species of immense size, and exceedingly fat, is
found dead on the beach, neither of them will lay
their eggs within a mile of the place, for which
reason that kind is never molested.
The handle of the spear with which the Indians
strike the turtle, is made of very hard wood; the
head is a triangular-shaped piece of notched iron,
with a sharp point; a piece of iron is joined to
this which slips into a groove at the top of the
spear handle, and has a line attached to it which
runs through eyes fixed, for that purpose, to the
shaft of the spear to which a float is fastened. The
Indians, when near enough to strike the turtle,
'raises the spear above his shoulder, and throws it,
in such a manner, that it takes a circular direction






BLACK TIGER. 95
in the air, and lights, with its point downwards,
on the back of the animal, penetrating through
the shell, and the point becoming detached from
the handle, remains firmly fastened in the creature's
body; the float now shows on the surface of the
water which way the turtle has gone; and he is
easily hunted up, and secured, by means of the
line, which has remained attached to the spear
head.
The turtle has many other enemies which de-
stroy both itself and its eggs ;-such as the racoon,
squash, fox, &c. The congar or American lion,
and a species of black tiger, will also watch the
turtle when coming to deposit its eggs, seize and
haul it into the bush, and there, notwithstanding
the coat of mail with which it is furnished by na-
ture-destroy it at leisure.
I may here remark, that in the course of my
excursions in the woods, on various parts of the
coast I have met with these beasts of prey, and
have also seen them at a distance, but they never
showed any disposition to attack me. When
they did stand at gaze for a minute or two, it
appeared more the effect of surprise than of a
desire to spring forward or approach me; and the
levelling of my rifle, or a flourish with my cutlass
or moscheat, invariably made them steal off. On
one occasion an acquaintance had, however, nearly
fallen a sacrifice to one of these animals :-he was
with a friend watching turtle near the beach, but
having in the dusk of the evening retired for a few
seconds into the bush, a very large tiger, of the
black species, approached, unnoticed, to within a
very few yards ; fortunately the man's friend disco-
vered the glaring eyes of the animal, and knowing the





96 RIO COLORADO.
unguarded position of the other, fired his piece at the
animal, which sprung immediately into the bushes.
Next morning they traced him by the marks of
blood which he had left; and they found him dead
in his lair, with one turtle half devoured, and the
shells of another one lying beside him.
Pursuing our voyage from Turtle Bogue, we
come to the Rio Colorado. Its entrance is wide,
but there is too little water on the bar to admit
ships of any size, otherwise there would be suffi-
cient depth for that purpose inside. It takes its
name from the muddiness of its waters, which dis-
colour the ocean to a considerable distance; and,
in the rainy season, they may be obtained fresh a
long way out at sea. Its entrance may be easily
found on the coast, by this discoloration, and by
extensive green savannahs on its south bank.
A communication between it, and the great
river de San Juan, (running out of the lake of
Nicaragua,) takes place at a distance of about
thirtymiles from its mouth, bythe branch Serapigni.
Its course in the interior is nearly parallel to the
River San Juan, and is said to be joined by many
streams having their sources in the mountains to
the southward of the lake of Nicaragua. It enters
the ocean about ten miles from the harbour of San
Juan; but, in most charts, it is erroneously laid
down at a much greater distance to the south-
ward.
The next harbour, viz. that of San Juan de Ni-
caragua, is unquestionably the best for ships of
war, or large vessels, on the whole range of coast
between the Boco del Toro, and Cape Gracias
a Dios-to which latter it is also superior in not
being exposed to southerly winds. There is a






THE MANATEE. 97
sufficient depth of water, and room, at the upper
part, for fifteen or twenty sail of vessels of the
largest class, besides smaller vessels; which, when
there, would be completely land-locked.
Many of the fishermen, Indians and others, on
their return from the southern fishing grounds,
call in this neighbourhood, for the purpose of tak-
ing manatees, which are very plenty in the river,
and in a creek at the upper end of the harbour.
Hundreds of these fishermen remain to cure the
meat, on the low sandy point, at the entrance of
the harbour, without being molested by the Spa-
niards. This singular creature may be consider-
ed the connecting link between quadrupeds and
fishes; it retains the fore-feet, or rather hands, of
the former, with the tail of the latter-spreading
out in a horizontal direction like a large fan. Be-
neath the skin, which is uncommonly hard and
thick, there is a deep layer of very sweet fat. The
meat in its thickest parts, has the singular pro-
perty of being streaked throughout with alternate
layers of fat and lean, being most excellent food.
Persons subject to be afflicted with scorbutic, or
scrofulous complaints, find speedy relief; by using
it freely, their blood is said to become purified,
and the virulence of the complaint is thrown to the
surface of the body, and quickly disappears. The
manatee is extremely acute in its sense of hearing,
and immerges itself in the water on the slightest
noise; it feeds on long shoots of tender grass
growing on the banks of the rivers, and will rise
nearly two-thirds of its length out of the water to
reach its food; it is found only in the most soli-
tary, and least frequented creeks, and rivers; the






Ub RIO TRIGO.
male and female are generally together; their com-
mon length is from eight to twelve feet, and it
weighs from five to eight hundred pounds weight:
some of them are however much larger, weighing
from twelve even to fifteen hundred weight. The
Indians generally steal upon them early in the
morning when they are feeding, and kill them with
a harpoon; but, if the least noise is made in ap-
proaching, they immediately sink, and escape.
From the Rio de San Juan to Point de Gordo,
a distance of between thirty and forty miles, the
coast forms a large bay, into which flows the Rio
Trigo, (Corn River), Indian River, and several
smaller streams, some of which, in most of the
charts of Jefferies, Lawrie, and Arrowsmith, are
erroneously laid down as having communication,
in the interior, with the River San Juan; for, al-
though I have heard it reported on the coast that
such a communication by Indian River does ex-
ist,-I never could trace the report to any au-
thentic source; neither in the passage up and
down the Rio San Juan, could I discover such a
communication. Between Corn River and Point de
. Gordo, is Grindstone Bay, with anchorage in from
four to five fathoms water. At a short distance
from the coast the country here rises considerably;
and, from the neighbourhood of San Juan to Blue-
fields, it is occupied by the Rama Indians, whose
principal settlement is at Rama River, or Rio de
Punta Gorda, a noble stream, which is said to
have a course of about eighty miles, or upwards,
from the interior, through a fertile country, and
passing between two mountainous ridges at a
short distance from the sea-shore. Its mouth
may be known by a remarkably high, round, bar-






VANILLA. 99
ten islet, laying about four miles distant off its
entrance. The bay is shallow, but there is good
anchorage under the lee side of Monkey Point,
about four miles farther to the northward, a place
which may be distinguished by its having several
small islands and kays in its vicinity.
The country from San Juan River to this point
abounds in vanilla of the finest quality. This
plant limbs with ease to the top of the highest
tree. At a distance the leaves slightly resemble
those of the vine; the flowers are of a white
colour, intermixed with red and yellow, when
these fall off, they are quickly succeeded by the
pods, growing in bunches not unlike the plantain,
and generally of the thickness of a child's finger.
The pods are green at first, grow yellow, and
finally brown; the method used to preserve the
fruit, is to gather it when yellow, before the pods
begin to open or burst *-it is then laid in small
heaps for the space of three or four days to fer-
ment. The fruit is afterwards spread in the sun
to dry; and when about half dried, flattened with
the hand, and rubbed over with cocoa, palm, or'
other oil-:-it is once more exposed to the sun, to
be fully dried, rubbed over with oil a second time,
put in small parcels, and closely covered over
with the dried leaves of the plantain or Indian
reed. Care is taken not to allow the pods to re-
main upon the stalks too long before they are
pulled, as, in that case, they transude a black
fragrant balsam, which carries off both the smell
and delicate flavour for which alone they are
valued. The vanilla plant is also found on most

SVanilla aromatica (Epidendrum vanilla of Linn.)






100 RAMA INDIANS.
parts of the Mosquito Shore, and in the neigh-
bourhood of Breo del Rerd and Chiriqui Lagoons;
it requires heat, moisture, and shade, to bring it to
perfection, and when used in that state it gives a
most delicious flavour to coffee, chocolate, &c.,
forming an important article of commerce, espe-
cially among the Spaniards. In the neighbour-
hood of the Lagoons and places last mentioned, a
very fragrant bean, resembling, if not in reality, the
true Tonquin bean, is also found. *
The Rama Indians were formerly numerous,
but, at present, do not exceed five hundred; they
are under subjection to the Mosquito King, to
S whom they pay an annual tax in tortoise-shell,
canoes, hammocks, and cotton lines. The Ramas
are considered mild, and inoffensive; they have
little intercourse with other Indians; and, during
the fishing season, seldom go to the southward of
Matina; they are more expert in the management
of canoes and other boats, than the Mosquito men,
and will' effect a landing in their barks, where the
best European boats would meet certain destruc-
tion: their canoes and dories, are much broader,
and shallower, than those generally used on the
coast; they are also much more buoyant, and bet-
ter adapted for landing in a heavy surf, or for
crossing the bars of rivers. The Ramas, when
engaged by the English settlers, have always
proved very faithful servants. The source of the
Rama River, is unknown to the settlers at Blue-
fields; but some of them have examined it for sixty

We have been assured that the bean alluded to is the
true Baryosmo Tonga of Gtartner-possessing the same
flavour and other qualities as that brought from the East.-
jEdit.




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