History of the Republic of Guyana

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Reports and Letters of Sir Robert Hermann Schomburgk with reference to his
Surveys of the Boundaries of British Guiana.

No. 1: Report of Robert H. Schomburgk on the Surveys of the Boundary Commission.
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River Manari, a tributary of the Barima, June 22, 1841.

Sir,

In conformance with the plan which I had the honour to place before your Excellency, and which received your Excellency's approbation, the Boundary Expedition under my command, composed of the individuals mentioned in the accompanying document, left Georgetown on the afternoon of the 19th of April in the schooner "Home", which had been chartered for the purpose of conveying us to the Waini, or Guainia. After a stormy passage, which the vessel and her crew appeared to be but ill calculated to meet, we arrived in the afternoon of the 21st of April at the mouth of the Waini, where I resolved on disembarking our baggage, and selected a bank composed of sand and shells, heaved up by the sea, as the site of our camp. With the exception of some of our provisions, which were damaged, all our other baggage was disembarked in good order.

I resolved on remaining at the mouth of the Waini a sufficient length of time to enable me to fix the geographical situation of that point with some precision, and also for the purpose of ascertaining to what extent the entrance of the river was navigable. I accordingly commenced a survey, and, with the assistance of Mr. Glascott, completed it by the 31st [sic] of April. I have the honour to send herewith, for transmission to the Right Honourable Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies, a copy of the original survey. It will be observed that, although shallows and sandbanks do not qualify that river as a resort for larger vessels, nevertheless if, at a future period, that part of British Guiana should become of importance, it may serve for vessels of smaller size, as during high water it affords a navigable channel of from twelve to eighteen feet at the bar, and a greater depth in the basin. It labours, however, like all tidal rivers along this coast, under the disadvantage that fresh water can only be procured within the distance that can be made in a boat with one-tide in its favour. During our sojourn at the shell-bank I had to send a boat's crew to the River Aruka, a tributary of the Barima, in order to procure drinkable water, which was connected with the delay of a day and a half. The scarcity of water induced me to despatch, on the 27th of April, part of our expedition who were not indispensable for the survey to Cumaka, a settlement of Warrau Indians on the banks of the Aruka; and Mr. King, the Superintendent of Rivers and Creeks, kindly took upon himself to command them. The remainder of the party followed on the 1st May, after the survey had been completed. On the 28th of April we received the visit of a Warrau chieftain from the Canyaballi, a tributary of the Waini, and about two days' journey from its mouth, who, having heard of our arrival, came with part of his men and appeared rejoiced that at last it should be decided whether the Waini was in the British or in the Venezuelan territory, as at present they did not consider themselves secure against being carried away by the Venezuelans, and forced to work at low wages at Angostura, or in other parts of the Venezuelan territory. The Captain is known among the colonists of this part under the name of Sam Peter, and appeared a very intelligent old man. During the interval the weather had changed, and it became now apparent that the short rainy season had set in. We ascended the Waini to the remarkable passage which connects that river with the Barima, and, although not navigable for sailing vessels, affords a ready communication in boats and canoes between the two rivers. This natural channel, which may be compared in some respects to the Cassiquiare, which connects the Upper Orinoco with the Rio Negro, is known in the colony under the name of the Mora Creek. The Warrau Indians, who inhabit these rivers, call it Mora-wan. Where we entered it from the Waini, l estimated its width one hundred and ten feet, and near the entrance we found a depth of sixteen feet.

During the flow of tide, the current sets from the Waini to the Barima and with such a velocity that the steersman has to use precautions not to be swept against trees which in one or two places obstruct the bed of the river, and which become the more dangerous since the passage is so very winding: for this reason, though the depth would permit vessels of six to eight feet draught to navigate the Mora, its numerous windings and rapid tide render it only fit for boats and canoes. The ebb tide sweeps with equal velocity through this natural channel, from the Barima to the Waini. The Barima offered, where we entered it from the Mora, the sight of a much larger river than l would have expected it to be. I estimated its breadth 700 feet; its water, still subjected to the influence of the tides, was of a dark colour, and its depth from 18 to 24 feet. About five miles distant from the Mora flows the River Aruka into the Barima on its left bank. Before the conjunction the two rivers are nearly of equal breadth, namely about 400 feet. The Aruka has, however, yellowish muddy water. A few houses, inhabited by Warrau Indians, are within a short distance of the confluence of the Aruka with the Barima. They, with others who inhabit the lower Aruka, acknowledge a Warrau by the name of William as their chieftain, who resides at the small brook Atopani. We followed Mr. King to the Warrau settlement Cumaka, within a short distance of Atopani, where we landed in the evening and found a large assemblage of Warraus with their Chieftain William, all of whom confessed that they had always considered themselves under British protection; and, as proof thereof, the chieftain bore one of the sticks which are given as a badge of chieftainship by the authorities of British Guiana, and which he is said to have received as early as seven years ago.

The Indians assembled offered a distressing sight of suffering under ophthalmia. My former travels have made me acquainted with numerous tribes who inhabit British Guiana or the adjacent territories, and though that disease is by no means unusual among them, I nowhere saw it as frightfully exhibited as here, where at least 50 percent of the inhabitants are suffering under the disease; or, in consequence of it, have their eyesight impaired. I ascribe it to their inhabiting the low marshy grounds, where it appears they are more subjected to colds than in the open savannah or on the high mountains, and to inexcusable neglect.

Cumaka is situated on rising ground. These hillocks, which are the first high ground from the sea inland, form a small chain that extends in a western direction; they are composed of indurated clay, highly ochreous; and, to judge from their vegetation, and the provision grounds of the Indians on their declivities, I consider the soil fertile. It is only here that the vegetation on the banks of the rivers commences to change. Hitherto it consisted of Curida and Mangrove trees, and numerous Truli and Manicole palms; but when we had reached the rising ground, we observed noble forest trees, as per example the Crabnut tree, useful for building materials, Locust, Curahara, Siruaballia, Souari, and others.

From the Curahara the Warraus prepare canoes and corials, and from the size of these I judge of the height of the trees from which they are made.

Several of the crew were indisposed, and the first coxswain dangerously ill. It was, therefore, necessary to make a stay of some days at Cumaka to restore the health of those who suffered. The skill and usefulness of Mr. Echlin, who accompanied the expedition as artist, but who by his study and experience on attending the colonial hospitals, possesses medical knowledge, were therefore in constant requisition. I employed the interval to determine the geographical situation of Cumaka, as a point in the interior on which to rest our pending operations, and to calculate and draw the plan of the River Waini. A native Warrau, who spoke somewhat of the English language, was engaged as interpreter, and through him we gave the Indians who continued to visit us plainly to understand that it was the wish of Her Majesty's Government to afford every protection to those who inhabited the regions within the limits of British Guiana, and that the object of our present expedition was to ascertain how far Her Britannic Majesty had the right to claim these parts. Many of these Indians had to relate acts of cruelty committed by the Venezuelans and in some instances they accused their persecutors even of murder.

I resolved, as soon as the general health of my crew was restored, to proceed to the mouth of the Barima for the purpose of examining that part of the river, and to plant a boundary post at its eastern point as a testimonial of Her Majesty's right of possession, and another at the western point of the River Amacura, as a testimonial of Her Majesty's claim to the right bank of that river, as the western limit of Her colony of British Guiana. I engaged six Warrau Indians under the command of the chieftain's son, to accompany us, and we set out on our journey on the 10th of May; and having paddled through the greater part of the night, we landed the following day at the mouth of the Barima, where we encamped not far from Point Barima an the river's right bank. The survey of the river was commenced on the 12th, and after having inspected the localities in the neighbourhood, I fixed upon a small sandy bay at a short distance south from Point Barima to plant the first post. This took place on the 13th of May with such ceremony as circumstances would permit. From thence we proceeded to the River Amacura, where we planted on the same day a post as a testimonial of Her Majesty's claim to its right bank as the boundary of British Guiana. The two original documents which accompany this will serve as an attestation of our proceedings. We took the liberty to name the point of the Amacura, where the post was planted, after Her Most Gracious Majesty, Point Victoria

The situation of the River Barima, near its mouth, offered various difficulties to fix on a base-line for its survey. I resolved, therefore, to determine the respective distances of some of its chief points from each other by intervals noted by chronometer between the flashes and reports of guns fired from three stations. Mr. Superintendent King offered his services to the Assistant-Surveyor, Mr. Glascott, in firing the guns on the 18th of May, when, I am sorry to say, he experienced much temporary injury by the explosion of one of them. I was at first apprehensive for his sight; but am now happy that my fears on that score are entirely removed. Our survey of the Barima was finished by the 19th of May; and I have the pleasure to send herewith for Your Excellency's transmission to Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies, a copy of the original plan.

It will become evident by an inspection of this plan that the Barima near its mouth labours under similar disadvantages with the Waini; but if once entered, it offers an uninterrupted navigation to vessels of 250 to 300 tons burthen from its mouth to the junction of the Aruka Indeed, a finer river for steamers could not be desired. Its banks are, however, marshy to its junction with the Aruka and so much subjected to the tide that we could not find any spot fit for our night quarters. If the lower tracts were to be put into cultivation, it would cost the same labour and expense which we required to render the coast-land of Demerara arable end productive. This has no reference to the upper regions, which have not been visited as yet by me.

If the difficulty of procuring at all times fresh water could be overcome by building tanks, etc., the Barima and the Waini would offer excellent fishing stations, and the easy communication, either by sea or by the Mora passage, between these rivers, enhances their importance as such. The fish known under the name of Querriman in the colony abounds in these estuaries, and its value is acknowledged, as in its dry state it brings, in the market of Georgetown, 5 to 6 bits (1s. 9d to 2s. 3d) each. Of equal, if not greater value, is the Morocotto, which frequents the rivers that fall into the Orinoco, and which weigh in their natural state from 10 to 12 lbs. It is of great importance to point out every resource which the Colony possesses, and by the use of which it can render itself independent of foreign importations. These fisheries, if followed up in a proper manner, would no doubt become a useful branch of internal commerce.

I scarcely need observe to Your Excellency that during our operations at the Barima we met no obstructions from the Venezuelans, of whom we saw none, although the Commandant at Coriabo, which is the first post in Orinoco, must have been aware of our proximity, as several Indians who had visited us in our camp went from thence to Coriaba. It was at first my intention to pay a visit to the Commandant, and to assure him, as being the nearest Venezuelan authority, of the friendly intentions of Her Majesty's Government, and that the present demarcation was merely a preliminary measure, open to future discussion between the respective governments; but after having proceeded a considerable distance, an uncommonly rough sea, such as our corial was not at all calculated to encounter, obliged us to bear away for the nearest beach, and there remain till the following morning, when finer weather enabled us to return to our camp.

In a memorial(1) on the boundaries of British Guiana, which I had the honour to address to Your Excellency, I observed that the Dutch, when in possession of these Colonies, were in actual occupation of the mouth of the Barima; and some merchants of Middleburg, subjects of the States-General, had a colony in that river. Colonel Moody, of the Royal Engineers, who was sent in the earlier part of this century to report on the military situation of the Orinoco, observed at the mouth of the Barima the remains of the former post. I report this circumstance, as the site of our camp, at the mouth of the Barima, gave evident proofs that the ground had been under cultivation, and the environs showed vestiges of trenches. I noted some straggling cassava plants, and a few shrubs of Annotto, which does not grow wild on grounds subjected to tidal influence. These circumstances, as simple as they appear, contribute to attest the undoubted right of Her Majesty to the Barima, with all the tributary streams which flow into it. But as in the demarcation of a territory it is of great importance to fix upon a line of boundary which is permanent and fixed in nature, and which cannot be destroyed by human hands, I thought it advisable to claim the eastern or right bank of the River Amacura, preserving for Her Majesty, or for such of Her subjects as may deem it advantageous for their purposes, the same rights to the navigation and fisheries of that stream as the Venezuelans may claim hereafter.

The pale or post at the mouth of the Barima was planted as an attestation of Her Majesty's undoubted right of possession to that river. This point in the possession of Great Britain is of great value in a military respect. The peculiar configuration of the only channel (Boca de Navios), which admits vessels of some draught to the Orinoco, passes near Point Barima, so that if hereafter it became of advantage to command the entrance to the Orinoco, this might be easily effected from that point. This assertion is supported by Colonel Moody's evidence, who visited this spot in his military capacity in the commencement of this century.

When the limits of British Guiana are established, it will be highly advisable that some person of authority should be placed at this point, not only for the protection of the native tribes, but likewise to command from the neighbouring States that respect to which a British colony like Guiana has full right. Venezuela has a Post and a Commandant within a short distance from the mouth of the Orinoco; the Post nearest to the western boundary of British Guiana is in the River Pomeroon, a distance of 120 miles from the Amacura; and it follows, consequently, that the Postholder of the Pomeroon can never exercise his influence or protection over the Indians who are settled on the Barima, or its tributaries, and which, as I have been assured by the Superintendent of Rivers and Creeks in this district, amount to a large number.

The unsettled state of the weather during the period we encamped at the Barima made our astronomical observations very precarious. Mr. Glascott and myself, however, succeeded in fixing the situation of our camp to our satisfaction; but, as much as I should have liked to extend the survey of the mouth of the Barima to the Boca de Navios of the Orinoco, the unfavourable weather, the ill state of health of my crew, and the delay which would have been connected with it, prevented me from executing a work, which although my instructions did not point out such an undertaking, would have found every excuse by its general usefulness to navigation, if the circumstances had been more favourable.

We left the mouth of the River Barima on the 20th of May, and arrived at Cumaka, which we had selected as our depot, the following day.

The exposure to the heavy rains which had set in did not fail to show its influence on the crew; and five were reported on the sick list. The 27th of May arrived, therefore, before we could start for the Amacura. Mr. Glascott, the assistant-surveyor, being indisposed, he remained at Cumaka, and I was only accompanied by Mr. Echlin.

Thirteen miles from Cumaka, in a southern direction, the Aruka is joined by the Aruau, by means of which the portage is reached, which facilitates the communication between the rivers Aruka and Amakura. I resolved, however, to follow the Aruka some distance beyond the junction, in order to visit a Warrau settlement, and to become acquainted with the nature of that river at its upper course. It lessens materially in size, being scarcely more than thirty yards across, The banks, still swampy, are studded with Manicole and Truli palms, along the stems of which we saw the aromatic Vanilla trailing in large quantities, forming natural festoons, and its numerous white flowers diffusing a delicious perfume. The water of the river was of a jet black, and so clear that it proved difficult to discern where the reflected image which the trees and shrubs that bordered its banks cast into the river, separate from the real object. It was late in the evening before we reached the Warrau settlement which consisted of eighteen individuals. Another village of fifteen inhabitants was higher up which it appears is the last inhabited place on the Aruka, that river having its source about 15 miles farther south. The incompetency of my crew for the pending journey, in consequence of several having been left sick at Cumaka, made it necessary that I should engage some Indians to assist in transporting the corial across the portage and through the smaller creeks; and three Warraus were accordingly engaged for that purpose.

We returned next morning to the junction of the Aruau with the Amacura, and, following the former river upwards, reached in the evening the portage, whence we had to transport the corial to one of the rivulets which flow into the Amacura. The ground rises here to about 40 to 50 feet and, extending from N.W. to S.E., forms the separation between the small streams which flow into the Amacura and the Barima. The portage is somewhat more than a mile in a south-west direction. The size of our boat, and the narrowness of the path, were such, nevertheless, that our crew were occupied nearly two days ere they had got the corial across to the River Yarikita, which falls into the Amacura. The soil consisted of rich loam; and I observed several trees useful for naval and civil architecture, as the Crabwood, Siruaballi, Suari, Mora, and many others. One of these mora trees astonished me by its gigantic size. If required, and a thicker population and increased industry were to render it expedient, there would be little or no difficulty in connecting, by means of a permanent water-course, the River Barima with the Amacura This might be effected by cutting of a canal across the portage. The soil, as already observed, is an ochreous clay, and, with the exception of a few blocks of granite, which no doubt had been transported by water, there was no rock in situ that appeared to offer obstructions to such an undertaking. The course of the Yarakita was W.N.W. towards its junction with the Amacura. After having been joined at its right bank by the small rivers Waina and Waynma, it increases considerably in size. The botanist would have been here much delighted in a diversified and interesting flora. Orchideous plants: the Peristeria, or flower of the holy spirit, several Epidendra, with scarlet blossoms, and many others of equal interest, adorned the trees. A Crinum, with white flowers and a delicious perfume, bordered the banks; Bignoniaceoe trailed along the trees; and the Brownea racemosa, which has been compared to our rose, added to the variety by its bright scarlet colour, especially when contrasted with the green of the surrounding shrubs and trees. The river is subjected to the influence of the which, it appears, rises here about two feet. A short distance from its junction with the Amacura rise on its right bank some hills to the height of about 500 feet. They are called Manibari, and were the highest we had seen since we left Demerara. On the left bank, and close to the confluence, is the hillock Arilita, of less size than the former.

We entered the Amacura at 2 o'clock in the afternoon, and, following its course downwards, were at 5 o'clock in the evening at the mouth of the rivulet Otucamabo, flowing into the Amacura from the right or eastern bank. We ascended it in order to pay a visit to Assecuru, a settlement of Arawaaks and Warraus, under the Arawaak chieftain Jan. We were received by him in a very friendly manner, and found in him an intelligent man, who spoke the Creole Dutch perfectly. The settlement consisted mostly of Arawaaks, and only a few Warraus. The greater cleanliness in person of the former, compared with the latter, was striking. We did not observe among any of the Arawaaks (whether children or adults) those tumours which are caused by an accumulation of chigoes, and which, being neglected to be extracted in time, render many of the Warrau children lame; indeed, as the chigoes penetrate other parts as well as the feet, these poor children suffer, by the neglect of their parents, not only the greatest pain, but are rendered in their appearance absolutely offensive. This was not the case with the Arawaaks, among whom the filthy state of the Warrau is proverbial; nor did they suffer from those ophthalmic complaints which I have mentioned as being so common to the Warraus of these rivers, and of which the extent has been underrated in the statement that even fifty percent of them suffer under it.

The complaints of Captain Jan of the cruelty of the Venezuelans, or Spaniards as they are generally styled, were numerous. He related that they frequently came to his place and took from him and his people plantains, cassava, hammocks, paddies, etc., without paying for them at all, or at the best very inadequate prices. One of the women showed me an ell of salempores, of the value of one shilling for which they had taken from her four bunches of plantains. But as hard as these proceedings must fall on the poor people, who frequently by brutal force are oblige to give the produce of their fields to their oppressors, and suffer in the sequel want themselves, it would be well if there it stopped. But, alas! the system of carrying Indians from their habitations to distant parts of the Orinoco and Venezuelan Guiana, and there oblige [sic] them to work in bondage and subject them to chastisements, is frequently penetrated upon these poor beings. In the small River Otucamabo, which Jan inhabits, there was, at a short distance from the mouth, a settlement of Warrau Indians, called Awarra, who a few months ago were surprised by a number of Venezuelans, led, as they told me, by the Commandant of the Lower Orinoco, and three of them were carried to the Venezuelan post, Coriabo. Some time after, however, they found means to get away at night, in a small canoe; and, as they are now staying at Assecuru, I conversed with them through our interpreter. Even supposing that much of what they related is exaggerated, still, if any part of it be true, the conduct of the Venezuelans towards the natives is stamped with tyrannic cruelty. One of the Indians, who had been forced to work at an estate called Carussima, as I understood, said that those who, by age or infirmity, were not able to finish their tasks, were flogged with a four-tongued whip of ox-hide, or they were drawn up with their hands to a beam in the workhouses, and, when thus hanging above the ground, were unmercifully beaten. Their nourishment, during the period they were forced to work, was scanty, and of the coarsest description; and, as to the reward for their labour, if they should be allowed to return to their homes, this was out of the question. I will not relate any more of the cruelties which were mentioned as having been inflicted upon them or others; but the truth of these was attested by the Indians who were present; and they observed likewise that it frequently had occurred that Indians who travelled with their families in canoes had been overtaken by the Venezuelans, who, having tied the men, had violated in their presence their wives and daughters. I cannot think for a moment that the higher authorities of the province are acquainted with these diabolical proceedings, to which, no doubt, they would put a stop. But the poor Indian, who, in consequence of the distance of the seat of the Provincial Government, can never bring forward his wrongs, or expect any redress, must not suffer; much less he, who, according to the right of possession, or the claim of Her Britannic Majesty, considers himself under her protection.

As I possess, myself, some knowledge of the Creole language, and as the chief boatmen, Prentice and George Albert, speak it perfectly, I examined Captain Jan whether he believed in a supreme being, a future life, or was aware of the nature of an oath, and the punishment which awaits those who perjure themselves; to all which he answered in the affirmative, having acquired some knowledge of the Christian religion during his stay at the Essequibo, where in former times he worked for wages; and he asserted that, if required, he would confirm by an oath the truth of what he had told me. I desired him to assemble next morning his people, and I found that their number amounted to 59; namely, 19 men from the age of fifteen years upwards, 14 boys, 13 women, from fifteen upwards, and 13 girls. I told them, through our interpreter, the object of our coming here; and that it was not the wish of Her Britannic Majesty's Government, since it claimed the right bank of the Amacura as the limit of the British colony of Guiana, that they should be molested; and that I should make it my duty to bring their complaint, through your Excellency, to the knowledge of the Right Honourable Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies. Meanwhile, I advised them, if these oppressions of the Venezuelans continued, rather to leave their present habitation, although it might be dear to them, and to draw nearer to the cultivated part of the British colony, where the law would secure them against such oppressions; which proposal they promised to consider. I drew up the accompanying document, of which I left a document in the hands of the chieftain, Jan; and under the supposition that the Venezuelan Authorities of the Orinoco have been informed through their Government of the intentions of Her Majesty's Government, I hope that, by presenting this document, it may prevent the repetition of similar atrocities. At the same time I beg leave, submissively, to suggest to your Excellency to transmit a copy of this protest to the authorities at Angostura, and to desire them to stop these proceedings of their inferior servants, as the Indians of the Amacura accuse the Commandant of the Orinoco who resides at Coriabo, of having led the party who surprised the Warrau Indians at the Amacura and carried them into bondage.

With Captain Jan of Assecuru as a guide, and our crew increased by several of his followers, we left the settlement on the 2nd of June, and followed now the Amacura upwards. After having passed the Yarikita, which we had descend two days previously, we found that the Amacura decreased materially in size, lessening in the course of the day to a stream. We ascended, at 5 o'clock in the evening, the stream Curriabo, which joins the Amacura from its western bank, on the Venezuelan territory, where we intended to remain during night at a Warrau settlement, especially as it had rained almost continuously and in torrents during the whole day.

The Indians have all withdrawn from the banks of the Amacura, and selected small streams for establishing their settlements upon. They suppose that by doing so they are less subjected to the visits of the so-called Spaniards; and, in order to increase their security, these streams are almost allowed to be grown over, so that one only who is well acquainted with their navigation would suppose them to be inhabited by human beings, or be able to reach their abodes.

The intricate navigation rendered it very difficult to make any progress in our large boat. The settlement consisted of only twelve individuals; but there are several other settlements in the vicinity, and about forty Caribs live in the neighbourhood. The whole population, including the Caribs, amounts nearly to ninety persons, but as the natives are, according to the limit at present claimed by Her Majesty, in the Venezuelan territory I did not consider myself authorised to hear or interfere in their complaints against Venezuelan oppression, nor would I give them any encouragement to settle in British Guiana, in order to prevent the Venezuelan Government from accusing me hereafter of having enticed inhabitants of their territory to settle in the British Colony.

The succeeding day (June 3rd) prove so rainy that we were obliged to remain stationary. We started, however, on the 4th of June to continue the survey of the Amacura to its falls or rapids, which are caused by a ledge of granitic rocks that cross the river, and throw an impediment to its further navigation. It had dwindled the previous day to a stream, but the torrents of rain which had fallen lately rendered it impetuous in its course. Near the mouth, the Curriyabo is only divided by a short neck of land from the Amacura, which latter river has still low banks, and is quite serpentine. As we advanced I found its bank to increase in height, and studded with noble forest trees. The gorgeous flowers of the Brownea racemosa and Gustavia angustifolia were so abundant that they added considerably to the beauty of the sylvan scenery. A few miles above the junction of the Curriyabo with the Amacura, the stream Tusa joins the latter river from its right bank. It appeared to be of the same size as the Amacura The course of the Amacura is much farther westward in ascending than laid down on extant maps. Our course was to-day generally west-south-west to the fall Cuyurara. This fall is about twelve feet in perpendicular height; two, others are higher up, and the whole descent may amount to about thirty feet. The small size of the river renders the aspect of the falls by no means imposing, and it may be said that the Amacura above its junction with the Yarikita is only fit for the navigation of the small boats of the Indians.

We did not proceed farther, which in our large boat would have been impracticable, nor did it appear to me that I was so far warranted in risking the death of the individuals who accompanied me as to prosecute the stream's course in small boats, where protection against the inclemency of the rain proved impossible. Astronomical observations were so precarious that, since we departed from Cumaka, we had not seen either sun or stars. There are no more inhabitants at the banks of the Amacura or its tributaries beyond the junction of the Curriyabo, and, according to the evidence of the Indians, who pretended to have been at the source of the Amacura, it is about two days' journey in their small boats from the fall Cuyurara.

The 5th of June saw us on our return to Assecuru. Arrived at the junction of the Yarikita with the Amacura, I selected one of the trees on its left bank to engrave on it Her Majesty's initials as a boundary mark. This tree is situated on the northern foot of the hill Arikita, and about 500 yards distant from the junction of the rivers, which bears north 37 west.

On leaving Cumaka, and considering the present journey as a pioneering expedition, I had only provided myself with a chronometer, a sextant, an artificial horizon, and prismatic compass. The unfavourable state of the weather enabled me only to procure observations of the sun for chronometer on the morning of the 6th of June, and ten days having elapsed without any intermediate observations, I could not depend upon its rate. However, I had desired Mr. Glascott, who, as a consequence of indisposition, had remained at Cumaka, to fire, at 6 o'clock on the evening of the 6th of June, three guns, which we distinctly heard at Assecuru. We thus procured the direct compass bearing of Cumaka, and, combined with my observations for latitude, I received as result the difference of longitude between Cumaka and Assecuru.

I was fortunate enough to procure here, and at the Upper Amacura, a large supply of Indian provisions, for which we paid, to the full satisfaction of the Indians, in such articles as they much desired, namely, cutlasses, knives, calico, salempores, beads, etc. The provisions which we had brought with us from Georgetown being nearly exhausted, this supply was very welcome, and, as I had received information from Mr. Glascott and his party at Cumaka that they were short of provisions, I dispatched a large supply by two small canoes across the portage of Yarikita.

We left on the 7th of June on our farther descent to the mouth of the Amacura. The Arawaak Captain Jan, who went with us to the upper Amacura, and who proved himself very useful and intelligent, accompanied us farther, as his knowledge of the localities and the names of streams which fall into the Amacura, rendered his services valuable. The steams which join the river from the eastern or right bank are very numerous, and it increases materially in breadth. I state its average depth at its lower course as 18 feet, though there are places which must excel that depth. A peculiar feature in this river are large patches, consisting of matted grass, the splendid blue water-lilies (Ponthederia azurea), and several other water plants, which, torn off by the increased stream during the rainy season, came floating down with the current, and, reaching that part of the river where it is subjected to the tides, they are carried to and fro as the tide may be flowing or falling. We might have numbered thousands of these little floating islands. We reached in the afternoon, at 3 o'clock the Coyuni, which, like the Mora from the Waini to the Barima and vice versa, offers an uninterrupted passage in canoes from the Amacura to the Araturi The Coyuni connects the Amacura with the Waicaicaru or Bassama, which falls into the Araturi. This river flows opposite the island Imataca into the Orinoco, and is another instance of a remarkable connection between the tidal rivers of this coast. A short distance above the mouth of the River Araturi is the Venezuelan post Coriabo. The importance of this natural canal in a military or a commercial point of view is undeniable, but its importance to Venezuela (if a denser population should make it such) is rendered abortive in the military aspect if Great Britain possesses the right or eastern bank of the Amacura.

There is no doubt that the Amacura is navigable for smaller vessels and steamers to the Yarikita; the bar at its mouth and the inconsiderable breadth, which seldom amounts to more than 300 yards renders it unfit for larger vessels. It abounds in that delicious fish, the Morocoto.

It was late in the evening before we reached Victoria Point, at the mouth of the Amacura, and we were happy to observe that the boundary post which we had planted here on the 13th of May was still standing The same refers to the post which we had planted at Point Barima, and which we visited next morning on our ascent of the Barima.

We arrived on the 10th of June at Cumaka, where to my great pleasure I found the invalids mostly restored, and Mr. Superintendent King rejoicing in his recovered eyesight. We prepared the succeeding day for our departure, when a murder, which had been committed two months ago upon an Indian from the Orinoco, obliged Mr. Superintendent King to take cognisance of it, and to enter into judicial proceedings. As this case comes before your Excellency in a more detailed form, I shall only allude to it in general terms, and make such remarks as my knowledge of Indian manners and customs call forth.

It appears that an Indian from the Orinoco, by the name of Waihahi, frequently visited the Indians at the Aruka, among whom he was much feared as a Piaiman or conjuror, who, by his malpractices or charms, was enabled, like the Obeah man of the Africans, to injure his fellow creatures. This Weihahi was accused of having killed by his charms, or by secretly administering poison, the family of a young Indian boy named Maicarawari, his mother, whom he loved affectionately being the last victim, and when he, who now remained the only member of the family, reproached the Piaiman for his deed, he was laughed at in derision, and was told that a similar fate awaited him. The Warraus of these rivers have not the slightest knowledge of religion. They know nothing of God or a future life, but the principle of revenge, based upon "blood for blood, life for life", is implanted in their breast from the time they are able to understand their maternal language. The Indian boy considered himself unalterably appointed to revenge the death of his family upon him who did not deny that he was the cause of his bereavement, and when Waihahi came again to visit Aruka an opportunity offered itself to execute his revenge. At a drinking feast which Waihahi gave to the Indians in the neighbourhood, and to which Maicarawari accompanied his chieftain, a dispute arose when the Piaiman said in anger that he would leave the place next morning but that the Chieftain William and his followers should die shortly after in the bush, and that there should be no one to bury them but the carrion crows. The boy, who had taken no share in the revels, had been sitting apart, and this threat no doubt confirmed him in his resolution of executing his intentions. When he saw the Piaiman asleep in his hammock he rushed towards him, and, taking his war club in his hand, he killed him with a stroke by completely fracturing his skull.

As the deed was committed within the assumed limits of British Guiana, namely, east of the Amacura, and in a river which falls into the Barima, it would come under the jurisdiction of the Colony, but a serious question arises whether the Indian, who has no knowledge of the Christian religion, and does not acknowledge our laws, can be punished for an act which civilised nations consider a capital crime, but which according to the manners and customs he has been brought up in is a meritorious deed. And this persuasion has not left him. He himself went to the Indian chieftain Cabaralli, who bears the highest authority in these rivers, and informed him of what he had done, and since the Superintendent thought it his duty to proceed with him and the witnesses to Georgetown he has followed voluntarily and without restraint to be tried by a Court of Justice and adjudged by laws of even the existence of which he has no knowledge. His judges are not able to enter into his feelings, nor do they see that by the maxims of his tribe he was, as it were, ordained to commit an act which any other Indian under similar circumstances, and equally unacquainted with the Christian religion, would have considered it his sacred duty to perform. But this tragical event, which is no doubt one among many that have come to our knowledge, gives rise to the mournful reflection that there are in this Colony, and comparatively within so short a distance from its capital, thousands of Indians who walk in perfect darkness with regard to the Christian religion. Should the moment arrive when religious teachers shall be sent amongst them, and they shall be converted, such cases must cease entirely, or the perpetrators will be amenable to the Courts of Law for their misdeeds. In the present case, between Indian and Indian, both of whom are uncivilised, it is my opinion, based upon my knowledge of the Indian character, of their customs and manners, that Micarawnri is not amenable to the Courts of Law of this Colony for the deed which he has committed.

I have to apologise to your Excellency for the remarks and the opinion which I have advanced; but another opportunity might not occur to show how much it is required to tender civilisation to the native tribes who inhabit British Guiana. If Great Britain, by its commercial connections and shipping, derives any benefit from the possession of this Colony, it must be recollected that the territory belonged once to those tribes from whom European nations have wrested it.

The interest in the welfare of the natives of this Colony which your Excellency has shown, and the wise ordinances which have been framed for their protection, render it impossible that such cruel acts as they are subjected to in the neighbouring territory could be committed upon those in British Guiana; but, as long as these tribes are not converted to Christianity, they labour under a disability, which I am sure your Excellency will give your consideration to remove; otherwise the Indian is liable to be oppressed by every unprincipled and designing man. The first question which is put in a Court of Justice to a person who appears as plaintiff or as witness is whether he be acquainted with the nature of an oath - of a God and a future life. A satisfactory answer cannot be expected from him, who has never been instructed in the Christian religion; but, as sacred as is his affirmation to the Quaker, equally so is to the Indian his assertion that he tells "the truth and no lie," by which strong expression only I can convey the meaning of the Indian sentence. Before such an assertion, however, is taken, in lieu of an oath, the unprincipled colonist may subject the native to every oppression, without running the risk of punishment for his misdeeds. I am informed it is not so in Her Majesty's East India colonies, where a law is in existence by which the evidence of the natives, who are heathens, is nevertheless regarded valid in the Courts of Justice. The Indian of Guiana is no idolator; he either believes in a good spirit or walks in perfect darkness, without giving a thought on the existence of a God; and, as he cannot swear by his idols, some other binding form must be substituted.

Although the rainy season has for some time past set in, and although our stores are materially reduced, and we have been deprived of many comforts, I yet deem it my duty to persevere, and continue the survey to the Cuyuni. The two large corials, which we are not able to transport across the land, have received orders to proceed round the coast to the Essequibo, where they are to remain at Bartika Point, while the coxswain Cornelius is to meet us with small canoes and a supply of the most necessity provisions on the Cuyuni. As far as I can foresee, three to four weeks may elapse before the expedition can return, for refitting, to Georgetown.

The map which I am constructing will point out more clearly the route which we have taken, and those points where boundary marks have been planted. I shall lose no time, on my return to the Colony, to lay this map before your Excellency, the incompleteness of which at this moment, where my investigations are unfinished, and unprovided as I am with the necessary materials for its construction, prevents me from enclosing it herewith. I must not, however, omit to observe that more unfavourable weather for astronomical observations we could not have had than we have experienced during our expedition.

I cannot close this report without bringing to your Excellency's notice the alacrity and good conduct of the officers belonging to the Expedition. It gives me likewise pleasure to observe that the men who compose the crew have performed their duty to my satisfaction, and I have only to wish that they may continue in their good behaviour.

The Expedition is highly indebted to Mr. King, the Superintendent of Rivers and Creeks of the County, who, by his active co-operation in furthering the ends of the Expedition, and his acquaintance with the Indians of these parts, has made his assistance the more valuable.

I have, etc.
(Signed) ROBERT H. SCHOMBURGK,
Her Majesty's Commissioner of Survey.

1- Similar text in Inclosure in No 6


Inclosure 1 in No. 1

(A)

NAMES of Officers and Canoe-men constituting the Guiana Boundary Expedition

MR. COMMISSIONER ROBERT HERMAN (SIC) SCHOMBURGK
MR. ASSISTANT-SURVEYOR ADAM GIFFORD GLASCOTT, R.N.
MR. WILLIAM LEARY ECHLIN, ARTIST HERMANAS PETERSON,
FIRST COXSWAIN ] CLASS CORNELINSEN,
SECOND COXSWAIN] - each receiving as wages 16 dol. per month. Chief Boatmen, each receiving 14 dol. per month.

GEORGE ALBERT
PRENTICE ALBERT
HENRY CHESHAM
CORNELIUS JANUARY
Canoe-men, each receiving 12 dol. per month.
JOHN BELFAST
DANIEL FREDERICK
THOMAS JOQUIN
CAESAR NUNEZ
LOUIS BALTHASAR
SAM WITTEN
WILLIAM CLARK
HAMLET CLENAN
GOTTLOB STOEKEL

JOHN AGATASH, Interpreter, at 12 dol. per month.

Attached to the Expedition.

MR. RICHARD M. SCHOMBURGK, Botanist of the Royal Prussian Gardens at San Souci.
MR. THOMAS HANCOCK


 

Inclosure 2 in No. 1.

(B)

This is to certify that I, the undersigned, Her Britannic Majesty's Commissioner for Surveying and Marking out the Boundaries of British Guiana, planted this day, in the presence of the witnesses, who have subscribed their names hereto, a post, branded with Her Majesty's initials, as a testimony of Her Majesty's right of possession to the River Barima and its tributaries, and all the land through which they flow. This post lies, according to my observations, in latitude 8 36' 9" north, and longitude 60 40' 36" west of Greenwich; the river's southern point bearing from hence S. 25 30' W.; the River Amacura S. 43 30' W.

I also branded three trees with Her Majesty's initials (situated E by N. N., distant about 30 yards from the above post) as a farther proof thereof.

Dated this 13th day of May, 1841

I have, etc,
(Signed) ROBERT H. SCHOMBURGK,
Knight of the Prussian Order of the Red Eagle, Third Class

ADAM G. GLASCOTT, R.N., Assistant-Surveyor.
ROBERT KING, Superintendent Rivers and Creeks, S.J.P.
WILLIAM L. ECHLIN, Artist.
THOMAS HANCOCK.

HERMANAS PETERSON [X - His mark]
CLASS CORNELINSEN [X - His mark]
HENRY CHESHAM [X - His mark]
PRENTICE ALBERT [X - His mark]
GEORGE ALBERT [X - His mark]
JOHN BELFAST [X - His mark]
THOMAS JOQUIN [X - His mark]
CAESAR NUNEZ [X - His mark]
DANIEL FREDERICK [X - His mark]
SAMUEL WITTEN [X - His mark]
WILLIAM CLARK [X - His mark]

Witness - ADAM G. GLASCOTT, R.N. Assistant-Surveyor

Warrau Indians

WACARABA [X - His mark]
DANIEL MANUEL [X - His mark]
MAYUCARE [X - His mark]
(Chieftain's son)
CURIABA [X - His mark]
YAROW-ANARI [X - His mark]
ARUA-CAIMA [X - His mark]
URUABALLIA [X - His mark]

Witness - ROBERT KING, Superintendent Rivers and Creeks, S.J.P


Inclosure 3 in No. 1

(C)

This is to certify that I, the undersigned, Her Britannic Majesty's Commissioner for Surveying and Marking out the Boundaries of British Guiana, planted this day, in the presence of the witnesses who have subscribed their names hereto, a boundary post, branded with Her Majesty's initials; and claimed in the name of Her Majesty Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, all the land extending from the River Barima to the eastern point of the River Amacura, where this river falls into the Orinoco, and along its right or eastern bank to its sources, with the right of fishing, and the free navigation of British vessels thereof, and the land farther southward, as may be hereafter claimed in Her Majesty's name.

The point of the River Barima where a boundary post was planted to-day, as a testimonial of Her Britannic Majesty's right or possession, bears from here N. 43 30' E.; the western point of the River Amacura north, 48 west; and this boundary post is situated, according to my observations, in latitude 8 33' 3" N., and longitude 60 40' 36" west of Greenwich.

Victoria Point, River Amacura;
Dated: 13th day of May, 1841

ROBERT H. SCHOMBURGK,
Knight of the Prussian Order of the Red Eagle, Third Class

ADAM G. GLASCOTT, R.N., Assistant-Surveyor.
ROBERT KING, Superintendent Rivers and Creeks, S.J.P.
WILLIAM L. ECHLIN, Artist.
THOMAS HANCOCK.

HERMANAS PETERSON [X - His mark]
CLASS CORNELINSEN [X - His mark]
PRENTICE ALBERT [X - His mark]
GEORGE ALBERT [X - His mark]
HENRY CHESHAM [X - His mark]
JOHN BELFAST [X - His mark]
THOMAS JOQUIN [X - His mark]
CAESAR NUNEZ [X - His mark]
DANIEL FREDERICK [X - His mark]
SAMUEL WITTEN [X - His mark]
WILLIAM CLARK [X - His mark]

Witness - ADAM G. GLASCOTT, R.N. Assistant-Surveyor

Warrau Indians

WACARABA [X - His mark]
DANIEL MANUEL [X - His mark]
MAYUCARE [X - His mark]
(Chieftain's son)
CURIABA [X - His mark]
YAROW-ANARI [X - His mark]
ARUA-CAIMA [X - His mark]
URUABALLIA [X - His mark]

Witness - ROBERT KING, Superintendent Rivers and Creeks, S.J.P


Inclosure 4 in No. 1

(D)

Whereas the Arawaak Chieftain, or Captain Jan, who with his followers is settled at Assecuru and along the banks of the Rivulet Otucamabo, which flows into the River Amacura at its eastern right bank, has this day complained to me that certain inhabitants of the neighbouring Venezuelan territory, chiefly those who dwell on the banks and islands of the River Orinoco, have frequently come to his abode, and taken from him and his people, either by force or for inadequate payment produce of their provision fields, and pilfered their huts and hammocks and paddies. And where it further appears that they, or other inhabitants of that territory, have committed the atrocious crime of forcibly carrying away some natives of the Warrau Tribe from Awarra, on the banks of the said Rivulet Otucamabo, in order to make them work in the Venezuelan territory; I, the undersigned, Her Britannic Majesty's Commissioner for Surveying and Marking out the Boundaries of British Guiana, by virtue of the Commission graciously granted to me by Her Majesty, and the express desire of Her Majesty's Government, "That the native tribes within the assumed limits of British Guiana must not be molested," hereby solemnly protest against such proceedings towards the native Indians inhabiting the right or eastern bank of the Amacura, and to which Her Britannic Majesty has laid claim as forming the western boundary of Her Colony of Guiana, leaving the full recognition of such boundary to subsequent amicable negotiations between the respective Governments of Great Britain and the Republic of Venezuela.

Given under my hand and seal at the Arawaak Settlement, Assecuru, this first day of June, 1841, and the fourth year of Her Majesty's reign.

ROBERT HERMANN SCHOMBURGK
Knight of the Prussian Order of the Red Eagle, Third Class

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