Back to History Page
and Letters of Sir Robert Hermann Schomburgk with reference to his
Surveys of the Boundaries of British Guiana.
Demerara, August, 1841.
The party under my command left Cumaka, where we had sojourned for some time, as detailed in my former report, on the 13th of June; and having arrived at the junction of the Aruka with the Barima, we continued the ascent of the latter river in an east-south-eastern direction. We reached on the next day its junction with the Kaituma, which falls in on the left bank from the south, and is at its mouth about 200 feet wide. The Kaituma is inhabited by Warrau and Waika Indians, and is connected with the Upper Barima by several intermediate brooks.
Numerous rivulets join the Barima at both its banks, some of them inhabited by Warraus. It has still, however, the appearance of a tidal river, being margined by Mangrove and Curida bushes, over which Manicole and Truli palms raise their head. Its banks form continued swamps, which only through the industry of man could be made arable.
We encamped on the night of the 15-16th of June, at a Warrau settlement, the chieftain of which called himself Marawari. The noise of the Indian drum and songs on our approach announced that the inhabitants were revelling, and on lauding we had sufficient evidence that Marawari was intoxicated. One of his wives was in the same state, and thus we witnessed, for the first time since we had left the colony, the effects of that horrible vice, drunkenness. The settlement consisted of five huts, surrounded by rich provision grounds; and I observed with pleasure some lemon and lime trees near their houses. Their provision fields abounded in cashew nuts (Anacardium occidentale).
We passed on the following day the small river Maruiwa, or Hohanna, which, by the interlacing of numerous other rivulets, affords a passage in boats from the Barima to the Waini, a journey which the Indian effects generally in two days. At a short distance above this river rise some hillocks from both its banks. They are the first which are met with in the Barima. The Warrau chieftain, Clementi, has selected one of them to build on its summit a large hut, which, by its construction and neatness, distinguished itself from the generality of Indian houses The erection of this house, with its gallery in imitation of a second storey, was the more gratifying as he did it to award accommodation to the Superintendent of the district on his periodical visits, the good effects of which, as exhibited in the character and better conduct of the Indians in their social intercourse, I had several times opportunity to witness. By studious attention, I seized here a favourable moment to determine the position of the place, a circumstance which the unfavourable weather had not afforded us since we left Cumaka. Warina is, according to my observations, in latitude 7º 50' 15" North, and longitude 59º 43' 30" West, and the height of the house we had selected for our night's quarters was about 70 feet above the Barima. The chain of hillocks, on one of which the house was built, extends in longitudinal ridges in a north and south direction - N. 12º E, and S. 12º W.
I always considered it nay duty, wherever an opportunity offered for illustrating however slightly, the geology of the colony, to observe how far the structure of the country might be favourable to cultivation, it being undeniable that the quality of the soil depends generally upon the rocks which form the strata below the arable land. The super-strata at the hills of Warina consist of ochreous clay, intermixed with mould, pebbles, and that due proportion of sand which would particularly qualify it for the cultivation of colfee. The large blocks of ferruginous clay which lie dispersed on the surface insure the necessary moisture for the cultivation of that plant, for it is well known to the agriculturist how beneficially such blocks operate on the soil on which they lie, contributing not only to the retention of the moisture, which would otherwise evaporate, but to the precipitation of atmospheric vapours.
The rivulet Curiye offers another medium of communication with the Maruiwa and the Waini, but it can only he made use of by small boats. We passed, at 9 o'clock on the 18th of June, the River Amissi, which joins the Barima on its left bank. It is of considerable size, and at the junction of the two rivers it would seem as if the Amissi were the larger one. The Indians, however, informed me that its course has not the length of the Barima, and that its banks are mostly swampy; the current appears insignificant. During the rainy season the influence of the tide is felt to this point; in the summer months it is felt still higher up. The swampy banks of the Amissi render it unfit for habitations. Even the Warraus, whom the earlier authors of travels described as living on the tops of trees, but who in reality raised only a platform just above the level of the water, and rested their miserable dwellings on stumps of Ita trees, prefer now higher ground to build their huts upon. The Amissi affords, by natural canals, communication with the River Kaituma.
Since we had left Warina the Barima, in ascending, had adopted a more south-western course, its banks also became higher, while the palms and mangrove bushes, which till how had been so numerous, became less frequent, and were replaced by a more varied vegetation. Our Indian guides informed us that, by ascending the rivulet Yaramuku half a day, we would reach high hills and savannahs. We continued, however, the ascent of the Barima, and passed the rivulets Aruta and Pequa; the latter inhabited by Warraus. The Barima narrows above this creek to forty yards, and flowwith a strong current, which impeded our progress; its depth was still from three to four fathoms. The banks (it being now the middle of the rainy season) were full to overflowing and rose scarcely a foot above the water's edge. In lieu of palms the most stately mora trees overshadowed the river. In all my former travels in Guiana I have nowhere seen trees of this description so gigantic as on the land adjoining the Barima at its upper course. Indeed, frequently when our boat rounded some point which the river made in its course, and a long reach was before us, these majestic trees appeared in the background as hillocks clothed with vegetation, until a nearer approach showed our mistake, and we found that what we considered to leave been a hillock was a single tree rising to the enormous height of 130 to 150 feet, forming by itself, as it were, a forest of vegetation. The importance of the mora in naval architecture is now fully recognised in Great Britain, and a new export trade has been opened to the Colony. At the Upper Barima this tree is abundant, and grows to such a size that the whole British Navy might be reconstructed merely from the trees which line its banks, a circumstance well worth consideration, especially as being near a river which is navigable to vessels of twelve feet draught, the craft intended for the transport of the timber might load at the very spot where the trees are cut down.
It is only lately that the timber of Guiana has come into notice in England; but so superior are the Mora and the Greenheart for objects of naval architecture that a higher price is given for them in the seaport towns than for any other wood imported into England.
It appears that, at the commencement of this century, a white man - very likely It is only lately that the timber of Guiana has come into notice in England; but so superior are the Mora and the Greenheart for objects of naval architecture that a higher price is given for them in the seaport towns than for any other wood imported into England.a Dutch settler - had advanced so far inland as the Horena River. The Indians showed us the place where he had cultivated sugar, and they told us that he had possessed a schooner and several punts, with which he carried on a timber trade. The Indian, in his expressive language, called the former settlement "The last place of the white man."
We entered on the 19th of June the Caruwavu or Caruawa River, a tributary of the Barima, and halted at a settlement of Warrau Indians. While among the Warraus I had heard much of one of their games which they exhibit during festivities, and I had the satisfaction of seeing it here performed. It is played in parties, two against two; and the champions, painted and dressed accordion to the taste of their tribe, show their athletic skill by attempting to push each other from a space of ground by means of the Naha, which I might resemble to a shield. It appeared to us an innocent pastime which gave agility to their limbs, and displayed to the greatest advantage their muscular power and fine proportions.
There are several Warrau settlements on the banks of the Caruwavu. I estimate their number at 200 individuals. The Manari, a river with a stronger current than the Caruwavu, joins the latter on its left bank at the distance of about a mile from its confluence with the Barima. The Manari is mostly inhabited by Warraus, but there is a settlement of Waikas about five miles up where we intended to stay for a few days. I had understood from some Indians, who were well acquainted with the Cuyuni, that there had been once a Dutch post at an island called Tokoro, which was much farther to the west than that part of the Cuyuni where, from the information I had received previously to my submitting the memorial on the boundaries of British Guiana, I considered the boundary line ought to cross to the River Cuyuni. The path overland led from this settlement to the River Barama, and from thence to the Cuyuni; and it became, hence,necessary to select it as a starting point. Our larger canoes, being much too bulky, were now of no further use; and, us the official duties of Mr. King, the Superintendent of the County, required his speedy return to Georgetown, I resolved on sending the two canoes, with such of the crew as I considered not qualified for the fatigues of an overland journey, under his command to the coast.
We landed at the settlement Manari in the afternoon. It consisted of five Indian houses, the largest of which was given up to us to reside in. In my former report I alluded to the negligence in person and in the houses of the Warraus, and mentioned how superior the Arawaak Indians were in that regard, to the latter. Equally superior, if not surpassing the Arawaaks, are the Waikas. Their cleanliness, both in person and domestic arrangements, was a gratifying picture after having travel for months among the Warraus. The Waikas are of much fairer complexion than the other Indians who inhabit the coast regions, whom they surpass in athletic form and regularity of features.
The Warraus indulge in bigamy; I met even several instances of polygamy among that tribe. It is different with the Waikas, whom I found uniformly to possess but one wife.
The land adjoining Manari is wonderfully productive. We saw sugar-canes vying with the best on the coast, Indian corn and maize far surpassing any ever produced at the coast regions, and bunches of bananas weighing from 80 to 100 lbs. The superstratum is a rich loam, intermixed with vegetable earth and sand; and, as it lies upon clay, a sufficient moisture to advance vegetation is always kept up, thus affording every capability for the cultivation of the staple produce of the colony.
Mr. King, and those of the party who were to return with him, left Manari on the 22nd of June. Our provisions were at that time much reduced, and the period of the year did not warrant me in supposing that I would be able to get much from the Indians. I desired, therefore, that the boat of the expedition should proceed up the Essequibo, and await the land party at Bartika Point; from whence a supply of the most necessary provisions should be sent up the Cuyuni, in a smaller corial to meet us. This service was confided to the second coxswain, Class Van Corneliusen.
I was anxious to examine the Barima beyond its falls. I started, accordiogly, on the 24th of June in a small canoe, accompanied by Mr. Glascott, the assistant surveyor, and Mr. Echlin, the artist of the expedition; and, descending the Manari for a short distance, we reached the Barima by two of those natural canals (the Taima and Ataima) which so frequently connect rivers having a parallel course in these swampy regions. The almost continual torrents of rain which we had had for some weeks, had caused the Barima to overflow its banks, and we found the current running at the rate of from 4 to 4½ miles an hour; our progress was consequently slow. A short distance above the off-flow which connects the Barima and Manari, we visited a Warrau settlement called Emu, where we admired a gigantic bamboo, several hundred yards (sic) in circumference. Two of the Indians were occupied in finishing a native canoe, which they had cut out of cedar (lcica altimissa), a species of wood uncommonly well qualified for that purpose, and resembling in its durability, odour, and reddish colour the famed Bermuda cedar, although a genus quite distinct from the Icica. As the cedar tree of Guiana is by no means scarce, it deserves more attention.
The Warraus are famed for their skill in finishing canoes out of the single trunk of a tree. They formerly furnished the colonists, as well as the tribe of Indians inhabiting the coast regions, with canoes and corials which, for durability and speed, far surpassed any boats ever introduced from Europe.
Of late years their industry has much relaxed, and they are loud in their complaints that the Spaniards of the Orinoco take away all their largest craft and destroy them, and that the smaller only escape by their being able to hide them. The famed Spanish launches, employed during the revolutionary war of Venezuela, were made by the Warraus. Some of these were roomy enough for from 50 to 70 people. They refuse now to make any of so large a size, not for want of the trees fit for the purpose, but that, they say, if the Spaniards hear of their making any large craft, they send a party of men to take them away or cut them in pieces, in order to prevent them from being sold and used for smuggling by the people at the mouth of the Orinoco. Such cruel acts cannot be practised upon the Indians who live within the British boundary, if that boundary is once politically recognised.
We passed the small rivers Ararisi, Yabritin, Buruparu, Mariawaballi, and landed on the evening of the 25th of June at the Warrau village, Simuita. We measured here the breadth of the river, and found it fifty-one yards. The River Kaituma runs hence along 9 miles in a north-east direction. The barometer stood at 6 hours a.m. 30.020 English inches; the thermometer at 70.5º Fahrenheit.
We were accompanied by a number of Indians from Simuita and the neighbouring settlements, who intended to ascend the river to the falls, to shoot the delicious fish called maracotto or ossibu, which, at the time these waters are full, migrate beyond the falls for the purpose of depositing their spawn. We formed a flotilla of small boats, our canoe being the leading frigate. Several fish were procured on the first day. In order to attract them to the shore, a number of the seeds of the carapa, or crab-nut, are pounded, and, having been surrounded by a netting made of withes, they are put in the water and soon attract the greedy maracotto; an Indian stands ready with a light spear which he lances into them one after another with unerring skill. I have in my former report alluded to the importance of following up the fisheries as an additional resource of the colony. I here observed that the maracotto reaches frequently a length of 30 inches, and is 26 inches in girth, while its delicious flavour recommends it to attention as an article of trade.
We observed on the 27th of June a tract of sandstone which was heaped up in numerous blocks. It is fine-grained and much used by the Warraus in lieu of grindstones to sharpen their tools for the manufacture of their boats. We arrived in the afternoon at the fall Mecoro-vussu, which throws the first impediment to the navigation of larger vessels on the river. A few miles below the falls we found a depth of three fathoms. The Barima is, therefore, navigable so far for steamers of considerable size, although it might prove tedious to sailing vessels to reach that distance, in consequence of the serpentine course and strong contrary current.
It is not known to the Indians inhabiting these regions that white men had ever penetrated so far before. We might have stopped here, and commenced our return, the more especially since the weather was so unfavourable; but I found the course of the Barima so different from what it is laid down on maps that I considered it of importance to trace it higher up, as, by its western course on its ascent every mile would add to the British territory. This course, differing so much from the Barima of theoretical geographers, will, I presume, be deemed sufficient evidence of the importance of the measure which Her Majesty's Govermnent have resolved upon, namely, that an actual survey should prelude the definitive negotiations with the Governments interested in the determination of these boundaries.
Only the rainy season could have afforded us the opportunity of ascending the Barima any further, and I resolved, therefore, to continue until we could make no more progress in our corial.
The first series of falls were ascended without any accident, and we halted the same evening near some temporary huts which certain Warraus from Manari had erected opposite to a place where they intended to found a new settlement. Although months had doubtless elapsed since any human being had sojourned in these huts, we found them swarming with fleas and tshigoes, which made us soon relinquish the idea of using them for our night's quarters.
We passed in the course of the next day (June 28th) numerous rapids, of which one called Uropacari was the largest. The river kept its breadth, but was studded with rocks. We passed in the afternoon a large rivulet with black water, called Duquari. It comes from the west-north-west. I afterwards observed stratified quartz, and could not but admire some huge blocks of granite which rose above the level of the river, and are called by the Indians Arauta. Their shining surface and symmetrical form were equally remarkable.
The River Wanama (so named from a species of bamboo which grows at its mouth, and which the Warraus call Wanama) joins from the left bank, and is one of the largest tributaries of the Upper Barima. About half a mile farther south-west the River Mehokawaina unites with the Barima; both tributary and recipient are, previously to their junction, of the same breadth, only the Mehokawaina comes from the south-east, and the Barima, proper from the south-west.
I found it now advisable to discontinue the ascent in corials, as numerous trees which had fallen across the Barima would have thrown the greatest difficulties in the way of any further attempt to advance with the boats.
After having marked three trees with Her Majesty's initials, I left Mr. Glascott in charge of the camp which we had formed at the junction of the two rivers, and having armed the most effective of the crew with cutlasses and axes, we pathed ourselves a way through entangled bushes and swamps, following the left bank of the Barima. With the exception of two rivulets, the tributaries which the river received were of inconsiderable size. Its bed is frequently traversed by granitic dykes, over which the water precipitated itself impetuously, and its current is so rapid that it would have proved difficult to make any way in ascending, even in a small corial. I admired the number of noble forest trees, among which I observed the Bullet tree, the Locust tree, the Crab-wood, Curahara, Hupu, Cuyama, Yarura, and its allied species Paruacussana, the Suari or Impa, and Makaraballi, but the most remarkable appeared to me the Tunkara, which measured in circumference from twenty-eight to thirty feet. Its trunk rose free from branches, smooth and round to about 70 or 80 feet, and I was told by some of my Indian guides that the Warraus use the tree for making canoes. It is soft and white, and the colonists prepare staves from it. The Warraus prepare their bark or shell from the bark of the bullet tree and makaraballi.
Incessant rains rendered our travelling through these woods and over swampy ground by no means comfortable. We continued our march next morning (the 1st of July), and passed a large river which - the Indians of the inhabitable part of the Barima below its falls never having ascended so far, and in the absence of any other name - we called Rocky River, from the numerous blocks by which its course was obstructed.
Our stack of provisions being now completely exhausted, we had to return towards our camp. I halted, therefore, at 11 o'clock, and, having marked a tree with Her Majesty's initials, we returned to the spot where we had encamped the previous night, under severe rain and thunder. The river was about thirty feet wide when we had left to follow its bank, its course frequently obstructed by rapids and falls, and, upwards, west-north-west. The land adjoining on either side was fertile, consisting of clay mixed with sand and vegetable earth. The forest scenery was luxuriant, and hillocks of inconsiderable height, perhaps not more than 50 to 60 feet above the Barima, appeared particularly adapted for the cultivation of coffee and cacao.
We reached, on the following day, the camp at the junction of the two rivers, where Mr. Glascoott, during our absence had only succeeded in taking meteorological observations, the unfavourable weather having prevented him from determining its geographical position astronomically. Having once more reached the corials, we floated down the river, and our return rapid.
|Mean of 37 observations from 6.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m.||30.007||75.56||75.30||74.02|
While it had taken us 6 days to ascend from Manari to the Mokohawaina, we accomplished our return in 2½ days.
An Indian messenger awaited us here from the Lower Barima with the news that a party of Venezuelans, headed by the Commandant of the Orinoco, had proceeded to the mouth of the Barima and the Amacura and cut down the boundary posts which, in the execution of the service confided tome, I had planted there.
How far this information was founded in truth I cannot assert. However, the appearance of these boats, which were said to be armed, had created a panic among the Indians, and those of the Rivers Aruka and Amacura were fled into the woods.
Our departure from Manari was delayed in consequence of the indisposition of the first coxswain Peterson; and Mr. Echlin, attached as artist to the Expedition, but to whom, from his study of medicine and his knowledge of the diseases of the colony, the medical treatment of our sick had been entrusted, reported that, in consequence of serious indisposition, Peterson would be unable to journey with us overland. From the information which I had procured, the road promised to be of the most fatiguing description, and as I was anxious that the chronometers, of which two had hitherto preserved a fair rate, should reach safely the coast regions, in order to prove by re-measurement of Georgetown how far the observations taken by their means were to be trusted. I desired Mr. Glascott, the Assistant-Surveyor, to proceed with the coxswain by water to the coast, while Mr. Echlin and the men best fitted for such an undertaking were to accompany me overland to the River Cuyuni. I had another object in view in sending Mr. Glascott by the route alluded to, as, should the weather have proved favourable, he might be enabled to determine by astronomical observations some of the more important points an the coast.
According to our observations the settlement Manari is situated 7º 35' 34" north latitude, and 60º 00' 35" west longitude, or 109 miles west of Georgetown.
The extract of our meteorological observations gave us the following result: -
|Mean of 37 observations taken hourly||30.092||78.5||78.0||75.2|
We were joined by a number of Warraus and several Waikas from Manari, whose services we had engaged to assist in carrying our luggage from Manari to the Barama, which flows into the Waini. We were told that we would have to ascend the Barama in boats for 4 days before we should reach the path that leads to Cuyuni.
An Indian carries scarcely more than 24 lbs. weight on journeys overland. While the negro carries invariably his burthen on his head, experience has taught the Indian that by doing so he would not be able to make much progress through the thick woods, and his load is, therefore, slung on his back. For that purpose they have baskets, which are made of the stems of a calathea or of some species of palm.
Our preparations had been completed, the loads distributed according to the appearance of the strength possessed by our carriers, and, after Mr. Glascott had left with his party in a boat which was hired for the purpose, we commenced on the 8th July our march overland.
The forest through which we now began our march appeared to have less underwood, and I noted numerous specimens of that valuable timber tree the Siruaballia, which affords one of the best timbers for the planking of vessels and the construction of gigs, boats, etc. I saw trees of this description of which the trunk might have measured 70 feet before they branched off. Through the whole of our day's journey, cedar and other forest trees, many of them of the most gigantic dimensions, were abundant; besides numerous Hya-hya trees The latter is the remarkable tree which yields, by incision, a milky fluid that forms a good substitute for cow's milk. The Indian, to whom it is inexplicable how man can make use of milk after having been weaned from the maternal breast, does not attach any value in that regard to this fluid; but the younger community prepare from it balls of caoutchouc; and as it has now become of such vast importance as to be considered almost a necessary of life, the vegetable Milk tree adds another to the number which furnish this valuable substance.
Our path led us over hillocks from 50 to 60 feet high, extending in longitudinal ridges, and their intermediate valleys formed generally swamps, on crossing which we frequently sank to our girths in mud and water. After four hours' march, we crossed the Caruwavu, here merely a rivulet, and arrived in the afternoon at a small settlement consisting of two houses inhabited by Waikas. I had in the morning the mortification to find that the mountain barometer which I took with me had materially suffered from the land journey, and was from the present unfit for use. After having continued our march for two hours, we halted at Paripu, a settlement likewise inhabited by Waikas. We found the inhabitants in great tribulation: a messenger had arrived from the Cuyuni, informing them that some Spaniards had come across from Augostura, and were building corials at the banks of the Cuyuni for the purpose of surprising the Indians of that river; that they intended to kill the adults, and lead the younger portion away into captivity. This messenger was sent to urge the Waikas of these regions to assist them in making war against the Spaniards. Not only here, but, likewise in the sequel, where I found that this alarm had spread, I showed them the inutility of such a violent measure, as neither in number nor in the [sic] means could they cope with their assailants. But I advised them, provided the report were true, to be on the alert; and on the approach of their oppressors, to retire into the woods.
The cassava grounds around the settlement were extensive, and the magnitude of the plantains and of the Indian corn, or maize, struck me with astonishment. Some of the ears of the latter were twelve to thirteen inches in length; those which are produced on the coast regions do not reach more than five inches. The soil is here is rich, black mould, mixed with white sand, and would produce anything. Considering the extent of this productive soil, and the importance to British Guiana that she should avail herself of her internal resources, and thereby produce food for her inhabitants without relying on importations from foreign countries, it is a subject of astonishment to me that the maize of the interior should not have been cultivated on a larger scale than merely what the Indian uses for the supply of his individual wants. To prove the importance of the maize, I would only observe, by the way, that the importation of this cereal grain from the slave States of North America into the British West India Colonies amounted in the year 1836 to 126,680 bushels; of corn meal, to 36,168 barrels; valued together at 61,341 pounds sterling.
The neatness and order in which we found the provision fields around the settlement, showed that there presided over them an Indian who distinguished himself from the generality of his brethren. Paths led through the field; the yams were trailed against poles; some lime and orange trees, so seldom to be met with amongst the Indians, increased the favourable idea I had of its inhabitants, and induced me to suppose that they were some of the scattered remnants of those fugitives from the missions, who during the revolutionary war, were obliged to fly to save their lives. We found only an Indian and some females at home; the rest, with their chieftain, were gone to work for a period at a wood-cutting establishment on the River Pomeroon, with a view to earning sufficient money to procure themselves such articles as have become almost necessaries of life with them - namely, clothes and other apparel, implements for working at the fields, powder and shot.
Leaving Paripu, we continued our march, and in the afternoon of the same day arrived at another large settlement, judging, at least, from the number of the huts. Here, also the male inhabitants were absent, having gone to work at the Pomeroon. The fear of "La Patrias," as the Venezuelans are invariably styled by the Indians bordering on the Republic, and who still with shuddering think at the massacre to which their brethren were exposed when the lawless hordes entered the mission and spread devastation under the cry "Por la patrias!" prevailed likewise here; and the raised voices and violent gesticulations of the females when they told our guides of the reports which had come from the Cuyuni were a speaking proof of the wrongs which had been committed upon this once happy people. Unprotected as they were, they intended, they said, to leave their settlement, and to seek their way to the Pomeroon, where their husbands were working. Our interpreter stated to them the object of my mission, that I was then on the way to Cuyuni, and that if I should meet any Venezuelans there, I promised every exertion to prevent them from crossing over to this Colony.
While passing through the village I noticed at the farther end a house which was abandoned. Two heaps of ground thrown up near the middle of the house, and one covered with a large earthen vessel, attracted more particularly my attention. I made inquiries, and learnt that they were graves of a father and his child, both of whom had been killed by the malpractices of a piaiman or conjuror. When is the period to come at which the Christian religion shall enlighten these poor benighted beings, and prevent the recurrence of such dreadful scenes, with the effusion blood in their train? The accusation that the victim had died through the agency of a piaiman is sufficient to awake a revenger of the deed among his relations.
After we had passed the village we had to wade to our necks for upwards of a mile through water. The Rivulet Parapaimai had inundated its shores, and, as the rain descended in torrents, we were glad when, towards evening, we arrived at the Caribisi settlement Cariacu, situated on the banks of the Barama, which is here about sixty yards wide. The Barama flows about 40 miles farther below into the Waini, and is the largest tributary of that river. It is inhabited by Waikas, Caribisi, Warraus, and a few Arawaaks, whose aggregate number I estimate at 500 individuals.
The men at Cariacu, like those at the two settlements previously passed, were absent at a wood-cutting establishment on the Pomeroon; and we found only a few of the female community, who, with a Carib, had been left in charge of the place.
Several of my Indian carriers and guides declined going any father. The reports which they had heard in the course of the day were repeated at Cariacu; and as they consisted mostly of Warraus, the most timid of all the Indian tribes, such reports could not fail of having their effect. I had to replace their number from among the Caribisi and Waikas of the vicinity, which occasioned a delay of two days. The weather during the period was so unfavourable that I could not procure astronomical observations.
We had to ascend the Barama to a distance of four days' journey hence before we should meet the path which leads to the Cuyuni, and as there was only one boat to be had which afforded place to four individuals, we had to resort for a conveyance to shell or bark canoes, called by the colonists of Demerara "wood-skins," and by the Spaniards "conchas." They are made merely of the bark of divers species of trees, that portion being stripped off and manufactured into the boat. They are generally from 25 to 30 feet long, and, when laden, seldom draw more than 3 inches of water. Light, and the most simple of construction, they can be easily carried on the head over rocks and other impediments which might obstruct the navigation. Indeed, they are the only craft with which the Indian navigates the upper parts of rivers, but require proper management, as they are dangerous and a false movement when sitting in one of them may cause it to sink. However, we could not procure any other conveyance, and we confided our persons and luggage to these frail vessels.
We departed from Cariacu on the 11th of July. The Barama resembles much the upper Barima; its banks are clothed with similar vegetation, and it is equally serpentine in its course. I noticed a good deal of potter's clay, used by the Caribisi for the manufacture of pottery, which, for its durability is highly appreciated by the colonists. The clay has a greyish colour, and is mixed with the loose materials of decomposing granite.
The rivulet Nakuwai was the largest tributary which we passed in the course of our first day's ascent; it joined the Barama at its left bank. We noticed the first rocks which were lying in the river's bed above the rivulet Abocotte. About a mile and a half above this the Erawanta and Mazuwini join, close to each other, the Barama. During the rainy season, when the bed of the river is full, it forms numerous off-flows, which adopt a more direct course than the river itself, and join it again at some distance on. The Indians, who are acquainted with these branches, navigate them, and thus shorten the ascent materially.
We passed, on the afternoon of the 13th of July, some hillocks, and, soon after, the first rapid, formed by dykes of granite, and reached a settlement of Waikas, called Cadiu, which we were told was the last inhabited place below the great fall. We were here struck with the air of plenty; the cassava pounds were extensive; yams, sweet potatoes, plantains, and bananas were abundant; also the Paripi palm and Papayas, of which the fruit resembled a large melon, some of them measuring 28 inches in circumference. Sugar cane, cashew, and cotton trees grew around the huts. A number of wild fowls were observed; marodies, powis, parrots of all plumage, several sun-birds, all tame, and associating amicably with one another.
I succeeded in procuring a set of circum-meridian altitudes, according to which the settlement was in 7º 19' north latitude. We heard quite distinctly during night the roaring of the great fall Dowocaima, which is about two miles distant, and bears S. 58º W.
Having engaged three more Indians to accompany as from Cadiu to the Cuyuni, we started next morning at an early hour, and, after passing some rapids, approached the great fall We had to unload near the island Wayaruima, and carry the craft and luggage for the distance of 2 miles overland. These cataracts surpass in grandeur the great falls of the River Demerara, to which in their structure they bear some resemblance. The whole fall of the Barima amounts, in the given distance of two miles, to about 120 feet, but, from the sinuosities of the channel, there is no one point which affords a coup-d'acil. The grandest scene is offered by the three upper falls, where the river,narrowing in to about 80 feet, rushes turbulently down the precipice in three jets, and forms in the distance of about one hundred yards a fall of 35 to 40 feet perpendicular. This part is called Dowocaima, and as we saw it at the height of the rainy season, when the river was full to overflowing, the scene was sublime indeed. The banks were bordered by a primitive forest and foliage of every hue, among which the bright red of the young Mora leaves formed a striking object. Lianas reaching from boughs 60 feet high down to the water's edge; a thousand creepers so closely enveloping whole rows of trees as to give them a fanciful resemblance to old massy columns crowned with ivy; white festoons, and clusters of purple and yellow salver-shaped flowers trailing from tree to tree, all combined to form a vivid picture of tropical vegetation. The uproar of the masses of water which rush over the ledges of rock, and envelope in foam the surrounding scenery, added the characteristic feature to the landscape.
The ledges of rock which form these striking scenes of nature are composed of gneiss, their stratification being S. 33º W. They form an impediment to all further navigation, and one which, if a denser population should render such a step necessary, could only be overcome by canals or railroads. In the absence of these, our Indians took their light bark canoes on their heads and carried them to that part of the river where there were no serious obstacles to its further navigation.
We passed, next day, the rapid Massiwinidui and several others of less consequence, and encamped in the evening at the foot of the fall Aunama, from whence the path leads to the Cuyuni. The River Aunama joins the Barama just below the fall; the latitude I determined to be 7º 14' N.
At a day's journey above this fall there is a Caribisi settlement; farther up the Barama is uninhabited. It is said to have its source in the same parallel of latitude with the Barima and Amacura, namely, in the extensive savannahs north of the Ikruyeku Mountains.
We commenced our overland journey on the morning of the 16th of July, and, traversing occasionally hillocks from 100 to 150 feet high, followed the valley through which the small River Aunama flows towards the Barama. We reached at noon an Indian settlement. The provision-grounds around it were in good order, but the houses were tenantless. Our tortuous path continued in a west-south-west direction, still following the Aunama.
After a march of six hours we arrived, in the afternoon, at a settlement of Carabisi Indians, called, from the rivulet on which it is situated, Aunama, and, according to circum-meridian observations of the [word missing] a Gruis, in 7º 9' north latitude. On the ridges which we were this day crossing, and which generally stretched north-by-west and south-by-east, I observed several tracts of granitic blocks, the direction of which was north-west by west. The trees we met with on our journey were lofty, and there was less underwood than along the banks of the river. The mora, which had been so abundant, became scarcer the farther we receded from the Barama, and was replaced by a greater variety of timber trees, as Kakaralli, Determa, Siruaballi, Cedar, Yaruri, Souari, etc. We did not observe any Green-heart, a wood much and deservedly esteemed by shipwrights and house-builders.
Our course on the 17th of July continued west-south-west. We crossed at 10 o'clock in the morning the Aunama for the last time; and having passed a ridge of small hills, which stretched south-by-west, we stood soon after on the western branch of the Rivulet Acarabisi. We had now reached the most elevated spot between the Cuyuni and Barama, and entered another system of rivers, which, instead of flowing northwards towards the Waini and Barama, tend in an opposite direction - to the south - and, uniting with the Cuyuni, and ultimately an outlet into the Atlantic by the Essequibo. From this ridge of hills the natural configuration of the ground is sloping towards the banks of the Cuyuni southward; and I estimated the highest ridge which separates the two systems at 520 feet above the level of the sea. Heights which really deserve the name of mountains commence 20 miles further westward; nevertheless, these ridges of hillocks are of importance in the determination of the boundary, on the principle of natural divisions. I claimed them, accordingly, to form the limit from the source of the River Amacura, passing south-eastward the sources of the Rivers Barima and Barama, and continuing in that direction until the ridge meets the River Acarabisi. From the Amacura, consequently, the northern slope of these hillocks belongs to the British Colony of Guiana; the southern slope, to the westward of the River Acarabisi, and along which the rivulets flow to the Cuyuni, would belong to Venezuelan Guiana.
The Aunama and Acarabisi are only divided from each other by these hillocks, which rise not more than 60 to 100 feet above their level; both rivers, if properly cleared of trees which have fallen across, would afford a navigation to canoes and punts; and as the portage is not more than two miles, these rivers present, at the very frontier, the means of connecting the Pomeroon and Morocco coast with the Upper Cuyuni, where that river is comparatively free of obstacles.
Having claimed the right bank of the Acarabisi, as forming part of the western limit of British Guiana, I had several trees, which stood along its course, marked with Her Majesty's initials. Towards evening we reached a Carabisi settlement, the latitude of which I found to be 7º 4' N. It consisted of six houses and seventy inhabitants. Its height above the level of the sea was ascertained by Wollastan's barometric thermometer to be 510 feet.
We followed the valley of the Acarabisi - by no means a comfortable path, as at this season of the year it formed an almost continued swamp, and we fell sometimes to our girths in the mire. A rich retentive soil qualifies these regions peculiarly for the cultivation of rice. It rained almost incessantly, and we were truly rejoiced when we arrived on the morning of the 19th of July at the Caribisi Settlement, Haiowa, about two miles distant from the left bank of the Cuyuni The general feature of the country between the Barama and Cuyuni is that of a series of narrow valleys, situated between hillocks of no great altitude. The principal valleys are those which follow the course of the Rivers Anauma [sic] and Acarabisi. The general direction of the others is at an oblique angle to these, and they vary considerably in extent; sometimes they are merely defiles, and the greater number of them do not expand more than about a quarter of a mile. I am fully persuaded that there can be no soil better qualified for the cultivation of coffee than that of this part. The zones of granite, sometimes in spherical blocks, and the vitrified and ferruginous masses of clay which I observed frequently to traverse the mountains, are favourable to the cultivation of that plant.
The productiveness of the soil nearer to the banks of the Cuyuni is evident from the specimens of sugar-cane, cotton, and plantains which were brought to me while at Haiowa. I saw a cane measuring fifteen feet long, and seven inches and a-half in circumference. The cotton, too, was of excellent quality and staple; and the few tobacco-plants which the Indians raised for their own use were remarkable for their large leaves, and, as I was assured, for their fine flavour.
Haiowa consists of four houses and 35 inhabitants of the Caribisi nation. The Caribisi, like the Waikas, are a superior race. They are fairer in colour than the Warraus and Arawaaks, and their average height is 5 feet 5 inches. The female sex vie in symmetry of form with the men: their features are more regular than those of other Indian tribes; and a profusion of hair, the tresses of which nearly touch the ground, contribute to their good appearance. Both sexes are great smokers; children, indeed, commence at an early age to indulge in that bad custom.
We now learned that the rumour as to the Spaniards having come to the Cuyuni had no foundation; two individuals had arrived from the neighbourhood of Angostura at the Cuyuni with the object, as I afterwards understood, of finding whether cattle could be driven from the savannah, near the River Caroni, to the British Colony. Whether their appearance had caused the alarm, or whether by unguarded words they had given reason for mistrust, I know not, but the Indians here were under the same apprehensions as those of the Barama.
We met with several Indians who spoke still with feelings of the greatest respect for the missionaries who were formerly settled at the Caroni, and when relating the relentless cruelties of the self-styled patriots towards those innocent victims of the civil war, it became evident that even to this hour, after the lapse of tens of years, their persecutors are held in the utmost abhorrence. I was assured by an old Waika that nine missionaries, who intended to escape by the Cuyuni to Demerara, were taken by the patriots and shot in cold blood; that the missions were destroyed, and the Indians hunted down and sacrificed by a relentless soldiery.
We expected to meet here the party which was to have been sent with a supply of provisions up the Cuyuni, for our stores had long since given out, and we were reduced to cassavo bread and what game chance brought into our hands. We were, however, disappointed in our expectations, and, in the absence of any craft, I had to send my coxswain a journey of two days higher up the Cuyuni, where I was told there was a corial large enough for our use. On his arrival at the settlement the inhabitants considered him to be one of the Spanish party returning to execute their threat; and the men rushed out, armed with guns and cutlasses. However, they were soon assured that our party came as friends to the Indian; and having bargained for the corial, the coxswain returned with some additional guides on the morning of the 22nd of July; and after embarking our baggage, we commenced a few hours after the descent of the Cuyuni.
While at Haiowa I proceeded to the mouth of the Acarabisi, which bears from the settlement N. 75º W., distant about a mile and a-half, and took, formally, possession of it in the name of Her Britannic Majesty, as the point where the western line of limits meets the Cuyuni. The line stretching from thence across the Cuyuni to its right or southern bank (where another tree was marked with Her Majesty's initials), and continues upwards to its source.
Several meridian altitudes of stars gave me as mean result for the latitude of Haiowa 6º 66' N. The boiling point of the barometric thermometer was .47th [sic] of a degree higher than at Acarabisi, and .50th [sic] of a degree lower than at the mouth of the Barima, which would give the approximate height of 260 feet above the level of the sea. I attempted to repair the barometer, and took a number of observations while at Haiowa; but until this instrument shall have been tested in Georgetown it cannot be relied upon. The mountains west of the Acarabisi rise to a considerable height, and the summits of the Ekreku are estimated at 2,000 feet above the level of the Cuyuni, Catiya, or Curumu, where, in the Royalist time, a Spanish military post (Destacamento [sic) de Cuyuni was established(1), is about twenty miles to the westward of the Acarabisi; but the Spaniards penetrated during the revolutionary war, as far east as the River Airekuni, only eight miles above the Acarabisi. All the old inhabitants, both Waikas and Carabisi, concurred in the assertion that the Spaniards, up to that time, had never penetrated farther eastward than the Airekuni river, whilst Father Caulin, in his "Historia Corografica de la Nuevs Andalucia, y vertientes, del Rio Orinoco " (1779), has observed that, at the period he visited the Orinoco, while attached to the Expedition of limits, the Dutch had already carried on an extensive trade by means of the Cuyuni, with the Indian tribes at the Caroni and Parawa; and it was at that period (1750-1760) that the Dutch possessions extended to the foot of that series of falls, of which Kanaima is the most considerable.
The Cuyuni presented, where we embarked, a magnificent sheet of water. I estimated its width from 400 to 500 yards. Its current was rapid - perhaps three miles and a-half in an hour - and its bed full to overflowing. A small chain of hills called Macapa bore nearly west: they are distant about a mile. Our progress was rapid, and in the afternoon we had safely passed the dangerous fall of Kanaima, and rested at an abandoned settlement on the river's right bank. There were some other settlements in the neighbourhood, the inhabitants of which came to visit us. We did not observe any Mora trees along the banks; these were replaced by another equally majestic tree, which the Indians called Ta-au. The islands with which the river was interspersed were almost covered with bushes of the Quassia amara, or bitter-ash. The stream itself continued as if cut up by a multitude of large channels which are not seen from each other, thickly-wooded islands intervening; and no accurate idea can be formed of their total breadth. Sometimes a little range of densely-wooded hillocks approach the river's edge.
We generally found that in the morning, with sunrise, a strong breeze set in against the current and that it changed by degrees to east-south-east, or east-by-south. Descending at the rate of five miles an hour, we passed numerous rapids where the river was free of impediments; it was about 600 yards wide. We passed the Otomong hills, and avoided by narrow passages between islands numerous large cataracts, which, in our small canoes, it would have been dangerous to attempt to descend. At the cataract of Poinka-marka, or Wommipong, of the Caribisi, we had to unload and draw the crafts over a portage of about 300 yards extent. The perpendicular fall of this cataract is not less than thirty feet and it is generally called the Canoe-wrecker, in consequence of many fatal accidents which have occurred here. We halted in the evening at six o'clock at a single hut inhabited by a Waika, his wife, child and a dog. He shared his hut with us, although we were rather a numerous party for a single house. At a short distance hence the Rivulet Aracuna enters the Cuyuni. It is inhabited by a few Waikas, and a path leads from it to the River Puruni, which flows into the Mazaruni The latitude of the hut is 6º 46' N.
The rapids and falls now become less frequent, and still water commences. The tract of granite and gneiss, which causes these impediments, extends, therefore, from the Aracuna hills uninterrupted to the small range of hillocks called Macapa. It is about fifty to sixty miles in length, and constitutes the second large series of falls. About eight miles below Arakuna, and opposite some small hills which rise on the river's right bank, is the Island Tokoro (Tokoro-patti), where, towards the close of the last century, the furthest outpost of the Dutch was situated. Although generations have elapsed, the circumstance that a Dutch postholder once resided here has remained traditionary, and our guide, an old Waika, assured me that his father had frequently mentioned it to him, and that the post-holder's name was "Palmsteen". The post was afterwards destroyed by the Spaniards, and the postholder withdrawn nearer towards the cultivated part of the Colony(2). A little below Tokoro-patti, on the right [sic] bank of the Cuyuni, is the rivulet Iroma. The rivers Rupa and Appa join the Cuyuni from the north: they were the largest tributaries we had met in the course of our descent. We reached in the afternoon the Toraparu, a rivulet from whence a much-frequented path leads, in a day, to the Purumi [sic]. We had anxiously looked forward to meet the party which we expected with supplies of provisions. We heard of them to-day at a settlement opposite the Toro hills; but only to have the disappointment of learning that, on ascending the previous day the dangerous fall Wakupang, they had lost everything, and saved only their lives and the corial. Among the baggage lost was one of the instruments - Massey's log - and a new tarpaulin. Thus disappointed in our hopes of meeting comfort, we had for some days longer to continue our scanty fare. We paid off our guides, who had accompanied us from Haiowa; as, with the men who had come up from the Essequibo, our crew was sufficiently strong to reach that river.
The dangerous fall Wakupang, where our stores were lost on the preceding day, was passed without accident. This is the commencement of the second series of falls or rapids. The river is studded with islands. Green-heart and Purple-heart, both most valuable forest trees, become abundant along its banks; but the impediments which the numerous rapids throw in the way will for some time render these treasures unavailable to the Colony. We passed in the afternoon the Cutuau hills, along which a river of the same name has its course. The Cutuau offers a communication with the River Waini, and is much frequented by the Indians of both rivers; eight miles farther eastward is the rivulet Wayarimpa, whence another path leads to the Puruni. The river is here free of impediments, its breadth from 600 to 700 yards, its waters clear and of a brownish colour. The circum-meridian altitudes of three northern stars gave me 6º 43' N. as the latitude of this creek; a few miles from it is the Cataract Tonomo, where the post-holder resided after his station had been withdrawn from Tokoro Island.
We had commenced this morning (July 26th) the descent of the third series of falls, caused by a small range of mountains, through which the river has broken itself a passage. It rained almost incessantly; and, as the wind was against us, it endangered our descent of numerous rapids, and the coxswain could scarcely look forward. We had to unload at the cataract Aruaka-matubba, and to haul our corials overland. We passed soon after the Woku or Powis mountain, which rises on the river's right bank to a height of 500 to 600 feet; this ridge extends west-north-west, and east-south-east, and it can be seen from the junction of the Cuyuni and Mazaruni. Little islets, consisting of heaped-up masses of rock, divide the river into numerous channels. We had to pass the fall Camaria, and as it did not afford any portage, we attempted to descend it in our craft. It nearly proved our destruction. As it was, the craft filled with water, and it was only the presence of mind of some of our crew to which, under the Almighty, we were indebted for our safety. We reached, on that evening, Ematubba, generally called " the great fall", where we had to unload, and to haul our corials overland, and encamped at the foot of the small island, whither the corials had been drawn.
Continued rains precluded the possibility of any observations, and we started on the morning of July 27th, under the same unfavourable weather. An hour and a half after we were at the foot of the last fall, called Akaya, and saw before us the junction of the three rivers Essequibo, Mazaruni, and Cuyuni.
We were received with demonstrations of hearty joy by the remainder of our party, who had awaited us at the Protestant mission at Bartika Grove, near the junction of the Mazaruni and Essequibo, and the missionary, the Reverend B. H. Bernau, joined in their welcome. The mission over which this worthy man presides was founded by the Church Missionary Society about the year 1831, and Mr. Bernau commenced his labours in 1837, since which time improvements have followed successively. The mission now consists of about 120 inhabitants, who are all located in neat cottages surrounded by gardens and provision grounds. I am too well acquainted with the Indian character to expect a perfect reform in the adult Indians, and the missionary has no doubt reaped a similar experience. His chief object is, therefore, to inculcate in the minds of the youth entrusted to his care, religious precepts, the benefits of industry and civilisation; and in this his labours are successful. The school is attended by from 40 to 50 children, mostly Indians. Some of the latter (I think 24) are maintained by the mission, and instructed in the normal school, that they may hereafter return among their tribes and relations, and assist in working out the great objects of conversion and civilisation. Their progress is, indeed, encouraging. Some of them, in the short space of four months, have learned to read and to write; and the copy-books which I saw would not have dishonoured an European school of even higher pretensions. One of the boys, an Arawaak, had advanced to the Rule of Three in arithmetic Their psalmody is sweet, and when, on the evening of our arrival, we attended prayers, we were much pleased with the attention they paid to the exhortations of their religious teacher.
Mr. Bernau's great plan is to induce the Indian parents who live at any distance from the mission to send to him their children when only four or five years of age, thus to alienate them from Indian life and manners, and from their earliest youth to point out to them the beneficial examples afforded by the Christian religion and civilisation. An asylum for female Indian orphans has just been erected, and is under the guidance of a respectable female teacher; the house is spacious, and has all the comforts required for such an institution. The orphan boys are under the guidance of a teacher sent from England. It is not, however, religious principles alone which are sought to be implanted in their breasts The missionary shows them, by example, that the destiny of man is not indolence; the children are encouraged to manual labour; they assist in keeping in order the surrounding garden; and I was astonished when Mr. Bernau told me that the wharf near the mission had been constructed solely by him and his disciples during leisure hours.
The religious service is at present held in a house, but a church, to which the colony has contributed, is in course of erection, and a hospital for the sick has been added to the house where the boys are located.
This is a cheering picture of the good work which has been commenced among the remnants of the aboriginal tribe, and, if I am entitled to an opinion, it is the only means by which the great objects of the Christian religion and civilisation can prosper. During the late expedition, I had frequent opportunities of meeting Indians who had been brought up at the former Spanish missions, and although so many years had elapsed, it was nevertheless evident that they belonged to an improved race. Philanthropy must mourn that civil strife should have felled with one stroke the effects which the religious and industrious endeavours of the good fathers had produced during numerous years amongst these children of the forest, effects the fruits of which were yet visible, although more than a score of years had elapsed; and those who show that superiority in their manners and laborious habits must have been mere children when they lived in the missions of the Capuchins of the Caroni.
The continuance of the principle which was implanted in them at their youth, though it may be still only a mere spark, gives me every confidence that the mission at Bartika Grove will produce the happiest results; and I have only to express my sincere hope that similar institutions may yet be founded in other parts of British Guiana, and that aid tendered to the remnants of the aboriginal tribes within the British territory, which will place their rising generation much above their present religious destitution. This is the only recompense which England can tender to them for the loss of their lands, and for the miseries which Europeans have inflicted upon them. There are about 2,500 Indians now inhabiting the rivers on our western boundary, who walk in perfect darkness, but amongst whom an institution like that at Bartika Grove would produce the most beneficial results. From my intercourse with these tribes, and from conversations I have held with the more intelligent members of them, they appear willing to receive instruction, or to send their children to a normal school, if such an institution were to be founded in that part of British Guiana.
Our party left Bartika Grove on the 28th of July, in two corials, and we arrived safely in Georgetown on the second day ensuing after an absence of 3½ months, during which period we had made upwards of 700 miles; and although that period presented but a continuation of the most unfavourable weather, we determined nevertheless twenty-one points astronomically, and acquired a true knowledge of the course of the Rivers Waini, Barima, Amacura, Barama, and Cuyuni, all of which had never been visited before by any person competent to delineate them on a map. No wonder, therefore, that their actual course should be almost opposite to what it is represented on extant maps.
The fertility of the tract we have explored has been pointed out in various places in this as well as in my former report. The lands adjacent to the Rivers Amacura, Barima, and Barama, and beyond the reach of the tides, are superior in quality to those of any other district hitherto visited, and this refers equally to the Cuyuni, where I met sugar-canes of the finest description, and native cottons of superior staple and quality. But the difficulties which the Cuyuni presents to navigation, and those tremendous falls which impede the river in the first day's ascent, will, I fear, prove a great obstacle to making the fertility of its banks available to the colony. The Amacura, Barima, and Waini are, for a great distance, free of such impediments, and a thicker population is only wanted to render this part of British Guiana one of the most productive throughout its whole extent, towards which the numerous natural canals and connections between its chief rivers would materially contribute.
These tracts are at present inhabited by the following tribes: -
Warraus, along the coast, from Pomeroon to the Amacura.
Arawaaks, intermixed with the former, chief at the Rivers Waini,
Barima, and Amacura.
Waikas and Chaymas, sister-tribes of the Wacaawais, at the upper course of these rivers, and the regions between the Barama and Cuyuni.
I estimate their whole number, as already stated, at 2,500. Many of them assist in felling timber, or in working on the estates; and if the system, which only of late years has been followed - namely, that of treating the Indian as a rational being, and giving a fair remuneration for his work - shall be generally adopted, the aborigines, there is no doubt, will prove most useful labourers to the colony.
No person has had more opportunities than myself of becoming acquainted with the tyrannical conduct which has been practised within the last ten years towards these poor beings, and it is not too much to say that the treatment of them, which we now reprobate in the adjacent territories, many of the former colonists, even of the British territory, have been guilty of. What wonder, therefore, if these children of the forest, who still recollect the wrongs which in times past were inflicted upon them, should pause before they trust to the fair promises now made to them. They already recognise the protection of the Superintendent, under the existing regulations; and it is my full persuasion that, if the attention and paternal provisions which the aborigines of Guiana have of late years enjoyed at the hands of Her Majesty's Government be continued, and means adopted to afford them religious instruction, the relief of the once numerous Indian population may yet be rescued.
ROBERT H. SCHOMBURGK,
Her Majesty's Commissioner for Surveying and Marking out the Boundaries of British Guiana.
1- Sir R. Schomburgk evidently quotes from Humboldt; but this post, so often talked of, never existed.
2- This is one of those errors into which Sir. R. Schomburgk occasionally falls owing to his not having studied the original documents.
(Close this window to return to main contents)