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TIMEHRI



BEING



&«£3*9fti»a&



or






OF



BRITISH GUIANA.



Edited by



Vol. V. 1886.



E. F. im Thurn, M.A.




Demerara : .1. THOMSON, 1886.
London Agent: E^TANFORD, Charing Cross, S.W.



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PRINTED AT THE "ARGOSY" OFFICE, DEMERARA.



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Contents of Volume 5.



Page.

{ Redmen ; some of their thoughts, by the Editor ... i

The Colony of Surinam, by B. E. C0LA90 Belmonte... 19
Synopsis of the Lycopodiaceae of Guiana, and their

Allies, by G. S. Jenman 40

The Hurricane of 1830 in St. Vincent (by an eye-
witness) edited by Mary Brown 54

Land Titles, by the Hon. William Russell 79

Colonial Jottings, by W. C. H. F. McClintock ... 92

Rice, by the Hon. William Russell 101

Notes on the Plants at Roraima, by the Editor ... 145
^Bistory of the Caribs, translated by G. J. A. Bosch-

V Reitz 224

Agricultural Societies in British Guiana, by Thomas

,Watt 255

After the Storm in St. Vincent, edited by Mary Brown.. 274

Occasional Notes—

Sir R. Schomburgk on the jEta Palm 121

Guiana Orchids 122

The Mosquito Worm 127

. The Campbell Memorial 128

Balata 128

An Unexpected Source of Cane Sugar ... 130

Report of Society's Meetings, January to December

1886 133 283



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\



Redmen; some of their Thoughts.*




By the Editor. /

M

ERY briefly for so wide a subje6£, I purpose here
roughly to suggest, for further consideration,
a chief, perhaps the chief, feature in the,
naturally very simple, habit of thought of men in one of
the earliest yet discernible stages of civilization. The
main interest of this particular feature of early thought
lies in the probability that from it has developed the very
complex habit of thought to which our own race has now
become so accustomed that we are apt to overlook the
extreme simplicity of the original germ. I shall use in
illustration of the primitive stage of thought my expe-
rience of our own Indians of Guiana amongst whom I
J have lived, in some intimacy, now for a considerable
number of years.

In a few words I may first re-state the general historic
and social portion of these Redmen.

The traft on the north-eastern shoulder of the conti-
nent of South America distinguished under the general
. _ & *

* This paper is, in substance, an address delivered to the Torquay
Natural History Society in January, 1886, and is printed in Timehri,
in the hope that it may be of some interest to colonists.— Ed.



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TlMEHRI.



name of Guiana, is shared by the English, Dutch and
French. From its level sea-coast this country rises, chiefly
by step-like ascents, to the table-land of the interior.
This table-land is in itself a swelling, grass-covered and
treeless open country. But along the courses of the many
streams and rivers which rise on this high plain, to flow
down the eastward slope to the sea, are more or less
extensive belts of trees ; and these belts, widening as
the rivers themselves widen, approach each other nearer
and nearer, till, toward the lower part of the seaward
slope, they join and extend as one dense forest over
the strip of alluvial coast-land which lies between the
foot of that slope and the sea. Through this forest and
over the grassy table-land are scattered Redmen of
various tribes, but chiefly Caribs, differing from each,
other somewhat according to their tribes, differing also
somewhat according as they live in the open country
or in the forest, but, in the main, all in the same early
stage of civilization* None of them are aboriginal in
those parts ; but even those of them who reached their
present places latest came before the earliest arrival of
Europeans in America. The terrible persecution which,
soon after the discovery of America, disturbed, confused,
and even obliterated, the previous social condition of
the Redmen of the greater part of that coast of America
left almost untouched the Redmen of Guiana; for it
chanced that the earliest European settlers in these
parts were Dutchmen, Englishmen and Frenchmen,
who from the first strove rather, in so far as coaamuni^
cation and intercourse with the Red-skinned natives
was quite unavoidable, to establish friendly relations with
these, instead, as was the practice of the Spanish





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REDMEN ; SOME OF THEIR THOUGHTS. 3

colonizers of the adjacent coasts, of enslaving and
destroying these. And later, when in those adjacent
parts the bodily enslavement of the Redinen by the
Spaniards had given place to their equally strenuous
spiritual enslavement by Spanish Catholics, the Redmen
of Guiana, more fortunate than their neighbouring kin*
dred, were for the most part left simply to their own
moral devices. And even to this day in Guiana, except
along the sea-coast, which has alone been settled and
where missions have been established, almost the sole
communication between the Redmen and the colonists
is that, of very slight extent, which the former bring
about by their own voluntary and rare visits to the
Europeanized coast. More than most of their neigh-
bouring fellows, therefore, the Redmen of Guiana have
retained their own ideas and habits. These ideas, these
habits, and the simplicity of their arts mark them as
belonging, certainly not quite to the lowest stage of
South American civilization, as exemplified in some of
the Brazilian tribes, but yet, taking into consideration
the marvellously developed, if still barbaric, civilization
of Central America and Peru, to a very primitive stage*
It must not be supposed that these Redmen have mad6
no additions to the observations which formed the mental
stock of primitive human reason ; yet, despite this gain
of many comparatively advanced results of thought, they
leijua extreme, and in many respefils almost primitive,
processes of thought.

Id order to obtain an instru&ive parallel, we may
compare lor a moment certain features in the develop*
meat of the mental apparatus of the human race with the
corresponding features sa the development of its apparatus

A?



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TlMEHRl.



of mechanical implements, that is of its arts. It is very
reasonable to assume that in a very early stage of devel-
opment men were provided with none but such unarti-
ficial implements as simple sticks and stones. The most
remarkable lefture it was ever my privilege to hear was
devoted to an attempt to indicate a few of the infinite
number of stages, along a few of the many diverging
lines of development, by which the simple stick, the im-
plement of the primitive man, has been transformed into
countless implements of modern everyday use. We
were shown how the stick was added to and improved
until it became a bow ; how this bow, altering along one
line of development! became a cross-bow, which in turn
was developed, in to a gun, that into a cannon, and that,
we might now add, into the modern automatic maxim
gun ; how the bow, altering along another line of develop-
ment, became a single-stringed musical instrument,
how that became a lyre, that a harp, that a spinet,
that a piano, and that, we might now add, a voca-
tion. A very similar lefture might be given though
it would naturally be harder to work it out, on
the development of many highly complex thoughts,
familiar to us now, from the very simple germinal idea
of primitive man. All that I can pretend to do is to
point out, without attempting to indicate the time which
it took in 'its development, the particular germinal
thought of primitive man which is represented in modern
thought by our common knowledge df, and even by our
scientific classification of, the phenomena of the natural
world surrounding us. As in the development of the
mechanical apparatus of the human race is the stick of
the primitive man to our machine guns, so in the devel-



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REDMEN , SOME OF THEIR THOUGHTS. '5

opment of the human mental apparatus is the first view
which primitive man took of nature to the modern scien-
tific conception of nature.

The basal process of thought, alike of primitive and of
developed man, is from the known to the unknown. But
it must be remembered — it is somewhat difficult suffi-
ciently even to conceive this, much more difficult to bear
it constantly in mind — that to the primitive man 'the
known' is an infinitessimally small quantity, is, in fa£t,
almost solely himself and his own feelings. From this,
all that is known to him, he has to judge the whole world
around him.

Briefly then, the primitive condition of thought of
early man concerning the objefts, the phenomena, of the
natural world surrounding him, such as sun, moon and
stars, rains and winds, mountains, rocks and rivers,
animals — whether these be human or not — trees and
plants, is that there are beings of a nature exaftly identi-
cal, except in the mere accident, and that as we shall
see, a separable accident, of bodily form, and in degree
of mental cunning, with the one thing known to him—
which is himself.

Let me here state, once for all, that whenever in fu-
ture I use the word ' being* I use it to express an indi-
vidual characterized by the possession of that common
dual nature, consisting of body and spirit, which is
ascribed, in the primitive conception alike to every,
single natural phenomenon, — with one single exception 1
presently to be noted. l

The all-important faft to realize and ever to bear in
mind is that primitive man begins his study of the world
surrounding him by comparing each objeft which he sees



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6 TlMttlRI.

ia k with himself and only gradually recognising differ-
4f*ges, as these are forced upon his attention, differences
that is from himself.

It has been said that sun, moon and stars merely share,
as it seems to the primitive thinker, with men, animals,
plants and all other natural objects a common dual
nature ; and we might at first sight seem justified in
statifcg that in the primitive conception all the phe<-
nomena of what we call the universe share this common
dual nature. There is, however, one phenomenon of the
universe which is not included in this primitive view;
and this is the earth itself. It is a little difficult briefly
to explain the reason of this exclusion. We are
thoroughly imbued with the notion that the sua, moon
and stars are bodies of an entirely different nature to our
own* and that the round earth is of a nature akin to that
of the sun, moon and stars. But just as the primitive
thicker has not attained the conception of the difference
of nature of the sun, moon and stars from our bodies, so
neither has he attained the conception of the similarity of
the earth to the $un • for the earth is, so to speak, too close
to him for him to think about it at all. His conception
of the universe— if we may use so sounding a phrase of
so simple a notions-excludes the earth, which is to him
simply that on which he stands and from which he views
the universe. The earth is to him, unlike all other
phenomena, not a definite objeft with body and spirits
oeftabeiag.

Yet the primitive man's ideas about the land on which
be walks are worthy of some attention, if only for the
tight which we may thus throw on his habit of reasoning
of all unknown things from the thing best known to Wa|.



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REDMBN ; SOMB OP THEIR THOUGHTS. f

That the land extends beyond the parts of which he hat
experience he takes (of granted ; for he occasionally,
though very rarely, sees other beings come from pWtft
unexplored by him. He has, in faft, never bad the
slightest occasion to imagine a limit of lands, never any
reason to suppose a limit to the land which he know*
It extends, for him, beyond the habitations of the neigh*
bouring hostile Red men, beyond the mountains, the tea
and the sky, beyond all or any of these which happen 4a
limit his own wanderings. Any limit to this extension
he neither accepts nor rejects ; he simply never ques-
tions. He does not himself go beyond the sea, but he
occasionally sees other men come thence, and be bear*
from these of land beyond those waters uftpassabfe U>
him* Just so he sees an apparently firm sky, separated
by an ocean of air impassable to him, and to which he
does not know the way, but to which he sees other beings*
birds* for instance, and even, as be believes, other njen
go. Above the sky, as beyond the sea, the river or the
mountains* the land, he thinks, extends, open to him if
be only dare find the way and go. Their ancestors, the
traditions of some Redmen tell them, came from the part
of the land which lies beyond the sky, by climbing 4<wn
a tall tree or a banging busb»rope ; or, in other cases,
they came, be hears, from the land beyond the sea, ia
ca*Oes* One such tradition will serve to illustrate the
efttstme naturalness of these ideas. It is a Warrau tale.
Which tells how the ancestors of that tribe once lived in
the land beyond the sky. There one of them, a famous
hunter y one day shot his arrow into a bird, which fell into
a deep pit and disappeared. Gazing down into the hole,
the hunter saw daylight at the bottom, and before long



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& TlMEBRI.



he was able to discern down below a part of the land on
which many kinds of four-footed animals were walking.
With the help of his tribe he hung a long piece of bush-
rope down toward the earth, and then climbed down this.
After much successful hunting he climbed home again,
taking with him some venison. Now this was a new
kind of food to those above, and seemed to them most
excellent and desirable. The whole party, therefore,
determined to descend. After many had got down
safely, a woman, too stout of build, stuck fast in the
hole through which the others had passed. Nor though
the other members of the tribe pushed from above and
pulled from below, was it ever possible to move her. So,
the hole being closed, some oi the tribe remained in
Guiana, while others remained in their original home.
In all such traditions, whether the ancestors climbed
down from the sky or paddled from the other bank of the
sea, the method of travelling is to the Redman equally
natural, is just such travel as he himself frequently
undertakes nearer home ; and the places beyond are
simply an* extension of the place where he himself
dwells. The world, in short, is to him simply his own
distri6t.

There are three points in the primitive philosophy thus
suggested in outline to which we may next more es-
pecially turn our attention. These are, the recognition
by primitive man of a dual nature, that is of a body
and spirit, in all beings ; the necessary recognition of,
and accounting for, differences in the bodily forms of
beings ; and, the corresponding recognition of differences
of degree of cunning in the spirits of all beings.

As regards the first of these points, it may at first



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REDMEN ; SOME OF THEIR THOUGHTS. 9

sight seem strange that primitive thought should be capa-
ble of the conception of so immaterial a thing as a spirit
Ytt but little reflection is needed to bring conviction that
it is impossible that man, being rational and having
once seen death, should be without this conception.
WJjcn a man dies, something goes, something is left.
The survivors necessarily distinguish in thought between
these two parts, and they call them respectively by some
such names as spirit and body. A good illustration of
this is afforded by the saying of some of our Redmen,
as they point out that the small human figure to which
they are accustomed, has disappeared from the pupil of
a dead man's eye, that " his spirit has gone/' This
alone is sufficient reason to the Redman for belief in the
distinctness of body and spirit — the two parts that
separate at death. Nor is it only at death that the dis-
tinct existence of these two parts is obvious to the most
primitive thinker. To him his dream-acts and his wak-
ing-rafts seem to differ only in that the former are done
only by the free spirit, the latter are done by the spirit
clothed in its bodily form. For, seeing other men
asleep, and afterwards hearing from the sleepers the
things which these suppose themselves to have done
when asleep, the Redman can only reconcile that which
he hears with the fact that the bodies of the sleepers
were in his sight and motionless throughout the time of
supposed action, by assuming, by never questioning,
that their spirits, leaving the sleepers, played the parts
he is told of in dream-adventures. Examples of this
have often come under my notice, and I have recorded
many of them elsewhere. One may be repeated here.
"In the middle of one night I was wakened by a Red-

B



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10 TlMEriRI.

man named Sam, the captain or headman of the Indians
who were with me, only to be told the bewildering
words, ' George speak me very bad, boss ; you cut his
bitts.' It was some time before I could col left my
senses sufficiently to remember that "bitts," or four-
penny pieces, are the units in which in that part of the
world calculation of wages is made ; that ' to cut bitts*
means to reduce the number of bitts, or wages given ;
and to understand that Captain Sam, having dreamed
that his subordinate, George, who, by the way, was not
present, had spoken insolently to him, the former, with
a fine sense of the dignity of his office, now insisted that
the culprit should be punished in real life." Moreover,
not only in death and in sleep does the Redman thus see
evidence of his duality, of body and spirit. The visions
which occur to him in his waking hours with a common-
ness and vividness which in our stage of civilization we
can hardly realize, afford further and similar evidence.

Before leaving this part of the subjeft, one amusing
instance of the Redman's recognition of body and spirit
in all, even the most unlikely, things may be added.
About a year ago, in a part of the country where a white
man had never before been seen, after I had lately been
sketching, and sometimes drawing faces, animals and so
on, for the amusement of the Redmen, the spectators
urgently requested me to leave my pencil with them
that it might go on making piftures for them after I had
left.

Turning now to our second point, it is of course obvi-
ous that differences of body must at once be recognized
even by the most primitive man. But a great peculiar-
ity distinguishes early thought about this matter from



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REDMEN •' SOME OF THEIR THOUGHTS. II

the modern view. It is that in the former no limitations
have as yet been recognized either to possible differ-
ences of bodily form, or to the power of the spirit
belonging to each body to change the form of its own
body, or even, in the case of some spirits of very superior
cunning, to change the form of other bodies.

The Redman realizes no limits to the possible differ-
ences of bodily forms. By differences of bodily form, it
should be explained, is here meant the exa£l opposite of
what used to be called, or rather miscalled, ' fixity of
species.' Till, so to speak recently, the great faft of
evolution was learned it was assumed by scientific civi-
lized men that the distinguishing qualities of each spe-
cies were fixed and absolutely unalterable; now, it is
recognized, though the somewhat misleading term,
4 fixity of species' is retained for its convenience, that
these specific qualities are in reality variable, but only
very gradually and in strict dependence on natural law*
Any real fixity of species, after being long firmly ac-
cepted, has now therefore been re jetted. Yet in thus
accepting variability of species modern science has in no
way returned toward the belief of the primitive thinker,
which belief is in the variability, sudden and in depend*
ence on no natural law, of each individual being.
The unquestioning acceptance by the Redman of the
existence not only of animals which, he can never have
seen, such as elephants, giraffes and kangaroos, when I
have described and drawn these to test his powers of
belief, but also of perfe&ly impossible animals, such as
the dragons, unicorns, griffins, and the horned, hoofed and
tailed devils of our own folklore, when I have described
these also to him, illustrates his ready acceptance of the

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12 . TlMEHRf.

/ greatest imaginable diversity of bodily form. That he
- equally recognizes no limits to the possible instantaneous
variation, ,at its own or at another's will, or even by
chance, of the bodily form of any individual spirit is
evinced in many of his tales. Two examples must
suffice. The first tells how birds and men once Waged
combined war on a huge water-snake. The attacking
party-first agreed that whoever made the first onslaught
should claim the skin of the snake as his spoil. For a
long time no one would begin ; but at last the darter, or
snake bird, dived under water and wounded the snake,
which was then gradually drawn out and killed by the
rest. Then the, darter, claiming the skin, called his
family and made all take hold of the booty and fly away
with it. Then these birds, all of a dull gray colour,
agreed to divide the skin, which, except at the head,