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is thus announced to the rocks and woods, but to nothing else. One
morning I walked out an hour before daylight to admire the solemn
stillness of the scene; at last, the silence was broken by the
morning hymn, raised on high by the whole body of the blacks; and
in this manner their daily work is generally begun. On such
fazendas as these, I have no doubt the slaves pass happy and
contented lives. On Saturday and Sunday they work for themselves,
and in this fertile climate the labour of two days is sufficient to
support a man and his family for the whole week.

APRIL 14, 1832.


Leaving Soc^go, we rode to another estate on the Rio Macfe, which
was the last patch of cultivated ground in that direction. The
estate was two and a half miles long, and the owner had forgotten
how many broad. Only a very small piece had been cleared, yet
almost every acre was capable of yielding all the various rich
productions of a tropical land. Considering the enormous area of
Brazil, the proportion of cultivated ground can scarcely be
considered as anything compared to that which is left in the state
of nature: at some future age, how vast a population it will
support! During the second day's journey we found the road so shut
up that it was necessary that a man should go ahead with a sword to
cut away the creepers. The forest abounded with beautiful objects;
among which the tree ferns, though not large, were, from their
bright green foliage, and the elegant curvature of their fronds,
most worthy of admiration. In the evening it rained very heavily,
and although the thermometer stood at 65 degrees, I felt very cold.
As soon as the rain ceased, it was curious to observe the
extraordinary evaporation which commenced over the whole extent of
the forest. At the height of a hundred feet the hills were buried
in a dense white vapour, which rose like columns of smoke from the
most thickly-wooded parts, and especially from the valleys. I
observed this phenomenon on several occasions: I suppose it is
owing to the large surface of foliage, previously heated by the
sun's rays.

While staying at this estate, I was very nearly being an
eye-witness to one of those atrocious acts which can only take
place in a slave country. Owing to a quarrel and a lawsuit, the
owner was on the point of taking all the women and children from
the male slaves, and selling them separately at the public auction
at Rio. Interest, and not any feeling of compassion, prevented this
act. Indeed, I do not believe the inhumanity of separating thirty
families, who had lived together for many years, even occurred to
the owner. Yet I will pledge myself, that in humanity and good
feeling he was superior to the common run of men. It may be said
there exists no limit to the blindness of interest and selfish
habit. I may mention one very trifling anecdote, which at the time
struck me more forcibly than any story of cruelty. I was crossing a
ferry with a negro who was uncommonly stupid. In endeavouring to
make him understand, I talked loud, and made signs, in doing which
I passed my hand near his face. He, I suppose, thought I was in a
passion, and was going to strike him; for instantly, with a
frightened look and half-shut eyes, he dropped his hands. I shall
never forget my feelings of surprise, disgust, and shame, at seeing
a great powerful man afraid even to ward off a blow, directed, as
he thought, at his face. This man had been trained to a degradation
lower than the slavery of the most helpless animal.

APRIL 18, 1832.


In returning we spent two days at Soc^go, and I employed them in
collecting insects in the forest. The greater number of trees,
although so lofty, are not more than three or four feet in
circumference. There are, of course, a few of much greater
dimension. Senhor Manuel was then making a canoe 70 feet in length
from a solid trunk, which had originally been 110 feet long, and of
great thickness. The contrast of palm trees, growing amidst the
common branching kinds, never fails to give the scene an
intertropical character. Here the woods were ornamented by the
Cabbage Palm - one of the most beautiful of its family. With a stem
so narrow that it might be clasped with the two hands, it waves its
elegant head at the height of forty or fifty feet above the ground.
The woody creepers, themselves covered by other creepers, were of
great thickness: some which I measured were two feet in
circumference. Many of the older trees presented a very curious
appearance from the tresses of a liana hanging from their boughs,
and resembling bundles of hay. If the eye was turned from the world
of foliage above, to the ground beneath, it was attracted by the
extreme elegance of the leaves of the ferns and mimosae. The
latter, in some parts, covered the surface with a brushwood only a
few inches high. In walking across these thick beds of mimosae, a
broad track was marked by the change of shade, produced by the
drooping of their sensitive petioles. It is easy to specify the
individual objects of admiration in these grand scenes; but it is
not possible to give an adequate idea of the higher feelings of
wonder, astonishment, and devotion, which fill and elevate the


APRIL 19, 1832.

Leaving Soc^go, during the two first days we retraced our steps. It
was very wearisome work, as the road generally ran across a glaring
hot sandy plain, not far from the coast. I noticed that each time
the horse put its foot on the fine siliceous sand, a gentle
chirping noise was produced. On the third day we took a different
line, and passed through the gay little village of Madre de De"s.
This is one of the principal lines of road in Brazil; yet it was in
so bad a state that no wheel vehicle, excepting the clumsy
bullock-wagon, could pass along. In our whole journey we did not
cross a single bridge built of stone; and those made of logs of
wood were frequently so much out of repair that it was necessary to
go on one side to avoid them. All distances are inaccurately known.
The road is often marked by crosses, in the place of milestones, to
signify where human blood has been spilled. On the evening of the
23rd we arrived at Rio, having finished our pleasant little

During the remainder of my stay at Rio, I resided in a cottage at
Botofogo Bay. It was impossible to wish for anything more
delightful than thus to spend some weeks in so magnificent a
country. In England any person fond of natural history enjoys in
his walks a great advantage, by always having something to attract
his attention; but in these fertile climates, teeming with life,
the attractions are so numerous, that he is scarcely able to walk
at all.

The few observations which I was enabled to make were almost
exclusively confined to the invertebrate animals. The existence of
a division of the genus Planaria, which inhabits the dry land,
interested me much. These animals are of so simple a structure,
that Cuvier has arranged them with the intestinal worms, though
never found within the bodies of other animals. Numerous species
inhabit both salt and fresh water; but those to which I allude were
found, even in the drier parts of the forest, beneath logs of
rotten wood, on which I believe they feed. In general form they
resemble little slugs, but are very much narrower in proportion,
and several of the species are beautifully coloured with
longitudinal stripes. Their structure is very simple: near the
middle of the under or crawling surface there are two small
transverse slits, from the anterior one of which a funnel-shaped
and highly irritable mouth can be protruded. For some time after
the rest of the animal was completely dead from the effects of salt
water or any other cause, this organ still retained its vitality.

I found no less than twelve different species of terrestrial
Planariae in different parts of the southern hemisphere. (2/3. I
have described and named these species in the "Annals of Natural
History" volume 14 page 241.) Some specimens which I obtained at
Van Dieman's Land, I kept alive for nearly two months, feeding them
on rotten wood. Having cut one of them transversely into two nearly
equal parts, in the course of a fortnight both had the shape of
perfect animals. I had, however, so divided the body, that one of
the halves contained both the inferior orifices, and the other, in
consequence, none. In the course of twenty-five days from the
operation, the more perfect half could not have been distinguished
from any other specimen. The other had increased much in size; and
towards its posterior end, a clear space was formed in the
parenchymatous mass, in which a rudimentary cup-shaped mouth could
clearly be distinguished; on the under surface, however, no
corresponding slit was yet open. If the increased heat of the
weather, as we approached the equator, had not destroyed all the
individuals, there can be no doubt that this last step would have
completed its structure. Although so well known an experiment, it
was interesting to watch the gradual production of every essential
organ, out of the simple extremity of another animal. It is
extremely difficult to preserve these Planariae; as soon as the
cessation of life allows the ordinary laws of change to act, their
entire bodies become soft and fluid, with a rapidity which I have
never seen equalled.

I first visited the forest in which these Planariae were found, in
company with an old Portuguese priest who took me out to hunt with
him. The sport consisted in turning into the cover a few dogs, and
then patiently waiting to fire at any animal which might appear. We
were accompanied by the son of a neighbouring farmer - a good
specimen of a wild Brazilian youth. He was dressed in a tattered
old shirt and trousers, and had his head uncovered: he carried an
old-fashioned gun and a large knife. The habit of carrying the
knife is universal; and in traversing a thick wood it is almost
necessary, on account of the creeping plants. The frequent
occurrence of murder may be partly attributed to this habit. The
Brazilians are so dexterous with the knife that they can throw it
to some distance with precision, and with sufficient force to cause
a fatal wound. I have seen a number of little boys practising this
art as a game of play, and from their skill in hitting an upright
stick, they promised well for more earnest attempts. My companion,
the day before, had shot two large bearded monkeys. These animals
have prehensile tails, the extremity of which, even after death,
can support the whole weight of the body. One of them thus remained
fast to a branch, and it was necessary to cut down a large tree to
procure it. This was soon effected, and down came tree and monkey
with an awful crash. Our day's sport, besides the monkey, was
confined to sundry small green parrots and a few toucans. I
profited, however, by my acquaintance with the Portuguese padre,
for on another occasion he gave me a fine specimen of the
Yagouaroundi cat.

Every one has heard of the beauty of the scenery near Botofogo. The
house in which I lived was seated close beneath the well-known
mountain of the Corcovado. It has been remarked, with much truth,
that abruptly conical hills are characteristic of the formation
which Humboldt designates as gneiss-granite. Nothing can be more
striking than the effect of these huge rounded masses of naked rock
rising out of the most luxuriant vegetation.

I was often interested by watching the clouds, which, rolling in
from seaward, formed a bank just beneath the highest point of the
Corcovado. This mountain, like most others, when thus partly
veiled, appeared to rise to a far prouder elevation than its real
height of 2300 feet. Mr. Daniell has observed, in his
meteorological essays, that a cloud sometimes appears fixed on a
mountain summit, while the wind continues to blow over it. The same
phenomenon here presented a slightly different appearance. In this
case the cloud was clearly seen to curl over, and rapidly pass by
the summit, and yet was neither diminished nor increased in size.
The sun was setting, and a gentle southerly breeze, striking
against the southern side of the rock, mingled its current with the
colder air above; and the vapour was thus condensed: but as the
light wreaths of cloud passed over the ridge, and came within the
influence of the warmer atmosphere of the northern sloping bank,
they were immediately redissolved.

The climate, during the months of May and June, or the beginning of
winter, was delightful. The mean temperature, from observations
taken at nine o'clock, both morning and evening, was only 72
degrees. It often rained heavily, but the drying southerly winds
soon again rendered the walks pleasant. One morning, in the course
of six hours, 1.6 inches of rain fell. As this storm passed over
the forests which surround the Corcovado, the sound produced by the
drops pattering on the countless multitude of leaves was very
remarkable, it could be heard at the distance of a quarter of a
mile, and was like the rushing of a great body of water. After the
hotter days, it was delicious to sit quietly in the garden and
watch the evening pass into night. Nature, in these climes, chooses
her vocalists from more humble performers than in Europe. A small
frog, of the genus Hyla, sits on a blade of grass about an inch
above the surface of the water, and sends forth a pleasing chirp:
when several are together they sing in harmony on different notes.
I had some difficulty in catching a specimen of this frog. The
genus Hyla has its toes terminated by small suckers; and I found
this animal could crawl up a pane of glass, when placed absolutely
perpendicular. Various cicadae and crickets, at the same time, keep
up a ceaseless shrill cry, but which, softened by the distance, is
not unpleasant. Every evening after dark this great concert
commenced; and often have I sat listening to it, until my attention
has been drawn away by some curious passing insect.

At these times the fireflies are seen flitting about from hedge to
hedge. On a dark night the light can be seen at about two hundred
paces distant. It is remarkable that in all the different kinds of
glowworms, shining elaters, and various marine animals (such as the
crustacea, medusae, nereidae, a coralline of the genus Clytia, and
Pyrosoma), which I have observed, the light has been of a
well-marked green colour. All the fireflies, which I caught here,
belonged to the Lampyridae (in which family the English glowworm is
included), and the greater number of specimens were of Lampyris
occidentalis. (2/4. I am greatly indebted to Mr. Waterhouse for his
kindness in naming for me this and many other insects, and giving
me much valuable assistance.) I found that this insect emitted the
most brilliant flashes when irritated: in the intervals, the
abdominal rings were obscured. The flash was almost coinstantaneous
in the two rings, but it was just perceptible first in the anterior
one. The shining matter was fluid and very adhesive: little spots,
where the skin had been torn, continued bright with a slight
scintillation, whilst the uninjured parts were obscured. When the
insect was decapitated the rings remained uninterruptedly bright,
but not so brilliant as before: local irritation with a needle
always increased the vividness of the light. The rings in one
instance retained their luminous property nearly twenty-four hours
after the death of the insect. From these facts it would appear
probable, that the animal has only the power of concealing or
extinguishing the light for short intervals, and that at other
times the display is involuntary. On the muddy and wet gravel-walks
I found the larvae of this lampyris in great numbers: they
resembled in general form the female of the English glowworm. These
larvae possessed but feeble luminous powers; very differently from
their parents, on the slightest touch they feigned death, and
ceased to shine; nor did irritation excite any fresh display. I
kept several of them alive for some time: their tails are very
singular organs, for they act, by a well-fitted contrivance, as
suckers or organs of attachment, and likewise as reservoirs for
saliva, or some such fluid. I repeatedly fed them on raw meat; and
I invariably observed, that every now and then the extremity of the
tail was applied to the mouth, and a drop of fluid exuded on the
meat, which was then in the act of being consumed. The tail,
notwithstanding so much practice, does not seem to be able to find
its way to the mouth; at least the neck was always touched first,
and apparently as a guide.

When we were at Bahia, an elater or beetle (Pyrophorus luminosus,
Illig.) seemed the most common luminous insect. The light in this
case was also rendered more brilliant by irritation. I amused
myself one day by observing the springing powers of this insect,
which have not, as it appears to me, been properly described. (2/5.
Kirby's "Entomology" volume 2 page 317.) The elater, when placed on
its back and preparing to spring, moved its head and thorax
backwards, so that the pectoral spine was drawn out, and rested on
the edge of its sheath. The same backward movement being continued,
the spine, by the full action of the muscles, was bent like a
spring; and the insect at this moment rested on the extremity of
its head and wing-cases. The effort being suddenly relaxed, the
head and thorax flew up, and in consequence, the base of the
wing-cases struck the supporting surface with such force, that the
insect by the reaction was jerked upwards to the height of one or
two inches. The projecting points of the thorax, and the sheath of
the spine, served to steady the whole body during the spring. In
the descriptions which I have read, sufficient stress does not
appear to have been laid on the elasticity of the spine: so sudden
a spring could not be the result of simple muscular contraction,
without the aid of some mechanical contrivance.

On several occasions I enjoyed some short but most pleasant
excursions in the neighbouring country. One day I went to the
Botanic Garden, where many plants, well known for their great
utility, might be seen growing. The leaves of the camphor, pepper,
cinnamon, and clove trees were delightfully aromatic; and the
bread-fruit, the jaca, and the mango, vied with each other in the
magnificence of their foliage. The landscape in the neighbourhood
of Bahia almost takes its character from the two latter trees.
Before seeing them, I had no idea that any trees could cast so
black a shade on the ground. Both of them bear to the evergreen
vegetation of these climates the same kind of relation which
laurels and hollies in England do to the lighter green of the
deciduous trees. It may be observed that the houses within the
tropics are surrounded by the most beautiful forms of vegetation,
because many of them are at the same time most useful to man. Who
can doubt that these qualities are united in the banana, the
cocoa-nut, the many kinds of palm, the orange, and the bread-fruit

During this day I was particularly struck with a remark of
Humboldt's, who often alludes to "the thin vapour which, without
changing the transparency of the air, renders its tints more
harmonious, and softens its effects." This is an appearance which I
have never observed in the temperate zones. The atmosphere, seen
through a short space of half or three-quarters of a mile, was
perfectly lucid, but at a greater distance all colours were blended
into a most beautiful haze, of a pale French grey, mingled with a
little blue. The condition of the atmosphere between the morning
and about noon, when the effect was most evident, had undergone
little change, excepting in its dryness. In the interval, the
difference between the dew point and temperature had increased from
7.5 to 17 degrees.

On another occasion I started early and walked to the Gavia, or
topsail mountain. The air was delightfully cool and fragrant; and
the drops of dew still glittered on the leaves of the large
liliaceous plants, which shaded the streamlets of clear water.
Sitting down on a block of granite, it was delightful to watch the
various insects and birds as they flew past. The humming-bird seems
particularly fond of such shady retired spots. Whenever I saw these
little creatures buzzing round a flower, with their wings vibrating
so rapidly as to be scarcely visible, I was reminded of the sphinx
moths: their movements and habits are indeed in many respects very


Following a pathway I entered a noble forest, and from a height of
five or six hundred feet, one of those splendid views was
presented, which are so common on every side of Rio. At this
elevation the landscape attains its most brilliant tint; and every
form, every shade, so completely surpasses in magnificence all that
the European has ever beheld in his own country, that he knows not
how to express his feelings. The general effect frequently recalled
to my mind the gayest scenery of the Opera-house or the great
theatres. I never returned from these excursions empty-handed. This
day I found a specimen of a curious fungus, called Hymenophallus.
Most people know the English Phallus, which in autumn taints the
air with its odious smell: this, however, as the entomologist is
aware, is to some of our beetles a delightful fragrance. So was it
here; for a Strongylus, attracted by the odour, alighted on the
fungus as I carried it in my hand. We here see in two distant
countries a similar relation between plants and insects of the same
families, though the species of both are different. When man is the
agent in introducing into a country a new species this relation is
often broken: as one instance of this I may mention that the leaves
of the cabbages and lettuces, which in England afford food to such
a multitude of slugs and caterpillars, in the gardens near Rio are

During our stay at Brazil I made a large collection of insects. A
few general observations on the comparative importance of the
different orders may be interesting to the English entomologist.
The large and brilliantly-coloured Lepidoptera bespeak the zone
they inhabit, far more plainly than any other race of animals. I
allude only to the butterflies; for the moths, contrary to what
might have been expected from the rankness of the vegetation,
certainly appeared in much fewer numbers than in our own temperate
regions. I was much surprised at the habits of Papilio feronia.
This butterfly is not uncommon, and generally frequents the
orange-groves. Although a high flier, yet it very frequently
alights on the trunks of trees. On these occasions its head is
invariably placed downwards; and its wings are expanded in a
horizontal plane, instead of being folded vertically, as is
commonly the case. This is the only butterfly which I have ever
seen that uses its legs for running. Not being aware of this fact,
the insect, more than once, as I cautiously approached with my
forceps, shuffled on one side just as the instrument was on the
point of closing, and thus escaped. But a far more singular fact is
the power which this species possesses of making a noise. (2/6. Mr.
Doubleday has lately described (before the Entomological Society,
March 3, 1845) a peculiar structure in the wings of this butterfly,
which seems to be the means of its making its noise. He says, "It
is remarkable for having a sort of drum at the base of the fore
wings, between the costal nervure and the subcostal. These two
nervures, moreover, have a peculiar screw-like diaphragm or vessel
in the interior." I find in Langsdorff's travels (in the years
1803-7 page 74) it is said, that in the island of St. Catherine's
on the coast of Brazil, a butterfly called Februa Hoffmanseggi,
makes a noise, when flying away, like a rattle.) Several times when
a pair, probably male and female, were chasing each other in an
irregular course, they passed within a few yards of me; and I
distinctly heard a clicking noise, similar to that produced by a
toothed wheel passing under a spring catch. The noise was continued
at short intervals, and could be distinguished at about twenty
yards' distance: I am certain there is no error in the observation.

I was disappointed in the general aspect of the Coleoptera. The
number of minute and obscurely coloured beetles is exceedingly
great. (2/7. I may mention, as a common instance of one day's (June
23rd) collecting, when I was not attending particularly to the

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