Copyright
Herodotus.

Voyages and travels; ancient and modern online

. (page 32 of 35)
Online LibraryHerodotusVoyages and travels; ancient and modern → online text (page 32 of 35)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


hang all his gold plates about the bones of his arms, thighs,
and legs. Those nations which are called Arzvacas, which
dwell on the south of Orcnoque, of which place and nation
our Indian pilot was, are dispersed in many other places,
and do use to beat the bones of their lords into powder, and
their wives and friends drink it all in their several sorts of
drinks.



DISCOVERY OF GUIANA 353

After we departed from the port of these Ciawani we
passed up the river with the flood and anchored the ebb,
and in this sort we went onward. The third day that we
entered the river, our galley came on ground; and stuck so
fast as we thought that even there our discovery had ended,
and that we must have left four-score and ten of our men
to have inhabited, like rooks upon trees, with those nations.
But the next morning, after we had cast out all her ballast,
with tugging and hauling to and fro we got her afloat and
went on. At four days' end we fell into as goodly a river
as ever I beheld, which was called the great Amana, which
ran more directly without windings and turnings than the
other. But soon after the flood of the sea left us; and,
being enforced either by main strength to row against a
violent current, or to return as wise as we went out, we
had then no shift but to persuade the companies that it was
but two or three days' work, and therefore desired them to
take pains, every gentleman and others taking their turns
to row, and to spell one the other at the hour's end. Every
day we passed by goodly branches of rivers, some falling
from the west, others from the east, into Amana; but those
I leave to the description in the chart of discovery, where
every one shall be named with his rising and descent. When
three days more were overgone, our companies began to
despair, the weather being extreme hot, the river bordered
with very high trees that kept away the air, and the current
against us every day stronger than other. But we ever-
more commanded our pilots to promise an end the next day,
and used it so long as we were driven to assure them from
four reaches of the river to three, and so to two, and so to
the next reach. But so long we laboured that many days
were spent, and we driven to draw ourselves to harder allow-
ance, our bread even at the last, and no drink at all ; and
our men and ourselves so wearied and scorched, and doubtful
withal whether we should ever perform it or no, the heat
increasing as we drew towards the line ; for we were now in
five degrees.

The further we went on, our victual decreasing and the
air breeding great faintness, we grew weaker and weaker,
when we had most need of strength and ability. For hourly

hc xxxin (12)



354 SIR WALTER RALEIGH

the river ran more violently than other against us, and the
barge, wherries, and ship's boat of Captain Gilford and Cap-
tain Caidfield had spent all their provisions ; so as we were
brought into despair and discomfort, had we not persuaded
all the company that it was but only one day's work more to
attain the land where we should be relieved of all we wanted,
and if we returned, that we were sure to starve by the way,
and that the world would also laugh us to scorn. On the
banks of these rivers were divers sorts of fruits good to eat,
flowers and trees of such variety as were sufficient to make
ten volumes of Herbals; we relieved ourselves many times
with the fruits of the country, and sometimes with fowl and
fish. We saw birds of all colours, some carnation, some
crimson, orange-tawny, purple, watchet, 38 and of all other
sorts, both simple and mixed, and it was unto us a great
good-passing of the time to behold them, besides the relief
we found by killing some store of them with our fowling-
pieces ; without which, having little or no bread, and less
drink, but only the thick and troubled water of the river,
we had been in a very hard case.

Our old pilot of the Ciawani, whom, as I said before, we
took to redeem Ferdinando, told us, that if we would
enter a branch of a river on the right hand with our barge
and wherries, and leave the galley at anchor the while in the
great river, he would bring us to a town of the Arzvacas,
where we should find store of bread, hens, fish, and of the
country wine; and persuaded us, that departing from the
galley at noon we might return yere night. I was very glad
to hear this speech, and presently took my barge, with eight
musketeers, Captain Gilford's wherry, with himself and four
musketeers, and Captain Caidfield with his wherry, and as
many; and so we entered the mouth of this river; and be-
cause we were persuaded that it was so near, we took no
victual with us at all. When we had rowed three hours,
we marvelled we saw no sign of any dwelling, and a~ked
the pilot where the town was; he told us, a little further.
After three hours more, the sun being almost set, we
began to suspect that he led us that way to betray us ;
for he confessed that those Spaniards which fled from

38 Pale blue.



DISCOVERY OF GUIANA 355

Trinidad, and also those that remained with Carapana in
Emeria, were joined together in some village upon that
river. But when it grew towards night, and we demanded
where the place was, he told us but four reaches more.
When we had rowed four and four, we saw no sign; and
our poor watermen, even heart-broken and tired, were
ready to give up the ghost; for we had now come from
the galley near forty miles.

At the last we determined to hang the pilot; and if we
had well known the way back again by night, he had
surely gone. But our own necessities pleaded sufficiently
for his safety; for it was as dark as pitch, and the river
began so to narrow itself, and the trees to hang over
from side to side, as we were driven with arming swords
to cut a passage thorough those branches that covered
the water. We were very desirous to find this town hop-
ing of a feast, because we made but a short breakfast aboard
the galley in the morning, and it was now eight o'clock
at night, and our stomachs began to gnaw apace ; but
whether it was best to return or go on, we began to doubt,
suspecting treason in the pilot more and more; but the
poor old Indian ever assured us that it was but a little
further, but this one turning and that turning; and at the
last about one o'clock after midnight we saw a light, and
rowing towards it we heard the dogs of the village. When
we landed we found few people ; for the lord of that place
was gone with divers canoas above 400 miles off, upon
a journey towards the head of Orenoque, to trade for gold,
and to buy women of the Cannibals, who afterwards unfor-
tunately passed by us as we rode at an anchor in the port
of Morequito in the dark of the night, and yet came so
near us as his canoas grated against our barges; he left
one of his company at the port of Morequito, by whom we
understood that he had brought thirty young women, divers
plates of gold, and had great store of fine pieces of cotton
cloth, and cotton beds. In his house we had good store
of bread, fish, hens, and Indian drink, and so rested that
night; and in the morning, after we had traded with such
of his people as came down, we returned towards our galley,
and brought with us some quantity of bread, fish, and hens.



356 SIR WALTER RALEIGH

On both sides of this river we passed the most beautiful

country that ever mine eyes beheld; and whereas all that

we had seen before was nothing but woods, prickles,

bushes, and thorns, here we beheld plains of twenty miles

in length, the grass short and green, and in divers parts

groves of trees 'by themselves, as if they had been by all

the art and labour in the world so made of purpose ; and

still as we rowed, the deer came down feeding by the

water's side as if they had been used to a keeper's call.

Upon this river there were great store of fowl, and of

many sorts; we saw in it divers sorts of strange fishes,

and of marvellous bigness; but for lagartos 37 it exceeded,

for there were thousands of those ugly serpents ; and the

people call it, for the abundance of them, the River of

Lagartos, in their language. I had a negro, a very proper

young fellow, who leaping out of the galley to swim in

the mouth of this river, was in all our sights taken and

devoured with one of those lagartos. In the meanwhile

our companies in the galley thought we had been all lost,

for we promised to return before night ; and sent the Lion's

Whelp's ship's boat with Captain Whiddon to follow us up

the river. But the next day, after we had rowed up and

down some fourscore miles, we returned, and went on our

way up the great river ; and when we were even at the

last cast for want of victuals, Captain Gilford being before

the galley and the rest of the boats, seeking out some place

to land upon the banks to make fire, espied four canoas

coming down the river; and with no small joy caused

his men to try the uttermost of their strengths, and after

a while two of the four gave over and ran themselves

ashore, every man betaking himself to the fastness of the

woods. The two other lesser got away, while he landed

to lay hold on these ; and so turned into some by-creek,

we knew not whither. Those canoas that were taken were

loaden with bread, and were bound for Margarita in the

West Indies, which those Indians, called Arwacas, proposed

to carry thither for exchange ; but in the lesser there were

three Spaniards, who having heard of the defeat of their

Governor in Trinidad, and that we purposed to enter Gniana,

s7 Alligators and caymans.



DISCOVERY OF GUIANA 357

came away in those canoas; one of them was a cavalier o,
as the captain of the Arwacas after told us, another a
soldier and the third a refiner.

In the meantime, nothing on the earth could have been
more welcome to us, next unto gold, than the great store
of very excellent bread which we found in these canoas;
for now our men cried, Let us go on, we care not how
far. After that Captain Gifford had brought the two canoas
to the galley, I took my barge and went to the bank's side
with a dozen shot, where the canoas first ran themselves
ashore, and landed there, sending out Captain Gifford and
Captain Thyn on one hand and Captain Caulfield on the
other, to follow those that were fled into the woods. And
as I was creeping thorough the bushes, I saw an Indian
basket hidden, which was the refiner's basket; for I found
in it his quicksilver, saltpetre, and divers things for the
trial of metals, and also the dust of such ore as he had
refined; but in those canoas which escaped there was a
good quantity of ore and gold. I then landed more men,
and offered five hundred pound to what soldier soever
could take one of those three Spaniards that we thought
were landed. But our labours were in vain in that behalf,
for they put themselves into one of the small canoas, and
so, while the greater canoas were in taking, they escaped.
But seeking after the Spaniards we found the Arwacas
hidden in the woods, which were pilots for the Spaniards,
and rowed their canoas. Of which I kept the chiefest
for a pilot, and carried him with me to Guiana; by whom
I understood where and in what countries the Spaniards
had laboured for gold, though I made not the same known
to all. For when the springs began to break, and the
rivers to raise themselves so suddenly as by no means we
could abide the digging of any mine, especially for that
the richest are defended with rocks of hard stones, which
we call the white spar, and that it required both time, men,
and instruments fit for such a work, I thought it best not
to hover thereabouts, lest if the same had been perceived
by the company, there would have been by this time many
barks and ships set out, and perchance other nations would
also have gotten of ours for pilots. So as both ourselves



358 SIR WALTER RALEIGH

might have been prevented, and all our care taken for
good usage of the people been utterly lost, by those that
only respect present profit ; and such violence or insolence
offered as the nations which are borderers would have
changed the desire of our love and defence into hatred and
violence. And for any longer stay to have brought a more
quantity, which I hear hath been often objected, whosoever
had seen or proved the fury of that river after it began to
arise, and had been a month and odd days, as we were,
from hearing aught from our ships, leaving them meanly
manned 400 miles off, would perchance have turned some-
what sooner than we did, if all the mountains had been gold,
or rich stones. And to say the truth, all the branches and
small rivers which fell into Orenoque were raised with such
speed, as if we waded them over the shoes in the morning
outward, we were covered to the shoulders homeward the
very same day ; and to stay to dig our gold with our nails,
had been opus laboris but not ingenii. Such a quantity as
would have served our turns we could not have had, but a
discovery of the mines to our infinite disadvantage we had
made, and that could have been the best profit of farther
search or stay; for those mines are not easily broken, nor
opened in haste, and I could have returned a good quantity
of gold ready cast if I had not shot at another mark than
present profit.

This Arwacan pilot, with the rest, feared that we would
have eaten them, or otherwise have put them to some cruel
death: for the Spaniards, to the end that none of the people
in the passage towards Guiana, or in Guiana itself, might
come to speech with us, persuaded all the nations that we
were men-eaters and cannibals. But when the poor men
and women had seen us, and that we gave them meat, and to
every one something or other which was rare and strange
to them, they began to conceive the deceit and purpose of
the Spaniards, who indeed, as they confessed, took from
them both their wives and daughters daily . . . But I pro-
test before the Majesty of the living God, that I neither
know nor believe, that any of our company, one or other, did
offer insult to any of their women, and yet we saw many
hundreds, and had many in our power, and of those very



DISCOVERY OF GUIANA 359

young and excellently favoured, which came among us with-
out deceit, stark naked. Nothing got us more love amongst
them than this usage; for I suffered not any man to take
from any of the nations so much as a pina 38 or a potato root
without giving them contentment, nor any man so much as
to offer to touch any of their wives or daughters; which
course, so contrary to the Spaniards, who tyrannize over
them in all things, drew them to admire her Majesty, whose
commandment I told them it was, and also wonderfully to
honour our nation. But I confess it was a very impatient
work to keep the meaner sort from spoil and stealing when
we came to their houses; which because in all I could not
prevent, I caused my Indian interpreter at every place when
we departed, to know of the loss or wrong done, and if aught
were stolen or taken by violence, either the same was re-
stored, and the party punished in their sight, or else was
paid for to their uttermost demand." They also much won-
dered at us, after they heard that we had slain the Spaniards
at Trinidad, for they were before resolved that no nation
of Christians durst abide their presence ; and they wondered
more when I had made them know of the great overthrow
that her Majesty's army and fleet had given them of late
years in their own countries.

After we had taken in this supply of bread, with divers
baskets of roots, which were excellent meat, I gave one of
the canoas to the Arwacas, which belonged to the Spaniards
that were escaped; and when I had dismissed all but the
captain, who by the Spaniards was christened Martin, I sent
back in the same canoa the old Ciawani, and Ferdinando, my
first pilot, and gave them both such things as they desired,
with sufficient victual to carry them back, and by them wrote
a letter to the ships, which they promised to deliver, and
performed it ; and then I went on, with my new hired pilot,
Martin the Arwacan. But the next or second day after, we
came aground again with our galley, and were like to cast
her away, with all our victual and provision, and so lay on
the sand one whole night, and were far more in despair at
this time to free her than before, because we had no tide of
flood to help us, and therefore feared that all our hopes

M Pine-apple (see p. 365).



360 SIR WALTER RALEIGH

would have ended in mishaps. But we fastened an anchor
upon the land, and with main strength drew her off; and so
the fifteenth day we discovered afar off the mountains of
Guiana, to our great joy, and towards the evening had a
slent 39 of a northerly wind that blew very strong, which
brought us in sight of the great river Orenoque; out of
which this river descended wherein we were. We descried
afar off three other canoas as far as we could discern them,
after whom we hastened with our barge and wherries, but
two of them passed out of sight, and the third entered up the
great river, on the right hand to the westward, and there
stayed out of sight, thinking that we meant to take the way
eastward towards the province of Carapana; for that way
the Spaniards keep, not daring to go upwards to Guiana,
the people in those parts being all their enemies, and those
in the canoas thought us to have been those Spaniards that
were fled from Trinidad, and escaped killing. And when
we came so far down as the opening of that branch into
which they slipped, being near them with our barge and
wherries, we made after them, and yere they could land
came within call, and by our interpreter told them what we
were, wherewith they came back willingly aboard us ; and
of such fish and tortugas' i0 eggs as they had gathered they
gave us, and promised in the morning to bring the lord of
that part with them, and to do us all other services they
could. That night we came to an anchor at the parting of the
three goodly rivers (the one was the river of Amana, by
which we came from the north, and ran athwart towards
+he south, the other two were of Orenoque, which crossed
from the west and ran to the sea towards the east) and
landed upon a fair sand, where we found thousands of
tortugas' eggs, which are very wholesome meat, and greatly
restoring; so as our men were now well filled and highly
contented both with the fare, and nearness of the land of
Guiana, which appeared in sight.

In the morning there came down, according to promise,
the lord of that border, called Toparimaca, with some thirty
or forty followers, and brought us divers sorts of fruits, and
of his wine, bread, fish, and flesh, whom we also feasted as

Push. * Turtles.



DISCOVERY OF GUIANA 361

we could; at least we drank good Spanish wine, whereof
we had a small quantity in bottles, which above all things
they love. I conferred with this Toparimaca of the next"
way to Guiana, who conducted our galley and boats to his
own port, and carried us from thence some mile and a-half
to his town; where some of our captains garoused 42 of his
wine till they were reasonable pleasant, for it is very strong
with pepper, and the juice of divers herbs and fruits digested
and purged. They keep it in great earthen pots of ten or
twelve gallons, very clean and sweet, and are themselves at
their meetings and feasts the greatest carousers and drunk-
ards of the world. When we came to his town we found two
caciques, whereof one was a stranger that had been up the
river in trade, and his boats, people, and wife encamped at
the port where we anchored; and the other was of that
country, a follower of Toparimaca. They lay each of them
in a cotton hamaca, which we call Brazil beds, and two
women attending them with six cups, and a little ladle to
fill them out of an earthen pitcher of wine; and so they
drank each of them three of those cups at a time one to the
other, and in this sort they drink drunk at their feasts and
meetings.

That cacique that was a stranger had his wife staying at
the port where we anchored, and in all my life I have seldom
seen a better favoured woman. She was of good stature,
with black eyes, fat of body, of an excellent countenance,
her hair almost as long as herself, tied up again in pretty
knots ; and it seemed she stood not in that awe of her hus-
band as the rest, for she spake and discoursed, and drank
among the gentlemen and captains, and was very pleasant,
knowing her own comeliness, and taking great pride therein.
I have seen a lady in England so like to her, as but for the
difference of colour, I would have sworn might have been
the same.

The seat of this town of Toparimaca was very pleasant,
standing on a little hill, in an excellent prospect, with goodly
gardens a mile compass round about it, and two very fair
and large ponds of excellent fish adjoining. This town is
called Arowocai; the people are of the nation called Ncpoios,

41 Nearest. ** Caroused.



362 SIR WALTER RALEIGH

and are followers of Carapana. In that place I saw very
aged people, that we might perceive all their sinews and
veins without any flesh, and but even as a case covered only
with skin. The lord of this place gave me an old man for
pilot, who was of great experience and travel, and knew the
river most perfectly both by day and night. And it shall be
requisite for any man that passeth it to have such a pilot;
for it is four, five, and six miles over in many places, and
twenty miles in other places, with wonderful eddies and
strong currents, many great islands, and divers shoals, and
many dangerous rocks; and besides upon any increase of
wind so great a billow, as we were sometimes in great peril
of drowning in the galley, for the small boats durst not come
from the shore but when it was very fair.

The next day we hasted thence, and having an easterly
wind to help us, we spared our arms from rowing; for after
we entered Orenoque, the river lieth for the most part east
and west, even from the sea unto Quito, in Peru. This river
is navigable with barks little less than iooo miles; and from
the place where we entered it may be sailed up in small pin-
naces to many of the best parts of Nuevo Reyno de Granada
and of Popayan. And from no place may the cities of these
parts of the Indies be so easily taken and invaded as from
hence. 43 All that day we sailed up a branch of that river,
having on the left hand a great island, which they call Assa-
pana, which may contain some five-and-twenty miles in
length, and six miles in breadth, the great body of the river
running on the other side of this island. Beyond that middle
branch there is also another island in the river, called Izvana,
which is twice as big as the Isle of Wight; and beyond it,
and between it and the main of Guiana, runneth a third
branch of Orenoque, called Arraroopana. All three are
goodly branches, and all navigable for great ships. I judge
the river in this place to be at least thirty miles broad,
reckoning the islands which divide the branches in it, for
afterwards I sought also both the other branches.

After we reached to the head of the island called Assapana,
a little to the westward on the right hand there opened a

43 Raleigh regarded the occupation of ' Guiana ' as a step towards the
conquest of New Granada and Peru (see pp. 374-375.)



DISCOVERY OF GUIANA 363

river which came from the north, called Europa, and fell
into the great river; and beyond it on the same side we an-
chored for that night by another island, six miles long and
two miles broad, which they call Ocaywita. From hence, in
the morning, we landed two Guianians, which we found in
the town of Toparimaca, that came with us ; who went to give
notice of our coming to the lord of that country, called
Putyma, a follower of Topiawari, chief lord of Aromaia,
who succeeded Morequito, whom (as you have heard before)
Berreo put to death. But his town being far within the
land, he came not unto us that day; so as we anchored again
that night near the banks of another land, of bigness much
like the other, which they call Putapayma, over against which
island, on the main land, was a very high mountain called
Oecope. We coveted to anchor rather by these islands in
the river than by the main, because of the tortugas' eggs,
which our people found on them in great abundance; and
also because the ground served better for us to cast our nets
for fish, the main banks being for the most part stony and
high and the rocks of a blue, metalline colour, like unto the
best steel ore, which I assuredly take it to be. Of the same



Online LibraryHerodotusVoyages and travels; ancient and modern → online text (page 32 of 35)