Travels to the Equinoctial Regions of America, by Alexander von Humboldt

Chapter 9.

Physical Constitution and Manners of the Chaymas. Their Language. Filiation of the Nations which Inhabit New Andalucia. Pariagotos Seen by Columbus.

I did not wish to mingle with the narrative of our journey to the Missions of Caripe any general considerations on the different tribes of the indigenous inhabitants of New Andalusia; their manners, their languages, and their common origin. Having returned to the spot whence we set out, I shall now bring into one point of view these considerations which are so nearly connected with the history of the human race. As we advance into the interior of the country, these subjects will become even more interesting than the phenomena of the physical world. The north-east part of equinoctial America, Terra Firma, and the banks of the Orinoco, resemble in respect to the numerous races of people who inhabit them, the defiles of the Caucasus, the mountains of Hindookho, at the northern extremity of Asia, beyond the Tungouses, and the Tartare settled at the mouth of the Lena. The barbarism which prevails throughout these different regions is perhaps less owing to a primitive absence of all kind of civilization, than to the effects of long degradation; for most of the hordes which we designate under the name of savages, are probably the descendants of nations highly advanced in cultivation. How can we distinguish the prolonged infancy of the human race (if, indeed, it anywhere exists), from that state of moral degradation in which solitude, want, compulsory misery, forced migration, or rigour of climate, obliterate even the traces of civilization? If everything connected with the primitive state of man, and the first population of a continent, could from its nature belong to the domain of history, we might appeal to the traditions of India. According to the opinion frequently expressed in the laws of Menou and in the Ramajan, savages were regarded as tribes banished from civilized society, and driven into the forests. The word barbarian, which we have borrowed from the Greeks and Romans, was possibly merely the proper name of one of those rude hordes.

In the New World, at the beginning of the conquest, the natives were collected into large societies only on the ridge of the Cordilleras and the coasts opposite to Asia. The plains, covered with forests, and intersected by rivers; the immense savannahs, extending eastward, and bounding the horizon; were inhabited by wandering hordes, separated by differences of language and manners, and scattered like the remnants of a vast wreck. In the absence of all other monuments, we may endeavour, from the analogy of languages, and the study of the physical constitution of man, to group the different tribes, to follow the traces of their distant emigrations, and to discover some of those family features by which the ancient unity of our species is manifested.

In the mountainous regions which we have just traversed — in the two provinces of Cumana and New Barcelona, the natives, or primitive inhabitants, still constitute about one-half of the scanty population. Their number may be reckoned at sixty thousand; of which twenty-four thousand inhabit New Andalusia. This number is very considerable, when compared with that of the hunting nations of North America; but it appears small, when we consider those parts of New Spain in which agriculture has existed more than eight centuries: for instance, the Intendencia of Oaxaca, which includes the Mixteca and the Tzapoteca of the old Mexican empire. This Intendencia is one-third smaller than the two provinces of Cumana and Barcelona; yet it contains more than four hundred thousand natives of pure copper-coloured race. The Indians of Cumana do not all live within the Missions. Some are dispersed in the neighbourhood of the towns, along the coasts, to which they are attracted by the fisheries, and some dwell in little farms on the plains or savannahs. The Missions of the Aragonese Capuchins which we visited, alone contain fifteen thousand Indians, almost all of the Chayma race. The villages, however, are less populous there than in the province of Barcelona. Their average population is only between five or six hundred Indians; while more to the west, in the Missions of the Franciscans of Piritu, we find Indian villages containing two or three thousand inhabitants. In computing at sixty thousand the number of natives in the provinces of Cumana and Barcelona, I include only those who inhabit the mainland, and not the Guayquerias of the island of Margareta, and the great mass of the Guaraunos, who have preserved their independence in the islands formed by the Delta of the Orinoco. The number of these is generally reckoned at six or eight thousand; but this estimate appears to me to be exaggerated. Except a few families of Guaraunos who roam occasionally in the marshy grounds, called Los Morichales, and between the Cano de Manamo and the Rio Guarapiche, consequently, on the continent itself, there have not been for these thirty years, any Indian savages in New Andalusia.

I use with regret the word savage, because it implies a difference of cultivation between the reduced Indian, living in the Missions, and the free or independent Indian; a difference which is often belied by fact. In the forests of South America there are tribes of natives, peacefully united in villages, and who render obedience to chiefs.* They cultivate the plantain-tree, cassava, and cotton, on a tolerably extensive tract of ground, and they employ the cotton for weaving hammocks. These people are scarcely more barbarous than the naked Indians of the Missions, who have been taught to make the sign of the cross. It is a common error in Europe, to look on all natives not reduced to a state of subjection, as wanderers and hunters. Agriculture was practised on the American continent long before the arrival of Europeans. It is still practised between the Orinoco and the river Amazon, in lands cleared amidst the forests, places to which the missionaries have never penetrated. It would be to imbibe false ideas respecting the actual condition of the nations of South America, to consider as synonymous the denominations of ‘Christian,’ ‘reduced,’ and ‘civilized;’ and those of ‘pagan,’ ‘savage,’ and ‘independent.’ The reduced Indian is often as little of a Christian as the independent Indian is of an idolater. Both, alike occupied by the wants of the moment, betray a marked indifference for religious sentiments, and a secret tendency to the worship of nature and her powers. This worship belongs to the earliest infancy of nations; it excludes idols, and recognises no other sacred places than grottoes, valleys, and woods.

[* These chiefs bear the designations of Pecannati, Apoto, or Sibierne.]

If the independent Indians have nearly disappeared for a century past northward of the Orinoco and the Apure, that is, from the Snowy Mountains of Merida to the promontory of Paria, it must not thence be concluded, that there are fewer natives at present in those regions, than in the time of the bishop of Chiapa, Bartolomeo de las Casas. In my work on Mexico, I have shown that it is erroneous to regard as a general fact the destruction and diminution of the Indians in the Spanish colonies. There still exist more than six millions of the copper-coloured race, in both Americas; and, though numberless tribes and languages are either extinct, or confounded together, it is beyond a doubt that, within the tropics, in that part of the New World where civilization has penetrated only since the time of Columbus, the number of natives has considerably increased. Two of the Carib villages in the Missions of Piritu or of Carony, contain more families than four or five of the settlements on the Orinoco. The state of society among the Caribbees who have preserved their independence, at the sources of the Essequibo and to the south of the mountains of Pacaraimo, sufficiently proves how much, even among that fine race of men, the population of the Missions exceeds in number that of the free and confederate Caribbees. Besides, the state of the savages of the torrid zone is not like that of the savages of the Missouri. The latter require a vast extent of country, because they live only by hunting; whilst the Indians of Spanish Guiana employ themselves in cultivating cassava and plantains. A very little ground suffices to supply them with food. They do not dread the approach of the whites, like the savages of the United States; who, being progressively driven back behind the Alleghany mountains, the Ohio, and the Mississippi, lose their means of subsistence, in proportion as they find themselves reduced within narrow limits. Under the temperate zone, whether in the provincias internas of Mexico, or in Kentucky, the contact of European colonists has been fatal to the natives, because that contact is immediate.

These causes have no existence in the greater part of South America. Agriculture, within the tropics, does not require great extent of ground. The whites advance slowly. The religious orders have founded their establishments between the domain of the colonists and the territory of the free Indians. The Missions may be considered as intermediary states. They have doubtless encroached on the liberty of the natives; but they have almost everywhere tended to the increase of population, which is incompatible with the restless life of the independent Indians. As the missionaries advance towards the forests, and gain on the natives, the white colonists in their turn seek to invade in the opposite direction the territory of the Missions. In this protracted struggle, the secular arm continually tends to withdraw the reduced Indian from the monastic hierarchy, and the missionaries are gradually superseded by vicars. The whites, and the castes of mixed blood, favoured by the corregidors, establish themselves among the Indians. The Missions become Spanish villages, and the natives lose even the remembrance of their natural language. Such is the progress of civilization from the coasts toward the interior; a slow progress, retarded by the passions of man, but nevertheless sure and steady.

The provinces of New Andalusia and Barcelona, comprehended under the name of Govierno de Cumana, at present include in their population more than fourteen tribes. Those in New Andalusia are the Chaymas, Guayqueries, Pariagotos, Quaquas, Aruacas, Caribbees, and Guaraunos; in the province of Barcelona, Cumanagotos, Palenkas, Caribbees, Piritus, Tomuzas, Topocuares, Chacopatas, and Guarivas. Nine or ten of these fifteen tribes consider themselves to be of races entirely distinct. The exact number of the Guaraunos, who make their huts on the trees at the mouth of the Orinoco, is unknown; the Guayqueries, in the suburbs of Cumana and in the peninsula of Araya, amount to two thousand. Among the other Indian tribes, the Chaymas of the mountains of Caripe, the Caribs of the southern savannahs of New Barcelona, and the Cumanagotos in the Missions of Piritu, are most numerous. Some families of Guaraunos have been reduced and dwell in Missions on the left bank of the Orinoco, where the Delta begins. The languages of the Guaraunos and that of the Caribs, of the Cumanagotos and of the Chaymas, are the most general. They seem to belong to the same stock; and they exhibit in their grammatical forms those affinities, which, to use a comparison taken from languages more known, connect the Greek, the German, the Persian, and the Sanscrit.

Notwithstanding these affinities, we must consider the Chaymas, the Guaraunos, the Caribbees, the Quaquas, the Aruacas or Arrawaks, and the Cumanagotos, as different nations. I would not venture to affirm the same of the Guayqueries, the Pariagotos, the Piritus, the Tomuzas, and the Chacopatas. The Guayquerias themselves admit the analogy between their language and that of the Guaraunos. Both are a littoral race, like the Malays of the ancient continent. With respect to the tribes who at present speak the Cumanagota, Caribbean, and Chayma tongues, it is difficult to decide on their first origin, and their relations with other nations formerly more powerful. The historians of the conquest, as well as the ecclesiastics who have described the progress of the Missions, continually confound, like the ancients, geographical denominations with the names of races. They speak of Indians of Cumana and of the coast of Paria, as if the proximity of abode proved the identity of origin. They most commonly even give to tribes the names of their chiefs, or of the mountains or valleys they inhabit. This circumstance, by infinitely multiplying the number of tribes, gives an air of uncertainty to all that the monks relate respecting the heterogeneous elements of which the population of their Missions are composed. How can we now decide, whether the Tomuza and Piritu be of different races, when both speak the Cumanagoto language, which is the prevailing tongue in the western part of the Govierno of Cumana; as the Caribbean and the Chayma are in the southern and eastern parts. A great analogy of physical constitution increases the difficulty of these inquiries. In the new continent a surprising variety of languages is observed among nations of the same origin, and which European travellers scarcely distinguish by their features; while in the old continent very different races of men, the Laplanders, the Finlanders, and the Estonians, the Germanic nations and the Hindoos, the Persians and the Kurds, the Tartar and Mongol tribes, speak languages, the mechanism and roots of which present the greatest analogy.

The Indians of the American Missions are all agriculturists. Excepting those who inhabit the high mountains, they all cultivate the same plants; their huts are arranged in the same manner; their days of labour, their work in the conuco of the community; their connexions with the missionaries and the magistrates chosen from among themselves, are all subject to uniform regulations. Nevertheless (and this fact is very remarkable in the history of nations), these analogous circumstances have not effaced the individual features, or the shades of character which distinguish the American tribes. We observe in the men of copper hue, a moral inflexibility, a steadfast perseverance in habits and manners, which, though modified in each tribe, characterise essentially the whole race. These peculiarities are found in every region; from the equator to Hudson’s Bay on the one hand, and to the Straits of Magellan on the other. They are connected with the physical organization of the natives, but they are powerfully favoured by the monastic system.

There exist in the missions few villages in which the different families do not belong to different tribes and speak different languages. Societies composed of elements thus heterogeneous are difficult to govern. In general, the monks have united whole nations, or great portions of the same nations, in villages situated near to each other. The natives see only those of their own tribe; for the want of communication, and the isolated state of the people, are essential points in the policy of the missionaries. The reduced Chaymas, Caribs, and Tamanacs, retain their natural physiognomy, whilst they have preserved their languages. If the individuality of man be in some sort reflected in his idioms, these in their turn re-act on his ideas and sentiments. It is this intimate connection between language, character, and physical constitution, which maintains and perpetuates the diversity of nations; that unfailing source of life and motion in the intellectual world.

The missionaries may have prohibited the Indians from following certain practices and observing certain ceremonies; they may have prevented them from painting their skin, from making incisions on their chins, noses and cheeks; they may have destroyed among the great mass of the people superstitious ideas, mysteriously transmitted from father to son in certain families; but it has been easier for them to proscribe customs and efface remembrances, than to substitute new ideas in the place of the old ones.

The Indian of the Mission is secure of subsistence; and being released from continual struggles against hostile powers, from conflicts with the elements and man, he leads a more monotonous life, less active, and less fitted to inspire energy of mind, than the habits of the wild or independent Indian. He possesses that mildness of character which belongs to the love of repose; not that which arises from sensibility and the emotions of the soul. The sphere of his ideas is not enlarged, where, having no intercourse with the whites, he remains a stranger to those objects with which European civilization has enriched the New World. All his actions seem prompted by the wants of the moment. Taciturn, serious, and absorbed in himself; he assumes a sedate and mysterious air. When a person has resided but a short time in the Missions, and is but little familiarized with the aspect of the natives, he is led to mistake their indolence, and the torpid state of their faculties, for the expression of melancholy, and a meditative turn of mind.

I have dwelt on these features of the Indian character, and on the different modifications which that character exhibits under the government of the missionaries, with the view of rendering more intelligible the observations which form the subject of the present chapter. I shall begin by the nation of the Chaymas, of whom more than fifteen thousand inhabit the Missions above noticed. The Chayma nation, which Father Francisco of Pampeluna* began to reduce to subjection in the middle of the seventeenth century, has the Cumanagotos on the west, the Guaraunos on the east, and the Caribbees on the south. Their territory occupies a space along the elevated mountains of the Cocollar and the Guacharo, the banks of the Guarapiche, of the Rio Colorado, of the Areo, and of the Cano de Caripe. According to a statistical survey made with great care by the father prefect, there were, in the Missions of the Aragonese Capuchins of Cumana, nineteen Mission villages, of which the oldest was established in 1728, containing one thousand four hundred and sixty-five families, and six thousand four hundred and thirty-three persons: sixteen doctrina villages, of which the oldest dates from 1660, containing one thousand seven hundred and sixty-six families, and eight thousand one hundred and seventy persons. These Missions suffered greatly in 1681, 1697, and 1720, from the invasions of the Caribbees (then independent), who burnt whole villages. From 1730 to 1736, the population was diminished by the ravages of the small-pox, a disease always more fatal to the copper-coloured Indians than to the whites. Many of the Guaraunos, who had been assembled together, fled back again to their native marshes. Fourteen old Missions were deserted, and have not been rebuilt.

[* The name of this monk, celebrated for his intrepidity, is still revered in the province. He sowed the first seeds of civilization among these mountains. He had long been captain of a ship; and before he became a monk, was known by the name of Tiburtio Redin.]

The Chaymas are in general short of stature and thick-set. Their shoulders are extremely broad, and their chests flat. Their limbs are well rounded, and fleshy. Their colour is the same as that of the whole American race, from the cold table-lands of Quito and New Grenada to the burning plains of the Amazon. It is not changed by the varied influence of climate; it is connected with organic peculiarities which for ages past have been unalterably transmitted from generation to generation. If the uniform tint of the skin be redder and more coppery towards the north, it is, on the contrary, among the Chaymas, of a dull brown inclining to tawny. The denomination of copper-coloured men could never have originated in equinoctial America to designate the natives.

The expression of the countenance of the Chaymas, without being hard or stern, has something sedate and gloomy. The forehead is small, and but little prominent, and in several languages of these countries, to express the beauty of a woman, they say that ‘she is fat, and has a narrow forehead.’ The eyes of the Chaymas are black, deep-set, and very elongated: but they are neither so obliquely placed, nor so small, as in the people of the Mongol race. The corner of the eye is, however, raised up towards the temple; the eyebrows are black, or dark brown, thin, and but little arched; the eyelids are edged with very long eyelashes, and the habit of casting them down, as if from lassitude, gives a soft expression to the women, and makes the eye thus veiled appear less than it really is. Though the Chaymas, and in general all the natives of South America and New Spain, resemble the Mongol race in the form of the eye, in their high cheek-bones, their straight and smooth hair, and the almost total absence of beard; yet they essentially differ from them in the form of the nose. In the South Americans this feature is rather long, prominent through its whole length, and broad at the nostrils, the openings of which are directed downward, as with all the nations of the Caucasian race. Their wide mouths, with lips but little protuberant though broad, have generally an expression of good nature. The passage from the nose to the mouth is marked in both sexes by two furrows, which run diverging from the nostrils towards the corners of the mouth. The chin is extremely short and round; and the jaws are remarkable for strength and width.

Though the Chaymas have fine white teeth, like all people who lead a very simple life, they are, however, not so strong as those of the Negroes. The habit of blackening the teeth, from the age of fifteen, by the juices of certain herbs* and caustic lime, attracted the attention of the earliest travellers; but the practice has now fallen quite into disuse. Such have been the migrations of the different tribes in these countries, particularly since the incursions of the Spaniards, who carried on the slave-trade, that it may be inferred the inhabitants of Paria visited by Christopher Columbus and by Ojeda, were not of the same race as the Chaymas. I doubt much whether the custom of blackening the teeth was originally suggested, as Gomara supposed, by absurd notions of beauty, or was practised with the view of preventing the toothache. * This disorder is, however, almost unknown to the Indians; and the whites suffer seldom from it in the Spanish colonies, at least in the warm regions, where the temperature is so uniform. They are more exposed to it on the back of the Cordilleras, at Santa Fe, and at Popayan.

[* The early historians of the conquest state that the blackening of the teeth was effected by the leaves of a tree which the natives called hay, and which resembled the myrtle. Among nations very distant from each other, the pimento bears a similar name; among the Haitians aji or ahi, among the Maypures of the Orinoco, ai. Some stimulant and aromatic plants, which mostly belonging to the genus capsicum, were designated by the same name.]

[* The tribes seen by the Spaniards on the coast of Paria, probably observed the practice of stimulating the organs of taste by caustic lime, as other races employed tobacco, the chimo, the leaves of the coca, or the betel. This practice exists even in our days, but more towards the west, among the Guajiros, at the mouth of the Rio de la Hacha. These Indians, still savage, carry small shells, calcined and powdered, in the husk of a fruit, which serves them as a vessel for various purposes, suspended to their girdle. The powder of the Guajiros is an article of commerce, as was anciently, according to Gomara, that of the Indians of Paria. The immoderate habit of smoking also makes the teeth yellow and blackens them; but would it be just to conclude from this fact, that Europeans smoke because we think yellow teeth handsomer than white?]

The Chaymas, like almost all the native nations I have seen, have small, slender hands. Their feet are large, and their toes retain an extraordinary mobility. All the Chaymas have a sort of family look; and this resemblance, so often observed by travellers, is the more striking, as between the ages of twenty and fifty, difference of years is no way denoted by wrinkles of the skin, colour of the hair, or decrepitude of the body. On entering a hut, it is often difficult among adult persons to distinguish the father from the son, and not to confound one generation with another. I attribute this air of family resemblance to two different causes, the local situation of the Indian tribes, and their inferior degree of intellectual culture. Savage nations are subdivided into an infinity of tribes, which, bearing violent hatred one to another, form no intermarriages, even when their languages spring from the same root, and when only a small arm of a river, or a group of hills, separates their habitations. The less numerous the tribes, the more the intermarriages repeated for ages between the same families tend to fix a certain similarity of conformation, an organic type, which may be called national. This type is preserved under the system of the Missions, each Mission being formed by a single horde, and marriages being contracted only between the inhabitants of the same hamlet. Those ties of blood which unite almost a whole nation, are indicated in a simple manner in the language of the Indians born in the Missions, or by those who, after having been taken from the woods, have learned Spanish. To designate the individuals who belong to the same tribe, they employ the expression mis parientes, my relations.

With these causes, common to all isolated classes, and the effects of which are observable among the Jews of Europe, among the different castes of India, and among mountain nations in general, are combined some other causes hitherto unnoticed. I have observed elsewhere, that it is intellectual culture which most contributes to diversify the features. Barbarous nations have a physiognomy of tribe or of horde, rather than individuality of look or features. The savage and civilized man are like those animals of an individual species, some of which roam in the forest, while others, associated with mankind, share the benefits and evils which accompany civilization. Varieties of form and colour are frequent only in domestic animals. How great is the difference, with respect to mobility of features and variety of physiognomy, between dogs which have again returned to the savage state in the New World, and those whose slightest caprices are indulged in the houses of the opulent! Both in men and animals the emotions of the soul are reflected in the features; and the countenance acquires the habit of mobility, in proportion as the emotions of the mind are frequent, varied, and durable. But the Indian of the Missions, being remote from all cultivation, influenced only by his physical wants, satisfying almost without difficulty his desires, in a favoured climate, drags on a dull, monotonous life. The greatest equality prevails among the members of the same community; and this uniformity, this sameness of situation, is pictured on the features of the Indians.

Under the system of the monks, violent passions, such as resentment and anger, agitate the native more rarely than when he lives in the forest. When man in a savage state yields to sudden and impetuous emotions, his physiognomy, till then calm and unruffled, changes instantly to convulsive contortions. His passion is transient in proportion to its violence. With the Indians of the Missions, as I have often observed on the Orinoco, anger is less violent, less earnest, but of longer duration. Besides, in every condition of man, it is not the energetic or the transient outbreaks of the passions, which give expression to the features. It is rather that sensibility of the soul, which brings us continually into contact with the external world, multiplies our sufferings and our pleasures, and re-acts at once on the physiognomy, the manners, and the language. If the variety and mobility of the features embellish the domain of animated nature, we must admit also, that both increase by civilization, without being solely produced by it. In the great family of nations, no other race unites these advantages in so high a degree as the Caucasian or European. It is only in white men that the instantaneous penetration of the dermoidal system by the blood can produce that slight change of the colour of the skin which adds so powerful an expression to the emotions of the soul. “How can those be trusted who know not how to blush?” says the European, in his dislike of the Negro and the Indian. We must also admit, that immobility of features is not peculiar to every race of men of dark complexion: it is much less marked in the African than in the natives of America.

The Chaymas, like all savage people who dwell in excessively hot regions, have an insuperable aversion to clothing. The writers of the middle ages inform us, that in the north of Europe, articles of clothing distributed by missionaries, greatly contributed to the conversion of the pagan. In the torrid zone, on the contrary, the natives are ashamed (as they say) to be clothed; and flee to the woods, when they are compelled to cover themselves. Among the Chaymas, in spite of the remonstrances of the monks, men and women remain unclothed within their houses. When they go into the villages they put on a kind of tunic of cotton, which scarcely reaches to the knees. The men’s tunics have sleeves; but women, and young boys to the age of ten or twelve, have the arms, shoulders, and upper part of the breast uncovered. The tunic is so shaped, that the fore-part is joined to the back by two narrow bands, which cross the shoulders. When we met the natives, out of the boundaries of the Mission, we saw them, especially in rainy weather, stripped of their clothes, and holding their shirts rolled up under their arms. They preferred letting the rain fall on their bodies to wetting their clothes. The elder women hid themselves behind trees, and burst into loud fits of laughter when they saw us pass. The missionaries complain that in general the young girls are not more alive to feelings of decency than the men. Ferdinand Columbus* relates that, in 1498, his father found the women in the island of Trinidad without any clothing; while the men wore the guayuco, which is rather a narrow bandage than an apron. At the same period, on the coast of Paria, young girls were distinguished from married women, either, as Cardinal Bembo states, by being quite unclothed, or, according to Gomara, by the colour of the guayuco. This bandage, which is still in use among the Chaymas, and all the naked nations of the Orinoco, is only two or three inches broad, and is tied on both sides to a string which encircles the waist. Girls are often married at the age of twelve; and until they are nine years old, the missionaries allow them to go to church unclothed, that is to say, without a tunic. Among the Chaymas, as well as in all the Spanish Missions and the Indian villages, a pair of drawers, a pair of shoes, or a hat, are objects of luxury unknown to the natives. An Indian servant, who had been with us during our journey to Caripe and the Orinoco, and whom I brought to France, was so much struck, on landing, when he saw the ground tilled by a peasant with his hat on, that he thought himself in a miserable country, where even the nobles (los mismos caballeros) followed the plough. The Chayma women are not handsome, according to the ideas we annex to beauty; yet the young girls have a look of softness and melancholy, contrasting agreeably with the expression of the mouth, which is somewhat harsh and wild. They wear their hair plaited in two long tresses; they do not paint their skin; and wear no other ornaments than necklaces and bracelets made of shells, birds’ bones, and seeds. Both men and women are very muscular, but at the same time fleshy and plump. I saw no person who had any natural deformity; and I may say the same of thousands of Caribs, Muyscas, and Mexican and Peruvian Indians, whom we observed during the course of five years. Bodily deformities, and deviations from nature, are exceedingly rare among certain races of men, especially those who have the epidermis highly coloured; but I cannot believe that they depend solely on the progress of civilization, a luxurious life, or the corruption of morals. In Europe a deformed or very ugly girl marries, if she happen to have a fortune, and the children often inherit the deformity of the mother. In the savage state, which is a state of equality, no consideration can induce a man to unite himself to a deformed woman, or one who is very unhealthy. Such a woman, if she resist the accidents of a restless and troubled life, dies without children. We might be tempted to think, that savages all appear well-made and vigorous, because feeble children die young for want of care, and only the strongest survive; but these causes cannot operate among the Indians of the Missions, whose manners are like those of our peasants, or among the Mexicans of Cholula and Tlascala, who enjoy wealth, transmitted to them by ancestors more civilized than themselves. If, in every state of cultivation, the copper-coloured race manifests the same inflexibility, the same resistance to deviation from a primitive type, are we not forced to admit that this peculiarity belongs in great measure to hereditary organization, to that which constitutes the race? With copper-coloured men, as with whites, luxury and effeminacy weaken the physical constitution, and heretofore deformities were more common at Cuzco and Tenochtitlan. Among the Mexicans of the present day, who are all labourers, leading the most simple lives, Montezuma would not have found those dwarfs and humpbacks whom Bernal Diaz saw waiting at his table when he dined.* The custom of marrying very young, according to the testimony of the monks, is no way detrimental to population. This precocious nubility depends on the race, and not on the influence of a climate excessively warm. It is found on the north-west coast of America, among the Esquimaux, and in Asia, among the Kamtschatdales, and the Koriaks, where girls of ten years old are often mothers. It may appear astonishing, that the time of gestation — the duration of pregnancy, never alters in a state of health, in any race, or in any climate.

[* Life of the Adelantado: Churchill’s Collection 1723. This Life, written after the year 1537, from original notes in the handwriting of Christopher Columbus himself, is the most valuable record of the history of his discoveries. It exists only in the Italian and Spanish translations of Alphonso de Ulloa and Gonzales Barcia: for the original, carried to Venice in 1571 by the learned Fornari, has not been published, and is supposed to be lost. Napione della Patria di Colombo 1804. Cancellieri sopra Christ. Colombo 1809. ]

[* Bernal Diaz Hist. Verd. de la Nueva Espana 1630.]

The Chaymas are almost without beard on the chin, like the Tungouses, and other nations of the Mongol race. They pluck out the few hairs which appear; but independently of that practice, most of the natives would be nearly beardless.* I say most of them, because there are tribes which, as they appear distinct from the others, are more worthy of fixing our attention. Such are, in North America, the Chippewas visited by Mackenzie, and the Yabipaees, near the Toltec ruins at Moqui, with bushy beards; in South America, the Patagonians and the Guaraunos. Among these last are some who have hairs on the breast. When the Chaymas, instead of extracting the little hair they have on the chin, attempt to shave themselves frequently, their beards grow. I have seen this experiment tried with success by young Indians, who officiated at mass, and who anxiously wished to resemble the Capuchin fathers, their missionaries and masters. The great mass of the people, however, dislike the beard, no less than the Eastern nations hold it in reverence. This antipathy is derived from the same source as the predilection for flat foreheads, which is evinced in so singular a manner in the statues of the Aztec heroes and divinities. Nations attach the idea of beauty to everything which particularly characterizes their own physical conformation, their national physiognomy.* Hence it ensues that among a people to whom Nature has given very little beard, a narrow forehead, and a brownish red skin, every individual thinks himself handsome in proportion as his body is destitute of hair, his head flattened, and his skin besmeared with annatto, chica, or some other copper-red colour.

[* Physiologists would never have entertained any difference of opinion respecting the existence of the beard among the Americans, if they had considered what the first historians of the Conquest have said on this subject; for example, Pigafetta, in 1519, in his journal, preserved in the Ambrosian Library at Milan, and published (in 1800) by Amoretti; Benzoni Hist. del Mundo Nuovo 1572; Bembo Hist. Venet. 1557.]

[* Thus, in their finest statues, the Greeks exaggerated the form of the forehead, by elevating beyond proportion the facial line.]

The Chaymas lead a life of singular uniformity. They go to rest very regularly at seven in the evening, and rise long before daylight, at half-past four in the morning. Every Indian has a fire near his hammock. The women are so chilly, that I have seen them shiver at church when the centigrade thermometer was not below 18°. The huts of the Indians are extremely clean. Their hammocks, their reed mats, their pots for holding cassava and fermented maize, their bows and arrows, everything is arranged in the greatest order. Men and women bathe every day; and being almost constantly unclothed, they are exempted from that uncleanliness, of which the garments are the principal cause among the lower class of people in cold countries. Besides a house in the village, they have generally, in their conucos, near some spring, or at the entrance of some solitary valley, a small hut, covered with the leaves of the palm or plantain-tree. Though they live less commodiously in the conuco, they love to retire thither as often as they can. The irresistible desire the Indians have to flee from society, and enter again on a nomad life, causes even young children sometimes to leave their parents, and wander four or five days in the forests, living on fruits, palm-cabbage, and roots. When travelling in the Missions, it is not uncommon to find whole villages almost deserted, because the inhabitants are in their gardens, or in the forests (al monte). Among civilized nations, the passion for hunting arises perhaps in part from the same causes: the charm of solitude, the innate desire of independence, the deep impression made by Nature, whenever man finds himself in contact with her in solitude.

The condition of the women among the Chaymas, like that in all semi-barbarous nations, is a state of privation and suffering. The hardest labour devolves on them. When we saw the Chaymas return in the evening from their gardens, the man carried nothing but the knife or hatchet (machete), with which he clears his way among the underwood; whilst the woman, bending under a great load of plantains, carried one child in her arms, and sometimes two other children placed upon the load. Notwithstanding this inequality of condition, the wives of the Indians of South America appear to be in general happier than those of the savages of the North. Between the Alleghany mountains and the Mississippi, wherever the natives do not live chiefly on the produce of the chase, the women cultivate maize, beans, and gourds; and the men take no share in the labours of the field. In the torrid zone, hunting tribes are not numerous, and in the Missions, the men work in the fields as well as the women.

Nothing can exceed the difficulty experienced by the Indians in learning Spanish, to which language they have an absolute aversion. Whilst living separate from the whites, they have no ambition to be called educated Indians, or, to borrow the phrase employed in the Missions, ‘latinized Indians’ (Indios muy latinos). Not only among the Chaymas, but in all the very remote Missions which I afterwards visited, I observed that the Indians experience vast difficulty in arranging and expressing the most simple ideas in Spanish, even when they perfectly understand the meaning of the words and the turn of the phrases. When a European questions them concerning objects which have surrounded them from their cradles, they seem to manifest an imbecility exceeding that of infancy. The missionaries assert that this embarrassment is neither the effect of timidity nor of natural stupidity, but that it arises from the impediments they meet with in the structure of a language so different from their native tongue. In proportion as man is remote from cultivation, the greater is his mental inaptitude. It is not, therefore, surprising that the isolated Indians in the Missions should experience in the acquisition of the Spanish language, less facility than Indians who live among mestizoes, mulattoes, and whites, in the neighbourhood of towns. Nevertheless, I have often wondered at the volubility with which, at Caripe, the native alcalde, the governador, and the sergento mayor, will harangue for whole hours the Indians assembled before the church; regulating the labours of the week, reprimanding the idle, or threatening the disobedient. Those chiefs who are also of the Chayma race, and who transmit the orders of the missionary, speak all together in a loud voice, with marked emphasis, but almost without action. Their features remain motionless; but their look is imperious and severe.

These same men, who manifest quickness of intellect, and who were tolerably well acquainted with the Spanish, were unable to connect their ideas, when, in our excursions in the country around the convent, we put questions to them through the intervention of the monks. They were made to affirm or deny whatever the monks pleased: and that wily civility, to which the least cultivated Indian is no stranger, induced them sometimes to give to their answers the turn that seemed to be suggested by our questions. Travellers cannot be enough on their guard against this officious assent, when they seek to confirm their own opinions by the testimony of the natives. To put an Indian alcalde to the proof, I asked him one day, whether he did not think the little river of Caripe, which issues from the cavern of the Guacharo, returned into it on the opposite side by some unknown entrance, after having ascended the slope of the mountain. The Indian seemed gravely to reflect on the subject, and then answered, by way of supporting my hypothesis: “How else, if it were not so, would there always be water in the bed of the river at the mouth of the cavern?”

The Chaymas are very dull in comprehending anything relating to numerical facts. I never knew one of these people who might not have been made to say that he was either eighteen or sixty years of age. Mr. Marsden observed the same peculiarity in the Malays of Sumatra, though they have been civilized more than five centuries. The Chayma language contains words which express pretty large numbers, yet few Indians know how to apply them; and having felt, from their intercourse with the missionaries, the necessity of so doing, the more intelligent among them count in Spanish, but apparently with great effort of mind, as far as thirty, or perhaps fifty. The same persons, however, cannot count in the Chayma language beyond five or six. It is natural that they should employ in preference the words of a language in which they have been taught the series of units and tens. Since learned Europeans have not disdained to study the structure of the idioms of America with the same care as they study those of the Semitic languages, and of the Greek and Latin, they no longer attribute to the imperfection of a language, what belongs to the rudeness of the nation. It is acknowledged, that almost everywhere the Indian idioms display greater richness, and more delicate gradations, than might be supposed from the uncultivated state of the people by whom they are spoken. I am far from placing the languages of the New World in the same rank with the finest languages of Asia and Europe; but no one of these latter has a more neat, regular, and simple system of numeration, than the Quichua and the Aztec, which were spoken in the great empires of Cuzco and Anahuac. It is a mistake to suppose that those languages do not admit of counting beyond four, because in villages where they are spoken by the poor labourers of Peruvian and Mexican race, individuals are found, who cannot count beyond that number. The singular opinion, that so many American nations reckon only as far as five, ten, or twenty, has been propagated by travellers, who have not reflected, that, according to the genius of different idioms, men of all nations stop at groups of five, ten, or twenty units (that is, the number of the fingers of one hand, or of both hands, or of the fingers and toes together); and that six, thirteen, or twenty are differently expressed, by five-one, ten-three, and feet-ten.* Can it be said that the numbers of the Europeans do not extend beyond ten, because we stop after having formed a group of ten units?

[* Savages, to express great numbers with more facility, are in the habit of forming groups of five, ten, or twenty grains of maize, according as they reckon in their language by fives, tens, or twenties.]

The construction of the languages of America is so opposite to that of the languages derived from the Latin, that the Jesuits, who had thoroughly examined everything that could contribute to extend their establishments, introduced among their neophytes, instead of the Spanish, some Indian tongues, remarkable for their regularity and copiousness, such as the Quichua and the Guarani. They endeavoured to substitute these languages for others which were poorer and more irregular in their syntax. This substitution was found easy: the Indians of the different tribes adopted it with docility, and thenceforward those American languages generalized became a ready medium of communication between the missionaries and the neophytes. It would be a mistake to suppose, that the preference given to the language of the Incas over the Spanish tongue had no other aim than that of isolating the Missions, and withdrawing them from the influence of two rival powers, the bishops and civil governors. The Jesuits had other motives, independently of their policy, for wishing to generalize certain Indian tongues. They found in those languages a common tie, easy to be established between the numerous hordes which had remained hostile to each other, and had been kept asunder by diversity of idioms; for, in uncultivated countries, after the lapse of several ages, dialects often assume the form, or at least the appearance, of mother tongues.

When it is said that a Dane learns the German, and a Spaniard the Italian or the Latin, more easily than they learn any other language, it is at first thought that this facility results from the identity of a great number of roots, common to all the Germanic tongues, or to those of Latin Europe; it is not considered, that, with this resemblance of sounds, there is another resemblance, which acts more powerfully on nations of a common origin. Language is not the result of an arbitrary convention. The mechanism of inflections, the grammatical constructions, the possibility of inversions, all are the offspring of our own minds, of our individual organization. There is in man an instinctive and regulating principle, differently modified among nations not of the same race. A climate more or less severe, a residence in the defiles of mountains, or on the sea-coasts, or different habits of life, may alter the pronunciation, render the identity of the roots obscure, and multiply the number; but all these causes do not affect that which constitutes the structure and mechanism of languages. The influence of climate, and of external circumstances, vanishes before the influence which depends on the race, on the hereditary and individual dispositions of men.

In America (and this result of recent researches* is extremely important with respect to the history of our species) from the country of the Esquimaux to the banks of the Orinoco, and again from these torrid regions to the frozen climate of the Straits of Magellan, mother-tongues, entirely different in their roots, have, if we may use the expression, the same physiognomy. Striking analogies of grammatical construction are acknowledged, not only in the more perfect languages, as in that of the Incas, the Aymara, the Guarauno, the Mexican, and the Cora, but also in languages extremely rude. Idioms, the roots of which do not resemble each other more than the roots of the Sclavonic and the Biscayan, have those resemblances of internal mechanism which are found in the Sanscrit, the Persian, the Greek, and the German languages. Almost everywhere in the New World we recognize a multiplicity of forms and tenses in the verb,* an ingenious method of indicating beforehand, either by inflexion of the personal pronouns, which form the terminations of the verb, or by an intercalated suffix, the nature and the relation of its object and its subject, and of distinguishing whether the object be animate or inanimate, of the masculine or the feminine gender, simple or in complex number. It is on account of this general analogy of structure — it is because American languages which have no words in common (for instance, the Mexican and the Quichua), resemble each other by their organization, and form complete contrasts to the languages of Latin Europe, that the Indians of the Missions familiarize themselves more easily with an American idiom than with the Spanish. In the forests of the Orinoco I have seen the rudest Indians speak two or three tongues. Savages of different nations often communicate their ideas to each other by an idiom not their own.

[* See Vater’s Mithridates.]

[* In the Greenland language, for example, the multiplicity of the pronouns governed by the verb produces twenty-seven forms for every tense of the Indicative mood. It is surprising to find, among nations now ranking in the lowest degree of civilization, this desire of graduating the relations of time, this superabundance of modifications introduced into the verb, to characterise the object. Matarpa, he takes it away: mattarpet, thou takest it away: mattarpatit, he takes it away from thee: mattarpagit, I take away from thee. And in the preterite of the same verb, mattara, he has taken it away: mattaratit, he has taken it away from thee. This example from the Greenland language shows how the governed and the personal pronouns form one compound, in the American languages, with the root of the verb. These slight differences in the form of the verb, according to the nature of the pronouns governed by it, is found in the Old World only in the Biscayan and Congo languages (Vater, Mithridates. William von Humboldt, On the Basque Language). Strange conformity in the structure of languages on spots so distant, and among three races of men so different — the white Catalonians, the black Congos, and the copper-coloured Americans!]

If the system of the Jesuits had been followed, languages, which already occupy a vast extent of country, would have become almost general. In Terra Firma and on the Orinoco, the Caribbean and the Tamanac alone would now be spoken; and in the south and south-west, the Quichua, the Guarano, the Omagua, and the Araucan. By appropriating to themselves these languages, the grammatical forms of which are very regular, and almost as fixed as those of the Greek and Sanscrit, the missionaries would place themselves in more intimate connection with the natives whom they govern. The numberless difficulties which occur in the system of a Mission consisting of Indians of ten or a dozen different nations would disappear with the confusion of idioms. Those which are little diffused would become dead languages; but the Indian, in preserving an American idiom, would retain his individuality — his national character. Thus by peaceful means might be effected what the Incas began to establish by force of arms.

How indeed can we be surprised at the little progress made by the Chaymas, the Caribbees, the Salives, or the Otomacs, in the knowledge of the Spanish language, when we recollect that one white man, one single missionary, finds himself alone amidst five or six hundred Indians? and that it is difficult for him to establish among them a governador, an alcalde, or a fiscal, who may serve him as an interpreter? If, instead of the missionary system, some other means of civilization were substituted, if, instead of keeping the whites at a distance, they could be mingled with the natives recently united in villages, the American idioms would soon be superseded by the languages of Europe, and the natives would receive in those languages the great mass of new ideas which are the fruit of civilization. Then the introduction of general tongues, such as that of the Incas, or the Guaranos, without doubt would become useless. But after having lived so long in the Missions of South America, after having so closely observed the advantages and the abuses of the system of the missionaries, I may be permitted to doubt whether that system could be easily abandoned, though it is doubtless very capable of being improved, and rendered more conformable with our ideas of civil liberty. To this it may be answered, that the Romans* succeeded in rapidly introducing their language with their sovereignty into the country of the Gauls, into Boetica, and into the province of Africa. But the natives of these countries were not savages; — they inhabited towns; they were acquainted with the use of money; and they possessed institutions denoting a tolerably advanced state of cultivation. The allurement of commerce, and a long abode of the Roman legions, had promoted intercourse between them and their conquerors. We see, on the contrary, that the introduction of the languages of the mother-countries was met by obstacles almost innumerable, wherever Carthaginian, Greek, or Roman colonies were established on coasts entirely barbarous. In every age, and in every climate, the first impulse of the savage is to shun the civilized man.

[* For the reason of this rapid introduction of Latin among the Gauls, I believe we must look into the character of the natives and the state of their civilization, and not into the structure of their language. The brown-haired Celtic nations were certainly different from the race of the light-haired Germanic nations; and though the Druid caste recalls to our minds one of the institutions of the Ganges, this does not demonstrate that the idiom of the Celts belongs, like that of the nations of Odin, to a branch of the Indo–Pelasgic languages. From analogy of structure and of roots, the Latin ought to have penetrated more easily on the other side of the Danube, than into Gaul; but an uncultivated state, joined to great moral inflexibility, probably opposed its introduction among the Germanic nations.]

The language of the Chayma Indians was less agreeable to my ear than the Caribbee, the Salive, and other languages of the Orinoco. It has fewer sonorous terminations in accented vowels. We are struck with the frequent repetition of the syllables guaz, ez, puec, and pur. These terminations are derived in part from the inflexion of the verb to be, and from certain prepositions, which are added at the ends of words, and which, according to the genius of the American idioms, are incorporated with them. It would be wrong to attribute this harshness of sound to the abode of the Chaymas in the mountains. They are strangers to that temperate climate. They have been led thither by the missionaries; and it is well known that, like all the inhabitants of warm regions, they at first dreaded what they called the cold of Caripe. I employed myself, with M. Bonpland, during our abode at the hospital of the Capuchins, in forming a small catalogue of Chayma words. I am aware that languages are much more strongly characterised by their structure and grammatical forms than by the analogy of their sounds and of their roots; and that the analogy of sounds is sometimes so disguised in different dialects of the same tongue, as not to be recognizable; for the tribes into which a nation is divided, often designate the same objects by words altogether heterogeneous. Hence it follows that we readily fall into mistakes, if, neglecting the study of the inflexions, and consulting only the roots (for instance, in the words which designate the moon, sky, water, and earth), we decide on the absolute difference of two idioms from the mere want of resemblance in sounds. But, while aware of this source of error, travellers would do well to continue to collect such materials as may be within their reach. If they do not make known the internal structure, and general arrangement of the edifice, they may point out some important parts.

The three languages now most used in the provinces of Cumana and Barcelona, are the Chayma, the Cumanagota, and the Caribbee. They have always been regarded in these countries as different idioms, and a dictionary of each has been written for the use of the Missions, by Fathers Tauste, Ruiz-blanco, and Breton. The Vocabulario y Arte de la Lengua de los Indios Chaymas has become extremely scarce. The few American grammars, printed for the most part in the seventeenth century, passed into the Missions, and have been lost in the forests. The dampness of the air and the voracity of insects* render the preservation of books almost impossible in those regions: they are destroyed in a short space of time, notwithstanding every precaution that may be employed. I had much difficulty to collect in the Missions, and in the convents, those grammars of American languages, which, on my return to Europe, I placed in the hands of Severin Vater, professor and librarian at the university of Konigsberg. They furnished him with useful materials for his great work on the idioms of the New World. I omitted, at the time, to transcribe from my journal, and communicate to that learned gentleman, what I had collected in the Chayma tongue. Since neither Father Gili, nor the Abbe Hervas, has mentioned this language, I shall here explain succinctly the result of my researches.

[* The termites, so well known in Spanish America under the name of comegen, or ‘devourer,’ is one of these destructive insects.]

On the right bank of the Orinoco, south-east of the Mission of Encaramada, and at the distance of more than a hundred leagues from the Chaymas, live the Tamanacs (Tamanacu), whose language is divided into several dialects. This nation, formerly very powerful, is separated from the mountains of Caripe by the Orinoco, by the vast steppes of Caracas and of Cumana; and by a barrier far more difficult to surmount, the nations of Caribbean origin. But notwithstanding distance, and the numerous obstacles in the way of intercourse, the language of the Chayma Indians is a branch of the Tamanac tongue. The oldest missionaries of Caripe are ignorant of this curious fact, because the Capuchins of Aragon seldom visit the southern banks of the Orinoco, and scarcely know of the existence of the Tamanacs. I recognized the analogy between the idiom of this nation, and that of the Chayma Indians long after my return to Europe, in comparing the materials which I had collected with the sketch of a grammar published in Italy by an old missionary of the Orinoco. Without knowing the Chaymas, the Abbe Gili conjectured that the language of the inhabitants of Paria must have some relation to the Tamanac.*

[* Vater has also advanced some well-founded conjectures on the connexion between the Tamanac and Caribbean tongues and those spoken on the north-east coast of South America. I may acquaint the reader, that I have written the words of the American languages according to the Spanish orthography, so that the u should be pronounced oo, the ch like ch in English, etc. Having during a great number of years spoken no other language than the Castilian, I marked down the sounds according to the orthography of that language, and now I am afraid of changing the value of these signs, by substituting others no less imperfect. It is a barbarous practice, to express, like the greater part of the nations of Europe, the most simple and distinct sounds by many vowels, or many united consonants, while they might be indicated by letters equally simple. What a chaos is exhibited by the vocabularies written according to English, German, French, or Spanish notations! A new essay, which the illustrious author of the travels in Egypt, M. Volney, is about to publish on the analysis of sounds found in different nations, and on the notation of those sounds according to a uniform system, will lead to great progress In the study of languages.]

I will prove this connection by two means which serve to show the analogy of idioms; namely, the grammatical construction, and the identity of words and roots. The following are the personal pronouns of the Chaymas, which are at the same time possessive pronouns; u-re, I, me; eu-re, thou, thee; teu-re, he, him. In the Tamanac, u-re, I; amare or anja, thou; iteu-ja, he. The radical of the first and of third person is in the Chayma u and teu.* The same roots are found in the Tamanac.

[* We must not wonder at those roots which reduce themselves to a single vowel. In a language of the Old Continent, the structure of which is so artificially complicated, (the Biscayan,) the family name Ugarte (between the waters) contains the u of ura (water) and arte between. The g is added for the sake of euphony.]

I Ure Ure.
water Tuna Tuna.
rain Conopo* Canopo.*
to know Poturu Puturo.
fire Apoto Uapto (in Caribbean uato).
the moon, a month Nuna Nuna.*
a tree Je Jeje.
a house Ata Aute.
to you Euya Auya.
to you Toya Iteuya.
honey Guane Uane.
he has said it Nacaramayre Nacaramai.
a physician, a sorcerer Piache Psiache.
one Tibin Obin (in Jaoi, Tewin).
two Aco Oco (in Caribbean, Occo).
two Oroa Orua (in Caribbean, Oroa).
flesh Pun Punu.
no (negation) Pra Pra.

[* The same word, conopo, signifies rain and year. The years are counted by the number of winters, or rainy seasons. They say in Chayma, as in Sanscrit, ‘so many rains,’ meaning so many years. In the Basque language, the word urtea, year, is derived from urten, to bring forth leaves in spring.]

[* In the Tamanac and Caribbean languages, Nono signifies the earth, Nuna the moon; as in the Chayma. This affinity appears to me very curious; and the Indians of the Rio Caura say, that the moon is ‘another earth.’ Among savage nations, amidst so many confused ideas, we find certain reminiscences well worthy of attention. Among the Greenlanders Nuna signifies the earth, and Anoningat the moon.]

The verb to be, is expressed in Chayma by az. On adding to the verb the personal pronoun I (u from u-re), a g is placed, for the sake of euphony, before the u, as in guaz, I am, properly g-u-az. As the first person is known by an u, the second is designated by an m, the third by an i; maz, thou art; muerepuec araquapemaz? why art thou sad? properly what for sad thou art; punpuec topuchemaz, thou art fat in body, properly flesh (pun) for (puec) fat (topuche) thou art (maz). The possessive pronouns precede the substantive; upatay, in my house, properly my house in. All the prepositions and the negation pra are incorporated at the end, as in the Tamanac. They say in Chayma, ipuec, with him, properly him with; euya, to thee, or thee to; epuec charpe guaz, I am gay with thee, properly thee with gay I am; ucarepra, not as I, properly I as not; quenpotupra quoguaz, I do not know him, properly him knowing not I am; quenepra quoguaz, I have not seen him, properly him seeing not I am. In the Tamanac tongue, acurivane means beautiful, and acurivanepra, ugly — not beautiful; outapra, there is no fish, properly fish none; uteripipra, I will not go, properly I to go will not, composed of uteri,* to go, ipiri, to choose, and pra, not. Among the Caribbees, whose language also bears some relation to the Tamanac, though infinitely less than the Chayma, the negation is expressed by an m placed before the verb: amoyenlengati, it is very cold; and mamoyenlengati, it is not very cold. In an analogous manner, the particle mna added to the Tamanac verb, not at the end, but by intercalation, gives it a negative sense, as taro, to say, taromnar, not to say.

[* In Chayma: utechire, I will go also, properly I (u) to go (the radical ute, or, because of the preceding vowel, te) also (chere, or ere, or ire). In utechire we find the Tamanac verb to go, uteri, of which ute is also the radical, and ri the termination of the Infinitive. In order to show that in Chayma chere or ere indicates the adverb also, I shall cite from the fragment of a vocabulary in my possession, u-chere, I also; nacaramayre, he said so also; guarzazere, I carried also; charechere, to carry also. In the Tamanac, as in the Chayma, chareri signifies to carry.]

The verb to be, very irregular in all languages, is az or ats in Chayma; and uochiri (in composition uac, uatscha) in Tamanac. It serves not only to form the Passive, but it is added also, as by agglutination, to the radical of attributive verbs, in a number of tenses.* These agglutinations remind us of the employment in the Sanscrit of the auxiliary verbs as and bhu (asti and bhavati*); the Latin, of es and fu, or fus;* the Biscayan, of izan, ucan, and eguin. There are certain points in which idioms the most dissimilar concur one with another. That which is common in the intellectual organization of man is reflected in the general structure of language; and every idiom, however barbarous it may appear, discloses a regulating principle which has presided at its formation.

[* The present in the Tamanac, jarer-bae-ure, appears to me nothing else then the verb bac, or uac (from uacschiri, to be ), added to the radical to carry, jare (in the infinitive jareri), the result of which is carrying to be I.]

[* In the branch of the Germanic languages we find bhu under the forms bim, bist; as, in the forms vas, vast, vesum (Bopp page 138).]

[* Hence fu-ero; amav-issem; amav-eram; pos-sum (pot-sum).]

The plural, in Tamanac, is indicated in seven different ways, according to the termination of the substantive, or according as it designates an animate or inanimate object.* In Chayma the plural is formed as in Caribbee, in on; teure, himself; teurecon, themselves; tanorocon, those here; montaonocon, those below, supposing that the interlocutor is speaking of a place where he was himself present; miyonocon, those below, supposing he speaks of a place where he was not present. The Chaymas have also the Castilian adverbs aqui and alla, shades of difference which can be expressed only by periphrasis, in the idioms of Germanic and Latin origin.

[* Tamanacu, a Tamanac (plur. Tamanakemi): Pongheme, a Spaniard (properly a man clothed); Pongamo, Spaniards, or men clothed. The plural in cne characterizes inanimate objects: for example, cene, a thing; cenecne, things: jeje, a tree; jejecne, trees.]

Some Indians, who were acquainted with Spanish, assured us, that zis signified not only the sun, but also the Deity. This appeared to me the more extraordinary, as among all other American nations we find distinct words for God and the sun. The Carib does not confound Tamoussicabo, the Ancient of Heaven, with veyou, the sun. Even the Peruvian, though a worshipper of the sun, raises his mind to the idea of a Being who regulates the movements of the stars. The sun, in the language of the Incas, bears the name of inti,* nearly the same as in Sanscrit; while God is called Vinay Huayna, the eternally young.’*

[* In the Quichua, or language of the Incas, the sun is inti; love, munay; great, veypul; in Sanscrit, the sun, indre: love, manya; great, vipulo. (Vater Mithridates tome 3 page 333.) These are the only examples of analogy of sound, that have yet been noticed. The grammatical character of the two languages is totally different.]

[* Vinay, always, or eternal; huayna, in the flower of age.]

The arrangement of words in the Chayma is similar to that found in all the languages of both continents, which have preserved a certain primitive character. The object is placed before the verb, the verb before the personal pronoun. The object, on which the attention should be principally fixed, precedes all the modifications of that object. The American would say, liberty complete love we, instead of we love complete liberty; Thee with happy am I, instead of I am happy with thee. There is something direct, firm, demonstrative, in these turns, the simplicity of which is augmented by the absence of the article. May it be presumed that, with advancing civilization, these nations, left to themselves, would have gradually changed the arrangement of their phrases? We are led to adopt this idea, when we reflect on the changes which the syntax of the Romans has undergone in the precise, clear, but somewhat timid languages of Latin Europe.

The Chayma, like the Tamanac and most of the American languages, is entirely destitute of certain letters, as f, b, and d. No word begins with an l. The same observation has been made on the Mexican tongue, though it is overcharged with the syllables tli, tla, and itl, at the end or in the middle of words. The Chaymas substitute r for l; a substitution that arises from a defect of pronunciation common in every zone.* Thus, the Caribbees of the Orinoco have been transformed into Galibi in French Guiana by confounding r with l, and softening the c. The Tamanac has made choraro and solalo of the Spanish word soldado (soldier). The disappearance of the f and b in so many American idioms arises out of that intimate connection between certain sounds, which is manifested in all languages of the same origin. The letters f, v, b, and p, are substituted one for the other; for instance, in the Persian, peder, father (pater); burader,* brother (frater); behar, spring (ver); in Greek, phorton (forton), a burthen; pous (pous) a foot, (fuss, Germ.). In the same manner, with the Americans, f and b become p; and d becomes t. The Chayma pronounces patre, Tios, Atani, aracapucha, for padre, Dios, Adan, and arcabuz (harquebuss).

[* For example, the substitution of r for l, characterizes the Bashmurie dialect of the Coptic language.]

[* Whence the German bruder, with the same consonants.]

In spite of the relations just pointed out, I do not think that the Chayma language can be regarded as a dialect of the Tamanac, as the Maitano, Cuchivero, and Crataima undoubtedly are. There are many essential differences; and between the two languages there appears to me to exist merely the same connection as is found in the German, the Swedish, and the English. They belong to the same subdivision of the great family of the Tamanac, Caribbean, and Arowak tongues. As there exists no absolute measure of resemblance between idioms, the degrees of parentage can be indicated only by examples taken from known tongues. We consider those as being of the same family, which bear affinity one to the other, as the Greek, the German, the Persian, and the Sanscrit.

Some philologists have imagined, on comparing languages, that they may all be divided into two classes, of which some, comparatively perfect in their organization, easy and rapid in their movements, indicate an interior development by inflexion; while others, more rude and less susceptible of improvement, present only a crude assemblage of small forms or agglutinated particles, each preserving the physiognomy peculiar to itself; when it is separately employed. This very ingenious view would be deficient in accuracy were it supposed that there exist polysyllabic idioms without any inflexion, or that those which are organically developed as by interior germs, admit no external increase by means of suffixes and affixes;* an increase which we have already mentioned several times under the name of agglutination or incorporation. Many things, which appear to us at present inflexions of a radical, have perhaps been in their origin affixes, of which there have barely remained one or two consonants. In languages, as in everything in nature that is organized, nothing is entirely isolated or unlike. The farther we penetrate into their internal structure, the more do contrasts and decided characters vanish. It may be said that they are like clouds, the outlines of which do not appear well defined, except when viewed at a distance.

[* Even in the Sanscrit several tenses are formed by aggregation; for example, in the first future, the substantive verb to be is added to the radical. In a similar manner we find in the Greek mach-eso, if the s be not the effect of inflexion, and in Latin pot-ero (Bopp pages 26 and 66). These are examples of incorporation and agglutination in the grammatical system of languages which are justly cited as models of an interior development by inflexion. In the grammatical system of the American tongues, for example in the Tamanac, tarecschi, I will carry, is equally composed of the radical ar (infin. jareri, to carry) and of the verb ecschi (Infin. nocschiri, to be). There hardly exists in the American languages a triple mode of aggregation, of which we cannot find a similar and analogous example in some other language that is supposed to develop itself only by inflexion.]

But though we may not admit one simple and absolute principle in the classification of languages, yet it cannot be decided, that in their present state some manifest a greater tendency to inflexion, others to external aggregation. It is well known, that the languages of the Indian, Pelasgic, and German branch, belong to the first division; the American idioms, the Coptic or ancient Egyptian, and to a certain degree, the Semitic languages and the Biscayan, to the second. The little we have made known of the idiom of the Chaymas of Caripe, sufficiently proves that constant tendency towards the incorporation or aggregation of certain forms, which it is easy to separate; though from a somewhat refined sentiment of euphony some letters have been dropped and others have been added. Those affixes, by lengthening words, indicate the most varied relations of number, time, and motion.

When we reflect on the peculiar structure of the American languages, we imagine we discover the source of the opinion generally entertained from the most remote time in the Missions, that these languages have an analogy with the Hebrew and the Biscayan. At the convent of Caripe as well as at the Orinoco, in Peru as well as in Mexico, I heard this opinion expressed, particularly by monks who had some vague notions of the Semitic languages. Did motives supposed to be favourable to religion, give rise to this extraordinary theory? In the north of America, among the Choctaws and the Chickasaws, travellers somewhat credulous have heard the strains of the Hallelujah* of the Hebrews; as, according to the Pundits, the three sacred words of the mysteries of the Eleusis* (konx om pax) resound still in the Indies. I do not mean to suggest, that the nations of Latin Europe may have called whatever has a foreign physiognomy Hebrew or Biscayan, as for a long time all those monuments were called Egyptian, which were not in the Grecian or Roman style. I am rather disposed to think that the grammatical system of the American idioms has confirmed the missionaries of the sixteenth century in their ideas respecting the Asiatic origin of the nations of the New World. The tedious compilation of Father Garcia, Tratado del Origen de los Indios,* is a proof of this. The position of the possessive and personal pronouns at the end of the noun and the verb, as well as the numerous tenses of the latter, characterize the Hebrew and the other Semitic languages. Some of the missionaries were struck at finding the same peculiarities in the American tongues: they did not reflect, that the analogy of a few scattered features does not prove languages to belong to the same stock.

[* L’Escarbot, Charlevoix, and even Adair (Hist. of the American Indians 1775).]

[* Asiat. Res. volume 5, Ouvaroff on the Eleusinian Mysteries 1816.]

[* Treatise on the Origin of the Indians.]

It appears less astonishing, that men, who are well acquainted with only two languages extremely heterogeneous, the Castilian and the Biscayan, should have found in the latter a family resemblance to the American languages. The composition of words, the facility with which the partial elements are detected, the forms of the verbs, and their different modifications, may have caused and kept up this illusion. But we repeat, an equal tendency towards aggregation or incorporation does not constitute an identity of origin. The following are examples of the relations between the American and Biscayan languages; idioms totally different in their roots.

In Chayma, quenpotupra quoguaz, I do not know, properly, knowing not I am. In Tamanac, jarer-uac-ure, bearing am I — I bear; anarepra aichi, he will not bear, properly, bearing not will he; patcurbe, good; patcutari, to make himself good; Tamanacu, a Tamanac; Tamanacutari, to make himself a Tainanac; Pongheme, a Spaniard; ponghemtari, to Spaniardize himself; tenecchi, I will see; teneicre, I will see again; teecha, I go; tecshare, I return; maypur butke, a little Maypure Indian; aicabutke, a little woman; maypuritaje, an ugly Maypure Indian; aicataje, an ugly woman.*

[* The diminutive of woman (aica) or of Maypure Indian is formed by adding butke, which is the termination of cujuputke, little: taje answers to the accio of the Italians.]

In Biscayan: maitetutendot, I love him, properly, I loving have him; beguia, the eye, and beguitsa, to see; aitagana, towards the father: by adding tu, we form the verb aitaganatu, to go towards the father; ume-tasuna, soft and infantile ingenuity; umequeria, disagreeable childishness.

I may add to these examples some descriptive compounds, which call to mind the infancy of nations, and strike us equally in the American and Biscayan languages, by a certain ingenuousness of expression. In Tamanac, the wasp (uane-imu), father (imde) of honey (uane);* the toes, ptarimucuru, properly, the sons of the foot; the fingers, amgnamucuru, the sons of the hand; mushrooms, jeje-panari, properly, the ears (panari) of a tree (jeje); the veins of the hand, amgna-mitti, properly, the ramified roots; leaves, prutpe-jareri, properly, the hair at the top of the tree; puirene-veju, properly, the sun (veju), straight or perpendicular; lightning, kinemeru-uaptori, properly, the fire (uapto) of the thunder, or of the storm. (I recognise in kinemeru, thunder or storm, the root kineme black.) In Biscayan, becoquia, the forehead, what belongs (co and quia) to the eye (beguia); odotsa, the noise (otsa) of the cloud (odeia), or thunder; arribicia, an echo, properly, the animated stone, from arria, stone, and bicia, life.

[* It may not be unnecessary here to acquaint the reader that honey is produced by an insect of South America, belonging to, or nearly allied, to the wasp genus. This honey, however, possesses noxious qualities which are by some naturalists attributed to the plant Paulinia Australis, the juices of which are collected by the insect.]

The Chayma and Tamanac verbs have an enormous complication of tenses: two Presents, four Preterites, three Futures. This multiplicity characterises the rudest American languages. Astarloa reckons, in like manner, in the grammatical system of the Biscayan, two hundred and six forms of the verb. Those languages, the principal tendency of which is inflexion, are to the common observer less interesting than those which seem formed by aggregation. In the first, the elements of which words are composed, and which are generally reduced to a few letters, are no longer recognisable: these elements, when isolated, exhibit no meaning; the whole is assimilated and mingled together. The American languages, on the contrary, are like complicated machines, the wheels of which are exposed to view. The mechanism of their construction is visible. We seem to be present at their formation, and we should pronounce them to be of very recent origin, did we not recollect that the human mind steadily follows an impulse once given; that nations enlarge, improve, and repair the grammatical edifice of their languages, according to a plan already determined; finally, that there are countries, whose languages, institutions, and arts, have remained unchanged, we might almost say stereotyped, during the lapse of ages.

The highest degree of intellectual development has been hitherto found among the nations of the Indian and Pelasgic branch. The languages formed principally by aggregation seem themselves to oppose obstacles to the improvement of the mind. They are devoid of that rapid movement, that interior life, to which the inflexion of the root is favourable, and which impart such charms to works of imagination. Let us not, however, forget, that a people celebrated in remote antiquity, a people from whom the Greeks themselves borrowed knowledge, had perhaps a language, the construction of which recalls involuntarily that of the languages of America. What a structure of little monosyllabic and disyllabic forms is added to the verb and to the substantive, in the Coptic language! The semi-barbarous Chayma and Tamanac have tolerably short abstract words to express grandeur, envy, and lightness, cheictivate, uoite, and uonde; but in Coptic, the word malice,* metrepherpetou, is composed of five elements, easy to be distinguished. This compound signifies the quality (met) of a subject (reph), which makes (er) the thing which is (pet), evil (ou). Nevertheless the Coptic language has had its literature, like the Chinese, the roots of which, far from being aggregated, scarcely approach each other without immediate contact. We must admit that nations once roused from their lethargy, and tending towards civilization, find in the most uncouth languages the secret of expressing with clearness the conceptions of the mind, and of painting the emotions of the soul. Don Juan de la Rea, a highly estimable man, who perished in the sanguinary revolutions of Quito, imitated with graceful simplicity some Idylls of Theocritus in the language of the Incas; and I have been assured, that, excepting treatises on science and philosophy, there is scarcely any work of modern literature that might not be translated into the Peruvian.

[* See, on the incontestable identity of the ancient Egyptian and Coptic, and on the particular system of synthesis of the latter language, the ingenious reflexions of M. Silvestre de Sacy, in the Notice des Recherches de M. Etienne Quatremere sur La Litterature de l’Epypte. ]

The intimate connection established between the natives of the New World and the Spaniards since the conquest, have introduced a certain number of American words into the Castilian language. Some of these words express things not unknown before the discovery of the New World, and scarcely recall to our minds at present their barbarous origin.* Almost all belong to the language of the great Antilles, formerly termed the language of Haiti, of Quizqueja, or of Itis.* I shall confine myself to citing the words maiz, tabaco, canoa, batata, cacique, balsa, conuco, etc. When the Spaniards, after the year 1498, began to visit the mainland, they already had words* to designate the vegetable productions most useful to man, and common both to the islands and to the coasts of Cumana and Paria. Not satisfied with retaining these words borrowed from the Haitians, they helped also to spread them all over America (at a period when the language of Haiti was already a dead language), and to diffuse them among nations who were ignorant even of the existence of the West India Islands. Some words, which are in daily use in the Spanish colonies, are attributed erroneously to the Haitians. Banana is from the Chaconese, the Mbaja language; arepa (bread of manioc, or of the Jatropha manihot) and guayuco (an apron, perizoma) are Caribbee: curiara (a very long boat) is Tamanac: chinchorro (a hammock), and tutuma (the fruit of the Crescentia cujete, or a vessel to contain a liquid), are Chayma words.

[* For example savannah, and cannibal.]

[* The word Itis, for Haiti or St. Domingo (Hispaniola), is found in the Itinerarium of Bishop Geraldini (Rome 1631.)—“Quum Colonus Itim insulam cerneret.”]

[* The following are Haitian words, in their real form, which have passed into the Castilian language since the end of the 15th century. Many of them are not uninteresting to descriptive botany. Ahi (Capsicum baccatum), batata (Convolvus batatas), bihao (Heliconia bihai), caimito (Chrysophyllum caimito), cahoba (Swietenia mahagoni), jucca and casabi (Jatropba manihot); the word casabi or cassava is employed only for the bread made with the roots of the Jatropha (the name of the plant jucca was also heard by Americo Vespucci on the coast of Paria); age or ajes (Dioscorea alata), copei (Clusia alba), guayacan (Guaiacum officinale), guajaba (Psidium pyriferum), guanavano (Anona muricata), mani (Arachis hypogaea), guama (Inga), henequen (was supposed from the erroneous accounts of the first travellers to be an herb with which the Haitians used to cut metals; it means now every kind of strong thread), hicaco (Chrysobalanus icaco), maghei (Agave Americana), mahiz or maiz (Zea, maize), mamei (Mammea Americana), mangle (Rhizophora), pitahaja (Cactus pitahaja), ceiba (Bombax), tuna (Cactus tuna), hicotea (a tortoise), iguana (Lacerta iguana), manatee (Trichecus manati), nigua (Pulex penetrans), hamaca (a hammock), balsa (a raft; however balsa is an old Castilian word signifying a pool of water), barbacoa (a small bed of light wood, or reeds), canei or buhio (a hut), canoa (a canoe), cocujo (Elater noctilucus, the fire-fly), chicha (fermented liquor), macana (a large stick or club, made with the petioles of a palm-tree), tabaco (not the herb, but the pipe through which it is smoked), cacique (a chief). Other American words, now as much in use among the Creoles, as the Arabic words naturalized in the Spanish, do not belong to the Haitian tongue; for example, caiman, piragua, papaja (Carica), aguacate (Persea), tarabita, paramo. Abbe Gili thinks with some probability, that they are derived from the tongue of some people who inhabited the temperate climate between Coro, the mountains of Merida, and the tableland of Bogota. (Saggio volume 3 page 228.) How many Celtic and German words would not Julius Caesar and Tacitus have handed down to us, had the productions of the northern countries visited by the Romans differed as much from the Italian and Roman, as those of equinoctial America!]

I have dwelt thus long on considerations respecting the American tongues, because I am desirous of directing attention to the deep interest attached to this kind of research. This interest is analogous to that inspired by the monuments of semi-barbarous nations, which are examined not because they deserve to be ranked among works of art, but because the study of them throws light on the history of our species, and the progressive development of our faculties.

It now remains for me to speak of the other Indian nations inhabiting the provinces of Cumana and Barcelona. These I shall only succinctly enumerate.

1. The Pariagotos or Parias.

It is thought that the terminations in goto, as Pariagoto, Purugoto, Avarigoto, Acherigoto, Cumanagoto, Arinagoto, Kirikirisgoto,* imply a Caribbean origin.* All these tribes, excepting the Purugotos of the Rio Caura, formerly occupied the country which has been so long under the dominion of the Caribbees; namely, the coasts of Berbice and of Essequibo, the peninsula of Paria, the plains of Piritu and Parima. By this last name the little-known country, between the sources of the Cujuni, the Caroni, and the Mao, is designated in the Missions. The Paria Indians are mingled in part with the Chaymas of Cumana; others have been settled by the Capuchins of Aragon in the Missions of Caroni; for instance, at Cupapuy and Alta–Gracia, where they still speak their own language, apparently a dialect between the Tamanac and the Caribbee. But it may be asked, is the name Parias or Pariagotos, a name merely geographical? Did the Spaniards, who frequented these coasts from their first establishment in the island of Cubagua and in Macarapana, give the name of the promontory of Paria* to the tribe by which it was inhabited? This we will not positively affirm; for the Caribbees themselves give the name of Caribana to a country which they occupied, and which extended from the Rio Sinu to the gulf of Darien. This is a striking example of identity of name between an American nation and the territory it possessed. We may conceive, that in a state of society, where residence is not long fixed, such instances must be very rare.

[* The Kirikirisgotos (or Kirikiripas) are of Dutch Guiana. It is very remarkable, that among the small Brazilian tribes who do not speak the language of the Tupis, the Kiriris, notwithstanding the enormous distance of 650 leagues, have several Tamanac words.]

[* In the Tamanac tongue, which is of the same branch as the Caribbean, we find also the termination goto, as in anekiamgoto an animal. Often an analogy in the termination of names, far from showing an identity of race, only indicates that the names of the nations are borrowed from one language.]

[* Paria, Uraparia, even Huriaparia and Payra, are the ancient names of the country, written as the first navigators thought they heard them pronounced. It appears to me by no means probable, that the promontory of Paria should derive its name from that of a cacique Uriapari, celebrated for the manner in which he resisted Diego Ordaz in 1530, thirty-two years after Columbus had heard the name of Paria from the mouths of the natives themselves. The Orinoco at its mouth had also the name of Uriapari, Yuyapari, or Iyupari. In all these denominations of a great river, of a shore, and of a rainy country, I think I recognise the radical par, signifying water, not only in the languages of these countries, but also in those of nations very distant from one another on the eastern and western coasts of America. The sea, or great water, is in the Caribbean, Maypure, and Brazilian languages, parana: in the Tamanac, parava. In Upper Guiana also the Orinoco is called Parava. In the Peruvian, or Quichua, I find rain, para; to rain, parani. Besides, there is a lake in Peru that has been very anciently called Paria. (Garcia, Origen de los Indios, page 292.) I have entered into these minute details concerning the word Paria, because it has recently been supposed that some connection might be traced between this word and the country of the Hindoo caste called the Parias.]

2. The Guaraons or Gu-ara-una, almost all free and independent, are dispersed in the Delta of the Orinoco, with the variously ramified channels of which they alone are well acquainted. The Caribbees call the Guaraons U-ara-u. They owe their independence to the nature of their country; for the missionaries, in spite of their zeal, have not been tempted to follow them to the tree-tops. The Guaraons, in order to raise their abodes above the surface of the waters at the period of the great inundations, support them on the hewn trunks of the mangrove-tree and of the Mauritia palm-tree.* They make bread of the medullary flour of this palm-tree, which is the sago of America. The flour bears the name of yuruma: I have eaten it at the town of St. Thomas, in Guiana, and it was very agreeable to the taste, resembling rather the cassava-bread than the sago of India.* The Indians assured me that the trunks of the Mauritia, the tree of life so much vaunted by father Gumilla, do not yield meal in any abundance, unless the palm-tree is cut down just before the flowers appear. Thus too the maguey,* cultivated in New Spain, furnishes a saccharine liquor, the wine (pulque) of the Mexicans, only at the period when the plant shoots forth its long stem. By interrupting the blossoming, nature is obliged to carry elsewhere the saccharine or amylaceous matter, which would accumulate in the flowers of the maguey and in the fruit of the Mauritia. Some families of Guaraons, associated with the Chaymas, live far from their native land, in the Missions of the plains or llanos of Cumana; for instance, at Santa Rosa de Ocopi. Five or six hundred of them voluntarily quitted their marshes, a few years ago, and formed, on the northern and southern banks of the Orinoco, twenty-five leagues distant from Cape Barima, two considerable villages, under the names of Zacupana and Imataca. When I made my journey in Caripe, these Indians were still without missionaries, and lived in complete independence. Their excellent qualities as boatmen, their perfect knowledge of the mouths of the Orinoco, and of the labyrinth of branches communicating with each other, give the Guaraons a certain political importance. They favour that clandestine commerce of which the island of Trinidad is the centre. The Guaraons run with extreme address on muddy lands, where the European, the Negro, or other Indians except themselves, would not dare to walk; and it is, therefore, commonly believed, that they are of lighter weight than the rest of the natives. This is also the opinion that is held in Asia of the Burat Tartars. The few Guaraons whom I saw were of middle size, squat, and very muscular. The lightness with which they walk in places newly dried, without sinking in, when even they have no planks tied to their feet, seemed to me the effect of long habit. Though I sailed a considerable time on the Orinoco, I never went so low as its mouth. Future travellers, who may visit those marshy regions, will rectify what I have advanced.

[* Their manners have been the same from time immemorial. Cardinal Bembo described them at the beginning of the 16th century, “quibusdam in locis propter paludes incolae domus in arboribus aedificant.” (Hist. Venet. 1551.) Sir Walter Raleigh, in 1595, speaks of the Guaraons under the names of Araottes, Trivitivas, and Warawites. These were perhaps the names of some tribes, into which the great Guaraonese nation was divided. (Barrere Essai sur l’Hist. Naturelle de la France Equinoctiale.)]

[* M. Kunth has combined together three genera of the palms, Calamus, Sigus, and Mauritia, in a new section, the Calameae.]

[* Agave Americana, the aloe of our gardens.]

3. The Guaiqueries or Guaikeri, are the most able and most intrepid fishermen of these countries. These people alone are well acquainted with the bank abounding with fish, which surrounds the islands of Coche, Margareta, Sola, and Testigos; a bank of more than four hundred square leagues, extending east and west from Maniquarez to the Boca del Draco. The Guaiqueries inhabit the island of Margareta, the peninsula of Araya, and that suburb of Cumana which bears their name. Their language is believed to be a dialect of that of the Guaraons. This would connect them with the great family of the Caribbee nations; and the missionary Gili is of opinion that the language of the Guaiqueries is one of the numerous branches of the Caribbean tongue.* These affinities are interesting, because they lead us to perceive an ancient connection between nations dispersed over a vast extent of country, from the mouth of the Rio Caura and the sources of the Erevato, in Parima, to French Guiana, and the coasts of Paria.*

[* If the name of the port Pam-patar, in the island of Margareta, be Guaiquerean, as we have no reason to doubt, it exhibits a feature of analogy with the Cumanagoto tongue, which approaches the Caribbean and Tamanac. In Terra Firma, in the Piritu Missions, we find the village of Cayguapatar, which signifies house of Caygua.]

[* Are the Guaiqueries, or O-aikeries, now settled on the borders of the Erevato, and formerly between the Rio Caura and the Cuchivero near the little town of Alta Gracia, of a different origin from the Guaikeries of Cumana? I know also, in the interior of the country, in the Missions of the Piritus, near the village of San Juan Evangelista del Guarive, a ravine very anciently called Guayquiricuar. These resemblances seem to prove migrations from the south-west towards the coast. The termination cuar, found so often in Cumanagoto and Caribbean names, means a ravine, as in Guaymacuar (ravine of lizards), Pirichucuar (a ravine overshaded by pirichu or piritu palm-trees), Chiguatacuar (a ravine of land-shells). Raleigh describes the Guaiqueries under the name of Ouikeries. He calls the Chaymas, Saimas, changing (according to the Caribbean pronunciation) the ch into s.]

4. The Quaquas, whom the Tamanacs call Mapoje, are a tribe formerly very warlike and allied to the Caribbees. It is a curious phenomenon to find the Quaquas mingled with the Chaymas in the Missions of Cumana, for their language, as well as the Atura, of the cataracts of the Orinoco, is a dialect of the Salive tongue; and their original abode was on the banks of the Assiveru, which the Spaniards call Cuchivero. They have extended their migrations one hundred leagues to the north-east. I have often heard them mentioned on the Orinoco, above the mouth of the Meta; and, what is very remarkable, it is asserted* that missionary Jesuits have found Quaquas as far distant as the Cordilleras of Popayan. Raleigh enumerates, among the natives of the island of Trinidad, the Salives, a people remarkable for their mild manners; they came from the Orinoco, and settled south of the Quaquas. Perhaps these two nations, which speak almost the same language, travelled together towards the coasts.

[* Vater tome 3 part 2 page 364. The name of Quaqua is found on the coast of Guinea. The Europeans apply it to a horde of Negroes to the east of Cape Lahou.]

5. The Cumanagotos, or, according to the pronunciation of the Indians, Cumanacoto, are now settled westward of Cumana, in the Missions of Piritu, where they live by cultivating the ground. They number more than twenty-six thousand. Their language, like that of the Palencas, or Palenques, and Guarivas, is between the Tamanac and the Caribbee, but nearer to the former. These are indeed idioms of the same family; but if we are to consider them as simple dialects, the Latin must be also called a dialect of the Greek, and the Swedish a dialect of the German. In considering the affinity of languages one with another, it must not be forgotten that these affinities may be very differently graduated; and that it would be a source of confusion not to distinguish between simple dialects and languages of the same family. The Cumanagotos, the Tamanacs, the Chaymas, the Guaraons, and the Caribbees, do not understand each other, in spite of the frequent analogy of words and of grammatical structure exhibited in their respective idioms. The Cumanagotos inhabited, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, the mountains of the Brigantine and of Parabolata. I am unable to determine whether the Piritus, Cocheymas, Chacopatas, Tomuzas, and Topocuares, now confounded in the same villages with the Cumanagotos, and speaking their language, were originally tribes of the same nation. The Piritus take their name from the ravine Pirichucuar, where the small thorny palm-tree,* called piritu, grows in abundance; the wood of this tree, which is excessively hard, and little combustible, serves to make pipes. On this spot the village of La Concepcion de Piritu was founded in 1556; it is the chief settlement of the Cumanagoto Missions, known by the name of the Misiones de Piritu.

[* Caudice gracili aculeato, foliis pinnatis. Possibly of the genus Aiphanes of Willdenouw.]

6. The Caribbees (Carives). This name, which was given them by the first navigators, is retained throughout all Spanish America. The French and the Germans have transformed it, I know not why, into Caraibes. The people call themselves Carina, Calina, and Callinago. I visited some Caribbean Missions in the Llanos,* on returning from my journey to the Orinoco; and I shall merely mention that the Galibes (Caribi of Cayenne), the Tuapocas, and the Cunaguaras, who originally inhabited the plains between the mountains of Caripe (Caribe) and the village of Maturin, the Jaoi of the island of Trinidad and of the province of Cumana, and perhaps also the Guarivas, allies of the Palencas, are all tribes of the great Caribbee nation.

[* I shall in future use the word Llanos (loca plana, suppressing the p), without adding the equivalent words pampas, savannahs, meadows, steppes, or plains. The country between the mountains of the coast and the left bank of the Orinoco, constitutes the llanos of Cumana, Barcelona, and Caracas.]

With respect to the other nations whose affinities of language with the Tamanac and Caribbee have been mentioned, they are not necessarily to be considered as of the same race. In Asia, the nations of Mongol origin differ totally in their physical organisation from those of Tartar origin. Such has been, however, the intermixture of these nations, that, according to the able researches of Klaproth, the Tartar languages (branches of the ancient Oigour) are spoken at present by hordes incontestably of Mongol race. Neither the analogy nor the diversity of language suffice to solve the great problem of the filiation of nations; they merely serve to point out probabilities. The Caribbees, properly speaking, those who inhabit the Missions of the Cari, in the llanos of Cumana, the banks of the Caura, and the plains to the north-east of the sources of the Orinoco, are distinguished by their almost gigantic size from all the other nations I have seen in the new continent. Must it on this account be admitted, that the Caribbees are an entirely distinct race? and that the Guaraons and the Tamanacs, whose languages have an affinity with the Caribbee, have no bond of relationship with them? I think not. Among the nations of the same family, one branch may acquire an extraordinary development of organization. The mountaineers of the Tyrol and Salzburgh are taller than the other Germanic races; the Samoiedes of the Altai are not so little and squat as those of the sea-coast. In like manner it would be difficult to deny that the Galibis are really Caribbees; and yet, notwithstanding the identity of languages, how striking is the difference in their stature and physical constitution!

Before Cortez entered the capital of Montezuma in 1521, the attention of Europe was fixed on the regions we have just traversed. In depicting the manners of the inhabitants of Paria and Cumana, it was thought that the manners of all the inhabitants of the new continent were described. This remark cannot escape those who read the historians of the Conquest, especially the letters of Peter Martyr of Anghiera, written at the court of Ferdinand the Catholic. These letters are full of ingenious observations upon Christopher Columbus, Leo X, and Luther, and are stamped by noble enthusiasm for the great discoveries of an age so rich in extraordinary events. Without entering into any detail on the manners of the nations which have been so long confounded one with another, under the vague denomination of Cumanians (Cumaneses), it appears to me important to clear up a fact which I have often heard discussed in Spanish America.

The Pariagotos of the present time are of a brown red colour, as are the Caribbees, the Chaymas, and almost all the nations of the New World. Why do the historians of the sixteenth century affirm that the first navigators saw white men with fair hair at the promontory of Paria? Were they of the same race as those Indians of a less tawny hue, whom M. Bonpland and myself saw at Esmeralda, near the sources of the Orinoco? But these Indians had hair as black as the Otomacs and other tribes, whose complexion is the darkest. Were they albinos, such as have been found heretofore in the isthmus of Panama? But examples of that degeneration are very rare in the copper-coloured race; and Anghiera, as well as Gomara, speaks of the inhabitants of Paria in general, and not of a few individuals. Both describe them as if they were people of Germanic origin,* they call them ‘Whites with light hair;’ they even add, that they wore garments like those of the Turks.* Gomara and Anghiera wrote from such oral information as they had been able to collect.

[* “Aethiopes nigri, crispi lanati; Pariae incolae albi, capillis oblongis protensis flavis.”— Pet. Martyr Ocean., dec. 50 lib. 6 (edition 1574). “Utriusque sexus indigenae albi veluti nostrates, praeter eos qui sub sole versantur.” (The natives of both sexes are as white as our people [Spaniards], except those who are exposed to the sun.)— Ibid. Gomara, speaking of the natives seen by Columbus at the mouth of the river of Cumana, says: “Las donzellas eran amorosas, desnudas y blancas (las de la casa); los Indios que van al campo estan negros del sol.” (The young women are engaging in their manners: they wear no clothing, and those who live in the houses ARE WHITE. The Indians who are much in the open country are black, from the effect of the sun.)— Hist. de los Indios, cap. 74. “Los Indios de Paria son BLANCOS y rubios.”—(The Indians of Paria are WHITE and red.) Garcia, Origen de los Indios 1729, lib. 4 cap. 9.]

[* “They wear round their head a striped cotton handkerchief”— Ferd. Columb. cap. 71. (Churchill volume 2.) Was this kind of head-dress taken for a turban? (Garcia, Origen de los Ind., page 303). I am surprised that people of these regions should have worn a head-dress; but, what is more curious still, Pinzon, in a voyage which he made alone to the coast of Paria, the particulars of which have been transmitted to us by Peter Martyr of Anghiera, professes to have seen natives who were clothed: “Incolas omnes genu tenus mares, foeminas surarum tenus, gossampinis vestibus amictos simplicibus repererunt; sed viros more Turcorum insuto minutim gossypio ad belli usum duplicibus.” (The natives were clothed in thin cotton garments; the men’s reaching to the knee, and the women’s to the calf of the leg. Their war-dress was thicker, and closely stitched with cotton after the Turkish manner.)— Pet. Martyr, dec. 2 lib. 7. Who were these people described as being comparatively civilized, and clothed with tunics (like those who lived an the summit of the Andes), and seen on a coast, where before and since the time of Pinzon, only naked men have ever been seen?]

These marvels disappear, if we examine the recital which Ferdinand Columbus drew up from his father’s papers. There we find simply, that “the admiral was surprised to see the inhabitants of Paria, and those of the island of Trinidad, better made, more civilized (de buena conversacion), and whiter than the natives whom he had previously seen.”* This certainly did not mean that the Pariagotos are white. The lighter colour of the skin of the natives and the great coolness of the mornings on the coast of Paria, seemed to confirm the fantastic hypothesis which that great man had framed, respecting the irregularity of the curvature of the earth, and the height of the plains in this region, which he regarded as the effect of an extraordinary swelling of the globe in the direction of the parallels of latitude. Amerigo Vespucci (in his pretended FIRST voyage, apparently written from the narratives of other navigators) compares the natives to the Tartar nations,* not in regard to their colour, but on account of the breadth of their faces, and the general expression of their physiognomy.

[* Churchill’s Collection volume 2, Herrera pages 80, 83, 84. Munoz, Hist. del Nuevo Mundo volume 1, “El color era baxo como es regular en los Indios, pero mas clara que en las islas reconocidas.” (Their colour was dark, as is usual among the Indians; but lighter than that of the people of the islands previously known.) The missionaries are accustomed to call those Indians who are less black, less tawny, WHITISH, and even ALMOST WHITE. — Gumilla, Hist. de l’Orenoque volume 1 chapter 5 paragraph 2. Such incorrect expressions may mislead those who are not accustomed to the exaggerations in which travellers often indulge.]

[* Vultu non multum speciosi sunt, quoniam latas facies Tartariis adsimilatas habent. (Their countenances are not handsome, their cheek-bones being broad like those of the Tartars.)— Americi Vesputii Navigatio Prima, in Gryn’s Orbis Novus 1555.]

But if it be certain, that at the end of the fifteenth century there were on the coast of Cumana a few men with white skins, as there are in our days, it must not thence be concluded, that the natives of the New World exhibit everywhere a similar organization of the dermoidal system. It is not less inaccurate to say, that they are all copper-coloured, than to affirm that they would not have a tawny hue, if they were not exposed to the heat of the sun, or tanned by the action of the air. The natives may be divided into two very unequal portions with respect to numbers; to the first belong the Esquimaux of Greenland, of Labrador, and the northern coast of Hudson’s Bay, the inhabitants of Behring’s Straits, of the peninsula of Alaska, and of Prince William’s Sound. The eastern and western branches* of this polar race, the Esquimaux and the Tschougases, though at the vast distance of eight hundred leagues apart, are united by the most intimate analogy of languages. This analogy extends even to the inhabitants of the north-east of Asia; for the idiom of the Tschouktsches* at the mouth of the Anadir, has the same roots as the language of the Esquimaux who inhabit the coast of America opposite to Europe. The Tschouktsches are the Esquimaux of Asia. Like the Malays, that hyperborean race reside only on the sea-coasts. They are almost all smaller in stature than the other Americans, and are quick, lively, and talkative. Their hair is almost straight, and black; but their skin (and this is very characteristic of the race, which I shall designate under the name of Tschougaz–Esquimaux) is originally whitish. It is certain that the children of the Greenlanders are born white; some retain that whiteness; and often in the brownest (the most tanned) the redness of the blood is seen to appear on their cheeks.*

[* Vater, in Mithridates volume 3. Egede, Krantz, Hearne, Mackenzie, Portlock, Chwostoff, Davidoff, Resanoff, Merk, and Billing, have described the great family of these Tschougaz–Esquimaux.]

[* I mean here only the Tschouktsches who have fixed dwelling-places, for the wandering Tschouktsches approach very near the Koriaks.]

[* Krantz, Hist. of Greenland 1667 tome 1. Greenland does not seem to have been inhabited in the eleventh century; at least the Esquimaux appeared only in the fourteenth, coming from the west.]

The second portion of the natives of America includes all those nations which are not Tschougaz–Esquimaux, beginning from Cook’s River to the Straits of Magellan, from the Ugaljachmouzes and the Kinaese of Mount St. Elias, to the Puelches and Tehuelhets of the southern hemisphere. The men who belong to this second branch, are taller, stronger, more warlike, and more taciturn than the others. They present also very remarkable differences in the colour of their skin. In Mexico, Peru, New Grenada, Quito, on the banks of the Orinoco and of the river Amazon, in every part of South America which I have explored, in the plains as well as on the coldest table-lands, the Indian children of two or three months old have the same bronze tint as is observed in adults. The idea that the natives may be whites tanned by the air and the sun, could never have occurred to a Spanish inhabitant of Quito, or of the banks of the Orinoco. In the north-east of America, on the contrary, we meet with tribes among whom the children are white, and at the age of virility they acquire the bronze colour of the natives of Mexico and Peru. Michikinakoua, chief of the Miamis, had his arms, and those parts of his body not exposed to the sun, almost white. This difference of hue between the parts covered and not covered is never observed among the natives of Peru and Mexico, even in families who live much at their ease, and remain almost constantly within doors. To the west of the Miamis, on the coast opposite to Asia, among the Kolouches and Tchinkitans* of Norfolk Sound, grown-up girls, when they have gashed their skin, display the white hue of Europeans. This whiteness is found also, according to some accounts, among the mountaineers of Chile.*

[* Between 54 and 58° of latitude. These white nations have been visited successively by Portlock, Marchand, Baranoff, and Davidoff. The Tchinkitans, or Schinkit, are the inhabitants of the island of Sitka. Vater Mithridates volume 3 page 2. Marchand Voyages volume 2.]

[* Molina, Saggio sull’ Istoria Nat. del Chile edition 2 page 293. May we believe the existence of those blue eyes of the Boroas of Chile and Guayanas of Uruguay; represented to us as nations of the race of Odin? Azara Voyage tome 2.]

These facts are very remarkable, and contrary to the opinion so generally spread, of the extreme conformity of organization among the natives of America. If we divide them into Esquimaux and non-Esquimaux, we readily admit that this classification is not more philosophical than that of the ancients, who saw in the whole of the habitable world only Celts and Scythians, Greeks, and Barbarians. When, however, our purpose is to group numerous nations, we gain something by proceeding in the mode of exclusion. All we have sought to establish here is, that, in separating the whole race of Tschougaz–Esquimaux, there remain still, among the coppery-brown Americans, other races, the children of which are born white, without our being able to prove, by going back as far as the history of the Conquest, that they have been mingled with European blood. This fact deserves to be cleared up by travellers who may possess a knowledge of physiology, and may have opportunities of examining the brown children of the Mexicans at the age of two years, as well as the white children of the Miamis, and those hordes* on the Orinoco, who, living in the most sultry regions, retain during their whole life, and in the fulness of their strength, the whitish skin of the Mestizoes.

[* These whitish tribes are the Guaycas, the Ojos, and the Maquiritares.]

In man, the deviations from the common type of the whole race are apparent in the stature, the physiognomy, or the form of the body, rather than on the colour of the skin.* It is not so with animals, where varieties are found more in colour than in form. The hair of the mammiferous class of animals, the feathers of birds, and even the scales of fishes, change their hue, according to the lengthened influence of light and darkness, and the intensity of heat and cold. In man, the colouring matter seems to be deposited in the epidermis by the roots or the bulbs of the hair:* and all sound observations prove, that the skin varies in colour from the action of external stimuli on individuals, and not hereditarily in the whole race. The Esquimaux of Greenland and the Laplanders are tanned by the influence of the air; but their children are born white. We will not decide on the changes which nature may have produced in a space of time exceeding all historical tradition. Reason stops short in these matters, when no longer under the guidance of experience and analogy.

[* The circumpolar nations of the two continents are small and squat, though of races entirely different.]

[* Adverting to the interesting researches of M. Gaultier, on the organisation of the human skin, John Hunter observes, that in several animals the colorating of the hair is independent of that of the skin.]

All white-skinned nations begin their cosmogony by white men; they allege that the negroes and all tawny people have been blackened or embrowned by the excessive heat of the sun. This theory, adopted by the Greeks,* though it did not pass without contradiction,* has been propagated even to our own times. Buffon has repeated in prose what Theodectes had expressed in verse two thousand years before: “that nations wear the livery of the climate in which they live.” If history had been written by black nations, they would have maintained what even Europeans have recently advanced,* that man was originally black, or of a very tawny colour; and that mankind have become white in some races, from the effect of civilization and progressive debilitation, as animals, in a state of domestication, pass from dark to lighter colours. In plants and in animals, accidental varieties, formed under our own eyes, have become fixed, and have been propagated;* but nothing proves, that in the present state of human organization, the different races of black, yellow, copper-coloured, and white men, when they remain unmixed, deviate considerably from their primitive type, by the influence of climate, of food, and other external agents.

[* Strabo, liv. 15.]

[* Onesicritus, apud Strabonem, lib. 15. Alexander’s expedition appears to have contributed greatly to fix the attention of the Greeks on the great question of the influence of climates. They had learned from the accounts of travellers, that in Hindostan the nations of the south were of darker colour than those of the north, near the mountains: and they supposed that they were both of the same race.]

[* See the work of Mr. Prichard, abounding with curious research. “Researches into the Physical History of Man, 1813,” page 239.]

[* For example, the sheep with very short legs, called ancon sheep in Connecticut, and examined by Sir Everard Home. This variety dates only from the year 1791.]

These opinions are founded on the authority of Ulloa.* That learned writer saw the Indians of Chile, of the Andes of Peru, of the burning coasts of Panama, and those of Louisiana, situated in the northern temperate zone. He had the good fortune to live at a period when theories were less numerous; and, like me, he was struck by seeing the natives equally bronzed under the Line, in the cold climate of the Cordilleras, and in the plains. Where differences of colour are observed, they depend on the race. We shall soon find on the burning banks of the Orinoco Indians with a whitish skin. Durans originis vis est.

[* “The Indians [Americans] are of a copper-colour, which by the action of the sun and the air grows darker. I must remark, that neither heat nor cold produces any sensible change in the colour, so that the Indians of the Cordilleras of Peru are easily confounded with those of the hottest plains; and those who live under the Line cannot be distinguished, by their colour, from those who inhabit the fortieth degree of north and south latitude.”— Noticias Americanas. No ancient author has so clearly stated the two forms of reasoning, by which we still explain in our days the differences of colour and features among neighbouring nations, as Tacitus. He makes a just distinction between the influence of climate, and hereditary dispositions; and, like a philosopher persuaded of our profound ignorance of the origin of things, he leaves the question undecided. “Habitus corporum varii; atque ex eo argumenta, seu durante originis vi, seu procurrentibus in diversa terris, positio coeli corporibus habitum dedit.”— Agricola, cap 2.]

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