Voyages and Travels: Ancient and Modern. The Harvard Classics. 190914.
The Discovery of Guiana
Sir Walter Raleigh
ON12 Thursday, the sixth of February, in the year 1595, we departed England, and the Sunday following had sight of the north cape of Spain, the wind for the most part continuing prosperous; we passed in sight of the Burlings, and the Rock, and so onwards for the Canaries, and fell with Fuerteventura the 17. of the same month, where we spent two or three days, and relieved our companies with some fresh meat. From thence we coasted by the Grand Canaria, and so to Teneriffe, and stayed there for the Lions Whelp, your Lordships ship, and for Captain Amyas Preston and the rest. But when after seven or eight days we found them not, we departed and directed our course for Trinidad, with mine own ship, and a small barque of Captain Crosss only; for we had before lost sight of a small galego on the coast of Spain, which came with us from Plymouth. We arrived at Trinidad the 22. of March, casting anchor at Point Curiapan, which the Spaniards call Punta de Gallo, which is situate in eight degrees or thereabouts. We abode there four or five days, and in all that time we came not to the speech of any Indian or Spaniard. On the coast we saw a fire, as we sailed from the Point Carao towards Curiapan, but for fear of the Spaniards none durst come to speak with us. I myself coasted it in my barge close aboard the shore and landed in every cove, the better to know the island, while the ships kept the channel. From Curiapan after a few days we turned up north-east to recover that place which the Spaniards call Puérto de los Españoles,3 and the inhabitants Conquerabia; and as before, revictualling my barge, I left the ships and kept by the shore, the better to come to speech with some of the inhabitants, and also to understand the rivers, watering-places, and ports of the island, which, as it is rudely done, my purpose is to send your Lordship after a few days. From Curiapan I came to a port and seat of Indians called Parico, where we found a fresh water river, but saw no people. From thence I rowed to another port, called by the naturals Piche, and by the Spaniards Tierra de Brea. In the way between both were divers little brooks of fresh water, and one salt river that had store of oysters upon the branches of ehe trees, and were very salt and well tasted. All their oysters grow upon those boughs and sprays, and not on the ground; the like is commonly seen in other places of the West Indies, and elsewhere. This tree is described by Andrew Thevet, in his France Antarctique, and the form figured in the book as a plant very strange; and by Pliny in his twelfth book of his Natural History. But in this island, as also in Guiana, there are very many of them.
At this point, called Tierra de Brea or Piche, there is that abundance of stone pitch that all the ships of the world may be therewith laden from thence; and we made trial of it in trimming our ships to be most excellent good, and melteth not with the sun as the pitch of Norway, and therefore for ships trading the south parts very profitable. From thence we went to the mountain foot called Annaperima, and so passing the river Carone, on which the Spanish city was seated, we met with our ships at Puérto de los Españoles or Conquerabia.
This island of Trinidad hath the form of a sheephook, and is but narrow; the north part is very mountainous; the soil is very excellent, and will bear sugar, ginger, or any other commodity that the Indies yield. It hath store of deer, wild porks, fruit, fish, and fowl; it hath also for bread sufficient maize, cassavi, and of those roots and fruits which are common everywhere in the West Indies. It hath divers beasts which the Indies have not; the Spaniards confessed that they found grains of gold in some of the rivers; but they having a purpose to enter Guiana, the magazine of all rich metals, cared not to spend time in the search thereof any further. This island is called by the people thereof Cairi, and in it are divers nations. Those about Parico are called Jajo, those at Punta de Carao are of the Arwacas4 and between Carao and Curiapan they are called Salvajos. Between Carao and Punta de Galera are the Nepojos, and those about the Spanish city term themselves Carinepagotes.5 Of the rest of the nations, and of other ports and rivers, I leave to speak here, being impertinent to my purpose, and mean to describe them as they are situate in the particular plot and description of the island, three parts whereof I coasted with my barge, that I might the better describe it.
Meeting with the ships at Puérto de los Españoles, we found at the landing-place a company of Spaniards who kept a guard at the descent; and they offering a sign of peace, I sent Captain Whiddon to speak with them, whom afterwards to my great grief I left buried in the said island after my return from Guiana, being a man most honest and valiant. The Spaniards seemed to be desirous to trade with us, and to enter into terms of peace, more for doubt of their own strength than for aught else; and in the end, upon pledge, some of them came aboard. The same evening there stale also aboard us in a small canoa two Indians, the one of them being a cacique or lord of the people, called Cantyman, who had the year before been with Captain Whiddon, and was of his acquaintance. By this Cantyman we understood what strength the Spaniards had, how far it was to their city, and of Don Antonio de Berreo, the governor, who was said to be slain in his second attempt of Guiana, but was not.
While we remained at Puérto de los Españoles some Spaniards came aboard us to buy linen of the company, and such other things as they wanted, and also to view our ships and company, all which I entertained kindly and feasted after our manner. By means whereof I learned of one and another as much of the estate of Guiana as I could, or as they knew; for those poor soldiers having been many years without wine, a few draughts made them merry, in which mood they vaunted of Guiana and the riches thereof, and all what they knew of the ways and passages; myself seeming to purpose nothing less than the entrance or discovery thereof, but bred in them an opinion that I was bound only for the relief of those English which I had planted in Virginia, whereof the bruit was come among them; which I had performed in my return, if extremity of weather had not forced me from the said coast.
I found occasions of staying in this place for two causes. The one was to be revenged of Berreo, who the year before, 1594, had betrayed eight of Captain Whiddons men, and took them while he departed from them to seek the Edward Bonaventure, which arrived at Trinidad the day before from the East Indies: in whose absence Berreo sent a canoa aboard the pinnace only with Indians and dogs inviting the company to go with them into the woods to kill a deer. Who like wise men, in the absence of their captain followed the Indians, but were no sooner one arquebus shot from the shore, but Berreos soldiers lying in ambush had them all, notwithstanding that he had given his word to Captain Whiddon that they should take water and wood safely. The other cause of my stay was, for that by discourse with the Spaniards I daily learned more and more of Guiana, of the rivers and passages, and of the enterprise of Berreo, by what means or fault he failed, and how he meant to prosecute the same.
While we thus spent the time I was assured by another cacique of the north side of the island, that Berreo had sent to Margarita and Cumaná for soldiers, meaning to have given me a cassado6 at parting, if it had been possible. For although he had given order through all the island that no Indian should come aboard to trade with me upon pain of hanging and quartering (having executed two of them for the same, which I afterwards found), yet every night there came some with most lamentable complaints of his cruelty: how he had divided the island and given to every soldier a part; that he made the ancient caciques, which were lords of the country, to be their slaves; that he kept them in chains, and dropped their naked bodies with burning bacon, and such other torments, which I found afterwards to be true. For in the city, after I entered the same, there were five of the lords or little kings, which they call caciques in the West Indies, in one chain, almost dead of famine, and wasted with torments. These are called in their own language acarewana, and now of late since English, French, and Spanish, are come among them, they call themselves captains, because they perceive that the chiefest of every ship is called by that name. Those five captains in the chain were called Wannawanare, Carroaori, Maquarima, Tarroopanama, and Aterima. So as both to be revenged of the former wrong, as also considering that to enter Guiana by small boats, to depart 400 or 500 miles from my ships, and to leave a garrison in my back interested in the same enterprise, who also daily expected supplies out of Spain, I should have savoured very much of the ass; and therefore taking a time of most advantage, I set upon the Corps du garde in the evening, and having put them to the sword, sent Captain Caulfield onwards with sixty soldiers, and myself followed with forty more, and so took their new city, which they called St. Joseph, by break of day. They abode not any fight after a few shot, and all being dismissed, but only Berreo and his companion,7 I brought them with me aboard, and at the instance of the Indians I set their new city of St. Joseph on fire. The same day arrived Captain George Gifford with your lordships ship, and Captain Keymis, whom I lost on the coast of Spain, with the galego, and in them divers gentlemen and others, which to our little army was a great comfort and supply.
We then hasted away towards our purposed discovery, and first I called all the captains of the island together that were enemies to the Spaniards; for there were some which Berreo had brought out of other countries, and planted there to eat out and waste those that were natural of the place. And by my Indian interpreter, which I carried out of England, I made them understand that I was the servant of a queen who was the great cacique of the north, and a virgin, and had more caciqui under her than there were trees in that island; that she was an enemy to the Castellani in respect of their tyranny and oppression, and that she delivered all such nations about her, as were by them oppressed; and having freed all the coast of the northern world from their servitude, had sent me to free them also, and withal to defend the country of Guiana from their invasion and conquest. I shewed them her Majestys picture, which they so admired and honoured, as it had been easy to have brought them idolatrous thereof. The like and a more large discourse I made to the rest of the nations, both in my passing to Guiana and to those of the borders, so as in that part of the world her Majesty is very famous and admirable; whom they now call EZRABETA CASSIPUNA AQUEREWANA, which is as much as Elizabeth, the Great Princess, or Greatest Commander. This done, we left Puérto de los Españoles, and returned to Curiapan, and having Berreo my prisoner, I gathered from him as much of Guiana as he knew. This Berreo is a gentleman well descended, and had long served the Spanish king in Milan, Naples, the Low Countries, and elsewhere, very valiant and liberal, and a gentleman of great assuredness, and of a great heart. I used him according to his estate and worth in all things I could, according to the small means I had.
I sent Captain Whiddon the year before to get what knowledge he could of Guiana: and the end of my journey at this time was to discover and enter the same. But my intelligence was far from truth, for the country is situate about 600 English miles further from the sea than I was made believe it had been. Which afterwards understanding to be true by Berreo, I kept it from the knowledge of my company, who else would never have been brought to attempt the same. Of which 600 miles I passed 400, leaving my ships so far from me at anchor in the sea, which was more of desire to perform that discovery than of reason, especially having such poor and weak vessels to transport ourselves in. For in the bottom of an old galego which I caused to be fashioned like a galley, and in one barge, two wherries, and a ship-boat of the Lions Whelp, we carried 100 persons and their victuals for a month in the same, being all driven to lie in the rain and weather in the open air, in the burning sun, and upon the hard boards, and to dress our meat, and to carry all manner of furniture in them. Wherewith they were so pestered and unsavoury, that what with victuals being most fish, with the wet clothes of so many men thrust together, and the heat of the sun, I will undertake there was never any prison in England that could be found more unsavoury and loathsome, especially to myself, who had for many years before been dieted and cared for in a sort far more differing.
If Captain Preston had not been persuaded that he should have come too late to Trinidad to have found us there (for the month was expired which I promised to tarry for him there ere he could recover the coast of Spain) but that it had pleased God he might have joined with us, and that we had entered the country but some ten days sooner ere the rivers were overflown, we had adventured either to have gone to the great city of Manoa, or at least taken so many of the other cities and towns nearer at hand, as would have made a royal return. But it pleased not God so much to favour me at this time. If it shall be my lot to prosecute the same, I shall willingly spend my life therein. And if any else shall be enabled thereunto, and conquer the same, I assure him thus much; he shall perform more than ever was done in Mexico by Cortes, or in Peru by Pizarro, whereof the one conquered the empire of Mutezuma, the other of Guascar and Atabalipa. And whatsoever prince shall possess it, that prince shall be lord of more gold, and of a more beautiful empire, and of more cities and people, than either the king of Spain or the Great Turk.
But because there may arise many doubts, and how this empire of Guiana is become so populous, and adorned with so many great cities, towns, temples, and treasures, I thought good to make it known, that the emperor now reigning is descended from those magnificent princes of Peru, of whose large territories, of whose policies, conquests, edifices, and riches, Pedro de Cieza, Francisco Lopez, and others have written large discourses. For when Francisco Pizarro, Diego Almagro and others conquered the said empire of Peru, and had put to death Atabalipa, son to Guayna Capac, which Atabalipa had formerly caused his eldest brother Guascar to be slain, one of the younger sons of Guayna Capac fled out of Peru, and took with him many thousands of those soldiers of the empire called orejones,8 and with those and many others which followed him, he vanquished all that tract and valley of America which is situate between the great river of Amazons and Baraquan, otherwise called Orenoque and Mara&ntidle;on.9
The empire of Guiana is directly east from Peru towards the sea, and lieth under the equinoctial line; and it hath more abundance of gold than any part of Peru, and as many or moe10 great cities than ever Peru had when it flourished most. It is governed by the same laws, and the emperor and people observe the same religion, and the same form and policies in government as were used in Peru, not differing in any part. And I have been assured by such of the Spaniards as have seen Manoa, the imperial city of Guiana, which the Spaniards call El Dorado, that for the greatness, for the riches, and for the excellent seat, it far exceedeth any of the world, at least of so much of the world as is known to the Spanish nation. It is founded upon a lake of salt water of 200 leagues long, like unto Mare Caspium. And if we compare it to that of Peru, and but read the report of Francisco Lopez and others, it will seem more than credible; and because we may judge of the one by the other, I thought good to insert part of the 120. chapter of Lopez in his General History of the Indies, wherein he describeth the court and magnificence of Guayna Capac, ancestor to the emperor of Guiana, whose very words are these:
Todo el servicio de su casa, mesa, y cocina era de oro y de plata, y cuando menos de plata y cobre, por mas recio. Tenia en su recamara estatuas huecas de oro, que parescian gigantes, y las figuras al propio y tamaño de cuantos animales, aves, arboles, y yerbas produce la tierra, y de cuantos peces cria la mar y agua de sus reynos. Tenia asimesmo sogas, costales, cestas, y troxes de oro y plata; rimeros de palos de oro, que pareciesen leña rajada para quemar. En fin no habia cosa en su tierra, que no la tuviese de oro contrahecha; y aun dizen, que tenian los Ingas un verjel en una isla cerca de la Puna, donde se iban a holgar, cuando querian mar, que tenia la hortaliza, las flores, y arboles de oro y plata; invencion y grandeza hasta entonces nunca vista. Allende de todo esto, tenia infinitisima cantidad de plata y oro por labrar en el Cuzco, que se perdio por la muerte de Guascar; ca los Indios lo escondieron, viendo que los Españoles se lo tomaban, y enviaban a España. That is, All the vessels of his house, table, and kitchen, were of gold and silver, and the meanest of silver and copper for strength and hardness of metal. He had in his wardrobe hollow statues of gold which seemed giants, and the figures in proportion and bigness of all the beasts, birds, trees, and herbs, that the earth bringeth forth; and of all the fishes that the sea or waters of his kingdom breedeth. He had also ropes, budgets, chests, and troughs of gold and silver, heaps of billets of gold, that seemed wood marked out11 to burn. Finally, there was nothing in his country whereof he had not the counterfeit in gold. Yea, and they say, the Ingas had a garden of pleasure in an island near Puna, where they went to recreate themselves, when they would take the air of the sea, which had all kinds of garden-herbs, flowers, and trees of gold and silver; an invention and magnificence till then never seen. Besides all this, he had an infinite quantity of silver and gold unwrought in Cuzco, which was lost by the death of Guascar, for the Indians hid it, seeing that the Spaniards took it, and sent it into Spain.
And in the 117. chapter; Francisco Pizarro caused the gold and silver of Atabalipa to be weighed after he had taken it, which Lopez setteth down in these words following:Hallaron cincuenta y dos mil marcos de buena plata, y un millon y trecientos y veinte y seis mil y quinientos pesos de oro. Which is, They found 52,000 marks of good silver, and 1,326,500 pesos of gold. Now, although these reports may seem strange, yet if we consider the many millions which are daily brought out of Peru into Spain, we may easily believe the same. For we find that by the abundant treasure of that country the Spanish king vexes all the princes of Europe, and is become, in a few years, from a poor king of Castile, the greatest monarch of this part of the world, and likely every day to increase if other princes forslow the good occasions offered, and suffer him to add this empire to the rest, which by far exceedeth all the rest. If his gold now endanger us, he will then be unresistible. Such of the Spaniards as afterwards endeavoured the conquest thereof, whereof there have been many, as shall be declared hereafter, thought that this Inga, of whom this emperor now living is descended, took his way by the river of Amazons, by that branch which is called Papamene.12 For by that way followed Orellana, by the commandment of Gonzalo Pizarro, in the year 1542, whose name the river also beareth this day. Which is also by others called Marañon, although Andrew Thevet doth affirm that between Marañon and Amazons there are 120 leagues; but sure it is that those rivers have one head and beginning, and the Marañon, which Thevet describeth, is but a branch of Amazons or Orellana, of which I will speak more in another place. It was attempted by Ordas; but it is now little less than 70 years since that Diego Ordas, a Knight of the Order of Santiago, attempted the same; and it was in the year 1542 that Orellana discovered the river of Amazons; but the first that ever saw Manoa was Juan Martinez, master of the munition to Ordas. At a port called Morequito,13 in Guiana, there lieth at this day a great anchor of Ordas his ship. And this port is some 300 miles within the land, upon the great river of Orenoque. I rested at this port four days, twenty days after I left the ships at Curiapan.
The relation of this Martinez, who was the first that discovered Manoa, his success, and end, is to be seen in the Chancery of St. Juan de Puerto Rico, where of Berreo had a copy, which appeared to be the greatest encouragement as well to Berreo as to others that formerly attempted the discovery and conquest. Orellana, after he failed of the discovery of Guiana by the said river of Amazons, passed into Spain, and there obtained a patent of the king for the invasion and conquest, but died by sea about the islands; and his fleet being severed by tempest, the action for that time proceeded not. Diego Ordas followed the enterprise, and departed Spain with 600 soldiers and thirty horse. Who, arriving on the coast of Guiana, was slain in a mutiny, with the most part of such as favoured him, as also of the rebellious part, insomuch as his ships perished and few or none returned; neither was it certainly known what became of the said Ordas until Berreo found the anchor of his ship in the river of Orenoque; but it was supposed, and so it is written by Lopez, that he perished on the seas, and of other writers diversely conceived and reported. And hereof it came that Martinez entered so far within the land, and arrived at that city of Inga the emperor; for it chanced that while Ordas with his army rested at the port of Morequito (who was either the first or second that attempted Guiana), by some negligence the whole store of powder provided for the service was set on fire, and Martinez, having the chief charge, was condemned by the General Ordas to be executed forthwith. Martinez, being much favoured by the soldiers, had all the means possible procured for his life; but it could not be obtained in other sort than this, that he should be set into a canoa alone, without any victual, only with his arms, and so turned loose into the great river. But it pleased God that the canoa was carried down the stream, and certain of the Guianians met it the same evening; and, having not at any time seen any Christian nor any man of that colour, they carried Martinez into the land to be wondered at, and so from town to town, until he came to the great city of Manoa, the seat and residence of Inga the emperor. The emperor, after he had beheld him, knew him to be a Christian, for it was not long before that his brethren Guascar and Atabalipa were vanquished by the Spaniards in Peru: and caused him to be lodged in his palace, and well entertained. He lived seven months in Manoa, but was not suffered to wander into the country anywhere. He was also brought thither all the way blindfold, led by the Indians, until he came to the entrance of Manoa itself, and was fourteen or fifteen days in the passage. He avowed at his death that he entered the city at noon, and then they uncovered his face; and that he travelled all that day till night thorough the city, and the next day from sun rising to sun setting, yere14 he came to the palace of Inga. After that Martinez had lived seven months in Manoa, and began to understand the language of the country, Inga asked him whether he desired to return into his own country, or would willingly abide with him. But Martinez, not desirous to stay, obtained the favour of Inga to depart; with whom he sent divers Guianians to conduct him to the river of Orenoque, all loaden with as much gold as they could carry, which he gave to Martinez at his departure. But when he was arrived near the rivers side, the borderers which are called Orenoqueponi15 robbed him and his Guianians of all the treasure (the borderers being at that time at wars, which Inga had not conquered) save only of two great bottles of gourds, which were filled with beads of gold curiously wrought, which those Orenoqueponi thought had been no other thing than his drink or meat, or grain for food, with which Martinez had liberty to pass. And so in canoas he fell down from the river of Orenoque to Trinidad, and from thence to Margarita, and so to St. Juan del Puerto Rico; where, remaining a long time for passage into Spain, he died. In the time of his extreme sickness, and when he was without hope of life, receiving the sacrament at the hands of his confessor, he delivered these things, with the relation of his travels, and also called for his calabazas or gourds of the gold beads, which he gave to the church and friars, to be prayed for.
This Martinez was he that christened the city of Manoa by the name of El Dorado, and, as Berreo informed me, upon this occasion, those Guianians, and also the borderers, and all other in that tract which I have seen, are marvellous great drunkards; in which vice I think no nation can compare with them; and at the times of their solemn feasts, when the emperor carouseth with his captains, tributaries, and governors, the manner is thus. All those that pledge him are first stripped naked and their bodies anointed all over with a kind of white balsamum (by them called curca), of which there is great plenty, and yet very dear amongst them, and it is of all other the most precious, whereof we have had good experience. When they are anointed all over, certain servants of the emperor, having prepared gold made into fine powder, blow it thorough hollow canes upon their naked bodies, until they be all shining from the foot to the head; and in this sort they sit drinking by twenties and hundreds, and continue in drunkenness sometimes six or seven days together.16 The same is also confirmed by a letter written into Spain which was intercepted, which Master Robert Dudley told me he had seen. Upon this sight, and for the abundance of gold which he saw in the city, the images of gold in their temples, the plates, armours, and shields of gold which they use in the wars, he called it El Dorado.
After the death of Ordas and Martinez, and after Orellana, who was employed by Gonzalo Pizarro, one Pedro de Orsúa, a knight of Navarre, attempted Guiana, taking his way into Peru, and built his brigandines upon a river called Oia, which riseth to the southward of Quito, and is very great. This river falleth into Amazons, by which Orsúa with his companies descended, and came out of that province which is called Motilones;17 and it seemeth to me that this empire is reserved for her Majesty and the English nation, by reason of the hard success which all these and other Spaniards found in attempting the same, whereof I will speak briefly, though impertinent in some sort to my purpose. This Pedro de Orsúa had among his troops a Biscayan called Aguirre, a man meanly born, who bare no other office than a sergeant or alferez:18 but after certain months, when the soldiers were grieved with travels and consumed with famine, and that no entrance could be found by the branches or body of Amazons, this Aguirre raised a mutiny, of which he made himself the head, and so prevailed as he put Orsúa to the sword and all his followers, taking on him the whole charge and commandment, with a purpose not only to make himself emperor of Guiana, but also of Peru and of all that side of the West Indies. He had of his party 700 soldiers, and of those many promised to draw in other captains and companies, to deliver up towns and forts in Peru; but neither finding by the said river any passage into Guiana, nor any possibility to return towards Peru by the same Amazons, by reason that the descent of the river made so great a current, he was enforced to disemboque at the mouth of the said Amazons, which cannot be less than 1,000 leagues from the place where they embarked. From thence he coasted the land till he arrived at Margarita to the north of Mompatar, which is at this day called Puerto de Tyranno, for that he there slew Don Juan de Villa Andreda, Governor of Margarita, who was father to Don Juan Sarmiento, Governor of Margarita when Sir John Burgh landed there and attempted the island. Aguirre put to the sword all other in the island that refused to be of his party, and took with him certain cimarrones19 and other desperate companions. From thence he went to Cumaná and there slew the governor, and dealt in all as at Margarita. He spoiled all the coast of Caracas and the province of Venezuela and of Rio de la Hacha; and, as I remember, it was the same year that Sir John Hawkins sailed to St. Juan de Ullua in the Jesus of Lubeck;20 for himself told me that he met with such a one upon the coast, that rebelled, and had sailed down all the river of Amazons. Aguirre from thence landed about Santa Marta and sacked it also, putting to death so many as refused to be his followers, purposing to invade Nuevo Reyno de Granada and to sack Pamplona, Merida, Lagrita, Tunja, and the rest of the cities of Nuevo Reyno, and from thence again to enter Peru; but in a fight in the said Nuevo Reyno he was overthrown, and, finding no way to escape, he first put to the sword his own children, foretelling them that they should not live to be defamed or upbraided by the Spaniards after his death, who would have termed them the children of a traitor or tyrant; and that, sithence he could not make them princes, he would yet deliver them from shame and reproach. These were the ends and tragedies of Ordas, Martinez, Orellana, Orsúa, and Aguirre. Also soon after Ordas followed Jeronimo Ortal de Saragosa, with 130 soldiers; who failing his entrance by sea, was cast with the current on the coast of Paria, and peopled about S. Miguel de Neveri. It was then attempted by Don Pedro de Silva, a Portuguese of the family of Ruy Gomez de Silva, and by the favour which Ruy Gomes had with the king he was set out. But he also shot wide of the mark; for being departed from Spain with his fleet, he entered by Marañon or Amazons, where by the nations of the river and by the Amazons, he was utterly overthrown, and himself and all his army defeated; only seven escaped, and of those but two returned.
After him came Pedro Hernandez de Serpa, and landed at Cumaná, in the West Indies, taking his journey by land towards Orenoque, which may be some 120 leagues; but yere he came to the borders of the said river, he was set upon by a nation of the Indians, called Wikiri, and overthrown in such sort, that of 300 soldiers, horsemen, many Indians, and negroes, there returned but eighteen. Others affirm that he was defeated in the very entrance of Guiana, at the first civil town of the empire called Macureguarai. Captain Preston, in taking Santiago de Leon (which was by him and his companies very resolutely performed, being a great town, and far within the land) held a gentleman prisoner, who died in his ship, that was one of the company of Hernandez de Serpa, and saved among those that escaped; who witnessed what opinion is held among the Spaniards thereabouts of the great riches of Guiana, and El Dorado, the city of Inga. Another Spaniard was brought aboard me by Captain Preston, who told me in the hearing of himself and divers other gentlemen, that he met with Berreos camp-master at Caracas, when he came from the borders of Guiana, and that he saw with him forty of most pure plates of gold, curiously wrought, and swords of Guiana decked and inlaid with gold, feath-ers garnished with gold, and divers rarities, which he carried to the Spanish king.
After Hernandez de Serpa, it was undertaken by the Adelantado, Don Gonzalez Ximenes de Quesada, who was one of the chiefest in the conquest of Nuevo Reyno, whose daughter and heir Don Antonio de Berreo married. Gonzalez sought the passage also by the river called Papamene, which riseth by Quito, in Peru, and runneth south-east 100 leagues, and then falleth into Amazons. But he also, failing the entrance, returned with the loss of much labour and cost. I took one Captain George, a Spaniard, that followed Gonzalez in this enterprise. Gonzalez gave his daughter to Berreo, taking his oath and honour to follow the enterprise to the last of his substance and life. Who since, as he hath sworn to me, hath spent 300,000 ducats in the same, and yet never could enter so far into the land as myself with that poor troop, or rather a handful of men, being in all about 100 gentlemen, soldiers, rowers, boat-keepers, boys, and of all sorts; neither could any of the forepassed undertakers, nor Berreo himself, discover the country, till now late y by conference with an ancient king, called Carapana,21 he got the true light thereof. For Berreo came about 1,500 miles yere he understood aught, or could find any passage or entrance into any part thereof; yet he had experience of all these fore-named, and divers others, and was persuaded of their errors and mistakings. Berreo sought it by the river Cassanar, which falleth into a great river called Pato: Pato falleth into Meta, and Meta into Baraquan, which is also called Orenoque. He took his journey from Nuevo Reyno de Granada, where he dwelt, having the inheritance of Gonzalez Ximenes in those parts; he was followed with 700 horse, he drove with him 1,000 head of cattle, he had also many women, Indians, and slaves. How all these rivers cross and encounter, how the country lieth and is bordered, the passage of Ximenes and Berreo, mine own discovery, and the way that I entered, with all the rest of the nations and rivers, your lordship shall receive in a large chart or map, which I have not yet finished, and which I shall most humbly pray your lordship to secrete, and not to suffer it to pass your own hands; for by a draught thereof all may be prevented by other nations; for I know it is this very year sought by the French, although by the way that they now take, I fear it not much. It was also told me yere I departed England, that Villiers, the Admiral, was in preparation for the planting of Amazons, to which river the French have made divers voyages, and returned22 much gold and other rarities. I spake with a captain of a French ship that came from thence, his ship riding in Falmouth the same year that my ships came first from Virginia; there was another this year in Helford, that also came from thence, and had been fourteen months at an anchor in Amazons; which were both very rich.
Although, as I am persuaded, Guiana cannot be entered that way, yet no doubt the trade of gold from thence passeth by branches of rivers into the river of Amazons, and so it doth on every hand far from the country itself; for those Indians of Trinidad have plates of gold from Guiana, and those cannibals of Dominica which dwell in the islands by which our ships pass yearly to the West Indies, also the Indians of Paria, those Indians called Tucaris, Chochi, Apotomios, Cumanagotos, and all those other nations inhabiting near about the mountains that run from Paria thorough the province of Venezuela, and in Maracapana, and the cannibals of Guanipa, the Indians called Assawai, Coaca, Ajai, and the rest (all which shall be described in my description as they are situate) have plates of gold of Guiana. And upon the river of Amazons, Thevet writeth that the people wear croissants of gold, for of that form the Guianians most commonly make them; so as from Dominica to Amazons, which is above 250 leagues, all the chief Indians in all parts wear of those plates of Guiana. Undoubtedly those that trade [with] Amazons return much gold, which (as is aforesaid) cometh by trade from Guiana, by some branch of a river that falleth from the country into Amazons, and either it is by the river which passeth by the nations called Tisnados, or by Caripuna.
I made enquiry amongst the most ancient and best travelled of the Orenoqueponi, and I had knowledge of all the rivers between Orenoque and Amazons, and was very desirous to understand the truth of those warlike women, because of some it is believed, of others not. And though I digress from my purpose, yet I will set down that which hath been delivered me for truth of those women, and I spake with a cacique, or lord of people, that told me he had been in the river, and beyond it also. The nations of these women are on the south side of the river in the provinces of Topago, and their chiefest strengths and retracts are in the islands situate on the south side of the entrance, some 60 leagues within the mouth of the said river. The memories of the like women are very ancient as well in Africa as in Asia. In Africa those that had Medusa for queen; others in Scythia, near the rivers of Tanais and Thermodon. We find, also, that Lampedo and Marthesia were queens of the Amazons. In many histories they are verified to have been, and in divers ages and provinces; but they which are not far from Guiana do accompany with men but once in a year, and for the time of one month, which I gather by their relation, to be in April; and that time all kings of the borders assemble, and queens of the Amazons; and after the queens have chosen, the rest cast lots for their valentines. This one month they feast, dance, and drink of their wines in abundance; and the moon being done they all depart to their own provinces. . . . . They are said to be very cruel and bloodthirsty, especially to such as offer to invade their territories. These Amazons have likewise great store of these plates of gold, which they recover by exchange chiefly for a kind of green stones, which the Spaniards call piedras hijadas, and we use for spleen-stones;23 and for the disease of the stone we also esteem them. Of these I saw divers in Guiana; and commonly every king or cacique hath one, which their wives for the most part wear, and they esteem them as great jewels.
But to return to the enterprise of Berreo, who, as I have said, departed from Nuevo Reyno with 700 horse, besides the provisions above rehearsed. He descended by the river called Cassanar, which riseth in Nuevo Reyno out of the mountains by the city of Tunja, from which mountain also springeth Pato; both which fall into the great river of Meta, and Meta riseth from a mountain joining to Pamplona, in the same Nuevo Reyno de Granada. These, as also Guaiare, which issueth out of the mountains by Timana, fall all into Baraquan, and are but of his heads; for at their coming together they lose their names, and Baraquan farther down is also rebaptized by the name of Orenoque. On the other side of the city and hills of Timana riseth Rio Grande, which falleth into the sea by Santa Marta. By Cassanar first, and so into Meta, Berreo passed, keeping his horsemen on the banks, where the country served them for to march; and where otherwise, he was driven to embark them in boats which he builded for the purpose, and so came with the current down the river of Meta, and so into Baraquan. After he entered that great and mighty river, he began daily to lose of his companies both men and horse; for it is in many places violently swift, and hath forcible eddies, many sands, and divers islands sharp pointed with rocks. But after one whole year, journeying for the most part by river, and the rest by land, he grew daily to fewer numbers; from both by sickness, and by encountering with the people of those regions thorough which he travelled, his companies were much wasted, especially by divers encounters with the Amapaians.24 And in all this time he never could learn of any passage into Guiana, nor any news or fame thereof, until he came to a further border of the said Amapaia, eight days journey from the river Caroli,25 which was the furthest river that he entered. Among those of Amapaia, Guiana was famous; but few of these people accosted Berreo, or would trade with him the first three months of the six which he sojourned there. This Amapaia is also marvellous rich in gold, as both Berreo confessed and those of Guiana with whom I had most conference; and is situate upon Orenoque also. In this country Berreo lost sixty of his best soldiers, and most of all his horse that remained in his former years travel. But in the end, after divers encounters with those nations, they grew to peace, and they presented Berreo with ten images of fine gold among divers other plates and croissants, which, as he sware to me, and divers other gentlemen, were so curiously wrought, as he had not seen the like either in Italy, Spain, or the Low Countries; and he was resolved that when they came to the hands of the Spanish king, to whom he had sent them by his camp-master, they would appear very admirable, especially being wrought by such a nation as had no iron instruments at all, nor any of those helps which our goldsmiths have to work withal. The particular name of the people in Amapaia which gave him these pieces, are called Anebas, and the river of Orenoque at that place is about twelve English miles broad, which may be from his outfall into the sea 700 or 800 miles.
This province of Amapaia is a very low and a marish ground near the river; and by reason of the red water which issueth out in small branches thorough the fenny and boggy ground, there breed divers poisonful worms and serpents. And the Spaniards not suspecting, nor in any sort foreknowing the danger, were infected with a grievous kind of flux by drinking thereof, and even the very horses poisoned therewith; insomuch as at the end of the six months that they abode there, of all their troops there were not left above 120 soldiers, and neither horse nor cattle. For Berreo hoped to have found Guiana be 1,000 miles nearer than it fell out to be in the end; by means whereof they sustained much want, and much hunger, oppressed with grievous diseases, and all the miseries that could be imagined, I demanded of those in Guiana that had travelled Amapaia, how they lived with that tawny or red water when they travelled thither; and they told me that after the sun was near the middle of the sky, they used to fill their pots and pitchers with that water, but either before that time or towards the setting of the sun it was dangerous to drink of, and in the night strong poison. I learned also of divers other rivers of that nature among them, which were also, while the sun was in the meridian, very safe to drink, and in the morning, evening, and night, wonderful dangerous and infective. From this province Berreo hasted away as soon as the spring and beginning of summer appeared, and sought his entrance on the borders of Orenoque on the south side; but there ran a ledge of so high and impassable mountains, as he was not able by any means to march over them, continuing from the east sea into which Orenoque falleth, even to Quito in Peru. Neither had he means to carry victual or munition over those craggy, high, and fast hills, being all woody, and those so thick and spiny, and so full or prickles, thorns, and briars, as it is impossible to creep thorough them. He had also neither friendship among the people, nor any interpreter to persuade or treat with them; and more, to his disadvantage, the caciques and kings of Amapaia had given knowledge of his purpose to the Guianians, and that he sought to sack and conquer the empire, for the hope of their so great abundance and quantities of gold. He passed by the mouths of many great rivers which fell into Orenoque both from the north and south, which I forbear to name, for tediousness, and because they are more pleasing in describing than reading.
Berreo affirmed that there fell an hundred rivers into Orenoque from the north and south: whereof the least was as big as Rio Grande,26 that passed between Popayan and Nuevo Reyno de Granada, Rio Grande being esteemed one of the renowned rivers in all the West Indies, and numbered among the great rivers of the world. But he knew not the names of any of these, but Caroli only; neither from what nations they descended, neither to what provinces they led, for he had no means to discourse with the inhabitants at any time; neither was he curious in these things, being utterly unlearned, and not knowing the east from the west. But of all these I got some knowledge, and of many more, partly by mine own travel, and the rest by conference; of some one I learned one, of others the rest, having with me an Indian that spake many languages, and that of Guiana27 naturally. I sought out all the aged men, and such as were greatest travellers. And by the one and the other I came to understand the situations, the rivers, the kingdoms from the east sea to the borders of Peru, and from Orenoque southward as far as Amazons or Marañon, and the regions of Marinatambal,28 and of all the kings of provinces, and captains of towns and villages, how they stood in terms of peace or war, and which were friends or enemies the one with the other; without which there can be neither entrance nor conquest in those parts, nor elsewhere. For by the dissension between Guascar and Atabalipa, Pizarro conquered Peru, and by the hatred that the Tlaxcallians bare to Mutezuma, Cortes was victorious over Mexico; without which both the one and the other had failed of their enterprise, and of the great honour and riches which they attained unto.
Now Berreo began to grow into despair, and looked for no other success than his predecessor in this enterprise; until such time as he arrived at the province of Emeria towards the east sea and mouth of the river, where he found a nation of people very favourable, and the country full of all manner of victual. The king of this land is called Carapana, a man very wise, subtle, and of great experience, being little less than an hundred years old. In his youth he was sent by his father into the island of Trinidad, by reason of civil war among themselves, and was bred at a village in that island, called Parico. At that place in his youth he had seen many Christians, both French and Spanish, and went divers times with the Indians of Trinidad to Margarita and Cumaná, in the West Indies, for both those places have ever been relieved with victual from Trinidad: by reason whereof he grew of more understanding, and noted the difference of the nations, comparing the strength and arms of his country with those of the Christians, and ever after temporised so as whosoever else did amiss, or was wasted by contention, Carapana kept himself and his country in quiet and plenty. He also held peace with the Caribs or cannibals, his neighbours, and had free trade with all nations, whosoever else had war.
Berreo sojourned and rested his weak troop in the town of Carapana six weeks, and from him learned the way and passage to Guiana, and the riches and magnificence thereof. But being then utterly unable to proceed, he determined to try his fortune another year, when he had renewed his provisions, and regathered more force, which he hoped for as well out of Spain as from Nuevo Reyno, where he had left his son Don Antonio Ximenes to second him upon the first notice given of his entrance; and so for the present embarked himself in canoas, and by the branches of Orenoque arrived at Trinidad, having from Carapana sufficient pilots to conduct him. From Trinidad he coasted Paria, and so recovered Margarita; and having made relation to Don Juan Sarmiento, the Governor, of his proceeding, and persuaded him of the riches of Guiana, he obtained from thence fifty soldiers, promising presently to return to Carapana, and so into Guiana. But Berreo meant nothing less at that time; for he wanted many provisions necessary for such an enterprise, and therefore departed from Margarita, seated himself in Trinidad, and from thence sent his camp-master and his sergeant-major back to the borders to discover the nearest passage into the empire, as also to treat with the borderers, and to draw them to his party and love; without which, he knew he could neither pass safely, nor in any sort be relieved with victual or aught else. Carapana directed his company to a king called Morequito, assuring them that no man could deliver so much Guiana as Morequito could, and that his dwelling was but five days journey from Macureguarai, the first civil town of Guiana.
Now your lordship shall understand that this Morequito, one of the greatest lords or kings of the borders of Guiana, had two or three years before been at Cumaná and at Margarita, in the West Indies, with great store of plates of gold, which he carried to exchange for such other things as he wanted in his own country, and was daily feasted, and presented by the governors of those places, and held amongst them some two months. In which time one Vides, Governor of Cumaná, won him to be his conductor into Guiana, being allured by those croissants and images of gold which he brought with him to trade, as also by the ancient fame and magnificence of El Dorado; whereupon Vides sent into Spain for a patent to discover and conquer Guiana, not knowing of the precedence of Berreos patent; which, as Berreo affirmeth, was signed before that of Vidas. So as when Vides understood of Berreo and that he had made entrance into that territory, and foregone his desire and hope, it was verily thought that Vides practised with Morequito to hinder and disturb Berreo in all he could, and not to suffer him to enter through his seignory, nor any of his companies; neither to victual, nor guide them in any sort. For Vides, Governor of Cumaná, and Berreo, were become mortal enemies, as well for that Berreo had gotten Trinidad into his patent with Guiana, as also in that he was by Berreo prevented in the journey of Guiana itself. Howsoever it was, I know not, but Morequito for a time dissembled his disposition, suffered ten Spaniards and a friar, which Berreo has sent to discover Manoa, to travel through his country, gave them a guide for Macureguarai, the first town of civil and apparelled people, from whence they had other guides to bring them to Manoa, the great city of Inga; and being furnished with those things which they had learned of Carapana were of most price in Guiana, went onward, and in eleven days arrived at Manoa, as Berreo affirmeth for certain; although I could not be assured thereof by the lord which now governeth the province of Morequito, for he told me that they got all the gold they had in other towns on this side Manoa, there being many very great and rich, and (as he said) built like the towns of Christians, with many rooms.
When these ten Spaniards were returned, and ready to put out of the border of Aromaia,29 the people of Morequito set upon them, and slew them all but one that swam the river, and took from them to the value of 40,000 pesos of gold; and one of them only lived to bring the news to Berreo, that both his nine soldiers and holy father were benighted in the said province. I myself spake with the captains of Morequito that slew them, and was at the place where it was executed. Berreo, enraged herewithal, sent all the strength he could make into Aromaia, to be revenged of him, his people, and country. But Morequito, suspecting the same, fled over Orenoque, and thorough the territories of the Saima and Wikiri recovered Cumaná, where he thought himself very safe, with Vides the governor. But Berreo sending for him in the kings name, and his messengers finding him in the house of one Fajardo, on the sudden, yere he was suspected, so as he could not then be conveyed away, Vides durst not deny him, as well to avoid the suspicion of the practice, as also for that an holy father was slain by him and his people. Morequito offered Fajardo the weight of three quintals in gold, to let him escape; but the poor Guianian, betrayed on all sides, was delivered to the camp-master of Berreo, and was presently executed.
After the death of this Morequito, the soldiers of Berreo spoiled his territory and took divers prisoners. Among others they took the uncle of Morequito, called Topiawari, who is now king of Aromaia, whose son I brought with me into England, and is a man of great understanding and policy; he is above an hundred years old, and yet is of a very able body. The Spaniards led him in a chain seventeen days, and made him their guide from place to place between his country and Emeria, the province of Carapana aforesaid, and he was at last redeemed for an hundred plates of gold, and divers stones called piedras hijadas, or spleen-stones. Now Berreo for executing of Morequito, and other cruelties, spoils, and slaughters done in Aromaia, hath lost the love of the Orenoqueponi, and of all the borderers, and dare not send any of his soldiers any further into the land than to Carapana, which he called the port of Guiana; but from thence by the help of Carapana he had trade further into the country, and always appointed ten Spaniards to reside in Carapanas town,30 by whose favour, and by being conducted by his people, those ten searched the country thereabouts, as well for mines as for other trades and commodities.
They also have gotten a nephew of Morequito, whom they have christened and named Don Juan, of whom they have great hope, endeavouring by all means to establish him in the said province. Among many other trades, those Spaniards used canoas to pass to the rivers of Barema, Pawroma, and Dissequebe,31 which are on the south side of the mouth of Orenoque, and there buy women and children from the cannibals, which are of that barbarous nature, as they will for three or four hatchets sell the sons and daughters of their own brethren and sisters, and for somewhat more even their own daughters. Hereof the Spaniards make great profit; for buying a maid of twelve or thirteen years for three or four hatchets, they sell them again at Margarita in the West Indies for fifty and an hundred pesos, which is so many crowns.
The master of my ship, John Douglas, took one of the canoas which came laden from thence with people to be sold, and the most of them escaped; yet of those he brought, there was one as well favoured and as well shaped as ever I saw any in England; and afterwards I saw many of them, which but for their tawny colour may be compared to any in Europe. They also trade in those rivers for bread of cassavi, of which they buy an hundred pound weight for a knife, and sell it at Margarita for ten pesos. They also recover great store of cotton, Brazil wood, and those beds which they call hamacas or Brazil beds, wherein in hot countries all the Spaniards use to lie commonly, and in no other, neither did we ourselves while we were there. By means of which trades, for ransom of divers of the Guianians, and for exchange of hatchets and knives, Berreo recovered some store of gold plates, eagles of gold, and images of men and divers birds, and dispatched his camp-master for Spain, with all that he had gathered, therewith to levy soldiers, and by the show thereof to draw others to the love of the enterprise. And having sent divers images as well of men as beasts, birds, and fishes, so curiously wrought in gold, he doubted not but to persuade the king to yield to him some further help, especially for that this land hath never been sacked, the mines never wrought, and in the Indies their works were well spent, and the gold drawn out with great labour and charge. He also despatched messengers to his son in Nuevo Reyno to levy all the forces he could, and to come down the river Orenoque to Emeria, the province of Carapana, to meet him; he had also sent to Santiago de Leon on the coast of the Caracas, to buy horses and mules.
After I had thus learned of his proceedings past and purposed, I told him that I had resolved to see Guiana, and that it was the end of my journey, and the cause of my coming to Trinidad, as it was indeed, and for that purpose I sent Jacob Whiddon the year before to get intelligence: with whom Berreo himself had speech at that time, and remembered how inquisitive Jacob Whiddon was of his proceedings, and of the country of Guiana. Berreo was stricken into a great melancholy and sadness, and used all the arguments he could to dissuade me; and also assured the gentlemen of my company that it would be labour lost, and that they should suffer many miseries if they proceeded. And first he delivered that I could not enter any of the rivers with any bark or pinnace, or hardly with any ships boat, it was so low, sandy, and full of flats, and that his companies were daily grounded in their canoes, which drew but twelve inches water. He further said that none of the country would come to speak with us, but would all fly; and if we followed them to their dwellings, they would burn their own towns. And besides that, the way was long, the winter at hand, and that the rivers beginning once to swell, it was impossible to stem the current; and that we could not in those small boats by any means carry victuals for half the time, and that (which indeed most discouraged my company) the kings and lords of all the borders of Guiana had decreed that none of them should trade with any Christians for gold, because the same would be their own overthrow, and that for the love of gold the Christians meant to conquer and dispossess them of all together.
Many and the most of these I found to be true; but yet I resolving to make trial of whatsoever happened, directed Captain George Gifford, my Vice-Admiral, to take the Lions Whelp, and Captain Caulfield his bark, [and] to turn to the eastward, against the mouth of a river called Capuri, whose entrance I had before sent Captain Whiddon and John Douglas the master to discover. Who found some nine foot water or better upon the flood, and five at low water: to whom I had given instructions that they should anchor at the edge of the shoal, and upon the best of the flood to thrust over, which shoal John Douglas buoyed and beckoned32 for them before. But they laboured in vain; for neither could they turn it up altogether so far to the east, neither did the flood continue so long, but the water fell yere they could have passed the sands. As we after found by a second experience: so as now we must either give over our enterprise, or leaving our ships at adventure 400 mile behind us, must run up in our ships boats, one barge, and two wherries. But being doubtful how to carry victuals for so long a time in such baubles, or any strength of men, especially for that Berreo assured us that his son must be by that time come down with many soldiers, I sent away one King, master of the Lions Whelp, with his ship-boat, to try another branch of the river in the bottom of the Bay of Guanipa, which was called Amana, to prove if there were water to be found for either of the small ships to enter. But when he came to the mouht of Amana, he found it as the rest, but stayed not to discover it thoroughly, because he was assured by an Indian, his guide, that the cannibals of Guanipa would assail them with many canoas, and that they shot poisoned arrows; so as if he hasted not back, they should all be lost.
In the meantime, fearing the worst, I caused all the carpenters we had to cut down a galego boat, which we meant to cast off, and to fit her with banks to row on, and in all things to prepare her the best they could, so as she might be brought to draw but five foot: for so much we had on the bar of Capuri at low water. And doubting of Kings return, I sent John Douglas again in my long barge, as well to relieve him, as also to make a perfect search in the bottom of the bay; for it hath been held for infallible, that whatsoever ship or boat shall fall therein can never disemboque again, by reason of the violent current which setteth into the said bay, as also for that the breeze and easterly wind bloweth directly into the same. Of which opinion I have heard John Hampton,33 of Plymouth, one of the greatest experience of England, and divers other besides that have traded to Trinidad.
I sent with John Douglas an old cacique of Trinidad for a pilot, who told us that we could not return again by the bay or gulf, but that he knew a by-branch which ran within the land to the eastward, and he thought by it we might fall into Capuri, and so return in four days. John Douglas searched those rivers, and found four goodly entrances, whereof the least was as big as the Thames at Woolwich, but in the bay thitherward it was shoal and but six foot water; so as we were now without hope of any ship or bark to pass over, and therefore resolved to go on with the boats, and the bottom of the galego, in which we thrust 60 men. In the Lions Whelps boat and wherry we carried twenty, Captain Caulfield in his wherry carried ten more, and in my barge other ten, which made up a hundred; we had no other means but to carry victual for a month in the same, and also to lodge therein as we could, and to boil and dress our meat. Captain Gifford had with him Master Edward Porter, Captain Eynos, and eight more in his wherry, with all their victual, weapons, and provisions. Captain Caulfield had with him my cousin Butshead Gorges, and eight more. In the galley, of gentlemen and officers myself had Captain Thyn, my cousin John Greenvile, my nephew John Gilbert, Captain Whiddon, Captain Keymis, Edward Hancock, Captain Clarke, Lieutenant Hughes, Thomas Upton, Captain Facy, Jerome Ferrar, Anthony Wells, William Connock, and above fifty more. We could not learn of Berreo any other way to enter but in branches so far to windward as it was impossible for us to recover; for we had as much sea to cross over in our wherries, as between Dover and Calice, and in a great bollow, the wind and current being both very strong. So as we were driven to go in those small boats directly before the wind into the bottom of the Bay of Guanipa, and from thence to enter the mouth of some one of those rivers which John Douglas had last discovered; and had with us for pilot an Indian of Barema, a river to the south of Orenoque, between that and Amazons, whose canoas we had formerly taken as he was going from the said Barema, laden with cassavi bread to sell at Margarita. This Arwacan promised to bring me into the great river of Orenoque; but indeed of that which he entered he was utterly ignorant, for he had not seen it in twelve years before, at which time he was very young, and of no judgment. And if God had not sent us another help, we might have wandered a whole year in that labyrinth of rivers, yere we had found any way, either out or in, especially after we were past ebbing and flowing, which was in four days. For I know all the earth doth not yield the like confluence of streams and branches, the one crossing the other so many times, and all so fair and large, and so like one to another, as no man can tell which to take: and if we went by the sun or compass, hoping thereby to go directly one way or other, yet that way we were also carried in a circle amongst multitudes of islands, and every island so bordered with high trees as no man could see any further than the breadth of the river, or length of the breach. But this it chanced, that entering into a river (which because it had no name, we called the River of the Red Cross, ourselves being the first Christians that ever came therein), the 22. of May, as we were rowing up the same, we espied a small canoa with three Indians, which by the swiftness of my barge, rowing with eight oars, I overtook yere they could cross the river. The rest of the people on the banks, shadowed under the thick wood, gazed on with a doubtful conceit what might befall those three which we had taken. But when they perceived that we offered them no violence, neither entered their canoa with any of ours, nor took out of the canoa any of theirs, they then began to show themselves on the banks side, and offered to traffic with us for such things as they had. And as we drew near, they all stayed; and we came with our barge to the mouth of a little creek which came from their town into the great river.
As we abode here awhile, our Indian pilot, called Ferdinando, would needs go ashore to their village to fetch some fruits and to drink of their artificial wines, and also to see the place and know the lord of it against another time, and took with him a brother of his which he had with him in the journey. When they came to the village of these people the lord of the island offered to lay hands on them, purposing to have slain them both; yielding for reason that this Indian of ours had brought a strange nation into their territory to spoil and destroy them. But the pilot being quick and of a disposed body, slipt their fingers and ran into the woods, and his brother, being the better footman of the two, recovered the creeks mouth, where we stayed in our barge, crying out that his brother was slain. With that we set hands on one of them that was next us, a very old man, and brought him into the barge, assuring him that if we had not our pilot again we would presently cut off his head. This old man, being resolved that he should pay the loss of the other, cried out to those in the woods to save Ferdinando, our pilot; but they followed him notwithstanding, and hunted after him upon the foot with their deer-dogs, and with so main a cry that all the woods echoed with the shout they made. But at the last this poor chased Indian recovered the river side and got upon a tree, and, as we were coasting, leaped down and swam to the barge half dead with fear. But our good hap was that we kept the other old Indian, which we handfasted to redeem our pilot withal; for, being natural of those rivers, we assured ourselves that he knew the way better than any stranger could. And, indeed, but for this chance, I think we had never found the way either to Guiana or back to our ships; for Ferdinando after a few days knew nothing at all, nor which way to turn; yea, and many times the old man himself was in great doubt which river to take. Those people which dwell in these broken islands and drowned lands are generally called Tivitivas. There are of them two sorts; the one called Ciawani, and the other Waraweete.
The great river of Orenoque or Baraquan hath nine branches which fall out on the north side of his own main mouth. On the south side it hath seven other fallings into the sea, so it disemboqueth by sixteen arms in all, between islands and broken ground; but the islands are very great, many of them as big as the Isle of Wight, and bigger, and many less. From the first branch on the north to the last of the south it is at least 100 leagues, so as the rivers mouth is 300 miles wide at his entrance into the sea, which I take to be far bigger than that of Amazons. All those that inhabit in the mouth of this river upon the several north branches are these Tivitivas, of which there are two chief lords which have continual wars one with the other. The islands which lie on the right hand are called Pallamos, and the land on the left, Hororotomaka; and the river by which John Douglas returned within the land from Amana to Capuri they call Macuri.
These Tivitivas are a very goodly people and very valiant, and have the most manly speech and most deliberate that ever I heard of what nation soever. In the summer they have houses on the ground, as in other places; in the winter they dwell upon the trees, where they build very artificial towns and villages, as it is written in the Spanish story of the West Indies that those people do in the low lands near the gulf of Uraba. For between May and September the river of Orenoque riseth thirty foot upright, and then are those islands overflown twenty foot high above the level of the ground, saving some few raised grounds in the middle of them; and for this cause they are enforced to live in this manner. They never eat of anything that is set or sown; and as at home they use neither planting nor other manurance, so when they come abroad they refuse to feed of aught but of that which nature without labour bringeth forth. They use the tops of palmitos for bread, and kill deer, fish, and porks for the rest of their sustenance. They have also many sorts of fruits that grow in the woods, and great variety of birds and fowls; and if to speak of them were not tedious and vulgar, surely we saw in those passages of very rare colours and forms not elsewhere to be found, for as much as I have either seen or read.
Of these people those that dwell upon the branches of Orenoque, called Capuri, and Macureo, are for the most part carpenters of canoas; for they make the most and fairest canoas; and sell them into Guiana for gold and into Trinidad for tabacco, in the excessive taking whereof they exceed all nations. And notwithstanding the moistness of the air in which they live, the hardness of their diet, and the great labours they suffer to hunt, fish, and fowl for their living, in all my life, either in the Indies or in Europe, did I never behold a more goodly or better-favoured people or a more manly. They were wont to make war upon all nations, and especially on the Cannibals, so as none durst without a good strength trade by those rivers; but of late they are at peace with their neighbours, all holding the Spaniards for a common enemy. When their commanders die they use great lamentation; and when they think the flesh of their bodies is putrified and fallen from their bones, then they take up the carcase again and hang it in the caciques house that died, and deck his skull with feathers of all colours, and hang all his gold plates about the bones of this arms, thighs, and legs. Those nations which are called Arwacas, which dwell on the south of Orenoque, of which place and nation our Indian pilot was, are dispersed in many other places, and do use to beat the bones of their lords into powder, and their wives and friends drink it all in their several sorts of drinks.
After we departed from the port of these Ciawani we passed up the river with the flood and anchored the ebb, and in this sort we went onward. The third day that we entered the river, our galley came on ground; and stuck so fast as we thought that even there our discovery had ended, and that we must have left four-score and ten of our men to have inhabited, like rooks upon trees, with those nations. But the next morning, after we had cast out all her ballast, with tugging and hauling to and fro we got her afloat and went on. At four days end we fell into as goodly a river as ever I beheld, which was called the great Amana, which ran more directly without windings and turnings than the other. But soon after the flood of the sea left us; and, being enforced either by main strength to row against a violent current, or to return as wise as we went out, we had then no shift but to persuade the companies that it was but two or three days work, and therefore desired them to take pains, every gentleman and others taking their turns to row, and to spell one the other at the hours end. Every day we passed by goodly branches of rivers, some falling from the west, others from the east, into Amana; but those I leave to the description in the chart of discovery, where every one shall be named with his rising and descent. When three days more were overgone, our companies began to despair, the weather being extreme hot, the river bordered with very high trees that kept away the air, and the current against us every day stronger than other. But we evermore commanded our pilots to promise an end the next day, and used it so long as we were driven to assure them from four reaches of the river to three, and so to two, and so to the next reach. But so long we laboured that many days were spent, and we driven to draw ourselves to harder allowance, our bread even at the last, and no drink at all; and our men and ourselves so wearied and scorched, and doubtful withal whether we should ever perform it or no, the heat increasing as we drew towards the line; for we were now in five degrees.
The further we went on, our victual decreasing and the air breeding great faintness, we grew weaker and weaker, when we had most need of strength and ability. For hourly the river ran more violently than other against us, and the barge, wherries, and ships boat of Captain Gifford and Captain Caulfield had spent all their provisions; so as we were brought into despair and discomfort, had we not persuaded all the company that it was but only one days work more to attain the land where we should be relieved of all we wanted, and if we returned, that we were sure to starve by the way, and that the world would also laugh us to scorn. On the banks of these rivers were divers sorts of fruits good to eat, flowers and trees of such variety as were sufficient to make ten volumes of Herbals; we relieved ourselves many times with the fruits of the country, and sometimes with fowl and fish. We saw birds of all colours, some carnation, some crimson, orange-tawny, purple, watchet,34 and of all other sorts, both simple and mixed, and it was unto us a great good-passing of the time to behold them, besides the relief we found by killing some store of them with our fowling-pieces; without which, having little or no bread, and less drink, but only the thick and troubled water of the river, we had been in a very hard case.
Our old pilot of the Ciawani, whom, as I said before, we took to redeem Ferdinando, told us, that if we would enter a branch of a river on the right hand with our barge and wherries, and leave the galley at anchor the while in the great river, he would bring us to a town of the Arwacas, where we should find store of bread, hens, fish, and of the country wine; and persuaded us, that departing from the galley at noon we might return yere night. I was very glad to hear this speech, and presently took my barge, with eight musketeers, Captain Giffords wherry, with himself and four musketeers, and Captain Caulfield with his wherry, and as many; and so we entered the mouth of this river; and because we were persuaded that it was so near, we took no victual with us at all. When we had rowed three hours, we marvelled we saw no sign of any dwelling, and asked the pilot where the town was; he told us, a little further. After three hours more, the sun being almost set, we began to suspect that he led us that way to betray us; for he confessed that those Spaniards which fled from Trinidad, and also those that remained with Carapana in Emeria, were joined together in some village upon that river. But when it grew towards night, and we demanded where the place was, he told us but four reaches more. When we had rowed four and four, we saw no sign; and our poor watermen, even heart-broken and tired, were ready to give up the ghost; for we had now come from the galley near forty miles.
At the last we determined to hang the pilot; and if we had well known the way back again by night, he had surely gone. But our own necessities pleaded sufficiently for his safety; for it was a dark as pitch, and the river began so to narrow itself, and the trees to hang over from side to side, as we were driven with arming swords to cut a passage thorough those branches that covered the water. We were very desirous to find this town hoping of a feast, because we made but a short breakfast aboard the galley in the morning, and it was now eight oclock at night, and our stomachs began to gnaw apace; but whether it was best to return or go on, we began to doubt, suspecting treason in the pilot more and more; but the poor old Indian ever assured us that it was but a little further, but this one turning and that turning; and at the last about one oclock after midnight we saw a light, and rowing towards it we heard the dogs of the village. When we landed we found few people; for the lord of that place was gone with divers canoas above 400 miles off, upon a journey towards the head of Orenoque, to trade for gold, and to buy women of the Cannibals, who afterwards unfortunately passed by us as we rode at an anchor in the port of Morequito in the dark of the night, and yet came so near us as his canoas grated against our barges; he left one of his company at the port of Morequito, by whom we understood that he had brought thirty young women, divers plates of gold, and had great store of fine pieces of cotton cloth, and cotton beds. In his house we had good store of bread, fish, hens, and Indian drink, and so rested that night; and in the morning, after we had traded with such of his people as came down, we returned towards our galley, and brought with us some quantity of bread, fish, and hens.
On both sides of this river we passed the most beautiful country that ever mine eyes beheld; and whereas all that we had seen before was nothing but woods, prickles, bushes, and thorns, here we beheld plains of twenty miles in length, the grass short and green, and in divers parts groves of trees by themselves, as if they had been by all the art and labour in the world so made of purpose; and still as we rowed, the deer came down feeding by the waters side as if they had been used to a keepers call. Upon this river there were great store of fowl, and of many sorts; we saw in it divers sorts of strange fishes, and of marvellous bigness; but for lagartos35 it exceeded, for there were thousands of those ugly serpents; and the people call it, for the abundance of them, the River of Lagartos, in their language. I had a negro, a very proper young fellow, who leaping out of the galley to swim in the mouth of this river, was in all our sights taken and devoured with one of those lagartos. In the meanwhile our companies in the galley thought we had been all lost, for we promised to return before night; and sent the Lions Whelps ships boat with Captain Whiddon to follow us up the river. But the next day, after we had rowed up and down some fourscore miles, we returned, and went on our way up the great river; and when we were even at the last cast for want of victuals, Captain Gifford being before the galley and the rest of the boats, seeking out some place to land upon the banks to make fire, espied four canoas coming down the river; and with no small joy caused his men to try the uttermost of their strengths, and after a while two of the four gave over and ran themselves ashore, every man betaking himself to the fastness of the woods. The two other lesser got away, while he landed to lay hold on these; and so turned into some by-creek, we knew not whither. Those canoas that were taken were loaded with bread, and were bound for Margarita in the West Indies, which those Indians, called Arwacas, proposed to carry thither for exchange; but in the lesser there were three Spaniards, who having heard of the defeat of their Governor in Trinidad, and that we purposed to enter Guiana, came away in those canoas; one of them was a cavallero, as the captain of the Arwacas after told us, another a soldier and the third a refiner.
In the meantime, nothing on the earth could have been more welcome to us, next unto gold, than the great store of very excellent bread which we found in these canoas; for now our men cried, Let us go on, we care not how far. After that Captain Gifford had brought the two canoas to the galley, I took my barge and went to the banks side with a dozen shot, where the canoas first ran themselves ashore, and landed there, sending out Captain Gifford and Captain Thyn on one hand and Captain Caulfield on the other, to follow those that were fled into the woods. And as I was creeping thorough the bushes, I saw an Indian basket hidden, which was the refiners basket; for I found in it his quicksilver, saltpetre, and divers things for the trial of metals, and also the dust of such ore as he had refined; but in those canoas which escaped there was a good quantity of ore and gold. I then landed more men, and offered five hundred pound to what soldier soever could take one of those three Spaniards that we thought were landed. But our labours were in vain in that behalf, for they put themselves into one of the small canoas, and so, while the greater canoas were in taking, they escaped. But seeking after the Spaniards we found the Arwacas hidden in the woods, which were pilots for the Spaniards, and rowed their canoas. Of which I kept the chiefest for a pilot, and carried him with me to Guiana; by whom I understood where and in what countries the Spaniards had laboured for gold, though I made not the same known to all. For when the springs began to break, and the rivers to raise themselves so suddenly as by no means we could abide the digging of any mine, especially for that the richest are defended with rocks of hard stones, which we call the white spar, and that it required both time, men, and instruments fit for such a work, I thought it best not to hover thereabouts, lest if the same had been perceived by the company, there would have been by this time many barks and ships set out, and perchance other nations would also have gotten of ours for pilots. So as both ourselves might have been prevented, and all our care taken for good usage of the people been utterly lost, by those that only respect present profit; and such violence or insolence offered as the nations which are borderers would have changed the desire of our love and defence into hatred and violence. And for any longer stay to have brought a more quantity, which I hear hath been often objected, whosoever had seen or proved the fury of that river after it began to arise, and had been a month and odd days, as we were, from hearing aught from our ships, leaving them meanly manned 400 miles off, would perchance have turned somewhat sooner than we did, if all the mountains had been gold, or rich stones. And to say the truth, all the branches and small rivers which fell into Orenoque were raised with such speed, as if we waded them over the shoes in the morning outward, we were covered to the shoulders homeward the very same day; and to stay to dig our gold with our nails, had been opus laboris but not ingenii. Such a quantity as would have served our turns we could not have had, but a discovery of the mines to our infinite disadvantage we had made, and that could have been the best profit of farther search or stay; for those mines are not easily broken, nor opened in haste, and I could have returned a good quantity of gold ready cast if I had not shot at another mark than present profit.
This Arwacan pilot, with the rest, feared that we would have eaten them, or otherwise have put them to some cruel death: for the Spaniards, to the end that none of the people in the passage towards Guiana, or in Guiana itself, might come to speech with us, persuaded all the nations that we were men-eaters and cannibals. But when the poor men and women had seen us, and that we gave them meat, and to every one something or other which was rare and strange to them, they began to conceive the deceit and purpose of the Spaniards, who indeed, as they confessed took from them both their wives and daughters daily . But I protest before the Majesty of the living God, that I neither know nor believe, that any of our company, one or other, did offer insult to any of their women, and yet we saw many hundreds, and had many in our power, and of those very young and excellently favoured, which came among us without deceit, stark naked. Nothing got us more love amongst them than this usage; for I suffered not any man to take from any of the nations so much as a pina36 or a potato root without giving them contentment, nor any man so much as to offer to touch any of their wives or daughters; which course, so contrary to the Spaniards, who tyrannize over them in all things, drew them to admire her Majesty, whose commandment I told them it was, and also wonderfully to honour our nation. But I confess it was a very impatient work to keep the meaner sort from spoil and stealing when we came to their houses; which because in all I could not prevent, I caused my Indian interpreter at every place when we departed, to know of the loss or wrong done, and if aught were stolen or taken by violence, either the same was restored, and the party punished in their sight, or else was paid for to their uttermost demand. They also much wondered at us, after they heard that we had slain the Spaniards at Trinidad, for they were before resolved that no nation of Christians durst abide their presence; and they wondered more when I had made them know of the great overthrow that her Majestys army and fleet had given them of late years in their own countries.
After we had taken in this supply of bread, with divers baskets of roots, which were excellent meat, I gave one of the canoas to the Arwacas, which belonged to the Spaniards that were escaped; and when I had dismissed all but the captain, who by the Spaniards was christened Martin, I sent back in the same canoa the old Ciawani, and Ferdinando, my first pilot, and gave them both such things as they desired, with sufficient victual to carry them back, and by them wrote a letter to the ships, which they promised to deliver, and performed it; and then I went on, with my new hired pilot, Martin the Arwacan. But the next or second day after, we came aground again with our galley, and were like to cast her away, with all our victual and provision, and so lay on the sand one whole night, and were far more in despair at this time to free her than before, because we had no tide of flood to help us, and therefore feared that all our hopes would have ended in mishaps. But we fastened an anchor upon the land, and with main strength drew her off; and so the fifteenth day we discovered afar off the mountains of Guiana, to our great joy, and towards the evening had a slent37 of a northerly wind that blew very strong, which brought us in sight of the great river Orenoque; out of which this river descended wherein we were. We descried afar off three other canoas as far as we could discern them, after whom we hastened with ourbarge and wherries, but two of them passed out of sight, and the third entered up the great river, on the right hand to the westward, and there stayed out of sight, thinking that we meant to take the way eastward towards the province of Carapana; for that way the Spaniards keep, not daring to go upwards to Guiana, the people in those parts being all their enemies, and those in the canoas thought us to have been those Spaniards that were fled from Trinidad, and escaped killing. And when we came so far down as the opening of that branch into which they slipped, being near them with our barge and wherries, we made after them, and yere they could land came within call, and by our interpreter told them what we were, wherewith they came back willingly aboard us; and of such fish and tortugas38 eggs as they had gathered they gave us, and promised in the morning to bring the lord of that part with them, and to do us all other services they could. That night we came to an anchor at the parting of the three goodly rivers (the one was the river of Amana, by which we came from the north, and ran athwart towards the south, the other two were of Orenoque, which crossed from the west and ran to the sea towards the east) and landed upon a fair sand, where we found thousands of tortugas eggs, which are very wholesome meat, and greatly restoring; so as our men were now well filled and highly contented both with the fare, and nearness of the land of Guiana, which appeared in sight.
In the morning there came down, according to promise, the lord of that border, called Toparimaca, with some thirty or forty followers, and brought us divers sorts of fruits, and of his wine, bread, fish, and flesh, whom we also feasted as we could; at least we drank good Spanish wine, whereof we had a small quantity in bottles, which above all things they love. I conferred with this Toparimaca of the next39 way to Guiana, who conducted our galley and boats to his own port, and carried us from thence some mile and a-half to his town; where some of our captains garoused40 of his wine till they were reasonable pleasant, for it is very strong with pepper, and the juice of divers herbs and fruits digested and purged. They keep it in great earthen pots of ten or twelve gallons, very clean and sweet, and are themselves at their meetings and feasts the greatest carousers and drunkards of the world. When we came to his town we found two caciques, whereof one was a stranger that had been up the river in trade, and his boats, people, and wife encamped at the port where we anchored; and the other was of that country, a follower of Toparimaca. They lay each of them in a cotton hamaca, which we call Brazil beds, and two women attending them with six cups, and a little ladle to fill them out of an earthen pitcher of wine; and so they drank each of them three of those cups at a time one to the other, and in this sort they drink drunk at their feasts and meetings.
That cacique that was a stranger had his wife staying at the port where we anchored, and in all my life I have seldom seen a better favoured woman. She was of good stature, with black eyes, fat of body, of an excellent countenance, her hair almost as long as herself, tied up again in pretty knots; and it seemed she stood not in that awe of her husband as the rest, for she spake and discoursed, and drank among the gentlemen and captains, and was very pleasant, knowing her own comeliness, and taking great pride therein. I have seen a lady in England so like to her, as but for the difference of colour, I would have sworn might have been the same.
Note 15. On the Orinoco. Poni is a Carib postposition meaning on. [back]
Note 16. The substance of this report is in the end of the Navigation of the Great River of Marañon, written by Gonzalo Fernando de Oviedo to Cardinal Bembo (Ramusio, vol. iii. fol. 416). (Note by Hakluyt.) [back]
Note 17. Friars (Indians so named from their cropped heads). [back]
Note 21. Carapana (=Caribana, Carib land) was an old European name for the Atlantic coast near the mouth of the Orinoco, and hence was applied to one of its chiefs. Berrio called this district Emeria. [back]