Voyages and Travels: Ancient and Modern. The Harvard Classics. 190914.
The Discovery of Guiana
Sir Walter Raleigh
The seat of this town of Toparimaca was very pleasant, standing on a little hill, in an excellent prospect, with goodly gardens a mile compass round about it, and two very fair and large ponds of excellent fish adjoining. This town is called Arowocai; the people are of the nation called Nepoios, and are followers of Carapana. In that place I saw very aged people, that we might perceive all their sinews and veins without any flesh, and but even as a case covered only with skin. The lord of this place gave me an old man for pilot, who was of great experience and travel, and knew the river most perfectly both by day and night. And it shall be requisite for any man that passeth it to have such a pilot; for it is four, five, and six miles over in many places, and twenty miles in other places, with wonderful eddies and strong currents, many great islands, and divers shoals, and many dangerous rocks; and besides upon any increase of wind so great a billow, as we were sometimes in great peril of drowning in the galley, for the small boats durst not come from the shore but when it was very fair.
The next day we hasted thence, and having an easterly wind to help us, we spared our arms from rowing; for after we entered Orenoque, the river lieth for the most part east and west, even from the sea unto Quito, in Peru. This river is navigable with barks little less than 1000 miles; and from the place where we entered it may be sailed up in small pinnaces to many of the best parts of Nuevo Reyno de Granada and of Popayan. And from no place may the cities of these parts of the Indies be so easily taken and invaded as from hence.1 All that day we sailed up a branch of that river, having on the left hand a great island, which they call Assapana, which may contain some five-and-twenty miles in length, and six miles in breadth, the great body of the river running on the other side of this island. Beyond that middle branch there is also another island in the river, called Iwana, which is twice as big as the Isle of Wight; and beyond it, and between it and the main of Guiana, runneth a third branch of Orenoque, called Arraroopana. All three are goodly branches, and all navigable for great ships. I judge the river in this place to be at least thirty miles broad, reckoning the islands which divide the branches in it, for afterwards I sought also both the other branches.
After we reached to the head of the island called Assapana, a little to the westward on the right hand there opened a river which came from the north, called Europa, and fell into the great river; and beyond it on the same side we anchored for that night by another island, six miles long and two miles broad, which they call Ocaywita. From hence, in the morning, we landed two Guianians, which we found in the town of Toparimaca, that came with us; who went to give notice of our coming to the lord of that country, called Putyma, a follower of Topiawari, chief lord of Aromaia, who succeeded Morequito, whom (as you have heard before) Berreo put to death. But his town being far within the land, he came not unto us that day; so as we anchored again that night near the banks of another land, of bigness much like the other, which they call Putapayma, over against which island, on the main land, was a very high mountain called Oecope. We coveted to anchor rather by these islands in the river than by the main, because of the tortugas eggs, which our people found on them in great abundance; and also because the ground served better for us to cast uur nets for fish, the main banks being for the most part stony and high and the rocks of a blue, metalline colour, like unto the best steel ore, which I assuredly take it to be. Of the same blue stone are also divers great mountains which border this river in many places.
The next morning, towards nine of the clock, we weighed anchor; and the breeze increasing, we sailed always west up the river, and, after a while, opening the land on the right side, the country appeared to be champaign and the banks shewed very perfect red. I therefore sent two of the little barges with Captain Gifford, and with him Captain Thyn, Captain Caulfield, my cousin Greenvile, my nephew John Gilbert, Captain Eynos, Master Edward Porter, and my cousin Butshead Gorges, with some few soldiers, to march over the banks of that red land and to discover what manner of country it was on the other side; who at their return found it all a plain level as far as they went or could discern from the highest tree they could get upon. And my old pilot, a man of great travel, brother to the cacique Toparimaca, told me that those were called the plains of the Sayma, and that the same level reached to Cumaná and Caracas, in the West Indies, which are a hundred and twenty leagues to the north, and that there inhabited four principal nations. The first were the Sayma, the next Assawai, the third and greatest the Wikiri, by whom Pedro Hernandez de Serpa, before mentioned, was overthrown as he passed with 300 horse from Cumaná towards Orenoque in his enterprise of Guiana. The fourth are called Aroras, and are as black as negroes, but have smooth hair; and these are very valiant, or rather desperate, people, and have the most strong poison on their arrows, and most dangerous, of all nations, of which I will speak somewhat, being a digression not unnecessary.
There was nothing whereof I was more curious than to find out the true remedies of these poisoned arrows. For besides the mortality of the wound they make, the party shot endureth the most insufferable torment in the world, and abideth a most ugly and lamentable death, sometimes dying stark mad, sometimes their bowels breaking out of their bellies; which are presently discoloured as black as pitch, and so unsavory as no man can endure to cure or to attend them. And it is more strange to know that in all this time there was never Spaniard, either by gift or torment, that could attain to the true knowledge of the cure, although they have martyred and put to invented torture I know not how many of them. But everyone of these Indians know it not, no, not one among thousands, but their soothsayers and priests, who do conceal it, and only teach it but from the father to the son.
Those medicines which are vulgar, and serve for the ordinary poison, are made of the juice of a root called tupara; the same also quencheth marvellously the heat of burning fevers, and healeth inward wounds and broken veins that bleed within the body. But I was more beholding to the Guianians than any other; for Antonio de Berreo told me that he could never attain to the knowledge thereof, and yet they taught me the best way of healing as well thereof as of all other poisons. Some of the Spaniards have been cured in ordinary wounds of the common poisoned arrows with the juice of garlic. But this is a general rule for all men that shall hereafter travel the Indies where poisoned arrows are used, that they must abstain from drink. For if they take any liquor into their body, as they shall be marvellously provoked thereunto by drought, I say, if they drink before the wound be dressed, or soon upon it, there is no way with them but present death.
And so I will return again to our journey, which for this third day we finished, and cast anchor again near the continent on the left hand between two mountains, the one called Aroami and the other Aio. I made no stay here but till midnight; for I feared hourly lest any rain should fall, and then it had been impossible to have gone any further up, notwithstanding that there is every day a very strong breeze and easterly wind. I deferred the search of the country on Guiana side till my return down the river.
The next day we sailed by a great island in the middle of the river, called Manoripano; and, as we walked awhile on the island, while the galley got ahead of us, there came for us from the main a small canoa with seven or eight Guianians, to invite us to anchor at their port, but I deferred till my return. It was that cacique to whom those Nepoios went, which came with us from the town of Toparimaca. And so the fifth day we reached as high up as the province of Aromaia, the country of Morequito, whom Berreo executed, and anchored to the west of an island called Murrecotima, ten miles long and five broad. And that night the cacique Aramiary, to whose town we made our long and hungry voyage out of the river of Amana, passed by us.
The next day we arrived at the port of Morequito, and anchored there, sending away one of our pilots to seek the king of Aromaia, uncle to Morequito, slain by Berreo as aforesaid. The next day following, before noon, he came to us on foot from his house, which was fourteen English miles, himself being a hundred and ten years old, and returned on foot the same day; and with him many of the borderers, with many women and children, that came to wonder at our nation and to bring us down victual, which they did in great plenty, as venison, pork, hens, chickens, fowl, fish, with divers sorts of excellent fruits and roots, and great abundance of pinas, the princess of fruits that grow under the sun, especially those of Guiana. They brought us, also, store of bread and of their wine, and a sort of paraquitos no bigger than wrens, and of all other sorts both small and great. One of them gave me a beast called by the Spaniards armadillo, which they call cassacam, which seemeth to be all barred over with small plates somewhat like to a rhinoceros, with a white horn growing in his hinder parts as big as a great hunting-horn, which they use to wind instead of a trumpet. Monardus2 writeth that a little of the powder of that horn put into the ear cureth deafness.
After this old king had rested awhile in a little tent that I caused to be set up, I began by my interpreter to discourse with him of the death of Morequito his predecessor, and afterward of the Spaniards; and yere I went any farther I made him know the cause of my coming thither, whose servant I was, and that the Queens pleasure was I should undertake the voyage for their defence, and to deliver them from the tyranny of the Spaniards, dilating at large, as I had done before to those of Trinidad, her Majestys greatness, her justice, her charity to all oppressed nations, with as many of the rest of her beauties and virtues as either I could express or they conceive. All which being with great admiration attentively heard and marvellously admired, I began to sound the old man as touching Guiana and the state thereof, what sort of commonwealth it was, how governed, of what strength and policy, how far it extended, and what nations were friends or enemies adjoining, and finally of the distance, and way to enter the same. He told me that himself and his people, with all those down the river towards the sea, as far as Emeria, the province of Carapana, were of Guiana, but that they called themselves Orenoqueponi, and that all the nations between the river and those mountains in sight, called Wacarima, were of the same cast and appellation; and that on the other side of those mountains of Wacarima there was a large plain (which after I discovered in my return) called the valley of Amariocapana. In all that valley the people were also of the ancient Guianians.
I asked what nations those were which inhabited on the further side of those mountains, beyond the valley of Amariocapana. He answered with a great sigh (as a man which had inward feeling of the loss of his country and liberty, especially for that his eldest son was slain in a battle on that side of the mountains, whom he most entirely loved) that he remembered in his fathers lifetime, when he was very old and himself a young man, that there came down into that large valley of Guiana a nation from so far off as the sun slept (for such were his own words), with so great a multitude as they could not be numbered nor resisted, and that they wore large coats, and hats of crimson colour, which colour he expressed by shewing a piece of red wood wherewith my tent was supported, and that they were called Orejones and Epuremei; that those had slain and rooted out so many of the ancient people as there were leaves in the wood upon all the trees, and had now made themselves lords of all, even to that mountain foot called Curaa, saving only of two nations, the one called Iwarawaqueri and the other Cassipagotos; and that in the last battle fought between the Epuremei and the Iwarawaqueri his eldest son was chosen to carry to the aid of the Iwarawaqueri a great troop of the Orenoqueponi, and was there slain with all his people and friends, and that he had now remaining but one son; and farther told me that those Epuremei had built a great town called Macureguarai at the said mountain foot, at the beginning of the great plains of Guiana, which have no end; and that their houses have many rooms, one over the other, and that therein the great king of the Orejones and Epuremei kept three thousand men to defend the borders against them, and withal daily to invade and slay them; but that of late years, since the Christians offered to invade his territories and those frontiers, they were all at peace, and traded one with another, saving only the Iwarawaqueri and those other nations upon the head of the river of Caroli called Cassipagotos, which we afterwards discovered, each one holding the Spaniard for a common enemy.
After he had answered thus far, he desired leave to depart, saying that he had far to go, that he was old and weak, and was every day called for by death, which was also his own phrase. I desired him to rest with us that night, but I could not entreat him; but he told me that at my return from the country above he would again come to us, and in the meantime provide for us the best he could, of all that his country yielded. The same night he returned to Orocotona, his own town; so as he went that day eight-and-twenty miles, the weather being very hot, the country being situate between four and five degrees of the equinoctial. This Topiawari is held for the proudest and wisest of all the Orenoqueponi, and so he behaved himself towards me in all his answers, at my return, as I marvelled to find a man of that gravity and judgment and of so good discourse, that had no help of learning nor breed.
The next morning we also left the port, and sailed westward up to the river, to view the famous river called Caroli, as well because it was marvellous of itself, as also for that I understood it led to the strongest nations of all the frontiers, that were enemies to the Epuremei, which are subjects to Inga, emperor of Guiana and Manoa. And that night we anchored at another island called Caiama, of some five or six miles in length; and the next day arrived at the mouth of Caroli. When we were short of it as low or further down as the port of Morequito, we heard the great roar and fall of the river. But when we came to enter with our barge and wherries, thinking to have gone up some forty miles to the nations of the Cassipagotos, we were not able with a barge of eight oars to row one stones cast in an hour; and yet the river is as broad as the Thames at Woolwich, and we tried both sides, and the middle, and every part of the river. So as we encamped upon the banks adjoining, and sent off our Orenoquepone which came with us from Morequito to give knowledge to the nations upon the river of our being there, and that we desired to see the lords of Canuria, which dwelt within the province upon that river, making them know that we were enemies to the Spaniards; for it was on this river side that Morequito slew the friar, and those nine Spaniards which came from Manoa, the city of Inga, and took from them 14,000 pesos of gold. So as the next day there came down a lord or cacique, called Wanuretona, with many people with him, and brought all store of provisions to entertain us, as the rest had done. And as I had before made my coming known to Topiawari, so did I acquaint this cacique therewith, and how I was sent by her Majesty for the purpose aforesaid, and gathered also what I could of him touching the estate of Guiana. And I found that those also of Caroli were not only enemies to the Spaniards, but most of all to the Epuremei, which abound in gold. And by this Wanuretona I had knowledge that on the head of this river were three mighty nations, which were seated on a great lake, from whence this river descended, and were called Cassipagotos, Eparegotos, and Arawagotos;3 and that all those either against the Spaniards or the Epuremei would join with us, and that if we entered the land over the mountains of Curaa we should satisfy ourselves with gold and all other good things. He told us farther of a nation called Iwarawaqueri, before spoken of, that held daily war with the Epuremei that inhabited Macureguarai, and first civil town of Guiana, of the subjects of Inga, the emperor.
Upon this river one Captain George, that I took with Berreo, told me that there was a great silver mine, and that it was near the banks of the said river. But by this time as well Orenoque, Caroli, as all the rest of the rivers were risen four or five feet in height, so as it was not possible by the strength of any men, or with any boat whatsoever, to row into the river against the stream. I therefore sent Captain Thyn, Captain Greenvile, my nephew John Gilbert, my cousin Butshead Gorges, Captain Clarke, and some thirty shot more to coast the river by land, and to go to a town some twenty miles over the valley called Amnatapoi; and they found guides there to go farther towards the mountain foot to another great town called Capurepana, belonging to a cacique called Haharacoa, that was a nephew to old Topiawari, king of Aromaia, our chiefest friend, because this town and province of Capurepana adjoined to Macureguarai, which was a frontier town of the empire. And the meanwhile myself with Captain Gifford, Captain Caulfield, Edward Hancock, and some half-a-dozen shot marched overland to view the strange overfalls of the river of Caroli, which roared so far off; and also to see the plains adjoining, and the rest of the province of Canuri. I sent also Captain Whiddon, William Connock, and some eight shot with them, to see if they could find any mineral stone alongst the rivers side. When we were come to the tops of the first hills of the plains adjoining to the river, we beheld that wonderful breach of waters which ran down Caroli; and might from that mountain see the river how it ran in three parts, above twenty miles off, and there appeared some ten or twelve overfalls in sight, every one as high over the other as a church tower, which fell with that fury, that the rebound of water made it seem as if it had been all covered over with a great shower of rain; and in some places we took it at the first for a smoke that had risen over some great town. For mine own part I was well persuaded from thence to have returned, being a very ill footman; but the rest were all so desirous to go near the said strange thunder of waters, as they drew me on by little and little, till we came into the next valley, where we might better discern the same. I never saw a more beautiful country, nor more lively prospects; hills so raised here and there over the valley ; the river winding into divers branches; the plains adjoining without bush or stubble, all fair green grass; the ground of hard sand, easy to march on, either for horse or foot; the deer crossing in every path; the birds towards the evening singing on every tree with a thousand several tunes; cranes and herons of white, crimson, and carnation, perching in the rivers side; the air fresh with a gentle easterly wind; and every stone that we stooped to take up promised either gold or silver by his complexion. Your Lordship shall see of many sorts, and I hope some of them cannot be bettered under the sun; and yet we had no means but with our daggers and fingers to tear them out here and there, the rocks being most hard of that mineral spar aforesaid, which is like a flint, and is altogether as hard or harder, and besides the veins lie a fathom or two deep in the rocks. But we wanted all things requisite save only our desires and good will to have performed more if it had pleased God. To be short, when both our companies returned, each of them brought also several sorts of stones that appeared very fair, but were such as they found loose on the ground, and were for the most part but coloured, and had not any gold fixed in them. Yet such as had no judgment or experience kept all that glistered, and would not be persuaded but it was rich because of the lustre; and brought of those, and of marcasite withal, from Trinidad, and have delivered of those stones to be tried in many places, and have thereby bred an opinion that all the rest is of the same. Yet some of these stones I shewed afterward to a Spaniard of the Caracas, who told me that it was El Madre del Oro, that is, the mother of gold, and that the mine was farther in the ground.
But it shall be found a weak policy in me, either to betray myself or my country with imaginations; neither am I so far in love with that lodging, watching, care, peril, diseases, ill savours, bad fare, and many other mischiefs that accompany these voyages, as to woo myself again into any of them, were I not assured that the sun covereth not so much riches in any part of the earth. Captain Whiddon, and our chirurgeon, Nicholas Millechamp, brought me a kind of stones like sapphires; what they may prove I know not. I shewed them to some of the Orenoqueponi, and they promised to bring me to a mountain that had of them very large pieces growing diamond-wise; whether it be crystal of the mountain, Bristol diamond, or sapphire, I do not yet know, but I hope the best; sure I am that the place is as likely as those from whence all the rich stones are brought, and in the same height or very near.
On the left hand of this river Caroli are seated those nations which I called Iwarawaqueri before remembered, which are enemies to the Epuremei; and on the head of it, adjoining to the great lake Cassipa, are situated those other nations which also resist Inga, and the Epuremei, called Cassipagotos, Eparegotos, and Arawagotos. I farther understood that this lake of Cassipa is so large, as it is above one days journey for one of their canoas, to cross, which may be some forty miles; and that thereinto fall divers rivers, and that great store of grains of gold are found in the summer time when the lake falleth by the banks, in those branches.
There is also another goodly river beyond Caroli which is called Arui, which also runneth thorough the lake Cassipa, and falleth into Orenoque farther west, making all that land between Caroli and Arui an island; which is likewise a most beautiful country. Next unto Arui there are two rivers Atoica and Caura, and on that branch which is called Caura are a nation of people whose heads appear not above their shoulders; which though it may be thought a mere fable, yet for mine own part I am resolved it is true, because every child in the provinces of Aromaia and Canuri affirm the same. They are called Ewaipanoma; they are reported to have their eyes in their shoulders, and their mouths in the middle of their breasts, and that a long train of hair groweth backward between their shoulders. The son of Topiawari, which I brought with me into England, told me that they were the most mighty men of all the land, and use bows, arrows, and clubs thrice as big as any of Guiana, or of the Orenoqueponi; and that one of the Iwarawaqueri took a prisoner of them the year before our arrival there, and brought him into the borders of Aromaia, his fathers country. And farther, when I seemed to doubt of it, he told me that it was no wonder among them; but that they were as great a nation and as common as any other in all the provinces, and had of late years slain many hundreds of his fathers people, and of other nations their neighbours. But it was not my chance to hear of them till I was come away; and if I had but spoken one word of it while I was there I might have brought one of them with me to put the matter out of doubt. Such a nation was written of by Mandeville, whose reports were holden for fables many years; and yet since the East Indies were discovered, we find his relations true of such things as heretofore were held incredible.4 Whether it be true or no, the matter is not great, neither can there be any profit in the imagination; for mine own part I saw them not, but I am resolved that so many people did not all combine or forethink to make the report.
When I came to Cumaná in the West Indies afterwards by chance I spake with a Spaniard dwelling not far from thence, a man of great travel. And after he knew that I had been in Guiana, and so far directly west as Caroli, the first question he asked me was, whether I had seen any of the Ewaipanoma, which are those without heads. Who being esteemed a most honest man of his word, and in all things else, told me that he had seen many of them; I may not name him, because it may be for his disadvantage, but he is well known to Monsieur Moucherons son of London, and to Peter Moucheron, merchant, of the Flemish ship that was there in trade; who also heard, what he avowed to be true, of those people.
The fourth river to the west of Caroli is Casnero: which falleth into the Orenoque on this side of Amapaia. And that river is greater than Danubius, or any of Europe: it riseth on the south of Guiana from the mountains which divide Guiana from Amazons, and I think it to be navigable many hundred miles. But we had no time, means, nor season of the year, to search those rivers, for the causes aforesaid, the winter being come upon us; although the winter and summer as touching cold and heat differ not, neither do the trees ever sensibly lose their leaves, but have always fruit either ripe or green, and most of them both blossoms, leaves, ripe fruit, and green, at one time: but their winter only consisteth of terrible rains, and overflowing of the rivers, with many great storms and gusts, thunder and lightnings, of which we had our fill ere we returned.
On the north side, the first river that falleth into the Orenoque is Cari. Beyond it, on the same side is the river of Limo. Between these two is a great nation of Cannibals, and their chief town beareth the name of the river, and is called Acamacari. At this town is a continual market of women for three or four hatchets apiece; they are bought by the Arwacas, and by them sold into the West Indies. To the west of Limo is the river Pao, beyond it Caturi, beyond that Voari, and Capuri,5 which falleth out of the great river of Meta, by which Berreo descended from Nuevo Reyno de Granada. To the westward of Capuri is the province of Amapaia, where Berreo wintered and had so many of his people poisoned with the tawny water of the marshes of the Anebas. Above Amapaia, toward Nuevo Reyno, fall in Meto, Pato and Cassanar. To the west of those, towards the provinces of the Ashaguas and Catetios, are the rivers of Beta, Dawney, and Ubarro; and toward the frontier of Peru are the provinces of Thomebamba, and Caxamalca. Adjoining to Quito in the north side of Peru are the rivers of Guiacar and Goauar; and on the other side of the said mountains the river of Papamene which descendeth into Marañon or Amazons, passing through the province Motilones, where Don Pedro de Orsúa, who was slain by the traitor Aguirre before rehearsed, built his brigandines, when he sought Guiana by the way of Amazons.
Between Dawney and Beta lieth a famous island in Orenoque (now called Baraquan, for above Meta it is not known by the name of Orenoque) which is called Athule;6 beyond which ships of burden cannot pass by reason of a most forcible overfall, and current of water; but in the eddy all smaller vessels may be drawn even to Peru itself. But to speak of more of these rivers without the description were but tedious, and therefore I will leave the rest to the description. This river of Orenoque is navigable for ships little less than 1,000 miles, and for lesser vessels near 2,000. By it, as aforesaid, Peru, Nuevo Reyno and Popayan may be invaded: it also leadeth to the great empire of Inga, and to the provinces of Amapaia and Anebas, which abound in gold. His branches of Casnero, Manta, Caura descend from the middle land and valley which lieth between the easter province of Peru and Guiana; and it falls into the sea between Marañon and Trinidad in two degrees and a half. All of which your honours shall better perceive in the general description of Guiana, Peru, Nuevo Reyno, the kingdom of Popayan, and Rodas, with the province of Venezuela, to the bay of Uraba, behind Cartagena, westward, and to Amazons southward. While we lay at anchor on the coast of Canuri, and had taken knowledge of all the nations upon the head and branches of this river, and had found out so many several people, which were enemies to the Epuremei and the new conquerors, I thought it time lost to linger any longer in that place, especially for that the fury of Orenoque began daily to threaten us with dangers in our return. For no half day passed but the river began to rage and overflow very fearfully, and the rains came down in terrible showers, and gusts in great abundance; and withal our men began to cry out for want of shift, for no man had place to bestow any other apparel than that which he ware on his back, and that was throughly washed on his body for the most part ten times in one day; and we had now been well-near a month every day passing to the westward farther and farther from our ships. We therefore turned towards the east, and spent the rest of the time in discovering the river towards the sea, which we had not viewed, and which was most material.
The next day following we left the mouth of Caroli, and arrived again at the port of Morequito where we were before; for passing down the stream we went without labour, and against the wind, little less than a hundred miles a day. As soon as I came to anchor, I sent away one for old Topiawari, with whom I much desired to have further conference, and also to deal with him for some one of his country to bring with us into England, as well to learn the language, as to confer withal by the way, the time being now spent of any longer stay there. Within three hours after my messenger came to him, he arrived also, and with him such a rabble of all sorts of people, and every one loaden with somewhat, as if it had been a great market or fair in England; and our hungry companies clustered thick and threefold among their baskets, every one laying hand on what he liked. After he had rested awhile in my tent, I shut out all but ourselves and my interpreter, and told him that I knew that both the Epuremei and the Spaniards were enemies to him, his country and nations: that the one had conquered Guiana already, and the other sought to regain the same from them both; and therefore I desired him to instruct me what he could, both of the passage into the golden parts of Guiana, and to the civil towns and apparelled people of Inga. He gave me an answer to this effect: first, that he could not perceive that I meant to go onward towards the city of Manoa, for neither the time of the year served, neither could he perceive any sufficient numbers for such an enterprise. And if I did, I was sure with all my company to be buried there, for the emperor was of that strength, as that many times so many men more were too few. Besides, he gave me this good counsel and advised me to hold it in mind (as for himself, he knew he could not live till my return), that I should not offer by any means hereafter to invade the strong parts of Guiana without the help of all those nations which were also their enemies; for that it was impossible without those, either to be conducted, to be victualled, or to have aught carried with us, our people not being able to endure the march in so great heat and travail, unless the borderers gave them help, to cart with them both their meat and furniture. For he remembered that in the plains of Macureguarai three hundred Spaniards were overthrown, who were tired out, and had none of the borderers to their friends; but meeting their enemies as they passed the frontier, were environed on all sides, and the people setting the long dry grass on fire, smothered them, so as they had no breath to fight, nor could discern their enemies for the great smoke. He told me further that four days journey from his town was Macureguarai, and that those were the next and nearest of the subjects of Inga, and of the Epuremei, and the first town of apparelled and rich people; and that all those plates of gold which were scattered among the borderers and carried to other nations far and near, came from the said Macureguarai and were there made, but that those of the land within were far finer, and were fashioned after the images of men, beasts, birds, and fishes. I asked him whether he thought that those companies that I had there with me were sufficient to take that town or no; he told me that he thought they were. I then asked him whether he would assist me with guides, and some companies of his people to join with us; he answered that he would go himself with all the borderers, if the rivers did remain fordable, upon this condition, that I would leave with him till my return again fifty soldiers, which he undertook to victual. I answered that I had not above fifty good men in all there; the rest were labourers and rowers, and that I had no provision to leave with them of powder, shot, apparel, or aught else, and that without those things necessary for their defence, they should be in danger of the Spaniards in my absence, who I knew would use the same measures towards mine that I offered them at Trinidad. And although upon the motion Captain Caulfield, Captain Greenvile, my nephew John Gilbert and divers others were desirous to stay, yet I was resolved that they must needs have perished. For Berreo expected daily a supply out of Spain, and looked also hourly for his son to come down from Nuevo Reyno de Granada, with many horse and foot, and had also in Valencia, in the Caracas, two hundred horse ready to march; and I could not have spared above forty, and had not any store at all of powder, lead, or match to have left with them, nor any other provision, either spade, pickaxe, or aught else to have fortified withal.
When I had given him reason that I could not at this time leave him such a company, he then desired me to forbear him and his country for that time; for he assured me that I should be no sooner three days from the coast but those Epuremei would invade him, and destroy all the remain of his people and friends, if he should any way either guide us or assist us against them. He further alleged that the Spaniards sought his death; and as they had already murdered his nephew Morequito, lord of that province, so they had him seventeen days in a chain before he was king of the country, and led him like a dog from place to place until he had paid an hundred plates of gold and divers chains of spleen-stones for his ransom.7 And now, since he became owner of that province, that they had many times laid wait to take him, and that they would be now more vehement when they should understand of his conference with the English. And because, said he, they would the better displant me, if they cannot lay hands on me, they have gotten a nephew of mine called Eparacano, whom they have christened Don Juan, and his son Don Pedro, whom they have also apparelled and armed, by whom they seek to make a party against me in mine own country. He also hath taken to wife one Louiana, of a strong family, which are borderers and neighbours; and myself now being old and in the hands of death am not able to travel nor to shift as when I was of younger years. He therefore prayed us to defer it till the next year, when he would undertake to draw in all the borderers to serve us, and then, also, it would be more seasonable to travel; for at this time of the year we should not be able to pass any river, the waters were and would be so grown are our return.
He farther told me that I could not desire so much to invade Macureguarai and the rest of Guiana but that the borderers would be more vehement than I. For he yielded for a chief cause that in the wars with the Epuremei they were spoiled of their women, and that their wives and daughters were taken from them; so as for their own parts they desired nothing of the gold or treasure for their labours, but only to recover women from the Epuremei. For he farther complained very sadly, as it had been a matter of great consequence, that whereas they were wont to have ten or twelve wives, they were now enforced to content themselves with three or four, and that the lords of the Epuremei had fifty or a hundred. And in truth they war more for women than either for gold or dominion. For the lords of countries desire many children of their own bodies to increase their races and kindreds, for in those consist their greatest trust and strength. Divers of his followers afterwards desired me to make haste again, that they might sack the Epuremei, and I asked them, of what? The answered, Of their women for us, and their gold for you. For the hope of those many of women they more desire the war than either for gold or for the recovery of their ancient territories. For what between the subjects of Inga and the Spaniards, those frontiers are grown thin of people; and also great numbers are fled to other nations farther off for fear of the Spaniards.
After I received this answer of the old man, we fell into consideration whether it had been of better advice to have entered Macureguarai, and to have begun a war upon Inga at this time, yea, or no, if the time of the year and all things else had sorted. For mine own part, as we were not able to march it for the rivers, neither had any such strength as was requisite, and durst not abide the coming of the winter, or to tarry any longer from our ships, I thought it were evil counsel to have attempted it at that time, although the desire for gold will answer many objections. But it would have been, in mine opinion, an utter overthrow to the enterprise, if the same should be hereafter by her Majesty attempted. For then, whereas now they have heard we were enemies to the Spaniards and were sent by her Majesty to relieve them, they would as good cheap have joined with the Spaniards at our return, as to have yielded unto us, when they had proved that we came both for one errand, and that both sought but to sack and spoil them. But as yet our desire gold, or our purpose of invasion, is not known to them of the empire. And it is likely that if her Majesty undertake the enterprise they will rather submit themselves to her obedience than to the Spaniards, of whose cruelty both themselves and the borderers have already tasted. And therefore, till I had known her Majestys pleasure, I would rather have lost the sack of one or two towns, although they might have been very profitable, than to have defaced or endangered the future hope of so many millions, and the great good and rich trade which England may be possessed of thereby. I am assured now that they will all die, even to the last man, against the Spaniards in hope of our succour and return. Whereas, otherwise, if I had either laid hands on the borderers or ransomed the lords, as Berreo did, or invaded the subjects of Inga, I know all had been lost for hereafter.
After that I had resolved Topiawari, lord of Aromaia, that I could not at this time leave with him the companies he desired, and that I was contented to forbear the enterprise against the Epuremei till the next year, he freely gave me his only son to take with me into England; and hoped that though he himself had but a short time to live, yet that by our means his son should be established after his death. And I left with him one Francis Sparrow, a servant of Captain Gifford, who was desirous to tarry, and could describe a country with his pen, and a boy of mine called Hugh Goodwin, to learn the language. I after asked the manner how the Epuremei wrought those plates of gold, and how they could melt it out of the stone. He told me that the most of the gold which they made in plates and images was not severed from the stone, but that on the lake of Manoa, and in a multitude of other rivers, they gathered it in grains of perfect gold and in pieces as big as small stones, and they put it to a part of copper, otherwise they could not work it; and that they used a great earthen pot with holes round about it, and when they had mingled the gold and copper together they fastened canes to the holes, and so with the breath of men they increased the fire till the metal ran, and then they cast it into moulds of stone and clay, and so make those plates and images. I have sent your honours of two sorts such as I could by chance recover, more to shew the manner of them than for the value. For I did not in any sort make my desire of gold known, because I had neither time nor power to have a great quantity. I gave among them many more pieces of gold than I received, of the new money of twenty shillings with her Majestys picture, to wear, with promise that they would become her servants thenceforth.
I have also sent your honours of the ore, whereof I know some is as rich as the earth yieldeth any, of which I know there is sufficient, if nothing else were to be hoped for. But besides that we were not able to tarry and search the hills, so we had neither pioneers, bars, sledges, nor wedges of iron to break the ground, without which there is no working in mines. But we saw all the hills with stones of the colour of gold and silver, and we tried them to be no marcasite, and therefore such as the Spaniards call El madre del oro or the mother of gold, which is an undoubted assurance of the general abundance; and myself saw the outside of many mines of the spar, which I know to be the same that all covet in this world, and of those more than I will speak of.
Having learned what I could in Canuri and Aromaia, and received a faithful promise of the principallest of those provinces to become servants to her Majesty, and to resist the Spaniards if they made any attempt in our absence, and that they would draw in the nations about the lake of Cassipa and those of Iwarawaqueri, I then parted from old Topiawari, and received his son for a pledge between us, and left with him two of ours as aforesaid. To Francis Sparrow I gave instructions to travel to Macureguarai with such merchandises as I left with them, thereby to learn the place, and if it were possible, to go on to the great city of Manoa. Which being done, we weighed anchor and coasted the river on Guiana side, because we came upon the north side, by the lawns of the Saima and Wikiri.
There came with us from Aromaia a cacique called Putijma, that commanded the province of Warapana, which Putijma slew the nine Spaniards upon Caroli before spoken of; who desired us to rest in the port of his country, promising to bring us unto a mountain adjoining to his town that had stones of the colour of gold, which he performed. And after we had rested there one night I went myself in the morning with most of the gentlemen of my company overland towards the said mountain, marching by a rivers side called Mana, leaving on the right hand a town called Tuteritona, standing in the province of Tarracoa, of which Wariaaremagoto is principal. Beyond it lieth another town towards the south, in the valley of Amariocapana, which beareth the name of the said valley; whose plains stretch themselves some sixty miles in length, east and west, as fair ground and as beautiful fields as any man hath ever seen, with divers copses scattered here and there by the rivers side, and all as full of deer as any forest or park in England, and in every lake and river the like abundance of fish and fowl; of which Irraparragota is lord.
From the river of Mana we crossed another river in the said beautiful valley called Oiana, and rested ourselves by a clear lake which lay in the middle of the said Oiana; and one of our guides kindling us fire with two sticks, we stayed awhile to dry our shirts, which with the heat hung very wet and heavy on our shoulders. Afterwards we sought the ford to pass over towards the mountain called Iconuri, where Putijma foretold us of the mine. In this lake we saw one of the great fishes, as big as a wine pipe, which they call manati, being most excellent and wholesome meat. But after I perceived that to pass the said river would require half-a-days march more, I was not able myself to endure it, and therefore I sent Captain Keymis with six shot to go on, and gave him order not to return to the port of Putijma, which is called Chiparepare, but to take leisure, and to march down the said valley as far as a river called Cumaca, where I promised to meet him again, Putijma himself promising also to be his guide. And as they marched, they left the towns of Emperapana and Capurepana on the right hand, and marched from Putijmas house, down the said valley of Amariocapana; and we returning the same day to the rivers side, saw by the way many rocks like unto gold ore, and on the left hand a round mountain which consisted of mineral stone.
From hence we rowed down the stream, coasting the province of Parino. As for the branches of rivers which I overpass in this discourse, those shall be better expressed in the description, with the mountains of Aio, Ara, and the rest, which are situate in the provinces of Parino and Carricurrina. When we were come as far down as the land called Ariacoa, where Orenoque divideth itself into three great branches, each of them being most goodly rivers, I sent away Captain Henry Thyn, and Captain Greenvile with the galley, the nearest way, and took with me Captain Gifford, Captain Caulfield, Edward Porter, and Captain Eynos with mine own barge and the two wherries, and went down that branch of Orenoque which is called Cararoopana, which leadeth towards Emeria, the province of Carapana, and towards the east sea, as well to find out Captain Keymis, whom I had sent overland, as also to acquaint myself with Carapana, who is one of the greatest of all the lords of the Orenoqueponi. And when I came to the river of Cumaca, to which Putijma promised to conduct Captain Keymis, I left Captain Eynos and Master Porter in the said river to expect his coming, and the rest of us rowed down the stream towards Emeria.
In this branch called Cararoopana were also many goodly islands, some of six miles long, some of ten, and some of twenty. When it grew towards sunset, we entered a branch of a river that fell into Orenoque, called Winicapora; where I was informed of the mountain of crystal, to which in truth for the length of the way, and the evil season of the year, I was not able to march, nor abide any longer upon the journey. We saw it afar off; and it appeared like a white church-tower of an exceeding height. There falleth over it a mighty river which toucheth no part of the side of the mountain, but rusheth over the top of it, and falleth to the ground with so terrible a noise and clamour, as if a thousand great bells were knocked one against another. I think there is not in the world so strange an overfall, nor so wonderful to behold. Berreo told me that there were diamonds and other precious stones on it, and that they shined very far off; but what it hath I know not, neither durst he or any of his men ascend to the top of the said mountain, those people adjoining being his enemies, as they were, and the way to it so impassable.
Upon this river of Winicapora we rested a while, and from thence marched into the country to a town called after the name of the river, whereof the captain was one Timitwara, who also offered to conduct me to the top of the said mountain called Wacarima. But when we came in first to the house of the said Timitwara, being upon one of their said feast days, we found them all as drunk as beggars, and the pots walking from one to another without rest. We that were weary and hot with marching were glad of the plenty, though a small quantity satisfied us, their drink being very strong and heady, and so rested ourselves awhile. After we had fed, we drew ourselves back to our boats upon the river, and there came to us all the lords of the country, with all such kind of victual as the place yielded, and with their delicate wine of pinas, and with abundance of hens and other provisions, and of those stones which we call spleen-stones. We understood by these chieftains of Winicapora that their lord, Carapana, was departed from Emeria, which was now in sight, and that he was fled to Cairamo, adjoining to the mountains of Guiana, over the valley called Amariocapana, being persuaded by those ten Spaniards which lay at his house that we would destroy him and his country. But after these caciques of Winicapora and Saporatona his followers perceived our purpose, and saw that we came as enemies to the Spaniards only, and had not so much as harmed any of those nations, no, though we found them to be of the Spaniards own servants, they assured us that Carapana would be as ready to serve us as any of the lords of the provinces which we had passed; and that he durst do no other till this day but entertain the Spaniards, his country lying so directly in their way, and next of all other to any entrance that should be made in Guiana on that side. And they further assured us, that it was not for fear of our coming that he was removed, but to be acquitted of the Spaniards or any other that should come hereafter. For the province of Cairoma is situate at the mountain foot, which divideth the plains of Guiana from the countries of the Orenoqueponi; by means whereof if any should come in our absence into his towns, he would slip over the mountains into the plains of Guiana among the Epuremei, where the Spaniards durst not follow him without great force. But in mine opinion, or rather I assure myself, that Carapana being a notable wise and subtle fellow, a man of one hundred years of age and therefore of great experience, is removed to look on, and if he find that we return strong he will be ours; if not, he will excuse his departure to the Spaniards, and say it was for fear of our coming.
We therefore thought it bootless to row so far down the stream, or to seek any farther of this old fox; and therefore from the river of Waricapana, which lieth at the entrance of Emeria, we returned again, and left to the eastward those four rivers which fall from the mountains of Emeria into Orenoque, which are Waracayari, Coirama, Akaniri, and Iparoma. Below those four are also these branches and mouths of Orenoque, which fall into the east sea, whereof the first is Araturi, the next Amacura, the third Barima, the fourth Wana, the fifth Morooca, the sixth Paroma, the last Wijmi. Beyond them there fall out of the land between Orenoque and Amazons fourteen rivers, which I forbear to name, inhabited by the Arwacas and Cannibals.
It is now time to return towards the north, and we found it a wearisome way back from the borders of Emeria, to recover up again to the head of the river Carerupana, by which we descended, and where we parted from the galley, which I directed to take the next way to the port of Toparimaca, by which we entered first.
All the night it was stormy and dark, and full of thunder and great showers, so as we were driven to keep close by the banks in our small boats, being all heartily afraid both of the billow and terrible current of the river. By the next morning we recovered the mouth of the river of Cumaca, where we left Captain Eynos and Edward Porter to attend the coming of Captain Keymis overland; but when we entered the same, they had heard no news of his arrival, which bred in us a great doubt what might become of him. I rowed up a league or two farther into the river, shooting off pieces all the way, that he might know of our being there; and the next morning we heard them answer us also with a piece. We took them aboard us, and took our leave of Putijma, their guide, who of all others most lamented our departure, and offered to send his son with us into England, if we could have stayed till he had sent back to his town. But our hearts were cold to behold the great rage and increase of Orenoque, and therefore [we] departed, and turned toward the west, till we had recovered the parting of the three branches aforesaid, that we might put down the stream after the galley.
The next day we landed on the island of Assapano, which divideth the river from that branch by which we sent down to Emeria, and there feasted ourselves with that beast which is called armadillo, presented unto us before at Winicapora. And the day following, we recovered the galley at anchor at the port of Toparimaca, and the same evening departed with very foul weather, and terrible thunder and showers, for the winter was come on very far. The best was, we went no less than 100 miles a day down the river; but by the way we entered it was impossible to return, for that the river of Amana, being in the bottom of the bay of Guanipa, cannot be sailed back by any means, both the breeze and current of the sea were so forcible. And therefore we followed a branch of Orenoque called Capuri, which entered into the sea eastward of our ships, to the end we might bear with them before the wind; and it was not without need, for we had by that way as much to cross of the main sea, after we came to the rivers mouth, as between Gravelin and Dover, in such boats as your honour hath heard.
To speak of what passed homeward were tedious, either to describe or name any of the rivers, islands, or villages of the Tivitivas, which dwell on trees; we will leave all those to the general map. And to be short, when we were arrived at the sea-side, then grew our greatest doubt, and the bitterest of all our journey forepassed; for I protest before God, that we were in a most desperate estate. For the same night which we anchored in the mouth of the river of Capuri, where it falleth into the sea, there arose a mighty storm, and the rivers mouth was at least a league broad, so as we ran before night close under the land with our small boats, and brought the galley as near as we could. But she had as much ado to live as could be, and there wanted little of her sinking, and all those in her; for mine own part, I confess I was very doubtful which way to take, either to go over in the pestered8 galley, there being but six foot water over the sands for two leagues together, and that also in the channel, and she drew five; or to adventure in so great a billow, and in so doubtful weather, to cross the seas in my barge. The longer we tarried the worse it was, and therefore I took Captain Gifford, Captain Caulfield, and my cousin Greenvile into my barge; and after it cleared up about midnight we put ourselves to Gods keeping, and thrust out into the sea, leaving the galley at anchor, who durst not adventure but by daylight. And so, being all very sober and melancholy, one faintly cheering another to shew courage, it pleased God that the next day about nine oclock, we descried the island of Trinidad; and steering for the nearest part of it, we kept the shore till we came to Curiapan, where we found our ships at anchor, than which there was never to us a more joyful sight.
Now that it hath pleased God to send us safe to our ships, it is time to leave Guiana to the sun, whom they worship, and steer away towards the north. I will, therefore, in a few words finish the discovery thereof. Of the several nations which we found upon this discovery I will once again make repetition, and how they are affected. At our first entrance into Amana, which is one of the outlets of Orenoque, we left on the right hand of us in the bottom of the bay, lying directly against Trinidad, a nation of inhuman Cannibals, which inhabit the rivers of Guanipa and Berbeese. In the same bay there is also a third river, which is called Areo, which riseth on Paria side towards Cumaná, and that river is inhabited with the Wikiri, whose chief town upon the said river is Sayma. In this bay there are no more rivers but these three before rehearsed and the four branches of Amana, all which in the winter thrust so great abundance of water into the sea, as the same is taken up fresh two or three leagues from the land. In the passages towards Guiana, that is, in all those lands which the eight branches of Orenoque fashion into islands, there are but one sort of people, called Tivitivas, but of two castes, as they term them, the one called Ciawani, the other Waraweeti, and those war one with another.
On the hithermost part of Orenoque, as at Toparimaca and Winicapora, those are of a nation called Nepoios, and are the followers of Carapana, lord of Emeria. Between Winicapora and the port of Morequito, which standeth in Aromaia, and all those in the valley of Amariocapana are called Orenoqueponi, and did obey Morequito and are now followers of Topiawari. Upon the river of Caroli are the Canuri, which are governed by a woman who is inheritrix of that province; who came far off to see our nation, and asked me divers questions of her Majesty, being much delighted with the discourse of her Majestys greatness, and wondering at such reports as we truly made of her Highness many virtues. And upon the head of Caroli and on the lake of Cassipa are the three strong nations of the Cassipagotos. Right south into the land are the Capurepani and Emparepani, and beyond those, adjoining to Macureguarai, the first city of Inga, are the Iwarawakeri. All these are professed enemies to the Spaniards, and to the rich Epuremei also. To the west of Caroli are divers nations of Cannibals and of those Ewaipanoma without heads. Directly west are the Amapaias and Anebas, which are also marvellous rich in gold. The rest towards Peru we will omit. On the north of Orenoque, between it and the West Indies, are the Wikiri, Saymi, and the rest before spoken of, all mortal enemies to the Spaniards. On the south side of the main mouth of Orenoque are the Arwacas; and beyond them, the Cannibals; and to the south of them, the Amazons.
To make mention of the several beasts, birds, fishes, fruits, flowers, gums, sweet woods, and of their several religions and customs, would for the first require as many volumes as those of Gesnerus, and for the next another bundle of Decades. The religion of the Epuremei is the same which the Ingas, emperors of Peru, used, which may be read in Cieza and other Spanish stories; how they believe the immortality of the soul, worship the sun, and bury with them alive their best beloved wives and treasure, as they likewise do in Pegu in the East Indies, and other places. The Orenoqueponi bury not their wives with them, but their jewels, hoping to enjoy them again. The Arwacas dry the bones of their lords, and their wives and friends drink them in powder. In the graves of the Peruvians the Spaniards found their greatest abundance of treasure. The like, also, is to be found among these people in every province. They have all many wives, and the lords five-fold to the common sort. Their wives never eat with their husbands, nor among the men, but serve their husbands at meals and afterwards feed by themselves. Those that are past their younger years make all their bread and drink, and work their cotton-beds, and do all else of service and labour; for the men do nothing but hunt, fish, play, and drink, when they are out of the wars.
I will enter no further into discourse of their manners, laws, and customs. And because I have not myself seen the cities of Inga I cannot avow on my credit what I have heard, although it be very likely that the emperor Inga hath built and erected as magnificent palaces in Guiana as his ancestors did in Peru; which were for their riches and rareness most marvellous, and exceeding all in Europe, and, I think, of the world, China excepted, which also the Spaniards, which I had, assured me to be true, as also the nations of the borderers, who, being but savages to those of the inland, do cause much treasure to be buried with them. For I was informed of one of the caciques of the valley of Amariocapana which had buried with him a little before our arrival a chair of gold most curiously wrought, which was made either in Macureguarai adjoining or in Manoa. But if we should have grieved them in their religion at the first, before they had been taught better, and have digged up their graves, we had lost them all. And therefore I held my first resolution, that her Majesty should either accept or refuse the enterprise ere anything should be done that might in any sort hinder the same. And if Peru had so many heaps of gold, whereof those Ingas were princes, and that they delighted so much therein, no doubt but this which now liveth and reigneth in Manoa hath the same humour,9 and, I am assured, hath more abundance of gold within his territory than all Peru and the West Indies.
For the rest, which myself have seen, I will promise these things that follow, which I know to be true. Those that are desirous to discover and to see many nations may be satisfied within this river, which bringeth forth so many arms and branches leading to several countries and provinces, above 2,000 miles east and west and 800 miles south and north, and of these the most either rich in gold or in other merchandises. The common soldier shall here fight for gold, and pay himself, instead of pence, with plates of half-a-foot broad, whereas he breaketh his bones in other wars for provant10 and penury. Those commanders and chieftains that shoot at honour and abundance shall find there more rich and beautiful cities, more temples adorned with golden images, more sepulchres filled with treasure, than either Cortes found in Mexico or Pizarro in Peru. And the shining glory of this conquest will eclipse all those so far-extended beams of the Spanish nation. There is no country which yieldeth more pleasure to the inhabitants, either for those common delights of hunting, hawking, fishing, fowling, and the rest, than Guiana doth; it hath so many plains, clear rivers, and abundance of pheasants, partridges, quails, rails, cranes, herons, and all other fowl; deer of all sorts, porks, hares, lions, tigers, leopards, and divers other sorts of beasts, either for chase or food. It hath a kind of beast called cama or anta,11 as big as an English beef, and in great plenty. To speak of the several sorts of every kind I fear would be troublesome to the reader, and therefore I will omit them, and conclude that both for health, good air, pleasure, and riches, I am resolved it cannot be equalled by any region either in the east or west. Moreover the country is so healthful, as of an hundred persons and more, which lay without shift most sluttishly, and were every day almost melted with heat in rowing and marching, and suddenly wet again with great showers, and did eat of all sorts of corrupt fruits, and made meals of fresh fish without seasoning, of tortugas, of lagartos or crocodiles, and of all sorts good and bad, without either order or measure, and besides lodged in the open air every night, we lost not any one, nor had one ill-disposed to my knowledge; nor found any calentura or other of those pestilent diseases which dwell in all hot regions, and so near the equinoctial line.
Where there is store of gold it is in effect needless to remember other commodities for trade. But it hath, towards the south part of the river, great quantities of brazil-wood, and divers berries that dye a most perfect crimson and carnation; and for painting, all France, Italy, or the East Indies yield none such. For the more the skin is washed, the fairer the colour appeareth, and with which even those brown and tawny women spot themselves and colour their cheeks. All places yield abundance of cotton, of silk, of balsamum, and of those kinds most excellent and never known in Europe, of all sorts of gums, of Indian pepper; and what else the countries may afford within the land we know not, neither had we time to abide the trial and search. The soil besides is so excellent and so full of rivers, as it will carry sugar, ginger, and all those other commodities which the West Indies have.
The navigation is short, for it may be sailed with an ordinary wind in six weeks, and in the like time back again; and by the way neither lee-shore, enemies coast, rocks, nor sands. All which in the voyages to the West Indies and all other places we are subject unto; as the channel of Bahama, coming from the West Indies, cannot well be passed in the winter, and when it is at the best, it is a perilous and a fearful place; the rest of the Indies for calms and diseases very troublesome, and the sea about the Bermudas a hellish sea for thunder, lightning, and storms.
This very year (1595) there were seventeen sail of Spanish ships lost in the channel of Bahama, and the great Philip, like to have sunk at the Bermudas, was put back to St. Juan de Puerto Rico; and so it falleth out in that navigation every year for the most part. Which in this voyage are not to be feared; for the time of year to leave England is best in July, and the summer in Guiana is in October, November, December, January, February, and March, and then the ships may depart thence in April, and so return again into England in June. So as they shall never be subject to winter weather, either coming, going, or staying there: which, for my part, I take to be one of the greatest comforts and encouragements that can be thought on, having, as I have done, tasted in this voyage by the West Indies so many calms, so much heat, such outrageous gusts, such weather, and contrary winds.
To conclude, Guiana is a country that hath yet her maidenhead, never sacked, turned, nor wrought; the face of the earth hath not been torn, nor the virtue and salt of the soil spent by manurance. The graves have not been opened for gold, the mines not broken with sledges, nor their images pulled down out of their temples. It hath never been entered by any army of strength, and never conquered or possessed by any Christian prince. It is besides so defensible, that if two forts be builded in one of the provinces which I have seen, the flood setteth in so near the bank, where the channel also lieth, that no ship can pass up but within a pikes length of the artillery, first of the one, and afterwards of the other. Which two forts will be a sufficient guard both to the empire of Inga, and to an hundred other several kingdoms, lying within the said river, even to the city of Quito in Peru.
There is therefore great difference between the easiness of the conquest of Guiana, and the defence of it being conquered, and the West or East Indies. Guiana hath but one entrance by the sea, if it hath that, for any vessels of burden. So as whosoever shall first possess it, it shall be found unaccessible for any enemy, except he come in wherries, barges, or canoas, or else in flat-bottomed boats; and if he do offer to enter it in that manner, the woods are so thick 200 miles together upon the rivers of such entrance, as a mouse cannot sit in a boat unhit from the bank. By land it is more impossible to approach; for it hath the strongest situation of any region under the sun, and it is so environed with impassable mountains on every side, as it is impossible to victual any company in the passage. Which hath been well proved by the Spanish nation, who since the conquest of Peru have never left five years free from attempting this empire, or discovering some way into it; and yet of three-and-twenty several gentlemen, knights, and noblemen, there was never any that knew which way to lead an army by land, or to conduct ships by sea, anything near the said country. Orellana, of whom the river of Amazons taketh name, was the first, and Don Antonio de Berreo, whom we displanted, the last: and I doubt much whether he himself or any of his yet know the best way into the said empire. It can therefore hardly be regained, if any strength be formerly set down, but in one or two places, and but two or three crumsters12 or galleys built and furnished upon the river within. The West Indies have many ports, watering places, and landings; and nearer than 300 miles to Guiana, no man can harbour a ship, except he know one only place, which is not learned in haste, and which I will undertake there is not any one of my companies that knoweth, whosoever hearkened most after it.
Besides, by keeping one good fort, or building one town of strength, the whole empire is guarded; and whatsoever companies shall be afterwards planted within the land, although in twenty several provinces, those shall be able all to reunite themselves upon any occasion either by the way of one river, or be able to march by land without either wood, bog, or mountain. Whereas in the West Indies there are few towns or provinces that can succour or relieve one the other by land or sea. By land the countries are either desert, mountainous, or strong enemies. By sea, if any man invade to the eastward, those to the west cannot in many months turn against the breeze and eastern wind. Besides, the Spaniards are therein so dispersed as they are nowhere strong, but in Nueva España only; the sharp mountains, the thorns, and poisoned prickles, the sandy and deep ways in the valleys, the smothering heat and air, and want of water in other places are their only and best defence; which, because those nations that invade them are not victualled or provided to stay, neither have any place to friend adjoining, do serve them instead of good arms and great multitudes.
The West Indies were first offered her Majestys grandfather by Columbus, a stranger, in whom there might be doubt of deceit; and besides it was then thought incredible that there were such and so many lands and regions never written of before. This Empire is made known to her Majesty by her own vassal, and by him that oweth to her more duty than an ordinary subject; so that it shall ill sort with the many graces and benefits which I have received to abuse her Highness, either with fables or imaginations. The country is already discovered, many nations won to her Majestys love and obedience, and those Spaniards which have latest and longest laboured about the conquest, beaten out, discouraged, and disgraced, which among these nations were thought invincible. Her Majesty may in this enterprise employ all those soldiers and gentlemen that are younger brethren, and all captains and chieftains that want employment, and the charge will be only the first setting out in victualling and arming them; for after the first or second year I doubt not but to see in London a Contractation-House13 of more receipt for Guiana than there is now in Seville for the West Indies.
And I am resolved that if there were but a small army afoot in Guiana, marching towards Manoa, the chief city of Inga, he would yield to her Majesty by composition so many hundred thousand pounds yearly as should both defend all enemies abroad, and defray all expenses at home; and that he would besides pay a garrison of three or four thousand soldiers very royally to defend him against other nations. For he cannot but know how his predecessors, yea, how his own great uncles, Guascar and Atabalipa, sons to Guiana-Capac, emperor of Peru, were, while they contended for the empire, beaten out by the Spaniards, and that both of late years and ever since the said conquest, the Spaniards have sought the passages and entry of his country; and of their cruelties used to the borderers he cannot be ignorant. In which respects no doubt but he will be brought to tribute with great gladness; if not, he hath neither shot nor iron weapon in all his empire, and therefore may easily be conquered.
And I further remember that Berreo confessed to me and others, which I protest before the Majesty of God to be true, that there was found among the prophecies in Peru, at such time as the empire was reduced to the Spanish obedience, in their chiefest temples, amongst divers others which foreshadowed the loss of the said empire, that from Inglatierra those Ingas should be again in time to come restored, and delivered from the servitude of the said conquerors. And I hope, as we with these few hands have displanted the first garrison, and driven them out of the said country, so her Majesty will give order for the rest, and either defend it, and hold it as tributary, or conquer and keep it as empress of the same. For whatsoever prince shall possess it, shall be greatest; and if the king of Spain enjoy it, he will become unresistible. Her Majesty hereby shall confirm and strengthen the opinions of all nations as touching her great and princely actions. And where the south border of Guiana reacheth to the dominion and empire of the Amazons, those women shall hereby hear the name of a virgin, which is not only able to defend her own territories and her neighbours, but also to invade and conquer so great empires and so far removed.
To speak more at this time I fear would be but troublesome: I trust in God, this being true, will suffice, and that he which is King of all Kings, and Lord of Lords, will put it into her heart which is Lady of Ladies to possess it. If not, I will judge those men worthy to be kings thereof, that by her grace and leave will undertake it of themselves.