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Narrative of a Journey in South America.
into the walls, sometimes so insecurely that he runs considerable risk of coming to the ground in his sleep, head or feet foremost, as it may happen.
About three o'clock in the morning, we again sebout, and continued our descent, guided by the light of the stars. This part of the road we found in some places more steep and rugged than any in our whole journey, being indeed more difficult to pass than the worst between La Guayra and Caracas, At day dawn we reached Las Coucuisas, consisting of a few scattered houses, at the bottom of the hill. Of these, the principal was a Fulperia, before the door of which a number of Indians and other travellers, proceeding to Caracas, were collected, waiting till it should be opened to prepare themselves for climbing the mountains, from which we had just descended. Among the Indians, were many young women of pleasing features, who were going together in parties to seek for work in the coffee plantations, where they are employed in picking the berries. They told me that in the low countries, their usual wages were about two reals, or one quarter of a dollar per day, besides a small quantity of provisions; but that in the high lands of Caracas, they would not work during the coffee season, under three reals, on account of its being there so extremely cold.
Close behind the Coucuisas runs the river Tuy, in a narrow valley, through which is the road to Victoria. This stream, here rather more considerable than the Guayra of Caracas, flows first to the westward, but afterwards winds round the hills, and falls into the Guayra, which it greatly augments, and renders navigable for canoes. At the Coucuisas we pass this river, or rather go splashing along its bed for about fifty yards, when, after a short ride on its bank, we pass it again.
The natural beauties of this valley, however, are yet sufficient to compensate the traveller for its inconveniences. Sometimes the river, divided into several channels, runs through among the trees, which border the sides of the valley; then, suddenly uniting into one, it pours along a clear and rapid, stream over a bed of smooth rounded stones. Here and there are scattered bilge trunks of trees, which have been brought down by the torrents, and now form bridges over some divisions of the stream. The steep sides of the valley are generally green, or covered with weeds, amongst which we can notice trees, on which are large bosses of plastered earth; the nests of a species of ant, furnished with long winding passages of the same material, by which to reach the ground. At length the valley widens; we leave the river, and proceeding along the side of the hills on our right, enjoy for some time, a view of it as it flows amid various flourishing plantations. In other parts it is concealed from us by tall reeds or canes, which grow along the banks to the height of twenty-five or thirty feet, and are swayed to and fro by one impulse of the slightest breeze. Not far from this, we arrive at EI Conscjo, sometimes called Mamou, consisting of about two hundred poor houses; but which indicate, by the new appearance of many of them, that Vol. iv. No. 21. • 2 B
Narrative of a Journey in South. America.
the place is rapidly increasing. We may now consider ourselves as in one of the vales of Aragoa, so much extolled for beauty and fertility. The valley here opens rapidly, and after riding about two leagues farther, we arrive at La Victoria.
La Victoria is a scattered town, situated mostly in a plain, and interspersed with gardens and trees.' Some of the principal streets contain houses equal to those of Caracas, and the general appearance, although irrtgular, is pleasing, conveying the idea of something between a town and a very large village. The principal officers of the militia of the neighbouring valleys of Aragoa reside here, thus making it as it were a seat of government, and contributing materially to form the manners of the inhabitants, such as they are. A large plaza or public square, is marked out, but the houses are not yet completed. On one side stands the principal church; which, although not finished, is, in its interior, beyond comparison the most beautiful and best proportioned public edifice that I saw in the whole country.
A river as large as the Tuy runs near the town, and supplies abundance of water for the purposes of irrigation. The plantations around are in general well cultivated; and I here, for the first time, saw the spectacle, so novel and so interesting to a European, of wheat and the sugar cane growing close together. The wheat, which was still green, appeared as fine as any I had ever seen in England, and was not separated, even by the slightest trench, from extensive fields of Otaheitan sugar canes, by which it was enclosed.
Having stopped a few days at La Victoria, we prepared to continue our journey, and set off before dawn for San Mateo, distant about two leagues. Between the two, the road crosses a small ridge, from which we obtain the first view of the lake of Valencia, and of the grand plain in which it lies. This view may be classed among some of the most magnificent iu nature. We beheld at break of day, a rich plain extending before us to the westward more than fifty miles, a long regular line at a great distance which marked the lake, and the horizon bordered with high mountains. After descending from this little height we saw no more of the lake until after passing the straggling villages of San Mateo and Tulmero, and approaching Maracai, when it appeared again not far from us. The plantations in the neighbourhood of San Mateo are mostly of sugar canes, and those around Tulmero, of tobacco.
After halting at Tulmero, which is two leagues and a half from San Mateo, we arrivad at Maracai in the heat of the day, a farther distance of three leagues and a half over an open country, or covered only with bushes, which afford shelter to a vast number of small deer. We were struck with the appearance of Maracai, which, as we had been informed, was, forty years ago, no more than a hamlet. It is now a town, containing nearly ten thousand inhabitants; the principal street, through which the road passes, is more than half a mile in length, and many of the houses are built of stone. It stands near the eastern end of the lake, but nut immediately upon it. Narrative of a Journey in South America.
Charming plantations extend from it in all directions, and there is a general air of prosperity, and still more of activity, which I was puzzled to account for, until I learned that work was here chiefly performed by free labourers, and the use of slaves for the great purposes of society, comparatively speaking, but little known.
We were conducted to a decent Posada, and our Mulatto, without asking any questions, having slung our hammocks as a matter of course, we followed the general example of thus resting for two hours during the heat of the day. In the afternoon we pursued our journey. Soon after leaving Maracai we began to have occasional views of the lake through the trees and bushes which border the road; and having proceeded about three leagues, and passing a few houses called Tapatapa, we arrived at La Cabrera, or the Goatfold; where stood a Pulperia, and a few houses at the foot of a small calcareous hill. As the sun was just about to set, we ascended this eminence by a winding path formed by the numerous goats which browze upon it, and enjoyed from the top a view the most beautiful that can be imagined. The hills at La Cabrera advance into the lake, and thus enable us to see nearly the whole of its extent. The southern side, even viewed at this distance, if highly picturesque, the water approaching close to the foot of the hills; which, being covered with forests of mimosas and broad-leaved bananas, have a softness and luxuriancy which cannot be surpassed. At both ends of the lake, the country is level, soon terminating to the eastward in the hills which shut in the valley of La Victoria, but extending to the south-west beyond Valencia farther than the eye can reach. The whole of this grand scene was now enriched with all the soft tints which the sun, just sunk below the horizon, could impart in this delightful climate. The tops of the highest mountains still glowed with fire, but a purple leight reigned in the valleys, aud a. soberer tint was spread over the surface of the lake.
At length the prospect became indistinct, and we descended to the house. The small canoes ol the fishermen were drawn up on the beach; but we observed black moving spots upon this lake, which, we were afterwards informed, were the heads of baiw, a species of crocodile, three or four feet in length, which are here very numerous, but harmless. In the interior of the country, they are found in small lakes and ponds, where they are frequently seen sleeping with their heads above the surface. Having reached the house, we found our supper prepared of fish fresh from the lake, and were afterwards presented with cocoa made very sweet, and with draughts of gnarapo. A shed, supported by posts, and open on three sides, was allotted to us for the night. Our hammocks were fastened from side to side, and we enjoyed, as we lay, the brilliancy of the stars, until gradually lulled to sleep by the monotonous sound of the small waves which fell upon the shore.
We set off, as usual, before break of day. , At the end of five leagues, after passing the small hamlets of Mariara, Agua Blanca, Cara, and San Joaquin, the former of which has a neat little white church, we arrive at Narrative of a Journey in South America.
Guacara, a straggling village, containing, as I should suppose, about four thousand inhabitants. The houses are almost universally low and mean, bat bear the appearance of increasing in number. Here we rested, the heat becoming oppressive. We procured in the village bananas, eggs, and cakes of maize, on which we breakfasted, and then rested in our hammocks till the afternoon. Frorfi Guacara to Valencia, is a distance of four leagues, through a country mostly open, and constantly level. As we approach Valencia, the road winds near the foot of some high and steep rocks, forming here a kind of pass; directly after which we have a view of the town, situated upon small slopes, and open on every side. Before entering it, we cross a small stream, which runs at the foot of the first of these slopes, and are immediately in the town, the appearance of which has nothing striking. Some of the streets, it is true, are tolerably well built; but the houses are in general low and irregular. On the eastern side of the great square, stands the principal church, by no means equal to that of La Victoria, either in its size or proportions.
(To be continued.)
JOURNAL OF THE EIGHTY THIRD REGIMENT.
(Continued from page 141..)
BY general orders of the 8th of May, the Brigade of Guards, General A. Campbell's aud General Sonntag's Brigades, were directed to march on the following morning, and to take with them a heavy and a light sixpounder brigade. These corps formed the main body or reserve of the army, and Lieutenant-Gencral Sherbrooke was requested to take upon himself the command thereof. General Cameron was also ordered to put bis brigade in motion at the same time, though further directions would be sent him respecting its march.
In the after general orders a new division of the army took place, in consequence of the arrival of-Lieutenarit-General Edward Paget, and it was therefore to be in future divided as follows:
Guards.—Brigadier-General H. Campbell's, Major-General Hill's, Brigadier-General A, Campbell's, and Brigadier-Geneial Cameron's brigades; to form the right wing, and to be under the command of Lieutenant-Gencral Sherbrooke; a brigade of heavy six-pounders, and a brigade of light six-pounders to accompany it. King's German Legion, four battalions.-1—Brigadier-General R. Stewart's, and Brigadier-General Sonntag's brigades j to form the left wing, and to be under the command of Lieutenant-Gencral E. Paget; a brigade of six-poundcrs, and a brigade of three-pounders to accompany this wing also. These wings were to be formed into two or more lines, as circumstaaces Journal of the Eighty-third Regiment.
should require; and brigades were to be detached from them according to the necessity of the case; either for the purpose of forming advanced guards or reserves.
General Cameron's instructions were to support Major-General Hill, whose brigade was destined to clear the sea-coast and turn the enemy's right flank, by forcing his advanced posts stationed around the town of Ovar. The two divisions under the immediate direction of Lieutenant-Generals Sberbrooke and Edward Paget, followed the main road to Oporto, and were to force the centre and left of the enemy, whose advanced guard lay in the Neighbourhood of Albergaria*.
The pleasant rising grounds every where seen in the vicinity of Coimbra, extend not beyond Aos Fornos; for at this spot the country flattens, becomes of a sandy nature covered with heath, underwood, and fir forests, which appearance continues until it reaches Mealhada on the main road, and Mamarosa on the western, or coast road to Oporto. Both these ways, however, have the same origin at Coimbra, and do not separate before passing Aos Fornos, which is a solitary hut in a fir grove.
Aos Marcos and Ao Carquejo are paltry hamlets. All the other intermediate places are villages, among which are some tolerably thriving, populous, and comfortable, none of them being naturally poor.
The two first divisions under Generals Sberbrooke and Paget, cantoned in and around the villages of Mealhada, Pedreira, Belais, and Graciosa. At a handsome quinta near the latter place head-quarters were established. General Hill's brigade moved towards Aveiro from its cantonments at Murtede, Vendas Novas, and Samuel, in order to make room for Cameron's, ordered to take up the quarters'vacated.
Previous to the march from Coimbra, all Brigade-Majors had been directed to attend at general head-quarters immediately after distributing their respective brigades in the cantonments allotted to them. I was, therefore, (acting on the staff during the indisposition of Captain B ) under the necessity of going from Vendas Novas to Graciosa; an unfrequented track, across fields, led from General Cameron's quarters through the villages of Outeito, Oite, and Belais, to the general head-quarters, and as this was the nearest means of communication, I followed it. The distance might be three leagues over a rough, winding, and narrow path.
t Route of the divisions under Generals Sherhrooke and Page'- — Coimbra to Aoi Fornos 1 league, Ao Carquejo 1, Mealhada I, Pedreira 1, Avelans 1, Aguada 1, Serdao 1, Vouga 1, Albergaria Velha 1, Albergaria Nova 1, Pinheiro 1, Olivcira de Aameis 1, Santo Antonio], Souto Redonda 1, Grijo 1, Carvallios 1, Oporto 1.— Total, 17 leagues.
Route of Lieutenant-General Hill's and Brigadier-General Cameron's Brigades.— Coimbra to Aos Fornos 1 league, Aos Marcos 1, Murtede 1, Venda Nova 1, Samel 1, Mamarosa 1, Palhaca 1, Salgueiro I, Aveiro 1, Ovar (by water) 5, Cortigafa t, r«am« 1, Corro 1. Cbamorr* 1, Oporto 1. — Total, 19 leagues.