Open main menu

Notes on the State of Virginia (1853)/Appendix 4/Translations




P. 24. (Note.)

Another is mentioned by Clavigero: “The Bridge of God; thus they call a vast mass of earth above the deep river Atoyaque, near the village of Moleaxac, about a hundred miles from Mexico, in the direction of Scirocco, over which carts and carriages pass without difficulty. It might be taken for a fragment of the adjacent mountain, torn from it, in times of old, by an earthquake.”—History of Mexico, L. 1, § 3.

P. 24. (Note.)

This cave, or passage, is cut out of the live rock with such precision that the inequalities on one side correspond with the projections on the other side, as if that mountain had parted on purpose, with its turns and windings, to make a passage for the waters between the two lofty walls on both sides; they being so like each other, that if they were joined together they would cover each other without leaving any cavity between them.

“Marble is very frequently found on the banks of most of these rivers: slate rocks also are seen there, and I have often had occasion to observe the close affinity between these two kinds of rock. I had made the same remark in the Cordilleras. There slate and marble often touch one another, and I have seen some rocks which were slate at one end and marble at the other. Every new liquefaction of rock, analogous to slate, and cementing its layers, makes the whole rock harder and more compact; the rock is no longer slate, but becomes marble. Another rock, called schist, is also subject to this transformation. Sometimes the layers not only are cemented together, but one piece of rock joins, as if by chance, another; and if the whole is then exposed to the action of gravel and of flint stones, rolled by flowing water, it is, as it were, rounded off, becomes nearly cylindric, and assumes the appearance of the trunk of a tree; so that it is often with difficulty distinguished from a real tree. I regretted much not to be able to take with me one of these apparent trees which I had found in a ravine between Guanaca and La Plata, at the foot of a hill, called La Subida del Frayle. This was a piece of marble, 20 inches long, by 17 or 18 diameter; the surface presented a kind of knots of various forms, and something like wood fibres was visible; even the outline of the trunk was calculated to deceive me. There was an indentation on one side, and a projection on the opposite side, which remained equally inexplicable to myself, and to those who accompanied me. I was only decided by noticing other pieces of schist, lying near, which began to assume the same appearance, but were not yet sufficiently changed to deceive one, and which, on the contrary, enlightened me as to the nature of the piece of marble. It is said that among various kinds of wood the gayac is the one which is most readily petrified, and I was assured that I would see below Mompox a cross, the upper part of which was still of this wood, whilst the lower part was actually flint. Several persons assured me they had drawn sparks from it. When I came to the spot several persons confirmed the report, but added that, six or seven years ago, an unusually high flood had caused the cross to fall into the river.”—Page 93.

“Here one observes no trace of those vast inundations which have left so many marks in all other countries. I made every effort to find some shell, but always in vain. It seems as if the mountains of Peru had been too high.”—Bouguer, (&c.)

“In our times it has been seen in Italy for the first time.”

“It has its origin in the hot countries of America.”—Zoologiè, Géographique.—Page 74.

“Potatoes are indigenous in Guyana.”—Zimmerman Zool. Geogr. 26. “The Papa was brought to Mexico from South America, its native country.” — 1. Clavigero, 58.

“The maize came from America to Spain, and thence to other European countries.” “The Spaniards in Europe and in America call the maize maiz, a word derived from the language of Hayti, which was spoken in the island now called Hispaniola, or St. Domingo.”—1. Clavigero, 56. “Maize, a grain granted by Providence to that portion of the globe, instead of the wheat of Europe, the rice of Asia, and the millet of Africa.”—2. Clavig., 218. Acosta classes Indian corn with the plants peculiar to America, observing that it is called “Trigo de las Indias” (Indian wheat) in Spain, and “Grano de Turquia” (Turkey grain) in Italy. He says, “From hence came Indian corn, and why they call this most productive grain in Italian, Turkey grain, is more easily asked than answered. Because, in fact, there is no trace of such a plant in the old world, although the millet, which Pliny says came ten years before he wrote from India to Italy, has some resemblance to maize, inasmuch as he calls it a grain, which grows in stalks, and is covered with leaves, which has at the top a kind of hair, and is remarkably productive—all of which does not apply to mijo, by which they commonly mean millet. After all, the Creator rules all parts of the globe: to one he gave wheat, the principal food of man; to the Indias he gave maize, which holds the second place, next to wheat, as a food for man and beast.”—Acosta, iv., 16.

Clavigero says: “I do not remember that any American nation has any tradition of elephants, or hippopotami, or other quadrupeds of equal size. I do not know that any of the numerous excavations made in New Spain has brought to light the carcass of a hippopotamus, or even the tooth of an elephant.”—125.

2. Epoques, 232. Buffon pronounces it is not the grinder either of the elephant or hippopotamus, but of a species, “the first and the greatest of all land animals now lost.”

“The earth has (since) remained cold, unable to produce the principles necessary for the development of the germs of the largest quadrupeds, which require for their growth and propagation all the heat and activity which the sun can give to the loving earth.”—Xviii. 156. “The temper of men and the size of animals depend upon the salubrity and the heat of the air.”—Ib. 160.

“All that is colossal and grand in Nature has been formed at the North.”— 1. Epoq., 255. “It is in our Northern regions that living nature has risen to the largest dimensions.”—Ib. 263.

“Dogs have in Hispaniola grown so much in number and in size as to become the plague of that island.—Acosta iv., 33.

“Although the savage of the new world is nearly of the same height as man in our world, this does not suffice to constitute an exception to the general fact, that all living nature is smaller on that continent. The savage is feeble, and small in some of his parts, and has little hair or beard; although swifter than the European, because better accustomed to run; he is, on the other hand, less strong; he is also less sensitive, and yet more timid and cowardly; he has no vivacity, no activity of mind; the activity of his body is less an exercise, a voluntary motion, than a necessary action caused by want; relieve him of hunger and thirst, and you deprive him of the active principle of all his movements; he will rest stupidly upon his legs, or lying down entire days. There is no need for seeking farther the cause of the isolated mode of life of these savages and their repugnance for society: the most precious spark of the fire of Nature has been refused to them: they have no love for their wives, and consequently no love for their neighbors: as they know not this strongest and tenderest of all affections, their other feelings also are cold and languid; they love their parents and children but little; the closest of all ties, the family connexion, binds them, therefore, but loosely together; between family and family there is no tie at all; hence they have no communion, no Commonwealth, no state of society. Physical love is their only morality; their heart is icy, their society cold, and their rule despotic. They look upon their wives as servants for all work, or as beasts of burden, which they load without consideration with the produce of their hunting, and which they compel without mercy, without gratitude, to perform work which is often beyond their strength. They have only few children, and take little care of them. Everywhere the original defect appears: they are indifferent because they are impotent, and this indifference for the other sex is the fundamental defect, which tarnishes their nature, prevents its development, and destroying the very germs of life, uproots at the same time society. Man is here also no exception to the general rule. Nature, by refusing him the power of love, has treated him worse, and lowered him deeper, than any animal.”

Amer. Vesp., 13. “Beyond measure sensual.”—108.

Amer. Vesp., 30, 31, 39, 75. “Of great strength and lofty mind.”—Ib. 78.

“The conquered Indians are the most cowardly and pusillanimous that can be seen: they excuse themselves, humble themselves to contempt, apologise for their inconsiderate temerity, and by supplication and prayer give the best proof of their want of courage. Either the accounts given in the History of the Conquest, of their great exploits, are a mere figure of speech, or the character of these people is not the same now as it was then; but this is beyond doubt, that the nations of the North enjoy the same liberty they have always had, without ever having been subject to foreign princes, and they live all their life according to their rules and usages, without any reason why they should change their character; and herein they appear the same as those of Peru and of South America, now enslaved or never subjugated.”

[And the last line of same note:] “Hard labor destroys them, on account of the inhumanity with which they are treated.”

“They live a hundred and fifty years.” — Amer. Vesp., 111.

Amer. Vesp., 13. “Their women are very fertile,” &c.

“The earth is cold, unable to produce the principles necessary for the development of the germs of the largest quadrupeds, which require, for their growth and propagation, all the heat and activity which the sun can give to the loving earth.”—P. 156. “The temper of man and the size of animals depend upon the salubrity and the heat of the air.”

[Further on.] “All that is colossal and grand in Nature has been formed in Northern countries.”—1. Epoq., 255. “It is in our Northern regions that living nature has risen to the largest dimensions.”— Ib. 263.

Amer. Vesp., 115. “Here the sky and the air are seldom darkened by clouds; the days are almost always clear.”

See Herrera, Dec. 1, L. 10, chap. 8. “When Yucatan was discovered, an abundance of wax and honey was found.”—And ib. ch. 9. “There are found hornets and bees, although the latter are smaller, and sting with more fury.” — Dec. 2, L. 3, ch. 1.

See Clavigero, 107. On the frontier of Gruayaquil there are found bees, which accumulate and make honey in the hollows of trees; they are larger than flies; the wax and the honey they make are red, and although it tastes well, it is not the same as in Castille.” Herr. 5, 10, 10.

“Several Indians have told us that they have seen on the banks of the river Coari, in the up-land, an open plain, flies, and a number of horned animals, objects which they had not seen before, and which prove that the sources of these rivers water a country adjoining the Spanish colonies of Upper Peru.”

“That there should be devised a way to bring many negroes from Gruinea, as the labor of one negro was worth more than that of four Indians.”—Herrera, (&c.)

N. B.—In the note to page 62, the Translator allowed himself some slight liberty to avoid indelicate language.