From « Humboldt's Travels." WHERE the Atabapo enters the Rio Temi, and before reaching its confluence, a granitic hummock, that rises on the western bank, near the mouth of the Guasacavi, fixed our attention ; it is called the Rock of the Guahiba woman, or the Rock of the Mother, Piedra de la Madre. We inquired the cause of so singular a denomination. Father Zea could not satisfy our curiosity ; but some weeks after, another missionary, one of the predecessors of this ecclesiastic, whom we found settled at San Fernando as president of the missions, related to us an event, which I recorded in my journal, and which excited in our minds the most painful feelings. If, in these solitary scenes, man scarcely leaves behind him any trace of his existence, it is doubly humiliating for a European to see perpetuated by the name of a rock, by one of those imperishable monuments of nature, the remembrance of the moral degradation of our species, and the contrast between the virtue of a savage, and the barbarism of civilized man!

In 1797 the missionary of San Fernando had led his Indians to the banks of the Rio Guaviare, on one of those hostile incursions which are prohibited alike by religion and the Spanish laws. They found in an Italian hut, a Ġuahiba mother with three children, two of whom were still infants. They were occupied in preparing the flour of Casava. Resistance was impossible ; the father was gone to fish, and the mother tried in vain to flee with her children. Scarcely had she reached the Savannah, when she was seized by the Indians of the mission, who go to hunt men, like the whites and the negroes in Africa. The mother and her children were bound, and dragged to the bank of the river. The monk, seated in his boat, waited the issue of an expedition, of which he partook not the danger. Had the mother made too violent a resistance, the Indians would have killed her, for every thing is permitted when they go to the conquest of souls ra la conquista espiritual), and it is children in particular they seek to capture, in order to treat them, in the mission, as poitos, or slaves of the Christians. The prisoners were carried to San Fernando in the hope, that the mother would be unable to find her way back to her home by land. Far from those children who had accompanied their father on the day in which she had been carried off, this unhappy woman showed signs of the deepest despair. She attempted to take back to her family the children who had been snatched away by the missionary, and Aed with them repeatedly from the village of San Fernando, but the Indians never failed to seize her anew ; and the missionary, after having caused her to be mercilessly beaten, took the cruel resolution of separating the mother from the two children, who had been carried off with her.

She was conveyed alone toward the missions of the Rio Negro, going up the Atabapo. Slightly bound, she was seated at the bow of the boat, ignorant of the fate that awaited her; but she judged by the direction of the sun, that she was removed farther and farther from her hut and her native country. She succeeded in breaking her bonds, threw herself into the water, and swam to the left bank of the Atabapo. The current carried her to a shelf of rock, which bears her name to this day. She landed and took shelter in the woods, but the president of the missions ordered the Indians to row to the shore, and follow the traces of the Guahibi. In the evening she was brought back. Stretched upon the rock (la Piedra de la Madre) a cruel punishment was inflicted on her with those straps of Manatee leather, which serve for whips in that country, and with which the alcades are always furnished. This unhappy woman, her hands tied behind her back with strong stalks of mavacure, was then dragged to the mission of Javita.

She was there thrown into one of the caravanseras that are called Casa del Rey. It was the rainy season, and the night was profoundly dark. Forests, till then believed to be impenetrable, separated the mission of Javita from that of San Fernando, which was twenty-five leagues distant in a straight line. No other part is known than that of the rivers ; no man ever attempted to go by land from one village to another, were they only a few leagues apart. But such difficulties do not stop a mother, who is separated from her children. Her children are at San Fernando de Atabapo ; she must find them again, she must execute her project of delivering them from the hands of Christians, of bringing them back to their father on the banks of the Guaviare. The Guabibi was carelessly guarded in the caravansera.

Her arms being wounded, the Indians of Javita had loosened her bonds, unknown to the missionary and the alcades. She succeeded by the help of her teeth in breaking them entirely ; disappeared during the night ; and at the fourth rising sun was seen at the mission of San Fernando, hovering around the hut where her children were confined.

" What that woman performed,” added the missionary who gave us this sad narrative, 66 the most robust Indian would not have ventured to undertake. She traversed the woods at a season when the sky is constantly covered with clouds, and the sun during whole days appears but for a few minutes. Did the course of the waters direct her way ? The inundations of the rivers forced her to go far from the banks of the main stream, through the midst of woods where the movement of the waters is almost imperceptible. How often must she have been stopped by the thorny lianas, that form a network around the trunks they entwine! How often must she have swum across the rivulets, that run into the Atabapo ! This unfortunate woman was asked how she had sustained herself during the four days ! She said, that, exhausted with fatigue, she could find no other nourishment than those great black ants called vachacos, which climb the trees in long bands, to suspend on them their resinous nests. We pressed the missionary to tell us, whether the Guahibi had peacefully enjoyed the happiness of remaining with her children ; and if any repentance had followed this excess of cruelty. He would not satisfy our curiosity ; but at our return from the Rio Negro we learnt, thạt the Indian mother was not allowed time to cure her wounds, but was again separated from her children, and sent to one of the missions of the Upper Oronooko. There she died, refusing all kind of nourishment, as the savages do in great calamities.

Such is the remembrance annexed to this fatal rock, to Piedra de la Madre.


From Moore's Lalla Rookh.

ONE moon a PERI at the gate
Of Eden stood disconsolate;
And as she listen’d to the springs

Of Life within, like music flowing,
And caught the light upon her wings,

Through the half-open portal glowing, She wept to think her recreant race Should ere have lost that glorious place. “ How happy,” exclaim'd this child of air, " Are the holy spirits that wander there,

66 Mid flowers that never shall fade or fall; “ Though mine are the gardens of earth and sea, " And the stars themselves have flowers for me,

“ One blossom of heaven out-blooms them all! “ Though sunny the lake of cool CASHMERE, “ With its plane-tree Isle reflected clear, *

66 And sweetly the founts of that Valley fall ; “ Though bright are the waters of Sing-Su-HAY, " And the golden floods that thitherward stray, t 6. Yet-oh 'tis only the blest can say " How the waters of Heaven outshine them all ! " Go wing thy flight from star to star, “ From world to luminous world, as far

“ As the universe spreads its flaming wall ;
“ Take all the pleasures of all the spheres,
• And multiply each through endless years

66 One minute of Heaven is worth them ail !"
The glorious Angel, who was keeping
The gates of Light, beheld her weeping;
And as he nearer drew, and listened
To her sad song, a tear-drop glisten'd
Within his eyelids, like the spray


From Eden's fountain when it lies

* Numerous small islands emerge from the lake of Cashmere. One is called Char Chengur, from the plane trer's upon it.--Forshr.

"The Altan Kol or Golden River of Tibet, which runs into the Lakes of Sing-su-Hay, has abunda ice of gold in its sands, which employs the inhabitants all the summer in gathering it." Description of Tilxt in Pinkerton.

On the blue flow'r which-Bramins say

Blooms no where but in Paradise ! * “ Nymph of a fair, but erring line !” Gently he said—“ One hope is thine. 66 'Tis written in the book of fate,

66 The Peri yet may be forgiven
" Who brings to this Eternal Gate

66 The gift that is most dear to Heaven!
6 Go, seek it, and redeem thy sin ;
“ 'Tis sweet to let the pardon'd in !”
Rapidly as comet's run
To the embraces of the sun ;-
Fleeter than the starry brands,
Flung at night from angel handst
At those dark and daring sp’rits
Who would climb the empyreal heights,
Down the blue vault the Peri flies,
And lighted earthward by a glance
That just then broke from morning's eyes,
Hung hovering o'er our world's expanse.
But whither shall the spirit go
To find this gift for heav'n ?-I know
6 The wealth,” she cries, “ of every urn,
" In which unnumber'd rubies burn,
“ Beneath the pillars of CHILMINAR ;*
" I know where the Isles of perfume are,
66 Many a fathom down in the sea,
" To the south of bright ARABY ;S
" I know too where the Genii hid
- The jewell'd cup of their King JAMSHID||
66 With Life's elixir sparkling high-
“ But gifts like these are not for the sky.
" Where was there ever a gem that shone
“ Like the steps of ALLA's wonderful throne !
" And the drops of life-oh! what would they be
“ In the boundless Deep of Eternity ?”
While thus she mus'd, her pinions fann'd
The air of that sweet Indian land,
Whose air is balm ; whose ocean spreads
O'er coral rocks and amber beds;
Whose mountains, pregnant by the beam
Of the warm sun, with diamonds teem;

*" The Brahmins of this province insist that the blue Campac flowers only in Paradise."-Sir W. Jones

“ The Mahometans suppose that falling stars are the firebrands wherewith the good angels drive away the bad, when they approach too near the empyreumn or verge of the heavens."--Fryer.

The Forty Pillars ; so the Persians call the ruins of Persepolis. It is imagined by them that this palace and the edifices at Balbec were built by Genii, for the purpose of hiding in their subterraneous caverns immense treasures, which still remain there-D'Herbclot, Voiney.

9 The Isles of Panchaia.

11“ The cup of Jamshid, discovered, they say, when digging for the foundations of Persepolis." Richardson.

Whose rivulets are like rich brides,
Lovely, with gold beneath their tides,
Whose sandal groves and bowers of spice
Might be a Peri's Paradise !
But crimson now her rivers ran

With human bloodthe smell of death Came reeking from those spicy bowers, And man, the sacrifice of man,

Mingled his taint with every breath Upwafted from the innocent flowers ! Land of the Sun ! what foot invades Thy Pagods and thy pillar'd shades, Thy cavern shrines and Idol stones, Thy monarchs and their thousand Thrones ? 'Tis he of GAZNA,*_fierce in wrath

He comes, and India's diadems Lie scatter'd in his ruinous path.

His blood-hounds he adorns with gems, Torn from the violated necks

Of many a young and lov'd Sultana;t-
Maidens within their pure Zenana,

Priests in the very fane he slaughters,
And choaks up with the glittering wrecks

Of golden shrines the sacred waters ! Downward the PERI turns her gaze; And, through the war-field's bloody haze, Beholds a youthful warrior stand,

Alone, beside his native river, The red blade broken in his hand,

And the last arrow in his quiver. “ Live," said the conqueror, “ live to share 6. The trophies and the crowns I bear!” Silent that youthful warrior stoodSilent he pointed to the flood All crimson with his country's blood, Then sent his last remaining dart For answer to th' invader's heart. False flew the shaft, though pointed well ; The Tyrant liv’d, the Hero fell! Yet mark'd the PERI where he lay ;

And when the rush of war was past, Swiftly descending on a ray

Of morning light, she caught the last Last glorious drop his heart had shed, Before its free-born spirit fled !

* Mahmood of Gazna or Ghizni, who conquered India in the beginning of the 11th centuryRalcolm.

" It is reported that the hunting equipage of the Sultan Mahmoud was so magnificent, that he kept 400 grey hounds and blood hounds, each of which wore a collar set with jewels, and a covering edged with gold and pearls.”- Universal History, vol. iii.

« VorigeDoorgaan »