Two days after my return from the city of Ouro Preto, we left the village of San Caetano for Rio de Janeiro, and having travelled in a S.E. direction about two leagues and a half, we halted for the night in a public rancho near a small fazenda. It rained heavily nearly all the way, and there was much thunder; our road was through a hilly country, the hollows only being thickly wooded; in marshy spots I observed some fine large Talauma trees, which are the Magnolias of South America, and whose large blossoms are equally fragrant. The rain continued all night, but towards morning the weather cleared up and allowed us to resume our journey. Besides the mules that were employed to carry my luggage, the tropeiro had many others loaded with coffee, an article which is now cultivated to a considerable extent in the province of Minas. Another journey of three leagues and a half, through a hilly, well-wooded, and rather thickly-inhabited country, brought us to the Arraial do Pinheiro, a small village surrounded by gold washings, which, however, are upon a very small scale. In the rancho, in which we passed the night, there were two large troops, one of which was conveying coffee to Rio, and the other on its way thence with salt for the interior. The woods through which we passed reminded me very much of those on the Organ Mountains, not only from their general appearance, but from the great similarity in the vegetation. Three or four beautiful kinds of tree-ferns, often reaching to the height of from thirty to forty feet, grew in humid shady places; and on the more elevated tracts were seen many large trees of an arboreous Vernonia, upwards of forty feet high, covered with large panicles of white flowers, which, along with the blossoms of a large Myrcia, perfumed the air with their rich odour.
Still following a S.E. direction, we reached the Arraial de Piranga, which is about three leagues distant from the village of Pinheiro; this Arraial, like many others we had passed before, owed its origin to the gold which existed in the soil of this neighbourhood; at one time great quantities were found here, but the workings are now nearly exhausted. The population consists of about 1,200 persons, most of whom are in great poverty; it has a dull and deserted appearance, but at the same time all the indications of former opulence; it contains three churches, and the greater part of the houses are large, and generally of two stories, a mode of construction not very common in the villages of Brazil; many of the inhabitants are now following agricultural pursuits. Our next day’s journey of about four leagues, through a country similar to that we had just left behind, but more thinly-wooded, brought us to a large fazenda, called Filippe Alvez. We were allowed to pass the night in the sugar mill, a large building open nearly all round; the mill was worked by a water-wheel about thirty feet in diameter, which at times was also used to put in motion a machine for pounding Indian corn; the latter, which was at work both by day and night, annoyed us not a little by its noise. Large tracts of land near the house had lately been planted with Indian corn and rice.
From Filippe Alvez, we went on to a small village called the Arraial de San Caetano, the distance being about three leagues. It is a small and miserable place, and although it contains a few shops, I could find no provisions to purchase, excepting farinha made from Indian corn. On this journey, I found a large species of Equisetum, the largest indeed that has yet been seen in the recent state; it grew abundantly in a wooded marsh near the road, and I measured one that was upwards of fifteen feet in height, the lower part of the stem being full three inches in circumference. Although of gigantic size, when compared with the other species existing at present on the earth’s surface, it is far from equalling those enormous remains, which are found in the fossil state in the coal strata, and known to geologists under the name of Calamites; many of these have stems as thick as a man’s body; indeed the difference in size between the recent species of Equisetum, and those which have existed at a former period of the earth’s history, is about as great as between a stem of wheat and the gigantic bamboos of the East Indies and of South America.
We travelled on the following day about three leagues, through a hilly country, which in some places was well wooded, but the greater part of it consisted of large cleared tracts which had formerly been under cultivation, but were now every where covered with the large brake I have before mentioned; this fern is not, however, entirely without use, for the young shoots cut into small pieces and boiled, or stewed with pork, are eaten by the inhabitants, and are said to be not only pleasant to the taste, but wholesome. We took up our quarters for the night in a large open rancho, near a fazenda called Pozo Alegre.
At this place we spent a most miserable night; about midnight we were awakened by a dreadful tempest of thunder, wind, and rain, which came from the westward. The rancho was open all round, and the end that faced the storm was unfortunately that where Mr. Walker and I had slung our hammocks. When I awoke a loud peal of thunder was rolling fearfully right over us; my hammock was swinging to and fro by the force of the wind, which was blowing a hurricane, and we were soon completely drenched by the rain, which fell upon us in streams from the roof. My greatest dread was that the old shed would be blown down upon us, but it fortunately withstood the blast; my collection of botanical specimens suffered very much, as the boxes in which they were packed were arranged in the middle of the floor, and this being considerably lower than the sides, it soon filled with water to the depth of six inches; in consequence of this the parcels in the bottoms of four of the boxes were greatly damaged. The storm lasted for an hour with undiminished force, and as soon as it abated we struck a light, for our fire had been completely extinguished; the water was quickly bailed out of the shed, and the boxes raised from the ground; a fire was kindled with some difficulty, around which we all crowded, for we were all suffering much from the cold; it now became a question how we were to sleep during the remainder of the night, as every thing available for a bed was thoroughly wet. For my own part I arranged some pieces of wood, that had been brought in the evening before for fuel, alongside the fire, and although the bed thus formed was not a very soft one, I contrived to pass the night tolerably well.
The next morning being still cloudy, without any appearance of the sun, I sent to the owner of the rancho to ask permission to dry my plants in the mandiocca stove; and, as he returned word that I might do so, we had everything taken there in a short time. On our arrival at the house, he seemed to have changed his mind, from what cause I know not, for he told me very plainly that we might go somewhere else, as he would not allow us to enter his premises; I have seldom been so much annoyed as I was at this conduct. This man, whose name was Major Domingos Josè de Barros, was about eighty years of age, a Portuguese by birth, and said to be worth upwards of a hundred thousand crusados; he was of a most miserly disposition, as indeed his whole appearance testified, his dress being old and of the coarsest materials.
We went on about half a league further, to a fazenda belonging to a son-in-law of the old miser, who was also a Portuguese, but altogether different in disposition. He immediately gave me accommodation for my luggage, and the sun shining out brightly shortly after our arrival, we lost no time in spreading out the collections that had been wetted the previous night. We were again visited by a thunder-storm in the afternoon, which prevented us from getting more than half of them dried. At this fazenda, where I received much hospitality, I remained the whole of the following day to complete the drying and packing of my collection, and next morning, a journey of about three leagues brought us to the Arraial das Mercês, a village which consists of a single street about a quarter of a mile in length. In a large square in the middle of it, are a few good houses of two stories, and the only church; this last is built of large unburned bricks, and being unplastered, has a very mean appearance when contrasted with the white-washed houses by which it is surrounded. The whole village has a much greater appearance of prosperity than any we had passed on the road from Marianna: the reason is obvious, the non-existence of gold in its vicinity. The country during this day’s journey was still hilly, and covered with virgin forests. We passed several fazendas, the houses of which were very ill-built and dirty, and very different from what I expected to find in this part of Brazil. Near these houses large tracts of forests had lately been cut down and burned, and the ground so cleared planted with Indian corn, which is the staple article of food in the southern, as mandiocca is in the northern provinces.
During the four following days, we accomplished about fourteen leagues, and arrived at Chapeo d’Uva, at which place the road by which he came, called the Caminho do Mato, or forest road, joins that of the ordinary traffic which passes through the city of Barbacena, and the campo district between it and the capital of Minas. Our route, on these journeys, was still through a hilly country, and the roads were extremely bad, passing for the most part through virgin forests, the trees of which, in some places, were very large, consisting principally of different kinds of Cecropia, Vochysia, Copaifera, Laurus, Ficus, Eugenia, Myrcia, and Pleroma. I also observed many kinds of tree-ferns and palms, the most abundant of the latter tribe being the slender cabbage palm (Euterpe edulis, Mart.), several of which we cut down for the sake of the long terminal bud, which when cooked is equal to asparagus in flavour.
At Chapeo d’Uva we slept as usual in a public rancho, and from this place we made a journey of about three leagues, and halted at a large rancho near the village of Entre os Morros. The road was excellent, being part of the new line, then in course of construction, from Rio to Ouro Preto by way of Barbacena. About two leagues and a half from Chapeo d’Uva, we passed the first toll-bar I met with on a highway in Brazil. All animals, whether loaded or unloaded, pay here thirty reis a league, which is the sum also charged for foot passengers. The distance hence to the next toll-bar is ten leagues, and the whole amount has to be paid here for the distance to the next bar, which was then the termination of the finished part of the road. The legislative assembly passed a law, three years prior to this period, authorizing the provincial assembly of Minas Geräes to make new roads through the most populous districts, and a loan was soon afterwards raised, of upwards of £40,000 sterling, to carry this law into execution. These ten leagues that I found completed in the end of the year 1840, were undertaken on the worst part of the Minas road, the country through which it passes being for the most part low and marshy. So great is the traffic on this route, that the amount collected at the toll-bars was at this time sufficient to pay the interest on the loan; and in the course of a few years it was expected that a tolerable cart-road would be completed from Rio de Janeiro to the capital of the Mining district.
Shortly after passing the toll-bar, we crossed the Rio Parahybuna on a temporary bridge, erected until a permanent one for the new road, which was in course of construction, could be finished: the abutments are already substantially built of stone, but the arch was to be of wood. On the banks of the river I found a beautiful species of the genus Petræa, climbing among the branches of the trees; and in a marsh, at a little distance from the stream, a fine species of Franciscea, which grew where the water lay about two feet deep; it was very plentiful, and literally covered with its beautiful purple blossoms. On the third day afterwards, we passed the second toll-bar, and again crossed the Rio Parahybuna, at the place where it divides the province of Minas Geräes from that of Rio de Janeiro. The river is much broader here than at the former place, and there is an excellent bridge over it, consisting of several small arches; the abutments and piers are built with stone, and the arches are of wood; the whole is roofed over to protect the wood-work from the influence of the weather. Shortly after crossing the river we halted for the night at a little hamlet called Paiol. The country on both sides of the river is very hilly, and before we reached Paiol, we crossed a rather high Serra, called the Serra das Abobras, which is composed entirely of gneiss rocks, large blocks of which often render the path difficult to pass over. Before we reached the Parahybuna, the road sides were covered with a beautiful species of Bugenvillea, which being at that season in full flower, was a great ornament to the woods, the large rose-coloured bracts of its flowers rendering it a very conspicuous object.
Our next journey brought us to the Villa de Parahyba, which is situated on the N.W. bank of the river of the same name, which we crossed here in a boat. The mules were not unloaded, but were taken over in a large flat punt, which conveyed about fifteen at a time. A strong iron chain was stretched across the river, at the height of a few feet above the water, to which the punt was attached by a smaller chain with a ring on it, so as to allow it to run from one end to the other, and prevent the boat from being carried down the stream, which runs with considerable force; the punt was then pulled over by a rope, an operation in which three blacks were employed. About four years before I visited this place, a stone bridge had been begun a few hundred yards from the ferry, but the erection of it was going on very slowly; the northern abutment and three piers were all that were then finished. The foundation on which it is built is good, the bed of the river at this place being formed of gneiss rock, the strata of which are nearly vertical. At the ferry, ninety reis (three-pence) were charged for each animal.
Three days after we passed the Rio Parahyba, we arrived at a large fazenda called Padre Correa, the distance between the two places being about seven leagues; the road in many places was very bad, and the country still continued hilly and densely covered with virgin forests.
The fazenda of Padre Correa is situated in a hollow surrounded by bare hills; the building, consisting of the dwelling-house, a small chapel attached to it, the rancho, and a venda, form nearly three sides of a large square, in the centre of which stands a very large tree, a species of wild fig, which a little above the root divides into two stems of nearly equal size. On a height to the east of the fazenda, are seen two large rows of the Brazilian pines, which add much to the beauty of the place; a small river called the Piabanha, that passes near it, falls into the Parahyba. An extensive manufactory of horse-shoes, and such iron implements as are used in the country, is carried on at this place. Our next journey brought me once more in sight of the sea. The road between Padre Correa and the pass of the Serra d’Estrella, which is a continuation of the Organ mountains, was then under repair; the workmen were Germans, who lived in a small village by themselves: we also passed through a small miserable village called Corrego Seco. The country very much resembles that I have elsewhere described, between the Organ mountains and the Swiss colony of Novo Friburgo, being very hilly and covered with magnificent virgin forests. From the top of the pass, there is a fine view of the country around Rio de Janeiro, and of the bay with its numerous verdant islands. On reaching this spot, I stood for a long time admiring the scene of my first labours in Brazil. My feelings, on looking down on the magnificent view before me, were such as would be experienced after returning to my native country, for everything brought to my recollection the remembrance of past times, and of kind friends; the Sugar Loaf, the Corcovado, the Gavea, and the Peak of Tijuca, were rearing high their cloudless summits, as if to welcome me back to a place of civilization.
The most elevated part of this pass is about 3,000 feet above the level of the sea; the descent of the Serra, from its zigzag nature, is about a league in length; it is well constructed, being paved with large blocks of stone, and is kept in excellent repair; as it was rather steep in some places, and the road was good, I preferred walking down it to riding. A little beyond the foot of the Serra we passed Mandiocca, the estate which formerly belonged to M. Langsdorff, the late Russian consul-general in Brazil, and celebrated traveller: it now belongs to the government, and has been converted into a gunpowder manufactory. The Estrella pass is much better than that of the Organ mountains, but by the latter the journey to Minas is shortened by about sixteen leagues. A little way beyond Mandiocca we halted at a large rancho, whence, after having arranged the collections that had been made on the journey, I started alone for the Porto d’Estrella, with the intention of embarking there in the evening for Rio de Janeiro, so as to have a place prepared for the reception of my luggage, previous to its arrival. The distance I had to ride was about three leagues, through a flat, generally marshy country, quite like that between Piedade and the beginning of the ascent to Mr. March’s estate.
It was late in the afternoon when I arrived at the village of Porto d’Estrella, and as boats can only start for the city after the sea breeze has ceased to blow, I found that I had arrived much too early, and not having yet dined, I looked out for a place where I could procure something to eat. On enquiring of the lad at the venda from whence the boats start, I was told they were in the habit of preparing repasts for travellers, and that if I wished him to do so, he would provide a dinner for me. After waiting with no little patience for upwards of two hours, I was at last shown into a small dirty back-room, when a dish of fish fried in oil, and Perão, a kind of thick paste prepared from mandiocca flour, were set before me; but everything was so dirty, that very little sufficed to satisfy my appetite.
Nearly all the goods to be conveyed into the interior, are shipped at Rio, in large boats called Faluas, and landed at this village, the packages being all of the same weight, so that they may counterbalance each other, when put upon the backs of the mules that are destined to carry them inland; there is therefore much activity here, as a day never passes without the arrival and departure of several large troops. The chief articles brought to this place from the interior, are coffee, cheese, bacon, quince marmalade, &c. The village is a long, dirty, straggling place, with few inducements to detain the traveller. About seven o’clock in the evening I was informed that the boat I had hired was ready to sail, but I had no sooner got on board, than a heavy thunder-storm came down from the mountains, and put off our starting for an hour. The village is a mile distant from the sea, being built on the banks of a small river called the Inhomerim; and so slow was our progress that it was eleven o’clock before we reached its confluence with the bay. At this point a very good inn exists, which, as I experienced on another occasion, affords very good accommodation. As the land-breeze was very faint, the boat had to be rowed nearly all the way, and on this account it was about four o’clock in the morning before we reached the city. Not wishing to disturb any of my friends at so early an hour, I remained in the boat till six o’clock, when I went to the house of Messrs. William Harrison and Co., and received from my old friends there a kind and hearty welcome back to Rio de Janeiro, after an absence of more than three years.
Two days afterwards (on the 2nd of November, 1840), Mr. Walker arrived with all my luggage in good condition. Knowing from former experience how ill-suited either an hotel or a boarding-house is for a naturalist to carry on his operations in, I determined to hire a small house; and in the district called Catumby, which is in the immediate vicinity of the city, I found one that in every respect answered my purpose. Having furnished it economically, I had my collections removed thither, and as they amounted to about 3,000 species, including upwards of 60,000 specimens in Botany alone, it took me about three months to classify and properly pack them, previous to their being sent to England.
During this residence in Rio, my time passed away very pleasantly, the agreeable society which I mingled with, making sufficient amends for the solitude and privations of the three preceding years. The days were generally devoted to my collections, and the evenings were spent with the families of some one or other of the many resident English merchants. I had also the pleasure at this time of making the acquaintance of Dr. Ildefonso Gomez, a talented Brazilian physician, who, when a young man, accompanied M. Auguste de St. Hilaire on his first journey to the mining districts. His house, which is in the country, and only a mile from my residence, was always open to me, as it ever has been to all scientific men who have visited Rio. I likewise spent many agreeable hours with my near neighbour M. Riedel, the Russian botanist, and companion of M. Langsdorff in his journey through the interior of Brazil, and we made several excursions together to the woods in pursuit of objects connected with our favourite science.
As soon as my labours in Rio were brought to a conclusion, I resolved to make another journey to the Organ mountains, being desirous of devoting more time to the investigation of the botany of the higher regions of that chain than I had been able to do during my former residence there. For this purpose I left Rio on the 12th of March, 1841, and during the following month occupied myself in making excursions on Mr. March’s estate. The weather was too variable to think of making a journey to the top of the Serra, but by the beginning of April it became more settled; and having been joined by Mr. George Hockin, a gentleman from the house of Messrs. Harrison and Co., who had frequently accompanied me in my previous excursions in the neighbourhood of Rio, preparations were made for ascending the mountains on the 9th. We left the fazenda about 8 o’clock a.m., taking with us three blacks, besides my own servant; my old guide, Pai Filippe, was now too infirm to undertake such a journey, but his place was filled by one of his sons. Following the path I had made four years before, we reached, about four o’clock, the highest point I had attained on my former visit, and at this place, under the ledge of a rock, we slept for the night; this being a very convenient and well sheltered spot, we decided to make it our head-quarters during the few days we remained in the mountains.
Besides specimens of nearly all the plants which I found on my previous journey, I collected on the ascent many that were new to me; two of the most remarkable of these were a kind of Fuchsia (F. alpestris, Gardn.), and a very extraordinary species of Utricularia; the latter, to which I have given the name of U. nelumbifolia, has since been published in Hooker’s Icones Plantarum, where a very excellent figure of it is given. Like most of its congeners, it is aquatic; but what is most curious, is that it is only to be found growing in the water which collects in the bottom of the leaves of a large Tillandsia, that inhabits abundantly an arid rocky part of the mountain, at an elevation of about 5,000 feet above the level of the sea. Besides the ordinary method by seed, it propagates itself by runners, which it throws out from the base of the flower stem. This runner is always found directing itself towards the nearest Tillandsia, when it inserts its point into the water, and gives origin to a new plant, which in its turn sends out another shoot; in this manner I have seen not less than six plants united. The leaves, which are peltate, measure upwards of three inches across; and the flowering stem, which is upwards of two feet long, bears numerous large purple flowers.
On the following morning, after an early breakfast, we set out to ascend that part of the Serra which appears from the fazenda house to be the highest. This peak, which I had been prevented from ascending in 1837, was reached in the following year by the Rev. Mr. Maister, who was then the English clergyman at Rio; and again about six weeks before our visit, by Mr. Lobb, an English gardener, who had been sent out by a nurseryman to collect seeds and living plants: we thus found a path ready made for us. This part of the mountain is about 600 feet higher than the spot we had chosen for our bivouac. Starting then from this place, we made a descent into a wooded ravine in which the ground was covered by the beautiful Alstrœmeria nemorosa, and many delicate ferns, while the branches of the Melastomaceæ, and other trees and shrubs, were festooned with the climbing Fuchsia, brilliant with its scarlet blossoms. Then ascending for some time, through a well wooded tract, we entered upon a steeper portion of the mountain, overspread with beautiful flowering shrubs, among which were several fine Melastomaceæ, fruticose Compositæ, a Gualtheria, some species of Vaccinium, and a handsome new Escallonia (E. Organensis, Gardn.), bearing a profusion of rose-coloured blossoms. The summit of this peak we found to consist of several enormous loose blocks of granite, covered with Lichens, small species of Orchideæ, Gesnereæ, and where there was any accumulation of soil, a large-flowered Amaryllis (Hippeastrum Organensis), now common in English hot-houses; the climbing Fuchsia in a dwarf procumbent state was also found here. Upon reaching the summit, we erected a pole and flag in order to give notice to our friends below that we had got up in safety; and immediately afterwards, by the aid of a glass, we saw it answered by another from one of the English cottages near the fazenda. The day was beautifully clear, and we had a splendid view of the surrounding country. On looking to the westward, however, it was evident that we were not on the most elevated point of the range, as we observed, about a mile distant, a broadly rounded peak considerably higher; and we accordingly determined to ascend it on the following day. I here met with two very interesting plants, one a beautiful tree-fern, which proved to be the Hemitelia Capensis, a native of the Cape of Good Hope, which is a remarkable fact in the geographical distribution of plants, as tree-ferns have a very limited range; the other was a very handsome herbaceous plant, about four feet high, with a woolly stem, and large leaves, not unlike those of a Verbascum, exhibiting large panicles of orange coloured flowers; it belonged to the natural order Compositæ, and as it proved to be a new genus, I named it after my late lamented friend, J. E. Bowman, Esq., of Manchester.
Early on the following day, we started to ascend the loftiest peak of the mountain before noticed, and found it to be a more fatiguing journey than that of the previous day, in consequence of having to cut our way through two or three wooded tracts, of considerable breadth; the paths of the tapir, however, frequently facilitated our progress. Very shortly after we started, we were agreeably surprised to find, in the lower part of the valley we had to cross, a beautiful little stream of cool and limpid water, descending from the more elevated parts of the mountain, and flowing towards the east; in many places there were pools considerably broader and deeper than the general course of the stream, which, judging from the paths leading into them, had been formed by the tapirs that inhabit this portion of the mountain, where they can enjoy, undisturbed, their favourite luxury of cold bathing. This valley is somewhat less than a quarter of a mile square, and is covered on both sides of the stream, but particularly on the west, with virgin forests, the trees of which are of considerable size, one of the largest being a species of Weinmannia. The soil appears to be of excellent quality, there being a good depth of alluvial matter; indeed, in no part of Brazil have I seen a spot where a person, desirous of excluding himself from the world, could find a retreat, at once so healthy, beautiful, and fertile, as this; here all kinds of European fruits and vegetables might be cultivated in the greatest perfection; and the stream, besides furnishing a constant supply of the most delicious water, might likewise be made to work a small mill. Passing over a hill that bounds the western side of this valley, we came upon an open flat marshy tract, the greater part of which is covered with a tall grass, about five feet high, growing in tufts. Leaving this we entered another wooded spot, formed of trees of a much smaller size than those before observed, and passed through it along the tracks of the tapir, where I was rather surprised to observe that while the stem and branches of almost every tree were covered with the beautiful little Sophronitis grandiflora, no other orchideous plant was to be seen; beyond this, we met with no more wood; the vegetation consisting of various herbaceous plants, and a few stunted shrubs. From the wooded region, the summit of the mountain is gained by a steep acclivity, on one side of which is a broad ravine, full of immense blocks of granite.
The summit of this peak we found to be very different from that we visited the day before, consisting of one great mass of granite, flat on its surface, and of considerable extent; the rock is for the most part bare, but some portions of the western side were covered with a vegetation of stunted shrubs, and herbaceous plants; among the latter, the most abundant was the pretty Prepusa Hookeriana, the large inflated calyces of which resemble those of some species of catchfly; on the very summit, were seen many little excavations in the rock, full of excellent water, and had we been aware of this, it would have saved us the trouble of carrying with us a supply in bottles. The day was very fine, but a broad belt of clouds that spread around the mountain below us, prevented us from enjoying the extensive view on which we had fully calculated. At mid-day, the thermometer indicated a temperature of 64°, in the shade, and I found that water boiled at a heat of 198°, from which I estimate the height of the mountain above the level of the sea to be 7,800 feet. A register of the thermometer, kept during our stay on the upper regions of the Serra, and observed on the level of Mr. March’s fazenda, gave a mean difference of temperature between the two places, of 12° 5´. Baron Humboldt estimates the mean decrement of heat within the tropics, at 1° for every 344 feet of elevation, and considers this ratio as uniform up to the height of 8,000 feet, beyond which it is reduced to three-fifths of that quantity, as far as the elevation of 20,000 feet; it has, however, been since found, that in general the effect of elevation above the level of the sea in diminishing temperature, is, in all latitudes, nearly in proportion to the height, the decrement being 1° of heat for every 352 feet of altitude; this would give 4,400 feet for the elevation of the highest peak of the Organ mountains, above Mr. March’s fazenda, and as this is 3,100 feet above the level of the sea, we have for the total greatest elevation, 7,500 feet. We returned to our former resting-place in the evening, well pleased with our day’s excursion.
On the morning of the 12th, at 6 o’clock, the thermometer indicated 44°, the weather being very clear, and accompanied with a sharp breeze from the westward. On climbing to the top of the rock under which we had slept, one of the most magnificent views I have ever seen presented itself. Towards Rio de Janeiro the immense bay, and all the country intervening between it and the mountain, were hidden from us, by a mass of snow-white clouds, spread out, apparently, about 3,000 feet below the point where we stood; shortly after sunrise, this space appeared like a vast ocean covered with foam, the resemblance being increased by the tops of the lower mountains rising through them, like islands; in the opposite direction, the valley in which Mr. March’s fazenda stands was also obscured, in a similar manner, by clouds, giving it the appearance of an extensive lake, surrounded on all sides by mountains; but as the sun gained power, these clouds gradually dispersed.
After breakfast, Mr. Hockin started again to visit the highest peak, for the purpose of making a panoramic sketch from its summit, but did not succeed, owing to the cloudy state of the atmosphere that surrounded it; I did not accompany him, as I preferred making a few lateral excursions in the vicinity of our encampment. Late in the evening we observed a phenomenon, often witnessed on the tops of mountains; large masses of clouds, in a continued stream, came rolling from the westward over the tops of the peaks, but no sooner had they reached the upper part of the valley opposite our hut, than they disappeared, the vapour being dissolved by the higher temperature of the air that existed on the opposite side of the mountain; it is in this manner that a mass of clouds is often seen as if resting on a high peak, even when a strong breeze is blowing. On the morning of the 13th we bade adieu to our rocky dwelling, and slept that night in a little hut we erected in a grove of small palms and tree-ferns, by the side of a small stream, the sides of which were fringed with beautiful herbaceous ferns. On the following afternoon we reached the fazenda, after an absence of six days.
In order to gratify my desire of examining the virgin forests which exist on the banks of the Rio Parahyba, I determined to make a hurried visit there previous to my return to Rio de Janeiro. The Parahyba forms the boundary between the provinces of Rio and Minas Geräes, but only after it has been joined by the Parahybuna. On this expedition I was again accompanied by Mr. Hockin, and was glad to have so excellent a companion. We left the fazenda on the 24th of March, and after a journey of seven leagues, arrived at a farm called Serra do Capim. We followed a new road, which was in progress of construction under the superintendence of Col. Leite, a wealthy planter, leading from Piedade, over the Organ mountains, towards Minas Geräes, but it was then in a barely passable condition. By far the greater part of the country through which we travelled was in a state of nature, being covered with virgin forests, abounding in tree-ferns and palms.
The fazenda where we rested belonged to a gentleman residing in Rio, but the letter I carried to the manager of the farm procured us a hearty reception; corn was immediately ordered for our mules, and we were shortly regaled with an excellent supper. We found our host to be a kind and intelligent old man, who informed me that he had followed the profession of apothecary for many years in Minas; like most of the fazendeiros in Brazil, he acts as physician to the hospital of this estate, so that he was glad of an opportunity of consulting me on most of the cases under his charge. Next morning he would not allow us to depart till after breakfast.
On leaving this place we soon passed through some of the finest forests I had yet seen in the province, and in the afternoon arrived at a large coffee plantation, called Monte Caffé, the distance being about seven leagues. This fazenda belonged to a Brazilian called Brigadeiro Ignacio Gabriel, to whom I had also letters of recommendation. Although we did not find him at home, we were most kindly welcomed to the estate by his lady, and Mr. Hadley, his chief manager, who is an Englishman, and whom I had formerly met at Mr. March’s, during my stay there in 1837. The estate was at this time only in its infancy, but it was considered to be one of the finest in the district, and although the trees were young, it was expected that they would this year yield 12,000 arrobas of coffee, of 32lbs. each. At the period of our visit, the berries were just beginning to colour, and the branches were bent down with the weight of their produce. The country here consists of low hills, upon which the plantations are formed; these hills had previously been covered with forest. There were about 200 slaves on the estate, 70 of whom only were employed as field-labourers, the others being occupied at various trades, such as cabinet-makers, carpenters, masons, blacksmiths, &c. A few days previous to our arrival, about twenty young negro boys, recently imported, were brought up from Rio; they appeared to be between ten and fifteen years of age, and none could yet speak Portuguese. They were all active, healthy little fellows, running about laughing, playing, and seemingly happy and unconscious of the circumstances in which they were placed. In justice, however, to the Brazilians, I must say of them, after an experience of five years, that they are far from being hard task-masters, and that with very few exceptions, I found them kind and considerate to their slaves. The Brigadier had lately erected an excellent saw-mill, which was driven by water-power, and he was then erecting a large stove for the purpose of drying coffee by artificial heat. The superintendence of this work was undertaken by a German, who had resided for many years in the island of Java.
On the morning of the 28th we left Monte Caffé, and proceeded on our way to the Rio Parahyba, which was only about a league and a half distant. Mr. Hadley accompanied us for about a league, and while passing through a small estate called Santa Eliza, which adjoins Monte Caffé, and belongs also to the Brigadier, he informed us that about twenty years before, it was owned by a person who made use of the house as a decoy for travellers to and from Minas Geräes, and who, as soon as they fell into his snares, were robbed and murdered. His house is still standing, but is now uninhabited; the trap-doors which he employed for these diabolical purposes are still to be seen in the floor. We shortly afterwards came in sight of the river, and reached the banks at a place where the stream rushes with great force through a narrow, rocky channel. We expected to have been able to pass it here, but were told that we could not do so for want of a canoe, and were advised to go a league and a half further up to a place called Sapucaya, which we accordingly did. The road for nearly the whole distance runs parallel with the river, through a most magnificent forest, the trees being of great size, and in general with very straight stems, often rising unbranched to a height of upwards of one hundred feet.
In riding along I could not help feeling deep regret, that in these regions many square leagues of such forests were being cut down and burned, in order to make room for plantations of coffee. There are no means of conveying this fine timber to the coast, as the river, although of considerable flow, is not navigable for rafts, owing to its many rocky rapids. At this place, I observed the bed of the stream to be formed of thin strata of Gneiss rocks, cropping out vertically, and like the course of the river running from west to east.
Sapucaya is a small hamlet, consisting of a few houses of very recent construction, which owe their origin to their proximity to a new bridge, at this time in process of erection across the river, in connexion with Colonel Leite’s new road to the province of Minas Geräes. We here found a canoe, suited only for foot passengers; horsemen, we were told, seldom came this way at this season, owing to the swollen state of the stream, and the rapidity of its current rendering it dangerous to swim horses across. We were consequently advised to go another league and a half farther up the river, to a place called Porto d’Anta. At Sapucaya we gave our mules a feed of Indian corn, but we could find no refreshment for ourselves, excepting a few bananas and a little farinha de mandiocca, upon which we made our dinners. On the stems of the trees in the forest, I met with many fine orchideous plants, one of the most abundant, and certainly the most beautiful, being the Cattleya labiata. The country between Sapucaya and Porto d’Anta, which we reached about dusk, was somewhat similar to that observed lower down the river, but not so well wooded. At this place we were at length enabled to cross the river, there being a regular ferry-boat established for horses, consisting of three large canoes lashed together, planked over, and railed round. The river here was about the breadth of the Clyde at Erskine Ferry, but the current was much more rapid. The Barca, as the ferry-boat is called, was rowed across, but, in consequence of the current, the boatmen were first obliged to ascend the river a considerable way before they began to cross. We found a very good venda on the opposite side of the stream, where we put up for the night, and where we had in a short time a very excellent supper, and were provided with tolerable beds.
Next morning after breakfast, we went on to a fazenda, called Barra de Louriçal, belonging to Colonel Custodio Leite, whom I have before alluded to, as superintending the construction of the new road, and whom I had frequently met at Mr. March’s during my former stay there; this place is about a league and a half distant from Porto D’Anta, and we had again to descend along the banks of the river about a league, by a very romantic road that leads through a fine forest abounding in objects of great interest to the botanist, as well as the zoologist; we observed numerous monkeys passing along the branches of trees over our heads, particularly a large black howler (Mycetes), the females of which were carrying their young upon their backs. We then struck off to the north, and reached the fazenda early in the forenoon; we did not find the Colonel at home, but one of his sons received us very kindly. This is a very fine estate yielding annually about 10,000 arrobas of coffee. On the following day we went to pay a visit to Captain Francisco Leite, a brother of the Colonel, whose fazenda is about a league and a half farther north. We were fortunate enough to find him at home, when he showed us all that was worth seeing on his estate; he is a tall thin man, and although considerably advanced in years, is of a most active and lively disposition. He informed me he was a native of the mining districts, and began his career as a simple gold-washer, having been fortunate enough to acquire a little money, he left that occupation and purchased this estate, about twenty years before our visit, at a time when it was entirely covered with forest. He is now one of the most wealthy, if not the wealthiest individual in this part of the country; the cultivation of coffee having enriched most of the inhabitants of this fertile region. His estate yields him about 11,000 arrobas of coffee; and also a considerable quantity of cheese, sugar, and rum, which are chiefly sent to market in Rio de Janeiro. He was very desirous we should remain all night, but we were obliged to refuse his hospitality, having promised to return to the house of the Colonel, with the intention of resuming our journey early on the following day.
On the morning of the 31st we left Colonel Leite, and in the evening reached Porto da Cunha, which is six leagues further down the river; we had to travel more than eight leagues, having mistaken our road. Some parts of the country through which we travelled were very romantic, particularly by the side of the river, the banks of which were often rocky and well-wooded; the forests are, indeed, the most magnificent that it is possible to imagine. We passed a few small houses belonging chiefly to coloured people, but it was only towards the termination of our journey that we saw one or two large coffee plantations. About three o’clock in the afternoon, while we were passing through a very dense tract of forest country, we came upon a place about three or four acres in extent, that seemed to have been lately cleared, with a small house formed of stakes and palm leaves, standing in the centre. On arriving at the house, we found it belonged to an Indian family, consisting of a man, his wife, and four children. They were just collecting their crop of Indian corn, a good feed of which was readily obtained for our animals, but we could procure nothing eatable for ourselves. At some distance beyond this place, I found, in a rather open part of the forest, a beautiful arboreous species of Bugenvillea, quite distinct from any yet described; it forms a tree from twenty to forty feet high, with a stem more than two feet in circumference; unfortunately I lost all the specimens I collected, through the carelessness of my servant. In the deep forests, I found many different orchideous plants upon the stems of the trees, among which was the rare and beautiful Huntleya meleagris.
It was quite dark when we reached Porta da Cunha, where we could find no place of accommodation; we were first referred to a venda a little way further down the river, but on arriving there, we found it to be a new house in an unfinished state, and not yet inhabited, so that it offered no accommodation for man or beast. From this place we were directed to a small village about half a league still further down the river, called San José, but at the same time we were informed, that about half way to the village, we should see a small fazenda belonging to an elderly widow, who sometimes gave shelter to travellers; we accordingly made application at this place, and were received for the night. The house had certainly a very miserable appearance, but we were glad to find any sort of quarters. The old lady, whose name was Dona Custodia, was, however, rather suspicious of us, perhaps from our arriving at so late an hour, for looking over the balcony, she asked us why we did not go to different houses she mentioned; but, on replying that we were strangers, and had no acquaintance with those individuals, she then told us to dismount. Corn was immediately ordered for our animals, and in a short time supper was sent to us, consisting of a little fried salt beef, and several dishes prepared from the Indian corn meal, which though a very poor substitute for a meal, afforded us, as we were hungry, a hearty dinner and supper at the same time. Shortly afterwards, we were shown into our bed-room, a little closet with two camp bedsteads in it, on one of which a miserable black man was sitting, who also appeared to be a traveller; the other we were told was at our disposal, and we had no alternative but to make use of it; a hide was spread on the floor for the servant, and in this small room, which was scarcely large enough for two persons, four of us had to pass the night. To crown all, the roof was so bad that we might have studied astronomy through it; and the window, which was not glazed, and without a shutter, looked into a pig-sty, by the inmates of which we were aroused early in the morning. If, however, the accommodation was bad, the charge made for it next morning was but a mere trifle, amounting only to one shilling and eight pence in all, including, besides, a cup of coffee in the morning, and another feed of corn to the mules. I gave her about double the sum, with many thanks besides for her kindness, with which she was not a little pleased. She had once, she told us, been in better circumstances, in the mining district, but had lost her money in some unfortunate mining speculations, and had come down to this place with her son, to endeavour to gain a livelihood by making sugar and rum, which they dispose of chiefly in the adjoining village.
From Dona Custodia’s, we went on to the Arraial de San José, in the hope of getting a comfortable breakfast, but in this we were disappointed, as nothing was to be had there. We then returned to the Porto da Cunha, where we were equally unsuccessful, but were informed that a breakfast might be had at a venda on the opposite side of the river. There is a ferry at this place, which is in the hands of the provincial government of Minas Geräes, and a sergeant is stationed here, who levies the passage money, as well as the duties payable on such articles as are sent out of the province; as it was our original intention to re-cross the river at this place, we lost no time in accomplishing it, the conveyance being exactly the same as that at Porto d’Anta. When we went up to the venda, we found, to our astonishment, that they could give us nothing to eat; but the lad who kept the venda, and who was a most uncivil wretch, at last told us that he had some salt fish and rusks, which we might purchase, but that he would not cook the fish for us; this, however, we contrived to do ourselves, at a fire which our servant kindled outside.
Leaving Porto da Cunha, we went out in an easterly direction, it being our intention to visit a small town, called Cantagallo, which at one time was a famous place for gold washing. Very shortly after we started, we passed through a large coffee estate belonging to the celebrated Brazilian deputy, Carneiro Leão, and about a league further on, came upon the Rio Paquequer grande, down the south banks of which we went a considerable way through some fine forests. Towards dusk, while we were pushing on without knowing where we might find quarters for the night, we met a young man who had been out hunting, and by him we were informed that there was a fazenda only a little further on to which he belonged, where no doubt we should be welcome to spend the night. We also learned from him that we were not on the right road to Cantagallo, although it would take us to it, but by a worse and more circuitous route. Arrived at the fazenda, we were shown into a well furnished apartment, and immediately after, the owner came to bid us welcome. Learning that we came from Mr. March’s fazenda, he came up, shook me by the hand, when I recognised him to be a Dr. Saporiti, who about a month before stopped a night at Mr. March’s, on his way from the city: he expressed himself greatly delighted to see us, ordered coffee, and told us we should shortly have supper. In the mean time, he introduced us to his lady, whom we found to be more refined in her manners than the generality of the wives of fazendeiros, no doubt from her having resided many years in Rio de Janeiro. The young man who conducted us to his house, we found to be her son by a former husband. Dr. Saporiti is an Italian by birth, but had been upwards of twenty years in Brazil. About ten o’clock we sat down to an excellent supper, and altogether the evening passed away most agreeably, from the enlivening conversation of our host and hostess, the latter in particular amusing us with the pictures which she drew of rustic life in the distant province of Mato Grosso, of which she is a native. Next morning breakfast was prepared early on our account, as we wished to start in good time.
Owing to the bad state of the roads, it was six o’clock in the evening before we reached Cantagallo, though the distance was only four leagues; the country is thickly wooded, and in general rather level. On the descent of a high hill, we passed through a large coffee plantation which had been abandoned, in consequence of the cold being too great to allow the berries to come to perfection. Between this, however, and Cantagallo, we saw some very extensive plantations, both the soil and climate being admirably adapted for the growth of the coffee plant.
The villa of Cantagallo is situated in a narrow valley, bounded on each side by rather high hills; it consists principally of one long street, and a large square, of which only two sides are completed; the houses are mostly well built, and on the whole it has a neat and clean appearance. Formerly there were many gold washings in the neighbourhood, but now scarcely any one occupies himself in searching for this metal. The great article of produce is coffee, with which immense tracts are planted: it is conveyed by mules to the head of the bay, and then shipped for Rio.
We took up our quarters at an inn kept by a Frenchman, a man of immense size, and well advanced in years, who informed us that in his youth he belonged to the body-guard of Napoleon. On the second morning after our arrival we resumed our journey, and at nine o’clock p.m., reached the Swiss colony of Novo Friburgo, about eight leagues distant. The first part of the journey leads through a level country which is well cultivated, but the road afterwards becomes very mountainous, particularly during the last two leagues, through a wild and romantic deep pass; though it was late before we reached the end of our journey, the brilliant moonlight enabled us to admire some of the beauties of the scenery.
The town of Novo Friburgo, called also Morro Queimade, is built in the form of a square, with the houses nearly all of one story; it is inhabited principally by natives of Switzerland, who emigrated to Brazil many years ago; several Brazilian families also reside here. About a mile to the west there is a small village in which the Protestant part of the settlers live. The greater number of the colonists, however, are scattered in the country for several miles round. They are very poor, having been placed by the Brazilian government in one of the worst possible places for the exertion of their industry, the situation being elevated more than 3,000 feet above the level of the sea, with a bad soil, and a climate quite unfitted for the cultivation of either coffee or sugar. Their principal crops are Indian corn, and a few European vegetables; they also make a little butter. The climate being very agreeable during the summer months, many families, both foreign and Brazilian, come here to escape the great heat of the city. The mountain scenery around is very fine, but is far from equalling that of the Organ mountains. There is a good inn in the town kept by a Swiss, where we put up during our short stay.
We left Novo Friburgo on the 6th of April, and returned to the Organ mountains. Passing in a westerly direction through a hilly, wooded country, we arrived in the afternoon at a small house situated in a valley by the side of a little stream, where we were glad to take up our quarters for the night, as it had rained heavily from about midnight: we could get nothing for our dinner but a few boiled cabbage leaves and rice. A short time before we arrived at this place, we passed through a dense forest of large trees, on the stems and branches of which grew immense quantities of the beautiful Gesneria bulbosa, the large panicles of which, consisting of numerous brilliant scarlet flowers, hung down over our heads in the path. Orchideous plants were also abundant; one of the finest of which, the Oncidium Forbesii, was in flower. On the following night we slept at a small estate belonging to Admiral Taylor, an Englishman, who has been long in the Brazilian service, whom I knew well, but we did not find him at home; and in the afternoon of the next day, after a ride of about three leagues, we arrived at Mr. March’s fazenda.
Notwithstanding that this visit to the Organ mountains was made at the same season as my previous one, the variety of the vegetation is so great, that I added to my collection several hundred plants I had not formerly met with. My general health, which had suffered a good deal from the fatigues of my long journey in the interior, and by pretty close confinement for three months in Rio during the hot season, improved wonderfully by my sojourn on the mountains. There were not so many English families here at this time as there were in 1837, and there was consequently less gaiety; but most of my leisure hours were spent agreeably at one or other of the cottages.