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the destruction of the capital. The 26th of March was a remarkably hot day. The air was calm, and the sky unclouded. It was Holy Thursday, and a great part of the population was assembled in the churches. Nothing seemed to presage the calamities of the day. At seven minutes after four in the afternoon the first shock was felt; it was sufficiently powerful to make the bells of the churches toll; it asted or six seconds, during which time, the ground was in a continual undulating movement, and seemed to heave up like a boiling liquid. The danger was thought to be past, when a tremendous subterraneous noise was heard, resembling the rolling of thunder, but louder, and of longer continuance, than that heard within the tropics in time of storms. This noise preceded a perpendicular motion of three or four seconds, followed by an undulatory movement somewhat longer. The shocks were in opposite directions, from north to south, and from east to west. Nothing could resist the movement from beneath upward, and undulations crossing each other. The town of Caraccas was entirely overthrown. Thousands of the inhabitants (between nine and ten thousand) were buried under the ruins of the houses and churches. The procession had not yet set out; but the crowd was so great in the churches, that nearly three or four thousand persons were crushed by the fall of their vaulted roofs. The explosion was stronger toward the north, in that part of the town situate nearest the mountain of Avila, and the Silla. The churches of la Trinidad and Alta Gracia, which were more than one hundred and fifty feet high, and the naves of which were supported by pillars of twelve or fifteen feet diameter, left a mass of ruins scarcely exceeding five or six feet in elevation. The sinking of the ruins has been so considerable, that there now scarcely remain any vestiges of pillars or columns. The barracks, called El Quartel de San Carlos, situate farther north of the church of the Trinity, on the road from the Custom-house de la Pastora, almost entirely disappeared. A regiment of troops of the line, that was assembled under arms, ready to join the procession, was, with the exception of a few men, buried under the ruins of this great edifice. Nine tenths of the fine town of Caraccas were entirely destroyed. The walls of the houses that were not thrown down, as those of the street San Juan, near the Capuchin Hospital, were cracked in such a manner, that it was impossible to run the risk of inhabiting them. The effects of the earthquake were somewhat less violent in the western and southern parts of the city, between the principal square and the ravin of Caraguata. There, the cathedral, supported by enormous buttresses, remains standing.
Estimating at nine or ten thousand the number of the dead in the city of Caraccas, we do not include those unhappy persons, who, dangerously wounded, perished several months after, for want of food and proper care. The night of Holy Thursday presented the most distressing scene of desolation and sorrow. That thick cloud of dust, which, rising above the ruins, darkened the sky like a fog, had settled on the ground. No shock was selt, and never was a night more calm, or more serene. The moon, nearly full, illuinined the rounded domes of the Silla, and
the aspect of the sky formed a perfect contrast to that of the earth, covered with the dead, and heaped with ruins. Mothers were seen bearing in their arms their children, whom they hoped to recal to life. Desolate families wandered through the city seeking a brother, a husband, a friend, of, whose fate they were ignorant, and whom they believed to be lost in the crowd. The people pressed along the streets, which could no more be recognized but by long lives of ruins.
'All the calamities experienced in the great catastrophes of Lisbon, Messina, Lima, and Riobamba were renewed on the fatal day of the 26th of March, 1812. The wounded, buried under the ruins, inplored by their cries the help of the passers by, and nearly two thousand were dug out. Never was pity displayed in a more affecting manner; never had it been seen more ingeniously active, than in the efforts employed to save the miserable victims, whose groans reached the ear.' Implements for digging, and clearing away the ruins were entirely wanting; and the people were obliged to use their bare hands, to disinter the living. The wounded, as well as the sick who had escaped from the hospitals, were laid on the banks of the small river Guayra. They found no shelter but the foliage of trees. Beds, linen to dress the wounds, instruments of surgery, medicines, and objects of the most urgent necessity, were buried under the ruins. Every thing, even food, was wanting during the first days. Water became alike scarce in the interior of the city. The commotion had rent the pipes of the fountains; the falling in of the earth had choaked up
the springs that supplied them; and it became necessary, in order to have water, to go down to the river Guayra, which was considerably swelled; and then vessels to convey the water were wanting.
• There remained a duty to be fulfilled toward the dead, enjoined at once by piety, and the dread of infection. It being impossible to inter so many thousand corpses, half-buried under the ruins, commissaries were appointed to burn the bodies: and for this purpose funeral piles were erected between the heaps of ruins. This ceremony lasted several days. Amid so many public calamities, the people devoted themselves to those religious duties, which they thought were the most fitted to appease the wrath of Heaven. Some, assembling in processions, sang funeral hymns; others, in a state of distraction, confessed themselves aloud in the streets. In this town was now repeated what had been remarked in the province of Quito, after the tremendous earthquake of 1797 ; a number of marriages were contracted between persons, who had neglected for many years to sanction their union by the sacerdotal benediction. Children found parents, by whom they had never till then been acknowledged; restitutions were promised by persons, who had never been accused of fraud; and families, who had long been enemies, were drawn together by the tie of common calamity.'pp. 12–17.
We now proceed to accompany our travellers from the Caraccas across the vallies of Aragua, in their descent of the Rio Apure to its junction with the Oroonoko, and up that river to the spot where the confluence of the Rio Meta (falling from the eastern Cordilleras) enlarges its noble stream, at which the present volume terminates. In tracing their route over this interesting portion of the new continent, we shall present our readers with such parts of the narrative as appear the most striking, either for novelty, beauty of description, or force of expression, connecting them with such an abstract only as may serve to convey some idea of the contents of the volume; omitting however the more scientific subjects, as being the least interesting to the great majority of readers, particularly those which relate to the geological construction of South America ; a subject that, to render it intelligible, would of itself occupy nearly all the space which we have to bestow.
Following the right bank of the river Guayra, by a fine road partly scooped out of the rock, the two travellers passed La Vega, whose church displays itself in a picturesque manner on a range of bills covered with vegetation. The scattered houses surrounded with date trees seemed to proclaim the easy circumstances of their inhabitants. The rounded summit of Carapa, and the ridge of Galipano, crenated like a wall, were the only objects that in the basin of gneiss and mica slate below, impressed a character on the landscape. This part of the country furnishes abun
. dance of peaches, quinces, and other European fruits for the market of Caraccas.
Beyond the village of Antimano the road becomes fatiguing, the valley narrows considerably, and the Guayra is crossed seventeen times between it and Ajuntas. This river is bordered with lata, a beautiful gramineous plant with distich leaves growing sometimes to the height of thirty feet, and to which our botanists have given the name of gynerium saccharoides. Every hut was surrounded with enormous trees of the aligator pear (laurus persea), at the foot of which the aristolochia, paullinia, and other creepers were seen to flourish. We have here a digression of several pages on the cultivation of coffee, which we shall pass over, and proceed with our travellers across the mountains of Higuerota, which separate the two vallies of Caraccas and Aragua, at 835 toises above the level of the ocean. The country had a savage aspect and was thickly wooded, but the plants of the valley of Caraccas gradually disappeared. The road however was much frequented; and long files of mules and Oxen were met at every step.
Descending the table-land of Buenavista, an abundant spring was observed, gushing from the gneiss, and forming several cascades surrounded with the richest vegetation;-among other fine plants were arborescent ferns, the trunks of which reached the height of twenty-five feet. The torrent was shaded with beautiful heliconias, plumerias, cupeys, browneas, and the ficus gigantea. · The brownea, which the inhabitants call rosa del monte, or palo de cruz, bears four or five hundred purple flowers together in one thyrsus; each flower has invariably eleven stamina; and this majestic plant, the trunk of which reaches the height of fifty or sixty feet, is becoming rare because its wood yields a highly valued charcoal.' The soil of this delightful spot is said to be covered with pine-apples, hemimeris, polygala, melastomas, clethras, aralias, and a great variety of the finest plants.
At the foot of the mountains was situated in a basin the small village of San Pedro, where on one spot were cultivated the coffee shrub, plantains, and potatoes. We may here remark that Messrs. Humboldt and Bonpland took great pains in every part of their travels to discover the potatoe (solanum tuberosum) in its native state; but they searched in vain the Antilles, Terra firma, the elevated plain of Mexico, and the more elevated regions of Peru': and it is but the other day that the native dwelling of this most useful root was discovered by Ruiz and Domberg in the vallies of Lima and Peru, in the immediate neighbourhood of Chili, near the sea-coast of the Pacific, and not more than fourteen leagues from Lima. The correctness therefore of the vulgar notion that Sir Walter Raleigh was the first to introduce the potatoe into Ireland from Guiana may be called in question ; it being more probable that this root was originally carried from Lima to Cadiz, and from thence found its way into Ireland, between which and that port a considerable commerce was carried on.
Leaving the mountains, our travellers entered upon a highly cultivated country, covered with hamlets and villages, several of which in Europe would be called towns. In the valley or plain of the Rio Tuy in a line of twelve leagues, they passed La Victoria, San Matheo, Turmero, and Maracay, containing together about 30,000 inhabitants. The Tuy winds among grounds covered with plantains, the hura crepitans, erythrina corallodendron, and fig-trees with nymphea leaves; the bed of the river is formed of quartz pebbles, and the water is always cool, and as clear as crystal. M. de Humboldt bears testimony to the humane treatment which the Negroes experience here, as in most of the Spanish colonies. They have each a small spot of ground to cultivate; they have Saturdays and Sundays to themselves; they all keep poultry, and many of them a pig. In the Spanish colonies too the laws, the institutions, and the manners are more favourable to the liberty of the blacks, than in any other European settlements. The valley of the Tuy has its “gold mine' like every other
part of America inhabited by whites. Grains of this metal are said in fact to have been picked up in the ravine of the Oro.
• An overseer, or major domo, of a neighbouring plantation, had followed these indications; and after his death, a waistcoat with gold buttons being found among his clothes, this gold, according to the logic of these people, could only have proceeded from a vein, which the falling-in of the earth had rendered invisible. In vain I objected, that I could not, by the mere view of the soil, without' digging a large trench in the direction of the vein, well judge of the existence of the mine; I was compelled to yield to the desire of my hosts. For twenty years past the major-domo's waistcoat had been the subject of conversation in the country. Gold extracted from the bosom of the earth is far more alluring in the eyes of the vulgar, than that which is the produce of agricultural industry, favoured by the fertility of the soil, and the mildness of the climate.'— p. 87.
This supposed gold mine was situated in a deep ravine, named Quebrada Seca; and to this the travellers proceeded : all traces of it, however, were obliterated, the falling down of the earth having changed the surface of the ground. Great trees were growing where the gold-washers had worked twenty years before. The vegetation was every where of a magnificent description. Ligneous excrescences in the form of ridges or ribs, augmented in an extraordinary manner the thickness of the trunk of the American fig-trees. "I found some of them,' says our author, 'twenty-two feet and a half in diameter near the roots ! The natural roots winding at the surface of the ground, when cut with a hatchet at the distance of several feet from the trunk throw out a milky juice, which, when deprived of the vital influence of the organs of the tree, is soon altered and coagulated.
• What a wonderful combination of cells and vessels exists in these vegetable masses, in these gigantic trees of the torrid zone, which, without interruption, perhaps during a thousand years, prepare nutricious foods, raise them to the height of one hundred and eighly feet, convey them down again to the ground, and conceal beneath a rough and hard bark, under the inanimate layers of ligneous matter, all the movements of organized life!
We left (says M. de Humboldt) the plantation of Manterolo on the 17th February; the road followed the smiling banks of the Tuy; the morning was cool and humid, and the air seemed embalmed by the delicious odour of the pancratium undulatum, and other large liliaceous plants. At a farm belonging to the family of Monteras, ' a negress more than a hundred years old was seated before a small hut constructed with earth and reeds.' She seemed still to enjoy very good health -- I hold her to the sun,'(la tengo al sol,) said her grandson, the heat keeps her alive.' Blacks well