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314

C A R I B E.

[only informed of it by the natives of Hispaniola,
but having landed himself at Guadalupe on its
first discovery, he beheld in several cottages
the head and limbs of the human body recently
separated, and evidently kept for occasional re
pasts. He released at the same time several of
the natives of Porto Rico, who, having been
brought captives from thence, were reserved as
victims for the same horrid purpose. But among
themselves they were peaceable, and towards each
other faithful, friendly, and affectionate. They
considered all strangers indeed as enemies, and of
the people of Europe they formed a right estima
tion. The antipathy which they manifested to
wards the unoffending natives of the larger islands
appears extraordinary, but it is said to have de
scended to them from their ancestors of Guiana :
they considered those islanders as a colony of Ar
rowauks, a nation of South America, with whom
the Caribes of that continent are continually at war.
We can assign no cause for such hereditary and
irreconcilable hostility. With regard to the peo
ple of Europe, it is allowed, that whenever any
of them had acquired their confidence, it was
given without reserve. Their friendship was as
warm as their enmity was implacable. The Ca
ribes of Guiana still fondly cherish the tradition of
Raleigh’s alliance, and to this day preserve the
English colours which he left with them at part
ing. (Bancroft, p. 259.) They painted their faces
and bodies with arnotto so extravagantly, that
their natural complexion, which was nearly that
of a Spanish olive, was not easily to be distinguish
ed under the surface of crimson. However, as this
mode of painting themselves was practised by both
sexes, perhaps it was at first introduced as a de
fence against the venomous insects so common in
tropical climates, or possibly they considered the
brilliancy of the colour as highly ornamental. The
men disfigured their cheeks with deep incisions
and hideous scars, which they stained with black,
and they painted white and black circles round
their eyes ; some of them perforated the cartilage
that divides the nostrils, and inserted the bone of
some fish, a parrot’s feather, or a fragment of tor
toise-shell ; a frightful custom, practised also by
the natives of New Holland ; and they strung to
gether the teeth of such of their enemies as they
had slain in battle, and wore them on their legs
and arms as trophies of successful cruelty. To
draw the bow with unerring skill, to wield the
club with dexterity and strength, to swim with
agility and boldness, to catch fish, and to build a
cottage, were acquirements of indispensable neces
sity, and the education of their children was well

suited to the attainment of them. One method of
making their boys skilful, even in infancy, in the
exercise of the bow, was to suspend their food on
the branch of a tree, compelling the hardy urchins
to pierce it with their arrows before they could ob
tain permission to eat. Their arrows were com
monly poisoned, except when they made their mi
litary excursions by night : on those occasions
they converted them into instruments of still greater
mischief ; for, by ai ming the points with pledgets
of cotton dipt into oil, and set on flame, they fired
whole villages of their enemies at a distance. The
poison which they used was a concoction of nox
ious gums and vegetable juices, and had the pro
perty of being perfectly innocent when received
inlo the stomach; but if communicated immediate
ly to the blood through the slightest wound, it was
generally mortal. As soon as a male child was
brought into the world, he was sprinkled with:
some drops of his father’s blood. The ceremonies
used on this occasion were sufficiently painful to
the father, but he submitted without emotion or
complaint, fondly believing that the same degree
of courage which he had himself displayed was
by these means transmitted to his son. As the
boy grew, he was soon made familiar with scenes
of barbarity ; he partook of the horrid repasts of
his nation, and he was frequently anointed with
the fat of a slaughtered Arrowauk : but he was not
allowed to participate in the toils of the warrior,
and to share the glories of conquest, until his for
titude had been brought to the test. The dawn of
manhood ushered in the hour of severe trial. He
was now to exchange the name he had received
in his infancy for one more sounding and signifi
cant; a ceremony of high importance in the life of a
Caribe, but always accompanied by a scene of fero
cious festivity and unnatural cruelty. In times of
peace, the Caribes admitted of no supremacy but that
of nature. Having no laws, they needed no ma
gistrates. To their old men, indeed, they allowed
some kind of authority, but it was at best ill-de
fined, and must at all times have been insufficient
to protect the weak against the strong. In war,
experience had taught them that subordination
was as requisite as courage ; they thereiore elected
their captains in their general assemblies with
great solemnity, but they put their pretensions to
the proof with circumstances of outrageous barba
rity. When success attended the measures of a
candidate for command, the feast and the triumph
awaited his return. He exchanged his name a se
cond time ; assuming in future that of the most
formidable Arrowauk that had fallen by his hand.
He was permitted to appropriate to himself as many]

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