Sir Walter Raleigh Caribbean Exploration
Accout of Sir Walter Ralegh. Dated 1596. The Discoverie of the Large, Rich and Bewtifvl Empire of Gviana, With a Relation of the Grat and Golden City of Manoa (Which the Spaniards Call El Dorado) And the Prouinces of Emeria, Arromaia, Amapaia and other Countries, with their Riuers, Adioyning. Performed in the Yeare 1595 by Sir W. Ralegh, Knight, Captaine of Her Maiesties Guard, Lo. Warden of the Stanneries, and Her Hignesse Lieutenant Generall of the Countie of Cornewall. London: Robert Robinson, 1596. pp. 1-120 (in) The Discovery of the Large, Rich, and Beautiful Empire of Guiana … by Sir W. Ralegh … Reprinted from the Edition of 1596 With Some Unpublished Documents Relative to That Country. Edited by R.H. Schomburgk. The Hakluyt Society, Series 1, Number 3. London: The Hakluyt Society, 1848.
On the return of Governor Lane [to England] tobacco was for the first time brought to England, and that Ralegh introduced the custom of smoking … according to Bouch, Sir W. Ralegh first planted [potatoes] on his estate of Youghal near Cork, from whence it was soon after carried into Lancashire. When this plant was first introduced as a delicacy on the tables of the rich, it was little imagined that two centuries later it would become an article of food of such vital importance, that the failure of its cultivation in two successive years would entail misery upon the land where it was first planted in the British islands … It has been asserted that Sir John Hawkins brought the first potatoes from Santa Fé as early as 1563. We are only acquainted with his voyage from Guinea to San Domingo that year, having on board the first cargo of human merchandise carried in an English vessel… Others ascribe this introduction to Sir Francis Drake in 1586 (pp. xxxiv-xxxv)
This iland of Trinedado … the soile is very excellent and wil beare sugar, ginger, or any other commodity that the Indies yeeld. It hath store of deare, wyld porks, fruits, fish and fowle. It hath also for bread sufficient Mais, Cassaui, and of those roots and fruits which are common euery where in the West Indies. It hath diuers beasts, which the Indies haue not (p. 4).
These Tiuitiuas [Indians called Uaraus or Waraus] are a verie goodlie people … They neuer eate of anie thing that is set or sowen, and as at home they vse neither planting nor other manurance, so when they com abroad they refuse to feede of aought, but of that which nature without labor bringeth foorth. The vse the tops of Palmitos for bread, and kil Deere, fish and porks for the rest of the sustenance, they haue also manie sorts of fruits that grow in the woods, and grat varietie of birds and foule (pp. 49-51).
Those nations which are called Arwacas [Arawaaks: living intermixed with the Waraus along the Orinoco River] … do vse to beate the bones of their Lords into powder, and their wiues and friends drinke it all in their seuerall sorts of drinks (pp. 52-53).
The farther we went on [up river] we grew weaker and weaker …o n the banks of these riuers were diuerse sorts of fruits good to eate, flowers and trees of that varietie as were sufficient to make ten volumes of herbals, we releeued our selues manie times with the fruits of the countrey, and sometimes with foule and fish … [we were told by the Pilot to anchor and enter a Arawaak settlement] … where we [should find] store of bread, hens, fish, and of the countrey wine … [but were unable to find anything so] we determined to hang the Pilot … [then we landed again and found] good store of brad, fish, hens, and Indian drinke, and so rested that night … Vpon this riuer there were great store of fowle, and of many sorts: we saw … vglie serpents [alligator: Crocodilus scleropos and Cayman: Crocodilus acutus] … I had a Negro [slave?] a very proper yoong fellow, that leaping out of the Galley to swim in the mouth of this riuer, was in all our sights taken and deuoured with one of those Lagartos [crocodile] (pp. 54-58).
Nothing got vs more loue among [the Indians] then this vsage, for I suffred not anie man [of my crew] to take from anie of the nations so much as a Pina, or a Potato roote, without giuing them contentment, nor any man so much as to offer to touch any of their wiues or daughters: which course, so contrarie to the Spaniards … drew them to admire hir Maiestie … and … to honour our nation … After we had taken in this supplie of bread, with diuers baskets of rootes which were excellent meate [cassava] … then I went on with my new hired Pilot … That night we came to an ankor at the parting of three goodlie riuers … and landed vpon a faire sand, where we found thousands of Tortugas egges [freshwater turtles: Emys arrau], which are very wholsome meat, and greatly restoring, so as our men were now well filled and highlie contented both with the fare, and neereness of the land of Guiana which appeered in sight … In the morning there came downe [river the Indian ruler of the district called Toparimaca] with some thirtie or fortie followers, and brought vs diuers sorts of fruits, and of his wine, bread, fish, and flesh, whom we also feasted as we could, and least he dranke good Spanish wine (whereof we had a small quantitie in bottles) which aboue all things they loue … [we went to his town] where some of our captaines garoused of his wine till they were reasonable pleasant, for it is very strong with pepper, and the iuice of diuers herbs, and fruits digested and purged, they keepe it in great earthen pots of ten or twelue gallons, very cleane and sweete, and are themselues at their meetings and feasts the gratest garousers and drunkards of the world [beverage called paiwa or paiwori made from fermented cassava. The women chew the bread and spit it into a trough and boiling water is pured over it; the mass is kneaded and portions not even n consistency are again chewed and spit into the pot; it ferments for two days and is drunk on the third … the teeth of the women who make paiwa suffer so ‘that a female has seldom a good tooth after she is thirty years old’; Thevet says that only virgins were permitted to prepare the beverage; it is offered as a cup of welcome by Indians and is considered a great offence to refuse. [Beverage to which Ralegh alludes appears to have been cassiri, made of batatas or sweet potatoes] (pp. 61-65).
The seate of this towne of Toparimaca was very pleasant … I sawe very aged people, that we might perceiue all their sinewes and veines without any flesh, and but euen as a case couered onely with skin (pp. 66-67).
[Spanish tortured Indians to understand how to cure wounds from poisoned arrows] their southsaiers and priests, who do conceale it, and onely teach it but from the father to the sonne. Those medicines which are vulgar [i.e. available commonly] and serue for the ordinarie poison, are made of the iuice of a roote called Tupara … Some of the Spaniards haue been cured in ordinary wounds, of the common poisoned arrowes with the iuice of garlike: but this is a generall rule for all men that shall heereafter trauell the Indies where poisoned arrowes are vsed, that they must abstaine from drinke, for if they take any licor into their body, as they shall be maruellously prouoked therunto by drought, I say, if they drink before the wound be dressed, or soone vpon it, there is no way with them but present death [poison perhaps from Strychnos toxifera] (p. 71).
We arriued at the port of Morequito, and anchored … many women and children … came to woonder at our nation, and to bring vs down victuall, which they did in great plenty, as venison, porke, hens, chickens, foule, fish, with diuers sorts of excellent fruits, and rootes, and great aboundance of Pinas, the princess of fruits, that grow vnder the Sun, expecially those of Guiana. They brought vs also store of bread, and of their wine, and a sort of Paraquitos, no bigger than wrens, and of all other sorts both small and great: one of them gaue me a beast called by the Spaniards Armadilla, which they call Cassacam, which seemeth to be all barred ouer with small plates somewhat like to a Renocero, with a white horne growing in his hinder parts … a little of the powder of that horn put into the eare, cureth deafnes (pp. 73-74).
From the riuer of Mana, we crost another riuer in the said beawtifull valey called Oiana, and rested our selues by a cleare lake…In this lake we saw one of the great fishes, as big as a wine pipe, which they call Manati [Manatus americanus], and is most excellent and holsome meate [NOTE: Since the animal was amphibious, the Catholics were permitted to use its meat during Lent] (pp. 98-99).
The Arwacas dry the bones of their Lordes, and their wiues and friendes drinke them in powder … their wiues neuer eate with their husbands, nor among the men, but serue their husbandes at meales, and afterwardes feede by themselues. Those that are past their yonger yeares, make all their breade and drinke … the men doe nothing but hunte, fish, play, and drinke, when they are out [not engaged in] wars (p. 109).
There is no countrey which yeeldeth more pleasure to the Inhabitants … then Guina … It hath so many plaines, cleare riuers, aboundance of Phesants, Partridges, Quailes, Rayles, Cranes, Herons, and all other fowle: Deare of all sortes, Porkes, Hares, Lyons, Tygers, Leopards, and diuers other sortes of beastes, eyther for chace, or foode. It hatha kinde of beast called Cama, or Anta [tapir: Tapirus americanus], as bigge as an English beefe, and in greate plenty [NOTE: footnote to the passage – the meat is excellent in taste, but the Brazilians have a prejudice against it] (pp. 111-112).
To conclude, Guiana is a Countrey that hath yet her Maydenhead, neuer sackt, turned, nor wrought … nor … the soyle spent by manurance … It hath neuer been entred by any armie of strength, and neuer conquered or possesed by any Christian Prince … The west Indies were first offered her Maiesties Grandfather by Columbus a straunger [Bartholomew Columbus brought sea-charts and offered the services of Christopher Columbus to King Henry the Seventh, which he accepted; but after delays (?) Columbus attached himself to the service of Queen Isabella] (pp. 115-117).