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ance of this traffic, not only to Portugal, but all the trading powers of Europe.
Amazonia was discovered by Francisco Orellana, about the year 1580, who in returning from Peru sailed down the river Amazon to the At. lantic ocean. On the banks of the river he observed companies of women in arms.
On that account he called the country Amazonia, or the Land of Amazons, and gave the name of Amazon to the river, which formerly had been called Maragnon. The Spaniards were never able to effect a settlement there ; but the Portuguese have some small colonies on that part of the coast which lies betwixt Cape North and the mouth of the Amazon. This river is one of the largest in the world. It runs a course from west to east of about three thousand miles, and receives nearly two hundred other rivers, some of which are not inferior in magnitude to the Danube or the Nile. The breadth of this river at its mouth, where it discharges itself by several channels into the ocean, almost under the equator, is one hundred and fifty miles, and at one thousand five hundred miles from its niouth it is forty fathoms deep. In the rainy season it overflows its banks, and waters and fertilizes the adjacent country.
The Indian nations inhabiting this extensive tract of the globe are very numerous; and the banks of almost every river are inhabited by a different people, who are governed by their caziques, distinguished from their subjects by coronets of beautiful feathers. They are idolaters, and worship the images of their ancient heroes. In their expeditions they carry their gods with them.
The possessions of the French on the continent of America are very inconsiderable. They were
formely the lords of Canada and Louisiania, but have now lost all footing in North America. On the southern continent, however, they have still a settlement, which is called Cayenne, in Guiana. The chief town is Caen, or Cayano, in which there are twelve hundred white inhabitants, exclusive of the garrison. The coast is very low, but within land there are fine hills, proper for almost every species of cultivation. But the French have not yet extended them so far as they might. The soil and climate seem unexceptionable, but during the rains many parts are inundated. The dry season is from June to October, and the heaviest rains are in our winter season. Cayenne pepper is the principal product of this country ; besides which they export sugar, cocoa, vdnilla, and indigo.
The French have also taken possession of the island of Cayenne, which is situated at the mouth of the river of the same name. It is about fortyfive miles in circumference, and is reckoned very unhealthy. To this place the tyrant Robespierre banished many of the best men of France, for political offences. The Corsican Bonaparte has made use occasionally of this island for the same purpose.
After the Portuguese had dispossessed the Dutch of Brazil, they formed settlements in Guiana, A. D. 1663, but four years afterwards they were expelled by the English, whose descendants form part of the colony, which was given back to the Dutch, in exchange for New York, in 1676. Dutch Guiana is to the N. W.of the French settlement, and is often called Surinam, from a river of that name on which the capital is situated. The chief towns are Parimaribo, on the western bank
of the Surinam, and New Middleburg near the N. W. extremity of the colony. Demerara is a settlement on a river of that name. Issequibo is another Dutch settlement on the Spanish Main, which surrendered to the English in 1781, but which was not considered of sufficient importance to be retained.
The climate of this country is reckoned unwholesome. The wet and dry seasons are alternate, each for about three months. It is one of the richest and most valuable colonies belonging to the United Provinces; but it is in a less prosperous situation than it was some years since, owing to the wars in which they have been engaged with their fugitive negroes, whom they treated with great barbarity, and who are become sufficiently numerous to form a kind of colony in the woods, and to be really formidable enemies to their former masters. Under the command of chiefs elected from among themselves, they have cultivated lands for their subsistence; and making frequent incursions into the neighbouring plantations, revenge themselves upon their old oppressors. The chief trade of Surinam consists in sugar, cotton, coffee, tobacco, flax, skins, and very valuable dyeing drugs.
The inhabitants of Dutch Guiana are either whites, blacks, or the reddish-brown aboriginal natives of America. The promiscuous intercourse of these different people has likewise generated several intermediate casts, whose colours depend on their degree of consanguinity to either Whites, Indians, or Negroes.
There are so many birds of various species, and remarkable for the beauty of their plumage, in Guiana, that several persons in the colony have employed themselves with their dependants very advantageously in
killing and preserving them for the cabinets of naturalists in different parts of Europe. The torpedo, or electrical eel, is found in the rivers of Guiana. But the immense number and variety of snakes in this country form one of its chief inconveniences. It is said that several years ago one was killed which measured 33 feet in length, and in the largest part three feet in circumference. The lauha is a peculiar amphibious animal of small size, about the size of a pig four months old, covered with fine short hair; its flesh is preferred to all other kinds of meat. The quassi, the castor-oil nut, the cassia, the palm-oil, the cowhage, the balsam of capivi, and ipecacuanha, are all natives here. An herbaceous plant called troolies grows here, whose leaves are the largest of any yet known; they lie on the ground, and have sometimes attained the almost incredible length of thirty feet, by three feet in width. So admirable a material for covering has not been betowed on this country in vain : most of the houses are thatched with it, and it will last for years without repair. Gum caoutchouc is produced from a large tree in Guiana, and is used for vessels of various kinds and for torches. A small tree called caruna yields a farinaceous nut, from which the Indians prepare a slow poison, the instrument of jealousy or revenge. Still more certain is the Ticuna poison, which is prepared from the roots of the nibbees, that inhabit the entangled forests of these immeasurable swamps, and are a shelter to the panthers, the serpents, and all those monstrous and abominable reptiles that generate in this pestilential atmosphere.
Henry VII. authorizes Cabot to make Discoveries.
Cabot takes possession of a great Part of North America. Patent granted to Sir Walter Raleigh. London and Plymouth Companies. Puritans persecuted and go to America. Their Character and Sufferings. Maryland an Asylum for the Roman Catholics. Liberal Policy of England to her Settlements. Importance of the American Colonies. Wars with France. Washington's Expeditione. Hopes conceived of his future Celebrity. General Peace. American Commerce limited by Great Britain. Stamp Act. Opposition to it. Repealed. Declaratory Act. Plan for taxing Glass, Tea, &c. American Opposition, in which Boston takes the lead. Quarrels between the Military and Inhabitants. Three of the latter killed. Letters from Governor Hutchinson intercepted by Dr. Franklin. Dr. Franklin dismissed from his Of. fice.
AVING discussed in the former chapters of
Portuguese discoveries and seitlements on the continent of America, we now proceed to those that were made under the auspices of our own country, which will lead us to take a connected view of the History of the United States to the present times; in the course of which we shall, as far as our limits will allow, exhibit a distinct historical, poli.