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in S. America: the inhabitants have been estimated at about 100,000, of whom nearly one-third may be Europeans or their descendents. Considerably farther to the southward, on the river called in Portuguese Rio Janeiro or January river, stands Sans Sebastian, or, as it is usually but improperly called Rio Janeiro, on a capacious and secure harbour, now become the place of the greatest trade in Brasil; the surrounding country, besides a great abundance of the productions commonly found in similar climatés, furnishing gold ingreatquantities, besides diamonds of an inferior sort to those of India, being often of a brownish obscure hue.
Brasil is in general a tract of uncommon fertility; but the interior is mostly incumbered with forests : it affords, however, even in its present neglected state, prodigious quantities of sugar, cotton, coffee, chocolate, ginger, pepper, capsicum, jalap, with many other aromatic and medicinal plants: the Brasil wood, and various other dye-stuffs, are likewise produced in abundanee.
Dutch Possessions.—These occupy a tract of about 300 miles along the coast of the Atlantic, between the mouths of the Orinoco and the river of Amazons: the ex. tent back from the coast is very irregular, but along the rivers it amounts to about 150 miles. The country towards the coast is one unvaried plaia, intersected by many considerable rivers, which render the soil extremely fertile; but the heats and moisture of the climate render it peculiarly unfavorable for Europeans. The chief towns are Paramaribo on the river Surinam, from which the colony itself is often called Surinam, although the Essequibo be a greater stream: Demerara is another settlement on a river of the same name. The principal productions, are sugar, coffee, cocoa, and cotton. These possessions have for some years been in the hands of the British. French PossessiỌNS.—Adjoining to the eastern boun2 E
dary of the Dutch settlements lies that part of Guiana beonging to France : its length along the shore is about 360 miles, but the interior is still entirely in its natural state and unoccupied. The chief and indeed the only town is Cayenne, situated on the extremity of an island 15 miles in length, at the mouth of two rivers there falling into the sea; and from this town the colony itself is usually called Cayenne; the harbour, although but indifferent, is the best on that traet of coast. This colony furnishes abundantly that species of eapsicum, which is known in Europe by the name of Cayenne pepper; other vegetable productions are the quassia, a very powerful bitter, the ricinus which affords the castor oil, balsam of capivi,ipecacuanha, &c. the substance called Indian rubber elastic gum or caoutchoue is the thick. ened milky juice of a tree the growth of the same colony.
Patagonia.—The southern extremity of S. America is hitherto an unconquered and an unknown country, amongst the inhabitants one race has occasioned much curiosity, as if they were a nation of gigantic stature. Of this race the most authentic description is to be found in the account published by the Spanish government of a voyage performed in the end of 1785, and begining of 1786, for the purpose of once for all determining the propriety of vessels bound for the Pacific ocean attempting to pass through the strait of Magellan, which separates the continent of S. America from the cluster of isles called in general Tierra del Fuego,
The officers employed on that expedition have, in the following passage of their narrative, put an end to all further discussion on this subject. “The Patagonians," say they, “so first named by Magellan, are certain tribes of wandering uncivilized people, occupying the vast tract of country stretching from the river La Plata to the strait; their ordinary
abode is in the interior of the country; but in the hunting season they approach the strait where we had various
opportunities of observing and carrying on intercourses with them. Their stature, without controversy, exceeds that of the generality of Europeans ; we measured carefully some of the tallest, and found their height to be 7 feet 14 inch Spanish measure”,[equal to 6 feet 6 inches English,] "and the ordinary height was from 6 feet 6 inches to 7 feet Spanish”, [or from 5 feet 112 inches, to 6 feet 4 o inches English,] “ the stature of this race of people is therefore not so remarkable as the size of their bodies, many of which are not less than 4 feet 4 inches”, (nearly 4 feet English] “ round the breast; their arms and legs are not, however, in proportion to their size; but their head is comparatively large and broad for even their uncommon bulk."
Islands of S. America. The most remarkable islands on the coast of S. America are the groupe called Tierra del Fuego, the land of fire, not from any volcanoes observed, but from the frequent fires lighted up on both sides of the strait, as the Spaniards in November 1520, under the enterprising Magellan, passed through from the Atlantic to the Pacific on the first circumnavigation of the globe. These islands are in general covered with perpetual snow, and are inhabited by a few wretched wanderers in the very stage
of civilization; and in many particulars closely resembling the corresponding savages of New Holland.
On the western coast of S. America lies Chiloe, an island extending about 120 miles in length, by 25 in breadth. In a more genial climate, and at the distance of 400 miles from the nearest land, lie a couple of islands called in common those of Juan Fernandez, discovered by the Spaniards in 1675. The largest, about 15 miles in length and 6 in breadth, is a beautiful and fertile island, but chiefly remarkable as the solitary abode of Alexander Selkirk a Scotchman, who on a voyage round the world.
was at his own request left there, and after a space of five years was in 1710, relieved by an English vessel and brought to England. From the history of this recluse, Danial Defoe is said to have formed his celebrated and popular work, entitled the adventures of Robinson Crusoe.