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On reaching the city of Barra at the mouth of the Rio Negro we found a strange and even now unaccountable poverty both in insects and birds, although there was fine virgin forest within a walk, with roads and paths and fine rocky streams. All seemed barren and lifeless as compared with the wonderful productiveness of Para. It was, therefore, necessary to seek other localities in search of rarities. I accordingly went a three days’ journey up the Rio Negro to obtain specimens of the umbrella-bird, one of the most remarkable birds of these regions, my brother going in another direction to see what he could discover.
After a month I returned to Barra, and after some months of almost constant wet weather went to a plantation in the Amazon above Barra for two months, where I made a tolerable collection, while my brother went to Serpa, lower down on the Amazon ; and on returning I prepared for my long intended voyage to the Upper Rio Negro in hopes of getting into a new and more productive country. As soon as a much overdue vessel had arrived, bringing letters and remittances from England, I was ready to start for a journey of unknown duration. After a year's experience it was now clear that my brother was not fitted to become a good natural-history collector, as he took little interest in birds or insects, and without enthusiasm in the pursuit he would not have been likely to succeed. We therefore arranged that he should stay at or near Barra for a few months of the dry season, make what collections he could, then return to Para on his way home. I left him what money I could spare, and as he was now well acquainted with the country, and could, if absolutely necessary, get an advance from our agents at Para, I had little doubt that he would get home without difficulty. But I never saw him again. When he reached Para, towards the end of May, 1851, he at once took a passage to England in a ship to leave early in June, but before it sailed he was seized with yellow fever, then prevalent in the town, and though at first seeming to get better, died a few days afterwards. Mr. Bates was at Para at the time, preparing for his second long journey up the Amazon. He was with him when he was taken ill, and did all he could in getting medical assistance and helping to nurse him. But just when my brother was at his worst, two days before his death, he was himself attacked with the same disease, which rendered him absolutely helpless for ten days, though, being of a stronger and more hardened constitution, he finally recovered. Mr. Miller, the Vice-consul, with whom I and Bates had stayed when we arrived at Para, was with my brother when he died. This gentleman had severe brain-fever not long afterwards, and also died; but he told Mr. Bates that a few hours before my brother's death he had said that “it was sad to die so young.” In one of his last letters home he had spoken quite cheerfully, saying, “When I arrive in England I have my plans, which I can better tell than write.” And then referring to his brother John's emigration to California, and some idea that he, Herbert, might go there too, he says, “I do not like the Californian scheme for many reasons. I should like to have seen John's first letter. No doubt he is sure to get on. I wish I was a little less poetical ; but, as I am what I am, I must try and do the best for myself I can.” I rather think he had the idea of getting some literary work to do, perhaps on a country newspaper or magazine, and it is not unlikely that that was what he was best fitted for. I may here briefly explain why he had no regular employment to fall back upon. Owing to the fact that I left home when I was fourteen (he being then only seven and a half), and that when I happened to be at home afterwards he was often away at school, I really knew very little of him till he came to me at Para. Until I left school he had been taught at home by my father, and afterwards went for a year or two to a cheap boarding school in Essex. As it was necessary for him to learn something, he was placed with a portmanteau and bag-maker in Regent Street, where he was at first a mere shop-boy, and as he showed little aptitude for learning the trade, and was not treated very kindly by his master, he was rather miserable, and was taken away after a year. My brother William then got him into the pattern-shop at the Neath Abbey Iron Works soon after I had gone to Leicester. There he remained, lodging near the works, and when we went to live at Neath, spending his Sundays with us. At this time he took to writing verses, and especially enigmas in the style of W. Mackworth Praed, and these appeared almost weekly in some of the local papers. But he evidently had no inclination or taste for mechanical work, and though he spent, I think, about four years in the pattern-shops he never became a good workman; and as he saw no prospect of ever earning more than a bare subsistence as a mechanic, and perhaps not even that, he gladly came out to me, when he had just completed his twentieth year. His misfortune was that he had no thorough school training, no faculty for or love of mechanical work, and was not possessed of sufficient energy to overcome these deficiencies of nature and nurture.
The remainder of my South American travels consisted of two voyages up the Rio Negro. On the first I went beyond the boundaries of Brazil, and crossed by a road in the forest to one of the tributaries of the Orinoko. Returning thence I visited a village up a small branch of the Rio Negro, where there is an isolated rocky mountain, the haunt of the beautiful Cock of the Rock; afterwards going up the Uaupés as far as the second cataract at Juaurité. I then returned with my collections to Barra, having determined to go much farther up the Uaupés in order to obtain, if possible, the white umbrella bird which I had been positively assured was found there; and also in the hopes of finding some new and better collecting ground near the Andes. These journeys were made, but the second was cut short by delays and the wet season. My health also had suffered so much by a succession of fevers and dysentery that I did not consider it prudent to stay longer in the country.
Although during the last two journeys in the Rio Negro and Orinoko districts I had made rather large miscellaneous collections, and especially of articles of native workmanship, I never found any locality at all comparable with Para as a collecting ground. The numerous places I visited along more than a thousand miles of river, all alike had that poverty of insect and bird-life which characterized Barra itself, a poverty which is not altogether explicable. The enormous difficulties and delays of travel made it impossible to be at the right place at the right season; while the excessive wetness of the climate rendered the loss of the only month or two of fine weather irreparable for the whole year. The comparative scantiness of native population at all the towns of the Rio Negro, the small amount of cultivation, the scarcity of roads through the forest, and the want of any guide from the experience of previous collectors, combined to render my numerous journeys in this almost totally unknown region comparatively unproductive in birds and insects. As it happened (owing to Custom House formalities at Barra), the whole of my collections during the last two voyages were with me on the ship that was burnt, and were thus totally lost. On the whole, I am inclined to think that the best places now available for a collector in the country I visited are at the San Jeronym and Juarité falls on the River Uaupés, and at Javita, on a tributary of the Orinoko, if the whole of the dryest months could be spent there. So far as I have heard, no English traveller has to this day ascended the Uaupés river so far as I did, and no collector has stayed any time at Javita, or has even passed through it. There is, therefore, an almost unknown district still waiting for exploration by some competent naturalist. One letter I wrote from Guia on the Upper Rio Negro, three months after my arrival there, has been preserved, and from it I extract the following passage:— “I have been spending a month with some Indians three days' journey up a narrow stream (called the Cobati River). From there we went half a day's journey through the forest to a rocky mountain where the celebrated ‘Gallos de Serra’ (Cocks of the Rock) breed. But we were very unfortunate, for though I had with me ten hunters and we remained nine days at the Serra, suffering many inconveniences (having only taken farinha and salt with us), I only got a dozen gallos, whereas I had expected in less time to have secured