Page images
PDF

work. This is most scanty. In the 1887 volume there is a very short abstract of his earlier explorations, with a portion of his journey up the Orinoko in that year. In the volume for 1900 is an article by the Count, almost entirely devoted to a description, with drawings, of all the rock inscriptions which he found in the Uaupés. These drawings are very carefully made, and are twelve in number, each representing a whole rock surface, often containing several groups of forty or fifty distinct figures. It is rather curious that several of the groups in my two plates do not appear in any of the twelve plates of Count Stradelli. Besides these drawings there are several large scale sketch-plans of the portions of the river where they were found, mostly at cataracts or rapids where there are large exposed rock surfaces. The map showing the first three cataracts well illustrates the description of them given at p. 197 of my “Travels.” But besides these sketch-plans there is a large folding map of the Uaupés, drawn by Count Stradelli from “compass” bearings during this last journey. There is no reference whatever to this map by the Count himself, except the statement on the title that it is by “compass” observations, as was mine. And as there is no reference to any determinations of longitude the distances could only have been ascertained by estimated rates of canoetravel, such as I used myself. I therefore compared the two maps with much interest, and found some discrepancies of considerable amount. His map is on a scale rather more than four times that of mine; but my original map, now in the possession of the Geographical Society, is on a larger scale than his. His longitude of the river's mouth is 67° 5', mine being 68°, more accurate determinations having now been made than were available at the time I prepared my map, more than fifty years ago. On comparing the two maps we see at once a very close agreement in the various curves, sharp bends, loops, and other irregularities of the river's course, so that, omitting the minuter details, the two correspond very satisfactorily. But when we compare the total length of the river to my furthest point, close to the mouth of the Codiary, there is a large difference. The difference of the longitudes of these two points on the count's map is 2° 22', whereas on mine it is 3° 45'; my estimate being about 60 per cent. more than his. By measuring carefully with compasses in lengths of five miles, with a little allowance for the minuter bends, his distance is 315 miles, mine 494, mine being thus 55 per cent. Imore. It is unfortunate that Count Stradelli has given us no information as to how he estimated his distances. In a river flowing through a densely wooded country, with nowhere more than a few hundred yards of clear ground on its banks, with a very crooked and twisted course, and with a current varying from being scarcely perceptible to such rapidity that a whole crew of paddlers can hardly make way against it, it is exceedingly difficult to ascertain the rate of motion in miles per hour. Canoes of different sizes do not travel at very different rates, when each has its complement of men, and I had taken many opportunities to ascertain this rate in still water. Then, by noting the time occupied for a particular distance, say between two of the cataracts, both during the ascent and descent of the river, the mean of the two would be the time if there were no current. Making a little allowance for the load in the canoe, the number or the quality of the rowers, etc., this time multiplied by the rate of travel in still water would give the distance, This was the plan I adopted in making my map of the Uaupés. It is, of course, a mere approximation, and liable to considerable errors, but I did not think they would lead to such a large difference of distance as that between the Count's map and my own. We have no doubterred in opposite directions, and the truth lies somewhere between us; but until some traveller takes a good chronometer up the river with a sextant for determining local time, or a telescope of sufficient size to observe eclipses of Jupiter's satellites, the true length of the river will not be settled. In one of the latest atlases, “The Twentieth Century Citizens' Atlas,” by Bartholomew, the position of the Jurupari fall is 62 per cent, further from the mouth of the river than on Stradelli's map, which seems to show either that some other traveller has determined the longitude, or that they consider my distances more correct than his. Another traveller, Dr. T. Koch, only last year (1904) ascended the Uaupés to beyond the Jurupari fall, and also went up the Codiary branch, where he reached an elevated plateau. But it is not stated whether he made any observations to determine the true positions of his farthest point (The Geographical journal, July, 1905, p. 89). It seems probable, therefore, that the upper course of this great river for a distance of two or three hundred miles is quite unknown. But this is only one indication of the enormous area of country in the central plains of South America, which, except the banks of a few of the larger rivers, is occupied only by widely scattered tribes of Indians, and is as absolutely unknown to civilized man as any portion of the globe. From the Meta river on the north, to the Juambari and Beni rivers on the south, a distance of about twelve hundred miles, and to an equal average distance from the lower slopes of the Andes eastward, is one vast, nearly level, tropical forest, only known or utilized for a few miles from the banks of comparatively few of the rivers that everywhere permeate it. It is to be hoped that in the not remote future this grand and luxuriant country will be utilized, not for the creation of wealth for speculators, but to provide happy homes for millions of families.

As my collections had now made my name well known to the authorities of the Zoological and Entomological Societies, I received a ticket from the former, giving me admission to their gardens while I remained in England, and I was a welcome visitor at the scientific meetings of both societies, which I attended very regularly, and thus made the acquaintance of most of the London zoologists and entomologists. I also went frequently to examine the insect and bird collections in the British Museum (then in Great Russell Street), and also to the Linnean Society, and to the Kew Herbarium to consult works on botany, in order to name my palms.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic][graphic]
« EelmineJätka »