« EelmineJätka »
igneous injection. . Crevices and cavities, called vughs by the miners, have been filled more or less completely with crystals of fluor spar, quartz, and various ores of metals from true aqueous solutions, or by the action of super-heated steam.
6. By these means the signs of the original filling of many mineral lodes, especially those of the baser metals, · have been obscured or obliterated; but in auriferous quartz lodes both the metal and the veinstone have generally resisted all these secondary agencies, and are presented to us much the same as they were first deposited, excepting that the associated minerals have been altered, and in some cases new ones introduced, by the passage of hot springs from below or percolation of water from the surface.
( 103 )
Climate of the north-eastern side of Nicaragua—Excursions around
Santo Domingo–The Artígua–Corruption of ancient namesButterflies, spiders, and wasps-Humming-birds, beetles, and ants -Plants and trees—Timber—Monkey attacked by eagle-Whitefaced monkey-Anecdotes of a tame one-Curassows and other game birds_Trogons, woodpeckers, mot-mots, and toucans.
The climate of Santo Domingo and of the whole northeastern side of Nicaragua is a very damp one. The rains set in in May, and continue with occasional intermission until the following January, when the dry season of a little more than three months begins. Even during the short-lived summer there are occasional rains, so that although the roads dry up, vegetation never does, the ground in the woods is ever moist, and the brooks perennial. In the shady forest, mosquitoes and sand-flies are rather troublesome; but the large cleared space about the houses of the mining company is almost free from them, and in the beautiful light evenings one can sit under the verandahs undisturbed, watching the play of the moonbeams on the silky leaves of the bananas, the twinkling north star just peeping over the range in front, with “Charlie's Wain" in the upper half of its endless circlings, whilst in the opposite direction the eye rests on the beautiful constellations of the southern hemisphere. On the darkest nights innumerable fire-flies flash their intermittent lights as they pass amongst the low bushes or herbage, making another twinkling firmament on earth. On other evenings, sitting inside with lighted candles and wide opened doors, great bats flap inside, make a round of the apartment, and pass out again, whilst iris-winged moths, attracted by the light, flit about the ceiling, or long-horned beetles flop down on the table. In this way I made my first acquaintance with many entomological rarities.*
The heaviest rains fall in July and August, and at these times the brooks are greatly swollen. The one in front of my house sometimes carried away the little wooden bridge that crossed it, and for an hour or two became impassable, but subsided again almost as soon as the heavy rain ceased falling, for the watershed above does not extend far. Every year our operations were impeded by runs in the mines, or by small landslips stopping up our tramways and levels, or floods carrying away our dam or breaking our watercourses; but after August we considered our troubles on this score at an end for the season. Occasionally the rains lasted three or four days without intermission, but generally they would come on in the afternoon, and there would be a downpour, such as is only seen in the tropics, for an hour or two, then some clear weather, until another great bank of clouds rolled up from the north-east and sent down another deluge. In September, October, and November there are breaks of fine weather, sometimes lasting for a fortnight; but December is generally a very wet month, the rains ex
* In moths, numerous fine Sphingidæ and Bombycidæ ; and in beetles, amongst many others, the rare Xestia nitida (Bates) and Hexoplon albipenne (Bates) were first described from these evening captures.
tending far into January, so that it is not until February that the roads begin to dry up.
I had much riding about. The mines worked by us, when I first went out, extended from Consuelo, a mile higher up the valley, to Pavon, a mile below Santo Domingo; and even after I had concentrated our operations to those nearer to our reduction works, there were many occasions for me to ride into the woods. I had to look after our woodcutters and charcoal-burners, to see that they did not encroach upon the lands of our neighbours, as they were inclined to do, and involve us in squabbles and lawsuits; paths had to be opened out, to bring in nispera and cedar timber, our property surveyed, and new mines, found in the woods, visited and explored. Besides this, I spent most of my spare time in the forest, which surrounded us on every side. Longer excursions were frequent. The Nicaraguans, like all Spanish Americans, are very litigious, and every now and then I would be summoned, as the representative of the company, to appear at Libertad, Juigalpa, or Acoyapo, to answer some frivolous complaint, generally made with the expectation of extorting money, but entertained and probably remanded from time to time by unscrupulous judges, who are so badly paid by the government that they have to depend upon the fees of suitors for their support, and are much open to corruption. These rides and strolls into the woods were very fruitful in natural-history acquisitions and observations. I shall give an account of some of those made in the immediate vicinity of Santo Domingo, and I wish I could transfer to my readers some of the pleasure that they afforded me. They gave the relief that enabled me to carry on for years an incessant struggle, under great difficulties, to bring the mines into a paying state, continually hampered for want of sufficient capital, with most inadequate machinery, and all the annoyances, delays, and disappointments inevitable in carrying on such a precarious enterprise as gold-mining far in the interior of a half-civilised country.
The brook that ran at the foot of the bank below my house, and there called the “Quebrada de Santo Domingo,” is dignified half a mile lower down, after passing the mines of the Javali Company and receiving the waters of another brook coming down from the westward, by the name of the Javali river. The Indians, however, both at the Indian village of Carca, seven miles back in the mountains, and those lower down the river itself, call it“Artígua.” The preservation of these old Indian names is important, as they might sometime or other throw considerable light on the early inhabitants of the country. In all parts of the world the names of mountains, valleys, lakes, and rivers are among the most certain memorials of the ancient inhabitants. The reason the names of the natural features of a country remain unchanged under the sway of successive nations, speaking totally different languages, appears to be this. The successful invaders of a country, even in the most cruel times, never exterminated the people they conquered; at the least, the young women were spared. The conquerors established their own language, and to everything they had known in their own land they gave their own names; but to things quite new to them, which nearly always included the mountains, valleys, lakes, and rivers, and often the towns and many of the natural productions, they accepted the exist