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Ch, XI.]



been beaten back some miles to the north-east; but the people cling to the old spots, where, generation after generation, their ancestors have lived and died. A new house could be built in a few days, closer to the forest; but they prefer travelling several miles every day to and from their clearings, rather than desert their old homes.

Beyond the Aguasco, we had to travel over a swampy plain for about a mile, our animals plunging all the time through about three feet of mud. This plain was covered with thousands of guayava trees, laden with sufficient fruit to make guava jelly for all the world. After floundering through the swamp, we reached more savannahs, and then entered a beautiful valley, well grassed, and with herds of fine cattle, horses, and mules grazing on it. The grass was well cropped, and looked like pastureland at home. The ground was now firmer, and we got more rapidly across it. A flock of wild Muscovy ducks flew heavily across the plain, looking very like the tame variety. I do not wonder at sportsmen sometimes being unwilling to fire at them, mistaking them for domestic ducks. The tame variety is very prolific, and sits better on its eggs than the common duck. I have seen twenty ducklings brought out at a single hatching. They are good eating, and a large one has nearly as much flesh upon it as an average-sized goose.

About dusk on these plains, which extended around for several miles, we reached the cattle hacienda of Olama, where was a large tile-roofed house, near a river of the same name. The natives of Nicaragua seldom give distinctive names to their rivers, but call them after the towns or villages on their banks. Thus, at Olama, the river was called the Olama river; higher up, at Matagalpa, the same stream is called the Matagalpa river; and at Jinotego the Jinotego river. The Caribs, however, who live on the rivers, and use them as highways, have names for them all; but to the agricultural Indians and Mestizos of the interior, they are but reservoirs of water, crossed at distant points by their roads, and everywhere amongst them I found the greatest ignorance prevailing as to the connection of the different streams, and their outflow to the ocean. All the streams about Olama flow eastward, and join together to form the Rio Grande, that reaches the Atlantic about midway between Blewfields and the river Wanks. It is very incorrectly marked on all the maps of Nicaragua that I have seen.

The Caribs from the lower parts of the river occasionally come up in their canoes to Olama, and bring with them common guns and iron pots that they have obtained from the mahogany cutters at the mouth of the river. These they barter for dogs. I could not ascertain what they wanted with the dogs, but both at this place and at Matagalpa I was told of the great value the Caribs put on them. Although the people of Olama expressed great surprise that the “ Caritos," as they call the river Indians, should take so much trouble to obtain dogs, they had not had the curiosity to ask them what they wanted them for. Some people near the river have even commenced to rear dogs, to supply the demand. The Caribs had a special liking for black ones, and did not value those of any other colour so much. They would barter a gun or a large iron pot for a single dog, if it was of the right colour.

C. XI.]



The common dogs of Central America are a mongrel breed—not differing, I believe, from those of Europe. There are usually a number of curs about the Indian houses that run out barking at a stranger, but seldom bite.

The hairless dogs, mentioned by Humboldt, as being abundant in Peru,* are not common in Central America, but there are a few to be met with. At Colon I saw several. They are of a shining dark colour, and are quite without hair, excepting a little on the face and on the tip of the tail. Both in Peru and Mexico this variety was found by the Spanish conquerors. It would be interesting to have these dogs compared with the hairless dogs of China, which Humboldt says have certainly been extremely common since very early times. Perhaps another link might be added to the broken chain of evidence that connects the peoples of the two countries.

A large naked dog-like animal is figured by Clavigero as one of the indigenous animals of Mexico. It was called Xoloitzcuintli by the Mexicans; and Humboldt considers it was distinct from the hairless dog, and was a large dog-like wolf. Its name does not support this view; Xoloitzcuintli literally means “a servant dog," from “ Xolotl," a slave or servant, and itzcuintli, a dog ; and we find the word Xolotl in Huexlotl, the Aztec name of the common turkey, which was domesticated by them, and largely used as food. I am led to believe from this, that Xolotl was applied to any animal that lived in the house or was domesticated, and that the Xoloitzcuintli was merely a large variety of the hairless dog. Clavi

. “Aspects of Nature,” vol. i. p. 109.

gero's description of it would fit the hairless dog of the present day very well, excepting the size; he says it was four feet long, totally naked, excepting a few stiff hairs on its snout, and ash coloured, spotted with black and tawny.

Tschudi makes two races of indigenous dogs in tropical America. I. The Canis caraibicus (Lesson), without hair, and which does not bark. 2. The Canis ingo (Tschudi), the common hairy dog, which has pointed nose and ears, and barks.* The small eatable dog of the Mexicans was called by them Techichi ; and Humboldt derives the name from Tetl, a stone, and says that it means "a dumb dog," but this appears rather a forced derivation. Chichi is Aztec for" to suck;” and it seems to me more probable that the little dogs they eat, and which are spoken of by the Spaniards as making very tender and delicate food, were the puppies of the Xoloitzcuintli, and that Techichi meant "a sucker."

Whether the hairless dog was or was not the Techichi of which the Mexicans made such savoury dishes is an open question, but there can be no doubt that the former was found in tropical America by the Spanish conquerors, and that it has survived to the present time, with little or no change. That it should not have intermixed with the common haired variety, and lost its distinctive characters, is very remarkable. It has not been artificially, preserved, for instead of being looked on with favour by the Indians, Humboldt states that in Peru, where it is abundant, it is despised and ill-treated. Under such circumstances, the variety can only have

* J. J. von Tschudi, quoted by Humboldt, “ Aspects of Nature,” English edition, vol. i. p. 111.



been preserved through not interbreeding with the common form, either from a dislike to such unions, or by some amount of sterility when they are formed.

This is, I think, in favour of the inference that the variety has been produced by natural and not by artificial selection, for diminished fertility is seldom or never acquired between artificial varieties.

Man isolates varieties, and breeds from them, and continuing to separate those that vary in the direction he wishes to follow, a very great difference is, in a comparatively short time, produced. But these artificial varieties, though often more different from each other than some natural species, readily interbreed, and if left to themselves, rapidly revert to a common type. In natural selection there is a great and fundamental difference. The varieties that arise can seldom be separated from the parent form and from other varieties, until they vary also in the elements of reproduction. Thousands of varieties probably revert to the parent type, but if at last one is produced that breeds only with its own form, we can easily see how a new species might be segregated. As long as varieties interbreed together and with the parent form, it does not seem possible that a new species could be formed by natural selection, excepting in cases of geographical isolation. All the individuals might vary in some one direction, but they could not split up into distinct species whilst they occupied the same area and interbred without difficulty. Before a variety can become permanent, it must be either separated from the others, or have acquired some disinclination or inability to interbreed with them. So long as they interbreed together, the possible divergence

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