Red Crosse River

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(Sir Walter Raleigh's Voyage to Guiana, edited by Sir R. Schomburgk, and printed for the Hakluyt Society, 1848.)

On 6 February, 1595, Sir Walter Raleigh left England with the object of exploring the country of Guiana, and with his "owne shippe and a small barke of Captaine Crosses onely" he arrived at Trinidad on 22 March. Here he met with Spaniards who "vaunted of Guiana and of the riches thereof."

Hearing that the Spanish officer in command of the garrison was one Berreo who, the year before, had treacherously ambushed and killed eight English sailors, he made a surprise attack, routed the garrison and captured Berreo. He was then joined by two more ships from England, and immediately set sail for the mainland; from Berreo he obtained more information about Guiana (which then included what are now the countries of Venezuela and the three Guianas) and then told Berreo of his in­tention to visit the country, whereat Berreo was "stricken into a great melancholic" and vainly tried to dissuade him.

Reaching the westerly outlets of the Orinoco, after failing to find an entrance for his ships he anchored them and proceeded to grope for a way into the river in open boats. It is at this point that we will take up the narrative in the words (and spelling) of his own account entitled "The Discoverie of Guiana," which is regarded as one of the most brilliant descriptions of adventure and travel of the many that appeared in the great days of Queen Elizabeth.

but this it chanced that entring into a river (which bicause it had no name we called the river of the Red crosse, ourselves being the first Christians that ever came therein) the 22 of May we were rowing up the same, we espied a smal Canoa with three Indians, which (by the swiftness of my barge, rowing with eight oares) I over-tooke ere they could crosse the river, the rest of the people shadowed under the thicke wood gazed on with a doubtfull conceit what might befall those three which we had taken: But when they perceived that we offered them no violence, neither entred their Canoa with any of ours, nor took out of the Canoa any of theirs, they then began to shew themselves on the banks side, and offred to traffique with us for such things as they had. ... As we abode there a while, our Indian Pilot called Ferdinando would needs go ashore to their village to fetch some fruites, and to drinke of their artificiall wines, and also to see the place and to know the Lord of it against another time, and tooke with him a brother of his which he had with him in the journey: when they came to the village of these people, the Lord of the Hand offred to lay hands on them, purposing to have slaine them both, yeelding for reason that this Indian of ours had brought a strange nation into their territorie to spoyle and destroy them: But the Pilot being quicke and of a disposed body slipt their fingers, and ran into the woods, and his brother being the better footman of the two, recovered the creekes mouth, where we stated in our barge, crying out that his brother was slaine, with that we set hands on one of them that was next us, a very old man, and brought him into the barge, assuring him that if we had not our Pilot againe, we would presently cut off his head.

This old man being resolved that he should paie the losse of the other, cried out to those in the woods to save Ferdinando our Pilot, but they followed him not-withstanding, and hunted after him upon the foote with their Deere dogs, and with so maine a crie that all .If the woods eckoed with the shoute they made, but at last this poore chased Indian recovered the river side, and got upon a tree, and as we were coasting, leaped down and swam to the barge haife dead with feare;

but our good hap was, that we kept the other old Indian, which we handfasted to redeeme our Pilot withall, for being naturall of those rivers, we assured ourselves he knew the way better than any stranger could, and indeed, but for this chance I thinke we had never founde the way either to Guiana, or back to our ships: for Ferdinando after a few dates knew nothing at all, nor which way to turn, yea and many times the old man himseife was in great doubt which river to take. Those people which dwell in these broken Hands and drowned lands are generally called Tiuitiuas, there are of them two sorts, the one called Ciawani, and the other Waraweete.                              :

The great river of Orenoque. or Baraquan hath nine branches which fall out on the north side of his owne maine mouth; on the south side it hath seven other fallings into the sea, so it desemboketh by 16 armes in al, between Hands and broken ground, but the Hands are verie great, manie of them as bigge as the Isle of Wight and bigger, and many lesse: from the first branch on the north to the last of the south it is at lest 100 leagues, so as the rivers mouth is no lesse than 300 miles wide at his entrance into the sea, which I take to be farre bigger than that of the Amazones: al those that inhabite in the mouth of this river upon the severall north branches are these Tiuitiuas, of which there are two chief e Lords which have continuallwarres one with the other. ...    i

These Tiuitiuas1 are a verie goodlie 'people and verie 1 Now ca.Ued.Waraus.—ED. : .

valiant, arid have the most manlie speech and most deliberate that ever I heard of what nation soever. In the summer they have houses on the ground as in other places: In the winter they dwell upon the trees, where they build very artificiall townes and villages: for betweene May and September the river of Orenoke riseth thirtie foote upright, and then are those Hands overflowen twentie foote high above the levell of the ' ground, saving some few raised grounds in the middle of them: and for this cause they are enforced to live in this maner.

After we departed from the port of these Ciawam, we passed up the river with the flood, and ancored the ebbe, and in this sort we went onward. The third date that we entred the river our Galley came on ground, and stuck so fast, as we thought that even there our discovery had ended, and that we must have left 60 of our men to have inhabited like rookes upon the trees with those nations: but the next morning, after we had cast out all her ballast, with tugging and bawling to and fro, we got her afloate, and went on: At fower dates ende wee fell into as goodlie a river as ever I beheld, which was called the great Amana, which ran more directlie without windings and turnings than the other. 

Here they lost the tides and consequently had to row hard against a very strong stream. Raleigh was mistaken as to the name of the river; it was the Manamo or Macareo, the Amana being another river. (See Map).

When three dates more were overgone, our companies began to despaire, the weather being extreame hot, the river bordered with verie high trees that kept away the aire, and the currant against us every day stronger than other. . . . The farther we went on (our victuall decreasing and the aire breeding great fatntnes) we grew weaker and weaker when we had most need of strength and abilitie, for howerlie the river ran more violently than other against us, and the barge, wherries, and ships bote of Captaine afford, and Captain Calfield, had spent all their provisions, so as wee were brought into despaire and discomfort, had we not perswaded all the companie that it was but onlie one dates work more to attaine the lande where we should be releeved of all we wanted, and if we returned that we were sure to starve by the way, and that the worlde would also laugh us to scorn. On the banks of these rivers were divers sorts of fruits good to eate, flowers and trees of that varietie as were sufficient to make ten volumes of herbals, we releeved our selves manie times with the fruits of the countrey, and sometimes with foule and fish: we sawe birds of all colours, some carnation, some crimson, orenge tawny, purple, greene, watched, and of all other sorts both simple and mixt, as it was unto us a great good passing of the time to beholde them, besides the reliefe we found by killing some store of them with our fouling peeces, without which, having little or no bread and lesse drink, but onely the thick and troubled water of the river, we had been in a very hard case.

Our old Pilot of the Ciawani (whom, as I said before we tooke to redeeme Ferdinando) told us that if we would enter a branch of the river on the right hand with our barge and wherries, and leave the Galley at ancor the while in the great river, he would bring us to a towne of the Arwacas where we should find store of bread, hens, fish, and of the countrey wine, and per" swaded us that departing from the Galley at noone, we might returne ere night. I was very glad to heare

this speech, and presently tooke my barge, with eight musketiers, Captain Gijfoyds wherrie, with himseife and foure musketiers, and Captaine Calfield whith his wherrie and as manie, and so we entred the mouth of this river, and bicause we were perswaded that it was so neere, we tooke no victuall with us at all; when we had rowed three howers, we marvelled we sawe no signe of any dwelling, and asked the Pilot where the town was, he told us a little farther: after three howers more the Sun being almost set, we began to suspect that he led us that waie to betraie us, for he confessed that those Spaniards which fled from Trinedado, and also those that remained with Carapana in Emeria, were ioyned togither in some village upon that river.

But when it grew towardes night, and we demaunding where the place was, he tolde us but fower reaches more; when we had rowed fower and fower, we saw no signe, and our poore men even hart broken, and tired, were ready to give up the ghost; for we had now come from the Galley near forty miles.

At the last we determined to hang the Pilot, and if we had well knowen the way backe again e by night, he had surely gone, but our owne necessities pleaded sufficiently for his safetie: for it was as darke as pitch, and the river began so to narrow it seife, and the trees to hang over from side to side, as we were driven with arming swordes to cut a passage thorow those branches that covered the water.

We were very desirous to finde this towne hoping of a feast, bicause we made but a short breakfast aboord the Galley in the morning, and it was now eight a clock at night, and our stomacks began to gnaw apace; but whether it was best to returne or go on, we began to doubt, suspecting treason in the Pilot more and more;

but the poore old Indian ever assured us that it was but a little farther, and but this one turning, and that turning, and at last about one a clocke after midnight we saw a light and rowing towards it we heard the dogs of the village. 

When we landed we found few people, for the Lord of that place was gone with divers Canoas above 400 miles of, upon a journey towards the head of the Orenoque to trade for gold. ... In his house we had good store of bread, fish, hens, and Indian drinke, and so rested that night, and in the morning after we had traded with such of his people as came down, we returned towards our Galley, and brought with-us some quantity of bread, fish, and hens.

On both sides of this river, we passed the most beauti-full countrie that ever mine eies beheld: and whereas all that we had seen before was nothing but woods, prickles, bushes, and thornes, heere we beheld plaines of twenty miles in length, the grasse short and greene, and in divers parts groves of trees by themselves, as if they had been by all the art and labour in the world so made of purpose: and stil as we rowed, the Deere came downe feeding by the waters side, as if they had been used to a keepers call. Upon this river there were great store of fowie, and of many sorts; we saw in it divers sorts of strange fishes, and of marvellous bignes, but for Lagartos (alligators) it exceeded, for there were thousands of those uglie serpents, and the people call it for the abundance of them the river of Lagartos, in their language. I had a Negro a very proper young fellow, that leaping out of the Galley to swim in the mouth of this river, was in all our sights taken and devoured with one of these Lagartos. In the mean while our companies in the Galley thought we had beene

all lost (for we promised to retume before night) and sent the Lions Whelp ships bote with Captaine Whiddon to follow us up the river, but the next day after we had rowed up and downe some fower score miles we returned, and went on our way up the great river. . . . The 15 day we discovered a farre off the mountaines of Guiana to our great joy, and towards the evening had a slent of a northerly winde that blew very strong, which brought us in sight of the great river of Orenoque, out of which this river descended wherein we were.

They now reached the main stream of the Orinoco River, where they turned westwards and went some hundred and twenty miles upstream, in the country now called Venezuela, to Port Morequito, now San Miguel. There they remained some days collecting information about the country and the prospects of gold until, with the starting of the rains the river began to rise; and his party com­plaining of the dirty state to which they were reduced after a month's absence from their ships, Raleigh decided to return.

On their return journey they went down another outlet of the Orinoco farther to the eastward, the Capuri, and had some difficulty in finding the ships. However, they reached them in safety and sailed for home.

Raleigh eventually met his death on the scaffold in 1618, shortly after his return from a second and very unsuccessful and tragic expedition to the Orinoco, in which his son was killed in a skirmish with the Spaniards.

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