« AnteriorContinuar »
tered, and the temperature increased till 7,500 feet was attained, whert 40° were attained, being the same as had been experienced at 1,500 feet. It then decreased to 34o at 8,800 feet, and then increased slowly to 37o at 11,000 feet, a temperature which had been experienced at the heights of 8,500, 6,500, and 3,000 feet in ascending. After the great injury to the balloon on the 29th of September, in addition to the repairs it had previously undergone, Mr. Coxwell did not consider it, after the additional rough usage in the last two voyages, safe for extreme high ascents, and determined to build a new one, which he did, capable of containing 10,000 cubic feet more gas than the old one, so that, if need be, two observers could ascend together to the height of five miles. A new balloon, however, needs trying in low ascents until it proves gas-tight before it can be used for great elevations; and, on June 13, it was therefore started on a small ascent from the Crystal Palace, at 7 o'clock-the sky cloudless, and the air perfectly clear, except in the direction of London. An elevation of 1,000 feet was reached in 14 minute, 3,000 feet at 7h. 8m., when the balloon descended to 2,300 feet, and then reascended to 3,400, when, after a slight dip, it again ascended to 3,550 feet, the highest point by 7h. 28m., and then, after some oscillations, began its downward course at 7h. 50m. from 2,800 feet, reaching the ground at East Horndon, five miles from Brentwood, at Sh. 14m.—the remarkable feature in this voyage being that, below 1,800 feet elevation, there was scarcely any change of temperature until the earth was reached. This fact of no change in the temperature of the air at the time of sunset was very remarkable, for it indicated that, if such be a law, the law of decrease of temperature with increase of elevation may be reversed at night for some distance from the earth. June 20, the balloon left Derby at 17 minutes past 6 p. m., and descended near Newark. June 27, the balloon ascended from the Crystal Palace at th. 33}m.—the sky cloudy, wind west. The descent was made on Romney Marsh, 5 miles from the shore. These several trial trips of the new balloon were made, and it was gradually becoming gas-tight, when its lamentable destruction at Leicester took place. The mayor of that town has recently presided over a meeting for the purpose of collecting subscriptions to assist Mr. Coxwell to rebuild a new balloon; and we concur in Mr. Glaisher's wish that the town of Leicester and the Foresters' Society will soon remove the stigma resting upon them. Mr. Coxwell, since then, has had recourse to the old balloon, which he had repaired as best he could, and the next and last ascent of which Mr. Glaisher had to speak was made with it, on August 29, from the Crystal Palace, at 4h. 6m. The difference between the temperatures of the air and those of the dew-point in this ascent was rather remarkable. The most important point in the past year's experiments are that, though the law of decrease of temperature under ordinary circumstances in the summer months is pretty well determined, we cannot say such a law holds good throughout the year; nor can we say that the laws which are in force during the day will be in force at night. In carrying out these experiments Mr. Glaisher said he had freely given up all his leisure, and that Mr. Coxwell had done the same in a most unselfish manner. Indeed, had it not been for the generous spirit in which Mr. Coxwell had entered into these experiments, they never could have been made, except at a multiple of the cost that had been incurred.
THE ABORIGINAL INHABITANTS
THE CALIFORNIAN PENINSULA,
AS GIVEN BY
JACOB BAEGERT, A GERMAN JESUIT MISSIONARY, WHO LIVED THERE SEVENTEEN
YEARS DURING THE SECOND HALF OF THE LAST CENTURY.
TRANSLATED AND ARRANGED FOR THE SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION BY CHARLES RAU, OF NEW YORK CITT.
INTRODUCTION. WAEN, in 1767, by a decree of Charles III, all members of the order of the Jesuits were banished from Spain and the transatlantic provinces subject to that realm, those Jesuits who superintended the missions established by the Spaniards since 1697 in Lower California were compelled to leave their Indian converts, and to transfer their spiritual authority to a number of friars of the Franciscan order. One of the banished Jesuits, a German, who had spent seventeen years in the Californian peninsula, published, after his return to his native country, a book which contains a description of that remote part of the American continent, and gives also quite a detailed account of its aboriginal inhabitants, with whom the author had become thoroughly acquainted during the many years devoted to their conversion to Christianity. This book, which is now very scarce in Germany, and, of course, still more so in this country, bears the title : Account of the American Peninsula of California ; with a twofold Appendix of False Řeports. Written by a Priest of the Society of Jesus, who lived there many years past. Published with the Permission of my Superiors. Mannheim, 1773.*
Modesty, or perhaps other motives, induced the author to remain anonymous, but with little success; for his name, which was Jacob Baegert, is sometimes met with in old catalogues, in connexion with the title of his book. That his home was on the Upper Rhine he states himself in the text, but further par ticulars relative to his private affairs, before or after his missionary labors in California, have not come to my knowledge. He does not even mention over which of the fifteen missions existing at his time on the peninsula he presided, but merely says that he had lived in California under the twenty-fifth degree, and twelve leagues distant from the Pacific coast, opposite the little bay of St. Magdalen. On the map accompanying his work there are two missionary stations marked under that latitude-the mission of St. Aloysius and that of the
* Nachrichten von der Amerlkanischen Halbinsel Californien: mit einem zweyfacbes Anhang Falscher Nachrichten. Geschrieben von einem Priester der Gesellschaft Jesa, welcher lang darinn diese letztere Jahr gelebet hat. Mit Erlaubnuss der Oberen. Mannheim, 1773.
Seven Dolors, (Septem Dolorum) of which the first named evidently was his place of residence.
The work in question constitutes a small octavo volume of 358 pages, and is divided into three parts. The first division (of which I will give a short synopsis in this introduction) treats of the topography, physical geography, geology, and natural history of the peninsula; the second part gives an account of the inhabitants, and the third embraces a short but interesting history of the missions in Lower California. In the appendices to the work the author refutes certain exaggerated reports that had been published concerning the Californian peninsula, and he is particularly very severe upon Venegas' “ Noticia de la California,” (Madrid, 1757, 3 vols.,) a work which is also translated into the English, French, and German languages. He accuses the Spanish author of having given by far too favorable, and, in many instances, utterly false accounts of the country, its productions and inhabitants, which is rather a noticeable circumstance, since Venegas is considered as an authority in matters relating to the ethnology of California.
While reading the work of the German missionary, I was struck with the amount of ethnological information contained in it, especially in the second part, which is exclusively devoted to the aboriginal inhabitants, as stated before ; and upon conversing on the subject with some friends, members of the American Ethnological Society, they advised me to translate for publication if not the whole book, at least that part of it which relates to the native population, of which we know, comparatively, perhaps less than of any other portion of the indigenous race of North America. As there is a growing taste for the study of ethnology manifested in this country, and, consequently, a tendency prevailing to collect all materials illustrating the former condition of the American aborigines in different parts of the continent, I complied with the request of my friends, and devoted my hours of leisure to the preparation of this little work, supposing that the account of a man who lived among those Californians. a century ago, when their original state had been but little changed by intercourse with Europeans, might be an acceptable addition to our stock of ethnological knowledge.
I have to state, however, that the following pages are not a translation in the strict sense of the word, but a reproduction of the work only as far as it refers to ethnological matters. The reasons which induced me thus to deviate from the usual course of a translator are obvious; for even that portion of the text which treats of the native race contains many things that are not in the least connected with ethnology, the good father being somewhat garrulous and rather fond of moralizing and enlarging upon religious matters, as might be expected from one of his calling; and, although he places the natives of the peninsula exceedingly low in the scale of human development, he takes, nevertheless, occasion to draw comparisons between their barbaric simplicity and the over-refined habits of the Europeans, much in the manner of Tacitus, who scizes upon every opportunity to rebuke the luxury and extravagance of his countrymen, while he describes the rude sylvan life of the ancient inhabitants of Germany. My object being simply to rescue from oblivion a number of facts relating to a portion of the American racc, I have omitted all superfluous com-. mentaries indulged in by the author, and, in order to bring kindred subjects: under common heads, I have now and then used some freedom in the arrangement of the matter, which is not always properly linked in the original. Although the second part of the book has chiefly furnished the material for this reproduction, I have transferred to the English text, and inserted in the proper places, all those passages in the other divisions, and even in the two appendices that have a bearing upon ethnology, giving thus unity and completeness to the subject, which induced me to prepare these pages. For the rest I have preserved, so far as feasible, the language of the author. Not
much can be said, however, in favor of the style exhibited in the original, and even the spelling of the words defies all rules of orthography, which were adopted a century ago in the German language; nor is our father unaware of his deficiencies, but honestly states in his preface that “ if his style was none of the smoothest, and his orthography incorrect in some places, the reader might consider that during the seventeen years of his sojourn in California, comprising the period from 1751 to 1768, he hardly ever had conversed in German, and, consequently, almost forgotten the use of his mother language."
Of the peninsula Father Baegert gives a rather woeful account. He describes that region as an arid, mountainous country, covered with rocks and sand, deficient in water, and almost without shade-trees, but abounding in thorny plants and shrubs of various kinds. The sterility of the soil is caused by the scantiness of water. No one,” says the author, “need be afraid to drown himself in water; but the danger of dying from thirst is much greater.” There falls some rain, accompanied by short thunder-storms, during the months of July, August, September, and October, filling the channels worn in the hard ground. Some of these soon become dry after the showers; others, however, hold water during the whole year, and on these and the stagnant water collected in pools and ponds men and beasts have to rely for drink. Of running waters, deserving the name of brooks, there are but six in the country, and of these six only four reach the sea, while the others lose themselves not very far from their sources among rocks and sand. There is nothing to be seen in Lower California that may be called a wood; only a few straggling oaks, pines, and some other kinds of trees unknown in Europe, are met with, and these are confined to certain localities. Shade and material for the carpenter are, therefore, very scarce. The only tree of any consequence is the so-called mesquite; but besides that it always grows quite isolated, and never in groups, the trunk is very low, and the wood so hard that it almost defies the application of iron tools. The author mentions, further, a kind of low Brazil wood, a tree called paloblanco, the bark of which serves for tanning; the palohierro or iron-wood, which is still harder than the mesquite; wild fig trees that bear no fruit; wild willows and barren palms, “all of which would be ashamed to appear beside a European oak or nut-tree.” One little trèe yields an odoriferous gum that was used in the Californian churches as frankincense. But in compensation for the absence of large trees, there is a prodigious abundance of prickly plants, some of a gigantic height, but of little practical use, their soft, spongy stems soon rotting after being cut. Among the indigenous edible productions of the vegetable kingdom are chiefly mentioned the tunas or Indian figs, the aloë, and the pitahayas, of which the latter deserve a special notice as forming an important article of food of the Indians. There are two kinds of this fruit—the sweet and the sour pitahaya. The former is round, as large as a hen's egg, and has a green, thick, prickly shell that covers a red or white flesh, in which the black seeds are scattered like grains of powder. It is described as being sweet, but not of a very agreeable taste without the addition of lemon juice and sugar. There is no scarcity of shrubs bearing this fruit, and from some it can be gathered by hundreds. They become mature in the middle of June, and continue for more than eight weeks. The sour pitahaya, which grows on low, creeping bushes, bristling with long spines, is much larger than the other kind, of excellent taste, but by far less abundant; for, although the shrubs are very plentiful, there is hardly one among a hundred that bears fruit. Of the aloë or mescale, as the Spaniards and Mexicans call it, the fibres are used by the aborigines, in lieu of hemp, for making threads and strings, and its fruit is caten by them.
A very curious portion of the book is that which treats of the animals found in California. The author is evidently not much of a naturalist, and, in classifying animals, he manifests occasionally a sovereign independence that would
shock the feelings of a Blumenbach or Agassiz; yet his remarks, resulting from actual observation, are for the most part correct, and evince undeniably his love of truth. In the list of wild quadrupeds are enumerated the deer, hare, rabbit, fox, coyote, wild cat, skunk, (Sorillo,) leopard, (American panther,) onza, and wild ram. In reference to the last-named animal the author remarks: * Where the chain of mountains that runs lengthwise through the whole peninsula reaches a considerable height, there are found animals resembling our rams in all respects, except the horns, which are thicker, longer, and much more curved. When pursued, these animals will drop themselves from the highest precipices upon their horns without receiving any injury. Their number, however, cannot be great, for I never saw a living specimen, nor the fur of one in the possession of an Indian; but many skins of leopards and onzas."
This animal is doubtless identical with the Rocky Mountain sheep, (Ovis montana.)
The feathered tribe does not seem to be very plentiful in California, since, according to Father Baegert, a person may travel one or two days without seeing other birds but occasionally a filthy vulture, raven, or " bat.” Among the few which he observed are the red-bird, (cardınal) blue-bird, humming-bird, and an “ash-colored bird with a tail resembling that of a peacock and a beautiful tuft on its head;" also wild ducks and a species of swallow, the latter appearing only now and then in small numbers, and therefore considered as extraneous.
There are some small fish found in the waters of California; but they do not amount to much, and during lent the father obtained his supply from the Pacific, distant 12 leagues from his habitation. On the other days of abstinence his meal usually consisted of a "little goat-milk and dry beans, and if a few eggs were added, he cared for nothing else, but considered himself well entertained.”
Under the comprehensive, but not very scientific head of “vermin,” the author enumerates snakes, scorpions, centipedes, huge spiders, toads, wasps, bats, ants, and grasshoppers. These vermin seem to have been a great annoyance to the good missionary, especially the snakes, of which there are about twenty different kinds in California, the rattlesnake being, of course, the most conspicuous among them. This dangerous reptile, which seems to be very numerous in that region, is minutely and correctly described, and, as might be expected, there are also some “snake stories” related. One day when the author was about to shave and took his razors from the upper board of his book-shelf, he discov. ered there, to his horror, a rattlesnake of large size. He received likewise in his new dwelling-house, which was a stone building, frequent visits from scorpions, large centipedes, tarantulas, ants and toads, all precautions being unavailing against the intrusion of these uninvited guests. The grasshoppers are represented as a real public calamity. Migrating from the southern part of the peninsula towards the north, they deluge the country, obscuring the sun by their numbers, and causing a noise that resembles a strong wind. Never deviating from their line of march, they will climb houses and churches encountered during their progress, layivg waste all fields and gardens over which their pernicious train passes.
Of the climate in California the author speaks well, and considers it as both healthy and agreeable. Being only one degree and a half distant from the Tropic of Cancer, he lived, of course, in a hot region, and he remarks with reference to the liigh temperature that some thought the name “California” was a contraction from the Latin words calida fornax, (hot oven,) without vouching, however, for the correctness of the derivation, though he is certain that the appellation is not of Indian origin. The greatest heat begins in the month of July and lasts till the middle of October; but there is every day in the year quite a refreshing wind blowing, which begins at noon, if not sooner, and continues till night. The principal winds are north west and south west; the north