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called by the Anglo-Americans little crook-back (Petite-Tortue), who communicated so much valuable information to M. Volney. He asserted “ that the children of the Canada Indians were born as white as Europeans; that the adults are darkened by the sun, and the grease and the juices of herbs with which they rub their skin; and that that part of the waist of the females which is perpetually covered is always white".” I have never seen the Canada nations of which the chief of the Miamis speaks; but I can affirm that in Peru, Quito, on the coast of Caraccas, the banks of the Orinoco, and in Mexico, the children are never born white, and that the Indian Caciques, who enjoy a certain degree of ease in their circumstances, and who remain clothed in the interior of their houses, have all the parts of their body (with the exception of the hollow of their hand and the sole of their foot) of the same brownish-red or
* Polney, Tahleau du climat et du Sol des Etats-Unis, vol. ii. p. 435.
+ This account of little crook-back is partly confirmed by Father Gumilla, who says that the Indians remain white for several days after they are born, with the exception of a small spot, acia la parte posterior de la cintura, of an obscure colour. I have seen and examined that spot, says he, repeatedly. “Al nacer aquellos niños son blancos por algunos dias. Nacen los Indiecillos con una mancha acia la parte posterior de la cintura, de color obscuro, con viso de entre morado y pardo, la qual se wadesvaneciendo, al passo que la criatura va perdiendo el color
The Mexicans, particularly those of the Aztec and Otonite race, have more beard than 1 ever saw in any other Indians of South America, Almost all the Indians in the neighbourhood of the capital wear small mustachios; and this is even a mark of the tributary cast. These mustachios, which modern travellers have also found among the inhabitants of the north-west coast of America, are so much the more curious, as celebrated naturalists have left the question undetermined, whether the Americans have naturally no beard and no hair on the rest of their bodies, or whether they pluck them carefully out. Without entering here into physiological details, I can affirm that the Indians who inhabit the torrid zone of S uth Ame1ica have generally some beard; and that this beard increases when they shave themselves, of which we have seen examples in the mi si ns of the capuchins of Caripe, where the Indian sextons wish to resemble the monks their mas ers. But many individuals are born entirely without beard or hair on their bodies. M. de Gale n \, in the account of the last Spa
nish expedition to the Straits of Magellan f, informs us, that there are many old men among the Patagonians with beards, though they are short, and by no means bushy. On comparing this assertion with the facts collected by Marchand, Mears, and especially M. Volney, in the northern temperate zone, we are tempted to believe that the Indians have more and more beard in proportion to their distance from the equator. However, this apparent want of beard is by no means peculiar to the American race; for many hordes of Eastern Asia, and especially several tribes of African negros, have so little beard that we should be almost tempted to deny entirely its existence. The negros of Congo and the Caribs, two eminently robust races, and frequently of a colossal stature, prove that to look upon a beardless chin as a sure sign of the degeneration and physical weakness of the human species is a mere physiological dream. We forget that all which has been observed in the Caucasian race does not equally apply to the Mongol or American race, or to the African negros. The Indians of New Spain, those at least subject to the European domination, generally attain a pretty advanced age. Peaceable cultivators, and collected these six hundred years in villages, they are not exposed to the accidents of the wandering life of the hunters and warriors of the Mississipi and the savannas of the Rio Gila. Accustomed to uniform nourishment of an almost entirely vegetable nature, that of their maize and cereal gramina, the Indians would undoubtedly attain a very great longevity if their constitution were not weakened by drunkenness. Their intoxicating liquors are rum, a fermentation of maize and the root of the jatropha, and especially the wine of the country, made of the juice of the agave americana, called pulpue. This last liquor, of which we shall have occasion to speak in the following book, is even nutritive, on account of the undecomposed sugar which it contains. Many Indians addicted to pulque take for a long time very little solid nourishment. When taken with moderation it is very salutary, and by fortifying the stomach, assists the functions of the gastric system. The vice of dunkenness is, however, less general among the Indians than is generally believed. Those Europeans who have travelled to the east of the Alleghany mountains, between the Ohio and the . . issoury, will with difficulty believe that, in the forests of Guiana, and on the banks of the Orinoco, we saw Indians who shewed an aversion for the brandy which we made them taste. There are several Indian tribes, very sober, whose fermented beverages are too weak to intoxicate. In New Spain drunkenness is most common among the Indians who inhabi: the valley of Mexico, and the environs of Puebla and Tlascala, wherever the maguey or agave are cultivated on a great scale. The police in the city of Mexico sends round tumbrils, to collect the drunkards to be found stretched out in the streets. These Indians, who are treated like dead bodies, are carried to the principal guard-house. In the morning an iron ring is put round their ancles, and they are made to clear the streets for three days. On letting them go on the fourth day, they are sure to find several of them in the course of the week. The excess of liquors is also very injurious to the health of the lower people in the warm countries on the coast which grow sugar-cane. It is to be hoped that this evil will diminish, as civilization makes more progress among a cast of men whose bestiality is not much different from that of the brutes. Travellers who merely judge from the physiognomy of the Indians are tempted to believe that it is rare to see old men among them. In fact, without consulting parish registers, which in warm regions are devoured by the termites every twenty or thirty years, it is very difficult to form any idea of the age of Indians: they themselves (I allude to the poor labouring Indian) are completely ignorant of it. Their head never becomes grey. It is infinitely more rare to find all Indian than a negro with grey hairs, and the want of beard gives the former a continual air of youth *. The skin of the Indians is also less
blanco, y adduiriendo el suyo natural. Esta seña o mancha es cierta, y cosa que tengo vista, y examinada repetidas vices : suta, natio es poco inas, o menos del espacio que occup un peso duro de nueva fabrica—G unilla, Qrinoco tou, rado. Vol. i. p. 82. 1 , ans. * Winje al Estrecho de Mugellunes, p. 331,