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■with these islands, he had on board two sons of native chiefs, who came with him as a guarantee of good faith to parties wishing to trade with them. A specimen of the gold-bearing quartz from Una Point, Mitchell Harbour, in the middle island of the Queen Charlotte Islands, was also brought, which, from an assay made in London, yielded 6317 dwts. 4 grs. of gold to the ton of quartz. Small pieces of gold, varying in size from a grain of wheat to a pigeon's egg, fall out of the rock after blasting. Traces of silver have also been found in the rock.—Ed.
XL—Official Report of the Proceedings of the Exploring Party
under Commander J. C. Prevost, of H.M.S. Virago, sent to
cross the Isthmus of Darien.
Communicated through Sib Roderick I. Murchison.
Read April 24, 1854.
December 16th, 1853.—(Full Moon.) 8.0 P.m. Weighed and steamed from the anchorage of Taboga, near Panama, shaping a course to pass inside the Pearl Islands. 11. Sighted Pacheca, the northernmost of the Pearl Islands. Daylight, off the Farallon Ingles.
Saturday, 17th.—8 A.m. Entered the Gulf of San Miguel, steering midchannel between Points Brava and Garachine to avoid the Buey Shoal, which extends some distance S. of the former. The tide or current was strong against us; general soundings from 6 to 8 fathoms, which deepened as we approached Punta Patino. Passed through the Boca-Chica Passage at lowwater spring-tides; lowest cast 7 fathoms. Entered the harbour of Darien, a magnificent sheet of water, and at 2.30 P.m. anchored in the mouth of the Savana River.
Sunday, ISth.—8.15 A.m. Discovered the ship dragging her anchor, let go small bower and got steam up; brought up outside the river in Darien Harbour with 48 fathoms on each anchor. 10.30. Low water. Weighed and proceeded up the river. In picking up a berth, the ship grounded on a soft mudbank off the right side of the river Savana; laid out kerige, let go small bower, and waited for the tide to flow. 3 P.m. Ship floated, steamed to an anchorage in mid-channel, and moored with swivel, 36 fathoms on each anchor. We were shortly afterwards visited by the authorities from Chapigana, a village situated about 8 miles distant on the S. bank of the Tuyra, containing about 150 inhabitants. These persons, viz. the Gefe Politico and Governor of the province, Don Manuel Borbina, the Alcalde, and Messrs. Hossack and Nelson, Scotchmen, gave us every information in their power of the route we were about to take, and obtained for us all the native assistance we required.
Monday, 19th.—About noon a party in the cutter and gig, with a canoe for the Indians, left the ship fully armed and equipped, with 14 days' provisions.
The latitude and longitude of two principal points being given, viz., Fuerte del Principe, lat. 8° 34' N.,* long. 77" 56' W., and Port Escoces, lat. 8° 50' N., long 77° 41' W., I deemed it better to work out our route as a course and distance, and cut our road accordingly, rather than trust to the uncertainty of the published maps, which appear to differ materially from each other. The survey made by Mr. W. Haydon, acting
* The positions of these places are, according to Mr. Gisborne's recent survey (as laid down in his MS. map), also adopted in an Admiralty Chart, just published, Fuerte del Principe, lat 8° 44' N., long. 78° 8' W., and Port Escoces, lat. 8° 51' .N., long. 77° 36i' W.—Ed.
second-master of this ship, shows the course followed by the boats as far as the islands " Fairfax " and " Eliza," which we reached at 3 P.m., and were joined by two more native guides (hunters) in a small canoe, who promised to accompany the expedition as carriers. Beyond this the Savana forms a reach about 3 miles long in a N.N.W. direction. Its western bank is entirely lost among small islets and other streams running into it, forming a long, shallow mud-bank, the channel being apparently on the eastern side, where, at halftide, we found 5 falhoms. At 3-45 P.m. we were abreast of a point opening into a straight reach, and beyond it a conspicuous hill was visible, which our guides named Periaki, estimated by us at about 300 feet in height; farther than this there were no hills. Following this reach about 3 miles, the river suddenly narrowed to 60 yards, taking a sharp turn towards the N.E., bringing Periaki before us; thence the turns of the river became sharp and tortuous, our soundings giving only 1 fathom, and the banks consisting of mangrovetrees and swampy land. 5 P.m. Reached the mouth of the Lara, the Savana running N.N.W. about 30 yards wide, its turnings sharp and stream sluggish; about one mile above this, the eastern side began to assume banks, w ith large trees, the western side still swampy. 5'30 P.m. Abreast of Matumaganti, a small stream on the W. bank. A mile above this, our guide pointed out a spot on the same bank said to have been in former days the Spanish settlement of Fuerte del Principe; the absence of forest trees, and the presence of brushwood and young shrubs, was the only indication we could perceive. A short distance beyond this, as the sun had gone down, we were glad to stop for the night at an old rancho on the western bank, the boats now only just afloat in the middle of the stream.
Tuesday, 20M.—Taking advantage of the flowing tide, we passed a small stream on the W. bank, by our guide called " La Villa." This was about a mile from our rancho; and half a mile higher up we were stopped by falls and rocks crossing the river diagonally in several places. We had now ascended the river about 22 miles from its mouth; the tide appears to flow as high as this point, but only for half an hour; this obliged me to land the party here, and unload the boats. In addition to a tent, a large rancho was provided on the E. bank of the river, and the stores and provisions were left in charge of Mr. Hornby, midshipman, with a petty officer and twelve men, all well armed. During this short detention I ascended the river, accompanied by Mr. Kennish, a volunteer, in a piragua, which had to be carried over the various falls abounding at this point, called by our canoemen Point Chepo, some Indians of that tribe having once settled there. Alternately walking along the banks and poling in the canoe, we ascended with some difficulty about 3 miles, when the river became so winding, shallow, and blocked up with fallen trees, &c, that we were obliged to return. We were told that in the month of July we could have ascended 2 days' journey until we reached its source. Its banks assumed a more perfect form, and the debris collected on the overhanging branches of the trees gave evident signs of the height and rapidity with which the stream runs during the floods of the rainy season. On my return to Rancho No. 1, I found all our party equipped and ready for a start, with the exception of the two native volunteers of the previous night; their hearts had failed them, and they remained behind with their countrymen, the huntsmen.
Mr. Kennish had orders to steer N.N.E., compass in hand, and myself and Mr. Inskip, acting-master, with small axes to mark the trees, the latter carrying also a compass to check Mr. Kennish. Lieut. Moore and Mr. Gordon, mate, measured the road. We left No. 1 Rancho about 2 P.m. on the 20th, and on
Wednesday, list, we were able to start early, cutting our way through the bush. Halted at a large cuipa-tree, upon which we cut " Virago," and commenced measuring with a line, one chain in length, which we continued until we returned South again. Many monkeys were seen, and some shot: they made a savoury meal for our guides.
Not tar from Virago tree we discovered the remains of a well, and near it several pieces of earthenware jars, &c, said by our Indian interpreter to be the work of some Indians. Encamped this night at Rancho No. 3, estimating our distance at nearly 3J miles from the boats.
Thursday, 22nd.—At our first halt a native climbed a tree, whence he saw over the dense forest "a white space like a river, but no hills."
The largest water-course we crossed to-day, with but little water in it. All the guides, with Pedro (interpreter), exclaimed it was the Lara. Encamped at Rancho No. 4, having travelled over 219 chains, 2| miles, at 80 chains to the mile. While the rancho was being built I returned about three quarters of a mile to examine what I supposed to be a river we had passed on our left hand, but it proved only a small stream. The cutting this day was heavy. As yet we have seen neither snakes, tigers, nor any ferocious animals.
Friday, 23rd.— Our work did not commence as early as usual; the cutting was through thick underwood and stunted shrubs, which made it more difficult to get ahead. The supply of water was less plentiful. Soon after noon a tiger (jaguar) approached very close to us, btit quickly made of}'. Two turkeys were shot. Tracks of the wild hog, and also of a large animal called the tapir, were seen near the streams.
Encamped for the night at No. 5 Rancho, having progressed 208 chains. From a tree level land was seen ahead, but no mountains.
Saturday, 24th.—We struck on a considerable river flowing S.E., and built our 6th Rancho on its other bank, making this day 249 chains. We here missed the fine leaves of the palm, which appears never to grow in wet, swampy land, but in its place is found another species, with thorns, by no means so useful. A fine deer passed close to me to-day, and many birds of beautiful plumage were seen. Pedro, our Indian interpreter, said Indians came up this river, for he saw bamboo-trees, &c, cut through, which otherwise would have obstructed the passage of a canoe.
Sunday, 25M.—The river we were encamped near, though at present containing but little water, is evidently a rapid stream when the freshes come down. Here we had the first intimation of being in the territory of the Indians of the interior, three shots during the day being distinctly heard to the northwestward, which our natives immediately said were fired by Indian hunters.
Monday, 26th.—Our road lay through low, swampy, unpleasant ground, as on the other side of the river, for about $ mile, then over several streams to undulating ground, from 50 to 60 feet high, on which the wood was more open and breeze very pleasant, leaving higher ground sometimes on our left, at others on our right. On the slope of a pleasant hill we encamped for the night at No. 7 Rancho, having gone 185 chains. On the summit of this hill one of the officers climbed part of the way up a tree, and saw a similar hill N.N.E., so that we were crossing over a range of hills varying from 50 to 60 feet high, running in a N.N.E. direction ; this being the highest land we have yet been on.
Tuesday, 271/1.—Some rain fell during the night, but not sufficient to annoy us. Pioneers started first, as usual, passing over the same kind of undulating hilly ground for 36 chains, which brought us to a nice stream running to the eastward. Here we fell in with the certain tracks of Indians, for the first time, pronounced by Pedro to be the bare feet of men, a child or children, and a dog, both towards the E. and W.; the most recent towards the E. The trees were the finest this day I have yet seen, and well grown; the mahogany, fustic, caoutchouc, and the tree of which the natives make their canoes, most abundant. We met also the wild-lime, which quite perfumed the air; also several most brilliant flowers of the fuchsia kind. At the foot of the last of