The increasing interest attached to all that part of the American Continent situated within and near the tropics, has suggested the publication of the present edition of Humboldt's celebrated work, as a portion of the SCIENTIFIC LIBRARY. Prior to the travels of Humboldt and Bonpland, the countries described in the following narrative were but imperfectly known to Europeans. For our partial acquaintance with them we were chiefly indebted to the early navigators, and to some of the followers of the Spanish Conquistadores.
I shall commence this chapter by a description of Spanish Guiana (Provincia de la Guyana), which is a part of the ancient Capitania general of Caracas. Since the end of the sixteenth century three towns have successively borne the name of St. Thomas of Guiana. The first was situated opposite to the island of Faxardo, at the confluence of the Carony and the Orinoco, and was destroyed* by the Dutch, under the command of Captain Adrian Janson, in 1579. (* The first of the voyages undertaken at Raleigh's expense was in 1595; the second, that of Laurence Keymis, in...
A noted English lawyer-author has declared that the twelfth chapter of Ecclesiastes is the final word of the
world's philosophy; that no ancient or modern thinker has uttered a profounder word. And in the seventh verse
of that chapter it reads, "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God
who gave it.
The present work is the outcome of two lines of study pursued, with more or less interruption from other
studies, for about thirty years. It will be observed that the book has two themes, as different in character as the
themes for voice and piano in Schubert's "Frühlingsglaube," and yet so closely related that the one is needful
for an adequate comprehension of the other.
This tale is founded upon two sagas, which have been translated literally and without attempt to accord their
discrepancies by York Powell and Vigfussen in their invaluable Origines Icelandicae. As well as those
versions I have had another authority to help me, in Laing's Sea-Kings of Norway. I have blent the two
accounts into one, and put forward the result with this word of explanation, which I hope will justify me in the
treatment I have given them.