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The Voyage of the Beagle

Rio De Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro -- Excursion north of Cape Frio -- Great Evaporation -- Slavery --
Botofogo Bay -- Terrestrial Planariae -- Clouds on the Corcovado -- Heavy Rain --
Musical Frogs -- Phosphorescent Insects -- Elater, springing powers of -- Blue Haze --
Noise made by a Butterfly -- Entomology -- Ants -- Wasp killing a Spider -- Parasitical
Spider -- Artifices of an Epeira -- Gregarious Spider -- Spider with an unsymmetrical
Web.
APRIL 4th to July 5th, 1832. -- A few days after our arrival I became acquainted with an
Englishman who was going to visit his estate, situated rather more than a hundred miles
from the capital, to the northward of Cape Frio. I gladly accepted his kind offer of
allowing me to accompany him.
April 8th. -- Our party amounted to seven. The first stage was very interesting. The day
was powerfully hot, and as we passed through the woods, everything was motionless,
excepting the large and brilliant butterflies, which lazily fluttered about. The view seen
when crossing the hills behind Praia Grande was most beautiful; the colours were intense,
and the prevailing tint a dark blue; the sky and the calm waters of the bay vied with each
other in splendour. After passing through some cultivated country, we entered a forest,
which in the grandeur of all its parts could not be exceeded. We arrived by midday at
Ithacaia; this small village is situated on a plain, and round the central house are the huts
of the negroes. These, from their regular form and position, reminded me of the drawings
of the Hottentot habitations in Southern Africa. As the moon rose early, we determined to
start the same evening for our sleeping-place at the Lagoa Marica. As it was growing
dark we passed under one of the massive, bare, and steep hills of granite which are so
common in this country. This spot is notorious from having been, for a long time, the
residence of some runaway slaves, who, by cultivating a little ground near the top,
contrived to eke out a subsistence. At length they were discovered, and a party of soldiers
being sent, the whole were seized with the exception of one old woman, who, sooner than
again be led into slavery, dashed herself to pieces from the summit of the mountain. In a
Roman matron this would have been called the noble love of freedom: in a poor negress
it is mere brutal obstinacy. We continued riding for some hours. For the few last miles the
road was intricate, and it passed through a desert waste of marshes and lagoons. The
scene by the dimmed light of the moon was most desolate. A few fireflies flitted by us;
and the solitary snipe, as it rose, uttered its plaintive cry. The distant and sullen roar of
the sea scarcely broke the stillness of the night.
April 9th. -- We left our miserable sleeping-place before sunrise. The road passed
through a narrow sandy plain, lying between the sea and the interior salt lagoons. The
number of beautiful fishing birds, such as egrets and cranes, and the succulent plants
assuming most fantastical forms, gave to the scene an interest which it would not
otherwise have possessed. The few stunted trees were loaded with parasitical plants,
among which the beauty and delicious fragrance of some of the orchideae were most to
be admired. As the sun rose, the day became extremely hot, and the reflection of the light
 
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