A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels - Volume 05 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 739 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels.


Account of the Native Tribes inhabiting the southern extremity of South America [119].

[Footnote 119:  This supplementary section or appendix is added to the second volume of Molina, apparently by the English translator, and is said to be chiefly extracted from the description of Patagonia by Falkner.  As the subject is new and interesting, we have been induced to extend somewhat beyond the rigid letter of a collection of voyages and travels.  The picture of man in varied circumstances of savage life, is one of the most important pieces of information to be derived from a collection such as that we have undertaken and where direct means of communicating that intelligence are unattainable, it is surely better to employ such as on be procured than none.—­E.]

The poet Ercilla has made the name of the Araucanians so famous that it were improper now to change the appellation.  But that denomination properly belongs only to these tribes of the Picunches who inhabit the country of Aranco[120].  The nations or tribes who inhabit the southern extremity of South America are known among themselves by the general names of Moluches and Puelches; the former signifying the warlike people, and the latter the eastern people.

[Footnote 120:  It will easily be seen in the immediate sequel, that Falkner very improperly uses Picunches as a generic term, as it signifies in a limited manner the northern people.  Molina most properly denominates the whole aborigines of Chili on both sides of the Andes, Chilese, as speaking one language, the Chili-dugu; names the tribes of Arauco and those in the same republican confederacy Araucanians; and gives distinct names like Falkner to the allied tribes:  the Puelches, Cunchese, Huilliches, Pehuenches, and others.  Falkner appears to have chosen to denominate the whole from the tribe whose dialect he first became acquainted with; and some others seem to select the Moluches as the parent tribe.—­E.]

The Moluches or warlike people, are divided into the Picunches, or people of the north, the Pehuenches or people of the fine country, and Huilliches or people of the south.  The Picunches inhabit the mountains from Coquimbo to somewhat below St Jago in Spanish Chili.  The Pehuenches border on these to the north, and extend to the parallel of Valdivia.  Both of these are included in history under the name of Araucanians[121].  Their long and obstinate wars with the Spaniards, with the Puelches and with each other, have greatly diminished their numbers; but they have been still more diminished by the havoc which has been made among them by brandy, that curse of the American Indians, for which they have often been known to sell their wives and children, and to engage in savage scenes of civil bloodshed, entailing wide and endless deadly feuds.  The small-pox has nearly completed the work of war and drunkenness, and when Falkner left the country they could hardly muster four thousand men among them all.

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