Juan de Carthagena placed in the stocks
Juan de Carthagena placed in the stocks.

A painful incident now occurred. During a council which was held on board the flag-ship, a sharp dispute arose, and Juan de Carthagena, who affected to treat the Captain-general with contempt, having answered him with pride and insolence, Magellan felt obliged to arrest him with his own hand, and to have him put in the stocks, an instrument made of two pieces of wood placed one upon the other and pierced with holes, in which were placed the legs of the sailor who was to be punished. The other captains remonstrated loudly with Magellan against a punishment which was too degrading for a superior officer, and Carthagena in consequence was simply put under arrest, and guarded by one of the captains. To the calms now succeeded rain, tempests, and heavy squalls, which obliged the vessels to lie-to. During these storms the navigators several times witnessed an electric phenomenon of which the cause was not then known, but which they considered an undoubted sign of the protection of heaven, and which even at the present day is known by the name of St. Elmo's fire. Once past the equinoctial line—a passage which does not at that time seem to have been celebrated by the grotesque ceremony of baptism which is in vogue at the present day—they steered for Brazil, where, on the 13th of December, 1519, the fleet cast anchor in the magnificent port of Santa Lucia, now known under the name of Rio Janeiro. This was not, however, the first time that this bay had been seen by Europeans, as was long believed. Since the year 1511 it had been known under the name of Bahia do Cabo Frio. It had been visited also, four years before Magellan's arrival, by Pero Lopez, and seems to have been frequented since the commencement of the sixteenth century by mariners from Dieppe who, inheritors of the passion for adventurous navigation of their ancestors the North-men, roamed over the world, and founded small establishments or factories in all directions. Here the Spanish expedition procured cheaply, in exchange for looking-glasses, pieces of ribbon, scissors, hawks' bells or fish-hooks, a quantity of provisions, amongst which Pigafetta mentions pine-apples, sugar-canes, sweet potatoes, fowls, and the flesh of the Anta, which is thought to be the tapir.

The account given in the same narrative of the manners of the inhabitants is sufficiently curious to be repeated. "The Brazilians are not Christians," he says, "but no more are they idolaters, for they worship nothing; natural instinct is their only law." This is an interesting fact, and a singular avowal for an Italian of the sixteenth century, deeply imbued with superstition; it offers one more proof that the idea of the Divinity is not innate, as some theologians have imagined. "These natives live to a great age, they go entirely naked, and sleep in cotton nets called hammocks, suspended by the two ends to beams. As to their boats, called canoes, each is hollowed out of the single trunk of a tree and can hold as many as forty men. They are anthropophagi (cannibals), but only on special occasions, and scarcely ever eat any but their enemies taken in battle. Their dress of ceremony is a kind of vest made of paroquets' feathers, woven together, and so arranged that the large wing and tail-feathers form a sort of girdle round their loins, which gives them a whimsical and ridiculous appearance."

We have already said that the feather cloak was in use on the shores of the Pacific, among the Peruvians; it is curious to ascertain that it was worn equally by the Brazilians. Some specimens of this singular garment may be seen at the exhibition of the Ethnographical Museum. This was not however the only ornament of these savages; they suspended little stone cylinders from three holes pierced in the lower lip, a custom which is common among many of the Oceanic people, and which may be compared with our fashion of ear-rings. These people were extremely credulous and of good disposition and thus, as Pigafetta says, they could easily have been converted to Christianity, for they assisted in silence, and with gravity, at the mass which was said on shore, a remark that Alvarez Cabral had already made.

The Coast of Brazil
The Coast of Brazil.

After remaining thirteen days in this place, the squadron continued its route to the south, coasting along the shore, and arrived at 34° 40' of south latitude in a country where flowed a large river of fresh water. It was the La Plata. The natives, called Charruas, were so frightened at the sight of the vessels that they hastily took refuge in the interior of the country, carrying with them all their valuables, and it was impossible to overtake any of them. It was in this country that four years previously, Juan Diaz de Solis had been massacred by a tribe of Charruas, armed with that terrible engine which is still in use at the present day among the gauchos of the Argentine Republic, the bolas, which are metal balls fastened to the two ends of a long leather thong, called a lasso.