Page:The food of the Gods - A Popular Account of Cocoa.djvu/173

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"THE FOOD OF THE GODS."

the republics and their unstable governments, its cultivation has gone back rather than forward during the past decade. With better administration and settled peace, great developments might easily be achieved. The British Royal Mail Steam Packet Company provides a good fortnightly service to England.

In early times the Jesuit missionaries encouraged the natives to form small plantations on the borders of the river Orinoco, and Father Gumilla, in his "History of the Orinoco" says: "I have seen in these plains forests of wild cacao-trees, laden with bunches of pods, supplying food to an infinite multitude of monkeys, squirrels, parrots, and other animals."

The name of "Soconosco" cocoa is still a guarantee of excellent quality. This district in Guatemala was in bygone days so noted for its cacao that the whole crop was monopolized for the use of the Spanish Court. In Central America, as in other countries, the Spaniards gathered more solid riches from the cacao than from the gold mines they hoped to discover.

British and Dutch Guiana produced but little