RECORD: Caldcleugh, Alexander. 1825. Travels in South America, during the years 1819 - 20 - 21: containing an account of the present state of Brazil, Buenos Ayres, and Chile. 2 vols. London: John Murray. Volume 1
REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by AEL Data 11.2013. RN2
NOTE: This work formed part of the Beagle library.
PRINTED BY C. ROWORTH, BELL YARD,
DURING THE YEARS 1819-20-21
AN ACCOUNT OF THE PRESENT STATE
BRAZIL, BUENOS AYRES, AND CHILE.
BY ALEXANDER CALDCLEUGH, ESQ.
JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET.
IT would only be to follow the example of every writer on South American affairs, since the earliest accounts of Ovalle and Acosta, to state, as a reason for intruding these Travels on the public, the very general interest which is excited with regard to this portion of the New World: an interest, which, if it formerly prevailed, when the country was more imperfectly known, and beyond the reach of foreign commercial adventure, exists at the present moment with redoubled force, owing to this
great field being thrown open to British enterprize by revolutionary changes and the adoption of a liberal and enlightened policy.
The Author has endeavoured to collect every fact which relates to the government, the resources and the prospects of the countries which he visited; and he trusts he has drawn an impartial sketch of every thing which came under his notice.
He gladly avails himself of this opportunity of expressing his sense of the obligations he is under to many excellent friends with whom he became acquainted during his residence in South America—men as much distinguished by their intelligence in public affairs, as by their kindness and hospitality in private life. He cannot refrain from more particularly mentioning the names of Alexander Cunningham, Esq. H. M. Commissioner of Arbitration, and
James Watson, Esq., both of Rio de Janeiro; also that of G. F. Dickson, Esq., late of Buenos Ayres, but now residing in Liverpool; of John Watson, Esq. of Buenos Ayres; and of J. Lawson, Esq., of St. Jago de Chile.
The Engravings are executed by Finden, from drawings made by Mr. W. Daniel, a gentleman well known to all lovers of the fine arts. Many of the sketches were executed by Captain the Hon. William Waldegrave, for whose kindness the Author is happy to make this public acknowledgment.
Departure from England.—Madeira.—Experiment on the Line —Arrival at Rio de Janeiro.—The Bay and its Defences.—The City and Public Building Page 1
Climate.—Thermometer, Barometer, Hygrometer.—Diseases.—Soil.—Fruits, Bananas, Oranges, Fruit of the Passion Flower.—Vegetables.—Coffee, Cocoa.—Tea Plant introduced from China.—Botanical Garden.—Timber for various purposes.—Animal Kingdom, Cattle, Dogs, Tapir, Sloth.— Birds, Humming Birds, Anum.—Reptiles, Snakes and Toads.—Insects, Spiders, Ants, Cochineal Insect.—Fish, Garupa.—The Geological Formation, Organic Remains. 15
Agriculture, Maize, Mandioca, Sugar and Coffee.—Manufactures.—Trade.—Diamonds, Gold and Precious Stones.— Bank of Brazil, Legal Interest.—Value of Land.—Community, State of Society, Amusements and Mode of Life, Marriages and Funerals.—Language, State of Literature.— Public Libraries, Museum, State of the Medical Art.—Religious Feelings and Institution, Superstitions, National Character. 49
VOL. I. b
Population, Indians.—The Negro Race, Numbers and Treatment, Emancipation, Native Tribes.—Emigration, Swiss Colony.— Constitution, Support of the Clergy, Finances, Military and Naval Force.—Political Changes and Prospects 78
Departure for Buenos Ayres.—Maldonado, Pampero.—Montevideo.—Rio de la Plata, Geological Formation.—Political Changes.—The cis-Platine Province forms a Part of Brazil. —Paraguay,—its Dictator.—Yerba, or Tea Tree.—Bonpland, —System of the Dictator.—Arrival at, and Appearance of Buenos Ayres 118
Province of Buenos Ayres.—Its Boundaries and Extent.—Climate.— Diseases.— Rivera.— Minerals.— Meteoric Iron.— Salt.—Botany.—Animals and Birds.—Bones of the Megatherium.—Agriculture, Cattle, Manufactures, Trade, Paraguay Tea.—Internal Commerce and Degree of Prosperity. 141
Individual Comfort, Food, Dress and Houses.—Social Happiness, Theatre and Tertulias.—Particular Customs, Language, University.—Public Library, Publications.—Dean Funes.— Gazettes.—influence of Religion.—Manners of the Inhabitants.—Shades of Difference in the Provinces.—Population, Indians, Slaves.—Executive and Legislative Powers.—Rivadavia and Garcia.—Religious Institutions and Administration of Justice. 168
Revenue.—Public Debt, Internal and External Security.—Attacks of the Indians.—Alliances.—Summary of Events from the year 1810 to the present time. 197
Departure from Buenos Ayres.—Diary of the Journey across the Pampas on Horseback.—Pass the Arroyo de en Medio into the Province of Santa Fé.—Enter the Province of Cordova.—Fall in with the Indians.—Escape from them.—Pursued into the Sierra de Cordova.—Arrive in safety at Estansuela.—Punta de San Luiz.—Salt Lake.—First View of the Great Chain of the Andes.—Arrival at Mendoza. 235
Mendoza.—San Martin.—Passes in the Cordillera.—Dp rture to the Southward.—Cross the River of Mendoza.—Reach the Entrance of the Pass of the Portillo.—Ascent.—Descent to the Valley of Los Punquenos.—Snow Storm.—Confined two days under a large fragment of rock.—Ascend the Second Pass of Lot Punquenos.—Reach the Valley.—Arrive at the first Chilian Habitations.—Mill for the Grinding and Amalgamation of Silver Ores.—Arrival at Santiago, the Capital 285
Extent of Modern Chile.—A portion of it included in the ancient Empire of Peru.—First March of the Spaniards, under Almagro, most disastrous.—Valdivia marches into the Country of the Araucanos, defeated and killed.—The Araucanos unconquered to this day.—The Climate, Soil, Sea Coast, Rivers, Lakes.—Island of Juan Fernandez 323
State of Chilian Agriculture.—Botanical Observations,—Mines, Gold, Silver, and Copper.—Coal.—Internal and External Trade.—Individual and Social Happiness.—Language and Mental Enjoyments.—Public Library.—Visit to the Library of the Augustine Monastery.—Influence of Religion.—Morals and Manners.—Provincialism.—Population. 347
|The Walking Costume of Lime||Frontispiece.|
|View of Botafogo Bay||page 12|
|View of the Lagoa do Freitas||104|
|View of the Great Cbain of the Andes||319|
|View of Quillota||343|
|Crossing the Cordillera on the 1st June. Frontispiece.|
|View of Valparaiso Bay||page 45|
|View of Lima from the Sea||77|
|View of Lima with the Bridge over the Rimac||96|
Departure from England—Madeira—Experiment on the Line —Arrival at Rio de Janeiro—The Bay and its Defences— The City and Public Buildings.
HIS Majesty's ship SUPERB, with a small squadron under the command of Commodore Sir Thomas Hardy, Bart., having been got ready for sea, and the Right Honourable Edward Thornton, Minister at the court of Rio de Janeiro, of whose suite I formed a part, taking his passage on board, we embarked at Plymouth on the 9th September, and were soon carried by a favourable wind across the Bay of Biscay. All my former voyages had merely extended to trips across the Channel in small packets, attended by every sort of inconvenience and unpleasant sensations; but the
VOL. I. B
motion of a ship of the line is so regular and steady, that I escaped the usual introduction to a voyage, seasickness, although the coal-tar with which the timbers of ships are now injected, however effectual against dry-rot, and far from proving unhealthy to the crew, was not very agreeable to the senses.
We arrived in Funchal Roads, Madeira, on the 18th, and stood on and off without coming to an anchor. The island, as it appeared from the ship's deck, for no one went on shore, was extremely picturesque. The town, with the high hills in the back ground, and white houses and convents appearing through the foliage, presented a very prepossessing landscape, and one, I should imagine, seldom if ever forgotten by those quitting the colder regions of the north. It forms the step, the half-way house from Europe to the tropics, and unites in itself many of the advantages of both. It has been remarked that to quit Madeira with a favourable impression, it should be seen only at a distance; for, on landing, the dirtiness of the town and the apparent wretchedness of the inhabitants soon dispel all pleasing illusions.
Leaving this beautiful island the following morning, the ships directed their course nearly south, and soon fell in with the islands of
Palma and Teneriffe, the celebrated Peak remaining in sight on the 21st and 22d, at the distance of a hundred miles.
When the Superb reached 4° north latitude, it was determined by the Commodore to try for soundings with an unusually long line. The weather was very nearly, although not quite, calm, and the line (whale line) was laid out in such a way as to meet with no obstacle in its descent. The weight of about six hundred pounds was attached to the rope, consisting of four pigs of ballast, two deep sea-leads, a registering thermometer, and some other articles. At first the line ran out with considerable velocity, but afterwards sluggishly; and when two thousand fathoms were expended it was determined to recall it. After the rope that had sunk from its own weight was drawn up, the pressure of the water was so great that it required almost the whole strength of the ship to bring it in. The tar ouzed from it in abundance. When about one fourth of the line was recovered, it gave way, and in an instant every thing was lost, to the great disappointment of all those on board, who imagined that, with a sufficiency of line, a bottom might be found. About fifteen hundred fathoms were down perpendicularly; and it was not a little mortifying that, in a
spot where the approximation of the two continents was greatest, and where soundings would have proved most interesting, this experiment should have failed. To insure success in sounding at considerable depths, some other contrivance than the common sea-lead and line must be used. Perhaps some box of a peculiar construction, charged with a weight, which should unload itself either on reaching the bottom or when the line shall be drawing up, might be made to answer the purpose. A line increasing in thickness as it is lowered into the water has also been suggested.*
We crossed the equator in 23½° W. long on the 11th October, when the usual ceremonies were performed, under proper restrictions. The heat was not so oppressive as it had been, or perhaps we had become accustomed to it, the thermometer rarely exceeding 81°, and the water at the surface a little under that temperature.† The south-east trade carried the squadron to 18° S., where the variable winds again prevailed. Shortly afterwards we
* It appears from the experiments of Captains Sabine and Wauchope, in the Caribbean Sea, that the greatest density of the ocean exists at 1300 fathoms: the temperature being 42° of Fahrenheit.
† Appendix, No. I.
crossed the sun's course, and every person on board went below to see the perpendicular rays in a midshipman's chest in the cockpit, a locality seldom visited by that great luminary.
In lat. 22° we experienced a severe gale of wind, with lightning and water-spouts, which lasted for some hours. After the storm subsided, the ships' decks and rigging were covered with numbers of the most beautiful butterflies and moths, blown from the shore, which at the period was distant upwards of a hundred miles.
On the morning of the 22d October, we made the coast of Brazil, distant about fifteen leagues, bearing north-west, very mountainous, and supposed to be Cape St. Tomé.* In the evening we saw Cape Frio, distant five leagues, and the following morning came in sight of the harbour of Rio de Janeiro. The mouth is so extremely contracted, and the nature of the high surrounding land such, that it reflects no small degree of credit on the man who, at such an early period, discovered the existence of an
* In the Corogratia Brasilica, there is a very interesting letter written by one of the officers who accompanied the discoverer, Cabral. The original was discovered in the archives of the Admiralty al Rio de Janeiro. Mr. Southey has given the substance of it in the first volume of the second edition of his very learned and excellent history.
inlet.* The squadron remained lying on and off until the sea breeze sprung up, when it entered the magnificent harbour, and, to the great delight, it was said, of His Most Faithful Majesty, the three ships saluted at the same moment, and moored in eighteen fathoms, after a delightful voyage of only forty-five days.
Very few, I should imagine, have entered Rio de Janeiro without attempting to describe the beauties of the harbour and surrounding country, and certainly few have been successful in their descriptions. After the failure of so many writers, it would be in me presumption to attempt it. The direction of the harbour is about north and south; and on the left or west side of the entrance is the Sugar Loaf (a conical hill so called), and on the opposite the fortress of Santa Cruz. The mountains on either hand are of inconsiderable height, cone shaped, and, for the most part, clothed to their summits with trees and shrubs. There are various small islands covered with luxuriant vegetation scattered about the bay; and in the distance a range of mountains of fantastic forms, called the Organ Mountains, runs across from east to west, and
* When first discovered it went by the name of Nitherohy, which means, in the Indian language, hidden water: hy, water, and nithero, hidden or concealed.
terminates the view. From the large harbour, which stretches more than twenty miles into the country, several small bays extend for some distance, and present various points of view of great beauty. This bay has been compared to that of Naples, although of a character totally different; but it far surpassed any idea I had formed of it.
The vast importance of the harbour has been so fully and frequently acknowledged that little remains to be noticed on that head. The tide rises between four and five feet, and at times there is a very considerable surf. There are traces to show that the sea has, if any thing, receded from this part of the coast. The few rivers running into the bay are of little note.*
The defences of the harbour are numerous. The fort of Santa Cruz, with others opposite to it, defend the entrance; and that of the island of Cobras the city. There are no docks either for the building or the repair of ships; but they might be constructed without all the difficulty that some persons have imagined. At the back of the island of Cobras every convenience is found for those repairs which can be
* Appendix, No. II.
accomplished without the aid of regular slips; and the spot where Captain Cook hove down is yet pointed out. In this place lie also the remains of that navy which in former days accomplished so much. It requires but a short period in a tropical country, where every description of insect and lichen is more vigorous, to destroy ships of the firmest construction, and by far the greater number of these struggled across the Atlantic either at the period of or shortly after the king's arrival, and have been laid up ever since. Considering the quantity of excellent building materials abounding in the country, little upon the whole has been done; and Portugal, at some time or other, may deeply regret the sluggish apathy that has permitted the almost entire decay of her navy. At Bahia, some degrees to the northward, a few vessels have been built on slips, and among them one small frigate; another was constructed near the settlement of Goa; these are the only vessels completed of late years by the Portuguese, to repair the rapid destruction of the others. Among the hulks, the galleon taken by Lord Anson and sold to the Portuguese, is yet visible.
The city of Rio de Janeiro is built on the west side of the bay, about three miles from
the entrance, between two eminences, one covered with the convent of the Benedictine on the north, and the other with the remains of the Jesuits College on the south. It extends westerly to a low marsh connected with the sea, and navigable at high water. The streets are in general straight, but narrow and confined. The squares are by no means numerous, and, as the houses are not regularly built, there is nothing to admire in them. The Palace, facing the landing place, is neither handsome nor convenient; and, excepting the addition of the convent of the Carmelites, it remains the same as when it was inhabited by a Viceroy. The interior, either for apartments or furniture, is little worthy of remark. Adjoining is the Royal Chapel, on which all the skill of natives and foreigners has been lavished, and not in vain. There are three or four churches of an Italian style of architecture, such as San Francisco de Paula and the Candelaria, particularly neat. The convents, either for men or women, are not very numerous. The monastery of the rich order of the Benedictins is well worthy of a visit: the chapel is imposing, but dark from luxuriance of ornament. The Carmelites now occupy the former college of the Lapa, and the old college of the Jesuits has become a
military hospital. The convent of the Portuguese saint, San Antonio, who until lately held the rank of Lieutenant-General in the service, his pay and allowances being regularly drawn by the monks of his order, is built on an eminence, and from its terrace a very excellent idea may be formed of the extent and direction of the capital. The convent of the nuns of Santa Teresa stands on an eminence behind the town, and forms a pretty object from the bay. The other convent, which has served as a temporary burying place for the Royal Family, is in the Rua da Ajuda, and is far from being an ugly building. The theatre of St. John, in part supported by an annual lottery, is built in the square called the Rocio, and both externally and internally is well decorated. Behind it is the Mint and Treasury, a large building generally visited by strangers, to see the process of cutting and polishing a certain proportion of the diamonds which come down the country, the larger quantity being sent to Europe in the rough state. The Museum, in the Campo San Anna, may be also classed among the public buildings. One of the streets is filled with the warehouses for slaves, where the unhappy negro is prepared for sale. It is crowded with planters and
merchants, soon after the arrival of any slave ship. There are several fountains in different parts of the town, with police officers attending to preserve order. They are supplied for the most part by an aqueduct of many arches, extending from near the summit of the Corcovado, the highest peak round the bay, being by barometrical measurement upwards of 2100 English feet.*
The houses in the city are built either of stone brought from the numerous quarries in the immediate neighbourhood, or of brick work plastered with shell lime. The rooms are generally large, with little furniture, and that, in most cases, of the commonest description. The houses in the vicinity of Rio de Janeiro, upon which all the skill of the architect has been expended, are mostly surrounded by verandas, which contribute much to their coolness. The Exchange, a neat building, was opened in 1820. The pavement of the streets is very indifferent;
* This water has had various opinions passed on it. Captain Cook seemed to think it did not keep well at sea, while many officers have subsequently spoken favourably of it. On the other hand, on board the Owen Glendower, the ship in which I returned home, various complaints were made of it. I am inclined to think the fault has rested with the tank in which it was brought off to the ship.
and the roads, extending only a short distance round the town, are purposely kept soft to spare the feet of the blacks.
The country palace of his Majesty, where he most constantly resides, is at the village of St. Christovem, about four English miles from the city. On the arrival of the King it was the residence of a merchant, who shortly after made a present of it to the Royal Family. It is surrounded by a veranda, and commands a fine view of the upper part of the harbour. The Queen's country residence was a very small cottage at Catete, on the south of the capital. This is justly considered the most beautiful side of Rio, and is therefore thickly studded with the country seats of the more opulent citizens. Botafogo is also justly admired for the beauty of the scenery. This village stretches along the shore of a small, but most romantic bay of the same name.
The markets in Rio de Janeiro present little worthy of note. The fish market, indeed, is distinguished for the great variety exposed, caught principally, if not entirely, within the harbour. Fruit is sold in every corner and square. The meat shambles are very properly confined to particular spots. The public garden, some years ago so much frequented, and
consequently kept in excellent order, is now much neglected and fast going to decay. From its terrace there is a very pretty view of the entrance of the harbour, and, on the right, of the hill called the Gloria, with a church on the summit, and several houses mostly occupied by Englishmen. On the left is the eminence called Boa Viagem, also crowned with a church, where, in old times, the sailor paid his last devotions before he embarked on a distant voyage.
On the opposite side of the bay, immediately in front of the city, and to which many boats are constantly passing, are situate the village and district of Praya Grande. Many excellent houses are built here, but this side of the bay is not so much esteemed as the other.
Proceeding up the harbour, the island of Governador, where the King had a seat, is universally admired; and nearer again to the city, the spot granted to the English for a burying ground presents a beautiful point of view.
It may be remarked, in concluding this brief account of Rio de Janeiro and its neighbourhood, that the eye en every side discovers the most majestic scenery, covered with all the luxuriance of a tropical vegetation; and how-
ever soured the European may sometimes be with the want of comfort, or the heat, yet he will generally acknowledge, that this spot has not been surpassed, if equalled, by any other that has fallen under his observation.
Climate—Thermometer, Barometer, Hygrometer—Diseases —Soil—Fruits, Bananas Oranges, Fruit of the Passion Flower—Vegetables—Coffee, Cocoa.—Tea Plant introduced from China—Botanical Garden—Timber for various purposes —Animal Kingdom, Cattle, Dogs, Tapir, Sloth.—Birds, Humming Birds, Anum—Reptiles, Snakes and Toads— Insects, Spiders, Ants, Cochineal Insect—Fish, Garupa— The Geological Formation, Organic Remains.
As the prevailing winds in this part of the world are from the eastward, they arrive tolerably cooled down on the Brazil coast; for while, on the African shore, the heat is oppressive, the parallel latitudes on the opposite side of the Atlantic enjoy a moderate degree of temperature. This tendency to easterly winds receives, however, very regular modifications from the sun's progress in the ecliptic, a monsoon setting down the coast from September to April, and in the contrary direction the other half of the year. The voyage from Rio de Janeiro to the northern provinces becomes, therefore, regular and expeditious for one portion of the year, while in the other, a very considerable offing must be made.
A regular land and sea breeze prevails at Rio de Janeiro, and its value can only be appreciated by those who have resided in a tropical country. The land breeze begins late in the evening, frequently only about daylight, and prevails until eight or nine o'clock in the morning, when it ceases, and in a short time the sea breeze commences and blows until sunset. This is generally the case, but the regularity of the breezes is much modified by the season. In summer time, during the great heat, after the cessation of the land breeze, every one is panting and looking out for the arrival of the other. The doors closing with violence, is often the first intimation of its approach, and in a moment every thing draws a new life. On the other hand, during the cooler period of the year, the breezes seem to be more acted upon by disturbing causes.
The summer commences in the month of October and lasts until March or April. This is also the wet season, and the heaviness of the rains can only be imagined by those who have been in such latitudes. They are by no means continuous as in some other climates, but commence generally every afternoon with a thunder storm. The regularity of these afternoon storms was such, that formerly, it is said,
in forming parties of pleasure, it was usual to arrange whether they should take place before or after the storm. Doming this period of the year the nights are dark, and little or no deposition of dew takes place. The warmest month is February, when the barometer stands about 86° or 88° Fahrt. and, if at this period, the order of nature is so far inverted, as to allow the land breeze to prevail all day, an event which, fortunately seldom happens, the thermometer rises proportionably. On one occasion, when the land breeze continued until four o'clock in the afternoon, the air was intolerably oppressive, and resembled the hot wind of India. At five o'clock the storm began, and an immediate fall took place in the thermometer, which soon after daylight the next morning when it was registered stood thus, highest 120°, lowest 56°, a difference of 84°. During summer the inhabitants preserve a low temperature in the house by opening the windows for an hour or two at daylight, and then closing the shutters the rest of the day.
The winter months are May, June, July, and August, when little or no rain falls. The usual height of the thermometer is 67° or 68°, a heat insufficient in this climate for vegetation. The nights are beautifully clear, and the deposition
VOL. I. C
of dew therefore abundant. The mean annual height of the thermometer is about 73½° of Fahrenheit.
The barometer upon Sir H. Englefield's construction is very sensibly affected; the mean height is about 30.275. It seemed to stand highest between nine and eleven o'clock in the morning. Previous to any of the gusts from the S. W., supposed to be connected with the pamperos, or violent winds of the river Plate, the barometer always experienced a very considerable depression.
The moisture contained in the air is very abundant during the summer months. At that period unfortunately, I had no means of ascertaining the exact quantity, not being possessed of one of Mr. Daniell's hygrometers; but I have no doubt that the air is very nearly at the point of saturation. During the winter I was enabled to make a few experiments with Mr. Daniell's beautiful instrument. The mean quantity of vapour in the month of August, was 5.774 gr. in the cubic foot,* a quantity at the driest period of the year, nearly double that of the mean of two in England.†
* Quarterly Journal of Science, vol xiv. p. 4.
† The mean of two years in England, ending with the summer of 1821, gave 3. 652 gr. in the cubic foot. See Quarterly Journal of Science, vol. xii. p. 97.
The soil is mostly of a light brown colour, in many spots of a deep red cast, and clayey. By washing this last description, the children are in the habit of obtaining a small quantity of gold. In many cases the soil seems to be owing more to decomposition of rock, than any alluvial deposit; crystals of feldspar in a decomposing state are found regularly embedded in the soil, which contains, in addition, a large portion of mica.
The effects of the climate and soil of this part of Brazil, without being particularly favourable to longevity, are certainly far from proving destructive to human life. While most tropical countries have their peculiar diseases, this can scarcely be said to possess any. Where there exists in the system any tendency to diseases of the lives, all warm countries must be more or less prejudicial, and some cases of this nature have occurred at Rio de Janeiro, and terminated fatally with such rapidity, that suspicions of poison were entertained, but the European, even with strong biliary symptoms, continues the same life of luxury as before, regardless of repeated warnings. Diseases of the skin are very common, and to them the negro race seems peculiarly liable. Frequently the, objects basking in, the sun, are, from elephantiasis and other
diseases of that nature, of a most loathsome and disgusting appearance. These, with two or three other maladies, however unpleasant and unsightly, but not in general terminating fatally, comprise most of those that are commonly met with. Some deaths occur from the carelessness of Europeans in exposing themselves to the vertical rays of the sun: but two or three instances of Europeans living in a constant state of inebriety, and exposed to the chilling damps at night and the burning heat of the day, and leading this life for years, are a satisfactory proof of the general healthiness of the climate.
At any rate it can be no longer doubtful which is the healthier climate, Brazil or the United States. The latter, in spite of the cleared state of the country, and the frosts of winter, which might be supposed to destroy the seeds as well as arrest the progress of contagion, are annually visited by a fever of the most destructive and cruel nature—one that physicians are not decided whether it is imported or indigenous, but which, without confining itself to the foreigner, has rendered some parts of country more dangerous to the inhabitants, than when it was first visited by Raleigh. I imagine besides, that the state of
cleanliness is far greater in the United States than in any of the possessions of the Portuguese, who have been at no time distinguished for their love of this virtue.
The land in the immediate neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro is laid out in the cultivation of fruits and vegetables for the supply of the capital, and it may not be uninteresting to examine whether they present any thing different to those met with in other tropical countries.
The fruit that must stand first from its vast importance in the country as an article of food, is the banana or plantain. Of this there appears to me to be two varieties cultivated at Rio, one considerably larger and coarser than the other, which is small and sweet. This tree, propagated by offsets and of an extremely rapid growth, appeared to thrive well in both the lower and higher situations round the town. The banana bears in a few months after being planted, and the fruit is gathered when immature. The quantity of nutriment it possesses must be very considerable, for runway blacks are known to support themselves during months on a single banana daily. By the Brazilians it is considered so favourable to the increase of population, that the rich planters surround their
estates with banana trees, and permit their slaves to eat at discretion. The trees seldom prove deficient in quantity, and are the most valuable gift of a beneficent Providence to this country. Little or no cultivation is required, their large and thick leaves fall to the root, and afford moisture and manure to the native stock; all that is necessary is to loosen the earth round the trees. It often afforded subject for discussion, whether the banana was indigenous in Brazil or introduced by the Portuguese. Baron Humboldt, who throws an interest over all he treats, thinks some confusion may have arisen from the terms plantain and banana having been used indiscriminately; and after discussing the question and examining the testimonies that go to the point, concludes by saying that no doubt can exist that the banana was grown in America before the arrival of Europeans.* Mr. Brown, whose authority upon these subjects is of the first order, without entering into the question whether the banana was indigenous in America or not, observes that it is generally considered of Indian origin, but differs with M. de Humboldt in the idea that any confusion of terms has arisen. He
* Essai Politique, tom. iii. p. 22.
adds, that Margrave and Piso, in their Natural History, consider the plantain and banana as introduced plants; the former from Congo.* On the other hand, Robertson,† whose indefatigable research and industry in every thing he undertook, is so well known, after a careful examination of Gumilla, Acosta, and other naturalists, considers the opinion of the plant being of American origin to be better founded. After the lapse of a few years in any country, indeed, but more particularly in one where vegetation is rapid, such is the power possessed by vegetables of adapting themselves to the climate, that it becomes not an easy matter to shew whether they were indigenous or introduced. It was, therefore, a very happy idea in the botanical writers of the Mercurio Peruano, a work published in Lima, to give from time to time lists of the various plants introduced into the country, a proceeding that must prove of infinite service to succeeding researches in Peru. A very intelligent Portuguese, who had resided much among the Puri Indians on the Rio Preto at a very considerable distance from any Portuguese settlement, and whom I became acquainted with at Villa Rica, informed me that,
* Botanical Appendix to Tuckey's Congo.
† Note 56, vol. i. Quarto Edition of Dr. Robertson's History of America.
in his excursions, he had met with the small banana, sweeter and better, he added, than those cultivated near Rio de Janeiro. He informed me also, that this fruit had served for food to the Puris from the earliest times. It may be added, that the banana is little cultivated by the Portuguese in the interior of the country; indeed, it would be hopeless to attempt it, as they, for the sake of mining, have chosen high and mountainous situations, where the thermometer is too low. The Indians, on the other hand, seek for low, warm and thickly wooded spots, where plenty of game may be found; thus the different pursuits of the Indigenes and their conquerors led them to seek situations widely separate; and it becomes, therefore, less likely that the former should have cultivated any of the fruits introduced by the latter. Nothing could prove more disastrous to Brazil than any deficiency in the crops, or misfortune to this most useful plant.
The next fruit, for the fineness of which Brazil has some reason to boast, is the orange. Of these there are several varieties cultivated, but those most esteemed are the selecta and the tangerinha. The former is large, with a broad leaf, while the latter is small, with the leaf scarcely larger than that of the myrtle, and, as resembling the Mandarin orange of China, would
be suspected of having been introduced from that country, rather than from Africa, which its name would import. About April this fruit comes to perfection, and is certainly far superior to any met with in Europe. The consumption is very great, and from districts round the city, hundreds of blacks proceed to market every morning with as many as they can carry on their heads. It is one of the most lucrative farms that can be laid out. The inhabitants are particularly partial to this fruit in the morning, when they say it is oro (gold), at noon prata (silver), and at night chumbo (lead). There can be no doubt that the finer varieties of the orange were introduced by the conquerors either from the Canaries, or the Western Islands; but the laranja da terra, a small bitter kind, discovered at a considerable distance from habitations, is thought by the Portuguese to be indigenous.
No doubt whatever exists respecting the pine-apple, which is extremely abundant for a short period of the year. In general the flavour is inferior to those raised by artificial heat in Europe, which may be accounted for in part by the necessity that exists, of cutting them the moment they give out the odour, as they are immediately attacked by ants; and in a short time nothing but the skin is left.
The maracuja, the fruit of the passion flower, or grenadilla of the Spaniards, is by many thought superior to all the other fruits of this garden of the world. The passiflora, with large scarlet flowers and green edges, produces the finest fruit, which is always cool and grateful to the palate.
The mango, introduced from Asia, is uncertain in its produce, and seldom of high flavour. The fruta do conde, or custard-apple, and the guava, and tamarind, are very abundant, and well known; as well as an infinity of other fruits, such as the cashew, the cocoa-nut, growing as near the sea as possible, the grumichama (myrtus lucida), the pitanga, a small red fruit, the jamba, or rose-apple, the jambuticaba, and many others, more or less admired by Europeans. Melons, and water-melons, the latter more eaten by Brazilians than by foreigners, are in great plenty. The country about Rio is too warm for either grapes or figs. The latter seem particularly subject to the attacks of a large worm, that enters the heart of the wood, and renders the knife necessary. In the mountains of the Estrella, at the head of the Bay, many of the fruits of colder climates are cultivated with success.
With the exception of the more common vegetables, such as cabbages, yams, and sweet
potatoes, few others are cultivated by the inhabitants. Every other kind known in Europe, has been brought to perfection by various English residents, and that with a rapidity scarcely credible. The common garden pea has been sown, flowered, gathered and the haulms removed within the short space of one-and-twenty days
The mandioca, or cassava of the West Indies (jatropha manihot), is extensively cultivated. The consumption of the flour for the support of the negroes and lower classes of Brazilians, is very large. The species, the juice of which is not of an acrid nature, is scarcely cultivated, being considered less productive than the other. This invaluable plant is too well known to require either a further description or any account of the method in use to convert it into bread. A most excellent vegetable is furnished by the head of a variety of palm, called in the country palmita; the outer leaves being removed, it is dressed in a variety of ways, and generally esteemed. The potatoes imported from England in the packets, and indeed by every conveyance, become sweet on cultivation in the warm spots near the city.
The coffee tree, now one of the principal objects of care in Brazil, was introduced more than eighty years ago, under the Vice Royalty
of the Conde de Bobadilla, has multiplied prodigiously, and become a great source of wealth. The Portuguese do not take the same pains to keep the plant low, as is practised in some other countries. At the end of three years, it is calculated that each plant produces three quarters of a pound of coffee, worth about nine-pence per pound, and at maturity, about three pounds. The grain is large, and much resembles that brought from the East Indies, and is freed from its husk by pounding in a large wooden mortar.
The cocoa tea (theobroma cocao) grows in great abundance in every garden. Tobacco and cotton are not cultivated near the capital, but the latter is frequently planted as a pretty flowering shrub. The indigo plant also is little attended to. The rice is grown at a short distance from the capital, and has been known to produce five hundred for one; but whether this is the mountain rice, or merely the common variety which finds in-Brazil a sufficiency of moisture in the air without the irrigation requisite in other countries, I am not sufficiently a botanist to decide.
The sugar plantations are at some distance from the capital. The two varieties most in repute are the Criolho and the Cajan, (Cayenne;) the latter, yielding a larger portion of juice, is preferred for converting into spirits,
while the former is made into sugar. The Otaheitan cane, considered to be the best kind, is as yet a stranger to Brazil.
As considerable misrepresentations have gone abroad respecting the tea plant introduced into Brazil, it may not be improper to point out the extent to which it has been cultivated, and the hopes entertained of it. The Conde de Barca, (Araujo,) who died during his ministry, in 1817, anxious that Brazil should possess every thing within itself, procured the Bohea tea plant, and a number of Chinese to cultivate it, from Canton. It was planted in the botanical garden near the Lagoa de Freitas, three leagues from the city, and covers a few roods of ground. It produces an abundance of seeds, but not that luxuriance of leaf or bushy appearance which it is described by travellers to possess in China; the leaves have been collected and dried in ovens, but the infusion was far from agreeable, and the cultivators, concluding that time and close packing were necessary to render them desirable, seem to have now abandoned the project. Some of the Chinese are yet seen about, and the plant is still cultivated in the garden, but certainly has not extended itself beyond it. Since the tea plant seldom flourishes farther from the line than 30° S. lat. and is also found in the province
of Yunnan, situate within the tropics, there can be no reason why the latitude of Rio de Janeiro 22° S. should not be equally favourable. The soil also appears to be very similar to that of the southern provinces of China; but it would seem that the great difficulty consists in choosing the periods for collecting the leaves, and in the proper management of them afterwards.
In this botanical garden, the various spices of the East, the jack, the bread-fruit, and some others not indigenous to Brazil, are collected. It is to be lamented, that the many undescribed plants of the country have not been placed here in addition to the others. Many scientific foreigners, in their way to the East Indies, fly to this establishment and only find those which they will so shortly see in all the luxuriance of their native soil, while the indigenous productions are concealed in thick forests, or at a distance from the capital, where they cannot proceed from the shortness of their stay.
Every description of timber that can be required for ship-building, dying, or domestic purposes, is to be found in this neighbourhood. The Brazil wood (casalpinia echinata) is of very inferior quality to that collected in the northern provinces, so much so, that in spite of the high price of the article is Europe, it has been
scarcely considered worth exporting. The jacarandà, a species of inga, without the smell but in other respects similar to the rosewood of India, and a wood yet more beautiful, called in the country, Gonzalo-Alves, dispute pre-eminence among those suited for ornamental cabinet work. The pao d' alho, or garlic tree, among the most singular.
On every side the most beautiful flowers attract the attention. Varieties of bignonias, passifloras, and a thousand others, either selecting warm exposed situations, or the cooler retreats of the woods, are constantly presenting objects for admiration. Few exist at the same time, but an unceasing variety prevails through the whole year. The general character is surprising magnificence, with little or none of that accompanying sweetness which the inhabitant of a cold country finds more or less in all flowers. Many of them, and the roses in particular, meet with a fatal enemy in the ant.
I have thus run over a portion of the vegetable riches of this part of Brazil, and if I should have succeeded in drawing the attention of English botanists to this country, which has hitherto been unaccountably neglected, I shall consider myself fortunate. Two English gentlemen of acknowledged talent, connected with His
Majesty's garden at Kew, remained a short time in Brazil some years ago, and in that short time gave ample proofs of their own industry and of the extraordinary riches of the soil. Since the arrival of the Princess Royal, many German scientific travellers* have made vast collections of every kind of natural history, and the learned those who have already returned to Europe. That these gentlemen have collected with ardour is well known, and their published works will sufficiently prove it, but still the field is wide, and much no doubt remains to fee accomplished. The neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro is considered by botanists to present the greatest variety of plants; and those naturalists who are anxious to leave the coast, where from evident causes the tropical vegetation extends farther south than in the interior, are in the end much disappointed. It was gratifying when in company with a botanist, to hear him exclaim at every step, "this is a new variety," or "a new plant." The vegetable stores indeed form the greatest attraction to the man of science. The mineralogist will find little in the neigh-
* Messrs. Spix and Martius, Drs. Pohl and Scllows. The Fray Leandro, professor of botany at Rio de Janeiro, is indefatigable in his researches.
bourhood of Rio de Janeiro; while the botanist, constantly occupied, will have some difficulty in persuading himself that new plants do not spring up every day under his feet. While in Europe man must labour hard to make the unkindly earth produce; in this country, he must toil incessantly to restrain the vegetation which would otherwise overrun him with its luxuriance.
Turing from this subject, the next inquiry will relate to the productions of the animal kingdom. It may be remarked that little exists worthy of notice among the larger species, while the lower race are more numerous and deserving attention.
The breed of horses in Brazil is small, and capable of little fatigue; they are mostly bred in the colder province of the Mines, and their strength declines the moment they descend the Organ Mountains. The best horses are imported from the river Plate, but they often arrive injured and out of condition.
Mules are bred in great abundance for the most part at Rio Grande, to the southward of the capital, and are found to answer better for carriages. They are broken in by great violence, and are seldom entirely freed from the
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vices peculiar to the animal. A stranger at first imagines that he has been duped, and alone possesses bad cattle; but after a short residence in the country, the frequent disputes between the mules and their drivers convince him that his neighbours experience the same fortune as himself. The usual food of these animals is Indian corn, and a coarse succulent grass, originally from Africa, called capim de Angola, which in the winter months is dear and even scarce. Before the introduction of this grass, cattle were fed on that of the country, capim mellado, or honied grass, so called from the leaves being covered with a clammy juice.
Black cattle, for the consumption of the city, are brought from a considerable distance, through a country containing little pasture, and they arrive and are killed in a weak heated condition. Some are driven from the plains of Santa Cruz to the southward of the capital. The common breed is not much larger than the Scotch; but that Brazil can raise fine cattle is sufficiently proved, by the remarkably large oxen seen in the carts used for carrying stone. These carts produce a peculiar noise, which, however gratifying to the oxen and efficacious in keeping off evil spirits, never becomes agree-
able to human ears. Similar to the ass in Europe, the cow only gives milk is this climate with the young by her side.
It is almost superfluous to mention, that horses and black cattle were originally brought from Europe at an early period after the discovery. Beef is of very inferior quality, from the distance of the pastures, the warmth of the climate, and from its being, to a certain extent, a government monopoly. Mutton is comparatively scarce, from the surrounding country being covered with thick woods.
A very ugly breed of dogs is more numerous than agreeable to foreigners, The Portuguese, whether in Rio de Janeiro or in Lisbon, seldom destroy Mc puppies, but allow them to run wild and live on the public. A constant warfare is kept up between the negroes and these animals. There have been, however, no instance of hydrophobia known. Condamine, it is said, was the first who observed that this dreadful malady was unknown in South Americo, and it may be accounted for, perhaps, by these animals being left to the care of nature, and not tormented by the cruel process of worming, which, by depriving the animal of one of the salivary ducts, may contribute to this disease.
The city and its environs are infested to a surprising degree by a. large variety of rat. Many of the first houses are so full of them, that during dinner it is by no means en unusual circumstance to see them playing about the room. The canine race appear quite regardless of them, and they are often seen feeding at the same heap of garbage. Their dental powers are such that a thick clumsy door of hard wood is frequently perforated in one night. Officers of ships are obliged to use every precaution to prevent this destructive animal from getting a footing on board.
The largest animal known in Brazil is the tapir or antar, the grande bestia of the Spaniards. It is by no means so large, nor of the same colour as the species met with in the East Indies. It is too well known to require a description.
The sloth is very common. It confines its depredations to one tree, called by the Brazilians sumambaia, which it never quits while there is a leaf remaining. When completely leafless the animal drops down, and is only driven by hunger to discover another. It would seem as if nature had determined that it should not procure its sustenance without some
difficulty, for the sumambaia is high, with leaves only at the extremity of the branches, which are at the very summit of the tree.
The armadillo serves as an article of food; the meat is white and well tasted.
The jaguar or South American tiger, seldom approaches the haunts of man. In August, 1820, however, two of them came to Praya Grande, and carried off some cattle, but were subsequently destroyed, and found to be of considerable size. There are no instances on record of their attacking the human species. At St. Paul's, ten days journey south-west of Rio de Janeiro, the jaguar frequently attacks cattle. As soon as he make his appearance the herd arranges itself in a circle, the horses with their hoofs, and the cattle with their horns presented to the enemy, the colts and calves placed in the centre, and await him in this posture. The jaguar watches his opportunity, springs in the midst, seizes one of the calves, and in a moment disperses the rest.
A species of pig is sometimes brought down from the interior which has a gland on its back, from which a fetid smell issues, and if not removed immediately after the animal is killed renders the meat useless.
The morcego, or bat, is extremely numerous.
One species, the andara guassu of the Brazilians, is of large dimensions, and lives on the blood of cattle. Whether the story be correct, that it cools the air with its wings, and keeps its prey quiet while it is sucking the blood, I will not pretend to decide, but I could never discover that the mule or horse had made any resistance. The wound was almost always on the neck, of a minute size, and, contrary to what is usually the case in Brazil, soon healed. It did not seem that this kind of bleeding is at all detrimental.
The birds of Brazil have been at all times more distinguished for their numbers, and the brilliancy of their plumage, than for their powers of song. In the neighbourhood of the city few are met with but such as live on cultivated fruits. The beija flores, or humming birds, varying considerably in appearance, are met with in great abundance in the gardens when the orange trees are in flower. The splendid metallic lustre of their plumage, their minute size, the smallness of the feet, and their fly-like habits never fail to attract the attention of foreigners. It has been generally supposed that they live on the nectar of plants, but their long beak, it is now believed, merely seizes the insects attracted to the nectarium. Many
attempts have been made to domesticate this beautiful bird, but hitherto without success.
The anum, very similar to, but smaller than, the blackbird of England, flies about in large coveys. It appears to live very much in communities, many nests being found united together.
The jacu (penelope) may be termed, from the delicacy of its flesh, the pheasant of Brazil; it is not unlike a hen turkey, but rather smaller.
It is said there are upwards of twenty varieties of parrot found in Brazil, but few are seen near Rio de Janeiro, Excepting the small green paroquet and the magnificent arara.
The jacutinga, a very excellent bird for the table, is about the size of a small turkey. The plumage is black, with some white about the wings and breast. It would prove very uninteresting to the common reader to enumerate the birds met with in this part of Brazil.
In this climate, it may easily be imagined, that the number of reptiles is very considerable. The rattle-snake does not exist near this part of the coast, but in the province of the Mines it proves very destructive to negroes. At Saint João del Rey, a young man went into the woods, was bitten on the instep by a rattle-
snake, came home ill and died. His widow (time being very precious with the fair sex in Brazil) soon married again, and her second availed himself of the clothes of the first, and among other things put on a pair of boots. He was shortly afterwards taken ill and died. A third husband followed and experienced the same fate. Another Brazilian, little alarmed by what had happened, and induced, perhaps, by the accumulation of wealth, became the fourth husband, and by chance discovered the fang of a rattle-snake sticking through the instep of the boot, which being worn by his predecessors, been without doubt the cause of their deaths.
The cobra de coral, or coral snake, abounds in every garden. It is small and spotted with scarlet and dark green. It is generally considered poisonous; but I examined many individuals without discovering, in any instance, the teeth that are looked upon as the marks of a venomous reptile.
The jararáca is sometimes five or six feet in length, of considerable thickness, and tapers a little towards the tail. This is one of the most common and venomous snakes met with. There
are many other varieties of snakes, of all colours, and most of them in all probability viviparous.
Toads of very unusual size, and one that makes a noise similar to that issuing from a stone mason's shop, and frogs of large dimensions, and small green ones living in trees, are of common occurrence. The scolopendra, or centipede, is often seen in houses, sometimes seven or eight inches long, and proportionably thick. The scorpion of Rio de Janeiro is white, and. almost innocuous.
The spider reaches an enormous size, with different habits from those of Europe. It stretches its web from tree to tree, and no longer appears a solitary insect: many hundreds live together and from nets of such strength, that I have assisted in liberating a bird of the size of swallow, quote exhausted with struggling, and ready to fall a prey to its indefatigable enemy.
It was always said by the Portuguese, that the ant was the inhabitant of Brazil, and it must be confessed there is some truth in the satire: they exist of all sizes and colours, and them, that they have nearly fallen in. At Saint Paul's, there is a variety so large, that fried it
forms a food by no means contemptible in the eyes of the inhabitants; and, however minute, they contribute much towards repressing a too rapid increase amongst reptiles much larger than themselves. Many winged insects, on touching the ground, become its prey. On one occasion a spider of the largest size had fallen from a tree, and was attacked by millions of a small brown ant: in his attempts to get free he crushed and destroyed many, but still some managed to get on his feet, and crawling up to his thighs, remained quiet; by these means, his progress impeded, and perfectly exhausted and overcome by numbers, he soon became their Victim, and in a short time few traces of his existence was visible. The carcase of any animal placed in the woods is rendered a perfect skeleton by these insects; and the many stories related of their powers in removing large substances are completely borne out.
The termites, or white ant so destructive in the East Indies, is not less so in South America. The mode used to destroy them is a little singular, that of turning the antipathy of the races to good account. As soon as they are observed, a little sugar in put down, which in a moment summons a tribe of brown or black ants, who instantly attack and destroy the ter-
mites, to the great amusement of the blacks who witness the defeat of the white insect. Scarcely any article of food, fruit or flower, can be protected from them.
The mosquito of South America has been so often celebrated that little remains to be said about it. Their humming noise adds not a little to the annoyance, and the bite of a town mosquito is, with some persons, attended with much inconvenience, and the philosophy of a new comer is a good deal put to the test. Another trouble: the jigger, a small insect which conceals itself under the toe nails, requires great attention, and the streets show every day examples of victims to a disregard of its attacks, which often extend to the legs and hands. The negro race seem more conversant with, and are generally employed to extirpate, this insect, which was probably introduced by themselves from the coast of Africa. It forms, like a cold in England, a common excuse for absenting oneself from a party.
The tick is confined in Europe to sheep and dogs; but in Brazil, under the name of carapato, it is a most annoying insect to man. It frequents the low brushwood, and insinuating itself into the most recondite parts of the body, and putting its head under the cuticle, grows
of considerable size, and requires great care in the eradication, for if any portion is left, a sore is produced. Tobacco water is one of the best applications. These are the chief plagues of the country, and it must be confessed lay under contribution the patience and good temper of the European.
To turn the subject from these disgusting insects to something more agreeable, it may be stated that some of the most beautiful butterflies are natives of this country. The large deep blue butterfly is seen in great numbers in the shaded situations round the city, and nothing can be more striking than the variety of form and colour exhibited. The collections which are occasionally made up for sale are got from the Island of St. Catharine, a short distance to the southward.
It is said that there are five species of bees in Brazil, but little honey is secured. The ant is without doubt the destroyer of the comb. The moribundo or wasp leaves a wound which takes some time to heal.
The cochineal insect, which was formerly bred to some extent in the neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro, is now very nearly abandoned. It was probably the cochineal silvestre much adulterated. It is now scarcely known in the
London market. The insect was conveyed to the East Indies from Rio de Janeiro in 1795, by Captain Nelson; but what is imported from Madras is so different in appearance to that of Vera Cruz, that doubts are entertained whether it is an insect at all.
The varieties of beetles, grasshoppers, and every description of insect, are far beyond enumeration. The silk worm is not cultivated; but an insect which produces a cocoon, has been lately met with, and the discoverer advertised lessons in the mode of preparing the silk. The diamond or Brazil beetle (curculio imperialis), and the different varieties of firefly, are too well known to require description. The days in Brazil are tolerably quiet, but the moment night sets in, the confused din of a thousand different insects and reptiles forms a distinguishing character of the country; these lower branches of the creation, it must be confessed, appearing to thrive better than any other.
The tables are well supplied with fish. The garupa, considered similar to the rock fish of North America, is one of the best. Turtle is occasionally brought in. Formerly there was a whale fishery establishment in the bay, but it has been removed to St. Catharine's, that fish having left this part of the coast. Sharks are
often seen in the bay, and the rivers abound in a small species of crocodile or caiman, which seldom attacks man.
The geological formation round the bay presents little variety. It is essentially composed of gneiss of variety. It is essentially composed of gneiss of various kinds, frequently of a porphyritic structure, intersected by granite veins, and full of garnets. The only foreign beds I observed were of clayironstone, and greenstone, neither of which were of considerable extent. The numerous quarries round the city afforded excellent opportunities for examining the structure of the rocks. The metals and simple minerals met with in the rocks are comparatively trifling.
The jewellers' shops in the Rua dos Ourives are full of the products of the mines; amethysts, generally of inferior colour, and topazes of different tints, are most usually offered for sale. Green tourmaline, aqua marines, and crisolites (cimophane), are also to be purchased; but in most cases they may be bought cheaper and better either in London or Paris. The dealers are extremely ignorant of precious stones, and imagine every thing a foreigner admires must be valuable. The sale of the diamond in its native state is strictly forbidden, but there is little difficulty in procuring it. So large
a value of this stone is contained in little compass, that the dread of being sent to Angola for life has little effect in putting a stop to the contraband. It is not easy, therefore, on this account, to ascertain the quantity that arrives annually from the mines; but I believe the number of oitavas of 18 carats deposited in the treasury has never exceeded 3,000 or 4,000, a proportion of the stones probably reaching four or five carats. The quantity brought down clandestinely may be estimated at nearly as much more. Among the diamonds shown me in the government coffers was a thin narrow fragment, measuring six and half inches long, and weighing fifty-three carats. It must have formed part of an enormous stone. The price being according to its weight, and the form precluding the possibility of cutting to advantage, it had remained in the treasury for many years. The whitest stones were selected for the king, and the remainder sold for exportation to London and Amsterdam.
By a careful examination of the bags of topazes in the lapidaries' shops, a specimen or two of that still rare mineral the euclase may be picked up. It is known by the name of pivete by the jewellers, and is thrown aside as useless. It is found in topaz mines; and it is
more than probable that the first specimens brought to Europe by Dombey were procured here, and not in Peru, according to the hitherto received opinion. In Lima I could never discover that this mineral was known there.
It may not be in this place improper to mention the organic remains of a large animal found near the Rio das Contas, in the province of Bahia, while some workmen were employed in making a tank for cattle. The bones covered a space of seventy feet. The ribs were thirteen inches wide; the shin bones were five feet long, the tusks six; and a molar tooth, without the root, weighed four pounds. To move the jawbone the strength of four men was required. The whole was in a very decomposed state. In all probability when the western sides of the range which runs down the centre of Brazil is cleared and the earth turned up, many discoveries of a similar nature will be made. But none of the present race of geologists are likely to see that day.
Agriculture, Maize, Mandioca, Sugar and Coffee—Manufactures—Trade—Diamonds, Gold and Precious Stones—Bank of Brazil, legal Interest—Value of Land—Community, State of Society, Amusements and mode of Life, Marriages and Funerals—Language, State of Literature—Public Libraries, Museum, State of the Medical Art—Religious Feelings and Institutions, Superstitions, National Character.
THE mode of agriculture followed in Brazil, as far as I had an opportunity of judging, is extremely simple. Some trees and underwood are felled in the first instance, and allowed to remain a few days to dry. Waiting then for a favourable opportunity, when the wind shall blow from the desired quarter, the dry wood is ignited, and the ground cleared to the extent required.
If the wood is virgin, that is, never disturbed before, the flight of reptiles, birds and insects from the conflagration is an object of surprise and dread to those engaged in the undertaking. Many hundreds of a large bird, called seriema, (the cariama of naturalists,) unawed by the explosions caused by the bursting of the bamboos, follow the progress of the flames and feed on
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the scorched insects. The appearance of the land, after the flames have subsided, is singular. The fire passes too rapidly to consume the trunks of the larger trees, which remain scattered over the waste, standing like dismal monuments of the vegetable grandeur which so lately pervaded the spot. No trouble is exerted to remove them: in one season, unprotected by leaves or bark, they soon mingle with the soil.
The ground being now very rancid, or as it is called by the Portuguese bravo, is only suited to the cultivation of maize, or Indian corn, which becomes the first crop. The operation of burning is scarcely finished, before the rains take place, and the sowing of the maize is commenced. The harvest often yields a hundred and twenty for one. The quantity of Indian corn cultivated near the city is comparatively small, mandioca taking its place as a first crop. The maize flour is the principal article of subsistence in the interior, where, from the elevation of the country,* the mandioca flourishes with difficulty. The variety, which is devoid of the acrid juice, and called sweet aypé, is little cultivated. The other, and common kind, requires. Eighteen
* Perhaps in this latitude, the line of mandioca would be about 1800 hundred feet above the sea.
months' cultivation before it comes to maturity, when the roots are taken up, rasped, carefully deprived of the poisonous juice by heavy weights, and then dried by means of fire in large shallow pans. The flour prepared from this root, termed, farinha de pao, is left untouched by every description of insect, in itself no small recommendation, and forms the food of the lower classes. Before the arrival of the court, and the consequent introduction of certain luxuries, the farinha de pao was thrown on the dinner tables of the higher classes for each to help himself. From the earliest times it served for the food of the indigenes, and it shows more than any thing else, perhaps, that the means of subsistence were extremely limited, or otherwise a root, which must at first have proved fatal, would have been quickly abandoned.
The sugar cane is also one of the early crops. The variety mostly in request is termed criolho, and in some parts it is a very common and efficacious plan to have alternate crops of mandioca and cane; keeping, by this means, the ground in excellent order, without the assistance of irrigation or manure: The whole apparatus of the sugar house is humble. None of those large machines which embellish our West India islands are met with. The work is carried on by
day only, and much, therefore, of that severity said to prevail in our possessions is avoided. The largest portion of the sugar is clayed.
The coffee plantations are now considered the most lucrative of any, and some foreigners have dedicated themselves to the cultivation of it with considerable success.
No wheat, barley, or oats grow in the district of Rio de Janeiro; but there is a species of cytisus (cajan) which affords another means of subsistence, and is held in considerable estimation.
The articles of food raised in Brazil fall short of the consumption. Most of the northern provinces are occupied in the produce of various colonial articles, and it becomes cheaper to import than to take off the negroes to raise their own aliment. The quantity deficient is not much; the principal part of the population supporting themselves on little, and that the produce of the country; but wheat must be imported from the southern province of Rio Grande,—from the United States, in the form of flour,—from the river Plate,—and, occasionally, from the Cape of Good Hope. The southern provinces, and the ci-devant Spanish possessions, send large quantities of dried meat, which is carried on mules to the most distant
provinces of Brazil. It cannot be considered at articles of life are dear in the capital.
The manufactures in this part of Brazil are scarcely worthy of notice. Some very coarse cottons, and hammocks, and some articles of saddlery come down from the interior. From the province of the mines, cheese and bacon are received.
The colonial system, which was strictly per-served until the arrival of the court, kept the country in a state of ignorance of many of those beautiful articles of English manufacture, now so greedily purchased by all. The Brazil trade the British, as if an exclusive monopoly existed in their favour. By the commercial treaty of 1810, a treaty abused on all sides, and consequently supposed to be very equitable, British goods are admitted at a duty of fifteen per cent ad valorem, while those of other nations pay twenty-four. But I am assured that even if this difference did not exist, even if our manufactures paid a more considerable duty than any other, they would still command the market. They could always be furnished at a, cheaper rate, which, in a new country with a slave population, is, after all, the main object. Brazil takes from us every thing it requires, excepting
wine from Portugal; and the importance of this trade to England may be well conceived, when it is mentioned, that, after the East and West Indies, and the United States, it forms the greatest mart for our fabrics, and one that is rapidly increasing.
In 1820, the exports of British manufacture amounted to £1,860,000; in 1821 to £2,230,000. The imports of 1820 were £950,000; in 1821, £1,300,000, showing a great and progressive increase.
Of the amount of exports, about three-fifths are sent to the capital, owing to the greater consumption, and from its being in communication with the mines, the most inhabited districts of the interior.
The returns for this large sum are made in diamonds and precious stones, gold, coffee, cotton, sugar, tobacco brought from a considerable distance inland, some drugs and dye woods. The larger proportion of returns is made from the northern parts of Bahea, Pernambuco, and Maranham, as produce is there, from a variety of circumstances, much cheaper than at Rio de Janeiro. In sugar alone, the difference is often twenty-five per cent. in favour of the northern markets.
The other nations trading to Brazil exhibit a
poor figure after Great Britain. By far the most active of them, the United States, exported to Brazil only to the amount of £320,000, chiefly in flour, fish, and minor articles. It is impossible to say what may happen, but at present it does not appear that England has much to fear in this quarter. The immense command of capital which our merchants possess, strikes all foreigners with astonishment, and forces them to abandon all idea of competition. The trade carried on by the rest of the world amounts, in the aggregate, to little: that of France being chiefly confined to articles of dress and mode; and of Sweden, to a few ship loads of iron annually.
The trade expressly confined to Brazilian vessels is the coasting and African. This latter traffic, it is well known, is now restricted, by treaty, to that part of Africa south of the line, which comprehends, in fact, almost the whole of the Portuguese possessions. The importation of negroes varies in amount; but of late years it cannot be estimated on an average at less than 21,000 into Rio de Janeiro only.* It affords too great a return of gain to be easily abandoned, more especially when, strange to say, patriotic feelings are considered, in this instance, to go
* Appendix, No. 3.
hand in hand with profit, and when it is imagined that the moment the trade is prohibited, the prosperity of the country must decay. When it is considered that this number is annually received into the capital, and that there are three other ports trading to the same extent, and that scarcely two-thirds of the negroes taken from the coast live to be landed, the number of negroes carried away by this outlet only, in the course of the year, appears prodigious.
Many years since a considerable capital was employed in the whale-fishery. The black whale was extremely common near the mouth of the harbour, but an increasing traffic has driven this animal to the southward, and the only establishments at present are in the province of St. Catharine's. It forms another of the royal monopolies, and, in 1820, it was farmed out to some Frenchmen.
The other trade carried on in Brazilian bottoms is very much confined to that with the mother country; its dependencies, as Madeira and its possessions in Africa and the east. The traffic with China is still continued, but no longer in that way which made Portugal at one time the envy of all maritime nations.
The internal trade is very much confined to the products of the district of the mines, and is carried
on by means of large troops of mules, some of which, from the western provinces of Gozaz and Matto Grosso, are four months on the journey. It is not easy to learn with accuracy the produce of the diamond mines, as they are worked by government, and strictly monopolized: much smuggling consequently prevails. In some years the quantity discovered by government has amounted to as much as 4000 octavas of eighteen carats, but these are years of rare occurrence: taking the average, however, of some years, the number of octavas would come to near 1200. In this quantity there would be, of course, many of large size, adding immensely to the value. It is calculated that about the same quantity is smuggled; and there are strong reasons to suppose, that if no difficulties were thrown in the way, owing to the facility with which they are obtained, the produce of Brazil diamonds, in every way as fine as the oriental, would have considerable effect on the demand.
With respect to the quantity of gold which comes from the mines, it is immersed in a certain degree of obscurity. The one-fifth due to government is the principal cause that I never could ascertain, in each mine which I visited, its exact produce. I shall have another opportu-
nity of saying more on this head, and explaining why the produce of the gold mines is on the decrease, which I certainly conceive to be the case. Knowing the amount of the workings at the commencement of the century, and from information I collected in Rio de Janeiro and in the mines, and making allowances for that exaggeration so common in Brazil, and all new countries, I consider the annual value of gold certainly does not exceed £900,000, including the contraband.
No silver is produced in Brazil. As there is lead, it would be too much to affirm that none exists, but probably the quantity would be trifling. The silver coin is mostly Spanish dollars, restamped into three patack pieces, by which a considerable profit is obtained on each.
The quantity of precious stones shipped is not now very considerable. In most cases they are sent to a losing market, being, in fact, more valuable in Brazil than in London or Paris. Aqua marines, of very large size, have been found. In January, 1811, one was found in the Riberao das Americanas, near the Diamond District, which weighed fifteen pounds, and in the same place, in the October following, one was discovered weighing four pounds. Topazes, of
fine quality, but seldom large, amethysts and crisolites, are also articles of exportation, and, at times, some fine specimens of these gems are to be met with in the jewellers' shops.
Correctly speaking, there are no trading companies in Rio de Janeiro: there is a society for effecting maritime assurances, but no other.
The Bank of Brazil has had very extensive concessions made in its favour, and ought to be in flourishing state. It has the power of issuing notes; and all disputed monies, and all property of the deceased and absent (mortes e auzentes) must be placed in its hands, and two per cent. per annum, charged for the care and trouble. This, in addition to the interest which might be obtained for the deposit, would alone, in an active mercantile country, form no inconsiderable revenue. Specie is prohibited from being carried coastwise: merchants who wish to deposit cash in one of the northern ports, where the largest purchases are made, are, therefore, forced to take bank bills, and pay a premium for them varying from three to five per cent.
Some enormous capital have been amassed, but generally, the speculations of the native merchants are conducted on a limited scale.
The legal rate of interest is six per cent. but money can seldom be obtained under twelve.
Unless in particular situations round the city, land is, of course, sufficiently cheap. Nature has not made such differences in soil and situations as in other countries, and without a considerable capital is expended in the purchase of slaves, nothing on a large scale can be attempted. The government, on proper application, makes se smari as, or rants of land, which, on neglect of cultivation, revert to the crown; but these, as it may be supposed, are now either far removed from the coast, or in districts adjoining the Indian tribes and in the one case, on account of the distance to market, and in the other, insecurity, are little desirable. The wealth of the country is much confined to the merchants and planters, certainly not to the very highest classes of the state.
The community is divided into two classes; the Brazilians and the Portuguese, who mingle little in society: the higher classes of Portuguese seldom give entertainments; their houses, generally mean and ill furnished, and the warmth of the climate, which rendered any long subservience to the laws of society extremely disagreeable, are the principal barriers, perhaps; to many parties taking place. It seems as if they regarded Brazil as a mere temporary abode, and had resolved to put up with every inconve-
nience, and submit to every deprivation of society, rather than attempt to give that air of comfort to their dwellings which an Englishman looks for under any circumstances. With one exception, and that might be accounted for by the lady being of British extraction, few houses were opened. Foreigners were, therefore, thrown very much on their own resources. The corps diplomatique considered themselves of one nation, and admitted the most distinguished of the foreigners and the best informed of the natives into their society: most of the foreign ministers had orders to employ intelligent collectors of natural history, to furnish the respective cabinets of their nations, and this naturally engendered a taste in the diplomatist. From what has been already said respecting the extent of trade carried on by different nations, it may be supposed that many of the representatives at this court had not a pressure of business on their hands between the period of the sailings and arrivals of the packets, and every one followed some pursuit.
Visits were usually exchanged in the evenings, when the coolness of the temperature made full dress less disagreeable. Balls occasionally took place, but the heat and inconvenience may be
conceived when it is mentioned, that English country dances were in vogue, danced much quicker than in England, and that every door and window was kept shut to exclude the night air.
The Opera, which is supported by an annual lottery, and afforded to many some amusement, was not conducted in that way which an European audience would have demanded. No great attention to cleanliness was paid, and it cannot be denied that some of the Venuses of the ballet were not exactly of an European tint; but, in this climate, great allowances must be made, and the first theatre in South America must not be too severely criticised. The performances were alternately Portuguese and Italian.
In the opinion of most persons, the Royal Chapel afforded the greatest satisfaction to the lovers of music. Similarly arranged to that of Lisbon in former days, no expense was spared to render the performance fully worthy of the subject. Sopranos, as many as fourteen or fifteen, mingled their peculiar voices in the music of Portugallo and the finest church composers, forming, on the whole, a strain of melody duly appreciated by foreigners in particular. Ex-
cepting when the court was present, the auditory was principally composed of foreigners and the lowest classes of society.
The mode of life among the descendants of the first settlers is very different to that of the Portuguese who had been attracted to the country by the presence of the king, or who had sought it for temporary causes of profit or advancement. With the former, climate, surrounding country, vegetation, fruits, every thing was to be praised; while with the latter this eulogium was soon arrested with sighs, and Lisbon and the Tagus were directly brought forward. Under these circumstances, the Brazilians mixed little with a nobility more than commonly fond of their antiquity, and who considered themselves (though it is. not easy to see on what account) so decidedly superior to their fellow subjects. The habits of the last are different. They rise early and commence the day by hanging out of the window partially dressed to enjoy the morning air: they dine early, spend much time on the sofa, eat a substantial supper and retire for the night. Their food is more American than European; mandioca flour yields to that of wheat, and when they entertain, a rare occurrence, the table groans with the weight of dishes. Taking little
exercise and a great proportion of food, they become, at that period of life when the passions moderate, much stouter and more corpulent than is generally the case in Europe: this remark more particularly applies to the women. It is on Sundays and on feast days that all the wealth and magnificence of a Brazilian family is exhibited. At an early hour the household prepares for church, and marches, almost without exception, in the following order: first, the master, with cocked hat, white trowsers, blue linen jacket, shoes and buckles, and a gold headed cane; next follows the mistress, in white muslin, with jewels, a large white fan in her hand, white shoes and stockings; flowers ornament the dark hair: then follow the sons and daughters; afterwards a favourite mulatto girl of the lady, with white shoes and stockings, perhaps two or three of the same rank; next a black môrdomo, or steward, with cocked hat, breeches and buckles; next blacks of both sexes, with shoes and no stockings, and several others without either; and two or three black boys, little incumbered with clothes, bring up the rear.
Marriages, at least such as I had an opportunity of witnessing, were attended by few. The bride first went into the confessional, and
then approached the altar, where the intended husband was waiting for her. Their right hands being then bound firmly together by a gold band, the prayers commenced, and at their termination the hands were loosed and the ceremony was complete. Marriages are formed, when the parties are very young, and it is by no means uncommon to meet with mothers not thirteen years old. The climate and the retired habits of the Brazilian women, have, early in life, a considerable effect on their appearance. When extremely young, their fine dark eyes and full person make them generally admired, but a few years work a change in their appearance, which long continued ill health could scarcely effect in Europe. It may be said, that their youth extends from ten to twenty-five.
Funerals generally take place at night: the body being conveyed to the church, is exposed to view in full dress, and wearing the most expensive jewels and decorations of the deceased. After the service is performed, the body is removed into the vault, stripped of its richest habits, some pieces of quick lime laid in the coffin, which is then locked, and the nearest relation receives the key. It is then put into a niche in the wall, and the company retires.
The Portuguese spoken by the Brazilians is
VOL. I. F
easily distinguishable from that used by the natives of the mother country. The mode of speaking is much slower, a peculiarity to be observed in all colonies, and can only be accounted for by the climate depriving them of that activity of mind of which there is no deficiency in Europe; producing, in fact, considerable lassitude. The pronunciation of the Brazilians is not so nasal nor so jewish in the sound of the e, and on the whole it is a more agreeable language than in the mouth of a native.
In all new countries the state of literature must of necessity be far from flourishing. The variety of wants, which leave little time for intellectual enjoyment, and the effects of the climate, are more than sufficient excuses, if any be wanting, for this deficiency. "This is not," said a Benedictine to me, as I left the worm eaten library of his convent, "this is not the country to read in;" and he told the truth. It requires more energy—more love of reading than is innate in the native of this fine country, to struggle against an increasing lassitude. Literature, like many other things, can be always imported into a new country at a cheaper rate than it can be raised. General opulence and a certain degree of luxury, must first exist
before the poet or historian can make his appearance.
The public library contains a large proportion of books on church history and divinity, some classics, and many others of a rare and uncommon description; but very few to satisfy the inquiring stranger in the early history and discovery of the country. At first sight it would appear, if Mr. Southey, in his very excellent and laborious history of Brazil, had not shown the contrary, that few materials of this nature were to be discovered. It was asserted that many interesting MSS. were in. the hands of individuals, who would not permit any examination to take place.
Under such circumstances, it may be seen that the press does not teem with publications. The only work of any merit printed at Rio de Janeiro, is the "Corografia Brazilica."* The author, Padre Cazal, has exhibited considerable research, and the work is considered by competent judges to fulfil all it professes. It is dedicated to the king; but his name has not been very successful in obtaining subscribers to it, for the number does not reach a hundred, and it is remarkable that the list does not exhibit
* Two vols. 4to.—Rio de Janeiro, 1817.
the name of a single nobleman. Another work was publishing, under the title of "Memorial Historicas sobre o Brazil," by a priest of the name of Pizarro, but it was considered a heavy compilation, the author having directed his attention principally to church history, into which he has entered with minuteness. It was supposed that many volumes would issue before the work was completed. Since the late changes have taken place, the press has been freed from many shackles, and hundreds of political pamphlets have appeared. During the king's residence there was only one press, and the expenses of printing and the trouble of obtaining the necessary licenses threw such difficulties in the way that few persevered in the attempt. The Gazette, published twice a week, contained little but official papers, and the marine list; but as to news, it was far behind tae rest of the world. In February, 1820, it was giving the European news of the March of the preceding year.
The Conde de Linhares, prime minister in 1810, gave all the encouragement in his power to the literature of Brazil. He caused all the catechisms and vocabularies of the tongues of the indigenous tribes, collected by the indefatigable Jesuits, to be examined, and a reprint made of
their dictionary of the Lingua Geral. This language, generally understood by all the tribes, is considered to be Tupinamba, and from its abounding in vowels, to be too soft and not sufficiently nervous.
A Plan was arranged for writing an account of all the medicinal plants in use in Brazil, and an apothecary in the city had made a collection for that purpose, but the idea was soon abandoned.
The public museum has been lately enriched by various additions of minerals, but the collection in this department, and, as far I am capable of judging in all others, gave but a very inferior idea of the natural riches of the country. The collection of diamonds, one that ought to have been without its equal, from the great facility of procuring from the treasury such stones as were not worth cutting, but curious on account of form, was very much below several collections in the hands of private individuals in London; and it was only towards the latter part of my residence in the country, that there was a single crystal of gold in the museum. The emperor has lately added a gallery of paintings, which may assist materially the studies of some native artists, who showed a talent worthy of every encouragement.
The state of the medical art, among the native practitioners, was in a low condition: old systems and remedies, long since exploded in Europe, were still preserved; but fortunately several foreigners had established themselves and met with the encouragement they deserved.
Bookselling in Rio de Janeiro is a bad trade. The stock remains long on hand; is materially injured by insects and the prices are consequently high. Translations from the French, chiefly on light subjects, and from the English of old medical books, and religious books, appeared to m with the readiest sale. When Sir George Staunton visited this city in 1792, there were but two booksellers in it, and now there are but four.
It was often proposed to establish an university in Brazil, but hitherto without success. The jealousy of the Portuguese was effectually opposed to such a measure, and those who had crossed the Atlantic to obtain a degree, thought their successors might do the same. Since the separation from the mother country, the plan has been renewed, and will at last be put into execution. In the absence of an university there formerly existed a large public school, but being latterly little frequented, it fell into decay, and
the building was converted into a military hospital. The emperor, however, re-established the institution by means of a national lottery; the revenue of which has been applied to the support of the Foundling Hospital, and other charitable institutions. The number of small schools is considerable, and latterly, a large establishment on Bell's system has been opened.
If the quantum of religion existing in a country were to be measured by its external signs, no country could possibly possess more than Brazil. Every day some festival or other is announced by the discharging of rockets and the ringing of bells; and when the number of saints in the calendar is considered, and also that the eight preceding and the nine succeeding days of the holiday are kept with becoming pomp, it may be well conceived that the year is completely filled up. On arriving first in this country, a stranger imagines that the Pope has no where more devoted servants, and that all the pomp exhibited in the processions arose out of great zeal and attachment to religion, but this impression soon wears away, and the true feelings of the people on these topics, and their reverence for the clergy, are easily observed. The religious processions are conducted with great splendour. Angels are personified by
pretty girls, dressed up with wings and high heeled shoes, and supported by their fathers; large models of wax, representing the events of the festival, are either carried by priests, or are so large as to require the aid of horses. The balconies are ornamented with carpets, and the streets are strewed with flowers.
I have before remarked that there are only two convents for women; the number in either is very limited. Of late years, few ladies have taken the veil, their feelings not being at all directed that way; nor indeed, in a new country, should such a state of celibacy be in anyway encouraged, nor even permitted, except among those who, from age or infirmity, are unlikely to contribute towards the increase of population.
The superstitions of the European Portuguese and Spaniards are so well known, that it need scarcely be said, that they exist in Brazil. This is not mentioned to cast any slur on the country: for what nation has not its peculiar superstition, and will it not exist as long as the world lasts? The principal feeling is that which regards evil eyes (olhado). When sickness occurs, the first consideration is, not how to obtain relief, but who has been the evil-eyed person that occasioned it. It is a strong expres-
sion in the mouth of an angry Brazilian, "I will fix evil eyes on him." This idea may have derived some strength from the indigenous Indians, who have much dealing with feyticeria, witchcraft, and place in particular great faith in evil eyes. Not many years since, the Indians of Marogogippe burnt a young woman alive on the mere suspicion of having set evil eyes on a sick person; and a female relation was obliged to fly on the same accusation. It is, however, satisfactory, to think that all evils have a remedy; and in the Rua do Rosario, small hands, made of a black composition called Maõs d' Azebiche, are sold for the purpose in great numbers. Every Brazilian carries about his person either some preservative of this sort, or some charm which is to render him successful in all his undertakings. My mule driver, whose charm I examined when he was asleep, and on which it was observed he placed great confidence, had suspended about his neck a small piece of magnetic iron, which was to make him an object of attraction to all fair ladies, and fortunate with them. That witches should exist in Brazil cannot be wondered at, when it is remembered that even in England they have been met with in very modern times.
In Rio de Janeiro, where there are so many
foreigners, many persuasions must exist, but, with the exception of the English, no open worship has taken place. By the Treaty of 1810, they were allowed the exercise of their religion, but any exercise for that purpose was to be externally like a private house. The natives do not, however, imagine that we have many religious ideas, and they are led to this conclusion by our outward shew, and in fact have no other way of judging.
I shall conclude this chapter with what the traveller who wishes to pronounce impartially, and not to judge superficially and cruelly, always finds the most difficult, that of describing the morals and manners of the Brazilians. It becomes extremely difficult, from the jealous feelings of the inhabitants, to pourtray their domestic arrangements. The Brazilian husband keeps a strict eye over the economy of his house, and declares that "dentro da casa eu sou douo," that indoors he is master, and that if any thing wrong takes place, it shall not be there. The household, composed of slaves, is naturally anxious to obtain the favour of the master, who can grant manumission, and some one will be always ready to report what may take place in his absence. From this it will be seen that if the inclination to err exists it is not easy to find
opportunity from the mode of life, and from the strict etiquette which prevails. If the population were composed of one colour, the prevailing character could be depicted with more facility; but a great proportion of the vices of the Portugueze and their descendants is sunk in that mass of depravity peculiar to a slave population, obliged to obey every will and passion of their masters. This circumstance softens down considerably the quantity of vice: it does not render it less odious, but certainly not so destructive to society. Those connections which, unknown, are formed with mulattoes and blacks, are less likely to affect public morals, than those formed with whites, and openly exposed to the world. Upon the whole, on this subject, the inhabitants of Brazil are not the most correct; but when every circumstance is taken into account, many excuses may be found. The conduct of the clergy, as more is expected from them than the other classes, is certainly the most reprehensible; and when the detail of my journey into the interior is given, I shall have an opportunity of saying more about this body. One of them, a Padre Canto, had four mulatto sons, who, following the mother, according to the custom of all slave countries, were slaves. He sold two of them, and the others performed
the pleasing and filial act of carrying their father about the town in a sedan-chair. But it should be added, that this was not a common instance of paternal conduct, and the priest was as much pointed at by his own countrymen as by foreigners.
The kindness exhibited to the slaves and servants is too well known to be mentioned here. That some slave-holders should afford an example to the contrary, cannot be wondered at, when the different tempers of man are considered; but, generally, nothing can exceed their kindness. The respect and tenderness paid to their parents are beyond all praise. A calumny has been repeated over and over again, that in the exercise of private revenge no measures are kept, and that private murders are constantly occurring. This is certainly far from being the case. I only wish that this crime were as seldom committed in the civilized countries of Europe. It may be supposed, that the police being excellent, is the cause of this, but the reverse is the case, for this body is suspected of committing half the robberies about the city, and it is thought without much injustice. House robberies occasionally take place, but mostly with those persons who do not recollect that the blacks have little command over their pro-
pensities and cannot resist temptation when the chances of discovery are so few, and their ideas of the crime so trifling. Street robberies are very rare. Instances of Europeans returning late at night for months from the city to the neighbourhood, and never being attacked, are the most satisfactory proofs that can be offered." Although ardent spirits are to be obtained at a low price, drunkenness is little met with in any class a degree removed above the common black, in spite of many notorious examples offered them by Europeans. I shall conclude with observing, and without wishing to extenuate any thing, that taking into account the mixed nature of the inhabitants, the number of foreigners, and the mulatto and black population, no greater quantity of vice exists here than in the European cities of London, Paris, or Berlin.
Population, Indians.—The Negro Race, Numbers and Treatment, Emancipation, Native Tribes.—Emigration, Swiss Colony.—Constitution, Support of the Clergy, Finances, Military and Naval Force.—Political Changes and Prospects.
THE population of Brazil has been usually very much overrated: Correa da Serra mentions 3,000,000 as having been the calculation in some French journals some years back (in 1798), and infers that, from the gradual and known increase of population, the actual amount when he wrote (about 1808), can scarcely be under four millions. From the best information I could obtain in Rio de Janeiro, I am inclined to think, that at the period of the king's arrival the population never reached that amount; and it is evident that, constituted as it is of so large a proportion of Indians and slaves, the usual allowance made in Europe for increase can never hold good under such circumstances. I am convinced that, taking into the calculation the many Portuguese who have quitted Brazil since the king's return to Europe, the popula-
tion does not even now exceed three millions. I am not provided with sufficient data to give the exact proportion of the races, and it would be to a certain degree fanciful, but the return would be, in large calculations, in this way, viz.
|3-5ths blacks or descendants of blacks||1,800,000|
In 1792, Sir George Staunton gives 600,000 blacks to 200,000 whites; but making allowances for exaggeration, and comparing the different accounts I could collect, I think the truth is somewhere about what has been stated above. The amount of Indian population it is not so easy to ascertain, from the wandering nature of the tribes, their hostility to the Portuguese, the fear of taxation or slavery, and the hidden nature of their retreats. As late as 1821, two new tribes were discovered to the north-east of the Minas Novas, speaking a language perfectly distinct and unknown to the others.
The population of the capital has been variously stated. From the details I received, and a careful observation of the number of each class met in the streets, and making proper allowances, the number stands thus:—
|The total amount of population of Rio de Janeiro, Brazilians and Portuguese, blacks and men of colour, Indians and mixed races, and including foreigners||135,000|
|And divided as follows:—|
|Brazilians and Portuguese||25,000|
|Gipsies, Indians, Caboclos*||1,000|
The number of Gipsies is estimated at 400; they remain as distinct as in Europe, and preserve the same character and customs. It is almost superfluous to mention that they arrived in this country when it was used as a place of banishment for criminals.
The number of Indians in the city is trifling, and owe their presence almost entirely to some of the Mineiros, or inhabitants of the district of the mines, having brought them down as servants or slaves. For this reason the mixture of the two races of blacks and Indians amounts to little. I cannot take upon myself to say what proportion the number of enfranchised blacks and people of colour bears to the slaves, but it
* Mixture of the Indian races.
is probably considerable, as the Brazilians emancipate more than any other nation.
This estimate is given upon the best data that could be collected, and must be considered to apply to the period directly after the departure of the court for Lisbon. The Portuguese who left on that occasion have been estimated at 12,000.
It has been already stated that the number of slaves imported annually into Rio de Janeiro, is somewhere about 21,000; while into the other ports, a comparatively larger portion enters, from the demand being there something greater. The proportion of negroes being so large, and forming such an important feature in this country, I may be permitted to enlarge a little on this topic.
The chief points on the coast of Africa furnishing slaves to Brazil, are Loango, Cabinda, Angola, and Benguela on the west; Mozambique and Sofala on the east. The trade as yet is not under such restrictions as tend to take off any of the severities of the passage, and the slave-dealer calculates that if half the cargo arrives the profit is sufficient. The ships are consequently crammed with this unhappy race, and the mortality on board is often dreadful.
VOL. I. G
The voyage from the west coast is comparatively of little import from its shortness and prevalent good weather, but in the vessels rounding the Cape of Good Hope, at one period of the year as bad or worse than the Cape Horn, the loss of life is frequently horrible; stress of weather often obliging the captains to throw their provisions and water overboard, and no port at hand to afford relief. No Englishman can possibly wish that any countenance should be shewn to such a traffic; but 1 would submit, whether the strict prohibition to slavers to touch at the Cape of Good Hope does not often produce greater sufferings in the slaves, and operate rather to add to their already unhappy fate, than in any way contribute to put a stop to the commerce?
As soon as the ship arrives, the cargo is landed and prepared for sale. The males, and females (a large proportion), are placed in separate apartments, and wait the choice of the purchaser. When any one well dressed, and with a good tempered countenance, enters the ware-house, the slaves shew their muscles and endeavour to ingratiate themselves, and, by tempting a buyer, leave their wretched abode.
The price of a new slave varies from 25l. to 40l. according to quality; but a slave possess-
ing the knowledge of any useful trade will sell for 200l. On quitting the warehouse the slaves leave the greatest part of their miseries behind, and without wishing it to be inferred that they lead an enviable life, nobody can affirm, on seeing them singing and dancing in the streets, that they are wretched and continually pining over their unhappy fate. In many cases they appear to do as they please, and completely rule their indolent masters.
I have before mentioned that their treatment is far from severe. It does sometimes happen that a slave falls into the hands of a poor man, and, like a horse under similar circumstances in England, must work harder and fare worse; and occasional instances of severity are recorded, but these are rare. The laws affecting them have been much softened down or grown into desuetude. It is now stipulated that they shall not be marked with an iron barimba, but with a silver one, by which it is said much pain is avoided. Neither is it any longer a crime in the negroes to convene in their native tongues, and the prohibition to carry knives is not now so strictly attended to. The owner has the power of giving a certain number of blows, which if not thought adequate to the offence, he goes to the Judge of the Police, states the
crime, and obtains an order on the public flogger for a certain number of stripes, for which he pays by the hundred. The Brazilian generally takes the law into his own hands, as being more merciful than sending the offender to the common executioner, who it is presumed is more skilled in the art of punishment: and they do not hesitate to consider the foreigner who resorts to this latter mode as more cruel than themselves. For offences of a more serious nature, imprisonment, working in chains on public works, or carrying water from the different fountains to the public offices and hospitals, are the most usual punishments. It is not however correct to judge of the quantity of crime by the amount of punishment, for many of the owners cannot afford to lose the time of the slave while undergoing them; and if moderate chastisements, such as they can themselves inflict, have no effect, they sell them, para fora da terra, for such employs as will take them out of the country. The vices of blacks are peculiar to them in every country, and a great proportion must be attributed to their condition.
The use of blacks is so engrafted with the habits, they are, say the Brazilians, so much more useful and steady than white servants, which is to a certain extent true, that at present there is little prospect of their giving way
to the latter. Many of them shew a considerable degree of aptitude, more particularly mulattoes; but it is well known that an increase of honesty and sobriety does not generally accompany this increase of talent. No Padres Mestres, " no professors," say the Brazilians; "stupid blacks are the best." Some of the advertisements for the sale of blacks are amusing, and the one below* pretty well shews the number of purposes to which they are applied.
Some enlightened Brazilians pay considerable attention to the morals and religion of their slaves; but marriage, which should be unrestrained in a slave country by considerations which must not be overlooked in Europe, but
* The advertisement runs thus:—
Quem quizer comprar hum Escravo proprio para Boliero, que sabe tocar Piano e Marimba e alguma couza da musica e com principio de alfaiate, derejase á botica da Travessa da Candelaria canto da Rua dos Pescadores, No. 6.—thus translated,—
Whoever wishes to purchase a slave fit for a coachman, who can play on the Piano and Marimba, and combines with a knowledge of music some acquaintance with the trade of a tailor, may apply at the Apothecary's shop, &c. &c.—From the Rio de Janeiro Gazette of Saturday, 8th July, 1820.
The Marimba is a musical instrument much used by the blacks, by whom it was introduced. It is formed of five small steel bars fastened over a half gourd. It yields rather a monotonous sound, but which however does not want admirers among the lower classes.
on the contrary, encouraged in every way, is but little attended to. The increase is left to chance, and, from the trifling value of infants, owing to the lapse of time before they can work, and the little care bestowed on them, scarcely amounts to any thing.
The Brazilians are much in the habit of freeing their slaves, but to judge by the usual effects of enfranchisement, the negro had better remain in the trammels of slavery. The free blacks are usually idle, vicious, and disorderly. From being turned on the world when unfit for it, and unaccustomed to spend a moment in thought, they are improvident, and in most instances become a disgrace to themselves, and a bad example to their former companions. If slaveowners, they are far more cruel masters than the Portuguese, and often punish from national enmities quite unknown to the whites. That instances to the contrary of this may be adduced, is extremely likely, but such undoubtedly are the more usual effects of enfranchisement in Brazil and everywhere else.—By the lower order of Brazilians they are considered a very inferior race, and their belief as to original formation is a little singular. At the time, say they, of the creation of Adam, Satan looked on and formed a man of clay, but every thing he touched
becoming black, he determined to wash him white in the Jordan: on his approach the river retired, and he had only time to push the black man on the wet sand, which touching the soles of his feet and the palms of his hands, accounts for the whiteness of these parts. The Devil, in a state of irritation, struck his creation on the nose, by which the flatness of that organ was accomplished. The negro then begged for mercy, and humbly represented that no blame could be attached to him, upon which the other, something pacified, patted him on the head, and by the heat of his hands, curled his hair in the way it is seen at the present day.
Such is the fanciful idea of the Brazilians respecting the origin of the black race, and it is of about equal value with many of the theories formed by enlightened men in Europe. It must be confessed, the sufferings heaped upon them would seem to shew that the world thought they had emanated rather from the evil spirit than from the beneficent Creator of all.
If the effects of enfranchising slaves are upon the whole so little beneficial to themselves and dangerous to the whites,—and this is a truth which all who have spent some time in a slaveholding country will readily concede,—it becomes a question what is to be the remedy. If Brazil
could see its real interest, it would at once put an end to the importation, and trust to great care and attention to those already in the country for a future supply. The negroes in Brazil are generally in a healthy state, the climate being fine, and the Mines not of that description where there is a great waste of life; so that no extraordinary demand can instantly take place, and with care in a short time there would be a sufficiency for all purposes. The planters would be no losers by the stoppage of the traffic, for the value of their slaves would be greatly increased, and more solicitude would be expressed for the fate of the children who are now thought scarcely worth the trouble of raising. The next matter is to give them a proper sense of religion, and the catholic, sufficiently fascinating to Europeans, would readily make converts among the African race. To this must be joined such other plain education as shall suit their purpose. The Brazilians should by no means be permitted to enfranchise their slaves until it is quite certain that the slave can by his own exertions and steadiness maintain himself and become a respectable member of society. To act in this way would be the height of kindness; but to turn a black into the world absolutely, in many cases, without common sense to direct his steps,
so far from being a charitable deed, is, on the contrary, one every way worthy of reprehension. It may be compared to turning out a child who has only served half his apprenticeship, and what can be expected from it? Many of the free blacks seem aware of the difficulties of their situation, and endeavour to conceal their enfranchisement. The people of Brazil, brought more in contact with their slaves, from the mildness of their disposition, and from the effects of their religion which unites them together, mix more with them than in other countries, and, forming connections with the women, enfranchise many. This in course of time will improve the race, and finish by filling the country with a free mulatto population, uniting the muscular power of the one race with the intelligence of the other, and fit for every purpose. An indigenous population will be thus created, and Brazil need not fear that other countries will be able to raise colonial products at a cheaper rate than herself. If, on the other hand, a slave importing country, or one with a slave population, leaves the mother country, who from beneficial advantages or old connections grants a monopoly, or discriminating duties in her favour, she will be without a market for her produce: for no ties existing, it will be sought for where it can be procured at the
lowest price. The improvements in navigation are such, that a voyage to the East Indies is neither so long nor so expensive as it used to be; and that great continent, with its indigenous stock, will soon drive all competitors out of the market.
The traffic which has been abandoned for some years by England, and successively by the other nations of Europe, is still carried on by Brazil. A mixed Commission of English and Portuguese has been for some years established in Rio de Janeiro, to adjudicate such vessels as may have been captured trading to the north of the line, contrary to the convention between the two countries. One vessel was brought in, and powerful interest was made to prevent condemnation, and a strong demonstration of feeling against the act was at first evident; but when it was discovered that the slaves, if liberated, would be delivered over to masters for the term of seven years, every one was anxious to have the preference, and obtain, as it were, a capital without purchase. In fact it was nothing less. The slaves are taken away; and what English Commissioner can recognize the features of three or four hundred blacks, at the distance of seven years? And how is it possible to discover the various frauds that may be com-
mitted? In fact, these restrictions, originating no doubt in the best intentions, are little, if at all, calculated to soften the condition of the African. What is the fate of the re-captured negro, carried into Sierra Leone? Would it not have been better for him to have quietly reached the Brazil shores, and been sent to work in a plantation, than to be marched about the Castle-yard in the tightened habits of a soldier, of all others the most galling to a black, and subsequently transported to our West India islands, to fill up the ranks? I make these observations without meaning that any blame should be inferred, but only to shew that the well meant endeavours of legislators have decidedly not bettered the condition of the negro race. It seems to me, that either the trade should be root and branch destroyed, all nations making crusade against it, and punishing with the greatest severity those concerned in it, or else that it should be still permitted and allowed to be carried on, under strict and proper regulations. The first alternative is what every man, more particularly a Briton, would wish to see carried into effect; but, from the jealousy of other nations, from the low character of the traders, and more particularly from the great extent of coast to be watched, it must be con-
sidered as a difficult, if not impossible measure. The other I should be sorry to see adopted; but if the condition of the negro is to be alone considered, if the cruelties of the passage are to be avoided, there can be no doubt in any man's mind which is the more eligible. At any rate, the insufficiency of the present measures must be universally acknowledged.
The present state of the Indians in Brazil is not nearly so good as it was many years ago. For the most part, they are wandering tribes; having few wants, and supplying them by the chase: they reside in thick woods, have little more than an idea of a good and evil spirit, and of a future world. The Puris, a nation on the Rio Preto, believe that if they prove in this life good hunters, and good sons and husbands, they will reside in the next world among thick woods, where the game will hardly require hunting: but if, on the other hand, they are found undeserving, they will be turned into a country where no tree exists, and where they will wander about in a state of starvation. From the nature of the life they lead, their subjection to an inferior chief must be extremely limited.
The Botucudus, a nation dwelling between the coasts and the Minas Geraes, in lat. 19°
and 20° S., with pierced lips, and ears with pieces of wood inserted, and a portion of whom, frequenting the banks of the Iiguitonhonha, have yielded to the Brazilians, are still believed to be anthropophagi, but it rests on slight foundation. The Marquis of Pombal, whose comprehensive mind effected much for this country, declared its Indigenes to be free. This act, which placed them on a more peaceable footing with the Portuguese, who were in the habit of pursuing them whenever they could, united to the indefatigable industry of the Jesuits, ameliorated considerably their condition. During the residence of the Court, a decree was promulgated, which permitted a slavery of ten years to the Portuguese possessor of an Indian. This measure has again checked the intercourse between many of the tribes, and set others at war, in order to carry off the children to the Brazilian cultivator. It is to be hoped that the great abuses on this head will be soon remedied.
The wandering habits of the Indians totally forbid that persevering labour requisite in plantations, and little or no good can arise from their employment. Foreigners, in the pursuit of natural history, have, however, been much indebted to their exertions. Few Indians are seen in Rio de Janeiro.
It is a favourite statement with writers, that all the Indians of South America resemble each other in features; but I could never discover any resemblance between the Botucudus, two of whom were exhibited some time since in London, and the Puris, or Coropos, of Brazil, the Indians of Paraguay, the Araucanos of Chile, or the small skulled descendants of the subjects of the Incas. As far as the South American languages are known, there seem to be a number of words common to each, all down the east side of the continent. On the west, the same thing may occur, many Chile words being in use in the islands of the Gulf of Mexico; but it is more than probable they have been carried thither by their Spanish conquerors.
Emigration to Brazil from the mother country may be considered as nearly at an end. In fact, the Portuguese dwell in a country, which, with the exception of the precious metals, offers them in climate and productions every thing they can wish. The return of the King to Europe has taken away the nobility to such an extent, that the number in 1821 did not amount to half a dozen, and the Emperor was obliged to create a new court in one day. The trading Portuguese, from insecurity of goods and person, have also retired, in a great measure, to Europe. It behoves the new go-
vernment, therefore, to grant every facility to foreigners inclined to try their fortune in Brazil, securing them by law a naturalization without much expense, and every protection afterwards.
The King of Portugal, well disposed, but weak, endeavoured in 1820 to form a colony, and resolved it should be of Swiss, who were represented to him as being of more moral habits than other Europeans. A contract was entered into with the Swiss Consul for a thousand families: they were chosen from the different cantons, and conducted to Hamburgh and Amsterdam, and took shipping for Rio de Janeiro. On the voyage, the small pox proved very fatal; and, on their arrival, they were marched to a district near Canto Gallo, at tye head of the Bay, subsequently named, in compliment to them, New Fribourg. Instead of finding there the grounds ready to be tilled, and huts fit to be occupied, every thing was yet to be done. Support was of course given to the colonists, but having nothing to occupy themselves with, the climate began to take effect on their numbers, and on the habits of the survivors. Discord broke out, and the troops, in one instance at least, were called in, and some lives lost: jealousy and misrepresentations prevailed at the seat of government; intercourse with the city was under restrictions;
and, at the change of government, the settlers became much distressed, and dispersed in every direction. The government laid the blame on the contractor, for not having selected catholics, according to the stipulations; and that, instead of families, he had brought out many single persons of dissolute habits; and to sum up all, had ill-treated them on the passage. The contractor, in a pamphlet distributed in Rio de Janeiro, repelled these accusations, and retorted on the government, that, although the arrival of these settlers had been expected for months, they found no preparations making for their reception; and that, owing to remaining so long in a state of idleness, they had at last become useless subjects; that, with regard to a shortness of provisions on the voyage, it was so far from being the case, that a residue of unused stores was sold to English men of war on the station. However, the attempt proved quite unsuccessful, and blame rests with both parties, and some portion with the climate. It must be admitted, that tropical countries can never be favourable to an emigration en masse from Europe. The climate is too warm, the native vegetation too rapid, and food is raised with too much facility: indolence, sickness, and death, are the consequences.
During the residence of the King of Portugal
in Brazil, the constitution was essentially the same as that of the mother country, an absolute hereditary monarchy, with a council of state, secretaries and boards for the administration of the treasury, war, and home departments.
In 1820, when the ancient Cortes of the kingdom were called together, it was determined to consider Brazil as an integral part of the empire, and that deputies should be sent to Europe to represent it, but they were little attended to in the debates; and scarcely had the whole of them arrived, before fresh changes took place, and they recrossed the Atlantic.
In September, 1822, the Prince Regent was acclaimed, by the general voice. Emperor; and a general constituent and legislative Assembly having been elected, his Majesty, in his address of May, 1823, charged the House to prepare such a constitution as should be suited to the mixed nature of the population, and formed on a basis that had stood the test of ages; one that should grant perfect liberty to the people, and a sufficiency of power to the executive. He charged the deputies to prepare a constitution in which the three powers should be perfectly distinct, and not arrogate rights to which they had no claim:—a constitution, in short, which, placing barriers to despotism of every descrip-
VOL. I. H
tion, should at once consolidate the empire, and create union, tranquillity, and independence. That the different constitutions formed after the models of 1791 and 1792, it has been shown, are theoretical, fanciful, and consequently impracticable; and France, Spain, and lastly Portugal, have demonstrated the truth of this. That such constitutions did not form the happiness of the people, but the contrary, for after an unbridled licentiousness, either despotism or anarchy follows. The Emperor concludes by expressing a hope, that the constitution to be submitted to him will be of such a nature as to gain his approbation, and that of all civilized nations.
The Assembly continued their labours until August, 1823, when the project of a constitution was published, an abstract of which will be found in the Appendix.*
On the 12th of the same month, the Assembly was dissolved by the Emperor in a summary way, owing to some disputes having arisen between his Majesty and that body. An order was issued at the same time, for placing under arrest, such of the members as were known to be attached to more liberal principles. They
* Appendix, No. 4.
were forced on board a transport lying in the harbour, which immediately set sail for the destination, it was given out, of Havre de Grace: but it was imagined, from the short stock of provisions, that the coast of Africa was to be the place of banishment. A change in the ministry took place at this time:—the Emperor, declaring that the project of the constitution was not to his taste, appointed a council of state to prepare another, upon principles which his Majesty should dictate. On the 21st of December, the new project of a constitution was published, and sent all over the empire for approval. As it was sufficiently liberal in its character, the various towns and provinces were not slow in yielding their consent. This project is given in the Appendix.*
The causes of this act of violence on the part of the Emperor have never been satisfactorily explained; but there are reasons to infer, that he discovered strong symptoms of a republican nature in the conduct of the banished deputies.
It does not appear that any change is meditated with regard to the support of the clergy, which will therefore be regulated after the old
* Appendix, No, 5.
plan. The tenths are taken on the article being exposed for sale or exportation, and the government pays the beneficed clergy according to their respective cures. None of them seemed to receive less than about 200l. per annum. The conventual clergy is supported by old grants of land; and several of the orders, established in Rio de Janeiro, more particularly the Benedictines, are reputed rich.
The finances of Brazil are not by any means accurately known; for some time they were only collected in two or three provinces, the different captaincies allowing no returns to the capital; but since the surrender of Bahia the receipts have been again made to Rio de Janeiro. Taking into account every source of revenue, and reasoning from some certain data, and others supposititious, the true state of the revenue may be arrived at. The government, to its honour, has kept perfect faith with the public creditor for debts contracted by the old government, and this too at a time when, from a variety of causes, the treasury was in a most distressed state. Every economy consistent with the state of things has been practised by the Emperor, more particularly in the household, which, under the King, was in an ill regulated state.
The chief sources of revenue are the customs, inward and outward; the fifth on gold; duties on negroes, on importation, paid by the seller, and another duty on farther sale paid by the purchaser. The amounts of English imports in 1821 was about £2,300,000, which would pay fifteen per cent. From the other European powers to the extent of a million sterling, at twenty-four per cent. From the United States under £350,000. From the River Plate and Pacific, and from Portugal, India, and China, it would amount together to a sum of £800,000. To this must be added the one-fifth on gold, which, taken on £600,000, gives £120,000. Duty on 40,000 slaves imported, at a dobloon each, £120,000. The produce of the diamond mines, after deducting £50,000 expenses, will scarcely amount to as much more. The duty on exports to all quarters, £260,000; to this must be added duty on goods brought from the interior, tobacco and whale farms, taxes on the mintage, and other taxes, as equal to £1,200,000 more; forming a grand sum total of £2,500,000 of annual revenue.
It will be seen at once that this is merely an approximation under, perhaps, if any thing, the real return; and when the whole of the provinces are in a more settled condition, and
contribute towards the treasury, the finances cannot fail of being in a flourishing state. At present the greatest part is raised in the province of Rio de Janeiro and the Mines. The Emperor distinctly states, in his opening speech to the General Assembly, that, in his father's time, the revenue of the same district barely reached a million sterling; but that, with good management, he had nearly doubled it.
It may be supposed that the national expenses have been of late heavy. The charge of sending the Portuguese troops to the mother country, and the extraordinary expenses incurred by the war of Bahia, and various military works erected for the defence of the capital, have easily absorbed the amount of revenue; but should Brazil remain in a state of quiet for a short time, and affairs be well conducted, the treasury will eventually be in a flourishing state.
On the departure of the Portuguese troops, the country, with the exception of the militia, was without any organized force for its defence. With an activity hitherto unknown in Brazil, a body of a thousand men was speedily raised and embarked for Bahia. In addition to this, a regiment of foreigners, and a battalion of artillery formed of free blacks, joined the militia. In the province of the Minas Geraes there is
a cavalry regiment of 600 men, well equipped. These would, together, form a regular effective force of 2,600 men.
The militia has been well organized for some years, and is confined to the white population. It may amount to about six thousand men.
I have mentioned in a former place the almost entire decay of the ancient navy of Portugal; the better part returned with the King to Lisbon. Thus destitute, the new government has exerted itself to the utmost to form another; and by repairing some vessels, buying and capturing others, it may be said to consist at this period (May, 1823) of one line-of-battle ship, Pedro Primeiro; three frigates, the Nitherohy, Piranga, and Carolina; three corvettes, a few brigs and schooners. Orders had been expedited for the purchase of six other frigates, and one was already on the stocks. In the course of a short time, Brazil will thus possess a navy as respectable as any of the secondary maritime powers of Europe; and, having few points on her coast which are not either by nature or art sufficiently fortified, has little externally to fear.
Having now described the actual state of this magnificent country, it will not prove uninteresting to return a little to the political circumstances under which it has existed for the
last three years; to describe its situation on the arrival of the King; during his residence; and the causes and effects of his return to Portugal.
It must be within every one's recollection that, previous to the change of the Court in 1807, Brazil experienced the same fate, and underwent the same policy, as the Spanish provinces of the New World. Locked up in the strictest manner from the rest of the world, little was known but from the few works of some learned men, or from the exaggerated reports of Portuguese or Spaniards met with in Lisbon or Cadiz. The riches drawn by the governments of Spain and Portugal were considered to be immense, and procured with little trouble or expense. Portugal, it was asserted, drew five millions sterling from her western possessions; and the transient visits of foreigners to Rio de Janeiro were little calculated to eradicate these delusions. The voyages of Cook and Barrow depict in forcible terms the surveillance to which they were subjected; the officers of these expeditions were scarcely permitted to examine the neighbourhood of the city, and no foreigner could, under any circumstances, obtain a settlement. The state of the country must have been almost inconceivable, and two centuries behind even
the parent state. Brazil was fully alive to the importance of the King's visit to the western continent, and hailed his arrival with acclamations. Bahia, the first port visited by his Majesty, exerted every nerve to induce him to stay, offering to build a palace, and render the city in every way worthy of his residence. In spite, however, of these temptations, he entered Rio de Janeiro in 1808.
What the actual state of Brazil would have been, if the inordinate ambition of Buonaparte had not driven the Braganza family to seek a refuge in the New World, it is not easy to see; for the large proportion of negroes must have modified considerably any dispositions towards the acts which have occurred in the Spanish provinces; but no doubt the residence of the Court must have been materially favourable to the changes that have subsequently taken place, by rendering the country rather more fit to receive the blessings of a constitution.
Shortly after the King's arrival the ports of Brazil were opened to foreigners and foreign commerce, and in 1810 a treaty was signed by Lord Strangford, which secured the British trader certain immunities and superiorities over other nations; but nothing more than the strict
friendship subsisting between the two Courts, and the material assistance of blood and treasure afforded to Portugal in every way, gave England a right to expect. This treaty was always regarded in an unfavourable light by the Brazilians, in part owing to their ignorance of the true principles of trade, and partly from a consideration that the equivalent offered to the mother country for these advantages, had nothing to do with themselves, and was of no benefit to them. However, in a few years the treaty will expire, and Brazil be better enabled to see its own interests and secure the friendship of so powerful an ally as the King of Great Britain. Portugal must deal on very different terms now that she is deprived of the principal attraction in her commerce.
In December, 1815, the King by a decree declared Brazil a kingdom, a measure which tended little to allay the jealousies with which Portugal was agitated, or create hopes of his Majesty's return to his European possessions, where discontent prevailed in every quarter. In 1817, disturbances commenced in Lisbon, and extended themselves across the Atlantic to Pernambuco, Bahia, and other places; and but for the energy of the Conde dos Arcos, go-
vernor of Bahia, it is not improbable that Brazil would have been revolutionized. The rebellion was put down, but not without the loss of some of the best heads in these captaincies. After this revolt the state remained quiet, but not regardless of passing events; and when, in 1820, the Spanish revolution commenced, every one was convinced it would soon infect the neighbouring state, already borne down by circumstances and anxious for any change which might ameliorate her condition. Portugal was however for some time inactive; either the feelings of the people were not sufficiently excited to act in opposition to a king who was singularly popular, or because matters were not sufficiently ripe to ensure success without bloodshed, which, in all the revolutions of Portugal, seems to have been the principal aim. At length, an opportunity presenting itself, the revolution was effected by the soldiery in the autumn of 1820.
It would be deviating from truth, to say that at this period Brazil was not in a flourishing state. With her resources it could not be otherwise; but it cannot be denied that every branch of public affairs was in a disordered state, and the administration of justice little more than a name. The vigilance, but not the
talents of the government, was drawn forth. Every murmur was reported—every trifling circumstance the ministers became aware of; but they accomplished nothing which might have a tendency to allay the approaching storm, or moderate the explosion which seemed to all inevitable. The first vessel which arrived from Lisbon with the news of the revolution, was placed under quarantine; no letters were allowed to leave the post-office; and every fact relating to the events in Europe were stoutly denied by those who were fully aware of their correctness. After the lapse of six weeks, when every circumstance was known, even in the most distant provinces, the whole of the despatches were published. Nevertheless, the sensation was considerable, and the question seemed simply to turn on this point, whether the King would abandon the new empire or the old; and whether he imagined that Brazil would quietly remain under the present system, or accept the invitation of Portugal to send deputies to the national cortes of Lisbon. The King was little disposed to sanction in any way the proceedings that had taken place in Europe, at the same time that his timid disposition contributed much to place him in the power of the revolutionists. He imagined that by sending the Prince Royal
to Portugal, that he should be able to restore tranquillity, and continue to wield the sceptre of both empires. The ministry resolved therefore to temporise with the Cortes, and promising that the Prince should return to Lisbon, trusted at the same time that the residence of the King would maintain the existing order of things in Brazil.
The year of 1821 commenced with a revolution at Pará, effected by the soldiery in a similar manner to that of Oporto. Bahia and Pernambuco followed this example, and declaring their adhesion to the Portuguese constitution, began to elect deputies for the cortes.
At Rio de Janeiro the revolutionary flame, from the presence of the King and the influence of the Court, was only stifled, but far from extinguished. The discontent was general, and as it appeared certain that the King did not mean to extend the constitution to Brazil, various meetings were privately held to concert means to declare it in the capital. On the morning of the 26th February, the troops having assembled, the Prince Royal, informed of what was occurring, repaired to the great square of the Rocio, and being met in his passage by different officers shouting "Long live the Constitution," joined in the cry, and afterwards
signed his adhesion, an act in which he was followed by all the principal leaders present. On the same day the King swore to defend the constitution, and a new ministry was formed.
After this event the country remained in a feverish state, but there is little doubt that if the King had kept to his original intention of continuing the seat of empire in Brazil, and sent his son to Europe, with some concessions and privileges to the Brazilians, his power might have remained unclipt, and the parent state, of little consideration after the loss of Brazil, have again come under the dominion of John VI.
On the 15th March a proclamation announced the intention of the King to embark for Europe, but the people of Brazil still entertained fervent hopes that this event would not take place, and exerted every means in their power to avert what could scarcely be regarded in any other light than as a public calamity. On the other hand, the Portuguese nobility, desirous of returning to their paternal estates, and of quitting for ever a country which they considered far inferior to Portugal, and had all along regarded as a transient abode, used every endeavour to decide the King to take leave of his transatlantic subjects. The fears of the King were excited. It was represented to him that dis-
turbances were on the point of breaking out; that the assistance of the blacks would be called for, and that much blood would be spilt. Again no arguments were lost which might induce the King to continue among his faithful Brazilian subjects. Hints were thrown out that, by quitting the New World, he put the first stroke towards the separation of the two countries. There can be now no doubt that, had he remained, many of those events which took place in Lisbon, and must have been to him peculiarly galling, would have been avoided. It seemed however quite an unsettled matter whether his Majesty would depart; and to the last the Brazilians flattered themselves with the idea that this event would not take place.
These doubts were soon cleared up. In the evening of the 25th April his Majesty embarked in a private manner, very properly fearing that some disturbance might take place if the pomp and parade of similar occasions were preserved on this. On board he received the good wishes of many of those who intended soon to follow; and at day-break on the 26th April the line-of-battle ship John VI. dropped down with the land breeze, and the King for ever lost sight of the brightest jewel of his crown, after a residence of thirteen years. It is computed that
nearly six thousand persons left Rio de Janeiro at this period.
A few days previous to this event the King gave the Prince Royal instructions for the government of the kingdom in his absence. He invested his son with the title of Regent, gave him the power of dispensing with capital punishments, and the nomination of all offices of justice and finance, and all civil and military appointments; the power of promoting to all ecclesiastical dignities, excepting bishoprics, and for them he might recommend. In case of urgent necessity to declare war against an enemy who might attack the kingdom, and he had the power of conferring the three military orders on deserving objects.
The King appointed the Conde dos Arcos prime minister; the Conde de Louzaa minister of finance; two other ministers for war and marine; all of whom were to form a council under the presidence of his Royal Highness.
After the King's departure the people seemed to have lost the principal cause of restraint, and beginning to feel their power, took disgust at the ministry, whom it was imagined prevented the Prince Regent from taking the oaths to maintain the constitution.
The soldiery and the people again assembled
in the Rocio, mi the 5th June, and sent a deputation to the Prince, who, in compliance with their wishes, swore to defend the basis of the Constitution. Further, to satisfy the demands of the people, he consented to dismiss the Conde dos Arcos, who was subsequently sent to Lisbon for trial, on heavy charges which could never be substantiated. A Board of nine members was then nominated to control the ministry and render their accounts directly to the Cortes. A Desembargador, or judge, of the name of Pedro Alvarez Denys, was named Minister for Foreign Affairs.
The elections of Deputies for the Cortes commenced at this period. Many of them were chosen in opposition to their wishes: being old men, and owning large plantations, the management of which could not be confided to negroes, they were little disposed to leave home and make a long voyage to Europe. In other cases the nomination was considered of too honourable a nature not to be greedily coveted. The instructions given to some of the Deputies, and more particularly to those of the Province of St. Paulo, are said to have been most judiciously drawn up.
In the spring of 1822, the Brazilian Deputies assembled in Lisbon, but soon discovered, from
VOL. I. I
a variety of circumstances, that they were seldom attended to, even on the subject it was reasonable to presume they were best acquainted with: they were invariably outvoted. Whether they discovered that to remain in Lisbon was useless, or whether they received any private orders to return home, is not certain, but they left Lisbon almost in a body, and lost no time in repairing to their provinces.
In the interim, the Junta at Rio de Janeiro, having wished to exercise an influence over the other provinces, was resisted by Bahia, and on a reference to the Cortes, the latter province was declared to have acted properly. Thus, on the principle of divide, et impera, Portugal endeavoured to prevent any union amongst her transatlantic possessions. The Portuguese troops remaining at Rio de Janeiro, having shewn a disposition to serve either party, as opportunities might present themselves, were embarked for Europe. This circumstance, and the reports of those who had made an attempt to be heard in the Cortes, together with the disputes at Bahia, which had been taken possession of by the European troops, raised the animosity of the Brazilians to the utmost, and prepared them to desire, as the greatest of blessings, a final and complete separation from Portugal. Without
entering farther into the disputes, and abundant causes of irritation between the two countries, I shall merely add that this wish appearing unanimous, and the enthusiasm of the people excited to the utmost, it was determined to proclaim the Prince Regent, Constitutional Emperor of Brazil. The acclamation was postponed until the 12th October, the anniversary of his Royal Highness's birth-day, which took place in all parts of the empire, excepting Bahia, which still groaned under the Portuguese yoke.
For some time after the assumption of this title, his Majesty took no steps towards the formation of a constitution, and fresh murmurs arising, a general assembly of the empire was formed, which the Emperor addressed in person, on the 3d May, 1823. The state of the empire was laid before the assembly, and very sensible advice was given on the subject of the new Constitution which then occupied their attention. The resources and expectations of the state were exposed at some length, and in conclusion, his Majesty expressed his conviction that with such an assembly Brazil might prosper.
Shortly after this session his Majesty reaped the fruits of his exertions in the cause. The Portuguese, after holding out in Bahia for a con-
siderable time, and suffering great privations, were at length forced to capitulate, and were embarked for Lisbon. Many vessels were captured by the Brazilians; and all idea of future enterprize on the part of Portugal seems abandoned, and would be, in fact, hopeless.
At the commencement of September, 1823, a flag of truce arrived at Rio de Janeiro, with a commission to enter into some arrangements between the two Courts. But on discovering that the Commissioners were not authorised to grant that sine quá non, the acknowledgment of the independence of the empire, all correspondence was suspended, and they were obliged to return to Europe.
Viewing indeed the strong feelings existing in Brazil against the Portuguese, and the degradation of again falling into the hands of the parent state, and the evident gain to the one and the loss to the other by such a measure, it seems impossible that this country can ever again pay allegiance to Portugal. It seems more probable that Brazil, with her fleet and enterprize, should force Portugal to send deputies to Rio de Janeiro, and grant sovereignty to her former colony. Should Brazil go on quietly and prosperously for some time, this event is not so unlikely.
I have thus given a summary of the principal political changes that have occurred within the last few years, omitting the long recapitulation of grievances adduced by Brazil as motives for a final separation.
From the nature of the country, the length of the journey, and the deficiency of direct roads, little intercourse can be maintained by land between the chief cities: the commercial transactions, from each having the same wants and productions as the other, must be necessarily limited: whether under such circumstances the empire will maintain its indivisibility, or, the unhappy spirit of republicanism having extended itself too far, each province will set up for itself, is quite in the womb of time. From the composition of the empire, every one must dread the effects of civil war, and anxiously hope that this consideration will have its due weight with those who, for self aggrandisement or mercenary views, would wish to split the empire into so many minor states; nothing is to be deprecated more, and yet it must be confessed, nothing seems more likely to happen.
Departure for Buenos Ayres—Maldonado, Pampero—Montevideo—Rio de la Plata, Geological Formation—Political Changes—The cis-Platine Province forms a Part of Brazil— Paraguay—Its Dictator—Yerba, or Tea Tree—Bonpland,—System of the Dictator—Arrival at, and Appearance of Buenos Ayres.
CAPTAIN Stanhope, of his Majesty's brig Alacrity, having obligingly offered me a passage with him to Buenos Ayres, I sailed from Rio de Janeiro on the 18th January, 1821; and without detaining my readers with an account of the voyage, will only add, that on the eleventh day, we made the land to the north of Cape St. Mary, the northern point of the Rio de la Plata. The land, named Castillas, either from having been fortified in former days, or from some small neighbouring islands presenting a castellated appearance, was covered with seals enjoying themselves alternately in the water, or on the rocks. The coast was not high, nor did it alter this character until after passing the island of Lobos and Maldonado, when it took a bolder appearance, which it preserved
as far as Montevideo. The small island of Lobos is let at an annual rent by the government of Buenos Ayres for the seal fishery; but every year this animal becomes more scarce. Maldonado offers a tolerable harbour, being protected, by the little island of Goriti, from the violent hurricanes known in this country by the name of Pamperos, from their sweeping those immense plains, called the Pampas. For many months the two line-of-battle ships, the Vengeur and Superb, remained there without suffering in any way from them. The island of Goriti has a trifling Portuguese garrison. The geological formation is a gritstone.
The Alacrity passed Maldonado on the morning of the 31st January; and continuing her course, fell in with the Creole, bearing the broad pendant of Sir Thomas Hardy, bound to Valparaiso. After a short intercourse, we pursued our voyage towards Montevideo, with a moderate breeze at N.E.: the weather fine and temperate, the thermometer being at 75°.
On leaving the dinner-table for the deck, it was remarked that the air had undergone a considerable change; it felt close and sultry, and both the thermometer and barometer, on inspection, confirmed our ideas; the former having risen to 85°, and the latter fallen more
than an inch, to 29.5. These strong indications, joined to others, made it very evident that some storm was approaching. The sky became dark and lowering in the southwest quarter; and Captain Stanhope, with his usual prudence, lost no time in letting go the anchor, and making all snug for the night. This operation was scarcely concluded, when at a quarter before seven o'clock, the wind suddenly shifted from the N.E. to S.W., and blew a perfect hurricane. I found it impossible to hold my head above the companion. The rain fell in torrents, with continued lightning, but little thunder; and in twenty minutes the hurricane had exhausted itself, and it became calm. After the violence had subsided, the thermometer was surprisingly depressed, being scarcely 62°. The barometer had recovered itself, and the equilibrium seemed restored. I subsequently learned, that a more violent Pampero was never experienced. At Buenos Ayres it began at half past five o'clock, and reached us at the Islands of Flores, 125 miles distant, at a quarter before seven o'clock; and the Creole, 100 miles farther distant, shortly after the eight o'clock watch was set. This statement will give some idea of the immense rate it travelled at, and of the mischief such a storm might occasion. These hurricanes pre-
vail more commonly in the summer months, from November until April, and are occasioned by the vast accumulation of cold air, formed in the higher regions of the Andes, rushing down on the heated plains with nothing to oppose its progress. Its direction would be naturally S.E., and striking the Brazil mountains, it is in part lost, or receives a more easterly turn. The Andes, to the N.W. of the Rio de la Plata, produce the same phenomena; but their effects are not felt to the eastward, from the intervening chains of Cordova and Tucuman presenting barriers to the progress of the storm. In Rio de Janeiro, some slight indications of the pampero are visible; but, from the mountainous nature of the country, nothing is to be apprehended from their violence. The southern banks of the Rio de la Plata present a marked difference to those of the north; the land on the former being extremely low, and therefore fully exposed to the violence of the S.W. winds. The day after the storm, the river had got up surprisingly. The wind having such a command over the river, the depth of water is at times much affected, and the sands higher up the river are left perfectly dry.*
* Appendix, No. 6.
The following morning we reached Montevideo; and coming to anchor shortly afterwards, went on shore. The town appeared indifferently built, on a slope to the river; the houses are flat roofed, and formed in part of stone and burnt brick; the windows to the street, strongly barricadoed. The streets had been lately paved by the Portuguese troops in the occupation of the town, at the expense of the inhabitants. There was, nevertheless, an air of desolation about them, which did not accord with the reported prosperity of the town. The cathedral presented an appearance but little imposing. It was thronged with ladies dressed in black, after the fashion of the country; and it was impossible not to be struck with their great personal charms, after having so lately left Brazil. They were kneeling at their devotions on pieces of carpet, carried thither by their female servants, another proof that I had arrived in a more cleanly country, for this custom is not yet adopted in the north: the numbers of well dressed females in the streets was also a novel sight.
In the evening I attended the play, and was introduced by one of the governor's staff to all the most celebrated beauties of the city, who were extremely polite, and, according to cus-
tom, pressed me to eat more sweetmeats than I could have wished. The theatre was small and ill arranged; the actors, it may be sap-posed, not of the best. One of the farces exhibited. El Inglez con Splin, gave rise to many good natured, yet witty observations from the ladies, on our national character.
Montevideo, during the winter months of June, July, and August, enjoys a cool climate. The soil is productive, yielding remarkably fine wheat, beans, and Indian corn, with melons, and some of the fruits of Europe, such as apples and peaches, in abundance. The extensive plains are still covered with herds of cattle and horses, although not to the extent formerly the case; a circumstance to be attributed to the disturbed state of the country, previous to its occupation by the Portuguese.
The principal objects of exportation are tallow and hides to England, and jerked beef to Brazil. The trade has considerably increased since the restoration of tranquillity; for such was the unsettled state of Buenos Ayres for months, that it was more advisable to land cargoes at Montevideo, and pay a regulated duty, than run the risk of a difficult navigation of a hundred miles, and then pay an extravagant demand for customs, or a proportion of the
cargo, for the expenses of smuggling. The chief imports are manufactured goods from England, and the products of a warmer climate, such as coffee and sugar from Brazil.
The aspect of the country is no longer tropical; and botanists, who have examined its vegetation, declare, that the genera of plants are mostly such as are met with in Europe.
The population of Montevideo has been rated at as much as 15,000 souls; but of late years it has decreased, from the unsettled state of the country. It scarcely reaches 10,000 at present, comprising a small proportion of blacks.
It is a little singular, that the Spaniards should have been so late in taking possession of, and fortifying this spot, which presents the only safe harbour of any extent in the river; more particularly, as they had every reason to fear the Portuguese would settle there, as they had already done at Colonia, and smuggle every thing across the water. It was not, however, until fifty years after the latter place was occupied by the Portuguese, that San Felippe de Montevideo was built and fortified. The bay is protected by the Mount; and, although the water is occasionally low, yet, from the nature of the bottom, a soft mud, no mischief occurs by heavily laden vessels approaching the shore,
and taking the ground. It is decidedly the best harbour in the river.
The geological formations on each side of this great estuary are interesting, as it appears to separate the primitive from the newest formations of a secondary country. On the north, or Montevideo side, the rocks are granite, gneiss, clayslate, and primitive trap (greenstone); while on the south side, a very new stalactiform limestone, of a brownish white colour, is found lying upon beds of a stiff clay. These clay beds extend a considerable distance into Patagonia; but nothing farther is known of the geology of that country. In both the first and second editions of Faden's large map of South America, however, the existence of chalk is marked on the coast of Patagonia, near the Bay of St. Julian's, "high chalk cliffs," "chalk cliffs resembling those of Dover:" and in the Admiralty charts, the same observation is made near the harbour of Santa Cruz. On what authority this rests, does not at all appear; though, from the comparison to Dover, it is fair to presume that it is the observation of an Englishman. No mention is made of chalk in either of the voyages of Captains Carteret and Willis, nor in Don Permetty's account of Bougainville's voyage; and it would be an interesting
geological feet to ascertain, as hitherto no specimens of this substance have been brought from the New World. It seems much confined to the north of Europe, excepting in the Crimea, where it has been found; in Africa it is not known to exist; and, although its presence has been lately declared in some of the islands of the Indian Archipelago, it rests on too slender a foundation to be entitled to much credit. It would not be difficult for some of the inhabitants of Buenos Ayres, to ascertain the existence of chalk from some of the Captains of vessels fishing on the coast of Patagonia.
The only mines near Montevideo are Las Minas, of lead, fifteen leagues distant: they have not been lately worked, and it does not appear that they were ever very productive. I did not examine them, but the specimens shewn me were galena, in a gangue of limestone.
The immense river La Plata, formed out of the united streams of the Pilcomayo, Paraguay-Paraná, and Uruguay, may be regarded as the outlet of the central basin of this part of South America. The waters of the western side of the Brazil mountains, those from the eastern sides of the Andes, and the intermediate ranges of Cordoba and Tucuman, have no escape but
at this point, From the extent of level country traversed by these streams, the current is inconsiderable. They offer a great natural advantage to the country; and, with the assistance of canals, will facilitate the conveyance of goods and produce from all parts east of the Andes.
The Portuguese had all along viewed the possession of the northern bank of the Rio de la Plata as a most desirable event; and the wars, treaties, and exchanges, which have occurred on account of their settlement of Colonia del Sacramento, opposite to Buenos Ayres, afford sufficient proof of this. Soon after the revolution commenced in the Spanish provinces, an opportunity was presented to the court of Rio de Janeiro, by Artigas and other chieftains, under pretext of the disorders occasioned by them, and the inroads said to have been made into the Portuguese frontier province of Rio Grande, to march an army and take possession of the fortress of Montevideo, and the whole of the northern bank of the Rio de la Plata, and the Bandit Oriental, or eastern bank of the Uruguay.
This occupation, in every way of the utmost importance to the Portuguese, who obtained a fertile tract of country and an admirable boundary, as well as the possession of the key
of Rio de la Plata, was remonstrated against in the strongest manner by all the republican states; and, it may be presumed, by Buenos Ayres more than the rest. This latter power could not quietly view the entrance of the river in the hands of a foreigner, and a foreigner too, against whom old grievances had created an animosity not yet allayed. The district taken possession of by the Portuguese was the best wooded and most fertile; and, in addition to its commanding the river Plata, had also a strong hold on the navigation of the other streams. And, however strong the argument might be, that geographically, it ought to belong to Brazil, it was thought deficient in weight by Buenos Ayres, and the neighbouring states; who maintained that, politically, it ought never to be in the hands of Brazil, and that, by the same reasoning, Portugal ought to merge into the neighbouring state of Spain, whence it was originally taken. There is little doubt, if the situation of the Buenos Ayrean provinces had been more settled, and the government of the Baron Laguna less liberal, that some attempt would have been made to wrest this country from the hands of its occupiers.
In July, 1821, when the provinces of the river Plata put on, for the first time, a settled
appearance, and when it seemed likely that some attempt would be made on Montevideo, the Portuguese determined to resort to some means that should secure them a final and undisturbed possession of the country. It was therefore determined to acknowledge the independence of Buenos Ayres, in order to stop the clamours of that state, and simultaneously to open a ballot at Montevideo, for the inhabitants to express their wishes individually, whether they would unite themselves to Brazil, or form a separate and distinct republic. Every effort was made to obtain a favourable decision from this ballot; and, considering the advantages which have accrued to that town from the occupation, and the robberies and plunderings which took place previous to that event, it is not surprising that the inhabitants should have declared themselves willing to remain in the power of the Portuguese, and form a part of the great Brazil empire. By the constitution of Brazil, the cis-Platine province is considered as federally joined to that empire, and the Baron de Laguna, having given in his adhesion, still keeps the command.
This transaction at Montevideo left the inhabitants of Buenos Ayres little gratified with the acknowledgment of their independence;
VOL. I. K
which, apparently, they had bartered for the retention of the Banda Oriental. It seems more than probable, therefore, that as soon as these provinces have acquired strength, that some co-operation will take place to dispossess the Brazilians; but the success must be very problematical, from the almost entire want of a navy on the part of the republics.
After the defeat of Artigas by the Portuguese, he entered into the province of Paraguay, and being seized, was placed in confinement; and, in all probability, will never regain his liberty. He had committed such havoc among the large herds of cattle, that he was universally dreaded.
Of the fine province of Paraguay, to which all this part of South America looks for the supply of an article of immense consumption, the yerba, or tea of Paraguay, very little is at present known, from the communication with its neighbours being under restrictions of the severest nature. It was revolutionized early, and the King's Governor, Velasco, for some time joined in the administration of affairs with the revolutionary chief Francia, a native of Paraguay; and who, having taken a degree at Cordova, was better known by the name of Doctor Francia. This administration, as it
may be supposed, lasted but a short time; Francia getting rid of his colleague, declaring himself dictator of Paraguay, and making two nephews his secretaries.
In 1810, an expedition, under the command of Belgrano, left Buenos Ayres to attack Francia; and, having advanced for some days through the thick woods of Paraguay without seeing an enemy, concluded that they should reach the capital Asumpcion without any obstacle. But the following night, soon after their encampment, they discovered fires on all sides of them, and a trumpet arrived with a notification from Francia, that he had no wish to shed blood, and would therefore grant a free retreat to the Buenos Ayrians; but that, if they advanced, they must take all the consequences of such an indiscretion. On this, Belgrano, after some hesitation, seeing that his resources were cut off, and being ignorant of the number of the enemy, thought it most prudent to retire. Every night, while he remained on the territory of Francia, he found himself surrounded in a similar way, and was glad to escape from the danger with which he was menaced.
From 1810, when Velasco was deposed, until 1816, the yerba, or tea tree, came down in the
usual large quantities. According to M. Bonpland, it is produced by a new species of ilex. In 1814, no less a quantity than twenty thousand bales reached Buenos Ayres; but since 1816, the dictator has scarcely permitted any to leave the country, excepting now and then in exchange for gunpowder, arms, and in one or two instances, philosophical instruments. I do not enter into the details of the mode of preparing the leaves, as they have been so frequently and accurately given by writers. The kind brought from Paraguay is as superior to that manufactured by the Brazilians as possible; a difference solely to be attributed to the process used in the manufacture. For this species of ilex, being the growth of a wanner climate, is more likely to vegetate well in Brazil than in Paraguay; in the north of which it only flourishes. Owing to the prohibition on the part of Francia, the Brazilians have found a great source of wealth in the preparation of this article They supply the Buenos Ayrian states and Chile; for the last they furnish a stronger description of yerba, as it is supposed that the great cold of the Cordillera destroys the flavour of the common kind. The Brazilians consume little themselves.
From these circumstances the price of the
tea is high, about twelve reals, or 6s. 6d. the pound; but such is the predilection for it that it must be procured at any price. Foreigners, as well as the natives, get accustomed to the flavour, and as readily subscribe to its good effects.
The Dictator has certain political views of his own, the bias of which it is not so easy to discover. He carefully abstains from participating in the disputes of the other provinces, although invited to do so, but strictly preserves an armed neutrality. "This Francia," said the governor of Cordova to me, "this Francia, of whom we know nothing "—Some maintain that he is one of the old Jesuits, others that he is holding the country for the King of Spain, but all vilify him for not allowing the tea to leave the country. Whether he is determined that the lives of none of his subjects shall be lost while collecting the leaves, which, from the swampy nature of the places where the trees abound, is a most unhealthy pursuit, or whether he fears that trade will introduce foreigners and new ideas, is not at all certain, but he persists in his plan.
Under such circumstances little is with certainty known of the interior of Paraguay. It is said, however, that the people are satisfied with the order of things, and that the population is
increasing and wealthy. It is computed a 200,000 whites, exclusive of Indians. The Dictator is perfectly despotic, never punishes with death, but with perpetual prison.
A few years ago the Dictator settled some disputes in the country in a novel way. He decreed that the government of the country should be of the most popular nature; that there should be a congress of a thousand members, chosen from all classes of the people, to arrange the affairs of the country, &c. and settle a new form of government. The members were accordingly chosen from all parts, and obliged to assemble at Asumpcion, where, after an address from the Dictator, they were set to business. At the end of three days, passed without pay or allowances, and with the certainty of the ruin of their farms and families, they came in a body to the Dictator, and, replacing the sovereign power in his hands, declared that they were perfectly satisfied with his plan of government, and concluded by begging permission to retire to their homes. His Excellency, disguising his satisfaction at the success of the plan, replied, that he should reserve to himself the power of calling them together again; and if he heard of any more complaints or murmurs, he should avail him-
self of it, and in that case the deputies must make up their minds to a session of at least six months' duration.
By means of the philosophical instruments Francia has been able to strengthen his power considerably over the people. Every night he sallies out from his dictatorial palace, attended by a crowd of persons, and, examining the stars, he makes his calculations, and then retires amidst the admiration of the multitude.
M. Bonpland, who accompanied Humboldt over the equinoctial parts of the New World, and who, by his botanical researches, added so considerably to the value of the travels of the great Prussian, had subsequently settled at Buenos Ayres. In 1820 he received an invitation from Francia, who affects to encourage science, to follow his favourite pursuit in Paraguay. The offer of facilities in examining botanically a country scarcely known in this particular, but from the descriptions of Azara, was too tempting not to be accepted, although the friends of M. Bonpland made him fully comprehend the risk that he incurred by putting himself in the power of Francia: for previously to this, several Europeans, among whom were a Dr. Powlett, a physician, and a master shipwright, British subjects, had gone to Asump-
cion, and had never been permitted to leave the country to this day.
In spite of these sad instances of a want of faith on the part of Francia, Bonpland left Buenos Ayres, and proceeded, in the first instance, to the Entre Rios, the province to the S.S.E. of Paraguay, and between the Parana and Uruguay. It is said that he here received orders from the Dictator not to advance, as he had heard that. Frenchman-like, he had dabbled in the politics of Buenos Ayres: he then proceeded into the country of the Missions, to the west of Corrientes, where, as Madame Bonpland told me in Buenos Ayres, he made large collections in every branch of natural history. He subsequently returned to the Entre Rios, and there, finding the tea tree, he, in conjunction with a Scotchman, entered into the manufacture of this commodity, and at once set up an opposition to the Dictator of Paraguay.
This manufacture did not go on long before Francia sent a party down the river to seize the offenders: the more wary Scotchman escaped, but unfortunately M. Bonpland was taken. Whether the details of the capture are quite correct, is not with accuracy known; but it is certain that the botanist was taken, and is still a prisoner at large, and permitted to make
researches in the country. It is however quite hopeless to imagine that the world will ever be benefited by M. Bonpland's researches, for no correspondence is permitted, and the chances of escape are very trifling. It might be very desirable for the Commander-in-Chief of the naval forces on the South American station, to hire a small vessel, and arming her, to send an officer on a mission to this Chinese Emperor of the West, and, taking every due caution, barter the exchange of any British subject or European who may have fallen in his power, some of whom have families lamenting their absence. Independently of the humanity of the plan, it might be the means of obtaining some advantages for the English trader; and fair words and small presents might effect much. At any rate it is well worth the trial.
This long digression has been made in order to give some account of a country about which more has been said and written, owing to the admirable system pursued there by the Jesuits, than about any other part of South America.
At the period of the last advices from Buenos Ayres, no change had taken place in the state of Paraguay, nor is it in fact likely that any will, even in the event of the Dictator's death. The system he adopts, partaking much of the
character of that followed by the Jesuits, ii likely to tend towards keeping the province quiet and happy. From the nature of the soil, and the example of Belgrano's retreat, none of the other provinces, well enough inclined in other respects to attack the country of the tea plant, will ever make ah inroad into the territory of Francia.
To return to Montevideo:—The most usual mode of proceeding to Buenos Ayres is by water; for on the land journey there is some difficulty in passing the various streams emptying themselves into the Rio de la Plata, which must be itself crossed, after,. all, to Buenos Ayres, a distance of twenty miles, in a small boat, at very considerable risk. Ships lying in the roads have frequently no communication with the shore for many days, from the violence of the winds and waves.
Leaving Montevideo on the 3d February, the Alacrity first made the opposite shore, and then bore up the river. The difficulties of the navigation have been before alluded to. At night we anchored, and the following afternoon arrived in the outer roads of Buenos Ayres. Previous to this, we passed on our left the small port and river of Ensinada de Baragan. It is full of shoals, and very exposed, but never-
theless some vessels of considerable size have been repaired there. It is about twelve leagues from the city.
From the shallow nature of the river, vessels cannot approach the shore of Buenos Ayres, but are obliged to land their cargoes by means of lighters. Small carts with one horse are constantly plying on the beach to convey persons through the ouze.
The appearance of Buenos Ayres from the river is different to what is generally expected. The situation is not by any means so low as travellers are led to imagine. It is built on a bank considerably above the level of the water, thrown up, it may be conceived, by the bend which the river takes here. The city, covering a large space of ground, is very regularly built, like all Spanish towns; and the steeples of the various churches and convents, as regularly placed, add much to its appearance. The fort occupies the centre of the side next the river, commanding on one side the landing, and the parade, or great square, on the other. It is of little importance, and mounted irregularly with guns of all sizes. The other public buildings are few, and scarcely worth naming. The Dominican Church, the Franciscan, and that of
St. Nicholas, are the most deserving a visit. The cathedral is in an unfinished state.
The houses are generally covered with a flat roof, called azotea, and have no upper stones. Until comparatively a modern date, they were constructed of mud, but are now of brick and lime. It is said that a Jesuit was the first who introduced and taught this new system of building. A court forms the centre of most houses, containing a large tank for water, the city being in this respect ill provided. The water from the river is considered prejudicial to the health, and in consequence of the thickness of the bed of clay, few wells have been sunk, on account of the expense. The streets are wide, tolerably clean, and with side pavement.
Such was my first impression on entering Buenos Ayres on the 5th February.
Province of Buenos Ayres.—Its Boundaries and Extent.—Climate.—Diseases.—Rivers.—Minerals.—Meteoric Iron.—Salt.—Botany.—Animals and Birds.—Bones of the Megatherium. —Agriculture, Cattle, Manufactures, Trade, Paraguay Tea. —Internal Commerce and Degree of Prosperity.
THAT fine portion of South America known by the name of the Province of Buenos Ayres is bounded on the east by the river Paraná, and its continuation the Rio de la Plata; on the north the small stream of Arroyo de en Medio divides it from the province of Santa Fé; and on the south and west, the Salado, which empties itself into the bay of Somborombon, may be considered as its limit in that direction. Latterly, however, some attempts have been made to extend the boundaries farther to the southward, and in fact, at different periods, the grazing grounds of the Europeans have stretched as far as 37° S. latitude; but it seems more than doubtful whether the Indians, who have become alarmed at this advance, will sanction it by any treaty. In the year 1740, a line was run across
the continent, in latitude 35°, to the southward of which it was understood the various hordes of Indians were to confine themselves. On the sea-coast the Europeans have had much less difficulty in extending the limits of their possessions, than more in the centre of the country. It is calculated that this territory contains about 1520 square leagues of ground, perfectly level, and every where abounding in the richest pasture.
Nothing can exceed the fineness of the climate; the general range of the thermometer during the summer is from 75° to 84° of Faht. On the 21st February, 1821, the mercury stood for many hours at 91° in the shade. The mean temperature of the three summer months of 1822, was 71° 9′.* During the winter months, the thermometer varies from 65° to 60°. When the exposed nature of the country is considered, it will be easily seen that the temperature must undergo very sudden, mutations. Not unfrequently a current of cold air will rush down from the mountains and sink the mercury in an extraordinary manner. These blasts, which come down in a body from the? ordillera, appear to reach Buenos Ayres in a minutely divided
* Appendix, No. 7.
state. Sometimes they strike the arm or other part of the body which is more immediately exposed to their passage, and affect it with a numbness, which remains for several days. Snow rarely falls, and then in small quantity; the date of the last snow-storm is no longer preserved.
The barometer is at times very much affected, particularly before the commencement of the south-west gales.
The prevailing winds during the summer are from the north, early in the morning; in the course of the day they draw round to the east; in the winter they blow more usually from the south. It is remarked that the south-west and west winds are of a very drying nature, while, to the contrary, the north and north-easterly winds seem charged with aqueous vapour. Calms very seldom prevail. On paying a visit to the English Mill, in order to have an extended view of the country, the miller informed me that the wind blew so constantly that he could not get a moment's leisure to repair the machinery, and it was only at night, when the breezes were more steady, that he dared carry any canvass.
The heavy rains fall in the winter months of July, August, and September, but seldom last
more than twenty-four hours; the rains during the summer are extremely irregular, they have the character of thunder-showers; hail-storms at this period of the year are common.
The Spaniards have at all times considered this country to be healthy in a singular degree, and the various instances of longevity given in the monthly obituary afford excellent proof of the general correctness of the remark. The more usual diseases are consumption, produced, it is imagined, by the sudden chills before spoken of, and bowel complaints, caused by drinking the water of the Rio de la Plata. The gout and liver complaints are rare. It must be understood that these remarks are confined to the city and its immediate neighbourhood; for at a short distance, the Gauchos, or country people, seem perfectly free from disease of any kind. In my subsequent journey I arrived at a hut where there was a sick child, for whom the doctor had been sent. In a long conversation, the latter informed me that he attended about eight leagues on all sides of his dwelling, but in spite of this extended practice, and the cheapness of his two remedies, for he was only acquainted with two medicinal plants, he declared he could not live by his profession alone.
The ravages of the small pox have been in a
great degree arrested by vaccination, introduced by Dr. Segurola, a man who has been eminently useful in many instances to his country. Under the paternal care of the present Secretary of State, D. Bernadino Rivadavia, an establishment for vaccination has been raised, and is now supported at the public expense.
The upper soil round Buenos Ayres is chiefly of a light nature, approaching to marl, and covering a stiff clay subsoil, called by the inhabitants, tosca. As far as my observations went, this appearance did not extend many miles from the city.
I shall now proceed to shew what are the natural advantages and disadvantages of the province. Although but a very small portion can be considered to be washed by the ocean, yet the Rio de la Plata must be viewed as a great gulph, rather than as a river; and offering, therefore, all the facilities afforded by the former. At present, however, the state of Buenos Ayres is not in a situation to avail itself of every advantage offered by this circumstance.
The Rio de la Plata and the Parana offer immense, advantages in the way of trade. No large vessels, however, can proceed above Buenos Ayres on account of several flats in the river, and owing to the intricate navigation on
VOL. I. L
some parts of the coasts of Santa Fé and Corrientes; smaller vessels are liable to be seized by those states if they are at war with Buenos Ayres. In fifteeen days, vessels can proceed up the Parana and Paraguay as far as Asumpcion, where the river is a mile and a half in breadth. The back voyage nearly occupies as much time, as the fall in the river does not exceed, for several degrees of latitude, one foot in a thousand. The course of the river Uruguay is also very extended, but, on account of numerous falls, it would not afford the same facilities to navigation as the Paraguay. A branch of it, the Rio Negro, may be navigated about forty miles from its junction.
The Rio Terçero, which runs into the Parana under the name of the Carcarânal, might be rendered navigable at a moderate expense; it rises in the mountains to the west of Cordova, and, leaving that city thirty leagues to the north, afterwards pursues an easterly course. It was surveyed as far back as the year 1811, by a Captain Pea, with a view to this object, and his report, I believe, was extremely favourable. Were this plan accomplished, Cordova, St. Jago, and the provinces of Mendoza and San Juan would have a ready outlet for their productions.
These large rivers seem to swallow up all the
minor streams from the north and north-west. Of the many rivers which descend from the Cordillera west of Buenos Ayres, none of them reach the sea; the country is so excessively flat that they spread over a large surface, and either form lakes or become absorbed by the heat. Over a large portion of the Pampas the want of water is severely felt. This peculiarity in the face of the country must therefore operate strongly against any idea of excavating canals, even if the quantity of population and the disposition of the people were favourable to such an attempt.
Viewing the situation of this city, surrounded by vast rivers with little current, and the winds either dangerous from their violence or constantly blowing from the same quarter, Buenos Ayres seems, above all places, to be fitted for the adoption of numerous steam-vessels which, carrying goods to the most remote parts of the central basin, would bring down their produce in exchange. England would be called upon to supply the engines, and in all probability the coal, for the expense of conveying it as ballast from Liverpool would not be more or so much as procuring it from Conception in Chile, where a regular formation exists.
The level nature of the country precludes the possibility of springs; the wells dug in Buenos Ayres were necessarily of great depth, and perforated the clay bed. I could obtain no information as to what the soil was immediately under it, but it is in all probability sand.
As might be expected, the province is singularly deficient in minerals. The ancient viceroyalty was rich in the silver mines of Potosi, La Paz, and others long celebrated in Europe for their extraordinary wealth. Previous to the separation of the provinces, the mine of Famatina in the valley of the same name, to the north of San Juan, was within the jurisdiction of Buenos Ayres; and some English merchants, in 1814, entertained an idea of renting it; but upon mature consideration, thinking the country in too unsettled a state to preserve their property inviolate, they gave up the plan. It is impossible to call in question the prudence of these gentlemen in abandoning the project at that time. A government which could make laws at its pleasure, and lay any tax on the products of the mine, after a very different stipulation had been made, is rather a difficult party to deal with. At the present time this remark does not apply to the province more immediate-
ly under consideration, whatever it may do to those more in the north of the country.* The Famatina mine was singularly rich: the silver was, according to the Spanish term, chiselled out of the gangue, which was a carbonate of lime.
I had the pleasure of examining, at the manufactory of arms, a large portion of that immense mass of meteoric iron brought from the plain of the Chaco, and described by Don Rubin de Celis, in the 78th vol. of the Philosophical Transactions. The government of Buenos Ayres had caused a brace of pistols and a blunderbuss to be made from it and presented to the President of the United States. I obtained some specimens with the iron crystalized in octaedra. It differs from that of Siberia in having no earthy mineral embedded in it; agreeing in this respect with the mass found near Bahia. The surface was not much tarnished, but very irregular. The workmen complained much of its toughness. Like all the other masses which have been discovered in various parts of the world, it contains a portion of nickel.
The plains to the southward, more usually
* It might be as well for any English miners going out to New World to study Helms, who, although armed with all the powers of the Court of Spain, could not struggle against the roguery and intrigues of those with whom he was more immediately thrown in contact. Appendix, No. 8.
designated by the word Pampas, are covered with large efflorescences of salt, which, if any chemical skill existed in the country, would be a gift of no small importance, from the great quantity of cattle and the ready market in Brazil for salted provisions.
Formerly a large party used to leave the city about the month of September, with much ceremony, to collect the salt after the waters had subsided and deposited it on the surface. It must have been very impure, and this idea is borne out by the fact that it was found unfit for the preservation of jerked beef, making it hard and bad tasted. The Indians carry on a small traffic in bags of salt, but from its appearance I should conclude it had been collected from lakes, being regularly crystallized in cubes. The consumption of salt for domestic purposes is extremely limited on account of the strong prejudices which exist.
The greatest natural disadvantage under which this province labours, is the almost entire want of timber. The solitary umbúis among the few indigenous trees of the country, and its limit is closely confined to the vicinity of the city. Several species of cactus, the cardon or thistle with blue flowers, and a few more, comprehend the chief part of the native vegetable
riches. It is said that the islands in the Paraná abound in indigenous vegetation. The very exposed nature of the country, and the violence with which the wind sweeps the plains, must be in a great measure the cause of this paucity of vegetation, and it also furnishes us with the cause of the immense extent covered with one species of trefoil, and by the cardon before mentioned. Of all the trees introduced by the Spaniards, few have succeeded, excepting the hard peach and the olive; they increase quickly, as soon as one or two have grown high enough to afford shelter to the rest: and from the rapidity of the growth of the former, it is now chiefly cultivated to afford fuel. The cherry tree is common, but has never been known to produce fruit, the blossoms being always destroyed by the force of the winds. The sauce or willow is sometimes met with on the banks of the Canâdas. Latterly, the government has turned its attention to this branch of economy, and has formed public forests, which furnish young plants to cultivators at a moderate price; in a few years they will become a source of considerable national wealth. Grapes thrive well; but the melon and the apple, met with in abundance, are by no means good. The
climate is perhaps hardly warm enough for the one and too warm for the other. This general paucity of vegetation has been supposed by some to originate in the thickness of the clay bed. The vegetables of Europe have been introduced with success, but their use is chiefly confined to Europeans, for the Gauchos view them with eyes of ridicule, and consider a man who would eat them as little superior to the beasts of the field. Gourds are the only vegetables met with on their tables. The country on the left bank of the river differs completely from this, and abounds in a vegetation which encreases at every step to the northward.
I have little in my power to say respecting the other branches of natural history. The biscachia (lepus biscaa) is found in great abundance on every side of Buenos Ayres. It is a small animal, not unlike a rabbit. It throws up a quantity of earth from its hole, over which an owl is generally seen presiding: a number of bones of animals are always scattered about. The armadillo is also common in the Pampas, as well as a species of deer, which has an unpleasant smell. The ounce, the skins of which of large size are so common in the shops of Buenos Ayres, do not approach near the city.
It seems very doubtful if they cross the Paraná, there being so little shelter for them* on the right bank.
The birds of this district are in proportion more numerous than the quadrupeds. The swan of the Rio de la Plata is a most elegant bird; the body is perfectly white, and the head and a portion of the neck black. It is so abundant that some traffic is carried on in its down and skin. The mode of taking this bird is as follows: a man enters the water with three large wooden balls, two of which are fastened at one end of a long thong of leather, and the third, attached to the other extremity, he holds in his hand; gently approaching the swan, he throws the balls with such dexterity that they twist round the neck, and, as they are made of wood, the bird cannot escape by diving. Two companions follow to pick up the birds.
The South American ostrich (nandu) is met with in considerable numbers in the Pampas. It is about half the size of the African species, and the plumage is of little use. It is said that several females lay eggs of a yellowish colour in one neat, and that they are hatched by the male. They run excessively fast, and are taken by the Gauchos with balls, in the same way as
the swan, only that these balls are formed of stones covered with pieces of hide.
There seemed to me to be two kinds of partridges in the Pampas; the one small, and similar to the quail of Europe, and the other considerably larger. They are found in great abundance all over the plains, and are taken by the Gauchos in several ways. The more usual method seemed that of galloping round the covey, continually fixing the eyes on them, and, by closing the circle, they at last allow themselves to be taken up by a noose at the end of a stick. It is asserted that they exist on animal food, but it does not rest on good authority.
On the banks of the rivers great variety of water-fowl subsist on the fish, which are most abundant.
There did not seem to me any great variety of insects. The mosquito is common in the city, but not so troublesome as at Rio de Janeiro. Fleas abound; they appear, as Dobrizhoffer truly says, to live in the grass, for on lying down in some places, the body becomes covered with them.* Reptiles are by no means common. In my journey across to Mendoza
* Appendix, No. 9.*
I only met with one snake; it was nearly white and of small size.
At different periods bones of the megatherium have been discovered in the vicinity of Buenos Ayres. The Marquis of Loretto, while Viceroy, sent home, in 1789, the first and perhaps most perfect specimen of this enormous animal. It is now in the cabinet of Madrid. It was discovered while making some excavations on the bank of the river Luzan, about fifteen leagues from Buenos Ayres. Within the last few years, a tooth of the same animal was found by a soldier at Areco, sixteen leagues farther in the same direction. There is little doubt, if any excavations or public works were in progress, that many discoveries of a similar nature would be made. Considering the habits of this animal, at least as far as they have been ascertained, the pampas must have been admirably adapted for his abode.
I have thus mentioned some of the leading features of the different branches of natural history, as far as I am capable of observing.
It does not appear that much attention has been paid to the state of the roads, either under the Viceroy, or since the declaration of independence. They extend but a short distance from the city. The inland traffic is carried on either
by mules or great waggons; the wheels of which, in order to pass through the Pantanos, or sloughs, are of extraordinary dimensions. These vehicles travel together in numbers, and traverse the plains as far as the Andes. The conductor and his family occupy one, and as it is closely worked with straw, it offers no bad accommodation. If the conductor makes any stay near a town, he generally lifts the waggon off its wheels for greater convenience. No tolls are taken, excepting for the bridges in the vicinity of the city.
The only dependency that Buenos Ayres can be said to possess, is that of Patagonia. It sends one member to the Chamber of Representatives. There does not appear to be any settlement of consequence in it, excepting on the Rio Negro; but, latterly, the attention of government has been directed that way, and various regulations have been promulgated respecting persons inclined to settle there, and for the encouragement of cattle breeding and farming on such points of the coast as are best suited for the purpose. Some parts of this country would be better adapted, if possible, for the cultivation of wheat and other European grains, than the neighbourhood of Buenos Ayres itself.
The grain which flourishes best is wheat; and enough is raised, not only to supply the country, but to send considerable quantities to Brazil and up the Paraná; formerly it derived a large portion from Chile. The wheat is small grained, bearded, and contains much flour. There are two crops annually, in September and February. A small temporary inclosure is made, and the earth, raised with a rude plough, or the large bone of an ox, is thinly scattered with seed. The mode of thrashing is by placing it in an inclosure, and forcing a number of horses to gallop over it. Such is the system of agriculture in this part of the world. It was observed, that the farmers were liable to great losses in the wheat crops, from insects and heavy rains. Much barley is cultivated. Indian corn, or maize, is not much attended to. Two varieties, however, are cultivated; the one with the grain perfectly white and tender; the other is of a deep yellow, and much harder.
The large farms are almost entirely taken up with the breeding of cattle. Some of the breeders own six thousand head of horses alone, exclusive of an immense number of horned cattle. The grazing grounds are of many miles in circumference, and being covered with the richest alfalfa, or trefoil, the animals are always fat.
The horses are marked very early, and if the breeder sells them they are countermarked by him; without this precaution, they may be reclaimed at any time. It has always been the custom to speak of the wild horses of the Pampas of Buenos Ayres; but in fact none exist, for they are all owned by some one, and more or lees broken in. Prior to the revolution, on a certain fixed day, officers properly appointed went round the country, and seizing all unmarked cattle, cut their ears, and took possession of them for the king. Of late, a regulation of a similar nature seems to have been adopted. The greater proportion of the horses, and all the mares, are raised for little else than the hide. The strongest prejudice exists against employing mares in any work. An Englishman braved the public opinion for a few days, by riding about the streets on a mare; but he was so pelted with mud and abused, that he was forced to give up the point. The price of a horse mainly depends on the spot where it is bought. If brought into Buenos Ayres, a good horse may sell for eighteen or twenty dollars; but if purchased in the country, at a distance from a market, only four or five. In 1821, the government paid at the rate of three dollars per horse, for the cavalry.
In this province, mules are little attended to;
but in those nearer the Cordillera, the breeding of those animals forms the chief means of support. Mendoza, Cordova, and Tucuman, previous to the revolution, derived immense wealth by exporting mules to Chile and Peru.
The numbers of horned cattle, and the consequent cheapness of meat, is an object of astonishment to all travellers. It is scarcely possible to say what a pound of meat is worth, when the whole ox, with the skin, tallow and horns, the only valuable parts, maybe purchased for five or six dollars, and that considered a high price. Of this the hide alone is calculated to be worth three and a half dollars. Under such circumstances, it is not surprising that the domestic poultry should be fed with beef. It is thought that this abundance of cattle has had some effect on the disposition of the country people.
Although at the present day, the quantity of cattle appears immense, there can be no hesitation in saying that it does not amount to half what it was previous to the revolution. Although there was no outlet, no profit by breeding so extensively, it became an object of pride and ambition to be possessed of innumerable herds of cattle; but, when once that feeling was destroyed, either by the irruptions
of the neighbouring states, or the necessities of the government, listlessness and apathy took possession of the farmers, and they no longer paid the same attention to what they had now become, in some manner, uncertain of enjoying. The stock, from these motives, has therefore considerably decreased; and when the demand for hides of all sorts was made by English merchants, who even sent collectors round the country to tempt the owners with silver or goods, to kill their cattle, the stock became considerably reduced. Rivadavia, whose name can never be mentioned without some eulogium, observing the effect of this, caused a decree to pass the house of representatives, strictly prohibiting any cows to be slaughtered, excepting in those districts which approached the Indian frontier, and where, in case of sudden irruption, it would be found impossible to drive them off. Should the country remain quiet for any length of time, and recover from the effects of the devastation committed by the various chiefs and by the Indians, there can be no doubt, with such rich pasture, the number of cattle will reach its former extraordinary limits.
There are no manufactures of moment carried on in Buenos Ayres. The Indians bring in a few trifling articles, made from hides and os-
trich feathers; and a few manufactured goods, such as ponchos* and coarse woollen cloths, are brought in from the interior. It is not unlikely, that, in a few years, an English manufacture will supersede the use of the poncho; although, up to this time, we have not been able to fabricate any thing equal to it.
The trade between England and Buenos Ayres has become of much importance to both countries. In the year ending the 5th January, 1817, we shipped to Buenos Ayres, goods to the value of £388,487; while in the year ending 5th January, 1823, their value was £1,164,745, shewing an unprecedented increase. During the year 1822, one hundred and sixty-seven English vessels sailed from various ports for Buenos Ayres, carrying thither every description of manufactured goods, beer, &c.
The chief exports are hides, tallow, horns, hair, jerked beef, wool, Vicua wool, (used for hat making,) Chinchilli and Neutre skins, brought from the upper provinces. Of horse and cow hides, the number of 957,600 arrived in England in the year 1822; and when those which have gone direct to Antwerp and other
* It may not be superfluous to mention that the poncho is an oblong piece of cloth, with a hole in the middle, for the head. It is the common dress of the lower classes.
VOL. I. M
continental ports are added to the account, some idea may be formed of the immense quantity produced in this part of the world.
In the year 1821, three hundred and twentytwo vessels were cleared outwards at Buenos Ayres, of which one hundred and fourteen were British; and in 1822, three hundred and four vessels, of which one hundred and sixty-seven were British. The state of the tonnage for the early part of the year 1823 will be found in the Appendix.*
This trade is chiefly carried on by an exchange of productions, very little coin having been sent of late years from the Rio de la Plata, perhaps not 100,000 dollars during the last five years. The other foreign trade carried on, appears of small amount after that of the British. The North Americans participate in it, as well as the Brazilians, who bring their sugars and spirits to exchange them for corn and jerked beef. Some trade is carried on with France, chiefly in oil made from horses and mules; but to what purpose it is applied there, I could not ascertain. A few mules are exported to the Isle of France.
The disturbed state of the provinces hitherto
* Appendix, No. 9.
has, of necessity, militated greatly against any increase of wealth, and attachment to comforts and luxuries. When it is considered for what a length of time anarchy has prevailed in one or other of them, it must appear a perfect matter of wonder, that the trade should have augmented to such an extent. At present, the custom house returns are comparatively little less than those of Rio de Janeiro.
The inland trade is not at present what it is to be hoped it will one day be. The most lucrative trade was that of the yerba, or Paraguay tea; but, since 1816, the Dictator has permitted none to leave the country, excepting at times a few bales, under particular circumstances: In 1814, twenty thousand bales came down the river of 7, 8, and 9 arobas each, 210, 240, 270 pounds each, worth, on a moderate computation, one million sterling. The use of this tea is as general as that of the Chinese with us. It is prescribed in all cases, and is considered one of the most pleasant remedies that can be given. A lady in Buenos Ayres told me, that her physician had prescribed ten mattes or cups of tea, every day. The taste is agreeable even without sugar, which is the more usual mode of preparation. The common way of preparing it is by putting a small quan-
tity of the leaves into a gourd, or cup, in which is placed a reed, or silver tube, called bombilla; hot water is then poured on it, and the infusion is sucked through the tube. It certainly possesses excellent stomachic qualities, and on leaving the country, I missed it exceedingly. It has been already mentioned, that the genus is now made out. None of the seeds, which are like black pepper, which I brought over, have come up; but it is believed that, ultimately, the plant will be cultivated with success in England. De Termeyer, who resided some years among the Guaranis, says, he could not succeed in raising it in Italy on his return. All the yerba now used in the provinces and in Chile, is the palo,or Portuguese, which, being half made up of stalks, yields no flavour whatever. The usual mode of judging of its goodness is, by placing a little on the palm of the hand and blowing it; when, if none remains, it is considered old and devoid of flavour. The Guarani Indians first inspired the Spaniards with a love for this beverage.*
The various provinces of the Rio de la Plata offer such different climates and productions, that the traffic between them must always be
* The quantity of tea sold at the East India Company's sales in 1822, amounted to 27, 893, 565 lbs.
considerable. The northern states produce tobacco and cotton; and if Paraguay were open, yerba, all articles in demand at Buenos Ayres. Tucuman, and the upper provinces of Peru, if peace takes place, will send down a portion of their mineral wealth. The warm situations under the Andes are favourable, in an extraordinary degree, to the growth of the vine; and the wines and brandies of Mendoza and San Juan, to the extent of 12,000 barrels annually find their way to the Rio de la Plata, and are exchanged for English productions. Over a large portion of this part of South America English goods are only now becoming known; and exchanged for articles which have hitherto remained decaying at the door of the hut, and considered of no value. In some of the spots which I visited, where no foreigner had ever been, and where the old Spaniard was believed to be the only European in existence, I observed several articles of English fabric in daily use; though, in some instances, not applied to the purposes for which they were originally intended by the Birmingham manufacturer. In a few years, therefore, we may justly suppose that the English trade to the Rio de la Plata will double its present amount. The provinces, it is to be hoped, will settle their disputes, and
allow a proper system of industry to supersede the anarchy which has been too long suffered to exist. They will be then enabled to take off more of our manufactures, which are brought to their doors, and offered at prices they know not how to resist. The white population being small, it may be said that the quantity of goods consumed will be certain and limited: but it must be recollected that the Indian tribes, of whose extent we have no means of judging, are all equestrian, and therefore possessed of hides, an article which is much sought for by Europeans. Their habits of drinking are well known; and, in time, they will yield up the manufacture of their peculiar chichas, or inspissated drinks, to adopt the brandy of the creoles. Many of the Indians from the neighbourhood of la Paz make journies on foot of eighteen months, carrying on a petty traffic the whole time in medicinal gums, matte pots, and other small articles.
At this moment, the custom house regulations of Buenos Ayres are viewed with considerable discontent by the other provinces; but in time, some distinguishing duties, or modifications, will take place, and this cause of complaint be entirely obviated. A board of trade was appointed on the 9th August, and it is to be hoped
that many of the liberal principles, lately carried into effect in Europe, will find their way to this remote corner of the globe.
Soon after the revolution, the degree of prosperity increased rapidly; but has since, from a variety of circumstances, fluctuated considerably. In 1814, there were 20,000 tons of shipping employed; but such was the distressed state of the country during the years 1819 and 1820, that the amonnt sunk again as low as 8,000 tons. From that period, the increase has been steady. The same causes have had equal effect on the price of land, which has fluctuated in the same way.* It is not thought that any large capitals have been accumulated by Creoles. The rate of interest, depending entirely on the nature of the security, varies from two to three per cent, per month. A national bank has been established since 1821.
* In 1821, D. Manuel Escalada bought an Estancia, a square league in extent, and well stocked with cattle, for 6,000 dollars.
Individual Comfort—Food, Dress and Houses.—Social Happiness, Theatre and Tertulias.—Particular Customs, Language, University.—Public Library, Publications.—Dean Funes.—Gazettes.—Influence of Religion.—Manners of the Inhabitants.—Shades of Difference in the Provinces.—Population, Indians, Slaves.—Executive and Legislative Powers.—Riva-davia and Garcia.—Religious Institutions and Administration of Justice.
THE individual comfort of the inhabitant of Buenos Ayres is confined within narrow limits. The food, as I have before mentioned, is almost entirely confined to meat and yerba matté; and his clothes receive but a small portion of his attention. The poncho before described covers his shoulders, and the skin of the hind leg of a horse produces him an elegant boot without the assistance of the tradesman; with the addition of immense spurs, and a large knife at the girdle, the dress of the Gaucho is complete, excepting on particular occasions, when the drawers are more ornamented at the knees. The better class dress very much as in Spain; the large cloak, that ready article of dress in a
country where little attention is paid to the under garments, still keeps its place. The ladies generally follow the English or French fashions, though, on the whole, they appear to lean more to the former.
The houses of the Buenos Ayrians are moderately furnished: as in Brazil, the inhabitants have not yet acquired that taste for comfort without which an Englishman has some difficulty in existing.
The inhabitants are very much attached to social happiness. The theatre is a favourite resort; and latterly a new one has been built, to which particular privileges have been granted. The new edifice was long called for; when I visited the former theatre, it was so well ventilated that it was possible, between the acts, to study the Magellan clouds; but at this period every thing had sunk to the lowest point from the frequent and unhappy revolutions of the year 1820. There were no seats in the theatre, and all those who intended to go there, sent their own drawing-room chairs. One gallery was reserved for those ladies who were unaccompanied by gentlemen, and who were thus free from any chance of molestation.
The bull fights were for some time totally abolished j but it would appear that the govern-
ment has now reserved to itself the right of permitting them; but an express license must be procured for every exhibition, and the bull must be previously deprived of its horns. It seems rather an anomaly that this should be the case, when it is seen in what way these animals are usually treated by the country- people.
Every family of respectability has its tertudia, or evening party, which includes a certain number of persons in the habit of frequenting the house, and at which strangers are received with the greatest kindness and cordiality. The female part of the family is alone seen, or sometimes the gentleman of the house, but generally both the fathers and brothers are either forming part of another tertulia, or talking politics in the coffee-house. The general amusements are Spanish country dances, of a superior kind to those known by the name in England; waltzing, minuets, and a dance accompanied with words, in which the lady first advances, and sings, "Cielito, mi Cielito," thence termed Cielito, or little heaven. Music also forms a part of the entertainment, and many of the ladies are no despicable performers. Refreshments are abundant, and about 11 o'clock the party breaks up. This takes place night after night. Nothing
can exceed the politeness and elegance of the ladies: and a stranger generally would conclude that it was produced by the most finished education instead of proceeding from innate goodness of disposition. I was always forcibly struck with the truth of the remark made to me by a Portuguese, before leaving Rio de Janeiro, that I was going among people who preferred strangers to their own countrymen. These parties were a good deal reduced latterly, both in number and splendour. The many changes in the government, which rendered three or four great families violent in their animosity against each other, split the community into so many factions, that a severe blow was struck against the social happiness of the city.
The particular customs of the Buenos Ayrians must depend on the peculiar nature of the country which is so favourable to the breeding of cattle. The greatest delight is taken in horses; every man possesses them in abundance, and not unfrequently spends in their trappings the wealth which might be more properly laid out on his own garments. The horse is brought to the door, and tied up, to be ready at any moment for the owner, who would no more think of crossing the street than undertaking a journey on foot. The Buenos Ayrian is continually on horseback: the nets in the
river are drawn from the saddle, and the Gaucho bathes from the horse, and swims round it.—The mounted beggar stands at the corner of the street, and asks charity; his horse is no more a proof of his being undeserving of alms than the trowsers of the English mendicant. The system of begging has, however, been very much repressed; it was formerly carried on to a great extent, even by the better sort of people, who had a fine example in their friends of the mendicant orders; one instance may suffice: A friar, who wished to make a present to D. Manuel de Sarratea, the governor, observed a fine turtle in the market; inquiring the price, he said he would buy it, and soon return with the money: it was put aside for him; he was observed to go to the corner of an adjoining street, and beg for some time, for the best of purposes, until he had raised a sufficiency; when returning, he paid for the turtle, and sent it to the governor. This same turtle was doomed to take another journey; for D. Manuel, either distrusting the powers of his own artiste, or thinking it might be as well bestowed on any person who could, in case of necessity, assist him in any sudden departure, presented it to the British commodore; the same evening he was forced to embark.
The mode of lassooing horses with a long
thong and noose has been often described; it is performed with surprising dexterity. Owing to the numbers and cheapness of this animal, it is made to fill various offices, which in other countries would be accomplished by manual labour. Besides their employment in threshing corn, already mentioned, they are used in working up clay for brickmaking; a number of young horses being forced to gallop through it, until it is sufficiently mixed.
It may be supposed that the state of the arts is not high: some paintings have been copied in former days by Guarani Indians, and still decorate the churches, but at the present period, I could learn of no native artists. Drawing has made little progress among the inhabitants, in spite of an academy and professor, paid by the state. Music has been much more successfully cultivated.
The Spanish spoken in Buenos Ayres is colonial, or rather provincial, any thing but pure Castilian. Many of the words in most common use are sadly altered from their true pronunciation. Cavallo is pronounced Cavadjo, Calle Cadje, and yo jo. Many expressions, too, which may be used in the mother country with the greatest propriety, are dangerous words to utter in Buenos Ayres.
The only university in this part of the world was that of Cordova, established and brought to perfection under the immediate eye of the Jesuits. As soon, however, as the Spanish court formed a separate vice-royalty of Buenos Ayres, it sent out orders for the establishment of an university in the city, on the same plan as that of Lima. These orders were, however, most unaccountably neglected, for no steps were taken towards the completion of such an object. From that year (1778) until 1819, the project remained dormant, when it was again agitated. The disturbances which occurred in that year, and in 1820, put a stop to the plan. On the 9th August, 1821, the earliest period that the Secretary of State, Rivadavia, could possibly dedicate to the affair, a decree came out for the formation of an university, and a regulation for the payment of professors on a very liberal scale. It was ordered that a certain number of youths from all the provinces should be educated free of expense; the reasons of which are judicious and easily understood, and will tend, it is to be hoped, to smooth down in time some of those violent animosities at present so unhappily subsisting between the various states.
Previous to the declaration of independence.
every difficulty was thrown in the way of public instruction; none but the most common schools were permitted to be established, and those only under strict municipal regulations. At present, in addition to many small private schools, several large ones, on the system of Bell, are instituted at the government expense.
A large public library was established some years ago by the endeavours in part of some English merchants; it consisted, at first, of about 12,000 volumes, but has been since considerably augmented; it is under very good regulations, and by the printed return, it appears, that between the 21st March and 31st December, 1822, it was visited by 2960 persons, of whom 369 were foreigners. Some curious MSS. are in the hands of private persons, who were willing to sell them, but the price was extravagant. The best private collection I visited was that of Dr. Segurola, before mentioned; it was chiefly enriched by the spoils of the extinct company, and shewed to perfection the beauty of their system, and how well it was adapted to the order of things.
Books are permitted to enter free of duty, and the quantity of French books that have arrived in the country, and been conveyed a considerable distance inland, is surprising. Few
works have been published in Buenos Ayres; but the most distinguished one is that of Dean Funes, "Ensayo de la Historia Civil del Paraguay, Buenos Ayres, y Tucuman,"* which will always preserve the memory of the author. He has also published some pamphlets relating to his dispute with the ex-Bishop of Blois, as to the period of the introduction of slaves into America.
At present there is no scientific journal published in Buenos Ayres. Previous to the revolution, the Spanish government permitted an agricultural and botanical work to be printed, called the "Seminario de Buenos Ayres;" it was conducted by a Doctor Castelli, and was dropped about the year 1810.
Besides the Registro Official, there are several other gazettes published: such as the Argos and Centinela, both very respectably conducted. During any changes of government, the press teems with publications from the different parties, who take the greatest delight in paper wars, and scarcely know when to cease. Rivadavia has done all in his power to turn the minds of the people to literary pursuits. He established in January last (1823), a literary society, and ordered, in addition, that a collection of national
* In 3 vol 4to.—Buenos Ayres, 1816.
poetry should be made, and printed at the public expense. Learning is thus every way encouraged, and as the understanding of the inhabitants is good, a few years will effect much.
It cannot be said that the influence of religion is considerable; it appeared to me rather on the decrease, and being so, has materially assisted those changes in the religious institutions which will be mentioned hereafter. There is a great spirit of toleration abroad, and whatever the private feeling existing in the breasts of the inhabitants may be, as far as regards foreigners, nothing was ever allowed to escape which might lead one to suspect that heretics were underrated in their eyes. As there were no places for the exercise of the Protestant religion, and as the burial grounds were perfectly distinct, many of those causes which occasion religious disputes in other countries were thus avoided. Many marriages have been contracted between Presbyterians and the natives, thus joining two sects, which, in general, do not harmonize well together. I never heard, however, of any disputes between the parties, arising from this source; it seemed, indeed, as if the religious part of the contract was entirely left in the hands of the lady.
The manners of the upper ranks of society in
VOL. I. N
Buenos Ayres are generally very good, and as a proper system of education is now adopted, the rising generation will combine information and acquirements with that innate good nature which has at all times prevailed. It is perhaps hardly possible to speak too favourably of the female sex, and the satisfaction of giving their real character is doubled, when it is known that calumnies have prevailed. In describing the Creoles of all parts of the new world, it has always been the fashion to give them the vices of the mother state and none of her virtues; and when it is considered of what persons the early European colonies were composed, chiefly of adventurers and criminals, perhaps for some early period the picture drawn of their excesses was by no means too highly coloured; but it is satisfactory to think, that a population can, like impure water, become cleansed by time and tranquillity, and the grosser particles sinking to the bottom, a virtuous race rise from the original dregs. There can be no hesitation in saying, that the morals of Buenos Ayres are very far superior to those of many European states, although the indolence of the natives militates greatly against the fact. My residence in the city was very short, but strangers have frequently greater opportunities of observing
the defects than those persons who have resided some time in the country, the chances rather being that they do not become at first acquainted with the most worthy members of society; but, I confess, I did not observe any of those connections or intrigues so common in other countries; and in corroboration, those who had been resident in the country for years, informed me that on this point the Buenos Ayrians have been much misrepresented. It may be added, that, if they do run into any vice, they are singularly successful in the concealment of it.
Perhaps the greatest defect that can be mentioned, and certainly in a new country it is one that is more particularly noxious, is that general degree of indolence which more or less pervades all classes. The higher ranks, with respect to fortune, are pretty much on a level, and, possessing all the necessaries and many of the comforts of life, have not that inclination for exertion which characterizes the inhabitants of northern regions. The same disposition prevails with the lower classes, with worse consequences: their chief anxiety is to avoid work or exertion of any kind; to sit in a pulperia (spirit shop), and play at some game which requires little personal fatigue—to drink as for-
tune becomes unfavourable—and, in a fit of passion, to stab the more fortunate—is no uncommon way of spending the day among the lowest inhabitants of Buenos Ayres. Numberless are the crosses about the doors of the pulperias, intimating the fatal quarrels which they have witnessed. On the least dispute the poncho is wrapped round the left arm, and the knife flourishes in the right: fortunately but a small proportion of these combats terminate mortally. They use the knife with considerable dexterity; and when they kill, the wound is almost invariably through the heart. Of late, however, various regulations have been made to repress this barbarous habit of fighting. Swords, knives, and other weapons of that kind (armas blancas), are forbidden to be carried about the person; and to repress the number of pulperias very heavy sums have been put on the licenses necessary to carry them on. These crimes I have mentioned always take place in the heat of passion. To excite feelings of irritation is to be lost; and to entertain groundless suspicions, or to shew the slightest symptom of alarm, is sure to excite the rage of the Buenos Ayrian, and render him capable of the worst of crimes, as if it were from a desire of acting up to the character which was given to him.
To a feeling of this kind must be attributed that most unhappy and fatal business which occurred near Montevideo in 1820. Deliberate murder, however, rarely occurs. The disposition of the people is decidedly good, and their honesty has never been called in question. Industry is all that is wanting. The man attends to the horse, and will take charge of nothing else. The wife is the slave, and has to exercise her reflecting faculties, as well as her hands, for the husband. The cow is placed under her care; she milks what is required for the family, and no more. Butter and cheese she is little acquainted with. On entering their huts the woman puts the stool or the head of an ox for a seat, but the husband never rises: he is pleased with the visit of the stranger, but would cease to enjoy it if it cost him the least bodily exertion. The visitor may proceed to the hearth and use the small copper vessel in which the water is boiled for the mattés; he may even take the meat off the wooden spit—but he must do all this himself; to ask the gaucho for any exertion would be to run the risk of displeasure, and he would after all only call to his wife, without turning his head. Nothing excites their surprise more than to see a foreigner bustling about his own baggage, and looking
after every thing himself. Pity seems the prevailing feeling. This is the character of the gaucho round Buenos Ayres, which few foreigners had a better opportunity of witnessing than myself, considering the shortness of my residence in the country. Most of their faults must be deduced from their mode of life. They are probably in the employ of men who own large estancias or grazing farms, who allow them their subsistence, and little more, and whose service they leave, and more to another part of the country without difficulty or even notice. They consequently acquire wandering and frequently predatory habits; and it is not easy in the Pampas to exercise the law with vigour. The various commotions in the country have tended much to give the lower classes a distaste to a regular life and industrious habits. Still the demoralization is not nearly to that extent which all these causes might have produced; and upon the whole I cannot help thinking favourably of the Buenos Ayrian. He is free from deceit—would be most obliging were it not for his indolence—and most amiable if he had the slightest command over his passions.
It cannot be denied that there are strong shades of difference in the characters of the
inhabitants of the several provinces of the Rio de la Plata. The Santa Fécino is more wild, more regardless of the laws, and more cruel than the inhabitant of Buenos Ayres. The Cordovese is more industrious, more religious, and consequently more quiet than either of the preceding. The inhabitants of Tucuman and St. Iago del Estero are industrious, but discontented on account of the lucrative trade in mules being destroyed by the war in Peru. The provinces of Mendoza and San Juan are industrious and mercantile; but generally, as the coast is left either from the Atlantic or from the Pacific, the morals of the people are better.
A census of the population was taken in the year 1821, but for some reason was never published by the government, as far as I have been able to discover. The city has been said to contain 80,000 inhabitants; but I have reason to think it does not exceed 65,000. The population of the province is computed at about 80,000, including in this estimate the Pampa Indians. From the unsettled state of the country since the revolution, and the advances of the Indians, the population has been very much on the move, and several villages are now deserted from feelings of insecurity, and the inhabitants dispersed or settled in the city.
The amount of population has decreased, and this fact is to be accounted for by the various political changes which have occurred, and the large armies which have gone forth to assist the other countries to throw off the Spanish yoke, and which, when the whole population is considered, appear absolutely surprising. The whites generally reach a good old age, more particularly the females, who seem to possess a strength of constitution even in very advanced years. It has been asserted that the number of women in Buenos Ayres far exceeds the men, some writers stating to the extent of one to thirteen, one to seven; and that this great difference did not result from circumstances which occur in all countries, such as wars and habit of life, but from the actual number of females born far exceeding the males. I took some pains to examine this curious point, which, if true, would stand without parallel; but I confess an examination of the register of San Nicolas, one of the most populous parishes of the city, in no way bore out the assertion, the number being pretty nearly equal, or the difference not greater than is met with in other countries.* It is to be hoped that the population will now increase rapidly, and that before
* Appendix, No. 10.
long the soldiers of the state will return from Peru and become useful and valuable citizens.
It will not be considered surprising, when the nature of the life led by the Indians is considered, that little is with certainty known of their numbers. The Pampa Indians, however, judging by those who traffic with the Buenos Ayrians, seem, if any thing, on the increase. The small pox and other disorders, which commit great havoc on human existence, seem to have expended themselves in all the native tribes; for since the very unjust expulsion of the Jesuits, most of the Indian nations have receded, and thus left behind them many of those complaints which they had acquired from the Creoles.
It is well known that, in consequence of the existence of an indigenous population, whom the conquerors parcelled out and forced to cultivate the earth for their subsistence; and in consequence of the absence of mines and any labour (excepting the collecting of the Paraguay tea) destructive of life, there was not for many years any demand for foreign slaves. By degrees, however, when the decrease among the Indian tribes became apparent, and from feelings of commiseration towards them, there was a necessity for the importation of negroes,
various European nations, such as the English, French, and Dutch, who had settlements on the coast of Africa, entered into contracts to supply the Spanish settlements in the Rio de la Plata with slaves. The number of imported negroes was never great, being just sufficient to supply the town, the nature of the agriculture and the climate not requiring any great number of cultivators. These states are now enjoying the advantages of this fortunate event, and by it alone have a decided superiority over their Brazilian neighbours. During the first years of the revolution, when a great deficiency of men for the armies was felt, the state purchased several thousands of negroes from their owners to fill up the ranks. These purchases have been continued until 1822, when it was determined that no more public money should be spent upon this item. As it was decreed on the meeting of the national congress in January, 1813, that all children of slaves born after that day should be free, the number has, from these causes, greatly diminished; and it is overrating the proportion to say that more than one slave exists to nine freemen. The feelings of the people are strongly opposed to any recommencement of the traffic.
With respect to the population of the pro-
vinces, it has been extremely overrated, even by persons who, it might have been supposed, were well informed on the subject. From the best information I obtained, both in Buenos Ayres and in many of the chief towns, I cannot extend the amount beyond 450,000,* without taking the Indians into the calculation. In most of the provinces the increase of population has attracted the attention of government, and any regulations which threw difficulties in the way of marriages have been expunged. In Buenos Ayres a law was passed as far back as 1817, to prevent the marriages of Spaniards with natives of the country, but in August, 1821, this was abrogated. The importation of industrious families into the state was also sanctioned by the Chamber of Representatives, and various facilities were offered to such foreigners as might be inclined to settle.
Since the separation of the provinces, in February, 1820, the style of the Chief became necessarily altered: that of General Rodriguez, who was appointed on the 6th October, 1820, for three years is. Governor and Captain General of the Province of Buenos Ayres. There is little to be said respecting this officer, excepting
* Appendix, No. 11.
that he possesses in an eminent degree the greatest of all virtues for a commander—firmness; and to this must be attributed the great ameliorations which have taken place in the province since the commencement of his rule. His conduct through life has always been marked with great patriotism, and he was one of the first who declared for the freedom of the country and the downfall of the Spanish yoke. He was one of the sixteen who planned the revolution in 1810, and who named the first junta of government to supersede that of the Viceroy Cisneros. His known character for firmness has had a strong tendency to keep the people quiet. When he took charge of the government, after the rising of the Civicos, many lives were lost in the streets of Buenos Ayres. Alluding to that event, he told the people on one occasion, when there was the probability of a tumult, that by blood he entered, and by blood he should go out. Perhaps no disposition could have been found better suited for the times and the people; and it appears the general wish that, on the expiration of the period of his command, it should be renewed for another term. The prerogatives in the republic are very limited; the governor has the power of promoting officers to the rank
of Coronel Maior, and of rewarding them with grants of land; but there is no order of nobility or knighthood in his gift.*
After the Director Pueyrredon went out of power, towards the end of 1819, and the separation of the provinces took place, the legislative power was very irregularly conducted. Sometimes it vested in the cabildo or municipal authorities, sometimes it was perfectly dormant, and the various changes in the executive annihilated for the time of its exercise. After the defeat of the Civicos, the Junta de Representantes again exercised its rights, and after a lapse of some months was regularly organized. The election is indirect. Each of the primary or parochial assemblies votes for twelve representatives, and of the whole number those who have most votes are chosen. For the parishes and villages in the province eleven are chosen in a similar way. Scrutineers are named to examine the votes, which are verbally given. At the commencement of August, 1821, the Chamber of Representatives was declared extraordinary and constituent, and various regulations were made. First, it
* On the 1st April, 1824, Don Martin Rodriguez went out of office, and D. Juan Gregorio de las Heras was appointed Governor and Captain General by a majority of ten votes.
was decreed that the number of representatives for the city and the country should be doubled, and that one should be added for Patagonia, thus making the number forty-seven, which, taking the amount of population into account, is sufficiently popular. Secondly, That at the commencement of each session, half of the members should go out, and fresh elections take place. Thirdly, That no members should receive pay from government. And lastly, That a president and vice-president should be chosen in turn annually. At first the distinction of deputy was not an honour much sought for by the people: it was elevating them to what appeared a dangerous height, from which they might be precipitated, they knew not how soon; for little confidence could then be put in the stability of the government. At the last election this feeling had very properly worn away, and the electors and candidates seemed aware of that distinction which, in all countries, where a proper feeling exists, is viewed with eager eyes. The sessions of the chamber commence about May or June, and last until December, when it is prorogued on account of the summer heats.
The very improved state of the country in every branch, but particularly in the finances
and police, must be attributed to the appointment of D. Bernadino Rivadavia to the secretaryship of state. This nomination took place in July, 1821, when the country, from intestine disturbances and misrule, was reduced to the lowest ebb. From that period, every thing has put on a renovated appearance; confidence has been restored, and old and dangerous prejudices combated and eradicated. Rivadavia had been for some time the agent of Buenos Ayres in London, and while there, he watched all our admirable institutions, and, in his mind, saw what could with advantage be transplanted to his native country, and what was as yet too refined, or not adapted to its sphere. He appears to have used, whenever it was possible, England as his model; and his public spirit has certainly been well seconded by the most thinking part of the community.
Garcia, the secretary of the treasury, was long the agent in Rio de Janeiro; and his appointment also reflects great credit on the governor. In the Appendix,* the message sent by these gentlemen to the chamber of representatives, at the meeting of the fourth session, will be read with interest.
* Appendix, No. 12.
One subject, which appears to have received much of Rivadavia's attention, is the state of the church and its discipline. It is well known that, while the Spanish power existed in South America, the quantity of property held by ecclesiastics and monastic institutions was immense. The king was the head of the church; that power having, at the conquest, been delegated to him, with the sovereignty of the country, by the Pope. In right of this, the tithes of the country fell into the royal treasury, as well as the first fruits, and other ecclesiastical resources; to which, in the mother country, he could lay no claim. In all the cities, the number of convents for monks and nuns was numerous; and, excepting the Jesuits, and since their extinction, the Franciscans, who were charged with the care of public instruction, were all so many drones and useless members of a rising state.
At the commencement of the revolution, the country was deprived of the services of the Bishop of Buenos Ayres, who was a suffragan of the see of Lima. The government then made itself the head of the church, after much curious reasoning on the part of the ecclesiastics, to whom the question was proposed. Whether any scruples were, after all, entertained of the
correctness of this decision, does not appear; but, in 1815 the Pope was solicited to arrange the affaire of the church, an office which his holiness declined: he could not indeed act otherwise.
The first thing which occurred to D. Bernadino Rivadavia, on his coming into power, was to clip the wings and every way curtail the influence of the cloistered clergy. He considered that all his plans would be frustrated by this body, which have been in all catholic countries famous for their powers of intrigue and illiberal principles. He first put a stop to the importation, by expressly forbidding any to enter the province without an order from government; and by degrees passed through the Chamber a variety of decrees, by which he accomplished his purposes; and at the same time, by excellent articles in the periodical papers, he prepared the minds of the people for the change, and even contrived to cast an odium on the reputation of the cloister. On the other hand, every thing was done to raise the secular clergy in the eyes of the people. A board was named to take possession of the rents of all the convents, and to examine the number of the inmates, their ages and dispositions. Shortly after this, the tithes were abolished, and the
VOL. I. O
regulation for the church published; the dignitaries of which were to be composed of a dean, with a salary of two thousand dollars, and four presbyters, with sixteen hundred dollars of salary. Every difficulty was thrown in the way of seclusion: no one was to be permitted to take the vows until twenty-five years of age; and even then an express license from government was required. Towards the end of the year 1822, Rivadavia proposed to the Chamber that no convent which contained more than thirty, or less than sixteen inmates, should be permitted to remain: this proposition was received, and several convents fell by it. It was ordered that the members of the suppressed houses should receive two hundred and fifty dollars annually, if under forty-five, and three hundred dollars, if more, with the permission of proceeding wherever they might think fit. The chapels of the suppressed houses were converted into parish churches, which were served with a splendour hitherto unseen. The only monasteries now left belong to the Franciscans, Mercedarios and Predicadores; and the only convents, that of Santa Catalina, limited to thirty, and that of the Capucins. The names of those persons who secularised were published, with every encomium, in the
gazette. Many were literally reasoned out of their convents; and this measure, which, taking into account the state of the country and the strength of the party to be humbled, was one of the boldest ever undertaken, has been carried: into effect with little disturbance; and the example has been followed by almost all the other states. In March last, an attempt was made to overturn the government, and from the cries of Viva la Religion, Mueren los Hereges! with which the rebels galloped into the town, it might be supposed that it proceeded from a party who had viewed this measure with discontent; but the disturbance was soon put down.
Rivadavia has remodelled, in a great measure, the various courts of justice. Leaving the law as it stood in the time of the Spaniards, he has raised the salaries of the Judges, to render them less open to temptation; and has caused them to furnish monthly lists of all the cases, criminal and civil, which have been decided, or are in progress. By these means, justice is much expedited. The establishment at present consists of four Counsellors of Justice, at a salary of 2,500 dollars, and five Judges of the high court, at a salary of 2,000 dollars. The Consulado takes cognizance of questions purely
commercial, and of the inforcement of debts. The Cabildo, or municipal body, has a certain charge over the city; and one of the Alcaldes of it is termed the Defender of the Poor. Juries have not yet been introduced, and perhaps it would not be easy to find a sufficiency of persons fit for the office. In all cases, parties pay their own costs. The only crimes that are punished with death are high treason, murder and robbery; and of late, the military have been rendered amenable to civil law, like the rest of the community. The only regulation affecting game was, to prohibit its exposure in the market during a certain period of the year.
Revenue.—Public Debt, internal and external Security.—Al-tacks of the Indians.—Alliances.—Summary of Events from the year 1810 to the present time.
FROM the year 1776, when the provinces of the Rio de la Plata were first formed into a distinct Viceroyalty, until the attempt made by the English in 1806, the revenue derived by Spain seldom exceeded 700,000 dollars. When the extent of this ancient government is considered, the great value of some of the mining districts, such as Potosi, La Paz, and Oruro, which were included in it, and the various heavy taxes laid on, it will appear surprising that the amount should be so low. The taxes then levied were most numerous and oppressive. The Alcabala, a duty of 3, 4, or 5 per cent. on all sales and re-sales, was one that seems to have created the most discontent, and which has been abolished by all the new governments, with the exception of Paraguay. The tonnage dues, sales of Pa-pal bulls, tithes, and the royal fifths on gold and silver, were all arbitrarily raised, and se-
verely felt. The poll tax paid by the Indians formed a separate item. As soon, however, as the events of the revolution opened a free trade with the rest of the world, the new government laid on, or rather continued, the heavy duties and port dues of former times; and as, from circumstances, the inland taxes became deficient, the whole strength of the revenue depended on the returns of the custom house. The expenses became extremely onerous, and the numerous expeditions equipped by Buenos Ayres to all quarters of the continent, and the large sums of money and supplies bestowed on Chile and the Banda Oriental, will at once prove that the state must have greatly exceeded its revenue for almost every year since the revolution. The government, like young political economists, endeavoured to make good the deficiency by increasing the rate of duties, without possessing any of those means which are adopted by other countries to repress a system of illicit traffic. The foreign merchants were more than once on the point of leaving the country, to avoid the payment of forced contributions. As soon as a ship arrived, a proposition was made by the officers of the customs to land the cargo clandestinely, and if the captain was troubled by conscientious feelings and rejected the offer.
he had of course every difficulty thrown in his way by those with whom he had refused to traffic. Representations were frequently made to the government, by which express duties were purposely laid on to suit some cargo, of the arrival of which in the river, intelligence had been received. For all these reasons, many goods were landed at Montevideo, and were afterwards clandestinely introduced into the province. The intestine wars had of necessity great effect on the proceeds of the inland dues: tithes, formerly one of the chief sources, were perfectly unproductive. From these facts, it may easily be seen to what a state the treasury was reduced when the present government came into power.
In July, 1821, the attention of government was directed to the finance, and a Mr. Wylde, an Englishman, drew up several papers and projects for the remodelling of the custom-house. Shortly afterwards the new tariff made its appearance, on a reduced and proper scale; it is dated the 21st August, and provides, that quick-silver, machines of every description, agricultural implements, scientific instruments, prints, statues, wool, skins, watches, trinkets, woods and articles for manufactures, shall pay five per cent. of custom-house duties. That arms, pow-
der, silk rough and manufactured, shall pay 10 per cent. All other articles not included in the above, 15 percent.: excepting sugar, tea (Chinese), coffee, cocoa, and yerba matté, which are to pay 20 per cent.; and carriages, furniture, saddles, wines and liquors of all sorts, which are to pay 25 per cent.
The export duties are as follows: 1 real on each ox hide, ½ a real on horse or mule hides, 1 per cent. on gold in coin, 2 per cent. if worked; 3 per cent. on silver in coin, and 4 per cent. if worked or in pia; productions of the country 4 per cent.; grain and flour if exported in national vessels, and all manufactures of the country, and hair, free from duty; yerba matté imported by land, to pay 10 per cent. The tariff farther states that all goods may leave Buenos Ayres for the interior, without any other dues, by taking proper permits.
As soon as this tariff was put in force, a great improvement took place in the custom-house revenue; the last four months of that year produced 288,079 dollars, and the year 1822 the custom-house return amounted to little short of 2,000,000. In the first six months of 1823 the custom-house returns were 955,882, shewing that they keep up in amount.*
* Appendix, Nos. 13, 14, and 15.
The next article from which a revenue of any consequence is derived is stamps and licenses. It appears that the last four months of 1821, the amount was about 12,313, but after that period additional stamps being put on the licenses requisite for pulperias or public-houses, the increase was considerable. In the first three months of 1822, the amount of stamp duties was 31,037 dollars net, of which the additional stamps for public-house licenses formed 21,000. The whole of these duties for that year amounted to 74,789. In the following year the increase on stamps was large, and shews perhaps more than any thing else the augmented prosperity of the province: they amounted from the lst of January to the 31st of July, to 86,635 dollars.
During the various disturbances which took place, the distressed state of the treasury was such, that repeated calls were made on individuals to come forward and assist the country with a direct contribution. This mode of raising supplies became sanctioned by time, and it was latterly understood that each man should pay his quota according to his rank of life. It does not appear, however, that previous to my visit to Buenos Ayres, the per centage was at all fixed. Towards the end of the year 1821, the regulations for the direct contribution were
published: it orders all persons of the rank of merchants to pay 8 dollars per 1000, manufacturers 6, breeders of cattle 2, farmers 1 per 1000 dollars of property; all classes not included in the above, 2 dollars per 1000; if married, and the whole capital does not exceed 2000 dollars, exempt; if single, no person to be exempt from this contribution, unless his capital is under 1000 dollars.
The port dues have been much modified: in 1822 their amount was only 8407 dollars. The national vessels, and all those trading to the coast of Patagonia, seem in a great degree absolved from the payment of any; and with regard to foreign vessels, it is reasonable to suppose that the state would place them on the same footing as their own, if a similar concession were made by other states; at present, however, there are very few national vessels to avail themselves of such an act of reciprocity.
The post-office has also been remodelled, and regular posts established to Chile, Montevideo, and the interior states; and the English, who on account of the extent of their commerce, had the privilege of receiving their letters without their being taken to the post-office, have been placed on the same footing as the rest of the community.
In December, 1821, the government thought
proper to abolish entirely the oppressive duty called the Alcabala, and about 12 months after, the tithes were also declared for ever extinct.
|From all these grand sources of revenue the amount in 1821 was little more than||1,000,000=£343,743:15|
|1822 it increased to.||2,519,094=£566,793: 3|
|1823, judging from the accounts as far as they have been made up, and allowing for a certain stagnation on account of the attack of the Indians||3,000,000=£675,000: 0|
We will now turn to the other side of the account, and examine the expenditure.
In the first years of the revolution, as I have before stated, the demands made on the treasury for urgent purposes could not be answered by the proceeds of the usual resources of revenue. Loans, therefore, were recurred to, and were chiefly obtained on the guarantee of the customhouse returns; some, however, were of a forced nature: others proceeded from the liberality and patriotism of the moment. The government changing continually, the actual amounts
of the different debts were never examined. It was an unpleasant task for any government; and as it was thought most unlikely that any portion would be paid off, it might be considered as useless toil to examine and arrange the various claims. As soon as the government of D. Martin Rodriguez felt itself firmly seated, it ordered a full examination to be made of the public debt, its amount, of what description, when borrowed, and on what security. From this scrutiny it appeared that the whole amount was about four and a half millions of dollars. This debt was then consolidated, and a sinking fund created to provide for its gradual extinction. The amount cancelled in
1821 was —dollars.
1823 to July 213,000
It appears to be the intention of government to lay aside 300,000 dollars annually for the purpose, and to make an application to the government of Chile and Peru to assist in the liquidation, a large portion of the debt having been contracted on their account.* Hitherto the government of Buenos Ayres has taken up no loans in Europe, and in consequence of this for
* Appendix, No. 16.
bearance, may be able to treat on better terms with capitalists than the other states of the New World.
The heaviest item in the account of expenditure is that of war, which takes up nearly a million of dollars. It is impossible not to be surprised at the exertions which this province has made in the struggles for independence; more than a third of its revenue has been bestowed, and it may be said with perfect truth, that to her the patriot cause owes its very existence. In the first six months of 1823, Buenos Ayres had not relaxed her exertions, although an enemy of a different nature had attacked her very gates. To conclude this head, although it does not appear that any large superfluity of revenue exists, yet it is evident that the finances are in a good state; and if the province can once get finally rid of the attacks of the Indians, and the heavy expenses of the war in Chile, she will soon pay off the national debt and become extremely flourishing. In time, perhaps, the national trade may become so large that some concession may be made in favour of goods which only pass through the capital; and a small transit duty, determined on by all the frontier states, would tend much to allay the irritation which at present unhappily subsists upon the question.
For the internal security of the province, bodies of armed citizens have been raised at various times of danger and difficulty. The Civicos and Cuerpos del Orden owe their organization to intestine disturbances, which in several instances they have contributed to foment instead of using their influence to allay. In cases of emergency these bodies patrol the streets. The police was formerly under the direction of the members of the municipality; but the system has been since altered by Rivadavia. A chief of the police has been appointed; but in consequence of the revolt of March, 1823, he was turned out and another appointed. Previous to the alteration it could be hardly said that any police existed whatever; and although various infractions of the peace took place, in any other country, under similar circumstances, the disorders would have been much greater; The various charities of the city, of which there are many, were also under the charge of the Cabildo, but Rivadavia has assimilated them more to establishments of the same nature in England, and has excited the disposition of the inhabitants to take charge of them, and form committees of management.
With regard to the external defence of the province during my residence in Buenos Ayres, it consisted of a regiment of blacks, composed
of 800 men; this might, in fact, be termed the only regular regiment. A cavalry regiment was forming under Col. La Madrid, and it was the wish of D. Martin Rodriguez to form an army of 5,000 men. Since that period, the cavalry has been extended to three regiments, and the infantry greatly strengthened. The militia was numerous, but not organized. It is not easy to ascertain the precise number of Buenos Ayrians fighting in Peru; but it is not thought that they now amount to many.
The naval force of the republic is of trifling moment, and should its power be confined to the province of Buenos Ayres, there are considerable difficulties thrown in the way of its increase. No ship of the size of a frigate can come nearer than four or five miles of the town. Ensinada is but an indifferent harbour, and the country is quite devoid of any timber fit for building. If the port of Montevideo should ever fall into the hands of the state, there would be then strong motives for an increase of naval force, and timber in abundance would not be wanting either from Paraguay, if a change took place in her system, otherwise from Brazil. As soon, however, as affairs become more settled, there can be no doubt that this subject will draw the attention of the proper authorities.
The Indians in the Pampas to the south of Buenos Ayres have been said to consist of various nations; and partly on supposititious grounds, and partly form the reports of some who went into the country, and others who proceeded by sea, the maps of this part of the world are covered with the names of an infinity of nations, whose boundaries are badly, if at all defined. From their wandering life and general badness of disposition, the Jesuit Fathers, who did not dread the most cruel northern tribes, and whose disposition they overcame in a short time had, little success with them, and latterly considered the case as almost hopeless. Taking from this long list of nations, those immediately in contact with the settlers of Buenos Ayres, and those Indians whom the severity of the extreme point of the continent have also changed in their nature, I strongly suspect that the rest form but one nation, with a common language and customs. It has been supposed that the Andes formed a division between the nations; but the fact is, that to the south of latitude 37°, they can hardly be said to form any divisional line, for the passes are numerous, and so easy, that it is reported carts can pass without difficulty. There are strong grounds to suppose that the Indians to
the east of the Cordillera, under the names of Aucaes, Puelches and Pehuerches, are identically the same as the Araucanos of Chile. From the information of the early missionaries, and from other intelligent sources, little doubt remains respecting the identity of the Aucaes and Araucanos; and the former agree in their habits and customs with the great mass of the Indian nations. The governor of Valparaiso had crossed the Cordillera very far south, and it was also his opinion, that if any difference existed, which he did not think, it was very trifling. Unlike the nations to the north of Buenos Ayres, they seem to preserve continual peace with each other. The customs of these Indians have been described by several authors. They are brave, capable of great fatigue, and the horse, which they manage with wonderful dexterity, supplies them with nourishment. Those I had an opportunity of seeing in Buenos Ayres, where they were set to work in one of the streets, were tall, well made, with long black hair and yellow complexions. Their features were certainly good. D. Felix de Azara's account of this nation will be found in the Appendix.*
From the commencement of the quarrels
* No. 17.
VOL. I. P
between the settlers of Buenos Ayres and the pampa Indians, hardly any years have passed away without some cattle being stolen, and some aggressions taking place. After the war in 1740, peace was purchased in a way that gave the Indians the highest idea of their own strength and importance. The Spaniards, having been completely routed, were glad to obtain it on any terms; but the advice of the Jesuit missionary, who arrested the progress of the war, was not attended to; and it was settled that the Indian captives should be given up without any terms being required, while the Spanish captives were to be paid ransom for. In 1767, the Indians again attacked Buenos Ayres with great fury, laying waste all the cultivated lands near the city, driving away the cattle, and, what was worse, carrying away many captives. Falkner says, that, of two parties of Spaniards who went out on that occasion, ten alone escaped. A large body went afterwards in pursuit, but thought it more prudent to allow the Indians to retreat unmolested.
It may not be improper to remark here, that the character generally given to the South American tribes, is, with few exceptions, unfavourable to them. The Jesuits, who were best acquainted with them, and who, in their
accounts, certainly extenuated their vices, could not at times conceal their disgust at their cruelty, indolence, and superstition. Perhaps from this general censure, the Guaraní nation, one of the most extensive, must be excepted; but it must be recollected, that they were the first subjected to their pious care, and always dwelt under their immediate inspection. This nation was entirely in the hands of the Jesuits, who were thus able to keep the Spanish soldiers at a distance, and maintain among their proselytes a happy ignorance of all the vices which degrade man. The Franciscans, who assisted in the work of conversion, had the task entirely placed in their hands, when the Jesuits were forced to leave the country. There is no doubt they endeavoured to convert the various Indians to the Christian faith; but, whether from want of talents or zeal in their teachers, it is equally clear that the Indians, who had been, during the time of the Jesuits, among the most fervent proselytes, have since relapsed, and to their native vices added a long list of others which they had acquired from the Europeans. This applies almost to the whole number of Indian tribes, who now lead a more unsettled and miserable life than they did previously to the discovery. The
republicans, to their credit, have abolished the poll tax, and the mita, or personal service; but have been too much occupied with their own intestine disturbances to pay much attention to these nations, which are now increasing in population. Some of them have enlisted under the banners of the different chiefs. During my stay at the head-quarters of Lopez, the Governor of Santa Fé, there were about eighty Indians in his train, whom I found much addicted to stealing, and little aware that any thing like discipline was expected to exist in a camp.
Of late years, these attacks on the part of the pampa Indians have become more frequent. During my journey across these plains, they were led up to the north by the instigation of Carrera, one of the disappointed Chilian chiefs, and, as will be seen hereafter, I had a most narrow escape of becoming acquainted with their modern manners and customs. In 1822, the attacks were so frequent and so close to the city of Buenos Ayres, that the Governor sallied forth and drove them back; but such is the nature of the country, that a few hours place an enemy that has fled close on the heels of the retiring conqueror. The eye-sight of the Indians is described as being peculiarly
acute; and all who have any mixture of their blood seem to inherit the faculty. On the borders of their territories, all the creoles have a platform elevated about twenty feet, on which a lad constantly stands and examines the horizon with his eye; and by this means, some time is given either to escape, or, what is more common, to throw open the ditch and fasten up the gate of the staked inclosure.
In consequence of these repeated attacks, it appeared to D. Martin Rodriguez, that the only way to restrain the Indians permanently, would be to establish posts and forts in fit situations. This was accordingly done, a line being drawn to the south-east of Buenos Ayres, from a spot called Tandil, to the Sierra de Ventana. It does not appear whether these forts were finished when the Indians again marched forward; but in January, 1823, they made it the subject of discontent, and appeared in considerable numbers close to the city. In the following month, the Governor of the province went out in pursuit, and remained absent for six months; and Rivadavia, who was charged with the government ad interim, formed a plan for the more perfect re-organization of the militia, and for the raising of a third regiment of cavalry. The provinces of Santa Fé and
Mendoza also, at this period, marched troops against the Indian. On the 4th August, D. Martin Rodriguez returned to the city to procure all the disposable force he could, and sallied again on the 17th September against the Indians, who were strongly posted, and in peat numbers, in the direction of Tandil and Chapalcopu. At the date of the last advices in November, the Indian, having again approached the city, had struck, great panic. Trade seemed at an end; and as an idea was general that the Indians who now attacked the capital, wore the Araucanos of Chile, who bad marched through the Planchon. and no longer the common pampa Indian, strong fears were entertained that, to drive them back effectually, a larger force was required than any at present possessed by the slate. I am much inclined to doubt whether these are the Indians of Chile, but should suspect they are the Aucaes or Araucanos of the east; for, simultaneously, the southern parts of that country were attacked by the Araucanos, who, it is said, have been always opposed to the government, on account of its conduct towards the Carreras. It was not thought that there were emissaries among them, but it seems more than probable that there were.
As these attacks are of a very serious nature, it behoves the government to devise some plan to avoid them altogether. The different provinces should, on such occasions, forget their petty jealousies, and join hand to drive these barbarians far to the southward, and give them a distaste for again approaching the boundaries of the Europeans.
It is much to be regretted, that the feelings which exist between the various provinces of the river Plate, all speaking the same language, and all struggling in the same sacred cause of liberty, should be of a nature so acrid and violent. In 1816, they were forced to unite under the directorship of Pueyrredon; but the union was never cordial, and only lasted for three years. Every province boasted a few men something cleverer than the rest, who pointed out the overweening influence of the port, (Buenos Ayres) and the necessity which existed of no longer looking to her as a head, and thereby increasing the natural arrogance of her disposition. Several of them marched in a body against her, and she was forced to come into their terms; and it may be said, that to the animosities which broke out between two of the coalesced parties, she was mainly indebted for her safety. Buenos Ayres has
been in closer connection with Chile than with any other state: the same feeling of animosity exists between them as with the other states; but the relative positions of each, and the mutual intercourse, tend to modify it. Buenos Ayres has some right to be looked upon with gratitude by Chile, which she may perhaps obtain; but, judging from other countries, that circumstance is little likely to lessen the animosity which exists between the inhabitants of the two shores. To minds who are new in the science of government, who hare been hitherto in the leading-strings of one of the most backward of European states, no stories are ridiculous enough to be rejected. In Chile, it was asserted and believed, that Buenos Ayres entertained views of sovereignty over the country. In Cordova and Tucuman, it was reported that Buenos Ayres intended that they should be always under her controul; and it may be believed, that there was no want of orators to enforce the justice of these suspicions. Of late, the only alliance which has been signed among the provinces is that between the states of Santa Fé, Entre Rios, Corrientes and Buenos Ayres. The treaty was signed on the 8th February, 1822, and is offensive and defensive. These alliances, however, are not of the firmest
nature, for it cannot be denied that a want of principle has generally prevailed among the leading men of most of the provinces, which has tended to sink them considerably in the estimation of foreigners and of all those of proper feeling with whom they have been thrown in contact.
Since the period of the occupation of Montevideo and the Banda Oriental by the Portuguese, the semblance of friendship has been maintained between the two people, but it scarcely amounts to more, for the latter are well aware of the feelings which exist upon this subject in Buenos Ayres. An agent has always resided in Rio de Janeiro, and latterly some diplomatic establishment has been maintained by the Brazilians in Buenos Ayres. In July, 1821, the court of Rio de Janeiro thought proper to recognize the state of Buenos Ayres; but as at the same period the incorporation of Montevideo and the Banda Oriental with the Brazil empire took place, the act was considered as emanating rather from a desire to stifle the complaints of the Buenos Ayrians, than from any feeling of favour or liberality towards them. The proximity of a neighbour so powerful as Brazil, holding in fact the very key to their
province, and the circumstances under which the occupation took place, have always excited the strongest feelings of animosity against the Brazilians. While the interior provinces laid the blame without discrimination on Buenos Ayres, this latter state attributed all their dissensions and bad successes to the proximity of the Portuguese and the gold of the Baron de Laguna. All the provinces, and more particularly those near the Paraná and Uruguay, enter strongly into these feelings; and Brazil must either keep a large army in the country, or consent to the evacuation. That incursions will be made into her ancient territory for some time after that event, there can be no doubt, for anarchy will prevail again for a time; but it seems to me that it must take place, for to maintain herself in this position will cost more perhaps than it is worth. In September of last year the most enthusiastic expressions proceeded from the provinces of Buenos Ayres, Santa Fé, and Entre Rios, in favour of some struggles for freedom made by the Orientales against their oppressors; and if tranquillity only exist for a short time a coalition will assuredly take place, and an attempt be made to expel them. Previous, however, to this revolt,
Gomez, who was so long agent in Paris, was sent on a mission to obtain the evacuation of this country.
The recognition of Buenos Ayres by the government of the United States of North America was viewed in a very different manner, and was received with considerable enthusiasm. The intercourse of these states is on a very limited scale, as their natural product are very much of the same nature: some few articles of salt fish, and a little lumber, may be said to comprise all the articles taken there; and as there is great difficulty in making up an outward cargo for the Rio de la Plata, it is impossible for the North Americans to compete with the British in the carrying trade. No treaty of commerce has been entered into between the two states, Buenos Ayres having declared that no advantages would be given to one nation over another, although a recognition might first take place on the part of such nation.
By a decree which proceeded from the late Spanish Cortes in June, 1822, the government was authorised to send out commissioners to the various colonies of South America, to endeavour to settle matters and arrange the disputes in the best manner under the existing
circumstances of each. When the accounts of this reviving liberality on the part of the mother country arrived in Buenos Ayres, the Chamber of Representatives authorised the executive to enter into a negociation for the cessation of the war in Peru, and made a grant of 30,000 dollars to carry the plan into effect. The other provinces were invited to become parties to this measure.
The commissioners of his Catholic Majesty arrived in Buenos Ayres on the 30th April, 1823, but on examination of their powers by the government, they did not appear of that nature which would warrant any convention being concluded on the principle previously laid down by the Chamber of Representatives, namely, the cessation of the war in all the provinces, and the recognition of independence. In the month of June the conferences between the Spanish Commissioners and the Secretary of State were frequent, and on the 4th July a preliminary treaty was signed, by which a recognition took place; hostilities were to be suspended, and the former mother country was to receive twenty millions of dollars to assist her in the struggle for independence with France. Buenos Ayres further undertook to obtain the sanction of the other states to this
convention. This act was subsequently approved of by the Chamber, and an agent was dispatched to the various provinces to obtain their consent to the measure. Tucuman, and the other provinces more in contact with Peru, and whose traffic in mules depended entirely on the tranquillity of that country, readily ratified the convention; but Chile and some of the other states conceived that any cessation of hostilities, when the tide was so much in favour of the South Americans, would be the height of folly. The subsequent events that have occurred in Spain, and the entire annihilation of the body which felt liberally inclined towards the Americana, have however set the question at rest for ever.
In giving an account of the revolutions which have occurred in this country, I shall pass over many of those events which, in Europe, and at this lapse of time, would cease to excite interest. In all early struggles for liberty many circumstances necessarily occur which ought never to be recorded. The feelings of both parties are excited in an extraordinary degree, and their actions should not be tried by the ordinary tribunals of public opinion.
At the period of the first British invasion, in 1806, Spain no where possessed more loyal
subjects than on the banks of the Rio de la Plata. Some more liberal feelings had been manifested towards Buenos Ayres than towards the other provinces. It had not very long before been formed into a viceroyalty: orders had been issued to establish an university; the intercourse with the mother country was promoted by regular packets; and a literary gazette was permitted to be printed. Unlike Mexico and Peru, no revolutionary feelings had been manifested in the country, and the people, dwelling in equally and equally rich, seemed absorbed in the care of their numerous herds. The invasion of the British taught the people that they were capable of repelling an enemy and maintaining their independence, even when attacked by the most powerful country of Europe. Sobremonte was at this period the Viceroy, but flying to the interior provinces, Liniers, a Frenchman in the naval service of Spain, started forward and drove the invaders from the shores. The people, disgusted with the conduct of the Viceroy, named Liniers to that high dignity, but made too many exertions to obtain the sanction of the Spanish court to be successful in the application. He was covered with honours, but a new viceroy arrived from Spain.
Had the spirit of rebellion or perfidy existed in the country, no opportunity could have been more favourable for throwing off the yoke; Spain could offer no resistance, her own situation demanded all her care; and the British, hovering about the coast, were using their endeavours to excite feelings of disgust at the state of tutelage, and offering assistance to free her from the yoke. Buenos Ayres, however, allowed the moment to pass, and endeavoured, by every means in her power, to deserve the thanks of the mother country, and obtain the character of being her most faithful dependent.
The situation of the mother country now became critical in the extreme; Ferdinand VII., by means of doubtful character, had taken the sceptre from his father; the French every where overran the country, which formed so many petty Juntas, who sent in turn their several mandates to the new world, and demanded obedience to their resolves. As far as it was possible, it appears that the provinces of the Rio de la Plata conformed to their dictates, and sent money and supplies of various kinds to repel the attempts of the French; a nation peculiarly offensive to them. In spite of circumstances, the French power was at its height, and the country apparently in the power of Buonaparte;
he turned his attention to the colonies, and by choosing proper agents, endeavoured to bring them to his interests. In no instance were they successful. Under these circumstances, the people of Buenos Ayres determined on taking the government into their own hands; and, appointing a Junta of nine persons, deposed the viceroy, and sent him with some others to the Canary Islands. From this event, which took place on the 25th May, 1810, the independence of the state must be dated, as well as the civil wars which have almost to this hour continued to agitate it. Montevideo, and the provinces of Cordova and Paraguay, possessing different interests to the chief city, endeavoured to crush the revolutionary movement in its infancy, but were carried along with the stream. There Were no Spanish troops in the provinces to unite the forces of the country, and the spirit of provincialism appeared on every occasion. The Junta was provisional, and presented the extraordinary anomaly of making war on the Spanish forces in Upper Peru, and in the Banda Oriental, in the name of the King of Spain. For some time, affaire went on in this way, the arms of the republic being, in almost all instances, favourable to the cause of independence. Early in 1813, the district of Potosi fell into the pa-
triot hands, who instantly coined money, raised a national flag, and performed other acts of an independent state. In 1814, Ferdinand was again placed on his throne by British valour; but like all Spaniards, power could not with safety be confided to his care. Instead of endeavouring to settle the differences between the colonies and the mother country, by giving certain privileges to the Creoles, and removing the restrictions on their trade, he thundered out his proclamations, and determined to bring again under the Spanish yoke a country, which had been de facto independent four years before.
The Creoles in this part of the world were then far from inimical to the mother country. The Spanish nation was not in a happier state than themselves: they were not worse treated than the more immediate dependents of the nation, and the degree of information in both was nearly on a par. With these feelings, a deputy left the Rio de la Plata to represent the state of the country at Madrid, to submit a statement of the wants of the people at the foot of the newly restored throne, and to obtain, with a general amnesty for the past, that a new system should be adopted for the future. The representations made on this occasion were treated with contempt, and every mode put in force to
VOL. I. Q
restore the old system to its former station. There can be no doubt that if the Spaniards had wisely considered their own power and that of their ci-devant provinces, they would have devised some plan by which all the wealth of their portion of the new world might have passed through the old stock; but they allowed this period to pass away, when for the last time the new countries offered to look to Spain as a head, if fair and reasonable concessions were made to them.
During the directorship of Posadas, in 1814, Artigas, who had held a subaltern situation in the Spanish army, and who had considerable influence and command in the country to the east of the Uruguay, disturbed the friendship that had hitherto subsisted betwen the two provinces. His character, as a real friend to his country, stands on very suspicious foundation, and his conduct on several occasions was so contradictory, that it was scarcely possible to divine his intentions. He flourished on the theatre for some time, but from sudden disgust retired from the siege of Montevideo, which shortly afterwards, in spite of this desertion, fell into the hands of the patriots. It was the last stronghold of the Spaniards. The two years which followed this event were filled up with
successes against the Spaniards, and the most dreadful scenes of anarchy in all the provinces. Tired with this state of affaire, the various provinces desired a confederation which should be sufficiently powerful to repress the spirit which was abroad, and, in 1816, a sovereign congress met in Tucuman, and D. Juan Martin Pueyrredon was named Director of the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata. On the 6th October of the same year, the solemn declaration of independence took place, and it was hoped that the civil war which still raged between the eastern provinces would have been arrested by a measure so much calculated to draw forth the patriotic feelings of all. While such was the state of affaire in the east, the forces of the Viceroy of Peru were beaten in the west, and the town of Jugui precipitately abandoned.
While the cause of independence advanced so rapidly in spite of the ebullitions of insubordination in the different capitals, another nation of Europe, among the lowest in the political scale, marched an army into the Banda Oriental, and took possession of the most valuable part of the country. On the first intelligence of this project, the supreme director remonstrated with Lecor, the Portuguese general, and at the same time formed an union with
of the Portuguese. But Artigas still remained deaf to this plan, and used his influence, which was considerable, to avoid any acknowledgement of the superiority of the other state. Anarchy now sprang up among the chiefs of the Banda Oriental, and the Portuguese had time to organise their plans and complete their conquest of the country.
At this period D. José de San Martin first rose in the political horizon. He was governor of Mendoza, and while there meditated the plan of proceeding across the Andes and effecting the re-conquest of Chile. The Mendozinos, who, from the first, have been most forward in the cause of freedom, put every facility in their power at his disposal; and in thirteen days he crossed the great chain of the Andes and conquered at Chacabuco. When the rugged and dangerous nature of the passes are considered, the difficulty of transporting artillery and baggage, and the severe nature of the cold in the higher parts, this enterprize will rank with any of which we have record in history. The passage was accomplished with the loss of five thousand horses and mules, and a few blacks who could not support the severity of the weather.
In 1818, the director sent forces into the Entre Rios to support the people who had acknowledged the supremacy of Buenos Ayres. They were attacked and twice beaten, and Pueyrredon was charged with conniving at the supplies sent to the Portuguese, and of being devoted to their interests.
General San Martin, in this year, sealed with the blood of the Spaniards, on the plains of Maypo, the independence of the provinces of the Rio de la Plata. Still these successes had little effect in stilling the animosities of the provinces more immediately in contact with Buenos Ayres. Artigas, hard pressed by the Portuguese, escaped across the river to Paraguay, where he was taken charge of by the dictator Francia. In November, 1819, this ill-assorted union of the provinces was terminated by the flight of Pueyrredon to Montevideo. Although General Rondeau succeeded him as director, it was merely ad interim, and he may be considered as the last who bore that title. Pueyrredon was a man of gentlemanly manners, but considered lax in his principles, and had further the character of entering largely into the French interests. To complete his downfall in the estimation of the people, a ridiculous plan, carried on under his
auspices, for placing the young prince of Lucca on the throne of Buenos Ayres, was made public.
In March, 1820, Ramirez, the chief of the Entre Rios, with Lopez, the governor of Santa Fé, marched against Buenos Ayres; and D. Manuel de Sarratea became governor. From that moment, the changes in the head of the province were almost weekly, and are detailed in the Appendix.* On the 6th October, however, D. Martin Rodriguez was finally confirmed governor, and remained in power at the date of the last advices.
Having brought down the political changes to the present day, it may not prove uninteresting to examine what are the prospects of the state, both separately, and as forming a part of the provinces of the Rio de la Plata.
Like many of the settlements in North America, a number of men came from some particular town or county of the parent state and took up their abode together; transporting at the same time, the provincialism which strongly existed at home to a soil where, from obvious causes, it flourished and increased rapidly. Paraguay, Cordova, and Buenos Ayres
* Appendix, No. 18.
were all peopled from different parts of Spain, and have not yet lost, in the name of Americans, the remembrance of those petty feelings which characterised them before their removal to the New World. Thus the groundwork was laid of those unhappy disturbances which have for so many years devastated this fine country. Called upon in no instance of late to unite their forces to repel their common enemy the Spaniards, the various provinces have permitted their own discords and passions to break out, and have been ruining each other when they ought to have been consolidating their power by the establishment of some firm and immutable system of government. That extraordinary jealousy, which we have just seen allowed the Portuguese to get possession of the eastern shore, and which, in fact, afforded them the only pretext to enter at all, is felt more or less by every province. Buenos Ayres, the capital, is always to blame: she ruins the commerce of all the states by her custom-house regulations: What right has she to put on any tax which shall indirectly affect other states? What right has she to place herself at the head, and consider herself superior to the rest? These expressions are in the mouths of all the interior cities. That Buenos
Ayres may have arrogated too much to herself on such occasions, it may be difficult to deny; but it is equally certain, that any advantages which have accrued to the states by their Liberation from the Spanish yoke, must also be in fairness attributed to her. The near approach of the Indians to Buenos Ayres, where, if successful, they would proceed to attack the other towns, has drawn forth few armies in her support. It is considered as a punishment due to the capital, as a circumstance likely to convince her of her own helpless situation when deserted by the rest, and one that she must overcome the best way she can. Lopez, the governor of Santa Fé, and the governor of Mendoza, are the only chiefs who have not followed this dangerous example. Nothing but the approach of a body of Spaniards, or, perhaps, a general attack on the Brazilian army in the Banda Oriental, would, for a time, smother the provincial, animosities which exist.
A general congress, which was appointed to take place at Cordova, will, it is thought, assemble at last; and, as soon as the Indians are driven back, Rivadavia, the secretary of state, is expected to proceed thither to take the president's chair. According to the decree of the 15th September, 1821, the number of deputies
from each province will be regulated by their respective populations. Dr. Gavaleta has gone also on a mission to induce the states to form a federal compact, but I think enough has been shewn to prove they can never form a well consolidated government, unless their peculiar feelings towards each other undergo very considerable modifications.
Departure from Buenos Ayres—Diary of the Journey across the Pampas on Horseback—Pass the Arroyo de en Medio into the Province of Santa Fé —Enter the province of Cordova—Fall in with the Indians—Escape from them—Pursued into the Sierra de Cordova—Arrive in safety at Estansuela—Punta de San Luiz—Salt Lake—First View of the Great Chain of the Andes—Arrival at Mendoza.
ON the 22d February, I commenced preparations for my journey across the continent. The reports of the unsettled state of the pampas, from the irruptions of the southern Indians, hurried my departure from Buenos Ayres; for any delay, I was fearful, would render the passage altogether impracticable. The more usual mode of performing this journey is on horseback, although carriages can proceed as far as Mendoza, at the foot of the Andes; yet, owing to the irregularity of the track, and the difficulty of passing the deep muddy streams (caádas), and the impossibility of making any repairs in case of accident, they are seldom used. When they are, the mode of attaching the horses is
extremely simple: a thong formed of hide, fixed to a ring at the back of the recado, or saddle, and fastened to the carriage, answers every purpose, and is replaced with facility in case of breakage. Few carriages arrive unbroken at Mendoza, from the rapidity of travelling, and from a feeling which seems to actuate the post-boys of all countries, that of driving fast where they ought to go slowly.
In periods of perfect tranquillity, large caravans of waggons loaded with yerba and manufactured goods, set out from Buenos Ayres for Mendoza. Their progress is necessarily slow; but no mode of travelling can be better suited for any person in pursuit of objects of natural history, for a large waggon can be secured at an easy rate, which would afford every convenience for the preparation of objects of research. By this plan, much danger is avoided, and provisions are obtained with certainty. Besides, a facility is thus offered of making excursions to the right and left, and procuring a greater variety of specimens.* It would be however scarcely prudent to venture out of sight of the caravan, for numerous marauders frequently hover about to gain what they can, without caring much
* A journey to Mendoza on this plan would not cost £15.
about the means. In crossing these plains, any shew of wealth, even of a few dollars, would be an act of great indiscretion.
I preferred the more usual mode of proceeding on horseback, chiefly from a hope that the exercise might prove serviceable to my health, which was not very strong at this period, and from a feeling of greater security from Indians; an escape from whom would thus be more easily accomplished than in a carriage.
A guide was soon engaged to conduct me into Chile for the sum of sixty dollars. He was tall, red faced, coarse in his manners, and had nothing prepossessing in his appearance. Of this he seemed himself perfectly aware; for when he came to be hired, he brought his daughter, a very nice looking person, to speak for him. He did not turn out exactly what I could have wished: he was called Sebastian Chiclana. There are several men residing in Buenos Ayres who make a living by acting as guides, and couriers across the pampas. They are answerable to a certain degree for the life of the traveller, and, in case of accident, would never again be employed.
I procured a Buenos Ayrean recado, or saddle, which forms in itself no indifferent bed. Several folds of coarse woollen cloths are first placed on
the horse, to prevent the perspiration, which, from the heat and irregularity of work, is excessive, from penetrating: over which is laid a piece of dressed leather variously ornamented, upon which the recado, or seat, is placed. This resembles an English butcher's saddle. A strong girth, with, two iron rings, secures all this on the horse's back: a sheepskin dyed blue (pillion), and a piece of white leather (cuercito), secured by another girth (sobre cincha), complete the saddle. The stirrups are email, and hung low. The bridle is very different from those in use in England: a large ring is attached to the centre of the bit, and being acted on by the lever principle, is extremely powerful. The reins are of twisted bide, with a whip attached. No other bridle would be sufficiently strong to restrain horses scarcely, if at all, broken in. The moment they feel the weight of the rider, they set off in a hand gallop. This pace and the walk are all they appear acquainted with. Shoes they have none; for the nature of the soil is such, that they do not require them, and the expense of them would be equal to the value of two horses.
I limited my personal conveniences to one portmanteau and a mattress. The alforges,
or saddle bags, were fitted with an abundance of yerba, Chinese tea, a little sugar, and some biscuits. A very large parcel of segars was put in for the demands of the guide, Chiclana, and the postboys. A pair of chifles, or large horns, full of brandy, which my guide soon informed me were excessively leaky, were added to the rest. I was very glad when they were emptied, for as long as the brandy lasted, Chiclana was constantly stupid; and he subsequently admitted that such a trust was far beyond his powers. In different parts of the journey, these horns were found exceedingly useful for carrying water.
My dress was that of the country; a Cordovese poncho, woollen boots, large spurs and straw hat. An English carving knife in my boot, and a brace of pistols on my saddle bow, completed my appearance.
The journey across the plains to Mendoza, was, until of late years, attended with little risk. But the unsettled state of the country giving fresh energy to the native tribes, who were previously in tolerable subjection to the Spaniards, has been the chief cause of these hordes advancing to the north, and interrupting the communication with the western coast. Formerly the track across the country was in-
habited by reputable persons, who furnished horses to passengers, and in some spots small forts were erected to restrain the attacks of the Indians. But at present the post-house is nothing but a wretched mud hut, and the owner in most cases in an abject state of poverty.
The direction of the track is not due west from Buenos Ayres, as some travellers have imagined, but north west for a hundred and fifty leagues, when it turns to the southward of west.
The journey is uninteresting, being over a continued plain with little wood or water, and with no boundary but the horizon; so that, making an allowance for refraction in the usual way, a sextant would give the latitude with accuracy.
I shall give a copy of my notes, made at the moment, first, from a slight hope that the general reader may not find them quite devoid of interest, and from a certainty, that to the traveller on the point of making this journey, they will prove of considerable use.
On the morning of the 24th February, a passport and a post-horse order having been procured, two riding horses and one for baggage were ordered. A post-boy also accompanied
us, whose business it was to urge on the baggage horse, and return with the horses at the end of the stage. His horse is also paid for. The charge is half a real per horse per league; but for drawing horses, and at leaving a town, the charge is doubled. The length of the league is about three and a half English miles, but in the province of Santa Fé they are considerably longer. These preceding remarks are necessary to make the notes intelligible.
On the 24th February we left at seven o'clock in the morning. The distance from Buenos Ayres to La Puente de Marquez is seven leagues, and a double post being charged, it amounted to three and a half dollars. At this last spot there is a wretched hovel, and the people were uncivil. On first leaving Buenos Ayres the road was very bad and full of sloughs (pantanos), Chiclana, the guide, lost his blunderbuss; we afterwards got on the plain, saw farms in the distance, and inclosed places where horses are flogged round to tread out the corn. At first nothing but parched herbage; but in the latter part of this post very high thistles, cardoons, with purple flowers, began to prevail, and great numbers of birds were seen running across the track, in particular a kind of heron. The cattle,
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of which there were man; all fat, although the herbage appeared so indifferent. We passed a small town on the left called Caáda de Moron.
caáda de Escovar, seven leagues. The road much as before, with more cattie and, horses; the thistles a good deal trodden down: we met few persons;—many biscacho holes (lepus biscachia), an animal larger than, but not much unlike, a rabbit. The man of this post station was very civil; the house wretched, formed of mud, and full of holes in the roof, bottom, and sides;—millions of fleas:—we slept here.
25th February.—We set off early for caáda de Rocha, five leagues. The road as before. We passed three hombues; these trees are common round Buenos Ayres, but extend little into the interior. We saw a flock of sheep, and passed over several sluggish muddy rivulets. Two leagues from caáda de Escovar we entered the town of Lujan, a neatly built little place, with a pretty cabildo or town-hall, and a church famous for its miracles. Passports and trunks are examined here. After passing much swampy ground we arrived at caáda de Rocha: lain came on, and continued with thunder and lightning until eight o'clock at night; the whole
party began to feel the effects of the violent exercise. We passed the night here:—there were fewer fleas, and the people obliging.
26th February, Monday morning.—We rose at two o'clock, and started at four o'clock. The road much as before;—not a bush to be seen: the ground was very wet and the caádas much swollen by the rain of the day before. We travelled five leagues to caáda de la Cruz; the people civil, and the house in better condition. To Arico six leagues;—many more birds;—thistles were trodden down as heretofore:—we saw a few willows, and a plant called by the postilion yerba de la perdriz; but the woman of the post-house said he was mistaken:—the house wretched—many children, and one good-looking woman;—people poor, and very civil—the water bad. On this spot the teeth of the megatherium were lately discovered. To Chacaras de Ayala five leagues. We passed at the end of two leagues the river of the same name, previous to and after which we encountered much low swampy ground;—saw some partridges: for a considerable distance the thistles and herbage were burnt;—we saw some hogs near the post-house of Chacaras de Ayala. This is a better station;—every thing seems to improve as we leave Buenos Ayres;
women very civil, and begged for yerba. We were detained here, as well as at the three preceding stations, waiting for horses, for the great rains of the day before had prevented their being driven in. Close to every post-house there is an inclosed space (corral), into which the whole herd of harses is driven, when those required are caught by the rope (lasso). To Arecife seven leagues. The track led us over more fertile ground than we before met with. Some mallows; some flowers like lupines; a species of gourd; a plant similar to crested dog's tail grass, and others, apparently of English type; were remarked by me. We crossed several considerable ravines, and then forded the river Arecife up to the Deck of the horse, and got consequently very wet. We arrived at Arecife at a quarter before seven o'clock, where I remained for the night, having completed since the morning twenty-three leagues. I now felt the fatigues of riding in acute pains across the shoulders and in the legs, and could scarcely sit upright. The heat in the early part of each day since leaving Buenos Ayres was oppressive; but towards the afternoon the wind got up a little, but always in our backs. The soil was light brown. At Arecife the accommodation much as before—two ox-hide bedsteads in a
mud hut—a great abundance of fleas inside and all round the huts.
27th Feb.—To Fortezuelas eight leagues. The first rock exhibited itself, a porous brown stalactiform limestone. I put some specimens into the alforges. After leaving Arecife there was considerable descent: we came on some more stone where the strata were perfectly horizontal;—passed a number of caádas. To the town of Arecife two leagues, a small place, where we obtained some fresh bread and brandy. After leaving this a dreadful storm of thunder and lightning came on; we were soon drenched, but again dry before reaching Fortezuelas: this post-house not bad, and the post-master very civil. We were detained again by a storm of thunder and lightning. We met here the land-lady of the next post. To the caáda de Gomez four leagues;—road swampy: — we were overtaken by a third thunderstorm. These storms are very partial, and either by riding on, or by remaining behind, they may frequently be avoided. The post of Gomez was one of the best on the route, but it has suffered much during the late disturbances. The post-mistress had perfectly white hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes, a singular circumstance in these countries: she was a widow about thirty-five. To
Arroyo de en Medio seven long leagues. Road as before, with more herbage and more cows and horses:—numerous birds appeared to be but little alarmed by our approach; some like large cocks feeding on dead carcasses, of which there were plenty all the way from Buenos Ayres. Passed a stream with a hard bottom, and afterwards the Arroyo de en Medio into the province of Santa Fé;—road very uneven-We arrived at Arroyo de en Medio;—the people industrious;—the accommodation bad;—two remarkably pretty children, like all seen on the road,—the food of the children is milk and beef,—they are quite unacquainted with the taste of bread,—as they get older they become plain, and the length of their hair, on which they pride themselves, does not improve their appearance. On first quitting Buenos Ayres I had endeavoured to live entirely on milk, but after two or three days I found it ill adapted to the violence of the exercise I was taking, and I changed my diet to beef broiled over a fire made in most instances of thistles, wood being excessively scarce. To Arroyo de Pavon eight leagues, over the same ground as before. We forded several streams;—postboy lost the track; I did not like this, and began to be suspicious; the night came on perfectly
clear, lightning in the horizon;—the biscackos were prowling about and making a singular noise,—many night birds, and in the swampy places many fireflies. In avoiding an immense slough lost the track a second time, and had much difficulty in finding it again. We came to some huts where the postboy wished me to alight, but I very civilly found an excuse for not doing it;—Chiclana sat talking and smoking quite at his ease;—very much detained on this post, only arriving at Arroyo de Pavon at half-past nine o'clock, very much fatigued, for at last my horse was quite tired, and kept tumbling into the biscacho holes, which it was impossible to avoid in the darkness of the night: I determined not to be out again after dark, as it is running a dreadful risk. In this hut there was nothing to eat, and the water scarcely drinkable; I put down the mattress, and went to sleep, but soon was awakened by the most awful storm ever witnessed, which lasted eight hours, with torrents of rain and wind; the lightning was continuous, and the hut being the most elevated object around about, appeared to attract it completely, for it remained perfectly stationary; fortunately the roof was free from holes, the first found so since leaving Buenos Ayres. The general custom is to barricado the
door of the post room, generally detached from the house, and it is no doubt a very proper precaution.
28th February.—I rose at seven o'clock, but was forced to remain until eleven o'clock, on account of the swollen state of the river; fortunately, we obtained some milk for breakfast, and afterwards a little broiled beef (asado) and broth. This post is not bad to sleep at; many mosquitoes, but fewer fleas. The dress of all the postilions consists of drawers, and a kind of horsecloth wrapped round them, small round black hats with a handkarchief failing down from under them behind;—we left it at twelve o'clock for Arroyo del Sauce, five long; leagues; the road was swampy, and my horse having a bad pace, I made Don Sebastian Chiclana change with me. A hand gallop is the common pace one travels at; we crossed the Rio de Pavon, and another branch of it,—afterwards the. Arroyo de Sauce, which is pretty deep, with some appearance of pebbles. These sluggish streams all find their way into the Paraná in wet seasons: at other times they evaporate away. We arrived, at half-past one o'clock, at Arroyo del Sauce: my guide complained sadly of the horse I had given him, saying that he had pains in his back, and that for two years he had not
mounted such a beast. In consideration of this he was pardoned for his bad management of the preceding night in keeping me out so late, gossiping with every one, and smoking and taking so much yerba. The post-house of Arroyo del Sauce was very bad; woman begged for matte as usual, in return she gave me a number of peaches; she did not know the name of the next post to her, nor whether the Indians had been near or not. Every one is fond of answering in this country, Quien sabe, pleading ignorance to the simplest questions. The thistles, which had been disappearing for the last three posts, totally gone at last, after having traversed at least twenty leagues of them. The last two stations were surrounded with groves of peach trees, which thrive rapidly. To Manantiales, or Orcheta, five leagues,—not such low ground as before; passed over one or two little streams, and then arrived at the Rio de Saladillo de Manantiales, which we forded breast high. About a league farther we met a convoy of waggons from San Juan, with wines, &c.; they were drawn by six oxen each, and hid fire wood on the tops; each waggon had a spare pair of wheels, which they sell to advantage in Buenos Ayres. They accomplish about eight leagues a day, according to the state of the
roads. Arrived at Manantiales, five short leagues, formed of two or three mud huts like the last of the stations; water very good,—it is procured in this way: a small hole is made in the banks of the ravines, or rivulets, which fills with clear cold water, which is instantly taken out, for in a few minutes it becomes salt; a fresh hole must be made every time;—soil a reddish marl. To Candelaria four leagues;—roads much as before;—some estancias, or grazing farms, seen in the distance. We met a traveller, and more persons than usual;—rode closer together;—crossed the Arroyo de Candelaria, and came to the post-house; the room appropriated to travellers was quite destroyed; we got into the house about seven o'clock, and determined to stay the night. Shortly after my arrival, a man came into the house on horseback, playing the guitar, and singing an anthem before a figure of our Lady of Candelaria, which happened to be in the room; he then turned to me and sang a long song in my praise, my guide haring previously given my name. Woman very civil; the family consisted of three men, their wives and children; the men were free, jokers and drinkers. At eight o'clock laid down on my recado, but on account of two children near me, who never ceased crying,
fleas more than usual, and an abundance of mosquitoes, I slept but little. At two o'clock on the lat March I commenced my preparations for a speedy departure. I may remark here, that the men for the last eight or ten posts universally wore the hair long, never cut in all probability from their infancy; they do nothing but look after the cattle, the poor females per-forming all the drudgery, and waiting upon them with the greatest humility. The oldest woman generally puts the yerba into the gourd and proves its goodness before it is handed about: being the stranger, and usually the furnisher of the tea, I had always to suck the tube after her, an honour which would have been readily relinquished on every occasion. The patrona of this post was a superior woman, having been brought up in the city of Santa Fé, a hundred and fifty leagues distant; she had three children, which seemed the usual extent of family,—I had never met more; the mode of life nothing but drudgery, and the custom of suckling children for three or four years may account for this. We were much detained as usual for the horses, which were far distant from the house. I cannot recommend travellers to pass the night at this place, for the post-master drinks hard,
and will then commit any crime. Soon after my arrival he vainly endeavoured to find out what silver was in the portmanteau, and declared from its great weight that there must be a great quantity; if it were heavy it was owing to the specimens of rocks I had put into it. This rendered me suspicious, and instead of opening my mattress I laid down on my recado and portmanteau, and contrived to sleep with my pistols in my hands; when I shut my eyes four fellows were playing at cards and drinking brandy; the master then endeavoured to persuade my guide to consent to my being murdered, divide the cash, and go to Santa Fé or Corrientes, adding, that it would be months before the business would be discovered, and that justice could never reach them: all true enough in these places so far removed from the seat of an unsettled government. Chiclana reasoned him out of this fine scheme, and making him drink on, got him to lie down, intoxicated, and then crawled near me to prevent any attack. In the morning he told me not to believe any ting my guide might say, and begged me to send him a segar case from Chile. When I returned back near this place I learnt that this man had been murdered himself, but a short
time after he wished to commit that crime on me. My guide was very much to blame in allowing me to sleep at this place.
1st March.—We left at a quarter past seven o'clock for Desmochados, six short leagues; the road was as level as a bowling-green,—fewer sloughs; I remarked some flowers like yellow crocusses; and one guanaco galloped across the track;—arrived at Desmochados five minutes past nine o'clock,—consisted of a few mud huts,—not a bad place, I should imagine, to sleep at; the furniture, if it deserved the name, of all the houses I had entered, consisted of two or three hides stretched on four posts for beds, which served also for tables, two or three stools, or, what was more usual, seats formed of the skulls of oxen. I now began to enter on the ground lately overrun by the Indians; this station was surrounded by a double staked fence and ditch, and a very strong hedge of prickly pear. We left at ten o'clock for Arequito, four leagues, and long ones;—the same kind of track,—more estancias visible;—detained a considerable time at Arequito for want of horses;—we proceeded on to the Esquina de la Guardia, four leagues, and crossed the river of the same name. There was formerly a small fort here, being the boundary between
the provinces of Santa Fé and Cordova;—over much the same ground to the Saladillo or small salt stream of La Cruz Alta, where salt was lying in a state of efflorescence on the ground; the post-house one of many mud huts thereabouts;—we arrived at La Cruz Alta. At this place the Viceroy Liniers was interred after his execution at the Cabeza del Tigre, the spot is now scarcely known, in the cemetery round a small chapel, the first I had seen since leaving Lujan near Buenos Ayres. Some timber of large size, and hedges of the prickly pear of luxuriant growth abundant here. To La Cabeza del Tigre, four leagues;—we lost the track in the darkness of the evening, and arrived at a quarter before nine o'clock at one of the best post-houses on the road; for there were no fleas, and the woman extremely civil. Plenty of prickly pears bearing a large white flower, they stood ten or twelve feet from the ground;—some shrubs surrounded the hut appropriated to travellers,—some brushwood near, and the water very good. For the last three days I found gourds much used as an article of food, and they were most acceptable to me, who had not yet become reconciled to subsisting entirely on meat. The charges made at the different places where I bad passed the night were very
trifling, and a handful of yerba to the woman was a more than adequate remuneration in their estimation, and always obtained from them the best they had of every thing.
2d March.—Left for Lobaton, five leagues: saw in the village two tame cassowaries. We kept on the banks of the Rio Terçero. Thousands of large moths flew out of the graas, quite darkening the ground. About two leagues off we saw the spot where Liniers was shot. It needs only be mentioned, with respect to him, that at the commencement of the revolution, having, in conjunction with the authorities of Cordova, declared Buenos Ayres to be in a state of rebellion, he was on this condemned to death. Being conducted as far on the road to Buenos Ayres as this spot, the carriage suddenly stopt; he was desired to walk on one side and was instantly shot. Thus fell Liniers, undoubtedly one of the most honourable men of the country; and who, if he could have forgotten his allegiance to Spain, and the title and pension he had just received from that court, would have proved of the utmost assistance to his country. His military talents were of no mean order, and were shewn in the last unfortunate expedition of the English against Buenos Ayres. On the arrival of
that armament, he was a simple captain in the navy; and on the flight of the Viceroy Sobremonte to Cordova, where, according to the historian Funes, he commanded a Te Deum to be performed on his entrance, he took the command. After the capitulation of the English army, he was proclaimed Viceroy by the authorities, until a regular patent should arrive from Madrid. The Spanish court, actuated partly by intrigues and partly on the consideration that Liniers was a foreigner, and connected with some of the first families of Buenos Ayres, did not confirm this appointment, but named Cisneros to the Viceroyalty. Liniers gave up the command and retired to Cordova. He had previously the title of Count of Buenos Ayres conferred on him, with a pension of 100,000 reals out of the revenues of the city. The troops were attached to him, and this fact precipitated his fate. The Dean Funes, in his excellent history, says, he was "de una presencia llena de gentileza, de un ayre noble y de un porte voluptuoso." We arrived at Lobaton, a single hut, where we did not change horses, but rode on to the post of Saladillo, nine leagues after passing a salt river which runs into the Terçero, itself salt in dry seasons; met a Franciscan monk here, on his journey from Cordova to
Buenos Ayres: had much conversation with him. He was an old man, and seemed to regret the revolutionary changes that had occurred in the country. He concluded his remarks with a no hay remedio, (there is no help for it,) a philosophic expression constantly in the mouths of the Spanish South Americans. To Barancas, four leagues. The plain becoming more covered with low shrubs, from one of which, called hume, a small quantity of alcali is obtained. Barancas consisted of several huts. The woman of the post-house was very civil: a great deal of brushwood about. Saw another guanaco, and some dogs without hair, which appear not uncommon here. The women, like those of the two last posts, were engaged in spinning. Since I had entered the province of Cordova there was evidently more industry, and a general improvement in the appearance of the villages. Set out for Zangon, four leagues;—the road much as before. We left Zangon for Frayle Muerto, four leagues;—track along the bank of the Rio Terçero;—shrubs becoming thicker, and we even passed some little woods of mimosa. Frayle Muerto is a small village of about sixty mud cottages. We determined to pass the night here, in order that some repairs might be made to my saddle, and
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to the portmanteau, which had severely suffered from the rapidity of the journey. I obtained some bread and brandy here, and found the postmaster very civil. Water not good.
3d March.—We left at four o'clock in the morning for Tres Cruces and the Esquina de Medrano, eight leagues. The road on the bank of the Rio Terçero, the course of which was well defined by a row of trees. We passed several farm-houses with trees about them. If there were only a greater abundance of water, this country would not want wood. Saw many vultures as large as fowls. The same shrubs as the preceding day: a pale yellow wall-flower, and some grass resembling cat's tail. People civil and a house for the post. To Arroyo de San José eight leagues. We kept for a considerable distance on the banks of the Terçero, and through thickets of low prickly mimosas: high grass and scarcely any track. The route to Cordova turns off to the right and proceeds north; while that to Mendoza keeps west. We met the courier Gamez going to Buenos Ayres, ten days from St. Jago. These couriers travel at a great rate, often performing fifty leagues per day for several days together. They pay half the usual rare for horses, and must be supplied directly. If they have a bad one given to
them, they have the privilege of cutting his throat on the spot, which is often done. The courier informed us that the Indians were out, but that he thought with despatch we might pass to the north of them: at any rate we ought to use every precaution. These eight leagues were long ones; and, in order to avoid a thunder storm, I galloped as hard as possible, and arrived, at quarter past twelve, very unwell, and obliged to remain for three hours. To caáda de Lucas five leagues:—arrived at half-past five:—went to my mattress directly, not at all well. A dreadful night of thunder and lightning.
4th March.—Much better. The people of the house very honest and industrious—making blankets and soap: getting the alcali from a plant which grows in abundance thereabouts, called quinoa or quimoa, and sometimes ataco: it bears a yellow flower. It is burnt green, and the produce is considerable. To Punta del Agua six leagues, but more than eight according to my guide; we crossed the caáda over much low ground, and through woods of mimosas of poor growth:—met a troop of mules laden with wine, from San Juan, going to Buenos Ayres: learnt that the Indians were some distance to the southward:—through
thickets where there were many flowers, some of which gave out a most delightful smell. Arrived much better at Punta del Agua:—the first good water we had met with for three days. Man particularly civil:—sat down at table with him and his family and ate some caldo and asado. Determined to change my system of living, and to eat in the day as well as at night. The yerba I found extremely refreshing, and I took as much of it as my guide. A small church here but no incumbent. We left for Santa Barbara, twelve leagues. The track led through a park, the greatest part of the way being prettily clumped with trees, and the ground more irregular than any before passed over;—the setting sun exposed to view the Sierra de Cordova,—a most agreeable change to the hitherto unvaried level: we were yet far from our destination. Night set in; but, fortunately, the lightning shewed us the road; and at half past nine o'clock we arrived very much fatigued, for my horse was completely knocked up, and that of Chiclana had fallen and hurt his back. We found the people of Santa Barbara much alarmed by the near approach of the Indians, who were within fourteen leagues on the Rio Quarto. We had scarcely arrived before another dreadful storm set in and lasted all night.
This station consisted of a dozen huts: the people civil:—the water bad. Peach trees were planted round all the last stations; they appeared to thrive better than any other tree. We generally made out the station when seven miles off by a dark spot in the horizon. It is the hard peach, but still very acceptable from the great want of water and almost intolerable heat. The horses given me were generally good; a little yerba, and a few caresses bestowed on the children, procured me the quietest of the herd. Frequently, however, they bolted to the right and left to join other horses, and it required all my strength to bring them back.
5th March.—In spite of my utmost endeavours to get away early, it was seven o'clock before we were mounted. To Barancas six leagues. We came to the Arroyo of Santa Barbara, a small stream running from the mountains of Cordova on our right:—debris of primitive rocks were in it; it flows at the bottom of a great ravine caused by the rains of other seasons. The same soil and products. Barancas consists of a few mud huts. To Tambo six leagues, short ones. A fine country, abounding in stinted mimosas, like gooseberry bushes, with less herbage. We met a troop of
mules from Mendoza with wine. They travel ten or twelve leagues each day, and at night the load of each mule, with its packsaddle placed separately, is arranged in a circle, within which the drivers make their fire and sleep. The patron was in great haste, driving as fast as possible, owing to the reports of the Indians having made an excursion to the north. But he knew nothing of their position, and thought we should reach the Punta of San Luiz (a place of comparative safety) the next day. In these plains, where a gallop is the only pace, it is quite impossible to say where the Indians are or where they are not. They may be in one place to day and a 150 miles off to-morrow. I was reassured, however, by meeting the troop. We descended to the Rio Quarto, a small stream in this place running south from the Sierra de Cordova, which we had been approaching all the morning. In the wet season, this river, which is ultimately lost in a lake, must be considerable. There was a large proportion of mica in the sand, and other products of a primitive country. Immediately after crossing the river, we arrived at the post-house of Tambo—two small huts. The information procured here was not very satisfactory. Carrera, a disappointed Chilian chief, had collected
together a number of the southern Indians, under the pretext of attacking Chile, but really to plunder as much as possible; and we learnt that a band of them were within fourteen leagues to the southward; still we thought that with great despatch we should pass to the north before they could get up. There was a beautiful thicket of beach trees at this station. Left at two o'clock for Aguadita, four leagues. We made all the despatch possible; for the best that could be hoped for from the Indians was, to be stripped of every thing and sent a prisoner to the southward, where escape would be impossible. We arrived at half-past three o'clock; found the house left in the care of the old men, the women being all sent to the mountains. I could obtain here no certain information of the Indians. But the man who acted as postmaster promised to let the horses go another post in case we should find Chaaritas 6 Baranquita deserted. To this spot, four leagues distant, we proceeded with great speed, and were just turning down a descent into the post-house, when we met the son of the postmaster at full gallop, who called out to us to save our lives, and pointed at the same time to a number of Indians dismounted, catching the horses in his coral. In a moment we turned
our horses to the nearest point of the Sierra de Cordova, still fortunately in sight, and rode as hard as the horses could go; and, latterly, as the broken nature of the ground, from large masses of rock, would permit. The last time I turned my head, the Indians were mounting their horses in great haste to pursue us. Our horses appeared to know what they were flying from: the one that- carried me was a small chestnut. We reached the Sierra and never stopped to breathe, until we had ascended and descended three ridges into a valley, where there was water. Our thirst was intense. The distance we had rode, fourteen leagues, as fast as we could, combined with the great heat of the afternoon, and, perhaps, the anxiety of mind, made us all insatiable. I literally put my head into the stream. My guide, whose ordinary colour was bordering on the purple, was still pale. Nothing was lost but a pillion of no consequence. In spite of the rapidity of the retreat, the load of the baggage horse was scarcely disarranged.
In this valley we were joined by some country people, who had fled from their dwellings; some women were on horseback, with three or four children before and behind them: others produced a little boiled maize, which we par-
took of with avidity—nobody more so than the guide Chiclana: excepting a cup of yerba, we had taken nothing all day, from a great desire of losing no time. We remained in this spot, perhaps one of the most beautiful I ever saw, until it was judged by all no longer safe. We then endeavoured to find out the postmaster and alcalde, who were hidden in the Sierra, the villagers accompanying us, and the children distributed among us. I carried a heavy child in ray arms. After keeping together for some time over a most rugged and mountainous track, we separated, and our postilion, a good sort of fellow, conducted us to near the spot where the alcalde of the neighbouring village and the postmaster were hidden. We then met with the son of the former, whom no entreaty could move to shew us the path to his hiding place, the light of which we could easily make out on the side of the mountain. In fact I was looked on with considerable suspicion, being a foreigner, of whom it was known that Carrera had several in his suite; and the reports of my guide and the postilion, that we had come from the east, were thought hardly worthy of credit. It was this feeling of distrust which prevented the many villagers we met with, upwards of fifty, from joining me and
forcing our way through this party of Indians, as I proposed to them in the valley. We then endeavoured to find some place to lie down in. My advice was to stop in some secluded valley for the night where there was water and pasture, and perhaps for even one or two or more days, and endeavour to obtain some certain information in the me au time of the position of the Indians. This was thought good advice by the guide, but no such place presented itself; and after wandering about until half-past eleven o'clock of one of the finest nights I ever beheld, we came to two wretched mud hovels, where the women had arrived before: they instantly, in the most good-tempered way, made a little fire and broiled us some beef, and put some onions into the ashes; the fire was then instantly extinguished, for fear of the smoke being seen by the Indians. The guide wished to put our four horses into a coral that was about a hundred yards off, but I thought we had much better tie their legs and conceal them in a little coppice that was near: they were dreadfully tired it may be well conceived, and it was to me a matter of wonder how they could gallop over the rugged paths of the Sierra strewed with the debris of primitive rocks. What beautiful specimens I was forced to leave
behind! Some of the finest rose quartz ever beheld! I laid down on my recado half dead with fatigue, having rode at least forty leagues in the course of the day. I imagine two hours had not elapsed before the alarm was given that the Indians were approaching, and all the villagers seized their horses and fled. It appeared to me impossible to proceed: first, my baggage must be abandoned; and, secondly, the horses were quite incapable of farther labour without some hours rest. The women had spared no pains to persuade me to go with them; and when they found prayers and entreaties of no avail with me, they tried to prevail on my guide by talking of his wife and children, and telling him that he would never behold the port (Buenos Ayres) again. I left it to himself, and after a conflict he and the postilion determined to remain with me. The others set off; they had not departed above half an hour when about forty Indians, armed in different ways, as well as we could make out, came over the ridge and made directly towards the old hut, where we were lying. We watched them with the greatest anxiety, determined to remain lying down to the last moment, and if they came close, to run for our lives, and trust to the ruggedness of the paths
and the darkness of the morning for our security. They paused, however—kept their horses closer together, and then proceeded to the coral, within a hundred yards of where we were concealed—the very coral where our horses were on the point of being placed in the preceding evening. The Indians took out of it about seven or eight horses and then retired. Either they did not think the huts where we were hidden had been inhabited for many years, or else they were fearful of venturing farther into the Sierra. As soon as they retired over the ridge we advanced, and, as it bad now become pretty light, watched them over a second ridge, and then returned to make preparations for a speedy departure.
6th March.—We procured the horses without delay, and set off in a northerly direction across the mountains, conceiving this best, as it would give us the option of either escaping to Cordova or west to San Juan, and so by skirting down the foot of the Andes reach Mendoza; or, if that place was likely to be occupied by the Indians, at once cross over into Chile by the northern pass of the Patos. We had not proceeded far before we met a man on horseback, whose countenance being prepossessing, I interested him in my escape, and by the promise
of a dollar got him to conduct me to a spot in the very heart of the Sierra, called Piedra Blanca, distant five leagues, where he said we might procure mules and traverse the whole breadth of the mountains to the western side, and then proceed either to La Punta de San Luiz, or Mendoza, as we should be guided by the information we might receive there. I liked this advice, and proceeded with him, expecting every moment that we should see the Indians on the top of a ridge. The scenery was of the most beautiful description: the mountainous aspect of the country, after the dull monotony of ten days on the plains, had an indescribable charm. We crossed the Rio Quarto, an inconsiderable stream, arrived at Piedra Blanca, and were well received by the owner of a miserable mud hut. We reached it at nine o'clock, and got the master to send for the mules from the pasture, and getting something to eat, laid down to sleep a siesta. I was scarcely asleep before I was awakened by my guide, who informed me that the Indians had again approached—that we were no longer safe—and must set off without a moment's delay. After this, instead of getting the mules saddled, and preparing to set off with another guide procured here, he began to eat again with a composure which
quite deprived me of mine. We left Piedra Blanca at twelve o'clock, proceeding over the Sierra up one and down another ridge, over the most rugged paths imaginable, strewed with lumps of quartz, granite, mica slate, and trap of various kinds. In three different places I saw distinctly granite, gneiss, mica slate, clay and hornblende slate in regular succession. In some places at the tops of the ridges, all the beautiful white quartz was formed into heaps, and at a little distance others of black mica slate: the pieces were so large that it appears questionable whether they were placed there by the hand of man. In other spots large pieces of gneiss were laid across each other in a way that would be at once pronounced in England, Druidical. The paths were without exception more rugged and dangerous than any I subsequently saw in the great Cordillera of the Andes.
The Sierra de Cordova is the termination of the eastern and central ranges of the continent. It scarcely exceeds 3000 feet, and is almost entirely free from vegetation on the ridges; but in the valleys, prickly pears, grasses, and a few larger trees, abound. The range presents many interesting features, which I was prevented, by the rapidity of the flight, from
properly examining. On the summits of the loftier ridges, it was impossible not to be struck with the large masses of stones, placed conically, of the different colours before alluded to; too regular to be supposed the work of decomposition, and too stupendous to be considered a work of art. I could discover nothing like inscriptions. When I was subsequently in Peru, I learnt that the palace of the Inca at Cusco was constructed of immense stones, one of which was rough, while the next was cut so as to fit it; and so perfectly was this accomplished, that the point of a knife could not be inserted into the joint: some of the blocks must have weighed many tons. It is a matter of conjecture, how they were raised to their places. Some have imagined that the earth was artificially raised, and that they were rolled up: or that the Peruvians, far advanced, as we know, in the arts, were acquainted with some mechanical power, of which we have no idea. As the Sierra de Cordova had once a considerable population, it is not too much to suppose, that these stones must have been raised by the same method as those in Peru, whatever the means by which they effected this object.
Towards the afternoon, having crossed the
whole of this part of the mountains of Cordova, a distance of twelve leagues, we began to descend into the plain, and at last arrived at a spot called Estansuela. The master of the house, an old Spaniard, and who, on that account, had been well robbed by the powers that are, agreed to furnish us with horses the next morning to a place called Salado. Shortly afterwards, an old gentleman, of different appearance from any I had seen for some time, walked out of the house, and conversed with me for the rest of the evening. Finding him a superior man, and anxious about the affairs of Europe, and Spain in particular, I gave him all the intelligence I could recollect. He in return favoured me with some information on the state of the country, and gave me some account of San Martin and Carrera. What was of great importance to me, he joined with the master, D. Pedro Mogica, in assuring me that I was quite safe in this spot, and that by following their advice, I should reach Mendoza in safety.
I then learnt, by a whisper from the guide, that it was General Marcó, formerly Governor of Chile, with whom I was conversing. Having lost the battle of Chacabuco to San Martin, he obtained, with difficulty, permission to retire
here; and although he was dying for want of medical advice, he could never get a passport to embark for his native country, Spain. He subsequently related the whole affair of Chacabuco, and complained bitterly of the conduct of San Martin. It must be confessed, that the South American Spaniards partake a good deal of the stock from which they originally sprang, and must not be trusted with power.
I was, as well as my guide, extremely hungry, and thought the hour of supper would never arrive. I walked into the kitchen and ingratiated myself with the black cook, Cecilia; but nothing would do, I was obliged to wait. At last I was called in, and Don Pedro began a set of prayers, which appeared interminable. The Spanish refran came continually to my recollection, largo rezo, poca comida, and I dreaded the appearance of a solitary dish. I most fortunately was mistaken; for there was an excellent supper of broiled beef, broth and boiled maize, called omita. After supper, the host informed us that we might sleep in the court, a piece of information I did not expect; but, as I found it was the common sleeping place of the family, excepting himself and the General, I became more reconciled to it; and must confess slept very well.
VOL. I. T
7th March.—Early this morning, I took a kind farewell of Don Pedro, little thinking I should ever again partake of his fare, and set off for Salado, live leagues over a plain, for the most part very sandy. At Salado, the red granite shews it self in many places. At this spot I engaged mules and horses to La Punta de San Luiz, by a road perfectly free from any Indians: distance forty leagues. I met here an Englishman married and settled in the neighbourhood; he possessed a grazing farm, and had been many years absent from his native land. He bred great numbers of cattle; but, merely for subsistence, grew little wheat and more Indian corn. We departed from this to San Rosario, keeping to the right on the nigh ground, and leaving an isolated hill, or morro, on the left. The local guide having lost the track, we did not reach San Rosario until seven o'clock in the evening. Having a note to the master of the farm, he was extremely civil, allowing us to rest our animals and ourselves for a few hours. He lent my guide a horse, and gave us plenty to eat. The lady was particularly kind; for soon ofter our arrival she made and baked some small wheaten loaves for me to carry away. She would not ask me into the house, she said, on account of the
number of bugs and fleas. About an hour afterwards, the whole family laid down in the court for the night. The master and mistress laid on a hide bedstead, and myself and the rest of the family round them on the ground. The lowest menials slept outside. San Rosario is situate on the S.W. of the larger morro.
As it was extremely important that no time should be lost in getting to the westward of the Indians, whose head quarters were in the morro of San José, which we had not yet rounded, I got the host to frighten my guides, and tell them that they must lose no time in proceeding. We slept only three hours, and then began to load the mules for the journey; the guide was strictly charged to mark the road, to prevent the accident of losing it.
8th March.—At half past twelve o'clock, we mounted our horses, and kept winding among the hills. After crossing the Arroyo of San Rosario, we reached by daylight an estancia called Atica; thence to the Rio Quinto, which we forded: it is wide but shallow, with a sandy bottom. Still descending one sierra and ascending another. We then got on the plain, and afterwards crossed the Sierra de San Luiz, the town being built on the S.W. side. All these sierras are principally composed of mica-
slate, clay-slate, and in some places near San Luiz entirely of quartz rock. The strata are broken up in a singular manner, very highly inclined, and in some instances vertical. This latter circumstance, and the frosts, may account for the very broken appearance of the rocks.
There is very little covering to these hills, only a few trees of stinted growth and prickly pears. The Sierra de San Luiz is much higher than that of Cordova, and abounds in beautiful scenery. If it had only vegetation, it would very much resemble the Brazil mountains. I found common mint growing all over them. The ravines in the plains in the neighbourhood of these mountains are very curious. They present perpendicular walls of clay, of sometimes forty feet, and are very extensive. At four o'clock in the afternoon, we arrived at San Luiz, which being built at the point of the sierra is better known by the name of La Punta. Its situation is extremely picturesque. The town consists of a number of mud huts, covering a large space, with a mountain stream conducted through it. There were considerable woods of mimosas all round it.
The horse I had mounted at eleven o'clock the day before arrived quite fresh at La Punta,
a distance of forty leagues; a great proportion of the way was over rugged mountain paths, and the only rest was for about five hours the preceding evening. As soon as he was unsaddled, the guide turned about with him on his journey homewards. This shews the immense fatigue the horses of this country are capable of undergoing. There are so many of them, that the turn of work comes seldom. They seem as free from disease as their masters. The surfeit appears the only attack they are liable to; and the remedy is rather a violent one. They mount the animal, and by dint of the spur and whip gallop it violently, when a great perspiration breaks out, and it recovers presently. I did not meet with a single sick person the whole way from Buenos Ayres; a fact which must puzzle those philosophers who maintain, that animal food is hurtful to man, and that his molares were only meant to grind vegetables. The people I had seen lived entirely on beef; many not knowing the taste of bread.
Nothing could be more grateful than the fruit I met with at La Punta. The grapes and figs were delicious and in abundance. The trade indeed is very much confined to dried fruits. The postmaster informed me, that he.
sold about 1000 arobas of dried figs every year. The wine made here, I had no opportunity of tasting, as it had all disappeared, like most of the inhabitants, into the mountains.
The women in this neighbourhood manufacture a number of woollen articles, such as baizes and horse cloths. There is a church and cabildo, or town hall; at the latter of which I presented myself to the governor ad interim, and charged myself with his letters for Mendoza. Ortiz, the regular governor, had gone out against Carrera.
Of the habits of the Pampa Indians, from whom I had so narrowly escaped, little more is known than what I have already mentioned. They remain in the southern parts of the continent, unless called to the north by severity of weather, scarcity of food, or as, in the present instance, by the insinuations of a chief, and a love of plunder. Carrera sent emissaries among them, and telling them that he was the last relation of the Incas, of whose power they have yet traditionary tales, found no difficulty in getting them to follow his Standard. He had otherwise little power over them, and could scarcely obtain the freedom of a prisoner. They are fine well proportioned men, light copper colour, and with long black hair. They
have some notions of a future existence. The cacique is the highest dignity among them. They live mostly on the flesh of mares, and are armed with spears, bows, and in this case Carrera had placed fire arms in their hands.
It appeared imprudent to remain long in La Punta, so I determined to continue my journey the following morning; and it was excessively fortunate that this resolution was taken, for in the afternoon the Indians took possession of it
9th March.—We left at eight o'clock, proceeding through woods of poor growth to La Laguna de Chorillo, seven short leagues. We met with no water after leaving this spot, and what we carried in the chifles became quite hot. To Las Chilchitas fifteen long leagues, changing horses half way—the heat intolerable. Soon after leaving the Laguna de Chorillo, we arrived on the banks of a salt lake, It was called Beberero, and was of about seven leagues in circumference. The middle was clear, but to a considerable distance round the edges the most beautiful white salt was encrusted in cubes. It is carried to Mendoza and other adjacent parts. The consumption of salt in these provinces is very trifling, from. a strong prejudice existing against its use. The
people say that it produces a premature appearance of old age; and the women, in particular, carefully abstain from using it. The road lay through thick woods of mimosa of a sickly aspect;—the heat and dust were excessively annoying. Rain seldom falling in the summer, there is little risk in sleeping in the open air, which appears the common practice. Some distance farther on, we forded the Desaguadero, a salt river, which empties itself into the lake we had before passed; it serves as the boundary between the provinces of San Luiz and Mendoza, or Cuyo. I examined the banks of this river a considerable distance, in the expectation of finding some specimens of sulphate of lime, but could meet with none. The geological formation was that of the red marl.
Shortly afterwards the setting sun displayed a spectacle which nothing can efface—no time obliterate from my memory. The lofty curtain of the Andes, the great wall which I had so long anxiously wished to behold, appeared before me:—the country under the Cordillera, as well as the lower summits of the chain, were thrown into a premature darkness—the loftier were covered with eternal snows; of these, Tupangato, the highest, an extinct volcano, was
pointed out to me. My only feeling is regret at not being able to describe what was presented to me, and the sensations which it occasioned. The Andes were about seventy leagues distant. We arrived at Chilchitas at seven o'clock and departed for Coral de Cuero at eight, but the evening being dark as if a storm a was approaching, and being overcome with the heat we had experienced during the day, we stopped at a kind of farm on the track, and laid down to sleep in the yard; never was any thing so bad as the bugs,—my guide, not the most delicate in the world, complained more than the postilion or myself. These insects, between the size of a large English or French cimex and a small black beetle, leave the houses at night and attack their prey in the yard. In the warm weather no one is bold enough to dispute the possession of the interior with them; scarcity of water is a sufficient excuse for this apparent want of cleanliness on the part of the inhabitant.
10th March.—We started again at three o'clock this morning, continuing through the same kind of wood as before, to Coral de Cuero, nine leagues; the station consists of a mud post-house. We departed at a quarter past seven through woods as before along the banks of the Rio Tunajan, which comes down from the Si-
erra de Portillo, and terminates in the salt lake already mentioned. Tunajan is an Indian word and may be derived from the Chilian verb thùncùn, to become cold. Passed through the village of Corocorto, nine leagues from the last station; it consists of a few houses; the neighbouring woods seem chiefly composed of dwarf mimosas. Thence to Dormida, four leagues; the road for the most part along the banks of the Rio Tunajan. On the banks I remarked some natron, from which the water of a deep brown colour had evaporated; it was quite white, in some places about half an inch thick, in others the powder little more than covered the ground. To Catitas, six leagues, through low woods, and afterwards to Rodeo de Chacon, where it was resolved we should pass the night, having completed thirty-nine leagues since the morning.
Every league we had made in the course of the day the houses and general appearance of the country had improved; some care seemed bestowed on the culture of fruits, as the grape and the peach; and in the immediate neighbourhood of the post stations some land was cultivated by irrigation. The people at this post-house were extremely civil, giving me for supper three excellent dishes and some Mendoza wine, and
refusing to take any recompense but a cup of yerba with me. At eight o'clock we all laid down together, father, mother, daughters, and uncles in the court-yard, the house, being so infested with the insects before-mentioned, was entirely abandoned as a sleeping place; finding it impossible to sleep for the cold, I told the guide to make a fire and prepare some yerba.
11th March.—The girl of the house being so obliging as to get some milk, we made breakfast, and left at half-past three for Retamo, nine long leagues, through woods similar to those passed the day before, and at seven o'clock came to the post-house, a very superior building to any before met with. Previous to reaching the village the ground was low and much flooded by the river Tunajan. The track now changed its appearance and became a regular road lined on each side with poplars;—sandy, and here and there small pebbles. Left Retamo at half-past eight o'clock for Rodeo de en Medio, seven leagues, through much swamp;— ground becoming more and more inclosed;— forded the Rio de Mendoza the current of which was very rapid; it comes down from the sierra and falls into the Desaguadero; it lays much country under water at particular periods, chiefly when the snow begins to melt in the
Cordillera. The whole of this morning I was gratified with the view of the stupendous range of the Andes, which we approached with rapidity. We arrived at Rodeo, and getting horses proceeded to Mendoza, five leagues; the road was covered with water running rapidly from the mountains, and shewing us, what otherwise we should not have discovered, that we were on the ascent; numbers of water-worn pebbles were strewed along the road. On every side there were indications that we were near a considerable town: many cottages, the roofs of which were covered with Chile pepper drying, or else spread before the doors; inclosures and cultivated land s on all sides. At length we entered the long suburb of Mendoza, and without much difficulty discovered the residence of Don Manuel Valenzuela, to whom Mr. John Watson, of Buenos Ayres, had most obligingly given me a letter of introduction. This gentleman received me with great kindness, and made me remain at his house.
Mendoza—San Martin—Passes in the Cordillera—Departure to the Southward—Cross the River of Mendoza—Reach the Entrance of the Pass of the Portillo—Ascent—Descent to the Valley of Los Punquenos—Snow Storm—Confined Two Days under a large Fragment of Rock—Ascend the Second Pass of Los Punquenos—Reach the Valley—Arrive at the first Chilian Habitations—Mill for the Grinding and Amalgamation of Silver Ores—Arrival at Santiago the Capital.
I HAD now reached Mendoza, after traversing upwards of 1000 miles of plain; had escaped from the Indians, and was about to enjoy all the luxuries of civilization, after having spent fourteen days among people who are scarcely acquainted with what we consider the necessaries of life. Under such circumstances, every thing appeared in the most favourable light; and, when the picturesque nature of the situation is coupled with this feeling, many allowances must be made for me should I colour too highly the description of the place.
It is a well-built town at the foot of the Andes, and opposite to the great pass of Uspallata. The houses, constructed of large un-
burnt bricks, are fitted up with a degree of luxury not often met with in South America. The streets are wide, and water is conducted through them by means of acequieas, or little streams, from the great river of Mendoza. It contains six or seven churches, and a great square which has been the scene of several executions, and in particular of the two brothers of Carrera. The public walk, or alameda, is well laid out, and commands a majestic view of the mountains. It is frequented every evening by the most respectable persons, making parties and taking ice and sweetmeats to a late hour.
Mendoza contains twenty thousand inhabitants. It is said that there are three males to two females. Few blacks are now left, as they were given up by individuals to the state to form regiments.
From its situation, opposite the principal pass into Chile, it has always been a place of considerable traffic. The chief occupation of the inhabitants is making wine, some of which is by no means bad. The commoner kind is not very unlike indifferent Malaga; but a red wine on the table of D. Manuel Valenzula was of very superior quality. Some of the vinyards contain 60,000 plants. The grapes are large and black, and resemble the Hambro variety
more nearly than any other; they are highly flavoured. The cultivation is chiefly en treillage. The other fruits are melons, green flesh of exquisite flavour, figs, pears, and quinces. The latter are very superior to any met with in Europe. The white fig is generally admired.
The chief exports are wines, brandies, and dried fruits. The imports are yerba and manufactured goods. The latter are sold at so low a rate as to be almost incredible.* As few goods pass by any other route into Chile than by Mendoza, a large proportion of the population is employed in breeding mutes to pass the Cordillera, and considerable profit is derived from this branch of traffic. The lands are all inclosed and manured by irrigation. They are much subdivided, as every man is a proprietor. The wheat is of a small grained bearded variety (de barbilla); it is sown in July and cut in December. There is only one crop annually. The price of the best wheat was 2 dollars per farega of 8 arobas of 25lbs.=2½ English bushels. It produces the finest bread ever tasted. The straw is of little value, and merely used to mix up with the clay for bricks. The Mendoza
* I bought an excellent English penknife for rather less than a shilling, after it had travelled such an immense distance, and yielded a profit to several hands.
plough is little more than a log of wood pointed with iron and drawn by oxen. Much alfalfa or trefoil is grown; and the luxuriance of the soil is such, that it is often cut fourteen times in the course of the year.
The society appeared extremely agreeable. The ladies were well informed, and took great delight in music, singing, and dancing. The most favourite songs were the Tristes of Peru, the mournful strains sung by the subjects of the last Inca after his death. The airs are excessively wild and irregular. I had no means of obtaining any of them. Some of the Letras or words will be found in the Appendix.*
The usual dances are the minuet and the quando, which last commences like the former, but ends by running backwards and forwards to much quicker measure.
These amusements, with that of sitting in the public walk (alameda) and taking ices and sweetmeats, form the chief occupations of this delightful spot, which exhibited more refinement than I had elsewhere seen in South America.
During the summer months, from November until March, the weather is hot; and were it
* No. 19.
not for the snow-water which runs from the Cordillera, the country would be entirely parched op. The rainy season is during the winter, when the other source is frozen up. It lasts for three months, with occasional frosts, and, at times, a little snow. The mornings are extremely bright, and the mountains, devoid of mist, are relieved by a deep blue sky. Towards five o'clock in the afternoon, the atmosphere becomes overcast, and it is difficult to persuade oneself that a storm is not on the point of bursting. This appearance took place every day I remained at Mendoza, and not a drop of rain descended. The elevation above the sea is about 4427 English feet.
The soil is a light brown clay, evidently brought from the mountains and deposited from the water. Under it there is a considerable stratum of water-worn pebbles of various sizes.
The only misfortune that attends this beautiful spot, is the prevalence of the gota or wen. It avails little to run into a number of theories on a subject which has puzzled some of the wisest and most learned men of the age. Where-ever it is met with, whether in China or Sumatra, Switzerland or South America, it presents the same characters, and affects the mind while
VOL. I. U
it disfigures the body. In Mendoza, every little shop announced that it sold the palo de gota or wen-stick, for the cure of this malady. Having procured several of these wen-sticks, they were left behind with some wheat, wine, and a few minerals, and, never having reached me, it is to be feared that they fell into the hands of the Indians; otherwise I should have been enabled to place this remedy in the hands of some botanists to make out its generic character. It is brought from the coast of Peru, and appeared to me to be an alga. If we may be permitted to judge of a remedy by its effects, it would seem that it is not very successful, for the number of persons afflicted with this malady is very considerable. One woman of my acquaintance, herself a goteira, had five children similarly afflicted, and all of them dumb. This malady appears to prevail all down the eastern side of the Andes; but, on the western, or Chile side, it is comparatively rare. Chile may be said to consist entirely of values, as there are three ranges of hills between the great Cordillera and the Pacific; while on the east the mountains rise abruptly like an enormous wall, and not by any means progressively.
If, however, there is any efficacy in this
alga, which is chewed, may it not proceed from the presence of iodine, which it is said has been lately applied with success in this disorder?
The province bas once or twice changed its governors since the revolution broke out; but, finding one worse than another, the Mendozinos have contented themselves latterly with a Don Tomas Godoy, who is partly merchant and partly chief, and whose understanding is of a very limited description. He takes a thousand dollars per annum for his services.* The state expenses are said to amount to 12,000 dollars per annum. There are no regular troops, but about 3000 militia. The principal sources of revenue arise from a duty of one dollar upon every cask of brandy and four reals upon every cask of wine.
The province of Mendoza or Cuyo extends a considerable distance down the Andes to the south. where some forts erected against the Indians (pehuenches) form the boundary. The Andes form the western frontier. On the east it is bounded by the province of La Punta, and on the north by that of San Juan. It was in agitation to unite these three provinces, and to form one government; but as the jealousy ex-
* A Señor Molenara is the governor al this period, September, 1823.
isting in these matters is always in the inverse ratio of their importance, it appears more than doubtful whether the plan will be carried into effect. Including the population of the city, the whole amount in the province does not exceed 40,000 inhabitants.
The situation and climate of Mendoza are so delightful, and the soil so productive, that it is matter of surprise that so few foreigners have taken up their abode there. It is sufficiently strong to protect itself against any ordinary attack; but should the Indians appear in overwhelming force, nothing could be more easy than an escape into the mountains. It has become lately the residence of San Martin, a name better known in South America than in Europe. He has retired to this spot after the toil and battles of ten years duration, to enjoy that quiet to which he is so fully entitled. Without passing those great encomiums upon him which some of his admirers have so profusely lavished, it would be at the same time more than unjust to deny that he is possessed of very considerable talents, which he has at all times put forth for the good of his country and for the freedom of the New World. In South America there are two parties, who will admit no one to hold an opinion which, pursuing
a middle course, probably comes near the truth. The one party almost deifies San Martin, and maintains that if he had remained in the Peninsula, which it is said he left from a pique at not getting his promotion, he would have accomplished more than our illustrious chieftain. The other party vilifies him, calls him cruel and revengeful, and asserts that so far from possessing military talents, that his battles were won for him whilst he was lying in a state of inebriety; that his ambition was boundless. Surely it must be admitted that his retirement from public life has extinguished all cause for this latter accusation, and doubts may be reasonably entertained of the truth of the former.
By the interesting pamphlet of D. Ricardo Gual y Jaen, it appears that D. José de San Martin was born at Yapeyu, a town in the Entre Rios, while his father was governor of San Domino Soriano, a place of some importance on the Uruguay, in the year 1778. From this we are to presume that his parent was a Spaniard sent out from the mother country to take the command. It is certain that D. José received his education in Spain, whither he returned with his family at the age of eight years. He chose the military career, and received a suitable education in the College of
Nobles in Madrid, a distinction, his biographer says, seldom lavished on American youth; but it is to be recollected that he was born while his father held a post under the government of the Rio de la Plata, a fact which exempted him from the stigma of being an American. The war which broke out during the French revolutioh afforded every opportunity to a young military man to distinguish himself. He was the aid-de-camp of the Marquis de la Solana when that officer was murdered by the populace of Cadiz in May, 1808. He served with great merit during the Spanish struggle successively under the orders of Castaos and Romana, and latterly under our own distinguished chief. The cause of his leaving what was in fact more his own country than South America, and that at a period when she stood most in need of her valiant sons, has never been satisfactorily explained either by his friends or enemies; but in 1811 he came over to England and took shipping for the Rio de la Plata. Obtaining at first a trifling command at Buenos Ayres, he defeated at San Lorenzo a force of five hundred men, sent by the Spanish governor of Montevideo to make a landing on the shores of the Paraná. He was then named commander-in-chief of the forces
of Upper Peru, and reanimated with his presence the remains of an army already beaten in more than one pitched battle. His health becoming disordered by the unhealthiness of the seat of war, he retired for a time to Cordova to recruit his strength, and afterwards assumed the command at Mendoza, then a point of considerable importance. While remaining in this town San Martin completed several works of great public utility; and his popularity was such that a large body of the people joined his Standard and declared their intention of marching wherever he should lead.
At the commencement of 1817 General San Martin began his march across the Cordillera with a force of 3000 men. Although this enterprise was undertaken at the most favourable time of the year, it was attended with considerable danger. He had prepared for the worst, and large stores of supplies were placed in different stations in the mountains, in case a retreat should be found necessary. They remained untouched, for on the 17th February he gained the battle of Chacabuco, one of the most sanguinary which has taken place during the revolution of these countries.
In the year following San Martin gained the battle of Maipo, and sealed by it the indepen-
dence of Chile. After settling the affaire of this country, and overcoming innumerable difficulties, the expedition against Peru was organized, and San Martin, assuming the chief command, sailed from Valparaiso on the 20th August, 1820. Various conflicts took place in Peru during a space of nearly two years, but success being generally on the side of the republicans, he entered Lima as a conqueror on the 13th July, 1821. In the September of the following year he retired from the command in Peru, and, arriving at Valparaiso, shortly afterwards proceeded to Mendoza.
I have thus given an outline of his life and some of the chief undertakings he accomplished. That San Martin is an extraordinary man no one can deny who is at all acquainted with the violent animosities and jealousies existing between the various districts of this quarter of the world, and which he either hushed by his presence or availed himself of in his views. His march across the Andes has been compared to that of Buonaparte over the St. Bernard; but if the great advantages possessed by the latter are taken into consideration, the discipline of the army, and the abundance of supplies, it must be admitted that the enterprise of San Martin is the more astonishing of the two.
To return to the narrative. The Indians were so elated with the capture of San Luiz that they approached Mendoza and threatened an attack. Every preparation was made to receive them, and a small body of Mendozinos sallied forth to reconnoitre. In such a posture of affaire it appeared more than advisable to think of retreating across the Cordillera while the road was open; preparations were accordingly made for the journey. In concurrence with the advice of my friend Don Manuel, I determined on proceeding by the southern pass of the Portillo, in opposition to the wishes of my guide, who recalled to my recollection the huts (casuchas) and conveniences of the great route, and the difficulties of the one I was choosing; but the idea, that if I returned by Mendoza I should be forced, on account of the season, to proceed by the pass of Uspallata, at once determined me, and orders were given to prepare mules for the Portillo.*
There exist four different passes in this portion of the southern Cordillera; the most northern is that of the Patos, opposite to the town of San Juan; it was one of the roads formed by the Peruvians, but is now fallen into disor-
* Appendix, No. 20.
der, and extremely rugged. The next road is the grand pass of Uspallata, in front of Mendoza; this was also one of the Peruvian passes, and in all probability their most southern one. There were a number of casuchas (huts) built in the higher parts of this pass by the orders of the late Viceroy of Peru, O'Higgins, the father of the Supreme Director of Chile. The next pass, and the most direct from Mendoza to St. Jago, is the Portillo, thirty leagues south of Mendoza, where the Cordillera divides itself into two chains. The fourth and last pass is that of El Planchon, opposite the Chilian port of Concepcion, through which it is said carts may pass with facility. There existed at one period a far more direct pass than either of these, for it appears, by records preserved at Mendoza, that padres were in the habit of leaving St. Jago de Chile at six o'clock on the Friday evening to say mass at Mendoza on the Sunday morning. It was probably the dry bed of a torrent or rio seco, but this commodious road no longer exists, and it is not difficult to imagine that an earthquake, or the gradual fall of large masses of rock, had effectually closed it. In 1820 the Director of Chile named some officers to examine the Cordillera, and to obtain the best information they could respecting any other commodious pass,
which might serve for the passage of troops or the introduction of contraband goods. After an attentive examination they reported that there was another pass, but of so rugged and dangerous a nature that it was unlikely that it would be ever employed for either of the above purposes.
Having procured a guide and the hire of three riding mules, two to carry baggage, and five others in case of accident, and laid in a stock of provisions for several days consumption, I took leave of Don Manuel Valenzuela, and bent my course south on the afternoon of the 14th March. To Luxan, five leagues, repeatedly crossing the water conducted to Mendoza; the road was enclosed on all sides by rows of poplars. On the road, in order to preserve untouched the salted provisions for the mountains, we bought some fresh beef, and on our arrival at Luxan in the evening we made a fire, dressed it, and bivouaqued for the night. Luxan is a small village with a very neat church, celebrated in these parts for the number of its miracles.
15th March.—Rose at day-break and took mattés of yerba, and the mules being laden we proceeded on the journey, and crossed the great river of Mendoza, which runs with an immense torrent,—my mule was carried some distance
down the stream. The view of the Andes was most splendid:—the lofty peak of Tupungato, covered with eternal snows, was not yet shut out from our sight; it is an extinct volcano, and tradition has not preserved the date of the last eruption; it is said to be the highest peak of the southern Andes, but on what authority this rests is not known; it does not appear that its height has been scientifically ascertained. We followed a southern track leaving a small sierra on the left hand;—the ground was scattered with rounded fragments of porphyry, greenstone and quartz; the only vegetation, which sprung up from between the large pebbles, were low bushes called jarillo, and ethers bearing small berries called piquein, considered an excellent remedy for thirst. We arrived at ten o'clock at an estancia or farm, five leagues from the place where we had slept;—we determined to rest during the heat of the day, which was most oppressive in this spot.
I noticed some more carbonate of soda in efflorescence on the ground. This place called Caraçal, commands a sublime view of the Andes. The woman of the house had a large wen; she was very civil, and supplied us with a large bladderful of fresh butter. We left this estancia at three o'clock; the track through the same
bushes as before, and with water-worn pebbles of the same rocks, but of larger size: The track then led over very rugged ground, and arriving at a spot called Estacado, where there was both pasture and water for the mules, and some appearance of firewood for ourselves, we deter-mined to remain there for the night. We found three mule-drivers had already taken possession of the more protected spot, but as they were extremely civil in giving us the advantage of their fire while our own was making, we became gainers by the circumstance.
The plain to the southward of Mendoza, and at the foot of the mountains, presents few remarkable features; it is covered with the plant I have before mentioned, called jarillo, of the height of three or four feet, with the leaves not unlike those of the myrtle, but covered with a varnish of a peculiar though not unpleasant smell; the stems are slender and elastic. The earth is torn up in many places in a remarkable manner by the torrents issuing out of the Cordillera;—the soil is sandy and strewed with the large pebbles before spoken of.
16th March.—We rose before day, and after collecting a few geological specimens, left the. spot, and ascending began to turn more into the mountains, the air of which was cool and grate-
had an oven standing at a short distance in the open air. As it was necessary to procure some more provisions for the pass, we bought a whole sheep for three reals, rather less than two English shillings; we then mounted again and crossed many ravines full of rounded pebbles of quartz and porphyry, to a spot called Capilla, from its having at one time possessed a large chapel; it is opposite the entrance into the pass, and was surrounded with peach trees loaded with fruit;—the woman of the house and one of her daughters were afflicted with goitre, the other was remarkably pretty. Both at this house and the former nothing could exceed the civility of the people, who seemed entirely occupied with cheese making. Leaving Capilla we rapidly approached the entrance of the pass, which appeared in the distance like a dark hole in the Cordillera, and now lost sight of the point of Tupungato, from the proximity of the lower summits. We passed the ruins of many houses destroyed by the Indians at the same period as the chapel. The same plant jarillo, and large tufts of a plant resembling lavender, growing nearly four feet high, probably a species of the genus gardoquia, were the only plants which fell under my observation. We crossed the dry
bed of an immense torrent, and rapidly approached the entrance of the Portillo; the ground was scattered as before with pebbles, but these now gave way to immense boulders. We now got on an elevated platform, with the river of the Portillo rushing down on our right, and at seven o'clock arrived at the guard-house of Chacaio, where I was obliged to shew my passport The keeper of the guard-house was very obliging; the woman had a goitre; they were occupied in cheesemaking. These huts, as well as all those we had lately seen, were made of rushes, affording a satisfactory proof of the mildness of the climate. The night was very uncomfortably passed, for it rained heavily some time before we discovered it, and then retreated half wet to a shed at some distance, where we were devoured by fleas and bugs.
It was now that I regretted most deeply my almost entire deficiency of philosophical instruments. The barometers, which had been ordered from England, had not arrived previous to my departure from Rio de Janeiro; and could such instruments have been procured in Buenos Ayres, it was hopeless to imagine that with their delicacy they could have reached unbroken the Cordillera of the Andes. A simple instru-
ment for ascertaining the dip and direction of strata, and two small thermometers, comprised my entire stock.
17th March. Having mounted our mules early, we began to enter the paramillo, or opening to the grand pass. The mouth opened to the S.S.E., and the wind, which was dreadfully cold, rushed out on the warm plain with considerable violence. The thermometer fell 30° below what it was the preceding day. The mules, as well as ourselves, trembled with cold. The ascent was very gradual, and by degrees we became shut in between mountains on either hand, which rose abruptly, and which were composed of reddish brown porphyry. There were very few plants, and the herbage appeared chilled. The track now became entirely confined in the gorge of the mountain, and we arrived on the bank of the river Portillo, which rushed down with a tremendous torrent, regardless of the masses of rock which had fallen into its bed from the elevated peaks on each side. The path now continued winding through large masses of rock, which hid us at times from the torrent and from each other. The herbage, as we ascended, became more and more scanty. The debris of rocks, which impeded our path, were chiefly large masses
VOL. I. X
of feldapar-porphyry, greasy quartz, clay-slate, and enormous masses of a kind of trachytic pumice, resembling the puzzolanas of Italy. This rock, I was informed, was sought for by the inhabitants of Chile to form filtering vessels. We crossed many streams, which descended with great violence to join the larger one of the Portillo, which was on our right. The view on all sides was highly novel and interesting. Before us a lofty range of mountains, over which it seemed impossible to pass, and from which a river rushed down with inconceivable rapidity; on the right and left stupendous walls of mountains, near which it was impossible to approach, from the vast heaps of debris which surrounded them. This mass of devastation rose at a high angle to a considerable elevation, and was formed of large blocks supporting other, but smaller, and becomes pulverulent at its junction with the main rock. I was able to form a perfect idea of chaos. On turning round, we had become so completely inclosed, that we scacely knew whether we had come from the right or the left The sound of no animal was heard to vary the unceasing clamour of the torrent.
We had now left the paramillo, or entrance, and rapidly ascended towards the first pass of
the Portillo; the Cordillera, as I have already mentioned, dividing itself into two chains, the most western being called the Sierra de los Punquenos. The rocks noticed were granites of various aspects, clay-slate, and another not unlike the drawing-slate of the Germans. I collected specimens, and made every observation in my power on the geology of the pass, in spite of the pressing instances of both my guides, who spoke of the lateness of the season for attempting the Portillo, and the chances we underwent of a temporale, or snow storm. It was impossible not to be deaf to their intreaties; and little supposing they were overheard, they pronounced me to be very weak in intellect to pick up stones and break rocks, as if I expected to find silver in them. We now took a turn to the N. W., and the highest point of the pass was pointed out to me. It appeared absolutely inaccessible. We still kept close to the river. Sometimes we saw a considerable torrent roll over the summit of the opposite mountain, and, before it reached the earth, be dissipated in vapour. Next we left the river, and passed along a ledge of rocks, with a frightful precipice on one side, a lofty wall on the other. In such places, to remain quietly on the mule is the best advice; although to
some persons of a nervous temperament it might be alarming, from the peculiar habits of that animal. It is well known to all who have made journeys on mules, that they constantly follow the footsteps of each other, and that it is with extreme difficulty they can be induced to move out of the path. But when this was effected, I remarked, invariably, that they felt the place with their foot before they trusted the whole weight of their body on it. In passing these ledges, they always walk on the outer edge, in order to prevent the risk of hitting the rock on the other side with their loads, and being forced down the precipice.
We now reached the foot of the mountain we were to cross over. The ascent became very steep, and the vegetation more scanty as wé advanced. At last it was confined to one plant, of which I secured a specimen, and having since placed it in the hands of that distinguished botanist and friend of science Mr. Lambert, he has pronounced it to be a new species of fragosa.
We now came to patches of snow of two or three inches deep in the more sheltered spots. From this locality, I obtained specimens of ribbon Jasper, sulphate of lime from large masses, actynolite, and compact feldspar, of a
yellow colour, containing grains of quartz. The species of fragosa now left us, and the ascent became extremely difficult and no longer direct. The path was in a zigzag direction. Here and there, and more particularly at the turns of the track, the carcasses of mules, which had fallen forty, perhaps a hundred years ago, appeared as plump and perfect as if they had died only the preceding day. The mules laboured with considerable difficulty, and repeatedly stopped to recover themselves. At length, after an hour and a half's toil from the bottom of the mountain, we reached the highest point. I had previously alighted from my mule, but felt so faint and weak, that I was glad to resume my seat. When quite at the summit, 1 again dismounted, and climbing up on the rock just over the pass, took specimens of a yellow magnesian limestone. The passage was just wide enough to permit a loaded mule to pass through, and declined rapidly on the other side. We were now on the edge of the lower limit of perpetual snow; for already much had been passed over, and above us nothing else was to be seen. None had as yet fallen since the preceding winter.
This fact gives us, for the latitude of 34° S. and 70° W. longitude, according to my calcula-
tions deduced from M. de Humboldt's collection of temperatures and scientific researches, an approximation of rather more than 12,800 feet above the level of the sea. The view from this height was very extensive, but entirely confined to the east. In every other direction it was intercepted by high chains. My guides pointed out a dark spot on the plain, which they declared was La Punta de San Luiz: but the distance of 80 leagues threw a doubt upon the correctness of this assertion. The sky was of an intense blue colour; whether owing probably to the exertion of the ascent, or the exercise of breaking and collecting specimens, I did not experience the cold I expected. It was tolerably calm, which may in some degree account for this. It was about half past three o'clock when we passed the height, after a journey of nearly ten hours from our sleeping place.
The descent was still more abrupt than the ascent. It was effected by keeping on the slopes of hills (faldas), and after an hour's travelling we again perceived the same fragosa. We now approached the lofty summit of Tupungato, which we appeared to be rounding. At this period it began to snow slightly, and the guide hurried us on as much as possible in order to reach a place of safety for the night. I ob-
tained more specimens of a yellow and of a blue decomposing felspar and greenstone. Keeping round some more faldas we descended into valley and crossed a deep and rapid stream. The weather had now become dark and lowering, and the snow increased fast: at length, about seven o'clock, we came to some caves formed of overhanging rocks, and turning the mules loose to pick up as much as the snow would permit, we made a fire by means of some moss which grows under the fragosa, and lighted a fire of roots and some wood we had brought with us. Placing the packsaddles of the mules and the portmanteaus to keep out the drifting snow, we laid down for the night.
18th March.—Early in the morning the wind increased and blew a perfect tempest, and as it had snowed the entire night, the ground was in some places many feet deep from the drift. My guide was very uncertain what to do, the weather being so extremely unfavourable even to move out, much less to pass the second summit of Los Punquenos, almost as lofty as that of the Portillo, and from which we were distant three leagues; at the same time we had every reason to expect worse rather than better weather, on account of the lateness of the season; the mules too were without pasture; and, in
addition to this, the spot where we had slept was, both from its situation and the smallness of the rocks which afforded shelter, very insecure. The chief danger arising from a storm of wind in the Cordillera is the falling of large masses of rock, several of which were blown down not far from us with a most awful noise and continued echo. Under all these circumstances he resolved on collecting the mules and endeavouring to gain another and a better shelter half a league farther on. With the wind in our faces, and the track completely obscured, we look from six o'clock in the morning until ten o'clock in performing this distance, and were well pleased to gain an extensive cave where we could sit erect to remain in until the weather should moderate.
Shortly after our arrival here the owner of the mules and head guide came up with thirteen others, seven of which were laden with silver, and joined our party. I was much re-assured by this reinforcement, for my guide was a young man who had only passed twice before, and in the height of summer, when snow-storms are of very rare occurrence. The rocks under which we took shelter were composed of a stalactitic limestone, enveloping fragments of clay-slate and greenstone. Some
of the stalactite was perfectly white, while other specimens were brown. It was particularly gratifying to think I had collected so much the preceding day, for there was little chance of the Cordillera being again clear from snow. Every care was taken to make the fuel, of which We had little, last as long as possible, and we laid down to sleep in the hope of being able to move the next morning, as we had only provisions for twelve hours longer. The storm continued all night, and we were frequently awakened by the fall of large masses of rock. The degree of cold was considerable. Although the warmest situation in the cave was conceded to me, and in spite of the fire of the preceding evening, the thermometer did not rise above 30° of Fahrenheit. The river which ran in front of our station was rather above the freezing point, and tasted strongly of sulphur. The mules could obtain nothing to eat, on account of the snow, although there is some pasture, which forms the chief inducement to mule-drivers to cross into Chile by this pass.
19th March.—This morning the snow-storm continued with violence, and the guide, looking towards the summit, declared that it would be next to madness to proceed. Whether the notable discovery that we had some beef, but
no fire to dress it, made any alteration in his opinion, did not appear, but about nine o'clock he said the weather looked more favourable, and that we ought to proceed without delay. In consequence of this the mules, who had come of their own accord to the cave, and remained with their backs to the storm, were instantly saddled, and we lost no time in proceeding. The weather was severely cold, and the snow as it fell froze on our ponchos. Our troop had now swelled to twenty-two mules, and a madrina or mare going first with a bell round her neck. This latter is a very necessary appendage, on account of the difficulties I have before mentioned, of getting mules into unbeaten tracks; but they follow her readily. As we ascended, the snow-storm increased in violence, and the guide was more than once disposed to turn about and hope for better weather. Alighting from his mule he led the madrina, and, exploring the ground, was more than once completely buried in the snow. At last, by taking a zigzag direction on the slope of the mountain, we arrived close to the pass, which we were in the expectation of proceeding through in ten minutes, when one of the mules, loaded with silver, fell, and rolled a considerable distance down the slope: the snow with which
she was enveloped prevented any accident; but the unloading, getting her up to the track, and saddling another, consumed nearly three quarters of an hour, during which the snowstorm raged with great violence, attended with much thunder and lightning. When we proceeded onwards the animals would scarcely face the storm.
This pass was very similar to that of the Portillo, a narrow ridge of about six feet over. The descent was rapid, and as it was already late in the day the guide scarcely hoped we should reach the Cuevas, where we were to pass the night. By means of hard driving, and the storm having moderated, we descended fast towards the bank of a river, which ran westerly with considerable current, and crossing it, we at last came at eight o'clock to some overhanging rocks (casas de piedra), six leagues from the summit, where we dismounted for the night. The day had been, on the whole, extremely laborious, the snow was so deep that it reached to my knees as I sat on the mule, and the storm was pronounced by the guide to be one of the worst he had ever experienced. We sent out one of the party, who procured some roots with great difficulty, and, making
a fire, we, endeavoured to dry our garments and get warm for the night.
20th March.—We mounted our mules early; and the morning being fine and even warm, the snow began to melt and disappear rapidly. The fragosa was still the only vegetation that made its appearance, but by degrees it became lost among other plants of a higher and more luxuriant growth. As we descended, the rocks became more visible; and, for four leagues, we wound through masses of different sizes lying scattered on the ground. They were chiefly granites of different aspects, porphyries and greenstones, in which the two components, hornblende and felspar, were not intimately blended. I observed some specular iron in granite in minute portions. The herbage now began to re-appear, and, after eight leagues travelling from the resting-place of the previous night, we came to a spot called San Gabriel, where we entered the first house in Chile. We procured some necessaries here, and among other things a little chicha, a generic term for any sort of inspissated drink, but which was in this instance the juice of the grape simply boiled. It is extremely pleasant, and may be drunk with impunity. During the summer, there is so much pasture in this neighbourhood
that many cattle are sent from the arid plains to get fat.
Leaving San Gabriel, we continued our journey to Melocoton, and, although it was drawing towards evening, found the heat oppressive. We passed in some places large thickets of trees, containing some pines of enormous growth. We now kept on the bank of a river, and followed a path which overhung it in a more dangerous way than any I had seen in the Cordillera. We bivouaced at Melocoton, and enjoyed the peaches which were put before us. Our descent had been regular during the day. The soil partook more of the character of ferruginous clay than any thing else, and at every step the difference in the temperature was more sensibly felt.
21st March.—We set off early for San José, three leagues distant, still keeping by the side of the river, the water of which was red and muddy. There was a piquet stationed at this spot; and my guide, whose name by some omission had not been inserted in my passport, was trembling at the idea of being sent back to Buenos Ayres. When the officer took the passport, and dwelt some time over it, he at once concluded that the omission was remarked. I re-assured him, by whispering that I was con-
vinced he could not read—a supposition which was confirmed at the moment, by his asking me whether I came from Buenos Ayres.
Adjoining the guard-house, there was an establishment for the reduction of silver from the ore. It appeared to me to be a sulphuret combined with a large proportion of oxide of iron and antimony (called by the minors paco.) This ore was brought from a mine six leagues distant in the mountains; but it did not appear that it was used by this mine only. The method in practice was described to me by the superintendent as follows:—The ore is placed in a trough, in which a stone rolls, worked by mules, by which it is reduced to powder. A fourth part in weight of salt is then added, and completely incorporated with it. To this is added about 4lbs of mercury to every aroba of 25 English pounds, which, after a complete trituration, is placed in thin sheep's hides, and being submitted to great pressure, the mercury escapes. He added, that from the ore of this particular mine, they seldom procured above fourteen marcs of silver (eight ounces each) from every carga of 10 arobas. It is not quite clear in what way the salt acts, unless it be that the silver, having more affinity for the muriatic acid, becomes a muriate, which
is afterwards decomposed by the mercury. It seems that the loss of both metals must be great by this process. The few silver mines of Chile are chiefly situate in the Cordillera of the Andes.
After quitting San José, we reached a spot where there was a custom-house; and, after farther travelling, we emerged entirely from the mountains, pursuing a track over the plain, covered with prickly mimosas of a sickly appearance. There was little vegetation on the ground. The heat was almost intolerable. We discovered, at length, a small hill, and afterwards church steeples. The huts by the wayside increased; and we shortly after entered the capital of Chile after an eight days journey from Mendoza.
Nothing can be more irregular yet picturesque than the appearance of St. Iago. Overlooked by the great Cordillera it rises a mass of vegetation in the centre of the barren plain. The dark foliage of the olive tree and the fig, with the lighter tints of the mimosas and algorobas, is so blended with steeples and houses, that the effect is novel and imposing. Dissimilar to Paris and other large cities, where each house has its separate garden, but in a manner bidden by the lofty tenements which
surround it, here, from the little elevation, the town seen in the distance appeared overshadowed with foliage.
The river Maypocho runs through a portion of the city. A email bridge connects one part of the city with the other. It rises in the Cordillera, and, like all other mountain streams, is subject to immense overflowings at one sea-son and a deficiency of water in the other. For the safety of the city, a large public work, called the tajamar, or wall, has been constructed on the lower side to restrain the torrent. In spite of this precaution, considerable damage is at times occasioned by the rush of water; and, on my second visit to the capital, I was an eye witness of much mischief occasioned by the torrent. In order to supply the town with water, a canal has been constructed from the Maypo, a river more to the southward, to swell the waters of the Maypocho in the dry period of the year.
The streets are regularly laid out, and the houses, constructed of large unburnt bricks, have only, in a few instances, a second floor; for, on account of the prevalence of earthquakes, there is a municipal regulation to this effect. Most of the houses have extensive gardens, and, for a disturbed country, no style
of building can be better adapted, as they are separately little fortresses. The windows towards the street are few, and those strongly barricadoed, and the centre gate into the court is equally protected against intruders. The apartments generally occupied by the family are on the further side of the pateo or court.
The chief public buildings are the director's palace, occupying one side of a great square, and the cathedral at right angles with it. If the other sides or the centre were at all in harmony with them, this square would be, from its situation, a grand feature in the metropolis. The public walk on the bank of the Maypocho, the mint, a large building, the college, and several of the churches, are of course visited by foreigners. The plain on which this city is built stands at an elevation of about 2591 English feet above the level of the Pacific.
In the next chapter I shall give some account of the present state of Chile. If the information on some points is not so full as could be desired, in justification of myself it should be mentioned, that the government were themselves extremely ill-informed respecting the amount of revenue and produce of the mines; and that, on some other questions, the truth was very much overstated, in order to give, as
VOL. I. Y
it was thought, additional importance to a country, which requires nothing but a proper system of government to make it one of the most desirable on the face of the earth.
Extent of Modem Chile—A portion of it included in the ancient Empire of Peru—First March of the Spaniards under Almagro most disastrous—Valdivia marches into the Country of the Araucanos, defeated and killed—The Araucanos unconquered to this day—The Climate, Soil, Sea Coast, Rivers, Lakes—Island of Juan Fernandez.
IN describing modern Chile, it must be understood to comprise that portion of country on the west of the Andes, which, bounded on the north by the desert of Atacama, extends to the banks of the river Biobio on the south. It lies, therefore, between 26 and 37 degrees of south latitude. Its breadth, from the great Cordillera to the Pacific ocean, varies considerably; but its average may be considered about two degrees, lying between 69 and 71½ degrees of west longitude. Its extent may be taken at a superficies of 23,000 square leagues, a calculation, however, from which large deductions must be taken from the mountainous and rugged nature of the country.
The district to the south of the Biobio, and
which is laid down in the old charts as forming a part of Chile and belonging to the Spaniards, is entirely left out of this calculation, and should bear, in fact, a different name. It is inhabited by that brave nation, the Araucanos, who, of all those forming the New World, have alone resisted the arms and blandishments of Europeans. It is not too much to assert, that this single nation has cost the Spaniards more blood and treasure than all the others which have fallen under their yoke on this continent. The different historians, who have written on this interesting country, inform us, that, prior to the discovery of Peru by the Spaniards, the Incas of that country had extended their conquests into Chile by pursuing a track to the east of the Cordillera, and then crossing over by the passes already mentioned, as far as the river Maule in 34° 50′ south. It does not appear that they met with any great opposition in their advance. Either the open nature of the country gave them greater facilities over the natives than in the south, which abounds in woods and fastnesses; or, what is more likely, their mode of warfare was more gentle and leas rapacious than that of the Spaniards; at any rate there is no reason to suppose that the inhabitants to the north were different from those a few degrees
more to the southward. We are to presume, therefore, that at this early period, the inhabitants of Chile were of a far more mild and peaceable nature, before the cruelties of the Spaniards had excited their feelings. The Peruvians made them labour for their advantage; and, finding abundance of gold, remitted considerable quantities to adorn the temple of the sun at Cusco. The religion and sovereignty of the Incas being combined, Chile, as far as the river Maule, became, previous to the arrival of Pizarro, a portion of the Peruvian empire. It was not until nearly seven years after the conquest of Peru was achieved by the Spaniards, that Almagro proceeded to the southward, at the instigation of Pizarro, who having taken away the life of the Inca Atahualpa, wished to have no participator in his glories or his power. It was already known to the Spaniards, that the journey on the sea coast was full of difficulties; for in crossing the desert of Atacama, it is requisite to carry every description of provisions; but the path Almagro took in pursuit of more plunder was scarcely better. The result was most disastrous; for on crossing the Andes in front of Copiapo, the expedition, guided by the brother of the last Inca, was almost lost from the severity of the cold and
from a want of provisions. It is said, that 10,000 Indians and more than 100 Spaniards perished on this occasion; and that Almagro, by his surprising exertions in going forward and bringing up provisions, alone saved the party. Such was the first disastrous expedition of the Spaniards into this country; a sad presage of the misfortunes they were doomed to undergo in its southern district. Almagro, being well received by the natives, on account of the Peruvians he brought in his train, marched from the northern provinces towards the south, full of the expectation of being soon master of all the gold which appeared so abundant. Everywhere the people gave up that metal with the greatest readiness, and wondered to what use the adventurers would put it. On proceeding south, Almagro discovered that he had to deal with people of very different habits from those who inhabited the vast countries already subjugated by Spain. Disgusted in part by this discovery, and influenced perhaps by the letters sent from Peru requiring his presence in that country, he returned by land, and shortly afterwards fell by the hand of the younger Pizarro, about the year 1538.
From the report made by the soldiers of this expedition that the country abounded in gold,
and possessed even a finer climate than the old country of Spain, a second expedition to Chile was always in the contemplation of Pizarro, who remained undisputed chief on this side of the Cordillera, and who regarded the entire subjugation of it to the Spanish arms as a most desirable event.
In 1540, the second expedition to Chile took place, under the command of Pedro Valdivia, in whose skill and prudence Pizarro placed the greatest confidence. He chose the same track over the mountains that Almagro had done before; but profiting by his misfortunes, he chose the most favourable period of the year, and arrived without disaster in the plains of Chile. Proceeding to the south, he conquered the provinces of Copiapo, Coquimbo, and Quillota, and founded in 1541 the city of St. Jago. All these successes were not gained, however, without many struggles on the part of the indigenes; and after the establishment of the city, the constant attacks of the Mapochinos rendered the army discontented with the expedition, with the general, and with themselves. A conspiracy broke out, which Almagro, by consummate skill, soon stifled; and, to prevent its recurrence, he turned the minds of his army to the search of gold, which, in this instance at
least, was to form the tranquillizer of affaire, and not the "irritamenta malorum" A portion of the army was detached by him to the valley of Quillota, where immense quantities of the precious metal were found without extraordinary toil; and all the discontents and murmurings were, as Molina, whom I am following, says, in a short time hushed and their causes forgotten.
Valdivia, in this posture of affaire, seeing himself surrounded by an implacable enemy, who diminished his forces daily, despatched a party of six hundred, under the command of Alonzo Monroy and Pedro Miranda, to Peru for succour. They carried with them the horse trappings, and other articles of solid gold, in order to give the Spaniards of Peru a competent idea of the wealth of the country. This party was attacked by the orders of the chief of Copiapo, and, with the exception of the two officers, instantly destroyed. These last were badly wounded; and as they had justly forfeited their lives by entering the country as enemies, the Indian chief deliberated in his mind what description of death they should suffer. His wife, however, interceded in their behalf, and saving their lives, dressed their wounds and treated them like brothers. On their recovery, she entreated them to teach her
son how to mount the horse, some of which had been taken at the defeat; and out of feelings of gratitude, they complied with the request: and this was the first lesson in horsemanship which was given to the indigenes of these parts, and which has since so wonderfully influenced their conduct, and wrought a perfect change in their habits of life. By murdering the young prince in one of their rides, au expedient which nothing could justify, when it is considered that to his mother they were indebted for their preservation from a cruel and ignominious death, the two Spanish captains obtained their liberty and reached Cusco in safety.
Succours were sent to Valdivia, and after struggles with the natives of some years' duration, he considered himself secure of the northern part, and proceeded without obstacles as far as the river Penco in the south, where he founded the city of Conception. These people, living in the immediate neighbourhood of the new establishment, informing the indigenes to the southward (called Araucanos) of the oppressions of the Spaniards, they marched an army against the latter; but although they fought with distinguished courage, were forced to retire into their country. Molina informs us, that Valdivia
declared he had at no time beheld more valour and firmness than the Araucanos exhibited on this occasion. In a subsequent attack, they effected much, and, when victory was declaring itself, suddenly retreated; an action which was regarded by the credulous followers of Valdivia as proceeding from the divine interposition of Providence, and accordingly a chapel was erected to the glory of St. James, who, they thought, had appeared on a white horse and frightened away the natives. In 1652, Valdivia, having completed the establishment of Conception, and having received reinforcements from Peru, marched into the country of the Araucanos, where it was reported that gold was met with in great abundance. He crossed the Biobio, and penetrating south with great rapidity and care, bestowed upon his followers with vast liberality the immense tracts of country he overran. He was continually watched, however, by the Araucano general, who only sought a fit opportunity to attack him. On reaching the river Callacalla, which divides the Araucanos from the Cuncos, he found an army of the latter ready to oppose his progress. While Valdivia was hesitating what to do, a woman of the country, whose name, Recloma; the early historians have preserved, came
forward, and either instigated by the desire of saving an effusion of blood, or from interested motives, promised to make the opposing army retire. Crossing the river, she spoke with such eloquence in favour of the foreigners, that she prevailed over one of the most warlike tribes of the country to retreat and give a free passage to the invaders. The city of Valdivia was the result of this advance. The chief now returned and constructed fortresses in all the districts which had fallen into his power, and thus endeavoured to secure the immense territory he had acquired.
The Araucanos had commenced their offensive operations, and under the command of the chief Caupolican, first planned the destruction of the Spanish fort of Arauco. The country people in alliance with the Spaniards were in the habit of supplying them with forage, and by an understanding with them, it was agreed that eighty soldiers of tried courage should supply their places, and, concealing their arms in the forage, should, on their admission, attack the Spaniards. This plan succeeded perfectly in the first instance; but the Spaniards fought so well, that their intruders were driven out at the very moment the Araucano army was close at hand to assist them. The fort was then
blockaded, and the Spaniards were glad to escape under cover of the night. The destruction of this fortress instantly followed, as well as that of Tucupel.
The Indian general remained near the ruined fortress, in the expectation that the Spaniards would approach it, in the hopes of either restoring it or giving them battle; and scarcely was Valdivia acquainted with this event, when crossing the Biobio from Conception, he advanced in pursuit of the enemy. It is related that many sad presages were entertained of the success of this expedition, and that Valdivia was entreated by some of the most experienced of his officers to remain in Conception. After the successes he had met with, it was scarcely to be supposed that he could listen to such advice, although the end of the expedition too fatally shewed the correctness of their opinion.
When the Spanish general arrived within a short distance of the camp of the Araucanos he sent forward a party to reconnoitre, but these falling into the hands of the enemy were cut in pieces, and their lacerated members hung on the trees. The Spaniards, on coming up to the spot, were horrified with what they beheld, and wished to return back. Valdivia himself, for the first time in his life, had presages of his
own untimely end, and regretted that the advice before given to remain in Conception had met with no attention. He rode forward, however, and beheld a ruined fortress with a numerous enemy well drawn up ready to receive him; he was taunted by their abuse, and his troops, alarmed by their appearance and irritated by their cries, waited in silence their attack.
It was on the 3d of December, 1558, that the two armies stood examining each other previous to the conflict. It was commenced by the Araucanos, who at first gained the advantage on the right wing, and the left marching up, the action became general. The Spaniards, following the example of their distinguished chief, and armed in a superior manner to the Araucanos, who were possessed of only lances and arrows, mowed down whole files of the enemy, who filled in. a moment the vacant spaces caused by the artillery. Three times the Indians retired in good order, and three times they returned with coolness to the attack; but at last nothing could withstand the fire of the Spaniards, and in spite of the prayers and entreaties of their chief, the Indians fled. The Spaniards shouted "victory," and furiously attacked the fugitives.
At this juncture an Araucano youth, of six-
teen years of age, of the name of Lautaro, whom Valdivia had captured in one of his expeditions, and had given the post of page, rushed forward, and leaving his conquering master, joined the fugitives, and cried out that the Spaniards were wounded and tired, and could scarcely make further resistance. Seizing a lance, he headed the fugitives against his late master, and calling to them to follow, attacked with such violence that the Spaniards were cut to pieces, and of the whole army two alone escaped to tell the tale.
The governor Valdivia, seeing his army routed, and that little hope could be entertained of his escape, returned with his chaplain to prepare for death, and being followed by the conquerors, was seized and carried before Caupolican. He implored his mercy, entreated the young Lautaro to intercede for his life, and promised to quit Chile with all his troops for ever.
The Araucano commander, naturally generous, and his own feelings being seconded by the wishes of the page, was on the point of conceding his demand, when an old chief of considerable authority, irritated at the name of pardon, felled the unhappy prisoner with a club, saying that it would be folly indeed to trust
a man of his ambition, who, as soon as he was free, would lay the country waste and laugh at his own promises.
Such was the unhappy fate of the conqueror Pedro Valdivia, a man of great enterprise, prudence, and military talents.
I have thus far closely followed Molina in the history of this country, even at the risk of being considered prolix. From the date of this unhappy defeat the Araucanos have maintained their liberty, in spite of the various expeditions under skilful leaders who have been sent to subjugate them. Their first reverses were so far favourable to them that they became acquainted with the use of horses and European customs; they gained all they could from the Spaniards, and then drove them from the country. The gold mines which excited the cupidity of the invaders were ordered to be closed up, and not again opened on pain of death.
As soon as the Spaniards discovered that, owing to the bravery of the natives and the natural strength of the country, no impression could be made by violent measures, and that the forts were maintained on the frontier with great expense, various treaties of peace and amity were entered into, and as soon broken by one party or the other. Latterly an Intendant
General of Chile obtained as much credit by making an advantageous treaty with these Indians as he would in former days have obtained from the discovery of a new country. The sums which the Araucanos coat the conquerors were immense, and it is well known that for many years the revenue of Chile was entirely absorbed in the defence of the country against their inroads. In attacking Peru the Spaniards met a people far more civilized than themselves, and by marching to Arauco a race of men who would not follow the examples of the other nations, and yield at once to a handful of Europeans.
Previous to the late revolution in this country, the Araucanos remained perfectly free, and being unmolested by the Spaniards came to the frontiers and carried on a small traffic. They supplied the creoles with horses of very superior quality and coarse woollens, and took in return a small quantity of wheat and European goods. This account of the Araucanos, however long, will not, I hope, be found devoid of interest. Those acquainted with the history of this unconquered nation will not complain at having it brought to their recollection; and to the small number of my readers who may be ignorant of its existence, it will not be uninteresting
to know that a country still exists in the New World that bas never been conquered by the Spaniards. This historical fact, it is well known, has been celebrated by Don Alonzo de Ercilla in a poem called the Araucana.
Since the revolution broke out the Europeans have had little intercourse with the Araucanos. It is said, however, that the nation is numerous, and that among them there exists a tribe of European whites. Various have been the surmises on this subject; some affirming that these very fair people were the descendants of shipwrecked mariners and passengers, others accounting for it by the habit the Araucanos had of carrying off the Spanish women and killing the men; but certainly among the lower classes in Chile some surprisingly white men, with different features to the Spaniards, were pointed out to me, and called the descendants of the White Araucanos. It is unlikely that more of the country will be known in modern times, or that the Republicans will be ever able to accomplish what the Spaniards, in the plenitude of their power, were completely foiled in. The language is well known, and a dictionary of it in ray possession, by the Jesuit missionary, And. Febres, was printed in Lima in 1765. The manners and customs of the nation are detailed at length by Molina, who
VOL. I. Z
was well informed on this head by the Jesuits, who bad, with their usual skill and ability, introduced two establishments into the country at the period of their expulsion. How this order contrived to introduce itself among this nation, so violent in its animosity against the Spaniards, becomes matter of wonder. The great sanctity of life and excellent morals of the members of the company, in conjunction with their medical skill and insinuating manners, must have been in a great measure the cause of this surprising preference in their favour, to the exclusion of the other Europeans. Of the many nations discovered in the New World, the general character given by travellers is decidedly unfavourable to them in every point of view; the Mexicans, Peruvians, and Araucanos form the only exceptions to this rule.
The present government of Chile holds Valdivia on the river of the samen ame, but its sovereignty is confined to the town and a few miles round.
The large island of Chiloe was discovered by Don Garcia de Mendoza, in the year 1558, and Ercilla, the poet, who formed a part of the expedition, swam across to the most southern island in the group, carved his name, with some verses and the date of his discovery, on a tree,
and by this act laid claim to the glory of having been farther south than any other European. This archipelago consists of upwards of eighty islands, mostly inhabited. The largest, called Chiloe, still yields allegiance to the court of Spain; but the governor was known to be in correspondence with the Director of Chile, and would, it was thought, yield as soon as a force to save appearances were sent against him. This island abounds in harbours, but none of them sufficiently deep to admit vessels of the largest class, otherwise, from the abundance and excellence of provisions, it would form an admirable rendezvous for the whale fishery on this coast, which is carried on to a great extent by the English and Americans. The climate, for one portion of the year, is damp and rainy, but far from unwholesome. The produce of Chiloe is chiefly confined to maize, fruits, and vegetables; it formerly shipped large quantities of salted provisions to Callao. From the proximity to Cape Horn, a friendly settlement and reception in this archipelago would be a very desirable object.
Having confined Chile to the north of the river Biobio, it cannot be stated, with direct regard to truth, that the sovereignty of the Director extends even so far as that limit. In 1821,
the port of Conception, Talcahuano, was occupied by an independent chief of the name of Benavides, who waged war against the Supreme Director. This officer, descended from one of the most respectable families of Chile, levied forces against the republic soon after the battle of Maypo, and being made prisoner, was condemned to be shot in the square of St. Jago. When led out for the purpose, the troops shewed symptoms of commiserating his fate, and San Martin, observing this, recommended the Director to delay the execution. This was accordingly done until the same evening, when he was again brought out and shot. The priests, to whom his body was delivered, in order to sing the Deprofundis, discovered that life was not quite extinct, and with great skill and kindness restored him to health, and unknown to every one allowed him to escape. The first news San Martin and O'Higgins had of the man, who they supposed had been shot two months before, was, that he was in perfect health in the south, and levying forces to keep possession of the country. During my residence in Chile, this event was one that deeply affected the Supreme Director, a worthy and patriotic man, who could not but behold with sorrow his country torn by a faction which he had no means, from
the absence of the troops in Peru, of putting down at once. In several instances Benevides had behaved with treachery to the foreign vessels putting into Conception, and seizing them, had fitted them out for his own purposes.*
The unsettled state in the south tended very much to demoralize the people. The roads not far from the capital were scarcely safe. An English gentleman while I was in St. Jago endeavoured to reach Conception, but on his arrival at Talca he found it impossible to proceed. The previous night three persons had been murdered, and such was the distrust that the more respectable inhabitants left their houses in the afternoon and slept in the woods, in places unknown to their domestics.†
The climate of Chile has been described in the most favourable terms by all those who have visited or written on the country. The temperature is moderate, the heat of summer being lessened by the cool breezes of the Cordillera, or the refreshing ones of the Pacific. The summer commences in the month of December, and a shower seldom falls during its continuance. The dews are extremely heavy
* Benavides was subsequently taken and shot.
† At this period, November, 1823, the south of Chile is much disturbed by the irruptions of the Araucanos.
and supply the deficiency of the rain. At this period of the year the sky is cloudless, and the sides of the streets are designated by the name of sunny or shady. During ray stay in Chile the thermometer in the shade seldom exceeded 76°; this was in the season that would correspond with an European autumn. The thermometer in the winter seldom falls to freezing, but early in the morning there is a cold feel which lasts until twelve o'clock. Snow has not fallen within the memory of man. The prevailing winds are south-easterly, and are peculiarly drying. Strangers complain of their effects, which at most only cause the cuticle to peel off. The gales of wind, which have been at times so destructive to the shipping on the coast of Chile, come from the north-west; they are common in the winter time, and, blowing from the Northern Pacific, bring rain in abundance. Storms are comparatively rare. "We have earthquakes at times," said a Chilian to me when talking on the climate, "but nobody has ever seen lightning." Without going so far as the patriotic Chilian, it cannot be denied that lightning is seldom seen, and this fact may perhaps be accounted for by reasoning on well known natural causes. It was always a theme of wonder with those, whose pursuits turned to
astronomical subjects, the remarkable clearness of the atmosphere and consequent brilliancy of the heavenly bodies. The nights were magnificent, and the heavens appeared clustered with stars, exhibiting an appearance which all who have visited Chile must have strongly impressed on their memory.
In examining the surface it must be kept in view that Chile is a small tract of ground between the Great Cordillera and the sea, and that three small ranges extend in parallel lines between these two boundaries. A variety of streams have poured down in torrents from the Andes, torn up the country into many ravines, and have now ceased to flow; many others pursue their short course to the ocean and partake of the character of mountain streams: none of them are navigable, and vessels can scarcely lie in their estuaries. This is generally the face of the country, and the same features extend to Peru, and in both countries the agriculture is mostly carried on in ravines. The soil is a stiff clay, abounding in waterworn pebbles, and is of little depth, but of singular fertility.
A great natural advantage to the country is the extent of sea coast. The riches of the whole line of the Andes and of the intermediate hills are with case carried down to the coast, where
a number of excellent harbours are ready to shelter vessels for their reception. The trade wind constantly blows down the coast to the equator, and for one half of the voyage at least, renders the passage certain. Coquimbo, which abounds in copper of the best quality, has an excellent port, greatly superior to Valparaiso, which is open to the north, and therefore much exposed to the gales I have before mentioned. The coast is considered to abound in fish of various kind, and an establishment was in contemplation to salt and dry a species smaller but not unlike the cod.
The rivers are of little import; the shortness of their course and the rapidity of the torrent during the season when the snow melts in the Cordillera, and at the other period, the shallowness of the water, prevent their being of any utility to commerce.
There exist several lakes of considerable extent, among them that of Aculeo is from its proximity to the capital more visited by foreigners. It is covered with large quantities of different kinds of water-fowl. In the excursion I made to this lake, nearly 20 miles south of St. Jago, I visited the cold baths of Valdivia, and the bridge of Maypo. This bridge is constructed over the Maypo, and is forty-two yards long; it is formed
of strips of hide supporting a bottom of branches of trees deprived of their leaves, with side rails of hide, and stays diagonally fastened to the bank on each side of the stream. It shakes very much, and only one man and beast are permitted to pass at a time. After the rains it undergoes some repairs, as the thongs are found to have yielded. It is constructed after the model of the ancient bridges found in the country at the discovery. This bridge has long existed. I made another excursion to the baths of Colina, eleven leagues north of the capital. The water issues out of five small holes from a chlorite slate at a temperature of 85°. The scenery of the watering-place, which is frequented by the first families of Chile, is most magnificent. There are a number of small houses let to company, and a large room in which they meet to dance every night.
The only roads which have been laid out are those leading to the port (Valparaiso) and to Uspallata; they seem to have been originally the beds of torrents. The tax on the traffic of both these routes is calculated to produce 4000 dollars, which are always applied to the exigences of the state.
The dependencies of Chile are soon recapitulated. The islands of Juan Fernandez and Mas-afuera have been deserted until lately,
when a small colony of convicts was shipped to the former. They had scarcely been six months in the island when they rose on the governor and military, and getting rid of them took advantage of the boats, and it is believed a large portion reached the main land in safety. This beautiful island, which, from Lord Anson's account, is particularly well known to Englishmen, appears, as far as I could judge from the deck of a ship, to warrant the high commendations passed on it. Sandal wood has been lately found on it. The island of Santa Maria, close to the main land on the south, is, it is said, devoid of inhabitants.
State of Chilian Agriculture.—Botanical Observations.—Mines, Gold, Silver, and Copper.—Coal.—lnternal and External Trade.—Individual and Social Happiness.—Language and Mental Enjoyments.—Public Library.—Visit to the Library of the Augustine Monastery.—Influence of Religion.—Morals and Manners.—Provincialism.—Population.
THE inhabitants of Chile are chiefly taken up with agriculture and mining. The manufactures are of trifling importance, and they possess neither sufficient capital nor enterprise to enter into commercial speculations.
The agriculture in this happy climate requires little attention. The smaller trees (chiefly mimosas) are cut low, and the plough, of simple construction, passes once between them. The sowing time is in June, and the corn is cut in December. The inclosures are formed of the boughs of trees; but in the neighbourhood of the city, where the traffic is greater, and some stronger defence required, they are made of mud walls, upon the top of which some branches are placed and a little earth thrown on them.
A strong vegetation soon takes place, which effectually protects the wall from the weather. The wheat is small grained but excellent, and during my residence in the city was worth two and a half dollars per fanega (two and a half English bushels). The farmers assert that this price does not pay the expenses of the growth. Maize and barley are both cultivated, but not to any extent. Hemp is an object of care; it appeared to me of very excellent quality, but hitherto it has not been raised in any quantity. It may be remarked here that of late years the agriculture of Chile has been in a declining state, owing to the circumstance that the Peruvian market, which formerly took almost all that was raised, is only open at intervals. For several years the ports were entirely closed. Large farms are also appropriated to the breeding of cattle and horses. During the summer and autumn, when the cattle are fat, the process of charqueando, or making jerked beef, is carried on to a great extent; the meat, entirely deprived of fat, and cut in strips, is hung up in the shade with very little salt. It differs from the carne secca of the Portuguese provinces in being extremely tender and well flavoured. It may be considered one of the staple articles of the country.
The breed of horses is small but excellent, superior in my opinion to those of Buenos Ayres; they are raised in great numbers as well as mules; but of these last it is necessary to import from the eastern side of the Cordillera, the supply not being sufficient for the demand.
The grape has been always cultivated with success, but the wine is generally of indifferent quality. That kind which is made near Conception, and called vino de peco, is considered the best;—it approaches more nearly to Malaga than to any other wine known in Europe. The fig and the olive are of superior flavor and most abundant; peaches, melons, water-melons, and strawberries, are among the variety of fruits which abound. From a large palm a kind of honey is produced by boring to the heart of the tree called miel de palma; it is dark coloured, and resembles molasses and water. The bark, which produces soap by mastication (the quillai), and a small plant, similar to English groundsel, which yields a scarlet dye of a lasting nature when rubbed on the cheek, and commonly sold in the markets for the purpose, are both worthy of note. But when the situation of the country and the nature of the surface are considered, it is obvious that the botany must be on a very extended scale. The cold of the higher regions of
the Andes, the warmer vallies at their feet, and the heated sides of the ravines in sheltered situations, all of course offer plants of different habits, which might be transplanted to any climate. It is impossible to visit this country, so extraordinarily rich in vegetable productions, of which so large a proportion are ornamental, without wishing to become a botanist. The calceolarias, the varieties of myrtle, the profusion of medicinal plants and dye woods, the larger trees of the south, which for building purposes are scarcely to be equalled, would afford a fine field to the natural philosopher. Since botany has become a science, little it must be allowed has been done in this country, and all we know of its vegetable products is gleaned from the works of the Spaniards, who have always been accused of keeping the world in perfect ignorance of every thing relating to their possessions in the New World. Since this country has been opened to Europeans generally, no botanist has to my knowledge examined its productions. It is usually observed in those countries where great mineral riches exist, that the soil is of a barren and unproductive nature; but Chile affords a striking and solitary exception to this rule:—streams abounding in gold wander through the most luxuriant corn fields,
and the farmer and the miner hold converse together on their banks.
By far the largest proportion of the gold found in Chile, where it is much more abundant than silver, is procured by means of washing the beds of rivers. It is of a very pure quality; but I met with it in no instance crystallized, but in large flattened grains of a peculiarly bright colour. From this circumstance I should be led to conclude that its matrix had been originally some metallic substance, probably the sulphuret of iron. In confirmation of this it may be stated that not unfrequently beds of gold of several inches thick are fallen in with, which certainly have never been disturbed, for the angles are sharp and could therefore have only been left by some decomposed substance. Some of these beds have produced extraordinary quantities of metal; and if agriculture were more extended they would be met with more frequently.
The only gold mine I visited, which properly deserves the name of mine, was on the road to Valparaiso; it existed in a gangue of iron pyrites, but was neither rich nor extensively worked. The auriferous iron pyrites of Chile are found isolated and finely crystallized. At Coquimbo gold is found in a matrix of carbonate of copper.
The silver mines are of much less importance, and are chiefly confined to that part of the country which borders on the Cordillera. The process of amalgamation in use has been before described. All the ores, whatever they may be, are purified in the same manner. Many of them, pure sulphuret of silver, containing 80 per cent. of metal, might be more advantageously deprived of the sulphur, by simply roasting with a moderate heat, than by the expensive process of amalgamation. The muriates and some other ores could not of course be subjected to the process, without the addition of an alcali. It is painful to think what a large proportion of the riches of the New World has been lost by the ignorance of the discoverers.
The silver mines of the Chilian Cordillera are almost entirely worked in veins running through a clay-slate, very similar to that in which the celebrated mine of Potosi exists. Those mines, which are situate near the Pacific, such as Huasco and some others, are worked (as I am informed) through a mountain limestone, Huasco produces extraordinary rich hand specimens of native silver, with the muriate and carbonate of lime (metastatique). The two metals, lead and silver, do not appear so much united in this country as in others.
It is a well known fact that none of the South American mines produce, at the present day, that vast quantity of metal which they used to do in former times. When first discovered the metal was in great abundance, and within a few feet of, and in some instances on, the surface of the earth. All this has been removed, and the great excavations subsequently made have become full of water, from which the proprietors have not a sufficiency of capita) to clear them. From this cause many of the mines which yielded a large proportion of silver have become entirely unproductive and closed up. The chief falling off, therefore, has been owing to a deficiency of capital, which the revolution has naturally much aggravated; for the chief capitalists were old Spaniards, who, instead of investing their funds in speculations of this sort, were rather calculating how to withdraw and conceal them. These circumstances, which have been perhaps more apparent in Peru and Mexico than Chile, have nevertheless been felt in the latter country. Molina states that the value of the gold and silver raised in his time (1780) was not under four millions, exclusive of what was smuggled. In 1821, the produce of the mines, including an allowance for contraband, according to D. Manuel de Salas, did not
VOL. I. A A
exceed a million and a half of dollars—showing a great deficiency, but one easily accounted for by the reasons above stated, together with the unsettled state of the country.
It seems to me that the first thing to be done, instead of making fresh excavations, is to supply proper machinery to clear the old mines of water. In many situations this would be exceedingly expensive, whether undertaken by means of an adit or by the steam engine: in using the latter much difficulty would be experienced on the subject of fuel, for it is scarce in the mountainous parts where the ore exists; and the expense of bringing coal from Conception would be heavy. Could this be overcome, and there is no doubt it might, the mines worked in galleries, and the practical experience of the old workmen, as to the direction of the veins, properly attended to, the produce would be enormous. On the last point I could not ascertain that the veins ran more in one direction than another, or that it was possible to lay down any rule on the subject. If Chile were to become so settled in its government as to afford perfect security of property, the application of capital to the mines would return a largo profit. The quantity of metal still remaining in the Andes must be stupendous; but there is this
to be considered, that if all the mines were properly worked, it is more than probable that silver would fall in Europe to a very low price.
The taxes paid to government on the precious metals being moderate, about 8 per cent., it is supposed that little contraband is carried on.
It is from the mines of Coquimbo and Copiapo that the large quantitities of Chilian copper are imported. I have no data upon which I could rely as to the actual annual produce raised in these mines. The tax paid upon copper is five per cent. Tin, it is said, exists in Chile; but I had no opportunities of seeing any specimens.
The coal seams are situate near Talcahuano, the port of Conception. It is found on and near the surface, and from specimens in my possession, there is no doubt it is a regular formation. It is of very excellent quality, and will, before many years have passed away, be looked upon as one of the chief sources of wealth in the country. For, the trade wind constantly blowing towards the equator, all the towns down the coast which have in fact been raised to note by mines of some description or other, will be readily supplied with this requisite material.
The manufactures of the country are on a
A A 2
very limited scale, and may be said to exist more among the Araucanos than the descendants of the old Spaniards. They consist of the commonest utensils of copper, some coarse woollens and ponchos, which are worked by hand, hats and some articles of earthenware. This last manufacture is not likely to be continued, on account of the superior beauty and cheapness of what is imported. But with regard to the woollens, they are likely to remain; for hitherto no English manufacture has been made so impervious to the rain.
The trade of Chile, considering the size and limited population, is of an extended nature, and its produce is sent to very different and remote corners of the globe.
To begin with the ancient commerce of Chile. From the circumstance of this country extending so far to the southward, and producing corn and other articles of food in greater abundance than to the north, it has at all times furnished provisions in large quantities to Peru, of which, in fact, it has always been the granary. Since the expeditions have left Valparaiso to expel the viceroy, severe prohibitions have been laid on the exportation; and the natural trade of the country has become very much disordered. When, however, affairs are
settled, it must resume its old form. In return for hemp wheat, salted provisions, and other articles of subsistence, it takes from Peru, sugar, cocoa, and coffee.
The traffic across the Cordillera is of a very varying nature, although goods of some description or other are always passing. When the Paraguay tea was to be obtained, Chile sent 400,000 dollars annually to purchase it; but as that traffic has been of late years confined to the Portuguese manufacture, and not sent from Paraguay by the way of Tucuman, as it used formerly, it has been generally shipped at Montevideo and landed at Valparaiso. Indeed when I was at the former port, a large Indiaman was then on the point of taking a cargo round. Some European goods are sent from Buenos Ayres to Chile; but there is little regularity in the traffic.
The direct commerce between England and Chile, consists of cargoes of every description of manufactured goods; and in return gold, silver, copper, tallow and hides, are the usual remittances. The value of exports to Valparaiso in the year ending January 5, 1818, was £32,000; and that of the year ending January, 1823, was £162,860, showing an immense increase. But it must be understood that a pro-
portion of this sum was only exported and not consumed there, but remained until circumstances might open other ports. The direct British trade has a competitor of no small weight in the Indian trade carried on across the Pacific. Although, hitherto, this trade has not put on a regular form, which may be chiefly owing to the novelty of it, yet large quantities of Indian cottons, nankeens, and Chinese goods are met with in Valparaiso. Rice and sugar are also brought from the East Indies, and sold at a lower rate than the Peruvian. In return, the precious metals and copper are very acceptable articles in the eastern markets: and should any appearance of a scarcity present itself in India or New South Wales, Chile can always afford an abundance of corn to supply their wants. It is not easy to sec what the trade will consist of when the affairs of Peru are settled, and the amount which Chile can produce of staple articles better ascertained. The consumption of the country must increase as the home manufactures disappear; which, purchased at a high price, are made to last a considerable time. The number of ships under the Chilian flag is very limited; and foreigners have all the coasting trade in their hands. Every article of English
produce is retailed at a most inordinate profit by the shopkeepers, who proceed on the same prices they obtained twenty years ago, when the ports were closed and the value of money very different. There are no native merchants, and the foreigners sell only wholesale, otherwise the shopkeepers would be ruined. The duties on manufactured goods were for some time so high, that it was scarcely possible to sell any large quantity; but in 1822, they were lowered to 26½ per cent, ad valorem, which is not made too high by the importers. Gold and silver in coin are permitted to be exported, on payment of five per cent. duty; but as the authorities have not yet been able to view these articles as common merchandize, the exportation in the rough (pia, or pasta,) is still prohibited. There is no duty on the exportation of corn, but there is a small demand on exported provisions.
From this statement it will be seen, that no great wealth has been accumulated by creoles. The mining part of the community here, as in all countries, is generally the poorest, from that disposition to lavish which it always possesses: and although many, more particularly the old Spaniards, have large territories in various parts of the country, yet they are not
of any great value. Even near the town, the value of a quadra, equal to nearly four English acres, did not exceed 100 dollars; and at a distance from it, the price was comparatively less.
As the commerce was originally so limited, and the value of land low, the usury laws were little attended to; and, in fact, there was no occasion for them. In reply to questions on this head, it was stated that five per cent. was the usual interest, and six per cent. for merchants, who had not perhaps such good security to offer.
Torn as this country has been by wars and factions for the last ten years, the individual happiness of the people has been as much abridged as the fineness of the climate and their few wants would permit. The huts of the lower classes are formed of wood and reeds; and those of a better description, of large unburnt bricks (adobe). The doors are frequently formed of hides. The furniture varies little. It is generally comprised in one bed, two stools and an old table. The bed, which is scarcely deserving the name, is occupied by the oldest of the family, and may be called the dying place of the whole family; for, in turn, all occupy it. In my excursions through the
country, I generally found the grandfather or grandmother occupying this situation, which, on death taking place, would be occupied by the next generation. The rest of the family slept on hides thrown on the floor. Large families thus live together in community, and seldom separate from disagreements. The subsistence is confined to animal food; but not in that pure state in which it is consumed at Buenos Ayres. They mix with it pumpkins and Indian corm with large quantities of aji, or Chilian pepper, together with some of the mani (arachis hypogæa), which is considered highly stimulating. Their drink is mostly water and chicha, formed of the grape, by the process of treading out the juice and then boiling it. It forms a pleasant beverage. Wine is not much liked by the lower classes, nor is it in fact of a quality which is likely to extend its consumption. It is at first sweet and turbid, and afterwards becomes sour. The Paraguay tea is in the highest estimation; but its price, twelve reals per pound, puts it out of the reach of many. In smoking, all classes run to excess. The dress of the lower orders is formed of the poncho, and a small hat, under which they frequently tie a handkerchief, the corner of which hangs down
behind. Very few of the lower classes have any pretensions to personal beauty.
The upper ranks of people in the city live in a comfortable manner. Their houses are usually well furnished, and decorated with much gilding. In the sitting room, there is frequently a bed magnificently fitted up, with the sheets trimmed with lace, hanging down on each side. Their dress is in conformity with the English and French fashions, and it is most advantageously displayed on the full and fine figures of the ladies. They are fond of social happiness, and scarcely an evening passes without some balls or concerts taking place. Minuets and Spanish dances are mostly in vogue. The latter are danced with peculiar elegance, and some of the figures, the espejo, or looking glass, for instance, where the gentleman and lady sec each other's eye reflected in their own, are at first scarcely to be danced with common nonchalance. The ladies always dance without gloves. They stand up in the column well muffled up in shawls, until the last moment before dancing, when the gentleman lifts the covering slowly and hands it to the mamma, who is always in attendance to take it. It is replaced the moment the dance is concluded. As
there are few carriages in the city, and as those who attend the balls live generally in adjoining streets, it is usual, when the lateness of the hour marks the period of separation, for the band to march at the head of the retiring party, and stop while the family knock at the door and take leave of their friends and partners, until all the ladies have been escorted home. The nights are so fine that little attention is paid to taking the shortest road home. Music is a favourite study of the ladies of St. Jago; and when the means by which they acquire a knowledge of it are considered, it is quite astonishing that they should gain any proficiency. The mother teaches the eldest daughter to play on an old harpsicord, who in her turn gives instructions to all the younger sisters; of whom there are generally many, as the families are large. As soon as the children are able to comprehend any thing, they are placed at the instrument; and being possessed of excellent abilities and an innate love for the science, they soon acquire a considerable knowledge of it. As the younger children retire early, they have had a first sleep before their presence is required in the drawing room to play to the dancing of their elder sisters; and a few sweetmeats and toys put into their hands by
the cavalleros soon reconcile them to this interruption of their slumbers. No music-master lived at St. Jago.
The language of the Chilians is far superior in pronunciation and elegance to the Spanish spoken on the eastern shore. None of the barbarisms so common in Buenos Ayres are heard at St. Jago. No university exists; but there is a large public school at the institute, where four hundred boys are educated at the public expense. At this institution, the candidates for holy orders are examined and licensed. There are many private schools, in which a moderate degree of instruction may be obtained.
The only public library is that in the institute, under the immediate care of Don Manuel de Salas, a man of much information, which he liberally communicated to others. It consists of several thousand volumes, a proportion of which belonged to the College of the Jesuits, and some MSS.; many of which, relating to the early history of the country, are of a curious and interesting nature. As I had been informed that the library of the monastery of the Augustins contained the other part of the Jesuits' library, I proceeded thither, and paid it several visits before I could meet with the monk who
filled the office of librarian. At last, he fixed a day and hour, and calling upon him, he took a large key, and led the way up a staircase to a room with all the windows closed. Here, certainly, desolation and destruction held their sway. Books were lying tossed over each other, with the leaves open, in every direction. With the reverend Father's assistance, I examined a great proportion of the shelves, but found very little to interest, the books being chiefly on divinity and ecclesiastical law. Several copies of Sanchez de Matrimonio, and of that curious folio of Antonio de Leons, on the question whether chocolate breaks the fast,* and many others of that stamp passed through my hands; but I could find no MS. or books which related to the wars with the Araucanos, or to the natural history of the country. By this time, the library had become filled with monks, who, after they had satisfied their curiosity with looking about the room, and many of them had not seen its interior for years, they began to ask me a number of questions relating to England; about which they seemed quite as well informed, as the generality of English are about Chile. Among other
* La Question moral, Si el Chocolate quebranta el Ayuno.
questions about Ireland, which they were aware was chiefly inhabited by catholics, they enquired whether it was fuera de Ingalaterra, out of England; and when I complained of the cold in the early part of the mornings, they expressed their surprise that a man who came from a country where it always snowed could find Chile cold at any time. As the Abbé Gauri decidedly says in his lectures, that the plains of Chile are so cold, that the inhabitants are forced to shelter themselves in caverns during the winter, I thought the Augustin monk was only taking a fair revenge on the climate of Europe. They concluded, however, by saying, that if there were any books in their library which I wished to consult, although they did not suppose there were, as it had been much plundered during the revolution, I was at full liberty to return as often as I pleased. I visited the convent several times afterwards, but never again saw the library, which contained nothing interesting, and gave trouble to the librarian to open.
Prior to the revolution, all the books published in the Pacific were printed at Lima. As several of them related to Chile, and were written by Jesuits residing in that country, and farther, as all the necessary licenses were only
to be obtained in Peru, I am inclined to believe that no printing press then existed in St. Jago. Since the late events, one press has been established; but it has been chiefly taken up with printing the gazette and political pamphlets, which come out in showers when events give a momentary freedom to the pen. During the latter part of the directorship of D. B. O'Higgins, several publications came out, but, speaking freely, were soon suppressed. No books have been published, excepting some trifling elementary works. Many of the old Spaniards in office had considerable and well chosen libraries. The widow of one gentleman was possessed of a large stock of books, which she sold to any person who might select them. Some few I became possessed of; but a very curious MS. of her husband, relating entirely to Chile, I could never persuade her to dispose of; and I could not get a transcript made of it. The English merchants established in St. Jago, endeavoured to set a literary society on foot; but, as might hare been supposed, it soon fell to the ground. Something of that nature is much wanted; and if a chair of chemistry and mineralogy were established, it would certainly meet with every encouragement from the inhabitants. The predisposition to indolence is not
so great, either in Buenos Ayres or Chile, among the upper classes, as in Spain; the siesta hours being comparatively little attended to.
The influence of religion in this country had always been very considerable; it may be said that it was locked up from the whole world, for there was no direct intercourse with Spain: every thing came from Peru, which was looked up to on every occasion and served as a general model. Perhaps also the dreadful earthquakes which from time to time desolated the country, and in a moment converted whole cities into scenes of mourning and prayer, may have had some effect in keeping the minds of the inhabitants continually fixed on the church, and produced a regularity of attendance there which was constantly preserved under all circumstances. During Lent, long before day, the first service took place in the churches, and to this every female in the city, who could not plead illness as an excuse, attended. They threw on a large cloak, and on their return took a cup of yerba, and then continued their slumbers. The usual dress for attending divine worship is black. When the church bell, at half-past six o'clock in the afternoon (tiempo de oracion) sounds, every one remains quiet—all the carriages and carts stop for two or three
minutes, until the change in the sound gives notice that the prayer is concluded.
From the hitherto slight influx of foreigners into the country, and the innately good disposition of the people, a corruption of manners has not taken place among the higher classes. The union existing between the branches of a family, and the great respect and tenderness shown by children to their parents, are noticed by all foreigners. The kindness and hospitality shown by them on every occasion can hardly be sufficiently praised. It is not this alone which makes all those who have visited Chile so pleased with its inhabitants. With infantine simplicity the ladies have a strength of intellect, accompanied by a greater number of acquirements than are usually met with in any country excepting England, and attained on very limited means. Possessed of great personal charms, and endowed with perfect sweetness of disposition, the ladies of St. Jago have not a few temptations to overcome; but undoubtedly their general character is not to be impeached. To say that a little coquetry exists—to state that the large shawl with which their low dresses are enveloped, frequently wants arranging and drawing closer, by which operation slight glimpses of a fine form may be enjoyed, is not
VOL. I. B B
to call in question that character for delicacy and modesty to which they are so fully entitled. To pretend that no vice exists would be ridiculous, when it is considered that forty or fifty thousand people are living together in the finest climate in the world, where there are few maladies to depress the spirits; but it must be allowed by all, that little comparatively exists among the higher orders of the people.
The lower classes in Chile, like those of most countries, have a larger share of the few defects than good qualities of the superiors. The Huasos are more advanced in civilization than the Gauchos of Buenos Ayres, and have the peculiar vices of it. Instead of allowing their passions to run wild like the last, they are fawning and deceitful; and while every confidence can be put in the one, little or no reliance can be placed in the other. To cheat and go undiscovered is the happiness of a Chileno, while nothing perhaps could irritate him to the commission of murder; yet several instances of robbery attended with that crime have happened in the heart of the city. Many of their crimes may be deduced from the spirit of gambling which is inherent in an extraordinary degree. At cards, at every description of game, and throwing with sticks, the Chileno spends
whole days, and led on from one thing to another, will be sometimes seen taking off the last article of dress to pay for the last unlucky throw. At the corners of the streets there are always some women gelling fruit, and more particularly water-melons; several Huasos are generally seen surrounding them and betting whether the inside is red or white—a fair object of wager—and in a short time nothing but cut melons are left. The large quantities of metal formerly raised and lavished through the country have had some influence no doubt among the better classes. OD the other hand, they are compassionate in an extraordinary degree, and any appearance of distress at once excites their tenderest sympathies, and no pains will be spared in attempts to alleviate it.
They are less indolent than the Buenos Ayrians, and divide various toils with the women which in that country they think beneath their attention. The people are devotedly attached to their country, which they justly think is not to be equalled any where. The spirit of provincialism is strong, more particularly among the females. The porteas (ladies of Buenos Ayres) living in St. Jago, mix little with those of Chile, and even in a ball-room stand together and eye the others disdainfully. It is
B B 2
to be regretted that this feeling exists. Time only can wear it away.
The population of St. Jago has been variously stated; in fact until very lately no census was ever taken in the country which could be depended on. It amounts to about 48,000, and the proportion of females to males is stated to be as 11 to 10. This may be easily explained by the fact of the various expeditions which have sailed for Peru. The population of the whole of the three intendencies of Coquimbo, St. Jago, and Conception, into which Chile is divided, exceeds 600,000; but this excludes the Indians, who in fact form a very trifling number. Of the population of the Araucanos little or nothing is known. The number of slaves in Chile has always been extremely limited, from the soil being in no ways favourable to the production of those articles which have always led the way to the introduction of negroes. This is a circumstance upon which the Chilenos can never rejoice too much. The Congress having declared some years ago that all children born of slaves should be free from that time, no slavery will be found in the country after the lapse of a few years.
On examining a map of Chile one would be led to suspect that the population were of a
denser nature than it is. Towns are thickly built, but what is there called a town would scarcely rank with an European village. All the mining part of the population, which may be rudely estimated at two-fifths, can scarcely be considered in any other light than that of a moving body. As soon as a vein is discovered application is made to the government to work it, an application it may be supposed seldom encountered with a refusal. As soon as this discovery becomes known a number of miners fly to the spot and commence operations; an alcalde is then sent to preserve order; a small church is erected and it becomes a town. If the veins of metal are extensive, a natural influx and increase take place, and the town acquires some extent; but if on the contrary the vein becomes poor, the whole population depart, leaving their reed cabins to the elements, and seek some other district where metal is reported to be plentiful: the existence of their towns is therefore very ephemeral. With regard to an increase in the population, every thing is to be hoped for in the tranquillity of the country and the cessation of the war in Peru, which, however creditable to Chile, has proved an undertaking far beyond her resources.
END OF VOL. I.
London: Printed by C. Roworth,
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