THROUGH FIVE REPUBLICS ON HORSEBACK
BEING AN ACCOUNT OF MANY WANDERINGS IN SOUTH AMERICA
G. WHITFIELD RAY, F. R. G. S. Pioneer Missionary and Government Explorer
With an Introduction by the Rev. J. G. Brown, D. D. Secretary for the Foreign Missions of the Canadian Baptist Church
EVANGELICAL PUBLISHING HOUSE C. HAUSER, Agent CLEVELAND, OHIO, U. S. A. 1915
The Missionary Review of the World has described South America as THE DARKEST LAND. That I have been able to penetrate into part of its unexplored interior, and visit tribes of people hitherto untouched and unknown, was urged as sufficient reason for the publishing of this work. In perils oft, through hunger and thirst and fever, consequent on the many wanderings in unhealthy climes herein recorded, the writer wishes publicly to record his deep thankfulness to Almighty God for His unfailing help. If the accounts are used to stimulate missionary enterprise, and if they give the reader a clearer conception of and fuller sympathy with the conditions and needs of those South American countries, those years of travel will not have been in vain.
"Of the making of books there is no end," so when one is acceptably received, and commands a ready sale, the author is satisfied that his labor is well repaid. The 4th edition was scarcely dry when the Consul-General of the Argentine Republic at Ottawa ordered a large number of copies to send to the members of his Government. Much of it has been translated into German, and I know not what other languages. Even the Catholic Register of Toronto has boosted its sale by printing much in abuse of it, at the same time telling its readers that the book "sold like hot cakes." A wiser editor would have been discreet enough not to refer to "Through Five Republics on Horseback." His readers bought it, and—had their eyes opened, for the statements made in this work, and the authorities quoted, are unanswerable.
Seeing that there is such an alarming ignorance regarding Latin America, I have, for this edition, written an Introductory Chapter on South America, and also a short Foreword especially relating to each of the Five Republics here treated. As my portrayal of Romanism there has caused some discussion, I have, in those pages, sought to incorporate the words of other authorities on South American life and religion.
That the following narratives, now again revised, and sent forth in new garb, may be increasingly helpful in promoting knowledge, is the earnest wish of the author.
G. W. R.
"Through Five Republics on Horseback" has all the elements of a great missionary book. It is written by an author who is an eye-witness of practically all that he records, and one who by his explorations and travels has won for himself the title of the "Livingstone of South America." The scenes depicted by the writer and the glimpses into the social, political and religious conditions prevailing in the Republics in the great Southern continent are of thrilling interest to all lovers of mankind. We doubt if there is another book in print that within the compass of three hundred pages begins to give as much valuable information as is contained in Mr. Ray's volume. The writer wields a facile pen, and every page glows with the passion of a man on fire with zeal for the evangelization of the great "Neglected Continent." We are sure that no one can read this book and be indifferent to the claims of South America upon the Christian Church of this generation.
To those who desire to learn just what the fruits of Romanism as a system are, when left to itself and uninfluenced by Protestantism, this book will prove a real eye-opener. We doubt if any Christian man, after reading "Through Five Republics on Horseback," will any longer conclude that Romanism is good enough for Romanists and that Missions to Roman Catholic countries are an impertinence. We trust the book will awaken a great interest in the evangelization of the Latin Republics of South America.
Of course, this volume will have interest for others besides missionary enthusiasts. Apart from the religious and missionary purpose of the book, it contains very much in the way of geographical, historical and scientific information, and that, too, in regard to a field of which as yet comparatively little is known. The writer has kept an open mind in his extensive travels, and his record abounds in facts of great scientific value.
We have known Mr. Ray for several years and delight to bear testimony to his ability and faithfulness as a preacher and pastor. As a lecturer on his experiences in South America he is unexcelled. We commend "Through Five Republics on Horseback" especially to parents who are anxious to put into the hands of their children inspiring and character-forming reading. A copy of the book ought to be in every Sunday School Library.
J. G. Brown.
626 Confederation Life Building, Toronto.
A PRELIMINARY WORD ON SOUTH AMERICA
The Continent of South America was discovered by Spanish navigators towards the end of the fifteenth century. When the tidings of a new world beyond the seas reached Europe, Spanish and Portuguese expeditions vied with each other in exploring its coasts and sailing up its mighty rivers.
In 1494 the Pope decided that these new lands, which were nearly twice the size of Europe, should become the possession of the monarchs of Spain and Portugal. Thus by right of conquest and gift South America with its seven and a half million miles of territory and its millions of Indian inhabitants was divided between Spain and Portugal. The eastern northern half, now called Brazil, became the possession of the Portuguese crown and the rest of the continent went to the crown of Spain. South America is 4,600 miles from north to south, and its greatest breadth from east to west is 3,500 miles. It is a country of plains and mountains and rivers. The Andean range of mountains is 4,400 miles long. Twelve peaks tower three miles or more above ocean level, and some reach into the sky for more than four miles. Many of these are burning mountains; the volcano of Cotopaxi is three miles higher than Vesuvius. Its rivers are among the longest in the world. The Amazon, Orinoco and La Plata systems drain an area of 3,686,400 square miles. Its plains are almost boundless and its forests limitless. There are deserts where no rain ever falls, and there are stretches of coast line where no day ever passes without rain. It is a country where all climates can be found. As the northern part of the continent is equatorial the greatest degree of heat is there experienced, while the south stretches its length toward the Pole Quito, the capital of Ecuador, is on the equator, and Punta Arenas, in Chile, is the southernmost town in the world.
For hundreds of years Spain and Portugal exploited and ruled with an iron hand their new and vast possessions. Their coffers were enriched by fabulous sums of gold and treasure, for the wildest dream of riches indulged in by its discoverers fell infinitely short of the actual reality. Large numbers of colonists left the Iberian peninsula for the newer and richer lands. Priests, monks and nuns went in every vessel, and the Roman Catholicism of the Dark Ages was soon firmly established as the only religion. The aborigines were compelled to bow before the crucifix and worship Mary until, in a peculiar sense, South America became the Pope's favorite parish. For the benefit of any, native or colonist, who thought that a purer religion should be, at any rate, permitted, the Inquisition was established at Lima, and later on at Cartagena, where, Colombian history informs us, 400,000 were condemned to death. Free thought was soon stamped out when death became the penalty.
Such was the wild state of the country and the power vested in the priests that abuses were tolerated which, even in Rome, had not been dreamed of. The priests, as anxious for spiritual conquest as the rest were for physical, joined hands with the heathenism of the Indians, accepted their gods of wood and stone as saints, set up the crucifix side by side with the images of the sun and moon, formerly worshipped; and while in Europe the sun of the Reformation arose and dispelled the terrible night of religious error and superstition, South America sank from bad to worse. Thus the anomaly presented itself of the old, effete lands throwing off the yoke of religious domination while the younger ones were for centuries to be content with sinking lower and lower. [Footnote: History is repeating itself, for here in Canada we see Quebec more Catholic and intolerant than Italy. The Mayor of Rome dared to criticize the Pope in 1910, but in the same year at the Eucharistic Congress at Montreal his emissaries receive reverent "homage" from those in authority. No wonder, therefore, that, while the Romans are being more enlightened every year, a Quebec young man, who is now a theological student in McMaster University, Toronto, declared, while staying in the writer's home, that, as a child he was always taught that Protestants grew horns on their heads, and that he attained the age of 15 before ever he discovered that such was not the case. Even backward Portugal has had its eyes opened to see that Rome and progress cannot walk together, but the President of Brazil is so "faithful" that the Pope, in 1910, made him a "Knight of the Golden Spur."]
If the religious emancipation of the old world did not find its echo in South America, ideas of freedom from kingly oppression began to take root in the hearts of the people, and before the year 1825 the Spanish colonies had risen against the mother country and had formed themselves into several independent republics, while three years before that the independence of Brazil from Portugal had been declared. At the present day no part of the vast continent is ruled by either Spain or Portugal, but ten independent republics have their different flags and governments.
Since its early discovery South America has been pre-eminently a country of bloodshed. Revolution has succeeded revolution and hundreds of thousands of the bravest have been slain, but, phoenix- like, the country rises from its ashes.
Fifty millions of people now dwell beneath the Southern Cross and speak the Portuguese and Spanish languages, and it is estimated that, with the present rate of increase, 180 millions of people will speak these languages by 1920.
South America is, pre-eminently, the coming continent. It is more thinly settled than any other part of the world. At least six million miles of its territory are suitable for immigrants—double the available territory of the United States. "No other tract of good land exists that is so large and so unoccupied as South America." [Footnote: Dr. Wood, Lima, Peru, in "Protestant Missions in South America."] "One of the most marvellous of activities in the development of virgin lands is in progress. It is greater than that of Siberia, of Australia, or the Canadian North-West." [Footnote: The Outlook, March, 1908.] Emigrants are pouring into the continent from crowded Europe, the old order of things is quickly passing away, and docks and railroads are being built. Bolivia is spending more than fifty million dollars in new work. Argentina and Chile are pushing lines in all directions. Brazil is preparing to penetrate her vast jungles, and all this means enormous expense, for the highest points and most difficult construction that have ever been encountered are found in Peru, and between Chile and Argentina there has been constructed the longest tunnel in the world. [Footnote: One railway ascends to the height of 12,800 feet.]
Most important of all, the old medieval Romanism of the Dark Ages is losing its grip upon the masses, and slowly, but surely, the leaven is working which will, before another decade, bring South America to the forefront of the nations.
The economic possibilities of South America cannot be overestimated. It is a continent of vast and varied possibilities. There are still districts as large as the German Empire entirely unexplored, and tribes of Indians who do not yet know that America has been "discovered."
This is a continent of spiritual need. The Roman Catholic Church has been a miserable failure. "Nearly 7,000,000 of people in South America still adhere, more or less openly, to the fetishisms of their ancestors, while perhaps double that number live altogether beyond the reach of Christian influence, even if we take the word Christian in its widest meaning." [Footnote: Report of Senor F. de Castello] The Rev. W. B. Grubb, a missionary in Paraguay, says: "The greatest unexplored region at present known on earth is there. It contains, as far as we know, 300 distinct Indian nations, speaking 300 distinct languages, and numbering some millions, all in the darkest heathenism." H. W. Brown, in "Latin America," says, "There is a pagan population of four to five millions." Then, with respect to the Roman Catholic population, Rev. T. B. Wood, LL.D., in "Protestant Missions in South America," says, "South America is a pagan field, properly speaking. Its image-worship is idolatry. Abominations are grosser and more universal than among Roman Catholics in Europe and the United States, where Protestantism has greatly modified Catholicism. But it is worse off than any other great pagan field in that it is dominated by a single mighty hierarchy—the mightiest known in history. For centuries priestcraft has had everything its own way all over the continent, and is now at last yielding to outside pressure, but with desperate resistance."
"South America has been for nearly four hundred years part of the parish of the Pope. In contrast with it the north of the New World— Puritan, prosperous, powerful, progressive—presents probably the most remarkable evidence earth affords of the blessings of Protestantism, while the results of Roman Catholicism left to itself are writ large in letters of gloom across the priest-ridden, lax and superstitious South. Her cities, among the gayest and grossest in the world, her ecclesiastics enormously wealthy and strenuously opposed to progress and liberty, South America groans under the tyranny of a priesthood which, in its highest forms, is unillumined by, and incompetent to preach, the gospel of God's free gift; and in its lowest is proverbially and habitually drunken, extortionate and ignorant. The fires of her unspeakable Inquisition still burn in the hearts of her ruling clerics, and although the spirit of the age has in our nineteenth century transformed all her monarchies into free Republics, religious intolerance all but universally prevails." [Footnote: Guiness's "Romanism and Reformation."]
Prelates and priests, monks and nuns exert an influence that is all- pervading. William E. Curtis, United States Commissioner to South America, wrote: "One-fourth of all the property belongs to the bishop. There is a Catholic church for every 150 inhabitants. Ten per cent. of the population are priests, monks or nuns, and 272 out of the 365 days of the year are observed as fast or feast days. The priests control the government and rule the country as absolutely as if the Pope were its king. As a result, 75 per cent. of the children born are illegitimate, and the social and political condition presents a picture of the dark ages." It is said that, in one town, every fourth person you meet is a priest or a nun, or an ecclesiastic of some sort.
Yet, with all this to battle against, the Christian missionary is making his influence felt.
La Razon, an important newspaper of Trujillo, in a recent issue says: "In homage to truth, we make known with pleasure that the ministers of Protestantism have benefited this town more in one year than all the priests and friars of the Papal sect have done in three centuries."
"Last year," writes Mr. Milne, of the American Bible Society, "one of our colporteurs in Ayacucho had to make his escape by the roof of a house where he was staying, from a mob of half-castes, led on by a friar. Finding their prey had escaped, they took his clothes and several boxes of Bibles to the plaza of the city and burnt them."
It was not such a going-back as the outside world thought, but, oh, it was a deeply significant one, when recently the leading men of the Republic of Guatemala met together and solemnly threw over the religion of their fathers, which, during 400 years of practice, had failed to uplift, and re-established the old paganism of cultured Rome. So serious was this step that the Palace of Minerva, the goddess of trade, is engraved on the latest issue of Guatemalan postage stamps. Believing that the few Protestants in the Republic are responsible for the reaction, the Archbishop of Guatemala has promised to grant one hundred days' indulgence to those who will pray for the overthrow of Protestantism in that country.
"Romanism is not Christianity," so the few Christian workers are fighting against tremendous odds. What shall the harvest be?
THE ARGENTINE REPUBLIC
The country to which the author first went as a self-supporting missionary in the year 1889.
And Nature, the old nurse, took The child upon her knee, Saying, "Here is a story book Thy Father hath written for thee."
"Come, wander with me," she said, "Into regions yet untrod, And read what is still unread In the manuscripts of God."
And he wandered away and away With Nature, the dear old nurse, Who sung to him night and day The rhymes of the universe.
THE ARGENTINE REPUBLIC
The Argentine Republic has an area of one and a quarter million square miles. It is 2,600 miles from north to south, and 500 miles at its widest part. It is twelve times the size of Great Britain. Although the population of the country is about seven millions, only one per cent, of its cultivable area is now occupied, yet Argentina has an incomparable climate.
It is essentially a cattle country. She is said to surpass any other nation in her numbers of live stock. The Bovril Co. alone kills 100,000 a year. On its broad plains there are estandas, or cattle ranches, of fifty and one hundred thousand acres in extent, and on these cattle, horses and sheep are herded in millions. Argentina has over twenty-nine million cattle, seventy-seven million sheep, seven and a half million horses, five and a half million mules, a quarter- million of donkeys, and nearly three million swine and three million goats. Four billion dollars of British capital are invested in the country.
Argentina has sixteen thousand miles of railway. This has been comparatively cheap to build. On the flat prairie lands the rails are laid, and there is a length of one hundred and seventy-five miles without a single curve.
Three hundred and fifty thousand square miles of this prairie is specially adapted to the growing of grain. In 1908-9 the yield of wheat was 4,920,000 tons. Argentina has exported over three million tons of wheat, over three million tons of corn, and one million tons of linseed, in one year, while "her flour mills can turn out 700,000 tons of flour a year." [Footnote: Hirst's Argentina, 1910.]
"It is a delight often met with there to look on a field of twenty square miles, with the golden ears standing even and close together, and not a weed nor a stump of a tree nor a stone as big as a man's fist to be seen or found in the whole area."
"To plant and harvest this immense yield the tillers of the ground bought nine million dollars of farm implements in 1908. Argentina's record in material progress rivals Japan's. Argentina astonished the world by conducting, in 1906, a trade valued at five hundred and sixty million dollars, buying and selling more in the markets of foreign nations than Japan, with a population of forty millions, and China, with three hundred millions." [Footnote: John Barrett, in Munsey's Magazine]
To this Land of Promise there is a large immigration. Nearly three hundred thousand have entered in one single year. About two hundred thousand have been going to Buenos Ayres, the capital, alone, but in 1908 nearly five hundred thousand landed there. [Footnote: "Despite the Government's efforts, emigration from Spain to South America takes alarming proportions. In some districts the men of the working classes have departed in a body. In certain villages in the neighborhood of Cadiz there arc whole streets of deserted houses."- Spanish Press.] In Belgium 220 people are crowded into the territory occupied by one person in Argentina, so yet there is room. Albert Hale says: "It is undeniable that Argentina can give lodgment to 100,000,000 people, and can furnish nourishment, at a remarkably cheap rate, for as many more, when her whole area is utilized."
Argentina's schools and universities are the best in the Spanish- speaking world. In Buenos Ayres you will find some of the finest school buildings in the world, while 4,000 students attend one university.
Buenos Ayres, founded in 1580, is to-day the largest city in the world south of the equator, and is "one of the richest and most beautiful places of the world." The broad prairies around the city have made the people "the richest on earth."
Kev. John F. Thompson, for forty-five years a resident of that country, summarizes its characteristics in the following paragraph: "Argentina is a land of plenty; plenty of room and plenty of food. If the actual population were divided into families of ten persons, each would have a farm of eight square miles, with ten horses, fifty- four cows, and one hundred and eighty-six sheep, and after they had eaten their fill of bread they would have half a ton of wheat and corn to sell or send to the hungry nations."
BUENOS AYRES IN 1889.
In the year 1889, after five weeks of ocean tossing, the steamer on which I was a passenger anchored in the River Plate, off Buenos Ayres. Nothing but water and sky was to be seen, for the coast was yet twenty miles away, but the river was too shallow for the steamer to get nearer. Large tugboats came out to us, and passengers and baggage were transhipped into them, and we steamed ten miles nearer the still invisible city. There smaller tugs awaited us and we were again transhipped. Sailing once more toward the land, we soon caught sight of the Argentine capital, but before we could sail nearer the tugs grounded. There we were crowded into flat-bottomed, lug-sailed boats for a third stage of our landward journey. These boats conveyed us to within a mile of the city, when carts, drawn by five horses, met us in the surf and drew us on to the wet, shingly beach. There about twenty men stood, ready to carry the females on their backs on to the dry, sandy shore, where was the customs house. The population of the city we then entered was about six hundred thousand souls.
After changing the little gold I carried for the greasy paper currency of the country, I started out in search of something to eat. Eventually I found myself before a substantial meal. At a table in front of me sat a Scotsman from the same vessel. He had arrived before me (Scotsmen say they are always before the Englishmen) and was devouring part of a leg of mutton. This, he told me, he had procured, to the great amusement of Boniface, by going down on all fours and baa-ing like the sheep of his native hills. Had he waited until I arrived he might have feasted on lamb, for my voice was not so gruff as his. He had unconsciously asked for an old sheep. I think the Highlander in that instance regretted that he had preceded the Englishman.
How shall I describe the metropolis of the Argentine, with its one- storied, flat-roofed houses, each with grated windows and centre patio? Some of the poorer inhabitants raise fowls on the roof, which gives the house a barnyard appearance, while the iron-barred windows below strongly suggest a prison. Strange yet attractive dwellings they are, lime-washed in various colors, the favorite shades seeming to be pink and bottle green. Fires are not used except for cooking purposes, and the little smoke they give out is quickly dispersed by the breezes from the sixty-mile-wide river on which the city stands.
The Buenos Ayres of 1889 was a strange place, with its long, narrow streets, its peculiar stores and many-tongued inhabitants. There is the dark-skinned policeman at the corner of each block sitting silently on his horse, or galloping down the cobbled street at the sound of some revolver, which generally tells of a life gone out. Arriving on the scene he often finds the culprit flown. If he succeeds in riding him down (an action he scruples not to do), he, with great show, and at the sword's point, conducts him to the nearest police station. Unfortunately he often chooses the quiet side streets, where his prisoner may have a chance to buy his freedom. If he pays a few dollars, the poor vigilante is perfectly willing to lose him, after making sometimes the pretence of a struggle to blind the lookers-on, if there be any curious enough to interest themselves. This man in khaki is often "the terror of the innocent, the laughing-stock of the guilty." The poor man or the foreign sailor, if he stagger ever so little, is sure to be "run in." The Argentine law-keeper (?) is provided with both sword and revolver, but receives small remuneration, and as his salary is often tardily paid him, he augments it in this way when he cannot see a good opportunity of turning burglar or something worse on his own account. When he is low in funds he will accost the stranger, begging a cigarette, or inviting himself at your expense to the nearest cafe, as "the day is so unusually hot." After all, we must not blame him too much—his superiors are far from guiltless, and he knows it. When Minister Toso took charge of the Provincial portfolio of Finance, he exclaimed, "C-o! Todos van robando menos yo!" ("Everybody is robbing here except I.") It is public news that President Celman carried away to his private residence in the country a most beautiful and expensive bronze fountain presented by the inhabitants of the city to adorn the principal plaza. [Footnote: Public square.] The president is elected by the people for a term of three years, and invariably retires a rich man, however poor he may have been when entering on his office. The laws of the country may be described as model and Christian, but the carrying out of them is a very different matter.
Some of the laws are excellent and worthy of our imitation, such as, for example, the one which decrees that bachelors shall be taxed. Civil elections are held on Sundays, the voting places being Roman Catholic churches.
Both postmen and telegraph boys deliver on horseback, but such is the lax custom that everything will do to-morrow. That fatal word is the first the stranger learns—maana.
Comparatively few people walk the streets. "No city in the world of equal size and population can compare with Buenos Ayres for the number and extent of its tramways." [Footnote: Turner's "Argentina."] A writer in the Financial News says: "The proportion of the population who daily use street-cars is sixty-six times greater in Buenos Ayres than in the United Kingdom."
This Modern Athens, as the Argentines love to term their city, has a beautiful climate. For perhaps three hundred days out of every year there is a sky above as blue as was ever seen in Naples.
The natives eat only twice a day—at 10.30 a.m., and at 7 p.m.—the common edibles costing but little. I could write much of Buenos Ayres, with its carnicerias, where a leg of mutton may be bought for 20 cts., or a brace of turkeys for 40 cts.; its almacenes, where one may buy a pound of sugar or a yard of cotton, a measure of charcoal (coal is there unknown) or a large sombrero, a package of tobacco (leaves over two feet long) or a pair of white hemp-soled shoes for your feet—all at the same counter. The customer may further obtain a bottle of wine or a bottle of beer (the latter costing four times the price of the former) from the same assistant, who sells at different prices to different customers.
There the value of money is constantly changing, and almost every day prices vary. What to-day costs $20 to-morrow may be $15, or, more likely, $30. Although one hundred and seventy tons of sugar are annually grown in the country, that luxury is decidedly expensive. I have paid from 12 cts. to 30 cts. a pound. Oatmeal, the Scotsman's dish, has cost me up to 50 cts. a pound.
Coming again on to the street you hear the deafening noises of the cow horns blown by the streetcar drivers, or the pescador shrilly inviting housekeepers to buy the repulsive-looking red fish, carried over his shoulder, slung on a thick bamboo. Perhaps you meet a beggar on horseback (for there wishes are horses, and beggars do ride), who piteously whines for help. This steed-riding fraternity all use invariably the same words: "Por el amor de Dios dame un centavo!" ("For the love of God give me a cent.") If you bestow it, he will call on his patron saint to bless you. If you fail to assist him, the curses of all the saints in heaven will fall on your impious head. This often causes such a shudder in the recipient that I have known him to turn back to appease the wrath of the mendicant, and receive instead—a blessing.
It is not an uncommon sight to see a black-robed priest with his hand on a boy's head giving him a benediction that he may be enabled to sell his newspapers or lottery tickets with more celerity.
The National Lottery is a great institution, and hundreds keep themselves poor buying tickets. In one year the lottery has realized the sum of $3,409,143.57. The Government takes forty per cent. of this, and divides the rest between a number of charitable and religious organizations, all, needless to say, being Roman Catholic. Amongst the names appear the following: Poor Sisters of St. Joseph, Workshop of Our Lady, Sisters of St. Anthony, etc.
Little booths for the sale of lottery tickets are erected in the vestibules of some of the churches, and the Government, in this way, repays the church.
The gambling passion is one of Argentina's greatest curses. Tickets are bought by all, from the Senator down to the newsboy who ventures his only dollar.
You meet the water-seller passing down the street with his barrel cart, drawn by three or four horses with tinkling bells, dispensing water to customers at five cents a pail. The poorer classes have no other means of procuring this precious liquid. The water is kept in a corner of the house in large sun-baked jars. A peculiarity of these pots is that they are not made to stand alone, but have to be held up by something.
At early morning and evening the milkman goes his rounds on horseback. The milk he carries in six long, narrow cans, like inverted sugar-loaves, three on each side of his raw-hide saddle, he himself being perched between them on a sheepskin. In some cans he carries pure cream, which the jolting of his horse soon converts into butter. This he lifts out with his hands to any who care to buy. After the addition of a little salt, and the subtraction of a little buttermilk, this manteca is excellent. After serving you he will again mount his horse, but not until his hands have been well wiped on its tail, which almost touches the ground. The other cans of the lechero contain a mixture known to him alone. I never analyzed it, but have remarked a chalky substance in the bottom of my glass. He does not profess to sell pure milk; that you can buy, but, of course, at a higher price, from the pure milk seller. In the cool of the afternoon he will bring round his cows, with bells on their necks and calves dragging behind. The calves are tied to the mothers' tails, and wear a muzzle. At a sh-h from the sidewalk he stops them, and, stooping down, fills your pitcher according to your money. The cows, through being born and bred to a life in the streets, are generally miserable-looking beasts. Strange to add, the one milkman shoes his cows and the other leaves his horse unshod. It is not customary in this country for man's noble friend to wear more than his own natural hoof. A visit to the blacksmith is entertaining. The smith, by means of a short lasso, deftly trips up the animal, and, with its legs securely lashed, the cow must lie on its back while he shoes its upturned hoofs.
Many and varied are the scenes. One is struck by the number of horses, seven and eight often being yoked to one cart, which even then they sometimes find difficult to draw. Some of the streets are very bad, worse than our country lanes, and filled with deep ruts and drains, into which the horses often fall. There the driver will sometimes cruelly leave them, when, after his arm aches in using the whip, he finds the animal cannot rise. For the veriest trifle I have known men to smash the poor dumb brute's eyes out with the stock of the whip, and I have been very near the Police Station more than once when my righteous blood compelled me to interfere. Where, oh, where is the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals? Surely no suffering creatures under the sun cry out louder for mercy than those in Argentina?
As I have said, horses are left to die in the public streets. It has been my painful duty to pass moaning creatures lying helplessly in the road, with broken limbs, under a burning sun, suffering hunger and thirst, for three consecutive days, before kind death, the sufferer's friend, released them. Looking on such sights, seeing every street urchin with coarse laugh and brutal jest jump on such an animal's quivering body, stuff its parched mouth with mud, or poke sticks into its staring eyes, I have cried aloud at the injustice. The policeman and the passers-by have only laughed at me for my pains.
In my experiences in South America I found cruelty to be a marked feature of the people. If the father thrusts his dagger into his enemy, and the mother, in her fits of rage, sticks her hairpin into her maid's body, can it be wondered at if the children inherit cruel natures? How often have I seen a poor horse fall between the shafts of some loaded cart of bricks or sand! Never once have I seen his harness undone and willing hands help him up, as in other civilized lands. No, the lashing of the cruel whip or the knife's point is his only help. If, as some religious writers have said, the horse will be a sharer of Paradise along with man, his master, then those from Buenos Ayres will feed in stalls of silver and have their wounds healed by the clover of eternal kindness. "God is Love."
I have said the streets are full of holes. In justice to the authorities I must mention the fact that sometimes, especially at the crossings, these are filled up. To carry truthfulness still further, however, I must state that more than once I have known them bridged over with the putrefying remains of a horse in the last stages of decomposition. I have seen delicate ladies, attired in Parisian furbelows, lift their dainty skirts, attempt the crossing—and sink in a mass of corruption, full of maggots.
In my description of Buenos Ayres I must not omit to mention the large square, black, open hearses so often seen rapidly drawn through the streets, the driver seeming to travel as quickly as he can. In the centre of the coach is the coffin, made of white wood and covered with black material, fastened on with brass nails. Around this gruesome object sit the relatives and friends of the departed one on their journey to the chacarita, or cemetery, some six miles out from the centre of the city. Cemeteries in Spanish America are divided into three enclosures. There is the "cemetery of heaven," "the cemetery of purgatory," and "the cemetery of hell." The location of the soul in the future is thus seen to be dependent on its location by the priests here. The dead are buried on the day of their death, when possible, or, if not, then early on the following morning; but never, I believe, on feast days. Those periods are set apart for pleasure, and on important saint days banners and flags of all nations are hung across the streets, or adorn the roofs of the flat-topped houses, where the washing is at other times dried.
After attending mass in the early morning on these days, the people give themselves up to revelry and sin at home, or crowd the street- cars running to the parks and suburbs. Many with departed relatives (and who has none?) go to the chacarita, and for a few pesos bargain with the black-robed priest waiting there, to deliver their precious dead out of Purgatory. If he sings the prayer the cost is double, but supposed to be also doubly efficacious. Mothers do not always inspire filial respect in their offspring, for one young man declared that he "wanted to get his mother out of Purgatory before he went in."
A Buenos Ayres missionary writes "There are two large cemeteries here. From early morn until late at night the people crowd into them, and I am told there were 100,000 at one time in one of them. November 1 is a special day for releasing thousands of souls out of Purgatory. We printed thousands of tracts and the workers started out to distribute them. By ten o'clock six of them were in jail, having been given into custody by a 'holy father.' They were detained until six in the evening without food, and then were released through the efforts of a Methodist minister."
The catechisn reads: "Attend mass all Sundays and Feast days. Confess at least once a year, or oftener, if there is any fear of death. Take Sacrament at Easter time. Pay a tenth of first-fruits to God's Church." The fourth commandment is condensed into the words: "Sanctify the Feast days." From this it will be seen that there is great need for mission work. Of course Romanism in this and other cities is losing its old grip upon the people, and because of this the priest is putting forth superhuman effort to retain what he has. La Voz de la Iglesia ("The Voice of the Church"), the organ of the Bishop of Buenos Ayres, has lately published some of the strongest articles we have ever read. A late article concludes: "One thing only, one thing: OBEY; OBEY BLINDLY. Comply with her (the Church's) commands with faithful loyalty. If we do this, it is impossible for Protestantism to invade the flowery camp of the Church, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and Roman."
Articles such as this, however, and the circulation of a tract by one of the leading church presses, are not calculated to help forward a losing cause. The tract referred to is entitled, "Letter of Jesus about the Drops of Blood which He shed whilst He went to Calvary." "You know that the soldiers numbered 150, twenty-five of whom conducted me bound. I received fifty blows on the head and 108 on the breast. I was pulled by the hair 23 times, and 30 persons spat in my face. Those who struck me on the upper part of the body were 6,666, and 100 Jews struck me on the head. I sighed 125 times. The wounds on the head numbered 20; from the crown of thorns, 72; points of thorns on the forehead, 100. The wounds on the body were 100. There came out of my body 28,430 drops of blood." This letter, the tract states, was found in the Holy Sepulchre and is preserved by his holiness the Pope. Intelligent, thinking men can only smile at such an utter absurdity.
An "Echoes from Argentina" extract reads: "Not many months ago, Argentina was blessed by the Pope. Note what has happened since:—The Archbishop, who was the bearer of the blessing and brought it from Rome, has since died very suddenly; we have had a terrible visitation of heat suffocation, hundreds being attacked and very many dying; we have had the bubonic pest in our midst; a bloody provincial revolution in Entre Rios; and now at the time of writing there is an outbreak of a serious cattle disease, and England has closed her ports against Argentine live stock. Of course, we do not say that these calamities are the result of the Pope's blessing, but we would that Catholics would open their eyes and see that it is a fact that whereas Protestant countries, anathematized by the Pope, prosper, Catholic countries which have been blessed by him are in a lamentable condition."
BUENOS AYRES AT THE PRESENT TIME.
Perhaps no city of the world has grown and progressed more during this last decade than the city of Buenos Ayres. To-day passengers land in the centre of the city and step on "the most expensive system of artificial docks in all America, representing an expenditure of seventy million dollars."
To this city there is a large emigration. It has grown at the rate of 4,000 adults a week, with a birthrate of 1,000 a week added. The population is now fast climbing up to 1 1-2 millions of inhabitants. There are 300,000 Italians, 100,000 Spaniards, a colony of 20,000 Britishers, and, of course, Jews and other foreigners in proportion. "Buenos Ayres is one of the most cosmopolitan cities of the world. There are 189 newspapers, printed in almost every language of the globe. Probably the only Syrian newspaper in America, The Assudk, is issued in this city." To keep pace with the rush of newcomers has necessitated the building of 30,000 houses every year. There is here "the finest and costliest structure ever built, used exclusively by one newspaper, the home of La Prensa; the most magnificent opera house of the western hemisphere, erected by the government at the cost of ten million dollars; one of the largest banks in the world, and the handsomest and largest clubhouse in the world." [Footnote: John Barrett, In Munsey's Magazine.] The entrance fee to this club is $1,500. The Y.M.C.A. is now erecting a commodious building, for which $200,000 has already been raised, and there is a Y.W.C.A., with a membership of five hundred. Dr. Clark, in "The Continent of Opportunity," says, "More millionaires live in Buenos Ayres than in any other city of the world of its size. The proportion of well- clothed, well-fed people is greater than in American cities, the slums are smaller, and the submerged classes less in proportion. The constant movement of carriages and automobiles here quite surpasses that of Fifth Avenue." The street cars are of the latest and most improved electric types, equal to any seen in New York or London, and seat one hundred people, inside and out. Besides these there is an excellent service of motor cabs, and tubes are being commenced. Level crossings for the steam roads are not permitted in the city limits, so all trains run over or under the streets.
"The Post Office handles 40,000,000 pieces of mail and 125,000 parcel post packages a month. The city has 1,209 automobiles, 27 theatres and 50 moving picture shows. Five thousand vessels enter the port of Buenos Ayres every year, and the export of meat in 1910 was valued at $31,000,000. No other section of the world shows such growth." [Footnote: C. H. Furlong, in The World's Work.]
The city, once so unhealthy, is now, through proper drainage, "the second healthiest large city of the world." The streets, as I first saw them, were roughly cobbled, now they are asphalt paved, and made into beautiful avenues, such as would grace any capital of the world. Avenida de Mayo, cut right through the old city, is famed as being one of the most costly and beautiful avenues of the world.
On those streets the equestrian milkman is no longer seen. Beautiful sanitary white-tiled tambos, where pure milk and butter are sold, have taken his place. The old has been transformed and PROGRESS is written everywhere.
South America, of all lands, has been most torn asunder by war. Revolutions may be numbered by hundreds, and the slaughter has been incredible. Even since the opening of the year 1900, thirty thousand Colombians have been slain and there have been dozens of revolutions. Darwin relates the fact that in 1832 Argentina underwent fifteen changes of government in nine months, owing to internal strife, and since then Argentina has had its full share.
During my residence in Buenos Ayres there occurred one of those disastrous revolutions which have from time to time shaken the whole Republic. The President, Don Juarez Celman, had long been unpopular, and, the mass of the people being against him, as well as nearly half of the standing army, and all the fleet then anchored in the river, the time was considered ripe to strike a blow.
On the morning of July 26, 1890, the sun rose upon thousands of stern-looking men bivouacking in the streets and public squares of the city. The revolution had commenced, and was led by one of the most distinguished Argentine citizens, General Joseph Mary Campos. The battle-cry of these men was "Sangre! Sangre!" [Footnote: "Blood! Blood!"] The war fiend stalked forth. Trenches were dug in the streets. Guns were placed at every point of vantage. Men mounted their steeds with a careless laugh, while the rising sun shone on their burnished arms, so soon to be stained with blood. Battalions of men marched up and down the streets to the sound of martial music, and the low, flat-roofed housetops were quickly filled with sharpshooters.
The Government House and residence of the President was guarded in all directions by the 2nd Battalion of the Line, the firemen and a detachment of police, but on the river side were four gunboats of the revolutionary party.
The average South American is a man of quick impulses and little thought. The first shot fired by the Government troops was the signal for a fusilade that literally shook the city. Rifle shots cracked, big guns roared, and shells screaming overhead descended in all directions, carrying death and destruction. Street-cars, wagons and cabs were overturned to form barricades. In the narrow, straight streets the carnage was fearful, and blood soon trickled down the watercourses and dyed the pavements. That morning the sun had risen for the last time upon six hundred strong men; it set upon their mangled remains. Six hundred souls! The Argentine soldier knows little of the science of "hide and seek" warfare. When he goes forth to battle, it is to fight—or die. Of the future life he unfortunately thinks little, and of Christ, the world's Redeemer, he seldom or never hears. The Roman Catholic chaplain mumbles a few Latin prayers to them at times, but as the knowledge of these resos does not seem to improve the priest's life, the men prefer to remain in ignorance.
The average Argentine soldier is a man of little intelligence. The regiments are composed of Patagonian Indians or semi-civilized Guaranis, mixed with all classes of criminals from the state prisons. Nature has imprinted upon them the unmistakable marks of the savage— sullen, stupid ferocity, indifference to pain, bestial instincts. As for his fighting qualities, they more resemble those of the tiger than of the cool, brave and trained soldier. When his blood is roused, fighting is with him a matter of blind and indiscriminate carnage of friend or foe. A more villainous-looking horde it would be difficult to find in any army. The splendid accoutrements of the generals and superior officers, and the glittering equipments of their chargers, offer a vivid contrast to the mean and dirty uniforms of the troops.
During the day the whole territory of the Republic was declared to be in a state of siege. Business was at a complete standstill. The stores were all closed, and many of them fortified with the first means that came to hand. Mattresses, doors, furniture, everything was requisitioned, and the greatest excitement prevailed in commercial circles generally. All the gun-makers' shops had soon been cleared of their contents, which were in the hands of the adherents of the revolution.
That evening the news of the insurrection was flashed by "Reuter's" to all parts of the civilized world. The following appeared in one of the largest British dailies:
"BUENOS AYRES, July 27, 5.40 p.m.
"The fighting in the streets between the Government troops and the insurgents has been of the most desperate character.
"The forces of the Government have been defeated.
"The losses in killed and wounded are estimated at 1,000.
"The fleet is in favor of the Revolutionists.
"Government house and the barracks occupied by the Government troops have been bombarded by the insurgent artillery."
That night as I went in and out of the squads of men on the revolutionary side, seeking to do some acts of mercy, I saw many strange and awful sights. There were wounded men who refused to leave the field, although the rain poured. Others were employed in cooking or ravenously eating the dead horses which strewed the streets. Some were lying down to drink the water flowing in the gutters, which water was often tinged with human blood, for the rain was by this time washing away many of the dark spots in the streets. Others lay coiled up in heaps under their soaking ponchos, trying to sleep a little, their arms stacked close at hand. There were men to all appearances fast asleep, standing with their arms in the reins of the horses which had borne them safely through the leaden hail of that day of terror. Numerous were the jokes and loud was the coarse laughter of many who next day would be lying stiff in death, but little thought seemed to be expended on that possibility.
Men looted the stores and feasted, or wantonly destroyed valuables they had no use for. None stopped this havoc, for the officers were quartered in the adjacent houses, themselves holding high revelry. Lawless hordes visited the police offices, threw their furniture into the streets, tore to shreds all the books, papers and records found, and created general havoc. They gorged and cursed, using swords for knives, and lay down in the soaking streets or leaned against the guns to smoke the inevitable cigarillo. A few looked up at the gilded keys of St. Peter adorning the front of the cathedral, perhaps wondering if they would be used to admit them to a better world.
Next day, as I sallied forth to the dismal duty of caring for the dead and dying, the guns of the Argentine fleet [Footnote: British- built vessels of the latest and most approved types.] in the river opposite the city blazed forth upon the quarter held by the Government's loyal troops. One hundred and fifty-four shots were fired, two of the largest gunboats firing three-hundred and six- hundred pounders. Soon every square was a shambles, and the mud oozed with blood. The Buenos Ayres Standard, describing that day of fierce warfare, stated:
"At dawn, the National troops, quartered in the Plaza Libertad, made another desperate attack on the Revolutionary positions in the Plaza Lavalle. The Krupp guns, mitrailleuses and gatlings went off at a terrible rate, and volleys succeeded each other, second for second, from five in the morning till half-past nine. The work of death was fearful, and hundreds of spectators were shot down as they watched from their balconies or housetops. Cannon balls riddled all the houses near the Cinco Esquinas. In the attack on the Plaza Lavalle, three hundred men must have fallen."
"At ten a.m. the white flag of truce was hoisted on both sides, and the dismal work of collecting the dead and wounded began. The ambulances of the Asistencia Publica, the cars of the tram companies and the wagons of the Red Cross were busily engaged all day in carrying away the dead. It is estimated that in the Plaza Lavalle above 600 men were wounded and 300 killed. Considering that the Revolutionists defended an entrenched position, whilst the National troops attacked, we may imagine that the losses of the latter were enormous."
"General Lavalle, commander-in-chief of the National forces, gave orders for a large number of coffins, which were not delivered, as the undertaker wished to be paid cash. It is to be supposed that these coffins were for the dead officers."
"When the white flags were run up, Dr. Del Valle, Senator of the Nation, sent, in the name of the Revolutionary Committee, an ultimatum to the National Government, demanding the immediate dismissal of the President of the Republic and dissolution of Congress. Later on it was known that both parties had agreed on an armistice, to last till mid-day on Monday."
Of the third day's sanguinary fighting, the Standard wrote:
"The Plaza Libertad was taken by General Lavalle at the head of the National troops under the most terrible fire, but the regiments held well together and carried the position in a most gallant manner, confirming the reputation of indomitable valor that the Argentine troops won at the trenches of Curupayti. Our readers may imagine the fire they suffered in the straight streets swept by Krupp guns, gatlings and mitrailleuses, while every housetop was a fortress whence a deadly fire was poured on the heads of the soldiers. Let anybody take the trouble to visit the Calles [Footnote: Streets] Cerrito, Libertad and Talcahuano, the vicinity of the Plazas Parque and Lavalle, and he will be staggered to see how all the houses have been riddled by mitrailleuses and rifle bullets. The passage of cannon balls is marked on the iron frames of windows, smashed frames and demolished balconies of the houses.
"The Miro Palace, in the Plaza Parque, is a sorry picture of wreckage: the 'mirador' is knocked to pieces by balls and shells; the walls are riddled on every side, and nearly all the beautiful Italian balconies and buttresses have been demolished. The firing around the palace must have been fearful, to judge by the utter ruin about, and all the telephone wires dangling over the street in meshes from every house. Ruin and wreckage everywhere.
"By this time the hospitals of the city, the churches and public buildings were filled with the wounded and dying, borne there on stretchers made often of splintered and shattered doors. Nearly a hundred men were taken into the San Francisco convent alone." Yet with all this the lust for blood was not quenched. It could still be written of the fourth day:
"At about half-past two, a sharp attack was made by the Government troops on the Plaza Parque, and a fearful fire was kept up. Hundreds and hundreds fell on both sides, but the Government troops were finally repulsed. People standing at the corners of the streets cheering for the Revolutionists were fired on and many were killed. Bodies of Government troops were stationed at the corners of the streets leading to the Plaza, Large bales of hay had been heaped up to protect them from the deadly fire of the Revolutionists.
"It was at times difficult to remember that heavy slaughter was going on around. In many parts of the city people were chatting, joking and laughing at their doors. The attitude of the foreign population was more serious; they seemed to foresee the heavy responsibilities of the position and to accurately forecast the result of the insurrection.
"The bulletins of the various newspapers during the revolution were purchased by the thousand and perused with the utmost avidity; fancy prices were often paid for them. The Sunday edition of The Standard was sold by enterprising newsboys in the suburbs as high as $3.00 per copy, whilst fifty cents was the regulation price for a momentary peep at our first column."
Towards the close of that memorable 29th of July the hail of bullets ceased, but the insurgent fleet still kept up its destructive bombardment of the Government houses for four hours.
The Revolutionists were defeated, or, as was seriously affirmed, had been sold for the sum of one million Argentine dollars.
"Estamos vendidos!" "Estamos vendidos!" (We are sold! We are sold!) was heard on every hand. Because of this surrender officers broke their swords and men threw away their rifles as they wept with rage. A sergeant exclaimed: "And for this they called us out—to surrender without a struggle! Cowards! Poltroons!" And then with a stern glance around he placed his rifle to his breast and shot himself through the heart. After the cessation of hostilities both sides collected their dead, and the wounded were placed under the care of surgeons, civil as well as military.
Notwithstanding the fact that the insurgents were said to be defeated, the President, Dr. Celman, fled from the city, and the amusing spectacle was seen of men and youths patrolling the streets wearing cards in their hats which read: "Ya se fue el burro" (At last the donkey has gone). A more serious sight, however, was when the effigy of the fleeing President was crucified.
Thus ended the insurrection of 1890, a rising which sent three thousand brave men into eternity.
What changes had taken place in four short days! At the Plaza Libertad the wreckage was most complete. The beautiful partierres were trodden down by horses; the trees had been partially cut down for fuel; pools of blood, remnants of slaughtered animals, offal, refuse everywhere.
Since the glorious days of the British invasion—glorious from an Argentine point of view—Buenos Ayres had never seen its streets turned into barricades and its housetops into fortresses. In times of electoral excitement we had seen electors attack each other in bands many years, but never was organized warfare carried on as during this revolution. The Plaza Parque was occupied by four or five thousand Revolutionary troops; all access to the Plaza was defended by armed groups on the house-tops and barricades in the streets, Krupp guns and that most infernal of modern inventions, the mitrailleuse, swept all the streets, north, south, east and west. The deadly grape swept the streets down to the very river, and not twenty thousand men could have taken the Revolutionary position by storm, except by gutting the houses and piercing the blocks, as Colonel Garmendia proposed, to avoid the awful loss of life suffered in the taking of the Plaza Libertad on Saturday morning.
At the close of the revolution the great city found itself suffering from a quasi-famine. High prices were asked for everything. In some districts provisions could not be obtained even at famine prices. The writer for the first time in his life had to go here and there to beg a loaf of bread for his family's needs.
A reporter of the Argentine News, July 31st of that same year, wrote:
"There is a revolution going on in Rosario. It began on Saturday, when the Revolutionists surprised the Government party, and by one on Sunday most of the Government buildings were in their hands. It is now eight in the morning and the firing is terrible. Volunteers are coming into the town from all parts, so the rebels are bound to win the stronghold shortly. News has just come that the Government troops have surrendered. Four p.m.—I have been out to see the dead and wounded gathered up by the ambulance wagons. I should think the dead are less than a hundred, and the wounded about four times that number. The surprise was so sudden that the victory has been easy and with little loss of life. The Revolutionists are behaving well and not destroying property as they might have done. The whole town is rejoicing; flags of all nations are flying everywhere. The saddest thing about the affair is that some fifty murderers have escaped from the prison. I saw many of them running away when I got upon the spot. The order has been given to recapture them. I trust they may be caught, for we have too many of that class at liberty already. * * * * It is estimated that over 100,000 rounds of ammunition were fired in the two days. * * * The insurgents fed on horse-meat and beef, the former being obtained by killing the horses belonging to the police, the latter from the various dairies, from which the cows were seized."
In 1911 the two largest Dreadnoughts of the world, the Rivadavia and the Moreno, were launched for the Argentine Government. These two battleships are half as powerful again as the largest British Dreadnought.
THE CRIOLLO VILLAGE.
The different centres of trade and commerce in the Argentine can easily be reached by train or river steamer. Rosario, with its 140,000 inhabitants, in the north; Bahia Blanca, where there is the largest wheat elevator in the world, in the south, and Mendoza, at the foot of the Andes, several times destroyed by earthquake, five hundred miles west—all these are more or less like the capital.
To arrive at an isolated village of the interior the traveller must be content to ride, as I did, on horseback, or be willing to jolt along for weeks in a wagon without springs. These carts are drawn by eight, ten, or more bullocks, as the weight warrants, and are provided with two very strong wheels, without tires, and often standing eight and ten feet high. The patient animals, by means of a yoke fastened to their horns with raw-hide, draw these carts through long prairie grass or sinking morass, through swollen rivers or oozing mud, over which malaria hangs in visible forms.
The voyager must be prepared to suffer a little hunger and thirst on the way. He must sleep amongst the baggage in the cart, or on the broader bed of the ground, where snakes and tarantulas creep and the heavy dew saturates one through and through.
As is well known, the bullock is a slow animal, and these never travel more than two or three miles an hour.
Time with the native is no object. The words, "With patience we win heaven," are ever on his lips.
The Argentine countryman is decidedly lazy.
Darwin relates that he asked two men the question: "Why don't you work?" One said: "The days are too long!" Another answered: "I am too poor."
With these people nothing can succeed unless it is begun when the moon is on the increase. The result is that little is accomplished.
You cannot make the driver understand your haste, and the bullocks understand and care still less.
The mosquitoes do their best to eat you up alive, unless your body has already had all the blood sucked out of it, a humiliating, painful and disfiguring process. You must carry with you sufficient food for the journey, or it may happen that, like me, you are only able to shoot a small ring dove, and with its entrails fish out of the muddy stream a monster turtle for the evening meal.
If, on the other hand, you pass a solitary house, they will with pleasure give you a sheep. If you killed one without permission your punishment would perhaps be greater than if you had killed a man.
If a bullock becomes ill on the road, the driver will, with his knife, cut all around the sod where the animal has left its footprint. Lifting this out, he will cut a cross on it and replace it the other side uppermost. This cure is most implicitly believed in and practised.
The making of the cross is supposed to do great wonders, which your guide is never tired of recounting while he drinks his mte in the unbroken stillness of the evening. Alas! the many bleaching bones on the road testify that this, and a hundred other such remedies, are not always effectual, but the mind of the native is so full of superstitious faith that the testimony of his own eyes will not convince him of the absurdity of his belief. As he stoops over the fire you will notice on his breast some trinket or relic—anything will do if blessed by the priest—and that, he assures you, will save him from every unknown and unseen danger in his land voyage. The priest has said it, and he rests satisfied that no lightning stroke will fell him, no lurking panther pounce upon him, nor will he die of thirst or any other evil. I have remarked men of the most cruel, cutthroat description wearing these treasures with zealous care, especially one, of whom it was said that he had killed two wives.
When your driver is young and amorously inclined you will notice that he never starts for the regions beyond without first providing himself with an owl's skin. This tied on his breast, he tells you, will ensure him favor in the eyes of the females he may meet on the road, and on arrival at his destination.
I once witnessed what at first sight appeared to be a heavy fall of snow coming up with the wind from the south. Strange to relate, this phenomenon turned out to be millions of white butterflies of large size. Some of these, when measured, I found to be four and five inches across the wings. Darwin relates his having, in 1832, seen the same sight, when his men exclaimed that it was "snowing butterflies."
The inhabitants of these trackless wilds are very, very few, but in all directions I saw numbers of ostriches, which run at the least sign of man, their enemy. The fastest horse could not outstrip this bird as with wings outstretched he speeds before the hunter. As Job, perhaps the oldest historian of the world, truly says: "What time she lifteth herself up on high, she scorneth the horse and his rider." The male bird joins his spouse in hatching the eggs, sitting on them perhaps longer turns than the female, but the weather is so hot that little brooding is required. I have had them on the shelf of my cupboard for a week, when the little ones have forced their way out Forty days is the time of incubation, so, naturally, those must have been already sat on for thirty-three days. With open wings these giant birds often manage to cover from twenty-five to forty-five eggs, although, I think, they seldom bring out more than twenty. The rest they roll out of the nest, where, soon rotting, they breed innumerable insects, and provide tender food for the coming young. The latter, on arrival, are always reared by the male ostrich, who, not being a model husband, ignominiously drives away the partner of his joys. It might seem that he has some reason for doing this, for the old historian before referred to says: "She is hardened against her young ones as though they were not hers."
As the longest road leads somewhere, the glare of the whitewashed church at last meets your longing gaze on the far horizon. The village churches are always whitewashed, and an old man is frequently employed to strike the hours on the tower bell by guess.
I was much struck by the sameness of the many different interior towns and villages I visited. Each wore the same aspect of indolent repose, and each was built in exact imitation of the other. Each town possesses its plaza, where palms and other semi-tropical plants wave their leaves and send out their perfume.
From the principal city to the meanest village, the streets all bear the same names. In every town you may find a Holy Faith street, a St. John street and a Holy Ghost street, and these streets are shaded by orange, lemon, pomegranate, fig and other trees, the fruit of which is free to all who choose to gather. All streets are in all parts in a most disgraceful condition, and at night beneath the heavy foliage of the trees Egyptian darkness reigns. Except in daylight, it is difficult to walk those wretched roads, where a goat often finds progress a difficulty. Rotten fruit, branches of trees, ashes, etc., all go on the streets. A hole is often bridged over by a putrefying animal, over which run half-naked urchins, pelting each other with oranges or lemons—common as stones. When the highways are left in such a state, is it to be wondered at that, while standing on my own door-step, I have been able to count eleven houses where smallpox was doing its deadly work, all within a radius of one hundred yards?
Even in the city of La Plata, the second of importance in Argentina, I once had the misfortune to fall into an open drain while passing down one of the principal streets. The night was intensely dark, and yet there was no light left there to warn either pedestrian or vehicle-driver, and this sewer was seven feet deep.
Simple rusticity and ignorance are the chief characteristics of the country people. They used to follow and stare at me as though I were a visitor from Mars or some other planet. When I spoke to them in their language they were delighted, and respectfully hung on my words with bared heads. When, however, I told them of electric cars and underground railways, they turned away in incredulity, thinking that such marvels as these could not possibly be.
Old World towns they seem to be. The houses are built of sun-baked mud bricks, kneaded by mares that splash and trample through the oozy substance for hours to mix it well. The poorer people build ranches of long, slender canes or Indian cornstalks tied together by grass and coated with mud. These are all erected around and about the most imposing edifice in the place—the whitewashed adobe church.
All houses are hollow squares. The patio, with its well, is inside this enclosure. Each house is lime-washed in various colors, and all are flat-roofed and provided with grated windows, giving them a prison-like appearance. The window-panes are sometimes made of mica. Over the front doors of some of the better houses are pictures of the Virgin. The nurse's house is designated by having over the doorway a signboard, on which is painted a full-blooming rose, out of the petals of which is peeping a little babe.
If you wish to enter a house, you do not knock at the door (an act that would be considered great rudeness), but clap your hands, and you are most courteously invited to enter. The good woman at once sets to work to serve you with mt, and quickly rolls a cigar, which she hands to you from her mouth, where she has already lighted it by a live ember of charcoal taken from the fire with a spoon. Matches can be bought, but they cost about ten cents a hundred. If you tell the housewife you do not smoke she will stare at you in gaping wonder. Their children use the weed, and I have seen a mother urge her three-year-old boy to whiff at a cigarette.
Bound each dwelling is a ramada, where grapes in their season hang in luxuriant clusters; and each has its own garden, where palms, peaches, figs, oranges, limes, sweet potatoes, tobacco, nuts, garlic, etc., grow luxuriantly. The garden is surrounded by a hedge of cacti or other kindred plants. The prickly pear tree of that family is one of the strangest I have seen. On the leaves, which are an inch or more in thickness, grows the fruit, and I have counted as many as thirteen pears growing on a single leaf. When ripe they are a deep red color, and very sweet to the taste. The skin is thick, and covered with innumerable minute prickles. It is, I believe, a most refreshing and healthful food.
Meat is very cheap. A fine leg of mutton may be bought for the equivalent of twelve cents, and good beef at four cents a pound. Their favorite wine, Lagrimas de San Juan (Tears of Holy John), can be bought for ten cents a quart.
All cooking is done on braziers—a species of three-legged iron bucket in which the charcoal fire is kindled. On this the little kettle, filled from the well in the patio, is boiled for the inevitable mt. About this herb I picked up, from various sources, some interesting information. The mt plant grows chiefly In Paraguay, and is sent down the river in bags made of hides. From the village of Tacurti Pucu in that country comes a strange account of the origin of the yerba mt plant, which runs thus: "God, accompanied by St. John and St. Peter, came down to the earth and commenced to journey. One day, after most difficult travel, they arrived at the house of an old man, father to a virgin young and beautiful. The old man cared so much for this girl, and was so anxious to keep her ever pure and innocent, that they had gone to live in the depths of a forest. The man was very, very poor, but willingly gave his heavenly visitors the best he could, killing in their honor the only hen he possessed, which served for supper. Noting this action, God asked St. Peter and St. John, when they were alone, what they would do if they were Him. They both answered Him that they would largely reward such an unselfish host. Bringing him to their presence, God addressed him in these words: 'Thou who art poor hast been generous, and I will reward thee for it. Thou hast a daughter who is pure and innocent, and whom thou greatly lovest. I will make her immortal, and she shall never disappear from earth.' Then God transformed her into the plant of the yerba mt. Since then the herb exists, and although it is cut down it springs up again." Other stories run that the maiden still lives; for God, instead of turning her into the mt plant, made her mistress of it, and she lives to help all those who make a compact with her, Many men during "Holy week," if near a town, visit the churches of Paraguay and formally promise to dedicate themselves to her worship, to live in the woods and have no other woman. After this vow they go to the forest, taking a paper on which the priest has written their name. This they pin with a thorn on the mt plant, and leave it for her to read. Thus she secures her devotees.
Roman Catholicism is not "Semper Idem," but adapts itself to its surroundings.
Mt is drunk by all, from the babe to the centenarian; by the rich cattle-owner, who drinks it from a chased silver cup through a golden bombilla, to his servant, who is content with a small gourd, which everywhere grows wild, and a tin tube. Tea, as we know it, is only to be bought at the chemist's as a remedy for nerves. In other countries it is said to be bad for nerves.
Each house possesses its private altar, where the saints are kept. That sacred spot is veiled off when possible—if only by hanging in front of it a cow's hide—from the rest of the dwelling. It consists, according to the wealth or piety of the housewife, in expensive crosses, beads, and pictures of saints decked out with costly care; or, it may be, but one soiled lithograph surrounded by paper flowers or cheap baubles of the poorer classes; but all are alike sacred. Everything of value or beauty is collected and put as an offering to these deities—pieces of colored paper, birds' eggs, a rosy tomato or pomegranate, or any colored picture or bright tin. Descending from the ridiculous to the gruesome, I have known a mother scrape and clean the bones of her dead daughter in order that they might be given a place on the altar. Round this venerated spot the goodwife, with her palm-leaf broom, sweeps with assiduous care, and afterwards carefully dusts her crucifix and other devotional objects with her brush of ostrich feathers. Here she kneels in prayer to the different saints. God Himself is never invoked. Saint Anthony interests himself in finding her lost ring, and Saint Roque is a wonderful physician in case of sickness. If she be a maiden Saint Carmen will find her a suitable husband; if a widow, Saint John will be a husband to her; and if an orphan, the sacred heart of the Virgin of Carmen gives balsam to the forlorn one. Saint Joseph protects the artisan, and if a candle is burnt in front of Saint Ramon, he will most obligingly turn away the tempest or the lightning stroke. In all cases one candle at least must be promised these mysterious benefactors, and rash indeed would be the man or woman who failed to burn the candle; some most terrible vengeance would surely overtake him or his family.
God, as I have said, is never invoked. Perhaps He is supposed to sit in solitary grandeur while the saints administer His affairs? These latter are innumerable, and whatever may be their position in the minds of Romanists in other lands, in South America they are distinct and separate gods, and their graven image, picture or carving is worshipped as such.
When religious questions have not arisen, life in those remote villages has passed very pleasantly. The people live in great simplicity, knowing scarcely anything of the outside world and its progress.
At the Feast of St. John the women take sheep and lambs, gaily decorated with colored ribbons, to church with them. That is an act of worship, for the priest puts his hand on each lamb and blesses it. A velorio for the dead, or a dance at a child's death, are generally the only meetings beside the church; but, as the poet says:
"'Tis known, at least it should be, that throughout All countries of the Catholic persuasion, Some weeks before Shrove Tuiesiday comes about, The people take their fill of recreation, And buy repentance ere they grow devout, However high their rank or low their station, With fiddlling, feasting, dancing, drinking, masking, And other things which may be had for asking."
Carnival is a joyous time, and if for only once in the year the quiet town then resounds with mirth. Pails of water are carried up to the flat roofs of the houses, and each unwary pedestrian is in turn deluged. At other times flour is substituted, and on the last day of the feast ashes are thrown on all sides. At other seasons of the year the streets are quiet, and after the rural pursuits of the day are over, the guitar is brought out, and the evening breeze wafts waves of music to each listening ear. The guitar is in all South America what the bag-pipes are to Scotland-the national musical instrument of the people. The Criollo plays mostly plaintive, broken airs—now so low as to be almost inaudible, then high and shrill. Here and there he accompanies the music with snatches of song, telling of an exploit or describing the dark eyes of some lovely maiden. The airs strike one as being very strange, and decidedly unlike the rolling songs of British music.
In those interior towns a very quiet life may be passed, far away from the whistle of the railway engine. Everything is simplicity itself, and it might almost be said of some that time itself seems at a standstill. During the heat of the day the streets are entirely deserted; shops are closed, and all the world is asleep, for that is the siesta time. "They eat their dinners and go to sleep—and could they do better?"
After this the barber draws his chair out to the causeway and shaves or cuts his customer's hair. Women and children sit at their doors drinking mt and watching the slowly drawn bullock-carts go up and down the uneven, unmade roads, bordered, not by the familiar maple, but with huge dust-covered cactus plants, The bullocks all draw with their horns, and the indolent driver sits on the yoke, urging forward his sleepy animals with a poke of his cane, on the end of which he has fastened a sharp nail. The buey is very thick-skinned and would not heed a whip. The wheels of the cart are often cut from a solid piece of wood, and are fastened on with great hardwood pins in a most primitive style. Soon after sunset all retire to their trestle beds.
In early morning the women hurry to mass. The Criollo does not break his fast until nearly mid-day, so they have no early meal to prepare. Even before it is quite light it is difficult to pass along the streets owing to the custom they have of carrying their praying- chairs with them to mass. The rich lady will be followed by her dark- skinned maid bearing a sumptuously upholstered chair on her head. The middle classes carry their own, and the very poor take with them a palm-leaf mat of their own manufacture. When mass is over religion is over for the day. After service they make their way down to the river or pond, carrying on their heads the soiled linen. Standing waist- high in the water, they wash out the stains with black soap of their own manufacture, beating each article with hardwood boards made somewhat like a cricketer's bat. The cloths are then laid on the sand or stones of the shore. The women gossip and smoke until these are dry and ready to carry home again ere the heat becomes too intense.
In a description of Argentine village life, I could not possibly omit the priest, the "all in all" to the native, the temporal and spiritual king, who bears in his hands the destinies of the living and the dead. These men are the potentates of the people, who refer everything to them, from the most trivial matter to the weightier one of the saving of their souls after death. Bigotry and superstition are extreme.
Renous, the naturalist, tells us that he visited one of these towns and left some caterpillars with a girl. These she was to feed until his return, that they might change to butterflies. When this was rumored through the village, priest and governor consulted together and agreed that it must be black heresy. When poor Renous returned some time afterwards he was arrested.
The Argentine village priest is a dangerous enemy to the Protestant. Many is the time he has insulted me to my face, or, more cowardly, charged the school-boys to pelt and annoy me. In the larger towns the priest has defamed me through the press, and when I have answered him also by that means, he has heaped insult upon injury, excluded me from society, and made me a pariah and a byword to the superstitious people. I have been stoned and spat upon, hurled to the ground, had half-wild dogs set on me, and my horse frightened that he might throw me. I have been refused police help, or been called to the office to give an account of myself, all because I was a Protestant, or infidel, as they prefer to term it. At those times great patience was needed, for at the least sign of resistance on my part I should have been attacked by the whole village in one mass. The policeman on the street has looked expectantly on, eager to see me do this, and on one occasion he escorted me to the station for snatching a bottle from the hand of a boy who was in the act of throwing it at my head. Arriving there I was most severely reprimanded, although, fortunately, not imprisoned.
Women have crossed themselves and run from me in terror to seek the holy water bottle blessed by the father. Doors have been shut in my face, and angry voices bade me begone, at the instigation of this black-robed believer in the Virgin. Congregations of worshippers in the dark-aisled church have listened to a fabulous description of my mission and character, until the barber would not cut my hair or the butcher sell me his meat! Many a mother has hurriedly called her children in and precipitately shut the door, that my shadow in passing might not enter and pollute her home. Perhaps a senorita, more venturesome, with her black hair hanging in two long plaits behind each shoulder, has run to her iron-barred window to smile at me, and then penitently fallen before her patron saint imploring forgiveness, or hurried to confess her sin to the wily padre. If the confession was accompanied by a gift, she has been absolved by him; if she were poor, her tear-stained face, perhaps resembling that of the suffering Madonna over the confessional, has moved his heart to tenderness, for well he knows that
"Maidens, like moths, are ever caught by glare, And Mammon wins his way where seraphs might despair."
The punishment imposed has only been that she repeat fifty or a hundred Ave Marias or Paternosters. Poor deluded creature! Her sin only consisted in permitting her black eyes to gaze on me as I passed down the street.
"These poor creatures often go to confession, not to be forgiven the wretched past, but to get a new license to commit sin. One woman, to whom we offered a tract, refused it, and, showing us an indulgence of three hundred days, said: 'These are the papers I like.'"
A young university man in the capital confessed that he had never read the New Testament and never would read it, because he knew it was against the Church of Rome. The mass of the people have not the slightest notion of goodness, as we count piety, and lying is not considered wrong. A native will often entreat the help of his favorite saint to commit a theft.
"To the Protestant the idea of religion without morals is inconceivable; but in South America Romanism divorces morals and religion. It is quite possible to break every command of the Decalogue and yet be a devoted, faithful Romanist." [Footnote: Rev. J. H. La Fetra, in "Protestant Missions in South America"]
I can only describe Roman Catholicism on the South American continent as a species of heathenism. The Church, to gain proselytes, accepted the old gods of the Indians as saints, and we find idolatrous superstition and Catholic display blended together. The most ignorant are invariably the most pious. The more civilized the Criollo becomes, the less he believes in the Church, and the priest in return condemns him to eternal perdition.
"It is not necessary to detail the multitude of pagan superstitions with which the religion of South America is encumbered. It is enough to point out that it does not preach Christ crucified and risen again. It preaches Mary, whom it proclaims from the lips of thousands of lecherous priests to be of perpetual virginity. And it is by its deliberate falsehood and deceit, as well as by its misrepresentation, that the Roman Catholic Church in South America has not only not taught Christianity, but has directly fostered deception and untruth of character." [Footnote: Missions in South America. Robert E. Speer.]
When I desired respectfully to enter a church with bared head and deferential mien, they have followed me to see that I did not steal the trinkets from the saints or desecrate the altar. If I have touched the font of holy water, instead of it purifying me, I have defiled it for their use; and when I have looked at the images of the saints the people have seen them frown at me. After my exit the priest would sprinkle holy water on the spots where I had stood, to drive away "the evil influence."
In those churches one may see an image, with inscription beneath, stating that those who kiss it receive an indulgence for sin and a promise of heaven. When preaching in Parana I inadvertently dropped a word in disparagement of the worship of the Virgin, when, quick as thought, a man dashed towards me with gleaming steel. The Criollo's knife never errs, and one sharp lunge too well completes his task; but an old Paraguayan friend then with me sprang upon him and dashed the knife to the ground, thus leaving my heart's blood warm within me, and not on the pavement. I admired my antagonist for the strength of his convictions—true loyalty he displayed for his goddess, who, however, does not, I am sure, teach her devotees to assassinate those who prefer to put their faith rather in her Divine Son. Had I been killed the priest would on no account have buried me, and would most willingly have absolved the assassin and kept him from the "arm of justice." That arm in those places is very short indeed, for I have myself met dozens of murderers rejoicing in their freedom. Hell is only for Protestants.
On the door of my lodging I found one morning a written paper, well pasted on, which read:
MUERA! VIVA LA VIRGEN CON TODOS LOS SANTOS!
"Die! Live the Virgin and all the Saints!" That paper I took from the door and keep as a souvenir of fanaticism.
The Bible is an utterly unknown book, except to the priests, who forbid its entrance to the houses. It, however, could do little good or harm, for the masses of the people are utterly unlettered. All Protestant literature stolen into the town is invariably gathered and burned by the priest, who would not hesitate also to burn the bringer if he could without fear of some after-enquiry into the matter.
Rome is to-day just what she always was. Her own claim and motto is: Semper idem (Always the same). But for this age of enlightenment her inquisitorial fires would still burn. "Rome's contention is, not that she does not persecute, but only that she does not persecute saints. She punishes heretics—a very different thing. In the Rhemish New Testament there is a note on the words, 'drunken with the blood of saints,' which runs as follows: 'Protestants foolishly expound this of Rome because heretics are there put to death. But their blood is not called the blood of saints, any more than the blood of thieves or man-killers, or other malefactors; and for the shedding of it no commonwealth shall give account.'"
During my residence in Argentina a Jesuit priest in Cordoba publicly stated that if he had his way he would burn to death every Protestant in the country.
The following statements are from authorized documents, laws and decrees of the Papacy:
"The papacy teaches all her adherents that it is a sacred duty to exterminate heresy.
"Urban II. issued a decree that the murder of heretics was excusable. 'We do not count them murderers who, burning with the zeal of their Catholic mother against the excommunicate, may happen to have slain some of them.'" [Footnote: "Romanism and Reformation."]
In Argentine life the almanac plays an important part; in that each day is dedicated to the commemoration of some saint, and the child born must of necessity be named after the saint on whose day he or she arrives into the world. The first question is, "What name does it bring?" The baby may have chosen to come at a time when the calendar shows an undesirable name, still the parents grumble not, for a saint is a saint, and whatever names they bear must be good. The child is, therefore, christened "Caraciollo," or "John Baptist," when, instead of growing up to be a forerunner of Christ, he or she may, with more likelihood, be a forerunner of the devil. Whatever name a child brings, however, has Mary tacked on to it.
All names serve equally well for male or female children, as a concluding "o" or "a" serves to distinguish the sex. Many men bear the name of Joseph Mary. Numbers, also, both male and female, have been baptized by the name of "Jesus," "Saviour," or "Redeemer." If I were asked the old question, "What's in a name?" I should answer, "Very little," for in South America the most insolent thief will often boast in the appellation of Don Justice, and the lowest girl in the village may be Seorita Celestial. Don Jesus may be found incarcerated for riotous conduct, and I have known Don Saviour throw his unfortunate wife and children down a well; Don Destroyer would have been a more appropriate name for him. Mrs. Angel her husband sometimes finds not such an angel after all, when she puts poison into his mt cup, a not infrequent occurrence. Let none be deceived in thinking that the appellation is any index to a man's character.
Dark, needy people—Rome's true children!
The school-books read: Which is the greatest country? Ans., Spain. Who is the greatest man? Ans., The Pope. Why? Because he is infallible.
It is his wish, and the priest's duty, to keep them in this darkness. Yet,—One came from God, "a light to lighten the Gentiles," and He said, "I am the Light of the world." Some day they may hear of Him and themselves see the Light.
Already the day is breaking, and superstition must prepare to hide itself. The uneducated native no longer pursues the railway train at thundering pace to lasso it because the priest raved against its being built. He even in some cases doubts if it is "an invention of hell," as he was taught.
The educated native, Alberdi, a publicist and an advocate of freedom, in the discussion over religious rights of foreigners in the Argentine, wrote: "Spanish America reduced to Catholicism, with the exclusion of any other cult, represents a solitary and silent convent of monks. The dilemma is fatal,—either Catholics and unpopulated, or populated and prosperous and tolerant in the matter of religion."
TEE PRAIRIE AND ITS INHABITANTS.
The Pampas, or prairie lands of the Argentine, stretch to the south and west of Buenos Ayres, and cover some 800,000 square miles. On this vast level plain, watered by sluggish streams or shallow lakes, boundless as the ocean, seemingly limitless in extent, there is an exhilarating air and a rich herbage on which browse countless herds of cattle, horses, and flocks of sheep. The grass grows tall, and miles upon miles of rich scarlet, white, or yellow flowers mingle with or overtop it. Beds of thistles, in which the cattle completely hide themselves, stretch away for leagues and leagues, and present an almost unbroken sheet of purple flowers. So vast are these thistle- beds that a day's ride through them only leaves the traveller with the same purple forest stretching away to the horizon. The florist would be enchanted to see whole tracts of land covered by the Verbena Melindres, which appears, even long before you reach it, to be of a bright scarlet. There are also acres and acres of the many- flowered camomile and numberless other plants; while large tracts of low-lying land are covered with coarse pampa grass, affording shelter for numberless deer, and many varieties of ducks, cranes, flamingoes, swans and turkeys. Wood there is none, with the exception of a solitary tree here and there at great distances, generally marking the site of some cattle establishment OP estancia. An omb, or cluster of blue gums, is certain to be planted there.
On this prairie, man, notwithstanding the fact that he is the "lord of creation," is decidedly in the minority. Millions of four-footed animals roam the plains, but he may be counted by hundreds. Let us turn to him, however, in his isolated home, for the Gaucho has been described as one of the most interesting races on the face of the earth. A descendant of the old conquerors, who, leaving their fair ones in the Spanish peninsula, took unto them as wives the unclothed women of the new world, he inherits the color and habits of the one with the vices and dignity of the other. Living the wild, free life of the Indian, and retaining the language of Spain; the finest horseman of the world, and perhaps the worst assassin; the most open- handed and hospitable, yet the accomplished purloiner of his neighbor's cattle; imitating the Spaniard in the beautifully-chased silver trappings of his horse, and the untutored Indian in his miserable adobe hovel; spending his whole wealth in heavy gold or silver bell-shaped stirrups, bridle, or spurs (the rowel of the latter sometimes having a diameter of six inches), and leaving his home destitute of the veriest necessities of life—such is the Gaucho. A horn or shell from the river's bed makes his spoon, gourds provide him with his plates and dishes; but his knife, with gold or silver handle and sheath, is almost a little fortune in itself. Content in his dwelling to sit on a bullock's skull, on horseback his saddle must be mounted in silver. His own beard and hair he seldom trims, but his horse's mane and tail must be assiduously tended. The baked-mud floor of his abode is littered with filth and dirt, while he raves at a speck of mud on his embroidered silk saddle-cloth.
The Gaucho is a strange contradiction. He has blushed at my good but plain-looking saddle, yet courteously asked me to take a skull seat. He may possess five hundred horses, but you search his kitchen in vain for a plate. If you please him he will present you with his best horse, waving away your thanks. If you displease him, his long knife will just as readily find its way to your heart, for he kills his enemies with as little compunction as he kills the ostrich. "The Gaucho, with his proud and dissolute air, is the most unique of all South American characters. He is courageous and cruel, active and tireless. Never more at ease than when on the wildest horse; on the ground, out of his element. His politeness is excessive, his nature fierce." The children do not, like ours, play with toys, but delight the parents' hearts by teasing a cat or dog. These they will stick with a thorn or pointed bone to hear them yell, or, later on, lasso and half choke them. "They will put out their eyes, and such like childish games, innocent little darlings that they are." Cold-blooded torture is their delight, and they will cheer at the sight of blood.
To describe the dress of this descendant of Adam I feel myself incapable. A shirt and a big slouch hat seem to be the only articles of attire like ours. Coat, trousers or shoes he does not wear. Instead of the first mentioned, he uses the poncho, a long, broad blanket, with a slit in the centre to admit his head. For trousers he wears very wide white drawers, richly embroidered with broad needlework and stiffly starched. Over these he puts a black chirip, which really I cannot describe other than as similar to the napkins the mother provides for her child. Below this black and white leg covering come the long boots, made from one piece of seamless hide. These boots are nothing more than the skin from the hind legs of an animal—generally a full-grown horse. The bend of the horse's leg makes the boot's heel. Naturally the toes protrude, and this is not sewn up, for the Gaucho never puts more than his big toe in the stirrup, which, like the bit in his horse's mouth, must be of solid silver. A dandy will beautifully scallop these rawhide boots around the tops and toes, and keep them soft with an occasional application of grease. No heel is ever attached. Around the man's waist, holding up his drawers and chiripa, is wound a long colored belt, with tasseled ends left hanging over his boot, down the right side; and over that he invariably wears a broad skin belt, clasped at the front with silver and adorned all around with gold or silver coins. In this the long knife is carried.
What shall I say of the domestic life of these people? Unfortunately, marriage is practically unknown among them. The father gives his son a few cattle, and the young man, after building himself a house, conducts thither his chosen one. Unhappily, constancy in either man or woman is a rare virtue.
Of the superstitious side of the Gancho race I might speak much. In the saints the female especially implicitly believes. These, her deities, are all-powerful, and to them she appeals for the satisfaction of her every desire. Saint Clementina's help is sought by the girl when her lover betrays her. Another saint will aid her in poisoning him. If the wife thinks her husband long in bringing the evening meal, she has informed me, a word with Saint Anthony is sufficient, and she hears the sound of his horse's hoofs. Saint Anthony seems to be useful on many occasions of distress. One evening I called at a rancho made of dry thistle-stalks bound together with hide and thatched with reeds, Finding the inmates very hospitable, I stayed there two or three hours to rest. Coming out of the house again, I found to my dismay that during our animated gossip my horse had broken loose and left me. Now the loss of a horse is too trivial a matter to interest Anthony the saint, but a horse having saddle and bridle attached to him makes it quite a different matter, for these often cost ten times the price of the horse. One of the saint's especial duties is to find a lost saddled horse, if the owner or interested one only promises to burn a candle in his honor. The night was very dark, and no sign of the animal was to be seen. Mine host laid his ear to the ground and listened, then, leaping on his horse, he galloped into the darkness, from whence he brought my lost animal. I did not learn until afterwards that Mrs. Jesus, for such was the woman's name, had sought the help of Saint Anthony on my behalf. I am sure she lost her previous good opinion of me when I thanked her husband but did not offer a special colored candle to her saint.