ON THE COAST, IN THE SIERRA, ACROSS THE CORDILLERAS AND THE ANDES, INTO THE PRIMEVAL FORESTS.
BY DR. J. J. VON TSCHUDI.
TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN
BY THOMASINA ROSS.
NEW EDITION, COMPLETE IN ONE VOLUME.
NEW YORK: A. S. BARNES & CO., 51 JOHN-STREET. CINCINNATI: H. W. DERBY. 1854.
The Work from which the present Volume is translated consists of extracts from the Author's Journal, accompanied by his recollections and observations. The absence of chronological arrangement will be sufficiently accounted for, when it is explained that the zoological investigations for which the journey was undertaken frequently required the Author to make repeated visits to one particular place or district, or to remain for a considerable time within the narrow circuit of a few miles; and sometimes to travel rapidly over vast tracts of country. Disclaiming any intention of making one of those travelling romances, with which the tourist literature of the day is overstocked, the Author has confined himself to a plain description of facts and things as they came within the sphere of his own observation. But though Dr. Tschudi lays claim to no merit beyond the truthfulness of his narrative, yet the reader will no doubt readily concede to him the merit of extensive information, and happy descriptive talent. His pictures of Nature, especially those relating to the animal world, are frequently imbued with much of the charm of thought and style which characterizes the writings of Buffon.
Lima, the oldest and most interesting of the cities founded by the Spaniards on the western coast of South America, has been frequently described; but no previous writer has painted so animated a picture of the city and its inhabitants, as that contained in the following volume. After quitting the capital of Peru, Dr. Tschudi went over ground previously untrodden by any European traveller. He visited the Western Sierra, the mighty chain of the Cordilleras, the boundless level heights, the deep mountain valleys on the eastern declivity of the Andes, and the vast primeval forests. Whilst recounting his wanderings in these distant regions, he describes not only the country and the people, but every object of novelty and interest in the animal, vegetable, and mineral creations.
Those lovers of Natural History who are familiar with the German language, and who may wish to make themselves extensively acquainted with the animal world, in those parts of Peru visited by Dr. Tschudi, will find abundant information on the subject in his work, with plates, entitled "Untersuchungen ueber die Fauna Peruana." The present Publication, though containing a vast deal to interest the naturalist, is addressed to the general reader, and will, it is presumed, gratify curiosity respecting the highly interesting and little known regions to which it relates. It may fairly be said that no previous writer has given so comprehensive a picture of Peru; combining, with animated sketches of life and manners, a fund of valuable information on Natural History and Commerce.
CHAPTER I. PAGE
Embarkation at Havre—The Voyage—Arrival at the Island of Chiloe—Landing—The Gyr-Falcon—Punta Arena—The Island of Chiloe described—Climate and Cultivation—Cattle—The Bay—San Carlos—The Governor's House—Poverty and Wretchedness of the Inhabitants of the Town—Strange method of Ploughing—Coasting Vessels—Smuggling—Zoology—Departure from Chiloe 1
Valparaiso and the adjacent country—The Bay—Aspect of the Town—Lighthouses—Forts—Custom House—Exchange—Hotels and Taverns—War with the Peru-Bolivian Confederation—First Expedition—Preparations for the Second Expedition—Embarkation of the Troops—Close of the Port—July Festival in honor of the French Revolution—The Muele, or Mole—Police—Serenos, or Watchmen—Movable Prisons—Clubs—Trade of Valparaiso—Santiago—Zoology 15
Juan Fernandez—Robinson Crusoe—Passage to Callao—San Lorenzo—Rise and fall of the coast—Mr. Darwin's opinions on this subject—Callao—The Fortress—Siege by the Spaniards—General Rodil—Siege by the Chilians—The Colocolo—Pirates—Zoology—Road to Lima 26
Lima—Situation and extent of the City—Streets, Houses, Churches and Convents—San Pedro—The Jesuits—Nunneries—Beatarios—Hospitals—San Andres—The Foundling House—The Pantheon—The Palace—The Plaza Mayor—Pizarro—The Cabildo—Fountains—Palace of the Inquisition—The University—National Library—Museum of Natural History and Antiquities—Academy of Design—The Mint—The Theatre—Circus for Cock-fighting—The Bridge—The City Wall—Santa Catalina—Barracks 42
Population of Lima—Its diminution—Different races of the Inhabitants—Their characteristics—Amusements—Education—The Women of Lima—Their Costume—the Saya y Manto—Female domestic life—Love of dress—Beatas—Indians—Slaves—Bosales—Free Creoles—Negroes—Negresses—Black Creoles—Their varieties—Mestizos—Mulattoes—Pelanganas—Zambos—Chinos—Foreigners in Lima—Corruption of the Spanish language 63
Primary Schools—Colleges—The University—Monks—Saints—Santo Toribio and Santa Rosa—Religious Processions—Raising the Host—The Noche Buena—The Carnival—Paseos, or Public Promenades—Ice—Riding and Driving—Horses—Their Equipments and Training—Mules—Lottery in Lima—Cookery—Breakfasts, Dinners, &c.—Coffee-houses and Restaurants—Markets—The Plazo Firme del Acho—Bull Fights 89
Geographical Situation of Lima—Height above Sea level—Temperature—Diseases—Statistical Tables of Births and Deaths—Earthquakes—The Valley of Lima—The River Rimac—Aqueducts, Trenches, &c.—Irrigation—Plantations—Cotton—Sugar—Various kinds of Grain—Maize—Potatoes, and other tuberous roots—Pulse—Cabbage—Plants used for Seasoning—Clover—The Olive and other Oil Trees—Fruits—Figs and Grapes—The Chirimoya—The Palta—The Banana and other Fruits 111
Robbers on the coast of Peru—The Bandit Leaders Leon and Rayo—The Corps of Montoneros—Watering Places near Lima—Surco, Atte and Lurin—Pacchacamac—Ruins of the Temple of the Sun—Difficulties of Travelling on the Coast of Peru—Sea Passage to Huacho—Indian Canoes—Ichthyological Collections—An old Spaniard's recollections of Alexander Von Humboldt—The Padre Requena—Huacho—Plundering of Burial Places—Huaura—Malaria—The Sugar Plantation at Luhmayo—Quipico—Ancient Peruvian Ruins—The Salinas, or Salt Pits—Gritalobos—Chancay—The Piques—Mode of extracting them—Valley of the Pasamayo—Extraordinary Atmospheric Mirrors—Piedras Gordas—Palo Seco 137
The Coast southward of Lima—Chilca—Curious Cigar cases made there—Yauyos—Pisco—Journey to Yea—A night on the Sand Plains—Fatal Catastrophe in the year 1823—Vine Plantations at Yea—Brandy and Wine—Don Domingo Elias—Vessels for transporting Brandy (Botijas and Odres)—Cruel mode of skinning Goats—Negro Carnival—Peculiar species of Guinea Pig—The Salamanqueja—Cotton Plantations—Quebrada of Huaitara—Sangallan—Guano—Retrospect of the Peruvian Coast—Rivers—Medanos—Winds—Change of Seasons—The Garuas—The Lomas—Mammalia—Birds—Amphibia 160
Roads leading to the Sierra—Chaclacayo and Santa Ines—Barometrical observations—San Pedro Mama—The Rio Seco—Extraordinary Geological Phenomenon—Similar one described by Mr. Darwin—Surco—Diseases peculiar to the Villages of Peru—The Verugas—Indian mode of treating the disorder—The Bird-catching Spider—Horse-Shoeing—Indian Tambos—San Juan de Matucanas—The Thorn-apple and the Tonga—The Tambo de Viso—Bridges—San Mateo—Passports—Acchahuari—Malady called the Veta—Its effects on horses—Singular tact and caution of Mules—Antarangra and Mountain Passes—Curious partition of Water—Piedra Parada—Yauli—Indian Smelting Furnaces—Mineral Springs—Portuguese Mine owners—Saco—Oroya—Hanging Bridges—Huaros—Roads leading from Oroya 179
The Cordillera and the Andes—Signification of the terms—Altitude of the Mountains and Passes—Lakes—Metals—Aspect of the Cordillera—Shattered Rocks—Maladies caused by the diminished Atmospheric Pressure—The Veta and the Surumpe—Mountain Storms—The Condor—Its habits—Indian mode of Catching the Bird—The Puna or Despoblado—Climate—Currents of Warm Air—Vegetation—Tuberous Plant called the Maca—Animals of the Puna—The Llama, the Alpaco, the Huanacu and the Vicuna—The Chacu and the Bolas—Household Utensils of the Ancient Peruvians—The Viscacha and the Chinchilla—Puna Birds and Amphibia—Cattle and Pasture—Indian Farms—Shepherds' Huts—Ancient Peruvian Roads and Buildings—Treasure concealed by the Indians in the Puna 203
Cerro de Pasco—First discovery of the Mines—Careless mode of working them—Mine Owners and Mine Laborers—Amalgamating and Refining—Produce of the Mines—Life in Cerro de Pasco—Different Classes of the Population—Gaming and Drunkenness—Extravagance and Improvidence of the Indian Mine Laborers—The Cerro de San Fernando—Other Important Mining Districts in Peru—The Salcedo Mine Castrovireyna—Vast Productiveness of the Silver Mines of Peru—Rich Mines secretly known to the Indians—Roads leading from Cerro de Pasco—The Laguna of Chinchaycocha—Battle of Junin—Indian Robbers—A Day and a Night in the Puna Wilds 229
The Sierra—Its Climate and Productions—Inhabitants—Trade—Eggs circulated as money—Mestizos in the Sierra—Their Idleness and Love of Gaming and Betting—Agriculture—The Quinua Plant, a substitute for Potatoes—Growth of Vegetables and Fruits in the Sierra—Rural Festivals at the Seasons of Sowing and Reaping—Skill of the Indians in various Handicrafts—Excess of Brandy-Drinking—Chicha—Disgusting mode of making it—Festivals of Saints—Dances and Bull-Fights—Celebration of Christmas-Day, New-Year's Day, Palm Sunday, and Good Friday—Contributions levied on the Indians—Tardy and Irregular Transmission of Letters—Trade in Mules—General Style of Building in the Towns and Villages of the Sierra—Ceja de la Montana 253
Road to the Primeval Forests—Barbacoas, or Indian Suspension Bridges—Vegetation—Hollow Passes—Zoology—the Montana Plantations—Inhabitants—Trade in Peruvian Bark—Wandering Indians—Wild Indians or Indios Braves—Languages, Manners, and Customs of the Indios Bravos—Dress—Warlike Weapons and Hunting Arms—Dwellings—Religion—Physical formation of the Wild Indian Tribes—Animals of the Aboriginal Forests—Mammalia—Hunting the Ounce—Birds—Amphibia—Poisonous Serpents—Huaco—Insects—Plants 271
Montana of San Carlos de Vitoc—Villages—Hacienda of Maraynioc—the Coca Plant—Mode of Cultivating and Gathering it—Mastication of Coca—Evil Consequences of its excessive Use—Its Nutritious Qualities—Indian Superstitions connected with the Coca Plant—Suggestions for its Introduction in the European Navies—Fabulous animal called the Carbunculo—The Chunchos—Missions to Cerro de la Sal—Juan Santos Atahuallpa—The Franciscan Monks—Depopulation of Vitoc 309
Oppressions exercised by the Spaniards upon the Peruvian Indians—The Repartimiento and the Mita—Indian Insurrections—Tupac Amaru—His Capture and Execution—War of Independence—Character of the Peruvian Indians—Music—Dress—Superstitions—Longevity—Diminished Population of Peru—Languages spoken by the Aboriginal Inhabitants—Specimen of Quichua Poetry—The Yaravies—The Quipu—Water Conduits—Ancient Buildings—Fortresses—Idols—Domestic Utensils—Ancient Peruvian Graves—Mode of Burying the Dead—Mummies 329
TRAVELS IN PERU.
Embarkation at Havre—The Voyage—Arrival at the Island of Chiloe—Landing—The Gyr-Falcon—Punta Arena—The Island of Chiloe described—Climate and Cultivation—Cattle—The Bay—San Carlos—The Governor's House—Poverty and Wretchedness of the Inhabitants of the Town—Strange method of Ploughing—Coasting Vessels—Smuggling—Zoology—Departure from Chiloe.
On the 27th of February, 1838, I sailed from Havre-de-Grace on board the "Edmond." This vessel, though a French merchantman, was freighted with a cargo of Swiss manufactured goods, suited to any commercial transactions which might be entered into in the course of a circumnavigatory voyage. It was a boisterous morning. A fall of snow and heavy clouds soon intercepted our view of the coast of France, and not one cheering sunbeam shone out to betoken for us a favorable voyage. We passed down the British Channel, where the multitude of vessels, and the flags of all nations, presented an enlivening picture, and we finally cleared it on the 5th of March. Favored by a brisk north wind, we soon reached Madeira and came in sight of Teneriffe, the peak being just perceptible on the skirt of the horizon. Easterly breezes soon brought us to the island of Fogo, which, having passed on the 35th day of our voyage, we received the usual marine baptism, and participated in all the ceremonies observed on crossing the equator. We soon reached the tropic of Capricorn, and endeavored to gain the channel between the Falkland Islands and Patagonia; but unfavorable winds obliged us to direct our course eastwards, from the Island of Soledad to the Staten Islands. On the 3d of March we made the longitude of Cape Horn, but were not able to double it until we got into the 60th degree of south latitude. In those dangerous waters, where it is admitted by the boldest English sailors that the waves rage more furiously than in any other part of the world, we encountered great risk and difficulty. For twenty-two days we were driven about on the fearfully agitated sea, southward of Tierra del Fuego, and were only saved from being buried in the deep, by the excellent build and soundness of our ship.
We suffered much, and were long delayed by this storm; but when it subsided, a smart breeze sprang up from the southward, and we held our course along the Pacific to the coast of Chile. After a voyage of 99 days we cast anchor on Sunday the 5th of June, in the Bay of San Carlos. Like the day of our departure from Europe, that of our arrival off Chiloe was gloomy and overcast. Heavy clouds obscured the long-looked-for island, and its picturesque shore could only be seen, when, at intervals, the wind dispersed the dark atmospheric veil. We had no sooner cast anchor than several boats came alongside rowed by Indians, who offered us potatoes, cabbage, fish, and water, in exchange for tobacco. Only those who have been long at sea can form an idea of the gratification which fresh provisions, especially vegetables, afford to the weary voyager. In a couple of hours, the harbor-master came on board to examine the ship, the cargo, &c., and to give us permission to go ashore. The long-boat being got out, and well manned, we stepped into it, and were conveyed to the harbor. The Bay of San Carlos being shallow, large ships, or vessels, heavily laden, are obliged to go three English miles or more from the landing-place before they can anchor. Our boat was gaily decorated and newly painted; but this was mere outside show, for it was in a very unsound condition. During our passage through the tropics, the sun had melted the pitch between the planks of the boat, which lay on the deck keel uppermost. In this crazy boat, we had scarcely got a quarter of a league from the ship, when the water rushed in so forcibly through all the cracks and fissures, that it was soon more than ankle deep. Unluckily the sailors had forgotten to put on board a bucket or anything for baling out the water, so that we were obliged to use our hats and boots for that purpose. Fourteen persons were crowded together in this leaky boat, and the water continued rising, until at length we began to be seriously apprehensive for our safety, when, fortunately, our situation was observed by the people on shore. They promptly prepared to send out a boat to our assistance, but just as it was got afloat, we succeeded in reaching the pier, happy once more to set our feet on terra firma.
Our first business was to seek shelter and refreshment. There is no tavern in San Carlos, but there is a sort of substitute for one, kept by an old Corsican, named Filippi, where captains of ships usually take up their quarters. Filippi, who recognized an old acquaintance in one of our party, received us very kindly, and showed us to apartments which certainly had no claim to the merits of either cleanliness or convenience. They were long, dark, quadrangular rooms, without windows, and were destitute of any article of furniture, except a bed in a kind of recess.
As soon as I got on shore, I saw a multitude of small birds of prey. They keep in flocks, like our sparrows, hopping about everywhere, and perching on the hedges and house-tops. I anxiously wished for an opportunity to make myself better acquainted with one of them. Presuming that shooting in the town might be displeasing to the inhabitants, who would naturally claim to themselves a sort of exclusive sporting right, I took my gun down to the sea-shore, and there shot one of the birds. It belonged to the Gyr-Falcon family (Polyboriniae), and was one of the species peculiar to South America (Polyborus chimango, Vieil). The whole of the upper part of the body is brown, but single feathers here and there have a whitish-brown edge. On the tail are several indistinct oblique stripes. The under-part of the body is whitish-brown, and is also marked with transverse stripes feebly defined. The bird I shot measured from the point of the beak to the end of the tail 1 foot 6-1/2 inches. Though these Gyr-Falcons live socially together, yet they are very greedy and contentious about their prey. They snap up, as food, all the offal thrown out of doors; and thus they render themselves serviceable to the inhabitants, who consequently do not destroy them. In some of the valleys of Peru, I met with these birds again, but very rarely and always single and solitary. I continued my excursions on the sea-shore, but with little satisfaction, for the pouring rain had driven animals of every kind to their lurking-holes. After a few days, I went on board the "Edmond," for the purpose of visiting PUNTA ARENA, a town on the side of the bay, whither our boat used to be sent for fresh water. The ground surrounding the spring whence the ships obtain supplies of water, is sandy, and it becomes exceedingly marshy further inland. After wandering about for a few hours, I found myself quite lost in a morass, out of which I had to work my way with no little difficulty. The whole produce of my hard day's sport consisted of an awlbeak, a small dark-brown bird (Opethiorhyncus patagonicus), and some land-snails. On our return, as we were nearing the ship, we killed a seal (Otaria chilensis, Muell.), which was rising after a dive, close to the boat.
On the 22d of June, all our ship's company were on board by order of the captain. We weighed anchor, and cruized about for some time. At length, about five in the afternoon, we returned, and the ship was anchored again precisely on the spot she had left a few hours before. It was set down in the log-book that the wind was not sufficiently favorable to allow the ship to pass out safely through the narrow entrance to the bay. But all on board were well aware that this was merely a pretence on the part of the captain, who, for some reason or other, wished to stop longer at San Carlos.
I was very much pleased at this opportunity of prolonging my stay at the Island of Chiloe, hoping that better weather would enable me to make an excursion into the interior. But the sky still continued overcast, and the rain poured incessantly. One day, however, I undertook a journey to Castro, in company with the French Charge d'Affaires to Peru, one of my fellow passengers on the voyage. A merchant accommodated us with two horses, saddled in the Chilian manner; but he warned us to be on our guard, as horses were often restive when just returned from their summer pasturage. We set off very promisingly. The commencement of our ride was pleasant enough, though the road was steep and very difficult. It sometimes lay over smooth slippery stones, then through deep marshes, or over scattered logs of wood, which bore evidence of attempts to render the ground passable, by this rude kind of paving. After we had ridden for several hours in the forest, the rain checked our further progress, and we turned, to retrace our way back. Our horses seemed well pleased with the project of returning home. For a time they proceeded with wonderful steadiness; but on coming to a part of the road where the ground was comparatively level and firm, they quickened their pace, and at length dashed forward through the wood, uncontrolled by the bridle. The long narrow saddle, with its woollen covering, the crescent-shaped wooden stirrups, and the heavy spurs, with their clumsy rowels, baffled all our skill in horsemanship, and it was with no little difficulty we kept our seats. We thought it best to give the animals the rein, and they galloped through the umbrageous thickets, until at last, panting and breathless, they stuck in a morass. Here we recovered our control over them, and pursued the remainder of our journey without further accident, though we were drenched to the skin on our return to the town.
On subsequent days, I took my rambles on foot, and found myself richly rewarded thereby. The long evenings we spent in the company of our host and the harbor-master, from both of whom I obtained some useful information respecting the island.
Chiloe is one of the largest islands of the Archipelago which extends along the west coast of South America, from 42 deg. south lat. to the Straits of Magellan. It is about 23 German miles long, and 10 broad. A magnificent, but almost inaccessible forest covers the unbroken line of hills stretching along Chiloe, and gives to the island a charming aspect of undulating luxuriance. Seldom, however, can the eye command a distinct view of those verdant hills; for overhanging clouds surcharged with rain, almost constantly veil the spreading tops of the trees. At most parts of the shore the declivity is rapid. There are many inlets, which, though small, afford secure anchorage; but there are no harbors of any magnitude. While Castro was the capital of the island, Chacao was the principal port; but San Carlos having become the residence of the governor, this latter place is considered the chief harbor; and with reason, for its secure, tranquil bay unites all the advantages the navigator can desire on the stormy coast of South Chile. At Chacao, on the contrary, reefs and strong currents render the entrance dangerous and the anchorage insecure.
Chiloe is but little cultivated, and scantily populated. If the statement of my informant, the harbor-master, be correct, Chiloe and the adjacent small islands contain only from 48,000 to 50,000 inhabitants, part of whom live in ranchos (huts), and part in a few villages. Next to San Carlos, and the half-deserted Castro, to which the title of "City" is given, the chief places are Chacao, Vilipilli, Cucao, Velinoe. It is only in the neighborhood of these towns or villages that the forest trees have been felled, and their removal has uncovered a fertile soil, which would reward by a hundred-fold the labor of the husbandman.
The climate of the island is moist and cool, and upon the whole very unpleasant. During the winter months, the sun is seldom seen; and it is a proverbial saying in Chiloe, that it rains six days of the week, and is cloudy on the seventh. In summer there are occasionally fine days, though seldom two in succession. The thick forests are therefore never dry, and beneath the trees, the vegetation of the marshy soil is peculiarly luxuriant. The constant moisture is one of the greatest obstacles to agriculture. To clear the ground for cultivation, it would be necessary to burn the forests, and as the trees are always damp, that could not be done without great difficulty. To some kinds of culture the soil is not favorable. The cereals, for example, seldom thrive in Chiloe; the seed rots after the ear is formed. Maize grows best; though it shoots too much into leaf, and bears only small grain. The damp soil, on the other hand, is favorable to potatoes, of which vast quantities are planted. There is a degenerate kind of potato, very abundant in Chiloe. On bisection it exhibits a greater or lesser number of concentric rings, alternately white and violet; sometimes all of the latter color. It is well known that southern Chile is the native land of the potato. In Chiloe and also in the neighboring islands, potatoes grow wild; but, both in size and flavor, they are far inferior to the cultivated kind. Like the maize, they shoot up in large leaves and stalks. The climate is also very favorable to the different kinds of the cabbage plant; but peas and beans do not thrive there.
In the forests there are often clear spots on which the grass grows to a great height, and supplies excellent pasturage for numerous herds of cattle. The inhabitants of Chiloe breed for their own use, horses, oxen, sheep, and swine. The horses are small, and not handsomely formed, but very spirited and strong. Some are scarcely twelve hands high. The cows are small and lank, and the same may be said of the swine and sheep. It is remarkable that all the rams have more than two horns; the greater number have three, and many are furnished with four or five. I afterwards observed the same in Peru. The domestic animals on this island, notwithstanding the abundance of food, are small, and sickly-looking. I believe the cause to be want of care, for they remain all the year round exposed to every sort of weather and discomfort.
The population of Chiloe consists of Whites, Indians, and people of mixed blood. The Indians are now few in number, and those few are chiefly in the southern part of the island, and the adjacent islets. They are of the Araucana race, and appear to be a sept between that race and the people of Tierra del Fuego, on the one side, and the Pampas Indians on the other. People of mixed races form by far the greater portion of the population. They are met with in every variety of amalgamation. Taken in general, they are the reverse of handsome. They are short and thick-set, and have long, straight coarse hair. Their faces are round and full, their eyes small, and the expression of their countenances is unintelligent. The whites are either Chilenos or Spaniards: the latter are almost the only Europeans who have become settlers here.
The principal town, San Carlos, called by the natives "Ancud," lies on the northern coast of a very fine bay. Without a good chart, the entrance to this bay is difficult. Numerous small islands form a labyrinth, out of which vessels, if not commanded by very experienced pilots, cannot easily be extricated. Besides, near the land, the sky is usually obscured by clouds which prevent any observation for the latitude, as the sun's altitude cannot be taken even at noon; and when the sun gets lower, the hills, which would serve as guiding points, cease to be distinctly seen.
Several whalers, which for some days vainly endeavored to work through this passage, were afterwards obliged to direct their course northward, and to cast anchor in Valivia. One of the largest islands at the entrance of the bay is San Sebastian, where there are numerous herds of cattle. Cochino is a small island, distant only a few miles from San Carlos. It is hilly, and thickly crowned with brush-wood. It has only one landing-place, and that is rather insecure for boats. The water of the bay is remarkably clear and good; only round the little island of Cochino, and along the harbor, it is covered with an immense quantity of sea-moss, which often renders the landing difficult. It frequently happens that commanders of ships, wishing to go on board to make sail during the night, get out of the right course, and instead of going to the ship, steer to Cochino and get into the moss, where their boats stick fast, till returning daylight enables them to work their way out.
The poor inhabitants boil this sea-moss and eat it. It is very salt and slimy, and is difficult of digestion. Among the people of Chiloe, this sea-moss occupies an important place in surgery. When a leg or an arm is broken, after bringing the bone into its proper position, a broad layer of the moss is bound round the fractured limb. In drying, the slime causes it to adhere to the skin, and thus it forms a fast bandage, which cannot be ruffled or shifted. After the lapse of a few weeks, when the bones have become firmly united, the bandage is loosened by being bathed with tepid water, and it is then easily removed. The Indians of Chiloe were acquainted, long before the French surgeons, with the use of the paste bandage.
The town of San Carlos is dirty; the streets unpaved, narrow, and crooked. The houses, with few exceptions, are wretched wooden huts, for the most part without windows; but there is a board divided in the middle horizontally, the upper part of which being open, it serves for a window, and when both parts are open, it forms a door. The flooring usually consists merely of hard-trodden clay, covered with straw matting. The furniture, like the apartments, is rude and inconvenient. These remarks of course apply to the habitations of the very poor class of people. The richer families live in more comfortable style. Of the public buildings, the custom-house and the governor's residence are the most considerable, but both make a very indifferent appearance. In front of the governor's house, which occupies a tolerably large space of ground, in the upper part of the town, a sentinel is constantly stationed. This sentinel parades to and fro, without shoes or stockings, and not unfrequently without a coat, his arms being covered only by his shirt sleeves. As to a cap, that seems to be considered as unnecessary a part of a well-conditioned uniform, as shoes and stockings. After sunset every person who passes the governor's house is challenged. "Who goes there?" is the first question; the second is Que gente? (what country?) The sailors amuse themselves by returning jocular answers to these challenges; and the sentinel, irritated by their jeers, sometimes runs after them through part of the town, and when weary of the chace returns to his post.
Poverty and uncleanliness vie with each other in San Carlos. The lower class of the inhabitants are exceedingly filthy, particularly the women, whose usual dress is a dirty woollen gown, and a greasy looking mantilla. In their damp gloomy habitations, they squat down on the floor, close to the brasero (chafing pan), which also serves them as a stove for cooking. They bruise maize between two stones, and make it into a thick kind of soup or porridge. When employed in paring potatoes or apples, or in cutting cabbages, they throw the skins and waste leaves on the ground, so that they are frequently surrounded by a mass of half-decayed vegetable matter. Their favorite beverage is mate (the Paraguay tea), of which they partake at all hours of the day. The mode of preparing and drinking the mate is as follows: a portion of the herb is put into a sort of cup made from a gourd, and boiling water is poured over it. The mistress of the house then takes a reed or pipe, to one end of which a strainer is affixed, and putting it into the decoction, she sucks up a mouthful of the liquid. She then hands the apparatus to the person next to her, who partakes of it in the same manner, and so it goes round. The mistress of the house and all her guests suck the aromatic fluid through the same pipe or bombilla.
The poverty of the people is extreme. Specie is seldom current, and is exclusively in the hands of a few traders, who supply the Indians with European articles, in payment of their labor, or in exchange for the produce of the island, which is sent to Chile and Peru. With much surprise I learned that there is no saw-mill in Chiloe, where the vast abundance of trees would furnish a supply of excellent deals, for which ready and good payment would be obtained in Peru.
The inhabitants direct their industry chiefly to agriculture and navigation. But rude and imperfect are their implements for field labor, as well as their nautical vessels. To a stranger nothing can appear more extraordinary than their mode of ploughing. As to a regular plough, I do not believe such a thing is known in Chiloe. If a field is to be tilled, it is done by two Indians, who are furnished with long poles, pointed at one end. The one thrusts his pole, pretty deeply, and in an oblique direction, into the earth, so that it forms an angle with the surface of the ground. The other Indian sticks his pole in at a little distance, and also obliquely, and he forces it beneath that of his fellow-laborer, so that the first pole lies as it were above the second. The first Indian then presses on his pole, and makes it work on the other, as a lever on its fulcrum, and the earth is thrown up by the point of the pole. Thus they gradually advance, until the whole field is furrowed by this laborious process.
The Chiloe boats are merely hulks. They obey the helm reluctantly, but they bear away before the wind. Several individuals usually join together, and convey in these boats, the produce of their respective localities, in the southern villages, to San Carlos. Women as well as men take their turn at rowing the boats, and after being out all day, they run into some creek, where they pass the night. When a favorable breeze springs up, they hoist a sail, made of ponchos. The poncho is an important article of male clothing in this country. It consists of a piece of woollen cloth, measuring from 5 to 7 feet long, and from 3 to 4 feet broad. In the middle there is a slit from 12 to 14 inches long; through this slit the wearer passes his head. The poncho thus rests on the shoulders, and hangs down in front and behind as low as the knees. At the sides, it reaches to the elbow, or middle of the forearm, and thus covers the whole of the body. The carters and wagoners in Swabia wear, in rainy weather, a covering somewhat resembling the poncho, which they make out of their woollen horse-coverings. When a Chiloe boat is on its passage on the coast, and a sail happens to be wanted, the men give up their ponchos and the women their mantillas. The slits in the ponchos are stitched up, and both ponchos and mantillas being sewn together are fixed to a pole or bar of wood, which is hoisted to a proper position on the mast. This patchwork sail can only be serviceable when the wind is fresh. At nightfall, when the boat runs into one of the creeks for shelter, the sail is lowered, and the sewing being unpicked, the ponchos and mantillas are returned to their respective owners, who wrap themselves in them, and go to sleep.
There is but little trade in San Carlos, for Chile itself possesses in superfluity all the productions of Chiloe, and the inhabitants of the island are so poor, and their wants so limited, that they require but few foreign articles. The port is therefore seldom visited by any trading vessel from Europe. Some of the Chiloe boats keep up a regular traffic along the coast. They carry wood, brooms, hams, and potatoes, to Valparaiso, Arica, Callao, &c., and they bring back in return, linen, woollen and cotton cloths, ironware, tobacco, and spirits.
North American and French whalers have for several years past been frequent visitors to San Carlos, as they can there provide themselves, at a cheap rate, with provisions for the long fishing season. All the captains bring goods, which they smuggle on shore, where they sell or exchange them at a high profit. A custom-house officer is, indeed, sent on board every vessel to examine what is to be unshipped; but a few dollars will silence him, and make him favor the contraband operations, which are carried on without much reserve. A French captain brought to Chiloe a quantity of water-proof cloaks and hats, made of a sort of black waxed cloth, and sold them to a dealer in San Carlos. To evade the duty, he sent his men on shore each wearing one of these hats and cloaks, which they deposited in the dealer's store, and then returned on board the ship, dressed in their sailors' garb. This was repeated so often, that at length it was intimated to the captain that, if his men had a fancy to come on shore with such hats and cloaks they would be permitted to do so, but it must be on condition of their returning on board dressed in the same costume.
The people of Ancud (San Carlos), formerly so simple and artless, have gradually become corrupt and degenerate, since their frequent intercourse with the whale-fishers. Among the female portion of the population, depravity of morals and unbecoming boldness of manners have in a great degree superseded the natural simplicity which formerly prevailed. All the vices of the lowest class of sailors, of which the crews of the South Sea Whalers are composed, have quickly taken root in San Carlos, and the inseparable consequences of those vices will soon be fatal to the moral and physical welfare of the inhabitants.
In the interior of the island of Chiloe there are few quadrupeds. The largest, the domestic animals excepted, is a fox (Canis fulvipes, Wat.), which was first discovered by the naturalists who accompanied Capt. King's expedition. This is the only beast of prey. The coast abounds in seals of the sea-dog species (Otaria chilensis, Muell., Otaria Ursina, Per., Otaria jubata, Desm.)—in sea-otters (Otaria chilensis, Ben.)—and in the water mouse (Myopotamus Coypus, J. Geoff). Among the birds, there are some very fine species of ducks, well worthy of notice, which are also found on the continent of South America. There is the little Cheucau (Pteroptochus rubecula, Kettl.), to which the Chilotes attach various superstitious ideas, and pretend to foretell good or ill luck from its song. The modulations which this bird is capable of uttering are numerous, and the natives assign a particular meaning to each. One day, when I wished to have some shooting, I took an Indian lad with me. Having levelled my gun at one of these birds, which was sitting in a low bush, and uttering its shrill huit-huit, my young companion firmly grasped my arm, earnestly entreating me not to shoot the bird, as it had sung its unlucky note. But my desire to possess a specimen was too great to be thus baffled, so I fired my gun and brought it down. I was engaged in examining the elegant little bird, when a mule, probably alarmed by the shot, came running at full speed towards the spot where we were, and we deemed it prudent to get behind a hedge as speedily as possible. The infuriated mule made an attack on my gun, which was resting against the hedge. It was thrown down, bitten, and trampled on by the mule. The Indian boy turned to me, with a serious countenance, and said:—"It is well if we escape further danger! I told you the bird had piped bad luck!"
The day fixed for our departure from Chiloe now approached. The wind, which had heretofore been unfavorable for leaving the port, promised to change, and we began to ship provisions. Whilst I was waiting for the boat which was to take me on board, I had an opportunity of observing the dexterity with which the Indians slaughter their cattle. This business is performed on the Mole, where, in the space of a quarter of an hour, and by two men only, an ox is killed, and the carcase cut up into the proper pieces. When it is necessary to ship live oxen, the animals are brought to the shore, where their feet are bound together, and then they are rolled over planks into the lancha (boat). On nearing the ship, the Indians tie a rope round the animal's horns, and then the sailors hoist him up with a strong tackle. It is a curious sight to behold a strongly-bound struggling ox, hanging by the tackle, and swinging between wind and water. My little Chilotean pony, which I intended to take to Peru, was dealt with more gently: he was got on board with a girth, purposely made for hoisting horses on board ship.
At length we sailed out of the bay with a fresh easterly wind. Three coasting boats, one of which was heavily laden with brooms, left the roads at the same time, and their crews said they hoped to reach Valparaiso before us. But they had too great confidence in their round-bottomed keels, for they did not anchor in their place of destination till five or six days after our arrival. The wind soon got up, blowing W.N.W., but rather flat. In the course of the night, during the second watch, we were roused from our sleep by a heavy shock, followed by a peculiarly tremulous motion of the whole ship. We concluded we had struck in passing over some hidden rock. The lead was thrown, but no ground was found; the pumps were set a-going, but we were free of water. The captain attributed the shock to an earthquake, and on our arrival at Chile, his conjecture was confirmed. In Valdivia, in the latitude of which place we were at the time, a severe shock of an earthquake had been experienced.
After a pretty favorable passage of seven days, we anchored on the 30th of June in the harbor of Valparaiso.
[Footnote 1: Bombilla is the name given to this pipe, and the cup or gourd in which the decoction of the mate is prepared, is called the macerina.]
Valparaiso and the adjacent country—The Bay—Aspect of the Town—Lighthouses—Forts—Custom House—Exchange—Hotels and Taverns—War with the Peru-Bolivian Confederation—First Expedition—Preparations for the Second Expedition—Embarkation of the Troops—Close of the Port—July Festival in honor of the French Revolution—The Muele, or Mole—Police—Serenos, or Watchmen—Moveable Prisons—Clubs—Trade of Valparaiso—Santiago—Zoology.
The impression produced by the approach to Valparaiso on persons who see land for the first time after a sea voyage of several months' duration, must be very different from that felt by those who anchor in the port after a passage of a few days from the luxuriantly verdant shores of the islands lying to the south. Certainly, none of our ship's company would have been disposed to give the name of "Vale of Paradise" to the sterile, monotonous coast which lay outstretched before us; and yet, to the early navigators, its first aspect, after a long and dreary voyage, over the desert ocean, might naturally enough have suggested the idea of an earthly paradise.
Along the sea coast there extends a range of round-topped hills, 15 or 16 hundred feet high, covered with a grey-brownish coating, relieved only here and there by patches of dead green, and furrowed by clefts, within which the bright red of tile-roofed houses is discernible. Half-withered cactus trees, the only plants which take root in the ungenial soil, impart no life to the dreary landscape. The hills continue rising in undulating outlines, and extend into the interior of the country, where they unite with the great chain of the Andes.
The bay of Valparaiso is open on the north and west; on the south it is protected by a little promontory called the Punta de Coromilla. In this direction the shore is steep and rocky, and the waves break against it with great fury. From the Punta de Coromilla the bay extends from east to north-west in the form of a gently curved crescent, having a sloping, sandy beach, which rises very gradually towards the hills. On the north side of the bay there are several small inlets, almost inaccessible and edged with steep rocks. The bay is sometimes unsafe, for it is completely unsheltered on the north, and the heavy gales which blow from that point frequently end in storms. At those times the bay is furiously agitated, the waves sometimes rising as high as in the open sea, and the ships are obliged to cast their sheet-anchors. Many vessels have at various times been driven from their anchorage, cast ashore, and dashed to pieces on a rock called Little Cape Horn; for, when a violent gale blows from the north, it is impossible to get out to sea. Sailors are accustomed to say that in a violent storm they would rather be tossed about on the wide ocean than be at anchor in the bay of Valparaiso. But against the south wind, though sometimes no less boisterous than the northern gales, the harbor affords secure refuge, being perfectly sheltered by the Punta de Coromilla.
The town of Valparaiso looks as if built on terraces at the foot of the range of hills above mentioned. Northward it stretches out on the level sea shore, in a long double row of houses called the Almendral: towards the south it rises in the direction of the hills. Two clefts or chasms (quebradas) divide this part of the town into three separate parts consisting of low, shabby houses. These three districts have been named by the sailors after the English sea terms Fore-top, Main-top, and Mizen-top. The numerous quebradas, which all intersect the ground in a parallel direction, are surrounded by poor-looking houses. The wretched, narrow streets running along these quebradas are, in winter, and especially at night, exceedingly dangerous, Valparaiso being very badly lighted. It sometimes happens that people fall over the edges of the chasms and are killed, accidents which not unfrequently occur to the drunken sailors who infest these quarters of the town.
Viewed from the sea, Valparaiso has rather a pleasing aspect, and some neat detached houses built on little levels, artificially made on the declivities of the hills, have a very picturesque appearance. The scenery in the immediate background is gloomy; but, in the distance, the summit of the volcano Aconcagua, which is 23,000 feet above the level of the sea, and which, on fine evenings, is gilded by the rays of the setting sun, imparts a peculiar charm to the landscape.
The bay is protected by three small forts. The southernmost, situated between the lighthouse and the town, has five guns. The second, which is somewhat larger, called el Castillo de San Antonio, is in the southern inlet of the bay. Though the most strongly fortified of the three, it is in reality a mere plaything. In the northern part of the town, on a little hillock, stands the third fort, called el Castillo del Rosario, which is furnished with six pieces of cannon. The churches of Valparaiso are exceedingly plain and simple, undistinguished either for architecture or internal decoration.
The custom-house is especially worthy of mention. It is a beautiful and spacious building, and from its situation on the Muele (Mole) is an object which attracts the attention of all who arrive at Valparaiso. In the neighborhood of the custom-house is the exchange. It is a plain building, and contains a large and elegant reading-room, in which may always be found the principal European newspapers. In this reading-room there is also an excellent telescope by Dollond, which is a source of amusement, by affording a view of the comical scenes sometimes enacted on board the ships in the port.
The taverns and hotels are very indifferent. The best are kept by Frenchmen, though even those are incommodious and expensive. The apartments, which scarcely contain necessary articles of furniture, are dirty, and often infested with rats. In these houses, however, the table is tolerably well provided; for there is no want of good meat and vegetables in the market. The second-rate taverns are far beneath the very worst in the towns of Europe.
On our arrival in Valparaiso, a vast deal of activity and bustle prevailed in the harbor. Chile had declared war against the Peru-Bolivian confederation, and was fitting out a new expedition for the invasion of Peru. At its head were the banished Peruvian president Don Augustin Gamarra, and the Chilian general Bulnes. The growing power of Santa Cruz, who set himself up as protector of a confederation between Bolivia and Peru, had given alarm to the Chilian government. It was apprehended, and not without reason, that the independence of Chile might be threatened by so dangerous a neighbor. Santa Cruz had given umbrage to Chile by several decrees, especially one, by which merchant vessels coming direct from Europe into a Bolivian or Peruvian port, and there disposing of their cargoes, were subject to very low duties, whilst heavy imposts were levied on ships landing any part of their cargoes in a Chilian port. This law greatly increased the trade of Peru; but it was prejudicial to Chile. This and other grounds of offence, joined to the representations of the fugitive Ex-president Gamarra and his adherents, determined the Chilian government to declare war. An expedition under the command of General Blanco was sent to Peru; but Santa Cruz was prepared to receive the invaders, and in the valley of Arequipa he surrounded the Chilian forces so completely that they were obliged to surrender without striking a blow. Santa Cruz magnanimously allowed General Blanco to make a very favorable capitulation. The soldiers were sent home to their country; but the horses were detained and sold by the conquerors to the conquered.
The generosity of Don Andres Santa Cruz did not meet its due return on the part of the Chilian government. The treaty of peace concluded by Blanco was not ratified in Santiago, the minister declaring that the general was not authorized to negotiate it. Hostilities were kept up between the two states, and at length a second and more important expedition was fitted out. It sailed whilst we were lying in the harbor.
No sooner had we cast anchor than several officers of the Chilian army came on board to inquire whether we had any swords to dispose of, assuring us that they, together with the majority of their comrades, were yet unprovided with arms, and knew not where to procure them. The captain informed them that there were no swords in our cargo; but that he had a few sabres, &c., which he was very willing to sell. They were immediately produced, and some were purchased; among the number was a heavy broad-sword, about five feet in length, which had once belonged to a cuirassier in Napoleon's guard. The Chilian officer who bargained for it was a delicate-looking stripling, who, with both hands, could scarcely raise the heavy weapon. He, nevertheless, flattered himself that it would enable him to achieve great deeds in battle and deal death among the Peruvians. Ten months afterwards I met this hero on a march among the mountains of Peru. He had, girded on, a light little sword, like a tooth pick or a bodkin compared with the formidable weapon he had discarded, and which a sturdy negro was carrying behind him. I could not refrain from asking the officer whether the trusty broad-sword had not done good service in the battle of Yungay; but he candidly acknowledged that he had not attempted to use it, as he found it much too unwieldy.
The Chilian squadron sent to Peru consisted of twenty-seven transport ships, and eight ships of war. Almost all were in a wretched condition, having but few guns, and manned by very insufficient crews. The largest vessels were the three corvettes, Confederacion, Santa Cruz, and Valparaiso. Only one ship, the schooner brig Colocolo, was distinguished for solidity and swift sailing. The fleet was commanded by an admiral of little judgment and experience.
Among the crew there were but few Chilenos: most of the men were Chilotes and French, English and American deserters. The officers commanding the ships were almost all Englishmen. The transport ships were heavily laden, some carrying troops, and others provisions. These provisions consisted of sesino (dried beef), chalonas (whole sheep dried), maize, potatoes, dried fruits and barley, together with hay for the horses. The embarkation of the horses was most clumsily managed: many were strangled in being hoisted up the ships' sides, others slipped through their girths and were severely hurt by falling, and a considerable number of the poor animals died before the ships left the port. Every morning we saw dozens of dead horses thrown over board. The continued lurching of the vessels in which the cavalry was embarked, bore evidence of the inconvenient situation of the horses between decks.
At the beginning of July the whole squadron sailed for the harbor of Coquimbo, where the troops were decimated by the small-pox.
There prevailed in Chile a feeling very adverse to this campaign; so much so that most of the troops were embarked by force. I was standing on the muele when the Santiago battalion was shipped. The soldiers, who were in wretched uniforms, most of them wearing ponchos, and unarmed, were bound together two-and-two by ropes, and absolutely driven into the boats.
This war proved most unfortunate to Peru, a result which, however, cannot certainly be ascribed either to the courage of the enemy's troops or the judgment of their commanders. We shall presently see the circumstances which combined to secure triumph to the Chilenos.
I and my fellow-voyagers were also sufferers by the war, our captain having imprudently announced his intention of selling the Edmond to the protector Santa Cruz, as she might easily have been transformed into an excellent corvette. She was a quick sailer, tight-built, carrying ten guns of moderate calibre, and she might easily have mounted ten more.
The captain's intention having reached the knowledge of the Chilian government, the natural consequence was, that the port was closed, a measure deemed the more necessary inasmuch as an American captain was suspected of entertaining the design of selling his ship to the Peruvians. It was not until the fleet had had time to reach Peru, and the first blow was supposed to be struck, that the embargo was raised, and we obtained leave to depart. We lay in the port of Valparaiso five-and-forty days. To me the most annoying circumstance attending this delay was, that I could not absent myself from the port longer than twenty-four hours at a time, as the ship was constantly in readiness to get under weigh, as soon as we should receive permission to sail, which was hourly expected. My excursions were, therefore, confined to the immediate neighborhood of the town; and even there my walks and rides were much impeded by constant stormy and rainy weather.
On the 29th of July, preparations were made on board our ship for celebrating the Paris revolution of 1830. At eight o'clock in the morning we fired three guns, and the Edmond was soon decorated from her deck to her mast-heads with flags and streamers. At the fore-mast gaily floated the Swiss flag, probably the first time it had ever been seen in the Pacific. When the guns on board the French ship-of-war had ceased firing, we began our salute; but, as we had only ten guns, it was necessary to load a second time. Our seamen, being unused to this kind of duty, did not observe due precaution, and the consequence was that one of them had his hand so dreadfully shattered that immediate amputation was indispensable. The day's rejoicing was thus suddenly brought to a melancholy close.
The mole in front of the custom-house is exceedingly dangerous; so much so, that, during the prevalence of stormy north winds, it is impossible to pass along it. From the shore a sort of wooden jetty stretches into the sea, at the distance of about sixty paces. This jetty has been sometimes partially, and at other times completely, destroyed by the waves. The harbor-master's boats, and those belonging to the ships-of-war, land on the right side; the left side is allotted to the boats of the merchant ships. On the shore there are always a number of boats ready to convey persons who wish to go on board the different ships. Each boat is generally rowed by two Indians. Whenever any person approaches the shore he is beset by the boatmen, who throng round him, and alternately, in English and Spanish, importune him with the questions,—"Want a boat?" "Vamos a bordo?"
Day and night, parties of custom-house officers go round the port for the purpose of preventing smuggling. In this, however, they only partially succeed; for they detect only petty smugglers, whilst those who carry on contraband trade on a large scale elude their vigilance. The captains of French vessels are notorious for this kind of traffic, and they frequently succeed in landing vast quantities of goods surreptitiously.
The police of Valparaiso is probably as good as it is in any part of South America. Serenos (watchmen) perambulate the streets on foot and on horseback, and continually give signals one to another by blowing small whistles. For personal safety there is little risk, probably not more than in the most populous cities of Europe. It is true that nocturnal murders sometimes take place; but the police speedily succeed in capturing the criminals, who, after a summary trial, are shot.
In Valparaiso, as in most of the towns on the western coast of South America, the serenos go about all night, calling the hours and announcing the state of the weather. At ten o'clock they commence with their—"Viva Chile!"—"Ave Maria purissima!"—"Las diez han dado y sereno!" (past ten o'clock and a fine night!) or nublado (cloudy),—or lloviendo (raining). Thus, they continue calling every half-hour till four o'clock in the morning. Should an earthquake take place it is announced by the sereno when he goes his round in the following half hour. However, the phenomenon usually announces itself in so positive a way, that the inhabitants may easily dispense with the information of the serenos.
Among the most remarkable objects in Valparaiso may be numbered the moveable prison. It consists of a number of large covered wagons, not unlike those used for the conveyance of wild beasts. In the inside of each wagon, planks are fixed up like the board bedsteads in a guard-house, affording resting-places for eight or ten prisoners. A guard is stationed at the door, which is at the back of the wagon; and in the front a sort of kitchen is constructed. These wagons are drawn by the prisoners themselves, who are for the most part destined to work in the streets and roads, and, accordingly, they take their prison with them when they are ordered to any considerable distance from the town. To a country in which there may be said to be no winter, this sort of nomad prison is exceedingly well-suited, and the prisoners may be conveyed from place to place at very little expense.
I went into some of these moveable prisons, and I must confess that I never beheld such an assemblage of ill-looking faces as were collected within them. In the countenances of some of the prisoners unbridled passion and degrading sensuality were so plainly and so odiously portrayed, that one shuddered to reflect that such features could be an index of the human mind. Most of them were Creole Indians; but there were a few Europeans among them. To me it was melancholy to behold the European, who might be supposed to possess some little share of education, mounting the prison steps chained to his fellow-criminal, the uncivilized Chileno.
In Valparaiso, as in all seaports, there is a heterogeneous mixture of different countries, nations, languages, and manners, amidst which the national character of the country is entirely lost. The trade in European goods is very extensive, but almost exclusively in the hands of a few great North American and English houses, who supply the whole country with the articles they import. At times, such is the overstock of importations, that goods are sold at lower prices in Valparaiso than in Europe. The warehouses are so filled with some sorts of merchandise, that without any fresh supplies there would be sufficient for some years to come.
Among the clerks in the mercantile houses I met with a great number of Germans, who all maintain an intimate association with each other. They have formed themselves into a union, and they have a very commodious place in which they hold their meetings. Following their example, the English have united together and established several clubs. The French have not gained any considerable footing in this part of South America, in which there are scarcely two French mercantile houses of any consequence. On the other hand, there is abundance of French hairdressers, tailors, shoemakers, jewellers, confectioners, and Chevaliers d'industrie. Neither is there any want of Modistes Parisiennes et Bordelaises.
Valparaiso is yearly increasing in extent and in the numbers of its inhabitants; but the town makes little improvement in beauty. That quarter which is built along the Quebradas is certainly susceptible of no improvement, owing to the unfavorable locality, and it is only the newly-built houses on the heights that impart to the town anything like a pleasing aspect. In laying out buildings in a place like Valparaiso, the aid of art should make amends for the defects of nature. My visits to Valparaiso did not produce a very favorable impression on me. The exclusively mercantile occupations of the inhabitants, together with the poverty of the adjacent country, leave little to interest the attention of a mere transient visitor. The case may be different with persons who, having longer time than I had to stay in the town, may enjoy opportunities of entering into society, and occasionally visiting the pleasant valley of Quillota and the interesting capital Santiago.
The latter is thirty leagues distant from the port; but a very active communication is kept up between the two places, and better roads would, no doubt, increase the intercourse. A few years ago the roads were very unsafe; but now the journey may be performed without danger if the Birlocheros (coach-drivers) are in the least degree careful.
The zoology of the neighborhood of Valparaiso is not very interesting, though more so along the sea-shore than in parts further inland. Among the Mammalia are sometimes seen the fox (Canis Azarae, Wild.), and the pole-cat. In the immediate vicinity of the town a very large mouse is seen in the burrows of the ground; it is of the eight-toothed species (Octodon Cummingii, Benn.), and has a brush-formed tail. As the fields round Valparaiso are not cultivated these animals do no harm, otherwise they would be the plague of agriculture, and probably are so in the interior parts of the country. Now and then a sea-dog may be observed in the bay; but the whale is seldom seen, and whenever one appears he is immediately killed, as there is always a whaler at anchor and not far off.
In the market, live condors are frequently sold. These birds are caught in traps. A very fine one may be purchased for a dollar and a half. I saw eight of these gigantic birds secured in a yard in a very singular manner. A long narrow strap of leather was passed through the nostrils of the bird and firmly knotted at one end, whilst the other end was fastened to a wooden or iron peg fixed in the ground. By this means the motion of the bird was not impeded: it could walk within the range of a tolerably wide circle; but on attempting to fly it fell to the ground head foremost. It is no trifling matter to provide food for eight condors; for they are among the most ravenous of birds of prey. The owner of those I saw assured me that, by way of experiment, he had given a condor, in the course of one day, eighteen pounds of meat (consisting of the entrails of oxen); that the bird devoured the whole, and ate his allowance on the following day with as good an appetite as usual. I measured a very large male condor, and the width from the tip of one wing to the tip of the other was fourteen English feet and two inches—an enormous expanse of wing, not equalled by any other bird except the white albatross. (Diomedea exulans, Linn.). The snipes (Scolopax frenata, Ill.) found on the little plain between the bay and the light-house are in color precisely like those of Europe, from which, however, they differ in having two more feathers in their tails. Small green parrots, little bigger than finches, are tamed and brought to Valparaiso from the interior of the country. These parrots are very docile, and are easily taught to speak; but they cannot endure cold, and require to be tended with very great care. In the bay itself there are numerous cormorants, and occasionally penguins and large flights of the cut-water or shear-bill (Rhynchops nigra, Linn.). The latter is distinguished by a sharp-pointed bill closing laterally, the under mandible being about double the length of the upper one. But the most beautiful bird in the bay of Valparaiso is the majestic swan (Cygnus nigricollis, Mol.), whose body is of dazzling white, whilst the head and neck are black.
On the 13th of August we at length obtained leave to sail. Early on the morning of the 14th we weighed anchor; and, as we sailed out of the Bay of Valparaiso, the summit of Aconcagua soon disappeared in the blue horizon.
Juan Fernandez—Robinson Crusoe—Passage to Callao—San Lorenzo—Rise and fall of the coast—Mr. Darwin's opinions on this subject—Callao—The Fortress—Siege by the Spaniards—General Rodil—Siege by the Chilians—The Colocolo—Pirates—Zoology—Road to Lima.
With a favorable east wind we reached, in thirty-six hours, the island of Juan Fernandez, which lies in the latitude of Valparaiso. Ships from Europe, bound to Peru, which do not go into Chile, usually touch at Juan Fernandez to test their chronometers. It consists in fact of three islands, forming a small compact group. Two of them, in accordance with the Spanish names, may be called the Inward Island and the Outward Island, for the most easterly is called Mas a Tierra (more to the main land), that to the west is called Mas a Fuera (more towards the offing). That to the south, which is almost a naked rock, is the Isla de Lobos, which we may call Sea-dog Island. The two first are covered with grass and trees. Mas a Tierra is much longer, and better suited for cultivation than Mas a Fuera. In form the two islands have a striking resemblance to Flores and Cordua, islands of the group of the Azores. Until within these twenty years, Mas a Tierra was the place of exportation for convicts from Chile; but as it was found that the facility of escape is great, none are now sent there. In 1812 a number of prisoners of war were confined there, but the rats, which had increased in an extraordinary degree, consumed all the provisions sent from Chile. Several fruitless attempts have been made to populate the island, but that object is now given up, and it is only occasionally visited by sea-dog hunters. Ulloa speaks of the great number of sea-calves or dogs with which the island was frequented, and distinguishes kinds which belong to the short-eared species. Their skins are excellent, and they sell at a good price in England. Wild goats are numerous, and their propagation would be excessive were it not for the multitude of dogs, also wild, by which they are destroyed.
There is yet another kind of interest attached to Juan Fernandez. It was on Mas a Tierra that, in 1704, the celebrated English navigator, Dampier, landed his coxswain, Alexander Selkirk, with whom he had quarrelled, and left him there with a small quantity of provisions, and a few tools. Selkirk had lived four years and four months on this uninhabited island, when he was found there by the bucaneers Woods and Rogers, and brought back to Europe. From the notes which he made during his solitary residence, the celebrated Daniel Defoe composed his incomparable work, ROBINSON CRUSOE.
The weather continued favorable, and in about a week we doubled the west point of San Lorenzo Island, where some Chilian cruizers were watching the coast. We soon entered the fine bay of Callao, and cast anchor in the harbor of the Ciudad de los Reyes. While rounding the island, an American corvette spoke us. She had left Valparaiso on the same day with us, and sailed also through the strait between San Lorenzo and the main land; yet, during the whole passage, we never saw each other.
No signals were exchanged between us and the shore, and no port-captain came on board. We were exceedingly anxious to know the issue of the Chilian expedition. Hostile ships of war lay off the port, but the Peruvian flag waved on the fort. At last a French naval cadet came on board, and informed us that the Chilians had landed successfully, and had taken Lima by storm two days previously. They were, at that moment, besieging the fortress. We immediately went on shore.
The town presented a melancholy aspect. The houses and streets were deserted. In all Callao we scarcely met a dozen persons, and the most of those we saw were negroes. Some of the inhabitants came gradually back, but in the course of a month scarcely a hundred had returned, and for safety they slept during the night on board merchant ships in the bay. At the village of Bella Vista, a quarter of a mile from Callao, the Chilians had erected their batteries for bombarding the fortress. As it was difficult to obtain provisions, the commanders of the foreign ships of war sent every morning a small detachment of sailors with a steward to Bella Vista, to purchase meat and vegetables. The merchant-ships joined in the practice, so that early every morning a long procession of boats with flags flying proceeded to the Chilian camp. But a stop was soon put to this, as an English butcher in Callao found means to go with the boats for the purpose of purchasing large quantities of meat, which he afterwards sold at an immense profit, to the fortress. Though the besieged did not suffer from want, they were far from having superfluity.
Having sufficient time to make myself acquainted with the country in the immediate vicinity of Callao, I took advantage of every opportunity for excursions; going from place to place by water, which was more safe than journeying by land.
The bay of Callao is one of the largest and calmest on the west coast of South America. On the south-west, it is bounded by the sterile island of San Lorenzo; on the north it flows into the creeks, which are terminated by the Punta Gorda, the Punta Pernal, the Punta de dos Playas, and the Punta de Dona Pancha. The beach is flat, for the most part shingly, and about the mouth of the Rimac, somewhat marshy. Between the mouth of the Rimac and that of the Rio de Chillon, which is a little southward of the Punta Gorda, there is a tract of rich marshy soil. A small boot-shaped tongue of land stretches from the fortress westward to San Lorenzo. On this spot are the ruins of old Callao.
San Lorenzo is a small, long-shaped island, about 15 English miles in circumference. It is intersected throughout its whole length by a ridge of sharp crested hills, of which the highest point is about 1387 feet above the level of the sea. On the north-eastern side, the declivity is less steep than on the south-west, where it descends almost perpendicularly into the sea. Seals and sea-otters inhabit the steep rocks of the southern declivity, and swarms of sea-birds nestle on the desolate shore. San Lorenzo is separated on the southern side by a narrow strait, from a small rocky island called El Fronton, which is also the abode of numerous seals.
The coasts of Callao and San Lorenzo have undergone very remarkable changes within a few centuries. Mr. Darwin, the English geologist, is of opinion that this part of Peru has risen eighty-five feet since it has had human inhabitants. On the north-eastern declivity of San Lorenzo, which is divided into three indistinctly marked terraces, there are numbers of shells of those same species of conchyliae which are at the present time found living on the coast. On an accurate examination of these shells, Mr. Darwin found many of them deeply corroded. "They have," he says, "a much older and more decayed appearance than those at the height of 500 or 600 feet on the coast of Chile. These shells are associated with much common salt, a little sulphate of lime (both probably left by the evaporation of the spray, as the land slowly rose), together with sulphate of soda, and muriate of lime. The rest are fragments of the underlying sand-stone, and are covered by a few inches thick of detritus. The shells higher up on this terrace could be traced scaling off in flakes, and falling into an impalpable powder; and on an upper terrace, at the height of 170 feet, and likewise at some considerably higher points, I found a layer of saline powder, of exactly similar appearance, and lying in the same relative position. I have no doubt that the upper layer originally existed on a bed of shells, like that on the eighty-five feet ledge, but it does not now contain even a trace of organic structure." Mr. Darwin adds, that on the terrace, which is eighty-five feet above the sea, he found embedded amidst the shells and much sea-drifted rubbish, some bits of cotton thread, plaited rush, and the head of a stalk of Indian corn.
San Lorenzo does not appear to have been inhabited in very early ages. The fragments of human industry which have been found mixed in the shells have probably been brought thither by fishermen who visit the island, and often pass the night on it.
Darwin further remarks:—"It has been stated that the land subsided during this memorable shock (in 1746): I could not discover any proof of this; yet it seems far from improbable, for the form of the coast must certainly have undergone some change since the foundation of the old town," &c.—"On the island of San Lorenzo there are very satisfactory proofs of elevation within a recent period; this, of course, is not opposed to the belief of a small sinking of the ground having subsequently taken place."
But satisfactory evidence of the sinking of the coast is not to be obtained in a visit of a few weeks' duration; nor must that evidence rest solely on geological facts, though doubtless they furnish much important data. History must aid the inquiry. Tradition and the recollections of old persons must be attended to. According to these authorities, a change more or less considerable has taken place in the level of the coast, after every great earthquake. If we refer to the account given by Ulloa, and compare the plan of the harbor of Callao, drawn by him in 1742, with the most correct modern charts, we do not find much difference in the representations of the distance between the main-land and San Lorenzo. Four years afterwards the great earthquake occurred, which destroyed the city of Callao, and plunged it into the sea. Subsequently there was a rising of the coast, which could not be inconsiderable, for according to the statements of old inhabitants of Callao, the distance from the coast to San Lorenzo was so inconsiderable that boys used to throw stones over to the island. At present the distance is nearly two English miles. I have no doubt of the general correctness of those statements, for a careful investigation of facts leads to the same conclusion; so that within the last sixty or seventy years the sinking must have been considerable. It must be observed, however, that the ruins on the small tongue of land are not, as Darwin supposes, the remains of the city of Callao, swallowed up by the sea in 1746, but of the Callao which was destroyed by the great earthquake of 1630.
Another proof of the sinking exists in the extensive shallow between the coast of the main-land and San Lorenzo, called the Camotal. In early times this shallow was dry land, producing vegetables, in particular Camotes (sweet potatoes), whence the name of this portion of the strait is derived. The inundation took place in the time of the Spaniards, but before 1746, either in the great earthquake of 1687, or in that of 1630.
Northward of the Bay of Callao, near the plantation of Boca Negra, there is a shallow, where, according to records, there existed a sugar plantation about fifty years ago. Turning to the south of Callao, in the direction of Lurin, we find, at the distance of about two English miles from the coast, two islands or rocks, of which one is called Pachacamac, and the other Santa Domingo. At the time of the Spanish invasion these rocks were connected with the main-land, and formed a promontory. On one of them stood a temple or castle. At what period they were detached from the coast I have not been able to ascertain authentically; but there appears reason to suppose that the separation took place during the violent earthquake of 1586. Attentive investigations to the north of Callao—at Chancay, Huacho, Baranca, &c., would probably bring to light further evidence on this subject.
Between the facts stated by Mr. Darwin and those here adduced, there is considerable discrepancy. On the one hand they denote a rising, and on the other a sinking. But it may be asked, might not both these phenomena have occurred at different times? Mr. Darwin's opinion respecting the still-continued rising of the coast does not appear to me to rest on satisfactory evidence. The relics of human industry which he found embedded among shells, at the height of eighty-five feet above the sea, only prove that the elevation has taken place after the land was inhabited by the human race, but do not mark the period at which that elevation occurred. Pieces of cotton thread and plaited rush are no proofs of a very refined degree of civilisation, such as the Spaniards brought with them to Peru, and cannot therefore be taken as evidence that the elevation took place at any period subsequent to the conquest. Garcilaso de la Vega traces the dynasty of the Incas down to the year 1021, a period when the inhabitants of the coast of Peru were tolerably well advanced in civilisation. Fernando Montesinos furnishes facts connected with the history of Peru, of several thousand years' earlier date; and, judging from the number of dynasties, the nature of the laws, &c., it may be inferred that civilisation existed at a period of even more remote antiquity. It cannot therefore be determined with any accuracy at what time the deposit at San Lorenzo, now eighty-five feet high, was level with the sea, or whether the rise suddenly followed one of those frightful catastrophes which have so often visited the western coast of South America. Then, again, the different degrees of decay presented by the beds of shells seem to indicate that the rising has been gradual; and it may have been going on for thousands of years. Had the coast risen eighty-five feet since the Spanish conquest—that is to say, within the space of three hundred and sixty-two years—the Camotal would long since have again risen above the surface of the sea; for it is very improbable that it sank to a depth exceeding ninety or ninety-five feet. It is evident that risings and sinkings have occurred at various times, and that causes contingent on earthquakes have produced the variations in the rising and falling of the coast.
It is probable that the accurate sounding of the depth of water in the Camotal, at stated intervals, would furnish the best means of ascertaining the rising and sinking of the coast. A variety of circumstances combine to favor the practicability of calculation by this method. For example, no river flows into that part of the bay in which the Camotal is situated. The Rimac, whose mouth lies further to the north, is not sufficiently large to carry any considerable deposit into the bed of the bay: moreover, there is but little tide, and the bay is always calm, being sheltered on the south by the island of San Lorenzo, and north breezes are rare and never violent.
I may here mention a singular phenomenon which has in latter times often occurred at Callao, and which, in 1841, I had myself the opportunity of observing. About two in the morning the sea flowed from the shore with greater force than in the strongest ebb; the ships farthest out were left dry, which is never the case in an ebb tide. The alarm of the inhabitants was great when the sea rushed instantly back with increased force. Nothing could withstand its fury. Meanwhile there was no commotion of the earth, nor any marked change of temperature.
In the earthquake of 1746 Callao was completely overwhelmed by the sea. Several travellers have related that on calm days with a clear sky the old town may be seen beneath the waves. I have also heard the same story from inhabitants of Callao. It is doubtless a mere fable. Under the most favorable circumstances I have often examined the spot—the Mar brava, as it is called—without being able to discover a trace of the ruins of old Callao.
The existing town of Callao is small, and by no means pleasant. In winter it is damp and dirty, and in summer so dusty that in passing through the streets one is almost choked. Most of the houses are very slightly built, and they are usually only one story high. The walls are constructed of reeds, plastered over with loam or red clay. All the roofs are flat, being made of straw mats laid on a frame-work of reeds, which is also plastered with loam on the under side. The windows are in the roof, and consist of wooden trap-doors, which look very much like bird-cages. They have no glass panes, but gratings made of wooden spars. On the inside there is a window-shutter, and a string hangs down into the apartment, by means of which the shutter can be opened or closed.
The most interesting object seen in Callao is the splendid fortress. Though built on a flat surface close to the sea, it has a magnificent appearance. It consists of two castles, the largest of which the Spaniards named Real Filippe, but since the Revolution it is called Castillo de la Independencia. It has two round towers, wide, but not very high. The court-yards are spacious. The walls are thick, rather low, and surrounded by a ditch, which can be filled with water from the sea. To the south of this castle there is a smaller one, called El Castillo del Sol. Before the War of Independence they mounted both together four hundred pieces of cannon, many of which were of very large calibre. At present they have only sixty pieces of cannon and seventy-one carronades.
On the fortress of Callao the Spanish flag waved long after independence was declared in all the countries of Spanish South America. The Spanish general, Rodil, threw himself into the castle, and with wonderful resolution held out against a siege of a year and a half. During the last three months the Spaniards suffered all the privations and miseries which a besieged army must endure within the tropics.
Lord Cochrane blockaded the fortress by sea, and General Bartolome Salom drew up his army on the land side. More than 4,000 Spaniards fled to the castle with all their valuable property, and took refuge under Rodil's protection. The greater part of the fugitives belonged to the principal families of the country. When provisions began to fail, the commandant found it necessary to expel 400 women, and one morning they issued forth in a long line of procession. The besiegers supposed that the enemy was making a sortie, and directed the fire of their artillery against the helpless beings, who, uttering loud shrieks, attempted to save themselves by flight. As soon as the mistake was discovered the firing stopped, and the women were conveyed to Lima. Insurrections were several times attempted by the garrison of Callao; but the presence of mind and cool resolution of Rodil in every instance enabled him to suppress these mutinies. The guilty were punished with so much severity that the soldiers soon gave up all further attempts. Horses, asses, dogs and cats, became at length the food of the besieged. Rodil at this time carried on a traffic which does no honor to his character. He had a quantity of provisions stored, which he now sold at immense prices. For a fowl he got from three to four gold ounces. He demanded proportional prices for bread, &c. A contagious fever broke out, and, of more than 4000 persons who had taken refuge in the fortress, only about 200 survived the siege. Hunger and disease at last obliged Rodil to yield. On the 19th of February, 1826, he obtained an honorable capitulation, and embarked with his acquired wealth for Spain, where he was invested with the rank of commander-in-chief of the infantry guards.