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Title: South America To-day - A Study of Conditions, Social, Political and Commercial in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil
Author: Clemenceau, Georges
Language: English
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SOUTH AMERICA TO-DAY

A Study of Conditions, Social
Political, and Commercial
in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil

by

GEORGES CLEMENCEAU

Formerly Prime Minister of France



G. P. Putnam's Sons
New York and London
The Knickerbocker Press
1911

Copyright, 1911
By
G. P. Putnam's Sons

The Knickerbocker Press, New York



INTRODUCTION


I have been asked for my impressions as a traveller in South America. I
had no sooner promised them than a difficulty presented itself. I have
no notes of my journey, and I should be sorry to have them, for it is
annoying to record impressions in black and white at the precise moment
when one feels them most vividly. And I pass over in silence the hour
when it is wisdom to remain quiet.

The task of Christopher Columbus was lightened by one fact. America
was there, stationary, in the middle of the sea, only waiting for some
one to knock against it. I even found in Brazil an eminent Senator for
the State of Saint Paul, Señor Almeida Nogueira, who declared that the
principal event of that Friday, October 12th, was the discovery--by the
original Americans--of Europe in the person of the great Genoese. They
had this advantage over him--they had not left their homes.

What was I going to discover in my turn, at the risk of being
myself discovered?--unknown countries?--unheard-of peoples?--virgin
civilisations?--or simply points of comparisons for new judgments on
myself and on my country?

Our self-satisfaction will not allow us readily to admit that we have
anything to learn from young communities, though we are too ready to
talk in generalities about them. We cannot deny, however, that their
effort is fine, and tends continually toward success.

In such a result the least quick-sighted of us must be interested.
Facility of communication has multiplied the points of contact between
the men of every country. One of our first needs is to correct the
vague or false conceptions of the different human societies borne by
this globe in a tumult of joy and misery towards destinies unknown.

Because there was no one to contradict them, travellers of ancient
times were able to give full play to their wildest imaginings. A
proverb even sanctions their lack of veracity. When our good Herodotus
related that the army of Xerxes dried up the rivers on its passage,
the Athenians, perhaps, were not astonished. Christopher Columbus
himself died in ignorance of the continent on which he had landed,
convinced that he had reached the east coast of Asia. To-day it
is another matter. From the Poles to the torrid zone are at work
innumerable explorers who only succeed painfully in discovering the new
at the price of being verified by their rivals. The incidents which
accompanied the probable discovery of the North Pole by Commander Peary
showed the danger of rash assertions, even when denial seemed only
possible from seals and white bears.

I enjoy, happily, the great advantage of having discovered nothing.
And, as I am less ambitious of astonishing my contemporaries than of
suggesting reflections by the way, I shall perhaps escape offending
the susceptibilities of those formidable savants who, having theorised
upon everything, can only see everything from the standpoint of their
studies. Statisticians had better avoid me; I have nothing to tell
them. Having no preconceived notions, I shall not attempt to make
facts square with them. Having in mind Voltaire's expression that
the most mischievous ignorance is that of the critic, I confess that
my own criticism of old civilisations makes me indulgent towards new
experiments outside Europe.

I am of my time and my country, and at the end of a long career I
submit with equanimity to the public the opinions and judgments I have
gained. I do not share the prejudices current in Paris against the
suburban dwellers of Villers-sur-Marne or St. Cloud. Our comic journals
and our plays have inflicted the same kind of torture upon the South
Americans. Having ridiculed them for so long, has not the moment come
when we should study them, not merely to flatter ourselves at their
expense, but as a people who, more than any other, are our intellectual
children, and to ask ourselves whether we cannot sometimes learn
something from them?

It is not in three months that one gets definite ideas as to the future
of these vast territories, where a work of civilisation is going on
which will inevitably change the political and social equilibrium of
the planet that to-day is still, in effect, European. It is always
difficult to report faithfully what one has seen, for there is an
art in seeing as in telling. Without claiming to have achieved it, I
venture to hope that my observations, impartially recorded, will bear
the seal of good faith and be of some use to the reader.

It is obvious that the towns of South America, though some of them are
very fine and well laid out, cannot, by reason of their recent history,
offer monuments comparable with those of Europe. One not infrequently
hears a remark of this sort: "Have you seen that old church over there?
It is at least forty or fifty years old!" The towns derive their
chief interest from their situation and surroundings; their internal
features are only those which Europe has been pleased to send them
in superabundance. There remain the land and the people, two worthy
subjects of study. The land, rich in undeveloped forces, calls for new
energies. As it only becomes valuable through human labour, everything
depends upon man's activity. In the depth of his soul, at once
ingenuous and complex, are inscribed all the mysteries of the past, all
the secrets of the future.

Admitting that American civilisation is of recent origin, it must be
said that the American peoples, far from suffering from growing pains,
as we are fond of imagining, are really old races transplanted. Like
us, they bend under the weight of a heavy history of glory and human
suffering; they are imbued with all our traditions, good or bad; and
they are subject to the same difficulties, whilst manifesting their
vital energies in an environment better adapted to their display.

Then, again, let us not fail to distinguish between Latin America of
the South and Anglo-Saxon America of the North. Let us refrain as well
from generalities, sometimes unjustifiable, regarding the parallel
development of two orders of civilisation, and the future destinies
which, in hours of crisis, may appear uncertain, of old historic races.

I shall deal only with Latin America, without, however, losing sight of
the great Republic of the North, where I lived nearly four years. Since
neither Jefferson nor Washington foresaw the economic evolution which,
in a little more than a hundred years, was to be realised by their
infant Republic, it behoves me to be modest in my prophecies. But, if
I firmly believe that, in spite of the "historic materialism" of Karl
Marx, commercial interests are not the only factors in civilisation;
if I take from an eminent writer in Brazil, Señor Arinos de Mello, the
curious information that in 1780, at 1400 kilometres from the coast,
at the house of his great-grandfather, who had never seen the ocean, a
company of amateurs played the tragedies of Voltaire--I must conclude
that the influence of Ideas, inherited from our forefathers, is not
less certain or durable than that of international trade relations.
This I say with no intention of depreciating the importance of such
commerce as, even at that time, served as the vehicle of Ideas--just
as the good sailing ship transported a copy of Voltaire's _Mérope_
or _Mahomet_ from Rotterdam to Pernambuco, and a train of mules took
a month to complete the journey. It should remind us that moral
influences are not inferior in results to monetary affairs.

We French have allowed ourselves to be outstripped in economic matters
at too many points of the globe. Yet, notwithstanding our mistakes,
our eighteenth century--with the Revolution which was its inevitable
outcome--has constituted for us a patrimony of moral authority which we
should seek not only to preserve, but also, if possible, to enlarge.

    G. C.



CONTENTS


                                                     PAGE

  INTRODUCTION                                        iii

  CHAPTER

    I.  THE OUTWARD VOYAGE                              1

   II.  MONTEVIDEO AND BUENOS AYRES                    18

  III.  BUENOS AYRES (_Continued_)                     48

   IV.  FOREIGN COLONISTS IN ARGENTINA                 81

     V. ARGENTINE EDUCATION, HOSPITALS, AND ASYLUMS   109

    VI. ARGENTINE TYPES, MANNERS, AND MORALS          142

   VII. ARGENTINE POLITICS                            175

 VIII.  PAMPAS LIFE                                   204

   IX.  FARMING AND SPORT                             233

    X.  ROSARIO AND TUCUMAN                           257

   XI.  URUGUAY AND URUGUAYANS                        289

   XII. RIO DE JANEIRO                                316

  XIII. BRAZILIAN SOCIETY AND SCENERY                 352

   XIV. BRAZILIAN COFFEE                              389

  INDEX                                               427



SOUTH AMERICA TO-DAY



South America To-Day



CHAPTER I

THE OUTWARD VOYAGE


The _Regina Elena_ is in harbour. A great white boat vomits volumes of
black smoke from its two funnels, whilst the siren sounds the familiar
farewell. Two gangways, on which luggage and passengers are jostling
desperately, present the peculiar spectacle of departing crowds. On a
dais of multi-coloured sunshades, the wide hats of beautiful Genoese
women offer their good wishes to the little veiled toques of the
travellers. People stop in the narrowest part of the gangway to laugh
and cry together. Vainly the human flood tries to break through the
obstacle. The current, according to its strength, carries the living
mass of feathers and ribbons back to the landing-place or pushes it on
to the deck, where, in a perfect maze of movement and exclamations, it
continues to stop the traffic.

Not far away, heavily laden with nondescript burdens, the silent
emigrant forces his way to the lower deck, dragging old parents and
young children after him. Do not imagine the emigrant leaving Italy for
the Argentine to be the miserable human specimen one generally sees. He
is neither more nor less than a workman moving from one hemisphere to
another. We shall meet him again on board. Strongly attached to family
life, his peculiarity is to move about with his wife and progeny. The
difference in seasons allows him, after cutting corn on the Pampas, to
return to Italy for the harvest. Often he settles down in the Argentine
under the conditions which I shall explain later, and takes strong root
there. Often, again, the love of his native land speaks louder than his
love of adventure, and the steamship companies are glad to profit by
the circumstance.

The siren has blown its last authoritative blast; the last visitors
have returned to land; the huge monster glides gently out to sea. One
sees nothing but waving handkerchiefs and hears nothing but parting
words. We are off. "Good-bye." The grand amphitheatre of white marble
and sunburnt stones glides slowly past us, dazzling in the warm light.
Already our eyes were looking with curiosity and hopefulness towards
the liquid plain. Are we flying from Europe, or is Europe flying from
us? From this moment we shall look to see America surge up from the
horizon on the day ordained.

The first impressions of the boat are excellent: it is admirably fitted
up; clean as a new pin, with good attendance. We are welcomed in a most
charming manner by the Captain, de Benedetti, a _galant 'uomo_, who
advertises his French sympathies by flying a French flag. A fortnight
in a handsome moving prison, with floods of salt air to fill one's
lungs, and the marvellous panorama of sky and sea, shot with luminous
arrows. Our daily promenades are those of prisoners condemned to walk
in an eternal circle. As long as land is in sight, our eyes linger on
the blue line of mountains, which speaks to us of the country which,
in spite of the revolving screw, our hearts refuse to leave.

The Ligurian coast, crowned by Alpine heights; Provence, rich in
memories, blue mountains darkened by the dying day; grey spots,
which represent Toulon and Marseilles. A choppy, rather rough sea,
complicated by a ground swell, as we cross the Bay of Lyons, tries the
ladies, who had hitherto been very lively. They retire to their cabins,
whence issue sinister sounds.

But let us pass on. To-morrow's sun will illumine the joyous
hospitality of Barcelona.

Never did land look so fascinating to me. I have crossed the Atlantic
eight times without ever feeling that kind of anticipated regret for
the old Continent. Youth longs for the Unknown, but age learns to fear
it.

The passengers lunched on shore. Then came a visit to the _Rambla_,
sad and deserted under the grey sky. We linger over our first letters
home, which can neither be called letters from abroad nor letters
of farewell. A cab carries us about in a haphazard way, past modern
houses which are a disgrace to Spain and our epoch, and past façades
of convents burnt down in the last revolution. Finally, we are driven
back to the quay, where, since morning, a crowd of fruit-sellers,
picturesquely attired in red and yellow, have been selling their wares
to the emigrants, forbidden by the regulations to land at the ports of
call. Nets attached to long poles, filled with provisions of all sorts,
are offered to the passengers on the lower decks and held at a safe
distance until the sum, which has been volubly disputed, falls into the
outstretched apron below.

But the signal is given. The teeming market disappears, and, without
more ado, we put out to sea. In the dusk of the evening we discern the
white summits of the Sierra Nevada, in whose shadow lie Granada and the
Alhambra. We shall pass Gibraltar in the night, and at dawn to-morrow
we shall have only the blue monotony of the infinite sea.

It is five days' steam to St. Vincent, in the Cape Verde Islands.
The passengers shake down, grouping themselves according to national
or professional affinities. Stretched on arm-chairs of excessive
size--which turn the daily walk into a steeplechase--fair ladies,
wrapped in shawls and gauzes, and profoundly indifferent to the comfort
of others, try to read, but only succeed in yawning. They chatter
aimlessly without real conversation. The cries of the children create a
diversion, and a badly-trained dog is a fruitful topic for discussion.
The men sit down to bridge, or smoke innumerable pipes in the Winter
Garden. I catch scraps of business talk around me.

The boldest foot it on the deck, but their enterprise does not please
the gentler passengers, who are in quiet possession of the only space
available for exercise. Soon, under the guise of sops to the ravenous
ocean appetite, piles of plates, glasses, and decanters, complicated
with stools and travelling rugs, encumber the passageway. As the soft
roll of the ship causes a certain disturbance of the crockery, the
pedestrian, young or old, has always a chance of breaking his leg--a
contingency to which the ladies appear to be perfectly indifferent. The
piano suffers cruelly from sharp raps administered by knotty juvenile
fingers. An Italian lady sings, and one of my own countrywomen sketches
a group of emigrants.

In the primitive setting of the steerage everybody is already at home
and appears happy. Attentive fathers walk and play with their offspring
and occasionally smack them by way of showing them the right path.
Mothers are nursing their babies or washing clothes. I am told that
there are no fewer than twenty-six nursing mothers out of a total of
six hundred third-class passengers on board. Amid the Italian swarm,
brightly coloured groups of Syrians stand out. The women, tattooed,
painted, and clad in light-coloured draperies, sometimes covered with
silver ornaments, fall naturally into the dignified and statuesque pose
of the Oriental. A few are really handsome, with a sort of passive
sensuality of bearing. It is said that the Syrians are the licensed
pedlars of the Pampas.

A visit between decks shows that the ventilation is good and that
cleanliness is insured by incessant application of brush and hose.
The sick bay is well kept. One or two patients are in the maternity
ward awaiting an interesting event before the Equator can be reached.
The food is wholesome and abundant. The Italian Government keeps a
permanent official on board who is independent of the officers of the
ship, and sees that the regulations concerning hygiene and safety for
this class of passengers are rigorously carried out. Frightful abuses
in former days necessitated these measures, which are now entirely
efficacious.

We are looking forward to calling at St. Vincent as a welcome break
in the monotony of our days. However, thanks to wireless telegraphy,
we are no longer cut off from the world on this highly perfected
raft which balances our fortunes between heaven and sea. One cannot
help feeling surprised when presented with an envelope bearing the
word "Telegram." Some one has sent me his good wishes for the voyage
from France by way of Dakar. Then by the same mysterious medium the
passengers of a ship we shall meet to-morrow wave their hats to us in
advance. On several occasions I have had the pleasure of receiving
messages of this sort; they are incidents in a day. From time to time
we can read the despatches of the news agencies posted in the saloon.
I leave you to imagine how, with our abundant leisure, we discuss
the news. From St. Vincent to the island of Fernando de Noronha, the
advanced post of Brazil, I do not think we were ever more than two days
out of range of wireless telegraphy. When it is compulsory to have a
wireless installation on board all ships, collisions at sea can never
occur. I visit the telegraph office situated forward on the upper deck.
It is a small cabin where an employee sits all day striking sparks from
his machine as messages arrive from all parts of the horizon; the sound
reminds me of the crackling of a distant mitrailleuse. Here one must
not allow the mind to wander even with the smoke of one's cigarette.
Through a technical blunder our unfortunate telegraphist, without
knowing it, sent the information to Montevideo that we were in danger.
In consequence, we learnt from the newspapers on our arrival that the
Government was sending a State ship to our help. We thus experienced
the sweet sensation of peril without danger, whilst the employee guilty
of the error found himself discharged.

We shall not profit by the call at St. Vincent, since we arrive in the
night. It is in vain that they tell us that the Cape Verde Islands are
nothing but a series of arid, yellow rocks; that St. Vincent can only
show commonplace houses and cabins with the inevitable cocoanut-trees;
that the "town" is only inhabited by negroes who pick up a living from
the ships that put in here to coal; whilst the English coal importers
and real masters of this Portuguese possession live up in the hills.
Nevertheless, we are disappointed of an opportunity to stroll on shore
towards a clump of trees, apparently planted there with the object of
justifying the name of the place, which is in reality the most barren
spot.

On our way we had passed the denuded rocks which somebody tells us are
called the Canaries. St. Vincent, it seems, is a second edition of the
Canaries--only more sterile. We have no difficulty in believing it when
at nightfall the _Regina Elena_ stops at the bottom of a deep black
hole dotted with distant lights, of which some are fixed to the bows of
small craft or tugboats drawing coal lighters, which dance up to us on
the waves.

Suddenly, as in the third act of _L'Africaine_, under the orders of an
invisible Nelusko, we are invaded on the starboard and port side by a
dual horde of savages. They are fearful-looking blacks, with grinning
masks, clothed in coal-dust, who swarm like monkeys up the shrouds
and fall on deck with the laugh of cannibals. We are assured that our
lives are not in danger, and, in fact, they are no sooner amongst us
than, attacked with sudden shyness, they offer in a low voice and in a
language in which French and English are strangely mixed, an assortment
of cocoanuts, bananas, and bags made of melon seeds, to which they seem
to attach great importance.

Once more we fall back on the small events of our daily life on board,
of which the principal is to find the point in the southern horizon by
which the speed of the ship can be calculated, under given conditions
of wind and tide. On the New York crossing, the Americans make of this
detail an excuse for a daily bet. I notice that the South Americans are
less addicted to this form of sport. The first impression made upon me
by these South American families with whom I am thrown in daily contact
is eminently favourable. Simplicity, dignity, and graciousness are
what I see: I find none of the extravagance ascribed to them by rumour.
Only on one point am I led to make a criticism: their children seem to
enjoy the utmost license of speech and action.

Henceforth our only subject of conversation is the probable date
on which we shall cross the Equator. The _Regina Elena_, with a
displacement of 10,000 tons, did 17 knots on her trials. If she
makes 14 or 15 now, we are satisfied. The sea is calm: not a stomach
protests. In these latitudes the storms of the North Atlantic are
unknown. We shall make the crossing from Barcelona to Buenos Ayres in
fifteen or sixteen days. A long rest for any one leaving or seeking a
life of excitement.

We amuse ourselves by watching troops of dolphins, divine creatures,
passing from the joys of the air to those of the sea with a facile
grace. What legends have been created about these mammals! From the
most ancient times they have been the friends of the seafarer! They
save the shipwrecked, and surrender to the charms of music. According
to Homeric song, it was from the dolphin that Apollo borrowed the
disguise in which he led the Cretan fishermen to the shores of Delphi,
where later his temple was built. How true to life is the undulating
line of the bas-reliefs on the monument of Lysicrates, in which the
Tyrrhenian pirates, transformed into dolphins, fling themselves into
the ocean, as though in feverish haste to try a new life! Souvenirs of
this old tale surge in my brain until I hear a voice saying harshly:
"All these filthy beasts ought to be killed with dynamite, for they
destroy the nets of the fishermen." Good-bye to poetic legend!
Friendship between man and the dolphin ends in utilitarian holocausts!

Civilisation has not yet stamped out the flying-fish. It is still left
to us to enjoy the spectacle of the great sea-locusts in flight, rising
in flocks into the air to escape from their greedy comrades in the
water, and dappling the wide blue plain with their winged whiteness.
They remind me of the story of the traveller who was readily believed
when he declared he had found at the bottom of the Red Sea a horseshoe
belonging to the cavalry of Pharaoh swallowed up in their pursuit of
the Hebrews. But when he talked of flying-fish, he found no credence
anywhere! It is true men have told so many tales that it is not easy to
know when it is safe to show surprise.

A daily increasing and heavy heat meets us as we draw near the Line.
Light flannel suits are brought into requisition, and breathing becomes
difficult to redundant flesh. We are in the _Black Pot_--skies low,
heavy with iron-grey clouds; an intermittent, fine rain which cools
nothing; a glassy sea; no breeze stirring. It feels like the interior
of a baker's oven. We take refuge in the dangerous electric fan which
is unequalled for adding a bad cold to the disagreeable sensation of
suffocation.

Nothing remains of the famous ceremony of christening the passenger who
crosses the Line for the first time. The innocent performance is now
converted into a ball, with a subscription for the crew. Passengers
on the lower deck waltz every evening with far less ceremony, to the
strains of an accordion, varying the entertainment by playing at
_Morra_, the national game. They stand up in couples and aim terrific
blows at each other's faces, accompanying the movement with savage
cries. If you watch carefully you will find that in this game of
fisticuffs the closed hand is stopped just in time and, at the same
moment, a certain number of fingers are shot out. Simultaneously a
voice cries a number, always less than ten; and the game consists in
trying to announce beforehand how many fingers have been pointed by the
two partners. This sport, which has the advantage of requiring none but
Nature's implements, is a great favourite with the Italians. Often, in
the early morning, from my berth, I used to hear an alarming barking in
the direction of the bows, which seemed to be the beginning of a deadly
quarrel, but was in reality merely the fun of the _Morra_.

Brazilian territory is now in sight--Fernando de Noronha. It is a
volcanic island three days off Rio de Janeiro. Successive streams of
lava have given strangely jagged outlines to the peaks. A wide opening
in the mountain lets in a view of the shining sea on the other side of
the island. Three lofty poles of wireless telegraphy stand out among
the foliage. They say that these posts were set there by Frenchmen.
Goodluck to them!

Captain de Benedetti pays me the compliment of celebrating the
Fourteenth of July. The Queen's portrait is framed in the flags of
the two nations. In the evening we have champagne and drink healths.
An Italian senator, Admiral de Brochetti, expresses, in well-chosen
language, his appreciation of the friendship of France and I echo his
good wishes for the sister nation.

Is there any better relief from the exhaustion of a sleepless night in
the tropics than a solitary walk beneath the starry firmament of the
Southern Hemisphere? Naturally, I sought the Southern Cross as soon as
it had risen above the horizon. It was another disillusionment caused
by an inflated reputation. Where are ye, O Great Bear and Pleiades, and
where the Belt of Orion? On the other hand, words fail to describe the
Alpha of Argo. Every morning, between three and four o'clock, I see on
the port side a sort of huge blue diamond which appears to lean out of
the celestial vault towards the black gulf of the restless sea as if to
illumine its abysses. I receive the most powerful sensation of living
light that the firmament has ever given to me. If there is in any part
of infinite space a prodigious altar of celestial fire, that focus must
be Canopus. It was assuredly there that Prometheus stole the heavenly
spark with which he kindled in us the light of life. There, too, Vesta
watches over the eternal hearth of sacred fire in which is concentrated
a more divine splendour than even that of a tropical sun.

But now the earth calls us back to herself, or, rather, it is the
stormy ocean that rouses us, for as we approach the immense estuary of
La Plata a tempest of icy wind blows suddenly upon us from the south.
This is the _pampero_, the south wind, the wind from the Pampas, which
blows straight from the frozen tops of the Andes. A heavy swell makes
the _Regina Elena_ roll in the great yellow waves, for already the
clay of the Rio de la Plata is perceptible in the sea and gives it
the aspect of a vast ocean of mud. To-morrow morning we shall be in
Montevideo.



CHAPTER II

MONTEVIDEO AND BUENOS AYRES


Through the vaporous atmosphere of the sky-line appear the serrated
edges of Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, which was formerly a
province of the Argentine, but is to-day an independent republic. In
the current language of Buenos Ayres, Uruguay is known simply as "the
Oriental Band," and when you hear it said of any one that "he is an
Oriental," know that by this term is not meant a Turk or a Levantine,
but the inhabitant of the smallest republic in South America, hemmed in
between the left bank of the Uruguay, Brazil, and the sea.

Quite apart from the question of size, the Argentine and Uruguay have
too much in common not to be jealous of each other. The Argentinos
would appear to think that the prodigious development of their country
must ultimately have the effect of bringing back Uruguay to the fold.
This may be so; but it is also quite possible that the "Oriental Band"
in her pride will continue to cherish her independence. Meantime, while
leaving to the future the solution of the question, there is a little
friction between them. Uruguay's revolutionary shocks usually originate
in Argentine territory, across the river. The Argentine Government is
certainly averse to any leniency towards those who incite to civil war,
but it is not always able to exact obedience. South American ways! It
is hardly necessary to add that the leaders of an unsuccessful party
are wont to take refuge in Buenos Ayres--ten hours distant by the
fine boats on the estuary--and that the natural magnet of commercial
prosperity enlarges this political nucleus by the powerful factor
of trade. There are no less than fifty thousand Orientals[1] in the
Argentine capital, and the daily traffic between the two cities may
be judged by the crowd assembled morning and evening on board the
_Piroscafi_.

A brisk walk round the city to obtain a first impression of South
America was the most I could do in a stop of a few hours. The landing
was somewhat laborious owing to a heavy sea. The President of the
Republic was obliging enough to send me a greeting by one of his
aides-de-camp, and placed at my disposal the most comfortable of boats,
which, after dancing gaily for a while on the waves, finally landed us
without too much trouble. The docks, constructed by a French firm, are
nearly approaching completion. The great European vessels could here,
as at Rio, moor alongside the quays. Why should the _Regina Elena_ lie
off outside? A question of red-tape, such as I found later at Rio de
Janeiro, exposes travellers to the annoyance of transhipping when every
accommodation exists for mooring inside the harbour. Thus on these
Latin shores I found a familiar feature of my own bureaucratic land.

Beside the French Minister, who is a friend, numerous journalists of
pen and kodak came to offer a cordial welcome to their _confrère_. M.
Sillard, an eminent engineer from the "Central" School at the head of
the French colony here, is in charge of the harbour works. He has
succeeded in winning for our country the esteem of every class of
the population. The motor-cars start off. The first visit is to the
Post-office where I am greeted by a cordial Montevidean whom I do not
recognise but whose first word reveals an _habitué_ of Paris. I have
travelled by a long road to find out here the boulevard atmosphere!

There can be no two opinions about Montevideo. It is a big, cheerful
town, with handsome avenues well laid out. Some fine monuments denote a
capital city. Streets animated but not too noisy; sumptuous villas in
the suburbs; subtropical vegetation in gardens and parks; a pleasant
promenade amid the palm-trees by the sea. The dwelling-houses are for
the most part of the colonial type. A very lofty ground-floor, with
door and windows too often surcharged with ornament resembling the
sugar-icing of the Italian pastry-cook, and calculated to convey to
these sunny lands an idea of cheap art. The unexpected thing is that
the first floor stops short at its balconies as if sudden ruin had
overtaken the builder. I found this feature repeated _ad infinitum_
wherever I went. The most modest of citizens, as soon as he can turn
his back on his primitive cabin of corrugated iron, makes a point of
arousing the admiration of the public with the decorative balcony of a
first floor that will never be built. Roofs flat and without chimneys:
the climate allows of this. Occasionally a balustrade that almost gives
the illusion of a finished building, but that the balcony, cut off
short at a height of from two to three feet, leaves you again in doubt
as to its object. The drawing-room windows are naturally in the front
of the house, and here ladies in their indoor dress have no objection
to showing themselves for the delectation of passers-by.

But let us say at once that in these countries where the blood is hot
misconduct is rare. Men marry young, and the demands of a civilisation
as yet untouched by decadence leaves little energy for pleasure that
must be sought elsewhere than on the strait path. I will not say
but what the great attraction of Paris for many South Americans is
precisely the pleasure of the novelty it offers in this respect. It is
sufficient for me to set down what came under my notice: happy homes
and regular habits; a tranquil enjoyment of a life of virtue. The
living-rooms are always grouped around a _patio_ with its colonnade
bright with trees and flowers, and here their occupants enjoy the
utmost privacy with an absence of street noises.

These are the impressions gathered in a hasty walk, since my first
visit was necessarily for the President of the Republic and my time
was strictly limited. The Presidential palace was a modest-looking
house, distinguished only by its guard. Many of the soldiers show
strong signs of mixed blood. Curiously enough the sentry is posted not
on the pavement but out in the street, opposite the palace. As traffic
increases, this rule will need to be changed. The President was not
in his office. I was cordially received, however, by the Minister of
Foreign Affairs, who was like the most obliging of Parisians. A few
steps from the palace I met the President of the Republic, with a small
crowd round him, and easily recognisable by his high hat. I was careful
not to interrupt him. He is going to do me the honour of receiving me
when I return to the capital of Uruguay.

Señor Williman is a compatriot, the son of a Frenchman, of Alsatian
origin. Before his election he was professor of physics, and he has
not thought it necessary to allow his political duties to interfere
with his educational work; twice a week he lectures in the college,
where he becomes again the happy schoolmaster whose pupils have not
yet developed their powers of contradiction. This charming democratic
simplicity is in curious contrast with our own persistent efforts to
save as much of the ancient autocratic machinery as possible from the
revolutionary shipwreck. It is agreeable to be able to testify to the
great personal influence that M. Williman wields in this land of Latin
dissension.

We must get back to the ship, which is announcing its departure. With
what pleasure shall I revisit Montevideo! There is perhaps more of a
French atmosphere about the capital of Uruguay than any other South
American city, and it has just enough exotic charm to quicken our
pleasure at finding French sympathies in these foreign hearts. We get a
view from the deck of the _Regina Elena_, as we pass, of the _Cerro_,
which is something like the Mont-Valérien of Paris, and which in
this land of flat alluvial soil assumes a very great importance. Like
its prototype, it is crowned with a bristling line of fortifications,
and Uruguay is so proud of this phenomenon that it has placed the
_Cerro_ in the national arms, where it figures in the form of a green
sugar-loaf; no good Oriental omits to tell you that there is nothing
like it in the Argentine.

Under the stinging breeze of the persistent _pampero_, our "screw"
began to turn again in the heavy, clayey waters, with a slow, regular
rhythm. To-morrow at daybreak we shall be looking through our glasses
at the port of Buenos Ayres.

The estuary of the Rio de la Plata (Silver River[2]) that we have now
entered is a veritable sea. Though this immense sheet of water is
practically landlocked, there is no trace of land on the horizon. It
is said to be as wide as the Lake of Geneva is long, not far short of
thirty miles, spreading to nearly five times these dimensions at its
mouth, after a course of 350 kilometres.

The area covered by the estuary is larger than Holland. Two big rivers,
the Uruguay and the Parana, pour their waters into this enormous _cul
de sac_, which is often ruffled by an unpleasant sea, as at this
moment, and, after their junction at the small town of Nueva Palmira,
in Uruguay, they project into the Atlantic a huge volume of water drawn
from a vast watershed representing one quarter of South America. The
tide is felt nearly a hundred miles above the confluence. Montevideo,
200 kilometres from Buenos Ayres, seems to guard the entrance of this
inner sea, whilst the Argentine capital, situated on the opposite
shore, is almost at the extremity of the bay. Clay deposits, silted
down by a relatively weak current, clog the estuary and require
constant dredging to keep the channel open to vessels of large tonnage.
This is the problem which faces the port authorities of Buenos Ayres.

At last the town comes in sight. From out the grey clouds driven by the
_pampero_ there emerge the massive shapes of the tall elevators--those
lofty cubes of masonry so dear to North America. Neither church
steeples nor any other prominent monuments. Low, prosaic banks, barely
distinguishable from the water, a few clumps of palms here and there,
unbroken plains, an utter absence of background to the picture. We
are preceded by two pilot boats, their flags flying in honour of the
President of the Republic, who is lunching on board a training ship
within the harbour.

Very slowly the _Regina Elena_ brings up at the quayside. The
gangway is put out, and behold a delegation of the Argentine Senate,
accompanied by an officer from the President's military household, sent
to welcome me. A deputation from the French colony also arrives, having
at its head the governor of the French Bank of Rio de la Plata, M. Py.
Cordial handshakes: a thousand questions from either side. Friendly
greetings are exchanged, some of them taking almost the form of brief
harangues in which the mother-country is not forgotten. Journalists
swarm round us. As might be expected, the _Prensa_, _Nacion_, and
_Diario_ have each a word to say. I offer my best thanks to the
members of the Senate. Farewell to the excellent Captain with my best
wishes. Then I get into the motor-car which ten minutes later drops me
at the door of my hotel. I am in the Argentine Republic. Henceforth I
must keep my eyes open.

Buenos Ayres first. It is a large European city, giving everywhere an
impression of hasty growth, but foreshadowing, too, in its prodigious
progress, the capital of a continent. The Avenida de Mayo, as wide as
the finest of our boulevards, recalls Oxford Street in the arrangement
of its shop-fronts and the ornamental features of its buildings. It
starts from a large public square, rather clumsily decorated and closed
on the sea side by a tall Italian edifice, known as the _Palais Rose_,
in which Ministers and President hold their sittings; it is balanced
at the other end of the avenue by another large square with the House
of Parliament, a colossal building nearly approaching completion, with
a cupola that resembles that of the Capitol of Washington. Every style
of architecture is to be seen, from the showy, the more frequent, to
the sober, comparatively rare. The finest building is without question
that of the wealthy _Prensa_, which we shall visit later.

There is an epidemic of Italian architecture in Buenos Ayres.
Everywhere the eye rests on astragals and florets, amid terrible
complications of interlaced lines. I except the dainty villas and
imposing mansions which call public attention to the dwellings of
the aristocracy. I suppose that the business quarters of all cities
present the same features. The commercial quarter of Buenos Ayres is
the most crowded imaginable. Highways that seemed spacious twenty or
thirty years ago for a population of two or three hundred thousand
souls have become lamentably inadequate for a capital city with more
than a million. The footway, so narrow that two can scarcely walk
abreast, is closely shaved by a tramway, which constitutes a danger to
life and limb. The traffic is severely regulated by a careful police.
But so congested with foot passengers do certain streets become of an
afternoon that they have had to be closed to vehicles.

In spite of the wisest of precautions, the problem of shopping in
the chief business district is not easily solved. To stroll along,
or, still worse, to pause to look in at a shop window, is out of the
question. Politeness demands here that the honours of the road be paid
to age as to sex; so if by chance, in the confusion, you come upon
a friend, you must stand on the outer edge of the pavement so as to
check as little as possible the flood of human beings driven inwards
by the almost continuous passing of the tramway. It is only just to
add that this means of locomotion, which is universally adopted here,
is remarkably well organised. Still, there are occasions when one must
go on foot, and the municipal government, which has laid out elsewhere
broad highways in which cabs, carriages, and motors may take their
revenge for the scanty accommodation afforded them in the overcrowded
centre, is faced with the urgent necessity of laying out hundreds of
millions of francs in a scheme for street improvement that cannot be
much longer postponed.

One of the peculiarities of Buenos Ayres is that you can see no
end to it. Since on the side of the Pampas there is no obstacle
to building operations, small colonial houses, similar to those
that attracted my notice at Montevideo, make a fringe on the edge
of the city, that extends ever farther and farther into the plain
in proportion as building plots in the city area--the object of
perpetual speculation--rise in value. Some of brick, some of plaster
or cement, these villas make comfortable quarters in a land where no
chimney-stacks are needed. The quality of the building, however, goes
down naturally as one draws nearer the Pampas. The lowest end of the
scale offers the greatest simplification: walls of clay dried in the
sun, with a roof of corrugated iron, or the more primitive _rancho_,
supported on empty oil-cans, placed at convenient distances, with the
spaces filled in with boughs or thatch. One hardly knows whether this
outer edge of habitations can fairly be included in the city area
or not. The motor-car has been travelling so long that a doubt is
permissible. The track is only a more or less level, earth road, which
just allows the car to run over its surface but cannot be said to add
anything to the pleasure of the drive.

The drawback in this country is the absence of wood, of stone, and of
coal. No doubt in the more distant provinces there are still fine
forests, which are being ruthlessly devastated either for _québracho_
(the tree that is richest in tannin), or for fuel for factory furnaces;
but the cost of transport is so great that the more prosperous part of
the Republic gets its timber from Norway. Uruguay, on the other hand,
supplies a stone that is excellent both for building and for macadam
and paving: a heavy expense. As for coal, it is the return cargo of
English vessels which carry as inward freight frozen meat and live
cattle.

Without comparing in density of shipping with the ports of London, or
New York, or Liverpool, a noble line of sea-monsters may be seen here
stretching seven miles in length, most of them being rapidly loaded or
unloaded in the docks by powerful cranes. The scene has been a hundred
times described, and offers here no specially characteristic features.

I should need a volume if I tried to describe the plan and equipment
of the docks of Buenos Ayres. Those who take an interest in the
subject can easily get all the information they need. The rest will be
grateful to me for resisting the temptation to quote long lists of
figures copied from technical reports. Here it will suffice for me to
state that there are two ports--the _Riachuelo_ and the "port of the
capital." The former is a natural harbour formed by a stream of the
same name. It is used as the auxiliary of the other, which is finely
fitted with every appliance of modern science. More than 30,000 craft,
sail and steam, come in and out annually, including at least 4000 from
overseas.

The big grain elevators have been described over and over again. Those
of Buenos Ayres are no whit inferior to the best of the gigantic
structures of North America. Each can load 20,000 tons of grain in a
day. To one there is attached a mill said to be the largest in the
world. Covered by way of precaution with the long white shirt that
stamped us at once as real millers, we wandered pleasantly enough
amongst the millstones and bolters which transform the small grey wheat
of the Pampas into fine white flour. Our Beauce farmers accustomed to
heavy ears of golden wheat would not appreciate this species, which,
moreover, requires careful washing. We were told that it is the
richest in gluten of all known species. Diabetics know, therefore, for
what to ask.

The slaughter-houses of the Negra, round which I was taken by M.
Carlos Luro (son of a Frenchman) form a model establishment in which
no less than 1200 oxen are killed daily, without counting sheep and
pigs--a faithful copy of the famous slaughter-houses of North America.
The beast, having reached the end of a _cul de sac_, is felled by a
blow from a mallet and slips down a slope, at the foot of which the
carotid artery is cut. After this operation, the body is hooked up by
a small wagon moving along an aerial rail, and is then carried through
a series of stages which end in its being handed over in two pieces to
the freezing chambers to await speedy shipment for England--the great
market for Argentine meat. The whole is performed with a rapidity so
disconcerting that the innocent victim of our cannibal habits finds
himself in the sack ready for freezing, with all his inside neatly
packed into tins, before he has had time to think. "We use everything
but his squeals," said a savage butcher of Chicago. Veterinaries are
in attendance to inspect each beast, which in the event of its being
condemned is immediately burnt.

The first colonists, arriving by sea, naturally built their town close
to the port. The capital now, in its prosperity, seeks refinement of
every kind, and laments that the approach to the seacoast is disfigured
by shipping, elevators, and wharves. The same might be said of any
great seaport. Buenos Ayres in reality needs a new harbour, but it
looks as if the present one could scarcely be altered.

It is naturally in this part of the town that you find the wretched
shanties which are the first refuge of the Italian immigrants whilst
waiting for an opportunity to start off again. Here is to be seen all
the sordid misery of European towns with the accompaniment of the
usual degrading features. I hasten to add that help--both public and
private--is not lacking. The ladies of Buenos Ayres have organised
different charitable works, and visit needy families; as generosity is
one of the leading traits in the Argentine character, much good is done
in this way. There are no external signs of the feminine degradation
that disfigures our own public streets.

Why is it that this swarm of Italians should stop in crowded Buenos
Ayres instead of going straight out to the Pampas, where labour is so
urgently needed? I was told that the harvest frequently rots on the
fields for want of reapers, and this in spite of wages that rise as
high as twenty francs per day. There are a good many reasons for this.
In the first place, such wages as this are only for a season of a few
months or weeks. Then again, these Italian labourers complain that if
they venture far from the city, they have no protection against the
overbearing of officials, who are inclined to take advantage of their
privileged position. I do not want to dwell on the point. The same
complaints--but more detailed--reached me in Brazil. Both the Argentine
and Brazilian Governments, to whom I submitted the charges brought
against their representatives, protested that whenever any abuse could
be proved against an agent he was proceeded against with the utmost
rigour of the law. There can be no doubt as to the good faith of the
authorities, who have every interest in encouraging the rapid growth
of the population in the Pampas. Besides, it must be borne in mind that
the elements of immigration are never of the highest quality. Still, I
should not be surprised to learn that there was occasion for a stricter
control in the direction I have indicated.

So far, I have said nothing of the beauties of the city. It is a pity
that amongst the attractions of Buenos Ayres the sea cannot be counted.
A level shore does not lend itself to decorative effect. A mediocre
vegetation; water of a dirty ochre, neither red nor yellow; nothing to
be found to charm the eye. So I saw the sea only twice during my stay
at Buenos Ayres--once on arrival, and again when I left. During the
summer heat, that section of the population which is not compelled to
stay flees to Mar del Plata, the Trouville of Buenos Ayres, a charming
conglomeration of beflowered villas on an ocean beach.

A perfectly healthy city. No expense has been spared to satisfy the
demands of a good system of municipal sanitation. Avenues planted
with trees, gardens and parks laid out to ensure adequate reserves of
fresh air, are available to all, and lawns exist for youthful sports.
The zoölogical and botanical gardens are models of their kind. A fine
racecourse, surrounded by the green belt of foliage of the Argentine
Bois de Boulogne, is known as Palermo.

A Frenchman, the genial M. Thays, well known amongst his European
colleagues, has entire control of the plantations and parks of Buenos
Ayres. M. Thays, who excels in French landscape gardening, takes
delight in devoting his whole mind and life to his trees, his plants
and flowers. He is ready at any moment to defend his charge against
attacks--an attitude that is wholly superfluous, since the public of
Buenos Ayres never lets slip an opportunity of testifying its gratitude
to him.

Wherever he discovers a propitious site, the master-gardener plants
some shoot which will one day be a joy to look upon. He has laid out
and planted fine parks. He has large greenhouses at his disposal, and
any prominent citizen, or any association popular or aristocratic can,
for the asking, have the floral decorations needed for a fête delivered
at his door by the municipal carts.

In his search after rare plants for the enrichment of his town, M.
Thays has visited equatorial regions--the Argentine, Bolivia, Brazil.
As his ambition vaults beyond the boundaries of Buenos Ayres, he has
conceived a project, already in process of execution, of founding a
great national park, as in the United States, in which all the marvels
of tropical vegetation may be collected. The Falls of Iguazzu--greater
and loftier than those of Niagara--would be enclosed in this vast
estate on the very frontiers of Brazil.

Apart from these plans of conquest, which make him a rival of
Alexander, M. Thays is a modest, affable man, who takes a good deal
of trouble to look as if he had done nothing out of the common. Were
I but competent I would describe the organisation of his botanical
garden, which is superior to any to be found in the old continent. More
amusing is it, perhaps, to follow him through the various sections
in which the characteristic flora of every part of the world is well
represented. The Argentine, as may be supposed, has here the larger
share. Here are displayed specimens of the principal species of flora
to be found in the district lying between the frozen regions of Tierra
del Fuego and the Equator: the Antarctic beech, the carob palm, the
_québracho_ (rendered extraordinarily durable by the quantity of tannin
it contains, and in great request for railway sleepers), walnut, and
the cedar of Tucuman or of Mendoza--which, by the way, is not a cedar.
It is from its wood that cigar boxes are made. It is used in the
woodwork of rich houses, for it is easy to handle and highly decorative
by reason of its warm colouring. Its fault is that it warps; wherever
you find it in house fittings, doors and windows refuse to open or shut
as they should.

But you should see M. Thays doing the honours of the _ombu_ and the
_palo borracho_. The _ombu_ is the marvel of the Pampas, the sole
tree which the locust refuses to touch. For this reason alone, it
has been allowed to grow freely, though not even man has found a way
to utilise what the voracious insects of Providence decline. For the
_ombu_ prides itself on being good for nothing. It does not even lend
itself to making good firewood. It is only to look at. But that is
sufficient. Imagine an object resembling the backs of antediluvian
monsters, mastodons or elephants, lying in the shade of a great mass
of sheltering foliage. Heavy folds in the grey rind denote a growing
limb, a rounded shoulder, a gigantic head half concealed. These are
the tremendous roots of the _ombu_, whose delight it is to issue forth
from the soil in the form of astonishing animated objects. When by foot
and stick you have ascertained that these living shapes are in reality
mummified within a thick bark, you turn your attention to the trunk
itself and find it hollow, with a crumbling surface.

Another surprise! The finger sinks into the tree, meeting only the
sort of resistance that would be offered by a thin sheet of paper. And
now fine powdery scales of a substance which should be wood, but, in
fact, is indescribable, fall into your hand. They crumble away into an
impalpable dust, which is carried off by the breeze before you have
had time to examine it. Now you have the secret of the _ombu_. Its
wood evaporates in the open air; at the same time there spring from
its strangely beast-like roots young and living shoots of the parent
tree. Since it is impossible to burn the non-existent, you cannot,
obviously, have recourse to the _ombu_ to cook your lunch. Here is an
example in the vegetable world of paradox, which has no mission in life
but a glorious uselessness. If it were but beautiful I should recommend
the _ombu_ to poets who profess to prefer the Beautiful to the Useful.
But as its appearance does not impress the beholder, the wisest course
is to impute its existence to momentary abstraction on the part of the
Creator.

The _palo borracho_, on the other hand, is extremely useful, though not
without a touch of capriciousness. Its popular name, which signifies
"the drunkard," has been given to it on the ground that it seems to
stagger; but such a name is a libel. This peaceful denizen of the
forest has nothing to do with the alcoholic world. Nor can it be said
to attract human society, for its strange trunk, strangled in a collar
of roots, and bulging in its middle parts, bristles with innumerable
points, short and sharp, which prevent all undue familiarity. These
thorns fall with age, at least from the lower part of the tree, but as
they exist elsewhere, even on the smallest twig, no animal, from man to
monkey, can venture upon its branches.

The trunk, if tapped with a cane, returns a hollow sound. The tree is,
in fact, empty, needing only to be cut into lengths to give man all he
needs for a trough. The Indian squaw uses it to wash her linen, and the
wood, exposed to the double action of air and water, becomes as hard as
cement. The unripe fruit, the size of a good apple, furnishes a white
cream, which, if not quite the quality demanded for five o'clock tea
at Rumpelmayer's, still supplies the natives with a savoury breakfast.
Later, when the fruit comes to maturity, it bursts under the sun's rays
into a large tuft of silky cotton, dotting the branches with white
balls and furnishing admirable material for the birds with which to
build their nests. It is for this reason that the species is known as
the "false cotton-tree." The exceedingly fine thread produced by this
tree is too short to be spun, but the Indians, and even Europeans, turn
it to account in many different ways. Soft pillows and cushions are
made with it, and I can speak personally of their comfort.

M. Thays was not the man to let us leave without seeing his plantations
of _yerba-maté_. Every one knows that _maté_, the Paraguay holly,
is a native of Paraguay, whence it spread to Chili, Brazil, and the
Argentine. Its leaves, dried and slightly roasted, yield a stimulating
infusion that is as much enjoyed by the South American colonists as
by the natives. Like kola, tea, and coffee, _maté_ contains a large
proportion of caffeine, which renders it a good nerve tonic and, at the
same time, a digestive.

I have tasted "Paraguay tea," or "Jesuits' tea," on several occasions,
but cannot honestly say I like it. The palate, however, ends by getting
used to anything. I have a friend who drinks valerian with pleasure.
All South America delights in the peculiar aroma of the strengthening
but, on first acquaintance, certainly unpleasant _maté_. Existence in
the Pampas is strenuous. The days are past when a cow was lassoed to
provide a beefsteak for your lunch. The favourite stimulant of the
_rancho_ is the _yerba-maté_ which puts new life into the exhausted
horseman. Everywhere in town and country, the first rite in the morning
is _maté_-drinking. Men and women carry the little gourd around, into
which each in turn dips the tube of the _bombilla_, a perforated disc
which travels from mouth to mouth, in the company of devotees.

In the old days, it was the tradition of _maté_-making to give the
first infusion--poured off quickly, but invariably slightly bitter--to
the servants. Growing familiarity with the herb has practically set
aside this practice: in fact, while it is, and probably always will be,
the favourite drink of the masses, the aristocracy and _bourgeoisie_,
though still appreciating _maté_, drink in preference China tea or
Santos coffee, like good Europeans. Yet the consumption of _maté_ has
increased enormously with the population. It has been calculated that
an Argentino spends twice as much in a year on _maté_ as a Frenchman on
coffee. Until the last few years the Argentine Republic, independently
of its home production, imported from Brazil and Paraguay 40 millions
of kilogrammes, estimated at 22 millions of francs.

As might be expected, the Argentine Government has shown itself anxious
to encourage the cultivation of _maté_. The difficulty lay in the
germinating process. In certain provinces of the Argentine, _maté_ grew
wild, but when sown the crops were a failure. After many trials, M.
Thays discovered that the seed only sprouted after long soaking in warm
water, and that, strangely enough, the plants thus produced could be
propagated without repeating this preliminary process. It appears that
in the ordinary course of nature, the fertilising process takes place
in the stomach of birds. The Jesuits had made the same discovery, but
on their expulsion they carried the secret away with them. M. Thays
rediscovered it. More than once an attempt has been made to introduce
the habit of _maté_-drinking into Europe. I do not think it will easily
come about. It would, nevertheless, be a great boon if _yerba-maté_
could with us, as in South America, be substituted for the alcohol
which is threatening us with irrevocable destruction.

I cannot leave the Botanical Garden without noting the pleasing effect
of the light trellises which are a feature of all large gardens here.
In this fine climate, where winter's cold is practically unknown,
neither shrubs nor flowers need the protection of glass. An arbour of
trellis-work with gay flower-borders forms a winter garden without
glass, in which sun and shade, cunningly blended, throw into delicate
relief the beauties of the plants. It is not quite the open air, and
neither is it the greenhouse. Let us call it a vast cage of decorative
vegetation.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] The census of 1904 shows only twenty-nine thousand.

[2] The estuary, which is not a river, and which contains not a
particle of silver, was thus named from a few native ornaments
discovered in its bed by the first comers.



CHAPTER III

BUENOS AYRES (_continued_)


Botany and zoölogy are sister sciences. We leave the plants to inspect
the beasts in the company of M. Thays, who is always glad to see his
neighbour M. Onelli.

The governor of the Zoölogical Garden of Buenos Ayres is a phlegmatic
little man, Franco-Italian in speech, and the more amusing in that his
gay, caustic wit is clothed in a highly condensed, ironical form. What
a pity that his animals, for whom he is father and mother, sister and
brother, cannot appreciate his sallies! Not that it is by any means
certain that they do not. It seems clear that they can enter into
each other's feelings, if not thoughts, since an intimacy of the most
touching kind exists between the man and inferior creation, to whose
detriment the rights of biological priority have been reversed.

I should like to pause before the llamas, used as beasts of burden to
carry a load of twenty-five kilogrammes apiece, or before the vicuñas,
whose exquisite feathery fur is utilised for the motor-car, and whose
private life would need to be told in Latin by reason of the officious
interference of the Indian in matters that concern him not a whit.

M. Onelli has housed the more prominent groups in palaces in the style
of architecture peculiar to their native land, and this gives to the
gardens a very pleasing aspect.

But first let us enjoy the animals. It is amazing to see the two
monstrous hippopotami leap from the water with movements of ridiculous
joyfulness in response to the whistle of their governor-friend, and, on
a sign from him, open their fearful caverns of pink jaws bristling with
formidable teeth to receive with the utmost gratitude three blades of
grass which they could easily cull for themselves beneath their feet if
these manifestations of joy were called forth by the delicacy and not
by friendship. The great beasts became human at sight of their master,
if one may thus describe ferocity.

The puma, a sort of yellow panther whose colour has apparently won for
him the name of the American lion, came running up to offer his back
to the caressing hand of his friend with a hoarse roar that seemed to
express rather helpless rage than voluptuousness.

The puma is perhaps the commonest of the wild beasts of the northern
provinces of the Argentine, for it retreats from before the approach of
man, and is more successful than the jaguar or the panther in escaping
the traps or the guns of the hunter.

M. Edmond Hilleret, who has killed several, told me that at Santa Ana,
near Tucuman, it was impossible to keep a flock of sheep, as they were
always devoured by the pumas in spite of all the efforts he made to
protect them. "Yet," he added, "notwithstanding my dogs and my peons
the puma can never be seen. He is quite a rarity."

After a short palaver with some delicious penguins newly arrived from
the southern ice, with their young, which would die of spleen if they
were not fed with a forcing pipe, like an English suffragette, we
pause before the grey ostrich of the Pampas, which has been nearly
exterminated by the cruel lasso of the _gaucho_.

The grey American ostrich, which should be safe from our barbarous
ways since his tail feathers offer no attraction for ladies' hats, is
interesting by certain peculiarities in his domestic habits. To the
male is left the duty of hatching the eggs, the female preferring to
stray. By way of compensation, the paternal instinct is the more keenly
developed in the father in proportion as the mother--reprehensible
bird!--neglects her duties. Thus before beginning to sit on the eggs,
he sets carefully aside two or three of them, according to the number
of young to be hatched, and when the little ones leave their shells,
he opens them with a sharp blow from the paternal beak, and spreads
in the sunshine the contents of the eggs his foresight had reserved;
the appetising dish attracts thousands of flies who promptly drown
themselves therein to make the first meal of the fledglings. Admirable
instance of the contradictory processes of nature designed for the
preservation of existing types.

But we have come to the palace of the elephants. There are half a
dozen of them beneath a vast dome, and the sight of M. Onelli rouses
them all. The heavy grey masses sway from side to side, large ears
beat up and down, while the small eyes wink; the trunks are flung
inquiringly round, eager for any windfall. One amiable and tame
elephant, the youthful Fahda, born on the place, hustles her colossal
friends, to clear a way to M. Onelli, who talks to her affectionately,
but is unable to respond as he should to her pressing request for
cakes. The governor gives us the reason of their friendliness.

"We have no secrets from each other," he remarks gently.

And it was truer than he thought, for the young trunk was softly
introduced into his tempting pocket, and brought out a packet of
letters which were forthwith swallowed. Thereupon exclamations as late
as fruitless from the victim, who thus witnessed the disappearance of
his correspondence down the dark passages of an unexpected post-office
from which there is no hope of return.[3]

M. Onelli kindly offered us a few minutes' rest in his own _salon_. But
what did we find there? The housemaid who opened the door to us carried
a young puma in her arms, and I know not what sort of hairy beast on
her back. The gnashing of white teeth proceeded from under the chairs
and coiled serpents lay in the easy-chairs. Indeed, we were not the
least tired! Palermo must be visited.

The celebrated promenade starts nobly at the Recoleta, where the
lawns and groves are seen in a setting of harmonious architecture.
Carriages of the most correct British style, drawn by superb horses,
and noisy motor-cars dash swiftly by. But for the groups of exotic
trees one might be in the Bois. Palermo begins well. Unfortunately,
we suddenly find before us an avenue of sickly coco-palms, whose bare
trunks are covered with dead leaves, giving an unpleasing perspective
of broom-handles. This tree, which is so fine in Brazil, is not in its
element here. When planted in rows, even in the streets of Rio, it is
more surprising than beautiful. It is in groves that it best displays
its full decorative qualities. I take the liberty of suggesting that
M. Thays should pull up the horticultural invalids and plant eucalyptus
or some other species in their place.

But we are not yet at the end of our troubles. Less than two hundred
yards down, the railway traverses the avenue on a level crossing. A
gate, generally closed, a turnstile for pedestrians, a station, and all
the rest of it. After a wait of ten minutes, the train duly passes,
and then the motor-car plunges into a roadway, full of ruts, leading
to a dark archway which carries another railway across the promenade,
making an ugly blot on the landscape. And now we reach a further marshy
road, bordered with young plantations, which leads across a leafless
wood dividing the railway track from the estuary of La Plata.

A succession of trains on one hand, and a muddy yellow sea on the
other: as a view it is not romantic. Gangs of labourers are at work on
the roads, which are badly in need of their attentions. No doubt some
day this will be a superb promenade. It is only a question of making
it, and the first step must be to clear away the railway-lines with
their embankments and bridges. This is probably the intention, since
I was assured that the level crossing would shortly be swept away.
That will be a beginning. M. Bouvard is not likely to overlook the
importance of the matter. My only fear is lest the situation should
make it impossible for Palermo ever to attain to imposing proportions.
But one thing is certain, if M. Thays can get a free hand, the city
will not lack a park worthy the capital of the Republic.

Need I say that squares and parks alike are superabundantly decorated
with sculpture and monuments both open to criticism? There is nothing
more natural to a young people than a desire to acquire great men
in every department as early as possible. Yet idealism that is to
be materialised must, one would think, have its base set solidly on
established facts. In a country whose population offers a mixture of
all the Latin races, art could not fail to flourish. It will free
itself from its crust as fast as public taste is purified. Works
such as those of M. Paul Groussac, or the fine novel by M. Enrique
Rodrigues Larreta,[4] the distinguished Minister of the Argentine
Republic in Paris, are evidences of the development of literary taste
on the banks of the Rio de la Plata.[5]

The sculptor does not appear to have reached quite the same point,
but I hasten to add, for the sake of justice, that our own hewers
of marble, with a very few prominent exceptions, expose nothing in
Buenos Ayres which is calculated to throw into too dark a shade their
_confrères_ of across the ocean.

France, Italy, and Spain supply some fairly fine statuary for the
Latin confraternity. But, as might be readily imagined, a legitimate
desire to write history on every square and market-place has given a
profusion of monuments to soldiers and politicians. The same mania has
been pushed to such extremes in our own land that it would ill become
me to make it a subject of reproach to others; nevertheless it behoves
us to acknowledge that the Argentine Republic has, both in times of war
and of peace, produced some great men. It suffices to mention the names
of San Martin (whose statue is being raised at Boulogne-sur-Mer and at
Buenos Ayres) and of Sarmiento.

If genius were always at the disposal of Governments, the wish to
perpetuate to all eternity the renown a single day had won for them
might readily be pardoned. But men of genius are rare, and they are
apt to make mistakes like other men. And for the rest, the statues
that are put up to their memory serve merely to inspire in our breasts
a few philosophic reflections on the danger of a permanent propaganda
of mediocrity! Besides, the sculptor has this defect--that he forces
himself on the attention of the passer-by. We are not compelled to
purchase a poor book or to go into ecstasies over all the Chauchard
collection, whereas we are unable to avoid the sight of the statue of
Two-shoes by Thingummy. My only consolation is that such monuments
will not prevent the advent of other supermen in the future, who, like
those of the past, will raise their own monuments in a surer and better
manner by their own glorious achievements.

But it is time to leave these men of marble and come to the living,
of whom I have so far said not a word. My remark as to the European
aspect of Buenos Ayres at first sight must be taken as referring merely
to its outdoor life. I do not speak of the business quarter, which
is the same in all countries. The man who is glued to the telegraph
wire or to the telephone, waiting for the latest quotations in the
different parts of the globe in order to build on them his own careful
combinations, is, notwithstanding his patriotism, an international
type whose world-wide business connection must in time modify his own
characteristics and make of him the universal species of merchant.

At the same time, the population of any large European city, while
preserving in its general outline the special characteristic evolved
by its own history, does yet show a certain trend in the direction
of some well-defined types of modern activity whose attributes are
the outcome of natural conditions of civilisation the world over. But
when transplanted outside Europe, the original characteristics are
inevitably modified by the new environment, and the result will be a
striking differentiation--North America is an example of this.

In the eyes of our ancient Europe, with its venerable traditions
and its base of primeval prejudice, the man who ventures to strike
a new root in a colony beyond the sea will have to expiate his new
prosperity by some extravagances which will expose him to the fire of
the satirical pressman or playwright. This is the reason why South
America, having undoubtedly borne in common with every country of
Europe some few fantastic types of high and of low ideals, suddenly
finds herself represented to the public, for the greater entertainment
of the boulevard, as being exclusively peopled with those strange
creatures we have christened _rastaquouères_, whose privilege it is to
lead a life that is ever at variance with all the laws of common-sense.

If all we ask is a joke at the expense of our neighbours, the Gauls of
Paris may give rein to their wit. Still, it may be useful for us all to
know that these so-called _rastaquouères_, leaving to petty tyrants the
whole field of ancient history, have not only secured to their country
by their steady labour its present prosperity, but have also founded
in their new domain a European civilisation which is no whit inferior
in inspiration to that which we are for ever vaunting. They learn our
languages, invade our colleges, absorb our ideas and our methods, and
passing from France to Germany and England, draw useful comparisons as
to the results obtained.

We are pleased to judge them more or less lightly. Let us not forget
that we in our turn are judged by them. And while we waste our time
quarrelling about individuals and names, they are directing a steady
effort toward taking from each country of Europe what it has of the
best, in order to build up over yonder on a solid base a new community
which will some day be so much the more formidable that its own
economic force will perhaps have as a counterbalance the complications
of a European situation that is not tending toward solution.

In spite of everything, France has managed to maintain so far friendly
and sympathetic relations with the Republic. Latin idealism keeps these
South American nations ever facing toward those great modern peoples
that have sprung from the Roman conquest. I cannot say I think we
have drawn from this favourable condition of things all the advantage
we might have derived from it, both for the youthful Republics and
for our Latinity, which is being steadily drained by the huge task of
civilisation and by the vigorous onslaught that it is called on to
sustain from the systematic activity of the Northern races.

The great Anglo-Saxon Republic of North America, tempered by the same
Latin idealism imported in the eighteenth century from France by
Jefferson, is making of a continent a modern nation whose influence
will count more and more in the affairs of the globe. May it not be
that South America, whose evolution is the result of lessons taught
to some extent by the Northern races, will give us a new development
of Latin civilisation corresponding to that which has so powerfully
contributed to the making of Europe as we know it? It is here no
question obviously of an organised rivalry of hostile forces between
two great American peoples, who must surely be destined both by reason
of their geographical situation, as also by mental affinities, to unite
their strength to attain to loftier heights. The problem, which ought
not to be shirked by France, will be henceforth to maintain in the
pacific evolution of these communities the necessary proportion of
idealism which she had a large share in planting there.

In following such a train of thought, how can we help pausing for an
instant to consider the Pan-American Congress which so fitly closed the
splendid exhibition of the Argentine centenary? With the sole exception
of Bolivia, every republic of South America sent a representative
to the palace of the Congress to discuss their common interests--an
imposing assembly, which in the dignity of its debates can bear
comparison with any Upper Chamber of the Continent of Europe. For my
part, I sought in vain for one of those excitable natures, ever ripe
for explosion--the fruit, according to tradition, of equatorial soil.
I found only jurisconsults, historians, men of letters or of science,
giving their opinions in courteous language, whose example might with
advantage be followed by many an orator in the Old Continent. Not,
of course, that passions were wholly absent from these debates. In
these new countries, where the strength of youth finds a free field
for its display, and where revolution and war are the chief traditions
of the race, warmth of feeling has too frequently transformed the
political arena into a field of battle. But by degrees, as the
community takes form and acquires greater weight in every domain of
public life, there grows up an imperious need of organised action, and
the youthful democrats themselves end by realising that a people can
only govern itself when its citizens have proved themselves capable of
self-discipline.

Of all the problems which might naturally present themselves in a
Pan-American Congress, those that might be expected to call forth
implacable opposition were rigorously eliminated. An exchange of views
took place, and each delegate was able to report to his principals
a number of conclusions calculated to pave the way to future
understandings.

When the Congress threw out the proposal to generalise the Monroe
Doctrine and apply its principle to the whole of the South American
continent, the representative of a large State said to me:

"We shall separate without accomplishing anything."

"It is already much to have avoided all conflict," I replied, "and if
you had really accomplished nothing you would still have been useful in
that you had met, talked together, understood one another, and parted
on good terms."

Perhaps the man whose position was the most delicate of all was Mr.
Henry White, the delegate of the great northern Republic, and the
distinguished diplomat so popular in Parisian society, who contributed
to the utmost of his power towards finding an equitable solution of the
Franco-German conflict at the Algeciras Conference. At the Congress of
Buenos Ayres, the delegate of Washington had, like the representative
of Uruguay, one vote only, and his efforts were directed to making his
collaborators forget that he was a "big brother," a very big brother,
faintly suspected of tendencies towards an hegemony. It took all the
gracious affability of Mr. White to disarm the distrust aroused more
especially by the proposal to place Southern America under the banner
of the Monroe Doctrine, and thus the Congress could be dissolved
without a word of any but good-will and American brotherhood.

The Pan-American Congress was the natural outcome of the great
international exhibition by which the Argentine Republic celebrated
the centenary of its independence. The great fairs of older times
existed with very good reason. There was every advantage to be gained
by bringing together at stated times the produce of different districts
at a period of the world's history when the deficiency of means of
communication placed insurmountable obstacles in the way of producer,
merchant, and consumer. To-day, thanks to steampower, every city in the
world offers a permanent exhibition adapted to the needs of its public,
and the traveller wastes his time when he endeavours to bring back from
his journeys some article unknown to his countrymen. For this reason
the finest of international exhibitions can reserve no surprises to its
visitors. And as for experts, or specialists in any branch of commerce
or industry, he is to be pitied who awaits the opening of one of these
universal bazaars in order to obtain information on some detail of his
business.

There remain evidently the amusements and entertainments which in
such gatherings are naturally intended to arouse the pleasure-loving
instincts of crowds. But civilisation has pretty well surfeited us
with such amusements, which are now better calculated to tempt than
to satisfy us. And when the friendly city that summons us to such a
show is situated 11,000 kilometres from our shores, it requires a more
powerful attraction than this of the "already seen" to induce us to
undertake the expedition.

For all these reasons and without seeking any others the Buenos Ayres
Exhibition could not be a success either in the way of money or of
the concourse of peoples. An unfortunate and ultra-modern strike
retarded the arrangements to such a point that on the anniversary
day, May 25th, only the section of _ganaderia_ (cattle-breeding) was
ready. Notwithstanding a multitude of difficulties, pavilions were
put up, in which were amassed and docketed in the usual fashion some
of those products which the greed for gold brings to all the depots
of the world. A few special side-shows were remarkably successful. Of
these may be mentioned the English exhibit of the railway industry and
the German section of electricity. Some of the buildings were never
completed, as that of the Spanish section. France, I regret to say,
did not distinguish herself. The omission is inconceivable when one
considers what a market might in this way have been found for our
manufactures. Apart from some interesting displays by dressmakers,
jewellers, and goldsmiths, exhibited in a tasteful pavilion slightly
resembling Bagatelle, and called the Palace of Applied Art, we found
nothing to send. I admit that for France this was not sufficient.
England, however, exhibited a magnificent State railway-carriage--said
to be worth two millions--which she presented to the President of
the Republic. It is a luxury that the English might very well permit
themselves, since almost all the railways of the Argentine are in their
hands. And why, if you please? Because the engineer who one day invited
tenders for the construction of the first Argentine railway-line found
in Paris no support, and from our capital (I have it from his own lips)
he turned to London, where the enterprise was carried to colossal
proportions.

We could hardly help being represented in the art and sculpture
pavilions. I can honestly say that our exhibit, well-organised, was
highly creditable to the nation. But, without any tremendous effort,
we might have done much better! We reckoned, perhaps, on the Argentine
millionaires coming to Paris to look for the works we failed to exhibit
in their capital. If only millionaires were concerned, I should say
nothing. But it is precisely because the art education of the Argentine
people is as yet rudimentary, as might also be said of more than one
nation in ancient Europe, that we ought to have attempted to arouse a
wider public interest instead of appealing merely to connoisseurs, who
are in the habit of getting what they want in the picture-galleries of
the Old World. Some excellent examples were shown, no doubt; that was
the least we could do. Our home artists would not risk the experiment
of creating a kind of exhibition-museum, which might have been a
revelation of French art and have had the effect of arousing the need
of the Beautiful which is latent in every nation, and at the same time
inviting that intelligent criticism which is a powerful factor in the
development of taste in connoisseurs.

There is no art museum worthy the name in the Argentine Republic. You
must exist before you can add adornment. If, however, I may judge by
what I saw in a few private galleries, the time is at hand when the
need for large art collections will be fully acknowledged in the south
as it is now in the north; there, forty years ago, I know by personal
observation that the ground was less fully prepared than it is to-day
in the Argentine, while now we see the treasures of Europe being
eagerly bought up in order that the New World may soon vie with the Old
on this point.

I must not omit to say a word on the retrospective exhibit of "colonial
days." A centenary celebration implies a history and a past, and
this history is remarkably well illustrated by the instruments of
civilisation now in the hands of the founders. What a contrast there is
between the more than sumptuous railway-carriage of which I spoke just
now and the archaic coaches, fat-bellied barouches, and Merovingian
chariots which used to pick a painful way across the pathless Pampas,
transporting from plantation to plantation families that had but
little prospect of ever amassing more than they needed for a bare
daily life. Utensils of the simplest, bespeaking a time when wood was
scarce. Weapons of the clumsiest, undressed skins as a protection from
the occasional blasts of the _pampero_. In a period when the horse was
the universal means of locomotion--he still is as a matter of fact,
to a very great extent, since in the country the little children must
mount their ponies to go to school--the equipment of the horseman was
a pompous bedizenment in Spanish guise, from his heavy brass ornaments
to the rowels of monstrous spurs. All this belongs to the ancient
times of scarcely fifty years ago, and when you meet a _gaucho_ on his
thick-set horse, his feet in weighty wooden stirrups hanging vertically
like wheels, you realise that the modern miracle of iron roads has not
been able to entirely wipe out the primitive machinery of a world of
colonists.

The section of Argentine produce--cattle, timber, plants, fruits,
cereals, etc.--is specially interesting to foreigners. To describe
it would be to write the economic history of the land. I heard on
all sides that the cattle exhibits were exceptionally fine. I am not
astonished, now that I have seen in the shows and on the _estancias_
(farms) the finest of stock for breeding purposes. We know that out
on the Pampas the rearing of horses and horned cattle as well as of
sheep has developed enormously. I shall have occasion presently to
return to the subject when I speak of the famous freezing-machines
which supply the English markets with meat slaughtered in Buenos
Ayres--to say nothing of the live cattle exported. The only detail that
I shall give here is that the event of the day has been the purchase
by a meat-freezing company of five oxen for beef at the price of
25,000 francs apiece (£1000). This looks like madness, and perhaps it
is. We are beginning to learn in Europe to what point the craze for
advertisement is carried by Americans. I only quote this fact because
it throws more light on certain traits of character than any number of
traveller's tales could do.

Grain-growing--wheat and maize--like that of flax (of which they burn
the stalks for want of knowing how to utilise them) has recently grown
enormously. I shall return to this subject also later on, when I speak
of the Pampas, with their immense stretch of arable land between the
Andes and the sea, yielding every kind of harvest without manure and
almost without labour. Wherever the locomotive makes its appearance
there blossoms forth a fertile strip of country on either side of the
line, which on the plan of the administrators symbolises an instant
rise in value of the property whose produce has henceforth a quick
means of transport to its market. Had I not firmly resolved to abstain
from quoting figures and facts cut out of books of statistics, I could
easily dazzle the reader by showing him the fantastic increase in the
crops of maize alone, standing in gigantic ricks round the _estancias_,
pending the moment when they will be handed over to the gigantic
elevators to be flung on board the English and German cargo-boats.

Strolling through the galleries in which are accumulated the exhibits
of Argentine agricultural produce, you are forced to admire the variety
of species yielded by a soil that produces clover two and a half yards
in height! I say nothing of the fruits and vegetables, because at that
season of the year I could not try them. Neither seemed to me to
compete with European varieties. As for the tropical fruits, with the
exception of the oranges and pines, they are astonishing, I confess,
but I cannot give them any other praise.

In the section of Argentine timber is to be seen in the front rank
the "false cedar" and the marvellous _québracho_, of which I have
already spoken. No other wood can be compared with this in respect
of the quantity of tannin it contains. For this reason the immense
forests of the northern provinces are being devastated to supply the
manufacturers. Railway-sleepers and stakes for the wire-fencing that
marks out the immense stretches of Pampas are the principal employment
for _québracho_, irrespective of the extraction of tannin. As the
demand increases, and the idea of replanting does not seem to have
occurred to the Argentinos, it is reasonable to foresee the moment
when the Government of the Republic, having neglected to husband its
resources, will have only vain lamentations to offer to its customers.
The day may be far distant; I do not dispute it. Such an improvident
policy is, none the less, reprehensible. How many years, moreover,
must elapse between the planting of the young _québracho_ and its
maturity? Indeed, the same remarks might be made of all the other
species of timber.

When you have seen tree-trunks that were many centuries in growth
falling bit by bit into the maw of a factory furnace, without any
attempt being made to replace them, when you have been saddened by
the spectacle of the marvellous Brazilian forests blazing in every
direction to make room for coffee plantations that will presently
spring up amongst the charred trunks, you realise keenly that there
is no more urgent need in these great countries than a complete
organisation of forestry. If in some parts of Brazil the soil will no
longer yield freely without the help of manure, the water system, at
all events, remains unchanged. In the Argentine Pampas the case is
very different, for the reason that the watercourses disappear into
the ground before reaching the sea. When the immense forests of the
highlands have disappeared to make way for plateaux open to wind and
sun, can we doubt but that the already terrible scourge of drought will
be still further aggravated, and its disastrous effects on cattle and
harvests be even more redoubtable than they are at present?

I must resist the temptation of dwelling on the interesting exhibits
of the South American Republics. I should never finish. Neither must I
wander any farther from the Argentine capital to set down reflections
that will more fitly suggest themselves later. Nevertheless I cannot
leave the exhibition without mentioning the extraordinary establishment
in which the Rural Society holds its annual cattle-shows--vast stables
and stalls, constructed according to the latest pattern on English
model farms. There is accommodation perhaps for more than 500 horned
cattle, or horses, and for 700 or 800 probably in the paddocks, while
4000 sheep can be penned under a single roof, the whole completed by an
enclosure for trials with seating accommodation for 2000 persons.

These shows take place every year in October. They are closed by a sale
at which the beasts are put up at auction. No better system of gauging
the progress of the breeding industry could be devised. As many as 4000
animals have been brought together for these shows, collected from all
parts of the country, including stallions of the best breeds, Durham
and Herefordshire cows, to say nothing of pigs, llamas, and poultry.
Agricultural machinery and dairy implements also find a place here, of
course.

It is in this colossal cattle-rearing city that the greatest effort
of production ever made has been concentrated. I saw at Rosario a
magnificent cattle show. But the great Fair of Buenos Ayres outdoes
anything to be offered elsewhere of the kind. I shall have to return
to the subject when I come to the _estancias_ and the vast herds that
belong to them. Here it suffices to note that the Argentine breeders
do not shrink from any expense in order to obtain the most perfect
stallions. England is, of course, the chief market for the frozen
meat, which is carried as return cargo by the coaling-boats. Naturally
the farmers of the Pampas endeavour to suit the tastes of their
customers. This is why the finest specimens of British cattle-farms
find their way every year to Buenos Ayres. It is not surprising that
the horse-breeders have adopted the same course, though full justice
is done to the qualities of French breeds. Still, the English breeder
best understands how to make an outlet for his wares, whilst the French
prefers to sit in the sun on the plains of Caen to wait until the
foreigner comes to ask him as a favour for his animals.

FOOTNOTES:

[3] One word about M. Onelli's interesting work, _À Travers les Andes_,
an accurate account of his journey in Patagonia. When describing to
me the customs of the natives, he was good enough to promise me a few
arrowheads collected in the course of his expedition. They reached me
the following day with this letter:

"My dear Sir,--After rummaging amongst my drawers, I finally found
the arrowheads you wanted. The book which accompanies them, a humble
homage to yourself, describes the places in which I found them. If you
are good enough to glance at it you will find several photographs of
the descendants of the makers of these arrows. The Tchuleches Indians,
who to the number of rather more than 2000 live in the southern half
of Patagonia, say, when shown one of these arrowheads, which are to be
found all over the arid plateau they inhabit, that they were the usual
weapon of the Indians of olden times who travelled on foot. We know
that they did not know the horse until a hundred and fifty years ago,
at most, and, in fact, one may say that the Stone Age represented by
these arrowheads only ended in Patagonia a half-century ago. The arrows
to be found in Patagonia demonstrate in a contrary manner the influence
of civilised industries, since the heads the most clumsily made are
the most modern. The Indians lost little by little the art of making
them when they learnt to make the shafts of fragments of knife-blades,
or of iron obtained from the Christians, and since then they have
completely abandoned the work to adopt firearms. In the preparation of
guanaco skins, the Indian women, naturally more conservative than the
men, still use the old system of scraping the under side of the leather
with scrapers made of stone, in every way similar to the tool used by
prehistoric man in European lands. Nowadays, having no means of making
them, they search in their leisure moments in the ancient dwellings
of their forefathers in order to find a flint scraper, which they
carefully use and preserve.

"The arrow age still subsists in the north of the Republic among the
Indians of the Chaco forests. Their arrows are made of hard wood. On
alluvial soils no flint can be found, just as none can be had in the
province of Santa Fé, and nearly throughout the whole of the province
of Buenos Ayres (a region larger than all France), without a single
pebble!--a fact which renders it extremely difficult to keep up good
roads across a flat country of crumbling soil without lime. The highway
is turned into soft mud by traffic and rain; yet observe the enormous
increase of railway lines.

"As for the art of making arrowheads, the Stone Age still reigns among
the Onas and Lakaluf, natives of Terra del Fuego; but alas! the art
has degenerated. The natives of the seacoast, always on the lookout
for a whale, dead or wounded, and for fragments of wrecks of sailing
vessels rounding Cape Horn, have discovered that bottle glass is the
easiest material to work upon for their arrows, and their poor language
is thus enriched with a new word; to express 'glass' they say 'botel,'
by the natural _quid pro quo_ of a tongue which in adopting a new word
confuses the name of the object with that of the material of which it
is made.

"The opaque black arrowhead is of basalt, the most abundant kind
of rock in Patagonia, but also the most difficult to use in the
manufacture of such small objects. Obsidian--the little black point of
flint--is more generally used.

"The twisted forms are moulds of flint of the inside of a tertiary
fossil mollusc, the 'turritella,' very common in the strata of the Rio
Santa Cruz cliffs, and which Indian women often wear as ornaments.
In the hope you will excuse my bad French, since I have had the
presumption to write direct to you instead of being translated into
good French,

    "I am, my dear sir, yours, etc.,

        "CLEMENT ONELLI."

[4] _La Gloire de Don Ramire._

[5] I quote these two names because they are best known among us
in France. But Argentine literature cannot be dismissed in a word.
The struggle for independence could not fail to inspire songs to be
caught up from ear to ear and sung everywhere, and in the same way
the spread of education has naturally turned many minds to literary
composition. The struggle with the metropolis and the flame of civil
war irresistibly impelled the individual into the arena to take public
action, and from the vortex there issued a new nationality. It is
from such a period of strife that the first history of a people takes
its origin, and the record of deeds wrought under the influence of
such excitement is the material from which a nation's archives are
derived, fixing for ever the memory of actions that will be revered by
the generations to come. In this way, the noble harangues of Moriano
Moreno to the Provisional Government, the eloquent proclamations made
by General Belgrano after the battles of Salta and Tucuman, the noble
letters of San Martin are impressive lessons for all humanity; time
can have no effect on the exalted nobility of thought and artistic
mode of expression that are here held up before us. Under the savage
dictatorship of Rosas, all voices were silenced. Still, Sarmiento from
his exile in Chili launched from the heights of the Andes his virulent
pamphlets against the odious tyrant. When liberty was regained, Press
and rostrum sent forth a legion of writers and orators, at whose head
we must place Bartolome Mitré and Nicolas Avellaneda. To come down to
our own time, the list of distinguished writers meriting each a special
notice would be long indeed.



CHAPTER IV

FOREIGN COLONISTS IN ARGENTINA


It is now time to return to the city to get a little better acquainted
with its inhabitants. As a matter of fact, the features upon which I
have touched--the town, port, promenades, palaces, settlers' houses,
agricultural products, manufactures, or commerce--do more or less
reveal the native, and although I have said nothing of his person
beyond that he looks very like a European, my reader has certainly
gathered some light as to his way of living.

To the Argentine _extra muros_, the citizen of Buenos Ayres is the
_porteño_--that is, the man of the port, the townsman kept, by the
sea, in constant contact with Europe, and more readily undertaking a
trip to London or Paris than to Tucuman or Mendoza. On his side, while
professing great esteem for the provincials (for in the Argentine
patriotism amounts to mania), the _porteño_ is inclined to pity those
who pass their lives far from the capital; while the countryman mocks
good-humouredly at his strange compatriot who knows naught of the
_Campo_, whence are brought to his door the corn and cattle which
are the outcome of the highest and mightiest efforts of their common
national energy, and which by his means are to be exchanged for
European produce in an ever-widening and developing trade.

This is, however, but a superficial judgment that we may permit
ourselves to make; but if we look more closely into the national
character, we shall perceive that if the _porteño_ is the nearer to
Europe and hastens thither on the smallest pretext; if he is more
thoroughly steeped in European culture; if he takes more interest in
the doings of the Old World, attaching the greatest importance to its
opinion of his own country; if it is his dearest ambition that the
youthful Argentine Republic shall comport herself nobly among the old
peoples of a weary civilisation; if it is his constant care to obtain
from beyond sea the advantages gained by experience, to be turned to
account by his own nation--we should be greatly mistaken in assuming
that European contact or descent could lead either citizen or farmer,
_porteño_ or _estanciero_, to prefer to his own land that Old Continent
which his forefathers deserted, in the hope, already realised, of
finding on this virgin soil, fertilised by his own labour, a better
chance of success than the Old World could offer him.

While the physiognomy of the streets of Buenos Ayres is wholly European
in symmetry, style, and even in the expression of the faces to be
seen thereon, yet this people is Argentine to the very marrow of the
bones--exclusively and entirely Argentine. New York is nearer to
Europe, and New York is North American in essence as completely as
Buenos Ayres is Argentine. The difference is that in New York, and
even in Boston or Chicago, North Americanism is patent to all eyes
in type, in carriage, and in voice, as much as in feeling and manner
of thinking; whereas the piquancy of Buenos Ayres lies in the fact
that it offers the spectacle of rabid Argentinism under a European
veil. And, strangely enough, this inherent jingoism, which in some
nations that shall be nameless assumes so easily an offensive guise,
is here displayed with an amiable candour that is most disarming, and
instinctively you seek to justify it to yourself. Not satisfied with
being Argentine from top to toe, these people will, if you let them,
Argentinise you in a trice.

To tell the truth, there are some (I have met a few) who speak ill of
the country--and these critics are people who have not even had the
excuse of having been unsuccessful in their business affairs here.
There are systematic grumblers everywhere, who endeavour to give
themselves importance by finding fault with their surroundings. Those
who are not pleased with their stay in a foreign country should remind
themselves that nobody prevents them from returning to their own.

I have already mentioned that many Italians cross the sea for the
harvesting in the Argentine, and then, taking advantage of the
difference in the seasons, return home to cut their home corn. This
backward and forward movement has grown enormously. But in the long run
the attraction of a land that overflows with energy defeats atavistic
proclivities and weakens roots that are centuries old. And as soon as
the settler has become the owner of a few roods of the new soil, he is
irrevocably lost to Europe.

I have not sought to conceal the fact that the largest number of
immigrants make the mistake of stopping at Buenos Ayres, whose
population is thus increased out of all proportion with the development
of Argentine territory. This mass of working people, who necessarily
remain easily accessible to European influences, offers apparently an
excellent field for revolutionary propaganda. Anarchists and socialists
spare no pains to make proselytes here, in order to strengthen their
hands. A violence of speech and action has in this way given to certain
strikes a truly European aspect. Still, in a country in which there
is a constant supply of work, it is hardly possible that disturbances
arising rather from doctrine than from existing social evils can take
any hold on or materially affect any considerable extent of territory.

If I am to believe what I heard in all parts, the Russian anarchists
have a specially redoubtable organisation. To mention only the most
recent of events, it is known that the Chief of Police, who had
directed in person some ruthless repressive measures, was killed in the
street by a bomb thrown by a Russian, who was protected from the full
severity of the law by his tender age.[6]

Last June, a few days before I left Europe, a bomb was thrown by
some unknown person in the Colon Theatre, falling in the middle of
the orchestra and wounding more or less seriously a large number of
persons. The Colon Theatre, in which opera is given, is the largest and
perhaps the handsomest theatre in the world.[7] The open boxes of the
pit tier, like those of the first two tiers and orchestra, present,
when filled with young women in evening dress, the most brilliant
spectacle that I have ever seen in any theatre. In such a setting,
imagine the catastrophe that could be caused by a bomb![8] The injured
were carried out somehow or other, the house was emptied amid loud and
furious outcries, and, the damage having been repaired in the course of
the following day, not a woman in society was absent from her place at
the performance of the evening. This is a very fine trait of character
which does the highest honour to the women of Argentine society. I am
not sure that in Paris, under similar circumstances, there would have
been a full house on the night following such a disaster.

It is easy to understand, however, that the fury of the public found
expression in an Act of Parliament of terrible severity, directed
immediately against any suspicious groups. The criminal in the present
case has not yet been discovered, though during my stay in Buenos
Ayres there occurred a sensational arrest which led the authorities to
believe they had laid hands on the guilty man. A state of siege was in
some sense declared, lasting all the time I was in Buenos Ayres; and
the Government obtained extraordinary powers, to be used only against
organisations believed to be anarchical. The penalty generally imposed
was transportation to Terra del Fuego, under conditions that no one
would or, perhaps, could describe to me. I am without the necessary
returns for establishing the results obtained. Some complaints reached
me from the more populous quarters affirming that the innocent had been
punished; all I could do was to hand them over to the authorities. I
can testify that in my presence, in any of the circles of Buenos Ayres
society that I was able to observe, no anarchist outrages were on any
single occasion the subject of conversation. More than once I led up
to it. The reply invariably was that the question was one for public
authority, that the Government was armed and would take action, and if
further powers should prove necessary they would be granted. Then the
topic was changed.

There is no doubt that the Argentine Government, like that of Great
Britain, is resolved to finish, once for all, with crimes which arouse
only horror in all the civilised world. In the course of a hasty
visit I had occasion to pay to the Police Department, in the company
of the City Superintendent, Señor Guiraldès (at the very moment of
the arrest of the man who was believed to have thrown the bomb in the
Colon Theatre), I could see that not only is the force a very powerful
one, but that it has at its head men of energy and decision who are
determined to repress deeds of violence, of which all or nearly all are
committed by persons not of Argentine nationality.[9]

While on the subject, one may note that the Argentine police have
adopted and perfected the system of identification of criminals by the
marks of the thumb. First the imprint of all ten fingers is taken, so
as to make mistake impossible and arrive at absolute certainty; then,
acting on the principle that it may be as useful to identify an honest
man as a bandit, identification certificates are issued to the public,
for a small fee, containing an enlargement of the thumb imprint.

A crowd of people waiting at the door of the office that makes and
furnishes these documents showed that the public fully appreciated
their usefulness. Young men and old were submitting in silence to have
their ten fingers smeared with a sort of wax not easily removed by
soap and water. Each in turn departed well pleased that the stigma of
"Unknown" would never be attached to his grave. It appears that it has
become the fashion to register one's thumb at the police-station before
starting on any journey. Señor Guiraldès told us that his own son, now
in Europe, had taken this precaution before exposing his person to
the risks of the elements and the unceremonious manners of Parisian
_apaches_.

In the days of the stage-coach Parisians used to be laughed at for
making their wills and taking out passports before starting on a
journey to Étampes. Now behold! By other routes we have returned to the
good old days. And funny as it may appear to those of us who like to
believe that civilisation in South America is more or less rudimentary,
it is precisely this country which thus, in scientific fashion, guards
against the barbarous ways of the capitals and even the country
districts of Europe.

There was recently a story of an Argentine who was drowned on our
coast and whose body was subsequently washed up on shore, with the
head frightfully mutilated. As, however, the telltale thumb had been
preserved he was quickly identified. If this story had been told me
in time I should certainly have allowed as much of my person as was
necessary to be dipped in wax instead of venturing to start on my
homeward journey without the simple proofs of identity which would
suffice to place beyond doubt the status of any Jonah in the depths of
a whale. As it is, in spite of my imprudence, I reached home with my
head still on my shoulders. Pure luck! Never again will I trust myself
at sea without this elementary precaution, which would so radically
have changed the fortunes of Ulysses in rocky Ithaca.

After this digression, which is only excused by the importance of
the subject, I want to finish what I began to say about the rabid
Argentinism of our friends. I had a great surprise one day when
speaking respectfully of the fine qualities of the Spaniards. Some
highly cultured men present interrupted me, and criticised severely the
race from which they had sprung in terms one might have expected from
an Anglo-Saxon, but not from a Latin. Therefore I must ask my readers
not to imagine that the Argentinos are merely Spaniards transplanted to
American soil. No! The real Argentino, though he would never confess
it, seems to me convinced that there is a magic elixir of youth that
springs from his soil and makes of him a new man, descendant of none
but ancestor of endless generations to come.

That there is indeed a regenerating influence in this youthful land
is proved by the power it wields over newcomers of whatever origin.
The Italian in particular is Argentinised before he is _argenté_. In
the provinces, as in Buenos Ayres, I had a hundred thousand examples
of this before my eyes. You ask a child, the son of an immigrant,
whether he speaks Italian or Spanish. He answers haughtily, "At home
we all talk Argentine." Another, unable to deny that he was born in
Genoa, although he claimed Argentine nationality, murmured by way of
excuse, "I was so little." I may add that in the primary schools
where these replies were made to me the teaching was the epitome of
Argentine patriotic spirit, as might be guessed from the pictures and
inscriptions on the walls.[10] But Alsace-Lorraine and Poland are
witness to the fact that unless the heart be wholly won authority may
labour in vain.

As I want to be wholly sincere here, I must admit that the French take
this Argentine contagion with remarkable facility. I should grievously
wrong our own excellent colony, however, if I did less than justice to
its ardent patriotism. It is only when tried that love grows and grows
purer. In absence the fatherland seems the dearer in proportion as it
is connected with the recollection of sufferings that left us stripped
of all but honour.

The public work of the French colony speaks loudly for it. Its most
important achievement is the French Hospital, founded long ago, but,
thanks to its Governor, M. Basset, and its chief physician, Dr. G.
Lauré, it is invaluable. As I was leaving the building after a visit I
shall not soon forget, the Chairman of the Board of Directors showed me
a bust of Pasteur standing among the trees, and asked what I thought
of a suggestion to place near it a figure of Lorraine. Although the
symbolism in the two statues would be entirely different, I warmly
concurred in the plan. There is, after all, a delicate connection
between these two manifestations of the soul of France--the desire for
knowledge and the courage to hold.

These men, who have presented to the city of Buenos Ayres a monument
worthy of France in commemoration of the friendship of the sister
republics, and who, on the occasion of the floods in Paris of last
year, sent a cheque for 400,000 francs to assuage the worst of the
distress, never miss an opportunity of showing their loyalty to the
mother-country. Yet how many sons of France one meets at every step who
have gone over to the Argentine, head and heart, beyond all possibility
of return!

One large manufacturer of the port of Buenos Ayres is a nephew of a
member of our National Assembly of 1871. I noticed, when inspecting his
very remarkable establishment, that he speaks French less fluently than
Spanish, while his two brothers, who pay frequent visits to Paris, have
become thorough Argentinos.

Again, I might take the case of one of our most eminent compatriots
who left France in his twentieth year, but who has remained French to
the very marrow of his bones. His son is an official of high position
in the Argentine. Doubtless his marriage with a woman of the country
laid the foundation for this South American family. The atmosphere of
the home is naturally altered, and his material interests, indissolubly
riveted to the soil that feeds him and his family, attune the settler
insensibly to new ways, and gradually transform his whole habit of mind
to the new pattern.

Can anybody explain why this is not the case with the French who try
their fortune in North America, and why in Canada the two races live
side by side in all harmony but never mix? It must be that "blood is
thicker than water," as says the English proverb, and that the Latin
element blends more readily with a Latin agglomeration than with an
Anglo-Saxon community. Here I have seen, over and over again, that
after two or three generations nothing remains of the original stock
but the name.

I know of but one instance where the Latin organism has been completely
assimilated by a northern race, and that is the French emigration to
Germany in consequence of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. But in
that case a community of religious fervour, strengthened by an odious
persecution, was the active agent in the blending of the Latin mind and
character with that of Germany. We all remember that the first German
Governor of Alsace-Lorraine was the descendant of a French emigrant.
Some of us may recall the furious address of the learned Dubois-Reymond
to the youth of Prussia in 1870, urging them over the frontier of
the land from which their ancestors were driven by the sabres of the
dragoons of Louis XIV.

To return once more to our Franco-Argentinos, I ought to say that the
severe application of French military law but too often embitters them
against the mother-country. In its haste to increase its population,
the Argentine awards nationalisation to the children of foreigners born
on Argentine soil, and nationalisation carries in its train military
service. It is the same system adopted by ourselves in Algiers toward
Spanish colonists. The consequence is that the son of French parents
duly registered at the French Consulate, in order to preserve for him
his father's nationality, finds himself later called simultaneously to
serve under two flags on opposite sides of the ocean.

What is he to do? In the Argentine, where military service is very
short, are all his future prospects, while in France no place has been
kept open for him. If France were in danger and called to him for help
he would not hesitate, but, failing that, his actual surroundings make
it hard for him to decide. The majority respond to the call to the
Argentine flag, and by so doing fall into the class of _insoumis_ on
French soil, except in cases where the father, with a forethought that
cannot be approved, has omitted to register the birth at the Consulate.

If I remember rightly, ten only out of forty youths called up leave
Buenos Ayres annually to answer to their names at the French
roll-call. One wonders whether the result be sufficient to justify
steps that might easily trouble our relations with the French colony
in this country. For the young _insoumis_ can never set foot on French
soil without finding the _gendarmerie_ after him. Yet his business
will call him inevitably to Europe. Where will he take his orders when
France has shut her doors to him? England, Belgium, Switzerland, and
Germany are open to him. I heard recently a story about a Frenchman
of Buenos Ayres who ventured to Lille, and had only just time, at a
warning from a friend, to escape over the border.

I need not dwell on the matter, but it is easy to see how detrimental
the present state of the law is to French families living in the
Argentine, Brazil, and other American countries, as well as to France
herself. We manage in this way to drive from the national fold a number
of young men who would in time of danger respond heartily to a call
from the motherland.

Wherever I went I heard the same cry. The Consuls and the French
Minister could only reply, "It is the law." But the Frenchman who
follows the Flag in some foreign land demands an alteration in a law
which ought not to be applied with the same rigour to youths living in
Basle, Brussels, Geneva, and to those who have found a field for their
activities across the sea.

To me it seems only justice to establish a distinction in our
legislation between these two categories of French subjects. For
example, I heard of the case of an eminent politician--M. Pellegrini,
the son of an inhabitant of Nice, and therefore French--who, in his
youth, got into difficulties in the way described with the French
recruiting service, and who later, having risen to the position of
President of the Argentine Republic, received the Grand Cordon of the
Legion of Honour. The red ribbon or the Council of War--which seems the
more appropriate reward to citizens of this kind? Of course, we must
all regret that valuable citizens should thus be taken from France at
the moment when she needs every one of her children. At the same time
we must consider that a Frenchman who has become Argentine is by no
means lost to France, as might be the case in the United States, for
instance, where the Latin is rapidly submerged by the irresistible
flood of Anglo-Saxonism.

In the Argentine, on the contrary, the Northern races prove merely
a useful element of methodical intelligence and tenacity, which is
in time engulfed by the great Latin wave. There are important German
colonies in Brazil, and even in the Argentine. Both English and North
Americans have prosperous manufactories there. Yet in a race that
has preserved integrally its Latinity, all this is of but secondary
interest, and the tendency remains to travel steadily in the track of
peoples of Latin stock, among whom it may without presumption be said
that the French exert the most powerful influence.

For this reason any Frenchman of average intellectual and moral
value who becomes incorporated in the Argentine nation must almost
infallibly at the same time--for I doubt if any Frenchman is ever
really un-Frenched--materially aid in permanently strengthening French
prestige.

What are we to think of men like M. Paul Groussac, who holds an eminent
place in Buenos Ayres, but who would equally in his own land have
reached the very front rank? M. Groussac, having gone through our naval
training school, set out to see the world. One day, his pockets empty,
he arrived at Buenos Ayres, where courageously he hired himself as
_gaucho_--that is, keeper of the immense flocks of the Pampas, whose
members run into their thousands--and he undertook to drive a train of
mules to Peru. He accomplished the journey successfully, covering the
same route four times in all, each journey taking four months. Later we
find him acting as schoolmaster. In Tucuman he carried on the work of
the French outlaw, Jacques, who, having escaped to the Argentine after
the _coup d'état_ of December 2d, devoted himself entirely to public
education on lines taken up later and developed by President Sarmiento.
We had the pleasure of seeing in the place of honour at the Training
College of Tucuman the portraits of the two French founders, Jacques
and Paul Groussac. From time to time the latter brother has published
various literary works, notably some short stories in which Argentine
life and character are brilliantly set forth, and the name of their
author has achieved a wide celebrity. Then M. Hilleret, the great
French sugar manufacturer of Santa Ana, placed a large capital at the
disposal of Paul Groussac with which to start a daily paper destined to
reveal, in the person of its editor-in-chief, a writer of remarkable
force.

To-day you may hear that Paul Groussac is the leading Spanish writer
of our times, which by no means prevents him from contributing some
brilliant articles to our own _Journal des Débats_, amply proving his
mastery of his mother-tongue, not to mention a curious study by him of
that literary enigma the _Don Quichotte_ of Avellaneda.

In 1810 a Public Library was founded by decree of the first
Revolutionary Junto, on the initiative of Secretary Moreno. It was
opened March 16, 1812, its nucleus being drawn from the convent
libraries. In 1880, after the proclamation of Buenos Ayres as capital
of the Federation, the Public Library became the National Library, and
in 1885 Paul Groussac was appointed Governor. In an interview with
President Roca, who cannot be accused of any partiality for him,
Groussac obtained a grant of the building intended, alas! for public
lotteries, in which the library might be installed. He set to work
immediately. The National Library of the Argentine, under the control
of M. Groussac, is now without a rival in South America, and can bear
comparison with many similar institutions on the Old Continent.[11]

One of the pet hobbies of M. Groussac is now to open a French _lycée_
in Buenos Ayres, with the support of both Governments. His eldest son,
an Argentino, has just been appointed to the post of Under-Secretary of
State in the Office of Public Instruction by M. Saënz Peña.

Strangely enough all the fine qualities of this illustrious compatriot
of ours have been lost sight of for the reason that through some
defect--I had almost said vice--in his character he has won the
reputation of being the surliest of bears. Having myself also, to some
extent, a reputation for being less than amiable I wondered whether the
two of us might not come to blows if we met. Considering in some sort
my bald head a protection, I ventured into the bear's den, and found
only the most affable and genial of men, whose claws were of velvet
and his tusks of sugar. Thus we made friends at once, and I found that
the much-dreaded beast had nothing terrible about him, unless it was a
strong accent of the Gers.

Since that day I have done my best to dispel so injurious a prejudice
against the man. I can only explain its prevalence by the words of
Tacitus, who remarked of his father-in-law, Agricola, "He chose rather
to offend than to hate." It is a rare enough trait among men this,
which leads them, like Alceste, to declare their real opinion rather
than stoop to the indignity of falsehood. It may very easily happen
that in this way such men may offend the talker who asks only cheap
flattery, though actuated themselves by the kindliest feelings towards
their fellow-men.

If we consider for a moment the sentiment aroused in us by the general
practice of using words to conceal our thoughts, we must recognise
that we are the first to suffer by this universal weakness--not to say
cowardice--in that we only expect from others what we ourselves give,
namely, hypocritical phrases, leading to crooked actions, and causing
that silent but lasting dislike which forms the principal obsession
in the life of many among us. If it is a less offence to inspire than
to harbour dislike, let us absolve the men who fail to win universal
regard, but who are nevertheless wholly incapable of harming a creature.

Unless I am misinformed, we shall soon have the pleasure of seeing Paul
Groussac in Paris. A Chair of History of the Argentine Republic has
been founded at the Sorbonne, and there is talk of offering it to him.
Certainly no one could better perform its duties. Yet it would surprise
me if he could in this way break off his multitudinous engagements in
the Argentine. They say he will in person open the course of lectures.
I can promise an intellectual treat to his hearers.

I did not hear of any Germans or Englishmen who had, to the same
extent as the Italians and the French, undergone transformation into
Argentinos. The German, whose fundamental roughness--to call it by no
stronger name--is frequently masked by good humour, works his way into
all classes of society, but without losing any of his original traits.
M. Mihanowitch, who is at the head of a colossal business of river
and sea transportation, must, notwithstanding his Austrian origin, be
considered as an Argentino, though he is surely of Slav blood.

The English invariably retain their individuality. I am told that in
Patagonia, where they are carrying on sheep breeding on a scale that
leaves Australia in the rear, they have built up cosy dwellings, where
every night they change into their smoking-jackets for the family
repast, and never miss taking a holiday of two or three months in
their native land. They never become Argentinos. This, however, does
not prevent their being at the head of the business world of La Plata,
where they exert a powerful influence on the industrial and commercial
life of the people.

It would have greatly interested me to study the foreign colonies more
closely, but time was lacking. Of the Spanish, the only man I was able
to see anything of was M. Coelho, the distinguished Governor of the
Spanish Bank of La Plata, whose untiring energy reaches out daily in
new directions; he gave me many proofs of kindness, for which I am
sincerely grateful.

It is certain that the recent visit of Field-Marshal von der Goltz to
the Argentine must prove useful to German influence. As we know, it
is the Germans who are responsible for the present organisation of
the Argentine Army. Their Government, wiser than some others, did not
hesitate to send to La Plata some of their most skilled officers, who
were naturally received by Argentine society with the deference that
was their due.

The eminent legal scholar, Professor Enrico Ferri, lately re-elected
Deputy of the group that we should call "Independent Socialists,"
is and has long been the official mouthpiece of the Italian colony.
Gifted with a perfect urbanity, an impartial mind, lofty ideals, and
generous eloquence, he quickly attracted the notice of the public,
and soon vanquished the suspicions of the Extreme Right, who feared
his Socialist views, and the opposition of the Extreme Left, who bore
him malice for having broken away from them. M. Saënz Peña's Cabinet
has been well advised in calling on M. Enrico Ferri to take over the
management of the penitentiary system.

I have mentioned the principal features of the French colony, and
shall hope to be forgiven if lack of space has prevented me from doing
full justice to its members. I have spoken of M. Py, the distinguished
Governor of the Banque Française de la Plata, who is admirably assisted
in his work by the manager, M. Puisoye. It would be unpardonable to
omit the name of Mme. Moreno (of the Comédie Française), who has so
thoroughly mastered the Spanish tongue that she has opened and carried
to success a _conservatoire_, in which she trains pupils for the stage.
It would be the less excusable to forget this lady in that she is
frequently to be met at receptions, where her elocution, both in prose
and in poetry, delights her Parisian-Argentine public. Whilst waiting
for the Académies to confer on women the right to be learned, let us
venture to proclaim their cleverness even when it is but an adjunct to
feminine charm.

FOOTNOTES:

[6] The death penalty, abolished in Uruguay, does still exist in the
Argentine Republic, but executions are rare. The last dates several
years back. The condemned man is shot by the troops.

[7] The Colon Theatre seats no less than 3570 persons. The third tier
is reserved for ladies only; the acoustics are excellent; the most
renowned artists appear on its stage. There is also another opera-house.

[8] Impossible to exaggerate the horror of the scene. A high official
personage told me that he had never beheld such pools of blood.

[9] The Fire Brigade, admirably organised as I had an opportunity of
observing, is armed like the Paris Corps, and can thus be employed to
reinforce the city police if necessary.

[10] It appears that on the day of the National Fête the pupils of the
primary schools have to take an oath of fidelity to the Flag, which is
called the _juro de la Bandera_, and is accompanied by speeches and
patriotic songs that cannot help making an impression on the children.

[11] In 1893 the Library numbered 69,000 volumes; in 1903, 130,000; and
in 1910, 190,000.



CHAPTER V

ARGENTINE EDUCATION, HOSPITALS, AND ASYLUMS


If the different foreign elements contributed by the Latin peoples
fuse so readily into an Argentine race, it is none the less true that
Spanish metal bulks the heaviest in the ore. Language, literature,
history, give a bias from which none can escape. The ancient branch
transplanted to this youthful soil sends up its shoots towards another
heaven, but the original sap circulates unendingly in the living tree.
The Argentine is not, and firmly refuses to be, a Spanish colony. It
has successfully freed itself from the historic shackles--those of
theocracy, first of all--which have so disastrously tied and bound
the noble and lofty impulses of a people eminently fitted to perform
exalted tasks. And hence, notwithstanding a large alluvion from
Italy, symbolised by the monument to Garibaldi, notwithstanding the
growing influence of French culture, the atavism of blood preserves an
indelible imprint which will characterise the Argentine nation down to
its most distant posterity.

The visit of the Infanta Isabella on the occasion of the Centenary
Fêtes in honour of the independence was a happy thought on the part of
the Spanish Government. The Princess, escorted by M. Perez Caballero,
the present Spanish Ambassador in Paris, was everywhere received with
rapturous enthusiasm. It was easy to see that the struggles of the
past, now relegated to the annals of the dead, had left no bitterness
in the people's heart. There was universal pleasure at the graceful
action of the now reconciled parent in thus stretching a hand to the
son who, with impetuous ardour, had thrown off the yoke of dependence,
and the public found a subtle pleasure in showing that the chivalrous
courtesy which is part of the tradition of the race had lost none of
its flower in this American land. After the severe measures taken to
repress anarchical violence, a rumour spread that the life of the
President of the Republic was in danger. Perhaps there was nothing in
it. Unfortunately, it was one of those things that can only be verified
by experience. At all events, the Infanta Isabella chose to ignore the
danger. With the utmost simplicity, but also with the utmost courage,
she showed herself everywhere by the side of the Chief of the State,
and to the lasting credit of the Argentine reputation, everywhere she
was greeted with hearty applause.

Here, then, is a base, immutably Spanish through all the changes that
one can foresee, together with a fusion and perfect assimilation of
the Latin elements in the immense influx of European civilisation:
such is the first condition of Argentine evolution to be seen and
studied in the city of Buenos Ayres. To make the picture complete, we
must notice an important contribution of Indian blood that is very
marked everywhere. I shall return to this later. As for the national
character, since I am only jotting down a traveller's impressions,
and not attempting to present to my readers a didactic study, it is,
I think, better to allow its features to spring naturally from the
subject under consideration as we go along, rather than first to make
statements that I must next attempt to prove.

I have already mentioned the extreme kindness of Señor Guiraldès, the
City Lieutenant, who is for the Argentine capital what M. de Selves
is for Paris. Like our own Prefect, he is appointed by the President
of the Republic, and I may say that although there are inevitably
from time to time differences with the Municipal Council, the system
has given good results as applied to a place in which there are so
many conflicting elements. Señor and Señora Guiraldès, like all the
upper class of Argentine society, possess the most perfect European
culture, and they do the honours of their city with a charming grace
that delights the foreign visitor. Now that I am at a distance from
them, I consider that I may with propriety pay sincere homage to
their courtesy. Whenever I found I had a little time to spare I used
to telephone to Señor Guiraldès, who had once for all placed himself
at my disposal. He invariably replied by hastening to my door, and
together we consulted as to tours of inspection; it was agreed that
I should choose the institutions to be visited so that there might
be no suspicion of collusion. In this way I was enabled to visit all
the State or municipal establishments that interested me. When by
chance we found some evidence of official oversight, Señor Guiraldès's
satisfaction was boundless.

"At least," he cried, "you will not tell me that your call had been
announced beforehand."

Then, to check any inordinate vanity, I told him the tale of an
adventure that happened once to a certain Minister of the Interior who
visited the prison of Saint Lazare.

A ring at the bell.

"I want to see the Governor."

"He has gone up to town."

"Then I will see the chief clerk."

"He is away on leave."

"The chief warder?"

"He is laid up."

"Can I speak to the Sister Superior?"

"She has just gone out."

"Well, are any of the prisoners at home?"

The gaoler, smiling amiably: "I believe so."

Argentine officials, like their French brethren, are both fallible
and zealous, and while it was impossible that in so many visits
there should be no ground for criticism, yet I am anxious to declare
publicly how admirably kept were the schools, of whatever degree, the
hospitals, asylums, refuges, and prisons; they were not only adapted
to all the requirements of therapeutics, hygiene, and the canons of
modern European science, but they showed a genuine effort to do better
than the best. I should have been glad to have there some of those who
make a practice of disdaining these countries that started very long
after us, but that can already give us some salutary lessons through
institutions such as those I have named, which are here brought to a
pitch of perfection that is in many cases unknown with us.

My readers will not expect me to take them with me round all the
establishments that I visited with Señor Guiraldès. They would fill a
book, and I should need to dip into the innumerable volumes of reports
and notices which Argentine benevolence added to my personal luggage.
This, however, does not come within my subject.

None will be surprised that the schools attracted my attention first.
The School Question is too vast to be handled here in detail. But I
saw professional schools (_Écoles industrielles de la Nation_), and
primary schools that would be models in any land. All the arrangements
irreproachable, and the children scrupulously clean. Demonstration
lessons in abundance. Lessons on the land and its mineral, vegetable,
and animal productions, specimens of each being passed from hand to
hand, accompanied by explanations summarised in synoptic tables. A
lesson on the anatomy and physiology of the lungs was illustrated
by the breathing organs of an ox and a sheep (higher primary class
for young girls), which appeared to awaken great interest among the
scholars. Specimens in pasteboard coloured like life, showing the
different parts of the organism, allow these rudimentary demonstrations
to be carried fairly far.

The primary schools, under the management of the National Educational
Council, are free, and include the school material obligatory in theory
for children of from six to twelve years of age. But the population
of Buenos Ayres grows more rapidly than its schools. Hence the
inconvenient expedient has been adopted of dividing the pupils into
two categories, one attending school of a morning and the other of
an afternoon, with the result that one half the children are always
wandering about the streets while the others are drinking at the
fountain of knowledge. This is a system that has nothing to recommend
it. It is difficult to understand why the Argentine capital postpones
making a pecuniary sacrifice which is certainly not beyond its means,
and which is imperatively necessary. The criticism is the more
justifiable in that untold sums have been spent on certain buildings
which are veritable palaces, as, for example, the President Roca
School. About a hundred private, lay, or denominational schools, kept
for the most part by foreigners, take in the children who are crowded
out of the public schools. At Buenos Ayres, as in other parts of the
country, the number of pupils in this category is far too large. There
are provinces where the deficit of schools is such as to constitute a
real scandal in a civilised nation.[12]

I shall never forget the heart-broken tones of a child of ten whom I
met in the Pampas of the Buenos Ayres province and whom I questioned as
to his occupations.

"I want to go to school. Papa does not want me to."

The father was a Mexican. The eyes of the child thus condemned by
paternal stupidity to mental darkness were full of intelligence. How
much trouble we take to make the best of our land! How apathetic we are
when it is a question of developing the greatest force in the world,
that which sets in motion all the rest--human intelligence! Is it not
inconceivable that in France, after nearly half a century of labour,
we still find every year a large number of wholly illiterate men among
the conscripts called up to serve with the Flag? This state of affairs,
which is sad enough at home, would be reckoned a great success in the
_Campo_, where distances are such that the children have to go to the
primary schools on horseback, as I have elsewhere mentioned. But when a
school is within reach, the folly of parents must not be permitted to
debar their children from its advantages.

The municipal and State schools are entirely undenominational. This
rule obtains throughout the Argentine, where it is accepted without a
murmur. The numerous religious Orders have their own private schools
in virtue of the recognised principle of liberty of teaching. It might
surprise a European to see that the Catholic clergy of the Argentine
do not attempt to fight the undenominational character of the public
schools which elsewhere has aroused such violent hostility. To my mind
this cannot be explained by a want of religious fervour amongst priests
and monks in the Argentine. But circumstances which it would take too
long to explain have taught the Argentine clergy to make an _outward_
practice of toleration. If questioned on the subject, the Argentino
will reply: "Our clergy hold themselves aloof from politics."

And this seems to be the case. The religious world appears to be no
party to political differences. The social influence of the Roman
hierarchy is none the less powerful on what remains of the old colonial
aristocracy and (with few exceptions) on the women of the class known
as superior. Practically, the official relations of Church and State in
the Argentine approach very close to separation.

I shall say nothing of the secondary schools and colleges, of which
I saw but little. They are placed under the immediate control of the
Minister of Public Instruction. There are no resident students. This,
in the opinion of all, is the weakest spot in their educational scheme.
Amédée Jacques, one of the exiles of our December _coup d'état_,
introduced our classical curriculum into the Argentine, but it met with
no success. Since that time, here, as at home, there has been strife
between the partisans of the classic and those of modern, or even
technical, education. Great battles have been fought, and the only
result is that the cause of education has suffered from both parties.
The opening of a French _lycée_, which I have reason to believe will
shortly take place, may help to restore the classics to the position
which in my opinion they ought to hold in every civilised country.

In certain branches higher education has made great strides. Law and
Medicine in particular have a staff of eminent men in their colleges.
Any man who has made his mark in Europe is sure of a choice audience
there, drawn from both professors and students. I had the pleasure
of being present at the first of Enrico Ferri's lectures at the Law
schools. His subject was Social Justice. The powerful and glowing
eloquence of the orator was never displayed before a public better
prepared to profit by his lofty teaching on humanitarian equity.

It is not in vain that so many young Argentines have made their way to
the universities of France, Italy, and Germany. As soon as I set foot
in the hospitals here I had an impression that I was in the full stream
of European science, and that the Argentinos were determined to be
second to none in the perfection of their organisation.

I noticed an excellent bacteriological institute managed by a
compatriot of ours, M. Lignères, and some agricultural schools that are
turning out a competent body of men for the development of the Pampas.

The hospitals impressed us very favourably. The New Hospital for
Contagious Diseases, situated some kilometres from the centre of the
town, comprises a series of model buildings, all strictly isolated,
of which each is devoted to a special disease. At the Rivadavia
Hospital, for women only, the _Cobo_ wards (for pulmonary tuberculosis
and surgical operations) are particularly admirable. Everywhere the
latest improvements as regards the appliances for the patients,
the sterilising halls, and operating theatres, and also as regards
surgical appliances. Nothing has been overlooked that can increase the
efficaciousness of the hospital schools: amphitheatres for classes,
diagrams, specimens, etc. The laboratories are so luxurious that they
would make our own hospital students envious. It was here that Dr.
Pozzi, our eminent compatriot, performed in May, 1910, a series of
operations, every one of which proved successful; while his German
fellow-practitioner, whose scientific acquirements are unquestionable,
met with very different results. The same may be said of Dr. Doléris,
who held a course of demonstration lessons in Buenos Ayres, and whose
operations were also crowned with entire success. The Rivadavia
Hospital has a fine _annexe_ of supplementary work: consultations for
outpatients, electro- and radio-therapy, dispensary, etc. I must also
mention the sumptuous recreation-rooms for the use of convalescents,
and the gardens, exquisitely kept.

In the maternity wards (at Alvear as at Rivadavia) we find the
same care for ultra-modern comfort, combined with the strictest
cleanliness. I must not forget a very curious obstetrical museum with
diagrams, anatomical specimens, and a series of admirable preparations
exemplifying the different stages of gestation. A small cradle should
be noticed (a German invention, I believe), ingeniously attached to
the mother's bed and taken down with a single movement of the hand.
Very happy instance of simplification. Everywhere--in the design
of the buildings, in the fittings, laboratories, sterilising- and
operating-rooms--the influence and products of Germany were patent. On
the other hand, the French culture of doctors and surgeons, masters
and pupils, was easily discernible, and all were greatly indebted
to the classics of our Paris and Lyons Faculties. I could not see
the evidences of this in the hospital libraries without remembering
regretfully the churlish reception that is given in some of our
hospital schools to modest foreign _savants_.

At the same time, I will not conceal the fact that Protection of the
most extreme sort flourishes among the Argentine physicians, who are
very anxious to defend themselves against European competition. I was
told that there are no less than thirty-two examinations imposed on a
doctor from the Paris Faculty before he is permitted to write out the
simplest prescription for a _gaucho_ of the Pampas. We may be allowed
to find these measures highly exaggerated.

There is a splendid Asylum for Aged Men kept by French Sisters of
Charity in a condition of the daintiest cleanliness, and managed by
ladies of the city. The Argentinos claim that their women are very
zealous in all charitable works. Doubt was thrown recently in the
Chamber on this statement. I am not competent to judge.

One original institution--the Widows' Asylum--is a sort of settlement
composed of small apartments of one or two rooms, on a single floor.
In the courtyard opposite the gate is a small shed, in which is placed
a stove for open-air cooking, possible in this fortunate climate all
the year round. The rents are very low for widows having more than four
children.

The lunatic colony of Lujan, to which its founder and manager, Dr.
Cabred, has given the significant name of The Open Door, deserves
a more detailed description. It consists of an estate of six
hundred hectares on the Pacific Line seventy kilometres from Buenos
Ayres, and here twelve hundred patients are accommodated in twenty
villas--graceful _chalets_, surrounded by gardens and containing each
sixty patients. These villas are fitted up with everything necessary
for clinotherapy and balneotherapy, with fine recreation-rooms.
The colony is enclosed by a line of wire; not a wall, not a wooden
fence--everywhere unrestricted freedom and a wide, open horizon.

We have erected a monument in Paris to the memory of Pinel, in which he
is represented as breaking the chains which mediæval ignorance heaped
on the mad inmates of Bicêtre as late as 1793. But if you visit our
asylum of Sainte-Anne, you are tempted to ask in what this "modern"
establishment differs from an ordinary prison. I hasten to add that in
the other asylums of the Department of the Seine we are beginning to
develop the open-air treatment. Long ago the system of placing certain
patients out in the country amongst peasant families was planned and
adopted. The Open Door treats all mental patients, of whatever degree
of madness, on the plan known out here as "work performed in liberty."
In the confusion of cerebral phenomena the widest freedom is given
to the reflex action of unconscious or quasi-unconscious life. If
a patient has learnt a trade, he finds at once in The Open Door an
outlet for his energies, for it is with the labour of the lunatics
that the carpentering, masonry, scaffolding, etc., of these villas was
executed. Those who have no trade are given a technical education, and
often acquire great skill. The difficulty is to persuade the newcomer
to begin to work. If he refuses, he is left alone. "He is left to feel
dull." Then he is invited to take a walk, and once on the spot where
work is proceeding, he is offered a tool that he may do as the others
are doing.

"I have met with only one refusal," said Dr. Cabred. "One patient tried
calmly to prove to me that life was not worth the labour necessary to
preserve it. I must confess that he nearly convinced me, and I often
try to find the flaw in his reasoning, though never, as yet, with
success. It is a little hard when the apostle of lunatic labour is
brought to ask himself if the lunatic who refuses to work is not acting
on a better reasoned conviction than his more submissive companions. At
any rate, he is the only man in the colony who does nothing. He spends
his time reading the paper or dreaming, without saying a word. When I
go to see him he mocks at me, declaring that it is I who am the fool,
and, indeed, to support his laziness is not, perhaps, the action of a
sane man."

There is not a strait-waistcoat or a single appliance for restraint in
the whole colony. Excitement or attacks of violence all yield to the
bath, which is sometimes prolonged to twenty-four or thirty hours if
necessary.

Separate _chalets_ for the manager and his staff, for the water
reservoir, the machinery, laundry, dairy, kitchens, workshops, theatre,
chapel. Outside, agricultural labour in every form, from ploughing to
cattle rearing. Only the superintendents who direct the work are sane,
or supposed to be. In spite of this assurance it is not without alarm
that one watches madmen handling red-hot irons or tools as dangerous
for others as themselves. As may be supposed, they are not put to this
kind of work until they have been subjected to long trials.

Our visit to The Open Door lasted a whole day, and still we had
not seen everything. From first to last we were followed by a mad
photographer, who took his pictures at his own convenience and
reprimanded us severely for rising from lunch without first posing for
him. Four days later a series of photographs, representing the various
incidents of our day at The Open Door, was sent to me, bound in an
album--by a madman, of course, and sent by another madman to a person
mad enough to believe himself endowed with reason.

Need I add that we had been received to the strains of the
_Marseillaise_ and the National Argentine Hymn, performed by a mad
band, which, all through lunch, played the music of its repertoire!
Ever since, I have wondered why a certificate of madness is not
demanded from every candidate for admission to the Opera orchestra.

As for journalism, do you suppose that no room was found for it in
The Open Door? The excellent Dr. Cabred is not a man to make such
omissions. We were duly presented with a copy of the _Ecos de las
Mercedes_, a monthly paper, written and published by the madmen of
The Open Door, with the intention, perhaps, of making us believe that
other journals are the work of individuals in full possession of their
common-sense--prose and poetry; articles in Spanish, Italian, and
French; occasionally a slight carelessness in grammar and in sequence
of thought, but, on the whole, not wandering farther from their subject
than others.

Finally, to wind up the day's proceedings, we were treated to a
horserace ridden by lunatics. Sane beasts mounted by mad horsemen,
galloping wildly, by mutual consent, in a useless effort to reach
a perfectly vain end. Is not this the common spectacle offered by
humanity?

Meantime, one honest madman of mystic tendencies, decorated with about
a hundred medals, pursued us with religious works, from which he read
us extracts, accompanied by his blessing. I wondered whether this form
of exercise was included in Dr. Cabred's programme, since he claims to
make his lunatics perform all the acts of a sane community. A similar
scruple occurred to me at noon, when I was invited to take a seat at a
well-spread table.

"Is your cooking done by madmen?" I inquired, not without anxiety.

"We have made an exception in your favour," was the contrite reply.

And now another question arose to my lips.

"Since you have clearly proved that the mad are capable of performing
any kind of task, will you tell me why you give yourself the lie
by placing at the head of The Open Door a man who appears to me in
possession of all his faculties?"

"Yes; that is a weakness," replied the Doctor, laughing. "But, after
all, what proof have you that I am not literally fulfilling all my own
conditions? Did I not tell you that one of my patients, who may quite
possibly be the most enlightened of us all, pronounced me a raving
lunatic when I invited him to work? If he is right, then all is as it
should be at The Open Door."

I did not wish to vex the kindly doctor, who is the architect of
so admirable a monument, but there was still a doubt in my mind:
Was it possible to give the illusion of freedom to these madmen by
merely suppressing the walls? They offer no resistance when called to
co-operate in all kinds of open-air labour, and find, if not a cure, at
least relief from their malady in this simple treatment; but did they
really believe themselves free? I did not ask the question, for the
answer was given by an old French gardener, one of the inmates of The
Open Door, who, over-excited by our presence there, suddenly began to
rave.

"For twenty-five years," he shrieked, "you have kept me prisoner here!"

Here, then, was a man whose life was spent out of doors at the work
with which he had been familiar all his life, and, although no sign
of restraint was visible, he was conscious of imprisonment. It is
true that modern determinism has reduced what we call our "liberty"
to the rigorous fatality of an organism which leaves to us merely the
illusion of free will,[13] while imposing on us the impulse of some
superior energy that we are forced to obey. Oh, Madness! Oh, Wisdom!
Oh, vacillating sisters! is it indeed true that you wander hand in hand
through the world?

To whatever philosophic solution our own madness or reason may lead us,
let us hasten to conclude the subject by stating that The Open Door
is a model establishment, which, thanks to Dr. Cabred, enables the
Argentine to give the lead to older peoples. I will only add that it is
the rarest thing for a patient to escape (if I may use so unsuitable
a word), since the natural conditions of the surrounding Pampas would
render life therein impossible; and the lunatics on the way to recovery
who are given leave of absence to stay a few days with their friends
before being finally set at liberty invariably return punctually to the
colony. Who can tell if some lunatic, restored to reason, might not
secretly refuse to believe himself cured, and elect to pass the rest of
his days happily at work under the glorious sky amongst these peaceful
creatures, where the troubles and worries of the world, with the
eternal competition and conflict which are the scourge of our "sane"
existence, are unfelt and unknown? Such a case might lead Dr. Cabred
to put up a similar establishment for the wise.

From the lunatic asylum to the prison is not such a leap as some of
us may think. The asylum lifts out of the relative orderliness that
we have managed to establish in the conditions of civilised life all
those who, by lack of mental balance, might introduce unbearable
disorder. And might not this elemental definition be equally applied
to the one or the other class of unfortunates? I beg my reader not to
be alarmed at the fearful gravity of the problem. If it be true that
no philosopher has ever been able to find a solid foundation for the
right that man has assumed to "punish" his fellows for transgressing
his laws, at least all will readily admit that, notwithstanding some
obvious imperfections, society has attained to manifest superiority
over the state of barbarism in which brute force alone rules, and
that it is therefore inadmissible that those who would transgress the
general laws on which society has been based should be allowed to
destroy the fabric so laboriously built up.

In moving out of its path those who would live within its pale in
defiance of its laws, society but exercises its natural right.[14] The
real question open to dispute is rather the treatment to be meted out
to these rebels. In the primitive code of the _talion_ nothing was
more simple--an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth--thou hast killed;
I kill thee. Thou hast inflicted injuries; I in my turn shall injure
thee, and I expect to deter thee from future crimes by fear of the pain
in store for thee. Such "justice" has the double advantage of being
speedy and readily comprehended of a rudimentary intelligence as long
as the temptation has been resisted. But when evil instincts, that
none asks of Nature, have caused the fall of delinquents, the morbid
moral sense, more or less distorted, which urged them on to violent
deeds, makes them conscious solely of the violence of which they are
now the object, and drives them to take sinister revenge. Thus they
are prevented from exercising their calmer judgment, from which, by the
mere force of reaction, there might spring a desire and hope for a new
life within the pale of the established order of things.

And seeing it had been left for 1793--the epoch of a universal outburst
of fraternity, manifested first by the permanent institution of the
guillotine--to give us in Pinel a man of enough simple common-sense
to break the chains that bound the mad, is it unreasonable to think
that without freeing criminals (since not even at The Open Door are
the lunatics let loose upon the public) one might yet seek some system
of improvement and reformation to be applied in the establishments in
which we keep our prisoners? There will always be some incurables--that
is certain; but because incurables exist in every hospital and asylum,
ought we to argue therefrom that it is useless to fight against an evil
that is beyond human powers?

The reader may suppose that I should not have ventured to set down
these considerations of social philosophy without a good reason. The
principles I have thus summarised, at the risk of wearying those who
look only for amusement, are now held by every criminalist worthy the
name. But since this new conception makes its way very slowly with even
the best-intentioned of Governments, which are the more strongly imbued
with the prejudices of the masses in proportion as they are the more
impregnated with the democracy, and since the transformation of our
existing prisons would be very costly, we have as yet not got farther
than the inclusion of the words "reform" and "amendment" on programmes
that are very far from being put in execution.

Shall I give an example? It is evident that the time-sentence must
inevitably restore a prisoner sooner or later to society. Is not,
therefore, the public interest bound up in his returning with a good
chance of leading a regular life, and not falling back into the
disorder that was the cause of his temporary removal? And is not the
very first condition of this fresh start the possession of a trade with
sufficient skill therein to ensure some chance of success? If, then, we
can give technical instruction in our prisons, and at the same time
improve the intellectual and moral standard of the prisoner; and if, on
his discharge, we can place the man whom society has thus--temporarily
only--removed from its midst, in a position immediately to earn an
honest living, instead of throwing him on his own resources, to be
again confronted with the same temptations--would not society in this
way infinitely multiply the sum total of the probabilities that its
money and trouble would have the desired effect? I think, in theory,
this argument will be readily admitted. Unfortunately, the difficulty
is that it is much more economical to draw an immediate profit from
prison labour than to reverse the problem and spend more in order to
place an instrument of reform in the hands of the delinquent, with
always, of course, a risk of failure.

In the United States great progress has been made in this direction,
and if I appear to have gone a long way round to introduce my readers
to the Central (men's) Prison of Buenos Ayres, my excuse is that to
my mind the Argentine Republic has far surpassed all that has been
attempted hitherto in this department of work. And to say truth, I
feared that in bluntly and without comment giving a description of
what I have been permitted to see, I might jar the spirit of routine
that has taken hold of certain communities, notwithstanding their
revolutionary changes of appellation.

I shall say nothing of the material side of the place, which very much
resembles our own prisons. The prisoners are locked into their cells
at night, but by day they are told off into the different workshops
which are intended to perfect them in their own trades or give them
a new one. The wages question is placed on much the same basis as
with us, except that, the food being more abundant, the men are able
to put aside the greater part of what they earn. (The diet consists
principally of _perchero_--boiled beef--the staple article of food
amongst the masses.) Conversation is allowed, but only in a low voice,
and as long as work is not hindered thereby. Rations are distributed
in the cells by the prisoners themselves, who take their meals with
the door open, and frequently add a cigarette to the menu. There are
books in every cell, with the essentials of school stationery. There
are fourteen classes and fourteen masters. All the inmates attend the
adult classes, which include such subjects--in addition to the theory
of their own special technical work--as history, hygiene, morality, and
in each an examination is held at the end of the year.

Both Governor and masters testify to the general application of
the pupils. The land surveying class grows with special rapidity,
in view of the constant demand for surveyors in the Pampas. A vast
lecture-hall, which makes a theatre when required, is decorated with
drawings, casts, and charts by the hand of the pupils. Lectures are
given both by masters and prisoners when the latter are sufficiently
advanced, or when their former studies have qualified them for the
task. On one occasion M. Ferrero, who has, I believe, published an
account of his visit to the Central Prison of Buenos Ayres, was present
when a prisoner gave a lecture on prehistoric America.

"And the old offenders?" I asked as I went out.

"There are some," replied the Governor, "but not many. Our system
of re-education is powerfully backed up by the permanent offer of
work from all parts of the Pampas. Moreover, the greater number of
our crimes are what are called 'crimes of passion.' The Italian and
Spaniard are equally prompt with the knife. A large number of these men
have killed their man in a fit of furious excitement, but they will
be thought none the less of for their 'irritability' when they return
home. Our point of view is this: Every time a man commits an offence or
a crime, it becomes the duty of the community to begin, immediately,
the work of re-education. Probably in no country shall we ever do
all we might for the individual offender. But when one member of the
social corporation falls he must be made over again. This is what we
are trying to do, and I admit it is the greatest joy to us to see the
success of our efforts. I have seen most of the prisons of Europe. Did
you notice amongst our inmates that expression of the tracked beast
which you find on all your prisoners? No. Our inmates have one idea
only--to begin life again and to prepare, this time, for success. This
is the secret of that tranquil, confiding air of good children at
their task which you must have observed on so many faces; and this,
perhaps, takes the place of repentance, which is not given to all."

"And you are not afraid your comfortable building will prove an
attraction to people who are at a loss to know what to do with
themselves?"

"That has not happened so far. Such a fear--though I cannot believe you
are speaking seriously--shows you do not take into account the superior
attraction for every human creature of liberty."

With that I left, having learnt a very interesting lesson from the
Argentinos, whom so many Europeans are generously ready to teach.

FOOTNOTES:

[12] The census of 1909 showed that public instruction had since 1895,
the date of the last census, made great progress. In these ten years
the Argentine has opened 2000 new schools. In 1895, 30 per cent. of the
population were in the schools; in 1909, 59 per cent.

The Lainez Act enjoined on the National Educational Council the duty of
opening elementary schools, giving the minimum of instruction, wherever
they were needed.

In the census of 1909 every child from five to fourteen years was
made the subject of a separate card of psychophysical details
on the initiative of Dr. Horacio G. Pinero. This card contained
twenty-one questions: age, nationality, parentage, height, weight,
thoracic measurements, size of the head, weight of the body,
anomalies, deformities, stigmata, anterior diseases, sight, hearing,
objective perception, attention, memory, language and pronunciation,
affectionateness, excitability, temper.

[13] "If the idea of liberty be in itself a force, as Fouillée
maintains, that force would be scarcely less if some wise man should
one day demonstrate that it rested on illusion alone. This illusion
is too tenacious to be dispelled by reasoning. The most convinced of
determinists will still continue to use the words 'I will' and even 'I
ought' in his daily speech, and moreover will continue to think them
with what is the most powerful part of his mind--the unconscious and
non-reasoning part. It is just as impossible not to act like a free man
when one acts as it is not to reason like the determinist when one is
working at science" ("La Morale et la Science," by Henri Poincaré, _La
Revue_, June 1, 1910).

[14] "If some day morality were forced to accept determinism, would
it not perish in the effort to adapt itself thereto? So profound a
metaphysical revolution would doubtless have less influence on our
manners than might be thought. Penal repression is not of course in
question; what we now call crime and punishment would be known as
disease and prevention, but society would preserve intact its right
which is not to punish but simply to defend itself" (Henri Poincaré,
_loc. cit._).



CHAPTER VI

ARGENTINE TYPES, MANNERS, AND MORALS


I had very good ground for stating that a salient characteristic of the
Argentinos was a desire, not only to learn from Europe but to carry
to the farthest possible pitch of perfection every institution begun,
whether public or private, and to surpass their model. The obvious
danger in all rapidly-developed colonial settlements is the acceptance
of the "half-done," an almost obligatory condition in the early stages
of development, and one whose facility of attainment is apt to militate
against the persistency of effort after that precision of completion
which alone can give good results. This defect, in fact, constitutes
the principal reproach brought by the systematic Northerners against
the impulsive Latin races, whose temperamental traits lead them to
content themselves with a brilliant start, leaving thereafter to
imagination the task of filling in the blanks left in the reality by
this unsatisfactory method of operation.

I confess that in setting out for South America I was prepared to find
that I should need the greatest indulgence if I would escape the danger
of offending by discourteous but candid criticism. This was due to the
fact that I was insensibly influenced partly by a few sociologists who
discuss these matters carelessly, and partly by the folly that leads
us to overlook the claims of consanguinity and urges us ever along
those paths that England and Germany have opened. But not at all. If
the prodigious expansion of the great North American republic may
have inclined me to fear for the South American republics anything
approaching to comparison, it is my belief that any impartial observer
will rejoice to recognise the robust and generous development of some
of the most promising forces of the future, in young communities
that are clearly destined to attain to the highest grades of human
superiority.

In 1865 Buckle, who was a man of no ordinary mental calibre, did not
fear to write in his _History of Civilisation_ that the compelling
action of land and climate in Brazil was such that a highly civilised
community must shortly find a home there. The event has amply justified
the bold prophecy. In the South American republics, as in the United
States and elsewhere, there are different degrees of fulfilment, of
course. At the outset, while waiting for land to acquire value, all
peoples have had to be satisfied with an approximate achievement. But
in the Argentine, Uruguay, and Brazil, to speak only of countries I
have visited, it is plain that nothing will be left half done, and
the capacity to carry all work methodically forward to its end, in no
matter what field of labour, promises well for the future of a race.

You do not require to stay long at Buenos Ayres to find that this
quality exists in a very high degree in the Argentino.

I have mentioned the European aspect of Buenos Ayres--the least
colonial-looking, probably, of any place in South America. But I
noticed at the same time that the Argentino refuses to be simply a
Spaniard transplanted, although _society_, in Buenos Ayres, traces its
descent, with more or less authenticity, from the _conquistadores_,
and did originally issue from the Iberian Peninsula. If we go farther
and inquire what other influence, beside that of soil and climate, has
been exercised over the European stock in the basin of the Rio de la
Plata, we are bound to be struck with the thought that the admixture
of Indian blood must count for something. The negro element, never
numerically strong, appears to have been completely absorbed. There is
very little trace of African blood. On the other hand, without leaving
Buenos Ayres, you cannot fail to be struck by some handsome half-castes
to be seen in the police force and fire brigade, for example, and the
regularity of their delicate features is very noticeable to even the
observer who is least prepared for it. The Indian of South America,
though closely akin to the redskin of the North, is infinitely his
superior. He had, indeed, created a form of civilisation, to which
the _conquistadores_ put brutally an end. There still subsist in
the northern provinces of the Argentine some fairly large native
settlements which receive but scant consideration from the Government.
I heard too much on the subject to doubt the truth of this. Not but
what many savage deeds can be laid to the charge of the Indians, as,
for example, the abominable trap they laid for the peaceful Crevaux
Mission in Bolivia which led to the massacre of all its members. Still,
in equity we must remember that those who have recourse to the final
argument of brute force are helping to confirm the savages in the habit
of using it. In the interest of the higher sentimentality we must all
deplore this. But our implacable civilisation has passed sentence on
all races that are unable to adapt themselves to our form of social
evolution, and from that verdict there is no appeal.

Not that the native of the South is incapable, like his brother of the
North, of performing a daily task. I saw many natives amongst the hands
employed by M. Hilleret in his factories in Tucuman. Neither can it
be said that there is any lack of intelligence in the Indian. But the
fact remains that he finds a difficulty in bending the faculties which
have grown rigid in the circle of a primitive state of existence to the
better forms of our own daily work, and this renders it impossible
for him to carve out a place for himself in the sunlight under the new
social organism imported from Europe by the white men. With greater
power of resistance than the redskins of the other continent, he, like
them, is doomed to disappear. Yet in one respect he has been more
fortunate than his kinsmen of the North, and will never entirely die
out, for he has already inoculated with his blood the flesh of the
victors.

I am not going to pretend to settle in a word the problem of the
fusion of races. I will only observe that the inrush of Indian blood
in the masses--and also to a very considerable extent in the upper
classes[15]--cannot fail to leave a permanent trace in the Argentine
type, notwithstanding the steady current of immigration. And if I were
asked to say what were the elemental qualities contributed to the
coming race by the native strain, I should be inclined to think that
the Indian's simplicity, dignity, nobility, and decision of character
might modify in the happiest way the turbulent European blood of
future generations.

After all, the Argentino who declines to be Spanish has, perhaps, very
good reasons for his action. Here, he has succeeded, better than in the
Iberian Peninsula, in ridding himself of the Moorish strain, which,
though it gave him his lofty chivalry, has yet enchained him to the
Oriental conception of a rigid theocracy. Why should not native blood
have taken effect already upon the European mixture, and, with the
aid of those unknown forces which we may class under the collective
term of "climate," have prepared and formed a new people to be known
henceforth by the obviously suitable name of "Argentinos"? All I can
say is that there are Argentine characteristics now plainly visible
in this conglomeration of the Latin races. The objection may be made
that the "Yankee" shows equally strongly marked characteristics, which
distinguish him from the Anglo-Saxon stock, while we know that he is
unaffected by other than European strains. This is undeniable, and in
his case soil, climate, and the unceasing admixture of European types
suffice to explain modifications which are apparently converging
towards the creation of a new type or sub-type.

It is remarkable that the character of the Americanised Englishman,
having passed through a phase of Puritan rigidity in the North and
aristocratic haughtiness in the South, has, for some inexplicable
reason, burst out into a temperament of highly vitalised energy
that may be summed up in the characteristic formula of a universal
"go-aheadedness." The South American, on the contrary, having started
with every kind of extravagance in both public and private life
calculated to destroy the confidence of Europe, is obviously now
undergoing a settling-down process with a marked tendency to adopt
those principles of action of which the North is so proud, while at the
same time retaining his affection for Latin culture.

It is easier to generalise about the Argentine character than to
penetrate beneath its surface. It is naturally in "society," where
refinement is the highest, that traits which best lend themselves to
generalisation are to be seen in strongest relief. The American of
the North is, above all, highly hospitable. If you have a letter of
introduction, his house is open to you at once. He establishes you
under his roof and then leaves you to your own devices, while keeping
himself free to continue his daily occupation. The Argentino receives
you as kindly, though with more reserve. Although I know but little of
the business world, I saw enough of it to gather that money enjoys as
much favour there as in any other country; but the pursuit of wealth
is there tempered by an indulgent kindliness that greatly softens all
personal relations, and the asperities of the struggle for life are
smoothed by a universal gentleness charming to encounter.

In their family relations the differences between the social ideals
of the North and South American are plainly visible. The family tie
appears to be stronger in the Argentine than, perhaps, any other land.
The rich, unlike those of other countries, take pleasure in having
large families. One lady boasted in my presence of having thirty-four
descendants--children and grandchildren--gathered round her table.
Everywhere family anniversaries are carefully observed, and all take
pleasure in celebrating them. The greatest affection prevails and the
greatest devotion to the parent roof-tree. Not that the Argentine woman
would appear to be a particularly admirable mother according to our
standard; for, on the contrary, it is said that her children are turned
out into the world with very bad manners. How, then, are we to explain
the contradictory fact that such children become the most courteous
of men? Perhaps a certain wildness in youth should be regarded as the
noisy, but salutary, apprenticeship to liberty.

All that can be seen of the public morals is most favourable. The
women--generally extremely handsome in a super-Spanish way, and often
fascinating[16]--enjoy a reputation, that seems well justified, of
being extremely virtuous. I heard too much good about them to think
any evil. They were, from what I could see, too carefully removed from
the danger of conventional sins for me to be able to add the personal
testimony that I have no doubt they merit. As to their feelings,
or passions, if I may venture to use the word, I know nothing and
therefore can say nothing. Are they capable of the self-abandonment
of love, of experiencing all its joy and all its pain--inseparable as
these but too often are? They did not tell me, so I shall never know.
The most I can say is that they did not give me the impression of being
made for the violent reactions of life as we know it in our daily
European existence. I hope no one will see in this statement a shadow
of criticism. It is, indeed, a compliment if you will admit that in
an Argentine family love's dream is realised in the natural, orderly
course of events. But if it were otherwise, it would still be to the
highest credit of the women that in their _rôle_ of faithful guardians
of the hearth they have been able to silence calumny and inspire
universal respect by the purity and dignity of their life.

Above all, do not imagine that these charming women are devoid of
conversational talent. Some ill-natured critics have given them
a bad reputation in this respect. Their principal occupation is
evidently paying visits, and they gossip as best they can under the
circumstances, considering that neither their friends nor their
foes give any ground for tittle-tattle. This deficit might cause
conversation to languish. Dress and news from the Rue de la Paix are
a never-failing topic.[17] May not this be true in other lands? It
has also been said that the beauties of Buenos Ayres are as prone
to speculate in land as their menkind. It is quite possible. None
will be surprised to learn that they gave me no information on this
head either. They are credited, too, with being very superstitious,
and are supposed to attach great importance to knowing exactly what
must not be done on any given day of the week, or to what saint they
should address their petitions. Here, again, I can give no authentic
information. Naturally, had I been present at any of their meetings,
the first condition of an exclusively feminine company would have been
unfulfilled. It seems to me more reasonable to believe that the many
works of public charity in which the ladies of Buenos Ayres take a
share would account for much time and also for much talk.

Further, I may in all sincerity remark that if female education
be not one of the points in which the Argentine Republic has left
us behind, it is none the less a fact that I was happy enough to
meet many charming women who were perfectly capable of sustaining a
thoroughly Parisian kind of conversation supported by a fund of general
information. And, moreover, they added a charm of geniality and real
simplicity that are not too common on the banks of the Seine.

I have not spoken of shopping, which is the main occupation of the
fair sex in North America, for the reason that at Buenos Ayres I saw
none. I mentioned that the footwalks of the business quarter--including
Florida, the handsomest and busiest of the streets--were blocked to
such an extent that it was impossible to walk there two abreast. You
do not expect to hear that there are any elegant toilettes in the
crowd. And, in fact, in the central streets no women go afoot for
pleasure. Some go about their business with hasty step, and that is
all; the others receive the tradesmen at home, or take their chance of
calling in the motor-car, which, after five o'clock, will probably not
be allowed in the street to which they want to go. What is left, then,
for the daily stroll? Only the wide avenues of the suburbs, where there
is no particular attraction, and Palermo--the unique and inevitable
Palermo, or rather, a part of Palermo, with the Recoleta, which makes a
fine beginning for a public promenade.

In these circumstances it is evident that the aspect of the pavements
of Buenos Ayres suffers by the absence of the fair sex. It might be
thought that at Palermo, where the walks lead amongst flowers, lawns,
and groves, our Argentinos would recover the use of their limbs and
guard against their dangerous tendency to an over-abundance of flesh.
Not at all. Social conventions do not allow of this. Our classics,
men of mature mind, were fond of saying, with the Apollo of Delphi,
that excess in all things is bad. Buenos Ayres has not yet reached
to this degree of wisdom, and its female society, not satisfied to
follow closely after virtue, seeks to add to their fame the spice
of a reputation that leaves absolutely nothing to be said. For this
reason they guard against even a chance encounter that might appear
compromising. And so the fair sex only consent to walk on the Palermo
under the protection of a rigorous rule of etiquette which enacts that
to stop and talk on a public road with a lady whom one may meet later
in the day in some _salon_ is a sign of unpardonable ill-breeding.
Decidedly we are far from Europe.

To complete the exotic air of the place, know that all husbands are
jealous, or, at least, so they say, and it must be supposed there is
some foundation for the statement. As far as I was able to judge,
they are as amiable as their wives, and appear by no means to harbour
tragic intentions towards any man likely to arouse their resentment.
No. But if by chance, after dinner, you remain chatting quietly with
one or two ladies, and in the inevitable ebb and flow of a _salon_
you find yourself for a moment left alone with one, be sure that her
husband, more genial than ever, will promptly appear on the scene
to claim his share in the talk. At home this would appear strange,
since we do not impose the spectacle of our private intimacies upon
the public. Yet may not this very air of detachment upon which we
insist lead, both in public and in private, to some of the tragedies
of life? Is it wrong for a married couple to love each other? And when
two hearts are united in this way how can a feeling so powerful fail
at times to betray itself by some outward manifestation? Let us take
heed lest, in laughing at others, we denounce ourselves. A man in a
very high position, who is the father of a lad of twenty, volunteered
to me the information that in the whole course of his married life he
had nothing to reproach himself with, and that if by some misfortune he
had transgressed the marriage law, he should have considered himself
wholly unworthy of the woman who had given her whole life to him. No
doubt the woman in question, who happened to be standing near us as we
talked, fully merited his homage. Yet I wondered, as I listened to his
noble and simple speech, whether one could find many Frenchmen to make
in all candour such a confidence to a perfect stranger, or, supposing
one found such a one, could he say as much without an embarrassed
blush? Whatever may be the secret opinion of my reader, I hope he will
agree with me in thinking that the advantage in this delicate matter is
decidedly on the side of the Argentino, whose sane morality is the best
of auguries for the community he is trying to found.

I should like to say something about the Argentine girl. The difficulty
is that I never saw her. Every one knows that in North America the
young girl is the principal social institution. She has got herself so
much talked about that neither Europe nor Asia can help knowing her.
In Argentine society, as in France and in Latin countries generally,
the young girl is a cipher. She may be seen, no doubt, in the home,
at concerts, where she figures in large numbers for the satisfaction
of our eyes, at Palermo, at the Tigre,[18] and the Ice Palace--very
respectable--where she skates under her mother's eyes, and, finally,
at balls, whose joys and special rites are the same the world over.
But all this does not make of the South American girl an element of
conversation and social doings as in the United States. She remains on
the edge of society until the day of her marriage. At the same time,
the Argentine girl must not be supposed to resemble very closely her
sister in Latin Europe. Less educated, perhaps, but more vivacious
and less timidly reserved, she shows greater independence, they tell
me, at Mar del Plata, which is the sole common meeting-ground for
wealthier families, since the Pampas offer no resource outside the
_estancia_.[19] At the Colon Theatre and at the Opera she is seated
well in view in front of the box, making the whole ground floor an
immense basket of beribboned flowers, and there, under the eye of her
parents, the young men who are friends of her family are permitted to
pay their respects to her. Must it be confessed? It is said that she
makes use of borrowed charms, applied with puff and pencil, following
in this the example of her who should rather prevent than abet? This
must, however, be libel, for whenever I ventured a query on the point,
I was met with a shrug of the shoulders and a burst of laughter. In
such a case, the man who can laugh sees always more than smoke.

The father is not a negligible quantity, whatever may be said of him. I
saw very plainly that it is entirely untrue that he takes no interest
in his children's upbringing. I may have come across a few specimens
of idle youth engaged in flinging their _piastres_ into the gutter,
but as regards heads of families, there is no comparison between the
number who here are seeking distractions, illicit or otherwise, for a
useless existence and those of the same type to be seen in any capital
of Europe.

But while I have here said nothing that is not strictly true, I am
not trying to represent the Argentine husband as the phoenix of the
universe. Money is so plentiful that it may well be responsible for
some sins, and, on occasions, I suspect that the city can supply
opportunities of committing them. Even so, it is wise to maintain the
strictest reserve on the subject, for Buenos Ayres smacks strong of
the small country town, and there is abundance of pointed arrows for
culprits who allow themselves to be caught. Still, as long as society
has not decreed the total suppression of the bachelor....

None can deny that gambling occupies too large a place in the life
of a certain number of the newly rich. But are we indeed justified
in pretending to be more scandalised at what takes place amongst our
neighbours than at home? What might I not write about the development
of our _casinos_? To satisfy this vice in the masses the Argentinos
have established lotteries, which now add to the temptations, powerful
enough already, provided by race meetings. The evil is universal; I can
but note it.

The form of gambling which is special to Buenos Ayres is unbridled
speculation in land. In Europe it is constantly stated that all the
work of Buenos Ayres, as of the Pampas, is done by foreigners, whilst
the Argentino himself sits waiting for the value of his land to treble,
quadruple, decuple his fortune without effort on his part. This might
easily be true, since the value of property has risen with giddy
rapidity of late years. Sooner or later, of course, there must be a
reaction; this is obvious. But until that day dawns it must be admitted
that, in a country where every self-respecting mortal owns a bit of
land, large fortunes have been realised before the fortunate proprietor
has raised as much as a finger. Our fellow-countryman M. Basset told me
that on his own estate the rise in value of his waste ground allowed
him to recoup himself for all he lost on his arable land. Under these
circumstances, it is really not surprising if prices form a general
subject of conversation. It was, in fact, on a larger scale, but with
less excitement, a repetition of the Fair of Mississippi stock, in
the Rue Quicampoix, with this difference, that there is here some
foundation for it, though it is by no means inexhaustible.

But while there is no denying that land speculation occupies a special
place in Argentine life to-day, it is also incontestable that all ranks
of society are here, as elsewhere, devoting their energy to some great
agricultural, commercial, or cattle-rearing enterprise. The _estancia_
needs a head. Herds of ten thousand cows must be well looked after if
they are to be productive in their three departments--dairy, meat, or
breeding. The magnificent exhibits that we see at shows are not raised
by the sole grace of God, and the "big Argentinos" with whom I had
the privilege of chatting not only spoke of their _estancias_ with a
wealth of detail that showed a close interest, ever on the watch for
improvements, but also frequently I was given to understand that they
had other business which claimed part of their time. And many of them
surprised me by their readiness to discuss topics of general interest
that happened to be engrossing the attention of Europe at the time.

The growing interest taken in all kinds of labour on the soil and
the need of perfecting strains of cattle both for breeding and for
meat have led the larger owners to group themselves into a club,
which they call the Jockey Club. The name suffices to denote the
aristocratic pretensions of an institution that has, nevertheless,
rendered important services to the cause, as well for horned cattle as
for horses. The sumptuous fittings lack that rich simplicity in which
the English delight. The decorations are borrowed from Europe, but the
working of the club is wholly American. The greatest comfort reigns in
all departments of the palace, whose luxury is not allowed to dissemble
itself. The cuisine is thoroughly Parisian. Fine drawing-rooms, in
which the light is pleasantly diffused. A large rotunda in Empire style
is the show-place of the club, but, like Napoleon himself, it lacks
moderation. A severe-looking library, reading-rooms, banqueting-rooms,
etc.

To explain the amount of money either amassed or flung away
here, it must be remembered that all the receipts taken at the
race-courses--less a small tax to the Government--come back to the
Jockey Club, which is at liberty to dispose of them at will. Hence
the large fortune of the establishment, which has just purchased a
piece of land in the best part of Buenos Ayres, for which it gave
seven millions; and here it is proposed to erect a palace still more
grandiose. I saw in the papers that the Jockey Club intends to offer
to the Government the building they now occupy in the Rue Florida, and
it is believed that the Foreign Office will be moved there. You see,
the Argentine cattle breeders have found very comfortable quarters and
enjoy themselves there.

M. Benito Villanueva, the Chairman of the Jockey Club, is a senator,
extremely prominent in the business world, who joins the most
superlative form of North American "go-aheadism" with the graceful
urbanity of European _bongarçonnisme_. He is in close touch with all
classes in the capital, and if he cannot be said to have a hand in
everybody's business, it is certain he could if he would. People who
have never set eyes on him speak of him by his Christian name, and
as there are not two "Benitos" of that calibre this is accepted as a
matter of course. Very unceremonious, very quick of perception, and
with a dash of the modern aristocrat in his bearing, he is a manager of
men who would make any sacrifice to gain his end. His small black eyes
are as bright as steel, and gave me an impression that it would not be
agreeable to have him for an enemy. Like any man who combines politics
with large business interests, he has his adversaries, but he appears
entirely oblivious of them. His _estancia_, the "Eldorado," with its
racing stables and prize cattle, the Senate, which he attends with
great regularity, and the innumerable commercial enterprises in which
he is engaged (to say nothing of the admirable Jockey Club), make him
one of the busiest men in Buenos Ayres. Nevertheless, he always found
time to waste in my company, and showed me much both in and out of
Buenos Ayres. I found every one in the capital obliging to a degree,
and it would be rank injustice to place M. Benito Villanueva in a
category by himself under this heading. I will only say, therefore,
that if many equalled him, none surpassed him.

Who better fitted to do the honours of the Palermo racecourse than
M. Villanueva? Modern arrangements, elegant fittings; no convenience
missing. The Jockey Club Stand has a first-class restaurant on its
upper story, where its members who are just sufficiently interested in
the racing to make their bets can enjoy at the same time the pleasures
of the table and a view of the winning-post. Betting is fabulously
high. But the racecourse is open to the same objection as Palermo.
What is to be said of the hideous embankment of yellow clay that bars
the landscape? Surely the setting of a racecourse is not without its
importance. As far as the convenience of the situation goes, this one
leaves nothing to be desired. But really, seeing the small part played
in an afternoon's racing by the events themselves, how is it that the
artists who laid out this hippodrome neglected to provide a lovely view
for the joy and repose of the visitors' eyes? They talk of masking the
slope by plantations, but the trains that traverse the course from one
end to the other will still remain visible. I have nothing against this
form of amusement, though I think it almost a pity not to reserve it
for the delectation of the _ranchos_ out on the Pampas, since there is
no part of the plain where it might not be enjoyed. Then the displaced
railway would allow of a cutting which would let in a great flood of
light as far down as Rio.

The racing public, from horses to humans, being everywhere the same,
there would be nothing to say of either professionals or spectators,
had I not noticed that the fair sex of Buenos Ayres, as seen in the
stands, were wearing with confident grace the latest creations of
Parisian fashions, and more than made up in quality for their possible
inferiority in quantity as compared with a Longchamp gathering. I
will not say that there were not a few errors in technical details
here and there. But it was pleasant to see that some of our audacious
Parisian freaks, contrary to what one might imagine, find only the
faintest of echoes in these brilliant meetings. The reason is that the
cunning display of eccentricities by beauties who have nothing to lose
cannot here, as at home, react on the toilettes of society women by
consequence of a universal search after novelties whose sole object is
to attract attention. The reason is simple. In Buenos Ayres there is
no _demi-monde_, for the few belles who cross the ocean to come here
are birds of passage merely, and cannot be said to form a class. When
present they avoid the grandstands of the racecourse and take refuge
in the paddock, where their loneliness makes them rather an object of
public pity.

Still in Señor Villanueva's company, I had the pleasure of visiting
the Tigre, the finest recreation ground open to the inhabitants of
Buenos Ayres. But do not be misled by the name to fancy that it is
a menagerie. There were, it appears, in distant ages, some few great
cats that ventured as far as the mouth of the Parana in order to steal
a breakfast at the expense of the citizens of the capital. Times have
greatly changed. It is now the honest Argentino who comes here to get
a meal after having taken proper steps to ensure the absence of the
tiger. The delta of the Parana is formed by an inextricable network of
channels, dotted with innumerable islets, whose luxuriant vegetation
has won for them the pretty name of a "Venice of Gardens." In all this
floating land imagine trees of every kind leaning over the water as
though attracted by the moving reflection of their foliage; call up a
picture of orchards in the glory of their spring or autumn dress; fling
amongst the groves an orgy of wild and cultivated flowers; people the
shade of the branches with large and small boats filled with merry
young people, whose song and laughter blend with the music of the oars,
and you will have an idea of the pastimes that the Tigre can offer.
_Quintas_, _chalets_, built on piles, hotels, restaurants, wine-shops,
resorts of all kinds, suited to all classes of society, provide a
peaceful asylum for fête days and holidays, far from the turmoil and
bustle of Buenos Ayres. Following the stream upwards, past miles of
wood and water, there are still more picturesque sites to be visited,
where man has not yet set his hand, and the boat glides in and out of
these beflowered waterways as far as Parana, whence come the big boats
from Paraguay laden with oranges, their decks shining in the sunlight
like some quaint palace of ruddy gold.

The Tigre is reached by railway in twenty minutes, and a skiff bespoken
in advance awaits you at the station. But Señor Villanueva, whom
nothing can daunt, wanted to try a new road, said to be just finished,
in his motor-car. Now, carriage roads are not a strong point in this
country, where no stones are to be found. However, after a journey that
recalled at times the passage over the rollers at Auteuil Lock, we duly
and miraculously reached the Tigre without quite wrecking the car, but
not without some damage to our more sensitive and intimate organs.
Wherefore we were assailed by a longing for the _chaises-longues_
and easy-chairs of our hotel, which drew us forthwith to the
booking-office of the railway-station, whence modestly and quickly we
made our way back.

Since the subject of hotel furnishings thus comes under my pen, why
not say at once that in the Argentine, as in Brazil, the internal
arrangements of the houses show that the greater part of the time is
spent out of doors? Italy, with its open-air life, was naturally the
land to which the Argentino turned for architects to supply florid
furniture, meant rather to look at than to use; and when to this
is added cheap German goods with their clumsy designs, one may be
pardoned for finding a lack of grace as of comfort, to a French way of
thinking.[20] In aristocratic _salons_ the best Parisian upholsterers
have at least left their mark--with a little overcrowding in effect, if
the truth must be told. In a few, where "antiques" were discernible,
there were evidences of an appreciation of just proportions and
simplicity. But my criticisms must be taken in the most general way
possible.

It is in the hotels that one feels the farthest from Europe, and this
in spite of a manifest attempt to do things well. A continual change
of servants and a bad division of labour ensure infinite discomfort
for the traveller. There is, it is true, central heating, but it works
badly. Is the _pampero_ blowing? The pipes of the radiators shake the
window-panes with their tempestuous snorting and bubbling, waking you
out of your sleep with the suddenness of their noise; but they diffuse
only cold air.[21] An electric heating apparatus, hastily put in, must
be used to supplement the other. Do you want to lock up some papers?
You may, perhaps, after a long search, find a key in your room, but
it will assuredly fit none of the locks. As I was tiresome enough to
insist, the manager, anxious to oblige me, ordered his own safe to be
placed in my apartment, with all his accounts therein. When I found
the drawer that was placed at my disposal, I found money in it! Oh,
marvellous hospitality!

To the new houses in the town chimneys are being added. The European
who comes to the Argentine for the winter months--June, July,
August--can be delighted with the change. But, meantime, he suffers
keenly from the cold, for if the sun shines perseveringly in a
cloudless sky, an icy south wind will prove very trying to Europeans
who are not accustomed to such sharp contrasts.[22] As for the summer
season, which I have not tried, every one talked of its charms, the
greatest being, apparently, to go and wipe one's brow at the Tigre, at
Mar del Plata, or on the _estancia_, in default of the mountain resorts
within reach of the Brazilians.

It is difficult to speak of Argentine cookery--which is rather
international than local--always excepting those households that
boast a French _chef_. The influence of Italy, with her macaroni
and her cheese, predominates. The vegetables are mediocre; the
fruit too tropical, or, if European, spoilt by the effect of the
tropics. Lobsters and European fish, imported frozen, are not to be
recommended; table water is excellent. The national dishes, _puchero_,
or boiled beef, good when the animal has not been slaughtered the
same morning; _asado_, lamb, roasted whole--savoury souvenir of my
excursions in Greece, where it is to be met under the name of _lamb à
la palikare_. I might add a long list whose sole interest would be the
strange-sounding names given to familiar dishes. Still, as the main
conditions of man and communities are necessarily unvarying, is it not
in appearances and forms of expression that we find variety?

FOOTNOTES:

[15] I might instance a statesman who has all the externals and
probably also the prudent wisdom of a pure _cacique_ of olden times.

[16] I shall not take the liberty of attempting a description of
Argentine beauty. Let me only mention their large black eyes, heavily
shaded, the delicately golden skin, beneath which there pulses a
generous blood, and the sweet and ever youthful smile.

[17] "Six dresses are sufficient for me for one season in Paris; in
Buenos Ayres I want quite a dozen," says an Argentine belle who was
until recently a member of the Parisian diplomatic world. The more
limited circles of Argentine society and the proportionately keener
rivalry of personal luxury may explain the difference.

[18] This is the name applied to the group of islands forming the Delta
of the Parana.

[19] An estate devoted to agriculture and cattle rearing.

[20] The dearness of living in Buenos Ayres and especially of rents is
a common theme among travellers.

[21] I understand there is a scheme for adding a system of central
cooling for summer use in hotels and private houses in hot climates.
Nothing would be easier or more useful. Even in our own land there are
many days in the season when we should be glad of cool radiators.

[22] It is often said that Buenos Ayres has a "Nice winter." This is
strictly true. The sun is rarely wanting, and the _rôle_ of the Mistral
is played by the pampero with great success.



CHAPTER VII

ARGENTINE POLITICS


Writing about a country, with no dogmatic intention, but drawing at
haphazard from memory impressions received, has this advantage, that
instead of setting down general theories that are always open to
argument, certain living traits may be seized upon which, by the very
fact that they are open to more than one interpretation, demand the
constant collaboration of writer and reader. The method--if one may
apply so big a word to so small a result--gives me an opportunity of
making a few observations about the organisation and working of the
Argentine Government.

It seemed quite natural to the intellectuals of a democratic Republic
that a democrat should come out to talk to them about democracy, to
discuss the serious problems it presents and the solutions that
time is more or less rapidly working out for them. Nevertheless, it
is not without some legitimate trepidation that one faces a public
completely unknown, proud probably of its achievements, ardently
hopeful certainly for the future, and inclined, no doubt, thanks to
the very sincerity of its labours, to be carried away by an excess of
jealous susceptibility. I was quickly reassured. The consciousness of
a great work accomplished, a keen appreciation of the finely organised
effort whose astounding results are revealed anew each day, give to the
Argentine people too just a confidence in the value of their activity
for them to see more in any courteous criticism than a good opportunity
of improving on their past--on condition, naturally, that the criticism
appear to be well founded. The critic is thus disarmed, and lets fall
his weapons for fear lest a shaft intended only to graze the skin
should penetrate deeper and inspire a weakening doubt in the mind of
men who are engaged, body and soul, in a tremendous struggle after
social progress.

In matters of government the Argentinos are neither better nor worse
off than any people of Europe where freedom of speech has begun its
work. But, notwithstanding the astonishing rapidity of assimilation
that distinguishes this land, there is as yet too little homogeneity
in the masses for the possibility of any influence from below, on the
problems of the day, apart, of course, from matters that make appeal to
patriotism, which inevitably provoke unanimity. There are many other
countries of which, in spite of appearances to the contrary, the same
might be said.

Here, as elsewhere, politicians, who are the more or less official
mouthpieces of that vague concourse of general opinions which we call
the mind of the public, may very easily mistake the ephemeral demands
of a party for the permanent interest of the country.

A point to be noticed is that faction fights, which have for so long
brought bloodshed into the cities and villages of South America, are
now disappearing. It is scarcely possible, none the less, for all
traces of violence to depart, leaving no reminder of movements which
have made of political changes one long series of hysterics. Autocracy
and sudden upheavals are inseparable. This is the lesson that the
races of the Iberian Peninsula have best learnt from their governors.
In Brazil, where an admirable economic movement goes hand in hand with
a remarkable development of orderly progress and civic peace, recent
events have shown what fires are smouldering beneath the molten streams
of a dying volcano. It is to be hoped that our friends will not be
found lacking either in the patience or the courage necessary to impose
on the public a salutary respect for law! In Uruguay, a land of Latin
amiability, the rage of revolution has frequently broken out; and if,
to all appearances, there is calm to-day, Whites and Reds still exhibit
mutual hostility without troubling to find reasons that might explain,
if not justify, recourse to arms. The Argentinos appear farther
removed from the danger of revolutionary shocks. "Wealth has quieted
us," said a politician. This is no new thing. All activities profit
by undisturbed work and lose by deeds of violence. Lucrative labour
and the fear of losing what has been acquired go to make up a fund of
prudence.

But while, happily, in the Argentine there is no present menace of
revolution, I cannot deny that in the provinces I often heard rumours
of it. Insurrection seemed imminent. Precautions were taken to protect
arsenals. And when I inquired the reason for such a movement, I
was invariably told that no one knew, but that no doubt there were
malcontents. One need not go as far as the Argentine to seek for
them. As all these alarms ended in nothing, I must put them down as a
verbal echo of a vanished epoch. I can but admire the profound peace
that has succeeded to the fury of the past, for the Argentino who, in
revolution, exposed his person so light-heartedly did not fear to take
the life of his enemy.

But can it be affirmed that in no department of the Administration
there has survived some trace of the cavalier methods of former
days? Is it true that some officials do as they like with the people
committed to their charge, and inflict treatment that is passively
borne for the moment, but may lead to terrible reprisals later? It was
often stated in my hearing, but I could never obtain any proof. I shall
not make myself the echo of slanders and calumny, which, in all lands,
are the weapons used by public men against each other. I will only take
the liberty of reminding my Argentine friends that one never need fear
excess on the side of a watchful control over Government offices.

M. Thiébaud, the Minister of France, presented me to M. Figueroa
Alcorta, the President of the Republic.[23] He gave me the most
cordially courteous of receptions, prompted, of course, by the
respect and friendship that Argentine statesmen have for France.
The President's first words were an inquiry as to whether I was as
comfortable at the Palace Hotel as at the _Hôtel du Mouton_, in
Chantonnay (Vendée). This showed me that the President of the Argentine
Republic was a reader of the _Illustration_, for a photograph of that
more than modest establishment was recently published in the columns
of the review on the occasion of an expedition I made to my native
country, when I put up at the little inn. I assured him that the
resources of Buenos Ayres were infinitely superior, and from this we
wandered off into a very interesting talk about our two countries.

M. Figueroa Alcorta was Vice-President of the Republic when the death
of President Quintana called him to the supreme _magistratere_. I
fancied that a good many people found it hard to forgive him this
unlooked-for good fortune. Some journalists thought it funny to create
for him the reputation of a "Jettatore," an inexhaustible subject
for spiteful tales in the Opposition sheets. They say the story has
not been without influence on the feminine world, specially prone
to superstition. M. Figueroa Alcorta appears to bear the misfortune
with calm courage. He talks of the Argentine with a modesty that does
not exclude a just pride, and for France he had only sympathetic
admiration. Let me say also that President Saënz Peña, whom I twice
saw in Buenos Ayres, is a devoted friend to France and French culture.
It is my duty to add that M. Saënz Peña's attention has been called to
certain lapses in the administration, and he is firmly resolved to put
an end to them.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, M. de la Plaza, has, since my
journey, become Vice-President of the Republic. He is rather heavy
and cold in appearance--with the silent gravity of the _cacique_, it
is said--but he is a man of profound culture and keen mind, and it is
not impossible that his taciturnity and slowness of speech are merely
diplomatic. He enjoys the reputation of being a thorough Anglomaniac,
but this, fortunately, does not preclude him from being also a
Francophil.[24]

I must mention the Minister of Public Works, M. Ramos Mexia, who was
continued in his important office by President Saënz Peña when the
Cabinet was new-formed. In a country where great public works are
constantly being undertaken, an upright mind and an iron will, united
to a spotless reputation, are all needed to resist the overtures of
the large European firms that are clamouring for contracts. A vast
field for quarrels, more or less veiled personal attacks, and unending
recriminations. I do not want to recriminate myself, or, indeed, to
touch on any delicate questions; yet I must regret the preference that
has been shown for Krupp cannon, when innumerable experiments have
demonstrated the infinite superiority of French guns.

I have already pointed out that England, by our wilful negligence,
managed to obtain the right of building practically the whole of the
railway system. She has done the work to the satisfaction of the
public, and the same may be said of the way Germany has installed the
electric systems. France triumphs in the ports of Rosario, Montevideo,
Pernambuco, Bahia-Blanca, and Rio Grande do Sul. That is all I can say,
for at the moment there exists the keenest European competition in the
harbour works of Mar del Plata and Buenos Ayres. Some complain that
Ramos Mexia has been too favourable to England. He is, however, first
and foremost an Argentino, and he uses his right to take the best from
each country.

If there has been in the past some little friction, I fancy it is
now over; it hardly could be otherwise, for M. Ramos Mexia is a warm
admirer of French culture, and as well acquainted with our classics as
our contemporaries, beside being a regular attendant at the lectures at
the Sorbonne and Collège de France whenever he is able to take a little
recreation in Paris. Need I add that Mme. Ramos Mexia is the most
French of all the Argentinos whom I met--French in the graciousness of
her welcome and French in charm of conversation.

We know that in the Argentine (and perhaps in all South American
republics, with the exception of Chili) Ministers are not responsible
to Parliament. In Chili, Parliamentary coalitions amuse themselves
by knocking over Ministers like ninepins. In the Argentine it is the
rule--to which there are exceptions--for Ministers to follow the
President, whose agents they are, having the sole function of obtaining
from the Chambers the funds required to carry on the administration.
Before I weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of this system,
which was imported ready-made by South America from the north, let me
record the surprise I felt when I discovered that, notwithstanding
the absurd stories told of the lack of measure in "hot countries," a
South American assembly could give a lesson in dignity to more than
one European Parliament. In England, as we know, measures have been
taken to prevent personal questions from being introduced into debates,
where the interests of the public alone occupy members' attention. Here
the chivalrous temperament of Castile suffices as a guarantee against
excesses of language or abuses at the hands of the majority. For
instance, in some cases a speaker is granted only ten minutes in which
to give the merest sketch of his Bill. If the orator be a member of the
minority, however, Speaker and Chamber make it a point of honour to let
him take as long as he likes. If he goes too far the rule is applied;
but this, I was assured, never happens. Finally, "it is our constant
rule," said a member well qualified to make the statement, "not to let
slip allusions in the course of a debate that might hurt the feelings
of a colleague. This requires no effort. It is just a habit one can
acquire." May the "habit" be shortly acquired in all lands!

Now that the tide of free civilisation is setting towards a dissolution
of all autocratic Powers, from Russia to Persia, and even to China,
instituting the parliamentary system which we have come to regard as
the best instrument for controlling and liberating the democracy, it
is a remarkable fact that, in practice, Parliament is much criticised,
more particularly in countries where it was only obtained after long
and painful struggles. The reason, to my mind, must be sought in the
unpardonable waste of time in debates, where free rein is given to a
puerile love of theatrical display. In the absence of any salutary
check on the humours of orators, too little attention is given to
bringing the discussions to a practical conclusion. A good reformer
should be able first to reform himself.

It is less the Parliament than the executive that attracts the European
observer of American institutions. This is because Parliament is
dominated by the executive, instead of being itself the dominating
power. The South American republics hastened to copy the Constitution
of the United States of the North, which is the original creation of
the revolution of 1776, and adapted, in a marvellous degree, to the
needs, idea, and sentiment of the country. Adopting its text, if not
its spirit, the South Americans fell into the same error as Europe has
done in copying the English Constitution in the letter, but not in the
spirit and sense given to it by the people whom it justly claims to
express.

Without entering on a discussion that would lead me too far, I
could not refrain from remarking that in actual working the North
American institutions have become distorted in South America, a
change rendered inevitable by the different level of public education
and the geographical distribution of the population. It was in the
nature of things that the earliest civilisation should partake of
the constitution of states or provinces destined later to form a
federation, but as long as the Motherland imported the sovereign
authority from outside, the struggles between a budding liberty and
an unchecked autocracy were unceasing. Once self-government had
been proclaimed, it became obligatory to constitute such elements
of public life as should make its exercise possible. Now, for this,
it is not enough to draw up a code of principles. We cannot, then,
be surprised if the South American races, fondly attached to their
own institutions, which maintain the principle of an autonomy of
federated States and provide for their idealism a verbal satisfaction,
inestimable, as they think, are yet (just like other nations now
undergoing democratic evolution) far enough from an adequate
realisation of their idea. We can scarcely expect any concerted
political action from men (often of foreign birth) who are scattered
all across the Pampas and separated by enormous distances. And, as
regards the cities, great or small, a political _élite_ will more
easily organise itself--especially where an absence of public opinion
facilitates the abuse of power--than will the "sovereign people" be
brought to exercise their sovereignty (and this we see even in Europe).

Hence the evils often made public, which are but striking examples
of what we see elsewhere; notably, the indifference of the electoral
body, evidenced by the contemptibly small number of voters who answer
the summons to the ballot--and of these few some have been brought
thither by who knows what means! To this public apathy must be added
the abstention of the middle classes, always difficult to incite to a
common political action, who thus leave a wider field than is desirable
to the machinations of the professional politician, with his methods,
direct or indirect, of bringing pressure upon the elector.

I have no hesitation in speaking of the evil. But at the same time I
must point out that if the mind of the public--such as the intellectual
_élite_ of the nation have made it--experiences some difficulty in
getting used to the slow methods of organised political action,
the independent spirit and personal dignity of the citizens are so
strong[25] that a force of public opinion is gradually evolving which,
in spite of some backsliding, will soon be powerful enough to impose
its decisions on the world of political intrigue. For instance, it is
frequently said that the President of the Republic does, in effect,
nominate his successor by reason of his authority with the State
Legislature, and there is a grain of truth in the assertion. Yet if
it were strictly true, the same party would remain in perpetuity in
power, and this we know is not the case. Thus public opinion, when
it pronounces itself with sufficient decision, can, with the help of
a wholesome fear of revolt, vanquish all resistance and bring in its
candidate. In this way any eventual abuse of personal influence is, in
effect, prevented, and this is precisely what happened in the case of
the election of M. Saënz Peña. I fear that nowhere are institutions
worked according to rule. Before throwing stones at the Argentine, let
us look at our own deficiencies.

The weak place in South American constitutions, as organised on the
theory of Jefferson, appears to us Europeans to lie in the fact that
too much power is vested in the individual. In our continent this would
open the door to the danger of a reconstitution of the forces of the
past, whose only hope now lies in the possibility of a surprise. In
America a federation of divided Powers offers so many different centres
of resistance (providing always that each State Government enjoys a
real autonomy) to any attempt at usurpation. The American of the South
is no less attached than his brother of the North to the principle of
autonomy of States. It only remains for him to make it a reality.

As a matter of fact, moreover, the theoretic independence of Ministers
and Parliament does not hold together, in view of the omnipotence of
the representative assemblies in matters of finance. This system has
the advantage of making a series of crises impossible, but a Minister
must, and always does, disappear when a succession of votes proves that
he no longer possesses the confidence of Parliament.

In America, as in Europe, the Press is the highest power after the
Government. I say "after," because we must believe the Constitution. It
is, however, only too true that the moral paralysis that distinguishes
certain "popular leaders," whose chief anxiety is to trim their course
to every wind that blows, leaves to any one who claims to speak in
the name of public opinion a degree of authority before which the
individuality of the pretended governing body, in spite of its pomp of
speeches, is apt to disappear.

But although the Press plays unquestionably a very important _rôle_ in
the Argentine, it did not appear to me that the evil went as far as
this. Not but what, perhaps, the man who owns a newspaper is as much
inclined here as anywhere to make the most use he can of its influence.
But in a land that calls out the best in any man, even the Latin,
usually so easy a prey to the designs of the political revolutionary,
manages to preserve enough independence of character to offer an
effective resistance to projects that are too flagrantly opposed to his
own calmer views.

Argentine statesmen, worthy the name, are not content to hold opinions
of their own; they are perfectly capable of the tenacity necessary
to put a scheme into execution and carry it through. Clearly the
advantages that go to make up the success of the Argentine Republic
would count for nothing were there no strong minds to grasp the higher
principles of public interest and no strong hearts to enforce their
practice. The Argentine is a battlefield where every kind of moral
force, including politics and sociology, is now in the full heat of
action, and exposed to all the chances and changes common to weak
humanity.

Public activity is here, as in all countries, manifested chiefly by
means of parties, a necessity, practically, which has at least as
many advantages as disadvantages. Casuists have argued much about
the relative qualities of "human" parties and those of any given
intellectual symbol. The Argentine Government is not based upon a
traditional or historic fact, but on a theory of right in which
originates an organisation of justice and liberty that can only pass
from principle to practice when the citizens are capable of clothing
its bare bones with the living sinews of action; but this fact in no
sense changes the problem, since man without the intellectual symbol or
idea can be only a disturbing force, and the idea in politics has no
value apart from the man who can give it life.

The old-fashioned Press of ideas has made prodigious strides since the
days of Armand Carrel, and the modern reader is more especially greedy
for facts. With these before him he forms his own opinions, and the
most the writer can do is to prepare the way towards a given deduction,
without being able to discount its acceptance with any certainty. In
reality, the Argentine Press is no better and no worse than that of any
free countries; and, whether as regards news or party politics, the
newspapers are extremely well conducted.[26] Not but that you may find
occasional violence of language, as happens everywhere, but there are
extremes which the public will not tolerate. There are no pornographic
Press and no pictures of a kind to defile the eyes of every passer-by.
On this we may congratulate a race whose healthy energies find too
continuous employment in the sunshine for them to develop any tendency
towards the excesses of "civilised" corruption.

The _Prensa_ is, as we all know, the leading newspaper of the South
American continent. Under the skilful control of its founder, M. Paz,
the _Prensa_ has reached a state of prosperity which, within the
limits of its field of action, makes it the equal of any advertising
agency in the world. It is a paper that has to be reckoned with by
every party, for although not officially attached to any group of
politicians, it obviously seeks--while maintaining the principles
of democratic evolution--to hold the balance between all parties,
ready if necessary to intervene at the critical moment. Just now its
general editor is M. Ezequiel Paz, who seems in every way capable of
carrying on his father's work. M. Zeballos is credited with being the
fount of inspiration of the paper. The ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs
is at the same time a literary man, a legal expert, and a historian.
His writings on questions of law are highly esteemed in Europe. An
untimely dispute with Brazil drove him out of office, and gave him the
leisure he is turning to account now. M. Paz is enjoying a well-earned
rest in Europe, but he retains supreme control of the sheet; and a
gorgeous palace that he is building in the best part of Buenos Ayres
would appear to point to an intention of returning to the country
before long. If he does I cannot help pitying him, for he will require
nothing less than the Court of Louis XIV., or perhaps of Xerxes, to
fill this showy dwelling. The business quarters of the _Prensa_ are
in the Avenue of May, and if smaller in dimensions, they are no less
magnificent. The building is one of the sights of the city. How shall
I describe it? It would fill a volume. Every department of the paper
is lodged in a way that unites the most perfect of means to the end in
view. Simplicity of background, a scrupulous cleanliness, comfort for
every worker therein, with a highly specialised method that gathers
together all the varied workers on the staff to direct them towards
their final end and aim, namely, promptness and accuracy of news.
With all this there are outside services, such as a dispensary, so
complete it would need a specialist to catalogue it, and suites of
apartments that are placed at the disposal of persons whom the _Prensa_
considers worthy the honour. I confess that I thought less luxury in
this part of the building would have been more to the taste of the poor
distinguished men who are lodged there, since a comparison with their
own modest homes would be wholly to the disadvantage of the latter.

The _Nacion_ is a party organ in the best sense of the word, following
the exalted traditions of Bartolome Mitre. It has been compared with
our _Temps_. My friend Antonio Piñero exercises considerable influence
here over the descendants of the great statesman. But for the quiet and
invaluable help given by the _Nacion_, all of whose interests lay in
the opposite direction,[27] we should never have succeeded in getting
the law establishing literary proprietorship through Parliament. It is
my duty as well as my pleasure to take this opportunity of offering my
grateful thanks in the quarter where they are due.

The _Diario_, in its turn, deserves special mention on account of
its editor, M. Manuel Lainez, senator, who has a rare command of the
most refined of Parisian critical talent, the sting of which does
not exclude mirth. M. Lainez is one of those journalists who excel
in detecting the weak spot in men and things and take a delight in
driving home the shaft of a caustic phrase. He dissects with ease, and
disguises the depth of his own knowledge under a thin veil of irony. I
know of no more charming talker. Whether or no his wit has injured his
political prospects is a point I am not able to decide.

Then I must mention the _Argentina_, which seemed to me an honest news
organ; and finally, I must not neglect the photographic papers, the _P.
B. T._ and the _Caras y Carietas_, in which the spoken word gives place
to the picture, according to the formula lately invented amongst us.
Both have a large circulation.

We all remember the words that Ibsen has placed in the mouth of his
"Enemy of the People" about papers being edited by their readers. No
doubt the gazette, nowadays, seeks less to establish an idea than to
conform to the supposed feelings of the masses in whose hands is the
key of success. Its educational influence has, of course, been in
consequence greatly reduced; still, a remnant exists. The culture,
slow but inevitable, of the masses must in time have a good influence
on the Press that caters for them. Photography, when genuine, and the
cinematograph, which vitalises it, have a real educational value. The
trouble is that nothing is sacred to the Argentine photographer. He
is omnipresent and enjoys the execrable privilege of being at home in
all homes. You give a dinner-party to friends or relations. With the
dessert there appear some pale persons, draped in black, who disturb
servants and guests to set up their complicated lenses on the spot that
strikes their fancy. Then comes the blinding flash and a poisonous puff
of smoke, and the master of the house hastens to thank the intruders
for the outrage. The _diable boiteux_, who lifted the roofs of houses,
has been surpassed. When an unfortunate Argentino wants to offer his
heart (always accompanied by his hand) to the lady of his choice, let
him begin by doubly locking all the doors and hermetically closing the
shutters, if he wishes to be safe from intrusion!

I alluded just now to the voting of the Law of Literary Property.[28]
As may be supposed, such an excellent Act was not carried through
without long preparation. I could give a list of men who, on both sides
of the ocean, worked in favour of this act of justice and literary
honesty. From the moment that Argentine statesmen realised that purely
intellectual labour had proprietary rights in the same way as every
other kind, and that to defraud its owners of the proceeds was to place
themselves outside the pale of civilisation, they made it a point of
honour to yield to the representations made to them from all parts of
the world. Is it not extraordinary that a law which was diametrically
opposed to the interests of persons particularly well placed to defend
them should have been voted unanimously without a single protest? All
honour to the Argentine Republic, not only for the act itself, but for
the nobility with which it was performed.

It would be an affectation on my part to pass over in silence the
public which did me the honour to come to listen to my lectures
on democratic evolution as it manifests itself in history and in
contemporary events. The subject is not wildly amusing. It is, however,
one of those that are of surpassing importance to-day, and none can
ignore it. Unfortunately, the general public cannot acquire any
trustworthy knowledge of it by scrappy reading indulged in between
the hours of the day's work; and if in the tumult of party passion the
public are to be of any real service to their Government in solving it,
the problem calls for more than a hasty and summary judgment founded
on insufficient data. And yet was it not too much to expect of people
who are engrossed all day by their own affairs to come to listen to
the statements of a public man, against whom there must necessarily
be some prejudices on a question of pure doctrine? The majority of
workers are not free of an afternoon, and the "upper classes," even the
most cultured--in Europe, at least,--are too distrustful of democratic
movements in general to waste an hour on a subject that worries them.
Happily, the history of American peoples has never been embittered by
race hatred engendered by centuries of oppression, and revolts of which
it is to be hoped that we have now seen the end. In the North, as in
the South, a formula frightens nobody. Society has been built up on a
new idea embodied in language that was once the terror and scandal of
the Old World. When put in practice, however, these ideas and their
verbal expression have stood the test of a century of trial; and the
"practical" men of the new continent, while no less alive to social
needs than any others, are, perhaps, more ready than the rest of us
to make an experiment that can be recommended by right and by reason.
There is here neither middle class nor aristocracy in the sense that
we attach to those terms in the Old World. All are workers who, having
reached the top rung of the ladder, are ready to hold it steady for
other feet to climb, rather than to overturn it and retard the advance
of those behind.

Thus, beside the small aristocracy formed of the last vestiges of the
original Spanish colony, I had the pleasure and honour of finding a
large public of European culture and wide intelligence, eager to hear
what any European might have to say about an idea whose course he was
honestly seeking to trace, whether bearing on the political and social
experiences of Europe or on the more or less rational experiments of
which their own land is the theatre. Their unbiassed criticism and
independent opinions are all one could hope to find in an audience one
is trying to influence. The very best public possible, prepared to
surrender or resist according to the intrinsic value of the arguments
presented. The element of resistance came, perhaps, from the feminine
section, slightly actuated by snobbishness, and either holding itself
aloof by way of protest against the possible utterance of ideas too
bold to be acceptable, or attending the lectures in order to get some
understanding of the subject so as to discuss it afterwards.

As regards language, there was no difficulty. Every one here
understands French, reading and speaking it like the speaker himself,
and showing by their gestures that no shade of meaning was lost on
them. What better could one wish? By the grace of winged words the mind
of France has flown across the ocean, and we may rejoice in the fact
and found great hopes for the future on it. It is therefore with the
greatest pleasure that I offer my heartfelt gratitude to this admirable
audience for their constant kindliness and for the encouragement that I
found in their remarkable idealism and determination.

FOOTNOTES:

[23] I take this opportunity of thanking M. and Mme. Thiébaud for the
friendly welcome I found at the French Legation.

[24] If to Argentine diplomacy the rigidity of our famous chapel on the
Quai d'Orsay be unknown, they have none the less given us first-class
men--such, for instance as the present Minister for Foreign Affairs, M.
Ernesto Bosch, who is much esteemed in the French political world, and
his worthy successor in Paris, M. Enrique Rodriguez Larreta.

[25] It pleases me to note the triumph of pride over vanity shown in
the fact that the Argentinos have deliberately renounced the childish
folly of orders.

[26] Thanks to the difference in the clocks, the Buenos Ayres
newspapers are able to publish in their morning editions news appearing
at the same time in London and Paris.

[27] The _Nacion_ publishes a Library of translations of the best works
in French (fifty per cent. of the whole), English, Russian, German,
Italian, to say nothing of Spanish and Argentine works in the original.

[28] I regret to say that Brazil is backward in this respect. Let us
hope she will not let Russia get ahead of her!



CHAPTER VIII

PAMPAS LIFE


Every capital is a world in itself--a world in which national and
foreign elements blend; but to understand the life of a nation
one must go out into the country. A vast territory, ten times the
size of France, extending from Patagonia to Paraguay and Bolivia,
will naturally offer the greatest diversity of soil and climate,
representing differing conditions of labour as well as of customs
and sometimes of morals. Our ancient Europe can in the same way show
ethnical groups with sufficiently marked features (such as in our
French provinces) which a long history has not been able to destroy or
even to modify.

It is quite another matter when, on a continent with no history at
all, you get men of every origin spread over it, brought thither by
a community of interest and in the hope of cultivating the soil by
their labour. I have already said what racial characteristics subsist.
The colonist will, of course, at first do all he can to remain what
the land of his birth has made him; the first evidence of this is his
tendency to fall into groups and form national colonies. But the land
of his adoption will in time surely force upon him the inevitable
conditions of a new mode of life, the very necessity of adapting
himself to changed conditions making of him a new creature, to be later
definitely moulded by success.

The Pampas are not the Argentine. They form, however, so predominant
a part that they have shaped the man and the race by imposing on them
their organisation of agricultural labour and the development of their
natural resources. Whilst manufactures are still in a rudimentary state
and are likely to remain so for a long time to come owing to the lack
of coal, the Pampas from the Andes to the ocean offer an immense plain
of the same alluvial soil from end to end, ready to respond in the
same degree to the same effort of stock-raising or agriculture. An
identical stretch of unbroken ground, with identical surface, identical
pools of subterranean water, no special features to call for other than
the unchanging life of the _Campo_.

Naturally, the first experiments were made in the most rudimentary
fashion on the half-wild herds of cattle that could not be improved
unless the European market were thrown open. As soon as this outlet was
assured the whole effort of skill and money was directed towards the
improvement of stock, and the progress made in a few years of work far
exceeded the brightest hopes of those early days. And as at the same
time a powerful impetus was given to wheat-growing, the Pampas from
one end to the other of their vast extent immediately took on a dual
aspect: cattle farms (herds grazing on natural or artificial pastures),
and acres of grain (wheat, oats, maize, and flax)--this is the only
picture that the Pampas offer or ever can offer to the traveller. The
system of cattle-breeding, primitive in the extreme at a distance from
railroads, improves in proportion as the line draws nearer; wherever
the iron road passes there is an immediate development of land under
cultivation.

All this goes to make up a man of the _Campo_--the _estanciero_,
colonist, peon, _gaucho_, or whatever other name he may be called.
Certain conditions of living and working are forced upon him from which
there is no escape. Whether landed proprietor, farmer, servant, or
agricultural labourer, the vastness of the plain which opens in front
of him, the distance between inhabited dwellings, the roughness of the
roads, leave him no other means of communication but the horse, which
abounds everywhere and can be unceremoniously borrowed on occasion.
The man of the _Campo_ is a horseman. He is certainly not an elegant
horseman, whose riding would be appreciated at the Saumur Cavalry
School. No curb; only a plain bit is used, whose first effect is to
bring down the animal's head and throw him out of balance, whilst his
rider, to remedy this defect, raises his hands as high as his head. To
the unsightliness of this picture is added an unstable seat. As very
often happens in similar circumstances, instinct and determination more
or less making up for all mistakes, the rider manages approximately to
keep on his beast's back, thanks partly to the fact that the horse is
rarely required to go at more than a moderate pace over level ground.
The hoof never by any chance can strike on a stone, though it may be
caught in a hole; the active little _creole_ horse excels in avoiding
this danger. One can ask no more of him. (I shall have something to say
later of the way wild horses are broken in.)

On his enormous saddle of sheepskin, the peon or _gaucho_, his hat
pulled well down over his eyes, his shoulders draped in the folds
of the _poncho_,--a blanket with a hole in it for the head to pass
through,--is encumbered with a whip whose handle serves on occasion
as a mallet, and a lasso, with or without metal balls, coiled behind
his saddle. He makes a picturesque enough figure in the monotonous
expanse of earth and sky, where _rancho_ or tree, beast or man, stand
out in high relief against a background of glaring light. Without
sign or syllable, his eyes fixed on the empty horizon, the man passes
through the silence of infinite solitude, rising like a ghost from the
nothingness of the horizon at one point to sink again into nothingness
at another. When riding in a troop, they talk together in low tones.
There are none of those outbursts of fun that you might expect in a
land of sunshine. It is the gravity natural to men brought face to face
with Nature in the pitiless light of sky and earth where no fold or
break in the surface arrests the glance or fixes the attention.

Still, there are those gigantic herds of horned cattle or horses which
fill an appreciable portion of the melancholy plain--"green in winter,
yellow in summer." I say nothing of the great flocks of sheep because
there were none in the districts which I visited. When you talk of
a herd of ten thousand cows, you make some impression on even a big
farmer of the Charolais. Well, I can assure you that out in the Pampas
ten thousand head of cattle is a small affair. You see a dark shadow
that rises on the horizon that might be either a village or a group of
haycocks, until the vague shifting of the mass suggests to your mind
the idea of some form of life. The lines show clearer, groups break
off and stand out, pointed horns appear, and at last you find you are
watching the tranquil passage of a monstrous herd, whose outlines
are stencilled in black upon the whiteness of the sky-line like the
Chinese shadow pictures I saw on one occasion at the _Chat Noir_ (in
Montmartre) when the flocks of the patriarchs were flung upon the
sheet. So distinct are the shapes here that you lose the sense of
distance and are astonished at the harmony of nonchalant impulse, as
irresistible as slow, which can thus set in movement this huge living
mass and make it pass before us like a vision of Fate. The dream
fantasy is the more striking because it changes so rapidly. Withdraw
your eyes a moment from the picture, and it is entirely altered. The
heavy mass of migrating cattle seems now to have taken root at the
opposite extremity of the horizon, whilst in the depths of the luminous
distance shadowy patches of haze more or less distinct betoken further
living bodies, some stationary, some in motion. These are mirages
of the Pampas of which none takes any heed; but upon me they made a
powerful impression, for I saw in them the whole tragedy of this land,
from the tuft of grass on which the eyes of the beast first saw the
light down to the last step of that fateful journey which ends at the
slide of the slaughter-house.

The rapid travelling of the motor-car multiplies one's point of view.
The vast estates on the Pampas, which run from two to a hundred square
miles in extent, are further divided into large sections bounded
by wire fencing to limit the wandering of the herds. The roads are
marked out by a double row of wire. What dust and what mud may be
found thereon, according to weather conditions, may be imagined, since
there is not the smallest pebble to be found there. Yet vehicles
do, it appears venture along these paths, and even arrive at their
destination. You may also meet flocks of sheep and oxen on them, and
families of pigs engaged in breakfasting on a sheep that has been
relieved of its skin. In less than an hour its bones, picked clean,
are scattered along the way, where in process of time they will
contribute precious phosphates to the soil. Naturally, on such a
"road," the automobile does not yearn to travel; rather does it prefer
the green smoothness of the immense prairie. Here there are no police
regulations to annoy the motorist. No other law but your own fancy and
a certain thought for the savoury lunch that is awaiting you at the
next _estancia_. When you reach it you will discover that the monstrous
herds on the horizon were merely these gentle creatures, placid in
their happy ignorance of the fell designs that are the hidden causes
of man's kindness to them. Do we astonish them? Or are they wholly
indifferent? Their eyes are fixed on our panting machines as ours are
on the grazing beasts, and not a spark is struck by the meeting of the
two intelligences, the one so calmly definite and the other too soon
checked in its effort to understand. Obedient to the _rebenque_ (whip)
of the peon, the herd, which in motion looks so threatening, allows
itself to be stopped or led by the cries and rapid movements of the
horsemen going at a hand-gallop. The sight of any object that waves in
the wind (whether coat or _poncho_) is equally effectual.

If one expects the cows, which are penned for milking (three quarts a
day as an average), the only apparent relations between man and beast
consist in the easy use of this instrument of terror. Nothing is done
for the flock except to provide the mill which automatically feeds the
water-troughs, and to see to the safe arrival of the bulls intended to
improve the breed, and to select those from the herd destined for the
freezing machines; for all their other needs Providence is expected to
provide--quite a different _régime_ from that prevailing in our French
stock-farms. Of shelter against wind or sun there is none. The grass is
there when the drought has not burnt it up, also an ugly thistle which
no one troubles to pull up and which sometimes overruns the pasture.
Of Nature's scourges, the drought is the most to be feared, for it
falls with fearful suddenness on great stretches of the _Campo_. In the
absence of rain, neither turf nor forage nor harvest can be looked for;
for the cattle, death is certain. Winter in any case is a hard season
for them. Their coats lose their gloss, their flanks fall in, and their
pointed bones witness to their sufferings, which the icy breath of
the _pampero_ does nothing to assuage. With the spring comes the hope
of rain. But if this hope is betrayed, nothing can save innumerable
herds from starvation and death. Forage is always stored for the more
precious of the stock, but to feed the herd is out of the question.
The Pampas then become one vast cemetery where hundreds of thousands of
dead cattle are lying in heaps beyond all possibility of burial. It is
the custom to leave the body of the beast that dies by the way to the
tender mercies of the wind and the sun, the rain and the earth, into
whose wide-open pores the remains are little by little absorbed. The
birds of prey and dogs are valuable assistants but wholly insufficient.
One of my friends told me that it was by no means uncommon for the
dogs to return to the farm from the _Campo_ bearing a horrible smell
about them. For my part, if I was often revolted by the spectacle of
putrefying carcasses lying about the Pampas and seen either on my walks
or from the railway-train--some even lying festering in pools close
to dwelling-houses--I cannot say that my olfactory nerves were ever
troubled. I occasionally spoke of the danger of poisonous fly-bites,
but I got only vague replies.

In my personal experience, whenever I met something disagreeable on
my walks about the Pampas, the carcass was invariably completely
mummified, the skin being so thoroughly tanned that the object might
have been carefully prepared for a museum of comparative anatomy. But
when death was recent, and the summer season had set in, with its
attendant flies, I should certainly avoid the neighbourhood.

It will surprise no one to hear that I took the liberty of calling the
attention of two or three statesmen to the dangers of this unfortunate
custom and the detestable impression it is bound to make on travellers.
The reply invariably was that the Argentine was suffering, and would,
no doubt, continue to suffer for some time to come, from a lack of
hands and that the thousands of animals which under normal conditions
perished in the Pampas could never find grave-diggers. When, therefore,
a dry season killed off as many as ten thousand sheep on a single
ranch, there was no alternative but to bow to the inevitable.

We see that cattle-rearing in the Argentine has its ups and downs.
At every turn Nature intervenes with its elements of success or
disaster. Man's _rôle_ is to furnish a minimum of labour, and by the
force of circumstances, he is compelled to reckon on quantity for
his modicum of success; but the fact does not prevent his successful
efforts to improve the quality. As I have already said, he will give
any prize to secure a fine strain. It is naturally from England that
he gets his stock for breeding, since the customers for his meat are
chiefly English. On all hands I was told that the results were most
satisfactory. As regards their breed of horses, the result is manifest.
But as for the cattle, I take the liberty of disagreeing with those
who declare that the Argentine can send to our slaughter-houses at La
Villette meat as fine as our own at half its price. If, however, I am
firmly convinced that our palate would not readily be satisfied with
the frozen meat that seems to please the English, I am quite aware that
there is a distinction to be drawn between the choice beasts, generally
magnificent, that make such a show at exhibitions and the common run of
the average flock, amongst which truth compels me to admit there are
some very indifferent animals. It will require a long time and a change
of system on the cattle-rearing farms for the Argentine ever to equal
the fine products of our French breeders. It cannot be otherwise as
long as the young animal, bred somewhat at haphazard and born on the
open camp between the corpses of some of its relations, is left to grow
up as best it can, exposed to every change of temperature. Everywhere
I came upon young calves abandoned by their mothers as soon as born,
and only sought out when the time for feeding came round; it cannot be
said that the stock would bear comparison with the average produce of a
Norman or Charolais byre. Not all the quality of its mother's milk will
suffice to make up for the ground lost by neglect.

As I have said, the troops of horses seem to have lost the least.
I speak less of their appearance than of their action, which often
seemed to me remarkable. You cannot imagine the pleasure it is to glide
swiftly across the Pampas in a motor-car with a troop of young horses
on either side of you, neighing and galloping to keep up with the
machine. But do not, pray, call them "wild horses."

Tradition to the contrary notwithstanding, I believe there are no
wild horses in the Argentine. There are horses, and there are horsemen
who treat them brutally under the pretext of breaking them in. This
is a survival of ancient times which not even the universality of the
horse in civilised countries can destroy. Any English squire will get
more out of a young horse by quiet skill and kindness than can ever be
obtained by the useless and cruel lasso, to which I shall return later.

I have shown you the Pampas alive with the swarms of their new
civilisation. We are far enough from the romantic descriptions so dear
to story-tellers. We all know now that the redskin of North America
bears no resemblance to the portraits painted of him by Chateaubriand
or Fenimore Cooper. The Pampas, in full process of evolution, are
getting more human and losing their distinctive features. They were
once as bare, to quote the joke of a poet, now a member of the Académie
Française, "as the speech of an academician"; man has undertaken to
raise up orchards, groves, and even forests. Once they were the refuge
of more or less innocent beasts. The son of Adam, by the mere fact of
his presence, treads out all life that cannot be made of use to himself.

I said that the _ombu_ was the only tree that flourished in the Pampas,
for the simple reason that the locusts devour every other vegetable
product, including clover, crops, and trees of all sorts. The damage
caused by these insects, which descend in clouds and destroy in a
moment the harvest, is only too well known by our Algerian colonists.
Wherever the cloud descends vegetation vanishes. In a few hours every
leaf is gone from the tree, and only the kernel, clean and dry, is left
on the branch as a mute witness of the irreparable disaster. I did
not see the locusts, but I was shown the result of their work, most
conscientiously carried out. Men who have put long months of toil into
their land see, with impotent rage, all the fruit of their toil swept
off in the twinkling of an eye. The Government lays out some millions
yearly to assuage in some sort the mischief done. But the only remedy
applied up to the present consists in making such a din on the approach
of the baneful host as to induce them to go on farther and land at a
neighbour's. As altruism, this course is not above reproach. Another
way is to dig ditches in which to bury them alive, but this is mere
child's play. If you inquire the origin of the scourge you will get
the sulky reply that the pest comes from Chaco, and that some men have
travelled thither to verify the statement, but the country proving
impenetrable, the project has for the moment been abandoned. I hasten
to place these insufficient data before the European public.

Alone victorious over the locusts by the repugnance it inspires, and
over man by its glorious uselessness, the _ombu_ here and there spreads
its triumphant arms near some ranch; occasionally, on the pasturage of
the _Campo_, it may be seen extending its shelter to some quadruped
that shuns the rays of the sun. Around his _estancia_ the farmer plants
his orchard and his ornamental thicket, which will flourish or not at
the will of the insects. After the passage of the destructive horde it
requires at least two years for the country to recover. The eucalyptus,
owing to its rapid growth, gives very good results, but the favourite
tree in the Pampas is the _paraiso_--the Tree of Paradise--which is
admirable rather for its flower than its form, and withstands to some
extent the locust, through sheer force of resistance. Occasionally one
comes upon a small wood, in which the _ornevo_--the cardinal--sings and
the dove coos.

For the _Campo_ has a whole population of running or flying creatures,
whose principal virtue is that of being satisfied with little in the
shape of a shelter. The gardens and parks of the _estancias_ provide a
natural asylum for a world of winged songsters, in whom man, softened
by isolation, has not yet inspired terror.

But the Pampas in their nudity are not without signs of life. There is
the guanaco, smaller than the llama, larger than the stork, which has
already retreated far from Buenos Ayres. The grey ostrich, formerly
abundant, has been decimated by the lasso of the _gaucho_, who, at
the risk of getting a kick that may rip him open, attacks the beast
that struggles wildly in the bonds of the cruel rope, drags out his
handsomest feathers, and then lets him go. The really "wild" ostrich
has disappeared from the Pampas. Numbers may be seen from the window of
the train, but they are all confined in fenced parks, and are really
in captivity.

I cannot be expected to give a list of all the creatures that swarm on
or under the soil of the _Campo_. There is nothing to be said about
the prairie-dog, which has been systematically destroyed on account of
the damage it does. I must mention the _tatou_, a small creature with
a pointed muzzle, something between a lizard and a tortoise, and with
the shell of the latter. It burrows into the ground, as certain of
our European species do. The _gaucho_ considers its flesh excellent,
declaring that it tastes like pork. Perhaps the surest way of getting
the taste of pork is to address oneself to the pig himself, here
popularly known as the "creole pig," a lovable little black beast that
plays with the children in tiny muddy pools in the neighbourhood of the
ranches.

Passing by the hare (imported from Europe), the small partridge,
and the martinette (_tinamou_), to which I shall return presently,
I may mention the plover (abundant) and the birds of carrion, which
settle all disputes for the possession of the ground according to the
dictates of a boundless appetite, and the small owl, so tame that it
rises every few yards with a cheerful cry to come down again a few
yards farther on, following all your movements with a questioning eye.
At the mouth of its burrow, or on the stake that marks the boundary of
the ranch, its pretty form is a feature in the landscape. Finally, I
must not forget the _ornevo_, to be found near the _estancias_ and in
the woods, a charming, tame little bird, that chatters all the time
like a good many people, and builds a mud nest in the branches, in the
shape of an oven divided into two apartments, whose tiny door opens
always to the north, whence comes the warmth. If you lose yourself in
the forest you need no compass but this. The _gauchos_ hold the bird
in pious respect. Legend has it that he never works on Sundays at his
nest. Here is one who wants no legislation for a _repos hebdomadaire_
any more than he does for the regulation of the liquor sale. Oh, the
superiority of our "inferior brethren"!

I heard a good deal about the great lakes in which thousands of
black-necked swans and rose-pink flamingoes may be seen at play. I
was never able to visit these fascinating birds. To make up for this
M. Onelli presented me with two handsome black-throated swans, which,
however, were not able to stand the climate of Normandy.

Having thus sketched the principal features, it remains to fill in the
picture of the ranch and _estancia_. I have shown you the primitive
cabin of the Robinson Crusoe of the _Campo_. I have drawn a picture of
the colonist and the _gaucho_; it is not necessary to go back to him
again. I have shown the diverse elements of his existence. The railway
has not changed anything in it except by abolishing the interminable
rides of earlier days and the tiresome monotony of convoying freight
waggons to the town markets. The railway, moreover, brings within reach
of the ranch the conveniences of modern furniture.

In the huts of the half-castes, near Tucuman, the only piece of
furniture I saw was a pair of trestles, on which was laid the mat which
served as seat, bed, or table--the kitchen being always outside. In
the Pampas, dwellings that look modest, and even less than modest,
generally boast an easy-chair, a chest of drawers, with a clock, a
sewing-machine, and gramophone, which, when fortune comes, is completed
by a piano. The gramophone is the theatre of the Pampas. It brings with
it orchestra, song, words, and the whole equipment of "art" suited to
the æsthetic sense of its hearers. Thus on all sides dreadful nasal
sounds twang out, to the great joy of the youth of the colony.

The morals of the _Campo_ are what the conditions of life there have
made them. Men who are crowded together in large cities are exposed
to many temptations. When too far removed from the restraint of
public opinion, the danger is no less great. In all circumstances a
witness acts as a curb. In the Pampas as it used to be, the witness,
nine times out of ten, became an accomplice. Between the menace of
a distant and vague police force and the ever-present fear of the
Indian, the _gaucho_ became a soldier of fortune, prepared for any
bold stroke. With his dagger in his belt, his gun on his shoulder,
and the lasso on his saddle-bow, he rode over the eternal prairie
in search of adventures, and ready at any moment for the drama that
might be awaiting him. To his other qualities must be added a
generous hospitality, that dispensed to all comers his more or less
well-gotten goods; he had in him the material for an admirable leader
in revolutionary times. I saw no revolutions, and I hope the Argentine
has finished with them for ever; but the periodic explosions that have
taken place there are not so ancient but that an echo of them reached
my ear. I shall leave out of the question, of course, all more remote
circumstances that might serve at hazard to put a body of adventurers
in motion. You were on the side of General X or General Z, according to
the hopes of the party; but, in reality, that had little to do with it.
When the signal was once given a military force had to be organised,
and the means adopted were admirably simple. Any weapon that could be
of use in battle was picked up, and a band would present themselves at
the door of an _estancia_.

"We are for General X. All the peons here must follow us. To arms! To
horse!"

And the order would be obeyed; otherwise, the _estancia_ and its herds
would suffer. With such a system of recruiting, troops were quickly
collected, and a few such visits would suffice to bring together a very
respectable force of men. My friend Biessy, the artist, with whom I had
the pleasure of making the journey, witnessed just such a scene one
day at an _estancia_ which he was visiting. He was chatting with the
overseer when the man, hearing a suspicious sound, flung himself down
and put his ear to the ground. A moment later he rose, looking anxious.

"There are horsemen galloping this way. What can have happened?" And
sure enough, a minute later, there appeared a band of men so oddly
equipped that at first they were taken for masqueraders. It was
carnival time. The leader, however, came forward and called on the
overseer to place all his peons at the service of the revolutionaries.
Biessy himself only escaped by claiming the rights of a French citizen.
And do not imagine that all this was a comedy. The dominant sentiment
in their camp was by no means a respect for human life. On both sides
these brave peons fought furiously, asking no questions about the
party in whose cause they happened to be enrolled. The overseer of a
neighbouring _estancia_, who was talking with M. Biessy when called to
parley with the revolutionaries, was shot dead a few hours later for
having offered resistance to them.

If men are thus unceremoniously enrolled--I use the present tense
because one never knows what may happen--it may be imagined the horses
are borrowed still more freely. A curious thing is that when the war
is over, and these creatures are again at liberty, they find their way
back quite easily to their own pastures.

The overseer of one _estancia_ told me that the last revolution had
cost him 600 horses, of which 400, that had been taken to a distance
of from 200 to 300 kilometres, returned of their own accord. How they
contrive to steer their course over the Pampas, with their inextricable
tangle of wire fencing, I do not undertake to explain. When I inquired
of the overseer whether it were not possible to steal one of his horses
without being discovered, he replied, "Oh, it is like picking an apple
in Normandy! It often happens that a traveller on a tired horse lassoes
another to continue his journey. But on reaching his destination he
sets the animal at liberty, and he invariably makes his way back to the
herd."

I have already spoken of the time when the _gaucho_ would fell an ox
to obtain a steak for lunch. In some of the more remote districts it
is possible that the custom still subsists. But it is none the less
true that a growing civilisation and the railway, which is its most
effectual and rapid instrument, are changing the _gaucho_, together
with his surroundings and his sphere of action. The _gaucho_ on foot is
very like any other man. His flowing necktie of brilliant colour, once
the party signal, has been toned down. His _poncho_, admirably adapted
to the climatic conditions of camp life in the _Campo_, is now used by
the townsmen, who throw it over their arm or shoulder according to the
variations in the temperature. The sombrero, like the slashed breeches
or high boots, is no longer distinctive. There remains only the heavy
stirrup of romantic design, more or less artistically ornamented,
but now often replaced by a simple ring of rope or iron. The days of
roystering glamour are passed. The heavy roller of civilisation levels
all the elements of modern existence to make way for the utilitarian
but inæsthetic triumph of uniformity. Yet a little longer and the life
of the _Campo_ will be nothing but a memory, for with his picturesque
dress the type itself is disappearing.

The modern _gaucho_ has preserved from his ancestors the slowness
in speech, the reserved manner, and scrutinising eye of the man who
lives on the defensive. But to-day he is thoroughly civilised, and can
stroll down Florida Street, in Buenos Ayres, without attracting any
attention. It is in vain that the theatre seeks to reproduce the life
of the _Campo_, as I saw it attempted at the Apollo. What can it show
us beyond the eternal comedy of love, or the absurdities of the wife
of the _gaucho_ who has too suddenly acquired a fortune? Both subjects
belong to all times and all countries, in the same way as every dance
and every song are common to any assembly of young humanity. Long
before the gramophone was invented the guitar was the joy of Spanish
ears to the farthest confines of the Pampas. Between two outbreaks of
civil war, when men were rushing madly to meet death, joyous songs and
plaintive refrains alternated beneath the branches of the _ombu_,
where the youth of the district met, and the sudden dramas of the
ranch made them the more eager to drink deep of the pleasure they knew
to be fleeting. They danced the _Pericou_ and the _Tango_, as they
still do to-day; but the audacious gestures in which amorous Spain
gave expression to the ardour of its feelings have now passed into the
domain of history. The "Creole balls," where may be seen graceful young
girls in soft white draperies, dancing in a chain that resembles our
_Pastourelle_, have been reproduced on postcards and are familiar to
all. There are, there will ever be in the Pampas--at least, I fondly
hope so--graceful young girls dressed in white and destined to rouse
the love instinct which never seems to sleep in an Italian or Spanish
breast. But the trouble we take to reconstruct on the stage, for the
edification of travellers from Europe, the real _Tango_, in all the
antique effrontery of its ingeniousness, proves that the heroic age,
made up of the _naïf_ and the barbarous, is fast losing its last
vestiges of character in the wilderness of civilised monotony. The
_Tango_ is disappearing rapidly. On the other hand, at Rio de Janeiro,
in the flower of my seventieth year, I actually figured in the official
quadrille of the President of the Republic, to the shame of French
choregraphy. Alas! alas!



CHAPTER IX

FARMING AND SPORT


Roman civilisation ended in those _latifundia_ which, amongst other
causes, are usually considered to have brought about the ruin of
Italy. The immense estates of the Argentine _Campo_ were not built
up, however, by the expropriation of small farmers, as was the case
in decadent Rome. They are simply the result of wholesale seizure of
land at the expense of the savages who were incapable of utilising
it. Without discussing the origin of all landed property, or to what
extent our legal principles and our practice agree, I simply note the
fact that the _conquistadores_ and their descendants set down as _res
nullius_ whatever it suited them to appropriate.

The principle once established (this is the commencement of every
civilisation), there remained only to fix the approximate extent
of land likely to satisfy the appetite of the European newcomer. Do
you remember a fine story, by Tolstoy, of a man who was given, by
I know not what tribe of the steppe, as much land as he could walk
round in a day? Once started, the sole idea of the poor wretch was
continually to enlarge the circumference. It was only at the price of
a tremendous effort that he completed the circle, falling dead at the
moment of accomplishing his journey. The first settlers, who followed
the Genoese, took probably less trouble, though their greed was as
great. But as the land depends for its value on labour, the result for
Tolstoy's hero and for the _conquistadores_ was not so very different.
Thus, when the first ploughshare turned the first sod, the estate,
whatever its proportions, had to bear some relation to human capacity.
The large domains of to-day--measuring from two to a hundred square
miles--have proceeded from still larger ones, and gradually, as the
much-needed labour comes forward to undertake the task, we shall see
the further cutting up of preposterous holdings.

This is inevitable in the near future, and this alone will render
possible scientific farming, which is highly necessary for the
development of agriculture. A farmer who knows nothing of manure of
any sort, who is making his first experiments in irrigation, and who
burns his flax straw for want of knowing how to utilise it, will, for
a long time to come, continue to swamp the markets of Europe with his
grain and his meat, but only on condition that he is satisfied with
small profits and gives quantity in place of quality. These are the
conditions of life on the _Campo_, such as I have tried to sketch them.

It remains for me to introduce the chief agent in this huge movement of
cattle-rearing and agriculture, who, in his own person and that of his
overseers, administers the Pampas; he is the owner of the _estancia_,
the _estanciero_.

The word _estancia_--since it represents something non-existent
with us--is not easy to translate. Let us put it down as the most
sumptuous form of primitive ownership. I might call it the seat
of an agricultural feudalism if the peon were a man to accept
serfdom--something resembling a democratic principality, if the two
words can be coupled together.

When we meet him on the boulevard, the _estanciero_, who talks of his
immeasurable estate and his innumerable herds, seems to us a fabulous
creature. It is quite another matter to see him on horseback amidst his
peons in the Pampas, which, in default of the customary features of
private property, appears in its nakedness to be nobody's land--that is
to say, everybody's land.

The contrast between the _estanciero's_ personal refinement and the
English comfort of his family abode, and the primitive rusticity of
the surrounding country, suggests the inconsistencies of barbarism
undergoing the civilising process.

As I have already observed, the results obtained are due to a
progression of efforts in which the chief, even if assisted by an
overseer, necessarily plays a large part. For although it is easy
to dazzle the European with fantastic figures, without sacrificing
the truth, it is wise to remember that success is not automatic, and
that from the elements alone (to say nothing of locusts) serious
difficulties are to be expected. M. Basset, whose competence is beyond
question, told me that, having lost money in conducting experiments on
a large estate, he decided to sell the place. In the meantime land had
gone up in value, and he was able to recover himself on the sale of the
unworked plots. "I should have made a lot of money," he concluded, "if
I had not farmed any of my land." This shows that in the Argentine,
as elsewhere, there are risks to be run. The _estanciero_ takes these
risks, but if he were content to wait on chance to enhance the value of
his land, he would not contribute as largely as he does to the wealth
of the Rue de la Paix.

We are always being told that the word dearest to Creole indolence is
_mañana_ ("to-morrow"), but the exigencies of economic success tend
to modify customs. The Argentino, like the Yankee, is more and more
inclined to do over-night the work that might be put off to the morrow.
At all events, absenteeism is unknown on the _estancia_, for this
would spell ruin at short notice. It is true the _estanciero_ has the
reputation of mortgaging freely his estates, and, when a good harvest
makes it possible, of hastening to purchase more land so as to increase
his output. What can I say, unless that every economic error must be
paid for sooner or later, and that in spite of whatever may remain of
"Creole indolence," all are forced in the end to seek their profits in
an improvement of the system of cultivation?

_Grand seigneur_ I called him--a _grand seigneur_ on colonial soil,
where his dwelling is a rustic palace that is something between a
farmhouse and a mansion. Simple in structure, wood being the principal
element, it is built on the ground-floor, colonial fashion. The
comforts of English life are reflected in the large rooms, and both
furniture and the domestic arrangements are admirable. Large and rich
pieces of furniture belong to the days when difficulties of travelling
made a provision of the sort indispensable. Large bookcases, filled
with heavy volumes, denote a time before the coming of the railway to
scatter on the winds leaves from the Tree of Knowledge. Here is every
inducement for reflection--paintings, or, rather, pictures; massive
plate, goldsmiths' work won as prizes in cattle shows, whose medals
fill large frames, to say nothing of photographs of prize beasts. And,
better than all the rest, was the hospitality of other times. Now that
every one travels without ceasing, the ancient hospitality has lost
its savour. There still linger vestiges of it in those countries where
civilisation is not advanced enough to protect the traveller from
unpleasant contingencies. Let me hasten to add that amongst these one
need not count the risk of starvation in an _estancia_. No doubt the
abundance of cattle counts for something. In any case, the _estanciero_
is admirable in this respect. I wish I could give unstinted praise to
the _upchero_, the _asado_, of which I have already spoken. But I shall
not be able to do that until the Argentino has got out of the habit of
handing the meat to the cook while it is still warm, for this requires
a power of mastication which European debility denies to our jaws.

All kitchen-gardens are alike, and you cannot expect to find the
pleasure-gardens of an _estancia_ laid out by a Lenôtre. Even if that
miracle had been worked, what good would it be when the locusts had
passed over it? In one _estancia_, near Buenos Ayres, considered the
handsomest in the Argentine, which the kindness of its owner throws
open to any foreign visitor, I beheld a park of a thousand hectares,
where, amid the groves of tall trees, animals wander, giving the
illusion of wildness. The grey ostriches that are there imagine,
perhaps, that they are free. We admire some handsome bulls which are
stalled here. The eucalyptus, planted sometimes singly and sometimes in
broad avenues, towered above us at a height no other tree could rival.
In this favoured spot the rich vegetation has nothing to fear from the
locusts. Every species grows freely, as it will. For this reason, the
overseer, anxious we should miss none of the rare species on which he
prides himself, led us, with an air of mystery, to the edge of a low
hill, where, with an authoritative gesture, he stopped us before an
ordinary-looking tree, destitute of leaves, which had to me a familiar
air.

"Yes, it is an oak you are looking at. An old European oak in the
Argentine. What say you to that?"

I admit with prejudice that it is an oak, though at the same time
confessing that I have seen others more favourable. And at the risk of
being misunderstood, I acknowledge that it is not European flora that
most interests me in the Argentine Republic.

The special feature of this fine park is the quarter reserved for the
bulls. The specimens I saw, which were led past us, are magnificent
beasts, bearing witness to methodical and prolonged selection. The
best English breeds are gloriously represented, not only in the beasts
imported from Europe, but also in Argentine-bred animals, which would
do honour to any country.

The management and staff of the stables are entirely English. Stallions
of world-wide fame are paraded by English stud-grooms that we may
admire beauty of line united to beauty of action.

Now we were to see the trainers at work, not upon "wild" horses,
since they belong to bygone days, but simply upon young animals that
have not yet been ridden. As a matter of fact, the problem here is
exactly the same as with us, but I venture to think that our system
is vastly superior. The colts are collected in an enclosure called
the corral. Pray do not conjure up a picture of Mazeppa's steed, with
fiery eye and bristling mane, as depicted in the favourite chromo.
There is nothing here but ardour of youth and grace of movement. The
object is to accustom the horse to man and his needs. This our Norman
boys quickly achieve by a mixture of skill and kindness which does
not preclude firmness of hand. The system of the Argentine peon is
very different. First he catches the neck of the animal in a noose and
leads him out of the enclosure to a piece of rough ground. There, with
a few movements of the lasso, the limbs are so tied that the simplest
movement must make the unfortunate victim lose his balance and bring
him heavily to earth at the risk of breaking his bones. The creature is
terrified, naturally. Meantime, five or six men run in upon him--each
an expert in his own way; and when he is so bound he can no longer
move, the bit is adjusted and a sheepskin saddle adroitly buckled. All
that now remains is to set the animal on his feet so that the horseman
may mount. The rope is then relaxed as swiftly as it was tightened,
and the colt, on his four feet, firmly held by the head, his eyes
blindfolded, might perhaps get over his fright if his two forefeet
were not still tied together by a last knot to prevent him running
away. The peon gives the signal, and as the last loop is removed he
leaps into the saddle and urges his mount straight ahead with the air
of riding a savage brute and with a lavish use of his riding crop. Two
horsemen, called "sponsors," accompany him, rending the air with their
cries and beating the creature with pitiless crops. By the time he has
travelled two hundred yards in this way the horse is mad with terror,
and asks nothing better than to be allowed to stop. Perhaps there are
exceptions; I did not happen to see them. On the other hand, I did
see poor beasts that offered not the slightest resistance, and whose
angelic gentleness should have disarmed the executioner. It appears
that when this performance has been gone through five or six times the
colt surrenders unconditionally. In the days when horses were wild upon
the prairies these practices might have had some excuse. Nowadays we
have different ideas.

All these branches of work require, as may be supposed, a fairly
complete set of buildings. Consequently, around the farmer's house
there are outbuildings of every style of architecture which make the
_estancia_ a sort of small village, whence radiates the work undertaken
on the Pampas. Thus ordered and thus spent, life in the fields is a
"solitude" broken every moment by great herds and _gauchos_ ever on the
march. It has nothing to daunt even a man who is anxious not to lose
touch with his fellow-creatures in these days of extreme civilisation.
Therefore it is not surprising that a stay of some months at the
_estancia_ forms an agreeable part of the programme which the daily
life of the Argentine landholder forces on all his family. The railway
is never far off, since it brings colonists and is responsible for
the whole agricultural movement. Railway construction proceeds at the
normal rate of about five hundred kilometres per annum. The provinces
of Buenos Ayres, of Cordoba, of Santa Fé, which alone furnish eighty
per cent. of the agricultural exports, are naturally the most favoured;
and also, naturally, it is on the Pampas, the immense reservoir of
fertilising energy, that is concentrated the maximum of labour for the
extension of the means of communication that are so swiftly and richly
remunerative.

Thus it is not too difficult to move about in the _Campo_. Moreover,
the motor-car--running now on a road, now on the great green
carpet where movable gates provide a passage through the wire
fencing--facilitates a pleasant interchange of neighbourly relations.
I have said that absenteeism is unknown in the _estancia_. Often the
head of the family, when kept for some reason in the city, confides the
management of the estate to one of his sons, who in this way turns to
magnificent account the grand energy of youth and manhood in intensely
interesting work. What more natural than for the family to gather in
the fine summer months beneath the shade of the farms, amid its herds
so full of life, to enjoy the beauty of the harvest ripened with the
warm kisses of the sun? The rides are unending beneath the pure sky of
the long mornings, in the strengthening breeze which sets the blood
coursing through the pulses with renewed force. In Brazil I heard
people pity the Argentinos because they lacked the resource of the
mountains in the great heat of summer. The Andes are, indeed, too far
distant even with the railway that now crosses them. (The Transandine
line is now working between the Argentine and Chile--forty hours' run
from Buenos Ayres to Valparaiso or Santiago.) But the costly pleasures
of a sojourn at Mar del Plata are quickly exhausted. The _estancia_
offers a beautiful retreat of active and fruitful peace. There are
visits to the farmers who, little by little, are coming to reside on
the domain of the _estancia_ (purchasing the ground originally taken
on lease, and grouping themselves in such-wise that villages are
in process of formation), or the continual inspection of the herds
(_rodeo_).

Another occupation is watching over the harvest which spreads across
the Pampas. There are daily pretexts for trips that combine pleasure
with usefulness. The tall ricks grow in numbers, the grain falls to
the snorting measure of smoking engines, the lean native cattle of the
Pampas yield their place to monstrous Durhams, to Herefords, with their
handsome white heads, to Percherons, to Boulonnais, to Lincoln sheep,
with their heavy fleeces. It is by no means certain that the amusements
of Trouville or Vichy are superior to those of the _estancia_. We may
be allowed to think that the "gentleman-farmer" has chosen the better
part.

I have said nothing of game-shooting. We must admit that in this
respect the resources of the Pampas are greater than those of France.
Hares and partridges are on the programme, as they are with us. M.
Py told me he had tried to acclimatise the quail--in vain. Some
thousands of birds were let loose in a selected part of the Pampas and
disappeared for good. The history of the hare is very different. About
fifty years ago some Germans liberated a few couples at various points
of the Pampas, and the same animal which at home produces only one or
two young each year began to swarm like the rabbit. Several families
every year--and what families! The result, disastrous for farming, is
that from eighty to a hundred hares may be reckoned to every hectare,
and you cannot walk on the Pampas without perceiving a pair of long
ears that spring up out of the grass every moment. The flesh has a
poor reputation, perhaps for the reason that here they neglect that
elementary operation which follows immediately on the death of the
animal in our country. The partridge, smaller than ours, is a solitary
creature. Its flesh is white and rather insipid. The martinette
(_tinamou_), a sort of intermediary between the partridge and the
pheasant, is the best of the Pampas game. One may hunt it without
turning to right or to left--certain always of not returning with empty
hands. The favourite amusement is the _rabat_, or the "rope," and
shooting from the motor-car.

For the _rabat_ horsemen are needed. A dozen or two of peons ride off
at a gallop in no matter what direction, since the game is everywhere,
to meet at a point out of sight and return at the top of their speed
to the sportsmen. Then, long before you hear their shouts or see their
outlines on the horizon, there suddenly appears along the uncertain
line at which earth and sky meet a swarm of creatures which rush and
cross each other in every direction. Whether the mass is near or far
off it is impossible to say, since there are no objects to measure by.
If far, all these black spots on the luminous background may be horns.
To our inexperienced eye they give the illusion of a herd of oxen. Then
suddenly the truth becomes manifest. You have before you some hundreds
of hares, which will quickly be within gunshot. But the animal is sharp
to discern the danger, and, in less time than it takes to write it,
the troop that was heading in a mass straight for the line of fire
melts away until only the foolish ones at the back are left to continue
their course with the acquired momentum. In this way the carnage, which
promised to be terrible, resolves itself into ten or twelve more or
less lucky shots apiece. This is inevitable, since the wire fence which
effectually stops horses and cattle is powerless against running game.
The day when the destruction of the hare is decided upon, which is
certainly desirable, it will only be necessary to fence in three sides
of an enclosure and drive the game towards the opening. In the present
state of affairs the mere sight of three or four hundred hares running
straight towards the guns, even though they make a right-about turn
just in time, is an entertainment much appreciated by Europeans.

Shooting _à la corde_ has a different aspect. The mounted peons form up
to make a line of beaters a hundred yards apart. But, unlike our own
_battues_, the beater precedes the shooter, instead of walking towards
him. The reason is that every peon is attached to his comrade to right
and to left by a rope of twisted wires, which sweeps the ground and
puts up every living creature to the guns, which follow behind at the
pace of a horse's walk. The hare does not wait till the rope reaches
him. Often he gets away out of reach. But there is such an abundance of
game that none misses the animal that may escape. The important point
is for the peons to keep well in line, else huntsmen and horsemen are
likely to get a charge of lead. At the Eldorado, M. Villanueva's place,
this happened twice or three times in the same day. The partridge
(always flying singly) and the martinette are never weary of marking
time. They run before one without haste, and apparently determined not
to fly away.

It occasionally happens that a sportsman tires of his game and wants
to end it. Several times I left the line of guns and ran upon the
enemy, which, without any excitement, still kept its distance and never
gave its pursuer the satisfaction of seeing it even hasten its step.
You look around for a stone, a bit of wood, or a lump of earth, which
should have the effect of driving off the creature. On the Pampas is
neither pebble, nor stick, nor clod of earth. You have no resource but
to swear and make violent gestures that have no effect at all. The
martinette, too, has a way of glancing sideways at you which expresses
a profound contempt for the entire human race. All generous minds are
sensitive to rudeness and feel a just vexation when thus treated. The
rapid chase is the more painful that you have very soon before you
several martinettes and as many partridges which fly backwards and
forwards, leaving you in doubt at which to point your weapon, while,
at the same time, you know that in leaving the line of fire you expose
yourself to all the guns which may be tempted, by fur or feather, to
aim in your direction. There is only one way out of this critical
situation that I know of. It is to fling your cap at the running bird.
He will fly off then and keep his distance.

The victory would be yours afterwards were it not that the chase under
a sun that would seem hot even in summer has left you out of breath.
To take aim while struggling for breath is to risk missing the bird.
Happily, both partridge and martinette have a straight, low, and
heavy flight, which permits you to return to the _estancia_ without
dishonour. Such are the peripatetics of this amusing form of sport,
in which, all along the line, firing is incessant. The steady walk
of the guns is only checked by the rope getting caught occasionally
on some tuft of grass, or by an encounter, not at all rare, with the
carcass of horse or ox in process of decomposition. Having left on
his own initiative, he at least escapes from man's ferocity. You pass
without even having to hold your nose, so thoroughly does the strong,
purifying air of the Pampas carry away in its boundless currents every
germ that cannot be returned to the soil to perform the eternal labour
of fertilisation. On all sides the last vestiges of clean and fretted
bones tell us how lives now ended are taking on new forms of life, and
in the gentle murmur of the grass that bends to the breeze the huge
white skeletons that brave the blue of heaven have all the eloquence of
philosophy in their tale of the supreme defeat of living matter beneath
the irresistible triumph of fatality.

With no other break in the horizon but the distant _ombu_, a group of
_paraisos_, a ranch, or travelling herd, the murderous band pursues its
way. The walking is good, and the motor-car, which follows slowly in
the rear, is at hand to pick up the weary sportsman. But before that
point is reached one is tempted to cast off, little by little, articles
of clothing which rapidly become a burden under the sun's rays. A shirt
and trousers are already much. Even so, a rest becomes necessary, and
those who have any acquaintance with M. Villanueva will guess that
there was present a cart laden with refreshments. Halts like these, in
the precious shade of the car, are not without charm, if you have taken
the wise precaution to put on something warm. When the incidents of the
day have been thoroughly discussed the chase is resumed, but if you are
really done up do not imagine your fun is over. The auto will take
your place in the line of march behind the rope of peons, and, apart
from the game of running after martinettes, nothing is changed. The
endless prairie is so truly a billiard-table of turf that not a jolt
need be felt, and, after a few attempts, one gets the knack of firing
from the car with a good average of successful shots. The hare suffers
most; martinette and partridge get off more easily. It must be admitted
that the experienced chauffeur is a powerful auxiliary. In any case, if
you are shooting the less brilliant, the pleasure of sport in repose,
varied by all sorts of unforeseen circumstances, more than compensates
for the misses and lends a flavour to the sport that is lacking in
European shooting parties.

Better still--the day is slowly dying: soon the party will break up,
but the shooting will go on all the same. The silent peons come up to
say good-night. Dumbly, with courteous gestures, final greetings are
exchanged, and then the order is given to set the helm for Eldorado.
But there is still light enough to see by. So here we are zigzagging
across the Pampas in complicated turns and twists, as one spot
or another appears more favourable for game. And the slaughter is
terrific, for hares abound. Martinette and partridge, with their dark
plumage, have nothing to fear from us now. In the faint light of the
setting sun the hare makes still an admirable target, and plover and
falcon offer supplementary diversions. The gay little owl alone finds
grace with the guns. And when the "dark light" of the poet left us no
resource but to shoot at each other, pity or perhaps fear of the last
agony sufficed to make us hold our hand. The gentle horned beasts moved
out of our way, fixing on us their stupidly soft eyes, and leaving us
wholly remorseless, while in the freshening breeze and empty blackness
of sky and land we burst in upon the lights of hospitable Eldorado.

This simple tale of a day's sport in the Pampas has no other merit
than that of being strictly accurate. The Argentinos might very well
content themselves with the pleasures they have ready to their hand
at all seasons of the year, for in these regions, half-way between
barbarism and civilisation, the gamekeeper is unknown. But man can
never be content with what is offered to him. Therefore the wealthy
_estanciero_ takes infinite trouble to get thousands of pheasants
sent out to him from our coverts, so that he may breed them in his
preserves. In districts that are not menaced by the locusts the birds
will be let loose shortly in the woods, and the Argentine will then
pride herself on shooting such as that of Saint-Germain. It is because
of this approaching change that I have set down these impressions of a
day's sport in conditions which will soon belong to a vanished age.



CHAPTER X

ROSARIO AND TUCUMAN


The traveller with only a few weeks at his disposal in this immense
country of overflowing activity cannot pretend to make a very profound
and detailed study of it. I am here setting down only those things that
I saw, but, at the same time, I endeavour to show their significance,
and to give some idea of their social import, while leaving my readers
to judge for themselves. It is, of course, the subjective method, and
is full of pitfalls, but it is, also, useful inasmuch as it sheds much
light on the subject if used with discrimination. My friend Jules
Huret, who has been inspired to reveal to the criminally incurious
French public certain countries which they persistently ignore, takes
all the time he needs to collect a voluminous amount of material, which
he then proceeds to place before his readers in accordance with the
strictest canons of the objective method. We know how successful he
was with North America and Germany. He has marshalled before us so
orderly a procession of men and things, that to my mind he has defeated
his object, and left us no inducement to undertake the journey for
ourselves and to obtain first-hand impressions by the direct contact
which is worth all the books in the world. Huret is now publishing
in the _Figaro_ the result of a year's close study of the Argentine.
He has taught and will still teach me much, no doubt, and I strongly
recommend every one to read his admirable work. But in their way
I still venture to claim for my unpretentious notes the virtue of
creating in my readers a desire for further information, for the simple
reason that they will assuredly want to test my views in the light of
their own experience. Humanity, nowadays, is moving at high speed, and
the chief interest that most men attach to each day's events is the
opportunities they may afford for to-morrow's energy. But the real
value of the "event of the moment," to which the Press attributes more
and more importance, lies in the revelation it may bring of those
general laws that we must all understand. Hence the living appeal made
by cursory reflections, irrespective of what may be the verdict of the
future thereupon, since our "truths" of to-day can never be more than
successive eliminations of errors.

These generalities are intended to explain the spirit in which I
prepared to leave Buenos Ayres, and drew up an itinerary that was
necessarily curtailed by the limited time that remained to me. I had
been told: "At Cordoba you will find a city of monks; Mendoza affords
a charming picture of fine watercourses lined with poplars, vines
in profusion, and a remarkable equipment for the wine industry; at
Tucuman, there are fields of sugar-cane with dependent refineries and,
also, the beginnings of an extensive forest." With irrigation-works,
poplars, vines, monks even, I was already familiar: so without
hesitation I headed for Tucuman, with a brief halt at Rosario, the
second city of the Argentine Republic.

In its external aspect Rosario de Santa Fé differs but little from
Buenos Ayres. There is the same florid architecture, the same desire
to do things on a large scale, the same busy spirit, though naturally
on a smaller scale. Rosario exists by reason of its port, which
commands the Parana. The prodigious extension of the town is due to the
building of numerous railway lines, which have produced an enormous
development of agriculture in the provinces of Santa Fé, Cordoba, and
Santiago del Estero. The cereals grown in these provinces, representing
one half the total exported by the Argentine, are carried by these
railways, whilst the Parana furnishes a waterway several thousands of
kilometres in length for coasting vessels on the upper river and from
Paraguay as far as the mouth of the Rio. A volume might be written of
its docks, built by a French firm under the management of M. Flandrin,
a compatriot and native of my own Vendean village. There is a peculiar
charm about meetings of the sort. A journey of many days has brought
you to the unknown land, where, with the help of some imagination, any
strange event is possible. After sundry adventures, the curtain rises,
and the first face that meets your eye, the first voice you hear,
belong to your native place. Names, scenes, and memories rush in upon
the mind with a train of unexpected impressions and emotions.

To think I had come all this way to be confronted with that special
spot of earth to which through all travels and all life's changes we
remain so firmly bound! Far away in the distant Brazilian mountains, I
met a charming Vendean woman, whose tongue had kept that accent of the
_langue d'oil_ which belonged to Rabelais. When Sancho, from the height
of his waggon, beheld the earth no larger than a grain of millet, his
sense of proportion was truer than ours. Only, instead of being so many
hazel-nuts upon the millet, as Sancho thought, men are, in reality,
merely imperceptible particles in a restricted space, bound to collide
at the least movement.

My philosophy did not prevent my feeling great pleasure at meeting M.
Flandrin, who is as unpretentious as he is kind, and who is a credit
to his native land. We made a tour of inspection of the docks, and the
inevitable trip by boat round the harbour. All I can say of the port
thus hastily seen and already described in many technical publications
is that, in spite of tremendous natural difficulties, it has been
satisfactorily accomplished, thanks to the tenacity of the engineers
and the admirable method adopted.[29] Moored alongside the quays were a
number of English and German cargo-boats (amongst which, I saw but one
French, alas!) taking in grain at the rate of 800 tons per hour. The
docks were begun in 1902. They were designed to cope with an average
tonnage of 2,500,000, and it was at that time believed impossible to
attain that figure before some thirty years at least. By 1909, however,
it had been reached and passed, and a contract for their enlargement
was immediately given to a French firm. Under these conditions, it is
easy to understand how a town numbering 23,000 inhabitants in 1869
should, in 1910, contain nearly 200,000. This, also, explains a rivalry
that exists between the second city of the Republic and Santa Fé, the
historic capital of the province. Rosario complains, with some show
of reason, that the enormous fiscal contribution paid by her to the
national exchequer does not procure for her the advantages to which
her population entitles her. The deplorable deficiency of schools in
Rosario is more especially a subject of loud recrimination. I cannot
but think that this claim will be before long admitted. As for the
æsthetic future of the city, I can say nothing. When I saw it, it was
disfigured in every direction by extensive road-making operations,
thanks to which there will, in all probability, be open spaces enough,
one day, to arouse the admiration of visitors. An excellent and modern
hotel seems a good augury for the future. As usual, the welcome I
received far exceeded anything I could have expected. But the municipal
improvements scheme had occasioned a fever of speculation in land
values, and the one subject of conversation was the fabulous fortunes
to be realised in this way--so much so, indeed, that I was strongly
tempted to spend a few _sous_ on a plot of land which by now or a
little later perhaps might be worth a hundred millions.

If Rosario has made a fortune out of the incredible increase of
its corn harvests, it must not be supposed that cattle-rearing is
neglected in the province of Santa Fé. By a fortunate coincidence, I
arrived on the day of the opening of the great annual Cattle Show.
The President of the Agricultural Society happens to be one of the
most distinguished politicians, not only of the province but of the
Republic, and, by his kindness, I was able to glean much information
on general topics, and, at the same time, inspect some samples of
agricultural produce that would not have been out of place in the
first of our European shows. The surrounding provinces, including
that of Buenos Ayres, had sent up some of their finest specimens of
horses and horned cattle. As usual, there was a superabundance of
British breeds to be seen; but our Norman horses were well represented,
too. To tell the truth, the dual capacity of my guide, who was no
less eminent as statesman than as cattle-breeder, caused politics to
somewhat overshadow agriculture in our talk, and I found out that Señor
Lisenadro de la Torre was the leader of a party that is aiming at the
overthrow of the Cabinet now in power, whose majority, he informed
me, was based on those very administrative abuses that I had already
noted. The tendency is to use and even abuse authority to coerce the
electors, who are unorganised for the defence of the public interests
against private ambitions,[30] "an evil that spreads terror," as may
truly be said, and one of which Rosario does not hold a monopoly. On
this theme the clear-headed politician, with his concise manner of
speech and decided tones, gave me a rapid sketch of the situation by a
brief examination of the enemy's country. And I rejoiced to see that
abuses common, more or less, in all old countries, and whose remedy
lies only in private endeavour, have in this new community of the
Argentine provoked the same keen intelligence and determination as
others which I noted. Under whatever form of government, the worth of
a country lies in its men--that is, in its sum total of disinterested
activity. A race that can show the development of intelligence and
character that have so struck me in the course of this journey can
afford to await with tranquil courage the solutions of the future.

As it is my desire to leave no dark corners unexplored, I must make a
reference to the strange hints of revolution that I heard at Rosario
and, later, at Tucuman. "A certain military leader would be displeased
if full satisfaction were not given him. There was every reason to fear
a movement. Dispatches from the Government recommended a careful guard
over rifle magazines," etc. I was, however, pretty soon convinced that
all these rumours were but the expiring echo of a bygone condition with
very little foundation in actual fact.

Here in Rosario we are not far removed from the life of Buenos Ayres.
To-day the distance from one city to the other (300 kilometres) can be
covered in five hours. The last part of the journey, which terminates
at Tucuman (1100 kilometres from the capital), gives us the impression
of a complete change of country. At daybreak, in full sunshine, the
first discovery I made was that we were travelling through a cloud
of dust that entirely concealed the landscape. With a kindness for
which I can never be sufficiently grateful the President of the
Republic, Señor Figueroa Alcorta, had lent me his own coach for the
journey. I slept in an excellent bed, with windows carefully closed
and blinds drawn. But the Argentine dust knows no obstacles. For this
reason the prophecy in the Book that we shall all return to dust
seems to me already fulfilled. My beautiful bedroom, my luxurious
dressing-room, with its welcome douche, my clothes, my luggage, and
my person, all were wrapped in a thick veil of fine red dust, ugly in
appearance and dangerous to respiration. Yes, while I was sleeping
in all confidence, the imperious dust had taken possession of train,
passengers, and all that was visible to their dust-filled eyes. The
stations: merely a stack of red dust; man: a vermilion-coloured walking
pillar; the horseman, or vehicle: a whirlwind of dust. Horror! to my
wrath a beautiful white shirt was discovered blushing rosy as a young
girl surprised. I washed with red soap and dried with red towels my
carmine-coloured face. Here is the explanation of the complexion of the
Indian!

Tucuman is in sight--Tucuman, the land of Cacombo, the faithful servant
of Candide. None can have forgotten that the Governor of Buenos Ayres,
moved by the beauty of the lovely Cunégonde, was on the point of
despatching Candide when he was saved by Cacombo. But what follows
marks the difference between Candide's times and our own, for Candide
and Cacombo in their flight paused in "a beautiful meadow traversed by
streams of water," where befell the double adventure of the monkeys
and the mumps, whereas for us meadow, rivulets, monkeys, and mumps all
resolve themselves into universal dust. I strain my eyes to discern
some features of the country: a dismantled forest is dying in the dust;
some lean cattle are grazing, on clay apparently; enormous cactuses,
like trees; flocks of small white birds with pink beaks, known as
"widows" (_viudas_); and, from time to time, the beauty of a flight
of cackling parrots, making in the sunlight flashes of emerald in the
dusty air.

The _Marseillaise_! the Tricolor! the Governor, the French
colony!--this is Tucuman's reception of me. Handshakes, salutes,
welcoming words with affectionate references to the distant
fatherland. An admirable official motor-car, but execrable roads where
the best of _pneus_ finds so many obstacles to jump that it becomes
quite dizzy, as is shown by its continued stagger.

The first impression given by Tucuman after the jolting and shaking
of the road is that of a colonial land. Everywhere the "half-house,"
hastily put up, but rendered charming by its _patio_, and comfortable
by the disposition of its rooms to take advantage of the shade. The
Indian half-caste is king in Tucuman, "the Garden of the Republic,"
whose women, they say, are more beautiful than flowers. Everywhere, in
fact, one sees bronzed faces in which two impassive black eyes shine
with the brilliance of the diamond. A long, lingering glance which
says, I know not what, but something that is totally un-European.
Simplicity, dignity, with few words, slow gestures, an imposing harmony
of bearing. I know not whether one day the dominant race will succeed
in modifying or effacing the native traits. At present, nothing seems
to touch the indelible imprint of American blood. A few of the women
are very handsome. The French colony in Tucuman is larger than I
thought. I shall see it when I return from Santa Ana, where I am going
to visit M. Hilleret's manor. As we pass, I notice broad avenues well
laid out: the Place de l'Indépendance, on which there stands the
statue of General Belgrano, in remembrance of the battle of Tucuman
(1812), and the new palace of the Governor, which is impressive.
From sixty to eighty thousand inhabitants. The town very commercial.
The country broken, with high mountains. Fertile plain suitable for
growing sugar-cane, tobacco, oranges, and the most beautiful flowers.
Large and noble forests that are being ruthlessly devastated to supply
fuel for factory furnaces. Uninterrupted cane-raising all the way to
Santa Ana, where M. Hilleret, who came to the Argentine as a labourer
on the railway, set up a sugar factory,[31] thanks to which--and to
Protection--he was able, at his death, to leave a fortune of a hundred
millions. We were magnificently received in a hospitable mansion that
betrayed the taste of a Parisian architect.[32] A park and garden
bearing traces of a recent attack from locusts. Specially beautiful
were the tufts of bamboo, and the false cotton plants with their big
balls of white down, amid which a tiny grey dove cooed softly like a
wailing child.

What can I say of the factory that has not already been said? It
is admirably managed. The cane is automatically flung on a slope
down which it drops beneath heavy rollers. Two thousand workmen are
employed, half-castes for the most part--a few are pure Indians,--and
a small number of French foremen. There is a picturesque scene in
the town of a morning, when troops of women, old and young, followed
by a procession of children, come to market and fill their wooden or
earthenware bowls with provisions, balancing them on their heads; their
parti-coloured rags, gaily patched, add a piquant touch to the faces,
whose firm lines seem set in bronze, all vitality and expression being
concentrated in the dark fire of their eyes. The workmen's quarters
are indescribable slums. On both sides of a wide avenue there are rows
of tiny low houses from which the most rudimentary notions of hygiene
or of comfort are, apparently, carefully banished--dens rather than
dwellings, to speak accurately, so destitute are they of furniture.
Women and old men sit immovable in the dust, the _bombilla_ between
their lips, in an ecstasy of _maté_. Children moving about on all
fours are scarcely distinguishable from the little pigs which are
grubbing in the rubbish-heaps. Ineffable smells issue from boiling
cauldrons and stewpans, whilst in the darkness of the doorway the
nobly draped figure of the guardian of the hearth stands, speechless
and motionless, surveying the scene. According to European ideas,
these folk are wretched indeed. Yet the climate renders existence easy
and they appear to find quiet pleasure in it. We may be permitted to
imagine for them a happier future and higher stage of civilisation,
which they will achieve when they draw a larger share of remuneration
from the monument of labour their hands have helped to put up. Laws
for the protection of labour are unknown in the Argentine, which is
explained by the backwardness of industry there. Although life beneath
this beautiful sky must undoubtedly offer many conveniences, and
although the mill-owners whom I met seemed to me both humanely and
generously inclined, factories such as those I visited can scarcely
exist much longer without the labour question being brought before
the legislators. Members of Parliament with whom I discussed the
point appeared favourably disposed, though inclined to defer remedies
indefinitely.

The fields of sugar-cane can be visited without fatigue by train. We
passed teams of six or nine mules--up to their knees in dust--on their
way to the factory with loads of cane grown at a distance from the
railway. The drivers, sitting postilion-wise on their leaders, raised
their whips with threatening cries that made the lash unnecessary.
But who could have imagined that it took so much dust to manufacture
sugar! Out in the fields the peons, armed with the long knife that is
always stuck in the back of their belts, cut the cane and with two
dexterous turns of the blade divide it into lengths for the presses,
leaving the foliage and part of the stalk for the cattle. At the
wayside station there were five or six dilapidated cabins, in which
the numerous progeny of the cane-cutters seemed to be thriving. In
appearance they formed a temporary encampment, nothing more. The huts
are made out of odds and ends picked up at haphazard, and follow a
simple principle of architecture which requires a space of some twenty
or thirty centimetres between the floor and the palisade--for it can
scarcely be called a wall--to insure a circulation of air. Thus, one
could, at a pinch, sleep in the place without arousing the smallest
envy in the four-footed beasts that are happily slumbering under the
starry heavens. Children, pigs, and donkeys live together in friendly
promiscuity. Women, bearing in their arms their latest-born, appear on
their threshold dumbfounded, apparently, at the sight of strangers.
In my own language, I ask one of them for permission to glance at the
interior of her hut. She stands aside, and I look in, not venturing
more than a single step. The only attempt at furniture is planks
laid across trestles, with rags of clothing (incredibly dirty) doing
duty for mattress or blanket. A movable stove adapted to open-air
cooking, and four stakes in the earth, on which are laid bits of
anything that comes handy, with tree trunks for seats--this constitutes
a rough-and-ready dining-room. Scattered about on the ground are
different utensils for the use of man and beast. Then a commotion. A
naked baby, who is sucking a sugar-cane, suddenly sees its treasure
carried off by a lively little black pig. A fight and loud screams.
Biped and quadruped come to blows, and the effect of excitement on
the dormant functions of infant life is such that it is the child
who succeeds in worsting the pig. The latter noisily protests. Then,
there being no such thing as Justice on earth, it is the child who is
carried off and set on the heap of rags whose odorous dampness will at
nightfall soothe its sleep.

M. Edmond Hilleret, the eldest son of the founder of the factory
of Santa Ana, had invited us to a tapir-hunt. To camp out in the
forest for three days did not in the least daunt us, but a member
of the Society for the Protection of Animals having urged upon me
the shamefulness of letting dogs loose upon so inoffensive a beast,
and Providence, with the same intention probably, having smitten our
hunter-in-chief with appendicitis, followed by an operation, our
shooting was directed humbly against the parrots. I speak for my
companions; as for my own part, I announced the most pacific intentions
towards the birds of the forest.

Peons on horseback and light carts start off in an ocean of dust.
The only way is to get in front of the procession and leave to your
friends the duty of swallowing your dust. As a lack of altruism on the
part of my comrades had inflicted this experience on me as we went, I
took care to return the compliment on the way back. The forest, which
belongs to the factory, is generally denominated "virgin" for the sake
of effect. But my regard for truth compels me to state that it was not
even _demi-vierge_, for there are herds grazing in the clearings, peons
keeping watch, and woodcutters and colonists unceasingly busy dragging
away its veils with a brutality that is never slaked. Such as it is,
however, with its inextricable wildnesses, through which only the axe
can clear a way, with its tall, flowering groves, its ancient trees
covered with a luxuriant parasite growth that flings downwards to earth
and upwards to heaven its showers of lovely colour, it is marvellously
beautiful. The wonder of it is this haze of parasites, so varied in
species, in colour, and in growth, with their invincible determination
to live at all costs, which wrap the giant tree from root to highest
twig in a monstrous profusion of new forms of life. The dead branch
on which we trample has preserved, even in decomposition, the frail
yet tenacious creeper whose blossoms had crowned it high aloft. The
tree is no longer a tree: it is a Laocoön twisted in a fury of rage
beneath the onslaught of an ocean of lives whose torrents recognise
no barriers. Whichever way one looks, hairy monsters are agonising
in despairing contortions, victims of a drama of dumb violence; and
the spectacle conveys a keen realisation of the eternal struggle for
life that is going on all around us, from the summits of these verdant
heights to the subterranean depths whence issues this living force.
And, as episodes in the universal tragedy, the brilliant colouring
of lovely birds lights up the gloomy enchantment of the silent tumult
of anguished lives whose effort after mastery can only end in death.
Having not yet learnt to know man's baseness, the royal magpies of
Paraguay, with their startling plumage, pause on the branches close
beside our path to gaze on us in, perhaps, the same astonishment as we
on them. But already in the great clearing shots resound, betokening
the salute of the first arrivals to the denizens of the forest. Now, my
parrot friends, make for the fields as fast as you can, out of reach of
the horde of enemies!

But it is precisely these clearings that the parrot loves, for here
he, like us, can satisfy his appetite. When his tribe descends upon an
orchard, good-bye to the fruit harvest. We were in a vast clearing,
inhabited by a small colony of farmers, whose huts are built along a
rivulet on the slope of a meadow. Here are fields of maize covered
with dead stalks. The cattle wander freely where they will. In an
orchard stands an orange-tree, the tallest I have seen, full of golden
balls. Hard by a well, on a wooden post, there sits a green parrot,
with red poll, his plumage ruffled, his eye full of contempt for the
human race. Attracted by the noise, two women come out from a dark hut.
Gossips probably, though what they can find to talk about in such a
spot it would be hard to guess. One of them attracts attention by the
beauty of her form, the nobility of her pose, and the warm, coppery
tint of her face. She is a Creole equally removed from the two races.
Her thick hair, intensely black, falls in a plait upon her shoulders.
Instinctively she has twisted pink ribbon--found, probably, in a box
of biscuits--in her hair, where it makes a line of light in the night
of her tresses. Erect in the simplicity of the semi-savage, without a
word, without the least acknowledgment of our presence, and without
a trace of embarrassment or affectation, she stands looking at us,
desiring, apparently, no better occupation. Her features are regular
and delicate, according to the canons of European æsthetics. Two or
three pock-marks make a startling patch. All the soul of the native
race is visible in the dark light of her eyes, heavy with feelings that
belong to an epoch too primitive to be comprehended, even dimly, by
our aged and vulgar civilisation. That surprising pink ribbon and the
shyness--like remorse for some unknown crime--expressed through the
ingenuous and compelling eyes, are probably the secret of her charm.
Whatever it springs from, the effect is the same. Whether girl or woman
it would be hard to tell. This uncertainty often gives its brilliance
to feminine power.

I tear myself from contemplation of the lady and wander into the forest
in the wake of the chattering birds, carrying with me, by way of
viaticum, an orange whose freshness and perfume have left me a souvenir
no less delicious than that of the charm of the young beauty. I was
slowly returning to the glaring sunshine of the clearing, absorbed in
admiration of a flight of bright-plumaged parrots, when a vexatious
gunshot brought me back to the realities of our sinful race. One of
our party had concealed himself among the brushwood at the foot of
the tree in which the birds were holding their parliament. The danger
of the institution was instantly apparent, for five birds fell to
the murderous lead. I still hold with parliaments, however, and with
parrots which debate in the branches. I know not what they find to
talk about, but, judged by the criterion of noise adopted at home, it
must be of great importance. When we teach them to speak our language,
I am aware they utter the words but attach no meaning to them. I have
known humans to do the same without the birds' excuse. Moreover, a very
remarkable trait in the parrot's character is that he is altruistic
in the last degree, and will face any danger to assist a friend in
distress by voice and gesture. When one is wounded, the rest, who have
at first flown off in alarm, return with loud cries to the scene,
abusing the sportsman and calling on deaf gods for justice. If further
volleys make fresh victims, the flock will not give up its work of
pity, thus exposing themselves to further slaughter.

All this is to explain how it was that, on my return to the place I
started from, I saw on the ground a beautiful green parrot with a
crimson head, lying now in the stillness of death, while two or three
of his friends limped and fluttered round him, hurling maledictions at
the human race. I fear they all figured later on the supper-table of
the colony. The young woman with the pink ribbon, for whom the scene
probably offered nothing new, stood and gazed at us as if we were the
curiosity of the moment. One of the wounded birds had climbed a stump
beside her, and, without any preliminaries, had nestled up against her
like a child. The woman took no notice. Her questioning eyes seemed
to be seeking forms in which to clothe her thoughts, but her tongue
could give no assistance. I, too, would have liked to speak to her, to
learn something of her story, of her notions about the world, and the
ideas that influenced her actions. But I knew of no signs in which to
clothe such questions, and not a word of either Spanish or _Guarani_
(the name of a small tribe now applied to the relics of their language,
which is that of the natives). With a rhythmic walk she returned to her
hut, emerging once more to join our circle, with a tiny grey parrot
perched on her shoulder, by way, perhaps, of a conversational opening.
The bird, fluttering its wings, stepped down as far as her fingers,
which were slim and coloured as though with henna, and I ventured to
tease him. The long, red hand came slowly forward, accompanying the
movements of the bird, without a shadow of a smile on her impassive
face; and so, the time for our departure having come, we parted for
ever with all our questions unasked.

On the following day we drove to the _Salto_, another clearing in the
forest, enlivened by a waterfall. We fired at some hawks that we took
for eagles. Large blue birds flew mocking above our heads, and our
hunters ended by shooting at imaginary fish. They thought a walk in the
forest absurd, so whilst I and two comrades ventured a little way, they
chose the most natural occupation in the world for men who have come
from the ends of the earth to see an almost virgin forest, and made up
a game of poker. Oh, the joys of modern travelling, undreamed of by the
early explorers!

Meantime, I wandered straight before me through the woods, at the risk
of losing my way. Once I thought I was going to know the pleasures,
which are not unmixed, of being hopelessly lost. Already I saw myself
reduced to the necessity of hunting for an _ornero's_ nest, the opening
of which is always in the north side; but one of the party pointed out
a line of bluish-grey lichen on every tree-trunk, which indicated
clearly, without the help of the birds, from which direction blows the
north--naturally the warm--wind. Finally, by way of putting a finishing
touch to my education, he assumed that I was thirsty, and leading me to
a creeper growing parasitically on a large branch at the height of a
man above the ground, he dexterously inserted his knife into the joint
of the leaves, and there burst forth a jet of water slightly aromatic
in taste, like the fine juice of some grass. The traveller's sherbet!
A few minutes later we came upon a peon mounted on his mule, who, more
surely than either bird or lichen, set us on the right path.

The first sugar factory founded by M. Hilleret was at Lulès. There we
found a fine forest, wilder still than that of Santa Ana, with gorgeous
great trees bearing bouquets of flowers, some white, some pale violet,
and some pink. Fine gardens, and a park where, under the management
of a French gardener, every fruit-tree of the subtropical zone may be
found, from the banana and coffee-plant to the mango and _chirimaya_,
beside a thousand other strangely named growths better calculated
to surprise the eyes than charm the palate. Of an evening there was
dancing in the garden. Though national in character, dancing here is
much what it is elsewhere, since there is but one way to move the arms
and legs. The most striking part of the picture was the attitude of
the dancers when resting. In our countries these assemblies of young
people would have been the excuse for jokes and laughter, often,
probably, carried to a riotous excess. Here the immovable gravity of
the native does not lend itself to merriment. Young men and young
women exchange, now and then, a few words uttered in a low voice with
the utmost composure. On the invitation of her partner, the young
girl rises in exactly the same way that she would move to perform
some household duty, and goes through the rites of the dance with its
rhythmic measures without the vestige of a smile or a ripple of gaiety
on her expressionless face. It is not, however, for lack of enjoyment,
for no opportunity is missed of dancing, and the balls are prolonged
indefinitely into the night. We must only see in this deportment a
conception of dignity and of conduct that is not our own.

On my return to Tucuman a great reception was given by the French
colony in my honour. I went to call--as, indeed, it behoved me--at the
House of Independence, more modest but no less glorious than that of
Philadelphia. It was here that the first national Congress was held,
and here that the Oath of Independence was taken (July 9, 1816). In
order to preserve the humble house, now an object of public veneration,
it has been built into a large edifice, which will preserve it from
decay in the future. There is no decoration--some commemorative tablets
only--but it is enough. When the heart responds readily to the call of
duty, an unobtrusive reminder is all that is necessary.

I was infinitely touched by the grandiose reception given me by
the French colony. In a fine theatre, which is their own property,
the Frenchmen of Tucuman extended the warmest of welcomes to their
fellow-countryman. I found a surprise in store for me. It was arranged
that I should lay the foundation-stone of the new French school of
Tucuman, and, if I am to believe the inscription on the silver trowel
that remains in my possession, given me for the purpose of spreading
the cement, the school will bear the name of him who was thus its first
mason. This honour, which is wholly unmerited, sprang, of course, from
the natural longing to attach themselves in any way to France. Not
a word was spoken that was not an invocation of our country, of its
fight against ignorance, source of all human woes. There was a numerous
and fashionable company present, whose large befeathered hats proved
that Tucuman is not so very far from Paris after all. The ceremony
was concluded by a pretty march-past of small boys and girls carrying
the Argentine and French flags, and singing the national hymn, the
_Marseillaise_. The little people put a world of spirit into their
song. One little girl, about two feet high and gaily beribboned, was
very determined to vanquish "tyranny." How congratulate her? I tried to
express the very sincere pleasure the scene had given me, and remarked
that these little Argentine tongues had a slightly Argentine accent in
the _Marseillaise_.

"That is not surprising," said their proud master. "They do not know a
word of French."

Then what about that charming baby's loudly expressed hatred of
tyranny? It is true the significance of the hymn lies rather in the
music than in its phraseology, now a century old. Children, begin by
learning French, and do not wait for the opening of the school whose
first stone I have just laid. All things shall be added unto you.

FOOTNOTES:

[29] To give an idea of the capacity of the port: there are 5
kilometres of quays and 81 kilometres of railroad to serve the docks.
The large elevator measures 3000 cubic metres. It can handle 50 tons
from the Parana and 500 tons from the railway per hour.

[30] Speaking of a recent election, a well-known leader in the province
of Buenos Ayres said: "I have been reproached with spending money. I
silenced my enemies by asking them what other means of action they had
left me." Making due allowance for exaggeration natural enough in the
circumstances, the words contain a hint that may be usefully retained.

[31] The sugar industry in the Argentine is but fifty years old. There
are 70,000 hectares now under cane, with 31 refineries, the majority of
which are in Tucuman. The total output is estimated at 130,000 tons.

[32] Was it not surprising to find in the hall of a Tucuman house casts
of some of the best busts of the Louvre and Comédie Française?



CHAPTER XI

URUGUAY AND URUGUAYANS


Montevideo, at first sight, had given me so favourable an impression
that I was anxious not to lose an opportunity of seeing more of it.
But I had begun with the Argentine, and in such a country the more you
see the more you want to see. I tore myself away from it with great
regret, conscious that I was leaving much undone. Time had passed all
too quickly. I had now only three weeks left for Brazil, where long
months ought, rather, to be spent. Small as it is, Uruguay is for many
reasons one of the most interesting of the South American republics.
How far could a few days be made to go there? In its general features
the country is not very different from the Argentine Pampas. There
are the same alluvial soil, the same _estancias_, the same system of
agriculture and cattle rearing. For me the principal interest lay
in the Uruguay character. Three visits of one day each furnished me
with an occasion to converse with some of their most distinguished
statesmen, but is this sufficient ground on which to form an opinion
of a race whose superabundant activity is directed towards every
department of knowledge, as of labour, now the first essential in any
civilisation? I do not pretend that it is. Still, I consider that even
a brief investigation, if perfectly disinterested and unprejudiced,
can and should furnish elements of sound information that are not to
be despised. But perhaps I shall be excused if, instead of making
affirmations that are open to challenge, I give myself the pleasure of
dwelling on the splendid qualities of these courageous and modest men
who are engaged in building up a social structure that is worthy of all
our admiration.

Uruguay, once the "Oriental Band" of the Argentine, lies between
that Republic and Brazil, forming thus a buffer State which, in the
event of war between Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Ayres (which the gods
forfend!), would make it somewhat difficult for the two hostile
armies to get at each other. If for this reason alone, I am disposed
to think the constitution of an independent State between the River
Uruguay and the sea a very wise provision. I am aware, however, that
peace between the Argentine, Brazil, and Chile is the accepted maxim
of South American foreign policy; and it is very sound doctrine, the
triple hegemony offering a fairly solid guarantee against usurpation
by one. Notwithstanding its diminutive size, as compared with its
gigantic neighbours, Uruguay appears well fitted morally to fulfil the
conditions of an independent State. There is a marked development of
national spirit among its population, whose most striking feature is a
mental activity that is sometimes carried to excess. Brazil has laid
out immense sums of money in the purchase of _Dreadnoughts_ (not always
perfect), and the Argentine felt, consequently, in duty bound to burden
herself also with some of these sea monsters. Against whom are the
Argentine and Brazil thus arming? They would both find it hard to say,
since they have plenty to do at home without directing their creative
energy in European fashion to the business of destruction, unless
absolutely forced thereto. Let me tell them that it is but vain bravado
that has urged them on the dangerous, downward path of armament. Where
will they stop? When you have a population as large in proportion as
that of the United States, it will be time enough, alas! to claim your
share in the great international concert of extermination. Begin by
giving life, oh, happy folk, who have been robbed by none and who have
nothing to recover!

I have already spoken of the appearance of Montevideo. A broad
bay, commanding the entrance of the Rio de la Plata, magnificently
situated for a commercial port, the Government has not overlooked its
advantages. In 1901 tenders were invited, and a French syndicate was
granted the contract for the construction of the docks. There are
important quarries in all parts of Uruguay, which is more favoured
than the Argentine in this respect; and the builders found all the
stone they needed close to hand. The colossal work is now nearly
ended. In 1909 two of our armoured cruisers, the _Gloire_ and the
_Marseillaise_, visited the port of Montevideo. The comfortable boats
of the Mihanowitch Company, which run daily between Buenos Ayres and
Montevideo, moor alongside the quays. Why the large European vessels
should be forced to remain outside in the roads is a puzzle; the only
explanation seems to be a quarrel between the different governing
bodies, to which, I trust, the Uruguay Government will speedily put an
end. As things are, the building of the docks is but a sorry farce,
and the more regrettable because one of the features of the handsome
harbour is a simplification of the harbour dues, which entails the
least delay on the vessels calling there.[33] M. Sillard, who has been
in charge of the works from the beginning, took us to various places
on the bay; and, in his motor-car, we climbed half-way up the famous
Cerro, so that we might have the pleasure of walking a short distance
over a road now under construction, which was spoilt for us by the
disagreeable _saladeros_.[34] If I may say so without hurting the
feelings of my friends, the Cerro fort is not, I believe, impregnable.
Its demolition has, it is said, been decided upon. If an hotel or
casino were built on its site, the Montevideans would have a pleasant
object for excursion, for from the top of the hill there is a grand
view over the town and estuary to the ocean and the River Uruguay.

The Lieutenant of the city--an American of European education, with
five years spent in the Diplomatic Service at Rome behind him--kindly
offered to do the honours of the town for us. Under the guidance
of M. Daniel Muñoz,[35] who is as well known at Buenos Ayres as at
Montevideo, we saw every part of his domain, from the business quarter
to the luxurious suburban villas, the well-planted public squares, and
large parks that are growing rapidly, to say nothing of a handsome
promenade along the sea-front, and the unpleasant smelling _saladeros_
of some of the environs.

A short halt at the Prefect's private house gave us an opportunity of
judging of the comfort and luxury of the big Montevidean dwellings.
As for the city itself, there is little to remark beyond the curious
contrast offered by the tall, handsome, modern buildings and the
singular little "colonial houses" so popular in Montevideo, which look
as if some sprite had cut them off short at the first story for the fun
of whisking the rest out of sight. As the town of Montevideo can boast,
and must obviously preserve, the aspects of the capital city, these
over-ornamented "half-houses" and the clumps of green trees scattered
everywhere lend it a youthful charm which I hope it will not soon lose.
As a matter of fact, these houses are charming in effect--in the eyes,
at least, of those who do not walk about with their heads too high in
the air--a pose that is not to be recommended. They not only constitute
a very agreeable _façade_, taken all together, but their _patio_ is
so designed as to be admirably adapted to the special needs of the
climate. If I were going to live in Montevideo, it would certainly
be in one of these little houses. They have another virtue also,
since they illustrate the necessity of experiment in building before
one is committed to the settled plan. If the Town Council insists on
constructing houses of several stories in some of the avenues, the
measure may have its justification in the interest of the æsthetic
and the useful. But before they trouble about the effect which their
streets may produce as photographs, the Montevideans will, I hope,
devote attention to comfort. Let the town spread freely, since there
is plenty of space available. Is it not the curse of all our large
European cities to be cramped and confined? New York, between two arms
of the sea, has been obliged to invent its hideous "skyscrapers." One
must encourage expansion to get all the air and light necessary to
health. The population of Montevideo must be nearly a million now.[36]
It has many a fine beach on its coast. A rich vegetation exists in all
parts. Let no childish vanity induce it to attempt too soon to vie
with Europe! Its friends can wish it nothing better.

I have said nothing of the public buildings, because they are
everywhere the same, except, perhaps, in those European countries
where the masses have taken possession of the palaces of their former
masters. To me they were less interesting than their inmates--that is,
the members of the Government. Of the three Presidents who did me the
honour to receive me in the course of my journey, each has now, in
the normal course of events, yielded his place to a successor. Señor
Williman, who left the presidential chair on the 1st of March, had the
keenest possible sense of his responsibility to his country. He was the
son of an Americanised Alsatian, and seems to have imported into his
exercise of authority that valuable quality of well-reasoned idealism
which has made his race one of the most precious constituent parts of
the French nation. It must not be forgotten that an American President
is first and foremost a man of action, exactly the reverse of the chief
of the State in our European democracies; and a turbulent Opposition,
ever ready to rush to extremes, makes the task of government every day
more difficult. Señor Williman gave me the impression of being somewhat
reserved, but the genuinely democratic simplicity of his welcome and
the slow gravity of his speech betokened a man whose convictions would
be deliberate but profound. We touched on the political questions now
engrossing Europe, and I found he had long been familiar with all the
problems that are keeping us so busy.

It is not easy for me to give a personal opinion about the
parliamentary world. The Senate organised a friendly reception in my
honour at which we exchanged cordial toasts. But what can a Frenchman
do when he knows not a word of Spanish, unless his Spanish hosts
can speak French? There were only two or three members of Senate or
Chamber with whom I could talk. Smiles and gestures of good-will, as
we clinked our glasses of champagne, were all that was left to us. The
eyes asked questions that could be but imperfectly answered. Amongst
graver politicians were many young men eager for reforms. One of the
"youngsters"--in this fortunate land even the senators are scarcely
out of their teens--observed to me, with gently emphasised irony, that
Uruguay had travelled farther along the road marked out by the French
Revolution than our own present Republic.

"The pain of death has been abolished in Uruguay. It has been retained
by the Argentine and...."

"And in France, I acknowledge. We are, moreover, confronted with a
strong retrogressive movement in favour of the right of society to take
life."

"We have divorce by mutual consent. The Argentine has nothing even
approaching it. The question of divorce has been raised there. The
influence of the clergy prevented all discussion. As for the French
Republic...."

"We have still retained the traditional system," I confess.

"And then our code grants the same rights to the illegitimate child,
when recognised, as to those born in wedlock--this is common equity."

"I do not deny it. But the prejudice that exists in our public mind on
this subject appears to me so deeply rooted that, without venturing
on risky predictions, I think we shall not obtain the solution of
the problem that your democracy has accepted without encountering the
keenest resistance."

None will be surprised to hear that the conversation drifted quickly
towards the Uruguay revolutions. Here the thread of our talk was
picked up by a young journalist--a Deputy--who has spent a long time
in Paris and is generally considered to be a coming man. In witty and
picturesque language, he explained that Uruguay's revolutions had no
more importance than a fit of hysterics. One is Red; another is White.
A tie or a bit of stuff sewn on the hat serves as a badge.[37] The
cradle supplies the bit of stuff; in a moment of popular excitement it
is adopted, and becomes at once a point of honour. Then some little
thing happens which, for one reason or another, leads to a heated
discussion, and immediately there follows a general conflagration.
The only fixed idea left in you is that you are a Red and the Whites
must be exterminated, or _vice versa_, according to the camp in which
you may be enrolled. There is nothing for it, then, but to let the
effervescence escape.

But when I remarked that the life of a man counted for nothing when
Uruguayan effervescence was escaping, the ready assent they gave me
showed that on this point no discussion was possible.

"But I understood you had abolished the death sentence."

"It is legally abolished, but illegally...."

"Just so. Modern law, but ancient--very ancient--practice."

As may have been noticed, there is a general tendency towards
comparisons--I ought, perhaps, rather to call it jealousy--of the
relative progress in Argentine and Uruguay. The "Oriental Band" is, in
Buenos Ayres, talked of with affectionate good nature, as if it were a
sulky member of the family. You cannot praise Uruguay without winning
universal approval, accompanied by a smiling reserve that seems to say,
"The Orientals are worthy to be Argentinos." At Montevideo you are more
likely to be asked frankly which country you consider foremost; and if
you reply that you are quite incompetent to judge, be sure that your
answer will be interpreted according to the inclination of the party
interested. This often happened to me--annoyingly enough. Every nation
has its strong and weak points, which must be judged according to the
form they take and the times in which we are moving. I certainly did
not go to the South Americans for a classification of the different
States of Europe. Why should I have been expected to draw up a scale
of civilisation for them? The Argentine, Uruguay, and Brazil are,
each in their way, grand social structures, having their defects,
like the countries of Europe. I am telling what I saw, leaving to all
the liberty of replying that I was mistaken in what I saw. That is
sufficient. But one of the best ways of moving ahead of one's fellows
is to acquire the capacity of self-judgment and self-reformation.

Amongst so many kindly hosts I may pick out the youthful Minister of
Foreign Affairs, Señor Emilio Barbatoux, whose polished Parisianism
made him the mark for all the questions dictated by my ignorance.
With unwearying courtesy the statesman, who is perfectly conversant
with the French point of view, succeeded in adapting himself to my
particular line of vision, and greatly facilitated the too superficial
examination I was making by the clearness of his information.

I was invited to a very French dinner at the Uruguay Club, where I
found the greatest comfort combined with Franco-American luxury;
and I was able to study at my ease the pure Latinity of the Uruguay
politician. If I had foreseen these "Travel Notes" I should have jotted
down on paper some of the speeches to which I listened on my travels,
when French culture was eulogised in the highest terms by the natives
of these countries, whose future is of such interest to us. It was
not till I had left it all behind me that I became conscious of the
omission. I can only say that in the Uruguay Club, and again in Mme.
Sillard's charming home, I found France again, as also in the _salons_
of the French Minister at Montevideo.[38]

There was something of France, too, in the editorial offices of _La
Razon_ and of _El Dia_--for, of course, an old journalist could not
resist the temptation of calling at a newspaper office.[39] Having
gone there intending to interview the editor in my own way, the tables
were turned on me and a volley of questions fired off at me. Next
morning there appeared the very interview I had been avoiding, and
all my "Ah's!" and "Oh's!" were cunningly interpreted to make up a
tale. Consequently, all I can report of Uruguay journalism is that my
_confrères_ of Montevideo excel in the art of the Abbé de l'Epée, who
managed to make the dumb talk. I trust this remark will be taken as
praise.

The few occasions I had for talking with my _confrères_ have left a
very pleasant recollection. I can truthfully proclaim them all Latins
of the purest water--Latins by their vivacity, by the warmth of their
temperament, by the trend of their mind towards general truths, by
every sign of their predilection for wrestling with ideas. In this
respect it was impossible to think them otherwise than youthful and
delightful. The estimable Renan, who was indulgence itself, gently
reproached me once with a lack of leniency. Alas! Time, the mother of
Experience, brings to us all in the end the faculty of appreciation
in the sense in which the philosopher meant it, and he himself never
consented to sacrifice one of his early opinions unless he could at
least preserve its terminology.

Still, it is a serious question, not only which is the better,
but which has wrought the more good in the world--youth, with its
presumptuous eagerness, or weary wisdom.

Now, is it possible to deduce any definite ideas of the special
features of the people of Uruguay from these faithfully reported but
necessarily diffuse notes, culled in chance encounters? If I had not
just come from the Argentine I should have plenty of material. But
as it is, consider, pray, that I have only to modify some epithets
in consideration of the smaller proportions of the subject and all I
might tell you of the aspect of town or country, as also of the mind
and character of its inhabitants, would, to all intents and purposes,
sound in your ears like a twice-told tale.[40] Then, you will say,
the Argentine and Uruguay are practically one and the same. That I
cannot admit. As well might one confound Marseillais and Brestois, who,
however, are of the same country. I prefer not to pronounce an opinion
that might foment the never-slumbering rivalry that exists between the
two Hispano-American peoples of La Plata. But as the common-sense of
Governments and peoples generally prevails over public excitement, and
as the paramount interest of both countries is the same in economic
matters as well as in the more or less clearly defined field of
American politics, there is, I think, no reason to fear that either can
take offence at an opinion inspired by equal respect for both parties.

What more shall I say? A country of 1,400,000 inhabitants; a town
of 400,000 souls. If Buenos Ayres is the second Latin city in the
world, Montevideo follows--at some little distance, perhaps, but with
a creditable total. The soil is no less well worked, cattle-rearing
is equally successful, while the _saladeros_ and large factories,
like those of the Liebig Company at Fray Bentos, provide a market as
good as the freezing-machines for Buenos Ayres. The political and
social institutions are much alike, both inspired by the same regard
for equality as proclaimed by the French Revolution, and permeated by
our own doctrines of justice and liberty. And if the Uruguayans have
ventured to carry purely logical solutions farther than we have done,
the reason is probably that the democratic Governments of these new
countries have not had to contend with the same atavistic resistance
that must be reckoned with in older lands, where men's minds have
been moulded by long history. A cheap criticism might here be made by
considering only such and such an aspect of these young communities.
We lay great stress on their revolutions, and whilst it is to be hoped
that violence will before long be laid aside, I have unreservedly
set down all I learned about these movements. Nevertheless, we must
admit that Uruguay is not without a show of reason when she replies by
throwing up at us the floods of blood that we have shed in the course
of our civil wars, and that down to our most recent history. Let the
sinless throw the first stone.

The ardent nationalism of Uruguay has nothing to fear from that of
the Argentine. There are advantages and disadvantages in importing
too great sensitiveness into every question. As a contribution to the
International Exhibition in honour of the Argentine centenary, Uruguay
published a very handsome volume, in which there was set forth in
pictures and figures the entire history of their national development,
the text being given in French and Spanish. The title was _Uruguay
Through One Century_. The evolution of the Oriental Republic is therein
set forth. Of course, the weak spot of such works is that they gloss
over the deficiencies; and thus, though hiding nothing, there is always
the risk of discomfiture when they are subjected to the brilliant
light.

It remains none the less true that the economic growth of Uruguay is in
no whit inferior to that of the Argentine in these last few years, and
the promise of the future justifies the highest hopes. It is possible
that on either side of the estuary the heat of political and social
verbiage is not always in accordance with cold reality. This is a
criticism that might be made of any land, and I could apply it easily
to those I know best.

When all defects and excellences are taken into account, I should
say the Uruguayan is distinguished from the Argentino by his
impulsive idealism. Less sober-minded and less attached to novelty
of doctrine--these are the two points that struck me first in his
character. For this very reason he is more prone to argue about
theories, and more expansive about himself and others. It may be that
French is less current at Montevideo than at Buenos Ayres, though it
seemed to me that, intellectually, French influence, if less profound,
is more patent on the surface. The mixture of European races is about
the same in the two countries. How is it that the first impression is
one of greater Latinity?--Latinity of feeling, which lends a charm
to social relations; Latinity of thought and action, with all the
advantages of spontaneity, all the defects of method, its alternations
of enthusiasm and hesitation in fulfilling its plans. The Latin
conceived and created this modern civilisation, which the Northerner
has appropriated to his own solid and empiric structures; but he has
only succeeded in giving them their present universal application by
renewed contact with the ideal in which the descendant of the Roman
conquest too readily found consolation for his own desultory practice.
South American Latinity has allowed itself to be left far behind by
the great Anglo-Saxon Republic of the North, just as European Latinity
has suffered its fiercest attacks from those who were designated the
"Barbarians" by ancient Rome. Yet how great would be the darkness
if the light of Latinity, as it survives even in its enemies, were
suddenly to go out! If man could always measure the obstacle, he
would frequently lack courage for the leap. It was the force of Latin
impetus that sent modern humanity forth to besiege the fortresses of
oppression, and it is the task of the experimental method to convert
them by patience and perseverance into asylums of liberty; we know that
to accomplish the miracle it will be necessary for the citizen to be
made anew by the exercise of self-control and a primitive respect for
the liberty of his neighbour. Considering all the feats that have been
accomplished by the Latin races, I see nothing before them but this
last and crowning marvel to complete their amazing history.

In Uruguay the first indication of this new order of things will be
the suppression of revolution. Before this comes to pass there will
be great changes on both sides of the ocean, in the reflex action of
humanity and, in a less degree, in its reasoning consciousness. Here is
an educational work which offers a vast field for future effort.

The Government of Uruguay is well aware that the greatest difficulty
in the way of self-government is to establish the relation between
principle and practice. It seeks, therefore, to implant in the young
those broad general principles by which our private and public life
must be regulated.[41] I lacked time to visit the schools, which are
the most unmistakable thermometer of any social structure. A glance
at the catalogue sent by the Primary Schools Council to the Third
Congress of School Hygiene, held in Paris, August 2 to 7, 1910, will
give us some light on the subject. This is not the place in which to
describe the admirable organisation of obligatory primary teaching in
Uruguay and the remarkable development of the primary schools under
Señor Williman's presidency. The syllabus for a period of school life
from the sixth to the fourteenth years is, I think, most interesting.
In all the schools which are ranked as of first, second, or third
degree, and in the country schools, the characteristic of the course
is the revival of the object-lesson, still too often sacrificed in our
European schools to the subjective teaching of olden days. In the very
first year's work I note that the following subjects are included (to
be carried farther in later years): geometry, notions of locality,
the human body, animals, plants, minerals, weights and colour,
demonstration lessons, etc.

It is obvious that the first notions of such matters must, if they are
to reach the minds of infants of six years, be of the most rudimentary
character. But is not this the right age at which to begin to give
a bias to the child's mind? In successive years it will be taught
to observe and make simple experiments, so that it is progressively
prepared for contact with the world in which it will be called to live,
in a way that has little in common with the absorption of general
rules which, until very recently, constituted the bulk of what we
call education. The very fact that they have evolved this system of
education, and that they have put their theories into practice, proves
that the Latins of Uruguay are on the right road to succeed in the
realisation of their hopes. For if they claim to impart to budding
intelligence a solid base of observation and experience, or, in other
words, to teach them the sensations that different phenomena give to
us, and offer such explanations as we can supply, they will surely
not be checked by the higher generalisations which are the natural
outcome of scientific study and also its crown. Thus, in the catalogue
of the school libraries for the use of pupils and professors I find
such French works as these: Le Bon--_Psychologie de l'Éducation_,
_L'Évolution de la matière_; Le Dantec--_Les Influences Ancestrales_,
_De l'homme à la Science_; Henri Poincaré--_La Valeur de la Science_,
_La Science et l'Hypothèse_. If we are not careful these "savages" will
outstrip the "civilised." I shall make no bold predictions. There is,
as I hinted just now, so wide a margin between understanding and the
act that should result from it that the magnificent progress made in
words is out of proportion to the slow evolution of action. It remains
for our Uruguayan friends, as for their European judges, to surprise
the world by a new history of human society.

Whatever this history may hold in store for us, I am glad to think
that our Latin republics of South America--and Uruguay amongst
the first--will offer the spectacle of a splendid effort of high
achievement. I will not seek to hide the great pleasure it gives me
to record the fact, because, in the first place, the sight of man
labouring to raise himself is always suggestive; and, secondly, because
for a critical mind there is no better complement than the need of
hope.

FOOTNOTES:

[33] The docks were built by the State alone without the help of a
loan. In 1906 the tonnage of vessels entered and cleared in the port
was fourteen millions.

[34] Meat drying and salting is the principal industry of the
country. In the _saladero_ the animal is killed and cut up, and the
flesh dried and salted by a process analogous to that used with cod.
Uruguay possesses thirty of these _saladeros_ (as against fifty in the
Argentine and Brazil), with Brazil and Cuba for its chief markets.
This article of food is now much esteemed in both countries, though
formerly it was reserved for slaves. At Fray Bentos there are the large
establishments of Liebig that must be mentioned to complete the list.

[35] Señor Daniel Muñoz is now Minister of Uruguay at Buenos Ayres.

[36] Of these, 100,000 are foreigners.

[37] The Reds are the advanced party, the Whites the conservative. It
was from the Reds that Garibaldi borrowed the famous red shirt that he
brought back from Montevideo.

[38] I should have liked to thank M. and Mme. Carteron for their
kindness. Alas! Mme. Carteron's sudden death has left a blank in her
home.

[39] The papers are distributed in the streets of Montevideo by
children on horseback. They fling the sheets skilfully into the
doorways, where they frequently remain, respected by all passers-by.

[40] There is only one point that it is only just to repeat: it is
that the women of Uruguay are very beautiful. More or less so than the
Argentinos? In the Pan-American Congress the ladies of Buenos Ayres
gave the palm to a celebrated beauty of Montevideo, in an outburst
of hospitable chivalry. I would not have the bad taste to say a word
either way. The two banks of La Plata appear to me equally propitious
for the development of feminine æsthetics, and for the foreigner who
loves art the handsomest model is ever that which is before his eyes.

[41] On the initiative of Señor Claude Williman, the late President,
360 country schools have been opened in Uruguay, so that the total
number of primary public schools supported by the State reaches at the
end of 1910, 1000, and gives us a ratio of one public school per 1095
of the population.



CHAPTER XII

RIO DE JANEIRO


The _Orissa_ is an old coasting steamer of the Pacific Line, which
calls at the western ports of South America, beginning at Callao, and
passing through the Straits of Magellan, pushes as far as Montevideo,
whence Santos and Rio de Janeiro are reached on the way to Southampton,
the end of the journey, with a halt at La Palice. The _Orissa_ is not a
rapid boat, but she is very staunch, and if her internal arrangements,
of the oldest description, be not more than rudimentary, the voyage I
made in her was very agreeable, thanks to the company of the captain,
who I found knew India well. A heavy sea and a head wind made us a day
late--a fair record in a journey only supposed to cover three days.
The greatest trial on board was the music that played at mealtimes,
when, without any provocation, three old salts, of pacific aspect as
befitted servants of their Company, made daily distracting attempts to
draw piercing discords from instruments which proved a cruel test of
the harmony of our constitutions. One blew wildly into the little hole
of a metal rod which shrieked in response; the second scraped furious
sounds from his strings; while a piano, built probably about the time
of Columbus, vainly endeavoured to bring the others into tune. It
took an alarming quantity of ginger and Worcester sauce to settle the
nerve-cells so cruelly exasperated by the rapid absorption of food in
the discordant tumult of this orchestra. We know the ancients believed
in the soothing influence of divine harmony. I wondered whether the
_Orissa's_ fife might not have had something to do with the saraband of
the wild waves we encountered. I lay the doubt before the directors of
the Company.

One thing is certain; at dawn, with no music at all, and (remarkable
coincidence) with a sea that had suddenly calmed down, we entered the
Santos River. A long arm of the sea between low-lying shores ending
in a vast bay framed in high mountains; marshy plains covered with a
tangle of tropical vegetation, or a low line of hill buttresses; all
that is visible of the land seems to be sending upwards to the blue
sky its tall shoots of foliage, which testify to the effect of the
vivifying orb on the quivering sap of the tropics. On all sides, under
the swaying lacework of green leaves, there appeared brightly painted
cabins, which set a note of bold colour in the sea of verdure.[42]
_Pirogues_ made from the hollowed trunks of trees and painted in the
crude tones beloved of savages glide up and down the transparent
waters. Nothing here that recalls Europe. This is where the curtain
rises on the New World. Shadowy forms, in strange draperies, pass to
and fro before the little cabins whose colouring gives them a strong
resemblance to children's toys, and then suddenly disappear as though
swallowed up in the luminous mystery of all this foliage. The relative
proportions of all things are new here. Nature has broken her usual
limit in these countries and developed immoderately, leaving man, by
comparison, dwarfed and insignificant. Too small, he appears in a world
too large. But already he is engaged in taking a revenge, as is shown
by the disappearance of the yellow fever from the marshes of Santos. We
know that no other town has been more cruelly tried. The simple fact of
drying up the marshes when the harbour was building sufficed to destroy
the scourge. The low shores of Santos Bay are still covered with salt
marshes where little scarlet crabs clamber amongst the brushwood, but
every trace of fresh water has disappeared, and we know that it is only
in fresh water that the dangerous mosquito can live.

The _Orissa_ moored alongside the quay, amongst the large cargo-boats
down whose yawning holds long lines of porters were flinging bags
of coffee. Each in turn advanced with alert step along the swinging
plank, and as soon as the man in front of him had deposited his sack
the same movement of the shoulders, repeated immediately after by the
man behind, gave an uninterrupted cascade of yellow bags,[43] falling
from the docks, where were heaped the mountains of berries, to the vast
bosom of the ship. You, who, like me, have heard Creole laziness abused
a thousand times, learn that the "lazy" Brazilian only relaxes this
hard labour for the period strictly necessary for rest; and not even in
the hottest part of the summer, when the sun is at its fiercest, does
he indulge in so much as a _siesta_. In Brazil, indeed, the _siesta_
is unknown. I do not mention the fact in order to reproach Europeans.
My only intention is to do justice to the toilers whose reputation has
suffered at the hands of the ignorant and foolish.

To return to Santos. We are impelled towards the quay in the first
place by a strong desire to penetrate to the very heart of the
marvellous landscape, and scarcely taking the time to shake the French
hands outstretched to us on the landing-stage, we set out for the beach
of Saint Vincent. Oh, surprise! A French hotel, all white, and redolent
of the modern watering-place, where there awaits us a table decorated
with orchids. But behold a tramway that runs to the end of the beach!
In these countries to be in a tramcar is to be in the open air. So
we follow the wide curve of silvery sand, bordered with villas whose
gardens are enchanting with flowers and unexpected plants, whilst on
the rocks of the small wooded islets, a cable's length from the shore,
high waves are breaking stormily to melt softly away at our feet. The
first impression is one of vigorous vegetation. In my first delightful
surprise it seemed this could never be surpassed. We stop at Saint
Vincent, and then return.

According to the legend, it was in the little Bay of Saint Vincent that
Calval with his warriors and monks first landed on these shores, thus
discovering Brazil, which it only remained to conquer and convert.
Naturally the event has been commemorated in stone and bronze. But
Calval himself has reminded us that, if we would land in time, we must
first catch our boat. A hasty lunch, and we are again on board the
_Orissa_, which to-morrow at sunrise will enter the bewitching Bay of
Rio.

The entry is triumphal in this inland sea encircled by high mountains,
with bristling summits like rocks in battle array, but relieved by
sunny shores, with flowery and mysterious islands, where the dazzling
lights of sky and sea are blended under the sensuous sunlight in the
clear shade of lofty leafage. At four o'clock I was already on deck.
Haze, a fine rain--there will be nothing visible at all. Jagged rocks
emerge from the mists, which all at once conceal them from view. We
are moving through a cloud. Two forts, the São João and the Santa
Cruz, guard the entrance for the sake of appearances. In one of the
recent revolutions they bombarded each other for a whole month for the
entertainment of the inhabitants of Rio, who used to come out to the
quays of an afternoon to criticise the firing. At the moment they are
in a spasm of peace. Farther away, we are shown the soft outline of
the _Minas-Geraes_, the redoubtable _Dreadnought_ which--but we must
not anticipate the story. Then come the hideous steeples of Gothic
sugar-icing which the Emperor Dom Pedro II. felt himself called to
place on the most ridiculous palace that ever disgraced a small island.
We stop here, for the quays are not sufficiently extensive for us to
draw up alongside. Now we can see the town, with its spots of bright
colour on the misty background of swelling green hills. We have reached
Rio de Janeiro--the January River--so called by the first comers from
Portugal, who took the bay for a river as the Spaniards had done for
the La Plata estuary. Perhaps in January--that is, in the height of the
summer--these explorers had like us the excuse of a fog, for tropical
vegetation is only possible when there are alternations of rain and
sunshine such as the climate of Rio abundantly supplies. It is the
rarest of phenomena to see the horizon perfectly clear. The distance
is invariably wreathed with a light haze which softens the violence of
the colours. After the fierce sun, a refreshing rain; after the shower,
the joy of warm light. For the moment we are enjoying a fog. A bark
hails us, the national flag flying at her bows. She brings a delegation
from the Senate, with their Speaker at their head, come to offer a
brotherly welcome to their French colleague. Next arrived the brother
of the President of the Republic, who acts as his chief Secretary, and
who was accompanied by an officer of the military household of the
Minister of the Marine. Many complimentary speeches were made as usual,
and a handful of brother journalists followed, having among them M.
Guanabara, editor of the _Imprensa_. What touched me most was the way
in which they all spoke of France and her _rôle_ of high civilisation
which she plays in the world. The President of the Senate, M. Bocayuva,
whose son is just now Brazilian _chargé d'affaires_ in Paris, is a
Republican of the old school and unanimously respected by all parties.
One realised as one listened to the heartiness with which he called up
a picture of the moral authority of France that he was in close harmony
with the traditions of the French Revolution. In this way are we in
full communion of mind and heart with the main currents of thought
and feeling which are carrying the nations of the world towards the
better forms of justice and liberty. Here in Brazil, too, I shall find
once more my country, as I quickly discovered in the course of the
conversation I had with Señor Bocayuva during our drive from the Farou
Quay to the handsome house which the Government has done me the honour
to place at my disposal.

The sun had scattered some of the fog by the time we reached the
Avenida Central, a magnificent highway which would be the pride of
any capital city,[44] and as the motor-car sped swiftly down it or
along that equally fine promenade above the quays jutting into the
bay, whose features now grew gradually visible, and the gay villas
with their frame of gorgeous foliage, we got a highly attractive view
of the town, softly caressed on one hand by the luminous waters with
their ever-changing horizons, and on the other, ever threatened by
invasion of the tropical forest, struggling with the eagerness of
the builder, whose efforts are ever hemmed in by parks and gardens
and trees of all sorts that spring up from the soil at haphazard,
evidences of the irresistible force of life that is here in Nature.
Since the day when the sea brought man to the country, the struggle
for existence has continued between the encampment of the budding city
and the impenetrable thickets that ever repelled the invader. On the
spurs, the ledges of the round green hills, everywhere the painted
cabin has obtained a footing facing the bay, cutting out for itself
with the axe openings through which may enter the daylight. Below,
the town, which spreads out to the beach, would appear to be cut up
by the farthest buttresses of the mountain range, and, pending the
time when they will be tunnelled, the _Flumineuse_[45] will still
be obliged to make many a long _détour_ to reach any given point.
But why linger in the city, except to mention the Municipal Theatre,
which cost far too many millions, and the pleasing Monroe Palace built
for the Pan-American Congress? Even the parks, whose extraordinary
trees draw loud exclamations of surprise from us every minute, cannot
compete in interest with the forest. We can never get tired, however,
of the wondrous promenade on the quays, seven kilometres in length,
and presently to be doubled. Following the graceful lines of the sea
front, with its array of flowers, whence at every moment we get a
new view of the bay, we drink in the ineffable light that makes the
sea palpitate and the mountain leap in a single voluptuous rhythm.
In the distance a white line, Nicterchy, the capital of the State of
Rio (40,000 inhabitants); at the entrance of the bay the tall cone of
granite known as the "sugar-loaf"; then the green islets, the rocks,
the mountains that melt in the blue gauze of the horizon, and if you
turn round, the high "Corcovado," hovering over the city, from whose
summit the whole expanse of the bay will be revealed to us--rapidly
changing scenery whose excess of living quality defies pen or pencil.
The infinite variety of the Rio Bay (140 kilometres in extent[46]) with
all its hidden indentations in which lie screened from view so many
richly wooded shores, where new forests are in process of formation, is
beyond all possibility of description. I have said enough: I have seen
it, and my dazzled eyes will not soon forget the picture.

My first visit was, of course, to the President of the Republic, who
was about to yield his place to Marshal Hermès da Fonseca, whose visit
to Lisbon, planned in all ignorance, was destined to coincide with
the Portuguese Revolution. A warm reception from Señor Nilo Peçanha,
who showed me round his fine park, where royal palms which are one of
the glories of Rio de Janeiro form a gorgeous avenue down to the very
shores of the bay. The Baron de Rio Branco (a family ennobled under the
Empire),[47] Minister of Foreign Affairs since 1902, was at one time
Consul-General in Paris. He knew many of our public men and received me
with the cordial simplicity of a friend. "The Baron," as he is commonly
designated, enjoys sovereign authority in all matters pertaining to
the external policy of the country. Friends and foes unite to leave
him a free field in this respect, and all unite, too, in praise of his
remarkable talents as diplomat. He does not conceal the fact that
his sympathies are with France, though his admiration is reserved
for Germany. The German Military Mission to Brazil was his idea, but
it came to nothing. Some one in his immediate entourage told me he
considers the German instructor to be specially capable of instilling
into Brazilian troops the sense of military duty. Too many instances
of insubordination--some very serious--have indeed shown the urgent
necessity for such teaching. But can Señor de Rio Branco really think
it possible to instil into the mind and manners of a democracy the
doctrine of absolutism in military duty such as William II. has laid it
down in repeated public utterances? If such absurd stress had not been
laid upon the supposed rivalry between the States of Saint Paul and Rio
de Janeiro, I believe that Baron de Rio Branco must have admitted like
every one else the merits of our admirable French Military Mission to
Saint Paul, of which I shall have occasion presently to speak again. If
I may speak freely, I do not consider it diplomatic for France to leave
so important a post as Rio for more than one year in the hands of a
simple _chargé d'affaires_, no matter how experienced.

Whatever happens, two features in the Brazilian character will to
my thinking remain predominant. They are democratic idealism and a
consequent innate taste for French culture. This was brought powerfully
home to me at the official reception with which I was honoured by
the Senate. This demonstration was carried by a vote that was almost
unanimous, there being only one against.[48] In a public sitting, the
speaker chosen for the occasion seated me on his right hand and then
made in French a noble speech, in which after the usual compliments he
declared that his country also upheld the glorious traditions of the
French Revolution. Then a senator from the Amazon, Señor Georges de
Moraès, got up to speak, and, also in French, delivered an admirable
harangue on the _rôle_ of French culture in the general evolution of
civilised society towards social justice and liberty. This oratorical
effort was frequently interrupted by the unanimous applause of an
audience quick to grasp the crisp outlines of our splendid dogmas of
Latin idealism. This magnificent homage to my great country, coming
from the highest representatives of the noble Brazilian democracy,
itself invariably attuned to the realisation of humanitarian justice,
touched me profoundly, and I could but say how great was my joy to
hear my nation spoken of with the respect and gratitude due to the
grandeur of its action on the world. I wished I had at my disposal the
same eloquence to express, in my turn, the deep gratitude I felt for
this movement towards France, whose history has, by some fate, been
so grievously checkered by many painful conflicts. What encouragement
there is for us in this brilliant demonstration of disinterested
cordiality! What hopes for the future may be founded on this bond of
union between peoples working equally in the cause of democracy, and
towards a great and universal peace based on the rights of man in all
civilised continents! I endeavoured to make this clear, and the simple
words of brotherly friendliness that sprang to my lips roused unanimous
applause from the benches of the august assembly. I wish I could have
done better. I trust my good intentions will speak for me. Never did I
feel so strongly the influence of the loftiness of human nobility and
its power to raise our minds to the highest aspirations after justice
and liberty. Before bringing the sitting to an end the President called
for three cheers for France, for President Fallières, and for the guest
of the Senate. And all the assembly on their feet, with the gravity of
suppressed emotion, gave three times the cry of "_Vive la France!_"
amid the applause of the spectators.

I am sorry to say I cannot speak of Brazil in the way I should like. I
was there only three weeks, just long enough to recognise how great an
interest is attached to all the developments of this marvellous land in
the different departments of human intellectual and physical activity,
but far too short a time to warrant any opinion of the prominent men
I met there, or on the multiple questions which are raised by the
political and social progress of this democracy. I was able to converse
with only a few politicians, and in my anxiety to see everything, I
touched on too many subjects in too brief a space to have succeeded in
assimilating the very complex impressions which might have enabled me
to speak with some degree of authority. I can therefore only offer to
the public a few rapid impressions for which I claim only the merit of
sincerity.

When I said that the ancestor of my friend Señor Acines de Mello
had given a performance of Voltaire's tragedies in his home, 1400
kilometres from the coast, in 1780, it sufficed to show that neither
general civilisation nor French culture is a new thing in Brazil.
The Republic of Brazil is an "ancient" Latin community which can
show titles of intellectual nobility and lofty social ambitions.
Its economic development, if less sudden in origin than that of the
Argentine, is none the less remarkable in all respects and holds out
no less hopes for the future. Coffee, india-rubber, timber, sugar,
cotton, rice, and mines are a source of wealth that the future will
reveal. There are immense stretches of country that are and must long
remain unexplored. The effort of a fine race has too long been held
in check by slavery, but its incessant activity has already produced
astonishing results. For numerous reasons, one of the principal being
the domination of theocracy, neither Spain nor Portugal has up to the
present been able to give in modern Europe the full measure of their
force. In South America they are making ready a magnificent revenge,
which, however, will not, I hope, prevent their taking and keeping
in Europe the position that is their due. If I may venture to make a
hasty judgment from what I was able to see, the distinctive traits in
this people would appear to be an irresistible force of impetuosity
in an invariably gracious guise, and every talent necessary to insure
the fulfilment of their destiny. I have spoken of the crossing of the
race in the Argentine, where the black element has been re-absorbed.
It is not the same in Brazil, where at every step one comes across the
African half-breed amongst the masses. The Portuguese woman and the
negro seem to get on well together, as is evidenced by the innumerable
young half-breeds to be seen in their serene bronze nudity at the doors
of the cabins. It is difficult to estimate the general results of
this mixture. The negro has the reputation of being idle, childlike,
and kind except in his outbursts of rage. As I have said before, the
vice of laziness cannot be imputed to the Brazilian. It may be that
African blood is partly responsible for the demonstrations of emotional
impressionability and unexpected violence that sometimes take hold of
the populace. I dare not carry this argument too far. Yet, to my mind,
the mutiny of the crews of the _Saint Paul_ and _Minas-Geraes_, as of
the troops of marines in barracks in the island of Las Cobras, was
largely due to the excitable African blood. The "governing classes"
seem untouched by this infusion of blood. But for some reason or other,
their virtues and their defects seem remarkably well adapted to the
corresponding characteristics of the masses. Idealists with a cult
for intellectuality, equally ready for higher culture as for the hard
labour without which nothing is ever achieved, gentle and violent by
turns, or even simultaneously--the variable sons of this soil, less
disunited, however, than one might suppose, may invoke in their favour
with a just pride a work already grandiose though but a feeble embryo
by comparison with what it must in time become.

In every department of modern activity Brazil need have no fear of the
criticism of Europe, for she possesses men comparable with any of our
chiefs of industry. Even a short visit suffices to show that there is
no lack of either intellectual quality or business method. But the
field is so vast that it would need innumerable legions to fully occupy
it. Considered in this light, every effort appears totally inadequate
in comparison with its immense possibilities. Admirable labourers they
are, none the less, hard at work, in their modesty and perseverance,
with no wish to spare themselves, and asking nothing from the struggle
with inanimate Nature but ground for fresh hope. Does this imply that
in certain directions of public action there is no wavering visible?
How happy would modern society be if this could be said only of Brazil!
Politicians are never in very high favour with the intellectuals of
a country. I will say nothing against either the one or the other.
The celebrated retort: "'Nothing' is a wide field: reign there!" may
with some slight modification be applied to the most gifted of men
when they persist in riding the eternal hobby of the ideal heedless
of earthly conditions. Some of the problems with which humanity has
wrestled for centuries have been solved by a single illuminating word
uttered in calm authority by men who would not have shone in _rôles_
that call for a gradual development of character. Politicians, on the
other hand, whatever their shortcomings--and I must acknowledge that,
in a moment of trial, they are frequently disappointing--have yet this
merit, that they play the labourer's part. They have to handle every
kind of problem, not to find a graceful solution that will delight the
intellectuals, but to extract therefrom certain conditions of private
and public life which according to events may make the fortune or
misfortune of the public. It may be that in Brazil they are too much
attached to the higher culture always to give sufficient consideration
to the common necessities of our daily life. It may be that they are
too intrinsically Latin always to be able to resist the temptation of
rushing events. These defects, if they really exist, are being cured.
The politicians with whom I had an opportunity of exchanging views,
both at Saint Paul and at Rio de Janeiro, would bear comparison,
whether as regards culture or systematic firmness in action, with any
in the world. An aristocracy had grown up around the person of the
Emperor, the last remnants of which are now being fast submerged in
the current of democracy. I shall mention no names, for I do not want
these hasty notes to bear the smallest resemblance to a distribution
of prizes. Let me only mention one case--a very rare one in Latin
nations--of a leader who is universally obeyed. I have no doubt that
Señor Pinhero Machado possesses all the qualities of a leader deft in
handling men, but it is less his talents that astonish me than his
self-abnegation, which has brought into line so many politicians of
Latin temperament.

The more momentous political questions of the day relate to
organisation, there being no room for any serious attacks on principles
that have been proclaimed and incorporated in the Constitution of
the Republic. It is in practice that difficulties are apt to occur.
The Empire showed a marked tendency towards centralisation.[49] The
Republic, being, like the United States, a federation of States, is
based on the theory of pure autonomy. But if the autonomy of these
States is to be more than a vain word, some way must be found of
constituting in each province of a territory which is eighteen times as
large as France, and contains twenty millions of inhabitants unequally
scattered over it, a sufficient force of intelligent determination to
create a select governing body which will express the intellectual
and moral capacity in the masses; otherwise democracy becomes only
tyranny disguised. In some States, notably in that of Saint Paul,
there is obviously a superabundance of energy. In others there is not
enough. Time and community of effort can alone remedy this condition
of affairs. Meantime, the balance is destroyed, and the Constitution
enjoys principally a theoretic authority. It is inevitable that the
result should be some confusion in Press[50] and Parliament, although
the strife is rather one of dogma than of action, and lies principally
between Federals and Unionists.

Religious questions are practically outside the public domain. The
separation of Church and State in Brazil goes with a papal nuncio,
by means of whom South American innocence supposes the fact adds a
distinction which should dazzle the outer world. I fancied that some
of the public men viewed the activity of the religious Orders with
apprehension, but I will say nothing further on the point.

Laws for the protection of agricultural and industrial workers are
here unknown. The Brazilian Republic will want to place itself on
an equality with other civilised countries on this head as soon
as possible, for already a number of colonists in lands where the
administration has shown itself slow to take action have protested so
loudly against the grave abuses that result that some Latin countries
have been obliged to forbid emigration to Brazil. Take heed lest the
States invoke their sovereign rights, which would be tantamount to
declaring the central authority void. This throws light on the obstacle
which now confronts progress on these vital questions--namely, the
lack of an adequate Constitution in some of the States for the work
of self-government, and of balance between those which have already
a highly perfected civilisation and the districts theoretically on a
footing of equality, but whose black or Indian population can only
permit of a nominal democracy stained by those irresponsible outbursts
which characterise primitive humanity.

As might be expected, the same remarks could apply to public
instruction. There is in certain States--as, for instance, Saint
Paul--a magnificent group of schools which respond to the general
consciousness of a pressing need for the spread of higher education; in
other parts there is a lamentable deficiency.[51]

It was, moreover, inevitable that the Federal Government itself should
suffer from the unequal distribution of its military effectives. The
State of Saint Paul is justly proud of an armed force which it owes to
French instructors. I need not criticise the Federal army, which is
officered by men of fine public spirit; but all agree that the force
needs reorganising. There is no question, of course, of preparing for
war; but the public interest requires that a military force should
be at the disposal of the Government, capable of enforcing obedience
to the laws. To me it seems more urgent than the acquisition of
_Dreadnoughts_, which swallowed up millions of money and gave nothing
but mutiny in return. Naval discipline necessarily suffered by the
amnesty imposed by men who had just massacred their officers. As
we know, this deplorable incident was followed by a mutiny amongst
the marines stationed in the island of Las Cobras, which, however,
for once, was severely put down. I inspected this body of troops at
the manoeuvres arranged for my visit. The young officers gave me an
excellent impression, and the barracks certainly left nothing to be
desired; but there were far too many coloured men in the ranks.
Who can tell the effect produced on these impulsive natures by the
capitulation of the public governing body before a military rebellion?
The rebels cruelly expiated the faults of others by adding thereto
their own.

As regards municipal administration, the greatest services have been
rendered to the city by the Prefect, who interests himself especially
in his schools amongst a long list of other duties. But the man who
deserves the most from his country is Dr. Oswaldo Cruz, who has devoted
himself to the improvement of the sanitary condition of the city and
has instituted a service of sanitary police stationed at every point of
contamination, and who, by dint of unwearying labour, has freed Rio of
yellow fever. The Government has lent him generous pecuniary assistance
in his work, but what is money without the man's perseverance and
zeal? As we know, the disease is propagated by the sting of the female
mosquito (the _Stegomya calopus_) just before the egg-laying season. In
1903 Dr. Oswaldo Cruz, having obtained from Congress all the necessary
powers, began his fight with the fearful scourge. A body of sanitary
police, organised by himself, was charged with the mission of getting
rid of all stagnant water in the streets, houses, courtyards, gardens,
roofs, gutters, and sewers, and from all other spots where the larvæ of
the _stegomya_ could exist. In this he found material assistance in the
scheme of public improvements then being carried out in the city--the
building of the quays,[52] the drainage of marshy land, destruction of
insanitary houses, cutting of new avenues, etc. In the course of the
first year of these sanitary works there were 550 deaths from yellow
fever; in the following year the number fell to forty-eight, and for
the last three years not a single case has been recorded. Needless to
say, the sanitary police brigade are continuing their duties, and in
all parts of the city and in all the houses every trace of standing
water is swept away. This constitutes a never-ending tyranny; but the
result is the complete purification of a city which was once a den of
pestilence, and is now one of the loveliest ornaments of the planet!

Dr. Oswaldo Cruz was making ready to go to the Amazon, which is in a
specially wholesome condition; he had already fulfilled a mission there
last year. He will now complete the task of general sanitation already
started, for which the Congress has furnished the necessary funds.
This, perhaps, is the most important part of his project, for it will
throw open an immense region of unlimited productiveness to every sort
of civilised activity.

Such a work would suffice to the glory of any one life, but Dr. Oswaldo
Cruz is one of those men who are capable of continuing indefinitely
their labours. The ex-pupil of the Pasteur Institute was anxious to
endow his country with a similar school of therapeutics and prophylaxy.
In a picturesque loop of the bay there stood a small building which
was used by the engineer of the prefecture in the burning of rubbish.
Dr. Oswaldo Cruz has transformed it into the _Institut Manguinhos_
(Institute of Experimental Medicine), with the special mission to
study infectious and parasitic diseases in men and animals, as well as
hygiene, and to prepare the different serums which modern therapeutics
has adopted. It was hardly necessary, perhaps, to add all the
_fioritura_ of Moorish architecture to a building intended for studies
that call for no flourish of trumpets; still, there is something
about these fanciful lines which harmonises agreeably enough with the
natural arabesques of the prodigal learage. The institute aims at
supreme perfection, and supplies having been furnished without stint,
the results place it beyond comparison. Vast laboratories, comfortable
studies, fitted up with all the latest appliances; operating-rooms for
animals, with the most complete surgical outfits, disinfecting-rooms,
vacuum machinery; lifts everywhere, gas, electricity, pipes for water
and for compressed air; library and magazine-room, with all foreign
periodicals properly classified; separate buildings for the study of
infectious diseases and the preparation of the corresponding serum.
Each building has its own stable, so constructed as to be readily
sterilised, with boxes permitting a close watch over the animal as
well as feeding him without opening the door; and its own hall for
experiments and laboratory, a furnace to destroy all refuse, electric
generating engines, etc.

A group of young Brazilian _savants_ were at work under the guidance
of Dr. Oswaldo Cruz and two German bacteriologists. One of them, Dr.
Chagas, a Brazilian, is well known in the world of science for his
studies in bacteriology and parasitology. There is an immense field
open, for tropical diseases are still uncharted, whilst in the field of
marasitic diseases of men and animals there is fully as much to learn.

The _Mémoires de l'Institut de Manguinhos_ are published in Portuguese
and in German. I was struck by the effort that the Germans are making
to draw towards themselves the medical corps of the country. The heads
of the laboratories and their assistants had all been brought from
Germany, and their scientific method had been cordially accepted. At
the Berlin Exhibition a first prize had justly been awarded to the
Manguinhos Institute. Of late years two French _savants_, MM. Marchoux
and Salimboni, of the Pasteur Institute, have been charged by the
Brazilian Government with a mission to study yellow fever. To-day two
of our army veterinaries are investigating the _morve_ at Rio.

But it is time to leave the abode of the Mosquito Killer (_mata
mosquitos_), as Dr. Cruz is nicknamed. The sun is mounting above the
horizon. In the enchanting light of the bay there are now revealed to
our gaze the serrated outlines of the soft shores where the intensely
profuse vegetation runs riot, the glowing masses of bare rock which
rise high above the water to meet the sun against the filmy background
of the distant mountains, and, lastly, the islands with their rippling
masses of rich verdure, which spring skywards like an offering from the
sea.

Impossible to pass the Island Viana by in silence. On the neighbouring
island Señor L----, the descendant of a French family, has set up
his dockyards for naval construction, which he took us to see with a
modesty that was not without a point of legitimate pride. I shall not
describe what is well known. There was a surprise in store for us,
however, in the form of a colony of Japanese labourers working in wood
and metal, and learning in this distant land a trade to be practised
later in their own. Most diligent of workmen, remarkable by their
gravity and steady application. Amongst them, tool in hand, one of
those small boys whose oblique eyes we have learned to know by heart
through the picture-albums of Nippon; dumb, motionless, the whole of
his mind concentrated with intense force on the work in hand, this
child of some ten years is taking a demonstration lesson in technical
work that, as you see by his attitude, he is determined to profit by.
I would rather have seen these little chaps playing at ball. I seem to
see them as they show themselves to us, gathering up all their powers,
even at the threshold of life, in order to take possession of the
future. I was told that in the evening schools they accomplish wonders.

The day's work ended, Señor L---- crossed a short arm of the sea and
landed in his own island of Viana, where he has laid out a large park
which at the same time satisfies his love of the beautiful and of
comfort. Each member of the family has a house to him- or herself--and
what a house!--English, or perhaps American in style, with the finest
supply of light and air provided by great bay windows opening upon
that immense expanse of sea framed in beflowered shores and broken by
high blue peaks which lose themselves in the sky. Kitchen-gardens,
flowery meadows, lawns, groves, woods--there is nothing wanting, and
each in turn is planted in the best possible way to take advantage of
the splendours of the views. And to make Viana a world in itself, all
the loveliest birds of Brazil are to be found in this earthly paradise;
and the supreme magnificence of the Brazilian types of winged and
feathered creatures repays in beauty what man's munificent generosity
daily distributes. Here within reach of my hand a large yellow bird
is pouring out its mad and merry song, while two toucans, with their
exaggerated beaks, light up with gold and clear sapphire hues the sober
green of the thicket. I pretend to try to catch them; they barely feign
a retreat. Eden before the Fall! I congratulate Señor L---- on the
artistic way in which he spends the money he succeeded in making in
business--two talents that are seldom found together.

"It is all very well," he murmured in reply, "but you see what happens.
My wife prefers Paris, and my children, who might have found here, at
twenty minutes' run from Rio, a worthy occupation for their time, have
elected to try their fate in the unknown. My eldest son is in New
York. _Ma parole!_ I believe he sells seltzer-water there, or something
of the sort. What do you think of that?"

I said nothing. But I thought to myself that in the pursuit of
happiness not even the most favoured escape some setbacks.

FOOTNOTES:

[42] In Brazil there are none of the half-houses of the Argentine and
Uruguay. The Brazilian eye loves, on the other hand, bright colours.
The houses are therefore daubed with blue, yellow, and red, which
harmonise as they may with the green background.

[43] A sack contains 60 kilogrammes.

[44] Like Florida in Buenos Ayres, Ouvidor in Old Rio still remains,
notwithstanding its inadequate dimensions, the principal business
thoroughfare of the town.

[45] The _Flumineuse_ is the native of Rio. There is no excuse for
people who, knowing that there is no river in Rio, yet insist on being
named after a stream (_flumen_) that is non-existent.

[46] The Rio harbour, built by the English for a French company,
represented in 1907 eight millions tonnage entered and cleared.

[47] The father of Baron de Rio Branco, Minister under the Emperor
Dom Pedro II., is the author of the Law of the _Ventre Libre_, which
emancipated all slaves to be born in the future. In remembrance of this
measure, which preceded the abolition of slavery, a statue has been
raised to him in one of the Rio parks.

[48] The vote of a senator belonging to the Church party.

[49] The Emperor Dom Pedro II. is kindly remembered. Every one speaks
of him with respectful sympathy.

[50] The Rio press is not so fully equipped for news items as the
European or American papers, but it is literary in tone and occupies
a worthy place in the Corporation. The largest circulation is claimed
by _El Commercio_. The _Imprenso_, whose editor is Alcindo Guanabara,
Member of the Brazilian Academy and deputy, is, with _El Pais_, one of
the most important party sheets.

[51] We must do justice to the effort made by the Brazilian Government
to extend education. According to an article in their Constitution,
the "unlettered cannot vote," but I will not swear that the rule is
severely applied. In each State the primary schools are supported by
the municipalities and States themselves, as are also the training
colleges. There are too many calls on the strength of the youth of
a new country for secondary education to be very enthusiastically
welcomed. On the other hand, the different institutions of higher
education attract the rising talent of the land.

[52] At Santos, one of the most severely tried, yellow fever was
entirely stamped out by the building of the quays, which drained off
the marshes.



CHAPTER XIII

BRAZILIAN SOCIETY AND SCENERY


I have already jotted down a few characteristics that struck me in the
people of Brazil, and these will form a sort of prelude to what I am
now about to say. For a traveller who claims to convey only first-hand
information, the difficulty, of course, is to make any definite
statements when aware that his observations were all too hasty and
brief to warrant generalities.

Brazilian society is very different from that of the Argentine, its
elements being more distinct and more complex, while equally European
in trend, and with the same immutably American base; the strain of
French culture is more attenuated, the impulsive temperament more
apparent, but for steady perseverance and capacity for hard work the
Brazilians cannot be surpassed. In criticising the social conditions
in Brazil, it must be borne in mind that the abolition of slavery
dates only twenty years back. I do not think the slave-owner was
systematically cruel, but slavery does not precisely rest on any
inducement to kindliness. Certain buildings that I came across and the
explanation of their use that was given to me showed plainly enough,
what we already knew, that the blacks were treated like cattle, with
just as much consideration as was dictated by self-interest. Since
man is almost as humane as he is cruel, no doubt the masters had
their benevolent moments, but the institution was, nevertheless,
fully as demoralising for owners as owned. The blacks multiplied,
however,[53] and if the abolition of slavery was not accompanied here
as in the United States by acts of violence, the reason is that, to
the everlasting honour of the white man, the institution had been
universally condemned before emancipation was proclaimed.

It has been said that in Brazil slavery was buried beneath flowers.
The fact is it had become practically impossible when its disappearance
was publicly and officially acknowledged. And as, happily, there
was no race hatred between whites and blacks, these two elements
of the population were able to continue to live peaceably side by
side in a necessary collaboration. They went farther than this, as
a matter of fact, and the races mixed with a freedom that I noticed
everywhere. From the point of view of social concord, this is cause for
rejoicing, while it must be left to time to correct any lowering of the
intellectual standard. Every one knows that the principal feature of a
slave-owning community is the absence of a middle class whose mission
it must be to hold the balance in an oligarchy and prepare the way for
the emancipation of the oppressed.

When the principle of democracy was proclaimed by the "big whites" of
Brazil, they could rely for support only on the leading intellectuals
of sound general education, and on the inorganic masses of the
population formed or deformed morally by slavery, and its attendant
evils, with an incoherent admixture supplied by immigration. This,
necessarily, was the situation that had to be faced on the morrow of
the decree of emancipation. By degrees this state of affairs has been
and is still being improved. The substratum of the community remains,
however, such as I have shown it. I am aware, of course, that in
this immense territory there are vast districts of varying soil and
climate where Indians and blacks are very unequally divided. For the
purposes of this brief summary, I am naturally only taking into account
representative centres of population. In some parts the negroes have
deserted the plantations for the towns to which they were attracted
by the opportunities for employment, and their place has been taken
by Italian colonies who have established themselves as small farmers.
Elsewhere the ex-slaves remained in their cabins and continued their
accustomed tasks with more or less zeal, content if thus enabled to
live as they liked. They appear to work and live in perfect harmony
with their former owners.

As regards the social _élite_, it is less easy to pick out its general
features here than it is in the Argentine, where on every hand there
are visible points of comparison with Europe. We are constantly
obliged to revert to our starting-point, which is a feudal oligarchy,
the centre of culture and refinement, which by a voluntary act is in
process of formation into a single heterogeneous mass without any
jarring of racial relations. For a long time the Empire preserved a
nucleus of aristocracy of which only a vestige remains to-day. There
might now be a danger of submersion beneath an inferior intellectual
element which lacks the powerful bias towards higher education peculiar
to the Brazilian mind. It is necessarily this element which will prove
the salvation of the country. It is on his plantation (_fazenda_),
in the centre of his influence, that we must seek the planter
(_fazendero_). Of a highly refined theoretical feudalism, deeply
imbued with European ways of thinking, and with the generous social
standards that distinguished, at one time, our own eighteenth-century
aristocracy, sublimely unconscious--and destined probably to remain
so--of the first spasmodic movements of forces whose evolution towards
a new order implies confusion at the outset, he is infinitely superior
to the generality of his kind in Europe, who are either the product of
tradition or the outcome of democratic circumstance. He leads the broad
and simple life of the large landowner in a land whose soil offers
every inducement to try fresh experiments. Everywhere within you will
notice evidences of his search for the Beautiful and his thirst for
knowledge. And everywhere without you will see the convincing proofs
of his endless activity. In Paris one of these influential men may
pass unnoticed, so little does he resemble his prototype as invented
by satirists, with his modesty of speech and simplicity of bearing. He
would, however, repay a closer study, and when he comes among us to
obtain fresh force for his strenuous task, I should like to see some of
our young men seize the opportunity to improve themselves by paying him
a visit.

All these social forces have a natural tendency to form themselves
into groups. But the Brazilian planter, like other feudal survivals
in Europe, is exposed to the attack of every modern commercial
and industrial force that is tempted to wield some sort of social
authority. This is now the base of all communities--in Rio, in Saint
Paul, or in any other city of the world. A reception on extremely
Parisian lines given by Senator Azeredo, assisted by Señora Azeredo,
proved once again how strong is the likeness between circles that
believe themselves to be utterly different. A single telegram suffices
to give uniformity to the toilettes of all the women in the world, and
if those to be seen in Señora Azeredo's _salons_ were less extravagant
than some Parisian examples, Rio struck me as being quite as eager
as Paris in its pursuit of beauty's adornments. Shall I mention that
Brazilian women have large black eyes, which seem to ask a thousand
questions, usually pale complexions, sometimes of a golden bronze tint,
that they are vivacious in speech and take a delight in conversational
tourneys?

Señores Pinhero Machada and Guanabara were kind enough to give me
an invitation that enabled me to see a little more of some of their
politicians. Señor Pinhero Machada has a house that is built among the
palm-trees on a height that commands the whole of the bay. I confess
that in this enchanting place I was more tempted to open my eyes than
my ears; still, in spite of the counter-attractions of the lovely
landscape, I managed to study the mysteries of Brazilian politics a
little more closely, and, as I had begun to do at Señor Guanabara's,
to realise that reasons for union are and will remain predominant
providing that the question of personalities does not obtrude.

How shall I fail to speak of the ball given in commemoration of the
Independence of Chile, where I had the pleasure of meeting the flower
of Rio society together with the representatives of all the foreign
Powers? I should only give it a passing mention were it not that the
President of the Republic, who opened the ball in person, had conceived
the idea of inviting me to form one of the official quadrille, with
the thought, of course, of paying a compliment to my country. When the
excellent Prefect of Rio announced this decree of public authority, I
believed a catastrophe was imminent, and did not hesitate to impart
my fears to his charming wife, who declared herself ready to go under
fire by my side. The worst of it was that I had before me the mocking
eyes of the papal nuncio with whom I had just shaken hands, and I could
see that he was far from wishing me success in the perilous career on
which I was about to embark. Timidly, I broke it to my partner that it
was over fifty years since I had danced a quadrille, and she returned
my confidence by acknowledging that her education as regards the art of
dancing had been totally neglected. The great fat man in scarlet, whose
ring was large enough to boil an egg in, found our predicament vastly
amusing. I saw myself about to become the scandal of Christianity.
Uniting our ignorance, my partner and I took up our positions and
arranged to imitate to the best of our ability the movement that
might be suggested by the music to the youthful couple that formed
our _vis-à-vis_. Thereupon, the orchestra, a piano and some other
instrument, began to play, and we saw that the charming young couple
on whom we relied were obviously waiting for us to set the example.
What was to be done? I looked at my neighbours. They could not agree.
One advanced, the other retired. The President of the Republic tried
to encourage the rest of us by getting himself into hopeless muddles.
I soon saw that all we needed to do was to tread on the toes of our
neighbours and then bow our apologies, to begin again immediately the
same manoeuvre. This I accomplished, to the great disappointment of the
scarlet man, who was obliged to give a wry smile at the spectacle of
the grace I managed to display in the service of my country.

I should have liked to see the theatres. Time was lacking. I saw only
a performance of _The Daughter of the Regiment_, given in Italian at
the Lyric Theatre, formerly the principal play-house of Rio under the
Empire. The Imperial box was placed at my disposal and proved to be a
veritable apartment, furnished in the style of Louis Philippe. I was
told it had been kept unchanged.

The Municipal Theatre, practically a copy of our own opera-house, is
one of the finest buildings in the Brazilian capital, its only fault
being that it swallowed up too many of the public millions. On the
ground floor there is a very luxurious restaurant containing a faithful
copy in glazed bricks of the frieze _The Immortals_, brought by M.
and Mme. Dieulafoy from Suez and now in the Louvre. Here the French
colony gave a dinner in my honour. A certain number of statesmen
accepted the invitation of my compatriots, and thus I had the great
pleasure of assuring myself by my own ears of the friendly relations
that exist between French and Brazilians. At one time we had a very
important colony in Rio. For reasons that are not too clear to me, it
has dwindled away of late. I found, however, at the reception held by
the French Chamber of Commerce that if lacking in quantity, the quality
of these French representatives left nothing to be desired. The natural
affinity between the two peoples is so obvious that the multiple
attractions of this great and beautiful country are for French people
enhanced by the joy of a genuine communion of thought and feeling
which links their hopes and aims. To my intense satisfaction, I had a
proof of this at my first contact with the public of Rio, and the same
experience was pleasantly renewed later at Saint Paul; I found that I
could speak with the utmost freedom as a Frenchman to Frenchmen, for
there was not the smallest suggestion of a foreign element in the mind
of my audience to remind me to adapt myself to new susceptibilities. I
know not how adequately to thank my audiences for what in French eyes
appeared the supreme gift of a spontaneous manifestation of French
mentality. The Academy of Medicine were good enough to invite me to
pay them a visit, and I will freely confess that a consciousness of my
unworthiness made me hesitate to face this learned assembly. On this
point they reassured me by declaring that the meeting would be merely
in honour of French culture. I went accordingly, and scarcely had
we exchanged our first greetings when I already felt myself at home
in a French atmosphere. Medical science being out of the question,
the delicate fare offered to me was some reflections on the general
philosophy of science, as developed by the magnificent intellectual
labour of France, and on the powerful lead given to the activities of
civilisation by our country. Could anything be more encouraging than
this disinterested acceptance of the testimony of history, considering
how many there be who would exalt themselves at the expense of France?

A very different atmosphere awaited me at the Bangu factories, where
are admirable spinning and weaving mills; here the raw Brazilian cotton
is transformed into those printed stuffs of vivid colourings in which
the working classes love to drape themselves and thus supply a feast
for our eyes. Here there were fewer abstract terms employed to declare
the esteem so freely accorded to France. But here, as in other parts
of the great Republic, I found the few brief words uttered in private
encounters still more convincing than the noisier demonstrations.
Wherever the work of social evolution is being carried on, wherever
there is seen a fine promise for the future, their it is a joy for the
French to find the name of their country associated with the forward
movement. The splendid industrial development of Bangu among many other
similar centres shows what is being done in Brazil in this direction.
I have seen nothing more striking in Europe. The Brazilians possess in
an equal degree with the Argentinos the capacity of bringing to the
highest possible perfection any work to which they set their hand.

I have already said that in Brazil our laws for the protection of
industrial and agricultural labourers are unknown. Not but what
politicians have studied the matter. But in the imperfectly centralised
organisation of all these floating authorities, it is difficult to see
how such laws, if voted, could be effectually applied. All the more
credit is therefore due to the large employers of Brazilian labour who
have done their best to improve the material condition of their hands
without waiting to be compelled to do so. The working population of
Bangu is scattered about the country in _chalets_ that appear to be
admirably hygienic, and all wear the aspect of the finest of physical
and moral well-being. A large building has been provided for meetings
of all kinds and a theatre in which the hands may amuse themselves
with theatricals and concerts. It is unnecessary to state that we were
received to the strains of the _Marseillaise_ and that the French
Republic was vigorously cheered. I do not go so far as to say that
there were no dark sides here or elsewhere to the picture. I have
not concealed the fact that immigrants complain loudly of the want
of supervision from which they suffer in some regions. It seems fair
to infer from what has already been accomplished that more is being
attempted. It is naturally the farmer on the _fazendas_ who receives
the most attention because he is the deep and almost inexhaustible
source of the national wealth.

It would appear that there are no limits to the productiveness of this
soil, whose fertility has been developed and renewed during so many
centuries by the combined action of sun and rain. Side by side with
the barbarism of slavery there has been a barbarous system applied to
the land, which has resulted in its impoverishment. Now the relation
between production and fertilisation has come prominently forward.
There is still, however, much virgin land that awaits the farmer. The
real problem of a rational system of agriculture to be applied in
Brazil will be left for a future generation. Meantime, their finest
forests are burning and filling the horizon with smoke. This represents
what the Brazilians call "clearing" the land. But the Brazilian forests
deserve a volume, not a paragraph, or chapter--and its writer should
be both learned and a poet. I did not visit the fairylike regions
of the Amazon, but however amazing they may be, I think they could
scarcely surpass the powerful impression made on me by the forests
of Saint Paul. There is a limit to our nervous receptivity, beyond
which point we become insensible to sensation. We in Europe have dwelt
amid a beautiful harmony of the forces of Nature which have moulded
all our impressions in a certain form of beauty; to find fault with
them would be sacrilege, since the highest inspirations of art have
been drawn from this source. Thus, consciously or not, we have lived
in an equilibrium of pleasing emotions, that imposes on us certain
limitations of sensation to be derived from the spectacle that Nature
provides. Therefore, when we are suddenly confronted with an unknown
Nature, whose power and vigour shatter all our preconceived notions,
and alter the whole focus of our organs, the only possible effect at
first is one of complete bewilderment. We must take time to get used to
this new order of sensations before we expose ourselves to another and
get back again to the standpoint of a corresponding sense of æsthetics.
I had to endure several headaches before I could rise to the level of
the genius of Berlioz or Wagner. What if we compared our own landscape
with the music of Gluck or Mozart? Then you may grasp the Wagnerian
fury of the virgin forests which produce a stupefaction that leaves
you incapable of analysis and a prey to a tumult of superlatives. And
all this happens simply because we have been exposed to the shock of a
higher manifestation of the terrestrial forces of the world.

The Botanical Gardens of Rio are famous the world over. The astounding
forms of foliage, the bold growth of ancient tree and young shoot,
the illimitably dense profusion of every form of vegetable life,
recalling what must have been the earliest stage of the life of our
planet, reduced me to a state of speechless surprise. I promised
myself a second visit to its marvels, but never accomplished this, for
spectacles of even greater magic detained me elsewhere.

"Bon Vista," the Emperor's country house in a suburb of Rio, is
surrounded by a fine park which is going to be turned into a public
garden. The _Flumineuses_ make frequent pilgrimages thither, with
their families, to spend a day in the shade of its trees during the
hot season. But, to tell the truth, while they in this way enjoy
Europeanising themselves in artificially made gardens, I took a delight
in drinking in the Americanisation that awaits you in the outposts of
the young Corcovado forest, which seems to be advancing to the attack
of urban civilisation and pursues man even in the very streets of Rio.

This urban forest is one of the charms of the Brazilian capital.
It clasps the city in its powerful embrace and seems determined to
drive back the population into the sea, whence it sprang, creeping
insidiously into every open space, blending with the avenues, spreading
over squares and parks, and everywhere declaring the triumph and
victory of the first force of Nature over the belated but redoubtable
energy of humanity. Trees, creepers, ferns, shrubs--all these forms
seem to be mounting to the heights that crown the bay in order to draw
from the sunshine a renewal of their vigour. The high peak of the
Corcovado (over 2000 feet) that broods over the city, looms large on
the horizon, and one can readily believe that the first thought of the
invader was to climb that height and survey the marvellous panorama
before him. Unlike the Galilean, he needed no tempter to sow in his
mind the desire of possession. But, alas! the task of appropriation is
not accomplished without encountering some obstacles, and the would-be
mountain climber is forced to concentrate his attention on one spot of
the planet that holds him in the grip of an irresistible attraction.
A funicular railway performs this office for him; and with no more
trouble than that of letting yourself be drawn up under the branches,
you suddenly emerge on a height whence you get a magic vision of Rio,
with her bay, her islets, and a mass of mountains heaped one upon the
other, until they are finally swallowed up in the sea. A new world
is here revealed to your gaze--a world in which the whole miracle of
the earth's multiple aspects is epitomised, where the eternal play
of light and shade constitutes an ever-changing picture that creates
a world-drama in inanimate Nature. Are you surprised to meet some
Parisians up here? No, not much. The first result of our industrial
equipment is to diminish the proportions of the globe. It is easier
to-day to go from one continent to another than it used to be to
go from one village to the next. I am personally glad of this, for
nothing could be better for us French people than to travel in foreign
countries, since in this way we get a standard of comparison that we
badly need.

Coming down from the Corcovado, you must stop at "Silvestre," whence
a shady path cut in the mountainside will bring you back to the city,
through a wilderness of wood where a profusion of parasitic growth
covers the boughs, tying them up in a mad confusion of tendrils.

Next after the Corcovado the Tijuca will attract you, and, like the
former, it ends in wondrous points of view. In this case the pleasure
is in getting there. You pass now through lines of tall bamboos,
whose light foliage meets overhead; now you follow the course of a
noisy waterfall that seethes amid the verdure of the forest; anon you
descend into a valley that is shaded by the fresh and delicate foliage
of the banana-trees, or rise to the top of a hill from which all the
indentations of the great bay are plainly visible, and a small gulf
hidden in an avalanche of rocks and boulders lies revealed, where the
mysterious waters sob and vanish on a bed of flowers. Ever onward,
the motor-car pursues its headlong way at a speed one longs to check.
Often we stop to prolong the pleasure of a moment, but if one did not
take care one might stop for ever. The pen is powerless to convey
what, perhaps, the brush might reveal--the joy of life that swells to
bursting the sap of every twig and leaf, every flower and fruit, from
the humblest blade of grass to the loftiest extremity of the tallest
trees, and renders so impressively active every organ of the vegetable
world. I remember pausing before a simple creeper which had produced
some billions of blossoms, and had imprisoned a whole tree in a kind of
tent of blue flames. This example alone will serve to give the measure
of the tropical fecundity. The object of our drive was the "Emperor's
Table" and "China Street." After the view from the Corcovado this
seemed less grandiose, but in any other country of the world it would
arouse a rapture of admiration. We returned to the city by another
route, traversing a part of the mountain where rows of villas embowered
in flowers seemed hung up half-way between sky and sea. You are back
in Rio before you realise that you have left the forest.

It is impossible to speak of Rio without mentioning Petropolis, which
owes its success to the yellow-fever mosquito. The _Flumineuses_ formed
the habit of migrating to this mountain station in order to escape
from the attacks of the plague-carrying mosquito, which is so active
after sunset. A well-founded fear of the scourge drove all those who
could afford it out of Rio, and at their head were the Emperor--later
the President of the Republic, the Ministers, and diplomatists, with
their families. Thus Petropolis, an hour's journey from Rio, became in
some sort a fashionable watering-place, whose charming villas stand
in a forest of tropical gardens. It is a delightful spot for all who
can turn their back on the business of the outside world, which seems,
indeed, far enough away. For this reason the European diplomatists
spend long days here, filled with visiting, excursions (there are
many charming ones to be made from this centre), or the idle gossip
that constitutes that work is lacking; but we know that everywhere
custom is stronger than utility, and custom is very exacting. Now
that the mosquito has deserted Rio the Government has settled in the
capital, leaving the mountain station to the diplomats and their
papers. How can diplomacy exist without a Government round which to
"circumlocutionise"? For the smallest formality one must take the
train. Coming back in the evening is fatiguing. One goes to the hotel
for the night. Your friends take possession of you, and while you
are dawdling in Rio all your correspondence is lying unanswered at
Petropolis. There is, in consequence, a strong feeling now that "the
diplomats ought to settle at Rio," near to the Baron de Rio Branco, who
somehow invariably manages to be at Rio when they are at Petropolis and
_vice versa_, just to upset our worthy "plenipotentiaries." All this is
not done without a certain expenditure of money. Budget commissioners,
beware!

Theresopolis is another mountain station, three hours from Rio. On the
opposite shore of the bay a railway climbs or winds round the lower
slopes, cutting its way through the forest as far as a vast plateau,
whence radiates a number of paths that invite you to wander amongst
the astonishing phenomena of this fiercely abundant vegetation. A
"circus" of bare rocks bristles with pointed peaks, one of which,
bearing some resemblance to the forefinger of a human hand, is known
as "the Finger of God." Whichever way you bend your steps this
formidable and imperious finger lifts itself against the horizon, as
if tracing the path of the planets through the heavens. The beauty
of Theresopolis lies in its madly bounding torrents, which leap the
giant boulders heaped up in its course, ruthlessly destroying the
green growths that make a daily struggle for life. For me this giant
strife provides an incomparable spectacle. I confess that the series
of forest panoramas that open out on either side of the railway, from
Rio Bay to Theresopolis, give a magic charm to the day's excursion.
Tall ferns raised against the sky the transparent lacework of a light
parasol, monstrous bamboos threw into the mêlée their long shoots,
shaped like green javelins; shrubs, both slender and stout, and of
every kind of leafy growth, encroach upon the heavy branches, worn out
with the weight of parasites; the creepers twined like boas round their
supports, flinging back from the crest of the highest trees a wealth
of fine tendrils that, on reaching once again their native earth, will
there take fresh root and draw renewed force for the future fight with
fresh resistances, a single one of the family, with leaves like a
young bamboo, so fine that the stalk is well-nigh invisible, entirely
shrouding a whole tree in its frail yet stubborn network, transforming
it into a green arbour that would put to shame any to be found in our
ancient and classic gardens--all these and many other aspects of the
marvellous forest arouse an unwearying and never-ending admiration,
mingled with wonder at the blows dealt on a battlefield of opposing
forces where the weapons are none the less deadly for being immovable.

There is no forest to be seen on the road from Rio to Saint Paul. Here
man has passed. On all sides are visible the signs of destruction
wrought by systematic fires. Thanks to Señor Paul de Frontin, the
Company's manager, and two friends of whom I shall have occasion to
speak again later--Señores Teixera Soarès and Augusto Ramos--I made
the journey under the best possible conditions. The great point was
to see the country as we passed. Could any better way be imagined
than that of placing the locomotive behind the coach, which was
arranged like a _salon_, its front wall being taken away and replaced
by a simple balcony? With rugs to guard against the freshness of the
breeze, you find yourself comfortably installed in the very centre of
a landscape whence you may see mountains, rivers, valleys, fleeing
before you in the course of a run of five hundred kilometres. For
the whole of the day I was able to drink in the fresh air and strong
lights, as I looked out eagerly to discover new beauties. As a matter
of fact, I saw nothing but mountains and hillsides that had been
wantonly despoiled of their native vegetation. Here and there a small
banana-wood growing in a crevice showed the proximity of the cabins
of negro colonists and their offspring, who displayed in the sunlight
the unashamed bronze nakedness for which none could blush. They were
leading the nonchalant life of the farmer who expects to draw from the
earth the maximum of harvest for the minimum of trouble. Whether under
cultivation or lying waste, at this time of the year the land presented
the same appearance of bare wildness. Sometimes on the top of a hill
there would be seen one of the old plantations surrounded by walls
built to imprison the slaves, or coffee-gardens, now abandoned because
the soil was worn out for want of dressing, or long stretches of pale
green denoting young rice crops, watercourses dashing over rocks and
gliding through brushwood--the last resort of the birds,--vestiges of
calcined forests where the new growth of vegetation eager to reach
the sun was ever cut back and repressed; and everywhere flashes of
red light that resolve themselves into birds, shuddering palpitations
of blue flames that become butterflies, or the bronzed reflections of
phosphorescent light that reveals a dancing cloud of hummingbirds. On
the horizon spots of black smoke, betokening forests that are blazing
in all parts to make way for future harvests--a melancholy spectacle of
a wanton destruction of natural beauties that has not even the excuse
of necessity, since the splendid forests are only attacked to save the
trouble of fertilising the land exhausted by cultivation. I was told
that at the first outbreak of fire the great birds of carrion come up
in flocks to cut off the retreat of the monkeys and serpents that flee
in terror. I did not witness this part of the tragedy, but I was near
enough to see all the horror of the fearful flare. In the crackling of
the burning palms, in the whirling clouds of blinding smoke furrowed
with a sinister glow, boughs and branches lay heaped up on the ground
in immense flaming piles, through which the charred stumps of boles,
brought low by fire, crashed noisily to earth, where their corpses lay
and slowly smouldered to ashes on the morrow's coffee plantation in
accordance with the law of Nature, which builds fresh forms of life out
of the decomposed elements of death.

At nightfall, we entered the station of Saint Paul, where the cheers
of the students, loudly acclaiming the French Republic, made us a
joyous welcome. A few minutes later we found ourselves at a banquet
attended apparently by representatives of every country of the world,
and Brazilians and Frenchmen here united to express their brotherly
aspirations in words of lofty idealism.

The city of Saint Paul (350,000 inhabitants) is so curiously French in
some of its aspects and customs that for a whole week I had not once
the feeling of being abroad. The feature of Saint Paul is that French
is the universal language. Saint Paul's society is supposed to be more
markedly individual than any other community in the Republic, and it
offers this double phenomenon of being strongly imbued with the French
spirit, and, at the same time, of having developed those personal
traits that go to make up its determining characteristics. You may
take it for granted that the Paulist is Paulist to the very marrow of
his bones--Paulist in Brazil as well as in France or any other land;
and then tell me if there was ever a man more French in courtesy, more
nimble in conversation in his aristocratic guise, or more amiable in
common intercourse, than this Paulist business man, at once so prudent
and so daring, who has given to coffee a new valuation. Talk a little
while with Señor Antonio Prado, Prefect of Saint Paul, and one of the
leading citizens, whose mansion, set in the frame of a marvellous park
of tropical vegetation, would be a thing of beauty in any country, and
tell me whether such elegant simplicity of speech could imaginably
express any but a French soul. The same might be said of his nephew,
Señor Arinos de Mello, of whom I have already spoken, a clever man
of letters who divides his life between the virgin forest and the
boulevard, and who might easily be taken for a Parisian but for a soft
Creole accent. Frenchmen basking in Brazilian suns, or Brazilians
drinking deep of Latin springs--what matter by which name we know them,
so that their pulses beat with the same fraternal blood!

The fact that the Paulist character has been strongly developed along
lines of its own and that the autonomy of Brazilian States permits of
the fullest independence of productive energy within the limits of
federal freedom has led some to draw the hasty conclusion that there is
a keen rivalry between the different provinces, and to see separatist
tendencies where there exists nothing but a very legitimate ambition
to forward a free evolution under the protection of confederated
interests.

The States of Saint Paul and Rio stand at the head of the
confederation, both by reason of their intellectual superiority and by
their economic expansion, and the steady increase of their personal
weight in the federation is naturally in proportion to the influence
they have succeeded in acquiring in the exercise of their right to
self-government. As no one seeks to infringe any of their prerogatives,
and as the only criticism one might make would be that certain States
are at present unfit to fulfil all the duties of government, while any
attempt at separatism must tend to weaken each and all, no serious
party, either at Saint Paul or Rio, or, indeed, in any other province,
would even consent to discuss the eventuality of a slackening of the
federal tie. The Paulists are and will ever remain Paulists, but
Brazilian Paulists.

My first visit was paid to the head of the government of Saint Paul,
who extended to me the most generous of hospitality. Señor Albuquerque
Lins, President of the State, received me in the presence of his
Ministers--Señor Olavo Egydio de Souza, Minister of Finance; Señor
Carlos Guimaraès, Minister of the Interior; Señor Washington Luis,
Minister of War; and Señor Jorge Tibiriça, who had just vacated the
Presidential Chair, and was one of the most distinguished statesmen
of Saint Paul. Señor Augusto Ramos and our Vice-Consul, M. Delage,
whose tact, intelligence, and wide understanding of his duties are
above all praise, were also present on the occasion. The President,
who had an exaggerated opinion of the defects of his French, managed
to convey to me in excellently worded phrases his warm sympathy for
France, which, indeed, he proved by his cordial reception of us. I,
in my turn, assured him of the fraternal sentiments of France for
Brazil and Brazilian interests in general, as also for Saint Paul
and Paulist society in particular. And then, as though to prove that
our compliments were not merely those demanded by etiquette, the
conversation turned upon matters in which Saint Paul and France were so
mixed that the Paulist seemed to take as much pleasure in acclaiming
France as did the Frenchman in expressing his admiration for the
stupendous work carried out by the Paulists with such giddy rapidity,
in developing a modern State that founds its hopes for the future on
the miracles accomplished in the past.

It was a joy to me to run about the city at haphazard. You do not ask
from Saint Paul the stage-setting furnished by Rio; yet there is no
lack of the picturesque. The suburbs of Saint Paul, where costly villas
make bright spots of colour in the gorgeously beflowered gardens, can
offer some fine points of view. At the end of an esplanade bordered
with trees the plateau suddenly falls away into a gentle valley which
would seem admirably designed for the site of a park, worthy the
ambitions of Saint Paul if the authorities would but set about it while
the price of land is still moderate. The only public garden at present
owned by the town is a pretty promenade that can scarcely be considered
as more than a pleasant witness to a modest past.

In the course of our walk we came upon the museum, which stands on the
hill, from which the independence of Brazil was proclaimed. It contains
fine zoölogical, botanical, and paleontological collections. I was
shown moths of more than thirty centimetres in breadth of wing, and
hummingbirds considerably smaller than cockchafers. I paused for an
instant before the cases containing relics of prehistoric America, with
utensils, ornaments, and barbaric dresses of the aboriginal Indians who
to-day are sadly travestied in abbreviated breeches and remnants of
hard felt hats.

There was no time to visit the schools, to whose improvement the
Paulist Government attaches high importance. I promised, however, to
call at the Training College, and, indeed, could scarcely have done
less, since this marvellous institution would be a model in any country
of Europe. I can but regret that I am unable to lead the reader through
the building to see it in all its details--its rooms for study, its
gardens, its workshops. The young Headmaster, Señor Ruy de Paula
Souza, who was a pupil at our Auteuil College, does his professors the
greatest credit and does not conceal his ambition to surpass them. A
much too flattering reception was given me, in the course of which I
had the surprise of hearing quotations from some of my own writings
introduced into a speech made by one of the professors. France and
French culture received a hearty ovation. The warmth of the welcome
given me at Saint Paul could only be outdone by Rio. The charm of a
hearty expansion of fraternal feeling was added to the cordiality of
the demonstrations in honour of our country. The pleasure felt when
members of the same family meet after separation, and find their
mutual affection has been generously developed in the course of life's
experience--this was the impression made on me by the greeting of the
students both at the Training College and at the Law Schools, where one
of the young men delivered a speech in excellent French that formed the
best of introductions to the lecture that followed. In the evening the
same young men organised a torchlight procession. I stood at a window
with a French officer on either side of me. A moving speech was made
to me by a student who stood on the balcony of the house opposite.
The procession passed by to the strains of the _Marseillaise_, amid a
tumult of hurrahs, in honour of France.

I mentioned two French officers. There is here now a French Military
Mission, to whom has been entrusted the training of the police
force, whose duty it will be to ensure order in the State of Saint
Paul. Colonel Balagny, who is in command, was away on furlough.
Lieutenant-Colonel Gattelet, who takes his place, is a highly deserving
soldier, who appears to combine strict discipline with the national
urbanity.

I observed with satisfaction that the Mission was very popular at
Saint Paul. When the march of the _Sambre-et-Meuse_ rang out a crowd
assembled to watch the passing of the troops with their French officers
at their head. Intensely proud of this force, the public takes a
delight in cheering them. I was present at a fine review held on the
field of manoeuvres at Varzea de Corma. The soldier of Saint Paul would
figure creditably at Longchamp, for in precision and regularity of
movement he can bear comparison with any. I must add that the Brazilian
officers who second the efforts of the Mission are actuated by a zeal
that merits a large share of the credit of the results.

When I congratulated Colonel Gattelet I felt I ought to inquire whether
he had been obliged to have frequent recourse to punishment in order to
bring the men to the point at which I saw them.

"Punishment!" he said. "I have never had to administer any. I have no
right, for one thing; and if I wanted to punish I should have to ask
the permission of the Minister of War. But I have never had occasion
even to think of such a thing, for all my men are as docile as they are
alert and good-tempered."

I could only admire. It is true we were discussing a select troop, who
enjoy not only special pecuniary advantages but also quarters called by
the vulgar name of barracks, but which, for conveniences, hygiene, and
comfort, far surpass anything that our wretched budgets ever allow us
to offer to the French recruits.

FOOTNOTES:

[53] It was the custom in many plantations to free any negress who
bore six children. The master in such cases had done a good piece of
business.



CHAPTER XIV

BRAZILIAN COFFEE


It is not possible to speak of Brazil, still less of Saint Paul,
without the coffee question cropping up. The fabulous extension
in recent years of the coffee plantations and the crops that have
permitted the present extraordinary accumulation of wealth have drawn
the attention of the whole world to the Brazilian _fazendas_.

Big volumes have been written on the subject, and I gladly refer my
readers to them. There they will find all the figures that I as well
as another might quote, but I adhere to my intention of leaving to
statistics their own special eloquence, and of giving here an account
of only such things as my eyes have seen.

If you want to inspect the Brazilian coffee plantations you have only
to look around you. I can show you the coffee-plant, a shrub between
three and five yards in height, which, for foliage and manner of
growth, bears a strong resemblance to box. The flower is very like
that of the orange-tree, but with a more subtle scent. The fruit,
or "cherry," red at first, then of a brownish colour, contains two
kernels. The characteristic feature of the coffee-plant is to bear
flowers and fruit at the same time, in all stages of maturity, when
once the first flowering is over, providing a spectacle that interested
me greatly. But under these conditions it follows that at whatever
season the harvesting may be carried out the crop is bound to be very
unequal in quality. The only rational way to meet the case would be to
have several harvests each year, but the cost of the proceeding would
not be covered by the difference in the quality obtained. For this
reason the _fazendero_ generally makes but one harvest a year, plucking
at the same time berries of varying quality, from the small rolled
_moka_, which is found on all plants, to the more or less perfect
berries destined for the average consumer. Not that the _fazendero_
makes the mistake of placing on the market a mixture of coffee of all
qualities. When the berries have been dried in the open air on asphalt
floors they are sorted by machinery, and thus seven different kinds are
obtained, whose value naturally depends on their quality.

But, unhappily, the canny dealers who buy the Brazilian product
classified in this way have nothing more pressing to do than to invent
fresh combinations, tending to increase their own profits but, at
the same time, to ruin our palates. Here we have the Bercy mysteries
of wine adulteration imported into the coffee market! We need not be
surprised, therefore, to learn that to some palates coffee is only
drinkable when mixed with chicory, with burnt fig, or roasted oats--the
last more especially appreciated by the North American public. The best
of it is that at home with us Brazilian coffee bears but an indifferent
reputation among the epicures who like only the _moka_ of Santos. I
confess that one of the surprises awaiting me in Brazil was to find
their common coffee infinitely superior to any we get in our best
houses. It is a light beverage, with a subtle, soft scent; and, being
easily digested, it does not produce the usual nervous tension that
causes insomnia. In the hotels and railway-stations of Brazil a cup of
coffee is a perfect joy, not only for its delicacy of flavour but also
for its immediate tonic effect, and cannot be compared with the article
offered in similar places at home. The cups certainly are smaller than
ours, but I fancy the average Brazilian drinks quite five or six in a
day. It is true I did hear "Brazilian excitability" put down to coffee
intoxication, but one would like to know just what this "excitability"
amounts to, and, besides, I am not clear that alcoholic countries have
a right to take up a critical attitude towards coffee-drinkers. Man in
all parts of the world seeks to stimulate his powers, and only succeeds
in obtaining temporary results--which have to be paid for later on in
one way or another, either by a reaction of debility or by hypersthenic
disorders.

No one needs to be astonished, then, to find coffee in every mouth,
both as a drink and as a topic of daily conversation. If it be true
that coffee has made Saint Paul, I can testify that Saint Paul has
repaid the debt. The muscles and the brains of the entire population
are devoted to the same object. Enormous sums of money are invested
in it, large fortunes have been made in it; and when the famous
"valorisation" was operated, it looked as if a fearful catastrophe
were preparing. This is not the moment to dwell upon the economic
conditions of coffee-growing in the States of Saint Paul, Rio, and
Minas-Geraes. I shall confine myself to recommending the reader to
refer to the excellent book that M. Pierre Denis has published on
the subject.[54] As for the "valorisation," a stroke of unparalleled
audacity, it consisted in forbidding the laying out of new plantations
at a moment when the market was menaced with a glut that seemed likely
to bring about a "slump," and in forcing the State of Saint Paul to
purchase the whole of the surplus stock--some eight million bags--and
hold it until prices had recovered their tone, when the article could
be placed gradually on the market at a remunerative figure, the scheme
to be executed by means of a financial operation the details of which
need not be gone into here. This is a piece of advanced State Socialism
which looks like succeeding, contrary to the expectations of the
economists, but which it would be highly imprudent to repeat on any
pretext. As may be imagined, the scheme aroused the keenest opposition,
for in case of failure the risks might have amounted to some hundreds
of millions; but it sufficiently denotes the extraordinary mixture
of audacity and foresight that belongs to Brazilian statesmen. The
perilous honours belong more especially to the President of the State
of Saint Paul, M. Tibiriça, and to Señor Augusto Ramos, a planter of
the Rio State.

As I took a keen interest in the peripatetics of this social drama that
threatened to swallow up both public and private fortunes, I naturally
desired to visit the great laboratory of the _fazendas_, where modern
alchemy transmutes into gold the red earth that contains the mysterious
_diabase_ which is the essential element in coffee-growing.

A member of the Prado family kindly offered to show us his _fazenda_ at
Santa Cruz. The beauties of the landscape were, unhappily, concealed
beneath a haze of fine rain, but man, alas! had done worse--for it is
a disastrous introduction to the glories of the _fazenda_ to cross
smoking tracts of forest on fire. In the distance huge trees were still
blazing, around us was a waste of ashes and of half-consumed boughs,
and the falling rain seemed only to quicken the dying conflagration. In
some of the great green holes were fearful gaping wounds through which
the sap was oozing, while some tall trees still stretched to heaven
their triumphant crown of foliage above a trunk all charred that would
never sprout again. The Brazilians contemplate spectacles such as this
with a wholly indifferent eye, and, indeed, even with satisfaction,
for they see in the ruin only a promise of future harvests. To me the
scene possessed only the horror of a slaughter-house. At least we have
the grace to hide ourselves when we massacre innocent beasts, since an
implacable law of Nature has decreed that life can only be supported on
life. Why can we not hide in the same way the savage destruction of the
beauties of the forest?

Between two harvests the _fazenda_ is a scene of quiet repose. We
witnessed all the different operations--from the drying to the sorting,
and to the final departure of the bags to the Santos warehouses.
Although our tour of inspection was arranged by the proprietor himself,
he was only present on our account. The imposing mansion, the splendid
gardens--all were deserted. The Italian colonist has taken the place of
the slave. The former master, now the employer, is no doubt attracted
towards the city. The overseer looks after the colonists, who are
collected into a village, and the labour is organised as it might be in
a factory. The families seemed prosperous enough beneath their coating
of original dirt. Only babies and pigs were to be seen--scarcely
distinguishable the ones from the others, except that the pigs
occasionally wallowed in a chance pool. This was risky, however, for
the terrible jaws of the crocodile lie in wait on the banks of the
neighbouring pond.

The coffee plantation furnishes occupation for entire families. Men,
women, and children bring equal zeal to bear upon the task of weeding,
which has to be repeated five or six times a year. The prolific Italian
reaps an advantage from the size of his family. Moreover, plots of land
are set apart for him, on which he raises forage for his cattle and
the maize, manioc, and black beans on which he lives. Often, too, he
gets permission to raise his private crops in the open spaces between
the coffee-plants. All the colony is afoot when the time comes to pluck
the berries. The Saint Paul growers claim that they have only a single
crop, all the berries ripening at the same time. I saw them full of
blossom, covered thickly with bouquets of white flowers. But I noticed
also in the sorting-rooms a great irregularity in the grains.

We walked out to the plantations--vast stretches of red earth in which
the shrubs are planted at irregular intervals. Beside the path and
amongst the young plants there were great charred branches rotting in
the sun, the melancholy remains of forest monarchs laid low a dozen
years ago and awaiting final decomposition. Here and there colossal
tree-trunks were still erect, though hemmed in on all sides by the
green bushes whose monotonous uniformity triumphs over the dethroned
sylvan power. Occasionally some forest giant that has escaped by
miracle from the flames raises to the sky its splendid stature, sole
evidence of past splendours. In the bare flatness of the immense
plain covered with the low coffee-plants, where no outstanding feature
provides a scale of measurement, it is difficult to realise the real
dimensions of these relics. It is only when standing actually beneath
a bole that you can estimate its proportions, and a series of "Oh's!"
and "Ah's!" of amazement burst from all lips. One of these trees, whose
trunk was no less than seventy metres in height, had a girth so immense
that eleven men stretching their arms in a circle round it could not
entirely span it. I was told that it was worth from two to three
thousand francs. There would be some expense attached to getting it to
the place where it was wanted.

Still, under a gentle sprinkle of rain, that fell like drops of clear
light, we proceeded towards the great forest, across which a fair
carriage-road has been made. This is not the decaying forest whose
timber feeds the factory furnaces, such as that of Santa Ana or of
Lulès. This was the forest that had stood for countless centuries, as
is shown by Titanesque survivals of those unknown ages, but it remains
the forest eternally young, its vital force still unimpaired by time.
The grand architectural lines of trunks and boughs, where the sunlight
plays tenderly in an unending scale of changing tones upon its depths,
offer a feast for the eyes. Creepers entwine themselves among the
branches, making a thousand fantastic turns and twists, while slender
stems spring like fireworks heavenwards, there to burst into bouquets
of rich blossom. Part only of the monstrous tree-trunks are left
visible. Beneath its inextricable tangle of boughs the _jequiticaba_,
all in white, its spurs and ramparts high enough to conceal a man,
rises high above the rest--a Tower of Babel that has escaped the
destruction of the others.

Yet at our feet there lay a colossus that fell only three days ago, and
seemed to point to the final destiny of all earthly glory. It was no
tempest that had thus laid it low. Healthy, straight, and tall, it had
fallen before it could be weakened by age, simply because the fatality
of the action of underground forces crowding upon it from all sides had
decreed that it should end then and there. We felt it, measured it, and
examined every part of the gigantic corpse, and not one was inclined
to quote the assassin of the Duc de Guise--"I thought it larger." No.
Lying here at our feet it was no less amazing in its might than it had
been in its ephemeral glory. Even in the beauty of death the splendour
of life is impressive. In the clearings, where the slender stems of
tall palms sway their parasol tops in the wind, flocks of large parrots
were busy exchanging opinions as to the reason of our presence; and, if
one may judge by the inflections of their cries, they thought it an ill
omen. In the patches of blue sky visible between the branches we could
see them swirling overhead, uttering loud curses. I had been promised a
glimpse of monkeys, but it appears that our cousins retreat before the
sound of wheels, and only tolerate--at a safe distance--the company of
pedestrians. I thought if I separated from my fellows I might happen
on the sight of one or two. Failing a specimen of the _Pithecanthropus
erectus_ any little chap on four legs would have found a brotherly
welcome. Since none came, why not go after them? But walking is a
dangerous pastime, since at every moment one stands a risk of treading
on a _trigonocephalus_ concealed in the brushwood, here as high as a
man's waist, to say nothing of the fact that there are no landmarks,
and that before I had taken a hundred steps I should have hopelessly
lost my way. I walked about twenty yards, and that calmed my ardour. I
saw neither monkey nor snake. I was not inconsolable, however, for the
Brazilian snakes had no mystery for me.

I saw them in all their forms collected in a charming little garden
which Dr. Vital Brazil has laid out expressly for them at Butantan.
The coral serpent, the _trigonocephalus_, the rattlesnake, glide about
the grass, climb the bushes whose branches effectually conceal them,
or seek the shelter prepared for them in solitary corners. But for
the absence of Mother Eve one might fancy oneself in Eden. I must add
that a moat full of water, with a wall above, renders impossible the
machinations of the Evil One; but I confess I did not go near them,
even under these conditions. Dr. Brazil showed them to me in his
laboratory, preserved in transparent jars, where the aggressive force
of the creeping beast is revealed by means of sectional surgery, and
again in the narrow yard of his menagerie; here one alarming-looking
reptile after another was fished out of its prison on the end of a
stick, and then seized by the throat and forced to choke up its venom
into a small glass.

You may suppose that in all this Dr. Brazil has some plan. You are
right, and it is worth explaining. He is engaged in a quest after
a cure for snake-bites, or even perhaps for some way of rendering
humanity immune. Brazil and India have a specialty of the most venomous
of snakes. Dr. Brazil, who spends his life in their company, declares
that even the most deadly species is without hostile feeling for man.
No one has ever been attacked by a snake. His poison (I refer to the
snake) permits him to paralyse instantaneously the prey destined for
his food. But if by mistake you walk on his tail he is carried away
by a desire for reprisals. I do not want to argue about it. It is
sufficient to state that some hundreds of Brazilians and some thousands
of Indians whose pleasure it is to walk barefoot in the forests die
annually from the deadly sting of this philanthropist whom they have
unwittingly annoyed, notwithstanding the humanitarian opinions of
snakes in general. This is the evil for which Dr. Brazil is trying to
find a remedy.

The Butantan Institute, half an hour distant from Saint Paul,
prepares antidiphtheric and antitetantic serums, but its specialty
is the antiophidic serum. Dr. Calmette was the first to discover a
method of procuring immunity, but the serum of the Lille Institute,
prepared from the poison of Indian cobras, proved, in the hands of
Dr. Brazil, powerless against the Brazilian rattlesnake. In this way
Dr. Brazil made the discovery that each South American species had a
special poison, the serum of which took no effect on other poisons.
Accordingly, at Butantan three different serums are prepared--two
act on special species, and the third, called "polyvalent," is used
in cases where the owner of the poison has omitted when stinging his
victim to leave his visiting-card and thus establish his identity--the
most common case.[55] But Dr. Brazil is not satisfied to cure or
render immune those who seek ophidic inoculation. He has discovered a
superprovidential serpent, which, having no poison of its own and being
invulnerable to the stings of its kind, renders them all innocuous to
humanity by eating them. This is the friendly _mussurana_. They offered
him to me for inspection, and he looked neither better nor worse than
the _trigonocephalus_--I should not at all like to find him in my bed.
I tried to coax him, however, to munch a poisonous comrade. He had
just breakfasted, and wanted only to sleep. Dr. Pozzi, luckier than
myself, had the pleasure of seeing him swallow a certain _jaracaca_,
whose slightest caress is deadly. The story has been published in the
_Figaro_. How must we regard this phenomenon unless as a freak of
Nature? To try to multiply the _mussurana_ in order to exterminate
rattlesnakes seems to me a dangerous experiment. Dr. Brazil has not yet
succeeded in obtaining a single young one, and for my part I cannot yet
see man and the _mussurana_ living in harmony together.

As a final surprise, we were informed that Dr. Bettencourt Rodriguez
had obtained some excellent results by treating yellow fever with
antitoxic serum. The most certain method seems, however, to suppress
the mosquito, the propagator of the disease, as Rio and Santos have
done.

Santos, now a healthy city, is an agreeable place whose only mission
is to receive the coffee from Saint Paul and export it to all the
continents of the world. We had a brief look at it as we passed,
and saw enough to wish to return there. But this time, instead of
approaching by sea, we descended upon it from the plateau, 2500 feet
in altitude, which shuts the city in with its salt marshes, bounded by
mountain and sea, using the famous electric railway which is celebrated
throughout the world for the picturesque moving panorama it offers to
travellers. From an industrial point of view the port is not equipped
to cope with the present traffic, statistics for 1908 showing that
109 ships left its quays, carrying 50 millions of kilogrammes of
coffee--three quarters of the total output of the world. As for the
Brazilian _floresta_, it is difficult to judge of it at a distance.
I was placed on a little balcony in front of the motor, between the
Minister of the Interior of Saint Paul and Señor Augusto Ramos, and
thus enjoyed an unrivalled point of view, while, at the same time,
I was relieved from feeling any excess of heat. Mountains, valleys,
forest-clad slopes--it might have been Switzerland or the Pyrenees,
and I have assuredly no inclination to belittle either. Yet what a
difference from the impression produced by a walk in any part of the
forest, where every step lifts you to an ecstasy of admiration. Shall
I confess it? The railway stations, melancholy halting-places on the
mountain, have left the best souvenir in my mind. In the first place,
there were rows of cups of coffee awaiting us there--coffee which
revives and refreshes a traveller and perfumes the air with an aroma
unknown in Europe. Then, and still better, there were delicate orchids
climbing over the verandas, irradiating showers of warm light, and left
there out of respect for one of Nature's _chefs d'oeuvre_, for they ill
support the fatigue of railway travelling. The orchid season was just
beginning when I left Brazil. What I could see of it in the forest,
where the earth was piled up with all kinds of decaying vegetation
which the marvellous harvest was already preparing, delighted me, for
such beauty gains much from being viewed in its natural setting. And in
the desolate railway stations, from all these wood chips, there spring
sheaves of vivid colours transforming everything, as if the yawning
rags of some beggar revealed a fabulously rich treasure.

For the Brazilian flora has extraordinary resources. When I crossed
the Bay of Santos to take the tramway, which runs in twenty minutes to
Guaruja beach, I had no idea that the pleasure of the journey could
excel that of my first arrival. The Guaruja beach is extremely fine. It
lies in a frame of rocks and forests, and in its fine sands it filters
the high waves that rush in from the open sea in magnificent cascades
of fury, which suddenly melt away into great rings of pacified foam.
But how find words to express the enchantment of the road! The low
shores of Santos Bay are but a broad marsh, where a frail vegetation
rejected by the forest has full sway. On both sides of the road there
is an ever-changing sorcery of leaf and blossom in the most lurid
of hues. Not an inch of space between two boughs but is promptly
filled by stem, bud, creeper, parasite, and some kind of growth,
large or small. Trees that are wasting beneath the cruel tendrils
eating into their flesh don a robe of orchids. Cannas make patches of
flaming scarlet in the thickest part of the brushwood, and the wild
banana-palm lifts a tall head from above the two-cornered spirals
of saffron-coloured flowers, which gives an effect like monstrous
crustaceans warring with the branches--a wild scene, in which it looks
as if all the forces of terrestrial fecundity were convulsed in one
impudent spasm.

Just as I was closing my visit to Brazil, with great regret at leaving
so much unseen, I had accepted an invitation from Señor Teixeria
Soarès, the owner of a _fazenda_ in the State of Minas Geraes. Señor
Soarès is the manager of a railway company besides being devoted to
land and its fruitful joys. Modest and quiet, he tries to efface
himself socially, but his methodical and clear mind is attracted by
every big problem, and forces him into the front rank of all the
different enterprises which are an honour to his country. I was greatly
impressed by the way he spoke of his _fazenda_, the management of
which he has confided to his son. It was easy to see that he had
centred there, if not the best of his energy, at least the highest
pleasure that can be derived from the collaboration of man with the
soil. When I inquired of one of the _fazenderos_ whether it was true,
as Señor Soarès boasted, that he grew the best coffee in Brazil, and
obtained for it the highest market prices, I was told that the fact
could not be disputed, but that Señor Soarès had the reputation of
spending more on his coffee than it could bring in. I could not help
fancying the words covered an acknowledgment of inferiority. Idealism,
in agriculture as elsewhere, is apt to be costly. It may not, however,
exclude the active qualities that make for success. Señor Soarès
devotes himself more particularly to the improvement of coffee-plants
and the raising of new species. Now it was said that he had got from
an horticulturist (of Montmartre) a certain plant with whose fame the
world would shortly ring. He wanted me to open the new plantation, and
as an ex-Montmartrois, I certainly could not refuse the invitation.

I shall say nothing of the journey. As usual, there were miles of
forest destroyed by fire. In the villages cabins and colonial houses
were scattered about on the river banks amongst great groves of trees.
The Parahyba made amends for the melancholy waste of the land by its
innumerable rocky headlands, its tree-stems, its islets where a note of
beauty was lent by the brilliant plumage of birds.

Small, impatient horses were waiting for us at the station, and
seated in "_boggies_" that bounded over the deep ruts of the road, we
passed through woods where large-leaved creepers made a magnificent
stage-setting which only ended in the acropolis of Santa Alda. This
rustic baronial hall, that belongs to days of slavery, is set on the
summit of an eminence which commands a tangle of valleys, and it offers
a comfortable simplicity of arrangement clothed in an avalanche of
flowers. Wide verandas, colonnades, arches, are all overgrown with
multi-coloured bouquets that are perpetually in flower, and under the
rays of the sun distil a delicate ambiance of scented prisms. The
impression is one of charm as well as of force, and when the young
planter, accompanied by the pleasant queen of the domain with her group
of small children, is seen in this background of rustic nobility, you
are conscious of a fine harmony between man and Nature. The strains
of the _Marseillaise_ burst out, as we crossed the threshold, from
instruments concealed in the plantation. It was a greeting to France
that was touching enough from these Africans, but yesterday ground down
in an odious slavery and to-day the free and light-hearted comrades of
a man who by his kindly ways has retained the little colony in a place
where the associations must be painful enough.

The attraction of the gardens is too strong to be resisted, and we
wander out, strolling amidst the clumps of tall, brilliantly coloured
plants, anon gazing in rapt admiration at the warm line of the distant
hills which hold up against the gorgeous crimson of the sunset a
delicate fringe of palm foliage, or watching the hummingbirds which
chase each other in the branches and form a dancing cohort of glowing
brands. When night fell a golden light pervaded the atmosphere. We
did not go in until we had taken a look at the stud, which boasts
some of the finest English sires, and we wound up the evening by an
amusing performance by an agreeable African conjurer, who gave an
explanation in French of all his tricks and was clad in gentlemanly
attire--frock-coat, white tie, tan shoes, all the latest style of the
_Floresta_.

To-morrow, a good hour before sunrise, we are to start for a last visit
to the Brazilian forest, and although a heartless doctor has forbidden
me riding exercise, I have not the strength of mind to refuse the
expedition. They set me accordingly upon a plank, having a high wheel
on either side, and soon I taste the joys of football, not as player,
but as ball, leaping with its round elasticity heavenwards after a
vigorous kick. And the pleasure of bounding upwards is as nothing to
the austere sensation of falling back again on the implacable boot
sole. In this fashion I was rolled through a series of black holes
which I was told would appear in the sunlight to be valleys. As luck
would have it, we presently came upon a hill that had to be climbed,
and my courser dropped to a footpace. The violent shocks of the
earlier part of the journey now gave place to a comparatively simple
sensation that suggested an anvil beneath the blows of a hammer. Then
the day broke. Señor Soarès, junior, who watched my progress from
the back of a tall steed, pointed out his first experiments with
rubber-plants and with cocoa, and described his coffee-gardens, of
which I had already seen some specimens. The sufferings of the lower
part of my person now gave way to the admiration of the higher as I
mentally compared the wretched, stunted lives in our cities with the
wide freedom of existence led by this high-spirited youth who was
wrestling out here in the glorious sunshine with the exuberant forces
of a fruitful Nature which he is certain to master in time. O you, my
French brethren who in alpaca coats sit eternally on your stools, bent
over useless documents, know that the earth has not yet exhausted her
gifts, learn that there is another life, free from the anæmic, cramping
condition which you know! This thought was still in my mind when we
turned our reins across the moors that led to the coffee plantations,
where dried palm-leaves protect the young shoots from the heat of the
sun, and where the new species derived from a plant grown on the sacred
hill of Montmartre-en-Paris is being carefully cultivated. Come out
here, young men in shiny threadbare sleeves who make your way homewards
nightly to the close dens around the Sacré Coeur; come and see these
black coffee-planters--men, women, and children--living close to
Nature on the outskirts of civilisation, and compare your own wretched
quarters furnished by Dufayel on the "hire" system, that has cost you
such anxious moments, with the blissful nudity of these cabins, and
tell me where you see the worst form of slavery, here amongst the newly
emancipated Africans or at home under your own roofs.

The forest! the forest! I have seen it once and again, but I could
never tire of it, and my great regret is that I cannot come back
again to it. The sun has made its sudden appearance on the scene,
glowing like a violent conflagration, and a thousand voices from the
winged population of the woods have greeted him, singing the joy of
light returned. Everywhere is the same eternal hymn to life. I was
shown a small bird whose female dances round her spouse as soon as
he begins to pour forth his love serenade in joyous notes. Blue and
yellow toucans dazzle us with their splendour. Valleys filled with
colossal ferns open out in the daylight their unexpected vistas of
a delirious vegetation. I ask after the monkeys. Alas! they do not
leave their retreats before two o'clock in the afternoon. They only
arrive for five o'clock tea! But for no inducement would they leave
their dressing-rooms until the sun has gone down to the horizon. When
you have once seen the heart of the forest wilderness, where the same
luxuriant life in manifold manifestations is to be seen at your feet
and in the high tree and hilltops, where profusely flowering creepers
wind themselves around every twig and bough, placing these forest kings
in tender bondage, you will not blame the monkeys for being content to
remain in their sumptuous domain. I was shown fruit half eaten, the
refuse of a monkeys' restaurant. I can well believe it. A wood-cutter
told me he was attacked yesterday by a dozen, who were so pertinacious
that he had to defend himself with his stick. Thus, though I never saw
a monkey, I did see a man who had seen one.

At last we reached a waterfall which was, it appears, the limit of our
excursion. On our way back we came to a difficult crossing, and as my
horse was even more exhausted than myself by the rough treatment he had
given me, he was taken out of the shafts, and a swarm of some eleven
negroes pulled and pushed me along, with bursts of laughter at their
performance. But for their chuckles, I might have fancied myself some
Roman victor arriving in triumph. It lasted only ten minutes, but I
should have been covered with confusion had some chance cinematograph
been on the spot to reproduce the scene. This misfortune was spared
me. Thanks to the fact, I take the pleasure of holding myself up to
ridicule.

The ceremony of inaugurating the Montmartre coffee-plant took place
half-way. The operation is less difficult than might be thought. I
climbed up a slope from whose top I could see rows of holes, with heaps
of coffee-plants, their roots carefully wrapped up, and each in a small
basket by itself, lying at intervals over the prepared ground. One of
these baskets with its young green stem was offered to me, I stuck it
in the first hole that came handy, and thus the glory of Montmartre,
like that of Brazil, reached its apogee.

I do not know what will become of _my_ coffee enterprise at Santa Alda.
It is more certain that Señor Soarès has begun to manure his land
instead of merely scattering the shells of the berries over it. It
is possible that the Brazilian _fazenderos_ will be a little worried
by this example, seeing in it only a way of increasing expenses. But
the established fact that Señor Soarès's coffees are in great demand
seems a curious coincidence, for no one can suppose he amuses himself
in this way for the fun of losing his money. When I left Santa Alda,
I carried with me a pretty collection of canes made from the finest
woods produced on the _fazenda_, and on board the _Principe Umberto_,
which brought me back to Europe, I discovered a chest of coffee, which
enabled me to give my kind hosts the authentic testimony of a consumer.

The _Principe Umberto_ is in every way like the _Regina Elena_, as
indeed she ought to be considering her origin. There are the same
comfortable arrangements, the same excellent service, the same Latin
courtesy from the officers. We had two adventures on the voyage. A
madman threw himself into the sea one night. The siren shrieked the
alarm. A boat put off but returned after a fruitless search. I was
told that this was a typical "return" case. On the way out Hope holds
us by the hand. To make one's way back, after disappointments, is for
human weakness perhaps a sore trial. We do not all get to Corinth.
Let us pity those who make this an excuse for never setting out. The
commissary told me the story of one third-class passenger, all in rags,
who deposited with him when he came on board the sum of 150,000 francs.
There are evidently compensations.

The second adventure was more general in interest. It took the form of
a strike among the coal-heavers of St. Vincent. The harbour, with its
border of bare rock, lay still and deserted. A few saucy niggers dived
for our edification after coins flung from the ship. But that was all,
neither white nor black man appeared, for the order had been given that
no one should come off to meet us and we on our side were forbidden
to land. We need not be astonished if the first lesson learnt by the
blacks from their white "superiors" is that of violence preached by
grandiloquent politicians, trembling inwardly with fear, but, none the
less, tenacious in their inglorious arguments. The negroes have the
excuse of having reached our civilisation late in the day. Are we too
exigent when we implore the whites to preach by example?

We coal at Las Palmas, the capital of the Grand Canary. As other
boats are there ahead of us, we are obliged to spend an entire day in
harbour. We land, therefore. The "Happy Isles" have inherited from the
ancients such a reputation that some disappointment is inevitable. Seen
from the sea, the Canaries show only a cluster of arid rocks devoid
of vegetation. Las Palmas is a picturesque town whose palms can but
inspire an amiable benevolence in people who have seen Brazil. The
country is purely African in character. Square white houses without
windows, banana-groves down in the valleys, hills of calcined stones.
After an hour or two along a road that is thick with dust, you reach
a pretty restaurant standing in a garden whose exotic vegetation would
be charming if one had never seen the Riviera. The canary of the
islands that is said to abound revealed itself to me in the guise of a
vulgar chattering sparrow. Yet the boatmen who boarded our ship offered
authentic canaries in cages hung from a long rod, but I was told they
had been procured from Holland. These birds have a particularly sweet
song, and they sing to order, oddly enough. It is enough to shout to
the seller, "Your canary does not sing," for the birds to burst into
a flood of trills and turns. It is the triumph of a songster with the
imitative faculty. Buyer and seller both are taken in and the greatest
_serin_ (canary, also used to mean "duffer") is not the one you might
think.

Before I take my leave of the reader, I want to say a word for the
creation of a line of fast ships making the journey between France
and South America. So little space remains to me that I cannot treat
the subject as I should like. The case is simple; formerly the French
line was very popular, but it has allowed itself to be entirely
outdistanced by other companies who have built more rapid boats while
we continue to send our old vessels over the sea. The contract held by
the Messageries Maritimes expires in 1912. By some culpable negligence
no steps have been taken to improve the service or even to continue it.
The matter cannot rest there. If we are to enlarge our dealings with
South America, it is of capital importance to France to have a service
of rapid boats fitted up on the most comfortable of modern lines.

I shall venture to make a brief extract here from a report that I got
my friend Edmond Théry to make out for me, since his authority in
matters economic is universally known.

For the last twenty years there has been a prodigious increase of
production and public wealth in the two Americas. This fact accounts
for the enormously increased proportion of travellers to Europe drawn
from North America, Mexico, Brazil, the Argentine, etc. The proof is
that the luxurious hotels springing up anew almost daily in Paris and
on the Riviera to cater for this class of customer are always crowded.

Brazil and the Argentine Republic have more especially profited by
the rise in value of their land. In the course of the last ten years,
from 1900 to 1909, their working railways have gone up from 14,027
kilometres to 19,080 in Brazil, and from 16,563 to 25,508 kilometres in
the Argentine Republic.

These 13,998 kilometres of new lines (46 per cent. increase since 1900)
have opened the door to agriculture, cattle-breeding, forestry, in
immense and hitherto desert regions, and the results of this may be
traced in the increase of their foreign trade:


FOREIGN TRADE OF BRAZIL AND THE ARGENTINE REPUBLIC IN TEN YEARS.

  ------------------+----------+----------+-----------------------
                    |   1900   |   1909   |Total increase in 1909.
                    | Millions | Millions | Millions |
                    |of Francs.|of Francs.|of Francs.| Per Cent.
                    |----------+----------+----------+------------
  Brazil            |          |          |          |
    Imports         |    634   |    935   |    301   |     47
    Exports         |    836   |  1,606   |    770   |     92
                    |----------+----------+----------+------------
          Total     |  1,470   |  2,541   |  1,071   |     73
                    |----------+----------+----------+------------
  Argentine Republic|          |          |          |
    Imports         |    567   |  1,514   |    947   |    167
    Exports         |    773   |  1,987   |  1,214   |    157
                    |----------+----------+----------+------------
          Total     |  1,340   |  3,501   |  2,161   |    161
  ------------------+----------+----------+----------+------------

Thus during a short period of ten years the exports--_i. e._, the
surplus of home-grown articles after supplying the needs of the
country--have increased in value by 770 millions of francs, 90 per
cent., for Brazil, and 1214 millions, or 157 per cent., for the
Argentine Republic. As for the total value of the foreign trade of the
two countries, it has risen 1071 millions of francs for the former
and 2161 millions for the latter: in other words, an average of 107
millions of francs per annum for Brazil and 216 millions for the
Argentine.

These startling figures show clearly enough the importance of the
economic advance the two countries are making, and we may say that
French capital has built up this prosperity.

We ought now to seek to retain the advantages to be drawn from our
financial intervention in the new Brazilian and Argentine undertakings,
and one of the best ways to attain this end is to make sure of rapid
means of communication between France and the two great South American
Republics, which shall be up-to-date in every way and luxurious enough
to induce Brazilians and Argentinos to come to Europe and return to
their own country in French boats rather than in English, German, or
Italian vessels.

Such means of communication are already in existence between France and
the United States, but are wholly lacking in the direction of Brazil
and the Argentine Republic.

The French boats which call at these stations have been a long time
in use, and their fittings are in no sense in conformity with modern
ideas of luxury such as the class of travellers to which I have already
alluded invariably expects. As for their average speed, it certainly
never goes beyond fourteen knots, for they make the journey from
Bordeaux to Rio de Janeiro, with the different scheduled stops by the
way, in a minimum of seventeen days, and if they go on as far as Buenos
Ayres, in twenty-two days.

The distance between Bordeaux and these two ports being 4901 and 5991
nautical miles respectively, it is only necessary to have boats capable
of doing twenty knots as an average, or twenty-three miles an hour,
for the journey to Rio de Janeiro to be performed in ten days and five
hours, and that to Buenos Ayres in twelve days fifteen hours.

There is nothing to add to this clear statement of the case.

*       *       *       *       *

And now, how can I resist the temptation to draw some sort of
conclusion from these rambling notes, made with the sole desire to make
use of the knowledge acquired for the benefit of French extension,
and this in the interest of humanity at large? In every calling there
is but one road to success--work. When Candide returned from Buenos
Ayres, he brought back from his travels the lesson that we must work in
our gardens. Since his days our gardens have grown considerably, and
since we are ourselves the first elemental instrument for all work, the
first condition of improvement must be the improvement of the material.
Therefore let us work.

FOOTNOTES:

[54] "Brazil," by Pierre Denis. Translated by Bernard Miall. London: T.
Fisher Unwin.

[55] The reader who desires further information will find it in the
article written by my travelling companion, Dr. Segard, on the Butantan
Institute.



INDEX


  A

  Aborigines of Patagonia, _n._ 52-54

  Agricultural Society of Buenos Ayres, the shows of, 78-79

  Agriculture:
    Waste entailed by system in vogue in the Pampas, 364
    Wasteful Brazilian methods, 364-66, 376-78
    _See_ Cattle, Cereals, Coffee, Horses, Pampas, _etc._

  Alcorta, Señor Figueroa, President of the Argentine Republic, 180

  Algeciras Conference, 67

  Alienism, _see_ Open Door, The

  America, South:
    Impressions of, iii
    Cities of, vii, viii
    Architecture, vii
    Races of, viii
    Early culture, ix
    People of, unjustly ridiculed, 62-63
    Produce of, 73-75

  America, United States of, 64

  Americans, South, characteristics of, 11-12

  Anarchists, 85
    Russian, 86
    Oppressive measures against, 88-89

  Argentine Exposition, 69-70

  Argentine Republic, The, 18-20
    Arrival in, 27-28
    Maté, trade of, 45-46
    Agricultural produce, 75-76
    Foreigners in, 81
    Patriotism, 91-93
    Powers of assimilation, 94-97
    Officials, 113-14
    Types and manners, 142-74
    Women of, 151-56
    Exaggerated conventionality of society, 155-56
    Girls of, 158-59
    Fathers, 160
    Gambling, 161-62
    Land speculation in, 162
    Cookery, 173-74
    Politics, 175-203
    Parliament, 184-86
    The Executive, 188-89
    The Press, 191-92
    Society, 201-3
    The Pampas, 204-32

  Argo, Alpha of, 16

  Aristocracy of Brazil, 355-56

  Armadillo, The (_tatou_), 114

  Army, The Brazilian, 342

  Arrowheads, Primitive, _n._ 53-56

  Arts, The, in the Argentine, 58-62

  Asylums:
    Excellence of, in the
    Argentine, 114
    For aged, 123
    For widows, 124
    For lunatics, 124-35

  Avenida Central, Rio, 325


  B

  Bacteriological research, 345-47

  Ball, Official, at Rio, 359

  Band, Oriental, 18
    _See_ Uruguay.

  Bangu, Factories at, 364-65

  Battleships, Extensive purchases of, 291

  Belgrano, General, _n._ 59

  Betting in the Argentine, 166-67

  Black Pot, The, 14

  Bon Vista, 368

  Botanical Gardens:
    Of Buenos Ayres, 38-40, 44
    Of Rio, 368

  Bouvard, M., 57

  Brazil, 144, (226-425)
    Recent troubles in, 178
    Domestic architecture, _n._ 318, 321
    French culture in, 331
    Products of, 333
    Politics, 337
    Federal Government, 342
    Saint Paul, 341-42
    Society, 352-63
    Planters, 356
    Women of, 358
    Agricultural methods, 364-66
    _See_ Coffee, Rio de Janeiro, Saint Paul

  Brazil, Dr., his antitoxins for snake-bites, 403-4

  Buckle, his prophecy relating to Brazil, 143-44

  Buenos Ayres, 26-141
    Elevators of, 26-27
    City, 28
    Architecture, 29
    Docks, 32-33
    Slaughter-houses, 34-35, 74-79
    Excessive population, 85
    Schools, 115-16
    Asylums and prisons, 98-140

  Buenos Ayres, Fair of, 79

  Butantan (Sero-therapeutical Institute), 403


  C

  Cabred, Dr., alienist, 128-29

  Calval, 321

  Campo, The Argentine:
    Men of, 207-9
    Drought in, 213-14
    Fauna of, 220-21
    Morals of, 225

  Canaries, The, 420

  Cape Verde Islands, 5

  Cattle:
    Exaggerated sums paid for, 74, 163
    Herds of the Argentine Pampas, 206-9
    Decimated by drought, 213-15, 246, 264

  Cedar, False, 76

  Cereals, 74, 75, 260

  Cerro, The, 24-25

  Church, The, in Brazil, 374

  Cinematograph, The, 198

  Clover, Giant, 75

  Coal, Absence of, in the Argentine, 31

  Coaling at St. Vincent, 10

  Cobras, Las (island), Mutiny on, 335, 342

  Coffee (389-94)
    The shrub, 389-90
    Harvest, 390
    Valorisation of, 393
    Plantations, 394-99

  Columbus, iii-v

  Conscription as affecting the French in South America, 97-99

  Cookery in the Argentine, 173-74

  Corcovado, 369-72

  Creole balls, 231

  Creole beauty, A, 279-82

  Cruz, Dr. Oswaldo, Valuable medical services of, 343-48


  D

  Dances of the Pampas, 321

  Dancing, 285

  Democracy, M. Clémenceau's lectures on, 200

  Divorce in Uruguay, 299

  Dolphins, 13


  E

  Education:
    In the Argentine, 114-18
    In Uruguay, 312-14

  Emigrants:
    Italian, 2, 7
    Yearly, 2
    Syrians, 7

  Emigration to Brazil prohibited on account of abuses, 366

  England:
    At International Exposition of Buenos Ayres, 69-70
    Her industrial rôle in South America, 70

  English:
    In the Argentine, 100
    In Patagonia, 105-6
    As builders of railways, 183

  Estancias:
    Of the Argentine, 75
    Of the Pampas, 224, 235-47

  Estanciero, The, 237
    His habit of enlarging his holdings, 237-38
    His life, 238-44


  F

  Faction fights disappearing, 177

  Family life in the Argentine, 150-51

  Fauna of the Campo, 220-21

  Fazenda, The Brazilian, 356, 408-17

  Fazendero, The, 356

  Ferri, Prof. Enrico, 107-8

  Finger-print system, 89-90

  Flax, 74

  Flying-fish, 14

  Fonseca, Marshal Hermès da, President of the Brazilian Republic, 328

  Forest:
    The South American, 276-78
    The Brazilian, 366
    Destruction of, 376-78, 414-15

  Forestry, Need of competent, 77

  France:
    At the International Exposition of Buenos Ayres, 70
    Failure of her capitalists to realise their opportunity in South
      America, 70
    Military law of, as affecting the French in South America, 96-99

  French colony, The, in the Argentine, 93, 94-97
    As engineers, 183

  French school at Tucuman, 287

  French theatre at Tucuman, 286

  French Military Mission to Saint-Paul, 329, 386


  G

  Game on the Pampas, 247-52

  Gaucho, The, 73, 207-9, 223-24, 228-30

  Genoa, scenes in harbour, 1, 3

  Germans in the Argentine, 100

  Gramophones, 225

  Groussac, P., 57
    His adventures, 100-3
    As a Spanish author, 102
    Founds the public library, 102
    Personality, 102-5
    Groussac, de, 101-3

  Guanaco, The, 221

  Guiraldès, Señor, City Lieutenant of Buenos Ayres, 112


  H

  Half-breeds, Life of, 271-75, 334

  Harbour works, 183
    _See_ Rosario, Montevideo

  Hares on the Pampas, 247

  Harvesters, Italian, 84

  Hilleret, M., sugar-planter, 270-71, 284

  Horse-racing, 165-68

  Horses:
    At the Buenos Ayres Horse show, 74
    Of the Pampas, 207-8, 217-18
    Curious power of finding their way home after revolutions, 228-29
    Methods of breaking, 241-43

  Hospitals:
    Excellence of, 114, 121
    The "Open Door" for insane patients, 103, 124-32
    Rivadavia Hospital, 122

  Hotels, 170-71

  House of Independence, The, 286

  Huret, Jules, 257


  I

  Idealism, Latin, 63-65

  Immigration, 84-85

  Indian blood in the Argentine, 111, 145-47

  Indians, South American, _n._ 53, _n._ 56

  Individualism, characteristic of South American constitutions, 190

  Insurrections, Danger of, in the Argentine, 179

  International Exposition at Buenos Ayres, 69-70

  Isabella, the Infanta, Visit of, 110-11

  Italians in Brazil, 355, 396-97


  J

  Jacques, outlaw and educationalist, 101

  Japanese in Brazil, 348-49

  Jefferson, 64

  _Jettatore_, Belief in, 181

  Jockey Clubs of Buenos Ayres, 163-66


  L

  La Plata, 17, 25, 56-8

  Lakaluf Indians, _n._ 55

  Land:
    Increase of value upon cultivation, 75
    Speculation in, 161

  Las Cobras, Island of, mutiny on, 335, 342

  Larreta, E. R., novelist and Argentine Minister in Paris, 56

  Law of Literary Property, 199-200

  Law Schools, 120

  Liguria, 4

  Literature of the Argentine, _n._ 58

  Llamas, 221

  Locusts, 219

  Lulès, 284


  M

  Manguinhos Institute (sero-therapeutical), 345-47

  Mar del Plato, 37

  Martinette, The, 248-52

  Maté, 44-6
    Secret of growth from seed, 45

  Meat, frozen, 79

  Medicine, 120-22
    French culture of doctors, 123
    Protective regulations, 123
    Sero-therapeutical Institute, 345-47

  Middle classes, Abstention of, from politics, 188

  Military service, French and Argentine, 96-98

  _Minas Geraes_, battleship, mutiny on, 335, 342

  Miscegenation, 147-48, 334

  Monroe Doctrine, 66-67

  Montevideo, 18
    Docks, 20
    City, 21
    Architecture, 21-22
    Harbour, 292

  Moreno, Moriano, _n._ 59, 102

  Morra, 14-15

  Motor-cars:
    In the Campo, 245
    Shooting from, 248-49

  _Mussurana_, a cannibal snake, 404


  O

  Ombu-tree, The, 40-42, 219-20

  Onas Indians, _n._ 55

  Onelli, Señor, Director of Buenos Ayres Zoölogical Gardens, 48-53

  "Open Door," The, asylum for insane, 124-35

  Ornevo (cardinal bird), 221

  Ostrich, The, 51, 221

  Owl, The prairie, 223, 255


  P

  Palermo (racecourse), 38, 53-54

  Pampas, The:
    Life on, 204-32
    Enormous herds of, 210-12

  _Pampero_, The, 17, 73

  Pan-American Congress, 65-67

  Parana, the, 26, 260

  Partridges, 248-51

  Patagonians, Account of, by Señor Onelli, _n._ 52-56

  Peçanha, President, 332

  Pellegrini, President, an _insoumis_, 99

  Peña, President, 107, 182

  Penguins, 50

  Petropolis, 373-74

  Photographers in the home, 198-99

  Police, Argentine, 89

  Politics, 176-77, 189
    In Uruguay, 300-1
    In Brazil, 336-39

  Polyvalent serum for snake-bite, 403

  Prado _fazenda_, The, 394-95

  Press, Power of the, 191-92, 193-98, 304

  Prisons, 137-41

  Protectionism in the medical world, 123


  Q

  Québracho, 32, 40

  Quintana, the late President, 181


  R

  _Rabat_, a method of hunting hares, 248

  Race-course, Palermo, 38

  Railways, 183, 422

  _Rastaquouère_, The, 62

  Reds of Uruguay, The, 178
    Garibaldi's shirt borrowed from, _n._ 300

  Refrigerator industry, The, 79, 216

  Revolution, The French, x.

  Revolutions:
    South American, things of the past, 179
    Method of raising men, 227, 266
    In Uruguay, 300

  Rio Bay, 321-27

  Rio Branco, Baron de, 328

  Rio de Janeiro, 322-51
    Aspect of city, 325-29
    From Corcovado, 371

  Roca, President, 102

  Rosario:
    Cattle show at, 79, 259
    Docks, 262
    Deficiency of schools, 263

  Rosas, dictator, _n._ 59


  S

  St. Lazare, prison, 113

  St. Paul (_Saõ Paolo_), 379-81
    Government of, 382
    City, 384

  _St. Paul_ (_Saõ Paolo_), battleship, mutiny on, 335, 342

  St Vincent, coaling station, 8, 9, 418

  St. Vincent, Brazil, 320

  San Martin, 59

  Santos, Shipments of coffee at, 319, 398-407

  Santos Bay, 407

  Santos River, 317

  Sarmiento, _n._ 59, 101

  Schools:
    In the Argentine, 115-18
    Secondary, 119
    Training College of St. Paul, 385-87

  Sculpture, Abundance of mediocre, in Buenos Ayres, 58-60

  Sera:
    Preparation of, 345-46
    Snake antitoxins, 402-3

  Sheep, in Patagonia, 106

  Shipping, lines to South America, 421, 423-24

  Siesta unknown to Brazil, 320

  Slavery:
    In Brazil, Abolition of, 353-54
    Evils and advantages of, 358

  Snakes, of Brazil, 401-4

  Soarès, Señor, his model _fazenda_, 408-9

  Southern Cross, The, 16

  Spain, influence of her traditions, 109-11

  Sport in the Pampas, 248-55

  Stone Age, The, _n._ 53-54

  Sugar-cane, Fields of, 273


  T

  Tchuleches Indians, 53

  Telegraphy, Wireless, 9

  Thays, M.:
    Director of Parks, etc., at Buenos Ayres, 38-39
    His proposal for national park, 39, 44-55

  Theatre at Rio, 361

  Theresopolis, 375

  Tierra del Fuego, Natives of, _n._ 55

  Timber:
    Lack of, in Argentina, 32, 76
    Improvident destruction of, 76

  Trade of Argentina and Brazil, 422-23

  Training College, St. Paul, 385-87

  Tucuman, 268, 286-87
    The French at, 286-88


  U

  Uruguay, 18, (289-315)
    Revolutions in, 19
    President of, 20, 23-24
    Morals of, 22
    Whites and Reds of, 178
    Curious domestic architecture, 295
    Laws (reformed), 298-99
    Revolutions, 300
    Whites and Reds, 300
    Insecurity of life during political disputes, 301
    The Press, 304
    Idealism, 308-9

  Uruguay Club, The, 303

  Uruguay River, The, 26


  V

  Valorisation of coffee, 393

  Viana, Island of, 348-50

  Voltaire, played 900 miles from the coast in 1780, ix., 333

  Voyage, Impressions of the, 5-10


  W

  White, Mr. Henry, 57

  Whites, The, of Uruguay, 178, 300

  Williman, Señor, President of Uruguay, 23-24, 297


  Y

  Yellow fever, at Santos, and extirpation of, 319
    The work of Dr. Cruz at Rio, 343-45

  _Yerba-maté_, 44-46


  Z

  Zoölogical Gardens, Buenos Ayres, 48-49



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Transcriber's note:

Some presumed printer's errors were corrected. In particular, several
inconsistencies in spelling were found between the Index and the text to
which it referred. In these cases, Index entries were changed to match
the main text. Other inconsistencies, particularly in the advertisements
at the end, were retained as printed.

The oe-ligature has been replaced in this version by the letters oe.

The following is a list of changes made from the original. The first
line shows the original text; the second line is the corrected text as
it appears in this e-book.

  According to Homeric song. it was from p. 12-13
  According to Homeric song, it was from

  the nets of the fishermen. p. 13
  the nets of the fishermen."

  'I will Footnote 13 p. 131
  'I will'

  loc cit. Footnote 14 p. 134
  loc. cit.

  vimdas p. 268
  viudas

  Children moving about an all fours p. 272
  Children moving about on all fours

  concidence  p. 317
  coincidence

  similiar p. 345
  similar

  Arrow-heads  Index
  Arrowheads

  Fazendeiro  Index
  Fazendero

  Fonsica  Index
  Fonseca

  Larretta  Index
  Larreta

  Minas Geraès  Index
  Minas Geraes

  Moreno, Moriana  Index
  Moreno, Moriano

  Quebracho  Index
  Québracho

  Quintano  Index
  Quintana

  race-course  Index
  racecourse

  Rastaquoère  Index
  Rastaquouère

  Therezopolis  Index
  Theresopolis

In addition, a doubled line: "this centre), or the idle gossip that
constitutes" on p. 372 was removed.





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