Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: A Tour Through South America
Author: Forrest, A. S. (Archibald Stevenson)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Tour Through South America" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



produced from images available at The Internet Archive)



                     A TOUR THROUGH SOUTH AMERICA

                       [Illustration: CARTAGENA]



                            A TOUR THROUGH
                             SOUTH AMERICA

                        :: BY A. S. FORREST ::

                            [Illustration]

                 WITH 145 ILLUSTRATIONS BY THE AUTHOR

                      LONDON: STANLEY PAUL & CO.
                     31 ESSEX STREET, STRAND, W.C.


                       _First published in 1913_


                  THIS BOOK IS BY KIND PERMISSION
                  DEDICATED TO
                  SIR OWEN PHILIPPS, K.C.M.G.
                  TO WHOSE NAME NO TRAVELLER TO SOUTH AMERICA
                  NEEDS INTRODUCTION
                  THE AUTHOR FEELS THAT THIS SLIGHT TRIBUTE
                  IS DUE TO ONE WHO HAS DONE AND IS
                  STILL DOING MUCH TO LINK UP
                  THE OLD WORLD WITH THE VAST TERRITORIES
                  DEALT WITH IN THE ENSUING PAGES



CONTENTS


CHAPTER                                                             PAGE

     I. EARLY ADVENTURERS AND DISCOVERIES                             17

    II. THE SIGHTING OF THE PACIFIC                                   26

   III. THE BUCCANEERS                                                34

    IV. ON THE WAY TO THE SOUTHERN CONTINENT                          48

     V. OF THE LABOURERS ON THE ISTHMUS                               60

    VI. CANAL PROJECTS: OLD AND NEW                                   72

   VII. PANAMA                                                        97

  VIII. THE PANAMANIANS                                              104

    IX. COLOMBIA AND CARTAGENA                                       117

     X. ECUADOR                                                      127

    XI. “THE CITY OF THE KINGS”                                      131

   XII. PERU--“THE COUNTRY OF MARVELS”                               138

  XIII. “THE GATEWAY TO AN IMPRISONED LAND”                          149

   XIV. “THE LAND OF NITRATES”                                       157

    XV. ARGENTINA                                                    167

   XVI. THE CAMP                                                     180

  XVII. A LIVE INDUSTRY                                              197

 XVIII. ON THE ROAD TO PARAGUAY                                      208

   XIX. ASUNCION                                                     226

    XX. A SOUTH AMERICAN DICTATOR                                    240

   XXI. MORE MODERN TIMES IN PARAGUAY                                244

  XXII. A GLANCE AT BRAZILIAN HISTORY                                249

 XXIII. “A CITY OF PARADISE”                                         263

  XXIV. VIANNA                                                       278

   XXV. SOME EXCURSIONS FROM RIO                                     286

  XXVI. SÃO PAULO                                                    299

 XXVII. A SOURCE OF LIGHT AND POWER                                  319

XXVIII. COFFEE                                                       327

  XXIX. THE FOREST                                                   338

INDEX                                                                351



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


Cartagena                                                  _Frontispiece_

                                                                    PAGE

An Old Map of the Isthmus                                             16

“Caribs” in Terra Firma                                               19

Gold Nose Ring                                                        21

Ancient Gold Nose Ring                                                21

“A Dream in Living Bronze is She.”--A native of the Isthmus of
Darien                                                                23

Ancient Indian Pottery found in the Graves on the Isthmus             24

Pottery from the Graves in Chirique                                   27

The Pacific, from a Peak in Darien                                    29

Huts near the Ancient City of Panama                                  31

The Pirate “L’Ollonois”                                               35

Sir Henry Morgan.--From an old print                                  37

Fort Lorenzo                                                          39

Old Sentry Tower on the Chagres River                                 41

The Old Church Tower, Old Panama                                      46

The Ramparts, Fort Lorenzo                                            47

Old Wharves, Colon                                                    49

A Family Party, Colon                                                 51

A Camp at Balboa                                                      53

The First Labour Camp, Gatum                                          56

The Old Church on the Island of Tobago, off Panama                    58

A Labour Camp (Evening), Canal Zone                                   61

A Toilet on the Zone                                                  65

A Street in the Old Quarters, Panama                                  69

Water-babies by a River-side                                          70

An Old Church and Buildings, Panama                                   73

A Stretch of the Chagres River                                        77

Interior of a Shack on the Isthmus                                    79

The Old Panama Railway Track                                          81

Jamaican Labourer on the Zone                                         84

Barbadian Labourer on the Zone                                        85

Map of Republic of Panama                                             89

The Church at Chagres                                                 92

Outside a Church on Christmas Eve, Panama                             98

The Flat Arch of St. Dominic                                         100

Old Houses on the Sea Wall, Panama                                   102

Panama from Ancon                                                    105

A Bit of the Old Town                                                108

The Plaza, Panama                                                    110

An Interior, Cartagena                                               112

In the Market, Panama                                                116

A Colombian Mother                                                   118

A Colombian Village                                                  122

On the Banks of the Magdalena River                                  124

Map of Peru and Bolivia                                              126

A Dwelling by a River-side, Ecuador                                  129

A Peruvian Girl                                                      133

The Cathedral, Lima                                                  135

A Milkmaid, Lima                                                     136

The Arid Coast of Peru                                               139

A Llama in Gold, made by the Incas                                   141

Inca Portraiture on a piece of Old Pottery                           143

A Reduced Human Head                                                 145

An Inca Mask in Gold                                                 147

Pre-Inca Monoliths in Bolivia                                        148

A Fruit-Stall at Mollendo                                            150

The Jesuit Church on the Site of the Inca “Temple of the Sun”        152

A Bolivian Woman                                                     153

Sailing on Lake Titicaca                                             154

Balsas on Lake Titicaca                                              155

A Chilian Farmer                                                     158

An Araucanian Family                                                 159

An Araucanian Indian                                                 161

Araucanian Girls                                                     163

On the Guano Deposits                                                165

Map of Argentine                                                     169

The Lemon-shaped Dome of the Capital                                 171

Desolation                                                           173

Landscape near Mendoza                                               175

The Bridge of the Inca                                               176

Crossing the Hills                                                   177

A Glimpse of Aconcagua                                               178

Travellers by a River-side                                           179

Chasing Rheas                                                        181

A “Pulperia”                                                         184

Morning: Going to Work                                               186

Evening                                                              187

Pegging out Hides                                                    189

An “Estancia”                                                        191

Gaucho Preparing a Meal                                              193

A Gaucho                                                             195

The Lonely Camp                                                      196

A Prize Hereford Bull                                                199

Colon                                                                201

The Village of Frey Bentos                                           204

On the Parana                                                        208

Frey Bentos                                                          209

A Paraguayan Lady                                                    211

Shepherds and Cowboys, Corrientes                                    215

Igeasu Falls on the Alto Parana                                      217

Old Houses in Corrientes                                             218

A “Posada,” Corrientes                                               219

Sharp’s Map of South America                                         221

Travellers on the Steamer                                            223

The Custom-house, Asuncion                                           227

The Dome of the Oratoire de Lopez                                    230

A Street in Asuncion                                                 233

Paraguayan Savages                                                   235

Crossing the Paraguay                                                238

A Paraguayan Gentleman                                               245

Map of Brazil                                                        250

Beauties at Pernambuco                                               252

Near Rio                                                             253

The Railway up to Corcovada                                          256

Coming down from Corcovada                                           257

The Church of the Candeliera, Rio                                    259

The Falls of Tombos in the State of Rio                              262

Entrance to Rio Harbour                                              264

The Summit of Corcovada, Rio                                         266

“The Silent Bay”                                                     267

A Suburban Street, Rio                                               269

Avenida Beira-Mar, Rio                                               271

The Sugar-Loaf by Night, Rio                                         273

A Bit of Rio Harbour                                                 274

The Gavea, Rio                                                       275

The Botanical Gardens                                                277

End of Santa Cruz                                                    279

An Old Church near Rio                                               280

The Shore, Santa Cruz                                                281

Santa Cruz                                                           282

Santa Cruz                                                           283

Santa Cruz                                                           285

At the Back of the Organ Mountains                                   287

A Road amongst the Hills, Petropolis                                 288

The Square of Tiradentes, Ouro Preto                                 289

Near the San Francisco River                                         290

Above the Falls at Tombos.--The Carangola River about 4300 miles
from Rio                                                             291

Waterfall near Matilde, on the Line to Victoria Espirito Santo       292

The Rapids at Pirapora, on San Francisco River                       293

Old Houses, Bahia                                                    294

The Baras de Aquino.--The curious winding track of the Leopoldina
Railway                                                              296

The Railway over the Confluence of the Paquequr and Parahyba Rivers  297

The Road to São Paulo from Rio                                       301

The Approach to Santos                                               303

Government Buildings in the Largo de Palacio                         305

The National Museum at Ypiranga                                      307

The Theatre of S. Paulo                                              309

The Penteado Technical College                                       311

The Villa Penteado                                                   312

Officers of the São Paulo Army                                       314

A Waterfall near São Paulo                                           315

The Wharves of Santos                                                316

The Docks of Santos                                                  317

The Power Station                                                    321

The Falls of Parnahyba                                               325

A Fazenda                                                            329

A Coffee Fazendiero                                                  331

Colonists’ Houses at Martino Prado                                   333

The Prado Mansion House, São Paulo                                   336

Harvey                                                               341

Sebastian                                                            347



FOREWORD


The artist or the writer who visits South America to-day finds it as a
diamond of a hundred facets, and his main difficulty is to select those
points upon which to concentrate his gaze. So vast is the subject, so
full of romance, glamour, pulsating life, and world possibilities that
not one book but many must be written upon it before the reader can form
the barest idea of the well-nigh illimitable nature of the theme. Hence
an author who offers any contribution to so vast a study has no need to
excuse himself for his apparent temerity, provided he sets on record
some new point of view or chronicles his impressions of paths not too
well known.

Even if he fails in either or both these aims his work is justified if
it contains individual conceptions of the myriad wonders which the
continent discloses to the seeing eye. For this far-reaching stretch of
earth is the last to be really explored and civilised by Western man.
Compared with many portions of it, the forests of Central Africa, the
plateaus of Middle Asia, and the deserts of Australia, are as open
books. It is only South America to-day, or, to be more correct, a great
part of it that is “a field enclosed, a fountain sealed.”

Consequently any contribution which aims at familiarising stay-at-home
folk with the marvellous cities, the impressive scenery, the rich
products, and the limitless resources of this mighty territory has
surely a title to consideration.

The present writer claims to be neither an explorer nor a political
theorist, nor, although profoundly impressed with the magnificence of
South America’s destiny, has he attempted to forecast the lines along
which that destiny will shape itself.

His aim has been far less ambitious, much more simple. Whatever he saw
in the country or amongst the people that interested him he has
endeavoured to transcribe with interest for the benefit of others. Even
so he submits that the ensuing pages will give the general reader a fair
conspectus of the rise and development of South America from those
far-off days when it was discovered, subjugated, and colonised by
Spanish and Portuguese conquistadores to the present day, where a dozen
independent Republics have their seats of government in cities where
once the flags of the conquerors waved.

The history of each State has been lightly touched upon and space has
been devoted to a consideration of the men of light and leading who have
helped to direct the fortunes of the continent from the earliest
beginnings of its modern history. The romantic adventures of Pizarro are
told in one chapter; in another the exploits of the sinister Dr. Francia
of Paraguay are recorded; and the reader will not set down the book
until he has learned what General O’Higgins and Lord Cochrane did for
the independence of Chili, and how San Martin, the Galahad of South
America, laid as though on a rock the foundations of that thriving State
now known as the Argentine Republic. Moreover, the part played by Simon
Bolivar in liberating the northern half of the continent from the
Spanish yoke is, the writer trusts, set forth with a due sense of
proportion.

Mighty men these, and more or less so because their dramas were enacted
on a remote stage of the world-theatre.

But, like the age of chivalry, the days of romance have passed and the
author has deemed it a necessary part of his scheme to deal with more
prosaic matters, things which impress the work-a-day world quite as much
as the sanguinary progresses of Spanish conquerors and the marvellous
civilisation of the Peruvian Incas. Something will be found in the book
concerning many of the resources of the country.

The imminent opening to universal traffic of the Panama Canal arrests
the attention of the entire civilised world. It has been the lot of the
author to spend a longer time on the Zone than is generally done by
persons not connected with the undertaking. Consequently he has had
abundant opportunities of studying, at first hand, not only its
constructive arts but also the character of the people living on the
isthmus.

His impressions are embodied in the early chapters of the volume.

The completion of this great waterway will make much of this enchanted
land as easy of access to us moderns as it was difficult to those old
Spanish mariners who dreamed that they were voyaging to an actual El
Dorado or to the fabled land of Ophir.

[Illustration]



[Illustration]



                     A TOUR THROUGH SOUTH AMERICA



CHAPTER I

_Early Adventurers and Discoveries_


The history of the Isthmus of Panama, which was the point of departure
for the whole of those notable conquests which placed nearly all South
America under the heel of Spain, began with its discovery by Alonzo de
Ojeda in 1499.

The great name of Columbus figures prominently in this period, for in
the course of his fourth voyage he spent much time in sailing backwards
and forwards from east to west along the coast of Terra Firma in a vain
search for a passage through which his ships might pass to the land of
the Grand Khan.

But it was not ordained that the great navigator should add this laurel
to his crown, albeit his enterprise made the way easier for those who
were to follow.

Baffled by contrary winds and other adverse factors he had eventually to
retire from what in his chagrin he termed “the Coast of Contradictions”
and return to Spain, never to sail from its ports again.

The reports of Columbus as to the plentifulness of gold in the region of
the isthmus sent many other adventurous mariners and captains to the
Spanish Main, and soon the history of the time resolved itself into
intrigues, jealousies, and savage conflicts between the Indians and the
intruders, the latter enduring all kinds of privations in the hope of
reaching that rumoured land which overflowed with gold. Dramatic
developments began to ensue under an expedition which set out from
Hispaniola under the leadership of Enciso, a wealthy notary. On board
the ship in which he embarked was a mysterious barrel sent from a farm
situated on the seashore, and no sooner was the vessel well out to sea
than there emerged from this cask a tall muscular man in the prime of
life. Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, who had devised this means of escaping from
his creditors, proved in the end to be a valuable addition to the
expedition, though the commander’s first impulse and threat was to
maroon the stowaway on the first uninhabited island they might come
across. They landed at Cartagena and were menaced by the natives, who
hovered around them, doubtless remembering previous invasions and the
outrages they had suffered. By pacific measures, however, the newcomers
conciliated the Indians, at whose hands they then received valuable
assistance and supplies of such provisions as the country had to offer.
Balboa soon assumed a prominence in the discussions and deliberations of
the expedition. He recommended strongly the attractions of an Indian
village which he had come across when sailing some years before with
Bastides. It lay upon the banks of a river called Darien, and the
country all around was not only fertile, but abounded in gold, whilst
the natives, although warlike, never made use of the dreaded poisoned
arrow. With such enthusiasm did Balboa urge the claims of this region
that Enciso determined to follow his advice, and they set sail thither
and arrived and founded the town or city of Santa Maria de la Antigua
del Darien. The natives of the existing village they put to the sword,
having robbed them of all the golden ornaments they wore and the food
supplies collected in their huts.

Enciso immediately entered upon his duties as alcalde and lieutenant of
the absent Governor Ojeda, but discontent soon broke out amongst the
men, who, hoping for rich gains, had begun to get alarmed at the
attitude Enciso took with regard to the golden treasure they had
captured. Balboa’s chance had now come, and, taking advantage of this
discontent, he sought to gather around him a faction strong enough to
dethrone Enciso from his position of command, recollecting doubtless the
latter’s threat to maroon him and availing himself of this opportunity
for revenge. The legal aspect of the case aided in upsetting the
pretensions of Enciso to rule on a territory which lay on the west side
of the Gulf of Darien, for by the royal command it was clearly under the
jurisdiction of Nicuesa, a rival adventurer.

[Illustration: “CARIBS” IN TERRA FIRMA.]

The deposition of Enciso was accomplished, and Balboa and one Tzemudio
were appointed alcaldes by the colony with a cavalier named Valdivia as
Regidor. This arrangement, however, was not satisfactory, the general
opinion being that the sole authority should be vested in one
individual, and it was while the dispute concerning this matter was
going on that two ships arrived commanded by Colmenares who, with
provisions, was in search of Nicuesa. This man claimed that Nicuesa was
the legitimate governor of the province, and that, in his absence, he,
Colmenares, was the proper person to command. Balboa could hardly
controvert this, and his authority having been acknowledged, Colmenares
set out along the coast in pursuance of his search for the missing
governor, whom he found at Nombre de Dios.

There ensued a long duel between Balboa and Nicuesa for the supreme
authority, and eventually the former won, Nicuesa being placed on a
wretched vessel and driven out to sea, nothing further ever being heard
of him or his crew.

The rival claims of Enciso and Balboa for the vacant governorship of the
community led to its division into two factions, and the high favour in
which Balboa was held by the majority was such that, unable with all his
eloquence to prevail against him, the erudite and skilful Enciso was
put into prison and his property confiscated, after a trial which had
but the merest semblance of legality, on a charge of having usurped the
office of alcalde in a territory which did not come under his
jurisdiction.

When at length, through the intercession of his friends, he regained his
liberty he received permission to return to Spain. Balboa took the
precaution of sending in the same vessel one of his most intimate
followers, to prevent the deposed Enciso from gaining too much sympathy
at court, and to answer the charges which would doubtless be preferred
by him. Further, Balboa sent a handsome present in gold to the royal
treasurer of Hispaniola to impress him with the richness of the new
country and obtain what he knew to be a powerful influence with the
King.

After the departure of the _caravel_ with his predecessor on board,
Balboa set about organising an expedition into the interior, to discover
and obtain as much of the precious metal as he could, for he wisely
foresaw that if he provided the royal treasury at home with an abundance
of the much-coveted gold, any irregularities in his late proceedings
would be overlooked by the avaricious Ferdinand.

He sent Pizarro and a band on one such errand into a province called
Coyba, but on their setting out they were assailed by the Indians of
Darien led by their native lord or cacique, Zemaco, and after a fierce
encounter the Spaniards were forced to retreat. Balboa despatched two
vessels to Nombre de Dios to bring away the remnant of Nicuesa’s
followers who had been left there. While coasting the shores of the
isthmus these vessels picked up two Spaniards, painted like the Indians
with whom they had been living. These men had been well treated by
Careta the cacique of Coyba and repaid his kindness by instigating their
countrymen to attack this friendly native and rob him of his wealth and
treasure. They carried back to Balboa the news of their discovery at
Careta, and he, pleased with the intelligence, set out with a strongly
armed force to carry out this base design. On his arrival the
unsuspecting chief received him with all the hospitality his savage
customs could supply, but even this was not sufficient to deter Balboa
from using strategy to overcome resistance and plunder the village,
making captives of Careta, his wives and children and many of his
people, and taking them back as prisoners to Santa Maria.

The poor outraged chieftain pleaded with his captor to be released,
offering to become his ally and show him the realms where gold and
riches abounded, and as a pledge of his good faith to give his daughter
as a wife to the Spanish Governor, who, seeing all the advantages that
would accrue from the friendship of the natives, and not unmoved by the
youth and beauty of the proffered wife, accepted the alliance. After
impressing his new allies with the power of the Spanish armaments, and
astonishing them with the sight of the war horses which were strange to
them, he allowed them to depart loaded with presents, but leaving the
chief’s daughter, who willingly remained as the so-called wife of the
future discoverer of the Pacific.

[Illustration: GOLD NOSE RING.]

[Illustration: ANCIENT GOLD NOSE RING.]

Balboa, with eighty men, once more made his way to Coyba and assisted
Careta in invading the territories of one of his enemies, who were
compelled to retreat and take shelter in the mountain fastnesses.
Continuing their invasion, the combined forces ravaged the lands, sacked
villages, putting the inhabitants to the sword and securing much booty.
They then visited the province of another cacique, Comagre by name, who
was indeed one of the most formidable in the whole country, having at
his command three thousand fighting men, and living in what was for
these parts a very palace, built of stone and wood and containing many
apartments. There was in this palace a great hall in which the chieftain
preserved the bodies of his ancestors, dried by fire and wrapped in
mantles of cotton richly wrought and interwoven with pearls and jewels
of gold. Among the sons of this cacique was one who was of a lofty and
generous spirit and superior sagacity. He it was who struck the scales
and scattered the gold which the Spaniards were weighing out and
quarrelling over. Disdainful and disgusted at their sordid spirit, he
asked them why they quarrelled over such a trifle, and said that, from
the lofty hills in front of them, he would show them a mighty sea
navigated by people who had vessels almost as large as their own, adding
that on the shores of this great sea dwelt kings who ate and drank out
of golden vessels, and ruled over lands in which gold was as plentiful
as iron was amongst the Spaniards.

Imagine the eagerness with which Balboa plied this youthful Indian with
questions regarding the means of arriving at such opulent regions, and
how his imagination must have been stirred at the intimation of the sea
he was shortly to discover.

The difficulties to be overcome, the fierce resistance which he was
assured would be offered to his advance through the country he must
traverse, only stimulated his ambition to be the first to sail upon the
unknown sea. Henceforward all his plans were laid with the one idea of
reaching it, and he sent off envoys in great haste to Hispaniola laden
with much of the treasure he had already obtained, hoping thus to arouse
the interest of his King to such a pitch that he should be furnished
with a sufficient force of arms and men to enable him to accomplish a
mighty discovery. As some time would elapse before an answer to his
request could reach him, Balboa with his followers made incursions into
the country round their settlement, exploring the river and its
tributaries, but always meeting with a steady opposition from the
natives.

Of the hundreds of adventures they must here have met with history
records but few, and although they discovered much booty and captured
many slaves, they also lost much in their endeavours to transport it to
their capital.

Many of the natives lived in huts built like nests in the branches of
the trees and reached by ladders, which the inmates drew up at night or
when suddenly attacked. These arboreal homes, built of light woodwork
and thatched with leaves, were many of them large enough to hold
good-sized families, and when other means of overcoming these
nest-dwellers failed, the Spaniards would compel them to descend by
threatening to fell the trees or set fire to them. And this all for
gold. Gold was the object of their search, and no cruelty was too great
for them to inflict on any who kept them from their booty. One golden
temple, whose renown had reached them, was for many years to come the
object of a restless enterprise on the part of the Spaniards. Hundreds
of lives were lost in search of it, but never was its whereabouts
discovered, clans and tribes joining in confederacy to resist the
advances of their enemies.

[Illustration: “A DREAM IN LIVING BRONZE IS SHE.”

A native of the Isthmus of Darien.]

Balboa at last constructed a fortress round the town to resist the
attacks of and guard against surprise by his wily enemies. Weary of
waiting for the reinforcements he had sent for, his followers grew
impatient, and anxious and distressed at the non-arrival of help, he
determined to go in person back to Spain and urge his claims for
assistance to accomplish what he now looked upon as his mission. His
followers, however, dissuaded him from leaving them in what was still a
dangerous position, for they relied upon their leader to counsel and
protect them. Other envoys were found and despatched with letters full
of enthusiastic accounts of the wealth of the country, a portion of the
gold obtained being also sent, each man giving some of his private hoard
to swell the general amount. Surely the King on receiving this evidence
of the wealth and resources of his new possessions would not fail to
furnish means of extending and developing them.

It was while awaiting the issue of this second mission that the weary
and discontented colony of adventurers grew troublesome, and it required
all the resourceful ingenuity and sagacity of Balboa to prevent civil
war from breaking out. Order had hardly been re-established when two
ships arrived from Hispaniola with supplies and men and a commission for
Balboa, which although not from the source of royal power itself at
least gave a semblance of legal status to his governorship, coming as it
did from the hands of the King’s treasurer, Miguel de Pasamonte, to whom
the present sent had proved acceptable.

[Illustration: ANCIENT INDIAN POTTERY FOUND IN THE GRAVES ON THE
ISTHMUS.]

These were the events which led up to the great discovery, and Balboa
was just congratulating himself on the security of his position and the
hopefulness of his prospects when he received news from the colleague he
had sent home that Enciso had succeeded in arousing the King’s
resentment and indignation against Balboa, who was shortly to be
summoned back to Spain to answer most serious charges on account of his
harsh treatment of Nicuesa. The only comfort left to Balboa was the fact
that the information he now received was private and that no definite
order had yet reached him from the King. Desperate as he felt the
enterprise to be without reinforcements, he yet determined to risk all
upon the venture of crossing the isthmus before the King’s commands
could reach him. Choosing one hundred and ninety of the most reckless
and daring of the wild adventurers that composed his colony, and arming
them in such a manner as he thought fitting for the occasion, taking
with him several of the Darien Indians whom he won to his side by
kindness, and a number of dogs, amongst them his famous hound Leonico,
he set out on this perilous undertaking.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER II

_The Sighting of the Pacific_


With his wild crew Balboa sailed from Santa Maria up the coast to Coyba,
where he left half his men to guard the brigantine and canoes, and
started out, after offering up fervent prayers to God to grant him
success in his mission. Through a country which might have caused dismay
to the boldest of adventurers, struggling through pathless bush which
seemed almost impenetrable, over steep rocks with the sun blazing down
upon them, encumbered with their heavy armour, and with supplies for
only two days, they pushed their way, until they reached a forsaken
Indian village, where almost overcome by their exertions they were
compelled to rest for a time. Many of the band had fallen sick, and
after recovering somewhat, were compelled to return to the boats. Fresh
guides had to be procured who knew the country through which they were
now to pass, and on the twentieth of September, 1513, they started off
again through a country covered with a dense growth of forest, streams
and water-courses often barring their path.

So slow was their progress that it took four days to go ten leagues.
Hunger and thirst consumed them, but they kept on, until they arrived in
the province of a warlike cacique who contested their progress. But when
the Indians found their companions falling around them, shot down by the
fire-arms of the invaders, they were terrified. Guns were new to them;
in their ignorance they looked upon them as strange demons who threw out
fire and thunder, and when the dogs were loosened on them they turned
and fled. Many were overtaken and torn to pieces by the half-famished
hounds, others were cut down by the sword, till over six hundred lay
dead upon the field.

The conquerors marched into the village and gathered their spoil, gold
and jewels, rested themselves from fatigue and tended

[Illustration: POTTERY FROM THE GRAVES IN CHIRIQUE.]

their wounded. The village lay at the foot of a high mountain, and on
the following morning, conducted by guides selected from among the
prisoners, Balboa leaving his wounded behind him, started the ascent,
with his remaining followers. When they had nearly reached the summit
the leader gave orders to his men to halt, and forbade any man to stir.
Then all alone he climbed and reached the topmost peak, from whence he
was able to discern the ocean he had passed through such trials to
behold. Often during the long and tedious journey doubts must have
passed through his mind regarding the existence of the sea now lying in
front of him, but all the strange tales and rumours which for years had
been whispered amongst mariners were, after all, true, and he was the
first European to know it! This bold adventurer, accustomed to bloodshed
and wild disaster, knelt down and gave thanks to God for having
privileged him to make this great discovery. Then, calling his men to
ascend and share his vision, he addressed them. “Behold, my friends,
that glorious sight which we have so much desired. Let us give thanks to
God that He has granted us this great honour and advantage. Let us pray
to Him to guide us and aid us to conquer the sea and land which we have
discovered, and which Christian has never entered to preach the holy
doctrine of the evangelists. As to yourselves, be, as you have hitherto
been, faithful and true to me, and, by the favour of Christ, you will
become the richest Spaniards that have ever come to the Indies. You will
render the greatest services to your King that ever vassal rendered to
his lord, and you will have the eternal glory and advantage of all that
is here discovered, conquered, and converted to our Holy Catholic
Faith.”

This perfervid utterance, the incongruity of which strikes us to-day as
almost blasphemous, aroused enthusiasm in his followers, who swore to
stand by their intrepid leader and follow him to the death in pursuit of
their new prospects. They all knelt down, and led by de Vara the priest,
who accompanied them, lustily chanted the “_Te Deum_.” Speculation ran
high as to the possibilities that lay before them, but they were all
convinced that they were at length on the right road to become
possessors of the riches of the Indies. Summoning the notary of the
expedition, Balboa called all present to witness that he took possession
of all the sea, its islands and surrounding hills, in the name of the
Sovereigns of Castile, and had a deed prepared to that effect, which
those of his followers who were present signed. The curious ceremonies
of piety and plunder were not completed until a tree had been cut down,
formed into a cross, and erected on the spot from which Balboa had first
viewed the ocean, the names of Ferdinand and Isabella being roughly
carved on the trees surrounding the spot. The band then made their way
down the hillside, and after massacring another tribe of hostile
Indians, and forcing into their service fresh guides, they came to the
domain of the warlike cacique, named Choapes, who, after a short
resistance, was induced by the arguments of fire-arms and bloodhounds to
submit. It is recorded that Balboa, doubtless softened by his religious
exercises on the mountain, enjoined his followers to refrain from
needless slaughter.

Meanwhile, Balboa sent out scouting parties to discover the best route
to the coast, and when the successful one returned, they related how
they had reached the ocean and found canoes, into one of which Alonzo
Martin had stepped, calling on his companions to bear witness that he
was the first European to embark on the newly discovered sea.

Balboa and his men went forward, and on coming to the border of a great
bay gave it the name of San Miguel. As the tide was far out, they waited
under the shade of the trees until it should flow in. When it did Balboa
arose, and, taking a banner on which were painted the arms of Castile
and Leon, he, with his sword drawn, waded into the water until it was
above his knees, and in a loud voice took possession, in the names of
Don Ferdinand and Donna Isabella, of all the seas and lands and coasts
and ports and islands of the South, kingdoms and provinces, and, in
fact, everything he could think of naming.

[Illustration: THE PACIFIC, FROM A PEAK IN DARIEN.]

The exaggerated accounts which reached Spain of the wealth and riches of
the new colony, of the gold which was to be found lying on the surface
of the ground or taken from the rivers in nets, inspired Ferdinand with
such enthusiastic pride in his new possessions that he christened them
“Golden Castile.” Santa Maria was honoured by being made the capital
city, and a bishop was appointed and sent out with all the necessary
equipment of friars and other ecclesiastical paraphernalia.

A new Governor was sent out in the person of Don Pedrarias Davilla, with
a magnificently furnished expedition to fittingly equip the new capital
with all the pomp and pageantry so dear to the Spanish heart. Many
youthful caballeros of high descent but low in funds were allured by the
prospects of the new land, and flocked to join the expedition in such
numbers that only the most favoured and influential could obtain a
passage.

Hardly had this magnificent fleet set sail when news arrived of Balboa’s
latest discovery, and the revulsion of feeling in his favour would have
prevented the King giving such high powers to Pedrarias had the tidings
only reached him in time. On the arrival of the new Governor at Santa
Maria he was met by Balboa, who had returned from the Pacific shores,
with every courtesy, and entertained in the palm-thatched habitation
which served the latter as a palace.

Pedrarias contrived to hide behind a mask of friendship his real
intentions regarding the new province, and through dissimulation gained
as complete a knowledge as possible of all things pertaining to the
country and the discoveries of Balboa, who, off his guard, was anxious
enough to put the new Governor in possession of all the information he
had gathered. But no sooner did Pedrarias feel that he had no more to
learn from the pioneer of the Isthmian route than his attitude
completely changed, and he ordered a judicial inquiry into the previous
conduct of Balboa. The result of the trial was the acquittal of the
accused, much to the chagrin of the new Governor, who from the first
seems to have been determined to get rid at all costs of the man who, he
felt, overshadowed and threatened his prospects in the colony.

Later news which came from the court of Spain, announced Balboa’s
promotion to be Governor of the South Seas and the Province of Panama,
and Pedrarias, fearful lest Balboa’s influence and popularity should
again place him in the ascendancy, and in order to keep a hold over him
and join their interests, proposed an alliance between his daughter and
the Adelantado; the marriage settlements were drawn up, but before the
young lady could arrive from Spain events happened which prevented the
union.

The interest of Balboa having been secured to him, Pedrarias was now
willing and anxious that further discoveries should be added to the
already formidable list, and that more treasure should flow into the
insatiable coffers of Spain, and to this end he permitted and assisted
Balboa to fit out a new expedition to make further discoveries in the
South Seas.

Acla, established and built by Balboa as a settlement near Careta,

[Illustration: HUTS NEAR THE ANCIENT CITY OF PANAMA.]

was now fixed upon as the port best adapted as a starting-point for this
expedition, one of the boldest and most considerable yet attempted by
the Spaniards in Terra Firma. The plan was to carry from this port all
necessary materials for the building of four brigantines upon the
Pacific shore. The transporting of stores and materials over a country
which, when traversed previously by Balboa, unencumbered with
superfluous baggage, had presented serious enough difficulties, was a
task of almost overwhelming magnitude; yet these hardy Spaniards under
the leadership of the intrepid Balboa accomplished it. They were
assisted by the more friendly Indians and negroes, but many lives were
lost ere the first two brigantines were successfully launched on the
River Balsas, which flows into the Pacific.

Their first cruise was to the Pearl Islands, and but for contrary winds,
the discovery of Peru might have been added to the list of Balboa’s
achievements, but he was anxious to complete the building of the other
two brigantines which he had provided material for, and returned to
proceed with the work. Whilst busy upon it, he heard rumours that a new
Governor was expected to arrive from Spain, to displace Pedrarias, and
apprehensive lest a new ruler should be opposed to the schemes he had in
hand, he sent a trusted messenger back to Acla, to watch events and
report, but was very unfortunate in selecting Garabito, upon whose
loyalty he relied, but who ultimately betrayed him.

On his arrival at Acla, Garabito, learning that Pedrarias was still in
command at Santa Maria, was indiscreet enough to arouse the suspicions
of the colonists, who arrested him, and sent all his papers and letters
to the Governor, whilst, under threats of punishment, they obtained from
him a confession of the secret of his mission.

The antipathy and distrust of Pedrarias were deepened by the slanders he
was only too willing to believe, and he ordered the absent Adelantado
back to Acla, ostensibly to talk over the new expedition, but really to
stand his trial. Balboa, on his arrival, was cast into prison, where he
was visited by Pedrarias, who, with characteristic dissimulation, avowed
friendship, and said that the proceedings which he had instigated were
merely formal and necessary to clear Balboa’s character of the slanders
and charges which had been brought against it.

The charge made was that of treasonable conspiracy to cast off all
allegiance to the Crown, under a determination to sail, operate, and
trade in the South Seas entirely for private benefit. The evidence
rested largely on the testimony of the traitorous Garabito, and
eavesdroppers, who stated that they had overheard Balboa and his
officers planning to sail on their own account and ignore the authority
of the Governor. In vain Balboa indignantly pointed out the flimsiness
of the accusation, maintaining that, were there the slightest truth in
the charges made, it was very unlikely he would have returned and put
himself in the power of the Governor, when he could easily have sailed
away in the ships he now had on the Pacific and found a land or island
to supply him and his men with safe subsistence, far away from the
chances of interference from the power it was alleged he was anxious to
cast off.

The trial dragged along for many days, and the verdict of guilty was
accompanied by a recommendation to mercy, on account of the prisoner’s
great services, while the hope was expressed that permission would be
granted to him to appeal to a higher tribunal in Spain.

Pedrarias, glad of the opportunity of clearing from his path a man of
whom he was inordinately jealous, would listen to no entreaties from the
many advocates of the claims of the prisoner to consideration, and the
day following the verdict Balboa, with three of his principal officers,
preceded by the public crier, walked in chains to meet his fate at the
block erected in the Public Square; and for days afterwards his gory
head, stuck on the end of a pole, met the gaze of the sorrowing
inhabitants of the town of Acla.

Pedrarias soon found out the futility of attempting to maintain a
prosperous colony at Santa Maria, for the implacable hostility of the
Indians and the depredations in his ranks by sickness, combined with the
disappointment of his expectations of finding the treasure he sought,
drove him to shift his headquarters to a more advantageous spot.

Having got rid of the Governor of Panama, in the person of Balboa, he
proceeded to establish himself within that territory, and fixing a site
upon the bay in which are situated the Pearl Islands, he there founded a
city to which he gave the name of Panama, and thither he transferred the
seat of government, so that it became the capital of Terra Firma.

[Illustration]



CHAPTER III

_The Buccaneers_


The short-sighted policy of the Spaniards in exterminating the natives
of the countries which they conquered, necessitated the importation of
the negro from Africa, and led to the development of a huge traffic in
slaves, in which England, France, and Portugal played an important part.

The men engaged in this trade were naturally a ruffianly set who soon
became familiar with the operations in the newly acquired Spanish
territories, and were quick to take advantage of the knowledge which
they thus acquired.

Lucrative as the slave trade undoubtedly was, those engaged in it could
not but be tempted by the untold wealth which they saw in the countries
they visited and which passed them in the galleons crossing the sea; and
the growing jealousy on the part of the other European nations of the
power and opulence of Spain encouraged the more lawless and daring to
organise attacks upon the wealth and treasure in course of transit.

Many of these hardy ruffians, the off-scourings of their own countries,
conceived the idea of acquiring territory in the West Indian Islands,
and were encouraged by their respective Governments.

A number of them possessed themselves of the small island of Tortuga,
which lies to the north-west of Hayti, and from here roved the whole
Caribbean Sea making war upon the Spaniards both on sea and land.

They had learned from the Indians the art of curing the flesh of animals
killed in hunting so that it would keep for almost any length of time.
The method adopted was to lay the meat upon a wooden grill placed over a
smouldering fire composed of leaves, into which--to give a flavour to
the meat--they cast the skins of the slaughtered animals. The meat thus
smoked was called “Boucan,” and ultimately this name was also given to
the place where it was cooked, and those who had adopted the preparing
of meat in this way were called “buccaneers.”

This name came to be generally applied to the motley collection of
characters from all Europe who settled in these parts, every type of
social Ishmaelite of the period let loose on the world to fight and
struggle for existence as best they could.

Some among them from England had started on their roving life from very
exuberance of good spirits and love of adventure. Others were driven to
this lawless existence by necessity, or by some trivial violation of the
stringent laws then existing in their own country.

[Illustration: THE PIRATE “L’OLLONOIS.”]

Whenever a successful fleet of these desperadoes arrived in Port Royal
or Tortuga, it was the signal to the populace that festive times were at
hand--such times as make the head dizzy to think of, lasting not only
till the money was all spent, but until credit was gone as well.

The tavern keepers would give credit according to the faith they had in
their customers’ ability to redeem their pledges. Doubtless their faith
often received rude shocks, for the risks were many, but taking it on
the whole their profits were immense, as the larger part of the ship’s
plunder was spent with them.

Lawless as the buccaneers were, they yet had laws which regulated the
conduct of each adventure they embarked upon. True these were liable to
be changed by a successful majority, but, as a rule, all obeyed them,
probably because sufficient inducement was offered or coercion used.

During the three distinct epochs of the history of these piratical
adventurers the types were constant. From the time when they first
forsook their wild calling in Hispaniola and took to hunting men for
their treasure instead of animals for their flesh--up to the period when
Morgan stood out as a hero who commanded the consideration if not the
respect of all the inhabitants of the New World, they were unhampered by
the interference of Government.

From 1671 to 1685 they extended the sphere of their operations, and
ranged the whole of the Pacific Coast of America from California to
Chili, and this has been called the second period.

The third extends from 1685 onwards, and marks the decline of their
power, a degeneration in their methods, and a lessening of their
numbers.

There is a glamour about their adventures which appeals to most persons,
the fine courage and persistent daring which was undaunted by the
terrible hardships and sufferings they underwent, giving a touch of
heroism to their doings in spite of the inhuman butcheries and cruelties
they perpetrated.

Outstanding names of buccaneers are familiar to everyone, Mansvelt,
L’Ollonois, Morgan, Dampier, Kidd, Sharp, being a few of the more
prominent. Round each of these romances have been written, and although
there may be some deeds of valour credited to them, the glory of which
they are not entitled to, and some atrocities, the gruesomeness of which
they were guiltless of, yet it cannot be said that authentic details of
their lives and enterprises do not furnish parallel instances.

Their callous indifference to the sufferings of their own companions
prepares us for the studied fiendishness with which they treated their
enemies, and their fanatical hatred of the Spaniards overmastered every
consideration of humanity.

That the buccaneers had courage and daring is well borne out by the life
of Henry Morgan, the son of a respectable Welsh farmer. He appears to
have found his way to Jamaica, and there fallen in with Mansvelt, then
the most notorious of the freebooters.

After serving a sort of apprenticeship with this redoubtable pirate,
Morgan, on the death of Mansvelt was promoted to the command.

Using Jamaica as his headquarters he made excursions in the
neighbourhood of Cuba which added to his reputation. His next venture
was against Porto Bello, one of the best fortified ports in the West
Indies.

[Illustration: SIR HENRY MORGAN.

From an old print.]

Morgan’s profession and attention were directed to this spot by the
knowledge he had of its containing the large storehouses, in which the
treasure from the Spanish colonies in the South awaited the arrival of
the fleet of royal galleons which sailed with it annually to Spain.

As formerly in Nombre de Dios, so here an annual fair was held, and the
merchants who had business came over from Panama with their treasure of
gold and silver from the mines of Peru, attended by an escort of Spanish
troops.

Ships belonging to the West Indian Company arrived from Africa with
cargoes of slaves, and the whole town was, while the fair lasted, a
scene of great animation.

Porto Bello at this period was not considered quite a health resort, so
that in the off seasons the population decreased. Morgan, who had four
hundred and sixty men in his expedition, kept his plans secret, and,
only telling his companions that he expected to make a big haul, he
landed by night at a short distance from the city. Guided by an
Englishman who had been a prisoner in these parts, they marched on to
the town, capturing on their way one of the sentinels, whom they bound
and carried in front of them. They surrounded one of the castles which
stood near the town, and called upon the inmates to surrender, but the
only reply was a volley which alarmed the town. After a brief but
gallant defence the fortress was forced to surrender, and the pirates,
thrusting the vanquished inside, blew both garrison and castle into the
air. The Governor of the city and a number of the more influential
merchants, had taken shelter in the remaining castle, against the walls
of which the pirates now placed broad scaling ladders constructed
hastily for this purpose. Up these ladders Morgan forced friars and nuns
whom he had taken prisoners to ascend as a cover to his men following
close behind, but in thinking the besieged would not risk harming
members of their religious orders he was mistaken, for pious and pirates
were alike killed by the inmates of the castle, who used all means they
could to prevent the assault being successful.

After a long and determined resistance the defenders at length threw
down their arms and surrendered, but the Governor fought to the last,
killing many of the pirates, and even despatching some of his own men
for not standing to their arms. He would accept no quarter in spite of
the pleading of his wife and daughter who, on their knees, begged him to
give in; and he fell fighting.

The pirates took possession of the castle, shutting up all the
prisoners, men and women together. The wounded were placed in an
apartment by themselves, “that their complaints might be a cure of their
diseases, for no other was afforded them.”

This done, the buccaneers gave themselves up to a wild debauch which
lasted well into the night. Next morning the prisoners were brought out
and tortured till they should reveal the hiding-places of their
treasure.

For fifteen days looting and carousing fully occupied the time of the
marauders, and before departing Morgan fixed the ransom of the city at
one hundred thousand pieces of eight, threatening to burn the town and
blow up the castles if this were not procured at once.

Messengers were sent with this demand to Panama, and the Governor of
that city, having got a force together, set out for Porto Bello.

The pirates, hearing of this, went out to meet him at a narrow gorge
through which he was bound to pass, and a hundred of them were
sufficient to check the approach of the bold men from Panama.

From a safe distance the Governor then sent word to Morgan, threatening
him that if he did not retire at once it would go hard with him, to
which the implacable buccaneer replied that all he wanted was the money,
and when he got it he would leave, but not before. Persuaded that he was
in earnest the Governor rode back to Panama, leaving the distressed
citizens of Porto Bello to get out of their difficulties as best they
could.

The ransom was raised and the demands of Morgan were satisfied.

So astonished was the Governor of Panama at the fall of so strong a city
before such a handful of men, that he sent to Morgan to ask him for a
pattern of the weapons with which he had accomplished so great a feat.
Not without humour Morgan gave a pistol and some bullets to the envoy to
take back, with instructions to his master to keep the same for a year,
when the sender would come in person to Panama and claim them.

[Illustration: FORT LORENZO.]

The Governor, thinking this was no joke, returned the proffered loan,
assuring Morgan that he had no need of such weapons. At the same time he
sent a ring of gold and the message “that he desired him not to give
himself the labour of coming to Panama as he had done to Porto Bello,
for he did assure him he should not speed so well there as he had done
there.”

In July, 1670, a treaty was concluded between Great Britain and Spain
with the object of putting an end to the depredations of the
buccaneers, and bringing about peace and a settled state of affairs in
the West Indian Islands. On the publication of this treaty, the
buccaneers determined on a great expedition; fearing, doubtless, that
the chances for their professional operations would be curtailed after
the treaty had been put into force and was well established.

Morgan, therefore, made preparations and gathered around him men and
ships for what was to be his greatest undertaking. The rewards to be
given on this voyage, and the rules for the conduct of the enterprise,
were all written out, agreed upon, and signed by each of the pirate
crews. Morgan himself was to take one hundredth part of the booty, and
the captain of each ship was to draw the shares of eight men over and
above his own, for the expenses of his vessel.

The surgeons were allowed two hundred pieces of eight, besides their
pay, for chests of medicines. The compensations for the loss of limbs or
eyes were very liberal, the payment being made in money or slaves
according to the sufferers’ choice. An extra reward was held out to the
pirate who should, in any engagement, be the first to haul down the
enemies’ colours, enter a castle or perform some similar act of daring.

Panama had been decided upon, by general consent, as being the richest
of the three cities from which a selection was to be made, the other two
being Cartagena and Vera Cruz.

The pirates sailed first to the island of St. Catherine or Old
Providence to obtain guides from among the bandit outlaws from Panama
who were banished to that place.

When they arrived at this penal settlement, which was strongly
fortified, Morgan, with the connivance of the Governor of the island,
put up a sham fight in order to give the appearance that force had been
used in obtaining what he wanted.

Having obtained a plentiful supply of provisions and three bandits, who
were acquainted with the route from Porto Bello to Panama and who were
promised their liberty and a share of the plunder, should the
undertaking prove successful, Morgan sent four ships and one boat well
equipped to Chagres to take the castle there, while he remained at St.
Catherine’s with the bulk of the expedition awaiting the result of this
preliminary venture, and to avoid giving the alarm to the Spaniards as
to his real design. The castle of Chagres or San Lorenzo, situated on
the summit of a steep hill at the entrance of the river, was surrounded
by high palisades filled in with earth, a formidable place almost
impregnable in those days, yet notwithstanding the strong position it
occupied and the extraordinarily brilliant defence which the Spanish
untiringly maintained it fell at last into the hands of the enemy.

[Illustration: AN OLD SENTRY TOWER ON THE CHAGRES.]

On receiving news of the capture of Chagres, Morgan sailed thither with
the main portion of his expedition and repaired the castle, establishing
a garrison there. Besides this garrison he left a number of his men in
charge of the ships, and on the 18th January, 1671, with one thousand
two hundred men, thirty-two canoes, and five boats laden with artillery
started up the Chagres River _en route_ for Panama.

The next evening they arrived at Cruz de Juan Jallego, where the river
was so dry, and the way blocked by so many fallen trees, that they were
obliged to leave the boats in charge of one hundred and sixty men who
were ordered not to desert their post upon pain of death.

Some of the party continued the journey in canoes, and with great
difficulty reached Cedro Bueno, the canoes returning for the rest of the
party, and all were assembled that same night, hoping in vain to fall in
with Spaniards or Indians from whom they might obtain food, as they were
well-nigh exhausted from hunger.

On the fourth day most of the party marched by land, the remainder still
keeping to the canoes, both parties being conducted by guides, whilst
scouts sent on ahead took care to examine the sides of the track and to
prevent surprise from any lurking enemies.

About noon they arrived at a point where the guide accompanying the
canoes gave the alarm that he had perceived an ambuscade. Overjoyed at
the good news the pirates hastened to the spot where the enemy were
supposed to be lurking, but were disappointed when they discovered that
the Spaniards had fled, taking with them everything of an edible nature,
and leaving nothing but a few empty leathern bags. The enraged
buccaneers set fire to the huts, and fell to and ate the leathern bags,
so keen had their appetite become. The leather after being stripped of
the hair was pounded between stones and then cut into small pieces and
broiled, quarrels ensuing over the sizes of the portions allotted.

On the fifth day they arrived at a village where they found traces of
recent occupation, and diligent search being made for some kind of
animal or fruit on which to feed the army, they discovered a cave in
which were stored some sacks of maize, two jars of wine and a few
plantains.

On the seventh day they cleaned their arms and tried their firelocks,
before crossing the river and arriving at Cruces. The sight of smoke
issuing from the village raised their hopes, and caused them to hurry
forward. Perspiring and out of breath they reached the spot only to find
it deserted and nothing but the fires, of which they had no need, to
welcome them.

They revenged themselves by setting fire to the huts, and eating the few
cats and dogs that lingered round the village.

In what were called the King’s stables they found some wine and a large
leathern sack with bread in it, but so ill did those who drank this wine
become, that they jumped to the conclusion it had been poisoned. But
their sickness was after all only the effect of the good wine upon their
empty stomachs.

As Cruces was the last point in ascending the river to which their
canoes could be brought their further progress had to be made entirely
on foot. Before they set out on their march some of the pirates made
rigorous search in the surrounding district for victuals of some kind
wherewith to appease their gnawing hunger, but surprised by the late
inhabitants of the town, who were in hiding in the bush, the buccaneers
were compelled to retreat.

Morgan now sent two hundred men in advance of the main body to detect
any ambuscade that might exist, and to discover the way to Panama.

On the eighth day after ten hours’ marching, the entire force reached a
place called Quebrada Obscura, where they were suddenly assailed by a
flight of thousands of arrows shot by some hidden foes, and from this
point onward they were continually harassed by straggling parties of
Indians commanded by Spaniards.

The ninth day had barely dawned when an early start was made to take
advantage of the cool morning air, and after an hour’s march they
ascended a high hill from which they could see the ocean and discern the
ships and boats lying in the bay.

Their troubles were almost forgotten when, on descending to the plain
below, they came upon a herd of cattle, and they were not long in
killing and roasting a sufficient number of these, on which they gorged
themselves in a most ravenous manner.

Filling their satchels with the remains of the feast, they continued
their march, always preceded by a detachment of scouts who were now on
the look-out--not only for ambuscades--but for any native they might
come across from whom they could obtain information as to the position
and strength of the defences of the city.

Before nightfall they descried the high cathedral tower, and soon camped
for the night within sight of the city itself.

So eager and excited were they that it was with the greatest impatience
they awaited the morrow, which they felt confident would see them in
possession of the much-coveted treasure.

All night long the inmates of the threatened city kept up an incessant
fire with their big guns, in a vain endeavour to reach the camp of the
pirates, who indulged in revels and feasted on the remains of their
morning’s meal.

When the eagerly expected dawn broke the camp was all astir, and Morgan
marshalled his now enthusiastic followers, and with drums and trumpets
sounding set out towards the city.

They kept to the woods as affording them cover, and the Governor of the
city, unprepared for this change of route, came out with a strong band
of followers to check the advances of the buccaneers. He had one novel
regiment, composed of wild cattle driven and directed by the herdsmen.

So formidable did the Spanish army appear that many of the buccaneers
were overawed, and had it been possible would have refused the
encounter.

But Morgan urged them forward, and, dividing the troops into three
divisions, ordered two hundred of his best marksmen to advance to the
attack.

The Spanish cavalry, whose movements were much impeded by the soft
nature of the ground, advanced to meet them, and the fight began in grim
earnest. Very soon the horsemen were compelled to retreat before the
deadly fire of the sharpshooters, and after making one final effort to
disorganise the pirates by driving the wild bulls on to them from
behind, the attacking defenders fled in all directions. Those who fell
into the hands of the pirates received no quarter; and even friars, who
pleaded hard for mercy, had but short shrift.

Before despatching them, Morgan learned from some of the prisoners he
had taken that the whole force of the garrison was 400 horse and 2400
foot, not counting the Indians and slaves who were engaged to drive the
2000 wild bulls, the employment of which had proved so futile.

The loss of life on both sides had been great; but the pirates had more
dangers to encounter before the city was completely in their hands. Guns
which had been mounted in hastily constructed batteries directed a
fierce fire upon them as they marched towards the walls, and many more
were killed before they got through the gates and began to pillage the
town.

For some reason that has never been properly understood or accounted
for, Morgan set fire to the place, and all attempts to stay the
progress of the flames were unavailing. Richly decorated buildings
filled with fine tapestries and pictures were, with few exceptions,
reduced to ashes. The fire, it has been stated, lasted for a whole
month, and hundreds of slaves who had hidden in the buildings perished
in the flames.

Only one of the churches escaped the fire, and the pirates used it as a
hospital.

The main body of the marauders encamped at night outside the city, but
all day long were busy within its walls ransacking the rich warehouses
and dwellings before the fire should reach them.

There was one large warehouse in the city in which the Genoese conducted
their slave market, two thousand magnificent houses filled with riches
of every description, besides five thousand smaller dwellings and two
hundred warehouses, and from these the plunderers obtained a very
considerable amount of booty. But by far the most valuable treasure in
the city was lost to the pirates, for the King’s plate and royal
treasure, together with the gold and silver plate and jewelled vestments
of the churches and monasteries, had been put on board a huge galleon
and taken out to sea.

It has always been known that much of the treasure that escaped the
buccaneers, as well as a large amount of the booty which they captured
and hid in various retreats, has never been discovered or reclaimed, and
for years many and varied expeditions have been fitted out with the
object of seeking and finding these lost riches.

Morgan and his gang had, however, done very well out of their expedition
to Panama, from whence they returned to Chagres laden with spoil.

As part of a deep-laid scheme which had matured in his own mind, Morgan,
when half-way from Cruces to Chagres, ordered all the pirates to be
thoroughly searched, in spite of the usual solemn oath which every one
of them had taken, that they would conceal no treasure. He even
permitted himself to be subjected to the same indignity in order to
prevent the resentment which this unusual order might provoke.

But resentment and suspicion were expressed in murmurings and complaints
when the spoil was divided on their reaching Chagres, for it was thought
and alleged that the commander had kept the best jewels to himself. The
grumbling reached such a pitch that it caused Morgan no little
apprehension, but he had already determined on his plan of playing a
dastardly trick upon his companions.

[Illustration: THE OLD CHURCH TOWER, OLD PANAMA.]

After demolishing the fort at Chagres, and setting fire to the principal
buildings in the town, he surreptitiously crept on board the vessel
which contained the treasure and provisions, taking with him a few of
his chosen companions, and, in the early hours of the morning, while the
remainder of the band were in a deep sleep, he sailed away for Jamaica
with all the plunder captured by the expedition, a rich store of the
treasures which formed the staple commerce between the Old World and the
New.

[Illustration: THE RAMPARTS. FORT LORENZO.]

The resentment and fury of the deserted robbers knew no bounds, for
surely in all the annals of their history there was no parallel to such
treachery. The English pirates who were thus basely treated by their
countryman set out in one of the remaining vessels in hot but unavailing
pursuit, and the Frenchmen who had joined the bold enterprise with
confidence now made their way back to Tortuga to brood over their wrongs
and plan fresh expeditions, vowing vengeance on the lustful bully who
had robbed them of their spoil.



CHAPTER IV

_On the Way to the Southern Continent_


After leaving Kingston, Jamaica, one has an opportunity of observing
some of the many types who journey to the isthmus of Panama.

The steamer is crowded and its comfort impaired by the numerous
obstacles such as luggage and deck chairs, which prevent promenading and
the taking of the usual form of exercise on board ship. On the fore
deck, huddled together in endless confusion, are labourers from the
island just left; behind their “household gods”--parrots, monkeys,
poultry, and dogs--enjoying in many cases more comfort than their
owners.

In the dim shadows cast by the awning spread to protect them from the
glare of the burning sun, or the torrential rain which might at any
moment descend; reclining upon chairs, hammocks or bedding spread upon
the deck, men and women of varying age, colour and costume, seek
oblivion in sleep from the nausea occasioned by the monotonous rolling
of the ship.

On the afternoon of the third day, through the haze of a tropical
downpour, Colon is sighted. Though the rain falls in sheets, the eye can
trace through the silvery mists the faint outline of the coast and
contour of the hills; whilst away across the bay, at its western
extremity, the Toro Lighthouse is dimly visible.

This island of Manzanilla, upon which Colon is built, was passed and
repassed many times by Columbus, when, on his fourth and last voyage, he
searched so diligently for the Straits which he believed existed. His
objective was to reach India, the land of the Grand Khan, and it was
only after his ships had been reduced to mere leaking hulks, that he
abandoned the search for the opening which he imagined must be there.
Four hundred eventful years have passed, yet men’s minds have never
ceased from

[Illustration: OLD WHARVES, COLON.]

dwelling upon the idea of making a waterway through the narrow neck of
land that connects two great continents and divides two vast seas. From
the beginning of the eighteenth century, plans have been put forward for
the accomplishment of this task; but it was not until the railway across
the isthmus was completed in 1854 that any serious thought was given by
responsible persons to such projects. The building of the Panama Railway
was brought about by the discovery of gold in California in 1849, when
hundreds of adventurers from every part of the globe found this the
shortest and quickest route to the western El Dorado. The history of how
Aspinwall and Stevens accomplished their task of completing this short
railway across a fetid tropical country, is one of the finest records of
human endurance and perseverance. Sickness and disease thinned the ranks
of their labourers, and the graves of hundreds of workers who perished
in this enterprise are scattered profusely across the isthmus. There is
a legend current in Panama that every tie on the railroad represents a
human life. (That this is an exaggeration, anyone who reflects will
readily perceive; for it would mean that 150,000 deaths had occurred in
the five years, a number ten times greater than the whole population of
the isthmus at that period.) Trains carrying thousands of passengers,
and tons of goods across the forty-seven miles of track, have never been
able to cope with the enormous and increasing traffic. That a canal,
through which the largest ships might pass from the Atlantic to the
Pacific, would eventually be constructed, few people doubted; and when
De Lesseps, fresh from winning his laurels at Suez, undertook to
construct a waterway, his enthusiasm quickly spread to thousands of his
countrymen, and a French company was formed to carry out his schemes.
The history of the French Canal Company is sad reading, and is now
almost forgotten. The Panama scandals and the trial of the De Lesseps,
father and son, with many others connected with the affair, are things
of the past: the United States Government have taken over the assets of
the derelict company, and innumerable American citizens are carried
annually to the scene of the great undertaking. From the moment the ship
leaves New York, all the talk on board is of the isthmus and the canal,
and those who have never visited the narrow belt of land look forward
eagerly to catching their first glimpse of this much-talked-of country.

But the unfamiliar light that is frequently diffused over all, producing
ever-changing and delicate tints of grey, purple, and blue, veils the
landscape in indistinctness, so that expectations of beholding a land on
which the sun pours down its burning rays, are unrealised, for a deluge
of rain almost invariably welcomes the visitor.

Directly the vessel is berthed, the formalities attendant upon landing
attract the attention. All the passengers are ordered into the saloon,
and are medically examined by the officer of health for the port. Those
unable to produce evidence of recent vaccination are promptly operated
upon, and negroes and negresses reappear upon deck with crimson stains
upon their long black arms, testifying to the work of the lancet.

Frightened mothers and terrified children are sobbing all around, adding
to the general din that arises with the arrival of a steamer. The rain
still pours from the leaden sky, which seems as if it could never
exhaust its weeping grief, and even in the short distance from the shed
upon the wharf to a ramshackle bus or cab, the exposure is sufficient to
ensure a thorough drenching.

The main street, and indeed all of Colon, has undergone great
improvements of recent years. A short drive and Christobal is reached, a
kind of suburb of Colon, now within the territory called Canal Zone,
owned by the American Government.

[Illustration: A FAMILY PARTY, COLON.]

It was in one of the many wooden bungalows built in the time of De
Lesseps, and facing Limon Bay, that I took up my first quarters on the
isthmus. The house is quite typical of hundreds throughout the Zone
occupied by the more responsible workers on the canal, and in every way
possible the comfort of the occupants is considered, and the
accommodation is ample for all ordinary purposes.

The verandahs surrounding the houses are securely screened with
fine-meshed copper gauze to prevent the intrusion of the fever-bearing
stegomyia mosquito and of the thousand other noxious insects which are
the pests of this tropical country.

Every window is covered in the same manner, the doors which open from
the verandahs being furnished with a strong spring, ensuring their being
kept shut. The water cisterns are all covered, as are the rain-water
tubs placed around the buildings, and there is no possibility of any
insect finding a suitable breeding ground. During the whole of my stay
on the isthmus I seldom encountered a mosquito, and it is no
exaggeration to say that this insect runs serious risk of sharing the
fate of the dodo.

The first work that the Americans undertook upon taking possession of
their new territory, was to put into operation all means conceivable for
the destruction of the mosquitoes, a work that would have been
impossible if the Commission had not possessed the power to direct the
sanitary and health measures in the towns of Panama and Colon, which
both lie outside of the Canal Zone, but are so intimately connected with
it as to be sources of danger, in case of epidemics. The maintenance of
law and order is also vested in the United States, in the event of the
Republic of Panama proving unable to cope with it.

For the greatest difficulty the Americans have had to contend with has
been the climatic conditions so fatal to the workers during the
construction of the Panama Railway in 1850, and throughout the
operations of the two ill-fated French Canal Companies.

The careful attention which the Health Department of the Canal
Commission has given to the sanitation and purification of their new
territory, as well as of the towns of Colon and Panama, has amply
justified the enormous expense by the wonderful results obtained. When
one considers that yellow fever has always been regarded by tropical
Americans as indigenous to their climate, it is indeed surprising that
this disease has been practically exterminated from the isthmus of
Panama in so short a time.

Houses have been entered, cleansed and fumigated; marshes drained,
stagnant water treated with petroleum and the bush and scrub around all
dwelling houses cut away, until haunt and breeding ground are alike
denied to the germ-bearing mosquito.

Everywhere one comes across members of the Sanitary Corps, either lowly
negroes and half-bred Indians with cans of petroleum from which they
drop a small quantity of oil on any stray pool or puddle that they come
to; or the doctors ever vigilant in their inspections of the most
out-of-the-way holes and corners in which dirt or disease might lurk.

[Illustration: A CAMP AT BALBOA.]

The large hospital at Colon, built upon piles over the seashore, was
erected originally by the French, but has been improved and modernised
until it is as well equipped as any similar institution. There has not
been a case of yellow fever within its walls for some years now, and the
many screens that formerly were placed around the beds have all been
stored away, except one, left as a specimen to show visitors the methods
employed in isolating patients suffering from the dread disease.

Colon has changed very much during the last ten years. The fires of 1885
and 1890 destroyed a great many of the wooden buildings of which it was
formerly composed; and the only old buildings of any pretensions to
durability are the railway station and offices, and a church which was
built by the pioneers of the isthmian route in the middle of the last
century. Reorganised and rebuilt for the purposes of the Atlantic
terminus of the canal, the most prominent features of the town to-day
are the large wharves and warehouses for the reception of the materials
and supplies for the vast project. Laundries, bakeries, schools,
court-houses and administration buildings, dwellings for employees,
hotels, stores and machine shops, have been erected on this erstwhile
mangrove swamp, an undertaking in itself of great magnitude.

A new railway terminus has been built. The trains which run each way,
three times daily, across the isthmus to Panama, carry passengers and
baggage to that city and to the numerous wayside stations along the
route. They are always crowded with employees of the Canal Commission,
and travellers on their way, via the Pacific port, to countries on the
western side of South America.

Along the route of the canal, which follows closely the line of the
railway, a busy scene of activity is presented. Only those who have
travelled backwards and forwards over the line many times, and have
branched off along the numerous side tracks that have been laid to carry
the excavated earth to convenient or necessary dumping grounds, can be
properly impressed with the magnitude and difficulty of the operations,
as evidenced not only by the existing works, but by continual reminders
of the French enterprise, in hundreds of disused and obsolete trucks,
engines and dredgers which lie half-sunk in deep morasses or overgrown
with dense vegetation.

The towns and villages that have sprung up along the line of the canal
have grown rapidly during the last two or three years, for although the
French had erected over two thousand buildings during their occupation,
the new owners have added so largely to that number that such towns as
Empire, Culebra, Las Cascadas, and Gatum are quite important and
considerable centres of industry, with schools, hotels, court-houses and
large dwelling houses scattered through them.

The headquarters of the Canal Commission are at Culebra, and it is here
also that the largest excavation work is going on. The hill of Culebra
(which means a “serpent”) is about thirty-six miles from Colon and ten
from Panama, and it was at this point that the two French companies
concentrated their efforts. The canal in course of construction, and now
nearing completion, is a high-level one, the amount of excavation being
considerably less than that required if De Lesseps’ original plan of a
sea-level route had been adhered to.

Thousands of persons every year visit this famous cutting, for in it the
majority of the great steam shovels are at work. The progress being made
is apparent, for on the long terraces the positions of the steam shovels
are always altering. Every now and then a great cloud of smoke and dust,
followed by a deafening roar, intimates that blasting operations are in
full swing. Dumpcars of the latest pattern have superseded the old
French ones; and the trains are now composed of a series of new trucks,
coupled together, one side of each car being left open with a movable
iron plate connecting it with its neighbour. A large truck at on end of
the train contains a powerful engine, which pulls a steel plough along
the trucks, emptying them of rock and dirt when the desired dumping
ground is reached. All day these long trains filled with spoil move
backwards and forwards through the cutting, at the different levels made
for them by the steam shovels. Gangs of labourers are kept busy laying
the tracks to enable the shovels to carve their way into the huge rocky
hill. The problem of keeping up a supply of men, fit to stand the
climate, has been solved by importing on to the scene Spaniards,
Portuguese, Italians, and West Indians, and they have endured the
climate surprisingly. It is astonishing that in a shade temperature of
from 89-91 so much energy can be displayed. In the rainy season the
conditions become very difficult to contend against. The River Chagres
rises and carries away long tracks of the railway, putting a stop to
operations for days at a time. The rainfall amounts on an average to
about one hundred and forty inches per annum, most of it falling from
September to May. Yet the work proceeds rapidly in spite of the rain.
The houses built for the labourers are all supplied with drying rooms,
which are very necessary adjuncts to any dwelling on the isthmus, for
otherwise it would be impossible to have any dry clothing.

But for the bad climatic and health conditions, the Panama Canal would
have been finished long ere this, and had the De Lesseps company had the
advantages of modern sanitary methods, the history of the canal might be
different. In England it has been customary to hear exaggerated accounts
of wasted money and material in Panama until the very name is almost
synonymous with fraud and deceit. But on the spot the American engineers
have discovered many evidences of the enormous amount of genuine work
accomplished by the early companies, under depressing circumstances and
difficulties. Much that they did has been utilised, houses, hospitals,
and hotels have been put into order, and have proved of great assistance
to the present owners. The task of keeping up a working force of thirty
thousand men, feeding, housing, and caring for them, can only be
appreciated by those who are acquainted with the tropics. As all
nationalities are to be found in the vast army at work, this means that
the labour camps to accommodate them have to be kept separate and the
food supplies carefully chosen, in accordance with the various tastes of
different nations. The world at large is the market in which the
authorities buy their provisions. It is bewildering to the layman, and
impossible for him to understand the numerous engineering problems into
which the work is divided. The rival schemes of high level, low level,
and sea level, have been subjected to the criticism of the world’s most
expert engineers for over a quarter of a century, and although the
original plan of a sea level waterway was abandoned by De Lesseps, it is
still held by many experts to be the only satisfactory one. The canal
scheme that is at present proceeding is one of locks. The River Chagres,
which rises in the surrounding hills, is subject to enormous floods, and
in the rainy season great tracts of country on the Atlantic side of the
isthmus are under water. Villages and workshops are swamped, the railway
tracks swept away and disorganisation sets in.

[Illustration: THE FIRST LABOUR CAMP, GATUM.]

The control of this river has been the subject of much anxious thought
and the experts’ opinion on it would fill volumes. The present plan
entailed the building of the great dam at Gatum, about seven miles from
the Atlantic terminus of the canal. This is now nearly completed and
fills a gap between two ranges of hills, and much of the excavated
material from the Culebra cutting (thirty miles distant) was dumped
here. As the dam is about a mile and a quarter in length and half a mile
in thickness, over two million cubic yards of material have been used
for its construction. It has great controlling water sluices and locks,
and completes the range of high ground, which will enclose an immense
lake eighty-five feet above the sea level, having an area of over one
hundred and seventy square miles. Towns and villages at present existing
in the territory that extends from Gatum to Culebra will disappear when
the great dam is finished, and the water is already being allowed to
collect to form the great lake. Double sets of locks have been built at
Gatum to raise ships up from the canal, a height of eighty-five feet.
Vessels of one thousand feet in length and one hundred feet beam have
been anticipated, and there will be accommodation for such boats when
they shall be built and present themselves for entrance to the canal.
The navigation channel through the great Gatum Lake will have a depth of
at least forty-five feet and a width at bottom of one thousand feet
until the Culebra cutting is reached, where the width will be diminished
to two hundred feet. About ten miles from the Pacific terminus of the
canal, at Pedro Miguel, the summit level will cease, at a series of
locks which will lower vessels thirty feet, into a channel five hundred
feet in width and about one mile in length. Two more locks at Miraflores
will lower vessels to the Pacific sea level. The channel from Miraflores
to Balboa (the Pacific terminus) will have a width of five hundred feet
right to the open sea. Dredging operations are being carried on for the
purpose of deepening and widening the channels at the Pacific and
Atlantic entrances. Large wharves for the reception of steamers have
been erected at Balboa, and dry docks for repairing have been
constructed. In Panama itself, although the city does not belong to the
United States Government, much money and time have been spent in putting
it into a proper sanitary condition, for by treaty with the Panamanian
Government the Canal Commission have jurisdiction over all matters
connected with health. This ancient Spanish city has now been properly
drained and a good water supply laid on, streets which were formerly
quagmires in the rainy season, have been transformed by stone pavements
thoroughly well laid by the Commission, but charged up to the Panamanian
Government.

[Illustration: THE OLD CHURCH ON THE ISLAND OF TOBAGO, OFF PANAMA.]

There are over five thousand white employees on the work. Police,
magistrates, school officers, medical men, mining engineers, surveyors,
train conductors, hotel managers, overseers, foremen, clerks,
dispensers, judges, mechanics, detectives, chemists, teachers, indeed
quite a state has grown up upon this tropical belt, which but for the
work in hand would be unexplored bush. The engineering shops at Matachin
have grown under the commission to four times the size of the original
French buildings, and are capable of accommodating for repairs and
putting together over twenty large locomotives at one time. Steam
shovels, cranes, trucks, ploughs, and rolling stock generally undergo
repairs in these shops. Everywhere along the line improved, modern,
up-to-date buildings are occupied as fast as they can be erected, and
the social side of life is highly developed. Dances, concerts, and
amateur theatricals are always going forward, while of out-of-door
sports the national game of baseball is easily first favourite.
Everything is done by the authorities to make life on the isthmus as
pleasant and enjoyable as possible, and very different from the early
days when necessities were difficult to obtain and luxuries impossible.
Ice is delivered to all the houses on the Canal Zone daily at a small
charge, and bread, vegetables, meat, everything in fact that a dainty
mortal can desire, is easily obtainable at the Commission’s Stores, so
that in this land of “Perpetual Thirst” there is little of hardship and
much of pleasure for the workers who have to live exiled from home.

The Commission has made a rule that every white employee shall take an
annual holiday and spend it in the United States, so that there is much
coming and going between the States and Panama. In fact, very few stay
for long and the ranks are being continually reinforced with fresh
recruits. The Commission have also a splendid sanatorium situated on the
island of Tobago, a few miles south of Panama. Here, amidst perfect
surroundings, the convalescents are nursed back to health and strength
and tended with the utmost care. Even strangers who are not in any way
connected with the canal, avail themselves of this retreat, and many
Panamanians make it a holiday resort. At the foot of Ancon Hill, just
outside the city of Panama, the Canal Commission have built a
magnificent hotel capable of accommodating over three hundred
first-class guests. It was opened in time to receive President Roosevelt
when he paid his memorable visit to the isthmus in November, 1906, and
since then has housed many other distinguished visitors.



CHAPTER V

_Of the Labourers on the Isthmus_


The most difficult problem that has to be faced by undertakers of
transit and construction schemes in South America is that of labour. The
natives of the tropical latitudes have little inclination or incentive
to give their time and strength to the furthering of projects that are
introduced into their countries, and it has always been necessary to any
enterprise on the isthmus requiring a large labour force to import men
from other places.

The first experiment was made many years ago by the early Spanish
settlers, who found it impossible in many places to subdue the native
Indians. Negroes from Africa were imported, but many of them contrived
to escape from the tasks set them by their enterprising masters, and
found their way into the country districts and gradually mixed with
Indians they fell in with, and so introduced new blood into the original
stock of the country. An attempt to introduce labour on to the isthmus
of Panama was made by the promoters and builders of the railway with
disastrous results.

The Chinese, who prove so efficient as labourers in nearly every other
part of the world, were a great disappointment, and although they are to
be found to-day on the isthmus in large numbers, they are not employed
in any calling that requires great strength and endurance.

The negroes who were imported proved to be the best available labour,
and ever since the railway was established the islands in the Caribbean
Sea have furnished much of the labour for Panama.

When the first French company started its operations, Jamaicans, tempted
by the high wages offered, flocked on to the scene, and when the work
was brought to a standstill in 1901 many of them were left stranded upon
the isthmus, and those unable to obtain other employment were shipped
back to their island at its expense. Many, however, remained and settled
upon small patches of unclaimed land and lived in a primitive fashion
without much difficulty, in a country which furnishes abundant
subsistence to the cultivator.

[Illustration: A LABOUR CAMP (EVENING), CANAL ZONE.]

The demand for labour again arose when the U.S.A. Government restarted
operations, and numerous sources were tapped to supply sufficient
numbers of efficient pick-and-shovel men.

Naturally attention was turned in the negro’s direction, for he is
indispensable when such work is forward. Those who urge his expulsion
_en masse_ from the Northern States overlook the firm hold which he has
got on the plantations of the South. However high racial prejudice may
occasionally rise against him, he has made himself absolutely necessary
to the Southern planter, who would be ruined if black labour were
withdrawn. Besides, it is not a particularly easy task to expel ten
millions of people.

It is interesting to note that the nigger is far more appreciated in
South America than he is in the northern part of the continent. In
Anglo-Saxon colonies the laws against the blacks have always been more
stringent and oppressive than those of Spain, Portugal, and France. So
much is the negro valued in Latin America that many of the Republics
were unwilling to allow their black labour to be recruited for the
canal. Only recently the Argentine Consul in Panama sent word to his
Government that fifteen thousand of the workmen on the Zone were
disposed to transfer themselves to the wheatfields of the South.

Through the action of a Governor of Jamaica in refusing to allow negroes
from that island to go to the isthmus (unless upon terms to which the
Canal Commission found it impossible to agree) other countries were
tried, to make up for the loss of Jamaica as a recruiting ground. Cuba,
whence many of the Spanish settlers were brought, suggested to the
labour department that Spain would be a likely place from which to
obtain labourers, and many were imported on to the work, and proved the
wisdom of the choice. Italians also were brought, while the Jamaicans
arrived in great numbers, although not under any form of contract.
Barbadians, Martiniquians, and Trinidadians flocked in, but all of the
negro labourers who are on the work are liable to take a holiday
frequently and return to their native countries to spend, in
ostentatious display, the money they have earned.

These negroes of the different islands exhibit such lack of sympathy
with one another, that the authorities are compelled to house them in
separated camps.

The Barbadians predominate on the isthmus, probably because theirs is
the most densely populated island, and they have rapidly made themselves
acquainted with the conditions on the Zone, settling down as if it were
their native land.

The British West Indian negro has a great contempt for and prejudice
against those of his own colour who speak the French, Dutch, or Spanish
language, and whenever an altercation or argument arises between negroes
of the different nationalities, reference is frequently made to the
prowess and prestige or weakness and decadence of the rival nations.
This characteristic is set out by the old joke which probably originated
on the West Coast of Africa, but has of recent years been told of the
West Indians. “Yah, you big, black, ugly Frenchman!” a huge Barbadian
yelled at a Martinique gentleman of colour who was getting the better of
him in argument. “What we give you at Waterloo, eh?”

The Barbadian has generally appropriated a name illustrious by the
achievements of its original owner. A Mr. Horatio Nelson introduced
himself to me one day near Gorgona, and when I suggested that his was a
strange name, he assured me that it was quite a well-known one in
England, and that one of his ancestors had made it famous. And on my
still professing ignorance of it, he was very hurt and said, “You must
be Frenchmans.”

The labourer from Barbados is a big, strong, impudent fellow, and has
not got the same good name for honesty as his Jamaican cousin, although
he is undoubtedly the better workman. But the negroes who have swarmed
in hordes to the isthmus are reluctant to put forth all their strength
and energy in profitable labour.

They will employ their hours of leisure in dancing till they stream with
perspiration, but they are true artists in avoiding real work. Yet the
strength which they undoubtedly possess is often shown in their moments
of forgetfulness.

A gang of negroes were engaged in removing long, heavy lengths of timber
a distance of about two hundred yards. After they had all gazed for some
time at the stack, they were cajoled by the foreman into making a start,
which was not accomplished without considerable palaver, the point of
discussion being as to whether three men were sufficient to carry each
beam.

Two of the gang, having lifted a heavy beam between them, returned to
the discussion carrying it on their shoulders apparently little
inconvenienced by its weight, and stood for fully ten minutes thus
burdened continuing the argument. After a short acquaintance with them,
their indolent ways and casual manner become so familiar as to excite
little notice.

The quarters in which they are housed are shut during working hours, and
none are permitted to enter the premises at night until they have
produced evidence that they have put in a day’s work. Should they be
unwell, they are examined by the doctor at the nearest dispensary and
treated for their complaint. If only slightly indisposed and requiring a
little more rest, they are placed in a building set apart for the
purpose and allowed to loll about, read, smoke, or sleep until
pronounced fit to resume their labours. In serious cases, of course, the
patients are at once removed to hospital either at Colon or Ancon.

The accommodation provided for the labourers in the camps all along the
canal work have been very severely criticised by a coloured journalist
who lives in Jamaica, and who has paid brief visits to the isthmus in
order to discover if his fellow countrymen were receiving that attention
and care which he considered their due.

Any evidence of labourers’ habitations in Jamaica half as good as those
provided by the Canal Commission would be difficult to obtain, for the
miserable dirty yards which for the most part form the dwellings of the
West Indian negroes in their own islands, with the disgusting huddling
together of animals and human beings, cannot for a moment be compared
with the cleanly large dormitories fitted with iron-framed bunks which
are provided for them on the Zone.

Due regard is given to cubic air space by the Health Department, which
insists on five hundred feet for each occupant, whilst the old tin cans
and heterogeneous rubbish which the nigger is so fond of collecting and
hoarding are rigorously excluded from the dormitories, only reasonable
belongings which will not offend against the comfort and health of the
inmates being admitted.

The buildings are raised on pillars about five or six feet from the
ground, and the large space underneath has to be carefully inspected by
the health officers, for, under the pretence of utilising this shelter
as a store for odds and ends, there is a great danger of its becoming a
heaving rubbish heap.

Sidewalks and drains have been laid all through the labour camps, and
little could be done to improve or better the majority of them. In the
married quarters, placed at a distance from those occupied by single
men, it is more difficult to prevent the tenants from indulging in their
extraordinary propensity for hoarding up a miscellaneous pile of
articles of no possible use or value. If left to themselves, the
labouring negroes neglect to give much care and attention to their
dwellings, notwithstanding that many of them appear in public on high
days and holidays dressed in the latest fashions, displaying spotless
white linen, and giving the impression to casual beholders that they are
neat and cleanly in their habits.

The picturesque costumes which are worn by the women from Martinique are
reminiscent of the fashions that were in vogue in Paris fifty years ago,
while the slight Oriental touch which the brightly coloured
handkerchiefs tied round their heads impart is picturesque and
attractive. The material of which their gowns are composed has weird
patterns and in few other communities is there a variety of quaintly
coloured prints to equal those worn by the women who hail from
Martinique.

[Illustration: A TOILET ON THE ZONE.]

All these Martiniquian women appear to be very tall, their thin lithe
bodies, and small heads accentuating the effect, and the gracefulness of
their erect carriage and walk is aided by the long ample folds of their
walking skirts, when gathered up and thrown negligently over their arms.

There was a great deal of talk some little time back about the presence
of these women on the Zone, and allegations were freely made that the
United States Government were paying their expenses to the isthmus, and
that the purpose for which they were brought was one that no Government
could officially sanction. After a great deal of investigation, much
evidence was collected, which went to prove that the women whose moral
character had been called in question were quite respectable, and were
meritoriously engaged as domestic servants and washerwomen, earning
wages far in excess of those obtainable in their island home. Their
presence on the Zone is doubtless appreciated by many of their fellow
countrymen, and keeps them from growing homesick, for the dancings and
rejoicings which they amuse themselves with on holidays and Sundays help
to encourage a spirit of contentment.

Over a hundred and sixty affidavits were made by Martinique women upon
the isthmus at the beginning of the year 1906, for the purpose of
refuting the charges which were brought against them by newspapers in
the United States, and the Governor of the Canal Zone at the time, C. E.
Magoon, in a letter to the Secretary of War, stated that many of the
women were much alarmed when questioned about the articles that had
appeared against them, and were apprehensive lest they should be
deported back to Martinique. They most willingly gave evidence as to
their occupation. They were well satisfied with the wages they were
earning and the conditions under which they lived, and all of them
protested strongly against the statement that they were “living in sin.”
The marriage customs among all the West Indian Islands differ from those
obtaining in more civilised communities, and to rigid moralists of
northern latitudes may seem rather lax and casual. Few of the women who
subscribed to the affidavits put forward were able to write, only
twenty-seven out of the whole number being able to sign their
testimonies, the other hundred and forty all making a cross. All the
names betrayed, as one would expect, the French origin of their owners.
Some of them were ingeniously fanciful and almost ludicrous.

Such names as “Susering Johnabatist,” “Danshale Alptired,” “Catherine
Maxemen,” “Vuss Marie,” sound rather odd, and the alliteration of names
like “Pauline S’Paul,” “Dennis Denir,” “Philomen Philibert,” “Alcina
Alcide,” is doubtless intentional, whilst a few like “Gabriel Paralo,”
“Fluce Bernadette,” “Eleonore” have a romantic and not unpleasant sound.

But the Martiniquians are not alone in possessing extraordinary names. I
remember looking through the register, kept in an official’s office in
one of the West Indian islands, and was amazed at the extraordinary
names written in it. I asked how it was possible for such inappropriate
appellations to have been selected by negroes who surely could hardly
have seen them before. The official produced a large old-fashioned
dictionary, and explained that when parties came to register the birth
of a child and were at a loss for a name, he would read out a list of
long words, the most unsuitable of which was sure to be selected by the
parents, regardless of absurdity. Fancy a small black child with little
clothing or dignity having to support such a name as “Bathybius
Johnston.” Luckily, the registered name is forgotten in a day or two,
and unless a copy is written out the child usually grows up accustomed
to hear itself called by some commonplace and familiar nickname.

During the year 1906-7 there were over twenty-four thousand labourers
employed upon the isthmus by the Canal Commission, and most of these
were imported from the neighbouring West Indian Islands and Italy and
Spain, as it was found difficult to obtain the necessary labour from
among the natives.

The country life of Panama is simple, and it requires little effort to
supply the necessities of life. The poorer classes of Panamanians who
dwell in the country are a mixture of Spanish, Indians, and negroes--all
living a more or less primitive life. Marriages are very rare amongst
this class, for the women prefer to remain independent of their mates,
dreading the ill treatment which is usually meted out by the lords of
creation to wives who cannot escape from their bondage. The more common
form of family life is one in which the man and woman form a
partnership, which can easily be terminated by mutual agreement, and
when a parting occurs a division of the household belongings and assets
takes place even down to the children.

Their houses are of the simplest construction, consisting of a few trees
stuck into the ground roofed over with palm or other suitable leaves.
Some of the huts constructed in this manner have an extra room in the
roof, which is approached by a roughly constructed ladder. The sides or
walls of the huts are made of bamboo split and woven into a kind of
rough matting, although some have walls made of the bamboos placed side
by side, the intervening spaces being filled in with clay. Partitions
devised in the same way are made inside some of the dwellings. As one
would imagine, the furniture contained in most of these houses is of the
simplest and most elementary description.

Hammocks are used instead of beds for sleeping in, and stumps of trees
serve for tables and chairs. The food consists of frigoles, (a kind of
bean), bananas, plantains, and yams--which form the vegetable and
fruitarian portion of their repasts, while for meats they have so large
a variety to choose from that there is no need for them to complain of
the monotony of their fare. Monkeys and the large lizard, the iguana,
make favourite dishes. Wild turkeys, ducks, red deer, the wild hog or
peccary all find a place on their menus, and they have the art which all
countries seem to possess of brewing intoxicating beverages, the kind
they make being fermented from the sap of a species of the palm. This
custom dates from a very early time, long before the Spaniard first set
foot upon these shores. Tobacco has been in use among the Indians of
America for ages (the followers of Columbus were astonished to see the
natives puffing out clouds of smoke from their mouths), and the leaf of
the soothing weed grows around them at every turn. A little skill in
hunting and hardly any in cultivating are all that is necessary to
maintain existence in this fertile country, and until the native is
convinced that there are things in life worth possessing which at
present he has not got, he will never see the advantage of toiling and
sweating to earn money he knows not how to spend, or to live a life he
could not enjoy.

Thus he spends his days in a country that is to him

    “A fair Utopian mead
       Where his throat is never dusty,
     And tobacco grows a weed.”

The negroes from the West Indian Islands have been so long in contact
with the higher forms of civilisation that they have acquired some of
the habits which belong to the white races, and although there is not in
any of the countries which they hail from the compelling force of hunger
to make them work, the customs of dress and living which they have
acquired induce them to labour, in order to secure the artificial
embellishments they have come to consider necessary to existence. The
isthmus and the canal work have been a happy hunting ground for the
negro who wished to enrich himself; and ever since the French Canal
Company started operations, it has been almost a habit with many of the
Jamaicans and Barbadians to go there and work for a time to earn high
wages.

The negroes on the isthmus noticed with increasing alarm the gradual
importation of peons from other countries--Spain and Italy in
particular--and felt that they were quickly losing the secure position
hitherto occupied. I have watched a group of nigger labourers standing
outside the wharves at Colon when five hundred Spanish labourers were
disembarking from a Royal Mail steamer, and although their faces were as
impassive as statues their conversation betrayed their apprehensions.

The labourers recruited from all parts of Spain have settled down upon
the isthmus; many of them are at work in the

[Illustration: A STREET IN THE OLD QUARTERS, PANAMA.]

Culebra cut and elsewhere. There can be no two opinions as to their
superiority to the negro as pick-and-shovel men, and the foremen have no
trouble in keeping them at their tasks, as these men have a little
common sense and intelligence, as well as brute strength.

[Illustration: WATER-BABIES BY A RIVER-SIDE.]

They are employed in clearing away the bush, cutting down undergrowth,
laying railway tracks, and attending upon the clearing of the dump
trains, and it is surprising how quickly they get accustomed to their
new surroundings. At first there was a little difficulty in supplying
them with the kind of food they desired and were used to, and the negro
cooks who waited upon them were apt to steal some of the rations served
out and give them short measure. I remember seeing a body of about forty
Spaniards advance to the headquarters office at Culebra to lodge a
complaint about their food.

The two ringleaders had with them an old tin can containing water that
was very dirty and a piece of meat that was certainly far from being
choice. They had come about five miles to see someone in authority and
air their grievance. It was pointed out to them that because they were
in possession of some stagnant water and putrid beef it was no evidence
that it had been served to them as food, and they were sent back with a
promise that their camp should be properly inspected. It turned out that
the deputation had been organised with the express purpose of getting
rid of a Barbadian cook against whom they had a grudge. They had hunted
round the district for the dirtiest water they could find, and had been
fortunate in coming across a piece of stinking meat that had been thrown
out of some wayside shack. So much regard for their comfort had been
displayed by the officials that there was a tendency on the part of
these Spanish labourers to presume upon it by bringing all their natural
cunning into play.

On Sundays and holidays groups of the Spaniards congregate in Panama.
They look very picturesque with their great balloon-like trousers and
shirts of many colours, and their habit of carrying their coats and
jackets on their shoulders like a mantle. They have not yet adopted the
lighter styles of clothing usually worn in the tropics, but they do not
seem to suffer unduly from the heat. Many of them have very fierce,
villainous expressions, and it may well be that the Spanish Government
spends less in support of its jails and prisons since so many of its
subjects have found employment upon the isthmus.

There is a disposition on the part of these native recruits to the
labour forces of the Zone to settle, and not a few of them send home for
their wives and families. It does not seem at all unreasonable to
suppose that the example of their forefathers will be followed by many
of them, and it certainly would not be an undesirable thing to have a
fresh influx of new blood.

The rapid increase of private building operations in Panama and Colon,
and in the many smaller towns along the line, has given the labourer
opportunities for selling his services to a variety of employers, and
for years to come there will be a large demand for skilled workmen as
well.



CHAPTER VI

_Canal Projects: Old and New_


The transcendent egotist who declared that had he planned the universe
he would have made health and not disease infectious, would also surely
have included in his schemes the omission of the narrow neck of land
which joins the two American continents. For ever since its discovery,
the isthmus of Darien has been but an obstacle that men have wished to
overcome by cutting through it a waterway to connect the two oceans
which it divides. Whether Cortez ever penetrated so far south as Darien
or no, certain it is that he searched diligently for a passage to the
Pacific, declaring this to be the one thing above all others he was most
desirous of meeting with.

For the best of all reasons, the persistent attempts to discover what
was called the “The Secret of the Straits” proved unsuccessful, and it
remained for human energy and ingenuity to create what nature had failed
to provide.

As far back as the beginning of the sixteenth century, when the newly
founded city of Panama was fast becoming a flourishing emporium for
Pacific trade, a proposition was put forward by Angel Saavedra for a
canal across the isthmus, and thirty years later Antonio Galvao was
suggesting no fewer than four different canal routes.

Spain was, however, jealously guarding her new colonies and any
information concerning them, fearing an awakened interest on the part of
other powers. To such an extent did this policy prevail that, according
to one authority, the mere proposal to open up navigation between the
two oceans, or to explore the River Atrato with that object, was
punishable with death. The Spaniards themselves possessed neither the
skill nor the perseverance to carry out such a work as the excavation of
a canal, and dreaded the undertaking of such a project by some more
enterprising nation.

[Illustration: AN OLD CHURCH AND BUILDINGS, PANAMA.]

They relied upon ignorance as a means of prevention, and appealed to the
superstition of the age by declaring that the disturbing of what was a
design of nature would undoubtedly result in the vengeance of Heaven on
anyone attempting such a work.

The reports of the gold to be found in this region attracted the
buccaneers, and led to their exploring the country to no small extent.

It can readily be understood that the fame of their exploits and their
success in acquiring rich treasure by no means accorded with the policy
of His Majesty of Spain who, in 1685, closed down, by royal decree, the
gold mines on account of their being such an attraction to the pirates,
inducing them to undertake the transit from the sea of the north to the
sea of the south, to the prejudice of the public cause.

When, however, the power of Spain began to decline and her hold over her
colonies gradually relaxed, a quickened interest arose in the Panama
trade route, whilst the ever-increasing wealth pouring across the
isthmus on mules’ backs or men’s shoulders, continually emphasised the
necessity for better facilities of transit. By the end of the eighteenth
century it had come to be recognised on all sides that the interests of
international commerce demanded the opening up of a line of
communication across this strip of land; and the construction of other
canals such as the Caledonian and the Forth and Clyde, gave an impetus
to the idea of a waterway from the Atlantic to the Pacific at a
favourable point.

The early years of the next century saw the first of a number of
explorations with the object of determining the most favourable point,
and in 1827 Bolivar, the liberator of Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru from
the yoke of Spain, commissioned Captain Lloyd and M. Falmarc to survey
the isthmus. It seems but natural that these two explorers should start
from Panama and follow the old road to Cruces. From that point they
worked their way down the River Chagres to within a few miles of where
it empties itself into the Atlantic.

Their observations led them to the opinion that a canal scheme was
premature, and for immediate purposes they recommended a combined rail
and water route, by means of a short canal from Limon Bay to the Chagres
River, and the use of its tributary the Trinidad, to a spot favourable
for a junction whence a railway could be established to the Pacific
coast either at Panama or Chorrera. It is curious how subsequent events
have endorsed the ideas of these two men, and that developments have
followed so closely upon the lines they suggested, by the construction,
in the first instance, of a railway the whole distance from Limon Bay to
Panama, and then by the present undertaking of a canal to follow almost
the same route.

Whether Bolivar purposed carrying out the ideas of the pioneers he sent
forth, or was merely calculating possibilities, was never known; for by
one of those frequent internal rearrangements which afflict South
American republics, New Granada separated from Colombia and formed
itself into an independent state.

Thirty years before Bolivar had instigated a survey for canal purposes
in the Central American isthmus, Napoleon I had ordered a survey of the
Isthmus of Suez with the idea of connecting by canal the Red Sea and the
Mediterranean. Possibly this was the origin of the fascination which
canal building seems ever since to have exercised over certain minds in
France.

The New Granada State had not been long in existence as a separate
national entity, ere a French company succeeded in obtaining from its
Government a concession for the construction of highways, railroads, or
canals, from Panama to the Atlantic coast.

The surveys and plans made by this company during the following years
were characteristically optimistic and included a claim to have
discovered a route which at no point would reach a higher altitude than
thirty-seven feet above the mean level of the Pacific Ocean. Such was
the interest aroused in France by this alleged discovery, that M.
Guizot, at that time Minister of Foreign Affairs, despatched Napoleon
Garella to verify the company’s statements by an independent survey. His
survey and report thereon were so much at variance with the statements
of the Salomon Company, and his inability to discover the pass through
the divide (which they asserted to exist) had such an effect on the
prospects of the company as led to its dissolution.

Garella, however, agreed largely with Lloyd’s conclusions, particularly
as to the desirability of making Limon Bay the Atlantic terminus of a
canal; and his proposition was for a summit level waterway, reached on
either side by a series of locks.

Lloyd’s observations had also been proved reliable by the confirmation
of Mr. Wheelwright, whose survey was made on behalf of the Pacific Steam
Navigation Company trading between Panama and the ports on the Pacific
coast. At this time the Atlantic port of the isthmus was Chagres, at the
mouth of the river of the same name, to and from which the trade was
conducted by the vessels of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company, who
reopened a line of communication which had been practically abandoned
since the Spanish occupation of the isthmus. Anxious to improve their
route and add security to the transit of merchandise across the isthmus,
this company instructed their colonial superintendent, Captain Liot,
R.N., “to obtain such information as might be useful in guiding the
directors to a sound opinion as to the practicability of influencing the
transit of passengers, specie, etc., between Europe, North America, and
the Pacific, making the same pass through the Isthmus of Panama instead
of by the route round Cape Horn.”

Captain Liot spent a month in exploring the isthmus in company with Mr.
McGeachy, the Crown Surveyor of Jamaica. On his return to England he was
deputed by a number of commercial magnates in the City of London to
ascertain whether the British Government of the day were willing to
afford such guarantees and immunities as would secure a transit company
against undue risk, should such a corporation decide to establish a
macadamised carriage road, or railroad, from Porto Bello to Panama. The
Government discouraged the idea, and the project was abandoned; but
Captain Liot subsequently published his manuscript containing his
impressions and views, and these are interesting reading, were it only
for his striking prediction that, for at least half a century to come, a
railway or carriage road were the only two propositions that would pay.
The interest aroused at this time in the idea of inter-oceanic
communication is evidenced by the Bulwer-Clayton Treaty of 1850, by
which the Governments of Great Britain and the United States pledged
themselves to do all in their power to facilitate the construction of a
canal, and to maintain its neutrality when constructed. During the early
fifties the attention of American engineers was more particularly
directed to two canal routes farther north, one of which was across the
Isthmus of Tehuantepec, by way of the Coatzacoalcas River.

Not unknown to Cortez, this route had been surveyed in 1842 by Moro,
under the direction of José de Garay, whose scheme for a canal in this
district involved a waterway of one hundred and fifty miles in length.

As the maximum altitude to be reached was estimated at 656 feet (De
Lesseps says 975 feet) above sea-level, Garay’s plan necessitated the
construction of from one hundred to one hundred and fifty locks, and it
was calculated that the passage from sea to sea would occupy a period of
twelve days to accomplish. Within the last few years the Tehuantepec
Railway has been constructed, and is now open for traffic. Should this
prove as successful as is anticipated, there is little likelihood that
anything more will be heard of a canal scheme here to compete with the
one approaching completion in Panama. The other route, in the northern
part of the American isthmus, was by way of Lake Nicaragua, and had been
investigated as early as 1779 by Manuel Galisteo, who passed an opinion
unfavourable to a canal project in this locality. However, some British
agents at Belize, who accompanied Galisteo’s expedition in a private
capacity, sent home glowing accounts to their Government; creating such
an impression that when, a year later, war broke out between England and
Spain, Captain Horatio Nelson organised an expedition to acquire
possession of the Nicaraguan territory.

Although he was successful as far as the Spaniards were concerned, the
climate proved an irresistible enemy, and few of the expedition
survived to return to Jamaica. Nelson himself only escaped with life,
after a long and severe illness.

[Illustration: A STRETCH OF THE CHAGRES RIVER.]

Forty years afterwards John Bailey, sent out by an English corporation,
surveyed the Nicaragua route, and made an able report, in which he
projected a canal by way of the San Juan River and Lake Nicaragua, to
the River Lajas, and thence to San Juan del Sur on the Pacific coast.

The Americans have always looked with favour on a scheme for a canal
here, owing to the fact that Lake Nicaragua, which is one hundred and
ten miles long by thirty-five miles broad, offers navigation for a
considerable portion of the route to be traversed. This lake, situated
some hundred and twenty-five feet above the level of the sea, is fed by
about forty different streams, and empties itself by means of the River
San Juan into the Gulf of Mexico.

Difficulties, however, exist in the cataracts by which the course of
this river is broken. Strangely enough one of these is the handiwork of
those inhabitants of the country who, to block the river against
incursions by the buccaneers, sank vessels in it and threw in fallen
trees and masses of rock to form a barrier. To canalise the San Juan
would involve the construction of seven or eight locks, and this was
part of the proposal of Colonel Childs, who in 1852 surveyed the route
for the purposes of a canal.

In addition to the utilisation of this river and the fifty-five miles of
available navigation on the lake, he estimated that a cutting would have
to be made for a distance of forty-seven miles, the total length of the
route being one hundred and ninety-four miles, and the time occupied in
traversing it being from four to six days. Further locks, to the number
of twenty-eight, were embodied in his scheme, together with piers and
embankments at each end of the lake, and finally the creation of
harbours both on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

So little was realised of the extent to which shipbuilding would develop
that this proposed canal was only to be of a depth of from seventeen to
twenty feet, and capable of accommodating vessels of under 1999 tons
burden.

At the same time that Colonel Childs was carrying on his survey in
Nicaragua, an expedition under Mr. Lionel Gisborne was traversing the
Darien in the neighbourhood of the Savana River, to verify, on behalf of
an English syndicate, the observations and representations of Dr. Edward
Cullen, an enthusiast who urged the construction of a canal from the
Gulf of San Miguel, by way of the Savana River, to Caledonia Bay, the
site of the ill-fated Scottish colony.

Between the undoubtedly excellent natural harbours, which exist both at
the Pacific and Atlantic ends of this route, the distance across the
isthmus is but thirty-nine miles, and only about thirty miles of actual
cutting would be necessary.

According to Gisborne’s report, no engineering difficulties stood in the
way of making a cut of sufficient capacity to form an uninterrupted
navigation free from locks from sea to sea.

The course of the projected canal was a perfectly straight one, and the
greatest depth of cutting required was estimated to be about 150 feet
for a distance of two miles. It was claimed that no dredging or
deepening of the River Savana would be required, or any other work, such
as the construction of dams or locks, be necessary.

A concession from the Government of New Granada was obtained, and a
company formed and provisionally registered. There was nothing to be
done but to make a simple cut some twenty-five or thirty miles long,
thirty feet deep and one hundred and forty feet wide at bottom, and all
at an estimated cost of only £12,000,000; and yet the scheme fell
through.

[Illustration: INTERIOR OF A SHACK ON THE ISTHMUS.]

The glowing accounts of both Cullen and Gisborne as to the suitableness
of the locality, and the absence of difficulty in the carrying out of
the work, cause considerable wonder as to the reason for the abandonment
of the scheme; for not till twenty years later did Commander Selfridge
prove the statements of Cullen and Gisborne to be erroneous, when in the
course of an able survey of this region, he showed that a canal through
it would necessitate a tunnel of ten miles in length. At least there was
no lack of public interest in the question of piercing the isthmus, for
farther south in the Darien three particular routes were being
investigated. The first of these, by the way of the rivers Atrato and
San Juan, had aroused hope on account of a report common amongst the
natives that there was in the divide, between these two rivers, a low
depression which the Indians used as a portage for their canoes when
travelling from sea to sea.

Indeed there was a tradition of a waterway having been cut through the
short distance separating the higher reaches of these two rivers, but
this was never verified. A second Atrato route was by using that river
in conjunction with the River Bando, whilst still a third proposed to
cross from the Bay of Cupica to the River Atrato.

A further contribution to the possibilities of the Darien region in
respect of a canal was the discovery in 1865, by M. de Lacharme, of a
passage from the Rio Paya, an affluent of the Tuyra, to the Rio Caquiri,
which flows into the Atrato; and his consequent survey of the rivers
Tuyra and Paya. But it would be difficult even to mention the numerous
surveys, plans, and projects that evidenced the eager desire which
existed to gain the immense advantages that would accrue to the
commercial world by the opening of ship canal communication between the
Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

In a report by Admiral Davis of the U.S. Navy, made in 1867, he
enumerates no fewer than nineteen separate canal projects, besides seven
proposed railroads, in the isthmus between Tehuantepec and the Atrato
River. But the question of the location for a canal was most naturally
settled by the construction of the Panama Railway, which, in spite of
extreme difficulties, was completed in 1855 and opened for goods and
passenger traffic between Colon and Panama.

I have described elsewhere the construction of this line and the
immediate causes which contributed thereto. The facilities for transit
which it offers could not but render its route the most fitting one for
the making of a canal across the isthmus; but the railway had been in
operation for sixteen years before recent developments with regard to
canal construction began with a series of international geographical
congresses, the first of which was held in Antwerp in the year 1871.

The question of a ship canal across the American isthmus was discussed
at this congress, and the project recommended to the attention of the
great maritime powers and of the scientific societies throughout the
world.

Four years later, at a second Congress in Paris, the question again came
up for consideration. At the sittings of this Congress there was present
Ferdinand de Lesseps, who was then at the height of his reputation,
having a few years previously, in spite of difficulties and oppositions,
fulfilled all his predictions and carried to a successful issue his
scheme for a canal from Suez to Port Said. Little wonder that his
eloquence had great weight! He told the Congress how all the authors of
the various projects for connecting the Atlantic with the Pacific had,
up to that time, made the mistake of committing themselves to a canal
with locks of fresh water.

[Illustration: THE OLD PANAMA RAILWAY TRACK.]

Arguing from his triumph at Suez, he declared that none but a sea-level
canal should be attempted, and that such a canal was alone likely to
meet the wants of international commerce.

Again a resolution was passed, urging that facilities should be given
for the construction of a canal in this part of the world; but
resolutions, being merely expressions of opinion, somewhat resemble good
intentions in vagueness of destination. However, an active step forward
was taken by the appointment of a committee to further the project.

As a result of the enthusiasm that had been aroused, a syndicate at once
sprang into existence for the purpose of carrying on exploration in
Central America, ostensibly with the view of discovering the most
suitable route, but no doubt with the prime object of making as much
profit as possible from any concessions it might acquire there.

Lieutenant Lucien Napoleon Bonaparte Wyse (whose name was surely enough
to ruin any enterprise) was despatched to the isthmus, and landed there
in 1876. He was brother-in-law to General Turr, who controlled the
syndicate, and seems to have thoroughly understood the object of his
mission, for he not only made a survey, but also an estimate of the cost
of a canal.

Whether the survey was in any way a reliable one is open to question,
but there can be no doubt that the estimate was very wide of the mark,
although he confidently claimed that his figures would be found to be
within ten per cent of the actual cost, which alas! has not yet been
ascertained.

But most important of all doubtless from the syndicate’s standpoint, he
succeeded in obtaining, from the Government of what had by this time
become the United States of Colombia, a concession granting the
exclusive privilege of constructing a canal between the two oceans
through the territory of that republic; reserving always the neutrality
of such canal and its terminal ports, and respecting the rights of the
Panama Railroad Company.

Thus did the “giving of facilities,” urged by the resolution of the
Congress of 1875, degenerate into the “granting of an exclusive
monopoly” to a speculative syndicate three years later. In the following
year the International Congress again met in Paris to consider proposals
for an interoceanic canal.

M. de Lesseps presided at this Congress, and five different schemes were
discussed; these being the proposals for canals at Tehuantepec,
Nicaragua, Panama, San Blas and Atrato, already described.

The three last-named all fell within the scope of the “exclusive rights”
granted to the Turr Syndicate, and from the first the Congress favoured
the scheme of Lieutenant Wyse, which, at their request, he modified so
as to substitute a cutting for the proposed tunnel at the divide. The
Panama scheme was now the only one before the Congress which provided
for a canal without a tunnel and without locks, and by a majority of
seventy-eight votes against eight (twelve delegates abstaining from
voting) it was affirmed that:

“The cutting of an interoceanic canal of uniform level, a work so
desirable in the interest of commerce and navigation, is practicable,
and the maritime canal, in order to meet the indispensable facilities of
access and utilisation which ought to be offered by a passage of this
kind, should be made from the Gulf of Limon to the Bay of Panama.”

As was most natural, De Lesseps was urged to undertake the direction of
the work, and, although at his advanced age he might fairly have rested
on his laurels won at Suez, this veteran agreed to conduct another
enterprise, fraught with international advantage and blessings to
posterity.

That he underestimated the difficulties attending the task has been
abundantly demonstrated, but nothing should lessen our admiration for
the courage and enthusiasm with which he assumed the responsibility, and
the untiring energy he displayed. To whomsoever may ultimately belong
the honour of completing the canal, to Ferdinand de Lesseps will always
be due the credit of having initiated the work.

Following upon the report of the Congress, there was issued on 23 July,
1879, the prospectus of a company called “La Compagnie Universelle du
Canal Interoceanique de Panama,” but more generally and conveniently
known as the Panama Canal Company.

The suggested capital was 400,000,000 francs, or £16,000,000, to consist
of 800,000 shares of 500 francs or £20 each. Of these 790,000 were to be
issued to the public, whilst 10,000 were reserved for the original
concessionaires. It was proposed to call up only 125 francs (£5) per
share at first, and interest at the rate of 5 per cent per annum was to
be paid during construction on the actual money received.

Even an estimated revenue of 90,000,000 francs annually from the canal
when completed was not sufficient inducement to the public, and the
issue failed; only about one-tenth of the capital offered being
subscribed for.

M. de Lesseps, accompanied by a technical commission of engineers, one
of whom was Heer J. Dircks, of the Amsterdam Canal, visited the isthmus;
and their opinion was that the canal could be constructed for about
thirty-four millions sterling and be completed in eight years.
Subsequently De Lesseps undertook a tour through the United States,
England, Holland, and Belgium, and a number of towns in France,
lecturing on behalf of his scheme; and it is difficult to doubt the
_bona fides_ of this indefatigable octogenarian, or his implicit faith
in the achievement of his design, especially when it is remembered that
he is said to have sunk 309,000 francs of private fortune in the
venture.

The assistance of journalists and financial groups was called in, or
perhaps it would be more correct to say bought in, and such enthusiasm
was worked up that when next offered the capital asked for was
subscribed more than twice over.

But a false step had been taken, and henceforth, instead of selfish and
ambitious considerations being secondary to the grand ideal of cutting
from ocean to ocean a highway of nations for the benefit of the commerce
of the world at large, a sordid profit-grasping spirit seems to have
possessed the promoters and the public to whom they so successfully
appealed.

Early in January of the year 1881 a party of engineers left Paris, and
by the end of February were at work on the scene of operations.

The canal planned by the De Lesseps company followed very closely the
route of the existing railway between Colon and Panama, and was to be
about fifty-four miles in length.

[Illustration: JAMAICAN LABOURER ON THE ZONE]

It was to be constructed on a sea-level plan, with the bottom 28 feet
below the mean level of the oceans. At the bottom the width of the canal
was to be 72 feet, and at the surface of the water 160 feet, except in
the section through the divide at Culebra, where, although with depth of
29-1/2 feet and a width at bottom of nearly 79 feet, the surface width
narrowed almost to one-half and would be only 92 feet. The two great
difficulties of an engineering nature which confronted the undertaking
were the excavation of the cut through the divide at Culebra and the
control of the Chagres River with its tributaries, which during the
rainy season are subject to extraordinary floods, the waters having been
known to rise as much as 38 feet in as many hours.

For the control of this river the French company proposed to construct a
huge reservoir at Gamboa, the dam being so designed as to retain the
floods of the river and allow the water to escape gradually. From the
start the management of the whole undertaking was characterised by
unnecessary expenditure and extravagance. Not only does this apply to
the financial operations in Paris, but also to the work carried on in
the isthmus itself.

An artificial peninsula was constructed at Colon, on which were erected
expensive residences. The Director-General maintained a state that was
almost regal, receiving the handsome salary of £10,000 a year, with £10
per day for travelling expenses.

All the officials were highly paid, and lived in residences which were
surrounded by spacious ornamental grounds laid out at superfluous
expense.

But the labourers imported from Jamaica and other West Indian islands
were, on the other hand, housed so badly and with such lack of all
proper sanitary precautions that sickness and disease quickly devastated
their ranks.

The Panama Railway had been acquired at almost three times its market
price. The defence afterwards made for this was that an understanding
with the railway company was essential, as the shares were held in few
hands, and the proprietors of these were becoming exorbitant.

[Illustration: BARBADIAN LABOURER ON THE ZONE]

Losses occurred in September, 1882, when the railway and works were
partly destroyed by earthquake, whilst three years later, in a rebellion
which broke out, Colon suffered severe damage by fire.

At the end of 1884 little of the actual work of excavation had been
accomplished, but the preliminary plans had been prepared and soundings
taken. The line of route had also been cleared of tropical vegetation,
dwellings and barracks erected for the employees, hospitals built, and
large supplies of materials of all kinds were at command.

Twenty contracting firms had the work pieced out amongst them. At this
time the Panama Canal Company had raised and received close upon
£19,000,000, of which sum it had expended about £14,750,000, too heavy a
proportion of which had gone in preliminary expenses. A further sum of
£5,500,000 was raised by the issue of 4 per cent bonds, but a year later
only about one-tenth of the actual work of excavation had been
accomplished.

This state of affairs gave rise to a great deal of adverse criticism,
and the adoption of a high-level canal with locks began to be thought of
as a less costly and more expeditious scheme--for it had now become so
extremely difficult for the company to raise money, that successive
reductions had to be made in the amount of proposed excavation work. It
was even seriously proposed to build a lock-level canal, with a
summit-level of one hundred and ten feet above mean ocean-level; and it
was only on the reorganisation of the enterprise and the extension of
the time limit that a modification was made to a plan with a
summit-level of sixty-one feet. But the slow progress of the work and
the continual alteration of the plans and details, combined with the
enormous sums of money already swallowed up, had shaken public
confidence. Financial aid from at least two large banking institutions
and from syndicates formed for the purpose was obtained at a ruinous
price. By the end of 1887 the funds of the company had again sunk very
low, and it was estimated that a further £12,000,000 would be required
within a year.

De Lesseps, who had paid another visit to the isthmus and sailed three
miles up the Chagres River, still declared that the work would be
ultimately completed, and obtained the sanction of the French Parliament
for the issue of lottery bonds. This sanction was not obtained without
considerable expenditure; one Cabinet Minister stipulating for a million
francs, half to be paid when he introduced the Bill, and the balance
when the Bill passed.

The originator of the lottery idea received three million francs,
chiefly because he was a big speculator on the Bourse and his hostility
would have been mischievous. The necessary amount of subscriptions for
the lottery bonds not being forthcoming, the company suspended payment
on 14 December, 1888.

Although not unexpected, the news caused a severe shock in Paris, and
the whole situation became so serious that a meeting of the French
Cabinet was held to consider the best course to be adopted. In order to
gain time and to prevent wild speculation it was proposed to permit the
company to suspend for three months only, and a Bill for this purpose
was introduced, but was rejected by 256 votes to 181.

M. de Lesseps immediately resigned and proposed liquidation. The
excitement in Paris was intense, and strangely enough, in spite of the
fact that millions of pounds had been lost and thousands of shareholders
ruined, the anger of the crowds vented itself, not on De Lesseps, but on
the Government of the day. The Boulangists seized upon the opportunity
to attempt a political revolution, and the cheers of the populace were
divided between De Lesseps and Boulanger.

At a great meeting of shareholders which was held it was agreed to
forego the payments of coupons and annuities until the opening of the
canal and the raising of more capital. A resolution professing continued
confidence in the veteran De Lesseps was also passed.

But the attempt to form a new company for the completion of the canal
failed, owing to the lack of subscriptions, and the Panama Canal Company
went into liquidation, the work being gradually suspended.

The Panama Canal Bill, to promote the continuance of the work, was now
passed by both chambers, and a Commission of Inquiry was appointed.

The Commission, which visited the isthmus with De Lesseps in 1880, had
estimated that the canal could be completed at a cost of 843 millions of
francs, whilst up to the time of the suspension of the company no less a
sum than 1329 millions of francs was expended. The report of the
Commission of Inquiry, when issued, stated that a further sum of 900
millions of francs would be required to complete the canal.

Meanwhile a great fire occurred at Colon, in which the railway buildings
and a large part of the town were destroyed, and although an arrangement
was come to with the Colombian Government for an extension by ten years
of the time in which the canal might be completed, the scheme totally
collapsed and a legal investigation was proposed.

In consequence of the official liquidator’s report and the painful
disclosures which took place at the sittings of the Committee of
Inquiry, a prosecution was commenced against M. Ferdinand de Lesseps,
his son Charles de Lesseps and other directors, for bribery and
corruption. After a trial lasting nearly a month, during which the
speech of the counsel for the defence occupied four whole days, M. de
Lesseps and his son were sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, whilst
the other directors were fined and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment.
The news of the sentence caused a great sensation, many thinking it
savoured of harshness. Ferdinand de Lesseps was lying ill at his country
house during the whole of the trial, and although the news of the
verdict was telegraphed to Madame de Lesseps, it was carefully kept from
the aged invalid. Two days afterwards Charles de Lesseps paid a visit to
his father and had a most affecting interview with him. On his son’s
departure the old man relapsed into a condition of unconscious stupor.
He never regained vigour or recovered from the shock which the failure
of his plans and the scandals attached to that failure occasioned. Great
care had to be taken lest news from the outside world of the second
trial of his son and his colleagues (resulting in fines and
imprisonment) should reach the enfeebled intellect and shattered frame
and snap life’s thread; and it is said that the papers of the previous
years recounting the progress of the work on the isthmus were read to
him as if of current issue. Through two years of careful nursing and
watching his life was prolonged till on 7 December, 1894, in his
ninetieth year, there passed away one who, in spite of the clouds that
overshadowed the close of his career, remains one of the most
illustrious of Frenchmen. He was neither an engineer nor a financier,
but had such magnetic personality and persuasive eloquence as enabled
him to enlist the co-operation of practical men whom he inspired with
his own enthusiasm, and his reputation outlives the jealousy and
intrigue that brought about his ruin, for his name is indelibly
inscribed on the roll of fame.

The Official Receiver appointed to administer the affairs of the Panama
Canal Company was faced with a grave responsibility. It was his
paramount duty to safeguard, as far as possible, the interests of the
shareholders by saving from the wreck anything that might remain of
their investment. The principal asset, however, was the work already
accomplished at so great a cost, and the value of this was necessarily
contingent on the completion of the enterprise. On the other hand the
experience of the company, with regard to health and labour
difficulties, the ever-varying estimates as to cost and time for
completion, the continual alterations as to the detail of the work, and
the particular level at which it was best to construct the canal; and

[Illustration: MAP OF THE REPUBLIC OF PANAMA]

above all the enormous amount of money absorbed for apparently so little
return, all tended to prevent the public from further financial venture
in the scheme. By the aid of special legislation, and by dint of
dexterous compromise, most of the lawsuits which had been instigated
against the company were settled, and the claims of a number of its
creditors and bondholders successfully resisted. But none of the persons
shown to have made large pickings out of Panama money evinced any
inclination to refund, although an ex-Minister of the French Government
is understood to have shed tears in confessing to a bribe of 375,000
francs.

The Republic of Colombia granted an extension of time for the purpose of
the organisation of a new company and the completion of the canal, and,
although on a very reduced scale, the work was still carried on.

Towards the close of the year 1894 a new company was formed upon
entirely commercial lines and having no connection, alliance, or
relation whatever with any Government except such as were established by
the concession held from the Republic of Colombia. The board of
directors was an entirely new one and was composed of gentlemen having
no official relation with the old Panama Company.

Pursuant to judicial sale authorised by the French Court, the new
company became the sole owner of all the canal works, plant, material,
concessions and other property of the old company. Deciding not to be
bound by the conclusions arrived at from the surveys of the old company,
the new board of directors resolved to examine and study anew all the
questions involved, the most recent improvements in material and the
advances made in engineering.

They therefore appointed an International Technical Commission, composed
of fourteen members, seven of whom were eminent French engineers, and of
the other seven (experts of different nationalities) four had been
particularly connected with well-known canal undertakings. The
investigations of this Commission were carried on during many months,
and the question was studied in all its details--technical, climatic,
physical, geological and economic.

It was not till 1898 that their report was issued, and in it they
suggested a canal of forty-six miles in length from ocean to ocean, with
a system of locks, four on each slope of the divide. All the locks were
to have a rock foundation and double lock-chambers, and the time of
passage from ocean to ocean was to be less than a day. They maintained
that nothing in the physical conditions on the isthmus would prevent a
change to a sea-level canal should such be deemed desirable in the
future.

They found that two-fifths of the work on the canal had been actually
constructed, and that the remaining three-fifths was in a fair way to
completion, as, during the last few years, three or four thousand
workmen on an average had been employed in working on the canal.

The existence and operation of the railroad greatly facilitated the work
of construction, and, whilst the two greatest difficulties were the
control of the Chagres River and the excavation of the Culebra cut,
nothing had been planned that was not fully justified by practical
experience.

For the control of the floods of the Chagres River it was proposed to
construct two great artificial lakes, one at Bohio and the other at
Alhajuela, and not at Gamboa, the site selected for a dam by the old
company. With regard to the cutting at Culebra, the difficulty lies
principally in transporting the excavated material to the dumps, and in
effecting the transportation as rapidly as will keep pace with the
efficiency of the excavating machines.

About the time that the report of this Technical Commission made its
appearance, public sentiment in America had been greatly aroused in
favour of an interoceanic canal under American control, and general
opinion favoured the Nicaragua route. In anxiety lest a rival scheme
should be initiated just at the time when the New Panama Company was
about to appeal to the great financiers of the world for monetary
support, the board of directors sent to the President of the United
States the report of their Commission and a letter drawing his attention
to the state of the work and the prospects of the new company. It was
fully realised that should the American Government decide to construct a
waterway, investors would be deterred from backing a private enterprise
which could not commercially compete with a national undertaking, and,
further, should a Government undertaking be commenced, the Panama Canal
would be greatly retarded if not prevented by the difficulty of securing
the requisite labour.

The American Senate being engaged in considering the advisability of
supporting the Maritime Canal Company in its Nicaragua project, the New
Panama Canal Company managed to secure a hearing, at which its position
was fully explained and an offer made to re-incorporate the company
under American law.

The upshot was that the President was authorised to make a thorough
investigation as to the best route for a canal which should be under the
control of the United States and the absolute property of that nation.

[Illustration: THE CHURCH AT CHAGRES.]

This led to the appointment of the first Isthmian Canal Commission, who
proceeded to ascertain upon what terms the property and rights of the
New Panama Canal Company might be acquired by the United States. The
company could hardly submit a definite figure to a body which had no
authority either to accept or reject its offer, but submitted a
tentative proposal to sell and transfer its canal property to the United
States for $109,141,500. The Commission promptly assessed the value at
$40,000,000 and submitted a report favouring the Nicaragua route. On
this becoming known in Paris the directors of the company at once
resigned, and at a general meeting of stockholders it was resolved to
accept the Commission’s estimate.

This surrender was practically forced upon the company by the American
Government, as the threat to construct a canal at Nicaragua meant death
to any hopes of raising sufficient extra capital for the completion of
the Panama Canal. A telegram was sent, offering to sell out all assets,
rights, and interests to the only possible purchaser at that purchaser’s
own figure of $40,000,000. At once the Commission issued a supplementary
report, that under the altered conditions the most feasible and
practical route for an isthmian canal under the control, management and
ownership of the United States was the Panama route.

The scheme for beating down the New Panama Canal Company in its price
having proved successful, Congress passed what is commonly known as the
Spooner Act, which authorised the President to acquire the property of
the Canal Company for a sum not exceeding forty millions of dollars, to
acquire the necessary territory from the Republic of Colombia, and to
proceed with the excavation, construction, and completion of the canal.

The same Act, however, authorised the President to proceed with the
Nicaraguan scheme should he fail in acquiring the Panama property.

At the same time the Hay-Herran Treaty was negotiated with the Republic
of Colombia, its object being to secure to the United States the
privilege of constructing a canal through the Isthmus of Panama. The
Colombian Government failed to ratify this treaty, and, at the
instigation of some person or persons unknown, a bloodless revolution
was accomplished whereby Panama became an independent republic. This
having occurred, the United States immediately concluded with the new
State the Hay-Varilla Treaty, by which the United States guaranteed to
maintain the independence of the new Republic of Panama, receiving in
return the concessions necessary for the construction, maintenance,
operation, sanitation and protection of the canal, also a zone of
territory ten miles in width, extending five miles on either side of the
centre line of the canal, and a group of small islands in the Bay of
Panama. The price of the concession was $10,000,000 gold to be paid
down, and an annual payment of $250,000 gold beginning nine years after
the date of the ratification of the treaty.

The way was now clear for the acquisition of the Canal Company’s
property. Three-fourths of the purchase money was transmitted by gold
shipments, and it took two months to accomplish this prudently and
safely and without disturbing financial conditions. The other fourth was
conveyed through the ordinary medium of exchange, but all the documents
were delivered and possession given the moment the United States
Government paid over the money to the bankers in New York who had
undertaken to effect the transmission.

The canal is to be ready for traffic in 1915, although rumours are
afloat that the official opening may take place at an earlier date. Much
depends, however, upon causes over which even the resourcefulness of a
great nation has no control. Slides in the Culebra Cut have worried both
the French and American engineers, and have given much extra labour.
There are twenty-seven in all, and an area of one hundred and fifty
acres is affected. The Cucaracha slide has necessitated the removal of
an extra two million cubic yards of “dirt,” and it is still active.
Altogether over nine million yards of extra excavation have been caused
by these natural movements.

The Isthmus of Panama lies in the earthquake zone, and within the last
one hundred years many shocks have been experienced. It is always
pointed out, however, by engineers that as the flat arch in the old
church of Santo Dominic has stood for two hundred and fifty years
without being affected, the severity of the earthquake shocks of the
past could not have been serious, and no trouble is anticipated from
seismic tremors. Industry, patience, and money have accomplished much,
and there is no doubt that the canal is nearing completion. Great
developments are expected when it is opened, and many that are quite
unexpected are certain to take place. It is the intention of the Canal
Commission to Americanise the Canal Zone. The majority of workers at
present in the district will no longer be welcome when the work is
completed. At present there seems to be an impression abroad that the
authorities intend to repatriate labourers brought there under contract
as soon as their task is done, and that foreigners will be deported as
soon as their services can be dispensed with. These will be the
preliminary steps towards the establishment of an American Colony. This
strikes one as rather drastic treatment at first, but on second thoughts
it is clear that the American Government cannot tolerate an idle lot of
bush-squatters along their territory; for one thing, the expense of
keeping the health conditions good would be too great. The undesired
labourers will have to seek other quarters. It is probable that the West
Indies will get a large number of them; others may find an opening for
their services in Colombia and the other republics further south, who
can all do with them. The Zone will be a military reservation, and the
canal will be fortified. This was made clear by Mr. Roosevelt at Omaha
in September, 1910, when he stated that in his opinion the canal would
be opened in January, 1915, at latest, and perhaps by the end of 1913.
With regard to the fortifications, he said that the United States
Government were bound in honour to fortify their great work so as
effectively to guarantee its neutrality and to prevent its being used
against them. To refuse to fortify it he asserted would mean the
abandonment of the Monroe doctrine. He also pointed out that one of the
national advantages the United States gained by the waterway was the
doubling of the strength of their navy. Forts are already in course of
construction on the islands lying at the mouth of the Pacific entrance
and on the shores of Limon Bay. When schemes of great magnitude are
accomplished certain interests are bound to suffer. The greatest
sufferer in the present instance is likely to be the Tehuantepec
Railway. The railways of America may also “feel the draught,” and will
no doubt actively oppose the raising of capital for steamship companies.
The fixing of canal dues has yet to be done, and the shipping world is
looking forward with keen interest to the arrangements that will be
made. The passing by the Senate of the Panama Canal Bill in August,
1912, with its clauses giving favoured treatment to America coastal
shipping has aroused a chorus of protest from foreign countries, and
even in the States difficult points remain to be settled, and until they
are the interests of different shipping and railway companies are
naturally rather anxious. In nearly all maritime countries preparations
are being advanced to take advantage of the new highway, and American
shippers in particular are awaking to a sense of the importance of the
markets made more accessible. The American Hawaiian Company, now using
eighteen ships between Hawaii and New York, has ordered five large
freight steamers to the island via Panama Canal. A new company, the
“Atlantic and Pacific,” proposes fifteen vessels as a start. The Royal
Mail steamers from Southampton to Colon and the Pacific Steam Navigation
Company will be in a strong position for obtaining a large proportion of
the South American trade. The Hamburg-American are reported to be
looking for docks at San Francisco. The Ward and other American lines
will become patrons of the canal, and it is estimated that one hundred
new American vessels will soon be under construction in national yards,
and that will make nearly one hundred and fifty of that nation ready for
the canal. Other countries are not idle. Japan has boats in course of
construction; Denmark contemplates a service between Copenhagen and San
Francisco and other Pacific ports; the Holland-American line of
Rotterdam and the French Transatlantic will also enter into the Pacific
trade. The Hamburg-American line projects carrying emigrants to the
Pacific coast (Peru, etc.) from Hamburg, Antwerp, Cherbourg, Plymouth,
Genoa, and Naples at the same rate as to New York plus canal dues. That
the whole course of commerce will be changed there can be no two
opinions, and that the Pacific seaboard of South America will benefit is
also a foregone conclusion. Guayaquil, Callao, Mollendo and Arica and
Valparaiso will be brought nearer to their markets by direct steamship
service, and the closer intercourse will undoubtedly bring about large
increases in their commerce. Ships sailing from the Eastern and Western
coasts of the United States will save a distance of from seven to eight
thousand miles, and European shipping to Pacific ports will reduce their
voyages by about the same number.



CHAPTER VII

_Panama_


When the present city of Panama was founded in 1673, its architects and
builders in laying out the new town fixed its location up the rocky
peninsula which juts out into the sea at the foot of Ancon hill. They
had a vivid recollection of the fate that had overtaken the old city,
and were determined that the new one should offer a more formidable
front to any invading foe, and so strongly fortified was the new city
that with the exception of Cartagena it was the most impregnable
fortress in the whole of South America. Shortly after the city was
founded it became the capital of Terra Firma, and it was hoped by the
founders that the surrounding provinces of Panama, Darien, and Veragua
would contribute largely to its importance and support. But the Indians
of the Darien province, regaining their independence, became
uncontrollable, and the gold mines in the other provinces proved, after
extended trials, to be unremunerative, so that the new city was
dependent chiefly upon the pearl fisheries, which are to this day of
considerable importance to it. The pearls of Panama are of fine quality
and remarkable size, and although the fashions of different ages have
undergone changes with regard to jewels, the fisheries have, in spite of
the increasing popularity of diamonds, been able to hold their own by
opening up new markets in Peru and Southern America. The real reason,
however, of the importance of the new city was the unique position it
occupied. It rapidly became the market for the products of the rich
countries on the Pacific coast, and fleets of small sailing craft were
ever arriving at the port laden with valuable merchandise. Great stores
were built for the reception of the goods until the mule trains were
ready to convey them across the isthmus, _en route_ for Spain. Many of
the older buildings are now in ruins, but what

[Illustration: OUTSIDE A CHURCH ON CHRISTMAS EVE, PANAMA.]

remains affords ample evidence of the city’s former splendour. With the
decay of piracy the necessity of keeping up the earlier standards of
resistance ceased and many of the older buildings were allowed to fall
into decay. Even the old city wall has dwindled until only a portion
about a quarter of a mile in length remains. This is a favourite
playground of the children, and when the sun is setting, the older
people of the poorer classes rest upon the worn-out benches that project
from the stone parapets, enjoying the cooling breezes that evening
brings. Legend has it that Philip V of Spain was observed by his
courtiers gazing into the distance that lay in the direction of the new
colonies, and when one of his ministers asked him what he strained his
eyes to behold, the King, with a merry twinkle in his eye, replied that
“he was trying to discern the walls of Panama, for they had cost so
much, that surely they must be visible even from Spain.” The whole of
the old town is built of stone quarried from the volcanic rocks in the
vicinity; the walls of most of the buildings are from three to four feet
in thickness, with the windows placed high up from the ground; the thick
doors are plentifully studded with huge nails, and bound by stout iron
bands. The cathedrals and churches are massive and liberally supplied
with heavy buttresses; in fact, they look more like fortresses than
places of worship; and there are so many of them that one might easily
fall into the error of believing that the founders of the city and early
inhabitants were a very religious community. There is one church in the
Calle San José that I visited frequently during the heat of the day, the
cool shade it afforded was a welcome contrast to the hot glare of the
streets; and although I have been in it many times, I never saw more
than two or, at the most, three persons in it at the same time. It has
an earthy smell, and is damp, cool, and fusty. Round the edifice altars
stand out in harsh relief from the austere whitewashed walls. Carved
figures of saints draped in dusty raiment that was once brilliant gave
the place an aspect of a cheap waxworks. The small windows high up in
the walls let in a silvery light that diffused itself through the
interior. The pews or forms arranged down the centre of the aisle were
in the last stages of decay, so frail and rotten that they could not
support any substantial weight. Occasionally a negress with a
bright-coloured turban and long, trailing gown would sail into the gloom
and glide noiselessly up to one of the many altars, in front of which
she would kneel and stare about as if bewildered. But I was generally
alone in the great building, sometimes catching glimpses of the aged
priest, who, with robes tucked up, was occupied in sweeping the damp,
stone floor, a pathetic reminder of the waning power of Holy Church in
the city. At Christmas time there is created in this church a huge

[Illustration: THE FLAT ARCH OF ST. DOMINIC.]

toy-like representation of the Nativity, with small dolls crudely
suggesting the shepherds and the Magi visiting the manger. A great array
of candles are set in front and all around the tawdry show, and all day
long crowds of the poorer classes stand gazing spellbound at the marvel.
All the other churches in the city have some similar exhibition during
Christmas week, and the crowds go from one to another, eager to see all
they can for nothing. The church of La Merced, which stands in the Calle
Real, in what used to be the extreme limit of the city, is built from
the materials gathered at the ruins of the old church of the same name
that stood in the ancient city of Panama. The church stands at a street
corner, and on the left of the main entrance, occupying the corner of
the building, is a small chapel, some sixteen feet square, with a door
from either street. At all times some worshipper is to be found inside
this little sanctuary, for so conveniently situated is it that
passers-by have only to step a few feet out of their way to be within
its walls. Women with great bundles on their heads step in, cross
themselves, mutter a word or two, and are not detained more than a few
seconds by their devotions; whilst the man of business and small urchins
rush through one door and out at the other, to save the turning at the
corner of the street. The oldest church in the city, that of San Felipi
Nevi, has the date “1688” carved on a shield above its entrance, but the
more modern buildings that have sprung up around it almost hide it from
view. Its walls are about five feet in thickness, which doubtless
accounts for it still standing. The cathedral in the Central Plaza, the
largest building in the city, is in a very good state of repair, and is
generally well attended. It has two lofty towers surmounted with conical
domes covered with oyster-shells, which glisten and sparkle in the sun.
The front of the church is richly moulded and faced with flat, fluted,
and engaged columns. In the niches sculptured figures representing the
twelve apostles are placed, while at the top, in the centre, is placed
an effigy of the Virgin. The whole building is painted over with a
disagreeable colour-wash of saffron hue, an act of vandalism that could
only occur in a country that pays little or no regard to the upkeep of
its public buildings. Another instance of the scant attention and regard
for ancient monuments can be seen in the ruins of the once noble church
of St. Dominic. The roof of this large building has long since
disappeared, probably during one of the numerous fires that have played
such havoc in the city. There remains, however, in this church a most
extraordinary specimen of building construction--a large arch of over
sixty feet span, near the principal entrance, has caused much discussion
amongst engineers and architects. It is practically flat, having no
other support than its terminal columns. How it has survived the
earthquake shocks that have from time to time visited the city is a
mystery. Some experts have pointed to it as evidence that no very
serious tremors can ever have taken place since it was built. But,
however this may be, it is certainly an ingenious piece of construction,
probably unique. A legend obtains currency amongst the better informed
natives to the effect that before success attended the labours of the
builders three failures befell them. On the last occasion the designer
of the arch

[Illustration: OLD HOUSES ON THE SEA WALL, PANAMA.]

stood underneath it and proclaimed it to be a sound piece of
construction if it did not fall upon him. It hardly needed the pious
architect to point out that something was indeed seriously wrong with
the work if it did fall and kill him. But silly legends abound in Latin
America as well as in other parts of the globe. The church of St.
Dominic must have had an imposing appearance in its early youth, for
even the ravages of time and weather have failed to rob it of
distinction, and the thick, tropical vegetation that now runs wild over
its crumbling walls suggests forcibly that nature is more anxious to
hide decay than man is to prevent it. The city has undergone many
changes since its birth, and the regular symmetrical design that was in
earlier times adhered to by its builders has been so modified and
altered by subsequent designers that it is with difficulty that we can
form an idea of its earlier aspect. Whenever fire and time have
destroyed buildings, no effort has been made to rebuild in the
substantial early manner. The old fortifications have nearly all
disappeared, and the city has grown far beyond the limits which they set
to its extension. Flimsy structures are now erected of timber framework
covered with plaster, and treated with a coat of whitewash. The sham is
rampant. How the shade of Ruskin would writhe in agony should it chance
in its wanderings to visit Panama, where stucco masquerades as stone. A
month or two at most of the varying climatic conditions of alternate
dry and damp heat and the most pretentious mansions present a
disreputable aspect. The colour schemes which are attempted by the
decorators are novel and discordant. The half-formed, undeveloped,
æsthetic sense of the Latin American is more amazing than the crudest
efforts in art of the rudest savages. A striking instance of perverted
colour sense was displayed by a prominent citizen during the memorable
visit of President Roosevelt. In honour of the unique occasion, this
enterprising gentleman caused the exterior of his house to be covered
with a hideous magenta water-wash, ornamental parts being picked out in
a canary yellow. The originality of this scheme attracted much
attention; and although the few judicious grieved, the masses were
delighted.



CHAPTER VIII

_The Panamanians_


The difficulties that beset the early travellers across the Isthmus of
Panama over two hundred years ago still remain, and confront the
explorer in these regions at every turn. Very little has been done to
cultivate the rich lands which are capable of rapidly yielding in great
abundance every kind of tropical fruit.

Few roads exist, and until some attempts are made thus to open up the
country, little or no change will ever take place in the condition of
the interior. The activity on the isthmus to-day is confined to the
Canal Zone, but there are indications that in the near future the
systematic cultivation of this hitherto neglected country will yield a
harvest richer than any ever reaped by the gold seekers of Pizarro’s
day.

The average Panamanian of the present day, true to the traditions of his
race, has little inclination or no taste for husbandry, and is well
content to occupy some trivial government position which brings him in a
sure if small income, whilst putting no tax upon his intelligence. He
has leisure to live a life of social gaiety in the capital, and spend
his time in enjoying the intercourse with strangers passing over the
highway to the Pacific coast. With the Spaniard’s love of an indolent
life accentuated by a tropical climate, the only violent exercise they
ever take is vehement talking by the hour, at all times and in all
places on affairs of government. Panamanians are a strange mixture of
many races. Spanish by descent, with an infusion of more or less Indian,
negro, German, English, Dutch, and French blood, some of them claim that
they are pure Indians, and therefore true Americans, and proudly point
out that the inhabitants of the United States have not the same
authority to call themselves American as the real descendants of the
aborigines of the two continents.

[Illustration: PANAMA FROM ANCON.]

But they are very amiable, these Panamanians, ever ready with a smile or
salute as you pass them on the street, and with an infinite capacity for
making acquaintances, if not for forming friendships.

Late in the afternoon you can see many of them astride prancing steeds,
neat, round-bellied little animals, with finely-arched necks, tapering
legs clattering along the newly paved streets, their small feet making a
strange music like castanets. The saddles used are of the Mexican type,
and the large leathern protections which surround the front portion of
the stirrups give the riders a somewhat grotesque appearance. About the
same hour a continuous procession of carriages drives along the Savannah
road, many of them of smart appearance. The black coachmen are all more
or less disfigured with tall, shining hats and brass-buttoned coats, but
the occupants reclining behind them look beautiful and cool in
bright-coloured gowns of amazing cuts. There are only two roads leading
out of Panama over which carriages can pass, and consequently the
drivers in the neighbourhood of the city are limited to them. One of
these--that leading to Balboa--passes the cemeteries of the city. Until
very recently a custom obtained in Panama with regard to the burial of
the dead which was so repellent it is almost incredible that it could
have existed even in a savage country. A concession was granted by the
Government to one of its prominent citizens who let out graves on lease
and collected rents from the relatives. Should they fall in arrears with
the rent, the stony-hearted concessioner had little compunction in
ordering his men to remove the remains from the vault in which they
rested, and cast them into a waste bit of ground near by. Other
cemeteries separated by walls from one another are provided for the
interment of different religious bodies. Jews, Mohammedans, Chinese,
Roman Catholics, and Protestants are each buried among their
co-religionists.

The United States Government, with a sentimental regard for the feelings
of its citizens, has, through the Canal Commission, made a rule that,
should any citizen of the United States in the employ of the Commission
die while on the isthmus, his body shall be embalmed and conveyed at the
Government’s expense to any part of the United States that the relatives
may desire.

That a reform of the burial system in Panama from a sanitary point of
view was necessary and should have impressed itself upon the health
authorities is not to be wondered at, but it only could have been
brought about in this instance by the United States having full power
over the health and sanitation of the country which adjoins their strip
of territory. In the country districts there are, of course, no special
burial grounds, but the small wooden crosses and cairns that are
scattered up and down serve to mark the spots chosen for the interment
of the dead.

There is one other cemetery about two miles from Colon called Mount
Hope, better known on the isthmus as “Monkey Hill.” The graves marked
with wooden crosses contain the remains of representatives of nearly
every country in the world. The monuments erected are of the most flimsy
materials, so that any indications of the last resting-place of
thousands of the makers of the isthmian route will inevitably disappear.
So accustomed were the inhabitants of Colon to the procession of the
funeral train, that they became quite callous to the fate of the many
who had been stricken with the deadly fevers so rampant in the place,
and funerals going along the streets are usually followed by mourners
engaged in lively conversation and smoking big cigars.

Close contact with these melancholy scenes is unavoidable in the small
area in which the inhabitants of the towns of Colon and Panama dwell,
and the high death-rate which both have suffered from has made their
populations familiar with the trappings of woe.

The road that leads out of the city to the Savannahs, where the summer
residences of the better class merchants are situated, is good, as it
comes within the canal strip ceded to the States. It is mostly used by
the gentry of Panama, and it has lately been extended right out to the
ruins of the earliest Latin city in America, “old Panama,” which was
destroyed by Morgan in his famous raid. Very little remains of the city
which was known to its contemporaries as the “Golden cup of the West.”
Its churches with rich altars, and houses filled with priceless
tapestries, its richly furnished mansions, its opulent warehouses and
wealthy inhabitants, belong to the past. The ruined tower and walls, all
overgrown with jungle, that lie near the shore, are all that remain of
the cathedral church of St. Anastasius. A couple of narrow masonry
bridges near the city indicate where the famous “gold road” led into the
town. Over this road, the Cruces trail which led from Panama on the
Pacific to Porto Bello on the Atlantic, travelled the famous mule trains
with their precious freights of gold and silver from Peru. The road can
still be followed, a track of huge, irregular stones marking the course
it took, and in some places fair-sized patches of the pavement are still
intact. There is little interesting about the ruined city except its
associations with the past. It is dead, and nature is striving hard to
inter it decently beneath a luxuriant pall of green. One can only visit
the spot to stir the imagination and call up its wondrous past. On this
spot Pizarro banded his followers together, and from the now overgrown
harbour walls his little fleet set sail on one of the most momentous
voyages on record. The happenings in “old Panama” make the first page in
the voluminous history of the great sub-continent.

Of the saloons and restaurants, with imposing names and uninviting
aspect, much might be said. Even the best of them could be improved with
little difficulty, but they serve well enough the uncritical tastes of
their patrons. The better class cafés or bars in Colon and Panama are
generally attached to hotels; and in the time when the French Company’s
headquarters were in the Plaza at Panama the cafés and saloons were
filled with exuberant life, until the early morning hours, and the
larger and more important bars were the most popular places in the

[Illustration: A BIT OF THE OLD TOWN.]

city. But to-day the clubs have taken the places of saloons, as far as
the higher officials are concerned, while the spread of the canal
offices all along the route has greatly affected the business of the
saloons. Still on Saturdays and Sundays many of the gold employees on
the Zone (clerks, steam-shovel men, engineers, foremen, supervisors,
timekeepers, and others, whose occupation it would be difficult to
discover) flock into Panama, to witness the baseball games and meet
their friends. At such times the saloons and bars enjoy once more a
taste of their almost forgotten popularity. The most important saloon is
that attached to the Hotel Central in the Plaza. If you sit in it from
early morning till late in the evening, you will be certain to meet with
every important person in the city. Some you would see very often,
others but seldom. Their merry chatter and hilarity make the place
lively, and their almost unquenchable thirst keeps the bar-tender busy.
Always parched and thirsty themselves, they are obsessed with the
opinion that everybody they meet is suffering from the same complaint.
Before dinner-time, about half-past six in the evening, the crowd in the
saloon of the “Central” gathers, and each small round table is the
centre of a noisy group of companions who order cocktails, “high bulls,”
and other cheering concoctions. Meanwhile small boys shout the evening
paper, a miserable little sheet that never contains any news
sufficiently important to cause comment, for all the information it
prints has been discussed hours before. Nevertheless, many copies are
sold, for the Panamanian, ever anxious to keep abreast with the manners
and customs of civilised communities, generally buys a copy. Old women
with lottery tickets do quite a large business at this hour, for after
the twentieth cocktail even the most accomplished drinker becomes a
little regardless and throws his money about recklessly. But for all
that, great care is taken in choosing with a becoming semblance of sober
judgment a number that the purchaser has some very particular fancy for.
Once a ticket has been sold, the demands of others, always ready to
emulate the plunging of a good sportsman, keep the vendor of chances
busy. Two or three of the roysterers will join together and purchase a
ticket between them. The division into shares and complex allotments of
the ticket invested entail the making of illegible notes and memoranda
which serve to give a business-like air to the transactions. More small
boys, wearing a grin that makes up for the scantiness of their clothing,
dart in and out through the open doors with paper bags containing
pea-nuts, and soon dispose of their entire stock. Piles of these nuts
lie on each of the little tables, and the cracking and munching sounds
as they disappear make up for breaks in the conversation. The stone
floor soon assumes the aspect of a newly gravelled pavement, and the
parties begin to separate and make their ways to dinner. Thus early in
the evening is the “Central” saloon deserted, and should the visitor be
desirous of being in the crowd after this hour, he must seek some other
resort. At the numerous gatherings and entertainments which take place
in Panama a great variety and odd assortment of types from every quarter
of the globe are encountered. Quite apart from the casual gatherings of
transients at the hotels, there are many opportunities for those who
appreciate gaiety to indulge their taste to the full. Scarce a week
passes but there are two or three balls, receptions given by members of
clubs or private residents, and visitors to the city generally receive
invitations.

[Illustration: THE PLAZA, PANAMA.]

The weekly reception by the President is usually well attended by the
Panamanians and visitors, while many of the Canal Commission officials
put in an appearance, and with their white uniforms lighten the scene.
The official residence of the President guarded by about twenty
lounging, diminutive policemen, is alive with bustling movement, and
carriages in all stages of decay line the street outside. After leaving
your hat with a very unofficial-looking servant at the entrance, you
pass into a large _salon_, and are introduced to the President, who
stands near the door. Many of the leaders of fashion and society are
assembled in the room, and you soon discover that a free and easy air
entirely devoid of anything like formality pervades the apartment.
Puzzle games that long ago were sold by the vendors of cheap novelties
on the streets of big cities lie around on tables in heaps to amuse the
guests, while at circular tables, placed at one end of the room,
elderly, stout persons sit playing at the game of puff-ball. The room,
about one hundred feet long by thirty feet wide, is furnished with
gilded chairs and lounges and tables, and along the top of the walls,
doing duty as a frieze, are a series of poorly painted portraits.

These pictures are painted on the surface of the wall, and round each is
an oval frame or wreath, also painted in yellow colours, to represent
gilding.

Past Governors and patriots and statesmen all glare down on their
successors in the game of politics. For whom they all were intended, and
what names the originals bore, it is doubtful if any of the present
generation could tell, for all the South American republics have scores
of heroes whose reputations and fame have long been forgotten, and there
are few who have sufficient interest in the past to keep green the
records of the illustrious dead. The living specimens of “patriots,” who
with perfervid zeal talk of their country’s rights and wrongs, its
present and its future, are certainly a better-looking lot than their
predecessors, but it may be that the artists who limned the features of
the latter have not done the originals justice.

The ladies of Colombia are proverbial for their good looks, and those of
Panama are no exception. The popular conception of the jealousy of
Spanish husbands, who are commonly supposed to be rather ready with the
knife and stiletto, is quite erroneous, at least as far as Panama and
Colombia are concerned.

The ladies of Colombia affect the fashions of Europe and Paris, and in
Panama one sees but few of the older picturesque fashions that still
obtain in many of the cities and towns of the interior. Some of the
poorer classes still wear their thick, black hair in two long plaits
hanging over their shoulders, and a few of the costumes are rather
original, consisting of black silk skirts cut sufficiently close to show
the form, a large kerchief thrown over the head, and falling in long
folds down to the waist. The mantilla is worn by some, but newer
fashions are fast ousting every kind of national dress. In Cartagena and
Bogota are seen more of the older, picturesque forms, but it is only
amongst the lower orders

[Illustration: AN INTERIOR, CARTAGENA.]

in Panama that frills and flounces still linger. Smoking is quite common
amongst the women all over Latin America, and the fair sex in Colombia
are no exceptions. Their cigars are often carried in their hair. In
Panama the ladies have a freedom that is quite notorious; far from being
confined behind iron gratings, they are allowed the diversions of balls,
dances, supper parties, and receptions, without any fear of the control
of their husbands, who are not always in attendance. The Panamanian
_señoras_ are extremely good-natured, and their bright smiles and
dangerous glances are bestowed with a careless freedom that would shock
their fair sisters in Buenos Ayres. The education of women in South
America generally is not so far advanced as it is in the northern
continent or in Europe, though they are generally proficient, and
frequently excel in musical accomplishments. They are perhaps no worse
than the women of other lands in their love of gossiping and scandal,
and, accustomed to flattery from their earliest years, and with
interests narrowed down to a limited range of subjects, it is little
wonder that they are incapable of conversing long or interestedly upon
any topic save love, and that when it gives out they should fall back
upon scandal. They weary over books, and turn over the pages with but a
languid interest, and to any exercise save dancing they are naturally
averse. Their conversation is rather free and unrestrained, and they
talk glibly of the secret lovers of their dearest friends. Their beauty
is but skin deep and wears rather badly; their indolent habits cause
them soon to assume a bulkiness of form quite inconsistent with grace or
comeliness, and it is only their passionate devotion to dancing that
prevents them from becoming positively unwieldy.

Ministers and Consuls from other republics abound at the receptions and
balls, and the many fashions in whiskers, beards, and moustaches provoke
much comment and many smiles. Merchants, shopkeepers, doctors, lawyers,
concessioners, their wives and daughters, all jostle one another in the
crush. The rooms get stiflingly hot as the evening wears on; the balcony
outside is invitingly cool, and the quiet beauty of the night contrasts
strongly with the noise and glitter of the saloons. Across the bay lie
the undulating hills, all but lost in a translucent opal pall; the
myriads of stars overhead shine with a glory that evokes ejaculations of
admiration, the more brilliant of them are reflected with many a tremor
in the placid sea beneath. Lights on distant boats bob up and down,
while the murmur of the waves as they break gently on the shore makes a
music that can be heard above the sound made of all human speech that
floats out of the open doors from the _salon_.

At supper parties it is quite a usual thing for speeches proposing
toasts to be made, and when once they are started there is no stopping
the flow of oratory. They love long-worded speeches almost as much as
the Brazilians, and will listen to themselves and others for hours, and
it must be admitted that they have a ready if a simple wit on all
occasions. I have heard a Panamanian after dinner make an impromptu
speech, in which he felicitously described all the guests around the
table, and if his incisive humour was at times a little grotesque and
his satire biting, the subject of his jest was as delighted as the rest
of his audience at his sallies.

On the last day of the old year I had an opportunity of seeing the
Panamanians really enjoying and proving their capacity for entertaining
themselves. A ball was given by one of the clubs on 31 December, and as
their new president entered on his duties the moment the numerous clocks
in the city should cease striking twelve, a fine occasion for a speech
presented itself. All the company assembled in the ballroom about ten
minutes before the dying year yielded up its last gasp of time. The
ladies were seated on two long rows of chairs facing each other, while
their attendant cavaliers stood immediately behind them. Each held a
brimming glass, awaiting patiently till the time should arrive for the
toast. At the last stroke of midnight the new president of the club
stepped forward and addressed the assembly. As he went on speaking
eloquently of the high honour of the office to which he had been
elected, the duties of which he was now entering upon, expatiating on
the dignity of the position and the halo it spread round the holder, it
seemed probable that all the spirit, as well as the sparkle, would
evaporate from the generous wine before any of the guests would have a
chance of capturing it. When at last he made an end, after having been
actively engaged upon his new duties for full half an hour, all raised
their glasses and drank, not New Year’s wishes to one another, but to
the success of the club and the health of its new president.

Dancing was resumed when the glasses had been drained and wishes
exchanged for prosperity and happiness during the coming year, but it
was not until a late or, rather, early hour and after all the ladies had
been served with supper that the men settled down to the enjoyment of a
long-deferred repast. Bottle after bottle was emptied, and each one
round the festive table made a gallant effort to vie with his neighbour
in inventing some new toast. Every nationality represented at the board
was the recipient of lengthy adulation, and if the good feeling voiced
by all present could only be extended to the courts and Governments of
the world, little business would be left for Peace Congresses to
transact.

The whole of the first of January was devoted to a round of festivities,
and the powers of endurance displayed by many were amazing.

Hard or even moderate drinking is said to be a dangerous habit in hot
countries, and the medical profession is almost unanimous in condemning
the use of alcohol, whilst the old theory that it is a necessity in hot
climates has been exploded by scientific investigation, for the enlarged
liver which is so common in the torrid zone is no doubt contributed to
by the alcoholic habit.

But it is a notorious fact that inhabitants of countries subject to
earthquakes and volcanoes get inured to all idea of danger, and walk on
the very brink of disaster with a light and merry heart, indifferent to
the lessons of experience or the fate of their predecessors, and on that
New Year’s Day the orgies of the Buccaneers were equalled, if not
excelled, by many of the inhabitants.

    “Where the longitude’s mean and the latitude’s low,
     Where the hot winds of summer perennially blow,
     Where the mercury chokes the thermometer’s throat,
     And the dust is as thick as the hair on a goat,
     Where one’s mouth is as dry as a mummy accurst,
     There lieth the Land of Perpetual Thirst.”

At midday the bandstand in the Plaza was occupied by many of the leading
citizens, who with musical instruments, upon which they were incapable
of performing, were making an unearthly din, and had attracted a crowd
of the common people around them. Tables laden with champagne bottles
and glasses were placed between the groups of performers, who were not
less ardent in their attentions to the glass than to the instruments of
music which they converted into engines of torture. Whenever their
confused vision was capable of distinguishing friends amongst the
passers-by, an effort was made to strengthen their forces by a capture,
and wise persons kept in the background, and witnessed their descent
upon the unwary. Every now and then a scuffle would ensue, and those who
fell during its progress were content to remain in the positions they
had assumed, to the amusement of the spectators.

It is a custom to make good resolutions on New Year’s Day, and to turn
over a new leaf. On the following morning, although a trifle belated,
many resolves were made, and the penitents heartily swore that nothing
on earth should tempt them from their vows. The fervour with which they
denounced the cheering cup, and their repugnance to it, was a strong
illustration of the proverb, “Familiarity breeds contempt”; but by the
end of a week all traces of their exertions had disappeared, and most of
them were as ready as ever to face manfully any other duty in the way of
celebration that occasion might present.

[Illustration: IN THE MARKET, PANAMA.]



CHAPTER IX

_Colombia and Cartagena_


If in the matter of details the history of Colombia--the republic in the
extreme north-west corner of the South American continent--has been more
lurid than some of its neighbours, in general outline that history has
followed the course with which students of Spanish-American affairs are
so familiar. There was, first, the discovery of the territory away back
in the fifteenth century by Spanish mariners, and its subsequent
settlement by colonists from the mother country. Spain always started
this work with magnificent enthusiasm, but the feeling of rapture over
the possession of new dominions soon wore off, and the annals of these
colonies during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries make drab and
uninteresting reading. Colombia’s history is no exception to the general
rule. All its existing cities were founded during the early rule of the
conquistadores, and the type of slavery imposed upon the Indian
population was given its enduring shape. No great developments or
changes occurred in the country until the Spanish rule ended and
independence was declared.

Being next-door neighbour to Venezuela, Colombia was naturally one of
the first states drawn into the ambitious operations of Bolivar, and for
a time it looked as though its capital, Bogota, would assume a
predominant importance in the southern continent, but the liberator
underestimated the strong sense of nationality which had developed in
the different sections of the vast country, and when his influence died
down Colombia retained her individuality just as Venezuela preserved
hers. Not only did the Spanish sovereignty entirely disappear from the
State, but the name, New Granada, given to it by the early conquerors,
in honour of the province in the mother country, was changed for the
more American substitute, Colombia. At first it was known as the
“United States of Colombia,” but in 1886 a reform in the direction of
centralisation was brought about, and the country is now called “the
Republic.”

[Illustration: A COLOMBIAN MOTHER.]

The mania for revolution which has infected the inhabitants of South
America has found in Colombia very amenable material to work upon. For
years during the last century stable government was a thing unknown;
rival factions were always springing at each other’s throats, drenching
the country in blood, decimating its population, crippling its
prosperity, and embarrassing its finances. Where so many other states
have indulged in revolutions, it is dangerous to use the superlative
degree; but it is fairly safe to say that Colombia has been _facile
princeps_ in the insensate and sanguinary game. Since the establishment
of the constitution in 1886, however, events have tended a little
towards tranquillity and security; but it would be much too sanguine to
dream that the rival parties, the Clericals and the Liberals, have
become sufficiently reconciled to play the game in a constitutional
manner, although their volcanic passions are for the moment lying
dormant. Now that the United States have such important interests in the
adjacent Isthmus of Panama, the firebrands of Colombia have to be on
their better behaviour, for the “big stick” is a menace which they are
bound to recognise. The efforts of the Government to render the country
less liable to disturbances are praiseworthy, but the material they have
to handle is not very promising, and development is slow. Railways are
very gradually connecting up places in the interior. The army is badly
equipped, and lack of funds prevents many of its most urgent needs from
being satisfied. The navy cannot be said to exist, although the
necessity for coast defence agitates the mind of the Government.

A slight improvement is, however, manifest in the latest budgets of the
country, but the task of making “both ends meet” is a difficult one. If
the republic in many of its features cannot compare for sheer interest
with its neighbours, it has yet a commanding claim to the attention of
antiquarians, for it possesses the city of Cartagena, which was the most
ancient and strongest of the Spanish power in South America. The renown
of the city’s prototype in Spain, itself inheriting the name of the
still more ancient and famous colony, Carthage, was transplanted to the
New World, and for two centuries it enjoyed the esteem of the whole
maritime world. Its sun-bleached walls still endure, stern relics of the
power of Spain. Belonging entirely to the past, it has escaped unharmed
the vandal hand of progress. Surrounded on all sides with walls, it gave
shelter to the great “plate” ships and their convoys which anchored
within its land-locked waters. There are three harbours, which together
extend for some nine miles from north to south, and have a surface of
nearly forty thousand acres. The situation was well chosen, for although
the waters of the Caribbean form the western boundary of the city, great
rocks protect it from the approach of ships; and of the two entrances
to the harbour, the Boca Grande and Boca Chica, only the latter is of
sufficient depth to allow the passage of vessels of any size. The middle
harbour is protected by two forts, and the narrow entrance to the
shallow waters of the inner harbour was an additional protection to the
city which lies within. To the east of the city, standing upon a
formidable hill, is the fort of San Lazar, whilst on another hill about
a mile away stands an ancient convent. Although the city stands upon
flat ground, it has a magnificent panorama of undulating hills spread
before it. Innumerable islets, bays, and capes fill the great harbour,
and as the steamer makes its way across the smooth waters it passes many
of the loveliest bits of tropical scenery to be found anywhere.
Cartagena formerly possessed untold wealth; rich and powerful merchants
prospered within its protecting walls. Its fame was world-wide, and
attracted the unwelcome attentions of the pirates, adventurers, and
privateers of the sixteenth century. Sir Francis Drake captured the city
by one of the most daring assaults recorded in the annals of piracy, and
the very defences thrown up by the garrison proved helpful to his
purpose. As the Spaniards retreated from the hard-pressing invaders,
they fell upon the poisoned stakes they had driven into the ground, and
their bodies made a soft foothold for the English. The Cartagenians,
dismayed and demoralised, fled in all directions, and the city fell into
the hands of Drake, who profited by the adventure to the tune of one
hundred thousand ducats, which added to the store of gold and glory he
had already acquired upon the Spanish Main. The wealth of Cartagena had
an irresistible attraction to all kinds of enemies which even its strong
fortifications could not dispel. Ten years after it was founded by
Heredia it was captured by the French. In 1586 Drake, fresh from
humbling the Spanish pride at Vigo and San Domingo, here repeated his
successes. Again, at the end of the seventeenth century the French took
the city and obtained over a million of money. The power of the mother
country was rapidly declining during the following century. Her home and
foreign policy had so aroused the bitter antagonism of England that
peace between the two countries was impossible. The war of “Jenkins’s
ear” arose ostensibly over the treatment meted out to smugglers by the
Spanish coastguards. The story told by Jenkins of his having his ear cut
off fanned the smouldering indignation of the English people into a
flame, and Walpole was reluctantly compelled by the popular clamour to
declare war. In October, 1739, the operations were entrusted to Admiral
Vernon, a fiery old sailor who gloried in his motto, “No peace with
Spain.” Old Grog, as he was familiarly called by his contemporaries, was
a gallant enough seaman, although a little given to bragging and
blustering. He pledged himself to take Porto Bello; and when he
accomplished this feat with the small loss of seven men, medals were
struck in honour of him and his victory.

Popular enthusiasm hailed him as a hero, and the public hero was
returned to Parliament by a large majority. In the following year, with
a larger squadron under his command, he set sail for Cartagena,
confident in his power to take the city. He met with a stubborn
resistance, however, and although he succeeded in capturing Fort San
Fernando that guards the Boca Chica, his further advances were repulsed.
General Wentworth, who accompanied the fleet in charge of the land
forces, had serious differences with “Old Grog,” and these were not
calculated to help matters. A company of soldiers were landed to take
Fort San Lazar, but they were obliged to retreat, leaving two hundred
dead and having over four hundred wounded. To add to the discomfiture of
the English, yellow fever broke out and wrought great havoc, and the
last attempt to capture the city proving unavailing, the fleet gave up
the enterprise, retired from the harbour, and made their way to Jamaica,
glad to escape the warmth of their reception and the enervating heat of
the bay.

Cartagena is one of the most picturesque, if one of the most
insalubrious cities, in South America. It is Spanish throughout, and
contains few modern buildings of any importance. The atmosphere of
bygone centuries hangs over it; time and the elements have imparted a
richness to its walls that constitutes its only charm. It is like an old
painting by a master hand, mellow and sedate. In the joints and cracks
of its discoloured walls, creepers, weeds, and mosses find root-hold and
nourishment. The buttresses, bastions, battlements, and sentry towers
that strengthen and equip the ramparts, all give evidence of the
important part the city was designed to play in the colonial system of
Spain. The entrance to the city from the little harbour is through a
gateway of three arches of imposing proportions. The larger central
archway is for mules, horses, and vehicular

[Illustration: A COLOMBIAN VILLAGE.]

traffic, the two smaller ones for pedestrians. The Plaza de los Coches,
the square to which the gateway gives immediate entrance, is surrounded
by an arched colonnade that gives a deep shade to the pavement, shops,
and stores. A stream of dark, swarthy, and yellow humanity flows through
the open space. The bright dresses of the negresses blazing in the
sunlight stand out vividly from the dark shadows of the arches and
doorways. The white dust of the streets dazzles the eye, and the gloom
of the narrow streets that lead in all directions is intensified by the
sharp contrast. The streets are fairly well paved, but very unclean and
evil smelling. Quaint balconies overhang the pavements, and through the
lattices dark, sleepy eyes gaze languidly at the passers-by. The heat is
almost unendurable during the summer months, and the inhabitants are to
be excused if they lack energy and indulge themselves freely in the use
of hammocks and easy rocking-chairs. The fine white dust that covers the
streets in the dry season becomes a kind of mud-like mortar when the
torrential rains descend, and the tatterdemalion shoeblacks reap their
harvests. Most of the houses in the narrow streets are of two stories,
and are painted with vivid primary colours so dear to Spanish eyes. When
fresh applied these colours are blinding in their intensity,
particularly when the sunlight falls upon them, but when faded and
weather-stained they become really beautiful. The red of the pantiles on
the roofs, the vivid greens and blues of balconies and doors, give a
sparkle to this otherwise grey city. The windows of the lower floors are
grilled with the usual iron or wooden bars, and the interiors are but
poorly furnished, with one or two chairs and tables. Through open doors,
green patios are seen filled with plants and palms, which cover much of
the accumulated dirt, rubbish, and garbage. It is amidst these
surroundings that families sit and take their siestas or oily smelling
repasts. The rooms are dirty and the kitchens full of smoke or odours,
so that with the freely circulating air the patio is the most desirable
part of the house. A French writer of the last century who visited the
city said of the town, that it contained “skilful jewellers, good
carpenters, excellent shoemakers, tolerable tailors, indifferent
joiners, black rather than white smiths, masons destitute of ideas of
proportion, bad painters, but impassioned musicians.” If this was true
of the inhabitants of one hundred years ago, it might with considerable
aptness be applied to their descendants to-day. The arts and crafts are
in a poor way, but they still love music. The population of the whole of
Colombia has a lot of black blood running through its veins; and as is
the case elsewhere where the same mixture exists, it is rare to find
much culture or refinement. The women of Cartagena, the half-breeds,
mulattoes, and octoroons, are tall and lithe, often very handsome,
resembling the types of Martinique more than those of the English
islands of the Caribbean. The whites so called and coloured people mix
freely with one another, and no defined colour-line seems to exist. In
Cartagena the old order is loath to give place to the new, although in
many cases new uses have been found for old buildings. Erstwhile forts
are now common dwellings; stately buildings have been turned into shops
and warehouses, churches and chapels into stables. The cathedral, an
imposing building with a magnificent altar-piece and many curious relics
of the past, stands out conspicuously from the other buildings in the
town. In its dark vaults are great piles of human skulls and bones, the
crumbling remains of victims of the Inquisition, which exercised its
terrible power in the early days of the city. These mouldering bones
have little respect shown them by the verger of the church, who turns
them over with his foot to pick out specimens to show to visitors, and
anyone who cares can possess a souvenir. There is a cemetery on a flat,
sandy site, a little way out of the city, surrounded by white walls. The
enclosed space

[Illustration: ON THE BANKS OF THE MAGDALENA RIVER.]

is a field of soft yielding sand, which the wind drives about so that
graves are covered and uncovered from time to time, and often the tops
of the iron crosses that mark the graves are barely visible above the
yellow dust. Around the walls are a series of oven-like vaults, three
deep, some sealed with bricks or plaster, others, although containing
coffins, left open to the view. A more revolting, unsanitary
burial-place could hardly be imagined. Yet in spite of the terrible
epidemics of yellow fever and smallpox to which the inhabitants are
inured, they regard this plague spot with perfect equanimity. Cartagena
was for many years the starting-point from the northern coast for
Bogota, the capital, but Barranquilla has taken its place in this
respect. The journey up the Magdalena River is made in small steamers,
although much of the merchandise is carried still in large canoes about
thirty feet long. “Piraguas,” as these craft are locally called, have
generally two masts which carry large, square sails, and are manned by a
crew who can take an oar when the wind fails. The navigation of the
river is not free from danger, and often the journey up to Bogota takes
about four weeks. The roads in the country are bad, where they do exist,
so that the river is the principal highway. The country people cultivate
a little cotton, maize, and indigo, but the agriculture of the country
is generally in a very backward state. Isolated dwellings are pitched by
the banks of the river, and the inmates live a short if sad life,
weaving a few mats for household use, nets for hammocks and for fishing.
Their houses, mostly of reeds and bamboos, afford but the slightest
protection from the heavy torrential rains. Cartagena, far removed from
the capital, is a listless, almost lifeless city, and the foreigner who
tries to make business headway amongst the people is doomed to cultivate
patience, if he intends to remain in one of the most backward of the
cities on the southern continent.

[Illustration: PERU & BOLIVIA.]



CHAPTER X

_Ecuador_


From Panama the steamers of the Pacific mail start on their voyage down
the long Pacific coast. That they should carry a curious medley of
passengers is only natural, seeing that they stop at the ports of four
republics. So numerous are these ports that some of the steamers have to
miss many of them, and smaller coastal vessels serve the needs of the
few voyagers who visit the smaller and more insignificant places; but
still there are enough stoppages to enable the voyager to see something
of the curious coast towns, even if he has no time to penetrate into the
interior of all the republics. The changes in the character of the coast
from the tropical mountain-slopes of the north to the dry-aired coast of
the mid-continent are the distinguishing features of the voyage.
Travellers from Valparaiso are filled with admiration and delight when
their eyes rest upon the sea-board of Ecuador and Colombia, for after
the arid monotony of the Chilian and Peruvian coast-lines, where
scarcely ever a drop of rain falls to freshen the verdure, the change is
to a tropical paradise. The expanse of glorious greenery refreshes the
vision--an exhilarating exchange from the dun-coloured vistas which have
been left behind. Guayaquil, the principal port of Ecuador, is one of
the best situated on the whole of the Pacific littoral, but,
unfortunately, is perhaps the most unhealthy. It lies on the bank of the
Guayas River, nearly thirty miles from the bar. The city is large for a
South American port, and has a population of over sixty thousand, and a
railway connects it with the capital of the republic, Quito. The city of
Guayaquil is badly drained, insanitary, and swarms with the germs of
disease. Its authorities do little or nothing to improve the health
conditions, and the recent decision of the United States Government to
insist upon drastic improvements being carried out will be hailed by all
who have traffic with this port. When the Panama Canal is opened, it is
only natural that Guayaquil will assume a new maritime importance, and
it is obviously impossible for such a pestilential hole to continue so
near to the great connecting link between the Atlantic and the Pacific.

The history of Ecuador runs on parallel lines with that of the other
South American republics, and its fortunes have been closely interwoven
with those of its neighbours, Peru and Colombia. Its aboriginal
inhabitants--Indians of a very low order--were, so the legendary history
runs, subjugated early in the Christian Era by a superior race named the
Caras, who in their turn were reduced to subjection by those aristocrats
of South America, the Incas of Peru. Ecuador was part of the disputed
territory which led to the sanguinary struggle between Atahualpa and his
brother Huascar, a struggle which gave Pizarro his opportunity of
conquering Peru. The conquistadores enslaved the Indians of Ecuador, and
found them more docile and complacent than those of any of the allied
tribes in South America. The Roman Catholic priesthood established
churches, schools, and seminaries, scattering these institutions about
with such a lavish hand that Quito, the capital, has been aptly called
“The City of Convents.” The natives accepted the Spanish yoke, and
toiled as hard as they were obliged to satisfy the exactions of the
alien governors. They were among the very last to feel the revolutionary
impulses which were born when the power of Spain was broken, and it was
not until the Argentine General San Martin, and after him Bolivar, had
kindled the torch of liberty, that Ecuador made any attempt to break
away from its old allegiance. It was too near to many other insurgent
areas to stand aloof from the movement, and it has the distinction of
being the second South American republic whose independence was formerly
recognised by Spain. Its history since then has been turbulent, but few
of the men who have been thrown up by the seething mass of successive
revolutions have been of outstanding calibre. The bulk of them have been
self-seekers, degraded of character and mean of intellect. Advancement
has striven with reaction, and the victory has generally been to the
latter, with the result that Ecuador is the worst governed and most
backward of all the South American countries. Of course, a few men stand
out as having something approaching statesmanlike qualities. It would be
strange if it

[Illustration: A DWELLING BY A RIVER-SIDE, ECUADOR.]

were otherwise, for nearly a hundred years have passed since Ecuador was
left to work out its own salvation. On the liberal side, Rocafuerte, the
first President, has some claims to be remembered, for he did much to
establish the constitution by which the country is governed, and to
found institutions modelled on those existing in more enlightened
countries. Moreno, who seized the supreme power in 1860 and held it for
fifteen years, is the greatest figure on the reactionary side. Although
he had little or no conception of individual liberty, he proved himself
a capable administrator, and since his assassination at the instigation
of the revolting liberals, Ecuador has not produced the article which
she so badly requires, “the still strong man in a blatant land.” It is
the case of an unceasing see-saw between the contending parties or
factions, but always the liberal regime is short-lived, for the
reactionaries or clericals have a strong hold upon the people. At the
moment reaction reigns supreme, and the events of January, 1912, tidings
of which have leaked out from Quito and Guayaquil by way of the Madrid
journals, reveal an exhibition of savagery which is almost incredible.
The Generals, Alfano and Montero, who headed the latest liberal revolt,
were hopelessly defeated by the Government forces, and then the
authorities set about devising fitting punishments for them. We read
that Montero, the President of the dissolved revolutionary Junta, was
dragged out of prison and taken to a public street. A huge fire, already
lit, awaited him, and the General was flung into it despite his
desperate resistance and cries of horror. When he was already half burnt
alive, he was fished out of the fire and flung into a vat of water to
cool. He was again dragged forth and thrown back into the fire, and
before the end came his martyrdom had lasted an hour. This was at
Guayaquil. At Quito, the capital, hidden away on the slopes of a
volcanic mountain, 200 miles from the sea-board, even worse horrors were
perpetrated. The favourite torture was cutting out the victims’ tongues
and then taunting them to make a speech. The newspaper correspondents,
even those representing the Ecuadorian Government journals, confessed
themselves horrified at the barbarities they had to witness. One of them
remarked, “If the events which we were condemned to witness yesterday
happened once in twenty or once in ten years, we should feel compelled
to emigrate from this country.” These well-nigh incredible happenings
occurred in January, 1912, and are not a lurid excerpt from a page of
the history of the Dark Ages. The only hope for Ecuador’s salvation lies
in its proximity to Panama. If the United States in 1898 put an end to
Spanish misgovernment in Cuba on the pretext that they could not allow
butcheries to go on at their door, there is all the stronger reason that
a vigilant eye should be kept on affairs in Ecuador, which lies so close
to the great highway, in itself a symbol of modern civilisation, and all
that it entails in the way of order, justice, and good government.



CHAPTER XI

“_The City of the Kings_”


About 1500 miles down the coast from Panama lies Callao, the principal
port of Peru, a large and busy town, by far the most imposing upon the
seaboard of that country. The first town, which stood about a mile from
the present one, was destroyed by an unusually violent earthquake shock
in 1746. The port of to-day is fast adopting modern improvements, and
most of the old mud and wickerwork houses have been replaced by
substantial modern dwellings, and the docks and shipping facilities have
grown to meet the increasing needs of the country. An electric tramway
line connects Callao with the capital, running over a beautiful, richly
cultivated plain. The road is wide and straight, and lined on either
side with walls constructed with great adobe bricks. Cattle and
husbandmen populate the fields, which are irrigated by many streams. “La
Ciudad de las Reyes” was the name bestowed by Pizarro on the city that
is to-day called “Lima,” a corruption of the Indian word “Rimac,” the
name of the river upon which the capital stands. Lima retains more than
any other city in Spanish America the subtle melancholy dignity so
characteristic of the towns of Andalusia. The whole atmosphere is
Spanish, and even the influence which the indigenous art of the
conquered race had upon most of the architecture that arose in other
cities after the conquest failed to make itself felt in “La Ciudad de
las Reyes.” Time has not wrought many changes in the city, and it still
preserves its ancient aspect. Even the architects of new buildings that
have arisen have not been able to escape entirely from the old
traditions, and they adopt timidly the cosmopolitan styles which have
been so largely made use of in such cities as Valparaiso, Buenos Ayres,
Rio, and São Paulo. The central and most important square in the city,
the Plaza de Armas, is full of the old atmosphere. The long, solid
building which occupies one side of the square continues to be the seat
of the Republican Government, as it was formerly that of the Viceroy of
Spain. The square is well shaded by leafy palms, which, in spite of the
scarcity of rain, have a freshness that is astonishing, and can only be
accounted for by the moist atmosphere which hovers over the city. Some
years ago all the trees and shrubs in this square were cut down by order
of nervous officials, who doubtless having in their minds the great
tragedy enacted on this spot when Pizarro fell a victim to the
conspiracy of his fellow-countrymen, saw a danger in the sheltering
trees which might conceal armed assassins and conspirators against the
Government. The cathedral, with its two towers and richly ornate façade,
occupies the eastern side of the Plaza. It is the oldest church in the
New World. The shocks of earthquakes and revolutions have failed to
shake its strong foundations or massive walls. Inside the spacious
aisles divided by plain and solid columns convey a sense of mysterious
dignity and strength which highly gilded and ornamental interiors lack.
A strong smell of burning incense pervades the silent building, and
brown-robed monks glide noiselessly through the gloom. One of the
brotherhood, a German, piloted me through the building, and showed with
pride the fine choir stalls, whose rich carving so excited the
admiration of an American millionaire that, according to my informant,
one was sold to him for a hundred dollars, an act of vandalism which it
is to be hoped will never be repeated, although my guide seemed to think
it was good business. An old illuminated Psalter of the late sixteenth
or early seventeenth century standing on the reading-desk in front of
the choir was pointed out, its leaves all scribbled over with the
sprawling autographs of tourists, and anyone wishing to add his name
could doubtless have done so without any remonstrance from the priest.
Of all the relics this ancient edifice contains, perhaps the most
extraordinary is the actual body of Pizarro, contained in a glass case,
which permits the visitor to inspect the very bones of the illustrious
founder of the city.

Churches, monasteries, convents, and other religious houses abound in
Lima. Monks and nuns attached to the different orders promenade its
streets, which are lined with solidly built houses, through the
wide-open doorways of which interesting

[Illustration: A PERUVIAN GIRL.]

patios are visible, many of them surrounded by little galleries,
supported by turned and carved wooden pillars, whilst the fronts of some
are enriched with projecting wooden balconies, after the Moorish style,
only more substantially constructed, and having heavy tiled roofs and
buttressed sides; these features, together with the strong doors studded
with iron bosses and spikes, and the windows railed with solid bars,
betray an Eastern origin. The city is full of ancient houses and palaces
which have been converted into tenements, each doorway in the patio
giving entrance to a separate household. The city has a population of
about 140,000, and their wants are supplied by four market-places, where
a large variety of meats, birds, fish, vegetables, and fruits are for
sale. Electric cars run through the ancient streets, and brush past mule
trains, with their heavy loads and picturesque trappings, whilst the
milkwomen, who sit perched up between great shining tins slung across
the backs of their horses, have hardly recovered from the shock of
seeing motor-cars whir past them. The capital contains the oldest
university, as well as the oldest cathedral in South America, and for
over three centuries it has been the centre of learning and education.
The development of the latter in many of its branches has been steady,
if slow, and the establishment of the National Institute of Peru and the
Museum is doing much to further the study of the anthropology and
archæology of the country. In the museum, a handsome building lying at
the extreme south of the city, a collection of Inca curios has been
brought together. Mummies, swathed in vicuna cloth and highly decorated,
looking like a row of “Aunt Sallies,” occupy a prominent place, and the
well-preserved remains of bodies found in the nitrate fields are
interesting, although a little gruesome. Ancient fabrics with archaic
designs, probably hieroglyphics, pan-pipes, earthenware pots, gold
ornaments, all telling of vanished civilisation. The costumes of the
country since the conquest, bizarre and curious, whilst the finely
wrought specimens of vicuna gloves and masks used by travellers crossing
the cold heights of the mountains are very ingenious. The picture
gallery contains many portraits of illustrious Peruvians and historical
tableaux, but these are of more archæological than artistic value. The
National Library, which has been established about a hundred years,
contained originally many rare and valuable manuscripts and books, many
of which had been

[Illustration: THE CATHEDRAL, LIMA.]

obtained from the monasteries in the country; but this nucleus of a fine
national collection was stolen by the Chilian army when they invaded the
capital in 1881, many items finding their way down to Santiago, the rest
being sold at upset prices to the shopkeepers in the capital. Nothing
daunted by this, the people of Lima started afresh to form the present
collection of over 50,000 works, all of the available portions of the
original library having been repurchased to restore in some measure the
unique character of the collection. The environs of Lima are very
pleasant. The vast plain upon which the city stands is well cultivated,
and sowing goes on for nine months of the year. Little villages and
hamlets with unpretentious houses and huts. The walls of the houses,
like those which divide the fields, have a very solid and antique
appearance. The brown mud colour is a feature which at once suggests the
dominant characteristic of the old Moorish cities.

[Illustration: A MILKMAID, LIMA.]

Peru is unfortunate in having much of her territory inaccessible from
the Pacific or from the capital, and the difficulties of administering
her wild forest lands on the eastern slopes of the Cordillera have led
to the rubber scandals recently brought to light. The difficulty of
communicating with the heart of their country is common to all the South
American republics. Brazil has her Matto Grosso and Acre territories;
Argentina and Chili the great desolate pampas of the south; and
Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, the same problems with regard to much of
their territory. Great tracts of the vast continent are still unknown
and unexplored; and even when they are, many of them will offer little
or no inducement for civilised settlement. Undreamt-of mysteries may
exist hidden in the depths of the almost impenetrable forests. Explorers
are busy in the country delimiting boundaries and investigating
untrodden regions, and the difficulties they encounter all point to the
almost impossibility of bringing many of the large tracts under the
influences of modern civilisation. The early conquistadors were
unrestrained by scruples in their treatment of native races, but the
modern Governments have the eyes of a more humane and censorious world
upon them. Immigrants are eagerly desired by the Peruvian Government to
develop the vast agricultural lands for the production of sugar, cotton,
linseed, rice, tobacco, coffee, vines, fruits, and vegetables. On the
high lands, where cattle can be raised, there is a great demand for
suitable labour. Indeed, from the north of the continent to the south
the cry is for workers. Nature having done her share to enrich the race,
now only waits for mankind to avail themselves of her bounty.



CHAPTER XII

_Peru--“The Country of Marvels”_


From Tumbez to Callao, the country presents a most arid and uninviting
appearance. The high, steep hills near to the shore extend in an almost
unbroken line of dull greyish brown, as the sun-baked clay, with here
and there patches of dirty white indicating guano deposits. I must
confess to a feeling of disappointment on first gazing upon the
inhospitable shores of Peru. For my mind treasured recollections of all
the glamour and romance that gather round the land and the history of
the wonderful Incas.

The world’s records contain few more fairy-like narratives than the well
attested story of a civilisation equal in many of its aspects to any the
world has known.

Inland, many types are encountered, easily traceable to those “Children
of the Sun” who migrated from the north to the interior highlands of the
country and established at Cuzco the centre and capital of a great
empire. Originally, their very contrast with surrounding tribes gave
them a remarkable distinction, whilst their civilisation was full of
sound and humane elements. Its keynote was an intelligent socialism, for
the citizen had to supply the needs of the aged and infirm, the widow
and the orphan, and the soldier on active service, before supplying his
own. The person of the Emperor was regarded as divine, and he wielded
supreme authority over his realm. In this enlightened society, hidden
away for centuries from the eyes of the rest of the world, poverty was a
thing unknown, for communism, tempered by an almost extravagant regard
for authority, attained during the regime of the Incas an ideal height
never achieved before or since.

The Peruvians of those bygone times have left little doubt that they
excelled as agriculturalists and shepherds; their mountains were
cultivated almost to the snow-line; irrigation on thoroughly sound lines
was known and practised; aqueducts and bridges abounded, and adequate
roads connected town with town and with the sea. Moreover, the people
had advanced sufficiently far along the path of civilisation to have
tamed wild animals such as the llama and alpaca for domestic use.

[Illustration: THE ARID COAST OF PERU.]

On a higher plane than this, they had evolved a religion full of sound
rules for individual and social conduct and performed with a wealth of
ritual. Its central feature was Sun-worship, which relates it somewhat
to the Zoroastrianism of the Persians, but it is clear that, in
addition, the Incas and their subjects had an exalted conception of a
Supreme Being--the fount and origin of the Universe. His greatest
temple, which filled one side of the square at Cuzco, was richly
ornamented and decorated, its walls and shrines being overlaid with pure
gold, in the working of which metal the ancient Peruvians were highly
proficient.

Truly, here was a people widely differentiated from the ruck of South
American natives--those squalid Indians with whom the Spanish
adventurers came into contact. Possessed of sufficient enterprise to
establish an empire which, from north to south, extended from Quito in
Ecuador to the River Maule in Chili, they were a noble and withal
peaceful race; and the inexplicable manner in which this fabric of
civilisation arose can only be compared in sheer wonder with the sudden
manner of its fall. Although nothing definite seems to have been known
in Europe of the empire of the Incas, such an Eldorado had been
adumbrated by dreamers and sung of by poets, and the outpourings of
these men of fancy fired the hearts of adventurers in quest of a land
rich in treasure beyond the dreams of avarice.

The splendid dominion of the Incas fell a prey to the greatest of all
the Spanish adventurers--Francisco Pizarro, who outshone his fellows in
ability, daring, resourcefulness, and, alas! treachery. The illegitimate
offspring of a gentleman and a woman of the people, Pizarro, although
lacking in education, proved himself more than a match for the proudest
sons of Spain who had received careful training in the schools of arms
and diplomacy.

In 1524, we find him settled in Panama with two companions, Almagro and
Luque, the trio eager to discover that rich country which everyone was
persuaded had other than imaginary existence. Having obtained permission
from Pedrarias, the Governor of Panama, Pizarro set sail in a small
vessel with 112 men, but after many privations was compelled to retire.
Urged on, however, by the persistence of his comrades Almagro and Luque,
and undeterred by the defections of his men, spent and weary after a
sojourn on an inhospitable island in sight of a swampy shore, Pizarro at
length landed at Tumbez on the Peruvian coast, where his eyes feasted
for the first time upon the opulence of the Incas. Eldorado was
discovered at last!

Pizarro came and saw, but did not conquer, at any rate, not then, and
that for the very good reason that he had with him a mere handful of
followers. But he lost no time in collecting what he could of the spoil,
and taking it as a sample to Spain, where he succeeded in inducing the
court to aid and abet his surprising adventure.

He returned to Peru and arrived on the scene at the psychological
moment. The last Inca monarch, Huayna Capac, had divided his kingdom
between his two sons--Huascar, the rightful heir, and Atahualpa, the old
king’s son by an Ecuadorian mother. These two sons began to squabble
over territorial questions, and at length Atahualpa endeavoured to
appropriate the whole country to himself. This was Pizarro’s opportunity
and he was quick to take advantage of it.

The meeting between the Spanish conquistadors and the last of the great
Incas was surely one of the most remarkable in history, resembling
somewhat the splendours of the Field of the Cloth of Gold. On the
surface at least, amity prevailed on both sides, Pizarro being lavish in
his professions of good intentions, and Atahualpa child-like in his
belief of them.

[Illustration: A LLAMA IN GOLD, MADE BY THE INCAS.]

The Inca king was carried to the meeting-place on a throne or couch
adorned with plumes of various colours, and almost covered with plates
of gold and silver embellished with precious stones. Following him were
the chief officers of his court carried in a similar manner, singers and
dancers accompanying the procession, whilst the plain was covered with
countless troops.

Pizarro could make no such gorgeous display, being attended merely by a
small band of soldiers and a priest. As always, this latter accompanied
the Spanish adventurers to furnish a religious excuse for any excesses
that might be deemed necessary. As the royal procession approached, the
priest, Valverde by name, holding a crucifix in one hand and a breviary
in the other, called upon the Inca to embrace the Christian faith, which
he expounded at some length, and to acknowledge as his lawful sovereign
the King of Castile, to whom the Pope, God’s viceregent on earth, had
granted all the regions of the New World. Little understanding the badly
translated harangue, the monarch indignantly refused to comply with the
impudent demand, and this was the cue for one of the most remarkable
exploits that even Pizarro ever carried out.

The signal was given to fire, and for the first time in their existence
the Peruvians were made acquainted with the deadly effect of firearms.
In this unprovoked attack, more than four thousand of them were slain,
and Atahualpa, rudely dragged from his throne by Pizarro’s own hand, was
cast into prison.

Although bent on the Inca’s destruction, Pizarro for a time, played with
him with catlike cruelty. When there came a talk of liberty, Atahualpa
offered to fill the room in which he was confined with vessels of gold
as high as he could reach, provided he were allowed to go free. Pizarro
jumped at so tempting a bargain, and the treasure was duly delivered,
but the Inca was not given his liberty, and eventually the Spaniard had
him strangled. Many pretexts were given for the crime, one being that he
had ordered the death of his brother Huascar; another that he kept a
great many concubines! But neither of these reasons nor any of the
others cited revealed the dark motive in Pizarro’s soul. He was astute
enough to perceive that so long as there was a single Inca alive a
superstitious reverence would cling round his personality, and the
domination of Spain would never be secure.

So perished the last of the Incas, and thereafter the great edifice of
civilisation which they had erected crumbled into ruins. There was now a
profuse distribution of gold and other treasure, some of which went to
the Spanish court, a goodly proportion being reserved for Pizarro and
his men.

It was only Almagro who did not get his just due, and Almagro must never
be forgotten in the telling of this turbulent tale; for he played a big
part in the events that preceded and followed the overthrow of the last
Inca. Pizarro showed all through the piece that he was an implacable
enemy and a treacherous friend, and his treatment of his comrade in arms
exposes his character in the very worst light possible. While he
rewarded the priestly Luque--ecclesiastical honours being outside the
province of his own ambitions--he failed to fulfil hardly a single
obligation to Almagro, who in those early Panama days had borne with him
the burden and brunt of the battle.

[Illustration: INCA PORTRAITURE ON A PIECE OF OLD POTTERY.]

For some years after, the history of Peru resolves itself into a duel
between the two conquistadors, Almagro usually showing himself as the
man of honour, Pizarro as the perjured schemer. But virtue did not avail
men much in those days, and when Almagro at last fell into his rival’s
hands it was plain that the game was up. He was sentenced to death, and
bore his fate with fortitude.

For a little time after that, Pizarro remains the dominant figure in the
picture, his rule, for he had long since thrown to the winds all
pretence of obedience to Spain, being practically absolute. But the
friends and supporters of Almagro had not forgotten the foul way in
which their hero had been done to death, and they bided their time.

Their chance was not long in coming. On June 26th, 1541, Pizarro met his
doom. A desperate band of conspirators burst into the palace in the
square of Lima, broke down the resistance of the guard, and surprised
the dictator just after he had risen from dinner. It may be said of him
as it was said of Charles I, that nothing became him so much in life as
his manner of leaving it. Armed with nothing more than a sword and
buckler, he fought with all the vigour of his youthful days; but his
courage was unavailing, for the conspirators were numerous and
well-armed. Pizarro received a deadly thrust full in his throat, sank to
the ground, and expired.

After these picturesque, though lurid happenings, the history of Peru,
like that of all the other South American Republics, becomes
monotonous. The colonial period resolves itself into a record of
oppressive taxation, rigidly exacted, and patiently borne; and events do
not begin to move again until the declaration of independence in the
early part of the nineteenth century. For the establishment of its
freedom, Peru has much to thank the great Bolivar, and that modern
Peruvians have not forgotten the invaluable services which the Liberator
rendered their fathers the fine equestrian statue of him in the square
at Lima testifies.

But Peru has much to show the rambler in addition to the relics of its
impressive past. As already intimated, it is a country of marvels, and
not all of them are supplied by Incan civilisation. The Indians who
preceded that regime were also possessed of quaint and curious
knowledge. Amongst other things, they knew how to reduce the human head
from its natural size to about four inches. The object of this strange
craft was obvious. Just as the Indian of North America carried the
scalps of his foes at his belt, so the Indian of North Peru carried the
reduced heads of his victims strung together to show his warlike
prowess.

The _modus operandi_ of this gruesome process was as follows: The
severed head was boiled in an infusion of forest plants, so as to soften
the bones, which were then taken out. The head was afterwards hung up,
and hot pebbles constantly placed inside until the skin was dried and
the required size attained.

The custom is not confined to Peru, but is practised by savage tribes in
other parts of northern South America. There is in the British Museum a
reduced head from Venezuela, which was presented by Mr. Fagan, British
Minister in Caracas. The human likeness of the features in these
miniature heads is wonderfully retained and has a most weird appearance.
It is not only savage heads that are treated in this barbarous fashion.
At least one of the preserved heads which have been brought to Europe
bears unmistakable evidence of its having belonged to a white
man--probably some wretched adventurer who lost his way in the forest
and perished at the hands of these fiendishly ingenious savages.

Railways rise steadily from sea-level with an average grade of about
four per cent, clinging to, or boring through, solid rock throughout
almost the entire distance, to the highest point at Ticlio, 15,665 feet.
The short branch from Ticlio to the mining camp of Morococha, beautiful
with its many lakes and glaciers, crosses the range at the stupendous
altitude of 15,865 feet above sea-level, which is somewhat higher than
the summit of Mont Blanc. The Central Railway of Peru is, therefore, the
highest railway in the world. It need hardly be said that the intrepid
builders of this unique mountain railway surmounted some of the greatest
obstacles ever encountered in the history of engineering.

[Illustration: A REDUCED HUMAN HEAD.]

To revert to politics, the sore feeling engendered by the war between
Chili and Peru has been much embittered by the conduct of Chili in the
case of the Tacna and Arica provinces.

It has often been said that treaties between nations are only made to be
torn up, and this is evidently how Chili regards them. By the Treaty of
Ancon, which was signed after the war on October 20th, 1883, the
province of Tarapaca, which is extremely rich in nitrates, was ceded to
Chili, while the provinces of Tacna and Arica were to remain in the
possession of Chili for ten years as from the date of the treaty. At the
end of that time, a plebiscite of the inhabitants of the provinces was
to be taken on the point whether they preferred the territory to remain
under the sovereignty of Chili. The clause in the treaty concludes: “The
country in whose favour the provinces be annexed shall pay to the other
the sum of £1,000,000.” Although twenty-nine years have passed since the
signing of that treaty no plebiscite has yet been taken, and Peru
charges her neighbours with always raising technical difficulties
whenever the question of taking the vote is mooted. She prefers an even
more serious charge than this, alleging that, as the time when the
plebiscite must, owing to international pressure, be taken draws nearer,
Chili is making it so hot for the Peruvians in the two provinces under
dispute that they are unable to live there. The object of this is, of
course, that the plebiscite shall have only one result, and that in
favour of Chili.

In this country of marvels, a word must be given to coca, that wonderful
plant which grows in the warm valleys of Peru and Bolivia, and will not
flourish anywhere else. It grows in the form of a shrub, and seldom
exceeds six feet in height. For centuries past the Peruvian Indians have
recognised its dietetic value. It is at once refreshing and stimulating;
it must be nutritious also, for a native can work for an extreme length
of time without troubling about any other form of food. The local way of
taking it is by chewing, generally with the admixture of a little lime.
When infused, it makes a very refreshing beverage. Its value in medicine
is also great, for it is the source of that indispensable alkaloid
cocaine.

The collection of the coca leaves involves much care, as they have to be
gathered one by one for fear of injuring the plant. The person who has
charge of this operation places a mantle alongside each plant and throws
into this the leaves which he gathers. The preservation of the leaves is
also a difficult matter; if too dry they become reduced to powder; if
too damp they decompose.

In the countries to which they are exported, the coca leaves, in the
dried form, are used for making wines, tonics, and medicinal syrups.

It will be seen from the foregoing description that coca is a very
wonderful and unique product. In countless directions fortune has been
kind to South America, showering distinctive gifts upon her with a
lavish hand. It would really seem that nature believed in the principle
of monopoly, for certainly the coca of Peru and Bolivia and the maté tea
of Paraguay flourish on no other soil. With these two products may be
bracketed the coffee of Brazil. The three things combined suggest, in
the old Doctor’s phrase, “the potentiality of growing rich beyond the
dreams of avarice,” and even when the gold, which tempted the cupidity
of the Spaniard to the exclusion of everything else, is exhausted the
continent will find (indeed, already is finding) a larger, a more
regular, and a more constant source of wealth in its indigenous crops.

The sustaining powers of coca, attested by centuries of use, as well as
by the fact that it is daily consumed by eight millions of people in
Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Rio Negro, who require little food
of any other kind, constitute a strong argument for its extended
employment in the future. If it is such a good friend to the South
American Indian, it should be equally serviceable to the soldier on the
march; and already the army authorities of several countries are
considering the advisability of including it in their commissariat. The
present value of the crop--about £200,000 annually--is therefore as
nothing to the wealth it may yield in the future.

[Illustration: AN INCA MASK IN GOLD.]

[Illustration: PRE-INCA MONOLITHS IN BOLIVIA.]



CHAPTER XIII

_“The Gateway to an Imprisoned Land”_


Mollendo, the port for Arequipa, Cuzco, La Paz, is anything but an
inviting place. It is a dismal town like Iquique, Arica, Paita, and many
others on the rainless coast that stretches for hundreds of weary miles
down the Pacific. The port is unsheltered and strong south-westerly
winds prevail, making the landing in small boats a matter of no little
difficulty. The landing-stage or mole belonging to the Peruvian
Corporation is the most important feature of the dusty town, for from it
all the rich products of the far-distant interior are shipped into the
barges which carry them out to the steamers that anchor in the
roadstead. The exports are alpaca and sheep’s wool, hides, coca leaves,
Peruvian bark, silver, tin, and iron ores. The town itself is built upon
steep, rising ground, the roads of which are carpeted with thick layers
of ruddy dust, which the wind drives about to the inconvenience of the
visitors, although it does not apparently annoy the dirty-looking
inhabitants. There are two hotels in the town that offer little choice,
and it is a toss-up which is the more deserving of patronage. The houses
are all built of wood and painted with colours that soon lose their
original hues, for the sun, unmasked by clouds, beats down on them with
relentless fury and, combined with the efforts of the dust, contrives to
reduce them to a uniform tint of bleached dismalness. The shops expose
cheap goods of German manufacture, for all along the Pacific seaboard
the irrepressible Teuton is fast obtaining a strong and tenacious
foothold. The native market exudes such unmistakable evidences of its
contents that only persons with strong stomachs dare venture to make a
visual inspection of the wares. Swarthy Indians, enveloped in
brilliantly coloured ponchos, lounge on the wharves or in the shade
cast by the buildings. The church, built of wood and corrugated iron, in
a style absolutely unsuitable to the materials, has two towers
surmounted by conical caps that are quite original and absurd. Women sit
at little stalls in the gutters or on the pavements, and above their
heads little square sunshades stuck on poles give some protection to the
medley of fruit in the baskets in front of them. The whole place looks
temporary, and one would not be surprised to learn that the authorities
were only waiting for funds to lay out a more habitable town. The place
has only about 5000 inhabitants, who deserve the sympathy of all
right-feeling people. But Mollendo is only a seaport, and the doorway to
vast and interesting regions in the interior, many of which are
unexplored, and one of which, Bolivia, is still waiting for a proper
recognition of its vast resources. The railway to Arequipa and Puno on
the Peruvian shore of the highest navigable lake in the world, and to
Cuzco, the ancient city of the Incas, has brought these hitherto
little-visited centres into closer touch with outside civilisation.

[Illustration: A FRUIT-STALL AT MOLLENDO.]

The first part of the journey to Arequipa is through a succession of
sand dunes, desolate and bare, stretching away into the distance on all
sides. These dunes, crescent-shaped, are in a state of slow motion,
moving in the direction of their horns at the rate of about 100 feet in
the course of a year, so that they could give a glacier a few thousand
years’ start in a race. Towards Arequipa, which is approached through
fertile and cultivated land upon which maize and sugar-cane grow, cattle
graze, or, driven by natives, tread out the corn. The city is about 122
kilometres from the coast, and lies in a beautiful valley, green and
luscious. The elevation of the city at 7600 feet ensures a cooler clime
than that left behind in the baked and roasted coast.

Away in the distance the great snow-clad mountain peaks of Misti,
Pichupichu, and Charehani tower into the blue vault above. The city in
the valley is built largely of the brown lava thrown up by a volcano in
the vicinity. With an almost cynical indifference to the terrible forces
of nature, the builders of the city have utilised the product of the
volcano to protect themselves from the devastating earthquakes to which
the whole Pacific slope of the Cordillera is subject. The architecture
of Arequipa and Cuzco differs in many respects from that of Lima, for in
both the former cities there are many traces of the strong influences
that the indigenous art of the country had upon that of the conquerors.
The heavy carvings on the façades and doorways of the many churches and
convents in Arequipa betray the influence more than the general design,
and many ornamental forms are introduced that belong entirely to the New
World. The railway from Arequipa crosses the Cordillera at the altitude
of 14,600 feet above the sea, and from the Crucero Alto descends through
rich pasture lands upon which great flocks of llamas, sheep, alpacas,
and the wild vicuna graze.

At the junction Juliaca the line branches, the northern route leading to
the ancient Inca capital. This city Cuzco lies between two streams at an
altitude of 12,000 feet, and is a great favourite with tourists from the
United States, who go in great numbers to see the many interesting
remains of the old civilisation. Although much of the old Temple of the
Sun which aroused the cupidity of the Spanish invaders has given place
to a Jesuit convent, there are still many buildings that retain the
massive walls built by the conquered race. The lower portions of most of
the houses are good specimens of the fine masonry for which the old
builders are distinguished. The lighter construction of the upper
stories is of the Spanish period, with many of its characteristic
architectural features. The other line, that branches south from
Juliaca, leads to Puno, which lies on the shores of Lake Titicaca, where
a steamer completes the connection with the Bolivian shore at Guaqui,
from whence trains depart for La Paz, the capital of Bolivia. Named
after the great Liberator, Simon Bolivar, Bolivia is a large country
covering about 597,000 square miles, bounded on the north, south, and
east by Brazil, Paraguay, and the Argentine Republic, and shut away from
the Pacific seaboard on the west by Peru and Chili. Prior to the
assertion of its independence it was known as Upper Peru, and in its
early years it was virtually a part of a neighbouring State, from which
it derived its name. The country is naturally divided into two portions,
the high lands to the westward and the grean plains that roll away to
the east. The centre of the country is a fertile plateau which is
capable of supporting vast herds of sheep and cattle, and raising all
kinds of crops. The mineral wealth of the country is rich, copper and
gold being found in considerable quantities. But the staple mineral
product is silver, for Bolivia is the third largest producer of silver,
and in the mines of Potosi, which have been worked for centuries, there
would seem to be a practically inexhaustible supply of that precious
metal.

[Illustration: THE JESUIT CHURCH ON THE SITE OF THE INCA “TEMPLE OF THE
SUN.”]

Like so many other of the South American republics, Bolivia possesses
undreamt of potentialities for development, but her industry and her
commerce with the outside world are sadly hampered for want of a port on
the Pacific. Bolivians live in hopes that they will get it one day, not
by force of arms, but through the good offices of Chili. Already an
arrangement has been arrived at with Brazil under which Bolivia has a
better outlet for her products from the north-west. One of her greatest
desiderata is to despatch as promptly and cheaply as possible her large
and valuable supplies of rubber for shipment to the port of Para.

[Illustration: A BOLIVIAN WOMAN.]

Bolivia has been called the cradle of civilisation, and long before the
Incas in the neighbouring State of Peru founded their kingdom it was
inhabited by a cultivated race, who have left behind monuments of their
skill in the shape of statues and buildings strongly wrought of carved
stone. Whatever the warlike prowess of this primitive folk may have
been, it was not sufficiently developed to resist the invasion of the
Incas, and when the Spaniards, under the redoubtable Pizarro, entered
the country, they found it under the domination of the latter race.

Bolivia may also make the unique boast that on its soil was struck the
last blow for South American independence. The victory of Ayacusho,
achieved in December, 1824, proved the death-blow to Spanish domination
in the sub-continent, and it is therefore a landmark not only in the
history of South America, but of the world.

[Illustration: SAILING ON LAKE TITICACA.]

Bolivia may also be proud--if nations should be proud of such
things--that she has had more revolutions than any other State even in
that part of the globe where revolutions are a favourite pastime.

The Bolivians resemble a certain king in one of Browning’s poems, they
have favourites manifold, and shift their ministry

[Illustration: BALSAS ON LAKE TITICACA.]

some once a month. The obvious result of this is that the later history
of the country makes confused and rather weary reading. One dictator
followed another after the collapse of Bolivar’s ambitious dream of
establishing a Central South American dictatorship for himself, with the
heads of all the other communities subject to his authority. Some of
these men, to their credit be it recorded, tried to assume the mantle of
the wise ruler, but others were bloodthirsty tyrants. Few of them stand
out in bold relief like Francia in Paraguay or Bolivar in New Granada.
One of the most celebrated of the bunch was Melgarejo, who in the
sixties of the last century abandoned all pretence of governing by any
sanction except that of brute force and terror. Although the lives of
Bolivians were very insecure, for none of them ever knew when they would
be charged with conspiracy against the State and sent to execution,
Melgarejo’s regime was not one of undiluted evil. The best points in his
rule were exemplified in the application of funds for public purposes,
and before his overthrow in 1871 silver production had enormously
increased, foreign capital had flowed freely into the country, and the
Mollendo Railroad, extending to the head of Lake Titicaca, had been
opened.

The war with Chili, in which she joined forces with Peru, ended
disastrously for Bolivia, for it entailed the loss of her nitrate
territory, and cut her off entirely from the Pacific Ocean.

It is in the retrieving of that highway to the sea that her prosperity
in the future lies.

The highlands of Bolivia have been compared with Thibet, the roof of the
world, but whilst the Asian tableland consists merely of mountain
pastures, that of South America supports towns and populous cities, and
affords food for numerous herds of cattle, llamas, vicunas, and sheep,
and is covered with harvests of cereals. The mineral wealth of Bolivia
lies principally in the western districts, which are consequently the
most populous and settled, containing the chief centres of trade at La
Paz, Cochabamba, Sucre, Potosi, and Oruro. The eastern provinces of Beni
and Santa Cruz cannot as yet point to more than their possibilities,
which are vividly suggested in the description of a traveller from the
United States, who declared that “the few scattered inhabitants gaze
upon a wealth sufficient to pay the national debts of the world.”

The population of the country is something just under three millions.
The trade is principally in the hands of Germany and England, but the
former country is making far greater headway in the Bolivian markets
than are our own merchants and manufacturers. The reason doubtless is
that Germany and also France in a lesser degree are taking the trouble
to find out what the foreign public really requires.



CHAPTER XIV

“_The Land of Nitrates_”


Valparaiso is the principal seaport of the most remarkably shaped
country in the world. A narrow strip of land, lying between the Andes
and the Pacific, having a length of two thousand eight hundred miles,
and a width varying from forty to one hundred and sixty miles, it has
not inaptly been compared to a serpent couched on the south-western
verge of the continent. When you have voyaged down the coast from
Panama, and have experienced the changes from the tropical verdure of
the Ecuadorian coast to the arid monotony of the Peruvian seaboard and
the dusty, dry melancholy of such Chilian seaports as Iquique,
Antofagasta, Tattal, and Coquimbo, the soft grey atmosphere of
Valparaiso comes as a welcome relief. One might almost imagine that an
English climate had found its way down south, as well as English trade,
manners, and customs. Valparaiso--the “Vale of Paradise”--hardly
justifies its presumptuous title, for although trees and verdure are
plentiful enough, the bay cannot for a moment be compared for beauty
with the magnificence of Rio de Janeiro on the other side of the
continent. The impressions received are entirely different from any
others to be obtained in other parts of South America.

The languorousness of equatorial regions is left behind, and on every
hand a virile activity is apparent. This note of virility, which is
quite unusual in Latin-American communities, at first excites surprise,
and many theories have been advanced to account for the phenomenon. If
climate and environment have a great influence on the moulding of racial
character, it is not unnatural to suppose that the exceptional
characteristics of Chili have had their due effect upon the inhabitants.
The Chilians have been called the “English of South America,” and it has
been put forward that they derive their origin from the natives of
Northern Spain, whereas other South American States were colonised by
adventurers from the southern part of the Peninsula. But the precise
localities from which the early conquistadors came are lost in the mists
of antiquity, and it is therefore much safer to attribute the
extraordinary energy and enterprise of the Chilian to his environment,
to the harsh experiences he has undergone, and to the strain of
Araucanian blood which runs through the whole people. The Spanish
colonists from Peru who effected the conquest of the country, had a much
tougher proposition to deal with than their compatriots in other parts
of the continent, for the natives they found in possession of the soil
were not the usual docile type of Indian, but a race of hardy fighters,
who were prepared to contest the advance of the invader to the last
ditch, as it were. The Araucanian Indians were the most valorous of all
the South American aborigines, and it cannot be said with truth that
they were ever entirely subjugated, a portion of independent territory
being granted them, on honourable terms, after a long struggle.
Intermarriage with the Araucanians undoubtedly did much to stiffen the
Spanish fibre, and many of the best families in the country to-day are
proud to claim descent from this dominant and manly race.

[Illustration: A CHILIAN FARMER.]

In Valparaiso, and in Santiago the capital, which lies about fifty miles
inland as the crow flies, but over double that distance by rail, the
Englishman finds himself very much at home. In nearly all the shops he
can hear his native tongue spoken, and at the social functions many of
the fashions and customs of his country

[Illustration: AN ARAUCANIAN FAMILY.]

are followed and observed. At the watering-places Vina do Mar and
Miramar, not far from Valparaiso, the beach scenes might well be likened
to those on the shores of retiring English watering-places, whilst the
sturdy children who romp upon the sands display a healthy vitality that
only temperate climates seem to develop. Valparaiso is a busy town,
where the inhabitants are all on business bent; and although they live
upon an earthquake zone, they have expressions free from the anxiety
which one might expect to see upon their faces. Many of the buildings,
both in the city and suburbs, have many scars and cracks, received
during the great upheaval of 1906, and nervous persons prefer to live in
structures that are light and low, than to trust to the higher though
solidly built buildings that offer little chances of escape in the
terrible moments of a shock.

Horses are cheap in Chili; and the beautifully situated racecourse, near
Vina do Mar, is well patronised by all classes. Though not so imposing
or so ostentatious as the famous course at Buenos Ayres, it is more
fortunate in its setting, and the beauty of the surrounding scenery,
with the great background of the Cordillera towering into the sky, gives
it a character which many race-courses lack. In some respects it might
be compared with the one at Rio, but, if anything, it has a more
distinguished loveliness. Many tennis courts and a golf course are well
patronised by both sexes, and riding is an almost universal form of
exercise. In Santiago the government classes make the society more
brilliant in its display, and although the city still retains many
characteristically Spanish buildings, its inhabitants are cosmopolitan
in their tastes and education. The Alameda, an avenue over five miles in
length and lined with beautiful trees, is a promenade much affected by
the fashion of the capital, and the horses and carriages are only
exceeded in elegance and beauty by the women, who are as beautiful as
their distant cousins in Argentina. In the evenings the Plaza is a blaze
of light and life, and no one can dispute the Chilians’ capacity for
social enjoyment. Public monuments to illustrious natives are numerous,
and one to O’Higgins, seated on his prancing steed and flourishing his
sword, is strongly reminiscent of the numerous replicas of the San
Martin monuments which are scattered through the neighbouring republic
of Argentina.

These two men had a large share in the emancipating of the continent
from the degenerate government of Spain, and their deeds of valour, ever
fresh in the minds of their countrymen, continue to animate the spirit
of independence.

[Illustration: AN ARAUCANIAN INDIAN.]

When the Spaniards first set foot in Chili they found a large portion of
the country under the sway of the Incas, for although that dynasty is
generally associated with Peru, at the height of its power it exercised
domination over Ecuador and Chili in addition. Almagro, the gallant
General who fell a victim to the insatiable ambition of his former
comrade Pizarro, was the first of the conquerors to enter the country,
but his stay was not prolonged, for the climate was inhospitable, and
there was no gold to be had for the seeking. It remained for Valdivia,
a lieutenant of Pizarro’s, to carry on the work which Almagro had
attempted in a half-hearted fashion. He found the task a particularly
perilous one, and before he could complete it he was captured by the
Araucanians and slain by the war club of an old chief. Spain, however,
persisted in her project, and her eventual conquest of Chili certainly
makes one of the proudest records in the variegated page of her exploits
in the New World. In the early years of the nineteenth century Chili
went through an experience which was common to every other South
American country--it battled for its independence. The struggle was long
and desperate. The resemblance of the Chilians to the English has
already been noted, and it was therefore appropriate that two men of
British descent should have lent incalculable aid to Chili in securing
her enfranchisement. The names of Bernardo O’Higgins and Lord Thomas
Cochrane are deservedly honoured in the country to-day.

O’Higgins was the natural son of an Irish Captain-General, who under the
old Spanish regime had played a part in the making of modern Chili, thus
illustrating yet once more the statement that there has never been a
conflict in modern times but an Irishman has taken part in it. A gallant
fighter, a consummate strategist, his exploits on Chilian soil have
quite eclipsed those of his father. He outwitted the Spanish generals,
harried their forces, and did more than anyone else, with the exception
of San Martin, to break the power of Spain in that corner of the globe.
He subsequently became dictator of the new republic, but his record as a
statesman is by no means so clean or so brilliant as his career as a
soldier. His own rapacity and his ministers’ corruption led to his
downfall in 1823. Lord Thomas Cochrane was one of those sailors of
fortune in which the British Navy has been so prolific. He was almost as
great a terror to the Spanish captains as Drake had been some hundreds
of years before. His daring bombardment of Valdivia, and subsequent
rushing of the forts, demoralised the Spaniards and led to the surrender
of the city, and deprived Spain of her last base of operations on the
Chilian mainland. Chili has been called “the school of arms” for South
America, and, judging from the number of conflicts which have taken
place on her soil, the name is more than justified.

The war with Peru and Bolivia, in which Chili came out the undoubted
victor, and the civil war, out of which José Balmaceda

[Illustration: ARAUCANIAN GIRLS.]

emerges a romantic and heroic figure, are events of more recent
occurrence, but sufficient time has elapsed to bring the character of
Balmaceda into clearer relief. There is no doubt that his motives were
pure and high, and under his administration Chili grew and prospered. A
thorough democrat in every fibre of his being, he hated the Church party
because he believed it to be the inveterate foe of enlightenment and
progress.

His great mistake was in imagining that he and his ministers could rule
a fretful realm without the co-operation of Congress, a mistake also
made by Charles I, and with similar results. This it was that led to the
civil war which brought along Balmaceda’s defeat, and culminated in his
dramatic suicide in the residence of the Argentine minister in August,
1890. Since then the country has been comparatively quiet, for luckily
the dispute with Argentina over territory on their respective frontiers
has been amicably settled by arbitration. Thus out of much stress and
turmoil the Chilians have developed into a prosperous and dominant
nation, with a sea power which gives them the command of the Pacific
coast of the whole sub-continent.

Not only concerned with war, they have brought the industries of
agriculture to a high level of perfection. The Chilian farmers are among
the most prosperous in the world, and have been likened to “feudal
barons, with hacienda in lieu of castle, with broad acreage, and
thousands of sheep, cattle, and horses.”

Nitrate is the chief source of Chili’s prosperity, and the deposits of
this invaluable product are found in the great plains of Tamarugal in
the two northern provinces. The salty earth called “caliche” which
contains the nitrates is found some three to six feet below the surface,
and all the principal “oficinas” lie upon a plateau at an altitude of
about two thousand feet. The railway which connects these “oficinas”
with the coast runs from Iquique and Pisagua, and these two towns are
the great shipping ports for the product. The exportation of commercial
nitrate known as “Chilian nitre” began in 1830, when something less than
nine thousand gross tons were shipped. The quantity has steadily risen
until now over two million gross tons are exported annually, the figures
for 1911 being over two million three hundred thousand tons. Of this
quantity approximately seventy-five per cent is used for fertiliser
purposes. The “oficinas,” which are situated on the Pampas, are busy
centres of industry,

[Illustration: ON THE GUANO DEPOSITS.]

employing many men who live in the villages belonging to the works--and
stores, schools, and other useful institutions exist to make life upon
these bare plains endurable. The “caliche” is worked locally in these
factories, where it is first crushed, then dissolved in boiling water,
the insoluble matter precipitated, the solution containing the nitre
being allowed to crystallise, and the product after being roughly dried
is exported in bags. Curious remains of birds and animals and human
beings are frequently discovered in the “caliche” deposits, all well
preserved, and many of these specimens of the earlier fauna of the
country are found in the museum at Lima and elsewhere. The deposits of
“caliche” are of course limited, and there is great difference of
opinion as to when the beds will be exhausted. But some time ago the
Collector of Customs at Valparaiso estimated that thirty-five million
metric tons remain at present in private properties--and about thirty
million metric tons in the Government properties--and, in his opinion,
by 1923 the remaining deposits upon private properties will have been
exhausted, whilst the Government properties may last fifteen years
longer. Although the Government receive a large revenue from the sale of
their stock of this valuable deposit, by the time it is exhausted other
sources of wealth will have been developed, for the agricultural
possibilities are practically unlimited. Chili also possesses the
largest guano deposits in the world, and here is another source of
wealth. The material, which consists of the droppings of pelicans, is
the most valuable manure known. It is found along the hills that lie
near the seashore, and helps to give those weird effects of dirty snow
lying on brown earth. Precisely when its use was first discovered is not
known, but there is evidence to show that its value was understood by
the subjects of the Incas, and it helped to give them that expertness in
agriculture which so astonished the Spaniards in the sixteenth century.
Humboldt introduced it into Europe early in the nineteenth century, and
since then its employment has increased among farmers everywhere, and
has been greatly fostered by the improvements which chemists and
inventors have brought about in the methods of preparing it for use.
Unlike nitrates, there is little possibility of the supplies of this
fertiliser ever becoming exhausted.



CHAPTER XV

_Argentina_


To countless people South America is little or nothing more than a
geographical expression, and to such the Argentine Republic is the
representative State, typical of all the rest. There could be no greater
error, for the natives of the great southern continent are sharply
differentiated, alike in many traits of character, the vocations which
they pursue, and the physiography of the territory which they inhabit.
There are, it is true, certain ties between them all; they all boast a
common ancestry in the Iberian Peninsula, and they are also united by a
common religion, and, to a lesser extent, a common language. Still, the
uninitiated person does not go so very far wrong in supposing that the
Argentine dwarfs all its neighbours. It would be a veritable Triton
among the minnows were it not for the juxtaposition of Brazil, which
vastly exceeds it in the matter of size, if not in prosperity. The
rivalry between the two countries is of long standing, but even
Brazilians have to reluctantly admit that their neighbours are easily
first both in the development of their resources and the extent of their
commerce. There is yet another factor which gives the Argentina
pre-eminence. In its capital, Buenos Ayres, it has the largest city
south of the Equator, and, next to Paris, the largest Latin city in the
world. The noise of its fame has reached the ears of thousands of people
to whom Rio de Janeiro and Lima are mere abstractions. Nor is that
predominant fame undeserved. Buenos Ayres is a mighty place of
habitation boasting avenues and architecture which would grace any city
in the Old World. The progress has been almost incredibly rapid. From an
ill-paved, wretched settlement on the flat banks of the muddy River
Plate, a splendid city has arisen. There is no “Colonial” atmosphere
about it; it has instead all the impress of a European city, and in
this respect it stands apart from every other town in South America.

The traveller who approaches Buenos Ayres, after having seen Rio and
Montevideo, will probably experience a little disappointment, when he
first catches sight of the city, for its fame far transcends its
appearance when viewed from the deck of an incoming steamer. The journey
up the muddy river is uninteresting, and, but for the buoys that mark
the fourteen miles of dredged channel, has no features to distinguish it
from the English Channel on a calm day. At night, when lit up by its
innumerable lights, the city presents a more imposing spectacle from the
river, for the vast area that it covers is then apparent. In the daytime
the low-lying metropolis is relieved by only a few outstanding
buildings, the lemon-shaped dome of the Congress Buildings being the
most conspicuous. Its straight streets are set at right angles, and
through the centre of the city runs the magnificent Avenida de Mayo,
lined with magnificent buildings of many styles, shaded by tall trees,
and at night brilliantly lighted by electric standards. It is in the
“Avenida” that you receive the best impression of the city’s importance.
Stand at any point of this great boulevard, your mind receives the
impression that you have reached the centre of a State which has in a
remarkably short space of time risen to be one of the most important
countries of the New World.

But the majority of the streets of this vast city are still the long,
narrow lanes which the early designers laid out, and they offer dreary
vistas of interminable length. Although most of the buildings that line
them are new and stately, and have fronts which betoken the wealth of
the builders, they are rather ostentatious, and become wearying after a
short time. But there are many notable buildings in the city which are
worthy of the city’s importance. The Government buildings in the Plaza
de Mayo, the Houses of Congress, the numerous hotels, the Cathedral, the
Bolsu, and the sumptuous quarters of the Jockey Club compare favourably
with similar institutions in other parts of the world. Moreover, the
homes of the wealthy landowners, merchants, are veritable palaces,
sumptuously furnished, and even persons of lesser estate reside in
houses of great beauty and luxury. Clubs are plentiful, and provide for
the various nationalities who form colonies in the city. When one
considers the fact

[Illustration]

that the city has a population of about one million, which is about a
fifth of the entire population of the country, it is not surprising to
find that there are many places of entertainment, which are run upon
similar lines to those in Paris, London, and New York. Companies from
Europe tour South America, and Rio, Buenos Ayres, Valparaiso are
favoured with the best talent the world possesses. The opera house at
Buenos Ayres is quite a sight on gala nights, and the toilets of the
beauties of fashion are not less extravagant or tasteful than those of
the fairest Parisiennes. The women of Argentina are famous for their
beauty, and although they begin at an early age to put on flesh, they
long retain their good complexions and love of showy dress. The men are
not far behind the womenfolk in their love of display, good looks, and
luxuriant habits, although of late there is a disposition among the
younger men to go in for the sports and pastimes generally associated
with Englishmen and Americans. The Jockey Club owns and runs the
racecourse, and its enormous wealth is derived largely from that
institution. Horses and motor-cars are the passions of the rich, as the
long line of automobiles of latest types that line the boulevard outside
the racecourse testify. There are many horses on the streets of the city
that must arrest the attention of the visitors, not on account of their
beauty, but of their sorry appearance. The cab horses in particular are
badly treated by their drivers, and it is one of the stains upon this
city, that has in so many respects emulated the ways of northern
capitals, that its authorities allow the brutes who ill use the poor
beasts to go unpunished. So far as its maritime situation is concerned,
Buenos Ayres is not very fortunate, for the channel of the estuary being
so shallow has, notwithstanding the many improvements that have been
made in the docks of recent years, forced much of the shipping to other
ports more accessible. Rosario has been growing in importance as a grain
exporting town, and being well placed in the Parana, large vessels can
go alongside and load much of the grain grown in the fertile province of
Santa Fé. Bahia Blanca has even a greater importance, and is growing so
rapidly that it has not inaptly been called the “Liverpool of the
South.” Magnificent graving docks have been built, as well as harbour
works, and the Government, recognising the strategical value of its
position on the Atlantic, have made it a military and naval depot.

The growth of Rosario and Bahia Blanca is a good thing for the country,
for it helps to counteract the tendency towards concentration in the
capital, which is about the only real menace to the republic’s continued
and increased prosperity. La Plata, the other port which lies about
fifteen miles farther down the estuary of the Plate than the capital,
has proved a dismal failure. Much money has been wasted in the attempt
to make a port for the capital at this spot; but, in spite of its wide
streets and imposing buildings, the city has a neglected, desolate
aspect, few persons cross its grass-grown streets, and the whole place
is a good instance of the Nemesis which overtakes extravagant hopes. The
projectors of the city showed a singular lack of foresight in imagining
that there was need for another grand city within such easy distance of
the capital. The museum at La Plata is a magnificent building, with much
to interest the anthropologist, but it proves rather gruesome to the
average visitor, who is rather appalled by the enormous collection of
skulls and skeletons of American Indians that occupies many rooms and
hundreds of cases.

[Illustration: THE LEMON-SHAPED DOME OF THE CAPITAL.]

La Plata has its parks with muddy little ponds and lakes, gardens with
beautiful trees, an avenue of giant eucalyptus trees, and its zoological
gardens, with a few specimens, that give signs of life that the city
could ill spare.

With the exception of Belgrano and Palermo, which are filled with
superbly appointed mansions, the suburbs of Buenos Ayres are depressing
and sordid. As the town fades into the camp, the houses become poorer
and poorer, streets are like quagmires, and old tin cans are utilised
for building the shacks occupied by the squalid poor, for, like all
great cities, Buenos Ayres has them in great abundance, a mixed lot of
the unfit of European and native races.

But the cities are only the small part of Argentina. They are the
exchanges rather than the creators of its wealth, a wealth which lies in
the far-spreading Pampas, which form the natural feature of the
republic. Much has been written upon them, and nearly everyone who has
undertaken the task has set on record their two salient characteristics,
their apparent limitlessness and their deadly monotony. The first hour’s
journey on any of the railways that run from Buenos Ayres is over an
unbroken, expansive sea of green, the second hour is the same, and if
you go travelling on until sundown, the same landscape will meet the
eye. With certain necessary variations, Swinburne’s lines on the North
Sea might be applied to the Pampas of the Argentine:

    “Miles and miles, and miles of desolation!
     Leagues on leagues on leagues without a change!
     Sign or token of some oldest nation,
     Here would make the strange land not so strange”;

or, as another poet has phrased it, the vast prairie seems:

 “Almost as limitless as the unbounded sea, but without its changing smile.”

But the dweller in cities will not be depressed by this changelessness
of landscape. He will rather welcome the escape from the congested
haunts of man, drinking in with gusto the fresh clean air that has blown
over countless leagues of grassland, and revel in the sense of liberty
which comes when one stands in the great open spaces and vast solitudes
of nature. If the unending sweep of green and the herds of innumerable
cattle become oppressive, the eye can seek relief in following flights
of hawks and other birds, or in searching for a clump

[Illustration: DESOLATION.]

of stunted trees, or the round head of a wind-pump, the sweep of a small
stream, the occasional hut of a shepherd, or the more imposing
“estancia,” as the Argentina farmhouse is called. Cattle, horses, and
sheep are never long out of the line of a traveller’s vision, and with
them the herdsmen of the plains, the “gauchos.” Although the Pampas form
so large a part of the territory, they do not occupy it all, for the
country is so long that it boasts all sorts of climates, from the
tropical to the arctic. To the north subtropical forests abound; to the
west the plains fade away into the mighty Andes, which tower 23,000 feet
towards the sky; while to the south lie the bleak hills and arid plains
of Patagonia. Cattle-raising, horse-breeding, wheat-growing, and meal
preparation, although the staple industries of the Argentine, do not
exhaust the list. Mendoza, situated at a point where the Pampas merge
into the foot-hills of the Andes, is celebrated for its vineyards.
Poplar trees give shelter from the cold mountain winds, and the scene
might almost be laid in the Rhone valley. Woods, streams, and lakes give
a diversity which is welcome to the traveller who comes from across the
plains. Mendoza has plenty of wide streets and low one-story houses.
Shady trees line the roads, and streams of water run down the gutters
all day long. In the hot dusty weather an army of boys and men, equipped
with buckets attached to long poles, sprinkle the streets with water
from the runnels. Little bridges of planks are formed across the
gutters where they are too wide to step across. In the dark and smoky
interiors of the workmen’s cafés and wineshops merry little groups of
bronzed and grizzly bearded peons sit round heavy, old-fashioned tables,
sipping wine out of great flagons, smoking big black cigars, gambling,
and playing cards. Women, with jet-black eyes, and mantillas, move
leisurely about the streets, seeking always the shady side, or sit upon
stiff wooden chairs placed outside the entrances to their homes, plying
their fans vigorously to keep themselves cool, and the flies from
settling. The town is laid out with rigid symmetry; the streets are wide
and straight, as if drawn with a ruler, and cross one another at right
angles. New buildings have sprung up in the principal street, which lies
at the lower end of the town, and all the architectural fads and fancies
of recent years are represented. Buenos Ayres has set the fashion for
all the newer and progressive towns and cities in the republic, and an
effort is made in Mendoza to emulate the outside cafés that crowd upon
the pavements of the Avenida in the capital. Round the tables, under the
awnings, a crowd of the youth of the city congregate before breakfast
and dinner, and all the latest styles in clothes are to be seen, and the
very latest gossip heard. The Grand Hotel, which occupies a large
portion of one side of the Plaza, is an old-fashioned but very
comfortable caravansary with flowery patios and lofty rooms, and a fore
court in front, which is used as an open-air dining space. As rain
seldom, if ever, falls upon this town, it is always safe to take a seat
and a meal in this pleasant spot. The popularity of the courtyard is
contributed to in the evenings by the cinema pictures which are thrown
on to a screen stretched on one side. Crowds gather round the tables to
witness the free show, and visitors have opportunities of mixing with
the better class inhabitants. The evenings are very hot during the
summer months, but the days are stifling. Dust is wafted about in great
clouds, and adds to the general discomfort of the sweltering heat, and
the noonday siesta is the only refuge for those fortunate enough to
indulge in this custom of the country. A public park has recently been
laid out on the rising ground on the outskirts of the town. The
fertility of the soil, assisted by artificial irrigation, has produced a
fine shady spot, surrounded by rich green foliage. Firs, poplars, palms,
and smaller plants of many varieties flourish on this beautiful

[Illustration: LANDSCAPE NEAR MENDOZA.]

site. The great Cordillera forms a background of surpassing beauty to
these gardens, as well as an almost impregnable barrier between the
republics of Argentine and Chili. In a corner of the park, which is
dotted with pools of muddy water, meant for lakes, there is a small
collection of animals and birds, hardly large enough to be called a
“Zoo.” The best specimens it possesses are the giant condors, which are
found upon the surrounding heights of the Andes. These great birds are
formidable enemies to travellers on the hills, and many stories are told
of their prowess. That they attack sheep and even men can readily be
credited, for their outstretched wings frequently measure from eight to
ten feet across, while their beaks and talons are equally strong and
powerful. A flock of these aerial monsters, sailing near a narrow
mountain pass, would scare the nerves of any traveller, for an encounter
with them on the edge of a precipice is rather a one-sided affair, in
which the odds are all in favour of the birds. The other exhibits in the
gardens are mostly native fauna, and there is plenty of room for future
extensions. The vineyards round the town and in the surrounding
districts are shaded by tall poplar trees, and irrigated by small
canals, for nature is all

[Illustration: THE BRIDGE OF THE INCA.]

too sparing of the “gentle rain” in this sunny region. The water for
these canals is derived from mountain streams, formed by the melted
snow, and there is no limit to quantities available. The dry air of
Mendoza and the altitude (it is 2700 feet above sea-level) render it a
most desirable place of residence for persons troubled with pulmonary
complaints, and the perpetual sunshine which covers the landscape makes
for cheerfulness, in spite of the heat. The wine of this district is
much appreciated locally, although the bulk of it finds its market in
the provinces of Buenos Ayres and Santa Fé. The best qualities are
really good, although they might not tempt the connoisseur accustomed to
the wines of France to forsake his vintage. Mendoza is an important
station on the Trans-Andean Railway route, and many passengers from
Buenos Ayres to Valparaiso find it a pleasant resting-place on the long
and trying journey. After nearly twenty-four hours in the train which
crosses the monotonous plains, a day’s or a night’s rest at Mendoza acts
as a pick-me-up of which delicate people should always avail themselves.
Although the railway across or through the summit of the Andes is now
completed, and is available for passengers nearly the whole year round,
the summer months from November to April are the best for making this
trip. Until quite recently the seven-hour journey by coach or muleback,
from Las Cuevas to Salado, deterred many from making the journey, but
now that the trains run backwards and forwards through the tunnel at the
summit, no one considers the journey

[Illustration: CROSSING THE HILLS.]

in the light of an undertaking. The scenery is grand. Majestic and
rugged mountain tops covered with dazzling white snow lie round on all
sides, and as the train winds round the slopes, over valleys and
ravines, an endless succession of strange rocky forms are passed. Just
before coming to Las Cuevas the train stops at a little station, where
there is a small hotel patronised by mountaineers and excursionists who
desire to spend a day or two among the rugged peaks. It is nearly nine
thousand feet above sea-level, and quite near to the railway track--a
curious compact mass of stones and gravel forms a natural bridge over a
small river. This bridge gives its name to the station--Punta del Inca.
Many passages in the journey are awe-inspiring, and as the route follows
that taken by San Martin on his famous march into Chili a good idea can
be formed of the difficult nature of his undertaking. Great brown hills,
destitute of vegetation, rocky and sandy, predominate. Immense boulders,
which threaten to fall at any moment, hang menacingly over the track,
which is protected in many places by stout iron sheds. Fallen boulders
and rocks brought down by storms and the melting snows lie scattered in
wild disorder over the valleys. The scenes are full of a melancholy
which even the bright sunlight reflected from the snowy peaks cannot
dispel. The distant peak of Aconcagua rising to the enormous height of
nearly twenty-three thousand feet, comes into view from time to time as
the train winds around its tortuous course. At the highest points
reached by the line many of the passengers suffer from the “mountain
sickness,” but only a few resolve to brave the “Straits” in future
rather than repeat the Andean journey. At Soldado, the frontier station,
the customs examine the baggage, and at Los Andes carriages are
changed, and the journey down to Santiago and Valparaiso, through richly
wooded slopes, is accomplished in about four hours. The traffic between
Chili and Argentina is steadily increasing, and the establishment of the
Trans-Andean Railway has done much to bring about a more intimate
friendship between the two nations.

[Illustration: A GLIMPSE OF ACONCAGUA.]

The history of the Argentine nation has followed similar lines to those
of its sister republics. The conquest by the Spaniards was followed by a
long colonial period, which came to an end when the people, after a
desperate struggle, won their independence. Since then it has had its
wars with neighbouring States, and, like all the rest of the republics,
innumerable internecine quarrels. But of late years more peaceful
counsels have prevailed, and the settlement of the boundary dispute with
Chili, through the more sensible medium of arbitration, is a good augury
for the future. Out of the war for independence a great and commanding
personality emerges. General San Martin might almost be called the
Brutus of South America--the noblest of them all. The Argentines
recognise this, and have expressed their admiration and gratitude by
erecting a statue to him in the public square of every town in the
country, an act which though admirable is apt to bore the traveller.
Brave, patriotic, able in warfare, and unselfish are the qualities which
can be ascribed in all fairness to San Martin. In many respects he may
be overshadowed by Bolivar, but he had none of the latter’s weakness,
none of his faults or crimes. His sole aim was to drive the oppressor
out of his native land, and he not only succeeded in doing this, but
also materially assisted in breaking the power of Spain in Chili and
Peru. When his great task was accomplished he retired quietly from the
scene of conflict, disdaining to compete for power with self-seeking,
unscrupulous politicians. His was a mind utterly incapable of intrigue,
so he was content to leave the wily Bolivar to his desperate devices and
his colossal dreams of empire.

[Illustration: TRAVELLERS BY A RIVER-SIDE.]



CHAPTER XVI

_The Camp_


To a European the farms of South America offer such contrasts to those
he is familiar with in his own country that he finds it difficult to
become accustomed to the immense areas of treeless plains that
constitute the estancias of the New World. Everything is on a large
scale there. A vast territory, now gently rolling like a heaving sea,
now flat as an unruffled lake, with few objects to break the eternal
straightness of the distant horizon. The atmosphere and the many
illusions it creates offer the greatest variety, however, and as day
succeeds day with ceaseless regularity ever changing effects of light
and colour diversify the aspect of the landscape. The roads through
these unbounded plains are wide-extended tracks, fenced in from the
private pastures of the estancias, going generally straight for scores
of miles. Driving along these tracks behind four horses in a light
covered trap the stranger’s ear is open to receive the softest sound,
and eyes to note the slightest variations presented. The silence is
broken by the fluttering flight of parrots, pigeons, and small brown
owls disturbed from their solemn doze by the approaching team, moving on
from perch to perch, always settling ahead to be disturbed again. The
lowing of the cattle, the swift stampede of groups of wild horses, and
the vast hum of insects break faintly upon the ear. Along the track and
in the adjacent fields the whitening bones of animals stare out from the
rich verdure that has not quite enwrapped them. These pathetic reminders
of the fate that overtakes many of the herd are very plentiful, for
whenever an animal dies in the camp, the skin only is removed by the
gaucho or cowboy, who comes across it in his daily round, and the
carcase is left for the hawks and other carrion-eaters, who lose no time
in stripping it of flesh, time and the elements slowly completing the
dissolution, and eventually removing the last vestiges of the animal’s
existence.

[Illustration: CHASING RHEAS.]

From the beginning to the end of a journey tall rheas flit across the
scene. These birds, the ostriches of South America, abound in many
districts. They formerly had a geographical range extending from
Southern Brazil and Uruguay to as far south as the Rio Negro in distant
Patagonia. But the incursions of man, who slew thousands of them for
their feathers, have cleared the more cultivated districts, and now they
are mostly found on the camps of Uruguay, and the provinces of
Corrientes and Missiones, and Paraguay. The _Rhea americana_ resembles
its distant relative in South Africa in general appearance, but differs
widely when inspected closely. It boasts three toes, and thus goes one
better than the ostrich. It is true its plumage cannot compete with that
of the latter bird, for it lacks the beautiful curly wing and tail
feathers. This is perhaps an advantage to the bird, although a loss to
the country. The feathers of the head and neck are a dingy white, those
on the crown of the head are of a brownish hue, while the under feathers
of the belly and thigh are white, the body feathers being a grey-brown
colour. These feathers can only serve the useful purpose of making
brushes, and have no claims to be promoted to the high office of
adorning ladies’ bonnets. The rhea is a polygamous bird, and the male so
thoroughly domesticated that he performs the duty of hatching out the
eggs of several of his wives. Their nests of dried grass are easily
found, for they have no protection save the long grass that grows around
them. On the approach of danger the parent birds sitting upon the nests
rise and take to flight, running with rapid strides and outstretched
wings, and soon are lost to sight in the airy distance of the plains. On
most of the camps the chasing of the birds is forbidden, although
instructions are given to destroy their eggs. The race between bird and
mounted pursuer disturbs the herds, and does more harm to the live stock
than would be compensated for by the feathers that may be plucked. On
some native estancias the practice obtains of leasing out the right to
capture the birds and pluck them. This is accomplished by throwing three
heavy balls attached to the end of a long line round the legs of the
running birds. The horseman chases the bird, and swinging the balls
round, lets fly with the captive shots, which, if the aim is true, wind
the rope round the victim’s legs and quickly bring him to earth. The
desired feathers are plucked, and the denuded bird allowed to escape. It
is no uncommon thing, however, to see a few gauchos for pure sport
surreptitiously chasing these birds. The excitement of the chase appeals
to men who live in the saddle, and who love to show off the fleetness of
their steeds, and even a chance spectator who witnesses the wild rush of
bird and horse across country cannot help catching some of the
enthusiasm, and strains his vision to its utmost to witness the finish
of a race. There is no shelter for the bird, no way of escaping the
unwelcome attentions of his pursuer except by sheer fleetness and
endurance. The illimitable camp stretches around for hundreds of miles,
and the essential qualities of bird and horse have a fair field and no
favour. The rhea is a sociable bird, and is generally found in untrodden
regions of the continent, grazing with the llamas and wild cattle in
close proximity to or on the estancias that are under man’s control,
along with the great herds of sheep and cattle. In this he is like the
ostrich, who accepts the companionship of the antelope and zebra of his
native land. There is plenty of room on the great plains for all, and
they live at peace with neighbours who offer no competition in the
struggle for existence. Another curiosity of the camp is the little
“armadillo.” It is true one has to search for them, for they are
nocturnal in their habits, and not often encountered in the daytime.
They are well protected with a hard, strong shell which covers their
backs, and when in danger they can move very quickly on their short,
strong legs, or can bury themselves underground until the danger that
threatens them is past. Night is the best time to catch them, and dogs
are used in the pursuit. The armadillo is found all over South America,
and in the lone caves of Brazil the fossil remains of gigantic ancestors
of this creature as large as the rhino of Africa have frequently been
discovered. The armadillos generally feed on roots, worms, and insects,
and they assist the hawks and other carrion-eaters to dispose of the
putrefying carcases of cattle, sheep, and horses that strew the camp.
The flesh of this armour-plated animal is eaten, and is considered a
delicacy by the natives all over the country from north to south. It is
generally roasted or smoked in its shell, and the Indians of the Guiana
will gorge themselves upon this dish whenever they have an opportunity.

The great distances that separate many of the estancias from the
stations or ports give employment to thousands of horses, and the usual
method of travelling is either by riding or driving in light covered
carts drawn by four horses. If the journey is very long, eight horses
are taken, half of them drawing the carriage, the other half being
driven on in front, and harnessed at some half-way point, an estancia or
“pulperia,” where the first team is released and allowed to rest until
the return of the conveyance from its destination. These pulperia or
native stores are very primitive affairs. A few sticks mud-plastered
form the walls, mother earth the floor, while reeds and grasses thatch
the roof. When the traveller arrives at one of these he generally finds
a few horses, with fore feet hobbled, dozing under the shade cast by a
few trees that are planted round the huts, swishing their tails to keep
away the flies. Inside the hut or store two or three gauchos squat on
boxes, bags, or barrels, and in the intervals of drinking their native
spirit, “bolichi” (a fiery, untamed brand), chat with the “bolichero” or
publican. The talk is all of the

[Illustration: A “PULPERIA.”]

camp, for the outside world of civilisation is only a name to them, and
the echoes of its doings fall but faintly upon their ears. Horses,
cattle, the doings of the neighbouring estancias are discussed with the
dark-bearded host, who is the newsvendor to the country-side. Shepherds
from far outlying “puestos,” who live in solitary isolation from even
the other gauchos of the estancias, find their visits to these wayside
inns the principal excitement of their lives. Long journeys of scores of
miles, that would be an expedition to an English horseman, are nothing
to them. They are as much at home and at their ease in their great
saddles, as a club man is in a smoking-room chair, and they can sleep in
them as easily as in their beds. The gaucho and his horse are one,
inseparable, and if the animal is his own and not one belonging to the
estancia, he takes extravagant care of it. With his poncho to keep off
the rain, his cigar or cigarette, his “maté” to make his tea in, the
gaucho is equipped for any emergency. In some of the “pulperias” there
are small billiard tables, not too level; for they rest upon the soft
earthen floor, and when not in play are often as not used for seats by
the gossips who may happen to forgather. Primitive, yet affording much
of the luxury the gaucho finds in his hard life, here also he can
replenish his wardrobe and his larder, for belts, knives, “alpagatos”
(shoes with rope soles and canvas tops), ponchos, hang all round, and in
sacks upon the ground manioca or meal lies ready for a purchaser. The
goods retailed are of the cheapest description, most of them of German
origin, and especially made to suit the gauchos’ requirements. Primitive
ideas obtain amongst these people, and many superstitions too. In one of
these “pulperias” I noticed a small pup of only a few days old, lying
upon the floor whining piteously for its mother; and on my noticing it,
the bolichero explained that it was in transit to a native woman who was
suffering from a too liberal secretion of milk. The dress of the gauchos
of Uruguay and in the northern provinces of Argentina is strongly
reminiscent of the quaint costumes worn by the old-fashioned residents
in the island of Marken in the Zuyder Zee. The great baggy trousers
called “bombachos” are the feature of the dress common to both, and are
so distinctive that one wonders if there can be any connection between
them. At all events, they are well suited for riding in a hot climate,
for they permit the air to circulate freely about the nether limbs.
Apart from the bombachos, the dress of the gaucho has but little in
common with the old-time Dutchman, unless it be the tight waistcoats and
close-fitting sleeves of the shirts affected by many of them.

They are fond of a touch of colour, however, and although the material
out of which their bombachos are made is generally of natural tints,
their socks will vie with the most glaring necktie of a Brazilian
gentleman. Emerald-green, sky-blue, chrome-yellow, and scarlet-vermilion
fresh placed upon a palette are not more striking, and all these are
generally selected to enhance

[Illustration: MORNING: GOING TO WORK.]

the beauty of their ponchos. The poncho is an overall, a gigantic
fore-and-aft bib, sleeveless, but an admirable protection from the heat
and rain. Hanging loosely from the shoulders, it covers the arms in its
ample folds, and, like the “bombachos,” allows the air to blow round the
heated body. This narrow sheet, with a slit in the middle, is found all
over South America and in Mexico, and it has many advantages to
recommend it over a sleeved garment. In Chili and Peru the better ones
are made out of the llama wool, so fine and hard that they are almost
impervious to rain, while their lightness is such that their weight is
hardly felt. A good poncho in Chili or Peru often costs as much as £20,
but those worn by the gauchos of Argentine and Uruguay are quite cheap
and tawdry in comparison. The gaucho takes a great pride in the
accoutrements of his horse, and he spends considerable time and pains to
have his best Sunday or holiday saddle and bridle replete with a
collection of old Spanish coins nailed on to the leather wherever
opportunity offers. Brilliant red plush or dyed sheepskin is placed over
the saddle, and when he is mounted wearing his best “poncho” and
“bombachos,” and broad sombrero hat, he cuts a brave figure to go
courting. On the camp his life is one of simple monotony, one continuous
round of hard riding and attending to the cattle, searching the herds
for sickness or rounding them up into “rodeo” to separate those that are
ready for the journey to the “saladero,” “frigorifico,” or meat factory,
branding the young cattle with the mark of the estancia, either by
slitting their ears or puncturing them, or with the hot iron burning in
a distinctive number upon the haunch. He rises at daylight, generally
about five o’clock, and in the common, soot-stained kitchen--the
“cocina” cuts a great hunk of roasted beef, takes a small handful of
farina, and washes this down with draughts of yerba sucked through the
“bombilla” (a little tube of metal

[Illustration: EVENING.]

with a bulbous strainer) from the little scooped-out gourd or maté which
he always carries with him. Then his day’s work begins. After harnessing
his horse, he mounts and separates from his companions, each of whom
takes a different direction--riding out to the particular paddock
allotted to his care. In his long, lonely patrol he keeps his eye ever
on the alert to discover any sick or dead animals that may be lying in
the long grass. His keen and practised eye watches the flight of the
carrion-birds, and when he sees these greedy scavengers gathering
together he knows their quarry is not far off. With these to guide him,
he searches till he finds the carcase, which he carefully inspects to
ascertain the cause of death. If it is of a malignant nature, he gathers
together dried grass and scrub with branches of trees, which he often
has to go miles to discover, and placing them round the carcase, sets
fire to it, to prevent infection from spreading to the herds. If the
cause of death is not of this nature he quickly removes the hide, ties
it upon his saddle, and continues on his round of inspection. It is six
or seven hours before he returns to the estancia, where he pegs out the
hides he has brought with him before sitting down to his “almuerzo,” or
midday meal. This eleven o’clock repast varies slightly from the one he
partook of in the early morning, consisting as it does of “puchero,” or
boiled meat instead of roasted. The meal finished, there are duties
about the steading to be seen to, and in the heat of the day the siesta
to be indulged in. At three o’clock he has another meal, consisting of
maté alone, before going out again to the camp; and on his return at
seven in the evening he talks over the details of the day’s doings with
his fellows over another meal of the boiled beef, “maté,” and farina.
After a smoke, a little music from a banjo or guitar played with an
untutored skill by one of the party, they seek their beds--simple
pallets of canvas stretched between collapsible trestles, something like
exaggerated camp-stools. Next day the same round of duties awaits him,
except for the variations that arise at special seasons when
sheep-shearing, cattle-branding, calf-gelding, horse-breaking are going
forward. Large numbers of horses run and breed practically in a wild
state upon the estancias, and the task of breaking them in falls to the
gauchos. This is an art and a pastime that they revel in, and as they
are paid extra for every colt that they render fit for riding, there is
no dearth of volunteers for this necessary part of the estancia work. A
herd of horses is driven up by a bunch of horsemen into a corral. The
colt or filly to be broken is singled out and lassoed by one of the men,
who drags it out into the open. More lassoes are fastened round the fore
and hind legs, and the animal is brought to earth. After a raw-hide bit
is fastened round its lower jaw, the frightened creature is allowed to
regain a standing position, and is hitched up to a post. One man covers
its eyes, whilst a great bundle of soft sheepskins is being fastened
securely on its back. All this time the fore legs are kept firmly tied
together. When all is ready, the man who is to break it in grasps the
raw-hide bridle, and jumps lightly on its back. Then the struggle
between man and brute commences in grim earnest. With a powerful whip
the man belabours the struggling steed, and with a horseman riding on
either side to guide the wild beast, the trio gallop off across the
plain at a break-neck pace. Before this mad race is started, the untamed
one struggles and bucks to rid himself of the unnatural encumbrance. He
rolls on the

[Illustration: PEGGING OUT HIDES.]

ground, lowers his head, and throws his unshod heels high into the air,
and then finding that all his efforts are vain, he tears off in a wild
fury, hoping to get relief. The race continues until the brute’s
strength weakens, and he is turned by the accompanying riders, for he
does not yet understand, nor if he could, would he yield to the guidance
of the bridle. When the trio return to the “corral,” where a crowd of
gauchos have stood witnessing the fun, the exhausted animal is relieved
of man, saddle, and bridle, and is turned loose amongst his fellows in
the corral. Then they are all set at liberty to roam the paddock till
the next day, when the operation is repeated. It takes many lessons to
break in a horse, and the sudden change from the completest freedom to
the fastest bondage is no doubt very irksome to the animal. After about
three or four weeks of training, however, the horse’s lesson is learnt,
and the man’s reward is earned. There still exists on some estancias the
primitive custom of branding the cattle in almost as rough a fashion as
the breaking in of the horses. The herds are rounded up by the horseman
into a great bunch, called a rodeo. The unbranded are lassoed by the
head and horns, and dragged out of the bellowing crowd. Another lasso is
thrown and captures the hind legs, and the animal, then completely
overcome, is thrown on its side and the branding iron applied. In modern
camps an easier method is employed. The cattle are “corralled” and
driven through a long spar-railed passage in which gates are arranged
for the purpose of dividing the cattle into different groups, so that as
the animals move along, and one is required to go one way, a gate is
opened, allowing it to pass out, the gate closing behind it, and leaving
the passage free for the next to move into another division if desired.
The branding is performed in this passage. One man grasps the animal’s
tail and pulls it through the open fence of the “race” or passage,
whilst another catches the horns and holds the head firmly against the
opposite side. If the brand is to be applied to the rump, the position
is in every way favourable for performing that operation; should the
brand of the estancia be an ear-mark, the head is in an equally
advantageous position.

Branding is a very necessary precaution against cattle-stealing. When an
“estanciero” parts with his cattle, he duplicates the brand and the new
owner applies his, so that the animal has three brands upon it. This
prevents stealing, for if an animal has only one brand of its original
owner, it is obvious to the authorities that it has not been
legitimately acquired. A brand in duplicate upon an animal is evidence
that it is no longer in the possession of the owner of that brand.
Should he, however, repurchase one of his former stock, it will have
four brands upon it, the two original ones and the two added by the last
owner. Transactions, however, of this kind are not of frequent
occurrence. Ear-marking is a form of branding that in some instances
looks very unsightly, as, for instance, when both ears are slit down,
giving the animal the appearance of having four ears.

[Illustration: AN “ESTANCIA.”]

The sheep and cattle dips which are necessary to rid the herds of ticks
and other insects, form landmarks on the camps, as do the iron-frame
windmills which pump up the water for the stock. There has been much
discussion recently as to what is the coat of arms of the Argentine
Republic, and this nice question in heraldry has not yet been settled.
To a stranger the matter seems simple enough, for nothing could be more
suitable than a windmill revolving against an azure sky, or a herd
romping on a “field vert.”

The “corrals” and runs upon the estancia are used for many purposes,
such as dividing the old from the young, the bulls and heifers from the
cows, the animals that are to be sold from their brothers and sisters
that are not yet ready for disposal. Other “runs” are used for dipping
purposes. In these the floor of the “runs” gradually descends into a
long trough through which the animals have to swim, their heads being
pushed under by men armed with long poles, who are stationed on the
fences at either side. Sheep are handled in the same way. The dipping
corrals are situated on different parts of the estancia in selected
positions, and when these are at a long distance from the farmhouse the
men, when employed there, cook their meals of great lumps of beef over a
blaze of crackling sticks. The meat is hooked on to a long iron bar
which is stuck upright in the ground, and the savoury smell of the
roasting, crackling meat fills the air. When it is ready the spit is
removed from the fire and stuck in the ground a little distance off, and
the men gather round, and with their knives hack off great chunks
weighing three or four pounds, and set to with the meat in one hand and
the knife in the other, satisfying their healthy appetites. There is
great waste at all these meals; the joint is not nearly consumed, and
what is left is thrown into the long grass or into the dying embers of
the fire. A kettle is always carried by one or other of the men to make
the “maté” tea which washes down every meal. Yerba has a great
reputation, and is largely consumed all over the southern parts of
Brazil, Uruguay, and the Argentine, and even further south. To Europeans
it is generally known by the name of Paraguayan tea, for, although it
grows in Brazil, Corrientes, and the Chaco, its real home is in
Paraguay, where it flourishes in great abundance, and its cultivation
and collection form one of the principal industries. It is simply the
dried leaves of a shrub that very much resembles the common holly bush.
It has been in use by the Indians for centuries, although it was due to
the untiring agricultural efforts of the Jesuits that its cultivation
was first introduced. The plantations they made in Paraguay, Missiones,
and Rio Grande de Sul are still to the fore, and from these cultivated
shrubs the best tea is obtained even at the present time, and it
sometimes goes by the name of “Jesuits’” or “Missiones tea.”

The collecting and preparation of the leaves of this shrub are generally
performed by the Guarani Indians of the surrounding districts. The
old-fashioned and native method of preparing the maté or yerba is quite
primitive. A group of semi-nomadic Indians will search for a “Yerbula”
or natural

[Illustration: GAUCHO PREPARING A MEAL.]

wood where the supply is plentiful, and after forming a small camp of
brush huts, proceed to collect and prepare the leaves for market. They
clear a space of ground which they beat hard until it resembles a dark
cemented floor, and upon this they pile the leafy branches of the tree.
A fire is lit around this, care being taken not to ignite the branches
and leaves, which undergo by this means a primitive process of roasting.
The dried leaves are then reduced to powder in rough mortars formed by
making holes in the ground, the surfaces of which are rammed hard by
wooden mallets. The dusty mass is then packed and conveyed to the river
banks, where it is shipped to a central market. A more improved method
of roasting or drying the maté is practised, however, in Paraguay, where
large iron pans are used for drying, and machinery is used for reducing
the leaves, from which the central rib of the leaf has been removed, to
a fine powder. The word maté, which is generally used to designate the
tea, applies really to the gourd in which it is brewed, and is an old
French word for “calabash.” It still is used in that sense, although
very generally applied to the tea. The consumption of maté or yerba[1]
throughout South America is very large, and is on the increase. It takes
the place of China tea, and is supposed to have many virtues which
neither tea nor coffee possesses. That it is sustaining there is every
reason to believe; that it has a less injurious effect than tea or
coffee on the system does not seem to be demonstrated; but the fact
remains that the people believe in it, and have acquired a taste for it,
which is largely contributed to by its cheapness. It is not agreeable to
the taste of a novice, and when the “maté” is handed to the visitor, it
is generally too hot for his unaccustomed palate. The addition of a
little sugar helps to render it more pleasing to some judgments, but the
gauchos on the camp do entirely without this addition. After a long
journey there is no doubt that “maté” acts as a wonderful restorative,
and the Governments of maté-producing States are endeavouring to bring
about its adoption in the armies of Continental Europe.

A few days spent in camp are full of interest, but a prolonged residence
is only for those who are either compelled by their occupation or held
by their interests or inclinations to remain upon the solemn prairies.
The utter loneliness would, without the occupations that pertain to the
animal and agricultural life, turn the brain of one whose life has grown
up amongst the life of cities, amidst the society of a variety of his
fellows. It is almost as lonely as the great oceans. The dweller upon
camps must of necessity be a student of the ever changing sky, of all
its moods from sad to gay, stern to smiling, threatening to promising, a
beauty ever various and full of an abstract fascination. At times clouds
of brown dust swirl up in great curling volumes,

[Illustration: A GAUCHO.]

to obscure and tone down the brilliant displays of sunset colour upon
the distant clouds. Even this phenomenon has an interest, and helps to
break the tiring sameness of the plains. The flights of the innumerable
feathered tribe against the sky--ducks, geese, pigeons, parrots, hawks,
plovers, storks, flamingoes, herons, scissor birds, and red birds an
infinite variety--help to divert the mind. It requires a long residence
on the plains and an unerring intuition for direction and locality, to
acquire a familiarity with all these forms of life. Landmarks that the
unpractised eye would overlook become live, bold and full of meaning to
a gaucho and his horse, who have been acquainted with their surroundings
from their birth.

[Illustration: THE LONELY CAMP.]



CHAPTER XVII

_A Live Industry_


The rapid strides of progress made by the Argentine Republic have been
accelerated by the increasing consumption in the United States of the
products of her own Western cattle lands. Every year, as the population
of the world increases, the heavy demands made upon cattle-producing
countries bring newer fields into use. From the middle of the nineteenth
until the beginning of the present century, the vast prairies of the
Western States produced more than enough meat to supply their own needs
and a large export canning business rapidly came into existence, whilst
even live cattle were sent yearly to England (the largest consumer) and
turned out to fatten on her rich pastures and meadow lands. But the
enormous growth of the packing business and the increased home
consumption in the States has put an end to the export of live stock or
even of frozen meat. This changed situation was Argentina’s golden
opportunity, and her entry into the world’s market was well described by
General Bartolomé Mitre,[2] who towards the end of the last century
wrote as follows:

“The natural pastures [of Argentina] allured the inhabitants towards the
pastoral industry. Its vast littoral placed it in contact with the rest
of the world by means of fluvial and maritime navigation. Its healthy
and mild climate made life more enjoyable and labour more productive.
Thus it was a country prepared for live stock breeding, appointed to
prosper through commerce, and predestined to be stocked by the
acclimatisation of all the breeds of the earth. So it is seen that the
occupation of the soil began to be carried out by means of the cattle
brought overland from Peru and Brazil, that the commercial activities
of the interior are converging little by little towards the River Plate,
abundance and prosperity are diffused by this means, and that the first
foreign operation of the colonists after the foundation of Buenos Aires
in 1580, was the exportation of a cargo of produce of their own labour
(hides and tallow) that led up to the import business and induced
immigration.”

The author of these words saw the sound basis upon which future
developments and progress might be securely founded, for the natural
advantages of the country were such as to justify the most sanguine
hopes, the Republic being destined to become a great, wealthy, and
civilised nation. The cattle which were brought down from Peru and
Southern Brazil, where they had been introduced by the early Spanish
settlers, prospered well upon the great plains of the South; plains
favoured with such fertile soil and mild climatic conditions, that a
rich supply of nourishing grasses is their natural inheritance. The
early part of the last century saw the growth of the dry-salting
industry and the beginning of a large export trade in salted meats,
hides, and tallow, and the “Saladeros” of the Argentine and of the
countries immediately contiguous to its northern border enjoyed a period
of rich prosperity, supplying the markets of the northern states with
large quantities of “jerked” or salted beef. But although they still
have a standing in the country, these Saladeros are rapidly being
supplanted by the modern methods of meat preserving carried on by the
great freezing establishments, and in the province of Buenos Ayres these
freezing factories or “Frigorificos” consume so much live stock that the
Saladeros find difficulty in existing alongside of them.

The “jerked” beef of the Saladeros, unappetising to the senses of both
sight and smell, is found in the stores throughout South America, and a
large quantity finds its way into the islands of the Caribbean Sea. The
strong odour of this meat proclaims its proximity, and its would-be
purchasers need only follow their noses in almost any village to
discover the commodity. The method of its preparation is both ancient
and simple, the carcase of the slaughtered animal being cut into pieces,
and the bones, fat, and tendons removed. The pieces of meat are then
powdered with salt and maize and placed in the sun until they become
shrivelled and nearly black in colour. Sometimes the meat is subjected
to a smoke-curing treatment in addition, and in any case requires to be
well soaked in water before being cooked, and even then it is far from
tender, but soups made from it, although highly flavoured, are said to
be very nutritious.

This trade, however, is now almost entirely dependent on cattle from the
northern plains of Corrientes, Missiones, Uruguay and Paraguay, and the
southernmost states of Brazil, for the introduction of better breeds of
cattle into the Argentine, which has been going on for over fifty years,
has made it more profitable to export the higher grade beef to more
remote markets in a superior form.

[Illustration: A PRIZE HEREFORD BULL.]

This became possible to an almost unlimited extent since the
establishment of the “frigorificos,” seeing that the better prices
brought about by the increasing demand induced capital to be employed in
the grading up of the cattle and the improving of the breeds until they
yield the greatest possible quantities of beef of the highest quality.
The “creolia” or native cattle are rather thin and scraggy animals,
although they are hardy and well fitted to survive without care or
attention, but so great is the tendency to replace them by better
breeds, that in time they are likely to disappear altogether. The
“Saladeros” confine their attention to the “creolia” cattle and the
establishments are generally primitive and dilapidated, the owners
caring little about appearances, but compelled by the Government
inspectors to keep their premises from becoming insanitary or too
unclean. In the grounds which surround the buildings, rows of rough
wooden fences are erected, upon which the beef is hung to dry in the
sun, whilst the hides are pegged out flat upon the ground and dry-salted
for export. In every part of the cattle area the presence of these
hides, stretched out upon the ground or hanging over fences, proclaims
the national industry, and even at the smallest hut or wayside shed one
or two hides are sure to be in evidence. The banks of the Parana and
Uruguay rivers are the true home of the “Saladero,” for in early times
the sailing vessels that traded between Montevideo and Spain and the
West Indies took cargoes of the “jerked” beef to the Brazilian ports and
Cuba, there to be exchanged for the commodities that furnished freight
for the homeward voyage. Montevideo became the most important port for
these vessels, and the ease with which cargoes could be floated down the
rivers to the port led to the establishment of hundreds of factories
along the banks of the Uruguay and Parana rivers. In the Southern
Brazilian State of Rio Grande, the “Saladeros,” protected by a high
tariff, still flourish, but they have not enough cattle to supply the
needs of their own country, although they slaughter an increasing number
every year, and at the present time are not far behind Uruguay in their
output. Argentina, on the other hand, is falling off in her output of
“jerked” beef owing to the demand made by her “Frigorificos” for grazing
land upon which to pasture cattle of a higher grade. In all, about one
and a half million animals pass through the “Saladeros” of the three
States every year, this large figure not including the cattle
consumption of the factories engaged in the extract manufacture and
canning business. This latter is another form of utilising the native
cattle which are unsuitable for the freezing establishments, as well as
the improved breeds which are constantly being introduced, and the
industry has attained a very solid and world-wide reputation through the
operations of the Liebig Extract of Meat Company, which was the pioneer
of the extract and concentrated meat trade, and established the first
factory for this purpose in South America.

Their business is so extensive that they now slaughter about two hundred
thousand head of cattle annually at their factories on the banks of the
River Uruguay, where they prepare their extracts--Lemco, Oxo,
Concentrated Soups, Preserved Beef, Tongues, Beef Meal, and Canned Meat.
No rivals come anywhere near them in output, for they utilise many times
the number of animals disposed of by all their competitors put together.

Their factories at Frey Bentos and Colon are most extensive and
adequately equipped, and are models of what such places should be, and
very different from the native “Saladero.” Going through the various
departments of these two factories, the visitor would not be surprised
if told that he was in an engineering, joinery, or almost any kind of
industrial establishment; for all branches of the modern workshop are
carried on in different parts of the premises. Nearly everything
required for upkeep and packing is made upon the spot in the foundries,
machine shops, carpenters’ shops and the marvellous tin can factory with
its elaborate machinery that is almost human. Here tins of various sizes
are cut out, shaped and soldered for the packing of preserved meats,
tongues, etc., whilst in another department the machinery for filling
and hermetically sealing these tins is equally ingenious and
interesting. Large coopers’ shops turn out hundreds of barrels for
packing the by-products, such as hides, fat, and tallow. Boilers
(mechanically fed), engines, pumps, and electric plant for light and
power, occupy their allotted places, and the wharves in front, busy with
steamers, sailing vessels, and barges, give the place the appearance of
a town of no mean importance.

[Illustration: COLON.]

The appointments of the slaughtering and flaying beds offer a marked
contrast to the old-fashioned methods, and the equipment of the factory
for boiling and evaporation is the outcome of experience and the highest
engineering skill in its thousand and one details, so complicated as to
be bewildering to the mere layman.

During the six months of the year when the cattle are coming in, the
factories are in full swing, and the animals pour into the corrals by
the thousand, to be driven through the “drives” or “races” into the
small corral, where each one in turn is lassoed. The rope is then given
a turn round the drum of a small electric motor, and the animal drawn
firmly into a small box, the floor of which is a movable truck. The
fatal stab is given just behind the hard ridge where the horns grow from
the head, the executioner despatching the animals at the rate of two per
minute. The blow is sudden, swift and sure, for the men who perform this
task are skilful and their services well paid. It is no uncommon thing
for one of them to earn as much as £200 during the six months of the
year that the killing goes on, and still less uncommon for him to spend
it all in the six off months, returning the following season practically
penniless.

The animal having been despatched, the carcase is flayed upon the
cemented beds which slope slightly to the channel which conducts the
blood to a central tank. The meat is then cut up and the bones removed,
the flesh being hung in a large, dark, funereal chamber, the walls of
which are painted black. This, I was told, was to keep the flies away,
for flies, it seems, detest darkness, although their deeds are evil.

Every part of the animal is used; nothing is wasted. The flesh being
cared for, the fat goes one way, the hides another; the offals a third
and the blood a fourth. Some of the bones are boiled with the meat to
make a particular kind of extract; whilst portions of the meat are
boiled alone for tinning, other portions are cut up fine by machinery,
and made into extract. The bones are carefully sorted and exported for
the making of combs and knife handles. The horns are sold to
manufacturers in Europe, who split them up, and by processes of their
own turn them into such articles as combs, brush handles, boxes, etc.,
so closely imitating tortoise-shell that an innocent and
indiscriminating public mistakes them for the genuine article. Such
parts of the animals as are good for nothing else are made into manure.

It need hardly be said that the Liebig Company’s organisation has by no
means overlooked the needs of the large number of work-people engaged at
their factories, and the settlements both at Colon and Frey Bentos
provide accommodation far superior to any to be found in any of the
villages in the country-side. The houses and plots of ground allotted to
the workers at Frey Bentos form quite a rural settlement, whilst Colon,
a more recent and very inviting colony, is a town built upon approved
modern lines. The houses, which are all kept painted white, are built in
squares, their backs looking on to a large courtyard. This keeps all the
fronts free from the unsightly domestic pots and pans and other
paraphernalia usually to be seen crowding the fronts of village houses
and shacks. Stores, schools, and a doctor’s shop are provided, and each
household has its own plot of ground for the growing of vegetables and
flowers, and is also provided with the very necessary baths which the
architects and builders of the peons’ houses (generally the owners
themselves) invariably forget.

Large recreation rooms and club houses are provided, and the company
give an annual feast to their workers, a feast unlimited as to beef and
wine, and followed by dancing and singing to the accompaniment of an
instrumental band also provided by the employers. There is also
available land for those of the workers who care to go in for
cattle-raising and farming on their own account; indeed, everything is
done to induce and encourage them in such effort, and there is an
attractiveness about these colonies which keeps them well populated. A
more varied and pleasing life is held out here than that offered by a
residence on the great distant melancholy camps, where social
intercourse is necessarily restricted, and where the monotony of
existence is only broken by the arrival of some chance visitor from a
neighbouring camp or an occasional excursion to one of the “pulperias”
for a glass of “boliche” and a gossip with similarly situated
companions.

In addition to being big consumers of cattle, the Liebig Company are
themselves land-holders and stock-raisers on a large scale, their farms
or estancias in Uruguay, Corrientes, and Missiones being typical of each
of the states, although all managed from headquarters at the two
factories. In the Republic of Uruguay they own six estancias and rent
two, comprising in all 252,871 acres, whilst in the Argentine province
of Corrientes they control 329,941 acres, and in Paraguay 118,584
acres, making a total of about 700,000 acres, upon which close upon
200,000 head of cattle are maintained.

[Illustration: THE VILLAGE OF FREY BENTOS.]

No less than from three to six hundred tons of extract of beef are
annually exported from their factories, in addition to the tongues,
soups, and preserved meats for which they are noted. If one takes in the
whole of the River Plate littoral, the dry-salting and meat extract
business consumes about half a million animals yearly, a figure which is
destined to grow larger year by year. This consumption of cattle is
quite apart from that of the freezing trade, which is on a still larger
scale, and in which a capital of nearly four million pounds sterling is
invested, much of the money coming from Britain and the United States.

The first shipments of frozen meat from the Argentine were made in 1877,
and so successful was the experiment, that within eight years the first
large freezing establishment was erected in Buenos Ayres. Others
followed in rapid succession, and the combined turnover of the
“Frigorificos,” as they are called, has reached the enormous sum of
twelve million pounds sterling per annum.

These “Frigorificos” having been for the most part built during recent
years, their builders have been able to take advantage of all the
experiments and improvements made by hygienic science, and no pains are
spared to keep the reputation of Argentine meat above suspicion. The
stock slaughtered for foreign markets undergoes a careful examination by
veterinary inspectors, the animals being subjected to a severe scrutiny
before they are permitted to leave the paddocks and pens adjoining the
factories, and allowed to pass along the “race” to the slaughterhouse.
In not a few of the factories the “race” has a long, deep trough of
water in it, through which the animals pass to cool and cleanse their
bodies before they reach the narrow box in which they receive the _coup
de grâce_. Directly this has been given, the truck-like floor of the box
is wheeled quickly out, and placed in a favourable position to allow of
the carcase being hoisted by the hind legs to a transport rail. The
bleeding takes place over a channel which conducts the blood into a
large underground tank, and the carcase is then placed upon the flaying
beds alongside. Very rapidly the hide is removed by highly skilled and
well-paid operators, who are fined for every flaw made by them in the
skins they remove. The carcase is next opened up in the presence of the
Government inspector, who pronounces his verdict as to the soundness or
otherwise of the animal. Having been thoroughly cleaned, the meat is
sawn in halves and each side hauled up on to a transport rail and run
along to another shed where the trimming is completed before it enters
the chilling or freezing chamber, as the case may be. For twenty-four
hours the meat is subjected to the freezing process, and then each side
is quartered, covered first with a cotton wrapper and then with a
stouter one of jute, and the quarters, thus protected from dust and
dirt, are shipped into the cold chambers of barges which deliver them to
the specially fitted steamers bound for Europe.

As the killing goes on day after day, a seemingly endless procession of
“sides” is hurried along the transport rails to the great freezing
chambers, which are filled and emptied day in and day out all the year
round. The only disagreeable parts of the whole operation are the
killing pens and the flaying beds, and the visitor to the Frigorifico,
if at all squeamish, will do well to give these a very casual inspection
as he makes his tour.

The hides, wet-salted and packed in barrels, are shipped to the
tanneries in England, the United States, and Germany; but London is the
principal market for the frozen meat of the Argentine, its consumption
of home-killed and foreign frozen meat exceeding one and a half million
tons annually.

The Argentine has attained her present enviable position at the head of
the list of beef exporting countries by giving an intelligent attention
to the improvement of her herds of cattle. As far back as 1848 the
importation of the best stock from England was commenced, and since then
hundreds of prize animals from the British shows have been shipped to
the grazing lands of the republic. In 1857 the first live-stock show was
held in Buenos Ayres, and in 1875 the Rural Society of the Argentine
held the first of the series which has continued annually since that
date. The Rural Society has done much to justify its existence,
organising, holding together and encouraging the stock-raising interest.
Every well-known class of stock is exhibited at its shows, sheep of the
Lincoln, Rambouillet, Blacknose, and other varieties, and cattle of the
Shorthorn, Durham, Hereford, and Polled Angus breeds. The keen
competition amongst exhibitors has led to a high standard of exhibits,
of which there is always an abundant entry. This is equally true with
regard to the horses which are now bred in the Argentine, the breeders
being justly proud of the fine animals they can produce. The same care
has been exercised in the choice of sires and mares which have been
purchased in England and on the continent of Europe, with the object of
obtaining the best breed possible. The thoroughbred race-horse is
particularly popular, and many famous race winners have been purchased
by the Argentine dealers, sportsmen, and breeders. “Diamond Jubilee” was
purchased from the late King Edward for 30,000 guineas, “Val d’Or” from
the French breeder, Edmond Blanc, for £12,000. It has been estimated
that 400 thoroughbred stallions and 3000 brood mares are in service in
Argentina, producing about 1500 foals annually. In the last fifteen
years the sales of young stock have increased from 90 animals in 1895,
realising on the average £126 apiece, to 483 animals in 1910, yielding
an average price of £639. This gives some idea of the importance and
growth of the industry of horse-breeding in the republic, and a glance
at the list of well-known horses which have been produced, several of
them winners of tens of thousands of pounds in prize money, indicates
the excellence of the results attained and the profitableness of the
occupation.



CHAPTER XVIII

_On the Road to Paraguay_


[Illustration: ON THE PARANA.]

Paraguay is most easily reached by river. The long overland journeys
from either Brazil or Bolivia are both of a nature to deter tourists,
and the voyage up either the Uruguay or the Parana rivers is preferable
to the long dusty train journey from Buenos Ayres to Corrientes. The
steamship service of the Mihanovich line which plies upon the River
Plate, as well as along the Argentine coast, is one of the best in South
America. The vessels are large and adequately fitted for the tropical
regions through which they pass. Leaving Buenos Ayres in the early
morning, the River Uruguay is reached in about four hours. Great masses
of green foliage float down the swiftly running stream, and low-lying
islands clad with rich vegetation are passed. Strings of cattle boats or
barges laden with their living freight and towed by strong steam tugs
appear upon the scene, whilst the white sails of craft of all sizes, and
many shapes, flutter over the broad, smooth waters. The river, which is
both wide and deep, is the highway to a great many of the most
prosperous

[Illustration: FREY BENTOS.]

districts in the republics of Uruguay and Argentina. The towns upon
either side of the river are small, and removed from one another by
great distances. Small villages and insignificant collections of huts
peep out from the luxuriant foliage, and glimpses of the life of the
inhabitants are caught from time to time. Agricultural pursuits occupy
the attention of the people, the raising and tending of cattle and live
stock being by far the most important industry. Frey Bentos and Colon
are both well-known ports upon this river, at which the steamer comes to
anchor. At the numerous stopping places small tenders, row boats, and
canoes come alongside, and put on or take off passengers and their
baggage, small freight, and mails, very little time being occupied by
the operations. Paysandu, famous for its ox tongues, is a small town
opposite to Colon, and a railway connects it to the central Uruguay
system, thus bringing it into direct communication with Montevideo.
Colon is entirely occupied by the factories of the celebrated Liebig’s
Extract of Meat Co., and the small villages that have sprung up around
it amidst pastoral surroundings are inhabited by the factory workers.
Concordia and Salto are the end of the journey as far as the Uruguay
River is concerned, the further passage being closed to navigation by
falls and rapids. These two towns are typical specimens of Spanish
colonial settlements, and present very much the same appearance to-day
as they did a century ago. Sleepy would describe them at ordinary times,
but at midday the passenger landing from the steamer finds them
veritable cities of the dead, for the streets are deserted, and even
hotel-keepers are difficult to awaken. Concordia has wide streets but
low houses, with roofs either flat or sloping away from the front to the
back, so that a straight, unbroken sky-line is presented to the eye. The
Plaza or principal square of the town possesses a church with two
towers, which, although of comparatively recent date, has, owing to the
unfinished brickwork, the aspect of an ancient building. The towers,
covered with small green slates, are typical of the church architecture
that prevails over nearly the whole of South America. Inside, the church
has a plain barrel roof supported by engaged fluted columns of the
Corinthian order, the floor is tiled, and highly coloured statues and
images adorn the walls; much of the great altar is painted to imitate
marble, and a profusion of gilding testifies to the native love of the
gaudy. Seen at night its effect is rich enough, when the garishness of
the decorations is softened by the mellow candlelight. During the
services in honour of the Virgin crowds of women and girls are seated in
the front seats of the nave, and notices are placed upon the pillars and
in other conspicuous places, intimating that men and boys are forbidden
to trespass on the part reserved for the women, while, to enforce a due
observance of the order, policemen, in white helmets and brown holland
clothes, are in attendance, and the crowds of amorous youths are
restrained with some little difficulty from gaining a point of vantage
from which to observe the fair. Processions of little girls clad in
white pass through the building singing “Ave Marias”; a black-robed
priest beating time and marshalling the regiment. Bouquets of flowers
are thrown upon the altar steps by the children as they pass--a pretty
ceremony enthusiastically observed. The service over, the congregation
slowly disperse into the Plaza, and the straw-hatted beaux form up in

[Illustration: A PARAGUAYAN LADY.]

line to gaze upon the fair beauties of the community. Ladies, young and
middle-aged, attended by their duennas, linger under the lights of the
lamps, conscious of and not ill pleased with the attentions of the human
moths fluttering around them. There is no doubt that the ladies of the
country towns and cities of Argentina enjoy a greater freedom than do
their sisters in Buenos Ayres. In Concordia they play tennis and other
outdoor games, and there is a growing disposition on the part of the
“society” señoritas to become acquainted with the English tongue.

The buildings in the Plaza are more modern in style than the cathedral
or church, and have ornamental fronts generally painted white. Green
“pariso” trees shade the square, and in the centre stands the equestrian
statue of San Martin. Replicas of this statue are placed in every town
of any importance in the Argentine, the only variations being the
pedestals, which have local peculiarities of design, workmanship, and
material. The statue is rather a poor affair, stiff and conventional in
pose and action, but it serves its turn to commemorate the great general
and hero of the republic. The inscription on the front records the names
of the famous battles of

    SAN LORENZO ... MAIPU ... CHACABUCO

and a dedication to the army of the Andes, who gloried in that they
could say, “In twenty-four hours we have made the campaign, crossing the
highest Cordilleras in the world, disposing of tyrants and liberating
Chili.” The whole square, which is typical of many others in Argentina,
is made up or bounded by houses for the most part of one story, with
blinds to keep the fierce rays of the sun from penetrating windows and
doors. A few cabs covered with cracked leather hoods and harnessed to
scraggy horses are lined up round the pavements of the square. A
bandstand railed in with a stucco imitation of rustic woodwork has its
appropriate place in the general make-up of the Plaza. During the months
from November to March inclusive the siesta hours are from half-past
eleven till two, and during these hours the city sleeps. Banks, business
houses, shops, and factories all obey the call. The shade temperature
during the summer months is high, and although 114° is rarely
registered, 100° to 104° are very common. In the winter from March to
October the business hours are longer, and midday rest is limited to
one hour and a half, from twelve to one-thirty.

Concordia is an important centre for wool and cattle. Sheep do well in
the province of Entre Rios, in spite of the heat, and the cattle,
although not perhaps so pleasing to the eye as the improved breeds that
flourish farther south, are hardy and useful animals. Grapes are
cultivated and extensive vineyards surround the town. The wines made in
the bodegas of Entre Rios and Mendoza are sent down to Buenos Ayres,
where ingenious dealers and merchants are expert in the art of blending
them with the imported brands from Europe, so that they can pass them on
to the public as the real “Simon Pure.” The roads round the town are
badly made, so sandy and yielding that driving is hard work for the
horses. The lanes through the vineyards are very pleasant, shaded by the
“pariso” and lime trees, and perfumed by the scent of oranges and
lemons. The ground is gently undulating, in marked contrast to the low,
flat plains farther south and north, and from many vantage points
extensive views are obtained of the surrounding country. The town of
Salto, on the other side of the river, in the Republic of Uruguay, lies
white like a Moorish city, the shipping at the wharves by the river side
lending animation to the scene. In the suburbs of these towns are many
shacks and huts built of mud or old tin cans, a common method all
through the country. The dwelling-houses in the town are of the common
Spanish type, and one gets accustomed to the pleasant little pictures of
family life seen through open doorways. The patio is the living-room of
these houses, and the flowers, vines, and creepers make cheerful wall
decorations. The rooms leading off are dingy and ill-ventilated, for the
shuttered windows are often kept closed for days. They are cool and free
from the plague of flies, but, unless for sleeping in, they are
depressing and gloomy. During the hot evenings the inhabitants take
their chairs and stools out into the streets, and little groups of
relatives and friends block the narrow pavements. All the windows to the
houses are barred either with iron or wooden rails, giving a gloomy
expression to the house fronts.

Although a small tramway drawn by horses has lately been installed in
the town, the automobile has hardly got farther than the showrooms. The
drivers of these cars have little horns or trumpets, upon which they
perform with gusto, very much in the same way as do the pedlars in Rio
upon their primitive instruments. Horses are ridden by all classes, for
horseflesh is cheap, and during the making of a call, or shopping, the
animals are hobbled by the fore legs and left in the streets, sometimes
for hours together. There is no theatre in the town, but a travelling
circus sometimes puts in an appearance, and receives the active
patronage of the rank and fashion, as well as of the masses. Some of
these shows are well equipped, carrying with them their own electric
light plant, and, in case this should break down or give out during a
performance, an extra plant for the illuminating of the tent by
acetylene gas is in readiness. The performance is of the well-known
circus type--elephants and trained horses, clowns and acrobats occupy
the ring in turns, and cinema pictures wind up the evening’s
performance. For a provincial town in South America, Concordia has many
things to recommend it--a club with fine premises, a show ground for the
annual cattle display, and, for those who desire further diversion,
there is the café with its cinema, where, to the accompaniment of music,
wine, and tobacco smoke, the evenings may be passed. From Concordia the
steamer returns to Buenos Ayres, as the higher river is unnavigable.
Trains from the town convey passengers to Posadas, on the Alto Parana,
or to Corrientes, on the Paraguay River. The journey across country is
hot, dusty, and uncomfortable, and after the river travel very
undesirable. The natives who board the train at the various stations
through the province are yellow-skinned Indians, with little or no
Spanish blood in them. They are dull and sleepy-looking, with dirty
habits and forbidding expressions. The landscape is flat and
uninteresting for the greater part of the journey, pools of water and
marshy swamps being the principal breaks in the monotony of the plains,
and the estancias which dot the surface at long intervals make the only
landmarks. Herds of cattle, horses, sheep, and ostriches graze upon the
plains; a few goats are also found in certain districts, half-wild
animals that start away in wild stampedes at the approach of trains.
Huts of mud and thatch are grouped around the camp stations, and a few
lonely and poverty-stricken-looking shacks, the residences of shepherds
and cowboys, appear at intervals in the dreary landscape. Many of the
“peons” or native working-classes bear striking resemblances to
Chinamen, and the absence of the negro type throughout this province is

[Illustration: SHEPHERDS AND COWBOYS, CORRIENTES.]

note-worthy. Mounted police, with great sun helmets and white drill
clothes, are in evidence at the railway stations, and, although
uniformed and bearing swords and revolvers, they seldom wear socks or
boots, but content themselves with the simple alpagatos or straw shoes
which are common throughout the country. The poncho is very popular with
most of the inhabitants of the plains, a really serviceable and sensible
form of covering.

At Mercedes a few sun-bleached coaches betray the existence of some
important town in the vicinity, although it is not visible from the
railway station. Trains laden with hot, uncomfortable cattle and sheep
are drawn up in sidings to permit the passenger trains to pass. Carts
drawn by oxen and horses lumber along the dusty roads. Much of the
country in the north of Corrientes is swampy, and an abundance of bird
life clusters around the margin of the shallow lakes. Storks wade
through the pools, plover, snipe, pigeon, and rooks hover in the air,
and palm trees grow here and there in little clumps, giving a tropical
touch to a landscape which but for them has no special feature, save
that of monotony. When violent storms of wind, rain, and lightning visit
these camps--and their terrific force is indescribable--the whole
horizon from east to west is lit up by flashes of blinding intensity,
following one another in such rapid succession that they merge together
and form long periods of illumination, varied at intervals by streaks of
forked lightning which stab the earth with destructive force. Deaths
from lightning are not uncommon in this quarter of the continent, the
continual roll of loud thunder is deafening, like the near report of a
battery of heavy ordnance--the rain descends in torrents, an
awe-inspiring deluge, which converts great tracts of the low-lying land
into shallow lakes.

Corrientes, the capital of the State, could hardly be described as a
fine city or town. It is undergoing some improvements, which will render
it a little less destructive to carriage springs and trying to weak
ankles. The streets until recently were frightful, one mass of rugged
boulders that would baffle the ingenuity of the sure-footed mule to
negotiate. The authorities are at work, endeavouring to make the roads
and streets passable, but during the operations, which have been started
all over the town simultaneously, confusion reigns. The town lies on the
western bank of the Parana River, a little below the point where it
meets the

[Illustration: IGEASU FALLS ON THE ALTO PARANA.]

Paraguay; and during the summer months heat, dullness, and sand are its
principal attractions. Almost every other house bears a brass plate
signifying that a lawyer or doctor resides within, surely an
unpropitious omen for the peace and happiness of the inhabitants. Very
few shops of any importance enliven the dismal solitude of the streets,
and the business houses and warehouses have unpretentious exteriors, and
even before and after the siesta hours from eleven to two they are
anything but animated. There is a considerable trade passing through the
port, however, which makes the river front the liveliest portion of the
town. In the Plaza there is the prescribed statue of San Martin, the
cathedral, bandstand, and ornamental garden. One ancient building takes
up almost the entire side of the square. It is weather-stained, faded,
and worn, its dilapidated front bears evidence of antiquity, and
tradition says that it is contemporaneous with the foundation of the
city. The general decay which has spread over most of the neighbouring
buildings is more apparent on this ancient residence of the Governor of
the State. Its strongly barred windows suggest a prison rather than a
palace, but in days gone by Governors were not the most popular persons
in the Spanish colonies, and they needed a strong protection from the
disaffected. The Government buildings in the Plaza are in the modern
French Renaissance style, their high mansard roofs and delicate plaster
ornamentations incongruously placed amidst the heavier and less fanciful
styles of the early colonial architecture. The cathedral, which is of
the usual type, is lit by the modern electric light, although the
priests who administer to the religious needs, and light up the
spiritual darkness of the population, still array themselves in the
rough brown robes of their order. At one corner of the Plaza stands a
large house of one story, with a richly ornamented front in the
classical style; through its open door a glimpse is caught of a
beautiful patio filled with palms, vines, and plants. These patios are
the only bright spots in the city, and even the most forbidding and
dirty-looking habitations are rich in the possession of these cheery,
verdant bowers. Some of the “posadas” or inns are picturesque enough to
look at, particularly if they are regarded from the point of view of a
lover of ruins, but as hostelries they do not offer much attraction, for
their tottering walls threaten to engulf the inmates, particularly when
a good storm is raging. Under the verandahs groups of women sit
gossiping and smoking big cigars, which they puff with real enjoyment. A
strange medley of animals lies around--dogs, cats, monkeys, pigs, and
the curious carpincha, whilst through the turned wooden bars that screen
the windows handsome young faces framed with brightly covered scarves
peep out at the few passers-by.

[Illustration: OLD HOUSES IN CORRIENTES.]

When leaving Corrientes by the steamer it is wise to engage the services
of one of the peons who are attached to the landing-stage. These
watermen, who are always to be found upon the wharf, keep their
attention riveted upon the river, and as the hour at which the steamers
arrive is rather uncertain, the advantages of having a watchman who will
give timely warning to intending voyagers is apparent. At any hour of
the twenty-four the vessel may arrive, and as it remains only a few
minutes alongside the quay, it is well for passengers to be at hand.

[Illustration: A “POSADA,” CORRIENTES.]

The journey up the river from Corrientes to Asuncion has plenty of
incident to enliven it, particularly when one of the periodical
revolutions of the little republic of Paraguay is in progress, for then
the uncertainty of finding villages still inhabited, the prospect of
encountering tramp steamers converted into “battleships,” and small
troops of armed men parading the river banks only adds to the
fascination the romantic country already possesses. Ascending and
descending the river one meets with travellers of many nationalities,
army officers from the republics of Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay,
merchants and traders, commercial travellers, tourists, and sportsmen.
The increasing numbers who journey up these rivers testify to the
growing interest that the vast territories in the heart of South
America have created, for the Parana is the only practical highway to
the State of Matto Grosso, the high central tableland of the continent.
Corumba is the busy little shipping port for a vast territory with which
it does a thriving trade, and from it travellers to the State capital of
Cuyaba embark upon the smaller steamers which navigate the São
Lourenco. This branch of the Paraguay is perhaps one of the most
characteristically tropical in South America, the vegetation on its
banks growing with a profuse abundance. The State of Matto Grosso is an
almost unexplored territory, and although containing a wealth of
minerals, hardwoods, and rubber, only a fraction has been gathered and
exported. When the half-million square miles that constitute the area of
this State are contrasted with the total exports, to the value of about
the same number of pounds sterling, the possibilities of enormous
developments are apparent. The name of the State, “Matto Grosso” (dense
forest), gives some indication of the character of the country, and it
is not surprising that rubber should be one of its most important
products. Gold is found in many of the rivers and hills, and alluvial
workings have been carried on ever since the Jesuits, three hundred
years ago, discovered them to be profitable. After heavy showers of rain
it is said that gold is washed down the streets of the capital.
Diamonds, copper, silver, and lead have also been found, and each year
sees more enterprises developing some of the immeasurable resources. In
the rainy season, when the rivers break through and overflow their
normal banks, it is possible for a canoe or small boat to voyage from
the Amazon to the mouth of the River Plate, and many projects have been
put forward to permanently connect the two rivers by canals. The old
maps of the continent show that a waterway was known to the earliest
explorers. Captain Sharp’s map, published in the seventeenth century,
indicates a great waterway connecting the Amazon with the River Plate,
and on it the territory of Brazil and Uruguay are shown as a huge island
quite separate from the rest of the continent, and although the map is
rough and primitive, the fact that a river route between the points
mentioned existed, is insisted upon with a decision indicative of
definite knowledge. Railways are now in course of construction which
will connect Corumba with São Paulo, and Cuyaba with Goyaz and the
federal capital of Brazil, and then the journey from the seaports of
Brazil to the farthest

[Illustration]

outposts of the republic will be accomplished in about three or four
days, instead of twelve or more, as at present. A few travellers, either
to gain experience or from necessity, have made the fatiguing journey
from Corumba to La Paz, in Bolivia, and vice versa. From all the
accounts they give, it is not one which has many attractions to
compensate for the many discomforts and even hardships that are certain
to be encountered. From Corumba the traveller proceeds on muleback
across a dry, desolate plain, with no shelter and little water for
eighteen days, and encounters only a few Indians, friendly enough
inclined, but possessed of nothing to offer in the way of hospitality to
strangers. Arrived at Sucre, a halt can be made, and a short rest taken
before proceeding to La Paz through Cochabamba and Oruro. The whole
journey on muleback occupies about forty days, and can be recommended to
robust and hardy persons who, tired of luxury and the easy comforts of
civilised life, are anxious for a change.

To return to the river. The heat during the summer months is intense,
the thermometer usually registering about 90° in the shade. The river
continues wide and winding as it passes the Grand Chaco on the one side
and the wooded plains on the other. The banks in places are straight as
an even wall, and from the steamer look like embankments of masonry. The
continual wash from the traffic that plies upon the river has its
effect, however, shown by the gaps formed by slides and erosions.
Endless swamps stretch for miles during the rainy season, and the many
trees are only saved from complete submersion by the twisted cables of
lianas which hold them firmly together. Flocks of small aquatic birds
amidst the network of creepers and branches are silently alert, fishing
for a meal. In many places fantastic and exaggerated tree trunks grow
from the water’s edge, and grassy plains, barely rising above the
river’s surface, extend for miles. Close by the shores alligators bask,
with their ugly snouts just above the water, disappearing immediately
they are disturbed by the wash from the passing steamers or the approach
of small boats and canoes. On both sides of the river, cattle, horses,
and ostriches graze in wild freedom upon the meadowland. Mud huts appear
at intervals, and natives in dirty white, ragged garments loll under the
shade of thatched verandahs. Many of the huts, constructed with the
sides and ends of old kerosene tins and bits of packing cases, add a
variety to the architectural styles

[Illustration: TRAVELLERS ON THE STEAMER.]

of these primitive habitations. Canoes with blunt prows and rounded
sterns ply from shore to shore, and surround the steamers that come to
anchor at a “port.” They carry odd cargoes, curious passengers and their
belongings, bundles of many colours, old iron bedsteads and chairs, pots
and pans, and household goods and chattels; domestic pets, monkeys,
parrots, and dogs, all form part of their mixed freight. Trestle beds
are the inseparable impedimenta of the German, Italian, and Spanish
labourers, who move about from place to place with the characteristic
restlessness of born travellers. These beds serve a double purpose, and
are used as holdalls for all their owners’ baggage by day, and as their
couches by night, when the fore deck of the steamer is transformed into
an open-air dormitory. At Formosa, an important though small town on the
Argentine side of the river, a large crowd assembles to witness the
arrival and departure of the steamer. Cabs and wagonettes convey the
passengers to and from the town, which lies at a little distance from
the river bank, and the habitual quietude of the port is disturbed for a
few hours or so.

During a voyage I made up the river a revolution was in progress, and
the town of Villetta was in the hands of the insurgents; an armed
steamer lay off the town, its decks swarming with men in khaki uniforms.
There were Englishmen and other Europeans on board, members of the great
army of soldiers of fortune who always contrive to get mixed up with
South American revolutions. On the decks of the innocent-looking tramp
steamer which had been re-named the _Constituccion_, quick-firing and
other small armaments glistened in the sunlight, whilst a wireless
installation and searchlights testified to the resourcefulness of the
insurgents. All along the Paraguayan banks of the river we encountered
little bands of the rebels and many deserted villages. Passengers were
landed upon the banks near the latter, and surrounded by their
belongings were left quite contented, if not happy, with no one to
welcome or receive them. In some of the villages a few women and
children were left in charge, the men and youths having fled across the
river to the Argentine. The women would come down to the water’s edge
and exchange news with our passengers in half-amused, half-frightened
tones, and many of the aspects of the revolution had an irresistibly
comic side to them. Farther up the river more primitive methods of life
and commerce prevail, and half-amphibious dwellings lie on the borders
of the great “esteros” or marsh lands that stretch away from the river.
In the rainy season these lands become vast lakes, the thick, stiff,
clayey soil forming an impervious bottom. In the dry season the water
evaporates, and leaves behind a grey, dusty soil of great gaping cracks,
and a strong, wiry grass and stunted shrubs growing in many patches. The
dreary malarious wastes extend far beyond the limits of the river’s
bank, and on these placid, stagnant areas the mosquito finds a congenial
breeding ground. On these swamps numerous aquatic plants grow, and the
camalote and many varieties of white and blue lilies, whilst the
_Victoria regia_ spreads out its broad, green leaves and snowy flowers.
On the higher lands farther to the north the landscape becomes bolder
and more picturesque. Vast woods, dense and almost impenetrable, abound,
and harbour a wealth of animal life. Beautifully marked jaguars, tiger
cats, and ocelots make their lairs in the dark recesses of these gloomy
forests, monkeys chatter amongst the trees, whilst snakes and lizards
glide and dart through the confused matted undergrowth. The carpincha,
the largest of existent rodents, wallows in the muddy margins of the
swamps; a droll-looking animal, rapid though clumsy in its movements,
possessing a ludicrous truncated face that would provoke a smile from an
anchorite. The whole country is a sportsman’s paradise, for it harbours
a plentiful variety of large and fierce quadrupeds, and teems with
feathered game. The stately heron and gaunt stork haunt the river banks,
as do innumerable water birds, ducks and geese of many native varieties.
Pheasants, partridge, snipe, and pigeon fly over land and water, great
flocks of parrots, with harsh, strident cries, break the silence of the
evening calm. At sunset, when the dying hues of the sun incarnadine the
expansive waters, the prevailing tone of greyness comes as a welcome
relief, after the blinding glare of the daytime, when from a myriad
diamond points the reflected light dances upon the rippling waters. The
western sky is diffused with a golden or ruddy glow, and forms a mellow
background to the rich, mysterious greens of the tree-clad banks.
Cormorants, kingfishers, and storks sail above the surface of the water
in search of prey, and when the brief period of twilight ceases the
starry swarms of the heavens shine from the blue vault overhead with an
amazing brilliance. The long-drawn reflections of the night-lights of
the sky in the river form streaks of opal light, which move ever forward
with the ship’s advance like dancing will-o’-the-wisps, the rare beauty
of the tropical night is deeply impressive, and, in the silence, ideas
of space are magnified by many reflections, nature becomes more
mysterious, the passing hour more trivial, and man and all his efforts
shrink into insignificance.



CHAPTER XIX

_Asuncion_


The sun was just beginning to dispel the white morning mists when we
came alongside the Aduana or custom-house of Asuncion. Our
fellow-passengers were all anxious to learn the latest developments of
the revolution in progress, and to discover if it was wise for them to
trust themselves on shore, for it is proverbial that Paraguay is like a
mouse-trap, easy enough of entrance, but difficult of exit. Alongside of
the wharf or quay of the Aduana lay a small steam trawler, which, upon
closer inspection, proved to be the Government battleship, its deck
swarming with a dirty, ill-clad, frightened crew, who were confused by
the conflicting orders shouted at them from time to time by youthful
officers, barely out of their teens.

The restlessness of the crew of the _Liberdad_ extended to the small
tender that rushed about with noisy, feverish haste on various errands,
and to the small row-boats manned by crews of mere boys whose faces were
smacked and punched by the officers in charge whenever they missed a
stroke or pulled out of time.

Upon the wharf soldiers, with bayonets fixed to their loaded rifles,
lounged and smoked in the company of dark-eyed market women, who also
puffed and pulled at fat cigars rolled between their protruding lips
with an easy familiarity.

At the bottom of the flight of steps which led down to the water’s edge
a noisy crowd of boatmen wrangled with their fares or contended with one
another for favourable positions. One of these boats was occupied by an
old man whose face and dress vividly recalled the well-known prints of
the patriot Garibaldi, and that he was conscious of the likeness he bore
to the distinguished Italian hero was obvious, for, in bright yellow
letters, the name “Garibaldi” was painted upon the green stern of his
tiny craft. Further inquiry elicited the fact that the owner of the
likeness and the boat was one of the family of Italy’s wandering sons.

Two battleships lay far out in the river, one flying the Argentine and
the other the Brazilian flag, and the crews’ weekly washing. Small
launches kept coming and going from and to these fourth-rate river
cruisers, giving an air of warlike activity to the port.

[Illustration: THE CUSTOM-HOUSE, ASUNCION.]

There was no difficulty in going ashore; and, although passengers bound
for stations in the interior found that the railway station was closed
and under charge of an old watchman and a few old women who were resting
upon the seats of the deserted terminus, they had no difficulty in
obtaining rooms in the ill-kept and expensive hotels of the city.

There is little life in the rugged streets of Asuncion at any hour of
the day in normal times, but during the early mornings, when a
revolution is in progress, a few dogs, cats, and fowls have undisturbed
possession of the thoroughfares.

The town is well enough laid out, and follows a regular plan; but the
low, one-story buildings which line many of the streets, and the absence
of many tall buildings, prevent the city from having an imposing aspect.
The roads are bad, and the high pavements, which serve in most cases as
balconies to the houses, often compel the pedestrian to use the rough
roadways, which, however, are not quite so bad as those of Corrientes.
In wet weather many of the roads are converted into rivulets, only to be
negotiated by stepping from one to the other of the large stones which
lie like boulders across the stream. The older houses are all built with
“adobes” or sun-dried bricks, having substantial walls of more than a
yard in thickness. The roofs are covered with double layers of red tiles
of the “roman” pattern, and many of the external walls are panelled and
framed in by columns or pilasters in low relief, the whole front being
colour-washed in some fanciful shade, according to the owner’s taste.
Blues, yellows, purples, greens, and buffs give a kaleidoscopic aspect
to the streets, additional variety being lent by the heavy, massive
doors and shutters of the entrances and windows, the former opening into
vestibules which lead to the pillared and grassy patios beyond.

The kitchens are dark and sooty apartments, full of a heavy atmosphere,
and the pungent smell of garlic and cooking fat; but lofty rooms with
heavy rafters made from palm-tree trunks are to be found in many of the
houses, timber being so plentiful that even the jerry-builders of the
country have no temptation to substitute two-by-three joists and
rafters. The majority of the houses boast of broad piazzas with heavy
pillars and shady upper galleries, which recall the styles of Morocco
and Algiers.

The newer buildings in the town, however, display evidence that the
modern utilitarian craze for cheapness, with its almost inevitable
nastiness, has spread to Paraguay.

They are flimsy and cheaply ornate, with thinner walls and more hastily
contrived and executed doors and windows, the woodwork of which is a sad
departure from the ideals inculcated by the stern Francia, whose passion
for thoroughness in all things called forth the enthusiastic praise of
the “philosopher of Chelsea.”

The Dictator of Paraguay permitted no citizen to slur or scamp his work,
but demanded the best from every man, exacting a high standard of
workmanship, and enforcing the same by the erection of that
extraordinary institution known as the “workman’s gallows,” which
promptly ended the career of negligent and deceitful craftsmen. All the
windows, too, of the older houses in this strange city have heavier iron
bars than those commonly found in Spanish dwellings, and this also may
be the result of the stern Dictator’s decrees.

For it was under the auspices of the “Grand Old Man” of Paraguay that
most of the city was built. When he took up the reins of government he
found Asuncion in disorder, its streets irregular, and its houses built
without system or plan. Tropical vegetation ran riot in its roadways,
which were unpaved and unworthy of the name. When the visitor to-day
feels inclined to criticise adversely the streets and roads of the city
as he finds them, he should pause and reflect upon its state a hundred
years ago, and bless, even if reluctantly, the name of Francia, who
remodelled and paved the town, straightened the crooked ways, and
brought about some measure of order.

It has been alleged by the Doctor’s traducers that his real purpose in
bringing about so many drastic changes was his own convenience and
safety, fearing that the dense thickets that grew throughout and around
the city might harbour and conceal designing assassins.

Of the few buildings of any great importance, the cathedral, although
large, is dwarfed by a high colonnade which rises up to the roof of the
deserted and ill-kept edifice, whose walls are discoloured and faded by
the action of rain and sun.

One of the few outstanding features of the place is the huge dome which
towers above all the other buildings, but the visitor is disappointed
when, on closer inspection, he discovers that it is neither old nor new,
but merely a monument to the childish and unstable zeal of the tyrant
Lopez, who, with a feverish energy, undertook many ambitious building
schemes, which, through lack of means or waning enthusiasm, he never
completed.

This dome is constructed of dull red adobe bricks, and is imposing and
dignified enough in appearance; but the interior is now utilised as a
store, and the inhabitants who use it seem to have little idea as to who
built it, or for what it was originally intended.

A few buildings in the main street of the city rise to two, three,

[Illustration: THE DOME OF THE ORATOIRE DE LOPEZ.]

and even four stories. One of these, the Spanish-American Hotel, is an
old stone building, with a lofty piazza surrounded by heavy pillars,
whilst quaint, lugubrious staircases wind round this patio, and lead to
the upper floors, which are all of stone. In this hotel, travellers to
the city obtain solid food and strongly fortified accommodation, and
must not be surprised if they find that the charges are proportionately
heavy. The place reminded me of many of the old hotels upon the Spanish
Main in Cuba, Mexico, and Colombia, where the same free and easy
attendance was given to the guests, and the same highly seasoned dishes
were set in front of them. A travelling theatrical company happened to
be staying in this hotel during my sojourn, but the presence of the
fashionable ladies of the footlights attracted but little attention in
the city, which was in a highly strung condition, owing to the disturbed
state of the country. Few of the beaux of the town dared venture out;
many of them were already either in the ranks of the Government or the
insurgents, and those who were not were lying low, fearful of being
pressed into service.

Only in the market-place were the ordinary scenes of daily routine to be
witnessed, and that because the whole of the business is carried on by
the womenfolk. The long and terrible war which was waged by the younger
Lopez for six years very nearly exterminated the male portion of the
community, so that to-day the women far outnumber the men.

This market is a real live place, with its crowds of dark-haired women
and children, the former clad in white or brightly coloured dresses and
wearing graceful mantillas or shawls of varied hues, squatting upon the
ground, surrounded by a medley of wares in the shape of fruits, meats,
sweets, and vegetables. Many of the groups that wear the black mantillas
over their heads and falling in long, graceful folds around their
shoulders, reminded me very much of the funeral parties that mourn round
the coffins outside the country churches in Mexico; but the bright
colours of the fruits and flowers, and the blue of the sky, seemed to
gain in intensity from these little touches of funereal black. Here and
there patient kine stand waiting to yield up their supply of milk to
passing customers, whilst their muzzled calves strive in vain to obtain
their rightful nourishment. Panniered donkeys and mules are ranged in
rows along the railings that surround the inner square, women of all
ages pass gracefully to and fro amidst the crowd, their purchases or
wares poised easily upon their heads, and altogether the scene presents
an animation that is in strong contrast with the listlessness of the
rest of the town.

Not a few of the young girls and maidens are very pretty, with slender,
graceful figures, jet-black hair, and lustrous eyes, fringed with long
lashes, their complexions ranging from light saffron to darkest olive
shades, although a few of them possess a really European appearance.
Their costumes are simple and inexpensive, although many of the poorest
wear ornaments in the way of earrings and necklaces, of native
workmanship, made of silver and often of gold. I noticed, however, that
some were wearing the cheaper forms of jewellery of foreign manufacture,
and that the cut and fashions of modern modes were obtaining popularity
amongst the better-to-do market women.

Young children of both sexes run about in a perfectly nude state, even
in the town, and in the country this is practically a universal custom.
The Paraguayans are all rather short, but strongly knit and wiry. They
betray little evidence of Spanish blood, and although there must be in
the towns many whose origin is Indo-Spanish, the Indo predominates. The
language spoken by the masses is the Guarani, an Indian dialect which is
common over a large district in the heart of the continent. The upper
classes betray a marked Spanish origin, both in their appearance and
speech, and are a little better educated; but most of the people of real
Spanish descent were killed during the war, and few, if any, remain
to-day who can boast a purely European origin, excepting always the
small number of foreigners, English, Italians, Germans, Portuguese, and
Spaniards, who have found their way into the country during the last
century, and settled there, and those who continue to flow in year after
year from many climes, making their new homes in this beautiful country.

Smoking is a universal habit amongst the women in the market-place, and
when the thick black rolls of tobacco leaf are laid aside, mouths are
generally closed over “bombillas,” through which they suck the steaming
“yerba.” Vendors of the beautiful native lace wander up and down,
carrying over their arms baskets filled with a large assortment of the
delicate handiwork. The visitor is quickly singled out for attention,
and invited to inspect the goods, and on his displaying the slightest
curiosity is importuned to accompany the dame to one of the shops which
surround the market square, where, without “by your leave” to its owner,
the goods are spread out upon a table or counter, and a sale is sure to
be effected. The proprietor of the shop looks calmly on with apparently
no interest in the business, but it is more than likely that some
understanding with the itinerant vendor exists, and that when the
purchaser has departed the shopkeeper will get a commission for the use
of his premises. The lace is very handsome, and although small pieces
can be purchased for about half a sovereign, the larger articles, with
more intricate workmanship, cost as much as thirty and forty pounds. One
small basket, the contents of which I inspected, must have contained a
stock worth two or three hundred pounds, if the price asked for the
various examples was realised by the merry, middle-aged lady who hawked
it round the square.

[Illustration: A STREET IN ASUNCION.]

The Plaza is surrounded by houses of a single story, which have mostly
been converted into shops. The high pavement in front of these, reached
by steps, is covered by deeply projecting tile-covered eaves forming a
kind of verandah, under which groups of women sit amidst their piled-up
wares, indolently smoking, expectorating, chattering, and laughing.

Few market-places in the Old or New World have more distinctly unique
characteristics than this of Asuncion, none that I have ever seen are so
completely in the hands of the fair sex or so free from the intrusion of
men.

The city is built on a gradual slope, which rises from the river and
extends southwards for a mile or more, its grass-grown streets having
different levels, many of them descending with a startling suddenness.
In order to progress in a straight line it will be found necessary to
continually ascend or descend flights of steps, the difference of level
being sometimes as much as twenty feet. The outlying streets are full of
interesting little domestic scenes, women with their ubiquitous cigars
busy at the wash-tub or hanging out the clothes to dry in the burning
sun, culinary operations carried on in the open air under the shade of
overhanging eaves or leafy trees. A black-draped doorway here and there
intimates to the passers-by that the Great Avenger has paid his dire
visit, and through the opening the mourners may be seen sitting beside
their dead, and receiving the condolences of friends and relatives, a
scene made gloomier by contrast with the brilliant sky against which
tall palms nod their leafy crowns, gorgeously plumaged birds wing their
joyous flight, and snow-white, fleecy clouds chase one another in
endless succession.

At midday, when the sunshine beats warm upon the sleeping town, the
shops are closed, the market-place deserted, and desolation reigns in
street and square, where the heat from the ground is visible by the
quivering motion of the air. The glowing richness of the country roads
is refreshing, after these dry, parched, city streets, and the boundless
expanse of green hill and valley which stretches around is broken only
by the bright silvery light of the river that winds through many and
varied scenes northwards, amidst remote, unknown tropical fastnesses,
and southwards towards the largest city south of the Equator.

The aboriginal inhabitants of South America are always referred to by
the Spanish historians and writers under the generic name of Indians,
and very many tribes more or less differentiated by customs, manners,
appearance, and language still inhabit the continent. The Guarani
peoples who are found to-day in Paraguay are distributed over a large
area, extending from the main waters of the Amazon and Madeira rivers
through the heart of the continent. Amidst the forests and in the dense
chaco of the Paraguay and Parana rivers many still wander in a primitive
condition, whilst others but little higher in the scale of civilisation
who have come under the influence of the Jesuit missionaries, occupy
villages and towns scattered throughout the country.

The early European invaders of the continent were relentless

[Illustration: PARAGUAYAN SAVAGES.]

in their treatment of the natives with whom they came in contact, for
with the utmost rapacity and cruelty they enslaved or slaughtered such
of the ignorant and defenceless creatures as were unable to escape into
the bush. The country has witnessed countless scenes of brutality and
bloodshed, enacted frequently in the name of religion, and in some
instances with the sanction and countenance of the priests of Rome, who
accompanied the expeditions. The Jesuit missionaries who began their
humane and truly great work in Paraguay in 1586 must, however, be
acquitted of the charge of cruelty and barbarity, displaying, as they
did, a wisdom and self-sacrifice that will ever be memorable in the
annals of the race, and the advent of these truly brave-hearted men is
one of the brightest spots in the whole of Paraguayan history. The sons
of all the nations of Europe contributed their share to the
establishment of the mission stations among the Indians, and laboured to
teach the primitive savages the principles of the Christian religion and
the industrial arts of peace. Churches were built, many of which remain
standing to-day, the trackless wilds and forests were penetrated by the
faithful band whose unyielding opposition to the grasping avarice and
barbarous cruelties of the Spanish settlers has earned for them the high
place in the regard of subsequent ages which is their just reward.

Finding that the colonial authorities were careless of the trust reposed
in them, the Jesuits advocated the cause of the natives to the very
steps of the throne of Spain, and had the satisfaction of receiving the
King’s approval of their efforts and his sanction to their further
enterprise.

Unlike the generality of religious bodies of the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries, the Jesuits, instead of leading lives of
seclusion, pursued an absolutely reverse method, adopting a policy of
practical helpfulness towards the masses of mankind, irrespective of
colour, nationality, or creed. Their ranks, comprising some of the
cleverest and most business-like brains of the time, were under the able
generalship of men who were statesmen, politicians, or fighters, as
occasion required, who adapted their methods to the countries in which
and the peoples amongst whom they worked, whilst their firmness of
character and mobility of action were admirably suited to the great task
which they set themselves.

Under their able guidance and stern rule many tribes were arrested from
pursuing the aimless, idle existence of nomads, and were collected into
villages, where church and clergy ministered to their spiritual and
temporal wants. Individual members of these tribes were raised to
positions of trust and authority in each village or settlement, native
“regidors” and “alcaldes” administered law and maintained order; the
assistant clergy managed all the secular matters connected with the
communities, instructing the people in arts and industries, directing
the agricultural labour upon the land, teaching the young, and caring
for the aged and infirm.

No private property existed in these Arcadian settlements, and the
produce of nature’s harvests and men’s labour was stored for common use,
the surplus being sold or exchanged to pay the King of Spain taxes and
to supply the community with such manufactured articles as they required
but were unable to make for themselves. The system evolved by the
missionaries proved, whilst it lasted, one of the best ever adopted for
governing native races and presented so many points of similarity to the
plan introduced and perfected by the Incas on the Western Cordillera,
that it is probable the Jesuit fathers moulded their government upon
that of the ancient Peruvian theocracy.

The simple South American natives were easily led and their respect won
by the efforts of the handful of Jesuits whose superior wisdom, strong
character, and benign sympathy admirably fitted them for such work.

To these pioneers of a just appreciation of the rights of the natives,
the country owes much, and it is unfortunate that the priests who have
succeeded them have not lived and acted up to the high example set by
the early fathers. The falling away is pitiful and the results
deplorable, although, perhaps, the present state of affairs is an
improvement upon that existing in the middle of last century, when a
foreign resident in the city of Asuncion accused the priests of crass
ignorance and gross immorality, adding that they were “great
cock-fighters and gamblers, possessing a vast influence over women, a
power which they turn to the basest of purposes, but they are little
respected by the men.”

During my visit to Paraguay I met with persons who still believe the
stories of a wild tribe still extant who flee from the approach of
strangers, and who roam the woods and wander along the banks of remote
rivers in a state of complete nudity. This tribe is thought by some to
be the degenerate result of close inter-breeding, and it is said that
the children who have been left behind and captured when the tribe was
suddenly surprised have been found to be incapable of learning to talk.
The ape-like characteristics of these tribes have been much commented
upon, and the other natives regard them as so low in the scale of
creation that they have no compunction in shooting them down at sight,
looking upon them as little better than thieving monkeys. These “Guaqui”
Indians are reputed to have no houses or huts of any description, no
clothes or ornaments, no knowledge of the use of fire, and no articulate
language, facts which, if correct, would seem to class them as the
lowest and most primitive human beings at present existing upon the
earth’s surface.

[Illustration: CROSSING THE PARAGUAY.]

The history of every country is to a great extent moulded by the
character of its inhabitants, and in the case of Paraguay it is not
difficult to understand the causes of the interminable and
ever-recurrent revolutions which are almost synonymous with the name of
the republic. Nature is in one of her bountiful moods in the heart of
South America, and does not invite to strenuous toil, for existence is
easy and the development of its rich resources makes no appeal whatever
to the indolent aborigines of the country.

The swelling rivers Parana and Paraguay irrigate the fertile plains, and
the warm, healthy climate stimulates vegetation to a wild profusion. The
whole aspect of the country gives a feeling of repose, and especially
is this true of the rivers, with their similarity of scenery and
comparative absence of human habitations; whilst a journey up these in
flood time is one through absolutely desolate regions.

Even after three centuries of contact with virile settlers from Europe,
the towns scattered throughout the country preserve the appearance of
ancient centres of civilisation long abandoned. Paraguay is a country
that does not change outwardly, whatever political upheavals may disturb
the routine of the life of its inhabitants.



CHAPTER XX

_A South American Dictator_


The early history of Paraguay is almost identical with that of other
South American States. Spain, its conqueror and coloniser, chose a
psychological moment for the work--that enchanted period in the history
of mankind when the world was opening grand visions to poets and
inspiring warlike adventurers on mighty quests through uncharted seas
and in lands unmarked by the footsteps of civilisation. It would have
been well for the honour and glory of Spain had these adventurous
mariners and soldiers been inspired with the spirit of Arthur’s knights,
for then the history of Paraguay would not have begun amidst scenes of
brutality and bloodshed.

The earliest Spanish settlement in Paraguay was at Asuncion, under the
leadership of Dominges Irala, and the treatment which he and his
followers meted out to the Indians was similar to that which the
luckless natives experienced at the hands of the colonists throughout
the continent. The Indians were reduced practically to a state of
slavery by their taskmasters, whose relationships with the tribal women
were of none too scrupulous a character, so that when the Jesuit
missionaries arrived they found many abuses, which they did their best
to abolish. The long period during which the fathers administered the
country was one of comparative peace, and it was only when the religious
order was banished from the country that discord and strife arose.

Paraguay was separated from the province of Buenos Ayres in 1620,
although the government of both States was administered from Lima, the
Peruvian capital. When the spirit of liberation began to stir the
colonies to rebellion against the Spanish government, the enthusiasm of
Bolivar, the Liberator, quickly spread through the length and breadth
of the land, and the mother country, with her national spirit exhausted
and her exchequer depleted by the costly Napoleonic Wars, was incapable
of preventing the secession of her oversea dominions. One by one the
countries, which are all independent republics to-day, broke away from
her rule, and in the year 1811 the autonomy of Paraguay was proclaimed
after a bloodless revolution. This State was the last to join in the
general movement, and then only after having refused the proffered
assistance of the La Plata provinces, even going the length of repulsing
by force the advance of General Belgrano, who came to invite their
co-operation against the Spanish rule.

A few months afterwards, however, they changed their attitude, and
followed the example of the other States. Velasco, the Spanish Viceroy
of the province, made little or no resistance and was allowed to occupy
a position in the new Government.

This first revolution was but the precursor of a long series, not yet
ended, the initial independent Government being soon displaced by
another revolt, bloodless like the first, and a wealthy gaucho--Don
Fulgencio Yegros--became President, occupying the position for a short
period, with Dr. Francia as his adviser. In the following year another
change took place, and Francia became First Consul. For a period of
nearly thirty years this strange personality guided the destinies of the
new State entirely single handed.

Little is known of his origin and early history, but his reign of terror
is remembered to this day, and was a period of much meaning in the
history of the country.

Francia seems to have been of French or Portuguese extraction, and was
educated at Cordova, in Tucuman. His original intention appears to have
been to enter the Church, but he exchanged his theological studies for
those of the law, and on his return to Asuncion soon acquired a
reputation as an upright and honest lawyer, a hater of injustice, and a
hermit. He became one of the chief advisers during the formation of the
republic, and soon rose to the position of the head of the State,
successively styling himself Consul, Dictator, and finally Supreme and
Perpetual Dictator. In this position Francia soon gave evidence of his
remarkable personality, one of his first acts of policy being to isolate
Paraguay from the rest of the world. Erecting guardhouses along its
frontiers and forts upon its rivers, he succeeded in keeping the State
“a field enclosed” all through his long reign. Not a single native was
allowed to leave the country, and the few foreigners who succeeded in
entering had the greatest difficulty in leaving. A few trading vessels
were permitted to enter the river ports, but only when provided with the
Dictator’s licence, and under the most drastic restrictions and
supervision. As the years wore on Francia grew more and more despotic,
retiring within himself and eschewing company until he was as completely
isolated from the rest of his kind as his country was from the rest of
the world.

The masses of the people accepted his fearful rule with docility and
complaisance, but the more educated classes, whose opposition and
political intrigues endangered the tyrant’s supremacy, were treated with
the greatest severity, wholesale executions being of frequent
occurrence.

But against such excesses towards the political classes must be set the
many beneficent measures he inaugurated for preserving the peace and
increasing the prosperity of his country. Obtaining arms from abroad, he
disciplined his soldiers and struck terror into the hearts of the
bandits and highwaymen who infested the territory. He went about the
city making personal surveys, and taking levels in connection with the
improvements he undertook.

Since the expulsion of the Jesuits the Church had sadly deteriorated and
fallen low in its influence for good upon the population, and his
efforts were untiring in endeavouring to arouse the clergy to a proper
sense of their secular duties. He himself held advanced and enlightened
views which inspired him with contempt for the supine Church and its
sensual, indolent priesthood. He never attended Mass, and consistently
refused to profess adherence to a faith in which he had no belief, but
his absolute honesty and devotion to the best interests of his people
were unquestionable, and his methods saved the country from many years
of anarchy. Purging the State of dishonest servants, he set an example
which other republics might follow with advantage, and his benevolence
to the poor and weak was only equalled by his severity towards the rich
and strong.

In appearance this singular man was lean, tall, saturnine, and
forbidding, whilst his qualities were a blend of those associated with
Cromwell, Napoleon, and Robespierre. He filled his subjects with an
abiding dread, and they almost feared to mention his awful name. During
his lifetime he was “El Supremo,” and during the years immediately after
his death he was referred to as “El Defuncto.” Few save his bodyguard
dared to approach him, and when he passed through the streets he ordered
the people to retire within their houses and close all doors and windows
upon pain of death, whilst anyone found loitering in the road leading
from the palace to the barracks of San Francisco, almost the only one he
traversed, was severely beaten by the soldiers. He frustrated numerous
plots made for his assassination, and many weird stories are told of him
and his peculiar relations with his subjects. One old lady used to
relate how when a child she was sent one day to the market-place to buy
oranges, and was returning with her apron filled with them when hastily
turning a corner she came unexpectedly upon the dreaded Dictator. She
immediately fell upon her knees and begged for her life, the oranges
meanwhile scattering in all directions. Francia smiled, and gently said,
“Go, my daughter, you have done no wrong,” then rode upon his way.

On another occasion a funeral procession crossed the road as he
approached, and the bearers immediately dropped the bier, priests and
mourners hiding themselves behind the hedge at the roadside until he had
passed.

When in the year 1820 a plague of locusts (a common scourge of the
country) destroyed all the crops and ruin and starvation stared the
people in the face, the Dictator issued orders to the agriculturists to
at once sow fresh patches of land, enforcing his decree with the threat
of heavy penalties, with the result that a fairly good harvest was
secured, and the discovery made that the country was capable of yielding
two good harvests in each year.

It was only when the hand of death relieved Paraguay from the rule of
the Dictator and tyrant that the people breathed more freely. His body
was interred in the “Iglesia de la Incarnacion” in Asuncion, but the
following day it was discovered that vandal hands had scattered the
bricks of the tomb and removed the remains. What became of them still
remains a mystery, but the explanation of the priests, “that the evil
one had carried them away,” has long ceased to be regarded as
satisfactory.



CHAPTER XXI

_More Modern Times in Paraguay_


The close of Francia’s career opened a fresh chapter in the history of
Paraguay. The position occupied for three decades by an outstanding
personality was not easily filled, and for a time two men, Carlos Lopez
and Mariano Alonzo, ruled as joint Consuls, until the stronger of the
two, Lopez, took the reins of government into his own hands, and secured
for himself the position of President.

His rule was as absolute as that of his great predecessor; but although
he made no drastic changes in the rigorous laws of Francia, he
administered them with more indulgence, and the twenty years during
which he held sway were comparatively uneventful. At his death, in 1862,
it was found that by his will he provided that the government should be
carried on by a triumvirate, which was to include his son Francesco, and
when the presidential election was held the result was a foregone
conclusion, for all the machinery was controlled by the man who was
necessarily successful. It is almost impossible, even at this time of
day, to write with any restraint of Francesco Lopez, a bloodthirsty
monster who had no redeeming quality save, perhaps, his affection for
his mistress, Madame Lynch, and the children she bore him. His exploits
recall the wildest excesses of Tamburlaine or the Spanish despots of the
Dark Ages, and his overweening ambition, fostered by his mistress,
translated itself into a fierce desire to become a leading factor in
South America, and landed his little country into a war which lasted for
nearly six years, and well-nigh wiped out the whole of the male
population of Paraguay.

It is almost incredible, until its many fine natural defences are
considered, that so small a State could hold out for so long against
the combined efforts of three such powerful allies as Brazil, Argentine,
and Uruguay. Had national liberty been the object, the struggle would
have been magnificent, but being undertaken, as it was, to gratify the
caprice of a single man, it was a reprehensible blunder which came
within an ace of losing for Paraguay her independence.

The disputes and dissensions which arose in 1863 between Brazil,
Argentine, and Uruguay with reference to a revolution then in progress
in the latter country, were seized upon by Lopez as an excuse to offer
his services as mediator between the contending parties. This offer was
declined on all hands, for the name of Paraguay was not popular in the
“Plate” at this time, owing to the policy of the former country in
excluding foreigners, and badly treating those who did manage to get in.

[Illustration: A PARAGUAYAN GENTLEMAN.]

Lopez, thus repulsed, seized a Brazilian steamer passing up the river
from Montevideo to Matto Grosso, and converted it into a gunboat for his
own use. His next step was the invasion of Matto Grosso, where
defenceless towns and villages were ruthlessly sacked and burnt. The
details of the long war that followed, the many battles, skirmishes, and
bombardments all sink into insignificance before the conduct of
Francesco Lopez himself. The thin veneer of civilisation he acquired
during his stay in Paris soon wore off, and the traits of the Indian
savage, inherited from his Guycuru ancestors, were displayed in all
their nakedness.

The catalogue of his crimes includes the execution of one of his
brothers and two of his brothers-in-law. Their wives and his own
sisters were imprisoned in cages and covered bullock-carts for months,
being fed through an aperture, as if they were wild beasts, whilst one
of them was stripped nude and driven thus through the streets. His most
intimate friends and best generals were tortured and shot, and the wife
of one general who had surrendered to the enemy was speared by his
orders. He forced his mother, aged seventy, to swear before the altar
that she recognised him only as her child, compelling her to curse the
rest of her children as rebels and traitors. He flouted the nations with
impunity and subjected foreigners, including English and Americans,
living in his capital to the most excruciating tortures. This monster
was killed by the thrust of a lance after his few remaining troops had
been defeated and the country reduced to utter helplessness.

The three allies, Argentine, Brazil, and Uruguay, had by a treaty signed
in 1865 bound themselves to respect and guarantee for a period of five
years the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of
Paraguay, and the new Government which arose from out the ruins
undertook to pay a war indemnity of nearly fifty million pounds
sterling, a debt, it is almost needless to say, that has not been
discharged up to the present time. The jealousies of these erstwhile
allies are the best guarantee of the continued independence of Paraguay,
and even the continual dislocation of business occasioned by the
incessant revolutions in the country does not tempt outsiders to
interfere.

The last two or three years would have been prosperous ones for the
country but for the political unrest which makes it almost impossible
for any development to take place.

In 1910 Señor Gondra was elected President, and formed his ministry; but
he was unfortunate in his choice of Albino Jara for the portfolio of
war. Jara headed a revolution to depose his chief, and in January, 1911,
succeeded in usurping the presidential chair. In a month Gondra started
a counter revolution to regain his lost position, and a fight took
place, in which six or seven hundred Paraguayans, who could ill be
spared, lost their lives. The revolt was unsuccessful, and the chief
officer of Gondra’s party was taken prisoner and shot. Albino Jara does
not seem to have inspired his followers with much attachment, although
he is alleged to have increased the pay of the army, and in July, 1911,
they revolted against his petty tyranny, and he was either persuaded to
leave or was shipped out of the country with a pension and the title of
general. The president of the senate was called upon to fill the place
of President until a new one should be elected, but the role so appealed
to him that he resigned the occupancy of both positions in order to
offer himself as a candidate for a term of the Presidency.

Having secured both nomination and election, Liberado M. Rogas was
installed for the term which ends in November, 1914, but Gondra and his
followers, men of means and position, obtained possession of boats,
guns, and men, and having the sympathy of the best citizens, succeeded
in November, 1911, in obtaining the upper hand. The country was in the
thick of this revolt during my visit, and I saw enough in the short time
I was there to convince me that the lot of the average Paraguayan is far
from enviable, despite his romantic and Arcadian surroundings, where the
sun is always shining and the women have no vote but do all the hard
work. On all hands one heard complaints of the dislocation of trade,
whilst timid folk who were unable to escape out of the country did their
best to hide themselves.

Foreigners in the city had to display the greatest caution in their
relations with the natives. One Englishman, whose son was lying
dangerously ill with typhoid fever, being seen in conversation with the
doctor who was attending the case, was immediately warned by the
authorities not to mix himself up with politics.

Soldiers were posted at the corners of the deserted streets ever ready
to pounce upon likely recruits, and so desperate was the need of the
Government for men that even foreigners were in danger of being pressed
into the service. I met a youth of Italian extraction a few minutes
after he had escaped from the clutches of the Army Board. He had been
stopped in the street by a couple of soldiers and carried off to the
barracks, where he found many acquaintances who had been similarly
captured. He was closely questioned, in Guarani, regarding himself, and
had the presence of mind to feign complete ignorance of that language
and to employ the Spanish in demanding the reason of his detention. A
proficiency in Guarani would have been taken as practical proof that the
speaker was a native. Fortunately this young Italian was provided with
military papers which proved his nationality, and after an irksome and
searching inquiry he was released.

I continually met in the streets detachments of civilians under close
guard on their way to the barracks, and found that shops were closed,
cafés deserted, whilst the population, nervous and apprehensive, kept
themselves in the background. The wharves bristled with armed men, whose
wretched physique and poor clothing gave them anything but a military
appearance, and they seemed more anxious to keep out of harm’s way than
to run any risk of encounter with an enemy.

When the steamers were leaving the port a number of officials went on
board and carefully scrutinised the passengers, who had all to be
provided with passports to enable them to leave the country, and it was
not until the city was left far behind and the town of Villeta safely
passed that the apprehensions of many passengers and fugitives were
dispelled.

This magnificent and rich country is still a wilderness awaiting
development, for its progress during the last fifty years has been so
slow that much remains to be done to bring it into line with the general
advance made by the surrounding republics.



CHAPTER XXII

_A Glance at Brazilian History_


If geographical extent, length of seaboard, variety of resources, number
of cities, constitute the importance of a country, then Brazil may
fairly claim to be the most important State in South America.

It is 2600 miles from north to south, and 2500 miles from east to west,
and has a seaboard extending for 3700 miles. In square mileage it is
exceeded only by the British Empire, Russia, China, and the United
States. It occupies 33 per cent of the whole continent of South America,
for it contains within its borders 3,291,416 square miles. It is the
proud boast of Brazilian authors that their country is in one sense the
most remarkable on the globe, because it is peopled by a single nation,
and not by a heterogeneous medley of races, a contention which is
perhaps not strictly justified, for even in Brazil many different
nationalities go to swell its population, which is quite small for the
tremendous area it occupies. To-day it does not contain more than
eighteen or nineteen millions of inhabitants. Each year sees an
increasing emigration to it, and the nationalities of the new-comers are
over thirty in number. Some become naturalised, many refrain from
bothering about a formality which bestows few advantages and many
obligations. The Brazilian people is made up of three distinct races,
Europeans mostly of Latin origin, indigenous Indians and negroes
imported from Africa. These different races have mixed and bred, and to
some extent have intermarried, and the numerous half-breeds which now
inhabit the country are the result. Half whites and half Indians are
called “Caboclos,” white and Indian “Mameluco,” white and negro
“Mulattos,” the descendants of Mulatto parents “Cascos.” The
full-blooded negro is termed “Creolo,” the cross between them and the
Indians

[Illustration]

“Carboreto.” These are only a few of the many results of these strange
alliances, for there are hundreds of variations resulting from further
matrimonial complications. Yet the Brazilian claims them all as
comprising one nation. Further, there are to-day many strong and settled
colonies of Germans, Italians, and Spaniards in different localities,
particularly in the south, which are at present entirely free from the
admixture of the diverse strains that run all through the central and
northern States. All over Brazil pure negroes still exist, as well as
undiluted Indians, and they have the same rights and privileges as their
lighter-skinned neighbours, and mix with them with a freedom that is
scarcely found in any other country. There is no colour question in
Brazil, no antagonism as in the United States of the north, and it seems
extremely likely that the merging of the diverse races will go on
uninterruptedly until a new type is evolved. When one looks back and
considers the problems that confronted the mere handful of adventurous
Portuguese pioneers who first settled upon this vast continent, it does
not seem at all remarkable that they should have mingled with the races
they found and with the slave women they imported. The rough adventurers
of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries went out to seek their
fortunes in wild countries, and they would hesitate to take their
womenfolk, even if the latter were not loath to go. This led to their
alliances with native and foreign races, and to the population which was
destined to hold, if not to develop, the vast country which lay around
them. The negro, who has a reputation for laziness, has not transmitted
to his descendants any remarkable qualities for activity, unless it be
the irrepressible emotionalism which is characteristic of many of the
inhabitants of Brazil. Nor has the Indian who for such long ages lived
in the most primeval fashion transmitted much initiative. So that what
there is of activity and progress in the race to-day must come from the
Portuguese and other European ancestry. It is an interesting study, full
of suggestion, this of pedigree, even if the student is unsuccessful in
arriving at any definite conclusion. The resources of the country are
enormous, diverse, and practically inexhaustible, but they have been
lying for all the ages hardly touched and generally inadequately worked.
The mixed inhabitants are settled upon lands which shelve down from the
mountains to the Atlantic coast, or along the banks of the mighty
rivers which flow through the impenetrable forests out to sea. There are
vast districts of virgin forest and trackless wild where white man has
never penetrated, and where the aboriginal Indian is just as savage and
untamed as were his ancestors upwards of four centuries ago when
European mariners first landed on their shores. Brazil, as we know it
to-day, or at least the civilised portion of it, was created by
Portugal, and it was one of the distinguished sons of that little nation
who had the honour of being its discoverer. In the year 1500 Pedro
Alvarez Cabral, sailing from Lisbon ostensibly to make an all-sea voyage
to India, diverted his course off the Cape of Good Hope and sailed to
the south-west. Forty-two days after leaving Portugal the eyes of the
adventurous seaman rested upon Mount Paschoal in the State of Bahia.

[Illustration: BEAUTIES AT PERNAMBUCO.]

The event was momentous and the hour propitious, for everything favoured
Portuguese expansion. The independence of the little kingdom was an
accomplished fact, and the possibility of absorption of it by Spain was
a remote contingency. The Moors, driven out of the Iberian Peninsula and
hurled back to their native Africa, were no longer a menace. In addition
to this the Portuguese were quick to perceive that a new era was dawning
upon the world, and they were determined to have a hand in the shaping
and controlling the future destinies of the newly discovered continent.
The conquest and colonisation of Brazil were a national corollary to the
earlier discoveries of Portuguese navigators. Cabral, with his
companions, was at first inclined to believe that they had struck upon
another island similar to those recently discovered in the Caribbean
seas by their Spanish rivals, and he christened it, after the fashion of
the period, “The Island of the True Cross,” and it was only when the
geographical error was realised that the name was altered to Brazil.
This name had been used long before, for a western island of the Azores
was named “De Brazi,” being derived from the red dye woods which grow so
plentifully in tropical latitudes.

[Illustration: NEAR RIO.]

Following immediately upon the discovery of “Brazil” by Cabral and the
nominal possession of it by the Crown of Portugal, expeditions were
sent, and in two of these the celebrated Amerigo Vespucci took part. He
built a fort at Cape Frio, and was so struck by the loveliness of the
surrounding country that he thought he was in the region of an earthly
paradise. Voyagers on their way to the Indies began to touch upon the
Brazilian coast, and it soon became explored by navigators of different
nationalities. Portugal, jealous of her rights, had to protect it from
the traders of France, who were beginning to have dealings with the
natives upon its shores, and in 1527 a post was established for the
protection of Portuguese interests. This fort or garrison at Pernambuco
was the scene of one or two raids by both French and English seamen,
and which hastened the Portuguese Crown to take serious steps to occupy
the new territory in a more imposing manner. In 1531 Martin Affonso,
with a fleet and about 300 colonists, landed at Pernambuco, and coasted
down in the Bay of Rio, and to the mouth of the bay where Santos now
stands. On behalf of the Crown he divided the land out into sections,
running from the coast into the interior indefinitely, and these were
granted to nobles of the Court, who were so unsuccessful in developing
their concessions that they were allowed to revert to the Crown. The
Portuguese, unlike their Spanish rivals, made no great expeditions into
the hinterland of their new colony, and were slow to bring the Indians
under their rule. The vastness of the country, and the ease with which
the natives could withdraw from the invaders, made it necessary for the
governors who were planted up and down the coast to have recourse to the
importation of negro slaves from Africa to the northern provinces.
Gradually the traders made journeys into the interior, generally along
the rivers, to trade with natives, and villages took root; but the
greater part of the population settled upon the coasts in such towns as
Pernambuco, Bahia, Rio, Espirito Santo, São Paulo, etc.

Of course there were rapacious traders who tried to exact too much from
the natives, but a salutary check against their tyranny was soon
provided by the Jesuits. These enthusiastic and energetic followers of
Loyola have left a deep and abiding mark on nearly all the South
American communities. They built churches, founded schools, and taught
the Indians the arts of agriculture, and all that they asked in return
was obedience and conformity with the rites of the Church. The
“Paulistas,” as the lay settlers were termed, saw in Jesuit influence an
obstacle to their own domination over the supply of native labour, and
conflicts between the religious and secular powers lasted for more than
a century, the mother country sometimes siding with one faction and
sometimes with the other. But the priests persisted with that zeal which
is the traditional mark of their order, and suffered persecution,
privation, and even death, rather than relinquish their mission.
Vestiges of their work are still to be found in many parts of Brazil and
neighbouring States, notably in the place-names, which are often derived
from the saints, symbols, and sacraments of the Church.

In the welter of South American politics Brazil has suffered those
frequent changes of government which have been the fate of every
republic existing in the sub-continent to-day. The first European
country to contest the claim of Portugal to this vast territory was
France. But although an island in the Bay of Rio was occupied by some
French troops in 1515, the danger of permanent French rule was never a
strong probability, and it was not long before the invaders were
dislodged. A more serious phase of its history was when, in the year
1581, Philip II of Spain united the two kingdoms in the Peninsula, and
the affairs of the Brazilian colony were directed from headquarters at
Madrid.

It was the Dutch who next had a shot for the prize of supremacy in
Brazil, and a very successful shot it was. Spain had by this time passed
the zenith of her prosperity, and was “hasting to her setting.” Holland
was becoming a predominant maritime power in Europe, and her companies
and adventurers were resolutely determined to establish empires both in
the Orient and the Western Hemisphere, and some of the settlements which
they founded in those vigorous years own allegiance to the Dutch flag
to-day.

Holland sent her best sailors to Brazil, and for a time it looked as if
the dominion not only of Spain but of Portugal also was ended in that
quarter of the globe. For a time the Dutch were practically complete
masters of many of the principal provinces. But the Brazilians had a
spirit of their own, and never at any time showed a disposition to
submit tamely to the encroachments of the Dutch. When the successful
revolution in Portugal threw off the Spanish domination in 1640, and the
Duke of Braganza was proclaimed King of Portugal, under the title of Dom
João IV, and was recognised as the rightful sovereign to all the
Portuguese possessions not under Dutch control, an armistice was signed
between Holland and Portugal. But that did not affect the Brazilians
overmuch; they continued their strenuous attempts to get rid of the
Dutch. The people of Maranhão rose in revolt in 1642, and the
Pernambucans followed suit in 1645. The battles that followed were
adverse to the Dutch arms, and finally the commander, General van
Schoppe, had to capitulate, all the fortresses still occupied by the
Dutch being turned over to the King of Portugal.

It is perhaps as well for both countries that Holland had to relax her
hold, for the Brazilians were separated from their Dutch conquerors by
the differences of language, and the still more vital differences of
religion. Protestantism is not understood in the South American
republics, and therefore any attempts by Holland to make the Brazilians
conform to the tenets of the Reformed Church could only have ended in
signal failure. The fierce Latin spirit was well manifested by the great
leader of the Brazilian revolt, Juan Fernandez Vievia, when at the
battle of Tabocas he urged his troops against the alien invaders with
the words, “Portuguese! At the heretics! God is with us!”

[Illustration: THE RAILWAY UP TO CORCOVADA.]

Out of this victorious struggle with the Dutch, Brazil emerged a nation,
though it was not for some time yet that she was to forswear the
suzerainty of Portugal and declare her own autonomy.

The next stage in her variegated history is a quiet one. During the
remainder of the seventeenth and the whole of the eighteenth century the
connection with Portugal was maintained undisturbed, and the period of
calm was occupied by the colonists to penetrate farther and farther
into the interior, spreading agriculture, increasing existing crops and
raising new ones.

[Illustration: COMING DOWN FROM CORCOVADA.]

A big development came during the early years of the nineteenth century.
The Napoleonic wars had caused all kinds of disruptions and
complications, and naturally Portugal, which was in the thick of the
struggle, could not escape them. The Prince Regent, Dom João VI, began
to find Lisbon too hot to hold him, and he transferred the Court to Rio
de Janeiro in 1808. The Brazilians received him well, but his reign
there was not happy. When affairs in the home country became more quiet
the monarch’s counsellors in Lisbon urged his return, and with that
request he complied, his son, Dom Pedro, remaining at Rio as Prince
Regent. Signs were abundantly evident that the spirit of nationhood had
established itself very firmly in the hearts of the Brazilian people,
and that they were not prepared to brook interference from the Court in
Lisbon, which was constantly acting in a high-handed and arbitrary
manner. Many national leaders of eminence arose, and it was not long
before a declaration of independence was made, and Portugal did little
or nothing to prevent the severance. But Dom Pedro, who, whatever his
faults may have been, had a national resilience of mind, determined to
stop with the reformers, and his reward came when he was promoted to the
headship of the State under the imposing title of Emperor.

A digression may be made here touching the strain of insanity which
characterised this particular Royal line. One action of Dom João’s is
almost as incredible as it is gruesome. He ordered that his mother, who
had started her career by marrying her uncle and ended it in an asylum
in Brazil, should not be buried for six years.

If the body had been embalmed that would have been nothing unusual, but
the Portuguese law prescribes such treatment only for males of the Royal
house. When João found himself back in Lisbon he gave orders for his
mother’s body to be brought from Brazil and buried with state ceremony;
the Queen, be it noted, had been six years dead!

Here is an eye-witness’s account of the awful spectacle: “The next day
the Church of the Estrella overflowed with spectators, and the corpse
was exposed in full court dress, while the nobility came successively to
kiss the hand!... Two of the young princesses were appointed by the King
to the high honour of presiding, and four ladies-in-waiting performed
the enviable office of tire-women to the corpse. It had been brought
over from Brazil enclosed in three coffins, the inner one of lead, where
it was laid, surrounded by aromatic herbs, gems, and essences.... One of
the princesses fainted twice, and was too ill to reappear; but her
sister was obliged to remain, while the ladies raised the body and
completely reclothed it in a black robe, a dress cap, gloves, shoes, and
stockings, and adorned it with four splendid orders upon the heart.”
This throws a lurid light on the attitude still shown to the dead in
some Latin-American countries. The bodies of the rich are treated with
garish pomp; the bodies of the poor with shameful neglect, if not with
contumely.

[Illustration: THE CHURCH OF THE CANDELIERA, RIO.]

Dom Pedro I was a daring, dashing monarch, with mercurial blood running
in his veins. His attempts to establish absolutism irritated the
Brazilians, who had now advanced too far along the path of political
freedom to tolerate that sort of thing; so, in the struggle between
people and ruler, the ruler got the worst of it. In 1831, cowed by the
determined front which the troops and civilians presented, Pedro I
abdicated in favour of his infant son, Dom Pedro de Atcantara. His was a
curious type of character, and the most that can be said of him is that
he made a showy figure on the South American stage, where showy figures
have in the past been so abundant. His faults were not only political;
in his private life he was far from being a paragon.

Pedro II was only five years old when he succeeded to the throne of
Brazil, and for ten years the country was governed by a regency of three
members elected by the legislative chambers, and latterly by one chosen
by the electors. As might be surmised, things did not go smoothly, and
many risings, revolts, and intrigues embarrassed the Government, which,
however, was successful in quelling them for the time being. In 1840,
the King being fifteen years of age, he was declared to be of legal age,
and he started on his long and popular reign. Two political parties
represented the people, the Liberals and Conservatives, and alternately
they obtained the ascendancy and grasped the ruling power. The civil
wars which raged and distracted the country in the southern State of Rio
Grande were followed by the terrible struggle with Paraguay, which was
not concluded till 1872. The agitation for the abolition of the slave
trade in 1850 was but the precursor of the total abolition of slavery
itself nearly forty years afterwards. For years the voices of the
abolitionists were raised in the Houses of Congress, with the result
that first the trade was abolished (1857), next the declaration that
slave-born children were free (1871), and finally all slaves were given
their absolute liberty (1888). These drastic changes in the economical
conditions of labour in the country were not brought about without much
opposition. Great losses were incurred by the planters and
slave-owners,[3] who, bitterly opposed to the liberation, turned hostile
to the Emperor when he signed the decree, and opposed the claims they
urged for compensation. The loss of the support of this wealthy and
influential class was an important factor in the overthrow of the
monarchy. But the spirit of republicanism which had been engendered by
the French Revolution was growing in Brazil and two or three attempts
had already been made to establish free institutions in the country. The
Republican party had been organised for some years, and an opportunity
occurred, and the combination of the anti-monarchists brought about the
declaration of the republic in 1889. The feeble old Emperor recognised
the strength of the forces arrayed against him, and, powerless to resist
the trend of circumstances, he took his congé gracefully. In reply to
the communication of the Marshal Deodoro du Fonseca, which informed the
Emperor of the intention of the new republic and of his dismissal, he
wrote: “Yielding to the imperiousness of circumstances I have resolved
to set out with my family to-morrow for Europe, leaving this country so
dear to us all, and to which I have endeavoured to give constant proof
of my love during the nearly half a century in which I have discharged
the office of chief of State: while thus leaving with my whole family I
shall ever retain for Brazil the most heartfelt affection and ardent
good wishes for her prosperity.”

The new republic with Marshal Deodoro at its head soon got to work, and
a constitutional Assembly was organised to compile the constitution of
the republic. This was published in the early part of 1891, and in the
latter part of the same year the first President was obliged to resign
owing to the trouble that arose over his arbitrary unconstitutional
closing of the Congress. The army and navy were against the “dictator,”
and the States threatened revolt, and peace was only restored when the
Vice-President, Floriano Peixoto, took the Presidency. More conspiracies
and revolts followed in several of the States, and the navy openly
defied the Government, Admiral de Mello demanding the President’s
resignation and surrender. Rio and Nictheroy were in a state of siege,
and the army placed in positions to defend and keep open the entrance to
the harbours. Rio was bombarded, and general disorder prevailed, and
civil war raged all over the republic. The “Iron Marshal,” as Peixoto is
sometimes called, succeeded eventually in quelling the revolting
factors, and owing to the general desire he relinquished the reins of
office to Dr. Prudente de Morales, a President who was acceptable to all
classes, and who was elected without opposition in 1894. There have been
eight Presidents since the republic was inaugurated, and under each the
country, in spite of many internal dissensions, has made great strides.

Brazil is destined to assume in the future a far greater importance in
the comity of nations than it can boast at present. Its people have no
mean record behind them; they have shown a passion for independence and
an increasing capacity for government, which argues well for the
building up of that great edifice which is certain sooner or later to
arise in South America. That they are capable of military valour was
demonstrated many times over during the war with Paraguay. The chief
need of the country is population, and when the other States emulate the
example of São Paulo and invite and encourage emigration Brazil will
advance with more rapid strides to the great goal that awaits her.

[Illustration: THE FALLS OF TOMBOS IN THE STATE OF RIO.]



CHAPTER XXIII

“_A City of Paradise_”


Rio has one of the most enviable positions in the world. The only other
site occupied by a city of any magnitude that can compare to it is that
of Sydney, in New South Wales. But Rio harbour has perhaps superior
claims to loveliness than that of Sydney by reason of the endless
mountain peaks that encompass its vast waters. The innumerable islands
that rise up out of the rippled surface are richly clad with all the
varieties of a tropical vegetation. The views are endless, each seeming
to challenge comparison with any rival. Language almost fails to
describe the beauty of the scenery. The infinite variety of the shapes
and contours of its bays and islands as seen from the summit of
Corcovada is an ever fruitful source of charm. Ships are but mere dots
upon its surface when viewed from the distant heights of the surrounding
hills, battleships but tiny specks and smaller craft invisible to the
naked eye. The harbour is one of the largest and safest in the world,
with an entrance nearly a mile in width. This entrance lies between a
rugged mountain chain that encircles all the bay and two forts, the São
Joã and the Sante Cruz, guard the passage into these bewitching waters.
All around are the eternal hills, grotesque and strangely shaped, and
covered with the lively greens of tropical verdure. No artist’s eye is
required to appreciate the concentrated splendour under the changing
lights and shadows, the marvellous panorama is veritably superb, and the
islets in the great bay might well be those imagined by Tennyson,
“Summer isles of Eden lying in dark purple spheres of sea.” The
landscapes could only possibly be properly delineated by a panorama on a
gigantic scale, but even the most perfect would fail to excite the mind
in any degree approximating to the actuality. The subtle aspects of
exotic

[Illustration: ENTRANCE TO RIO HARBOUR.]

growth and vegetation, the wild, disordered beauty of nature’s
arrangements, the rich-growing wilderness of tropical greenery that
springs up everywhere is past belief. When examined closer, the
vegetation upon the islands and the mountain slopes is bewildering in
its profusion. The colour of all nature, under the tropical sun which
shines through the misty haze of the moist heated atmosphere, is full of
mystery and charm. The forms that the giant trees assume, with
innumerable parasites clinging to them, are indescribable. Tall palms,
feathery bamboos wafted by the gentlest breezes, give a sense of life
even on the calmest days. Rio is a fitting mistress for an exuberant
poet, for he could never weary of versing her charms, extolling her
exceeding beauty, or revelling in her enchantment. Its shores and its
mountain slopes, the fascination of their varied aspects, provoke his
enthusiasm at every turn. They possess wonders that can never stale,
charms that can never tire. Even if this world-famed harbour is entered
when night has hidden the wonders of its mountains from view, the scene
is most impressive; the countless lights from the houses that twinkle
like ground stars along the shores of Rio and Nictheroy, up the
hill-sides and from the hundreds of boats that lie scattered in the bay,
form an arrangement of singular loveliness. The lights on the shore
follow the lines of the new esplanade, Avenida Beira-mar, from the city
right out to Botofogo, and on the other side of the bay, those of
Nictheroy twinkle back to them. Small steam launches, distinguishable
only by their lights, rush about, and the air is filled with the
shrieking of their whistles and sirens. The arrival of a mail steamer at
night is the occasion for this nocturnal activity on the part of boatmen
ever on the look-out to pick up a good fare, and as the mail steamers
lie far out from the landing stage, passengers have no choice but to
avail themselves of these harbour pirates, whose craft flock round the
gangways as soon as the ship comes to anchor. Fire balloons float in the
air, and rockets hiss and leave their trail of sparks behind them, as
they rush on their upward flight.

It was on New Year’s Day, 1502, that Goncalo Coelho and his crew sailed
into this silent bay. Theirs were not the first eyes to behold its
wonders, for they found its shores peopled by a wild, savage race, who
lived in their rude villages set amongst the fairest of surroundings.
The bay was christened by the Portuguese “Rio de Janeiro,” or “River of
January.” This name, which is in no way applicable to the bay, which has
no river near it, is a matter for some surprise. The investigations of
the Portuguese must have been of a very cursory nature, for they do not
seem to have remained long enough to grasp the extent of the harbour
they had discovered. They named it, however, and the name has stuck, and
even the natives of Rio to-day are called “Fluminenses,” after the river
that does not exist. The flat ground which winds round the foot of the
hills, and upon which the city now stands, was formerly a mangrove
swamp, of which nothing remains to-day. The city now covers an area of
eight to nine square miles, and has nearly a million inhabitants. For
centuries almost, indeed, until the beginning of the present one, the
city, although in such beautiful surroundings, was extremely dirty and
badly laid out. The streets were mean and shabby, for even the
fashionable and prosperous Rua do Ouvidor is a mere alley. During the
early part of the last century the city was proverbial for its
filthiness, but it

[Illustration: THE SUMMIT OF CORCOVADA, RIO.]

gradually emerged from its grime and squalor, its streets were paved,
and its sanitation improved. But it was not until the beginning of the
present century that the Government and people awoke and with a feverish
energy set about rebuilding and beautifying their city, until it was
transformed out of all recognition. Hundreds of narrow, dirty streets
have been pulled down, to make way for the Avenida Central, a long
avenue of fine buildings which would grace any of the great cities of
the modern world. Many of the worst streets in the city have been swept
away, and in their place broad thoroughfares full of fine, if somewhat
ornate buildings, have been laid down. To-day there are miles of
spacious boulevards and shaded avenues, with well-paved asphalt roads
and walks, all lit by electricity. The magnificent Avenida Beira-mar,
which runs from the southern end of the Avenida Central to Botofogo, a
distance of nearly five miles, has few equals in the world. Along its
asphalt track countless motor-cars race at a breakneck speed. Fine
residences have been erected along this avenue, the “art nouveau” styles
of France and Germany being the most popular. The modern houses in the
suburbs of Rio make up in depth what they lack in width, and they have
fine suites of rooms tastefully decorated and furnished with the latest
fashions. The

[Illustration: “THE SILENT BAY.”]

extravagantly ornamental frontages evince the Brazilian taste for show
and showy things. The town is very straggling and winding, on account of
the many hills that break into the plateau on which the city stands. But
the vistas and views that the irregularity of the plan introduces are an
ample compensation for the detours round the buttresses of the mountain
range. At the end of the Avenida stands a very graceful white building,
the Monroe Palace, in which the Pan-American Congress was held in 1906,
and a little further down the magnificent Municipal Theatre, modelled
somewhat on the lines of the Paris Opera House. The best companies from
Paris and the Continent find in it a stage and auditorium equal to
anything they have been accustomed to. Unfortunately, the municipal
authorities have not equipped their expensively built Opera Palace with
scenery to match. The stage properties are exceedingly inadequate and
inappropriate for such a theatre, and the companies who sometimes
perform in it. The stage is enormous, and the actors’ dressing and
retiring rooms lofty and well devised. The interior is handsomely
decorated although it is hardly equal to the new theatre in São Paulo,
which is the finest theatre in South America. At the other side of the
Avenida Central stands the new National Library, which contains a
quarter of a million volumes, and next to it the Palace of Fine Arts,
both imposing buildings. In the latter there is plenty of room for more
works of art. There are in the Avenida many handsome buildings and many
styles; the newspaper offices are conspicuous, those of _La Paiz_, _The
Journal do Commercio_, and the _Journal do Brazil_ stand out
prominently from other buildings. The large classic building with
gilded capitals at the northern extremity of this avenue, is the
Treasury, which was built to hold the gold bullion, held as guarantee
against the paper currency of the republic. The “Ouvidor,” which,
although renamed, still goes by its original appellation, is a narrow,
crowded thoroughfare. Its shops are among the best in the city, however,
and the fashionable inhabitants throng its pavements in the afternoons.
It holds much the same position in Rio as the “Florida” does in Buenos
Ayres, although it is not so extensive as the latter. Perhaps the most
striking feature in both of these streets is the enormous prices charged
for their wares. The fashions from Paris find a ready sale in Rio, and
the more daring they are the greater are their chances of success.
Nothing in a French mode would shock a “Fluminense,” but they are very
particular in seeing that their wives and daughters are properly
escorted when they go abroad. A young lady would never dream of walking
or even talking in public to a male friend of the family unless a proper
chaperon were present. The old, almost Oriental, customs of Portugal and
Spain still persist, even in their emancipated colonies. Until women are
treated with more respect and less suspicion they will never have the
influence upon the country that they undoubtedly possess in other
civilised lands. The social functions in Rio are many and varied. During
the winter months of June, July, and August many dances and receptions
are given by the different clubs, such as the “Naval,” “Military,” and
“Engineers,” as well as by the legations and by private persons. These
functions are attended by all the notables, and form the principal
entertainments of the city. Every night the social Brazilian butterflies
of fashion have somewhere to go, and the gatherings are very largely
attended by foreigners and visitors. Birthday parties are really
popular, and at these crushes the host is usually overwhelmed with
embraces and gifts, the latter compensating in some measure for the
trying ordeal of standing for hours receiving speeches and replying to
them. The Brazilian inherits from his Latin ancestors the gifts of a
fluent speaker, and is very ready to give a free play to this talent,
which the slightest occasion will provoke him to display. At the private
theatricals, plays and playlets are generally given in French and
children are pushed forward to show their skill, which

[Illustration: A SUBURBAN STREET, RIO.]

is warmly appreciated by their elders. Enthusiastic and unstinted praise
is lavished upon their efforts. Art, literature, music, and the sciences
find many devotees in Brazilian society, and even the driest of lectures
is patiently listened to by large audiences of both sexes. Music they
love, but poetry is their passion. There are few amongst the educated
classes in Rio who do not at some time or other in their lives compose
odes, sonnets, or lyrics, and feel prouder of their poetic achievements
than of any other. Almost every man of the better classes is a Dr., and
foreigners above the rank of labourers and artisans are generally
accepted as possessing this distinction at least. It may be that it is
only politeness and not ignorance that bestows this title upon
strangers, and it should be looked upon as an intended compliment. The
Brazilian is warm-hearted, generous, punctilious in the observances of
the most formal etiquette, and although he can unbend with the freedom
of a schoolboy, care must always be taken not to trespass upon this
characteristic, or to wound his inordinate vanity. Many of them who have
travelled and had the advantages of superior education through
intercourse with the public men and leaders of society of other
countries, have a greater dignity and wider sympathies, and are less
likely to make the mistakes of their less fortunate fellow-countrymen,
who cannot see their limitations or realise their national defects. The
rapid realisation of the wealth of the enormous States of Brazil shows
to most advantage in Rio, for the moneyed classes, governors, and
politicians of all the vast territory forgather in the capital. The
Brazilians are impetuous, and very ready to embark upon great
undertakings, many of which are only practicable in their fervid
imaginations. They have been held back by the long, unprogressive policy
of their mother country Portugal and the severe handicap of slavery.
Even under the Empire small progress was made, considering the size of
their country and the extensiveness of their resources. But since the
establishment of the republic, although there have been many ups and
downs and serious difficulties to encounter, they have contrived to make
great headway. The rejuvenation of Rio in the short space of ten years
is sufficient to demonstrate what can be done by a determined people,
and it is little wonder that when they regard the revolution they have
already wrought, they should let their imaginations run to flights that
make an ordinary mind giddy. The governing classes have a population of
half-breeds to deal with, and bring into line with modern progress, and
with such material it is difficult to rapidly accomplish great things.
The importation of European labour may help them to carry many of their
cherished schemes into effect, but it will take years ere the immense
stretches of unexplored territory are brought to yield to the world one
tittle of their indisputable riches. The practical difficulties that the
republic has to face are many, and the very vastness of its sparsely
populated territory is not the least. The Federal Government and those
of the autonomous States do not always see eye to eye, and the needs and
interests of the outlying States are so diversified that it requires
great governmental wisdom to hold them all together. That the Federal
capital should be the seat of political intrigue is only natural, and
States that are largely settled with colonists from every part of Europe
are faced with the conflicting interests and desires of neighbours with
whom they have little in common. Politics enter largely into the life of
the Federal capital. Ever since the first Brazilian Parliament

[Illustration: AVENIDA BEIRA-MAR, RIO.]

met there in 1826, under the Empire of Pedro I, Liberal ideas emanating
from the Parliaments of the world have met with the approval of the best
intellects of the capital. Republican tendencies were fostered by men
whose eyes were turned upon the trend of politics in Europe and the
United States, and the newly forming republics of South America.
Revolutions and revolts occurred in the different States with an
alarming frequency. Wars with neighbouring republics cost the Federal
exchequer many millions, and held back industrial progress. The
emancipation of the slaves was no more popular with the planters and
agriculturists in Brazil than it was with the same classes in the
Southern States of North America, or in the West Indian Islands, and it
took time to bring about such a drastic economic change. The Chamber of
Deputies was formerly the old palace of the Emperor, and stands near the
Caes Pharoux. It is not a pretentious building, nor are the appointments
such as might be expected, but a new Parliament House is projected. The
entrance or antechamber is at the top of an old mahogany staircase, and
the walls are covered with photographs more or less faded of deputies
past and present. An old-fashioned carpet covers the floor of this
landing, which gives entrance to the chamber and to the “Cabinete do
Presidente.” The deputies pass through a small cloak-room to the floor
of the House, a square chamber with seats and benches arranged in a
semicircle. Upon a raised platform facing the deputies sits the
President of the chamber, a brilliant green curtain trimmed with yellow,
the national colours, forming a background. Electric fans whir on either
side. Dark-coloured porters and messengers walk in and out, and seem at
times to outnumber the deputies. Outside in another antechamber, crowds
of citizens wait patiently to interview the deputies on different
subjects, but generally to obtain some favour. The eloquence of the
deputies is their strong point, and the speeches are long, and delivered
with great vehemence. Men of all grades of colour sit cheek by jowl,
very reminiscent of some country court house in a West Indian Island.
The Senate Chamber is situated some distance away on one side of the
beautiful “Praca Republica,” the finest garden in this lovely city. The
palace of the President, formerly the Palacite do Friburgo, stands in a
broad thoroughfare, Rua Cattete, to the north of the city, and although
it has a beautiful garden at the side and back of it, it is not very
imposing. On the balustrade at the top are four stone eagles with
outstretched wings, otherwise the building offers no particular
features. Inside the waiting-rooms are crowded on audience days with
every class of the inhabitants, who patiently wait their turn and
chances to interview the head of the Government. The ancient palace of
Itamarity, where the Minister of Foreign Affairs resides when in Rio, is
modest and unattractive externally, and does not indicate in any way the
magnificence of the interior, admirably fitted for the reception and
entertainment of distinguished diplomats and visitors. It contains a
ballroom decorated with hangings and upholsteries of emerald-green and
gold, a reception-room carried out in yellow, another in rose colour,
whilst a corridor running along the outside of the fine library
overlooks a garden where palms and exotic flowers abound. The late Baron
do Rio Branco had in this palace many and valuable souvenirs of his
travels and illustrious acquaintances, amongst them a large seascape
painted by the unfortunate King Carlos of Portugal, who presented it to
the “Baron.” The Baron de Rio Branco was for many years an idol of the
people of Rio, and enjoyed the reputation amongst them of being a great
authority upon all matters pertaining to foreign affairs. He was perhaps
one of the few men of his time who looked his part to perfection,
bearing a slight physical resemblance to the famous Bismarck. He held
aloof from the internal politics of his country, and for twelve years
held his office in spite of changes of Government and Presidents. His
aloofness from the mob of politicians, whose clamourings and wranglings
he seemed to despise, placed him in a peculiar position, whilst his
efforts to enlarge his country’s dominions and strengthen her army won
him the admiration and gratitude of all classes. He tried to establish a
“German military mission” to Brazil, and although he was unsuccessful,
his advocacy of German instructors for the army may still bear fruit.
That the army and navy of Brazil require to be imbued with a stronger
sense of military duty than they at present possess is amply exemplified
by the many acts of insubordination they have been guilty of in recent
years.

[Illustration: THE SUGAR-LOAF BY NIGHT, RIO.]

The notable improvements in the Federal capital were carried out under
President Penna. He was fortunate in having some

[Illustration: A BIT OF RIO HARBOUR.]

of the ablest men in Brazil in his ministry, who, with the assistance of
the best engineers and architects in the country, set about the
reconstruction of the city. Dr. Lauro Muller (the present Minister for
Foreign Affairs) was responsible for the general plan of the
improvements, and his scheme was worked out in detail by Dr. Paul de
Frontin, one of the most talented and all-round engineers in the
republic, and at present the General Manager of the Central Railway, the
largest in Brazil. Dr. Frontin has had a career crowded with many
successes, and he still finds time to fill the professional chair of
mechanics and astronomy in the National Gymnasium. He has been
associated with nearly all the big engineering schemes in the republic
of recent years, and has built canals, railways, bridges, waterworks,
and docks, as well as opening out the avenues of the capital, which
necessitated the removal of hills that to many would have been
mountains. He has done much to make the new Rio almost worthy of its
magnificent setting. In Rio the automobile has almost supplanted the
“Tilburies,” those curious, old-fashioned gigs, capable of holding only
one passenger, who sits beside the

[Illustration: THE GAVEA, RIO.]

driver, a few specimens of which may still be seen plying for hire.
Electric tramways (called, curiously enough, the “Bond,” by the natives,
who associate them with the bonds that were issued for the capital of
the first companies) run through the winding city and distant suburbs.
These tramways are run by the Rio de Janeiro Light and Power Company,
which owns extensive concessions and properties throughout the State,
including some twenty-two miles of territory on either bank of the
Parahyba River, seventy-five miles distant from the city of Rio, and an
installation fifty miles from the capital, where the Lages River passes
through a narrow ravine about three hundred feet wide, betwixt solid
rock. Here a dam has been constructed, so that the waters above are
formed into a lake fifteen miles long by some seven or eight miles wide.
From this huge reservoir the water is conducted a distance of one and a
half miles through steel tubes to a power-house some thousand feet
below in elevation, providing an enormous power for the generation of
electricity both for motor and lighting purposes in the city.

The cars run out to the Botanical Gardens, among the most beautiful in
the world, and much favoured by climate. As they are approached tall
palms are seen that mark their boundary near the border of the great
Lake Rodrigo do Frietas, a curious piece of water separated from the
Atlantic by a narrow strip of land over which great billows break during
a storm. The gardens cover two thousand acres. The avenue of royal palms
is half a mile in length, and gives a strongly marked character to these
gardens. Fountains and arbours, rustic bridges and ponds, rivulets and
waterfalls add to the charm of this sylvan spot. At the foot of the hill
grow great clumps of bamboos, whose trembling leaves bend down the
pliant stems till they meet and form an arch overhead. The bases of
these stems have grown to great proportions, and are so close together
that they form an almost solid mass. Narrow shafts of light stream
through the roof of leaves, and pattern the path with many curious
forms. An infinite variety of ferns abound of lovely shades of green and
beautiful design. But for the incessant buzzings of mosquitoes and flies
the spot would be perfect. Lizards dart across the ground and birds flit
twittering through the trees, and in the sparkling sunlight, brilliantly
coloured humming-birds flutter round strange flowers. Butterflies soar
high and so rapidly that they can easily be mistaken for birds. Near by
a small waterfall that makes rippling music stands a tall palm protected
by railings; it is the parent of all the palms in Rio, and sprang from a
seed planted in 1808 by João VI, whose bust stands on a pedestal in
close proximity.

Another favourite car ride takes one to Tijuca, a suburb situated six
miles distant on a beautifully wooded hill, from which extensive views
of the city and harbour are obtainable. This suburb contains many summer
residences, and abounds with beautiful walks and sylvan paths twining
amidst cascades that sparkle in the sunlight.

Other suburbs, Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leme, outside the harbour and on
the Atlantic seaboard, are also connected by car routes with the centre
of the city, and are popular holiday resorts.

[Illustration: THE BOTANICAL GARDENS.]



CHAPTER XXIV

_Vianna_


Amongst the hundreds of islands in the Bay of Rio, there are two which
have special claims upon the attention of visitors to Rio, as well as on
the gratitude of all good Brazilians.

Vianna and Santa Cruz are two islands lying in the north-west corner of
the bay, about an hour’s run from the Caes Pharoux, the picturesque
landing-stage and promenade of Rio. The journey across the bay is full
of interest; indeed there is not a nook, corner, or islet of the great
harbour that does not call forth some expression of admiration,
surprise, or pleasure. The surrounding hills are ever changing in
expression, and give a sense of security and protection to the shipping,
large and small, that can never crowd the vast waters. Past the Islas de
Cobras, with its naval barracks perched high up on a rocky base of
grass-grown rock, the town grows smaller and smaller, until its wharves
and buildings are lost in the distant haze. When the island of Vianna is
reached, further surprise is in store for the visitor. Its owner, Senr.
Antonio Lage, is the descendant of a French family, and calls himself a
Brazilian, but he is really a cosmopolitan who can speak perfectly at
least three languages, and who has relationships with distinguished
foreigners in many lands. His life story is a Brazilian romance. His
grandfather bought the island of Vianna in the harbour in 1856, to
obtain the stone to build up warehouses on another island, Enxadas,
which he had acquired in 1836 from the friars, whose convent still
exists upon the island. In the warehouses he built, his son carried on
the business of bonded warehouseman. Owing to the failure of a banking
firm in 1864 the warehouse business was involved, and but for the
intervention of an English house, Stephen Busk and Co., the Lages’
business must have ceased.

[Illustration: END OF SANTA CRUZ.]

Through this assistance they were able to carry on. They rented the
island and kept the business going until 1881. In the following year the
company of Lage Bros. was formed, and they came over to Vianna, their
former quarry, and started operations. That was thirty years ago. At
first the island was used as a coal depot and bonded warehouse, and
although some changes were made, it was not until after the declaration
of the republic that things began to move. The constitution of the
United States of Brazil, in Article 13 of the first title, enacts that
“the rights of legislation on the part of the Union and of the States in
regard to railways and the navigation of inland waters shall be
regulated by Federal enactment” and that “the coastwise trade shall be
carried on in national bottoms only.” Lage Bros, entered into
negotiations with Lamport and Holt, who at that time had a fleet of
coastal steamers running in the Brazils, and purchased their steamers. A
company was formed, which began navigating on a small scale. They
started with four steamers, and when the revolution broke out in 1893
their fleet had increased to eighteen, two of which were express
steamers, which ran between Rio and Rio Grande de Sul (Port Alegre),
making the journey in forty-eight hours. The new line was hardly
established when the political upheaval in 1893 disturbed all the
commercial activities of the new republic. The first President, General
Deodoro, was driven from power, and great unrest

[Illustration: AN OLD CHURCH NEAR RIO.]

prevailed in Rio. The next President, Floriano Peixoto, was in his turn
intrigued against, and the navy fell into the hands of the rebels, and
poor Rio had to endure the ignominy of a six months’ intermittent
bombardment. The Government, in order to prevent fresh sources of
strength falling into the hands of the rebels, ordered one of the Lage
express steamers, which was then lying in dry dock, to be burnt, and
purchased the other for transport purposes. During this trying time the
island of Vianna was not left unmolested by the rebel navy. They had
been accustomed to go to Vianna for repairs, and they knew how well the
warehouses upon it were stocked with stores and provisions for the
coastal service. They were not long in taking possession of it, and were
well set up with all they required to keep them going. The greatest
difficulty the revolutionaries had to contend against was the dearth of
fresh water. They were fortunate in getting possession of the
water-boats, and with

[Illustration: THE SHORE, SANTA CRUZ.]

these they stole up the bay, and refilled from the streams that trickle
down from the mountains. They next captured all the Lages’ steamers that
were in the bay, and found on them coal and further stores. In order to
displace the rebels from the island, which was now their base, guns were
taken up the heights of a mountain on the mainland opposite, and a fort
was established, which bombarded Vianna for nearly three months, the
rebels taking refuge behind the hill which stands upon the island. It
was not until the Government succeeded in placing guns upon all the
surrounding heights that the rebels were brought to bay in March, 1894.
Vianna suffered severely during the long struggle, and its owner nearly
as much, for it was not until September of the same year that he got
possession of his wrecked island, and found the machine shops, stores,
and dock smashed to pieces by shot and shell. He started immediately to
repair his loss, and the only compensation he received was the loan of
7000 contas of reis at 7 per cent interest from the Government. For
twelve months business had been at a standstill, and the fleet either in
the hands of the rebels or held up in distant ports, the expense of
paying the crews, port charges, running on all the time.

[Illustration: SANTA CRUZ.]

Such was the stormy, troubled sea that the new shipping company had to
weather. That they did so was due to the dogged persistence of Antonio
Lage, whose enterprise and ability have brought about the present
prosperity of the company. The line now possesses nineteen steamers, of
which four carry passengers as well as cargo, eight are cargo boats
only, while seven are new passenger boats of over 3000 tons, with all
the latest improvements, twin screw, freezing chambers, and having a
speed of over twelve knots. They are all fitted with Marconi apparatus,
and the many comforts which passengers travelling upon modern vessels
are accustomed to. Seven more ships of

[Illustration: SANTA CRUZ.]

this class are being built to continue the coastal trade right up the
Amazon to Manaos. From 1894 the rebuilding of the destroyed island has
gone steadily on. Each year additions have been made, and the great rock
which covered the larger part has been cut through to form a dry dock.
The material removed was utilised to extend the shore and circumference
of this island, and its contiguous neighbour, Santa Cruz, which Sen.
Lage purchased in 1902. Large and spacious stores have been erected,
with machine shops, bonded warehouses, foundries, boiler-makers’ shop,
electric power station, and shipbuilding yard, houses for the employees,
and all the buildings necessary for a growing shipbuilding and
repairing yard. The island of Santa Cruz is a little paradise, and is
now connected with the industrial Vianna by an imposing bridge. It has
been laid out as a large park, and upon it are beautiful houses which
its owner has built for the members of his family. These houses are in
the American colonial style, luxuriously appointed, and lacking in no
comfort which the furnishing world can supply. From the windows and
balconies magnificent views of the expansive bay are obtained, while the
surrounding grounds are filled with many varieties of exotic shrubs and
trees. Flowers, fruit, and kitchen gardens flourish on Santa Cruz in
ordered beauty, and from every spot upon the island vistas and views of
astonishing loveliness meet the eye. Nature and art combine to make an
entrancing island, unsurpassed by any, even in this silvery bay so
famous for the beauty of its shores. Birds, native and foreign, of many
brilliant hues, flit unmolested through its trees and along its shores;
their confidence in the protecting care lavished upon them holds them to
a spot where they find perfect freedom and plentiful provision for all
their needs. Upon gravelled paths, on lawns of softest green, water and
grain are daily spread for their repast by thoughtful hands. So tame are
many of these birds that they respond to the call of their master’s
voice, and even fly in through the open windows and perch on chairs and
tables. In the early morning the mingled song of myriad songsters
heralds the dawn. In the shade of leafy mango trees the woodpigeon coos
his tender notes. The air is alive with melody. The whir of wings, and
the rustling of the dew-drenched grass as the tame deer bounds along,
vary the sounds. The warm light of the new-risen sun tinges all objects
with the mellowest hues. The greens are softer in the morning light; the
thousand distant isles and hills lie veiled in the melting mists; the
colonial architecture of the dwellings on the island imparts an air of
homely comfort to the scene--an air that most tropical scenery generally
lacks. The trailing and climbing flowers that hang from the balconies
and walls call up thoughts of England. The gardeners who tend with care
the lawns and walks are early astir, and accomplish much of their day’s
work before the sun’s rays gain their full strength. The sound of voices
and the faint echoes of hundreds of busy hammers in the sheds upon the
neighbouring island blend with the music of the birds. Nature, art, and
industry are brought into closest contact upon the twin islets of
Vianna and Santa Cruz. Order, taste, and industry have transformed one
of them from an overgrown, chaotic, mangrove fringed wilderness into an
Eden. A Chinese writer who, centuries ago, in answer to the question
“What is it we seek in the possession of a pleasure garden?” said, “The
art of laying out gardens consists in an endeavour to combine
cheerfulness of aspect, luxuriance of growth, shade, solitude, and
repose, in such a manner that the senses may be deluded by an imitation
of nature. Diversity, which is the main advantage in a judicious choice
of soil, an alternation of chains of hills and valleys, gorges, brooks,
and lakes covered with aquatic plants. Symmetry is wearying, and ennui
and disgust will soon be excited in a garden where every part betrays
contrival art.” Had the writer of these lines seen Santa Cruz as it is
to-day he would have been satisfied that it fulfilled all the
requirements necessary to a perfect garden.

[Illustration: SANTA CRUZ.]



CHAPTER XXV

_Some Excursions from Rio_


The vast territories which amalgamated to form the United States of
Brazil suffer more than anything else from the lack of that railway
communication which has opened up the beauties and resources of the
country immediately surrounding the Federal capital.

The first railway in Brazil was due to the enterprise of the Viscount de
Maua, and the line was originally named after him, as was the town at
the northern end of the Bay of Rio from which it started. Originally
this line extended only from Maua to the foot of the mountain below
Petropolis, but to-day it passes through that town, and extends far
beyond it, having developed into the vast railway system known as the
Leopoldina. No longer need intending passengers travel by boat across
the extreme length of the bay, for the line from Entroncamento to Maua
is now a mere branch of the main line which, starting from the capital
itself, extends northwards far into the interior. At a distance of about
thirty miles from the terminus in Rio and at an elevation of three
thousand feet above the sea-level but backed by higher hills and
mountains covered with dense woods, stands the picturesquely beautiful
city of Petropolis. Many years ago this place was a mere colony of
agricultural Germans, but its ideal situation marked it out as a summer
resort for the wealthiest Brazilians, and when the capital was ravaged
by continual epidemics of yellow fever it gained in popularity by the
permission granted to the foreign Legations by their home Governments to
take up their residence in this salubrious spot. Ever since for six
months of the year it has been the centre of the social life of the
republic, for society and fashion invariably follow the Diplomatic
Corps. The Emperor built himself a magnificent palace in the place,
setting an example which was speedily followed, until to-day it is a
collection of noble and imposing mansions, surrounded by the most
exquisite gardens and grounds.

The route to this garden-like mountain city discloses a continual
panorama of tropical scenery, and the profusion of the vegetation on the
mountain slopes is indescribable. As the train climbs the steep
gradients, endless and ever changing prospects meet the eye, and the
comparatively short journey furnishes an excellent idea of the
characteristic scenery of the environs of the finest harbour in the
world. With the improved health conditions in Rio the season in
Petropolis is gradually becoming shorter and shorter, and there is a
probability that the Legations may again take up permanent residence in
the capital, but the mountain city will never fail to attract lovers of
the beautiful. Another important branch of the Leopoldina Railway has
its terminus in the State capital Nictheroy, on the opposite side of the
harbour from Rio. This line branches at Porto das Gaixas into two great
arms, which embrace the whole of the eastern portion of the State, and
connect it with Victoria, the capital of the adjoining State of Espirito
Santo.

[Illustration: AT THE BACK OF THE ORGAN MOUNTAINS.]

On one branch of this line is situated the important city of Nova
Friburgo, the oldest immigrant settlement in Brazil; for as far back as
the beginning of the last century this well-chosen spot was colonised by
a party of 1700 Swiss refugees from Fribourg.

The town stands on the northern slope of the Mar mountain, known as the
Boa Vista, on account of the sweeping view which is obtained from this
point. Although not so elaborate as Petropolis in respect of buildings,
nor so favoured by the aristocratic element, Fribourg has, if anything,
a finer climate, and is blessed with a rich and fertile soil that has
brought it much prosperity. Again the difficulties of the steep ascents
have been overcome by enterprising engineering feats which have linked
up this coffee district with the capital some four thousand feet lower
in level.

[Illustration: A ROAD AMONGST THE HILLS. PETROPOLIS.]

Perhaps the most extraordinary enterprise of modern times is that
undertaken by the State of Minas-Geracs in the building of their new
capital of Bello Horizonte. The State of Minas is the greatest mineral
district in Brazil; it has been said of it that “what doesn’t hide gold
contains iron, what doesn’t

[Illustration: THE SQUARE OF TIRADENTES, OURO PRETO.]

contain coal spreads diamonds.” The journey through the country, which
is accomplished over the Great Central Railway, is singularly
interesting, and the nights spent in the sleeping cars are pleasantly
cool after the heat of the day. The hilly country is well covered with
trees and watered with rivers, and is admirably adapted for colonies of
European settlers. Gold and diamond mines have already yielded vast
riches, and with the increasing facilities for travelling that the
railway systems are opening up, still greater are in store for the
State. Ouro Preto, the old capital, the famous Villa Rica of former
times, lies on a hill-side at an elevation of one thousand feet above
sea-level. It is a picturesque, rambling old city, with tortuous streets
running down its steep inclines, and many old churches and convents
built in the old colonial style. In striking contrast with the ancient
capital is Bello

[Illustration: NEAR THE SAN FRANCISCO RIVER.]

Horizonte, the new one, planned, laid out, and built within the last few
years. The new capital is about a six-hours’ railway journey from Rio,
and is laid out on an ambitious scale on a beautiful site surrounded by
gently rising hills with broad avenues and streets, parks and gardens,
Senate Houses, Government buildings, a splendid presidential palace, a
fine theatre, hospitals, schools, and every possible requirement for a
prosperous and flourishing city. Rows of trees line the broad avenues.
Houses, mostly of one story, await the population that has not yet
arrived to occupy all the vast accommodation that has been provided.
Such is Bello Horizonte, the new capital of Minas-Geraes, a State which
occupies an area of over 220,000 square miles without a seaboard, but
which is perhaps greater in natural wealth than any other State in the
Brazilian Federation. Its development has been marked by all those
characteristics that pertain to the history of countries where the
discovery of the precious metals has attracted adventurous spirits upon
fortune bent. From the earliest days of Portuguese exploration
exaggerated rumours of the fabulous wealth of the interior of the South
American continent have been in circulation, and have stimulated the
organisation of expeditions for the purpose of exploring and
prospecting the high tableland which lies beyond the Serra do Mar. In
one respect the early history of Minas-Geraes resembles that of the
State of São Paulo, inasmuch as it is connected with the story of a
marooned sailor who penetrated to the interior, mated with the daughter
of an Indian chief, and reached high position and power in the tribe.

[Illustration: ABOVE THE FALLS AT TOMBOS.

The Carangola River about 4300 miles from Rio.]

The Indians themselves set little store upon the gold and precious
stones, but finding they were so much prized by their white masters, did
not hesitate to please these latter by painting in most glowing terms
the richness of the country in these treasures. Further, their own
internal feuds prompted them to encourage the expeditions of the
new-comers, the native tribes thinking thereby to regain possession of
territories from which they

[Illustration: WATERFALL NEAR MATILDE, ON THE LINE TO VICTORIA ESPIRITO
SANTO.]

had been expelled by enemies, and little realising that they were merely
placing on their necks a fresh yoke, and paving the way to occupation of
their country by white invaders. One of the earliest organised
expeditions was that in 1674, under the leadership of Fernão Dias, who
had been rewarded in advance by the Portuguese Government by being
created Governor of a district which he was still to discover. Dias, of
Portuguese extraction and noble birth, had already distinguished himself
by conquering and subjecting as his slaves the Goianás, one of the most
powerful of the Indian tribes. Feared but not disliked by his slaves, he
could always command a large following, and set out from Taubaté with a
considerable army, crossing the Mantiqueira and establishing at Serra
Negra the first regular settlement in the territory, which was
afterwards to be known as Minas-Geraes. A second settlement was founded
at St. Anna; and pushing still further, in spite of difficulties and
dangers, this intrepid leader reached St. João do Sumidouro, which
became the central point for future operations. For three years he held
his own against opposition and intrigue, prospecting the region of Rio
das Vellias, where he ultimately succumbed to fever. But it was with the
discovery of gold at Ribeirãs Carmo and Ouro Preto that the real
development of the State commenced, and by the year 1700 a large number
of mines, the property of their discoverers, were in working order. The
system of

[Illustration: THE RAPIDS AT PIRAPORA, ON SAN FRANCISCO RIVER.]

mine-owning was now changed to that of claims, the objecting Paulistas
being promised that they should lose nothing by the change, and entrance
to the territory by way of Bahia was interdicted. This, however, only
led to the opening up of the new road from the coast by way of Espirito
Santo, and five years later the futile prohibition was withdrawn. By
this time the wealth of the territory had become known, and large
numbers of all classes, old and young, rich and poor, flocked in from
all parts of Brazil and from lands beyond the seas. Miners and their
following have never been a class easily governed, and the arrogant
claims of the Paulistas were resented by the rest of the community, who
united in opposing them, and thus commenced the welding together of the
elements which have gone to make up the population of the State as one
finds it to-day. But it was long ere anything like civilised order was
established, for the cruelty of the white taskmasters towards the
natives and the negroes imported from Africa led continually to bitter
feelings of unrest and revolt, whilst the ruling classes, unrestrained
by a licentious and unruly priesthood, were themselves demoralised and
dissolute, and stern, almost tyrannical, measures were necessary before

[Illustration: OLD HOUSES, BAHIA.]

the foundations of government were laid. Much of the State is still
unknown save to the wild Indians who roam its forests, but it is
gradually being opened up. In addition to the mining industry, which has
been carried on for over two hundred years, Minas does a considerable
trade in cattle, coffee, tobacco, and other agricultural products. The
dairy industry has recently become prominent, and offers a good field
for the investment of capital and experience, whilst a fresh source of
wealth exists in the manganese discovered in the State when a cutting
was being made for the Central Railway. This latter is not only the
means of direct communication with the Federal capital, but is pushing
out its branches and extensions in all directions. Known originally as
the Dom Pedro II Railway, this line is now a Government concern, and
aims at bringing all the States of the Union into direct communication
with the capital, linking up with other lines, and taking advantage of
river transit until inland connection shall be established even with the
Amazon, the greatest waterway in the world.

If the traveller wishes for a more ambitious excursion, it will be quite
easy for him to voyage northwards towards Atlantic seaboard cities
almost as fair as Rio itself. But the selection of the steamship line is
of the greatest importance. The two lines to be recommended are the
Royal Mail Steamship Co. and the Lage Iramos, either of which is
preferable to the national line, Lloyd Brazileiro. The traveller will
find in Bahia or San Salvador a city of glamour and enchantment. It was
one of the earliest European settlements in Brazil, and it had for a
long time a chequered and turbulent history, what with Indian ravages
and the desperate conflicts between the Portuguese and the Dutch. But
to-day its lines are cast in more peaceful places; its inhabitants have
grown to 250,000, who, taking advantage of the lavish way in which
Nature yields her treasures in this district, seem quite contented and
prosperous. The city consists of an upper and a lower town, the former
of which is built on the cliffs. Here are the Governor’s palace, the
Senate building, the Public Library, and the cathedral. The last-named
edifice is one of the oldest buildings in South America, having been
founded as a Jesuit college away back in the sixteenth century. Its
interior, like the interior of all the other Bahian churches, is full of
florid embellishment, and exhibits the tendency of the Latin-American
people towards flamboyant expression in their architecture. Bahia is not
only one of the most picturesque of all the cities of Brazil; it is the
sea-gate of a large and fertile province, where the kindly fruits of the
earth grow and ripen with tropical rapidity. The palms of the district
yield a special form of nut, which is exported to the east. Tobacco is a
flourishing crop, and coffee cultivation an industry of prime
importance. Cotton is grown over an extensive area, and not all of it is
exported, for Bahia has many mills of its own. The State is also a great
producer of rubber, while the cultivation of cocoa increases year by
year. Cattle-raising forms yet another occupation of the Bahians. The
transport facilities are also good; several railway systems connect the
city with the producing districts, and fleets of coastwise vessels make
other ports on the Brazilian seaboard quite easy of access. A brisk
export trade is transacted with foreign countries, one of the best of
Bahia’s customers being the United Kingdom.

[Illustration: THE BARAS DE AQUINO.

The curious winding track of the Leopoldina Railway.]

Further up the coast lies Pernambuco, and this likewise will be found a
most desirable halting-place. It is a conglomeration of four towns,
Recife, the commercial quarter, Santo Antonio, which contains the
Government offices; San José, where the public works and railway
stations are situated; and Boa Vista, the fashionable residential
quarter. The several townships are connected by handsome bridges, a
feature which gives Pernambuco a distinct character of its own, and has
earned for it the sobriquet of the “Brazilian Venice”; a coral reef
about five hundred feet from the shore runs along the entire front of
the city, and forms a natural protection to the magnificent harbour.
This reef marches with the coast from Bahia to Maranhão, a distance of
nearly a thousand miles.

[Illustration: THE RAILWAY OVER THE CONFLUENCE OF THE PAQUEQUR AND
PARAHYBA RIVERS.]

One is charmed with the aspect of Pernambuco long before one sets foot
upon its quay. The palm groves and the red roofs of the houses compose
into a really charming picture. The population of the city verges upon
two hundred thousand. Its docks are spacious and well managed, and its
importance as a commercial centre is demonstrated by the fact that no
fewer than ten cable lines link it up with the great outer world.
Several railways, of which the most important are the Great Western of
Brazil, the Recife and San Francisco, and the Alagoas, connect it with
the interior, and bring down to the port supplies of sugar, cotton,
rice, tobacco, indigo, cinnamon, pineapples, grapes, oranges, bananas,
and other commodities. The shippers of Pernambuco are favourably placed
for despatching their merchandise to its destination, for the port
occupies a point on the American seaboard nearer to Europe than any
other.

If the traveller still pines for new worlds to conquer, the Lage Iramos
steamers will take him to the mouth of the mighty Amazon, known to every
schoolboy as the largest river in the world, and destined to become more
and more the great outlet for the trade of Brazil. The great estuary of
that stream is like a huge inland sea debouching into the ocean, for it
is not only the waters of the Amazon that are there discharged, but the
effluents of a dozen tributaries, many of them larger than any river
that Europe can boast. The trip up to Manáos, many miles inland, will be
more than sufficient to impress the voyager with the magnitude and
majesty of this noble stream.



CHAPTER XXVI

_São Paulo_


Unlike most of the State capitals of Brazil, São Paulo lies some
distance inland, but in close touch with its port Santos, some
thirty-five miles distant. Many passengers travelling by the Royal Mail
steamers bound for the Argentine, disembark at Rio and take the train
from the Central Railway Station across country to São Paulo, rejoining
their steamer at Santos. This variation is not only a pleasant break in
the voyage, but affords the opportunity for viewing the most thriving
and prosperous city in South America.

The journey by rail from Rio to São Paulo occupies about twelve hours in
a sleeping or observation car, equalling if not excelling anything of
the kind in Europe. The separate two-berth cabins provided with electric
light and fans will be appreciated by the most experienced railway
travellers accustomed to the latest improvements in the way of comfort.

The first part of the journey is through a hilly country, with immense
woods and thick undergrowth of tropical vegetation, covering the earth
as with a vivid green mantle as far as the eye can reach. Numbers of
curious trees with fantastically twisted stems reaching to a height of
100 to 150 feet tower above the dense masses of tangled foliage, tall
palms of many varieties with fan-shaped leaves, and straight smooth
trunks, grow side by side with dwarfed bushy shrubs, over which great
banana leaves bend with their own weight, whilst magnificent flowers and
orchids of brilliant colour peep out from the dark recesses of the
woods, sparkling like jewels in a mass of lovely hair.

As São Paulo is neared, the tropical luxuriance fades, and nature’s wild
and prolific garden is replaced by the ordered arrangements of man’s
industry, for this State is the best farmed as well as the most thickly
populated in all Brazil. Its staple industry produces at least one half
of all the coffee consumed in the world to-day, besides which its people
gather large harvests of sugar, cotton, grapes, tobacco, and several
kinds of cereals, principally rice and wheat.

This agricultural prosperity is due to several causes: a kindly climate,
a regular rainfall, a natural system of irrigation, and an increasingly
industrious population from all parts of Europe.

The workers in this State pursue their occupations amidst the fairest
surroundings, and in an environment well calculated to induce happiness
and contentment. The air is clear, the climate mild, the sun shines
brightly, the scenery is varied and cheerful, whilst the social element
so necessary to civilised beings is full of charming diversity.

The capital of the State takes second place amongst the cities of
Brazil, and like the Federal capital has in recent years undergone many
changes. Much of it has been already rebuilt, and more is undergoing
alteration. New buildings, imposing and exhibiting the latest styles of
architecture, have largely replaced the old Portuguese colonial houses
which, although solid, were rather lugubrious and forbidding.

The replanning of the city has the enthusiastic support of all the
inhabitants, and not a few of the more prosperous citizens have evinced
a public-spirited generosity in their contributions to the beautifying
of their city. The work that has already been done, and that still going
on, is worthy of the magnificent site which the city occupies between
two great mountain ranges, the Serra do Mar and the Mantiqueira, the
peaks of the latter rising from 2000 to 2500 feet above the level of the
sea. Two rivers take their rise in these hills, the Paranapanema which
flows in a westerly direction and forms the boundary between Parana and
São Paulo States, and the Tieté which in a north-westerly direction
flows right through the latter State. Both these large rivers are but
tributaries of the Parana, the great waterway of the interior of the
continent.

The State extends over an area of more than 112,000 square miles, and
its climate varies in the different zones, which have strongly marked
and differing characteristics.

The low-lying lands which border on the coast at the foot of the eastern
Serra are marshy swamps, a region of damp heat uncongenial to man but
excellent for the cultivation of rice. The humid, steamy air of the
littoral is in strong contrast to the agreeable conditions on the
plateau upon which the capital stands. The intermediate region of the
Serra do Mar is covered with dense vegetation, subject to heavy rains,
whilst mists continually envelop the hills, and the sun shines but
seldom through the thick vapours. Frost and hail are not uncommon on the
Serra, and even snow is not unknown.

[Illustration: THE ROAD TO SÃO PAULO FROM RIO.]

But it is the plateau between the Serra and the Parana that possesses
the most favourable climate, for although the temperature varies
slightly it is always agreeable and pleasant, being neither too hot nor
too cold. This plateau is perhaps the most fertile and productive in the
great continent, which abounds with favoured regions, and its great
prosperity gives some indication of its popularity with European
settlers.

The early history of the State of São Paulo has a romance running
through its pages which can never cease to be of interest, and the
beginnings of its prosperity are traceable to the friendly relationships
established in the beginning of the sixteenth century between a
shipwrecked Portuguese sailor, João Ramalho, and Tybiricá, the chief of
the Guayanás, a tribe who dominated the country.

Ramalho married the chief’s daughter, and this alliance cemented a
friendship with the chief and his tribe, over which the castaway soon
acquired so great an influence that when Martin Affonso arrived at the
head of an expedition he met with a friendly welcome. For his good
offices Ramalho was rewarded by the Portuguese Crown with a grant of the
lands which he and the tribe were occupying, the new-comers establishing
a settlement at St. Vincente, near Santos, and erecting a fort on the
island of St. Amaro at the entrance to the bay. From the union between
the Portuguese settlers and the Guayanás there sprang the race of
half-breeds known first as Mamelucos and later as Paulistas, a race that
accomplished much in the exploration and development of various parts of
Brazil.

The village of St. Andre, where Ramalho and his father-in-law Tybiricá
lived, rapidly grew until in 1533 it was raised to the position of a
town, and these two settlements of St. Vincente and St. Andre were the
forerunners of the cities of Santos and São Paulo which afterwards arose
upon adjacent sites.

The Jesuits, who arrived upon the scene in 1554, proved an important
factor in suppressing the invasions of savage tribes who threatened the
little colonies from time to time, and in organising the settlements by
the construction of a road connecting that at the coast with the mission
station which they established at São Paulo. This mission station grew
in power and importance until finally it usurped the position of St.
Andre, which was destroyed at the instigation of the priests.

The history of the two succeeding centuries is filled with the contests
between the lay Paulistas and the Jesuits, their methods being in
constant opposition, for whilst the former desired native labour to
cultivate their lands and work their industries, they found that the
missions absorbed most if not all of the available natives. These were
gathered under the protection of the missions upon the communistic plan
so successfully practised under the Jesuits in other parts of the
continent, the natives meeting with fair and considerate treatment,
although practically reduced to the position of slaves working for the
common good. The laymen sought to bring the natives into the condition
of slaves for their own personal interest, and to treat them as property
to be used for their own aggrandisement, and professed to see little or
no difference in their doing individualistically what the Church did
communistically.

The association of the whites and their half-Indian progeny with the
pure native Indians was also the cause of much dissension, and led to
numbers of the latter withdrawing from the settlements and forming new
ones antagonistic to the invaders. In all the quarrels Tybiricá stood
loyally by his son-in-law’s fellow-countrymen, and even fought against
his own brother when the latter led an attack upon São Paulo.

[Illustration: THE APPROACH TO SANTOS.]

As the Mamelucos grew in numbers their demands for native labour
increased, and its monopoly by the Jesuits came to be a grievance which
the laymen determined to redress. Raids upon the Indians of the interior
were consequently organised, and the adventurous Paulistas did not
hesitate to risk their lives in the pursuit of tribes as far as the
borders of Bolivia after the nearer districts had been cleared of
natives, and in these expeditions even the mission settlements of the
Guayaná were not spared. Immense numbers of natives were captured and
brought down to the markets of São Paulo for sale, many of them being
purchased to supply the demands of neighbouring States.

As this slave hunting went on unrestrained, the Jesuits removed their
missions further west to escape the attentions of their enemies; but in
1641 a large party of the Paulistas invaded the Paraguayan missions and
bore away many natives as captives. These Paulistas had become
adventurous, and hardy, past belief, and were the most energetic race in
the whole continent, opening up much of the country in the course of
their expeditions--discovering diamonds in Minas, gold in Maranhão, and
laying the foundations of towns and villages wherever they went.

When the emancipation of the Indian (not the negro) slaves was decreed
in 1758, the energies of this indefatigable people, checked in one
direction, were turned towards exploration for a period, and it was not
until the beginning of the nineteenth century, when their country was
opened up to the trade of the world, that they found fresh and congenial
outlets for their enterprise.

During the whole of the last century immigration has flowed steadily
into the country, and its abundant agricultural wealth has been
developed with a steady persistence. The virile peoples from the Old
World, who have flocked into the State, have been rapidly absorbed by
the Paulistas, and a conglomerate race, made up of many elements, now
populates the country. The energy of the Paulista resembles that of the
American of the United States, and the activity in the city of São Paulo
is remarked by all who have compared it with Rio and other towns in
different parts of Brazil.

       *       *       *       *       *

The city of São Paulo is full of pleasant surprises. Its three principal
streets, the Rua São Bento, Rua Quinze de Novembro, and Rua Direita,
form a triangle in the busiest part of the city, and are narrow, crowded
thoroughfares, the electric cars taking up the principal part of the
roadways, which in business hours become so congested that progress is
very slow, both for pedestrians and vehicular traffic.

Many of the shops are fine, and contain a goodly display of wares, but
prices are high. Their harvest season is somewhat restricted, owing to
the large number of feast days or holidays throughout the year, in
addition to the Sundays, upon which

[Illustration: GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS IN THE LARGO DE PALACIO.]

the bulk of the shops are closed. In the case of tobacconists Sunday
closing is rigorously enforced, and the multitude of smokers have to lay
in their supplies for the week-end. It is on a Sunday or a festa day
that the crowds in the street are most interesting, for then the folk
come out in their gala clothes on pleasure and amusement bent. There is
no uniformity whatever in the costumes worn by either sex. Bare-headed
women wearing fur boas, men wearing overcoats, others clad in white
drill suits and straw hats or black felt head-gear, parade the streets
in an ever changing stream. The car conductors, in grey uniforms with
gold facings, are kept busy attending to the human freights, whilst
policemen, in black with red facings, direct the traffic with small,
white batons, as in Paris. Lottery ticket vendors yell their wares in
competition with purveyors of sweets, cakes, and pastries, whose yellow
delicacies tempt the flies and children who swarm around, the former
brushed off with large feather brushes, the latter encouraged by glowing
entreaties. Everything looks new here, even traditions and customs from
the Old World seeming to undergo a change. In the crowds at the street
corners the men are mostly garbed in black, but the women affect all the
colours of the rainbow.

White dresses predominate, but blues, magentas, yellows, pinks, greens,
and faded vermilions are freely admixed, varied with yellow and red
kerchiefs and purple shawls. Here a group of four or five mules ridden
by bare-footed countrymen in blue trousers, there shaggy yellow ponies,
sun-faded and mud-stained, brush through and rub against the
holiday-making crowd. Yonder, on the steps leading up to the gardens,
sits an Italian, munching his midday meal of bread, cheese, and olives.
In these gardens, in front of the President’s palace, are many curious
and beautiful trees, amongst them two stately oaks with the freshest of
green leaves, soft and delicate, as in early summer.

The palms and ferns, cut and cropped into fantastic shapes, mingle with
the cactus, which needs no such attention. In the shady bowers are
welcome resting-places, where the wearied sit in the patches of sunlight
that splash warm upon them through the branches, reading the papers in
French, Italian, and Portuguese, smoking eternally, conversing
frequently, and moving but seldom. Flower-sellers move here and there,
offering tempting bunches of the loveliest pansies, violets, and roses,
and add colour to the scene. The singing of birds, the tinkling of the
car bells, the hum of voices, the strident cries of the hawkers, all
mingle on the sunny Sunday morn, and a happier-looking city and people
it would be difficult to imagine.

A favourite jaunt with the Sunday or holiday crowd--Italians, negroes,
Portuguese, Germans, Paulistas, and English--is a run on the car from
the Largo do Sé to the gardens and museum at Ypiranga. The journey
occupies about half an hour, and the route runs through the Square of
15th September, along the Rua do Gloria, with its small one-story
houses, past the abattoir, through boulevards planted on either side
with trees, to the suburbs, where building is going on in all
directions, the workmen busy at their jobs, although it is Sunday.
Outside the town are market gardens and fields with green grass and
rich, red soil, firs and pines on all sides, cattle browsing in the
meadowland, rose-covered villas and factories springing up amidst the
green fields.

Most of the occupants of the cars descend at the gardens of the
Ypiranga, in the grounds of which are wide walks, raised terraces, lined
with cypress trees, and well laid out beds of flowers and shrubs of all
varieties.

The museum is built upon the spot where the independence of Brazil was
proclaimed in 1822 by the Prince Dom Pedro, who, on learning of the
refusal of the Cortes at Lisbon to listen respectfully to the Brazilian
delegates, impetuously gave utterance to the famous cry, “Independence
or Death!” and was shortly afterwards proclaimed constitutional Emperor
of Brazil.

[Illustration: THE NATIONAL MUSEUM AT YPIRANGA.]

The museum, erected as a monument to commemorate this historic event, is
a well-designed and imposing building, containing fine staircases and
lofty galleries, in one of which is a huge picture illustrating the
“Independencia ou Morto” incident.

The galleries are filled with collections of various objects of natural
and historical interest such as butterflies and birds, wasps and bees,
with their curious nests, old leather-covered furniture, sedan chairs,
cupboards, fourposter beds, and chests of the colonial period.

Amongst the many curious and instructive objects gathered together are
pottery from all parts of the continent, including Colombian, Peruvian,
and Mexican; stuffed fish, weird in shape and marvellous in variety,
taken from the rivers; lizards, chameleons, turtles, alligators, and
snakes. Here, too, are specimens of the feathers and ornaments worn by
the savage Indian tribes of the State of São Paulo, head-dresses of
yellow feathers, necklaces of human teeth, collars of green parrot
feathers and beetles’ wings, and of beadwork mixed with feathers.

The instruments, warlike and peaceful, of the native tribes are also
well represented, such as clubs, bows and arrows, stone hammers,
baskets, crudely made straw hats, a curious fire-making appliance
consisting of spindle revolving in a disc; native panpipes, calabashes,
and mats.

Amongst the stuffed animals are such curiosities or freaks as a calf
with only two legs, and another with two heads.

The Paulistas, imbued with the spirit of freedom, have bestowed upon
many of their streets and squares the names of patriots and public
benefactors, as witness the Avenue Tiradentes, which perpetuates the
name and fame of one of the ardent spirits of the eighteenth century,
who ever strove to rouse the nation to throw off the yoke of Portugal.

Tiradentes, although not the leader of the conspiracy which failed,
nevertheless was a martyr to the cause and was beheaded, drawn, and
quartered, his head exposed to the public gaze in Ouro Preto, and his
house there burned to the ground. He was the first republican to shed
his blood in the cause of Brazilian independence, but not till a century
after his death was the aim accomplished.

Throughout the city such names as Avenida Rangel Pestana and Rua
Visconda do Rio Branco testify to the esteem in which the inhabitants
hold their public men.

In striking contrast to the narrower streets is the Viaducto Clia, a
broad avenue that leads to the new part of the city where everything is
on a magnificent scale, with squares and avenues of which any city might
well be proud. The valley which separates the old city from the new was
undergoing great alterations during my visit, vast business palaces
springing up on this beautiful

[Illustration: THE THEATRE OF S. PAULO.]

site. Overlooking this valley, which is being laid out tastefully as a
public garden, stands the Municipal Theatre, one of the finest buildings
in the country, built at a cost of nearly half a million sterling. It is
a fine monument to the wisdom, skill, and taste of its projectors,
engineers, and architects, and from its commanding position compares
more than favourably with its rival in Rio. The interior is elaborately
decorated. Marble staircases, handsome balustrades, gilded columns,
white and gold walls, and frescoed ceilings all enrich the imposing
vestibule. The foyer is a spacious apartment, seen at its best when a
dance is going forward. It was my good fortune to be present at a ball
given by its inhabitants in honour of its architect, Dr. Ramos de
Azevedo, and Señor Antonio Prado, who was Mayor of the city when the
theatre was commenced. Exquisite floral decorations were lavished upon
the staircase, corridors, and ballrooms, thousands of electric lamps
being dotted everywhere amidst the flowers.

The brilliance of the ladies’ costumes set off with sparkling diamonds
gave an added animation to a scene which equalled if it did not surpass
the grand functions in Rio, where one is used to costly and elaborate
displays.

The Largo do Palacio is a pleasing square which overlooks a great
stretch of the surrounding country, and is formed by the President’s
Palace and the administration buildings of Justice, Agriculture, and
Finance, an imposing and quiet retreat on the margin of the busiest part
of the city. But São Paulo is rich in fine buildings, schools, technical
colleges, and institutes testifying to the educational facilities
afforded to all classes of the community. Hospitals and asylums evince
care for the sick and mentally afflicted. Government enterprise in the
erection of these buildings has been ably seconded by private
munificence, and the Escola de Commerco Alvares Penteado is a good
example of the public spirit displayed by the citizens. This fine
building, presented to the town by the Condé de Penteado, occupies the
whole side of one of its squares, and its good and pleasant proportions
are in the style associated with the latest architectural movements on
the continent of Europe. The Condé has done much to embellish the city,
and his private residence, the Villa Penteado, in the suburb of
Hygienopolis, is one of the most notable of the hundreds of luxurious
mansions that adorn the surrounding avenues.

This villa is in reality a palace quite in harmony with the progress of
the city. The design reflects modernity of taste down to its minutest
details, and the happy use that has been made of native woods in the
internal decorations and fittings is truly ingenious. Its owner, a
notable figure in São Paulo, has had much to do with the cultivation of
coffee, for, inheriting estates of growing importance, he was not
content to remain a “fazendero,” but entered into the field of industry
with all the keenness characteristic of the Paulistas, and inaugurated
one of the largest jute mills in Brazil. His son, the Condé Sylvia,
follows close in his father’s footsteps, being a thorough believer in
the Gospel of Work, and presents the rare spectacle of a young man of
fortune energetically forcing his way to the front as a captain of
industry.

[Illustration: THE PENTEADO TECHNICAL COLLEGE.]

The Paulistas have built and developed so many fine buildings and
institutions that there can be no doubt of their ability to give fitting
expression to their high ideals, whilst numerous beautiful residences
give ample evidence of their good taste, and would attract attention in
almost any city in the world.

The Minister of Justice, Dr. Washington Luiz, has control of a
department of the State which is of the greatest importance to the
community. All vehicles, cars, carts, carriages, and wagons are licensed
under this department, and an efficient method of inspection is in
operation. Similarly porters, newsvendors, sellers of lottery tickets,
chauffeurs, and hawkers are all obliged to take out licences

[Illustration: THE VILLA PENTEADO.]

that are registered in the card catalogues of the department. The system
of identification cards, with photographs and fingerprints of the
owners, has been brought to a high state of perfection. All known
criminals are filed for reference in a separate register from that which
is kept for ordinary civilians who for purposes of travel desire to
possess a proper certificate of identification. Another card catalogue
kept up to date contains full particulars of all houses of business
occupied only during the daytime, and the private addresses where the
owners can be communicated with at once in the event of fire, burglary,
or other unusual occurrence. To aid the police a most wonderful
telephonic system has been installed throughout the city and suburbs, so
that every constable on beat can always put himself in communication
with headquarters should need arise. The street call stations are
attached to posts provided with alarum bells for use by day and electric
lamps that can be switched on at night, in order to call the attention
of the patrol and bring him to the receiver, which is enclosed in a
small box. Keys are provided throughout the force which fit these boxes,
so that whilst the instrument cannot be tampered with every police
officer has access to it, and outlying patrols can summon aid from
headquarters, or in turn be hailed whenever necessary. A tape machine at
headquarters automatically registers all calls that take place, noting
the minute, hour, and date by a series of punctures, thus keeping the
record and identification of calls from the various stations.

Motor ambulances, prison vans, and fire-engines can be brought at the
shortest possible notice to any part of the town and district within a
mile radius, and the equipment of all the “public assistance” motor
vehicles is most efficient and up to date. The very latest models of
motor-drawn fire-engines, escapes, and wagonettes are held in readiness
at the fire-stations, all of which are in telephonic communication with
hundreds of call offices throughout the city; indeed, a finer system has
not been installed in any town of importance. Great attention is paid to
fire drill, a dummy wooden house of four stories being used at the
central station for the men to practise upon.

The army of the State, officered and drilled by a French mission, is,
although small, one of the most efficient in the Union. The military
bearing of the men when on parade and their workmanlike evolutions in
camp and field compare more than favourably with those of the Federal
troops themselves. In the early morning companies in their canvas
working garb may be seen busy at drill in the fields around the city,
and the officers are justly proud of their men’s accomplishments. The
barracks or caserne is a large and commodious range of buildings, with
stabling attached for the mules and horses, a veterinary hospital,
fitting and repairing shops, riding school, fencing rooms, and
gymnasium, all kept up to a high standard, and but for the language
spoken by the men the visitor might easily imagine himself in the
“caserne” of a French town.

The duty of preserving order devolves upon a police force which is
drilled upon the military system, which apparently well fits them for
the carrying out of their civil duties, and few cities in South America
can boast of public servants who are better trained or who exhibit as
much _esprit de corps_ as the soldiers, police, and firemen of São
Paulo.

Another State department deserving of the highest praise is that of
agriculture, presided over by Dr. Padua Salles, a man of exceptional
ability and delightful personality, who has done much to enlarge the
influence and usefulness of the department under his charge.

[Illustration: OFFICERS OF THE SÃO PAULO ARMY.]

Under his direction the principal interest of the country, its
agricultural development, is well fostered and cared for. Much has been
accomplished in the exploration and development of the vast hinterland,
which it will take time and patience to cover fully. Maps and statistics
of the rivers Tieté, Ribeira de Iguape, Juqueryquerê, Feio, and
Aguapehy, have been drawn, compiled, and published by the
Commissao-Geographica E Geologica, and a splendid reference library and
publication department are at the free disposal of all desiring the
fullest information regarding the State and the opportunities it offers
to the investor. Its climate is inviting to Europeans, and is especially
popular with Italians, who flock thither in large numbers, and have
every provision made for their reception and encouragement. Hotels are
provided for the accommodation of immigrants until they have chosen
their location and settled therein. Schools and colleges for technical
and agricultural instruction abound. The Agricultural College at
Piracicaba, about 150 miles north-west of São Paulo, is one of the best
equipped of its kind; whilst the Fazenda Modelo, or model farm, covers
an area of 800 acres, upon which almost every useful and profitable crop
is grown with splendid results.

[Illustration: A WATERFALL NEAR SÃO PAULO.]

Besides the staple product, coffee, São Paulo produces plentiful crops
of corn, rice, beans, sugar-cane, cotton, and tobacco, whilst manioc, or
cassava, Irish and sweet potatoes, arrowroot, oats, and field peas are
largely cultivated. Coffee however, is almost the only agricultural
product exported from the State, for the others barely supply the home
demand. Of the industries dependent upon the produce of the country
mention must be made of the distillation of “aguardiente,” or cane
whisky, and the manufacture of sugar, a number of factories existing for
the production of these commodities, as well as for cotton-weaving, the
supplying of rectified spirits from corn, and the utilising of textile
fibres in the making of bags, carpeting, and twine. Grape-growing has
been started and experiments made to ascertain the variety of grape
likely to yield the best result, and a vine has been produced specially
adapted for the prevailing climatic conditions and which resists all
vine diseases.

[Illustration: THE WHARVES OF SANTOS.]

São Paulo is especially fortunate in possessing in the waterfalls on its
rivers an abundant supply of power for the generating of electricity
wherewith to drive machinery, propel tramcars, and illuminate houses,
shops, factories, and streets, and this should prove a most potent
factor in the growing development of the State.

When it is remembered that the most productive part of the State is
situated more than a hundred miles from the sea and, moreover, upon a
plateau or tableland which is from 1800 to 3000 feet above sea-level,
some conception can be formed

[Illustration: THE DOCKS OF SANTOS.]

of the difficulties which had to be overcome in connection with the
transport of produce for export from the port of Santos. These
difficulties have, however, been successfully overcome by the São Paulo
Railway, one of the most extraordinary in the world. It connects the
port of Santos with the town of Jundiahi, one hundred miles inland, and
the capital city São Paulo lies about midway between the termini. In
making the ascent of the Serro do Mar such steep gradients are
accomplished that a climb of 2600 feet is achieved within a distance of
five miles. This is effected by means of wire ropes wound upon
stationary engines, which pull the trains up and down over a distance of
six miles through extremely beautiful scenery. Over this short line
passes all the immense export of coffee and other produce which leaves
the State through its port of Santos. This port was, not longer than
twenty-five years ago, one of the worst in the world with regard to that
terrible scourge yellow fever, and shipowners dreaded to send their
vessels thither to have their crews oftentimes entirely carried off and
the ships delayed for months at a time, unable to obtain hands to man
them. But all that has passed away, thanks largely to the improvements
carried out by Gaffrée Guinle and Co., now the Santos Docks Company.
Although low-lying and steamy, Santos is to-day quite a healthy city of
some 30,000 inhabitants, and the largest coffee emporium in the world.
Situated in a fine harbour, its wharf front extends for nearly three
miles, and is provided with hydraulic and other machinery for
manipulating the freights of the ocean liners that lie alongside. The
city to-day has spread itself across wide, flat land at the foot of the
hills, and is well provided in the matter of water supply and
sanitation, whilst its broad, straight streets are well paved and
electrically lit. It is well furnished, too, in respect of schools and
institutions, churches, consulates, libraries, and clubs, and is,
moreover, in complete telegraphic communication with the interior of the
State and the rest of the world. After a stay in the State of São Paulo,
sufficiently prolonged to permit of an acquaintance with the industry
and enterprise of its citizens, the delightfulness of its climate, the
abundant fertility of its soil, and the beauty of its scenery, one sails
from the port of Santos with a feeling of regret at leaving so fair a
clime, and with a conviction that its prosperity will yet enhance and
carry it to a high position amongst the states of the world.



CHAPTER XXVII

_A Source of Light and Power_


São Paulo is rich in the possession of an abnormal number of waterfalls
and rapids--in fact for its size it is in this respect the richest state
in the world. Much of the power that flows over these rapids has already
been utilised and does an enormous amount of work, and more is destined
in the future to be harnessed to supply the increasing demands of
industry. Rivers and streams rise in the great Serro do Mar, and flow
over a hilly country, encountering so many changes of level that
innumerable falls and rapids are the result. One of these rivers, the
Tieté, which rises in the hills not far from Santos, flows in a
north-westerly direction till it joins the Parana. There are many falls
in this river, sometimes situated so close together that in the course
of half a mile several may be counted. At one fall near the little
country village of Parnahyba, about twenty-two miles as the crow flies
from the capital, a power station has been erected, and at it sufficient
electric power is generated to run the extensive tramway and lighting
systems of the whole city. The plant belongs to the São Paulo Light and
Power Company--one of the largest business concerns in South America.
The Sorocabana Railway runs along the green banks of the river from São
Paulo, and passes a little wayside station called Baruery. Here all the
material and supplies for the power station are unloaded, and all life
that centres round the station is connected in some way with the Light
and Power Company. Goats, fowls, and children run wild round the trains
when they come to a standstill in the little station, although there are
but few habitations to give indications of a settlement. A long drive
over undulating dull red roads that wind round hills and alongside the
river brings the visitor to the power station, which is built in the
dry bed of the diverted river. Upon a beautifully wooded hill stands the
manager’s house, overlooking hills and valleys of rare beauty.

The power house stands below a reservoir, which is connected by three
enormous iron pipes with the dam 2200 feet higher up the river. Two of
these pipes are twelve feet in diameter, the remaining one fifteen feet,
and through them the water rushes to feed the reservoir immediately
above the station. Short, thick pipes lead the water into the seven
large turbine generators which together develop over thirty thousand
horse-power. The current generated is received at a pressure of 2300
volts and transformed to 40,000 for transmission across the twenty-two
miles of line to the city, where it is again transformed at the
distributing station to a voltage suitable to the requirements of
consumers. All along the river’s banks the natives were early taught by
the Jesuits to construct small water-mills for crushing their sugar
cane, and although these primitive “power stations” still exist in
considerable numbers, the owners of them are amazed that the power they
have used for so long should be able, by passing through the turbines,
to accomplish the mighty feat of driving 200 large cars over 100 miles
of streets at almost any speed, as well as turning the heavy machinery
of factories and mills many miles away. The numerous workshops for
repairing the machinery of the station employ a small army of nearly 200
men, and the Brazilians, Spaniards, Portuguese, Italians, Germans, who
form this staff are housed in the picturesque little village of
Parnahyba, which nestles on a hill-side about a quarter of a mile away.
A typical country church stands on the sloping village square, and is
the only building of any importance in it. It is fairly well built, but
decorated with the cheap, garish ornaments that attract the untrained
eye. In front of the high altar paper flowers, in inferior china vases,
and cheap candles embellish the shrines of the velvet-robed plaster
saints. Poor lithographs, all highly coloured, mark the stations of the
cross. Confessionals, open at the top and sides, barely conceal the
priests who listen to the recital of the villagers’ lapses from grace.
Outside, groups of orange trees grow round the little bamboo dwellings,
while further down the hill the river, released from its labour at the
power house, rushes past, making a cheerful music. The trees harbour
birds of myriad hues, the

[Illustration: THE POWER STATION.]

river teems with fish. Long canoes lie alongside the grassy banks, and
children play upon the shores happy and free from care. In the evenings
and on feast days the village is full of animation; men and women gather
in little groups and gossip, the latter smoking pipes, which are
considered effeminate by the men, who prefer cigars and cigarettes.
Horse and cattle kind are plentiful, and the men amuse themselves with
races upon a small scale. “Caipiras,” as the small farmers are called,
are experts on the course, and have much of the trickiness and low
cunning that long contact with horseflesh is believed by many to
engender.

A racing story is told in the locality about an Englishman who owned a
horse he was eager to match against all comers. A day and course were
fixed upon, but, to the surprise of outsiders, the race was won by an
old “caipira,” whose steed was heavily backed by the punters on the
course. The crestfallen and astonished “Ingleze” did not discover till
long after his defeat that the winner was an old race-horse that had
been surreptitiously obtained from São Paulo for the purpose of taking
down his boastful pride. It was the last appearance of an English owner
on the Parnahyba race-course, and the natives chuckle to this day over
the way the old “caipira” soaked the “Ingleze.” A few days spent at the
manager’s house on the hill are full of interest, and the details of the
day’s work in connection with the station provide ample topics of
conversation. Watchful attention has to be given night and day to the
great installation, for lightning storms occur frequently, and may at
any moment cause a slight disturbance of the transmission, which, but
for the reserve steam power station in the city, would envelop the town
in darkness, bring the whole tramway service to a standstill, and stop
thousands of machines which are dependent upon the station for driving
power. Telephones connect the distributing with the power station, and
the latter with the manager’s house, and even his bedroom is provided
with an alarum which can rouse him at any moment from his slumber. The
Light and Power Company of São Paulo have acquired many concessions
along the Tieté, and other rivers and sites for future stations have
already been fixed upon--two at Pirapora, and one, where construction
has been going on for some time, at Sorocaba, about three miles distant
from Parnahyba. Surveyors and engineers are at work planning another
station at Pau d’Alho, so that the rapid developments which are taking
place in the State will not catch this enterprising company napping. At
Pirapora, not far from the village, there is a Roman Catholic convent
where a dozen priests under the direction of a bishop are housed. The
building itself is new, but the site was occupied by one of the earliest
Jesuit mission stations in the State. The church, Bom Jesus de Pirapora,
in the village of about 1500 inhabitants, has an extensive fame, not
only in the State of São Paulo, but in others lying at a great
distance, for it has a reputation for miraculous cures. It is the
Lourdes of Brazil. The great annual pilgrimage to this shrine attracts
thousands of afflicted persons, lame, halt, deformed, and blind, who
walk from great distances, enduring many hardships and suffering
privations with astonishing fortitude. Many die on the way, but the
thousands of photographs preserved in the church are evidence of the
numbers who have visited the spot, and these pictures of the cured, with
their crutches and bandages, serve to advertise the virtues of the
shrine. A legend exists in Pirapora to the effect that Christ rose from
out the river some years ago, and the authority of the church supports
and spreads the myth. At the annual gathering of the pilgrims, bishops
and priests from distant parishes are present in great numbers,
encouraging the patients with advice, and administering healing slaps on
the faces and bodies of the victims to accelerate the cures. Many of the
natives of Pirapora have never left the precincts of the little village,
and spend their lives in ignorance of the ways of the great city not
fifty miles away. The priests still exercise a powerful influence over
their lives, and girls and unmarried women are kept indoors and out of
the public gaze with Oriental strictness. A curious market is held
outside the church on Sunday mornings and on festa days. The priests
hold an auction, and horses, cattle, goats, pigs, chickens, flour, rice,
vegetables, fruit, furniture, and innumerable odds and ends are offered
for sale and knocked down to the highest bidder. The proceeds of these
sales go into the coffers of the church, and as the stock sold is the
gift of the people this is their way of supporting their religion. This
system is prevalent throughout the country, and in many districts it
becomes a sort of “fair,” at which all kinds of little stalls, covered
with bunting and adorned with flags, are set up to provide refreshment
to the holiday crowd. Firework displays wind up the day, and as all the
squibs, rockets, and roman candles are home-made, the uncertainty of the
behaviour of each separate piece gives an added zest to the spectators.
At the church auctions strange lots are sometimes offered to the public;
mysterious parcels, without any marks or signs to give indications of
their contents, occasionally fetch high prices, and on being opened
disclose some ludicrous object such as a baby’s feeding-bottle or
rattle. A bunch of wild flowers, gathered and given by some village
beauty, will generally cause excited bidding by her admirers, who
compete with extravagant bids against one another, until it is knocked
down at an absurdly high figure. There is plenty of sport to be had
along the river’s bank, and hunting parties make good bags of birds,
monkeys, carpincha, and occasional deer. Fishing is also a popular and
profitable sport with the natives, who are not too partial to strenuous
exertion. Most of the workers on the small farms own their land, and the
crops of maize, sugar, and rice provide a comfortable and easily
obtained livelihood. From the sugar juice a highly intoxicating liquor
called “pinga” is distilled, and sold in kegs to the small stores, who
retail it to the public at about 20 reis a glass (less than a farthing
English money), a price that brings it within the reach of all, and
contributes largely to its popularity. This fiery brand is responsible
for much of the crime that takes place in the country. A tragedy
attributable to pinga occurred some little time back at Parnahyba, which
for about a fortnight was full of speculation as to the cause. One of
the great gates that guard the entrance to the water conduits leading
from the upper dam to the reservoir had become jammed, and a diver was
sent down to ascertain the cause. It was noticed that he had taken a peg
or two of pinga before he donned his helmet, but little heed was given
at the time to this not unusual proceeding. He soon came up from his
first examination, and reported the position, which necessitated the
attachment of a strong wire rope to the damaged door, in order that it
might be pulled back into its proper place. The diver descended again,
taking the end of the stout rope with him, and for a long time the men
at the pump went on turning to supply him with air. After an hour had
gone by without a sign of the diver they grew alarmed, and pulled at the
communication cord without receiving any answering signal. Two more
divers were telegraphed for from Santos, and until they arrived the
following day the pump was kept going, in the hope that the unfortunate
man was alive, but perhaps entangled with some obstruction which
prevented him from coming to the surface or from replying to their
repeated signals. All that the newly arrived divers could discover, when
they descended, however, was that the air supply pipe to the missing man
led over the jammed gates into the great pipe, and that it was divided;
the victim must be somewhere in the long 2000 feet tube. Search was made
in the reservoir above the

[Illustration: THE FALLS OF PARNAHYBA.]

power station, but no sign of the missing man could be discovered. The
excitement in the village grew to fever pitch, and spread to the
inhabitants along the river’s bank. Endless suggestions and theories
were forthcoming as to what had happened and the means to be taken to
clear up the mystery, which puzzled the wisest and most expert opinion.
One theory set up and spread by the subtle-minded labourers was that the
missing man had slipped out of his suit underwater, and had, under cover
of the darkness, made his way to a distant part of the river, and there
he had climbed out and escaped, his object being to get compensation for
his widow and children. This theory spread, in spite of its absurdity,
for the simple folk recalled the case of a man who conspired to have his
effigy burnt in a fire that took place in another part of the country,
and whose supposed widow got insurance money, which the supposed victim
and his fellow-conspirators shared among them. Other theories, no less
ridiculous, were current, and the superstitions of the natives were
aroused, when one of the night watchmen refused further duty at the
tragic spot, alleging that he had seen the ghost of the diver emerge
from the water and hover round the spot, and it was only when the body
of the missing man floated to the surface of the reservoir, a fortnight
later, that an end was put to the endless surmises and stupid
conjectures that were the talk of the whole neighbourhood.



CHAPTER XXVIII

_Coffee_


From an obscure origin the habit of coffee-drinking has grown to be
almost universal. That the natural home of the plant itself is Abyssinia
or East Africa is generally known, but how its fruit came to be used in
the making of a beverage is the subject of many legends. One ancient
Mohammedan tradition tells how the superior of a monastery, observing
that goats eating the coffee berries became very wakeful and lively at
night, prepared a decoction of the berries, in order to keep his
dervishes awake when the religious services at the mosque demanded their
attention during the whole of the night. He proved the efficacy of the
beverage, and recommended it to his co-religionists, who, on discovering
that it was pleasant as well as useful, soon acquired the coffee habit,
and frequently refreshed themselves throughout the day with the dark
brown liquid.

So popular did coffee-drinking become amongst the faithful that one
section endeavoured to put down the practice, which they looked upon as
an evil. They alleged that it was an intoxicant, and as such was
expressly forbidden by the Koran. Their religious zeal or bigotry was
not, however, so powerful as the hold which the coffee bean had acquired
over the people, and the custom of coffee-drinking, now time-honoured
throughout the East, has spread, not only over the whole of Europe, but
practically throughout the world.

The first coffee-house or café was established in Constantinople early
in the sixteenth century, and its popularity was such as to arouse the
hostility of the priesthood, who saw in the attractions of the café a
serious menace to the attendances at the mosque. Thus that which
according to legend had originated as an aid to worship, came to be
regarded as an enemy to devotion, and a bitter feeling was aroused which
persisted for many years.

For a century the habit was almost exclusively practised by the
Orientals, but in the middle of the seventeenth century it spread to
France and England. In the year 1652 a coffee-house was opened in
London, in St. Michael’s Alley, Cornhill, and was the forerunner of many
rival establishments that quickly opened throughout the capital.

These houses came to be frequented more particularly by the political
and literary circles of the day, and in the reign of Charles II a royal
proclamation was issued against coffee-shops, alleging them to be the
rendezvous of disaffected persons; but this was not such an effective
check upon the spread of the habit as was the imposition of a heavy tax
upon the article. It is remarkable that although coffee, tea, and cocoa
were all introduced into Europe about the same time, the preference for
tea in England has been as steady as the predilection for coffee in
France.

Until the end of the seventeenth century the chief source of the coffee
supply was Arabia, but in 1690 the plant was introduced into Java by the
Dutch, who also placed one specimen in the Botanical Gardens at
Amsterdam as a curiosity, from which plant seeds were afterwards planted
in Dutch Guiana. Indeed, from this one plant at Amsterdam the coffee
plantations of the New World may be said to have sprung. The islands of
the Caribbean Sea were soon supplied with seeds, and plantations were
laid out in many localities, which experience proved were the most
favourable for the production of the best crops. It is uncertain how the
coffee plant came to be introduced into Brazil. One story is that a
runaway from Cayenne took a few seeds to Para or Maranhão, somewhere
about the year 1761, and that some years later two or three plants were
conveyed from there to the city of Rio de Janeiro, where they were
cultivated in a private garden, probably by way of a novelty. Even at
the beginning of the nineteenth century the cultivation of coffee was
not looked upon by the Brazilians as deserving of any serious attention,
and they had not much use themselves, except as medicine, for the
beverage which to-day is hardly ever out of their mouths.

The State of São Paulo was the first to give serious attention to the
cultivation of coffee, and as a result has reaped the reward of being
the most prosperous State in the whole of Brazil. The interior of São
Paulo (which lies between 20° and 25° S. latitude) possesses a rich and
productive soil, with a climate whose temperature and rainfall are
eminently suited for the cultivation of many kinds of agricultural
produce, and it was in the Campuias district that coffee was first
planted and developed on an extensive scale. From this district the
cultivation has spread all over the State, until São Paulo is almost
synonymous with the name of coffee. The rapid development of the
industry has placed Brazil in the forefront of coffee-producing
countries, and the annual output from its ports exceeds that of all
other ports put together. To-day there are over 361.572.12 alqueires of
land under coffee cultivation alone, whilst the prosperity of this
industry has given an impetus to agriculture generally, and the growing
of sugar, rice, maize, beans, tobacco, vine, and manioc, all engage the
attention of farmers in the State.

[Illustration: A FAZENDA.]

A large number of “fazendas” or farms are in the hands of Brazilians
themselves, and many more are worked and owned by persons of Italian,
Portuguese, German, English, French, and Spanish nationalities. These
coffee fazendas are all very much alike, and the traveller through the
country is quickly impressed by the high state of cultivation that this
profitable industry has developed. No visitor to São Paulo should depart
without seeing a fazenda, as the coffee plantation is called, and the
hospitality and kindness of the Paulistas to strangers make a visit
pleasurable as well as memorable.

The estate of Senhor Antonio Prado, a Brazilian gentleman who has done
much for the beautifying of the capital, lies about 230 miles therefrom,
and the journey by rail is through a country full of interest and
beauty. The towns and villages that lie along the route are partially
hidden by the dense foliage of the tropical vegetation that bespeaks the
richness of the soil. The undulating hills through which the railway
winds offer a change of view at every moment of the journey. The rich
red earth accentuates and intensifies the green of the foliage, whilst
the stain of it tinges everything it touches. The railway carriages,
constructed on American models, are full of the fine red dust, and the
passengers have a ruddy hue when they descend from a journey through the
country. The whitewash of the buildings and cotton clothes of the
peasants are all more or less tinted with the eternal red of the soil.
The Prado fazenda, situated upon rising ground, is a low, one-story
building encircled with verandahs. Brilliant-coloured flowers grow in
front of it, luxurious creepers entwine themselves around the supports
of its verandahs, and tall palms nod their heads above its roofs. The
floors of broad, hard-wood planks are red with the stain of the
all-pervading earth.

The “fazendiero” lives well, and his table groans under a plentiful
variety of meat, vegetables, rice, bread, and sweetmeats, to which
visitors and friends from neighbouring plantations are welcomed round
the board. From the verandahs the view is extensive, a waving sea of
green, except when the bloom is on the coffee plant, when the white
flakes of colour suggest fallen snow, very refreshing to the eye in the
intense heat.

A ride through the coffee trees on this estate could be extended for
many miles, but the lanes and vistas are all very much alike, appealing
most strongly to the sense of distance and extent.

Beyond the region planted lies the wild forest, thick woods almost
impenetrable, save where patches of land, full of gaunt, half-burnt
stumps, betoken clearings in process of being turned into
plantations--a preparation that takes no little time and much labour.

[Illustration: A COFFEE FAZENDIERO.]

The formation of a plantation occupies four years before the trees bear
fruit. The trees are raised from seed in the nurseries, and the young
shrubs planted out in regular rows from eight to nine feet apart, the
work being carried out by colonies of settlers who are of many
nationalities. These colonies are scattered up and down the estate, and
are housed in rows of neat dwellings, with tiled roofs and whitewashed
walls. They form tiny villages, each with its own type of inhabitants,
its own manners and customs according to the nationality of the
settlers. As a rule, a family have a certain number of trees to look
after, and their work of weeding, tending, and picking is confined to
one portion of the estate, upon which there are 2,300,000 trees, varying
from thirteen to thirty-three years of age. The work is divided amongst
eight colonies, comprising 360 families, in all about 2800
souls--Italian, Swiss, Spanish, Austrian, Portuguese, Brazilians, and
about sixty Japanese. The trees are planted in squares of about 5000
trees, and a man and his wife can look after about 4000 trees. The
picking of the berries commences in the month of May, and goes on till
October, whilst from October to May the work of cleaning the grounds of
weeds is in full swing. Harrows, drawn by mules and horses, are employed
upon the broader passages between the trees, but for the narrower
divisions the hoe is used. The long avenues stretch out in all
directions, lanes of red earth five and six miles long in straight,
unbroken lines from eight to twenty feet high on either side. These
trees are always green, and four times in the season beautiful pure
white flowers burst forth to relieve the monotony of colour. The first
flowers appear in July, and last for eight days, leaving behind a small
growing berry to develop and ripen. There are three other flowering
periods until the end of October, and the fruit or berries formed from
the flowers are in progressive stages of ripening during the picking
season. Thus there is a continual flowering and picking of the coffee
during the same months, and the pickers have to take care that they only
pull the ripened berries. This, however, is not difficult, as the young
and newly formed berries have a firmer attachment to the trees than the
older and ripened fruit. The crop of berries plucked at the beginning of
the season in May are black, being the fruit of the first flowers of the
preceding year. Red berries are the fruit of the second flowers, and
green berries of the third. The proper time for pulling is when the
green berries of the previous years are full. The hand is drawn along
the branch, which is thus stripped of all but the young berries of the
current year. Then the pulled berries are taken in carts drawn by mules
or oxen to the “lavadors” or washing tanks.

There are several kinds of coffee cultivated upon this estate, a
practice quite common among the fazendieros of São Paulo. One variety,
the “Bourbon,” is an early and regular producer, and for this reason is
largely cultivated, since the fever of production seized the planters,
in consequence of the rise in the price of coffee. This variety does not
grow very high nor bear large-sized beans. Its life is shorter than many
other varieties, it is sensitive and delicate, its branches lacking in
flexibility, and it does not yield very large quantities of fruit. But
against all these disadvantages, the planters set the fact that it can
be grown rapidly, bringing a quick return to the owner.

[Illustration: COLONISTS’ HOUSES AT MARTINO PRADO.]

The common or native coffee tree has, however, most to commend it. It is
strong, hardy, and well acclimatised, and has a long life, while its
beans are large, and sell for the highest prices upon the market. Long
experience has determined that it is the plant best adapted for the
climate, and its flexible branches render the operation of gathering a
simple one, which does not render the tree liable to damage. Its only
drawback is the irregularity of its crop, which is good and poor in
alternating years.

All the older plantations are stocked with this variety, and there is no
doubt that, in spite of other considerations, it is destined to remain
when the “Bourbon” variety shall have disappeared.

The “Bomcatu” or “Amarello” is a variety very similar to the common
coffee, but has yellow berries, whilst the “Murta” is another variety
which is very little grown, having too great an abundance of foliage at
the expense of the fruit.

At the “terrains” the gathered coffee is sorted by an ingenious process.

The berries, black, red, and green all mixed together, are put into a
tank of water, and the black berries being the lightest, float to the
surface, and are run off along a cemented channel to a large concreted
terrace, where they are spread out to dry in the sun.

The red and green berries left behind are floated down another cemented
channel to a machine which detaches the outer skins of the red berries,
leaving the beans, which are now separated from the green berries, still
intact, by a process of sifting in revolving perforated drums. These
beans are now spread out upon the terrain, as are also the green
berries, to be sun-dried in their turn.

The time occupied in the drying process depends, of course, upon the
sun, the black fruit generally drying in from eight to ten days. The
beans of the red fruit, known as washed coffee, take time to colour, and
after three or four days are banked up, and covered from the rain, until
they assume the washed coffee colour. The green berries, in their turn,
take longer, generally about twenty days.

When thoroughly dried, the berries and beans alike pass into a series of
chambers called the Machina de Beneficiar Café, where, by means of
elaborate machinery, the berries are decorticated and the beans sorted
in their various sizes. The husks and also the thin skins of the beans
which are removed by winnowing are blown through a long tube to a heap
outside, and preserved as manure, to be sprinkled between the trees and
ploughed into the ground.

The beans, sorted into qualities of size and shape, are placed in sacks
and sent by railway (which comes right alongside the Machina) down to
Santos, the greatest shipping port for this product in the whole of
Brazil.

The Martino Prado estate contributes about sixty thousand bags a year
towards the annual output of over ten million bags which are exported
from the State of São Paulo.

As the productive life of a coffee tree may be estimated at about forty
years its cultivation is attended with much profit, and a law has been
enacted by the State to prevent too many estates being brought into
existence. Planting to replace dead or unfruitful trees is in no way
restricted, the aim being to keep the production of the commodity from
getting out of hand and to prevent the world’s markets being flooded
with more coffee than is ordinarily consumed.

It was in 1906-1907 that the danger of over-production first attracted
the serious attention of the “faziendieros,” who became alarmed at the
prospect of a great lowering of prices. The season’s yield had been a
record one, and threatened to cause a fall in price that meant ruin to
many of the planters, and a serious crisis to the State of São Paulo,
whose capital and resources were largely bound up in coffee culture. The
Government had, in 1900, placed an almost prohibitive tax upon the
creation of new plantations in order to check production and save the
existing faziendieros from financial catastrophe, but were again faced
with a perplexing situation, which resulted in the scheme of
artificially upholding the price of coffee. With the assistance of the
neighbouring States of Rio de Janeiro and Minas-Geraes, the São Paulo
Government bought up the necessary number of sacks to relieve the
market, and by preserving the balance between supply and demand kept the
price at a figure remunerative to the planters. The credit to purchase
the overplus was effected by the three States already named, and was
guaranteed by an extra tax of one shilling and eightpence upon each sack
of coffee exported from Santos or Rio. By means of loans from foreign
banks the Governments were able to purchase and keep out of the market
eight million sacks of coffee already stored in different parts of the
world, and as coffee improves by age, the surplus thus bought up is
being gradually disposed of at an enhanced price. This operation has
been the subject of much controversy, many economists looking upon it as
initiating a dangerous policy, whilst others claim that it has been
amply justified by the good results that have followed to the State.

There can be no doubt that had the exceptional yield of 1906-1907
reached the market, a fall in prices, disastrous alike to the planters
and to the State, would have resulted. The smaller crops of the
succeeding years have favoured the release of the stored surplus without
any lowering of prices, and the bold experiment has so far been
successful.

[Illustration: THE PRADO MANSION HOUSE, SÃO PAULO.]

A succession of large crops, both in Brazil and other producing
countries of the world, would mean real disaster to São Paulo, but
experience goes to show that irregular crops are the general rule, and
that full years are inevitably followed by lean ones.

The only developments that the State of São Paulo has had to watch
carefully are the increasing outputs of newer plantations in Mexico, the
West Indies, and the northern republics of South America, all of which
are gradually increasing the area under coffee cultivation. São Paulo
alone could produce all the coffee necessary to meet the world’s demand,
were all her available land allowed to be placed under cultivation, so
that the policy of restriction is almost forced upon her. The rapid
development of this State is one of the outstanding features of South
America, and is all the more remarkable when one considers the
comparatively short time that has elapsed since its staple industry was
first commenced.



CHAPTER XXIX

_The Forest_


An excursion through the unexplored bush in South America is no light
undertaking, and after a few hours employed in making his way through
primeval forest the traveller obtains a fair idea of some of the
terrible ordeals which had to be passed through by the early Spanish
invaders and buccaneering marauders. Besides being hampered by heavy
armour and accoutrements, they were dependent for food on the wild
animals they killed or the roots and fruits they discovered, unless by
chance they encountered natives from whom they could obtain frugal
supplies. The uncertainty of obtaining subsistence, the dangers which
lay in wait for them from the poisoned arrows of the natives, and the
risks they ran of losing their way, all added to the perils of their
expeditions. For in most favourable circumstances a journey over hills
clad with the densest vegetation, and across streams and rivers
inhabited by obnoxious reptiles, is distinctly trying. At the invitation
of a friend I started out to visit a camp occupied by himself and his
fellow-surveyors situated on the hills lying to the west side of the
Chagres River. I prepared for this journey in a costume which in my
ignorance I thought suitable for the occasion, including heavy boots and
leggings, and a complete change of clothing in case of emergencies. At
the headquarters in the town from which we started it was politely
pointed out to me that I evidently did not understand the sort of
country we were to travel through, and if the rig-out I had assumed was
the best my wardrobe could furnish, my companion would endeavour to
supply me with a more suitable equipment. He produced a pair of breeches
which no self-respecting tramp would have rescued from a dust-bin, the
remainder of a shirt upon which moths had made many a hearty meal, a
thick pair of stockings that would have gladdened the heart of an
Arctic explorer, a pair of boots such as are affected by those who go
down into the bowels of the earth in sewers, and a hat so thickly coated
with mud and clay that it might easily have been mistaken for a crude
specimen of pottery. The fact that the breeches and shirt had been made
originally for a smaller man detracted somewhat from their comfort,
although the figure presented when arrayed in the garments would have
aroused the envy of a professional tramp. When we were well into the
forest the suitableness of this attire became apparent, and I owed a
debt of gratitude to my considerate companion for having saved a
respectable portion of my wardrobe from utter destruction. A change of
clothing was tied up in a piece of stout waterproof material and
consigned to the charge of one of the negroes who were to accompany us,
and so, armed with a long pole, we started. The party consisted of my
companion and myself, three negroes, and two half-bred Indians, who
carried between them fresh supplies and provisions for the camp. The
first part of the way lay through an old track, and offered no
difficulty. After traversing a distance of about a mile we came to a
muddy river, on the banks of which stood a small Indian village,
composed of rude huts and shacks. The human beings who inhabited these
patched-up, nondescript dwellings were about as mixed in breed as their
houses in construction, and as indolent and dirty as their domiciles
were foul and evil-smelling. We were detained for some time while search
was being made for the boatman whose services were required to paddle us
to the other side, and as we stood looking across the swiftly flowing,
muddy river, I had an opportunity of becoming more closely acquainted
with the camp-followers who accompanied us. A tall, middle-aged negro,
called Harvey, who with difficulty was balancing a bundle upon his head,
made himself conspicuous by his never-ceasing chatter. No threats from
my companion served to stop his garrulity, which was explained by the
fact that he had not recovered from the festivities of the previous day,
the anniversary of his King’s birthday. Like a true Britisher, this
Jamaican had indulged in royal toasts until he had almost assumed a
regal demeanour of independence; and when he was told that he was drunk
he denied it in so lofty a manner that it only confirmed the correctness
of our diagnosis. “Harvey,” said my companion sternly, “don’t you know
what the Bible says will happen to men who take too much strong drink?”
“Don’t kere what the Bible say ’bout strong drink, cap’n, but I should
like fin’ out what it say ’bout dem dam Indians what ain’t to be found
when dey’re wanted, keeping English and American gentlemen waitin’ about
in de burnin’ sun, ’bout near as hot as de hell fire he sure to go to.”

“Shut up, Harvey, and don’t talk so much.”

“What God give me tongue for, eh, massa, and what have I brains for if
not to use?” he asked plaintively. At last the missing boatman put in an
appearance, and we gingerly entered the long dug-out, which was very
leaky, and about one-third full of water, and pushed off for the
opposite bank. The Indian, who seated himself in either the bow or
stern, I fail to remember which, both ends seeming so exactly alike,
skilfully propelled the long, wobbly craft to the other side, and we
climbed up the steep, muddy bank, aided by the long lianas which hung
down from tall trees towering overhead. We were soaking wet, as it had
been necessary to sit down in the canoe to prevent overbalancing it; but
after a little experience of the trail we had now got to, I realised
that to be wet through was a normal condition to be in when travelling
through the bush. The first mile or so we kept by the bank of the river
along a trail which had been cleared by the ever useful machete. This
trail was narrow, and necessitated our walking in Indian file, and for a
part of the way I found myself in front of the loquacious Harvey, who,
slightly sobered by the recent exertion of climbing up the bank with his
load, continued babbling about Biblical subjects with ludicrous effect.
His mind was greatly exercised in trying to recollect what really was
the punishment to be meted out to rum-drinkers, and also as to what the
sin could be which admitted of no possible forgiveness. It was
marvellous how he managed to keep jabbering with his tongue while
occupied with balancing the great bundle on his head and evading the
pitfalls which beset his feet. When at last the trail led into the
gloomy forest, it was a welcome escape from the heat and glare of the
sun, the fierce rays of which had been pouring down upon us for over two
hours. Charles Kingsley says that the first feeling he had on entering
the primeval forest was one of helplessness, confusion, awe, and all but
terror. Most of these feelings did come over me in the course of the
journey, but the first emotion

[Illustration: HARVEY.]

was one of thankfulness for the deep shade. It is difficult to convey
any idea of the luxuriant growth we were now amongst. Trees of all
shapes and colours in profusion rose around us with a superabundant
wealth of foliage so dense that it was impossible to find one’s way
without a compass or a guide, and even the trail itself could only be
traced by experts. Tall trees with parasitical creepers inextricably
confused reaching upwards in long curving lines bewildered the eye.
Fan-shaped palms, giant tree ferns and sword-like cactus that would make
a small fortune for a florist at home grew all around. Strings of
wire-like stems lay across the path, and it required no small skill and
the utmost watchfulness to avoid being tripped up at every turn, and
when we stumbled and put out our hands to keep from falling they met
with prickly stems that stabbed like needles. Creepers twirled around
and in and out, crossing and recrossing one another, defying all efforts
to trace them to their source, bewildering as a ship’s rigging in a
storm all broken and loose and entangled past hope of straightening out.
Sedgy swamps, with long, sharp blades of leaves and fallen trees, often
blocked the path, while the light grew dimmer and dimmer the further we
penetrated into the forest fastnesses. At times we thought we must have
left the trail, so overgrown and dense it had become, and even the
guides who were supposed to know it were often puzzled, and frequently
the machete had to be resorted to in removing the vegetation that had
grown since the last traveller had passed that way. It is splendid
exercise walking or pushing your way through a jungle, for the exertion
the arms are called upon to put forth is nearly equal to that which the
legs have to perform. Loops and festoons threatened to lasso and hang us
at times, and whilst our eyes were engaged in watching for the dangers
threatening us above our feet would be caught in some vegetable snare
which the genii of the forest had spread for the intruder man. Orchids
grew high up out of reach, and everywhere exquisite and grotesque forms
presented themselves. Tiny humming-birds flitted past us, flashes of
iridescent colour, and giant butterflies hovered over flowers as
brilliant as themselves. Weird sounds from unseen monkeys, parrots, and
toucans, high, piercing notes of birds, and the hum of innumerable
insects confused the ears, as did the strange forms the eyes. We passed
many trees of enormous girth, the lower portions of their trunks
buttressed like Gothic cathedrals, and contrasting strangely with the
tall, slender proportions of others, that seemed like long lengths of
water-pipes set on end, through which a chimney-sweeper’s broom had been
pushed, the brush protruding at the top. Often we came to streams,
across which a few thin trees had been thrown to form a primitive
bridge, and the passage of these with boots thick with slippery clay was
quite an acrobatic feat, very much like walking the greasy pole.
Sometimes long poles were stuck into the mud at the bottom of the river
to assist the traveller across, but only occasionally did we meet with
this luxury, and when the sticks we carried proved too short to reach
the bottom we used them as a tight-rope walker does his balancing pole.
Once I fell, but the water only came up to my waist, so that I waded to
the opposite bank and climbed out. But the wading was not easy, for the
bottom of the stream was thickly padded with fallen leaves, which formed
a pulpy mass of decaying vegetation and prevented a firm foothold. We
could not help admiring the way the half-sober Harvey crossed these
bridges, his large feet turned out, his arms outstretched with pole in
one hand and machete in the other, and the huge bundle cleverly balanced
on his head. His performance would have evoked loud applause from the
critical audience of a modern variety show, but we refrained from
applauding lest we should swell his thick head. After stumbling, hot,
damp, and perspiring, along the greasy track, stepping through muddy
pools and morasses and wading through streams for hours, we came to a
large clearing in the forest that had been made by the surveying party.
It was the last camp they had occupied before proceeding to that which
we were on our way to visit. We sat down in the shelter of one of the
huts and rested. This was the first opportunity we had had of a seat,
for in the forest there are no grassy spots or convenient bowers for the
weary traveller to stretch himself and rest. Even when a fallen tree
appears to offer a seat, sharp, prickly thorns or venomous insects
prevent advantage being taken of it. Looking round at the now deserted
camp, we were much impressed by the ingenuity displayed by its builders,
for in the midst of the dense forest a circle about 300 feet in diameter
had been cleared. Huge trees had been felled, the thick undergrowth cut
down and burned, and from the smaller trees the huts or houses of the
camp had been constructed. No nails had been used, the uprights and
horizontals of the buildings being bound together by long withes. The
roofs were neatly thatched with palm leaves, and gave shelter from the
burning sun and heavy rains. Tables, benches, and beds were all
constructed out of thin trees tied together, and supported on shorter
lengths stuck into the ground. These were erected inside the huts, which
were about thirty feet long by six feet wide, and open at the ends and
sides. A large tree had been left as it fell, dividing the camp into two
parts, that for the native attendants being much larger than the one
reserved for the surveyors who employed them. My companion had been away
at the time this camp was abandoned, and was now on his way to rejoin
his companions in the new camp, about six miles distant in the forest.
The men who accompanied us all belonged to the new camp, and had only
left it a few days before to fetch provisions, supplies, newspapers,
periodicals, and letters from the nearest railway station. After a short
rest we started off again on a newer and more difficult trail, and as
little or no traffic had passed over it, the utmost vigilance was needed
on the part of the guides to detect the signs which marked it. The
bearers were further laden with three surveying rods, which had been
left at the old camp for them to bring along on their return. As the way
became more difficult, frequent digressions were made into the bush,
with the assistance of machetes, and often a halt was called and
consultations held as to whether we were on the trail or not. Darkness
was quickly falling, and we realised that it threatened to become a
serious matter should we fail to reach the camp before the light
completely faded. Harvey and one of the Indians lagged far behind, and
the three men who were with us displayed an anxiety I was quick to
notice and to share. The trail was lost! We plunged into the thick
vegetation, cutting our way with an energy born of fear, till
floundering up to the waists in a deep morass, we were forced to retrace
our steps. We now realised the awe that the forest can inspire, for in
the darkness which had suddenly descended it was impossible to see, and
the imagination conjured up snakes and odious things in close proximity.
To add to the horror of it all, my companion pointed out that we should
have to climb a tree and wait till morning. My tired limbs ached in
anticipation of the further effort required of them. My feet were sore
and heavy, and the cool night air made my flesh creep under damp,
clinging garments, and I felt ready to sink down and let events take
their course, without attempting to battle any more against
circumstances. We shouted, in hopes that our voices might reach the camp
and bring assistance, shouted all together, until our faces must have
been as black as the darkness that surrounded us. The negroes and
Indians were in dreadful apprehension, their imaginations conjuring up
demons of the wood and “duppies” in every moving branch. Strange,
uncanny noises added to the unpleasantness of the situation, and when I
ventured to quote to my companion, “There is a pleasure in the pathless
wood,” he retorted, “It must have retired for the night, as we can’t
find it. Still, it’s very gratifying to know it is around somewhere.” I
paid no attention, but continued, “There is a rapture by the lonely
shore.” He admitted that might be true, for, as he said, you knew where
you were. “There is society where none intrude,” I added. But by this
time my companion had no proper appreciation of Childe Harold’s
meditations, and implored me to help him in roaring, instead of wasting
my breath on stuff like poetry. At last we heard a faint “Halloo,” which
came from the opposite direction to that which we had been attempting to
take, and we made a fresh united effort to raise a loud yell. The
inhabitants of the forest, monkeys, parrots, and strange, unknown
animals, wondering doubtless what all the shouting was about, started
jabbering, screaming, and growling, as if to drown our cries. We had
been standing with water reaching to our knees, overcome with an acute
sense of helplessness and afraid to venture in any direction. The
answering shouts from the camp grew louder, and we knew that help was at
hand; and when at last lights appeared, and, guided by our shouts,
approached us, we experienced a feeling of intense relief. We made our
way towards the lights, and found they were carried by a party of men
from the camp, who conducted us to the not far-distant trail, and after
about a half-hour’s walk we arrived at the camp we had been seeking. A
hearty welcome from “the boys,” who had grown anxious at our
non-appearance, and a meal consisting of hot coffee, biscuits, Boston
beans, and jam was quickly set before us in one of the huts. In the dim
light of the oil lamp we did ample justice to this simple fare, for we
were as hungry as we were tired. At one end of the long hut six bunks
had been placed, and already some of the party had turned in for the
night, under the mosquito bars with which each was provided. It was only
when I tried to remove my soaking boots and raiment that I realised that
the bundle containing my dry clothing was in charge of Harvey, who was
far behind us in the bush. Guns were fired off to direct him and his
companion to the camp, but after waiting for a couple of hours we gave
up expecting their arrival until morning. I was rigged out in sleeping
clothes that were fairly dry, and turned in under a mosquito bar tired
out in body, but awake in mind. We talked together for some hours, and
speculated as to how poor Harvey and the Indian would be feeling, and
how they would spend the night. Doubtless Harvey would recall our
conversation of the morning, and would be thinking that the retribution
and punishment which we had told him overtake drunkards had caught him
up. One thing was quite certain, both he and his companions would be
almost scared to death by fear of evil spirits or “duppies,” which are
reported amongst the natives to inhabit the forest. All the strange
noises that they hear are put down as emanating from the mysterious
being who presides over the spirits that they believe infest the gloomy
recesses of the woods. Confused notions prevail among the Indians and
negroes, in spite of their outward adherence to the Christian faith, for
they still retain a strong though disguised belief in the superstitions
of their ancestors.

Harvey and his comrade had been perforce left in their distress, as it
would have been impossible to persuade or force any of their companions
to go in search of them. None of the camp, Indian or negro, would
venture after nightfall into the eerie caverns of the bush. Before sleep
came to me the rain fell with great violence, making a sound like waves
lashing upon rocks during a storm, and innumerable sand-flies found
their way under the mosquito curtain, and settled down to torment my
aching limbs. The “pesky” sand-fly, small and insignificant, can inflict
more suffering upon the human race than many another insect fifty times
its size. The sensation of myriads of these small flies hovering around
my feet felt at first as if innumerable particles of gritty dust had got
between the sheets, and I paid little heed to them; but after about an
hour of their attention I was fully convinced of my mistake, and
realised that the sand-flies had discovered a new feeding-ground.

Some years ago, when on board a steamer which had run ashore on the
Tampico River, in Mexico, I had experiences of what these small pests
were capable of accomplishing. On that occasion a companion and myself
had been so severely bitten about the ankles, wrists, and face that any
casual observer would have avoided contact with us for fear of taking
smallpox. Dreading a further experience of these insects, I covered up
my face with a handkerchief, and mumbled to myself the poet’s plea:

    “I crave but this: That from the different kinds
       Of insects cursing night and day
     (The entomologist claims that he finds
       Five hundred thousand so they say),

    “Thou wilt at once destroy, annihilate,
       Permit no longer to exist--
     Efface, cut off, rub out, obliterate
       The pesky sandfly from the list!”

At last half-stifled I fell into a disturbed slumber, from which, very
early in the morning, I was awakened by the screams of the birds,
monkeys, and parrots all round, and on looking out of the hut the
strange beauty of the scene made me eager to get up and go outside to
take ample stock of the camp and surroundings. The heavy morning mists
hung all around, imparting a soft, mysterious aspect to the forest. It
was as if an elusive veil of finest silver gauze had been spread from
tree to tree by hidden fairy fingers. The smoke ascending from the camp
fires seemed almost solid against the pearly background of the

[Illustration: SEBASTIAN.]

woods, and so unreal did it all appear that one expected every moment it
would fade away, as dreams do. And so it did, for as the sun rose higher
the mists melted and disappeared, and the strange outlines and varied
forms of trees and creeping vines stood plainly forth. We went down to a
stream that ran near the camp and bathed in water that was warm but
still refreshing. On our return we found the men whose huts were about
forty yards away from ours busy preparing and eating their morning meal,
sharpening machetes, spreading out damp clothes to dry, mending and
patching garments that seemed unworthy of attention, drying, or trying
to dry, great hobnailed boots by placing them over fires that shot up
threatening flames around them. One man was at a biscuit tin filled with
water, rinsing and beating a mud-stained shirt, in the vain endeavour to
cleanse it from the all-pervading dirt; while near him another hacked
with a machete at a pair of heavy top boots, removing great slices of
half-dried mud at every blow. But all of them abruptly ceased from their
occupations when Harvey and his comrade came shouting gleefully into the
clearing. They were sorry-looking wrecks, mud-stained and dishevelled,
with their clothes hanging about them in tatters. All the camp crowded
round them, and I was rather relieved to find that Harvey had not
abandoned the great bundle which contained, amongst other things, my
clothes; and while he untied the parcel we questioned him about his
experiences in the bush. He was quite sober now, but although he had
regained some of his natural obsequious manner, he was inclined to be a
trifle boastful after the night’s exploit. “What man dat say dere be
‘duppies’ in the wood?” he asked vehemently. “Dat man he lie, for dere
don’t be no ‘duppies,’ no, not one at all, in de whole bush. Dere don’t
be nothin’ ’cept them monkeys, tigers, snakes, and other tings.” “But
you were a little frightened, Harvey, weren’t you?” I inquired.

“No, massa, not a bit frightened, not a bit. Sebastian, he war kin’ o’
skeered, so I made him light a fire to keep away dem tiger cats, and
made him keep awake, to see if any ob dem ‘duppies’ was about. But dere
don’t be no ‘duppies,’ not a ting in de bush at all to be skeered of.”

In consideration for the trials the two men had passed through, they
were permitted to take a day off work and recover from the fright they
had undoubtedly received; and, if I am not mistaken, Harvey had suffered
more alarm than his dull and less imaginative companion. After this
interlude the day’s work began in real earnest, each surveyor taking
with him an escort of five or six labourers, to cut their way in
different directions, measuring levels and distances, and surveying the
contour of the country. The troches which they cut into the bush form
long, straight tunnels, but the progress they make is slow. Each day the
distance from the camp cut in this manner is increased, and parties have
a two hours’ walk through the troches before they arrive at the point
they had reached the previous day. The levels and the land surveyed
during the morning are carefully recorded and marked on the large charts
upon the return to camp. Thus day after day knowledge is gained of a
country hitherto untrodden by human footsteps. The party that I was
visiting had been engaged upon this work for over six months, and one of
their number had never once during all that period left the bush.
Magazines, newspapers, and letters arrived at camp once a week, but
visitors never came, and mine was the first strange face he had seen for
half a year. He was a quiet cultured, well-educated youth, energetic,
and in love with his work, well content to be gaining an experience in
his profession denied to those less venturous and plodding than himself.
On my return journey from the camp I was guided by a small Indian boy,
strong, fleet of foot, who although encumbered with my baggage yet
raced along the trail with such rapidity that I was in danger of losing
sight of him. After a mile or two I wished to call a halt, but was
unsuccessful in making him understand my wishes, so I was forced to keep
up with him as best I could, and wait until we arrived at the deserted
camp before taking a rest. When we arrived I sat again in the shelter
afforded by the now abandoned hut, and rested for an hour or more,
marvelling at the wonder all around me. Confused masses of shrubs and
plants met my gaze, which would have been greeted with enthusiastic
admiration if seen in English hot-houses. Wild bananas grew in large
clumps, their long leaves torn by the wind, their stems covered with
climbing ferns. Bamboos sixty or seventy feet high swayed in the
faintest breeze and creaked in every joint.

The richest woodland in northern latitudes is tame compared with the
tropical forest. During the midday heat the leaves where the sun beats
on them became lax and drooping and languishing for the rain to come and
cheer them. While I sat there under the shade of the rude cabin the heat
and tension became almost insupportable, and languor and sleepiness fell
upon me. As the sun blazed down upon the clearing myriads of humming,
buzzing insects filled the air. The white rolling clouds which passed
overhead were quickly changing to a leaden hue, and darkness,
intensified by contrast with the brilliant light it superseded, covered
the scene. Lightning flashed and thunder rolled, and deafened with its
noise. A mighty wind arose and swayed the tall trees all around, the
rustling of whose million leaves added to the roaring sound that made my
head grow dizzy. Then the rain came. Nothing can compare with the storm
that burst. Even the thickly padded roof of palm leaves above my head
was not impervious to the deluge, and very soon I was wet with the great
splashes that came bursting through. So violent was its descent, that
upon reaching the earth the water rebounded in all directions, so that
even had the roof proved water-tight, sufficient water found entrance
upwards to swamp the hut. The storm ceased as suddenly as it had come,
the black clouds dissipated and passed away, then the serene, deep blue
sky again looked down upon the glistening landscape. Before leaving the
clearing I strolled around, and one giant tree of enormous girth
attracted my attention. The buttresses at its base made by the roots
rising out of the ground formed huge stalls that would have accommodated
six good-sized ponies. Its age, not easily determined, must have been
great, and it had seen thousands of storms like the one that had just
passed over it. It was long past its early youth when Europeans first
landed on these shores. The ancients supposed that trees were all
immortal, and modern botanists have proved that many are almost
indestructible, and may have witnessed the struggles of the earliest
man. At last we started off to complete the journey home. When we
arrived at the bank of the river we were fortunate in discovering a
canoe moored to a branch. I felt a little reluctant to trust myself to
the skill of the mere boy who accompanied me, but there was no help for
it, so seating myself at one end of the narrow craft I awaited anxiously
our arrival on the opposite bank. In spite of his diminutive
proportions, however, the urchin was quite an adept with the paddle, and
accomplished the journey against a swiftly flowing stream in a manner
that showed he was accustomed to the navigation of the river. After we
landed the journey was comparatively easy, but I was glad when we
arrived at the headquarters house from which I had started. Finding my
way along the railway track past houses inhabited by workers on the
line, I arrived at the village and railway station, whence I got a train
that carried me back to comparative civilisation.



INDEX


Aborigines, 234, 236, 237, 238, 251, 294

Acla, 30, 32

Aconcagua, 177

Almagro, 140, 142, 161

Alonzo de Ojeda, 17, 18

Alpaca, the, 139

Amazon, the, 220, 298

Antofagasta, 157

Araucanians, 158, 161, 162, 163

Architecture (Peru), 151

Arequipa, 149, 151

Argentina, 167

Arica, 145

Armadillo, the, 183

Asuncion, 226, 231

Atahualpa, 128, 141, 142

Atrato, river, 72, 79, 80

Avenida, Beira-mar, 265, 266

    “    Central (Rio), 266

    “    de Mayo (Buenos Ayres), 168

Ayacusho (battle of), 153


B

Bahia, 295, 296

Bahia Blanca, 170, 171

Balboa, 57

Balbao, Vasco Nuñez de, 18, 19, 21, 22, 26, 27, 28, 30, 32, 33

Balmaceda, José, 162, 164

Barranquilla, 124

Beira-mar, Avenida, 265, 266

Belgrano, General, 241

Bello Horizonte, 288, 290

Bird life on the plains, 195

Bogota, 117, 125

Boliche (native spirit), 183

Bolivar, Simon, 117, 144, 152, 240

Bolivia, 146, 152, 154, 155

Botanical Gardens (Rio), 276

Botofogo, 265, 266

Braganza, Duke of, 255

Branding stock, 190

Brazil, war with Paraguay, 245, 249, 350

Brazilians, 255, 257, 259, 268, 269, 270

Breaking-in horses, 188

Buccaneers, 34-47

Buenos Ayres, 167-170

Bulwer-Clayton Treaty, 76


C

Cabral, 252

Caliche deposits, 165

Callao, 131, 138

Camp, the, 180-196

Canal Commission, 62

  “   Projects, 72-96

  “   Zone, 50

Cape Frio, 253

Cartagena, 18, 40, 119, 125

Cattle Industry, 198

Chagres, 41, 45, 46

   “     river, 55, 56, 86, 91, 338

Chamber of Deputies (Rio), 271

Children of the Sun, 138

Chili, 145

Chilian army in Lima, 135

Chilian nitre, 164

Chilians, the, 157

Christobal, 50

Churches in Panama, 99-102

Coca, 146

Cocaine, 146

Cochrane, Lord Thomas, 162

Coelho, Goncalo, 265

Coffee, 327-337

Colombia, 117, 125

Colon, 48, 50, 52, 53, 63

Colon (Argentina), 201-209

Columbus, Christopher, 17, 48

Concordia, 210

Condor, the (of the Andes), 175

Conquest of Peru, 142

Coquimbo, 157

Conquistadores, 20, 22, 26, 32, 117, 128, 140-143

Copacabana (Rio), 276

Corcovada, 263

Cordillera, the, 175

Corrientes, 199, 216

Cortex, 72

Corumba, 220-222

Cruces, 42, 43, 45

Culebra cutting, 54, 57

  “     slides at, 94

Cullen, Dr., 78

Curious burial customs, 105

Cuyaba, 220

Cuzco, 138, 140, 149-151


D

Davis, Admiral (report on Canal), 80

De Lesseps, 50, 80-84, 86-88

Deodoro, Marshal, 261, 279

Dias, Fernão, 292

Discovery of gold in Brazil, 292

Drake, Sir Francis, 120

Drysalting in Argentine, 204

Dutch in South America, 255-256

Dwellings, primitive, 22


E

Early Adventurers, 17-25

Ecuador, 127-130

Estancias, 173, 203

Excursions from Rio, 286


F

Fazendas, 329

Flat arch in Panama, 94, 101

Forest, a tropical, 338-350

Formosa, 224

Francia, Dr., 228, 240-243

French canal company, 83, 86, 90, 91

Frey Bentos, 200, 209

Frigorificos, 186, 200, 205

Frontin, Dr. Paul de, 274

Frozen meat trade, 204


G

Galisteo, 76

Galvao, 72

Gatun, 57

Gauchos, 180, 184-188

Germans in South America, 142, 156, 185, 251, 273, 286, 302

Gisborne, Lionel, 78

Gondra, President of Paraguay, 246

Goyaz, 220

Grand Chaco, 222

Great Central Railway, Brazil, 289, 294

Guano deposits, 138, 166

Guarani Indians, 192, 232, 234, 247

Guayaquil, 127


H

Hay-Herran, treaty, 93

Hides, 206

Horses (Argentine), 188, 206

Hospitals (Canal Zone), 53, 63

Huascar, 128, 141

Humboldt, 166


I

Incas of Peru, 128, 134, 138, 139, 144, 161

Ipanema, 276

Isthmian Canal Commission, 91

Italians in Brazil, 251

Itamarity Palace, 272


J

Jara, Albino, President of Paraguay, 246

Jenkins’s ear (war of), 120

Jesuits in South America, 220, 234, 236, 242, 254, 302, 320

João IV, 255

João VI, 257, 276

Jockey Club, Buenos Ayres, 168, 170

José de Garay, 76

Journey across the Andes, 176, 177


L

Labour on the isthmus, 55, 60, 71

Lage, Antonio, 278, 282, 283

Lage Iramos, 295, 298

Lages River, 275

Lake Titicaca, 151, 156, 157

Land of Nitrates, 157-166

La Paz, 149, 156, 222

La Plata, 171, 172

Liebig Extract of Meat Co., 200-203, 209

Leme, 276

Leopoldina Railway, 286, 287

Light and Power Company, Rio, 275

  “       “      “       São Paulo, 319

Lima, 131, 132, 134

Limon Bay, 51

Liot, Captain, R.N., report on Canal route, 75

Live Industry, a, 197, 207

Llama, the 139

Locusts in Paraguay, 243

Lopez, Carlos, 244

Lopez, Francesco, 229, 244, 245

Luque, 140

Lynch, Madame, 244


M

Magdalena, river, 124

Manzanilla, island, 48

Maranhão, revolt of, 255

Martinique, women of, 64-66

Maté, 186, 192-194

Matto Grosso, 220, 245

Melgarejo, President of Bolivia, 155, 156

Mendoza, 173-174

  “ wine of, 213

Mercedes, 216

Mihanovitch Steamship Company, 208

Minas Geraes, 288, 291

Miramar, 160

Missiones, 199

Misti, mountain, 151

Mitre, General Bartolomé, 197

Mollendo, 149, 150

Montevideo, 200, 209

Moreno, 129

Morgan, Henry, 36, 37, 45


N

National Library, Rio, 267

Negro labour, 60

Nelson, Horatio, 76

New Granada, 117

Newspaper offices, Rio, 267

Nicaragua, canal scheme, 76, 77, 92

Nictheroy (Rio), 265

Nitrates, 164

Novo Friburgo, 288


O

O’Higgins, 160, 162

Opera House (Rio), 267

Ouro Preto, 289

Ouvidor, Rua do (Rio), 265-268


P

Palace of Fine Arts (Rio), 267

Palacete do Friburgo (Rio), 272

Panama, 17, 33, 40

  “ cemetery, 105

  “ churches, 99, 100, 101

  “ country life, 67

  “ founded, 97

  “ old, 107

  “ Plaza, 108

  “ Railroad, 49

  “ scandals, 50

  “ social functions in, 113, 116

Panamanians, 104, 150

Paraguay, 208, 226, 232, 240, 260

  “ river, 214, 219, 238, 241

Parahyba, river, 275

Parana, river, 200, 238, 300

Parnahyba Falls, 319

Paulistas, 254, 293

Paysandu, 209

Pearl Islands, 32

Pedrarias, 29, 140

Pedro I, 259

Penna, President of Brazil, 273

Penteado, Condé de, 310

Peoples of Brazil, 249

Pernambuco, 253, 296, 297

Peru, 136-147

Petropolis, 286

Piraguas, 124

Pirapora, 323

Pizarro, 20, 153, 161, 162

Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Ayres, 168

Politics in Colombia, 119

Poncho, the, 186

Portobello, 37, 38

Portuguese, 252, 254

  “ houses, 300

Posadas, 214

Prado, Antonio, 330

Puno, 151


Q

Quito, 127


R

Railways of Peru, 144

Resources of Peru, 137

Revolutions in Colombia, 119

  “         in Ecuador, 130

  “         in Paraguay, 245

  “         in Rio, 280-281

Rhea, the, 181, 182

Rio Branco, Baron de, 272

Rio de Janeiro, 254, 328

  “      “ harbour, 263, 265

River Plate, 220

Rocafuerte, 129

Rogas, Liberado M., 247

Roosevelt, Theodore, 59, 95, 103

Rosario, 170, 171

Royal Mail Steam-Packet Company, 75, 295, 299

Rural Society, Argentina, 206


S

Saavedra, Angel, 72

Saladero, the, 186, 198, 199, 200

Salto, 210, 213

San Lorenzo, 40

San Martin, General, 128, 160, 177, 178, 212, 217

San Miguel, Gulf of, 28

Santa Cruz (Rio), 278

Santa Maria de la Antigua del Darien, 18

São Paulo, 254, 262, 267, 299-318

  “   “ Early history, 302, 328

  “   “ Light and Power Company, 319

São Paulo Railway, 317

  “   “ Theatre, 309

Savana, river, 78

Selfridge, Commander, 79

Serra do Mar, 301

Sharp’s Map, 220

Shipbuilding in Brazil, 283

Slave Trade, 34, 251.

Swiss colony in Brazil, 288

Sun worshippers, 139


T

Tacna, 145

Tarapaca, 145

Tehuantepec route, 76, 80

Temple of the Sun, 151

Tieté, river, 300, 322

Tijuca, 276

Ticlio, 144

Titicaca, lake, 151, 156, 157

Tobago, 59

Tortuga, 34, 35, 47

Tumbez, 138, 140

Trans-Andean Railway, 178


U

Uruguay, 199, 200, 208, 246


V

Valdivia, 162

Valparaiso, 157, 158

Venezuela, 117

Vernon, Admiral, 121

Vespucci, Amerigo, 253

Vianna, island, 278

Villetta, 224, 248

Vina do Mar, 160


W

Wentworth, General, 121

Wheelwright’s survey for Canal, 75


Y

Yellow fever, 124

Yerba (maté), 186, 192, 193, 194, 232

Ypiranga, 306


                    WILLIAM BRENDON AND SON, LTD.,
                          PRINTERS, PLYMOUTH,

                   *       *       *       *       *

                        A Page of Travel-Books


     California: An Englishman’s Impression of the Golden State.

     By A. T. JOHNSON. With many illustrations. Demy 8vo, cloth gilt,
     10s. 6d. net.

Mr. Johnson declares that California is a land “where wealth accumulates
and men decay.” He notes the Californian’s egoism and distrust, and,
without dwelling on the history or politics of the State, gives a record
of observations of the simple and everyday things of life in the Far
West.


     Everyman’s Eldorado--British South America.

     By EDITH A. BROWNE, Author of “Peeps at Greece and Spain,” etc.
     Fully illustrated. Demy 8vo, cloth gilt, 125. 6d. net.

British Guiana is an undeveloped country with a high commercial value
and a delightful climate: a land where the holiday-maker can explore
unbeaten tracks without discomfort and enjoy to the full the fascination
of unique surroundings. Miss Edith A. Browne relates the history of the
country, discusses its future, and in her charming style gives
picturesque descriptions.


Half Hours in the Levant.

     By ARCHIBALD B. SPENS, Author of “Love’s Outlaws,” etc. With 32
     illustrations. Crown 8vo, 1s. net.

Mr. Spens is a novelist of some repute, and this rambling and discursive
book of travels in the Near East is enlivened by his “by the way” notes.
He visited Algeria, Constantinople, Corsica, Crete, Naples, and many
other places of interest. The book might be compared to Mark Twain’s
“Innocents Abroad.”


The Lords of the Devil’s Paradise.

     By G. SIDNEY PATERNOSTER, Author of “The Hand of the Spoiler,” etc.
     With several illustrations. Crown 8vo, cloth gilt, 5s. net.

This book tells the story of the Putumayo Rubber Atrocities in its
entirety, putting the blame on the right shoulders and showing the steps
which led to the exposure. Mr. Paternoster has been for twenty-two years
connected with “Truth,” the paper which first published the terrible
account, and his description is therefore authoritative. Several
illustrations from photographs emphasize the truth of the story.


                      LONDON: STANLEY PAUL & CO.
                     31 ESSEX STREET, STRAND, W.C.


FOOTNOTES:

[1] _Ilex paraguayensis_ is the scientific name of the yerba shrub or
tree. Amongst other varieties from which tea is obtained are the _I.
curitibensis_, _I. gigantea_, _I. ovalifolia_, _I. humboldtiana_.

[2] Bartolomé Mitre was born in 1821, and was, after a military career,
selected President in 1862. In 1865 he allied his country with Brazil
in operations against Paraguay.

[3] One or two of the planters were notable exceptions to the general
opposition to the liberation. Antonio du Silva Prado, a wealthy
Paulista and the owner of hundreds of slaves, performed a noble act
when he set all his negroes at liberty before the law was passed, and
many planters in São Paulo followed his example by freeing their slaves
forthwith.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Tour Through South America" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home