|Information about the text|
|TABLE OF CONTENTS|
|Introduction to Reprint Edition|
|I||Soil and Produce|
|II||Description of the Indian Country|
|III||Continuation of the Description|
|IV||An Account of the Inhabitants|
|V||Religion, Government, Policy|
To those who have made any study of the natural history of that part of South America lying between the Andes and the Atlantic, the Rio de la Plata and Strait of Magellan, the name of Thomas Falkner is well known. His A Description of Patagonia was used as a textbook on the Adventure and Beagle, studied, and quoted repeatedly in the reports of Charles Darwin (who calls the author Falconer), Captain P. Parker King, and Captain Robert Fitzroy; and a list of works in which direct or indirect quotations from Falkner appear comprises a bibliography of the Pampa and Patagonia.
However, to most students Falkner is known only through footnotes, for although his book has been translated into German, French, and twice into Spanish, few libraries have it an any language, and the only English edition—the original, published in 1774 A.D.— has been a collector's item for over a century. In 1836 A.D. an editor of the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London wrote of it: “This curious work, which is now scarce and rarely to be met with, contains the only description hitherto published of the country to the south of Buenos Aires, upon which any reliance can be placed. … Our readers will find a copy of it in the library of the Society. …” Two decades earlier Robert Southey, the poet and historian, inscribed on the fly-leaf of one that he placed in his library in 1815 A.D.: “This volume having been printed in the country, and not in a substantial form, is rarely to be met with. I borrowed a copy from Sir Joseph Banks' library before I could obtain one for myself.‘R. S.”
We were fortunate in locating and securing a copy of the work. It has been reprinted in this volume, a full-size facsimile of the original edition, complete from title-part to ‘The End,’ and including the map§ in two parts.
§ Map by Thomas Kitchin, 1772.
Thomas Falkner* was born in Manchester, England, Oct. 6, 1707, of Irish parentage, and following his father's profession studied medicine under the celebrated Dr. Richard Mead. He practised briefly in Manchester, but his health was poor and a sea voyage seemed advisable, so in 1731 he arranged to travel as surgeon on a ship of the South Sea Company, which at the time held a contract to supply the Spanish colonies with slaves. The ship on which he was given a berth stopped on the African coast to load a cargo of human freight, and turned toward the Rio de la Plata.
* Dictionary of National Biography, ed. by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, New Yor, n.d. (1885-1901), vol. XVIII, pp. 169-170.
Records of the English Province of the Society of Jesus, ed. by Henry Foley, London, 1877-83, vol. IV, pp. 563-565, and VII., pp. 243-245.
Gillow, Joseph, Bibliographical Dictionary of the English Catholics, London, 1886, vol. II., p. 224.
Mulhall, Michael G., The English in South America, Buenos Aires, n.d. (1878), pp.79-86.
Mulhall, Michael G., Laguna de los Padres, in The Month, London, vol LXIII, 1888, p. 220.
The voyage, instead of benefiting, so weakened him that he arrived in South America in complete collapse, and with no hope of surviving an immediate return trip. He was in a strange land, and the colonists were almost hostile to the English; the captain looked for some countryman who might care for Dr. Falkner until he recovered, or until the arrival of the next ship from England, and turned to Father Machoney, an Irishman, Superior of the Jesuit college of St. Ignatius in Buenos Aires. Father Machoney welcomed the invalid, and the Jesuits nursed him back to health. Falkner was a Protestant (a Presbyterian, it is said), but their kind treatment converted him to Catholicism, and a few months later, in May, 1732, when he was 24 years of age, he entered the Jesuit order (the Society of Jesus). He took his last vows in January, 1749.§
§ In Chapter XXII of his Narrative, FitzRoy inserts a lengthy footnote (page 25) copied verbatim from James Colnett's Voyage to the South Atlantic …, in which that author states the Jesuits “…so worked upon his [Falkner's] mind, as to persuade him to … become one of their order.” Colnett does not reveal the source of his information, nor does FitzRoy explain why he inserted his footnote. Perhaps both authors wanted to make clear that their admiration of Falkner did extend to his religion.
After several years in the college at Buenos Aires and in the great Jesuit university at Cordoba, he was introduced to missionary work in Paraguay and northern Argentina, and after proving his ability, in the latter part of the 1730s was sent to the Puelches, between the Rios Segundo and Cuarto, where he began his life among the Indians.
At this time all of the continent south of Buenos Aires and east of the Andes, vaguely designated “Patagonia” (see note 102:11), was unknown and unexplored, and practically no missionary work had been done there. About 1740 a Jesuit, Father Strobel, went into the country and founded the first mission among the eastern Puelche and Tehuelche Indians, at Cape San Antonio, but he was handicapped because the natives were accustomed to depending on their priests for medical attention, and Father Strobel, not being a physician, could not compete with the “wizards.” He reported his difficulties to Father Machoney at Buenos Aires, and Falkner was recalled from the west and sent to his assistance. Together they were singularly successful; their settlement flourished, and in 1747 they supervised the building, by the Indians, of a chapel at Laguna de los Padres; it still stands.§ Falkner also founded two missions between the Vulcan and Tandil ranges.
§ The Jesuit mission Nuestra Señora del Pilar was founded in 1746 and abandoned about five years later. The “it still stands” presumably refers to a replica of the original mission chapel, which may still be seen on the shore of the lagoon.
He was fond of travel, and traversed much of the country, but dates and details of his movements are not known except that in 1746 he accompanied a Spanish expedition that surveyed the Atlantic coast to the Strait of Magellan. However, “Patagonia” today is applied to only the Argentine provinces south of Rio Negro, and after a study of his work we would say that except for the coastal trip he barely entered what we now understand to be Patagonia. He describes the valley of the Rio Negro and most of Argentina north of it as an eye-witness, but he depends on the relations of missionaries, Indians, and Spanish captives whom he rescued from the aborigines, for a description of the interior of the contenent below the Negro.
The length of his stay among the Indians is uncertain; it did not exceed twenty years in all, for when he left South America he had the reputation of being one of the greatest physicians in Argentina and Paraguay. This honor must have been earned after his experiences in the wilderness, and it indicates years of medical practise in the cities.
When Spain ordered all Jesuits expelled from its colonies Father Falkner, then 60 years old, was among those who on Jan. 14, 1768, were placed on board a Swedish vessel, the Venus, manned by Lutherans, bound for Europe. Despite the hardships of his life in South America, on his return to England he was still “active in mind and body, brusque in his manners,” and “by his long intercourse with the inhabitants of Patagonia, he seems to have lost all European guile, and to have acquired all the simplicity, and honest impetuosity, of the people he has been so long conversant with.* He rested for a year or two with friends, but inaction did not agree with him; at his own request in 1771 he was transferred to the English Province of the Society of Jesus, and successively acted as chaplain to Robert Berkeley at Spetchley Park, near Worcester, to the Beringtons at Winsley in Herefordshipre, and finally to the Plowdens at Plowden Hall, Shropshire, where he died Jan. 30, 1784, in his 77th year.
* From the introduction to Thomas Pennant's Of the Patagonians. Formed from the Relation of Father Falkner, a Jesuit … printed at the private press of George Allen of Darlington, 1788, reprinted in the Literary Life of the Late Thomas Pennant, Esq., by Himself, London, 1793. Pennant wrote the paper in 1771.
Robert Berkeley,* on whose estate Falkner first served as chaplain, was a political writer, and though he speaks of friendly commerce, it appears that in his conversations with the Jesuit he saw possibilities of adding Patagonia, if not all of Argentina, to the English possessions in America.§ He had Mr. Kitchin make a map under Falkner's guidance, and asked the latter to write a description of the country shown on the map. Falkner did, and included many observations and narratives of his experiences; Berkeley took the manuscript, and placed it in the hands of William Combe,† who later became famous as the author of “Doctor Syntax,” for revision. His orders to Combe seem to have been to eliminate anything that might distract from Berkeley's theme, and to conceal the identity of the writer; to make it appear, as the fist page of the Preface states, that it was written by “a person … who had been employed in surveying and making charts of the country.” He intended to publish it as an anonymous work; he does not say what changed his mind on that.§§ Berkeley wrote the Preface, and as Falkner does not call the country “Patagonia,” Berkeley must have given the work its title.
§ Parts of Chapter II contain broad hints at some possibilites.
* Dictionary of National Biography, IV, 367.
† Idem, XI, 430-435.
§§ The second paragraph of the Advertisement which follows was appareently inserted to inform the reader of the change, but without offering an explanation for it.
The resulting publication could not have been satisfactory to Falkner, and it was not pleasing to his friends. The Rev. Joseph Berington,* a member of the family with whom he lived after leaving Berkeley, said: “Father Falkner was a man of a vigorous mind, well exercised in various points of science, and, had be been allowed to tell his story in his own way, stored as his mind was with anecdotes and incidents on which he delighted to dwell, we should have had from him an amusing and interesting performance. But his papers were put into the hands of Robert Berkeley, of Spetchely, Esq., who extracted from them the whole spirit of the original, and made them what they are.”
* Idem, IV, 337-339.
After Falkner's death several Jesuits who had known him in South America wrote to the Plowdens, with whom he made his last residence, expressing the high regards in which he was held by his brothers, and they asked to be advised when publication was made of several works they understood him to have written or edited Their subjects were:
The Plowdens did not have them, and the whereabouts of the manuscripts, if they are still in existence, is not recorded.
Although Falkner's work has been discuised as a political pamphlet, we have Berkeley's assurance that “nothing has been added to the narrative of the old traveller,” so it is of general interest as the first connected description of Argentina, and of particular value to ethnologists as a source-record on the culture of the Araucanian, Tehuelche (Tsonecan), and Puelche (Gennaken) Indians, preceding the next authorities on the latter two by a full centure.
Our knowledge of the Countries and Inhabitants of the Southern Hemisphere has been of late considerably enlarged, and it is hoped that the present publication may prove no unacceptable addition to what has been written on that subject. It is needless to point out to the curious reader the several circumstances of agreement or disagreement, in manners and language, between the nations here described and others we have had accounts of. But it may be proper to take notice, that a great difference will be found beween M. Bougainville and our Author, with regard to Falkland's Islands; which must be left to the judgement of the public.
When the Preface was printed off, it was not intended that the Author's name should have been mentioned; but a certain unexpected event has removed all scruples on that head.
The Preface was written by Robert Berkeley. See the Introduction above for a little background information on the writer.
The establishment of an English colony in Falkland's Islands is said to be in consequence of an opinion of the late Lord Anson, who thought that a settlement, and the securing a good harbour for English ships, in the southern seas of America, was a proper measure for extending the commerce and marine empire of Great Britain. This consideration induced me to imagine, that any information concerning the geography, inhabitants, and other particulars, of the most southern part of the American continent, might be of some public utility, and might also afford some amusement to the curious. Wherefore, becoming acquainted with a person who had resided near forty years in South America, and had been employed in furveying and making charts of the country, I obtained the favour of him to make a map, according to what he had himself observed, and what he had discovered from the relation of others; to which he added a description of the country, and of the Indian inhabitants. He has also mentioned such particulars of the productions of the country as may be articals of commerce, or were of service in his medical profession. Some alteration has been made in the language and order of what he had wrote; but nothing has been added to the narrative of the old traveller.
Another reason for this publication is, that whenever a thorough reconciliation takes place between the courts of London and Madrid, it is probably that English merchants may be again permitted to carry on the slave trade, and perhaps some other branches of commerce in the Rilver of Plate.
The Spaniards having no settlements on the coasts of Africa, where the slaves are bought, have made Assiento contracts; that is, let as a farm, to merchants of other nations, a contract for supplying Spanish America with African slaves.
The English South Sea Company had an exclusive grant of such a contract from the making of the peace of Utrecht until the war broke out with Spain in the year 1739; and the Company had a factory at Buenos-Ayres, from whence the slave trade was carried on much more advantageously, not only with the great provinces of Buenos-Ayres, Paraguay, and Tucuman, but likewise with the kingdoms of Peru and Chili, than it was by Portobello and Panama. The voyage is much shorter; the climate healthier; and provisions better, and in greater plenty; horses and land-carriage are so cheap, that European goods may be sent from Buenos-Ayres to Potosi, and other parts of Peru, at a less expencee, and with less hazard, than to Portobello, carried over the isthmus, and re-shipped at Panama for the ports of Peru and Chili. Buenos-Ayres, and the barbours of the River of La Plata, are not only of great importance to the Spaniards in the course of trade, but their empire in South America in great measure depends on their being in possession of those harbours; for their ships going round Cape Horn to Chili and Peru, must in the long voyage be supplied with provisions in the River of Plate, or depend on the Pourtuguese, and put into some port of the Brazils.
As it is probably that English ships may one day enter the River of Plate, either as friends or enemies, the harbours in that river are described, and an account is given of the fish that are there taken. A plan of the river would likewise have been given, but that there is one already published in Charlevoix's History of Paraguay, in which the soundings were set down with great accuracy; but alterations frequenly happen in the sand banks of that river. Since the French and Spanish Monarchs have entered into their family compact, French trading vessels are often seein the River of Plate, and other Spanish American harbours, and a company of French merchants are said to have obtained a grant of the Assiento contract. the English may again be the favoured nation in the Spanish trade, as they were formerly: for of all the commercial treaties, which the court of Spain had agreed to with foreign nations, there were none so favourable as that of 1676 with the English, as Sir William Godolphin, the minister employed in making that treaty, asserts in a letter to Lord Arlington.
In order to shew that there are grounds for the conjecture, that, at some future period of time, the English may be considered as the most useful and desireable allies of the Spaniards, and on whom they may rely with the greatest safety, it will be necessary for me to exceed the bounds of an introductory discourse; but the subject is interesting, and what I offer may give occasion to its being treated in a more ample and better manner.
If the mutual wants, and common interests, of the subjects of Great Britain and of Spain, are considered in all their different relations to each other, and to other powers, it will appear, that there are no two nations in the world, to whom a perpetual alliance would bring greater and more permanent advantages. The Spaniards are so convinced of the truth of this assertion, that it hwas long been a proverbial saying among them, Peace with England and War with all the World; and Sir William Temple observes, that the Spaniards, in his time, placed their hope in England, where their inclination carries them as well as their interest. When the Kings of Spain were more powerful than at present, and when they were Socereigns of all, or of a considerable part of the Netherlands, there might, on the part of the English, be some objections to a close and lasting union with the Spaniards. The vicinity of the Flemish harbours, and the manufactures and course of trade of the English and Flemish merchants being nearly the same, were causes of jealousy and contention, besides many other political views that no longer exist, since the Kings of Spain have been deprived of all the Seventeen Provinces of the Low Countires. A mistaken zeal for religion has sometimes prevented advantageous alliances; but that is daily becoming less inclined to violent measures, and less connected with the general policy of the state.
The many arguments for toleration, published in this and towards the latter end of the last century, though they have not brought about all the good effects that may hereafter be expected from the most beneficent principles supported by the clearest reasoning, yet they have at least so far had their influence in the councils of Christian Princes, that an union in religion seems no longer a motive in forming their treaties, nor will a difference in divine worship by the cause of discord between nations whose political and commercial interests coincide.
Trade is an object, to which the powers of Europe give great attention, and which ought to be considered as a principal bond of union between the English and the Spaniards; because the articles of commerce, that is, the overplus of the produce, of Spain and of the Spanish colonies, consists of things that are particulary wanting in Great Britain, or are absolutely necessary for carrying on the British manufactures, in their present degree of perfection. The wine, oil, and fruits of Spain, cannot serve in barter for French manufactures, as the French have those commodities of their own growth; and they can be brought to no market in such quantities, and so much to the advantage of the Spaniards, as to Great Britain and Ireland. This trade might be extended; as there are many excellent sorts of wine, made in the interior parts of Spain, which might be exported, if the roads were opened, and some inland duties taken off. The Peruvian bark, and many other medicinal drugs, are brought to us only from Spain or Spanish America. The wood, silk, cotton, cork, indigo, cochineal, logwood, cocoa nut, and other articles, are sent to England, as far as possible, in their first growth; so that the employment of the artificer, and the profit from his labour, center in this kingdom.
Ths Spaniards have hitherto taken more from England and her colonies than the amount of their exports, and the balance has been paid chiefly in silver; which supplies us with the current specie and the wrought plate, and supports the trade of the East India Company.
It is difficult to guess how far the trade may be extended, to the benefit of both nations; for we must imagine that, in such a vast country as Spanish America, with such a variety of soils and climates, and in some parts abounding with minerals of every kind, new veins of commerce will frequently be discovered. The salt-petre, and the dried leaves of the tea plant, which are mentioned in this work, may one day be exchanged for British manufactures, instead of draining this kingdom of the silver, with which those commodities are now purchased in Bengal and in China. The exports from hence to Spain are chiefly British manufactures; of which there is scarce any species fabricated in England, Scotland, or Ireland, but what is proper for the Spanish trade.
The present state of agriculture in Spain occasions the inhabitants to be sometimes in want of corn, which has been often sent from England, and with which, from hence forwards, they will probably be supplied from the English North American colonies. The Spanish ships could not be victualled without the provisions that are sent from those colonies and from Ireland. The Spaniards also take from the English great quantities of falted and dried fish; which contributes much to the support of those nurseries of seamen, the Newfoundland and British fisheries.
The course of trade of each nation no where thwarts, or is carried on in opposition to the trade of the other, if we except the contraband trade from Jamaica; which would cease, or be suppressed, as would likewise that of other nations, if the English were favoured in the regular Spanish commerce, and the cargoes sent from Europe, in the galleons, flota, and register ships, were sold in Spanish America considerably cheaper than they are at present. This might easiliy be done, without diminishing the public revenue of the King of Spain, by altering the present complicated and uncertain mode of taxation, and by abolishing unnecessary formalities, tedious delays, and expensive applications to the Spanish ministers; which encumber the licensed trade, and greatly enhance the price of the merchandize sold in America, and at the same time diminish the value of what is sent back from thence; which would be increased by the quickness of the return, much to the advantage of the Creoles, and of the Spaniards themselves.
Another cause of contention was the right of cutting logwood on the coasts of the Bay of Honduras, which ad long been opposed by the Spanish government, but which was given up to the English by an article in the last peace. And discord may have been prevented by a farther concession, likewise obtained in the same treaty; which was, the Spaniards relinguishing all pretensions to the fishery on the banks of Newfoundland. The Biscayners are thought to have been the first mariners who went on that fishery, and if the first possession gave any right, it was transferred by that article to the English.
An attempt to explain minutely every branch of commerce woujld be tedious to the generality of readers; but, I believe, the more this subject is examined, the more clearly it will appear, that the true commercial interests of the two kingdoms every way agree, or are reconcileable to each other. and nearly the same may be said in regard to the territories belonging to each kingdom; because there is no territory possessed by the one, that can, in good policy, be an object of ambition to the other: for, excepting the rock of Gibraltar, there is not a spot of ground under the dominion of the King of Great Britain, that a patriot King of Spain ought to wish for; and that fortress, and the Island of Minorca, might be considered, more as store-houses for the Mediterranean trade, than as military stations: or, if they have a hostile appearance, that may be necessary, to secure respect to the British flag from the Barbary corsairs, and ought not to raise suspicions of an unfriendly disposition in the English towards the Spanish nation. The province of East Florida, which was ceded also by the treaty of Paris, in exchange for the Havanna, was of little or not consequence to the Spaniards in time of peace; in case of a war with England, that settlement might have been an annoyance to the English colonies. But, as it adjoins on one side to Georgia and Carolina, and on the other to West Florida, wich the French relinquished by the same treaty, it must have been an easy conquest to the English; wherefore the Spaniards, while they wish for peace with England, cannot regret the loss of a burthensome, defenceless territory.
The river Mississippi is the most proper boundary, and the most likely to prevent all future contests. The largeness of the river, and the length of it's course, makes it appear, as if formed by nature to set bounds to the vast empires of British and Spanish America. The present extensiveness of the English colonies will probably delay their defection from another country, because it will hinder the establishment of considerable manufactures; for men will not be inclined to work at the loom or the anvil, for the merchant or wholesale manufacturer, if they can obtain portions of land to be allotted to them, which they may cultivate entirely for their own advantage. The subjection of those colonies to the Sovereign of Great Britain is, in some respects, of as much importance to Old Spain, as it is to Old England: for when the British Americans become independent, it will probably induce the inhabitants of the great Kingdoms in Spanish America to follow their example; which they will also be forced to do, by their communication with Europe being intercepted; for North America is better provided with timber, and all kinds of naval stores, than any other country in the world. A great maritime power will be formed there, and the people will have that bold, enterprizing spirit, with which free governments generally animate mankind. In such circumstances, the Spanish Creoles must have their commerce with the North Americans. No treasure could with safety be brought to Spain; the galleons and flota could not often escape the North American cruizers, particularly in the windward passage, and the narrow channel between the Bahama islands and the continent. It seems therefore a reasonable conjecture, that an absolute independancy of the North American colonies on the government of Great Britain would, in it's consequence, bring about, in all other parts of America, the same independancy on the other nations of Europe. Such a revolution would be fatal to all Europeans, as it would bring them back to the poverty of their ancestors, and leave in the imaginations of many of them the cravings of modern luxury.
The interests of the British and Spanish nations continue united, both in their distant views, which depend on future contingencies, and likewise in many of their immediate and present relations to the neighbouring states.
France is the power, of which both nations ought to be jealous; an ambitious enterprizing Monarch, like Lewis the XIVth, would be a most dangerous neighbour to both kingdoms. The measures pursued by Oliver Cromwell, and by some of our Kings, which raised France, and sunk the power of Spain, are now perceived to have been contrary to the true interests of the British monarchy. Besides their common danger, to be apprehended from France, the relative grandeur of England, and of Spain, depends on preserving the general balance of power between the states of Europe, and the particular balance that subsists among the Republics and Princes of Italy. The liberty of the Dutch, of the Swiss, and of the Hanse Towns, and the remains of the constitution of the German empire, seem to be objects of great consequence in the scale of power, according to which the British and Spanish monarches are to be considered.
The harmony, and national union, established between them, would be the safest barrier against any ambitious designs of the court of France; it would have an influence in settling the trade of the English in Purtugal; it might tend to depress the insolence of the piratical states of Africa, whose corsairs have often infested the coasts of Spain; and it might be a kind of basis, on which the liberty of Europe, that is, the independancy of the different powers, might safely rest. For if those powers are convinced that the English do not desire to make conquests on the continent of Europe, nor the Spaniards to extend their dominion beyond the Pyrenean mountains, such a disinterested system will give weight to their joint negotiations, and gain the confidence of other nations.
The principal objection to the plan of a lasting alliance may arise from the wars between England and Spain, and the almost continual hostile dispositions that have appeared, every since the Princes of the Bourbon family ascended the Spanish throne. This objection makes it necessary to explain in what manner those wars were brought on; which was by a system of poilicy, that was foreign and contrary to the true interests of the Spanish nation. The subserviency of the Court of Madrid to the councils or rather mandates, of the French, ceased on the death of Lewis XIV, and the Spaniards began to return to a sense of their own importance, and their natural jealousy-of powerful and ambitious neighbours: but their Sovereign Philip V, either from false ideas of Christian perfection, or from weakness of body, or mind, gave up the reins of government into the hands of his second consort. She was daughter of the Duke of Parma, and, although married to the King of Spain, yet her mind continued all Italian. It is a principal point of Italian patriotism, to deliver Italy from a foreign yoke, and particularly from the dominion of the Germans; and this the Queen was ambitious of accomplishing. She had another inducement for undertaaking a war in Italy, which perhaps influenced her still more powerfully, and this was the providing kingdoms, or independant sovereignties, for all her sons. Thus the ambition of the Italian Princess [sic, Princes(?)], and the fondess of the mother, overcame the sense of duty of the Queen, who directed the government of a great nation; for the wars were carried on, and the young Princes have been supported, at a great expence of blood and treasure, without a porspect of advantage to the people of Spain. and as natives might be less active and vigilant in projects that were detrimental to their country, the Queen appointed Alberoni, and Italian cardinal; Riperda, a Dutchman; and other foreigners, for her ministers.
The designs of the Queen were contrary to the political views of the English, and the system of the great alliance formed by King William; but concided with the interest of France; not only because, by these means, the court of Spain became united with, and dependant on the French, for the accomplishment of those designs, but likewise, because the settlements on the Spanish Princes were to be made by driving the Austrians out of Italy. So by entering into the views of the Queen of Spain, the French gained a rich ally, and at the same time weakened a powerful rival.
On the death of Philip V, the thoughts of making conquests in Italy were at an end; for his son by his first Queen, Ferdinand VI, who succeeded him, loved the Spanish nation, seldom spoke any other language but the Spanish, and employed none but Spanish ministers. as King Ferdinand had no children, the Dowager Queen, whose sons were to succeed to him, had a strong party in the court; but neither her influence, nor all the French intrigues, could bring him into the war against England; though they might prevent that union with the English, to which a discerning and truly patriotic King of Spain will always be inclined.
Ferdinand VI dying without issue, the kingdom of Spain devolved to the Queen Dowager's eldest son, Don Carlos, then King of Naples. He was, by former transactions, already disposed to join in the French interests; but the ministry of Versailles proposed binding him in a still closer union with France, and, for this purpose, they are thought to have set before him the prospect of himself or his descendants succeeding to the French monarchy, on failure of male issue of the elder branch of the Bourbon family. The late Dauphin was then in a very infirm state of health, and his sons were represented by Dr. Tronchin, as it is said, and the French physicians, as persons of a weakly constitution, not likely to live, or to leave posterity. On this a Family Compact was agreed upon between the two Monarchs; by the secret articles of which it is supposed to have been stipulated, that the Spanish branch of the House of Bourbon should succeed to the Crown of France, for want of male descendants of Lewis XV. The name of Family Compact, given to the treaty, indicates some regulations in regard to family successions, and would be an improper title, if there were no other articles in the treaty, but those which have been announced to the public. The reason of the articles which relate to the suffession being kept secret is very obvious; because they are a violation of the treaty of Utrecht; in which Philip V renounced, in the clearest manner, for himself and his descendants, all future claims and pretensions to the kingdom of France. The French minister, Mr. De Torcy, endeavoured to evade that absolute renunciation, as may be seen in his letters to Lord Bolingbroke; but the English ministry insisted upon it; and indeed it was the most important point that was obtained by all the successes in Queen Anne's war, which was undertaken to prevent the dependancy of Spain on the Court of France; whereas the intent of both the secret, and the avowed articles, of the Family Compact, is to establish that dependancy.
That there are secret articles, relating to the Bourbon Family, may be inferred, not only from the title of the treaty, but likewise from those articles that have been made public; because the two Sovereigns declare no other motives in those public articles, but their mutual regard for each other, and for the honour of their family; motives, which can only relate to themselves, and not to the commerce or mutual naturalization of their subjects. For it would be too humiliating to mankind, and debasing the dignity of human nature, to suppose that no attention is to be given by Princes to the well-being of the people they govern, or that the lives and fortunes of millions are of no other consequence to the grandeur of a Monarch, and the glkory of a Royal Family: and I am willing to imagine, that some thoughts concerning the happiness of their subjects are expressed in the secreat parts of the treaty.
The two Monarchs had an example of the inordinate desire of family greatness in their ancestor Lewis XIV; who, after the death of the last King of Spain of the House of Austria, was advised by his council to abide by the dispositions made in the partition treaty, and which would have been much more advantageios to the French nation, than to have acquired for Lewis's grandson, the Duke of Anjou, the whole succession of the Spanish monarchy, under the will of the then late departed King of Spain; but Lewis determined on what he thought more glorious for his family, though it involved Europe in a long and bloody war, which rbought his own kingdom to the brink of ruin. This sentiment was so prevalent in the mind of the French Monarch, that he alleged in a manner no other motive but his own glory, for the war against Holland in 1627. And he was offended at one of his subjects, who, in some pblic harangue, spoke to him about the interests of France, and the well-being of the state; because it was his will and pleasure, that Frenchman should have no other poolitical principles but an enthusiastic zeal for the gflory of their Sovereign. The Englishman's love of his country, and loyalty to his King, are founded on more rational principles, and more honourable to human nature. Those two duties are happily united, by our having a Sovereign, who has no interests that are distinct from those of the British nation, and whose family connections engage him in no wars or treaties that are prejudical to his subjects, but who considers the peace and happiness of all his people as the sole end and glory of his reign.
Preparations were made for the Family Compact, but the French King's giving up the pretentions of his son-in-law, Don Philip, and of his grandson, the present Duck of Parma, to the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily. The eventual succession to those kingdoms was settled on them by the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, upon the contingency of Don Carlos, the then King of Naples, becoming King of Spain; but the French consented, that the Spanish Monarch might deprive his own brother of that succession, and afterwards his nephew (whose mother was daughter to the present King of France), and settle the kingdoms of Naples and Sicity on his third son.
In order the more to cement the union proposed to be established by the Family Compact, and that the French Court might have farther proofs of sincerity to the King of Spain, the Duke of Orleans, who is next in fuccession to the crown if the Spanish branch is excluded, and the other Princes of the blood, were deprived of that share, or influence in the French government, to which, by their birth, and by the custom or constitition of the kingdom, they have been generally understood to be entitled. This lowering the dignity and importance of those Princes in the opinion of the people of France may be considered as a part of the system of the Family Compact; and perhaps for the same motives the parliaments, or great courts of judicature, have been disolved, and the patriotic lawyers banished or imprisoned; as such persons may be thought to be inclined to maintain the validity of Phhilip V's renunciation, and likewise the spirit and intent of the Salic Law, which means to exclude foreign Princes from inheriting the Crown of France.
The Spanish Monarch has, in like manner, banished or disgraced all those who were thought to disapprove of the Family Compact, and French spies are employed in most of the considerable twons of Spain, to watch the disaffected to this new porjected union with France. These proceedings seem to resemble the conduct of Augustus, Anthony, and Lepidus; who gave up their private friendships, and sacrificed their particular connections, to the system of the compact of the Roman Triumvirate. The King of Spain has gone much farther; for he has made a kind of holocaust, or whole burnt-offering, of all the interests of the Spanish nation, at the shrine of family ambition. He joing the French in the war against England, and ruined his army in Portugal; his fleet was destroyed at the Havanna; and, after the taking of that place, all Spanish America lay in a manner open, and almost defenceless, to the conquering fleets and armies of Britain.
Besides thse involuntary losses, the Spaniards were, in consequence of the Family Compact, to lose their independany, their customs, their manners, their language, their dress, and become Frenchmen; in order that their Sovereign might be looked upon as a native of France, and be acceptable to the French nation. Moreover the Spaniards, in a course of years, must, according to this plan, lose their trade and their wealth. For the trade and wealth of Spain, and Spanish America, being equally open to the French as to the Spaniards themseleves, the French, being more numerous, more active and industrious, as well as more supple and insinuating, will, in time, monopolize the Spanish commerce, to the great disadvantage of Spain, and of all the trading nations of Europe, who have hitherto sent their manufactures, and had a share in the Spanish trade. The French will want few manufactures, but their own, for supplying the consumption in Spain and Spanish America; or they will have East India goods sent from Manilla, in greater quantities that at present, rather than let their European neighbours come in for a part of the wealth of the Spanish West Indies.
By some late edicts of the King of Spain, the sale of wool and raw silk is to restrained, that the whole trade in those important articles may soon be monopolized by French factors; and, whiat is astonishing, the manufactures of Spain are discourage by the government, if they interfere with thos of France. These are some of the effcts of the Family Compact; some others may be less perceptible at present, on account of the disorder in the French finances, and the ambitious enterprizes of the Northern Powers. It is difficult to form reasonable conjectures of what may be the future consequences of this extraordinary treaty; because there are but few treaties or transactions, in the history of former times, to which the Family Compact has any resemblance.
The public articles of the Compact, in as much as they provide for the mutual naturalization of the subjects of both kingdoms, and the unnatural coalition of the power and interests of the two nations, which in themselves are very opposite, seem to indicate a latent design, that the two kingdoms should be governed by one Sovereign, if the succession to both should devolve on the same person. If we contemplate the articles on another side, and as they announce no other motives for this convention but the private affections of the two Monarchs for each other, and for the honour of their family, they are plainly taken from the system of Eastern despotism; according to which, the subjects, and all that belongs to them, are considered as the mere property of the Sovereign. and indeed such a vast empire would arise from the union of France and Spain under one Sovereign, as, in the opinion of the author of the Spirit of Laws, would require that kind of arbitrary government, under which there are no intermediate powers; such as the immunities of the clergy, the privileges of the nobility, and the franchises of different orders of citizens; all which, according to that system, must be annihilated, and all power and hounours made to depnd on the absolute and immediate will of the despot. Mr. Montesquieu has forwearned his countryment against this revolution in their government, and against the desire of greatly extending the dominion of their Sovereign; which, he has foretold, would be the cause of such a change in the constitution of the French monarchy.
The plan also of the secret articles of the Family Compact, on the hopes given to the Spanish Royal Family of one day succeeding to the Crown of France, was probablyt taken from Eastern notions, and from a similar piece of policy of the Turkish Emoperors; who have brought, and long retained, the Crim Tartary, in a state of vassallage, by a Family Compact with the Cham or Sovereign of that country; by which it was agreed, as Mr. Knowles informs us in his History of the Turks, that the Turkish empire, for want of heirs male of the Othman family, is assured, and as it were entailed, untu the Tartar Cham. The Turkish Sultan and the Tartar Cham being descended from one common ancestor, the Cham looks upon the Sultant as his Cheif, or the head of his family, and by primogeniture inheriting the rights of fatherhood from their patriarch of first parent.
There is nothing that has contributed more to misguide both kings and subjects, in their ideas of civil government, than confounding the duites of the child with the duties of the father and the power of the magistrate. For as all right and property is understood to be in the father, and the child has only the use of what the father allots for his sustenance; so, according to these principles, it is contended, that the Sovereign is the sole proprietor, and that the subject has only what the civilians call the usus fructus, during the will and pleasure of the patriarchal magistrate.
From these misconceived notions are dereived the Family Compacts, and all those treaties which are contracted on other motives than the well-being of the people. The Othman Family Compact has long rendered the Crimea and the Crim Tartary dependant on the Turkish Emperor; but yet it may happen that the Bourbon Family Compact may not be attnded with the same consquences in regard to Spain, as the wealth, the situation, and other circumstances, of the Spanish and Tartat nations, are very different. The Spaniards have already resisted against one badge of slavery, the wearing the French dress; and there are many events that may frustrate the intent of the French Family Compact. The three sonds of the late Dauphin are alive, notwithstanding the prognostics of the physicians. If they have male issue, it may throw the prospect of inheriting the kingdom of France at such a distance, as to be no longer an object of attention to the Princes of the Spanish Royal family. Moreover, they may discover, that the will of Kings, however irrestible in their life-time, is oten set aside after their death; and that the law of succession to the kingdom of France, established by the present Monarch, may be as little regarded as the last will of Lewis XIV.
The neighbouring Powers would, for many reasons, oppose the solemn and public renunciation, made in the treaty of Utrecht, being annulled by a secret convention. The French, on many occasions, have been remarkable for their aversion to be governed by foreigners; which has been prevented, in regard to the succession to the Crown, by their Salic law. It is true, the letter of that law only excludes femailes from inheriting the kingdom, but the reason of it, or the true cause for continuing that antient regulation down to the present time, seems to be, because the Princesses marry into foreign families, and their children would be strangers to the genius and manners of the French nation; which, in the person of their Sovereign, would be very disagreeable to them. It cannot be for any supposed imbecility in the sex; because the Dowager Queens have governed during the minority of their sons, and there are few Courts where the women have had greater influence. The males also have been excluded, who claimed in the right of females, as was the case of our King Edward the Third. The ostensible or law-reason given was, that as the Queen his mother could have no right, she could transmit none to her son; but the true reason seems to have been, that he was considered as an alien by the generality of the French nation; and the Spanish Princes wuld probably meet with the same opposition in the minds of the people. It may also happen, that, if the present king of Spain is not influenced by a view of the many advantages that would accrue to the Spanish monarchy by a lasting alliance with England, still a suffessor may see his interests in a different light, or he may be swayed by the sentiments of the most discerning part of his subjects: for the councils of the Sovereign, even in the most absolute governments, are sooner or later affected by the general sense of the nation.
This is the principal reason for addressing the public on this subject; because the merchants and others, who have an intercourse with the Spaniards, may have frequent opportunities of suggesting what is here alleged, and many other motives that may occur to them, for fixing a kind of national complaisance and good understanding between people who can become so many ways benefactors to each other. If unfortunately a war should break out, in pursuance of the scheme formed by the Family Compact, still the good will of the Spaniards might be cultivated, by compassion shown to those who may be conquered or made prisoners, and by other acts of humanity, to which Englishmen are often well disposed. We might also represent to the Spaniards, that is was against the King, not against hte Ahab King of Israel. The syrians were ordered, not to consider the Israelites as their enemies, but to direct their force against Ahab their King, who had been deluded by his false prophets. So we may assure the Spaniards, that we are ever desirous of peace and harmony with them, and that we consider their King, as he seems to consider himself, not as the head and representative of their nation, but as a Prince of the Bourbon family, who inherits the Spanish monarchy as a provision made for a younger branch of the Bourbons; or, as the French would express it, La monarchie d'Espagn n' est que l'apanage d'un cadet de la maison de Bourbon, but that we have no enmity against the people of Spain, and no ambition to possess any territory they are masters of; that we are sensible that hte empires of Peru and Mexico would be our ruin, and the possession of them would problably depopulate our country still more than it has the southern provinces of Spain, as our extensive navigation, and the nature of our government, will not admit of the same restraints against emigrations as are enacted in Spain; from whence no person can go to America without the King's license. We might add, that we expect no subjection or subserviency on the part of Spain, but that each nation might treat according to the dignity of a sovereign and independant state; that we ask for nothing of the Spaniards but their friendship, and a mutual, well-regulated commerce, beneficial to both nations.
The settlements in Falkland's Islands, in Florida, and on the River Missippi, may be looked upon as precautions against toe too apparent intentions of the Family Compact, and the warlke preparations of the Court of Spain. If the English nation and commerce were treated in a friendly manner, and according to that rank, in which a true regard to the interests of the Spanish monarchy ought to place them, the Spaniards might depend upon both the government, and the subjects of Great Britain, contracting sentiments of reciprocal benevolence; and our naval power, which is not a subject of alarm and jealousy, would be the protection of the vast Spanish American empire.
England has engaged in wars, and spent her sterling millions, on the most disintereted principles of heroism; there can then be no doubt, but that our brave countrymen would exert their strength in favour of a nation, from whose alliance and commerce they would draw great and perpetual advantages.
Of the most Southern part of AMERICA,
described in the MAP.
I do not purpose to give an account of the kingdom of Chili, as Ovales has given an account of it already; but shall confine myself to those parts I have seen, and to those that are least known in Europe.
The seacoast in the map is, for the most part, taken from Mr. D'Anville's map of South America, as improved by Mr. Bolton; Falkland's Islands, from the latest discoveries; and the Straits of Magellan, from Mr. Bernetti's map, who was chaplain in Mr. Bougainville's squadron.
I have made some alterations in the eastern seacoast, which I viewed in the year 1746; and about Cape St. Anthony, where I lived some years. In the description of the inland country, I have in generall followed my own observations; having travelled over great part of it, and traced the situation of places, and their distances, with the rivers, woods, and mountains. Where I could not penetrate, I have had accounts from the native Indians; and from Spanish captives, who had lived many years amongst them, and afterwards obtained their liberty. Among many others, from whom I had my information, was the son of Captain Mansilla, of Buenos-Ayres, who was six years prisoner among the Tehuelhets, and who had travelled over the greatest part of their country; and likewise the great Cacique Cangapol, who resided at Huichin, on the Black River. I have endeavoured to draw his likeness, as well as I could by memory. His figure and dress are represented on the map, and those of his wife Huennee.§ This Chief, who was called by the Spaniards the Cacique Bravo, was tall and well-proportioned. He must have been seven feet and some inches in height; because, on tiptoe, I could not reach to the top of his head. I was very well aquainted with him, and went some journeys in his company. I do not recollect ever to have seen an Indian, that was about an inch or two taller than Cangapol. His brother, Sausimian, was but about six feet high. The Patagonians, or Puelches, are a large bodied people; but I never heard of that gigantic race, which others have mentioned, though I have seen persons of all the different tribes of southern Indians.
§ Cangapol and Huennee are on the right and left sides, respectively, of the cartouche on Thomas Kitchin's map.
All my own observations, and my inquiries of other persons, oblige me to represent the country a great deal broader, from east to west, than it appears in Mr. D'Anville's map; which I am not able to reconcile to the relations of the Indians, nor in what I observed myself, with respect to the distances of places. Even in the Spanish country, he is I think mistaken, in making the distance between Cordova and Santa Fe forty leagues less that is is in reality. The route is an entire plain, with not so much as a hillock between these two cities; yet no postboy will undertake to go it in less than four or five days; and the postboys, in that country, generally travel twenty leagues or more in a day.
The journey between these two cities I have myself taken four times, as well as between both of them and Buenos-Ayres.
I do not believe that any able person has made an observation of the longitude in these parts, to be depended upon, in order to fix the difference of meridian of these places of the southern hemisphere. And the mistakes of geographers, in representing this country narrower than it really is, may be owing to the difficulty of keeping a true reckoning in sailing round Cape Horn; which is occasioned by the velocity and variety of the currents: A particular account of which may be found in the English translation of Don Ulloa's Voyage to South America, vol. II. b. iii. c. 2.
Of the Soil and Produce of the most southern Part of AMERICA.
The district of the city of St. Jago del Estero, in the province of Tucuman, is a flat, dry, sandy soil. The greatest part of it is covered with thick woods, which begin at fifty leagues to the south, and reach to the district of Tucuman, which is thirty leages to the north of St. Jago. They extend to the eastward of the Rio Dulce, near twenty miles, and, to the westward, as far as the Chaco, which is above sixty miles.
There are so few open spots in this district, and those which are open so frequently overflowed by the rivers Dulce and Salado (the sweet and salt rivers) that the inhabitants are obliged to fell the woods, to get sufficient space to sow their chacras. Behind the woods, to the eastward, towards the mountains of the Rioia, and those of the vale of Catamarca, are vast plains, where there is plenty of pasture, but without any fresh water whatsoever, except what is collected in lakes in rainy seasons; and when these fail, there is great danger of perishing with thirst, in travelling over them. The great number of crosses which have been erected, and are now to be seen in these plains, are proofs, how many have fallen a prey to their rashness, in venturing upon so hazardous a journey. This vast country extends to near eighty leagues, from the mountains of Vordova to those of the vale of Catamarca, and is called the Travesia of Quilino and Ambergasta.
Notwithstanding these disadvantages, the soil is not unfruitful, when duly cultivated, and produces water and musk melons, of a prodigious size, and the best flavoured of any that grow in these countries. Those of Tucuman are larger, but, for the extreme moistness of the soil, are not so well tasted. Corn is also raised here in great quantities, and sent to Cordova and Buenos-Ayres. Cotton thrives very well; and indigo was formerly a great commodity in this country, but, through the neglect of the inhabitants, is entirely lost. A small quantity of cochineal is gathered from a kind of low, thorny opuntia, that spreads itself upon the ground, and grows wild in the woods; and much more might be taken, if it was cultivated, and prepared in the same manner as in Quito, and other parts of Peru. The soil, with due care and cultivation, will also produce peaches, figs, and dates.
The fruits which grow wild are the algarrova, the mistol, the channar, and the molie; with some others of lesser note.
The algarrova is a large tree in this country, about the bigness of a middle-sized oak. IT's timber is strong, durable, and largely grained. It's leaves are small and scalloped; many of them growing together on one common stalk, near and opposite to each other; so that ten or twenty of them seem to compose one leaf, as in the spruce pine. It's flowers are small, of a faint white colour, and grow in clusters, like currants, but smaller and thicker. These are succeeded by large, long pods, like those of peas, but not so broad. They are of two kinds, white and black, the latter is narrower, but somewhat sweeter. Before it is arrived at maturity, it is green, and has a strong astringency, and a remarkable roughness on the tongue; but when it is ripe, has an uncommon sweetness, and a strong, unpleasant smell, like that of bugs. This tree grows in very great plenty, and is a kind of sweet acacia, being like to the acacia arabica. The inhabitants make a considerable harvest of the fruit, which is a great part of their sustenance. They reduce it to flour, and sometimes mix it with that of Indian wheat: when diluted with cold water, they call it anapa. The flour alone, which is very gummy, and sticks together, they press into cakes, or square boxes, and preserve it for food: this they call patay. Of the pods bruised they make a very strong drink, or chica, by letting it stand, from twelve to twenty-four hours, infused in a sufficient quantity of cold water; in which time it ferments, becomes very strong and heady, and occasions heavy drunkenness. A great quantity of proof spirit might be drawn from this chica; but the inhabitants are not sufficiently skillful for that purpose. More to the southward, this tree dores not grow so large, and in the country of the Tehuelhets, it dwindles to a small shrub, not more than a yard in height. I have seen the fruit of this tree given, in consumptions arising from profuse sweats, and hectics, either in patay or chica, with great success; nor are those disorders common among the people who use if for food.
There is another species of this kind of tree, which I take to be the true acacia of the Arabs. It's leaves are like those of the algarrova, but the flower and fruit are very different. The flowers are of a fine yellow colour, very small, grow together in a round heap, and have a very aromatic smell. The pods are thicker, very black, with feeds like lentils, but harder. They have a gummy quality, a strong astringent taste, and, with copperas, make a black ink, dying cloth and linen black; for which purpose they are used by the inhabitants. The wood is more firm, and it's colour is of a deeper red, than that of the algarrova, and it weeps a gum, exactly the same as the common gum arabic.
There is a third sort, that is not so lofty, whose pod is of a dull red, inclining somewhat to brown; it is neither astringent nor sweet; but the natives make a chicha of it, with which they cure themselves of the lues venerea.§ It's operation is sudorific, and I have sometimes known cures performed by it, which in England would have required a salivation.
§ venereal disease.
I have also seen a fourth kind of these pods, which came from the Chaco, and were much larger and stronger, and their colour was of a deeper red, than any of the former. They were very astringent and balsamic, had a strong smell, like cypress wood, and were the fruit (as the missionary who brought them assured me) of a large, thorny tree, without leaves. I believe that they are balsamic, astringent vulneraries, and might be of great use in physic, at least in outward applications.
The mistol is, in this country, a low, knotty, crooked tree; in hotter countries it grows taller and more straight; and in the colder parts, to the south of St. Jago, it does not grow at all. The Indians use it for their lances, it being a very heavy and tough wood. It bears a fruit of a red colour, as big as a chesnut; the cortical part of which is very thin, and it contains a large, hard stone. The natives eat the rind, and the small quantity of flesh that is under it, and likewise make a chica of it, which is very sweet.
The channar, in the warmer climates, is a thick, tall tree, though not so large as here, more to the south. It's branches are very crooked and thorny. It's trunk is always green, and has a thin bark, like parchment, that drives, peels off, and is suffeeded by a new one. It makes good fire and charcoal. It's wood is hard and firm, inclining to a yellow colour. The Indians use it chiefly for stirrups, though it seems capable of other uses, such as building, &c. It's leaves are small and oval; it's fruit is like that of the mistol, though less; neither is it so sweet, or of so red a colour. It's uses are the same as those of the mistol.
The molie is a great tree, not to be found to the south of the Province of Tucuman. The timber of this tree is of a very fine grain, and extremely beautiful; but of little use, on account of it's being so very subject to be worm-eaten. There are two sorts of it; one, which has a leaf of the bigness of a bay leaf, and bearing a resemblance to it; the other is exactly the same, only smaller. They are both evergreens, and their leaves, when bruised, serve to tan the fine goatskin leather, made in this country. Their trunks weep a considerable quantity of gum, which is used as incense, being very odoriferous. That with the larger leaves bears great plenty of a black fruit, which, when ripe, has a skin of a very light blue colour, almost white. It is about the size of a currant, and many of them grow in a cluster, like cherries. They are even sweeter than the algarrova; and, being boiled in water, they produce an extract or syrup, very sweet, and hot in the mouth; being steeped in water, they make a chicha, much stronger than that of the algarrova, both in taste and smell. The drunkenness it occasions generally lasts two or three days, and gives a wild, glaring appearance, to the eyse of those who are intoxicated with it: a certain proof of the strength and quantity of the spirit it contains.
There are many other very beautiful and useful trees, and of a vast height, that grow chiefly in the deep vales, and breaks of the high mountains: among which are the white and red quiabrahacho, the viraro, the palacho, the cedar, the timbo, the wild walnut-tree; together with the laurel and the willow. These last grow there very tall and thick, but are not of much use.
The white and red quiabrahacho (or break-axe) so called from their extreme hardness, grow in the woods, in the plain countries northward of Cordova. In St. Jago they grow to the height of eight or ten yards, very straight, and proportionably thick. The former of these trees has leaves resembling those of our box, but something larger, with a sharp, thorny point: the wood being also like boxwood, but of a red colour at the heart. It is very good timber, of a fine grain, but very brittle, hard to work, and exceedingly heavy. The latter is a different kind of tree. It's leaves grow in the manner of those of the yew tree; it is more lofty and heavier than the white quiabrahacho; and it's timber is as red as blkood, and can only be worked while it is green; for after it has been kept some time, it becomes so very hard, that no tool can touch it. In hardness and colour it bears so strong a resemblance to red marble, that is is a difficult matter to distinguish them.
The viraro affords a wood of a white colour, likek our elm, and is used for beams, or any other such purposes. It is very durable, and is easy to be worked.
The lapacho is one of the most valuablke timber trees of these countries. I never saw it growing, but have often seen large beams, &c. of it, or eight or nine yards in length, which were to be sent into Spain, for the use of their oil-mills, to crush the olives. The timber is of a dusky, green colour, has a good grain, and is not so brittle as the quiabrahacho, but is very hard and heavy.
The cedars are like ours. The timbo is a kind of coarse cedar, which grows on the banks of rivers.
The wild walnut-trees are very large and lofty. I have seen some that were brought, worked and squared, from Tucuman, which measured twelve yards in length. They bear no fruit, and their leaf is like that of our walnut-tree, but something bigger. In some of the deep vallies among the mountains, I have seen cedars and wild walnut-trees, that I judged might measure from fifteen to twenty years in height, as straight as an arrow. All these grow wild; with many other excellent timber trees, almost all of which bear thorns. Amoung which it may not be improper to mention the lanza; so called, because of this the natives make spears and lances. This tree is of a yellow colour, very straight, in excellent timber, and makes the best axle-trees for carts and coaches.
The inhabitants cultivate many fruit trees which grow wild in Paraguay, as lemons, and oranges both sweet and sour. Peaches, but cultivated and wild, are in great abundance. In Cordova and Mendoza, they have apples and pears of many kinds, pomegranates, apricots, plums, and cherries. In some places, figs almost grow wild, or at least with very little culture; and also the Indian fig. This country, in some parts of it, produces vines; which in Mendoza, Rioia, and San Juan, are very much cultivated; as also in the vale of Catamarca, and at Cordova, where there are some few vineyards. The wine which is produced is partly for private use, and partly to sell at Buenos-Ayres, Tucuman, Salta, Injuy, &c. This commodity is sometimes very cheap, and would be much more so, was it not for the heavy taxes it pays, in the cities to which it is sent.
Corn, and almost all manner of grain, is cultivated, and flourishes, in the jurisdictions of Cordova, St. Jago, and Rioia, when it can be watered; and likewise in Buenos-Ayres and Santa Fe, if the year is not too dry. This article might be in great plenty; and very great quantities might be produced more to the south; but the Indians do not sow. The Moluches along clean the earth a little, without ploughing, nad set as much as they are able to cut with their knives. In Tucuman, the country is too moist for corn; but the inhabitants gather great crops of maize, or Indian wheat, which they exchange for corn with those of St. Jago.
One of the chief articles of commerce at St. Jago is wax and honey; which are found, in great plenty, in the vast woods on the other side of the river Salado. Great quantities of these commodities are taken from the hollow parts of decayed trees, and sold all over the beighbouring provinces. There is likewise a kind of honey, called alpamisqua, made by a very small bee. IT is worked in holes under ground, in stony countries; it's taste is a sour sweet; it is very diuretic, and extremely good for the stone and gravel.
Another, and a very considerable product of this country (though as yet unnoticed) is salt petre; which might be gathered in vast quantities, if diligently attended to; as there is an immense tract of salt territory, or about two hundred or two hundred and fifty leagues in length, and from forty to fifty leages wide. It begins at about twelve leagues to the north of the mountains of the Vuulcan, and extends itself in breadth to Cape St. Anthony. It takes in all the jurisdiction of Buenos-Ayres, and the south and west side of the river of Plata, and, leaving Cordova to the west, runs through all the territory of Santa Fe, as far as the city of the Corientes, at the junction of the famous rivers of Paraguay and Parana. It's breadth it here so very extensive, as to comprehend all that part of the district of St. Jago, which lies to the west of the river Dulce, and all the plain country of Rioia, as far as the limites of the vale of Catamarca. This is evident, from the brackish taste of all the brooks and rivers which pass through this salt soil; whose waters are not fit to be drunk, till they enter the Parana. All the springs in this great tract of country are more or less salt. But the rivers which flow from the mountains of Vordova, Tucuman, Choromoros, and Anconquixa, are excellent water where they first break forth, and continue so for many leagues; when they either reach the Parana, or are swallowed up in the salt lakes. A considerable quantity of salt is made of the earth, for private use, in the city of the Assumption, in Paraguay; but it appears in the greatest plenty in the neighbourhood of the Rioia and St. Jago. After a shower or rain, the earth becomes white with the saltpetre, and is extremely chilling to the feet. It may then, with a brush or a feather, be gathered in great abundance, with very little earth; as likewise by taking the rain water from the lakes. The people of these parts gather little more than what they use for the making of gunpowder; which is prepared chiefly for their feasts. I have frequently bought small quantities of it, of about twenty pounds weight, coarsely purified from the filth; all in small crystal cyliners, without any cubes; which proves that it is unmixed with sal gem; which our saltpetre is not so free from. This discovery might be attended with great advantages, if proper attention was paid to it; as the saltpetre might be carried in boats, by the river Salado, to Santa Fe, and from thence, by the Parana, to Buenos-Ayres.
The greatest commerce of this country is that of cattle. There are every where very numerous flocks of sheep; and, at my first going thither, the horned cattle were so abundant, that (besides the herds of tame cattle) they ran, in vast droves, wild and without owners, in the plains on both sides of the rivers Parana, Uruguay, and the river of Plata; and covered all the plains of Buenos-Ayres, laden chiefly with hides. Immense slaughters were made, without more gain than the fat, suet, and hides; the flesh being left to rot. The annual consumption of cattle, slain in this manner alone, in the jurisdiction of this one city and Santa Fe, did not amount to less than some hundreds of thousands. Nor is the practice entirely laid aside at this time. Yet, notwithstanding, cattle are cheap; and, even in Cordova, bullocks are sold for two dollars a head; but formerly they would not have been estimated at more than half the present price.
There is likewise great plenty of some horses, and a prodigious number of wile ones. The price of a two or three year old colt is half a dollar, or about two shillings and fourpence; of a horse fit for service, two dollars; and of a mare, three rials, and sometimes only two. The wild horses have no owners, but wander, in great troops, about those vast plains, which are terminated, to the eastward, by the province of Buenos-Ayres and the ocean, as far as the mouth of the Red River; to the westward, by the mountains of Chili and the first Desaguadero; to the north, by the mountains of Cordova, Yacanto, and Rioia; and to the south, by the woods which are the boundaries of the Tehuelhets and Diuihets. They go from place to place, against the current of the winds; and, in an inland expedition which I made in 1744, being in thse plains for the space of three weeks, they were in such vast numbers, that, during a fortnight, they continually surrounded me. Sometimes they passed by me, in thick troops, on full speed, for two or three hours together; during which time, it was with great difficulty that I and the four Indians, who accompanied me on this occasion, preserved ourselves from being run over and trampled to pieces by them. At other times, I have passed over the same country, and have not seen any of them.
This great plenty of horses and horned cattle is supposed to be the reason, why the Spaniards and the Indians do not cultivate their lands with that care and industry which they require, and that idleness prevails so much among them. Any one can with ease have, or train up, a troop of horses; and being accoutred with his knife and lazo, or snare of hiderope, he has wherewith[all] to get his livelihood; cows and calves being in great abundance, and out of their owners sight; so that it is an easy matter to kill them, without being discovered: which practice is very much followed.
There have been various attempts towards the discovery of mines in this country; but they have all proved abortive. Some traces of a gold mine were discovered, in the jurisdication of Cordova, in the vale of Punillia; but, after much labour and expense, the quantity of gold was very inconsiderable, and the undertakers were ruined. The same fate attended the workers of another gold mine, found near the mouth of the Plata, in the mountains near Maldonado; which was abandoned from the same motives as the former. About ten years ago, there was a great noise about silver mines near the mountain of Anconquixa, and at first some quantity of silver was obtained. With this encouragement, the governor of the province interested himself in it, notice was given of it to the King of Spain, and many expended their fortunes in the undertaking; but, after two years failure, it was given up, like the two former.
A few years ago, there was another discovery made of some silver mines, near Mendoza, at the foot of the Cordillera; which, after some trials, yielded a large quantity or ore. The undertakers were at a very great expense, in procuring engines, and all the other apparatus necessary to carry on the work; but, before I left the country, some very unfavourable accounts had been received concerning their mines: so that I cannot pretend to determine whether they have succeeded or not. Even the famous silver mines of Potosi are very considerably diminished. The quantity of ore taken from thence is decreased near two thirds, and the Indians who used to work them are almost all of them destroyed, for want of a good police; and besides, many of the mines are overflowed, and are theeby rendered useless and unprofitable.
There is a great probability, that there might be found as many gold and silver mines, in the country of the Indian Moluches, on the east side of the Cordillera, as have been to the west; but the Indians pay no attention to such discoveries, and the Spaniards are afraid to pass these mountains, to make any trial, lest they sould be attacked by the Indians.
There are likewise, in these parts, various drugs; which might be very profitable, if the inhabitants thought proper to attend to them.
In the jurisdiction of Tucuman, and the city of the Seven Currents, there are great quantities of guaiacum, or holy wood, and of dragon's blood; which last is a very valuable commodity. It flows from the tree upon incision, and resembles, upon inspissation, real blood; as well in colour, as in consistence. It hardens, with boiling, or after long keeping, to a kind of rosin; and becomes of a liver-colour, much darker than or officinal dragon's blood. It is likewise much more astringent.
The balsam of caaci flows from a tree upon incision, and is sometimes got by boiling it's boughs, very much bruised. It is a hard gum, of the turpentine kind, but of a white colour, when got by boiling; otherwise, it is yellow and clear. It is a most excellent incarnating medicine for wounds, and a fine vulnerary taken internally.
Two Indians were severally wounded by a narrow lance, in the epigastric region, just beneath the xiphoide cartilage. The points of the weapons came out on one side of the backbone; a small degree higher in one canse than the other. What they drank issued immediately out of the wounds. They suffered great pain, and had frequent lypothymies (or faintings) and cold, clammy sweats. I was used to apply this balsam externally, mixed with deer's suet and marrow; but in these cases, the wounds were closed. I gave it to them internally; and they took a small quantity of it, about the bigness of a hazel nut, three times a day, and sometimes oftener in a less quantity. I had no other medicine in those desarts to give them, that coulbe be of any service in their case. However, they were both restored to a perfect state of health and strength; the one, in six weeks, the other, in about three months.
I mention these two cases as very particular ones, the stomach having been pierced before and behind; a case generally esteemed mortal by the faculty. The narrowness of the perforations (made by the narrow blade of a tuck, or small sword, converted into a lance) was, I imagine, the reason of these cures being so soon completed.
The balsam, or rather extract, called aquaaribaigh, is got by boiling a plant, which is a kind of shrub lentiscus. In external applications, it is a good cleanser and digestive, and likewise breeds a good cicatrix. It is very efficacious, internally, in hemorrhages, dysenteries, and catarrhs; being an agglutinant, and an astringent, as well as a balsamic.
The gum isica flows from a tree, and is gathered in Paraguay. It is called likewise trementine, that is, turpentine; but it seems to be a species of gum elemi, though much hotter; and, when applied alone, it will raise blisters. It's cheif use, in this country, it to make plasters for the sciatica; which it frequently cures. When tempered with an equal portion of wax or tallow, it makes a pretty good liniment of arceus; and is a good cephalic plaster, applied with oxycroceum, to the feet; which it never fails to keep warm. This is of great service to the Indians, and inhabitants in general; as they are very subjecjt to obstructions in the liver, arising from drinking too large quantities of cooling liquors; and these disorders are attended with a great coldness in the feet.
The contrayerva root is in great abundance. And in some parts of the ountains of Cordova and Yacanto, the valerian and meum roots grow in great quantities, of a much larger size, and of a stronger smell, than any I have seen in Europe. There are roots of the valerian as thick as a man's arm. They have the same kilnd of smell as ours, but, as I have just before observed, much stronger. The leaves of the meum are very large: It grows to a yard in height. The flowers are white, and cluster together, in a conic form, four or five inches high. It's use is well known, in nervous disorders and epilepsies.
There are brought from the Guaranies two sorts of roots, of a plant, or flag, which the natives call schynant; but, though they bear the same name, they differ very much from each other. The one has all the appearance of the common calamus aromaticus, though it is somewhat stronger, both in taste and smell, and not so large. The other has very small, round roots, about half an inch in length; very brittle, easy to be pounded fine, and of the same colour as the contrayerva. It has a very hot, spicy, aromatic taste, and, when taken inwardly, is a very good medicine in all cold affections of the brain and nerves.
Ginger likewise grows in these parts. But the commodity which might turn to the greatest advantage, if the proper methods of preparing it were discovered, is a kind of tea, which I found about two years before my departure from this place. It bears an exact resemblance to the herb so called which comes from China; for, on putting some leaves of both sorts into boiling water, I could not discover, when they were displayed, any difference, either in their shape, or the disposition of their veins and fibrous parts. I found this tea plant, in very great quantities, in different vales; at the foot of the mountains of Cordova and Yacanto, near the mountains of Achala, and in the vallies of Calamochita; and I have been informed, that, nearer Peru, in Tucuman, Salta, &c. it grows in greater plenty.
It is a shrub, from a yard to above two yards high. It's trunk seldom exceeds an inch in thickenss, and is often less. It has no suckers near the root; but many long brances. It's leaves grow by three and three, in the manner of tresoil; they are of a beautiful green, and very smooth. It shoots out a long spike of blue flowers, something live lavender, but not so long. nor so well scented. To each of these flowers succeeds a small husk, each of which contains a seed, not bigger than a third part of a lentil, shaped like a kidneybean. After it is dry, on infusing it in water, it tinges the water in the same manner as green tea. It's taste and flavour are exactly the same, except that it is somewhat stronger, and is not so rough; but this difference is most prboably owing to the freshness of it when gathered, or perhaps may arise from the different method of preparing it, or from not drying it on copper-plates, as is said to be done in China. In the drying, I could not make it become twisted and shrivelled, like the oriental tea.
I found likewise a lesser kind of ths plant, both with respect to it's height, and the size of it's leaves.
There is yet another species of it, which grows in Chili. This has a round seed, without hte husk; the flowers are yellow, and do not grow in a spike; and the leaf is not so smooth as that of the former, and is of a lighter green. On infusion, it gives a deeper tinge. The taste is much the same as that of the other sort, but not quite so pleasant, having a small degree of faintness in it's flavour. The Indian name is culem. The inhabitants of Cordova call theirs alvanhacca del campo, that is, wild basil; but this is a name given at random, to a plant, which bears no resemblance to the basil, either wild or cultivated; that being an herb, and not a tree.
As I and several of my aquaintance gathered some bags of this tea, and freely distributed it to many persons, I had an opportunity of trying it's effects; and found that it created a good appetite and digestion, cured many headachs and inveterate apepsias (want of appetite), and anorexias (want of digestion), which had not yielded to any other remedies; in these particulars far exceeding the tea of China. It is very remarkable, that, in the parts where this tea plant grows, there is the same kind of stone as that of which the China ware is made.
Description of the Indian Country, with it's Vales, Mountains, Rivers, &c.
—Great River La Plata, with it's Branches, Fish and Ports.
That part of the jurisdiction of Cordova, which likes to the south of the Rio Segundo, or Second River, was formerly the country of a great party of the northern Puelches, and reaches above fifty leagues, entering into the jurisdiction of Buenos-Ayres beyond Cruzalta. When I first went into these parts, I met some troops of these Indians, still inhabiting the banks of the Second and Third Rivers; and there were some few of them on the Fourth and Fifth Rivers. All the country which lies between the Second and Third Rivers is about twelve leagues over, and mostly woody; but, on approaching the Third River, the wood ceases. The rivers that wash this country all come from the high mountains of Yacanto, Champachin, and Achala; which are little inferior in height to the Andes of Chili, and are a kind of branches of those of Peru. All these rivers, except the Third River, after passing through the breaks in the mountains of Cordova, and rushing into the plains, in a few leagues lose their sweetness, become salt, grow less and less by the dryness of the sandy soil, and are finally swallowed up in some lake.
The Rio Tercero, or Third River, the most considerable of them all, before it passed the mountains of Cordova (where it has a great fall) is increased by the accession of the rivers Champachin, Gonsales, Del Medio, Quillimsa, Cachu-Corat, La Cruz, Luti, and Del Sauce; but coming to the plains, part of which are very sandy, during a dry season it disappears under the ground, and breaks out again at some distance. In times of rain it increases very much, and brings down, in it's rapid current, great quantities of wood. It makes many windings, enclosing large fields. It's banks, for more than twenty leagues after it leaves the mountains, are full of high willow trees. The country through which it flows breeds excellent cattle, being fine pasture and corn land, and in some places produces melilot, and a kind of woody sarsaparilla. At the end of twenty leagues it grows salt, but is not so very bad as to be unfit from drinking. In this manner it takes it's course to the Cruzalta, where it is called Carcaranna, from it's many windings, and passes on, running from N. N. W. to S. S. E. till it enters the Parana, at the Rincon, or corner, of Gaboto, about eighteen leagues from Santa Fe.
There is nothing particular in the Rivers Quarto and Quinto; their produce is much the same as that of the former, except that there is a greater scarcity of wood in the countries through which they pass. Their fields are stocked with cattle, and are fit for tillage. The River Quinto, when it overflows, has a communication by channels with the River Saladillo, which discharges itself into the River of Plata.
Between this country and the plains of St. Juan and Mendoza (the habitation of the second division of the northern Puelches, or Taluhets) are the mountains of Cordova and Yacanto. They form a continued chain, with very bad passes, through breaks of hills, and over ascents and ridges, which are very steep, and untfit for wheel carriages. The tops of these ridges are from sixteen to twenty leagues distant from each other. The intervening country contains many spacious and fruitful vallies, watered with brooks and rivulets, and beautifed with hills and rising grounds. These vallies produce many kinds of fruit trees, as peaches, apples, cherries, and plums; and also corn, where the land is cultivated: but they are more particularly famous for breeding cattle, sheep, and horses, and especially mules. The greatest part of these last, which pass yearly over to Peru, are bred in this country, and are it's greatest riches, as they bring into it silver and gold, from the mines of Potosi, Lipes, and all Peru.
On the western skirts of the mountains of Yacanto, or Sacanto, there are many farms belonging to the Spaniards, who have been allured thither by the fertility of the soil, which is capable of all kinds of husbandry, and is well watered by the rivulets which flow down from the mountains; and also by the facility of breeding cattle; there being few woods, except such as arenecessary for fuel and building. And besides, the security from the annoyance of the Indians is another great inducement to settle there, as they infest those only, who live more to the south.
All the rest of the country to the westward, between these mountains and the first river Desaguadero, consists of plains, with little water but what the brooks afford. It contains abundance of fine pastures, but is unpeopled. Sometimes indeed the Taluhets and Picunches go thither, in small troops, to hunt wild mares, or rob passengers and waggons, which are passing from Buenos-Ayres to San Juan and Mendoza.
This country affords little for exportation to Europe, except bull and cow hides, and some tobacco, which grows very well in Paraguay; but it is of the greatest importance to the Spaniards, because all the mules, or the greatest part of them, which are used in Peru, come from Buenos-Ayres and Cordova, and some few from Mendoza; without which they would be todally disable from carrying on any traffic, or having any communication with the neighbouring countries; as the high and rugged mountains of Peru are impassable but by mules, and in that country they cannot breed these animals. Those also which go thither are in general short-lived on account of their hard labour, the badness of the roads, and the want of pastures. So that the loss of this country might draw after it the loss of Peru and Chili. The road from Buenos-Ayres to Salta is fit for wheel carriages; but the mules, which are driven from that place and Cordova, are obliged, after so long a journey, to rest a year in Salta, before they can pass to Potosi, Lipes, or Cusco.
The people of these countries are very indifferent soldiers, and so displeased with the Spanish government, loss of trade, the dearness of all European goods, and, about all, so many exorbitant taxes, &c. that they would be glad to be subject to any other nation, who would deliver them from their present oppression. Yet, notwithstanding, all this country is without any other guard, than a few regular troops in Buenos-Ayres and Montevideo; and if these two places were once taken, the taking of the rest might be accomplished by only marching over it; in which any enemy would be assisted by the natives of the country. The loss of these two places would deprive the Spaniards of the only ports they have in these seas, where their ships, which are to pass Cape Horn to the South Seas, can receive any succour. Before the expulsion of the Jesuits from the missions of Paraguay, they might have had very considerable succour from the Indian Guaranies, who were armed and disciplined, and who helped to subject the rebellious insurgents of Paraguay, and to drive the Portuguese out of the colonly of Saint Sacrament, and were the greatest defence of this important country.
That part of the Cordillera which lies well west of Mendoza is of a very height, and always covered with snow; from whence all this chain of mountains is called by the Indians Psen Mahauisau, or Snowy Mountain; or Liu, or Lio Mahuisau, i. e. White Mountain. You pass some leagues through very pleasant vallies, encompassed with high hills, before you come to the greatest ridge, which is very high and steep, with frequent frightful and deep precipices; and in some places the road is so very narrow and dangerour, on account of many huge, prominent rocks, that there is scarce room enough for a loaded mule to pass along. The hollows are never without snow, even during the summer, and in the winter there is great danger of being frozen to death. Many have lost their lives, by attempting to pass them befor the snows were in some degree melted. At the bottom of these precipices, there are many brooks and rivers, which are as it were imprisoned, between high, perpendicular banks; and so narrow is the space between them, in some places, that one might leap from one side to the other; but it is impossible to descend them. These rivers and brooks take many windings within the hills and precipices, till they break out into the plains, where they compleat the bulk of greater rivers To ascend, and pass over the great ridge, is commonly one day's journey, at Mendoza and Coquimbo, and much the same in other places, according to the information I have received.
These hills produce very large and lofty pine trees. Their growth is like those of Europe, but their wood is more solid and harder than ours; it is very white, and makes excellent masts, as well as other materials for ship building, and is very durable; so that, as Ovales remarks, ships built in the South Seas often last forty yers. The fruit is bigger; the head that produces it being twice as large as those which the Spanish pines bear; and the pine-nuts are as big as dates, with a very slender shell. The fruit is long and thick, with four blunt corners, as big as two almonds. By boiling these fruits or kernels, they make provision for long journies, or to keep at home. Prepared in this manner, they have something of a mealiness, and taste very like a boiled almond, but not so oily. This tree produces a considerable quantity of turpentine, which forms itself into a mass, something harder and drier than our rosin, but much more clear and transparent, though not so yellow. The Spaniards call, and use it as incense; but that is a mistake, as it has no other fragrance than that of rosin, only something finer.
The vales at the foot of the Cordillera are in some places very fertile, watered with brooks or rivers, and, when cultivated, produce good corn, and a variety of fruits. Apple trees grwo there wild, in great abundance; and the Indians make a kind of cyder, for present use, begin ignorant how to preserve it.
The volcanoes, or fiery mountains, of which there are many on this side of the Cordillera, may vie with Vesuvius, Mont-Gibello, or any of those which we know of in Europe, for their size and furious eruptions. Being in the Vuulcan, below Cape St. Anthony, I was witness to a vast cloud of ashes being carried by the winds, and darkening the whole sky. It spread over great parts of the jurisdiction of Buenos-Ayres, passed the River of Plata, and scattered it's contents on both sides of the river, in so much that the grass was covered with ashes. This was caused by the eruption of a volcano near Mendoza; the winds carrying the light ashes to the incredible distance of three hundred leagues of more.
The country of Buenos-Ayres, the antient habitation of the Chechehets, is situated on the south side of rhe River of Plata. The coast here is wet and low, with many bogs and marshes. The waterside is covered with wood, which serves for fuel. These marshes reach, from the banks, till you come to the rising ground; which are also in some parts very boggy; being a clay, with very little depth of soil to cover it, till you go farther into the country; were the soil is deeper. The country is every where flat, with small rising grounds; and it is very surprising, that in all this vast jurisdiction, in that of Santa Fe, and of St. Joago del Eibero, there is not to be found one stone, which is the natural produce of the country: and this is the case as far as the mountains of the Vuulcan, Tandit, and Cayru, to the south east of Buenos-Ayres.
The country which is between Buenos-Ayres, and the river Saladillo (the limit and boundary of the Spanish government to the south of this province) is entirely a plain, without so much as one tree or rising ground, till you come to the banks of this river, which is about twenty-three leagues from the Spanish settlements. This country is near twenty leagues broad, from N. E. to S. W. and is bounded by the straggling villages of the Matanza and Magdalen. To the north of the Salidillo there are many great lakes, some bogs, and hollow vales. The lakes I am acquainted with are those of the Reduction, Sauce, Vitel, Chascamuz, Cerrillos, and Lobos. To the south east, there is a long and narrow lake of sweet water, near the river Borombon, which is very rare in this country; it is eight leagues distant from the nearest Spanish settlement. About six leagues farther is the great rivere, or rather lake of Borombon; which is formed by the overflowing of the lakes of the Reduction, Sauce, Vitel, and Chascamuz, when they are swelled with the great rains. It is sometimes near a mile in breadth, having neither banks nor falls, but a very broad, flat bottom. When it is most increased, it has not, in the middle, above a fathom of water. During the greatest part of the year it is entirely dry. After running about twelv leagues from the lake of chascamuz, it enters into the River of Plata, a little above the Stony Point, or Punta de Piedra.
From this river to the Saladillo is about twelve leagues, travelling S. E. The intervening country is low and flat, like the rest; and in some places there is plenty of pasture, especially on approaching nearer to the banks of the Saladillo. In dry seasons, when grass fails near the coast of the River of Plata, all the tattle belonging to the Spanish farms of Buenos-Ayres are driven to the banks of the Saladillo, where the grass lasts longer, by reason of the greater depth of soil.
These plains extend to the west as far as the Desaguadero, or territory of Mendoza, and have no water, but what falls from the sky, and is gathered in lakes, except the three rivers of the Desaguadero, Hueyguey, and Saladillo. This country is not inhabited or cultivated, either by Indians or Spaniards; but abounds with cattle, wild horses, deer, ostriches, armadilloes, partridges, wild geese, ducks, and other game.
The River Saladillo, on account of it's saltness, is only drinkable by cattle. Almost all the year it runs so low, that at a place called the Callighon, eight leagues from its mouth, where it is very broad, it scarce reaches to the ankles; and, even at it's mouth, it would be impossible for a small boat laden to enter: yet, about the beginning of October, I have seen it swell so prodigiously, as to rise to the tops of it's banks in four and twenty hours, and to have, in the place just mentioned, near a fathom of water, and to be almost a quarter of a mile in breadth; all this happening, without any quantity of rain having fallen in that part of the country. The flood generally lasts two or three months, before it goes down. The Saladillo breaks out where the Fifth River (that passes by St. Louis) ends in a lake; which, when it overflows with the rains, or melted snows, that fall from the mountains, causes the flooding of this river. As it takes it's course by the district of Buenos-Ayres, going afterwards to the south, approaching the first ridge of mountains, then turning to the north, and again to the east, it receives the waters of many vast lakes, that overflow with the heavy rains; and, when these supplies fail, it almost dries up. On the banks of this river, to about eight leagues from the mouth, there are many woods, of a tree there called tala, which is only fit for fuel or enclosures. The last of these woods, called the Isla Larga, reaches to about three leagues from it's entrance into the River of Plata.
The River of Plata is one of the largest rivers in all America, and opens into the sea by a mouth near feventy miles broad. Some say it is only sixty, and others extend it to eighty. It is called by this name from the place where in joins with the Uruguaigh: higher up the principal branch, it goes by the name of the Parana. Into which enter the great rivers Bermejo, the Pilcomayu, which passes by Chuquisaca, and the Paraguay (from whence that province takes it's name) which passes by the city of Paraguay or Assumption, and communicates, by navigable branches, with the Portuguese gold mines of Cuyaba and Matagrosso, as also with Peru; in the same manner as the Parana communicates with the mines of Brasil and the mountains of St. Paul.
On the banks of the River Carcarania, or Tercero, about three or four leagues before it enters into the Parana, are found great numbers of bones, of an extraordinary bigness, which seem human. There are some greater and some less, as if they were of persons of different ages. I have seen thigh-bones, ribs, breast-bones, and pieces of skulls. I have also seen teeth, and particularly some grinders which were three inches in diameter at the base. These bones (as I have been informed) are likewise found on the banks of the Rivers Parana and Paraguay, as likewise in Peru. The Indian Historian, Garcilasso de la Vega Inga, makes mention of these bones in Peru, and tells us that the Indians have a tradition, that giants formerly inhabited those countries, and were destroyed by God for the crime of sodomy.
I myself found the shall of an animal, composed of little hexagonal bones, each bone an inch in diameter at least; and the shell was near three yards over. It seemed in all respects, except it's size, to be the upper part of the shell of the armidillo; which, in these times, is not above a span in breadth. Some of my companions found also, near the River Parana, an entire skeleton of a monstrous alligator. I myself saw part of the vertebræ, each bone of which was near found inches thick, and about six inches broad. Upon an anatomical survey of the bones, I was pretty well assured, that this extraordinary increase did not proceed from any acquisition of foreign matter; as I found that the bony fibres were bigger, in proportion as the bones were larger. The bases of the teeth were entire, though the roots were worn away, and exactly resembled in figure the basis of a human tooth, and not of that of any other animal I ever saw. These things are well known to all who live in these countries; otherwise, I should not have dared to write them.
The River Parana has the extraordinary property of converting several substances into a very hard stone.
When it was first discovered, it was navigable, by small ships, as high as the City of the Assumption; but, since that time, it has brought down so much sand, that even small merchant ships can go no higher than Buenos-Ayres. The larger vessels, and men of war, are obliged to unload at Montevideo. There is great need of good pilots for this river, to avoid foundering on the two banks, called the English Bank and the Bank of Ortiz, or striking against the Stony Point, which runs many leagues under the water, and crosses the whole river. The northern channel is narrower and deeper, the southern wider and more shallow: opposite to the bank of Ortiz it is not three fathom deep, with a hard stony bottom. This river has two annual inundations, a greater and a less, proceeding from the rains, which fall in those vast countries, from whence the Parana and Paraguay have their sources. The lesser is from the latter part of June to the latter part of July, is called the increase of the Pequereyes, or Sparlings, and is used to cover all the islands in the Parana. The greater begins in the month of December, and lasts all January, and sometimes February. This is so high, that it rises five or six yards above the islands, and sometimes more; so that there appears nothing above the water but the tops of the high trees, with which the islands of this river abound. In these seasons, the lions, tigers, stages, and aquaraquazues, leave the islands, and swim over to the main land. On an extraordinary and uncommon flood of this river, the inhabitants of Santa Fe have more than once had thoughts of forsaking the city, for fear of a deluge; but when this vast slood comes down into the River of Plata, it does but just cover the low lands upon it's banks.
Some of the islands of the Parana are two or three miles in length; they have great quantities of timber on them, and afford both food and shelter to great numbers of lions, tigers, stags, capivaras, or river-hogs, river-wolves (which I take to be ths same kind as our otter in England) aquaraquazues, and many alligators. The aquaraquazu is a very large fox, with a very bushy tail; aquara (in the Paraguay tongue) signifying fox, and quazu, great. Their common little fox they call aquarachay.
This river abounds in fish of many kinds, both with and without scales; some of which are known, and others unknown in Europe. Those that have scales, are the dorado or gold fish, the packu, corvino, salmon, pequarey, lisa, boga, favala, dentudo, and other lesser fry. Those that have no scales, are the mungrullu, zurubi, pati, armado, raya or ray, erizo or water hedge-hog, many river tortoises, bagres, &c.
The dorado is in great plenty in most of the rivers of the Parana. They are very large, some weighing twenty or five and twenty pounds each; their flesh is white and solid; the head in general most esteemed.
The packu is the best and most delicious fish of any in these rivers, and has an excellent taste and flavour. It is a thich, broad fish, like our turbot, of a dark, dusky colour, with a mixture of yellow. It's breadth is two thirds of it's length. It's scales are very small, and the head is small in proportion to the body. This fish is in high estimation, and is seldom found but in the spring and summer. When salted with care, it may be kept some months dried, but after that time, it being very fat, it grows rancid. I think it is something like our tench, though much larger.
Another fish, in great esteem, is the corvino; which is only found near the mouth of the River of Plata, where the salt and fresh water mix together. They are as large as a middle-sized cod, and in shape resemble our carp. They have very large, thick bones, and broad scales. This fish is very good, either fresh, or salted and dried. At the proper season, great quantities of them are taken with a hook, about Maldonado and Montevideo, and are sent to Buenos-Ayres, Cordova, &c.
The salmon is not at all like ours, and is a dry, unsavory fish, in no esteem.
The pequareys, or king's fish (so called by the Spaniards) are a kind of smelt or sparling; in colour, shape, and taste, resembling ours, except that the head is very large, and the mouth very wide. Their size is about that of a mackeral. They never frequent salt water; but are in great quantities in the River of Plata. When the Parana increases, in the month of July, they go up that river, in vast shoals, a little above Santa Fe, to leave their spawn in the lesser rivers, which enter the Parana. The fishermen catch them with hooks, in great quantities, cut them open, and dry them, and sell them to the neighbouring cities. They are of an excellent taste, and their flesh is very white, without any fat: when fresh, they are considered as a great dainty. They must be dried without salt, as it would immediately consume them; and if they get any wet or moisture, where they are hung out to dry, they will corrupt. They are in equal esteem with the packu and the corvino.
The lisa, in shape, size, and taste, resembles our mackerel; but is not of so beautiful a colour, nor so small near the tail, and the scales are larger. This fish swims no higher than the River of Plata; where the greatest shoals are to be found near the mouth, in the high tides. With the full and new moon, then enter in such numbers into the little River Saladillo, that in one night, in two or three draughts with a drag-net, I generally made a sufficient provision for myself and my companions during Lent.
The lavala and boga are fish like our carp. In the Parana, and River of Plata, they weigh three or four pounds. All the rivers of these provinces produce great quantities of these fish, so that they are very cheap; and the inhabitants lay in a great sotck of them, salted and dried. In eating of these fish, great caution is requisite, on account of the multiplicity and smallenss of their bones. The boga, when fresh, is thought better that the savala, though that is both larger and broader. The method of taking them is with a net.
The dentudo (so called on account of it's large and sharp fore-teeth) is somewhat inferior to the last. It may weigh in general about a pound and a half, and, though well-tasted, is seldom eaten, as it has great numbers of very dangerous bones. It is the most thorny fish I have ever seen.
There is, beside these, a small, broad, flat fish, which is called palometa; it is thorny, but well-tasted. It has ugly, shart fins, with which it wounds those, who too hastily lay hold of it. The wound which is made by these fins is very painful, shoots, festers, and inflames in such a manner, that it often brings on a fever, convulsions, and tetanus; so that it sometimes terminates in death.
FISH without SCALES.
The mungrullu is the largest fish found in this river. There are some that weigh a hundred weight, and are two yards in length. It has a smooth skin, of an ash colour, somewhat inclining to yellow, a bony head, rough gums, and a wide swallow. The flesh is of a pale red, and very solid. It is very strong and heavy in the water, and it requires very firm tackle, and great strength, to take it.
The zurubi is next in size to the mungrullu, and not much inferior. It's head is almost one third of it's whole bigness, and is all bone. It has a very broad, flat mouth, and an exceeding wide throat. It's skin is smooth, of a white ash colour, spotted like a tiger, with large, round, black spots. It's flesh is white, sound, solid, and well-tasted, and it is the best of these fish without scales.
The pati, or patee, is not of a much less size than the former, but has a smaller head, and narrower swallow, and has some flesh upon the head. The colour of this fish is like that of the mungrullu; it's flesh is of a yellowish white; and it is esteemed almost as much as the zurubi.
The armado is a thich, strong fish, with a short body. It's back, sides, and fins, are all armed with strong, sharp points. When taken, it makes a grunting noise, and endeavours to wound; for which reason it must be stunned, before it can be handled with safety. This fish generally weighs from about four to six pounds; it's flesh is very white, firm, and solid.
The rayas, rays, or skate, are so very plentiful in the Parana, that the shallow sandbanks are entirely covered with them. They are of an oval figure, near three quarters of a yard in length; the back is of a dark colour, and the belly white. They are flat, like ours, and have thier mouth in the middle of the belly, which is indeed the greatest part of the fish, the skirts being very narrow, not above three inches broad, and much thinner than ours. As this is the only eatable part, they are in no esteem. This fish has a long, narrow tail; at the root of which, on the back, it has a sharp, pointed bone, which has two edges, rough like a saw with small teeth. With these, it wounds those who approach or tread upon it.
The wounds made by these bones are sometimes attended with very fatal consquences; for very frequently the bone is broken in the wound, and cannot be taken out, but by an incision, very difficult to be performed in the tendinour parts of the feet. The wound becomes exceeding painful, inflames, does not supporate, brings on a fever with convulsions, which ends in an ophisthotonos, or tetanus, and causes death.
The erizo, or water hedge-hog, is very like the armado, but not quite so large. Besides being armed in the same manner, it has a very rough skin, full of short, sharp points. It's flesh is not so well-tasted as that of the armado.
The vieha, or old woman, bears a resemblance, both to the armado, and the erizo. It is armed with prickles, but they are neither so strong, nor so numerous, as those of the abovementioned fish. It's skin, which is of a motley grey colour, appears to be full or wrinkles; it grunts like the armado, when it is taken; and it's flesh is very savoury. These seldom weigh two pounds, and, in the small brooks and rivers, they are still less, not weighing more than half a pound.
The bagres are in all respects, except their size, like the pati: they very seldom weigh so much as a pound and a half, and oftentimes much less. They ave a strong, pointed bone, in each of the fins near the head, and must be handled with caution after they are taken, as they live a long time out of water. Their flesh is soft and well-tasted. They are either caught in nets, or by angling.
I shall here give an account of a strange, amphibious animal, which is an inhabitant of the River Parana; a description of which has never reached Europe; nor is there even any mention of it by those who have described this country. What I here relate is from the concurrent asseverations of the Indians, and of many Spaniards who have been in various employments on this river. Besides, I myself, during my residence on the banks of it, which was near four years, had once a transient view of one. So that there can be no doubt about the existence of such an animal.
In my first voyage to cut timber, in the year 1752, up the Parana, being near the bank, the Indians shouted yaquaru, and looking, I fas a great animal, at the time it plunged into the water from the bank; but the time was too short, to examine it with any degree of precision.
It is called yaquaru, or yaquaruigh, which (in the language of that country) signifies, the water tiger. It is described by the Indians to be as big as an ass; of the figure of a large, over-grown river-wolf or otter; with sharp talons, and strong tusks; thick and short lets; long, shaggy hair; with a long, tapering tail.
The Spaniards describe it somewhat differently; as having a long head, a sharp nose, like that of a wilf, and stiff, erect ears. This difference of description may arise from it's being so seldom seen, and, when seen, so suddenly disappearing; or perhaps there may be two species of this animal. I look upon this last account as the most authentic, having received it from persons of credit, who assured me they had seen this water tiger several times. It is always found near the river, lying on a bank; from whence, on hearing the least noise, it immediately plunges into the water.
It is very destructive to the cattle which pass the Parana; for great herds of them pass every year; and it generally happens that this beast seizes some of them. When it has once laid hold of it's prey, it is seen no more; and the lungs and entrails soon appear floating upon the water.
It lives in the greatest depths, especially in the whirlpools made by the concurrence of two streams, and sleeps in the deep caverns that are in the banks.
PORTS in the RIVER of PLATA.
The ports in this river, for ships, are Buenos-Ayres, the Colony of the Sacrament, the Bay of Barragan, the Haven of Montevideo, and the Port of Maldonado. There are many others, for lesser vessels; chiefly at the mouths of the several rivers that run into it.
Buenos-Ayres (properly speaking) has no port, but only an open river, exposed to all the winds; and the more so, because the shallowness of the coast obliges ships to come to an anchor three leagues from the land. The winds here, especially those which come from the south, are very violent; and ships are generally provided with cables and anchors of an uncommon strength, for this place.
The port of the Colony of the Sacrament is something better, by reason of the covert [sic, cover] it receives from the island of St. Gabriel and the higher land, and ships being able to anchor near the shore. Notwithstanding which, it is too open and exposed to the winds; and it has some rocks and shoals, and, in order to steer into it with safety, it is absolutely necessary to have a pilot.
The Bay of Barragan, which is twelve leagues to the south east of Buenos-Ayres, is likewise very wide and open, the land low all about it, nor can ships of any burthen come within two or three leagues of the shore. The only shelter they have (if it may be so called) are some banks under water, which break the force of the waves, but at the same time are very invonvenient, both for going in and coming out; and there is but little security, in a strong tempest, against a ship's breaking her cable, and being driven on them.
Montevideo is the best, and indeed the only good port, in this river. The Spaniards seem sensible of the importance of this place, by the extraordinary care they have taken to fortify it; having made it much stronger that Buenos-Ayres.
The entrance of this port is narrow, and through a strait made by two points of land. On that to the west rises a mountain, which may be seen at the distance of twelve, or even sixteen leagues; from when this place derives it's name. It is dangerous to sail too near the western point, as there are many rocks under water. The entrance to the east is deeper, and more safe. Beyond the western point there is a square battery, built close to the water. When I saw it, it was only of stone and clay, but since, I believe, it has been rebuilt with lime. The bay, from the entrance, is more than a league and a half in length, and the bay itself is almost round. Within it, on the east side, there is a small island abounding with rabbits, called in Spanish La Isla de los Conejos. The surrounding land is so very high, that no storm can reach this port (although there are very great ones in the river) the water being always as smooth as that of a pool; and there is sufficient depth for ships of the first rate. I saw one of that size here, which had formerly belonged to the States of Holland (and at that time belonged to the Marquis of Casa Madrid) that had entered to unload. The bottom is a soft clay.
Behind the battery is the small city of Montevideo, which occupies all that part of a promontory, that forms the eastern part of the bay. The fortifications are to the north. These are regular works, according to the modern rules of military architecture; consisting of a line drawn from sea to sea, or from the bottom of the haven to the river, enclosing all the promontory; of a bulwark, or angle, in the middle, which faces the land-side, and is well provided with artillery; and of a pretty strong fort, with barracks for soldiers, all bomb-proof. Towards the town, there is only a wall, with a ditch on both sides of it. This place has it's governor, and a garrison of four or five hundred regular troops.
The other side of the bay is without any fortification, nor has the high mountain even so much as a watchtower; which mountain, if occupied, might be a great annoyance to the battery, city, and garrison, on account of it's height, though it is four or five miles from the latter.
The last port is Maldonado. It is an open haven, at the north entrance of the Plata, and is sheltered from the south east winds by a small island, which bears the same name. Here the Spaniards have a small fort, where they keep a detachment of soldiers. I know no more of this port, having never seen it.
The northern side of the River of Plata is an uneven country, have very high hills, and some ridges of mountains. It is watered by a great many brooks and rivers; some of which are very large. The biggest of these are the rivers St. Lucie, the Uruguaigh, and the Rio Negro, which falls into the Uruguaigh, about ten leagues from it's mouth. This country is very fertile, produces all kinds of grain, when properly cultivated, and has also great quantities of good timber. The rivers and brooks are all of fresh water. Here are a great many farms belonging to the Spaniards; but the country to the north of Montevideo is possessed by the infidel Minuanies.
The Charonas and Garoes (two of these nations) were formerly very numerous, but have been entirely destroyed by the Spaniards. In this territory, there were formerly the greatest numbers both of wild and tame cattle; and hre they increase more than on the southern side of the River of Plata. There are still great numbers of sheept and horned cattle, but few horses. A great quantity of contrayerva grows in the neighbourhood of Montevideo; which is capable of all the products of Europe.
The Spanish territory is bounded on the north by the Rio Grande, which divides it from the Portuguese settlements in the Brasils.
Continuation of the Description of the Indian Country,
with it's Vales, Mountains, Rivers, &c.
—Tierra del Fuego—Falkland's Islands.
To the south of the town of the Conception (which is upon the south side of the River of Plata) is the mount of the Vivoras, or Vipers; where are two thick woods, almost round, with a space between them. About four leagues to the south of these is the Monte del Tordillo, or of the Grey Horse, which consists of a great number of woods, some greater and some less, each of them situated on a rising ground encompassed with a vale; their trees the same as those of the woods on the Saladillo. All this is a plain, low country, with high watery grass, and abounds in armadilloes, deer, ostriches, and wild horses; and in the woods there are both lions and tigers. Some parts of these woods reach within two leagues of the seacoast, which is extremely low, and so boggy that it is impassable, the boggy part being near a mile in the breadth, and exceedingly deep.
All the way from the Saladillo to near the first mountains there is neither brook nor river, nor any water but what is collected in the lakes in rainy seasons; and in times of drought even these fail.
About fifteen or twenty leagues to the E. S. E. or E. by S. of the woods of the Tordillo is the great promontory of Cape St. Anthony, which forms the southern point of the River of Plata. The figure of this cape is round, and not pointed, as is represented in some maps. It stands in a peninsula; the entrance into which on the western side is over a wide boggy brook, or lake, which comes from the sea, or the salt water of the River of Plata. Is is chiefly a clay, with some little depth of soil, and is watered in winter by many small brooks, whose waters have a salt taste; but they are generally dry in summer. The pastures are not so good, nor the grass so high, as those of the Tordillo and the Saladillo. On the south side of the promontory an arm of the western ocean enters, forms a bay, and terminates in lakes. Whether this bay might serve as a harbour is not known, as it has never been sounder; all ships steering very wide of the Cape, for fear of the great sand-baks called Arenas Gordas, or Thick Sands. I have been round some part of these lakes, and passed the channels by which others have a communication with the bay; but with great danger, not only from the bogs, but more especially from the tigers, which were more numerous than I ever saw in any other place. Upon the borders of these lakes there are very thick woods of tala and elder trees, which are the retreats of these fierce animals, whose chief food is fish.
Towards the coast, there are three ridgegs of sand. That which is nearest the sea is very high and loose, and moves with the winds: at a distance it has the appearance of a mountain. The next is about half a mile distant from the former, and is not so high. The third is still at a greater distance, extremely low and narrow, the sand here being scarcely two feet high. the land between these ridges of sand is barren, being almost destitute of herbage of any kind. This peninsula abounds with wild horses, which (it is imagined) having got in from the neighbouring country, could not find their way out again; which circumstance occasions it to be a frequent resort of the Indian hunters. This small territory is called by the Spaniards the Rincon (or corner) of Tuyu, the country adjoining being called Tuyu, for more than forty leagues to the west. Tuyu in the Indian language signifies mire or clay, which is the soil of all that country, and continues southward to within ten leagues of the first mountains. The ridges of sand abovementioned reach south to within three leagues of Cape Lobos, having to the west of them low, boggy marshes, of two leagues or more in breadth, which extend all along the coast, before you come to the highter ground of the Tuyu, which begins at no great distance from the woods of the Tordillo. In this country there are a great many little hills, which run east and west, and about two or three leagues from each others. They are usually double; and at the foot of each of them is a lake, of one, two, and sometimes three miles in length: the most remarkable of which lakes are the Bravo, the Palantalen, Lobos, Cerrillos, &c. These hills form in general high bankls towards the lakes; which, without having any brook, river, or spring to supply them, seldom want water, except in times of great drought. They are called by the Spaniards Cerrillos (or little hills) and there are some of them even on the other side of the Saladillo.
This country, during some parts of the year, swarms with incredible numbers of wild horses; and on this account the Tehuelhets, Chechehets, and sometimes all the tribes of the Puelches and Moluches assemble here, to get their stock of provisions. They disperse their little moveable habitations upon the small hills beforementioned, and hunt every day till that have taken what is sufficient, and then return to their respective countries.
Near the sea-side, and almost close to the great ridges of sand, is a great lake, called the Mar Chiquito, or Little Sea. It is about five leagues distant from Cape Lobos, and is about the same number of leagues in length, though not above two or three miles broad. It is salt, and communicates with the ocean by a river which passes through the sand-banks. There are also three or four small rivers, that issue from the north side of the mountains of the Vuulcan and Tandil, and crossing the plain from west to east, occasion some bogs or marshes, and empty themselves inito this lake. There rivers are of sweet water, and have some bagres in them, with great numbers of otters, as before described: the largest of them is that which comes from the Tandil, and enters into the northern point of the lake.
To the north of these rivers the soil grows considerably better, the grass being high and verdant, and so continuing to the foot of the mountains; but there are no woods, nor even single trees. The mountains, though they are not very hilgh, may be distinguished very plainly in a clear day at the distance of twenty leagues, the country being so extremely flat and level
These mountains are not one continued ridge, but many mountains or ridges of mountains, and between them are large, pleasant vales, which interrupt their continuation. They begin to fise at about six leagues distance from the seacoast, and continue for about forty leagues to the west. They rise from the plain almost perpendicular, and are covered with grass till within about ten yards of the top; and from thence hthere are great numbers of stones, which lie in fush a manner as to form a wall, than encloses the mountain, except at one end, where it declines gradually. The decling part is divided into hills and dales, with small rivulets, which join at the bottom, and form one common stream. At the top there is a large country, with variety of rocks, hollows, and hills; with deep brooks, running among frequent breaks of the lesser hills: there are also small woods of a low, thorny tree, very fit for fuel. This variety of country is from two to three leagues in length, and sometimes a league in breadth, sometimes more, especially at that end where in declines. At the foot of these mountains there are abundance of springs, which trickl down into the vallies and form brooks. The paths by which they are ascended arre very few, and extremely narrow. These the Indians stop up, to secure the wild horses, &c. taken in the Tuyu, which they turn upon the top, as there is no getting from thence but by these narrow passes, which are easily stopped.
Between these mountains there is a space, about two or three leagues broad, of a plain level country, with some few rising grounds, watered with brooks; which sometimes run in the middle, and sometimes round them, and are formed by the springs which issue from the mountains. These vallies are very fertile, have a deep, black soil, without any clay, and are always covered with such fine grass, that the cattle which feed there grow fat in a very short time. They are in general very much enclosed by the mountains at one end, or by some high hill which rises in the middle; are most commmonly open to the north or north west; and from the rising ground there is a pleasant and delightful prospect a great way into the country, all the enclosed vales betwen the mountains being higher land than the plains to the north. I have not seen any country, in the district of Buenos-Ayres, so capable of imporvement as this. The only inconvenience it is subject to is the want of good timber for building houses; which however, in the course of a few years, and with some little trouble, might be remedied; especially as there are sufficient materials for temporary houses, with roofs covered with reeds, which might serve till better could be had.
The small rivulets, or brooks, that flow from the mountains, sometimes enter into, or form lakes; some of which are more than a league in length. There is one of an ovel figure, that reaches from mountain to mountain, and is in windy seasons very boisterous. There is also another, called the Lake of the Cabrillos, which is in the shape of the figure 7, and is as long, but not so broad as the former. On this lake there are great gquantities of ducks, of various kinds and colours, some of them as large as geese; and on one point of it I saw such numbers, that it was a difficult matter to discern the water, though wide. On one side of this lake there are hills, and, on the other, a high, broken bank. At one point there enters a small river, that comes from the mountains, and, having no immediate drain or channel to carry it off, breaks out, after running under ground, at the distance of a league, between the lake and the seacoast.
That part of the mountains which falls to the east, and is nearest to the sea, is called by the Spaniards Vulcan, from a mistake or cuorruption of the Indian name, Vuulcan, or Voolcan; there being a large opening to the south, and Vuulcan, in the Moluche tongue, signifying an opening. Volcanoes there are none; though the Spanish word seems to imply that there are such in this country. The middle part is called Tandil, or (as we pronounce it) Tandeel, from a mountain of that name, which is higher than the rest. The last point of this ridge of mountains towards the west is called the Cayru.
To the east of the Vuulcan, towards the sea, the country is unequal for about two leagues; after which it is flat, with brooks and watering places. Here are some thick and almost impenetrable woods, as well in the hilly as in the low country; in which are a great deal of the low, thorny tree, that grows on the mountains, and plenty of elder trees, which here grow very thick, and to the height of six or seven years. The fruit is like ours, but very good to eat, being of a sour taste corrected with an agreeable sweetness. In other countries, to the north, as Buenos-Ayres, Cordova, &c. the fruit is of a bitter, nauseous taste, and the tree does not grow so high. Near the seacoast, about three miles distant from the sea, is a rising ground, which continues along the coast for about four leagues, and is exceedingly fertile, with rich pastures, where the cattle become extremely fat.
Near the shore, in this part, are two little, round hills, called the Cerros de los Lobos, or Hills of the Sea-Wolves. The short itself consists of high rocks and large stones. Here are great heards of sea-wolves and sea-lions (such as are described in Lord Anson's Voyage) who sleep on the rocks, and suckle their young in the great caves in them. In the woods there are many lions, but few tigers.
Lower towards the south, the coast for many leagues, as far as the mouth of the Red River, or the First Desaguadero, has perpindicular banks, or such a vast height, that is is frightful to approach the bring of them; but these terminate in low sands and sand-banks. All along this coast htere are many small brooks and rivers, which, crossing the plains from the beforementioned mountains, enter into the ocean.
The country between the first mountains and the Casuhati is plain and open, and the Indians are commonly four days in passing it, when they travel without tents. The Chechehets, who travel to the Red River, go straight from the Vuulcan, nearer to the coast, and pass between the Casuhati and the sea, about fifteen leagues to the east of that mountain, and as much from the sea to the west; that they may avoid a vast, sandy desart, called Huecuvu Mapu, or the Devil's Country; where they ane their families might be overwhelmed, if a wind should arise at the time they are passing over it.
The Casuhati is the beginning of a great chain of mountains, which forms a kind of triangle, whereof this makes one angle; and from hence one side of the triangle extends to the Cordillera of Chili, and another terminates in the Straits of Magellan; yet not without being sometimes interrupted by vallies, and continued chains of mountains, that run from nortyh to south, with many windings. That part which forms the Casuhati is by much the highest. In thee centre of some lower hills rises a very lofty mountain, that is as hight as the Cordillera, and is always covered with snow; and it is very seldom that any Indian ventures to the top of it. From this high mountain all this part derives it's name; Casu in the Puel tongue, denoting hill or mountain, and Hati, or Hatee, high. The Moluches call it Vuta Calel, or Great Bulk. Some brooks and streams break out from the southern part of this mountain, that have deep banks covered with willows, which serve for enclosures to secure the cattle of the Indians. After running more to the south, they joing and form a small river, which, running south east, enters into the Hueyque Leuvu, or Little River of Sauces, at some distance from it's mouth. The hills of the Casuhati, after continuing about three or four leagues to the west, have an opening of about three hundred yards wide, which they who take ths rout (and not that between the Casuhati and the Red River) are aobliged to pass. It is called the Guamini, or Guaminee, and has on both sides of it very steep hills. All the country near these hills is open and pleasant, and aboundig in pastures. The good enclosure that the hills and brooks afford for the cattle, and the plains to the westward having plenty of game, occasion it to be constantly inhabited by Indians of different nations; who succeed each other according to their strength, the weakest being always obliged to leave the place.
To the westward of the vast country of the Tuyu, down to the wooods which are over against the Casuhati, is the country of the Dihuilhets; having these woods to the south, the Taluhets and jurisdiction of Cordova to the north, and the Pehuenches to the west. That part of this country which falls to the eastward is open and champaign, with very few woods or coppices, but is subject to frequaent inundations is some parts, from the great fall of rains and the overflowing of many extensive lakes. Some of these, which lie to the west and the south of this country, produce as fine a crystalline-grained salt as those of St. Lucar. The Spaniards of Buenos-Ayres take a journed every year to thse lakes, with a guard of soldiers, to defend them and their cattle from the attacks of the Indians, ankd load two or three hundred carts with this necessary commodity. The distance from Buenos-Ayres to thse salt lakes is about one hundred and firty leagues. They are very large and broad, and some of them encompassed with wood to a considerable distance. Their bankls are white with the salt; which needs no other preparation, than being a little exposed to the sun and dried.
Farther to the westward there is a river with very high, steep banks; whence it is called by the Spaniards Rio de las Barancas, or River of Banks. It is called by the Indians Hueyque Leuvu, or River of Sauces, or Willows, which grow on it's banks. This river is of considerable size, though little when compared with the Red River and the Black River. It is in general shallow, and may be waded, but has sometimes great floods, from rains and melted snows. It is formed in the plain country between the mountains of Achala, Yacanto, and the First Desaguadero, or Red River, from a great number of brooks which issue from those mountains, and takes it's course from thence south and south east, till it passes within twelve or fourteen leagues to the east of the Casuhati, and enters into the ocean, after having received another small river which flows from that mountain. But I have some doubts, from the relations of the Indians, that this river does not empty itself immediately into the ocean, but into the Red River, a little about it's mouth. All this country abounds with wild horses, especially the eastern part, that lies nearest to the Tuyu and the mountains.
The country between the Hueyque Leuvu and the Red River is much the same, but rather more abounding in lakes and marshes intermixed with woods.
The First Desaguadero, or Red River, is one of the largest that pass through this country. It takes it's rise from a great number of streams that break forth from the western side of the Cordillera, almost as high as Chuapa, the most northern town of Chili; and, taking an almost direct course from north to south, absorbs all the rivers which flow from this side of the Cordillera, besides a vast quantity of melted snow. It passes, with a deep and rapid current, within about ten leagues of San Juan and Mendoza: near the latter of which places it receives the great river Tunuya, and another called the River of Portillio, that joins with it, and is soon after swallow up in the lakes of Guanachche.
These lakes are famous for the great numbers of trout caught in them, but more so for burying as it were in their bosom so fast a river; because here it seems to end, terminating in brooks and marshes. But at a few leagues distance it breaks out again, in a vast number of rivulets, which, joining together, form one common river, called by the Picunches, Huaranca Leuvu, that is, a Thousand Rivers; either from the many lesser rivers of which it is composed, or it's great breadth; it being after this very broad and shallow till it enters the ocean. The Pehuenches call this river Cum Leuvu, or Red River, it's banks being of a red colour.
In the winter, when the ground is hardened by the frosts, the Indians, &c. pass over the marshes without any invoncenience; but when, by the heat of the sun, the snow melts in the Cordillera, the Desaguadero increases to such a degree, that it overflows the lakes and marshes, and renders them, as well as the Red River impassable, except by those who are dexterous swimmers: an ability the Pehuenches and Picunches have not.
This river, from the part where the little rivers join it, directs it's course to the south east, till it approaches within a day's journey of the Second Desaguadero, or Black River; when it turns due east for about fifty leagues, approaching the Casuhati: it then turns again to the south east; in which course it continues till it discharges itself into the sea. The mouth of this river makes a large bay or opening, but is very shallow, being stopped up with mud and sand banks.
Sometime in this [early 18th] century a Spanish vessel was left at the mouth of this river, in the Bahia Anegada; the crew of which saved themselves in one of the boats, and sailing up the river, arrived at Mendoza. In the year 1734, or thereabouts, the masts and part of the hulk remained, and were seen by the Spaniards, who at that time made an incursion within land, with their field-marshal Don Juan de Samartin, who told it me as an eye-witness. The course of this river therefore is established past all doubts.
The Tehuelhets of the Black River, and the Huilliches, in their journey to the Casuhati, pass this river in the two places where it takes these turns or windings to the east and south east. It may be near a hundred and fifty years wide in these places, but not so deep but that it may be waded, except when it is raised by the rains and melted snows. It is then so deep, that the women and tents cannot pass, and only the men who can swim, with their horses. The Chechehets, in their journey betwixt their own and the Spanish territories, pass it near the mouth.
The country which lies between this river and the River Sanquel (which discharges itself into the Second Desaguardero) is full of marshes, and woods of that thorny, thick, rough reed, that is called Sanquel in the idiom of the Pehuenches; so as to be impassable in any other manner, than by going close to the Cordillera, and passing the river at it's source, or where it issues from those mountains.
Twelve leagues to the west of the Casuhati, and about six of eight from the Guamini, the Hueyque Leuvu beforementioned takes it's course. The way to this river consists of hills, dales, stony mountains, and many woods. These woods are so extremely thick, that they are passable only through two strait paths, which lead to the River Colorado, or Red River; one points to the west, and the other inclnes to the south. These woods continue about twenty leagues to the north of the Colorado; to the south, they extend to the Second Desaguadero, but there they are somewhat thinner; and, to the west, they reach to the River Sanqual: after which their thickness diminishes. At about five or six leagues to the westward of the River Hueyque there is a large salt pond, in the middle of the woods, and about five or six leagues farther there is a second. There are likewise two others; one to the south, and another to the north. They are well stored with an excellent clean salt, or which the Indians provide themselves great quantities in their journeys. There is also another very large salt pond not far from the sea coast, between the First and Second Desaguaderos.
From the River Hueyque to the First Desaguadero, or Red River, is four, and sometimes five days journey, with tents; which, at that part where it bends towards the south, is through thick, low woods. From thence, tragfvelling still to the west, upon the bank of this river, with the woods to the north, for five or six days more, you arrive at the place where it comes from the north and doubles to the east; and here it is passed: when, after a long day's journey, directly to the south, over a craggy country encumbered with woods, where is no place to rest, the Black River, or Second Desaguadero, is seen from the hills, which are very high, running in a deep, broad vale, wich is about two leagues in breadth on each side of the river.
This river, the greatest of all Patagonia, empties itself into the western [sic, eastern; i. e., Atlantic] ocean, and is known by various names; as the Second Desaguadero, or Second Drain, the Desaguadero of Nahuelhuaupi, or Drain of Nahuelhuaupi; by the Spaniards called the Great River of Sauces, or Willows; by some of the Indians, Cholehechei; by the Puelches, Leuvu Camo, or the River, by Antonomasia; and Cusu Leuvu, that is, Rio Negro, or Black River, by the Huilliches and Pehuenches. Where they cross from the First to the Second Desaguadero, it is called Cholehechel.
The real source of this river is not exactly known, but it is supposed to rise not far from the beginnings of the River Sanquel. It is formed by a great many brooks and small rivers, runs unseen among high, broken rocks, and is straitened and locked up in a very narrow and deep channel; till at length it begins to show itself in a very wide, deep, and rapid stream, somewhat higher than Valdivia, but on the opposite side of the Cordillera. At a small distance from it's fist appearance many rivers fall into it; some of which are large, and come from the Cordillera, and enter principally on the north side.
A Tehuel or Southern Cacique described upon my table as many as sixteen, and told me their names, but not having writing materials at hand, I could not set them down, and have since forgotten them. He added likewise, that he knew no place in the river, even before the entry of these lesser ones, that was not very wide and deep. He did not know where it began, but said it from from the north. He was brother to the old Cacique Cacapol, appeard to be upwards of seventy years of age, and had lived all his time on the borders of this river.
Of these rivers which enter on the north side, one is large, broad, and deep,, and proceeds from a vast lake, near twelve leagues in length, and almost round, called Huechun Lavquen, or the Lake of the Boundary. This lake is about two days journey from Valdivia, and is formed by several brooks, springs, and rivers, which come from the Cordillera.
Besides the river it sends forth to the east and south, which makes part of the great river, it may send out another westward, which may communicate with the South Sea near Valdivia: but this I cannot affirm, as I did not sufficiently examine it.
There is also from the north another small river, which comes higher up from the foot of the Cordillera, and crosses the country from N. W. to S. E. This falls into the Desaguadero about a day and a half's journey to the east of Huichin, the country of the Cacique Cangapol. It is called Pichee Picuntu Leuvu, that is, the Little Northern River; to distinguish it from the Sqnquel, which also enters into the Second Desaguadero; each of them being called by the Indians the River of the North. The mouth of this river is distant from that of the Sanquel about four or five days march.
The river Sanquel is one of the largest in this country, and may pass for another Desaguadero, or Drain, of the snowy mountains of the Cordillera. It comes very far north, running between the mountains amongst breaks and precipices, all the way augments with new supplies from the many brooks that join it. It's first appearance is at a place called the Diamante, or Diamond; from whence it is called by the Spaniards Rio del Diamante. At a small distance from it's source considerable brooks enter it, that come from the foot of the Cordillera farther north; and lower down, towards the south, the River Lolgen discharges itself into it. This river is so large, that the main stream, by the Indians of the Black River, is indifferently called Sanqual Leuvu and Lolgen. It is broad and rapid even at it's first appearance, and increases by the many brooks and springs it receives from the mountains, and from the very moist country through which it passes for the space of three hundred miles, taking an almost straight course from N. To S. by E. till it enters into the Second Desaguadero, or Black River, by a very wide and open mouth.
At the conflux of these two rivers there is a great whirlpool; yet in this very place the Indians pass it, swimming over with their horses. The current of the Sanquel throughout is very violent, especially on it's increase. It's banks are covered with reeds and very lofty willows.
On the south side of the Great or Second Desaguadero there enter but two rivers of any note. One is called the Lime Leuvu by the Indians, and by the Spaniards the Desaguadero, or Drain, of Nahuelhuaupi, or Nauwelwapi. The people of Chili give the same name to all the great river; but this is through a mistake, they being ignorant of some of it's branches; of which this is only one, and not so big as the Sanquel, and much less than the main branch, even at it's first appearance out of the Cordillera.
This river proceeds, with a great and rapid stream, from the Lake of Nahuelhuaupi, almost due north, through vales and marshes, and continues it's course for about thirty leagues, receiving a great many brooks in it's passage from the neighbouring hills, till it enters into the Second Desaguadero, something lower than that which comes from Huechun Lavquen, or the Lake of the Boundary. It is called by the Indians Lime Leuvu, because the vales and marshes though which it flows abound with ticks and blood-leeches, and these are called in the tongue of the Huilliches, lime, or leeme; and the country Leeme Mapu, the Country of Ticks; and the people Leeme Che, People of Ticks.
The Lake of Nahuelhuaupi is one of the greatest that is formed by the waters of the Cordillera, and (according to the account of the Chilenian Missionaries) is near fifteen leagues in length. On one side of it, bear it's bank, is a small, low island, called Nahuelhuaupi, or the Island of Tigers; nahuel signifying a tager, and huaupi an island. It is situated in a great plain, encompassed by hills, rocks, and mountains; from which it receives many brooks and springs, as well as water from the melted snows. A small river enters it on the south side, which comes from the country of Chonos, on the continent over against Chiloe.
The other river which enters the Second Desaguadero from the south is but small, and is called by the Indians Machi Leuvu, or the River of Wizards; but wherefore, I know not. It comes from the country of the Huilliches, runs from south to north, and discharges itself into the main river a little lower that the Lime Leuvu.
The Second Desaguadero from hence takes it's course to the east, making a small bend northward as it comes to the Chilehechel, where it approaches within ten or twelve leagues of the First Desaguadero; then it winds downward to the south east, till it enters into the ocean.
Some small distance below this last winding it makes a large sweep, or circle, forming a peninsula; the neck of it is about three miles wide, and the peninsula, which is almost round, is about six leagues over. It is called the Enclosure of the Tehuelhets, or Tehuel-Malal. The river, till it comes to theis enclosure, has high hills and mountains on both sides, but so far distant, as to leave, in many places, plains between them and the river of two or three miles borad, which about with pasture for cattle, and are never sown: In other places the hills come close to the water. The banks are covered with willows, and it contains a few islands dispersed here and there; among which there is one of a large size, in the country of the Cacique Cacapol, where that chief and his vassals securd their horses from being stolen by the Pehuenches. I never heard of any falls in this river, or that it is fordable in any part of it. It is very rapid, and the floods are very extraordinary, when the rains and melted snows come down the west side of the Cordillera, comprehending all that falls from thirty-five to forty-four degrees of southern latitude, being a chain of seven hundred and twenty miles of mountains. This rising of the river is so sudden, that though it may be heard at a great distance, beating and roaring among the rocks, yet it hardly gives sufficient notice to the Indian women, to pull down their tents, and carry off their baggage; nor to the Indian men, to secure their cattle by removing them to the mountains. Many disasters happen oftentimes in consquence of this great flood; the whole vale is deluged, and tents, cattle, and sometimes women and children, are carried down the vast, impetuous torrent.
The mouth of this river, which opens into the Atlantic Ocean, has, I believe, never been properly surveyed. It is called the Bay Sans Fond, or Bottomless Bay; whether from it's depth, or it's shallowness (as some imagine) I do not know, but I should rather imagine from the former; for I cannot suppose that a river so extremely rapid, and which takes a course of near three hundred leagues, from the foot of the Cordillera, among rocks and stones, could carry along with it any great quantity of sand; or, if it did, that the sand could lodge at the mouth, against the force of so violent a current. The Spaniards call it the Bay of Saint Matthias, and place it in forty degrees forty-two minutes south latitude; though in Mr. D'Anville's map it is placed two degrees farther from the line. I cannot think the distance is so great between the First and Second Desaguaderos; all the Indians affirming that these two rivers enter into the sea at no great distance from each other: wherefore, in my map, I have taken a middle distance.§
§ Now, Golfo San Matias, at 41° 30' 00" south latitude.
In an expedition in the year 1746,§ to examine the seacoast, &c. between the River of Plata and the Straits of Magellan, the mouth of this river was not examined, although the captain of the ship was urged to make the proper dispositions for such an examination; but he neglected to give notice when he was got near to it's latitude. His reasons for this conduct were,
“that his orders were only to discover if there was any port, fit to make a settlement, near or not very far from the mouth of the Straits, that might afford supplies for ships in their passage to the South Sea; that he had surveyed all from Port Gallegos, without finding one place fit for forming a settlement upon, on account of the barrenness of the soil, and the want of the common necessaries of wood and water; that he had done what was sufficient to quiet the King of Spain, with respect to any jealousies he might have of a certain northern nation's being so foolish as to attempt a settlement in such a country, where as many as were left must perish; that the Bay Sans Fond was at too great a distance from Cape Horn, to come within the circle of his instructions; that his stock of fresh water was scarce sufficient to reach the River of Plata, and that he was not certain whether he should be able to get any more at the mouth of the River of Sauces.”
§ The expedition of Don Joachim de Olivarez in the frigate San Antonio, sailing from Spain. Father Falkner joined the expedition when it reached Buenos Aires. His participation may have been omitted by Robert Berkeley, who originally intended to conceal the identity of the author. See his Instructions to William Combe for further details.
A settlement at the mouth of this river would be much more convenient for ships going to the South Seas than that of Buenos-Ayres; where a ship may be a fortnight, or a month, before it can get out, on account of the contrary winds, and then not being able to get over the flats but at high water: and after this, it will take up a week, to get down as low as the Bay Sans Fond; when a vessel that sailed from hence might be that time have doubled Cape Horn, and got into the South Sea.
If any nation should think proper to people this country, it might be the cause of perpetual alarm to the Spaniards; as from hence ships might be sent into the South Seas, and their sea ports destroyed, before such a scheme or intention could be known in Spain, or even in Buenos-Ayres. And farther, a nearer way might be discovered, by navigating the river with barges near to Valdivia. Many troops of the Indians of the river, the stoutest of all these nations, would enlist themselves for the sake of plunder; so that the important garrison of Valdivia might be easily taken; which would of course draw after it the taking of Valparaiso, a much weaker fortress; and the possession of these two places would ensure the conquest of the fertile kingdom of Chili.
A settlement is much more practicable here, than in the Malouin Islands, or the Ports of Desire and San Julian; here being plenty of wood and water, and a good country, fit for tillage, and able to maintain it's inhabitants. The conveniences for a settlement on the enclosure of the Tehuelhets are very great; it being defended by this great and rapid river, which forms as it were a natural foss, and containing eighteen miles in length of a very fruitful country, ab ounding with pastures, and stored with plenty of hares, rabbits, wild fowl, deer, &c. and from the river it might be supplied with plenty of fish of various kinds.
It is a consideration of some weight, that the settlers might be provided with cattle, as cows, horses, &c. on the spot, at a very trifling expense. A commerce might also be established with the Indians; who for sky-coloured glass beads, cascabells of sast brass, broad swords, heads of lances, and hatchets, would exchange cattle for the use of the colony, and fine furs to send to Europe. And so rare is it that ships meet in these seas, that all this might be done with so much secrecy, that the place might be peopled and maintained many years, without the Spaniards being informed of it. The French, for instance, were settled several years in those southern islands, without it's being known to the nations of Europe.
The woods hereabouts consist of the same kind of trees as are before described, except one sort, which the Indians regard as sacred, and never burn. It produces a gum, of the consistence, and almost of the colour of yellow wax: on burning, it has a very fragrant smell, but is not like any of the officinal gums used among us. I never saw this tree; but the natives informed me it is but small. I have had some small quantities of the gum, which, mixed with wax, made small candles.
All the seacoast, from about twenty leagues to the south of the Second Desaguadero, is a dry, barren country, with very little pasture, and uninhabited by man or beast, except a few guanacoes, that sometimes descend from the neighbouring mountains to the west. It has no water for a great part of the year, and what it has is to be found only in the lakes after great rains. At that season the Indians come down to this country, to bury their dead, and visit the sepulchres, and to seek for salt at St. Julian's Bay, or upon the seacoast. Some few stony hills are dispersed here and there, and a metallic ore, of a species of copper, was found in some of them, at Port Desire.
In the voyage made in 1746, no river was discovered in all this coast, though every where (especially in the ports described in the old maps) the Spaniards and missionaries went ahore, and travelled all round the different ports. This convinced them of the mistake they had been under; which was probably occasioned by the strong eddies, or running out of the water at the low tides. as for the River Camarones, described in Mr. D'Anville's map, as opening at the bottom of the Bay of St. George with three mouths (and not in the Bay of Camarones, as I have seen it in former maps) I have placed it in my map, upon his authority; but at the same time must observe, that in the abovementioned voyage no such river was discovered, though we entered into this wide bay. The distance perhaps which the ship lay from the shore might be too great for our making certain observations. The Indians indeed speak of a river in the country of Chulilaw; but I could not discover whence it came, or where it ended, or whether, being small, it was not swallowed up in those desarts; as it often happens to other greater rivers described in this map.
In the Bay of Lions the Spaniards went ashore, but did not find any river. In the Bay of Camarones there was nothing remarkable, but many huge rocks, that had the appearance of a city under water. The bottom of this bay was so shallow at low water, that the frigate was left upon the rocks, and was obliged to wait for the tide to get off. In the Gallegos Bay they likewise went ahore, but were called on board again, before a thorough inquiry could be made whether there was a river or not.
The territory of the Tehuelhet and other Patagonian nations borders upon the western parts of this uninhabitable country; and according to the relation of some Spanish captives, whom I rescued from slavery among the Indians (one of them had been seven years in that country) all this part consists of vales enclosed within low ridges of mountains, watered with springs and small brooks, which are swallowed up in little lakes, or watering places, that in summer dry up: so that many of the inhabitants, at that season, go to live on the Second Desaguadero, carrying their wives, families, and all their baggage along with them; and some go even as far as the Casuhati, the Vuulcan, and the Tandil.
These vales abound in pastures, and have some small woods, which serve for fuel. There are plenty of guanacoes in this country, and in some places they make their tents of the skins of this animal. There are likewise great numbers of antas, whose skins the Tehuelhets sell to the other Puelches, with which the latter make their armour.
The anta is of the stag kind, but without horns. § It's body is as big as that of a larger ass; it's head very long and tapering, ending in a small snout; it's body verty strong, and broad at the shoulders and haunches; it's legs and shanks are long, and stronger than those of a stag; it's feet cloven like those of a stag, but something larger; it's tail short, like that of a deer. The strength of this animal is wonderful; it being able to drag a pair of horses after it, when one horse is sufficient to take a cow or bull. When he is pursued, he opens his way through the thickest woods and coppices, breaking down every thing that opposes him. I do not know whether there have ever been any attempts to tame this animal, though it is by no means fierce, and does no mischief but to the chacras, or plantations, and might be of great service, on account of it's strength, if it could be brought to labour.
§ Note 88:23 (p. 154) “Anta” is a Spanish-Portuguese word derived from the Arabic Lamt, “antelope,” and was brought to America by the earliest explorers and settlers as anta, danta, and Amida, with variations of mis-pronounciation. In its various forms it was bestowed on the guanaco, the tapir, and occasionally deer. [more]
There are no wild horses in this country, but the tame ones bred here are superior, both in beauty and strength, to any in South America; enduring long journeys, without any other provision than what they pick up by the way; and in courage and swiftness they are exceeded by none. There is also plenty of small game, and the Indians, who are very numerous, live chiefly upon it. There are likewise considerable quantities of the occidental bezoar, found not only in the stomach of the guanacoes and vicunias, but also of the anta; though in this last it is somewhat coarser. When it is given in a considerably quantity, it greatly promotes a diaphoresis. I have almost always found it give relief and immediate ease in heartburns, faintings, &c. the dose consisting of a dram, or two scruples, taken in any thing; though it might be given in a larger quantity with great safety. I have found it preferable, in many cases, to our testaceous powders, and mineral substances. I have had some of these stones that weighed eighteen ounces each.
There are many species of the fowl kind, such as doves, turtles, ducks, pheasants, partidges, &c. which I mention, as profitable, though not regarded or used by the Indians. There are also birds of prey, as eagles, vultures, kites, gleads, owls, and falcons. But, so far to the south, there are neither lions nor tigers, except in the Cordillera.
The country of the Huilliches, over against the Tehuel Mapu, and to the south of Valdivia, is, according to the relations of the missionaries, a very poor country, and destitute of all the common necessaries of life; as indeed is all that seacoast below Chili, to the Magellanic Straits. The people of the coast live chiefly upon fish, and are distinguished by the names of Chonos, Poy-yus, and Key-yus. Of these two last nations, those who live farther from the coast hunt on foot, being very nimble, and inured to this exercise from their infancy. In Chiloe, great part of the provisions for the missionaries, and the garrison of Spanish soldiers, is sent from Valdivia, or other seaports of Chili.
In this island there is a small city, or rather village, called Castro; where a Spanish captain, or deputy governor, resides.
The mountains of the Huilliches are considerably lower than those towards the north, so that they are in this country passable at all times of the year, and besides have frequent openings. They are well covered with wood and even timber. There is a kind of tree peculiar to this country, which the Indians call lahual, and the Spaiards, alerce, or, according to our pronounciation, lawal and alersey. It was not very particularly described to me; but I take it to be of the fir kind. What is very remarkable in it, it it's convenience for being split into boards, it's trunk being naturally marked with straight lines from top to bottom; so that, bu cleaving it with wedges, it may be parted into very straight boards, of any thickness, in a better and smoother manner than if they were sawn. These trees are very large, as I have been informed; but I cannot pretend to say what is their general diameter.
If plants or seeds of this tree were brought over into England, it is very probable they would thrive here, the climate being as cold as in the countries where it grows; and it is there reckoned to be the most valuable timber they have, both for it's beauty and duration. It may not be improper to observe in this place, that by means of the rivers of Nahuelhuaupi, Sanquel, and Lolgen, great quantities of this wood, pine-trees, &c. might be sent down, in large floats, to the Great River of Sauces, and so to the Bay of San Matthias, for the building of ships, houses, &c.
The Huilliches have also a species of tobacco, which they bruise when almost green, and make into short, thick, cylindrical rools. It is of a dark-green colour, and when smoked yields a strong, disagreeable smell, something different from the Virginia tobacco. IT is very strong, and soon intoxicates; so that they hand the pipe from one to another, and each takes a whiff in his turn, as the continuing it for any length of time would disturb the senses.
The country of those Tehuelhets that live nearer and close up to the Straits, as the Sehuau-cunnees, and Yacana-cunees, is much the same as of the other Tehuelhets. They have within land some high woods, and a small shrub, which produces a fruit very like our winberries, but something hotter: they are good to eat, and very proper for the climate.
The Tierra del Fuego is composed of a great number of islands. Those to the west are small and low, full of marshes and fens, and mostly uninhabitable, being often covered with water; but those which are to the east are bigger, and higher land, with mountains and woods, and are inhabited by Indians of the Yacana-cunnees, and these have had frequent communication with the French and Spaniards, who went thither from the Malouin Islands to get wood. I cannot pretend to say, whether in these large islands there is any game, besides that of fowl: but it is highly credible, that the Indians who dwell there no not live entirely upon fish, which it is very difficult to take during the winter in these cold climates.
In the years 1765 or 1766 (I do not remember which) a Spanish ship, laden with merchandize for Peru, was driven ashore and beat to pieces upon the Island del Fuego, about fourteen leagues (as they reckoned) from the Straits mouth. The crew being saved, they made themselves a vessel, big enough to carry them and their provisions to Buenos-Ayres; where they informed the Governor, Don Pedro de Cevallos, that the Indians, natives of this island, were very humane and hospitable, and heled them to carry down many very heavy trees, which that had fallen for the building of their vessel, and assisted them in every thing: that they had been very liberal of their cargo to the Indians, who esteemed those things least which were of the greatest value, as silk, satin, tissues, &c. and were more desirous of the coarsest cloths, to keep them warm: that at first they came down in great numbers with their arms, bows and arrows, and that their manner of expressing a desire of friendship and peace was by laying down their arems, bowing their bodies, and then leaping up and rubbing their bellies, or beating on them with their hands. The Governor sent this account to the Court of Spain, and proposed the fixing a colony in this island; but the French being at that time tampering with the Spanish Court about the purchase of the Malouin Islands, the prudent designs of the Governor were frustrated, and he was recalled to his own country.
Tamu, the Yacana-cunnee Cacique, told me that they used a kind of float, with which they sometimes passed the Straits, and had communication with those of his nation: from whence it is evident, that this place has the conveniences of wood, water, and soil; and, if there could be found a tolerable harbour, it would be much more convenient for a colony, and have a better command of the passage to the South Sea, than Falkland's Islands.
The Malouin or Falkland's Islands are many in number; some are exceeding small; but there are two which are very large. What I shall relate concerning them is according to the accounts which I have received from many of the Spanish officers, who went to receive this country from the French, and to transport the Spaniards thither from Buenos-Ayres, as well as to carry away the French inhabitants; and also from a French gunner, who sailed with me from the River of Plata to the Port of Cadiz, and had resided in those islands several years. All thse were unexceptionable witnesses.
These islands are so low and boggy, that after a shower of rain it is impossible to stir out, without sinking up to the knees in mire. The houses are built with earth, and from the exceeding moistness of the country, are green within with moss; and bricks cannot be made for want of fuel. The settlers have sown various kinds of grain, as corn, barlye, pease, beans, &c. but the land is so barren, they they all run into grass and straw, and yield no crop. All the industry of the French, for several years, could only accomplish the raising a small quantity of salad; and this they effected by gathering the dung of all their animals; cows, hogs, and horses. The only animals which are natural to these islands are penguins and bustards, and these last are alone eatable. They are but indifferent food, are killed by shooting, and soon grew so shy, that they became very dear. Some fish are also taken, but in quantities by no means proportionable to the wants of the inhabitants. So great is the poverty of the country, that the Spanish Governor of Buenos-Ayres was obliged to be at the expense of sending ships every three of four months, to maintain the people and garrison, without any returns; and though live hogs, cows, and horse, have been carried thither, yet the country is so fold, so moist, and so barren of shelter, that they never increase; so that these chares must last as long as the settlement continues. There is no wood, and nothing that serves for fuel but a low shrub, something like our furze or heath, and this but in small quantities: the inhabitants therefore are obliged to send small vessels to fetch wood from Tierra del Fuego. Water is almost the only necessary this country affords, besides the convenience of a good harbour; which yet does not appear to answer the end for which the settlement was made: for as this Haven of Solidad lies open to the north or north east, a ship must have a wind from that quarter, to enter it. Now as such a wind is the most favourable for passing Cape Horn, a ship would harly enter here, and lose the favourable gale that would carry her into the South Sea; especially as she much wait for a contrary wind to get out again, and then for a north easterly wind to steer for Cape Horn; and all this in a place where there are no hopes of taking in any other provisions besides water.
The French sent people to these islands in the time of the last war, to secure a port for their ships coming from the East Indies by the South Sea; which course they took at that time, to escape the English privateers: but when the war was over, being tired of so wretched a colony, and so many expenses, which now ceased to answer, they determined to leave them. But being desirous (if possible) to recover the money laid out there, they represented their new acquisitions in so favourable a manner to the Spanish Court, that the King of Spain agreed to pay five hundred thousand dollars (some say eight hundred thousand, and others enlarge the sum to a million) for their ceding them to Spain: whereof the King of France was to receive a part, and the rest to go to Monsieru Bougainville the proprietor; besides some cargoes of good, bought with this money in Rio Janeiro, permitted to be sold in Buenos-Ayres. All this the captain of a Spanish frigate represented, with a great deal of freedom, to the present Governor of Buenos-Ayres, in the presence of Monsieur Bougainville; complaining of the trick put upon the King of Spain, and protesting that no person, commissioned to receive these islands, could, consistently with the loyalty he owed his Sovereign, or his obligations as a Christian, upon seeing them, accept the delivery, till he had fist given an account of them to the Court of Spain; it being evident that they had ben grossly imposed upon. Monsieur Bougainville did not think proper to contradict what this officer had said; who, besides being an unexceptionable eye-witness himself, could (if necessary) have corroborated his account by the testimonies of a hundred people, who were lately arrived with the exportation of the French inhabitants.
The Spaniards transported with their colony two Franciscan friars, and a governor or vice-governor; who, beholding their settlement, were overwhelmed with grief; and the Governor, Colonel Catani, at the departure of the ships for Buenos-Ayres, with tears in his eyes declared, that he thought those happy who got from so miserable a country, and that he himself should be very glad if he was permitted to throw up his commission, and return to Buenos-Ayres, though in no higher station than that of a cabin-boy.
An Account of the Inhabitants of the most southern Part of America,
described in the Map.
The nations of Indians, which inhabit these parts, bear among themselves the general denominations of Moluches and Puelches.
The Moluches are known among the Spaniards by the names of Aucaes and Araucanos.
The former of these is a nick-name, and a word of reproach, meaning rebel, wilde, favage, or bantitti; the word aucani signifying to rebel, fise, or make a riot, and is applied both to men and beasts, as auca cahual is a wild horse, aucatun, or aucatuln, to make an uproard.
They call themselves Moluches, from the word molun, to wage war; and moluche signifies a warriour. They are dispersed over thecountry both on the east and west sides of the Cordillera of Chili, from the confines of Peru to the Straits of Magellan, and may be divided into the different nations of the picunches, Pehuenches, and Huilliches.
The Picunches are the most northern of these people, and are so called from picun, which in their language sifnifies north, and che, men or people. They inhabit the mountains, from Coquimbo to somewhat lower than St. Jago of Chili. These are the most valiant and the biggest-bodied men of all the Moluches; especially those to the west of the Cordillera: among which are those of Penco, Tucapel, and Arauco; from which last, the Spaniards by mistake gave the name of Araucanos to all the rest of the Indians of Chili. Those who live to the east of the Cordillera reach something lower than Mendoza, and are called by those on the other side Puelches, puel signifying east. But by others who live towards the south, they are called Picunches. I knew some of the Caciques; whose names were Tseucan-antu, Pilque-pangi, Caru-pangi, and Caru-lonco.
The Pehuenches border on the Picunches to the north, and reach from over against Valdivia to thirty five degrees of south latitude. They derive their name from the word pehuen, which sifnifies pine-tree; because their coutry abounds with these trees. As they live to the south of the Picunches, they are sometimes called by them Huilliches, or Southern People, but most generally Pehuenches. Their Caciques were Colopichun, Amolepi, Nonque, Nicolasquen, Guenulep, Cufu-huanque, Col-nancon, Ayalep and Antu-cule. The last was a young Cacique, whom I knew very well.
These two nations were formerly very numerous, and were engaged in long and bloody wars with the Spaniards, whom they almost drove out of Chili, destroyed the cities of the Imperial, Osorno, and Villarica, and killed two of their presidents, Valdivia, and Don Martin de Loyola; but they are now so much diminished, as not to be able to muster four thousand men among them all. This has been is some measure owing to their frequent wars with the Spaniards of Chili, Mendoza, Cordova, and Buenos-Ayres, with their neighbours the Puelches, and with one another. But what has made the greatest havoc amongst them, is the brandy which they buy of the Spaniards, and their pulcu, or chicha, which they make themselves. They often pawn and sell their wives and children to the Spaniards for Brandy, with which they get drun,, and then kill one another; and it seldom happens that the party who has sufferred most on these occasions waits long for an opportunity of revenge. The small pox also, which was introduced into this country by the Europeans, causes a more terrible destruction among them than the plague, desolating whole towns by it's malignant effects. This disorder is much more fatal to these people, then to the Spaniards or Negroes, owing to their gross habit of body, bad food, and want of covering, medicines, and necessary care: for the nearest relations of those who fall sick fly from them, to avoid the distemper, and leave them to perish, perhaps in the middle of a desart. About forty five years ago, the numerous nation of the Chechehets, having caught this disorder in the neighbourhood of Buenos-Ayres, endeavoured to fly from it, by retiring into their own country, which was about two hundred leagues distant, through vast desarts. During this journey they daily left behind them their sick friends and relations, forsaken and alone, with no other assistance than a hide reared up against the wind, and a pitcher of water. Thus they have been brought so low, that they have not more than three hundred men capable of bearing arms.
The Huilliches, or Southern Moluches, reach from Valdivia to the Straits of magellan. They are divided into four distinct tribes or nations. The first of these reaches to the Sea of Chiloe, and beyond the Lake of Nahuelhuaupi, and speak the Chilenian tongue. The second nation are the Chonos, who live on and near the islands of Chiloe. The third nation is called Poy-yus, or Peyes, and inhabites the seacoast from forty eight to a little more than fifty one degrees of south latitude: and from thence to the Straits live the fourth nation, called the Key-yos, or Keyes. These last three nations are known by the name of Vuta Huilliches, or Great Huilliches, because they are bigger-bodied men than the fist, who are called Pichi Huilliches, or Little Huilliches. They seem likewise to be a different people; as the language they speak is a mixture of the Moluche and Tehuel languages. The other Huilliches, and the Pehuenches, speak in the same manner with one another, and differ only from the Picunches in using the letter S instead of R and D, not having these two letters in their alphabet: and the Picunches, having no S, use R and D instead of it; and oftentimes T, where the others use CH; as domo, for somo, a woman; huaranca, for huasanca, a thousand; vuta, for cuvha, great. These nations are numerous, especially the Vuta Huilliches. The Caciques of the first, or Pichi Huilliches, were Puelman, Painiacal, Tepuanca; whom I have seen; with many others, whose names I have forgotten.
The Puelches, or Eastern People (so called by those of Chili because they live to the east of them) are bounded on the west by the Moluches, down to the Straits of Magellan; by which they are terminated on the south; on the north, by the Spaniards of Mendoza, San Juan, San Louis de la Punta, Cordova, and Buenos-Ayres; and to the east, by the ocean. They bear different denominations, according to the situation of their respective countries, or because they were originally of different nations. Those towards the north are called Taluhets; to the west and south of these are the Diuihets; to the south east, the Chechehets; and to the south of these last is the country of the Tehuelhets, or, in their proper language, Tehuel-Kunny, I. e. Southern Men.
The Taluhets border to the west on the Picunches, and dwell on the east side of the First Desaguadero, as far as the lakes of Guanachche, in the jurisidctions of St. Juan and St. Louis de la Punta, scattered in small troops, and seldom fixed to one place. There are also some few of them in the jurisdiction of Cordova, on the Rivers Quarto, Tercero, and Segundo; but the greater part are either destroyed by their wars with the other Puelches and the Mocovies, or have taken refuge with the Spaniards. There were formerly some of this nation in the district of Buenos-Ayres, on the rivers of Lujan and Conchas, and that of the Matanza; but that are now no more. Their Caciques were Mugeloop, Alcochoro, Galelian, and Mayu.
Of this nation so few remain at present, that they are scarce able to raise two hundred fighting men, and only make a kind of piratical war in small parties, except when they are assisted by their neighbours, the Picunches, Pehuenches, and Diuihets; and, even with all their auxiliaries, cannot bring into the field above five hundred men at the most, and seldom so many. This nation, and that of the Diuihets, are known to the Spaniards by the name of Pampas.
The Diuihets border westwardly upon the country of the Pehuenches, from thirty five to thirty eight degrees of southern latitude, and extend, along the rivers Sanquel, Colorado, and Hueyque, to within about forty miles of the Casuhati on the east. They are of the same wandering disposition with the Taluhets, and are not much more numerous, having been greatly destroyed in their attempts to plunder the Spaniards; sometimes taking part with the Taluhets, at other times wit the Pehuenches, and frequently making their excursions alone, on the frontiers of the mountains of Cordova and Buenos-Ayres, from the Arrecife to Lujan; killing the men, taking the women and childred for slaves, and driving away the cattle. The Caciques of this nation, were Concalcac, Pichivele, Yahati, and Doenoyal.
These two nations subsist chiefly on the flesh of mares, which they hunt, in small companies of about thirty or forty each, in the vase plains between Mendoza and Buenos-Ayres; where they often meet with large troops of Spaniards, sent out on purpose, who execute the laws of retaliation with at least equal cruelty. But this is not the only danger which they run the risk of: for it the Tehuelhets, or Chechehets, have reached the Casuhati, or the Vuulan and Tandil, at the time when the Diuihets and Taluhets are about to retire with their booty, they continue to fall on them in their retreat (particularly in places where the length of the march obliges them to halt for some time to rest their cattle) kill all the resist, strip the rest of every thing, and carry away the plunder.
The country of the Chechehets, or People of the East, lies properly between the River Hueyque and the First Desaguadero, or River Colorado, and from thence to the Second Desaguadero, or Black River; but they are perpetually wandering about, and move their habitations, and separate, for the most trifling motices, and oftentimes from no other reason, but their natural propensity to roving. Their country abounds only in the lesser kinds of game, as hares, armadilloes, ostriches, &c. producing few or no guanacoes. When they go up to the mountains of the Tandil and the Casuhati, on account of the scarcity of horses, they are so very unskilful in hunting, &c. that they never bring back any on their return, unless their neighbours the Tehuelhets give them some, or they have the good fortune to surprise some of the parties of the Pehuenches, who generally return well provided. In other respects, they are a poor, harmless, and sincere people, and more honest than the Moluches or the Taluhets. They are very superstitious, extremely addicted to divination and witchcraft, and are easily deceived. They are in general a tell, stout race of people, like their neighbours the Tehuelhets; but they speak a different language. Although they are mild and humble in peace, they are bold and brave in war, as the Taluhets and Diuihets have often found to their cost; but now they are reduced to a very small number, having been destroyed by the small pox. Their surviving Caciques were Sejechu and Daychaco.
The Tehuelhets, who in Europe are know by the name of Patagons, have been, through ignorance of their idiom, called Tehuelchus; for chu signifies country of abode, and not people; which is expressed by the word het, and, more to the south, by the word kunnee or kunny. These and the Chechehets are known to the Spaniards by the name of Serranos, or Mountaineers. They are split into a great many subdivisions, as the Leuvuches, or People of the River, and Calille-Het, or People of the Mountains; amongst whom are the Chulilau-cunnees, Sehuau-cunnees, and Yacana-cunnees. All these, except those of the River, are called by the Moluches, Vucha-Huilliches.
The Leuvuches live on the north and south baks of the River Negro, or, as they call it, Fusu Leuvu. To the north they have a large, uninhabited country, which is quite impassablefrom thick woods and lakes, and marshes, which are full of thorny, strong canes, which they call sanquel. Thus all communication is shut up from the north, but by marching westward, by the foot of the Cordillera, or eastward, by the seacoast. This people seem to be composed of the Tehuelhets and Chechehets, but speak the language of the latter, with a small mixture of the Tehuel tongue. On the eastern side, they reach to the Chechehets; on the western, they join to the Pehuenches and Huilliches; to the north, they border on the Diuihets; and, to the south, on the other Teheulhets. Going round the great Lake Huechun Lavquen, they reach Valdivia in six days journey from Hhichin. This nation seem to be the head of the Chechehets and Tehuelhets, and their Caciques, Cacapol and his son Cangapol, are a kind of petty monarches over all the rest. When they declare war, they are immdiately joined by the Chechehets, Tehuelhets, and Huilliches, and by those Pehuenches who live most to the south, a little lower then Valdivia.
Of themselves they are but few in number, it being with the greatest difficulty that they are able to raise three hundred fighting men, having been greatly lessened by the small pox which reduced the Chechehets: for, having joined that nation, they came to the plains of Buenos-Ayres in great numbers, and attacked the famour Don Gregorio Mayu Pilqui Ya, upon the Lake of the Lobos, with a strong party of Taluhets; all of whom they cut off, and then retreated to the Vuulcan: but unfortunately they carried away with them some cloaths, which a short time before had been bought at Buenos-Ayres, and were tainted with t he small pox. They have likewise been very much diminished in their wars with their northern neighbors, the Picunches, Pehuenches, and Taluhets; who, combing together, sometimes come down upon them by the side of the Cordillera and surprise them. Whenever this happens, they avoid their enemies by swimming across the river, which the others are not able to do. But the children, which in the hurry and confusion of flight are left behind, fall a prey to the inhuman enemy; who cruelly butcher all they find, not sparing even those who hang up in their cradles. These attacks however are not always so secret, but that they sometimes have advice of them, and then few escape the fury of this brave nation; and their Cacique Cacapol shews to his guests great heaps of bones, skulls, &c. of these enemies, whom he boasts to have slain. The policy of this Cacique is to maintain peace with the Spaniards, that his people may hunt with security in the vast plains of Buenos-Ayres, between the frontiers of the Matanza, Conchas, and Magdelena, and the mountains: for which reason he does not suffer the other tribes to come down lower than Lujan, to maintain peace on the southern side. Wherefore his Caciques and confederates, in the months of July, August, and September, place themselves to hunt, where they may watch the motions of their enemies; whom they often attack and destroy. On this account these Indians never made war upon the Spaniards (though extremely jealous of them) till about 1738 or 1740; when the causes of the dispute were as follows.
The Spaniards, very injudiciously, and indeed ungratefully, drove Mayu Pilqui-Ya, the only Taluhet Cacique who was their friend, to his destruction, by forcing him to retire to a distance, exposed to the enemies which he had gained by defending their territories from the rest of his countrymen and the Picunches, and too far off to receive any succours from themselves. After the death of this Cacique, a party of Taluhets and Picunches attacked the farms of the Rivers Areco and Arefife, let on by Tseucanantu and Carulonco; and the Spaniards, with their Maestre de Campo, Don Juan de St. Martin, being too late to overtake the robbers, turned to the southward, that they might not return empty-handed. Here they met with the tents of the old Caleliyan, with one helf of his people, who, entirely ignorant of what had happened, were sleeping without suspicion of danger. without examining if these were the aggressors, they fired upon them while they lay asleep in their tents, and killed many of them, with their wives and children. The rest, being awakend, and beholding the sad spectacle of teeir slaughtered wives and children, were resolved not to survive the loss of them, and snatching up their arms, sold their lives as dearly as they could; but, in the end, they and their Cacique were all put to the sword.
The young Caleliyan was at that time absent, but having notice of what had happened, returned upon the retreat of the Spaniards, and beholding the slaughter of his father, relations, and friends, resolved on immediate vengeance; and raising about three hundred men, among his countrymen and the Picunches, fell upon the village of Lujan, killed a great number of Spaniards, took some captives, and drove away some thousands of cattle. Upon this, the Spaniards raised about six hundred of their militia, and a troop of regulars, with all expedition, but not soon enough for so swift an enemy. Not being able to overtake him, they turned round by the salt ponds, and fell down to the Casuhati, where the Cacigue Cangapol was at that time, with a few Indians, who prudently retired. Being disapplinted here, they returned by the sea side, towards the Vuulcan, where they met a troop of Huilliches; who, being friends and at peace, went without arms to receive them, not having the least suspicion of any danger; but by the order of the Maestre del Campo they were surrounded and cut in pieces, although the military officer of the troop remonstrated against such a proceeding, and interceded in their behalf. Having performed this exploit, they marched to Salado, not above forty leagues from the city, and about twenty from the farms of Buenos-Ayres; where a Tehuel Cacique, called Tolmichi-ya, cousin to Cacapol, and the friend and ally of the Spaniards, and much respected by them, was encamped, under the protection of the then Governor Salcedo. This Cacique, with the Governor's letter in his hand, and shewing his license, was shot through the head by the Maestre del Campo; all the Indian men were killed, and the women and children made captives, with the youngest son of the Cacique, a boy of about twelve years of age. His eldest son very fortunately was gone out two days before, to hunt wild horses, with a party of Indians.
This cruel conduct of the Maestre del Campo so exasperated all the Indian nations of Puelches and Moluches, that they all took arms against the Spaniards; who found themselves attaced at once, from the frontiers of Cordova and Santa Fe, down the whole length of the River of Plate, on a frontier of a hundred leagues; and in such a manner, that it was impossible to defend themselves: for the Indians, in small flying parties, falling on many villages or farms at the same time, and generally by moon-light, it was impossible to tell the numbers of their parties; so that while the Spaniards pursued them in great numbers on one part, they left all the rest unguarded.
Cacapol, who, with his Tehuelhets, as yet had lived in friendship with the Spaniards, was highly irritated at the attempt made on his son, the slaughter of his friends the Huilliches, the murder of his best-beloved kinsman and other relations, and the unworthy manner in which their dead bodies had been treated; and though he was at that time nearly seventy years of age, he took the field at the head of a thousand men (some say four thousand) consisting of Tehuelhets, Huilliches, and Pehuenches, and fell upon the District of the Magdalen, about four leagues distant from Buenos-Ayres, and divided his troops with so much judgment, that he scoured and dispeopled, in one day and a night, above twelve leagues of the most populous and plentiful country in thse parts. They killed many Spaniards, and took a great number of women and children captives, with above twenty thousand head of cattle, besides horses, &c. In this expedition the Indians lost only one Tehuelhet, who, straggling from the rest in hopes of plunder, fell into the hands of the Spaniards. Cangapol, the son of Cacapol, was pursued and overtaken; but the Spaniards had not the courage to attack him, though at that time double in number, both they and their horses being quite tired with their expeditious march of forty leagues, without taking any refreshment.
The inhabitants of Buenos-Ayres, having early notice from the fugitives of this unexpected attack, were in the most terrible consternation; many of the military officers ran about the streets bare-headed, in a state of distraction, and the churches and religious houses were filled with people, who had taken shelter in them, as if the enemy had been in the city. The Spaniards, humbled by this blow, deprived the Field-Marshal of his commission, and appointed another, and then raised an army of seven hundred men; which marched to the Casuhati, not to renew the war, but to sue for peace. A whole year had now elspsed since their last defeat, and the Indians, with the young Cacique Cangapol at their head, had raised another army, from all the different nations, consisting of near four thousand men; with which they might have cut all the Spaniards in pieces: yet, notwithstanding their advantages, they listened to the proposal of the new Field-Marshal, whom they considered as their friend; who, fearul of the consequences which might attend a fresh rupture, offered, among other conditions, to deliver up all the Indian captives without any consideration whatsoever, and that the Spanish captives should be ransomed. The indignity of this condition was strongly represtnted by the Jesuit Missionary, who, with some of his Chechehet and Tehuel Converts, went with the Spanish camp, and by whose means chiefly the Indians were prevailed upon to spare the Spanish army. He proposed that there should be a mutual exchange of prisoners; but so great was the fear of another war, that his advice was rejected, though many of the Indians did not desire more honourable conditions. Some Tehuel Caciques, who had brought their captives along with them, immediately delivered them up, on making peace, not understanding the proposal of the Field-Marshal in any other light, than that the delivery of prisoners was to be reciprocal. The Moluches indeed went to Buenos-Ayres, and recovered all the Indian prisoners, as well as those of the Tehuelhets, without returning the captives they had taken from the Spaniards. Since this time, the Tehuelhets, allured by the hopes of plunder, have once a year made incursions into the territory of Buenos-Ayres, and carried away great numbers of cattle. However this was the utmost damage they ever did, till the year 1767; when, having received some provication, they renewed the war, and carried away many captives; and of two parties of Spaniards who pursued them ten only escaped. A greater body of troops, with all the militia of Buenos-Ayres, and some companies of regulars, with their Colonel Catani, afterwards overtook them, but thought it prudent to let them go unmolested, for fear of sharing the fate of their companions.
The Tehuelhets that border all along, from east to west, on those of the River of Sauces, are bounded on the north east by the Chechehets, and on the east by a vast desart, which begins at about forty leagues from the mouth of the Black River towards the south, and extends almost to the Straits of Magellan. To the westward, they border on the Huilliches who inhabit the seacoasts of Chiloe, and extend to forty four degrees of southern latitude. All their country is mountainous, with deep vallies, and has no considerable rivers. The natives are supplied with water from springs and small rivulets, which end in lakes, where they water their cattle. In dry summers these lakes are empty, and then they are obliged to go for water to the Black River or elsewhere. This nation neither sow nor plant, but live chiefly on guanacoes, hares, and ostriches, which their country affords, and on mares flesh, when they can get it.
The scarcity of this food occasions them to be in perpetual motion, from one country to another, to seek for it: so that they go, in great numbers, sometimes to the Casuhati; at other times, to the mountains of Vuulcan or Tandil, and the plains near Buenos-Ayres; which is three or four hundred leagues from their own country. Of all nations upon earth, there is no account of any so restless, and who have such a disposition to roving as these people: for neither extreme old-age, blindness, nor any other distemper, prevents them from indulging this inclination to wander. They are a very strong, well-made people, and not so tawny as the other Indians: some of their women are even as white at the Spaniards. They are courteous, obliging, and good-natured; but very inconstant, and not to be relied on in their promises and engagements. They are stout, warlike, and fearless of death. They are by much the most numerous of all the Indian nations of these parts, and are as many as ll the rest put together. They are the enemies of the Moluches, and extremely feared by them; and if they had been as well provided with horses as the Moluches, the latter, who are so terrible to the Spaniards, would have been long since destroyed; nor would the Diuihets and Taluhets have been ablt to have withstood their power.
To the south of these live the Chulilau-cunnees and Sehuau-cunnees, which are the most southern Indians who ride on horseback. Schuau signifies, in the Tehuel dialect, a species of black rabbit, about the size of a field-rat; and as their country abounds in these animals, their name may be derived from thence; cunnee signifying people.
The two last-mentioned nations appear to be the same people with the other Tehuelhets, and differ little in their idiom. The small difference there is may be owing to the communication they have with the Poy-yus and Key-yus, who live upon the Western coast and the straits.
All the Tehuelhets speak a different language from the other Puelches and the Moluches, and this difference does not only include words, but also the declinations and conjugations of them; though the yuse some of the words of both nations. For example, for a mountain they say calille; the Moluches, falel; but the Puelches, casu. Pichua is the Tehuel name for a guanaco, but has no likeness to luhuan, or huanque, in the Molu tongue: nor yagit, water, to co: nor yagiu, watering-place, to cohue; nor cunnee, people, to che or het. I am inclned to thing that these nations of Tehuelhets are those which the Missionaries of Chili have called Poy-yus, as they live in the situation which they place the Poy-yus: but the truth is that the Poy-yus live nearer the seacoast.
The last of the Tehuel nations are the Yacana-cunnees, which signifies foot-people; for they always travel on foot, having no horses in their country. To the north, they border on the Sehuau-cunnees; to the west, on the Key-yus, or Key-yuhues, from whom they are divided by a ridge of mountains: to the east, they are bounded by the ocean; and to the south, by the islands of Tierra del Fuego, or the South Sea. These Indians live near the sea, on both sides of the straits, and oftentimes make war with one another. They make use of light floats, like those of Chiloe, in order to pass the straits. They are sometimes attacked by the Huilliches, and the other Tehuelhets, who carry them away for slaves, as they have nothing to lose but their liberty and their lives. They live chiefly on fish; which they catch, either by diving, or striking them with their darts. They are very nimble of foot, and catch guanacoes and ostriches with their bowls. Their stature is much the same as that of the other Tehuelhets, rarely exceeding seven feet, and oftentimes not six feet. They are an innocent, harmless people.
When the French or Spaniards go (as they frequently do) to the Tierra del Fuego, to get fuel for the Malouin settlements, these people give them all the assistance in their power. To invite them down, they always make use of a white flag, that they may be known; for such impressions have they received of the English, that on seeing a red flag they always run away. The French and Spaniards attribute this to some English vessels having fired some great guns; the report of which, they suppose, frightened the Indians to such a degree, that they never dared to appear since, on seeing the red colours. This may have been the case; but it is certain many artifices have been made use of, to prevent their having any communication with the English. A cacique of this nation, who came with the other Tehuelhets to pay me a visit, told me that he had been in a house of wood, that travelled on the water. As this was told me a few years after Admiral Anson passed to the South Sea, I concluded it might be one of the ships belonging to his squadron.
All these nations of the Tehuelhets are called, by the Moluches, Vucha-Huilliches, or Great Southern People: the Spaniards call them Mountaineers, though they are ignorant from whence they come. To the rest of Europe they are known as Patagonians.§
§ In the Notes at the end of the book, the editor of the 1935 reprint edition states that in Europe they are known as Patagons.
As I mentioned in the introduction, I have seen Caciques of all the different nations of Indians inhabiting the southern part of America, and observed that the Puelches, or Eastern Indians, were a large race of people, and several of them near seven feet six inches high: but these are not a distinct race; for I have seen others, of the same family, who were not above six feet high. The Moluches, or Western Indians, who live among the mountains, are rather of low stature, but broad and thick-set. The inhabitants of the foggy mountains of the Cordillera are often guilty of suicide; a crime seldom heard of among the Eastern Indians.
The names of their Caciques which I knew, were Cacapol, Cangapol, Yampalco, Tolmichiya, Guelmen, Sausimiyan, Yepelche, Marique, Chuyuentuya, Guerquen, Clusgell, Millarfuel, and Tamu.
The report that there is a nation in these parts descended from Europeans, or the remains of shipwrecks, is, I verily believe, entirely false and groundless, and occasioned by misunderstanding the accounts of Indians. For if they are asked in Chili concerning any inland settlement of Spaniards, they give an account of towns and white people, meaning Buenos-Ayres, &c. and so vice versa; not having the least idea, that the inhabitants of thse two distant countries are known to each other. Upon my questioning the Indians on this subject, I found my conjecture to be right; and they acknowledged, upon my naming Chiloe, Valdivia, &c. (at which they seemed amazed) that those were the places they had mentioned under the description of European settlements.
What further makes this settlement of the Cæsares to be altogether incredible, is the moral impossibility that even two or three hundred Europeans, almost all men, without having any communication with a civilized country, could penetrate through so many warlike and numerous nations, and maintain themselves as a separate republic, in a country which produces nothing spontaneously, and where the inhabitants live only by hunting; and all this for the space of two hundred years (as the story is told) without being exctirpated, either by being killed, or made slaves by the Indians, or without losing all European appearances by intermarrying with them. And besides, there is not a foot of all this continent, that the wandering nations do not ramble over every year; for even the uninhabited desart, which is washed by the Atlantic Ocean, is travelled over every year, to bury the dry bones of the dead, and to look for salt. Their Caciques, and others of the greatest repute for truth among them, have often protested to me, that there are no white people in all those parts, except those which are known to all Europe; as in Chili, Buenos-Ayres, Chiloe, Mendoza, &c.
The Religion, Government, Policy, and Customs, of the Moluches and Puelches.
These Indians believe in two superior beings, the one good, the other evil. The good power is called by the Moluches Toquichen, which signifies governor of the people; by the Taluhets and Diuihets, Soychu, which, in their tongue, signifies the being who presides in the land of strong drink: the Tehuelhets call him Guayava-cunnee, or the lord of the dead.
They have formed a multiplicity of these deities; each of whom they believe to preside over one particular cast or family of Indians, of which he is supposed to have been the creator. Some make themselves of the cast of the tiger, some of the lion, some of the guanaco, and others of the ostrich, &c. They image that these deities have each their separate habitations, in vast caverns under the earth, beneath some like, hill, &c. and that when an Indian dies, his soul goes to live with the deity who presides over his particular family, there to enjoy the happiness of being eternally drunk.
They believe that their good deities made the world, and that they first created the Indians in their caves, gave them the lance, the bow and arrows, and the stone-bowls, to fight and hunt with, and then turned them out to shift for themselves. They imagine that the deities of the Spaniards did the same by them, but that instead of lances, bows, &c. they gave them guns and swords. They suppose that when the beasts, birds, and lesser animals were created, those of the more nimble kind came immediately out of their caves, but that the bulls and cows being the last, the Indians were so frightened at the sight of their horns, that they stopped up the entrance of their caves with great stones. This is the reason they give, why that had no black cattle in their country, till the Spaniards brought them over, who more wisely had let them out of the caves.
They have formed a belief that some of them after death are to return to these divine caverns; and they say also that the stars are old Indians, that the milky way is the field where the old Indians hunt ostriches, and that the two southern clouds are the feathers of the ostriches which they kill. They have an opinion also that the creation is not yet exhausted, not all of it come out to the daylight of this upper world.
Their wizards, beating their drums, and rattling their calabashes full of sea-shells, pretent to see, under ground, men, cattle, &c. with shops of rum, brandy, cascabels, and a variety of other things. But I am very well assured that they do not all of them believe this nonsense: for the Tehuel Cacique, Chehuentuya, came to me one morning, with an account of a new discovery, made by one of their wizards, of one of these subterraneous countries, which was under the place where he lived; and upon my laughat at, and exposing their simplicity, in being imposed upon by such fables and foolish stories, he answered with scorn, Epueungeing'n, They are old women's tales.
The Evil Principle is called by the Moluches Huecuvoe, or Huecuvu, that is, the Wanderer without. The Tehuelhets and Chechehets call him Atfkannakanatz; the other Puelches call him Valichu.
They acknowledge a great number of this kind of demons, wandering about the world, and attribute to them all the evil that is done in it, whether to man or beast; and they carry this opinion so far, as to believe that these unpropitious powers occasion the weariness and fatigue which attends long journeys or hard labour. Each of their wizards is supposed to have two of these demons in constant attendance, who enable them to foretel future events; to discover what is passing, at the time present, at a great distance; and to cure the sick, by fighting, driving away, or appeasing, the other demons who torment them. They believe that the souls of their wizards, after death, are of the number of these demons.
Their worship is entirely directed to the evil being, except in some particular ceremonies made use of in reverence to the dead. To perform their worship, they assemble together in the tent of the wizard; who is shut up from the sight of the rest, in a corner of the tent. In this apartment, he has a small drum, one or two round calabashes with small sea-shells in them, and some square bags of painted hide, in which he keeps his spells. He begins the ceremony, but making a strange noise with his drum and rattle-box; after which he feigns a fit, or struggle with the eevil, who it is then supposed has entered into him; keeps his eyes lifted up, distorts the features of his face, foams at the mouth, screws up his joings, and, after many violent and distorting motions, remains still and motionless, resembling a man seized with an epilepsy. After some time he comes to himself, as having got the better of the demon; next feigns, within his tabernacle, a faint, shrill, mournful voice, as of the evil spirit, who, by this dismal cry, is supposed to acknowledge himself subdued; and then, from a kind of tripod, answers all question that are put to him. Whether his answer be true of false is of no great signification; because if his intelligence should prove false, it is the fault of the devil. On all thse occasions the wizard is well paid.
The profession of the wizards is very dangerous, notwithstanding the respect which is sometimes paid to them: for it often happens, when an Indian chief dies, that some of the wizards are killed; especially if they had any dispute with the deceased just before his death; the Indians, in this case, laying the loss of their Chief upon the wizards and their demons. In cases also of pestilence and epidemic disorders, when great numbers are carried off, the wizards often sugger. On account of the smallpox, which happened after the death of Mayu Pilqui-ya and his people, and almost entirely destroyed the Chechehets, Cangapol ordered all the wizards to be killed, to see if by these means the distemper would cease.
The wizards are of both sexes. The male wizards are obliged (as it were) to leave their sex, and to dress themselves in female apparel, and are not permitted to marry, though the famale ones or witches may. They are generally chosed for this office when they are children, and a preference is always shown to those, who at that early time of life discover an effeminate disposition. They are cloathed very early in female attire, and presented with the drum and rattles belonging to the profession they are to follow.
They who are seized with fits of the falling sickness, or the chorea Sancti Viti, are immediately selected for this employment, as chosen by the demons themselves; whom they suppose to possess them, and to cause all those convulsions and distortions in epileptic paroxysms.
The burial of their dead, and the superstitious reverence paid to their memory, are attended with great ceremony. When an Indian dies, one of the most distinguished women among them is immediately chosen, to make a skeleton of his body; which is done, by cutting out the entrails, which they burn to ashes, dissecting the flesh from the bones as clean as possible, and then burying them under ground, till the remaining flesh is entirely rotted off, or till they are removed (which must be within a year after the interment, but is sometimes within two months) to the proper burial place of their ancestors.
This custom is strictly observed by the Moluches, Talhuets, and Diuihets; but the Chechehets and Tehuelhets, or Patagonians, place the bones on high, upon canes or twigs woven together, to dry and whiten with the sun and rain.
During the time that the ceremony of making the skeleton lasts, the Indians, covered with long mantles of skins, and their faces blackened with soot, walk round the tent, with long poles or lances in their hands; singing in a mournful tone of voice, and striking the ground, to frighten away the Valichus or Evil Beings. Some go to visit and console the widow, or widows, and other relations of the dead; that is, if there is any thing to be got; for nothing is done, but with a view of interest. During this visit of condolance, they cry, howl, and sing, in the most dismal manner; straining out tears, and pricking their arms and thighs with sharp thorns, to make them bleed. For this show of grief they are paid with glass beads, brass cascabels, and such like bawbles, wihich are in high estimation among them. The horses of the dead are also immediately killed, that he may have wherewithal to ride upon in the Alhue Mapu, or Country of the Dead; reserving only a few, to grave the last funeral pomp, and to carry the relicks to their proper sepulchres.
The widow, or widows, of the dead, are obliged to mourn and fast for a whole year after the death of their husband. This consists, in keeping themselves close shut up in their tents, without having communication with any one, or stirring out, but for the common necessaries of life; in not washing their faces or hands, but being blackened wit soot, and having their garments of a mournful appearance; in abstaining from horse's and cow's flesh, and, within-land, where they are plenty, from the flesh of ostriches and guanacoes; but they may eat any thing else. During the year of mourning they are forbidden to marry, and if, within this time, a widow is discovered to have had any communication with a man, the relations of the dead husband will kill them both; unless it appears that she has been violated. But I did not discover that the men were obliged to any such kind of mourning on the death of their wives.
When they remove the bones of their dead, they pack them up together in a hide, and place them upon one of the deceased's favourite horses, kept alive for that purpose; which they adorn after their best fashion, with mantles, feathers, &c. and travel in this manner, though it be to the distance of three hundred leagues, till they arrive at the proper burial-place, where they perform the last ceremony.
The Moluches, Taluhets, and Diuihets, bury their dead in large square pits, about a fathom deep. The bones are put together, and secured by tying each in their proper place, then cloathed with the best robes they can get, adorned with beads, plumes, &c. all of which they cleanse or change once a year. They are placed in a row, sitting, with the sword, lance, bow and arrows, bowls, and whatever else the deceased had while alive. These pits are covered over with beams or trees, canes, or twigs woven together, upon which they put earth. An old matron is shosen out of each tribe, to take care of these graves, and on account of her employment is held in great veneration. Her office is, to open every year these dreary habitations, and to cloath and clean the skeletons. Besides all this, they every year pour upon these graves some bowls of their first-made chica, and drink some of it themselves to the good health of the dead. These buring places are, in general, not far distant from their ordinary habitations; and they place all around the bodies of their dead horses, raised upon their feet, and supported with sticks.
The Tehuelhets, or more southern Patagaonians, differ in some respects from the other Indians. After having dried the bones of their dead, they carry them to a great distance from their habitations, into the desert by the seacoast, and after placing them in their proper form, and adorning them in the manner before described, they set them in order above ground, under a hut or tent, erected for that purpose, with the skeletons of their dead horses placed around them.
In the expedition of the year 1746, some Spanish soldiers, with one of the missionaries, travelling about thirty leagues within-land, to the west of Port San Julian, found one of these Indian sepulchres, containing three skeletons, and having as many dead horses propped up round it.
It is not an easy matter to trace any regular form of government, or civil constitution, among these Indians: what little they have, seems to consist in a small degree of subjection to their Cacigues. The office of a Cacique is hereditary, not eletive; and all the sons of a Cacique have a right to assume the dignity, if they can get any Indians to follow them; but, on account of the little use it is of to it's possessors, it is oftentimes resigned.
The Cacique has the power of protecting as many as apply to him, of composing or silencing any difference, or delivering over the offending part to be punished with death, without being accountable for it; for in these respects his will is the law. He is generally too apt to take bribes; delivering up his vassals, and even his relations, when well paid for it. According to his orders, the Indians encamp, march, or travl from one place to another, to settle, hunt, or make war. He frequently summons them to his tent, and harangues them upon their behavious, the exigencies of the time, the injuries they have received, the measures to be taken, &c. In these harangues, he always extols his own prowess and personal merit. When he is elequent, he is greatly esteemed; and when a Cacique is not endowed with that acoomplishment, he generally has an orator, who supplies his place. In case of importance, especially those of war, he calls a council of the principal Indians and wizards; with whom he consults about the measures to be taken, to defend himself, or attack his enemies.
In a general war, when many nations enter into an alliance against a common enemy, they choose an Apo, or commander in Chief, from among the oldest or most celebrated of the Caciques. But this honour, though elective, has for many years been in a manner hereditary, among those of the south, in the family of Cangapol; who leads the Tehuelhets, Chechehets, Huilliches, Pehuenches, and Diuihets, when they join forces together. They generally encamp at about thirty of forty leagues distance from the enemies country, that they may not be discovered, and send out scouts, to examine the places they intend to attack; who hide themselves during the day, but at night issue forth from their lurking places, and mark, with the greatest exactness, every house and farm of the straggling villages they indend to attack, so as to vie an account of their disposition, the number of their inhabitants, and their means of defence. When they have thus informed themselves, they communicate the intelligence to the main army, who take the time when the moon is past the full, that they may have light for their work, to march to the assault. When they approach the polace, they separate in small bodies, each of which is appointed to attack some house or farm. A few hours after midnight they make the assault, ill all the men who resist, and carry away the women and children for slaves. The Indian women follow their husbands, armed with clubs, bowls, and sometimes swords; and ravage and plunder the houses of every thing that can find, that may be of service to them, as cloaths, houshold utensils, &c. Thus loaded with booty, they retire as fast as they can; resting neither day nor night, till they are at a great distance, and out of danger of being overtaken by their enemies; which is sometimes a hundred leagues from the place of the attack. Here they stop, and divide their booty; which is seldom accomplished without great discontents from some or other of them, and these often terminate in quarrels and bloodshed.
At other times, they make a kind of flying war, with small camps, of fifty or a hundred men in each. In this case they do not attack whole villages, but only single farms or houses, which they do very hastily, and retire as soon as they can.
The Caciques nevertheless have not the power to raise taxes,§ nor to take way any thing from their vassals; nor can they oblige them to serve in the least employment, without paying them. On the contrary, they are obliged to treat their vassals with great humanity and mildness, and oftentimes to relieve their wants, or they will seek the protection of some other Cacique. For this reason, many of the Elmens, or those who are born Caciques, refuse to have any vassals; as they cost them dear, and yield but little profit. No Indian, or body of Indians, can live without the protection of some Cacique, according to their law of nations; and if any of them attempted to do it, they would undoubtedly be killed, or carried away as slaves, as soon as they were discovered.
§ The signifcance of the taxes mentioned above is unclear, since in the paragraph immediately following, Falkner states the Indians use no money.
In case of any injury, notwithstanding the authority of the Cacique, the party aggrieved often endeavours to do himself justice to the best of his power. They know of no punishment, or satisfaction, but that of paying, or redeeming the injury, or damage done, with something of value in their estimation (for they use no money) nor do they chastize, but by death. Yet when the offence is not very great, and the offender is poor, the party injured generally beats him with his stone bowls, on the back and ribs. When the offender is too powerful, they let him alone; unless the Cacique interferes, and obliges him to make satisfaction.
Although the different nations are at continual variance among themselves, yet they often join together against the Spaniards, and choose an Apo, or Captain-general, to command the whole: at other times, each nation makes war for itself. In the wars with the Spaniards of Buenos-Ayres, the Moluches are as auxiliaries, and the Chiefs are chosen from among the Puelches, because they are better acquainted with that country. For the like reason, in the wars with the Spaniards of Chili, the Chiefts are elected from among the Caciques of the Moluches.
Their marriages are made by sale; the husband buying his wife of her nearest relations, and oftentimes at a dear price, of beads, cascabels, garments, horses, or any thing else that is of value among them. They often agree for their wives, and pay part of the price for them, when they are very young, and many years before that are marriageable. Each Indian may have as many wives as he can buy or keep. Eifoed snf orphans are at their own disposal, and may accept of whome they please: the rest are obliged to abide by the sale, even against their inclinations, or they are dragged away and compelled to submit. If seldom happens that any Indian has more then one wife; though some have dad two or three at a time; especially the Elemens, Yas, or Caciques. The reason of this is, they they are not overstocked with women; and those which they have are so dear, that many have no wife at all.
They use little of no ceremony in their marriages. At the time agreed upon, the parents lead the lady to the spouse's habitation, and deliver her up to him; or he goes and takes her away from her parents, as his own property; and sometimes she even goes of herself, being certain of a good reception. The following morning she is visited by her relations, before the time of rising; and being found in bed with her spouse, the marriage is concluded. But as many of these marriages are compulsive on the side of the woman, they are frequently frustrated. The contumacy of the woman sometimes tires out the patience of the man, who then turns her away, or sells her to the person on whom she has fixed her affections; but seldom beats her, or treats her ill. At other times the wife elopes from her husband, and goes to a gallant; who, if he is more powerful, or of a higher rank that the husband, obliges him to put up with the affront, and to acquiesce in the loss of his wife; unless a more powerful friend obliges the gallant to a restitution, or to compound the matter; and in these affairs they are generally very ease.
The women, who have once accepted their husbands, are in general very faithful and laborious. Indeed their lives are but one continued scene of labour; for, besides the nursing and bringing up their children, they are obliged to submit to every species of drudgery. In short they do every thing, except hunting and fighting; and sometimes they even engage in the latter. The care of all houshold affairs is left entirely to the women: they fetch wood and water, dress victuals, make, mend, and clear the tents, dress and sew together the hides, and also the lesser skins of which they make their mantles or carapas, and spin and make ponchas or macuns. When they travel, the women pack up every thing, even the tent-poles; which they must erect and pull down themselves, as often as occasion requires: they load, unload, and settle the baggage, straiten the girths of the saddles, and carry the lance before their husbands. No excuse of sickness, or being big with child, will relieve them from the appointed labour: and so rigidly are they obliged to perform their duty, that their husbands cannot help them on any occasion, or in the greatest distress, without incurring the highest ignominy. The women of Quality, or those related to the Caciques, are permitted to have slaves, who ease their mistresses of the most laborious part of their work; but if they should not have any slaves, they must undergo the same fatigue as the rest.
It is the province of the husband to provide food; which is generally the flesh of horses, ostriches, guanacoes, hares, wild-boars, armadilloes, antas, &c. or whatever the country produces. He also supplies his wife with skins for the tent, and for cloathing; though they often purchase for them cloaths or mantles of European goods, of the Spaniards; and also brass-earings, cascabels, and large glass beads of a sky-blue colour, for which they have a great preference. I have seen them exchange a poncha, or mantle, of their little foxes skints, which are as fine and as beautiful as ermine, worth from five to seven dollars each, for four strings of these beads, which are woth about fourpence. The Moluches maintain some flocks of sheep for their wool, and fow a small quantity of corn: but the Puelches depend entirely on their hunting; for which purpose they keep great numbers of dogs, which they call tehua.
Although their marriages are at will, yet when once the parties are agreed, and have children, they seldom forsake each other, even in extreme old-age. The husband protects his wife from all injuries, and always takes here part, even if she is in the wrong; which occasions frequent quarrels and bloodshed: but this partiality does not prevent him from reprimanding her in private, for engaging him in these disputes. He seldom beats her; and if he catches her in any criminal commerce, lays all the blame on the gallant; whom he corrects with great severity, unless he atones for the injury by some valuable present. They have so little decency in this respect, that oftentimes, at the command of the wizards, they superstitiously send their wives to the woods, to prostitute themselves to the first person they meet. Yet there are some women whose modesty gets the better of their obedience, and who refuse to fulfil the desires both of their husbands and the wizards.
They breed up their children in a vicious indulgence of their humours. The Tehuelhets, or Sothern Patagonians, carry this folly to the greatest excess; and the old people are led about from one place to another, frequently changing their habitations, to humour the caprices of their children. The following account may give an idea, to what a greee of folly they carry this fondness. If an Indian, even a Cacique, reslove to change his habitation, with his family, &c. and is at that time an inhabitant among a different tribe of people, who do not choose to part with him, it is the custom to take one of his children, and to pretend such a fondness for it, that they cannot part with it; and by these means they father is satisfied, and agrees to stay: they then deliver him his child, and, instead of resenting their conduct, he is greatly pleased that his child is so much beloved.
The widow of a Tehuel Cacique, whose husband had been treacherously killed by the Spaniards in time of peace, was determined to leave the town and the missionaries, and no entreaties or persuasions were able to quite her on so sad an occasion. She had a son about six years of age, who was very fond of the missionaries, on account of the presents of bread, figs, raisins, &c. which they used to give to him; and when he understood that his mother was preparing to carry him away, he would not suffer himself to be dressed for the journey, and desired to be carried to the fathers. The mother, moved with the distress of her child, consented to remain where she was, and soon afterward became a Christian.
The dress of these Indians is very remarkable. The men were no caps upon their heads, but have their hair tied up behind, with the points upwards; binding it many times above the head with a large girdle of dyed woollen stuff, curiously wrought. In their tents they wear a mantle, made of skins sewed together. Those made with the skins of young colts and mares are the least valuable. The mantles made of the skins of a small, stinking animal, loke our pole-cat, which is of a dark, sable colour, with two large white streaks on each side of it's ribs; it's hair very soft and fine.
The fur of the coipu, or otter, is in equal esteem with that of the yaguane, or maikel. The head, mouth and teeth of this animal very much resemble those of a rabbit: it's fur is long and fine, and as good as that of a beaver. It digs it's caves (which consist of one or two stories) in the banks of rivers, and lives upon fish. It has a long, round, tapering tail, like that of a rat; and it's flesh is very good to eat.
They also make or weave (the Tehuelhets and Chechehets excepted) fine mantles of woollen yarn, beautifully dyed with many colours; which when wrapped round their bodies, reach from their shoulders to the calf of the leg. They have another, of the same kind, round the waist, and, besides these, a small three-cornered leathern apron, that serves for breeches. They tie two corners of it round their waists, and pass the other between their legs, and fasten it behind. They likewise make mantles of red stuff, such as everlasting, &c. which they buy of the Spaniards; as also hats, which they are fond of wearing, especially on horseback.§ They adorn themselves with sky-coloured beads; tying one or two rows of them round their necks and wrists. They also paint their faces, sometimes with red, at other times black; making themselves exceedingly ugly and hideous, though they imagine there is great beauty in it.
§ Falkner wrote a few paragraphs earlier, “The men wear no caps upon their heads, … .”
When they are on horseback, instead of the mantle before-mentioned, they use one adorned with a greater variety of figures; which has a slit in the middle, through which they put their heads; and the mantle hangs down to their knees, and sometimes to their feet. Both men and women use a kind of boots or stockings, made of the skin of the thighs and legs of mares and colts; which they first flay from the fat and inward membranes, and, after drying, soften with grease; then make them pliant by wringing, and put them on without either shaping or sewing.
Their defensive arms consist of a helmet, made like a broad-brimmed hat, of a bull's hide sewed double, and of a coat of mail; which is a wide tunic, shaped and put on like a shirt, with narrow short sleeves, made of three or four folds of the anta's skin. It is very heavy, strong enough to resist either arrows or lances; and some say it is bullet-proof. It is made very high in the neck-part, and almost covers the eyes and nose. On foot they use likewise a large, unwieldy, square target, of bulls hides. Their offensive arms are a short bow, and arrows pointed with bone, The Tehuelhets and Huilliches sometimes envenom the points, with a species of poison, which destroys so slowly, that the wounded person linkgers for two or three months; till, reduce to a skeleton, he at last expires. They likewise use a lance, of four or five yards in length, made of a solid cane, that grows near the Cordillera, with many joints, about four or five inches from one another, and pointed with iron. They have stords, when they can get them from the Spaniards; but they are in general very scarce. Another soft of weapons, peculiar to this nation, are bowls, or lage, round stones, shaped into that form by being beat against each other, and about four inches in diameter. They are in general pebbles, though I have seen some, which were brought from within land, that were made of a kind or ore, resembling a fine, light copper. There are others made of a kind or iron-stone.
These bowls are of two or three sotts. That which is most used in war is a single, round bowl, of about a pound weight, to which they fasten a small rope, made of hide or sinews. With they they strike the adversary's head, to dash out his brains; and sometimes throw it, rope and all.
There is another kind, which is indifferently used either in war or hunting. This consists of two bowls, like the former, covered with skin, and fastened at each end of a long rope of hide, three or four yareds in length. They take one of them in their hand, and whilrling the other three or four times round their head, throw it, and entangle either man or beast. They will throw them with such dexterity, as to fasten a man to his horse; and will also contrive to throw them in such a manner, when they are hunting, that the rope shall twist round the neck of the beast, and the bowls hang between his legs, so that he is soon thrown down and taken.
Sometimes, especially in hunting, they use two lesser bowls, which they fasten, with two ropes of about a year each, to the rope to which the larger ones are tied, thet they may entangle their prey the better. In hunting ostriches, deer, or guanacoes, they use bowls of a smaller size than any I have yet mentioned. These are made of marble, well polished, and fastened to a cord made of sinews.
The women have no attire for their heads, but have their long hair plaited in two large tresses, which hang down on either side. They wear ear-rings, or pendants, of square brass plates, about two or three inches broad, and as many deep, with a piece of the same metal well hammered to prevent their ears, which are very widely bored, from being cut. They wear strings of sky-blue beads round their necks, arms, and ankles.
They have the same kind of mantle as the men; but they put one end of it round their necks, fastening it before with a brass skewer or pin, and gather it up round the waist; letting it fall down to their ankles. They have also a short apron, tied about their middle under the mantle, which covers them only before, and reaches a little below the knee. This is woven of dyed yarn, and striped from the top ot the bottom with different colours. When they ride, they use a straw hat, of the figure of a broad, low cone; such as the Chinese are represented to wear: and their boots are the same as those which are worn by the men.
An Account of the Language of the Inhabitants of these Countries.
The languages of these Indians differ from each other. I only learned that of the Moluches; it being the most polished, and the most generally understood. A considerable absence from these countries has rendered the recollection very difficult: however, I shall give the best account of it I am able, to satisfy the curious and inquisitive.
This language is much more copious and elegant, than could have been expected from an uncivilized people.
The nounrs have only one declension, and are all of the common gender. The dative, accusative, and ablative cases, have all the same termination, with their suffix or postposition. There are but two numbers, singular and plural; the dual being expressed by placing the word epu (which signifies two) before the word: but the pronouncs have all the three numbers. The adjectives are put before the substantives, and do not vary their terminations, either in case or number: as,
|Cume huentu||a good man,|
|Cume huentu eng'n||good men.|
|The Declination of the Nouns.|
or Huentu engu,
of the man, &c.
N. Pu huentu or
G. Pu huentu,
and so on, as in the singular.
of the men.
T'va or T'vachi,
he alone or himself|
|And in the same manner.|
|thou, you two,||Eim'n||you many.|
For pronouns possessive is used the genitive, or sign of the genitive, of the pronouns; ni, mine; mi, thine. Likewise m'ten, only; used sometimes as an adjective or pronoun, and at other times as an adverb.
The verbs have only one conjugation, and are never irregular or defective. They are formed from any part of speech, either by giving it the termination of a verb, or adding to it the very substantive gen, or, as it is pronounced, 'ngen, which ansers to the Latin verb sum, es, fui, &c.
P'elen or P'llengen,
P'lley or P'llengey,
I am near,
he is near.
to be good,
Atal'n or Atalcan,
|Evil or bad,
to be bad,
to corrupt or make bad.
The verbs have three numbers, singular, dual, and plural; and as many tenses as in the Greek tongue; all of which they form by interposing certain particles before the last letter of the indicative, and before the last syllable of the subjunctive; as,
Elun, to give.|
In the subjunctive mood they terminate with the particle li, striking off the letter n in the indicative, and varying all the tenses as before: as,
N. B. The Huilliches frequently use, instead of eluyeen, in the perfect tense of the indicative, or leuyeeli, in that of the subjunctive, eluvin and eluvili.
I remarked that, for the imperative, they frequently used the future of the indicative, and sometimes in the third person; as Elupe, Let him give.
A Moluche Indian, eating an ostrich's egg, and wanter salt, I heard him say, “Chasimota iloavinquin,” Let me eat it with salt. Now iloavin in the first future, with the particle vi interposed, to signify it. I do not know whether quin is anything more than a particle or ornament; as in the word chasimota; where the concluding syllable ta is useless, but for the sake of the sound; as chasimo, without any addition, is the ablative case of chasi, salt.
NOTE: The remaining ten pages of this chapter are much the same as the above, and are omitted here.