The Project Gutenberg eBook of South America

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Title: South America

Author: W. H. Koebel

Release date: February 27, 2006 [eBook #17877]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Dave Morgan, Taavi Kalju and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at


From the portrait in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The gift of Mr. Pierpont Morgan.
The painting bears the words "Sebastian Venetus, fecit 1519".
A. Rischgitz.







LONDON                  MCMXIII

[Pg v]


The history of a continent such as South America, confined to the limits of a single volume of moderate size, must of necessity contain some elements of mere survey. Nevertheless, since in no other but a condensed form could the respective strides achieved by the various nations of this continent be satisfactorily judged and compared, the author is encouraged to hope that this small work may fill in one of the most obvious of the many gaps in the English versions of South American history. He has endeavoured to lay stress on the trend of the authorities and peoples in question rather than to emphasize the rigid succession of Governors and Presidents. In the same way, since space has had to be considered, it was thought desirable to introduce at any length only those personalities notable for their actions and intrinsic influence, leaving in the background those others whose only claim to the interest of posterity lies in the weight of the office they held.

[Pg vii]



[Pg ix]



[Pg 1]




The discovery of South America stands as one of the most dramatic events in history. From the time of its occurrence until the present so deeply has this event impressed itself on men's minds that the previous state of the Continent has been a somewhat neglected topic. The Incas and their civilization, it is true, have attracted no small share of attention to themselves, and the subject has become more or less familiar to the average English reader through the medium of the work of Prescott, who has been followed by a number of later writers, many of whom have dealt very exhaustively with this subject. Yet, after all, the Incas, for all their historical importance, occupied but a very small portion of the territories of the Southern Continent. Beyond the western fringe of the Continent which was theirs by heritage, or by conquest, were other lands—mountainous in parts, level in others, where the great river basins extended themselves—which were the chosen hunting and fishing grounds of an almost innumerable number of tribes.

The degree of civilization, or, more accurately speaking, of savagery which characterized these as a whole necessarily varied to a great extent in the case of each particular tribe. Nevertheless, from the comparatively high culture of the Incas down to the most intellectually[Pg 2] submerged people of the forests and swamps, there were certain characteristics held in common by all. This applied not only to a marked physical likeness which stamped every dweller in the great Continent, but to customs, religious ceremonies, and government as well. Concerning the origin of the South American Indians interminable disputes have now raged for generations, but that in the case of all the various tribes the origin was the same has never, I think, been controverted. The most common theory concerning the origin of the South Americans is that this was Mongolian.

This idea would certainly seem one of the most feasible of the many put forward. Those who have delved sufficiently deeply into the matter have found many striking analogies in customs, religious ceremonies, and even in language between the inhabitants of South America and those of Eastern Asia; and there are even those who assert that the similarity between the two peoples extends to the designs on domestic pottery. The majority of those who have devoted themselves to this subject of the South American aborigines have been obliged to work largely in the dark. Considering the great extent of the ruins bequeathed by the Incas to the later ages, it might be thought curious that so few precise data are available. The reason for this lies in the zeal which the conquistadores displayed in the stamping out of the various pagan religions. No sooner had the Spaniards obtained possession of the chief cities of the Incas than every symbol, image, or, indeed, any object suggestive of sun-worship or anything of the kind, was smashed into fragments, and every trace of its significance so far as possible obliterated.

There is no doubt that in the course of this wholesale destruction a multitude of objects perished which would have given an historical clue to much of what now remains[Pg 3] doubtful. It is owing to this obliterative enthusiasm that such scanty historical knowledge exists concerning the earlier period of the Inca race, and of that highly civilized nation which preceded the later Children of the Sun.

It is, moreover, largely on account of this vagueness and uncertainty that some curiously wild theories have been propounded concerning the origin of the South Americans, and more especially of the Incas. Thus, in 1843, George Jones, a writer who had indulged in some extraordinarily enthusiastic researches, published a work the object of which was to prove that not only the Mexicans, but all the tribes of Southern America, were the descendants of some old Tyrians who, fleeing from their enemies, abandoned Phœnicia and, sailing westward, landed in Central America, some 332 years before the birth of Christ! It must be admitted that the structure—even though it is purely of the imagination—thus built up by the fertile author is sufficiently ingenious, and the number of Biblical data, similarities, and general phenomena, which he has brought to bear on the subject are impressive, if not convincing.

Peru was admittedly the richest country of South America, so far as historical relics are concerned. Yet even here it is difficult in the extreme to glean any accurate information concerning the actual primitive inhabitants of the country. Astonishingly little tradition of any kind exists, and the little to be met with is rendered comparatively valueless by the vivid imagination of the Indian; thus this period cannot be considered as historical in the real sense of the word. A number of relics, it is true, prove the existence of an early form of civilization, the most numerous being found, as would naturally be expected when the nature of the country is considered, in the valleys and the coasts. These relics[Pg 4] take the forms of food substances and kitchen utensils, and are known as "kitchen-middens," and beyond these rude fireplaces have been found.

In 1874 the skeleton of a tall man was discovered in a volcanic layer which is supposed to have belonged to a later period. The dwelling in which it was found showed a distinct advance in civilization. It was constructed of rocks joined together by means of clay, and roofed with plaited straw. One of the most notable objects found by the side of this man was a well-fashioned cotton purse, filled with wheat and other grain. In various neighbourhoods remnants of pottery and cloth gave evidence of these later stages. After this it is supposed that a great invasion of Peru occurred, and that the race which preceded the Incas took possession of the land.

It will be most fitting to deal first of all with the Incas, the most highly civilized race of the Continent. The head-quarters of this nation were to be found in Peru and Bolivia. The capital of the whole Empire was Cuzco, a town situated at some distance to the north of Lake Titicaca. Lake Titicaca is generally held to have been the cradle of the race, and it is in this neighbourhood and on the shores of the lake that some of the most notable of the Inca ruins are to be met with.

There is no doubt that the great majority of these stupendous monuments of a former age were not the actual handiwork of the Incas. It is now considered practically certain that these Incas, themselves enlightened and progressive, were merely using the immense structures both of material masonry and of theoretical civilization left behind by a previous race whom the Children of the Sun had conquered and subdued. It is not improbable that this race was that of the Aymaras; in any case it is certain that the Empire of the Incas was[Pg 5] not of old standing, and that they had not occupied the countries they held for more than a few hundred years before the advent of the Spaniards.


The Incas possessed a very definite theory concerning the origin of their tribe. Sun-worshippers, they loved to think that they themselves were descended from a chance fragment of that terrible and blazing luminary. Thus their religion had it that the first Inca was a child of the Sun who came down to earth in company with his sister-wife. The spot they chose was an island on Lake Titicaca. Here they alighted in all their brilliancy, and the Indians of the neighbourhood gathered about them and fell at their feet, receiving them as rulers with infinite gratitude. This first Inca, whatever may have been his real origin, was undoubtedly known as Manco-Capac, and his sister-wife was known as Mama-Oclle. Manco-Capac represented the first of a dynasty of thirteen Emperors, the last of whom suffered at the hands of Pizarro. Until the end of their race these Incas had retained a considerable degree of the sacred character with which tradition had invested the first of their line. The person of the Emperor was, indeed, worshipped as a demi-god. Justified by tradition, he had the privilege of marrying his sister. It is curious to remark here the resemblance in the customs of the Incas and the Pharaos.

An alternative theory of the origin of the Inca race, although not authoritative, is worthy of note. W.B. Stevenson, in a work published in 1825, states that a curious tradition was related to him by the Indians in various parts of Peru. According to this the progenitor of the royal Incas was an Englishman who was found stranded on the coast by a certain cacique of the name of Cocapac! The cacique took the stranger to his home, and the Englishman married the chieftain's daughter. From this union sprang a boy, Ingasman[Pg 6] Cocapac, and a girl, Mama-Oclle. These were both of fair complexion and hair.

Shortly after the birth of these children their parents died, and the boy and girl were left in the care of their grandfather, Cocapac. The nature of this latter appears to have been extraordinarily calculating and astute. He saw in the children a phenomenal opportunity for the glorification of his family. First of all he instructed the youngsters for years in the playing of their parts; then, when adult, he took them to Cuzco and posted them on the side of a mountain of that important district. After this he went among the tribesmen, and announced that the Sun-god had sent two of his children to govern the race as a special mark of his favour. The Indians streamed out to the point he indicated as their resting-place, and, sure enough, they found the strangers at the spot.

To the chagrin of Cocapac, however, the tribesmen refused to accept them in the light of gods; on the contrary, they condemned the pair as a wizard and a witch, and banished them from the neighbourhood. Cocapac, undaunted by this failure, accompanied his grandchildren, and repeated his performance on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Here complete success marked the attempt: the young people were received by the Indians with enthusiasm as the children of their god, and, once established, the belief spread all round, until it included all the centre of the Inca Empire, not excepting the once sceptical Cuzco. To quote from Stevenson:

"Thus," said the Indians, "was the power of the Incas established, and many of them have said that, as I was an Englishman, I was of their family. When H.B.M. ship Breton was at Callao, some of the officers accompanied me one Sunday afternoon to the Alameda at Lima. On our way we were saluted by several Indians[Pg 7] from the mountains, calling us their countrymen and their relations, begging at the same time that we would drink some chicha with them."

It is unnecessary to point out the dubiousness of this theory! For all the obvious difficulties in the way of credibility, the main story has a certain convincing ring, if for no other reason than the utterly prosaic attempt at an explanation of the alleged miraculous and mystical episode of the native mythology.

In the course of time the Inca Empire had sent its wave of influence and dominion to roll widely to the north and to the south. In the north its government extended beyond Quito; in the south its progress had been arrested by the warrior Indians of Southern Chile, the Araucanians on the banks of the River Maule.

On the whole, the rule of the Incas over the conquered races was beneficent, and these latter, sensible of the advantages offered them, were quite willing to weld themselves into the common Empire. Almost the sole respect in which they showed themselves merciless was in the manner in which their religious sacrifices were carried out. The Sun frequently proved himself greedy of human blood, and he was never stinted by his priests; human life, indeed, in the more populous centres was held rather more cheaply than is usual among people who had attained to the civilization of the Incas.

In the Civil Government every symptom of this kind was absent. Indeed, the methods of the Inca Government, on the whole, were of the benevolent order; at the same time laws applying to the conduct of the populace were in many respects stringent, and were wont to be carried out to the letter. A number of socialistic doctrines were embodied in these strange constitutions of the past. The work of the people was mapped out for[Pg 8] them, and, although it may be said with justice that no poverty existed, this very admirable state of affairs was frequently brought about by the enforcing of labour on the would-be idle.

The lands of the Inca Kingdom from frontier to frontier were divided into three classes of territory. The first was the property of the Sun—that is to say, the proceeds of its harvests were applied to the temples, priests, and all the other requirements of religion. The land appertaining to the second category was the property of the Royal Family; and the third belonged to the people. It is interesting to note in connection with this system of land distribution that in the later centuries the Jesuits in Paraguay adopted a very similar procedure, and divided their lands into three sections which corresponded exactly with those of the Incas. Thus, according to these regulations, every inhabitant of the Inca Empire was a landowner. This, however, merely in a limited sense, for, although the land was his to work, he was not permitted to obtain any advantage from its possession other than that which he obtained by his own labour, and, as has been explained, the refraining from work was a heavily punishable offence. When the spirit in which these laws were framed is taken into consideration, it is not surprising that no man was allowed to sell his land, a procedure which would, of course, have rendered the general working of the community inoperative. The land, in fact, represented a loan from the State which lasted the lifetime of the agriculturist.


Perhaps the civilization of the Incas and of their predecessors is most of all evident in the industrial monuments which they have left behind them. In irrigation they had little or nothing to learn from the most advanced European experts of the time. Many of their aqueducts, indeed, showed an astonishing degree both of ingenuity[Pg 10] and of labour. The nature of the country across which it was necessary to construct these was, of course, sufficiently mountainous to test the powers of the most capable engineer. The Inca roads, in many respects, rivalled their aqueducts. From the point of view of the modern highway, it is true that they may be considered as somewhat slender and unimportant affairs. Certainly in the absence of any wheeled traffic no surface of the kind as was necessary in Europe and Asia was to be met with here. Provided that the road stretched in an uninterrupted length along the peaks, valleys, and chasms of the rugged mountain country, no question of close and intricate pavement was concerned, since for the troops of pack-llamas anything of the kind was quite superfluous. Thus, as imposing structures, these highways impress the modern traveller but little. Nevertheless, they served their purpose efficiently, and extended themselves in triumph over one of the most difficult road-making countries in the world.

This road network of the Incas spread itself little by little from the central portion of the Empire to the far north and south; for during the comparatively short imperial status of the race their rule had extended itself steadily. They were in many respects a people possessed of the true colonizing instincts. Their able and liberal Government was of a kind which could not fail to be appreciated by the tribes which they had conquered. Indeed, the various sections of these subjugated Indians appear to have become an integral part of the Inca Empire in a remarkably short time.

In their conquest the rulers appear to have strained every point to effect this end. Thus they were not averse from time to time to receive into their temples new and strange gods which their freshly made subjects had been in the habit of worshipping. These were received among[Pg 11] the deities of older standing, and were wont to be acknowledged, and so, after a short while, were considered as foreign no longer.

A nation of which far less has been heard, but which in many respects resembled the Incas, was that of the Chibchas. The Chibchas inhabited the country which had for its centre the valley of the Magdalena River. The country of this tribe, as a matter of fact, is now part of the Republic of Colombia; thus the Chibchas were situated well to the north of the Inca Empire. The religion of these people closely resembled that of the more southern Children of the Sun. Like these others, they worshipped the masculine Sun and the female Moon, and a certain number of deities in addition.

The Chibchas have left some ruins of temples behind them, although these are not of the same magnitude as the Inca edifices. They were an agricultural people, and, in addition, were skilled in weaving and in the manufacture of pottery; they were, moreover, supposed to have been clever workers in gold. The costume of the race showed very similar tastes to those of their more southern brethren. The men of rank wore white or dyed cotton tunics, and the women mantles fastened by means of golden clasps. The warlike splendour of the men was characteristically picturesque, their chief decorations being breast-plates of gold and magnificent plumes for the head. They, too, employed as weapons darts, bows and arrows, clubs, lances, and slings. The fate of the Chibchas was, of course, the same as that of the Incas. Their bodies decked with their brilliant feathers and pomp sank into the mire of despond, never again to attain to their former state.

This very brief study of the Incas and Chibchas concludes the civilized elements of the Aboriginal South American. To the east of the Andes were a number of[Pg 12] tribes, all of which were, to a greater or lesser degree, still in a state of sheer savagery. Near the eastern frontier of the Inca Empire resided such peoples as the Chiriguanos, Chunchos, Abipones, Chiquitos, Mojos, Guarayos, Tacanas; while to the north were similar tribes, such as the Ipurines, Jamamaries, Huitotos, Omaguas. These appear to have absorbed some crude and vague forms of the Inca religion, and were addicted to the worship of the Sun, but more frequently of the Moon.

On the east of the Continent, ranging from the territory which is now known as Misiones in Argentina, and Southern Paraguay to the north-east of the Continent, were various branches of the great Guarani family, a nation that some consider should be more correctly known as Tupis, and whose northernmost section are known as Caribs. It is impossible to attempt to give an account of the very great number of the tribes which went to make up this powerful and great nation. Many of these remain to the present day, and sixteen are still accounted for in the comparatively insignificant district of the Guianas alone.

It is, indeed, only feasible to deal with the main characteristics of these various peoples—mostly forest-dwellers. Naturally enough, the tribesmen were hunters and fishers. The majority were given to paint their bodies and to pierce their ears, noses, and lower lips, in order to insert reeds, feathers, and similar savage ornaments. In the more tropical forest regions the blowpipe constituted one of the most formidable weapons. Bows and arrows were in general use, the points of these latter being of bone or hardened wood. The barbs of the spears were similarly contrived, many of these weapons being beautifully decorated in the more northern territories. The greater part of these tribes still remain in the forest districts of the Continent.

The fellow-conquistador and rival of Pizarro in the conquest of Peru, and pioneer explorer of Chile.

[Pg 13]In Chile and in the River Plate Provinces an entirely different type of Indian prevailed; great warriors these, for the most part, who roamed the plains of the River Plate Provinces, or, like the Araucanians, lived a turbulent and fierce existence among the forests and mountains of the far south to the west of the Andes Chain.

It was these Southern Indians who disputed the soil with the Spaniards with the courage and ferocity that frequently spilled the Castillian blood in torrents on the mountains or plains. To the end, indeed, they remained unconquered, and death was almost invariably preferred to submission to the hated white invaders of their land.

Even here prevailed the socialism which so strongly characterized the races of the centre and north of the Continent. Despotism was unknown, and even the chieftain, in the proper sense of the word, had no existence. In times of war an elder was chosen, it is true, but with the laying down of the weapons he became again one of the people, and was lost in their ranks. Such crude organization as existed was left to the hands of a Council of Elders. There is no doubt that witch-doctors attained to a certain degree of power, but even this was utterly insignificant as compared with that which was wont to be enjoyed by the savage priests of Central Africa.

Taken as a whole, the Indians of Southern America represented some of the most simple children who ever lived in the lap of Nature. Unsophisticated, credulous, and strangely wanting in reasoning powers and organized self-defence, they fell ready victims to the onslaughts of the Spaniards, who burst with such dramatic unexpectedness on their north-eastern shores.

[Pg 14]



Columbus was admittedly a visionary. It was to the benefit of his fellow Europeans and to the detriment of the South American tribes that to his dreams he joined the practical side of his nature. Certainly the value of imagination in a human being has never been more strikingly proved than by the triumph of Columbus.

The enthusiasm of the great Genoese was of the kind which has tided men over obstacles and difficulties and troubles throughout the ages. He was undoubtedly of the nervous and highly-wrought temperament common to one of his genius. He loved the dramatic. There are few who have not heard the story of the egg with the crushed end which stood upright. But there are innumerable other instances of the demonstrative powers of Columbus. For instance, when asked to describe the Island of Madeira, he troubled not to utter a word in reply, but snatched up a piece of writing-paper and, crumpling it by a single motion of his hand, held it aloft as a triumphant exhibition of the island's peaks and valleys.

Fortunately for the adventurers of his period, his belief in his mission was unshakable. It was, of course, a mere matter of chance that Columbus should have found himself in the service of the Spaniards when he set out upon his voyage which was to culminate in the discovery of the New World. He himself had been far[Pg 15] more concerned with the Portuguese than with their eastern neighbours. Indeed, until the discovery of America, the Spaniards, fully occupied with the expulsion of the Moors from within their frontiers in Europe, could give but little attention to the science of navigation.

The Portuguese, on the other hand, had for a considerable period been specializing in seamanship. From his castle at Faro, on the southernmost shores of Portugal, where Prince Henry the Navigator had founded his maritime school, that royal scientist had watched with pride the captains whom he had trained as they sailed their vessels over the gold and blue horizon of the Far South, and had exultantly drunk in on their return the tales of new shores and of oceans ploughed for the first time; of spices, riches men, and beasts, all new and strange, and, all appealing strongly to the imagination of the learned Prince, who only restrained himself with difficulty from plunging into the unknown.

It was with men such as these of Prince Henry's with whom the Genoese had been brought into contact on his first visit to Portugal. That he had been received by this set as one of themselves is sufficiently evidenced by the fact of his marriage with a daughter of Bartholomew Perestrello. It was naturally, therefore, to the Portuguese Government that Columbus first applied for the assistance in men and ships which were to bear him to the land which he so fiercely promised.

As has been said, there is no doubt that Columbus was a visionary who possessed a large amount of practical knowledge and experience, from which the indulgence in these visions sprang. That his theories were the result of something more than the merest speculation is certain. Maritime legend and lore were rife in Genoa and the Mediterranean, and certainly abounded in Portugal under the benevolent and strenuous encouragement of Prince[Pg 16] Henry the Navigator. That some vague echoes of the feats performed by the Norsemen and others who had long before won their way to the Western Continent had penetrated to these parts of Europe there is no doubt. Columbus, moreover, had stayed for many months at one of those half-way houses between Europe and the western mainland, Porto Santo, and the neighbouring Island of Madeira.

His father-in-law was at the time Governor of the lesser island, that of Porto Santo. In such a spot as this the requirements of Columbus were naturally few, and he had gained a livelihood with ease by the making of maps. His father was a carder of wool at Genoa, and young Christopher, rebelling at the monotony of this trade, commenced his maritime life before he was fifteen years old.

It was doubtless while at Porto Santo that Columbus had thought out his theories, aided by not a little evidence of the material order, such as floating logs and other objects, which had sailed, wind and current borne, from the unknown lands across the Atlantic. Columbus, of course, was not actually the first to feel convinced of the possibility of gaining India by sailing to the West; the theory had been held by Aristotle, Seneca, Strabo, and others. The sole mistake Columbus made in his calculations was concerning the size of the world. He had overestimated the extent of the Continent of Asia, and underestimated the extent of the Atlantic Ocean; he seems to have been convinced that a very few days' sailing to the west of Madeira would bring him to the shores of India. It was this error in calculation that undoubtedly was responsible for many long and agonizing hours spent on the actual voyage.

From a coloured drawing in a Spanish MS. in the Sloane Collection in the British Museum.

Columbus's proposals, it is true, were received with a certain interest by the Portuguese; but for the jealousy of[Pg 17] some officials it is very probable that he would, in the first instance, have seen his cherished plans carried into effect. As it was, a vessel was secretly fitted out, and was sent in command of a rival navigator to test the theories of Columbus. After a while the ship returned, battered and worn, having discovered nothing beyond a series of exceptionally violent tempests.

This attempt was in any case destined to prove equally adverse to the fortunes of Columbus. Had it succeeded, he would have undoubtedly been deprived of the credit which should have been his by right; since it failed, the venture was considered to have proved the fallacy of Columbus's theories. When, disgusted with experiences such as these, Columbus left Portugal and took up his residence near the Court of Spain in company with this great idea of his, which followed him everywhere, and was in a sense bigger than himself, he met with an equal lack of success in the first instance. Queen Isabella was sympathetic, but her cautious husband Ferdinand showed himself cold. Dreading the utter destruction of his plans, Columbus determined to wash his hands of the Iberian Peninsula and its over-cautious rulers and statesmen.

He was actually on his way to England, whither one of his brothers had already preceded him, when a message from the Court of Spain caused him to hasten back. It is possible that the Court had been in a haggling mood, and had given the discoverer credit for a similar phase; at all events, it was not until his person was almost out of reach that the now complaisant authorities called him back.

Ferdinand himself had given his consent, although in a grudging fashion. Isabella, however, proved herself enthusiastic, and it was she who signed the bargain with the famous Genoese, which gave a continent to the Royal Family of Spain. The signing of the bargain, however,[Pg 18] did not necessarily end the friction. The authorities were now fully prepared to recognize Columbus as their messenger to the unknown world; but they were reluctant in the extreme that the intrepid navigator should be carried in too comfortable or costly a fashion. In the end Columbus, conceding that half a fleet was better than no ships, gave way and took what was offered him. He himself as Admiral was given charge of the Santa Maria, the largest vessel, while two diminutive craft, the Pinta and the Niña, made up this very humble fleet. Nevertheless, Columbus now had his desire; he had obtained in the main all that he had asked, although some of it in a lesser degree.

The concessions granted to Columbus for his first voyage were that he was to be made Admiral of the seas and countries to be discovered, a dignity which was to descend to his heirs; that he was to become Viceroy of all those islands and continents; to have the tenth part of the profits of the total undertaking; to be made sole mercantile judge; to have the right to contribute one-eighth part of the expenses of all the maritime ventures, and in return to be given an eighth part of the profits.

He carried with him a letter from Ferdinand and Isabella to any chance sovereign whom he might meet, which ran to this effect:

"Ferdinand and Isabella to King ... The Sovereigns having heard that he and his subjects entertain great love for them and for Spain. They are, moreover, informed that he and his subjects very much wish to hear news from Spain, and send therefore their Admiral, Christopher Columbus, who will tell them that they are in good health and perfect prosperity."

Prester John, who was still considered to be ruling in some mystical fashion over an imaginary country, might have welcomed this species of circular communication.[Pg 19] It was certainly wasted on the inhabitants of Hispaniola, who were considerably more concerned with their own health and prosperity than with that of Ferdinand and Isabella, and who certainly had more reason when the adventurers had once landed.

So to a certain extent armed and prepared against any chance that he might encounter, Columbus set sail from Spain on August 3, 1492.

Much has been said concerning the character of the crews with which he had been provided. It is true the American natives were destined in the first instance, by some peculiarly hard stroke of fortune, to make their acquaintance with Europeans largely through the intermediary of criminals. It is often held to have been one of the greatest hardships of Columbus that his ships should have been manned so largely by desperadoes and malefactors pardoned especially in order to take part in the expedition. In the peculiar circumstances of his first and exceptionally daring adventure the nature of his crew became of great and even of vital importance. It is certain, however, that Columbus himself obviously suffered no permanent discouragement on account of the men of his first crew, for he subsequently advocated the transportation of criminals to the Indies, and, further, urged that any person having committed a crime (with the exception of those of heresy, lèse majesté, and treason) should have the option of ordinary imprisonment, or of going out at his own expense to Hispaniola to serve under the orders of the Admiral.

These edicts were actually brought into force, and although Columbus some years afterwards bitterly complained of the type of European whom he found at Hispaniola, there is no doubt that he himself was largely responsible for their presence. Nevertheless, speaking generally, Columbus was not alone in being served[Pg 20] by this species of retainer, for the custom, borrowed from the Portuguese, was a general one, and where volunteers failed, their places were supplied by the dregs of the prisons. One of the principal charges brought against Columbus was that, in addition to his alleged maltreatment of his own men, he had refrained from baptizing Indians, and this because he had desired slaves rather than Christians. He was accused, moreover, of having made many slaves in order to send them to Castile. Of course, there is no doubt whatever as to the truth of this latter charge; but Columbus was not alone in this respect—indeed, at that time there was no single adventurer who had penetrated to these new regions without making slaves whenever the opportunity arose. And it may be said in common fairness to the individual explorers that no other method was understood, and that this procedure was considered entirely legitimate.

It is unnecessary to enter here into the troubles and tribulations of Columbus's first voyage. The details of the men's discontent and of the leader's courage, persistence, and strategy have been the subject of thousands of works. The great contrition, moreover, of his mutinous crew, when after five weeks' sailing they sighted land, and their sudden admiration and almost worship of the great navigator, afford too familiar a subject to be dealt with here. Suffice to say that Columbus took possession of this first land—the island which he believed to form part of a continent—in the name of the Crown of Castile and Leon, christening this herald of a new world San Salvador.

For a while the shock of this triumph appears to have deadened all other considerations, but only for a while. Columbus, like every other navigator of the period, had gone out in search of glory, and of gilded glory for preference. The very first thought, therefore, which took[Pg 21] possession of the minds of both the Admiral and his men, when the first exultation had died away in favour of more practical affairs, was that of gold. To this end they cruised about the new seas, visiting Cuba, Haiti (or Hispaniola), and other islands.

After a while Columbus discovered some traces of the coveted metal, but these to his heated imagination were mere chance fragments of the golden mountains and valleys which lay somewhere beyond. It was time, he determined, to seek for further assistance. Leaving a small company of the Spaniards in the Island of Haiti, the inhabitants of which had proved themselves friendlily disposed, he sailed for Europe, taking with him such specimens of the New World as he thought would chiefly appeal to the Spanish Court. Among this merchandise were samples of the products of the Western Islands, small nuggets of gold, and human merchandise in the way of captive Indians.

When his heavily-laden ships arrived in Spain the entire nation broke out into thunders of acclamation. Queen Isabella received him with even more than her accustomed amount of graciousness, while the coldness which had characterized Ferdinand's attitude towards him had now become altered to fervent enthusiasm.

The Court of Spain, convinced of the value of these new possessions, lost no time in applying to Pope Alexander VI. for his sanction of their dominion over the New World. This the Pope granted, drawing the famous line from Pole to Pole, which was to serve as a dividing line between the colonies of Spain and Portugal.

Columbus, in the meanwhile, was preparing for his second voyage. Naturally enough, this was conducted under very different auspices from the first. It was now a proud fleet which, favoured by the trade winds, ploughed its way to the south-west, manned by a numerous, in[Pg 22]fluential, and in many cases aristocratic, company. The advent of this second fleet to Haiti brought about the first of the innumerable collisions between the Europeans and the natives of America. Of the garrison which Columbus had left in the island none remained. There was scarcely a trace, moreover, of the existence of the rough fort which had been constructed. The manner of the natives had altered; they received the new-comers with marked evidences of fear and distrust.

After a while the truth came out. Some members of the European garrison had taken upon themselves to maltreat the natives, and these, resenting this, had turned upon their aggressors and slaughtered them to a man, after which they had burned the fort to the ground. In order to inculcate the necessary terror into the unfortunate inhabitants a fearful revenge was wreaked on them by Columbus's men, and the unhappy people of Haiti paid for their act in floods of blood and tears. This continued until the Indians became for the time being thoroughly cowed. Subsequently they were set to work to dig for gold and other metals in order to enrich the pioneers.

As time went on the natives were ground down more and more, and set to tasks for which they were temperamentally quite unsuited. Death became rife among their ranks, and the hardships endured drove them to open rebellion. The armour and weapons of the Spaniards rendered any attempts of the kind abortive, and massacres and torturing completed the enslaving process of the wretched race.

Communication between the New and Old World was at that time, of course, slow and precarious in the extreme. Nevertheless, tidings of what was going on in the island of Hispaniola at length found their way to the ears of Ferdinand and Isabella. To these were added a number of[Pg 23] reports, for the most part fabricated by Columbus's enemies, of the tyranny of the Admiral and of his ill-treatment of Spaniards of good birth. Columbus, leaving his brother Bartholomew in charge of the new dominions, returned to Spain, confronted his enemies, and was able to refute the accusations brought against him. As regards the allegations of ill-treatment of the Spaniards this was easily enough disproved; as regards the Indians the matter was not so simple, for, to do them justice, Ferdinand and Isabella were keenly anxious to prevent any tyranny or ill-treatment of their new and remote subjects.

Columbus, having regained the confidence of his Sovereigns, started on his third voyage in the beginning of 1496. On this occasion he discovered Trinidad, coasted along the borders of Guiana, and saw for the first time the Islands of Cubagua and Margarita. In Haiti the Admiral found a discontented community. His two brothers, Bartholomew and Diego, had become unpopular with the Spaniards, who were chafing beneath their authority. The arrival of Columbus caused a temporary lull in the disputes, but after a while the power of the malcontents grew steadily, and their accounts of what was to the fore in Haiti, although wilfully garbled and exaggerated, began to bear weight with the Royal Family of Spain.

Columbus, in the first instance, had stipulated for the sole command of the fleets of the New World. This was well enough in theory, but in practice the concession was almost immediately broken into. Other expeditions started out from Spain to the New World. Alonso Ojeda, who had accompanied Columbus on his second voyage, now came out in command of an expedition of his own. In his company was Amerigo Vespucci, whose graphic and fanciful account of his own particular doings resulted[Pg 24] eventually in the naming of the entire continent after him. In 1499 Alonso Niño led an expedition out from Spain, followed shortly after by another commanded by Pinzon. In the meantime Brazil was being explored by the great Portuguese, Pedro Alvarez Cabral.

To return to Columbus, the glory of the great navigator had now waned. As the years intervened between the date of his great feat and his less glorious present, his record became stale and forgotten, while the power and influence of his enemies grew. In the year 1500 Columbus was sent to Spain—in chains this time. On his arrival Ferdinand and Isabella, shocked at this state of affairs, endeavoured to make some minor reparation to the greatest man of his age. They were nevertheless firm in refusing to allow him to continue as Governor of Hispaniola and the new territories, and to this post was appointed Nicolas de Ovando.

This latter took out the first really imposing expedition which had set sail for Hispaniola. The welfare of the Indians had been strictly committed to his charge by Ferdinand and Isabella. Numerous humane laws had been drawn up for the protection of the natives, and these, it was intended, should be rigidly enforced. Nevertheless, the thousands of miles of intervening ocean rapidly deprived these of any semblance of authority, and the misery and mortality of the men of Hispaniola continued unabated.

Although to a certain extent deserted and discredited, Columbus determined to make one more desperate effort to draw himself clear of the oblivion which was now enveloping him. With a fleet of four small vessels he set sail from Cadiz on May 9, 1502. Perhaps on this occasion his mortification was greater than ever before. Ovando, the Governor, would have nothing to do with him. Having suffered shipwreck and numerous other[Pg 25] calamities besides, the great navigator, embittered and downcast, turned the bows of his ships towards Spain. On landing he learned of the death of Queen Isabella, the only person of influence who had shown him a consistent friendship. Realizing now that his influence and chances had finally departed, he retired into seclusion in the neighbourhood of Vallodolid, where he died in his sixtieth year on May 20, 1506.

[Pg 26]



The pioneer conquistadores of South America afford an interesting study. Such men as those who took their lives in their hands and sailed out into the unknown were actuated by two motives—the love of adventure and the desire of gain. There is no doubt that the second consideration by far outweighed the first. A man of the period left Spain or Portugal for the New World for one cogent reason only, to seek his fortune. If he won fame in the achievement of this, so much the better. Indeed, as a matter of fact, it was generally impossible to achieve the one without the other, although this fame might frequently have its shield sullied and blackened by a number of wild and terrible acts; for circumstances tended to make the conquistador what he almost invariably became, a daring being who let the lives of no others stand in the way of his own interests.

He was not, as was the case with corresponding officials of a later epoch, sent out on an accurately defined mission for which his emoluments were definitely fixed and guaranteed by the Home Government. The conquistador nearly always risked much of his own before he set sail from his native land. A man was seldom given a Governorship, even of an unknown region in the New World, unless he showed himself prepared to finance in part an expedition which should be of sufficient importance to[Pg 27] furnish the new territory with men and live-stock, and everything else of the kind.

The conquistador, in fact, was generally the active partner in an enterprise which was largely commercial. Sometimes his sleeping partners were the merchants of Spain; sometimes it was the King himself who joined in the venture; at others it was both King and merchants who jointly assisted the pioneer. But it was very seldom that an adventurer of the kind succeeded in obtaining an important concession unless he were prepared to subsidize it heavily from his own pocket.

We may instance Pedro de Mendoza. It was the part he had played in the sack of Rome which enabled this wealthy adventurer to organize the great expedition which set sail for the Provinces of the River Plate. Here we have the curious anomaly of the Church being robbed by a mercenary, and the money obtained by the loot employed in an object which was ostensibly in the interests of the Church in the New World. In order to satisfy the public nearer home, it is true that the conquistadores were almost invariably accompanied by priests; but once well without the jurisdiction of Rome, Spain, and Portugal, they took very good care that the priests should not interfere in their concerns. Having been accepted as a guarantee of good faith, their sphere of utility had ended with the arrival in the New World so far as the conquistadores were concerned. Many of them became active participants in the wild deeds of the conquistadores. Did they, on the other hand, show themselves desirous of protesting, the more reckless pioneers made strenuous attempts to muzzle their eloquence.

When the spirit of the age and the circumstances in which these adventurers sailed to the South-West are considered, many of the atrocities committed are less to be wondered at than would otherwise be the case. It may[Pg 28] be taken for granted, in the first place, that the temperament of these men was sufficiently wild and reckless to cause them to embark in any extraordinarily perilous enterprise of the kind. With all they had in the world sunk in the venture, they would move heaven and earth, and squander countless human beings, before admitting defeat. The failure of Indian labour meant financial ruin; this was frequently staved off at the cost of thousands and tens of thousands of lives. Such characteristics as these were by no means confined to the Spaniards and Portuguese. We have some terribly vivid examples of it on the part of the Welzers, the German merchant princes who contracted with Charles V. to subdue and settle Venezuela. Sir Clements Markham relates that the first Governor of the new colony, an official of the name of Alfinger, came out with a strong force in 1530. On his marches he would employ many hundreds of native porters; these men were chained together in long lines, each slave having a ring round his neck made fast to the chain. When one of the slaves was too ill or too exhausted to proceed any farther, Alfinger had the unfortunate wretch's head severed from his body, so that the body dropped away from the chain without the march being hindered. It is difficult to imagine a more callous or atrocious proceeding than this, but undoubtedly financial considerations lay at the bottom of it. The thing was done, perhaps, pour encourager les autres, and certainly many a poor staggering wretch marched on mile after mile, when under ordinary circumstances he would have dropped exhausted at an earlier stage. Thus the last atom of physical energy was wrenched by terror from the slaves—a species of economy which, if worked out wholesale, may have proved sufficiently profitable from their owner's point of view!

Long even after the passing of the pioneer conquista[Pg 29]dores the methods of the Spanish Court encouraged abuses of authority and many acts of tyranny. Officials, such as Governors and even Viceroys, were wont to pay certain sums down for the transference of the tenure of office, and it was then their task to wring as much from the governed territory as possible in order that they might retire from the New World to the Old the owners of vast fortunes.

To expect fair government under conditions such as these was to conceive human beings on a higher plane than that on which they are wont to be planned. Indeed, notwithstanding the atrocities and financial iniquities which were rife throughout Spanish and Portuguese Colonies, to imagine the various officials as necessarily inhuman and criminal is, of course, absurd. Many of these were men of talent, and of merciful and gentle disposition; but in many even of these cases the altogether extraordinary influence and atmosphere of the Southern Continent ended by driving them to acts from which in Europe they would have shrunk whole-heartedly. The dispositions of the men were not invariably at fault; but the system under which they worked was never anything else.

It is time, however, to forsake generalization, and to return to the Spanish pioneers who first colonized Haiti, and then set foot on the mainland itself. In the ill-fated island the drama, begun with the advent of the Spaniards, was being continued in deeper and bloodier shades. The royal edicts came pompously out from Spain, commanding that the welfare of the Indians should be the first consideration on the part of the Colonial Government; but the thunder of such edicts, worn out by the voyage, died away ere they reached the island. Ovando, it is true, made some endeavours to act up to the spirit of these enactments; but in view of the condition of the labour market[Pg 30] and the clamourings of the settlers it was, humanly speaking, impossible to carry this out.

As time went on both settlers and Governors accustomed themselves to treat the aborigines rather as beasts of burden than as men, and they were hunted, slain, or driven to labour with as little compunction as if they had been pack-mules. The slightest sign of revolt was wont to be punished by an outlet of blood which left the unfortunate folk cowering in deeper terror and despair than before. The utter misery of the Indians may be imagined when the measures they took to free themselves are taken into consideration, for in the end they adopted the plan of committing suicide as the only means of cheating the rapacity of their white oppressors. Native families, and even entire villages, found gloomy consolation in a self-sought death. Even in this they were not invariably successful. Perhaps never has the irony of fate been more strongly illustrated than in the tale that is told of one large slave-owner and his human chattels.

These latter, having come to the end of their endurance, had determined to follow the example of so many in the neighbourhood, and to do away with themselves in a body. The Spaniard, however, received notice of the intention of these people in time. Hastening to the spot, he came upon them just as they were preparing to effect their end. He was undoubtedly a crafty being, this. Proceeding into the midst of the distraught folk, he called for a rope. This, he explained, was in order that he, too, might hang himself and thus accompany the Indians to the next world, where they would thus still remain his slaves. The ruse proved entirely successful. The credulous Indians became, as it were, horrified back to life at the idea; they abandoned the attempt upon their lives, and continued in sorrowful despair to serve their Spanish owner.[Pg 31]

In 1509 Ovando sailed back to Spain, and some return was made to Columbus's family for the part he had played in the discovery of the new Colonies. His son, Diego, came out, having been endowed with the titles of Viceroy and Admiral. Thus the Court of Spain had at last conceded some of the privileges which had been so effectually won by his father. It is certain enough that the experiences of Diego's generation were very different from those of his father's. The new Commander took up his residence in state in Haiti, where he lived with great pomp and style. The Indians, however, it is said, suffered more under his Governorship than had been their lot under that of his predecessor.

The tide of conquest was flowing past the islands, and beginning to spend itself on the continent. In 1508 began the actual colonization of the Spanish Main. The first territories to which the Spaniards made their way were those which gave on the Gulf of Darien. Here a companion of Columbus in his second voyage, Alonso de Ojeda, was given the district extending from the Cape de la Vela to the Gulf of Uraba, and this territory was termed the Land of New Andalusia. Another adventurer, Nicuesa, came as his neighbour, holding the Governorship of the coast from the Gulf of Uraba to the Cape Gracias a Dios. These two conquistadores, although as jealous of each other as was usual with almost all these pioneer explorers, joined forces against the Indians, whom they attempted to subdue by means of an iron hand rather than by a silk glove. The Indians, however, proved themselves of a very warlike disposition, and the joint forces of the Spaniards were unable to crush the power of the aborigines. After a while the leaders were obliged to withdraw their forces from the district they had occupied.

Some while afterwards Nuñez de Balboa took charge[Pg 32] of Uraba. On his arrival he found that matters on the Gulf of Darien had reached a desperate pitch. As the fortunes of the Spaniards had waned, the confidence of the Indians had increased. There is no doubt that the majority of men would have recoiled from the task which faced Balboa when he found himself at the head of a number of starving Spaniards, scarcely able to maintain their precarious foothold in a hostile country.

Balboa gathered together the despairing remnants, and contrived to put fresh heart into his men. He then turned to the Indians, and won their esteem by his considerate treatment. He proved himself, in fact, in every respect an able and successful leader. It was in 1512 that he set out on his famous expedition across the Isthmus, and won his way to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. It was certainly not the least dramatic moment in the history of early America when Balboa, in a frenzy of joy, seized the flag of Castile, and, holding it aloft, plunged his body into the waters of the ocean, claiming it for his King. As was the fate of so many able men of that period, it was not long before Balboa was superseded. The fine governmental structure he had built up was very soon wrecked by his successor and superior, Pedrarias. Friendly communication with the Indians was ruthlessly broken off. The natives were chased unmercifully by bloodhounds, and numbers slain.

Balboa, chafing beneath a situation which must have been keenly distressing to him, was suspected by Pedrarias, and arrested. The Bishop, Quevado, however, intervened in favour of the single-minded ex-Governor; a reconciliation of a kind was patched up, and, in order to strengthen this, Balboa was officially betrothed to the daughter of Pedrarias—a purely political move this, since Balboa was already united to the dusky daughter of Careta, an aboriginal chief. There is matter for the[Pg 33] novelist here and to spare; few situations can be found which hold more possibilities. In this case they led to the death of Balboa, which would probably have happened irrespective of the strange situation in which he found himself. The cause, however, was merely renewed jealousy on the part of the Governor. Balboa had prepared a further expedition of discovery, so thoroughly, indeed, that the suspicions of Pedrarias were again needlessly aroused. A mock trial brought about a real catastrophe, which ended in the beheading of Balboa in 1547, at the age of forty-two.

In the meanwhile much had been happening in the neighbourhood. Charles V. found himself in some danger of running short of men in the face of these tremendous additions to his empire. He farmed out a portion of these new Colonies, contracting with the Welzers, merchant princes of Augsberg, in Germany, to take charge of and to extend the settlements in that part of the continent which is now known as Venezuela.

An official of the name of Alfinger was appointed as the first Governor of this new settlement. He is said to have practised the most barbarous cruelties on the unfortunate Indians, some of which have already been referred to. Alfinger was succeeded by other officials of his nationality, who are said to have proved themselves somewhat less cruel rulers. But, on the whole, this colonizing scheme of the Welzers proved a dreary failure; they had little interest in the permanent occupation of the country, and sought merely for the gold and precious metals. Thus, with the knowledge that their occupation would be shortlived, they forced the Indians to ever more strenuous labours than those to which they were accustomed even at the hands of the Spaniards. In the end the country became depopulated. The Welzers shrugged their shoulders, and admitted that their utility was at an end in that[Pg 34] district. With this the Spaniards took possession of the country once again.

Gonzalo Jimines de Quesada now became prominent as a conquistador in the territory to the north of Peru, known then as New Granada. Quesada himself, although he lacked nothing of the courage and determination (frequently of a merciless order) of the average conquistador, was undoubtedly endowed with certain attributes which were possessed by very few of these hardy pioneers. For one thing he was scholarly; he had been given an elaborate education, and knew well how to put it to the best purposes. Quesada led an expedition up the Magdalena River. He had for companion Benalcazar. They approached the country from the south, occupied Popagan and Pasto, and founded Guayaquil. They also penetrated the Valley of Curacua and Bogotá, and thus traversed the whole Province. This brought them into contact with the Chibcha Indians. In the end these unfortunate beings were completely subdued, their civilization destroyed, and they themselves divided as slaves among the Spaniards.

Quesada, accompanied by a band of mercenary Indians, started on his journey in order to seek for gold. He was, in the first place, received in a friendly way by the natives; but in the end these, dreading the greed which the invaders took no trouble to conceal, attacked them. The warfare between the Spaniards and the natives commenced, with the conquest of the natives as the result, as given above. It has already been explained that many of the characteristics of the Incas and of the Chibchas were curiously alike. In history this extended even to the fate of the respective Royal Families. Pizarro slew Atahualpa; Quesada was even more thorough. For not[Pg 35] only did he destroy the Prince of the Chibchas, but the whole of the Royal Family as well.

These acts do not appear to have lain very heavily on the conscience of Quesada, if fruitful years be any test. The tough old conquistador lived to the age of eighty, expiring in the year 1579. In 1597 it is said that his body was taken to Bogotá Cathedral.

[Pg 36]



It still remains a point of dispute between the Spanish and Portuguese nations as to who was the discoverer of Brazil. There is, moreover, Amerigo Vespucci. Amerigo Vespucci may be said to have been more successful in his accounts of his voyages than in the feats which he actually accomplished. To have succeeded on such slender foundation in causing an entire Continent to be christened by his name was in itself no mean performance, and this was probably his greatest claim to distinction.

Some historians take him more seriously than this. Southey, for one, appears to accept Vespucci very much at his own valuation, and states that the honour of having formed the first settlement in Brazil is due to Amerigo Vespucci.

The Spaniards claim this distinction for their famous seaman, Vicente Pinzon. Pinzon sailed from Spain in December, 1499. He shaped a more southerly course than any previous navigator in the Spanish service, and he appears to have made his landfall in the neighbourhood of Pernambuco. He went ashore, it would seem, at a spot he named Cape Consolation, and of this he took possession in the name of the Spanish Crown. His voyage, however, appears to have had very little practical result, for almost immediately afterwards he returned to Europe, and no steps seem to have been taken[Pg 37] by the Spanish Court for the colonization of the land which he had discovered.

From a seventeenth-century engraving.

The Portuguese, for their part, assert that the territories of Brazil were first sighted by their great navigator, Pedro Alvarez Cabral. The discovery was in one sense something of an accident. It was necessary for the seamen who were setting their course for the East Indies to steer well to the west, in order to avoid the zones of calms which prevail in the neighbourhood of the African coast. Cabral appears to have steered so boldly into the west that he fell in with the coast of Brazil. This was in 1500. Word of this event was sent to Portugal, and the enterprising little kingdom, at that time at the height of her maritime power, made preparations to colonize the country.

The auspices under which the Spaniards and the Portuguese arrived in the New World were curiously different. The Spaniards were frankly in quest of gold, and in many cases ransacked the fertile agricultural lands in search of minerals which were non-existent. The Portuguese, on the other hand, had no reason to suspect the presence of precious metals in their new colony, and it was in the first instance for its vegetable products that the land, so rich in minerals, became famed.

It was only natural that the pioneer Portuguese should have been struck with the admirable quality of the valuable Brazilian woods. Shipments of timber were the first to be sent from the new colony to the Mother Country. It was from this very wood that Portuguese South America took its name, since much of it, being of a brilliant red colour, was known in the Portuguese language as "brasa."

Just about this time the Portuguese fitted out the most imposing fleet which had ever left their shores. It was commanded by one of the greatest of Portuguese ex[Pg 38]plorers, Vasco da Gama, and was destined to sail round the Cape of Good Hope to the Indies—the new and marvellous land of spices. The fleet was worthy of its commander; it was made up of no fewer than thirteen vessels, and was manned by some 1,200 men.

With pomp and ceremony this imposing Armada sailed away from the blue waters of the Tagus, and, rounding the sunlit bluff, stood away to the south. It made the Canaries in the usual way, passed the Cape Verde Islands, and struck out to the west, lighting on the Brazilian coast in latitude 17° south—that is to say, not far from the spot where stands the present town of Bahia. From this point Vasco da Gama sailed southward, keeping touch with the coast. He eventually established communication with the Indians, who were, as was usual in these latitudes, quite naked, their bodies being painted, and who wore great bones in their ears and in their slit lips and noses.

A criminal, one of the type which seems to have been brought out for purposes such as this, was landed in order to dwell among the natives, to test their temper and habits—a somewhat precarious profession this! After a while the fleet sailed from the place they named Port Seguro, leaving two of these criminals or degradados—professional pioneers—behind. These "were seen lamenting and crying upon the beach, and the men of the country comforting them, demonstrating that they were not a people devoid of pity."

This was the scene which presented itself to the eyes of the more fortunate mariners as they sailed away. Nevertheless, the criminals seem to have survived. No small advertisement, this, of the courtesy of the Indian tribe, for the people composing it must have belonged to one of the coastal races who afterwards were grimly famed for their ferocity.[Pg 39]

As a matter of fact, human instruments of the kind, which, it must be admitted, were of small merit, played no small part in the colonization of Brazil. In some respects these unfortunate folk were undoubtedly useful. They resembled the candles carried by underground miners. If the candle continued to burn, all was well; but if the candle went out, there was obviously danger in the air. Quite a number of these human candles went out in the course of the early Iberian explorations. In a sense there was sufficient justice in this, since they were criminals whose offences had been usually those of murder and violence. If, therefore, they escaped in the first instance with their lives, their penitence had been consummated, and they were free to take advantage of the land.

People of this kind had been set ashore to pave the way for their betters in Africa and in India, and this system was now extended to Brazil. When friendly relations were once established, it may be imagined that the influence of these criminals upon the savages was not of the best. According to Southey: "The Europeans were weaned from that human horror at the blood-feasts of the savages, which, ruffians as they were, they had at first felt, and the natives lost that awe and veneration for the superior races, which might have proved so greatly to their advantage."

In 1503 the Portuguese sent out an important expedition under Duarte Coelho. This leader explored the country in the neighbourhood of the Bay of Bahia. After this he proceeded southwards, and landed men in order to establish a small colony.

The first really important attempt at colonizing the country was undertaken by Martin Affonso de Souza. This navigator set out from Portugal in command of many ships and men. Like Coelho, he struck the Brazilian[Pg 40] coast at Bahia; but, instead of proceeding to the south, as his predecessor had done, he remained for some while at the spot. It is said that when De Souza landed he fell in with a Portuguese of the name of Correia. This worthy is supposed to have formed one of Cabral's expedition. For some reason or other he was marooned at that place. The Indians, instead of slaying him, had conceived a great veneration for this white man, who had, as it were, dropped from the clouds into their midst. The marooned sailor had become a kind of professional adviser, whose counsel was sought by the natives on every important occasion. Many of the early navigators maintain that the comparatively easy colonization of this portion of the Brazilian coast was due to the presence of the much-esteemed Correia.

Bahia rapidly became the most important of these early Portuguese settlements. In the first instance it was, of course, extremely difficult for the few bands of daring Portuguese to make any practical impression on the huge slice of coast which had fallen to their share. The experiences of the first colonists, moreover, were destined to differ considerably from those of the pioneer Spaniards. The latter had their field of exploration practically to themselves. The Portuguese, on the other hand, found rivals in the South Seas almost as soon as the prows of their ships had pierced the waters. The Dutch eventually were destined to become by far the most formidable of these; but in the first instance the chief friction occurred with the French.

Just at this period the Gallic sailors awoke to a strong interest in Brazil, and the French vessels carried numbers of warlike and industrial adventurers to the tropical shores. Even before 1530 a French factory had been established at Pernambuco, but a circumstance of far greater importance was that these French rovers discovered the[Pg 41] magnificent harbour of Rio de Janeiro, sailed into the narrow entrance between the lofty peaks, and founded a colony there before the Portuguese had obtained the opportunity of a permanent footing in that place.

The leader of these troops was Nicolas Durant de Villegagnon, and his men comprised a number of Huguenots who were abandoning France. Villegagnon's own character appears to have been complex and curious in the extreme. He was apparently a true blade of the old swashbuckling type; he employed religion for such ends as he might have in view at the moment, regarding its tenets cynically, tongue in cheek. Thus he came out in command of the Huguenots, ostensibly himself a Huguenot; but his convictions appear to have changed on various occasions, and he is seen now as their abettor, now as their oppressor. In the end he clearly showed himself antagonistic to the convictions of his followers, and took to denouncing them as heretics. With the exception of this leader, the circumstances and motives of the expedition were somewhat similar to those which caused the first emigration of the English Puritans to North America.

Once established in Rio de Janeiro, the Huguenots succeeded in making friends with the Indians of the neighbourhood, who became their firm allies and proved of great assistance to the French in their struggles against the Portuguese, who came down in force to evict the intruders. The Huguenots were defeated in 1560 by Mem de Sa, the third Governor of Brazil; but, although dispersed for a while, the power of the invaders was by no means broken. Shortly afterwards they came together again, and succeeded in establishing themselves more firmly than before in the place. They were again fiercely attacked by the Portuguese, but the number of islands in the bay afforded excellent points of defence, and it was[Pg 42] not until 1567 that the Portuguese sea and land forces combined were able to expel the last Frenchmen from the mountains which lay about the harbour of Rio de Janeiro. This, as a matter of fact, was merely a foretaste of much of the active and aggressive competition in matters of colonization from which the Portuguese were destined to suffer.

Before arriving at the subject of the predatory expeditions of the various nations in South America, it would be as well to consider the initial methods taken by the early Portuguese settlers. In the first instance the partition of so vast an extent of territory among so small a number of colonists was necessarily effected in a crude and tentative fashion. The great colony was divided into capitaneas, or counties, each of which possessed a coast-line of 150 miles. A Governor was appointed to each capitanea. As was perhaps natural, the powers of each of these officials, more or less isolated as each was, grew rapidly—to such an extent, indeed, that the home authorities in Portugal became anxious to curb the occasional eccentricities of some of the more despotic of these. In order to effect this, Thomé de Souza was made Captain-General of Brazil, and was sent out to that country provided with numerous officials and troops. He established his headquarters at Bahia, and the size of the town increased in consequence. In 1572 Brazil was divided into two governmental areas, Bahia being recognized as the capital of the north, and Rio de Janeiro as the capital of the southern portion. This division, however, only lasted for five years. Brazil in the meanwhile was becoming populous, and had taken its place as the largest among the regular Portuguese colonies throughout the world.

It was not long before the jealousies between the Spanish and Portuguese led to various outbreaks and to troubles on the frontiers. From a purely practical point[Pg 43] of view, there is no doubt whatever that such bickerings were a sheer absurdity, since the territories at the disposal of both nations were far too great to be effectively dealt with by any forces which either the Spanish or Portuguese could introduce into the Continent. As it was, the era was one of moulding and experiments. Even at the present day it would seem difficult to decide whether many of these latter have proved themselves definite successes or undoubted failures. The general conditions of the New World at this period are well worthy of note.

No doubt South America has been more widely experimented upon in the colonizing sense than any other Continent. The methods of the Spaniards and Portuguese were by no means similar throughout. Indeed, the principles adopted by the four greatest colonizing nations of the age—the Spanish, the Portuguese, the English, and the Dutch—were all distinguished from each other by various important features.

The British, where they came into contact with dark-skinned races of inferior vigour and individual power, made a point of holding aloof, so far as the more important social points were concerned. Thus in India and in Africa the gulf between the white and the black has continued unbridged. The representatives of the British have remained as a governing race, relying upon the strict justice of their rule for its preservation. They have refrained from interference in the thousand jealousies and caste regulations with which the East Indies were, and are, honeycombed, becoming active only when oppression became barefaced. These officials, that is to say, have made a point of respecting the religions of the various tribes, and have even encouraged them to continue unmolested.

As a result, the Governors, as a body, won the respect, and even the reverence, of a great mass of the populace, but gained comparatively little actual and personal[Pg 44] affection. They were subjected to the jealousy of the fakirs in India, of the witch-doctors in Africa, and of other dusky fanatics who had been accustomed to oppress the rank and file of the populace before the advent of the European civilization.

The Dutch pursued a policy very similar to that of the English. They were essentially just in their rule, and they won the wholesale respect of the subject races. Their methods of governing, however, were usually more severe than those of the British, and as a rule the discipline they enforced was considerably stronger. This has been evidenced in Africa and elsewhere.

The Iberian system of colonization was in general totally different. Even the Spaniards, far less spontaneously genial than the Portuguese, encouraged an intimacy between their colonists and the subject races of a kind unknown in the Anglo-Saxon and Teutonic circles. It is true that in the first instance the Spaniards slaughtered hundreds of thousands of natives. But these wholesale killings were on account of no social convictions; they were merely the result of an overpowering greed for gold and of too harsh a method of enforcing labour. The colour question, as between Spaniard and native, scarcely ruffled the social surface of the colonies. This was not altogether to be wondered at when the antecedents of these bold Spanish colonial pioneers are taken into consideration.

A dusky tide from Africa had flooded the half of Spain, and had remained there for centuries, until the southern Spaniard, who lived in the midst of Moorish conquerors, tolerantly treated and allowed almost entire religious freedom, forgot the hostility towards his traditional enemy, and became oblivious of questions of colour. So much so was this the case that the Christian services were wont, after a time, to be conducted in Arabic, a[Pg 45] system which evoked horrified protests from Bishops in other parts. Be that as it may, it is certain that the Spaniards had, with the sole exception of the Portuguese, been more concerned with the African races and dark blood than any other nation in Europe. Thus, once in South America, although the actual helplessness of the Indians was immediately remarked and taken advantage of, no question of inferiority from a mere racial point of view arose. The Indian went to the wall, not because he was an Indian, but because his powers were less than those of the European who had invaded his lands.

From a portrait in colour in a Spanish MS. (Sloane, 197, fol. 18) in the British Museum.

If this was the case with the Spaniard, it was far more marked in the case of the Portuguese. In some respects, perhaps, no nation colonized with quite the same amount of enthusiasm as this. Its pioneers once definitely settled in the country, whichever it might be, there arose no question of looking upon the new conquest as a place to be resided in for a certain number of years and no more. The Portuguese went to the east and to the south-west to make themselves part and parcel of the soil of the country they had annexed. To this end they mingled from the very start with the natives, and inter-married with an entire want of restraint with the Indian women.

Thus from the very inception of the Portuguese colonial era we are confronted with a race of half-castes, and we see the forces brought about by a mixture of blood and climatic conditions working more powerfully in the Portuguese colonies than in any others. The result was, in one sense, the formation of a new race, and an almost complete absence of rebellion and native unrest in those parts where genuine civilization had been attempted. That the race as a whole lost its European vigour and its northern principles was inevitable. This was the price of peace.

The subject is one into which climatic influence enters[Pg 46] largely. Many of the districts of Brazil were not, and are not, in the least suited as a permanent place of residence for the white man. Were an attempt to be made to populate such places as these by Europeans, it could only be done by means of a continual change of inhabitants. That is to say, each resident, having spent a certain number of years in the spot, must be succeeded by another in order to preserve the integrity and vigour of the race.

Portugal, with an extraordinary generosity, flung her handful of white colonists into the vast lands she had discovered, and hoped by this means to raise the leaven of the whole. In India, as exemplified in Goa, the result has met with scant success. In Brazil, however, where the proportion of white to black was greater, a race of intellect and culture has been developed, although occasionally subject to the mental paroxysms of the dwellers in the tropics. In any case it may be said that the colour question has never existed in Brazil—so far, at all events, as the Indian is concerned. It was necessarily in evidence to a certain extent upon the first introduction of the negro slave, but even here the question has become of less and less importance, until, at the present day, the negro has in Brazil probably a more congenial resting-place than anywhere else in the world.

It must never be forgotten that these remarks as regards the Spanish colonies, and to almost as great an extent as regards the Portuguese, apply to the general run of the population. The majority of the leaders, both social and political, in all the South American colonies have been in the first instance, and have continued, men of good blood, and generally of ancient lineage, who have floated along with the rest, until they met with the inevitable current which bore them to the topmost of the new social layers. And once there, having been found the most fitting, they have remained.

[Pg 47]



The story of Pizarro and the Incas has been told many hundreds of times, yet owing to the sheer audacity of which its elements are composed it would seem to retain its interest almost unimpaired. That a mere handful of men should have banded themselves together to conquer a nation which counted its subjects by the hundred thousand, and which could claim a civilization that included great armies, remains almost beyond belief. The Incas themselves, moreover, were a conquering race, and their troops had marched to the north and to the south in their thousands, conquering nations less important than their own, and thus adding to the extent of the one formidable Empire of the Southern Continent.

Yet the downfall of these armies in this victorious State was achieved by less than two hundred European soldiers, led by the two fearless adventurers, Francisco Pizarro and Diego Almagro. These, accompanied by Hernando Luques, had begun to explore the neighbourhood of Panama in 1524. Every member of the force, it may be taken for granted, had a keen nose for gold, and it was not long before they came across some treasure of the kind which determined the leaders to possess themselves the country where the metal was to be found.

At this period the number of men commanded by Pizarro and Almagro was fewer even than the band with which they entered Peru. When it came to the know[Pg 48]ledge of the Spaniards that the country of their desire was in reality so formidable an Empire, Pizarro sailed to Spain in search of reinforcements, and returned accompanied by his brothers and by a force of 180 men. It was on Pizarro's arrival in America that the first serious breach occurred between Almagro and himself. This was brought about by the arrangements which Pizarro had concluded in Spain, and in which Almagro considered, doubtless rightfully, he had not been fairly dealt with by his partner.

After a while a truce was patched up between the pair, and in 1531 an expedition, carried in three small vessels, set sail for the South. The troops were landed on the Peruvian coast, and they marched inland, defeating such small forces as endeavoured to oppose their progress. The valour and greed of the little army were every day becoming more deeply stirred by the trophies of gold and silver which they captured as they went. Fate was fighting strongly in favour of these desperate Spaniards. No circumstances could have been better adapted to successful invasion than those which obtained when Pizarro and Almagro entered the country, although these adventurous spirits knew nothing of this at the time. The land was divided against itself, for the first time in the comparatively short Inca history. Atahualpa and Huasca, the two sons of the recently dead Inca, Huana Capac, were engaged in a fierce struggle for the throne.

This in itself was something of a shock to the devout subjects of the Inca race, looking as they did upon the Imperial Children of the Sun as superhuman beings. It was thus a war of demigods waged by doubting and diffident mortals. The arrival of the Spaniards increased, of course, the drama of the situation. At the period of their advent Huasca was obtaining the worst of the struggle, and, seeing the possibility of salvation in the[Pg 49] arrival of the newcomers, he sent to these beseeching their help. It can be imagined with what avidity Pizarro seized upon this pretext to enter into the domestic affairs of the nation. Atahualpa unconsciously helped to play the fate of the unfortunate Inca race still further into the hands of the Spaniards. Learning of the warlike might of the white man, he also sent an embassy of friendship to Pizarro, and a little later, in 1532, he started out in order to effect his first meeting with the strangers. This took place at Caxamalca.

From a seventeenth-century engraving.

In an evil moment for himself Atahualpa had determined to do his utmost to impress these foreigners from overseas with the evidence of his wealth and power. His body was covered with golden plates, armour, and decorations which shone with a strange brilliance as they flashed back the rays of the sun from its worshipper. He was attended, moreover, by a chosen company of nobles, whose adornments, although by comparison less splendid, were sufficient to cause the Spaniards' eyes to start from their heads with wonder and freshly-awakened lust.

Had the Inca come as a humble suppliant, the fate of the nation might have been postponed, if not altogether altered. The appearance of these resplendent beings signalled its instant doom. As Atahualpa was borne on his litter of state towards where Pizarro stood expectant in front of his soldiers, a priest strode forward, and, approaching him, urged him heatedly to embrace the religion of the Cross.

It is certain that the Inca understood nothing whatever of what was going on. What might have been his state of mind when he was handed the breviary is unknown; in any case he flung it to the ground. This was the signal for the attack on the part of the Spaniards. Drawing their swords, they flung themselves furiously upon the altogether unprepared Indians, slaying thousands of their[Pg 50] numbers. Pizarro himself, hacking and striking as he went, fought his way to the Inca's litter of state, and it was his own hand which dragged the unfortunate ruler from his golden chair. The next moment he was guarding his captive fiercely from the chance blows which were rained upon the dusky monarch by the Spaniards who went charging by. He knew well enough the value of the Inca alive and captive in his hands. It was for this reason alone that he warded off the blows which his men would have dealt the fallen Child of the Sun.

From "Histoire des Yncas."

The main onslaught had now died away. The field of the massacre was covered with the bodies of the dead and dying Peruvians; the rest had fled. Pizarro lost no time in improving the occasion from a financial point of view. A gallant knight, Fernando de Soto, was sent to the marvellous city of Cuzco—authorized both by the Inca and Pizarro—to despoil the temples of their treasures. Thus enormous hoards of gold and silver were obtained from the sacred buildings and from Atahualpa's loyal subjects as his ransom.

Even here Pizarro showed his want of good faith, for when the treasure demanded had been given up and amassed, he still retained the person of the Inca. Matters[Pg 51] of policy and personal dislike soon sealed the fate of this latter. In 1533 he was tried for his life. After a parodied performance of justice he was executed, although Fernando de Soto and a number of other Spaniards protested vigorously against the act.

From a purely political point of view it is likely enough that the crime was profitable; in any case it sent a shock throughout the bounds of the Inca Empire from which its dusky inhabitants never afterwards fully recovered. There was now no powerful claimant to the Inca throne. The wrongs suffered by the race at the hands of the Spaniards need not cover the fact that the Indians themselves frequently proved capable of tyrannical and sanguinary acts. Thus on the news of Atahualpa's capture his enraged adherents had slain Huasca, who by that time had become a prisoner in their hands.

Pizarro now determined to take an active share in the government of the country. Placing a son of Atahualpa's on the throne, and having received reinforcements of men and arms, he marched throughout the Province at the head of 500 men, carrying with him the puppet King upon whom he placed great hopes. The latter disappointed these, since he died in the course of the expedition. In some respects this was doubly unfortunate for Pizarro, as there now remained one clear claimant to the throne of the Children of the Sun—Manco Capac, the brother of Huasca.

Manco Capac was by no means prepared to yield tamely to the situation. For a considerable time very little was effected on either side. The Incas were slowly recovering from the shocks and tribulations which they had undergone; the Spaniards, on the other hand, found their attention occupied by the unexpected arrival of a Spanish expedition commanded by Pedro de Alvarado. This leader had performed his part in the conquest of[Pg 52] Mexico, and had now hastened to the South in order to ascertain what chances of enrichment were to be met with in the land, the reputation of which was now spreading itself abroad. For a while it looked very much as if open warfare would result between the rival parties. In the end, however, Pizarro consented to buy the departure of Alvarado, and this leader retired heavy in pocket. On the whole his visit had not proved unprofitable to the astute Pizarro, since many of Alvarado's men had remained in Peru to throw in their lot with him.

Pizarro and Almagro were now left in occupation of the Inca Empire. It was inevitable that jealousy should arise between the pair, and it was not long before the situation grew strained. Pizarro, true to his own interests, had insisted on returning to Spain in order to give an account of the doings in Peru. Needless to say, he employed the opportunity to obtain the royal sanction to advance still further his official position—somewhat at the expense of Almagro, of course. Almost directly after his return he founded the city of Lima, intending this to supersede Cuzco as the future capital of the country.

All this while the breach between Pizarro and Almagro had widened. In 1535 the latter, realizing that even the Empire of the Incas was not sufficiently large to hold the pair of Spanish leaders, determined to make for the South. The expedition was a tragic one. Almagro, though his spirit was undaunted, was now aged in years, and the barren country of the Atacama Desert and the attacks of the hostile Indians rendered the enterprise a failure from a monetary point of view. Almagro had invested all his fortune in this, and his affairs now became desperate.

From a seventeenth-century engraving.

In the meantime the crafty Pizarro had been permitted to enjoy very little peace and tranquillity in Peru. Manco Capac had bided his time, and his Indian subjects, fervently loyal to the sacred dynasty, had crowded about[Pg 53] him in their thousands. The Peruvians now assumed the aggressive. Thousands of Inca troops scoured the country, and, falling on remote and unprepared bands of Spaniards, obtained some modicum of revenge in slaughtering all they found.

From "Histoire des Yncas," Amsterdam, 1737.

Encouraged by such minor successes, the Inca army advanced against the main bodies of the Spaniards. Some historians place the numbers of the native troops at no fewer than 200,000. With astonishing suddenness the situation became altered. Pizarro found himself besieged in Lima, while his brothers, shut up in Cuzco, experienced an equal difficulty in beating off the attacks of the serried native ranks. Had the Spanish army in Peru been left to its own devices, there is no doubt but that their doom[Pg 54] would have been sealed. The irony of fate, however, chose this very moment for the return of Almagro. Marching up with his grim and travel-worn band, he found himself before Cuzco, surveying the beleaguered Spaniards and the investing Incas.

Manco Capac had gleaned something of the disputes between the European leaders. He made advances to Almagro, and did all he could to win him to his side; but Almagro, little cause though he had to love Pizarro, proved himself stanch. He was in consequence attacked by the Inca troops, but these he repulsed with heavy losses, and then entered Cuzco in triumph. Manco Capac himself escaped, and retired to the other side of the Andes.


Almagro was destined to receive small thanks for his intervention. The aged conquistador laid claim to the city as part of his own dominions, and this woke into fresh activity the warfare between himself and Francisco Pizarro. Almagro, defeated, lost his head, a white and seventy-year-old head though it was. His fate by no means ended the tragedies in Peru. The current of sinister events was running here in a strangely full flood. It was only three years afterwards that Pizarro himself was murdered by his enemies, the adherents of Almagro's[Pg 55] son, whom they wished to see elevated to the Governorship of the country, an event which actually occurred, although it proved of very short duration.

By the time this had come about, the power of the Incas had been broken for good and all, so far as practical purposes were concerned. Driven from their temples and strongholds, certain sections of the race survived, although among them were remarkably few of the noble families who had formed the salt of the land. Great numbers of the rank and file of the race met with the fate which was at that time so universal throughout the country, or rather in its metal-bearing lands. They were sent to the mines, and, worked and flogged to death, their numbers diminished with a ghastly rapidity. Some sections, more fortunate, were at a rather later age set to agriculture, and, forced to somewhat more congenial tasks than the first workers, they continued to serve the Spaniards.

[Pg 56]



The collisions with the various peoples of the Continent had now afforded the conquistadores an opportunity of testing the power of each. The force of the impact had, it is true, swept into the background the first peoples with whom they had come into contact; but, as the scanty numbers of the pioneers filtered across the new territories, they found that the task of annexation was by no means so easy in every case.

So far as a warlike spirit was concerned, the difference between the aboriginal tribes of the tropics and those of the southern regions was most marked. The Incas were, in many respects, a warlike race—that is to say, they had possessed themselves by force of arms of the country in the neighbourhood of Lake Titicaca, wresting this from whatever tribe of the Aymaras it was which, highly civilized, had held the land before them. This nucleus of empire, once obtained, they had spread to the south and to the north, and to a certain extent to the east, conquering all with whom they had come into contact, with the notable exception of the Araucanians in Southern Chile.

The Chibchas, too, in the far north, whose civilization in some respects equalled that of the Incas, might be termed a conquering race. They dominated the north of the Continent, and upheld their empire securely by[Pg 57] force of arms. Yet it is curious that both these nations, representing the chief civilizing and inventive powers of the Continent, presented nothing beyond the most futile resistance to the invaders. Their gods desecrated, their faith outraged, stung to utter fury and hate, even these passions failed to lead them to a single victory of consequence, notwithstanding the fact that their tens of thousands of warriors were faced by no more than a few dozen Spaniards. Disheartened by the terrifying onslaught of the men in mail mounted on gigantic horses, they appear to have reconciled themselves with melancholy submission to a fate which only on two or three occasions during the following centuries they endeavoured with any earnestness at all to disturb.

How different were the battles of the south! The Spaniards who found themselves face to face with the Araucanian Indians, and with those of the Pampa on the other side of the Andes, had a far more strenuous tale to tell. The armour which had resisted with such contempt the more delicate weapons of the Peruvians and of the northern warriors in general was crushed in and dented beneath the tremendous blows dealt by the clubs of the muscular and warlike Araucanians, who charged into the battle with a wild joy that left them as drunk with triumph at the end of the combat as they had been with their native spirit at the beginning.

These Araucanians were, indeed, born fighters. In common with the general run of mankind, it was their lot to be defeated from time to time. Nevertheless, they repaid the defeats frequently with very tragic interest; in any case, subdued by force of arms they certainly never were. Much the same may be said of the Indians of the Argentine and Uruguayan plains. The aggressive tactics here were by no means confined to the Spaniards. On the first landing of the conquistadores, these found[Pg 58] themselves, after having given provocation in the first instance, cooped up within the flimsy walls of their new settlements, surrounded by fierce and vindictive enemies, who charged on them from time to time with bewildering fury, choosing as often as not for the purpose the hour just before dawn, which they would make horrid with their warlike cries and shrill yells. These, too, remained entirely unsubdued to the last. They had the ill-fortune to be favoured with fewer natural advantages than the Araucanians. They had neither woodland valleys nor mountains in which to take shelter in the time of need. They fought on a plain which was as open as day, and as flat as a table from horizon to horizon. No crude strategy was possible—at all events, in the daytime—and the attack of the charging Indians was necessarily visible from a distance of leagues.

From time to time a certain number of these fierce tribesmen were captured, but their fiery spirits could brook no domestic tasks, and when, at a very much later date, some of them were shipped upon a Spanish man-of-war with the purpose of testing their value as sailors, they rose in mutiny and slew many officers and men, and, indeed, obtained temporary control of the ship, until, seeing the uselessness of further efforts, they flung themselves overboard in a body.

It was the ancestors of such men as these who had in the first instance disputed the soil with the Spaniards. There is no doubt that, while the metal-bearing lands fell into the opened mouths of the Spaniards as easily as over-ripe plums, the maintaining of a foothold in the southern plains was a precarious and desperate matter. As has been said, the natural topographical advantages of Southern Chile made the wars here the grimmest and fiercest of all those waged throughout the Continent. The mere names of Caupolicán and Lautaro[Pg 59] suffice to recall a galaxy of Homeric feats. The deeds of the two deserve a passing word of explanation.

It was the Chief Caupolicán who organized the first resistance to the invaders on a large scale, and who led his armies with a marvellous intrepidity against the Spaniards. He initiated a new species of attack, which proved very trying to the white troops. He would divide his men into a number of companies, and send one after another to engage the Spanish forces. Thus the first company would charge, and would engage for awhile, fighting desperately. Then they would retire at their leisure, to be succeeded without pause by the second, and so on. According to some of the older historians, it was by this method that Valdivia's forces were overcome on the occasion when the entire Spanish army, including its brave leader, was massacred.

The other famous chief, Lautaro, received his baptism of spears and of fire under the leadership of Caupolicán. Lautaro was probably the greatest scourge from which the Spaniards in Chile ever suffered. Twice he demolished the town of Concepcion, and once he pursued their retreating forces as far as Santiago itself. In an engagement on the outskirts of this city the victorious chief was killed, and after his death a certain amount of the triumphant spirit of the Indians deserted them. But only for a while. The indomitable spirit of the race awoke afresh, and asserted itself with renewed ardour in the course of the next series of the interminable struggles.

Compared with all this, the sun-bathed peaks of the centre and of the north breathed dreams and soft romance. Naturally the temperament of the inhabitants had tuned themselves to fit in with this. The few savage customs which had intruded themselves among the quaint rites and mysticism of these peoples had failed to[Pg 60] inculcate a genuine warlike ardour or lust for blood. Their dreamily brooding natures revolted against the strain of prolonged strife. What measure of violent resistance was to be expected from the dwellers on the shores of Lake Guatavita?

The Lake of Guatavita had been a sacred water of the Indians of Colombia before the advent of the Spaniards. It was on this peaceful sheet that the cacique and his chiefs were rowed out in canoes while the people clustered in their thousands about the mountainous sides of the lake.

When the canoes had arrived at the centre of the lake the chiefs were accustomed to anoint the cacique, and to powder him with a great profusion of gold-dust. Then came the moment for the supreme ceremony. The multitude turned their backs on the lake, and the cacique dived from the canoe and plunged into its waters; at the same time the people threw over their shoulders their offerings of gold and precious stones, which fell with a splash into the waters.

The lake was further enriched after the arrival of the conquistadores, when the natives, tortured and ill-treated in order that gold should be wrung from them, conceived such a hatred of the metal that they threw all they had wholesale into the sacred waters. It is said that some Indians, goaded beyond endurance, taunted their conquerors and told them to search at the bottom of the lake, where they would find gold. They had no idea that the Spaniards would actually attempt this, but this the conquistadores did, and were digging in order, apparently, to drain the water off when the sides fell in and put an end to the attempt. It is said that even then they procured a large amount of gold and some magnificent emeralds.

The final tragedy as shown in a seventeenth-century engraving.

As may well be imagined, it was people such as these[Pg 61] who suffered most of all from the violence of the strange, pale beings who had descended into their midst to subdue them, first of all by means of the sword, and then by the ceaseless wielding of the more intimate and degrading thong. Since, notwithstanding all that has been urged to the contrary, the average Spaniard of those days—even those of his number who had to do with the Americas—was provided with the ordinary sentiments and passions of humanity, it was inevitable that in the course of the oppression and warfare waged against the natives some devoted being should sooner or later rise up to espouse the cause of the Indians.

This intermediary, of course, was Bartolomé de las Casas, so widely known as the Apostle of the Indies. There are many who fling themselves heart and soul into a cause of which they know nothing, and who, from the sheer impetus of good-hearted ignorance, cause infinite mischief. The case of Las Casas was different. Before he took up his spiritual labours he had lived for years at the theatre of his future work, and understood the conditions of the colonial and native life.

As a matter of fact, Las Casas' mission did not dawn upon him until he had enjoyed a very considerable practical experience in the industrial affairs of the New World. His connection with this latter did not begin with his own generation. He was the son of a shipmate of Columbus, who had sailed with the great explorer in his first voyage, and who had accompanied Ovando when that knight sailed out from Spain to take up his Governorship of the Indies.

It was in Hispaniola, it appears, that Las Casas was ordained priest. In the first place he lived the ordinary life of the Spanish settler in the island. In common with everyone else, he accepted a repartimiento—that is to say, a supply of Indian labourers—and was undoubtedly[Pg 62] on the road to riches when, little by little, the inhumanity of slave-owning became clear to him. To one of his enthusiastic temperament no half measures were possible. He gave up his Indians forthwith, allowed his estate to revert to Nature, and began his strenuous campaign, that had as its object the freedom of the native races.

By 1517 he had succeeded in attracting a wide attention to his efforts. Journeying to Spain, he persisted in his cause, and gave the high authorities of that country little peace until they lent an ear to the grievances of his dusky protégés. Las Casas was endowed to an unusual extent with both eloquence and fervour, and both these attributes he employed to the utmost of his powers in the service of the American aborigines. Thus he painted the sufferings and the terrible mortality of these unfortunate people with a fire and a force that left very few unmoved. Nevertheless, as was only to be expected, he met with considerable opposition from various quarters where the financial interests dependent on the New World outweighed all other considerations. In the end, rendered desperate by this opposition and by the active hostility which he encountered in these quarters, he determined to lead the way by the foundation of a model colony of his own in South America.

He obtained the cordial sanction of the Spanish King to this end. Nevertheless, when put into practice, the scheme failed utterly. The reasons for this were to be sought for in the poorness of the soil chosen and in the intrigues of the white settlers rather than in any fundamental fault of the plan itself. For all that, its failure came as a severe blow to Las Casas. After experiences such as these, the majority of men would probably have given up the attempt in despair. Las Casas, it is true, sought the refuge of a monastery for a while in order to recover his health and spirits,[Pg 63] which had suffered from the shock. Once again in possession of these, he returned to the field, and, undaunted, continued to carry on his work.

This campaign of Las Casas is famous for a curious anomaly. That his work of mercy should have resulted in the introduction into the Continent of a greater number of dusky labourers than before appears on the face of it paradoxical. Yet so it was. For Las Casas, determined that the mortality among the Indians should cease, advocated the importation of African slaves into Central and South America. His idea was that the labours spread over so many more thousands of human bodies would prove by comparison bearable, and would thus end in fewer fatalities. It is certain enough that this introduction of the sturdy negro tended considerably to this end, and that many thousands of lives were prolonged, if nothing more, by this plan. For all that, it must be admitted that the venture was a daring one to emanate from the mind of a preacher who was fighting against the slave trade. But Las Casas, urged by his own experience, took a broad view, and none even of his contemporaries were able for one moment to impugn his motives.

Las Casas was as much a product of the period and place as were the wild and daring conquistadores themselves. The new Continent undoubtedly exerted a curious influence over its visitors from the Old World. It seemed to possess the knack of bringing out the virtues as well as the defects with an amazing and frequently disconcerting prodigality. Several of Las Casas' biographers have wondered at the reason why the Apostle of the Indies was never made a saint. Certainly hundreds of lesser heads have been kept warm by a halo which has never graced that of Las Casas.

[Pg 64]



It was natural that after the first occupation of the New World the tendency of the explorers should have been to turn their attention to the south and to the still undiscovered lands. At the first glimpse the aspect of the Atlantic coast to the south of Brazil gave little promise of the wealth—that is to say, of the gold—sought by the pioneers, since its shores were low, marshy, and alluvial.

In 1515 Juan de Solis sailed to the mouth of the River Plate, and landed on the coast of Uruguay. His party were immediately attacked by Charrúa Indians, and the bodies of De Solis himself and of a number of his crew were stretched dead on the sands. This ended the expedition, for the survivors left the place in haste and returned to Spain.

In 1526 Sebastian Cabot explored the River Plate, and, sailing up-stream, investigated the Paraná, and discovered the waters of the Paraguay River itself. In these inland waterways his fleet was met by that of another pioneer, Diego Garcia. This latter, doubtless from chivalrous motives, gave the pas to Cabot, and turned the bows of his vessels down-stream. It was Cabot's intention to establish himself permanently on the shores of this great river system. Near the present site of the town of Rosario he built the fort of Sancti Spiritus. Seeing, however, that his appeals to Spain[Pg 65] for assistance remained unanswered, he eventually abandoned his attempt. There seems little doubt that he withdrew practically all his forces from the River Plate; but there are legends of some survivors who remained in the district after the main expedition had left. Some old historians allege that these underwent strange experiences and hardships, but the veracity of such narratives is more than doubtful.

The last Chief of the Peruvians.

It was in 1535, the year when Valdivia marched southward from Peru to conquer Chile, that the conquest and actual colonization of the River Plate was first seriously undertaken. Pedro de Mendoza, a soldier of fortune, ventured on the attempt. Mendoza's career as a mercenary soldier had proved quite unusually profitable even for those days, and he had acquired a large fortune at the sack of Rome alone. His purse provided a really formidable expedition.

The voyage to the mouth of the River Plate on this occasion was more productive of incident than was usual, even in those days of adventurous pioneers. The halts at Teneriffe and at Rio de Janeiro had resulted in some dissensions among Mendoza's men, and the execution by the orders of the Chief of one of his most popular leaders had all but caused open mutiny at the latter place. Nevertheless, when his forces landed at the site of the present town of Buenos Aires, they constituted a formidable company of men, admirably equipped with everything that the science of the age could devise for the purpose of conquest and colonization, particularly the former.

Having founded his settlement, Mendoza set himself to deal with the Indians and to bring them into subjection. In a very short while he found out that it was a very different tribe of aborigines with which he had to deal to the peace-loving inhabitants of Peru and the[Pg 66] north-west. The agile, hardy, and fierce Pampa Indians, having once fallen foul of the invaders, allowed them no respite. Attacked by day and night, deprived of all supplies of food, Mendoza's troops began to suffer from exhaustion and hunger, to say nothing of the wounds inflicted by their enemies.

In the end, the leaders had to admit to themselves that the place was no longer tenable. Nevertheless, neither Mendoza nor his men had any intention of abandoning permanently these fertile plains through which ran the great rivers. The scarcity of minerals in these districts had now become sufficiently obvious to them; yet even to men in quest of little beyond gold the extraordinary fertility of the alluvial soil was not altogether lost. With a courage and pertinacity which does the adventurers every credit, they determined, instead of abandoning the river and putting out to sea, to sail far up-stream into the unknown, and to seek their fortune inland.

Mendoza's expedition first of all established itself for a while on the site of Sancti Spiritus, Cabot's old abandoned fort, which they now rechristened Corpus Christi. Shortly after their arrival at the place, Mendoza himself, who had doubtless suffered many disillusions concerning the gold and precious stones of these districts, and whose health had given way beneath the stress of the hardships and of the numerous precarious situations in which he had found himself, set sail for Spain. It was to be his fate never to return to his native land, since he died on his way home.

Juan de Ayolas was now left in command of the Spanish force. He was an able commander, and a man of determined character, eminently fitted to conduct an expedition such as this. Without hesitation, the new leader purposed to make his way farther up the stream. He got together the ships once again, and, manning them,[Pg 67] he made his way from point to point along the great river system, attacked here and there by the Indians on the banks, and occasionally challenged by flotillas of canoes, which boldly came out to assume the aggressive. But in every case the lesson taught the Indians was a severe one, and, undeterred by the hostility shown him, Ayolas sailed inland until he came to Asuncion in Paraguay. At this spot the expedition came to a halt, and the weary pioneers landed, and immediately became lost in admiration of the fertile and delightful country in which they now found themselves.

There is no doubt that to the new-comers the country in the neighbourhood of Asuncion, with its pleasant valleys, rolling country, and forest-covered hills, must have come in the shape of a relief after the apparently interminable passage of the plains. It was the spot at which the pioneer would naturally halt, and endeavour to found his settlement.

The Guaraní Indians extended but a cold welcome to the daring adventurers. Their temperament was by nature far less warlike than that of the savage and intrepid natives in the regions of the coast. These Guaraní Indians, nevertheless, made some show of aggression, and would doubtless have been glad to scare away these undesired strangers. Owing to this, a collision between the two forces occurred; but so crushing was the defeat of the Indians that they resigned themselves submissively to the Spaniards, and henceforth became a vassal tribe, lending assistance to their white masters in both civil and warlike occupations.

Immediately after the victory, the Guaranís were set by the Spanish to assist in the construction of the new town, which was to be the head-quarters of the Imperial power in the south-east of the Continent. Once definitely settled here, the conquistadores set themselves[Pg 68] to extend the frontiers of their dominions, which in the first place were confined to the neighbourhood of the new town of Asuncion itself.

The tribes in the immediate neighbourhood were now more than merely friendly: they were actively servile. But the case was different with the other native peoples, more especially with the Indians in the Chaco, the wooded and swampy district on the opposite side of the river. These showed themselves fiercely inimical to the new-comers, and it was seldom that the Spaniards were without a feud of some kind to suffer at their hands.

The new colonists had now time to look about them. Much had happened since they had first landed on the shores of the River Plate, but the main object of the expedition still remained clear to them. This was the discovery of a road from the south-east to Peru. Ayolas determined to take up this fascinating quest in person. Accompanied by a number of men, he sailed up the river until he came to a spot at which he judged that an attempt at the overland journey might well be attempted. Leaving Domingo Martinez de Irala, his lieutenant, in charge of the ships and of a force of men, Ayolas marched into the forest and disappeared into the unknown. It was his fate never to return. His company, ambushed and cut up by a tribe of hostile Indians, perished to a man.

It was months before Irala learned of the catastrophe. In the belief that his chief was still in the land of the living, he waited with his ships and men at the point where Ayolas had disembarked, varying his vigil from time to time by a cruise down-stream in search of provisions. The news came to him at length, shouted out by hoarse defiant voices from the recesses of the forest on the banks. For a while the Spaniards would not believe the surly message of death given by the unseen[Pg 69] Indians. In the end, however, its truth could not be doubted, and Irala assumed command of the party. Returning to Asuncion, he was unanimously appointed Governor by the settlers of the place.

A seventeenth-century representation of the whole of the processes of the manufacture of sugar.
From "Historia Antipodum."

The character of Domingo Martinez de Irala was eminently suited to the post he now held. His courage was high, his determination inflexible, and his energy abundant. It is true that, in the same manner as his colleagues of the period, he was frequently totally careless of the means employed so long as the end was achieved. Nevertheless, he was in many respects an ideal leader, and his vigorous personality kept in check both the ambitions of the Spanish cliques and the dissatisfaction of the less friendly Indians.

Irala was destined to undergo many vicissitudes in the course of his Governorship. Very soon after he had been elected to this post it was his fate to be superseded for a while. Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, having obtained the appointment in Spain itself, came out by Royal Licence to govern the new province of which Asuncion was the capital. Cabeza de Vaca was essentially a humanitarian Governor, who proved himself extremely loth to employ coercion and the sword, which means, in fact, he only resorted to with extreme reluctance as a very last resource. His courage and determination were evidenced by his overland journey; for, instead of sailing up the great river system from the mouth of the River Plate, he brought his expedition overland from Santa Catalina in Brazil, advancing safely through the numerous tribes and difficult country which intervened between the coast and Asuncion.

The temperament of Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, however, was of too refined and trusting an order to deal with the turbulent and somewhat treacherous elements which abounded at Asuncion. After a while[Pg 70] a revolt occurred, brought about probably by the Governor's objection to the wholesale plundering and enslavement of the Indians by the Spaniards. The populace turned strongly against the Governor. Cabeza de Vaca was flung into prison, and sent a prisoner to Spain, after which drastic procedure Irala was once again elected Governor by the colonists. Doubtless Cabeza de Vaca possesses the chief claim to sympathy of all those who had to do with Paraguay at this early period of its existence; yet at the same time it is impossible to refrain from admiration of the sheer determination and willpower with which Irala pursued his career.

For years Irala's position remained utterly precarious. He was the chosen of the colonists, but not of the Court of Spain, which alone possessed any legal right to appoint a person to so high an office as his. No exalted personages were more jealous of their privileges than these. Several times Irala was on the point of losing his Governorship, but on each occasion the measures he adopted, aided by good fortune, tided him over the crisis, and left him continuing in the seat of authority. In the end, after undergoing innumerable anxieties, Irala at last succeeded in obtaining the Royal Licence for the Governorship of Paraguay.

All the while his energy continued undiminished, and it was due to him that the colonization of the country made such rapid strides. The means by which this end was effected were, from the modern point of view, entirely dubious, for it was Irala who instituted in Paraguay encomiendas, or slave settlements, into which the natives of the country were congregated in order that their labour might be employed in agriculture and similar occupations. This, however, was the ordinary procedure of the period, and, as historians have already pointed out, Irala's faults, although serious enough, were[Pg 71] really nothing beyond those of his age. In any case, his name stands as that of one of the most powerful of the conquistadores. During the later years of his office a comparatively undisturbed era obtained, and he held the reins of the Paraguayan Government with a firm hand till his death, which occurred at the age of seventy-one.

On Irala's death, it was only natural that those elements of discord and jealousy which his strong personality had kept in check should break out, and cause no little confusion and strife. For a while the Governorship of Paraguay was sought by many, and the conflicting claims led to numerous disputes, and even occasional armed collisions. One of the most notable of the Governors who succeeded Irala was Juan de Garay. It was this conquistador who was responsible for the second and permanent founding of the city of Buenos Aires. Garay was a far-seeing man, who, having established a number of urban centres inland, saw clearly the importance of a settlement at which vessels from Europe could touch on their first arrival at the Continent.

So the stream of white men, having been in the first instance swept by the force of circumstances rather than its own desire from the coast in a north-westerly direction, began now to roll back towards the coast once again, without, however, yielding up any of the territories which it had occupied in the interior.

In 1580 Juan de Garay determined that the supreme effort should be made. He led an expedition down the stream, and on the spot where Pedro de Mendoza had founded his first ill-fated settlement he built the pioneer structures of the second town of Buenos Aires. The wisdom of this move was evident to all, provided the place were able to withstand the attacks of the surrounding Indians. In this the garrison succeeded, and Buenos Aires, having now taken firm root, began the first slow[Pg 72] growth of its development, which eventually made of it the greatest city in South America.

In the meantime much had been effected towards the colonization of the land to the west of the Andes. As has been related, Almagro's unfortunate expedition returned, dejected and diminished in numbers, from the apparently inhospitable soil in the south. This disaster lent to Chile an unenviable but entirely undeserved notoriety. Pedro de Valdivia was the next to venture into these regions. Valdivia naturally enjoyed several advantages over his predecessor, for he knew now, by the other's experiences, the dangers and perils against which he had to guard. In consequence of this his expedition met with considerably more success than had been anticipated. Marching southward across the great Atacama Desert, he penetrated to the fertile regions of the land, and founded the town of Santiago.

All this was not effected without encountering the hostility of the local Indians, and the inhabitants of the new town carried their lives in their hands for a considerable while after the foundation of the city. Perhaps, indeed, no pioneers experienced greater hardships than did those of Chile. For the first few years of its existence every member of the new colony became accustomed to live in an unceasing condition of short rations, and it was on very poorly furnished stomachs that the garrison was obliged to meet and to repel the attacks of the natives. In the end, however, the seeds which had been brought by the adventurers took root and grew. Provisions became fairly abundant, and the settlements in the neighbourhood of Santiago were now firmly established.

Valdivia, determined to extend his frontiers, marched to the south. It was in the neighbourhood of the Biobio River that he first encountered the Araucanian[Pg 73] warriors of the true stock. Here his forces met with a rude awakening. In discipline and fighting merit the companies of the Araucanians stood to the remaining tribes of South America in the same relation as did the Zulu regiments to the other fighting-men of Africa. A furious struggle began which was destined to last for generations and for centuries. But at no time were the fierce Araucanians subdued, although it fell to their lot to be defeated over and over again, as, indeed, proved the fate of the Spaniards likewise.

Some notion of the tremendous vigour with which these wars of the south were waged may be gathered from "La Araucana," the magnificent epic written by Ercilla, the Spanish poet, who composed his verses hot from the fight, his arms still weary from wielding the sword.

One of the first of the notable Spanish victims in the course of these wars was Valdivia himself. Attacked by furious hordes of Araucanians and overwhelmed, the intrepid European and his army perished to a man; while the Araucanians in triumph swept northwards, to be hurled to the south again by the next wave of battle which chanced to turn in favour of the Spaniards.

[Pg 74]



Having now definitely obtained possession of the enormous territories of South America, it was equally the policy of both Spain and Portugal to retain the enjoyment of the new lands and of their produce for themselves alone. In order to effect this, stringent laws were laid down from the very inception of the colonization of the Continent. In a nutshell, they amounted to this: none but Spaniards might trade with the Spanish possessions of South America, and none but Portuguese with the Colony of Brazil. In the case of the latter country the regulations were by no means so strictly carried out as in the former. One of the chief reasons for this, no doubt, was the old-standing and traditional friendship existing between Portugal and England. With so many interests in common, and such strong sentimental bonds uniting the pair in Europe, it was difficult to shut out the English commerce altogether from Brazil.

In the Spanish colonies the enactments of the Court of Spain were far more rigorously carried out. Here, since the laws were so strict, the rewards for their breaking were naturally all the greater. Tempted by the magnitude of these latter, a great number of the officials made a lucrative profession of giving clandestine assistance to foreign commerce in direct contravention of the regulations laid down.[Pg 75]

It is rather curious to remark that at the very height of her colonial commerce, when the riches of South America were pouring at the greatest rate into her coffers, how little actual wealth was accumulated by the Mother Country. Indeed, a monumental proof of the inefficiency of her organization is that, although she bled the filial nations with an almost incredible enthusiasm, Spain remained in debt. The influx of gold from her colonies demoralized and ruined such industries as she had possessed, and such goods as she sent out to South America and elsewhere were now almost devoid of any proportion of her own manufactures. The merchandise which she sent to the New World she purchased from other countries, principally from Great Britain, and the English merchants saw to it that their profit was no small one. Thus Spain at this period, from a mercantile point of view, was very reluctantly serving as a general benefactor to Europe.

All this, of course, was in spite of most extraordinary efforts to effect the contrary. As early as 1503 the Casa de Contratacion de las Indias had been established in Spain. This institution was practically the governing body of the colonies. It possessed numerous commercial privileges, since it held the monopoly of the colonial trade. These privileges were continued until as late as 1790.

The Casa de Contratacion, although in many respects a purely mercantile body, was endowed with special powers. So wide was its authority that to be associated with this body was wont to prove of enormous financial benefit. Thus, it was entitled to make its own laws, and it was specially enacted by Royal Decree that these were to be obeyed by all Spanish subjects as implicitly as any others of the nation.

So far as the commercial world was concerned, the[Pg 76] powers of the Casa de Contratacion were sheerly autocratic. The institution, in fact, held the fortunes of all the colonials in its hand. It possessed, in the first place, the privilege of naming the price which the inhabitants of the New World should pay for the manufactured goods of the Old. In addition to this, it lay within its domain to arrange the rates at which the produce sent from the colonies was to be sold in the Spanish markets. From this it will be evident that, commercially speaking, its powers were feudal.

It was inevitable that frequent evils should have sprung from the inauguration of a system such as this. It became almost a religion to every Spanish official and trader to batten upon the unfortunate colonial, quite regardless of the fact that the pioneer settler was being strangled during the process. Since the hapless dweller in South America was not allowed to bargain or haggle, and was forced to take whatever was graciously sent out to him at a rate condescendingly fixed, it frequently happened that this latter was five or ten times the legitimate price.

The disadvantages endured by the humble oversea strugglers, however, did not end here, for their own produce received the coldest of financial greetings in Europe, and the prices realized from these frequently left the agriculturalists in despairing wonder as to whether it was worth while to continue with their various industries. Added to all these were further regulations which proved both irksome and costly to the men of the south. Twice a year the Casa de Contratacion sent out a formidable fleet from Cadiz, escorted by men-of-war. It was this fleet which carried the articles of which the colonials were in urgent need. Now, the main settlements of the Spanish merchants and officials, as distinguished from the colonial, were in Panama and the north, and it was[Pg 77] largely in order to benefit these privileged beings that the ridiculous regulations were brought into force which made the fleet of galleons touch at the Isthmus of Panama alone. By this means it was insured that these goods should pass through the commercial head-quarters, and leave a purely artificial profit to the Spaniards concerned, instead of being sent direct to the various ports with which the coasts of the Continent were now provided.

"The Apostle of the Indies," who took up the cause of the much afflicted natives of South America.
From the portrait in the Bibliothèque Nationale.
A. Rischgitz.

In these circumstances it was necessary for colonial merchants and traders from all parts of South America to journey to this far northern corner in order to carry out their negotiations, and to attend to the fresh transport of the wares. The hardships and the added cost brought about by regulations such as these may be imagined, and, as was only to be expected, a system such as this recoiled upon the heads of those who were responsible for its adoption.

Occasionally circumstances arose in connection with these official fleets which bore with almost equal hardship upon Spaniard and colonial alike. Thus, when the English, Dutch, and French buccaneers took to harassing the South American coast in earnest, there were periods when the galleons of the Indies were kept within their harbour for a year and more. Then the Spaniards went perforce without the South American gold, and the colonial's life was shorn of the few comforts which the wildly expensive imported articles had been wont to bring.

The home authorities invariably appeared loth to take into account the possibility of human enterprise. It was not likely that the colonials would submit tamely to such tremendous deprivations as those intended by Spain. Foreign traders, moreover, notwithstanding the ban and actual danger under which they worked, were keenly alive to the situation, and to the chances of effecting[Pg 78] transactions in a Continent where so handsome a profit was attached to all commerce. The result was the inception of smuggling on a scale which soon grew vast, and which ended in involving officials of almost all ranks. The Governors of the various districts themselves were usually found perfectly willing to stand sponsors for all efforts of the kind, and, viewing the matter from the modern point of view, they are scarcely to be blamed for their complaisant attitude.

Here is a narration written in 1758 of the manner in which these transactions were carried on. The author, referring to it in an account of the European settlements in America, asserts that the state of affairs was one likely to prove extremely difficult to end—

"While it is so profitable to the British merchant, and while the Spanish officers from the highest to the lowest show so great a respect to presents properly made. The trade is carried on in this manner: The ship from Jamaica, having taken in negroes and a proper sortement of goods there, proceeds in time to the place of a harbour called the Groute within the Monkey-key, about four miles from Porto-Bello, and a person who understands Spanish is directly sent ashore to give the merchants of the town notice of the arrival of the vessel. The same news is carried likewise with great speed to Panama, from whence the merchants set out disguised like peasants, with their silver in jars covered with meal to deceive the officers of the revenue.... There is no trade more profitable than this, for their payments are made in ready money, and the goods sell higher than they would at any other market. It is not on this coast alone, but everywhere upon the Spanish Main, that this trade is carried on; nor is it by the English alone, but by the French from Hispaniola, and the Dutch from Curassoo, and even the Danes have some share in it. When the Spanish Guardacostas seize upon one of these vessels, they make no scruple of confiscating the cargo and of treating the crew in a manner little better than pirates."

[Pg 79]

From all this, the shortcomings of the Spanish attempts at a protective system are sufficiently evident.

In view of the hostile reception extended to them in all parts of the Continent by the Spanish officials, it was only to be expected that foreigners, whenever they had the opportunity, should have rendered a whole-hearted assistance to this business of smuggling. Moreover, since there was seldom peace between the Portuguese and the Spaniards, the former were only too glad to foster this trade, and thus defeat the object of the Spanish authorities, and incidentally line their own pockets. It was all the more difficult for the Spanish Colonial Government to maintain a consistent attitude when the introduction of the slaves, on whom the welfare of so many districts depended, was in the hands of foreigners.

This state of affairs applied in a far lesser degree to Brazil, since that country was frequently able to obtain its human consignments in Portuguese vessels from its fellow-colony of Portuguese West Africa. The Spaniards, on the other hand, were dependent upon other nations for the importation of their slaves, and they were from time to time accustomed to grant special licences for this purpose. It was the reverse of likely that men of a temperament which urged them to raid the African shores in search of their human quarry, and to sail their black cargoes through the tropics, would abstain from making the fullest and most general use of an opportunity thus offered, as the Spanish officials invariably found was the case to their cost, and occasionally, as has been said, to their profit!

The rivalry which characterized the relations between Spain and Portugal did not fail to be carried across the ocean, nor, when transferred to the colonies of either nation, did the mutual jealousies grow less bitter. Indeed, scarcely had the colonization of Brazil and of the Spanish[Pg 80] territories commenced in earnest when the struggle between the two nationalities began.

The area of the strife, fortunately, was confined. The enormous territories of tropical Brazil forbade anything in the nature of thorough exploration on the part of the few and slender bands of the pioneers, to say nothing of any attempt at expansion. It was in the south, where the narrow strip of Brazil projected itself downwards into the temperate latitudes, that the desire for aggrandizement raged. The Portuguese considered that the natural southern frontier of their great colony was the River Plate. The Spaniards, having already possession of the northern bank, fiercely resented any such pretension, with the result that the Banda Oriental, by which name the Republic of Uruguay is still locally known, as well as the southern part of the Province of Paraguay, became the scene of many battles. It may be said that the warfare between the two nations continued here, with but rare and short peaceful interludes, for centuries.

The fortified town of Colonia, on the north bank of the Uruguay River, represented one of the chief bones of contention. Its possession constituted a strategic advantage of no small importance, and Spanish and Portuguese flags waved alternately over its shattered ramparts. The situation was accentuated by the characteristics of the inhabitants of the Portuguese city of São Paolo. These people, who lived in the town loftily placed upon its rock, had acquired for themselves, almost from the inception of the colony, a somewhat sinister and reckless reputation. The Portuguese and half-breeds here, their vigour unimpaired by a temperate and bracing climate, would sally out to the west and to the south on slave-raiding expeditions, which they conducted with extraordinary ferocity and enterprise. Matters of boundaries and frontiers possessed no interest whatever for these[Pg 81] Paolistas or Mamelucos, by which latter name the swashbuckling members of this community were better known.

The Conqueror of Peru.
From an engraving after the original portrait in the Palace of the Viceroys at Lima.
A. Rischgitz.

In the first instance, these forays were responsible for comparatively little friction, since the number of Indians near at hand was as plentiful as the neighbouring white men were rare. When the nearer land became depopulated, however, it began to be necessary to extend the expeditions farther afield from São Paolo, and it was then that the Mamelucos came into contact with the growing numbers of the Spanish settlers, and with the Indians who now resided beneath the protection of the Spanish power. When the Jesuit missionaries arrived in Northern Uruguay and in Southern Paraguay their advent had the effect of embittering the feud between the frontiersmen; for the Jesuits, forming the Indians into companies of their own, withdrew them still farther from the onslaughts of the Paolistas. These latter determined at all costs to capture and to drive back their gangs of slaves, became more and more emboldened, and pushed forward to the south and west well into the Spanish territories, harrying the missionary settlements, and laying waste the countryside.

For years the Guaraní Indians, unarmed, were helpless in the face of such attacks. Eventually, however, the influence of the Jesuits obtained permission from the Court of Spain for these latter to be provided with firearms, and after this the Indian regiments, trained and disciplined, offered such effective resistance to the Mamelucos that these were forced to cease their slave-raids.

In 1574, when the importation into Brazil of negro slaves from West Africa had become a regular affair, the demand for slaves on the part of the Paolistas naturally became less active. Even with this item of discord removed, such intervals of peace as were patched up between the rival Powers were of short duration. The[Pg 82] fertile and temperate lands to the north of the River Plate still remained in dispute, and although the Spaniards succeeded in retaining the possession of the bulk of these, there were times when the Portuguese penetrated as far as the waters of the great river, and in the end they managed to detach several of the most northerly districts from Spanish control, and in adding these to their own colonies.

It was consistent with the curious irony of fate which seemed to direct the operations of the Continent at that period, that while the Portuguese and Spaniards, actual lords of the soil, were at daggers drawn, the foreign seawolves, who had been gathering together, surveying with longing eyes the fold of riches so rigorously banned from them, were now making preparations for active aggression. But the history of the expeditions on the part of these formidable rovers is worthy of more than one chapter to itself.

[Pg 83]



Had the laws of the Indies been differently framed, there is no doubt that the hardy sailors and reckless buccaneers who plundered these coasts would have had no existence, and that South America would have remained unprovided with much of its grim romance. As it was, Spain, by her imperious policy of "hands off," had flung a challenge to every adventurer of the other nations throughout Europe.

During the earliest periods of its colonization the reports from the New World were naturally somewhat nebulous in character, and the Spanish authorities themselves saw to it that as little authentic news as possible should be allowed to filter beyond their own frontiers. This policy succeeded for a while in restraining the undesired enterprise of the rival peoples who were, so far as South America was concerned, groping in the dark. This phase was naturally only fleeting. At the first evidence of a desire on the part of the other nations to participate in the benefits accruing from South America, the Spanish Court thundered forth threats and edicts.

Thus on December 15, 1558, King Philip II. decreed that any foreign person who should traffic with Spanish America should be punished by death and confiscation of property. The edict was emphatic and stern, and contained a clause which deprived the Royal Audiences in[Pg 84] Spanish America of any powers of dispensation in the execution of these penalties:

"If anyone shall disobey this law, whatever his state or condition, his life is forfeit, and his goods shall be divided in three parts, of which one shall go to our Royal Treasure, one to the judge, and one to the informer."

It is, of course, notorious that the distance which separated the colonies from the motherland prevented the enforcing of many laws, whether good or bad, and that the Spanish-American local expression—"The law is obeyed but not carried out"—was common to nearly every district. At the same time, the mischief caused by decrees such as these may readily be imagined. A rich bribe to an informer was in itself an incentive to the stirring up of mischief where frequently none was intended. Such official bribes as these, however, were wont to be more than counteracted by the private inducements held out by many of the foreign adventurers and traders themselves, and after a while a great number of the officials found it very much to their profit not only to wink at the wholesale commerce and smuggling that was being carried on, but even actively to promote it and to participate in its benefits.

This method of keeping Spanish America as the close property of the Crown was one which grew more and more difficult to preserve as time went on. In the first place the authorities had merely to cope with the foreign seamen and the fleets of adventurous traders who were determined, at all costs, to win their share of financial profit from these golden shores. After a while, with the growing population of the Continent, a new situation asserted itself, and the influence of the colonists themselves had to be considered.

Typical of the small vessels employed in taking African slaves to South America. The hundreds of negroes were packed between decks in the incredible fashion shown in the sectional views.

In order that the full financial profit, as it was then[Pg 85] understood, of the colonies should continue to be passed on to Spain, it was essential that the colonists should continue a negligible factor. The permanence of this state of affairs could only be affected in one way: it was necessary that no equipment such as would provide independence of thought or action should be allowed to be at their service. Books, of course, were considered as one of the most mischievous potential engines of the kind. The Spaniards determined that none of the learning of their country should pass into the colonies. A certain number of volumes were permitted to cross the sea, it is true, but these were of the species that might be readily understood by a child of a few summers, and were ridiculously inadequate to the most ordinary intellect of adults in civilized regions. These themselves were subjected first of all to a close inspection on the part of the Inquisition in Spain. After this they had to pass the Board of Censors appointed by the Council of the Indies. Even here the precautions did not end, for on their arrival in the colony they were once again inspected as a safeguard, lest any secular matter or work of fiction should by any chance be overlooked and suffered to remain.

In short, the policy by which the motherland endeavoured to retain for her own benefit the riches of her colonies was undoubtedly one of the most benighted ever conceived by a European nation. It amounted to nothing less than a consistent checking and deadening of the intelligence of her sons oversea in order that their atrophied senses should fail to detect the true manner in which they were being shorn of their property and privileges.

On the other hand, in conformity with the same theory, superstition was encouraged to an extraordinary degree. The Royal Seal, when it arrived from Spain, was greeted as though it were a symbol of Deity, and the royal[Pg 86] audience would chant an oath to obey it as implicitly as though it were a command of God. Every conceivable care was taken to foster this frame of mind throughout the colonies, and, since the intellectual occupations were religiously kept to themselves by the officials, it is not astonishing to find how far this method succeeded, and for how long it continued. Thus, even as late as 1809, when a portrait of King Ferdinand arrived at Coquimbo, the oil-painting was received with the honours accorded to a symbol of Deity. A special road was made for it from Coquimbo to La Serena, the capital of the province. This task occupied many days. Volunteer citizens filled up the holes, made wooden culverts, and, in fact, acted as enthusiastic road repairers, in order that the portrait might suffer no discomfort. When it was judged that the highway was sufficiently repaired, the portrait set out upon its astonishing journey. It was surrounded by cushions and placed in a flower-filled carriage. The inhabitants kneeled as the picture passed, and when it had been placed in the cathedral, salvos of artillery sounded, and the people shouted in delirious joy. The occasion, moreover, was marked by a fête which lasted three days.

All this, however, is anticipating by some centuries the period under review. In the first instance, largely owing to the ignorance concerning the New World which prevailed in other parts of Europe—which ignorance had been greatly fostered by Spain—the Spaniards succeeded in retaining the undisputed possession of their portion of the Continent for nearly three-quarters of a century. Then came the first of the maritime swallows, which made many dismal summers for the Court of Spain. In 1565 Drake voyaged to the Guianas on the Spanish Main. He was followed by Hawkins, Raleigh, and a host of others, including the Dutch navigators.[Pg 87]

These hardy seamen, it must be said, had in the first instance proceeded to the Continent with the idea of engaging in legitimate trade. In justice to the many desperate acts which the majority subsequently committed, it must be remembered that in the case of the early collisions, they only let loose their guns when they found themselves attacked by the Spanish authorities in the distant ports, or intercepted on the high seas by the guardian fleets of Spain.

An experience or two of the kind sufficed to rouse the hot blood of the seamen. Knowing now that they were braving the anger of the King of Spain, they determined to continue in this undaunted, even, if necessary, "to synge his bearde," as, indeed, was accomplished on one notable occasion. So they continued their voyages to these ostensibly closed coasts of South America and the general run of the territories known at the time as the West Indies. Frequently they found riches in the venture, sometimes disaster and death. The former proved an incentive to these breathless voyages, with which no dread of the latter fate could interfere.

It would be as well to refer briefly to the careers in South America of a certain number of the most notable of these early adventurers. One of the first was Sir John Hawkins, who set out in 1562 with three ships: the Salomon, the Swallow, and the Jonas. Having touched at Teneriffe, he then landed at Sierra Leone, "where by the sworde and other means" he obtained some 300 negroes. He shaped his course to the west, and sailed with his cargo to the Spanish Indies.

Notwithstanding the stern official prohibitions, Hawkins succeeded in trading with the residents at Port Isabella, in Hispaniola, and the tall sides of his vessels, empty[Pg 88] now of their dark human freight, soon held an important cargo of hides, ginger, sugar, and pearls. So successful was he, indeed, that he added two more ships to his flotilla and sent them to Spain. This daring procedure was intended as something in the light of a challenge and of a proof of his good faith in his right to barter in Spanish South America—a right, he claimed, which was ratified by an old treaty between Henry VII. and the Archduke Philip of Spain.

The Spanish officials, doubtless open-mouthed at this somewhat subtle and startling confidence of Hawkins, promptly confiscated the vessels by way of definitely proving it ill-founded. Notwithstanding this, Hawkins was more than satisfied with the cargo brought home by his three original ships, and two years later he set out again, accompanied by the Earl of Pembroke and the Earl of Leicester, with a larger fleet than before.

On this occasion he again visited Africa, collected a cargo of slaves, and endeavoured to trade with the Spaniards, more especially in Venezuela. This time the expedition found the authorities, warned by threatening prohibitions from Europe, in a less enterprising mood. Hawkins, persisting in the attempt, succeeded in bartering a certain number of slaves for hides, gold, silver, pearls, and other commodities. After a while the Spanish officers attempted to interfere and to put a stop altogether to the traffic, on which Hawkins, ever a friend to free trade, gathered his men together and marched down to the market-place, incidentally firing off guns, which procedure destroyed the last scruples of the inhabitants, and an important exchange and barter now took place. Thus the triumphant Hawkins returned with a second valuable cargo to England.

In 1567 Hawkins was accompanied on his next voyage[Pg 89] by his young cousin, Francis Drake. The incidents of this voyage strongly resemble those of the previous ones. Negroes were collected in West Africa, and were disposed of in Spanish America, notwithstanding the protest, whether genuine or simulated, of the officials. The ending of the voyage, however, was destined to introduce a tragic note. On the way home the small English expedition fell in at the Port San Juan de Ulloa with a great Spanish fleet. In the first instance the mutual overtures were friendly, and hostages were exchanged on both sides. In the end, however, the English force was, without warning, attacked by the Spaniards as they lay at anchor. The majority of the men who had gone on shore were slain, and those who remained on the ships were assailed by overwhelming numbers. After a strenuous tussle with the Spaniards, Drake in the Judith, followed some time afterwards by Hawkins in the Minion, got away. The condition of Hawkins's crew, unprepared as was this ship for the voyage, was pitiful. A lengthy spell of contrary winds served to accentuate the terrible dearth of provisions which prevailed. The following is a contemporary account of some of the incidents. The vessel had wandered about the ocean

"tyll hunger inforced us to seek the lands for birdes were thought very good meate, rattes, cattes, mise and dogges, none escaped that might be gotten, parrates and monkayes that we had in great prise were thought then very profitable if they served the tourne one dinner."

The return home in this instance was truly a sorry one, for the survivors had left not only gold behind them, but the corpses of so many brave comrades.

On the whole, the exploits of Hawkins were considerably overshadowed by those of his young relative, Sir Francis Drake, who had begun to adventure on his own account in 1570, and who haunted the Spanish Indies,[Pg 90] determined to avenge the treatment he and his comrades had received at San Juan de Ulloa. He ransacked Nombre de Dios and Cartagena, explored the Gulf of Darien, made friends with the Indians who inhabited the place, and captured many Spanish merchantmen, repulsing the attacks of the Spanish men-of-war.

Drake now crossed the Isthmus of Panama, and—the first foreigner to accomplish the feat—set eyes on the Pacific Ocean, in which he swore to cruise before he had finished his career. Here, moreover, having failed to capture one royal treasure convoy, his good fortune led him to meet with a second, and the gold and silver borne by the laden mules became the property of himself and his men.

Drake started out on his next voyage in 1577, and fulfilled his purpose of breasting the waters of the Pacific; for, after various adventures on the east coast of the Continent, he sailed through the Straits of Magellan, and found himself in the ocean that, until then, had been traversed by Spanish vessels alone. His arrival came as a bolt from the blue to the Spaniards, who had not dreamed of the possibility of the invasion of the Pacific, the waters of which they had grown to consider as sacred to themselves. The alarm spread like wild-fire along the whole length of that great coast. All the while Drake cruised up and down, capturing and destroying wherever he might. Indeed, of all the adventurers of this period, Drake was the one whose name conveyed the greatest terror to the Spanish colonists. This was evident in all parts of the Continent. Thus the impetuosity of his attacks and incursions in the neighbourhood of the Guianas and Venezuela was sufficient utterly to startle and dismay the unfortunate Spaniards.


The taking of Caracas in 1595 showed him as not only[Pg 92] an able leader, but as an extraordinarily gifted tactician. It was in the course of this attack, by the way, that the fine old hidalgo, Alonso Andrea de Ledesma, mounted his horse, and, shield on arm, lance in rest, charged full tilt single handed against the English force, who would have spared him had he permitted it. But his onslaught was too impetuous for that. All the invaders could do for the gallant old knight was to give him an honourable and reverent burial.

After a while, Queen Elizabeth herself now lending open support to the adventurers, Drake's expeditions became more and more daring, and, until he died of fever at Porto Bello, his personality was one which gave sleepless nights from time to time to responsible persons on the coasts of the great Continent.

The name of Raleigh, "poet, statesman, courtier, schemer, patriot, soldier, freebooter, discoverer, colonist, castle-builder, historian, philosopher, chemist, prisoner, and visionary," is, of course, from the romantic point of view, principally associated with El Dorado, and his quest of the magic and imaginary land of gold. It was for this reason that Raleigh's dealings with the Spaniards in South America were more circumscribed than those of many of his colleagues. Led to the belief, both by his own fanciful convictions and by the legends brought him by the Indians, he had conceived El Dorado as situated somewhere in the Guianas, and thus his operations were chiefly confined to this part of the world and to the neighbourhood of the Orinoco River.

Raleigh's quest, on paper, certainly sounds one of the most fascinating and entrancing of those undertaken in the great Continent. That which the average reader hears of less are the fevers, noxious insects, heat, and the general climatic hardships and perils involved in one of the most tropical of all countries, to say nothing[Pg 93] of the brushes with the Spaniards; for Raleigh, courtier, poet, and philosopher though he was, was no more gentle in his dealing with his enemies than any other freebooter of his period.

Attacked by Dutch war vessels.

In the end Raleigh returned from the Orinoco laden with no gold, but with heavy tales of the countless booty which he had failed to obtain, and in the existence of which he implicitly believed, as his spirited defence against the charges of his disappointed critics and would-be profit-sharers proves.

Once again, after many years, and after he had endured many wrongs, hardships, and imprisonment in England, Raleigh succeeded in 1617 in making his way to Guiana. His health had now become shattered, and he found himself unable to explore the Orinoco River in person, with the result that the absence of his powerful and charming personality, which had effected so much in these regions in the past, was much felt, to the disadvantage of the expedition. A portion of his forces made its way inland; but it was attacked by the Spaniards, and young Walter Raleigh, the only son of the explorer, was slain. On this occasion the party actually discovered four gold refineries. Spain, however, had increased the strength of her position in this neighbourhood enormously, and the expedition failed.

Raleigh, broken-hearted at the death of his son, returned to England. He had procured no gold; all that he had won for himself was the enmity of Spain, which, in the end, through the instrumentality of King James I., cost him his head. So much for some of the most important of the early English adventurers in the seas which the Spaniards claimed as their own.

To refer to the whole company of notable buccaneers in detail is impossible, although so many others, from Cavendish to Sharpe, Davis, Knight, and the rest, are[Pg 94] worthy of note. There were, moreover, the Dutch freebooters, such as Van Noorte, de Werte, Spilsbergen, and others, as Jaques l'Ermite, François l'Ollonais, and Bartolomew Portugues, who ransacked and burned every town which failed to resist their fierce onslaughts, from the Gulf of Darien in the north all round the coast to the Pacific Ocean on the west.

[Pg 95]



The rivalry which had existed between the Portuguese and the French in the early days of Brazilian colonization has already been referred to. With this exception, the first era of the Colony of Brazil was comparatively peaceful—that is to say, the Portuguese, proving themselves of a more liberal temperament than the Spaniards, did not suffer from the fierce aggressions of the English and the Dutch to the same extent as did their Castilian neighbours. In 1580, however, the situation altered itself abruptly—in a most unpleasant fashion so far as the Portuguese were concerned.

In that year Portugal became subject to Spain, and thus the Portuguese Colonies were now controlled by Spain. As a result of this Brazil had to undergo the enmity of the English and the Dutch in addition to that of the French. This latter was now of comparatively old standing. The forays and raids of the French had, indeed, continued almost without cessation, Pernambuco and Paraiba being two of the chief spots attacked. In many of these incursions the French were assisted by the natives, with many tribes of whom they had succeeded in establishing good relations. In the course of time, however, it became evident that the French, like the British, were to be feared in these neighbourhoods rather on account of their raids than for the danger of a permanent settlement.[Pg 96]

Until 1580 several English expeditions had proceeded to Brazil, and had succeeded in trafficking with the Portuguese in complete amity. One or two of the English are even said to have established themselves near Bahia in the quite early days of the colony, and to have lived on good terms with the Iberian lords of the soil. Afterwards, through the instigation of the European officials, this cordiality became lessened, and in 1580, as has been said, the nations proceeded to open warfare in South America.

In 1582 Edward Fenton visited the coast of Brazil, and was attacked by a Spanish squadron. One of the latter vessels was sunk, and a decided victory was obtained by Fenton, who, after this, put out to sea. This was the first hostile action undertaken by the English on the Brazilian coast.

In 1591 Cavendish came to raid the various settlements. He ravaged many places, and eventually came to Espiritu Santo, where he landed a force, which, through bad generalship, was much cut up by the defenders of the place. Cavendish after this left the coast, and died on the way home to England—some say of a broken heart.

In 1595 James Lancaster's expedition arrived off Brazil. Lancaster had been brought up among the Portuguese in Europe. He understood their temperament, and was thus especially well equipped to command an enterprise such as this. After taking a number of prizes on the high seas, he fell in with another expedition commanded by Captain Venner, and the two forces united, Lancaster remaining in chief command. The English fleet now sailed for Recife. In this port they discovered three large Dutch ships, which permitted them to attack the port without interference. Lancaster, who displayed admirable generalship, landed his forces.[Pg 97] These surrounded and captured Recife, and the English found themselves masters of a large amount of booty. Lancaster, who was a tactician as well as a fighter, now made terms with the Dutch, and offered them freight to take to England on terms which caused the Dutch ships to abandon their attitude of benevolent neutrality in favour of an active alliance.

Shortly afterwards a squadron of five vessels hove in sight; these proved to be French. By presenting them with a gift of Brazil wood, Lancaster won these to his cause as well. So now a fleet of three nations—English, Dutch, and French—were simultaneously occupied in plundering Recife. Against this force the Portuguese could do little. Fire-ships and blazing rafts were sent down the river by the garrison who had taken refuge inland; but these attempts were frustrated, and, after some few weeks spent at Recife, Lancaster sailed away with his rich plunder, and the gathering of the hawks dispersed. It is worthy of note that Lancaster exhibited a trait sufficiently rare in his comrades. He apparently remained content with his booty, and determined to enjoy it, for he does not appear any more in the character of a buccaneer.

The Dutch now gave serious attention to South America, and a West India Company was formed in Holland for no other purpose than to capture and exploit Brazil. The first fleet, commanded by Jacob Willikens, sailed from Holland in 1623. Both the authorities in the peninsula and Brazil had received warning of what was threatening, but no adequate steps would seem to have been taken for the defence of the colonies. The Dutch fleet anchored off Bahia, where a force was landed, which succeeded in obtaining possession of the town. The Dutch were welcomed by the European Jews, who had taken up their abode in that place, and also by the[Pg 98] negroes, both of whom appeared to live in dread of the Inquisition.

The Portuguese themselves, in the first instance, fled to the woods, under the impression that the raid was merely temporary, and that a day or two would see their waters free of the marauding bands, and would restore the sacked town to its rightful owners. When it became evident that the Dutch were fortifying the town and meant to retain possession of it for good, the national spirit of the Portuguese proved equal to the occasion, and Bishop Marcos Teixeira, after assuming the garb of a penitent, took command of the army, and hoisted the crucifix for his standard. The Bishop proved an able commander, and the Dutch were closely invested in Bahia, finding themselves unable to stir outside their fortifications.

In the meanwhile the news of the capture of the capital of Brazil had produced a tremendous shock in the peninsula, and the greatest fleet which had ever sailed south was prepared to assist Bahia. Dom Manoel Menezes commanded the Portuguese section of the forces, which consisted of 4,000 men in twenty-six ships, while Fadrique de Toledo commanded the Spanish fleet of forty sail, which carried 8,000 soldiers.

On March 28, 1625, this formidable array of vessels appeared off Bahia. The Portuguese colonists had continued to besiege their captured capital, and the Bishop, who had striven and fought nobly, died, worn out by too great exertions. At the sight of the Iberian fleet, the Brazilians made a fresh attack upon the capital with enthusiasm, but the rash attempt was repulsed with great loss.

Several encounters now took place, and the Dutch sent out fire-ships by night in the hope of destroying their enemy. The attempt, however, failed, and in the end[Pg 99] the French and English mercenaries in the Dutch service, becoming tired of the struggle, worked their influence in the cause of surrender. Shortly after this occurred, a powerful fleet of Dutch ships, under Baldwin Henrick, came in sight, but on seeing the Spanish standards flying instead of the Dutch, sailed away to the north. Had it remained, it would undoubtedly have gained a decisive victory, since the Iberian forces were in much confusion. The Dutch prisoners were honourably treated, and in the end returned to Holland, where they met with a somewhat contemptuous reception on the part of their fellow-countrymen.

In 1627 the Dutch West India fleet fell in with a Mexican treasure fleet, captured this in its entirety, and the enormous wealth thus gained gave great impetus to the enterprises of this kind. The Dutch now raided the north of the Continent, and in 1629 prepared an important expedition against Pernambuco. Fifty vessels sailed from Holland for this purpose. The force landed under the Dutch commander Wardenburg, and commenced operations in earnest. First the town of Olinda, and then the neighbouring town of Recife, were captured, after very severe fighting. It was some while, however, ere the position of the Dutch became secure, and even the short passage between the twin towns could only be effected in circumstances of great danger and difficulty, owing to the raids of the investing Portuguese.

Soon after this the Dutch captured other neighbouring ports, such as Nazareth and Paraiba. The dominion of Holland in Northern Brazil now appeared assured. At the same time the counter attacks of the Portuguese were ceaseless, and the leaders of the Dutch garrisons in South America made representations to the Netherlands in favour of reinforcements and a commander of real note. In response, Prince Mauritz, Count of Nassau,[Pg 100] was sent out to take supreme control of the Dutch ventures on Brazilian soil. A personality more fitted for this particular purpose could scarcely have been lighted upon. For Prince Mauritz was not only a brave soldier, but a tactful and chivalrous enemy; indeed, his figure stands out in glowing colours in this campaign among the woods of the far southern coast, and the continuance of the Dutch dominion was no doubt largely due to his individuality. His arrival with nearly 3,000 men inspired the worn soldiers of Holland with new confidence. Ceará was captured, and São Jorge da Mina was attacked and taken as well.

In his few moments of leisure Count Mauritz gave his attention to the improvement of the town of Recife, Olinda being now utterly destroyed, as a result of the numerous battles of which it had stood as the unhappy centre. He drained the marshy ground, and planted it with oranges, lemons, and groves of coconut-trees, thus embellishing the country in the neighbourhood. Very little leisure was permitted for undertakings of this kind, for the Portuguese, persevering in their determination to regain their coastal territories, persisted in their attacks whenever an opportunity offered. A certain number, whose patriotism was less dear to them than their purses, consented to traffic with the Dutch, and the Jews upheld with enthusiasm the interests of the new-comers in this matter; but the Portuguese, on the whole, remained steadfast to their ideals, and refused to have any dealings with the intruders.

By this time the Dutch had every right to consider themselves as likely to remain the permanent possessors of Northern Brazil. The circumstance, as a matter of fact, which was destined seriously to disturb their dominion came in the light of a totally unexpected happening. Throughout the history of South America,[Pg 101] when its lands were the colonies of Spain and Portugal, events in the European Peninsula had nearly always been echoed in the Southern Continent. The event, of course, which had so great an influence on the affairs of both Brazil and the Spanish possessions was the revolt in 1640, when, after her eighty years' captivity, Portugal freed herself from the Spanish yoke.

Who first discovered the passage to the Pacific named after him.

In the north of the colony the new situation led to a somewhat curious and paradoxical state of affairs. The Dutch had overrun Northern Brazil for the sole ostensible reason that it was a possession of Spain. Now that Portugal had freed herself from Spain, and that Brazil in consequence was once again a purely Portuguese possession, all reason for the Dutch occupation of the coast of Brazil was at an end. In Europe the situation was this: The Dutch and the Spaniards had been for generations at deadly enmity, while the rivalry between the Portuguese and the Spaniards had induced a hostility rather less deadly, it is true, but, nevertheless, sufficiently keen for the purposes of war. Thus, with the freedom of Holland from Spain, and with the liberation of Portugal from Spain, the situation of the two, once vassal countries, was identical. They had an interest in common in preserving themselves from the rapacity of Spain.

This was all very well in Europe, but in South America matters worked out very differently in actual practice. The Dutch were now firmly established in Northern Brazil, having their headquarters at the town of Recife, or Pernambuco. It was not in human nature to give up the fruits of their conquest merely because the Portuguese had driven out the Spanish officials from their territories in Europe. The situation from the point of view of Holland was simple, and could be put in a nutshell. The Dutchmen were willing enough to enter into friendly[Pg 102] relations with the Portuguese, but not at the cost of the Brazilian possessions of the Dutch West Indian Company, which had been especially formed for the purpose of acquiring these.

Count Mauritz of Nassau had proved himself an able administrator, and it was now the turn of the Dutch to intrigue where before they had fought openly. In June, 1641, an agreement was negotiated in Europe between Portugal and the United States of the Netherlands, which concluded a truce for ten years. A year was allowed in order to carry this intelligence to the Dutch commanders in South America and elsewhere. In order to cement this new friendship, the Dutch further agreed to supply Portugal with arms and ammunition to aid in the common fight against Spain.

The Brazilian policy of Holland was, however, quite different from that proposed in Europe. Instructions were sent to Count Mauritz of Nassau ordering him to continue in the command, to extend the sphere of the Dutch dominion, and, if possible, to capture Bahia. These instructions were largely due to the belief held in Holland that Portugal would be unable to maintain her independence for any length of time.

When the news of the truce was first brought to Count Mauritz at Recife, all the outward marks of festivity and great rejoicings were exhibited. A general fraternization ensued, and the late enemies and temporary friends regaled each other at various banquets. Thus Paulo da Cunha, the Brazilian patriot, upon whose outlawed head the Count had put a price of 500 florins (to which da Cunha had retorted by placing a price of 2,000 cruzados upon the Count's), was now invited to feast with Nassau, and the two entered into an intimate and rather chaffing discussion upon the respective prices they had put upon each other's heads.[Pg 103]

Very shortly, however, the Brazilians found reason to suspect the sincerity of the Dutch professions of friendship. A Dutch fleet sailed north, captured São Christovão, and in other places seized a number of Portuguese vessels. The Portuguese now found themselves in something of a dilemma, owing to the very fact of the independence they had won. During the Spanish dominion the ports had been manned by the Spaniards as well as by the Portuguese. This, of course, was no longer the case. Bahia, for instance, had now lost a great part of its garrison. The 700 Spaniards and Neapolitans who had served there were honourably treated by the Portuguese, and were sent on their way to Europe, but were captured by the Dutch ere they had left the coast.

The Dutch aggression, as a matter of fact, was not confined to South America. A Dutch force of 2,000 regular troops had entered São Paul de Loanda, the capital of Angola. The loss of this important Portuguese possession on the west coast of Africa produced a direct effect on South America, for it was from here that the Brazilians had imported all their African slaves. Thus the whole of this traffic passed entirely into the hands of the Dutch for the time being. Mauritz of Nassau went the length of suggesting that the territory of Angola should become an appendage of that of Dutch Brazil, as the two were bound so closely by this traffic! The Dutch had also captured the Island of St. Thomas. In that place, however, the climate avenged the Portuguese to the full, and the mortality among the Dutch from fever in this island was appalling.

The Dutch in Brazil now sent an expedition to the north to obtain possession of the Province of Maranhão. They captured and plundered the capital, pillaging churches and ransacking the sugar factories. The Governor, Maciel, appears to have behaved very badly,[Pg 104] and with no little treachery towards his fellow-countrymen. Nassau, when Maciel surrendered, treated him with contempt, and imprisoned him. The situation had now become grimly farcical. In Europe the Dutch were supplying the Portuguese with arms and stores, and acting in general as their allies; while in Brazil the two nations were openly at war, and the Dutch were sending hostile expeditions in all directions!

Just at this period, indeed, the ambition of the Dutch appeared to swell to the highest point. Count Mauritz determined to push his conquests far to the south, and had even prepared an expedition for the capture of the Spanish town of Buenos Aires; but the attempt was frustrated by the hostility of the Portuguese and Indians nearer home. All this time, of course, Dutch fleets had been harrying the Pacific coast, and the Dutch had actually obtained a footing in Southern Chile, although this was not destined to prove permanent. With the extension of their boundaries, however, it was but natural that the difficulty of preserving their dominion should increase.

In Maranhão, freshly conquered as it was, rebellion broke out almost as soon as the Dutch had established themselves. Desperate fighting took place in the neighbourhood of the capital, and many barbarities were committed on both sides. The Dutch Governor, in a fit of exasperation, delivered twenty-five Portuguese to the savages of Ceará, and sent fifty to the Barbadoes to be sold as slaves. The English Governor, however, after he had received these latter on shore, set them at liberty, and administered a severe reproof to the agent who had offered white men for sale in this way. Owing to happenings such as these the bitterness between the two races increased.

In the end Maranhão was regained by the Portuguese,[Pg 105] and the Fort of Ceará itself was surprised by a force of Tapuya Indians and its garrison massacred. These occurrences were ominous, and the turn of the tide seemed to have set in. Prince Mauritz of Nassau now sent in his resignation, and, after leaving everything in a state of complete preparedness, set out for Europe, accompanied by no fewer than 1,400 persons all told, a force which could ill be spared from Brazil at that period. Among them were a few Indians who were taken to Holland to demonstrate to the inhabitants of that country the accomplishments of their countrymen, and the nature of the new subjects.

Nassau had governed the captured territories in a liberal and imperialistic spirit, and his personality had been popular to a certain extent even among the Portuguese. His absence was severely felt, and the policy of the West India Company, in itself parsimonious and somewhat petty, undoubtedly suffered much from the want of his presence; for during the time that he was in power he had restrained the excesses of his own people, and used no little tact towards the Portuguese. His rank, moreover, counted not a little in winning their esteem. The new authorities had not the influence over the soldiery that Prince Mauritz had enjoyed, and lacked not only experience but judgment.

Shortly after this Dirk van Hoogstraten, a Dutch officer, offered his services to the Portuguese, and various other symptoms portended a break up of the organization of the Dutch West India Company. Several attempts at insurrection took place in the neighbourhood of Recife itself, and the methods of the Dutch in repressing these became increasingly harsh. Some of the malcontents were hanged, and in several cases their hands were lopped off before death.

The Brazilian patriot, João Fernandes, now became[Pg 106] very prominent, and the Dutch in consequence began to be more and more harassed. The woods in the neighbourhood of the town sheltered numbers of discontented Portuguese and Indians, who had collected stores and weapons, and had hidden themselves in the recesses of the forests until the time came for them to sally out for the attack. Several expeditions sent out by the Dutch to break up these bands were unsuccessful. The Portuguese either eluded them, or the Dutch fell into the ambushes prepared for them, and suffered loss without being able to retaliate.

Every month the Portuguese grew stronger in numbers, and attacks were now frequent on the Dutch isolated settlements, many of which were captured and the inhabitants massacred. The Portuguese were determined to surrender none of the advantages which the nature of the country offered them, and thus the warfare still remained of a guerilla order, and upon the sallying out of a formidable Dutch force, the Portuguese, with their Indian allies, would disperse in the dense forests, and come together again when the Dutch had concluded their march.

The retaliatory methods of the Dutch served to enrage the Portuguese beyond all bearing. The Council of the Dutch West India Company issued a proclamation to the effect that all women and children in the towns, whose husbands and fathers were rebels, were to be evicted from their houses and left to fend for themselves. The idea seems to have been that these people would flock to the insurgents and thus hamper their movements. The result was that the unfortunate women and children were exposed to the mercy of the weather and the forests.

João Fernandes had now collected a formidable number of men, and, posting these about nine leagues to the[Pg 107] westward of Recife in a spot of great strategic advantage, he awaited the Dutch advance. One thousand five hundred Dutch troops, aided by a number of native auxiliaries, came on to the attack. Three times they advanced and drove the Portuguese and their Indian allies some way up the hill on the sides of which they were posted, but each time the Dutch lost more and more men from the ambushes in the thick cane-brake which covered the ground. In the end the Dutch retired, having suffered very severe casualties. It is said that 370 of their force were found dead upon the field. Beyond this a number died on the retreat, while many hundreds were wounded. The Portuguese assert that their army consisted of 1,200 whites, aided by about 100 Indians and negroes. This fight had very important consequences, since it enabled the Portuguese forces to arm themselves with the weapons left on the field by the dead and wounded Dutch.

During all this time the authorities at Bahia had remained quiescent, since officially no state of war existed, and in the eyes of the Government the Dutch were supposed merely to be quelling some revolutionary movements ere they departed for Europe! Now the time came for this farce to be ended, and the Governor of Bahia sent troops to the north to join the insurgents in their struggle against the Dutch. The traitor Hoogstraten now definitely joined these forces, and the whole of the country south of Recife fell once more into the hands of the Portuguese. During this period the bitterness between the two armies was still further accentuated by the massacre of Portuguese by the Tapuya Indians at Cunhau. This atrocity, as a matter of fact, was perpetrated on the initiative of the Indians alone, but at the time the Dutch—unjustly, as it turned out—were blamed for it. This circumstance induced retaliation, and eventu[Pg 108]ally caused many barbarous acts to be done on both sides.

After the fortunes of war had fluctuated on various occasions and the Dutch had alternately been defeated, received reinforcements, and become temporarily victorious again, the war came to an end. The Dutch consented to withdraw entirely from Brazil, to surrender Recife and all the remaining forts which they possessed, as well as the Island of Fernando de Noronha. In return they were granted an amnesty, which was extended to the Indians in their service.

Arrangements had been carried almost to a conclusion when the Dutch showed themselves prepared to continue the campaign in South America. This threat of renewed aggression had the effect of increasing the liberality of the Portuguese terms. The ensuing negotiations were considerably assisted by Charles II. of England, who, about to marry Catherine of Portugal, strongly took up the cause of the Portuguese in South America, and announced to the Dutch his intention to ally his forces with those of the Portuguese, and, if necessary, proceed to extremities. These representations of Charles were taken up by France and Portugal, and the Dutch, as a result, decided to waive some of their wilder claims. Before, however, the treaty was finally concluded, it was found necessary to pay certain sums in the nature of a ransom to the Dutch. These consisted of 4,000,000 cruzados, in money, sugar, tobacco, and salt, which were to be paid in sixteen annual instalments. All the artillery taken in Brazil, which was marked either with the arms of the United Provinces of the Netherlands or of the West India Company, were to be restored to their former owners.

From a seventeenth-century engraving.

Thus, although Portugal may be said in one sense to have cooped the Dutch up within a narrow strip of[Pg 109] remaining territory, and to have been on the point of expelling them from Brazil by the sword, actually the withdrawal was only effected by the payment of this heavy ransom. As Southey has it: "The Portuguese consented to pay for the victory which they had obtained."

[Pg 110]



With South America now definitely settled, we may glance at the various provinces which constituted the Spanish American Continent. For a long while after the first establishment of the Spanish dominion the divisions between the various districts remained far fewer in number than was later the case. South America may be said to have been partitioned off in the early days into four main divisions. The northernmost of these was commonly known as Terra Firma, and comprised New Granada and the neighbouring districts. This area is now occupied by the Republics of Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador.

To the south of Terra Firma the Viceroyalty of Peru extended itself, bordered on the south by the Province of Chile; while to the east, occupying the remainder of the Continent as far as the Brazilian frontier, and stretching over the fertile plains to the south, was the great Province of Paraguay, which included the territories now contained in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and part of Bolivia.

Seeing that the head-quarters of the Colonial Government was vested in Peru, it would be as well to deal with this portion of the Continent first. Peru constituted in the first place the sole Viceroyalty, and subsequently the senior Viceroyalty, of Spanish South America. Lima, its capital and the seat of government, took care to dis[Pg 111]tinguish itself from any other colonial city of the Continent. Certainly no other town possessed such buildings and architectural decorations as those of which Lima could boast. The home of the Viceroy, it was a city of pomp, processions, and stately movements. These, as a matter of fact, were by no means out of place, when the great importance of the spot from a governmental point of view is considered. Every matter of consequence, in whatever province it may have had its origin, was referred for settlement to Lima, and it was here that the Viceroy and his Court gave judgments, the effects of which were echoed thousands of miles away.

Of all the Viceroyalties in the world, that of Peru was undoubtedly the proudest during the earlier Spanish colonial period, for the holder of the high office governed not merely a country, but the greater half of a vast Continent. Seeing that the colonial policy of Spain invariably tended to pit one of her subordinate Powers against another in order to avoid the acquirement of too much authority on the part of any special person, it was only natural that the authority of the Viceroy, although great, was not supreme even in his own dominion. There were matters which had to be referred to the Court of Spain, but even in these the importance of Lima remained in one sense unimpaired, for Lima then became the mouthpiece of the Continent, and it was through her officials that the case was presented for the deliberations which pursued their leisurely course in Europe.

The palace of the Viceroy represented, naturally, one of the chief buildings in the capital. Impressive as was the authority of this high official, he was wont to live even his private life in great state. As a rule he would set apart a short while in the morning and afternoon for the personal reception of petitions. There were, of course, numerous public functions in which it was his[Pg 112] duty to take part. Thus, on the arrival of any new laws or decrees from Spain, the Viceroy was accustomed to proceed to the Council Hall, where these were delivered to him. He would then salute the documents by kissing the King's signature and by laying the paper on his head.

Many of these Viceroys were notably honourable men, who refrained from taking a greater share than was necessary in the financial arrangements of the New World. At the same time, the opportunities for self-enrichment during the five years' tenure of office were quite unusually numerous. Not a few of the occupants of this post took advantage of these, and the extravagant manner of their subsequent life in Spain upheld to the full the popular tales which were current concerning the fabulous wealth of the Americas.

To go back to the early days of Peru, the inception of this colony, as has been said, was attended by even more violent disturbances than those common to its neighbours. We have already seen how, each the victim of strenuous jealousies, Almagro was executed at the instance of Pizarro, and how Pizarro himself a few years later was assassinated by the adherents of the dead Almagro's party, who now succeeded in raising to power his son, the younger Almagro.

This, however, by no means ended the era of catastrophe and chaos into which the great but youthful colony of Peru was now plunged. Very shortly after the death of Pizarro, Cristobal Vaca de Castro arrived in Peru on a mission from the Court of Spain to investigate the causes of the disturbances and warlike rumours which had reached the Mother Country. De Castro found himself in opposition to the younger Almagro, and a battle was fought. Almagro's forces were defeated, and he himself, although he escaped for a while to Cuzco, was captured and executed.[Pg 113]

In 1543 Blasco Nuñez Vela, the first Viceroy appointed by Spain, arrived in Peru, where he found de Castro in charge of the Government. Nuñez Vela's methods proved themselves arbitrary in the extreme. Scarcely had he landed when he sent an abrupt command to de Castro to resign his post, and to place himself forthwith in attendance on the new Viceroy. This action roused the anger of the Pizarro faction. Its adherents revolted and established themselves at Cuzco.

It was precisely at this moment that a totally new factor in the way of officialdom presented itself in Peru. With the advent of the Royal Audience, a court of judges, newly founded and sent out from Spain, the situation grew still more wildly complicated. The Royal Audience, its dignity and unanimity shattered by the turmoil in the midst of which it found itself, divided its forces equally on either side. A battle was fought between the Viceroy and the forces of Gonzales Pizarro, in the course of which the latter obtained a decided victory, and Blasco Nuñez de Vela was slain.

Having witnessed an almost continuous process of downfall of the various authorities, it is only natural that the sense of loyalty to Spain should have become somewhat obscured in the minds of the Peruvians. As a result, many of the colonists now urged independence of government, and begged Gonzales Pizarro to accept the throne of Peru.

Spain, judging that the matter had gone too far to be dealt with by any force but one of a magnitude which would have been inconvenient in the extreme to dispatch to so great a distance, now had resource to diplomacy. An ecclesiastic, Pedro de la Gasca, famed for his subtle methods and diplomatic strategy, was despatched to the disturbed colony. Gonzales Pizarro refused to acknowledge this new official, although a[Pg 114] command to this effect was impressed upon him by a letter sent by the King of Spain.

The rupture was now complete. In the first instance the loyal troops were decisively defeated by Gonzales Pizarro; but very shortly afterwards the deep methods of La Gasca bore fruit. He was joined by troops from Chile, and by numerous forces from various other districts, while Pizarro's men began to desert him, continuing the process until the bold leader was left practically alone. Seeing there was no help for it, Gonzales Pizarro surrendered, and was in turn beheaded.

It is curious to remark that in these early and disturbed days of Peru no single leader was left to die a natural death. A second Viceroy, Antonio de Mendoza, was now appointed. He proved himself an able ruler, but, unfortunately, he died before he had occupied his post for two years. A further epoch of rebellion now followed, until Don Andres Hurtado de Mendoza, Marquis de Cañete, was sent out from Spain to occupy the Viceroyalty. It was undoubtedly due to the strong rule of this important noble that affairs in Peru promised to settle themselves definitely. After his death, however, in 1561, his successor, Don Zuñiga, Count de Nieva, was assassinated almost as soon as he took possession of his post.

It was during the government of one of Zuñiga's successors, Toledo, that the young Inca, Tupac-Amaru, was executed in the great central square of Cuzco. The horror which this act is said to have instilled in the minds of the Indians is indescribable. The race had now sunk into a permanent state of melancholy.

All this while Spain had been unceasing in her demands for gold and silver, and it was necessary to work the mines strenuously in order to satisfy the greed of the Mother Country. As time went on, indeed, the difficulties which lay in the path of a conscientious Viceroy[Pg 115] tended to increase rather than to diminish. It is true that the country did not now depend entirely for its prosperity upon its gold, for the valuable drugs and other natural products were now obtaining some recognition, and the cereals and general agricultural growths introduced from Europe were now becoming of genuine importance. Other matters, however, were beginning to cause deep anxiety to the ruling Powers. The buccaneers had now made their appearance in the Pacific, and the alarm spread by their presence frequently caused an entire cessation of trade. The jealousies, moreover, between the Spaniards and the colonials tended to increase, as the arrogance of the former grew and the resentment of the latter deepened.

True to her policy to discourage any attempt at authority on the part of the colonists, Spain had continued strenuously to refuse to appoint any but Spaniards to the highest posts. No single Viceroy, for instance, from first to last, was American born, although the holders of this high office included in their numbers four grandees, two priests, one Bishop, one Archbishop, three licentiates, and a number of military officers.

After a while, as was only natural, the tendency arose to split up the main areas of colonial government. Thus, in 1718, the Viceroyalty of Santa Fé de Bogotá was established, and in 1777 that of Buenos Aires. Neither of these innovations had occurred a day too soon. With the growing population and the increasing political and commercial importance of the Continent, the strained machinery with which it had been attempted to govern all matters from a single centre had broken down and become useless so far as the remoter provinces were concerned. In the course of the settlements and of the industrial progress, such as it was, the claims and rights of the aborigines had become a negligible factor. Indeed,[Pg 116] from any but an industrial point of view, the existence of the descendants of the Incas had practically been ignored.

In 1632 a minor revolution of Indians occurred, which resulted in a quaint species of naval engagement on Lake Titicaca, with the native balsas, or rafts, posing as diminutive battleships. In 1661 there was another outbreak. This was organized by Antonio Gallado, who succeeded in gaining possession of the town of La Paz, in which neighbourhood the Spanish authority became almost extinct for three years.

It was not until 1780, however, that the Spaniards met with the first really serious shock of Indian insurrection since the first extinction of the power of the Incas. This belated attempt was destined to be the last. The revolution had its origin in the system of forced labour which, despite the warnings and commands that from time to time were received on the subject from Spain, was continued to be imposed on the Indians.

In addition to this the unfortunate people were made to suffer further wrongs sufficient to rouse the most meek to rebellion. Thus by the laws of the Indies officials were appointed to provide the Indians with goods at certain prices. This system became abused to the point that the Spanish officials would distribute as much of these goods as they thought fit among the Indians at a price arbitrarily named by themselves. In consequence of this the impoverished folk were obliged to pay enormous and unfair prices for goods of which they were probably in no need of whatever, and did not desire.

An intelligent Indian, José Gabriel Condorcanqui, determined on a desperate effort to alleviate the condition of his people. Condorcanqui had received a far more generous education than the majority of his fellows, and[Pg 117] had studied at the College of San Bernardo, in Cuzco. He spoke the Castilian tongue perfectly, and was thus enabled to hold a minor official post in the Spanish service. Claiming descent from the Royal Incas, he subsequently added the name of Tupac-Amaru to his own.

From a seventeenth-century engraving.

It was on November 4, 1780, that Tupac-Amaru, by which name he was now universally known, made his first move. Gathering some trusty men about him, he captured a Spanish corregidor, Arriaga, and, charging that official with offences against the Indians, caused him to be executed. On this the Indians flocked to their new defender's standard, and he was soon at the head of 6,000 men. Tupac-Amaru now determined on an extensive campaign. After an attack on Cuzco, he marched with 60,000 Indians to besiege La Paz itself, while the isolated Spanish forces were overwhelmed in all directions.

La Paz succeeded in resisting the desperate onslaught of the Indian army, and the tide of fortune now turned against the Inca leader. After a battle waged in the open, he was captured and put to a horrible death. His tongue was torn out by the executioner; each of his limbs was attached to a horse, then, the four horses being furiously driven in different directions, his body was torn into four portions. It was in this way that the unfortunate Tupac-Amaru died, the last of the Inca race who attempted to assert the rights of his people.

With the exception of rare revolts such as these, and of the periodical onslaughts which the buccaneers of all nations made upon the Pacific ports, it is a little remarkable to consider how few dramatic episodes took place during the colonial era in Peru. It is true that one or two events occurred deserving of note. Thus, in 1551, the University of San Marcos was established at Lima,[Pg 118] and was the first institution of the kind to be founded in the New World. In 1573 occurred the first auto-da-fé, followed by numerous other such grim ceremonies, for Lima was naturally the head-quarters of the Inquisition. In 1746 the capital suffered from a terrible catastrophe, being visited by an earthquake which shattered the senior city of the Continent, while at the same time a great tidal wave swept away the port of the capital, Callao.

Beyond this one Viceroy succeeded another; the mines continued to be worked, and, in response to the incessant clamourings of Spain, the miners were flogged and driven willy-nilly to their unwelcome task. As time went on the relative importance of Peru compared to the neighbouring States tended to diminish rather than to increase. The most profitable and most easily worked of the then known gold and silver mines had been practically denuded of their treasure. There were others in plenty, but these were more remote, and the difficulty of communication which then prevailed was sufficiently great to render impossible any attempt at a remunerative working of these. With the decrease in the working of minerals greater attention was now paid to the pastoral and agricultural industries, and with the growth of these the value and importance of the neighbouring countries increased vastly. This state of affairs was at length acknowledged by the Court of Spain, and was emphasized in 1776 when Buenos Aires was made the seat of a Viceroyalty, and was thus released from the last shred of supervision on the part of the Peruvian officials.

We are now approaching the stage of the War of Independence. This, in Peru, as elsewhere, was heralded by the newly-acquired liberal spirit of the colonials, which, in spite of repressions and precautions on the part of Spain, could no longer be kept in check. It is true that in Peru, the chief centre of Spanish officialdom in the[Pg 119] Continent, these manifestations were rather slower in asserting themselves than in the neighbouring countries, but this was inevitable when the extent of the moral influence employed by the numerous officials, and the active discouragement exerted by the important garrison of the Spanish headquarters of the Continent, are taken into consideration.

Curiously enough, the history of one of Peru's last Viceroys is permeated with an atmosphere of romance in which the careers of his predecessors were almost entirely lacking. Ambrose O'Higgins, the most striking figure of all the lengthy line of Viceroys, had started life as a bare-footed Irish boy. He is said to have been employed by Lady Bective to run errands at Dangan Castle, Co. Meath. Through the influence of an uncle in Spain, a priest, the lad was sent to Cadiz. From there, having in the meanwhile become familiar with the Spanish tongue, he proceeded to South America, landed in Buenos Aires, and then travelled westwards across the Andes, arriving in safety on the Pacific coast. Here he appears to have adopted the profession of an itinerant trader, journeying to and fro through the territories of the Viceroyalty of Peru and the Government of Chile. His career during this period of his existence was unbrokenly humble, and certainly the adventurous Irishman himself, even in his wildest moments, could scarcely have possessed any inkling of the marvellous future which awaited him.

The first step in this direction was made in one of his excursions to the south, when by a fortunate chance he obtained an opportunity to demonstrate his inherent warlike qualities in the battles against the Araucanian Indians. Having once got his foot upon the official ladder, O'Higgins never stepped back. The Home Government of Spain appeared to regard his career with a benevolent interest. He obtained the rank of Colonel;[Pg 120] from this he was promoted to that of Brigadier-General, and was made Count of Balenar. A little later he was made Major-General, and in 1792 he attained to the rank of Captain-General of Chile, and the title of Marquis of Osorno was conferred upon him. Two years later he was promoted once again, this time to the rank of Lieutenant-General.

The progressive policy of O'Higgins occasionally brought him into collision with some of the more retrogressive officials; but the strength of his character appears to have prevailed throughout, and it is certainly to the credit of Spain that it singled out and upheld so courageous and broad-minded an official.

O'Higgins's greatest office, however, was still before him. In 1796 he was created Viceroy of Peru, and thus became the highest official throughout the New World. No fairy story has ever produced a more startling study of career and contrast than that which had fallen to the lot of the erstwhile bare-footed Irish boy.

The remarkable history of the family of O'Higgins, however, does not end even here. Ambrose O'Higgins was undoubtedly the most brilliant Viceroy who had ever served Spain in the New World. The candle of this high office, as it were, flamed up in a great, but transient, flicker ere it was for ever extinguished, and it was O'Higgins who fed this flame. With the passing of Ambrose O'Higgins we are confronted with the next generation of his family. As the father had done in the interests of regal Spain, so did the son in the service of the southern patriots. Bernardo O'Higgins, indeed, was destined to accomplish yet greater things in the cause of the Independence of South America. Ambrose O'Higgins was one of Spain's last Viceroys; his son Bernardo became one of the first Presidents of the New Republican World.

[Pg 121]



In Chile, as has been said, the conquest of the land was effected under far more strenuous circumstances than those which applied to any other part of South America, with the exception, perhaps, of the coasts in the neighbourhood of the estuary of the River Plate. In the early days of Chile it is literally true that the colonists were obliged to go about their labours with a handful of seed in one hand and a weapon of defence in the other. It was owing to this constant warlike preoccupation that the early cities of Chile were of so comparatively mean an order, for, harassed by continuous Indian attacks as they were, the settlers could find no leisure to devote their energies to anything of a pretentious or even reasonably commodious order in the way of town-building.

In the north of the Continent the enervating climate, facile conquest, and easy life had naturally tended to atrophy the energy of the Spaniards. In Chile, on the other hand, the constant and fierce struggles of the warlike natives, the hardships and frugal living, and the temperate and exhilarating atmosphere, tended not only to preserve the energy, but even to increase the virility of the settler in the south.

It is true that in the central provinces of the country, where the Indians were less numerous and less warlike than the Araucanians of the south, a certain number of the natives were distributed into encomiendas, and set to[Pg 122] work at enforced tasks, but the number of these, compared with those which existed in the centre and north of the Continent, remained utterly insignificant. As to the Araucanians themselves, their indomitable nature absolutely forbade an existence under such conditions.

It was not only with the aborigines of their new country that the Spanish settlers in Chile had to contend. Nature had in store for them a species of catastrophe which was admirably adapted to test their fortitude to an even greater degree. Thus in 1570 the newly-founded city of Concepcion was brought to the ground by an earthquake, and some eighty years later the larger centre of Santiago became a heap of smoking ruins from the same cause. Indeed, throughout the history of both the colonial and independent eras Chile has been from time to time visited by such terrible calamities as these. In every instance, however, the disaster has left the inhabitants undismayed, and new and larger towns have risen upon the sites of the old.

Chile, probably owing to the comparatively limited area of its soil, was never raised to the rank of a Viceroyalty; nevertheless the Governorship of the province was, of course, one of the most important on the Continent. After the death of Valdivia on the field of battle, Francisco Villagran was elected as chief of the new colony. At the period when he assumed command there had come about one of the most severe of the many crises through which the young colony was destined to pass. The Araucanians, emboldened by their victories, now pressed on to the attack from all sides with an impetuosity and confidence which proved irresistible. The south was for the time being abandoned, and the Spanish women and children were hurriedly sent by sea to Valparaiso, while the harassed army retired towards the north.[Pg 123]

Presently Lautaro, the famous Araucanian chief, at the head of his undefeated army, marched in the track of the retreating Spaniards, and threatened Santiago itself. But for an access of over-confidence on the part of the natives, it is likely enough that the Spanish power would have been completely swept from Chile. Villagran, returning to the capital with reinforcements, found the investing Araucanian army in a totally unprepared condition. Some were carousing, many slept, and in any case the majority were drunk, a state to which, as a matter of fact, these southern Indians were only too prone at all times. Villagran, perceiving his opportunity, fell upon the demoralized native army, and defeated them utterly with great slaughter. Lautaro himself, the flower of the Araucanian warriors, perished in the ensuing struggle.

Villagran had thoroughly deserved this success, which had crowned one of the most exhausting periods of the terrific struggle. He possessed, in the first place, many fine qualities as a leader, and was one of the toughest, bravest, and most honest of the conquistadores. Unfortunately for himself, these qualities did not appear to suffice in the eyes of the highest Spanish official in South America. Shortly after his victory Villagran was superseded by Garcia Hurtado de Mendoza, son of the Viceroy of Peru. Mendoza possessed many good points; at the same time, he had to a full degree many of the faults which characterized so great a number of the Spanish noblemen of the period. Thus, he was unduly arrogant and autocratic towards his comrades of inferior rank, flinging Villagran into prison on his first arrival in the country as the result of little beyond a whim. On the other hand, it must be admitted that Mendoza spared no endeavours to conciliate and treat with kindness the Araucanian Indians.

Garcia Hurtado de Mendoza had some reason for his[Pg 124] arrogance. At twenty years of age, when sent by his father to Chile at the head of his force, he had already distinguished himself by his bravery, and, according to one biographer, had already fought in Corsica, Tuscany, Flanders, and in France. Even in that age there were not many who could boast of having effected all this when still in their teens. It was little wonder that he was high-spirited, wilful, and impetuous. Ercilla represents him as very ardent in battle, sometimes fighting himself, sometimes urging on his soldiers, always in movement. At the time of the Araucanian invasion he addressed his troops in the most humane terms. One of his sayings was to the effect that—"An enemy who surrenders is a friend whom we ought to protect; it is a greater thing to give life than to destroy it." Sentiments of this kind were doubly commendable when, judging from their rarity, they could scarcely have been popular.

Notwithstanding his good intentions towards the Araucanians, Mendoza soon found himself involved in a struggle to the death with the now hereditary foes of his race, for the southern Indians—maintaining their reputation—proved themselves implacable, and would hear nothing of compromise. After many fierce battles, in the course of which fortune ebbed either way, Mendoza succeeded in capturing Caupolicán, who was tortured to death, an episode which caused a short lull in the fevered activities of the Spanish forces.

In 1560 Mendoza was abruptly ordered by King Philip II. of Spain to surrender his post as Governor to Francisco Villagran. That fine old conquistador was now worn out in body and a wreck of his former self. The furious combats with the Araucanians broke out afresh, and continued unabated. A series of disasters shattered the spirit of Villagran, and sent him to his grave. Following this came the usual succession of Governors,[Pg 125] and the unbroken continuance of the Indian wars, victory and disaster alternately succeeding each other to an extent which would prove monotonous if an attempt at description were made.

One of the chief points of sailing of the great East Indian trading galleons of Spain.
From a seventeenth-century engraving.

There is only one instance, I believe, of a white man having gained the complete confidence of the Araucanians, and this did not occur until a century after the two races had first come into contact with each other. It is said that in 1642—thirty-nine years after the town of Valdivia had been captured from the Spaniards and destroyed—Colonel Alonzo de Villanueva, who had been sent to the south with the object of regaining possession of the city, effected this without bloodshed by the employment of an extraordinary amount of tact and patience. He landed at a point a little to the south of Valdivia, and boldly made his appearance quite alone among the astonished warriors. He remained with them for two years, when, having won their respect and confidence, he proposed that they should appoint him their Governor at Valdivia, explaining that by this move they would effect a reconciliation with the Spaniards, and, in consequence, obtain many material benefits. The Araucanians readily fell in with the idea, and in 1645 Valdivia was rebuilt, and was again populated. Undoubtedly in the middle of the seventeenth century time was of very little value in Chile, and in any case it would seem that to effect so brilliant a result at so little cost was worth the two years' wait!

In 1577 Sir Francis Drake made his appearance in the Pacific, and was the pioneer of the adventurers who were to follow in the wake of his keel. Thus new anxieties were added to the minds of the Chilean officials, although it must be said that the colonists, when they once became accustomed to the visits of these foreigners, gave them an increasingly friendly reception, notwithstanding the hostility evinced towards them by the Spaniards. It[Pg 126] was not long before this new and grim type of visitor increased in numbers and grew cosmopolitan.

The Dutch, always on the look out for a weapon with which to flog their enemies the Spaniards, had managed to glean intelligence of the successful warfare which the Araucanians in Southern Chile were waging against the Spanish troops. When the news of the separation of Portugal from Spain reached Holland, the position of that country's forces in Brazil became automatically somewhat unsettled—at all events in theory, and finally in practice. It was then that the idea occurred to them to establish settlements in equally fertile and less tropical climates.

A squadron was fitted out by the Dutch navigator, Brouwer, and in 1642 it sailed into the Pacific Ocean, and the troops effected a landing on the Island of Chiloe. Here they succeeded in inflicting a defeat upon the Spanish forces. It was now the policy of the invader to establish friendly relations with the Araucanians. Before long they persuaded a number of the chiefs to enter into an alliance with them; this brought about, they prepared to establish themselves permanently in the south of Chile.

First of all they erected a fort at Valdivia without encountering any opposition on the part of the natives. After this they began to trade; but they permitted their lust of gain to outweigh their discretion. So eager did they show themselves to obtain gold in exchange for weapons and other objects coveted by the dusky races, that the Araucanians became suspicious, and in the end awoke to the fact that the presence of the Dutch in their country was due to precisely the same causes as had attracted the Spanish. Disillusioned, they withdrew their hastily extended friendship, and retired to their own haunts, lending a passive rather than an active resistance to those strangers with whom they still remained[Pg 127] on outward terms of friendship. The relations, however, became more strained when, on the rare occasions when the two races came into contact, the Indians refused to supply the Dutch with provisions. This policy of the Araucanians won them their object, for in the end the Dutch, unable to subsist without the supplies for which they depended on the Indians, were forced to relinquish their settlements and to abandon the country.

An English expedition, with more peaceful intent, under the command of Sir John Narborough, set sail from England towards the end of 1669, and arrived in Valdivia in 1670. On this occasion the hands of the Commander were strictly tied, since he had received implicit injunctions not to fall foul of the Spaniards; thus, when he endeavoured to trade with the Indians, the Spaniards took prisoner his lieutenant and three of his men, whom they detained.

Sir John, it is said, contemplated rescuing his men by force, but the fate of the unfortunate Sir Walter Raleigh, according to some ancient historians, stayed his hand, and he reluctantly sailed from the coast, leaving these four members of his crew prisoners of the Spaniards.

Rolt, who published a "History of South America" in 1766, has a rather curious account of the methods by which the inhabitants of the town of Concepcion in Chile carried on their business with the Indians.

"There is a beneficial trade carried on by the inhabitants of the city of Conception, with the Indians behind them, who trade with the Spaniards in a very peculiar manner, though they have never negociated a peace with Spain. These Indians are called Aucaes, and inhabit the mountains, where they retain the primitive customs and manners of their ancestors. When a Spaniard comes to trade with them, he addresses himself to the Cacique, or Chief, who, on perceiving a stranger, cries out, What, are you come? The Spaniard answers,[Pg 128] Yes, I am come. Then the Cacique says, Well? What have you brought me? The merchant answers, A present. And the prince replies, Then you are welcome. He then provides a lodging for the merchant near his own, where all the family go to visit the stranger, in expectation of some present; and, in the meantime, a horn is sounded to give notice to the Indians who are abroad that a merchant has arrived. This soon assembles them together about the merchant, who exhibits his treasure, consisting of knives, scissors, pins, needles, ribbands, small looking-glasses, and other toys, which the Indians carry away, after settling the price, without getting anything in exchange; but, after a certain time has elapsed, the horn is sounded again, by the direction of the Cacique; when the Indians immediately return, and punctually perform their respective engagements, the goods they deal in being cattle, skins of wild beasts, and some gold; but they bring very small quantities of the latter, as they are sensible how dear the possession of that metal cost their ancestors and their neighbours."

In the various treaties which were engineered from time to time between the Spaniards and the Araucanians, one of the most important clauses which the Spaniards invariably endeavoured to insert was to the effect that the Indians were to oppose to the utmost of their power by force of arms the founding of any foreign colony in the territories occupied by them. Thus the attitude of the Araucanians towards foreigners was apt to depend to some extent on whether they happened to be at peace or at war with their Spanish neighbours. It was owing to this, moreover, that the European adventurers found themselves attacked when they had very little reason to fear an onslaught. One of these instances occurred in 1638, when the natives murdered the survivors of a shipwrecked Dutch crew. There were times, on the other hand, when the enmity between the Indians and the Spaniards induced the former to render every assistance[Pg 129] to the rovers who came, whether by accident or design, to their coasts. It is certain that the accounts of these foreigners retailed by the Spaniards to the natives were not of a nature to render the intruders popular in the eyes of the dusky southern dwellers.

During the chief part of the colonial era the town of Valdivia, in Southern Chile, was employed as a sort of convict station for the white criminals of Peru and Chile, and incidentally for a number of persons whose sole crimes were of a political order. These prisoners were employed in the erection of the fortifications of the spot, and the ruins which still exist attest the solidarity and the extent of the buildings. A large annual sum was wont to be allotted for the maintenance of these fortifications, and for other objects connected with the sustenance of both the prisoners and the garrison. It seems to have been necessary to expend only a very small proportion of this sum on the objects for which the allowance was originally intended, and from its enormous financial opportunities the post of Governor of Valdivia was one of the most sought after of any on the west coast of South America.

The later colonial era of Chile, like that of Peru, is very little concerned with dramatic episode, with the exception, of course, of the raids on the part of foreigners which took place from time to time along the coast. Yet it is curious to remark that in Chile, at the same time as these buccaneers were burning, plundering, and fighting, other vessels, more especially those of the French, were carrying on a trade in peace with the various ports of the state. This commerce, moreover, continued growing steadily, and the influence of the foreigners upon the Chileans in time became marked, and was largely responsible for the broad-minded views which prevailed among the colonials.

[Pg 130]



We have seen how the Spaniards, having in the first instance attempted without success to establish themselves in Buenos Aires, had made their way up the great river system to Asuncion, and, having become firmly settled there, had in the end extended their dominions to the south again, and had founded the town of Buenos Aires for the second time. In the early days of these particular settlements, notwithstanding this extension to the south-east, Asuncion remained the capital of the province, which was known as that of Paraguay. The two currents of civilization, the one advancing from the south-east, and the other proceeding from the north-west, at length met in the territory which is now occupied by the north-western Territories of Argentina.

It may be said that Argentina of to-day was colonized from three directions—the first by means of the River Plate and its tributaries, the second by the passage of the Andes from the west, and the third by an advance from the direction of Bolivia. Thus the north-western section of present-day Argentina had become, as it were, the centre towards which all the Castilian forces were converging.

As time went on, the balance of importance tended to assert itself in the direction of Buenos Aires. Little by little the city of Asuncion, although remaining notable from the administrative point of view, became of less and less standing as a commercial centre. That which un[Pg 131]doubtedly helped to retard the progress of Asuncion was the almost continual strife which prevailed in that town between the Jesuits and the members, not only of the laity, but of the rival clergy as well. The Jesuits, moreover, were the reverse of popular with the Spanish landowners of Paraguay, for the reason that the missionaries had collected together the Indians in self-supporting communities and towns, thus depriving the colonists of the enforced labour which they now looked upon as one of their rights.

These Jesuit settlements in Paraguay have been too fully dealt with to need anything in the way of an elaborate description here. Let it suffice to say that the famous communities were in many respects socialistic. The land, for instance, throughout the mission areas was held for the common good, and its produce was wont to be divided into three parts—one of which was devoted to the Church, the second to the State, and the third to the private use of the Indian agriculturalists. It is now generally conceded that, in consideration of the gross, sensual, and totally unintelligent human clay with which the Missionary Fathers had to deal, their efforts were astonishingly successful. At the same time, the labours of these Jesuits were carried on largely in the dark—that is to say, fearing the influence of the white man upon their converts, they refused admission to their land to any Spaniards. This method, as has since been proved, was fully justified by the colonizing circumstances which prevailed at the time; nevertheless, it was only natural that it should have provoked a deep anger on the part of the Spanish settlers, in whose eyes these missions of the Jesuits had as their chief end the enriching of the pockets of the Order at the expense of those of the colonists.

Towards the middle of the seventeenth century matters reached a crisis in Asuncion. The newly-appointed[Pg 132] Bishop, Don Bernardino de Cardenas, showed himself most actively opposed to the works of the Jesuits in Paraguay. An open hostility soon manifested itself between the two powers, and the strife grew more and more bitter until, not only the entire body of the clergy, but the Governor, the officials, and the laymen were involved as well. Whatever were the faults which the Jesuits may have committed in Paraguay—and to what extent these have been exaggerated is now patent—it is quite certain that Cardenas was a being totally unfitted to be invested with the dignity and responsibility of a Bishop's office.

It is true that his eloquence in preaching was superb; this, however, undoubtedly arose rather from an acutely developed artistic sense than from any profound religious convictions. Cardenas, in fact, showed himself upon occasions hysterical and wayward to a point which was absolutely childish. This peculiarity in a person holding so important a position as his naturally produced utter confusion in Paraguay. According to Mr. R.B. Cunninghame Graham, these were some of the methods by which the Bishop in the end utterly scandalized the more sober of his congregation:

"The Bishop, not being secure of his position, had recourse to every art to catch the public eye: fasting and scourging, prayers before the altar, two Masses every day, barefooted processions—himself the central figure carrying a cross—each had their turn. Along the deep red roads between the orange gardens which lead from Asuncion towards the Recoleta on Campo Grande, he used to take his way accompanied by Indians crowned with flowers, giving his benediction as he passed, to turn away (according to himself) the plague, and to insure a fertile harvest. Not being content with the opportunities which life afforded, he instituted an evening service in church in order to prepare for death."

[Pg 133]

These, however, were only some of the milder uses to which the Bishop put his histrionic talents in order to prove his claim to sainthood.

The fortunes of Cardenas varied considerably, but on the whole his extraordinary versatility kept him afloat in the public estimation. He at one time, however, very nearly incurred the popular resentment owing to his having taken up the body of a suicide, and caused it to be interred in holy ground from the force of a mere whim. The uproar consequent on this he managed to overrule, and having got the better of Don Gregorio, the Civil Governor, the Bishop actually elected himself Governor in his place, and now became supreme in Asuncion, from which place the Jesuits were forced to flee in haste to their establishments in the country.

Each side now brought endless charges against the other, and in the middle of the wordy warfare the validity of Cardenas's appointment to the Bishopric was questioned. Nevertheless, Cardenas succeeded in retaining his office, and after a while issued a declaration excommunicating the entire Order of the Jesuits, after which, having sworn to the people that he possessed a Decree from the King of Spain, he issued an order commanding the expulsion of the Jesuits from Paraguay. This was carried into effect at Asuncion, and the College of the Order was sacked and gutted by fire. Outside the boundaries of the capital, however, this command had no effect whatever, and the great settlements of the Jesuits far away in the forests were totally unaffected by any mandate given at Asuncion.

The Bishop had now gone too far in his policy of aggression. The High Court at Charcas summoned him to appear before its tribunal at once, and to give his reasons for the expulsion of the Jesuits and his appointment of himself as Governor of Paraguay. At the same time a[Pg 134] new Governor, Don Sebastian de Leon, was appointed to Paraguay. Cardenas determined to resist. He raised an army, and, claiming Divine inspiration, promised his followers an undoubted victory, and ordered them to supply themselves with cords in order to bind the prisoners which should fall to their share. The rival forces met just outside Asuncion. The unfortunate troops of Cardenas found no use for their cords, since, totally defeated, they fled in haste. Judging mercy to be most seasonable at this juncture, the new Governor commanded his men to march to the capital, but to desist from pursuing the defeated forces.

In the meanwhile Cardenas had lost no time. Realizing his complete defeat, he had fled secretly to Asuncion. Arriving there ahead of Don Sebastian de Leon's forces, he had dressed himself in his finest robes and seated himself on the throne of the cathedral. It was there that Don Sebastian de Leon found him when he entered.

The new Governor acted with supreme courtesy; he kissed the Bishop's hand, and ceremoniously requested him to spare him the baton of the civil power. In silence Cardenas complied with his request, and then retired, accompanied by his retinue. After this Asuncion knew him no more. Naturally the days of his supreme power were over, but he was still provided with an ecclesiastical office. He was made Bishop of La Paz, a benefice he continued to hold until his death.

Owing largely to their situation, these provinces in the south-east of the Continent continued from time to time to elude some of the stricter regulations and restrictions which were supposed to be applied to the whole Continent. Thus at the end of the sixteenth century the Governorship of the River Plate was entrusted to Hernando Arias de Saavedra, who is more familiarly known as Hernandarias. He was the first colonial-born subject of Spain[Pg 135] to be gratified by such an honour. The appointment, as a matter of fact, was somewhat remarkable, as without a doubt it was strictly against the spirit of the Laws of the Indies, which utterly forbade any appointment of the kind to be entrusted to a colonial-born person.

Hernandarias, it must be said, makes one of the most remarkable figures of all the high officials of the River Plate. He proved himself a strenuous warrior, and, anxious to extend his frontiers, he carried on a tremendous warfare with the fierce Indians of the Pampa. The Governor, moreover, was gifted with no little foresight and practical common sense. Finding it impossible to establish a footing among the implacable natives of Uruguay, he caused a number of cattle, horses, and sheep to be sent across the great river, and to be let loose among the rich pastures of that country. He knew, he said (and it was not long before the future proved him right), that this land would one day be the property of the Spaniards, and thus these cattle which he sent over would, when the time came, be found to have multiplied themselves to an infinite extent, which, of course, fell out as he had anticipated.

Hernandarias, moreover, led an expedition to the south, and endeavoured to take possession of Patagonia. Here, after various disasters, he inflicted a severe defeat on the Indians; but few definite steps towards the practical colonization of the far south appear to have been taken at this period.

Hernandarias, enthusiastic soldier though he proved himself, by no means confined his energies to the arts of war; in statesmanship his ideas were progressive. Having once subdued the wilder Indians, he led the way to peaceful co-operation. According to Señor J.M. Estrada—

"Hernandarias devoted his whole soul to the development of a species of colonization which he terms the[Pg 136] spiritual conquest—that is to say, he inculcated into the country the Christian spirit of discipline, civilization, and concord. He awoke the soul of the savage, and turned his instincts in search of better things than he had known. He closed the barracks of the soldiers and opened the Colleges of the Missionaries."

In some respects Hernandarias's tenure of office resembled that of Irala, for, although unanimously elected by the colonists, in whose eyes he was estimated at his true value, the official ratification of Spain of his appointment was many years in forthcoming, the principal reason for the delay being, of course, due to the fact of his colonial birth. On several occasions his government was interrupted owing to this, and, indeed, Hernandarias may be said to have ruled for various distinct periods. It was only on November 7, 1614, that he received the definite appointment as Governor from the Court of Spain.

It was at this period that the Government of the River Plate was separated from that of Paraguay, Buenos Aires being made the capital of the former, while Asuncion remained the capital of the latter. This process of subdivision was continued until, at the period when the Viceroyalty of Buenos Aires was constituted, it consisted of the provinces of Paraguay, Tucuman, Cuyo, the River Plate, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, and Charcas.

The value of these River Plate provinces was now become apparent to Spain. Lacking in minerals though they were, these south-eastern territories of the Continent were now exporting an amazing quantity of horns, hides, tallow, and other such produce of the pastoral industry. So abundant, indeed, had become the wild herds of cattle which roamed on the plains of the alluvial country that a stray buccaneer or two landed a force with the object of collecting horns and hides.[Pg 137]

At a later period a French adventurer of the name of Moreau endeavoured to establish himself permanently on the Uruguayan shore for this purpose. He had already fortified himself, and had collected a considerable store of hides, when he was attacked by the Spaniards and driven from the spot. He returned to attempt the venture for the second time, but his force was again defeated, and on this occasion he lost his life.

The Indians in these provinces had now become expert horsemen. They, too, possessed their share of the enormous quantities of live stock with which the country abounded; but if from drought or any other such cause the numbers of their animals grew uncomfortably diminished, they would raid the European settlements, and, taking the colonists by surprise and slaughtering without mercy, would sweep the country-side clear of live stock, and scamper away to their own haunts at top speed.

Thus the hatred between the natives and the colonials grew ever more bitter, and weapons, ambushes, and massacres constituted the sole means of communication between the two. These Indians of the open plains proved themselves formidable enemies, and, utterly merciless as they showed themselves to the vanquished, they rapidly became a continual source of dread to the pioneers living in the remoter settlements.

In 1767, when the order was received from Spain to expel the Jesuits from the Spanish colonies in South America, the expulsion took place unattended by any untoward circumstances in such places as Córdoba, Corrientes, Montevideo, and Santa Fé. In these places the buildings that had been devoted to the objects of the Order were ransacked, and, unfortunately, many valuable collections of books and similar objects were destroyed.

The authorities regarded with more hesitation the carrying out of the orders from Spain in the province of[Pg 138] Paraguay. Many tens of thousands of Indians formed part of the Jesuit settlements, and the influence of the Company was supreme throughout all the territories which now constitute North-West Uruguay, South-East Paraguay, and South-West Brazil.

Don Francisco de Paula Bucareli y Ursua, the Governor of Buenos Aires, marched north in order to effect the eviction. Bucareli's few companies of troops would, of course, in actual warfare have stood no chance whatever against the numerous Indian regiments which the Jesuit missions now possessed. Bucareli relied on his gifts of tact and diplomacy, of which he gave no small evidence during the negotiations which ensued. As it turned out, the employment of neither of these qualities, nor of the troops which he brought with him, proved necessary, for the Jesuits expressed themselves ready and willing to comply with the order, and, having obeyed it, they were escorted to Buenos Aires. From thence they were sent by ship to Europe, and the great social structure they had erected fell forthwith to the ground.

The districts which had formerly been occupied by the mission Indians became after a while practically depopulated, and the Portuguese, remarking this state of affairs, decided that the moment was favourable for aggression. Thus, in 1801, Portuguese troops from the town of San Pedro advanced against the Spanish port on the western shore of the Lake Patos, whilst others advanced towards the River Prado.

The majority of these invaders appear to have been more or less of the freebooting order. One of the most notable bodies was commanded by José Borges do Canto, who assembled a small army of forty men, which he armed at his own expense. Learning that the Indians, bereft now of their Jesuit Fathers and discontented with the Spanish rule, would take the first opportunity of[Pg 139] rising against the Spaniards, he determined to push on towards the site of the old missions.

At San Miguel the band of desperadoes came across an entrenchment manned by Spaniards. These, entirely deceived as to the real importance of the force which attacked them, retired after the exchange of a few shots, and capitulated on condition of permission to retreat unmolested. This was granted, but the retiring Spanish garrison was almost immediately afterwards taken prisoner by another roving Portuguese body. It was some while before their protests caused them to be liberated.

In the end the Portuguese obtained possession of much territory by means of this invasion, including that of the seven famous missions of San Francisco Borja, San Miguel, San João, San Angelo, San Nicolau, San Laurenço, and San Luiz.

We arrive now at an event which exercised an even greater influence on the destiny of South America in general than was suspected at the time. This was the invasion of the River Plate Provinces by the British. Undoubtedly, one of the prime causes of this invasion was the presence of the famous South American patriot, Miranda, in England, and the antagonism which existed at the time between Great Britain and Spain.

Urged by Miranda, Pitt determined to lend active military assistance to the South American colonists. Many of these were now openly demonstrating their sense of discontent, yet none, it must be said, had so far shown any inclination or desire to go to the length of taking up arms against the Mother Country. It was, nevertheless, entirely on this latter supposition that the British forces sailed for the River Plate.

The first expedition consisted of some 1,600 troops, under the orders of General Beresford, which were transported to Buenos Aires by a fleet under Admiral Home[Pg 140] Popham. On June 27, 1806, Buenos Aires was captured. The Viceroy, Sobremonte, demonstrated remarkably little warlike ardour, fleeing in haste before the advancing British. A French naval officer in the service of the Spanish, Don Santiago Liniers, organized an army of relief at Montevideo, to which all the South American volunteers, officers and troops, flocked. The local forces, now powerfully recruited, crossed the River Plate, attacked Buenos Aires, and won the city back for the Spanish Crown on August 12. Admiral Popham, notwithstanding this, remained in the River Plate with his fleet, and, having blockaded the estuary, received reinforcements from the Cape of Good Hope. By means of these the town of Maldonado was captured. A little later more important bodies of British troops arrived on the scene. Commanded by General Auchmuty, these attacked Montevideo, which fell into the hands of the invaders on February 3, 1807.

Determined to pursue its operations in this quarter of the world, the British Government now despatched General Whitelocke with a formidable army to the River Plate. Twelve thousand of the finest British troops were now established at Montevideo preparing for the expedition which was to bring Buenos Aires within the British Empire. The attempt, however, failed completely, and a terrible disaster ensued, the cause of which is imputed entirely to the crass folly of Whitelocke, who sent his regiments to march through the streets of the town, to be shot down in hundreds by the determined defenders congregated on the housetops.

In many instances the result of this extraordinary piece of strategy was mere slaughter, since the British troops, many of whom had been charged to use nothing beyond the bayonet and to refrain from firing, could adopt no retaliatory measures whatever. In the circumstances total[Pg 141] defeat was inevitable, and at the end of the engagement the General found himself a prisoner in the hands of the South Americans. On this Whitelocke signed a treaty agreeing to evacuate the River Plate Provinces altogether, and within two months not a British soldier was left in Buenos Aires and Montevideo. On his arrival home Whitelocke underwent a court-martial, and was cashiered with well deserved and bitter censure.

Apart from the extraordinary incompetence—to call it by no worse name—shown by General Whitelocke, there is some doubt as to whether the British would have succeeded in permanently retaining possession of the territory they had captured. For one thing, their expectations that the colonials would join them were not realized. The inherent loyalty of the South American to the motherland forbade any such move at the time. Nevertheless, it is freely acknowledged that this English expedition played no small part in the ultimate liberation of South America, since it was owing to the invasion that the South Americans, deserted by their Viceroy, had only themselves on whom to rely for the expulsion of the expeditionary army. From the force of no initiative of their own, they had been left to their own resources, and had found that their strength did not fail them. Amid the doubts and hesitations of later days the knowledge of this played an important part.

[Pg 142]



It is, to a certain extent, difficult for one familiar with the South America of to-day to realize the New Granada of the Spanish colonial period. From Guiana westward along the northern coast was an extensive and, for the most part, unexploited stretch of territory, devoid of such arbitrary boundaries as characterize it to-day, and limited only on the north and west by the sea, and on the south by the Portuguese colony of Brazil and the great Spanish territory of Peru. Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador, and the sharply defined limits these names represent, are, of course, modern creations, comparatively speaking. For centuries the landward boundaries of Spanish New Granada remained shadowy, indefinite limits. There was a Viceroyalty of New Granada, so named from the resemblance between the plains around Bogotá and the Vega of the Moorish capital, and there was a Captain-Generalship of Venezuela. New Granada was estimated as comprising all the country between 60° and 78° west longitude, and between 6° to 15° north latitude. In this was included Venezuela, under which name was comprised an extent of territory far less important than is at present the case.

As has been related, Ximines de Quesada, together with Benalcazar, the Governor of Quito, conquered the district of Bogotá, and founded that city in 1538. After this[Pg 143] followed the banishment of Quesada by the Spanish authorities, his return and his wise rule of the country—over which he was appointed Marshal—from 1551 onwards. Later, after his appointment as Adelantado, he devoted three years of toil and an enormous amount of wealth to the quest of El Dorado. Three hundred Spaniards, 2,000 Indians, and 1,200 horses set out on this quest; 24 men and 32 horses only returned. The costly myth of El Dorado, from the earliest days of its conception, was insatiable in the matter of human lives.

Quesada died, like one or two other great figures of medieval times, of leprosy, after having founded the city of Santa Aguda in 1572. He left behind him a will in which he requested that no extravagant monument should be erected over his grave—a rather superfluous request as it turned out, since he also left debts to the value of 60,000 ducats! The city of Bogotá holds his remains, which were conveyed to that city after his death.

The value of New Granada in the eyes of Spain lay in its being the chief emerald-producing centre of the world. The conquistadores of Peru had met with emeralds, and had gathered the impression that the real emerald was as hard as a diamond, a belief which led them to submit all the green gems they found to the test of hammering—with disastrous results to the stones. The loss occasioned by this procedure was intensified by the fact that for a long while it was found impossible to discover the mine from which the Incas had procured their emeralds. It was not until the discovery of New Granada that the source was revealed from which the stones had been obtained. The wealth of the land did not end here. From Popayan and Choco, provinces of the north-west, "placer" gold was obtainable in fairly large quantities by the simple expedient of washing. Thus, on the whole, New Granada promised the Spaniards ample supplies[Pg 144] of the minerals which they coveted, and which they sought without intermission.

By reason of these things the Spanish Government, ever fearful of undue colonial strength, came to the conclusion that the Viceroyalty of Peru was quite powerful enough and wealthy enough without these newer possessions. In the year 1718 the limits of the Viceroyalty of New Granada were defined, rendering the tract of land which now forms the republics of Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador, quite independent of the Peruvian Viceroyalty; for, notwithstanding the fact that the Peruvian authority had every claim to the retention of the inland province of Quito, that also was assigned to the newer government.

The conquests of Quesada and Benalcazar had established centres of Spanish influence, but they had not gone far towards organizing the control of the country. Consequently, the establishment of a central authority at Bogotá, independent of all but the Spanish Crown, was a decidedly advantageous move. As was the case elsewhere in the Continent, one of the chief evils requiring stringent treatment was that of smuggling. It was said, for instance, that in the early days half the great gold output of the colony was smuggled abroad by way of the Rivers Atrato and Hacha. The first Viceroy of New Granada caused forts to be erected on these and other streams, with a view to stopping the illegal traffic, and this measure mitigated the evil which nothing—in view of the half-settled state of the country—could quite subdue.

So little under control was the greater part of New Granada, that the good results of establishing a separate Viceroyalty only became apparent slowly. The conquest of the Chibchas, effected as it was with all the refinements of cruelty familiar to the conquistadores, had added fierce resentment to the natural racial antipathy already[Pg 145] existing in the savage tribes of the country, and communication between provinces and towns was difficult in all cases, while in many it was altogether impracticable. There remained numerous bands of roving savages, fierce and predatory, to render travel unsafe; and though the efforts of the missionaries and others brought gentler ways to some in course of time, the whole of the colonial era was characterized by the presence of utterly fierce and vindictive bodies of aboriginals, while sufficient reprisals were indulged in by the Spaniards to keep alive the flame of hostility.

From the "Narrative of a Journey from Lima to Para, 1836."

There is something in the transportation of the European to tropical climates and the control of an inferior race which, in certain circumstances, appears to loose and to intensify all the most cruel instincts and desires of which humanity is capable. In reckoning up the racial contests in New Granada, reader and historian alike must give the aboriginal his due. He was by no means the gentle savage such as he is frequently depicted. Indeed, many of his native customs were completely brutal. Nevertheless, it is necessary to debit against the invader numerous excesses and deeds of cruelty directed against the inferior or subject race. And since popular feeling, which ranges on the side of the oppressed to-day, was undoubtedly on the side of the oppressor during the earlier centuries, there can be little doubt that the ferocity of the Indians of New Granada, and their hesitating acceptance of the missionary's doctrine, were not without excuse.

Although the soil of New Granada offered endless possibilities to the colonists, the cost of transport and the difficulties attendant on this necessary commercial operation rendered agriculture in the interior of little importance as an industry. Each settlement grew sufficient for its own needs, and no more. Other factors in the slight[Pg 146] use made of the rich soil were the natural indolence and the improvident habits of the people—habits not yet quite eradicated, since at the present day Venezuela, although it possesses some of the richest and best maize-growing lands in the world, still imports maize from the United States. From the creation of the Viceroyalty onward, attempts were made by the Spanish authorities to make the people industrious and thrifty, but these met with scant success.

The power and character of the aboriginal tribes may be estimated from the fact that, up to the end of the colonial period, Spanish authority in the immense territory of Quito was only exercised over a valley, formed by two spurs of the Andes, which reached some eighty leagues in length, with an average breadth of fifteen leagues. At the beginning of the eighteenth century a number of towns were established by Catholic missionaries on the Atlantic coast and on the rivers emptying into the Gulf of San Miguel; but the Indians destroyed them all, and remained so little dominated by the white race that a treaty of peace, concluded between Spaniards and native chiefs in 1790, contained a clause by which the Spaniards consented to abandon all their forts in Darien.

Beyond these there were other foes to be feared, quite as grim and even more dangerous. In 1670 the famous buccaneer, Captain Morgan, destroyed the castle of San Lorenzo at Chagres. This, of course, was in addition to his feat of capturing and burning the town of Panamá. Ten years later another party of buccaneers captured the city of Santa Maria, in consequence of which the mines of Cana were closed in 1685.

Towards the end of the seventeenth century William Paterson established a Scottish colony on the Bay of Caledonia, at Puerto Escoces, but the venture scarcely proved a success. Ill-fate seems to have pursued most[Pg 147] of the attempts at settlement in New Granada while the Spanish rule lasted. Yet the town of Santa Fé de Bogotá flourished, and has continued to flourish to this day, so that no less an authority than Mr. R.B. Cunninghame Graham has described it as the chief literary centre south of Panamá.

The town is set at the foot of the hills, facing a vast plain, and towards the end of the colonial period was represented as a city of 3,250 families—a population of upwards of 16,000. It was the centre of archiepiscopal authority, with jurisdiction over the Dioceses of Cartagena, Santa Marta, Panamá, Caracas, and Quito. The route from Bogotá to Europe lay by way of Cartagena, 300 miles distant from the capital.

Next in order of importance was Quito. The immense province was—and is at the present day—made up for the most part of dense jungle growth, alternating with marshy and desert stretches, with nomadic tribes inhabiting the more open areas. The city of Quito itself, set in perpetual spring, is considered one of the most beautiful spots in the world, almost its only drawbacks being the tremendous violence of the tropical storms to which it is subject, and occasional earthquake shocks.

The poverty of the mines of Quito freed the Indian inhabitants from mining labour, a form of industry which, under Spanish rule, depopulated so many native centres. In consequence of this Quito was reputed to be the most thickly populated province of South America. Various manufactures were pursued, and there were several towns with populations of over 10,000. The products of the land were exchanged for wine, oil, and other extraneous products, but so inefficient was the colonial administration that in 1790 Quito was one of the poorest of South American cities.

The article of chief value—for rubber had not then[Pg 148] come into prominence—was the quinquina, or cinchona bark, at first considered peculiar to the territory of Loxa, but subsequently found to exist at Bogotá, Riobamba, and many other parts of New Granada. It was first introduced to Europe by the Jesuits in 1639, and after its use had been established at the Spanish Court in 1640, it commanded a price of 100 crowns a pound. In these circumstances quinquina was, as a matter of course, subject to adulteration and substitution—practices which brought their own reward, since the quinine of Loxa, at one time considered of the highest quality, fell into disrepute when the gatherers in that province mixed with the real article the bark of other trees. Perpetually increasing demand led to more careful search for supplies, and the New Granada of the colonial era owed almost all its prosperity to the exports of the famed bark, for the output of minerals dwindled almost to vanishing point.

The Captain-Generalship of Venezuela was chiefly noteworthy for the Spanish settlements on the Orinoco, where over 4,000 Spaniards were contained in a dozen or so of villages rather indolently engaged in cattle raising. Together with tributary Indians, the settlers made up a total population of nearly 17,000, with over 70,000 head of cattle among them. Their trade was with the Dutch of Curaçoa, who supplied goods in exchange for cattle, hides, and tobacco.

Caracas was then, as it is now, the head-quarters of the colony, which was separated from the Viceroyalty of New Granada in 1731. Three years previously—in 1728—some merchants of Guipiscoa obtained exclusive trading rights with Caracas, conditionally on their putting an end to the trade with Curaçoa, and landing all cargoes at Cadiz. So successfully did they fulfil these conditions, and to such an extent did they increase the development of the colony, that it was deemed necessary to separate[Pg 149] it from New Granada, and form an entirely new administration.

The famous centre of the silver-mining region which supplied the Spanish Empire with bullion for three centuries.
From a seventeenth-century engraving.

Yet the climate, or some obscure effect of the mingling and cross-breeding of conquerors and conquered, seems to have paralyzed human effort in these colonies of the northern coast. The land was something of an earthly paradise, and men were tempted to doze in it rather than to develop its resources. The cacao of Venezuela takes first place in the markets of the world, and has done so since its initial cultivation there; but not one-tenth of the area available for the growth of the bean has ever been utilized.

Caracas itself, earthquake shaken from time to time, was never—even in the most favourable periods of colonial rule—a flourishing city, but rather a centre of trade for scattered settlements. The town could claim little literary or educational movement to mark it as the capital of a potentially rich country. It was concerned, moreover, with scarcely a trace of the social and erudite development that characterized Bogotá almost from the time of its foundation by Quesada. In so far as it had to be, Caracas existed, but there its ambition ended.

Except for some isolated centres, this was true of the whole of New Granada and Venezuela. Under Spanish rule the Viceroyalty and its dependent Captain-Generalship formed a great area into which Spaniards had come to hunt for mineral wealth, and while that wealth was obtainable there was a vast amount of activity. The aborigines, save for the Chibcha race, numbered among them some of the lowest types on the Continent, and where gold or emeralds or other valuable minerals were to be obtained these unfortunates were pressed into service, or rather into slavery.

When the minerals were exhausted, enterprise ceased. Sufficient cultivation for material needs—an easy matter[Pg 150] in this productive land—was carried on, and in certain districts a definite amount of cacao growing was practised. For the rest, little was achieved, while farther south development was proceeding along the lines which have brought into being the great republics of to-day.

Then Venezuela gave to South America Simon Bolivar, and the storm of revolution which swept the Continent shook these northern dependencies into transient wakefulness and energy, until the great day of Boyaca dawned, and New Granada and Venezuela, as Spanish colonies, ceased to be. Fit or unfit as they might have been for self-government at the time, these peoples set out to make histories as independent States, and the Spanish colonial era, having lasted over two and a half centuries, came to an end.

[Pg 151]



We have now arrived at the most critical of all the periods which Spanish South America has undergone in the course of its history, the decade or so which preceded the actual outbreak of the revolutionary wars. In order to arrive at a just appreciation of the situation it is necessary to realize that, although the policy of Spain had consistently demonstrated itself as discouraging towards learning and progress in every direction, to such an extent had the population of the colonies grown that this task of repression of the intelligence of a Continent had now become Herculean and altogether beyond the powers of the moderately energetic Spanish officials.

Despite every precaution, the colonists had succeeded in educating themselves up to a certain point; moreover, a number of them, flinging restrictions to the wind, had now begun to travel abroad, and had visited European centres. These sons of the New World had adapted themselves admirably to the conditions of Europe. They had been received by notable personages in England and France, who had been struck with the intelligence and ideals of the South Americans. These latter, for their part, had benefited from an exchange of views and from conversations concerning many subjects which were necessarily new to them. With an intercourse of this kind once in full swing it was inevitable that the regu[Pg 152]lations of Spain should automatically become obsolete and, in the eyes of the Americans, ridiculous.

In South America itself, nevertheless, the social gap between the Spaniard and the colonial continued entirely unbridged, and the contempt of the European officials for the South American born was as openly expressed in as gratuitous a fashion as ever. Indeed, as the opportunities for education broadened for the colonists, it would seem that their Spanish alleged brethren affected to despise them still more deeply—no doubt as a hint that no mere learning could alter the solid fact that their birth had occurred without the frontiers of European Spain.

The ban upon mixed marriages continued, and neither Viceroys, Governors, nor high officials might lead to the altar any woman born in America, however beautiful she might be, and however aristocratic her descent. A few minor privileges had been accorded to these oversea dwellers, it is true. A system of titles had been instituted throughout the colonies, for instance. By means of this it was hoped to pander to the vanity of the Americans, and to bring into being a new tie of interest which should cement the link between the Old and the New World which was proving so profitable to Spain.

As a matter of fact, none took the trouble to grant these titles in return for merit or service; it was necessary to buy them and to pay for them. Their grandeur was strictly local. Thus a Marquis or a Count in Lima or elsewhere in the Southern Continent would have been crassly unwise to leave the shores of South America, for once in Spain his title fell from him like a withered leaf; he became plain "Señor" and nothing beyond, for in Spain these colonial distinctions were a matter for jeers and mockery. What remained, therefore, for the poor local noble but to hasten back to the spot where his nobility held good! It was better to[Pg 153] bask as a Marquis in the sunshine of the south than to be cold-shouldered as a plebeian in stately Castile.

Commercial and more material distinctions which favoured Spain as against her colonies remained equally marked. Bartolomé Mitre has appropriately explained the situation which preceded the Revolution:

"The system of commercial monopoly which Spain adopted with respect to America immediately on the discovery of the Continent was as disastrous to the motherland as to the colonies. Employing a fallacious theory in order that the riches of the New World should pass to Spain, and that the latter country should serve as sole provider to her colonies, all the legislation was in the first instance directed to this end. Thus in America all industries which might provide competition with those of the Peninsula were forbidden. In order that this monopoly might be centralized, the port of Seville (and afterwards that of Cadiz) was made the sole port of departure and of entry for the vessels carrying the merchandise between the two continents. In order to render the working of this system doubly efficacious, no commercial communication was permitted between the colonies themselves, and the movements of all merchandise were made to converge at a single point. This scheme was assisted by the organization of the galleon fleets, which, guarded by warships, united themselves into a single convoy once or twice a year. Portobello (with Panama on the other side of the narrow isthmus) was the sole commercial harbour of South America. Merchandise introduced here was sent across the isthmus and down the Pacific coast, and eventually penetrated inland as far as Potosi. To this place the colonists of the south and of the Atlantic coast were obliged to come in order to effect their negotiations, and to supply themselves with necessities at a cost of from 500 to 600 per cent. above the original price. These absurd regulations, violating natural laws and the rules of good government, as well as the colonial monopoly, could only have emanated from the madness of an absolute power supported by the inertia of an[Pg 154] enslaved people.... When Spain, enlightened by experience, wished to alter her disastrous system of exploitation, and actually did so with sufficient intelligence and generosity, it was already too late. She had lost her place as a motherland, and with it America as a colony. No bond, whether of force, affection, or of any other interest, linked the disinherited sons to the parent country. The separation was already a fact, and the independence of the South American colonies merely a question of time and opportunity."

What would have happened had the position of Spain herself in Europe remained unimpaired is idle to conjecture, but it is practically certain, with the new light which was now beginning to flood the new Continent, that the struggle for independence would have been postponed for a few years only.

The first herald of the great struggle for liberty which was to ensue was Francisco Miranda. The character of Miranda resembled not a little that of Bolivar. Both men were of exalted and enthusiastic temperaments; both were skilled in the arts of oratory and the management of men, and both possessed a visionary side. For each the situation in the New World formed an ample and, indeed, justifiable field.

Long before the first outbreak of hostilities in America Miranda had played the part of stormy petrel in other continents. Born in Venezuela, he had the advantage of a wider knowledge of the world than many of his compatriots; he had already taken an active part in the struggle between North America and Great Britain, and he had joined with Lafayette in the territories of the then British Colonies in order to assist the revolutionaries in their campaign.

No ill-will appears to have been borne him by the English for the part he played in this war; for some while afterwards we find him residing in England, and corre[Pg 155]sponding with many prominent men of the period. He is said to have gained the friendship of Fox, and it may have been due to his efforts, whether direct or indirect, that Canning gave such whole-hearted support to the South American cause. As has already been said, it was largely due to Miranda's persuasions and assertions—somewhat premature and optimistic though these eventually proved themselves—that the various British expeditions sailed for the River Plate. The result was disastrous in every respect save that it lent to the colonials a new confidence in their own powers. In any case Miranda's good faith and honour were unquestionable, although at a later period he appears to have fallen somewhat under the suspicion of his fellow-patriots.

It was not long before the efforts of Miranda began to be seconded by those of other distinguished and high-spirited South Americans. Simon Bolivar, the liberator himself, accompanied by a tutor, was sent by his parents to gain an intimate knowledge of Europe and of the polite arts of the Old Continent. Here he had plunged himself into Latin classics and the French philosophy, and his remarkable personality is said to have created no small impression upon those with whom he came into contact. Venezuela has every right to be proud of the fact that, although the seeds of liberty had already been sown throughout the Continent, and especially in the River Plate Provinces, they first sprouted into material activity in Venezuela, for Bolivar, having been born at Caracas, could claim Miranda as a fellow-countryman, or rather as a neighbour, since theoretically, in the colonial days, all South Americans were fellow-countrymen.

It is certain that during this early European tour of Bolivar's he had already become strongly imbued with the idea of freeing his country and Continent from the rule of Spain. At one period of his travels he was at[Pg 156] Rome, and he is said to have chosen the holy city as the spot in which to swear a solemn oath to take his share in the liberation of his native land—an oath which, as history proves, he fulfilled in generous measure, since the first desperate fights in the north of the Continent were conducted on the patriot side under his auspices and those of Miranda.

In the face of all the trials and injustices which they had undergone, it is important to remember that the temperament of the South Americans was one which urged them strongly to remain loyal to the Mother Country. Although it had now become evident that a rupture was inevitable, the colonists viewed the snapping of the ties which bound them to Spain with reluctance and unease. As fate would have it, it was the situation in Europe which arose to solve the difficulty, and to remove the last doubt from the breasts of the South American patriots. The news of catastrophe after catastrophe filtered slowly through from the peninsula to the colonies. The Napoleonic armies had overrun the country; the Corsican's talons were now fixed deeply in its soil, and the rightful Sovereign had abdicated while the throne was being seized upon by Joseph Buonaparte. Then came the news of a Spanish junta, formed as a last resource to organize a defence of the harassed country; after this followed tidings of dissensions among the numbers of these defenders themselves, of the formation of other juntas, and, in fact, of the prevalence of complete desolation and catastrophe and of the wildest confusion.

In the midst of the reports and rumours, contradictions and confirmations which followed one another at as great a pace as the methods of communication of the period would allow, there came at last definite proofs of the chaos which reigned in Spain. An envoy arrived in[Pg 157] Buenos Aires, sent by Napoleon in his capacity of Lord of Spain, in order to announce the fact to the colonies, and to open up negotiations for future transactions. Almost simultaneously arrived another envoy—a special messenger this, sent from the Junta of Seville, who claimed that Spain still belonged to the Spaniards, and that the Junta of Seville represented Spain.


In one direction the colonial authorities were enabled to act without hesitation. Napoleon's envoy was sent packing back in haste to where he had come from! The messenger from the junta, on the other hand, was received with every consideration; but his presence failed to dispel the doubts from the minds of the South Americans. For the downfall of Spain was now patent to all, as well as her impotence, not only to maintain communication with her colonies, but to move hand or foot to free herself from the grasp of the French.

The situation as it now presented itself would have been sufficiently bewildering even in the case of colonies who had enjoyed fair treatment on the part of the Madre Patria. Amid the chaos which prevailed in Europe it was practically impossible to discover in whose hands the actual authority lay in Spain. The Spanish King, his rival Prince, Joseph Buonaparte, the Junta of Seville—all these reiterated their claims to the supreme authority. The storm of contradictions and disclaimers ended by proving clearly to the colonists what was actually the case. In Spain no single supreme authority existed. This in consequence lay with themselves.

From the moment that this became clear the passive submission to the local royal garrisons and to the powers of Spain set above them began to give way to active protests. In ordinary circumstances these would probably have continued for some while, and efforts would have been made to avoid the actual resort to arms. So[Pg 158] fiercely, however, were the first claims to their rights on the parts of the colonists resented and opposed by the Spanish officials that the South Americans, disgusted and embittered, threw caution to the wind, drew the sword in turn, and met force by force, while the flare of battle burst out from the north to the south of the great Continent.


[Pg 159]



The analogy between the first invasions of South America by the conquistadores and the campaign of liberation undertaken by the South Americans of a later age is curious to remark. The conquistadores undertook three separate invasions: the first in the north; the second in Peru, and subsequently Chile; the third in the Provinces of the River Plate. In the struggle of the South Americans against the Spanish forces, the field of war was divided into precisely the same categories.

Bolivar, Sucre, Miranda, and their colleagues blew up the flames of strife and kept them alive in the north; Belgrano, San Martin, Guëmes, and their comrades maintained the fight in the River Plate Provinces; while the Chilean O'Higgins and his companions accompanied the great San Martin in his march from Argentina westwards over the Andes to Chile. From there, having freed the province, the liberating army turned northwards into Peru, eventually to fuse with the stream of patriot forces which was flowing down from the north with the same purpose in view.

Since both Miranda and Bolivar had played such important parts before the outbreak of the revolution, it will be well to deal first of all with the progress of the wars in the north. It was in Caracas that the plans and projects of independence were matured. When the out[Pg 160]break in the south took place, Caracas girded up its loins for war, and Bolivar and Miranda took the field beneath the banner of independence. In no place were the fortunes of war more varied than in the north, and the campaign was destined to last fourteen years before the Spanish power in the old kingdom of New Granada was finally broken.

It is impossible here to go into the full details of the campaigns. In the first place, the patriots, although they fought desperately, ill-armed and undisciplined as they were, suffered numerous reverses from the Spanish veterans who garrisoned the northern districts. More than once the flames of revolution seemed to all practical purposes extinguished, and Bolivar and his lieutenants, fugitives from the field of strife, were obliged to continue their plans in other lands, among these places of refuge being some of the British West Indian Islands.

Even here the patriots were by no means safe from the vengeance of Spain. Various attempts were made to assassinate Bolivar. On one occasion a dastardly endeavour of the kind was within an ace of being successful. Bolivar had sailed to Jamaica in order to obtain supplies for the patriot forces. His presence in the island was noted, and some Spaniards bribed a negro to enter the house where he was staying and to slay him as he lay asleep at night.

The murderous black succeeded in penetrating to the room where the General usually slept. A figure lay upon the bed, and this the assassin stabbed to the heart; but it was not that of the Liberator. It was his secretary, who had died in his stead.

Bolivar, however, was not a man to be deterred from his plans by attempts such as these. He was possessed of a high courage, and was by no means averse to distinguish himself on the battle-field from the rest in the[Pg 161] matter of costume. At Boyaca, for instance, he donned a jacket and pantaloons of the most brilliant scarlet and gold, thus attracting an amount of attention on the part of the enemy which was sufficiently perilous in itself.

The British did not long delay in taking an active interest in the struggle for independence, and very soon volunteers came flocking to the assistance of these northern districts of South America. Two separate British legions fought for Bolivar. One had been raised in England, and was commanded by General English; the other, formed in Ireland, was led by General Devereux. Some corps of native Indian troops, it may be remarked, were officered by the British, and there was, moreover, in the patriot service a battalion of rifles composed entirely of British and German troops.

At first it appears that a marked spirit of distrust manifested itself between the native patriots and the British; but very soon a mutual admiration cemented a friendship between the two races. The English volunteers found it difficult to display their true mettle in the early days of the war. They suffered very severely on their first landing, since they were unaccustomed to the climate, and found themselves unable to accomplish the long marches made by the patriots. In a short while, however, they grew used to the country and its ways, and then their feats, instead of meeting with a certain amount of derision, provoked the enthusiastic admiration of the Columbians.

It is certain that the campaign was no kid-glove one. Some of the marches were attended by almost incredible hardships and sufferings. It was, for instance, necessary in some districts to ford rivers in which the perai fish abounded. This fierce little creature, as is well known, is capable of tearing off a formidable mouthful of human flesh at a single bite, and this it never fails to do when[Pg 162] the opportunity offers. Many severe wounds were caused among the British ranks by these ferocious fish, and it may be imagined that in the first instance experiences of the kind were as startling as they were disconcerting.

General Paez was one of the chief heroes of the north. His career was to the full as adventurous as that of any other revolutionary leader. He enlisted in the first place as a common soldier in the militia of Barinos, and was soon after captured by the Spanish forces. His execution, together with that of all the other prisoners, was ordered, and would have taken place on the following day but for some circumstances which enabled him to give his captors the slip.

The manner of his release was afterwards frequently recalled with no little awe by the superstitious. At eleven o'clock at night the alarm was given that the Royalist forces were about to be attacked by the patriots, whose army had been seen advancing. The Spaniards retreated in a panic, and Paez and his fellow-prisoners effected their escape. The following morning, when the Royalists had recovered from their alarm, they could find no enemy within a radius of fifty miles. This incident was put down by the populace to the intervention in his favour on the part of the host of departed spirits known as the "ejercito de las animas."

Paez was extremely popular among his men, the hardy Llaneros of the northern plains, born horsemen and fighters, corresponding in many respects with the famous Gauchos of the south. Paez himself was a magnificent horseman, and wielded the lance, the characteristic weapon of the Llaneros, to perfection. He was thus doubly beloved of his troops, since it was these qualities, of course, which appealed to them more than the military strategy of which he gave such marked evidence. On one occasion, when accompanied by very few of his own[Pg 163] troops, Paez rode up to a powerful body of Royalist cavalry. When quite close to the enemy his men turned their horses as though in sudden terror, and galloped away, hotly pursued by the Royalist horsemen. When Paez considered that he had drawn these sufficiently far from their camp, he turned upon them and cut them up in detail.

His most extraordinary feat, however, was the capture of some Spanish gunboats on the River Apure by means of his Llanero cavalry. This is an account of the feat as given by an eye-witness who was attached to the British Legion:

"Bolivar stood on the shore gazing at these [the gunboats] in despair, and continued disconsolately parading in front of them, when Paez, who had been on the look out, rode up and inquired the cause of his disquietude. His Excellency observed: 'I would give the world to have possession of the Spanish flotilla, for without it I can never cross the river, and the troops are unable to march.' 'But it shall be yours in an hour,' replied Paez. 'It is impossible,' said Bolivar; 'and the men must all perish.' 'Leave that to me,' rejoined Paez, and galloped off. In a few minutes he returned, bringing up his guard of honour, consisting of 300 lancers selected from the main body of the Llaneros for their proved bravery and strength, and, leading them to the bank, thus addressed them: 'We must have these flecheres or die. Let those follow Tio who please' ('Tio,' or 'uncle,' was the popular name by which Paez was known to his men), and at the same time, spurring his horse, pushed into the river and swam towards the flotilla. The guard followed him with their lances in hand, now encouraging their horses to bear up against the current by swimming by their sides and patting their necks, and then shouting to scare away the alligators, of which there were hundreds in the river, until they reached the boats, when, mounting their horses, they sprang from their backs on board them, headed by[Pg 164] their leader, and, to the astonishment of those who beheld them from the shore, captured every one of them. To English officers it may appear inconceivable that a body of cavalry, with no other arms than their lances, and no other mode of conveyance across a rapid river than their horses, should attack and take a fleet of gunboats amidst shoals of alligators; but, strange as it may seem, it was actually accomplished, and there are many officers now in England who can testify to the truth of it."

It will be evident from exploits such as these that the Venezuelans were fortunate in their leaders.

After a while Simon Bolivar, the Liberator, began to see that the materialization of his lifelong ideal was now no longer a matter of the dim distant future. The struggle had been severe, and the fortunes of war had proved fickle at the beginning. At one period it had seemed that even Nature had fought against the South American cause. At Barquisimeto an earthquake had shattered the barracks of the soldiers of the Independence, and many hundreds of troops were crushed beneath the ruins.

The moral as well as the material effect of this disaster was serious in the extreme. Miranda, moreover, although able, had proved himself an unfortunate General. In the end he was captured by the Spaniards, and died in captivity in Cadiz. Even when the tide of battle had definitely turned against the Spaniards, their desperate straits induced them to desperate measures, and the fortitude of the patriots continued to be put severely to the test. One of the most dreaded Spanish moves, for instance, was the freeing of the slaves and the arming of these against their late colonial masters.

So embittered became the struggle that prisoners were put to death on both sides, and many terrible massacres ensued in consequence. A number of other prominent patriot leaders now came forward to assist[Pg 165] Bolivar and his comrades, among these being Nariño, who proved himself victorious in many fights against the Royalists. At length, in 1821, Bolivar and Paez effected a junction of their forces, and marched to meet the Spanish army. On June 24 the Battle of Carabobo was fought, which resulted in the complete defeat of the Royalist troops.

Liberator of the Northern States of South America from Spanish Rule.
From an engraving by M.N. Bate.
A. Rischgitz.

This Battle of Carabobo was one which had far-reaching effects in Venezuela. In preparation for this fight Bolivar's army was formed in three divisions. The first, commanded by General Paez, contained the Cazadores Britannicus, or British Light Infantry, numbering 800 men, and 100 of the Irish Legion. This division, with the local troops, was of 3,100 men. The second, commanded by Cadeno, consisted of 1,800; and the third, led by Ambrosio Plaza, was composed of the Rifles, a regiment officered by Englishmen, and other regiments, in all 2,500 men.

The army had suffered terrible privations, and, in crossing the River Aparito some time before the battle, many men, including a number of Englishmen, had actually perished from the attacks of that terrible fish, the perai. Mention has already been made of this fish, which, no bigger than a perch, is provided with teeth which will tear the flesh from the bones in a few seconds. It was from the attacks of flocks of these that the unfortunate men had succumbed.

Just before the battle Bolivar rode along the front of his army, and it is said that the English gave him three "hurrahs" that were heard a mile off. After this, nevertheless, the attack was postponed until the next day, and during the interval the rain came down in tropical sheets. The Spaniards fought with extreme gallantry, and the battle was waged in the most determined fashion on both sides before victory definitely[Pg 166] inclined to the patriot forces. The English took a very prominent share in this battle, losing no less than 600 out of 900 men.

Bolivar had now all but fulfilled the oath he had sworn years before in Rome. The Battle of Carabobo proved one of the most decisive of the campaign. Its conclusion marked the end of the Spanish occupation of the north. Bolivar had now cleared his own country of the Spaniards, and was free to turn his attention to Peru.

In the south-east of the Continent the struggle for liberty was far less prolonged than that in the districts of the centre, west, and north. It may be that the wide, open, agricultural plains had infused into the dwellers of Argentina an inherent sense of independence which had continued to flourish and grow, notwithstanding the dominion of the Spaniards. In any case, it was here that the revolt was, if not more enthusiastic, at all events more rapid.

Since 1776, moreover, the date when the provinces of the River Plate were exalted to the condition of a Viceroyalty, a certain freedom of intercourse had obtained which had been utterly lacking before. The trade of the country had expanded, and imports from Europe were now permitted access to the River Plate without first being subjected to the supervision of Panamá or Peru. When the struggle began, it found the Argentine patriots enthusiastic and prepared.

On August 21, 1808, an act of fealty was sworn to Ferdinand VII. This, nevertheless, met with disapproval on the part of many Argentines, who desired the establishment of a junta similar to that of Seville. The party in favour of this increased rapidly in strength, and shortly afterwards the Viceroy, Liniers, resigned. Although he had to a certain extent the support of the patriot party, his position in the face of the complicated situation had[Pg 167] become extremely difficult. He was succeeded on July 30, 1809, by Baltasar Hidalgo de Cisneros. The latter lost no time in giving proof of liberal intentions. He opened the ports to English vessels, and the commercial situation of the country, which had been deplorable, improved immediately.

In the meanwhile some revolutionary outbreaks at Chuquisaca and La Paz were suppressed by the Royalist troops with a brutality and wanton slaughtering which roused a storm of indignation in Buenos Aires. Cornelio de Saavedra, one of the patriot leaders in the capital, succeeded, however, in preventing an open rising, since this would undoubtedly have been premature.

A secret society was now formed in Buenos Aires, counting in its ranks Belgrano, Nicolas Rodriguez Peña, Manuel Alberdi, Viamonte, Guido, and others. From this nucleus the regiment of patricios was formed, and was commanded by Cornelio de Saavedra. The chief object of this society was the foundation of an adequate representative Government. To this end its members worked towards the abolition of the Viceroyalty and the formation of a new species of Constitution. On May 22, 1810, a great meeting was held at which it was resolved that the authority of the Viceroyalty had expired. On this it was proposed that a junta should be created. Confusion, dispute, and intrigue followed; but the mind of the people was made up, and its will was no longer to be denied.

The Viceroy, de Cisneros, reluctant to oppose the now strongly expressed popular will, on May 25, 1810, resigned his office in the presence of an immense multitude. From this day the independence of Argentina is officially counted, for on the spot a junta was established. Its members were Saavedra, Belgrano, Alberdi, Castelli, Azcuenaga, Matheu, Larrea, Paso, and Moreno.[Pg 168]

While all this was occurring in Buenos Aires, strong Royalist sympathies continued to prevail in the provinces. Montevideo, too, showed itself hostile to the new Government. From this base the Royalists were able to strike at the new republican head-quarters at Buenos Aires, and on February 18 a Spanish fleet sailed to the spot and blockaded the capital. The patriots now made their first important move. A force of 1,200 volunteers, commanded by Ocampo and Balcarce, marched against Córdoba, where Liniers and Concha were in command of the Royalist forces. These latter were defeated and their leaders executed. Flushed by its success, the Argentine army then invaded Peru. A little later followed the victory of Suipacha, after which all the country in the neighbourhood declared itself openly for the revolutionists.

Belgrano, in the meanwhile, led an army into Paraguay. He had confidently expected the adherence of the inhabitants of that country. These, however, remained loyal to the Crown, and Belgrano, defeated, was obliged to retire.

Operations were now begun against the Spanish troops in Uruguay. These were conducted by Belgrano, and in a very short time practically the entirety of the province was in the hands of the revolutionists. Montevideo alone, held by its strong Spanish garrison, continued to resist. The town was closely invested on its landward side. Very soon after this, unfavourable news from Peru caused the Argentines to abandon their aggressive attitude; an armistice was declared so far as Montevideo was concerned, and the South American forces retired from Uruguay.

The news from the north, indeed, was sufficiently serious. After the victory of Suipacha a truce had been agreed upon by Castelli, who was in command of the[Pg 169] patriot forces. This he had observed loyally, but Gueneche, the leader of the Spanish troops, had proved himself less scrupulous. Without warning, he had attacked the Argentine army at Huaqui, and had obtained a decisive and sanguinary victory, at the end of which the 800 Argentines who survived had been obliged to retire in some confusion to Potosi.

Gueneche now in turn took the aggressive, and, advancing, he crushed the revolution at Cochabamba, and now prepared his forces for serious invasion. These reverses of fortune were not sufficient to discourage the ardour of the inhabitants of Buenos Aires. For that the idea of independence had become too strongly engrafted in the young nation; and on February 18, 1812, the blue and white of the Argentine flag was decided upon to the sound of enthusiastic acclamations.

A month later Belgrano took over the command of the army in Peru in order to make a stand against the threatened invasion. In the first place he found caution necessary. The Royalists, flushed with victory, had recaptured the towns of Salta and Jujuy, and Belgrano retired for a while in the face of their advances. The forces under the Spanish General, Tristán, followed him.

This was Belgrano's opportunity. Falling upon the Royalist army, he completely defeated it in a battle at Tucumán, and the Spaniards suffered a heavy loss in men and munitions of war. Belgrano, then in turn advanced and made once again for Salta. In the neighbourhood of this town the Argentine flags were carried into battle for the first time, and their presence was welcomed as a favourable omen, for the victory remained with the patriot forces. Belgrano showed himself generous as a victor by liberating the great majority of his prisoners on parole, which, it is regrettable to state, large numbers of the Spaniards broke.[Pg 170]

This victory completely changed the situation in the south-east. The patriots were enabled to resume the aggressive; their armies were sent across once more into Uruguay, and Montevideo was again besieged.

In the meanwhile a certain amount of rivalry had made its appearance among the intellectual patriot leaders in Buenos Aires. The rival parties were headed respectively by Saavedra and Mariano Moreno. Moreno eventually retired from the junta, and was offered the post of Minister Plenipotentiary to Great Britain. This he accepted, but died on his voyage to Europe. The party he had formed, however, continued in being after his death under the name of Morenistas. The period, of course, was one of experiment, and just at this moment numerous forms of government were essayed, and the pattern of the constitution frequently changed.

On March 9, 1812, occurred an important event in the history of Argentina. On that date José de San Martin arrived in Buenos Aires in the British frigate George Canning. With him came Carlos Alvear and Matias Zapiola, whose names were likewise destined to become famous in the annals of the Republic. On their arrival there was established in Buenos Aires a branch of the now important secret society originally founded in London, the "Gran Reunion Americana." This branch was christened the "Logia de Lautaro," and exercised much influence on the affairs of the revolution.

San Martin was empowered by the Government to raise a force of horse-grenadiers, which subsequently became famous. In this regiment was Alvear in the capacity of Sargento Mayor, and Zapiola as Captain. There was plenty of work for the newly-constituted forces. San Martin's regiment was employed, in the first place, in the endeavour to restrain the river-raiding expeditions which the Royalist fleet was undertaking from its base at[Pg 171] Montevideo. The mischief effected by these incursions to the patriot forces was very great. On February 3, 1813, however, San Martin dealt the Spaniards a severe blow in the neighbourhood of Rosario. Here he surprised a landing-party and defeated it utterly. This was San Martin's first victory, and it very nearly proved his last, for he had his horse shot under him and all but lost his life.

While this was going on in Argentina, the fortunes of war in Peru had again veered from a favourable to a perilous condition. On October 1, 1813, the Argentine army was badly defeated at Vilcapuyo, and in the same year it was again defeated at Ayouma. On this the Spaniards, seeing that their star was again in the ascendant, resumed possession of Chuquisaca and Potosi.

San Martin was now sent to take charge of operations in Peru. On the Argentine side the campaign had in one sense degenerated, since the diminished numbers of the Republican forces now restricted them to guerilla fighting. This species of warfare, as a matter of fact, suited the hardy Argentines admirably, and under such brilliant leaders as Martin Guëmes, Ignacio Warnes, and Juan Antonio Alvarez de Arenales, their feats had kept the Royalist forces fully occupied. San Martin, on his arrival, immediately realized the advantages of this species of resistance, and encouraged it to the utmost. By this means alone was an invasion staved off.

At the beginning of 1814 Montevideo was still in the hands of the Spaniards, who continued to command the estuary of the River Plate and the great river system generally. Ominous news arrived from Europe. An important Royalist expedition, it appeared, was being prepared in Spain. The outlook for the patriots was serious. A Council of State was called in Buenos Aires, consisting of nine members, of which Alvear was the most[Pg 172] prominent. It was agreed that, so long as the Spanish fleet commanded the home waters, there was very little chance of driving their garrisons from the ports. It was resolved to establish a patriot fleet, which should sweep the seas clear of the Royalist vessels.

Three small vessels were in the first instance obtained—the Hercules, the Zefiro, and the Nancy. The command of these was given to an Irishman, William Brown, who lost no time in displaying his fitness for the post, and who, indeed, played the part of a lesser Cochrane. With his insignificant force he vanquished the Royalist fleet and captured the Island of Martin Garcia and blockaded Montevideo. On land General Alvear took charge of the investing patriot forces. Montevideo could now look for no assistance from the sea, and on June 20, 1814, after having suffered many hardships, the garrison capitulated, and with the collapse of its gallant defence ended the power of Spain in the River Plate.

San Martin was then appointed Governor of Cuyo, with his head-quarters at Mendoza. The situation in general was serious. Outside Argentina and Uruguay the Royalist cause had held its own, and in many districts had triumphed. It was said that the Spanish expedition of 15,000 men was on the eve of embarkation in Europe, and even in the victorious River Plate Provinces dissensions between Artigas, the Uruguayan leader, and rival Generals had resulted in civil war.

It was undoubtedly necessary to obtain some recognition of the Constitution in Europe. To this end Rivadavia and Belgrano proceeded to the Old World and sought the assistance of various countries, particularly that of England. On May 7, 1816, they arrived in Europe. The harassed statesmen of Argentina had, after consideration, decided that the best means of avoiding anarchy was to establish a monarchy. The emissaries of[Pg 173] the New World offered the throne to Don Francisco Paulo, an adopted son of King Carlos IV. These negotiations and others which succeeded them broke down and Belgrano returned to Buenos Aires. Rivadavia went to Madrid, where he was not permitted to remain. A little later Belgrano became possessed of the somewhat extraordinary idea of crowning a member of the family of the Incas. This naturally enough met with ridicule, and was rejected.

Third Dictator of the Republic of Paraguay.
A. Rischgitz.

But this is to anticipate. While all this was occurring, the struggle in Peru had continued to show the fickleness of the fortunes of war. Rondeau had been appointed General-in-Chief of the Army of Peru; he, however, had proved himself a General of slow movements, and suffered several defeats. He also fell out with Guëmes, and a battle ensued between the two sections of the Argentine forces. In this Rondeau once again suffered defeat at the hands of the Gauchos. A belated peace was now made up between the leaders, and Guëmes was suffered to continue his brilliant campaign unchecked.

In 1816 Puyrredon was elected dictator of Argentina, which now took its place as an independent State. The new Republic had now time to look beyond its own frontiers. Its eyes turned first of all to the west, where the Chileans were still struggling against the garrisons of Spain. Events had not favoured the patriots on the western side of the Andes, and a number of the most prominent men had fled eastwards to Argentina, O'Higgins and many others establishing themselves at the town of Mendoza for the time being. There, unfortunately, a certain amount of jealousy had broken out between the Chilean leaders, for the existence of much of which there is no doubt that the Carrera family was largely responsible.

The three brothers Carrera were very notable person[Pg 174]alities in the war of independence in Chile. In 1811 Don Juan José Carrera, who had attained to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel of Hussars in Europe, returned to his native country to take part in its defence. He appointed himself Colonel of the National Guards, made his eldest brother, José Miguel, a Colonel of the Grenadiers, and his younger brother, Don Luis, Colonel and Commander of the Artillery. In 1812 Bernardo O'Higgins joined Carrera, who at first made him Lieutenant-Colonel of the Line, and afterwards promoted him to the rank of Brigadier-General. In 1813 the three Carreras, with a number of other officers, were captured by the Spaniards, and O'Higgins assumed command of the army. When the three Carreras recovered their liberty a dispute occurred concerning the chief command, and the forces of the opposing parties actually came to blows on the Plain of Maipú, where an action was fought, and where O'Higgins was made prisoner. After this a reconciliation was brought about.

There is no shadow of doubt that a number of these patriot leaders may be ranked among the host of great men, sometimes on account of their qualities as leaders, sometimes for their statesmanship, but in almost every instance for their genuine patriotism. Nevertheless, there have been very few historical characters or temperaments which have been more difficult to estimate from contemporary accounts of their actions and motives. Jealousy entered very freely into the patriot ranks, and the various chroniclers, however honestly they may have written, and however deep their convictions may have been, were inevitably swayed to a very great extent by this.

Thus a partisan of the Carreras would have been a strange being, according to the lights of these times, had he been able to discern a spot of goodness in the[Pg 175] personality of San Martin, and the admirer of the heroic Cochrane would have had no higher opinion of the Argentine Liberator. The reverse of the medal was, of course, shown by San Martin's adherents, who might safely have been trusted to miss no defect in Cochrane, or in any other of his party. This condition of affairs prevailed throughout, and extended for the length and breadth of the Continent. Bolivar, Sucre, and everyone of note, was a hero to his own followers, and more or less a villain to the rest of the allied, yet rival, parties. As a rule these prominent leaders suffered rather than gained from the situation, since the calumnies of the period are more abundant than the laudations. It is only now that the history of the early nineteenth century is beginning to be written calmly and dispassionately, and as a result the participants in the great deeds of that epoch appear, with justice, greater to the modern world than they did in the eyes of their contemporaries.

[Pg 176]



It was at Mendoza that the famous Argentine General, San Martin, recruited the army destined for the campaign of Chile. In 1817 everything was prepared, and with an army of 4,000 men San Martin set out on one of the most extraordinary military marches that history has known. Indeed, his passage of the Andes is considered as unique by numerous military experts.

The advance of San Martin was not altogether unexpected by the Royalist forces, whose spies kept the Spanish commander informed of this latest move on the part of the patriot army. General San Martin, becoming aware of this, repaid these spies in their own coin. Taking them, as it seemed, into his confidence, he informed them of the route he was about to take, and when the time came chose another and a parallel pass. Hastening down the tremendous rocky walls of the western side of the Andes, San Martin engaged the Spanish forces and won an important victory at Chacabuco. The Royalists, under General Osorio, rallied and made a last desperate stand; but their forces were decisively and finally defeated on April 5, 1818, at Maipu, and this action resulted in the definite liberation of Chile.

San Martin was now the hero of Chile, and was begged to accept the protectorship of the new Republic. His deeds on land were rivalled by those of Admiral Cochrane on sea. The gallant Irish sailor was at the time busily[Pg 177] occupied in sweeping the Pacific Ocean clear of the Spanish vessels, and in performing those extraordinary feats of valour for which his memory is famed. Unfortunately, misunderstandings between the pair eventually resulted in open enmity between Cochrane and San Martin. This became accentuated when the campaign was undertaken in Peru, when San Martin, not content with his victories in Chile, led his armies for the liberation of the north into Peru itself, and into the head-quarters of the remaining Spanish power.

It was in Peru, then, that the dispute between Cochrane and San Martin broke out in a public fashion. Its origin in this instance was a difference of opinion concerning the measures to be taken for the capturing of Callao Castle. The impetuous Irishman was for storming the place at once. The prudent San Martin, on the other hand, was desirous of bringing about the surrender without bloodshed. The latter had his way, but was subjected to some criticism, since a number of Royalist soldiers who escaped were enabled to carry on the campaign in the interior.

The second and more violent dispute broke out on San Martin's refusal to pay the fleet out of the funds in Lima. On this Lord Cochrane took forcible possession of a large sum of money at the Port of Ancon, thus widening still further the already grave breach between the two. Once or twice, indeed, it was a mere chance which prevented an outbreak of active hostilities between the sea and land forces. Fortunately for all concerned, matters were not destined to reach such a pass. This, however, is somewhat in advance of the period with which we are dealing, and it will be necessary to return for a short while to Peru in its colonial state.

In Peru, during the last few years of the Spanish régime, the Royalist authorities, bending to the urgent necessity of a concession to public opinion which[Pg 178] might enable them to retain their power for a little longer, published some periodical papers, which, although of course strongly biased in their intelligence in favour of the Royalist cause, nevertheless gave a more or less accurate account of many of the events which had passed into hard and fast history. Thus the inhabitants of Lima were enabled to learn of the establishment of the Republics in Colombia, Buenos Aires, and Chile.

In 1812, moreover, the Inquisition had been abolished. Of this, Lima had been the head-quarters in South America from the day of its first institution. Here a similar stern and merciless procedure to that in other parts of the world was carried on. Indeed, the capital of the senior Viceroy was in every way the most reactionary spot in South America. In 1812, when it became known that the Cortes of Spain had abolished the Inquisition, a number of Peruvians entered the premises of the Holy office in order to inspect them. According to one who took part in it, the visit was unexpectedly exciting, for, on ransacking the documents, many of those present found their own names marked down as those of future victims. The sight of the torture-room inspired very different feelings in the breasts of the Limanians, and the sight of the iniquitous instruments enraged them to the point of destroying much within the building. Many trophies and relics were carried away as momentoes of the occasion. The following morning, however, the Archbishop proceeded in state to the cathedral, and declared all those excommunicated who had taken, and were retaining, any object belonging to the Inquisition. By this means a certain proportion of the objects were recovered.

Nevertheless, during its latter days—doubtless from a presentiment of the nearness of its end—the methods of the Inquisition had become comparatively softened.[Pg 179] Thus, when at the beginning of the nineteenth century an old fortune-teller, accused of witchcraft, was made to stand penitent in the chapel of the tribunal, and one of the secretaries read out a list of the wretch's misdeeds, the result was very unusual for anything connected with so justly dreaded an organization. For the old fortune-teller, doubtless tickled by a recital of his feats, burst into loud laughter, in which he was joined by the majority of the spectators. It is said that the Viceroy Castelfuerte, when summoned before the Inquisition, obeyed the mandate; but he brought with him his bodyguard, and stationed two pieces of artillery outside the building of the tribunal. After this he entered, and, placing his watch on the table, told the Inquisitor that, unless they finished their business with him in an hour, the place would be battered to pieces. In the face of this information the interview terminated almost immediately.

It has been frequently brought against the inhabitants of Lima that, while in almost every other part of the Continent the Americans had already freed themselves, or were fighting with that object, they had remained in a more or less passive state. Yet this condition of affairs was practically inevitable when it is considered that Lima was the great stronghold of Spain, filled to overflowing with Spanish officials and military officers. It is certain enough that, had Lima been captured in the first place by the insurgents, the Royalist resistance in all the other colonies would inevitably have collapsed immediately; but it did not in the least follow that because Buenos Aires, Santiago, and other towns had become the seats of Republican Governments, that the movement should influence the mainspring of Spanish authority at Lima.

The Spaniards of Lima were reputed, for that reason, the haughtiest of any in the Continent, and their manner towards the Criollos continued as overbearing as ever[Pg 180] during the first stages of the revolution. It is said that when the reinforcements came from Spain—as, for instance, when in 1813 the regiment of Talavera arrived—the behaviour of these Spaniards became more arrogant than ever. This attitude proved in the end to be possessed of a disconcertingly slender foundation. As a matter of fact, the troops which arrived from Spain during this period were for the most part composed of very indifferent material, both officers and men bearing the worst of characters, since every efficient soldier was urgently required in the Mother Country at that time.

Numbers of the Spanish troops themselves at this stage gave many signs of insubordination, more especially when, as occasionally occurred, their pay was delayed; and on two occasions a widespread mutiny was only staved off by the intervention of the Viceroy. Nevertheless, the exultation of the Spanish civilians reached its most fevered height in April, 1818, when the news of Spanish victories over the Chileans were succeeding each other at short intervals. According to contemporaneous historians, the Spaniards formed themselves into groups in the streets, and mocked and insulted every Criollo who had to pass them by. So arrogant was their conduct that no Criollo who valued his self-respect dared to enter a coffee-house in which a group of these Spaniards was assembled. The total news of the defeat of the Spanish General Osorio at Maipú came as a thunderbolt, and the shocked and humbled Spanish had to make the most of an altogether unexpected and painful situation.

W.B. Stevenson has an interesting account of the contrast which obtained at this period between the state of affairs in Lima and in Santiago:

"The contrast between the society which I had just quitted in the capital of Peru and that which I here found in the capital of Chile was of the most striking kind.[Pg 181] The former, oppressed by proud mandatories, imperious chiefs, and insolent soldiers, had been long labouring under all the distressing effects of espionage—greatest enemy to the charm of every society—the overbearing haughty Spaniards, either with taunts or sneers, harrowing the very souls of the Americans, who suspected their very oldest friends and often their nearest relations. In this way they were forced to drain the cup of bitterness to the last dregs, without daring by participation or condolence to render it less unpalatable, except, indeed, they could find an Englishman, and to him they would unbosom their inmost thoughts, believing that every Briton feels as much interest in forwarding the liberty of his neighbour as he does in preserving his own. In Lima the tertulias, or chit-chat parties, and even the gaiety of the public promenade, had almost disappeared, and quando se acabara esto?—'When will this end?'—was constantly ejaculated.

"In Santiago every scene was reversed. Mirth and gaiety presided at paseos, confidence and frankness at the daily tertulias. Englishmen here had evinced their love of universal liberty, and were highly esteemed. Friendship and conviviality seemed to reign triumphant, and the security of the country, being the fruit of the labour of its children, was considered by each separate individual as appertaining to himself; his sentiments on its past efforts, present change and future prosperity, were delivered with uncontrolled freedom; while the supreme magistrate, the military chief, the soldier and the peasant, hailed each other as countrymen, and only acknowledged a master in their duty or the law."

As has already been explained, it was inevitable that the struggle which was taking place in Peru, the Viceroyalty, where was now centred all the remaining Spanish power of the Continent, should have been more prolonged than that in Chile, and far more so than had proved the contest in the provinces of the River Plate. So far as Lima was concerned, the result was not so long in doubt.[Pg 182] Finding his hold on the capital no longer tenable in the face of the advance from the south of the victorious army, the Viceroy evacuated the town on July 26, 1821, and the patriot forces, entering the city, proclaimed from that place the freedom of Peru.

General Bolivar, in the meanwhile, having now cleared the northern countries of the Spanish troops, was marching down into Peru, and thus the stream of liberators from the south came into contact with those of the north. An historical interview was held at Guayaquil on July 26, 1822, between the two greatest men of the Continent of that time, San Martin and Bolivar. The details of this interview have never been made public, but what occurred may be surmised more or less accurately from the knowledge of the characters of the two men.

In one sense Bolivar's horizon was wider than that of San Martin. For practical purposes, indeed, there is no doubt that this horizon of the northern liberator had extended itself to a somewhat dangerous and impracticable degree. His dream was a federated South America—a single nation, in fact, which, save for the great Portuguese possession of Brazil, should extend from Panamá to Cape Horn.

Bolivar's enthusiasm on this point refused to be curbed at any cost—at all events, at this period. It must be admitted that he did not take into full consideration the differences which climatic influences and the varying degrees of racial intermarriage had worked in the populations of the several provinces. Thus the ethics of the northern and equatorial countries had become widely different from those in the southern and temperate zones. Nevertheless, such was Bolivar's faith in the destiny of South America as a whole that he would have flung the entire mass together, and left it to work out its complicated will.[Pg 183]

San Martin, as the representative of what might be termed, in one sense, the European States of the River Plate and Chile, was keenly alive to the defects of this plan. It is certain that the two theories were discussed in the course of the momentous interview between San Martin and Bolivar, and it is equally certain that San Martin realized that, holding such divergent views from those of his colleague as he did, friction between the leaders would in the circumstances become inevitable. He determined, therefore, on a piece of self-sacrifice which has few rivals in history. At the moment when he had achieved his triumph, and when the inhabitants of three powerful new countries were waiting to salute him with a thunder of acclamation, he laid down his office, unbuckled his sword, travelled quietly to Chile, and from there he crossed the Andes to Mendoza in a very different fashion to the one in which he had come on the occasion when he had commanded the army of liberation. From Mendoza he crossed the plains of Buenos Aires, and from there he took ship to Europe.

It is generally supposed that he never again returned to his native country. This, however, was not the case, since he once again sailed back from France with the idea of watching the progress of the land he loved so dearly. Perceiving, to his sorrow, that the country was temporarily lost in complete anarchy, he sailed to France again without having descended from the deck of the ship which had borne him out.

The remaining embers of the war had now become localized, and it was obvious that Spain was at her last gasp. Bolivar came down with his armies from Quito to Peru to complete the task of the destruction of the Spanish garrisons. In 1824 the Battle of Junin was fought, which resulted in a striking victory for the South Americans. The patriot forces on this occasion made a[Pg 184] particularly gallant fight, and the brilliant cavalry charge made by Suarez is said to have been largely responsible for the victory.

Bolivar then gave over the command of the army to General Sucre, who on December 9, 1824, fought the Battle of Ayacucho, completely defeating the Royalist forces. This proved to be the final action of the war; the last shred of Spanish authority had been torn from the Continent, the last of the Spanish garrisons were now ploughing their sombre course back to Europe, and it was left to Spanish America to shape its own destiny.

[Pg 185]



Until the period of Napoleonic chaos which overwhelmed the two westernmost countries of Europe, the South American colonies of Spain and Portugal had continued their existence on similar lines. Both had been entirely subservient to the Mother Country. The laws which governed Brazil and the Spanish colonies were framed on the same model, and the disadvantages under which the colonists of either nation had laboured from the start had been practically identical.

With the upheaval which occurred at the beginning of the nineteenth century, a new order came into being, so far as the Spaniards and Portuguese were concerned. The parting of the ways was now marked. It is, indeed, curious to notice that, while Spanish South America was strenuously engaged in transforming itself from the status of a royal colony to that of a group of independent republics, an operation was being carried out in Brazil, the effect of which was precisely the reverse.

Brazil, in fact, in place of the neglect of centuries from which she had suffered, now underwent a sudden, dazzling, and altogether unexpected shower of honours and distinctions. That this did not come about spontaneously affected the colony but little; the fact remained that she was destined in a remarkably short space of time to rise from a colony to a kingdom, and from a kingdom to an empire. The circumstances which led[Pg 186] to this transformation were sufficiently dramatic in themselves.

In order to preserve the thread of these rather complicated events, it is necessary to transfer the scene for a short while to Western Europe, where at the moment the armies of Napoleon were sweeping all before them.

In 1807, when the French troops under Junot were on the eve of entering Lisbon, the Portuguese Royal Family embarked on a Portuguese man-of-war, and, escorted by a Portuguese fleet, sought the protection of the British Fleet under Sir Sidney Smith.

The move was effected only just in time, and the Prince Regent's confidential servant, who embarked just after the rest, left his departure so late that he was obliged to forsake some of his papers, his money, and even his hat, on the beach. Sir Sidney Smith convoyed the fleet as far as latitude 37° 47' north, after which he left them under the protection of the Marlborough, the London, the Monarch, and the Bedford. Almost at the same time Sir Samuel Hood and General Beresford took possession of the Island of Madeira, holding it in trust for Portugal.

The royal party landed at Bahia on January 21, 1808. So enthusiastic was their reception that they remained in the town for a month. While at Bahia the Regent gave promise of his future good-will and liberality by promulgating a carta regia, dated January 28, by which he opened the ports of Brazil to general commerce, levying on imports only a moderate duty, and permitting exports of all articles under any flag, with the exception of one or two articles which still remained royal monopolies.

The departure of the Royal Family from Bahia was rendered necessary by strategic considerations, for, owing to its peculiar situation, the town could easily[Pg 187] have been cut off from the rest of the mainland by hostile forces. The royal party therefore sailed south, and arrived in Rio de Janeiro on March 7.

The joy in the port at the arrival of the Regent and his party manifested itself in an excitement approaching delirium on the part of the officials and populace. The mountains and the waters of the bay were illuminated night after night with Bengal fires, rockets, and similar fireworks, and every possible demonstration of joy known to the colonists was continued unbroken for nine days. In the meanwhile the inhabitants were preparing the beautiful site of the town for its promotion as a capital city of a kingdom and the residence of a King.

Indeed, in material advantages Brazil benefited almost immediately from the arrival of the Portuguese Royal Family. In the first place, as has already been explained, on January 28, 1808, the Prince Regent abolished the old exclusive system, and opened the ports of Brazil. A local writer, referring with enthusiasm to this, said the edict "ought to be written in letters of gold."

New desires, new habits, and new objects, were now introduced, and came crowding one after the other in haste into the wonderful tropical regions of the Bay of Rio de Janeiro. Printing was legalized with the arrival of the Prince Regent, who brought over with him his library, and this, in 1814, was thrown open to the public. The progress of science went hand in hand with that of the rest, and in 1811 vaccination was introduced. The pleasant arts were not left out in the cold, since, in 1813, the first regular theatre was opened. In 1814 the French were invited to come over as residents, and they accepted in numbers.

The old Criollo families now mustered about the royal representatives of Portugal, and rubbed shoulders with the nobility, who had come out in attendance,[Pg 188] taking no little pride in the contact, and desirous only of exhibiting to the utmost possible extent the depth of their loyalty.

The character of the Regent was such as to warrant the fervent loyalty displayed by his American subjects. Although set free by the mental disease of Queen Francisca Isabel, his mother, to the exercise of almost despotic authority from his earliest years, he had developed very few of the vices usually resulting from such lack of control and training. He is described as having been "mild and just" in temper, and of comparatively pure moral character. He was, however, called to the exercise of authority in troubled times, and had not the balance which makes the perfect statesman. To João VI. the nearest trouble was always the greatest, and the courtier at hand, able to gain the royal ear, had far more chance of success with him than the one who proffered his request by letter. João found it difficult to refuse, disagreeable to inquire, and laborious to discuss. He was, in fact, an amiable man, but not a strong one.

João used the best measures at his command for the prosperity of his adopted kingdom, and he carried out reforms as far as he could or dared. Free trade was completely established; foreign settlers were invited, and artisans and mechanics encouraged in every way. English mechanics and shipwrights, Swedish ironfounders, German engineers, and French artists and manufacturers, crowded to this new field of action, so suddenly opened up. In the meanwhile schools and hospitals were founded throughout the country, and the new commerce, consequent on unrestricted trading, was watched and regulated. Inspectors of ports and customs were appointed to prevent fraud; Rio was made a bishopric, and the ecclesiastical establishments of the[Pg 189] country were carefully regulated, while many new tribunals were established.

The vast increase of population and trade caused a corresponding increase in the buildings of the central and southern cities, more especially in those of the capital. New streets and squares and magnificent country houses rose up on all sides, while the presence of a brilliant Court necessarily altered many of the habits of the people. The fashions of Europe were introduced, and the Empire gained a breadth of outlook that no mere colony of the period could ever possess. The introduction of the Court brought to Brazil a new life and activity, new luxuries, increased and increasing trade, a vigorous and growing population, fresh public and private undertakings, and all the vigour of a rising community.

Rio de Janeiro was now the head-quarters, not only of Brazil, but of the whole Portuguese Empire. The Papal Nuncio had taken up his residence at the spot; Lord Strangford, the British Ambassador, and other diplomatic representatives of the various European countries, had arrived; while Sir Sidney Smith hovered about as a naval guardian angel. Rio, in fact, opened its astonished eyes to a world of fashion and to functions such as it had never known.

As could scarcely fail to prove the case in the circumstances, it was not long before jealousies arose between the Portuguese and the colonists; but it was some time before these appeared on the surface, and in the first place the atmosphere of feasting and rejoicing dissipated all other considerations.

One of the effects of the advent of the royal party in Brazil may easily be conceived. The Court had always been somewhat prodigal of its Orders and Decorations. The appetite in the Peninsula for these insignia had always[Pg 190] been sufficiently keen; among the cruder Brazilians the greed for any distinction of the sort became quite overwhelming. The most popular Portuguese Order has always been—and remained so even until the recent ending of the Monarchy—that of Christo, and the effective state dress of this Order, the long white robe with the great cross, has always had a wide appeal. In Rio de Janeiro during this period this was only one of the Orders which were scattered broadcast, and which, after a short while, could be obtained at an increasingly cheap rate. Eventually every tradesman in Rio was wont to appear at the official gatherings, and, indeed, at the others as well, with his breast covered with a blaze of Orders, all of which had been paid for, if not in actual cash, in goods delivered.

The tremendous enthusiasm of the colonists bade fair to add an element of pure farce to the situation. At this period, moreover, various negro battalions were raised, and it is noted by travellers that the black faces of the negro officers were wont to mingle with those of the courtiers at royal functions—a very strange and new situation for those, many of whose relatives were undoubtedly slaves in the same country.

But in return for these advantages a bill—and a heavy bill at that—mounted up steadily. As a colony Brazil had been governed simply and inexpensively. After awhile the colonists found that a Queen, a Regent, and a Court, were expensive luxuries. In addition to the Royal Family there came over from Portugal more than 20,000 nobles, knights, and gentry, each expecting to be supported out of the revenues of the colony in the same state and circumstance as had been his own in Europe. In order to provide for these hosts of dependents, offices and places were created, and endowed with the most liberal salaries.[Pg 191]

On the arrival of the Court there were already four Ministers, four offices, and four staffs of officials in existence. These were continued, and to them were added a Supreme Court of Law and Equity; a Board for the simultaneous management of the affairs and property of the Church and of the military Orders, with the power of suspending laws; a secondary Court of Appeal, but still a superior Court to those of Brazil; a general Board of Police; a Court of Exchequer and the Treasury; a mint, with a large staff of officials; a bank; a royal printing-office; large mills and factories for the manufacture of arms and ammunition; and a supreme military court.

These new posts and offices were filled throughout by European officials, and the expenses of the Court itself, added to them, made up a burden which the new trade and increased population failed to compensate. In order to meet the cost of these many new appointments the Government had imposed new taxes and duties. Tobacco, cotton, sugar, hides, and other exports, were taxed; and 10 per cent. was levied on house rent, on the sale of real property, and harbour dues.

All this, however, was insufficient, and as a last resort the expedient of tampering with the currency was tried. Dollars were sent into circulation at 20 per cent. above their commercial value. Money was borrowed from the bank, which was in close connection with the mint, and taxes were mortgaged in advance; while even the royal regalia was pledged as security. Notes were issued far beyond the amount of cash available for redemption, and a few years later the bank, its affairs brought to irremediable confusion, stopped payment.

While these things were occurring, public discontent was growing; and in order to divert the attention of the populace from internal troubles, a war was determined[Pg 192] on. French Guiana was near, and provided an admirable object for the purpose. In 1809, when France was fully engaged in European struggles, Guiana was attacked and captured with little trouble. The colony capitulated, and remained Brazilian for six years, when the Treaty of Vienna restored it to French rule.

The conquest was of great indirect value to Brazil, in that it led to the introduction and free cultivation of agricultural products which had either been non-existent in Brazil up to that time, or extirpated by the crippling policy which Portugal pursued towards her colonies. Cinnamon, for instance, had hitherto been destroyed wherever found in Brazil, being regarded as a monopoly of the East Indies.


The easy victory over Guiana induced the Regent to make attacks on the Spanish colonies to the south and west of Brazil. Here, however willing the colonists were to shake off their subjection to Spain, they by no means desired to become subject to Brazil. It was just at this period that the War of Independence was raging, and the Spanish colonies were forming themselves into republics. João, fearing republicanism[Pg 193] more than he hated Spain, aided Elio, the Spanish Governor of the Plate districts, with money and men in his attacks on the insurgents.

A. Rischgitz.

Elio was defeated, and the new Republicans made a hostile entry into Rio Grande and São Paolo. The Regent, fearing the result of this incursion, sent 5,000 Portuguese troops with a contingent of Brazilians to drive the enemy over the southern frontier. In this the Brazilian force was entirely successful, and the evacuation of Montevideo and occupation of Misiones were followed by the chasing of the Uruguayan patriot Artigas across the Uruguay River.

In spite of popular and successful war, the Brazilians refused to be entirely contented, and João had some reason to fear their discontent, since Brazilian money supported the Government and Court, and ruin would necessarily follow the withdrawal of this. In order to meet all objections João determined to make Brazil his kingdom.

On December 16, 1815, a decree was issued declaring that from the date of its publication the State of Brazil should be elevated to the dignity of a kingdom, and henceforth called the Kingdom of Brazil, and should form with those in Europe the United Kingdom of Portugal, Algarves, and Brazil. Immediately after this event the Queen, Dona Maria, died at Rio, and the Prince Regent delayed the ceremony of his succession until the expiration of a year of mourning. The arms of the new King consisted of an armillary sphere of gold, in field azure, and in a scutcheon containing the quinas of Portugal and the seven castles of Algarves. The sphere was surmounted by the royal crown.

On November 5, 1817, a vessel brought out the Archduchess Leopoldina, daughter of the Emperor Francis I. of Austria, who had been married by proxy to Dom Pedro, the son of João VI.[Pg 194]

On February 6, 1818, João VI. was formally crowned at Rio, a ceremony which was emphasized—

"by bursts of music, peals of bells, explosions of artillery, deafening shouts, of discharges of fireworks, and such a universal display of extravagant joy that, as my worthy author, Gonçalves dos Santos says: 'It would require the pencil of Zeuxis and the odes of Pindar to describe; and if anything on earth could be compared to the joys of heaven, it was that moment.'"

The following year Princess Dona Maria da Gloria was born, a circumstance which rejoiced the loyal colonists not a little. Nevertheless, in the remoter regions of the enormous colony of Brazil, where the influence of these joyous events had been less felt, all was not so tranquil.

In Pernambuco and Bahia local jealousies had fermented; the revolutions had been put down with a firm hand, and the leaders of the movements executed. This severity was much resented, both at the time and subsequently, and these provinces, in consequence, remained in a state of suppressed irritation.

In 1820 some territory was annexed in the south, when, Uruguay being convulsed by civil war, the troops of Brazil occupied Tacuarembó and the Arroyo-Grande.

After a while it became evident that Prince Pedro had gained more popularity than the King. The conservative methods of João VI. were in the end responsible for protests on the part of the populace, and the King at length was obliged to give way, and to promise more liberal constitutions than he had endeavoured to uphold. Dom Pedro swore in his father's name to respect these constitutions, and his example was followed by his brother, Dom Miguel. The enthusiasm which followed the concession was tumultuous, and the King himself found it necessary to come from his country seat, Boa Vista.[Pg 195]

When he arrived at the capital his horses were taken from his carriage, and it was dragged to the palace by the people. Fireworks and illuminations followed, and a gala performance at the opera for the succeeding night was ordered; but King João VI. was unable to attend. The proceedings had really been adopted against the grain in his case, and thus, when the curtains in the royal box were drawn apart, it was seen to be occupied by the pictures of the King and Queen instead of by royalty in the flesh; but these pictures were received with the same enthusiasm and as hearty plaudits as though they had been royal humanity itself.

While all this was happening in Brazil, the French had been finally driven out from Portugal, and King João VI. determined to return once more to his native country. On April 24 he sailed with the Royal Family, leaving his son, Dom Pedro, as Governor of Brazil. Only a day or two before a disturbance had broken out in the capital. When the electors assembled, they were wantonly attacked by the Portuguese soldiery, and about thirty of them were slain, the majority in cold blood. The atrocity would have doubtlessly been more serious had not the popular Dom Pedro interfered.

With the departure of the King from Brazil it was inevitable that complications should ensue. Having once enjoyed the status of a kingdom, and having been granted those privileges which had so benefited the country during the past few years, it was only natural that Brazil should resent any attempt to place her once again in the neglected situation from which she had been rescued. It seemed, nevertheless, as though the policy of Portugal would now be directed towards this end. It was at this juncture that the influence of Prince Pedro began to be felt.

Prince Pedro possessed a personality essentially capable of commanding; his talents, moreover, were varied. He[Pg 196] was a good horseman, a keen sportsman, and was addicted to music and many of the politer arts. The part he had to play was undoubtedly a difficult one. His sentiments were intensely Brazilian; at the same time, in the letters he wrote to the Court of Portugal he stated distinctly that the Mother Country alone possessed his loyalty, as was only just, and that he would make no move whatever that would prejudice the interests of Portugal. He even went the length of lamenting his presence in the far-away land he governed, and swore that he longed for the day when he might return and sit upon the steps of his father's throne.

In the meanwhile the jealousies between the Portuguese and Brazilians increased rapidly, the bitterness being more especially evident in the soldiery of the respective lands. King João himself had behaved with little consideration ere his departure. One of his last acts in Brazil had been to promise the soldiery of that country double pay, yet, though he had left the promise behind him, he had left no means whatever to carry it out, and thus disturbances arose in many places.

On December 9, 1821, the brig Dom Sebastião arrived, bearing a decree to institute a provisional Government, which should again reduce the country to the condition of a province, and another which ordered the immediate return to Portugal of the young Prince Regent. A real crisis now arose. The Brazilians, devoted to Dom Pedro, implored him to remain; the Portuguese garrison spoke of removing him on a homeward-bound ship by force. The whole city was agog, and the excitement at fever-heat. In the midst of the turmoil the Brazilian troops surrounded the Portuguese, and, after obtaining a great strategic advantage, ordered them to march on board the vessels of the fleet bound for Lisbon.


The Portuguese were inclined to resist, when Dom[Pg 197] Pedro himself appeared in their midst and ordered their commanders specifically to embark the next day and to sail for Portugal. He had now decided on his attitude, and was determined that his orders should be obeyed. To show that he was in earnest he even took a match in his hand and lit it, and swore that, did the Portuguese troops refuse, he would be the first man to fire a cannon at them. This ended the matter, and the next day the ship sailed and carried away the Portuguese garrison.


On May 13, 1822, a deputation from the Rio Chamber of Deputies approached Prince Pedro and persuaded him to assume the title of "Constitutional Prince Regent and Perpetual Defender of Brazil." Portugal, for its part, was now bitterly opposed to Brazil and to the Brazilians. Decrees were enacted towards the suppression of the independence of the great colony. One of these ran to the effect that Prince Pedro was to return to Europe[Pg 198] within four months, and that any of the military who obeyed his orders, unless by compulsion, were to be deemed traitors to Portugal.

During all this time fresh troops were arriving to reinforce the garrison at Bahia, which had remained Royalist. The patriots, for their part, had collected strong forces and hemmed the Royalists in Bahia to such an extent that they could only retain communication by sea.

Matters grew more and more strained every day, for the Mother Country sought to put an end to the virtual supremacy of its great colony, while Brazil was utterly opposed to Portuguese rule. When Prince Pedro was ordered to return to Portugal, "in order to complete his education," the Brazilians, and especially the provincial Government of São Paulo, begged him to disobey and remain in Brazil. The soldiers threatened to mutiny if he went, and the people entreated him not to go, while every proof of his popularity was added cause for exasperation on the part of the Home Government, rendering his situation more dangerous.

If Dom Pedro went to Portugal, said the Brazilians, they must choose between an anarchical republic and the old state of dependence on Portugal. In the matter of São Paulo and the requests of its citizens, the brothers Andrada were most prominent, and they obtained a promise from the Prince that he would not go. Together with the Andradas he toured the States of Minas and São Paulo on a mission of pacification; but the people of the country felt that the present state of affairs could not continue, and in his absence it was determined to make him the ruler of the country, and he was declared Defender of the Empire. On September 7, 1822, he received a bundle of despatches from Portugal, and his staff watched while he read letter after letter. There was[Pg 199] one which he read two or three times, and then destroyed. What its contents were was never known, but after pondering and a few minutes of thought, Pedro raised his hand and spoke his decision—"Independence or death!"

There was no doubt that he had carried out the wishes of his father, and probably the letter which he destroyed contained João's written directions. Some idea of this seems to have been general among the Brazilians, for both they and the Portuguese soldiers in Brazil always spoke of João with affection, and regarded him rather as a prisoner of the Cortes of Lisbon than as King of Portugal.

The Brazilians determined that the last doubt concerning the situation should be dissipated, and on October 12, 1822, Dom Pedro, who was at Piranga, was made constitutional Emperor of Brazil, and all relation and connection with Portugal was severed.

Dom Pedro had all this time kept up a correspondence with his father, King João, and in one of these letters he wrote:

"They wish, and they say they wish, to proclaim me Emperor. I protest to your Majesty that I will not be perjured ... that I will never be false to you; and if they commit that folly, it will not be till after they have cut me to pieces—me and all the Portuguese—a solemn oath, which I here have written with my blood in the following words:

"'I swear to be always faithful to your Majesty, to the Portuguese nation, and Constitution.'"

These latter words were apparently actually written in his blood, and the epistle is certainly a proof of the complicated state of affairs and of the strange influences which were at work.

Open warfare now broke out between Brazil and[Pg 200] Portugal. At Bahia the Portuguese, although their garrison was hemmed in, were masters of the sea. The Brazilians determined to make a bold bid for the control of the waves, and to this end sent an invitation to Lord Cochrane, who had just freed the Pacific Ocean from the Spanish fleet, and was at the time in Chile.

An invitation of that kind was never refused by Cochrane. In March, 1823, he arrived and took command of the new Brazilian fleet, which was considerably inferior to that of Portugal. He sailed immediately for Bahia, but found his crews in no very anxious mood to fight their compatriots. A few skirmishes ensued, and the Portuguese fleet took refuge under the guns of the land forces. On the same day the Brazilians entered the city and took possession of it.

The Portuguese fleet now sailed to the north, and was pursued by Lord Cochrane beyond the Equator. He saw to it that their voyage was an eventful one, for he captured more than one-half of their transports, and completely dispersed the remainder. Cochrane then returned to Brazil, and was instrumental in releasing the north of that country from the remaining foreign forces.

On December 1, 1823, Dom Pedro was formally crowned. The ceremony was dramatic, and crowns and wreaths of laurels were showered down upon the hero of the nation, while patriotic airs were thundered out with tremendous enthusiasm.

Three years later (August 29, 1825) Pedro was acknowledged as Emperor of Brazil by the Mother Country, after the last Portuguese troops in the country had been withdrawn.

[Pg 201]



Portuguese acquiescence in Dom Pedro's sovereignty was brought about largely by the instrumentality of Lord Cochrane, who, after harrying the deported garrison of Bahia when on its voyage to Europe, brought about the capitulation of Maranhão and Pará, acting in concert with Grenfell, another ocean free-lance, second only to Cochrane in daring and versatility.

In Montevideo the General commanding the Portuguese garrison declared for independence, and left the soldiers to make their own choice; whereupon they followed the remainder of the Portuguese troops to Europe. Uruguay, left to its own choice, retained its allegiance to Brazil until Artigas, a famous leader and partisan of liberty, stirred up the people. The Brazilian troops entered Montevideo on January 20, 1817, and the Emperor sent his picture to the Cabildo Hall, an act which brought about the appearance of a most extraordinary document, drawn up by the officials of the town. When the portrait appeared they announced that—

"A mixed sensation of trembling and delight seized us, as if we were in the presence of the Lord."

In justice to the inhabitants of Montevideo in general, it must be said that this fulsome and despicable effusion was the work of only a few, and was hostile to the senti[Pg 202]ments of, and strenuously condemned by, the general public.

The first Brazilian Assembly, as soon as convoked, set to work to frame its first Constitution, a matter which was found extremely difficult. The fact that Brazil had been an independent monarchy for some years helped to combat the views of those who shouted "Liberty!" too loudly, and would fain have abandoned practice for theory. It was understood that the first requisites were order and security, together with reasonable checks on authority. Further, it was realized that there must be sufficient elasticity to meet future needs and circumstances.

But for the Emperor, the forming of the Constitution would have been a failure. Almost immediately after his first opening of the Assembly he laid before it a sketch of the Constitution that they had to form. "The recent Constitutions," he said, "founded on the models of those of 1791 and 1792, had been acknowledged as too abstract and metaphysical for execution. This had been proved by the example of France, and more recently by that of Spain and Portugal. We have need of a Constitution where the powers may be so divided and defined that no one branch can arrogate to itself the prerogative of another; a Constitution which may be an unsurmountable barrier against all invasion of the royal authority, whether aristocratic or popular, which will overthrow anarchy and cherish the tree of liberty, beneath whose shade we shall see the union and the independence of the Empire flourish—in a word, a Constitution that will excite the admiration of other nations, and even of our enemies, who will consecrate the triumph of our principles by adopting them."

There was, however, too much of self-denial in the Emperor's views to meet with the approbation of the[Pg 203] Assembly. At the head of the Ministry were the brothers Andrada—men who in earlier days had rendered great services to Dom Pedro, but who had grown somewhat arbitrary, overbearing, and impatient, and now presumed on their past services in establishing the Empire to tyrannize over both the Emperor and the Assembly. In the end the members of the Assembly forced the brothers to resign, at which the people rose and drew José Bonifacio in triumph through the streets of Rio to his official residence.

Fearing the people, the Assembly reinstated the Andradas for a period of eight months, after which they were again ejected. From this time on they became violent opponents of the Assembly and the Court, seemingly determined that if they could not rule, nobody else should. Their newspaper, the Tamayo, was a powerful organ in the capital, and proved itself as unsparing as it was libellous in its attacks.

It was owing to obstruction of this kind that for a long while no advance was made in the formation of a Constitution, for as the Emperor made suggestions, the Andradas caused them to be thrown out. Bills brought in by members were never read, and the brothers even went so far as to attack the Portuguese employés of the Emperor, and when one of these wrote a scathing article against them, they used personal violence toward him. He appealed to the Assembly, whereupon the Andradas insisted that he and all his fellows should be dismissed.

Week by week the Tamayo grew more virulent and threatening against the Emperor. Dom Pedro grew alarmed, for the Andradas were wealthy and powerful, and the Emperor felt that their disaffection might be a sign of general popular feeling—that the republican movement was gaining ground too much for his safety.[Pg 204] His actions against the republican movement in various parts of the Empire, necessary though they were, had, nevertheless, forced him into connection with, and reliance on, the Portuguese residents and militia, a class almost as distasteful to the liberal Brazilians as the Portuguese whom they had driven out of the country. Thoroughly liberal in his own tendencies, Pedro yet felt that the Andradas might be expressing a general discontent with his rule.

The Andradas, at the head of the popular party, drove the Emperor to the use of extreme measures by their insolence and turbulent intrigues. He took the law into his own hands. The brothers had induced the Assembly to declare itself permanent, but, not unlike Cromwell in a different species of crisis, Pedro surrounded the Chamber with troops and guns, dispersed the Deputies, and captured the three Andradas, together with two of their principal friends. These five he deported to France without the formality of a trial.

At this the popular party took alarm, but the Emperor pointed out that he had no other course left; he had acted from no desire to impair the freedom of the people, but from necessity. The proclamation which he issued at this time stated that "though he had, from regard to the tranquillity of the Empire, thought fit to dissolve the third Assembly, he had in the same decree convoked another, in conformity with the acknowledged constitutional rights of his people."

With regard to the forming of the Constitution, he left it no longer to the Assembly, but appointed a committee of ten persons to settle the sketch he had drawn up.

The Republican and ultra-Liberal party, awed by the salutary treatment meted out to the Andradas, grew furious at the further energetic measures of the Emperor, for they saw in Dom Pedro's policy an attempt to gain[Pg 205] absolute dominance. Open rebellion broke out all over the country, and a Republic was actually proclaimed in Pernambuco, Ceará, the northern provinces generally, and in the south. Uruguay for the last time revolted, and severed the tie which bound her to the Empire, having never since been subject to Brazil.

A century ago.

The moderate people wavered between the two sides. They saw in Republicanism only anarchy, while the Emperor's coup d'état inspired them with fear of his government. He himself, seeing that a striking move was necessary, sought the assistance of the Town Council of Rio, and with their aid adopted the Constitution he had drawn up, without submitting it to the Assembly. On March 24, 1824, he swore to the Constitution in public, trusting to the freedom and fairness which it embodied to gain him adherence.

This move was perfectly successful, for wherever the Constitution was proclaimed the Republican party fell to pieces. The principles of the document were so simple, liberal, and practical, that the Republican party could not ask more than the Emperor gave. By this Pedro saved his throne, beyond doubt, and gradually the provincial authorities and the people of the country accepted the situation, and swore to observe the new Constitution.

In the meanwhile a species of minor maritime warfare was carried on in the River Plate between the Brazilian fleet and the Argentine vessels commanded by Admiral Brown, in the course of which the Brazilians suffered not a little, and the prestige of the Imperial fleet in consequence diminished.

On December 11, 1826, the Empress died in childbirth at the early age of twenty-nine. She had come out from Austria determined to make the ways of Brazil her own. On her first arrival she was considered lovely, and there[Pg 206] is no doubt that her fair, clear complexion, blue eyes, and golden hair were immensely admired by folk themselves almost invariably possessed of raven locks. Some while after she had arrived in the country of her adoption the Empress is said to have neglected her personal appearance to a rather regrettable extent, adopting the ways of the Brazilian country-side rather than those of the capital. Thus she accustomed herself to large heavy boots adorned with enormous spurs, and would ride astride on a horse, her hair being suffered to hang loose about her face and shoulders. In fact, she paid not the slightest attention to those attractions with which Nature had endowed her. She was a being of intense charity and love, polished to a degree, an accomplished letter-writer, and a lover of the fine arts in general.

Had the Empress bestowed less care on others and more upon her own person, there is little doubt but that she would have led a happier life, for the Emperor, surrounded by the temptations which are always in the path of crowned heads, allowed his affections to stray. Indeed, so wrapped up was Dom Pedro in his liaison, that the unfortunate Empress, under pressure, found her rival attached to her Court as lady-in-waiting. Her meek and affectionate temperament does not appear to have resented this—at all events openly. When, however, this rival insisted on making her way to the death-bed of the Empress, it was felt by the attendants that all bounds had been passed. On their own responsibility they prevented the proposed entrance, and after the death of the Empress suffered for their pains at the instigation of the slighted favourite.

Towards the end of 1826 Colonel Cotter, an Irish officer in the Brazilian Service, undertook to bring over a number of his countrymen from their native land in order[Pg 207] that they should become soldier settlers—that is to say, they were promised fifty acres of land a head if they would undertake to perform military service when needed. The result was a fiasco. The unfortunate Irishmen came out, but found nothing prepared for them. They were insulted, moreover, by the negroes, who took to calling them "white slaves" as a mark of contempt for the ragged clothes to which they found themselves reduced in the end.

Goaded beyond endurance, not only by neglect, but by periodical assaults on their numbers, the Irish, together with a number of Germans and other soldiers who found themselves in a similar situation, broke out into open mutiny, and a pitched battle took place between them and the blacks, who had now been armed by the authorities. In the end the Brazilians intervened, assisted by the French and the English Marines, who were landed from the fleets of their respective nations, and the mutiny was suppressed, but not before many foreigners quite unconcerned with the affair had been slain. After this the Irish returned to their native land.

The proclamation of the Constitution marked the zenith of Dom Pedro's popularity. The dangers he had gone through and the arbitrary measures he had been compelled to adopt seem to have altered his views to an extent which in the end alienated from him the sympathies of his people. He never again trusted the Brazilians, while the success of his arbitrary policy in connection with the Andradas, and in the troubled times which followed, gave him a taste for absolute rule. In the formation of the Constitution he saved his country, but ruined himself.

After the last sparks of revolution had been put out, the people looked for the convocation of the Assembly again, but the Emperor omitted to bring this about for[Pg 208] such a length of time that the nation began to understand that he no longer viewed its claims in the same light. Soon his preference for the Portuguese began to attract notice, and the treaty with Portugal, into which he entered before the Mother Country recognized the independence of Brazil, caused general indignation by its extravagant concessions. The treaty was justly resented, for Pedro was Emperor by successful revolt and conquest, and yet by this treaty he forewent his just rights, and then bought them again from Portugal—with Brazilian money.

This error of diplomacy was followed by war against Uruguay, for the Emperor attacked the revolted province, and declared war against Buenos Aires for rendering assistance to the Uruguayans. The campaign was carried on so feebly and expensively that the people regarded it as folly, and at the same time resented the enlistment, already referred to, of regiments of German and Irish troops, aliens, who were never popular.

The people of Brazil were aggravated, in addition to these causes, by the increasing extravagance of the Emperor, and by the expense which his establishment entailed, while his policy had reduced the nation to poverty. There were numerous payments to be made to Portugal in connection with the senseless treaty into which Pedro had entered; there was the cost of the war, including the pay of the hired German and Irish troops; and then there was the personal expenditure of the Emperor to add to these, while the militia system of the country had developed into a sort of conscription, an utter grievance in the sight of people who wanted liberty and peace.

In 1828 Uruguay was declared independent, much to the dissatisfaction of a great number of Brazilians, who[Pg 209] advocated the retention of the Banda Oriental as a province of Brazil.


On March 10, 1826, Dom. João died. As soon as the tidings reached Brazil the Emperor assumed the title of King of Portugal, in addition to that of Emperor of Brazil. On May 2, six days later, he abdicated the throne of Portugal in favour of his daughter, Dona Maria. It was resolved that Dona Maria should marry her uncle, Dom Miguel, in order that she should ally herself with a Portuguese of high rank. Nevertheless, a dispute arose between the adherents of Dom Miguel and those of the Emperor of Brazil, and a state of civil war obtained in Portugal for a time. Dona Maria, on her arrival in England on her way to Portugal, was received with royal honours. But Dom Miguel seized upon the throne and managed to hold it for a while.

Supported by the Portuguese or Absolutist party, Pedro went his way, and, even in his latter days of rule, refused to sign Bills for the development of the Constitution. There was undoubtedly much now to unsettle the Brazilian populace. Disadvantageous reciprocity treaties were concluded with various countries, while defeats of the Brazilian soldiers were experienced at the hands of the troops of the Argentine Republic. An indemnity was demanded by France and the United States of America for ships captured during the blockade of Buenos Aires, and large sums of money had to be paid to avert further war. Finally, the English Government persuaded Brazil to make a somewhat humiliating peace with Buenos Aires, and renounce all claim to the colony, which was henceforth to be known as the Republic of Uruguay.

By 1830 the policy which the Emperor pursued had alienated the national affection to such an extent that every member of the Assembly but the Ministers was in[Pg 210] opposition. Wherever the Emperor went, he was treated with coldness instead of enthusiasm. A scheme on the part of the Republicans for adopting the Constitution of the United States, but retaining Pedro as hereditary President, caused him to dismiss his Ministers, and surround himself with men of the Absolutist party. At this an immense crowd assembled in the Campo de Santa Ana, demanding the reinstatement of the popular Ministers.

The Emperor sent a magistrate to read a justification of his conduct to the crowd, but the paper was snatched from the magistrate's hands and torn to pieces almost before he had finished reading it. In their turn the people sent messengers to the palace, insisting on the reinstatement of the Republican Ministers. The Emperor listened to the demand, and answered: "I will do everything for the people, nothing by the people."

This answer exasperated the crowd still further, yet no excess was committed. At two o'clock in the morning the last messenger of the people was departing with the Emperor's refusal to yield to their demands, when Pedro bade him stay, and, sitting down at his desk, wrote his last message to the people of Brazil:

"Availing myself of the right which the Constitution concedes to me, I declare that I have voluntarily abdicated in favour of my dearly beloved and esteemed son, Dom Pedro de Alcantara."

Having handed this to the messenger, Pedro burst into tears and retired to his private apartments.

Six days later he sailed from the harbour of Rio in an English man-of-war, leaving Brazil and his child for good.

[Pg 211]



Dom Pedro II. was but five years old when his father abdicated in his favour on April 7, 1831, and, during his minority, the government of the country was entrusted to Regents. In 1840, when he was fifteen years old, it was officially announced that he had attained his majority, and he was crowned in 1841. In 1843 he married Theresa Christine, sister of Ferdinand II. of the Two Sicilies. His sons died in their childhood, and his daughter Isabella became heiress to the crown.

Pedro II. came to the throne at a perilous time. The people were in a state of revolution, while the National Exchequer was practically empty, and the National Bank was bankrupt. With the abdication of Pedro I. the Ministry and official Service had disappeared.

Yet the crowd that had forced the abdication of Pedro I. drew the new boy Sovereign in triumph through the streets of the city, and, placed in a window of the palace, he watched the great multitude throng past, acclaiming him with immense enthusiasm. It was soon seen that, in spite of the national upheaval, the mass of the people were fully alive to the necessity for preserving order and preventing licence. There were riots and disturbances for a time, as was inevitable; but the patriotic, although turbulent, family of the Andradas again came to the front, and suppressed all signs of revolution. Thus the boy Emperor's position was secure.[Pg 212]

Still, with a country nearly bankrupt, stringent measures were necessary to restore prosperity; official independence and peculation had to be suppressed, and the Regents, who succeeded each other with marked rapidity, had to be watched, while it was necessary at the same time to maintain the executive power. These exigences led to strenuous scenes in the Assembly, and the succession of Regents became still more rapid. In this capacity Andrada, Carvalho, Muniz, Feijo, and Lima, succeeded each other, while Ministers and Opposition squabbled and strove together, denouncing each other as the worst of tyrants.

Notwithstanding the confusion, a certain amount of progress was effected. Abuses were remedied, reforms effected, while the national tendency towards Republicanism strengthened the ultra-Liberal party, to whom the old-time Absolutists allied themselves. A reactionary party, desirous of seeing the Emperor recalled, came into being, and between these two was the moderate party, composed of the greater part of the population of the country, and represented politically by the Regency and the majority in the legislative chambers.

There was, however, sufficient strength in the Republican and ultra-Liberal party to accomplish revolt in the provinces of such extent as to call for military action in order to suppress it. Accordingly the provinces became, through the various reforms introduced, self-governing States, and, when the number of Regents had been reduced from three to one, there was little difference between the Constitution of Brazil and that of the United States of America.

The old Emperor, Pedro I., died in Portugal on September 24, 1834, and after that event a strong reaction set in among the Brazilians in favour of the Monarchy. The democratic party asserted that the Emperor's[Pg 213] sister was, on attaining the age of eighteen, fully capable of exercising the duties of Regent. Having once granted this, the natural deduction followed that if a girl was fit to rule at eighteen, a boy was fit to rule sooner. In 1840 the Opposition brought forward a motion to the effect that the Emperor was of age, in spite of the article of the Constitution which declared that the majority of the Sovereign should be the age of eighteen.

By that time the nation was prosperous and at peace, while moderate men were tired of the faction struggles and the tumults caused thereby. Lima, Regent at the time, was extremely unpopular, and, when the debates began in the Assembly, there was a general wish that he should be defeated. The motion of the Opposition was made, and was met by the answer that the Constitution forbade this premature declaration of majority. The Opposition retorted that circumstances warranted the infringement, since in extreme evils the interests of the State required extreme measures.

Such a proposition as this implied that the Regent and Ministry were an extreme evil, and the scene in the Chamber grew animated as the speech grew more and more personal. Antonio Carlos de Andrada, one of the younger men of that great family, as fiery tempered as he was patriotic, led the attack, accusing the Regent and Ministry of usurpation and unconstitutional tyranny, since the Princess had attained the age of eighteen.

Then Galvão, one of the most prominent of the Ministerial party, turned against his own side, and urged the immediate proclamation of the Emperor. Another eminent member of the Assembly, Alvares Machado, declared "that the cause of the Emperor was the cause of the nation, and ought to receive the approbation of every lover of his country." The language of the Opposition grew violent and threatening. Navarro, a Deputy[Pg 214] representing Matto Grosso, denounced Lima and all his acts, finishing his declamation by shouting, "Hurrah for his Imperial Majesty's majority!" The applause from spectators and the Opposition alarmed the Ministerialists, who tried to secure delay in bringing about the change. Limpo de Abreo moved that a committee be appointed to consider the matter at once, and, this being carried, the Opposition consented to an adjourning of the Assembly.

On the next day the Regent prorogued the Assembly until November, and appointed Vasconcellos, a man of great standing and political power, but factious, selfish, and immoral, as Minister of the Empire. These unpopular movements brought about actual revolt in the Assembly, for Antonio Andrada called on the members of the Assembly to follow him to the Senate. The two Houses conferred, and appointed a deputation to the Emperor himself, urging his consent to being immediately proclaimed. The deputation returned, bearing His Majesty's consent, and an order to the Regent to revoke his decrees, pronouncing the Chamber to be again in session. These powerful measures ended the controversy. In 1841 the coronation ceremony was performed, and Pedro II. assumed actual rule over Brazil.

He was in almost every sense an efficient ruler. His personality was viewed with confidence in Europe, and so long as he occupied the throne the very important question of foreign loans presented few difficulties. The influence of the Emperor was especially notable at the conclusion of the Paraguayan War, when the finances of Brazil were in an exhausted condition. Pedro II. was no autocrat; of a gentle and exceptionally unselfish character, he governed in a simple and most painstaking fashion, manifesting his patriotism in every possible direction.[Pg 215]

Exterior events were of little importance during the first years of Pedro's reign. The chief happenings were a certain amount of civil war in the Rio Grande, and the partaking of the Brazilian forces in the battles between Uruguay and Rosas, the tyrant of Argentina, varied with occasional fights with Uruguay itself. In 1842 revolts broke out in the provinces of São Paulo and Minas Geraes, but these, together with similar insurrections in Rio Grande in 1845, and in Pernambuco in 1849, were suppressed. In 1851 Brazil espoused the cause of Urquiza, the Governor of Entre Rios, against that of Rosas, and the aid of the Brazilian troops was largely instrumental in bringing about the fall of the tyrant.

Dom Pedro's administration, moreover, was conducted with tact and good judgment. His presence acted as a check upon the experimental tendencies of the more effervescent of his subjects. He believed in slow and sure progress, and undoubtedly during his reign Brazil responded to the care and thought expended on her. Indeed, the policy of the Emperor was liberal to a degree, and as such very welcome to a populace whose ideas, if not instincts, had grown more or less democratic.

In 1865 the Five Years' War with Paraguay was commenced, a struggle in which, under the tyrant Lopez, the tiny Republic held at bay the armies of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay, to the utter ruin of Paraguay itself, and the virtual destruction of its male population. The struggle terminated with the death of Lopez at the Battle of Cerro Cora in 1870, after exhausting the resources of Brazilian finance. Meanwhile, in 1867, Dom Pedro opened the Amazon to the commerce of all nations, and in 1871 passed a law for the gradual abolition of slavery.

Had Pedro been gifted with a child of a character resembling his own, it is reasonable to suppose that the[Pg 216] Empire would have continued for far longer than was the case. Unfortunately, however, neither his daughter, the Princess Isabel, nor her husband, the Conde d'Eu, had succeeded in winning the sympathies of the Brazilians. Princess Isabel was markedly cold and restrained in manner, and these unfortunate traits appear to have been fully shared by her husband. The latter was somewhat deaf, which added to the apparent reserve of his manner; he was, moreover, credited with the possession of a miserly disposition.

These qualities, when viewed by an impetuous and mercurial people, whose lightning sympathies demanded as rapid a response, inevitably threw their supposed possessors into disfavour. The situation was doubly to be regretted, in that both the Princess and her husband were in reality devoted to Brazil and to the best interests of the Brazilians. It may truly be said that nothing beyond the lack of demonstrative power cost them their throne.

This factor in the general situation appeared at the time to be more than counterbalanced by the great popularity of the Emperor himself. The Republican spirit was growing, it is true, and the progressive State of São Paolo headed the movement. After a while this tendency was shorn of all disguise, and the formation of a Republic was openly advocated; but the universal desire appeared to be that the form of government should not be changed during the lifetime of the popular Emperor, Pedro II. In the meanwhile the commercial and industrial resources of Brazil were rapidly becoming extended, and the wealth of the planters increased steadily.

Dom Pedro on various occasions visited Europe for the purposes of the State, and, in 1886, he started on his third journey to the Old World since the conclusion of the Paraguayan War. At no time in the history of[Pg 217] South America has it been found prudent for the head of a State to leave his country for too long in the hands of a Regent or deputy. In this case the powers of Regent were handed over to Princess Isabel, and this lady lost little time in putting some admirable intentions into effect. This, however, she managed to effect in a manner, as is frequently the case with well-intentioned persons, which wrought no little mischief to her own interests.

Humane and of advanced ideas, Princess Isabel had always regarded the slave trade with abhorrence. The Emperor Pedro himself had approved of the conditions very little more. It is certain, indeed, that he had intended ultimately to do away with this state of affairs by a gradual series of moves, so as to leave the general industrial situation unaffected. Princess Isabel, on the other hand, favoured the idea of an immediate uprooting of the evil.

As it happened, some steps had already been taken which must in the end, of themselves, have done away with slavery; thus, it had been decreed in 1871 that every child of a slave born after that time was free. This was not sufficient for the warm-hearted daughter of the Emperor. In her impatience to free the older generation from their shackles, Princess Isabel determined on a general abolition forthwith. In 1888, notwithstanding the entreaties and warnings of her Ministers, she issued a decree to this effect, by which it is said that 720,000 slaves became emancipated.

At the time remarkably little stir was caused by this upheaval of the industrial status; but there is no doubt that the measure alienated the sympathies of the most important class of all—that of the landowners, who were now quite determined that the Princess and her husband should never come to the throne of Brazil. While all this was occurring, matters had cropped up in Europe[Pg 218] which had caused the Emperor's absence to be prolonged unduly so far as home matters of State were concerned. His health was bad, and his suite were anxious to save him as much as possible from the anxieties of politics. In order that this should be effected, he was persuaded to stay away from his country for a considerable while. At length it became evident that his return was imperative, and in August, 1888, he landed again in Rio, where he was received with genuine enthusiasm. His loved personality, however, could no longer stand between the throne and popular opinion, for, in addition to the discontent aroused by the acts of the Princess, the centralized system of government, and the general prevalence of corruption in the provincial administration, had excited a widespread feeling of discontent, especially in the Assembly and among the Republican party.

In May, 1889, occurred the resignation of the Cabinet which was in power when the Act of Emancipation had been passed. A new Cabinet was formed on June 7, under the Presidency of the Vizconde de Ouro Preto, a statesman much respected by the Emperor. The liberal policy of this new Cabinet was resented by the landowners, and a serious agitation, which now began, shortly after received the support of the army.

General Deodoro da Fonseca and General Floriano Peixoto placed themselves at the head of the military malcontents, and it became clear to the inhabitants of Brazil that a crisis was not far off. On November 14, 1889, some fifteen months after the Emperor had returned to his country, the Imperial residence at Petropolis was surrounded by soldiers, while the palace at Rio was taken possession of by other troops.

The revolution was conducted in the simplest fashion. Beyond the arrest of the Emperor and the wounding of[Pg 219] the Baron de Ladario, the solitary Minister who resisted, nothing happened—nothing, that is to say, of a dramatic nature. Indeed, after the arrest, the chief work of the revolutionists appears to have lain in the obliteration of Imperial badges and the cutting out of similar tokens from their uniforms and flags. The main population of the country appears to have regarded the change with a most complete indifference.

Dom Pedro's personality appears to have retained somewhat of its popularity up to the very last. He was sent to Portugal a few days after the successful revolt, it is true, but it seems that this move was taken rather because it appeared to be the traditional and proper thing to do than from any dread of plotting on the part of the deposed monarch, who was allowed to retain the whole of his property. In fact, in order to show that no personal malice was intended, the new Republic pressed a pension on the deposed monarch, which, however, was refused. Pedro II. quitted the harbour of Rio on November 16, 1889, and with his person the last trace of Iberian Monarchy vanished from South America.

[Pg 220]



After the deportation of their third Monarch, the Brazilians settled down to enjoy the advantages of an ideal and much-exalted Republican Government; but it was not long before they encountered some sharp disillusions. Their first President, General Don Manuel Deodoro de Fonseca, who had been mainly responsible for the expulsion of the Emperor, was installed immediately after Pedro's departure as head of the Brazilian Government. He began by proving that a Republic in the midst of unsettled political circumstances is, from its very nature, almost invariably more autocratic than the ordinary empire.

Fonseca, a character sufficiently striking to merit individual mention, was born at Algoas in Brazil, was educated at the military school in Rio de Janeiro, and received his commission as a Lieutenant of Artillery in 1849. The chief feature of his military career was the prominent part he took in the war with Paraguay in 1868-1870, where he distinguished himself sufficiently to be promoted to the rank of Divisional-General. It was not until 1881 that he became definitely known as an ardent Republican, but from that time onward he continued to be actively associated with the ultra-Liberal and Republican movement, and he was responsible for the organization of the Military Club at Rio de Janeiro,[Pg 221] an institution which had other objects in addition to those implied by its name.

Although Fonseca was a warm personal friend of the Emperor, his activity and very obvious Republican sentiments led to his being appointed Governor of a frontier province in 1887. This measure, of course, was adopted in order to remove him from the capital, where his influence was considered the reverse of helpful to the Imperial cause. In 1889 he returned to Rio de Janeiro, and entered actively into the schemes of the Republican party, more especially in army circles. In the recently established Republican League, moreover, he was the leading spirit in the movement which culminated in the overthrow of the Empire.

On November 21, 1889, the provisional Government conceded to all Brazilians who could read and write universal suffrage, and this was followed by the appointment of a Commission for the providing of a Federal Constitution. Republican measures came quickly. On January 10, 1890, the separation of Church and State was decreed by the provisional Government; and on June 23 of the same year the new Constitution was promulgated.

In February of 1891 General Fonseca was elected first President of the new Republic, for a four years' term. He was set at the head of a Government depending largely on its troops, and these found themselves suddenly possessed of a power which they had not known previously. The new citizens of Brazil writhed uneasily under the restraints and affronts which were now for the first time put upon them; the Press was muzzled, and a tribunal established with the power of summarily trying persons suspected of being guilty of want of respect to the new order of things.

There is no doubt that the first establishment of the[Pg 222] Brazilian Republic was followed by measures of severe repression, not directed against the Royalists—for this party, to all intents and purposes, disappeared from existence as soon as the Emperor had left the shores of Brazil—but against the dissatisfied citizens who were clamouring against the autocratic methods pursued by the Government. Some definite accusations were shortly brought against the President. He was accused of several acts which much exceeded the authority vested in him; he was charged in particular with numerous deeds of tyranny, violence, and corruption.

Following on so many precedents of the kind in South America, Fonseca retaliated by the inauguration of more stringent methods than any which he had hitherto employed. A state of siege was declared in the capital, and Fonseca caused himself to be invested with every right and privilege of a dictator. These methods of terrorism he justified by the pretext of monarchical plots. Very soon, however, General Peixoto became prominent as a rival to the Presidency, and shortly a definite revolt arose in the State of Rio Grande do Sul; while in the far north the State of Pará armed itself in preparation for the struggle against the central power.

The Navy declared itself against the Government. On November 23, 1891, the fleet, commanded by Custodio de Mello, took up its position in front of Rio de Janeiro, and actually fired a shot or two into the town. President Fonseca was now convinced that the powers against him were too strong to be successfully coped with; he resigned his office, and retired into private life, surviving his fall only by a few months, since he died in August of the following year.

Fonseca's fall was due not only to the measures employed in the government of the country, but also to the financial state of Brazil at the time of his election.[Pg 223] Reckless extravagance and unscrupulous handling of the public funds by the various political parties, together with a too liberal use of the printing-press for the purpose of turning out paper money when funds were needed, had caused a condition of affairs which was very near bankruptcy. This condition, moreover, was largely artificial, since Brazil is almost the first among the States of South America in the matter of natural resources and general aptitude for prosperity. Nevertheless, the costly wars carried on under the Monarchy had left a large burden for the Republic to manage, and in spite of the strictest economy, the people of the country found that the inauguration of the Republic did not bring about the establishment of so prosperous a paradise as they had hoped. Naturally, the blame for this fell upon Fonseca, and added itself to the autocratic methods of his government to render him unpopular.

Fonseca was succeeded by the Vice-President, according to the regulations of the Constitution. This was Floriano Peixoto, who at first gave promise of a liberal and progressive government. Very soon, however, it became evident that the abuses of authority encouraged by him were becoming even more violent than those of the previous régime, and that the military despotism was even more accentuated. Any Governor who did not bend without question to the will of the President was instantly deposed, and in this way the Governors of Matto Grosso, Ceará, and Amazones were deprived of their posts. Every official, in fact, who did not show himself disposed to serve the new autocrat with a blind obedience was deprived of whatever office he had held. The discontent grew rapidly, while numerous Ministers resigned, and once again the flames of revolt broke out in Rio Grande do Sul.

On September 6, 1893, Admiral Custodio de Mello,[Pg 224] after various abortive attempts, anchored again in front of the capital, and prepared his cruiser Aquidaban for action. Peixoto, however, determined to defend his position, and prepared himself to face the dozen or more warships which comprised the fleet of the insurgents. On September 12 the first serious fight took place, the town being bombarded heavily by the fleet, to which the guns of the forts responded on behalf of the Government.

The struggle continued in a desultory fashion, and a daily interchange of shots was wont to take place between the naval and military forces. This situation continued for the remainder of the year 1893, and, as time went on, the position of the Government became rather more strengthened, especially when it was reported that some war vessels ordered by Peixoto in Europe were on their way to Brazil.

In the meanwhile, however, the position in the south became far more favourable to the insurgents. The revolutionary forces under Saraiva began a march to the north, when his movement was aided by a portion of the fleet, under Admiral Donello, which had sailed to the south in order to co-operate. Curitiba was captured, and the march up from the south bade fair to be triumphant. This was to a certain extent neutralized by the interference of the United States warships in the harbour of Rio on behalf of some merchant vessels of their nationality threatened by the revolutionary squadron. By this means the rebels lost prestige, and the situation of Admiral da Gama, who had been left in command of the rebel fleet, became serious.

On March 7 the vessels ordered by Peixoto from Europe arrived off Rio, and da Gama, hearing no news from Mello, took refuge, with his officers and men, on some Portuguese men-of-war. The authorities of Rio[Pg 225] demanded that these crews should be given up, but the Portuguese refused to surrender them, and sailed away from the harbour with the insurgents on board, a proceeding which caused a diplomatic rupture between Portugal and Brazil.

A few days after this a misunderstanding occurred between the Government and the Commander of the British vessels, and the Cirius threatened to open fire on the Brazilian vessels. The matter was, however, settled without a shot being expended.

In the meanwhile affairs had not been favouring the revolutionists in the south. Admiral de Mello's silence had been due to a breakdown in the machinery of his ships, and not to any lack of initiative of his own. After some time the Admiral arrived at Curitiba, from which point he journeyed inland to Punto Grosso, where he met General Saraiva. At a council held between the two, a Governor was named for the State of Paraná, and Southern Brazil was declared independent of Peixoto's Government. When the news of Admiral da Gama's surrender came to Curitiba, the unexpected blow tended greatly to the disorganization of the movements of the insurgents, and when a division of 5,000 Government troops marched from São Paulo to Curitiba, it met with no resistance.

While this was occurring, the revolutionist cruiser Republica and three armed transports, having 1,500 men on board, had sailed for the harbour of Rio Grande. The summons to surrender was ignored by the town, and Mello, after bombarding the place, landed a force which in the end was repulsed. After this, despairing of success, Mello sailed to the Argentine port of La Plata, where he surrendered to the Argentine Government, who at once handed his vessels over to Brazil. The Aquidaban, the remaining insurgent warship, was torpedoed a little[Pg 226] later by a Government vessel, and the stricken ship was run ashore and abandoned.

General Saraiva in the south was shot in the course of a skirmish, and the revolution was now finally crushed. The numbers who paid the fullest penalty for their active discontent were very great, and the final embers of the insurrection were extinguished to the tune of wholesale executions.

It was now supposed that General Peixoto would reign unhampered as dictator, and in peaceful circles no small alarm was felt. In 1894, however, the President resigned, and was succeeded by Dr. Prudente de Moraes Barros. Moraes was a stanch upholder of civil and peaceful authority, and although a certain section, both of the army and navy, manifested some discontent, the country progressed rapidly under his administration.

The unrest in the Southern States, nevertheless, although it had been temporarily quelled by force, was not long in reasserting itself. The struggle which occurred here between the Government troops and the revolutionary forces was sanguinary in the extreme. After a desperate action, Admiral da Gama, wounded, committed suicide, and his death practically ended the revolution. Towards the end of 1895 the President, true to his pacific policy, granted a general amnesty in favour of the insurgents, which went far to establish his popularity. In the south, subsequent to a demonstration of local unrest, an attempt to assassinate President Moraes occurred on November 4, 1897, in the course of which the Minister of War was killed, and several other officials wounded. People in general execrated the act, thus demonstrating the President's popularity.

Towards the end of 1898 the Presidential election took place, and Dr. Manuel Campos Salles, whose candidature received the support of Moraes, was elected President.[Pg 227] Dr. Campos Salles proved himself perfectly able to cope with the modern developments of the Republic. Before taking charge of his office he had journeyed to Europe and concluded financial arrangements in London and elsewhere, and subsequently a commercial treaty was ratified between Brazil and Argentina. In 1902 Campos Salles was succeeded in the Presidency by Dr. Rodriguez Alves.

Meanwhile, in 1900, the northern Brazilian frontier, in the direction of French Guiana, had been finally determined by a decision of the Swiss Federal Council. A dispute with Great Britain over the British Guiana frontier was referred to the King of Italy, who rendered his award in June, 1904, allotting about 19,000 square miles to Guiana, and 14,000 square miles to Brazil.

A more important matter was the dispute with Bolivia respecting the Acre territory, on the settlement of which Bolivia gave up all claims to Acre, a district embracing about 73,000 square miles, in return for a surrender of about 850 square miles on the Madeira and Abuna Rivers, 330 square miles on the left bank of the Paraguay River, and a cash sum of 10,000,000 dollars for the purpose of constructing a railway in the borderland of the two countries. Subsequently Peru disputed the claim of Brazil to the Acre territory, and this, no doubt, forms a matter for future arbitrators to settle. The Presidential election raised Dr. Affonso Penna to the head of the State in 1906, since when Brazil has been steadily engaged in strengthening its financial position and in the development of its internal resources.

[Pg 228]



Having followed the course of the Brazilian fortunes from the elevation of the province to a kingdom, from its promotion to an Empire, and from its Imperial status to its modern Republican condition, it is necessary to revert again to the Spanish-speaking territories of the Continent.

It must be admitted that the epoch that immediately followed the war of liberation was one of strife and bitter disillusion. A certain number of the leaders had foreseen the chaotic phase which had necessarily to be undergone before the benefits of independence and enlightenment could be enjoyed. These, however, were restricted to the very small intellectual minority. The great bulk of the population of the late provinces, now nations, had anticipated nothing of the kind. In their eyes the period of transition had been pictured as fleeting and as of no account. It had, indeed, been popularly considered as but a step from a condition of oppression and dependence to that of complete freedom and self-government.

It was not long before the fallacy of all such theories was shattered. Indeed, the very earliest periods of independence were ominously prophetic of what Spanish South America was destined to suffer before it emerged from the chaos of blood and strife, and before its various nations were enabled to stand firmly on their own feet.[Pg 229]

In some respects, but only in some, South America, freed from the Spaniard, resembled the ancient Britain deprived of its Roman rulers and garrison. It is true that the Spanish army had been forced, struggling, from the Continent by means of battle and blood, and that the Roman legions had left the coasts of Britain amid the lamentations of the natives. One thing, however, is quite certain, that neither race was prepared to govern itself. Washington was duplicated in the south by Bolivar and San Martin, but the influence of Bolivar and San Martin died very shortly after the dramatic events in which they took part.

It would be more correct, perhaps, to say that this influence was overlooked for the time being and forgotten, since, those periods of all-absorbing anarchy notwithstanding, the influence of Bolivar and San Martin has manifested itself strongly from time to time during every generation which has succeeded.

That the age of petty and local tyrants should have followed so closely on the skirts of the great national and Continental revolution was inevitable in the circumstances. Spanish South America was Royalist by custom and tradition. Whatever the nations might in the first instance term themselves, their inhabitants were bound by these very traditions and instincts to find some leader whom they could put in the place of the once revered, but never seen, monarch.

Thus the rather curious circumstance arose that South America flung off the Spanish dominion (which during its last decade had grown by comparison with the past considerate and beneficent), in order to replace it by the far more tyrannical Governors of their own creation. It was doubtless the fact that these despots who ruled so unmercifully over the South Americans were men of their own race and country that tended to[Pg 230] reconcile the private citizens to the very real perils and oppressions which they now had to endure. The social upheaval had been such that, although many of these caudillos or despotic chieftains were descended from aristocratic Spanish colonial families, others were mere children of opportunity, whose ancestry and origin could bear no comparison with their feats, dark though these latter may have been.

In the eyes of many European contemporaries, and even in those of a multitude of their own people, the condition of the erstwhile Spanish South American colonists showed no glimmer of hope for a considerable time after the much-desired liberation had actually been obtained. Yet all this time the leaven was working very slowly, but very surely. The fact, indeed, was that, although the acts and circumstances, politically speaking, of the River Plate provinces grew wilder and more desperate, the human substance of the nation was steadily improving and becoming enlightened—a somewhat curious paradox! Even during the tyranny of the most remorseless of the caudillos the enlightenment was working its way among the mass of the people.

The influx of foreigners alone worked an enormous influence in this direction. A country which until the revolution had been governed in a more autocratic fashion than probably any other in the modern history of the world had suddenly opened its doors, and its people stood blinking in the powerful light shining from the European civilization—an outer world, of which the majority of the colonists had had no previous conception.

That many of these should have lost their heads was quite inevitable. A number of intellectuals took France's Jean-Jacques Rousseau and her other contemporary prophets as models, or rather as gods, before whom they[Pg 231] fell down and worshipped. The trend of the nation became strongly and even curiously materialistic. In this respect it must be confessed that Argentina and Uruguay more especially have continued to follow the French school of thought.

This departure in itself was enough to cause a profound disturbance in the breasts of the majority of those in themselves neither leaders nor intellectuals, but plain men imbued with the very true, if intensely narrow, devotion and piety of the old-fashioned Spaniard. The force of the convulsion was doubled from the mere fact of its astonishing suddenness, and the religious and political earthquake, once started, went rumbling and roaring ceaselessly the length of the startled Continent.

Speaking quite frankly, there seems very little doubt that in the two countries mentioned the influence of religion died in the birth struggles of the Republics. In the course of the innumerable civil wars which tortured these lands for half a century and more afterwards, religious emblems were from time to time employed, and priests were occasionally attached to one faction or the other; but the records of these latter are such as to show that they had entirely lost to sight their sacred calling, and a number, such as Felix Aldao, became politicians and leaders of these bands, and executed and drank with the wildest of their men. On a few occasions a religious pretext was actually seized upon by one or two caudillos, who in the most barefaced fashion endeavoured to make this cloak serve their ends.

A notable instance of this was afforded by the famous Argentine chieftain Quiroga. This worthy was altogether one of the wildest of his kind. Indeed, at one period he stood self-confessed as a land pirate by the ensign which he adopted—a black flag, with a skull and cross-bones. On one occasion, however, when a religious[Pg 232] dispute had broken out among his more intellectual neighbours, Quiroga determined to intervene on behalf of religion. So, when he next made his appearance at the head of his cavalry, not a little amazement was mingled with the dread with which the spectators were wont to regard his grim personality. For the skull and cross-bones had disappeared from the chieftain's banner, and in their place floated the words, "Religion or death." It was evident that Quiroga was determined that whatever he took up should be seriously undertaken!

On several occasions Rome endeavoured to intervene, but on each occasion was met with rebuff. Leaders, such as Francia of Paraguay, appointed their own clergy, and, quite regardless of any outside authority whatever, made or unmade priests, and, in fact, dealt in sacred things to their hearts' content. Francia retained his Bishop in a capacity which was little more than that of a body-servant. This Bishop he had himself promoted from the most ignorant country priest of a most ignorant country.

Probably no other portion of the history of the modern world shows such unbridled licence as was exercised in almost every Republic of the Continent during the first half of its freedom.

Perhaps one of the most curious phenomena of the post-revolutionary era of South America was the rapidity with which the majority of the original leaders disappeared from the stage of public life. San Martin had voluntarily forsaken the scene of his triumphs. In one sense he was fortunate, since the fierce rivalry which arose at the conclusion of the War of Independence left his colleagues little chance of making their congé with a similar amount of dignity.

Bolivar died impoverished and exiled, one of the most sublime and tragic figures of the revolution. O'Higgins,[Pg 233] it is true, divested himself of his insignia of office by a spontaneous act. This, however, only came about when the opposing parties had stretched forth their hands to clutch at each other's throats. In the majority of cases the ending of the careers of these early patriots was equally abrupt.

Nothing of this, however, was foreseen when the age of liberty first dawned; then the men who had organized the campaign and who had won the battles were still heroes in the eyes of the people. Bolivar was frenziedly acclaimed as the deliverer of Peru, an honour which, in the absence of San Martin, none could dispute with him. Although it was obvious that the circumstances about him were changing, and that the once high ideals of many were becoming affected by sordid considerations, Bolivar's exaltation of spirit seems to have continued unimpaired. That he had become sterner and more imperious there is no doubt.

Many anecdotes are told of him at this period, one of which shows him in a light rather uncommon in South America, where gallantry towards ladies is apt to be carried to the extreme. It is said that at a ball a lady insisted on singing his praises with an admiration that was positively fulsome. Bolivar, according to the story, reproved her by these words: "Madam, I had previously been informed of your character, and now I perceive it myself. Believe me, a servile spirit recommends itself to no one, and in a lady is highly to be despised." No doubt the reproof was well earned, but at the same time the language reveals a gruffness which scarcely tallies with Bolivar's usual conduct.

Another anecdote will suffice to show the various situations with which the Liberator had to contend. At a public dinner given to Bolivar at Bogotá a fervent admirer of his uttered an incautious toast: "Should at[Pg 234] any time a Monarchical Government be established in Colombia, may the Liberator, Simon Bolivar, be the Emperor!" A stern patriot, Señor Paris, then filled his glass and exclaimed: "Should Bolivar at any future period allow himself to be declared Emperor, may his blood flow from his heart in the same manner as the wine now does from my glass!" With these words he poured the wine from his glass upon the floor.

Bolivar, far from being offended, sprang up and, approaching Señor Paris, embraced him, exclaiming: "If such feelings as those declared by this honourable man shall always animate the breasts of the sons of Colombia, her liberty and independence can never be in danger."

The story is pretty enough, and doubtless it occurred much in the way related at the moment; but it must not be forgotten that convictions on the part of public men must frequently wait on policy, since it is well known that Bolivar's own views for the independence of South America ran rather in the direction of Empires than Republics.

Simon Bolivar, indeed, worked on large and Imperialistic lines. As has been said, he dreamed of a single State of Spanish South America, of a great community with a single heart. It is not surprising that he found opponents to this scheme, the chief of these being Chile and Buenos Aires. Even in his own country these stupendous plans of his, though they were conceived in a disinterested and loyal spirit, led to troubled and harassing times. Thus revolutions against his authority broke out in Venezuela, and even in parts of Colombia itself. International complications followed. In 1827, Peru declared war against Colombia, alleging that Bolivar was attempting to place her in a state of vassalage to Colombia.[Pg 235]

Discord was now arising on every side. Bolivar saw the majestic turrets of his castle of state fall with a crash to the ground almost ere they had had time to rear themselves against the darkening horizon. The tragedy was too much even for his enthusiastic spirit. Broken and spent, he retired to Santa Marta in New Granada, where his grief brought him to a death in solitude in 1830. Thus his fate supplied yet another link between his career and that of San Martin, whose death in Boulogne on the French coast, when it occurred, scarcely occasioned a passing notice.

In Chile, as has been said, the career of the famous Bernardo O'Higgins, although shorn of so many of the tragic elements that attended that of Bolivar, had ended with almost equal abruptness. It is true that the great Chilean for his part had the satisfaction of performing one of the greatest acts of his life at the close of his official existence. When, faced by the deputation of those who were in revolt against his authority, he stepped forward to confront them, and, with deliberation and calmness, tore from his person his insignia of office, he knew that his deed had been echoed through the whole length of Chile, and that it had caused a shock of astonishment and sympathy in the breasts of even those most strenuously opposed to his policy. In other respects the results were much the same as in the case of Bolivar. The great O'Higgins had retired from the eye of the nation and from the scene of his struggles and self-sacrifice.

In Argentina the tale was similar, notwithstanding the enlightened and progressive influence of intellectual men, such as Belgrano, Rivadavia, and numerous others. The tide of civil strife burst out, and its mad eddies swept away many of those who had proved themselves heroes in the cause of independence. The severing of[Pg 236] ties and of friendship was necessarily abrupt, and occasionally claimed a victim. Among these was Liniers, who in the last days of the Spanish régime had gathered together a local force on the River Plate, and had dislodged the British forces from Buenos Aires. This, however, did not prevent his execution by the patriots soon after the outbreak of the war.

To enter into the details of individual cases is impossible here, since volumes could be written on every separate decade, and on a score and more of the personalities of this particular epoch in Argentina alone. Paraguay stood out as an exception to the rest. In that State the reins of power fell into the hands of Dr. Francia, a merciless autocrat, who suffered nothing whatever to be disturbed within the frontiers of his country, and who now ruled with a ferocious tyranny, such as had scarcely been approached even in the darkest days of the early colonial age. After that Paraguay was destined to undergo its baptism of fire as well as the rest; the process seemed inevitable. In Paraguay it had not been avoided; it had merely been postponed.

[Pg 237]



With the end of the Spanish power the centres of importance—hitherto quite arbitrarily and artificially chosen—tended to drift to their natural situations. From time to time it is true that the balance continued to be disturbed by political considerations, but in the main the true order of progress was permitted to proceed unchecked. Thus the importance of Peru fell to its intrinsic and industrial level, and the States of the north, artificially buoyed up for generations as these had been by the Spaniards, now assumed a secondary place in the affairs of the Continent.

Each State, in fact, had now to rely upon its own population and resources alone. Of the number there were few enough who were not generously provided with the latter; it was in the former asset that so many were found acutely wanting, of course through no fault of their own. Thus it was that when the new division of territories took place, many of those countries which Nature had provided with an almost extraordinary degree of wealth found themselves in a state of poverty through the mere want of labour which might develop these resources. In some cases this disadvantage has been overcome to a greater or lesser extent; in others the situation continues practically unaltered to the present day.

In the north, as has been said, the era of chaos was not[Pg 238] long in asserting itself. New Granada had been divided into three Republics, those of Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador; while the new State of Bolivia had been set up between the frontiers of Paraguay and Peru. General Sucre, one of the chief military heroes of the war of liberation in the north, was, appropriately enough, made the first President of this new Republic of Bolivia. At the start unease and fretfulness marked the relations of each of the new States with the others. It seemed almost as if the Continent had become so imbued with warlike ideas that it had forgotten how to lay down the sword.

There was, moreover, lamentably small inducement to a life of peaceful labour. The industrial situation of the north was as gloomy as elsewhere in the Continent. The labouring classes found that their condition, instead of becoming bettered by the revolution, had suffered to no small degree. It was not surprising, indeed, that at the time these unfortunate folk could discern no benefit, but only added curses from this state of liberation of which they had heard so much, and of which they were now in the so-called enjoyment. Very great numbers of the men had been killed in the course of the war, and their wives and children were left behind in a condition of misery and starvation.

Curiously enough, too, although the goods which now entered these countries from abroad had, owing to the intelligent methods of the new Governments, become so reduced in price that in ordinary circumstances they should have been within the range of all, the peasant could no longer afford to pay even for these cheap luxuries. The rich Spaniards, the employers of labour, were now no longer on the spot to give out work and to pay wages. In the industrial confusion the peasant only on the rarest occasions found anyone capable of[Pg 239] occupying his labour. He was thus reduced to attempt the formation of a self-contained establishment of his own, a matter which, in the majority of cases, was sufficiently difficult. Nevertheless, the peasant contrived to support himself on the maize and vegetables which he grew in the neighbourhood of his hut and by the pigs which he reared. He knew well enough, nevertheless, that, although he might expect to maintain a precarious existence by this means, he could anticipate nothing whatever beyond.

It was many years before the financial benefits of the rebellion filtered through to these humble classes. The greater part of the peasants, being fond of show and amusement, were Royalist at heart, and were more adapted for a Monarchy than for a Republic. As is usually the case with folk of a peaceful and tractable disposition, they were not consulted in the matter at all. They had groaned on occasion under the Monarchy, and on the first establishment of the Republic they continued to groan from an even greater cause.

The matter was very different with the superior classes of colonists. The cause for which they had fought was of vital importance to them, and by the change from the status of a colony to that of a Republic they had gained everything. Before, they had been mere colonials, slighted by the Spaniards on every possible occasion, and permitted no say in public affairs; now they had leaped at a bound to their proper place, and were at the head of their new State. With pardonable eagerness they plunged into the campaign of speculation which was now open to them, and many of their number rapidly grew rich. Thus after a time they became employers of labour on a large scale, incidentally solving the labour question of the peasantry of the country.

Among brand-new States who have yet to prove[Pg 240] their worth and importance the intervention of mutual jealousies may safely be counted on. In South America the appearance of these disturbing factors was not long delayed.

It was not three years after the last Spanish troops had been driven from South America that war broke out between the Republics of Bolivia and Peru. Sucre proved himself as able a leader as ever, and was as successful against his fellow-Republicans as he had been against the Royalist forces. The Peruvians were utterly defeated. As a consequence, the President, Lamar, was banished from his country, and a new official, Gamarra, was elected as provisional President.

The first war, however, did not succeed in clearing the battle-laden air, and for some while Peru was destined to suffer considerably at the hands of its neighbours. Very shortly after the conclusion of the first war a second broke out between Bolivia and Peru. The day of Sucre was then at an end, and the President of Bolivia was Andreas Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz was a powerful Chief-of-State, a born leader of men, who managed to hold his somewhat wild adherents in check.

Since no man of any other temperament could have succeeded in retaining his post in this age of turmoil and unrest, Santa Cruz proved himself a despot, but in many respects a benevolent despot, who showed an interest in genuine progress. Realizing, for instance, the serious disadvantage under which his country laboured on account of its lack of an adequate population, he devoted much of his thought and time to the amendment of this state of affairs, which he was inclined to alter somewhat arbitrarily. He urged, for instance, the taxing of celibates and their exclusion from the magistracy in order that their want of patriotism might be singled out and punished. Whatever might have[Pg 241] been the result of measures such as these, the Bolivians proved themselves sufficiently numerous to defeat the Peruvians once again. Peru was invaded, and Santa Cruz entered Lima as its protector.

A few years later—in 1837—Peru fell into a dispute with Chile on account of the Guano provinces of Atacama and Tarapaca. Peru was again invaded, but eventually the Chileans abandoned the country and returned to their own.

After this, no little confusion prevailed in the internal affairs of Peru. Various leaders came, fought, and went, until civil war was followed by a conflict with Bolivia, in the course of which Gamarra, the Peruvian President, was killed, and the Peruvian forces were totally defeated in 1841. In 1845 there seemed a prospect of improvement in the affairs of the Republic, when Ramon Castilla was elected President. Castilla was a man of strong and progressive views, and commerce began to flourish under his guidance. He was followed by President Echenique, but returned to public life, and succeeded the latter as President after a lapse of ten years, in the course of which considerable official corruption had been shown.

In 1864 occurred the first collision with Spain since the conclusion of the war of liberation. In that year Spain sent out Admiral Pinzon to the Pacific coast in command of three war vessels. The objects of the expedition were avowedly scientific, but it met with a suspicious reception from the first on the Pacific coast. The conduct of Admiral Pinzon decidedly did not tend to allay any anxiety on the part of the Republicans. Both Peru and Chile felt that their independence was endangered, and prepared to resist.

On April 14, 1864, the Spanish vessels gave the signal for war by seizing the Chincha Islands. Hostilities, how[Pg 242]ever, were staved off for a while by the action of the Spanish authorities, who stated that Admiral Pinzon had exceeded his instructions. In the meanwhile the capture of one of his smaller vessels by the Chileans had so preyed upon the Admiral's mind that he committed suicide. He was succeeded in his command by Admiral Pareja.

At the beginning of 1866 war with Spain was officially declared. The Spanish fleet had now been strongly reinforced, and some naval engagements took place between the Spaniards and the allied Peruvians and Chileans, in the course of which the Spanish squadron was repulsed. On April 25 the Spanish vessels, having already attacked Valparaiso, appeared before Callao, and a week later they began vigorously to bombard the town, which returned the fire. In this engagement both land and sea forces suffered considerably. After this the Spanish fleet sailed back to Europe, and the war came to an end. Peace, however, was not declared for two years afterwards.

General Prado now became President of Peru, and proved himself an able statesman. Nevertheless, the political disturbances continued, and after a while the rival parties became too strong to permit him to remain in office, and, resigning, he took refuge in Chile. The period which follows is one of great unrest. At the same time, notwithstanding the political disturbances, the commercial and industrial status of Peru was advancing rapidly. The next President who was destined to remain for some while in his seat was Manuel Pardo. He was elected in 1872, and although various revolutions occurred during the tenure of his office, these were successfully crushed by his authority. Indeed, he actually completed his term of office—an exceedingly rare occurrence for a President just at that period. Pardo was suc[Pg 243]ceeded by General Prado, who had returned from Chile for the purpose of the election, and proved the popular candidate.

So complicated were the internal affairs of the nations at this time that it would be impossible to follow them adequately without devoting various chapters to this purpose alone. One of the blackest events of the period was the assassination of the ex-President Prado, who had proved himself a high-minded and efficient leader. This, as a matter of fact, was the act of a dissatisfied non-commissioned officer, and not of any political party.

During Prado's Presidency war broke out between Chile and Peru over the question of the nitrate fields, which were claimed by both countries. Prado being both the President and General-in-Chief, took command of the Peruvian army. Although a man of personal courage, he appears to have been utterly hopeless of victory from the start; and in December, 1879, when various disasters had overtaken the Peruvian arms, he abandoned the country, and, taking ship at Callao, sailed for Europe.

The resistance to Chile was continued by Nicolas de Pierola, who, rising in armed rebellion against the constituted authority of Peru, caused himself to be declared President. His efforts, however, did not succeed in stemming the Chilean advance, and the end of the war saw Peru deprived of the nitrate provinces which she had claimed. Bolivia, who had been associated with her as her ally in the struggle, was now reduced to the position of an inland State, her strip of coast-line having been taken away by the victorious Chileans.

The history of Peru following on the disastrous war with Chile is one of internal strife, when a host of would-be leaders, each with a following of greater or lesser importance, came into conflict and prevented any settled[Pg 244] political action. In 1886 President Andreas Caceres came into power, and, seeing that the populace of the Republic was now exhausted by the continuous state of conflict, he was permitted to rule unchecked until 1890. Caceres established a species of military dictatorship, and remained the power behind the throne until 1894, when, the acting President having died, he found it necessary to come to the front again, and after some confusion and fighting he was proclaimed President for the second time.

In 1895 a revolution occurred, headed by the same Pierola who had distinguished himself in the war against Chile. After some severe fighting the party of Caceres was defeated, and Pierola, declared President, began to govern in a constitutional fashion. His advent to power marked the end of the political turbulence which had been so prominent a feature of Peruvian history during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Although the revolutionary movement continued, it had lost its fierce and almost continuous character. Since that period it has become merely intermittent, and thus of secondary consideration; for, following the example of the neighbouring and progressive Republics of South America, the political strife in Peru has, to a large extent, given way to the practical considerations of industrial and commercial progress.

[Pg 245]



We have seen how Paraguay, having in the early days of the war of liberation compelled the retirement of the Argentine army commanded by General Belgrano, was left to its own resources. It is said by some that Belgrano, during the intercourse he maintained with the Paraguayans subsequent to the defeat of his force and previous to his definite retreat, contrived to inculcate some ideas of independence into the heads of the officials of the inland province. These seeds of liberty may or may not have borne fruit, but in any case it is certain that public opinion in Paraguay rapidly veered round in favour of independence, and as early as 1811 the Spanish Government was replaced by a Junta, which consisted of a President, two Assessors, and a Secretary. The person appointed to the latter office was Don José Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia, whose name was destined to become dreaded throughout the length of the Republic which was now to establish itself.

It was not long before the strong personality of Francia dominated the Junta. The history of Paraguay at this period differs widely from those of the more progressive nations surrounding it. In Paraguay a certain opera bouffe element, together with a series of grimly farcical incidents, continually mingled themselves with some of the darkest tragedies that have been known in any age. From the very start something of the kind had become[Pg 246] evident. The members of the Junta, for instance, finding their own means insufficient to support the pomp and state which was suddenly thrust upon them, and which they had grown to love, began to adopt some extraordinary measures in order to maintain their position. Any portable national assets were sold without the least compunction for this purpose, and they even went to the length of compelling State prisoners to purchase their liberty—an idea which undoubtedly ranks as one of the most extraordinary schemes for raising money ever employed. Measures such as this constituted a sufficiently ominous beginning; they provided, indeed, an only too true augury of what was to come and from what species of wrongs the unfortunate country was doomed to suffer for generations.

In justice to Francia himself it must be said that he took no part in these first minor acts of oppression. His grim and proud nature cared but little for mere matters of pomp and ceremony. Money and possessions, curiously enough, affected him little. Messrs. Rengger and Longchamps vouch for it that, having once discovered that he was the possessor of 800 piastres, he thought this sum a great deal too much for a single person, and he spent it. A remedy such as this seems simple enough for an unusual complaint!

By the year 1813 all but the most powerful elements of the Junta had been weeded out. The power was now confined to the two remaining members—Dr. Francia and his colleague, Fulgencio Yegros. These were now endowed with the titles of Consul. Two curule chairs were specially manufactured for them. These classical seats were covered with leather. On one was the name of Cæsar, on the other that of Pompey. It is possible that Francia had some faint smattering of Latin and of Roman history; at all events, he is said to have pounced on the[Pg 247] first and eagerly to have taken possession of it. The two Consuls began their reign by employing a vast amount of ceremony and form in order to accomplish a few quite arbitrary acts. The majority of these were directed against the Spaniards, who, suffering now from the swing of the pendulum of fate, were as much oppressed as they had formerly oppressed. Indeed, the situation of those Spaniards who still remained in Paraguay was now pitiable in the extreme. Persecuted on all sides by the high officials, they could expect, in the face of an example such as this, scant consideration from the populace.

In the year 1814 Francia determined that the time had come when he could dispense with the services of his colleague, Yegros. By means of a coup d'état he packed the Congress, and succeeded in intimidating his adversaries. As a result, he was named Dictator of Paraguay for a period of three years, notwithstanding a counter-move on the part of the military followers of Yegros. This was calmed by Yegros himself. In a moment of considerable generosity this latter pacified the officers and the troops, and thus left the way clear for Dr. Francia.

At this period the new Dictator again gave evidence of his curiously complex character. Congress, anxious to please the new ruler, whose power of domination had already become so evident, had allotted to His Excellency the Dictator an annual allowance of 9,000 piastres. Francia definitely refused to accept more than one-third of this, and, moreover, continued firm in his refusal, alleging that the State was far more in need of money than he. On paper, never was the start of a Chief-of-State's career more fraught with promise than that of Francia's. He had given evidence of despotism, but also of an earnest spirit. No sooner had the reins of absolute power fallen to his lot than he altered entirely the mode of his life. From a comparative libertine he became a[Pg 248] man of austere habits, displaying a most extraordinary industry in his attention to the matters of State. His manner, moreover, was affable to poor and rich alike, and the claims of the humblest met with a courteous consideration rare in any State at any time, but doubly amazing in a period of chaos such as was reigning throughout the Continent at the time.

In 1817 his period of Dictatorship expired. It was then that Francia made his supreme effort. Intrigues, persuasions, and veiled threats strengthened the position which his cautious and cleverly conceived conduct had created for him. Numbers of his creatures now came forward with suggestions. Congress fell into the trap, and Francia was appointed Dictator of Paraguay for life. This was the moment for which Francia had waited so patiently and so long. With the last obstacle to his full power now removed, the change in the Dictator's conduct was as complete as it was sudden. Had he sat at the right hand of Nero his refinements of tyranny could not have been more successful. In a very short while his methods had terrorized Asuncion.

When Dr. Francia and his hussar escort rode abroad, the streets through which the cavalcade passed resembled a desert, for anyone who had the misfortune to find himself anywhere near the line of route was set upon and beaten with the flat of their swords by the hussars for the mere fact of daring to be in the neighbourhood of the Dictator in a public place. At the outset there were some who protested. The fate of every one of these was, at the lightest, to be flung into dungeons and loaded with massive and torturing chains.

Following the inevitable progress of tyranny, as time went on Francia's vigilance and cruelty increased, while as the discontent of the populace became evident his suspicions grew more and more on the alert. Conceiving[Pg 249] the possibility of an assassin lurking behind one of the orange-trees with which the streets of the capital were so liberally and beautifully planted, Francia cut them down, and it is said that when his horse once shied at the sight of a barrel before a door, the owner of the cask was made to suffer severely on account of the nerves of the Dictator's steed!

Paraguay gradually became more and more a hermit State under the rule of this despot. It was difficult in the extreme to enter the country, but, having once passed its frontiers, it was harder still to return. Forts were established along the borders, and the rivers were strictly policed. A strict watch was kept on all travellers, and none might move from spot to spot without being in possession of a passport especially granted by the Dictator. Some there were who attempted to make their way from the now dreaded country through the vast swamps of the Chaco, but death at the hands of the Indians or the teeth of the wild beasts was the usual result.

It was inevitable that stagnation of commerce should have ensued, but the traders by this time no longer dared to complain openly. Francia himself, so long as he had the State to govern, cared little whether its people were rich or poor. As for the unfortunate Spaniards in Paraguay, the enactments against them became more and more severe. As evidence of his supreme contempt for these Europeans, Francia issued a decree by which they were forbidden to intermarry with a white woman. This extraordinary measure shows the length to which this strange man carried his tyranny, and how deeply was the hatred of the Spaniard implanted in his queer and grim mind.

It is impossible, however, to go fully into the details of Francia's autocratic reign, incredible as many of these[Pg 250] are. The destruction of the Church, the secularization of the monks, wholesale executions and torturings, the suppression of the Post Office, and a hundred other acts of irresponsible and childish tyranny—these are only some of the episodes which characterized the days of his rule.

During all this while the power of the army grew until militarism became rampant—militarism, that is to say, instigated by Francia, since no officer or man of his troops dared move hand or finger unless commanded by the Dictator himself. His title was now "Supremo Dictator Perpetuo de la Republica del Paraguay" (Supreme and Perpetual Dictator of the Republic of Paraguay).

This he retained until the day of his death, no man daring to dispute for a single instant his perfect right to the title. Grim and implacable, he continued his career unchallenged to the last. Considering the circumstances, his vitality remained unimpaired for a strangely long period, for Francia died at the advanced age of eighty years, after a virtual reign of nearly thirty years.

Francia was succeeded by Carlos Antonio Lopez, who showed himself, by comparison, a liberal-minded and progressive ruler. During his reign few events of real importance occurred, although the trading facilities permitted by the new Dictator were responsible for the increasing intercourse between Paraguay and the outer world. On the death of Carlos Antonio Lopez the chief office of the State of Paraguay was occupied by his eldest son, Francisco Solano Lopez.

Francisco Solano had seen more of the outer world than was usual in the case of the Paraguayan of that period. He had resided in Paris, where he had carried out a diplomatic mission, and where his intelligence had won golden opinions from all those who came into contact with him. Indeed, the impression he had produced on all sides was[Pg 251] favourable in the extreme, and great things were expected as the outcome of his government in Paraguay.

On the death of his father Lopez showed no small sense of initiative, for the only office to which he could assume any shadow of a right to claim at the moment was that of Vice-President. Acting in this capacity, he obtained immediate control of the army, summoned a meeting of the Deputies, and told them it was their task to elect a new President. Seeing that the building was surrounded by troops in the pay of Lopez, the great majority took the hint. Two only of their number did not acclaim Francisco Solano as the new autocrat of Paraguay, and as these two disappeared on the following night, and were never seen again, the unwisdom of opposition was strongly inculcated from the start. The Dictator's full title was "Jefe Supremo y General de los Exercitos de la Republica del Paraguay"; his familiar title, and the one he most encouraged, was "Supremo."

With the power once in his hands, Francisco Solano Lopez changed his tactics as completely and as abruptly as had Francia in his day. Tyranny once more became the accepted order of things. Lopez had brought with him from France his mistress, Madame Lynch, a Parisian of Irish descent, and it was this latter alone who possessed the slightest influence over the new autocrat. Indeed, once firmly established on his throne—for his Dictator's seat was in reality nothing less—Lopez II. showed a most callous disregard for the lives of any of his subjects, whether great or small. Ever since his visit to France Napoleon had constituted his ideal of manhood, and it was upon the conduct of the great Corsican that he loved to think he modelled his own.

Certainly Lopez was utterly free from any dread of holocaust. In a very short while the prisons had been filled to overflowing, and the red soil of Paraguay grew[Pg 252] redder with the blood of hundreds of executions. Once again the barriers began to be set up between Paraguay and the outer world, and once again it became almost impossible for one who had crossed its frontiers to return to his native land. But, since it was the fate of Lopez to have lived in a later age than Francia, the ambitions of this third Dictator were correspondingly enlarged. It was not his design ultimately to shut off Paraguay from the rest of the Continent; it was his plan rather to cause the frontiers of his country to spread until they had enveloped all the other lands. Thus he considered he was acting in conformity with the true Napoleonic tradition, and also, incidentally, with his own desires and dreams.

In order to be prepared for the great day which was to come to Paraguay, the army was increased, trained, and drilled until it became one of the most important and efficient military organizations in the Continent. This army was completely and entirely the toy of Lopez. The men were his to be shot or promoted at his slightest whim, and the officers were subjected to precisely the same irresponsible but merciless discipline.

Even at this period in no other country of South America, perhaps, would such a state of affairs have continued. Paraguay, however, as has been explained, differed in its ethics from any of the neighbouring States. The population was largely composed of civilized Guaraní Indians, and the section of this great family in these latitudes had from the earliest days of the Continent been noted for its easy-going and somewhat indolent qualities.

The result of the intercourse between the Spaniards and Indians had produced a small minority of mestizos, whose enterprise scarcely exceeded that of the natives. The soft and enervating climate was, of course, largely[Pg 253] responsible for this; indeed, it was inevitable that a beautiful and lotus-eating land of the kind should have produced inhabitants to match. A few only of the Paraguayans had had the advantage of travelling in Europe, and on their return to their native land its atmosphere very seldom permitted them to remain for long without the local and somewhat demoralizing influences.

Had Lopez been content to continue to act as supreme and all-powerful lord of every man and thing within his own frontiers, the affairs of Paraguay, enlivened at intervals by those salutary orgies of executions, might have drowsed on indefinitely. For a man of the temperament of Francisco Solano Lopez such comparative repression was impossible. He had dreamed himself Emperor of South America, and this he was determined to be.

Of all the neighbouring countries, Brazil was the first to be alarmed. She had the most reason, since her frontiers ran to the greatest length side by side with those of the land which held the ambitious Dictator. Ere Francisco Solano Lopez had reigned two years the inevitable had occurred. Arrogance and threats of aggression on the part of the inland State, resentment and profound mistrust on the part of the Brazilian Empire, led to open breach. The pretext lay in the joint interference on the part of Brazil and Paraguay in the internal affairs of Uruguay, which troubled Republic was just then in a more than usually violent state of revolution.

Lopez, in a moment of somewhat artificial exaltation, protested solemnly against the Brazilian policy as directed against Uruguay. Since this protest was ignored, Lopez resolved on war. He commenced hostilities by the capture of the Marques de Olinda, a Brazilian steamer which conveniently found itself at the moment at Asuncion, on its way up the great river system to the Imperial territory of Matto Grosso.[Pg 254]

The crew and the passengers of the Marques de Olinda were taken ashore as prisoners. These included the Brazilian Governor of Matto Grosso, who, together with the great majority of his fellow-passengers, was destined never to see his native land again. This decisive act lit up the flames of war, and the most important struggle between the races of its own soil which the Continent had ever seen now commenced; for in the end, not only were Brazil and Paraguay involved, but the neighbouring States of Argentina and Uruguay as well.

[Pg 255]



Although four States were involved in the struggle, South American historians are unanimous in giving the strife which broke out in 1864 the name of the Paraguayan War. This is appropriate enough, for a number of reasons, one of them being that, after the first invading expedition on the part of the Paraguayan armies, the war was fought out on Paraguayan soil.

The capture by the Paraguayans of the Brazilian steamer Marques de Olinda demonstrated to South America that the moment of contest had arrived. The position of the neighbouring States was far less satisfactory from a military point of view than that of Paraguay. During the two years of his reign Lopez had steadily continued to prepare his forces for this event. At the time the Paraguayan army was, numerically, the most formidable in South America. It had, moreover, been brought to an unusual degree of efficiency.

The condition of the Brazilian forces was very different. In the first place, little heed had been taken to make ready for anything of the kind, and another factor which proved greatly to the disadvantage of the fighting material involved lay in the difficulty of communication between Rio de Janeiro and those portions of the great Empire which bordered on Paraguay. Thus Lopez's invading army, when it swept through the Brazilian province of Matto Grosso, met with practically no resistance worthy[Pg 256] of the name, and, in the absence of defending troops, it might, undoubtedly, have taken possession of vast tracts of country, and have continued to hold these indefinitely.

It was Lopez's bizarre and wild ambition which frustrated his own schemes. A single tide of invasion was not sufficient to satisfy a mind such as his. Gathering together a second powerful army, he determined to strike at the south-eastern portion of Brazil in addition to its province of Matto Grosso. In order to effect this he demanded in arrogant tones from Argentina permission for his troops to cross the Argentine province of Corrientes. To this, as neutrals, it was impossible for the Argentines to consent. As a result, Lopez in a fury declared war upon Argentina, and, as though even this did not suffice, he next found himself at grips with the Uruguayan forces.

Thus Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay were now leagued together against the armies of the despot Lopez. With a view of alienating the sympathies of the oppressed subjects of the Dictator from their tyrannical leader, the allies caused it to be widely proclaimed that the war they were waging was not directed against the Paraguayan people in general. It was against Lopez alone that they were fighting, they asserted. The claim was true enough, since this was in reality the position of affairs. Nevertheless, owing to the methods of Lopez, the proclamation carried far less weight than had been anticipated.

The Paraguayan forces now penetrated into the Argentine province of Corrientes, seized the capital, Corrientes itself, and took possession of a couple of steamers—the Gualeguay and the 25 de Mayo—which were anchored in the river opposite to that town. The Paraguayan fleet now held command of the river system up-stream of Corrientes. On June 11, 1865, the allied naval forces, steaming up the Paraná, came into contact with the[Pg 257] hostile fleet. A battle was fought, which ended in the defeat of the Paraguayan squadron, which was forced to retreat, crippled and damaged, to the north.

A succession of actions now took place on land, and the Paraguayans, although fighting with a desperate heroism, were gradually beaten back and driven across their own frontiers. At the same time, the army which had invaded Brazil retired in sympathy, and the scene of the war changed to Paraguay itself, which was in its turn invaded by the forces of the triple alliance. One of the most sanguinary battles of the war was fought on May 24, 1866—very nearly a year after the first naval action off the river port of Corrientes.

At this Battle of Tuyuti the Paraguayans lost no fewer than 8,000 men, and the casualties of the allies amounted to an equal number. Another important action was fought at Curupaiti two months later, when the progress of the allies was abruptly checked, and they were compelled to retire to some distance with a loss of 9,000 men. This was only one of a fair number of Paraguayan victories, for the defenders, although in the main they preserved an attitude of strenuous resistance, were occasionally enabled to exchange this for active aggression.

The history of this war, which lasted for four years, is one of the most remarkable in the whole category of struggles of the kind. Undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary features to be met with is the tremendous courage and grim determination with which the Paraguayans opposed the forces of the allies. Every yard of the country was contested with a fierceness which left the entire countryside covered with dead and wounded. When, moreover, the modern arms in the possession of which the Paraguayan armies had commenced the war had become lost and depleted in numbers, their place was taken by improvised weapons of all kinds, and it was[Pg 258] frequently with the crudest firearms and lances that these devoted armies continued to fight.

The encouragement these troops received from their leaders—or, rather, from Lopez—was in one sense of a negative order. Rewards for valour were unknown, but punishments for defaults, on the other hand, whether real or imaginary, were abundant and terribly severe. Men were shot for having in the course of private conversation uttered words which the suspicious mind of Lopez classed as discouraging. Thus a trooper was on one occasion executed for having ventured the remark that, although the Paraguayans rejoiced over the numbers of their enemies who were slain, they invariably forgot to count their own dead. A second soldier met with a similar fate for having, on his return from a reconnaissance, stated that the enemy lay in great strength to the front. Lopez conceived that a report such as this could serve no good end, and ordered its maker to be executed forthwith.

It is curious to remark that even with the astonishing proofs of their bravery and devotion which the army had shown, Lopez could never bring himself to repose any real confidence in his troops. The tasks which were set them were frequently superhuman. Indeed, as a rule they received the treatment of beasts rather than of men, and in order to insure the winning of his battles Lopez encouraged his officers to treat their men in a fiendish manner. Thus, when a body of men had been placed face to face with an infinitely superior force of the enemy, and were being mowed down in hundreds by deadly volleys at close range, a line of Paraguayans were frequently stationed at the rear of their own fighting forces, with the strictest orders to pour a volley into their comrades should they show any signs of retreat.

In circumstances such as these it is not to be won[Pg 259]dered at that the ranks of the sublime Lopez dwindled and became thin to the point of extermination; nevertheless, the gaps were caused by death and disease rather than by desertion. One of the most pathetic circumstances of the campaign was the deep fidelity of the Paraguayans. This was as a rule sufficiently ill-requited, as will be evident from the fate of a number of troops who, having been made prisoners by the allies, succeeded after a time in escaping and in rejoining their suffering and starving comrades. In order to keep faith in this manner they had left a neighbourhood of peace and comparative plenty. But Lopez gave them no thanks. On the contrary, he ordered them to be executed for not having returned to their regiments before!

Towards the end of the war scarcely a man of mature age and whole body was left in the ranks. These were filled largely now by youths and, indeed, mere boys. Many children of twelve and fourteen were to be found in the later stages of the war carrying their rifles and fighting with the rest, while the women of the country, including in their numbers all those of good estate and of gentle birth were, under the guardianship of lancers, set to march through the desolate forest tracts and over the countryside in order to establish new agricultural colonies. Here they were made to dig the soil and to plant cereals and sweet potatoes in order that the armies might be fed; and should any one of these women on the march fall by the wayside, her body was transfixed by the spear of one of the escort as an example to the rest. Thus the roadway was littered with the corpses of these slain women.

All this while Lopez was sufficiently busy in his own way. His dreams of Empire appear to have died hard, and not until the very end came could he be brought to believe that his armies could effect no more. He per[Pg 260]mitted his own comforts to be very little affected by the dire hardships which his troops—and, indeed, the entire nation—were undergoing. Although he refrained as much as possible from entering into the neighbourhood of the battles themselves, he took an important share in the direction of the campaign, and it was undoubtedly owing largely to his crass ineptitude in all strategical matters that many of the disasters came about. Although some of his moves were of the nature to render surrender or death inevitable to the actual combatants engaged in the grim struggle, a capitulation on the part of one of his officers was, in the eyes of Lopez, an unpardonable crime, and not only was the offending officer himself wont to be executed on account of the deed, but on several occasions his family was made to share his fate.

Seeing that the male members and connections of his own family had suffered tortures and execution at his hands, and that even his sisters had been flogged by his orders, it was not to be expected that the average Paraguayan would meet with mercy from Lopez. Certainly it is no exaggeration to say that none was ever shown unless with some special object in view. There is no doubt that a Paraguayan field-officer had, if anything, rather more to dread from his own Dictator than from his official enemy.

The end of the war, unduly protracted, came at last. The capital, Asuncion, had fallen into the hands of the allies, and Lopez, failing any other refuge, had taken his place with the last remaining body of the defenders—a ragged and tragic army, many of whom were practically nude, and very few of whom could boast anything beyond the remnants of a shirt or a hide loin-cloth. Others flaunted a crude poncho or a leather cap, while many possessed no weapons but an old flint-lock rifle or a worn lance. Although nominally an army of a thousand and[Pg 261] odd men composed this last hope, they were little more than fugitives. Nevertheless, these last atoms of the once great Paraguayan host turned and resisted grimly each time the pursuing forces came within reach of them and delivered an attack.

>Who reorganized the Chilian and Peruvian navies and destroyed Spanish naval power in the Pacific.
A. Rischgitz.

At last the few remnants of even this remnant found themselves at a spot—Cerro Cora, in the forests of Paraguay—where they were overtaken and brought to bay. There, in the face of an attack on the part of overwhelmingly superior Brazilian forces, the little party finally lost its grim determination and broke up, leaving Lopez, Madame Lynch, and their family to shift for themselves.

Madame Lynch escaped for the time being in a carriage. She had not, however, travelled far before her pursuers came up with her, and she was eventually brought back to Asuncion. Lopez, attempting to follow her from the battle-field on horseback, became bogged in the midst of some treacherous country. Here he was overtaken and, showing resistance, was slain by the pursuing Brazilians. With his death ended the first and last reason for the invasion of Paraguay.

The condition of Paraguay at the conclusion of the war was utterly deplorable. Indeed, the state of the country was one which very few lands have experienced since the beginning of history. The natural resources of Paraguay lay in agriculture. Since all the men had been engaged in fighting, and merely a few itinerant bands of weak women had been employed in this occupation in the meanwhile, the cessation of hostilities disclosed the fact that agriculture was to all practical purposes no more.

One of the few really wise moves which Lopez had made during the war was the wholesale planting of orange-trees, the growth of which was wont to flourish to an extraordinary degree in Paraguayan soil. The numerous new groves now proved, to a certain extent, the salvation[Pg 262] of the population, and the fruit was eagerly devoured. For the time being there was little else upon which the unfortunate people could live. It is true that there were fewer mouths to feed, since the population of the land at the close of the war was insignificant compared to that which the country had supported at its beginning. Thus, in 1863, the people of Paraguay had been estimated roughly as numbering 1,340,000 souls. When peace was declared there were less than a quarter of a million Paraguayans left to enjoy its benefits, and of these only 28,000 were men!

A holocaust such as this would scarcely seem to come within the range of sane and modern history. When it is realized that, roughly, only one Paraguayan out of five was left of the entire population at the end of the five years' war, the extent of the deep horrors of that period may begin to be understood, although its full tragedy can scarcely be imagined by the dwellers in more settled and peaceful countries.

It was the women of Paraguay who, having been driven at the point of the lance to labour in the fields in order to feed the army, now came forward of their own free-will in the time of peace and utter need, and heroically set themselves to agricultural toil. After a while the rich soil of the Republic yielded sufficient harvest to satisfy the attenuated population of the land, but it was many years ere anything approaching a normal state of affairs was able to assert itself.

The war, indeed, had caused every nation involved a heavy amount of blood and treasure. In some respects it is said to have served a useful purpose. The Argentines, for instance, claim that this struggle intensified the national spirit of the Republic, since it was the first modern war on a large scale in which the South American States had been concerned. It seems likely enough that[Pg 263] there is some justification for this claim. The result was, perhaps, evident in a rather lesser degree in the case of both Brazil and Uruguay.

The political effect of the campaign upon Paraguay was, of course, still more important. The allies had announced that they were fighting, not against the Republic, but against the personality of its despot, Lopez. His death marked the end of the despotic era, and, although Paraguay has suffered greatly from revolutions from that day to this, there has been no attempt at a repetition of a reign of terror.

[Pg 264]



It has already been said how, at the conclusion of the War of Liberation in Chile, Bernardo O'Higgins found himself at the head of the State. The first President was in every respect admirably fitted for his office. The post, moreover, was nothing beyond his deserts, since he, more than the majority of the other patriots, had suffered for the cause.

The youth of Bernardo O'Higgins was far more chequered than that which falls to the lot of most young men. Owing to the peculiar circumstances of his birth—his father, as a high official under the Spanish rule, had not dared perform the marriage ceremony with his colonial lady-love, Bernardo's mother—his childhood had been somewhat neglected, and his early youth largely deprived of a normal share of paternal affection. His father, nevertheless, had seen to it that the boy's education should be of a liberal order.

Bernardo O'Higgins had been one of the South Americans who, during the last days of the Spanish dominion, had been sent to study in Europe. There he came into contact with Miranda, who appears to have been almost ubiquitous at this period, and whose terrific energies seem to have absorbed all those with whom he came into contact. In any case, it is certain that Bernardo O'Higgins rapidly became a devoted adherent of Miranda, and joined[Pg 265] with enthusiasm the society that Miranda had formed for the liberation of South America; indeed, he was admitted into this before Simon Bolivar had joined it.

On his way back to South America he endured various rebuffs at the hands of the Court of Spain. Possibly he was made to suffer vicariously on his father's account, since undoubtedly there were times when the latter's policy was strongly resented by the Spanish officials. It is, on the other hand, quite possible that some suspicions of Bernardo O'Higgins's notions of independence had filtered through to Madrid. It was owing to complications of this kind that coolness ensued between him and his father, the famous Ambrose O'Higgins. On the latter's death Bernardo applied for his rights of succession to his father's titles. These were abruptly refused him. Thus, when he entered into public life in Chile it was in a comparatively humble capacity, serving as he did as Alcalde of Chillan. From this it will be seen that Bernardo O'Higgins had not only achieved much, but had suffered much in his own person.

During the War of Liberation the capacities of Bernardo O'Higgins were almost ceaselessly tried, and it must be said that they were never found wanting. The triumph of the patriot cause and the foundation of the new Republic of Chile entailed for him no period of repose. On the contrary, he now felt himself loaded with an infinitely greater weight of cares and responsibilities.

His post as President of Chile was no sinecure. He had not only to attend to the organization of the new State, but also to employ to the utmost his judgment, tact, and diplomacy, with which qualities he was so well endowed, in allaying the disputes and jealousies between the patriot leaders. There is no doubt, for instance, that but for the calming influence of O'Higgins the breach between San Martin and Cochrane would have been[Pg 266] attended with more violent results than was the case. It was the work of a veteran in statecraft to deal alone with the machinations of the brothers Carrera, those irresponsible firebrands who, although ostensibly enthusiastic in the Chilian cause, were in reality fighting for nothing beyond their own hand, and hastened to sacrifice any cause or person to their own interests. There were times, moreover, when it was necessary to suppress actual attempts at revolution, while, as though this were not sufficient, external difficulties tended to render the situation still more complicated.

Diplomatic incidents occurred with Great Britain and the United States. These arose owing to the seizure of British and American ships by the fleet of the new Republic. These captures, as a matter of fact, were perfectly justified, since the vessels in question were laden with stores and war material destined for the Spanish forces. Nevertheless, the authorities of Great Britain and the United States, although their sympathies from the very beginning of the struggle had lain so openly with the revolutionists, found it difficult to reconcile themselves to the capture of their vessels by a Power concerning the permanence of which they were not completely satisfied. No sooner were these matters settled than there broke out serious manifestations of discontent on the part of the citizens of the young State.

The cause which actually brought matters to a head, and which was responsible for the revolution which drove O'Higgins from power, was of a reactionary nature. With a considerable section of the Chilians neither O'Higgins nor the Republic was popular. Both, in fact, at this period were considered an evil second only to the detested Spanish rule. The majority of the ladies of the aristocratic classes worked strenuously against O'Higgins, and in the end revolutions burst out in Concepcion and[Pg 267] in Coquimbo, and eventually rioting occurred in Santiago itself.

O'Higgins met the situation with a characteristic calm and intrepidity. Visiting the barracks, his presence had the almost immediate effect of restoring to him the allegiance of the military. After which, invited to attend a meeting of the dissatisfied party, he hastened to the spot. Here a spokesman of the malcontents demanded in plain words that he should tender his resignation. O'Higgins, in his reply, first of all made it perfectly clear that he was in no mood to be terrorized by force or superior numbers. This latter advantage, indeed, he asserted that the gathering, however great its influence, could not claim as regards the sections it represented. After discussion, however, seeing that his own motives were purely disinterested, he consented to yield to the wishes of the meeting.

A Junta of three of the organizers of this latter was appointed, and O'Higgins initiated these into their new office, receiving from them their oath of allegiance to the constitutions of the new Republic. He then tore off his own insignia and declared himself a private citizen. The scene which followed has been admirably translated by Mr. Scott-Elliot, and his words may well be reproduced here. O'Higgins had turned to face the meeting, and addressed it in the following words:

"'Now I am a simple citizen. During my government, that I have exercised with full authority, I may have committed mistakes, but believe me when I say that they were due to the very difficult circumstances when I took up my charge, and not to evil passions. I am ready to answer any accusations which are made against me. If these faults have caused evils which can only be purged by my blood, take what revenge you will upon me. Here is my breast.' The people cried out: 'We have nothing against you, Viva O'Higgins!' 'I know well,'[Pg 268] he added, 'that you cannot justly accuse me of intentional faults. Nevertheless, this testimony alleviates the weight of those which I may have unknowingly committed.' Turning to the Junta, he added: 'My presence has ceased to be necessary here.' It was in this noble and dignified manner that the great hero of Chilian independence retired into private life. It was, perhaps, the most glorious action of his career. He could certainly have plunged Chile in a civil war, and perhaps retained the power."

After this Chile underwent a period of that unrest from which no single one of the independent States of South America succeeded in escaping. In Chile, nevertheless, although civil war occurred, and much blood was spilled, the anarchy and chaos were of far shorter duration than elsewhere. Doubtless the barrier of the Andes, which had shut off the country to such a large extent from the rest of the world, had added not a little to the tranquillity and self-reliance of the Chilian character, determined as this has always shown itself.

In any case, such revolutions as occurred failed to exercise the same baneful influence on Chilian affairs as was the case with almost every other State at that period. The condition of the Republic, although far from tranquil, might be considered as peaceful when compared with that of its neighbours. In financial matters, moreover, the Republic made astonishing progress, paying the interest on the loans raised abroad with a praiseworthy regularity, and thus maintaining her financial credit unimpaired.

The short war which occurred between Spain and the allied forces of Peru and Chile has already been referred to. Officially, the four Republics of Peru, Chile, Ecuador, and Bolivia were leagued together into an alliance to resist this aggression on the part of Spain. Owing to their lack of warships, however, the two[Pg 269] latter States were unable to take any active share in the operations. On the whole the part played by the Chilian navy was entirely satisfactory; nevertheless, the naval force of the young Republic was not sufficient to drive the aggressor's vessels from the coast, and Valparaiso was bombarded on March 31, 1866. This misfortune, like so many others, eventually proved itself something of a blessing in disguise, for from that time may be said to date the modern Chilian navy. Determined to allow no foreign nation the opportunity of bombarding any of its ports with impunity again, the Chilians energetically betook themselves to the forming of efficient national squadrons—a feat which was simple enough in the case of a nation of born sailors as are the Chilians.

The first President of the Republic of Chile.
A. Rischgitz.

From that day onwards the Chilian navy maintained its status, and continues to rank as one of the most efficient in the world. This was proved shortly after its reorganization in the war which broke out in 1879 between the Chilians and the allied Peruvians and Bolivians. Hostilities were brought about by the vexed question of the ownership of the valuable nitrate provinces. These, Chile claimed, constituted the northernmost of her territory, to which Peru retorted that they formed the southernmost portion of her land.

The naval engagements which ensued demonstrated to the utmost the high spirit of the Chilian sailor and the efficiency of the school in which he had been trained. The action in which the two small Chilian vessels, the Esmeralda and the Covadonga, fought so heroically against the Peruvian ironclads, Huascar and Independencia, was, of course, the most famous of the war, and the memory of this is jealously guarded by the Chilian navy of to-day. No question of victory on the part of Chile was ever involved in this particular action, since the miniature guns of the small Chilian vessels could,[Pg 270] under no circumstances, take effect on the Peruvians, giants by comparison. It was merely a sublime demonstration of the extent to which Chilian resistance could be carried. Thus the Esmeralda, refusing to surrender to the very last, went down after a prolonged and desperate engagement with her colours flying; while the tiny Covadonga, having lured one of her opponents into shallow water, and thus caused the Independencia to run aground, blazed away her final volleys of small shot, and retired with all the honours of war.

Inspired by examples such as these, the Chilian navy maintained its traditions to the full, and although the Peruvian sailors fought gallantly enough, they could make no headway against their opponents. On shore the fortune of war was similar, and the highly disciplined Chilian army, advancing to the north, occupied Antofagásta, Cobija, and Tocopilla. But the tide of battle was not arrested at this point. It flowed to the north again, and the deserts in that neighbourhood witnessed a number of engagements, in all of which the Peruvians and Bolivians were worsted and forced to continue their retreat. The important town of Arica was captured on June 7 after a peculiarly sanguinary engagement. Port Pisco was the next to fall, and now Lima itself, the capital of Peru, was threatened. So resolute was the Chilian advance that no efforts of the defenders could succeed in preserving the city, and on January 7, 1881, Lima fell into the hands of the Chilians.

After this the war was continued in a desultory and discouraged fashion by the allies until at the end of 1883 peace was signed, and, as has been explained in a previous chapter, Bolivia lost her coast-line, while the Chilians took over the definite ownership of the provinces of Antofagásta and Tarapacá. This latter country gained, moreover, the right of dominion over the neighbouring[Pg 271] provinces of Tacna and Arica for ten years, after which period the inhabitants of these two provinces were to decide by vote whether they should remain Chilian subjects or become Peruvians. This portion of the treaty has formed the basis of a series of disputes between Chile and Peru, but the provinces in question have continued Chilian.

In 1891 the internal peace of Chile was shattered for a while, since in that year occurred the only civil war in the modern history of the Republic. The struggle succeeded an era of some political confusion, and Balmaceda, who was President of the Republic at the time, went the length of proclaiming himself Dictator, a step which his opponents—and, indeed, the nation in general—refused to sanction. Balmaceda's party, however, was powerful, and the war which succeeded was hotly contested. After various fluctuations, Balmaceda's followers met with defeat, and the President, yielding to the inevitable, blew out his brains.

Following this last period of unrest, which the Chilians rightly maintain was both fleeting and exceptional, we come upon the quite modern history of the Republic, which shows that the Chilians, although admirably equipped for war, are now as anxious as any other country for peace and progress. This they have proved on more than one occasion, notably when the question of frontier delimitations brought about a dispute with Argentina, a dispute which both nations consented to refer to arbitration, and, an award having been given, both nations maintained it with equal loyalty.

[Pg 272]



The history of no other Republic immediately following on the period of the Wars of Liberation is quite so complicated as that of Argentina. The circumstances in the River Plate Provinces differed somewhat from those of any other part of Spanish South America. From the outset Argentina loomed more largely in the eye of Europe than did any other of the sister States. No sooner were the ports thrown open by the newly constituted Republics than the foreigners flocked to Argentine soil in numbers which were quite unknown elsewhere. The chief reasons, of course, for this influx were the temperate climate, the now acknowledged riches of the land, and the comparative ease with which access to the country was obtained.

Owing to this latter circumstance, Argentina possessed a great advantage over Chile, notwithstanding the peculiarly fine climate of the latter Republic; for the journey over the Andes was strenuous and costly in the extreme, while the voyage from Europe to the western Republic through the Straits of Magellan occupied exactly double the time required to reach Buenos Aires.

These strangers, of course, introduced many progressive ideas and new habits and luxuries into the land. In non-political matters a cosmopolitan result was soon evident. At the same time, these foreigners failed to exercise any but a most indirect influence on the internal[Pg 273] policy of the nation. This was undoubtedly perfectly correct, but in the face of the curious political situation which prevailed at this period we have the remarkable spectacle of rapid and definite progress in commercial, industrial, and private life, while at the same time the official methods of the public authorities were degenerating with a rapidity that soon brought the circumstances of government almost to a point of actual savagery.

In the first instance, men of weight and intellect, such as Rivadavia, Pueyrredon, and their numerous colleagues, had strained every nerve to place this new nation of theirs on a par with those of Europe in matters of intelligence and scientific progress. They had opened colleges, Universities, hospitals, scientific institutions, libraries, and, indeed, had endeavoured to provide the community with every instrument which could further its general progress. Every species of science was encouraged, even to the introduction of the then novel process of vaccination.

It was all in vain; the move turned out to be premature. The Spanish policy of the suppression of education and intelligence was now destined to show its baneful results. A wave of ignorance and anarchy swept over the devoted leaders of the revolution, and overwhelmed them completely, and for the time being even their work. For half a century rival chieftains rose up one after the other to contend for power. Many of them employed every conceivable means, whether human or inhuman, to retain it when once they had succeeded in grasping the coveted Dictator's throne.

So numerous were these men, and so extensive is the catalogue of their callous doings, that it is impossible to refer to them in any other but the briefest fashion here. So extensive, moreover, was the new Republic of Argentina—or, rather, at that time the collection of frequently[Pg 274] antagonistic provinces which then occupied the area now filled by the modern Republic—that a single ruler seldom succeeded in maintaining his authority from frontier to frontier.

In general, the main strife may be said to have been waged between the provinces of the littoral and those of the Far West. Of all the men who fought on either side, the greatest leader was, of course, Juan Manuel Rosas. This astonishing being, as a matter of fact, was by no means one of the first of these tyrannical Dictators. He was, on the contrary, the last, so far as Argentina is concerned, but his deeds continued to savour of an early period to the end.

Although at the time of his advent to power Rosas was merely one of a type, and found himself surrounded by a number of rival leaders, none proved himself a match for his extraordinary astuteness and influence over his neighbours. The Dictator stood out head and shoulders above any other Argentine despot of his kind. Certainly far more has been written concerning Rosas than concerning any other South American ruler of his period—that is to say, so far as Spanish literature is concerned—for, although his rule attracted a very great deal of attention in England and elsewhere in Europe for as long as it lasted, the topic appears to have been allowed to slumber since his banishment and death.

To revert, however, to the first period of the actual independence of Argentina. This was marked by almost continual warfare on the shores of the River Plate. Brazil, taking advantage of the confusion in the territories of her neighbours, had sent her armies to the south, and had occupied Uruguay, thus extending her frontiers to the long-coveted shores of the River Plate. This aggression was followed by war between Buenos Aires and Brazil, while a large section of the Uruguayans,[Pg 275] headed by Artigas, whose name is famed as the great patriot of the Banda Oriental, by which name the Republic of Uruguay is still familiarly known, fought desperately against the Portuguese troops.

Notwithstanding the very real perils which the situation held for the Spanish-speaking folk in these districts, it was not long before serious jealousies broke out between the leaders. In the end an open breach occurred between the Argentine army and a section of the Uruguayans. Artigas flung his devoted bands of soldiery alternately against the Brazilians and against the soldiers from Buenos Aires, and the more peaceful inhabitants of Uruguay watched with dismay the advent of a period of chaos.

During this period, as has been said, the Argentine statesman, Rivadavia, was working whole-heartedly towards the intellectual betterment of his country, and in this he was assisted by Alvear and others. But the warlike stress of the period cut short the majority of these endeavours. The Brazilians, anxious to conclude the war, had brought down their entire fleet to the River Plate, and they were blockading the entrance to the river and the port of Buenos Aires. At the sight of the hostile vessels the local differences were for the time being laid aside, and, war vessels being an urgent necessity, public subscriptions were eagerly forthcoming for the purchase of these.

The small Argentine fleet, when completed, was placed under the orders of that gallant Irishman, Admiral Brown, and the naval leader lost no time in forcing his attacks home upon the hostile fleet. Owing to the fury of these, the efficiency of the blockade was destroyed, although the Brazilian vessels continued in the neighbourhood for some while.

General Alvear was now appointed commander of the[Pg 276] land force operating against Brazil, and in conjunction with the Uruguayan General, Lavalleja, he assumed the aggressive, defeated the Imperial army, and was in turn about to invade the Brazilian province of Rio Grande, when he found himself obliged to abandon the project owing to the want of horses from which his army suffered.

In 1827 Rivadavia's Government fell, and after a while Manuel Dorrego, a gifted soldier and politician, found himself at the head of the State. Peace was now signed with Brazil, but on terms which the great majority of the Argentines resented bitterly, and the unrest in the Republic rapidly came to a head. Dorrego was opposed by General Lavalle, one of the most famous personalities of the period. Both parties resorted to arms. Dorrego's force was defeated and its leader captured. On this Lavalle, a brilliant and liberal-minded man, committed the gravest error of his career—one, moreover, the nature of which was entirely foreign to his character—for, after capturing Dorrego, he executed his prisoner. Reasons of State were the cause of this political crime, since no personal animosity was involved.

This act was fiercely resented by Dorrego's party in general. It brought upon Lavalle more particularly the enmity of Juan Manuel Rosas, the man of blood and iron, whose fierce star had now begun its definite ascent. An active warfare took place between the two, and although it was interrupted now and again by truces, these were of short duration, and the struggle continued almost without intermission until the death of Lavalle in 1840, when fleeing after his ultimate defeat at the hands of the opposing party. This, however, is to anticipate somewhat, since it was as early as 1829 that Rosas first took charge of the Argentine Government. While this famous leader was in the act of gradually consolidating[Pg 277] his power, the country had become divided into two main parties—the Federals and the Unitarians.


Rosas stood as the chief of the Federal party, while Lavalle and his colleagues represented the Unitarians. After a while it became evident that, so far as the capital was concerned, the influence of Rosas was supreme, and it was not long before Buenos Aires began to feel the weight of that grim personage's hand. Very soon a reign of terror commenced. The alarmed citizens discovered that all personal security was now at an end, and that the laws of the Constitution were replaced by the enactments and degrees made at the will of Rosas. All this time the latter was strengthening his position, and when the dreaded leader succeeded in establishing himself firmly in the Dictator's chair, the severity of his rule increased still more. He laid down laws, not only concerning public affairs, but also affecting the intimate private life of the citizens. Red being the Dictator's favourite colour, it followed in his mind that the nation must mould itself upon his tastes completely. Thus every citizen of Buenos Aires, in order to show his loyalty to the autocratic Governor, was obliged to wear a rosette or band of red.

This wearing of the red naturally became the custom. It was the result of no special decree, but the unwritten law was not to be denied. Indeed, did any rash inhabitant of Buenos Aires refrain from obeying it, the result of his independence was that he betrayed himself an open enemy of the Dictator, and he met with the inevitable punishment for this, which was in any case imprisonment, and possibly death. The blood-like hue, moreover, was encouraged not only in dress, but in general decorations, and even in the walls of houses, and every other object in which it could be employed.

The executions during the twenty and odd years which[Pg 278] Rosas held office amounted to many thousands. The melancholy total, indeed, would assuredly have been still further increased had not the majority of the more intellectual and of the more important colonial families fled across the frontiers and taken refuge either in Chile or in Uruguay.

The character of Rosas was strangely complex. It must not be supposed that he was nothing beyond a mere brigand and tyrant, who busied himself with executions and plunder, to the exclusion of all other occupations. He was, indeed, in many respects a man experienced in the ways of the broader world, and was able, after his particular fashion, to hold his own with European diplomats and others of the kind.

The great naturalist, Darwin, for instance, when on his visit to the Argentine Provinces, was brought into contact with Rosas, and admits that he was very struck with the personality of the leader, who in conversation was "enthusiastic, sensible, and very grave. His gravity," he continues, "is carried to a high pitch." General Rosas, as a matter of fact, appears to have possessed the happy knack of impressing favourably almost everyone whom he met, and the explanation of his policy, when recorded from his own lips, was wont to ring very differently from that given by his opponents. It is probable enough that in many respects his views were truly patriotic. His methods, on the other hand, were callous to an altogether inhuman point. It is, in any case, quite certain that the value he placed on life was altogether infinitesimal.

As time went on the power of Rosas steadily increased, and the rival chieftains one by one withdrew from the contest or met with their death in one of the wars of the age. Garibaldi himself had broken a lance in the cause of the Unitarians. Rivera and other progressive leaders[Pg 279] had fought against him in vain. There were others of the type of Quiroga, who, brought up in the same school as Rosas, although of lesser birth—for the family of the Dictator was patrician—joined him for a while in a species of tentative alliance, and then broke away—usually to their cost.

This Quiroga was one of the most noted chieftains of the interior of the distraught Republic. He had swept the western provinces with fire and sword, executing, burning, and plundering wherever he went. Had he not fallen foul of Rosas, he might have continued his grim career unchecked for years. As it was, he came in contact with a master-mind, and, as was inevitable, perished.

There are many Argentines even to-day who claim that, for all the tyranny of the Dictator, the country was none the worse for his rule, and that the régime which he introduced, however bloodthirsty and horrible, was at all events one of discipline such as the distracted collection of provinces had never known since the days of the Spanish rule. There is no doubt whatever concerning the existence of this discipline. So severe was the phase, and so vague was the slender amount of liberty left to the private citizens, that many of these latter lived at periods immured within their houses, lest by sallying forth into the street they should unwittingly offend the powers and pay the penalty.

The relations of Rosas with the foreign Powers soon grew strained. He fell foul of the French and British nations, and as a result the allied fleets arrived off the mouth of the River Plate and blockaded Buenos Aires. The outcome of this, however, was purely negative. Although the Republic suffered inconvenience from the cessation of trade, the community was self-supporting, while it was impossible, of course, for the European forces to attempt to carry on land operations. Thus,[Pg 280] after a prolonged stay in the waters of the River Plate, the blockade was raised, and the French and British fleets sailed away, having to all intents and purposes failed to achieve their object.

The extraordinary force of Rosas's character is best instanced by the length of his rule. This, as has been said, continued for over twenty years, until the year 1852. That a Dictator should have continued to hold the reins of power for this length of time in the face of the opposition and hatred which, although smothered, were rampant on every side of him was undoubtedly a most amazing feat. His political end, when it came, was a rapid one. After having humbled every aspirant who strove to challenge his power, he was confronted by General Urquiza, who had for years dominated the province of Entre Rios.

The numbers of the actively discontented had now reached truly formidable dimensions. Brazil and Uruguay both came to the assistance of those Argentines who were disposed to attempt rebellion afresh, after years of enforced and trembling peace. A large army composed of Argentines, Brazilians, and Uruguayans, under the joint command of the Brazilian Marquis de Caxias and General Urquiza, crossed the Paraná River, invaded the province of Buenos Aires, defeated Rosas's troops, and advanced on the capital. On February 3, 1852, the fateful Battle of Caseros was fought, rather less than ten miles from the town of Buenos Aires. The terrified civilian inhabitants of the town awaited the result in profound suspense. All the while the fight was raging a succession of messengers came galloping through the streets bearing contradictory fragments of news. After some hours the citizens were no longer left in doubt. The stragglers of Rosas's beaten army came pouring into the town, and it became known that the Dictator, com[Pg 281]pletely defeated, had fled. General Rosas and his daughter were received on a British warship, and sailed for Southampton, in which town the famous leader remained until the day of his death.

Urquiza was received by the inhabitants of Buenos Aires with delirious joy as the deliverer of the Republic. By means of the proclamations which he showered upon the populace he endeavoured to make it clear that he would continue in that capacity. It was not long, however, before his actions aroused the suspicions of the townsfolk. In fact, after a while it became fairly evident that Urquiza, having once found himself in the full enjoyment of power, was by no means indisposed to follow the example so grimly set by Rosas—although this possibly in a minor degree. It is true that the new chief of the Republic passed some progressive measures, including one which opened the waters of the River Plate (closed during the rule of Rosas) to foreign commerce; but the general tendency of his government was popularly held to be of the reactionary order.

Revolutions against his authority broke out, and in July of 1853, some eighteen months after the Battle of Caseros, General Urquiza was conveyed from Buenos Aires in a United States man-of-war to his head-quarters in his own province of Entre Rios, where he remained, leading a semi-private life in the enjoyment of his vast estates.

With the retirement of Urquiza we come practically to the modern conditions of the great Republic of Argentina, for General Bartolomé Mitre now came into power, and with the advent of the famous Argentine President the Republic began to assume something of its present importance. It was, however, not until thirty years later that the final differences between Buenos Aires and the other provinces were completely adjusted.[Pg 282]

The effect of this settlement was remarkable and immediate, for simultaneously with the removal of the jealousies which had hitherto reigned between the great province of Buenos Aires and its neighbours the last impediment in the path of progress vanished, and the Republic advanced with an almost startling rapidity to the importance of its present position in the world's affairs.

During all this while the small Republic of Uruguay, which had cut itself adrift from Argentina in the course of the War of Independence, had continued on a somewhat chequered and stormy career. After innumerable struggles, the dauntless little State succeeded in freeing itself from the aggressions of its powerful neighbours to the north and south. This did not suffice to put an end to internal unrest, and the rival parties—the Colorados and the Blancos—made a battle-ground of the Republic for generation after generation. Notwithstanding this, the intellectual progress of the Uruguayans has continued throughout, and the development of the national industries on a fitting scale is now proceeding.

[Pg 283]



Such history as can be claimed by the remaining Republics of South America has been achieved, from the political point of view, on a far smaller and less conspicuous scale than that of the great southern and central states. In many respects the happenings have been more strictly local, although, of course, there have been a certain number of incidents, such as that of President Castro in Venezuela, whose irresponsible conduct roused half the European Powers to take action against his country, and whose childish obstinacy was responsible for temporarily strained relations between Great Britain and the United States. This may serve as an example of what weighty influences may be brought to bear by totally insignificant causes.

Of this group of lesser Republics, however, Venezuela may well enough be taken among the last, since that State still remains one of the rapidly declining number of Republics whose affairs continue in a really backward condition. Of the remaining countries of the north, Bolivia is, it scarcely need be said, by far the most important. That the interests of this country have up to the present not been of a more cosmopolitan character is due mainly to the fact of the great difficulty experienced in the establishing of modern communications in so wealthy yet so mountainous a land.[Pg 284]

According to F. Garcia Calderon—

"Bolivia sprang, armed and full-grown as in the classic myth, from the brain of Bolivar. The Liberator gave to her a name, a Constitution, and a President. In 1825 he created, by decree, an autonomous Republic in the colonial territory of the district of the Charcas, and became its Protector. Sucre, the hero of Ayacucho, succeeded him in 1826. During the War of Independence this noble friend of Bolivar resigned from power, disillusioned; he was the Patroclus of the American Iliad."

Sucre's name is one of those most intimately and gloriously associated with the history of the youthful State. After his passing and that of Bolivar, Andreas Santa Cruz became the virtual ruler of Bolivia. Santa Cruz was a powerful chief, who feared not to shed blood in the cause of civilization, as he understood it, and who, considering the circumstances in which he found himself, proved an extremely able and enlightened President. Under his fostering care the national security became a little more assured, and the treasury of the Republic waxed.

Santa Cruz is said by some to have cherished Imperialistic ambitions. It is certain that his talents were recognized to some extent in Europe, if from no other evidence than from the fact that he received the Order of the Legion of Honour from Louis Philippe of France. There is no doubt that the new Chief-of-State realized to the full the benefits which the influx of foreigners must bring to his country. On this account he encouraged immigration from Europe. Santa Cruz, indeed, did his utmost to introduce every measure likely to increase the population of Bolivia, and, as has been explained in another place, carried his policy to the length of proposing the exclusion of celibates from all public offices.


The powerful personality of Santa Cruz soon enabled[Pg 285] him to become the virtual Protector of Peru, in addition to President of Bolivia, and he now began to organize the fusion of the two Republics into a single State. These measures were regarded with great uneasiness by the Chilians, who ultimately invaded the territory of Santa Cruz. The first Chilian expedition was defeated, but the second gained a decisive victory at Yungai in 1838, and, as a result of this battle, the star of Santa Cruz became totally eclipsed in South America. He retired to Paris, where he became the friend of Napoleon III., and where he died in 1865.

With the exile of Santa Cruz ended the first period of tranquillity enjoyed by the youthful Republic. His powerful figure was followed by many others, the majority of whom were tyrannical, some incapable, and a few whose aims were really progressive. Progress, indeed, in the vortex of the whirlpool of events which ensued was practically an impossibility. It is said that from 1825 to 1898 more than sixty revolutions burst out in Bolivia, to say nothing of intermittent foreign wars! In the course of these various struggles no less than six Presidents were assassinated, and it was not until the advent to power of Colonel (now General) Pando that the situation of the country changed definitely for the better.

In the year 1899 President Pando inaugurated civil government, and, having proved himself an able and powerful soldier, now turned his attention to the industrial and commercial status of the country. These desirable features he fostered by modern and liberal methods, which proved eminently successful, and it was during the period of his office that the first really important plans were matured for the opening up of the remoter districts by means of the railway.

The most severe blow with which Bolivia has met since[Pg 286] the foundation of the Republic in that country has been the loss of her coast-line, as the result of the unsuccessful war waged against Chile. Negotiations have on several occasions been initiated with a view to an attempt to recover some strip of the lost territory, even if no more than sufficient for the building of a port and for the accommodation of a railway-line to connect this point on the seaboard with the interior of the Republic; but, so far, none of these negotiations have been brought to a favourable issue.

Bolivia thus remains an inland State. But in spite of a disadvantage such as this, there is no doubt that the extraordinary natural wealth of the country, which must in the near future be exploited, will rapidly bring the Republic into the forefront of the South American nations from the commercial and industrial point of view.

With the exception of this and one or two other circumstances of the kind, the majority of the South American States have suffered very little frontier alteration since their first foundation. Such, however, has not been the case with the Northern States of Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela. Here, for almost half a century after the liberation of the provinces, a process of alternate fusion and disintegration continued. Thus, in 1832, the three States of Venezuela, Ecuador, and New Granada were formed. In 1863 the latter country became the United States of Colombia; but it was not until 1886 that the Republic of Colombia as it now stands was instituted.

Colombia has suffered from as many revolutions as the majority of its neighbours. General Santander, one of the many of Bolivar's lieutenants who became Presidents, was the first Chief-of-State of Venezuela. A strong ruler, he governed in comparative peace until 1831. The next important President to follow him was[Pg 287] General Mosquera, who likewise held the reins of power with a firm hand, and, with two or three breaks, ruled from 1845 to 1867. Dr. Rafael Nuñez succeeded him, and proved himself an intellectual President, who became more and more autocratic as his years of office increased. He continued, indeed, whether in the actual tenure of office or not, to exercise an influence of personal absolutism over the Republic until 1894, when he died.

His death was the signal for the breaking out of internal disturbances which his long rule had steadily kept in check. It was in 1903 that, owing to the negotiations in progress for the enterprise of the Panamá Canal, the portion of Colombia which had been chosen for the purpose of the cutting seceded from the Republic, and established itself as a separate State—that of Panamá. The new Republic immediately concluded arrangements with the United States of America, and granted concessions for the immense enterprise which is now in the act of being completed.

The history of Ecuador since the establishment of the Republic requires very little comment. In this State the proportion of the white races to the coloured is unusually small; nevertheless, this has not had the effect of checking the revolutions, of which the Republic has been extremely prolific.

General Juan José Flores stands as the chief hero of Ecuador. He it was who actually founded the Republic in 1830. Flores provides one more instance of the power of the men who stood at the helm of these new States when they were first of all launched on the stormy waters of their careers. When his fifteen years of power ended came the inevitable flock of revolutions, and Ecuador went the way of her neighbours.

A military Dictatorship endured until 1860, when Garcia-Moreno, being declared President, supported the[Pg 288] clerical influence and established a species of Dictatorship. His influence continued for many years after he had ostensibly resigned his office, and the sincerity of his acts was unquestionable. Considering that the situation of the country rendered it necessary, he resumed power and arrested various attempts at revolutions. In 1875, however, he was assassinated. A statesman of disinterested merit and high ideals, he was generally mourned by the populace.

Venezuela began its fateful career under the guardianship of General Paez, one of the principal heroes of the revolution. It was Paez who had led his Llanero cavalry so often to victory against the Spaniards, and who, as already related in these pages, had achieved the unique feat of capturing a flotilla of Spanish gunboats—or, to be more accurate, gun-barges—by means of this very cavalry. Those were certainly remarkable men who swam their horses into the river where the flotilla was anchored, and succeeded in this most extraordinary onslaught!

Paez, whose strain was half Spanish and half Indian, was intensely practical in his views of government. Caring nothing for idealists and for those who indulged in abstract theories, he severed himself abruptly from Bolivar shortly after the final patriot victories, and in the end was the chief cause of the exile of the Liberator. There is no doubt that both his views and those of the Liberator had changed considerably in the interval, for it is said that in 1826 General Paez had implored Bolivar to mount the throne of the new kingdom which it was proposed to found. The career of Paez fluctuated between a tenure of the office of President and an apparent retirement into private life, in the course of which, however, his influence and actual power remained as great as ever.

Eventually José Tadeo Monagas, who had long en[Pg 289]joyed the support of Paez, revolted against the authority of the old chief. Paez, nothing loath, accepted the challenge, rallied his followers, and marched to battle. Here he was defeated and subsequently exiled, while Monagas was left in power.

Paez eventually made his way to the United States. In his absence the condition of Venezuela became chaotic, and its populace writhed in a ceaseless frenzy of civil strife. Paez returned from the United States in 1861, and at the spectacle of the terrible condition of his country he resolved, though eighty years and more of age, to enter once again the arena of public life. He succeeded in obtaining power, but only for a short while. The spirited but tottering old man was followed by Guzman-Blanco, and died in 1873.

Guzman-Blanco was a man of education, who had enjoyed the advantage of travel in various parts of the world, and proved himself an able leader. It was not long, however, before the party of the Monagas rose in rebellion against his authority. These adherents of the Monagas were now known as the "Blues," and the party of Guzman-Blanco was christened the "Yellows."

In 1870, after various victories and defeats, Guzman-Blanco caused himself to be declared Dictator. He enjoyed immense popularity until his resignation in 1877. He was succeeded by General Alcantara, and left for Europe. On his return he found that his influence and power had already been destroyed. Placing himself at the head of a revolution, he again became chief of the State, which he continued to govern, either from within the Republic itself, or from the banks of the Seine, until 1889, when his power was finally overthrown. Blanco himself made no attempt to return to the country. He remained in Paris, where he died in 1898.

In 1895, when President Crespo was in power, a diplo[Pg 290]matic incident occurred between Great Britain and Venezuela, owing to the arrest of two British police officers, who had been detained by the Venezuelan authorities. The actual cause of the dispute resolved itself into the question of frontier delimitation, and soon the excitement in Venezuela had reached fever heat. This was by no means allayed when it became known that the United States were inclined to intervene on behalf of the minor Republic. President Crespo himself displayed admirable tact, and it was largely due to his policy that the incident had a pacific ending. It was in 1899, not long after these events, that General Crespo was slain in a skirmish with insurgents.

After a period of anarchy General Castro was elected President. Not long after his accession this President succeeded in embroiling the State with Great Britain, Germany, and Italy. The main reason for the breaking off of friendly relations was his arbitrary refusal to consider the claims of these nations on account of the damage done to the property of their subjects in Venezuela in the course of the numerous revolutions which had recently occurred.

The result of the obstinacy of General Castro was the establishment of a blockade of the port of La Guayra by the naval forces of Great Britain, Germany, and Italy in 1902. The Custom-House was seized, and the three Powers signified their intention of retaining this until satisfaction could be obtained. Upon this the matter was referred to the Hague tribunal, and awarded in favour of the three European Powers concerned.

International incidents of the kind have occurred, naturally enough, far more rarely in the history of South America than revolutions and civil war. Indeed, in the popular mind the chief feature of the Continent was, until quite recently, represented by internal strife. How[Pg 291] far from the truth is this estimate can only be judged by one who enjoys a personal acquaintance with Republics such as Argentina and Chile.

The sole centres where the phase of revolution has lingered on with an intermittent flourishing are those of the Northern Republics referred to in this chapter and the inland State of the centre of the Continent, Paraguay.

A work of history, however slight and condensed though its form may be, is no place in which to indulge in prophecy. Yet it may safely be supposed that even in these less settled Republics the age of tranquillity is now at hand. In order to justify this assertion, it is merely necessary to take a glimpse into the past, and to investigate the actual causes of these numerous revolutions which have splashed their marks so thickly on the clear road of South American progress.

A country of great natural riches and of wonderful opportunities for mankind, a dearth of population, an unusual lack of facilities of communication, and, finally, an urgent need of ready cash in the midst of material plenty—all these circumstances must necessarily tend to unrest in a land populated by inhabitants whose temperament contains an unusual measure of imagination and theoretical creative power. With the removal of these factors, the political situation tends to become tranquil, as has been proved in the case of the more progressive Republics.

It may safely be said that the South American temperament is, in itself, no more revolutionary than any other. When the material circumstances of one of these States have been brought to resemble those which prevail in a European country, the conditions of politics necessarily grow to resemble each other as well. Thus the difficulty with which the more advanced Republics are confronted is no longer one connected with rapid and[Pg 292] disorderly changes of Government and Presidents. The States in question are now too wealthy in themselves and too loaded with serious responsibilities for the possibility of such casual recurrences. The strife, in consequence, tends rather to centre itself, as in Europe, to a contest between capital and labour, and, as elsewhere in the world, strikes have taken the place of more sanguinary battles.

All this, of course, applies with greater force to some of the South American countries than to others. The vitality and power of the Continent in general is now, at all events, beginning to assert itself to the full, and in the minds of a certain number of its educated and intelligent inhabitants South America is destined in the future, however distant this may be, to become the rallying-ground of the Latin races.


[Pg 295]


Errata.—Page 188, lines 6 and 7, for "Queen Francisca Isabel," read "Queen Maria."